Duterte laid proposed charter change to rest – Drilon

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2019   •   644

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.

Drilon seeks Senate probe on reduced sentence of convicted rapist ex-Mayor Sanchez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said he will file a resolution calling on the Senate to probe the reduction of sentence of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez, a rape and murder convict.

Drilon questioned the applicability of the Republic Act 10592 to Sanchez who was previously reported to have been involved in the smuggling of illegal drugs and other contrabands inside his jail cell.

“Ang balita ay involved siya sa drug trade sa Muntinlupa. Paano naman nakaroon siya ng allowance for conduct of good behavior? Ang balita pa natin ay mayroon siyang aircon sa kaniyang kulungan. Paano naman naging good conduct ito?” Drilon said in media interviews.

Drilon cited the allegations of possession of illegal drugs against Sachez in 2006 when a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. In 2010, he was again caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu.

Five years after, authorities seized an air conditioning unit and a television set from his cell.

Drilon said he wondered how the Bureau of Pardon and Parole arrived in its computation of Sanchez’s good conduct time allowance.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) spokesperson Sonny del Rosario said that the convicted mayor has already served 48 years following the computation of his good conduct time allowance.

“Paano natin mako-consider na good behavior ‘yun? Is Mayor Sanchez really qualified under RA 10592? This is a question of fact, so it is best for the Department of Justice to put on hold its decision until these issues are resolved,” the senator said.

Sanchez was convicted in 1995 for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez. He has been in jail for 25 years for seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

Drilon was the country’s Justice secretary during Sanchez’s conviction.

“I became close with the Sarmenta family in our efforts to put behind bars Mayor Sanchez and his men. I felt sorry for the Sarmenta and Gomez families. This has reopened old wounds,” he added.

The lawmaker appealed to the Department of Justice to put on hold the release of Sanchez pending the review of his qualifications.

“We appeal to the Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra to hold the release of Sanchez and to review and study carefully if, number one, Sanchez is really entitled to the benefits of RA 10592; and, number two, if he has really exhibited good conduct while he is in prison,” he said.

Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to decide on banning online gambling in PH amid China’s call – Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday (August 21) said it is up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the operations of online gambling in the country.

“We have to ask the President on this policy or issue,” Panelo told reporters.

“Hindi natin alam kung may possibility or wala. We have to ask the President,” he added.

On Tuesday (August 20), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has called on the Philippine government to ban all forms of online gambling.

“We have also taken note of the Philippine government’s announcement and appreciate it,” he said in a press conference in Beijing.

“We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” he added.

Defense officials expressed concern over proximity of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) near military camps arguing the possibility of Chinese workers becoming spies for Beijing.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), meanwhile, has already stopped accepting applications for POGO licenses in the country unless underlying issues are settled.

But Panelo noted that online gambling remains legal under Philippine law.

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