Palace: Duterte dares Joma Sison to a one-on-one talk in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   December 26, 2019   •   513

Communist leader Jose Maria ‘Joma’ Sison (L) and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is challenging communist leader Jose Maria ‘Joma’ Sison to return to the Philippines and have a one-on-one talk with him.

The President’s agenda is about the peace process away from the usual Philippine Government-National Democratic Front’s way of doing things, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

“The President is daring him to come home to the Philippines and have a one-on-one talk with the President,” Panelo said.

“He is asking him to come to the Philippines, there will be no enforcement of any warrant, just come to the Philippines and talk with him,” he added.

Sison, who is on self-exile, is recognized as a political refugee in Utrecht, the Netherlands and enjoys the protection of the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Panelo said the Chief Executive wants the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to explain the recent attacks of the New People’s Army (NPA), the group’s armed unit, against government forces in Camarines Sur and Iloilo on the eve of the ceasefire.

“We condemn of course the violations of the ceasefire agreements,” Panelo said.

“We are giving them the chance to explain why it has committed such violations. He (Duterte) will wait for the explanation coming from them,” he added.

Meanwhile, Panelo said President Duterte is considering the request of her daughter, Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte to maintain localized peace talks and exclude the city from the negotiations with the Reds. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte on short visit to Davao City — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   May 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte travelled to Davao City on Friday (May 15) to visit his family.

The President opted to stay in Metro Manila in the past two months to focus on his work amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and due to tight restrictions under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). 

Aside from family visit, the President intended to check on the situation in Mindanao relative to the health crisis.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is now in Davao City to visit his family whom he has not seen in months and to assess the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in Mindanao,” Roque said. 

The Palace spokesman assured, however, that the President will be present in the scheduled meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 on Tuesday (May 19). 

“Rest assured that he will be back in Malacañang in time for the next IATF briefing,’ Roque concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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