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Palace urges Maza to surrender

NATIONAL ANTI-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Liza L. Maza, who faces an arrest warrant for a double murder charge, should surrender to authorities, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Well, she has to heed the warrant of arrest, not even the President can interfere in our judicial process,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing at the Palace.

Ms. Maza is the only one left of the three the Left-leaning officials appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as part of his Cabinet.

Apart from Ms. Maza, other personalities ordered arrested by the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court are former party-list representatives Satur C. Ocampo and Teodoro A. Casiño of Bayan Muna and former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael V. Mariano of Anakpawis.

Mr. Roque said the warrants are “lawfully issued by a trial court” and “if they are innocent, then they should in fact surrender, recognize the jurisdiction of the court and prove their innocence in court. That is what we expect from everyone.”

Mr. Roque also said that Ms. Maza remains the chief of the NAPC.

“She hasn’t been fired. But, because she is wanted, she may become a fugitive if she doesn’t surrender. And if she goes on AWOL, absence without leave, then the President will have to decide on her continuing appointment if need be, because she cannot be absent. Her office is very critical to the fight against poverty and we cannot have a secretary who is a fugitive from the law,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Supreme Court votes to speed up disposition of Sandiganbayan cases

THE SUPREME Court voted 8-2 in favor of the “speedy disposition” of pending cases of the Sandiganbayan.

Supreme Court (SC) Spokesperson Theodore O. Te said in a media briefing on Tuesday that the high court “interpreted the reckoning period for the right to ‘speedy disposition of…cases’ under Article III, section 16 to start from the preliminary investigation of cases.”

He emphasized that the cases won’t start before the preliminary investigation and also not from the fact-finding stage.

Newly-appointed Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires, a former Supreme Court associate justice, said on Monday that he will prioritize pending cases at the Sandiganbayan.

He added that the delay of these cases has long been an issue between the office of the Ombudsman and the High Court. — Gillian M. Cortez

Ceremonial signing for Bangsamoro law set Aug. 6

MALACAÑANG ON Tuesday announced that there will be a ceremonial signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed last week.

“There is a ceremonial reenactment of the signing of the BOL on August 6 at 3:45 p.m.,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday, July 31.

Last Sunday, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace agreement with the government, held its first Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly at Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao to acquaint residents and voters on the BOL. The law will be subject to a plebiscite scheduled later this year. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Universal health care bill must also ensure access to services for remote areas — Duque

A HEALTH center in the town of Alubijid in Misamis Oriental province. — ALUBIJIDMISOR.GOV.PH

HEALTH SECRETARY Francisco T. Duque III said the proposed Universal Health Care (UHC) bill must include provisions ensuring not just coverage but access to services, particularly in the country’s remote areas.

He cited in particular the situation of indigenous peoples (IPs) living in the hinterlands. “It is easy to cover them (with health insurance), but will the health services be available?” Mr. Duque said in an interview on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Healthy Islands Conference held in Davao City last week.

“We need to capacitate our health stations in every barangay… We need to cover a lot more grounds with regards to the setting up of the basic delivery unit of primary health care. This is a major building block of universal health care, it could not be just hospitals,” he said.

The House of Representatives has passed its version of the UHC bill, but its Senate counterpart is still pending. — Maya M. Padillo