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De Lima says Duterte abused, misused executive power of immunity

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Senator Leila de Lima held a brief press conference on Thursday morning, August 18, hailing President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to call her “immoral” as an abuse of his executive power.

On Wednesday, Duterte finally revealed her as the female government official he was set on destroying in public. He called her an “immoral woman” and accused her of having an affair with her driver, also accused of being involved with the illegal drug trade.

“Words cannot express what I am feeling right now. I guess no one can, because no one has ever been attacked in such a manner by no less than the highest official of the land, until now. How does one defend oneself, when the attacker is immune from suit, and has all the backing of executive power to support him in his personal attack?” she opened her official statement.

She pointed out how Duterte’s move is an abuse of his power as President.

“This is no less than abuse and misuse of executive power. I don’t think the Constitution has ever contemplated such abuse of power on such scale, as it assumes every President to conduct himself in a manner befitting the office he holds,” she added.

She also touched on how this might be Duterte’s way of stopping the Senate probe into extrajudicial killings, led by the Senate committee on justice and human rights she chairs.

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“If this is his way of stopping the Senate’s investigation on the extrajudicial killings, he can try until he finally silences me or the Senate. But I think it is already clear that what is being done to me is what will happen to anyone who does not bow to the wishes of the President. If stopping the Senate investigation is the only way for these personal attacks by the President and his men to also stop, believe me I have already thought about that,” de Lima said.

She added that just like everyone else, she also got hurt and worried about her family and loved ones, to the extent of considering backing out of the investigation into the killings, but she thought that doing so would be turning her back on herself and her principles.

“Tao lamang din po ako na nasasaktan, natatakot at nag-aalala rin para sa aking pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay. Kagalang-galang na Pangulo, Your Excellency, naisip ko na rin po na itigil ang imbestigasyon sa mga summary executions kung iyon ang gusto ninyo para lamang matigil ang mga personal na atake sa akin. Sumagi na rin po sa isipan ko na itigil ang imbestigasyon kapalit ng katahimikan sa aking buhay. Pero kapag ginawa ko po ito ay parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang sarili kong pagkatao, at itinatwa ang sarili kong mga paninindigan at paniniwala. Hindi na po ako ang tatayong kinatawan ng bayan sa Senado. Isang huwad na anyo ko na lamang ang tatayo doon. Para ko na rin pong ibinaon ang aking sariling pagkatao,” she continued.

De Lima said she is aware that the government is planning on filing charges against her and that she will be waiting for the right time to respond to those charges. That is, if Duterte’s government will give her the chance to defend herself.

She also said how she has received threats to stop criticizing Duterte’s way of governance, or she will be ruined.

“Matagal na po akong nakakatanggap ng mga impormasyon tungkol sa pag imbento ng mga ebidensya laban sa akin, at mga babala na sisiraan ako kung hindi ako tumigil sa tingin ninyong pagbatikos  at pagpuna sa inyong pamamalakad,” the senator said.

De Lima appealed to Duterte to give her the opportunity to defend herself, adding that she is merely a senator while he is the president.

“Pangulo po kayo. Senador lamang po ako. Patas na laban lamang po ang aking hinihingi. Sana ay ibigigay ninyo sa akin ang ibinigay na rin naman ng batas at Konstitusyon sa kahit na kaninong naaakusahan sa ilalim ng ating sistemang pang-legal,” she added.

She also appealed to the President to spare her colleagues and family from his attacks.

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“If you are bent on destroying me, please have the decency to spare my colleagues, friends, and family. Wala po silang kasalanan sa inyo,” de Lima said.

The neophyte senator gave the assurance that she will be fair and just in conducting the Senate investigation into the extrajudicial killings in the government’s campaign against drugs.

“Sa kabila nito, makakaasa po kayo na magiging patas at makatwiran ang aming gagawing imbestigasyon sa mga nagaganap na mga pagpatay sa inyong giyera laban sa droga,” she said.

She added that the end goal of the probe would be a stronger law for curbing criminality without compromising the human rights of suspected or innocent citizens.

“Sisiguraduhin naming na ang magiging resulta nito ay ang pagpapalakas ng batas para sa pagsugo ng kriminalidad na hindi naisasantabi ang karapatang pantao ng mga napaghinalaan man, o ng mga inosente nating kababayan,” de Lima said.

The senator urged everyone to stop threatening and shaming people and restore the peace by following the law and respecting people.

“Tama na po ang pananakot at panghihiya. Bumalik na po tayo sa kaayusan na dulot ng pag-iiral ng batas at simpleng respeto sa kapwa tao,” de Lima said.

“I have always been loyal to my oath as a public servant. I am not the enemy here. Stop portraying me as one,” she added.

De Lima’s full statement can be read here.

Palace says Duterte ‘fully understands his power’

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Duterte knows his executive power and does not reveal information to the public without basis.

“The President fully understands his power, the power of immunity. All the President is saying has basis and has vetting process,” Andanar said.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that Duterte was also offended by de Lima’s allegations linking summary executions to the government’s campaign against drugs.

“Apparently, [Duterte] is appalled by Senator De Lima’s history for jumping to conclusions about the President’s culpability without sufficient evidence, lack of appreciation of the magnitude of menace, and taking the opportunity to grandstand, in spite of the gravity of the situation,” Abella said in a statement.

Andanar added that Duterte only responded to de Lima’s “negative comments.”

“It just so happened that the President holds such information [about de Lima]. And we all know the history between the President and Senator De Lima that they are really trading barbs,” Sun Star quoted Andanar.

Sources: (web.facebook.com, newsinfo.inquirer.net, sunstar.com.ph)

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Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’

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President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks

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His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( rappler.comphilstar.com )

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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show

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Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.

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Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

Sources: ( tnt.abante.com.phphilstar.comrappler.com )

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal

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Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.

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In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

Sources: ( inquirer.netnews.abs-cbn.com , nnphilippines.com )

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