Items filtered by date: Saturday, 01 April 2017

NUJP fires back at Duterte for slamming Inquirer, ABS-CBN

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 31) — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) fired back at President Rodrigo Duterte for slamming major media outfits in his tirades on Thursday.

"Mr. Duterte, your mouth is getting the better of you!" NUJP Secretary General Dabet Panelo said in a statement. "Your incoherent and foulmouthed rant against two of the country's major media outfits — the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN — was not only unwarranted, it was absolutely twisted."

Duterte lashed out at ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer in two expletive-laden speeches he made earlier in Malacañang.

"Kay Inquirer, you've never been fair. I know that it's supposed to be antagonistic but fair? Bastos kayo. Pati ABS-CBN bastos, bastos talaga," he said at the mass oath-taking of his new appointees.

[Translation: For Inquirer, you've never been fair. I know that it's supposed to be antagonistic but fair? You're rude. Even ABS-CBN, they're really rude.]

"Noong election, Inquirer pati ABS-CBN, mukhang pera kayo eh (you're just after money)…Why? You published a ₱211 million which were all garbage. If I have that money now and you are all influentials to find it out, if even by half of it, I will resign as President," Duterte said.

"Itong mga oligarchs pati itong mga elite, mga p***** i** ninyo, sabihin ko sa inyo…If your candidate loses, you become virulent rin."

[Translation: These oligarchs and elite, they're sons of b******, I tell you. If your candidate loses, you become virulent too.]

He even took a swipe at the owners of both Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN, Ma. Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez and Eugenio Lopez III, respectively.

"Napakabaho naman ninyo kayong mga Prieto, kayong mga Lopez (You smell bad, you Prietos and Lopezes). You’re full of s***," Duterte said.

In return, NUJP sec-gen Panelo called out the President's abuse of power and disregard for democracy and governance.

"Mawalang-galang subali't napakalinaw na kayo po, at hindi sila, ang bastos," he said.

[Translation: With all due respect, it is clear that you are, and not them, who is rude.]

"It is a mindset of the petty tyrant who mistakenly believes public office is an entitlement that allows you to flaunt the laws of the land that both grant you power and ensure the checks that prevent you from abusing that power."

Even before his presidency, Duterte has been known to lash out at the media with strong statements during press briefings, and even challenging reporters in coverages.

Panelo said while he didn't expect an apology from the President anytime soon, he stressed that the local media would not be cowed.

"Sir, your curses and your threats cannot and will not prevent us, the community of independent Filipino journalists, from fulfilling our duty to inform the people as best we can of what is happening to our country, whether you agree with what we report or not," he said.

For his part, Philippine Daily Inquirer Executive Editor Jose Ma. Nolasco said their news organization had always upheld the highest standards and balance in journalism since it was founded in 1985.

"In fact, the Inquirer Opinion runs 'View from the Palace' every week, where Cabinet officials expound on and explain administration policy-and even the personality of the President himself," Nolasco said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella defended Duterte's statement, saying the remarks did not necessarily apply to local journalism as a whole.

"The President's remarks on ABS-CBN Corporation and Philippine Daily Inquirer is a complaint against unfairness and are not attacks against Philippine journalism," Abella said. "The President himself agreed with the adversarial role of media as check and balance against government abuses and venalities."

Abella explained what might have ticked off the President in the coverages of ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer.

"However, it is unfortunate that these two media outfits tend to project the President as a caricature of a berserk strongman over a failed state," he said.

The presidential spokesperson then called for better journalistic practices from the media industry, so as to also help in the country's growth.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.

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Philippine communist rebels agree to discuss ceasefire

MANILA, Philippines – Communist rebels waging one of the world's longest-running insurgencies in the Philippines said they are willing to discuss a formal ceasefire proposed by the government in upcoming talks in the Netherlands.

The insurgency began in 1968 and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives according to the military.

The meeting, starting Sunday, April 2, will be the 4th round of talks between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and Manila, which have been on and off for 30 years but were restarted by President Rodrigo Duterte after he took office in June 2016.

"The [NDF] believes it is possible at the soonest time to have a bilateral ceasefire agreement," chief rebel negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement issued from his exile in the Netherlands late Friday, March 31.

He said the rebel negotiating team was "willing to be flexible and is open to discussing with its counterpart what kind of bilateral ceasefire agreement is desired by the (government)."

However, chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello III said Friday that he expected the week's talks to be "very difficult and exacting," with no guarantees for a breakthrough.

The NDF is made up of several groups, the most prominent of which is the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), whose guerrilla unit is the 4,000-strong New People's Army (NPA).

CPP 'fully supports' peace talks

In a separate statement on Saturday, the CPP said that it "fully supports" the peace talks "despite the non-issuance of ceasefire declarations by either side."

The CPP pointed out on Saturday that it "did not proceed to issue a declaration of interim ceasefire yesterday [March 31]" after the Philippine government "announced that it will not issue a similar ceasefire declaration."

The communist rebels added, "The CPP anticipates heightened attacks by the AFP against civilians in light of Duterte's non-declaration of ceasefire."

"The Party calls on the people to rally and protest the extrajudicial killings, aerial bombings, occupation of communities, forcible evacuations, hamletting, and other fascist criminal attacks perpetrated by the AFP against the peasant masses. Expose the AFP for propagating lies and fake news to cover up their crimes," the CPP said.

"In light of AFP's intensified attacks against civilians, the New People's Army is duty-bound to punish the perpetrators of these fascist crimes and carry out offensives to disable the AFP from carrying out further attacks and armed suppression against the civilians," it added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, on the other hand, tagged the NPA as "terrorists" a day before the 4th round of peace talks.

"I, therefore, call upon all peace-loving Filipinos to resist these thugs, these terrorists who have brought nothing but misery to the Filipino people in the past 48 years. Let us resist their extortions because giving in will make them strong and perpetuate their criminal acts," Lorenzana said in a statement Saturday.

Primary goal: Permanent ceasefire

The government has billed a permanent ceasefire as its primary goal, though a week of negotiations on the outskirts of Rome in January ended without such a deal.

Duterte, a self-described socialist who once boasted of his links to the communist rebels, has made a peace deal with the movement one of his top priorities.

After taking office he released captured rebel leaders and both sides declared separate temporary ceasefires to pave the way for peace talks, the first round of which Norway hosted and mediated in August.

But the fiery leader was seen to have jeopardized the peace process in February, angrily calling off talks after the guerrillas killed several soldiers and police in a series of attacks.

Norway convinced the two parties to return to the negotiating table, following informal talks held in the Dutch city of Utrecht last month.

Bello said Duterte wanted as the first item on the April 2-6 agenda a negotiated ceasefire leading to the "lowering or ending of hostilities."

The two sides said Sunday's meeting, originally scheduled for Oslo, will be held in the Dutch town of Noordwijk, which is close to Utrecht where rebel negotiator Agcaoili and some of the senior leaders of the insurgency live in exile.

As well as a possible ceasefire, both sides are expected to discuss a raft of socio-economic reforms that Bello described as "the heart and soul of the peace process."

These aim to address the roots of the conflict that he said were linked to "social justice, extreme poverty... [and] corruption in the government". – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com

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From Benham to Philippine Rise? Why not?

After President Rodrigo Duterte shrugged off fears that China was encroaching into Benham Rise, his administration is now thinking of changing the group of islands’ name to Philippine Rise in a symbolic gesture of asserting sovereignty, according to the President’s spokesperson.

Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesperson, said the name change would “emphasize Philippine sovereign rights” over Benham, which Chinese ships had entered recently, raising fears that China was intruding into the area that had been declared by the United Nations as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, or underwater landmass that forms part of the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte dismissed reports about Chinese intrusion into Benham, saying he knew about it beforehand and that the vessels that China sent to the area were there for research only.

Abella said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Office of the Executive Secretary had been tasked with fleshing out the plan to change Benham’s name to Philippine Rise.

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Abella’s announcement came after Mr. Duterte, on Friday, said he was assured by China that it was not staking a claim on Benham. The President, however, did not say if China recognized Benham as part of Philippine territory.

The area, also known as Benham Plateau, is a 13-million hectare undersea region off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora that is potentially rich in mineral and natural gas deposits.

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Mr. Duterte had repeatedly said he would not risk irritating China over territorial issues in the South China Sea as he continued to look at the Asian giant as a source of financing for his big-ticket projects.

“The money from China is coming in. I think I made the correct decision to change course [on foreign policy],” the President said.

By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:32 AM April 02, 2017

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