At least 16 measures pushed by Duterte could pass Senate – Sotto
Robie de Guzman • July 23, 2019 • 951
MANILA, Philippines – At least 16 measures pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Monday)could be passed in the upper chamber of Congress, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.
Sotto said that majority of the proposals that Duterte mentioned in his speech could easily hurdle the Senate. These include the implementation of Magna Carta for Barangays, the National Academy for Sports for High School, the establishment of Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Water Resources, Salary Standardization Law for Teachers and other government personnel, the Coco Levy Bill, the National Land Use Act, Mandatory ROTC Bill for Grades 11 & 12, the postponement of Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Elections, the Expansion of Malasakit Center, Fire Protection Modernization Bill and Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers & Plunder.
“Marami doon sa mga binanggit niya kakayanin talaga namin. As a matter of fact, nakikita ko, at least 16 sa mga sinabi niya malaki ang pag-asang mapasa lahat,” Sotto said in a radio interview.
The Senate President further said that although he supports Duterte’s call for the creation of new departments, he said it would be better to pass a law right-sizing the government to streamline government systems and services.
“Ayusin muna natin yung right-sizing. Kasi kung hindi tayo magra-right-sizing, blinow-up lang natin yung bureaucracy lalo. So, kung magra-right-sizing tayo, mababawasan yung mga departamento, na mga iba-t-ibang napakaraming departamento ng gobyerno ng maraming empleyado,” Sotto said.
(Let’s first work on rightsizing the government. Because if we don’t rightsize first, we will just blow up bureaucracy more. If we right-size, we would reduce the number of redundant departments, various agencies with too many employees.)
Among the measures mentioned in Duterte’s SONA, Sotto said the reimposition of death penalty for drug traffickers and plunder would face the strong opposition and lengthy debates.
“Tinitingnan ko yung listahan, pinakikinggan ko kahapon, puro talagang kayang-kaya at talagang dapat. Kailangang-kailangan. Yung lang reimposition ng death penalty siguro ang mahaba ang debate,” he said.
(I will look into the list. When I was listening to the speech yesterday, the bills he mentioned could easily pass in the Senate. The reimposition of death penalty may go through lengthy discussions.)
“If its confined to high level (drug) trafficking it stands a good chance to be as quicker or it can be passed in the Senate ngayon because of the mention of plunder, hindi maganda sa amin sa mga senador at sa mga congressman na hindi pumayag na hindi isama, kailangang isama, otherwise takot kami sa plunder,” he added.
(Senators and congressmen won’t look good if we exclude plunder. We need to include it, otherwise it would seem we are afraid of plunder.)
Former special assistant to the president and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, for his part, believes that passing heavier penalty for plunder would deter government officials from engaging in corrupt practices.
“Kung pumasa ito, maaaring ikatakot ng mga magnanakaw sa gobyerno,” Go said.
(If this gets approved, it may deter corrupt government officials from committing plunder.)
For Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, the hardest among the challenges laid out by Duterte in his SONA is the liberation of six million Filipinos from poverty.
“This is the Six Million Challenge that confronts us all. It is the overarching Priority No. 1. It is the most demanding because it means 2 million of our countrymen must graduate from dehumanizing existence every year, if the objective is to uplift them within the next three years,” he said in a statement.
Recto added that even if the government would succeed in the Six-Million Challenge, there will still be about 15 million poor waiting to be liberated at the end of 2022.
“If there is one goal that should energize us, and consume our every waking hour, this is the one. This is a tall order that calls for a combination of solutions and the cooperation of all,” he said.
Senator Joel Villanueva, on the other hand, said he is inclined to look into Duterte’s proposal to include teachers in the next salary standardization law.
“Teachers play a critical role in shaping the hearts and minds of our youth. We need to make their efforts more rewarding so that they are kept motivated to fulfill their duties,” he said in a statement.
Villanueva also vowed to work with the President in his goal to provide comfortable lives for Filipinos at the end of his term.
Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, lauded Duterte for his speech that focused on matters of progress, peace and prosperity.
Angara added that he will not belabor the president for omitting other issues as it is impossible to cram all of the country’s problems in one speech.
“Hindi naman isang linggong pabasa ang SONA. What is important is that he talked about the things many of our people want to hear from him. It is a well-curated address,” he said in a statement.
He also said that after Duterte’s annual report to the nation, lawmakers and concerned agencies should “react with deeds.”
“It should be back to work for all of us,” he said.
After its postponement on January 22, the one-on-one interview with President Rodrigo Duterte will push through on Tuesday (January 28), said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday.
The January 22 schedule for the one-on-one interview was postponed due to “pressing family matters”.
“Due to pressing matters, the tête-à-tête Part 2 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo has been moved to January 28, 2020 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace at 5:00 p.m.,” a previous media advisory read.
This will be the President’s second têtê-a-têtê. The first televised interview was held last September 2018.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.
Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.
“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.
In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.
Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.
“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.
“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”
The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.
The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he has decided to reject the invitation of United States President Donald Trump to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to be held in Las Vegas this March.
Duterte announced his decision during an interview with Russian International Television Network RT.
“I just received an invitation to go to the United States together with the ASEAN leaders. I haven’t been to the States. I was invited by [former US President Barack] Obama a while back. But I did not go,” he said in a video posted on Thursday.
When asked if he will attend the upcoming summit between the US and ASEAN, Duterte replied with: “No, no.”
During the interview, the president recalled the time when Obama criticized him and his campaign against illegal drugs.
“One time when I was being criticized by Obama in a press conference, he should have realized that I’m also the head of a sovereign state. He should have criticized me in the proper venue,” he said, referring to a September 2016 press conference where Obama urged Duterte to conduct his campaign “the right way.”
The president said Obama’s move to castigate him in a press briefing got him “so mad” and prompted him to curse the former president.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the chief executive is “still pondering” on whether he would accept Trump’s invitation as he is mindful of the possibility of getting barred from entering the US since he doesn’t have a visa, and making some American senators “unhappy” seeing him there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
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