Palace sees ‘exciting times’ ahead with rumored incoming US envoy Mina Chang

Marje Pelayo   •   July 10, 2019   •   924

Deputy Assistant Secretary Mina Chang

MANILA, Philippines – The United States is reportedly sending Deputy Assistant Secretary Mina Chang as the replacement to outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, according to insider information from the US Executive Department.

The report set the country’s diplomatic scene abuzz and though he couldn’t confirm it, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was obviously thrilled saying days ahead would be “exciting” if Chang’s appointment would push through.

Why?

First, the 32-year-old Korean-American diplomat is a stunner and is among the top-caliber official of the United States government.

She is currently assigned to the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.

Second, she is an advocate of global education. Before assuming a government position, Chang was the Chief Executive Officer of the non-government organization Linking the World.

Likewise, she is an advocate “for proactive stabilization as a strategic tool of foreign engagement and an investment in a stronger America abroad.”

According to her U.S. State Department profile, Chang has “extensive on the ground experience in conflict areas such as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.”

Third, Chang has impressive academic credentials: “An alumna of the Harvard Business School, a graduate of the United States Army War College National Security Seminar, a Harvard John F. Kennedy Senior Executive in National and International Security and a former International Security Fellow at New America.”

Aside from good looks, Chang also had a flourishing career as an international pop singer and recorded both English and Korean songs, a platform she used to push her humanitarian goals.

With the Filipinos’ weakness for beauty pageants and President Rodrigo Duterte’s fondness for beautiful women, U.S. President Donald Trump is perhaps using this ‘beauty queen diplomacy’ to convince the President to make a turn around as he pivots to China.

Once confirmed, Chang will be the second female US ambassador to the Philippines after Kristie Kenney, who served as ambassador to Manila from 2006 to 2009.  

Duterte spokesman denies hand in looming release of ex-Calauan Mayor Sanchez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Wednesday denied any involvement in the looming release of his former client, former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua in 1995 for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993.

Panelo, who is now President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said there is no need for him or anyone else to intervene in the case citing the Republic Act 10592 or the law that increased the Good Conduct Time (GCTA) allowance for inmates.

“Hindi na kailangan ng kahit na sinumang tao na mag-intervene, kasi mayroong batas na,” he said.

Panelo added that he has withdrawn as Sanchez’s legal counsel after the conviction. He also admitted to being happy with the release of his former client.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier announced that Sanchez is among the thousands of inmates who are eligible for recomputation of sentence on the basis of GCTA as provided by the law.

READ: DOJ: Ex-Calauan Mayor Sanchez, thousands others set for release

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has no reason to believe that Panelo or any other party’s intervention is necessary because prison time records on good conduct had been in existence prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court last June on GCTA’s retroactivity. (Correspondent Rosalie Coz contributed to this report)

Police presence not a solution to communist recruitment in schools— Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang expressed concern over reports of alleged student recruitment in universities and campuses across the country to join the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

However, the Palace is not keen on deploying policemen inside university and college campuses since student recruitment by rebels is done discreetly.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that though Malacañang sees nothing wrong with joining progressive groups as an avenue to express one’s sentiments to the government, the case is different when a student joins an organization promoting ideologies that seek to destabilize the government.

Panelo added that it is still important for parents to remind their children to be wise in joining student organizations in schools.

“Kung papasok ka sa mga organisasyon…na ang intensyon ay pabagsakin ang gobyerno, wrong iyon (if [a student] joins an organization that intends to destabilize the government, that would be wrong),” Panelo said.

“Pero (But if) you join organizations to express legitimate grievances against (the government) gobyerno, certainly it’s not,” Panelo concluded.

Panelo noted, meanwhile, that a thorough study is highly necessary before the Palace considers the proposal to revive the anti-subversion law to end insurgency in the country. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Malacañang to Filipinos: Avoid travelling to Hong Kong for now

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019

A demonstrator was injured during the protest against Hong Kong-China extradition Law on July 27, 2019. (Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has advised Filipinos to refrain from travelling to Hong Kong for now as the ongoing demonstrations have crippled operations in the international airport there.

“Ang travel ban siguro with respect kung gusto mo pumunta sa (The travel ban perhaps is with respect to your choice to travel to Hong Kong.) This is not the right time to go there kasi ang flight mo biglang naka-cancel, (as your flight might suddenly get cancelled,)” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a press briefing Tuesday (August 13).

Thousands of protesters swarmed Hong Kong International Airport’s main terminal on Monday (August 12) which led to cancellations of hundreds of outbound and inbound flights to and from the autonomous territory.

“Avoid muna going there, that’s the advice (because) you’re not sure you’re going to reach Hong Kong in the first place,” Panelo added.

When asked about a proposed ban on deployment of workers to Hong Kong, the Palace spokesperson said there is no need to declare such prohibition citing Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III since the protest movements as limited only to specific areas in Hong Kong.

“Nagkakagulo sa airport. Limited naman ang gulo sa airport, (The chaos is in the airport and it’s limited only within the airport,)” he said.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said in a statement that terminal operations at the airport “have been seriously disrupted, and all check-in processes have now been suspended.”

“Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport. All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible,” the statement said.

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