Posts by Rudy:

    Andanar awarded outstanding public servant

    November 19th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Presidential Communications Office head Secretary Martin Andanar. Image © http://www.gmanetwork.com

    PRESIDENTIAL Communications Secretary Martin Andanar was awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Public Servant’ during the 2nd Diamond Golden Awards last Saturday at Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City.

    Aside from Sec. Andanar, other public servants including Senator Cynthia Villar, Quezon City second district congressman Alfred Vargas and Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Marjorie Jalosjos and other individuals from the media and entertainment industry have also been given awards.

    Baby Go, a businesswoman and an indie film producer, formed the Diamond Golden Awards to recognize individuals who support the PC Good Heart Foundation. The foundation provides medical assistance and scholarships to less fortunate Filipinos.

    PCOO Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III received the award on behalf of Andanar who is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s delegation attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Papua New Guinea.

    Last month, Andanar received recognition from the National Press Club (NPC) for his ‘unstinting’ support to press freedom and welfare of the Philippine media community. The NPC commended Andanar for the central role he played in the issuance of landmark Executive Order No. 02 and Administrative Order No. 01. President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO 02 on July 23, 2016, otherwise known as Freedom of Information (FOI), mandating full public disclosure of all offices under the executive branch.

    On the other hand, Duterte dedicated his first administrative order for the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) mandated to protect the life, liberty and security of media workers and their families. AO No. 1 was signed on Oct. 11, 2016.

    Under Andanar’s leadership, the PCOO’s attached media agencies particularly People’s Television Network (PTV), Radyo ng Bayan, Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM) and Philippine News Agency (PNA) have improved significantly in just less than two years.

     

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    Duterte to visit Israel in September

    August 15th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PH President Rodrigo Duterte. Image by philippineslifestyle.com

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Israel next month, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

    Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. confirmed during a Palace press briefing that the President is set to make an official visit to the State of Israel on September 2-5, 2018.

    According to Roque, this will be the first official visit by a Philippine President to Israel since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1957.

    Harry Roque. Image © Presidential Communications Operations Office

    “The historic event would highlight the enduring friendship between Filipinos and Israelis, which began when Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines as a sanctuary to an estimated 1,300 Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust,” he cited.

    The Palace official said the two leaders are expected to discuss common concerns and ways of expanding cooperation in the areas of labor, tourism, trade, agriculture, counter terrorism, security, and law enforcement.

    Roque said President Duterte will also meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to discuss development cooperation and the close historical and people-to-people ties between the two nations.

    The President will be joined by a business delegation representing different sectors of Philippine economy, who will participate in a business forum at the sidelines of the official visit, wherein several agreements are set to be signed.

    “Finally, the President will meet members of the Filipino community while there,” Roque added.

    The Palace spokesperson also confirmed the President’s scheduled visit to Jordan following his Israel trip. Roque said these are all in line with the administration’s goal of further promoting its ties with peoples of the Middle East.

    ‘Palace welcomes Andaya statement on 2019 budget’

    House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya. Image © k2.abs-cbnnews.com

    During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed the recent declaration of House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya stating the House will not move towards a reenacted budget amid the suspension of budget deliberations.

    “I’m very happy with the declaration of the Majority Floor Leader… We welcome that as well… We join and commend Majority Floor Leader for this statement,” Secretary Roque said.

    Roque then reiterated the Palace’s position that it also does not want a reenacted budget for 2019.

    “We don’t want also a reenacted budget. We want the constituents of the Republic to benefit from the projects identified for the year 2019 by their duly elected representatives in Congress,” he stressed, noting that the Palace stands by the President’s cash-based budget for 2019.

    On the other hand, the Cabinet official expressed hope that the “usual smooth working relationship” between the executive and legislative branches at the beginning of the 17th Congress would remain.

    “We consider the House as an important ally in our discharge of official functions… This is the single most important job of the House of Representatives… When the Constitution talks about the budget originating from the House, this means this is the sacred duty of the House and we defer to them,” he said.

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    Duterte signed into law the National ID Act

    August 7th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    President Duterte signs new national identity card act. Image © philippineslifestyle.com

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Philippine Identification System Act, which aims to make public service delivery more efficient.

    “Today, I also signed the Philippine Identification System Act, a measure that will establish a single national identification system that will promote good governance, enhance governmental transactions, and create a more conducive environment for trade and commerce to thrive,” President Duterte said during a ceremony in Malacañang Palace.

    The signing coincided with the presentation of the President of the newly signed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to the leadership of the various Moro front groups and key Mindanao stakeholders.

    The Chief Executive asked for public support for the new measure, saying the ID system will promote the efficient delivery of services through a single ID that will be issued to all citizens and resident aliens.

    The ID, called the “Phil-ID,” will dispense with the need to present multiple IDs for different government transactions.

    “This will not only enhance administrative governance, reduce corruption, curtail bureaucratic red tape, and promote the ease of doing business, but also avert fraudulent transactions, strengthen financial inclusion, and create a more secure environment for our people,” he added.

    Duterte allayed public fears regarding privacy and security, noting that the information included in the Phil-ID will be similar to the information already in the possession of the Philippine Statistics Authority, Government Service Insurance System, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG Fund, and the Commission on Elections. He added that the Philippine Statistics Authority will work closely with the National Privacy Commission, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the multi-agency PhilSystem Policy and Coordination Council to address all concerns pertaining to privacy and security.

    “There is therefore no basis at all for the apprehensions about the Phil-ID, unless of course that fear is based on anything that borders to illegal. If at all, the Phil-ID will even aid in our drive against the social menaces of poverty, corruption, and criminal issues, as well as terrorism and violent extremism,” he stressed.

    Also on Monday, Duterte lead a ceremony to mark the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic bill into law which gave meaningful autonomy to the Moro people in Mindanao.

    Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza said the ceremony, which comes a little over a week after the President signed the law, symbolizes the major milestone in the Bangsamoro peace process.

    “True to his campaign promise, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law, fulfilling his desire to bring peace in Mindanao,” he said.

    “The Bangsamoro Organic Law is an extraordinary law. It is the product of years of peace negotiations with the Moro revolutionary groups and the stakeholders in Mindanao,” he added.

    Formerly known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the BOL is premised on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a signed peace deal. The BOL is part of the Duterte administration’s agenda to achieve national reconciliation with the Moro rebel groups.

    Congress has extensively deliberated on the BOL and made sure that the law is within the bounds of the Constitution, and national sovereignty and territorial integrity, at the same time ensuring that the interests of all sectors are respected.

    Dureza said the challenge is now for the country to “work hard to achieve the Bangsamoro Organic Law’s vision to bring peace and development and rectify past injustices to be able to work together in the days ahead.”

    This developed as the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to officially declare its acceptance of the BOL.
    MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said since the representatives of all MILF groups had expressed their acceptance of the law during the Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly on July 29 in Camp Darapanan, the Central Committee “held a special meeting on August 1, 2018 and agreed to officially declare its acceptance of the BOL as ratified by both Houses of Congress and signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

    Nabil Tan, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser and Chair of the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF peace accord, said the BOL “should be seen not as a privilege for a few but as the government’s recognition of the Moros’ right to chart their political future through a democratic process as enshrined and guaranteed in the Constitution.”

    “The legal framework is now ready, and it is now upon us, the stakeholders – Moros and non-Moros – to put our acts together to make it work,” he said. Ghadzali Jaafar, chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), described Monday’s event as the beginning of “a better tomorrow” in the Bangsamoro homeland.

    “The signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law by our very own President Rodrigo Roa Duterte paves the way for the coming and establishment of a just and dignified peace in the Moro land. It is a dawn of hope for a better tomorrow. Indeed, it is a beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Moro people in their quest for a better life and progressive community where people are living together harmoniously free from oppression,” he said.

    For the MILF Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal, Monday’s event is the culmination of the more than 17 years of peace negotiations between the government and the MILF.

    “As Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Implementing Panel and member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, I consider it a great honor to witness this event, proof of all those years of hard work in name of just and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro and the rest of Mindanao,” he added.

    Iqbal also reiterated the fact that the signing of the BOL is “just the beginning. The real challenge lies ahead, or the implementation of the important commitments stipulated in the signed peace agreements, from the establishment of the transition government to the Normalization process.”

     

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    Palace: PH-China renewed ties bear fruits

    August 4th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Malacanang palace. Photo © politics.com.ph

    MALAYBALAY City, Bukidnon – Malacañang on Friday, stressed that the country’s renewed friendship with China has brought forth collaborative undertakings that are beneficial to the Filipino people.

    We’re very happy that we have this newfound cooperation that has resulted in collaborative undertakings from bridges to rehab facilities,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing here on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center (NMWRC).

    The NMWRC, which is said to be the largest drug treatment and rehabilitation facility in Mindanao, was financed and donated by Chinese-owned Friends of the Philippines Foundation (FPF), in cooperation with the Philippine government.

    Roque said the center is expected to provide rehabilitation and skills training facilities for Filipino drug addicts, with the end goal of making them productive members of society in the future.

    Moreover, the Palace Spokesperson stressed that the initiative was made possible through the improved relationship between the Philippines and China, which he said has “entered the best level in history and will continue to be even better.”

    Harry Roque. Image © Presidential Communications Operations Office

    I think the Philippine-Chinese relationship is at its renaissance. It is at its best. This wellness center is in fact evidence that this cooperation can in fact bear fruits,” Roque said.

    Driven by the support of the Chinese government to the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign, the Chinese-funded Friends of the Philippines Foundation has made a major contribution to the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign,” he added.

    Roque further expressed hope that the two governments would continue to work together in future projects.

    Just last week, two China-funded bridges had their groundbreaking ceremony in Manila, the Palace official mentioned.

    Furthermore, Roque clarified that China’s openness to a 60-40 joint exploration with the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea is allowed under the country’s Constitution.

    We are following the specific provision in the Constitution that foreigners can participate on a 60-40 basis, meaning 60-percent Filipino and 40-percent foreign-owned,” he said.

    He also reacted to reports that China wants to conduct joint military exercises with Southeast Asian nations in disputed waters, stressing that defense authorities would study the matter seriously.

    We find nothing objectionable to the fact that China would want to exclude non-Asians from the military exercise. I think the contemplation of Chinese authorities is to have military cooperation amongst neighbors,” Roque noted.

    Of course, the United States is 10,000 miles away. So if the intention is to build stronger relations between military forces who are neighbors, then the United States would really be out of place,” he added.

    Palace welcomes Moody’s positive outlook on PH economic growth’

    During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed the positive outlook of Moody’s Investors Service, stating that the Philippines is expected to sustain its robust economic growth over the next few years.

    Roque said the credit rating firm attributed the growth to the government’s focus on infrastructure development.

    Citing data from the Budget Department, he said government’s infrastructure spending from January to June 2018 reached an amount of PhP352.7 billion, a 41.6-percent increase from last year’s PhP249.1 billion during the same period.

    This only goes to show that our Build, Build, Build program continues to provide favorable results for the country,” Roque said.

     

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    Duterte committed to improve medical support for the PNP

    August 3rd, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Image by https://news.mb.com.ph

    SPECIAL Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte is committed to improving the health services being provided for the Philippine National Police.

    This was learned after Go attended the PNP-Health Service Anniversary in Camp Crame. He said the President gave the PNP his assurance that they will receive reasonable medical services and assistance, adding that there will be improvements and modernization of the PNP General Hospital soon.

    Sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte na kung ano ang naibigay sa AFP, iyong pag-improve ng Veterans Hospital, iyon din ang ibibigay sa PNP Health Services,” Go said.

    Go noted that the priority of the administration has always been the police and the military, because President Duterte gives weight to peace and order in the country. He said this has been apparent when the President fulfilled his promise to increase the base pay of the police.

    At the same time, Go revealed that he will check the current status of the development of the Medical Facility in Camp Panopio and that he and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde already had a preliminary talk about the medical needs of the PNP.

    Tutungo po kami sa hospital. Initially, napagusapan na po namin ni General Albayalde including his wife yung mga pagkukulang po; at sabi po ng ating pangulo kung ano yung nabibigay ko sa mga armed forces, sa mga militar, ibibigay ko rin po sa kapulisan yung mga pagkukulang ko.”

    Go said Duterte is tentatively set to visit the PNP General hospital on August 8.

     

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    President Duterte joins founding anniversary celebration of the National Security Council and the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency

    August 2nd, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File photo) President Rodrigo Duterte while reviewing the honor guards

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday enjoined the National Security Council and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to help his administration in ensuring a more progressive country for the next generation.

    This as he graced the joint 68th NSC and 69th NICA founding anniversary that was held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

    “We will see to it that the nation that we hand over to the next generation of Filipinos is one that is more stable, harmonious, and progressive,” Duterte said, adding “together, let us continue to make great strides as we collectively bring our country towards a safer and brighter tomorrow.”

    Duterte was accompanied by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.

    Also present at the event were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr., National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Monteagudo, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Dante Jimenez, and former President Fidel Ramos.

    Military, police to use seized luxury vehicles

    Meanwhile, Duterte announced that he will donate to the military and to the police some of the vehicles that were seized in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

    “Now meron doon na hindi ko ipinasira. Iyong vans pati ‘yung Hummer,” he said in his speech.

    Last Monday, Duterte led the public condemnation of 68 luxury sedans and eight high-end motorcycles at Port Irene in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/08/01/president-duterte-leads-the-destruction-of-smuggled-luxury-cars-and-big-bikes-in-cagayan/)

    “Nung sinabi ni Atty. Lambino, ‘May Hummer tayo diyan.’ How many? I’m sure I heard more than 10. I could not exactly remember what was the figure. But I said do not destroy it because I’ll give it to the military and the police for their use,” he said.

    On the other hand, the local governments in Cagayan will receive the seized vans, according to the President.

    “Tapos ‘yung mga vans, because they are within the vicinity of the local governments, Cagayan ‘yan eh. Eh ‘di paghati-hatian na lang nila doon kung aabot,” he said.

    “But sabi ko doon kay Lambino, ‘You write me a letter.’ And he said, ‘That’s already in your office.’ So ibigay ko ‘yan, Hummer,” the President further said.

     

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    President Duterte leads the destruction of smuggled luxury cars and big bikes in Cagayan

    August 1st, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    A bulldozer runs over 14 smuggled luxury vehicles while President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and members of his cabinet witness the Condemnation and Public Destruction of Contraband Vehicles at Port Irene in Sta. Ana, Cagayan province on March 14, 2018. REY BANIQUET/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

    STA. ANA, Cagayan — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday led the public destruction of 68 luxury vehicles and eight “high-end” motorcycles at Port Irene here while renewing his commitment to fight smuggling.

    In his speech during the public condemnation of the vehicle smuggling, President Duterte admitted that he could not completely eradicate corruption and smuggling in government but he would want to create an environment where businesses could thrive.

    “Kaya ito sinira ko ‘to because you have to show to the world that you have a viable place of investment and business. And the only way to show it is that you are productive and that you have the economy to absorb the productivity of the population,” Duterte said.

    He stressed the importance of peace and order in order for a community to become progressive.

    “You know, before a place can really be developed or a viable place to do business, you have to establish first law and order,” he said noting the active presence of New People’s Army in Cagayan.

    You allow government to work in this area, establish economic centers, make it productive, make it safe, make the buildings, the structures fire-free. No attack, no killing,” he added.

    Communist insurgency is bad for the country because it stunts economic growth, according to the President. He reiterated his call to communist insurgents to return to the fold of the law, promising them livelihood, shelter, and jobs.

    “I don’t know what will happen to the talks. But if you guys want just maybe a place where you can work and earn money for your family for their education, you might do well just to talk to anybody even to the military and the police about how we can sort it out among ourselves. War would bring us nothing,” he said.

    He said communist rebels will not get out of poverty if they continue to fight the government based on a “bankrupt” ideology.

    The 68 luxury sedans worth PhP277,961,760 and eight big bikes valued at PhP19,567,350 are the second batch of expensive vehicles to be destroyed at Port Irene following public destruction of 14 luxury cars last February. (Read Morehttp://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/02/06/demolition-duterte-philippines-leader-bulldozes-luxury-cars-to-send-message/)

    The expensive cars and motorbikes were part of 800 contraband vehicles imported in Cagayan through the port.

    The event is part of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority’s compliance to the directive of the President to publicly destroy illegally shipped contrabands in the country’s economic zones aimed at deterring smuggling.

     

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    President Duterte and Special Assistant Go provided assistance to fire victims in Zamboanga Sibugay, Jolo and Cebu

    July 31st, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Fire victims of Cebu City received relief goods and assistance from Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go. Photo © Rodolfo Andal

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and his Special Assistant Christopher “Bong” Go on Friday met with families who were left homeless by a recent fire that razed a community from a small barangay in Zamboanga Sibugay province and pledged to distribute free money sourced from government funds.

    This developed shortly after Duterte and Go attended the 69th Araw ng Ipil at the Ipil Municipal Plaza in Zamboanga Sibugay.

    Duterte and Go went to Barangay Labuan where they met with some 400 homeless families.

    The President pledged to provide housing for the affected families. He also promised that the government will give cash assistance amounting to PhP6,500 to the each family of fire victims.

    Of the Php6,500 cash assistance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will provide PhP5,0000 while remaining PhP1,500 will be equally shared by the Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes (PCSO).

    Moreover, Duterte asked Go to release from the President’s fund an additional PhP7,000 per family thus bringing to PhP13,500 the cash assistance to be distributed.

    Aside from from the government assistance, the victims of the Zamboanga fire were also received help from a group called Friends of Bong Go (FOBG).

    Led by Mariam Celia Hahalul-Hataman, the group donated forty pairs of brand new shoes, school supplies, and provided aid and comfort to the victims of the fire.

    According to Ms. Hataman, the funds used for the purchase of the donated items where sourced from private individuals who shared their common cause. She also appealed to her friends, relatives and community leaders to distribute shoes to the affected families, to show their support for President Duterte and SAP Go.

    Meanwhile, in Jolo, Sulu another fire that razed several houses in two densely populated barangays. The houses, which were on Barangays Walled City and Busbus, were built of light materials. The massive fire resulted in a displacement of 3,183 families or 13,296 individuals.

    Inspired by the “Sapatos ni SAP, Tsinelas Ka-Swap” advocacy, supporters and friends of SAP Go decided conduct relief operations in Lamnayong Elementary School. The school serves as one of the five evacuation centers for the affected families of the fire that erupted last July 24.

    Just like in Zamboanga, the government, administration supporters, and civic volunteers from the province of Sulu and nearby municipality of Tawi-Tawi came to help the victims.

    Meanwhile, fire victims from Cebu get swift relief from private individuals following an appeal from Go, who is rumored to be preparing to join the coming senatorial race.

    “Masyado pa pong maaga para pagusapan ang politika. Mas maiigi sana kung ang gawin na lang natin ay tumulong tayo sa ating mga kababayan na nangangailangan,” says Go.

    The privately led relief operations benefited a total of 221 families from Sitio Kauswagan in Barangay Basak-Pardo and Sitio Sto. Niño in Barangay Kinasang-an Pardo.

     

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    NASA scientists visit PH

    July 25th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    A TEAM of scientists from the U.S.’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration visited the Philippines for 12 days to participate in National Science and Technology Week.

    The NASA scientists interacted with local scientists, engineering students, and high school teachers, and they highlighted NASA’s collaboration with the Philippine government on climate research and weather monitoring during their sojourn.

    For instance, during the NSTW opening ceremony last July 17, the NASA and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines handed over 336 specialized lenses for mosquito identification to the Philippine Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Science High Schools Program. The lenses were provided through the U.S. government-funded Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, a U.S.-led initiative to promote citizen science to fight mosquito-borne diseases in 22 countries, including the Philippines.

    Also, as part of the NSTW activities, NASA Deputy Chief Technologist Florence Tan participated in a panel discussion about the use of space technology with Philippine academics, scientists, and government officials. She fielded and answered questions on space debris, prospects for human visitation to Mars, and NASA’s programming in the Philippines.

    The NSTW was organized by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology. The week-long event brings foreign and local scientists, and students together for five days of activities, presentations, and interactive exhibits on cutting edge scientific research and technology benefiting the Philippines.

    NASA scientist Dr. Hal Maring said, “It was a joy to interact with so many Filipino students and experts excited about science, space technology, and technology in general.”

    The Manila Observatory @ the Ateneo de Manila University campus. Photo by energyblog.nationalgeographic.com

    During their July 14 to 26 visit, NASA scientists are also worked with scientists based at the Manila Observatory, the country’s oldest meteorological observatory, to prepare for next year’s CAMP2Ex Project, which will begin in mid-2019.

    CAMP2Ex  is a US$20 million partnership that builds on ten years of U.S.-Philippine collaboration to better understand cloud formation in the western part of the Philippines, one of the world’s most unpredictable geographic regions for weather and climate models.

    As part of the project, NASA and Filipino scientists will undertake a comprehensive effort to map and model the meteorological system of the Philippines, generating high quality data that will inform disaster risk reduction and preparedness.

    The project will also connect Philippine scientists and students with more than 40 other scientific experts from NASA and top U.S. research universities. Philippine project partners include PAGASA, the Manila Observatory of Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of the Philippines.

    Furthermore, while in the Philippines, Dr. Maring, who is NASA’s lead scientist for CAMP2Ex, visited Subic Bay to mentor more than 200 Philippine STEM teachers on techniques for teaching climate science and meteorology.

    Dr. Maring explained, “I was impressed by the STEM teachers’ intense interest in inspiring their students. We had a productive time discussing how to teach climate and environmental science to Filipino youth. I have high hopes for the next generation of science leaders.”

     

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    President Rodrigo Duterte won’t budge on TRAIN Law implementation

    July 24th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File Photo)PH President Rodrigo Duterte Photo © Erik De Castro / Reuters

    THE administration will continue implementing the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law despite calls to suspend it as the law has already benefited the country, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

    I applaud Congress for the timely passage of the TRAIN law. You have made funds available to build better roads and bridges, and improve health and education, and strengthen our safety and security,” President Duterte said.

    Some have incorrectly blamed our efforts toward a fairer tax system for all the price increases in the past months, and some irresponsibly suggesting to stop TRAIN’s implementation. We cannot and should not. We need this for sustainable growth that leaves no Filipino behind,” he added.

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/01/16/unionists-press-for-trains-revocation-and-higher-living-wages/)

    He pointed out that TRAIN is already helping poor families and senior citizens cope with rising prices, adding that the government has distributed unconditional cash transfers to four million people, and will help six million more this year.

    Following the one-peso discount per liter in gas stations, the government has also started releasing fuel vouchers to public utility jeeps and other valid franchises, he added.

    Furthermore, the government has fast-tracked the distribution of NFA rice to provide affordable rice for all” he said.

    This year, the government is providing PhP149 billion worth of subsidies to the poor and vulnerable. Next year, the amount will be increased to PhP169 billion, he noted.

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/07/22/dutertes-sona-speech-must-disclose-the-ph-two-state-of-the-nations-labor-group/)

    At the same time, the Chief Executive asked businesses to cooperate with the administration in charging a fair price for the public.

    To help stabilize rice prices, he warned hoarders and cartels to stop their illegal activities.

    I now ask all the rice hoarders, cartels and their protectors, you know that I know who you are: stop messing with the people. I hate to… Power sometimes is not a good thing. But I hope I will not have to use it against you,” he said.

    The President also issued a stern warning to the mining industry, asking it to spare the environment and not to compromise the country’s resources. He said the mining companies must repair what they have mismanaged.

    Try to change [your] management radically because, this time, you will have restrictive policies. The prohibition of open pit mining is one. It is destroying my country. It is destroying the environment. It will destroy the world of tomorrow for our children,” he said.

     

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    Duterte, Mahatir reaffirm PH-Malaysia ties

    July 18th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    PH President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad. Picture © cnnphilippines.com

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over the weekend reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia following the meeting of the two leaders in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Aside from reaffirming the solidarity of the two Southeast Asian nations, Duterte expressed gratitude to Mahatir for inviting him to visit Malaysia’s capital city where they met for the first time and discussed “matters of mutual interest.”

    “President Duterte and Prime Minister Mohamad renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia,” a Malacañang statement said as it disclosed that “President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level.”

    Duterte, at the same time, also raised the urgency to address issues that threaten the region such as terrorism and violent extremism, transnational crime, illegal drug trade, and piracy in the high seas as he expressed his appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao.

    “Both leaders stressed the importance of working closely together bilaterally and at the ASEAN to achieve shared aspirations of greater peace, progress, and prosperity for the Philippines and Malaysia, and greater stability and security in the region,” Malacañang added.

    Following their meeting, the Chief Executive gave a painting of the face of the Prime Minister as a token, painted by self-taught painter Maestro Ronilo Abayan.

    The President was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., and Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go.

    The meeting was the first for the two leaders since Mahathir’s election as the new Malaysian Prime Minister last May.

    Duterte arrived in Malaysia Saturday night to show support for Senator Manny Pacquiao, who clinched the World Boxing Association welterweight belt from Argentinian boxer Lucas Matthysse via knockout in the seventh round.

    Prime Minister Mahathir also watched the boxing match and gamely posed for a photo with the Filipino boxing champ and President Duterte doing the signature clenched fist gesture after the bout.

     

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    Former PCA Administrator urges CIIF to operate a Quezon oil mill

    July 12th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Former PCA administrator Billy Andal. Photo © https://www.facebook.com

    LUCENA City –Philippine Coconut Authority former administrator Billy L. Andal urged the the Coconut Industry Investment Fund-Coco Oil Mills Group to take steps necessary in order to revive and put into productive operation one of it’s plant located in Mulanay town in the Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon province.

    Andal is referring to the Southern Luzon Coco Oil Mill (SOLCOM) which has been mothballed for over 2 decades now for unknown reasons. The former Administrator believes that the rehab and operation soonest of the plant will help a lot relieve the poor situation of the coco farmers reeling under a very low price of their produce in the market.

    Currently, the middle traders buy their copra between 20-12 pesos a kilo while, at the mill, prices ranges from PhP25- 32. Obviously, the traders are making the kill but attributes the low price on the cost of transporting the goods to the operating coco mills in Lucena and Candelaria in Quezon which is some 3-4 hours travel at the minimum.

    According to Andal, the plant needs only about PhP30M to get it running, an amount he believes the CIIF can fairly shell out from it’s income or funds available for disposal.

    The former Administrator also confided that several group has approached him indicating their interest in getting the plant up and operational.

    Meanwhile, PCA has said that the low price of copra is based on the current world market prices and they cannot do anything to alleviate the farmers situation.

     

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    President Duterte wants improved transport facilities in Eastern Visayas

    July 9th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File photo) President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Photo © REUTERS/ Lean Daval Jr

    MAASIN City, Leyte — President Rodrigo Duterte last week expressed hope that the local executives of Eastern Visayas will work with him in uplifting the lives of the local folks.

    Moreover, Duterte, while attending the 58th founding anniversary of Southern Leyte last week, expressed trust that local officials will be unwavering in their desire to make the country truly progressive.

    “I trust that you will remain unwavering in our mission of transforming the Philippines into a truly progressive and prosperous nation,” the President said in his speech during the event,” he said, adding “Together, let us sustain the gains of our reform so that we may fully realize our aspiration of providing a more dignified and comfortable life for all our kababayans. May you renew your commitment to our promise of real and lasting change as you celebrate today the success of Southern Leyte.”

    Duterte pointed out that the province’s major problem is connectivity because of lack of airports and seaports as he urged the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to improve infrastructure in Eastern Visayas.

    Citing the Davao-Manila shipping service when he was still mayor of Davao City, he expressed happiness that people travel from Mindanao to Manila using the shipping service. Poor people used to transport livestock, poultry, and vegetables through ship cargo, he noted.

    As this developed, Duterte announced that the DoTr is set to rehabilitate an airport in the region in two years. He said being the window of the Pacific, Southern Leyte must build resiliency and effective disaster response to better cope with calamities.

    Tackling the issue on mining, the President reiterated his plan to stop mining due to the destruction it has caused to nature and the communities.

    “One of these days, I will stop mining actually,” he said.

    Open pit mining is also dangerous to villages because it causes landslide, he added.

    He noted that while mining companies contributed about PhP70 billion a year to government funds, such amount is not enough to compensate for the damage they caused to the environment.

    The Chief Executive also renewed his commitment to eliminate illegal drugs in the country, warning local officials to stay away from the drug trade. He likewise vowed to stop corruption in the bureaucracy.

     

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    Duterte proposed to cut short his term before the start of new charter

    July 8th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File photo) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. © Erik De Castro / Reuters

    DAVAO City – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday proposed to terminate his presidency before the start of a new charter to prove his critics wrong that he only wants to extend his term.

    “Sabi nila gusto kong mag-Presidente. Itong mga opposition, they are so engrossed na every time they look at the proposal sa Constitution, ‘Ah, Duterte will make it longer for him to stay in power,’” he said in a speech at the SMX Convention Center here.

    The Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution has approved the draft of the proposed federal constitution on July 3 and hopes to submit the draft to President Duterte on or before July 9.

    “I will make a proposal. The Constitution [is] now being reviewed by the Congress, but the Constitutional Convention Committee of Justice Puno can make this correction and I suggest, and I would like [the] Congress to approve it,” he said.

    “Make my term co-terminus, with the beginning of the draft constitution. Make me stop being President during the transition. In other words, elect a President before you make the transition from unitary to federal. I would be willing to accept the proposal. Galing na sa akin ‘yan,” Duterte, whose term will end in 2022, said.

    The Chief Executive told the Consultative Committee to make the final changes and “Make me President only next year, 2019, and I will accept it.”

    “Trabahohin ninyo. Make the changes now. Make me resign or ask me to step down by a Constitutional fiat that there will be an election before we proceed with the adoption of the Constitution,” he said.

    Meanwhile, President Duterte urged Filipinos to take legal action against the government over “unlighted, uncovered” public infrastructure projects.

    Ang corruption, naiinis ako, kasi ‘yung dinadaanan araw-araw ng tao, hindi inaayos. Marami na lang nahuhulog diyan, marami na lang namatay. It’s almost nonchalant so make it a criminal issue. Pag nahulog ka diyan, nabunggo ka [kasi] unlighted, uncovered, ganun, you sue the government. Siguradong manalo kayo diyan,” he said.

    “Sue the government and I will sue the supervisor and maybe ask the Secretary, ‘kindly explain to me kung bakit ganito ang sitwasyon,’” he said.

    At the same time, Duterte vowed that he would immediately act on graft and corruption complaints.

    “If it is something that ails, that bugs you because it involves graft and corruption or [if the] government is not doing what it’s supposed to do, just bring it to my attention and I will act on it immediately. Lalo na corruption,” he said.

    The Chief Executive was at the SMX Convention Center here to grace the opening ceremony of the annual National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) Celebration in Mindanao organized by the Mindanao Cluster of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The three-day event aims to showcase the capability of science experts and inspire the youth and other sectors in patronizing the local technology.

    The President, for his part, underscored his administration’s priority to provide a comfortable and secure life for the Filipino.

    “Rest assured that you have my full support in empowering individuals and bringing our country towards greater heights. I trust that you will be with me as we work together in establishing a brighter and better future for all,” he said.

     

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    PH envoys, local officials discuss programs to uplift welfare of Filipinos in Alberta

    July 7th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia. Image © canadianinquirer.net

    PHILIPPINE diplomatic officials in Canada met with ranking government officials to discuss ways to advance the welfare of the Filipino diaspora in Alberta.

    Ambassador to Canada Petronila P. Garcia and Consul General in Calgary Gilberto G.B. Asuque  called on Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman at her office in the Alberta Legislature Building, where they discussed programs for the welfare of Filipinos in Alberta Province.

    Citing 2016 data from Statistics Canada, Garcia noted that the Filipino migrants comprise one of the largest and fastest growing ethnocultural groups in Canada.

    There are approximately 837,135 individuals who have identified as having Filipino ethnic originals. Of the total Canadian population, approximately 2.4 percent identify as Filipino.

    The Ambassador further noted that based on the 2016 census, immigrants from the Philippines represented the highest percentage of total immigrants to Canada between 2011 and 2016.

    In the light of these data, Ambassador Garcia stressed the importance of enhancing people-to-people relations through various activities that will foster closer interaction among the professional, educational and cultural sectors of the Philippines and Alberta through visits, student and faculty exchange, and exhibits in arts and dances.

    Hoffman, for her part, expressed appreciation over the contribution of the Filipino diaspora in the social, economic, cultural and historical richness of the Province of Alberta, which was cited in the proclamation declaring June of each year as Philippine Heritage Month in Alberta.

    Also during the meeting, Hoffman presented Garcia a copy of the proclamation of the Philippine Heritage Month with the translation in Pilipino.

    The Deputy Premier noted that after English and French, Filipino is the third dialect spoken in Alberta.

    She also expressed her appreciation for the professionalism and work ethics of Filipinos and Filipino-Canadians employed in the various administrative, health, social welfare, and engineering departments of the Alberta Government.

    Garcia and Asuque, at the same time, sought the assistance of Deputy Premier Hoffman in establishing close coordination with the Provincial Government, for the safety and security of Filipinos especially during emergency situations.

    Later in the day, the Filipino diplomats  met Kelly J. McCauley MP at his constituency office in Edmonton. Mr. McCauley was elected MP in October 2015 for his electoral district in Edmonton West, where many Filipinos and Filipino-Canadian reside.

    Garcia and Consul General Asuque discussed with MP McCauley the concerns of Filipino Community leaders regarding the recognition of academic qualifications obtained in the Philippines for certain professions in Canada.

    MP McCauley took note of the concerns and other issues discussed during the meeting, and offered to bring the matter to the attention of the relevant Federal Government agencies.

    MP McCauley conveyed to Ambassador Garcia his appreciation and admiration for the professionalism of Filipino workers in his constituency, especially in health care such as nurses and caregivers. He also expressed appreciation for the voluntary spirit of the Filipinos in his district, especially in church services and in other community activities.

    Moreover, the Member of Parliament offered the assistance of his office for Filipinos who need to address or resolve matters pertaining to their immigration status in Canada.

     

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    “I never take credit for government relief goods” – SAP Christopher “Bong” Go

    July 5th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File photo) Special Assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte Christopher Go. Image © https://en.wikipedia.org

    THE Special Assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte, Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go on Thursday denied claiming credit for the relief goods sent to fire victims in Sampaloc last Sunday.

    Go said it has never been his and President Rodrigo Duterte’s practice to flaunt their names when giving aid. He stressed, “Di po namin ugali ni Presidente na ilagay yung pangalan namin sa relief goods. Noong mayor pa lang po s’ya ng Davao City, pansinin niyo po na wala ni isang nakalagay naThis is the project of Mayor Duterte’.”

    The top presidential aide issued the clarification upon learning that comments, claiming that he arrogated the credit for the relief goods, went viral.

    Furthermore, Go explained that upon learning of the Sampaloc, Manila fire, he hastily went to the site following the orders of the President and promised to return with aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Health (DOH).

    Sinabi ko po sa mga biktima na pinadala ako ni Presidente since di nya naman kayang ikutin lahat. Sabi k, etong dinala kong tulong ay from DSWD at DOH. Pera po iyon ng gobyerno. Di ko po inangkin ( I told the victims the President sent me since he cannot make rounds of all victims. I said this help is from the DSWD and DOH. It is government money. I didn’t take credit),” he noted.

    Go went on to say that it was just unfortunate that the goods from the government were placed next to the donations from a private foundation. He said, “Di naman maiiwasan na may mga pribadong taong gustong tumulong at kusang nagbibigay ng kanilang grocery packs at sapatos. Nagkataon lang na ipinatong doon sa mga kulay green na packs mula sa foundation ang goods na galing sa gobyerno.”

    He clarified that DSWD never distributed relief goods bearing his face or name. The ones distributed were standard relief goods given by the agency to victims of calamities.

    SAP Go appealed again to his supporters to refrain fronting his name and face when giving help. He urged, “Sa mga supporters ko, maraming salamat po sa pagtulong pero katulad ng paulit-ulit kong pakiusap, huwag niyo na pong ilagay ang pangalan ko. Idiretso nalang natin ang tulong sa tao.” (To my supporters, thank you for the help but as I said repeatedly, please do not put my name. Give the help direct to the people.)

    Sa mga tumatawag na senador po sa akin, hindi po ako pulitiko, janitor na lang. Di po ako special guest. Special Assistant to the President lang. Isang staff lang po ako sa office niya. O pwede ninyo rin naman akong tawaging special assistant of the people. Utusan niyo lang ako. Trabahante lang ako (To those calling me senator, I am not a politician, just janitor. I am not a special guest. Just special assistant to the president. I am just one of his office staff. Or you can call me special assistant of the people. I am just your servant. I am a simple worker.),” he added.

     

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    PhP139 billion worth of projects ready for PH Air Force modernization

    July 4th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File photo) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. © Noel Celis / Reuters

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday highlighted the importance of investing in strategies and technologies in order to allow government forces to perform their duties effectively.

    Speaking during the founding anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Duterte congratulated the air arm of the Armed Forces as it celebrates 71 years of service, sacrifice, and commitment to safeguarding the citizenry and defending the Philippines’ sovereignty.

    “I also take this opportunity to recognize your contributions and accomplishments in air operations for territorial defense, counter-terrorism and internal security, international defense and security engagement as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster operations among others,” he said.

    In his speech, the Chief Executive stated that he is proud to have witnessed the collaborative efforts of the Armed Forces in successfully reclaiming Marawi from the terrorist groups. He recognized PAF’s invaluable assistance that has been fundamental not only in liberating the Islamic city but also in bringing order and stability to Mindanao and the rest of the country.

    The President noted that the Philippines will continue to face challenges as the country realizes its shared vision of a stronger and safer Philippines. He said PAF completed this year the acquisition of air defense surveillance radars, utility aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles to complement existing air assets.

    In addition, Duterte revealed, the government is also expecting the delivery of additional equipment and machinery in the following year.

    “In order to further develop a modern, adequately equipped border security force, the government is currently working on the implementation of the Second Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program by 2022 with 16 projects for the Philippine Air Force worth over PhP139 billion already in the pipeline,” he said.

    As the government intensifies its fight against the current challenges of terrorism and external security, President Duterte called on PAF to remain vigilant, noting that “your chain of command does not end with me.”

    The President, meanwhile, affirmed that he and the Filipino people will never forget the gallant men and women “who went beyond the call of duty selflessly, and fought for the freedom we enjoy today.”

    “Be assured that we will remain steadfast in supporting the Philippine Air Force as we implement the necessary reforms that will enable you to become effective agents of genuine and lasting peace,” he said.

     

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    Malacanang to investigate murder of Tanauan City Mayor

    July 3rd, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    The slain Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili © coolbuster.net

    MALACAÑANG on Tuesday assured the public that it will conduct a thorough investigation of the assassination of Tanauan city Mayor Antonio Halili while attending the regular morning flag raising ceremony Monday.

    Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr., in a press briefing, said the palace will leave “no stone unturned” in the investigation stressing that they “are discharging the state obligation for every murder. We will investigate and accord the victims adequate domestic remedy.”

    Halili was standing in attention singing the Lupang Hinirang when a single gunshot suddenly rang out from nowhere causing him to slump bloodied on the ground. He was rushed with a wound in the chest by his aides to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

    The assassin, who is believed to be a sharpshooter using an M-14 rifle, is still at large and now the subject of a hunt.

    Clarification

    At the same time during the same press briefing, Roque mentioned the allegedly “out-of-context media reportage” about what he said Monday regarding the possibility of “connivance between the Catholic Church and the Communist Party of the Philippines to overthrow the Duterte government.”

    Roque insists that he did not generalize the entire Catholic Church, but mentioned some of its members could be working with the Left to grab power from the current administration.

    “Well, I think it is important to quote what I said. I said some. I did not say all,” Roque stressed that it is not impossible for some members of the Church to work with the CPP-NPA in overthrowing the present government.

    “And of course what has appeared in some reports including social media, it is as if the Church is conniving which is a big world of difference between some members of the Church or elements of the Church who did not support the President and who supported someone else,” Roque added.

    Palace announces rehabilitation of Kalibo International Airport’

    Meanwhile, Roque also announced the start of the rehabilitation of the Kalibo International Airport (KIA) yesterday.

    According to Roque, the closure of Boracay island and the lesser tourists arriving as a result of the shutdown will allow the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to fast track the rehabilitation of the airport.

    “The rehabilitation includes refurbishment of existing terminals, repainting of international terminal interiors, airport landside beautification and landscaping, rewiring of electrical and air-conditioning systems, and enhancement of railings and barricades,” he added.

     

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    Malacañang assured no repeat of Samar “misencounter.”

    July 2nd, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    MAASIN City, Southern Leyte – Malacañang on Monday said the Duterte administration is bent on doing all it takes to ensure that the recent misencounter between government forces in Samar would not have a repeat.

    Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr., in a press briefing held here, reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte has “taken full responsibility for the incident.” He then assured families of the slain policemen that the government would provide them with all their needs while investigations are ongoing.

    Lahat naman po ng pupwedeng maibigay sa mga biktima nitong misencounter na ito ay ibibigay ng gobyerno,” Roque guaranteed.

    Kaya nga po inako na ‘yan ng Presidente para matigil na ‘yung sisihan sa panig ng Hukbong Sandatahan at sa panig ng Philippine National Police (PNP),” he added.

    At the same time, Roque stressed that a proper investigation would still be conducted per the President’s order. This is to make sure that the blunders committed during the operation would not be repeated, he explained.

    Tuloy pa rin po ang imbestigasyon dahil ayaw natin na maulit ito,” the Spokesperson said, as he stressed the need for a closer coordination between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP particularly during combat operations.

    Furthermore, Roque asserted that the administration sees no criminal intent on the part of the security forces, although the probe could reveal that there was indeed a complete lack of coordination.

    Tanggapin natin na walang gustong mangyari nito pero without prejudice to the final outcome of the investigation to be conducted by the Board of Inquiry (BOI),” he said.

    Troops mistakenly killed six policemen and wounded nine others who they thought were communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas operating in the hinterlands of Sta. Rita in Samar province.

    According to a report that appeared in the Philippine Star, the AFP said they are looking into operational lapses in last Monday’s bloody mistaken encounter.

    Military officials said the initial findings indicate there was apparent miscommunication between troops and policemen in the area.

    We already have an established coordination every time they (Army and police) will operate. That has been the practice. There’s a radio message and text message,” said Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Samar.

    Meanwhile, Malacañang extended its condolences to the bereaved family of Tanauan City, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili, who was shot dead by an unidentified gunman during a flag raising ceremony on Monday, July 2.

    Secretary Roque said the Palace condemns any form of extrajudicial killing in the country and gave assurance that justice would be served to the family of the slain official.

    Kami po ay nakikiramay sa pamilya ni Tanauan Mayor Antonio Halili… Kinukundena po natin ang ganitong karahasan,” he stressed.

    Nangangako po ang Palasyo na bibigyan ng katarungan ang kanyang pagkamatay at magkakaroon po ng mabilisang imbestigasyon at paglilitiis doon sa mga tao na responsable sa pagpatay na ito,” Roque added.

    Halili’s name is on Duterte’s narco-list and was thus deprived of police protection, prompting the mayor to express fears that he might be summarily executed by the police.

    Meanwhile during the same press conference, Roque announces the inauguration of new Maasin Airport passenger terminal building of Maasin Airport in Southern Leyte.

    “Good news po dito sa Maasin, ‘yung bago pong airport ng Maasin ay natapos na at na-inagurahan na po ngayong araw, July 2,” Secretary Roque said.

    According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the new terminal building will upgrade the Maasin Airport from a community airport to a standard principal class 2 facility, with brand new facilities such as gang chairs, power, and water supply.

    “We expect that the improvements can help address the increasing transport demands of the public,” Roque stressed.

     

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    Gov’t ‘zeroing in’ on suspects in Davao del Norte journo slay

    July 1st, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Dennis Denora’s widow, Jane, as she views his cadaver. Image © http://newsline.ph

    THE government has identified the suspects in the recent slaying of Davao del Norte-based publisher and journalist Dennis Denora, according to Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Sunday.

    “Confidential po ito pero ganito na lang (This is confidential, but let’s put it this way), they are already zeroing in on the suspects ” Go told newsmen in a chance interview in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

    Malacañang earlier assured that the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is already investigating the journalist’s death. A PhP1.2 million bounty has been offered by the government for any information leading to the arrest of those behind Denora’s death.

    Denora, publisher of Trends and Times, a community paper in Davao del Norte, was killed by riding-in-tandem gunmen in an ambush in Panabo City last June 7.

    “This is a new case, and this will be investigated by the task force on media killings headed by Undersecretary (Joel) Egco,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing in Davao City last Thursday, June 26.

    The PTFoMS headed by Egco was created by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2016 to address media killings and harassment.

    Roque, at the same time, insists that the efforts of the Duterte administration to investigate the series of killings that have targeted media practitioners, priests and prosecutors, saying the government’s initiatives are not merely a “lip service.”

     

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    DAR installs Cebu farmers

    June 30th, 2018

    Department of Agrarion Reform Region VII Director Luis Bueno. Photo © sunstar.com.ph

    CEBU CITY—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has recently installed 32 agrarian reform beneficiaries in landholdings formerly owned by the Paz Luna Corporation.

    The official installation of the ARBs was conducted in a ceremony held at the Panugnawan Activity Center in Panugnawan, Medellin. The landholdings were covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 2000 with a total area of 78.95 hectares.

    The agricultural lands are located in barangays Panugnawan, Medellin, and Dalingding, Daanbantayan, Cebu.

    “Through this peaceful installation, we are ensuring that the farmers shall own, possess and actually till the land awarded to them,” said DAR Regional Director Luis B. Bueno.

    Bueno said the installation was previously resisted by the landowners themselves as well as by some farmer beneficiaries who were either identified as loyal to the previous owner or who has contracted lease agreement involving their awarded lands.

    In his message to the ARBs, Bueno reiterated the marching order of President Rodrigo Duterte to pursue an “aggressive” land reform program that will help alleviate the life of poor Filipino farmers.

    Prior to the actual installation, Atty. Alvin Arante of DAR-Cebu Legal Division conducted an orientation for the farmers of their rights, duties, and responsibilities. He warned the farmers that there are violations that will result to disqualification or cancellation of their land titles issued to them if they failed to do their responsibilities as landowners.

    Arante encouraged that farmers to take good care of the land awarded to them and to refrain from doing what is prohibited under the law, like leasing and selling the land.

    Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Elvira Bation in her message emphasized that giving land titles is not the end of CARP, but it is only the beginning.

    “The department will continue to give support services for the farmers like training courses, farm implements and access to credit. Please make the land productive and do your duties and obligations like paying taxes and amortizations of your land.”

    In attendance during the installation ceremony: Municipal Mayor of Medellin Joven J. Mondigo, Jr. and Panugnawan, Medellin Barangay Captain, Juanico Diaz, Assistant Regional Directors Eliasem Castillo and Josephus Baterna, Chief Agrarian Reform Officer Lilian Guanzon, Municipal Agrarian Reform Officers, DAR-Cebu Sheriff Herman Capule and DAR-Cebu personnel.

     

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    President Duterte to consult law experts before choosing new Chief Justice

    June 29th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File photo) Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte / AFP

    PANGLAO, Bohol — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday said his choice for the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will depend on the recommendation of the country’s legal bodies.

    “I have to consult not only the Justices themselves but also the law profession — so it’s by IBP and Philippine Constitutional Association and others. And I will consult here, Atty. Dela Cerna. ‘Yung sabi ko professor ko sa Criminal Law,” Duterte, noting that he has a 90-day period for filing the vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice, told reporters.

    (File photo) Former CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno. Image © philstar.com

    Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted through a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

    Saying that its decision is final, the Supreme Court en banc recently junked the plea of Sereno to reverse the high court’s ruling nullifying her appointment as the country’s top magistrate.

    Duterte, who is in Panglao to attend the 25th Annual National Convention of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines, also reacted to the comments made by Communist Party of the Philippines’ founder Jose Maria Sison, who said they are no longer interested in negotiating peace with the Duterte administration.

    Trabahante ho ako ng gobyerno and my main task is just to seek, to find the peace for my country,” Duterte said.

    “If they are not willing to talk to me, that’s fine. Wala akong problema so we continue with the war. Anyway, we have been there for 50 years. Ano ba naman ang dagdagan natin ng 30 years? So sige. So basta alam ng Pilipino na ganun ang nangyayari,” he said.

    CPP founder Jose Maria Sison © http://beta.philstar.com

    Duterte said that if Sison opts to continue talking peace, he should come to the Philippines to start the negotiation.

    President Duterte also touched the issue of illegal numbers game jueteng, noting he cannot act on it at this time because it would affect people’s livelihood.

    “Jueteng is unlawful. It is not legal. It cannot be allowed. Ngayon, malakas ang jueteng sa Luzon, dito sa Visayas but sa Mindanao, wala,” he said.

    According to the President, jueteng, a centuries old numbers game, has a very extensive and intensive networking and dismantling it at this time will only drive people to use its network for illegal drug trade.

    Ngayon, kung parahin ko ‘yan, I must be prepared to give another livelihood scheme sa mga tao. Kasi kapag wala ‘yan, wala kang ipapalit… papalit niyan droga. Mas deadly. Mas marami na at ang networking niyan mas malawak. Intensive and extensive,” he explained.

    Ang magpapalit diyan yung mga drug lord. Sasakyan na lang nila ‘yung mechanism mismo,” he said, adding that he must be prepared to give people a substitute.

    In his speech before the country’s vice mayors, President Duterte warned Immigration officials and personnel not to harass tourists coming to the Philippines.

    “You are not allowed to accost anybody, any tourist for that matter. Iyong mga Immigration, stop it,” the President said.

    He said he felt ashamed when South Korean officials raised the issue about a Korean national who died in police custody.

    Recognizing the pivotal role of vice mayors in the administration’s task to rid the society of many ills, he said that vice mayors are among the “front liners in bringing the government closer to the people.”

    “May you continue to be a partner in helping us attain peace, progress, and prosperity for our communities and our country.”

     

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    Palace welcomes Bishop Tagle’s statement, calls for better cooperation

    June 28th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle © marinduquegov.blogspot.com

    MALACAÑANG on Thursday welcomed the recent statement of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urging Filipino Catholics to respect the views of other religions or those who do not share the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

    Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. in a press briefing reiterated the Palace’s stand that even President Rodrigo Roa Duterte should be afforded the same religious freedom that he allows all Filipinos to enjoy.

    Alam naman po natin na magkakaiba ang ating paniniwala kaya sana naman respetuhin natin ang pagkakaiba na ito,” Roque stressed.

    Nanawagan na po ang Pangulo ng isang diyalogo sa Simbahan at ito na po ang ating ginagawa… Mag-usap-usap tayo para sa Diyos at sa bayan,” he added.

    Roque then announced the designation of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. as the fourth member of the recently created Presidential committee tasked to hold dialogues with different churches in the country.

    “I suppose his contribution is because he is an ex-priest himself and he is familiar with the dogma of the Catholic Church,” said Roque, who leads the four-man team.

    The Spokesperson said the end goal of the Duterte administration in conducting talks with the Church is to foster better cooperation between the two institutions, particularly on their shared drive against corruption, illegal drugs, and poverty.

    “The President really expected better working relations with the Catholic Church. He is against divorce, he is against abortion, he is against same-sex marriage. They seem to agree on what used to be contentious issues between [the Church] and the state,” Roque noted.

    “We are still looking forward to this kind of cooperation,” he added.

    Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

    Meanwhile, the Cabinet official rejected claims that religious groups are undertaking destabilization plots against the President.

    “In the first place, kampante po ang Presidente sa kanyang pananampalataya. Kampante ang Simbahan sa kanilang misyon sa bayang ito. Ang ninanais lang natin, ‘yung dalawang institusyon ay makapagsilbi nang mas mabuti para sa ating lipunan,” Roque stressed.

    Palace open to probe on “anti-tambay” drive

    During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed proposals pushing for a congressional investigation into the administration’s anti-“tambay” crackdown.

    Lahat naman po ng imbestigasyon ay katungkulan ‘yan ng Kongreso… lalung lalo na kung sila po ay bubuo ng batas para lalong mas mapabuti ang implementasyon ng ninanais makamit ng ating Presidente,” Secretary Roque stated.

    He said the Palace also welcomes any challenges to the “anti-tambay” drive before the Supreme Court.

    Furthermore, Roque clarified that the President’s latest directive does not seek to criminalize vagrancy.

    He said it merely aims to strengthen the implementation of existing laws and ordinances that promote peace and order in the communities.

    “We are not criminalizing vagrancy. We are implementing the laws and ordinances and it is a form of higher police visibility intended to act as deterrent towards the commission of crimes,” the Secretary said.

     

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    After calling the “Catholic God” stupid, Duterte forms committee to talk with Roman Catholic bishops

    June 27th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    (File Photo) PH President Rodrigo Duterte

    AFTER saying that God is stupid, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he is willing to engage the different religious leaders in the country and the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in a dialogue to reduce tension between his administration and the Church.

    Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. told reporters in a press briefing the President ordered the formation of a three-man committee to oversee the conduct of a dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups.

    Roque revealed that aside from him, the other members of the committee will be Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, and Pastor “Boy” Saycon. He added the agenda would be defined by both parties once the dialogue commences.

    (File photo) Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

    Ang tema ng mga pag-uusap ay paano mabawasan ‘yung hidwaan ng gobyerno at simbahan,” the Spokesperson stressed, adding “tingnan natin kung paano mapapabuti ang samahan dahil iisang lipunan lang naman po ang pinaglilingkuran ng gobyerno at ng simbahan.

    Roque said the President’s decision came after calls were made by different church groups, including the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEP), for the government to hold talks with them.

    The Cabinet official said he would be reaching out to the PCEP soon to inform them of the formation of the committee.

    Furthermore, Pastor Saycon was asked to contact the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to notify them of the government’s commitment to open a dialogue.

    “Rest assured that whatever I get from the churches, I will relay to the President,” Roque stressed.

    Meanwhile, Roque defended anew President Duterte’s remarks about the Church, stressing that even the Chief Executive is entitled to his own religious freedom.

    “No one can question a person’s faith, lack of faith, or his own interpretation of the god that he believes in. ‘Yan po ay karapatan ng lahat. Pati po ang Presidente, may ganyang karapatan,” Roque said.

    Paulit-ulit namang sinasabi ng Presidente na nirerespeto niya ang kalayaan ng malayang pananalita at malayang pag-iisip. So tanggapin po natin ang mga sinasabi ng Presidente within the context of these freedoms,” he added.

    Duterte, on Friday, said God is stupid because he led Adam and Eve to sin by placing the tree of knowledge of good and evil in paradise. He also spoke negatively about the idea of all of us having original sin calling it a very “stupid proposition.”

    “Who is this stupid God? He’s really stupid. Your created something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” Duterte noted.

    In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were thrown out of paradise after consuming the forbidden fruit.

    Despite the subsequent public outcry in the predominantly Catholic country, Duterte, who was raised Catholic, on Monday added fuel to fire by defending his “God is stupid” statement.

    He said that he was criticizing only the God that his critics believe in, not his personal god.

    “What I said was your God is not my god, because your God is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense,” Duterte said, adding that the creation of Eve was God’s “greatest mistake.”

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/06/23/philippines-duterte-says-catholic-god-is-stupid-76-million-faithful-disagree/)

    Meanwhile, according to the Catholic News Agency:

    The CBCP said they were willing to meet with Duterte to discuss various issues and to rebuild the relationship between the Church and the government.

    Davao Archbishop and CBCP President Romulo Valles

    CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said on a Catholic radio station in the Philippines that the invitation was a “most welcome development,” and that “to dialogue is to listen to one another, and is always good.”

    Valles and Duterte have been friendly in the past, according to Filipino media.

    Other bishops in the country aren’t so sure that Duterte is genuine in his desire for a dialogue. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the auxiliary bishop of Manila, told ABS-CBN News that the call for a dialogue was “just his way of diffusing the criticisms against him.”

    The Philippines is about 80 percent Catholic, and an additional 10 percent of the population is Protestant.

    Duterte has been openly hostile to the Catholic Church since he came to power in July of 2016. Shortly before taking office, he referred to the country’s bishops as “sons of wh-res.”

    He has been accused of “social cleansing” for his bloody war on drugs in the country. The country’s bishops offered to provide sanctuary for any whistle blowers in the Philippine police department who spoke out against various human rights abuses.

    In response, Duterte said the Church was “full of sh-t.”

     

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    The PH reaffirms before the UNHRC its advocacy on the promotion and protection of migrant’s rights

    June 27th, 2018

    By Rodolfo Andal

    Photo © The Graduate Institute Geneva

    THE Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva has reaffirmed the country’s promotion and protection of the rights of migrants.

    Ambassador Evan P. Garcia made the affirmation during a conversation with Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Felipe Gonzales Morales Wednesday last week on the margins of the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

    Garcia, at the same time, stressed the country’s strong support for the mandate of Special Rapporteur Felipe Gonzales Morales whose report before the UNHRC focused on return and reintegration of migrants.

    Before the meeting, Garcia delivered the statement of the Philippines during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Migration before the UNHRC, highlighting that “forced returns should always be a measure of last resort, and only follow a fair and efficient process guaranteeing that all legal safeguards have been provided.”

    The Ambassador also stressed that “migrants in irregular situations require individual screening and assessment procedures; failure to provide such procedures constitutes a violation of due process guarantees and the international (law) principles of non-refoulement and the best interests of the child, among others.”

    Individual screening and assessment procedures provide the opportunity to determine the specific situations of vulnerability and legal protection frameworks that aim to effectively meet the needs of migrants, including under international human rights law, according to the Ambassador.

     

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