Solons backing Velasco speakership bid to shift support to Paolo Duterte

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2019   •   1178

(L-R) Davao City Representative Paolo “Pulong” Duterte and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers from the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) who are supporting Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco’s House speakership bid are vowing to shift their support should Davao City Representative Paolo “Pulong” Duterte pursue his bid for the top House post.

“Basta si Cong. Pulong, siya ang mag-speaker, lahat kami na kay Cong. Lord ay susuporta kami kay Congressman Pulong,” PDP-Laban Executive Vice President and Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales told reporters in an interview.

(If Cong. Pulong joins the speakership race, all of us who are backing Cong. Lord’s bid will shift support to Congressman Pulong.)

Gonzales made the statement after the presidential son and first-termer congressman announced his possible bid for speakership “to help unite” members of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress.

READ: Paolo Duterte says he might join House speakership race

Duterte said in a statement he previously had no interest in the position, but had a change of heart amid talks of term-sharing being “obsessively pushed” by Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano.

The ruling party PDP-Laban earlier endorsed Velasco as its speakership bet.

Aside from Cayetano, another PDP-Laban member vying for the speakership post is former Speaker and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez. Other contenders are Gonzales and Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez.

Gonzales said he already talked to Velasco about the situation. He also expressed confidence that no other candidate for the speakership would run against Duterte.

Prior to his election as congressman, Duterte served as vice mayor of Davao City but resigned in 2017 after he was tagged in the Bureau of Customs smuggling case.

But despite Duterte’s short stint in public service and legislative work, Gonzales believes the presidential son will be able to perform the Speaker’s duties.

“May experience na ‘yan, naging Vice Mayor na ‘yan at siguradong malalaman rin niya ‘yan marami namang makakasama si Cong Pulong,” he said.

(He already has experience when he served as vice mayor. He will also learn about it from his colleagues.)

Party-list Coalition Spokesperson and AKO BICOL party Representative Alfredo Garbin, meanwhile, believes a House leader must have the ability to unite its more than 300 members.

“If the professional competence, the integrity and the same time, the compassion to the members and the most important thing is the skill to deal with the 300 plus members,” said Garbin.

He said the party-list coalition are set to meet to discuss their vote for the speakership race.

The Visayan bloc, on the other hand, will meet on Monday to tackle Duterte’s proposal for the speakership post to be shared by lawmakers from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the party-list groups.

Malacañang, for its part, said the presidential son has the right to gun for speakership post.

“Every person has the right to any position, if he is qualified, if he is elected, kaya you cannot prevent people naman from running,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier threatened to step down from office should his son decide to gun for House speakership.

But Panelo said that both the chief executive and his son may still change their minds about the issue.

“It’s between the father and the son, ibang usapan na yun. Pero as a general principle, if you are qualified to run then you can run,” he said.

Romualdez has yet to comment on the issue, but according to his ally Albay Representative Joey Salceda, meanwhile, said the former would give way to the younger Duterte.

Cayetano has yet to release statement on Duterte’s announcement for possible speakership bid. (correspondents Grace Casin and Rosalie Coz contributed to this report)

Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

LOOK: Robredo’s memo to Duterte on acceptance of anti-drug post designation

Robie de Guzman   •   November 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday sent a memorandum to Malacañang stating her acceptance of President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer for her to become co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

Robredo’s spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez posted a photo of the memorandum on his Twitter account with the caption, “Handa na ba kayo para sa akin?”

The vice president on Wednesday said she has accepted the designation in hopes of stopping the killing of innocent lives under the administration’s anti-drug war.

Duterte made the offer following Robredo’s call to allow the United Nations to investigate his war on drugs, which she said was “not working.”

She later clarified that she meant to urge the administration to assess its campaign.

In a briefing with Malacanang Press Corps, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo is welcome to attend the meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday.

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