Cayetano to lead PH defense of human rights record before UN

MANILA -- Senator Alan Peter Cayetano will lead the Philippine delegation that will present the country's human rights report before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
According to a report by Nimfa Ravelo on radio dzBB, Cayetano is expecting to defend the Philippines' human rights record, including casualties of the drug war that is the centerpiece of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, on May 8.
"We're always ready to defend our country, the president's intentions and what's happening in our country. But we're also honest that there are human rights violations but they're not state-sponsored. So we have to be careful to communicate to the world what's really happening but to properly assign blame," Cayetano told reporters.
The senator said he is expecting that questions issues such as death penalty and the criminal liability of minors will be raised by other countries.
"Hindi kami umilag to discuss the campaign against drugs and for the law enforcement and the rule of law. We have a portion doon but limited 'yung time we only have three hours kasi including two hours I think for questioning so pinipili pa namin ano 'yung eemphasize but ang aming tantsa, there will be a lot of questions from other countries on the campaign against drugs, death penalty and criminal liability of minor. 'Yung extrajudicial killings it will fall on campaign against drugs," Cayetano said.
He said Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Presidential Human Rights Committee Undersecretary Severo Catura would also be part of the delegation along with 20 other officials.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has criticized Duterte for "a lack of understanding of human rights institutions."
This will be the third periodic review of the United Nations regarding the Philippines' human rights record. Then-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima headed the government delegation during the second cycle of the review. De Lima, now a senator, is detained at the PNP Custodial Center on illegal drug charges.
Aside from the government delegation, a 10-man panel of human rights activists will also travel to the event next month in an effort to urge the UN to look into the reality of the country's human rights violations.
Philippine Universal Periodic Review convenor Fr. Rex Reyes Jr. earlier said that among the issues the panel will discuss at the UN Human Rights Council are the spate of killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war and the protection of human rights defenders.
The Aquino administration would also be under the review since the third cycle of the UPR covers the period from May 2012 to September 2016.
The Commission on Human Rights, for its part, will submit its own report in October, when the UNHRC is expected to release its final recommendation. — GMA News


United for the elderly

Daly City, CA – May is Older Americans Month, designated to raise awareness of the needs and contributions of people who are 60 years and older. Fifty-two years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Older Americans Act creating federal funds and administration of services for the elderly.  Reauthorized in 2011 and then in 2016, the law has survived administrations less inclined to provide social services to senior citizens.
The US Dept. of Health & Human Services established the Administration on Aging to advocate for and coordinate delivery of service to the constituency from the federal level.  The County Area Agency on Aging advocates and supports services for older adults at the local-most level.  
San Mateo County, home of the highest concentration of Filipinos in the continental United States established its Commission on Aging in 1969 to “maintain, enhance and improve the quality of life for older adults in San Mateo County through the promotion of independence and self sufficiency, mental and physical health, and social and community involvement.”
Currently four Filipino Americans sit on the 17-member body empaneled to advise the County Board of Supervisors on pertinent matters.  They also go out in their communities to inform about county resources and how best to gain access.
Beyond public services, private non-profits step up to close gaps to protect the elderly.  
All-volunteer ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment bridges resource providers with the community at twice yearly events free and open to the public and purely on donation.  Two of its members sit on the County Commission on Aging, testament to their passion to serve by representing their population.
Every spring, the non-profit all-volunteer team focuses on families in partnership with faith-based organizations.  This year, the Kumares & Kumpares, as they call themselves, are collaborating with Grace United Methodist Church in San Francisco to educate the congregation on ways of enhancing family dynamics.
“We look at this event as a service that should not be missed,” Rev. Alex Cambe, Grace United Methodist Church pastor shared his elation at hosting the 11th Our Family, Our Future 1-3:30 p.m.Saturday, May 13, at the church on 2540 Taraval Street in San Francisco.
“Being a faith community we set examples not just by saying out loud in the pulpit but more importantly by practicing it as followers of Christ,” Cambe explained.  “As the Holy Scripture teaches, it is requiring us to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). This is who we are as a United Methodist Church particularly here at Grace. We have not perfected yet but we are trying to be better. And practice makes it so. For such cause, our church will be more than happy to host this especially for future ‘ministry’ together.”
“We’re thrilled to present our dramatization of healthy interaction with community-based resource providers present to consult about their free programs and services at the beautiful and welcoming church led by Reverend Cambe,” said Jennifer Jimenez Wong, 2017 ALLICE president and a licensed marriage and family therapist.  
The team is dedicating this coming event to their departed pioneer Kumares Alice Bulos and Erlinda Galeon, who passed away last year.  They were committed to bring enlightenment and healing to couples and families, to their last days.
For many the Philippine Consulate General is an important lifeline.  To troubled families unfamiliar with area support systems, the consulate has been a bridge to service agencies. 
This is why the Consulate has been a founding sponsor of ALLICE, joined today by Seton Medical Center – Part of Verity Health System, Union Bank and Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center.
General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. will deliver the keynote address.  Founding partners retired KTVU Channel 2 News South Bay bureau chief Lloyd LaCuesta and KGO TV news reporter Frances Dinglasan will once again co-host the program.  
San Mateo Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino, GMA News Online,, The Filipino Channel, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Noah's Bagels and Chalet Ticino are this event’s donors.
Some 15 service providers led HICAP of San Mateo and HICAP of San Francisco will attend. Kaiser Permanente Filipino Association will provide free health screenings.  Refreshments will be served.  Raffle prizes will be drawn.
ALLICE is an all-volunteer nonprofit based in San Mateo County dedicated to promoting healthy interaction through education. Founded in 2003, members form a multidisciplinary team united in passion to prevent intimate and family violence.  Allen Capalla, Bettina Santos Yap, Cecile Gregorio Ascalon, Cherie Querol Moreno, Edna Murray, Elsa Agasid, Jei Africa, Jennifer Jimenez Wong, Joanne del Rosario, Jose Antonio, Leonard Oakes, Malou Aclan, Nan Santiago, Nellie Hizon, Ofie Albrecht, Paulita Lasola Malay, Sarah Jane Ilumin, Teresa Guingona Ferrer and Father Mark Reburiano each represent a specific population, from private to public entities, tech and legal offices, health and finance corporations, marketing and faith organizations.
For more information on the event, call Philippine Consulate General Grace United Methodist Church , or Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center .  See the psa elsewhere in this issue or visit


Challenges loom large for growing elderly FilAm population

BY Neil Gonzales,
Chief Correspondent, Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO -- Betty de Guzman takes her ailments in stride.
The gracefully dressed, pixie-haired 78-year-old has been a breast-cancer survivor the past 16 years. “When I got diagnosed, I said so be it,” she said. “But I’m thankful to
God for saving my life.”
She has also been battling diabetes. “I control my food and take my medicine,” she said while hanging out with friends at the Pilipino Senior Resource Center in San Francisco. “I eat a small amount of rice and more protein, vegetables and
Health and other concerns pertaining to older Filipino Americans such as de Guzman are expected only to heighten as this population along with the number of other aging
minorities is projected to increase significantly in the decades to come.
However, today’s society is ill-equipped to handle this projected surge in the population of Filipino American seniors, let alone the overall number of elderly minorities.
There remains a lack of services addressing not just health but wellness, recreational, social and other needs particular to Filipino American elders.
“We have a lot more work to do to really help older Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) adults, who are the most vulnerable,” said Wesley Lum, president of the Seattle-based
advocacy group National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA). “A lot more readiness has to happen.”
That readiness becomes imperative as the number of Americans age 65 or older is projected to double to
nearly 84 million by 2050 from the 43 million in 2012, according to Steve Wallace, a director with the UCLA-based Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research, a national initiative to improve the health of older minorities.
Much of that overall geriatric growth is expected to burst out of Filipino and other minority communities. By 2050, according to Wallace, the number of Asian elders will
rise some fourfold from 1.6 percent to 6 percent of all older Americans while it will jump five times for elderly Latinos from 3.1 percent to 15.4 percent.
Filipinos already are the second largest Asian American population behind the Chinese. In 2010, Filipinos numbered 3.4 million while the Chinese 4 million, according to the US
Census Bureau.
Correspondingly, Filipino seniors in 2010 represented the second largest AAPI elder population behind their Chinese counterparts – 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively,
according to NAPCA.
Filipino elders accounted for 10 percent of the total population of that ethnic group, according to the Stanford University geriatrics report “Health and Health Care of Filipino American Older Adults” by Drs. VJ Periyakoil and Mark Dela Cruz in 2010.
Key health concerns
Among the key health issues facing elderly Filipinos in particular are diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health
in April found that non-obese Filipino Americans age 50 and over have a higher prevalence of diabetes than their Caucasian counterparts (7.6 percent vs. 4.3 percent). One in every 15 non-obese older Filipino Americans suffers from
diabetes, the study added.
Filipinos’ traditionally high-cholesterol, salty diet is a factor behind the likelihood for developing diabetes and hypertension, Periyakoil said.
“Organ meats such as tripe, pork blood, pork and chicken intestines, and poultry liver are well-liked,” Periyakoil’s report said. “The typical diet uses high-sodium condiments such as fish sauce (patis), shrimp paste (bagoong), soy sauce (toyo), anchovies and anchovy paste.”
Filipinos also enjoy pastries, rice cakes and other desserts high in concentrated sugar, the report said.
Filipino American women – including the elderly - have the second highest incidence and highest mortality rate for breast cancer compared to other Asian American groups while the men follow suit in regards to lung cancer, the report said.
Contributing to a rise in lung-cancer cases is the Filipino social norm for smoking, Periyakoil said.
“Increased prevalence of smoking among foreign-born Asians compared to their US-born Asian counterparts may partially explain increased rates of lung cancer,” added Heather
Chun, NAPCA’s director of technical assistance.
“Other risk factors that may explain increased rates of cancers, diabetes and hypertension” include obesity, the adoption of fatty American diets and physical inactivity, Chun
Cultural beliefs and behaviors can prove barriers to addressing these health concerns.
“Filipinos, especially those who migrated late in life (to the US), have the tendency to self-diagnose, self-medicate and seek alternative therapies,” Periyakoil’s report said. “This practice causes great concern to most health-care providers
since these older adults only seek medical care when their illness is already very serious or in an advanced stage, leading to missed opportunities for optimal treatment.”
Elderly Filipinos also tend to weigh how much they might become a “financial and emotional burden to the family” before considering professional help, the report said.
“Filipino American elders are very family-centered,” Periyakoil said. “They don’t want to be a burden to their children.”
At the same time, filial responsibility can come into play as well. Filipino culture values extended families and places great importance on grown children caring for their elderly parents at home. “Although acculturation (to American society) makes families more accepting of formal support, they are still reluctant and may be less likely to seek professional caregivers, respite, long-term services
and supports, and long-term care,” Chun said.
Another roadblock is the Filipino attitude of “bahala na,”
or leaving something to fate or God. “Completion rates of advanced health-care directives with Filipino older adults are low,” Chun said. “This is likely due to their fatalistic belief that illness is destined or inevitable, thus rendering advanced health-care directives pointless.”
In a similar vein, Filipinos’ deep sense of religion or spirituality can sway the elderly from taking advantage of medical treatment or long-term institutional care.
“In a small qualitative research study of elderly female Filipino immigrants in Vallejo, Calif., most of the participants believed that certain illnesses that cannot be treated by modern medicine can be treated through divine intercession,” Periyakoil’s report said.
Other hurdles to accessing formal care, health insurance and other services include a lack of mobility and limited English proficiency among many Filipino seniors – especially recently arrived immigrants, the report said.
To counter these health problems and barriers, experts agree that culturally and linguistically appropriate efforts encouraging nutritious eating and physical activity need to
be improved upon or increased.
Elderly Filipinos “need culturally sensitive support,” Periyakoil said. Such support addresses, for example, their need for a group approach in which they can talk with their family first before making decisions about their advanced-care planning.
Filipino American seniors also need more health screenings, transportation help in making doctor’s appointments and community-based services that involve their children,
she said.
In addition, they can benefit from more programs led by other seniors that allow them to socialize and network or participate in meaningful activities such as dancing and tai chi - which studies have shown can delay the onset of dementia, she said.
Another example of being culturally appropriate is offering healthy ethnic meals such as those featuring vegetables or fish in community-based senior nutrition programs, Lum
The Canadian Journal of Public Health study recommends “promoting the consumption of brown rice rather than white rice (as) a simple yet very promising intervention for the Filipino population.”
Research indicate that substituting a mere 50 grams of white rice with brown rice per day lowers the risk of diabetes by 16 percent, the study said.
Raising awareness of the link between lack of sleep and diabetes onset is a potential strategy of particular salience to Filipino Americans, the study added. That’s because a
third of Asian Americans sleep less than seven hours a night – a significantly higher proportion compared to Caucasians who report insufficient sleep.
On the linguistic side, Lum said, having a professional home-based caregiver who can speak to the elderly immigrant client in his or her native tongue helps provide the best
quality support. That can be especially helpful for elderly Filipino Americans who suffer from dementia and revert back to their younger years.
Besides improving or increasing services, collecting and analyzing data and other information about elderly Filipino Americans will become critical. “What we need to do next is to be able to provide data,” Lum said. “Data tells the story. It tells us what actually is needed” be it housing, health care, funding or other resource.
Efforts under way
Although much still needs to be done for the AAPI elder population, a number of programs and efforts have sprouted out over the years to tackle the growing challenges.
Established in 2006, the Pilipino Senior Resource Center in San Francisco offers an array of culturally accommodating services to elderly Filipino Americans. In partnership
with other groups, the center brings seniors such services as free blood-pressure screenings, breast-cancer support, educational classes and translation assistance.
“But it’s not just the seniors we serve but the whole family,” said Cecile Ascalon, the center’s executive director. That’s because in Filipino culture it’s important to consider the extended family.
The center also sees seniors who don’t have a family or live independently - giving them a place where they feel a sense of belonging, she said.
“We have movies, bingo and field trips,” she added. “Our seniors are always on the go, hyper and energetic.”
Francisco Viray, 92, enjoys the company at the center. “I go here to be happy and meet up with people I know,” he said during a free lunch program featuring chicken and salad.
The field trips and other activities offered by the center also augment his need for daily exercise. “My doctor told me to exercise and walk so I don’t weaken,” he said. “So every day, I go outside.”
Last year, NAPCA in conjunction with other organizations launched the nationwide program “Healthy Eating Healthy Aging” funded by a $484,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation.
This effort targeting the Filipino, Chinese and other AAPI elder communities came about after “we couldn’t find much healthy-eating education” in immigrant communities and their languages - especially with the older population, said Eun Jeong Lee, national director for NAPCA’s Senior Community Service Employment Program.
So the program has been holding workshops in immigrant languages such as Tagalog, Mandarin and Samoan in cities across the country, including San Francisco, Seattle and New
York, to encourage participants to bump up their vegetable and fruit consumption while reducing their salt intake.
The program also seeks to increase participants’ reading and understanding of nutrition labels on food products. “Seniors love the program because they enjoy being able to read the labels” and learning about nutrition, calories and fat, Lee said.
Steven Raga, who works on older-adult outreach for the senior-advocacy organization AARP in Washington, D.C., said he has been seeing a steady amount of programs being established over the years to address the Filipino American elder population.
There seems to be a groundswell of programs such as those addressing hypertension in areas with, not surprisingly, a large Filipino American community – including San Francisco, San Diego and New York, he said.
He noted that AARP offers resources aimed at elder Filipino Americans, including information on long-term health-care planning and caregiving.
“We really have to meet the elderly and Filipino American seniors where they are in the community or online,” Raga added. AARP is “always participating with Filipino organizations and businesses to let seniors know what our services are.”
As the number of elder Americans has increased, Periyakoil said, “awareness is becoming a little better” regarding geriatric issues.
“But have we done everything we can?” she asked rhetorically. “Absolutely not.”
This article was written with the support of a journalism fellowship from New America Media, the Gerontological Society of America and AARP.

ElderlyFilAm: Cecile Ascalon (center), executive director of the Pilipino Senior Resource Center in San Francisco, look over pictures on an iPhone following activities serving elderly Filipino Americans. The center provides an array of recreational, educational and health services for Filipino seniors. Photo
by Neil Gonzales.
ElderlyFilAm2: Elisa Benedicto (far left) leads a bingo game at the Pilipino Senior Resource Center in San Francisco. Bingo is just part of the many activities and programs that the center offers elderly Filipino Americans and their families. Photo by Neil Gonzales.


UN hopes Trump will preach human rights to Duterte

US President Donald Trump must convey to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte the deep sense of alarm about his apparent shirking of his duty to prosecute human rights violations, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Monday.
"So one hopes the message will be very clear and undiluted from the President of United States to the President of the Philippines," Zeid told a news briefing.
This, after White House defended Trump's decision to invite Duterte to Washington, saying his cooperation was needed to counter North Korea, even as the administration faced human rights criticism for its overture to Manila.

Trump invited Duterte to Washington Sunday, in what the White House said was a “very friendly” phone conversation with Duterte, who is accused by international human rights groups of supporting a campaign of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.
“There is nothing right now facing this country and facing the region that is a bigger threat than what’s happening in North Korea,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told ABC’s “This Week” during a weekend in which Trump sought to firm up support in Southeast Asia to help rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
Priebus insisted the outreach to Duterte “doesn't mean that human rights don't matter, but what it does mean is that the issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure we have our ducks in a row.”
The invitation for Duterte to visit the White House at an unspecified date appeared to be the latest example of the affinity Trump has shown for some foreign leaders with shaky human rights or autocratic reputations.
For instance, he expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign, hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House and has had warm words for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who Trump is pressing to do more to rein in its ally and neighbor North Korea.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay)


Ampatuan brothers charged over allegedly anomalous infra projects

MANILA, Philippines – Brothers Sajid Islam Ampatuan and Andal Ampatuan Jr., the primary suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, are facing another criminal case, this time, over the allegedly anomalous multimillion-peso infrastructure projects in Maguindanao province, during Sajid's term as governor.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan was a 483-page separate case information sheet involving charges of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, falsification of public documents under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the RPC.

Sajid was the primary accused in all the 161 cases. The ombudsman set his bail at P4 million.

Andal Jr., meanwhile, was named as Sajid's co-accused in eight counts of graft. The ombudsman set his bail at P240,000.

Andal Jr. is in detention for multiple murder charges over the Maguindanao Massacre, thus, posting bail now, seems futile.

Ghost projects, fuel supply

The first set of cases stemmed from the alleged falsification of several accomplishment reports to make it appear that eight infrastructure projects worth P23.363 million were accomplished in accordance with the approved plans and specifications “when in truth and in fact, there was no implementation of said project(s).”

The purported projects included repairs of various farm-to-market roads and common roads in the municipalities of Shariff Aguak, Rajah Buayan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Piang as well as the repair of the municipal hall in Shariff Aguak.

In connection with the supposed implementation of the repair work, the ombudsman said a total of P22.367 million in supply contracts for fuel and lubricants were awarded by the provincial government to a Shariff Aguak Petron Station owned by Andal Jr., allegedly without holding the required public bidding.

The ombudsman said that aside from the lack of bidding, the transactions were also covered by undated purchase orders and unnumbered disbursement vouchers.

Fake suppliers

Meanwhile, the second set of cases stemmed from the alleged anomalous disbursements of P72.256-million provincial funds for the supposed payments of construction and lumber materials purchased from four suppliers.

Sajid and the other respondents allegedly declared that the materials were purchased for the repair of various school buildings in the province.

The ombudsman, however, said that “no such purchases were made” and the purported suppliers were “fictitious and/or non-existent”. The ombudsman said the respondents instead “misappropriated the funds into themselves”.

The ombudsman said Sajid and the other then provincial officials conspired in falsifying 137 disbursement vouchers and other supporting documents to make it appear that the materials were purchased and delivered to the provincial government.

Named as Sajid's co-accused in all the 161 cases was former officer-in-charge provincial engineer Landap Guinaid.

The ombudsman, however, has yet to clarify, why Guinaid was still charge despite his death in July 2016 in an ambush at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak.

Meanwhile, former provincial administrator Norie Unas was named as Sajid's co-accused in 145 of the cases.

Unas was the star witness in the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the 2007 presidential elections. Arroyo is now representative for the 2nd District of Pampanga.

Other former provincial officials named as Sajid's co-accused in some of the cases were:

accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr.
treasurer Osmena Bandila
Bids and Awards Committee chairman Kasan Macapendeg
BAC member and provincial engineer Ali K. Abpi Al Haj
project engineers Yahiya Kandong
Pendi Abpet
Omar Camsa
Anthony Kasan
Akmad Salim
Jaypee Piang

'Mere allegations'

The anomalies were allegedly committed from February to September 2009, or a few months before the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

The massacre was allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan led by its patriarch, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr.

Ampatuan Sr. died in July 2015 while under hospital arrest due to liver cancer.

Sajid was granted bail by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in March 2015 due to supposed insufficiency of evidence of the prosecution.

Andal Jr. and his bothers Zaldy and Anwar remain detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

In a text message to reporters, Ampatuans' lawyer Gregorio Marquez said they have yet to read the voluminous charge sheets but maintained that “all those contracts or procurements passed through the regular process of procurement, bidding and audit”.

“The complaints are mere allegations and proving the same would be otherwise and must be proved beyond reasonable doubt,” Marquez said.


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Workers seek salary increase, end of 'endo' in Labor Day protests

MANILA - Thousands of Filipino workers on Monday marched to the streets as they marked Labor Day with protests in different parts of the country.
Labor groups in the metro gathered early morning in Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City, while some marched to España, Mendiola and Quiapo in Manila.

The groups are calling on the government to end contractualization and implement a P750 national minimum wage.
Urban poor group Kadamay whose members are among those who occupied unused government housing in Pandi, Bulacan also joined the protests.
Kadamay members brought an effigy of a vulture to symbolize foreign interventions in the Philippines.
orkers from the business process outsourcing also joined Labor Day protests in Makati.
Michael dela Concepcion of the BPO Employees Industry Network said they are calling on the government to help them in their problems with their employers.
The group said a lot of BPO companies are cutting costs, affecting employees' benefits.
Project-based and seasonal employment are also rampant in the BPO industry, said Dela Concepcion.

Meanwhile, the Associated Labor Union and Kilusang Mayo Uno in Cagayan de Oro also mounted their protest in Plaza Divisoria.
Labor groups have called on the government to implement a P168 increase in minimum national wage for Region 10.


De Lima hopes to join Senate discussions

Even while in detention, Senator Leila de Lima wants to actively participate in the deliberations on important measures and attend other official functions in the Senate even through remote or electronic means.
De Lima made the call a day before Congress resumes sessions on Tuesday after the Lenten recess.
“For more than two months since I was illegally jailed on sham charges, I have refused to allow political persecution and harassment I suffer under the hands of the present administration to prevent me from fulfilling my electoral mandate,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“I have work to do as a senator and I will continue to do so because I owe it to the more than 14 million Filipino people who voted me in office and represent them in the Senate. I hope I can participate in important debates in the Senate,” said the senator.
De Lima, who has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City over drug charges, said her legal team was studying legal options for her to be allowed to attend the Senate sessions.
She said she hoped to join her colleagues in deliberating on important measures, such as the proposed revival of the death penalty, lowering the criminal age responsibility, and the postponement of barangay elections, among others.
Even after her arrest and detention in February this year, the senator continued to file bills and resolutions. She also remains the chair of the Senate electoral reforms and people’s participation committee.
“I have authored and sponsored important measures I promised the Filipino electorate to shepherd in the Senate. I have an electoral mandate to fulfill and it is my right to attend and participate in the proceedings in the Senate,” De Lima said.
“Apart from my rights as a duly-elected senator, I have to invoke my rights as a political prisoner as provided and protected under Philippine laws and jurisprudence as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights,” she said.
She is facing charges for criminal offenses.
The former Justice Secretary cited some cases when detained senators here and abroad were permitted to attend to their legislative duties, including participation in Senate proceedings, pending the resolution of the charges levelled against them.

In the 1950s, she said, former Sen. Justiniano Montano was charged with the non-bailable offense of multiple murders but was allowed to post bail to perform his senatorial duties.
De Lima also pointed out that in 2008, the Senate under the leadership of then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel allowed then detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to participate in Senate proceedings through teleconferencing. CBB/rga

By: Maila Ager - Reporter /


Noninterference policy: Duterte tells West to stop meddling



President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday stressed the importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) time-honored tradition of noninterference in each other’s internal affairs to foster fruitful relations, calling on the regional bloc to value the supremacy of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

He also urged the country’s neighbors to be more forthright in pushing for the region’s interests on the international stage, as the Asean held its 30th summit and marked its 50th year.

Mr. Duterte, who has often bristled at comments and concerns from international groups and other countries about his bloody drug war, asked his regional neighbors to work together to fight the narcotics scourge and bring about a drug-free Asean.

But in an oblique swipe at Western governments which have lashed out at his tough anticrime policy, Mr. Duterte asked them not to meddle in the affairs of countries in the region even as his speech was couched in a formal, diplomatic tone.

He said ties could become stronger and more productive “if we learn to respect each other’s independence and treat each other as sovereign equals,” Mr. Duterte said. “Relations bear fruit when they are based on mutual respect and benefit.”

Mr. Duterte also cited the need for the 10-nation bloc to address security issues, including terrorism and piracy, but made no mention of touchy South China Sea territorial rifts, which China did not want to be highlighted in the daylong talks.

The long-simmering disputes, along with alarm over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and intensifying standoff with the United States, have taken attention away from the more benign topics of regional economic integration.

The summit is the first major international event Mr. Duterte has hosted since taking office 10 months ago.


Mr. Duterte again went back to his favorite topic, and warned that the drug problem threatens the gains of community-building and destroys lives, especially of the youth, he said.

“The illegal drug trade apparatus is massive. But it is not impregnable. With political will and cooperation, it can be dismantled, it can be destroyed before it destroys our societies,” he said.

In opening the summit, Mr. Duterte noted that the regional bloc was founded on the concepts of unity, solidarity and cooperation.

“The cornerstones form part of time-honored principles of international law: Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations and noninterference in the internal affairs of one another,” he added.

Asean’s relationship with its dialogue partners, which includes the United States and the European Union, could be stronger if they respected each other’s independence and treated each other as equals, he said.

“Our engagement with dialogue partners allowed us to set the table for meaningful discussions on maintaining peace and stability, the pursuit of development goals, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the promotion of our peoples’ welfare,” he said.

“Let me say again, relations bear fruit when they are based on mutual respect and benefit. Dialogue relations can be made more productive and constructive if the valued principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of Asean member-states is observed,” he added.

Law should reign supreme

Mr. Duterte also said the law must reign supreme in the region and disputes must be resolved peacefully. He did not directly mention conflicting claims of China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan over the South China Sea.

“Relations also remain solid if all stakeholders learn to respect and value the peaceful resolution of disputes. In an era where there can be much uncertainty, we must faithfully adhere to the supremacy of the law and rely on the primacy of rules as responsible members of the international community,” he said.

He made the call even after earlier nixing a proposal to bring up during the summit the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that had invalidated Beijing’s claim to nearly the whole of the South China Sea. The ruling, he had said, was a nonissue in the Asean and was just between China and the Philippines.

Security issues

He said yesterday that both traditional and nontraditional security issues hinder efforts to promote peace, stability,security and prosperity in our the region.

He also sought continued vigilance to address security threats, including piracy, armed robbery, terrorism and violent extremism.

“Eternal vigilance is the price that we must pay to keep our citizens safe. We can only achieve this through advancing cooperation at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels,” he said.

The Philippines’ priorities as it chairs the Asean this year include promoting the bloc as a model for regionalism and as a global player.

It must be more forceful in pushing for its interests, Mr. Duterte said.

“History will judge us on how we are able to help our people and our region become even better and stronger based on the values and heritage we hold dear. In this milestone year, the time is ripe—and indeed it is right—to make our decisions count. It is time for Asean to finally assert, with conviction, its position in the international arena,” he said.

Under the Philippine chairmanship, the Asean will continue to work toward becoming a “proactive, relevant and transformative” bloc, he said.

The other priorities of the group this year are building a people-oriented and people-centered Asean, maintaining a peaceful and stable region, cooperating in maritime security, advancing inclusive and innovative-led growth, and promoting the region’s resiliency.

Mr. Duterte said citizens of Asean members have the same aspirations, which is that their rights and welfare as a people are protected and promoted. They also want a stable source of livelihood, shelter, quality education, affordable healthcare, a peaceful and stable government and a dynamic economy.

The Asean must do all it can to provide these for them, he said.

Mr. Duterte kicked off the opening of the Asean summit after welcoming the bloc’s leaders and spouses at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Among the guests at the event were former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, United States Ambassador Sung Kim and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.

Following a cultural presentation, Mr. Duterte posed for the traditional family photo with the Asean leaders. —



Exhausted Duterte jokes: No more 'summit summit'

MANILA – Toward the end of perhaps one of his busiest days as head of state, President Rodrigo Duterte plodded up the steps to the stage, wiped his nose with the back of his hand, scratched his nape, stood on the rostrum and declared: no more summits.
The Philippine president faced the press Saturday night in a briefing to conclude the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, appearing exhausted over his debut hosting.
“Anak ka ng… Kung ganito lang ang summit, kanselado na ‘yung sa November (If summits are like this, then let’s just cancel the one in November),” Duterte said in jest, the top of his barong unbuttoned, his sleeves rolled up.
The Philippines is scheduled to again serve as the venue for the ASEAN Summit in November. And 72-year-old Duterte, the oldest to ever be elected Philippine president, is again due to play host.
“’Yung sa Foreign Affairs, Sir, ‘wag ka nang mag-summit summit dito (To the Foreign Affairs [Secretary], do not hold any more summits here),” joked Duterte, referring to acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
Throughout the day, Duterte had shown restraint of the playful ways he usually exhibits in public, as if keenly aware that he was in the company of other ASEAN leaders.
He stuck to prepared speeches, his words measured, in stark contrast to lengthy impromptu remarks in his public outings.
But after a full day restricted by protocol, Duterte let loose in meeting the press Saturday night, even joking that the media should have been invited to the gala dinner with ASEAN leaders and other dignitaries.
“Sabi nang ‘wag kayong mag-summit-summit kung wala kayong pera (I told you not to host summits if you don’t have a budget),” Duterte said, drawing chuckles from those in the room.
At one point, when an officer approached to remind him it was time for the gala dinner, Duterte said: “They (ASEAN leaders) can start dinner.”
He eventually obliged and excused himself from the media: “I do not want to…[but] somebody would need to eat now.”

But before leaving the stage, Duterte called on the women, saying the ladies would usually ask for photos with him in his press engagements.
“I am not trying to be a show-off, but I’ve noticed that after every conference, a lot of mostly women would want to have a picture with me. Women, come up and we’ll have the pictures,” said the President.
He took a few minutes taking selfies and group photos before heading to his dinner hosting.


Leni to graduates: Take leap of faith when necessary

TANAUAN CITY, Batangas - Vice President Leni Robredo visited Tanauan City on Saturday for the 13th commencement exercises of the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities.
In her speech, Robredo shared her experience before, during and after college.
Before she went to college, she said that she was very sure that she wanted to become a lawyer and follow the footsteps of her father who was a judge in their hometown.
But everything changed when she studied at the University of the Philippines (UP), taking up Economics during martial law.
Robredo said, "Before I went to UP, I shied away from all political discussions."
While in college, she said she realized the need to get involved due to the "abuses, plunder and worsening poverty" under the Marcos dictatorship.
"That's when I realized I needed to get involved and fight the oppressive regime," she said.
After the EDSA revolution overthrew the Marcos regime, Robredo said that was when she realized she could not go straight to law school as she had planned.
She said she wanted to "go straight to public service" to help Filipinos get a better life.
Although she was afraid of what his father might tell her, the Vice President said she took the leap of faith.
This is what she also asked from the new graduates: to take the leap of faith when necessary - but always remember that when facing such a phase of life, ask if it's right thing to do.
"Always ask yourself, 'Am I doing the right thing?' Ask yourself, 'How will my decision affect others?" she said.

Fay Virrey, ABS-CBN News

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