Trump invites Duterte, other ASEAN leaders for March Summit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2020   •   448

ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Manila epa06325844 US President Donald J. Trump (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017. The Philippines is hosting the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings from 10 to 14 November. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO / POOL

United States (US) President Donald Trump has invited President Rodrigo Duterte and nine other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) for the US-ASEAN Summit in March.

Trump previously invited the ASEAN leaders on November 1, 2019 and reiterated his invitation on January 9, 2020.

“This will provide an excellent opportunity for us to broaden and deepen our cooperation on matters of great importance to the nearly one billion people in the United States and ASEAN nations that we have the privilege to represent,” Trump said in his invitation.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is still no official response on whether President Duterte will accept the invitation of the US president.—AAC

Duterte relieves BI employees tagged in ‘pastillas scheme’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 20, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has relieved the officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who are linked to the ‘pastillas scheme’.

The so-called ‘pastillas’ bribery scheme provides ‘VIP treatment’ to Chinese nationals who will pay P10,000 to Immigration officials.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, charges are also expected to be filed against the involved personnel.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has relieved all officials and employees of the Bureau of Immigration who are involved in the latest bribery scheme where they purportedly facilitate the entry into—and exit from—Philippine territory of foreigners working for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) for an unauthorized fee,” he said.

The Palace official did not mention the identities of the involved Immigration employees or how many were relieved from service.

“May nag-report, may nag-reklamo (Someone filed a report, complaint), and apparently the proof constitutes probable cause. That’s why they were sacked,” Panelo added.

Meanwhile, Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts BI Chief Jaime Morente. However, there will be a follow-up Cabinet meeting to discuss the present situation in the Immigration Bureau.

“The present situation in the Bureau of Immigration, as well as how it is being run by Commissioner Jaime Morente, will be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte issues EO imposing medicine price cap

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 18, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order that will impose price cap on medicines.

Based on Executive Order (EO) 104 or Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP) price regulations will be imposed through a maximum retail price (MRP) and maximum wholesale price (MWP) system.

“Access to affordable and quality drugs and medicines is now a reality under the Duterte administration. This is part of the real and lasting reform, which President Duterte has instituted in order that all Filipinos can live decent and comfortable lives,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The EO is expected to lower the cost of medicines as much as 56 percent by May. In the first phase of MDRP, 87 medicines for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung diseases, major cancers, and other diseases have been included.

The Department of Health (DOH) has proposed 122 medicines and is reviewing to include more.

“DOH, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and stakeholders, was also tasked to review the price reduction of the remaining 35 drugs to finalize the list covered by the EO,” according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The DOH is set to release the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said EO.

Duque also warned pharmaceutical companies or drug stores not abiding by the EO may face up to 15 years of imprisonment.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Trump takes a limousine lap before Daytona 500 auto race

UNTV News   •   February 17, 2020

President Donald Trump took a loop around the Daytona 500 racetrack on Sunday (February 16) in the presidential limousine known as “The Beast,” drawing cheers from fans at NASCAR’S most prestigious race.

Ramping up his nationwide re-election effort after his acquittal in the U.S. Senate impeachment trial, Trump served as the grand marshal at the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing event, which takes place in the electoral swing state of Florida.

After his motorcade made its way around part of the track, Trump took a break to take pictures with supporters.

After being driven a full lap in the limo before the race began, Trump delivered the opening line: “Gentlemen, start your engines” at the Daytona International Speedway before a crowd of 100,000.

Previous presidents who attended NASCAR events at the speedway include Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Florida is one of a handful of U.S. states that swing between Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections.

Trump won the state, where he has golf courses and a home that is now considered his primary residence, in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. (Reuters)

(Production: Pavithra George)

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