23 August 2016

DILG set to charge 2 “NARCO-GENERALS” for drug trade involvement
Two of the five “narco-generals” earlier implicated by President Rodrigo Duterte in the illegal drug trade shall soon be formally charged in court. This was announced on Monday by Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno in a press briefing held in Malacanang.

Sueno revealed that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is ready to file charges against Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Joel Pagdilao and Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio, who were mentioned by the President as among the alleged protectors of drug syndicates.

According to Sueno, the DILG has already prepared a prima facie case against the two PNP officers, with ranks equivalent to military generals, which he will sign during the day.

Sueno explained it took the Department some time to gather evidence against Chief Superintendent Bernardo Diaz. “As for General Diaz, we are finalizing the evidence against him because he was assigned in Region 6, while Tinio and Pagdilao were assigned here in Metro Manila. But we are sure we have the goods against him, we have evidence against him, ” he told reporters.

As for Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot, the DILG has already lifted his supervision over the local police aside from cancelling his licenses to own guns and to have bodyguards.

However, since Loot is a newly-elected mayor, Sueno admitted that the DILG can neither come up yet with evidence linking him to the drug problem nor build administrative cases, so the DILG is prompted to conduct a lifestyle check instead to find out if his assets are proportionate to his income.

As for retired PNP Director Marcelo Garbo, Sueno said the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) will file cases against him because he is no longer in active duty and is not an elected official.

Regarding the other mayors mentioned by the President as involved in the illegal drug trade, the DILG chief said many of the local executives came to his office to deny their involvement.

“Although they denied their connection to the drug trade, the good thing is that everyone agreed to open themselves to investigations,“ Sueno said.

The local officials mentioned have already signed their waiver for the DILG to investigate them, so we are now in the process of investigating all these mayors,” he disclosed.

On the other hand, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte is back in his office, according to the DILG chief. But he spoke with PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa who said that there is no warrant of arrest yet issued against Espinosa although the CIDG has already filed cases of illegal possession of firearms and the possession of 11 kilos of shabu. “We are just waiting for the warrant to come out so we can arrest him,” Sueno said.

President Duterte not serious in leaving UN, says DFA Chief
President Rodrigo Duterte remains committed to the United Nations (UN), of which the Philippines is a founding member despite his disappointment over the UN’s supposed meddling in the affairs of the country.

The statement was made by Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. in a press statement during a press briefing held at Malacanang Palace, in connection with the reaction of PRRD on Sunday lambasting the UN, when the global body’s supposed rapporteurs attributed the rising death toll to the extrajudicial killings under this administration’s intensified war against illegal drugs.

President Duterte threatened during a dawn press conference on Sunday that the Philippines might just withdraw its UN membership while he criticized the body on what he perceived as irresponsible statements issued by its rapporteurs on summary killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.

Yasay claimed the President’s reaction was a mere “statement expressing profound disappointments and frustrations and it is not any statement that should indicate a threat to leave the United Nations.”

He said, “The President is understandably, extremely disappointed and frustrated with these actions of special rapporteurs in arbitrarily concluding that these drug-related killings were done by or at the instance of law enforcers.”

The foreign affairs chief made an assurance that the President remains committed to the United Nations, its objectives, and purposes. At the same time, he rallied support from members of the international community to join hands in addressing the global drug menace.

“We therefore call the global community to support us not simply to provide lip service in eradicating this urgent international problem towards uplifting the quality of life of the community and families and assure a bright future for their children,” he said.

Palace clarifies positions affected by PRRD directive on appointees, gives seven days to resign
In view of President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to rid the bureaucracy of corruption and to give him a free hand in achieving this objective, Malacanang has issued a memorandum directing all presidential appointees to tender their unqualified courtesy resignations within seven days.

The directive was contained in Memorandum Circular No. 4 issued on August 22 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

The circular specifically exempted the following positions: newly appointed Cabinet Secretaries; Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries in their respective departments, including presidential advisers or assistants with equivalent rank.

Also exempted from the directive are other officials from the Executive Department, including state universities and colleges, and Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte; career officials as defined by the Civil Service Laws, rules and regulations; judiciary; officials whose offices are created by virtue of the Philippine Constitution, for example Constitutional Commissions, Ombudsman, those whose appointments are currently being processed or who may be appointed by the President shortly after the effectivity of the Memorandum Circular.

Presidential appointees in the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall be dealt with separately, according to the memorandum.

In the same directive, the political appointees, including those in GOCCs, were ordered to file their courtesy resignations to the heads of the Department or Offices exercising supervision or control over them within the period given otherwise, they could file their resignation directly to the President or to the Office of the Executive Secretary.

During a press conference aired live at dawn on PTV 4 on Sunday, the President mentioned the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) as among those identified as corrupt government agencies. The President said the move is aimed to show that he is serious in his campaign to rid the government of corruption and to give the people a “clean government” that he promised. (LMG, LTA/PND)

NEDA on track with PRRD’s economic dev’t. plans
Economic adviser and Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the agency is on the right track and moving at a fast pace to attain its goals, during a briefing with the Malacañang Press Corps on the achievements of the agency in the first 50 days of the Duterte administration.

“In the first 50 days of this administration, I can say that we are on the right track and at a faster pace to make sure that we achieve our goals.” Pernia said.

NEDA’s plans is in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s goals to come up with economic programs and programs which will benefit and will be felt by the masses.

NEDA is carrying on with the economic programs from the previous administration for its sound fiscal and monetary policies. Using a previous administration’s plans as a foundation for succeeding plans, and sustainability of development initiatives are ensured despite the change of political administrations, Pernia said.

Accelerated infrastructure development has become a priority. The Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) has so far approved 10 projects with a total of P320 billion.

Included in these projects are rural development: farm irrigation and farm-to-market roads, school buildings in depressed areas, regional hospitals, airport modernization, flood management, the North-South railway line project and the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit project on EDSA.

NEDA through the Infrastructure Committee (Infracom) is prioritizing the completion of the Mindanao projects initial phase and will be implemented in 2017 once the NEDA board approves it within the year.

In Metro Manila, Infracom has specified measures to urgently address the traffic problem by implementing the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas link bridge, a common station for the MRT-3, LRT-1 and MRT-7 which is expected to divert at least 25 percent of the city traffic. To decongest ports, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will design the final configuration for the Batangas and Subic ports.

The Legislative Executive Development and Advisory Council (LEDAC) has been reactivated to address institutional, legal and policy issues to facilitate faster implementation of infrastructure projects.

Scheduled to convene in September or October of this year, LEDAC will tackle the following:

1. Creation of a “super body” for the water resources sector—proposed to be the Water Resources Department or Authority.
2. The creation of an independent economic and financial regulator for the water sector.
3. The National Transport Policy which should coordinate different transport projects to facilitate connectivity across the regions and provinces in a systematic manner.
4. Amendments to the Build Operate and Transfer Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) to effect faster transactions, avoid procurement and implementation problems for projects.
5. Amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or the EPIRA and amendments to the Water Code of the Philippines.

NEDA has submitted a draft executive order with its long-term vision as a guide in crafting the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). The PDP 2017-2022 takes into account the Socio-economic agenda of the Duterte Administration.

For foreign investments, NEDA has launched an online database system for the streamlining of processes and to speed up project approval.

NEDA is also revisiting policies in agricultural and rural development which have lagged behind amid consistent economic growth. NEDA also continues to monitor previous programs on rice and the effects of the El Nino to ensure there will be no shortage and decide when to import rice given the risks of a La Nina season.

Pernia also announced the launch of a NEDA innovation in planning—“Ambisyon Natin 2040”, the long-term vision project of the Philippines. Aside from government, international development partners, civil society and the private sector, NEDA is also engaging the youth through social media and other forms of new media. With 14.3 million users on Facebook alone, the goal of making “Ambisyon 2040” a basis for unity among Filipinos will be achieved. (AA/LTA/PND)