Envoy rebuked for ‘reward’ remarks of Duterte’s Japan trip – SOJ Guevarra

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2019   •   2051

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V | Courtesy: PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Wednesday (May 29) that Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V was admonished for his claims that the Japan trip was President Rodrigo Duterte’s post-election reward to his Cabinet members.

Guevarra has been assigned officer-in-charge of the Executive Department while the President is on an official visit to Japan.

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

The Justice Secretary said Laurel was rebuked by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for that matter.

“He has already been rebuked by the Palace. Let’s wait and see if there’ll be any further action by the President or by the SFA,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.

“Rebuked in the sense of being strongly contradicted or corrected, but not in the sense of being scolded,” he added.

However, Guevarra did not give direct answer if Laurel will be relieved from his position because of the issue.

Meanwhile, the post of anti-Duterte blogger Jover Laurio, which shows celebrities present in the said trip, has earned hundreds of shares.

Among the celebrities was Philip Salvador.

Laurio’s post invited reactions by asking netizens where they think the celebrities could have possibly gotten the funds for the trip.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quick to argue that the celebrities “came to Japan on their own accord.”

“Ask them why they are here. They are the credible source of your information. Mine will be speculative,” he said in a statement.

In has to be recalled that President Duterte signed on March 15, 2019 an executive order which specifies certain individuals who are not entitled to government funding for foreign travels.

These include private individuals and the spouses or children of government officials “except when diplomatic protocol or established international practices provide otherwise.”

Executive Order Number 77 was issued as part of the government’s campaign against corruption and formally ban government junketeers or the use of public funds for pleasure trips.

It is also clear in Section 9 of E.O. 77 that: “All forms of travel junkets shall be strictly prohibited. The conduct of strategic planning workshops or team building activities abroad shall not be allowed.”

The EO said government officials are allowed to have local or foreign travels and assignments only if it is essential to the effective performance of their mandates or functions; it has a substantial benefit to the country; their presence is critical to the outcome of the activity; and the projected expenses are not excessive or involve minimum expenditure.

Also, any foreign travel by a government staff must be approved by the Office of the President, the Department Secretary, and the heads of their respective agencies.

They must also submit a report of the outcome of their foreign travels if they are partially or fully sponsored by a private corporation or individual.

Likewise, no official or personal travel of government officials and employees shall be funded directly or indirectly, fully or partially, by private individuals with pending requests or applications or future dealings with any government agencies.

It can be recalled that President Duterte sacked a number of government officials due to alleged junkets such as the former chairperson of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Terry Ridon; former Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Dionisio Santiago; former Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III among others. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte on short visit to Davao City — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   May 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte travelled to Davao City on Friday (May 15) to visit his family.

The President opted to stay in Metro Manila in the past two months to focus on his work amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and due to tight restrictions under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). 

Aside from family visit, the President intended to check on the situation in Mindanao relative to the health crisis.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is now in Davao City to visit his family whom he has not seen in months and to assess the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in Mindanao,” Roque said. 

The Palace spokesman assured, however, that the President will be present in the scheduled meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 on Tuesday (May 19). 

“Rest assured that he will be back in Malacañang in time for the next IATF briefing,’ Roque concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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