Duterte not endorsing anyone for House Speaker; lets congressmen decide

Marje Pelayo   •   June 26, 2019   •   549

President Rodrigo Duterte. | ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The race for the next speaker of the House of Representatives (HOR) gets more intense less than a month before the 18th Congress formally opens.

Government allies have been waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte to make a decision on who he thinks the next speaker should be who could help him push his administration’s legislative agenda.

During the oath taking ceremony at Malacañang on Tuesday (June 25), President Duterte asked newly elected congressmen to give him until June 28 to make a decision.

However, the President seems to prefer not to endorse anyone for the speakership post.

In his speech, President Duterte said he asked House Speaker Gloria Arroyo to choose her own successor.

The conversation, he said, happened during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s thanksgiving party.

The President said he asked Arroyo to spare him the burden of having to choose among his friends who were vying for the post.

“Sabi ko, ikaw na ang mamili ng speaker, (I told [Arroyo] to choose a speaker for me),” the President said.

“Tinawag ko si Cayetano, Alvarez, si Velasco, si Bebot na hindi naman lumapit. ‘Mamili ka na, ma’am,’ sabi ko, ‘hindi ako nagbobolahan.'”

(I called Cayetano, Alvarez, Velasco and Bebot. I told her, “You choose, ma’am. I am not joking.”)

“‘I will ask a favor from you [Arroyo]. Huwag mo na akong bigyan ng sakit ng loob (Don’t make it hard for me) because they are all my friends. I do not want to hurt anybody lalo na iyan. Ikaw na lang, tutal ikaw ang pinaka-senior dito, (I’ll let you do it, after all, you are the most senior here),” he added.

President Duterte did say that the incumbent Speaker refused to choose the next House leader for him.

He then told the congressmen to pick their leader themselves and make their decision.

“You have to decide. You can do it by party (or) affiliation. You can take out of Hugpong for the meantime because it’s just a foisted political party for the purpose of election,” the President said.

“Huwag na lang akong isali ninyo, (Just spare me),” he concluded.

Palace opposes Urban Dictionary definition of ‘Duterte’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

The Malacañang refuted the Urban Dictionary for defining ‘Duterte’ as ‘to scam, trick, or con.

During a press briefing on Tuesday (Aug 20), Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will seek to counter the definition on the website.

“‘Duterte’ to us means honest, incorruptible, politically-willed person, courageous, selfless, honest, transparent and all good things…and other synonymous terms,” Panelo said.

The definition was uploaded by an unknown internet user one month ago. Urban Dictionary is crowd-sourced online dictionary for slang words and phrases.

Panelo suspects, the uploader might be a member of anti-Duterte groups.—AAC

Malacañang leaves it to PAO Chief to decide on resigning amid corruption complaint

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is letting Atty. Persida Acosta to decide on whether or not to resign as Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) following complaints of corruption.

PAO lawyers filed the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman accusing the PAO Chief and forensics chief Erwin Erfe of corrupt practices in relation to the disbursements and allocation of the PAO budget.

Acosta and Erfe allegedly committed a ‘systematic scheme’ in diverting P13 million of the agency’s budget for office supplies for drafting Dengvaxia-related cases.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said that knowing President Rodrigo Duterte, his trust in his officials remains unless reports of irregularities are proven.

“Si President, hangga’t walang findings of probable cause, palaging andun ang trust (President (Duterte’s) trust on a person remains unless there is no finding of a probable cause),” Panelo said.

“Pero kung may probable cause na, ibang usapan iyon, then there will be suspension galing sa Ombudsman. Hindi naman teritoryo ni president iyon (But once a probable cause is established, that’s a different story. There will be suspension coming from the Ombudsman. It is no longer the President’s territory),” the Palace Spokesman concluded. – MNP (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Malacañang wants China to explain ‘offending passage’ of warships in Sibutu Strait

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang wants Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua to explain the unauthorized passage of Chinese warships in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi which the Philippine government considers as “offending”.

The Philippine military couldn’t consider it an ‘innocent passage’ because the vessel maneuvered and the crew turned off the vessel’s automatic identification systems (AIS) perhaps to avoid being noticed.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo said he will definitely raise the matter to Ambassador Zhao.

“We will call their attention,” he said.

“The Chinese ambassador invited me for a dinner one of these days and maybe I will raise that to him,” he added.

The Palace stressed such unauthorized move was a clear violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Violation ng UNCLOS iyan kung dumaraan sa ating EEZ (That’s violation of the UNCLOS if they pass/enter our EEZ),” Panelo said.

“I’m sure the DFA Secretary will do something about that,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to travel to China later this month and according to Panelo, President Duterte maintains he will insist The Hague’s arbitral ruling with Chinese President Xi Jinping even if China is not accepting the decision. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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