Duterte offers Robredo power over drug war


PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Monday said he is ready to give Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo full authority over the anti-drug campaign for a six-month period after she criticized his pet program.

“I do not surrender anything. I said if she wants, I can commission her to be the ‘Drugs Czar’. Marami siyang reklamo sa labaskung marunong ka (She has a lot of complaints… if you know how to handle it), I will give you full powers. Tignan natin kung kaya mo (Let’s see if you can handle it),” he told reporters after a speech in Malacañang.

Ms. Robredo said last week that Mr. Duterte should “assess and tweak” his war on drugs. Mr. Duterte promised during his campaign in the 2016 elections to end drugs and corruption in six months if he wins.

Human rights groups claim that 27,000 have been killed in the drug war, but police data indicate just over 5,000.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll last month indicates that 82% of Filipinos were satisfied with the administration’s campaign against drugs. — Gillian M. Cortez

Code of Conduct on disputed sea won’t be concluded at ASEAN Summit

NEGOTIATIONS on the Code of Conduct (CoC) on the South China Sea are not expected to be concluded in the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

“At the summits, there won’t be negotiation, but leaders stating their national positions. Negotiation would happen at the lower levels,” Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West told reporters in a briefing, Monday.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte will fly to Thailand on Oct. 30 for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summit, which will run until Nov. 4.

The first reading of the single negotiation draft on the CoC has so far been completed, according to Ms. West, adding that a “more substantive discussion” is expected on the draft code’s second reading.

“Now we are going on next steps and we had a meeting in Vietnam recently so we would expect that negotiations will discuss more substantive issues at the second reading and also probably discuss big picture issues like the conditions on the ground or the conditions in the South China Sea,” she said.

She noted that the Reed Bank incident last June, where a Filipino fishing boat sank after it was hit by a Chinese vessel, may be discussed during meetings on regional development and political security cooperation.

When asked whether the Philippine government plans to incorporate the 2016 Hague ruling in the CoC, Ms. West said the DFA opted not to raise it and is working around other approaches to better negotiate.

“Let us just say that the arbitral decision permeates the Philippine position in the negotiations of the Code of Conduct and of course when you are negotiating and you know that the other party doesn’t like to mention this thing, then you don’t mention it.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Diesel price cut continues in last week of Oct.

FOR FIVE straight weeks, oil companies maintained the reduction in diesel prices as they end October with another P0.10-centavo per liter (/L) cut for the petroleum product.

Prices of gasoline products will also be down this week, by P0.45/L, a bigger cut compared with the previous week’s P0.25/L.

Except for an increase in the third week of the month, gasoline prices have mostly dropped this month.

The price of kerosene will be unchanged this week, oil companies announced on Monday. For most of them, the price adjustment will take place at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

This month’s price adjustments follow the last week of September’s hefty per liter price increase for gasoline, diesel and kerosene at P2.35, P1.80 and P1.75, respectively. — Victor V. Saulon

Cayetano ready to be House speaker until 2022 if Velasco agrees

SPEAKER ALAN Peter S. Cayetano on Monday said he is open to serving the full three-year term as leader of the House of Representatives if Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco agrees to forgo the sharing deal.

“Well, you know open to the possibility eh kung si Congressman Velasco mismo ang magsabi sa akin, ‘ikaw na lang’ (if Congressman Velasco himself tells me, ‘you be the one’),” Mr. Cayetano of the Taguig City 1st District said on the sidelines of Monday’s flag ceremony.

The remarks followed sentiments of some lawmakers that the 15-21 term-sharing agreement may not push through given Mr. Cayetano’s high-approval rating based on the September survey of Pulse Asia Research, Inc. at 64% and 62% trust rating.

For now, Mr. Cayetano said, the agreement stands and he intends to focus on the remaining 12 months of his term as speaker. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Supreme Court associate justice position open for application

THE JUDICIAL and Bar Council (JBC) has opened for applications the Supreme Court associate justice position vacated by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta.

In an announcement dated October 25, JBC said the application period is until November 25 at 4:30 p.m.

Mr. Peralta vacated the associate justice position after he was appointed as chief justice on Oct. 23, replacing Lucas P. Bersamin who retired on Oct. 18. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Veloso testimony tentatively set Dec. 12

CONVICTED DRUG trafficker Mary Jane Veloso is tentatively set to give her testimony through deposition against her alleged recruiters on Dec. 12, her legal counsel said in a statement on Monday.

The Supreme Court (SC) on Oct. 9 affirmed the trial court’s decision allowing Ms. Veloso to testify through deposition by written interrogatories as part of her right to due process.

However, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said this would still be subject to the resolution that would be made from the planned motion for reconsideration to be filed by her accused recruiters against the SC decision.

The alleged recruiters are facing charges of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa over the case of Ms. Veloso, who was arrested upon arrival in Yogyakata for carrying 2.5 kilograms of heroin in her luggage and was sentenced to death in Oct. 2010.

Her supposed execution on April 29, 2015 did not push through after the surrender of her recruiters. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas