Duterte looking forward to closely working with Biden – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2020   •   530

(L-R) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President-elect Joe Biden

MANILA, Philippines –  President Rodrigo Duterte said he is “looking forward to closely working” with Joseph Biden as he congratulated the latter for winning the United States presidential elections.

“On behalf of the Filipino nation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to former Vice President Joseph “Joe” Biden on his election as the new President of the United States of America,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“We look forward to working closely with the new administration of President-elect Biden anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to democracy, freedom and the rule of law,” he added.

Roque also said that the Philippines is committed to further strengthening its ties with the US under Biden’s administration.

“The Philippines and the United States have long-standing bilateral relations and we are committed to further enhancing the relations with the United States under the Biden administration,” he said.

“Congratulations and we wish him all the best,” he added.

Democrat Biden became the 46th President of the United States after he defeated Republican Donald Trump, according to US media on Sunday.

Duterte to hold public address Thursday night – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver another public address Thursday evening (April 15), Malacañang said.

In a press briefing Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte will share details about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his “Talk to the People” later.

“Mamaya po magkakaroon ng ‘Talk to the People’ ang Pangulo. Siya na po ang magkukuwento kung ano ang nangyari sa kanilang usapan ni President Putin,” he said.

Duterte and Putin held a 30-minute telesummit on Tuesday.

Malacañang earlier said that the two leaders talked about ways to combat coronavirus pandemic and reaffirmed their shared commitment to further enhance cooperation between the Philippines and Russia.

Duterte also thanked Putin for Russia’s commitment to bolster cooperation in various areas, including fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two chief executives also stressed the importance of ramping up global production and supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.

Aside from the COVID-19 response, Duterte and Putin also discussed the “steady progress” in defense and security cooperation between the two countries, fostered by regular exchanges between defense, intelligence, and military agencies.

The Palace also said that Putin highlighted the positive trajectory of Philippine-Russia relations and emphasized the many opportunities for greater cooperation in the fields of trade and investments, agriculture, and energy development even as both countries work on further enhancing political-security cooperation.

During the telesummit, Duterte also reiterated his invitation for Putin to visit the Philippines as soon as circumstances allow, which the Russian president welcomed.

Palace respects calls to revoke EO lowering tariff of imported pork

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang respects the plan of some senators to file a joint resolution seeking the revocation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order, which temporarily reduces the tariff rates of imported pork products.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that he and Senators Cynthia Villar and Franklin Pangilinan are intent on filing a resolution to reverse Duterte’s Executive Order 128.

“The Palace respects the call of some lawmakers to revoke Executive Order No 128, which temporarily modifies the rates of import duty on fresh, chilled or frozen meat of swine,” Roque said.

The Palace official acknowledged that Congress has the authority to revoke EO 128.

“In the event that our lawmakers decide to reverse EO No 128 lowering the tariff on imported pork, such action is within the legislative power of our lawmakers. EO No 128 lowering the tariff of imported pork is only a delegated power given by Congress to the President to impose tariff rates, imports or exports pursuant to Sec. 28 par 2, Art VI of the Constitution,” he said.

“Hence, Congress may, by law, impose limitations on such delegated power or may reverse the same,” he added.

EO 128 mandates that the tariff rate for imported pork meat within quota or minimum access volume (MAV) will be reduced to 5 percent during the first three months upon the order’s effectivity, and to 10 percent during the months four to 12.

For pork imports outside the quota, the order cuts the tariff to 15 percent during the first three months upon its effectivity, and 20 percent for the months four to 12.

The EO said that the current 30 percent to 40 percent tariff rate for imported pork will be restored after the 12th month.

Duterte signed the order last week in a bid to address supply shortage, stabilize prices, and minimize the inflation rate due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

Drilon said the resolution seeks to revoke the EO  and provide for the appropriate tariff and minimum access volume of port importation.

The senator cited Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which was the basis of EO 128, stating that the law allows the President to increase, reduce or remove existing rates of import duty “while Congress is not in session.”

However, he noted that Section 1608 (f) of RA 10863 provides that “the power herein delegated to the President may be withdrawn or terminated by Congress through a joint resolution.”

“EO 128 will kill the local hog industry, not the African Swine Fever or ASF. The irrational and drastic decision to increase the minimum access volume or MAV serves as a final ‘nail in the coffin’ of the local hog industry,” Drilon said.

Roque, however, said that the president can still exercise his veto power should he raise objections in the tariff bill.

“Further, should Congress pass another bill changing the tariff on imported pork, the President may veto any particular item or items in such appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill,” he said.

“However, given the importance of the issue, the Executive and the Legislative branches can work together in protecting the interest of the stakeholders such as consumers and our hog raisers alike,” he added.

Duterte certifies as urgent 3 bills seeking to spur economic growth – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent three bills seeking to ease foreign investment restrictions and spur the country’s economic growth amid the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang announced.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte certified as urgent the following proposed measures:

  • Senate Bill 2094 or an Act amending the Commonwealth Act No. 146, otherwise known as the Public Service Act, as Amended
  • Senate Bill 1156 or an Act promoting foreign investments, amending thereby Republic Act No. 7042 otherwise known as the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, as amended, and for other purposes
  • Senate Bill 1840 or an Act amending the Republic Act No. 8762, otherwise known as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 by lowering the required paid-up capital for Foreign Retail Enterprises, and for other purposes

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on April 12, Duterte said the passage of the measure is to “address the immediate and continuing need for legislative reforms to provide a more conducive investment climate, increase job opportunities, foster more competition, and further spur the country’s economic growth.”

A copy of the letter was also furnished to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

“These bills form part of the President’s legislative reform agenda and his certification to the necessity of the immediate enactment of the aforesaid bills aims to spur the country’s economic growth by creating a business climate attractive to foreign investments while providing livelihood opportunities to our countrymen,” Roque said.

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.

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