Solon: Duterte expected to bare House Speaker bet on June 28

Robie de Guzman   •   June 19, 2019   •   1961

President Rodrigo Duterte during a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 | RTVM

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may reveal his preferred candidate for the speakership post in the House of Representatives on June 28, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Masbate Representative-elect Wilcon Kho said Duterte announced this during a dinner meeting with several congressmen at Malacañang on Tuesday night.

“Ang sabi ni Presidente, hintayin na lang namin ang June 28 para sa desisyon… may pinapahiwatig siya na iniendorso pero hintayin na lang natin sa 28,” Kho told reporters in a chance interview.

Five congressmen have expressed interest in gunning for the top post in the Lower House, namely Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, Taguig City Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, Pampanga Representative Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

Romualdez, Velasco and Cayetano earlier met with Duterte during his official visit to Japan to ask for the president’s endorsement. The chief executive has yet to pick a candidate although he earlier said he will be neutral on the issue.

Cayetano earlier said he is open to sharing a term with Velasco and that the arrangement has been mentioned by the president himself during their meeting in Japan.

READ: Cayetano open to House Speakership term-sharing

Velasco, however, rejected the idea.

Velasco and Gonzales were among the attendees at Tuesday’s dinner meeting with Duterte’s son, Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte.

Kho said that during the meeting, Velasco also laid out his legislative agenda should he be voted as the next speaker when the 18th Congress opens in July.

The neophyte congressman, however, clarified that it is still up to the solons to decide who to vote for the speakership post.

Meanwhile, Velasco thanked the chief executive for joining the dinner reception to welcome the 124 neophyte congressmen in an aim to “foster camaraderie among the incoming members of the 18th Congress to work harmoniously and forward our legislative agenda.” (with details from Grace Casin)

Duterte to listen to public’s sentiment on VFA issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is open to listening to the public about their sentiments on the issue regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said those who wish to voice out their opinions on whether the VFA should be abolished or not can send messages through the government hotline 8888.

Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate and send an email or message through government agency hotlines for it to reach the President), he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Wednesday (February 24), said he is still undecided on what to do. He previously demanded the US to pay if it wants the VFA to continue.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military will support the decision of the President but also said the Philippines should be able to defend itself without any assistance. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to personally welcome first batch of Sinovac vaccines on Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to witness in person the arrival of the Philippines’ very first batch of COVID-19 vaccines scheduled on Sunday (February 28) at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed in a message that the event on Monday is part of the President’s schedule.

He is expected to be joined by other government officials in welcoming the shipment of the much-awaited 600,000 doses of CoronaVac of the pharmaceutical firm Sinovac donated by China.

A total of 100,000 doses of the CoronaVac will be reserved for members of the military.

Once the vaccines arrive, the government is expected to kick-off the nationwide vaccine rollout on Monday (March 1) which will prioritize frontline health workers, uniformed personnel, and senior citizens among other sectors.

The vaccine turnover rite was also confirmed by China through its envoy to the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” Ambassador Huang said on Facebook.

“I want to thank all those who have worked so hard in order to make this happen! I hope the vaccines will help kick off Philippines’ mass inoculation campaign to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos’ life to return to normal at the earliest,” he added.

Meanwhile in a post on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy refuted claims that Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be given to health workers who have high exposure to positive cases.

The Embassy said the pharma company’s first trial inoculation on health workers in Brazil yielded positive results.

“Even under such extremely challenging conditions, the vaccine has show 100% protection to prevent fatal cases or severe cases that need hospitalization, 80% protection to prevent mild case which don’t need any medical intervention,” it said.

Thus, the Embassy said, “the Sinovac is good for medical workers with exposure to COVID-19.”

OVP dismayed over Duterte’s statement against Robredo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 16, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Vice President expressed dismay over President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirade against Vice President Leni Robredo after she criticized his decision to demand payment for the US troop deal.

Robredo’s Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez said the President should focus on directly answering the issues at hand, instead of resorting to comments against the Vice President.

“Tuwing magsasalita sa anomang isyu, lagi na lang nagiging ganyan ang sagot sa atin. Imbis na sagutin doon sa level ng kung ano ba talaga yung pinag-uusapan, paninira at pangungutya ang ating inaabot,” he said.

During his public address on Friday (February 12) the President said the US has to pay if they want the Visiting Forces Agreement to continue.

“I’d like to put on notice if there’s an American agent here. From now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done, you have to pay. It’s a shared responsibility but your share of responsibility does not come free because, after all, when the war breaks out, we all pay,” he said during his speech.

Robredo likened Duterte’s demand for payment to “extortion.”

On Monday (February 15), Duterte responded to Robredo’s comment, saying the Vice President “needs to study more.”

“You really do not know your role in this government. The foreign relations with other countries is vested on the President alone kaya hindi mo alam ang mga pangyayari, Duterte said.

“If by unfortunate chance you become the president, please study more. I think that you need a refresher course sa law. That is my advice to you,” he added.

Duterte also slammed Senator Panfilo Lacson for his comments on seeking a more diplomatic approach in resolving the VFA issue. In response, Lacson said the President should reread the 1987 Constitution.

“I may not be a lawyer like him. Last time I read the Constitution, a senator has something to do with international agreements. The President should refresh his memory by reading Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution,” he said in a statement. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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