The extension of martial law in Mindanao and the budget are up for discussion in Congress. And after a century, the Balangiga bells are coming home. These are the stories making the headlines on ANC today:
Justifying martial law
President Duterte wrote a five-page letter to Senate President Tito Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asking Congress to further extend martial law in Mindanao. But after a briefing by security officials, senators warn that declaring martial law could become a habit if it is extended in Mindanao. Security officials are set to brief congressmen next today.
Duterte and GMA
Relations between President Duterte and former president and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seem to entering into a new phase. In the beginning of the Duterte administration, things seemed fine between the two as former Arroyo men assumed important positions in the Duterte Cabinet. Arroyo herself deposed one of the president’s closest allies, Pantaleon Alvarez, as House Speaker. But now, according to Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo, the president wants to hear the explanation of Arroyo for alleged pork barrel insertions in the proposed 2019 national budget. On the other hand, the Speaker’s daughter Luli Arroyo-Bernas is appointed as chair of the National Museum board.
Justifying the budget
Speaking of the budget, senators will hold deliberations on the budget today. At the Senate Monday, Budget and Management Sec. Ben Diokno denied alleged ‘insertions’ in the budget. At the House, Diokno will face congressmen for question hour on the budget. Will we hear questions on the pork insertions?
Turnover and anniversary
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez will turn over the reins of power to Eastern Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal. The AFP will also hold a ceremony for its 83rd found anniversary which is actually falls on Dec. 21. When a new Chief of Staff assumes office in December, these two events are usually celebrated on separate dates. President Duterte will be in attendance for the double event which starts at 3 p.m.
Bells are back
After more than a century, the bells are coming home. The three Balangiga bells are due to arrive at the Villamor Air Base at 8 a.m. today. A turnover ceremony will also commence. But President Duterte, who had called for the return of the bells in one of his SONAs, is due to skip the ceremonies. ANC’s Headstart will feature interviews with Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Babe Romualdez and U.S. embassy press attache Molly Koscina. Does this signal a new positive turn in US-Philippine relations even as the Duterte government pivots to China?