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Election lawyer says Duterte’s plan to appoint barangay officials violates the Constitution

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President Rodrigo Duterte has been quite vocal lately about his plan to appoint barangay officials to stop narcopolitics. This move was supported by Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers, who filed House Bill 5359 on March 28, seeking to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections set for October 2017 to May 2020.

Barbers’ bill wants to terminate all incumbent officials upon the legislation’s effectivity and allow Duterte to appoint “officers-in-charge” (OICs) to fill barangay posts. He explained his bill like this:

“President Duterte said that he wants the October 2017 barangay elections postponed because he does not want those financed by drug lords to win. He further said that if the barangay elections would proceed as planned, the winners might be financed by drug money.”

Writing for Rappler, election lawyer Emil Marañon III took note of how Barbers’ bill carefully used “officers-in-charge” instead of appointed punong barangay to hopefully “deflect legal complications.” He added that regardless of its wording, the bill seeks to give Duterte the power to pick and appoint punong barangays instead of having them elected.

Marañon said that this is unconstitutional on at least five fronts:

  1. The 1987 Constitution mandates that local government positions, which include barangay posts, must be filled by election. There may be no straightforward declaration, but Marañon the intention is clear in the following provisions:
  • Article IX (C) Section 2.2: Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction…and appellate jurisdiction over all contests…involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
  • Article X, Section 8: The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.
  1. To make barangay officials appointive instead of elective, a constitutional amendment is necessary, not a legislative enactment.
  2. Article X, Section 8 states that Congress can only change the length of the terms of office of barangay officials, which means they can only decide on whether to extend or shorten the current three-year term for the said positions.
  3. Appointing barangay officials is a “threat” to the Constitution’s aim to provide decentralization. Article II, Section 25 states that the country should “ensure the autonomy of local governments.” Article X, Section 4 also pointed out that the President “shall exercise general supervision over local governments.”

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Marañon explained that this provision granted supervisory powers to the President, but also limits the central government’s meddling with the local government. He said that Barber’s House Bill 5359 aimed not expand the President’s authority beyond general supervision. Marañon added that it also gives Duterte the power to fire the same barangay officials that he appointed as well.

“Putting all barangay officials at the full mercy of the President is clearly beyond even the most liberal interpretation of “general supervision,” Marañon wrote.

“If we go further, following Representative Barbers’ and President Duterte’s logic, what is there to stop them from expanding the scheme to higher local government posts and have all of them simply appointed? None,” he added.

Marañon also expressed his concern over just how dangerous this bill could be as it will “put too much power in one person.”

“This is a dangerous precedent as it would not only effectively lump the supposedly decentralized local governments to the executive department, but will put too much power in one person, the dangers of which this country is too familiar with,” he wrote.

  1. Duterte’s plan and Barbers’ bill to appoint barangay officials is a “direct assault” on democracy. The power to choose barangay officials should be in the hands of the people.

Article II, Section 1 states that “[s]overeignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them,” Marañon said.

“House Bill 5359 is an attempt of Congress to wrestle this remaining sovereignty from the people. Unfortunately, this power is not for Congress to give to the President, for the simple reason that it cannot give what it does not have in the first place,” he concluded.

Marañon served as chief of staff of former Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.

Sources: ( rappler.com , cnnphilippines.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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