Employers buck Labor Code amendments

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Employers are strongly opposing provisions included in over two dozen House bills that seek to amend the provisions of the Labor Code on security of tenure and contractualization.


The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said yesterday there are currently 25 bills for deliberation before the House committee on labor and employment seeking to amend the provisions of the Labor Code on security of tenure and contractualization which have specific provisions that the group considers “objectionable.”

“The conduct of various forms of businesses invariably involves the exercise of management prerogative. Jurisprudence has reiterated time and again that the exercise of management prerogative is not subject to interference so long as it is done in good faith based on the exigencies of business and not intended to circumvent the legal rights of labor,” ECOP said.

“Contracting out (job contracting or outsourcing) as an exercise of management prerogative and business judgment is not only acknowledged in law and jurisprudence, but it is premised on two constitutional rights – right and freedom to contract and right to property,” it added.

ECOP said the provisions in some of the bills allowing only contractual arrangements which are “not usually necessary or desirable, or directly related to the usual business of the principal” would totally prohibit any form of contracting or outsourcing because what is being contracted out is the work or part of the work of the employer.

The group said the implication of such prescription to employers is that they can no longer contract out janitorial, security, messengerial and even higher forms of contracting and outsourcing involving business processes and manufacturing.

“The destructive impact on business, investment as well as the creation of wealth and jobs would be unimaginable,” it said.

ECOP likewise pointed out that a number of the bills prohibit fixed term employment “contrary to established jurisprudence.”

“Jurisprudence has reiterated time and again that the exercise of management prerogative is not subject to interference so long as it is done in good faith based on the exigencies of business and not intended to circumvent the legal rights of labor,” ECOP said.

“Prohibiting fixed period employment violates the freedom of contract of both parties who knowingly, willingly and without any moral pressure gave their consent to the execution of the contract guaranteed by the Constitution,” it added.

Employers have been at odds with workers on their position about contracting. Labor groups have called for the complete abolition of the practice of contracting in the country, while employers say there is a form of contracting that is legal under the law.



NABCOR, NLDC execs found administratively liable for ex-solon’s PDAF misuse

The Office of the Ombudsman has found several officials of the abolished National Agribusiness Corporation and National Livelihood Development Corporation administratively liable for the alleged anomalous use of P27.5 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza.

Found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service were Victor Roman Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Gondelina Amata, Chita Jalandoni, Emmanuel Sevidal, Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez, Sofia Cruz and Gregoria Buenaventura.

The Ombudsman ordered their dismissal from service and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. They were also slapped with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

In its 54-page decision, the Ombudsman said the respondents cannot claim their length of government service as justification for their act.

“[R]espondents’ dedication and outstanding service to the government should not be cited as a circumstance that deserves public gratitude considering that the level of service which is expected from every public servant is no less that exemplary service," the decision read.

"Public office is a public trust and public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” it added.

Plaza, along with the respondents, were charged with five counts each of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation before the Sandiganbayan.

According to Ombudsman investigation, Plaza from 2004 to 2010 channeled P27.5 million of his PDAF through Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka (MAMFI) and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI), two of the non-government organizations allegedly controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

However, the Ombudsman found that the projects which Plaza's PDAF were supposed to fund were non-existent, as the agricultural and livelihood kits and packages were not delivered to the intended beneficiaries.

The respondents were also accused of disbursing the public funds using fabricated disbursements, certificates of acceptance, progress, inspection and delivery reports.

“The funds in question could not have been transferred to these NGOs if not for [the respondents'] certifications, approvals, and signatures found in the corresponding DVs (disbursement vouchers) and checks,” the decision read.

Plaza was also alleged to have received at least P42.1 million in kickbacks from his PDAF-funded projects.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division currently handles the PDAF cases against Plaza and his co-respondents. — BM, GMA News


Aguirre urges Congress to convene on martial law

The justice secretary believes that if Congress convenes to affirm the President's martial law declaration, the Supreme Court won't have the last say on the issue.

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Monday, May 29, Congress must convene in order to solidify President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao, and keep it from reaching the Supreme Court (SC).

“I believe that Congress must meet in a joint session. Otherwise, they would not have the option whether to revoke or to affirm the martial law declaration, and this will allow the SC to have the last say on the issue,” Aguirre said in a news briefing. (READ: Opposition senators seek joint session on martial law)

Aguirre said he had communicated this to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

Aguirre said that if Congress backs Duterte's martial law, the High Court would be "almost powerless" to step in and say otherwise.

Aguirre's statement goes against Section 18 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which gives the SC the power to review the martial law declaration upon the filing of a petition by any Filipino citizen.

Lawyer and political analyst Tony La Viña said that "from a legal point of view," SC will have the last say.

In the same news briefing, Aguirre contradicted himself by saying that the SC could still review the martial law declaration, but that he is confident it has enough factual basis to pass judicial scrutiny.

Aguirre himself had said that if critics want to challenge martial law, they could go to the High Court.

“I believe that in view of the declaration of the President and the concurrence of Congress the only way that the SC could oppose this is when it shows that the act, that the President acted arbitrarily, which is very difficult to prove,” Aguirre said. (READ: Questions you need to ask about martial law in Mindanao)

Solicitor General Jose Calida, who will have the task to defend Duterte's martial law should it reach the High Court, earlier said that the declaration has sufficient basis.

There are two constitutional grounds to declare martial law: rebellion and invasion. Constitutionalist Christian Monsod said that the crisis in Marawi city does not constitute rebellion.

For Aguirre, the joint attack of terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf was a "prelude to eventually take over the entire island,“ which means that it satisfies the grounds to declare martial rule.

Aguirre also hit Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for what he said was a "premature" statement on martial law. Sereno delivered a speech on Friday before graduates of Ateneo de Manila University. She called on Filipinos to be vigilant and not allow Duterte's martial law to be a repeat of the abuses 

during the 10-year martial rule of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

“I’ve heard of it, but I believe that is premature, that should have not been said because an action or a petition before the SC could be raised before it,” Aguirre said.

Sereno also called out constitutional bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsman and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to do its jobs to make sure the martial law upholds the rights of the people.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales declined to comment so she will not be interpreted as having a pre-judgment on possible martial law related cases which may be filed before her office.

“That’s the reason why I don’t like to talk about martial law, because there could be cases brought before us, eh, I might be prejudging inadvertently whatever actions we might be taking,” Morales said on Monday after she attended the Office of the Ombudsman's launch of the Corrupt-Free Philippines Video Contest, an event at a hotel in Pasig City.

Morales also shrugged off Duterte's statement over the weekend that he will ignore the SC when it comes to martial law.

“He just said that. That’s a mere knee-jerk reaction to the Supreme Court,” Morales said.

On Monday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President will respect any SC ruling on the martial law, but included a caveat in his statement nonetheless.

"Of course he will respect [Supreme Court] but based on his own considerations being Commander-in-Chief," Abella said. – Lian Buan/Rappler.com


‘Duterte won’t bypass SC, Congress’

By: Christine O. Avendaño - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Malacañang said on Monday that President Duterte had no intention of bypassing the Supreme Court and Congress when he told soldiers during a visit in Jolo over the weekend that he would listen only to the police and the military in enforcing martial law in Mindanao.
Opposition senators, however, issued statements blasting the President and warned of a looming dictatorship.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte meant he would take the word more of “those who are truly aware of the situation”—the martial law enforcers.
“This is not meant to bypass the Supreme Court or the legislative [branch]. It simply means to say that those who have true and accurate reports … on which he will depend will be the military and the Philippine National Police,” Abella said at the first “Mindanao Hour” press conference called to update the public on the government offensive against terrorists in Marawi City.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III echoed Abella’s statement, saying the President “probably means the AFP and the PNP are the ones who would know what’s happening.”

In a text message, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said people should “get used to [Mr. Duterte’s] rhetoric by now” as he pointed out that the Chief Executive was, after all, a lawyer by profession and knew “he can’t ignore the Supreme Court and Congress in this regard.”
“The mere fact that he complied with the constitutional requirement of submitting to Congress the written report within 48 hours shows his respect and regard to the Constitution and established authorities,” Lacson said.
Impact on country
Agreeing that the President knew he could not ignore Congress or the high court, Sen. Grace Poe pointed out the tendency of Mr. Duterte to “speak depending on who he’s addressing, who his audience is.”
“I know the President still has to realize that whatever he utters, whether in a small, intimate gathering or a huge gathering, will have an impact on the country,” Poe told a cable news program on Monday.
But Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said it was clear from Day One that Mr. Duterte “had no respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions.”
“People should start waking up because he will keep on pushing the boundaries of his power for as long as no one is pushing back,” Trillanes said.
“No one is above the law, not even the President,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.
“We call on patriotic and sober Cabinet members, as well as the Armed Forces leadership, to assert themselves, to speak truth to the President, to caution and urge him not to violate the Constitution and his oath of office,” he added.
“We call for courage, for bearers of light to stand against the looming tide of darkness upon our land.”
Constitutional violation
“Is the President saying that he’s willing to violate the Constitution? He is on his way [to] becoming a dictator,” said Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.
“The question is, can we trust this President to be a martial law administrator given his penchant for violence, disregard for the rule of law and our Constitution? Can we trust this administration, which thrives on lies and alternative facts?” said Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said “the Filipino people should be warned that the President has long had the intention to impose martial law on the whole country.”
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, in an interview with reporters, played down Mr. Duterte’s reported threat.
Knee-jerk reaction
“That’s a mere knee-jerk reaction to the Supreme Court,” said Morales, a retired member of the high tribunal, whose nephew, Manases Carpio, is a son-of-law of Mr. Duterte.
“The President is a lawyer, he has advisers, he should know the limitations indicated in the Constitution,” she said.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is monitoring the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.
“There is the danger of abuse. Our concern is that no rights [should be] trampled upon,” CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz told the Inquirer.
In a joint statement over the weekend, the presidents of five Ateneo University campuses in the country urged Mr. Duterte to “act judiciously,” saying that the country had “more than a decade of reasons” to be wary of martial law. —WITH REPORTS FROM NIKKO DIZON, JOCELYN R. UY, VINCE F. NONATO AND NESTOR P. BURGOS JR


Explosions, gunfire mar first day of Ramadan

MARAWI — The deafening sound of exploding artillery shells and the occasional rapid fire from assault rifles drowned out  the Islamic call to prayer called Adhan on Saturday for the Fajr—the dawn prayer.


About an hour earlier, Aminola Mitmug had just had Suhur, or the predawn meal, for the Ramadan, which came five days after troops and police launched deadly fighting against a combined force of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf and Maute group fighters.

Some of the food he cooked for Suhur came from the relief pack—which consisted of canned goods and noodles—that the local government had given them a few days earlier.

What’s important, he said, was that he performed one of the main practices of Islam and that was to fast—whenever and wherever a Muslim could during Ramadan. In this case, it was inside a cramped evacuation camp inside the provincial capitol compound.

“On the first day of Ramadan, our main problems were water and electricity. But we need to sacrifice. As Muslims, we accept all the trials with patience and we don’t blame anyone for our situation today,” Mitmug told the Inquirer.

About a stone’s throw away from Mitmug’s tiny spot, Moshmerah Dipatuan, 44, cooked some of the food that her family managed to bring when they evacuated as the city came under heavy fire.

Dipatuan said it was a painful Ramadan because aside from lack of food, her family’s home had been torched by rampaging gunmen.

“Our house was burned by Maute men. Now I heard officials are planning to transfer us to another evacuation center in Iligan City,” she said.

“It’s so painful because we do not feel the spirit of Ramadan. The fasting month here was normally festive, particularly at night,” Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. said.

Adiong explained that Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims and not observing it properly was more than just disheartening. For the devout, it would be a disaster to miss sawm, or fasting.

It was during Ramadan when the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad happened, according to Islamic beliefs.

“We should be happy but how can you celebrate with the current situation?” Adiong said.

Despite the situation, Muslims displaced by the fighting here continued to perform their religious obligations no matter how difficult it had become, Sambu Datu Dirampatan said.

What’s important, he said, was that they were still alive and able to fast.

“We have to make sacrifices,” he said.

The military has deployed bombers and helicopters for what it called “surgical airstrikes” meant to dislodge the enemy from hiding, and for ground troops to recover parts of Marawi still under terrorist control.

Muslim soldiers, who would otherwise be granted a Ramadan break, were also under instructions to continue with the fight. —WITH DJ YAP IN MANILA



Drunk motorist thought to have died after falling asleep in SUV

MANILA -- Barangay watchmen Ermita, Manila thought a Chinese motorist died inside his car after he fell asleep and caused traffic congestion on San Marcelino Street.
According to a report by Mav Gonzales on "24 Oras" on Wednesday, May 24, the Chinese man was supposedly drunk and that he fell asleep.
"Nakita ko 'yung tao talagang... di ko alam kung wala ng pulso o ano... dahil nashock din ako, ayaw ng gumalaw eh. Hindi ko nga makausap eh dahil di namin magising eh, parang di gumagalaw eh. Amoy alak siya," said barangay ex-O Sonny Rapada.
The report said the barangay officials had called for police to respond to the incident as it already caused traffic in the area.
The report added that when the driver woke up, he seemed to be clueless of what happened.
When the cops came, they approached the man, asked for his license and told him about his violation.
The cops also assisted the Chinese national in going home.
Meanwhile, officials advised the public not to drive if they are under the influence of alcohol.
"Kung nakainom, dapat di na magmamaneho para di na maabutan 'yung disgrasya," Rapada said. — GMA News

NPA to intensify offensives amid Mindanao martial law

MANILA -- The Communist Party of the Philippines on Wednesday, May 24, called on its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), to conduct more offensives as their way of resisting the martial law declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The Party calls on the NPA to plan and carry out more tactical offensives across Mindanao and the entire archiepelago [sic]," the CPP said in a press statement.
"In the face of the Duterte regime’s martial law declaration in Mindanao, the necessity of waging revolutionary armed struggle becomes ever clearer," it added, as it also urged the NPA to accelerate its recruitment of new fighters.
Duterte put the entire Mindanao under martial law Tuesday night following the attacks of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group on Marawi City, resulting in clashes with the military and police that have killed five and wounded 31 other government troops.
The CPP denounced Duterte's declaration, and said waging an armed resistance is the "most effective way" of resisting martial law which it said it has proven during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
"As proven under Marcos, waging revolutionary armed resistance is the most effective way of resisting martial law, defending the people’s democratic rights and inspiring them to wage ever greater struggles," it said.
                                    "Intensify mass actions"
Meanwhile, the CPP also urged Filipinos to decry the 60-day martial rule and demand its immediate lifting.
"The CPP calls on the Filipino people to vigorously oppose Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao and demand its immediate lifting," it said.
"They must carry out and intensify protest mass actions nationwide, banner the demand to end martial law, assert civilian rule and respect for civil and political rights as well highlight the basic demands of the workers and peasants and other democratic sectors," the CPP added.
The CPP said Duterte's basis was made on the "narrow pretext" of the armed clashes "in the vain hope of justifying the martial law declaration."
The group also said Duterte only positioned himself as a military ruler and strongman when he vowed to be harsh against the Maute Group, which it claimed only emboldened the military in committing human rights abuses.  
"In doing so, Duterte has practically ordered the AFP soldiers to impose its rule and carry out more abuses with extreme impunity," it added.
The CPP also warned that Duterte may declare martial law in the whole country in his plight to fight criminality.
"If Duterte succeeds in securing congressional support for martial law in Mindanao, he will surely be emboldened to impose martial law on the entire country. He can easily come up with more pretexts such as 'fighting criminality' and so on," it said. -- GMA News

Monthly lechon feast in QC’s La Loma eyed

Monthly lechon feast in QC’s La Loma eyed
MANILA -- A monthly feast of lechon!
Quezon City Rep. Bingbong Crisologo said he is asking the tourism department of Quezon City's local government to study the possibility of holding a monthly Lechon Festival in La Loma district, the country's lechon capital.
Crisologo said a month lechon feast will entice tourists to regularly visit La Loma and promote it as the Philippines' lechon capital.
"We can close a portion of N.S Amoranto and hold a street party once a month. This would attract more visitors and further promote our district as the country’s Lechon Capital,” Crisologo said in a speech during the annual Lechon Festival in La Loma on Sunday, May 21.
The festival is now on its 10th year.
Pangarap ko dito na tulad sa France na isang beses sa isang buwan maglalagay tayo ng mga mesa ng mga restaurant dahil dadayuhin ito ng mga gustong tumikim ng lechon. At dahil doon gaganda ang ekonomiya dito sa La Loma, mas maraming turista mas maraming trabaho para sa mga tao,” Crisologo added.
A parade of lechon floats, a street party and lechon cooking competition were among the highlights of the festival.
The Quezon City government said there is a plan to redevelop La Loma to make it conducive to tourists.
Among the projects that will be implemented in the district is the construction of a sewerage treatment plant.
The city government is asking owners of lechon restaurants and other business establishments in the district to cooperate with the city's development projects for La Loma. — GMA News

Lascañas' DDS claims 'flooded with loopholes'

MANILA – The first counts, but the second, not so much.
The Senate committee that heard the claims of a former Davao City policeman he killed on the orders of then mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte said the fabled Davao Death Squad (DDS) did not exist. There was no proof either of “a state-sponsored policy to commit killings to eradicate illegal drugs in the country.”
In a report released on Monday, May 22, the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs also noted that retired policeman Arturo Lascañas was a “credible witness” the first time he testified before the Senate.
During that October 2016 appearance, he denied the existence of the death squad and refuted allegations by another alleged hitman-turned-whistleblower.
Lascañas would later recant that testimony and appear before the Senate in March 2017.
The second testimony, the committee noted, “is flooded with loopholes and uncertainty on material facts. Apart from the lack of corroborating evidence, his testimony was easily negated and destroyed by established facts, legal presumptions, and resolutions of government agencies concerned.”
The committee also pointed out that Lascañas was unable to present any other proof of his claims, aside from his actual confession.
The report was signed by committee chairman Panfilo Lacson, vice chairperson Gregorio Honasan II, and members Joseph Victor Ejercito, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Senator Nancy Binay, as well as ex-officio member Vicente Sotto III.
Senators Grace Poe and Ralph Recto also signed the report, but with notes. Both said they agreed on the recommendations.
Only Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who had taken custody of Lascañas, said he did not concur and expressed plans to interpellate the report.
Whistleblower cop
Senior Police Office 3 (SPO3) Lascañas was among the cops who testified before the Senate in October 2016, partly to refute claims made by Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed hitman who claimed he was part of the DDS.
Lascañas retired in December 2016. Shortly after, he sought the protection of religious members and went into hiding. In his first press conference after retirement and in several media interviews, he said he changed tunes because he had a “spiritual renewal” and now wanted to tell the truth.
During Lascañas' second testimony, senators assailed him for flip-flopping on his claims, and argued this would be a basis to doubt his allegations. Lascañas initially denied knowing Matobato, but his 2017 testimony corroborated most of Matobato’s claims.
Still, the Senate committee said Lascañas’ retraction “does not necessarily vitiate his original testimony,” meaning the supposed “loopholes” in his first appearance did not take from the accuracy of his first sworn statements.
“His testimony solemnly given should not be lightly set aside and that before this can be done, both the previous testimony and the subsequent one be carefully compared, the circumstances under which each was given be carefully scrutinized, the reasons or motives for the change carefully scrutinized, in other words, all the expedients devised by man to determine the credibility of the witness should be utilized to determine which of the contradictory testimonies represent the truth,” the report said.
Quoting a Supreme Court decision, the committee pointed out that it’s the witness – and not his first statement – that stands to be “impeached” if a witness recants his earlier statement.
The committee recommended to increase the penalty for witnesses who commit perjury, noting that Lascañas’ testimony “only highlights the fact that there are individuals who have the audacity to spread falsity before the august body.”
It also recommended revisions in Senate rules, particularly when it comes to punishing witnesses who make false testimonies: “As it is current worded, the Section does not punish a witness who gives incompatible/inconsistent testimonies. This allows a witness to change his/her position, or recant his/her previous testimony without fear of penalty.” – Rappler.com

Duterte told Trump to 'keep the pressure' on N. Korea

By the Rappler Investigative Team
This story was put together in partnership with The Intercept, which obtained the transcript of President Duterte's April 29 phone conversation with President Trump and shared it with Rappler.
MANILA – While publicly calling on the United States and North Korea to "show restraint", Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked US President Donald Trump in private to "keep the pressure" on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
In a phone conversation with Trump last April 29 – a transcript of which was obtained by Rappler in cooperation with The Intercept, an award-winning digital magazine that has reported on classified documents – Duterte shared Trump's disdain for Kim.
Duterte said Kim is a "madman" who is "laughing always", has a "dangerous toy in his hands", and can only be stopped by China, "the last card" to avert "so much agony and suffering for all mankind."
The "confidential" transcript revealed the views of Duterte and Trump on North Korea, and uncovered the complicated dynamics between the US, China, and the Philippines.
The authenticity of the document was confirmed by a Palace source. Names on the document were also confirmed by another source in the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The transcript revealed the following:
·         Duterte, in public, urges both North Korea and the US to "show restraint," but in his private conversation with Trump, asked the US to "keep the pressure" on North Korea.
·         Duterte views China as having the ace against North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
·         Duterte, in public, claims that Trump asked him to call Chinese President Xi Jinping to intervene in the Korean Peninsula crisis. The transcript showed that it was Duterte who volunteered to do this.
·         While the Philippine leader curses at the US in public, Duterte told Trump on behalf of ASEAN leaders, "We support you," as they seek US intervention in the Korean Peninsula crisis. Trump pointed out "we are all counting on China" in dealing with North Korea.
Rappler is quoting verbatim from the transcript, keeping intact the errors in punctuation and spelling, which a Palace source described as "nothing extraordinary" – especially if done in a hurry.
Assessing Kim Jong-Un
The transcript begins with Duterte thanking Trump for calling, and Trump saying he hopes it is not too late in the evening. It was around 10 pm on April 29.
Duterte replied it was all right, as he was just having dinner with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Trump said he knows Duterte doesn't sleep much, "just like me."
Trump proceeded to congratulate Duterte on his "unbelievable job" in the war on drugs. Duterte thanked Trump, calling illegal drugs "the scourge of my nation now."
Trump said he understand this, and he thinks the US "had a previous President who did not understand that" – in reference to former US president Barack Obama, who criticized Duterte's bloody anti-drug campaign.
According to the transcript, Trump then said, "So how is everyone doing, how is the Phls doing?"
This was where Duterte opened the topic of the Korean Peninsula, urging Trump to "keep on the pressure" on North Korea.
"We are doing fine Mr president but in the ASEAN summit every member state was really nervous about situation in Korean peninsula but we would like to tell you that we support you and keep the pressure because as long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of Kim Jon Un we will never be safe as there's not telling what will happen next," Duterte said. (The transcript misspelled the name of the North Korean leader.)
Trump shot back, "Whats your opinion of him, Rodrigo? Are we dealing with someone who stable or not stable?"
Duterte answered: "He is not stable, Mr President, as he keeps on smiling when he explodes a rocket. He even has gone against China which is the last country he should rebuke. But it seems from his face – he is laughing always and theres as dangerous toy in his hands which could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind."
Trump replied that Kim "has got the powder but he doesn't have the delivery system."
"All his rockets are crashing. That's the good news," Trump added, saying the problem is "when he gets that delivery system."
Duterte: 'The ace has to be with China'
The US president then asked Duterte about China. "Does China have power over him?"
Duterte replied: "Yes at the end of the day, the last card, the ace has to be with China. Its only China. He is playing with his bombs, his toys and from the looks of it, his mind is not working well and he might just go crazy one moment. China should make a last ditch effort to tell him to lay off. China will play a very important role there."
Trump said the US has "a lot of firepower" in the region, including two nuclear submarines, "the best in the world." He also said, "I've never seen anything like they are but we don't have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens."
Duterte replied, "Every generation has a mad man – in our generation is Kim Jung Un – you are dealing with a very delicate problem."
"We can handle it," Trump said.
Duterte replied, "But you can keep the pressure on him."
Trump said he hopes China "solves the problem." He said China has the means "because a great degree of their stuff come through China."
At this point, Duterte offers to call Chinese President Xi Jinping. "I will try to make a call to President Xi Jinping and I will try to tell him that if we will remain to be peaceful, China has the card. The other option is a nuclear blast which is not good for everybody."
'We are all counting on China'
Trump said of Xi, "You can tell him I am counting on him. I have a very good relationship with him. I had him in Florida for two days and got to know him well. He is a good guy."
Duterte promised to call Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua to facilitate the phone call. "It will be good if you can keep on the pressure on Kim but actually we are all worried as we are all within the striking distance of his rockets. We are afraid," the Philippine leader said.
Trump then told Duterte: "We cant let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20 but we don't want to use it. You will be in good shape."
"We believe it, we know it all along," Duterte said.
Trump replied, "Pls call China and tell them we are all counting on China. Tell the President – we became friends for two days – he was great."
At this point, Trump shifted the conversation to their possible meeting either in Manila or Washington.
"Work it out with your staff," Trump told Duterte. "Seriously, if you want to come over, just let us know."
"Just take care of yourself, and we will take care of North Korea," Trump said.
Duterte replied by saying he will relay his message to other ASEAN leaders.
"Thank you for the concern. God bless you Mr President," Duterte said.
Trump answered, "Take care of yourself, Rodrigo. God bless you."
Reacting to the transcript obtained by The Intercept, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesdaypointed out, "Under Philippine law, there is criminal and civil liability attached to the hacking, unauthorized disclosure, and use of illegally or inadvertently obtained confidential government documents."
The DFA then pointed out that Duterte and Trump "have a good and warm working relationship," and that the agency supports the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The agency ended its statement saying: "While we value the need for transparency and the people's right to information, release of certain pieces of information, whether accurate of inaccurate, can affect national security and regional peace and stability."
"As such, we appeal to the sense of responsibility and patriotism of all concerned," the DFA said. – Rappler.com
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