Duterte signs EO implementing Annex on Bangsamoro normalization process

Robie de Guzman   •   April 30, 2019   •   2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the 2019 General Appropriations Act at the Malacañan Palace on April 15, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) on the implementation of the annex on normalization under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro region.

The EO number 79 was signed on April 24, 2019, but Malacañang released a copy of the document on Tuesday (April 30).

The EO will pave the way for the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces and weapons, and the possible grant of amnesty or pardon for those involved in the armed conflict against the government.

Under the order, the government aims to implement annex on normalization under the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF.

An Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN) will also be established “to ensure timely, appropriate and efficient delivery of the normalization program,” which also calls for decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons, disbandment of private armed groups and implementation of socio-economic development, among others.

“The National Government recognizes that normalization is a process whereby communities can achieve their desired quality of life within a peaceful and deliberative society,” Section 1 of the order read.

“To this end, the National Government adopts a normalization program that is multi-faceted and covers the aspects of security, socio-economic development, sustainable livelihood, political participation, confidence-building, and transitional justice and reconciliation,” it added.

The ICCMN will be composed of representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS), with a rank not lower than an Undersecretary as co-chairpersons.

Its members shall consist of representatives, with ranks not lower than an Assistant Secretary or its equivalent, from the following agencies: National Security Council, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Economic Development Authority, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

The ICCMN will be given powers, including the coordination and mobilization of relevant government agencies in implementing the various aspects of the normalization program, provide policy advice and support for its timely and smooth implementation, supervise socio-economic interventions, and submit periodic reports to the President, and other functions directed by the President.

Under the security aspect of the normalization program, the MILF forces and weapons will undergo a verification, validation and decommissioning process. This will be conducted by the Independent Decommissioning Body composed of composed of three foreign experts and four local representatives agreed upon by the government and the MILF.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will also be allowed to provide personnel to assist in the process when necessary and upon request of the IDB chair.

“The AFP and PNP, along with relevant government agencies, shall work with the normalization bodies in providing routes, convoy and area security during the conduct of the decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons,” the order read.

Under the transitional component of the normalization program, the DND and the DILG will direct the military and police in coordination with the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF-MILF) to designate members to the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST). These teams, which will serve as the operational units of the transitional components of the normalization program, will be deployed in mutually-agreed areas.

During the transition period, the DND may provide special enlistment of BIAF-MILF members in the JPSTs for those who intend to apply for the military, the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), or a reserve geographical auxiliary unit in the Bangsamoro region.

As part of the normalization process, the AFP, through the DND will also be preparing a redeployment plan of its troops from or within the Bangsamoro region. Unexploded ordnances and landmines detection and clearance as well as mine risk education will also be conducted.

On the socio-economic development aspect of the normalization program, government agencies have been directed to prioritize, intensify and accelerate the development efforts for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the Bangsamoro region. These programs must address the needs of the BIAF members, internally displaced persons, and poverty-stricken communities.

“These programs shall be community-based and shall reinforce social cohesion, and strengthen and preserve the unit of the communities,” the order read.

A comprehensive and integrated development plan will also be formulated by the Joint Task Forces on Camps Transformation to assess the needs and transform the six recognized MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities.

A Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program will be adopted and implemented for the region.

Under the order, the ICCMN will also lead the implementation of the recommendations given by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission “to address legitimate grievances of the people in the Bangsamoro region, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations and marginalization through dispossession, towards healing and reconciliation.”

The ICCMN shall cease to operate upon the signing of the Exit agreement by the government and the MILF, or when the programs under the normalization program have been completely implemented. – Robie de Guzman

Defense chief on martial law rumors amid rising COVID-19 cases: Fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.

Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.

This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.

The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.

But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.

He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.

“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.

Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.

Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Duterte orders barangay officials to restrict movement of unvaccinated persons

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed barangay officials to limit the mobility of persons who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 amid rising cases in the country.

During his pre-taped public briefing aired late Thursday, Duterte told barangay officials to advise unvaccinated residents to just stay at home to avoid contracting the disease, especially its highly transmissible variants.

“I’m now giving orders to the barangay captains to look for those persons who are not vaccinated and just would request them or order them, if you may, to stay put,” he said.

“If he refuses, he goes out of the house and goes around in the community or maybe wherever magpunta, he can be restrained,” he added.

Being persons in authority, Duterte said barangay captains have the power to arrest “recalcitrant” persons if they are unvaccinated and refuse to be restrained or escorted to their homes, he argued.

At the same time, village chiefs can also mobilize civilians to help them with the subjugation of people who haven’t received COVID-19 shot from leaving their homes and loitering outdoors.

“Give them the task officially probably written and that converts their status from being a civilian but also a person in authority called upon to assist the persons in authority,” he said.

“They now become agents of a person in authority. That is my position,” he added.

The president, however, clarified that he was issuing the order as part of his responsibility to ensure public safety and well-being.

He also pointed out that unvaccinated people will not be immediately imprisoned, and persons in authority will have to talk to them about the dangers of leaving their homes.

“I hate to say this word pero — these words: being the President, ultimately I am responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino and that is why my orders are to restrain them,” he said.

“Hindi naman kaagad arestuhin. Paki-usap lang, eh sir hindi ka nagpabakuna then you put everybody in jeopardy. You go out, you get contaminated, dalhin mo. Ngayon, por pamilya, por bahay ang contamination,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte ordered the police to arrest and detain for investigation individuals involved in the illegal trade of COVID-19 drugs in the black market.

“I would insist for the police to arrest them and detain them for investigation. If it’s a serious offense, that will go about 34 hours of detention and in that time, you can investigate,” he said.

The president said that nobody will be spared, stressing that his order also covers agents and sellers or sales representatives, and even owners of medical infrastructures.

“Sabihin nila even it’s a matter of violation, ‘wala kami, ‘yung aming mga staff lang.’ Do not give me that s***. Hulihin ninyo at ikulong ninyo,” he said.

The unregulated sale of COVID-19 drugs is a serious offense because it victimizes those who need the medicine but cannot afford to buy due to very steep prices.

Duterte also asked the Department of Justice to assign fiscals who could conduct summary investigation and inquest of those involved in the prohibited trade. He also wants the police to investigate their areas of responsibility and to “solve the problem.”

Duterte signs law penalizing practice of child marriage

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law prohibiting the practice of child marriage and imposing penalties for violations thereof.

Duterte signed the Republic Act (RA) 11596 on December 10 and a copy of the document was released by the Malacañang on Thursday, January 6.

“The State affirms that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of capacitated parties, and child betrothal and marriage shall have no legal effect,” the law stated.

“Pursuant to these policies, the State thus views child marriage as a practice constituting child abuse because it debases, degraded and demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of children,” it added.

The law defines child marriage as any union entered into where one or both parties are below 18 years old or of legal age but unable to fully take care and protect oneself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination due to physical or mental disability or condition.

The law states that any person who causes, fixes, facilitates, or arranges a child marriage “shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000.”

Should the violator be an ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, step-parent, or guardian of the child, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period, a fine of not less than P50,000, and perpetual loss of parental authority.

If the perpetrator is a public officer, he or she shall be dismissed from the service and may be perpetually disqualified from holding office, at the discretion of the courts, the law said.

An adult partner who cohabits with a child outside wedlock shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000.

Prision mayor carries a prison term of 6 years and 1 day to 12 years.

The law also states that any person who produces or tamper documents for the purpose of misrepresenting the age of a child to facilitate marriage or evade liability shall be liable under the law.

The law mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development to lead its implementation and create programs that will address the prevalence of child marriage, and provide appropriate services, including legal, health, temporary shelter.

It also directs government agencies to create an enabling social environment where the practice of child marriage shall not thrive.

“In the pursuit of this policy, the State shall abolish all traditional and cultural practices and structures that perpetuate discrimination, abuse, and exploitation of children such as the practice of child marriage,” the law stated.

“Further the State recognizes the role of women in nation-building and shall therefore protect and promote their empowerment. This entails the abolition of the unequal structures and practices that perpetuate discrimination and inequality,” it added.


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