Duterte renews call for regional unity to attain peace, stability in South China

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2021   •   350

President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his call for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to remain united in pursuing peace, stability, and prosperity in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a press statement, the Palace said that Duterte made the remarks during the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits on Tuesday.

Duterte said the regional bloc should pursue initiatives to resolve the dispute in the contested waters in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award that favored the Philippines.

“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” he said.

Duterte, in his intervention at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, urged countries to translate their commitments into action regarding the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in the midst of the evolving geopolitical situation in Asia.

“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” he said.

As claimants craft a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, Duterte lauded the Philippines’ contribution to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, as the country reaffirms its commitment to the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC.

Noting 2017-2027 as the Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, the president reiterated the Philippines’ call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment.

Also during his intervention, the Filipino leader pointed out that a dynamic ASEAN-China cooperation puts both sides in a formidable position to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, address climate change and manage geopolitical issues.

He expressed his gratitude to China for supporting ASEAN’s pandemic response, particularly by “making life-saving vaccines global public goods,” the Palace said.

Also during the summit, the president said that ASEAN’s road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be long and difficult as the region reels from the impact of the contagion.

He emphasized the need for a phased and comprehensive implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and called for the immediate establishment of the ASEAN Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.

Aside from COVID-19 and the territorial dispute, the Palace said that Duterte also called on his fellow ASEAN leaders to stand with Myanmar in solving its crisis peacefully for the welfare of its people.

He likewise urged Myanmar’s political players to “engage in constructive dialogue,” and allow the ASEAN Special Envoy to visit the country.

At the 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, Duterte welcomed the Joint Statement on Advancing ASEAN-ROK Cooperation and underscored the need for deeper regional integration to accelerate post-pandemic recovery.

At the same time, he welcomed the signing of the Philippines-ROK Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, noting it is needed “for our economies to recover and bounce back,” the Palace said.

He also pushed for the full implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, it added.

Malacañang also said that the President welcomed the United Kingdom as ASEAN’s new Dialogue Partner and vowed to enhance relations with the European Union (EU) as the new Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations.

Duterte attended Tuesday’s summit via video conference. This is Duterte’s second straight year of virtually attending the meeting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

Duterte to join democracy summit hosted by US – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the “Summit for Democracy” to be hosted by the United States government this week, Malacañang said.

In a statement, the Office of the President said Duterte will join the summit set on December 9 to 10 “upon the invitation of US President Joe Biden.”

“President Biden has invited heads of state and government, other government leaders and voices from the business and nongovernment sectors to join the US in taking action to strengthen democracy,” the Palace said.

Malacañang said Duterte “has accepted” Biden’s invitation.

“President Duterte likewise welcomes the opportunity to share the Philippine democratic experience and commitment to democratic values and nation-building at the Summit for Democracy,” it added.

Biden will convene world leaders from government, the private sector, business and the civil society in the virtual summit. It will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad, according to the US State Department.

The summit has three key themes: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

The United States said the summit will offer an opportunity to listen, learn, and engage with a diverse range of actors whose support and commitment is critical for global democratic renewal.

Romeo Brawner Jr. named as new PH Army chief

Robie de Guzman   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Major General Romeo Brawner Jr. as the new commanding general of the Philippine Army, Malacañang announced.

“The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has approved the designation of MGen Romeo S. Brawner Jr. as Commanding General of the Philippine Army,” the Palace said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We wish General Brawner all the best in his new assignment,” it added.

Brawner is the current commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

He will take over the post from Lieutenant General Andres Centino, who is now the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Malacañang expressed confidence that Brawner “will continue the reform initiatives his predecessors pursued in order to transform the largest branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines into a more dynamic and more professional organization true to its mandate to serve our people and secure our nation.”

Brawner is a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Makatao Class of 1989.

He also served as acting commandant of cades at the PMA, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Marawi at the height of the campaign against Islamic State-linked militants who laid siege in Marawi City in 2017.

He also served as the commander of the 103rd Brigade in Mindanao and served as Army spokesperson.

Duterte signs order regulating prices of more drugs in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an order that would regulate the prices of more drugs and medicines being used to address the leading causes of morbidity in the country, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 155 on Tuesday, December 7.

The order states that price regulation via maximum retail price (MRP) and/or maximum wholesale price (MW) will be imposed on 34 drug molecules and 71 drug formulas used in agents affecting bone metabolism, analgesics, anesthetics, anti-angina, antiarrhythmics, anti-asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease medicines, antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, antidiabetic drugs, antidiuretics, and antiemetics.

The EO also covers drug molecules and formulas utilized in anti-glaucoma, anti-hypercholesterolemia medicines, antihypertensive medicines, anti-neoplastic/anti-cancer medicines, antiparkinsons drugs, drugs for overactive bladders, growth hormone inhibitors, immunosuppressant drugs, iron chelating agents, and psoriasis, seborrhea and ichthyosis medicines.

The order required all manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, traders, and retailers to display their retail prices according to the MRP.

The EO specifies that the MRP, “preceded by the words ‘RETAIL PRICE NOT TO EXCEED,’ and ‘UNDER DRUG PRICE REGULATION,’ on a red strip, shall be clearly printed on the label of the immediate container of the drug and medicine and the minimum pack thereof offered for retail.”

The list of medicines and their corresponding prices shall be subject to the review of the Department of Health (DOH), in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) six months from the effectivity of the EO, and every six months thereafter.

Violations of the EO shall be dealt with in accordance with RA No. 9502 or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, and other related laws.

Pursuant to the said law, the Secretary of Health is directed to investigate alleged violations of the price cap, and impose administrative fines of not less than P50,000 nor more than P5,000,000.

“This (order) is part of efforts to improve access to affordable, quality medicines and reduce the health-related expenses of our countrymen, consistent with the goals of the Universal Health Care Act,” Nograles said.

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