Malacañang advises against travel to Hong Kong

MALACAÑANG ON Tuesday advised Filipinos against traveling to Hong Kong amid continuing violent protests in the Chinese Special Administrative Region. “Avoid going there, that’s the advice. Kasi (Because) you’re not sure whether you’re going to reach Hong Kong in the first place,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo told reporters in a press briefing. Operations at the Hong Kong Airport have been disrupted since Monday as protesters hold a mass rally at the terminal. The protests were sparked by an extradition bill that would allow suspects to be sent to China for trial. Last week, Mr. Panelo said the Philippine government will not ban the deployment of Filipino workers. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, for his part, said his office is monitoring the situation Hong Kong and studying the possibility of banning deployment. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Chinese investigators to be allowed in probe of Chinese national’s death

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. on Tuesday said Chinese investigators would be allowed to get involved in the probe of the death of a Chines national last week. “When a foreign national is killed on our soil, we are obliged to allow the foreign national’s state to send its own investigators to solve the crime we seem unable to. That is international practice,” Mr. Locsin said in a social media post. The 27-year-old Chinese, who was found handcuffed, died after falling through a window from the sixth floor of a building. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on Monday evening urged concerned government agencies to probe the incident and bring the “perpetrators to justice.” The embassy had also asked the Philippine government to take the necessary measures to protect the rights of Chinese citizens in the Philippines. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo, in a statement Sunday, expressed “alarm” over the incident. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

DILG warns cops vs accepting gifts

THE DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned that police officers will be held liable for receiving or soliciting gifts in line with the performance of their duties. “Employees under the DILG, including police officers, will be held criminally and administratively liable if they receive or solicit gifts of monetary value from people they serve or transact with in relation to their official functions,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a statement on Tuesday. Mr. Año issued the statement after President Rodrigo R. Duterte told cops last week they can accept ‘thank-you’ gifts, especially if these are given out of generosity for their work. The National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2016-002 states that any “act of soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly any gift of monetary value or the act of receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable thing in the course of official duties in expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment” shall be penalized. However, Sec. 14 of Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, exempts gifts of small value offered as a token of gratitude. “Although an exception is provided for in the law, may we remind our fellow workers in government, especially those in the Philippine National Police (PNP), that your services are already fully paid by the people through their taxes. Therefore, gifts received in exchange for favors or as a form of bribe is in direct violation of your oath of service and is a violation of law,” said Mr. Año. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

Palace, DoJ support amendments to Human Security Act

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra — PCOO.GOV.PH

JUSTICE SECRETARY Menardo I. Guevarra on Tuesday said the anti-terrorism law should just be amended instead of reinstating the law criminalizing subversion. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año has recently called for the restoration of the subversion law, which was repealed in 1992. “Amending and giving more teeth to the Human Security Act will suffice,” Mr. Guevarra told reporters in a mobile-phone message. He said one of the provisions of the Human Security Act that has to be amended is the imposition of a P500,000 per day penalty on authorities who mistakenly accuse a person for terrorism, “even in good faith.” This, he said, are among the provisions that “weaken the entire law.” “Remember, we are dealing here with terrorism, including suicide attacks,” he said. Mr. Año wants the return of the anti-subversion law following reports of parents whose children have allegedly gone missing after joining left-leaning groups. The anti-subersion law, which was contained in Republic Act 1700, outlawed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and being a member of the organization. Mr. Guevarra, however, said, “(M)ere membership in the CPP is not a crime unless overt criminal acts are committed… Being leftist is far from being terrorist.” He added, “as long as activism remains in the realm of ideology, there is nothing to be alarmed about.”

Malacañang expressed the same message as it asked Congress to put more teeth to the Human Security Act in order to quell communist terrorism. “That should be addressed to lawmakers. They should provide more teeth to that,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo told reporters in a briefing when asked to comment on Mr. Guevarra’s statement. On the suggestion to increase police visibility in school campuses to limit the recruitment of students by groups linked to the New People’s Army (NPA), Mr. Panelo said he does not think this would be a solution. The NPA is the armed unit of the CPP. The spokesman said parents should also tell their children that the communist ideology is “long passed and is passé and they should not entertain joining any kind of subversive organization for their own sake.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Arjay L. Balinbin