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Malacañang: Duterte likely to visit China, Japan anew this year

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte. | ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will possibly visit China and Japan anew this year.

Malacañang said on Monday the President may travel to China late next month to attend the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

While on May, Duterte will most likely visit Japan to primarily attend a regional conference.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Japanese media reported that Duterte will be attending the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia.

The event is reported to be held on May 30 and 31 in Tokyo.

Panelo told reporters at a press briefing that he has yet to confirm the said visit, but if it pushes through, this will be Duterte’s third time to visit Japan since becoming president in 2016.

Duterte, meanwhile, has yet to make a visit to the United States of America since his rise to power. Panelo said this is because the President cannot stand the cold temperature in the U.S.

“I think the relationship between the U.S. and China remain cordial and healthy. So, with America, the only reason perhaps the President has not considered visiting is because of the temperature. He couldn’t stand very cold temperature, he gets sick,” he said. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte fires FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno | Courtesy: PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno for alleged corruption, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced this during a press briefing on Thursday by reading a letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea addressed to Puno.

“Dear Ms. Puno, please be advised that upon the instruction of the President, your appointment as director general of the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Heath is hereby terminated effective immediately,” the letter dated May 15 stated.

“This is in line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption, and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust,” the letter added.

Puno was also directed to turn over all official documents, papers and properties in her possession to the office of the Undersecretary for Health regulation of the Department of Health “to ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service.”

Puno was appointed by Duterte as head of the FDA in 2016.

READ: 3 cops killed, 3 others wounded in Camarines Sur ambush

She survived an ambush in October 2018 allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in Lupi, Camarines Sur.

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Malacañang expects Go, Bato, Tolentino to be independent as senators

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

(L-R) Former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday (May 16) said it expects incoming senators, particularly those who are close allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, to be independent when it comes to issues involving national interest.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement following concerns that the check and balances in government may be affected as administration-backed Senate bets look set to join the upper chamber of Congress.

Partial and unofficial count from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that nine Senate bets endorsed by Duterte are in the top 12.

These are reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, reelectionist senators Sonny Angara and Koko Pimentel, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and former Senator Bong Revilla.

Three of them – Go, Dela Rosa and Tolentino – are known close allies of Duterte.

Panelo, however, believes that the three will do their job well and always put first the best interest of the nation.

 “It’s just happened that they are very close to the president but that doesn’t mean they will be subservient,” he said.

“Whether or not Senate or Congress is dominated by the allies of whoever is incumbent, we expect them to pass economic reforms that will be beneficial to the Filipino people. The issue on whether you are an ally or not should not be discussed,” he added.

Panelo stressed that the mandate of the Congress is to pass laws that will be beneficial for the people.

“It’s about time to eradicate the discussion on parties’ consideration. That is where we fail,” he said.

Aside from Duterte’s allies, other senatorial candidates who are in the winners’ circle based on partial tally are reelectionist senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, and former senator Lito Lapid. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Eleven pulled alive from rubble in China building collapse

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

A team of rescuers are trying to find survivors under rubble after a building collapsed in Shanghai, China on May 16. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

Rescue services pulled out 11 people alive from a collapsed building in China’s financial hub of Shanghai on Thursday (May 16), and about same number are believed to be still trapped in the rubble.

The building in Shanghai’s Changning district was being renovated when it collapsed late in the morning, trapping some 20 people inside, fire services said in a statement.

Witnesses heard a big bang which lasted for five to six second and a cloud of dust that enveloped the building.

“The accident happened at 11 am and a big bang lasted five to six seconds. I immediately ran to the balcony and saw the entire factory was surrounded by dust. After the dust dispersed, I found the factory collapsed. As it was my first time to witness this, I was quiet shocked,” said Zhang Lei, who was working in an office next to the collapsed building

More than 150 rescuers are on the scene but they have not said how the building collapsed. (REUTERS)

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