Duterte officials, NDF consultants to hold ‘informal chat’ next week

Marje Pelayo   •   November 19, 2018   •   2358

(L-R) Fidel Agcaoili, Luis Jalandoni and President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The anticipated meeting between officials of the Duterte Administration and some consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is likely to push through next week and the venue is expected to be somewhere in Manila.

In a press statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Jess Dureza said President Rodrigo Duterte has tasked him and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo to have the “informal chat” with NDF consultants Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni.

On Sunday, Dureza left for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly and will return next week.

The two communist officials will arrive later this month in relation to their jobs as members of the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Law.

They will also have a meeting with Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjorn Jahnsen.

Norway has been the third party facilitator of the GPH-NDFP peace process. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

US Sen. Durbin renews call for De Lima’s release from detention

Robie de Guzman   •   January 9, 2020

US Senator Richard Durbin

MANILA, Philippines – United States Senator Richard Durbin renewed his call for the Duterte administration to release detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima, saying this is an “easy and honorable way forward.”

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Durbin urged the Philippine government to give De Lima a quick and credible trial instead of threatening the travel of Americans with visa requirements.

“The Duterte regime should stop threatening the travel of Americans and so many others who travel between our nations, and instead ensure a quick and credible trial for Senator de Lima or simply do the right thing and release her,” he said.

Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Philippine government would require all Americans to secure a visa before entering the country should the US government enforce the ban on Filipino officials said to be involved in De Lima’s detention.

The Philippine government also ordered the Bureau of Immigration to deny entry to Durbin and Senator Patrick Leahy.

It was Leahy and Durbin who pushed for the inclusion of a provision in the US 2020 budget banning the entry of Philippine officials linked to the detention of the Filipino senator.

Another American senator, Edward Markey, has also been banned from entering the Philippines for filing a resolution calling for De Lima’s release.

De Lima, one of Duterte administration’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade while she was Justice Secretary. She has repeatedly denied the charges.

Panelo reiterated that De Lima’s detention was not a case of political persecution, insisting that the senator was afforded due process and that there is a “probable cause” to issue a warrant for her arrest. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Formal peace talks with Reds likely to resume in January – Bello

Marje Pelayo   •   December 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The government intends to resume the formal peace talks with the communist group come January next year.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III who serves as the government’s chief negotiator, the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would probably resume on the second or third week of January.

NDFP is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founded by activist Jose Maria ‘Joma’ Sison who is now in exile in the Netherlands.

Over the weekend, Bello was able to talk to Sison who responded favorably to President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer for both parties to return to the negotiating table.

In line with this, Bello said the CPP may declare a truce on December 20 or 21.

Though Sison agreed to the resumption of the peace talks, he wants it done on a neutral venue.

In a recent interview, Sison said he could meet President Duterte in person but he wanted to have legal and political guarantees that he’d still be protected under the provisions of the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Though the meet-up is a remote possibility, Sison said, it may not happen in the Philippines but “maybe in a nearby country.”

NEDA sees poverty incidence to reduce further by 2022

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019

Filipinos walk past shanties at a slum area in Manila, Philippines, 27 February 2019 (issued 13 June 2019). The metropolitan area of Manila has the largest slum area in the world, home to some four million people, a third of the inhabitants of the city, according to studies conducted by humanitarian organizations. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration is confident that more Filipinos will be able to recover from poverty before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

This, despite the recent report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on the slowdown of poverty incidence in the country in 2018.

Based on the report, almost 6 million Filipinos already have improved their living from 2015 to 2018.

This translates to a 6.7% drop in poverty incidence in the country from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018.

Poverty incidence is the proportion of the poorest population which receives income lower than what they need to support their basic needs such as food, healthcare, and education among others.

According to the government’s estimate, a family of five members should at least earn P10,700 a month to support their food and non-food requirements.

Socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia expressed confidence that before 2022, poverty incidence in the country will further decrease.

“If you let poverty incidence, which is by 16.6% now, drop by 2.23 percent a year, then we will hit I think something like 11 or even less than that,” Pernia said.

The administration believes that job generation and policy reforms such as institutionalizing the conditional cash transfer, unconditional cash transfer, and an intensified family planning program, helped reduced poverty incidence in the country. — MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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