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Duterte back in China for 2019 Belt and Road Forum

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte receives a warm welcome from People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping prior to the start of the bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 25, 2019. (KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

President Rodrigo Duterte is back in China for the 4th time since he assumed the presidency.

The president is among the 37 international government and state leaders in attendance at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that kicked off in Beijing.

In his arrival speech, the President said he sees the establishment of more “high-quality” and “good-impact” projects between the Philippines and China, adding that the sooner they are completed, the sooner the people will feel the benefits of the relations of the two countries.

The President made this remark before he sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the forum.

The President also expressed hope that the two countries will work together to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership.

“We look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual interest and concern,” Duterte said.

The President also thanked the Chinese leader for his personal invitation to the forum, which he believes is a chance to further strengthen ties.

Duterte further said, “the forum provides another opportunity to renew and reaffirm our valued relations based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship and must continue to grow strength and meaning in the coming years.”

Duterte also attended the 1st Belt and Road Forum in May 2017.  –Maris Federez

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Jayme pleads ‘not guilty’ to sedition charges

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Rodel Jayme, the webmaster of the website which first shared the “Bikoy” videos

MANILA, Philippines – Website Administrator Rodel Jayme, who was accused of sharing internet videos linking the Duterte family to narcotics trade, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of inciting to sedition.

Jayme on Tuesday, entered the plea when he was arraigned before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 258.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the inciting to sedition rap in relation to the anti-cybercrime law, an offense punishable by a prison term of six to 12 years.

The DOJ said Jayme’s posting of videos is not an exercise of his freedom of speech and expression but a “clear act to arouse among its viewers a sense of dissatisfaction against the duly constituted authorities.”

READ: Prosecutors find probable cause to indict Jayme for violation of Art. 142 of RPC

The 27-year old webmaster admitted to developing the website which was later used to host the series of online videos entitled, “Ang Totoong Narco List,” where a certain ‘Bikoy’ implicated some members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s family and close associates to the illegal drug trade.

However, he denied involvement in the uploading and subsequent sharing of videos that have gone viral on social media.

READ: Rodel Jayme denies knowledge of uploaded Bikoy videos

READ: Jayme possible as state witness but no assurance yet – NBI

Jayme earlier expressed willingness to turn state witness to help apprehend the individual who spread the videos. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it will evaluate if Jayme is qualified to become state witness.

Meanwhile, the court also ordered Jayme’s transfer to the Parañaque City Jail from the NBI.

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Amid rumors: Palace says Duterte is OK, working while out of public eye

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte and former SAP Bong Go enjoying their classic Filipino merienda. The photo was originally posted on Go’s Facebook account, disproving rumors that the Chief Executive is confined in a hospital. | Courtesy: Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday assured that there is nothing to worry about regarding the health of President Rodrigo Duterte amid fresh rumors about his condition fueled by a week-long absence from the public eye.

Speculations circulated over the weekend that the president was confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City after suffering a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

The chief executive was last seen during the May 13 polls when he cast his ballot in Davao City.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is no truth to this rumor, adding that President Duterte is in his residence at the Palace, signing papers and working privately when not attending public engagements.

“Ang President, pag di ninyo nakikita, nagtatrabaho yun. Ayaw niyang naiistorbo yun, kasi pag nalabas siya, ang daming gustong makipag-usap sa kaniya,” he said.

“Ang focus niya ay signing papers, reading documents, memo hindi niya ginawa so he decided to stay put,” he added.

Panelo also said that the President sounded cheerful when they talked over the phone, however, he would not say whether he went to the hospital or not.

“Sabi niya, ‘I neither confirm nor deny, you draw your own conclusions’,” Panelo quoted the president as saying, adding that Duterte will inform the public if he is facing a serious health concern.

“Let me assure the nation, if there is anything wrong with the president’s health, serious or not to be of our concern, he will tell us, and he said so himself, many times over,” Panelo said.

On Sunday, former presidential special assistant Bong Go released photos of the President posing with daily broadsheets and sharing a meal in his residence in Malacañang.

Duterte’s common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña also belied rumors that the president was rushed to the hospital.

Speculations on Duterte’s health is no longer new as these are often sparked by his prolonged absences from the public eye.

In 2018, the 74-year old president admitted to undergoing a medical checkup to examine a growth found inside his digestive tract. He also said he needed to undergo some medical procedures for his gastrointestinal ailment.

READ: Duterte quells death rumors, appears on live stream

In February 2019, rumors about the president’s death circulated online. He later appeared in a video to end speculations. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte fires FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno | Courtesy: PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno for alleged corruption, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced this during a press briefing on Thursday by reading a letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea addressed to Puno.

“Dear Ms. Puno, please be advised that upon the instruction of the President, your appointment as director general of the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Heath is hereby terminated effective immediately,” the letter dated May 15 stated.

“This is in line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption, and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust,” the letter added.

Puno was also directed to turn over all official documents, papers and properties in her possession to the office of the Undersecretary for Health regulation of the Department of Health “to ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service.”

Puno was appointed by Duterte as head of the FDA in 2016.

READ: 3 cops killed, 3 others wounded in Camarines Sur ambush

She survived an ambush in October 2018 allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in Lupi, Camarines Sur.

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