Nationwide round-up

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Guevarra cites “personal confidence” in appointing new usecs, asec

Nationwide round-up
JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra — PCOO.GOV.PH

JUSTICE SECRETARY Menardo I. Guevarra on Wednesday explained it was a matter of trust and confidence that prompted him to replace three undersecretaries and an assistant secretary in the Department of Justice (DoJ). “I need people whom I know well and trust to help,” Mr. Guevarra told BusinessWorld in a text message. Upon his recommendation, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on the same day appointed lawyers Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Adrian F. Sugay, and Markk L. Perete as undersecretaries, while lawyer Neal Vincent M. Bainto was appointed assistant secretary. The four replaced former undersecretaries Raymund L. Mecate, Erickson H. Balmes, and Reynante B. Orceo, and assistant secretary Juvy R. Manwong. When asked if the performances of the replaced officials were also a factor, Mr. Guevarra said, “let’s leave it as a mere issue of personal confidence.” Ms. Villar was a former congresswoman and is the wife of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar. — Dane Angelo M. Enerio

Lacson says localized peace talks the way to go with Sison losing control over NPA

SENATOR PANFILO M. Lacson on Wednesday expressed support for localized peace talks with communist rebels, noting that their long exiled leader Jose Maria C. Sison has “no control” anymore over his armed members on the ground. “First, it is clear that Joma Sison has no control over the guerilla fighters of CPP/NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army). Second, the situation and the forces of the communist rebels vary in the provinces and regions so the treatment should also be different as well. And third, the local government knows more about the needs of the rebels in their respective areas. They can get relatives or friends who can mediate on both sides,” Mr. Lacson said in a statement. Mr. Lacson also called for clear guidelines and parameters in localized peace talks to be handed to local government, in addition to the supervision and further assistance of the central government. He added that the proposal was more practical, quicker, and less expensive for the government. — Camille A. Aguinaldo

Drop in rating? Duterte still highest rated, says Palace

MALACAÑANG PALACE on Wednesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte is still the highest rated president despite the 11-point drop in his net satisfaction rating in the 2nd Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey (SWS). The Palace also said it has conducted its own surveys, and the results showed otherwise. “Kung ikukumpara doon sa mga naging Presidente nga (If we were to compare it with past Presidents) for the same period of time, after the second year. So, ahead pa rin po ang Presidente (Duterte) historically,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a radio interview on Wednesday morning, July 11. He added that while the rating has dropped, it remains under the “good” level, and that the President does not do his job for the sake of ratings. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Duterte apologizes to God after meetings with religious leaders

PRESIDENT R. Duterte publicly apologized to God following his meeting with Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva of the Jesus Is Lord church. “If it’s the same God, I’m sorry, that’s how it is. Sorry, God. I said sorry God. If God is taken in a generic term by everybody listening then that’s well and good,” Mr. Duterte said in a video posted on the official Facebook page of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) on Tuesday evening, July 11. He also said: “I only apologize to God, nobody else. If I wronged God, he would be happy to listen. Why? Because my God is all forgiving. Why? Because God created me to be good and not bad.” Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo, meanwhile, said in a statement that it was him who arranged the meeting between the President and Mr. Villanueva. Mr. Duterte on Monday also met with the leader of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles. “They (Duterte and Villanueva) discussed various issues including the remarks of PRRD on God. The President explained to him the context under which the utterances on God were made which was Sister Fox using the name of God in vain, using her religion to violate the law. PRRD said he apologized to God immediately after he made the statements telling Him he was not included in his commentary,” Mr. Panelo said. Mr. Villanueva, according to Mr. Panelo, expressed appreciation on the explanation of Mr. Duterte. “[Mr. Villanueva] said that he and other Christian groups misunderstood him. He asked permission to PRRD to pray with him and the former acceded. While Brother Eddie was saying his prayers the President closed his eyes, clasped his hands and bowed his head as shown in the video I took. From his remarks after the meeting Brother Eddie Villanueva seemed elated on the outcome of his dialogue with PRRD. The video released by Malacañang is self-explanatory.” — Arjay L. Balinbin