Philippines Today

Switch to desktop

Latest News

By ALFRED GABOT

 

 

IN MOSCOW. DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano joins President Rodrigo Duterte as he holds bilateral talks in Moscow with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

 

PASAY CITY (PhilAmPress)  Sen. Alan Peter Schramm Cayetano has taken over as secretary of foreign affairs following the whirlwind approval of his apppointment by the Commission on Appointments (CA).

 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the CA foreign affairs committee,  said that Cayetano was confirmed by the CA by acclamation being a seating Senator and member of the CA. 

 

Cayetano, 47, a lawyer, was educated at Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines and was also a former congressman representing Taguig City. He is a son of the late Senator Renato Cayetano of San Carlos City, Pangasinan and Pateros, a topnotch lawyer, Assemblyman and presidential legal counsel during his time, and Sandra Schramm Cayetano, a German-American former school teacher from Michigan where his father took up his Master of Laws, Master of Public Administration and  Doctor of Laws.

 

Cayetano received the Department of Foreign Affairs’ flag from the Acting Secretary and Undersecretary for Policy Enrique A. Manalo at the Office of the Secretary Conference Room on May 19, 2017. 

 

Secretary Cayetano was warmly received by the members of the Philippine Foreign Service following his  visit to the DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs.

 

On May 22,  Cayetano addressed for the first time the members of the Philippine Foreign Service as the country’s top diplomat during the  flag ceremony at the DFA Building in Pasay City.

 

In his speech, Secretary Cayetano revealed his impressions of the Foreign Service, his plans for the Department, and his expectations from the DFA workforce.

 

“We are here in the Department of Foreign Affairs to build relationships. We are to be the bridge, and we are here to build a nation,” Secretary Cayetano said as he defined the DFA’s mission.

 

He recalled his previous engagements with various DFA employees when he visited several Philippine Foreign Service Posts as a Senator.

 

“All around the world, kilala ang DFA sa pagiging professional and I congratulate you for that. It has always been a pleasure to meet our DFA officers and employees abroad because they are the most professional, they’re the mostmalambing, they’re the most caring, and they will work for you in the evening, Saturday, Sunday, etc. And they will make sure that you are well taken care of.”

 

He also highlighted the role of the DFA as protector of Filipinos overseas, not just in taking good care of their welfare, but also that of their convenience and comfort.

 

The Secretary also reminded of the role of every DFA employee as the face of the public. “Tayo po ang mukha ng Pilipinas,” he said reminding the corps how crucial their role is in government and urged everyone to represent the country well.

 

The Secretary concluded his remark by reminding the DFA officers and staff to put the values and interests of the Filipino at heart in all of their endeavors at work and to help him accomplish the task the president has given him.

 

Secretary Cayetano, in a press briefing immediately after the flag ceremony, also tackled an array of issues on the Department’s consular services, Philippine relations, and others.

 

Cayetano declared that he plans an "objective-based" approach in resolving the territorial disputes of the Philippines with China and neighbors and defending the country's claims.


Cayetano also vowed to avoid "microphone diplomacy", which he described as the continual issuing of public statements instead of privately negotiating the issues with the parties. (Alfred Gabot/PhilAmPress)

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

By ALFRED GABOT

 

 

US-PHL BALIKATAN EXERCISES. Officials of the Philippines and the United States opened the yearly Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) military exercises early May. Shown at the opening ceremonies are (from left) Lt. Gen.l Oscar T. Lactao, U.S. Ambassador Sung Y. Kim, Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ariel Y. Abadilla, Armed Forces chief of staff General Eduardo M. Año, and Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson.

 

MANILA/WASHINGTON (PhilAmPress) — The United States condemned the terrorists in Marawi City as it expressed support to the Philippines' counter-terrorism efforts, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

 

In a statement issued in Washington on May 25, Spicer said: "The United States condemns the recent violence perpetrated by an ISIS-linked terrorist group in the southern Philippines."

 

"These cowardly terrorists killed Philippine law enforcement officials and endangered the lives of innocent citizens," he added.

 

"The United States will continue to provide support and assistance to Philippine counterterrorism efforts," Spicer said. 

 

"The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries," he added.

 

 U.S. Ambassador to Manila Kim Sung also expressed support the government in it fight against terrorism.

 

"As a proud ally, the U.S. will continue to provide support for PH counterterrorism efforts," Ambassador Kim said in a Twitter post.

 

The U.S. ambassador also expressed sympathies for families affected by the attack.

 

"Concerned about the continued violence in Marawi. My condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims," he said in a separate Twitter post.

 

Earlier, the US Embassy in a post on its website stated: "We are aware of the reports regarding martial law in Mindanao and are following the situation.  The Embassy offers sincere condolences to friends and family of the police officer and soldiers who lost their lives in Marawi in the name of democracy."

 

The U.S. Embassy, at the same time, cautioned U.S. citizens on the an ongoing conflict between terrorist groups and Philippine Security Forces in Marawi City.. 

 

The U.S. Embassy has temporarily suspended Mission personnel travel to Mindanao pending a better understanding of the threat environment, it said.

 

" While the U.S. Embassy has no information that the events in Marawi City represent a direct threat to U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the Philippines, we encourage U.S. citizens to review personal security plans, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and remain vigilant at all times," the embassy added.

 

 "The U.S. Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the most recent Worldwide Caution, dated March 6, 2017, which indicates there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines.  Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, mass transportation systems–including airlines, and other public venues where large crowds gather. Crowded nightclubs, shopping malls, buses and popular restaurants have also been targets." the US Embassy warned.

 

"U.S. citizens should be mindful of the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines‎" the statement concluded. (Alfred Gabot/PhilAmPress)

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from Philippine Star)

 

MANILA (via PhilAmPress) — Filipino and American troops will launch a naval disaster drill off Casiguran, Aurora near the Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean during this year’s joint Balikatan military exercises which start on May 8.

 

Officials said the joint military exercises, the 33rd between the two countries, would now focus on humanitarian response drills.

 

Dubbed as Civil-Military Activities from the Sea (CMA-S), the joint naval disaster maneuver will be conducted off the coastal areas of the country’s eastern seaboard.

 

This year’s Balikatan will involve units of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

 

“Our ships with the US and the PCG will navigate from Subic Bay and they will be passing by the waters off Zambales, Cagayan Valley on their way to Casiguran, Aurora for launching of the sea-based disaster response scenario,” Balikatan spokesman for the Philippines Maj. Frank Sayson said.

 

Sayson said the joint disaster naval exercise along the Pacific coastline from Subic is expected to start on May 7 and be completed with a week.

Culminating event for the CMA-S drills will be the landing of relief items and supplies in the coastal area of Casiguran on May 15.

 

An announcement from the US Embassy in Manila stated that Philippine and U.S. forces will kick off Exercise Balikatan 33-2017 through community engagement activities in Panay, Leyte, and Samar.  

 

U.S. and Filipino service members will work together to renovate five schools and conduct community medical engagements with local residents in the opening days of the 12-day military training exercise.  Preliminary work on community infrastructure projects began mid-April.

 

Balikatan 33-2017 incorporates high value training events designed to enhance the capabilities of both AFP and U.S. armed forces.  The training focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in order to improve response effectiveness and speed in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety.

 

This year’s exercise will have AFP and U.S. forces partnering to improve their counterterrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks.  During Balikatan, U.S. and Philippine forces will conduct operational and counterterrorism training exercises in diverse areas of expertise, including live fire advanced marksmanship, counter improvised explosive devices (IED), maritime interdiction, and amphibious raids.

 

In this year’s Balikatan, the Philippines and the United States will continue to collaborate with regional partner nations: forces from Australia and Japan will participate in all major training events, and the AFP has invited military forces from several other nations to be part of the International Observers Program.

 

“I cannot tell you yet how many assets will be committed by the participants but definitely, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be fielding many for this activity,” Sayson said.

 

Casiguran is among the remotest towns in the eastern seaboard nearest to Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean. The town is often in the path of the powerful storms blowing in from the Pacific.

 

A separate joint quake disaster response drill in an urban setting will also be undertaken by combined Filipino and American troops at the headquarters of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

 

Foreign and local observers were invited to the event on May 12.

 

Sayson said the planners of this year’s Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) agreed that both Filipino and US forces must harness not only their fighting skills but also their disaster response capabilities.

 

Sayson said the joint quake disaster response drill is most important to Filipino troops as the Philippines is prone to earthquakes, being situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

 

The AFP has committed several of its engineering units to join the quake disaster response drill. 

 

President Duterte has ordered this year’s Balikatan to focus more on humanitarian and disaster response activities instead of the usual war games.

 

Balikatan is scheduled for launching on May 8 and will end on May 16.President Rodrigo Duterte to proceed with an exploration of the Benham Rise next week.

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from Facebook | @LeniRobredoPH)

 

MANILA — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo paid P8-million as first installment of the P15.44 million required by Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on the election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed against her.

 

Robredo paid the amount after the PET denied her petition to defer her payment of P15.44 million as deposit for her petition to dismiss the election protest. 

 

Robredo won the 2016 vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes.

 

Robredo said that the down payment came from her personal funds and loan from relatives of her late husband former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

 

”Ang P8 million po hirap na hirap tayo para ibigay, iyong P36 million po ng mga Marcos isang iglap nandiyan na agad. Pero tayo po kahit mahirap, kahit po maraming pagsubok ang pinagdadaanan, hindi naman po natin ipapayag na basta-basta nalang kunin sa atin ang boses ng taumbayan,” Robredo said.

 

”Alam po ninyo na ang laban na ito hindi lang po ito tungkol sa akin. Ang laban pong ito tungkol sa ating lahat. Tungkol po sa ating mga Pilipino na nangnanais na hintuin na ang dating kalakaran sa ating pamahalaan. Nagpapasalamat po kami na kahit napakahirap po ng laban, alam po natin kung gaano kahirap labanan ang mga Marcos, maraming pera, talagang ang pagnanais makabalik sa kapangyarihan nandiyan,” she added.

 

The second tranche of payment of P7.43 million is required to be given on July. 

 

Last March 21, the PET ordered Marcos to pay  P66,223,000 for the 132,446 precincts for his election protest against Robredo to proceed.

 

The tribunal earlier required Robredo to pay about half of the cash deposit of PHP8 million last April 14. But after rejecting her appeal on the order, she was given five days from receipt of the latest order to pay the amount. 

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

 

MANILA — The United States is the nation most trusted by Filipinos – and China the least, based on a Pulse Asia survey conducted from March 15 to 20.

 

The poll showed trust level for the US at 79 percent; Japan, 75 percent; Australia and Great Britain, 69 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

 

Only four in 10 have trust in Russia and China – at 42 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

 

President Duterte has established stronger relations with China and Russia while expressing dismay at the US for the latter’s critical stand on his war on drugs.

 

“That’s par for the course. After all these years we’ve been programmed to think that these are the enemies,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said referring to China and Russia, in reaction to the survey result.

 

“The President is breaking free as a disruptor so… it’s par for the course,” he added.

 

In the survey, 63 percent of respondents said they could not trust China and 56 percent voiced the same opinion of Russia.

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from Philippine Star)

 

MANILA — Retired policeman and Davao killings whistleblower Arthur B. Lascañas  left the country on April 8 for Singapore.

 

It was gathered Lascanas may have flown later to the United States where his family has been residing.

 

Bureau of Immigration Spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang noted that the Lascañas presented himself at the Immigration counter of the Clark International Airport in Pampanga at around 5:01 pm last Saturday.

 

"Sa Clark (Airport) siya dumaan. Tiger Airways flight 2703 to Singapore," she said.

 

The BI official explained that Lascañas was allowed to depart since there are no orders to prevent him from leaving the country.

 

"He has no derogatory record. Wala siya hold departure order, immigration look out bulletin that could have delayed or prevented his departure," she added.

 

Mangrobang said that Lascañas was with his family.

 

"(Accompanied by) family. In their ticket parang 4 sila kasama siya," she added.

 

The BI official said that the passenger has a returning ticket dated April 22.

 

"Sa ticket sa Clark din ang pabalik niya (Lascañas)," Mangrobang said.

 

Lascañas, along with Edgar Matobato, is a self-confessed member of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

 

Lascañas left the Philippines after he received threats that a lawsuit would be filed against him, and that people were looking for him as well.

 

In October 2016, Lascañas denied the existence of the Davao Death Squad and that he was the supposed "team leader" of the squad, as claimed by self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.

 

In February, however, he said that the DDS indeed exists and that they were paid by then-Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo R. Duterte up to P100,000 depending on their target.

 

Lascañas recanted his earlier claims following kidney surgery.

 

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from Facebook | @presidentnoy)

 

QUEZON CITY — Former President Benigno Aquino III has been ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman to reply to a motion asking that he be reinstated as a respondent in cases filed over the discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

 

The complainants, led by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, are asking the Ombudsman to reconsider its March 7 decision dropping the case against Aquino and approving charges of usurpation of legislative power only against former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for issuing National Budget Circular No. 541, which authorized the withdrawal of unobligated allotments of government agencies to implement the P72-billion DAP.

 

The controversial disbursement program, which critics had dubbed Aquino’s “presidential pork barrel,” was essentially declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court along with the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or congressional pork.

 

The Ombudsman said Abad had “unlawfully encroached” on Congress’ powers by modifying the provisions of savings of the 2012 General Appropriations Act.

 

It noted that Article 239 of the Revised Penal Code punishes the offense with of prision correccional, or six months, and temporary special disqualification.

 

The motion for reconsideration asks that Aquino be charged with graft and malversation.

 

The special panel of investigators of the Ombudsman has given all parties to the DAP cases 15 days from notice to file their comments.

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from Faceboook | @LeniRobredoPH)

 

QUEZON CITY — The net satisfaction ratings of the government's top officials, other than that of President Rodrigo Duterte's and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's, declined during the first quarter of the year, according to a Social Weather Stations survey.

 

Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo's net rating (percentage satisfied minus percentage dissatisfied) took the biggest dip, with 53 percent of respondents satisfied with Robredo, 27 percent dissatisfied, and 19% undecided.

 

This dropped the vice president's net satisfaction rating to a "moderate" +26, from the previous quarter's "good" +37.

 

The SWS classifies net satisfaction ratings of +70 and above as “excellent”, +50 to +69 as “very good”, +30 to +49 is “good”, +10 to +29 is “moderate”, +9 to -9 is “neutral”, -10 to -29 is “poor”, -30 to -49 is “bad”, -50 to -69 is “very bad”, and -70 and below is “execrable.”

 

An impeachment complaint has been filed against Robredo over her recorded video message last March, where she revealed alleged police abuses, including the "palit-ulo" scheme and warrantless searches, in its campaign against illegal drugs.

 

A group of lawyers supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte had also announced that they were working on an impeachment complaint against the vice president.

 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III also saw his rating drop to a "moderate" from the previous quarter's "good". His +30 rating during 2016's fourth quarter lost a point, giving him +29 rating during 2017's first quarter. 

 

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's rating lost two points from the previous quarter's +16. Nevertheless, her +14 rating during 2017's first quarter kept her in "moderate" territory.

 

In contrast, Speaker Alvarez's rating posted a gain in the first quarter, climbing to a "moderate" +12 from the previous quarter's “moderate” +10.

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from GMA News)

 

TAGBILARAN CITY — At least four government troops and five alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) rebels were killed in the early Tuesday encounter in Sitio Ibaya, Barangay Napo in Inabanga town, Bohol.

 

The government casualties comprised an Army lieutenant, two soldiers and a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), said Lt. Dodie Belloga, commander of the 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Bohol.

 

One soldier was also wounded in action, Belloga added.

 

Also, government troops recovered five bodies of armed men and confiscated four high-powered firearms, including three M-16 Armalite rifles and one M-4 rifle, he said.

 

Authorities in the island- province of Camiguin, a popular tourist destination in Northern Mindanao, heightened their security as government troops and members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group clashed in Bohol on Tuesday.

 

Reports said that five Abu Sayyaf bandits and four government troops were killed following the clash in Inabanga town.


Lt. Col. Belloga disclosed that the joint Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP operation was carried out after they received intelligence reports of the presence of unidentified armed men, numbering more or less 10, in Bohol.

 

The government troops immediately set out at the break of dawn Tuesday to track down the said armed men, and while on patrol, an encounter ensued around 6:45 a.m., where the government forces immediately lost four of its troopers during the first volley of shots, he said.

 

Hot pursuit operations ensued as the police and military continued to close in on the rebels, he added.

 

An air strike by government’s F260 planes at the encounter site was launched hours later as hundreds of civilians in the area were made to evacuate to safer ground.

 

Lt. Col. Belloga said he earlier told the mayor of Inabanga and the village officials that residents must be evacuated so they would not be caught in the crossfire or used as hostage or human shield by the armed group.

 

The clashes continued sporadically until Tuesday afternoon as military and police personnel were determined to not allow any of the suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits to leave the island.

 

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

(Photo from pcoo.gov.ph)

 

MYANMAR — President Rodrigo Duterte now wants to enhance relations with the United States under the Trump White House and is prepared to “give all” to Washington except military deals.

 

Speaking before the Filipino community in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Duterte said he was “okay” with Trump and was eyeing a better working relationship with his US counterpart.

 

“President Trump and I are on good terms. And I can assure him also of our friendship and cooperation.

 

There’s no problem with that,” the President said, noting that Trump gave his support to his administration in addressing the drug menace in the country, unlike Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

 

“For the previous president, I was evil. The crazy man was planning to jail me. This other one (Trump), he said, ‘You’re right,’” Duterte said.

 

Duterte said he was ready to “give all, whatever it is” under the Trump administration – except for military alliances.

 

“Short of, I said, the military alliances, I don’t like that. We can’t handle those,” he added.

 

The President stressed that the Philippines could not afford to get involved in conflicts, especially since its military is not as well-equipped as that of the US.

 

“We can’t do that. Why do we look for trouble? Why would I go there just to pick a fight… Let’s not look for a fight. Someday, but not now,” he added.

 

In a media interview in Myanmar, Duterte described Trump, a billionaire realtor and former reality TV star, as a “realist.”

 

“He is a guy who knows what is real, what is not, and he does not engage in theories. And even in the matter of human rights, he takes into account everything,” he said.

Published in Latest News
Written by
Read more... 0

Copyrighted for Philippines Today Tel: (650) 872-3200. Website developed by: SP3Media.com

Top Desktop version