PH-China relations ‘restored to normalcy’ – Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2018   •   3284

 

(L-R) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping | Photo via RTVM

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and China is stronger and deeper with the two-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The President admits, however, that the two countries’ diplomatic ties have been affected by the Philippines’ dependency on the United States’ economic and political policies.

President Duterte said Xi’s visit is proof that both leaders have “restored the normalcy” that the Philippines used to have or have had with China.

“We agreed on a renewed bilateral relationship, signed some trade and commerce and for the first time China was buying everything from us. This relation plus of course the commitment of China to help in the industrialization of my country,” Duterte said.

He vows to do his part in maintaining the Philippines’ good relationship with China by strengthening people to people exchange and strengthening friendship.

“One is people to people actually. I’m sure China is very lenient in issuing visas for Filipinos intending to go [to China]. Second is that China is planning to hire Filipinos to work there. China has gone by leaps and bounds and at one time your demographic experts say that we need some land here but some factories, but we do not have enough manpower or expertise. And it has sounded off a plan to employ Filipinos that would greatly enhance our friendship, people to people, our national interest now,” he said.

Some experts agree that Xi’s visit indeed will bring positive results beneficial to the Filipino people.

“The Belt and Road is not the only initiative driving Chinese economic capital in the Philippines. It can be the Duterte-China relations. It could be the interest of Chinese firms to invest in the Philippines,” explained Alvin Camba, a Pre-Doctoral Fellow from the Global Development Policy Center.

“To elevate such bilateral relations, I think we should expect the materialization of some of the MOU’s and agreements that have been signed between the two countries,” said political analyst Li Meiting.

The two countries’ diplomatic ties turned cold when China began its activities in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea.

The atmosphere improved when Rodrigo Duterte became the President of the Philippine Republic. Just months after his election, President Duterte visited Beijing and returned home with billion of dollars-worth of investments and development aid. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Victor Cosare)

Palace: Duterte to take a 3-day break

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte will be having a three-day break beginning Tuesday (November 12), according to Malacañang.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (November 11) clarified that it will not be an official leave since the president will still be doing his paperwork. The president will fly home to Davao Monday night.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will be the officer-in-charge of the Executive branch while Duterte rests, according to Panelo

“Well upon the advice of friends, of colleagues, and the world, it seems. And most likely upon the advice of doctors also to take a respite from his punishing schedule,” he said.

Panelo clarified there are no medical concerns that prompted the three-day break.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

VP Robredo keeps mum on Duterte’s offer to be drug czar

Marje Pelayo   •   October 29, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo chose not to react on the recent challenge set by President Rodrigo Duterte offering her the position of a drug czar and lead the government’s anti-drug campaign.

READ: Duterte wants to commission Robredo as drug czar for 6 months

Duterte on Monday (October 28) publicly announced that he would surrender his law enforcement power to Robredo so she could prove herself by solving the country’s problems on illegal drugs in a span of six months.

Robredo said Duterte’s remarks could have been an outburst of emotions just like many times in the past.

“Ayokong mag-comment hanggat wala pa (I don’t want to comment while [the letter] isn’t here yet),” Robredo said.

Natuto na ako. Marami ng beses in the past (na) mayroong sinasabi na hindi naman mini-mean. May imbitasyon na babawiin. So, hintayin muna natin,” she added.

(I have learned my lesson. There were many times in the past wherein he would say something but didn’t really mean it. He would send invitations which he would later take back. So, let’s wait for now.)

With these developments, opposition lawmaker Albay 1st Rep. Edcel Lagman alleged that the President is “washing his hands of his failed brutal war on drugs, and is tossing the narcotics problem for Vice President Leni Robredo to solve.”

Liberal Party senator Kiko Pangilinan, meanwhile, teased the President for giving Robredo only six months when he himself couldn’t arrest ‘big fishes’ in illegal drugs operation in the country.

“Six months? Sila nga tatlong taon nang nakaupo, wala pa ring nahuhuling drug lord or ikinukulong na opisyal ng BoC sa tone-toneladang pinalusot na shabu sa Customs,” Pangilinan argued.

(Six months? They themselves have been in power for three years and they have yet to arrest a drug lord or put in jail a Bureau of Customs official for the tons of shabu that slipped past customs.)

“Iyong mga ninja cops na sangkot sa iligal na droga binigyan pa ng pinakamataas na pwesto sa PNP. Hindi naman patas ang usapan kapag 6 months lang. Dapat maging patas. Gawing 3 years para fair,” he added.

(Those ninja cops implicated in illegal drugs trade were even promoted to higher positions in the PNP. The deal wouldn’t be fair with only six months. They should be fair. Give [Robredo] three years to be fair.)

Duterte ally House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, said if Robredo would accept the President’s challenge, she should present a concrete plan of action to do it.

“(What’s that) health-based approach (that they say) when it comes to enforcement and when it comes to methamphetamine?” Cayetano said of Robredo’s proposed strategy.

Kung may baril ang kaharap mo na nagbebenta ng droga at nandoon sa school at hinuli ng pulis, anong gagawin ng pulis, sabihin, ‘Pare, mag vitamins ka muna? (If the person you are apprehending for selling drugs in school has a gun, what do you think the police should do? Should they tell him: Take some vitamins first?),” he added.

But for former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, it would be better for President Duterte to fully relinquish his presidency instead of just challenging Robredo.

“Why not just surrender the presidency by resigning,” the opposition lawyer said.

But despite the headlines, former chief of police now Senator Panfilo Lacson stressed that the President, being the top authority in the land, holds the highest power over the country’s law enforcement officials.

When asked if he believes the President’s intention was to annoy Robredo, Lacson said it wasn’t sarcasm “but more of an expression of irritation and disgust.”

He added that: “Unless he delegates a blanket authority, including the power to hire and fire, no one else in the government bureaucracy can do it better than the chief executive under any given circumstances.”

“At best, it’s half meant,” the senator concluded. – MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Duterte to use ‘extraordinary powers’ to resolve water shortage

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 29, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday (October 28) that he is prepared to use expropriation or outright police power to resolve the worsening water shortage.

“I will use the extraordinary powers of the presidency. I could not just allow people go out without water even for drinking,” he said.

The president said he is reviewing all options which can resolve the water shortage in Metro Manila and other provinces and he is prepared to expropriate or impose outright police power of the state.

This includes pushing for the Kaliwa Dam project which has been opposed by local governments and environmental advocates due to the possible flooding and displacement of indigenous people.

The president said that the local government who are opposing the said projects should put up safeguards to ensure sufficient water supply.

“It [the project] might create some danger or damage but that is not my concern. My concern is the welfare [of the people]. Ganito iyan (It’s like this): The greatest good for the greatest number,” according to Duterte.

Water concessionaires are currently implementing rotational water interruptions due to the low water level in Angat Dam.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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