Duterte to tone down US ties; bars Cabinet from traveling to US

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 30, 2020   •   1309

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte said he is slowly toning down the Philippines’ relations with the United States (US) and told his Cabinet members not to travel to the US.

This was after the US government cancelled the visa of former Philippine National Police chief and now Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa.

“I am slowly toning it down and I said, as a corollary of Dela Rosa’s canceled visa, para sa akin lahat na lang. I don’t know about the Senate and Congress. They are not under my jurisdiction. But iyong mga Cabinet member ko (my Cabinet members), I will ask them to not to go to the United States, in the meantime. Parang boycott (Like a boycott),” he said.

Duterte said he will also cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of the Philippines with the United States.

“I am terminating. I was not joking. The day I said it was the day that I decided it should be terminated,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to meet with AFP, PNP commanders following Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Mindanao to meet with top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of the killing of four soldiers by policemen in Jolo, Sulu last Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.

Año, however, did not disclose the date and place of the president’s upcoming meeting with police and military commanders.

The Interior Secretary, who supervises the PNP, also said that Duterte may possibly talk to nine policemen involved in the shooting of soldiers.

“The president is going to the south to talk to our PNP and AFP commanders, sabi ko nga kung may time pa siya ay kakausapin niya yung mga suspek,” Año said.

Malacañang said the president was saddened by the incident between the police and military officers.

He has also ordered for the National Bureau of Investigation to expedite the release of its probe findings.

The Palace also denied that the incident is the result of the alleged state-sponsored extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration as claimed by former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Hindi po natin kinukunsinte ang patayan kaya nga po masinsinang imbestigasyon ang ginagawa natin dito sa pagpatay sa 4 na sundalo sa hukbong sandatahan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Año echoed Roque’s statement as he assured that those responsible for the Jolo incident will be held accountable.

“Extrajudicial killing is not the policy of this government and the Sulu incident, we will exact justice and make sure those responsible shall be accountable, umasa kayo diyan. Ako mismo ang personal na nag-follow up ng kaso,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Anti-Terrorism bill now under final review – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The bill that seeks to toughen the country’s campaign against terrorism is now under final review, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill has been forwarded to the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for final review before it reaches the table of the President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Ibig sabihin po, mayroon na pong memorandum na recommending a course of action to the president subject to final approval lang po siguro yan ni executive secretary at dadalhin na po sa lamesa ni president,” Roque explained.

The chief executive has a week to decide on whether to approve or veto the measure before it lapses into law on July 9.

Congress on June 9 transmitted the controversial bill to the Palace for Duterte’s signature despite opposition from various groups.

The anti-terrorism bill seeks to amend and improve the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007.

Under the measure, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

Proponents of the bill has repeatedly assured the public that activists and critics of the government will not be considered as terrorists following concerns that the measure will be used to target those who are expressing anti-government sentiments. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

J&T Express vows cooperation in probe over alleged parcel mishandling

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Courier Service company J&T Express on Wednesday said it is ready to face any investigation after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered authorities to probe reports of alleged mishandling of parcels.

“We appreciate the concern expressed by the President towards our customers’ welfare as well as the well-being of our many partners and employees,” J&T Express company said in a statement.

“Furthermore, we will cooperate with the government in any investigation that they will conduct,” it added.

On Tuesday night, Duterte directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the company and its finances.

Duterte’s order came after a video of the company’s employees carelessly throwing packages into a truck circulated on social media.

An online toy store earlier complained about the service of the J&T Express, citing reports from their customers that some items delivered by the courier service were damaged.

The president warned the courier firm of possible closure if they are found liable.

“We are committed to improving our services for the benefit of the public,” the J&T Express said.

The firm earlier said it will sanction employees involved in the alleged mishandling of packages. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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