Duterte just mocking critics in remark on invoking US defense treaty

MALACAÑANG ON Monday said the suggestion of critics to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States as a response to China’s militarization in the West Philippine Sea is “absurd.” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo made this statement to clarify President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s remark last week that he was willing the invoke the treaty. Mr. Panelo said the intention of the President’s statement was to mock his critics. “Ang sinasabi niya doon sa mga (What he is saying to) critics, if you consider that as an armed aggression that will fall within the treaty then he will invoke it,” the spokesman said, adding that Mr. Duterte was stressing the “absurdity” of the suggestion that we should attack China. He added that the President was trying to send a message to his critics that their proposal is only good in their “imagination.” — Arjay L. Balinbin

Senators in differing positions on possible UNHRC withdrawal

SENATE PRESIDENT Vicente C. Sotto III said he will support Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.’s decision on whether to withdraw or retain the Philippines’ membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following its adoption of the Iceland Resolution. “I will not be surprised if Sec. Locsin will follow suit considering the way they were, all of a sudden, handling the resolution from Iceland and not even getting the majority of the members of those present in the quorum and saying that it is a UNHRC resolution,” Mr. Sotto told reporters in a chance interview, Monday. “It’s illogical. I will not be surprised and I will be supportive of any decision that Sec. Locsin will arrive at.” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, for his part, said withdrawing from UN bodies may put the Philippines at a disadvantage. “At the rate we are withdrawing from the UN bodies, it could only be a matter of time when we will be left to our own devices. We may not know when, what and how, but being a developing country, we may need to ask for help from the community of nations sooner or later,” Mr. Lacson said in a social media post on Monday. Mr. Locsin on Sunday said the Philippine government might withdraw its membership to the UNHRC over its adoption of the Iceland Resolution that sought to investigate the human rights situation in the Philippines. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Palace hands off proposal to impeach VP Robredo

MALACAÑANG IS keeping its hands off the suggestion to initiate impeachment proceedings against Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo for supporting the Iceland-initiated resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s bloody anti-drug war. “Tanungin natin iyong (Let’s ask the)… one, ang Supreme Court; two, impeachment court. But you know, we have better things to do. There are so many problems in this country. I will leave it to those who would want to initiate whatever they want to initiate against whomsoever,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a press briefing on Monday. Mr. Panelo was asked to comment on the remark of Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Manuelito R. Luna last week that Ms. Robredo could be impeached for expressing her support to the UNHRC resolution. When asked if supporting the resolution is tantamount to betrayal of public trust, Mr. Panelo replied: “Is ignorance a betrayal of the public trust? That is my response. If gross ignorance is a ground for impeachment, is that a ground under the Constitution?… Draw your conclusion.” The UN rights council on June 11 voted to investigate the drug-related killings in the Philippines under the Duterte administration. But both Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs rejected the resolution, saying that it does not represent the will of the council. On Monday, Mr. Panelo said there is no need for the council to pursue its investigation in the Philippines, but it can just send a communication asking for information on the drug war. He also said, however, that there is no guarantee that the Philippine government will provide the documents. “They have to believe what this government tells them because this government doesn’t lie,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin

DoJ grants KAPA request for an extension to submit counter-affidavits

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) granted the request of the legal counsel of Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc. (KAPA) and three of its officials, including founder Joel A. Apolinario, to extend the submission of their counter affidavits to July 29. KAPA legal counsel Mae S. Divinagracia said they sought the extension as they still have to interview the respondents. “We had to file an extension… because we still have to thoroughly study the records considering that the documents that were furnished to us are quite voluminous. And we also have to fly to Saranggani to conduct the necessary interviews,” she told reporters. The other respondents in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaint for violating some provisions of the Securities Regulation Code who are among the represented are: Corporate Secretary Reyna L. Apolinario and Rene Catubigan. Ms. Divinagracia also said they asked that the respondents be allowed to subscribe their counter-affidavit before the provincial prosecutor of Saranggani instead of before the DoJ due to threats to their lives. The panel of prosecutors led by Assistant State Prosecutor Zenamar Machacon-Caparros granted the request of KAPA to move their submission and set another hearing on July 29. Other respondents in the complaint who were not represented are: trustee Margie A. Danao, Marisol M. Diaz, Adelfa Fernandico, Moises Mopia, and Catherine Evangelista. The SEC filed the complaint against KAPA and eight of its officials in connection with their involvement in what is considered as an investment scam by enticing the public to give at least P10,000 as “donation” with a promise of monthly return of 30% as “blessing” for life. SEC said the scheme “involved sale and offering for sale or distribution to the public of securities, in form of investment contracts.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Comelec starts scouting for automated election system

Comelec logoTHE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has started reviewing election solution systems that they can potentially use in the presidential and national elections in 2022. Comelec Chairman Sheriff A. Abas said the Automated Elections Systems (AES) Fair held on July 15 by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) allowed them to witness various modern electoral solutions. “This is the kind of insight we need as we look forward to the elections of 2022,” he said in a statement on Monday. Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the poll body is going to review these systems shown by various exhibitors in the AES Fair. “All of these solutions show great promise, and the Comelec will be evaluating each one, to see how well they meet the Philippines’ unique circumstances.” During the May 2019 national and local elections, almost 1,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) out of more than 85,000 were reported to have malfunctioned while almost 2,0000 SD cards out of more than 55,000 were also reported to be defective. The suppliers of the VCMs and the SD cards were Smartmatic and S1 Technologies, respectively. — Gillian M. Cortez