06 September 2016

PRRD embarks on first international trip as head of state
DAVAO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has embarked on his first overseas trip beginning with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Vientiane, Laos.

During his departure address, the President was optimistic on the prospect of ironing out regional and international issues that impact on peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region.

PRRD hopes that meeting with other ASEAN dialogue partners will result in better support for regional efforts to address terrorism and violent extremism, which hamper stability and economic progress.

He expects ASEAN leaders to discuss the way forward in realizing the ASEAN Vision 2025—a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN. The President also said he will call for a renewed cooperation for a drug-free ASEAN which is consistent with the Philippines’ cornerstone programs.

“The Summit will also be an excellent opportunity to underscore the importance of the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes. The interest of our people are at the heart of the ASEAN Community Building and we shall work with our neighbors in addressing transnational issues such as trafficking of persons, terrorism and violent extremism,” President Duterte said.

Improved access to education to create equal opportunities, especially for out-of-school-youths, and the promotion and protection of migrant workers’ rights are among the issues the President plans to discuss with ASEAN partners.

As a highlight of his first international engagement, President Duterte on behalf of the Philippines will take over the ASEAN chairmanship from Laos as the 10-member regional bloc marks its 50th anniversary in 2017.

After the ASEAN Summit, PRRD will proceed to Indonesia for a two-day working visit. The President will report to his countrymen the gains achieved upon his return to the Philippines onSept. 10. (AAA/JAG/PND)

Davaoenos remain unfazed by blast
DAVAO CITY — Just three days after the deadly Night Market blast, citizens flocked to Roxas Avenue on Monday to pay their respects, light candles, and say prayers for the casualties ofFriday night’s bombing.

Stalls and food carts have reopened as people walked unhurriedly, savored street food, and hunted for bargains at the local “ukay-ukay” while Task Force Davao personnel, police, and barangay tanods patrolled the famous strip.

Mang Vic, who runs a food cart, narrates how lucky he was on the fateful night. He was no more than 10 meters away when the explosive went off. “I was just so lucky to have walked away when I did. Not more than a minute when I left the massage area did I hear a loud explosion and saw body parts fly off in all directions,” he recounted.

“I’ve seen this kind of terrorism before. We Davaoenos have been through a lot over the years and we will bounce back,” he added. Mang Vic admits he was scared to reopen his business at first, but he remains hopeful that people will come back.

Local broadcaster Marilyn said the Night Market is one of her favorite places in the city and whenever she has guests from Manila or neighboring provinces, she would always take them to Roxas Avenue. She was back at the shoppers’ mecca with family and friends while being interviewed.

“Davao has seen bad times, but just like we did over the years, we’ve always been undeterred. I admit I do not agree with some of the President’s policies but I believe he is a strong leader and he gets results done. I don’t believe he is to blame for what happened. His pronouncement that Davao City is a safe place is true. We are really safe from petty criminals. You can walk the streets even at night without fear of being held up or any similar misdeed. What happened was really an act of terrorism which is really difficult to prevent,” Marilyn said.

For young people like Vince and Jai, third year Architecture students from Ateneo de Davao University, the Night Market is still their venue of choice to unwind after a long day at school. Both students grew up knowing Rodrigo Duterte when he was still the mayor of the city.

Vince and Jai’s confidence in President Duterte’s leadership remain high, now that he’s the Commander-in-Chief of the Philippines. “This was something we really could not have prevented. What happened was really an insult to our leader. Young people here in Davao do not have to worry about the same street crime compared to major cities like Metro Manila. We still believe we are safe and there is nowhere else we would rather be,” Vince said.

It was surprisingly busy on a Monday night. People were smiling and the mood was indeed high-spirited. Davao may have been seriously hurt by the Night Market blast but the faces in the crowd show strength and courage.

Checkpoints remain in key areas but are less in number now. Police and military personnel maintain a high visibility within the city. The blast may have taken lives but it will not take away Davao City’s spirit and resilience. (AAA/JAG/PND)

PRRD promises OFWs in Laos and Thailand of a better country
VENTIANNE, Laos– “I assure you pag uwi niyo, iba na ang sistema doon [Philippines].”

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in a talk before the Overseas Filipino Workers community here and some from Thailand here on Monday assured the modern day heroes of the country that he is doing his best to make the country better as he mentioned of the government’s efforts to rid the Philippines of the illegal drug problem. He also briefed them on the effort to cleanse the government of corruption. He assured them the country is run by members of the cabinet who are good in their respective fields and have integrity as persons. The Duterte administration and the entire team, he said are helping take care of the country for the Filipinos.

“Give me time and I will fix the country,” as he promised to run a government free of corrupt officials and to rid the country of corruption.

President Duterte told the Filipino community, who contribute a large chunk to the country’s gross domestic product that the administration has set up hotline 8888 where they can send information to the President about their condition, the ordinary people’s link to him.

“The hotline is 24 hours,” with information brought to the hotline reaching the President.

President Duterte told the OFWs that the election result meant much, a reflection of the Filipinos’ call for a government that will look at the welfare of everybody, treating everybody with just and fairness and addressing the safety and security in the country.

The meeting with the OFWs is the second, after President Duterte met repatriates from Middle East at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the week.

During his talk, he called the OFWs “heroes” as he said “I am happy to see all of you in good health.” (LTA/PND)

Palace declares Sept. 12 a regular holiday in observance of Eid’l Adha
Malacanan has declared Monday, Sept. 12, as a regular holiday throughout the Philippines to celebrate Eid’L Adha or “Feast of Sacrifice” in solidarity with the country’s Muslim community.

This announcement was made under Proclamation No. 56 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Through Republic Act No. 9849, Eid’l Adha is recognized as one of the greatest festivals of Islam and shall be celebrated as a regular holiday nationwide.

The declaration of Sept. 12 as a national holiday is in line with the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos that the observance of Eid’l Adha be made on that day.

“Now therefore, I , Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines by virtue of the powers vested in my by law, do hereby declare Monday, September 12, 2016, as regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice),” the President stated.

Proclamation No. 56 was signed by PRRD last Sept. 5 and made public by Executive Secretary Medialdea on Monday morning. (LMG/JAG/PND)

Laging Handa PH issues advisory on bombing awareness
The official government communications portal for crises, typhoons, disasters, and calamities — Laging Handa PH – has issued an advisory to promote awareness among Filipinos on bombing situations in the wake of the Davao Night Market blast.

Through social media outlets Facebook and Twitter, Laging Handa PH advised the public to carry out the following steps during a bombing event:
• Leave the area immediately.
• Avoid crowds; crowds of people may be targeted for a second attack.
• Avoid unattended cars and trucks as they may contain explosives.
• Stay away from damaged buildings to avoid falling glass and bricks. Move at least 10 blocks or 200 yards away from damaged buildings.
• Follow directions from people in authority (police, fire, emergency services, or military personnel, or from school or workplace supervisors.
• Call 911 once you are in a safe area, but only if police, fire, or emergency services have not arrived.
• Help others who are hurt or need assistance to leave the area if you are able to. If you see someone who is seriously injured, seek help. Don’t try to manage the situation alone.
• Share this advisory to help spread awareness.
According to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, 1Laging Handa PH is part of the Duterte administration’s milestones to improve the communications of change.

Secretary Andanar said, “Laging Handa will be the crisis communications center of the Philippines. We aim to consolidate all updates from all agencies in one page, including all government efforts to manage the situations.”

Be prepared and updated by accessing #LagingHandaPH on Facebook and @LagingHandaPH on Twitter. (JAG/PND)

Malacanan releases Presidential Proclamation No. 55
The Palace issued on Tuesday a copy of Proclamation No. 55, declaring a State of National Emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao.

Contained in a two-page statement dated Sept. 4, 2016 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through the office of Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, the proclamation stated that Mindanao has had a long and complex history of lawless violence perpetrated by private armies, local warlords, bandits, criminal syndicates, terrorist groups, and religious extremists.

In recent months, there has been a spate of violence and lawless acts across many parts of Mindanao, including abductions, hostage-taking and murder of innocent civilians, bombing of transmission facilities, highway robberies and extortions, attacks on military outposts, assassinations of media people, and mass jailbreaks.

Palace officials noted the valiant efforts of the police and the military to quell the armed lawlessness that have been met with stiff resistance.

This resulted in several casualties on the part of government forces, the most recent of which was the death of 15 soldiers during an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul, Sulu on Aug. 29.

Based on government intelligence reports, “there exist credible threats” of further terror attacks and other similar acts of violence by lawless elements in other parts of the country, including the metropolitan areas.

Under Section 18 of Article VII of the Constitution, the President as the Commander-in-Chief may call out the Armed Forces of the Philippines whenever it becomes necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence.

Under the same provision, PRRD has proclaimed the State of National Emergency on account of lawless violence. (LMG/JAG/PND)

President Duterte clarifies: Statement not an attack on Pres. Obama, maintains relationship with US
VIENTIANE, Laos — The Philippine government expressed deep regrets, deep regard and affinity for US President Barack Obama and the enduring partnership between both nations.

The government’s statement was read by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar before the members of the international media present at the National Convention Center here who are covering the three-day summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The statement said “ President Rodrigo Duterte today affirmed that he continues to value the alliance with United States noting that both our countries share common goals and their pursuit against illegal drugs, terrorists, crime and poverty. “

Andanar read, “He also thank President Obama for his firm support FOR the Philippines during the G20 where President Obama emphasized the importance for China to abide by its obligation under international law and underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment to the security of this treaty island.

How did the statement start
After President Duterte’s departure speech before he flew to Laos from Davao, he replied to a question from an international wire agency asking how he would respond to a question of President Obama on extrajudicial killings.

President Duterte’s reply was , “You know, the Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States. Alam mo, marami diyan, sa mga kolumnista, they look upon Obama and the United States as if we are the lap dogs of thei country. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines.

He added, “I am not beholden to anybody. Iyong mga kolumnista diyan na ‘wait until he meets,’ who is he? I am a President of the sovereign state, and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master, except the Filipino people. Nobody but nobody.”

All the President tried to relay was he is not answerable to another country for doing his job as President of the Philippines. His accountability is not on anybody except to the Filipinos. And even President Obama is not allowed to meddle into the affairs of the Philippines, and how he does his job to rid the country of the illegal drug crisis, to address terrorism and to cleanse the government of corruption.

Since his entry in government, the President had been firm in his stand that the internal affairs of the country should be handled solely by the Philippine government and does not want any foreign country to meddle.

Andanar further read that President Duterte explains that the press report that President Obama would lecture him on Extra Judicial Killings led to his strong statement which elicited negative perceptions.

“He regrets that his remarks to the press have caused much congroversy while asserting the intent to chart an independent foreign policy and promote closer ties with all nations, he expressed his deep regret, regard and affinity and for the enduring partnership between our nations. President Duterte looks forward to ironing out difference arising out of the national priorities, perceptions and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”

Duterte stressed that in securing the lives and liberty of our people, it is imperative that the fight against illegal drugs, terrorists, crimes and poverty must be on in order to preserve the principle and values upon which the Philippines’ democratic way of life is anchored.

Meeting reset
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella who read the personal statement of the President in relation to the issue said that “the meeting between the US and the Philippines was mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date.
“While the immediate cause was my strong comment to certain press questions, we regret that it has come across as a personal attack on President Obama.”

Abella read, “the primary intent was to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with other nations, especially the US with whom we have a long standing partnership.

The President though Abella said that he is looking forward to ironing out the differences and work on a mutually responsible ways to thresh out the problem. (LTA/PND)

Fil-Am writer: Duterte cussing not directed at Obama
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements at a press conference during his departure speech on Monday has been totally blown out of proportion by the local and international media.

In the United States, an independent group dissected an accurate transcript of President Duterte’s Q&A with Reuters correspondent Jerome Morales and explained what Duterte said point by point.

Fil-Am writer NIzza Gueco, admittedly not a Duterte fan, was concerned more about the implications of soured US-Philippine relations.

Gueco wrote in a column on the “Liberal America” website, “Lo and behold, my suspicions were true, the line that was cut from the video above wherein the President said “putangina” was not even directed to President Obama, it was directed to the reporter who, according to the President, ‘just threw questions and statements.'”

Lifting directly from a transcript and a copy of the video of the press conference, Gueco pointed out that President Duterte said, ““You know, the Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States. Alam mo marami dyan mga kolumnista (You know there are a lot of columnists) who look up to Obama and the United States as if we are the lapdogs of this country.”

Gueco explains, “In this statement, Duterte was clearly addressing his audience, Obama’s name was only mentioned as an example because somebody in the audience mentioned Obama. I am not a Duterte fan, but anybody listening to that line who understands the language will know that he is not degrading Obama, he is merely lifting his people up.”

The most misconstrued part of the statement reads as follows: “May mga kolumnista dyan na (There are columnists out there that write headlines such as) ‘Who is he? I am a President of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people. You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Putangina (son of a bitch) I will curse you in that forum.”

This clearly indicates that the President addressed the particular reporter who asked an offensive and out-of-line question despite PRRD’s plea that questions be limited to his ASEAN and working trips overseas. (AAA/JAG/PND)

PRRD joins ASEAN leaders at summit opening
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joined his fellow leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the opening ceremony of the 2016 ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, capital of Lao People’s Democratic Republic on Tuesday.

This is the first foreign trip of President Rodrigo Duterte since he assumed the highest office of the land.

It comes at a critical period just days after the bombing of his hometown Davao City last Friday night that killed 15 individuals and hurt at least 67 others. On Saturday, the President cancelled his working visit to Brunei following the deadly explosion .

During the summit’s opening rites, leaders of the 10 ASEAN Member-States watched a cultural presentation and video of the regional bloc’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration next year.

The event showcased the best of Southeast Asia, offering exquisite flavors of foods and diverse cultures amid a playground of adventure and unparalleled beauty.

At the end of the ceremony, the national leaders were invited on stage to press the symbolic ASEAN@50 logos. (LMG/JAG/PND)

Japan PM Shinzo Abe: Duterte a famous figure in Japan
VIENTIANE, LAOS—Even the Japanese Prime Minister was starstruck to meet the new Philippine President.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits here at the National Convention Center in Vientiane.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Abe expressed his gladness of meeting President Duterte in person for the first time.

Abe admitted that he was excited to meet Duterte, saying that the President is quite famous in Japan.

“Mr. President is quite a famous figure also in Japan and I’m very excited to see you in person,” Abe said upon shaking hands with Duterte.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abe conveyed Japan’s sympathies to the Philippines following the Davao night market blast last week, saying that Japan remains side by side with the Philippines.

“I would like to underscore that Japan firmly deplores the terror incident which took place in Davao the other day,” Abe said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their family members. And also, I would like to reiterate my feelings and sympathy for you,” he said.

Furthermore, Abe said Japan looks forward to further cooperation with the Philippines, as he noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

“Under our close partnership, I do look forward to further developing our cooperation in a wide range of areas together with you,” Abe said.

For his part, President Duterte said he is optimistic that the good bilateral relations between the two countries will continue under his term.

He also expressed the Philippines’ gratitude for Japan’s efforts to condole with the Philippines following the bombing incident in Davao City.

“I would like to thank the Japanese government for their efforts to commiserate with us in the bombing incident in Davao City. Thank you very much for your concern,” Duterte said.

The President meanwhile underscored that Japan, particularly its Japan International Cooperating Agency (JICA), remains to be the biggest source of official development assistance to the country.

“For so many years, JICA has been there. Japan has been kind enough to extend us all the assistance for further development in our country and as a matter of fact, our trade shows that we export more to Japan than before,” Duterte said.

“We saw to it that we are good partner also to our partner economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte expressed the country’s support to Japan on the matter of the security in the Korean Peninsula.

Accompanying the President were Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Philippine Ambassador to ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso.

Japan has been the Philippines’ top trading partner and the number one source of investments and bilateral official development assistance (ODA) since 2014. (MSN/LTA/PND)

PH, Vietnam share common stand on South China sea
Vientiene, Laos– President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung shares the same stand on the issue of the South China Sea, agreeing that there must be freedom of navigation there.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in an interview following the bilateral talks between the Philippines and Vietnam said “all are in agreement that there should be freedom of navigation,” a “maritime freedom.”

Both leaders, he said we’re in agreement that the area should be shared as it has always been used by everybody.

South China Sea serves as international trade path where billions of dollars worth of trading passes through.

The short meeting which lasted for about 25 minutes was more focused on getting to know each other and stressing of the positive relationship of the two countries.

Philippines and Vietnam shares a history of trade relations, particularly on rice, which was also discussed during the bilateral talks.

The bilateral talks between the two countries is one of the three scheduled meetings of President Duterte on the first day of the 28th ASEAN Summit from September 6 to 8.