Let’s await advice on Duterte’s plan to visit US: Roque

Malacañang is still waiting for the final word on the supposed United States (US) trip of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a press briefing in Angeles City, Pampanga, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he could neither confirm nor deny Duterte’s plan to visit the US.

“Iyong mga bagay na iyan ay talagang diplomasya po iyan, so hintayin na lang po natin kung magkakaroon ng kasunduan kasi kinakailangan din ng kasunduan (Matters like that involve diplomacy so let’s wait if there will be an agreement because there should be an agreement first),” he said.

Rather than risk making wrong pronouncements, Roque said it is just best to wait.

“I cannot second guess kung ano pong mangyayari diyan. Hintayin na lang po natin (what is going to happen. Let’s just wait),” he added.

In a public address last Thursday, Duterte said he wanted to go to the US to personally thank their government for their donation of vaccines against Covid-19.

Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the US was donating 5 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses for the Philippines on top of the 9 million doses previously donated.

“Ang bait ng America. Baka pupunta ako doon (America is so generous. I might go there) just to thank the American government and the people,” he said.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier confirmed that the US will provide 5.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) also vowed to allocate an additional USD11.3 million assistance to support the country’s vaccine rollout efforts.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Ex-village chief tagged as Zambales’ most wanted falls

A former barangay captain listed as the most wanted person of Zambales was arrested by authorities in a manhunt operation on Sunday.

In a police report on Monday, Col. Romano V. Cardiño, acting provincial director of the Zambales Police Provincial Office, identified the suspect as Angel Cabbab, 74, a former village chair and resident of Barangay Lucero, San Marcelino, Zambales.

Cardiño said the suspect was arrested by joint elements of San Marcelino Municipal Police Station, Provincial Intelligence Unit (PIU), 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company, 305th Maneuver Company and Criminal Investigation and Detection Team-Zambales.

The arrest was carried out by virtue of a warrant for the crime of rape issued by Judge Gemma Theresa B. Hilario-Logronio of Branch 73, Olongapo City on Feb. 7, 2019, with no bail recommended.

Cardiño said Cabbab is the primary suspect in the rape of a three-year-old girl on Dec. 12, 2018.

He was then the chairman of Barangay Lucero, San Marcelino, Zambales and went in hiding after the crime.

“Once again I commend Philippine National Police-Police Regional Office 3 men and women for another successful manhunt operation to bring most wanted persons to the fold of justice and answer their crimes committed. The continuous arrest of wanted persons is also anchored on the intensified cleanliness policy of PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar,” Brig. Gen. Valeriano T. de Leon, director of the PRO-3, said in a statement.

Source: Philippines News Agency

NBA player Wiggins gets his COVID-19 jab

Golden State Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins on Sunday received his coronavirus jab to play for his team this season.

“Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins has been vaccinated and will be available for all games this season,” NBA insider Shams Charania said on Twitter.

NBA does not mandate but is pushing players — who disagree with the use of vaccines — to get their coronavirus jabs before the season begins on Oct. 19.

Canadian small forward Wiggins, 26, previously applied for a religious exemption but the NBA denied his request.

Nearly 90 percent of NBA players have received at least one dose of the shot, but some are reportedly not vaccinated.

According to Charania’s previous report on Twitter, league spokesman Mike Bass said on Wednesday that a player who refuses to be vaccinated will not be paid for games that he misses during the 2021-22 season.

The NBA is planning to frequently test unvaccinated personnel.

Also, unvaccinated players reportedly will be obliged to wear masks at team facilities and during travel.

The league told teams to arrange seating for travel, meals, meetings, and locker rooms as a restriction for vaccine-resistant players.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Palace renews call for Covid-19 vax equity

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday renewed his call for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine equity, pointing out that vaccine donations under the COVAX facility were somehow meant to ease the “guilty conscience” of wealthy nations for monopolizing the supply.

This is the same call Roque made in his bid for a seat at the International Law Commission (ILC), a United Nations (UN) panel that develops and codifies international law.

“Ang pagkakaiba ng ating sinsusulong, ang COVAX voluntary, feel-good ng mga mayayamang bansa dahil mino-monopolize nila ang suplay ng vaccine. Dahil nga kinakailangang i-address ang guilty conscience, mamigay tayo ng konti sa mga mahihirap na bansa (The difference in what we’re pushing for is that donations under COVAX are voluntary, feel-good for rich countries because they are monopolizing the vaccine supply. They need to address their guilty conscience by giving some vaccines to poor countries),” he said in an event in the “Sa Bakuna, Panalo Ka” in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Roque said wealthy nations needed to do more than just donate, emphasizing the need to ensure that all countries have the tools to defeat the prevailing health crisis.

“Hindi po yan ang solusyon sa pandemiya dahil sinasabi ng WHO na no one is safe untill all of us is safe. Kinakailangan po kilalanin ng lahat ng mga bansa ang obligasyon na para matapos ang mga pandemiya, hindi lang po ang Covid-19, kinakailangan lahat magakroon ng bakuna dahil ito ang solusyon sa pandemiya (That’s not the solution to the pandemic because as WHO said, no one is safe until all of us are safe. Other countries need to recognize their obligation to ensure that all countries should have vaccines because this is the only solution to put an end to the pandemic),” he added.

Roque also backed efforts to push for the waiving of intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments or the so-called Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Waiver.

“Kasama po tayo ng buong developing world sa kagustuhan natin na magkaroon ng vaccine equality at isa sa pamamaraan po diyan ay yung Waiver ng TRIPS protection. Ito po’y intellectual property at sinasabi natin buksan na yung intellectual property ng mga bakuna (We are one with the developing world in the desire to for vaccine equality and one of the ways to achieve that is TRIPS Waiver. We support the move to waive intellectual property protections of vaccines),” he said.

In a keynote speech delivered during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22 (Manila time), President Rodrigo Duterte expressed dismay that developing nations could not boost their Covid-19 vaccine supply because wealthy countries have the privilege to secure first the vaccine shots.

He said greater global cooperation would be the key to the successful fight against Covid-19.

“The plain fact is this pandemic will not end, unless the virus is defeated everywhere. Vaccines are key to achieving this,” Duterte said. “We recognize that only inclusive multilateralism can deliver the global public goods we need. And we believe that fairness, equality, and respect should always be the basis of our engagement with one another.”

As of Oct. 3, the Philippines had administered over 46 million Covid-19 jabs. Of this number, more than 21 million are second dose.

The national government’s target for population protection remains at 70 percent out of the total 110 million Filipinos.

Source: Philippines News Agency

House leader pushes for more funding for livelihood aid to 4Ps

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda on Monday sought additional funding for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for 2022 to support its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) that will empower the country’s vulnerable and marginalized communities.

In a statement, Legarda said DSWD’s budget for SLP should be increased to ensure that poor Filipino households, especially those transitioning under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), would “eventually gain financial independence”.

The program increases the economic opportunities of poor Filipino households by equipping them with entrepreneurial and labor skills for self-sufficiency.

It offers two tracks, namely: the microenterprise development track, which provides a maximum of PHP15,000 seed capital fund; and the employment facilitation track, providing a maximum of PHP5,000 per individual as assistance for processing of employment documents and to augment expenses for the first 15 days of employment.

She said under the proposed budget of the agency, only PHP4.864 billion is allocated for SLP.

“With this proposed allocation, only around 8 percent of the 4 million families who are 4Ps beneficiaries will be accommodated under the microenterprise development track,” she said.

Legarda committed that she will actively push and introduce amendments to augment the DSWD budget and ensure that it is aligned with the pandemic recovery.

She said this would “help Filipinos cope with socio-economic challenges, reduce chronic poverty and promote human capital development in the country, especially amid the pandemic and the continuing climate crisis”.

Transitioning households under the 4Ps cover those whose level of well-being have improved and whose status have been upgraded to “non-poor.” Nevertheless, these households remain vulnerable with little or no buffer against economic shocks. The SLP is meant to prevent them from reverting to poverty.

The Micro-Enterprise Development track provides workshops, access to credit, and other support to start businesses.

Meanwhile, the Employment Facilitation track, which offers technical-vocational training and pre-employment assistance services.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Comelec launches local source code review of poll system

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday launched the local source code review (LSCR) of the automated election system (AES) to be used in the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections (NLE).

Poll body officials headed by chairman Sheriff Abas welcomed the participants composed of political parties, citizen’s arm, civil society groups, at the kickoff activity held at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, head of the Steering Committee and commissioner-in-charge of the LSCR, said the procedure is a pre-election activity that is mandated by the law.

“The review of the human-readable instructions that define what the computer system will do — commonly referred to as the source code — is an innovation that was introduced by Republic Act No. 9369,” he said.

Section 12 of Republic Act No. 9369 provides that “once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested party or group which may conduct their own review thereof.”

“In this sense, the activity that we are all going to be engaged in is integral and inseparable to the conduct of elections as any other. As the Chairperson of the 2022 National and Local Elections Steering Committee, allow me then to reiterate the overarching principles that should guide us all: Local Source Code Review is aimed at enhancing public acceptance, promoting transparency, and building public confidence in our Automated Elections System,” Casquejo added.

The objectives of the review are to ensure that the AES functions as it should or as expected and that the code is clean and without any embedded malicious code,

It also aims to identify any critical or major issues or errors that could potentially impact the outcome of the election.

“We intend for this review process to be as transparent and participatory as possible. We intend to preserve the integrity of our automated systems, in the same manner, that we aim to ensure that the upcoming automated elections run as smoothly as possible. And we want you to help us uncover possible issues with our systems inasmuch as we want the general public to know about our readiness and preparedness,” he said.

The stakeholders will review the following: the Election Management System (EMS); the Vote-Counting Machine (VCM); the Consolidated Canvassing System (CCS); and all other related systems programmed and developed by the provider.

“Each and every one of us-the reviewers, the media, the political parties and interest groups, the different branches of the government, and even the casual observers-plays a vital role in ensuring that the general public preserves their trust and confidence in our electoral process. The successful staging and completion of the Local Source Code Review is a positive and welcome step towards the completion of that goal,” Casquejo added.

The participants to the review, as of September 22, are Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), Partido Para sa Demokratikong Reporma, National Unity Party (NUP), Liberal Party of the Philippines, Unang Sigaw (Partido ng Pagbabago), Aksyon Demokratiko, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan, National Peoples Coalition.

Other participants include the Kaya Natin Movement for Good Governance, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Democracy Watch, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

The LSCR will start on Tuesday and will end on March 31, 2022, at the 2nd floor Ruby Room of the Diamond Hotel from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays, except holidays.

Source: Philippines News Agency

NoKor restores all inter-Korean communication lines

North Korea decided to restore all communication lines with South Korea starting from 9 a.m. on Monday, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

The report said the decision was announced to follow the promise made by North Korean top leader Kim Jong Un in a speech last Thursday, in which he expressed the intention of restoring the cut-off North-South communication lines as part of the effort to realize the expectation and desire of the entire nation who want the North-South relations to be restored.

“The South Korean authorities should make positive efforts to put the North-South ties on a right track and settle the important tasks which must be prioritized to open up the bright prospect in the future, bearing deep in mind the meaning of the restoration of communication lines,” the report added.

Inter-Korean relations have remained cold since the summit between North Korea and the United States reached no deal in early 2019.

The inter-Korean hotlines were briefly back in operation in late July but Pyongyang began refusing Seoul’s regular calls again two weeks later in protest against the joint military drills by South Korea and the United States.

Source: Philippines News Agency

138 candidates file COCs in Pangasinan

Some 138 aspiring candidates have filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the different electoral seats in Pangasinan as of October 2.

Citing data gathered from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) said Monday that four have filed COCs for the congressional post, two of them are incumbent officials, one reelectionist, and a new aspirant.

For the board members at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, there are five aspiring candidates so far.

Thirteen filed their COCs for the mayoralty race in the towns and cities in the province, while 10 for the vice-mayoralty race.

There are 106 aspiring candidates for different town or city councils in the province.

As of October 2, there were no candidates yet who filed their COCs for the governor and vice governor positions.

In an interview, PPPO information officer Maj. Arturo Melchor Jr. said there were no reported significant incidents during the past days of the filing of COCs.

“So far, the filing of COCs in the province is generally peaceful,” he said.

The Pangasinan police was among the agencies tapped by Comelec to ensure peace and order in the filing of COCs from October 1 to 8.

Meanwhile, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Ma. Rachel Arenas was among the first to file her COC on October 1 at the Comelec Pangasinan provincial office here.

She is running for the representative seat for the third district of Pangasinan under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Calasiao Liga ng mga Barangay President Mamilyn ‘Maya’ Caramat also filed her COC, challenging the incumbent mayor, Joseph Arman Bauzon.

Reelectionist fourth District Rep. Christopher de Venecia, who is running under the Lakas-CMD, also filed his COC through his lawyer Evelyn Panlaque.

Source: Philippines News Agency