A former member of the House committee on legislative franchises has warned that President Rodrigo Duterte has the final say on whether ABS-CBN will be allowed to operate after the lapse of its franchise on March 30.

Duterte can order military to shut down ABS-CBN, Ridon says

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

A former member of the House committee on legislative franchises has warned that President Rodrigo Duterte has the final say on whether ABS-CBN will be allowed to operate after the lapse of its franchise on March 30.

Infrawatch convenor and former Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon made the remarks following the assurances from senior congressmen and senators that the Lopez-owned media conglomerate can continue its broadcast beyond the term of its franchise.

Ridon stressed that “while the strong views of congressmen and senators on ABS-CBN’s franchise holdover are very comforting to the network, its employees and advocates of press freedom, we should be reminded that the President can still order the uniformed personnel and other agencies to literally and figuratively shutdown the network after March 30.”

“With no favorable presidential pronouncement in sight, the public should brace for this unfortunate prospect. Wide public support remains key to stop an escalation from happening,” said Riddon.

Ridon stressed that instenad issuing assurances, congressmen “should also convince the President to take a similar position.”

He explained that without convincing the President, “the legislators’ assurances of a franchise holdover carry no weight.”

“Will we see them at the gates of ABS-CBN when the President’s proverbial tanks come crashing the network? Probably not,” he added.

Ridon said the swelling of public support for the network should instead be the one to convince the highest levels of government to reconsider the impending shutdown.

Ridon said that ultimate accountability at this point “rests on Congress and no one else, not even the President.”

“The onus is on no one else except Congress. Citing the lack of time or justifying the delay due to other important concerns is an absolute cop-out,” said Ridon.

“As in all legislative measures, pag gusto maraming paraan. Pag talagang ayaw, maraming dahilan. If they feel that the franchise should be rejected, let the sword fall where it should,” he added.

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Allegations ain’t enough: NY guv Cuomo refuses to resign amid sexual harassment scandal

By Agence France-Presse

Embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo dug in further on Sunday, refusing again to resign despite criticism from influential fellow Democrats over a sexual harassment scandal.

“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” the governor said, speaking after Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the New York state senate, said he should step down “for the good of the state.”

“There is no way I resign,” Cuomo said.

Stewart-Cousins said in a statement that the harassment allegations against Cuomo by former aides came at a critical time, as the state battles Covid-19 and amid allegations that Cuomo’s administration mishandled its initial pandemic response.

“We need to govern without daily distraction,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Governor Cuomo must resign.”

Carl Heastie, the Democratic leader of the lower chamber, the state assembly, issued a statement shortly afterward saying, “I think it is time for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” the New York Times reported.

Cuomo, initially praised for his state’s handling of the pandemic, has suffered a spectacular fall from grace, with Republicans and his accusers also calling for his resignation.

One former aide, Lindsey Boylan, has alleged that the governor gave her an unsolicited kiss on the lips and suggested that they play strip poker, allegations he has denied.

“I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said Wednesday, while adding that he now understood that he had made his accusers feel “uncomfortable.”

“It was unintentional. And I truly, and deeply apologize,” he said.

State Attorney General Letitia James is leading an inquiry into the allegations.

Lalaki’t babae, pantay! Elevate women in society – Duterte

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged Filipinos to increase the role that women play in society and break remaining barriers for their empowerment.

“Let us elevate women to their rightful place in society by empowering every Filipina to break not only the barriers that have long hindered them from reaching their full potential, but also the backward mindset that fueled a culture of gender oppression and inequality,” Duterte said in his message during the Women’s Month Celebration.

The Chief Executive claimed that his government has taken “concrete, sustainable and inclusive actions” to ensure women’s rights and contributions are recognized.

He likewise enjoined everyone to help amplify the voice of women and promote their participation in the economies to the same level as men.

“While there is still much to be done to completely free women from this bondage of inequality, we can nonetheless proudly claim that concrete, sustainable, and inclusive actions have been taken by our government to create an environment where women’s rights are respected and their contributions to society are recognized,” said Duterte.

“I therefore encourage every Filipino to join us in celebrating the indispensable role of women in our nation’s progress by participating in this month-long celebration and supporting advocacies that seek to fight for and acknowledge the inalienable rights of women as equal partners of men,” he added.

Keep ’em coming! 38K AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrive in PH

The Philippines received another 38,400 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines on Sunday night.

The delivery from Amsterdam via a KLM Asia flight arrived around 7 p.m.

National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the deliveries completed the expected 525,600 doses secured by the national government that is part of the first round of allocated doses from the COVAX Facility, a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable access to vaccines led by the World Health Organization and Gavi Alliance.

“Sa ngayon meron na po tayong 1.1 million doses para sa ating mga (As of now, we already have 1.1 million doses of vaccines for our) healthcare workers,” Galvez said in an interview at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City.

The vaccine will be immediately deployed to high-risk communities. The initial 487,200 doses arrived on March 4.

A total of 54,500 AstraZeneca doses have been sent to hospitals in National Capital Region (NCR), Region 4-A (Calabarzon) and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

NCR got 1,500, Calabarzon received 13,000, CAR 10,000 doses, and Central Luzon 20,000.

“For this week, to all regions, we will be deploying 240,720 doses,” he said.

Based on the resolution submitted by the Department of Health and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, the government will prioritize vaccine deployment to Covid-19 high risks areas such as NCR, Central Visayas, Calabarzon, Region 11 (Davao) and other areas in CAR.

“With the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines in the country — all 525,600 doses — there is no doubt that the WHO-led COVAX is committed to carry out its crucial role of ensuring that less-developed nations have equitable access to life-saving vaccines,” Galvez said.

He cited the recommendations made by the vaccine expert panel and President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to allocate all the vaccines arriving this month to healthcare workers.

“The Duterte administration is doing its best to secure the vaccine doses it would need to inoculate all medical front-liners and healthcare workers in the country within this month,” he said.

The government is targeting to complete the inoculation of healthcare workers within March and start with other priority sectors by April. (PNA)

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