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RIZAL DAY SPEECH: 'NOT GREAT LIFE UNDER MY WATCH BUT WILL BE COMFORTABLE FOR MANY FILIPINOS - DUTERTE
[RELATED: Duterte's New Year wish - 'Renewed determination']


DECEMBER 30 -President Duterte salutes after placing a wreath at the Rizal monument during a ceremony to mark the 120th death anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal in Manila yesterday.
The country “will not be very great” under his watch, but life will be “comfortable” for many Filipinos, President Duterte told descendants of Dr. Jose Rizal during the rites commemorating his death yesterday. “It will be a hard time (for the corrupt). It will be adjustments for everybody, and I assure you, we will not be very great, but we’d have a comfortable life,” Duterte told some of Rizal’s descendants gathered for the commemoration ceremonies at his monument in Rizal Park. Duterte led the formal honor rites, including the raising of the flag and laying of a wreath at the foot of the Rizal monument. READ MORE...RELATED,
Duterte's New Year wish: 'Renewed determination' ....

ALSO: Pray, not play firecrackers to welcome New Year – Bishop


DECEMBER 30 -Instead of welcoming the New Year with firecrackers, a Catholic prelate has asked the faithful to usher in 2017 by praying. “We should no longer use firecrackers to welcome the New Year. Be together as a family, pray together, and eat together would be a good way to celebrate the New Year,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that for the Catholic Church, the New Year is a time to remember Mary “as the mother of Christ, the Prince of Peace.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Terror alliance bared: DND chief links Maute, BIFF to bombing plots


DECEMBER 30 -ICONIC CEREMONY. President Rodrigo Duterte, with former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Special Assistant to the President Christpher Go, National Historical Commission acting chairman and commissioner Dr. Rene Escalante and other government officials, leads the traditional flag-raising rites Friday morning during the 120th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s martyrdom at the Luneta. DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday linked two recent bomb attacks to the terrorist Maute group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, saying they had formed a tactical alliance to spread terror. Speaking on the sidelines of the Rizal Day commemoration at Luneta, Lorenzana said the explosion in Leyte Thursday could have been carried out to divert the government’s intensified military operations against these groups. “We have this suspicion that the Maute and the BIFF, had this sort of an alliance. Maybe they’re sharing the technology in bomb making,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard. READ MORE...

ALSO Public urged: Be vigilant after Hilongos, Leyte plaza bombing [RELATED: Duterte visits victims of Leyte town plaza bombing]


DECEMBER 31 -Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said the military has reason to believe the Maute group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), through their established alliances, are likely to take advantage of the New Year revelry to launch their terroristic activities. AP/Aaron Favila
The defense department called for public vigilance following reports that the Hilongos Plaza bombing could be part of a series of attacks to be launched by the local Maute terror group linked to the Islamic State (IS). Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said the military has reason to believe the Maute group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), through their established alliances, are likely to take advantage of the New Year revelry to launch their terroristic activities. “The general public should be vigilant because these people can create trouble anywhere in the Philippines as they can travel anywhere. So everybody must be vigilant and be observant on what’s happening in their surroundings,” he warned. READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte visits victims of Leyte town plaza bombing...

ALSO: Russia offers sub, drones to Phl


DECEMBER 31 -Russia has offered to sell a submarine to the Philippines along with drones with military hardware to boost the modernization program of the military, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday. AP Photo/Aaron Favila, file
Russia has offered to sell a submarine to the Philippines along with drones with military hardware to boost the modernization program of the military, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday. Lorenzana said he would decline the procurement of a submarine because it is too expensive and the military does not need it right now. He said the defense department is looking at the acquisition of drones and sniper rifles. “The drones, we can get them,” Lorenzana said during the Rizal Day commemoration rites at the Rizal Park in Manila yesterday. While the talks are still in the initial stage, Lorenzana noted how aggressive their Russian counterparts are in establishing cooperation with the Philippines. READ MORE...

ALSO: The year that was - Duterte, drug deaths and De Lima


DECEMBER 31 -NEWSMAKERS OF 2016: (Clockwise from top) A woman cradles her husband, among the 6,000 people killed in the government’s drug war; Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath as the 16th president of the republic after winning the May 9 polls by a landslide; Sen. Leila de Lima, who made herself a thorn in the side of President Duterte, faced numerous charges after being linked to the drug trade; and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first Filipina to win a medal in the Olympics, taking silver in the 53-kilogram weightlifting competition at the Rio Games.
 The longtime Davao City mayor dominated the headlines for the better part of this year, getting elected 16th president of the republic in May after a bitterly fought campaign. Rodrigo Roa Duterte then launched a war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, while insulting the pope as well as leaders of the last superpower and community of nations, and making a rape remark that betrayed a coarseness of character and quality of a late night raconteur. Yet Duterte is quick to clarify that as he understood it, he ran for president and not for statesman. You want him ousted through coup or impeachment? Be his guest. You wish his plane to crash or sickness to claim him? Not to worry, there’s always the vice president. He wants to make peace with every Filipino, yet the police have a quota to meet in accounting for the country’s drug addicts which, as of last hyperbolic count, reached four million. READ MORE...


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‘Comfortable, not great life for Pinoys’ under my watch - Duterte


President Duterte salutes after placing a wreath at the Rizal monument during a ceremony to mark the 120th death anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal in Manila yesterday.

MANILA, JANUARY 2, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 31, 2016 - 12:00am googleplus

MANILA, Philippines - The country “will not be very great” under his watch, but life will be “comfortable” for many Filipinos, President Duterte told descendants of Dr. Jose Rizal during the rites commemorating his death yesterday.

“It will be a hard time (for the corrupt). It will be adjustments for everybody, and I assure you, we will not be very great, but we’d have a comfortable life,” Duterte told some of Rizal’s descendants gathered for the commemoration ceremonies at his monument in Rizal Park.

Duterte led the formal honor rites, including the raising of the flag and laying of a wreath at the foot of the Rizal monument.

READ MORE...

Instead of the usual speech extoling the virtues and sacrifices of the national hero, Duterte moved around to talk with members of the Rizal family, including former beauty queen Gemma Cruz-Araneta.

Accused of leading a rebellion against the Spanish colonizers, Rizal was sentenced to die by musketry in 1896. His execution at the Bagumbayan field that now bears his name is believed to have sparked greater outrage against Spain and led to the Philippine Revolution in 1898.

In a written Rizal Day message, Duterte enjoined Filipinos to make sacrifices if necessary in order for the country to attain true independence.

INDEPENDENCE STILL ELUSIVE

In the same message, Duterte lamented how independence has remained elusive for the Filipino people even after the death of Rizal exactly 120 years ago.

“We are fortunate recipients of the fruit of Rizal’s sacrifices, the freedom that he fought for and the self-identity and honor that he strongly believed we ought to defend,” he said.

“Beyond his prodigious and various talents, Rizal is best honored when we regard him as a beacon and moral compass in these challenging and perilous times,” Duterte pointed out.

“As in his time, our country is still fighting for independence. But today, we are fighting for freedom from the bondage of poverty, crime, illegal drugs and corruption,” he pointed out.

“Indeed, they are our present enemies; they are the modern invaders that subjugate our people’s hearts, minds and spirits,” he maintained.

Addressing Rizal’s descendants, Duterte said seeing Filipinos enslaving fellow Filipinos really made him very angry.

“We are here also, idiots of this country are making slaves of our brothers. And they get into the attitude… slavery to a chemical,” he said, apparently referring to illegal drugs.

“Hindi ako galit, talagang galit ako (I’m not just angry, I’m really angry),” he added.

Duterte called on all Filipinos to show the same passion and nationalism Rizal had shown during his time.

DAY OF GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE

“Each of us should manifest the same fervor and dedication that moved and motivated Jose Rizal to action. Let us therefore emulate the traits of Rizal, let us be willing heroes – patriotic, faithful and loyal to our Motherland,” he said.

“This day of commemoration is a day of grateful remembrance of his martyrdom so that we may also awaken and become our own heroes – committed to advocate good governance and uphold the rule of law; steadfast to end criminality and all forms of government corruption, and compassionate to the plight of the poor and less privileged,” Duterte added.

The President assured Rizal’s descendants that the country would be in good hands as he battles corruption and illegal drugs.

He added, however, there would be sacrifices as the nation continues its journey to development and stability.

“As our nation undergoes a significant phase of social development and economic growth, a period of national unity that calls for cooperation, patience and sacrifice of our people is necessary,” he stressed.

ISIS threat

In the same commemoration rites, President Duterte expressed his concern before guests from the diplomatic community, including US Ambassador Sung Kim and Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev, over the ISIS threat in the country.

“Anyway, in the Middle East… really, there is truth that ISIS – since it becomes a chapter in this part of the world… another trouble…we hope that we can be at peace,” he said.

Turning to the US ambassador, Duterte said he was thankful for his and the others’ presence in the Rizal Day rites.

He also told Kim that he would like to have another meeting with him to talk about more important matters.

“We’d like that. Nice to meet you, Mr. President. Hope to see you,” Sung replied.

Christopher Go, special assistant to the President, was spotted speaking to the US ambassador. Go said Kim has expressed his intent to find the most appropriate time for the meeting with Duterte. After the Rizal Day event, Duterte flew to Leyte to check on the condition of those injured in last Wednesday’s blast.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana downplayed reports of plot to oust the President, supposedly being hatched by former US ambassador Philip Goldberg.

“Hindi totoo iyon. Hindi ako naniniwala doon (That’s not true. I don’t believe that). The US would not do that. Hindi ako naniniwala doon,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Rizal Day commemoration.

------------------------------------

RELATED FROM RAPPLER.COM

Duterte's New Year wish: 'Renewed determination' Pia Ranada @piaranada Published 1:59 PM, December 31, 2016 Updated 5:22 PM, December 31, 2016

(UPDATED) In his message to begin 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte also calls for 'a reinvigorated spirit so that we can surmount the challenges ahead'


NEW YEAR AHEAD. President Rodrigo Duterte wishes the Philippines an enjoyable New Year celebration. Photo by King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte wished the country a happy New Year and hoped for "renewed determination" to carry out his campaign promise in 2017.

"Let us all welcome 2017 with renewed determination and a reinvigorated spirit so that we can surmount the challenges ahead," he said in his New Year message sent to media on Saturday, December 31.

Though the country will be leaving behind 2016, he said his administration will learn from their experiences this year in order to do better in 2017.

"Many will forget the events of the past year. But we, in government, will remember because it is our solemn duty to evaluate our work and make sure that its gains redound to the common good," Duterte said.

He asked Filipinos to help the government in all its efforts, from its anti-drug war to attracting investors.

The President made special mention of overseas Filipino workers.

"Let us work together to enliven our business environment – by attracting more investments and creating more job opportunities for our people – so that, in the near future, working abroad would only be an option for our kababayans and not a necessity," said Duterte.

'Light after darkness' in 2017

He wished everyone an enjoyable New Year celebration. He himself will be in Davao City to welcome 2017, according to Special Assistant to the President Bong Go. Duterte previously said he would spend it in Manila to attend to Typhoon Nina rehabilitation efforts.

"I hope we will all enjoy this time of the year by demonstrating love, solidarity, understanding, happiness, and optimism towards our personal ambitions and national aspirations," he said.

One of Duterte's fiercest critics, Senator Leila de Lima, however cited extrajudicial killings in her New Year message.

More than 6,200 people have died in Duterte's war on drugs as of December 29.

LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS

De Lima said on Saturday: "We have countrymen who were killed even before they had a chance to start anew. Amidst the celebrations and shiny decorations, we have countrymen who are mourning and grieving as they remember their parents, children, sibling, spouse, or friend who were killed. How does one celebrate when the killings and loss of justice continue?"

But the lady senator is hopeful there will be "light" after the "darkness" of 2016.

"However heavy the challenges in life, however dark the chapter our country is in, I have faith that light will come," she said. – Rappler.com


MANILA BULLETIN

Pray, not play firecrackers to welcome New Year – Bishop 1 SHARES Share it! Published December 31, 2016, 12:08 AM by Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Christina I. Hermoso

Instead of welcoming the New Year with firecrackers, a Catholic prelate has asked the faithful to usher in 2017 by praying.

“We should no longer use firecrackers to welcome the New Year. Be together as a family, pray together, and eat together would be a good way to celebrate the New Year,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that for the Catholic Church, the New Year is a time to remember Mary “as the mother of Christ, the Prince of Peace.”

READ MORE...

“Kaya ang bagong taon ay pananalangin para sa kapayapaan. Ano ba ang kapayapaan? Hindi lamang po kawalan ng gusot, ang kapayapaan ay kung nasaan ang katotohanan, katarungan, tunay na paggalang sa buhay at dignidad ng kapwa-tao,tunay na kalayaan at pagmamahalan. Ang kapayapaan ay bunga lamang ng lahat ng iyan, kaya manalangin po tayo sa taong ito at ating isalalay sa kamay ng mahal na ina na nagbigay sa atin ng hari ng kapayapaan ang taong darating,” Tagle said in his New Year message aired over Church-run Radio Veritas. (The New Year is an opportunity for us to pray for peace. What is peace? It is not just the absence of strife. Peace is where truth, justice, respect for human life and dignity, freedom and love are. Peace can only result from all of these. Let us pray for peace and ask Mother Mary to intercede for us this coming year, she who gave us the Prince of Peace.)

Fr. Carmelo Arada of the Archdiocese of Manila Liturgical Commission said January 1 is also the time when we observe the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

“Spend the first moments of the New Year in thanksgiving and in prayer. We should orient our year with the values of Mary. It is also a day of prayer for peace which is what the world needs right now,” said Arada.

Balanga (Bataan) Bishop Ruperto C. Santos reminded the faithful to regard the brand new year as “God’s gift to us to renew our lives.”

“A new year is a chance for us to straighten our ways and redeem our past. God grants us another year as a fresh start or another chance to correct our mistakes, or rise from our failures and to become better persons,” he said.

“Let us remember to put into actions all our resolutions, to translate into fine deeds all our promises and work harder to make our dreams come true all the days of the coming year. With this in mind, it will truly be a happy new year for each of us,” the chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People added.

’CRACKERS TO CHARITY

In the past, Catholic prelates asked the faithful to just give the money that they will spend in buying firecrackers to the poor.

“Convert the ‘crackers into charity,” Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said earlier.

Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos also issued the same appeal to the faithful.

“What we save from buying firecrackers we give the amount for social services to our parishioners in need,” he said.

Earlier, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial also encouraged the public to use alternative ways in welcoming the New Year and avoid the use of firecrackers by using safe merry-making instruments and alternative noise-makers such as ‘torotot’, car horns, or by playing loud music.

She also urged local government units (LGUs) to foster community firework display.

Last year, the DOH reported a total of 932 cases injuries nationwide from December 21, 2015 to January 5, 2016.

Catholic churches traditionally celebrate New Year’s Eve masses between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to protect churchgoers from the danger posed by firecrackers. In Rome, Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over the First Vespers and the “Te Deum” mass of thanksgiving at 5 p.m. (11 p.m. Manila time) at the Saint Peter’s Basilica.


MANILA STANDARD

Terror alliance bared: DND chief links Maute, BIFF to bombing plots posted December 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm by John Paolo Bencito


ICONIC CEREMONY. President Rodrigo Duterte, with former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Special Assistant to the President Christpher Go, National Historical Commission acting chairman and commissioner Dr. Rene Escalante and other government officials, leads the traditional flag-raising rites Friday morning during the 120th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s martyrdom at the Luneta.

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday linked two recent bomb attacks to the terrorist Maute group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, saying they had formed a tactical alliance to spread terror.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Rizal Day commemoration at Luneta, Lorenzana said the explosion in Leyte Thursday could have been carried out to divert the government’s intensified military operations against these groups.

“We have this suspicion that the Maute and the BIFF, had this sort of an alliance. Maybe they’re sharing the technology in bomb making,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard.

READ MORE...

“It’s a tactical alliance wherein the two groups are helping each other,” he added.

Lorenzana said materials used in making the improvised exposive devices could have come from the BIFF.

“It’s not farfetched because their home bases--Lanao and Maguindanao are very near. Some members of the Maute group are from Maguindanao, so that’s the connection maybe,” he added.

The Maute group was said to be behind the Davao City night market bombing last September that killed 15 people and wounded 70 others.

President Rodrigo Duterte linked these attacks and the Christmas Eve bombing in Midsayap to the Islamic State.

“The ISIS seems to be everywhere. Samal, there was an explosion. In Midsayap, while the priest was giving a sermon on extrajudicial killings, his church was bombed,” Duterte told an online news service.

When pressed if the Midsayap bombings were connected to ISIS, Duterte linked them also to the “Davao bombing.”

Earlier, however, Duterte had said that “turf wars” between “Moro people” belonging to rival drug syndicates were behind the recent explosions in Hilongos, Leyte and Midsayap, North Cotabato.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the latest blasts.

“I hope it will not get out of control. I had conference with top guys of the government, military. I saw them with the police. You have to not only appear strong, you have to be strong because this is another problem, it’s no joke,” he said.

Lorenzana affirmed that the recent attacks may be part of diversionary tactics by local terror groups, as government troops continue their offensive against those who have supposedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, such as the Maute group, and the Abu Sayyaf.

In a separate interview, the President noted that it could be possible that the terrorist operations could be directed from “inside jail cells.”

Lorenzana also said the blasts may still be related to the drug war being waged by the President.

He added that both the Maute group and the Abu Sayaff were capable of doing harm “anywhere in the Philippines.”

“Especially now that we’re heading to the New Year,” he added.

On Thursday, Duterte said he did not intend to declare Martial Law, saying the state of lawless violence was enough.

Duterte said it was Senator Panfilo Lacson who spoke to him about possibility of Martial Law that triggered “loose talk.”

“If anything could go wrong in Mindanao, Lacson said, it would go wrong. Murphy’s Law. If it gets worse, tell Rody, suggest it to the President, to declare Martial Law for Mindanao,” Duterte told GMA-7 in a live television interview.

Following an explosion that ripped through a popular night market in his hometown Davao City, Duterte had earlier declared a “state of lawless violence” in the country which would allow the increase of military and police presence throughout the country to combat not just terror threats, but also to step up his campaign against illegal drugs and to curb the recent rise in extrajudicial killings.

The President had earlier said that he wanted the constitutional provisions on the declaration of Martial Law relaxed to make it easier for the chief executive to impose it.

This triggered heated criticism from his opponents, including Vice President Leni Robredo.


PHILSTAR

Public urged: Be vigilant after Leyte plaza bombing By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 31, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said the military has reason to believe the Maute group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), through their established alliances, are likely to take advantage of the New Year revelry to launch their terroristic activities. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines - The defense department called for public vigilance following reports that the Hilongos Plaza bombing could be part of a series of attacks to be launched by the local Maute terror group linked to the Islamic State (IS).

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said the military has reason to believe the Maute group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), through their established alliances, are likely to take advantage of the New Year revelry to launch their terroristic activities.

“The general public should be vigilant because these people can create trouble anywhere in the Philippines as they can travel anywhere. So everybody must be vigilant and be observant on what’s happening in their surroundings,” he warned.

READ MORE...

He said the Hilongos Plaza bombing in Leyte was launched by the Maute group apparently with the help of the BIFF, a manufacturer of improvised explosive device, to ease the ongoing military pressure against the Maute group in Butig, Lanao del Sur.


Bombing victims in Hilongos, Leyte, get emergency treatment at a local hospital on Dec. 28, 2016. Photo contributed by Michael Bardos

At least 34 civilians, including a pregnant woman, were wounded in the Hilongos blast last Wednesday night. They were watching a boxing match during the town fiesta when two bombs exploded.

Lorenzana gave assurance that security forces are doing their job 24/7 to thwart possible terror threats, particularly in Metro Manila and other key cities across the country.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the military is not ruling out the possible involvement of other criminal groups in the Hilongos blast.

Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, director of Police Regional Office 8, said they would also “conduct a security assessment” to check if there were security lapses on the part of the Philippine National Police. – With Miriam Desacada

------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Duterte visits victims of Leyte town plaza bombing By: Joey A. Gabieta - Correspondent / @joeygabietaINQ Inquirer Visayas / 06:47 PM December 30, 2016


DECEMBER 31 -Duterte visits victims of Leyte town plaza bombing | Philippine News Now - PNN PHOTO FROM PHILIPPINE NEWS NOW ONLINE

HILONGOS, Leyte—Fifteen-year-old John Reyneill Lamo was lying on his hospital bed on Friday morning when an unexpected visitor arrived: President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Grade 6 pupil teenager broke into a smile especially after the President handed him his mobile phone.

President Duterte arrived in Hilongos at 10:29 a.m. to visit the victims of the twin bombings at the plaza named after the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, on Tuesday night.

He immediately went to the Hilongos District Hospital where six blast victims were still confined.

Twenty others, who had been discharged on Thursday, were asked to go back to the hospital in time for the President’s visit. The six other victims were confined in other hospitals.

READ MORE...

But only Lamo and 12-year-old Mary Grace Odia, 12, were each given an android phone by the President.

“Gamitin mo ito (Use this),” the boy quoted the President as saying when he handed the brand new phone to him.

P10,000 FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE EACH

But all 26 victims were given financial assistance of P10,000 each as well as an assurance that those responsible for the blast would be brought to justice.

President Duterte also met with police officials in Eastern Visayas led by Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, police regional director, and Hilongos Mayor Albert Villahermosa who briefed him on what happened.

The mayor said the President instructed the police officials to solve the bombing as soon as possible.

He also assured Villahermosa that the law enforcers were doing everything they could to ensure that the peace in his town following the blast.

“Don’t lose hope because the security forces of the government are doing their job. Trust our police and the military. They are doing their work. They will protect you,” he said.


Victims of the town plaza bombing in Hilongos, Leyte, get emergency treatment at a hospital. Photo contributed by Michael Bardos

Villahermosa said they now felt secure and at ease with the assurance of the President.

“While we are in the moment of grieving because on what happened to us here, (his visit) adds boost to the people, “he said.

At least 1,000 people were at the 300-square-meter town plaza to watch a local boxing bout as part of the festivities to celebrate the municipality’s annual fiesta when an improvised explosive device planted near the water tank exploded at 9 p.m.

A minute later, an IED near the stage where the boxing was taking place went off. Fortunately, its blasting cap did not detonate so it didn’t create a lot of damage compared to the first one.

The police were looking into the possible involvement of either drug syndicate or group involved in fake money as behind the bombings.

The police officials claimed that the crime groups wanted to retaliate after they managed to arrest a drug queen in October. They also foiled the plans of currency counterfeiters to spread fake bills in the town.

Lamo was standing near the water tank when the first bomb exploded.

He immediately ran toward the stage, where a second bomb exploded a minute later.

Still, he managed to return home to their village in Atabay, more than three kilometers away from the town center.

“He still managed to return home and told me that he was hit by a bomb, his blood running down (his body). Then, he fainted. I immediately brought him to the hospital,” said his father, Ruel, 34.

A day later, he received a belated Christmas gift from no less than the President.

“I was excited to have a new phone and this I is actually my first cell phone. But at the same time, I was also happy to see our President personally. I only see him on television,” the teenager told the Inquirer after the President’s visit.


Duterte visits Hilongos bombing victims

During the interview the teenager was tinkering with his new gadget while Ruel was grinning.

He said the President approached him and assured him that the police would get those responsible for the bombing.

Mr. Duterte left the hospital around 11:45 a.m. But while inside his vehicle, he was given a microphone and addressed to the crowd waiting for him outside the hospital.

He said that he was about to return to Davao City but decided to visit Hilongos after the incident rocked the town of more than 86,000 people on the night of their annual fiesta.

Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, who was among those who welcomed the President, assured the people of the province that the bombing incident in Hilongos was just an isolated case.

But he urged the security officials as well as the mayors and barangay officials to be vigilant “especially when we are in a crowded place.”


PHILSTAR

Russia offers sub, drones to Phl By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 31, 2016 - 12:00am 1 24 googleplus0 0


Russia has offered to sell a submarine to the Philippines along with drones with military hardware to boost the modernization program of the military, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday. AP Photo/Aaron Favila, file

MANILA, Philippines - Russia has offered to sell a submarine to the Philippines along with drones with military hardware to boost the modernization program of the military, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.

Lorenzana said he would decline the procurement of a submarine because it is too expensive and the military does not need it right now.

He said the defense department is looking at the acquisition of drones and sniper rifles.

“The drones, we can get them,” Lorenzana said during the Rizal Day commemoration rites at the Rizal Park in Manila yesterday.

While the talks are still in the initial stage, Lorenzana noted how aggressive their Russian counterparts are in establishing cooperation with the Philippines.

READ MORE...

He was quick to clarify that the there is no military alliance being mapped out with Moscow, and the cooperation will likely be on training, exchange of personnel and some observing in military exercises.

Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. flew to Moscow recently upon the instructions of President Duterte after Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev had asked government officials to provide Russia with a wish list to determine what kind of assistance could be provided to the Philippines.

The President has expressed interest in getting sniper rifles from Moscow, but Lorenzana said these were not yet available during their visit.

Based on his conversation with Yasay, Lorenzana said the President would likely embark on a state visit to Russia in April or May, after winter.

Duterte said that he could not stand the cold weather during winter.

Port call

Meanwhile, a Russian anti-submarine vessel and a naval tanker would make a port call at Manila’s South Harbor next week, the Navy announced yesterday.

Capt. Lued Lincuna, Navy spokesman, said that Russian vessels Admiral Tributs, an anti-submarine warship, and the tanker Boris Butoma would be at Pier 15 from Jan. 2 to Jan. 7.

The last Russian warships to visit county was the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev escorted by Boris Butoma and the rescue tug Fotiy Krylov, that dropped anchor at South Harbor in January 2012.

“During the visit, a customary meeting procedure will be conducted by a welcome ceremony to be rendered by the Philippine Navy. There will also be courtesy calls, shipboard tour and send-off ceremony, among others,” Lincuna said.


PHILSTAR

The year that was: Duterte, drug deaths and De Lima By Juaniyo Arcellana (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 31, 2016 - 12:00am googleplus


NEWSMAKERS OF 2016: (Clockwise from top) A woman cradles her husband, among the 6,000 people killed in the government’s drug war; Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath as the 16th president of the republic after winning the May 9 polls by a landslide; Sen. Leila de Lima, who made herself a thorn in the side of President Duterte, faced numerous charges after being linked to the drug trade; and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first Filipina to win a medal in the Olympics, taking silver in the 53-kilogram weightlifting competition at the Rio Games.

MANILA, Philippines - The longtime Davao City mayor dominated the headlines for the better part of this year, getting elected 16th president of the republic in May after a bitterly fought campaign.

Rodrigo Roa Duterte then launched a war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, while insulting the pope as well as leaders of the last superpower and community of nations, and making a rape remark that betrayed a coarseness of character and quality of a late night raconteur.

Yet Duterte is quick to clarify that as he understood it, he ran for president and not for statesman. You want him ousted through coup or impeachment? Be his guest. You wish his plane to crash or sickness to claim him? Not to worry, there’s always the vice president.

He wants to make peace with every Filipino, yet the police have a quota to meet in accounting for the country’s drug addicts which, as of last hyperbolic count, reached four million.

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Full of sound bites, including the graphic one of slicing the throat, the favorite of his overseas Filipino audiences, which the Chief Executive promises to be the end of every drug pusher.

For all the shock and awe and golpe de gulat of the latest leadership style, including a shame campaign of naming so-called drug personalities ranging from generals to governors and mayors whose days are numbered if they so much as resisted arrest (nanlaban), there were still quite a few highlights in the roller coaster Year of the Monkey.

AT THE OLYMPICS

For one, the Philippines won its first Olympic medal in 20 years, courtesy of the weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, notching for the country only its third silver after Onyok Velasco in Atlanta 1996 and the late Anthony Villanueva in Tokyo 1964, both boxers. It was a long road for the Zamboanga City lass, who once trained with makeshift barbells in her hometown, to finally end the medal draught in the Rio de Janeiro games.

A blessing too was the disqualification of a Chinese rival who failed to lift a heavier weight although already assured of a spot on the podium, which moved up the airwoman second class and indicated that this may really be the year of Mindanao.

CHINA SEA DISPUTE

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in July that the nine-dash line claim of China in the South China Sea was excessive, in effect validating the Philippines’ own exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea, a development which then newly appointed Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. announced with tact and which he said the nation should not gloat over.

The Chinese, of course, continued to fortify their embankments and assorted construction in contested reefs and atolls, and even allowed poor Filipinos back into their traditional fishing ground in Panatag Shoal to earn a livelihood, thanks to episodes of realpolitik.

PEACE TALKS

Was it just press release but the current administration does seem serious in reaching peace agreements with various rebel groups, ranging from the National Democratic Front to the Moro separatists.

Talks with the NDF were progressing at a steady clip in Oslo, Norway, even as release of remaining political prisoners might encounter a hitch, except for those long in tooth. Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front resurfaced after years as a fugitive for the Zamboanga siege of 2013, this time to give advice on the intricacies of the peace process from the palace podium.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, despite intermittent meetings in Kuala Lumpur, might however be placed on the back burner as the push for federalism gains ground.

MARCOS BURIAL

Further proof of the winds of change is the Supreme Court ruling last November, with a vote of 9-5, to allow the burial of the long embalmed corpse of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig, granting the petition of the family to accord their dead his last wish to be buried among soldiers, heroes, as well as a scoundrel or two.

Reaction of the populace was extreme from opposing camps, with one saying it desecrated the memory of the victims of martial law, and the other that it was time to move on and let true healing begin. While everyone was debating on the pros and cons of a potential national poltergeist, the strongman was buried in stealth at high noon 10 days after the SC ruling. Maybe it was one way of declaring the dictator was dead, long live his wax figure.

DE LIMA

No one knows the trouble Sen. Leila de Lima has seen as the President’s pet peeve and poster girl of the embattled. The former justice secretary has been thrown everything including the kitchen sink and all its moldings and screws, which alas did not stop her detractors from saying that she was a virtual herald for narco-politics.

Congressional hearings on the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison during de Lima’s time as justice chief had elements of the absurd if not comic, with convicts testifying that this senator was elected with the help of drug money. The feud with Duterte appears to have stemmed from her stint as human rights commissioner, when she first investigated the mayor for the Davao death squad.

A familiar face in the hearings was a lawyer of the convicts, also a lawyer of a former president prevented by de Lima from leaving for medical treatment abroad during the previous administration.

GLORIA ARROYO SET FREE

Speaking of which, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo finally walked free after years in hospital detention after being cleared of various charges. After spending four years at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, occasionally being granted holiday and birthday leaves, the veteran politician has been elected to a third and last term as Pampanga representative and now also serves as House deputy speaker.

The ombudsman has also lately cleared her of the Malampaya Fund anomaly, her third legal victory since July when the Supreme Court absolved her of alleged plunder of sweepstakes funds, and the Sandiganbayan ruling in September that she was not liable for graft in the aborted national broadband network deal with a Chinese telecommunications firm.

DAVAO CITY BOMBING

The bombing of the night market in Davao City in early September that claimed 15 lives signaled that terror was very much present in a potential strongman setting. The incident reminded the public that the war on drugs can be waged on a different front, as a terror cum extortion group that was said to be dealing in narcotics, the Maute, was identified as prime suspect.

The bombing of the presidential hometown near a Jesuit university and massage stalls triggered the declaration of a state of lawless violence. Police did not discount the possibility that this was a diversionary tactic as state forces chased down rebels in sustained counter-terror efforts.

ABU SAYYAF

The war on terror appeared to be the next great battle as the Abu Sayyaf continued to rear its ugly head and beheaded a pair of Canadian hostages taken last year from an island resort off Davao, the deaths of John Ridsdell and Robert Hall prompting their government as well as other western countries to issue travel advisories against going to the southern Philippines.

Their fellow captives Filipina Marites Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad were more fortunate to have been freed after an unverified ransom was paid. The bandits still hold several hostages including foreigners, and have also put to grisly death other lower profile victims, including a destitute teenager, in their stronghold of Jolo and Sulu.

NO LETUP DUTERTE'S DRUG WAR

Even as the President has advised kind hearted souls to adopt an addict, and government is doing its best to build rehab centers through donations of philanthropists in the face of limited budget, there is no sign of letup in the bloody drug war with deaths now breaching 6,000, or a thousand per month since the new administration took over, less than half from legitimate police operations.

The UN special rapporteur on summary executions is still negotiating the conditions for her fact-finding mission to the country, including a debate with Duterte who is sure to dust off photos of past western atrocities.

And as police work double time on the deaths under inquiry, Congress is moving just as fast to restore the death penalty.

THE PHP PESO

The peso is seen to linger in the 50 to a dollar range for most of 2017, its lowest level in years and which could spike inflation and lead economic managers scrambling to secure investments and aid and arms deals, if not with traditional allies certainly with fresh partners following the declared pivot to an independent foreign and trade policy.

The monkey 2016 about to end was also a banner year for Philippine cinema, winning major awards in the most prestigious European film festivals, even as the nation bade goodbye to a political giant, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who died at age 71 after a long battle with cancer and a last run at the presidency.


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