World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
7 January 2020

DUTERTE SIGNS 2020 NATIONAL BUDGET INTO LAW 

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed into law the 2020 
national budget, averting a repeat of last year's delay that slowed economic 
growth. 
The P4.1 trillion General Appropriations Act of 2020 is 9 percent higher 
than the P3.76 trillion budget for 2019. The budget was not signed at the 
end of 2019 because of the President's "thorough" scrutiny of the bill, 
Malacañang earlier said. 
In his speech, Duterte said this year's spending plan would support the 
government's goal of making the Philippines an upper bracket-income country, 
and lowering poverty to 14 percent by the end of his term. 
"As in previous years, we will continue to allocate a great portion of our 
national budget for infrastructure development and social services – 
programs that will directly touch the lives of our people," he said. 
Of the P4.1 trillion budget, 36 percent will be set aside for education, 
healthcare, housing, and social welfare, Duterte said. 
Another 29 percent will be used to fund infrastructure, tourism, trade, job 
generation, and agriculture projects, while 11 percent will be allotted for 
debt servicing, he added. 
Bickering among lawmakers over alleged insertions in the 2019 budget led to 
a delay in its passage to April of that year, slowing economic growth in the 
first half. 
Gross domestic product growth regained momentum in the July to August 
quarter as the government caught up on spending. 
The validity of some items in the 2019 budget was extended up to the last 
day of 2020 to help state agencies catch up on spending. 


'KINAKABAHAN AKO': DUTERTE SAYS IRAN 'HELL-BENT' ON RETALIATION VS US 

Duterte asks Congress to discuss US-Iran tensions 
MANILA - A fearful President Rodrigo Duterte called Monday for supplementary 
funding and measures to secure the lives of Filipinos in the Middle East in 
light of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. 
Duterte called on Congress and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to 
prepare funds for the possible repatriation of Filipinos as the chief 
executive noted that it would take a "huge, gargantuan" effort to secure 
their safety. 
"I am afraid for the so many lives of our countrymen in jeopardy," the 
President said in a speech in Malacañang following the signing of the 2020 
national budget. 
"Kinakabahan ako (I am nervous). Iran seems to be hell-bent on a 
retaliation, which I think will come. It's a matter of time." 
"I do not have anything, nary a worry, were it not for a fact that there are 
a lot of Filipinos there... We need the money. I need it before it actually 
starts," he added. 
The Middle East is the top regional destination for overseas Filipino 
workers with over 1.2 million working in the region, according to the 
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. 
Tensions between the US and Iran escalated after a US drone strike killed 
military commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday. 
"We do not know what will be the end result of this crisis. It could lead to 
a war, it could be a widescale strife. Whatever it is, we Filipinos are 
really in great peril," Duterte said. 
The Philippine leader appealed to Congress to set aside at least a day or 
two to discuss the effects of the escalating tensions between Tehran and 
Washington, which he labeled an "evolving crisis." 
Duterte on sunday met with the country's top security officials and asked 
the military to prepare aircraft and ships for the possible repatriation of 
Filipinos in the Middle East. 
Newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. 
Filemon Santos Jr. assured the public Monday that the military is prepared 
to execute the President's orders. 
"As directed by the President, we are prepared with all our air and naval 
assets in the event the situation worsens," Santos Jr. told ANC. 
"There will be some risk...It will take coordination with other countries 
but we are trying our best so that when an emergency erupts we could go 
there as soon as possible," he said. 


DUTERTE SENDS CABINET OFFICIAL TO MIDDLE EAST TO LAY EVACUATION 'GROUNDWORK' 

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte will send a cabinet official to the 
Middle East to coordinate with countries hosting Filipino workers and "lay 
the groundwork for evacuation" after the killing of an Iranian general in a 
US drone strike stoked fresh tensions, Malacañang said Tuesday. 
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu was tasked to fly immediately to the Middle 
East, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said. Cimatu is a former 
military chief and special envoy to the Middle East who in 2004 secured the 
release of a Filipino hostage in Iraq. 
The President’s adviser on overseas Filipino workers, Abdullah Mamao, was 
also ordered to fly to Iran and Iraq on Tuesday to deliver Duterte’s appeal 
that "no Filipinos be harmed in the course of the ongoing conflicts," Panelo 
said. 
A special working committee composed of the secretaries of defense, foreign 
affairs, transportation, interior and the local government, as well as the 
national security adviser was tasked to draw up a repatriation plan, he 
said. 
Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang on Monday: "I am afraid for the so 
many lives of our countrymen in jeopardy." 
The Department of Labor and Employment created a 24/7 crisis management 
committee, its chief Silvestre Bello said. 
Most workers in Iran and Iraq are undocumented as the Philippines does not 
have any bilateral agreement with the two nations, according to Bello. 
"Foremost in the mind of the President is the safety of Filipinos in the 
Middle East and he assures the Filipino community and the nation that the 
Philippine Government is doing everything it can in making sure that our 
fellow citizens abroad are out of harm's way," Panelo said. 


IT’S FINAL: SC JUNKS PETITION FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE 

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) has junked with finality the petition 
seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the Philippines. 
In a two-page notice issued by the SC last Dec. 10 and made available 
yesterday, the SC denied “with finality the said motion for reconsideration 
as no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the 
questioned decision.” 
In October 2015, Jesus Nicardo Falcis III, an openly gay lawyer, filed the 
petition that sought to strike down the prohibitions against same-sex 
marriage under the Family Code. 
The SC unanimously found the lawyer’s petition deficient in September last 
year, citing his lack of legal standing, violation of the principle of 
hierarchy of courts and failure to raise an actual, justiciable controversy. 
Falcis filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated Nov. 14, 2019. 
“No further pleadings or motions will be entertained,” said SC Clerk of 
Court Edgar Aricheta. 


‘DUTERTE’S WAR ON DRUGS A MASSIVE FAILURE’ 

MANILA — With a score of just one percent, the Duterte administration’s war 
on drugs is a “massive failure,” Vice President Leni Robredo said yesterday. 
This is the gist of Robredo’s 40-page report on her 18-day stint as 
co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), 
which she made public yesterday. 
Robredo said the failure was due to law enforcers focusing on neutralizing 
low-level pushers rather than cutting main sources of supply. 
She said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was able to seize 
only one percent of the total methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu supply 
in the past three years. 
“If you liken it to an exam, the government’s score is one out of 100,” 
Robredo said at a press conference. 
“(The drug war) is really a failure. The campaign against illegal drugs has 
many aspects, but almost the entire funds were poured into neutralizing 
small-time pushers and users. They forgot to look into the aspect on where 
the bulk of drugs that victimize the youth and our citizens are coming 
from,” she added. 
Citing data from the Philippine National Police-Drug Enforcement Group, the 
Vice President said approximately 3,000 kilograms of shabu worth P25 billion 
are consumed per week, but the PDEA was only able to haul in 1,344.87 
kilograms last year. 
She added that the figures were even lower in 2017 and 2018 at 1,053.91 
kilograms and 785.31 kilograms, respectively. 
“It’s very clear that despite the huge number of Filipinos killed, only one 
percent of shabu supply and drug money have been seized,” Robredo said. 
The Anti-Money Laundering Council, according to the Vice President, reported 
P1.4 billion worth of frozen assets related to the illegal drug trade from 
2017 to 2018. 
“This is less than one percent of estimated profits from the illegal drug 
trade,” Robredo said. “Supply constriction, as an aspect of the overall 
strategy against illegal drugs, has been a massive failure.” 
The Vice President also urged President Duterte to transfer the ICAD 
chairmanship from the PDEA to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), which she 
said is more capable of leading the campaign. 
“I recommend the transfer of the ICAD chairmanship to the DDB. If the DDB 
leads the ICAD, we can expect a balanced campaign and all aspects will be 
addressed,” she said. 
Robredo said her report was not meant to attack Duterte but to improve the 
drug war. 
The Vice President also urged Duterte to certify as urgent bills that will 
fund and strengthen the anti-drug abuse councils and anti-drug abuse offices 
as well as measures that will institutionalize the creation of 
community-based drug rehabilitation in every community. 
“You can still expect my continued support to solve the drug problem. I hope 
our countrymen can also expect you to do what is right to face the truth and 
to fix the ongoing campaign,” she added. 


PALACE SAYS ROBREDO'S DRUG WAR REPORT A 'DUD' 

MANILA- Malacañang dismissed Monday the long-hyped drug war report and 
recommendation of Vice President Leni Robredo as a "dud," saying there was 
nothing new with her findings. 
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo belied Robredo's claim that the 
government's 3-year anti-narcotics drive is a failure for supposedly seizing 
only less than 1 percent of the total shabu supply. 
"It's a dud. Wala naman siyang sinabi doon na bago na hindi tinututukan ng 
mga ahensiya na involved sa laban sa droga. There's nothing new with what 
she said," Panelo told reporters in Malacañang. 
"I think she just wants to be relevant," he added. 
Robredo was supposed to release her report on the drug war in early December 
after she was fired by President Rodrigo Duterte as co-chair of the 
Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) 18 days since her 
appointment. 
She, however, decided to delay the report in deference to the victims of the 
magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Mindanao, a move that did not sit well with the 
Palace. 
Citing police data, Robredo said around 3,000 kilos of shabu is consumed in 
the country every week or around 156,000 kilos per year but only less than 1 
percent is seized by authorities. 
Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed it only seized 1,344 
kilos shabu from January to October, 2019; 785 kilos in 2018; and 1,053 
kilos in 2017, she said. 
"Isipin na lang natin kung exam ito. Magiging iskor ng ating pamahalan ay 1 
over 100," Robredo said in a press conference Monday. 


PDEA: ROBREDO DATA ON DRUG WAR 'FAILURE' BASED ON 'WILD ASSUMPTION' 

MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo used data anchored on "wild assumption" 
when she dubbed the government's anti-narcotics drive as a "massive 
failure," the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said Tuesday. 
Citing police data, Robredo said Monday that the campaign seized only 1 
percent of the 156,000 kilos of shabu that flooded the country yearly since 
2016. 
The Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, which Robredo briefly 
co-chaired last year, had no official figure on the amount of drugs 
circulating in the Philippines, said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino. 
The figure that the Vice President cited, he said, was a mere estimate by 
police Drug Enforcement Group chief Col. Romeo Caramat, Jr. 
"Sabi ni Col. Caramat sa akin, that is a wild assumption. Hindi official 
figure iyan," Aquino told radio DZMM. 


NATIONAL, CITY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS LAY GROUNDWORK FOR BAGUIO REHABILITATION 

BAGUIO CITY — Baguio's rehabilitation will include a comprehensive program 
to address the city's environmental issues and boost tourism, the its mayor 
said. 
This, as a high-level meeting between the national government and Baguio 
City officials starts this week to lay the groundwork for the rehabilitation 
plan. 
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the local government will present 
priority projects the development of Burnham Park, a youth convergence 
center, pay parking buildings and interventions on improving the quality of 
waste water, water quality management, solid waste management to top 
officials of the Tourism, Interior and Local Government, and Environment 
departments. 


PORK FROM QUEZON CITY SUPERMARKET TESTS POSITIVE FOR ASF 

MANILA — Another supermarket in Quezon City has been found selling meat 
products infected with African swine fever (ASF), prompting the local 
government to strengthen measures to stop the spread of the disease. 
Mayor Joy Belmonte said meat samples submitted to the Bureau of Animal 
Industry tested positive for ASF. 
The supermarket is located along Doña Carmen in Quezon City. 
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said validation is still ongoing. 
“We will continue to strengthen guidelines so this will not happen again,” 
Dar told reporters yesterday. 
Belmonte said she would seek a dialogue with the owners of supermarkets in 
the city and their suppliers. 
“The ASF confined in pigs has reached grocery stores and that is scary 
because pork products are supposed to have NMIS (National Meat Inspection 
Service) certification,” she said. 
“We ask the public not to blame anybody. The agriculture department is in 
charge of investigating these supermarkets. On the part of the local 
government, our concern is the safety of the people,” the mayor added. 


ANGKAS GETS 3-DAY TRO VS RIDER CAP 

MANILA — The Mandaluyong City regional trial court has granted a three-day 
temporary restraining order (TRO) against a government policy that limits 
the number of Angkas riders in the ongoing motorcycle taxi pilot run. 
In an order signed yesterday by acting Executive Judge Ofelia Calo in 
response to a class suit filed by Angkas riders, a 72-hour TRO was issued 
against the 10,000 cap in Metro Manila and 3,000 riders for Metro Cebu per 
company imposed by the technical working group (TWG) on motorcycle taxis. 
The TRO restrained the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 
(LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) from implementing the 
revised guidelines on the motorcycle taxi pilot program, which limits the 
number of riders. 
The court said the 17,000 accredited Angkas riders who were allowed to 
participate in the pilot implementation would suffer “grave irreparable 
injury as they stand to lose their jobs.” 
“This proves that justice is on our side. We are only trying to make an 
honest living and helping commuters every day to get to their destinations 
fast and safe. Why should the government stop us? Why should our families go 
hungry? We are not doing anything wrong,” Rommel Villanueva, one of the 
riders who filed the petition, said in a statement. 


GRAB 'SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING' GRABBIKE RELAUNCH 

MANILA - Grab said it was "seriously considering" the relaunch of its 
motorcycle taxi service in the Philippines, as regulators test rules for 
2-wheeled public transport services. 
Should GrabBike be revived, it would go against market leader Angkas and new 
players JoyRide and MoveIt. GrabBike operations ceased in 2016 in compliance 
with government regulations. 
Grab said it was ready to present its GrabBike proposal to the Land 
Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board anytime. 
"Grab would like to reiterate its interest in participating in the 
motorcycle taxi space to help provide affordable and agile transport 
solutions to hundreds of thousands of Filipino commuters," the ride-hailing 
firm said. 
GrabBike is unlikely to compete with Angkas until "regulations are clear," 
Grab Philippines president Brian Cu earlier told ABS-CBN News. 
A technical working group under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is 
currently supervising the pilot-run of motorcycle taxis for ride-hailing 
with Angkas, JoyRide and MoveIt as participants. 
The Senate Committee on Public Services set a hearing on motorcycle taxi 
regulation on Jan. 14, Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the committee said 
Tuesday. 


KATHRYN SHARES ICELAND ADVENTURE IN FIRST VLOG 

MANILA - Actress Kathryn Bernardo finally uploaded her first vlog, where she 
shared snippets of her trip to Iceland with boyfriend Daniel Padilla. 
Bernardo, who launched her YouTube channel just last Friday, posted the 
first part of her Iceland trip on Sunday. 
The video covers their arrival in the Nordic nation as well as the places 
they visited in the first few days of their trip. 
"Sharing with you the first part of our Iceland adventure last September! 
This country was in both of our bucketlists so we relished every second we 
spent here. We tried our best to film it in a way that would make you feel 
as if you were part of the trip, so we hope you enjoy watching!" Bernardo 
wrote in the caption. 
This isn't the first time the two have been to Iceland. In 2016, they 
visited Iceland for the first time to do a magazine shoot. 
But as Bernardo explained in her vlog, they weren't able to do a lot at that 
time since they were there for work. 
Bernardo’s foray into vlogging is seen to help cement her status as a social 
media superstar, having been listed as among the top Filipino personalities 
across platforms, including Twitter and Instagram. 


NBA SCORES JAN 5 


FINAL 
    1    2    3    4    T 
team logo Knicks 10-26    45    24    31    32    132 
team logo Clippers 26-12    29    47    38    21    135 
SCORING LEADERSM. Morris NY 
38 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST 
M. Harrell LAC 
34 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST 


FINAL 
    1    2    3    4    T 
team logo Trail Blazers 15-22    19    27    35    30    111 
team logo Heat 26-10    31    34    29    28    122 
SCORING LEADERSD. Lillard POR 
34 PTS, 1 REB, 12 AST 
G. Dragic MIA 
29 PTS, 3 REB, 13 AST 


FINAL 
    1    2    3    4    T 
team logo Timberwolves 14-21    24    42    28    24    118 
team logo Cavaliers 10-26    20    28    31    24    103 
SCORING LEADERS 
    G. Dieng MIN 
22 PTS, 13 REB, 6 AST 
    D. Exum CLE 
28 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST 


FINAL 
    1    2    3    4    T 
team logo Grizzlies 15-22    27    35    34    25    121 
team logo Suns 14-22    31    26    20    37    114 
SCORING LEADERS 
    J. Valanciunas MEM 
30 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST 
    D. Booker PHO 
40 PTS, 2 REB, 6 AST 


FINAL 
    1    2    3    4    T 
team logo Pistons 13-24    22    25    32    20    99 
team logo Lakers 29-7    23    33    19    31    106 
SCORING LEADERSD. Rose DET 
28 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST 
A. Davis LAL 
24 PTS, 11 REB, 2 AST 

Share Your Thoughts