LOOK: House of Representatives ready for Duterte’s 4th SONA

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019   •   1917

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is all set for the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte slated to be held on Monday (July 22) afternoon.

The red carpet has been set at the North Wing Lobby for congressmen, senators and other guests to walk on as they enter the plenary hall for the gathering.

Tight security is being implemented at the Batasang Pambansa complex ahead of the SONA. Security personnel and K9 units have been deployed at the exit and entry points, including the area where legislators and guests would enter for the opening of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress this morning.

The House is expected to convene at 10 a.m. for the opening of its session, when members would elect the next Speaker.

An additional X-ray scanner has also been placed at the entrance of the North Wing Lobby to ensure that no prohibited items will make it inside the complex.

House Acting Secretary-General Dante Roberto Maling, who serves as chairperson of the Steering Committee of Task Force SONA 2019, said they spent months preparing and implementing all the necessary details to ensure a safe, orderly and peaceful SONA this year.

“The House is fully ready for SONA 2019. We have ensured that all details for the Opening of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress in the morning and the President’s SONA in the afternoon have been considered and well taken care of for the safe, peaceful and orderly holding of these big events,” he said in a statement.

“These include the necessary internal and external security measures and requirements, protocol arrangements, parking restrictions, media coverage, other physical arrangements, prescribed and required attire, and final reminders to guests particularly with regard to their invitations, seat cards and car passes, among others,” he added.

Starting 4 a.m. (Monday), the House implemented the “No Car Pass, No Entry” policy for the entry and exit points. The Main and South Gate will be used for the exclusive entrance of vehicles of House Members, Senators, Congressional Spouses and their back-up, VIP guests, and House and Senate Secretariat officials.

The North Gate will serve as the entrance gate of vehicles of invited guests, OB vans and generator sets, emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances and military vehicles, House shuttle buses and vehicles with “Drop-Off” passes.

Only those with SONA 2019 ID will be allowed entry to the building.

For the Joint Session of Congress in the afternoon, the House advisory highlights that there will be a one-kilometer “No Fly Zone” over the area of the House Complex from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The South Wing Lobby will be closed at 1 p.m. to visitors and Congressional staff. By 3 p.m., lawmakers and guests will proceed to the Plenary Hall in preparation for Duterte’s SONA which is expected to take place around 4 p.m.

Duterte doesn’t want to rest despite doctor’s advice – Bong Go

Robie de Guzman   •   November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t want to heed his doctor’s advice to take a rest, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Wednesday.

Go, a former top aide of Duterte, said the president prefers to continue working and performing his official duties while he is staying in his hometown in Davao City.

“Sa totoo lang, ayaw magpahinga ng Pangulo, kahit sabihin mong he was advised by the doctor to rest,” he told reporters in Malacañang.

“Hindi po siya makatagal sa bahay at talagang gusto niyang magtrabaho at gumala,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday said the chief executive would go on a three-day break but later said he would just work from home in Davao City.

The Palace previously said the president’s doctor had advised him to limit his physical activity after he complained of “unbearable” pain in his spine following a minor motorcycle accident within the Malacañang complex on Oct. 16.

Duterte was in Japan to attend Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony when he complained of spinal ache and had to cut his trip short. After consultation with his doctor, Panelo said the president experienced a muscle spasm.

Go assured that Duterte is in good shape, adding that the chief executive is set to visit North Cotabato on Friday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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