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Defense chief clarifies white paper on P15.5-B warship project came from Malacañang, not Bong Go

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified on January 17 that the white paper on the P15.5 billion project for Navy warship acquisition that he initially noted to have from Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go actually came from Malacañang, not Go himself.

Lorenzana made the clarification to the reporters on January 17 at the sidelines of the oral arguemnts on the martial law extension in Mindanao and confirmed that it was him who wrote the marginal note identifying Go as the source of the document endorsing a certain foreign supplier for the warship purchase for the Philippine Navy.

“In this document, nakalagay it was given to me by Bong Go. I assumed it came from him. Hindi naman sa kanya galling personally. But it came to me while I was in Malacañang,” the defense chief explained.

“I can no longer remember. Hindi ko nga matandaan itong ang papel na ito unless nakita ko pangalan ko diyan. It was my handwriting. It was actually written by me in January 12, 2017. This is one year ago. Nakalimutan ko na. Hindi rin alam ni Bong Go na binigay sa akin. So ang conclusion ko dito, somebody gave it to me in Malacañang. So I assumed na galing kay Bong Go,” he added.

With that assumption, he sent the note to former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Mercado.

“So I assumed. I forwarded it to Mercado, who in turn gave it to [Rear Admiral Robert] Empedrad, who was still the project management leader,” Lorenzana said.

Mercado also clarified that Go never involved himself in the project.

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“When I was FOI (Flag Officer in Command), he never – with so many times we were together in many foreign navy ships – [intervened]. There was never an instance, not once that he even asked me about the frigate,” Mercado said.

Mercado was relieved from his position when he stuck with the Combat Management System (CMS) supplier that the Navy wanted for its warships and said he was hurt by this move.

Lorenzana said that the white paper came from Hanhwa, the South Korean supplier of the CMS that the warship builder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) wanted to have installed in their ships. The Navy’s technical working groups, however, chose Tacticos Thales from the Netherlands as their CMS supplier.

Asked how Hanwha’s white paper reached Malacañang, considering how the document was given to him at the Palace, he could not offer an explanation and did not know whether the supplier had a meeting in Malacañang.

Lorenzana said that a separate meeting, though, happened between Empedrad and Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Undersecretary Christopher Lao, who is now serving as the House and Land Use Regulatory Board CEO and commissioner.

Go runs the PMS.

The defense chief said he was not called for that meeting and failed to explain why Empedrad would be involve in a meeting with Malacañang over the CMS supplier selection.

President Rodrigo Duterte confronted Rappler reporter Pia Ranada over this report about Go and his alleged intervention in the process of determining the supplier, even calling Rappler as a “fake news outlet.”

“For your information, you can stop your suspicious mind from roaming somewhere else. But since you are a fake news outlet then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake,” Duterte told Ranada.

“Sumobra kayo, you are not only throwing toilet paper, you are throwing shit at us,” he added.

Duterte also hit the headline of the article, saying “Look at your headline, is that really the work of a sensible person?”

The President then said that he would fire Go if Rappler can prove their claims in the article.

“If you can find proof, I will ask Bong to resign tomorrow. Work on it tonight. Let me know tomorrow and I will fire him if he did intervene,” Duterte said.

Duterte did admit that Go’s office in PMS receives reference papers and complaints and is responsible for sending those papers to concerned agencies.

“We are just an office that receives complaints or papers for reference and we transmit them to the proper agency. We do not get any money,” the President said.

Go earlier denied allegations of his intervention in the multi-billion project.

“I have not intervened in the procurement of [Department of National Defense] of its computer system for its ships. I have not participated nor intervened, directly or indirectly, in the transactions of DND. Further, I even have no information nor knowledge of the said transaction. Clarification on the issues should be addressed to SND Lorenzana,” Go said.

Sources: ( rappler.com.gmanetwork.com )

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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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