Speakership bets Cayetano, Romualdez, Velasco meet with PDP-Laban

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1678

(L-R) Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco , Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, and Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez | Courtesy: Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Three lawmakers gunning for the speakership of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress met on Thursday night with some members of the ruling party, PDP-Laban.

Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco and Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez met with PDP-Laban in Taguig to discuss the forthcoming opening of the 18th Congress and the measures that need to be prioritized.

Cayetano also talked about his programs that will help the Duterte administration’s legislative agenda, as well as his plan to push for full debates on significant issues that will affect the welfare of the Filipino people.

They also discussed the term-sharing set-up between Cayetano and Velasco as House speakers endorsed by the party’s chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: Duterte: Cayetano, Velasco to share term as House Speaker

PDP-Laban president, Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel earlier said Cayetano still needs to work on getting the speakership post despite Duterte’s endorsement.

READ: Cayetano has to work for House speakership – Koko Pimentel

He added that Cayetano still has to convince House members to vote for him, including the 85 solons belonging to the ruling party.

Prior to the president’s endorsement of the speakership term-sharing scheme, the PDP-Laban fielded Velasco as its bet for the post.  

Cayetano is a member of the Nacionalista party while Velasco is a PDP-Laban member while Romualdez is with Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.

Romualdez earlier said he dropped from the speakership race and accepted the House Majority Leader job as suggested by the president. (with details from Grace Casin)

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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