Public hearings on 2018 BSKE in Mindanao begin Jan. 22

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to hold three public hearings in Mindanao starting next week to find out the views of the people in the region whether or not they want to push through with the May 14, 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

A public hearing is exactly that � an opportunity for the public to be heard; and by public, the Comelec means ALL of the public, said Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez on his blog.

The public hearings will be held in 700 Gov. Carmins Avenue, Zamboanga City on Jan. 22; Grand Caprice Restaurant and Convention Center, Limketkai Center, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City on Jan. 23 and Alnor Hotel and Convention Center, Alnor Commercial Center Cotabato City on Jan. 29.

He explained that public hearing will afford all interested parties equal opportunity to be heard on whether or not to postpone the 2018 BSKE in the region.

The consultations are precisely meant to help the Commission determine whether or not the upcoming elections should be postponed in Mindanao, Jimenez said.

It is crucial for us to verify that the conditions for free and fair elections are present in spite of the persistence of Martial Law in that part of the country, he furthered.

Pursuant to Section 5, Article 1 of the Omnibus Election Code, the Comelec may ‘motu propio’ (on its own impulse) postpone elections in a particular location, after due notice and hearing therein, when the holding of free, orderly and honest elections should become impossible due to any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia, and other analogous causes of such nature.

Source: Philippine News Agency

Beijing, Manila to discuss possible joint exploration in SCS

MANILA � Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday bared that continuation of talks on possible joint exploration in the disputed area in South China Sea will be among topics the Philippines and China will discuss in their second meeting on the bilateral consultative mechanism (BCM).??

According to Cayetano, the second round of talks will be held in the Philippines, with the follow-up third BCM meeting in China by March or April.??

At present, the official said the two states have now conceptually agreed to pursue this track.??

Conceptually, we both want it, in the declaration of the Chinese premier and the Philippine president, it was there,” he said, adding the challenge now is to come up with an agreement that conforms both to Philippine laws and Chinese laws.??

During talks on partnership, the two countries will distance themselves from the issue of territorial rights for the meantime,” he added.??

We are looking for best practices all around the world disputed and undisputed areas, there are examples around the world where there are disputed areas pero nagkaroon ng agreement na puwede yung both countries because they dealt with sovereignty rights, economic rights. Territorial rights ‘di puwede,” he stressed.??

Aside from the joint exploration, Cayetano said all issues, “including on fishermen, how we see the long-term or where will we be five years from now, 15 years from now, and if other countries are using the word militarization, how do you define militarization” will be part of the BCM.??

We expect that both negative, ‘yung claims ilalabas dito, but also ‘yung positive like the joint exploration,” he said.??

Earlier, China’s construction activities on Fiery Cross Reef gained the spotlight after its aerial shot appearing to have been transformed in an airbase was released by state-run China Central Television.??

On the definition of militarization in the region, Cayetano said they are currently considering all sides but everytime a report comes in, he assured they “take the necessary diplomatic action.”??

Cayetano explained that actions are not necessarily published, given they “solve more things” when it’s done quietly.??

Based on this, he was then asked if this dismisses the necessity for filing diplomatic protests.??

He explained that “diplomatic protest is one form of diplomatic action” that can be verbal, written, in a phone call, or in a bilateral consultative mechanism. However, he did not elaborate nor mention when the “diplomatic action” was taken.

Source: Philippine News Agency

Passport appointments currently ‘best system’ to implement: Cayetano

MANILA � The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is not yet inclined to remove the passport appointment system, which to date still faces numerous backlogs.??

In a press conference on Friday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the adoption of a walk-in system is currently out of question due to the influx of passport applicants.

??”We’re not saying the appointment system is ok,” he said, but pointed out that at present, “it’s the best system” to implement.??

We’re only doing 9,000 a day but we’re doing 15,500 (applicants), he explained.??”If applicants a day are around 60,000 and our capacity is 50 (thousand) we can do walk-ins, but if our capacity is less than 20,000 a day we cannot,” he added.??

Cayetano said around three million Filipinos flock to DFA annually to apply for passports.

??Prior to 2010, the agency said before DFA-Office of Consular Affairs was moved to the DFA-Aseana Building, there was no appointment system and long lines stretch up to Libertad Street.??

In 2012, Pilipinas Teleserv until July 2016 managed the queue in DFA-Aseana, minus the regional consular offices (RCO) and satellite offices (SO).

After a few months, the online appointment system was established, now with the inclusion of RCOs and SOs.

Source: Philippine News Agency