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PH economy expands 6.2 percent in Q3 to outpace growth of China, other neighbors

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PH economy expands 6.2 percent in Q3 to outpace growth of China, other neighbors

The Philippine economy grew 6.2 percent in the July-to-September period, lifting the year-to-date growth to 5.8 percent, or just a little slower than the government’s full-year target of 6 percent to 7 percent.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Philippines performed better in the third quarter of the year compared to other Asian countries.

“The Philippines likely ranked second behind Vietnam’s 7.3 percent but higher than China’s 6.0 percent, India’s expected Q3 growth of below 6.0 percent, and Indonesia’s 5.0 percent for the period,” Pernia said.

The economy now needs to expand by at least 6.7 percent in the final quarter of 2019 to reach the lower end of the government’s full-year growth target.

This, according to Pernia, is still doable, with the expected surge in private consumption for the holiday season, as well as the higher spending from the government and more investments from private firms.

“Yesterday, the Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet level and the Committee on Infrastructure approved the updated list of infrastructure flagship projects of the Duterte administration, subject to further refinements. We deem that these projects are more feasible, responsive to medium and long-term demands and challenges towards uplifting the quality of life of the Filipino people, especially those being left behind. Thus, we call on our colleagues in the government, the private sector, partner international organizations, and the citizenry at large to work together to overcome hurdles and ensure that these projects get completed on time, or at least started substantially,” Pernia added.

He added: “For the remaining months of the year, the benign inflation outlook, and more upbeat consumer confidence, are expected to stimulate private consumption, especially with the nearing holiday season that has begun.”

“Meanwhile, the expansionary monetary policy stance of the government is expected to encourage private investments. The Central Bank has already cut its key policy rates by a cumulative 75 basis points this year. It has also lowered banks’ reserve requirement by a total of 400 bps – including the recent 100bps reduction for thrift banks effective December 2019.” 

The agriculture sector is also expected to boost growth in the last quarter of the year, especially with the relatively favorable weather conditions providing the opportune time to ramp up agricultural production, particularly of high-value crops. 

“We note that the upbeat performance of the agriculture sector, growing by 3.1 percent in the Q3 from 0.8 percent earlier this year, was driven by increased production of corn, coconut and pineapple.  We urge the Department of Agriculture and other concerned agencies to swiftly implement the programs and projects under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.  Perhaps, among the priority projects should be the provision of mechanical dryers, particularly in areas where we lack “solar drying” facilities. As the harvest season is ongoing, the government should continue to directly buy palay from local producers affected by the unprecedented decline in farm gate prices to help curb their losses,” Pernia said.

To counter the risk of the spread of African Swine Fever, the government must continue to enforce its biosecurity measures. More stringent quarantine checkpoints, provision of disinfection facilities, and intensified anti-smuggling and meat inspection efforts are also needed, he added.

“As we can see, the Philippine economy has been steadily growing for the past three years. We expect to sustain this momentum in the following years and cement the Philippines’ standing as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia,” Pernia said.

Barangay, SK leaders can now focus on governance as postponement of May 2020 polls already ‘done’

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Barangay, SK leaders can now focus on governance as postponement of May 2020 polls already ‘done’

Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders can now focus on governance, as the House of Representatives is already sure of passing its own bill postponing the conduct of the May 2020 Barangay and SK elections.

The Senate had already passed its version of the bill on third and final reading last September.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House bill postponing the Barangay and SK elections is one of the priority measures being targeted for approval before the Congress goes on another recess for the Christmas holidays.

He said the postponement is already considered “done”,  and what they will now determine is when the next elections will be held.

“Done na iyan. Ang question lang is when the elections will be; will it be 2022 or 2023? But both houses, and I think Malacañang, have agreed that it will be more productive if we just extend,” Cayetano said. 

Last September 30, Senate Bill 1043 was approved by senators voting 21-0. It seeks to move the Barangay and SK polls to December 5, 2022. The bill, sponsored by Senator Imee Marcos also sets the elections for village and youth officials every three years.

If the House and the Senate would agree on holding the Barangay and SK polls in December 2022, the Philippines will be having two elections that year, as May 2022 is the constitutionally mandated date for the conduct of the national elections.

Marcos earlier said the Commission on Elections had already assured them that the poll body is capable of holding two elections in the same year.

Also certified as urgent, according to Cayetano, is the 2020 budget bill, as well as the measures creating new departments that will handle disaster response, water distribution and overseas workers.

But Cayetano said their main focus is really on the national budget.

“So far, ang in-approve namin, lahat ng sinubmit din ng DPWH ng Department of Agriculture. Walang pork [barrel],” he said. 

Duterte criticizes major economic powers for protectionist policies that hurt Asean

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Duterte criticizes major economic powers for protectionist policies that hurt Asean
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While not directly naming them, President Duterte criticized the “major economic powers” for their protectionist policies and trade skirmishes that are threatening the growth of the Asean region.

In his address at the 35th Asean Summit Plenary in Thailand, Duterte said the rise of protectionism and ongoing trade wars undermine the progress of the Asean economies. “The far-reaching consequences may adversely impact on food security in the developing world.”

With this, the President called on the Asean to strengthen and deepen their economic integration to counter protectionism and trade-related tensions happening in other parts of the world.

Currently embroiled in trade wars are China and the US, as well as Japan and South Korea, among others.

“We need an open and rules-based trading system to sustain growth. Thus, we should ensure the continued relevance and effectiveness of the World Trade Organization. And, Asean must accelerate deeper economic integration through concrete programs and projects, such as RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership],” Duterte said.

The RCEP is an emerging economic bloc composed of the 10 Asean member-countries plus their free-trade partners China, Japan, India, South Korean, Australia and New Zealand. Collectively, they account for about 40 percent of world GDP and about half of the world’s population.

Duterte noted that the Asean declarations and joint statements that aim to protect the region’s population, especially the most vulnerable, are steps toward sustainable and inclusive development.

He also called for more measures that allow the greater direct benefit to certain sectors of the population, including the expansion of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and the empowerment of women, migrant workers and persons with disabilities.

Key components of these MRAs are the harmonization of standards on nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Duterte also called on Asean to ensure environmental sustainability and protect biodiversity in the region’s pursuit for development. 

“Asean should not sacrifice the environment and the region’s rich biodiversity, particularly in the maritime domain, in its quest for progress. We must work together to address the problem of marine debris. And we must build resilient and stronger communities to adapt to the effects of climate change,” he stressed.

Duterte added that the regional grouping should support economic sectors of high productivity and follow sustainable business practices.

DOJ to formalize Duterte’s order to NBI to take over probe of Mayor Navarro’s murder

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DOJ to formalize Duterte’s order to NBI to take over probe of Mayor Navarro’s murder
Image Credit: Romeo Marantal / Twitter

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will issue a directive to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formalizing the order of President Duterte for the bureau to take over the probe of the murder of Clarin, Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told reporters that the verbal directive of Duterte to the NBI should suffice, as he is the head of the government’s Executive branch. 

“Given the circumstances surrounding the killing of Clarin Mayor Navarro, the President’s directive for the NBI to take over the investigation of the incident should quell any doubts regarding this government’s commitment to solve the case and bring to account those responsible,” Perete said.

The DOJ, he added, will still issue a formal order to the NBI “purely for record-keeping purposes.”

On Monday (October 28), Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to let the NBI conduct the investigation, as he believes the police may have had something to do with the slaying of Navarro.

“PNP, anong ginawa ng PNP? Baka sila ang pumatay, sila ‘yung malapit,” Duterte told reporters, referring to the circumstances surrounding the ambush slaying of Navarro in Cebu City last October 25.  Navarro was then inside a police vehicle in the middle of a police convoy when he was shot to death by several armed men in a “lightning attack”.

He added: “Mas gusto ko ang NBI na lang para walang…kasi nung nangyari ‘yan, may kasamang pulis eh. To make it really fair. I’d like the police to terminate their investigation and hand it to the NBI, whatever documents and or proof or evidence that they have in their hands.” 

Police investigators earlier said they would look into politics, business and Navarro’s reported link to the drug trade as possible motive behind his murder. Navarro had received several death threats before the incident.

A day before his ambush slaying, Navarro was arrested for mauling a massage therapist.

OFWs told to avoid bringing pork products when they come home for the holidays

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OFWs told to avoid bringing pork products when they come home for the holidays

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should avoid bringing pork products to the Philippines when they come home for the holidays, especially those coming from countries with confirmed cases of African Swine Fever (ASF).

This was the appeal made by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to OFWs, noting that airport authorities will also be very strict in checking food items that will be brought in from abroad.

Noel Reyes, assistant secretary at the agriculture department, said this is part of the government’s efforts to stop the spread of ASF in the country and protect the domestic swine industry.

“Huwag na silang magbitbit. Makukumpiska lang sa mga airport at seaport, especially if dumaan sila sa Hong Kong and China,” Reyes said at the weekly Pulong Balitaan forum on Monday (October 28).

The government has already effected a ban on pork and pork products from 24 jurisdictions that have confirmed cases of ASF contamination. 

Parts of the European Union and Africa, as well as China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia are among the economies that have ASF.

Reyes said aside from risking wasting their money for bringing in pork products, OFWs will also be burdened by documentary requirements, like a certification that the meat they are carrying is ASF-free.

Around 200,000 OFWs usually come home to be with their families during the Christmas season.

Just recently, the DA has confiscated processed meat using imported ASF-tainted pork at a pork in Mindoro. Several local government units have banned pork and pork products from Luzon as a measure to protect their respective swine industry.

Overall, the country’s estimated swine population is at 12.7 million heads as of July 2019. The population of swine in backyard farms is 8.02 million heads, while stocks in commercial farms stood at 4.68 million heads.

7th CMCI result: Quezon City still the most competitive highly urbanized city in the country

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7th CMCI result: Quezon City still the most competitive highly urbanized city in the country
Image Credit: MayorJoyBelmonte / FB

Quezon City retained its title as the overall most competitive highly urbanized city in the Philippines in the 7th edition of the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) announced by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Friday (October 25).

Image Credit: MayorJoyBelmonte / FB

This is now the fourth year that Quezon City lorded it over other cities throughout the country in the index, putting it in the distinguished CMCI Hall of Fame.

Manila ranked second, while Davao City placed third.

The CMCI measures the competitiveness of cities and municipalities under four pillars: economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure and resiliency.

Antipolo City topped the overall most competitive Component City (CC), with Calamba, Laguna and Santa Rosa, Laguna in 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.

Cainta, Rizal reclaimed its top spot as overall most competitive 1st-2nd Class Municipality, while Taytay, Rizal slipped to second spot, followed by Baliwag, Bulacan in 3rd place. For the 3rd-6th class municipalities, Mambajao, Camiguin topped this category followed by San Remigio, Cebu (2nd) and Baler, Aurora (3rd). The three most competitive provinces are all coming from the Calabarzon region, with Rizal Province as 1st place for fourth consecutive time, Laguna as 2nd place and Cavite as 3rd place.

I am glad to hear that more and more Local Government Units (LGUs) are seeing the importance of the CMCI project,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The CMCI now has 1,518 cities and municipalities, from 122 cities and 163 municipalities in its pilot run in 2013. Beyond being an annual ranking event, it is a vital opportunity for policymakers and public officials to see where things are, compare it to past performance, and relate it to the experience of other localities. As such, the program serves as a driving force to do better, to be more innovative, and to utilize and manage resources more effectively,” he added.

Most economically dynamic LGUs

The Economic Dynamism Pillar of CMCI measures the economic activity and productivity of an LGU, which include the size and growth of the local economy (business registrations, capital, revenue, permits), capacity to generate jobs, cost of living, cost of business, etc.

Pasay City landed in the top spot for the HUC category, as Davao City improved to 2nd place, while last year’s no. 1 Quezon City dropped to 3rd place. For Component Cities, Gen. Trias, Cavite moved to 1st place, followed by Calamba, Laguna (2nd) and Batangas City, Batangas (3rd). Plaridel, Bulacan emerged as no.1 in the 1st-2nd class municipalities, with Sta. Maria, Bulacan in no. 2, while last year’s top performer Cainta, Rizal fell to no.3. Mambajao, Camiguin led the 3rd-6th class municipalities together with Bacolor, Pampanga (2nd) and Alfonso Lista, Ifugao (3rd).

Most efficient LGUs

In the Government Efficiency Pillar, competitiveness of LGUs is determined through the reliability and quality of government support for effective and sustainable expansion, and absence of corruption.

In this pillar, Quezon City ranked best in the HUC category followed by City of Manila (2nd) and Davao City (3rd). For the Component Cities, Antipolo, Rizal is no. 1, while last year’s top LGU Tagum City eased to no.2, and Sta. Rosa, Laguna is no.3. Cainta, Rizal reclaimed its top rank in the 1st-2nd class municipalities, while Taytay, Rizal and Silang, Cavite landed in the 2nd and 3rd places, respectively. San Simon, Pampanga got the 1st place in the 3rd-6th class municipalities, followed by Taal, Batangas (2nd) and Mambajao, Camiguin (3rd).

Infrastructure-sufficient LGUs

This third pillar measures the availability of necessary physical building blocks that connect and sustain a locality and its surroundings to enable provision of goods and services. Data involved includes existing road network, distance from major ports, availability of basic utilities, internet connection, etc.

Consistent top performers in the HUC Category are Quezon City (1st), City of Manila (2nd) and Davao City (3rd). Legazpi City remained as top Component City followed by Antipolo, Rizal at 2nd place, while Naga City, Camarines Sur slipped to 3rd place. Baliwag, Bulacan improved to the top spot for the 1st-2nd class municipality, with Cainta, Rizal (2nd place) and Taytay, Rizal (3rd place). Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija entered for the first time as top placer in 3rd-6th municipalities, together with Ronda, Cebu (2nd) and Jimenez, Misamis Occidental (3rd).

 Most resilient LGUs

The fourth pillar measures the capability of an LGU to sustain competitiveness. Resiliency at the context of local level is defined as ability of the people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses and manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth.

Iloilo City secured the top spot for the HUC Category followed by Cagayan de Oro (2nd) and Davao City (3rd). Antipolo, Rizal led the Component City Category with Koronadal, South Cotabato (2nd) while Calapan, Oriental Mindoro slipped to 3rd place. Liloan, Cebu emerged as best in the 1st-2nd class municipalities, followed by Binangonan, Rizal (2nd) and San Mateo, Rizal (3rd). Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur is 1st place in the 3rd-6th class municipalities, with Pagsanjan, Laguna (2nd ) and Magsaysay, Davao del Sur at (3rd ).

 Most improved LGUs

The DTI also recognized local government units that significantly improved their performance in the CMCI. For HUC Category, Valenzuela and Malabon shared the top spot, followed by Angeles, Pampanga (2nd) and Paranaque and Caloocan (3rd). For Component City, Meycauayan, Bulacan topped the list, while Tangub, Misamis Occidental and Toledo, Cebu tied in 2nd place. San Jose del Monte, Bulacan ranked 3rd. For 1st-2nd class municipalities, Plaridel, Bulacan is 1st place followed by Pandi, Bulacan (2nd) and Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija (3rd). For 3rd-6th class municipalities, Poro, Cebu is the top placer, followed by Penaranda, Nueva Ecija (2nd) and Tabina, Zamboanga del Sur (3rd).

Dar calls for strict implementation of ‘1-7-10’ protocol after seizure of ASF-tainted pork products in Mindoro

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Dar calls for strict implementation of ‘1-7-10’ protocol after seizure of ASF-tainted pork products in Mindoro

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar has called on hog raisers, traders and other stakeholders to help the government in strictly implementing the “1-7-10” protocol, following the confiscation of African Swine Fever (ASF) – tainted pork products in a port in Mindoro.

Dar also warned the public that “anybody found selling and trading illegally slaughtered diseased animals are punishable under the law.”

“Again, we strongly appeal to small backyard hog raisers not to sell their ASF-infected pigs to traders, and for traders not to sell infected hogs, and pork and processed products so as not to spread the ASF virus to other areas,” Dar said.

He asked local government officials and swine industry stakeholders to continuously sustain efforts to manage, contain and control ASF, and strictly enforce the “1-7-10” protocol and biosecurity and quarantine measures.

The protocol mandates that hogs cannot be brought in or out of the 1-kilometer radius of the site of infection or ground zero. Pigs in the area will be culled. Meanwhile hogs within the 7-kilometer radius will be under surveillance with restricted movements while blood testing will be undertaken. For the 10-kilometer radius, a mandatory monitoring and reporting of swine disease occurrences shall be implemented.

Dar lauded personnel of the local government units (LGUs), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) who apprehended a traveler, carrying several packets of processed pork products that tested positive for ASF at a Mindoro port last October 6.

The infected items, composed mostly of homemade products, were confiscated and properly disposed of by quarantine officers.

However, despite appeals from numerous camps, the DA continues to withhold the brand of the confiscated ASF-positive pork products or the identity of its processor.

MMDA to allow street parking in designated areas near cemeteries on November 1

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MMDA to allow street parking in designated areas near cemeteries on November 1

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is relaxing its campaign against street obstructions and illegal parking in areas near cemeteries on November 1.

But MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia clarified that these areas will have to be officially designated by the local government units (LGUs) as temporary parking sites for Filipinos visiting their deceased loved ones on All Saints’ Day.

Also, Garcia said motorists should make sure their vehicles will not obstruct traffic low. “Case-to-case basis; kung ikaw ay nakaharang sa gitna ng kalsada at walang makadaan, puwede kang i-tow kasi obstruction ka na,” Garcia said in an interview with ABS-CBN News on Wednesday (October 23).

The MMDA, he added, will be meeting with LGUs next week to formulate schemes that will ease vehicular traffic around cemeteries on November 1. They will also identify the designated parking areas. Vehicles parked outside these designated parking areas will be towed. 

The suspension of the campaign against illegal parking is a welcome development to millions of Filipinos who are expected to flock to Metro Manila cemeteries for the annual visit to the graves of their departed relatives. 

The MMDA and LGUs will also ensure proper coordination so the smooth flow of people going in and out of cemeteries will not be hindered by movement of vehicles.

“Maximum tolerance. Puwedeng in the sense na lifted muna, pero sa vicinity lang ng sementeryo na ia-identify ng LGU,” Garcia said. 

The MMDA is now crafting its own traffic management plan for the All Saints’ Day so it will be synced with those of the LGUs.

Garcia also announced that the number coding scheme will not be in effect on November 1.

Metro Manila malls to adjust operating hours starting Nov. 11 to help ease traffic flow

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Metro Manila malls to adjust operating hours starting Nov. 11 to help ease traffic flow

Metro Manila malls have committed to do their share in easing traffic flow during the holiday season by tweaking their weekday operating schedules and promotional schemes starting November 11 up to January 10.

This was the result of the meeting between the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and representatives of mall operators and owners on Tuesday (October 22).

In the meeting, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said it was agreed that from Monday to Friday, malls in Metro Manila will open shop at 11 a.m., instead of the regular 10 a.m. opening. There are about 100 malls in Metro Manila, with an average staff of 2,000.

In doing this, the volume of people traveling to the metropolis during the rush hours to make it on time for the opening of malls would be greatly reduced, Garcia said.

The employees of the malls alone would no longer join the morning rush to their workplaces, already translating to 200,000 (2,000 employees multiplied by 100 malls) people off the Metro Manila roads.

Aside from this, the long queue of vehicles of customers entering the malls will be avoided until after the rush hours.

Aside from adjusting the start of operating hours during weekdays, the malls owners and operators have also committed to avoid conducting mall sales during weekdays. These mall sales attract heavy volume of shoppers, causing gridlocks around the shopping areas.

For deliveries, Garcia said malls will be adjusting the delivery window to between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Metro Manila malls were also asked to add security personnel that will assist the traffic personnel of the MMDA and local government units in ensuring smooth flow of vehicles in their respective areas.

Metro Manila residents told to prepare for water service interruptions as dam level drops

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Metro Manila residents told to prepare for water service interruptions as dam level drops
Image Credit: Gigie Cruz/ABS-CBN News

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has advised Metro Manila residents to prepare for possible cut in water supply or even service interruptions in the coming days as the level of Angat Dam continues to drop.

NWRB Executive Director Sevillo David Jr. said that as of 6 a.m. on Friday (October 18), Angat Dam’s water level has dropped to 187.28 meters.

It used to be at about 191 meters in September. The normal water level is 212 meters.

Angat is the main source of raw water being processed by concessionaires serving Metro Manila and nearby areas.

“Kailangan po nating paghandaan kung sakaling magkakaroon ng kabawasan sa pag-ulan… May posibilid pong magkaroon ng kabawasan sa serbisyo ng mga konsesyonaryo kasi nga po hindi normal ang alokasyon,” David said in an interview with radio station DZMM.

David also told GMA News Online that the allocation for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) will be 40 cubic meter per second (m3/s) for November, a big slash from the regular supply of 46 m3/s. 

Allocation for irrigation will also see a big cut to only 17m3/s from 30 m3/s. 

In a statement issued last October 15, Maynilad Water Services Inc. already advised its consumers to stock water regularly in case the daily rotational water interruptions would need to be implemented.

In an advisory posted on its website a day after, Maynilad said: 

“Assuming that sufficient rains still do not fall over the watersheds to replenish our dams, Maynilad may be constrained to re-implement DAILY ROTATIONAL WATER SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS in some portions of the West Zone.

Below is the list of affected areas and their corresponding schedules. These rotational service interruptions may take full effect in the next few days, depending on actual rainfalls that will occur in the watersheds.

If enough volume of raw water enters our treatment facilities, we can shorten or even postpone the scheduled service interruption. However, if the volume of raw water is not enough, then the service interruptions will happen as scheduled. 

Please be reminded that while no service interruption happens today, the same may not be the case tomorrow. Given this, we advise our customers to remember the assigned daily interruption schedule in their area, and to keep enough water stored in case the scheduled interruption for the day will push through. Please keep stored water in clean, covered containers.

Upon resumption of water service, please let the water flow out for a few seconds until the supply clears. We appeal to our customers for their continued patience and understanding, as we try to manage the effects of the reduced allocation on our operations. Please continue to monitor our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on the supply situation.”

PNP’s OIC Gamboa to review downgrading of dismissal order against ‘ninja cops’

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PNP’s OIC Gamboa to review downgrading of dismissal order against ‘ninja cops’
Image Credit: Philippine National Police / FB

The officer in charge (OIC) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said he will personally review the case involving the 13 Pampanga police officers, whose dismissal order for alleged involvement in a drug-recycling case was downgraded to mere demotion.

Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, who was appointed by President Duterte to head the PNP vice Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said as a lawyer, he is aware of several options to take to ensure the outcome of the review will be satisfactory to the Chief Executive and the public.

“Abogado naman ako and baka matingnan natin nang maayos. Rest assured sa publiko, wala itong bias,” Gamboa said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Thursday (October 17).

Gamboa noted that he has the “disciplinary authority” to review the case, which is now also being investigated by the Senate in aid of legislation.

He said there are other offices within the PNP that can ensure better appreciation of the evidence against the implicated Pampanga police officers, who were accused of pilfering 160 kilos of methamphetamine that they seized in an operation in 2013. 

Albayalde’s name was dragged into the case, as witnesses in the Senate probe said he tried to intervene in behalf of these officers. Albayalde left his post ahead of his scheduled retirement next month.

Gamboa also vowed to address the disappointment expressed by Duterte over the “ninja cops” controversy involving uniformed personnel who are recycling narcotics confiscated in operations.

“Lahat naman ng nag-attend doon napakinggan nila iyon,” Gamboa said. “It’s a challenge on my leadership, kahit na OIC ako, that I should do something about the impression of the President. Hindi naman kailangan ko pang, ‘Sir ano bang gawin natin?’ Dapat may initiative ako kung anong dapat kong gawin at ipiniprepara ko iyan.” 

Gamboa is among the top candidates for the post vacated by Albayalde, his classmate at the Philippine Military Academy.

Head of Internal Affairs Service backs proposal strengthening the agency amid ‘ninja cops’ mess

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Head of Internal Affairs Service backs proposal strengthening the agency amid ‘ninja cops’ mess
Image Credit: PNP Internal Affairs Service / FB

The head of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) supported a proposed bill that seeks to make the agency independent of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the setup in other countries like the United States that makes it more effective in combatting malpractices among men in uniform.

Lawyer Alfegar Triambulo, director of IAS, said they have been meaning to ask lawmakers to pass a law that will strengthen the agency, including its independence from the PNP and the power to launch both criminal and administrative investigations against rogue cops.

Triambulo added that they also want mechanisms that would enable them to give better protection to witnesses against corrupt police officers.

“Maraming gustong magsalita laban sa katiwalian sa pulis natin, pero natatakot kasi wala nga kaming ibinibigay na proteksyon sa kanila,” Triambulo said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Wednesday (October 16).

He added: ”Aming isinusulong na maging independent katulad ng mga IAS na aming napuntahan sa ibang bansa kaya sila ay matibay at kinatatakutan ng mga police organization.” 

Last October 15, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles called on fellow lawmakers to expedite the approval of proposals seeking to separate the IAS from the PNP chain-of-command.

Nograles said an independent IAS is needed now more than ever due to the diminished integrity of the existing IAS amid allegations of a cover-up by top police officials on the wrongdoings of their subordinates in the so-called “ninja cops” controversy.

The IAS currently reports to the PNP chief, as it is an essential part of the disciplinary mechanism of the organization. “It means that the IAS, based on their findings, can only recommend an action to the PNP chief. There is a flaw in the procedure because the IAS is only a recommendatory body, they have no prosecutorial powers,” Nograles said.

“As the office that oversees the conduct of the uniformed personnel, the IAS should be free from influence, pressure, and intervention from the chief PNP, and other high-ranking PNP officers in adjudicating administrative cases,” he added.

The lawmaker said if the IAS becomes independent, the recommendations of the agency will be given more importance. “I also want to give them prosecutorial powers para sila na mismo ang totoong magpu-pulis sa mga pulis (so that the IAS itself will truly police the police).”

Nograles filed House Bill 3065, seeking the removal of IAS from the supervision and control of the PNP chief. It aims to transfer the agency under the direct supervision of the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government.

Apart from investigating and adjudicating administrative wrongdoings of PNP personnel, the proposed measure also seeks to empower the IAS to have recommendatory powers in the selection and promotion of PNP personnel, including the PNP chief. The IAS could also provide assistance to the Office of the Ombudsman and other PNP Disciplinary Offices in cases involving PNP personnel. It can also recommend the admission to the witness protection program of the Department of Justice of witnesses who are vital to the prosecution of PNP personnel involved in criminal cases. 

Triambulo said the IAS in the country is not feared by rogue police officers because of its current structure, unlike in other jurisdictions.

EDITORIAL: Garage as a prerequisite to car ownership: Individual rights vs public order

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Garage as a prerequisite to car ownership: Individual rights vs public order
Image Credit: Wikipedia / Tabloid PH

Two bills seeking to regulate the sale of motor vehicles—by requiring buyers to show unassailable proofs of ready garage or parking space—are now undergoing committee deliberations at the Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 368 authored by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and SB 679 authored by Sen. Bong Revilla are timely, with the road-clearing operations of the local government units and concerned state agencies already underway, as ordered by President Duterte.

Already, streets in the metropolis have been rid of mobile and ambulant obstructions, including parked vehicles, which eased the flow of vehicles and people. 

However, as what Filipinos have become accustomed to, concerns were raised over the sustainability of this campaign—with the government’s resolve feared to eventually give in to ningas kugon (fiery at start only die down easily) again. And don’t forget, hard-headed Filipinos would always try to sneak in and test implementation if it would really be round-the-clock.

This is why we believe that in a way, the bills of Revilla and Gatchalian will greatly contribute to institutionalizing the campaign of keeping the streets free of obstructions.

Gatchalian’s SB 368, which covers Metro Manila only, adds as a requirement to vehicle registration a duly notarized affidavit attesting to the availability of a permanent or leased parking space or facility specifically intended for the vehicle to be purchased.

Revilla’s SB 679 expanded the coverage to other traffic-prone areas, such Angeles, Bacolod, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, Naga and Olongapo.

But during the Senate hearing last October 8, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III already raised possible constitutionality issues that these bills might encounter, particularly the right to ownership and discrimination. “I would like to invite the lawyers’ association to look into the constitutional angle of this, if this is discriminatory or not,” he said. “From the very start, we are disqualifying a certain segment of society from owning motor vehicles.” 

So now, it boils down to this: individual rights versus public order and safety. 

Pimentel is probably worried that even if the bills are passed into law, their implementation would only be stopped once some groups have questioned its constitutionality before the Supreme Court, thus, putting the time and efforts of the lawmakers, as well as public funds, to waste.

Supreme Courts in different countries have had varied decisions when justices were faced with the task of weighing public order and safety versus individual rights.

In the United States, for example, the court has ruled in favor of protecting individual’s right to own guns against laws that sought to curtail it.

What happens now? 

We share the concern of Sen. Pimentel—we don’t want a law with good intentions to just go down the drain because of technicality or constitutionality issues. The lawmakers should do their homework. Consult all stakeholders, especially legal luminaries.

It’s easy to always side with the common good, or the public’s sake. But individuals have their rights too. 

Offhand, we can see some balancing acts happening; as the cliches goes: win-win solutions.

This is the beauty—or undoing—of a democratic society. 

Govt launches free wifi access program in 23 sites throughout the country

in Tabloid PH News
Govt launches free wifi access program in 23 sites throughout the country

The Duterte administration has taken the initial steps toward its promise of providing free wifi access throughout the country by 2022 with the rollout of 23 free public wifi stations on Tuesday (October 8).

Secretary Gregorio Honasan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said all the regions were represented in the simultaneous launch of the free public wifi access, which has speeds of up to 30 mbps.

These areas are: Dagupan City (Region 1); Tuguegarao City (Region 2); Mabalacat City (Region 3); Morong, Rizal (Region 4A); Victoria, Oriental Mindoro (Region 4B); Sorsogon and Camarines Sur (Region 5); Iloilo and Negros Occidental (Region 6); 

Cebu City (Region 7); Eastern Samar (Region 8); Zamboanga City (Region 9); Cagayan de Oro (Region 10); Davao City (Region 11); South Cotabato (Region 12); Agusan del Norte (Region 13); Cotabato City (BARMM); and Baguio City (CAR).

“The issue here is connectivity. Connectivity means getting access to data real-time. That is the beauty of technology today, because it’s almost free; it’s a global phenomenon,” Honasan said.

The target for the year, he added, is to put up 8,073 sites all over the country. When Duterte steps down from his post in 2022, the DICT should have already established free wifi access sites in 250,000 areas.

This is consistent with the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, or Republic Act 10929, which was signed by Duterte in 2017.

For next year, Honasan sought a budget of P36.3 billion, 88 percent higher than its allocation for the year. This, the former military official and senator, said will start turning into reality its plan of transforming the Philippines into a digital nation.

Aside from the government’s free wifi service, the telecommunication firms and several malls are also giving free wifi access in select areas.

“We’re applying the principle of convergence. All institutions, all agencies, and the principle of public-private partnership,” he said. “You connect government to other governments — domestic and global, you connect government to business, connect government to our citizens, and connect government to our armed men who are protecting this country.”

PMA cadets, officers charged with hazing, murder, torture by Dormitorio’s family

in News/Tabloid PH News
PMA cadets, officers charged with hazing, murder, torture by Dormitorio’s family
Image Credit: PMA / FB

Multiple charges in relation to the anti-hazing law have been filed against Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets and five military officers who were implicated in the hazing to death of plebe Darwin Dormitorio.

Now facing murder, torture and hazing charges are 1st class cadet Axl Rey Sanopao, 2nd class cadet Christian Zacarias, and 3rd class cadets Shalimar Imperial Jr., Felix Lumbag Jr., Julius Carlo Tadena, Rey David John Volante, and John Vincent Manalo.

Tactical officers Maj. Rex Bolo and Capt. Jeffrey Batistiana, as well as doctors Col. Cesar Candelaria, Capt. Apple Apostol and Maj. Ofelia Beloy, were also named in the charge sheet.

The family of Dormitorio filed the case on Tuesday (October 8) before the Baguio City Prosecutor’s Office. The relatives of the PMA cadet are also

mulling over the possibility of including former PMA commandant Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro in the complaint.

The charges are in relation to the anti-hazing law, or Republic Act (RA) 8049 and the anti-torture act, or RA 9745.

Investigations revealed the horrors surrounding the hazing to death of Dormitorio, who was confined several times at the PMA Hospital due to multiple injuries.

The victim’s brother, Dexter, earlier disclosed that they have hired a private lawyer to help ensure an airtight case.

“We have to finalize the paperwork, as much as possible we want it to be very complete. Hindi kami magpapasa ng hindi pulido na kaso (We will not file a case that is not well-polished), [it should be] as airtight as possible,” Dexter said.

Lawyer Jose Adrian Bonifacio, private counsel for the Dormitorios, said they are meeting with the police to make sure that documents and other pieces of evidence are well taken into account in the case.

“The purpose of this meeting is to consolidate everything to make sure that all pieces of evidence are at hand and that the proper charges will be well defined. We do not want to file a case that will just be dismissed. It’s a very complicated case so we really need to piece together all of the angles in this case,” Bonifacio said.

Based on the timeline presented by the BCPO, Dormitorio’s ordeal in the hands of his tormentors started as early as August 19. He was punched, kicked, and electrocuted by several persons.

On September 18, Darwin was found inside his room at the PMA unconscious by fellow cadets and was brought to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

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