29 August 2016

Gov’t assures help for 7 OFWs jailed in Saudi
LUBAO, Pampanga — The government through Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. has assured the families of the seven Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from this province that it “will use its influence to get some kind of liniency” to intervene for the release and acquittal of their relatives detained in different jails at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for almost 11 years.

Yasay, together with Pampanga 2nd District Representative and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sat with the families of the OFWs who were supposed to meet with President Rodrigo R. Duterte here on Sunday.

President Duterte was unable to make it to Pampanga which Marciano Paynor, chief of the Presidential Protocol Office, announced that upon recommendation of the Philippine Air Force, the President was advised not to proceed to Lubao town for his supposed private engagement due to inclement weather. However, he assured that the President will visit the town in another time.

Yasay said “gagawin po natin ang lahat.”

While the government can’t give the families hope in so far as the immediate release of the OFWs is concerened, Yasay urged the families to continue to seek for the Lord’s intervention.

The seven are all from Pampanga. One from Mabalacat, two from San Fernando and four from Mexico towns. Out of the seven accused, three are on death row.

He said that the release is within the legal jurisdiction of the Saudi Government. “Papabilisin po natin ang process. Hihingi tayo ng permiso sa king (King Salman) through the Saudi Ambassador,” as he expressed that the cases of the seven OFWs are easier to handle because of less strict legal requirements, a few notches lower considering that the accused and the victims are all Filipinos.

He said that this is apart from the existence of a “Document of Forgiveness” which was earlier executed by the families, which allowed the settlement of the private aspect of the case. “The criminal aspect is within the Saudi government to decide on,” the Secretary said.

Yasay said that President Duterte would have wanted to visit Saudi but was advised against it pending approval of the Saudi King to make it official and as a state visit. Nevertheless, the President will have his schedule to the Kingdom, where there is a huge number of OFW population.

Former President and now Representative Gloria Arroyo during the discussion told Yasay that the incident happened in 2006 which was acted upon during her term by allocating funds for the blood money that was part of the negotiation for the Document of Forgiveness in 2009 and left unattended until now.

Rose, wife of one of the jailed OFW said that it had been the family’s dream to bring home their kin and that they look upon the present administration for their relatives’ cases to not again be left in slumber after many years of no government assistance. (LTA/PND)

PRRD orders release of P4.7B to widows of armed conflicts and AFP retirees
Countless widows of war, armed conflicts and retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have something to celebrate and be thankful for after President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the release of the P4.7 billion fund to financially aid the widows of the soldiers who gave their lives so the country.

This as the Philippines today pays tribute to the gallantry of the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for God and country.

President Duterte’s order was announced in today’s national observance of Heroes Day where the President was the guest of honor and speaker in the event held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

The President said the amount is part of the 2016 appropriated budget which was withheld by the previous administration.

Duterte explained that P3.5 billion is for the payment of the total administrative liability tagged as arrears for widows and those who died during World War II (WWII) while the the P1.2 billion is for the AFP retirees who are 80 years old and above.

The announcement was received with loud cheers and applause from the crowd, some of whom are retirees, veterans and families of deceased retirees and veterans. More cheers came as President Duterte announced that the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the utilization of the said fund was already signed by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Duterte said: “okay na ba yan!” adding “sir kulang pa daw” looking towards the direction where Secretary Diokno was seated.

Loreto B. Sangco, 90 years old, one of the three living veterans of WWII belonging to the Centro Post Caloocan, after the event said “umaasa kami na maibiibgay na ni Presidente Duterte ( We were hopeful that President Duterte will give it to us). Nakita namin na lahat ng ipinangako niya ginagawa niya (we have seen that all that he promised, he is fulfilling them). Baka sakali ngayon madagdagan na rin ang P5,000 na pension ko kasi marami akong gamut (Hopefully my P5000 pension will be increase especially with the many medicines I take).”

Also, the President said that an amount of P250,000 sourced from the President’s Social Fund is available to the beneficiaries of battle casualties even as the President stated “God Forbid” and P20, 000 for ready cash assistance.

The announcement came after the President pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket, telling it was handed to him by Secretary Diokno whom the President expressed is graetful to have joined his Cabinet . He said “Thank you Sir. I appreciate it very much.” (PPA/LTA/PND)

PRRD, Joma receives Gawad Supremo award
For helping promote nationalism and democratic interest the first “Gawad Supremo” award was conferred on President Rodrigo Duterte and Jose Maria Sison on Sunday at the UP Film Center in UP Diliman.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella received the award from the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in behalf of the President. The award was conferred on Duterte for his effort towards peace, not only with the CPP/NPA/NDF but the Moro rebels.

In the President’s message read by Abella, PRRD said “we need to embrace our differences if we are to come together as one, if we are to have sustainable peace and development for our troubled people.”

Starting from the campaign, the President had been consistent in his desire to end the division and fighting in the country. “It is our dream to see a one and united Philippines; no more leftists or rightists and hopefully, no more MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) nor MILF (Moro International Liberation Front) but one Bangsamoro people.

Settlement with Bangsamoro and communist rebels will never succeed unless the bigger community welcome and accept these peace and development initiatives.

In the case of the CPP/NPA/NDF, the peace talks have rolled out. On August 25, in Oslo, Norway, the peace panel has signed and agreed on some matters which would be addressed in succeeding talks between the government and CPP. The President said, “we have resolved a strategic place in our peace agreement.”

A durable ceasefire is now in the works after the historic meeting in Norway.

“Hopefully, a final peace agreement will be forged soon. But there is a lot of work to be done to achieve our dream for a better quality of life for all Filipinos.

President Duterte called on all Filipinos to journey on the road to peace.

“I will walk the extra mile for peace. Stay the course with us,” President Duterte said. (LTA/PND)

PRRD urges Congress to hasten Federalism approval
President Rodrigo R. Duterte urged Congress to hasten his proposal to change the form of government from the present unitary type to federal system.
The President made the statement in a speech delivered in this year’s commemoration of National Heroes Day to honor the Filipino heroes at the “Libingan ng mga Bayani” in Taguig City on Monday.

He reiterated his call to Congress to push for a federal system of government patterned after France, which follows a federal-presidential form of government, where only the President is the elected official.

President Duterte explained that under the French political system, the President is the executive head of state, while the head of the government is the Prime Minister (PM) who is appointed by the President. The PM stays in office while having the confidence of the National Assembly and the President of the Republic.

In France, the president has very limited power, but a powerful one, “Powerful statements but very limited,” PRRD said.

“Hurry up (with) the federal system because I said you follow the country with the presidential office because that would hold together the country.” he said.

The President warned not to just go to a parliamentary form of government. “It will be disastrous for this country. Somebody should hold the Armed Forces and the Police to control the country,” he said.

In the meantime, he said the country should focus on marching forward to progress to the next century.

“At this time, it will be good to have a federal system because the present unitary type has done us no good,” he said.

He vowed to step down from the office once the shift from presidential to federal-presidential has been undertaken and perfected within three years. (LMG/LTA/PND)

President Duterte reiterates ‘no war policy’ vs. China
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday said that he wishes to seat in front of the Chinese Ambassador or his representative in order to lay down the Philippines’ position regarding the West Philippine issue (South China Sea) as he reiterated his stand for peace.

President Duterte in his speech during the commemoration of the National Heroes Day at the “Libingan Ng Mga Bayani” in Taguig said “China, it’s not worthy, I don’t go to war.”

The President said he wants the talks with China to prosper and will not do acts that may affect it. The Philippines through former President Fidel Ramos who leads the panel for the talks with China has met with Chinese officials recently to look into future discussion between the two countries on the West Philippine Sea issue.

Earlier, the President said that the country will not open the topic on the South China Sea nor the arbitral decision so as not to affect the on going talks between the two countries.

“I’ll keep silent now, and the ambassador is there. But I will state my case before you. I will never bring the matter, because it might lead only to the suspension of the talks with China,” Duterte said.

He had also earlier intimated his objection to outsiders meddling into the affairs of the country and the issue of the country with China is something personal to the two countries, reason it should be discussed only with China.

The President said “I propose that we just have a soft landing everywhere but for now, Mr. Ambassador, I want to just talk to you for a moment.”

With the Chinese Ambassador present during the National Heroes Day commemoration, President Duterte jokingly asked that China give the Philippines the time to build its force to cope with their superiority.

The West Philippine Sea, known for its vast marine resource entices fishermen to go there to catch fishes for livelihood. PRRD also asked China to treat the Philippines like its brother and understand the plight of the poor Filipino fishermen. “That’s why they are there because they are poor.”

President Duterte emphasized “the Chinese people this time might find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos. After all, I come from— there’s a Chinese blood in me, so I hope that you treat us your brothers, not your enemies and take note of the plight of our citizens,” he said as he spoke before members of the diplomatic Corps during the event. (PPA/LTA/PND)