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Fariñas slammed for asking immunity for congressmen from traffic violations

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House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas asked traffic enforcers on September 18 to excuse lawmakers from arrest for minor traffic violations, given the importance of their role in legislative processes.

Fariñas cited parliamentary immunity during a hearing by the House transportation committee. He said it states that no member of Congress may be held liable for any violation punishable by not more than six years in prison while Congress is in session.

“Bakit? Kasi kami ay representatives ng Filipino people. Nai-impeach si Presidente, magbobotahan kami sa committee whether he will be impeached or not,” Fariñas said.

“E bibitinin nila ako, titiketan mo, hindi ako makakaboto o hindi kami makakaboto,” he added.

He asked the Department of Transportation and the Inter-Agency Committee on Traffic’s officials during the hearing to tell their enforcers not to arrest lawmakers on their way to attend a session at the Batasang Pambansa Complex.

“Strikto po ako ngayon, kapag 4 p.m., kandado ‘yung pinto, magro-roll call po kami. E sa traffic po ngayon, lalong kinakailangan ang probisyon na ito,” he said. “Kaya nga po maski maka-omit ng offense, tsaka na hulihin.”

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He further explained that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez may surrender the erring lawmaker to the authorities once the session is done.

“Kapag napakita na talagang congressman siya, ‘wag niyong dalhin sa presinto. Kasi kapag dinala niyo sa presinto, hindi na siya makakapag-perform. Ito ay nasa Saligang Batas ‘yan,” Fariñas said.

“Kung murder talagang mabigat yun, imbestigahan na. Pero kung mga minor offenses, lalo na sa traffic, kung nagpakilala naman at kami’y nakikiusap sa inyo, escortan niyo na. Kung sasabihin niya na importante yung hinahabol niya sa Kongreso, makikita niyo naman yun, asikasuhin niyo na para matutugunan namin ang aming trabaho,” Fariñas added.

Lawmakers disagree

However, other lawmakers disagreed with Fariñas’ stance on the issue.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said as lawmakers, they should be model citizens.

“Dapat ay ay maging huwaran ang mga mambabatas para tuparin ang mga ito,” Zarate said in a statement. “Mga simpleng empleyado, kawani o maging mga mambabatas o matataas na opisyal ay lahat apektado talaga sa malalang traffic.”

“Lalo nitong patitingkarin na may ibang batas para sa may kapangyarihan at sa karaniwang tao,” Zarate further said on the issue.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that Fariñas’ statement was uncalled for.

“It sends the wrong message that there is no speed limit for representatives during session days,” Lagman said in a statement.

He also noted how lawmakers usually have their drivers or security aides drive for them, which meant parliamentary immunity won’t apply to them.

“To my knowledge, no representative has been detained or arrested for a traffic violation and no incumbent has asked for any immunity from arrest or detention for a traffic infraction,” Lagman said.

MMDA clarifies

Asked on how they would handle it if Fariñas will push through with asking for “parliamentary immunity” for lawmakers involved in minor traffic violations, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that it would support the lawmakers’ wish. However, they would still wait for Fariñas’ official request and present it to the Metro Manila Council (MMC) for approval.

MMDA later released a statement, saying that “the agency cannot be selective in implementing traffic laws because this will definitely create double standard.”

“MMDA cannot exempt anyone from the law. It has no power to do so. Fariñas did not ask an exemption from the law but a courtesy of deferment with the guarantee of Congress that any minor traffic violation will be resolved after the congressional session,” the statement read.

“Exemptions from traffic procedure have been and continue to be granted, to various sectors like doctors, PWDs, diplomats from other countries, etc. These are not exemptions from law but procedure because MMDA has no authority to exempt anyone from the law,” it added.

Netizens react

Social media users hit Fariñas for claiming parliamentary immunity.

‘Great power comes with law immunity?’

‘Naghahari-harian.’

Sources: ( gmanetwork.com , philstar.com , .inquirer.net , interaksyon.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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