Duterte OKs ban on travelers from UK, 19 other countries over new COVID-19 variant – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2020   •   1130

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommended expansion of the country’s entry ban on travelers coming from the United Kingdom to cover 19 other countries amid reported cases of a new variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in these areas, Malacañang said Tuesday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said travelers from the UK are temporarily barred from entering the Philippines until January 15, 2021.

The travel ban has been extended to cover those coming from 19 other countries:

  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • Hong Kong, SAR
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Spain

Roque said the expanded travel restriction takes effect on December 30, 2020, 12:01 AM until January 15, 2021, covering all foreign travelers coming from, or transiting through, the said countries.

Passengers who are already in transit and are expected to arrive before December 30, 2020, 12:01 AM, from the 19 countries/areas listed above shall not be prohibited from entering the country but will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR test result

“The Office of the President, upon the joint recommendation of the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs, may impose restrictions to travelers coming from other countries that report the presence of the new variant of COVID-19,” Roque said.

Outbound travel to countries with reported new variants shall be subject to exiting protocols of the Philippines and the entry protocols of the respective countries, he added.

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.

Duterte, Putin vow to further enhance PH-Russia cooperation vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021

 

File Photo: (L-R) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin in a telesummit on Tuesday  to reaffirm bilateral ties of the two nations and discuss ways to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte had an “open and productive” telesummit with Putin that lasted for 30 minutes.

“President Duterte and President Putin reaffirmed their shared commitment to further enhance cooperation as the Philippines and Russia commemorate the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relations this year and vowed to cooperate in the fight against COVID-19,” Roque said.

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

The Palace said both leaders discussed the global and regional vaccine landscapes, noting that vaccines such as Russian-made Sputnik V “must be mobilized to as many countries as possible.”

Vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the country is expecting the arrival of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine doses this month. The Philippine government ordered a total 20 million Sputnik V doses.

Roque said the two chief executives stressed the importance of ramping global production and supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.

Both leaders also noted the steady progress in defense and security cooperation between the two countries, fostered by regular exchanges between defense, intelligence and military agencies.

Roque said both leaders vowed to sustain the momentum gained between the Philippines and Russia over the past five years.

“President Putin highlighted the positive trajectory of Russia-Philippines 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,” he said.

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

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