27 July 2016

DUTERTE: My presidency is a peace mission
Speaking before the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, President Rodrigo Duterte narrated how his father—also a soldier—retired in Mindanao seeking greener pastures. The President also explained why he declared a unilateral ceasefire with the New Peoples Army (NPA).

“It is not my decision alone. It is the decision of the cabinet. Of course, General (Secretary Hermogenes) Esperon and Secretary Delfin Lorenzana are automatically members of the cabinet,” Duterte said, referring to his National Security Adviser and Defense Secretary.

“I am a President that seeks peace with everyone. My job as President is not to look for trouble but to see to it that there are no conflicts in the Philippines.”

The President reiterated his vision of reconciliation for the country as the conflict in Mindanao has been ongoing since the early 1970s and the communist-led rebellion has been around for more than four decades. “I have to talk to the MI (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and to the MN (Moro National Liberation Front), to Nur (Misuari) and (Alhadj) Murad and they are ready to talk about peace. This has gone too far and for so long. There has been too many lives lost on both sides,” the President said.

The planned peace talks between the government, the MNLF, MILF, and the NPA should take place later within the year. “I have no other dream but to bring peace to my country, if possible. I plead peace with everybody. I do not want any single loss either on their side or the government if possible,” according to Duterte.

Although the President extends a hand of peace to the MNLF and the MILF, he also wants to be certain that neither group has any ties to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as weapons wielded by the ASG have been traced back to rogue members of both the MNLF and MILF, as the prospect of peace will not be possible. (PND)

PRRD: Malacañan open to complainants vs. graft and corruption
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said “the gates of Malacañan will be open” to those who have valid reasons to complain about graft and corruption under his administration.

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, the President also discussed plans to install the 8888 Help Line to address citizens’ concerns

In line with his campaign promise to eliminate red tape, PRRD has directed all agencies of the government to reduce to a maximum of three days the processing time in issuing permits and licenses in various government agencies.

The President’s order binds the executive branch, from the Office of the President down to the last barangay official. He stressed the need to streamline and re-engineer government efforts in development and security to ensure that resources of the government are spent wisely and the outcomes are felt on the ground.

To address citizens’ clamor for the timely issuance of Philippine passports, the government shall work towards the amendment of the 1996 Passport Law to lengthen the validity of the passports from five to 10 years, he added.

PRRD ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs to streamline the documentary requirements for passport applications and open additional Consular Offices in strategic locations to decongest Metro Manila sites and avoid long queues that have caused hardship and suffering to applicants.

“I am addressing all of the Cabinet members to make use of the computer. I do not want to see people lining up under the heat of the sun. I do not want people lining up under the rain,” he said.

As for driver’s licenses, their effectivity will be extended from the current three-year period to five years. To reduce queuing time at train ticketing stations, ticket outlets will be introduced in malls, stalls, and stores. (PND)

Duterte, Kerry affirm long-standing Ph-US relations
The Philippines and the United States affirmed their long-standing relations at Wednesday’s lunch meeting between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and US Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Hall of Malacanan Palace.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a briefing told the Malacanan Press Corps that PRRD and Kerry took note of the special relationship, with around four million Filipinos in America and at least 500,000 Americans in the Philippines.

Kerry is the highest Cabinet member of US President Barack Obama’s administration to visit President Duterte so far. He led a delegation of US State Department officials and a lone military officer, US Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, who serves as assistant chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Abella said “First, it was a courtesy call. It was a very interesting lunch because they shared common interests. They talked about motorcycles and hunting.”

He added that “they also discussed common concerns: terrorism, crime, drugs, religious fanaticism, and maritime security. They also mentioned a menu of solutions.”

The Palace official disclosed that the US has committed $32 million in training and services to the Philippines, mainly for law enforcement.

He said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was touched upon and “it was affirmed that whatever works for the Philippines will be what will work.”

According to Abella, climate change was also on the agenda, with Kerry being “helpful in defining certain issues about the Paris pact” and PRRD saying that “the Philippines will work out just as long as everything is fair.”

On the West Philippine Sea, the Malacanan spokesperson said, “There were no agreements regarding that except that the President did mention that whatever talks we will engage in will begin with the ruling, that will be the foundation, the ruling regarding the area.”

Abella said Kerry was listening very intently when President mentioned about how the administration is handling the war against crime and especially the narcotic leg.” (PND)