Duterte turns down Trump invite to attend US-ASEAN meet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020   •   611

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)

Gov’t extends Luzon lockdown to April 30 — IATF

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines – Luzon residents may have to endure two more weeks at home as President Rodrigo Duterte extends the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) confirmed this on Tuesday (April 7).

“Ito po ang rekomendasyon ng IATF kay Presidente na tinggap ng President,” IATF-EID Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

“Vinerify po naming uli at ang sagot po ay ang enhanced community quarantine is hereby extended until 11:50 pm of April 30,” he added.

In his public address on Monday evening (April 6), the President asked the public for more patience and understanding and to be more cooperative with the national government in the face of a health crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The President, likewise, reiterated his call for the public to stay at home as the solution to this global pandemic is simply to “not get infected.”

He noted the sad reality of COVID-19 patients passing without having a funeral service as their remains go straight to cremation.

Duterte admitted that even the national government is getting ‘desperate’ as it has limited resources to distribute to millions of Filipinos affected by the crisis.

The President added that the P275-B budget that Congress authorized him to spend is not enough and would be gone in two months.

Thus, he asked the Department of Finance to find ways to generate revenues.

“We are finding ways to adjust the budget. We will prioritize the people, the stomach. If they have nothing to eat, a human being can become violent,” he added.

He appealed to those who have more to give to those in need and asked the Filipino people to pray for the country and the world in the face of this global pandemic.

“I am calling on the nation to come together and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy,” he concluded. MNP (with input from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte, Cabinet members pledge salaries for COVID-19 response

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is giving his one month salary amounting to P400,000 to help in the implementation of the national government’s action plan in fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Meanwhile, other members of the President’s Cabinet also have agreed to give 75% of their monthly salaries from April to December of this year as support, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo added that other department secretaries also agreed to share by giving a portion of their respective salaries.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives are targeting to raise P100-M to boost financial aid to those affected by the pandemic.

About 200 congressmen have pledged to donate their full salary for the month of May to help the government’s efforts against COVID-19.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they are raising an initial P50-M from the lawmakers while they plan to source out the other 50-M from other private individuals and groups to complete the P100-M pledge.

Cayetano said they are set to discuss on Wednesday as to which particular government effort they would donate the fund.

Ayaw naman namin na halimbawa bumili ng PPEs iyon pala may P5-B or P2-B worth of PPEs o kaya bumili ng pagkain iyon pala may provisions na sa pagkain,” Cayetano said.

“We want to use the money where it will be most effective,” he added.

Malacanang, meanwhile, is pleased with the support from other branches of government.

“The Office of the President is pleased to know that the two other branches of the government have their own program of helping the battle against COVID-19 even as we acknowledge the support given by various heads of offices and agencies in their personal capacities to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic,” Panelo said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

‘Dry run’ for ouster plot? Lacson urges gov’t to probe Quezon City protest

Robie de Guzman   •   April 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson is calling on the government to thoroughly look into the protest held by some residents in Quezon City on Wednesday.

The rally held by several residents from Barangay Bagong Pag-asa to demand aid from the local government prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to issue a stern warning against those who violate the law and cause trouble during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Duterte earlier told police and the military to “shoot” troublemakers if the situation puts their lives on the line. He also called for the public’s patience as the government works to deliver assistance amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Definitely, the President’s warning to have ‘troublemakers’ during the enhanced community quarantine shot was exaggerated and harsh. But coming from this President, what else is new?” he said in a statement issued Thursday.

Police earlier voiced out suspicion that the incident may have been instigated by a left-leaning group.

Lacson, citing his background on law enforcement and intelligence, said the answer on whether the protest was “politically instigated” lies on the investigation as he has suggested to authorities.

He said the probe would show if the protest was indeed a valid “hunger-driven spontaneous act of people” out of exasperation or a “politically instigated act of violence by sinister groups” out to destabilize the administration.

“I couldn’t help but suggest to authorities to thoroughly investigate if the ‘riot’ in Quezon City involving protesters demanding aid – but in violation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine – was indeed a valid “hunger-driven” spontaneous act of people who simply lost their patience out of exasperation, or a politically instigated act of violence by sinister groups out to take advantage and destabilize the administration and duly constituted authority,” he said.

“As such, concerned authorities may opt to look into the possibility that Wednesday’s incident could be a “dry run” to test public sentiment as well as the ability of law enforcers to respond,” he added.

He said that at least one group, specifically the urban poor group Kadamay, posted an “invitation” on its Facebook page to an event scheduled for April 1.

“Muling mangalampag bukas April 1. April Fool’s Day pero ang mamamayan ay hindi na maloloko sa napakabagal at inutil na pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng sambayanan,” Kadamay said on a Facebook post, dated March 31.

Lacson, however, clarified that this is not to say that protests during the COVID-19 quarantine should be presumed as politically instigated.

“There is no saying, however, that all protests during the ECQ should be presumed as politically instigated. Yet, it cannot be denied that there may be groups with motive to exploit the volatility of the situation to advance their own political agenda,” he said.

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