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

Marje Pelayo   •   November 19, 2018   •   2255

(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)

3 years after PH arbitral win vs. China: Duterte admin did nothing to enforce it —Carpio

Marje Pelayo   •   July 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – July 12, 2019, marks the third anniversary of the Philippine’s arbitral win against China’s historical claims on the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling thus invalidated China’s so-called ‘Nine-Dash Line’ – the undefined demarcation line that encircles as much as 90 percent of the disputed waters in the area.

The Duterte administration downplayed the victory in hopes of building stronger ties with China and preferred to offer diplomacy rather than further escalating the tension by sending military troops to the disputed waters, even amid reports of harassment against Filipino fishermen and the Chinese destroying and exploiting the Philippines’ marine resources.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal expressed deep concern on the continuous deterioration and massive destruction of the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has to stop and we have to get serious,” the Director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea appealed.

“And we’re not talking about going to war. We’re talking about simple things like stopping the destruction of a common pool resource that would benefit us all,” he added.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, acknowledge that war is not an option in the West Philippine Sea row as the Constitution forbids.

But Carpio blamed the Duterte administration’s inaction, accusing it of using such provision of the law to instill fear among Filipinos as if the Philippines has no other option but to obey with what China offers.

“This administration has done nothing whatsoever to enforce the arbitral award,” Carpio said.

 “I don’t see positive in the enforcement of the award,” he added.

The magistrate appealed to President Duterte not to formalize his verbal agreement with China’s Xi Jinping in his upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) that allows Chinese fishermen to fish within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country in the WPS.

Carpio said, once Duterte formalizes the agreement, the Philippines would be bound and that would weaken the Arbitral ruling.

“If the President will confirm it in his SONA, I mean, we cannot get out of that anymore. So, we’re bound by that, we have to honor that. So, that means China can fish in an area 59 times larger than Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio argued.

Malacañang stressed that the President considers his agreement with Xi as legally binding, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. insisted that it cannot be executed because there is no written document to attest the deal.

For her part, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the issue will still depend on how the President delivers the matter during his SONA.

She calls on Filipinos to stand for the country’s rights no matter what happens.

“Let us not be scared by all the propaganda that we hear. Because if we do, walang mangyayari (nothing will happen),” Morales said.

“Be brave,” she concluded. – with details from Harlene Delgado

Building of LRT-1 Cavite extension project kicks off

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2019

The 4G mock-up of the 4-car light rail vehicles for the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project before the unveiling ceremony on Tuesday (May 7, 2019) in Las Piñas City.

The construction of the Light Rail Transit line-1 (LRT-1) Cavite extension finally kicked off on Tuesday (May 7), nearly five years after it was awarded to Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC).

A ceremony was held in Parañaque City to mark the beginning of the actual construction of the 11.7-kilometer railway extension of LRT-1.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Monday (May 6), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) clarified that Tuesday’s ceremony was conducted to signal the project’s full-blast construction and that its groundbreaking ceremony was actually held back in May 2017.

Sa wakas, magsisimula na ang ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION ng LRT-1 Cavite Extension!Excited na kaming simulan ang pagtatayo ng…

Posted by Department of Transportation – Philippines on Sunday, 5 May 2019

“Ang isinagawa noong May 2017 ay isang groundbreaking ceremony kung saan minarkahan natin ang simula ng pre-construction activities para sa LRT-1 Cavite Extension. Isang masalimuot na problemang inayos ng Department of Transportation (DOTr) at Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) sa pre-construction phase ng proyekto ay iyong tinatawag na Right of Way Acquisition (ROWA),” the statement read.

The DOTr said the project construction was delayed due to issues on right-of-way acquisition which began in 2007.

“Noong pumasok ang kasalukuyang administrasyon noong July 2016, 0% pa lang dito ang na-certify na “Free and Clear” ng Independent Consultant. As in zero. Pero hinabol natin ito, at sa wakas ay nagawa rin,” it added.

The agency also said they have since addressed issues fronting the project, including the relocation of informal settlers, utilities and the clearing of the construction yard.

“Maliban sa ROWA, nakumpleto natin ang relocation ng Informal Settler Families (ISFs), utilities, at ang paglilinis ng construction yard,” DOTr said.

The LRT-1 extension will start from Baclaran in Parañaque City to Bacoor, Cavite. It will consist of eight stations: Redemptorist, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Avenue, Asia World, Dr. Santos, Las Piñas, Zapote, and Niog.

The DOTr said the railway extension’s partial operability is targeted to start within the fourth quarter of 2021 when the construction is completed.

The agency added it has prepared all the project requirements, including the mock-up of 120 Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) which were delivered in January 2019.

“Lahat ng kinakailangan para matuloy ang proyektong ito ay nakahanda na. Ang 120 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs), na kung saan na-deliver na ang mock-up nito noong January 2019, ay on-track nang maipapadala para sa pagsisimula ng partial operations ng extension line sa 4th Quarter ng 2021,” it said.

“Napirmahan na rin nitong February 2019 ang kontrata para sa expansion ng Baclaran Depot at pagtatayo ng bagong Zapote Depot, at handa nang simulan ang mga ito,” it added.

The DOTr is also poised to begin the building of viaducts and stations of the LRT-1 Cavite extension to be managed by the LRMC.

“Ready na rin ang pagtatayo ng mga viaduct at mga istasyon sa pangangasiwa ng Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), dahil certified na as “FREE AND CLEAR” ng Independent Consultant (IC) ang mahigit 90% ng Right of Way (ROW) ng Package 1,” the agency said.

The LRMC, for its part, said it will make use of a freecast yard system to prevent heavy traffic while the construction is ongoing.

“’Yung construction methodology po ay gumagamit ng freecast yard system, so ‘yung freecast components po ‘no ay hindi dadalhin sa street level po, hindi gagamitin sa wala pong traffic,” LRMC chief executive officer and president Juan Felipe Alfonso said during the ceremony.

Once the LRT-1 Cavite Extension is operational, the daily passenger traffic is expected to expand to 800,000 from the current 458,000.

The travel time will also be reduced by more than half, from one hour and 10 minutes to 25 minutes. (with details from Benedict Samson)

PCOO Chief: Duterte admin to continue respecting PH press freedom

Robie de Guzman   •   May 3, 2019

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar

MANILA, Philippines – The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will continue to respect press freedom in the country, Malacañang assured as the public marked the World Press Freedom on Friday (May 3).

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement that the Duterte government has been implementing programs that would protect members of the media, contrary to allegations of the President’s critics.

“Asahan niyo po na patuloy na irerespeto ng Duterte administration ang press freedom sa bansa taliwas sa mga alegasyon ng iilan.” Andanar said.

(You can expect that the Duterte administration will continue to respect the press freedom in the country, contrary to the allegations of some)

“Ilan lamang po sa mga patunay na iginagalang at pinoprotektahan ng administrasyon ang mga mamamahayag sa bansa ay ang Presidential Task Force on Media Security o PTFoMS na agad na nilagdaan ng pangulo sa unang mga buwan ng kanyang pamamahala,” he added.

(Among the initiatives that will prove that the administration respects and protects media practitioners in the Philippines is the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security or PTFoMS which he immediately ordered in his first months in office)

Duterte, in October 2016, signed his first Administrative Order 1, which created the presidential task force on violations of the right to the liberty and security of the members of the media.

For his agency, Andanar assured to intensify their campaign against disinformation and the proliferation of false reports.

“Tayo naman po sa PCOO ay patuloy ang kampanya natin laban sa disinformation o pagpapakalat ng fake news sapagkat isa po ito sa sumisira sa malayang pamamahayag,” he said.

(We at the PCOO will continue to campaign against disinformation or the spread of fake news as this is one of the factors that destroys freedom of expression)

“Tayo naman po ay kaisa ng lahat ng mediamen sa bansa at sa buong mundo sa pagsusulong at pangangalaga sa karapatan sa press freedom,” he added.

(We are one with the all the mediamen in the country and the world in pushing and protecting for the right to press freedom)

President Rodrigo Duterte has been under fire for openly criticizing several media organizations and even threatened to block the renewal of franchise of one of the country’s biggest media networks.

He also recently lambasted a group of investigative journalists for allegedly conspiring with other critical groups in a bid to ruin his family’s reputation.

READ: Duterte hits PCIJ for report on family’s wealth

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), meanwhile, called on its colleagues to remain courageous despite the government’s alleged suppression of the press.

“On this day, let us, the community of independent and critical Filipino journalists, reflect on our role in the preservation and advancement of democracy, and rededicate ourselves to defending our rights and liberties that we may continue serving our people’s right to know,” the NUJP said in a statement.

“Let us take courage in the knowledge that no matter how despots strive to stifle freedom of expression and thought, the media, the truth, the people, will outlive them,” the group added.

The group claimed that Duterte is the only president in the country’s history that has openly led the attacks against media, with the help of “the venal and corrupted within the profession.”

“As we mark this day, we note that, more than any administration since the unlamented Marcos Dictatorship, never have freedom of the press and of expression been under siege as during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte,” the NUJP said.

“Never has any president, Marcos included, openly spearheaded the attacks and vilification of media. We have also seen how he and his minions wield the lie as a weapon against the profession of truth,” it added.

With the recent release of the alleged “ouster matrix,” they also accused Duterte of upping “the ante and signaled that he will go to absurd lengths to stifle the independent and critical media.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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