Duterte’s China visit to skip Fujian province

Marje Pelayo   •   August 23, 2019   •   387

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte and his delegation are set to fly to China for a working visit in response to the invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

It will be Duterte’s fifth visit to Beijing and his eight meeting with Xi.

The two leaders will meet on August 29 when they will discuss several agreements on education, science and technology, economy and social development.

The President himself also stressed that he would insist the Hague Arbitral Ruling during his meeting with the Chinese President along with other sensitive issues like the code of conduct and joint exploration in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“We cannot preempt what does the President will discuss in particular regarding the arbitral ruling. So, it will be his call during the meeting with the President with his counterpart,” explained Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre.

The Philippine delegation will also attend a business forum in China in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The President’s itinerary includes a meeting with Vice President Wang Qishan and some relax time in the opening of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Guanzhou on August 31 in support to the Philippines’ GILAS team in their game against Italy.

Meanwhile, contrary to earlier announcements, President Duterte will no longer push through with his visit to Fujian province where he was supposed to grace the launching of a university building as tribute to his mother, Soledad.

According to the President’s close in staff, this is not the right time for it.

“But for this particular visit, there was a plan and then the recommendation now is to move it at a later date because it’s more appropriate to be done at a later date and not at this particular time,” noted Robert Borje, the Chief of the Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)


‘Tracker team’ all set for deployment as Duterte’s surrender deadline for heinous crime convicts passes

Marje Pelayo   •   September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s surrender deadline for heinous crime convicts freed through the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) will be until midnight of Thursday (September 19).

After which, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy its tracker team to chase those who refuse to yield to the President’s call.

According to National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) Chief Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, out of 1,914 heinous crime convicts released under GCTA, a total of 202 reside in Metro Manila.

From that number, only 26 surrendered.

Therefore, a total 176 convicts remain at large and they are the target of the NCRPO’s tracker team.

“All the tracker teams natin of the 176 targets in Metro Manila, they will start their manhunt at 12 o’ clock. They are distributed in the 26 police station,” Eleazar said.

“Within 6 hours from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock all the 176 addresses, lahat iyon ay pupuntahan ng tracker teams natin, (They will all be chased by our tracker teams,)” he added.

Eleazar said they want to arrest their targets alive as much as possible.

“We want to get them alive, but kung mayroong (but in the event of) aggressive behavior on their part, of course, we have to defend ourselves,” he explained.

The official warned to file appropriate charges against those convicts who would refuse arrest.

Earlier today, four convicts surrendered to the NCRPO though their names were not included in the list of GCTA-freed convicts of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

All they wanted, they said, was to make sure their lives are safe.

They are now under the custody of the BuCor. – MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte certifies passage of 2020 national budget as urgent

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 19, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has certified the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget as urgent.

According to his letter dated September 17 addressed to the Senate and the House of Representatives, he wants the immediate passage of the proposed national budget to “maintain continuous government operations.”

“Ensure the budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate,” the letter stated.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the president certified the proposed 2020 national budget as urgent to avoid a repetition of last year’s delay which affected several economic programs of the administration.

“He [Duterte] wants the members of Congress [to know] the importance of passing the budget on time to avoid a repeat of last year’s delay of its passage that wreak havoc in the economic program of the administration, and affected the delivery of basic services to the people,” he said in a statement.—AAC

Lawmakers favor placing ex-warden Gerald Bantag as BuCor Chief

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

Newly appointed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag

MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag was personally handpicked by President Rodrigo Duterte to replace former chief Nicanor Faeldon.

Bantag is the former Regional Director of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) MIMAROPA.

The President was vocal about his trust in the former jail warden to lead the controversy-laden agency.

This, despite the case he is facing in relation to the blast in Parañaque City Jail in 2016 where 10 inmates were killed.

Bantag was the jail warden on duty when the incident happened.

“Well, I think the case is in court. He’s facing homicide charges. I don’t think that he did it. If he did, then baka ma-convict siya (he could be convicted),” President Rodrigo Duterte said.

“But in the meantime, gusto ko siya kasi nagtatapon ng granada daw. Gusto ko ngang magkuha ng santo wala naman, ganun rin. Magkuha ng military, wala. Dito ka sa talagang may experience sa BJMP (In the meantime, I want him in because I heard, he launches grenade. I was looking for a saint but I couldn’t find anyone. I searched the military but none [qualified]. So (I) picked the one with experience in BJMP). That’s a bureau under the DILG and you — you take care of detention prisoners,” he added.

Senator Bong Go, meanwhile, clarified that it was not him who recommended Bantag even though the President mentioned that he was picking a “killer” as the next BuCor chief due to the mounting issues of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“Killer pala siya? Personal choice po ni Presidente si Bantag. Kailangan na talagang linisin ang BuCor (Was he a killer? Bantag is the President’s personal choice. The BuCor needs some cleansing),” Go said.

For Senator Vicente Sotto III, the Court is yet to prove the homicide case against Bantag and so it is just right to place the likes of Bantag inside the BuCor to tame the inmates.

“Tignan natin kung kakayanin ng mga drug lord ngayon yan, matitigil ang kabulastugan ngayon doon (Let’s see if those drug lords can go against him. Their shenanigans will be over),” Sotto added.

Go also revealed that President Duterte offered the position to AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. and PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde but the two refused the offer. – MNP (with reports from Grace Casin)

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