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Japan trip could be ‘reward’, not a ‘junket’ – PH envoy

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bids farewell to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea before boarding a plane bound for Japan at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on May 28, 2019. The President is set to participate in the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

TOKYO, Japan — Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V said President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to the country may be a “reward” to Cabinet officials for the result of the 2019 midterm polls.

“Ito’y pabuya sa nakaraang eleksyon (It’s a reward for the elections),” Ambassador Laurel said in a press conference on Tuesday (May 28).

“But I think the President is so elated with the results of the midterm elections, that this is an affirmation of what his administration does in the last three years. It’s like a reward,” he added. 

Eight of the 12 administration candidates for the senatorial race won in the elections on May 13 which, according to Laurel, was an ‘affirmation’ of the administration’s actions.

Laurel, however, clarified that the trip was not a junket.

“It’s not a junket,” the Ambassador straightforwardly said.

“I can imagine that fellow (Duterte) who’s six months younger than me, I think is also getting tired with the kind of lifestyle and schedule that he has. My impression is it’s important that the Cabinet is here for reasons that they may ask the Japanese,” he added.

Ambassador Laurel explained that it was Nikkei, the host of the Future of Asia conference, that invited and paid for the President’s trip.

The Ambassador did not clear, however, if the organizer also shouldered the expenses of the Cabinet members and the local officials who joined the trip.

“Ito ay imbitasyon ng Nikkei. Sila ang sasagot ng gastos. Pagka-libre, sabihin sa kapitbahay. Mayroong gastos iyong mga alipores,” Laurel said

(This is by invitation from Nikkei. They will shoulder the expenses. If it’s free, tell the neighbors to join. The companions also incurred expenses.)

“Wala akong nalalaman na mayor o governor na darating na gastos ng gobyerno,” he added.

(I do not know of mayors or governors who are coming at the expense of the government.)

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, on the other hand, was quick to refute the statement of Ambassador Laurel, pointing out that his joining the President in Japan is a working trip and not a reward.

“I am part of the delegation because there will be issues related to agriculture which PRRD would bring up during the visit, especially tariff on bananas,” Piñol said.

“All that I know is this is a working trip and not a pabuya [reward] as the good Ambassador of the Philippines to Japan Jose Laurel V was quoted by the media,” he added.

Other Cabinet members who joined the President in the trip are Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.; Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III; Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez; Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat; Public Works Secretary Mark Villar; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles; Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia; Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar; National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.; and Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

President Duterte is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and attend an economic forum during his four-day visit in the island country. — MP

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PNP identify 11 suspects in Negros cops slay

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it has identified at least 11 suspects in the brutal killing of four police officers in Ayungon town in Negros Oriental.

“Yes, we have identified, kung hindi ako nagkakamali ang report ng RD (regional director) doon at least 11 of them,” PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde told reporters in an interview.

Albayalde said murder charges will be filed against the suspects who are believed to members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The chief of Barangay Mabato in Ayungon where the crime took place will also face charges.

“Cases will be filed against this people… whether yung sa amin ay may reward or none, we are duty-bound to go after these people dahil pinatay nila no less than our men,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier offered a P1.3 million bounty for any information and the capture of those behind the crime, adding that he prefers to see them dead.

READ: Duterte offers P1.3-M reward for killers of 4 Negros cops

Albayalde said the reward would encourage witnesses to come forward and report to authorities what really transpired.

Reports said the four police officers were allegedly killed and tortured by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) last Thursday in Ayungon.

The victims were supposed to meet an informant who was believed to have set them up with the NPA for an ambush.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office 7 said the four cops were “dragged, hogtied,” and “ganged up” by about 30 to 40 men. One officer even suffered a broken rib before they were shot kneeling down, “resembling a summary execution, more than an ambush.”

The slain cops, Cpl. Relebert Beronio and Patrolmen Raffy Callo, Roel Cabellon and Marquino de Leon were intelligence personnel from the 704th Mobile Force Company Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the PNP Central Visayas.

Albayalde said they are delving deeper into the case following initial reports that the chief of Mabato village met with the victims several hours before they were killed on July 18.

The PNP chief also doubts the local chief’s claim that he knows nothing of the communist rebels’ activities in his area of jurisdiction.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier said that police and military troops are now working to capture the alleged NPA members who were behind the crime. (with details from Lea Ylagan & Victor Cosare)

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Duterte offers P1.3-M reward for killers of 4 Negros cops

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte visits the wake of 4 cops who were allegedly killed and tortured by members of the communist New People’s Army last Thursday, July 18, in Ayungon, Negros Oriental. Photo Courtesy of Sen. Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to give P1.3-million reward for those behind the brutal killing of four police officers in Negros Oriental.

Duterte initially offered P1-million bounty for the capture of the perpetrators of the crime that happened in Ayungon town on July 18. But on Monday (July 22), he raised the amount of the reward, adding that he prefers to see the killers dead.

“Mas gusto kong patay sila. Kung patay sila, magdagdag pa ako ng 300 [P300,000]. So, it’s one million three hundred [P1.3 million]. Just bring me the head of that idiot leader there,” the president told reporters after his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa Complex.

(I prefer them dead. If they are dead, I would add P300,000. So, it’s P1.3 million.)

Reports said the four police officers were allegedly killed and tortured by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) last Thursday in Ayungon.

The victims were supposed to meet an informant who was believed to have set them up with the NPA for an ambush.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office 7 said the four cops were “dragged, hogtied,” and “ganged up” by about 30 to 40 men. One officer also suffered a broken rib before they were shot kneeling down, “resembling a summary execution, more than an ambush.”

The president has expressed outrage over the incident.

“Kasi masama ang loob ko kung bakit ganoon? For all of the years… I’ve been mayor in Davao and for the many times that I went to the mountains to retrieve captured soldiers and policemen, ni wala akong nakita ni isang trauma sa. Ito dito, pinatay nila, pinaghampas-hampas nila at ginulgol ‘yung leeg. Kaya galit ako,” he said.

The slain cops, Cpl. Relebert Beronio and Patrolmen Raffy Callo, Roel Cabellon and Marquino de Leon were intelligence personnel from the 704th Mobile Force Company Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the PNP Central Visayas.

The president visited their wake last Saturday and conferred them with the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kalasag medals. This award is bestowed to government officials and private individuals who lost their lives as a direct result of their participation in the campaign or advocacy of the President.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), for its part, said the PNP is now working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the capture of the alleged NPA members who were behind the crime.

The DILG also assured to extend financial assistance to the family of the slain cops. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte laid proposed charter change to rest – Drilon

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believes that President Rodrigo Duterte has already laid the proposed Charter change to rest when he left it out of his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Drilon said the president’s silence on federalism indicates that charter change is not a priority of the Duterte administration anymore.

“What’s more telling in the President’s speech is not what he said but what he did not say. That speaks volumes. For me, the non-inclusion of federalism indicates that the Cha-cha was laid to rest yesterday. The SONA became Cha-cha’s ‘final resting place,'” Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

Duterte has been pushing for federalism and charter change since he came to power in 2016. But during his media interview after the SONA on Monday night, the president said federalism and the proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution may not happen during his term.

READ: Duterte leaves out Cha-cha, federalism in 4th SONA

House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano earlier said he would push to extend the term of office of lawmakers.

But based on the chief executive’s statement, Drilon said those who have plans to revive Charter change in the 18th Congress “should better think twice.”

“It will be an exercise in futility,” he said.

Meanwhile, the senator also expressed support to some of Duterte’s “wish-list” to Congress, except for his call to reimpose the death penalty in the country.

“We do not agree that death penalty is the solution to our illegal drugs and corruption problems. Death penalty is anti-poor,” Drilon said, adding that what needs to be done is strengthen the country’s justice system which he describes as “weak,” and “very prone to error.”

“We may not always see eye to eye with the President on certain issues, but in terms of legislation that will benefit the country, we are always ready to support him,” he further said.

The lawmaker said he is supporting Duterte’s proposed salary standardization law, the increase in teacher’s salary and the creation of a water department.

He said two of his pet bills call for the increase in the salary of teachers and the creation of the Philippine Water Commission to manage and regulate the country’s water resources.

Drilon also said they are also ready to examine all the other measures stated in the SONA.

“We are willing to listen and take a look at the proposals on the proposed tax reform law, the Land Use Act and the creation of the disaster management department,” he said.

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