02 May 2017

President Duterte inspects Chinese warship docked in Davao City
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, May 1, 2017, visited China’s Navy flagship destroyer Changchun docked at Sasa Port in Davao City saying it would be the start of a greater cooperation with the Chinese military particularly against piracy.

Changchun is one of the three Chinese navy vessels that arrived in Davao City.

In an interview with reporters, the President described China’s warship as “very impressive” and comparable to a hotel.

“It’s clean and even the carpeting, it’s all carpeted inside and it’s like a hotel actually,” he said.

Asked by the members of the press if his visit will be the start of a series of cooperation with the Chinese military, he said, “Yes, part really of the confidence building and goodwill and to show that we are friends.”

He said he welcomed the Chinese navy vessels and he was the one who asked for the warships to come to the Philippines.

At the same time, the President said he agreed to a joint military exercises with China in Mindanao possibly in the Sulu Sea.

The President also discussed his phone call with United States President Donald Trump echoing the concern of other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) about the devastating effects of war in the Korean Peninsula.

“Sinabi ko lang na we are as concerned and I supposed that you have the persuasive power, you are showing it to him. There has to be a sense somewhere,” he said of his discussion with Trump.

He said the US could not scare North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with firepower and the greatest chance of getting some dialogue between America and North Korea would be through China.

The President also clarified that the Philippines is not distancing itself from the US but there was some rift before because of differing views between him, former US President Barack Obama and the US State Department.

But things have changed, he said, adding that he is already friends with the newly elected US President.

“There’s a new leadership. He wants to make friends and he says that we are friends. So why do you have to pick a fight?”, the President said.###PND

President Duterte leads Labor Day rites in Davao City
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte led the observance of the Labor Day here on Monday, May 1, underscoring his pro-worker stance and reiterating his commitment to advance workers’ interests.

Before speaking with the members of the labor sector, the President had a dialogue with trade union leaders and workers at the People’s Park.

The President raised the issue of contractualization noting his government is addressing it but he appealed to give his administration more time.

“They’re still in the process of doing it. But I said and I say now: I stand firm in my convictions to end endo. The Labor Code guarantees all workers on the rights to security of tenure,” he said in his speech.

“This has to be strictly enforced. Panahon lang. To this end, I will issue an executive order directing the strict implementation of existing provisions of laws against endo and labor-only contracting.”

At the same time, he said his government will hire more labor inspectors, adding inspectors cannot be inspecting around 1,000 establishments a day.

He further said that he ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to deputize trade unions to conduct inspections of all establishments in the spirit of tri-partism.

But he asked the labor unions who will act as inspectors to report the truth in the spirit of transparency and truthfulness.

Also during the Labor Day observance, he announced that he has decided to ratify International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 151.

“I will do the same for the Senate for its concurrence. May this serve as a symbol of government’s commitment to continuously uphold the aspiration of a corrupt-free civil service,” he said.

Like in his previous speeches, the President renewed his determination to fight graft and corruption in government as well as illegal drugs.

In fact, he said he has fired some government officials who committed misdeeds even though they were with him for a long time.

This year’s Labor Day observance has a theme “Matatag na Kabuhayan at Trabaho Tungo sa Progresibong Pagbabago.” ###PND

Palace cites upsurge in foreign tourists visiting PH
Malacañang welcomed the continuing influx of foreign tourists in the country after the Philippines’ hit a four-year high on foreign tourism arrivals.

“Foreign tourists chose to ignore the political noise and believe that it’s really more fun in the Philippines,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Abella noted that a total of 579,178 visitors were recorded in February or an increase of 27.81 percent over the past four years, adding that it is 5.36 percent higher than the same period last year.

Abella meanwhile assured foreign tourists that more improvements are to be expected in the country, noting the Duterte administration’s Build-Build-Build projects, which include tourism infrastructure such as airports, railways, and road networks.

“Millions of jobs will be generated in the transport and tourism sectors as we usher in the Golden Age of Infrastructure within the next five years. We therefore hope to make the tourism sector not only sustainable and competitive but also socially responsible to bring comfortable lives to all Filipinos,” Abella said.

Abella likewise lauded New York-based global debt watcher S&P Global Ratings’ stable outlook on the Philippines, saying that it resonates the satisfactory effects of the country’s policy in fiscal and debt metrics.

S&P expects the country’s Gross Domestic Product to grow annually by 4.9 percent or around $2,950 GDP per capita within the next four years.

“The stable outlook on the Philippine economy also shows that policies continue to provide a favorable environment for sustained growth,” he said, adding that the country’s “BBB” long-term credit rating reflects the country’s strong external position and adequate capacity to meet financial commitments.

In the same briefing, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Executive Director for ASEAN Affairs Zaldy Patron said the Philippines has successfully hosted the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit over the weekend, noting that the leaders had a fruitful discussion on important issues in ASEAN.

Patron said the ASEAN leaders noted the bloc’s improving cooperation with China.

“They looked forward to the completion of a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea by middle of this year, in order to facilitate the early conclusion of an effective COC,” Patron said.

“Whereas before, China and ASEAN Member States do not even want to start discussion on the framework of Code of Conduct. But under the Philippine chairmanship, we have seen a lot of movements in the discussion and China has already made an announcement that it’s also supportive of having a framework of the COC. So that is something that we would like to take advantage of. It’s a step forward to having a full and effective COC,” he added.

Patron meanwhile said the ASEAN leaders “expressed grave concern over recent developments in the Korean Peninsula.”

“They urged the DPRK to immediately comply fully with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Patron said.

The 30th ASEAN Summit also saw the signing by the Leaders of the ASEAN Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

The declaration recognizes the significance of the civil service as the backbone of good governance and a catalyst in building the ASEAN Community.###PND

Gov et al charged in Catanduanes newsman murder
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Tuesday, May 2, took the lead in filing charges of murder in connection with the slaying of journalist Larry Sy Que.

Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Executive Director of the PTFoMs accompanied Edralyn Pangilinan, common-law wife of Larry Que and radioman Marlon Suplig, the slain journalist’s closest friend, to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in filing the charges against Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, right hand man of Gov. Cua – Prince Lim Subion, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Vincent Tacorda, John Doe, and Richard Doe.

Charges of robbery and extortion were also filed against PO1 Tacorda, who is still on active duty, John Doe, and Richard Doe.

Ms. Pangilinan revealed PO1 Tacorda had demanded them to give ten million in exchange for evidence of Que’s murder adding that she had already given certain amounts of money in tranches to the suspect, in exchange for information leading to Que’s killer.

Ms. Pangilinan also revealed that Tacorda was among the policemen assigned to secure her family following the Task Force chief’s request for the local PNP to provide her and Que’s young children security cover while the case was being investigated.

“Nakonsensiya daw siya (Tacorda) nung makita ang mga anak ko na yumayakap pa sa kaniya. Mula noon, di na siya nag duty ulit aa amin,” she averred.

Egco said the murder of Que is among the more than 180 cases in PTFoMS’ inventory. He stressed that Tacorda has been “on our radar” since March 20, when the policeman first sent “surrender feelers.”

“Tutok na tutok din kami dito kasi ito yung kauna-unahan at sana huwag na madagdagan na media worker killing sa Duterte administration. Tomorrow, may report tayo kay Presidente, isasama na natin ito,” Usec. Egco, said.

Que’s death is the first verified media-related killing under the current administration.

“The case in itself is a high profile case, being the first, by far, verified media worker killing under the administration of President Duterte; second, it involves narco-politics, drugs. It also targets the issue of scalawags in law enforcement agencies, not only the PNP. And four, the case shows the President was right about the pervasiveness of the drug problem. Ganoon siya ka-significant,” the PTFoMS Executive Director added.

Since the death of Que, the Task Force has ordered the Philippine National Police – Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (PNP – DIDM) to monitor and investigate the case.

At present, the family of Larry Que is under the protection of the PNP. The PTFoMS will request that the family be placed under the Witness Protection Program.

Larry Que was a publisher and journalist for the Catanduanes News Now. Que was shot on December 19, 2016 in Barangay San Isidro, Virac Catanduanes and died the following day, two weeks after he had published an article linking government officials to a drug operation conducted in Virac, Catanduanes.

On its connection with the intensified campaign against illegal drugs, Usec. Egco replied, “Connected ito. Anti-drug advocate din kasi si Larry. In fact, ‘yung second edition ng dyaryo niya, may kopya na tayo, pero hindi niya nai-publish ‘yon. mas bombastic, mas malaman ‘yung second edition.”

The Presidential Task Force was created by virtue of Administrative Order No. 01 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last October 11, 2016 in order to protect the right to life, liberty and security of the media.

Co-chaired by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), PTFoMS is mandated to take immediate action in investigating new cases for the lawful prosecution of perpetrators. ### PCO-Content