Category Archives: Politics

Conspiracy in PH purchase of dengvaxia?


PHILIPPINE Senator Richard J. Gordon on Wednesday said he sees “conspiracy” in the government’s procurement of P3.5-billion Dengvaxia vaccines from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur because the budget for the procurement of the vaccine was not even part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) since there was no assurance yet that the vaccine was safe to be administered.
He said he was also astounded by the undue speed in the procurement process for the Dengvaxia Vaccine, the administration of which to at least 830,000 people is now turning into the country’s major health nightmare.<!–more–>
Gordon, chairman of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations or Blue Ribbon, on Wednesday said the committee’s second hearing on the dengue vaccine mess only stressed that the process of procurement appeared to be expedited.
“The process was too fast, it seems they were in haste. Usual process was not prepared for implementation of a new vaccination program. We saw it during hearing in December last year that after every meetings abroad between Sanofi executives and President (Benigno) Aquino or Secretary (Janette Loreto-) Garin, there should be new development in the procurement process,” he said.
“Merong very, very strong signs na parang may conspiracy. Unang-una, wala sa GAA yung budget para sa dengue vaccine. Pangalawa, isiningit lang nila yan, gumawa sila ng paraan para isingit. Kaya nakakapagtaka, bisita ka nang bisita tapos bigla kang magmamadali, isisingit mo yung dengue vaccine. Halatang may nag-mani-obra. Pwedeng para pambaon or para sa boto, we do not know yet. It is very suspicious kasi na ang target areas for implementation ay Regions 3, 4-A and NCR, mga areas na may malalaking boto,” he said.
During the hearings, it was established that Aquino met with Sanofi executives on November 9, 2014 in Beijing, China and again on December 1, 2015, at the sidelines of the Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. In between the two meetings, Garin, who was also present at the December 1 meeting, met with the Sanofic officials on May 14 and 15, 2015 in France.
After Aquino’s last meeting with Sanofi executives, events seemed to have snowballed at such a speed that, in the same month, a proposal to the Department of Budget and Management for Health Facilities Enhancement Program Funding and Procurement of three million doses of dengue vaccine was submitted; the Food and Drugs Administration issued a Certificate of Product Registration for Dengvaxia; and a Special Allotment Release Order was issued.
By January 21 of the following year, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) which was designated as the procuring agency, issued a purchase request to Zuelllig Pharma, Sanofi’s sole distributor in the Philippines and the submission and opening of bids was scheduled for February. News reports said that by February 11, the first batch of shipment arrived in the country. It was also established that funds were only transferred to the PCMC on March 8, 2016 and the PCMC issued a purchase order on March 9.
“A scintilla of doubt creates a tsunami of discredit. The intention to prevent dengue infection was good but it opened health risks to those who haven’t had dengue infections before. And I’m greatly bothered that they used the taxpayer’s money with undue haste to purchase something that resulted in the harm of younger generations. This is not a bridge, this is not a school. This is about the LIFE and DEATH of our children,” he stressed.

ASEAN studies on woman affected by disasters


THE ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Philippines completed in July 2017 its thematic study on women affected by natural disasters.
Among other things, the study found out that natural disasters tend to increase and multiply the risks of vulnerable groups, such as women, and bring about an extremely difficult circumstance of displacement.
Vulnerable groups need immediate and sustained protection as well as the opportunity to participate in deciding on programs that seek to benefit them.<!–more–>
The study involved gathering of data from ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) to build the natural disaster context of the region. The researchers also looked at their existing institutional infrastructure on disaster and emergency preparedness and response, and on how gender has become associated with various instruments and mechanisms in each country such as national laws, policy directives, and/or action plans.
The views of non-government actors and women beneficiaries were taken for this thematic study. From these data sources, the study mapped out shared institutional practices on responding to women’s concerns and needs in natural disaster contexts. Likewise, the study identified common areas of concern to build programs that will collectively ensure the human rights of women in difficult situations.
The Political Science Department of the Ateneo de Manila University, the academic partner of AICHR Philippines for the thematic study, conducted field visits in all ten AMS to ensure data accuracy as well as interactions with target respondents.


Suu Kyi touches on women’s role


MYANMAR State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday centered her vision of prosperity for all on women economic empowerment and human capital development during her keynote at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017.
Suu Kyi was amongst the state leaders to be invited by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, to impart their own perspective on achieving inclusive growth in the region. To open the summit, Suu Kyi touched on ASEAN economic milestones paralleled with Myanmar’s distinct view on development and the central role women play.<!–more–>
“Since 2004, ASEAN’s GDP growth has reached 5%, outpacing that of any other region. Myanmar, as a member of the ASEAN family, has been growing rapidly as we roll out rigorous reforms and structural changes in every sector. I would also like to mention that our young entrepreneurs are amongst the most vigorous of them all. I am very much happy to discover that in the recent seminar of young entrepreneurs, 49% of them are women,” Suu Kyi shared to delegates, eliciting applause.
Suu Kyi underlined the importance in investing on people-based initiatives and solutions in their nation’s course towards development and integration amidst years of isolation and turmoil. “As a responsible member of the ASEAN family, we will work together to be more connected and integrated economically and socially. In the process of such integration, human capital, and intellectual resources play a pivotal role in filling the gap between diverse ASEAN countries at different stages of economic and social development,” Suu Kyi said. From this, Suu Kyi further elaborated on her people-based vision, founded on unleashing women’s latent economic power. “More and more women entrepreneurs have emerged to participate vigorously in [Myanmar’s] transformation, demonstrating the increasing importance of women not only in the social but also in the economic sphere,” she said.
Many women entrepreneurs are classified as MSMEs; Suu Kyi recognized the multitude of challenges MSMEs face, and for women in this sector, there is the added crutch of gender discrimination. And gender discrimination leading to a gender gap in various opportunities is a stark reality many feel in the ASEAN. “To achieve positive changes in women’s rights, it is important to increase number of girls enrolling in primary and secondary schools, improve the participation of women in the labor force, ensure better maternal care outcomes, provide social protection measures, and promote the role of women in decision making,” she proposed as steps to move towards gender equality. Suu Kyi wrapped up her keynote by challenging the current popular view on development. “What is empowerment for? What is development about? Is it simply to develop our countries materially or to develop ourselves to become better human beings?,” she said, “Myanmar, as a young democracy started with many, many challenges has become fully aware to the need for development of peoples as human beings not just economic powerhouses.”

ASEAN tackles politics


FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday hosted and chaired the 16th ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting in Manila in preparation for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
The APSC is one of the three Pillars of ASEAN, with the function of ensuring an inclusive, responsive, and resilient ASEAN in addressing challenges to regional peace and security. <!–more–>
The Meeting was attended by all Foreign Ministers of the ten (10) ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretary General.
During the Meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed important developments in the APSC Pillar, which includes ASEAN Sectoral Bodies such as the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting, and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime, among others.
They also discussed the progress of implementation of the APSC Blueprint 2025.
The Philippines is also expected to highlight the regional initiatives and efforts that it has undertaken in line with the thematic priorities of its Chairmanship of ASEAN this year.



World leaders coming to PH


WORLD leaders are expected to arrive in the Philippines this weekend to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Manila.
Most of the leaders will land at Clark International Airport, over 100 kilometers from the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, the venue for the majority of the meetings.
Before the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits kick off on Monday, Nov. 13, some ASEAN leaders are expected to grace the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 to launch the ASEAN Business Advisory Councils’ (ABAC) flagship project, the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).<!–more–>
According to ABAC, it invited President Rodrigo Duterte, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Myanmar State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
They will be joined by other ASEAN leaders in the evening for a gala dinner. After which, the ASEAN leaders will be meeting their counterparts in the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Retreat that will include Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, India, United States, and Russia.
On Monday, there will be an opening ceremony for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
This will be followed by the 31st ASEAN Summit Plenary Session.
The 10 ASEAN leaders will be meeting Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang at the 20th ASEAN-China Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the 20th ASEAN-Japan Summit, and Korean President Moon Jae-in for the 19th ASEAN- Republic of Korea Summit.
ASEAN leaders will also attend the 9th ASEAN-United Nations Summit and meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres.
On the same day, the leaders will also have interface sessions with the private sector–the ASEAN BAC and the East Asia Business Council, where Li, Abe, and Moon will join the ASEAN leaders in this meeting.
By Tuesday, the 12th East Asia Summit and the 15th ASEAN-India Summit will take place.
During the two-day summit, four commemorative summits will be held: the 5th ASEAN-US Summit to commemorate the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations; the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Commemorative Summit; ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative Summit; and ASEAN-European Union 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit.
The 10 ASEAN leaders and leaders of its dialogue partners — Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, and India — will meet for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit.
Also on Tuesday, the Philippines will hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship to Singapore for the ASEAN Summit 2018.


PHP1B for distressed workers abroad

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte was reported to have approved for a PHP1-billion budget to assist distressed Filipinos abroad in 2018, from previous PHP600 million.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expects to start implementing “liberal” guidelines for the provision of assistance to nationals (ATN) to all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress by next year.���
Raul Dado, DFA Executive Director for Migrant Workers Affairs, said Friday the new guidelines are up for review by Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.��

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has yet to verify or uncover any destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte and the government, a military official said late Thursday.
“We will be conferring with other government agencies. But in so far as the AFP is concerned, we have not monitored any such destabilization plan,” AFP chief of public affairs, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said.
Arevalo reiterated that the military would not allow any attempt to undermine the stability of the government.
“We will frustrate any effort that will cause the disruption of our democratic way of life. That is, and shall always be, our commitment to the nation and our people,” he added.

261 PH-US military exercises in 2018

THREE events higher than scheduled this year, American and Filipino military units will have a total of 261 exercises for 2018.
This was disclosed Thursday in a press briefing by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Major Gen. Restituto Padilla.
This announcement came in wake of the just-concluded Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board held in Hawaii last week.

Complaint vs PH senator filed

PHILIPPINE Senator Richard J. Gordon filed on Monday night an ethics complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over his repeated display of unparliamentary conducts and disorderly behavior, the latest of which was exhibited during last Thursday’s hearing on the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) from China.
Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee which is conducting the investigation on the shabu shipment, requested the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges to conduct an investigation to the end of penalizing Trillanes accordingly.

PH senator speaks of P6.4B drug import

“I got to know Mr. Kenneth Dong when a friend introduced him to me several years ago. I was told that he is a legitimate businessman and an importer of Asuki industrial weighing scales. I consider him a friend but I do not know what his dealings and businesses are except for his ownership of Asuki.”
This was the statement Wednesday of Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri on the alleged involvement of Mr. Kenneth Dong on the P6.4 billion drug importation seized in Valenzuela City.
Zubiri said Dong made him “Ninong” (godfather) at his wedding and he was only one of many senators, politicians and celebrities who were asked to be principal sponsor.