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

Marje Pelayo   •   June 28, 2019   •   1862

(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

PH state of calamity due to COVID-19 crisis extended for one year

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday extended the period of the state of calamity declared in the country due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1021, which was signed on Sept. 16, Duterte extended the state of calamity declaration for one year, effective Sept. 13, 2020 to Sept. 12, 2021 “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”

The president first declared the Philippines under a state of calamity on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it already expired as it was only for a period of six months.

Duterte said the extension will effectively afford the national government, as well as local government units, ample latitude to continue utilizing appropriate funds, including Quick Response Funds, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He added that it would also help in monitoring and controlling prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and provide basic services to the affected populations.

The chief executive also enjoined government agencies and local government units to “continue rendering full assistance to and cooperation with each other and mobilize necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate disaster response aid and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the threat of COVID-19.”

Duterte also directed the military and other law enforcement agencies to “continue undertaking all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to extend PH state of calamity declaration amid pandemic – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to extend the declaration of a state of calamity in the country amid the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said Thursday, September 17.

The Philippines is under a six-month state of calamity declared by Duterte last March 16 as he placed Luzon under community quarantine to curb the spread of the virus.

The declaration enabled the government to use quick response funds to deal with the public health crisis.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a document on the extension has already been forwarded to the Office of the President and is expected to be signed by Duterte.

“Definitely, it’s in the desk of the president, probably signed by now,” he said.

The country has so far recorded a total of 276,289 COVID-19 cases, of which 63,408 are active.

The total number of reported recoveries is at 208,096 while the number of fatalities is 4,785. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte orders gov’t agencies to produce, distribute free face masks to poor Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed several government agencies to coordinate and pool their resources for the production and distribution of face masks amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Memorandum Order No. 49 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and issued Wednesday, Duterte directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to lead other government agencies for the initiative.

These agencies include the Department of Health (DOH), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).

Among the tasks of the DTI is to consolidate the efforts of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) as well as cooperatives and community organizations for the production of face masks.

The DTI is also directed to support TESDA in gaining access to production networks and supplier markets for raw materials and finished products.

The DTI will also coordinate with the DOH to determine the minimum, most cost-efficient and good quality specifications to ensure that the face masks are effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The DBM will help in the procurement of face masks while the DSWD will be tapped to identify beneficiaries and distribute the government-procured masks to financially disadvantaged and persons with disability, as well as those enrolled under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program.

The PMS will monitor the distribution and consolidate a report to be submitted to the president.

Other government agencies and state-run companies were also directed to cooperate and support the program.

“It is imperative to reinforce non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as minimizing face-to-face interaction, wearing of face masks and face shields, and observing social distancing to complement our healthcare facilities and support our health workers in containing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the memorandum read. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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