Philippines, Japan renew strategic ties

Maris Federez   •   November 18, 2021   •   304

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday renewed their commitment to strengthen the strategic relations between the Philippines and Japan.

In a press statement, the Office of the President (OP) said the two leaders renewed their commitment through a telephone conversation on Wednesday (November 17).

“The phone call between Duterte and Kishida came a week after the latter was re-elected as Japan’s prime minister by parliament,” the Palace said.

President Duterte congratulated Prime Minister Kishida on his election and the Government of Japan on the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games, Malacañang said.

“The President also recalled Prime Minister Kishida’s visit in Davao in August 2016 when the latter paid a courtesy call as Foreign Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Kishida was the first Foreign Minister received by President Duterte,” it added.

The Palace further said that Duterte and Kishida agreed to undertake an exchange of visits “at a mutually agreed time to further reaffirm the Philippines-Japan partnership and personal friendship.”

“They likewise exchanged views on regional developments and multilateral issues, including the South China Sea issue, the situation in Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula, and non-proliferation,” it added.

Duterte also acknowledged how Japan has been “indeed a friend closer than a brother” after it sent assistance in the Philippines’ coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic response and recovery efforts.

The President also thanked Japan for supporting the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the peace process and grassroots development in Mindanao, and the ongoing transition process of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Japan is unrivaled among our bilateral partners,” Duterte told Kishida.

The Palace said Duterte also informed Kishida that he is looking forward to the successful implementation of projects and activities aimed at enhancing the Philippines’ cooperation with Japan in the field of maritime security, particularly in maritime domain awareness, maritime connectivity, and preservation of the marine environment.

On his part, Kishida acknowledged that the Philippines-Japan relations “have indeed reached its golden age under President Duterte’s administration.”

The Japanese official gave his commitment that “Japan will continue supporting the Philippines’ peace and development agenda in Mindanao, ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The OP further said that Kishida “conveyed his government’s readiness to further strengthen Japan’s partnership in maritime security by supporting the upgrading of the Philippines’ maritime law enforcement capabilities.”

“President Duterte and Prime Minister Kishida agreed that it is high time for the Philippines and Japan to pursue deeper security engagement and coordination by launching a Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting or 2+2 meeting,” Malacañang said.

“The Philippines and Japan celebrate two milestones this year — 65 years of normalized diplomatic relations and 10 years of Strengthened Strategic Partnership,” the Palace said. —/mbmf

Duterte sets to work even during holiday break to focus on recovery, rehab efforts

Maris Federez   •   December 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he will be going around areas severely affected by Typhoon Odette during the holiday break to focus on the recovery and rehabilitation efforts and closely monitor the distribution of relief goods to calamity victims.

Duterte made the announcement during his visit to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan which was also ravaged by the typhoon.

“So titingnan namin, hanggang pasko magtatrabaho ako. Hindi ako mag-new year. Talagang lalabas ako. Sabi ko mag-overtime kami gobyerno, hindi magsara maski na pasko,” Duterte said.

“Sabi ko magsakripisyo na muna tayo tutal marami nang pasko sa buhay natin, sobra-sobra na. Itong pasko na ito ibigay natin sa tao,” he added.

Aside from Palawan, the President also visited Cebu, Siargao, Dinagat Islands, Negros Occidental, Leyte, and Bohol.

The Chief Executive also apologized for the delay in the government’s response.

“Maghingi ako ng tawad na napatagal ang response sa gobyerno. Sa totoo lang, hirap din kami dito sa taas because of the so many places scattered around at malalayo. Pati yung pera. Alam mo kasi maraming nagsasalita. Yung calamity fund, up to sa mga mayors, kailangan may report ang damage ng isang lugar bago ma-release ang pera,” he explained.

Based on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council report, around 52,000 families were rendered homeless by the typhoon this holiday season. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte visits areas affected by Typhoon Odette

Maris Federez   •   December 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday (December 18) visited the areas severely battered by Typhoon Odette.

The President was accompanied by Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go and other government officials.

In a brief statement sent to reporters, Senator Go said that they first flew to Maasin in Southern Leyte. There, the President met with local government officials and heads of concerned national government agencies to assess the situation and damage brought by the typhoon.

They then proceeded to Surigao City in Surigao del Norte where he also met with local government units and with Dinagat Island officials.

The President and his team conducted an aerial survey in the typhoon-stricken areas and saw the damage firsthand.

Go said that the president summoned the officials of the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Social Welfare and Development, Public Works and Highways, the National Housing Authority, and the Office of the Civil Defense.

Go reported that there were many people stranded in Siargao.

The senator also noted the vast damage in infrastructure, as well as trees toppled by the strong winds brought by the typhoon.

Go said electric power and telecommunications were cut in major areas in the said provinces.

According to the senator, the President plans to visit Bohol and Cebu provinces on Sunday (December 19).

On Friday, the President expressed concern over the state of the people in the said typhoon-stricken areas.

“I’m not so much worried about damage to structures, infrastructures of government. Ang takot ko is maraming namatay,” the President said. —/mbmf

Go belies allegation of controlling Duterte

Maris Federez   •   November 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go has belied the allegation of retired Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, Jr. that he is controlling the decisions of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement released Monday (November 15), Go averred that President Duterte himself said that no one is controlling him.

“Nasagot na mismo ni Pangulong Duterte na walang nagko-kontrol sa kanya,” Go said.

“Siya mismo ang nagsabi na hindi naman siya magiging pangulo kung pinapaikot lang siya ng ibang tao.  Tanging siya ang gumagawa ng kanyang magagandang desisyon at tumutulong lang ako mula pa noon,” he added.

Go insists that the president makes his own decision and that he is just there to help as the chief executive’s assistant for more than two decades.

He further said that members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) can attest on how he helped in the implementation of the President’s decision, particularly in the salary increases of uniformed personnel.

“Tanungin natin ang mga kasama niya sa AFP, PNP, etc.  Alam nila kung paano ako tumulong na maipatupad ang desisyon na ito ni Pangulong Duterte para sa kapakanan ng mga sundalo, pulis, bumbero at iba pa.”

Go said that he’d rather not dwell on the issue as he respects Parlade.

“Ayaw ko nang makipagsagutan kay Gen. Parlade dahil nirerespeto ko siya. Sa katunayan, isa rin ako sa nagrekomenda na maging undersecretary siya. Alam naman nila ang katotohanan. Mainit na ang pulitika. Pero hayaan natin ang taumbayan ang humusga.”

Parlade, on Monday, filed his certificate of candidacy as a substitute candidate for president, going against Go for the presidential seat in the 2022 national and local elections. —/mbmf (with details from UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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