US President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted support for his controversial pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, after reports she might withdraw her nomination to avoid a Senate grilling over her past involvement in torture.

Trump urges CIA pick with torture history to stay on board

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By: Agence France-Presse

US President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted support for his controversial pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, after reports she might withdraw her nomination to avoid a Senate grilling over her past involvement in torture.

Gina Haspel — who has a long career in the CIA’s clandestine service and currently serves as its deputy director — ran the agency’s “black box” interrogation cell in Thailand after the September 11 attacks.

She is set to face a tough confirmation hearing Wednesday after a number of lawmakers, including Republican senator John McCain — who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam — raised reservations over her past involvement in the torture of detainees.

“My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists,” the Republican president tweeted early Monday.

“Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!”

Citing senior officials, The Washington Post said Sunday Haspel herself had indicated she would withdraw her nomination over the prospect of a tough Senate hearing that could damage the top espionage body’s reputation and her own.

Trump had decided to push her to stay the nominee, according to the paper.

Haspel, 61, is widely respected in the intelligence community as a disciplined, non-political field agent who took on hardship positions and unsavory jobs. After becoming the CIA’s deputy director one year ago, Trump nominated her for the agency’s top job to replace the former director Mike Pompeo, recently confirmed as the top US diplomat.

According to numerous reports, key Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were brutally interrogated, slammed against walls, and repeatedly waterboarded in 2002 in Thailand. Haspel was reportedly involved in the CIA’s destruction of videotapes recording the interrogations.

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Para laging handa: Ruffy Biazon wants tourism workers trained in first aid

By Billy Begas

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon has moved for the approval of the measure that will make first aid training mandatory for tourism workers to boost the safety and security of domestic and international travelers in the country.

Biazon said House Bill 8781 will make every worker in tourism establishments, tourism-oriented organizations and other persons providing tourism-related services a certified first-aiders capable of giving immediate assistance and care to tourists in need.

HB 8781 is pending for second reading approval.

“Many instances in my experience as a tourist, I have encountered tourism service providers who lack not only trained first aiders but even a basic first aid kit,” Biazon said.

Under the measure required employees will undergo basic first aid training provided by the Philippine Red Cross or other reputable training institutions that shall issue the appropriate training certification.

Biazon said that the passage of the bill into law will add to the “plus points” of Philippine tourism, providing more value to the country as a tourist destination.

“We are experiencing growth in our tourism industry because as the world has gotten smaller with social media, more and more people from other countries are seeing parts of the Philippines that attract them to visit the Pearl of the Orient,” Biazon said.

He said that if in the past, the government had to pour in resources to place ads, commercials, and other traditional means of drumming up publicity to entice tourists to include the Philippines in their travel plans, nowadays, anyone with a camera phone and a social media account can promote the country with an upload of a picture.

Negosyante lang makikinabang: Salceda opposes lower tariff for imported pork

By Billy Begas

The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means opposed on Monday (March 8) the plan of the Department of Agriculture to reduce the tariff imposed on imported pork products.

Based on the study, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said lowering the tariff from 40% to 5% will only result in a 50-centavo decrease in the consumer pork prices.

“This is not worth the pain it will cause farmers, and it is certainly not worth the trouble of more inspections,” said Salceda.

He explained that with the current tariff of 40%, the price of imported pork product will be around P187 per kilo.

“Only the big supermarkets and importers will benefit from a tariff reduction. They will already make very big money at current tariff price,” Salceda added.

He also warned that the unnecessary tariff reduction could hurt the domestic swine industry, of which 71% is backyard production. “In a crisis like this, hurting a major source of revenues for household farms is unconscionable.”

In maintaining the tariff, Salceda suggested that the revenue generated should be used to solve the domestic supply problem of pork similar to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Under RCEF, a portion of the tax collected from imported rice went to programs intended for farmers.

“The more sensible approach is to fix our Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) system, our imports inspection and quarantine system, and to streamline imports processing. That’s why I am asking the DA and the Bureau of Customs to submit a flowchart of their processes, so we can study and make recommendations,” said Salceda.

‘Wag assuming! Guevarra: No proof Duterte’s ‘kill’ order behind ‘Bloody Sunday’ deaths

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday (March 8) defended the statement made by President Rodrigo Duterte to kill all communist rebels.

Guevarra told reporters that it remains unclear if the statement is what prompted police and the military to kill nine persons during joint operations they conducted in Southern Luzon on Sunday (March 7).

“The President has always been vocal about yung fight against these communist terrorist groups,” he said.

With this, Guevarra believes it would be better to “see what really are the facts.”

“Mahirap magsabi na it’s because of what the President said,” the secretary pointed out.

“We don’t really know the facts as yet,” he added.

Because if this, the secretary declared “the best thing to do really is to conduct a fact-finding investigation.”

Guevarra said the inter-agency task force on extra-judicial killings, also known as the Administrative Order (AO) 35 task force, will discuss this possibility this month.

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