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ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines—Duterte

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and the ISIS flag | Courtesy : PCOO

President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines.

During his speech in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday (April 9) in commemoration of the Day of Valor, he said that the government is close to crushing violent extremism and is pleased with the military efforts against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“Your efforts have brought us even closer to our ultimate objective of totally crushing the violent extremism at its roots. With this, I can confidently declare that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines,” he said.

ISIS-linked militants held Marawi City hostage back in 2017. The military was able to retake the city after five months killing almost 900 insurgents including Isnilon Hapilon, considered leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

The Chief Executive assured that he will continue the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while he is still in office. He will also provide assistance to the military and their families.

He committed to release P500 million fund for the military.

“I will continue to release 500 more and 500 more millions to my soldiers who do something for their country. I will see to it that you will have funds when you retire and that your school—your children and their schooling will be assured even if we are no longer there either by natural or by any other means of saying goodbye to this world. I have your back covered,” the president said.

The Chief Executive is eyeing on appointing former military officials to government posts. However, he denied using the military to empower himself.

He said that he prefers the military because he has seen failure and corruption in the bureaucracy.

“Hindi ako sabihin na pinapalakas ko ang sarili ko sa (I am not empowering myself using the) military because I do not need that. The people elected me. But I have a special fondness for the military for being fundamentally honest at (and) industrious. Kaya as you would see, the next few officials coming in would be military guys,” he added.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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President Duterte also has a right to privacy—DOJ

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets members of Japan’s House of Councillors during their courtesy call together with Japan House of Councillors President Chuichi Date, at the Malacañan Palace on January 8, 2019. RENE LUMAWAG/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte also enjoys the right to privacy under the Constitution, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

In a text message, the Justice Secretary said the president will only be obligated to disclose his health to the public if he is suffering a serious illness.

“The Constitution requires the President to divulge any serious illness on his part. But if the illness is not serious enough to affect the discharge of his official functions, the President has no duty to inform anyone,” he said.

Guevarra added that if Duterte’s illness will not disrupt his duty as president, the he is not obligated to inform the public.

During the weekend, there were rumors circulating that President Duterte was confined in Cardinal Santos Medical Center. However, on Sunday (May 19), former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go posted photos of him and President Duterte enjoying breakfast.

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Palace backs review of PH-Kuwait labor deal

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah sign the Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers on May 11, 2018 in Kuwait. Labor Secreatry Silvestre Bello III and other Philippine officials witness the signing. | Courtesy: DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday supported calls to review the country’s labor agreement with Kuwait in the wake of the death of a Filipina worker who died from alleged physical and sexual assault.

A group of migrant rights advocates made the call following the brutal killing of household service worker Constancia Lago Dayag in Kuwait.

“I think we should (support the calls) because according to (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello, there has been a breach in the agreement signed between the two countries,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing.

READ: Phl, Kuwait sign agreement over OFW protection

The governments of Philippines and Kuwait last year signed a memorandum of understanding to provide greater protection for Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

The deal provides domestic workers with food, housing, clothing and health insurance, and prohibits employers from confiscating their passports. Filipino workers shall also be allowed the use of cellphones and have at least seven hours of sleep and a day-off weekly with pay.

The labor deal was triggered by the spate of deaths of Filipino migrant workers in Kuwait, including Joanna Demafelis, whose remains were found in a freezer.

READ: Murder raps and death penalty await employers of OFW Joanna Demafelis

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last week reported it is closely coordinating with Kuwaiti Authorities in probing Dayag’s death.

Panelo said that concerned government agencies are now looking into the case.

“He (Bello) is investigating it and DFA is waiting for an autopsy report,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Tons of garbage from Canada were illegally exported to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered the recall of Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government failed to meet the May 15 deadline on shipping back tons of garbage it sent to the Philippines several years ago.

In a post on his Twitter account on Thursday, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order has been issued and the Philippine envoys to Canada are expected to be back in the country in a day or so.

“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so. Canada missed the May 15 deadline,” he said.

Locsin said the reason for the recall is to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

The DFA secretary said the move was triggered by Canada’s failure to show up at a meeting with the Bureau of Customs, as relayed to him by the Department of Finance (DOF).

“That the government may consider a 2 to 3 week delay DOES NOT EXTEND THE DEADLINE. Our diplomatic presence in Canada shall be de minimis,” he said.

“At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger,” he added.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents but he made no mention of any plans to recall envoys when he gave updates about the exported trash.

“According to the DFA, there might be a slight delay because of processing, documents are being prepared so it might take a little longer. The important thing is, they are taking it,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing.

He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it failed to move its illegally exported trash. He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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