Palace defends Duterte order to reduce number of holidays for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2021   •   917

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel some traditional holidays for this year in a bid to spur the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1107, Duterte moved to declare traditional holidays of Nov. 2, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31 as special working days “to encourage economic productivity by minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the order was based on the recommendation of the administration’s economic managers to support economic recovery.

“Napakatagal na po natin nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19,” Roque said in a virtual briefing.

“Siguro naman po ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time,” he added.

The imposition of lengthy lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 has led the Philippine economy to a slump. The pandemic has also affected millions of workers and businesses.

Opposition lawmakers, however, called on Malacañang to reconsider its decision, saying the reclassification of traditional holidays into special working days will affect workers’ pay as they will no longer get additional holiday pay equal to 30 percent of their basic daily wage.

In response to their calls, Roque said that “nothing is etched in stone” and that there is still a possibility that this will change with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

“Pero tingnan po natin kung anong mangyayari, nothing is etched in stone naman po. Tingnan natin baka naman dahil may bakuna na eh makabalik na tayo sa dati at baka hindi na natin kinakailangan maghabol pa ‘no,” he said.

The Philippines on Monday started its COVID-19 immunization program following receipt of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, courtesy of the Chinese government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte threatens to name ‘corrupt’ presidential bet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to spill some information about the presidential aspirants and who among them is allegedly ‘most corrupt’.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday, Duterte said he will bare some details and “what’s wrong” with the presidential bets in the 2022 elections “in due time.”

“I will personally name the candidates and maybe what’s wrong with them na kailangan malaman ng tao because you are electing a president, sino ‘yung pinaka-corrupt na candidato,” he said.

Duterte said the information came “from everybody” and from “personal experience.”

While he did not specify names, Duterte said there is a ‘very corrupt’ aspirant who cannot become president.

“Mayroon diyan, talagang hindi pwede maging president,” he said.

“Mayroon naman diyan na presidente, pero masyadong corrupt. Kala lang kasi tao malinis, pero yung mga transaction, business sa kaniya, official business, pati yung mga chinese nagreklamo na masyadong corrupt,” he added.

Another contender, he said, is a bit lacking in experience, and doesn’t even seem to know the “fundamentals” of what a person who wants to be president should know.

“Medyo kulang talaga. Kulang na kulang. Everyday may sasabihin siya na mali o maski the fundamentals of what a person na gustong mag-president dapat,” he said.

Duterte stressed that he is not politicking and that he only wants to reveal this to let the people know about these issues.

“I’m talking to you as your president. Kailangan ilalabas ko kasi we are talking of elections, we are talking of our country and the next rulers, so to say, so to speak,” he said.

“Walang personalan ito… Nothing at stake for me, wala talaga akong rason bakit maghanap ako ng kalaban,” he added.

Duterte has yet to endorse a candidate for the presidential race.

His daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, is running for vice president in tandem with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Palace on old video of Duterte discouraging booster shots: ‘Should be viewed in proper context’

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday said that the video of President Rodrigo Duterte discouraging the public from getting booster shots against COVID-19 was an old clip and that it should be viewed in the “proper context.”

In a statement, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the video clip, which recently made rounds online, was recorded in September 2021 when the COVID-19 situation in the country and the government’s vaccination priority was still different from today.

Nograles issued the statement after receiving information about a video clip of Duterte, in which he states that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are sufficient, is being shared and used by some critics to campaign against the administration’s efforts to administer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

“The said video clip should be viewed in the proper context. At that point, 21 million of our countrymen were fully vaccinated, and our priority was to increase this number, which is why the provision of booster shots had yet to be approved,” he said.

“The situation today is now vastly different,” he added.

Nograles said it was in November 2021 when the government approved the recommendation of Philippine health experts to use booster doses for all fully vaccinated individuals as the country was able to secure then an ample supply of vaccines and a substantial percentage of population was already fully vaccinated.

“To further encourage the public to get their booster shots, the President in his December 21, 2021 address enjoined the public to ‘take advantage’ of the country’s sufficient supply of vaccines against COVID-19 and get their booster shots to control the spread of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant,” he said.

“We reiterate that there is clear evidence that COVID-19 booster shots provide additional protection against the virus,” he added.

Nograles has urged the public “to refrain from sharing disinformation that will endanger the lives of our kababayan, compromise our efforts to contain COVID-19, and undermine our campaign to beat the disease.”

Duterte names new chiefs for AFP Western, Northern Luzon commands

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated new chiefs for the Northern Luzon and Western Commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Palace said Duterte has approved the appointment of Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos, the current commander of the Philippine Navy, as the new chief of the AFP Western Command.

He will replace Rear Admiral Roberto Enriquez starting January 24.

Duterte also appointed Major General Ernesto Torres Jr., the current commander of the Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division, as the new chief of the AFP Northern Luzon Command.

He will replace Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. effective January 7.

“We wish both officers all the best in their new tours of duty, and we are confident that they will continue to perform their mandate to serve our people and to secure our nation with professionalism, integrity, and dedicated service,” the Palace said.

In a separate statement, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed the appointment of the new officers to the two commands of the AFP “tasked with protecting the country’s northern and western frontiers.”

Lorenzana also confirmed the assumption of Major General Nestor Herico as the new commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps effective February 21. He will replace retiring Major General Ariel Caculitan.

“As these gentlemen assume their new roles in the organization, I am confident that they will rise to the occasion and effectively lead our troops in securing our nation and our people,” the DND chief said.

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