Duterte welcomes Senate panel’s move to challenge his memo before SC

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2021   •   314

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (October 25) welcomed the move of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to challenge his memorandum before the Supreme Court (SC).

Duterte assured they will defend the memorandum prohibiting Executive Department officials from attending the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings on the procurement of pandemic supplies. The Senate panel wants to challenge the legality of Duterte’s said memo.

“At last, the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee have finally seen the light. We welcome this move of bringing the legality of the memorandum to the Supreme Court and we would like to congratulate the members for realizing, albeit late. That it is the court which should eventually decide on the constitutionality of the order and we will defend it,” the President said during his weekly public address aired Monday night.

“This is by far the most decent thing the committee has done and we are most eager to answer whatever questions you have regarding my not allowing officials of the Executive to attend your hearings that are legislative purposes,” he added.

The president again criticized the panel’s way of questioning resource persons, saying executive officials are made to wait for a long time but are not called to speak.

“Iyong mga tao ko sa gobyerno, iyong ipinapatawag ninyo at pahintayin ninyo ng ilang oras at hindi naman ninyo tatawagin at kung nandoon iniinsulto ninyo, para bang walang alam,” he said.

Duterte added that the SC is the only venue where the disagreement with the Senate panel may be settled.

“You have to be courteous if you want to be treated with courtesy,” he said. AAC

2 parts of controversial Anti-Terror Law unconstitutional – SC

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Two parts of the controversial Republic Act (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 have been declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

In a media advisory, the SC Public Information Office (PIO) said that during its En Banc Session on Tuesday, December 7, the high court voted as unconstitutional the qualifier to the proviso in Section 4 of Republic Act 11479 containing the phrase “… which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety”.

Voting 12-3, the SC declared this issue as “unconstitutional for being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression.”

The other part of the law that was also declared unconstitutional with a vote of 9-6 was the second method for designation in Section 25 paragraph 2 of RA 11479.

This section contained the phrase “request for designations by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions may be adopted by the ATC after determination that the proposed designee meets the criteria for designation of UNSCR No. 1373.”

“On the basis of the current petitions, all the other challenged provisions of RA 11479 are not unconstitutional,” the SC said.

“The main ponencia and the various opinions contain interpretations of some of the provisions declared in these cases as not unconstitutional,” it added.

The SC advised the parties and the public “to  await the publication and read the decision and the separate opinions for the explanation of the votes.”

The ruling was issued after months of oral arguments and deliberations on 37 petitions seeking to nullify the measure.

Palace welcomes SC ruling junking plea to compel Duterte to defend PH territory

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition to compel President Rodrigo Duterte to defend the Philippine territory against China’s claims and incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

“We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court dismissing the petition for mandamus filed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

Nograles was referring to an SC ruling dated June 29 but only uploaded on its website on November 22.

In a unanimous decision, the SC en banc dismissed the petition for mandamus filed by lawyer Romeo Esmero for “utter lack of merit.”

In his petition, Esmero claimed that it is the president’s ministerial duty to defend the national territory, which includes the West Philippine Sea as established by the UN Arbitral Tribunal.

He also asserted that “there is unlawful neglect or inaction by the president in the performance of his constitutional duty resulting to the detriment of ‘paramount public interest involve (sic) the livelihood of all of our poor Filipino fishermen and their families who are living in the coastal areas of the many islands facing the West Philippine Sea.’”

Esmero also suggested suing China before the International Criminal Court “to demand payment and damages for taking the Kalayaan Islands.”

“Our ruling in De Lima v. Duterte is clear: the president is immune from suit during his incumbency, regardless of the nature of the suit filed against him. Petitioner named President Duterte as the sole respondent in this case. For this reason, this suit should be dismissed outright,” the SC said.

The high court also noted that the petition for the issuance of a writ of mandamus “would still not lie in petitioner’s favor.”

A mandamus petition seeks to compel action and performance of a pre-existing duty, a ministerial function on the part of a board, officer or person, provided that the petitioner has a well-defined and clear right warrant the grant thereof.

“Indeed, the president is the guardian of the Philippine archipelago, including all the islands and waters embraced therein and all other territories over which it has sovereignty or jurisdiction. By constitutional fiat and the intrinsic nature of his office, the president is also the sole organ and the authority in the external affairs of the country,” the ruling read.

The SC said that for all the petitioner’s posturing, he failed to point any law that specifically requires the president to go to the UN or the ICJ to sue China for its incursions into the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

“Neither has he shown a clear and unmistakable constitutional or statutory provision which prescribes how the president is to respond to any threat (actual or imminent) from another State to our sovereignty or exercise of our sovereign rights,” the court said.

The SC said that former President Benigno S. Aquino was under no obligation to file a case against China through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013.

“Taking China to binding arbitration was risky, as it could potentially damage relations with a major trading partner. On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal issued an award overwhelmingly in favor of claims by the Philippines and ultimately bringing some clarity to the overlapping claims in the area,” the court noted.

The SC said that if President Duterte now sees fit to take a different approach with China despite said ruling, “this does not by itself mean that he has, as petitioner suggests, unlawfully abdicated his duty to protect and defend our national territory, correctible with the issuance by this Court of the extraordinary writ of mandamus.”

“Being the Head of State, he is free to use his own discretion in this matter, accountable only to his country in his political character and to his own conscience,” the SC added.

The 9-page ruling was penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda. All 13 other justices concurred with the decision.

With this ruling, Malacañang said that the “executive power, indeed, rests on the President, including the peaceful and stable conduct of foreign affairs. Matters within the President’s discretion cannot be compelled by mandamus.”

The Palace also maintained that the president is the chief architect of foreign policy and this is affirmed by the latest decision of the High Court.

“Having said this, the president has firmly kept his position to continue the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Malacañang said.

 

Philippines, Japan renew strategic ties

Maris Federez   •   November 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday renewed their commitment to strengthen the strategic relations between the Philippines and Japan.

In a press statement, the Office of the President (OP) said the two leaders renewed their commitment through a telephone conversation on Wednesday (November 17).

“The phone call between Duterte and Kishida came a week after the latter was re-elected as Japan’s prime minister by parliament,” the Palace said.

President Duterte congratulated Prime Minister Kishida on his election and the Government of Japan on the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games, Malacañang said.

“The President also recalled Prime Minister Kishida’s visit in Davao in August 2016 when the latter paid a courtesy call as Foreign Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Kishida was the first Foreign Minister received by President Duterte,” it added.

The Palace further said that Duterte and Kishida agreed to undertake an exchange of visits “at a mutually agreed time to further reaffirm the Philippines-Japan partnership and personal friendship.”

“They likewise exchanged views on regional developments and multilateral issues, including the South China Sea issue, the situation in Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula, and non-proliferation,” it added.

Duterte also acknowledged how Japan has been “indeed a friend closer than a brother” after it sent assistance in the Philippines’ coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic response and recovery efforts.

The President also thanked Japan for supporting the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the peace process and grassroots development in Mindanao, and the ongoing transition process of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Japan is unrivaled among our bilateral partners,” Duterte told Kishida.

The Palace said Duterte also informed Kishida that he is looking forward to the successful implementation of projects and activities aimed at enhancing the Philippines’ cooperation with Japan in the field of maritime security, particularly in maritime domain awareness, maritime connectivity, and preservation of the marine environment.

On his part, Kishida acknowledged that the Philippines-Japan relations “have indeed reached its golden age under President Duterte’s administration.”

The Japanese official gave his commitment that “Japan will continue supporting the Philippines’ peace and development agenda in Mindanao, ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The OP further said that Kishida “conveyed his government’s readiness to further strengthen Japan’s partnership in maritime security by supporting the upgrading of the Philippines’ maritime law enforcement capabilities.”

“President Duterte and Prime Minister Kishida agreed that it is high time for the Philippines and Japan to pursue deeper security engagement and coordination by launching a Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting or 2+2 meeting,” Malacañang said.

“The Philippines and Japan celebrate two milestones this year — 65 years of normalized diplomatic relations and 10 years of Strengthened Strategic Partnership,” the Palace said. —/mbmf

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