News Briefs: Aug. 8, 2019
Palace hands off SC vote on Mamasapano case
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said it would keep its hands off the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday to allow the resumption of cases filed against former President Benigno Aquino III, in connection with the Jan. 25, 2015, Mamasapano operation.
Aquino was charged with graft and usurpation of authority for letting then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima take part in directing the police operation, which led to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force commandos in the hands of rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The Supreme Court ruling will pave the way for the Sandiganbayan to act on a motion filed in June by Ombudsman Samuel Martires to withdraw the charges against Aquino.
“We will let the law take its course,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said. “We do not intend to interfere with the functions of other branches which are distinct from the executive,” he added. —Leila B. Salaverria and Jerome Aning
Bello says HK deployment still ‘normal’
MANILA, Philippines — Despite rising political tensions in Hong Kong, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured Filipino workers that a deployment ban remains “far-fetched.”
“We are waiting for the foreign affairs department to come up with an assessment and a declaration of an alert. Right now there’s [no alert]. So it’s still normal deployment,” Bello told reporters on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, he said he was meeting with an overseas Filipino workers’ group to find out its position on a possible deployment ban which is “under consideration by the [Philippine Overseas Employment Administration].” —Jovic Yee
Senate holds hearing on barangay, SK poll postponement
MANILA, Philippines — If the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections are to be postponed, these should be reset to a date before or after the May 2022 general elections, Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) told the Senate electoral reforms committee on Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier called on Congress to postpone the barangay and SK elections to 2022 so that officials would have time to finish their projects.
Kho said the Comelec would have its hands full with the national and local elections in 2022.
But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that elections should not be postponed “for an unreasonably long period of time,” as they are necessary for elected officials to have “the mandate to govern.” —Leila B. Salaverria
LP lawmaker: Defy orders to attack VP Robredo
MANILA, Philippines — The head of the opposition bloc of the now-divided Liberal Party (LP) has urged his colleagues to defy any “marching orders” from the Duterte administration to attack Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition figures for their critical voices.
“Last time I checked, the truth is still the truth, not inciting to sedition,” said Deputy Minority Leader Jose Christopher Belmonte in a privileged speech on Tuesday.
Belmonte, LP secretary general and Quezon City representative, said “it wasn’t wrong to speak out.”
He added: “Last I checked, it was the responsibility of each citizen — especially representatives of the people in Congress — to fight for what they believe to be true, to debate with each other or with government, in order to make meaningful decisions in our government.” —DJ Yap
Paolo Duterte: ‘I’m still up for adoption’ by other parties
MANILA, Philippines — Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte on Wednesday issued a surprise invitation to all political parties to accept him as an honorary member, just days after setting the political grapevine abuzz when he was adopted by the resurgent National Unity Party (NUP).
“To all other political groups out there, I am still up for adoption!” the President’s son said in a statement.
NUP’s membership rose to more than 50 members after it “adopted” Duterte, a deputy speaker for political affairs at the House of Representatives.
Duterte, a no-show at Tuesday’s gathering of NUP recruits, is still aligned with the Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition of his sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and remains one of the leaders of the Duterte Coalition at the House.—DJ Yap
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