Iceland hopes PH gov’t will work with UN drug war probe

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2019   •   1439

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Iceland expressed hope that the Philippines will cooperate with the investigation that would be conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) amid allegations of human rights violation in relation with the government’s war on illegal drugs.

Icelandic Foreign Miniser Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson made the statement in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments, slamming the Nordic island nation after it endorsed a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“The resolution is very modest, focusing on impartiality and cooperation with the U.N. to get clarity around the contested facts. I sincerely hope that this will eventually prompt Philippine authorities to work with the U.N.,” he said.

Last Friday (July 12), Duterte criticized Iceland, saying it does not understand the problems faced by the Philippines.

“Ano ang problema ng Iceland? Ice lang. That’s your problem you have too much ice and there is no clear day or night there. Parang alas kwatro ng hapon ang araw pati gabi. So you can understand why there is no crime, there is no policemen either, and they just go about eating ice… they don’t understand the social, economic, political problems of the Philippines,” he said in a speech during the 28th anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Camp Aguinaldo.

The UNHRC on Thursday adopted the Iceland-led resolution seeking for a comprehensive review on the alleged human rights violations under Duterte’s drug war.

Eighteen countries voted for the resolution, 14 rejected it, including the Philippines and China while 15 nations abstained.

With the adoption of the resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines’ human rights situation by June 2020.

The Philippine government has lambasted the passage of the resolution in a poll held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Malacañang earlier said the adoption of the ‘grotesquely one-sided’ resolution is an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction on the kind of “forceful and effective” governance of Duterte.

READ: Palace slams UN resolution as ‘grotesquely one-sided’ and ‘insulting’

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin also rejected the Iceland-led resolution and warned of “far-reaching consequences” for nations who supported the resolution.

Rights advocates have claimed that thousands of people have died since Duterte launched his campaign against illegal drugs in 2016.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights earlier called on the government to fully cooperate with the UN probe “to show that it has nothing to hide and is willing to adhere to the global standards expected of a member of the UNHRC.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Senate OKs bill giving Duterte power to delay class opening during public crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte ‘flexibility’ to schedule the opening of classes in schools during a state of emergency.

Voting 23-0, senators on Monday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1541, which proposes to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act 7797, a law which sets the opening of school-year as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the country.

Once enacted into law, the bill would authorize the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education, to set the opening of classes nationwide or in selected areas at any date during a state of emergency or calamity.

A similar measure has been approved in the committee level in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The approval of the proposed measure comes amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected millions of people worldwide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

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)

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