08 Mar 2016

Malacañang has not wavered in fight against corruption, says official
The Palace said it remains committed to fighting corruption and helping reform the country’s judiciary to punish those who have committed wrongdoings.“Hindi natitinag ang determinasyon ng pamahalaan na supilin ang katiwalian at korupsyon. Ang paglilitis ng mga sinampahan ng kaso ay nasa kamay ng hudikatura,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a media briefing held in Malacañang Palace on Tuesday.

“Hinggil dito, batid natin na patuloy na nagsasagawa ng reporma ang Korte Suprema upang pabilisin ang resolusyon ng mga nakabinbing usapin sa mga hukuman,” he said when asked to comment on the issue that the Aquino administration is about to end in the next few months without seeing the conviction of high-profile personalities accused of corruption, among them former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and legislators involved in the pork barrel scam.

Attaining justice cannot be fully accomplished if those accountable could not be punished under the law, Secretary Coloma said.

When asked if the Palace is worried about statements made by politicians running for office that, if elected, they would free those who are detained for corruption, Coloma said certain processes have to be followed.

“May proseso ang batas hinggil sa pagpapalaya ng mga detenido o detainees at dapat sundin ang batas sa lahat ng pagkakataon,” he said. PND (as)

Probe into impounded North Korean vessel still ongoing, says Palace official
The North Korean cargo vessel MV Jin Teng will remain in the country until the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) completes its investigation, a Palace official said on Tuesday.

The Philippine government impounded the cargo vessel at the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales last week in compliance with the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 2270 on the imposition of sanctions against North Korea because of its nuclear weapons program.

The UN resolution also requires member states to inspect all cargo vessels to and from North Korea, including those not in the blacklist.

“It was decided that the Coast Guard will continue to hold the vessel at point until the ongoing inquiry and investigation has been completed. It was also agreed that the crew may be allowed to leave if justified by the results of the investigation,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Secretary Coloma said an inter-agency meeting initiated by the National Coast Watch Center was held on Monday “to discuss further actions” on the impounded ship.

“We have been informed by the Department of Foreign Affairs that an inter-agency meeting was convened yesterday at the initiative of the National Coast Watch Center to discuss further actions. The meeting was participated in by the DFA, the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications), the Philippine Coast Guard, the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the Bureau of Immigration,” he said.

The Palace official said the Coast Guard has inspected the cargo vessel.

“From what I have been informed, the Coast Guard has conducted inspection… but they are still going on with respect to the full inquiry and investigation that the UN Security Council resolution requires,” he said.

Coloma said he is unaware of how long the MV Jin Teng would be impounded.

“I am not aware of any time restriction imposed by the United Nations. What we are doing here is just to comply with the requirements of the UN Security Council resolution. My cursory reading of the resolution did not afford me to see if there were timelines. I think it is more of the specifications of what needs to be ascertained by the process of investigation. I am not aware of any time limits,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the DFA said there is no date yet as to when the ship’s crew would be allowed to leave. PND (jm)

Palace asks public not to be swayed by propaganda that might threaten Mindanao peace
Assuring that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will continue to pursue peace in Mindanao, a Palace official on Tuesday called on the people not to believe propaganda that might spark the resurgence of violence in the region.Chairman of the MILF, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, has said that Moro rebels are being recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to establish a stronghold in the region, as the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law remains uncertain.

Commenting on Murad’s statement, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the MILF leader is airing his views about the non-passage of the BBL, which might result in restiveness among MILF combatants.

“Kaya’t sinabi niya (Murad) na mainam na patuloy na itaguyod natin ang prosesong pang-kapayapaan dahil ang ligalig, agam-agam, o ang alinlangan — ay nabubuhay sa isang sitwasyon ng walang kasiguruhan o uncertainty na siyang tinutukoy ng pagkakaroon ng batas. Sa ngayon, ang atin lang sandigan sa prosesong pangkapayapaan ay ang Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” Secretary Coloma said during a media briefing in Malacañang.

Representatives of the Philippine government and the MILF met in Malaysia and agreed to observe all the major agreements to ensure peace and stability in Mindanao until 2017, including the ceasefire mechanism and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, he said.

The Palace official noted that despite the Congress’ failure to pass the BBL, both sides remain committed to pushing peace in Mindanao.

“Nakikita naman natin na buo ang pagtitiwala sa isa’t isa ng magkabilang panig, buo ang pagsisikap na ipagpatuloy ang prosesong pangkapayapaan, kaya’t siguro mas mainam na ‘yon ang pagtuunan natin ng pansin at huwag tayong padadala sa propaganda ng mga nais lumikha ng ligalig,” he said.

He also maintained that there is no operational link between the Maute group in Lanao del Sur and the ISIS. PND (as)