News Briefs: Oct. 15, 2018
Bong Go: I still have days to decide
Although President Rodrigo Duterte had announced that his most trusted aide, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, was leaving the Cabinet to run for senator, Go refused to be categorical about it.
Go told reporters at the opening of Malasakit Center at Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City on Friday that he still had until Oct. 17 to decide whether to run.
The filing of certificates of candidacy started on Oct. 11 and will end on Oct. 17.
The President told reporters in Manila on Wednesday that Go was among six Cabinet members who would soon resign to run for public office.
“I still have five days to decide and I’m asking for enlightenment from God,” Go said on Friday. “Also, I leave it to the wisdom of the President,” he added. —Leo Udtohan
Senators see smooth sailing for Locsin
Senators predicted smooth sailing for incoming Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. when he faces the Commission on Appointments for his confirmation.
Several lawmakers continued to praise the appointment of Locsin, the country’s representative to the United Nations.
“I predict an easy, fast and unanimous confirmation of his appointment,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
In separate radio interviews, Senators Nancy Binay and Sonny Angara agreed that Locsin was a good choice as foreign secretary. —Julie M. Aurelio
Sandiganbayan sustains Ramiscal conviction
The Sandiganbayan has sustained its decision to sentence retired Brig. Gen. Jose Ramiscal Jr. to up to 216 years in prison for irregularities in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Retirement and Separation Benefit System’s land purchases in the late 1990s.
In a five-page resolution dated Oct. 8, the court’s Special Seventh Division denied Ramiscal’s motion for reconsideration of its Apr. 13, 2018, decision finding him guilty of 12 counts each of graft and falsification.
Ramiscal’s conviction arose from the false declaration of the selling price of 12 lots in General Santos City in 1997, defrauding the government of P3.5 million in capital gains and documentary stamp taxes.
Ramiscal argued he was not signatory to the deeds of sale and had no knowledge of their existence until Congress investigated the scam.
The court, however, found Ramiscal’s appeal “bereft of merit.” —Vince F. Nonato
NFA hikes rice buying price
The National Food Authority (NFA) has increased the buying price of rice to P20.70 as part of measures to rebuild buffer stock meant to stave off inflation.
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol issued a memorandum announcing the increase in the buying price of rice by P3.
The move drew praise from Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles.
He said the move showed that the “NFA mandate is now in sync” with the Department of Agriculture’s.
But Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, said the NFA should purchase rice “exclusively” from local farmers for its buffer stock.
“With the expected flooding of cheap imported rice in the country, it would become close to impossible for our local farmers to compete unless they get help from the government,” he said. —Marlon Ramos
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