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(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

DUTERTE ORDERS TO SPARE NONE IN DAP PROBE
[Incoming Justice Secretary: 'No selective justice this time'.]


MAY 25 -INCOMING JUSTICE SECRETARY VITALIANO: AGUIRRE SAYS NO SELECTIVE JUSTICE THIS TIME -
The Duterte government will reinvestigate the notorious Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) despite the Ombudsman starting a probe on the scheme based on a scaled-down technical malversation charges involving only Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his under-secretary, Mario Relampagos, but excluding President Aquino. Incoming Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said in a televised interview that presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered to spare no one in going after the DAP misuse and other scandals in the current administration, including President Aquino himself.“We are going to investigate the DAP. If the evidence warrants, we will be filing cases. Duterte told me that charges should be filed no matter who gets hurt. There should be no selective justice,” he said. The Supreme Court ruled in July, 2014 that Palace acts which created the DAP were unconstitutional and that the author, proponents and implementors of the program to prove good faith in a proper tribunal or face prosecution.The Court cited three specific Executive acts as unconstitutional namely “the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings, prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA; the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive; and the funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the GAA.A later revision of the ruling after the Executive made an appeal relaxed the provisions on the Palace acts deemed unconstitutional and provided that only the author should be held liable.The DAP was a program to put up an economic stimulus fund that was collected from agencies but were used instead as a leverage with legislators to implement the agenda of the Palace. It was Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who, in a privilege speech exposed Aquino’s DAP, unaware of its existence then, believing that it was additional priority development assistance fund (PDAF) given to senators as “incentives.” The amounts given to the senators who had voted to acquit then Chief Justice Renato Corona were P50 million in pork with other allies of President Aquino, such as Franklin Drilon, then chairman of the Finance committee, and Sen. Francis Escudero, among others, given P100 million in pork projects. READ MORE...RELATED,
After Aquino ‘kills’ FOI bill, advocates see hope in Duterte -VERA files authors...

ALSO: Duterte tirade to Catholic Bishops - Pray for healing, peace
[BISHOPS RESPOND: The Catholic Church has sinners, but it also has saints, and it will take more than a Rodrigo Duterte to bring down the faith.]


MAY 25 -Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto and CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas pose with other bishops during the ordination of Archbishop Enrique Macaraeg, incoming bishop of Tarlac, at the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan City yesterday. CESAR RAMIREZ
The Catholic Church has sinners, but it also has saints, and it will take more than a Rodrigo Duterte to bring down the faith. This was the response of several prelates to tirades by incoming president Rodrigo Duterte against the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which had warned the nation against voting for “morally reprehensible” candidates. While no candidate was identified, Duterte felt alluded to and described the Church as a “hypocritical institution.” Amid Duterte’s continuing harangue, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas yesterday led the CBCP in praying for healing and reconciliation. Villegas, president of the CBCP, led 47 other bishops in prayer during the ordination of Fr. Enrique Macaraeg, incoming bishop of the Diocese of Tarlac. Villegas offered prayers for reconciliation and healing but there was no mention of Duterte. A ranking official of the Diocese of Legazpi City in the Bicol region, meanwhile, agreed with the statements of Duterte branding the Catholic Church as a “hypocritical institution.” “There are also leaders who are hypocrites as there are sinners and upright members inside this Church,” Fr. Rex Arjuna said. Arjuna, however, argued the Catholic Church as a mystical body of Jesus Christ is not a hypocritical organization. “The Catholic Church is not teeming with hypocrites that he is even welcome inside as one of the hypocrites,” Arjuna said. Former Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz agrees with Duterte and he said he is not the first person to challenge the stability of the Catholic Church. “The Church has undergone many trials and difficulties in 2,000 years. But don’t worry, the Church will continue, on and on and on. So, it may be good for the good mayor and incoming president to know these things,” Cruz said. He said Duterte alone would not be able to topple down the Catholic Church that has existed for more than 2,000 years. “The Church will remain unmoved. The churchmen will be there... that is with or without him (Duterte) being relevant in this issue. Since the Church has been founded 2,000 years ago, it has undergone a lot of challenges. It will take much more than him (to bring the Church down),” he said. Duterte over the weekend said Catholic Church leaders should not hold themselves morally superior because their “hypocritical institution” has a long history of wrongdoing. READ MORE..RELATED..Don’t become a monster, Duterte cautioned...

ALSO: Duterte talks about human rights in phone call with Trudeau


MAY 26 -Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier called leading presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte to congratulate him. The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld | AP/Bullit Marquez
Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte revealed in a press conference early Thursday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed human rights when the latter called him.
Duterte said that he received a call fro Trudeau at around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday which lasted for nine minutes. The presumptive president said that Trudeau brought up the issue of adherence to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "I'm following it. I said that we are partners, may we remain partners for all time," Duterte said told reporters in Davao City. "Universal Declaration of Human rights, fine, I said 'I'm following it, but Mr. Prime Minister, with few exceptions," he said. Duterte has been criticized for his human rights record in Davao, where he was mayor for 22 years. Hundreds have been killed in that port city on an anti-crime purge some believed he secretary run. On the presidential campaign trail, Duterte repeatedly vowed to kill drug criminals. READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte to CHR Philippines: Shut up! Calls CHR Chair 'nitpicking idiot'; Reacted to De Lima's lashing with strong warning...

ALSO: Controversial Rody gives yet another preview of his style
[ON MARCOS BURIAL, ARROYO PARDON, MARIJUANA, 3-CHILD POLICY]


MAY 25 -Incoming President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said there will be no fancy celebration during his inauguration, will only serve finger foods to guests at Malacanang palace and will deliver only 5 minutes nationwide television address to spell out his governance. PHOTO BY DENNIS JAY SANTOS / INQUIRER MINDANAO
DAVAO CITY—For over an hour on Monday night, presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte gave another preview of what could be a most controversial and unpredictable administration. Duterte said he would allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani, grant pardon to detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, legalize medicinal marijuana, and approve a three-child policy using family planning methods frowned upon by the Catholic Church.
The outspoken Davao City mayor notorious for his lengthy and invective-laced speeches also said his inaugural speech would last only five minutes and that there was no need for him to practice for the momentous event. “Just tell me where to stand,” Duterte said, adding in jest that he would fly to Manila for oath-taking on June 30, “but if the flight is delayed, bahala kayo dyan (that’s your problem).” He also wants to wear something made of cotton, rather than the customary barong Tagalog because “it’s itchy,” the incoming President said, warning guests that only finger food will be served for the event, “and no eating after.”  READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte: 'I believe in God, but I do not believe in religion'...

ALSO: Duterte is ‘a strong man of principle’ – Chinese ambassador


MAY 25 -This photo taken on May 15, 2016 shows Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte gesturing as he talks with military and police officials during an informal meeting at a hotel in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao. Business titans, turncoat politicians, celebrities and rebel leaders are descending on the long-neglected far southern Philippines, hoping to gain favour with the nation's shock new powerbroker. The remote and dusty city of Davao has suddenly become the country's new seat of power after hometown hero Rodrigo Duterte won last week's presidential election in a landslide. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE / TO GO WITH AFP STORY PHILIPPINES-POLITICS-DUTERTE-DAVAO BY AYEE MACARAIG (FILE) Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte is ‘a strong man of principle’ who clearly exhibits the type of leadership that the Chinese government would like to work with to improve the bilateral relations of China and the Philippines.
Ambassador Zhao declared this during Wednesday’s handover of the donations from the Chinese Embassy in Manila to the University of Philippines regarding the losses of UP in the fire accident the previous month. In fact, Ambassador Zhao is so eager to sit down and talk with the incoming Philippine leader about peaceful ways to settle Manila and Beijing’s territorial row over the mineral rich South China Sea that it believes the 2-year timetable laid down by Duterte before both governments can iron out their differences is actually too long. “Let me quote what Chairman Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, had said: ’10,000 years are too long. Seize the moment, seize the hour.’ I would say that two years is too long. Seize the moment, seize the hour.” And with Duterte’s expected assumption to the country’s highest position at the end of next month, Ambassador Zhao expressed confidence that the relationship between the Philippines and China will only “get better.” READ MORE...RELATED,Think tank: Duterte admin should strengthen ties with US, other allies...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

DU30 orders to spare none in DAP probe


INCOMING JUSTICE SECRETARY VITALIANO: AGUIRRE SAYS NO SELECTIVE JUSTICE THIS TIME

MANILA, MAY 30, 2016 (TRIBUNE) Written by Ted Tuvera Wednesday, 25 May 2016 00:00 - The Duterte government will reinvestigate the notorious Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) despite the Ombudsman starting a probe on the scheme based on a scaled-down technical malversation charges involving only Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his under-secretary, Mario Relampagos, but excluding President Aquino.

Incoming Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said in a televised interview that presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered to spare no one in going after the DAP misuse and other scandals in the current administration, including President Aquino himself.

“We are going to investigate the DAP. If the evidence warrants, we will be filing cases. Duterte told me that charges should be filed no matter who gets hurt. There should be no selective justice,” he said. The Supreme Court ruled in July, 2014 that Palace acts which created the DAP were unconstitutional and that the author, proponents and implementors of the program to prove good faith in a proper tribunal or face prosecution.

The Court cited three specific Executive acts as unconstitutional namely “the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings, prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA; the cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive; and the funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the GAA.

A later revision of the ruling after the Executive made an appeal relaxed the provisions on the Palace acts deemed unconstitutional and provided that only the author should be held liable.

The DAP was a program to put up an economic stimulus fund that was collected from agencies but were used instead as a leverage with legislators to implement the agenda of the Palace.

It was Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who, in a privilege speech exposed Aquino’s DAP, unaware of its existence then, believing that it was additional priority development assistance fund (PDAF) given to senators as “incentives.” The amounts given to the senators who had voted to acquit then Chief Justice Renato Corona were P50 million in pork with other allies of President Aquino, such as Franklin Drilon, then chairman of the Finance committee, and Sen. Francis Escudero, among others, given P100 million in pork projects.

READ MORE...

Budget Secretary Abad later admitted that the additional funds came from the DAP, but maintained that the allocations were neither bribes nor incentives.

Abad released P144.38 billion in DAP funds from 2011 to 2013. The Supreme Court found Abad’s pooling of savings and re-aligning these to other projects including to projects not approved in the budget as unconstitutional and ordered all agencies to return their unused DAP allocations.

Aquino was spared from the Ombudsman probe even as Conchita Carpio-Morales said before a House budget hearing that both Aquino and Abad are the subject of the DAP probe.



The anti-graft body said the exclusion of Aquino in the investigation was due to the fact that the allegations against him do not constitute an impeachable offense.

The DAP petitions also sought Morales’ action to implement the SC decision that sought to hold the authors of the DAP which included Aquino and Abad accountable.

In a statement, Abad considered the Ombudsman investigation as constituting a mere clarification of the SC ruling on the DAP since he claimed “technical malversation does not suggest that the individuals in question committed acts of graft or corruption.”

“Nor does the investigation imply that these individuals used public funds for their personal gain or benefit. Certainly, the inquiry is not a matter of whether individuals had stolen from public coffers,” Abad said.

Based on the result of the anti-graft body’s investigation, Abad and Relampagos authorized the irregular cross border transfer of DAP funds to projects for the Commission on Audit (CoA) and the House of Representatives (HoR).

The investigators, however, recognized the DAP funds were sourced from pooled savings as “a plan to boost disbursements” and “to jumpstart the implementation” of the government’s expenditure program.

From the total P31.9 billion DAP funds, the amount of P250 million was released to the House of Representatives for the construction of its legislative library and archive building and congressional e-library.

Field investigators noted, however, that the House project “is not among those approved by the President.”

On the other hand, the total amount of P143.7 million was released to the CoA to augment its information technology (IT) infrastructure program and hiring of additional litigation experts based on the approved Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).

Abad prepared and signed all memorandums and issuances concerning the DAP implementation while Relampagos signed the corresponding SAROs to CoA and the House.

Limited Ombudsman’s probe


MORALES

The Ombudsman had formed a special panel of lawyers that will conduct the preliminary investigation.

Under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of Technical Malversation is committed by a public officer who disburses public funds or property for a purpose different from which they were originally appropriated by law or ordinance.

The Ombudsman probe team also recommended that the issue on the utilization of funds to DAP projects in the Executive department be referred to the CoA for special audit.

Lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan former president of the Philippine Constitutional Association (Philconsa), filed plunder charges against Abad for his alleged violation of plunder as per Republic Act 7080 or the Plunder Law and usurpation of legislative power and authority as defined under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The charges were in connection with the alleged distribution of P50 million each to 19 senators in order for them to oust former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 over the former chief magistrate’s misdeclaration in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).

The complaint alleged Abad transferred the DAP funds “duly appropriated to one government agency to another without legislative authority” and has “feloniously allotted” P50 million each from the DAP funds to the 19 senators who favored Corona’s conviction in his impeachment case.

Alentajan said the admissions of Abad of effecting the transfer of funds that was already appropriated to a certain government agency without legislative authority was in violation of existing laws.

He said in the complaint that Abad misappropriated, converted, misused, public funds without proper authority from Congress.

Under the Ombudsman’s rules of procedure, a report from its Field Investigation Office (FIO), upon the approval of Morales, would still have to go through a preliminary investigation by a special panel of investigators from its central office.

Abad welcomes probe


AQUINO, ABAD

Abad said the preliminary investigation on DAP is a welcome move from the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Not only will the inquiry enable the parties to present their views on all remaining issues involving DAP, we likewise trust that the Ombudsman will conduct the investigation with the soundest judgment,” he said.

What comes around, goes around

It will be Aquino’s turn to be haunted by multiple charges of corruption under his watch, a lawyer of former President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday.

In a phone interview with the Tribune, Arroyo’s legal counsel Larry Gadon said it as if Aquino will be pinned down by karma which will likely “vindicate” not only his immediate predecessor but the Filipino public “whom he deceived”.

“After his term, Aquino must surmise how many Filipinos are frustrated with his antics and all his blame-games to Mrs. Arroyo that lasted for 6 years. Now, karma is up against him,” Gadon said, noting that many charges are lining up against Aquino.

Particularly citing the DAP of the Aquino administration which was already ruled by the SC as unconstitutional, Gadon warned that this will certainly be Aquino’s nightmare.

Comparing it to his boss Arroyo’s plunder case which involved intelligence funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Aquino, Gadon said, will “have a hard time to escape guilt because he authorized an illegal maneuver of public funds with his signature”.

Whereas in the plunder allegation where she merely annotated the doling out of funds, which is not at all ruled to be illegal as it is deemed to be under the president’s discretion, Arroyo is apparently safer as far as logical consequence is concerned.

Gadon also said that Arroyo will not part take in any cases against her successor who “seemingly jerked his lack of accomplishments and incompetence to Mrs. Arroyo”.

But for militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), another shameful sign of Aquino’s waning influence is the fact that Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts are now shifting alliances and will likely, given a last push, override his veto pending the P2,000 pension increase for Social Security System (SSS) pensioners.

“As expected, the LP dominance in the House of Representatives is disintegrating. LP members are jumping ship or changing allegiances just as many of them did during the early part of the Aquino government. One way this could be beneficial to the people is if the current members of the House rally behind the motion to override the presidential veto of the SSS pension hike,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes told the Tribune in a text message.

According to Reyes there are now 89 lawmakers who have signed up to support the veto override which is still short of the required 2/3 of total House members but notes that it would likely increase as more lawmakers are now trooping to the Duterte camp.

“The LP and Aquino’s influence is waning. There is now a chance for lawmakers to do something historic and pass the first ever veto override on an issue that stands to benefit so many SSS pensioners now and in the future. We have only a few session days remaining. May our lawmakers be up to the challenge,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gadon also clarified that there’s no politics in between Duterte’s appointment of some of former President Arroyo’s men in the cabinet such as Jesus Dureza, Hermogenes Esperon and, though rejecting the offer, Gibo Teodoro.

“There is no political color with President Duterte’s preference for his cabinet that include former secretaries under the Arroyo administration. It is purely their being experts and nothing more,” Gadon said.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

After Aquino ‘kills’ FOI bill, advocates see hope in Duterte By Brian Ezra Gonzales, Matthew Reysio-Cruz and Krixia Zhienelle Subingsubing (Vera Files) | Updated May 26, 2016 - 2:54pm 1 27 googleplus0 0


Media workers and Freedom of Information Bill advocates hold a protest rally. Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines -- Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has promised to issue on his first day in office an executive order mandating Freedom of Information (FOI), the first of what appear to be several marching orders for his administration.

Although an executive order would be limited only to the executive department, advocates see a possible commitment to the passage of an FOI law, which would have far-reaching effects and impose public disclosure on all branches of government.

As FOI advocates await Duterte’s first day in office, they cannot help but be reminded that outgoing President Benigno Aquino III had promised during his campaign six years ago to pass an FOI law, yet never lifted a finger to get it passed or have it certified as a priority measure.

As he bows out of office, Aquino and his allies in Congress, FOI advocates say, actually killed the FOI bill, which was supposed to be the linchpin of his anti-corruption crusade.

Turnaround

Six years ago, Aquino raised the hopes of FOI advocates by promising to support the legislation. His Daang Matuwid rhetoric guaranteed an administration built on transparency and good governance, and an FOI Act would provide greater public access to government records and transactions.

A month before he was sworn into office in 2010, then Senator Aquino signed and co-sponsored Senate Resolution 1565, urging the House of Representatives to ratify the bicameral conference committee report before the adjournment of the 14th Congress.

The resolution underscored the need for an FOI law "that will empower our people and contribute decisively to the transformation of our governance landscape."

The bill appeared ripe for passage when the Aquino administration signed the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011. Spearheaded by the US, the OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure government commitments to scale up transparency, accountability and public participation.

Malacañang submitted to the initiative a 10-page action plan that included a pledge to pass the FOI bill by the end of 2015. But that same year, there were indications the president was backtracking on his commitment and sending the message to allies in Congress.

"Having a freedom of information act sounds so good and noble but at the same time — I think you'll notice that here in this country — there's a tendency to get information and not really utilizing it for the proper purposes," he said in an open forum of a meeting of Southeast Asian business leaders.

Some FOI advocates say the president's turnaround did not surprise them. While he was still a senator, a source said, FOI advocates asked him to be the bill's counterpart sponsor in the Senate. They attempted to set at least three meetings with him, to no avail.

Stalled in the House

For the past 28 years, legislators have been introducing a Freedom of Information bill in Congress. The Senate passed its version of the FOI in the 14th, 15th and 16th Congresses. The measure, however, stalled at the House of Representatives.

At the start of the 16th Congress, Liberal Party (LP) stalwart House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said, “Bitayin ninyo ako kung matapos ito at hindi pa nakakapasa (If the FOI bill does not pass, you can hang me).”

During the first half of the Aquino administration, the House saw 24 versions of the bill, all of which were referred to the Committee on Public Information, then headed by incumbent Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a former journalist and an administration party member.

Evardone had been editor-in-chief of The Dawn, the official student publication of the University of the East. An activist who went underground during martial law, he became a news reporter of Ang Pahayagang Malaya, a national daily known for its critical stance against the Marcos regime.

Former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, former Deputy Speaker and co-author of the FOI bill, blamed Evardone for the nonpassage of the bill during the 15th Congress. He said the former newsman was "dribbling" the bill to delay its passage and called him a “complete disappointment.”

Under congressional rules, a House committee is allowed to meet twice a month, equivalent to least 26 meetings in three years. Under Evardone, the Committee on Public Information discussed the FOI bill only seven times.

Tanada said Evardone cancelled meetings with "excuses" that ranged from the non-availability of a meeting room in Congress to a Christmas party for senior citizens in his district that he had to attend.

Evardone could have asked his vice chairman to preside over the meeting but never did, added Tanada.

Evardone dismissed Tanada's allegations as “unfair accusations,” saying he, too, had wanted to pass the bill under his leadership, but had to deal with competing amendments proposed by different national agencies.

He noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Defense and the National Security Council all wanted to impose more restrictions, especially with government transactions and records relating to national security. Left-leaning groups such as Bayan Muna are opposed to the suggested amendments because these would go against the essence of an FOI bill, Evardone said.

He said the delays in the committee hearings were due to the long process of consolidating the bills. But when the committee report was finally out in March 2012, Evardone still did not calendar a hearing, Tanada pointed out.

Disgruntled with Evardone's apparent foot-dragging, at one point committee members planned to stage a coup against him. Belmonte dissuaded them from doing so, promising to speak with Evardone himself.

The bill finally got through the committee level on Dec. 12, 2012, a few months before the midterm elections, with 11 ayes and three nays. FOI never got past the plenary and had to be refiled in the 16th Congress.

Palace version

While Congress is an independent branch of government, it is no secret that Malacañang wields tremendous influence over the legislature, particularly the House of Representatives.

The controversial sin tax and Reproductive Health bills hurdled all the obstacles in Congress with the Executive actively leading the fight. President Aquino reportedly called up members of Congress in 2012 to muster support to pass the RH Bill, which the Catholic Church strongly opposed up to the end.

The president never gave the FOI bill the same treatment, according to Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, a member of the administration party and co-author of the FOI in the 15th and 16th Congresses.

Evardone said he never received any instructions or calls from President Aquino or from Speaker Belmonte and Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales Jr. What Malacañang did was to draft its own version of the FOI that “would balance legitimate needs for secrecy with the public’s right to know.”

Headed by Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, the interim group that drafted the Palace version of the FOI was composed of Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in coordination with its stakeholders. The incorporation of a Palace-endorsed version was supposed to help expedite the passage of the bill in the 15th Congress.

But waiting for and integrating the Malacañang version into the mother bill was a major cause of delay during the 15th Congress, Evardone said. The Palace forwarded its draft to the committee eight months after it was supposedly finished.

Tanada's political fate, however, appeared to be the strongest indication of Malacañang's real position on the FOI. An original Liberal Party member and already on his last term as congressman, he was left out of the administration's 2013 senatorial slate despite his expressed interest in running for higher office.

“If you push hard, you will not only get the attention of the president and the spokesperson, you may also earn their ire. I suffered the political cost. If you believe in something, you have to stick your neck out,” said Tañada, who is now with the private sector.

Stuck at the Committee on Rules

At the 16th Congress, the consolidated version of the 24 FOI bills or House Bill 5801 sailed through the committee deliberation with nine months to go before Congress was to adjourn. But the bill got stuck at the Committee on Rules, which was responsible for putting it on the calendar for plenary debate. LP stalwart Majority Floor Leader Gonzales headed the Committee on Rules.

According to committee secretary Joven Marcelang, Gonzales failed to put the FOI bill on the agenda when it was referred to the Committee on Rules. The committee chair wanted to take it up with Speaker Belmonte first.

Marcelang said nothing moves into plenary without the green light from Gonzales and Belmonte. But when asked about it, Belmonte said it was up to Gonzales. “It’s like we were really being passed around,” Mariquit Melgar, former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s chief of staff, said in Filipino. “It’s not just that they weren’t committed. Even after all the dialogues with them, nothing was happening.”

Nepomuceno Malaluan, convenor of Right to Know, Right Now! (R2KRN), a coalition of FOI proponents and lobby groups, said his group learned that both Belmonte and Gonzales were “unhappy” with the bill moving forward.

Melgar recalled hearing that Belmonte was upset when Dinagat Island Rep. Arlene Bag-ao, an FOI proponent, managed to steer the FOI bill from the subcommittee level to the mother committee during the 16th Congress.

Belmonte’s legislative team denied such reports, saying the speaker only wanted careful and exhaustive discussions on the bill to ensure that the House of Representatives would pass a balanced and responsible FOI bill with widespread support from its members.

Lawmakers’ fears

Much of the resistance to FOI stemmed from lawmakers’ fears that providing unbridled access to information would run against their own interests and could be prone to media abuse.

“Even the president says some people do not know how to handle information in the first place. Will they really be responsible enough? And they could clog FOI’s passage by simply bringing that up,” an insider said.

This was exactly what happened in the 15th Congress, when Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino of the LP coalition stalled committee votes by repeatedly bringing up previously settled matters on the right of reply (RoR) provision, which exhausted much of the committee’s time.

In essence, the RoR rider mandates that media provide equal space and time for replies of subjects of negative news reports. Media is against the RoR provision. There are already codes of ethics in place, such as the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) codes of ethics, that are tantamount to the same thing, said Nonoy Rubrico, supervising legal staff of the Committee on Public Information.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to the FOI bill is the perception that only the media would benefit from the enactment of the proposed law.

Tañada believes otherwise. “The FOI bill is not necessarily just anti-corruption. It gives the citizen the capability to make informed choices on any issue. What we can only do is make it easier for them. How they use it is their own [decision].”

No LP stand

In his six years in office, not once did President Aquino proclaim the FOI as a priority measure in his State of the Nation Address, save for a passing mention in the 2016 budget message.

In December 2015, in the twilight of Aquino’s presidency, the FOI was item No. 8 on the President’s Legislative Agenda. It was classified as a shared priority measure of the Executive and the Legislative, an apparent response to the public clamor for an enabling law to implement the freedom of information enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

“You can’t help but get the feeling that FOI was not that important. Some people say that the president’s support is only a form of tokenism,” said Rep. Baguilat.


Different organizations headed by Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition held a protest march in Manila last year to called for the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information bill. ABS-CBN News file photo

Sources pointed to the absence of a party vote or stand in the Liberal Party to explain the apparent dissonance as far as the FOI was concerned. Many FOI advocates within the LP themselves cited administration colleagues -- Aquino, Belmonte, Gonzales and Evardone -- as major stumbling blocks to FOI.

Although he had pledged to make FOI a priority if elected to the highest office, presidential runner-up Mar Roxas defended President Aquino's inaction on the measure, saying he was “not pushing (FOI) to take into consideration (the media’s) view against right to reply.”

LP member and vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, who co-authored one of the proposed FOI measures in the House of Representatives, said she still had hope that FOI could pass during the 16th Congress.

But Malaluan said the bill’s passage in the 16th Congress would take a “legislative miracle.”

Congress resumed its session on Monday to convene the National Board of Canvassers, which will proclaim the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates. Congress will adjourn on June 10.

As Duterte has promised to uphold FOI and Robredo stands a good chance of winning the vice presidency, advocates welcomed the renewed commitment to the measure. A carefully crafted executive order on FOI, they said, can help address administrative hurdles to public access to information in the executive department. Advocates, however, remain hopeful for the legislation of FOI law, that will “apply equally to other branches of government and to independent constitutional bodies, lays down narrow exceptions, and defines penal provisions, that cannot be covered by an EO.”

But, until decisive support is mustered for the bill’s passage, FOI would remain a broken promise.

(The authors are University of the Philippines-Diliman journalism majors who submitted a version of this story to their Journ 105 (Investigative Journalism) class under VERA Files trustee Yvonne T. Chua. This is an updated version. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look into current issues. VERA is Latin for “true.”)


PHILSTAR

Duterte harangue: Bishops pray for healing, peace Evelyn Macairan - May 25, 2016 - 12:09am


Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto and CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas pose with other bishops during the ordination of Archbishop Enrique Macaraeg, incoming bishop of Tarlac, at the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan City yesterday. CESAR RAMIREZ

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Church has sinners, but it also has saints, and it will take more than a Rodrigo Duterte to bring down the faith.

This was the response of several prelates to tirades by incoming president Rodrigo Duterte against the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which had warned the nation against voting for “morally reprehensible” candidates.

While no candidate was identified, Duterte felt alluded to and described the Church as a “hypocritical institution.”

Amid Duterte’s continuing harangue, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas yesterday led the CBCP in praying for healing and reconciliation.

Villegas, president of the CBCP, led 47 other bishops in prayer during the ordination of Fr. Enrique Macaraeg, incoming bishop of the Diocese of Tarlac.

Villegas offered prayers for reconciliation and healing but there was no mention of Duterte.

A ranking official of the Diocese of Legazpi City in the Bicol region, meanwhile, agreed with the statements of Duterte branding the Catholic Church as a “hypocritical institution.”

“There are also leaders who are hypocrites as there are sinners and upright members inside this Church,” Fr. Rex Arjuna said.

Arjuna, however, argued the Catholic Church as a mystical body of Jesus Christ is not a hypocritical organization.

“The Catholic Church is not teeming with hypocrites that he is even welcome inside as one of the hypocrites,” Arjuna said.

Former Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz agrees with Duterte and he said he is not the first person to challenge the stability of the Catholic Church.


Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz (Photo courtesy of Catholic News Agency)

“The Church has undergone many trials and difficulties in 2,000 years. But don’t worry, the Church will continue, on and on and on. So, it may be good for the good mayor and incoming president to know these things,” Cruz said.

He said Duterte alone would not be able to topple down the Catholic Church that has existed for more than 2,000 years.

“The Church will remain unmoved. The churchmen will be there... that is with or without him (Duterte) being relevant in this issue. Since the Church has been founded 2,000 years ago, it has undergone a lot of challenges. It will take much more than him (to bring the Church down),” he said.

Duterte over the weekend said Catholic Church leaders should not hold themselves morally superior because their “hypocritical institution” has a long history of wrongdoing.

READ MORE...

Cruz, however, said the Church and the clergy have never claimed that its members are “saints” and incapable of misbehavior. He even admitted that some of its members are known to have erred by having sired children or have lovers.

“Some of us are really not only sinful, but we also fall from a lot of mistakes and even excesses... There are bad priests, there are bad bishops,” he added.

He also suggested to the incoming chief executive that instead of debating over the “sins of the Catholic Church,” Duterte should bring the matter before the CBCP.

“There is a built-in mechanism to see to it that churchmen keep their promises and, wherefore, if they violate them, the Church will also impose penalty according to Church laws,” he said.

Cruz also suggested to Duterte to widen his perspectives, instead of limiting his concerns on a particular issue.

He hopes that once the Davao City mayor assumes his post as president of the Philippines “he would already put in his concerns the welfare of the entire country, not just about the Church and priests who committed mistakes.

“He really needs to widen his thinking so that the welfare of the entire country would be looked into and given, at the very least, good socio-economic development,” Cruz said.

For the Archbishop of Davao, in the city where Duterte is still the mayor, he would hear out the incoming president’s statements, even if it were against the Church’s teachings.


IN THIS EARLIER NEWS PHOTO, Archdiocese of Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles DD. shows the letter of Pope Francis to Davao reporters yesterday as positive response to the apology letter of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte after his cursing to the high pontiff of the Roman Catholic. Valles told reporters that the statement was made through Vatican’s Substitute of the Secretariat of State Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu saying that Pope appreciates the sentiments which Duterte expressed. Armando B. Fenequito Jr.

“The Archdiocese of Davao respects and listens with humility to the views and statements of our incoming president Rodrigo Roa Duterte about the Church, including those that may be difficult to accept and things that may be contrary to our teachings,” Archdiocese of Davao spokesman Monsignor Paul Cuison said.

Cuison said that even before the election period, they have had a peaceful relationship with Duterte and that he is always welcome in the Church.

“Our doors are always open to him,” he said.

Like other Davaoeños, Cuison said they acknowledge all the good things that Duterte has done in the city, especially for the poor and marginalized.

He assured Duterte of their prayers as he takes on the role as a president of the country.

“We join him in prayer asking for divine wisdom and enlightenment as he begins his journey as the new leader of this beloved land,” Cuison said.

‘Iglesia ni Duterte’

Duterte had slammed the Catholic Church for supposedly attempting to erode public support for him before the May 9 elections.

He cited how the CBCP on May 1 urged the public to reject a “morally reprehensible” candidate who had shown “scant regard” for the rights of others and the teachings of the Church.

He expressed disgust with the Church and urged the faithful to instead join him in the “Iglesia ni Duterte.”

“I am no longer a member of the Catholic Church, you can also join me in Iglesia ni Duterte,” he said.

Duterte said some bishops crossed the line when they campaigned against him. He chided them for allegedly seeking favors while criticizing immorality.

“How shameful! You cannot correct the abuses of priests and until now, you have not done anything. The Church has committed many abuses,” the incoming president said.

“Better go down on bended knees and pray to God and ask for pardon for the Filipino people.”

He cited the controversy involving the bishops who were given vehicles during the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In 2011, then Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairperson Margie Juico revealed in a Senate hearing that some Church officials had received luxury vehicles from the agency’s funds.

She said Butuan Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos had even asked Arroyo to provide him a vehicle for his 66th birthday.

The bishop admitted that he received a vehicle from Arroyo but claimed that it was used for charity works. The bishops have returned seven vehicles to the PCSO, with Pueblos admitting that he had committed “a lapse of judgment.”

Duterte also had harsh words for retired archbishop Oscar Cruz, who claimed that the vehicles given to bishops were used for charity works.

“Do not fool the people, Cruz… Do not f***k with me, Cruz,” he said.

Duterte was also adamant at how the Catholic Church has pushed for natural family planning methods, which he said were not effective in curbing the increasing population of the country.

“I suggested limit the number of children to three which is manageable. Why? Would the Catholic Church give allowances for those who have many children? Would the bishops give them money?” Duterte remarked. – With Celso Amo, Eva Visperas, Alexis Romero

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Don’t become a monster, Duterte cautioned SHARES: 1358 VIEW COMMENTS By: Tarra Quismundo
@TarraINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer 07:12 PM May 25th, 2016


Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Do not become a monster.

A known supporter of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte had this advice to the tough-talking longtime mayor, saying power could be intoxicating.

“I hope that he remains true to his word that he will respect the laws of the land, he will not work outside of the law, that he will not work with death squads on a national scale, and therefore become a dictator that in hubris and excess may become a monster,” Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora SJ said.

“Because once you feel you don’t need the law and you have so many followers, that power becomes very dangerous as we’ve seen in the past,” he said, adding that anyone—Duterte or even himself—was vulnerable to taking advantage of absolute power.

He, however, expressed understanding for Duterte’s unconventional ways and foul language, saying the public should instead just accept his “style,” expletives and all.

“I personally feel that he has a way of self-expression… It would be easier for people to understand him than for him to change at this point. I think this is his style, this is the way he’s been in politics in the past 20 years. I don’t think it’s realistic (to change),” Tabora said in a press conference here late Wednesday afternoon.

“I think he had tried the rid expletives away from his language and I don’t think it worked, so I think people are going to just accept that he is expressing himself differently,” he said.

Tabora even extolled Duterte as “clearly a man of the poor.”

“I think beyond the colorful words we get from Mayor Digong and his expletives, I think Digong has shown himself to be a man of the poor. I think that was what the people admired on him so greatly,” said Tabora, calling Duterte by his nickname.

As to Duterte’s abrasive stance towards the Catholic Church, Tabora said the conservative hierarchy could take this as a chance to reflect on itself.

READ: Digong slams Catholic Church’s stand on family planning

“I think that the position that Mr. Duterte is taking can be interpreted to be a very powerful prophetic position, trying to help the Church also to reflect on itself and to reflect on its own ability to be the Church of the poor that it has for many years proclaimed itself to be,” said Tabora.

READ MORE...

“He’s saying I’m not a saint, but you’re not saints either. So I think he’s saying “I have a love for the poor, maybe instead of knocking me down, maybe we should work together. Because if you continue to knock me down, I’m going to knock you down. I’m going to knock you down more,” said Tabora.

Duterte had recently called the Catholic Church as “the most hypocritical institution,” saying bishops have asked favors from politicians, including himself. He even taunted the Church hierarchy for his landslide victory despite the call against voting for him.

READ: Duterte slams Church as hypocritical institution

Tabora said the Church should listen to the people’s voice, considering that “a great number of people who voted for him are Catholics” despite the Church’s campaign against him.

“The hierarchy has to listen to this. What [are] the people of God saying in their choice of leader who was so very different from the bishops? So I think that this President is ushering in for us all who are Catholics a period of deep reflection on what we are saying about ourselves, and how we are actually implementing it,” Tabora said. RAM


PHILSTAR

Duterte talks about human rights in phone call with Trudeau By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated May 26, 2016 - 9:40am 3 32 googleplus0 0


Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier called leading presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte to congratulate him. The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld | AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 2:07 p.m.) — Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte revealed in a press conference early Thursday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed human rights when the latter called him.

Duterte said that he received a call fro Trudeau at around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday which lasted for nine minutes.

The presumptive president said that Trudeau brought up the issue of adherence to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"I'm following it. I said that we are partners, may we remain partners for all time," Duterte said told reporters in Davao City.

"Universal Declaration of Human rights, fine, I said 'I'm following it, but Mr. Prime Minister, with few exceptions," he said.

Duterte has been criticized for his human rights record in Davao, where he was mayor for 22 years. Hundreds have been killed in that port city on an anti-crime purge some believed he secretary run. On the presidential campaign trail, Duterte repeatedly vowed to kill drug criminals.

READ MORE...

Speaking to Trudeau, Duterte also apologized for the death of a Canadian citizen who had been abducted by Abu Sayyaf members.

"I said 'Mr. Prime Minister, please accept my apologies for the incident. We will try our very best and see to it that it will never happen again. and rest assured that the time comes we will be able to apprehend the criminals and exact justice," the Davao City mayor said.

The militants beheaded John Ridsdel on April 25 in Sulu, an impoverished province in the south after they failed to get a ransom of 300 million pesos ($6.3 million).

Trudeau earlier condemned the killing but vowed not to give in to the kidnappers' ransom demands. Following the beheading, the Philippine military launched an offensive that security officials believe have killed more than a dozen gunmen so far.

Duterte's spokesperson earlier said that the next president is looking forward to forming a diverse Cabinet patterned after Trudeau's.

Trudeau is the second world leader who called Duterte to congratulate him after United Stated President Barack Obama. — with reports from the Associated Press

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RELATED, FROM PHILSTAR

Duterte to CHR: Shut up! By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated May 26, 2016 - 6:39pm 7 0 googleplus0 0


Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte says the Commission on Human Rights was “naive” and “too simplistic” when it made a big deal about his narration of an event. Screen grab from YouTube/File photo

DAVAO CITY – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday slammed the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for saying that he had violated a law when he delivered the much-criticized rape joke about an Australian missionary.

Duterte said the CHR was “naive” and “too simplistic” when it made a big deal about his narration of an event.

“(CHR) wasting the money of the Filipino people. Tell them ‘Shut up,’” Duterte said.

“They are too naive and too simplistic. I was narrating an event. You cannot prevent me from talking. I am exercising my right to free speech,” he added.

Duterte also called CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon “an idiot.”

“That idiot is nitpicking. I told already in public how it happened. Then (he keeps) on issuing a statement. Here I am, I’m about to enter the presidency. What do you want?” the tough-talking politician said.

“If he (Gascon) wants, I can go to his office. If he is agreeable, I can go to his office,” he added.

READ: Palace hopeful Duterte will adhere to Magna Carta of Women once seated

During the campaign period, Duterte drew flak after joking about the rape and murder of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill during the 1989 Davao City hostage crisis. Duterte was serving his first term as mayor of this city when the crisis happened.

In one of his campaign rallies, Duterte said the victim looked like an actress and joked that as mayor, “he should have been the first.”

On Wednesday, CHR released a resolution stating that Duterte had violated the Magna Carta of Women when he made the joke.

"The CHR, in the dispositive part of the resolution, found the words and actions of Mayor Duterte to be discriminatory of women that is enjoined by the Magna Carta of Women," the CHR resolution read.

The commission also asked the Civil Service Commission and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to “consider taking appropriate measures” against Duterte. It also cited the need to require all government officials to attend gender sensitivity seminars.

Duterte, however, does not seem to care about the CHR’s findings.

“They should not push it. They will just be humiliated,” the next Philippine president said.

Duterte warns de Lima

Duterte also lashed at incoming senator and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who said that she would be watching him.

He said he would probe de Lima for the presence of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride at the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as Justice chief.

“You better look at your own backyard. Shabu is being cooked inside your premises in Bilibid,” Duterte said.

“It took her seven months to enter there…shut up de Lima. I’ll investigate you and file charges against you,” he added.

“Do not pick a fight with me you will lose.”


INQUIRER

Controversial Rody gives yet another preview of his style @inquirerdotnet 12:56 AM May 25th, 2016


Incoming President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said there will be no fancy celebration during his inauguration, will only serve finger foods to guests at Malacanang palace and will deliver only 5 minutes nationwide television address to spell out his governance. PHOTO BY DENNIS JAY SANTOS / INQUIRER MINDANAO

DAVAO CITY—For over an hour on Monday night, presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte gave another preview of what could be a most controversial and unpredictable administration.

Duterte said he would allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani, grant pardon to detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, legalize medicinal marijuana, and approve a three-child policy using family planning methods frowned upon by the Catholic Church.

The outspoken Davao City mayor notorious for his lengthy and invective-laced speeches also said his inaugural speech would last only five minutes and that there was no need for him to practice for the momentous event.

“Just tell me where to stand,” Duterte said, adding in jest that he would fly to Manila for oath-taking on June 30, “but if the flight is delayed, bahala kayo dyan (that’s your problem).”

He also wants to wear something made of cotton, rather than the customary barong Tagalog because “it’s itchy,” the incoming President said, warning guests that only finger food will be served for the event, “and no eating after.”

READ MORE...

Marcos burial

Duterte said he would allow the burial of President Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani, “not because he (was) a hero, but because he was a Filipino soldier,” adding that the contentious issue “has long created a division among our people.”

Anti-Marcos groups have cited massive graft and human rights abuses during martial law as reasons for refusing him burial in the 142-hectare cemetery in Taguig City where some of the country’s leaders are buried.

After Marcos was brought home following his 1989 death in exile in Hawaii, his embalmed body has been on display inside a refrigerated crypt in his hometown in Ilocos.

Marijuana

In that Monday night press briefing, Duterte also said he was for the legalization of medicinal marijuana which, he said, was already an ingredient of modern medicine.

In 2014, a bill was filed in Congress calling for the legalization of marijuana use for patients who have incapacitating illnesses.

The Department of Health vowed to study the proposal which has both supporters and detractors among medical professionals.

Duterte, however, clarified that he would push for stricter regulation to ensure that medicinal marijuana would be offered only to those who really needed it.

Arroyo pardon

The Davao City mayor said he had offered pardon to former President Arroyo, who has been on hospital arrest for plunder charges in connection with the alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

“I said ‘Ma’am, you want me to pardon you? It’s not because we are friends but because I do not think that there is a good case against you,”’ Duterte said of his recent phone conversation with Arroyo, who has been reelected Pampanga representative.

But the former President refused the offer because it would require admission of wrongdoing which, she said, she wasn’t guilty of, Duterte said, adding that it was unfair for Arroyo to remain in detention while her coaccused are already out on bail.

Harshest words

But Duterte seemed to have reserved his harshest words for the Catholic Church and its bishops who, he said, were “doing many wrongs,” including “not correcting the abuses of priests,” so “maybe (people should) stop listening to them.”

For good measure, he declared that he was thinking of implementing a three-child policy as part of family planning and making available birth control methods, including the use of condoms, which the Catholic Church disapproves of.

A national population policy must be put in place because the country’s resources cannot meet the growing demands of the populace, Duterte said.

But the three-child policy was a mere suggestion, he said. “I cannot force the people to follow. We are just suggesting that you are in good hands if you just limit the number of your children.”

Lashing out at Catholic bishops, some of whom received SUVs from then President Arroyo, Duterte barked: “When have you started using Monteros? Stop making a fool of the Filipinos. You should be ashamed.”

He added: “You have not done anything. There are so many abuses that the Church has committed. Better go down on bended knees and pray to God and ask pardon from Filipinos.”

Divisive issue

The Marcos burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani “would erase from amongst our people the hatred,” Duterte said, adding that the burial “can be arranged immediately.”

Earl Parreño, analyst at the Institute of Political and Electoral Reform, said Duterte’s decision to bury Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery would be divisive.

“It’s a wrong move to spend political capital this early when he should be consolidating support,” he said.

Asked if he was ready to face street protests for making such politically sensitive decisions, Duterte said he would allow the rallies, even if they dragged on for weeks.

Duterte said he also planned to release detained communist guerrillas, including Communist Party of the Philippines leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma, to foster peace talks to settle the decades-long Marxist insurgency. Reports from Karlos Manlupig and Dennis Jay Santos, Inquirer Mindanao; and the wires

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RELATED FROM MANNILA COCONUTS ON FACEBOOK

Duterte: 'I believe in God, but I do not believe in religion' By Coconuts Manila May 20, 2016 / 08:18 PHT Like Coconuts MNL on Facebook Follow Coconuts MNL on Twitter


JESSICA SOTTO OF GMA NEWS -DUTERTE INTERVIEW....

It's going to be a smackdown and our only worry is that there isn't enough popcorn.

In exclusive interview with GMA News anchor Jessica Soho on Tue, May 17, incoming President Rodrigo Duterte made an admission that very few Pinoy politicians would dare to make.

When asked about his stand on religion, Duterte replied, "For the record, I believe in God, but I do not believe in religion. Period. And the most hypocritical institutions in the Philippines, guess who?" (He said this in the video clip above at the 4:40 mark.)

Duterte then went on to slam the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, accusing its bishops of selectively following the supposed "Separation of Church and State."

Addressing the bishops who supposedly affiliated themselves with politicians, Duterte stated, "Kasi nung panahon ni Gloria Arroyo...kayong karamihan nanghingi ng sasakyan, mga Montero (Because during the time of Gloria Arroyo...many of you asked for vehicles, Monteros), and you call that a separation of state?"

The other segment of Jessica Soho's interview with incoming President Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

"Duterte was referring to an incident in 2009, when Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos requested a vehicle from former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for his birthday. It was also during the Arroyo regime when Malacañang had an office for 'religious and ecclesiastical affairs" which was headed by a Cabinet-level functionary," explained GMA News Online.

Duterte also brought up his experience of being sexually molested by a priest in 1956, when he was just a student. "Do not cultivate hypocrisy," Duterte warned.


MANILA BULLETIN

Duterte is ‘a strong man of principle’ – Chinese ambassador by Roy Mabasa May 25, 2016 (updated) Share9 Tweet2 Share0 Email0 Share81


This photo taken on May 15, 2016 shows Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte gesturing as he talks with military and police officials during an informal meeting at a hotel in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE / TO GO WITH AFP STORY PHILIPPINES-POLITICS-DUTERTE-DAVAO BY AYEE MACARAIG

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte is ‘a strong man of principle’ who clearly exhibits the type of leadership that the Chinese government would like to work with to improve the bilateral relations of China and the Philippines.

Ambassador Zhao declared this during Wednesday’s handover of the donations from the Chinese Embassy in Manila to the University of Philippines regarding the losses of UP in the fire accident the previous month.

In fact, Ambassador Zhao is so eager to sit down and talk with the incoming Philippine leader about peaceful ways to settle Manila and Beijing’s territorial row over the mineral rich South China Sea that it believes the 2-year timetable laid down by Duterte before both governments can iron out their differences is actually too long.

“Let me quote what Chairman Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, had said: ’10,000 years are too long. Seize the moment, seize the hour.’ I would say that two years is too long. Seize the moment, seize the hour.”

And with Duterte’s expected assumption to the country’s highest position at the end of next month, Ambassador Zhao expressed confidence that the relationship between the Philippines and China will only “get better.”

READ MORE...

“We are glad that the President-elect has already opened the option for direct bilateral negotiation talks and we welcome that,” he told reporters in an ambush interview in the sidelines of the ceremony. “It’s always been China’s policy to settle disputes and differences through bilateral channels.”

“We are looking forward to working with the incoming president and his team to explore the possibility of returning to bilateral.talks,” said Zhao.

Speaking about his recent meeting with Duterte in Davao, the top Chinese diplomat in Manila noted that he was particularly struck when the incoming Philippine president raised the issue about the fishermen who are seriously affected by the long-running dispute between the two countries which clearly “demonstrated his concern for the poor people.”

“The essence of diplomacy is about the interest of the peoples,” Zhao pointed out. “it is an obligation for the government to.engage in diplomacy in such a way that will contribute to the well-being of the people.”

Contrary to earlier claims made by the Philippines that arbitration was its last resort after exhausting all the bilateral means, China maintains that the Filipino government never had any discussions with Beijing on items in Manila’s claim over the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Think tank: Duterte admin should strengthen ties with US, other allies (philstar.com) | Updated May 26, 2016 - 11:50am 1 39 googleplus0 1


FILE - In this Monday, May 9, 2016 file photo, front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gestures at photographers to move back prior to voting in a polling precinct at Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School at Matina district, his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines. The U.S. has upset China by sending on Wednesday, May 11, a destroyer close to the largest man-made island in disputed South China Sea waters. Beijing responded by saying it will step up its own patrols. The likely election of Duterte in the new Philippines could undermine his predecessor’s policy that was unusually hostile to Beijing and relied on U.S. military backing. Beijing sees an opening even as it braces for a possibly unfavorable ruling from a U.N. tribunal, calling the process biased. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines — The incoming administration of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte should strengthen its alliance treaties with the United States and other countries such as Australia and Japan, a think tank said.

Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) needs to shift its stance from internal security to territorial defense.

"We believe the AFP should now develop a credible defense position that would make a potential adversary think twice before using force against the Philippines," Stratbase ADRi President Dindo Manhit said in a statement released on Monday.

READ: US Navy deploys strike group to South China Sea

Manhit suggested forming a trilateral armed forces consisting of the Army, Air Force and Navy for maritime territorial security.


Dindo Manhit, President, Stratbase-ADRi

The trilateral armed forces would monitor and secure the country's land features in the disputed South China Sea or West Philippine Sea and adjacent waters.

Manhit added that the next government should focus in strengthening the AFP's joint operation capabilities for the Philippines to be able to face an assertive China.

The analyst noted that the AFP's development of its early warning, surveillance, command, control and communication must be designed with allies in mind. This would include strengthening the country's alliance with the US built around the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

"Continuous training with allied forces, including the US and its other bilateral allies such as Japan, Australia, and South Korea should also be prioritized," Manhit said.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations is expected to issue its ruling on the Philippines' case against China's nine-dash line claim by this month. Beijing had refused to participate in the proceedings of the arbitration. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

RELATED: Analyst: Duterte will have difficult balancing act with China, US


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