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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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Filipinos want Duterte to tackle inflation, jobs, China in 4th SONA – Pulse Asia

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Workers’ pay, inflation and jobs have topped the list of issues that Filipinos would like President Rodrigo Duterte to tackle during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, a survey conducted by Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated revealed Friday.

The survey, conducted from June 24 to 30, showed that 17.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they want to hear Duterte talk about workers’ salaries, while another 17.1 percent wanted him to discuss about plans in reducing the prices of basic commodities.

Meanwhile, 15.2 percent of the respondents said they would like to hear Duterte’s accomplishments and plans on generating more jobs or livelihood opportunities.

Other topics Filipinos want the president to mention in his speech on Monday are the issues surrounding the relations between the Philippines and China (9.2 percent), particularly the assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (6.1 percent) and the country’s policy in relation to China (3.1 percent).

Some 7.8 percent of the respondents also want to hear about the government’s war on drugs during Duterte’s SONA, 5.9 percent wanted him to discuss about improving the agricultural sector while 2.6 percent said they want pension increase to be tackled.

For residents in Metro Manila, the top issues they want discussed in Duterte’s SONA are the Philippine-China ties (20.2 percent), employment (18.3 percent), workers’ pay (16.6 percent) and prices of goods (10.7 percent).

The rest of Luzon cited salaries, while Visayans and Mindanaons want the president to talk about inflation, the survey showed.

The study also revealed that 75 percent of Filipino adults were aware of Duterte’s previous SONAs. Majority awareness levels are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the Pulse Asia said.

The pollster said it has 95 percent confidence level in the survey results with an error margin of +/-2.8 percent.

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Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Senator Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday said he is looking forward to hearing President Rodrigo Duterte’s push to protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22 (Monday).

In a statement, Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

The president asked Congress to pass the bill at last year’s SONA, certifying the measure as urgent. Congress was able to pass the bill in the 17th Congress and transmitted it to Malacañang last month.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” Gatchalian said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

Villanueva expressed hope that Duterte would sign the measure into law.

The lawmaker also expects the president to discuss other measures that will advocate for the interest of Filipino labor.

He cited the rise of illegal foreign workers and the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) sector as a growing cause for concern, saying its effects to the country’s economy must be carefully monitored.

“We have to be careful about this new industry because the benefits we stand to lose may be greater than those we could gain,” Villanueva said.

He said he intended to file a resolution to examine the supposed benefits from the POGO industry.

Villanueva reiterated his earlier position that POGO sector’s impact is minimal, at best, since it primarily does not create employment opportunities for Filipinos, and the industry’s rise is causing stress in the real estate market to the detriment of Filipino businesses and workers.

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Customs personnel tagged in corruption to face admin raps before Ombudsman – Palace

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte meets the relieved employees of the Bureau of Customs in Malacañang on July 18, 2019. | Courtesy: Sen. Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) tagged in corruption allegations will face administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, Malacañang said on Friday.

“Administrative charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte met with dozens of customs personnel in Malacañang.

Panelo said Duterte told them they will be given their day in court as part of the due process.

“The President has been forthright in telling these customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch,” Panelo said.

“PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] assured them that he would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office,” he added.

The president, Panelo said, “thanked them for accepting his invitation to meet him in Malacañang, which according to him, showed they still have respect for him.”

While waiting for the formal filing of charges, the said customs officials will be “in floating status without authority to act on official matters.”

The chief executive earlier ordered for the freezing of several high-ranking customs officials who were accused of corrupt practices in office.

READ: Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

“Let this serve as a reminder to all those officials or employees in the government that they cannot escape liability or accountability for their acts of corruption under the Duterte administration,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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