Malacañang lambasts Drilon for calling Duterte’s infra program a ‘dismal failure’

Marje Pelayo   •   November 13, 2019   •   1192

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang dismissed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s claim that the administration’s Build Build Build program is a dismal failure.

Drilon claimed that the administration has only started nine out of 75 flagship projects in the past three years in office.

“It is sad to say that the BBB program of the administration is a dismal failure. Out of the 75 flagship projects that were proposed at the start of the administration, exactly nine started construction,” Drilon told reporters.

“That is only two percent of the total,” he added.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quick to dismiss Drilon’s claim as baseless stressing that the Duterte administration had accomplished more than the previous administration.

 “Senator Frank, look at the administration you previously belonged. Six years, not a single infrastructure na nagawa (was completed). Malayong-malayo sa dami [nang nagawa ng administrasyon ngayon] (It doesn’t compare with the achievements of this administration),” Panelo said.

“It’s baseless […] maraming ginagawa ang administrasyon (this administration is working on a lot of projects),” he added.

Malacañang believes that the current management of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is effectively handling these projects.

Thus, Panelo said the Palace is confident that before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term, majority of the projects under the Build, Build, Build program will be completed. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

OFW deployment ban to Kuwait to stay until 2018 labor pact fully implemented – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait will remain in effect until the labor agreement signed in 2018 between the two countries is fully implemented, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the labor department’s call for a total ban on deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to Kuwait following the killing of household service worker Jeanelyn Villavende.

“The Palace wishes to inform the public that President Duterte has approved the recommendation of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III on the total deployment ban of Filipino workers in Kuwait,” Panelo said.

He added that the ban will stay until the memorandum of agreement between the two countries is fully honored and “the terms contained therein are incorporated in every labor contract with our OFWs.”

Bello earlier said he recommended a total deployment ban to Kuwait after results of a re-autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation revealed that Villavende had several missing internal organs and had “clear indications of sexual abuse.”

The re-autopsy was conducted after a certificate released by Kuwait’s Ministry of Health showed that Villavende died of “acute failure of heart and respiration” as a result of shock and multiple injuries.

In a statement on Thursday, Bello said the implementation of a total deployment ban of workers was fueled by the alleged attempt of the Kuwaiti government “to cover-up the true case of death” of Villavende.

He said the re-autopsy on the Filipino worker’s remains was in complete contrast to the report of the Kuwaiti authorities.

Bello also said that another cause for the ban was the failure of the Kuwaiti government to come into an agreement regarding the standard employment contract in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement in 2018.

“Under the MOU, we were supposed to come up with a standard employment contract in order to provide sufficient protection for our OFWs. That’s almost two years ago of discussing and debating but until now, we have not finalized anything,” Bello said.

The total ban covers the processing and deployment of all household service workers, semi-skilled, skilled workers and professionals including Filipino crew seafarers for Kuwait.

However, skilled workers and professionals who have unexpired contracts or categorized as Balik-Manggagawa, and those who will be cleared by the Secretary of Labor are exempted from the ban.

“Those who will come home for a vacation and has an existing contract are still allowed to travel to Kuwait, however, workers with new contracts will be covered by the ban. This move is nothing less than for the protection of our workers,” Bello said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace suspends gov’t work, classes in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon due to Taal ashfall

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2020

Villagers take shelter inside a church during an eruption of Taal Volcano, in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, 12 January 2020. Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate as authorities in the Philippines raised the alert due to increased activity of Taal volcano, located on an island near Manila. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level from 1 to 3 – on a scale of 5 – after an increase in activity in the crater resulted in an eruption spewing steam and ash up to one-kilometer-high. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has suspended classes in all levels and work in government offices on Monday, January 13, in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon due to the Taal volcano ashfall.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by authority of President Rodrigo Duterte announced the class and gov’t work suspension around midnight in areas affected by the ashfall “except frontline response agencies involved in disaster response,mdelivery of basic and health service, and/or other vital services.”

“The private sector is highly encouraged to suspend work for the safety of their employees,” Medialdea added.

Earlier, local government units have declared class suspensions in all levels in view of the Taal volcano ash explosion.

These areas include:
• Batangas province, including municipalities around Taal lake (Talisay, Balete, Mataas na Kahoy, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Sta. Teresita, San Nicolas, Agoncillo, Laurel)
• Cavite Province
• Laguna
• Metro Manila
• Bataan
• Bulacan province
• Pampanga
• Capas, Tarlac
• Concepcion, Tarlac

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised the alert level 4 over Taal Volcano on Sunday night, which means a hazardous explosion is imminent within hours or days.

Phivolcs also recommended that residents in Taal island and high-risk barangays in the towns of Agoncillo and Laurel in Bagangas be evacuated due to possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.

Palace defends PNP’s security measures for Traslacion 2020

Robie de Guzman   •   January 9, 2020

Filipino policemen try to control a crowd of devotees during the Black Nazarene to mark its feast day in Manila, Philippines, 09 January 2020.  EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday defended the strict security measures imposed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for this year’s Traslacion in Manila.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the stringent measures were enforced to ensure the safety and security of Catholic devotees participating in the annual event.

“The PNP has to undertake measures that will provide for the safety of those devotees, it may be strict but the goal is protect them from any harm,” he said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo made the statement in reaction to criticisms and frustrations expressed by some devotees and netizens over the increased police deployment during the procession.   

During the procession, policemen formed a so-called “Andas wall,” which consists of hundreds of cops guarding the andas (carriage) from devotees.

Police’s move to set up barbed wires of the beams of the Ayala bridge, and the placement of container vans along some parts of the Traslacion route also drew mixed reactions.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) earlier explained the installation of barbed wires on the bridge’s beams is to prevent devotees from scaling its frames.

This year’s Traslacion took a shorter and slightly different route through the Ayala bridge instead of Jones bridge which has been used for years.

More than 13,000 policemen were deployed to secure the event. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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