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

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

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)

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Duterte signs ‘Bawal Bastos’ law

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the ‘Bawal Bastos’ act into law which penalizes cat-calling and other forms harassment in public places.

The Republic Act No 11313 or Safe Spaces Act was signed on April 17 and was released to the media on Monday (July 15).

Based on the newly signed law, there will be heftier penalties for acts of cat-calling, unwanted invitation, and sexist slurs.

“The state also recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational and training institutions,” the law states.

Among the harassment acts include catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs; persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance; relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions; public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any unwanted advances. The law also covers online sexual harassment and cyberstalking.

There will be various penalties depending on the crime committed.

First degree offenses will face P1,000 fine for a first offense, including 12-hour community service and Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Second degree offenses will face P10,000 fine for a first offense including 12-hour community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Third degree offenses will face 11-30 days imprisonment, for a first offense with P30,000-fine and attendance to Gender Sensitivity Seminar.—AAC

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PH to deploy social welfare attachés for OFWs under new law

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attaché to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFW), especially those who have fallen prey to illegal recruiters.

Duterte signed the Republic Act 11299 on April 17, a copy of which was made public on Monday (July 15).

The newly-signed law amended the Republic Act 8402 or the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 to include the said office.

It mandates the Office for Social Welfare Attaché (SWA) to deploy personnel to countries with large concentration of Filipino workers, as determined in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Under the measure, a social welfare attaché’s duty includes management of cases of Filipino workers in distress, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of physical or mental abuse, and case of abandoned or neglected children;

SWAs are also mandated to undertake survey and prepare social welfare situationer on the OFWs in their areas of assignment; establish a network with overseas-based social welfare agencies or individuals which may be mobilized to assist in the provision of appropriate services.

They should also respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of Filipino workers and their families; establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families to provide effective social welfare services; submit regular reports on plans and activities undertaken, recommendations and updates on the situation of OFWs.

The law states that the budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the DFA, DOLE, the Department of Health and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are tasked to craft the measure’s implementing rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of this act.

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Duterte signs law on student fare discount on all modes of transportation

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the bill imposing a 20 percent fare discount for students on all modes of public transportation.

Duterte signed Republic Act 11314 or the Student Fare Discount Act on April 17 but was only made public on Monday (July 15).

Under the law, a 20 percent discount for domestic regular fares of all kinds of public transportation shall be provided to students during the entire time they are enrolled in elementary, secondary, technical-vocational or higher education institution.

The law covers public utility buses, jeepneys, taxis and similar vehicles-for-hire, tricycles, passenger trains, aircrafts and marine vessels.

Student fare discount was only previously available for land transportation.

To avail the discount, the student should present his duly-issued school identification card or current validated enrollment form supported by the prescribed government-issued identification document.

The measure, however, does not apply to school service, shuttle service, tourist and any similar service covered by contract agreement and with valid franchise or permit from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The law also does not cover individuals enrolled in dancing, swimming or driving schools and other informal short courses of seminar type and post-graduate studies.

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