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ICC will start ‘preliminary examination’ into Duterte’s bloody war against drugs

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Malacañang divulged that it has received notification from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the organization would start its preliminary explanation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government due to its war on drugs.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the ICC informed the Philippine government of the initial proceedings on the communication that Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio had filed against Duterte and 11 senior officials in April of 2017.

Duterte, who was informed of the development, expressed that he is willing to face the ICC if the charges would progress in the international tribunal.

The President, Roque said, “is sick and tired of being accused of crimes against humanity,” and takes this opportunity to clear his name.

On February 8, Bensouda released a statement that said she would carefully review the allegations of human rights violations against Duterte.

“Specifically, it has been alleged that since 1 July 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing,” Bensouda said.

“While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extra-judicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations,” she added.

No need to claim victory

Roque, an international law expert, explained the difference between a preliminary examination and preliminary investigation, a move that determines whether or not an accused will be indicted or put to trial before the ICC.

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He explained that a preliminary examination would determine if there is basis to conduct a formal investigation into the complaint against Duterte.

The presidential spokesperson also clarified that there was no case filed against Duterte because what Sabio filed was a mere communication.

Roque said that no one should claim victory because the communication does not indict the president. He added that this was only done to embarrass the President but being a lawyer, Duterte also knows the procedure. Roque is confident that the procedures “will fail.”

Roque defended Duterte’s drug war, saying it is a “valid exercise of sovereign powers” and not a crime against humanity.

“As a sovereign state, the Philippines has the inherent responsibility to protect its current and future generations by effectively addressing threats of the safety and well-being of its citizens such as proliferation of illegal drugs,” Roque said.

Malacañang has maintained that the government’s war on drugs was “lawful” and “legitimate.”

For his part, lawyer Sabio said in his communication that Duterte has committed crimes against humanity and has turned killing drug suspects and other criminals as the “best practice” in his drug war.

Sabio is the legal counsel of the self-confessed hitman Edgar Motabato, who testified in the Senate that he was part of the Davao City death squad that operated following Duterte’s orders. He added that he is vindicated and that he is confident that the communication will hurdle the ICC’s preliminary examination.

“Hopefully a warrant of arrest will be issued by the ICC against Duterte and his cohorts,” the Philippine Star quoted Sabio.

ICC conducts preliminary examination into all communications

According to ICC’s website, the Office of the Prosecutor conducts preliminary examination on all of the communications and situations brought to their attention based on the statutory criteria and information available.

The Philippines, last year, warned it might be forced to reassess its ICC membership, saying it is used by opposition group to destabilize the Duterte administration.

Human rights watchdogs have repeatedly expressed alarm over the fatalities of Duterte’s drug war, saying they were victims of extrajudicial killings committed by cops. Duterte’s ferocious war on drugs has been a hallmark of his 30-year political career.

One-on-one meeting

Duterte himself commented on the preliminary examination set for his drug war, saying that he wanted to have a one-on-one meeting with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

“I hope you come. And I hope that we can be together in a room. I would ask for that rare privilege of talking to you. The two of us in a room with no [one else,]” the President said in a press conference in Davao City on February 9.

If found guilty, Duterte said, “Go ahead. So be it.”

However, he said he would challenge the ICC prosecutor to also consider the Philippines’ “miserable agony” and references the death of an OFW, whose body was found in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait.

He addressed Bensouda, telling her not only to be concerned over the lives of criminals, but also the
“miserable agony of my country.”

Sources: ( Philippine Star, ABS-CBN News, SunStar )

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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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‘Baduy’: Comelec spox calls out candidates imposing their face on Avenger images for campaign posters

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Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez called out barangay and SK election candidates who edit their faces onto the images of the Avengers.

Jimenez addressed the candidates through his Twitter account, where he said the candidates who use such tactic during the campaign period are “dumbing down the elections.”

He tweeted, “#BSKE2018 candidates who use campaign posters with their faces superimposed on the bodies of Avengers are dumbing down the elections. Paano yan? Kung sino na lang ang may pinaka-“cool” na poster, ganun?”

He even mentioned the risk that these candidates may be sued for copyright infringement.

“Ginagawa nyong bobo ang mga botante. Ma-copyright infringement sana kayo,” he continued.

In a separate tweet, Jimenez said that putting their faces on the bodies of the Avengers is definitely not a cool move but a “baduy” one.

“Oh, and btw, actually hindi cool yun ipapalit nyo yung mukha nyo sa mukha ng isang Avenger. Baduy yun,” he tweeted.

However, Jimenez said that the Comelec does not have the authority to ban the use of such campaign posters because it can already be considered as “content-based prior restraint.” He added that the poll body only has control over the size of the posters used and where they are displayed, which should be in the “common poster areas” previously determined by Comelec election officers.

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The posters will only be deemed illegal “if it is posted outside of the common poster area,” Jimenez said.

But even then, there is an exception to the rule – “to display the materials on private property with the permission of the owner,” he added.

On April 11, Comelec released a resolution prohibiting campaign materials to be posted on trees, electrical wires, light posts, waiting sheds, schools, bridges, traffic signs, sidewalks, public shrines, barangay halls, airports, health centers, seaports, public transport terminals, trains and train stations, ambulances, government patrol cars, underpasses and overpasses, public announcement boards, and center islands.

According to Comelec Resolution No. 10294, candidates can only use posters that are up to 2 feet by 3 feet in dimension. Rally streamers should not be bigger than 3 feet by 8 feet and should be taken down right after the event.

The same resolution cited that “any and all election propaganda should bear and be identified by the reasonably legible or audible words ‘political advertisement paid for’ followed by true and correct name of the candidate, as well as the words ‘printed free of charge’ or ‘airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge.”

The nine-day campaign period for the barangay and SK elections started at 12 a.m. on May 4 and will continue until May 12, two days before the election on May 14.

Sources: ( philstar.comcnnphilippines.com )

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