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Rappler CEO Ressa posts bail for anti-Dummy Law charges

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler news site Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Ressa has been released after posting a P90,000 bail before the Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 265 on Friday (March 29).

Ressa was arrested earlier upon arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from San Francisco, California in relation with her alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and the Securities Regulations Code (SRC).

Pasig RTC Judge Acerey Pacheco issued the warrant for Ressa’s arrest.

READ:  Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrested at NAIA

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against Rappler news site over the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR) to foreign company, Omidyar Network, which has investments in Rappler’s operations.

Such is a violation of the 1987 Constitution, according to the complaint, as media entities in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino-owned. This brought up the allegation that Rappler was being controller by foreign entities.

Rappler has maintained that the allegations are not true even after the Court of Appeals ruled that the news website was not fully-owned by Filipinos.

This is the seventh time that Ressa has been arrested and the 11th case filed against Rappler.

The veteran journalist said her arrest, along with five members of Rappler’s 2016 board, sends a “bad signal” to the world, especially the business sector.

READ: Ressa, six other Rappler Execs face charges anew over anti-dummy law violation

“Apparently, the Philippine government with arresting just me, the fact that they also included upstanding, successful, tech entrepreneurs and businessmen, this is a bad signal to send to the rest of the world,” she told reporters outside the Pasig RTC shortly after she was released.

Malacañang, meanwhile, told Ressa to stop complaining about arrests, insisting that the legal cases against her are not attacks on press freedom.

“She cannot be complaining that this is again a violation of press freedom. Press freedom has nothing to do with the charges against Ms. Ressa,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a Palace press briefing.

“She’s charged of a crime and there is a determination of probable cause, hence, a warrant of arrest has been issued,” he added.

Panelo also pointed out that the issuance of warrant of arrest against Ressa proves that the government was observing due process in all the cases filed against Rappler.

He said that Ressa should instead focus on her cases and quit using press freedom as an excuse to attack the government.

“She should concentrate on defending herself in court. She cannot be always using the freedom of the press as an excuse to attack the administration,” the Palace official said. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Amid rumors: Palace says Duterte is OK, working while out of public eye

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte and former SAP Bong Go enjoying their classic Filipino merienda. The photo was originally posted on Go’s Facebook account, disproving rumors that the Chief Executive is confined in a hospital. | Courtesy: Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday assured that there is nothing to worry about regarding the health of President Rodrigo Duterte amid fresh rumors about his condition fueled by a week-long absence from the public eye.

Speculations circulated over the weekend that the president was confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City after suffering a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

The chief executive was last seen during the May 13 polls when he cast his ballot in Davao City.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is no truth to this rumor, adding that President Duterte is in his residence at the Palace, signing papers and working privately when not attending public engagements.

“Ang President, pag di ninyo nakikita, nagtatrabaho yun. Ayaw niyang naiistorbo yun, kasi pag nalabas siya, ang daming gustong makipag-usap sa kaniya,” he said.

“Ang focus niya ay signing papers, reading documents, memo hindi niya ginawa so he decided to stay put,” he added.

Panelo also said that the President sounded cheerful when they talked over the phone, however, he would not say whether he went to the hospital or not.

“Sabi niya, ‘I neither confirm nor deny, you draw your own conclusions’,” Panelo quoted the president as saying, adding that Duterte will inform the public if he is facing a serious health concern.

“Let me assure the nation, if there is anything wrong with the president’s health, serious or not to be of our concern, he will tell us, and he said so himself, many times over,” Panelo said.

On Sunday, former presidential special assistant Bong Go released photos of the President posing with daily broadsheets and sharing a meal in his residence in Malacañang.

Duterte’s common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña also belied rumors that the president was rushed to the hospital.

Speculations on Duterte’s health is no longer new as these are often sparked by his prolonged absences from the public eye.

In 2018, the 74-year old president admitted to undergoing a medical checkup to examine a growth found inside his digestive tract. He also said he needed to undergo some medical procedures for his gastrointestinal ailment.

READ: Duterte quells death rumors, appears on live stream

In February 2019, rumors about the president’s death circulated online. He later appeared in a video to end speculations. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Malacañang expects Go, Bato, Tolentino to be independent as senators

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

(L-R) Former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday (May 16) said it expects incoming senators, particularly those who are close allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, to be independent when it comes to issues involving national interest.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement following concerns that the check and balances in government may be affected as administration-backed Senate bets look set to join the upper chamber of Congress.

Partial and unofficial count from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that nine Senate bets endorsed by Duterte are in the top 12.

These are reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, reelectionist senators Sonny Angara and Koko Pimentel, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and former Senator Bong Revilla.

Three of them – Go, Dela Rosa and Tolentino – are known close allies of Duterte.

Panelo, however, believes that the three will do their job well and always put first the best interest of the nation.

 “It’s just happened that they are very close to the president but that doesn’t mean they will be subservient,” he said.

“Whether or not Senate or Congress is dominated by the allies of whoever is incumbent, we expect them to pass economic reforms that will be beneficial to the Filipino people. The issue on whether you are an ally or not should not be discussed,” he added.

Panelo stressed that the mandate of the Congress is to pass laws that will be beneficial for the people.

“It’s about time to eradicate the discussion on parties’ consideration. That is where we fail,” he said.

Aside from Duterte’s allies, other senatorial candidates who are in the winners’ circle based on partial tally are reelectionist senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, and former senator Lito Lapid. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Malacañang: Recall of PH officials over trash spat, a warning to Canada

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Canadian trash illegally exported to the Philippines (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right)

MANILA, Philippines – The order of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada is a warning that the diplomatic relations between the two countries may be severed over a garbage spat, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

This was after the Canadian government missed the May 15 deadline to take back tons of trash it sent to Manila several years ago.

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order was to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

READ: PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

“The fact alone that Secretary Locsin has recalled our diplomats there shows that not only are we serious, we are already warning them, we’re gonna severe diplomatic relations,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a press briefing.

Panelo added that the recall order for envoys aims to urge the Canadian government to expedite the garbage shipment process.

“That order of the recall is to persuade them to make it fast. The more the delay, the more personnel will be coming back,” he said.

Panelo on Wednesday said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents. He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it fails to retrieve its illegally exported trash.

He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014. The trash from around 26 containers have been dumped in a private landfill in Tarlac.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

There are more than 837,000 Filipinos residing and working in Canada, based on a 2016 census. Most of them are located in Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Some Filipinos there have appealed to the Philippine government to reconsider its move against Canada so as not to jeopardize the relations between the two nations.

Malacañang, however, assured that the government will continue to protect the interest of Filipinos abroad no matter what the outcome of its actions will be.

“Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interest of our countrymen in any part of the world,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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