House leaders concede on Duterte’s call to abolish Road Board

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2018   •   1652

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.

PASAY CITY, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the House of Representatives will heed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to abolish the Road Board due to allegations of corruptions surrounding the agency.

“The President has spoken. We heard his message to the House. We will act based on his guidance. As an institution, we will heed the President’s call,” Andaya said in a statement.

Andaya earlier claimed that he had talked to the President who allegedly agreed to maintain the board and release the road users’ tax.

Also, Andaya alleged that Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno were ‘out of touch’ for saying that the President wanted the Road Board abolished.

But on Friday (December 21), President Duterte clarified his position on the issue and said he supports the Senate on abolishing the graft-ridden agency.

“And I had a talk with president Arroyo and apparently there was a misunderstanding because all along I really wanted to abolish the road tax. And Andaya says now that I — was one of those who said that it should be maintained. No, nagkamali sila doon. My feelings about that board is — was at the strongest against its being there. Kasi walang ginawa ‘yan kung hindi ma-corrupt,” the President said during the Change of Command Ceremony at the Philippine Air Force base in Pasay City.

The Road Board is the agency tasked to manage the road users’ tax known as the ‘motor vehicle user’s charge’ (MVUC) which funds road repairs and maintenance works. It has made headlines for allegedly serving as “cash cow” to corrupt government officials that’s why the President wants it abolished.

The Senate has adopted and approved the HOR’s version of the proposal to abolish the Road Board.

Both Houses of Congress passed the bill during the Speakership of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

The Lower House, however, rescinded its approval on the bill when Speaker Gloria Arroyo took over.

With the decision coming from the President, Andaya said the Lower House can now “concentrate on the scrutiny of the 2018 budget, parked pork and P75-billion DBM insertions.”

Andaya said, however, that the House will support the abolition if the tax from the MVUC will become part of the annual budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as line-item fund in the General Appropriations Act.

He also insists that “non-road user activities” such as garbage collection be removed from the spending menu.

Andaya assured that: “If the President will send a better bill and certify it as urgent, the House, convinced of its merits, will approve it without delay.” – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace opposes Urban Dictionary definition of ‘Duterte’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

The Malacañang refuted the Urban Dictionary for defining ‘Duterte’ as ‘to scam, trick, or con.

During a press briefing on Tuesday (Aug 20), Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will seek to counter the definition on the website.

“‘Duterte’ to us means honest, incorruptible, politically-willed person, courageous, selfless, honest, transparent and all good things…and other synonymous terms,” Panelo said.

The definition was uploaded by an unknown internet user one month ago. Urban Dictionary is crowd-sourced online dictionary for slang words and phrases.

Panelo suspects, the uploader might be a member of anti-Duterte groups.—AAC

Malacañang leaves it to PAO Chief to decide on resigning amid corruption complaint

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is letting Atty. Persida Acosta to decide on whether or not to resign as Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) following complaints of corruption.

PAO lawyers filed the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman accusing the PAO Chief and forensics chief Erwin Erfe of corrupt practices in relation to the disbursements and allocation of the PAO budget.

Acosta and Erfe allegedly committed a ‘systematic scheme’ in diverting P13 million of the agency’s budget for office supplies for drafting Dengvaxia-related cases.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said that knowing President Rodrigo Duterte, his trust in his officials remains unless reports of irregularities are proven.

“Si President, hangga’t walang findings of probable cause, palaging andun ang trust (President (Duterte’s) trust on a person remains unless there is no finding of a probable cause),” Panelo said.

“Pero kung may probable cause na, ibang usapan iyon, then there will be suspension galing sa Ombudsman. Hindi naman teritoryo ni president iyon (But once a probable cause is established, that’s a different story. There will be suspension coming from the Ombudsman. It is no longer the President’s territory),” the Palace Spokesman concluded. – MNP (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Malacañang wants China to explain ‘offending passage’ of warships in Sibutu Strait

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang wants Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua to explain the unauthorized passage of Chinese warships in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi which the Philippine government considers as “offending”.

The Philippine military couldn’t consider it an ‘innocent passage’ because the vessel maneuvered and the crew turned off the vessel’s automatic identification systems (AIS) perhaps to avoid being noticed.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo said he will definitely raise the matter to Ambassador Zhao.

“We will call their attention,” he said.

“The Chinese ambassador invited me for a dinner one of these days and maybe I will raise that to him,” he added.

The Palace stressed such unauthorized move was a clear violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Violation ng UNCLOS iyan kung dumaraan sa ating EEZ (That’s violation of the UNCLOS if they pass/enter our EEZ),” Panelo said.

“I’m sure the DFA Secretary will do something about that,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to travel to China later this month and according to Panelo, President Duterte maintains he will insist The Hague’s arbitral ruling with Chinese President Xi Jinping even if China is not accepting the decision. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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