Economic, infra clusters to hold pre-2020 SONA forum this week

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020   •   1142

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte government’s economic development and infrastructure Cabinet clusters are set to present the administration’s plans for recovery and resilience in the face of the coronavirus-induced headwinds this year at the first pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum to be held this week.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said that the forum titled, “Regaining Momentum, Accelerating Recovery in a Post COVID-19 World,” will be held virtually on July 8.

Hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the forum will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of the Radio Television Malacañang, and other government agencies.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said this year’s pre-SONA forum will be different as the audience will be “purely virtual,” due to limitations on mass gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do hope that our citizens will be able to tune in as the country’s top decision makers discuss our path to a quick and strong recovery from this crisis,” he said.

In the forum, the DOF said that top economic and infrastructure officials are also expected to report on the state of the Philippine economy, as well as the government’s ongoing efforts to leverage on its strong fundamentals in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar will present performance updates and priority plans, respectively, on the economic and infrastructure fronts.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will speak on the Philippine Economic Recovery Program.

“The audience can expect Secretary Dominguez to delve deeper into the challenges we’re facing right now, the accomplishments in the previous year that we can build on, and the legislative proposals that the economic team submitted for Congress to consider,” Lambino said.

Meanwhile, updates on the monetary, external, and financial sectors will be discussed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Pre-SONA forums are held annually to discuss in greater detail the achievements of the government in the previous year and the priorities of the Cabinet cluster heads in the run-up to the President’s SONA on July 27.

Duterte condoles with Aquino family over death of ex-Pres. Noynoy

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has extended his condolences to the family of former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, who passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 61.

“I join the entire nation in mourning the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III. I express my deepest sympathies to his siblings, Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris, as well as to all his loved ones, friends, and supporters, in this period of sadness,” Duterte said in a statement.

“May you take comfort in the knowledge that he is now in a better place with his Creator,” he added.

He also urged everyone to “set aside our differences” and to pay respects to the late leader.

“Let us all take this opportunity to unite in prayer and set aside our differences as we pay respects to a leader who has given his best to serve the Filipino people,” he said.

“His memory and his family’s legacy of offering their lives for the cause of democracy will forever remain etched in our hearts,” he added.

Malacañang, through Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, earlier expressed gratitude for Aquino’s service to the country and remembered his legacy as a leader.

Roque said Aquino was a “simple public servant elected by people”.

The Palace said that as a former head of state, Aquino may be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, but the decision would depend on his family.

Roque also said he has no information yet on whether or not a state funeral will be held for the late president.

Duterte to meet with lawmakers on Bayanihan laws – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with some lawmakers later Thursday to discuss Bayanihan 2 and the proposed Bayanihan 3 laws.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the meeting will take place after Duterte’s ceremonial signing of several measures at Malacañang.

Roque did not identify the lawmakers who will be meeting with the president but said they are “leading members” of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“I can only confirm that there will be a meeting today to discuss both Bayanihan 2 and Bayanihan 3 with leading members of both houses of Congress,” he said in a Palace briefing.

“This will occur after the ceremonial signing of several bills again and I know they will be discussing Bayanihan2 and 3, beyond that I have no further information,” he added.

Bayanihan Laws seek to help the government address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The validity of the Bayanihan 2 is set to expire on June 30 while the proposed Bayanihan 3 is still being discussed in Congress.

Pangulong Duterte, gumamit lang ng matapang na pananalita para hikayatin ang publiko na magpabakuna — DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Naniniwala ang Department of Justice (DOJ) na gumamit lamang ng mabigat na pananalita si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte upang hikayatin ang mga taong ayaw pa ring magpabakuna kontra COVID-19.

Sa public address noong Lunes ng gabi, nagbanta ang pangulo na ipaaaresto ang mga taong tumatangging magpabakuna matapos nitong magpahayag ng pagkainis sa mga ayaw makinig sa panagawan ng pamahalaan upang makamit ang herd immunity sa lalong madaling panahon.

“I believe that the President merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible,” ang pahayag ni Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Sinabi rin ni Guevarra na bilang abugado, alam ng pangulo na ang hindi pagpapabakuna ay karapatan ng sinoman.

“As a lawyer, he knows that not getting vaccinated is a legal choice,” ayon sa kalihim.

Sinabi rin ni Guevarra na sa ngayon ay wala pang batas o legal na batayan sa bansa na mag-oobliga sa isang tao na magpabakuna laban sa COVID-19.

“There is no law as yet that compels vaccination against COID-19, much less criminalizes it, as presently available vaccines are still in their trial phases,” ang wika ng kalihim.

Nilinaw din ng DOJ chief na humihingi rin sa kanya ng payong legal si Pangulong Duterte kung kinakailangan.

“He seeks my legal opinion only when he finds it really necessary,” ani Guevarra.

Sa public address ng pangulo, iginiit nitong kailangang magpabakuna ng lahat upang magkaroon ng proteksyon laban sa mas mababagsik na uri ng COVID-19 gaya ng Delta variant na unang natuklasan sa bansang India.

Ngunit kung ayaw pa rin ng ilan na magpabakuna ay mapipilitan aniya siyang gumawa ng paraan upang mahanap ang mga taong nagmamatigas pa rin laban sa pagtanggap ng COVID-19 vaccine.

Binatikos naman ng National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) ang pahayag ng pangulo at iginiit na walang malinaw na legal na basehan ang pagpapa-aresto sa mga ayaw magpabakuna.

Sinabi rin ni NUPL President Atty. Edre Olalia na maaaring banggain ng pangulo ang kapangyarihan ng hudikatura na may karapatng mag-utos ng pagpapa-aresto kung may matibay na batayan.

“Ang problema dito parang magbabanggaan, paano kung sasabihin ng korte ganito sabihin ng executive ayaw ko e di magkakabanggaan yan so magkakaroon ng sana wag naman ang tinatawag na contitutional na krisis kasi sino ang magreresolba ngayon kung ang dalawang sangay ay magbabanggaan,” ani Olalia.

Nangangamba rin ang NUPL na magdulot lang ng kalituhan o takot ang pahayag ng pangulo kapag hindi ito lubos na naunawaan ng publiko. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

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