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MAKATI CITY (PhlTodayUSA) – Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said  they will look into the liability of local government units (LGUs) that issued business permits to establishments found to have dumped wastewater at the Manila Bay.

 

Año said the DILG will create an investigating team to determine the accountability of the LGUs.

 

This as several firms have been shut down and notified of their violations for polluting Manila Bay.

 

“We will look into the liability of the LGUs that issued business permits to these establishments. We will investigate the extent of the violation of certain companies and based on the result of the inspection, we will see if the violation is new or if it has been going on for a long time. We will determine their accountability,” Año said at the sidelines of the meeting of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) at the office of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in Makati City.

 

Ano warned that administrative and criminal cases will be filed against local government officials who are not complying with environmental laws.

 

Año noted that LGU officials present at the MMC meeting have expressed their support for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay and vowed that they will suspend or cancel the business permits of firms polluting the bay.

 

 Año said the DILG will also prioritize the relocation of informal settler families residing along the waterways going to the Manila Bay.

 

“We will prioritize those living along the waterways to remove the source of wastes from informal settler families (ISFs), which go to the Manila Bay),” he said.

 

According to DILG data, there are some 230,000 ISFs living along the Manila Bay and its tributaries.

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By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE

 

(Photo from Philippine Star)

 

QUEZON CITY (PhlTodayUSA) — Reelectionists Senators Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares and Cynthia Villar continued to hold on to the top of winnable senatorial candidates as shown in the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey.

 

And for the first time, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go jumped into the survey's winnable Magic 12, landing in 5th to 6th place pleasing his former boss, President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

Duterte's other candidates, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronaldo Bato dela Rosa and former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, however, did not make it in the Magic 12. Outgoing Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, whom Duterte had also endorsed, fell to no. 14 in the survey.

 

In the  survey, Poe garnered 64 percent of voter preference, followed by Villar with 57 percent voter preference.
 

In the SWS survey conducted from January 23-26, Go made a huge jump from his 15th-16th place ranking in the December 2018 SWS survey to secure a place well within the winning circle, tied with reelectionist Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara.

 

In the same SWS survey, former senator Manuel "Lito" Lapid  and former senator and now an outgoing Rep. Juliana Pilar "Pia" Cayetano of Taguig City trailed Poe and Villar coming in 3rd and 4th places.

 

Sen. Lourdes "Nancy" Binay is in seventh place, while former senators Manuel "Mar" Roxas and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., recently cleared of his plunder and graft cases, are tied in the 8th-9th place.

 

Completing the “Magic 12” are reelectionists Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III (10th), Sen. Benigno Paolo "Bam" Aquino (11th) and former senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada outshining his half-brother, reelectionist Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito.

 

Aquino previously was no. 14 in the earlier SWS senatoriable survey.

 

An elated Go immediately thanked the people for their trust and confidence in his capability to serve the nation as a legislator as he vowed to work even harder to present his advocacies to the Filipino people.
 

“It’s heartwarming to realize you trust my capability and sincerity to serve the country. May this serve as inspiration for us to work harder in delivering to our countrymen the programs we wish to push forward for the benefit and prosperity of every Filipino,” Go said in a statement to media.

 

“I’d like to change the mindset of people that a simple provincial man working as a staff, unpopular, not an actor, not from a family of politicians can dream of serving others in higher capacity,” he added.
 

Go also thanked his mentor, President Duterte, for endorsing his candidacy. Go served as assistant to Duterte for many years while he was mayor, vice mayor and congressman and when he became president.

 

In his visits to various places, Duterte vouched for the character and integrity of his former top aide, stressing that Go is an “extremely honest” man and a dedicated public servant.

 

“It helped a lot that I got endorsed by President Duterte whom I had served for 20 years and who really knows me well,” he said. “Thank you President Duterte. It only shows our countrymen’s strong belief in the changes you desire.”

 

But he stressed that his recent rise in the survey means he should work harder and continue the service he is doing.

 

“This only means we should work harder so we can better serve others. I will go to every corner, to the farthest place and the narrowest alleys just to help those in need most,” he said.

 

“Just like what I promised you, I will be your bridge to the President, but I also want to be your bridge to real change that can benefit every Filipino,” he added.

 

Go’s surge in the rating of senatorial candidates came more than a week before the start of the campaign period for national candidates in the 2019 midterm elections.

 

Go’s legislative agenda prioritizes improved delivery of health services, including the institutionalization of Malasakit Centers across the country.

 

A Malasakit Center brings together in one room all concerned government agencies such as the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, PhilHealth, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, to make it easier for poor patients to avail themselves of medical and financial assistance from the government.

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(Photo from Sunstar)

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Armed Forces of the Philippines  is considering recommending an extension of martial law in Mindanao to the President, following positive "gains" as campaigns against terrorism continue.

 

Earlier, the Department of Interior and Local Government with Secretary Eduardo Ano at the helm disclosed it was in favor of another martial law extension together with the Philippine National Police.

 

AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military will still await for the comprehensive report on martial rule before they recommend the extension.

 

"Majority want to extend martial law in whole of Mindanao that is why we are waiting for the comprehensive report before we do that (recommendation)," he said.

 

Galvez added that they will also await for the recommendation of Regional Peace and Order Councils regarding the martial law extension.

 

Last week, the RPOC in Zamboanga Peninsula passed the recommendation with Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco-Salazar as its chairman.

 

Galvez, who is on command visits with Eastern Mindanao Command and Western Mindanao Command, said the series of command conference is to determine the accomplishment and effects of martial law in their respective area of responsibilities.

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By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE

 

 

QUEZON CITY– The House of Representatives headed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has approved the proposed P3.757-trillion national government budget for 2019.

 

The approval comes more than a month since the chamber approved the budget bill on second reading, after three weeks of debates on the floor.

 

The appropriations bill will then be forwarded to the Senate for deliberations and approval.

 

The budget bill reportedly included the P52 billion in alleged pork barrel funds the House earlier realigned from appropriations of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

 

With 196 affirmative votes, eight negative votes, and no abstention, the Lower House approved Bill 8169 or the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

 

Earlier in the day, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. assured that the 2019 national budget would be in line with the vision of President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

Andaya also dispelled allegations that the House version of the 2019 budget is "pork-filled", as he allayed fears of a reenacted budget for next year.

 

"Everything we are doing here is compliant with all the pertinent laws and the Supreme Court decision," he said.

 

House appropriations vice chairperson Maria Carmen Zamora, sponsor of the bill, said the P3.757-trillion budget is the first annual cash-based budget of the Philippine government anchored on the theme, “Building a Bright Future for the Philippines and its People”.

 

The theme is consistent with the Duterte administration’s goal of transforming the country into a middle-income society where everyone can make his or her life better through provision of infrastructure and human capital development.

 

She said the cash-based budgeting system promotes better planning and coordination among agencies, raises credibility of the government with its suppliers and contractors, supports the government's expansionary policy by addressing underspending, and modernizes the budgeting system.

 

Zamora said the P3.757 trillion cash-based budget is equivalent to 19.3 percent of gross domestic product, which is marginally higher compared to the 18.9 percent in 2018.

 

This is about P433 billion or 13 percent higher than the 2018 cash-based equivalent of P3.324 trillion.

 

Budget bills emanate from the House of Representatives, although the Senate also needs to pass its own version. Failure to pass the budget bill before yearend will mean the government will run on a reenacted budget.

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By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE

 

 

MANILA – China’s President Xi Jinping travelled to Manila this week and embarked on a new campaign to claim the Philippines as a “strategic ally” veering away from the United States by offering billions of dollars in aid and loans to his “friend” President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

Xi made the two-day visit two years after Duterte declared he was reorienting his foreign policy away from the United States and towards China, despite decades of mistrust and bitter maritime disputes with Beijing.

 

Following a close-door meeting in Malacanang, Xi declared that he and Duterte agreed to elevate their relationship into a "strategic cooperation" as Beijing sought to counter decades-long American dominance in the Philippines.

 

As part of his campaign, the Chinese leader promised to import more Filipino products, provide another 50 government scholarship grants for Filipino students, and implement arrangements for Filipino teachers of the English language to work in China.

 

Xi also announced that China would donate 10,000 tons of rice to help communities devastated by Typhoon Ompong in September.

 

The two leaders discussed mutual concerns on defense, security, maritime cooperation, law enforcement, transnational crime, and strengthening the two countries’ partnership against drug trafficking. 

 

They also touched on cooperation in enhancing two-way tourism, agriculture, education, science and technology, and cultural exchanges.

 

During Xi's visit in Malacañang, China and the Philippines signed several pacts, including a memorandum of understanding for a cooperation on oil and gas development.

 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi exchanged signed copies of the memorandum of understanding on cooperation on oil and gas development.

 

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi described the cooperation as a “solution [on] how we can enjoy resources in the area,” referring to the disputed South China Sea.

 

The oil and gas deal was one of 29 pacts involving trade and investment, banking and finance, infrastructure, agriculture, education, culture, and people-to-people exchanges that the Philippines and China signed during the 2-day state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

 

Xi also invited Duterte to attend the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which China will host again in 2019.

 

Xi extended his invitation to Duterte as the two leaders witnessed the exchange of 29 agreements, including memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road Initiative cooperation after their expanded bilateral meeting at the Malacañang Palace.

 

“The two sides will seek greater complementarity between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines’ development strategy move forward cooperation around the three pillars of security, development, and people-to-people ties and then make our cooperation more comprehensive and balanced,” Xi said.

 

“Just now, the President and I had a friendly, in-depth and a productive meeting. We charted the future course of China-Philippines relations, and drew an ambitious blueprint for its development. The President and I both agreed to elevate our relationship into one of comprehensive, strategic cooperation,” Xi said in a joint press conference with Duterte.

 

“This vision charts a clear course for China-Philippines relations and sends a strong message to the world that our two countries are partners in seeking common development.”

 

The United States is the only country with which the Philippines has a treaty alliance, but Duterte has sought to pivot to China since assuming office amid Beijing’s rise in the region.

 

Duterte’s rapprochement with China has eased Manila’s tension with Beijing amid unresolved disputes over the South China Sea, but critics say the Filipino leader has compromised the country’s sovereignty with his policy.

 

A Social Weather Stations survey released late on Monday showed 84 percent of Filipinos felt it was wrong not to oppose China’s militarization of its man-made islands, and 86 percent believed it was right to strengthen the Philippine military, especially the navy.

 

The poll of 1,200 people conducted in late September also showed trust in the United States remained “very good”, but China was considered “poor”.

 

Farmers and other groups held a protest rally outside China’s embassy in Makati City while Presidents Xi and Duterte were meeting in Malacanang.

 

Philippine Twitter and Facebook feeds were also flooded with Winnie the Pooh memes in a winking expression of anti-China sentiment stirred by President Xi's state visit to Manila.

 

The self-described "bear of very little brain" has been used in the past on social media to poke fun at portly Xi, a joke that has drawn crackdowns from Beijing's censors.

 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo shrugged off the survey, saying Duterte’s strategy was to avoid a potential “inferno” of conflict while reaping the rewards of improved business.

 

“They are not aware of the real geopolitics in the region. The president is a very cautious diplomat,” Panelo declared in a television interview.

 

“Rather than provoke, he’d rather talk with them and get some trade relations that will benefit this country.”

 

China will reap better the benefits from its closer ties with the Philippines, according to a maritime affairs and law of sea expert.

 

"Overall, long-term parang ang mas makakalamang dito ang China dahil para sa kanila napakahalagang breakthrough ang Pilipinas, na ma-engganyo ang Pilipinas na medyo lumayo-layo sa U.S. at ma-place siya closer sa kanyang influence," said University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Jay Batongbacal.

 

Earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence warned the Philippines and other countrries about China's supposed "debt diplomacy."

 

The Philippine President has said he would never surrender the country’s claims to the sea and would bring up at the appropriate time Manila’s arbitration victory against Beijing.

 

Xi said while the Philippines and China “have a lot of common interests in the South China Sea,” the two countries would continue to manage contentious issues and promote maritime cooperation through friendly consultation.

 

Duterte, for his part, hailed the “positive momentum” in Philippines-China relations and the “deepening trust and confidence [between] our governments.”

 

The Filipino leader also highlighted the need for “mutual respect, sincerity, and adherence to sovereign equality” in nurturing the ties between the two countries.

 

“I will continue to work closely with President Xi to deepen the relationship between our great countries so we may together secure a peaceful and prosperous future for both our peoples and for the entire region,” Duterte said.

 

China is claiming nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea, conflicting with partial claims of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. 

 

It has ignored a July 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed panel that invalidated its assertion of sovereignty over the waters in response to a Philippine plea. 

 

Xi underscored the need for China and the Philippines to become “good neighbors,” saying this “serves the fundamental interests of both nations, and it meets the shared aspiration of all in the region.” 

 

In several of his speeches, Xi said friendship is "the only right choice" for China and the Philippines.

 

“Recognizing the wisdom in the saying, all creatures may grow together without harming other, all roads may run parallel without interfering with one another,” he said.

 

“Both sides agree that there is no one-size-fits-all development model, and that every country has a right to choose its own path.”

 

Xi also said China and the Philippines face similar developmental challenges which make the two “natural partners with a common destiny.”

 

“As our two countries forge ahead as win-win partners, China will continue to do its modest best to help and support the Philippines,” he said.

 

“Our support will come in many forms, from lending a hand to your counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism struggle, to helping to repair roads and bridges in Marawi and build new infrastructure there,” Xi said, in reference to the war-ravaged Islamic city. 

 

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QUEZON CITY – Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles, children of pork barrel scam prime suspect, have asked the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division to let them travel to the United States on November 15 to face charges filed in courts there.

 

A US grand jury has indicted Lim-Napoles; her children Jo Christine, James Christopher and Jeane; Reynald Luy Lim; and Ana Marie Lim for alleged money laundering.

 

A motion filed before the Sandiganbayan stated that Jo Christine and James Christopher “most respectfully ask that they be allowed to travel to the United States of America on November 15, 2018 and to stay in the United States of America while they are defending the civil and criminal cases filed against them.”


The Napoles siblings said that similar to the case before the Sandiganbayan, they “are required to personally appear during arraignment, hearings on motions, and trial in the US” or the rights and privileges available to them as accused would be waived.

 

In their pleadings, the siblings assured the anti-graft court that they would return to the Philippines not only to bolster their innocence, but also to perform their duties as accused in this case.”


Jo Christine and James Christopher are among the individuals facing charges of graft and of malversation through falsification before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division — which is enforcing a hold departure order against the accused — over Malampaya funds in 2009 to 2010.

 

They are also among the individuals charged with graft along with former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

 

Lim-Napoles is detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City over plunder and graft charges in connection with the PDAF scam.

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Photo from Facebook | @VPLeniRobredoPH

 

WASHINGTON – Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo aired hopes in Washington that  the Philippines can still avail grants from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as skyrocketing inflation could worsen poverty in the Philippines.

 

“I hope the Philippine government will be given the opportunity to pursue once again our application to receive grants from the MCC,” Robredo said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington where she also keynoted the CSIS-Pertamina Banyan Tree Leadership Forum and US-Philippines Strategic Initiative.

 

The MCC is an innovative and independent US foreign aid agency that helps lead the fight against global poverty.

 

Robredo disclosed that last December, the Philippines withdrew its application for a second aid package from the MCC.

 

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had said the withdrawal from the application for the grant was for policy independence, although former US president Barack Obama had criticized President Duterte’s war on drugs, souring ties between the US and the Philippines.

 

The Philippines received its first grant from the MCC from May 2011 to May 2016, amounting to $434 million.

 

“There has been a lot of talk that the reason why we did not get the second tranche of the MCC was our failure to comply with some of the agreements,” Robredo said.

 

“It is an opportunity for the US to demand from our government to comply with the basic tenets of democracy: respect for human rights, anti-corruption. I think we should continue to exert effort to be a worthy party of that agreement,” she added, noting that the poor Filipino people are the ones who will benefit from the grant.

 

“Especially now, inflation is very high in the Philippines, exchange rate is bad at this time. And it will be to the benefit of the country if that will happen very soon,” the Vice President said.

 

She supported the ongoing talks for a US-Philippines free trade agreement (FTA).

 

“The Philippines will always benefit from a free trade agreement. In fact, we have been lobbying for it, especially now that the trade deficit is at its largest... It is the responsibility of the government to comply with the requirements of the US,” she said.

 

The Philippines has recently started negotiations on a free trade agreement with the US.

 

Annual two-way trade of goods and services between the Philippines and its long-term ally totaled $27 billion in 2016, according to the Office of US Trade Representative.

 

In the same forum, Robredo admitted that the opposition Liberal Party which she heads would face a “tough” battle in the May 2019 elections.

 

“The President is still very popular and the candidates that he will endorse would have... you know... would benefit from the President’s popularity," she said.

 

Robredo said the opposition is hopeful that "we will be able to win a number of seats – in the Senate, at least.”

 

The  Liberal Party is fielding eight candidates for the senatorial race, including reelectionist Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and former presidential candidate Manuel Mar Roxas.

 

Roxas lost to Duterte in the May 2016 elections. 

 

Robredo, who is a lawyer, said that political skirmishes with President Rodrigo Duterte will not deter her work to help the Filipino people.

 

“We have been surviving pretty well. I am, I think, the most vilified of all national government officials,” Robredo said when asked about her working relationship with the President.

 

“But I have not allowed it to affect the work that I’m doing. Most of my days are focused on reaching the farthest peripheries of the country,” she said.

 

Since October 2016, Robredo said her office has been assisting poor communities in different parts of the country through the Angat Buhay project.

 

“Despite the political skirmishes, I think it has not affected what I’m doing,” Robredo said.

 

Duterte has repeatedly belittled Robredo’s capabilities to lead the country, calling her “incompetent” and “weak.”

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Photo from Business World | Crecencio I. Cruz

 

BORACAY, Malay, Aklan – It is 'all systems go' for the reopening of Boracay Island to tourists on Oct. 26.

 

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu made the announcement after a task force meeting in the island resort.

 

The Philippine National Police said it was ready to do its role to keep peace and order in the island. 

 

“All systems go. In fact on Oct. 25, we are conducting the capability demonstration wherein the chief PNP (Oscar Albayalde) will grace the occasion. And we have a series of activities that will be done in Boracay,” said Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Police Regional Office-6 director.

 

“We are well-prepared insofar as equipage, the number of personnel needed, the facilities especially the buildings dahil mayroon kaming mga substations na kinonstruct doon sa lugar (because we have substations that are being constructed in the area). We transferred the Malay Police Station (Headquarters) and many more. We will be having a press briefing on October 25 in the island,” he added.

 

Bulalacao also assured that the local police is ready to enforce ordinances on the island, especially those with punitive provisions.


Last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the dry run for Boracay Island's re-opening to the public.

 

Photographs of scattered cups and other trash in the beach surfaced after the dry run's opening.

 

"Some people might not still be aware about the need to dispose their trash properly," Francisco said.

 

RA 9003 stipulates that litterbugs face a fine of P300 to P1,000, or required to render community service ranging from one to 15 days.

 

Six months after it was closed for rehabilitation, more than 1,300 people visited the island at the start of the 10-day dry run of Boracay's reopening on Oct. 15.

 

However, photos of garbage dumped in areas within the island went viral on social media and enraged some netizens.

 

Earlier, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it will allow citizens' arrests against littering in the island.

 

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Benny Antiporda said this is to prevent the same scenario during the first day of the dry run when trash was found on the beach.

 

Antiporda said that aside from locals, they are also tapping businesses to help enforce the anti-littering ordinance of Boracay Island, known as the “Anti-Littering Ordinance of Malay Municipal No. 311”. Fines and imprisonment await violators, he warned.

 

Antiporda said members of the Compliant Association of Boracay (CAB), a group of hotels, resorts, and restaurants on the island, were given accreditation by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

 

“The CAB would deputize its members to become Boracay marshals,” he said, adding that each establishment is required to have pollution control officers.

 

CAB member establishments, he added, would also install trash bins, especially on the beachfront.

 

Secretary Cimatu earlier said environmental enforcers will be deployed to patrol Boracay’s beaches starting on reopening day.

 

The campaign against single-use plastic will also be strictly implemented on the island.

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CAMP CRAME, Quezon City – Total crime volume in the country decreased during the first six months of this year, according to the the Philippine National Police (PNP).

 

Citing data from the PNP's Unit Crime Periodic Reports (UCPER), Director General Oscar Albayalde said a total of 227,757 crime incidents were recorded from January to June this year, translating to a 17.39-percent decrease from 275,702 during the same period last year.

 

This is due to the decrease in the volume of index and non-index crimes, at 33.05 percent and 13.20 percent, respectively.

 

“Among index crimes, the top three most prevalent crimes are theft, physical injury and robbery. But despite theft and physical injury registering the top two most prevalent crimes nationwide, both crime categories went down by 36.90 percent and 33.80 percent, respectively,” Albayalde said.

 

Index crimes include murder, homicide and physical injury while examples of non-index crimes include violation of city ordinances and less serious criminal offenses.

 

“We noted that homicide incidents have been slightly reduced during the first half of 2018 after several months of consistently posting increased incidents among the eight focus crime categories,” Albayalde said.

 

The focus crime categories, which posted a decline, include murder (29.54 percent); homicide (9.47 percent); physical injury (33.80 percent); rape (24.82 percent); robbery (34.40 percent); theft (36.90 percent); carnapping of motor vehicles (36.30 percent); and carnapping of motorcycles (26.61 percent).

 

“The significant 17.39 percent drop in crime incidents during the January-June period, and onwards until the end of September, is expected become the trend for the remaining months of the year when petty crimes are traditionally believed to peak in the holiday season. But contrary to this perception of a spike in crime during the “ber” months, we see a steady decline in all crime categories,” Albayalde stressed.

 

The PNP chief, however, stressed it is likely that violent crimes may spike leading to the election period in January next year. 

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MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Senator Antonio Trillanes of being in cahoots with the Liberal Party (LP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a plot to oust him from office by October.


President Duterte said the information was supplied by a foreign power, which he did not want to name to protect its identity.

"Trillanes has been sleeping with the enemy (the CPP)," Duterte said in a press briefing during his arrival last week at the Davao International Airport from his state visits in Israel and Jordan. On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Duterte repeated the same accusation on national television conversation with Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.


Duterte said the alliance plans to launch the ouster plot into high gear in October — the period for filing of the certificates of candidacy for the 2019 midterm elections.


The President, however, said he is not perturbed by any ouster plot, saying: "I am ready to step down anytime."


Duterte said even the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) need not intervene if its officials want to join Trillanes and cohorts to overthrow the government.


"I will just invite them (Army officials) for coffee. If they want I can administer the oath (of office for) whoever wants the position. What will follow di ko na problema (What will follow will no longer be my problem)," he told reporters.


Duterte said he has evidence to back up the information, although disclosing this would be detrimental to the source.


If compelled by the court, however, Duterte said he would release the information.


"Watch out for these groups," Duterte warned.

 

 “They have combined and we have the evidence and we have the conversation provided by a foreign country sympathetic to us,” Duterte said a televised tête-à-tête with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo at the Malacañang Palace.

 

Duterte said the foreign country, which he did not identify, has agreed to his request to declassify the conversation and “show it to everyone”.

 

Nahihigop lahat eh. Alam nila ‘yan. (Everything can be monitored. They know it) So they were in constant communication. They are. It might be a loose conspiracy but they are into it,” Duterte said.

 

He said the connection “will be shown maybe any day now.”

 

Senator Trillanes, Liberal Party president Sen. Francis Pangilinan and CPP-NPA leader Jose Ma. Sison and other opposition leaders denied Duterte’s claims.

 

Sison called Duterte a "congenital liar and an incorrigible political swindler," who was bluffing when he claimed he had evidence that the CPP, Trillanes, and the Liberal Party were plotting to oust him.

 

"And I challenge him to present publicly what he claims as recorded conversations," said Sison in a social media post. "The experts will easily expose the fakery if he dares to present anything. This could be something like his invented foreign bank accounts of Trillanes."

 

The communist leader also denied that there had ever been any discussion between the CPP, Trillanes, and the Liberal Party on ousting Duterte.

 

The President, however, clarified that he will not stop the military and police if they believe he is no longer competent as president.

 

“I said my clear stand on the matter. If the armed forces think that I am not competent, that I am not qualified to be sitting here as President, I have discussed this matter with them in a command conference, bahala kayo (it’s up to you),” Duterte said.

 

“If you want another President, fine. I will not allow you to fight your own soldiers. So I would not allow my soldiers to kill another soldier or a policeman shooting another soldier. Eh kalokohan ‘yan (That’s ridiculous),” he added.

 

Duterte said he has fulfilled his promise to the military and police but if they think Trillanes can give them better. “I urge you to go to Trillanes,” he added.

 

He lambasted Trillanes for cursing all governments and committing ruckus when the latter spearheaded failed coup attempts against then president and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

 

Duterte said Trillanes did even dare to visit the poor soldiers who fought against terrorists during the five-month Marawi City siege last year.

 

“I’m giving you (soldiers) a fighting chance. And when they said I doubled the salary, I doubled it long before Marawi. It was a campaign promise and I complied. Pero kung tingin ninyo mga sundalo na mas mabuti si Trillanes pati si Aquino (But if you think Trillanes and also Aquino is better), please kindly go to them and stage whatever you want. Pakita sa buong Pilipinas na kaya ninyo (Show to the whole Philippines that you can),” he said.

 

“I am challenging the Magdalo to start now. Kung sigurado ninyo na sa inyo ang sundalo, fine (If you’re sure that the soldiers are with you, it’s fine),” he added.

 

Duterte also denied Trillanes’ accusation that he is a dictator and that he is out to silence the senator and other opposition members.

 

“I have yet to sign anything, ordering the arrest and silencing of anybody in the government, especially the critics. The fact that they are doing it every day, it goes to show that I’m giving them the time of their lives to just talk and talk. Wala naman (nothing). It’s an invented phrase, that silencing,” Duterte said.

 

The President said Senator Leila de Lima, an opposition lawmaker, is jailed because she has pending case, referring to her illegal drug case.

 

Duterte maintained that the New People’s Army is a terrorist group.

 

“But everyday throughout the country, they are killing barangay (village) captains, those sympathetic with government, even soldiers. Those are violations of… they are terrorists,” Duterte said.

 

Sison, as a terrorist, should face trial, he said.

 

“As a terrorist, I do not see any leeway or enough elbow room for him to move around,” he added. 


Duterte said he was also not keen on checking the loyalty of military officials, although he noted that Trillanes hails from the military.


“At the beginning of my term as President, I’ve had several discussions and far and in between the months that followed, I’ve always stressed to the uniformed people of our government that they should not nurture in me or in anybody else in my Cabinet and government, loyalties,” he said.


He recalled telling the military officials: “You should focus your loyalty to the flag of the Philippines and the Constitution. I do not need loyalties.” 


He pointed out that he was elected as President and intends to serve the people.

“Well, ako magtrabaho lang. Kung ayaw ng Pilipino eh ‘di talagang bababa ako. Walang problema ‘yan (Well, I will just work. If the Filipinos do not want me then I will step down. There is no problem,” he said.


“I'm old. I am ready to step down anytime. Short of working it out for the last remaining years of my term,” Duterte added. 

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