Duterte says yes to ‘term sharing’ between Velasco, Cayetano as House Speaker

Marje Pelayo   •   June 28, 2019   •   2096

(L-R) Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – Today was supposed to be the much-awaited day at the House of Representatives (HOR) as President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to announce his choice for House speaker.

But instead of picking a name, the President maintained he is not endorsing anyone while he narrated how things transpired between him and his ‘friends’ who were coveting the position of House leader.

He recalled his previous conversation with Taguig representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano about the speakership race, the reason why the former senator quit his job as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and ran as congressman.

“Magtakbo siya ng congressman. Kung manalo siya, sabi niya, ‘Tulungan mo ako kasi gusto kong tumakbong speaker na lang. (He said he’d run as congressman. If he’d win, he asked if I could help him with his speakership bid,)’ the president recalled citing Cayetano.

“Yes, it’s all right to run. Pero hindi ako nag-commit (I said, yes. It’s okay to run. But I didn’t commit) because we politicians do not commit our support,” he added.

Duterte confirmed that Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco did talk to him as well of his intention to become the speaker of the House.

“Maya-maya si Lord Velasco. Kaibigan ko rin ‘yan. Kaibigan ko ang tatay kasi abogado, kaibigan ko man ‘yan sila lahat, justices and all (Then came Lord Velasco. He’s also my friend. His father is my friend being a lawyer. They’re all my friends, justices and all),” he said.

“Sabi ko subukan (I told him to try) ‘if you have the numbers after the elections,”’ he added.

On the other hand, the President said he had no conversation about speakership with Leyte-Representative elect Martin Romualdez or with Davao City Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

“The semblance of a knowledge prior to the elections, but I never gave any concrete ‘yes’,” he said.

To solve the issue, the President said he agreed to a term-sharing between Velasco and Cayetano.

“Ito sabi ko, ‘Maghati kayo ng term.’ Ang gusto ni Cayetano mauna siya. (I told them to share but Cayetano wants to sit first). But he will stay there just for 15 months. That’s what he committed. Si — and Velasco can have the — the other half which is not really as short — 21 months,” he said.

“Sabihin ko mag-ano… Ganun ang proposal. Pumayag na si Cayetano but si Velasco mukhang last minute nag-back out, (That’s my proposal. Cayetano agreed but Velasco backed out at the last minute),” he added.

With this, the President said, the decision is no longer in his hands.

He is now letting the lawmakers decide on who they want to pick as the speaker of the 18th Congress.

“So ang suggestion ko is ganito: Kung ‘yan lang naman, puro man tayo magkaibigan dito, huwag na lang tayong mag-away. (So my suggestion is this: since we’re all friends here, let’s not squabble about this). It will not help anybody,” the President noted.

“I am sorry. I am very sorry I could not be of help. Because hindi rin ako mag-underground (I cannot go underground). I will not secretly pass on any order or encoded na mag-ano kayo,(that would initiate a squabble amongst you,)’ he concluded.

As of this writing, all three speaker aspirants have yet to comment on the President’s remarks. – with details from Grace Casin

Duterte declares Nov. 2, Dec. 24 & 31 ‘Special working days’ for this year

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a proclamation amending some dates that have long been traditional holidays in the country and making them now ‘special working days.’

Under Proclamation No. 1107, the president declared the following days as ‘special working days’ for the year 2021:

  • November 2 – All souls’ day
  • December 24 – Christmas eve
  • December 31 – New Year’s eve

These dates were previously classified as special non-working days under Proclamation No. 986 s. 2020.

“For the country to recover from the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead,” Duterte said in his order.

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the country’s economy into a slump last year due to a lockdown that affected many businesses and workers.

Duterte designates NBI as sole body to probe PNP-PDEA ‘misencounter’

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the National Bureau of Investigation to be the sole agency to investigate the alleged misencounter between cops and operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Malacañang said Friday.

“Nagdesisyon po ang ating president na tanging NBI lang po ang mag-iimbestiga duon sa putukan na nangyari sa panig ng mga kapulisan at PDEA diyan po sa Quezon City,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The shooting incident involving policemen and PDEA operatives occurred on Wednesday afternoon near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Four individuals – two cops, a PDEA agent and an informant – were killed in the gun battle.

The PNP and PDEA earlier said that a joint Board of Inquiry has been created to look into the incident.

But due to Duterte’s order, the joint probe will have to be discontinued.

“’Yung mga binuong joint panel para imbestigahan yan, na binuo po ng PNP at PDEA ay di na po magtutuloy sa kanilang imbestigahan,” Roque said.

Both PNP and PDEA assured to work with the NBI in compliance with Duterte’s directive. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to personally welcome first batch of Sinovac vaccines on Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to witness in person the arrival of the Philippines’ very first batch of COVID-19 vaccines scheduled on Sunday (February 28) at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed in a message that the event on Monday is part of the President’s schedule.

He is expected to be joined by other government officials in welcoming the shipment of the much-awaited 600,000 doses of CoronaVac of the pharmaceutical firm Sinovac donated by China.

A total of 100,000 doses of the CoronaVac will be reserved for members of the military.

Once the vaccines arrive, the government is expected to kick-off the nationwide vaccine rollout on Monday (March 1) which will prioritize frontline health workers, uniformed personnel, and senior citizens among other sectors.

The vaccine turnover rite was also confirmed by China through its envoy to the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” Ambassador Huang said on Facebook.

“I want to thank all those who have worked so hard in order to make this happen! I hope the vaccines will help kick off Philippines’ mass inoculation campaign to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos’ life to return to normal at the earliest,” he added.

Meanwhile in a post on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy refuted claims that Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be given to health workers who have high exposure to positive cases.

The Embassy said the pharma company’s first trial inoculation on health workers in Brazil yielded positive results.

“Even under such extremely challenging conditions, the vaccine has show 100% protection to prevent fatal cases or severe cases that need hospitalization, 80% protection to prevent mild case which don’t need any medical intervention,” it said.

Thus, the Embassy said, “the Sinovac is good for medical workers with exposure to COVID-19.”

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