Duterte vows to support military in fight against extremism in Mindanao

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2020   •   298

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the candle-lighting and the offering of flowers at the blast site at Barangay Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 30, 2020. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time since his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte made his public appearance to visit Jolo, Sulu.

Specifically, the President visited the sites of the twin explosions that occurred on August 24 which killed a number of soldiers.

He delivered a short speech before the troops at Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Headquarters where he vowed to give his full support to the military in fighting and eradicating terrorists activities in Mindanao. 

“Bilang isang Pilipino ibibigay ko sa inyo ang lahat ng suporta na kailangan ninyo para matupad ang inyong misyon dito sa Jolo (As a Filipino, I will give you all the support you need to accomplish your mission here in Jolo),” he said. 

“I commit myself to working with you my dear troops to ensure that these terrorists will have no future in this country,” he added.

During the ceremony, the President commended the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the sake of peace and order in the province. 

President Duterte said that he regrets the situation in Mindanao and added that if not for the atrocities in the region, it could have attained the progress that the province has been aspiring for decades.

“For decades, Mindanao’s progress has been hindered by the threat of insurgency and extremism,” the President said. 

“Kung wala lang sana itong seed of hatred na nakalagay sa isip from generation to generation, sana ngayon maganda na ang buhay para sa lahat, (If only the seeds of hatred had not been planted in the minds of people from generation to generation, quality of life [in the region]would have improved for everyone by now),” he added.

The President appeals to all government forces to continue the fight against terrorism and work hard to achieve long lasting peace in the country. 

“If we cannot really agree,  then we fight and we fight hard hanggang magkaubusan na (until no one is left). Maybe by that time, kung ubos na ang lahat, wala ng giyera (when everyone is gone, the war would finally end)” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie COZ)

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Duterte to listen to public’s sentiment on VFA issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is open to listening to the public about their sentiments on the issue regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said those who wish to voice out their opinions on whether the VFA should be abolished or not can send messages through the government hotline 8888.

Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate and send an email or message through government agency hotlines for it to reach the President), he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Wednesday (February 24), said he is still undecided on what to do. He previously demanded the US to pay if it wants the VFA to continue.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military will support the decision of the President but also said the Philippines should be able to defend itself without any assistance. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to personally welcome first batch of Sinovac vaccines on Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to witness in person the arrival of the Philippines’ very first batch of COVID-19 vaccines scheduled on Sunday (February 28) at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed in a message that the event on Monday is part of the President’s schedule.

He is expected to be joined by other government officials in welcoming the shipment of the much-awaited 600,000 doses of CoronaVac of the pharmaceutical firm Sinovac donated by China.

A total of 100,000 doses of the CoronaVac will be reserved for members of the military.

Once the vaccines arrive, the government is expected to kick-off the nationwide vaccine rollout on Monday (March 1) which will prioritize frontline health workers, uniformed personnel, and senior citizens among other sectors.

The vaccine turnover rite was also confirmed by China through its envoy to the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” Ambassador Huang said on Facebook.

“I want to thank all those who have worked so hard in order to make this happen! I hope the vaccines will help kick off Philippines’ mass inoculation campaign to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos’ life to return to normal at the earliest,” he added.

Meanwhile in a post on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy refuted claims that Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be given to health workers who have high exposure to positive cases.

The Embassy said the pharma company’s first trial inoculation on health workers in Brazil yielded positive results.

“Even under such extremely challenging conditions, the vaccine has show 100% protection to prevent fatal cases or severe cases that need hospitalization, 80% protection to prevent mild case which don’t need any medical intervention,” it said.

Thus, the Embassy said, “the Sinovac is good for medical workers with exposure to COVID-19.”

OVP dismayed over Duterte’s statement against Robredo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 16, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Vice President expressed dismay over President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirade against Vice President Leni Robredo after she criticized his decision to demand payment for the US troop deal.

Robredo’s Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez said the President should focus on directly answering the issues at hand, instead of resorting to comments against the Vice President.

“Tuwing magsasalita sa anomang isyu, lagi na lang nagiging ganyan ang sagot sa atin. Imbis na sagutin doon sa level ng kung ano ba talaga yung pinag-uusapan, paninira at pangungutya ang ating inaabot,” he said.

During his public address on Friday (February 12) the President said the US has to pay if they want the Visiting Forces Agreement to continue.

“I’d like to put on notice if there’s an American agent here. From now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done, you have to pay. It’s a shared responsibility but your share of responsibility does not come free because, after all, when the war breaks out, we all pay,” he said during his speech.

Robredo likened Duterte’s demand for payment to “extortion.”

On Monday (February 15), Duterte responded to Robredo’s comment, saying the Vice President “needs to study more.”

“You really do not know your role in this government. The foreign relations with other countries is vested on the President alone kaya hindi mo alam ang mga pangyayari, Duterte said.

“If by unfortunate chance you become the president, please study more. I think that you need a refresher course sa law. That is my advice to you,” he added.

Duterte also slammed Senator Panfilo Lacson for his comments on seeking a more diplomatic approach in resolving the VFA issue. In response, Lacson said the President should reread the 1987 Constitution.

“I may not be a lawyer like him. Last time I read the Constitution, a senator has something to do with international agreements. The President should refresh his memory by reading Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution,” he said in a statement. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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