Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the change of command for the new Armed Forces chief at a military camp in Quezon city, Metro Manila, December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte risks impeachment after he admitted “personally” killing criminals when he was the mayor of Davao City, said two Philippine senators.
The firebrand leader boasted to business leaders on Monday that as Davao City mayor he used to prowl the streets on a big motorcycle looking for “an encounter to kill” just to show to local law enforcers he can do it.
“I used to do it personally,” Duterte said. “If I can do it why can’t you?”
More than 2,000 people have been killed in police anti-drug operations since Duterte became president in July. Almost all were shot when they resisted arrest.
Another 3,000 deaths are under investigation, with critics calling them vigilante killings.
Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte, said the president’s admission could be a ground for impeachment.
“That is betrayal of public trust and that constitutes high crimes because mass murders certainly fall into the category of high crimes. And high crimes is a ground for impeachment under the constitution,” de Lima told CNN on Thursday.
Senator Richard Gordon, who heads the senate justice committee, also said Duterte opened himself to possible impeachment proceedings following his controversial comments.
“When he says that, he’s opening himself up, so what’s the legal way, then go ahead and impeach him,” he told reporters, adding he was not surprised by the statement.
Duterte’s allies in Congress dared the president’s opponents and critics to file an impeachment motion, saying removing the leader through a political process is a numbers game.
There are less than 50 opposition lawmakers in the 293-member lower house of Congress. A two-thirds vote is needed to impeach a president.
Peter Wallace, who organized the business forum where Duterte spoke, thought the president’s statement was his “usual bravado.”
“He talked as he often does about drugs, and killings and criminality. And we had expected that he would but we were there not to listen to that,” Wallace told Reuters by phone.
“We were there to talk to him or listen to him about business issues and I was pleased that…he moved on to those subjects,” he said.
Justice Minister Vitaliano Aguirre dismissed Duterte’s statement as an exaggeration.
“It’s like a hyperbole, that’s the president, he is used to exaggerate just to put his message across,” Aguirre was quoted in radio reports as saying on Thursday.
Even if that were true, Aquirre said it did not necessarily mean that he violated the law.
“It could be done with a justifiable cause and justified circumstances as a public officer in order to arrest but if they resisted. He must have been forced,” Aquirre said, referring to Duterte. — Reuters
Malacañang to conduct information campaign on TRAIN Law
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the public to understand everything about the provisions and the purpose of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN Law.
This, following a series of increases in prices of goods and services in the country.
In line with this, the government will conduct an intensified information dissemination about TRAIN.
“I also know that PCOO is working double time to embark on a dissemination campaign on the salient features of TRAIN. Likewise, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) will not hesitate to prosecute individuals who will take advantage of price hikes invoking TRAIN as a legal basis,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque also assured that government agencies like the DTI will not allow businessmen to exploit the system for their own gains.
“Ang excise tax naman po pinapataw hindi dun sa old inventory kundi sa mga bagong inventory. So walang dahilan para tumaas ang presyo on day 1 of the effectivity of the law (The excise tax is imposed not on the old inventory but on the new inventory. Therefore, there is no reason to increase prices on day one of the effectivity of the law),” Roque said.
Meanwhile, the government will improve the cash transfer fund in order to ease the burden of poor families.
“We already have a list of beneficiaries on the conditional cash transfer. It would be the same population that will benefit from this cash mitigation which is a provision of the Tax Reform Act or TRAIN,” the spokesperson added. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue
Lawmakers oppose possible term extension for President Rodrigo Duterte
FILE PHOTOS: (Left-Right) Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Rep. Edcel Lagman
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s term will end in 2022.
However, owing to the proposed shift to a federal form of government, Senate President Koko Pimentel noted the possible extension of the chief executive’s term to pave way for the transition period.
With this, opposition senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan expressed concern that changing the Constitution and the system of the government will not only extend the term of the president but also give him more powers.
The senator noted one of these powers might be the creation of laws that would no longer need the approval of Congress.
According to Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the President can manipulate the decision of the constituent assembly to implement the changes he wants in the Constitution.
Lagman explained this is because of the existing administration-allied supermajority in Congress.
On the other hand, Malacañang strongly denied the alleged term extension of the chief executive.
“I would like to repeat, the President does not want his term to be extended. In fact, he wants to shorten it,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez clarified the issue on the alleged possibility of a ‘no-election’ scenario. Alvarez said it might happen in the 2019 senatorial polls and not in the 2022 presidential elections.
He explained, should the charter change push through to pave the way for federalism, the structure of the government will change.
The House speaker said it might affect the senators whose term will end in 2025, noting it is practical to not hold an election in 2019 so that all senators will simultaneously end their terms in 2022.
Alvarez added that election for local positions and lawmakers in the House of Representatives might push through in 2019. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue
PH to welcome other foreign telcos if China won’t accept deal according to constitutional requirement
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte shake hands with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang during the Chinese official visited the country.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may possibly open the playing field for telecommunications providers to other foreign companies.
Malacañang said that it is not yet final if the third telecommunications company to be joining the country’s playing field will be coming from China.
This, despite the fact that President Rodrigo Duterte offered this to Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang when the Chinese official visited the country.
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said if Chinese telecom will not heed with the 60/40 percent constitutional foreign-ownership provision, the Philippines will open the market to other foreign companies.
“We gave China the option but if this is not acceptable to it, unfortunately, we will have to look for other players because we will have to honor what the Constitution provides — 60/40 in terms of owning a telecoms company,” he said.
Roque, however, said they do not see any indication that China will not push through with the project.
President Duterte is determined to implement the project the soonest possible time to create better competition and better telecommunications service for the public.
“So far, as far as I know, it has been offered to China. We don’t know what the details are but the deadline is fast approaching. The President wants it up and about in the first quarter of this year,” the spokesperson added. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue