De Lima criticizes Duterte’s plan to abolish VFA

admin   •   December 19, 2016   •   2771

Senator Leila de Lima (L) and President Rodrigo Duterte (R).

 

The administration must not be hasty in cancelling the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

According to Senator Leila de Lima, the administration must thoroughly contemplate the cancellation of the treaty especially since there is no clear alternative for it.

The senator insisted that the Filipino people’s welfare and the nation’s sovereignty must not be sacrificed like how lives are being sacrificed every day in the country’s war on drugs.

It can be recalled that upon his return to the country from Cambodia and Singapore, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will contemplate on setting aside the VFA after Millenium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency, cancelled its aid to the Philippines due to concerns over alleged human rights violations.

The President avowed that there is no reason for US Military troops to stay in the Philippines especially since the country is not prepared to fight against China or Russia.

“So why don’t you just leave? And if you think that there is extra judicial killing here, it’s a prevalent one. It’s a virulent practice, so why are you here? What is your purpose with this Visiting Forces Agreement? Good-bye America and work on the protocols that would eventually move you out from the Philippines,” said Duterte.

The President was incensed by US’ seemingly condescending treatment of the Philippines as some kind of impoverished nation.

Duterte also maintained that the country does not need any aid coming from the US especially since there are other countries ready to help the Philippines.

“China has the kindest soul of all, and I understand we have been stricken out from the Millennium Challenge. Good. I welcome it. In exchange for the 400 million China communicated to us they are giving us 50 billion. So what do I need for America for? They do not look at us kindly. We have this huge problem, and you exacerbate. Actually we do not need it. We can survive without American money,” he said.

However, according to the President, he may reconsider his position depending on the measures the Trump administration would take.

“I have to take the cue from Trump not from Obama…because I have talked to Trump. He was very nice, very courteous. I could not sense any hostile drift or even in the manner he was saying it. So in deference, I’ll just wait. I will let Obama fade away. And if he disappears, I will begin to reassess.”

Nonetheless, the President said if he were to be asked, he has no intentions of taking US’ side anymore.

On the other hand, he plans on sending military and police personnel to train in China. — Victor Cosare | UNTV News and Rescue

Several senators laud signing of Anti-Terror Act despite oppositions

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators have lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 despite oppositions coming from different sectors.

“Much credit goes to PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). With all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, at the end of the day, it is his strong political will that mattered the most,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement Friday.

“I cannot imagine this measure being signed under another administration. If only for this, I take my hat off to the president,” he added.

Lacson, one of the principal authors and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, vowed that he would “exert extra effort in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation, notwithstanding all the safeguards incorporated in this landmark legislation.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed elation over the enactment of the controversial bill.

“I am glad that the president has sifted through the rubble and saw the importance of the law!” he said in a message to reporters.

Senator Francis Tolentino also called the signing of the law as “very timely” and “historic” as the nation needed the measure.

“It just goes to show that a stable peace and order climate should go hand [in hand] with economic rejuvenation post COVID-19,” he added.

The new law repeals the Human Security Act of 2007 and penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure allows suspected terrorists to be detained for up to 24 days without warrant. It also authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets and accounts of individuals or groups tagged as terrorists.

Before it was enacted, the bill was met with widespread opposition from different groups who raised concern over its provisions that could be abused by authorities, stifle dissent and spur human rights violations.

But Sotto said the law has enough safeguards to prevent enforcers from abusing their authority.

“It’s full of safeguards but strong against terrorists. Unlike the old law, it was subject to abuse by the terrorists,” Sotto said.

Lacson has repeatedly defended the measure, saying it has enough protection to ensure the rights of those detained.

Duterte signs Anti-Terrorism bill into law

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the president signed the measure on Friday, July 3.

The Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 repeals the Human Security Act of 2007 and penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

Under the measure, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also seeks to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

The measure was signed into law despite intense opposition from several sectors questioning its provisions, particularly the period of detention for suspected terrorists without judicial warrant, saying this may be abused by the authorities.

Roque said the piece of legislation underwent thorough study before it was enacted by the president.

“As we have said, the President, together with his legal team, took time to study this piece of legislation weighing the concerns of different stakeholders,” he said.

“The signing of the aforesaid law demonstrates our serious commitment to stamp out terrorism, which has long plagued the country and has caused unimaginable grief and horror to many of our people,” he added.

Duterte to meet police, military in Zamboanga City – Roque

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will fly to Zamboanga City on Friday to meet with the officials and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of a shooting incident that killed four soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president will meet separately with members of the police and military to ensure that the shooting incident between cops and soldiers will not happen again.

The commander-in-chief will also try to ease the tensions between the two security forces, and lift the morale of its members following the incident, which, according to Roque had “saddened” the president.

“Andoon po ang president para magbigay ng assurance na makakamit po ang katarungan, kung mayroong nagkasala, mapaparusahan po,” Roque said.

“Andoon po siya para i-lift ang morale ng mga sundalo, ng mga pulis dahil kung may pagkakamali po yan, pwede naman pong iwasto yan at sisiguraduhin po niya na ito na po ang huling insidente na gaya nito sa kaniyang administrasyon,” he added.

On June 29, four soldiers were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.

Police said the military officers attempted to escape and opened fire at them while on their way to police station for identity verification. However, the Philippine Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to flee and never fired a single shot towards police officers.

The nine police officers involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have been relieved from their posts pending investigation.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said that aside from talking to police and military commanders, Duterte would also like to meet with the nine police officers involved in the incident. He has also ordered for the National Bureau of Investigation to expedite the release of its probe findings.

This is the first time that the president will visit police and military camps in the country since the coronavirus disease pandemic started.

Roque said Duterte insisted on the trip despite the threat of the viral respiratory disease and the Presidential Security Group’s appeal to delay his visit to the camp.

“Di na po mapigilan ang president, kung masusunod po ang PSG, ayaw po siyang palabasin talaga ng Bahay Pangarap,” Roque said.

“Pero sabi ng presidente, ako pa rin ang President at kung mayroon pa ring kinakailangang talagang gawin, gagawin niya so he’s risking his life by going to Zamboanga, pero ganuon po ka-importante ang misyon niya,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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