Duterte to lead BARMM inauguration on Friday

Robie de Guzman   •   March 29, 2019   •   1478

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 40th Philippine National Police Academy Commencement Exercises for the “SANSIKLAB” Class of 2019 at Camp General Mariano N. Castañeda, Silang, Cavite on March 22, 2019. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is set to lead the symbolic inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Friday afternoon (March 29).

The inaugural rite for the newly-established BARMM will be held at the Bangsamoro Regional Capitol in Cotabato City.

The date of the inauguration was originally set for March 11 but was moved to March 25. It was later rescheduled to March 29 to cater to the hectic schedule of the President. Earlier reports said Duterte wanted to be present during BARMM’s inauguration.

Prior to the inaugural ceremony, the Bangsamoro interim Parliament held its first session on Friday morning to elect its Speaker and other leaders.

Former Congressman Ali Pangalian Balindong was selected as the new speaker, replacing Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) first Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar who died on March 13 due to a heart ailment.

Jaafar had been named as parliament speaker by BARMM Interim Chief Minister and MILF Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim before he passed away.

Balindong is one of the MILF nominees to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that was appointed and sworn in by Duterte in February to act as the BARMM’s interim government.

The BTA, lead by Ebrahim, will govern the new region until the election of its regular officials in June 2022.

The BTA is prescribed under the BARMM Charter (Republic Act No. 11054) to have 80 members, 41 from the MILF and 39 from the government.

As of now, the transition body has only 76 appointed members. Duterte is expected to nominate four more to fill up the remaining vacant seats. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

This is a developing story. Please refresh the page for update.

Duterte to consider AFP stand against holiday ceasefire with Reds – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will consider the position of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against declaring a ceasefire with communist rebels this holiday season, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte normally “gives a lot of weight” on the recommendations of the military.

“Pakikinggan po ‘yan, but ultimately it’s only the President who will decide,” he said during a press briefing.

AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo earlier said the military will not recommend a holiday truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, due to the rebels’ “incapacity for sincerity.”

“This was the AFP’s painful experience where the communist terrorist group reneged from their own ceasefire declaration by attacking and killing soldiers on humanitarian and peace and development missions,” Arevalo said.

“During the incumbency of a truce, these terrorists continued their extortion activities and committed crimes of murder, arson, and the likes,” he added.

Arevalo, however, said that the AFP would support whatever the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte will be despite their position on the matter.

Last year, the government and the CPP-NPA both declared a truce during the holiday season, from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz and Lea Ylagan)

Duterte to attend virtual UN General Assembly on COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic from December 3 to 4, Malacañang said Thursday.

The Palace said Duterte is expected to deliver the Philippine Statement on December 3, where he will further amplify his call for global solidarity in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19.

The president is also expected to raise universal access to the anti-COVID-19 technologies, as well as the need for global efforts to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines to peoples of developing nations.

During the 75th UNGA session last September, Duterte also said that COVID-19 vaccines “must not be denied nor withheld,” and that “it should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte authorizes FDA to issue emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines and drugs that are expected to be made available in the Philippines next year.

Under Executive Order (EO) No. 121 signed on Dec. 1 and made public by Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte granted authority to the FDA director general to issue EUA for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, subject to provided conditions.

The EO stated that an EUA on a COVID-19 vaccine or drug shall be issued and remain valid only when all of the following circumstances are present:

  • Based on the totality of evidence available, including data from adequate and well-known controlled trials, it is reasonable to believe that the drug or vaccine may be effective to prevent, diagnose or treat COVID-19;
  • The known and potential benefits of the drug or vaccine when used to diagnose, prevent or treat COVID-19 outweigh the known and potential risks of the drug or vaccine, if any; and
  • There is no adequate, approved and available alternative to the drug or vaccine for diagnosing, preventing or treat9ing COVID-19

An application for the issuance of an EUA shall be submitted by the industry or government agency concerned, such as the national procurer or public health program implementer, the EO read.

The FDA shall then convene a panel of experts on drug and vaccine development to review available data on the safety and effectiveness of a COVID-19 drug or vaccine applied for an EUA. The panel will then submit its report and recommendations to the FDA director general.

“In evaluating applications for EUA, the FDA director general shall have the power to implement reliance and recognition processes for emergency use of drugs and vaccines,” the order stated.

“For this purpose, the FDA director general may accept the regulatory decision of the WHO (World Health Organization), US-CDC, or other internationally recognized and established regulatory authorities,” it added.

An EUA issued pursuant to the order shall be valid within the duration of the declared public health emergency due to COVID-19, and may be revoked or revisited by the FDA director general.

FDA director general Eric Domingo earlier assured they will not compromise public safety with the sped-up process.

The Philippine government is looking to administer the vaccines to at least 70 million Filipinos under an immunization program that may be carried out within three to five years. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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