Senate OKs bill giving Duterte power to delay class opening during public crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 2, 2020   •   1194

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte ‘flexibility’ to schedule the opening of classes in schools during a state of emergency.

Voting 23-0, senators on Monday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1541, which proposes to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act 7797, a law which sets the opening of school-year as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the country.

Once enacted into law, the bill would authorize the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education, to set the opening of classes nationwide or in selected areas at any date during a state of emergency or calamity.

A similar measure has been approved in the committee level in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The approval of the proposed measure comes amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected millions of people worldwide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte registers for PH identification system

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has personally registered with the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), photos from Malacañang showed.

In photos shared to reporters late Thursday, Duterte can be seen having his biometric information taken by a personnel from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Duterte’s former aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea were also photographed having themselves registered into the national ID system.

The PhilSys Act, which Duterte signed into law in August 2018, seeks to harmonize and integrate several government IDs by establishing a single national identification system for all citizens and resident aliens through the collection of basic personal information and biometric data.

The ID will contain the PhilSys number of each person, his or her name, facial image, sex, address, date of birth, and blood type. It will also contain information such as fingerprints.

The PSA has already started last year the process of registration for the first 9 million low-income households in 32 provinces.

The registration for residents in Metro Manila and other areas is expected to begin this year.

Duterte and his Cabinet earlier approved a P3.53 billion additional budget for 2021 to register 20 million more individuals, on top of the 50 million target, into the national ID system.

The PSA is looking to complete the registration and issue the national ID before the end of Duterte’s term in 2022. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte: No franchise until arrears with government are settled

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (January 18) maintained that the government will not allow any franchise application to push through unless business owners settle their obligations with the government.

Though the President did not mention any particular business or company, his remark comes as lawmakers push for a franchise bill for ABS-CBN.

“No franchise will ever be implemented. Maski bigyan ninyo ng limang libong franchise iyan, hindi ko i-implement iyan. Settle your account with the government.” the President said.

In July 2020, the House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Legislative Franchise denied ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh 25-year franchise after it lapsed in May 2020.

On January 4, 2021, Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed his version of ABS-CBN franchise bill.

Earlier this month, Batangas 6th District Representative and House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto filed her version noted as House Bill No. 8298. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

READ: ABS-CBN to stay off-air after House panel junks bid for new 25-year franchise

Duterte defends Galvez, slams critics over corruption claims in Sinovac deal

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte vouched for vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.’s plan to procure Chinese-made vaccine Sinovac for the government’s vaccination program against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This is amid questions on the efficacy of Sinovac and allegations of overpricing.

“I’m telling Gen. Galvez na ang game plan niya, sundin niya (follow his game plan). With or without the investigation, proceed and implement what we plan to do,” President Duterte said.

Duterte revealed that even before the pandemic worsened, he had appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the vaccines. In response, the Chinese leader promised to help.

Long before na pumutok ito tumawag na ako kay President Xi Jinping. Tapos sabi ko wala kaming resources. We do not know how to make it. Please do not forget the Philippines,” Duterte said, recalling his conversation with Xi.

Just recently, China committed to provide the Philippines with 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for free.

As for the corruption issue, President Duterte assured that the procurement process will go through the thorough review of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez before the pricing and the documentary requirements are finalized. 

Duterte maintained that at this stage, the government is not allowed to speak of the pricing of the Sinovac vaccine as stated in the contract.

“They signed a memorandum of confidentiality. They cannot reveal the price kasi it will result in, na malugi ‘yung iba. — in some countries malugi sila, ‘yung ibang countries, hindi pare-pareho,” Duterte said.

He slammed critics who insist that there is corruption in the vaccine deal.

“Ito ayaw kong ‘yung pa-off tangent na mga tirada ninyo: ‘Bakit ba ito si Duterte Sinovac ng Sinovac?’ I-ano ninyo ang utak sa corruption-corruption. I don’t know why are you so occupied about corruption,” Duterte told critics. 

“Maghanap kayo hindi dito. Baka sa inyo. Baka sa departamento ninyo. Hindi dito sa akin, ” he added.

The Chief Executive also stressed that the government is not forcing anyone to receive and to purchase a particular brand of COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who wants to procure vaccine other than Sinovac is free to do so just be responsible for the consequences.

“Almost everybody na kilala ko are scrambling to buy itong Pfizer. Well, to me I think it’s a good one. If you want to follow the experience of Norway, go ahead. Nobody will stop you,” he said referring to a report that 23 elderly patients died after receiving the Pfizer-made vaccine.

“We never prohibited anybody from buying from government. We are not — we are not selling, we are buying for the people, libre.” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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