Duterte appoints Midas Marquez as Supreme Court associate justice

Robie de Guzman   •   November 16, 2021   •   449

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has named Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez as associate justice of the Supreme Court (SC), Malacañang said Tuesday.

This was first confirmed by Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and later announced by Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

Marquez will replace Justice Edgardo delos Santos who opted for an early retirement in June.

Marquez is currently serving as SC Court administrator. He also served as SC spokesperson, Public Information Office chief and chief of staff of the Office of the Chief Justice.

Marquez has made several attempts in previous years to become an SC justice.

Back in 2018, he applied for the post vacated by then Justice Samuel Martires but Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte opposed his bid over his alleged attempt to curry her favor by trying to have a disbarment case against her withdrawn.

Supreme Court moves Bar exams to February

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday announced that the Bar examinations have been rescheduled to February 4 (Friday) and February 6 (Sunday).

The SC said this is in consideration for those who may not be able to push through with the exams due to the current COVID-19 situation.

The Bar exams were originally scheduled for January 23 to 25, 2022.

In a Bar bulletin, the SC said a total of 8,546 Bar examinees have reported that some of them have tested positive for COVID-19, living with COVID patients, or under quarantine due to direct contact.

The high court also said that 16 of the 31 teams that will be deployed will be “critically understaffed” if the current schedule were maintained.

“Considering these numbers, as well as the projections of the Court’s expert consultants on the progress of this current COVID-19 surge, the Supreme Court En Banc has unanimously decided that the Bar examinations be rescheduled to February 4, 2022, Friday; and February 6, 2022, Sunday,” the SC said.

Bar exams chairperson, SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, has urged Bar examinees to strictly undergo quarantine by January 20.

Bar takers who have concerns that are not within the competence of the SC’s help desks are advised to contact the SC via BarChairLeonen@gmail.com.

“Be patient. Take a few days off to regain your composure and then continue with your preparations. Soon, those who have the determination, tenacity, and resilience to overcome these challenges will become great lawyers who will serve our people well,” he said.

Leonen also expressed gratitude to local government units as well as schools that will host the command center and serve as local testing centers.

Defense chief on martial law rumors amid rising COVID-19 cases: Fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.

Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.

This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.

The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.

But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.

He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.

“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.

Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.

Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Duterte orders barangay officials to restrict movement of unvaccinated persons

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed barangay officials to limit the mobility of persons who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 amid rising cases in the country.

During his pre-taped public briefing aired late Thursday, Duterte told barangay officials to advise unvaccinated residents to just stay at home to avoid contracting the disease, especially its highly transmissible variants.

“I’m now giving orders to the barangay captains to look for those persons who are not vaccinated and just would request them or order them, if you may, to stay put,” he said.

“If he refuses, he goes out of the house and goes around in the community or maybe wherever magpunta, he can be restrained,” he added.

Being persons in authority, Duterte said barangay captains have the power to arrest “recalcitrant” persons if they are unvaccinated and refuse to be restrained or escorted to their homes, he argued.

At the same time, village chiefs can also mobilize civilians to help them with the subjugation of people who haven’t received COVID-19 shot from leaving their homes and loitering outdoors.

“Give them the task officially probably written and that converts their status from being a civilian but also a person in authority called upon to assist the persons in authority,” he said.

“They now become agents of a person in authority. That is my position,” he added.

The president, however, clarified that he was issuing the order as part of his responsibility to ensure public safety and well-being.

He also pointed out that unvaccinated people will not be immediately imprisoned, and persons in authority will have to talk to them about the dangers of leaving their homes.

“I hate to say this word pero — these words: being the President, ultimately I am responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino and that is why my orders are to restrain them,” he said.

“Hindi naman kaagad arestuhin. Paki-usap lang, eh sir hindi ka nagpabakuna then you put everybody in jeopardy. You go out, you get contaminated, dalhin mo. Ngayon, por pamilya, por bahay ang contamination,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte ordered the police to arrest and detain for investigation individuals involved in the illegal trade of COVID-19 drugs in the black market.

“I would insist for the police to arrest them and detain them for investigation. If it’s a serious offense, that will go about 34 hours of detention and in that time, you can investigate,” he said.

The president said that nobody will be spared, stressing that his order also covers agents and sellers or sales representatives, and even owners of medical infrastructures.

“Sabihin nila even it’s a matter of violation, ‘wala kami, ‘yung aming mga staff lang.’ Do not give me that s***. Hulihin ninyo at ikulong ninyo,” he said.

The unregulated sale of COVID-19 drugs is a serious offense because it victimizes those who need the medicine but cannot afford to buy due to very steep prices.

Duterte also asked the Department of Justice to assign fiscals who could conduct summary investigation and inquest of those involved in the prohibited trade. He also wants the police to investigate their areas of responsibility and to “solve the problem.”

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