Philippine News

Philippine News

Gloria Arroyo ousted as deputy speaker; 11 chairmen lose committees

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the deputy speaker for Central Luzon, and the committee chairpersons who voted against the death penalty bill have been removed from their posts.
In a surprise move on the last session day before Congress goes on recess, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas took the floor to move to declare as vacant Arroyo's post as deputy speaker and the chairmanships of the following:
· Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (People Participation)
· Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus (Poverty Alleviation)
· Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero (Basic Education)
· Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Civil Service)
· ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio (Public Information)
· AMIN Party-list Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (Muslim Affairs)

· Buhay Party-list Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. (Overseas Workers Affairs)
· Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate (Natural Resources)
· Batanes Rep. Dina Abad (government reorganization)
· Diwa Partylist Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Women and Gender Equality)
· Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (special committee on land use)
There were no objections and the motion was carried.
Fariñas then moved to replace Escudero as Basic Education committee chair, with Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI. The Sorsogon representative has been demoted to vice chairperson of the said committee.
Afterwards, the majority leader moved to adjourn the session.
These happened even after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that the anti-death penalty House leaders will be replaced when session resumes in May. – GMA News

After days of silence, Dela Rosa debunks Lascañas claim

MANILA – In a House hearing, national police chief Ronald dela Rosa broke his silence over one of the many allegations of self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman Arturo "Arthur" Lascañas, in particular former Davao City mayor President Rodrigo Duterte's supposed orders to have a suspect killed.
"I know him as a policeman from Davao. He was a member of the heinous crime division of the Davao City Police Office," said Dela Rosa during a House of Representatives briefing on the police's Project Double Barrel Reloaded, its campaign against illegal drugs, on Tuesday, March 14.
Dela Rosa had previously chosen to stay mum on Lascañas' claims, saying he would only answer the allegations before the Senate. He was invited to the March 6 hearing on Lascañas, but skipped it because of the relaunch of the PNP's campaign against illegal drugs.
Lascañas, a retired Davao policeman, is the latest whistle-blower to claim the existence of the notorious death squad.
In a turnaround of an earlier claim made under oath before the Senate, Lascañas said Duterte had ordered police who were supposed members of the death squad to kill suspects and even his political and personal enemies.

The former Davao cop had claimed that when Dela Rosa was city director of the Davao City Police Office, the group targeted the "most wanted criminal" of Davao del Sur, a certain Felicisimo Cunanan Jr alias "Sergeant Sisi." Lascañas claimed "Sergeant Sisi" was killed during the operation because he was armed and refused to raise his hands.
The suspect supposedly had two companions, one who surrendered and another who was unarmed.
Lascañas said they brought the two men back to the heinous crime office and claimed Duterte and Dela Rosa visited them close to midnight.
"[Duterte] cursed at the two, he got mad at them," recalled Lascañas during his March 6 appearance before the Senate.
The cop claimed that Duterte ordered them to kill the two, then left. He said when Dela Rosa returned after bringing Duterte to his car, the former Davao City police chief ordered them not to kill the two because "kawawa 'yan (they're pitiful)."
Dela Rosa supposedly told Lascañas to file a case against the armed companion and release the unarmed driver.
Dela Rosa denied the claim about Duterte on Tuesday.

What kill orders?
"'Yung sinabi niya do'n sa may gustong ipapapatay si Presidente doon sa opisina nila, nandoon ako sa opisina… sabi ko file-an 'nyo ng kaso iyan. Hindi ko po nakita si Presidente nandoon at nagbigay ng instructions na patayin. Hindi ko nakita si Presidente," said Dela Rosa, who insisted the meeting was only between himself and Lascañas.
(This claim that President Duterte was in their office, I was there. I told him to file a case. But I did not see the President there, giving instructions to kill. I did not see the President.)
Dela Rosa, however, did not give a blanket denial for all of Lascañas' claims, saying he could not comment on things he does not have personal knowledge of.
Lascañas, who is now under the protection of Duterte nemesis Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, earlier claimed the so-called Davao Death Squad was formed the first year Duterte was elected mayor. He said they initially targeted suspected criminals, until they eventually began targeting Duterte's personal and political enemies.
The Palace and Duterte have dismissed Lascañas' claims as lies. – Rappler.com

Del Rosario pushes for Manalo as permanent DFA chief

MANILA – Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday, March 14, pushed for the "permanent appointment" of seasoned ambassador Enrique Manalo as the Philippines' top diplomat.
In a statement, Del Rosario said of acting Foreign Secretary Manalo, "Having worked with the acting secretary for 5 years, it is my belief that it would be in the best interest of our country if he would be considered for permanent appointment."
Manalo was earlier viewed as a "transition man" because President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly eyed his running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) by May.
Duterte, however, said on Monday, March 13, that Cayetano should probably stay in the Senate where he is more needed.
In his statement, Del Rosario pointed out that Manalo "is a professional career diplomat with 38 years of training and experience in foreign affairs."
Del Rosario said that Manalo "commands the respect not only of his peers at DFA but also of his counterparts in the global diplomatic community."

Manalo, after all, was DFA undersecretary for policy during parts of the Arroyo, Aquino, and Duterte administrations. He was also once Philippine ambassador to the UK and Belgium, among other assignments.
Del Rosario also said on Tuesday: "Moreover, while we fully appreciate that our president is our chief architect of our foreign policy, a direct communication protocol between a career secretary of the DFA and the Palace, at all times, would be key and extremely helpful. This would enable our acting secretary to provide the best possible advice on the merits and ramifications of all considered options related to foreign policy."
Del Rosario had earlier criticized Manalo's predecessor, Perfecto Yasay Jr, whom the Commission on Appointments (CA) eventually rejected over citizenship issues.
Del Rosario, who served as DFA chief from February 2011 to March 2016, is best remembered for the historic case filed by the Philippines against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Del Rosario's immediate successor, former foreign secretary Jose Rene Almendras, said he also believes Manalo "is a very good choice" as secretary of foreign affairs (SFA).
"He has the training, experience, and appropriate perspective to be a very good SFA," Almendras said. – Rappler.com

Advice to Duterte: Don't micromanage PNP

MANILA – Did President Rodrigo Duterte “micromanage” the police when he intervened in the re-appointment of a cop who later led an operation that resulted in the death of a suspected drug lord?
According to a joint senate committee report on the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr., Duterte should “not be micromanaging the affairs of the government and should place his trust in the sound discretion of all his appointee, including [Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa]." The report was released on Monday, March 13, almost 4 months after Espinosa was killed inside his own jail cell.
Espinosa was killed on November 5, 2016, in what operatives from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 claim was an operation to serve a search warrant against the mayor and another inmate.
He allegedly had guns and illegal drugs inside prison. Cops claimed he shot at cops during the operation, which eventually resulted in his death.
But that version of the story has been disputed by PNP officials, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and on justice and human rights.
Former CIDG 8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos, his men, and some personnel of the local Maritime Group allegedly planned the killing of Marcos, mainly to rid all traces of their supposed ties to the illegal drugs network in Eastern Visayas.
Espinosa was among the first chief executives that Duterte accused of having ties to illegal drugs. His son, Kerwin, is an alleged drug lord.

Duterte's hand
But Duterte’s ties to the case became more complicated after it was revealed that Dela Rosa had ordered Marcos relieved prior to the jail incident, based on reports he was linked to drugs. The PNP chief’s plans, however, were thwarted when a “higher up” intervened.
After a few days of refusing to name the “higher up,” Duterte admitted that he stopped the relief of Marcos, supposedly because he was investigating the cop’s ties to illegal drugs.
“The Chief [of the PNP] should be given full authority and control on how he will manage the day-to-day affairs of the organization subject to the limitations set by law. He should be given a free hand to decide on how to run the PNP and his decisions should be recognized and respected and should be countermanded or reversed only by the Chief Executive in case of a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion of the part of the Chief, PNP,” read the Senate report, which was submitted and sponsored by Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former chief of the police force.

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