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Duterte says he did not ask US support after US Embassy says PH government requested for assistance

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President Rodrigo Duterte said on June 11 that he did not ask Washington for support to put an end to Marawi siege after the US Embassy revealed that that they provided technical support “at the request of the government of the Philippines.”

On June 9, US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina confirmed that the US forces are giving the Philippine military technical assistance since late May to free Marawi City from the Maute terror group. This confirmation came after a television network showed a US P3 Orion surveillance aircraft flying over Marawi City on Friday.

“At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operation forces are assisting the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) with ongoing operations in Marawi. The US non-combat support helps AFP commanders on the ground in their fight against Maute arnd ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) militants,” Koscina told the Philippine Star in an email in the evening of June 9.

The AFP also confirmed getting technical support from the Americans.

Koscina added that the US special operations forces have been assisting the Philippines, upon its request, for many years.

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“As we have with previous administrations, we routinely consult with our Filipino partners at senior levels to support the Duterte administration’s counterterrorism efforts,” she added.

She emphasized how the US is “a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries, including on counterterrorism issues.”

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla admitted to getting US technical assistance but gave no further details.

About rumors that some people have spotted American soldiers on the ground, Padilla told ANC the soldiers have been in Zamboanga for quite some time.

“The same (technical) assistance was requested by ground commanders to be provided to them on the ground in Marawi and this does not depart from the earlier arrangement that we have had with them in Western Mindanao Command for the areas of Jolo, Tawi-tawi, Basilan, and nearby areas. So I really don’t understand why there’s so much hype, why there’s so much attention being given to this, where in fact this is an existing arrangement, something that we have requested only to be deployed in Marawi  because there is an ongoing fight. Had we had these capabilities, we would not have requested,” Padilla said.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, another AFP spokesperson, also confirmed it but clarified that the Americans “are not fighting. They are just providing technical support.”

However, President Duterte said on Sunday emphasized that he was not the one who asked the US for help in Marawi City.

“I never approached any American to say, ‘Tumulong kayo.’ Maski wala man sila tulong. Siguro mayroon,” Duterte told the media at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City, after pinning medals on wounded soldiers who fought in Marawi.

“Nagpapasalamat na rin ako. Nandiyan nay an,” he said.

Of the assistance received from the US military, Duterte said that he was not “aware” of it.

“I am not aware of that, but under Martial Law, I gave the power to the defense department,” he said.

Duterte even said during his speech in Cagayan de Oro City that American soldiers have been helping in the fight against the terrorists, but the Department of Defense later told the media during a press briefing that not one American soldier was involved in the ground combat.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Command chief, said that Marawi operations were “basically all-Filipino.”

“The Americans assist us on the technical aspect. For example, if we want maps that are highly elaborate, we can ask from them. But in operational matters, we’re the ones doing these, no Americans involved,” Galvez said.

On Monday, June 12, the US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim declined to react to Duterte’s claim that he did not ask the US for help.

“I think we have already indicated that we have continued to provide counter-terrorism support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and that effort continues,” he said in an ambush interview during the 119th Independence Day celebration at Rizal Park in Manila.

“We have stated clearly that we will continue our cooperation and support for the AFP, and I don’t think it would be appropriate to go into the technical details of what we’re providing,” he added.

Pressed on who requested for assistance, Kim said, “Look, I don’t think it’s appropriate to get into details. All I can say is this is a cooperation that has continued for some time now, it’s a cooperation that’s appreciated by the Philippines military and it’s a cooperation that’s continued with the knowledge of the Philippines government and the AFP.”

While Duterte has been critical of the US government and its former President Barack Obama because of concerns over his war against drugs, Kim said that the US government will continue to support the Philippines, especially the military.

“I do think it’s important to note that this cooperation has continued throughout, across different administrations in the Philippines,” he said.

President Duterte said that the US President Donald Trump is “his friend.”

Duterte has declared martial law over the entire region of Mindanao since May 23 after the fighting erupted between the government forces and the Maute Group.

Sources: ( philstar.com , rappler.com , globalnation.inquirer.net )

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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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