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Malacañang suspends gov’t work on January 2, 2019

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 18 December 2018 11:06 AM

(file photo)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang suspends work in government offices, including government-owned or controlled corporations, government financial institutions, state universities and colleges, local government units on January 2, 2019.

Based on Memorandum Circular Number 54 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, this is to give government employees the full opportunity to celebrate the holidays with their families and loved ones.

The government has also declared January 1, 2019 a regular holiday.

However, agencies whose functions involve the delivery of basic and health services, and disaster preparedness and response shall continue with their operations.

Malacañang, meanwhile, leaves the discretion of suspending work in other branches of government, independent commissions and private companies to its respective heads and management – UNTV News and Rescue

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Duterte to meet with MWSS execs on metro water woes

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 05:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) officials tonight (March 19), Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the MWSS executives may be asked to provide an update on the water supply conditions in parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province that were hit with water service interruptions for nearly two weeks now.

The meeting follows the directive of Duterte to MWSS last week to demand from Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services to release 150 days worth of water from Angat Dam in Bulacan.

READ: Duterte orders Manila Water, Maynilad to release Angat Dam water

On Monday (March 18), MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco and Chief Regulator Atty. Patrick Ty have faced lawmakers to explain the water crisis plaguing thousands of households in eastern Metro Manila and Rizal province.

READ: MWSS Chief Regulator: No power to punish Manila Water

Manila Water, for its part, said its water supply has improved in 90 percent of its service areas but water rationing operation may last until May or June. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Malacañang assures transparency in PH infra deals with China

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 12:14 PM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and President Xi Jinping of People’s Republic of China pose for a photo prior to their expanded bilateral meeting at the Malacañan Palace on November 20, 2018. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has assured that it is ready to disclose the Philippines’ infrastructure agreements with Chinese firms to promote transparency in the bureaucracy.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the assurance on Monday (March 18) as the Duterte Economic Team heads to Beijing, China this week to tackle the Philippine government’s infrastructure projects.

“Well, that’s pursuant to transparency, yes. Why not?” Panelo said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

In a statement released on Monday (March 18), the Department of Finance announced the trip to Beijing to meet with Chinese Counterparts to discuss possible infrastructure cooperation with China for projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will lead the delegation.

The Philippine Officials are set to meet with top officials of China’s Ministry of Commerce and Vice President Wang Qishan on Tuesday (March 19) to firm up possible new cooperation deals.

“Other members of the Philippine delegation are scheduled to meet separately with officials of the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), the office in charge of reviewing and implementing Beijing’s foreign aid projects,” the DOF added in a statement.

A Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) will also be held in Beijing on
Wednesday (March 20) “to showcase to potential investors the vast opportunities available to them in the Philippines as it emerges as an economic powerhouse in the region.”

The Duterte government is reportedly planning to spend P8 trillion for its infrastructure projects. At least one-third of these proposed projects will be financed by China, including the Chico River Irrigation Project, which has been hit for its one-sided loan agreement in favor of China.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has earlier cautioned the Philippines against borrowing huge sums of money from China.

“If you borrow huge sums from China and you cannot pay—you know when a person is a borrower, he is under the control of the lender,” Mahathir said.

United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also warned other nations in 2018 about the potential dangers of accepting Chinese investments as Beijing expands its development projects to increasingly distant corners of the world.

“When China comes calling, it’s not always to the good of your citizens,” Pompeo said at a press briefing in Mexico City after a meeting with Panamian President Juan Carlos Varela in October 2018.

Pompeo’s remarks came as Washington’s own investment agency is actively competing with China to finance infrastructure projects, particularly in Panama.

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima also called on the Duterte administration to heed warnings from Malaysia and the United States against accepting loans from China.

“This is not the first time that top leaders or experts cautioned us about our dealings with China that could unfavorably affect our country’s future, both in the aspects of financial and territorial security. We need to learn from the unfortunate fate of others who borrowed before us,” de Lima said in a statement.

Despite criticisms and appeal against the move to take out foreign loan deals, Malacañang has repeatedly assured that the country will not fall into a debt trap with China. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Malacañang takes swipe at critics as PH formally pulls out of ICC

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 18 March 2019 01:29 PM

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Salvador Panelo | Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday (March 18) dismissed the statements from critics that the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) could lead to impunity and more human rights abuses as “misleading and baseless response”.

The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect on Sunday (March 17) following the failure of the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on consolidated petitions seeking to stop the pullout.

Gabriela Party-list has warned that the country’s withdrawal could lead to “nastier rights abuses” while the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) believes that impunity will win as a consequence of the withdrawal.

The Amnesty International also said the pullout is a futile attempt to evade international justice.

Malacañang has denounced the statements, accusing these groups of engaging in conspiracy theories.

“It is open for conspiracy theories by the political opposition, the left and the human rights,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo  said.

The Duterte government has repeatedly alleged that these groups are in conspiracy with each other.

“March 17 has passed, the sky has not fallen and the sun still rises in the east, our people desire policies with results rather than noise emanating from groups closely associated with the [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front] and defeated major political party which is presently fighting for political survival and relevance,” Panelo added.

The Philippines’ withdrawal took effect a year after it told the United Nations that it was leaving the permanent war crimes tribunal. The move was prompted by ICC’s move to launch a preliminary examination in 2018 on accusations that President Rodrigo Duterte committed crimes against humanity through his war on drugs.

Duterte cited “outrageous” attacks on his administration and the supposedly illegal attempt to place him under the ICC’s jurisdiction as reasons for the country’s pullout.

Panelo stressed that the government’s war on drugs is anchored on national survival as well as accountability of those who seek to destroy the nation.

He reiterated that extrajudicial killings are not state-sanctioned but rather consequences of turf wars among drug syndicates.

He added that deaths in police operations happen because suspects resist arrest with violence that endangers the lives of police officers.

“There is no culture of impunity under this administration. The country’s criminal justice system continues to be operational and strictly compliant with the constitutional requirement of due process,” Panelo said.

He also urged those who assert that drug-war deaths were state-sponsored to file complaints before appropriate administrative and judicial bodies.

“Failure to undertake this process can only mean that they are engaged in conjectures and politicizing the matter to the advantage of drug personalities and criminals,” he said.

Panelo has earlier reiterated that the Philippines has never been a state party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC.

“The Philippines cannot leave that which has never joined in the first place,” he added. “The Philippines never became a state party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC. As far as we are concerned, this tribunal is non-existent and its actions a futile exercise.”

Despite the withdrawal, the ICC said it will continue the preliminary examination it launched in February 2018.

But Panelo said that “should the ICC proceed with its undertakings relative to the Philippines and violate the provisions of the instrument which created it in the process, it can only mean that it is bent on interfering with the sovereignty of our republic.”

Meanwhile, former Presidential Spokesman, Harry Roque, an expert on international law, admitted to being “very sad” over the country’s decision to pull out from the international court.

He stressed, however, that the Administration made the right decision to withdraw, underscoring that “the ICC was never intended to be a court of first resort.”

Roque stated that at the time when the Philippines joined the Rome Statute of the ICC, it was “under the principle of complementarity,” which means, there is no overlapping in jurisdictions between the two parties.

Roque also reiterated that the Philippine local courts are still functioning and that, “it is only when local courts are unable and unwilling to invest the most horrendous crimes committed against international community that the ICC should take and exercise jurisdiction.”

The Philippines is the second country to quit the ICC next to Burundi in 2017. Gambia and South Africa also withdrew their membership from the Hague-based body but later reversed its decisions.

ICC’s 123rd member

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ neighboring country, Malaysia, took a different path by joining the ICC as its 123rd member.

Malaysia said its move to join the Hague-based body “reflects its commitment to combating international crimes for global peace and security.”

The ICC, for its part, said it was inspired to see Malaysia joining the ICC, adding that its accession to the Rome Statute was a veritable act of recognition of the continuing value of the Rome Statute and the ICC. – Robie de Guzman

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