World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
30 Sept 2020

 

SC MOVES FORWARD ON POLL PROTEST, ORDERS COMMENT ON MARCOS' BID FOR

NULLIFICATION OF MINDANAO ELECTIONS

 

MANILA — The Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has

moved forward on former Sen. Bongbong MarcosÂ’ poll protest against Vice

President Leni Robredo and ordered the Commission on Elections on pending

issues on the case.

The SC Public Information Office said the justices, voting 12-0 on Tuesday,

gave the Comelec and the Office of the Solicitor General to file its comment

on the issues related to MarcosÂ’ third cause of action in his poll protest.

In particular, this involves the annulment of elections in the provinces of

Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao on the ground of terrorism,

intimidation, harassment of voters and pre-shading of ballots.

Specifically, the Comelec and the OSG were told to comment on the following

issues:

- Whether the Tribunal is empowered by the Constitution to declare the

annulment of elections without special elections and the failure of

elections and order the conduct of special elections

- Whether the TribunalÂ’s declaration of failure or elections and then the

ordering of special elections will infringe upon the ComelecÂ’s mandate and

power provided for in Article IX (C) (Sec. 2) of the Constitution

The SC PIO said that the Comelec is directed to report to the PET if

petitions for failure or elections were filed in the provinces of Lanao Del

Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao; corresponding resolutions to the said

petitions, whether they were granted or denied; whether special elections

were held in areas declared to have had a failure of elections in the said

provinces; and the results of the special elections.

The Comelec and OSG are required to furnish their comments to the parties,

while Marcos and Robredo are given 15 days from receipt of the comment to

submit their replies to the SC.

 

 

ABOLISH OR REVAMP PHILHEALTH – DUTERTE

 

MANILA — President Duterte wants the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

(PhilHealth) abolished or revamped, saying reforms cannot be implemented if

officials who are already entrenched in the system remain in their posts.

Duterte said he is considering imposing a “single line of authority” in the

state-run insurer, which allegedly lost billions in funds due to fraudulent

activities.

“I will try to begin tomorrow shaking the tree in PhilHealth,” the President

said during a meeting of the governmentÂ’s pandemic task force last Monday at

Malacañang.

“With regard to PhilHealth, I am going to propose to Congress to abolish...

if you privatize it, my God, there is no money. Who will provide your

insurance? DonÂ’t tell me capitalists will provide the insurance. Will we pay

for it? You do not have funds,” he said.

Duterte said the lack of funds is the reason why the government is selling

its real estate properties in Japan.

“We have to raise money. Wala nang pambayad ‘yang sa PhilHealth na ‘yan

kung... Kaya walang ibang remedy diyan (There is no money for

PhilHealth...there is no other remedy). It must be a surgical move,” he

said.

 

 

VELASCO TO REPLACE CAYETANO AS HOUSE SPEAKER ON OCTOBER 14: SOURCE

 

MANILA - Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will take over as Speaker of

the House of Representatives on Oct. 14, according to a source from the

Velasco camp.

Velasco and incumbent House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano met with President

Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night to put an end on the Speakership issue.

Neither Malacañang nor the camp of Cayetano has issued any confirmation or

details of the meeting or responded to ABS-CBN inquiries.

The same ABS-CBN source claimed that it was the President who decided to

enforce the agreement which he brokered last year.

At the end of Tuesday's meeting, it was agreed upon by all parties that

Cayetano will make an announcement. The same source also said Cayetano will

make the announcement Wednesday.

Congress will go on a recess from October 17 to November 15. CayetanoÂ’s

leadership has assured that the 2021 budget will be approved before the

break.

 

 

DUTERTE WANTS VELASCO-CAYETANO TERM-SHARING DEAL ENFORCED: COLLEAGUES

 

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte pushed Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to

uphold a term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and let

him lead the House of Representatives, two of its members said Wednesday.

Under the "gentleman's agreement" that Duterte brokered last year, Cayetano

will lead the House for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until

October, while Velasco would assume leadership for the next 21 months.

"It was the agreement and it was enforced during the time they were

discussing among the 3 of them. The question was only as to when, but both

parties agreed before the President on Oct. 14," Oriental Mindoro 1st

District Rep. Salvador "Doy" Leachon told ANC.

Cayetano and Velasco, with "7 or 8" allies each, met Duterte at the

Malacañang Golf Clubhouse, after which he held a separate meeting with the

pair and his longtime aide and now senator Christopher "Bong" Go.

"It was stated very clearly. Well, the position of course of the President,

even during the time it was being impressed upon us, the nature of the

conversation, is to enforce definitely," Leachon, Velasco's PDP-Laban

partymate, added.

DUTERTE STOPS SQUABBLE

At one point in Tuesday's meeting, the Cayetano camp claimed that though

they wanted to uphold the deal, Velasco "betrayed" them by supposedly

mounting several failed power grabs and had offered the post of senior

Deputy Speaker to his supporters.

"Sabi niya (Duterte), ‘Okay, tama na ‘yan.’ Pero napakabait, dahil binigyan

naman lahat ng pagkakataon magsalita," Leachon said.

(Duterte said, 'Okay, that is enough.' But he was very kind because he gave

everyone a change to speak.)

"For that reason, in behalf of Cong. Velasco and all us there, I would like

to take this opportunity to thank the President for giving such important

time to all of us. He has shown to me not only the President of the country,

but likewise, just like a father of a family, he wants all things in order,"

he said.

 

 

RCBC WAIVES PESONET, INSTAPAY FEES UNTIL DEC. 31

 

MANILA - Rizal Commercial Banking Corp said Wednesday it would continue

waiving fees for online fund transfers until Dec. 31 to offer relief for

Filipinos during the pandemic.

Fees for PesoNet and InstaPay transactions will remain free until the end of

the year, RCBC said in a statement.

Such move will also encourage clients to do their banking transactions at

home and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, it said.

"In response to the continuing call for relief measures during these

extraordinary times, RCBC will continue to waive fund transfer fees through

PesoNet and InstaPay until December 31, 2020," the lender said.

Several banks and other e-money operators have said that they would resume

charging fees for select money transfer transactions starting Oct. 1.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier urged banks to waive fees for

digital transactions. Several other banks will waive their fees until

December, according to an updated list released by the central bank in

August.

 

 

DUTERTE RANT VS FACEBOOK PART OF 'MEDIA SUPPRESSION, REPRESSION': JOURNALIST

 

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's rant against Facebook is "part of a

long trend of media suppression and repression," veteran investigative

journalist Sheila Coronel said Wednesday.

Duterte had called out the social media giant after it took down several

propaganda networks in support of the administration.

"In a way this is Duterte being Duterte. This is a part of long trend of

media suppression and repression. HeÂ’s focused on Facebook now. HeÂ’s

eliminated most of ABS-CBN, he has intimidated the Inquirer, his government

has filed a dozen cases against Rappler and Rappler staff," Coronel told

ANC.

"What heÂ’s doing is heÂ’s employing an arsenal of media control that populist

and autocratic leaders all around that world have deployed."

The President's move was "ironic" as Facebook helped him during his 2016

elections campaign, Coronel said.

"Facebook is a double-edged sword. Facebook was in a way an enabler of

President Duterte during his campaign and into his presidency when Facebook

allowed a number of whole plethora of fake news accounts and disinformation

in support of President Duterte to proliferate," she said.

Should Facebook be banned from the Philippines, it may "backfire" to the

Duterte administration, she added.

"Whether this will backfire, it may because a lot of Filipinos overseas who

rely on Facebook in order to connect. Facebook is not only a source of news,

itÂ’s a source of personal connection," she said.

 

 

JEEPNEY DRIVERS CRY DISCRIMINATION, URGE SC TO NULLIFY MASS TRANSPORT BAN

ISSUANCES

 

MANILA – Deprived of livelihood during the months-long mass transit ban, a

confederation of transport workers and several jeepney drivers asked the

Supreme Court on Tuesday to nullify several mass transport ban issuances

that, they said, deny them of their right to work while other public utility

vehicles have resumed operations.

The National Confederation of TransportworkersÂ’ Union (NCTU) and 17 drivers

filed on Tuesday a petition challenging memorandum circulars issued by the

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) as well as

guidelines from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Inter-Agency

Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The IATF guidelines imposed quarantine protocols, while DOTr and LTFRB

issuances regulated which types of mass transportation can operate under

existing protocols.

The petitioners said the 3 agencies did not have the authority to impose the

mass transit ban because it is a police power that can only be exercised by

Congress, unless validly delegated.

They claimed these government agencies unreasonably confiscated their right

to work when they “failed to establish a causal connection between the

prohibition and the mitigation of the effects of the pandemic.”

They also accused the government agencies of discriminating against jeepney

drivers and operators.

Jeepneys were among the modes of public transportation suspended upon the

implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March. While

64,000 public utility vehicles including buses have resumed operations, only

about 13,000 out of the 55,000 PUJ units have been allowed to ply certain

routes as of August.

“There is also uncertainty as to what standards were followed in choosing

which among the traditional PUJs were to be allowed to ply the roads. The

decision-making process of Respondents is thus patently whimsical and

infringed Petitioner’s right to due process,” they added.

The group slammed the government for its preference for modernized jeepneys

despite research showing modern jeepneys are not safer than traditional

jeepneys.

“If we were to base safety from COVID-19 with the passenger capacity of the

vehicle, traditional jeepneys should not have been excluded or placed last

in bringing back public transportationÂ… As a matter of fact, riding a

traditional PUJ is even safer compared to a modernized PUJ because the

former needs no conductor to operate, which is not the case for the latter,”

they argued.

 

 

SENIOR CITIZEN QUESTIONS QUARANTINE PROTOCOLS

 

But jeepney drivers are not the only ones feeling the pinch of the

quarantine protocols.

Senior citizen Eugenio Insigne filed a petition also on Tuesday for

declaratory relief, asking the high court to declare various IATF issuances

void and to issue a temporary restraining order to stop their

implementation.

In particular, Insigne complained against travel restrictions on senior

citizens who are not allowed to go out while quarantine protocols are in

place.

He claimed confinement of senior citizens inside the house violated their

rights to due process, freedom of choice, self-determination, and equal

protection, invoking even international treaties.

He warned of “severe negative mental and psychological impact of [the]

quarantine,” claiming that the “cure is worse than the problem.”

“They confine us at home; to await our death,” he said in his rant-filled

petition.

“Restore our freedom; give back our lives; let senior citizens enjoy their

retirement,” he asked the high court.

The 2 petitions are the latest to challenge measures taken by Philippine

authorities to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Two previous petitions – one questioning the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act

and quarantine measures, and the other urging free mass COVID-19 testing –

were dismissed outright by the SC, without requiring comment from

respondents.

 

 

THE REST

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COVID-19 CASES AMONG FILIPINOS ABROAD BREACH 10,500

 

MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday recored another

spike in the number of Filipinos infected with novel coronavirus abroad.

With 40 new COVID-19 cases reported by the DFA, infections among Filipinos

abroad are now at 10,507.

The agency said the newly reported infections came from the Americas, Asia

and the Pacific, and Europe.

"The reported spikes are due to the belated reports received by our Foreign

Service Posts in Asia and the Pacific and Europe. Meanwhile, there are no

new COVID-19 fatalities reported today," a statement released by the

department read.

The number of deaths is unchanged at 792.

DFA also reported a spike in recoveries, with 51 new reports on Tuesday

bringing the total number of recoveries among overseas Filipinos to 6,727.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health has confirmed 309,303 cases of

novel coronavirus along with 5,448 deaths.

 

 

PHILIPPINES TO LAUNCH NATIONAL ID PROJECT IN OCTOBER 9

 

The Philippines' national ID program will finally kick off on Oct. 9, Local

Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said on Tuesday.

The plan is to pre-register 5 million households in 32 priority provinces,

he said in an online briefing.

"This is just the first tranche of registration. Once we are done with the

priority provinces, we will slow do the registration for the rest of the

country," Malaya said in Filipino.

 

 

RENO LIVER SPREAD MAKER APOLOGIZES, SEEKS GOV'T APPROVAL: FDA

 

The maker of popular liver spread Reno has apologized to regulators and is

seeking their seal of approval, the Food and Drug Administration said

Wednesday.

"Sumulat naman sila at nagpaumanhin dahil hindi nga raw sila nakapagrehistro

ng produkto nila," Director General Eric Domingo told ABS-CBNÂ’s TeleRadyo.

"Sila'y nag-submit na rin ng application for registration. Hinihintay pong

makumpleto nila ang requirements. Basta naman po kumpleto ang requirements,

mabilis ang approval sa FDA," he added.

The requirements include a test checking whether or not the product's

ingredients are safe, Domingo said.

The FDA in 2009 got its mandate to register processed foods, which was

previously a task of the agriculture department and its meat inspection

unit, the official earlier said.

Recently, an FDA agent noticed that Reno Liver Spread was not in the

agencyÂ’s records, prompting the agency to urge the public to refrain from

buying the product.

 

 

DOT ISSUES DOS AND DON’TS FOR ‘STAYCATIONS’ IN GCQ AREAS

 

MANILA — The Department of Tourism on Tuesday released the strict guidelines

for hotel staycations for leisure purposes in general community quarantine

areas.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat signed Administrative Order

2020-006-a, or the Amended Guidelines for Staycations Under GCQ, last

Friday. It was only released to the members of the press early Tuesday.

Under this order, hotels within the GCQ areas may accept guests of all ages,

except those with underlying medical conditions.

These accommodation establishments, however, must secure a DOT Certificate

to Operate for Staycations prior to accepting guests.

The DOT launched the online accreditation system on Tuesday.

They must also follow guidelines on guest handling and maximum capacity

number of guests for room.

 

 

MANILA LGU OFFERS FREE SWAB TESTS FOR CERTAIN WORKERS IN THE CITY

 

MANILA — Swab testing for COVID-19 will be free for certain workers in

Manila City.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said Wednesday that the city government is offering

free RT-PCR testing for employees of malls, hotels, restaurants and

supermarkets; vendors in public markets; and drivers of e-trikes, pedicabs,

tricycles, jeepneys and buses operating in the Philippine capital.

The Manila Public Information Office said Wednesday that Moreno issued

Executive Order No. 39 directing the cityÂ’s health department to provide

free swab tests to the workers after the Sta. Ana HospitalÂ’s second

molecular laboratory was launched on Tuesday.

The hospitalÂ’s new molecular laboratory can process about 1,000 swab tests a

day, the Manila PIO said.

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE

 

 

ANGEL LOCSIN MOST ADMIRED WOMAN IN PH; DUTERTE HIGHER THAN POPE IN MENÂ’S

POLL

 

MANILA — Kapamilya star Angel Locsin is the most admired woman among online

users in the Philippines.

This is according to a poll that also placed President Rodrigo Duterte

higher than the Pope.

The poll was conducted by UK-based market research and data analytics

company, YouGov, which annually publishes a list on which men and women

around the world people look up to the most.

The local results of the survey, conducted online, showed Locsin and Duterte

as the most admired people by Filipinos. They are followed by Miss Universe

winner Catriona Gray and Manny Pacquiao, respectively.

Only four out of the top 10 most admired women in the list are Filipinos,

with Sarah Geronimo and Liza Soberano being the other two. It included

global names such as Taylor Swift, Angelina Jolie, and Emma Watson.

Locsin, who has inspired millions with her acts of charity, especially

during times of crisis, sat atop the list with a 15.03% “admiration

score.”On the men’s side, Duterte topped the list by more than 9%, four

places above Pope Francis. Pacquiao, Isko Moreno, and Jackie Chan all ranked

higher than the Pope as well.

The results were published September 23.

As explained in YouGovÂ’s website, the poll was conducted online, from May to

September.

It featured a list of names that were compiled via another survey earlier in

the year (from January to March), wherein respondents were asked: “Thinking

about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most

admire?”

The 40 nominated figures (20 men and 20 women) then featured in the actual

survey, with YouGov adding an “additional 5-10 popular local figures …for

individual countries.”

YouGov explained that because the Philippines is included in a list of

countries where “internet penetration is low,” the results can only be said

to be representative of its online population.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

FOREX $1 = P 48.50

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury

that provokes it. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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