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REPASO 2018: The year of power struggle: Who’s in, who’s out?

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018

(L-R) House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

Tension filled the House of Representatives hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s third state of the nation address (SONA) on July 23.

Several members of the House wanted the ouster of then House Speaker and Davao Del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez to give way to Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

Later on, the microphones at the podium went off preventing Arroyo allies to speak. The HOR’s mace or the official seal was also nowhere to be found.

But nothing could stop the pro-Arroyo lawmakers as they held their own voting and elected Arroyo as the new Speaker of the House.

The commotion delayed the President’s SONA for an hour tagging Arroyo as ‘scene-stealer’ and ‘attention grabber’.

The President’s SONA went on with Alvarez still the House Speaker alongside the Senate President at the podium.

The SONA went smooth as if nothing happened but after the President left the Lower House, over 200 congressmen resumed an extended session to formalize the voting.

184 congressmen voted ‘yes’ to Arroyo while 12 abstained.

“There are no rules being followed, walang saysay ito,” argued Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Minutes later, Arroyo sworn into office.

 

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (right, wearing pink) being sworn into office by Ang Kabuhayan Rep. Dennis Laogan

But the drama did not end there because what followed next was dubbed as the ‘House Minority squabble’.

Most members of the House opposed Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez to be the House Minority leader as he was among the ‘front runners’ of the Arroyo-for-Speaker move.

“This will be a clear culpable grave abuse of discretion on the part of the leadership of the house to recognize Danny Suarez as a minority leader because it would be and admission by the leadership that they conspired with the minority to over throw Alvarez,” argued then House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rudy Fariñas during the House chaos on July 23.

“Kapag ang pumili at bumasbas sa minority ay majority, ano ang maaasahan natin dito hindi tunay na oposisyon. Sabi nga company union,” said ACT Teachers Party list Rep. Antonio Tinio on August 7.

“We need to take it to the Supreme Court para may stability rin para sa House. Nakakahiya para sa ating kongreso na ang minority leader ay in-appoint ng majority,” argued Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo on August 7.

But in the end, Suarez prevailed and the House leadership approved him as the House Minority Leader.

Arroyo allies were criticized for being ‘power grabber.’

“Nakakahiya na pinapakita natin sa lahat na iyong pag-wrestle ng power, parang in full public view,” expressed Vice President Leni Robredo.

But still, the lawmakers maintained that Arroyo’s and Suarez’s position were in accordance with the law.

“There is nothing to correct we stand by our position that the proceedings yesterday were valid, legal and binding, period,” maintained Former Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles on July 24.

After a week, Arroyo and Alvarez had a one-on-one talk to iron out things between them. Arroyo, however, refused to give details on what transpired in the meeting.

When asked about the alleged power struggle, Alvarez said he already moved on.

“Okay naman ako sinabi ko nga ako the pain lasted for only 24 hours after that wala na,” he said in an interview on August 2.

Malacañang, meanwhile, clarified that President Duterte has nothing to do with the squabble in the HOR as the decision has been made purely by the congressmen.

Similar to the Lower House, the Senate of the Philippines also made a sudden turnover of leadership.

Sixteen senators voted to name Senator Vicente Sotto III as the new Senate President in lieu of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.

In an unusual move, Senator Pimentel himself nominated Sotto for the position.

Pimentel said he decided to step down to prepare for his bid in the 2019 elections but reports said the main reason was Pimentel’s inaction on some priority bills such as the Duterte administration’s tax reform and the revival of death penalty.

On December 11, the Lower House passed the proposed Charter change but the Senate remains cold on the matter.

The Supreme Court also had its twists and turn when former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted via quo warranto plea filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Calida argued that Sereno failed to submit her Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN) required of a government official. Without this, Calida m, Sereno’s appointment as chief justice was invalid.

Eight magistrates voted for Sereno’s ouster while six opposed.

Justice Teresita De Castro took over the SC and was named the first (official) woman and the shortest serving chief justice in the country.

De Castro retired after six months in office and was replaced by Justice Lucas Bersamin. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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Duterte orders backchannel talks with Reds

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte | PCOO/Richard Madelo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is reopening doors for peace.

Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Board Member Avelino Andal confirmed that the Chief Executive ordered him to hold backchannel talks with the communist rebels.

According to Andal, he already conveyed the President’s message to the leaders of the leftist group which the latter positively welcomed.

“Actually napag-utusan ang inyong lingkod at utos mula sa presidente na kung maaari ay i-resume ang pag-uusap,” Andal revealed in a phone interview.

“Sapagkat ang kaniyang pinagdidiinan ay bilang presidente, siya ay kaibigan at hindi kaaway ng mga rebelde,” he added.

Andal was a former activist and political detainee during the Martial Law regime. He was once a rebel returnee himself.

In 2018, President Duterte ordered the suspension of backchannel talks with the communist rebels for the government to thoroughly assess the provisions of the agreements to be entered into by both parties.

Though Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo did not confirm such backchannel order, he expresses confidence that such a move will bring positive results.

“What is important to me is if there is one, then the CPP-NPA at this time and for a change should listen to the president, and most likely they may at this time to the urgings of the president,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte to march the streets to support the Bangsamoro Basic Law

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte. | REY BANIQUET/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on Monday (January 14) that President Rodrigo Duterte plans to fly to Cotabato City to join a massive rally on January 18 in support of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The mass action will be held two days before the scheduled plebiscite for the BBL in areas of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); Isabela City-Basilan and in Cotabato City.

Lorenzana assured that President Duterte and the rest of his Cabinet as well as the Congress support the BBL.

“All out si Presidente. Sa January 18 pupunta (siya) sa Cotabato para sa big BOL rally. The day before dapat pupunta din siya sa Jolo pero dahil may importante siyang gagawin dito, hindi makapunta,” Lorenzana said during a meeting with leaders of the Bangsamoro communities outside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) on Sunday (January 13)

“Pero pupunta kami. Ako, si Sec. Ano, si Sec. Galvez, para kumbinsihin na namin si Sakur. Matigas ang ulo ni Sakur, pero we can convince him maybe para lumambot ang puso niya at tanggapin ang BOL,” the Defense Secretary said referring to Governor Abdusakur Tan II of Sulu who opposes the BOL.

Malacañang expressed confidence that with the presence of President Duterte himself, the public will be more convinced of supporting the passage of the BBL.

“The voice of the president is always a powerful influence on whatever matter he gives his voice into,” confirmed Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Lorenzana, meanwhile, assured the public that the government is working very hard to ensure an honest, clean and peaceful elections in May.

Lorenaza and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chair and head of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission Ghadzali Jaafar called on all parties involved in the BOL especially the leaders of Muslim groups to be calm and pay respect to whatever the decision of the public will be regarding BBL.

“Hindi na pwede ang takutan dito. Tapos na ang pagiging rebolusyonaryo natin. Tapos na. Bibigyan na nga tayo ng chance to lead. Now it’s time to, itapon na natin ang uniporme natin. Magsuot na tayo ng barong o di kaya ng coat, and then start being a diplomat. Start being a statesman. Start thinking of how to improve our area,” Lorenzana said.

“Please do not do anything that will divide their favor because one of the major responsibilities of a leader, whether you’re like a revolutionary leader like me or political leader, your responsibility is,at all times, to unite your constituent and to unite your people,” appealed Jaafar.

“Leaders like us must never become agents of disunity of our people,” he emphasized further.

The plebiscite will be held on February 6 in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte fires Bacolod City police chief, 4 others for illegal drugs

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2019

Bacolod City Chief of Police PSSupt. Francis Ebreo. | Courtesy: Bacolod City Police Office FB page

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte sacked Bacolod City Chief of Police PSSupt. Francis Ebreo over the weekend for his alleged involvement in drugs and for “making the people of Bacolod miserable.”

“I am relieving and dismissing you from the service as of now, Senior Superintendent Francis Ebreo,” the President straightforwardly announced on Saturday (January 12) during the birthday celebration of Vallacar Transit CEO, Leo Rey Yanson in Bacolod City.

Aside from Ebreo, the Chief Executive also axed other Bacolod city police officers, namely: PSupt Richie Makilan Yatar, PSupt. Nasruddin Daud Tayuan; PSinp. Victor Paulino; and PSSupt. Allan Rubi Macapagal.

Based on reports, Ebreo was outside the venue of the event when President Duterte announced his order.

President Duterte added that the said officers were protecting a drug syndicate operating the city.

Meanwhile, Western Visayas Police Regional Officer Chief PSupt. John Bulalacao said the officials concerned have already been relieved from their positions; an investigation is underway. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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