Israelis protest arms sale to the Philippines as Duterte, Rivlin meet

admin   •   September 5, 2018   •   11813

 

A protester holding a banner showing Duterte holding up an Israeli made Galil assault rifle | REUTERS

Israelis staged a protest against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Jerusalem on Tuesday (September 4) as the Filipino leader met with his counterpart Reuven Rivlin.

Duterte, on a four-day visit to Israel and Jerusalem, thanked Rivlin and welcomed further defense deals with Israel that were on the president’s trip’s agenda alongside tourism and labor deals.

The visit is aimed at cementing relationships between the Asian power and booming Israel, both historical U.S. allies.

The Philippine military, coast guard, and police have in the past acquired defense systems and weapons from Israel. But the Asian power has also purchased arms from other countries as well.

The Israeli defense ministry said it does not comment on the country’s defense exports.

In front of the presidential residence, a handful of protesters demonstrated against a possible weapons deal between the two countries.

The protesters chanted “shame” and “fascist” at Duterte and held up banners depicting the president with an Israeli-made Galil assault rifle, reading ‘Stop the Killings’.

Duterte who also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial on Monday (September 3) departs for neighboring Jordan on Wednesday (September 5). — Reuters

Guevarra on order to probe corruption in entire gov’t: ‘Toughest task from Duterte’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that the order for him to conduct a government-wide probe of corruption is his “toughest” assignment ever received from President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte directed the DOJ to expand the role of its task force, which probed the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to cover the entire government.

He also authorized the DOJ to decide on which allegation to investigate taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.

The chief executive also granted DOJ the power to create as many panels as necessary and direct other government agencies to be part of such committees.

Duterte said his directive will remain in effect until the end of his term on June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.

“Apart from my usual responsibilities as SOJ, this new assignment is the toughest I have ever received from the President,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“I will need all the support and cooperation of the entire government machinery to achieve this singular objective of substantially reducing corruption in government,” he added.

Considering the scope of the task, Guevarra said he will first determine the overall strategy and the order of priorities as well as the setting up of the expanded anti-corruption task force.

“Tentatively, I am thinking of creating several strike forces that will simultaneously attack various corruption-prone agencies,” he said.

Guevarra also said that he intends to immediately focus on the organizational set-up and mechanism that will carry out the president’s directive.

The Justice Secretary added that it would also help if government workers and other people would come forward to provide the task force with the necessary information to uncover corrupt activities and identify perpetrators.

“The new and expanded anti-corruption task force will take it from there,” he said.

The DOJ already leads an inter-agency task force, formed in August, that probed alleged corruption in the PhilHealth which resulted in the filing of complaints against several officials, including former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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Duterte promises to settle PhilHealth’s multi-million debt to Philippine Red Cross

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte assures the public that the government will settle what it owes to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing. 

The President said the government will present its plan to the Commission on Audit (COA) and will look for funds through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Itong Red Cross, wag ka mag-aalala, babayaran ito (To the Red Cross, don’t you worry. You will get paid). We’re just looking for a way to present the solution to COA pati sa Budget. Do not worry we will pay. It will take time but we will pay, we will look for the money,” he said during his public address, Monday evening (October 19).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government hopes to settle at least 50 percent of more than P930 million owed to PRC as soon as possible.

“We hope to settle at least 50% of that amount as soon as possible. And the rest also within reasonable time,” he said.

The arrears came from expenses incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the PRC in relation to the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR testing for coronavirus infection.

The President reiterated that the government’s priorities amid the pandemic are providing medical attention to the Filipinos and procuring medical equipment.

He also believes that the PRC through its chairman Senator Richard Gordon will understand the government’s position on the matter.

“What I’m really trying to say is we will pay. Sabi ko kay Senator Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ito,” the President said. 

Nonetheless, the government has assured the public that the COVID-19 testing in the country will not be affected by the debts owed to the PRC.

Specimens from returning overseas Filipino workers as well as from frontliners which used to be accommodated by the PRC will now be sent to more than 100 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country for processing. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Israel allows re-entry of foreign caregivers

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The State of Israel’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) has allowed the entry and re-entry of foreign workers in the caregiving sector, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said in an advisory.

These include Filipino caregivers who were not able to return to Israel due to the travel restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“The re-entry policy covers licensed foreign caregivers who left Israel to visit their home country prior to the country’s March 18, 2020 travel restriction as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19,” the POEA said.

Israel’s Ministry of Interior also expanded the entry outline of foreign workers in the caregiving section including issuance of work permits for foreign caregivers entering Israel for the first time. 

“The entry of both vacationing and new caregivers will be subjected to an official application from the employer/patient’s family with the Population and Immigration Bureau, as well as required to follow all the conditions on their quarantine,” the agency explained. 

As such, upon arrival in Israel, the caregiver must undergo quarantine for 14 days in a facility which is not at the employer/patient’s home. 

The expenses and financial needs of the caregiver during the entire quarantine period will be shouldered by the employer, while the worker will not be paid of his/her salary during the quarantine.

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