Duterte to witness Balangiga bells’ arrival – Lorenzana
by Marje Pelayo | Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2018
FILE PHOTO: One of the historic Balangiga Bells | Photo courtesy: Philippine Embassy in Washington DC
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to witness the arrival and the formal turnover of the historic Balangiga bells at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Tuesday (December 11), according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Lorenzana said part of the program will be the signing of a document that will attest to the Philippines’ acceptance of the bells from the United States.
“I will go around with Ambassador Sung Kim [para] tingnan namin ang bells (to take a look at the bells) . Then I will sign a document that I accepted the bells from them. Ibibigay ko sa kaniya (I will give it to him). There will be three speeches: one from Secretary Mattis, to be read by one of his representatives, then Ambassador Sung Kim, then me, tapos si Presidente (and finally the President). Initially sabi nila, hind magsasalita si Presidente (Initially they said the President will not be speaking). He will be there, sabi niya (he said),” Lorenzana said.
Photographs provided by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines last Saturday show the bells being pulled out from display and readied for transport from the U.S Air Force Bases in Cheyenne, Wyoming to the Philippines.
A Balangiga bell being prepared for transport . | Photo courtesy: US Embassy in Manila
After their arrival at Villamor Air Base, the bells will be transported back to their hometown in Balangiga, Samar on December 15.
The return of the bells marks a significant moment in the history of the Philippines and US relations.
Photo courtesy: US Embassy in Manila
“That will be a closure, yes. that will be a closure. Kasi (because) the first request or first longing for us to bring back the bell was made by the leader of those who attacked the Americans, by the name of Eugenio Daza in 1935, when he was still alive,” Lorenzana explained.
Meanwhile, negotiation is underway as to whether or not President Duterte will proceed to visiting the United States next year, now that the Balangiga bells have returned.
“Si President naman sinabi niya (the President has said), ‘I do not hate America. I just hate some of the people there.’ Pinag-uusapan na (its in the works), Ambassador Romualdez is here. He’s trying to talk to the President to go there next year,” the hopeful Defense Secretary said. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
by Aileen Cerrudo | Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte seeks the reorganization of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) due to alleged corruption issues in the agency.
In a television guesting on Saturday (January 8), President Duterte said the P154 billion-worth of funds allegedly lost to anomalous PhilHealth claims is unacceptable.
“When I go back [to Manila], I’m making the announcement that I am maybe reshuffling the PhilHealth. For the sheer amount that was lost, I have to reorganize your entity,” he said.
The president also believes that the agency should be managed by a member of the military or a businessman to curb irregularities in collecting PhilHealth claims.
President Duterte also reiterated he trusts the integrity of PhilHealth acting president, Roy Ferrer.
“I do not have the slightest doubt about the integrity and honesty of Roy Ferrer,” he said.
The issue stemmed from a report made by Edwin Roberto, a former employee of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center, that WellMed continues to file PhilHealth claims even after their patients have died.
Based on the initial investigation, the Dialysis Center had done the same mode of operation 28 times while 12 cases are still being verified by authorities.
According to Ferrer, there is an alleged “mafia” inside the agency which serves as an accomplice of several hospitals, clinics, and doctors engaged in said anomalous transactions.
“Gusto nila sila nandoon for more than 20 years (They want to stay [in PhilHealth] for more than 20 years) and now we are getting more and more whistle blowers that are coming out to bring forth what they are doing in their respective regions. Marami po mga tiwaling ginagawa po at iniimbestigahan na po natin ito, (there is a lot of corruption and investigations are underway),” he said.
Aside from the reshuffling, President Duterte has also ordered authorities to file charges against the owner of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center and other involved government officials.—(with reports from Joan Nano)
by Aileen Cerrudo | Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte has formally ordered for the auction of the seized jewelry of former first lady Imelda Marcos which will benefit poor Filipinos.
Reports say, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed this on Tuesday (June 4).
“OP (Office of the President) has officially informed the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) that it interposes no objections to the proposed activities relative to the disposal of the Marcos jewelry collections, subject to compliance with existing laws, rules and regulations,” Medialdea said.
The P704.8-million jewelry collection, known as the Hawaii collection, of the former first lady were seized by the government when the Marcos family fled to Honolulu, Hawaii in February 1986 after a people power revolution toppled former president Ferdinand Marcos from power.
by Marje Pelayo | Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to find another service provider for the automated elections.
“I would like to advise Comelec now — hindi ko na lang hintayin — dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” the President said during his meeting with the Filipino community in Japan on Thursday (May 30).
The poll body, for its part, welcomes the President’s preference for a different firm other than the controversy-stricken technology solutions firm Smartmatic.
“Malinaw naman siguro sa sinabi niya iyon pero malinaw din na hindi niya itinatakuwil ang ating automated system kundi lamang iyong supplier,” Comelec Spokesperon Director James Jimenez said.
(What he [Duterte] said was clear. He is not denouncing the automated system but only the supplier.)
However, the poll body maintained that they cannot just breach their contract and impose a ban on Smartmatic without any strong evidence.
“Kakailanganin natin ng legal basis to ban any supplier so iyon ang titignan natin,” Jimenez said emphasizing that it was Smartmatic that won the contract to handle the needs of the 2019 midterm polls.
(We will need a legal basis to ban any supplier and that is what we are contemplating.)
Aside from Smartmatic’s existing contract, additional funds will also be a concern but still, it is always possible to search for another service provider.
“Dumadaan tayo sa pubic bidding so there’s always a chance for that and the bidding schedules are designed to accommodate a new supplier,” he explained further.
Malacañang, meanwhile, was also quick to clarify the President’s statement saying he (Duterte) did not mean to give the impression that the recently concluded election was not honest nor credible.
“It is,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said referring to the credibility of the 2019 midterm polls.
Panelo explained that President Duterte was just responding to some concerns raised by both the opposition on certain technical glitches that raised questions on the technological competence of Smartmatic.
“The President wants that the future elections will not be subjected to the same aforementioned concerns,” Panelo said.
Panelo calls on Comelec to take President Duterte’s suggestion ‘seriously’ emphasizing that the poll body “should be the first one that should be fiercely protective of its image being the constitutional body mandated to safeguard the sanctity of the ballots.”
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