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

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2019   •   1884

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 doesn’t want to rest despite doctor’s advice – Bong Go

Robie de Guzman   •   November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t want to heed his doctor’s advice to take a rest, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Wednesday.

Go, a former top aide of Duterte, said the president prefers to continue working and performing his official duties while he is staying in his hometown in Davao City.

“Sa totoo lang, ayaw magpahinga ng Pangulo, kahit sabihin mong he was advised by the doctor to rest,” he told reporters in Malacañang.

“Hindi po siya makatagal sa bahay at talagang gusto niyang magtrabaho at gumala,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday said the chief executive would go on a three-day break but later said he would just work from home in Davao City.

The Palace previously said the president’s doctor had advised him to limit his physical activity after he complained of “unbearable” pain in his spine following a minor motorcycle accident within the Malacañang complex on Oct. 16.

Duterte was in Japan to attend Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony when he complained of spinal ache and had to cut his trip short. After consultation with his doctor, Panelo said the president experienced a muscle spasm.

Go assured that Duterte is in good shape, adding that the chief executive is set to visit North Cotabato on Friday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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