Paolo Duterte, other solons form coalition amid House speakership race

Robie de Guzman   •   July 5, 2019   •   2229

Davao City First District Representative Paolo “Pulong” Duterte | Courtesy : PVI-Press by Cerilo Ebrano

MANILA, Philippines – Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte and other House lawmakers on Friday said they formed a coalition in relation with their bid to unite the members of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress.

In a statement, solons dubbed the nine-member group as the Duterte Coalition.

Aside from Paolo, its members, who come from the ranks of Hugpong ng Pagbabago and Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, include Representatives Isidro Ungab and Vincent Garcia (Davao City), Corazon Malanyaon (Davao Oriental), Manuel Zamora (Compostella Valley), Lorna Bautista (Davao Occidental), Claudine Baustista (Dumper party-list) and Sandro Gonzales and Anton Lopez (Marino party-list).

“We have created the Duterte Coalition and we wish to invite everyone to join this group of lawmakers who believe in positive change,” the group said.

It added that the Duterte Coalition is a strategic partnership of dynamic public servants who are committed to instituting governance and development reforms that are necessary for the Philippines to secure its rightful place in the world stage of nations, particularly in the Southeast Asian region.

“A special call to be a partner is extended to Congressmen Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Lord Allan Jay Velasco,” the group said.

Romualdez of Leyte, Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros and Velasco of Marinduque are among those gunning for the speakership post. Other lawmakers vying for the position are Ungab, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate and Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales

In the same statement, the coalition also warned Cabinet members against interfering in the tightening race for the highest position in the House.

The Duterte coalition said Cabinet officials should respect President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to endorse any candidate.

“It has come to our attention that certain Presidential Cabinet members have their bet for Speaker. Everyone should note that, Cabinet members serve only on the basis of the trust and confidence of the President and should not participate in the selection of the Speaker,” it said.

“President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he will not interfere in the race for the next Speaker of the House — noting that all candidates are his allies,” it added.

The Coalition stressed that Cabinet members should also respect the mandate of the House lawmakers to choose their leader.

“Congressmen and Congresswomen are elected and serve a mandate with an authority direct from the people. These lawmakers are the only rightful electorate for their leader,” it said.

The group also emphasized the need to define the independence of the Legislative from the Executive branch of the government.

“Let us draw the line to define the independence of the Executive and the Legislative branches of the government,” it said.

“We shall not serve one interest; we will work for all Filipinos. And we begin today,” it concluded.

Defense chief on martial law rumors amid rising COVID-19 cases: Fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.

Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.

This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.

The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.

But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.

He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.

“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.

Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.

Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Duterte orders barangay officials to restrict movement of unvaccinated persons

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed barangay officials to limit the mobility of persons who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 amid rising cases in the country.

During his pre-taped public briefing aired late Thursday, Duterte told barangay officials to advise unvaccinated residents to just stay at home to avoid contracting the disease, especially its highly transmissible variants.

“I’m now giving orders to the barangay captains to look for those persons who are not vaccinated and just would request them or order them, if you may, to stay put,” he said.

“If he refuses, he goes out of the house and goes around in the community or maybe wherever magpunta, he can be restrained,” he added.

Being persons in authority, Duterte said barangay captains have the power to arrest “recalcitrant” persons if they are unvaccinated and refuse to be restrained or escorted to their homes, he argued.

At the same time, village chiefs can also mobilize civilians to help them with the subjugation of people who haven’t received COVID-19 shot from leaving their homes and loitering outdoors.

“Give them the task officially probably written and that converts their status from being a civilian but also a person in authority called upon to assist the persons in authority,” he said.

“They now become agents of a person in authority. That is my position,” he added.

The president, however, clarified that he was issuing the order as part of his responsibility to ensure public safety and well-being.

He also pointed out that unvaccinated people will not be immediately imprisoned, and persons in authority will have to talk to them about the dangers of leaving their homes.

“I hate to say this word pero — these words: being the President, ultimately I am responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino and that is why my orders are to restrain them,” he said.

“Hindi naman kaagad arestuhin. Paki-usap lang, eh sir hindi ka nagpabakuna then you put everybody in jeopardy. You go out, you get contaminated, dalhin mo. Ngayon, por pamilya, por bahay ang contamination,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte ordered the police to arrest and detain for investigation individuals involved in the illegal trade of COVID-19 drugs in the black market.

“I would insist for the police to arrest them and detain them for investigation. If it’s a serious offense, that will go about 34 hours of detention and in that time, you can investigate,” he said.

The president said that nobody will be spared, stressing that his order also covers agents and sellers or sales representatives, and even owners of medical infrastructures.

“Sabihin nila even it’s a matter of violation, ‘wala kami, ‘yung aming mga staff lang.’ Do not give me that s***. Hulihin ninyo at ikulong ninyo,” he said.

The unregulated sale of COVID-19 drugs is a serious offense because it victimizes those who need the medicine but cannot afford to buy due to very steep prices.

Duterte also asked the Department of Justice to assign fiscals who could conduct summary investigation and inquest of those involved in the prohibited trade. He also wants the police to investigate their areas of responsibility and to “solve the problem.”

Duterte signs law penalizing practice of child marriage

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law prohibiting the practice of child marriage and imposing penalties for violations thereof.

Duterte signed the Republic Act (RA) 11596 on December 10 and a copy of the document was released by the Malacañang on Thursday, January 6.

“The State affirms that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of capacitated parties, and child betrothal and marriage shall have no legal effect,” the law stated.

“Pursuant to these policies, the State thus views child marriage as a practice constituting child abuse because it debases, degraded and demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of children,” it added.

The law defines child marriage as any union entered into where one or both parties are below 18 years old or of legal age but unable to fully take care and protect oneself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination due to physical or mental disability or condition.

The law states that any person who causes, fixes, facilitates, or arranges a child marriage “shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000.”

Should the violator be an ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, step-parent, or guardian of the child, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period, a fine of not less than P50,000, and perpetual loss of parental authority.

If the perpetrator is a public officer, he or she shall be dismissed from the service and may be perpetually disqualified from holding office, at the discretion of the courts, the law said.

An adult partner who cohabits with a child outside wedlock shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000.

Prision mayor carries a prison term of 6 years and 1 day to 12 years.

The law also states that any person who produces or tamper documents for the purpose of misrepresenting the age of a child to facilitate marriage or evade liability shall be liable under the law.

The law mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development to lead its implementation and create programs that will address the prevalence of child marriage, and provide appropriate services, including legal, health, temporary shelter.

It also directs government agencies to create an enabling social environment where the practice of child marriage shall not thrive.

“In the pursuit of this policy, the State shall abolish all traditional and cultural practices and structures that perpetuate discrimination, abuse, and exploitation of children such as the practice of child marriage,” the law stated.

“Further the State recognizes the role of women in nation-building and shall therefore protect and promote their empowerment. This entails the abolition of the unequal structures and practices that perpetuate discrimination and inequality,” it added.


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