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

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

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)

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PNP support Duterte’s push for death penalty, mandatory ROTC

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it would fully support the reimposition of death penalty as pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde said imposing capital punishment for drug-related heinous crime and plunder will add more power to the government’s campaign against war, drugs and corruption.

In response to the SONA of President Duterte, the PNP fully supports the legislative agenda of the national government for effective legislation that will add more teeth to the crusade against crime, drugs and corruption, particularly by imposing capital punishment for drug-related heinous crime and plunder, among others,” he told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame on Tuesday.

“I firmly believe that the deterrent effect of the certainty of punishment will be a game changer in our continuing campaign against illegal drugs, heinous crime and corruption, particularly against drug traffickers, smugglers and peddlers of illegal drugs,” he added.

However, the PNP chief maintained his position that the country’s justice system should be fixed first.

“Ang importante dito ay we convict those people na talagang we know that they are guilty. ‘Yan ‘yung stand natin,” he stressed.

(What’s important here is we convict those people who are really guilty. That is the PNP’s stand.)

When it comes to the proposed mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program in Grades 11 and 12, Albayalde believes this will embed “very important” values on the Filipino youth.

Albayalde added that the president might be pushing for the mandatory program in Senior High School as he believes Filipinos are now lacking in love of country.

Aside from instilling values, the PNP chief said the mandatory ROTC will also help in the country’s defense in case of war.

“The very important value there is the sense of nationalism, love of country at patriotism sa Pilipino lalo na sa mga kabataan… of course, napakaliit nating bansa, we have to defend our country in case of war,” he said.

(The very important value there is the sense of nationalism, love of country at patriotism in Filipinos, especially in the youth… our country is small, we have to defend our country in case of war.)

Duterte presented the same argument in his SONA on Monday when he asked Congress to pass measures that will improve the country’s defense system.

Albayalde added that having training in terms of defense will be good for everybody. (with details from Lea Ylagan)

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At least 16 measures pushed by Duterte could pass Senate – Sotto

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – At least 16 measures pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Monday)could be passed in the upper chamber of Congress, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.

Sotto said that majority of the proposals that Duterte mentioned in his speech could easily hurdle the Senate. These include the implementation of Magna Carta for Barangays, the National Academy for Sports for High School, the establishment of Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Water Resources, Salary Standardization Law for Teachers and other government personnel, the Coco Levy Bill, the National Land Use Act, Mandatory ROTC Bill for Grades 11 & 12, the postponement of Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Elections, the Expansion of Malasakit Center, Fire Protection Modernization Bill and Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers & Plunder.

“Marami doon sa mga binanggit niya kakayanin talaga namin. As a matter of fact, nakikita ko, at least 16 sa mga sinabi niya malaki ang pag-asang mapasa lahat,” Sotto said in a radio interview.

The Senate President further said that although he supports Duterte’s call for the creation of new departments, he said it would be better to pass a law right-sizing the government to streamline government systems and services.

“Ayusin muna natin yung right-sizing. Kasi kung hindi tayo magra-right-sizing, blinow-up lang natin yung bureaucracy lalo. So, kung magra-right-sizing tayo, mababawasan yung mga departamento, na mga iba-t-ibang napakaraming departamento ng gobyerno ng maraming empleyado,” Sotto said.

(Let’s first work on rightsizing the government. Because if we don’t rightsize first, we will just blow up bureaucracy more. If we right-size, we would reduce the number of redundant departments, various agencies with too many employees.)

Among the measures mentioned in Duterte’s SONA, Sotto said the reimposition of death penalty for drug traffickers and plunder would face the strong opposition and lengthy debates.

“Tinitingnan ko yung listahan, pinakikinggan ko kahapon, puro talagang kayang-kaya at talagang dapat. Kailangang-kailangan. Yung lang reimposition ng death penalty siguro ang mahaba ang debate,” he said.

(I will look into the list. When I was listening to the speech yesterday, the bills he mentioned could easily pass in the Senate. The reimposition of death penalty may go through lengthy discussions.)

“If its confined to high level (drug) trafficking it stands a good chance to be as quicker or it can be passed in the Senate ngayon because of the mention of plunder, hindi maganda sa amin sa mga senador at sa mga congressman na hindi pumayag na hindi isama, kailangang isama, otherwise takot kami sa plunder,” he added.

(Senators and congressmen won’t look good if we exclude plunder. We need to include it, otherwise it would seem we are afraid of plunder.)

Former special assistant to the president and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, for his part, believes that passing heavier penalty for plunder would deter government officials from engaging in corrupt practices.  

“Kung pumasa ito, maaaring ikatakot ng mga magnanakaw sa gobyerno,” Go said.

(If this gets approved, it may deter corrupt government officials from committing plunder.)

For Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, the hardest among the challenges laid out by Duterte in his SONA is the liberation of six million Filipinos from poverty.

“This is the Six Million Challenge that confronts us all. It is the overarching Priority No. 1. It is the most demanding because it means 2 million of our countrymen must graduate from dehumanizing existence every year, if the objective is to uplift them within the next three years,” he said in a statement.

Recto added that even if the government would succeed in the Six-Million Challenge, there will still be about 15 million poor waiting to be liberated at the end of 2022.

“If there is one goal that should energize us, and consume our every waking hour, this is the one. This is a tall order that calls for a combination of solutions and the cooperation of all,” he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva, on the other hand, said he is inclined to look into Duterte’s proposal to include teachers in the next salary standardization law.

“Teachers play a critical role in shaping the hearts and minds of our youth. We need to make their efforts more rewarding so that they are kept motivated to fulfill their duties,” he said in a statement.

Villanueva also vowed to work with the President in his goal to provide comfortable lives for Filipinos at the end of his term.

Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, lauded Duterte for his speech that focused on matters of progress, peace and prosperity.

Angara added that he will not belabor the president for omitting other issues as it is impossible to cram all of the country’s problems in one speech.

“Hindi naman isang linggong pabasa ang SONA. What is important is that he talked about the things many of our people want to hear from him. It is a well-curated address,” he said in a statement.

He also said that after Duterte’s annual report to the nation, lawmakers and concerned agencies should “react with deeds.”

“It should be back to work for all of us,” he said.

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Sotto to study Duterte proposal on midnight liquor ban

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal for Congress to pass a measure on liquor ban and closure of establishments nationwide by midnight needs a thorough study, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.

Sotto said the proposal would be better if it is implemented first at the local level.

“Kailangang pag-aralan munang mabuti, paano gagawin, sapagkat baka mag-impose tayo kaagad ng national. Mas maganda siguro mag-local muna, mga local ordinances (It needs to be studied thoroughly, how it should be implemented. It would be better to start at the local level through ordinances),” he said in an interview over DZMM on Tuesday.

“Tingnan muna natin kung ano ‘yung magiging mga advantages at disadvantages nito. Baka lolokohin lang tayo nung mga bars, sabihin sarado sila pero…parang yung curfew nung araw? Sarado daw sila pero punong-puno yung loob? (We have to weigh its advantages and disadvantages. Bar owners might deceive us like what happened before when they claimed the establishment was closed but was full of clients inside),” he said.

However, the Senate President said he is not entirely ruling out the possibility of imposing such measure if the same alcohol restriction policy is already being imposed in other countries.

“Kung magandang pilot yung Davao, magandang mapag-aralan natin, baka pwedeng nationwide,” he said.

Duterte in State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday urged Congress to consider passing a measure on midnight liquor ban and closure of establishments and bars to “improve the quality of life.”

He said this policy is already being enforced in his hometown in Davao City.

READ: Duterte asks Congress to pass measure on midnight liquor ban

The president, however, clarified that he will not issue an executive order for his proposal and would leave the matter for Congress to “ponder on.”

Duterte first mentioned the idea of enforcing a nationwide liquor ban by midnight after he won the presidency in 2016. The president said this will help curb criminality.

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