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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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Opposition supporters question Comelec over alleged anomalies

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

Members of Tindig Pilipinas and the Silent Majority protesting the technical glitches that were encountered during the May 13, 2019 polls Courtesy : FB page of Now You Know

MANILA, Philippines – Supporters of the opposition group on Friday questioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on alleged anomalies in the May 13 midterm elections.

Members of Tindig Pilipinas and the Silent Majority gathered in front of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City where the Comelec is canvassing votes for the senatorial and party-list elections.

The groups were protesting the technical glitches that were encountered during the polls, such as defective secure digital (SD) cards and vote-counting machines (VCM), as well as the seven-hour delay in transmitting data from Comelec’s transparency server.

Members of said cause-oriented groups, who were chanting “what happened to the midterm elections, Comelec?” repeatedly during their picket, were also demanding the poll body to explain the alleged irregularities that cast doubts on the credibility of the midterm polls.

They also sought to question the poll body for its alleged mishandling and inaction of supposed anomalies observed, including the designation of Nacionalista Party as the minority party, the disenfranchisement of voters, and the “blatant commission” of pre-campaign and campaign violations of some candidates such as electioneering and vote-buying.

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Malacañang: Recall of PH officials over trash spat, a warning to Canada

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

Canadian trash illegally exported to the Philippines (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right)

MANILA, Philippines – The order of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada is a warning that the diplomatic relations between the two countries may be severed over a garbage spat, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

This was after the Canadian government missed the May 15 deadline to take back tons of trash it sent to Manila several years ago.

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order was to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

READ: PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

“The fact alone that Secretary Locsin has recalled our diplomats there shows that not only are we serious, we are already warning them, we’re gonna severe diplomatic relations,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a press briefing.

Panelo added that the recall order for envoys aims to urge the Canadian government to expedite the garbage shipment process.

“That order of the recall is to persuade them to make it fast. The more the delay, the more personnel will be coming back,” he said.

Panelo on Wednesday said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents. He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it fails to retrieve its illegally exported trash.

He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014. The trash from around 26 containers have been dumped in a private landfill in Tarlac.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

There are more than 837,000 Filipinos residing and working in Canada, based on a 2016 census. Most of them are located in Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Some Filipinos there have appealed to the Philippine government to reconsider its move against Canada so as not to jeopardize the relations between the two nations.

Malacañang, however, assured that the government will continue to protect the interest of Filipinos abroad no matter what the outcome of its actions will be.

“Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interest of our countrymen in any part of the world,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Guanzon questions NPO on ‘subcontracted’ printing of voter info sheet

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon

MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday questioned the National Printing Office (NPO) on its alleged subcontracting of the printing of the voter’s information sheet for the 2019 midterm polls.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said they are seeking clarification from the NPO following the discovery of some errors in the printed information sheet just days before the elections.

“Dahil government to government eh walang bidding, tapos nalaman ko at sagutin nila ako kung totoo. Tanungin niyo sila, pina-subcontract ba nila sa Holy Family Printing Press ang voter information sheet namin?” Guanzon said at a chance interview at the National Board of Canvassers for the Senate and party-list race on Wednesday.

She noted that NPO’s alleged subcontracting is against the rules of the Commission on Audit (COA). Under the law, the NPO is mandated to provide printing services to government agencies and instrumentalities.

“Kaya nga sila ang pinili namin para wala na kaming bidding,” she said.

The poll official said the errors contained in the printed voter information sheets could have confused voters and resulted in a failure of elections.

“Mabuti na lang naagapan and the Comelec en banc ordered na huwag i-distribute ‘yung voter information sheets,” she said.

Guanzon added that the NPO should clarify the issue because they may be held liable for it.

“NPO should be asked because they are accountable for this. Siningil nila kami ng P4.00 per voter information sheet na napakaliit ng print,” she said.

“Kung totoo iyan, and some directors answer my question, Holy Family Printing ang nag-deliver sa kanila at mali-mali,” she added.

The NPO has yet to issue any comment on the matter as of posting time. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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