FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second state of the nation address (SONA) on July 24, 2017.
War on Drugs
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon during the pre-SONA forum on July 17 said from July 1, 2016 up to June 30 this year, the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign has accomplished the following:
• more than 1.2 million drug personalities;
• arrest of 49,265 persons;
• 4,540 drug lords and pushers who resisted arrest were neutralized.
• 18,388 barangays (of the 29,749 drug-affected barangays) were declared drug free
• 208,000 drug surrenderers rehabilitated
• PHP13.5 billion worth of drugs, shabu, related substances in 2017 seized
Land Use Act
The House of Representatives already approved on May 2, 2017, its version of the NaLUA bill, or House Bill No. 5240 (An Act Instituting a National Land Use and Management Policy, Providing the Implementing Mechanisms, and Appropriating Funds Therefor).
Five NaLUA bills have been filed in the Senate. But to date, no consolidated bill has been drafted and no Senate committee discussions of the bills have been held. (source:www.neda.gov.ph)
New agency on disaster response
As of July 2018, the Cabinet approved the bill establishing the Department of Disaster Resilience.
The House committees on government reorganization and national defense and security jointly approved a motion creating a technical working group for the consolidation of eight bills seeking to create an independent agency focused on the country’s disaster preparedness and emergency management.
Passage of Death Penalty bill
The law reinstating the death penalty remains stalled in the Senate since April 2017, after it did not appear to have enough votes to pass.
Stop irresponsible mining
President Duterte in July this year launched mining crackdown, sustained existing ban on open-pit mining and mulled total ban in 2019.
TRO on RH Law
The Supreme Court’s two-year temporary restraining order on contraceptive implants still in effect.
DeEd reported that a total of 26.3 million learners received formal education and registered 641, 584 Alternative Learning System enrollments.
Enacted the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education or the Free Tuition Act
Return of a national heritage
The return to the Philippines of the Balangiga bells is only waiting for the signature of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Manila ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez on July 19 (Thursday).
Duterte on urgent call for Code of Conduct: ‘My country will be the first to suffer’
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins other leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries during the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on November 14, 2018. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
SINGAPORE – President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his position that a code of conduct (COC) for South China Sea is urgent as China seemed to be unstoppable in its island and facility-building on the disputed territory.
The President said that being the newly assigned country coordinator for ASEAN-China Summit, he will try his best so that “everybody will know” that such reclamation activities require “radical changes in the laws governing international waters particularly the right of free passage or the right of innocent passage.”
The Chief Executive implied that China’s three-year bargain of negotiating for a COC might bring the friction among nations into something uncontrollable, that’s why a set of rules must be hammered as soon as possible.
“China is there. That’s a reality. America and everybody should realize that they are there. So if you just keep on creating friction, little friction, one day, a bad miscalculation could thorn things, more fierce law. If anything could go wrong, it will go wrong,” the President noted during an interview before proceeding to the first Summit for the day on Thursday (November 15).
By friction, President Duterte means holding military activities that would only trigger a much larger problem.
He said it is pointless to use arms because “China is already in possession” of the disputed territory.
“It’s now in their hands, so why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he said.
President Duterte added that it is not his concern anymore if nations want to rage war against one another. However, he wants to make clear his interest in pushing for an urgent code of conduct.
“I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands and if there’s a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That is my only national interest there, nothing else,” the President concluded. – Marje Pelayo
Duterte in ‘top physical shape,’ gets back to business after ‘power nap’
SINGAPORE – Speculations circulated on the second day of the 33rd ASEAN Summit when the Philippine president was nowhere to be seen in some important meetings of the day.
President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t able to attend a number of meetings like the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit; the ASEAN-Korea Summit; the Working lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit “to catch some sleep,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President was able to attend the ASEAN-China Summit as the new country coordinator for the ASEAN-China dialogue relations in which he delivered the ASEAN Common Statement.
He likewise witnessed the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and the ASEAN on Economic Cooperation.
He also had a bilateral meeting with ASEAN host and Singapore Prime Minister Lee over some mutual cooperation beneficial to both countries’ people.
The President also attended important gatherings of the ASEAN members with dialogue partners including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview Thursday morning (November 15), the President seemed displeased about others making a big fuss about his absence.
He assured he is in good shape to attend all engagements for the day.
When asked if he had enough power nap yesterday, the President replied, “Still not good enough but enough to sustain the endurance for the last day. What’s wrong with my nap?”
According to Panelo, “the President is set to participate in the rest of the summits and a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister.”
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and well-being,” Panelo said.
“The President’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo
China agrees to work on Code of Conduct for South China Sea ‘in three years’ time
ASEAN leaders take center stage for photo opportunity during the ASEAN-China Summit on November 14, 2018.
SINGAPORE – For the first time after more than two decades, China has finally spoken of a clear time frame on negotiating for a final code of conduct in the hotly-disputed territories in the South China Sea.
During his opening remarks at the ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday (November 14), Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China acknowledges the differences among countries in the region but noted that the atmosphere has already improved through the years even amid the decade-long dispute as neighboring countries “have found the way to properly managed and diffuse differences.”
In fact, Prime Minister Li said, China has now agreed for a time frame to negotiate specifically on the establishment of a code of conduct in South China Sea.
“In the past years, overall peace in the South China Sea have been maintained. Now the situation is moving towards greater stability for this year. Thanks to the concerted efforts from all the parties, we have reached the single draft negotiating text and we have agreed to finish the first reading of the text in 2019,” he said.
“On that basis, China is ready to work with all the ASEAN countries toward concluding COC consultations in three-years time. It is our hope that we can set of a time frame so that in three- years time the COC will become a set of rules contributing to peace and stability in the South China Sea that will also be conducive to free trade and the further upgrading of our free trade area,” the Prime Minister added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, being the ASEAN-China dialogue relations coordinator, delivered the ASEAN’s commitment with China in working towards “the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).”
He added that ASEAN and China are now “in progress in the initial phase of the COC” while looking forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019.
“As co-chair of the COC negotiations, the Philippines will continue to work closely together with the ASEAN Member States and China for the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC,” Duterte said while both parties agree to maintain peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.
In 1995, China took control of Mischief Reef in Spratlys Island that is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (ECC).
The Philippines, in response, lodged a protest through the regional bloc.
The dispute with China reached the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which ruled in 2016 that China has no legal basis for claiming the territories in the South China Sea. – Marje Pelayo