Duterte’s Japan trip not a ‘reward’ for Cabinet officials — Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2019   •   2470

President Rodrigo Duterte is welcomed by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez upon his arrival at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan on May 28, 2019. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

TOKYO, Japan — Malacañang denied that President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Japan is a reward to his Cabinet members following the administration’s victory in the 2019 midterm elections.

“The Palace does not share the position or remarks of Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose C. Laurel V concerning Cabinet members joining the President in this trip to Japan,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday (May 28).

“It is worth mentioning that Cabinet members were prohibited by the President to campaign for the administration candidates during the last elections. It is therefore sans logic that they can be rewarded when they were disallowed from contributing to the reason or cause for the grant of reward,” he added.

In a press briefing ahead of President Duterte’s arrival to Japan, Ambassador Laurel told reporters that the trip was a form of reward as eight of administration’s senatorial candidates won in the election.

“Ito’y pabuya sa nakaraang eleksyon (It’s a reward for the elections),” Ambassador Laurel said in a press conference on Tuesday (May 28).

“But I think the President is so elated with the results of the midterm elections, that this is an affirmation of what his administration does in the last three years. It’s like a reward,” he added.

READ: Japan trip could be ‘reward’, not a ‘junket’ – PH envoy

In response, Panelo said that Ambassador Laurel “may have been either innocently speculating for lack of information or may have been misinformed of the nature of the trip” saying the presence of the Cabinet officials is necessary.

According to Panelo, some 25 business agreements will be signed during the working visit and the President’s delegation is expected to bring home about P300-B worth of investments from Japan.

He added that these investments will open at least 80,000 job opportunities for Filipinos.

Panelo noted that Japan is the Philippines’ second major trading partner and the fourth biggest source market for tourism.

He cited Japan’s contribution to the country’s infrastructure development and peace efforts in the Mindanao.

“The President therefore needs most of his team players, not only as a sign of respect or giving importance to our long-time ally, but we likewise see the need for a stronger cooperation between our governments,” Panelo said.

“This can be achieved by the constant dialogue by our Cabinet members with their counterparts in the Japanese government, who are, in various ways, involved in our country’s significant transactions with Japan,” he added.

President Duterte arrived in Japan on Wednesday evening to attend the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo hosted by Japanese firm Nikkei.

He is set to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a bilateral meeting followed by greet and meet with the Filipino community in Japan.

The President is accompanied by a total of 16 Cabinet members and at least 200 other delegates.

Ambassador Laurel during the press interview clarified that the trip is not a junket though he did not clear if the organizer also shouldered the expenses of the Cabinet members and the local officials who joined the trip.  

Duterte wants to speed up release of sickly, aging prisoners

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to speed up the release of sickly and aging prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Duterte specifically wants to fast-track the release of inmates who are 70 years old and above.

“I’ll ask the administration, whoever will take over or the Secretary of Justice to fast-track ‘yung mga may sakit na at talagang matatanda na. Ako mag-set ako, 70 years old or 75, 70,” he told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.

The chief executive pointed out that elderly and sick prisoners within the said age bracket can no longer run nor commit criminal acts. Most of them also do not want to be released anymore.

“Hindi na marunong mag-holdup ‘yan. Hindi na makatakbo ‘yan,” he said.

Duterte made the statement in the wake of the controversy on the early release of heinous crime convicts from the NBP through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

The president earlier set a 15-day deadline for some 1,914 heinous criminals freed due to the GCTA rule to surrender or face re-arrest.

READ: Duterte orders freed heinous crime convicts to surrender

READ: Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Two days before the ultimatum lapses on Sept. 19, Duterte offered a P1 million bounty for each heinous crime convict who failed to comply with the order. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is offering a P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convict released through Republic Act 10592 or the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA)law who will fail to surrender to authorities before or on Sept. 19.

Duterte made the announcement two days before his 15-day ultimatum for GCTA-freed convicts to surrender lapses.

“Basta ako sinabi ko, I will just set the timeline and then the P1 million prize is available to those who can capture them dead or alive. But maybe dead would be a better option,” the president told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

“I will pay you smiling. Ibalik ko ‘yan preso, makakain pa ‘yang p***** i**** ‘yan. Gagastos pa ako,” he added.

Last Sept. 4, Duterte ordered convicts who were freed early for good behavior to present themselves within 15 days to the nearest police or military camp for the investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

He warned that those who will fail to comply with the order would be treated as fugitives.

As of Wednesday (Sept. 18), a total of 964 GCTA-freed convicts have surrendered to authorities and are now under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) custody, according to the Department of Justice.

This number is more than half of the 1,914 heinous criminals who were released for good behavior under the expanded GCTA rule.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and a Senate inquiry into the issue revealed the alleged modes of corruption in the national penitentiary involving several BuCor employees.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law, which was enacted in 2013 during the time of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte won’t extend 15-day deadline for surrender of GCTA-freed convicts – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not extend the 15-day deadline he issued for the surrender of convicts who were freed early under good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, Malacañang said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said convicts prematurely freed on GCTA would have to surrender to authorities within the given grace period because they would be treated as fugitives if they fail to comply with the order.

The deadline, which the president issued last Sept. 4, will lapse on Thursday, Sept. 19.

“As the president said, when the 15-day deadline lapses, they will be deemed to be fugitives from justice and they can be arrested,” Panelo told reporters in a Palace briefing on Monday.

Duterte earlier warned GCTA beneficiaries he might consider putting a P1 million bounty per inmate if they fail to present and register themselves for the recomputation of their good conduct credits.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and the revelation of supposed modes of corruption in the national penitentiary during a Senate inquiry.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law to specifically state who are not eligible to avail of the expanded rule.

BuCor data earlier said that since the law’s implementation in 2014, around 1,914 heinous crimes convicts were released.

As of Monday (Sept. 16), 658 GCTA beneficiaries have surrendered to authorities and are now under BuCor’s custody.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said it has already formed more than 120 tracker teams to be deployed when the 15-day surrender period ends.

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