MANILA, Philippines – House Speakership contender, Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez has backed out of the race and accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion for him to serve as Majority Leader instead.
Romualdez’s decision was announced by Albay 2nd District Joey Salceda, the designated spokesperson of the legislators who were part of the pro-Romualdez bloc.
“The unanimous decision is to follow the President. No ifs. No buts. No unless. No except. Martin is accepting the position of majority leader,” he said.
Salceda said Romualdez has expressed support for Duterte’s choice for speakers despite garnering 167 signatures from his fellow lawmakers to win the speakership post.
Duterte on Monday announced that his bet for the speakership race of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress are Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco, who will share the term.
Cayetano would serve as speaker in the first 15 months and will be succeeded by Velasco in the remaining 21 months of the term.
Salceda said Romualdez is now preparing for his work as the majority leader, which has a term of three years.
“We asked the incoming Majority Leader to develop a robust and dynamic relations with the new Speaker,” he said.
“With the new leadership, the House of Representatives is now ready to deliver efficiently and effectively the national agenda, contribute inputs to the agenda and mobilise national consensus and public support to the Duterte program that would sustain the economic takeoff of the Philippines and spread its fruits leaving no one behind,” he added.
The Party-list Coalition, which consists of 54 party-list representatives, said they plan to vote for Cayetano for now.
“For the 15 months, for now we don’t know what will happen, right?” said 1-PACMAN Party-list Representative Mikee Romero, who serves as the Coalition’s president.
If it pushes through, this would be the first time that the lower chamber of Congress will have two representatives sharing the term as House Speaker.
As of this time, lawmakers cannot say how will this set up affect the legislative agenda but assured that they won’t be a rubber stamp of the Duterte administration.
“We cannot be stamping pads especially with so many neophytes there. And that’s hard. I think it’s only the late strongman [Ferdinand] Marcos who can do that because of the situation,” said Abono Party-list Representative Conrado Estrella III.
Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) head Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and the members of the Duterte Coalition have so far remained silent on the President’s speakership endorsement. (with details from Grace Casin)
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the remaining economic and public service measures that are included in his administration’s legislative agenda.
Duterte made the call during the re-enactment of the signing of several laws that were already enacted in May.
“I hope that when both houses of Congress resume sessions this year, priority will be given to the remaining flagship programs of my administration,” he said in a speech at the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday.
These bills include the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act.
Duterte said he wants to sign these measures “at the earliest possible time.”
During the ceremony, the president also thanked members of Congress for their efforts in ensuring that his administration’s legislative agenda will be translated into relevant policies and programs that will improve the lives of Filipinos and revive the country’s economy from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte described Wednesday’s event as a testament to the “fruitful collaboration between the legislative and executive branches of government.”
“These laws – which open more opportunities for our people to serve in government and enable some of our LGUs to render more efficient and inclusive service – are part of our vision of bringing government closer to the people,” he said.
The president expressed optimism that more government agencies cooperate as the country takes more concrete steps to revive the economy and help the people recover from the effects of the pandemic.
“Now, more than ever, we need to follow the whole-of-nation approach in ensuring an inclusive and seamless response to the current challenges facing the nation,” he said.
“To the Filipino people, let me assure you that your government will continue to pursue measures that will improve and enhance your way of life,” he added.
Duterte also expressed confidence that with the help of Congress, his administration can pursue its legislative agenda that will improve and enhance the lives of Filipinos and promote the nation’s progress.
Among the recently signed laws that the President ceremonially signed were Republic Act (RA) 11549 or An Act Lowering the Minimum Height Requirement for Applicants of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor); RA 11544 or An Act Converting the Municipality of Calaca in the Province of Batangas Into a Component City To Be Known as the City of Calaca; RA 11545 or An Act Reapportioning the First Legislative District of the City of Caloocan Into Two Legislative Districts; and RA 11546 or An Act Reapportioning the Province of Bulacan Into Six Legislative Districts.
Congress will resume session on July 26 when the president delivers his final State of the Nation Address.
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the opposition group “must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform” in next year’s elections.
“The opposition must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform. The opposition must present a platform, which says that we can do better in the pandemic response because this is where the errors are committed and this is what we are going to do,” Drilon said in a television interview.
When asked to comment on observations that there is no one strong opposition candidate at this point, the senator said that having one opposition candidate is “desirable” but admits to it being a “very difficult task.”
“… [I]t is desirable to have one opposition candidate. That is what the 1Sambayan is trying to do. That is a very difficult task. They have taken upon themselves that difficult task. We support their effort,” he said.
“We do hope that the opposition can come up with only one candidate. As in any election in the past, the administration would always have the advantage. We must exert every effort to have one candidate to oppose the administration candidate,” he added.
Last week, political coalition 1Sambayan revealed their list of presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The list includes Vice President Leni Robredo, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, Senator Grace Poe, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, and CIBAC party-list Representative Eddie Villanueva.
If Robredo decides not to run in 2022 polls, Drilon, who sits as Liberal Party vice chairperson, said the Liberal Party is open to alliances.
“That is the reality of politics today. As we said, we should only have one candidate. We cross our fingers that VP Robredo will decide to run for president and we believe she is the strongest and, hopefully, she can unite all the non-Duterte candidates,” he said.
“If she does not run for the presidency, then the LP will have to meet and see where we will go from there,” he added.
MANILA, Philippines — The outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda has sought permission to open a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war under President Rodrigo Duterte.
The official argued that there is a basis to believe the government’s war on drugs has committed ‘the crime against humanity of murder’ which she claimed had killed thousands of people, including innocent children.
Just in time for her last day in office as ICC prosecutor on Tuesday (June 15), Bensouda argued “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019, based on a that a preliminary probe that began in February 2018.
That same period was when Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC.
The statement underscored that the Inter-Agency Review Panel headed by the Secretary of Justice is still conducting reinvestigation on cases involving fatalities in the campaign against illegal drugs, and that the Panel should be allowed to finish such work.
“The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort. The States Parties to the Rome Statute envisioned a court with a complementary, not primary, jurisdiction for the prosecution of the persons most responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern,” the statement added.
“The Rome Statute requires the Court and the Office of the Prosecutor to respect and defer to the primary criminal jurisdiction of the concerned State Party, while proceedings are ongoing in the latter. The precipitate move of the Prosecutor is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” it further said.
The department also said enumerated what it called concrete and progressive steps the Deterte administration has taken to address concerns in the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign. It added that the government has recently finalized with the UN a Joint Program on Human Rights.
All these, the department said, “affirm the Philippines’ adherence to human rights norms and its long track record of constructive engagement with international and regional partners in human rights promotion and protection.”
“The midnight announcement by the current Prosecutor on the eve of her end of term also preempts the prerogative of her successor to make a full evaluation of the cases that he will prosecute. By her act, the outgoing Prosecutor likewise undercuts the attractiveness of the Rome Statute to States that may be considering accession,” the DFA said.
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.