Duterte 4th SONA generally peaceful, orderly – PNP

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2019   •   1116

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) was generally peaceful and orderly.

According to PNP Spokesperson Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, no untoward incident was reported despite mass actions staged by pro and anti-Duterte groups before the president delivered his speech.

Around 14,000 cops were deployed in different parts of Metro Manila to monitor peace and order situation during the conduct of protests in line with Duterte’s SONA.

Banac noted that the rallies carried out by various organizations were conducted peacefully and participants continue to disperse voluntarily.

“Mass actions carried out by cause-oriented groups and some pro-government organizations have been conducted peacefully and participants continue to disperse voluntarily with no major untoward incident reported in all areas of engagement where public assemblies were held coinciding with the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte,” he said in a statement.

Despite this, Banac assured that the National Police will continue to be alert and ready to respond to any crime cases.

“The PNP remains vigilant to prevent occurrence of crimes and ready to respond to any emergency or call for assistance,” he said.

Two cops arrested for extorting money from tricycle drivers in Bulacan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 7, 2020

The Philippine National Police-Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG) on Monday (July 6) arrested two policemen for extorting money from tricycle drivers in Bulacan.

PNP-IMEG Spokesperson PCapt. Mae Ann Cunanan said the agency has been receiving numerous reports since 2019 against two policemen and two civilians extorting from motorists.

Based on reports, the cops would demand payment from motorists in exchange for redeeming their licenses instead of only issuing a citation ticket.

“Kapag hinuhuli nila iyong mga traffic violators, mga tricycle drivers ay hindi nila ini-issue ang ticket. Instead, kinukuha nila iyong pera kapalit nito iyong pagtanggal na sa kanilang violation, (When they apprehend traffic violators and tricycle drivers, they will not issue a ticket. They would take money instead in exchange for removing the violation),” she said.

Cunanan identified the two policemen as PSMgt. Vic Godwin and Pat. Jay Mark Tuazon who are assigned in Malolos City Police Community Precinct 5. The two civilians who served as their middlemen were identified as Wendell Mendoza and Kenneth Villena.

The suspects will be charged with robbery extortion while the two policemen will have additional administrative cases and grave misconduct. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Economic, infra clusters to hold pre-2020 SONA forum this week

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte government’s economic development and infrastructure Cabinet clusters are set to present the administration’s plans for recovery and resilience in the face of the coronavirus-induced headwinds this year at the first pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum to be held this week.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said that the forum titled, “Regaining Momentum, Accelerating Recovery in a Post COVID-19 World,” will be held virtually on July 8.

Hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the forum will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of the Radio Television Malacañang, and other government agencies.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said this year’s pre-SONA forum will be different as the audience will be “purely virtual,” due to limitations on mass gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do hope that our citizens will be able to tune in as the country’s top decision makers discuss our path to a quick and strong recovery from this crisis,” he said.

In the forum, the DOF said that top economic and infrastructure officials are also expected to report on the state of the Philippine economy, as well as the government’s ongoing efforts to leverage on its strong fundamentals in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar will present performance updates and priority plans, respectively, on the economic and infrastructure fronts.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will speak on the Philippine Economic Recovery Program.

“The audience can expect Secretary Dominguez to delve deeper into the challenges we’re facing right now, the accomplishments in the previous year that we can build on, and the legislative proposals that the economic team submitted for Congress to consider,” Lambino said.

Meanwhile, updates on the monetary, external, and financial sectors will be discussed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Pre-SONA forums are held annually to discuss in greater detail the achievements of the government in the previous year and the priorities of the Cabinet cluster heads in the run-up to the President’s SONA on July 27.

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.

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