Duterte invites Juan Ponce Enrile to discuss West Philippine Sea issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021   •   617

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will seek the counsel of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea dispute.

In a taped speech aired on Friday, Duterte said he has invited Enrile to join his meeting with Cabinet officials on Monday, May 17, to discuss the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China.

“We have respectfully invited Senator Enrile to come here kasi hindi man ako puwedeng makalabas na mag-usap,” he said.

“Pakinggan natin siya. Huwag na tayong — hindi na ako magsalita. Makikinig lang ako sa kanya kasi siya ‘yong — he was there right at the beginning,” he added.

Duterte said he would be all ears if the former lawmaker and a shrewd lawyer were to discuss the West Philippine issue with him.

“Sa kanya ako makinig kasi sa kanya ako bilib sa utak at pag-intindi nitong problema itong ating West Philippine Sea,” he said.

The president expressed hope that the 97-year old Enrile would accept his invitation.

Duterte did not say his reasons for consulting Enrile on the matter, but the former senator had previously expressed support for the Duterte administration’s diplomatic way of dealing with the maritime dispute. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DFA urged to summon Chinese envoy over additional ships spotted in WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to summon Beijing’s Ambassador to Manila anew over the reported presence of more Chinese ships within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at the West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros said the DFA should ask China’s envoy to explain the alleged presence of more than 100 ships this month as reported by a geospatial intelligence firm.

According to a report released Sunday by US-based Simularity, the number of “likely Chinese ships” spiked from 129 to 238, an increase of over 100 ships.

The report detailed that “between mid-May and mid-June 2021, the number of ships within the Union Banks increased from 9 to 236 and the number of ships near Gaven (Burgos) Reef in Tizard Bank decreased from 234 to 71.”

“Instead of de-escalating the tensions in the disputed waters, they doubled down. This clearly shows that China is shamelessly hellbent on aggravating the situation,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She also urged Malacañang to condemn China’s “incessant presence” in the West Philippine Sea.

“The Palace should look Beijing straight in the eye and tell her to remove her ships from our territories,” she said.

As of writing, the DFA has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Two months ago, the DFA summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian for the first time over Beijing’s continued swarming of Julian Felipe Reef with over 200 of its vessels.

China has ignored the arbitral ruling that invalidated its nine-dash claim over the vast part of the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA has repeatedly fired off diplomatic protest and called for the immediate withdrawal of the vessels.

Pangulong Duterte, gumamit lang ng matapang na pananalita para hikayatin ang publiko na magpabakuna — DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Naniniwala ang Department of Justice (DOJ) na gumamit lamang ng mabigat na pananalita si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte upang hikayatin ang mga taong ayaw pa ring magpabakuna kontra COVID-19.

Sa public address noong Lunes ng gabi, nagbanta ang pangulo na ipaaaresto ang mga taong tumatangging magpabakuna matapos nitong magpahayag ng pagkainis sa mga ayaw makinig sa panagawan ng pamahalaan upang makamit ang herd immunity sa lalong madaling panahon.

“I believe that the President merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible,” ang pahayag ni Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Sinabi rin ni Guevarra na bilang abugado, alam ng pangulo na ang hindi pagpapabakuna ay karapatan ng sinoman.

“As a lawyer, he knows that not getting vaccinated is a legal choice,” ayon sa kalihim.

Sinabi rin ni Guevarra na sa ngayon ay wala pang batas o legal na batayan sa bansa na mag-oobliga sa isang tao na magpabakuna laban sa COVID-19.

“There is no law as yet that compels vaccination against COID-19, much less criminalizes it, as presently available vaccines are still in their trial phases,” ang wika ng kalihim.

Nilinaw din ng DOJ chief na humihingi rin sa kanya ng payong legal si Pangulong Duterte kung kinakailangan.

“He seeks my legal opinion only when he finds it really necessary,” ani Guevarra.

Sa public address ng pangulo, iginiit nitong kailangang magpabakuna ng lahat upang magkaroon ng proteksyon laban sa mas mababagsik na uri ng COVID-19 gaya ng Delta variant na unang natuklasan sa bansang India.

Ngunit kung ayaw pa rin ng ilan na magpabakuna ay mapipilitan aniya siyang gumawa ng paraan upang mahanap ang mga taong nagmamatigas pa rin laban sa pagtanggap ng COVID-19 vaccine.

Binatikos naman ng National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) ang pahayag ng pangulo at iginiit na walang malinaw na legal na basehan ang pagpapa-aresto sa mga ayaw magpabakuna.

Sinabi rin ni NUPL President Atty. Edre Olalia na maaaring banggain ng pangulo ang kapangyarihan ng hudikatura na may karapatng mag-utos ng pagpapa-aresto kung may matibay na batayan.

“Ang problema dito parang magbabanggaan, paano kung sasabihin ng korte ganito sabihin ng executive ayaw ko e di magkakabanggaan yan so magkakaroon ng sana wag naman ang tinatawag na contitutional na krisis kasi sino ang magreresolba ngayon kung ang dalawang sangay ay magbabanggaan,” ani Olalia.

Nangangamba rin ang NUPL na magdulot lang ng kalituhan o takot ang pahayag ng pangulo kapag hindi ito lubos na naunawaan ng publiko. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

Duterte threatens to arrest people who refuse to get COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to apprehend people who refuse to get inoculated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

During his weekly “Talk to the People” address, Duterte said people should heed the government’s call to get vaccinated and protect themselves against the coronavirus disease.

“Don’t get me wrong, there is a crisis being faced in this country, there is a national emergency.  Kung ayaw mong magpabakuna ipaaresto kita, at ang bakuna itusok ko sa puwet mo,” he said.

“Don’t force my hand into it… Strong-arm method yan eh. Walang may gusto niyan pero kung hindi kayo magpabakuna, umalis kayo sa Pilipinas. Go to India if you want or somewhere, to America.  But as long as you are here and you are a human being who can carry the virus, magpabakuna ka,” he added.

But if people continue to refuse to get inoculated, Duterte said he will order local governments to find those who have yet to receive their vaccine jabs.

“Otherwise, I will order all the barangay captains to have a tally of all the people who refuse to be vaccinated. ‘Pag hindi, ‘yung ivermectin na para sa baboy ang patira ko sa’yo,” he said.

The president did not say whether he will make good on his threat and what basis will he use for such an order as he admitted to feeling exasperated with reports about people refusing to get protected against COVID-19.

“I’m not… I’m just exasperated with Filipinos na not heeding the government. Tutal tayo dito, wala naman tayong hangarin kundi ang kabutihan ng ating bayan,” he said.

“I will think it over very hard — legally of course. Pero kapag ayaw ninyo, ipa-aresto ko kayo. That is in pursuance to a policy of a crisis of a health issue,” he said.

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