Duterte mulls forming new panel to talk peace with Reds

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2019   •   2895


President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on April 13, 2019. (Photo: Joey Dalumpines|Presidential Photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed willingness to create a new panel to talk peace with Communist rebels.

Duterte made the remark nearly a month after he abolished the previous government peace panel and terminated the appointments of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and three others as government peace negotiators.

READ: Duterte ends appointment of Bello, 3 others as gov’t peace negotiators

The President said he might tap three military representatives and two civilians to comprise the new peace panel.

“Pero makigistorya ka, magpadala ko’g laing tao, pag-istorya mo. Di na ko,” he said during a visit to Bukidnon last Saturday.

(If you want to talk to me, I’ll send someone else. You talk to each other. I don’t want to talk anymore.)

“’Di mangita ko’g bag-o. Bag-ong paagi, bag-ong tawong makig-istorya. Basig duha, o usa, o tulo ana militar. Unya ang… Mga lima. Duha ka sibilyan, tulo ka military,” he added.

(I’ll look for another way and new people to talk to. Maybe one, two, or three from the military, and… Maybe around five. Two civilians and three from the military.)

The Chief Executive also explained that he abolished the previous government peace panel since the talks with the communist rebels were not successful.

“Katong peace panel, ako nang gibuwag. Dugay na eh. Three years, wala koy nahimo,” he said.

(I abolished the peace panel too. It’s been three years but I wasn’t even able to achieve anything.)

Duterte permanently terminated the formal negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA) in November 2017 following a string of attacks staged by the NPA rebels against government troops.

The President said that rebels could try to talk peace with his successor instead and the government will focus on conducting localized peace engagements. – Robie de Guzman

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)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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