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Duterte boasts of ending ‘oligarchy’ without martial law declaration

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Monday bragged that he has brought down “the oligarchy” without authoritarian rule. “Without declaring martial law, I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy of the Filipino people,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech before troops in Jolo, Sulu. “Sinira ko ‘yung mga tao na humahawak sa ekonomiya at umiipit at hindi nagbabayad (I destroyed the people who control the economy and pressing it and do not pay).” Mr. Duterte did not specify who he was referring to but his comments come after the franchise renewal application of ABS-CBN Corp. was denied by a House of Representatives committee on Friday. The broadcast firm, owned by the Lopez family, was also shut down following the declaration of martial law in 1972 under Ferdinand E. Marcos’ presidency. Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, in a briefing on Tuesday, denied that Mr. Duterte was pertaining to the Lopez clan. Mr. Duterte has previously expressed anger at the broadcast network, which he said did not refund him for unaired ads during his 2016 Presidential campaign. Mr. Roque said the President was referring to “Lucio Tan, Manny V. Pangilinan, and the Ayalas” whom Mr. Duterte had also lambasted in the past. — Gillian M. Cortez

Over 82,000 overseas workers brought home

A TOTAL of 82,057 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from over 60 countries and 132 cruise ships, displaced by the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the global economy and air transport, have been repatriated as of July 13. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola, in a hearing of the House of Representatives committee on public accounts Tuesday, said over 117,000 Filipinos are still stranded. Ms. Arriola said one of their main challenges is funding to pay for the fines of overstaying Filipinos. “What we usually do for this is to pay for the overstaying fees for us to be able to help our kababayans (countrymen). Ang challenge lang po today, yung pera po sa repatriation mapupunta po sa fines (The current challenge is, the money for repatriation goes to the settlement of fines),” she said. She added that there is limited fund available for the needs of foreign service personnel, particularly for testing and to assist those affected by the coronavirus. Members of the House committee vowed to look into the department’s budgetary needs. — Patricia S. Gajitos

Project ARK urges private sector to continue coronavirus rapid testing

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey A. Concepcion, who initiated Project Antibody Rapid Test Kits (ARK) mainly for workers in the private sector, called for continued testing and include potentially asymptomatic patients. “Testing should not stop, and testing should be increased because that’s the only way to increase visibility,” he said during the Go Negosyo Balik Kabuhayan webinar on Tuesday. Iloilo Rep. Janette P. Loreto-Garin, a former health secretary, also stressed the importance of testing and the corresponding isolation for a positive result. Ms. Garin said operations must be immediately suspended if a workplace becomes infected. “It is only in testing that we can fill the gap in making social distancing, hygiene practices, and other new normal behaviors more effective. Pooled testing can actually allow us to co-exist with COVID (coronavirus disease 2019),” she said. Project ARK is expanding beyond rapid testing and will release before the end of the month guidelines for the pooled PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing. It will cover overseas Filipino workers, and those in the construction and business process outsourcing industries. — Patricia S. Gajitos