House closely working with intel units for Duterte’s 4th SONA security

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1608

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Joint Session of the 17th Congress at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives Complex in Constitution Hills, Quezon City on July 23, 2018.
(Image courtesy of PCOO/KARL NORMAN ALONZO)

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday said it is closely working with government intelligence agencies for the security of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Retired Major General Romeo Prestoza said they are directly coordinating with relevant intelligence units to evaluate any risks to the House or President Duterte during the SONA.

He said the increased security follows the recent bombings that rocked Sulu in Mindanao.

“Well part of it kasi, sa experience ko kasi I’ve been an intelligence officer for 27 years, those things talagang kinoconsider namin. Hindi namin pinapabayaan, tinitingnan namin,” Prestoza said in a press briefing about the SONA 2019 preparations.

“That’s why we initiate ‘yung direct na contact with the NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency), ISAFP (Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines) and other intelligence units to see kung meron talagang connection or possibility na umabot dito,” he added.

However, Prestoza assured they have yet to see substantial security threats to the upcoming SONA, which Duterte will deliver at the Batasang Pambansa.

“When it comes to security threats, wala pa namang substantial, meaning talagang wala pang nakarating na actual na threat,” he said.

He also emphasized that the House security is prepared and well-equipped to handle security issues.

“We have extensive training and seminars to include simulation exercises and tabletop exercises para in case na meron nga, we would be prepared. Even ‘yung protocols, when it comes to emergencies ginagawa din namin,” Prestoza said.

When it comes to directing signal jammers on SONA day, Prestoza said the Presidential Security Group (PSG) shall be responsible for it based on their assessment of the proceedings.

“Kung kailangan nila or they feel they need to initiate na the jamming procedure, sila makakapag-dictate noon. I cannot dictate it,” he said.

In the same press briefing, House Acting Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling said that preparation activities for SONA remain on track and are the same as in previous years.

“Basically, the preparation has been the same through the years except siguro for very minor details, mga maliliit na arrangements lang. It doesn’t really deviate from what has been happening from the past years,” Maling said.

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

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)

House solon wants charter change proposals shelved ‘indefinitely’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020

Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday said he will propose the suspension of deliberations on the controversial charter change (Cha-Cha) proposals amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said he is inclined to recommend to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to “shelve Cha-Cha indefinitely” to focus on discussing measures to address the public health crisis and help the Filipino people prepare for the ‘new normal’.

The lawmaker made the proposal following claims that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other advocates initiated moves to gather up to two million signatures in support of Cha-Cha.

“This is not the time for the DILG and its allies to relaunch their signature drive and renew their push for Cha-cha. They should postpone it until this health crisis is over,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“So my message to Cha-cha advocates and their DILG patrons is: stop it, it won’t fly while there is a pandemic,” he added.

Rodriguez said pushing for Cha-Cha can wait as Congress will first have to attend to measures that will “save lives and the livelihood of our people.”

The DILG earlier denied it has launched a signature campaign for Cha-Cha, branding these reports as fake news. RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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