Duterte names Quitain as new chief legal counsel

 President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Jesus Melchor Vega Quitain as the new Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.

“In-appoint din ng Pangulo si (The President has appointed) Jesus Melchor Vega Quitain bilang kanyang (as his) Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday.

Quitain will replace Salvador Panelo who is running for senator in the 2022 elections.

Prior to his appointment, Quitain was the officer in charge of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP).

He also served as Davao City administrator during Duterte’s term as city mayor.

However, Roque said Duterte has yet to replace former Department of Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio Honasan II and former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones who are both running for senator.

He also confirmed that Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio “Vince” Dizon has resigned from his post effective October 15.

Dizon will remain as deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and the country’s testing czar in charge of overseeing the government’s testing efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Secretary Vince has asked the President to unload him of this task so that he can focus full-time on the national government’s Covid response efforts and vaccination rollout,” Roque said.

Under Dizon’s term, the BCDA earned PHP48 billion in revenues in only five years, the highest by far of any administration. (PNA)

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Don’t politicize issue

Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Friday called out Senator Grace Poe for politicizing the country’s traffic woes for her supposed plans to run for higher office.
In a television interview, Tugade said Poe, as chair of the Senate committee on public services, was using issues in transportation as an instrument in her political campaign.
“Alam naman ‘ho natin na pumoporma ‘yan si madam Grace para sa pagka-presidente na naman. ‘Wag na ‘ho ipagkaila ‘yan, ‘yun ‘ho yung porma niyan. At ginagawa niya plataporma ng transportasyon sa Senado para ito ‘ho yung ‘thriller’ para ganyan, marinig at makinig siya (We all know madame Grace is preparing for her bid as president again. Let’s not deny it, that’s her style. She’s using transportation as her platform in the Senate as a ‘thriller,’ so she can be seen and heard),” Tugade said in a television interview.

No lack of plans on use of emergency powers: DOTr chief

Tugade said traffic issues should not be politicized, noting that if the Senate does not want to give emergency powers to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to solve the metro’s traffic problem, they should be allowed to do their work as they see fit.
“’Wag na natin pulitikahin. Ayaw niyo ng emergency powers, sige na. Sa inyo na ‘yung emergency power. Hayaan niyo na lang po kaming magtrabaho sa inaakala naming tama (Let’s not politicize traffic. If they don’t want to give emergency powers, fine. They can keep it. They should just let us work as we see fit),” Tugade said.
He said they have been asking for emergency powers since the beginning of Duterte’s term because it was necessary to solve traffic issues in a timely manner.
“Kailangan ‘ho talaga ‘yan pero kung ayaw na ‘ho nila ibigay, ‘wag na. Kasi paiksi ng paiksi ‘yung oras. Noon pa namin po hiningi ‘yan nung sa umpisa ng termino ng ating pangulo. Ngayon, 1,021 days na lang ang termino ng ating pangulo (We need emergency powers but if they won’t give it, then don’t. Because time is running out. We’ve been asking for this since the beginning of our president’s term. Now, only 1,021 days are left in the president’s term),” Tugade said.
He added that the DOTr would continue to “work firmer and stronger in the pursuit of our mandates, in accordance to law.”
In a television interview on Thursday, Poe called out Tugade for his alleged failure to solve problems related to traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, the DOTr said traffic is not part of its mandate and the appointment of Tugade as “traffic czar”, through a 2016 bill did not push through. (PNA)

MISLATEL to install telco facilities in AFP camps

Representatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) allowing the new telco player to build its communications facilities in military camps and installations.


Maj. Gen. Adrian Sanchez Jr., AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Electronics, and Information Systems (CEIS), J6; and lawyer Adel Tamano, Mislatel chief administrative officer, signed the MOA at the AFP Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Based on the agreement, the AFP will determine specific locations with its rental value for use of Mislatel in the installation and management of its communications sites without undermining the operations of affected AFP units.
Mislatel is also required to “furnish all equipment, labor, and materials necessary to effect the co-location of its facilities and shoulders all expenses in connection with or incidental to the co-location” and payment of all taxes, permits, licenses, and other charges.
Payment will be made by providing CEIS equipment, upgrade, services, and training to the AFP equivalent to the monetary value of the lease subject to inflation.
“Our MOA with other telcos significantly improved the ICT infrastructure of the AFP and we are optimistic that this opportunity will also bring great benefits to the armed forces,” AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. said.
Mislatel also “guarantees that the devices, equipment, and/or structures installed at the site provided by the AFP shall not be used to obtain classified information” as a measure to prevent electronic espionage.
The Mislatel consortium, which will adopt the name Dito Telecommunity, is composed of Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Udenna Corp, and China Telecom.
It was conferred with the status of new major player in the telecommunications industry by the National Telecommunications Commission on November 19, 2018.
“We at Dito Telecommunity are truly grateful to the AFP for this partnership. The rollout of Dito’s towers is indeed one herculean feat. With this partnership with the AFP, we are nearer our goal of building a wide and robust network,” Dito president and chief executive officer Dennis Uy said.
The signing was witnessed by retired Maj. Gen. Rodolfo Santiago Jr., chief technology officer of Mislatel and Col. Walter Icaro, chief of the Plans, Policy, Program and Budget Division of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for CEIS, J6.
The MOA was subsequently endorsed by Madrigal for the approval of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. 
“This partnership gives Mislatel a fair chance to compete with the other networks, given that the AFP also has similar partnership with Globe and Smart,” Madrigal said. (PNA)


DUTERTE: No reappointment for Faeldon

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For President Rodrigo Duterte, dismissed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon has had enough controversies to be given a new position in his Cabinet.


In an exclusive interview over 24 Oras on Saturday (Sept. 7) which was aired on Monday (Sept. 9), Duterte bared that he has no plans of reappointing Faeldon despite having done so in the past.
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“No, not…I don’t think so. He has had enough of controversies in the last few years,” Duterte said.
Prior to being BuCor chief, Faeldon was deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), a disaster-response agency under the Department of National Defense (DND).
Before that, Faeldon was BOC Commissioner but resigned after being tagged in the PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu that slipped past the agency in May 2017.
Duterte, however, said he still trusts Faeldon, noting that he refused to believe that he was involved in corruption within the BuCor.
“But I do not believe that he’s dishonest,” he added.
In a recent speech in Naga City, Cebu, Duterte cited Faeldon’s contribution to the government when he was still commissioner of the Bureau of Customs particularly the seizure of PHP3.2 billion worth of Mighty Corp. cigarettes with fake tax stamps in Bulacan.
“There was a day when a businessman had two warehouses of cigarettes carrying fake tax stamps. It was Faeldon who tipped me off, sir, two warehouses were found. If he silently talked to the owner and asked for himself, it would made him millions,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he is currently deciding on Faeldon’s replacement.
Currently, BuCor Assistant Secretary and Deputy Director General Melvin Ramon Buenafe serves as officer-in-charge.
Last Sept. 4, Duterte sacked Faeldon for disobeying his order to block the release of heinous crimes convicts under the controversial Good Conduct and Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
Meanwhile, Duterte ordered all heinous crimes convicts who have been released to surrender to police and military and have their sentence recomputed.
“I’m just asking you to come back, If you fall within the category of those who can be released, you can go home. And for the heinous crimes, well, let me think about it. Either I set you free or I’ll drop you there in the Pasig river,” Duterte said.
“My order is to get you dead or alive,” he added. (PNA)


Government to protect defenseless, vulnerable



Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea has expressed concern over human rights violations by communist rebels in its failed attempt in more than fifty years  to topple down the government.


Countless human rights abuses against our people have been committed by communist armed groups that have been battling the Philippine government for more than five decades, said Medialdea in his speech on Monday, Sept. 9, during the annual commemoration of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
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“These groups are relentless in seeking the downfall of our government and the death of our democratic ideals,” the Palace official  said in his speech read by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Ong, during a program held at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)..
But as the country  continues to confront various terror threats head-on with the strong arm of the law and all available resources at its disposal, Medialdea said the government will remain committed to protecting the defenseless and vulnerable in every armed conflict.
“We continue to impress upon everyone the Philippine government’s committed adherence to the guiding principles of IHL while addressing the threats to national peace and security,” said Medialdea.
“This commitment is summed up in this year’s theme, ‘IHL: Protecting the Defenseless in Times of Armed Conflict’,” Medialdea said.
He added that for the first part of 2019, these communist groups have perpetrated several atrocities such as: summary execution of police officers; planted landmines in Negros Oriental; brutally killed leaders of indigenous peoples in Oriental Mindoro, Negros Occidental, Bukidnon, and Agusan del Norte; destruction of development projects, such as the hydropower plant in Oriental Mindoro, and the burning of the construction equipment for the Kaliwa dam project in Quezon; and attacked companies, fruit plantations and mining firms in Mindanao whose owners resisted their extortion activities.
“This local terrorism is even aiming to spread its influence in schools. Fifty- five (55) so-called Salugpungan schools in remote villages were found to be used by the terrorists to train more than a thousand children from indigenous peoples communities as child combatants,” he said.
High schools and universities, he added, have likewise become hotbeds for recruitment.
“True to the spirit of IHL, it (PH government) shall stay faithful to the law (Republic Act 11188) that ensures special protection of children in situations of armed conflict; the national plan of action on women, peace and security (2017-2020) that embodies protection of women and girls in conflict situations,” Medialdea said.
The government will also stay committed to the mission of the National Task Force created and chaired by no less than President Rodrigo R. Duterte, to put an end to local communist terrorism as stipulated in Executive Order No. 70, he added.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) is a partnership between the government and like-minded sectors of society — under the whole-of-nation approach — that shall advance and sustain all these efforts.
Medialdea also expressed his deepest gratitude to all the men and women in uniform who courageously stand on the ground to confront these threats while upholding their role as protectors of our people.
“Your work continues to define the Philippine government’s strong and firm commitment to International Humanitarian Law. God bless and keep you always,” he said.
The national observance of IHL Day is pursuant to Executive Order No, 134 (s. 1999) that declares every 12th of August as such.
This year’s commemoration was, however, postponed by the ad hoc Inter-Agency Committee to Sept. 9 during the DFA’s flag-raising ceremony.
Being a party to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocol II Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, the EO provides that the Philippines adheres to the principles of humanitarian laws or the laws of armed conflict.
The annual commemoration aims to enhance understanding by officials and personnel of government departments, law enforcement agencies, and local government units of the principles of IHL, and to raise the people’s consciousness and promote greater awareness of the same.
Activities for the observance of IHL Day are prepared by the ad hoc Committee co-chaired by DFA and Department of National Defense, and composed of representatives from DFA, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of the Interior and Local Government, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Manila, Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), Commission on Human Rights, and the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat. (with PNA report)

Panelo won’t resign over Sanchez issue


panelo-salvadorPresidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday said he would not resign amid allegations that he had a hand in the possible release of convicted rapist-murderer, former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Panelo was the lawyer of Sanchez when the mayor was charged with the murder of two University of the Philippines (UP) students in 1993. 

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Panelo made this remark after retired judge Harriet Demetriou, the judge who convicted Sanchez, called for Panelo’s resignation, refusing to believe that the spokesman had nothing to do with Sanchez’s possible freedom based on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) or Republic Act No. 10592. President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier he would not allow the release of Sanchez.
Sanchez was sentenced to seven counts of reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment) for the rape and murder of UP-Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her companion, Allan Gomez in 1993. 


R.A. 10592 provides new guidelines on how to compute good conduct time, including a 20-day deduction for each month of good behavior during the first two years of imprisonment.
Panelo dismissed Demetriou’s call for him to resign as “silly, if not absurd”, noting that her opinion against him was made “on the basis of pure speculation”.
“I serve at the pleasure of the President, and as his alter ego, I will not be distraught nor derailed by any unfounded remark raised against me. I will instead continue to faithfully perform my duties in accordance with the law, the functions attached to my office as well as the directives given me by the President,” Panelo said in a statement.
“I hope that, being a practitioner of the law, Judge Demetriou will soon realize that expressing judgmental or condemnatory remarks based on a simple hunch has no place in a profession which values the rule of law.” he added.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, also insisted anew that he had no hand in the possible liberty any of the qualified inmates who may be freed under the GCTA.
“My office has nothing to do with the possible release of qualified inmates. That is the turf and the responsibility of the Department of Justice and the concerned offices under it. I do not intrude nor poke my finger into any matter that is not within the mandate of my office,” Panelo said in a statement.
He explained that when President Rodrigo Duterte asked for his opinion on whether Sanchez was covered by the benefit granted to inmates under the GCTA, he said the former mayor was ineligible.
“I categorically stated that by express provision of the law, Mr. Sanchez and those similarly situated, meaning inmates charged and convicted of heinous crimes, as well as those recidivists, habitual delinquents, and escapees, are excluded from the coverage of the law,” Panelo said.
“Dura lex sed lex. There is no way by which those expressly disqualified by law could be considered for release by reason of good behavior,” he added.
As for inmates who are qualified under the GCTA, Panelo said there is no need for any intervention from anybody in the government because they will be automatically processed in accordance with the law.
Panelo, meanwhile, defended his initial response to reporters saying that the government cannot oppose the law if it allows inmates to be released earlier from their prison cells based on good behavior while in service.
“Such pronouncement still stands as we will implement the law and we will implement it properly, that is to the exclusion of recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes,” Panelo said.
Panelo said he withdrew as the lawyer of Sanchez in 1995. (with PNA report)