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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2019   •   1279

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte made no mention of federalism and charter change in his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22 (Monday).

Since 2016, Duterte has been pushing Congress to pass the proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution and the shift to federalism government. But in his 2019 SONA, he skipped these issues when he addressed lawmakers of the 18th Congress.

In a media interview after his speech, Duterte explained it was not the proper time to tackle the issue. He also said that the shift to a federal form of government could be up for the next president to complete.

“Federalism is good but there are certain things that need to be very clear. It devolves a lot to the local government. It’s something that the President, not I… I suppose it could come after me,” he said.

The president further said that the federal system needs to have a strong president to put the country together.

“With regard to federal, it’s a very loose structure. One has a lot of power locally. So, the president will have to have it until such time that we have perfected it. There has to be a strong president with the same powers now,” he said.

“I’m out of it because I think it will pass beyond my time,” he added.

Duterte has been pushing for federalism ever since he became president three years ago.

It was among his many campaign promises, believing the shift would bring lasting peace and prosperity in the country particularly in Mindanao.

When prodded, the chief executive said he is still pushing for federalism but its discussion is “better left in conferences that are not allowed to be open to the public.”

He added that he preferred a one-time overhaul of the Constitution, rather than amending it by provision.

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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