Duterte to join ASEAN Summit in Thailand, may discuss Reed Bank allision – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2019   •   1871

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks before other leaders from the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering held at the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia on October 11, 2018. Also in the photo is Secretary Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President. Photo from PCOO fb

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Thailand this week to participate in the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok.

The ASEAN Summit, which will also be attended by other heads of member states, will be held from June 22 to 23, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

DFA Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West told reporters at a Malacañang press briefing Tuesday that Duterte will be accompanied by the secretaries of DFA, Department of Trade and Industry, Department Social Welfare and Development, Department of Finance, Department of Transportation, Tourism and Agriculture.

Mahilum said the President is expected to have bilateral meetings with other ASEAN leaders during the sidelines of the summit.

She added that during the Leaders’ retreat, the chief executive may take up the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) against China as it falls under the agenda on regional and international developments.

“Well, as you know the Philippines is coordinator of the ASEAN China dialogue partnership from 2018 to 2021, for three years. And during this coordinatorship, we are negotiating ASEAN Member States and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, on the South China Sea,” she said.

“And in these negotiations, incidents like what happened to our fishermen will be among those on the agenda, during the negotiations,” she added.

However, she clarified that it is still premature to say whether the recent allision incident near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels will particularly be raised at the Bangkok summit pending investigations.

“There is this investigation that’s ongoing, that up to the present discloses a certain fact that we did not know before. Also, we lodged a strong protest with China and we are awaiting China’s response to this,” she said.

The government earlier said a further probe will be conducted into the incident which will be led by the Maritime Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

READ: Marina, PCG to conduct further probe on West PH sea collision

“Puwede namang during exchange of views on regional development, there is an opening to raise these issues, because incidents like what happened emphasized the importance of having a code of conduct so that we could avoid, we could prevent these incidents from happening in the future,” she said.

Mahilum emphasized that having a code of conduct in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea would help set guidelines among claimants to prevent any more similar maritime incidents.

“It’s precisely why we need a code so that this instance could be taken on board and we would have a guideline for countries in the region on how to behave, on how to act in order to prevent these incidents that caused some — that might cause tension in the region,” she added.

Prior to the summit, Mahilum said that negotiations have been made on a single draft negotiating text between ASEAN member states and China and the first reading is expected to be finished by end of this year.

Aside from attending the Leaders’ retreat, the President is also expected to join the summit plenary, gala dinner and the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.

Mahilum, however, could not say if the President will be able to meet with the Filipino Community in Thailand due to the very hectic Summit schedule.

This will be Duterte’s third visit to Thailand since assuming office.

He is expected to return to the Philippines on June 24. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte orders stricter road safety checks after South Cotabato mishap

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 20, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered stricter implementation of road safety checks after a private truck fell into a ravine in South Cotabato on Tuesday (September 17).

Based on reports, 21 people were killed while 14 others were injured due to the South Cotabato mishap.

According to the Department of Transportation (Dotr), officials from several departments had a meeting with the president on Wednesday (September 18).

The chief executive has ordered to intensify roadworthiness checks, improve driver’s licensing requirements, periodic drug testing, and financial capability checks for operators.

“The chief executive pushed for the urgent nationwide implementation of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) to improve the level of safety and security of passengers,” the Dotr said in a statement on Facebook.

Duterte has also emphasized that private vehicles used beyond their legitimate purpose should be banned.

Vehicles should also have proper road safety equipment and facilities while operators who do not have the financial capability for safety improvements should cease to operate.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the department will improve on road safety through various programs including Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS).

“Ilang buhay na naman ‘ho ang nawala sa atin. Itigil na ang kawalan ng disiplina. Itigil na ang pagiging pabaya sa kalsada. Sa utos ng ating Pangulo, sisikapin naming masiguro na tanging mga roadworthy vehicles lang ang bibiyahe sa kalsada, at lahat ng driver ay may sapat na kaalaman at disiplina sa pagmamaneho, (Several lives have already been lost. Let us stop the lack of discipline. Stop recklessness on the road. According to our President’s order, let us strive to ensure that only roadworthy vehicles should operate and all drivers should have discipline in driving),” Tugade said.—AAC

Duterte orders revamp at BuCor due to corruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 19, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the revamp of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Wednesday (September 18) due to alleged corruption.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has confirmed that the president plans to remove all the officials and employees at BuCor.

“It’s total revamp. He’ll remove all of them there,” he said. Panelo explained that BuCor officials and employees will be placed on floating status.

“Because of the corruption there. He [Duterte] wants to stop it,” he added.

BuCor is currently facing corruption allegations after 1,914 heinous crime convicts were released through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

During the Senate hearing, several BuCor officials also admitted other irregularities including the “hospital pass for sale” scheme.

The revamp, Panelo said, would give way for the newly appointed BuCor chief Gerald Quitaleg Bantag to freely select the people he would want to work with in BuCor.—AAC

Duterte certifies passage of 2020 national budget as urgent

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 19, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has certified the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget as urgent.

According to his letter dated September 17 addressed to the Senate and the House of Representatives, he wants the immediate passage of the proposed national budget to “maintain continuous government operations.”

“Ensure the budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate,” the letter stated.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the president certified the proposed 2020 national budget as urgent to avoid a repetition of last year’s delay which affected several economic programs of the administration.

“He [Duterte] wants the members of Congress [to know] the importance of passing the budget on time to avoid a repeat of last year’s delay of its passage that wreak havoc in the economic program of the administration, and affected the delivery of basic services to the people,” he said in a statement.—AAC

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