Landbank vows to submit plans for farmers after Duterte threat

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2019   •   2457

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) has promised to submit its plans and programs for the agriculture sector following a threat from President Rodrigo Duterte that he would have it abolished for failure to serve its purpose.

Landbank is the main depository and servicing bank of the government with a special focus on serving the needs of farmers and fishermen in the countryside.

During his fourth state of the nation address (SONA) on Monday (July 22), the President lambasted the Landbank for being “mired in so many commercial transactions” while doing little to help out farmers and coconut growers.

The President said, “You know, you are called Landbank but you are now the number one commercial bank in the Philippines. What the heck is happening to you? You are supposed to finance agricultural enterprises and endeavors. Bakit wala (Why none)?”

“Go to the countryside and ask the people if there are cooperatives, tulungan ninyo to form one,” he added.

The President has given the Landbank until end of July to submit a viable plan for agricultural institutions and the local farmers otherwise he will ask Congress to act.

“I’m asking now Congress, if there is no viable plan for that for the farmers and it is just all commercial transactions, might as well abolish it (Landbank),” he warned.

In response, Landbank in a statement on Tuesday (July 23) vowed to comply with the President’s instructions and promised to further enhance its service channels to reach its primary clients – “the small farmers and fishers, and the agricultural sector at large.”

“We shall also be strengthening partnerships with cooperatives farmer groups and associations as well as collaboration with other key agencies and government units,” the Landbank said in the statement.

“As a matter of fact, together with the office of the provincial governor of Cotabato, we have a scheduled roadshow with initially 400 farmers, including those who never had financial access. This will just be the first of many,” it added.

Lawmakers deny links to DPWH corruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

The eight current and former lawmakers named by President Rodrigo Duterte to have been involved in the corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have denied the said allegation.

Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Sato, in a statement, said her inclusion in the list is to out malign her credibility especially with the upcoming elections.

“The report made by Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica which impinges on my credentials as a public servant is clearly calculated to sow intrigues and disruption in the local politics of Occidental Mindoro,” she said.

Sato said Belgica is a known ally of her possible opponent in the 2022 elections.

Former Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. said he is currently not facing any investigations involving corruption.

Baguilat reiterated that he will not go through the lengths of promoting Cordillera products had he been accepting kickbacks from the DPWH projects.

Misamis Occidental Representative Henry Oaminal also released a statement welcoming the investigations to be conducted on the issue to prove his innocence.

Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman also expressed her willingness to cooperate in any investigation to clear her name.

“I am open to any investigation to establish the truth on this matter and I am sure that my honor will be vindicated. My conscience is clear,” she said in a statement.

Quezon City 5th District Representative Alfred Vargas, meanwhile, has insisted that his 12 years in public service has been unblemished.

“I am ready to submit myself to an investigation by the proper authority. Mere allegations are not proof,” he said.

Quezon Province Representative Angelina Helen Tan, meanwhile, challenge the PACC to visit the project in Gumaca and not base their allegations on anonymous tips and reports.

Northern Samar Representative Paul Daza said there might be former DPWH contractors who might have put his name on the list especially after his office exposed alleged anomalies in the department’s projects.

“Records and history will show that it was my office who exposed former elected officials and contractors for abandoning projects. Because of my call for an investigation, I believe no less than six (6) of them have already been blacklisted by the DPWH recently,” he said.

ACT-CIS Partylist Representative Eric Yap reiterated he was not involved in any DPWH bidding in Benguet. He is also willing to resign if proven guilty of the allegations against him.

Once the session resumes at the House of Representatives, Yap said he will file a motion to investigate Belgica regarding alleged anomalies in the Duty-Free Philippines. -AAC (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte proposes new task force on new COVID-19 variant

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 28, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has proposed the creation of a task force that would focus on the new variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

After the emergence of the new strain in the United Kingdom (UK) and several other countries, President Rodrigo Duterte called for an emergency meeting on Saturday (December 26).

“I would suggest that we create a panel whose job would be only to observe the different progression and the identification of the new strain,” he said.

Duterte reiterated the need to prepare through stricter border control, surveillance, and enhanced monitoring of cases in other countries. The national government already extended the (UK) travel ban until January 14.

The COVID-19 variant was also detected in Japan, Canada, Singapore, and Australia. AAC

Duterte to veto items in the proposed 2021 national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to veto several items in the proposed 2021 national budget, the Palace confirmed on Friday (December 25).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the ceremonial signing for the P4.5 trillion national budget is scheduled for Monday (December 28). The Palace official, however, did not disclose which items in the national budget will be vetoed by the President.

“Sigurado po na magkakaroon po ng veto message. Pero I am not at liberty to discuss po kung ano itong mga items na ito (I am sure there will be a veto message, but I am not at liberty to discuss what theses items are),” he said.

The education sector will receive the bulk of the budget with P708.2 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P694.8 billion. Meanwhile the country’s health sector will receive P287.5 billion. AAC

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