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philippines

Duterte: Every Filipino is a soldier in war against coronavirus

in News/Tabloid PH News

In expanding and enhancing the community quarantine to cover the entire Luzon starting Tuesday (March 17), President Duterte rallied every Filipino in the war against the “invisible enemy” known as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“We are in a fight against this vicious and invisible enemy. In this war, we are all soldiers, bata lalaki, bawat Pilipino ano mang estado sa buhay ay maituturing na sundalo sa laban na ito,” Duterte said in his address to the nation as he announced his decision to lock down the entire Luzon.

Duterte assured this is not leading to a Martial Law.

“Let me make this clear, this is not Martial Law. Under the Constitution Martial Law is declared when there is invasion rebellion or if public safety requires it.  Huwag kayong matakot, walang magdi-display ng baril dyan, except the armed forces and police,” Duterte stressed.

The enhanced community entails the closure of almost all establishments and ban on public transport in Luzon for the duration of the quarantine to control the movement of people, and subsequently the spread of the contagion.

Households should be confined to their respective homes.

“Ang general rule ay stay at home. If you leave your home to buy necessities, only one person ang puwede bumili, hindi puwede isama ang buong pamilya,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said .

These are the only establishments that will be allowed to operate: public markets, supermarket, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water, and telecommunications supplies and facilities.

Restaurants will be allowed to operate if they have delivery services. 

For those who can’t afford to buy food and other supplies, the national and local governments, though the barangays, will deliver their needs to them.

Duterte: Next PH president should be ready to kill or be killed for country

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte just raised the minimum qualifications for politicians who will be seeking his endorsement in the next presidential election in May 2022.

Duterte, speaking at an event in Malacanang on Tuesday (March 3), said only those who are willing to kill and be killed for the sake of the country have the right to succeed him in 2022.

The President stressed: “Sa totoo lang presidente, ka at hindi ka marunong pumatay at takot ka pumatay, eh wag ka na maging presidente. Walang mangyayari sa bayan kung puro utos ka lang.” 

Because of this, Duterte said he is starting to doubt that someone has these qualifications among the current breed of politicians in the country.

“We’re getting old and the young are there. Wala pa akong nakitang new crop of politicians dito sa ating bayan. Frankly, wala akong nakita na pwede talagang maging presidente,” the Chief Executive said.

Duterte is known globally for his bloody war against illegal drugs, his flagship program and top campaign promise. He has repeatedly threatened to eliminate drug pushers, which was often realized owing to the thousands of drug peddlers that were killed during police operations. There were also rumors that Duterte has his own death squad that liquidates drug pushers.

“Ikaw na ang gumawa para ikaw talaga ang bida,” Duterte said.

This does not mean that Duterte also does not see his daughter, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, as a worthy successor. This is because Duterte has been saying he does not want her daughter to run for president.

Despite this, experts are saying that Sara will most likely succeed her father if she opts to run for president in 2022.

OPINION: Humility produces instant results

in Editorial/News/Tabloid PH News

Even a giant should practice humility.

This was probably the lesson learned by ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ broadcast giant, as the company’s management finally opted to apologize to President Duterte instead of playing hardball with the Chief Executive that has already jeopardized the network’s very existence.

During the Senate hearing on the Kapamilya network’s franchise renewal last Monday (February 24), ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak aired the company’s apology to Duterte. He said: “We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network.” 

The display of humility produced instant results, based on the reactions from people close to the Chief Executive. 

Senator Ronald dela Rosa said he was already “one step closer” to supporting ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. Senator Bong Go said he was willing to talk Duterte into forgiving ABS-CBN and supporting a fresh franchise for the network. 

Then came the statement from the President himself that he has accepted the network’s apology, although he is still letting Congress decide on the renewal. 

The best statement of support that ABS-CBN got, however, was from Duterte’s favorite daughter, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is being touted as the likely successor of Duterte in 2022.

She said: ”Davao City fully supports ABS-CBN sa kanilang pagpapa-renew ng kanilang franchise. Of course malaki din ang suporta ng ABS-CBN sa Davao City at sa buong bansa…Hopefully ma-resolve in a very positive way ang issue ng franchise ng ABS-CBN…Of course, alam niyo si President Duterte, maawain ‘yan na tao. Iniisip din niya ‘yung trabaho ng maraming employees ng ABS-CBN.”

At the House of Representatives, the committee that has shown reluctance in acting on the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bills just directed the National Telecommunications Commission to give the network a provisional authority to operate effective May 4, or the day when its franchise would expire if still not renewed by Congress.

With all these developments, it is now hoped that the words are turned into action and the goodwill reciprocated.

President Duterte and his supporters have repeatedly said that ABS-CBN has shown bias in its reporting on numerous occasions, and evidently slanting its stories against the Duterte administration.

But Katigbak said: “Today, we want to make a categorical statement together with our chairman Mark Lopez that ABS-CBN does not and will not have its own political agenda.” It is high time that the network translated this into action via its reporting. 

With the crises—both manmade and natural—faced by the country today, Filipinos don’t need the kind of reporting that only fans division among the people. ABS-CBN should prove that it is really not allowing any political camp or group to advance its interest through its reporting.

ABS-CBN can always exercise its freedom of the press and expression, but not in a manner that is obviously slanted toward an agenda.

This doesn’t mean the network will now just turn a blind eye to wrongdoings or inaction on the part of the government. But these reports should be based on facts and balanced, not just focusing on the allegations of one side.

Of course, those in the political opposition and the leftist groups wouldn’t like this idea. Surely, Duterte and ABS-CBN patching up their differences would bring frowns to their faces. Leave them be. 

Just imagine the country’s largest broadcast network working together with a President that has an approval rating of 87 percent. This should do wonders in calling Filipinos into collective action in tackling the crises being faced by the country today.

Filipinos rush to buy face masks while calls for ban on Chinese entry to PH mount after first nCoV case

in News/Tabloid PH News

Filipinos panicked after hearing the official news from the Department of Health (DOH) of the first confirmed novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) case in the country, with videos proliferating on social media showing long queues of people buying face masks in drugstores.

Also, calls to temporarily ban people traveling from China reverberated, with some again using this development to criticize the Duterte administration for not immediately imposing the travel ban after news of the spread of 2019-nCoV broke out.

In a statement, Senator Ralph Recto said: “I think it is time to put a temporary ‘do not enter’ sign on our doorstep for visitors from China.” The Senate President Pro Tempore added: “Let us explain to them that we are not permanently closing our doors. This is not a permanent Great Wall. This is only during the duration of the coronavirus crisis.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the travel ban must firmly include both air and sea travel to prevent a local outbreak. “This includes a temporary ban on all cruise ships from docking at any of our ports.”

Senator Bong Go, President Duterte’s former special assistant, supported the call.

Before this, the DOH said there is still no need to prevent the entry of Chinese to the country, as this may strain the Manila-Beijing diplomatic relations. Now, this pronouncement is being used by Duterte bashers to criticize the government.

On Thursday afternoon (January 30), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that a 38-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan, China has been confirmed to be positive for 2019-nCoV. She arrived in the Philippines via Hongkong on January 21 and admitted in public on January 25 after experiencing a mild cough. The woman did not show other signs of illnesses.

Duque’s announcement read: ”I assure the public that the DOH is on top of this evolving situation. We were able to detect the first confirmed case because of our strong surveillance system, close coordination with the World Health Organization and other national agencies.”

“We are working closely with the hospital where the patient is admitted and have activated the incident command system of the said hospital for appropriate management specifically on infection control, case management and containment. We are also implementing measures to protect the health staff providing care to these patients.”

The DOH is now in the midst of contact tracing to know where the Chinese woman went in the country and who she can in contact with. It has been reported that she went to Cebu and Dumaguete.

Undersecretary Eric Domingo, the DOH spokesman, said she was brought to a hospital in Manila.

Just an hour after the DOH confirmation of the first 2019-nCoV case here, Filipinos started lining up in drugstores to buy face masks. This was shown in videos posted on Twitter by Raffy Tima and Miranda de Quiros taken in Manila and Quezon City, respectively.

Road fissure caused by volcanic tremors destroys homes in a town near Taal Volcano

in News/Tabloid PH News

The frequent tremors caused by the Taal Volcano activity have caused a 3-kilometer fissure on a road in the nearby town of Lemery, Batangas, destroying around 20 houses and triggering fears among residents that it could be an active fault line.

Teresa Atienza, village leader of Barangay Sinisian, said the crack originated from the Taal Lake and had since branched into several small fissures since it was first noticed in the morning of January 13, or just hours after Taal Volcano erupted on Sunday (January 12).

“Ako po ay natatakot na baka isa itong fault line…ako po ay humihingi ng tulong sa mga expert para malaman kung ano talaga ang dahlian ng pagbitak na ito,” Atienza said in an interview over radio station DZMM.

Lemery is only about 12 kilometers away from Taal. 

Atienza said residents of the damaged houses have been relocated. They were advised not to return to their homes as the structures are no longer safe due to the continuous quakes in the area.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said around 200 tremors of below Intensity 5 have been recorded since Taal Volcano heightened its activity.

Taal Volcano’s condition remains on Alert Level 4, which means a destructive eruption can happen within hours.

Atienza said the fissure, reminiscent of scenes in the 2009 movie “2012” when cracks started to appear on Los Angeles roads before it was totally obliterated from the map, could reach as far as the city of Muntinlupa in Metro Manila, where there is an existing fault line.

The whole province of Batangas is now under a state of calamity, with more than 16,000 people already evacuated from areas within the danger zone as of the afternoon of January 14.

EDITORIAL: Does US Senate Resolution 142 carry weight?

in Editorial/News/Tabloid PH News

Does Resolution 142 passed by the US Senate (or S.Res. 142) carry weight? In Washington, maybe; but in Manila, especially under a maverick Chief Executive like Rodrigo R. Duterte, nada.

The world knows that the Philippines gained its complete independence from America in 1946 through the “Tydings–McDuffie Act”, or the Philippine Independence Act, signed by President Harry S. Truman.

This means that for the Philippines, S.R. 142 should be nothing but an expression of the sense of the US Senate regarding the detention of Senator Leila de Lima, the oft-criticized bloody war against illegal drugs launched by the Duterte administration, and the perceived muzzling of critical press and political opposition in the country.

S.R 142, titled “Condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other purposes”, calls on the Philippine government to immediately release de Lima, “drop all charges against her, remove restrictions on her personal and work conditions, and allow her to fully discharge her legislative mandate, especially as Chair of the Committee on Social Justice.”

It also urges the government of the Philippines to “guarantee the right to the freedom of the press, and to drop all the charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler.” The resolution also calls on the President of the United States to impose sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (subtitle F of title XII of Public Law 114–32822 U.S.C. 2656 note) with respect to—

(A) members of the security forces and officials of the Government of the Philippines responsible for extrajudicial killings; and

(B) officials of the Government of the Philippines responsible for orchestrating the arrest and prolonged detention of Senator De Lima.

There is no way Malacanang would heed these calls of the US Senate. President Duterte had declared too many times that he wouldn’t mind losing the support of Washington and would prefer to be an ally of Beijing.

Not only that, Malacanang had repeatedly said also that the case of de Lima is now in the hands of the Judiciary. Any intervention on the case of de Lima from the Executive Branch, as what S.R. 142 is demanding, would prove the claims that— as mentioned in the resolution— “indeed, she has been the target of partisan persecution”.

President Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, in response to S. R. 142, said de Lima and Ressa “have been criminally charged in accordance with the law. They have availed – and are still availing – of legal remedies for their defense.”

So let the wheels of justice grind. If the prosecution couldn’t prove the guilt of both de Lima and Ressa, they would be freed in due time—with or without S.R. 142. The Philippines is an independent country with an independent judicial system. S.R. 142 should not carry any weight in their cases. Otherwise, the resolution would just be contradicting itself.

As 30th SEA Games nears, let us put aside politics and ‘We Win As One’

in Editorial/News/Tabloid PH News

The Philippines, it seems, has already lost in the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) even before Filipino athletes could compete.

With politics again rearing its ugly head just days before the opening ceremonies on November 30, the Philippines already earned a “zero” scorecard as far as the 2019 SEAG theme is concerned—We Win As One!

Clearly, even an important event that we are hosting couldn’t zip the mouths of our politicians. Every “wise” word they say only further divides the nation, which should not be the case now. 

Can there be a political ceasefire for at least a few weeks?

In support of the Filipino athletes and in the spirit of the Game’s theme, local politicians should have opted to keep their mouths shut first and refrain from grandstanding until after the conclusion of the 30th edition of the biennial meet. That is only until December 11. But no, they just can’t.

Just because of a cauldron—be it overpriced, extravagant or a worthy work or art—focus was shifted to political bickering instead of boosting the morale of the athletes.

We commend Senator Sonny Angara for urging politicians to suspend the debates over the SEAG-related expenses, especially the P50-million cauldron. We also agree with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that this matter should be better looked into right after the SEAG.

However, the damage has been done, obviously. The time spent debating over a cauldron should have been devoted by the opposition and administration in working together to address the needs of Filipino athletes. The issue obviously just distracted the athletes and the Filipino people. It was just another issue that divided the nation ahead of the SEA Games.

Seeing the political leaders working as one would have also united Filipinos so we could cheer as one for our athletes. It would have also united Filipinos in ensuring quality hosting by the Philippines. 

With just a few days before the opening of the games, we hope our politicians will listen to sound advice. Instead of debating, let’s us rally Filipinos to supporting our athletes in each game they will be competing in. Let us urge Filipinos to be good hosts to our neighbors, and let them experience the kind of hospitality that we are known for all over the world.

Putting politics aside, let’s cheer as one, and hopefully, we will also win one as one, at least in the 30th SEA Games.

Robredo to reveal all she discovered about Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs

in News/Tabloid PH News

If the Duterte administration believes that it has seen the last of Vice President Leni Robredo in the campaign against illegal drugs, it is mistaken.

Robredo, just a day removed from her former post as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), said on Monday (November 25) that she will reveal everything that she knew about Duterte’s flagship program in her brief stint at the agency. 

“Kung sa tingin nila, matatapos ito dito, hindi nila ako kilala. Nagsisimula pa lang ako,” Robredo said, as she threatened to expose all the things she discovered in the coming days.

She also vowed to continue her crusade to bring to justice all those who abused their authority in the administration’s bloody war against narcotics.”Kahit tinanggalan ako ng posisyon, hinding-hindi nila kayang tanggalin ang aking determinasyon — determinasyong itigil ang patayan, determinasyong panagutin ang kailangan managot at ipanalo ang kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga.”

Robredo earned the ire of President Duterte over reports that she was conferring with and inviting foreign governments and organizations to help in the war against illegal drugs. These include the United Nations, whose Human Rights Council wants to try Duterte for alleged crimes against humanity.

Robredo denied doing this, saying the President should not believe in “fake news”. Still Duterte decided to remove her from ICAD after just 18 days of leading the agency.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Robredo was just using ICAD for grandstanding.

Robredo said when she accepted the post, she already asked what the Duterte administration does not want the public to know about the anti-drug war.

“Noong tinanggap ko ang trabahong ito, ang una kong tinanong sa kanila ay, handa na ba kayo sa akin. Ngayon, ang tanong ko, ano bang kinatatakutan n’yo?” she asked.”Ano bang kinatatakutan n’yo na malaman ko? Ano bang kinatatakutan n’yo na malaman ng taumbayan?”

Aside from revealing what she discovered, Robredo said she will also report to the public her recommendations to reform the anti-narcotics campaign.

DOH, FDA raring to implement Duterte’s policy pronouncement on vaping ban

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Department of Health (DOH) welcomed the policy pronouncement of President Duterte banning vaping in public places.

Health Undersecretary Dr. Rolando Enrique Domingo said they will now wait for the executive order (EO) to be issued by the Office of the President to determine how it would be properly implemented.

“Very clear yung words ng Presidente, kung saan bawal magsigarilyo, bawal din mag-vape,” Domingo said.

For the enforcement side, Domingo said the DOH will coordinate with the police and the local government units.

As for the ban, the DOH will be working with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Domingo is also the officer in charge of the FDA.

Domingo said the DOH already released last August an administrative order (AO) tasking the FDA to regulate the sale of vapes. However, sellers managed to secure temporary restraining orders from two regional trial courts against the AO. 

“Because of the TRO, we had to put the regulation on hold; but we are fighting for it. So now they can continue selling vapes unregulated. But when we see the actual EO of the President, we will work on that immediately,” Domingo said.

He stressed that they would not just accept the argument that vaping is less harmful than cigarette smoking. “Even if you say it is less harmful, still it is harmful, and we need further studies on that.”

He recalled that some 40 years ago, regulators were saying that “cigarette smoking may be harmful to your health.” Now, it has confirmed that smoking really kills. “So we should not wait for another 40 years to say that vaping can really kill people,” he said.

EDITORIAL: Socioeconomic cost more compelling reason to raise liquor taxes than revenue generation

in Editorial/News/Tabloid PH News

When you buy beer, gin, whiskey or wine in the coming months and find them more expensive, it’s because you’re probably a wife-beater when you are drunk, you drink and drive, you turn violent after a drinking bout, or you have diseases caused by alcoholic drinks like liver cirrhosis that burden public health care.

These are referred to as the socioeconomic costs of drinking alcoholic beverages and the main arguments of the proponents of bills seeking to increase the so-called “sin taxes” anew.

Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the upper chamber’s ways and means committee, is certainly aware that using revenue generation as a reason for another round of tax hikes on alcoholic drinks will not be enough to muster support both from her fellow lawmakers and the public for her proposed measure.

Higher tax rates

Senate Bill (SB) No. 1074, introduced in the Senate plenary by Cayetano, is estimated to generate P45.7 billion in additional tax revenues on Year 1 of implementation alone. This is by imposing on distilled spirits an ad valorem tax of 20 percent on the net retail price per proof and a specific tax of P90 per proof liter on the first year of its implementation, which will be increased by P10 every year until the fourth year. The specific tax rate will increase by 10 percent every year thereafter.

For fermented liquor (beer) and alcopops, SB 1074 seeks a specific tax rate of P45 per liter on Year 1, increasing by P10 every year until Year 4. The specific tax rate will increase by 10 percent every year thereafter. Wine products will be slapped with a specific tax of P600 per liter for sparkling wines and P43 per liter for still and carbonated wines. These rates will increase by 10 percent every year thereafter.

Revenue-leakage argument

Why revenue generation would never fly, even if it’s to the tune of P45.7 billion that will be funneled to the Universal Health Care (UHC) budget? It’s because lobbyists for the makers and distributors of alcoholic drinks will only throw back the issue of revenue leakage to the government.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), for instance, is saying that revenue losses caused by unabated smuggling alone are estimated at P250 billion annually. This is already more than five times the estimated revenues to be generated by the proposed higher taxes on alcoholic beverages. So why raise taxes that would surely hurt the industry and its workers when all the government needs is a better scheme to stop smuggling? 

That’s a tough argument to beat, right? Yes, and Cayetano, the Department of Finance (DOF) and supporters of SB 1074 are aware of that.

This is why they are now putting more emphasis on the socioeconomic costs of drinking alcoholic beverages. The equation is simple: higher taxes would lead to more expensive alcoholic drinks, resulting in less consumption and subsequently less socioeconomic costs.

The ‘moral issue’

As pointed out by Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua of the Strategy, Economics, and Results Group: “We are one with Senator Cayetano in her push for significantly higher rates in alcohol excise taxes. Her analysis is correct that beyond the personal health costs, the socioeconomic costs of alcohol need to be mitigated. The massive economic costs of alcohol abuse justify significantly higher rates. For behavior to change meaningfully, the tax rates have to be high enough.” 

In her sponsorship speech for SB 1074, Cayetano said: “The moral sense of any proposed ‘sin’ tax rate is that it should serve as a deterrent to drinking. It should not be so cheap as to allow minors to afford and have access to these drinks. It should not be so cheap to make it easier for drunk fathers to be wife-beaters, and for traumatized children to lead miserable lives.”

SB 1074 represents Package 2 Plus of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP). The House of Representatives has approved its counterpart version of this bill last Aug. 20, with an overwhelming 184 votes in favor.

The socioeconomic costs

Cayetano noted that Filipinos are now the top consumers of distilled spirits globally at 11 liters per capita, higher than the global and ASEAN averages of below 10 liters.

Dr. Orlando Ocampo of the Trauma Division of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) said 55 percent of the injured patients” treated in the PGH emergency room “have alcohol on their breath. 25 percent of these injured patients are blood alcohol content positive”.

The Department of Health (DOH) estimates that there has been a total of 10,372 road crashes resulting from alcohol consumption.

Cayetano said alcoholism is associated with at least 39 main diseases, including liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatic disease, hypertensive disease, tuberculosis, diabetes, and even behavioral and psychotic disorders.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) also showed that in 2016; 4,431 per 100,000 population of Filipinos died from liver cirrhosis; 16,418 from hypertensive diseases; and 8,526 from tuberculosis–all of which were due to excessive use of alcohol, Cayetano said.

Also, Cayetano stressed that “when heavy drinking is involved, severe physical violence is more likely to take place. Studies found alcohol misuse to be a significant contributor to family violence.”

Preliminary estimates from the DOF indicate that alcohol may have an economic cost of as much as 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (estimated at $331 billion in 2018), equivalent to about a third of the country’s annual health expenditure. That 1.7 percent of GDP is around P281 billion, quite a public burden indeed.

Surely, raising the taxes on alcoholic drinks will hurt the local producers and distributors, and subsequently their employees if lower consumption would lead to retrenchment. But as what President Duterte has pointed out numerous times, we should be looking at the greater good, the benefits to the economy and public as a whole, and not just of a few groups.

When Congress resumes sessions on November 4, we push for the passage of SB 1074.

Philippines now sourcing illegal drugs mostly from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, not China

in News/Tabloid PH News

Filipino drug traffickers are now getting their supply mostly from Southeast Asian countries Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

This was disclosed by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino, who is also the co-chair of President Duterte’s Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

“In the past mostly are coming from China but not now. Most are coming from the Golden Triangle region which borders Laos, Thailand and Myanmar,” Aquino said in an interview with GMA News on Friday (November 15).

This contradicts the statement of Vice President Leni Robredo, Aquino’s co-chair at ICAD.

Robredo earlier said that traffickers of illegal drugs are buying mostly from China. “Gusto kong kumalap ng mas maraming datos, pero iyong pinaka-report sa atin ngayon, karamihan ng mga pumapasok na supply ng [iligal na droga] rito, galing China. ‘Yung mga nahuhuling nago-operate, napakarami ring Chinese nationals or Filipino Chinese,” Robredo, who was appointed by Duterte as the country’s new anti-drug czar said.

But Aquino clarified that this was an old news, and that this information did not come from ICAD. “Maybe may iba siyang (Robredo) source na nagsabi drugs are mostly coming from China. That information did not come from ICAD.”

Based on latest ICAD information, Aquino disclosed that the main source of cocaine is South America, particularly Colombia and Peru.

Ecstasy, on the other hand, is mostly coming from Netherlands.

Robredo just met with ICAD members, including representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police, where she reiterated the need to revise the government’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs. “I reiterated my suggestion for them to rethink the campaign, especially Tokhang. They agreed and they promised to assess and come up… with an improved version of what we already have.”

She added: “In fact, it is now used as a verb. When you say na-tokhang, it does not have a good connotation.”

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

in News/Tabloid PH News

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.

Philippines eyes safeguard measure in curbing influx of imported rice

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Philippines is now looking at the possibility of using a trade remedy available to World Trade Organization (WTO) members in stopping the downtrend in rice prices that has been hurting Filipino farmers since the Rice Tariffication Law was implemented. 

In an advisory of the WTO, the multilateral trading body said the Philippines has initiated last September 11 a preliminary safeguard investigation on rice.

Manila notified the WTO Committee on Safeguard of its action last September 13.

“[I]interested parties are requested to submit their comments and position on this matter thru the Policy Research Service (PRS), 3rd Floor, Department of Agriculture, Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, 1100, within five (5) days from the date of publication of this notice. For inquiries and other details, please contact the PRS at tel. nos. (02) 926-7439, 920-4084 or at fax no. 928-9590 an email address: [email protected],” the WTO said in its advisory.

A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or is threatening to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry. During a safeguard investigation, importers, exporters and other interested parties may present evidence and views and respond to the presentations of other parties.

A WTO member may take a safeguard action (i.e. restrict imports of a product temporarily) only if the increased imports of the product are found to be causing, or threatening to cause, serious injury.

The latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed said rice prices in the country have dropped by an average of 5.2 percent in August 2019 compared to the same month last year. This was the fourth consecutive month of deflation for rice.

The record-low inflation rate was largely due to the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law, or Republic Act (RA) 11203. The new policy replaced the quantitative restriction scheme in the importation of rice.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the former chief of the DA,  said the massive inflow of imported rice “has boxed out local farmers producing ordinary rice from the market resulting in very low farm gate prices, to as low as P10 to P12 in many parts in Mindanao.”

Duterte to cops: Accept gifts from grateful people

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte is allowing policemen to accept gifts—be they in cash or in kind—from people recognizing their efforts without fear of being charged with graft.

“Especially if you’re a policeman, if you’re able to solve a crime, and the family would like to be generous to you, or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplished, then by all means, accept it,” Duterte said in his address at the 118th Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Service Anniversary on Friday (August 9).

Duterte stressed that he does not see the logic in the provisions of the anti-graft law barring policemen from accepting gifts given out of generosity or gratitude.

What he does not allow, the Chief Executive stressed, is for uniformed men to become greedy and engage in corruption by demanding more than what was given to them. 

“If you are just content of, maybe you want ₱50,000 and you’re able to get something like ₱25,000 or ₱20,000, be content. Do not allow your greed to run away with all the alam mo na, kalokohan.”

This is still consistent with his pronouncement in his last State of the Nation Address, where he encouraged the public to create a scene when a government employee would demand bribes from them.

Duterte is known for thinking—and acting—outside the box, and is brazen enough to challenge conventional governance to accomplish his goals through his political will.

He assured the policemen that he will not sanction those that will accept gifts from generous people recognizing their efforts because it is not bribery. 

“It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law,” said Duterte, who previously worked as a prosecutor.

‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ airs 1,000th episode

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz

The Philippines’s top primetime TV series “FPJ’s Ang Pobinsyano” starring Coco Martin just aired its 1,000th episode on Thursday night (August 8).

The series, based on the hit movie of the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) in 1997, has been the top draw of ABS-CBN Channel 2 since its first episode aired on September 28, 2015.

The lead character, Ricardo Dalisay (played by Coco Martin), a provincial cop who transferred to the metropolis, has faced many villains in the series, from syndicates to rebels, terrorists and corrupt politicians.

It has featured budding and veteran artists, including action star-turned-politician Lito Lapid, who managed to win another senatorial seat in the May 2019 midterm elections.

Coco Martin, prior to the showing of the 1,000th episode of “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano”, thanked the fans and all those responsible for the success of the series in a video posted on the ABS-CBN website. 

He said: ”Sa lahat po ng hanggang ngayon ay sumusubaybay at nanonood po ng ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa inyo. Sa lahat po ng staff, crew at sa lahat po ng artista, sa lahat po ng bumubuo ng ‘Ang Probinsyano’, maraming, maraming salamat po sa walang sawang pagmamahal at suportang ibinibigay niyo sa amin gabi-gabi. Kaya pilit po naming pinagbubuti at pinapaganda ang bawat episode para matumbasan po namin ang pagmamahal na ibinibigay niyo. Maraming, maraming salamat po.” 

Veteran actress Susan Roces, widow of FPJ and grandmother of Ricardo Dalisay in the TV series, also thanked the fans for their continuing support: “Mga ka-Probinsyano, kayo ang nagsisilbing inspirasyon sa aming mga ginagawa dito. Kahit anong pagod namin sulit na sulit. Maraming maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.”

Rumored Bea-Gerald-Julia love triangle now a ‘national issue

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz

Even a justice of the Supreme Court (SC) and a lawmaker couldn’t resist the itch of sharing their thoughts on the Bea Alonzo-Julia Barreto rift via the social media on Wednesday morning.

image credit: Supreme court of the Philippines

SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s tweet on Wednesday morning directed a question on the two actresses: “Dear Bea and Julia, is he really worth it? #JustAsking”.

Justice Leonen, of course, was referring to Gerald Anderson, who was accused by Bea—not yet directly though—in her social media posts of having an affair with Julia that led to their breakup.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon then re-tweeted Leonen’s “query” and commented: “You know it has become a national issue when a justice of the SC asks a clarificatory question. Now I’m contemplating to file an inquiry in aid of legislation.”

Gerald already denied in an interview with ABS-CBN last Monday the innuendos of a third party—particularly Julia—causing his split-up with Bea.

But as a retort, Bea “liked” an instagram post of actor John Lloyd Cruz that says: “Kung magsisinungaling ka galing galingan mo!!” Apparently, Bea was sending the message that Gerald was lying.

Julia also went to Instagram to deny involvement with Gerald and also to tell Bea that she became a subject of social media attacks because of hints that she was the third party in the love triangle.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B00YJoJp58G/

She said: “I would like to disassociate myself from the breakup of Bea and Gerald. Their issues are entirely their own…Bea, you kept your hands clean by not mentioning me in your controversial post, but with a click of your finger, in your sly way, you have charged everybody to destroy me FOR YOU. You have encouraged a culture of hate by purposely liking harmless photos, putting malice into the minds of many, which resulted in the outrage of insults against me. You are a woman of great influence and following. You could have used that power to promote strength and grace in women, but instead, you’ve used that to promote social media irresponsibility. That is downright bullying. You can play victim all you want. But I refuse to be your victim…This is me setting myself free and getting my soul back.”

Their showbiz friends and family were also dragged into the social media rampage, with Bela Padilla getting “super hateful” comments after a picture of her having dinner with Bea came out.

The root of the feud was a video that circulated wherein Julia and Gerald were seen together.

Now, the names Julia, Bea Alonzo and Gerald are trending topics on Twitter worldwide. And with top government officials now also saying their piece on the matter, it has indeed become a national issue.

86% of Pinoys say sweep of admin bets in 2019 senatorial polls ‘believable’

in News/Tabloid PH News

The 12-0 sweep of senatorial candidates allied to President Duterte in the May 2019 polls has been accepted by nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos to be “believable”, according to the post-election survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS).

The survey, conducted from June 22 to 26 with 1,200 respondents nationwide, revealed that 86 percent of Filipinos do not doubt the resounding victory of the administration-endorsed bets in the midterm polls, which analysts say reflects the continuing strong support being enjoyed by Duterte from his countrymen.

Cynthia Villar topped the senatorial race with 25,273,727 votes, followed by Grace Poe, 22,029,788; Christopher “Bong” Go, 20,657,702; Pia Cayetano, 19,789,019; Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, 19,004,225; Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, 18,161,862; Lito Lapid, 16,965,464; Imee Marcos, 15,882,628; Francis Tolentino, 15,510,026; Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, 14,668,665; Ramon “Bong” Revilla, 14,624,445, and Nancy Binay, 14,504,936.

The SWS survey also showed the 88 percent of Filipinos accept the election results for the House of Representatives, 84 percent for governors and 89 for mayors.

Overall, 80 percent were satisfied with the conduct of the May 2019 elections, with only 12 percent dissatisfied and 7 percent undecided.

The SWS classified the +68 net satisfaction score as “very good”, although it was 5 percentage points lower than the net satisfaction score recorded in the post-election survey for the May 2016 national polls, where Duterte emerged as the landslide winner in the presidential race. 

Even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) received a good review in the survey, with 79 percent of the respondents saying the polling body “performed independently without favoring any candidate or group.” Only 10 percent disagreed that Comelec conducted the May 2019 elections independently.

Reports confirm John Lloyd Cruz – Ellen Adarna split-up

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz

Showbiz reports are abuzz with the breakup of John Lloyd Cruz and Ellen Adarna. The two have a one-year-old son who is now with Ellen.

It was Ellen who told John Lloyd that she is no longer in love with him, and reports said the actor is now barred from meeting the former sexy actress, who belongs to a wealthy family in Cebu.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwrW-tyHaFw/

John Lloyd is now reportedly in Vietnam, while Ellen is in Thailand.

Two days ago, the news on their breakup was only in the form of blind items. Now, showbiz writers are openly writing about it, and even confirming that it was Ellen who called it quits.

Ellen reportedly revealed her feelings to her friends first, and then people started hearing about it through the grapevine.

It was a pity for John Lloyd, who opted to stay away from showbiz to focus on his relationship with Ellen and their son. But being together a lot—because both of them don’t work—was also cited as one of the reasons for their split-up. Ellen probably grew tired of it, or was just too bored already to keep the relationship.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw3bNeUFffq/

Will John Lloyd make an immediate comeback to the film industry? This could be a good timing because his love interest in past movies, Bea Alonzo, also just parted ways with Gerald Anderson. 

The Bea-Gerald breakup was actually the talk of the town in the previous days — the reason being their frequent fights. 

Seems like a good plot already for a John Lloyd-Bea movie.

Declaration of ‘national dengue epidemic’ likely

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Department of Health (DOH) has set a meeting today to validate figures that will be used as basis in upgrading the current “national dengue alert” to a “national dengue epidemic” to enable the government to better mobilize resources in preventing the further spread of the deadly disease.

Interviewed at the ABS-CBN News Channel, DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said they are now getting all the data from the previous weeks. They have found out that in just a span of one week—or in the third week of July—there were 10,000 cases of dengue reported.

Current estimated cases of dengue nationwide have reached 146,000 already.

Last July 15, Health Secretary Francisco Duque declared a national dengue alert. Data reaching Duque that time showed the dengue cases had risen to 106,630 from January 1 to June 29, 2019, from only 57,564 cases in the same period last year. Regions Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao had exceeded the epidemic threshold. Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera Administrative Region, on the other hand, exceeded the alert threshold.

Today, Domingo said more regions exceeded the epidemic threshold, including Calabrazon, Bicol and Eastern Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula. Bordering between alert and epidemic levels are Ilocos region, Central Visayas and BARMM.

A national epidemic can be declared if at least half of the country’s regions have reached the epidemic level.

“We are going to consolidate all the data today and have a meeting at the department for that,” Domingo said. “Once we get all the information in, yes, it is very likely (that we will declare a national dengue epidemic).”

He noted that by declaring a national epidemic, government resources and instrumentalities will be mobilized further.

“We get to work with other govt agencies, the DILG, PNP, Department of Education, and tighten up our activities a little more and raise up the bar, because when we have these cases going on. we really have to do everything to make sure they don’t increase,” he added. “You can activate the NDRRMC and (have) all the government (agencies) working together for one particular activity, in this case, prevention of dengue.”

The problem, he said, will likely persist up to September due to the rainy season, noting that water that remained stagnant for three days is enough to breed mosquitoes. 

The best thing to do on the part of the public for now, Domingo added, is to ensure they maintain cleanliness in their surroundings, remove all stagnant water and have proper attire for kids. 

The hospitals are ready to treat patients suspected with dengue, especially those with continuous fever for three days.

“Hello, Love, Goodbye” earns P176.6M in 4 days

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz

As of August 3, or after four days of showing, the Alden Richards-Kathryn Bernardo romantic movie “Hello, Love, Goodbye” has already raked in over P176 million in cinema receipts, Star Cinema announced.

The movie is now being shown in 465 cinemas nationwide, a record in the Philippine showbiz industry.

Star Cinema shouted on its official website: “Hello, Love, Goodbye has earned P176,637,000.05 after just four days in cinemas!

The Cathy Garcia-Molina film has officially taken the country by storm, touching the lives and hearts of millions. It tells the story of Joy (Kathryn Bernardo), a millennial OFW who met Ethan (Alden Richards), a Pinoy bartender in Hong Kong. It was graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.”

It is now also on course of beating the all-time Philippine box office record of P900 million in gross earnings currently held by “The Hows Of Us”, which starred Kathryn and her boyfriend Daniel Padilla in 2018.

The strong showing of “Hello, Love, Goodbye” is being credited to the full support of the combined fandom of KathNiel, AlDub, GMA Kapuso and ABS-CBN Kapamilya, who braved the heavy rains caused by Hanging Habagat (southwest monsoon) just so they could see personally if the much-hyped on-screen chemistry between Kathryn and Alden is true. And they did not go home disappointed.

Entertainment columnists are now harping the possibility of another project of Alden and Star Cinema, with Bea Alonzo as the next leading lady.

Alden, himself, had said he wants to do a movie with Bea, and it seems Star Cinema will be granting his wish soon, especially with the good work ethic he displayed in the filming of “Hello, Love, Goodbye” even if he is from the rival network.

Villanuevas resurrect anti-endo measure

in News/Tabloid PH News

Senator Joel Villanueva and Party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva have resurrected the vetoed Security of Tenure Bill—also known as the anti-endo bill—in Congress, although the father-and-son tandem is seen to face an uphill battle as they are still pushing provisions already thumbed down by President Duterte.

Senator Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 806 while his father, who is now the representative of CIBAC Party-list, filed House Bill 3367, both seeking to end the practice of labor contracting, especially the so-called endo scheme where workers are being hired for only five months and then rehired for another five months to skirt the rules on regularization of employees.

President Duterte vetoed the original Security of Tenure Bill approved in the previous Congress as it “unduly broadens the scope and definition” of endo, in the process banning other forms of contractualization that give employers flexibility and do not necessarily harm employees.

“Indeed, while labor-only contracting must be prohibited, legitimate job-contracting should be allowed, provided that the contractor is well-capitalized,” the President said in his veto message.

With the bill approved in the previous Congress, it now needs to be refiled so changes can be introduced to it.

However, the younger Villanueva said the bill he filed “is exactly the same measure that was certified as a priority and urgent by the President.” The senator believes that Duterte was only misinformed when he vetoed the bill.

Rep. Villanueva, on the other hand, stressed that the bill is not anti-investors. His bill, the elder Villanueva said, seeks the creation of industry tripartite councils that will help determine which business operations will be allowed to hire workers on a contractual basis.

“The battle for decades of the working class to be freed from economic injustice was delayed but we will not stop until social justice is served and the rights of the people are honored. In the name of fairness and order in our business and labor sectors, and most of all, for the sake of our Filipino laborers who have been constantly living in fear of finding not just a new job but new means to support their families once their (supposedly illegal) contract ends, the passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” he said in his bill.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Department of Labor and Employment will be presenting its version of the bill to both houses of Congress for consideration.

What Duterte wants, he noted, is a balance between the welfare of workers and the interests of employers.  “He’s (Duterte) making a balancing act — weighing the interest of management and the working class… We have to educate ourselves, each one of us. Let us go for what is more beneficial to the country.”

Filipinos take a beating from Mother Nature

in News/Tabloid PH News

From monsoon rains to tornadoes and waves as big houses, Filipinos are taking a beating from nature’s wrath over the last 48 hours, with Tropical Depression Hanna seen to make weather conditions worse as it enhances southwest monsoon (Hanging Habagat).

On Saturday (August 3), around 150 houses were destroyed in coastal villages in Davao City after they were hit by waves as big as the structures themselves.

While no one was reported injured due to the preparedness measures instituted by the local government, the big waves displaced at least 357 families, according to reports. The big waves were triggered by the monsoon and are a yearly occurrence.

In Negros Occidental, some 50 houses were damaged by two tornadoes around 10:30 am on August 3. No one was reported injured by the tornadoes that hit the La Carlota City and the town of Pontevedra.

About an hour earlier, another tornado destroyed at least 11 houses and a public market in Lavezares town in Northern Samar. No one was also reported injured.

Rains, meanwhile, continue to batter most areas of the country on Sunday (August 4), with the trough of Tropical Depression Hanna and Hanging Habagat expected to bring more rain showers and thunderstorms.

Forecast track of Tropical Depression “Hanna” as of Issued at 11:00 am, 04 August 2019. Image from PAGASA

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) already warned the public of possible flashfloods and landslides.

The weather condition has forced authorities to cancel two flights from Busuanga, Palawan to Manila.

Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense reported that 17 fatalities have been confirmed and 14 passengers still missing in the twin sea tragedies in Guimaras Strait caused by the bad weather. At least 55 passengers were already rescued.

They were passengers of motorboats Chi-Chi and Keziah, which capsized around noon on Saturday due to strong gusts of wind.

Also on Saturday, MV Arikun, a cargo ship with Panamanian flag, ran aground in the waters off Lauis Ledge Light House. According to the Philippine Coast Gaurd, the vessel was carrying 4,210 tons of wheat with a total of 18 crew onboard.

Senators to start Philhealth probe even sans Duque

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Senators are bent on starting its probe on the reported multibillion-peso scam at the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) even if Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would not be able to attend the first hearing as he supervises efforts to address the dengue outbreak in the country.

Duque will be quizzed by members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for his alleged involvement in the overpayment of Philhealth benefits to hospitals and the reported dealings of his family-owned companies with Philhealth and the Department of Health (DOH)

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, said he wants hearings to start by Friday, with former officials of Philhealth and DOH already summoned to answer queries from the senators.

Gordon said they want to establish immediately how Philhealth funds are being managed and what led to the overpayment of benefits to hospitals that caused the state corporation to lose P154 billion.

In his State of the Nation Address last Monday, President Duterte said he already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to identify all the officials of public and private institutions involved in the hospital bogus claims. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, wants Duque to explain to the committee why the DOH and Philhealth had contracts with corporations owned by the Health secretary’s family.

Lacson, according to a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer,  criticized Duque for allowing Philhealth to lease a space in a family-owned building in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. The Duque-owned Doctors’ Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), meanwhile, supplied medicines to DOH. Lacson, the report added, also linked Duque to the reported overpayments of PhilHealth to private hospitals, including one supposedly owned by a godson of the health chief. 

These, Lacson said, constitute a conflict of interest. 

It was Lacson who exposed the bogus claims scam involving Philhealth and certain hospitals and clinics.

Duque has already informed the Blue Ribbon Committee that he is currently too preoccupied with the dengue outbreak and will not be able to attend the Senate probe.

Super pissed Duterte vows ‘more severe measures’ vs NPA

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Back in September 2018, President Duterte declared that he expects to end the war against communist rebels by the second quarter of 2019. Today, armed fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) continue to kill with impunity, and Duterte is so pissed off that he wants the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to go all out and give the rebels what they deserve.

“I will give you tit for tat; that’s what I told the military, give them what they deserve,” Duterte said on Friday. “You communists, you have crossed the red line. The countryside is infested with parasites like you.” 

When the President said last year that the war against CPP-NPA would end in 2019, he was basing his optimism on the big number of rebels who were surrendering to the government.

Chummy at first

He was actually welcoming communist leaders to his fold when he was elected president in 2016, mainly because he was mentored by CPP-NPA leader-en-exile Jose Maria Sison. 

He appointed several left-leaning figures to his Cabinet, including Judy Taguiwalo to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Rafael Mariano to the Department of Agrarian Reform, Liza Masa to the National Anti-Poverty Commission and Joel Maglunsod to the Department of Labor and Employment. 

But when verbal and armed attacks from the CPP-NPA did not stop, their relations turned south, and these leftists in government were fired by Duterte one by one. 

Duterte also stopped peace negotiations with CPP-NPA leaders and shifted to localized talks instead, something that the communist leaders did not like, leading to sporadic attacks in the provinces.

Negros killings

Over the last two weeks, Negros Oriental saw the impunity of communist insurgents, with about 14 civilian and government personnel killed.

“You are killing everybody there. Everyone that is anti-communist or does not want communism, you kill,” Duterte said on Friday in Davao City, where he led the Mindanao-wide distribution of land certificates to agrarian reform beneficiaries. “I will not take it sitting down. I told the military…do it to them also.”

The threat

He then repeated his threat that “a more severe measure” is forthcoming to end insurgency-related violence in the Philippines. “I’m telling you, I will implement a more severe measure. What is it? Hintay lang kayo (just wait). But you cannot do it unrestrained, unbridled, uncontrolled,” he added.

Again, he did not detail what he would do. 

His spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said there is a big possibility that Duterte would place Negros under Martial Law if the authorities in the province would still fail to contain the NPA rebels there.

Duterte also said he would be dispatching his “death squad” against communist insurgents. The President’s death squad, commonly known as “DDS” for Duterte Death Squad, is believed to behind the killings of drug suspects from the time he was the mayor of Davao City up to today.

‘Parasites’

The President said the presence of these communist rebels in the provinces has been holding back development in the countryside.

“The reason why we cannot develop fully is the countryside are — the countryside is infested with parasites like you. You do not work, you exact taxation…With the communist theories and your ideologies which is rotten already — it is a corrupt just like the ISIS, you fight, you kill,” he said.

“You know what you did in Negros, it did — is not just fighting. The danger there is you are now implementing the commune system of the discredited communist party strategy,” he added.

Sara Duterte leaves door open for presidential bid in 2022

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Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio is no longer outrightly dismissing the possibility of her seeking the presidency in 2022.

Speaking at a television show of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy on Friday (August 2), Duterte-Carpio said she will seek first the guidance of the Lord before she makes any decision on whether she would heed the growing clamor for her to run for president in the next national elections or not.

“Everything is easier if it is the plan of God. Before I think about that, I should ask God first if this is for me. So we would not make mistakes, we need to pray for wisdom on how to go about it and how to decide,” Duterte-Carpio said.

This is a slight deviation from her response to a query from ABS-CBN News in April when she said she was not thinking about the presidency.

Duterte-Carpio won a second term as mayor of Davao City in May 2019 polls. She previously served as the vice mayor of the city then replaced her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, in 2016 as chief executive of Davao City. Duterte, meanwhile, was elected President of the Republic and is now midway through his term.

President Duterte only has good words for Duterte-Carpio every time he mentions her in his speeches, including his last State of the Nation Address. The President fondly calls her “Inday Sara”.

Should she decide to run for president in 2022, her bid would be backed up by her own party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which is steadily gaining influence in the Philippine political scene. In the last election, all the candidates supported by Hugpong ng Pagbabago made it to the Philippine Senate.

At the House of Representatives, Duterte-Carpio is widely believed to be the one who orchestrated the ouster of then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez after their relationship soured.

Not only that, Duterte-Carpio will be benefiting from the popularity of her father, who continues to enjoy the very high trust and approval rating in different surveys.

In the latest Pulse Asia survey released in July, Duterte still has the trust and approval of eight out of 10 Filipinos.

Duterte-Carpio also has a good record as Davao City’s mayor, maintaining her independence in governing the city that became her father’s springboard to Malacanang.

Dengvaxia back in Philippine spotlight

in News/Tabloid PH News

Manila, Philippines — Controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia is hugging the headlines in the country anew, with doctors and scientists urging the government to lift the ban on the Sanofi-made vaccine following the doubling of dengue cases in the Philippines this year.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed dengue has already claimed the lives of 561 people as of July 13. Nationwide, the number of dengue cases rose to more than 130,000, nearly doubling the 67,690 recorded in the same period last year with 367 deaths. Children aged 5 to 9 were the most vulnerable with about 30,000 cases year-to-date. From July 7 to 13 alone, the DOH recorded 8,295 cases already.

Western Visayas, which includes the provinces of Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo and Guimaras, had the most incidence with 18,943 cases and 95 deaths.

With the alarming rise in dengue cases, the Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare (DTPW) said it is high time the government lifted the ban on Dengvaxia. 

“The Philippines has the highest incidence and death rate from dengue in this part of the world. Yet it is the only country in the world that has banned it,” Dr. Minguita Padilla, DTPW co-convener, was quoted in a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Led by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, DTPW is composed of physicians, scientists, educators, former secretaries of health, and past and present heads of various professional medical associations and nongovernmental organizations.

“The vaccine need not be included in the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) of the government so that [the] government need not spend for it. But at least make it available to physicians to offer for the millions of patients who can benefit from it,” Padilla said. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) canceled the certificates of product registration (CPRs) of Dengvaxia last February due to Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.’s alleged disregard of the agency’s rules and regulations.

One month later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted former Health Secretary Janette Garin and 19 health officials and drug executives for the deaths of children who received Dengvaxia shots.

Garin was the DOH secretary in the tail end of the Aquino administration when the P3.5-billion mass dengue immunization program was implemented by the government.

They were charged for “inexcusable lack of precaution and foresight” and because they “totally disregarded the identified risks and adverse effects of the vaccine”.

Former President Benigno Aquino III said the Dengvaxia issue was just used to demonize the former administration and that the rise in dengue cases would have been avoided if the program was continued.

“The thing that could have protected the health of our citizens cannot deliver anymore because of politics and a lot of bad motivation,” Aquino said in a report of the Philippine Star. “The protection that could have been given to a lot of people was not given… It is like a scandal and an alarm. If there are people who were killed, they should be held liable.”

Aquino, who was also investigated for his role in the controversy, is turning the tables on his detractors, saying those behind the plot to scare away Filipinos from the use of Dengvaxia should be held accountable.

It was actually President Duterte’s Spokesman Salvador Panelo who first floated the idea of allowing the use of Dengvaxia in the country again in response to the rise in dengue cases.

“If we know that Dengvaxia could be used for seropositive patients, then why don’t we try it? We will just consider it. We have to make a study. As I said earlier, it needs, requires a serious study before we can use it,” he told reporters. “Why not use Dengvaxia for those who already had dengue before? Because it would surely work there. Mine is only a suggestion. But didn’t they say that the dengue cases are worsening? We need a vaccine for that.”

Photo Credit: PhilStar / Kriz John

Filipino firefighters to wield guns soon

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The country will have an additional 25,000 armed personnel to help maintain peace and order once the plan of President Duterte to issue firearms to firefighters is implemented.

In his speech at the 28th-anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Thursday (August 1), Duterte said firefighters should not confine themselves to fire prevention.

“I will allow the issuance of guns to firefighters. After stopping the fire, look after the people. Kill the fire then the person. You help in the maintenance of peace and order,” Duterte was quoted in a report of the Manila Bulletin. “You have to help in the law and order. You are not just limited to just fire. That’s a bullsh*t idea. You have to go around and help the policeman and the military, you must help and you must help kill; kill the enemy because your enemy will kill you.”

A report of the Commission on Audit in 2018 showed there were only about 23,000 firefighters in the country that year, or about half of the desired number. The BFP opened 2,000 slots for recruitment last year and another 2,000 this year.

Duterte’s pronouncement to make the firefighters help the military and police in maintaining peace and order was an offshoot of the spate of killings in Negros Oriental, where communist insurgency-related attacks already left 15 people dead in a span of one week. 

The President also hinted at imposing Martial Law in the province and dispatch his “death squad” to go after the communist rebels.

The Philippines has about 170,000 policemen and 125,000 active military personnel.

The BFP is under the supervision of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Duterte said he has given instructions to DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano to implement his policy pronouncement.

Photo Credit: Bullit Marquez/AP

PHL likely to scrap visa upon arrival scheme

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Manila, Philippines — There is now a big possibility that the government will stop allowing foreigners to enter the Philippines without valid visas following the concern raised by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon that the influx of Chinese nationals is fast becoming a national threat. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teaodoro Locsin Jr., in reaction to Esperon’s statement, said Philippine visas should only be issued to foreigners vetted by consular officers. 

The government, in a bid to boost tourism and investments, has accorded visa-upon-arrival privileges to citizens of almost all countries, giving them the clearance to stay in the Philippines for a period of 14 to 59 days, depending on the rules set by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) per county of origin.

Locsin, via his Twitter account, said: “We need to put an end to visas upon arrival; all visas should be issued by consular offices after vetting. We must take extra care in outsourcing any part of the visa application process, picking only the most reputable worldwide.”

According to a report of the Manila Bulletin, Locsin’s proposal was already seconded by Malacanang, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Joel Villanueva and Panfilo Lacson.

“I agree with Secretary Locsin. We really need to vet first. Because if it’s us, we find it difficult to acquire visas from other countries because they vet first,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo was quoted in the report. “The President will consider the proposal of the Secretary and if we don’t hear anything from him, that means that will be the policy of the government,” he added.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report said based on BI data, there were 20,956 Chinese nationals holding 9G visa, or the pre-arranged employment visa, in 2017. This figure increased to 22,599 in 2018.

Supreme Court Justice Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Chinese nationals coming here to work must follow the country’s labor rules and pay taxes accordingly.

“We have our labor laws. They can come here provided they have a visa or if they want to work, they must pay their taxes. As long as our rules are followed, I don’t see anything wrong…We have to see to it that our rules are followed,” Carpio told reporters. 

Sources: www.inquirer.netmb.com.ph

Philippines files another diplomatic protest vs China

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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has filed another diplomatic protest against China, the second since June, after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. received reports that more than a hundred Chinese ships have been spotted around Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.

“Diplomatic protest fired off,” Locsin tweeted on Tuesday, in reaction to the report and suggestion of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

“I listen only to military intelligence; I distrust civilian sources of ‘misinformation.’ When it comes to national security, I am the thinking trigger; the finger is the commander-in-chief and the Armed Forces which are the protector of people & state,” Locsin was quoted in a report of the Philippine Star.

Manilla also lodged a diplomatic complaint against Beijing in June after the reported sinking of a Filipino fishing boat allegedly by a Chinese trawler.

In a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said it is time for Manila go to the United Nations Assembly again to “persuade” Beijing to follow the 2016 decision of Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines in its arbitration case against China over claims in the West Philippine Sea. The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea, a very important sea route, business, and military-wise.

“I think it’s time for us to consider going the UN General Assembly to be able to get the necessary votes to persuade China to abide by the outcome of the arbitral tribunal,” Del Rosario said at a fellowship meeting of the Philippine Bar Association held in Makati. 

Sources: www.philstar.comwww.inquirer.net

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