Senators expect to hear salary, labor, sea dispute issues in Duterte 4th SONA

Robie de Guzman   •   July 20, 2019   •   2679

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, some senators have already picked out certain topics that they want the Chief Executive to discuss in his speech.

According to Senator Sonny Angara, he expects the president to outline his plans not only for his remaining three years in office but for the next decade.

In particular, Angara said the 2020 national budget should lay down the framework for the 10-year development plan for the country.

“This should result in the next administration building on what the President has achieved and what he started during his term and not the perennial focus on going after its predecessors,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker added he would also like to hear the president fulfilling his promise of raising the teachers’ salaries, as well as his plan on creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities for Filipino workers.

“We want to see the creation of more jobs and opportunities for the Filipino people so that they are able to improve their lives and no longer see the need to go abroad in order to make ends meet,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he wants to hear during the president’s SONA the administration’s commitment to further protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers.

READ: Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” he said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

For Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, he wants to hear about the president’s priority bills, as well as his view on the surge of illegal foreign workers in the country.

“His priorities for one year usually, and then priorities for the last second half of his term,” he said.

Aside from labor issues, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expects the president to tackle in his speech the issue on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the disputed waters.

“Wish ko lang na sasabihin ni Presidente na sa wakas after 3 years ay i-champion na niya, itataguyod yung tagumpay natin vis a vis China sa West Philippine Sea,” she said.

Duterte has been facing criticisms over his stance on China’s continued trawling in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

He earlier stressed that his position on allowing Chinese fishermen access to Philippine waters was not a violation of the Philippine constitution. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte ‘puzzled’ over FDA advice on Sinovac use for health workers – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte was perplexed by the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to use the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine on health workers who are frequently exposed to patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president has asked FDA Director-General Eric Domingo to explain such recommendation after the agency’s issuance of an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac.

“Si president po mismo, nagtataka bakit nga ganuon nga ang naging EUA ng FDA at pinatawag po talaga si Dr. Domingo ng huling cabinet meeting… Naiparating ng president ang pagtataka kung bakit may ganitong colatilla,” Roque said.

Domingo explained that the vaccine’s efficacy rate on healthcare workers is 50.4% based on Sinovac’s clinical trials conducted in Brazil, making it not the best vaccine suited for healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients.

The FDA chief, however, stressed that this is only a recommendation and healthcare workers are not prohibited from receiving Sinovac if they chose to.

“Nirerespeto po ni president ang mga opinion ng mga experts kaya let the colatilla remain,” Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte wants to personally welcome China-donated Sinovac vaccines – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants to personally witness the arrival of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine doses that were donated by the Chinese government out of a debt of gratitude, Malacañang said Wednesday.

“Pilipino tayo, tumatanaw tayo ng utang na loob. Sa ating panahon ng pangangailangan, talaga namang iyong kaibigan nating China ang nagpadala ng unang bakuna sa atin, so hindi mo matatanggal sa Pilipino na tumanaw ng utang na loob,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual briefing.

The Chinese government earlier said it will donate some 600,000 doses of vaccines manufactured by Sinovac.

Helen Yang, Sinovac Biotech general manager, said they are now preparing the vaccines which will be delivered to the country soon after it finally secured an emergency use authorization from the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.

“We will try our best whether we can deliver the products in this week or next week. It will be very soon,” she said.

Malacañang earlier said the government may roll out the vaccination program a day after the Sinovac vaccines arrive in the country.

Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech under the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility were supposed to be the first to arrive in the country this month but its delivery was delayed over some issues including the indemnification deal. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte says daughter Sara is not running for president in 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his position that he will not support the idea of his eldest daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, joining the presidential race in the 2022 elections despite the much urgings of their supporters.

Duterte made the remark during a situational briefing for the government response to the onslaught of storm ‘Auring’ in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday.

“Inday Sara is not running. I have really put my foot down. Naaawa ako sa anak ko,” he said.

“Ang pulitika dito sa atin, kababuyan,” he added.

The chief executive issued the statement after Surigao del Sur Governor Alexander Pimentel urged him to convince either Mayor Sara or his former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go to be his successor and continue his administration’s achievements when his term ends in 2022.

This came after Sara Duterte emerged as the top presidential and vice presidential preference for 2022 elections in a survey recently conducted by OCTA Research Team.

The poll showed that the president’s daughter came on top after 22% of the respondents picked her to be country’s next president.

Following Duterte is Sen. Grace Poe with 13%, Sen. Manny Pacquiao and former Sen. Bongbong Marcos with 12% each, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso with 11%.

In the vice presidential race, Duterte also emerged on top after getting 14% of the survey votes. Moreno and Pacquiao got 11% each while Poe scored 10%.

Sara Duterte earlier thanked her supporters for their trust and confidence but reiterated that she is not interested in seeking the country’s highest post.

She also advised her supporters to stop mounting tarpaulins and billboards, as well as staging motorcades and other activities for her supposed 2022 candidacy.

Meanwhile, the president also warned the public against former Senator Antonio Trillanes III, one of his administration’s staunch critics.

“Be careful of trillanes, magbantay kayo. He will sell you to the devil. ‘Pag yan ang nakaupo. Patay, walang hiya yan. Sa totoo lang,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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