Filipino boat captain laments Duterte’s remark on West PH Sea allision incident

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2019   •   2362

(L-R) The wreckage of sunken F/B GEM-VIR 1 and its captain,Jonel Insigne

The captain of the Philippine fishing vessel which was hit by a Chinese ship near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday lamented the remark of President Rodrigo Duterte which seemed to downplay the allision as just a “maritime accident.”

Jonel Insigne said the incident should not be deemed as little and ordinary because the lives of the crew members of the F/B GEM-VIR 1 were endangered when the Chinese vessel rammed into their boat and abandoned them at sea on June 9.

In a speech at an event in Cavite on Monday night, Duterte described the allision as a “little maritime accident” and told the Philippine Navy to stay out of trouble.

“Pero ‘yang nangyari diyan sa banggaan, that is a maritime incident. ‘Wag kayong maniwala sa mga politiko na bobo, gusto papuntahin ‘yung Navy. You do not send gray ships there. Banggaan lang ng barko ‘yan, do not make it worse because that’s a fertile ground,” Duterte said.

“Stay out of trouble. Just build on our own. ‘Wag muna tayong makialam. Do not allow a little maritime accident or intentional, go to, pahinga ka muna, pahinga muna kayo,” he added.

But Insigne maintained that the allision was no accident and called on the Chinese crew to just own up to their fault and face the consequence of their actions.

“Bakit hindi pa nila amininin na sila ang bumangga sa amin? Talagang sinadya nila. Tsaka bakit ‘yung pagbangga sa amin, hindi nila kami tinulungan?” Insigne said.

He also insisted that it would be impossible for the Chinese ship not to see them because their vessel was well-lit.

According to Duterte, he will no longer add to his statement about the incident and that he would rather wait for the result of the investigation being conducted by concerned agencies.

“And I do not now issue statement because there is no investigation and there is no result. Then the only thing we can do is to wait and give the other party the right to be heard. Importante ‘yan, eh,” the president said.

Despite Duterte’s remark, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the administration is not belittling the incident. A “strongly-worded” diplomatic protest against China has also been filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In the end, Insigne just appealed to the government for livelihood and financial assistance for the Filipino crew.

The Filipino crew, who were later rescued by Vietnamese fishermen after several hours at sea, also called on authorities to ensure that the Chinese crew will be held accountable. (correspondents Rosalie Coz and Sherwin Culubong contributed to this report)

U.S. shoemakers face losses amid China, U.S. trade tension

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 18, 2019

Shoemakers in the United States are facing losses over the tit-for-tat tariffs amid the trade tension between China and the U.S.

Xero Shoes is an American brand of lightweight minimalist footwear designed for walking, running and athletics. According to Steven Sashen, CEO of the company, their shoes and sandals have thin and flexible soles that are contoured to the shape of the human foot.

“It really reflects the essence of what we’re doing, which is something so lightweight, so minimalist, so barely there that you don’t know that it exists,” said Sashen.

Sashen started the company with his wife Lena Phoenix 10 years ago. Their 80-percent online business has taken off with 84-percent growth in the past four years.

Yet as another round of U.S. tariff took effect from early September, Sashen’s products are now 15 percent more expensive to import from China, where all of his shoes are made.

Lena Phoenix, co-founder of Xero Shoes, says one possible solution is to uproot their supply chain. Yet such move would take time and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“We don’t want to leave China. Moving factories is very dangerous for a company of our size,” said Phoenix.

“People just say very casually: well why don’t you move to Vietnam for example? Well, cause Vietnam is full. They’re overcapacity already,” said Sashen.

They’ve also thought about raising shoe prices in response to the tariff.

“While we have a rabid fan base and many people say we’re happy to pay a few dollars more. That’s what people love to say, but when push comes to shove, people are very price-conscious,” said Sashen.

“We’re going to hold prices as long as we can,” said Phoenix.

Sashen and Phoenix are not the only ones facing such dilemma. Xero joined forces with about 200 other footwear companies to write to President Trump last month, urging him to cancel the newly planned additional tariffs on goods imported from China.

The letter points out that the tariffs on footwear products imported from China are already at a high level of 11 percent on average, and will reach 67 percent on some shoes after the new tariffs take effect.

According to the letter, the 15 percent tariff will cost U.S. shoe consumers an additional four billion U.S. dollars every year, which may create further economic uncertainty.

“It’s almost impossible to come up with a coherent strategy because of how in flux all of this is,” said Sashen.

Xero is now trying to come up with a long-range manufacturing plan.

“It forces you to step out of your comfort zone and be innovative and thoughtful about how to go forward long-term,” said Michael Wellman, the vice president of the company’s Asia Pacific Development.

Meanwhile, the shoe-makers are also hoping for near-term relief for the footwear industry, which was relatively highly taxed even before the trade war picked up speed.

“There’s a part of me that’s still in denial, that hopes that it’s going to be resolved next month,” said Phoenix. (REUTERS)

Duterte wants to speed up release of sickly, aging prisoners

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to speed up the release of sickly and aging prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Duterte specifically wants to fast-track the release of inmates who are 70 years old and above.

“I’ll ask the administration, whoever will take over or the Secretary of Justice to fast-track ‘yung mga may sakit na at talagang matatanda na. Ako mag-set ako, 70 years old or 75, 70,” he told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.

The chief executive pointed out that elderly and sick prisoners within the said age bracket can no longer run nor commit criminal acts. Most of them also do not want to be released anymore.

“Hindi na marunong mag-holdup ‘yan. Hindi na makatakbo ‘yan,” he said.

Duterte made the statement in the wake of the controversy on the early release of heinous crime convicts from the NBP through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

The president earlier set a 15-day deadline for some 1,914 heinous criminals freed due to the GCTA rule to surrender or face re-arrest.

READ: Duterte orders freed heinous crime convicts to surrender

READ: Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Two days before the ultimatum lapses on Sept. 19, Duterte offered a P1 million bounty for each heinous crime convict who failed to comply with the order. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is offering a P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convict released through Republic Act 10592 or the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA)law who will fail to surrender to authorities before or on Sept. 19.

Duterte made the announcement two days before his 15-day ultimatum for GCTA-freed convicts to surrender lapses.

“Basta ako sinabi ko, I will just set the timeline and then the P1 million prize is available to those who can capture them dead or alive. But maybe dead would be a better option,” the president told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

“I will pay you smiling. Ibalik ko ‘yan preso, makakain pa ‘yang p***** i**** ‘yan. Gagastos pa ako,” he added.

Last Sept. 4, Duterte ordered convicts who were freed early for good behavior to present themselves within 15 days to the nearest police or military camp for the investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

He warned that those who will fail to comply with the order would be treated as fugitives.

As of Wednesday (Sept. 18), a total of 964 GCTA-freed convicts have surrendered to authorities and are now under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) custody, according to the Department of Justice.

This number is more than half of the 1,914 heinous criminals who were released for good behavior under the expanded GCTA rule.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and a Senate inquiry into the issue revealed the alleged modes of corruption in the national penitentiary involving several BuCor employees.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law, which was enacted in 2013 during the time of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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