Duterte laid proposed charter change to rest – Drilon

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2019   •   1232

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believes that President Rodrigo Duterte has already laid the proposed Charter change to rest when he left it out of his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Drilon said the president’s silence on federalism indicates that charter change is not a priority of the Duterte administration anymore.

“What’s more telling in the President’s speech is not what he said but what he did not say. That speaks volumes. For me, the non-inclusion of federalism indicates that the Cha-cha was laid to rest yesterday. The SONA became Cha-cha’s ‘final resting place,'” Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

Duterte has been pushing for federalism and charter change since he came to power in 2016. But during his media interview after the SONA on Monday night, the president said federalism and the proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution may not happen during his term.

READ: Duterte leaves out Cha-cha, federalism in 4th SONA

House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano earlier said he would push to extend the term of office of lawmakers.

But based on the chief executive’s statement, Drilon said those who have plans to revive Charter change in the 18th Congress “should better think twice.”

“It will be an exercise in futility,” he said.

Meanwhile, the senator also expressed support to some of Duterte’s “wish-list” to Congress, except for his call to reimpose the death penalty in the country.

“We do not agree that death penalty is the solution to our illegal drugs and corruption problems. Death penalty is anti-poor,” Drilon said, adding that what needs to be done is strengthen the country’s justice system which he describes as “weak,” and “very prone to error.”

“We may not always see eye to eye with the President on certain issues, but in terms of legislation that will benefit the country, we are always ready to support him,” he further said.

The lawmaker said he is supporting Duterte’s proposed salary standardization law, the increase in teacher’s salary and the creation of a water department.

He said two of his pet bills call for the increase in the salary of teachers and the creation of the Philippine Water Commission to manage and regulate the country’s water resources.

Drilon also said they are also ready to examine all the other measures stated in the SONA.

“We are willing to listen and take a look at the proposals on the proposed tax reform law, the Land Use Act and the creation of the disaster management department,” he said.

Senate OKs bill giving Duterte power to delay class opening during public crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte ‘flexibility’ to schedule the opening of classes in schools during a state of emergency.

Voting 23-0, senators on Monday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1541, which proposes to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act 7797, a law which sets the opening of school-year as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the country.

Once enacted into law, the bill would authorize the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education, to set the opening of classes nationwide or in selected areas at any date during a state of emergency or calamity.

A similar measure has been approved in the committee level in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The approval of the proposed measure comes amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected millions of people worldwide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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