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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2019   •   648

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.

Palace: Duterte in good health, went motorcycle-riding over the weekend

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

File: President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health despite being out of the public eye for more than a week now.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement amid concerns on Duterte’s health and absence in the past week.

He added that Duterte even went for a motorcycle ride in Davao City over the weekend.

“In fact, he shared to me yesterday, sabi nya, ‘Alam mo ba na I went out sa motorsiklo?’ Nag motorsiklo daw siya sa subdivision niya. Hindi ko na alam kung kahapon yun o the day before,” he said.

“It only shows na kung nakaka-motor siya, he’s in good health,” he added.

Duterte was last seen in public on August 9 when he attended a police event in Camp Crame in Quezon City.  

Panelo said that when not attending any public engagement, the chief executive deals with paperwork and private meetings.

“Ang sabi niya, marami siyang trabaho na mga papeles, binabasa niya isa-isa. Hindi siya makapirma ng hindi niya thoroughly reading these papers,” Panelo said.

“At the same time, meron siyang mga private meetings and courtesy call,” he added.

The president’s health has been a recurring issue given his age.

At 74, Duterte is the oldest to be elected Philippine president in history.

He previously revealed he was suffering from Barret’s esophagus or medically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, as well as perpetual pain due to a spine injury and constipation. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte won’t interfere in Cardema-Guanzon row – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

File: President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday said that President Rodrigo Duterte will not interfere with the row between Duterte Youth Party-list nominee Ronald Cardema and Commission on Elections (Comelec) Rowena Guanzon.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Cardema and Guanzon’s feud is between the two of them.

He added that the president will not meddle in the issue as he respects the independence of Comelec and other constitutional bodies.

“The case between Mr. Cardema and Commissioner Guanzon, I think it’s between the two of them,” he said.

“Moreover, the President respects the independence of any constitutional body. The President has not and will not interfere on any function of the Commission as well as other constitutional bodies,” he added.

Guanzon has been vocal about her opposition to Cardema’s nomination as the Duterte Youth Party-list representative and accused the latter as the one behind the threats against her.

Cardema, in turn, accused Guanzon of extortion, which she denied.

The Commissioner also dared the former to file an impeachment case against her.

READ: Comelec 1st division cancels Cardema’s nomination as Duterte Youth party rep

The feud between the two follows the decision of the poll body’s first division to cancel Cardema’s nomination as representative of the Duterte Youth party because the law states that youth representatives must be from 25 to 30 years old.

Instead of having word war, Panelo advised Cardema to file an appropriate complaint against Guanzon to settle the issue. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Bounty raised to P6-M for the capture of suspects in Negros Oriental killing

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte raised the cash reward to P6-M for the capture of the leader of the criminals who killed four policemen in Negros Oriental.

The government alleged the leftist New People’s Army (NPA) as the group behind the ambush.

The President said he is willing to shed that amount to anyone, may it be government worker or civilian, who could lead to the capture of the killers.

“Kaya itong NPA, galit ako dito. Kaya gusto kong malaman kung sila na ba (I am mad at these NPAs. I want to know if they really did it),” president Duterte said at the oath-taking ceremony for newly promoted PNP generals at Malacañang Thursday night (August 8).

“Kay kung hindi pa sila, dadagdagan ko pa ng isang milyon (If it’s not them, I’m willing to add one million [pesos)]more). So at this time, it is P6 million. Irrespective police or civilian, kung sinong makatiklo niyan, (to whoever who could capture them)” he added.

President Duterte expressed outrage over the killing and alleged torture of four police officers which local police attributed to the members of the NPA.

Meanwhile, the President said he is ready to provide the PNP with enough intelligence fund to intensify its operations against the proliferation of cocaine.

“Bakit marami ngayon ang cocaine? (What’s behind proliferation of cocaine?) Give me the answer,” he said.

“I’ll give you enough money for intelligence work. Spend it so that you can solve the problem. Magbibigay ako ng (I’ll add to your) intelligence fund. Just enough,” the President concluded. – with reports from Roselie Coz

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