New PH law requires free internet, clean restrooms in terminals

Robie de Guzman   •   June 19, 2019   •   1506

MANILA, Philippines – Transport terminals in the country are now required to have clean sanitary facilities and free internet services for passengers after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act 11311.

Duterte signed the law on April 17, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Wednesday.

The law mandates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other concerned stakeholders, to ensure that free internet services are provided in land transportation stations and roll-on/roll-off (RORO) terminals.

Terminal owners, operators or administrators are also ordered to have separate restrooms for persons with disabilities, male and female passengers, as well as lactation station for breastfeeding mothers.

The law also states that collecting fees from passengers for the use of regular sanitary facilities is unlawful. A passenger must also show the paid bus ticket for the day in order to avail of the free use of sanitary facilities.

The measure, however, does not cover well-appointed or deluxe sanitary facilities that are operated solely for commercial purposes and for the convenience of passengers who require and prefer such terminal facilities.

Terminal operators and administrators who fail to comply with the law shall be fined with P5,000 for each day of violation; another P5,000 each day for collecting fees from passengers for the use of sanitary facilities.

Another P5,000 fine each day will also be imposed if operators fail to provide and maintain a lactation station in transport terminals.

The fines will be subject for review every five years by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Any necessary adjustments on the amount will be subject to the approval of the DOTr Secretary.

The measure mandates the DOTr, in coordination with the DICT, LTFRB, Department of Health, the Philippine Ports Authority and other stakeholders, to release the implementing rules and regulations within 60 days that the law has become effective.

Duterte, Panelo one-on-one interview deferred anew

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2020

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo and President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The scheduled televised one-on-one interview of President Rodrigo Duterte with his spokesperson Salvador Panelo has been postponed anew.

In a televised advisory, Panelo said the interview with Duterte, which was supposed to be held Tuesday, will be moved to a later date because the president is feeling “under the weather.”

Panelo said it may be rescheduled next week.

The said interview was initially set on January 22 but was postponed due to “pressing matters.”

The president conducted his first televised interview with Panelo in September 2018 where they discussed wide-ranging topics on martial law in Mindanao, reopening of Boracay Island, increasing rice prices, his critic former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, among others. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Panelo: One-on-one interview with Duterte to push through on Tuesday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

After its postponement on January 22, the one-on-one interview with President Rodrigo Duterte will push through on Tuesday (January 28), said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday.

The January 22 schedule for the one-on-one interview was postponed due to “pressing family matters”.

“Due to pressing matters, the tête-à-tête Part 2 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo has been moved to January 28, 2020 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace at 5:00 p.m.,” a previous media advisory read.

This will be the President’s second têtê-a-têtê. The first televised interview was held last September 2018.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

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