EXCLUSIVE: Joma says peace talks in Manila ‘will be a big problem,’ denies coming back to PH

Marje Pelayo   •   June 21, 2018   •   3476

CPP Founder and NDFP Chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison

 

UTRECHT, The Netherlands – Communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said he is amenable to President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to resume peace talks between the Philippine government (GPH) and his group in pursuit of lasting peace in the country.

However, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is adamant that he will not come back to the Philippines for the talks, contrary to reports that he has agreed to return to the country sometime in August this year.

“Kung maaantala ang peace negotiations ng one, two or three months, hindi problema. Pero malaking problema kapag pilitin ni Duterte na sa Manila ang venue,” Sison said in an exclusive interview with UNTV News in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Wednesday, June 20.

Sison insists that peace talks should be done on a neutral ground with the presence of a third party facilitator as stated in The Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

He admitted that he is fed up with the peace deal being shuttled back and forth. Still, he said, the communist group tries to understand all the reasons given by  the GPH peace panel for the series of cancellations.

“Kahit na disappointing and frustrating iyong pag kansela, kung postponement lamang ang gusto ng gobyerno ni Duterte at sa neutral venue pa rin gagawin ang peacetalks at ang Royal Norweigan Government pa rin ang third party facilitator, ay walang problema,” he explained.

Sison claims Duterte seems to be unaware of the actions of the government negotiating panel. It would explain, he said, why the President had been flip-flopping on whether or not to resume the peace deal.

“Lalo na ang principal mukhang hindi niya nasusundan ang ginagawa ng mga kinatawan niya. Pero sabi naman ng mga kinatawan niya, wala silang sinasabi at kinikilos na hindi aprubado ng principal nila,” Sison said referring to Duterte and the GPH negotiators.

Despite the uncertainties, the self-exiled leader remains positive that time will come that the two parties will resolve differences and finally end the country’s decade-long communist insurgency. — Cynthia Teruel / Marje Pelayo

Duterte relieves BI employees tagged in ‘pastillas scheme’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 20, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has relieved the officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who are linked to the ‘pastillas scheme’.

The so-called ‘pastillas’ bribery scheme provides ‘VIP treatment’ to Chinese nationals who will pay P10,000 to Immigration officials.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, charges are also expected to be filed against the involved personnel.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has relieved all officials and employees of the Bureau of Immigration who are involved in the latest bribery scheme where they purportedly facilitate the entry into—and exit from—Philippine territory of foreigners working for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) for an unauthorized fee,” he said.

The Palace official did not mention the identities of the involved Immigration employees or how many were relieved from service.

“May nag-report, may nag-reklamo (Someone filed a report, complaint), and apparently the proof constitutes probable cause. That’s why they were sacked,” Panelo added.

Meanwhile, Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts BI Chief Jaime Morente. However, there will be a follow-up Cabinet meeting to discuss the present situation in the Immigration Bureau.

“The present situation in the Bureau of Immigration, as well as how it is being run by Commissioner Jaime Morente, will be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte issues EO imposing medicine price cap

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 18, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order that will impose price cap on medicines.

Based on Executive Order (EO) 104 or Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP) price regulations will be imposed through a maximum retail price (MRP) and maximum wholesale price (MWP) system.

“Access to affordable and quality drugs and medicines is now a reality under the Duterte administration. This is part of the real and lasting reform, which President Duterte has instituted in order that all Filipinos can live decent and comfortable lives,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The EO is expected to lower the cost of medicines as much as 56 percent by May. In the first phase of MDRP, 87 medicines for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung diseases, major cancers, and other diseases have been included.

The Department of Health (DOH) has proposed 122 medicines and is reviewing to include more.

“DOH, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and stakeholders, was also tasked to review the price reduction of the remaining 35 drugs to finalize the list covered by the EO,” according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The DOH is set to release the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said EO.

Duque also warned pharmaceutical companies or drug stores not abiding by the EO may face up to 15 years of imprisonment.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Duterte to visit tourist sites to boost tourism amid COVID-19 threat

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte prepares to board a helicopter after gracing the inauguration of the Sangley Airport Development Project in Cavite City on February 15, 2020. ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte will visit popular tourist sites in the Philippines to promote local tourism amid the COVID-19 threat.

READ: It’s more fun in the Philippines: Duterte invites Filipinos to visit local tourism sites amid Covid-19 fears

The President may travel to Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol to attract more visitors and potentially make up for the losses of the current travel ban in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

“He’s a magnet. His presence attracts people from attending an event,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Usec. Art Boncato said they will schedule a trip as soon as possible.

“We’re of course lining up destinations like Boracay, Cebu for instance even Bohol, as the initial list of destinations for the president most probably visit within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

READ: Duterte asks local carriers, hotels to help boost PH tourism amid COVID-19 threat

Tourism industry stakeholders agreed to help boost domestic travel by offering discounted airfare and hotel rates following a meeting with President Duterte.

“Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Pasyal tayo dito sa atin. Unahin natin ‘yung atin. Mabuhay ang Pilipino. Mabuhay ang turismo ng Pilipinas,” Duterte said on his video message.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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