Duterte turns down Trump invite to attend US-ASEAN meet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020   •   950

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he has decided to reject the invitation of United States President Donald Trump to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to be held in Las Vegas this March.

Duterte announced his decision during an interview with Russian International Television Network RT.

“I just received an invitation to go to the United States together with the ASEAN leaders. I haven’t been to the States. I was invited by [former US President Barack] Obama a while back. But I did not go,” he said in a video posted on Thursday.

When asked if he will attend the upcoming summit between the US and ASEAN, Duterte replied with: “No, no.”

During the interview, the president recalled the time when Obama criticized him and his campaign against illegal drugs.

“One time when I was being criticized by Obama in a press conference, he should have realized that I’m also the head of a sovereign state. He should have criticized me in the proper venue,” he said, referring to a September 2016 press conference where Obama urged Duterte to conduct his campaign “the right way.”

The president said Obama’s move to castigate him in a press briefing got him “so mad” and prompted him to curse the former president.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the chief executive is “still pondering” on whether he would accept Trump’s invitation as he is mindful of the possibility of getting barred from entering the US since he doesn’t have a visa, and making some American senators “unhappy” seeing him there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PH state of calamity due to COVID-19 crisis extended for one year

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday extended the period of the state of calamity declared in the country due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1021, which was signed on Sept. 16, Duterte extended the state of calamity declaration for one year, effective Sept. 13, 2020 to Sept. 12, 2021 “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”

The president first declared the Philippines under a state of calamity on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it already expired as it was only for a period of six months.

Duterte said the extension will effectively afford the national government, as well as local government units, ample latitude to continue utilizing appropriate funds, including Quick Response Funds, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He added that it would also help in monitoring and controlling prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and provide basic services to the affected populations.

The chief executive also enjoined government agencies and local government units to “continue rendering full assistance to and cooperation with each other and mobilize necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate disaster response aid and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the threat of COVID-19.”

Duterte also directed the military and other law enforcement agencies to “continue undertaking all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to extend PH state of calamity declaration amid pandemic – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to extend the declaration of a state of calamity in the country amid the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said Thursday, September 17.

The Philippines is under a six-month state of calamity declared by Duterte last March 16 as he placed Luzon under community quarantine to curb the spread of the virus.

The declaration enabled the government to use quick response funds to deal with the public health crisis.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a document on the extension has already been forwarded to the Office of the President and is expected to be signed by Duterte.

“Definitely, it’s in the desk of the president, probably signed by now,” he said.

The country has so far recorded a total of 276,289 COVID-19 cases, of which 63,408 are active.

The total number of reported recoveries is at 208,096 while the number of fatalities is 4,785. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte orders gov’t agencies to produce, distribute free face masks to poor Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed several government agencies to coordinate and pool their resources for the production and distribution of face masks amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Memorandum Order No. 49 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and issued Wednesday, Duterte directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to lead other government agencies for the initiative.

These agencies include the Department of Health (DOH), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).

Among the tasks of the DTI is to consolidate the efforts of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) as well as cooperatives and community organizations for the production of face masks.

The DTI is also directed to support TESDA in gaining access to production networks and supplier markets for raw materials and finished products.

The DTI will also coordinate with the DOH to determine the minimum, most cost-efficient and good quality specifications to ensure that the face masks are effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The DBM will help in the procurement of face masks while the DSWD will be tapped to identify beneficiaries and distribute the government-procured masks to financially disadvantaged and persons with disability, as well as those enrolled under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program.

The PMS will monitor the distribution and consolidate a report to be submitted to the president.

Other government agencies and state-run companies were also directed to cooperate and support the program.

“It is imperative to reinforce non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as minimizing face-to-face interaction, wearing of face masks and face shields, and observing social distancing to complement our healthcare facilities and support our health workers in containing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the memorandum read. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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