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Youth commissioner Ice Seguerra resigns

by UNTV   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Aiza Seguerra

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has confirmed the resignation of National Youth Commission (NYC) chairperson Cariza “Aiza” Seguerra.

However, Malacañang has yet to confirm if President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted Seguerra’s resignation.

She was appointed in August 2016 with a three-year term.

There was no reason cited for the resignation of Seguerra who is among the known supporters of Duterte during the May 2016 elections.

In her Facebook post, Seguerra said she personally informed President Duterte the reason for her resignation from the National Youth Commission.

When asked if the Chief Executive accepted the resignation of the youth commission chair, Roque said: “I have no information yet regarding that. What I do know is that, the Office of the Executive Secretary has received the resignation of chairperson Aiza Seguerra.” — UNTV News & Rescue

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Malacañang claims documentary evidence on questionable MRT 3 deal

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018

FILE: A train of MRT under maintenance

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has documentary evidence on who benefited from the MRT 3 maintenance deal during the last administration.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Harry Roque said two whistleblowers approached him claiming that the budget for the maintenance contract was divided into several parts.

One third of the fund allegedly went to a certain Pangilinan group, another part for political machinery while the remaining one third was used for MRT maintenance.

Roque said he will submit the evidence to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Aside from this, the secretary also promised to expose the information he has received on the alleged anomalous maintenance contract of the past administration with Busan Universal Rail (BURI) in the coming weeks.

“I have some documentary evidence already. Perhaps beginning next week I will devote one day a week in disclosing facts and details about the plunder of MRT 3,” he said.

Meanwhile, Roque denied that one of the whistleblowers who approached him was former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol.

The official is also hoping that the Office of the Ombudsman is already doing its parallel investigation since plunder and graft complaints had been formally filed against several past administration officials last year. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue

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Former BOC Chief Nicanor Faeldon transferred to Pasay City Jail

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – After almost 5 months of detention inside the Senate, former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon is now at the Pasay City Jail.

This, after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee led by Senator Richard Gordon signed a commitment order against the former BOC Chief.

“Senate President has signed na siya’y dadalhin sa Pasay (that he will be brought to Pasay). Wala namang isyu ang (there is no issue on) sanitation or anything like that,” Gordon said.

The Office of the Senate Secretary assigned two personnel to guard Faeldon.

“Meron kaming (We have) assigned OSSA, 24/7,” Senate Secretary Atty. Lutgardo Barbo said.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said Faeldon will, in the meantime, be placed in a separate cell.

The BJMP spokesperson, however, stressed that despite this set-up, Faeldon will be treated as a regular detainee.

“Wala pong special treatment na pwedeng ibigay ang BJMP sa kanila. Kailangan niya pong mag-join ng mga regular activities,” BJMP Spokesperson S/Insp. Xavier Solda said.

(No special treatment will be given to him by BJMP. He is required to join regular activities.)

Faeldon’s camp sees this Senate decision as a welcome development.

“Very-very happy siya kasi po sa Senado, solitary siya.  Ang dalaw lang ay 8 a.m. hanggang 8 p.m. lang,” Faeldon’s Legal Counsel Atty. Jose Diño said.

(He is very happy because in the Senate he is in solitary. Visitors are only from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

They have also reiterated their appeal to the Supreme Court for his provisional release.

“Yung (the) provisional release pending litigation, humihingi kami ng (we are asking a ) TRO,” Diño said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang maintains that it will not intervene with the issue.

The administration believes Faeldon is capable to perform his duties as Deputy Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense despite being in detention.

“Our position is he can perform his tasks wherever he maybe even in jail. We have never intervened in the legislative process,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has earlier placed Faeldon in detention after he refused to attend the committee’s probe on the corruption in the Bureau of Customs. – Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

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Giving permission to other countries for marine research needs transparency — maritime law expert

by UNTV   |   Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s approval of China’s request to conduct marine research in the Philippine Rise or Benham Rise has become controversial.

Benham Rise is rich in corals, marine life and gas reserves and was declared part of the Philippine extended continental shelf by the United Nations in 2012.

The issue became more controversial when Malacañang explained why China was chosen to do the research.

“Because only China has qualified so far. There are other applicants, unfortunately, they did not qualify according to fixed guidelines already set by the government,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

When asked why not allow the Filipinos to explore it themselves, Roque said, “Because no one has applied and no one can do it because, apparently, it’s capital intensive. You do not need a permit for any Filipino corporation to conduct scientific investigation in Benham Rise because it is ours. So that’s not something that a consent has to be given by the government,” said the official.

The statement of the presidential spokesperson garnered criticisms.

UP Maritime law expert Prof. Jay Batongbacal said Filipinos have been doing marine research in Benham Rise for years already so it is wrong to say that it is only China which is qualified to conduct scientific expeditions.

The Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) also reacted saying that this is not an issue of affordability but an issue of lack of support and priority of the government to Filipino scientists to conduct research in our own waters.

With this sour development, Malacañang backtracked its statement and Roque denied having said that Filipinos have no capacity to conduct their own research because of the capital intensive.

The official also reiterated that Filipinos do not have to ask for a permit from the state to do a scientific investigation in Benham Rise because the Philippines have sovereign rights over it.

“I’m sorry for the miscommunication, but again I would like to highlight that, of course, Filipinos are conducting research and Filipinos don’t need to get the consent of the Philippine state because the right to conduct scientific research is ours. That’s what I meant,” said Roque.

The maritime law expert said that the government should be transparent when giving permits to other countries especially to China to conduct marine research.

“Kailangang ayusin ng gobyerno itong proseso. Dapat kasi transparent. Dapat madali makita kung anong gustong gawin ng kabila, makuha agad ang information para hindi suspicions agad ang lumalabas,”said Batongbacal.

(The government should fix this process. It has to be transparent. The intentions of the other party should be clear and information easily available. That way suspicions can be avoided.)

Aside from China, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also allowed other countries, such as the USA, Japan, and South Korea, to do marine research in Benham Rise. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue

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