Peace talks reopening? Duterte tells Bello to talk to Joma Sison

Robie de Guzman   •   December 6, 2019   •   450

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday revealed he will be sending former government chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to talk to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

Duterte did not elaborate on the topics that may be discussed between Bello and Sison but he said that he has not yet given up hope on reopening peace negotiations with the communist group.

“This is the first time that I will reveal it, I’m sending Secretary Bello… He should go there, talk to them…basta I’m sending him back to Sison and talk to him about…malaman ninyo ‘yan pagdating ng panahon,” he said on Thursday night during a situational briefing with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on the effects of typhoon Tisoy.

The president said this after lamenting about the country’s decades-long problem on the insurgency.

“Three times we attempted to talk sense dito and it has always failed…I cannot stop. Hindi ko sabihin na ayaw ko makipag-usap, that is not a statement of a leader, of a President,” he said.

“If he agrees, ito ang sabi ko, last card. When I say last card, my time is running out,” he added.

Sison is living in the Netherlands on a self-exile.

Last year, ties between Duterte and Sison went sour after the chief executive accused the rebel group of launching attacks against government forces even while the negotiations are ongoing.

In March 2019, Duterte formally terminated the peace talks with the CPP-National Democratic Front of the Philippines-New People’s Army. – RRD (from the report of Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte cancels planned trip to Davao this week to lead COVID-19 response – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte won’t push through with his plan to fly to his hometown in Davao City this week as he continues to lead the government’s response against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte will stay in Manila this week instead of going to Davao City for the birthday of his youngest daughter, Veronica so he could continue monitoring and give directives in line with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Dito lang po siya sa Maynila upang madalian na mabigyan ng madaliang katugunan ang anumang uri ng suliraning ipapaabot sa kaniya. Siya po ay araw-araw nagmomonitor ng mga kaganapan natin,” Panelo said in a virtual presser.

He also assured the public that the president remains fit and healthy even if he is not sleeping well amid the public health emergency.

Meanwhile, Panelo denied claims that Duterte downplayed the threat of coronavirus, stressing that the president’s actions depended on the development of the situation and pronouncements of the World Health Organization.

“Depende po kasi sa sitwasyon, kaya si President noon, sumusunod lamang siya sa takbo ng patakaran ng World Jealth Organization at nakikita niya sa kaniyang kapaligiran,” he said.

The Palace official urged critics to provide suggestions instead of criticizing the government’s measures in combating the COVID-19 crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gov’t extends Luzon lockdown to April 30 — IATF

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines – Luzon residents may have to endure two more weeks at home as President Rodrigo Duterte extends the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) confirmed this on Tuesday (April 7).

“Ito po ang rekomendasyon ng IATF kay Presidente na tinggap ng President,” IATF-EID Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

“Vinerify po naming uli at ang sagot po ay ang enhanced community quarantine is hereby extended until 11:50 pm of April 30,” he added.

In his public address on Monday evening (April 6), the President asked the public for more patience and understanding and to be more cooperative with the national government in the face of a health crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The President, likewise, reiterated his call for the public to stay at home as the solution to this global pandemic is simply to “not get infected.”

He noted the sad reality of COVID-19 patients passing without having a funeral service as their remains go straight to cremation.

Duterte admitted that even the national government is getting ‘desperate’ as it has limited resources to distribute to millions of Filipinos affected by the crisis.

The President added that the P275-B budget that Congress authorized him to spend is not enough and would be gone in two months.

Thus, he asked the Department of Finance to find ways to generate revenues.

“We are finding ways to adjust the budget. We will prioritize the people, the stomach. If they have nothing to eat, a human being can become violent,” he added.

He appealed to those who have more to give to those in need and asked the Filipino people to pray for the country and the world in the face of this global pandemic.

“I am calling on the nation to come together and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy,” he concluded. MNP (with input from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte, Cabinet members pledge salaries for COVID-19 response

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is giving his one month salary amounting to P400,000 to help in the implementation of the national government’s action plan in fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Meanwhile, other members of the President’s Cabinet also have agreed to give 75% of their monthly salaries from April to December of this year as support, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo added that other department secretaries also agreed to share by giving a portion of their respective salaries.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives are targeting to raise P100-M to boost financial aid to those affected by the pandemic.

About 200 congressmen have pledged to donate their full salary for the month of May to help the government’s efforts against COVID-19.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they are raising an initial P50-M from the lawmakers while they plan to source out the other 50-M from other private individuals and groups to complete the P100-M pledge.

Cayetano said they are set to discuss on Wednesday as to which particular government effort they would donate the fund.

Ayaw naman namin na halimbawa bumili ng PPEs iyon pala may P5-B or P2-B worth of PPEs o kaya bumili ng pagkain iyon pala may provisions na sa pagkain,” Cayetano said.

“We want to use the money where it will be most effective,” he added.

Malacanang, meanwhile, is pleased with the support from other branches of government.

“The Office of the President is pleased to know that the two other branches of the government have their own program of helping the battle against COVID-19 even as we acknowledge the support given by various heads of offices and agencies in their personal capacities to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic,” Panelo said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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