Duterte tells DILG to keep monitoring complaints on ECQ aid distribution

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021   •   243

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to continue monitoring and investigating reported complaints regarding the distribution of government assistance to families heavily affected by the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine in the NCR Plus.

Duterte issued the directive after the DILG officer in charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. told the president that they have not received any complaints about the aid disbursement in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

During his pre-recorded national address with some members of the Cabinet on Monday night, Duterte said he has seen media reports about beneficiaries complaining about difficulty in claiming government subsidy.

“Maraming nagreklamo na ano, so ask your field offices to try to make rounds and investigate if these allegations are true,” he said.

“Sabi mo nga as of now malinis, then I’ll take it, but with another caveat that continue to monitor through your field offices… I do not have any reason to doubt the mayors, lalo na yung malalaki,” he added.

Florece, in turn, assured the president that all DILG senior officials are doing the rounds inspecting and monitoring the aid disbursement of local government units.

Around 22.9 million beneficiaries from low-income households in the NCR Plus are expected to benefit from the government’s assistance program which was allocated with a P22.9 billion fund.

The one-time aid program covers areas that have been placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period from March 29 to April 1.

The NCR Plus was reverted back to MECQ starting April 12 to April 30.

Duterte to visit Cotabato following BIFF attack in Maguindanao – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will head to Cotabato on Tuesday following the clash between soldiers and some members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) over the weekend, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president will meet with the officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and government security troops to discuss the incident in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

“Siya po ay makikipag-ugnayan sa BARMM officials, sa ating kapulisan, sa ating kasundaluhan at pag-uusapan nila kung paano maiiwasan yung insidente nga nung Linggo, kung saan ilang armadong miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nag-occupy ng Datu Paglas pero sandali lang naman iyon at napaalis din sila ng hukbong sandatahan,” Roque said in an online briefing.

“Ang objective po ng Presidente, para iparating ang mensahe na hindi po niya puwedeng pabayaan ang kaniyang katungkulan na ipatupad ang batas,” he added.

On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market but state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.

“Dahil nga po doon sa insidente kung saan ilang miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nagtungo sa Datu Paglas, ang kaniyang mensahe, ang warning niya po talaga, ipatutupad niya ang batas at hindi niya kukunsintihin ang paggamit ng dahas diyan po sa Maguindanao,” Roque said.

The military earlier said that the situation in Datu Paglas has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”

Local officials and residents in Maguindanao were also urged to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the armed group.

Duterte: I asked Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping for help on COVID-19 vaccines but no talks on WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did not discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.

During his Talk to the People public address on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.

“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.

The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.

In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.

Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.

“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.

“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.

He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.

“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.

Correction:
An earlier version of this article misstated that “they did discuss issues.” 

Why did Duterte tap out of challenge to debate with Carpio?

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.

“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.

Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”

“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.

The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.

China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

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