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President Duterte

EDITORIAL: Does US Senate Resolution 142 carry weight?

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Does US Senate Resolution 142 carry weight?
Image Credit: Tabloid PH

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.

Will Sharon Cuneta’s appeal to ‘Tatay’ Digong help save ABS-CBN from impending closure?

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz
Will Sharon Cuneta’s appeal to ‘Tatay’ Digong help save ABS-CBN from impending closure?
Image Credit: PCOO

Megastar Sharon Cuneta, who is known to be close to President Duterte, publicly asked the Chief Executive to reconsider his decision to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which will expire at the end of March 2020.

Sharon calls Duterte “My Tatay”. Duterte supported the candidacy of Sharon’s brother Cesar “Chet” Cuneta, who ran for Pasay City’s mayoral post in the May 2019 elections. Chet eventually lost to Imelda G. Calixto-Rubiano, who formerly represented the city in the Congress and sister of then-incumbent Mayor Antonio Calixto.

Duterte even joked during the celebration of 156th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan last November 30 that the Megastar wanted to throw her husband, Senator Francis Pangilinan, out of their house. The President was then angry at Pangilinan, who is a member of the rival Liberal Party.

After signing her contract renewal with ABS-CBN last January 9, the Megastar said: “I’ll just say this before saying goodbye—I pray that our dear President reconsiders his decision about ABS-CBN, not just because I just renewed [my contract with the studio, because] I can always find a job. But because everybody I grew up with here—who have remained loyal to the station and have grown up here having learned from the school of hard knocks and have become family and good friends—will lose almost everything they’ve built over the years, and even those that might choose to stay—if indeed, unfortunately goes that way—it won’t be the same.”

She continued: “So, I hope in my heart that our dear President reconsiders the thousands and thousands of Filipinos who have grown up here and learned the ropes here, and that includes me.”

The question now is: Will Sharon’s personal appeal to Duterte carry weight and help save ABS-CBN? 

Right now, with all the hate that the President harbors against the network, it would probably take more than just Sharon’s plea. It’s barely 78 days before the deadline, and if Sharon’s appeal would just fall on deaf ears, the country’s biggest network could just be signing off indefinitely, or forever.

Competitive salaries for state personnel to allow the government to retain, attract talented workers

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Competitive salaries for state personnel to allow government to retain, attract talented workers
Image Credit: PhilippineRetirementVisa

Malacanang is hopeful that the salary increase for state employees under a new law signed by President Duterte on Wednesday (January 8) will allow the government to retain human resources that are either opting to go to private firms or work abroad due to their meager income.

Secretary Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel, said the 8-percent to 30-percent hike to be granted under the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, or Republic Act (RA) 11466, puts the compensation of government personnel on a par with their private sector counterparts.

This, Panelo noted, will help the government retain—and even attract—talented state workers.

He said: “The Palace hopes that this latest round of salary adjustment will motivate everyone in the public sector to work doubly hard and put more dedicated and competent service in their respective jobs.”

RA 11466 hikes the salaries of employees with Salary Grades 10 to 15 by 20 percent to 30 percent. Those with Salary Grades 23 to 33, meanwhile, will get an 8-percent increase.

The adjustments will be given in four tranches beginning this month up to 2023.

President Duterte has a Salary Grade 33, although he is not included in the compensation adjustment under the law.

Also excluded are Vice President Leni Robredo, the present members of Congress, military and uniformed personnel, employees of government-owned or -controlled corporations covered by RA 10149, and individuals whose services are engaged through job orders, contracts of service, consultancy or service contracts with no employer-employee relationship.

“The Office of the President notes that the law is at the initiative – and has the strong support – of President Duterte pursuant to his desire to upgrade the standard of living of government employees,” Panelo said. “The law is aimed at benefitting those hardworking men and women in the government, including our teachers and nurses who unfortunately have been neglected in the past.” 

Newly purchased vessel BRP Gabriela Silang redirected to Middle East for repatriation of OFWs

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Newly purchased vessel BRP Gabriela Silang redirected to Middle East for repatriation of OFWs
Image Credit: Dung Tran / Youtube

Newly purchased Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel BRP Gabriela Silang just received its first mission order even before it could reach Philippine waters after it was designated to head to the Middle East to help in the repatriation of Filipinos in the region as tension between the US and Iran escalates.

The French-made BRP Gabriela Silang is on its maiden voyage and was supposed to reach the Philippines on February 20 after it left Saint-Nazaire, France last December 30.

However, with Iran already starting its retaliatory actions against the US for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, BRP Gabriela Silang’s course was redirected to the Middle East for its first tour of duty.

The Philippine Mission in Baghdad just announced on Wednesday (January 8) that Alert Level 4 has been declared over Iraq, which means Filipinos there need to be evacuated immediately. Alert Level 4 means there is large-scale internal conflict or full-blown external attack in the subject country.

This was after a series of missile attacks was launched by Iran on a military base in Iraq housing American forces.

In a Facebook Live advisory, Chargè d’ Affairès Jomar Sadie in Iraq said : “Inatasan na po ng Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang iba’t ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, kasama na po ang Embahada ng Pilipinas sa Iraq para ilikas ang mga Pilipino dito sa bansa. Ang marching order sa amin ay mandatory repatriation.” 

BRP Gabriela Silang will now had to Dubai and Oman as a standby vessel for the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East. 

Around 1,600 Filipinos are currently situated in Iraq alone. Sadie advised them to contact the Philippine mission in Iraq at 07816066822, 07516167838, 07518764665 and 07508105240 for any concern regarding their documents and release from employers.

He said: “Kung wala kayong employer at biktima ng human trafficking, tumawag po kayo sa amin para matulungan namin kayo o pumunta directly sa embassy,” he added, noting that appropriate travel documents will be issued to them by the embassy. Kapag gusto ninyong umuwi at ayaw kayong pauwiin ng employer at hindi ninyo siya mapakiusapang mabuti, tawagan ninyo po kami at kami ang kakausap sa employer ninyo.”

Duterte to Iran, Iraq leaders: Keep Filipinos out of harm’s way or else…

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Duterte to Iran, Iraq leaders: Keep Filipinos out of harm’s way or else…

President Duterte is ready to ditch his anti-United States sentiment and even side with Washington if Filipinos are hurt in any retaliatory move by Tehran against American soldiers and installations.

This will be the message that Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdullah Mamao will be delivering to the leaders of Iran and Iraq, Duterte’s legal adviser and spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters on Tuesday (January 7).

Panelo said Mamao has been dispatched to the Middle East to personally inform the governments of Iraq and Iran of the “friendly caution” of Duterte.

“Hindi tayo magiging neutral. The President was very specific in saying last night that if the Filipinos are harmed, he will side with the Americans. The President will not sit idly and watch,” Panelo said. As to what action that support to the US would translate into was not detailed by Panelo.

Duterte is known to have pivoted toward China in his diplomatic and trade policies. He didn’t like the criticisms he was getting from the US government over his administration’s bloody war against drugs.

Just recently, he banned US senators from entering the Philippines for espousing the release from prison of Senator Leila de Lima, a known political enemy of Duterte.

The President gathered his Cabinet and security advisers Monday night to discuss the impact of the tension between the US and Iran over the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

The government is preparing to repatriate Filipinos in Middle Eastern areas that would be put in harm’s way should the rift between Tehran and Washington escalate into actual military tussles.

There are around 4 million Filipino workers in the Middle East, and around 6,000 of them are in Iran and Iraq.

Duterte earlier said he fears that “so many lives of our countrymen” could be put in jeopardy. “Kinakabahan ako. Iran seems to be hell-bent on a retaliation, which I think will come. It’s a matter of time. I do not have anything, nary a worry, were it not for a fact that there are a lot of Filipinos there… We need the money. I need it before it actually starts.”

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

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Robredo to reveal all she discovered about Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs
Image Credit: bise_leni / IG

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

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DOH, FDA raring to implement Duterte’s policy pronouncement on vaping ban
Image via e-cigarette Reviewed

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.

Quiboloy accepts Vice’s challenge, will not just stop ‘Ang Probinsyano’ but operation of ABS-CBN as well

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Quiboloy accept’s Vice’s challenge, will not just stop ‘Ang Probinsyano’ but operation of ABS-CBN as well

Kapamilya Vice Ganda’s challenge to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy to put a halt to the airing of ABS-CBN’s primetime hit “Ang Probinsyano”— just like how the leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name claimed to have ordered the earthquakes in Davao to stop—has been accepted.

And based on the answer of Quiboloy, it appears that he won’t be needing heaven’s help, but that of Malacanang.

“The challenge is accepted,” Quiboloy said, referring to what Vice said in an episode of “It’s Showtime” last November 5 that he should also stop the airing of “Ang Probinsyano” starring Coco Martin, as well as the traffic in Edsa. Vice, in that episode, said: “Ipahinto mo na ang ‘Probinsyano’. Napahinto mo pala ang lindol eh. Napakayabang niyo pala, eh..Sabi niya raw, stop. Sige nga! Punta ka ng gitna ng EDSA, stop mo ‘yung traffic du’n!”

Quiboloy, in accepting Vice’s challenge, said: “Kailan mo ba gustong mapa-stop ang ‘Ang Probinsyano’? Isang buwan? Dalawang buwan? Tatlong buwan? Apat na buwan? Ikaw, pili ka.”

Then he continued with a political overtone, dragging the feud between President Duterte and the ABS-CBN management: “Baka sa apat na buwan, hindi lang yung ‘Probinsyano’ ang mai-stop, baka pati yung network mo stop na ‘yan.”

Quiboloy is a known big supporter and ally of Duterte, with his religious group based in Davao City. Duterte has threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which is set to expire in March 2020. Without the franchise, ABS-CBN’s operation will cease. The President and his allies in Congress keep on reminding ABS-CBN of their disgust over the decision of the network not to air Duterte’s commercials during the 2016 elections campaign period even if they were paid already.

True enough, the House of Representatives has not acted on the 25-year renewal of the network’s franchise. 

As to the Edsa traffic, Quiboloy told Vice: “Sinabi mo na pahintuin ko ang traffic sa EDSA, paano ko pahihintuin, nahinto na!…Naging parking lot na nga ang EDSA, e, nakahinto na.Hindi siguro yun ang right word na sinabi mo. Pabilisin.”

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
Image Credit: https://pcoo.gov.ph/

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.

The many ‘surprises’ unraveled by Marjorie Barretto

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The many ‘surprises’ unraveled by Marjorie Barretto
Image Caption: ABS-CBN / Youtube

Marjorie Barretto’s interview with Karen Davila of ABS-CBN News revealed to the public many surprises, heightening the public’s interest in the rift among the Barretto children, which culminated with a fight in front of President Duterte at the wake of the family’s patriarch Miguel.

Here are some of Marjorie’s revelations:

  • She had been at the receiving end of character assassinations for five years already
  • Controversial businessman Atong Ang was a boyfriend of her niece Nicole; Atong and Nicole had a relationship for five years, even before Nicole turned 18
  • Atong Ang is now the boyfriend of her sister Gretchen, who used to be the wife of businessman Tony Boy Cojuangco
  • Atong Ang triggered the tension at the wake of Miguel when he tried many times to make Nicole and her family leave before his, Gretchen’s and President Duterte’s arrival at the wake
  • She refused the gesture of Duterte to reconcile her and Gretchen because she saw the insincerity in Gretchen’s face
  • Claudine disrespected her when she refused to patch up with Gretchen in front of Duterte
  • Atong Ang tried to reach for her that may have started the scuffle  
  • After the Presidential Security Group separated them to secure the President, Gretchen attacked Nicole
  • It was Gretchen who had a nervous breakdown, and not her, as claimed by Gretchen in an earlier statement
  • Miguel was hospitalized for 16 days and Gretchen did not even bother to visit
  • Their father died of acute respiratory failure, not heart attack, as claimed by Gretchen 
  • For 25 years, Gretchen did not invite their parents to any of her properties even once
  • She became a mistress of Caloocan Mayor Recom Echiverri, who is the father of her younger daughter
  • Claudine sought financial help from Echiverri, but it was a setup for a molestation claim against the mayor
  • Her daughters, including young actress Julia, are “not for sale”, or not being offered to rich businessmen as rumored
  • She is open to reconciliation with Gretchen and Claudine, but not with the “fanfare”

ABS-CBN devoted close to 20 minutes of airtime for the interview with Marjorie over its primetime news TV Patrol on Tuesday night (October 22).

Barrettos quarrel, fight in front of Duterte at wake of family patriarch Miguel

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Barrettos quarrel, fight in front of Duterte at wake of family patriarch Miguel
Image Credit: IG

Actress Gretchen Barretto confirmed that her sister Marjorie turned down the request of President Duterte to forget about their dispute for at least during the wake of the Barretto patriarch Miguel, which heated things up at the reunion of the quarreling sisters and eventually led to a scuffle on Wednesday.

Then, in an Instagram post on Friday, Claudine Barretto said: ”Are you proud of who you have become?””

View this post on Instagram

I hope not.

A post shared by Claudine Barretto (@claubarretto) on

“I hope not.”

The cryptic message did not say who Claudine was referring to. However, it was after she was hospitalized on Thursday night due to an alleged physical confrontation with Marjorie, according to ABS-CBN News. It was a sequel to the scuffle between Gretchen and a niece that occurred in front of Duterte on Wednesday.

Gretchen, in a statement released to ABS-CBN News, narrated that “it was all so nice until Marjorie had a nervous breakdown.”

Duterte earlier asked Marjorie to shake Gretchen’s hand “for the sake of respect of my father.” “But Marjorie was not happy that I was there to reunite with family,” Gretchen said.

Sources told ABS-CBN News that while Gretchen was talking with some friends, a girl, who was later identified as a niece of Gretchen, attacked her.

Cooler heads tried to prevent a fight between the relatives. However, Gretchen managed to grab her niece by the hair, resulting in a scuffle. The two were separated by members of the Presidential Security Group.

According to the ABS-CBN News source, the niece suffered a cut on her face. 

Duterte, although aware of the feud between the sisters, was shocked, the source added.

Sisters Gretchen, Marjorie and Claudine had a falling out, although Claudine and Gretchen already patched things up recently. Claudine even praised her sister for appearing at the wake in an Instagram post.

Gretchen and Marjorie, on the other hand, remained at odds with each other, triggered by a controversy involving Marjorie’s daughter Julia.

Marjorie, during the wake, even branded Gretchen as a hypocrite for pretending to be nice just because the President was there. Gretchen is a known supporter of the Chief Executive. 

When Duterte asked the two to shake hands, Gretchen tried to oblige, but her gesture was turned down by Marjorie, who was described as fuming. 

An ABS-CBN source narrated: ”Marjorie was obviously mainit (fuming), you can see it in her body language. Si Gretchen, kalmado lang (she was calm).” But that was before things turned from bad to worse.

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.”

Duterte deferring action vs ‘ninja cops’ until end of Senate, DILG investigations

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte deferring action vs ‘ninja cops’ until end of Senate, DILG investigations
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with the members of his delegation at a hotel in Moscow, Russian Federation on October 2, 2019. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Duterte is deferring any action against police officers—including the current chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP)—who were implicated in the alleged recycling of seized illegal drugs until the Senate has completed its probe on the so-called “ninja cops”.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement that the President is closely monitoring the developments in the Senate hearings even while he is fulfilling his commitments in his second state visit to Russia.

“As our Chief Executive has mentioned in many occasions, there will be hell to pay for those who become worse than criminals. The President, however, will let Congress do and finish its investigation in aid of legislation before taking any formal action on the issue of these ninja cops,” Panelo said.

He added: “The President’s unyielding posture against illegal drugs and those who destroy the country, regardless of whether they belong to the government, by spreading these substances in our communities, will not waver.”

Aside from the Senate probe, Duterte has tasked Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo to conduct a parallel internal probe on the “ninja cops” controversy, which dragged the name of PNP Chief, General Oscar Albayalde. 

“He will wait for the recommendation of the DILG Secretary when he is finished with his internal investigation,” Panel said.

In one of the hearings of the Senate, Albayalde’s name was mentioned by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as one of the personalities linked to the recycling of illegal drugs that were seized during police operations. Albayalde denied Magalong’s allegations.

Panelo said at this time, Albayalde still has the backing of Duterte. “Until such time that he (Duterte) says that he doesn’t have, the presumption is the General has his trust and confidence.”

Duterte is currently on a five-day official visit to Russia.

In a forum in Valdai, Russia, Duterte said: ”When I took over, I found out about nine generals were involved in the trafficking of drugs. And right now, even as I fly here and go back, there are about again two generals who are still playing with drugs. And I said, ‘Well, I told you do not destroy my country because it is being flooded with drugs.’” 

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