President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to meet with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad after watching the fight of Sen. Manny Pacquiao against Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, July 15.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the insurgency problem and terror threats will be discussed during the meeting.
Roque said the President had a phone conversation with the newly-elected Malaysian prime minister before Monday’s Cabinet meeting in Malacañang.
“He wants to talk about insurgency and IS (Islamic State). We will be there (in Malaysia on) July 16. After the boxing bout, will talk with Mahathir,” Roque quoted the President as saying during the Cabinet meeting.
The President’s visit will be a private trip and the President will probably stay three days at most although there are no final plans yet, Roque said.
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By Angie M. Rosales — July 10, 2018 12:05 AMPresident Rodrigo Duterte no longer wants to serve as a transition leader, if and when the federal constitution is in place by next year, as he announced his intention to step down to pave way for the new and younger leader to be elected by the public as “transition president.” Duterte made the announcement which not only came as a surprise but also shocked his Cabinet members during a meeting in Malacanang yesterday, shortly after the Chief Executive met with the members of the 22-man consultative committee that drafted the proposed federal constitution. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said this is a major turnaround from Duterte’s earlier statements as he had been consistent in the past in expressing his willingness to serve as a “transition leader” until his term ends on 2022. All these, however, will still depend on the public, whether they will approve of the new Constitution when it is presented in a plebiscite, possibly in 2019 of whether they already want Duterte to resign, the Palace official said. “So if the people don’t want to get rid of him, they will reject the federal constitution,” Roque said. “But I think he means it when he said that he will take all steps necessary to convince the people to change to a federal form of government and as a way of assuring them that he is not clinging on to power, he assured that he will step down immediately after the new constitution is approved. That’s what he said,” he said. “In fact, he specified that, well I guess he’s assuming that the new constitution will be approved by 2019 so he’s willing to step down in 2019,” Roque said. Term ends before 2022 “Now, ayaw na nya to go until 2022 (He doesn’t want to stay until 2022),” Roque said to reporters in an interview after the Cabinet meeting. Asked as to the reason behind the President’s change of heart, the Palace official said Duterte wants to put to an end the speculations on his supposed plan to remain in power beyond his term or beyond 2022, despite his repeated pronouncements that he’s willing to give way to the new leader even before the expiration of his term of office. “And secondly, it’s because he’s very, very tired already. He said he was very tired, he is old and maybe electing a transition leader would enable a younger leader to take over,” Roque said. “This is the first time that the President spoke about his plan not to remain in power beyond 2019. I myself was saddened by this as it came as a definite statement, that he wants to pave the way for a much younger leader,” he added. Last SoNA? Roque, thus, said Mr. Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SoNA) set to be delivered on July 23, his third, and could be his “last” will not be as lengthy as his previous ones. “I will read my SoNA speech which should not be more than 35 minutes,” Roque, quoting the President, said in his Twitter account. This will be a major departure from his previous speeches. His SoNA last year took two hours while the first one lasted beyond an hour and 30 minutes, the longest delivered SoNA recorded after the 1986 EDSA Revolution in terms of word count with around 12,527 words. Roque, however, made no assurance if the President will stick to his plan to read his speech or deliver his usual jokes and impromptu remarks. Prior to this, the President, through his spokesperson announced that he has “instructed the consultative committee to elect a transitional president.” “I am willing to cut my term to be co-terminus with the start of transition period. (The) committee agreed. This is to remove all suspicions (that I’m saying longer in power) and (also because) I am tired. (I am) ready to give it to somebody else,” Roque said in his Twitter account.
By Dinah S. Ventura — June 13, 2018 12:05 AM“The first ray should have been a Muslim ray,” Senator Richard Gordon told the Daily Tribune in a phone interview on Tuesday, Independence Day. Gordon was referring to the rays of the Sun on the Philippine Flag, which at present count stands at eight, representing the first provinces that revolted against Spain. For Gordon, principal author of Senate Bill 3307, better known as the Ninth Ray Bill, the contributions of Muslim Filipinos in the fight for independence should be recognized with that ray he wanted added to the eight. The eight rays represent Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac. “When you really come down to history, a Muslim called Lapu-Lapu, a Tausug, fought back right away when the Spaniards came. Inherent sa atin (It is inherent in us)...although we just mangled his memory – made him a fish, made him a murderer. He has been demonized throughout history. “To make a long story short, the Spaniards were never able to command Mindanao,” added Gordon, a History and Government major at the Ateneo de Manila University, who also took up law at the University of the Philippines. “As early as the 1500s, Sultan Kudarat told the Maranaos – hindi n’yo ba nakikita ang nagyayari sa Tagalog, sa Bisaya (don’t you see what is happening with the Tagalogs and Visayans)? They fought for several years. He united their minds, and he led Mindanao for 50 years – from 1634 to 1668. “The Muslims were not passive like the Tagalogs and Visayans. There were many of them: Amai Pakpak of Kota Marahui (now known as Camp Amai Pakpak), who led in 1891 and 1895 assaults. They fought against 5,000-strong Spanish forces...Our history is woefully lacking.” Naming other Muslim heroes who defended against and resisted invasion, fighting for months and conducting raids to defend their territories, Senator Gordon recalled his great-grandfather, who, he claimed, led the first victory of the revolution. In pushing the addition of a ninth ray, Gordon said the movement was born in 1969 among like-minded brothers at the University of the Philippines where Gordon became a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi, the oldest Greek letter fraternity in Asia, in 1968. Gordon said they called it the Muslim Progress Movement. Emmanuel L. Osorio, one of Ninth Ray movement’s founders, in an Inquirer report in 2013 explained the movement “believes that the flag must not only portray the freedom the country won through a revolution, but also the freedom that was preserved by Muslims and indigenous peoples.” Osorio, in the article, added the minority groups were not colonized and must be honored with a symbol like a ninth ray so “we can be one nation.” “It’s an abberation that only eight rays are in the flag,” Sen. Gordon opined. “My point is, they were not passive. They fought back, and the Moro call was head in many other parts of the country.” In 2008, Gordon sponsored Senate Bill No. 2590 to introduce a ninth ray to the flag by amending Republic Act No. 8491, also known as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines. Gordon’s bill was substituted by Senate Bill No. 3307 sponsored by Sen. Francis Escudero. On its third reading in September 2009, SB 3307 was approved. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence and consolidation with House Bill No. 6424 by the bicameral conference committee. The Senate and House of Representatives reconciled the versions of Senate Bill 3307 and House Bill 6424, which provides for the inclusion of additional ray in the sun. Gordon lauded the change, saying it would “foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion” and several Muslim group representatives expressed their “elation.” “This is a great step in recognizing the fact that we had Muslims such as Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat, Amai Pakpak, Sorongan, who kept fighting the Spaniards long before this country thought of a revolution against Spain,” he said. “This would foster unity, make sure that nobody is excluded. If we are to have national unity in this country it must begin in our flag, it must be symbolized in our flag,” Gordon said. “We take an amendment of the law here, but we actually amend the mindset of our countrymen and bring the nation back to its original posture, one that will not accept tyranny, one that will oppose tyranny. And we should give credit where credit is due,” he added. ‘Colonial hangover’ “Sila ang una (They were the first),” he pointed out. “We excluded them rather than include them.” Behind the stories of the national heroes who fought for our independence, added Sen. Gordon, lie the stories of our mostly-forgotten Muslim heroes, including Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat and Rajah Sulayman. By adding a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag, we not only “acknowledge the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos,” we also “teach our young people that we are a nation, united in our diversity.” Those who think otherwise, the senator adds, “want more division than unity. They are unenlightened, ignorant.” Citing an example, the senator asks, “Why did we make lapu-lapu a fish? Why do we say, who ‘killed’ Magellan? Why not ‘defeated’ Magellan? As I said in my message on our 120th Independence Day, we still have a ‘colonial hangover.’” The senator, in a Facebook post, said: “Today we celebrate the 120th anniversary of our independence and for the past 120 years, we are still inching towards freedom. But what is real independence? Independence is not just a word for commemoration, but a culture of self-help, self-reliance and cooperation.
By Associated Press — July 10, 2018 06:50 AMMAE SAI, Thailand — The generals and other officials overseeing the desperate operation to rescue 12 young soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave labyrinth in Thailand\'s sweltering far north were only half joking when they quipped Monday that success was in the hands of the rain god Phra Pirun. They were celebrating a second day of stunning triumph after divers guided four more boys Monday through tight passages and dank flooded caverns to safety. \"Two days, eight Boars,\" read a Facebook post by the Thai Navy SEALS of the dramatic rescue that began Sunday, more than two weeks after the members of the Wild Boars soccer team were trapped. Another five still await rescue, including the team\'s 25-year-old coach. The eight rescued boys were recuperating in a hospital from their ordeal huddled together on a tiny patch of higher ground where they had sought refuge after a rainstorm flooded the massive Tham Luan Nang Non cave complex as they were exploring it after soccer practice on June 23. Their families were being kept at a distance because of fears of infection and the emaciated-looking boys were eating a rice-based porridge because they were still too weak to take regular food, authorities said. Officials lavished praise on the Thai and international divers who, in pairs of two, executed the dangerous rescue mission, guiding the boys, who could barely swim and had no diving experience, through a treacherous 4-kilometer-long (2 1/2-mile) escape route that twisted and turned through the cavern. Highlighting the extreme dangers, a former Thai Navy SEAL died Friday while replenishing the oxygen canisters laid along the route to the boys\' damp refuge. But the chances of monsoon rains sending torrents of water into the cave and making the rescue effort too risky is never far from the minds of everyone involved in the operation. Alluding to that worry, the regional army commander offered his thanks Monday to the rain god Phra Pirun, imploring him to \"keep showing us mercy.\" \"Give us three more days and the Boars will come out to see the world, every one of them,\" Maj-Gen. Bancha Duriyapan told a news conference punctuated by applause from the dozens of Thai and foreign journalists and others in attendance. \"I beg Phra Pirun because the Meteorological Department said that from Monday on there will be continuous rain,\" Bancha said. \"If I ask too much, he might not provide it. So I\'ve been asking for three days.\" The plight of the boys, aged 11-16, and their coach, has riveted Thailand and much of the world — from the heart-sinking news they were trapped to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys brought back by the pair of British divers who found them after penetrating deep into the sprawling cave. Then came the letters carried out by the teams of divers who took oxygen, food and medicine to the boys\' refuge as experts pondered whether to dive them out or provision them for months while the monsoon season continues until at least late October. Writing in elegant Thai script, the boys urged their parents not to worry, adding that they hoped they wouldn\'t get too much homework after being rescued and couldn\'t wait to eat their favorite foods again. Their friends were full of optimism — and worry. Phuwadech Kamnguen, a 14-year-old best friend of one of the trapped boys, said he\'s looking forward to eating KFC with the team again. \"Even when my friends have left the cave, I\'m worried about their physical well-being. From what I\'ve seen in the clip, they did look skinny,\" he said. The boys\' nightmare experience — trapped in claustrophobic darkness by rising waters — resonated across the globe, riveting people both in Thailand and internationally who anxiously watched the news coming from this town along the border with Myanmar. After Monday\'s rescues, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the eight freed boys in the hospital where they had been taken by helicopter. Chiang Rai province\'s acting governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is in charge of the rescue, voiced confidence Monday in the ongoing operation, provided the weather doesn\'t take a turn for the worse. Workers have been laboring around the clock to pump water out of the cave, and officials said Monday that despite heavy downpours overnight, water levels inside the cave did not rise. More worrying, however, oxygen levels in the chamber where the boys sought refuge were falling. Narongsak said Monday\'s rescues involving 18 divers and a support team of 100 had taken nine hours, two fewer than the rescues on Sunday. \"We have more expertise than yesterday,\" he said. That sense of accomplishment was also reflected in the message posted Monday night on the Thai Navy SEALS\'s Facebook page announcing the latest rescues. It ended with their fighting cheer, adopted from the U.S. Navy: \"Hooyah!\" But bringing out the remaining four boys and their coach could take more than one operation, Narongsak warned. All preparations, including replacing the oxygen cylinders positioned along the route out in the cave, take at least 20 hours, he said. The safety of the divers, who have meticulously planned the mission, is also paramount. \"If Phra Pirun helps us, we might be able to do it very quickly,\" Narongsak said, again invoking the god of rain, who is widely revered in Thailand. \"But if Phra Pirun doesn\'t help, then it might be a little late.\" p: wjg