Duterte orders PH Coast Guard to patrol Batanes Islands

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2019   •   785

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct patrol operations in Batanes islands to ensure that these areas would “remain ours.”

During a situation briefing with local officials, Duterte asked the PCG to guard and patrol the islands from time to time in light of China’s reclamation activities near the Philippine waters.

“You might want to ask the Coast Guard to — pumunta dito, mag-istambay lang, palit-palit lang, (go here, stay a bit, switch every now and then) to patrol the island from time to time,” he said.

“Not every day, but just to assure that those islands will remain ours,” he added.

China has been claiming ownership in the South China Sea, refusing to follow the 2016 international arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claims. Other claimants to the disputed waters are Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The chief executive also expressed interest in upgrading the runways at the Batanes airport to make the delivery of relief supplies easier and “for national security reasons.”

“It could be a very crucial factor in the days to come. Not in our generation, but malay mo… it would be good to be prepared so that if we have to defend those islands there, you have to have a launching deck somewhere here,” Duterte said.

Batanes has two runways – one in the island of Batan in the provincial capital of Basco and another in the island of Itbayat which is used by small aircraft. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Robredo’s ICAD position not a Cabinet rank – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s role as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD) is not a Cabinet-level position, Malacañang said.

In a message to reporters on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo is not a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet and that the post she was recently given was not a Cabinet rank.

“The post she was appointed to is not a Cabinet level. The discretion to appoint her as a member of the Cabinet, in addition to her appointment as the anti-illegal drug czar lies with the President,” he said.

Early this month, Robredo accepted the task to co-lead the government’s campaign against drugs, which the Palace previously said is a Cabinet-level position.

However, Panelo earlier said that Robredo will be invited to attend Cabinet meetings if the issue to be discussed will be about the government’s war on drugs.

Robredo earlier said she will only attend Cabinet meetings if she is invited, adding that it was not specified whether her new task is a Cabinet position when she received the appointment.

Prior to Panelo’s message, Duterte said in an interview with GMA on Monday that he did not designate Robredo as part of his Cabinet.

“I have not signed an appointment designating her as a cabinet,” the president said. “You know why? Early on she was talking right and left that she would talk to this and talk to that.”

“In the Cabinet meeting, we talk about what’s happening. Eh kung marinig nya yan dyan tapos dadaldal niya sa labas?” he added.

“Unang-una, Leni hindi tayo magka-partido. Hindi ako suspetsoso pero kung may makita ka diyan para ibuhos mo sa akin o ibigay mo doon sa iba para ibuhos sa akin… ‘Yan ang problema. Kung kapartido tayo, walang problema,” he said.

Robredo earlier gave assurance she would not divulge any classified information on the government’s war on drugs.

“Iyong assurance naman, lahat ng sensitive information hindi idi-disclose,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace: Duterte is now in the ‘green of health’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 18, 2019

Malacañang has announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is experiencing sickness due to old age and is now in the “green of health”, not pink.

On Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president, who is now 74 years old, is “not normal” when it comes to his health.

“Hindi siya normal kasi nga, ang dami niyang nararamdaman. Kumbaga, kung sinabi ko noon na (He is not normal because he has a lot of illnesses. It’s like, if I said then) he was ‘in the pink of health’, ngayon (now) I think he is now ‘in the green of health’,” he said.

However, Panelo said despite these illnesses, Duterte continues to do his duties as the chief executive.

“If you will notice, kahit na ganyan siya, may nararamdaman, iyong kaniyang schedule ganoon pa rin, hindi pa rin nagbago (Even if he is experiencing illnesses [due to old age] his schedule remain unchanged), not only does he survive but he does it well,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

13 missing after boat sinks near Bajo de Masinloc; search ops underway – PCG

Robie de Guzman   •   November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Around 13 Filipino fishermen went missing after their boat sank near Bajo de Masinloc in Zambales last week, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the PCG said it is currently conducting operations to search for the missing fishermen of “FFB Three Sister.”

The agency said the fishing vessel sank on Nov. 7 at around 3 a.m. as it was sailing from Recto (also called Reed) Bank going to Barangay Sisiman in Mariveles, Bataan.

Strong winds and huge waves brought about by Tropical Cyclone ‘Quiel’ allegedly caused the boat to sink.

A few days after the incident, a fisherman named Angelito Epetito Jr. was rescued after he was found floating using a container along Bajo de Masinloc.

The PCG said the boat mishap was only reported to its station in Bataan through a radio communication on Nov. 11, adding that a team was immediately deployed after it received the information.

The rescued fisherman said he got separated from his companions and was unable to regroup with them.

He said he remained afloat for four days until rescue came.

The PCG said it has dispatched three of its floating assets – the BRP Tubbataha, BRP Capones and the BRP Boracay – to search and save the lives of the missing fishers.

It added that it is also set to coordinate with the Chinese Coast Guard to seek information on the possible whereabouts of the 13 missing fishermen.

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