Palace defends Duterte order to reduce number of holidays for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2021   •   836

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel some traditional holidays for this year in a bid to spur the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1107, Duterte moved to declare traditional holidays of Nov. 2, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31 as special working days “to encourage economic productivity by minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the order was based on the recommendation of the administration’s economic managers to support economic recovery.

“Napakatagal na po natin nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19,” Roque said in a virtual briefing.

“Siguro naman po ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time,” he added.

The imposition of lengthy lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 has led the Philippine economy to a slump. The pandemic has also affected millions of workers and businesses.

Opposition lawmakers, however, called on Malacañang to reconsider its decision, saying the reclassification of traditional holidays into special working days will affect workers’ pay as they will no longer get additional holiday pay equal to 30 percent of their basic daily wage.

In response to their calls, Roque said that “nothing is etched in stone” and that there is still a possibility that this will change with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

“Pero tingnan po natin kung anong mangyayari, nothing is etched in stone naman po. Tingnan natin baka naman dahil may bakuna na eh makabalik na tayo sa dati at baka hindi na natin kinakailangan maghabol pa ‘no,” he said.

The Philippines on Monday started its COVID-19 immunization program following receipt of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, courtesy of the Chinese government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte tells Filipinos to be a hero like Andres Bonifacio amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on Filipinos to “become a hero” like Andres Bonifacio and emulate his strong sense of civic duty and love of country amid challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the country marks the 158th birth anniversary of Bonifacio, Duterte said the bravery and patriotism of Bonifacio and other Filipino heroes who fought the colonizers “must serve as guiding post in beating the odds that hinder the country’s progress as a people and as a nation.”

“As we commemorate these events, I invite every Filipino to become a hero like Bonifacio by participating actively in our nation-building efforts, especially in those challenging times when we have to secure our nation’s health, safety, and wellness,” President Duterte said in his speech during the commemoration at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City.

“In this light, I call on our kababayans to emulate Gat Andres Bonifacio’s strong sense of civic duty, courage, and love of country in our daily lives, even in the simplest ways. May we be challenged to give our very best for the benefit of our people and nation,” he added.

Duterte also lauded Bonifacio’s bravery, adding that remembering the late hero’s sacrifice for the country’s independence “could provide a sense of hope, determination, and optimism for today’s generation of Filipinos” amid difficult challenges.

“May this event be a constant reminder of the invaluable contribution and selfless sacrifice of our heroes, especially Gat Andres, in paving the way for the liberty and independence that we enjoy today,” he said.

“Indeed, remembering historical events such as these are vital to enriching our understanding and appreciation for our nation’s culture,” he added.

This year’s commemoration of Bonifacio day also marked the opening of the newly restored El Deposito Underground Reservoir and the new diorama exhibit at the Museo ng Katipunan, which showcases the historical Battle of San Juan del Monte.

Duterte thanked the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for undertaking the restoration and rehabilitation of the historical and cultural landmarks, saying these provide the new generation of Filipinos a glimpse of the country’s long and colorful history and heritage.

“I believe that by revisiting and honoring our past, we will be able to impart a stronger sense of nationhood to the present and future generations of Filipinos,” he said.

Also present during the event were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Alexei Nograles, and San Juan City Mayor Francisco Javier Zamora.

Palace: Duterte to join 13th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit on Nov. 25-26

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to join the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM) scheduled this week, Malacañang said Wednesday.

The summit will be held on November 25 to 26 via video conference, which would be hosted by Cambodia.

The Palace said Duterte is expected to exchange views on multilateralism, growth and sustainable development during the meeting.

He is also scheduled to speak on rebuilding a resilient future, as well as on international and regional issues at the Second Plenary and Retreat Sessions of the Summit on November 26, it added.

This year’s summit has its theme, “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth”.

ASEM, an informal dialogue process involving 53 partners from Europe, Asia, the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, aims to strengthen cooperation between the two regions in the spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.

The Philippines joined ASEM in 1996 as one of its founding members.

 

Philippines yet to receive formal request from ICC for proof of probe into drug war deaths – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has yet to receive a formal request from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provide concrete information that it is conducting investigations into allegations involving the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles issued the statement following reports that ICC Prosecutor Khan will ask the Philippine government to provide substantiating information regarding its probe into allegations of crime committed under its war against drugs.

“We would like to clarify that we have yet to receive a formal request with regard to this matter. That being said, we reiterate our position that the ICC has no jurisdiction to probe our campaign against illegal drugs,” Nograles said.

“Clearly, the ICC prosecutor’s request for information is an acknowledgment that alleged victims can seek redress in Philippine legal institutions because these are independent, impartial, and competent,” he added.

Moreover, Nograles said that the ICC prosecutor’s statement “validates our earlier position that the ICC is the court of last resort, one that can be utilized when a State Party is unwilling to investigate and prosecute those who violate its laws.”

“This is simply not the case in the Philippines. Our criminal justice system continues to be capable and functional, and a case in point is the signing of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation of an agreement to conduct cooperative investigations,” he said.

Nograles stressed that this serves as “evidence that a culture of impunity does not exist in our country as local institutions have demonstrated their commitment to accountability.”

Khan, in a statement posted on Tuesday, said the Duterte administration must submit concrete proof that its is investigating allegations involving its war on drugs after the ICC deferred its probe upon the request of the Philippine government.

The ICC deferred the probe after the government said that investigations on reported deaths during anti-drug operations are underway.

“Such information must consist of tangible evidence, of probative value and a sufficient degree of specificity, demonstrating that concrete and progressive investigative steps have been or are currently being undertaken,” the statement read.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya wrote Khan that the country’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has already referred to the National Bureau of Investigation the 52 cases it reviewed, where administrative liability was found on the part of concerned law enforcers.

Members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and the Free Legal Assistance Group have called on the ICC to resume its probe, saying the DOJ is only looking at several cases out of tens of thousands of killings allegedly linked to the drug war.

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