Abella: Cabinet not forced to side with PRRD on Marcos burial

Legazpi City (Nov. 30, 2016) – “The president is extremely democratic.”

This was how Sec. Ernesto Abella described Pres. Rodrigo Duterte while denying reports that cabinet members were being required to side with the president on certain issues.

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The presidential spokesperson said that the president respects each and every opinion of his secretaries on national issues.

He told the media in an interview that the president did not oblige any of them to “toe the line.”

Citing the Marcos burial as an example, Abella revealed that Sec. Judy Tagiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had been very vocal against the stand of the president.

The president however, according to the spokesman, never forced Tagiwalo to change her viewpoint.

The DSWD secretary is one of the members of the cabinet who is known to have had affiliations with the Left, whom Duterte himself appointed into office.

Sec. Tagiwalo, Abella says, has realized that there are bigger tasks to be accomplished in the country.

“This is the reason, why she (Tagiwalo) has not left the cabinet.” he disclosed, apparently equating it the recent resignation of Ma. Serena Diokno as chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Tuesday.

Diokno resigned declaring her opposition to the burial of the former president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Media reports has quoted her saying, “The burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is wrong; it denies our history, erases the memory of lives lost and destroyed, mocks the collective action we took to oust the dictator, and denigrates the value of our struggle for freedom.”

Malacanang Palace had already released a statement thanking Diokno for her services to the nation. (J. Garalde)

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No whitewash in De Lima ethical probe – Sotto

Legazpi City (Nov. 29, 2016) – The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges today announced that there will be no cover-up in their investigation of Sen. Leila De Lima, refuting allegations of some legislators in the Lower House.

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Senator Vicente Sotto III, chairman of the said committee, instead reasoned out that they were just following due process.

Speaking in a media interview, Sotto stated that the senate cannot take action for or against a colleague without proper procedure.

The senator also dismissed the impression that the senate was an “all-boys-club” protecting each other as it was claimed in the past.

He cited that to dispel such suspicion, he does not agree that committee hearings should be held in executive session or behind closed doors.

Sotto declared that such sessions should be made public with the presence of the media.

In that way, the senator contended, the constituents would be able to see what is going on.

He stressed that, if indeed, Sen. De Lima is guilty of the accusations against her, she would have to face the consequences.

This was the senate chairman’s response to a public outcry calling for the expulsion of Sen. De Lima from the senate.

It came after the lady-senator was implicated in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary and her illicit relationship with her former driver and bodyguard.

To date, two major witnesses (alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and former lover Ronnie Dayan) directly linked her to the drug trade. (J. Garalde)

No soldiers killed in campaign vs. Maute – AFP

Legazpi City (Nov. 28, 2016) – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) belied reports that several soldiers have been killed over the weekend during the military operations against the Maute group in the province of Lanao.

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Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, the AFP’s spokesperson clarified that four soldiers were slightly wounded during the campaign and 11 were slain on the side of the terrorist group.

Padillla said that the four injured personnel are now recovering in a medical facility in the area.

The spokesperson also gave the assurance that the military unit involved in the actual operations has adequate artillery and air assets and is expecting that the fight would be over soon.

He pointed out that the Maute Group is just a small band of local terrorists operating in the Lanao, Maguindanao and Cotabato areas.

This group was established in the year 2000 and is presently led, according to Padilla, by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute.

According to the general, the said siblings were educated in Egypt and were influenced by Islamic radicalism.

The group was known to have had connections with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) but were now aligning themselves with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The military however dismissed this information saying that a small band like the Maute Group would claim alliance with any other notorious terrorist group for namesake.

Padilla also revealed that the group is believed to be responsible for the bombing in Davao City last August. (J. Garalde)

OPINION: Media, schools and self-seeking politicians by Atty. Oliver Olaybal

At the forefront of the Marcos burial hullabaloo are radio-TV networks, Metro Manila schools and misguided politicians.

They denigrate former president Ferdinand E. Marcos over the conduct of his presidency.

The “enlightened” schools provide manpower for the detractors.

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They mouth slogans, vilification and diatribes against someone they never came to know in their lifetime, or since birth.

It is not clear though who finances this regimentation of manpower and sloganeering that detracts from actual issues of the day.

Some politicians, left or right, inappropriately take advantage of the groundswell of scholastic upheaval on the Marcos burial issue.

It is doubtful if these people who want to divide the country realize the irrelevance of their cause.

As to killings, the number of Filipinos killed in the “war against drugs” in the last five months are nearly treble the number of those killed during martial law some 44 years ago.

The oncoming UN rapporteurs will have occasion to confirm this.

The lives of the bigger number of Filipinos who get killed today are not any less significant than those who got killed four decades ago.

As to possible misuse of public funds, the funds of the Philippine revolutionary government held by Gen. Antonio Luna that irretrievably passed into the hands of Ysidra Cojuangco were not any less valuable than the funds of the martial law administration.

Would not these activists also denounce to high heavens both Antonio and Ysidra for failure to return to the revolutionary government the funds that Antonio had left to Ysidra?

And would not the present Congress conduct a congressional inquiry into the illicit affair between the two, given the Congressmen’s “high moral standard?”

What is not discussed in public conversations carried by the mass media is that Marcos earned billions of dollars by way of commissions in black gold transactions (petroleum oil).

The commodity was imported into the Philippines over the years by private oil companies.

His dollar commissions were salted abroad.

These were private funds belonging to private oil companies.

The crime committed was at the least influence peddling, not malversation of public funds.

As to authoritarianism, declared martial rule is not any different from de facto martial law.

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Where people get killed today without undergoing court trial, the undeclared authoritarian rule is as abominable as declared martial rule.

It is not even safe now to be seeking help from the powers that be.

The Odicta spouses were gunned down after seeing the DILG secretary.

Mayor Espinosa got killed after he reported to the PNP Chief and was allowed to spend a week at the White House in Camp Crame.

No one could be sure now as to the eventual fate of Ronnie Dayan.

The Marcos detractors are not complaining against the authoritarianism of today.

They appear to be tolerant of today’s killings but intolerant of killings that took place 44 years ago.

The previous killings must be more pernicious than the killings of today.

The country need not be distracted from the real issues of today.

And our children need not be misled on issues they do not understand. (November 25, 2016)

DOLE to check fireworks shops nationwide

Legazpi City (Nov. 25, 2016) –  Starting today, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be mobilising all Labor Inspectors nationwide to monitor establishments involved in the manufacture and sale of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic materials.

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DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III made this announcement while denying reports that they were totally shutting down the operations of these businesses following the latest accident that happened in Bulacan.

Bello explained that they would like to find out if these shops are adhering to Occupational Safety Standards being mandated by the Labor Code.

The move, according to him, is to actually suspend the operations of these firms if they are not following the law.

The secretary cited the latest incident wherein two children were the fatalities of an explosion that gutted a firecracker factory in Sta. Maria, Bulacan recently.

The DOLE, he said, would like to “prevent deadly accidents in factories.”

Bello also mentioned the discovery of gunpowder in one of the establishments in the town of Bocaue.

In addition to this immediate measure, the nationwide inspection of these stores and factories would be in close coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP).

When asked about a proposed national policy on a total ban on firecrackers, the secretary explained that the plan is being studied.

If ever it pushes through, he clarified that it was going to be the Department of Health (DOH) who would be framing the Implementing Rules and Regulations regarding the said proposal.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself has been pushing for a total ban on fireworks all over the Philippines patterned after an ordinance implemented when he was still mayor of Davao City. (J. Garalde)

Sec. Pinol to control import permits come 2017

Legazpi City (Nov. 24, 2016) – Starting January of next year, all import licenses on agricultural products would have to go through the office of the Secretary of Agriculture.

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This was announced by Secretary Emmanuel Pinol yesterday adding that it was one way of cutting what he called as, “the proliferation of smuggled products into the country.”

Pinol explained that he personally wanted to handle the problem that has long affected not only the government but also the local farmers.

The secretary said if products make their way into the country without the proper certification, “They are technically, smuggled.”

He pointed out that these would have a drawback on the government’s revenue collection and the income of the local agricultural industry.

Pinol also announced that they have started by cancelling all import permits for poultry, pork, beef, and other meat products.

He said that there are reports reaching his office that most of these importers are using “recycled” permits.

The former journalist suspects that single-issued documents are being used several times for the same transaction.

The secretary clarified that this so-called cancellation is not a ban on the product importation but a method of double-checking these import permits.

He said that he has already sent teams to various points-of-entries to check on the admission of these imported items.

Pinol stressed that if the inspectors find the permits to be anomalous, it will be negated right there and then.

The secretary made this reaction amidst reports that there was an upsurge in the market of imported meat products some of which are suspected to be smuggled.

At the moment, the initial action of the department, according to him, is to see to it that the import documents are in proper order.

Pinol reiterated that the long-term measure, he previously announced, starts at on January 2017 and will cover not only meat products but other imported agricultural products as well like garlic and onions. (J. Garalde)