President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins other leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries during the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on November 14, 2018. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
SINGAPORE – President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his position that a code of conduct (COC) for South China Sea is urgent as China seemed to be unstoppable in its island and facility-building on the disputed territory.
The President said that being the newly assigned country coordinator for ASEAN-China Summit, he will try his best so that “everybody will know” that such reclamation activities require “radical changes in the laws governing international waters particularly the right of free passage or the right of innocent passage.”
The Chief Executive implied that China’s three-year bargain of negotiating for a COC might bring the friction among nations into something uncontrollable, that’s why a set of rules must be hammered as soon as possible.
“China is there. That’s a reality. America and everybody should realize that they are there. So if you just keep on creating friction, little friction, one day, a bad miscalculation could turn things, more fierce law. If anything could go wrong, it will go wrong,” the President noted during an interview before proceeding to the first Summit for the day on Thursday (November 15).
By friction, President Duterte means holding military activities that would only trigger a much larger problem.
He said it is pointless to use arms because “China is already in possession” of the disputed territory.
“It’s now in their hands, so why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he said.
President Duterte added that it is not his concern anymore if nations want to rage war against one another. However, he wants to make clear his interest in pushing for an urgent code of conduct.
“I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands and if there’s a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That is my only national interest there, nothing else,” the President concluded. – Marje Pelayo
Duterte on warrant of arrest against Reds: ‘No need’
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte | PCOO
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said there is no need to issue a warrant of arrest for the capture of the communist rebels who do “continuous crime of rebellion 24 hours a day.”
“Why do I need to have a warrant? By the fact that you are a rebel, you are a 24-hour violator of the Revised Penal Code of rebellion. Kay ang ‘pag ang rebellion — ang krimen dili mawala na kung matulog ka (With rebellion, your crimes do not stop even when you’re asleep), the President said during his speech at an event in Davao City, Tuesday evening (December 18).
The President added that he will wipe out the communist rebels along with the drug menace in the country before his term ends.
“I’ll just finish you. Why? If I don’t do it, you go again around the community asking for money and killing them if they don’t give…Iyong komunista gusto kong tapusin pati iyang droga. I want it done during my term,” he added.
Peace negotiations between the Duterte government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) had been postponed several times until President Duterte terminated the talks in November 2017 due to the rebels’ continuous attacks against government troops.
The Duterte administration later on pushed for localized peace talks, but again, to no avail.
This led to the President’s order of creating of a national task force to work on ending the decade-long armed conflicts with the communist rebels.
Malacañang maintained that President Duterte is not declaring a holiday truce with the rebels even after the communist group declared a unilateral ceasefire expected to begin on December 24, 2018. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Marisol Montaño.)
Palace says Duterte to sign Road Board abolition as Senate, House clash
FILE PHOTO: Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press briefing on Tuesday (December 18) said President Rodrigo Duterte is likely to sign the bill abolishing the Road Board “as soon as it is given to him.”
Panelo said he believes the President would do so since he, the President, is against the release of the P45 billion pesos road users’ tax due to issues of corruption.
“Yes, that’s what is needed. We want that the fund be returned to the treasury and then let the Congress appropriate again for specific purpose,” Panelo said in a palace briefing.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Senate’s position on the bill remains as the senators strongly believe that the road user’s tax has become a huge source of corruption among lawmakers.
“It’s good as abolished dahil hindi na iri-release ng executive department ang funding noon. Ngayon kung ipipilit pa rin nila, perhaps somebody should bring it to the proper venue, kung courts ang kailangan dito para ma-resolve iyan,” Sotto explained.
The Senate passed and adopted in September the House version of a bill abolishing the Road Board filed by former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez due to anomalies over the use of motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC).
But the Lower House through House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. later on filed a motion to rescind the approval of the said bill leaving it hanging in a balance.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, meanwhile, argued that abolishing the Road Board would affect the funding of several government services.
“Kapag tinanggal ang Road Boardm mawawala ang dedicated fund to address pollution at safety,” Suarez concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Bernard Dadis)
Duterte thanks US for return of Balangiga bells
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte kisses one of the Balangiga Bells after witnessing the official handover of its Transfer Certificate at the Balangiga Auditorium in Eastern Samar on December 15, 2018. | PCOO\Simeon Celi
SAMAR, Philippines – The historic Balangiga bells are finally home in Balangiga town, Eastern Samar after 117 years of stay in the United States.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday (December 15) personally led the handover ceremony of the century-old war artifacts to the people of Balangiga.
The President handed the certificate of transfer to Balangiga Mayor Randy Graza who turned it over to the parish priest of San Lorenzo de Martyr Church where the bells originally belonged.
President Duterte thanked the US government for the return of the bells.
He added that the homecoming of the artifacts was “truly a milestone and part of a meaningful history of the United States and the Philippines,” a vibrant chapter in the Philippine-US bilateral relations.
“Daghang salamat. Daghang salamat sa America. Daghang salamat kaninyong tanan. Daghang salamat sa Filipino. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!” the President said.
President Duterte reiterated during his speech that no one should take credit for the return of the bells, not even him, because it was the voice of the Filipino people especially the people of Balangiga, that convinced the U.S. to return them.
“Nobody can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans. The bells are returned. The credit goes to the American people and to the Filipino people. Period,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Jennelyn Gaquit)