CJ Bersamin on UNHRC reso: Other countries cannot intervene in PH affairs

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019   •   1177

UNHRC Hall | Courtesy: United Nations Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin called the United Nation Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) adoption of a resolution to probe human rights situation in the country as ‘minority’ since only 18 countries voted for it.

Though his statement was brief, Bersamin said other countries have no reason to intervene with Philippine affairs especially its policies.

“Mukhang tama nga naman sina Secretary Panelo dahil minority resolution lang iyan. But you know, I am a member of the Judiciary and kailangan ipilit kong sabihin sa ngayon wala naman kami nakikitang dapat lamang na manghimasok ang taga ibang bansa,” the Chief Justice said in support of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s position on the matter.

(It seems Sec. Panelo was right because that’s only a minority resolution. But you know I am a member of the Judiciary and for now, I am compelled to speak. So far, I see no reason for other countries to meddle in our affairs.)

“Other than that, hindi na ko magsasalita (I won’t say anything more). I cannot be the architect of our foreign affairs,” he added.

The Palace previously called the resolution an insult to the Filipinos.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), however, clarified that the Philippines will not cut its ties with any member of the human rights body. — with reports from Mai Bermudez

VP Robredo wants Oplan Tokhang scrapped

Marje Pelayo   •   November 8, 2019

A Filipino who had exhibited suspicious behavior raises his arms in front of operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) during an anti-illegal drugs operation in Makati City, east of Manila, Philippines, 06 April 2017.Operatives were in pursuit of two alleged drug pushers in the area, as one female suspect was arrested and at least three other individuals were held by authorities after exhibiting suspicious behavior while the anti-illegal drugs operation was conducted. EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has started her duty as the newly appointed co-chairperson of the government’s anti-drug campaign.

First in her agenda was to convene all members of the Interagency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD) together with her co-chair, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.

During the press briefing, Robredo called for a replacement of the Operation Tokhang or Oplan Tokhang as a method of apprehending drug personalities.

“Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang, parang naka-reach siya ng certain level of notoriety na kapag sinabing ‘Tokhang,’ it is a war against the poor,” Robredo said.

(Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang, it seems to have reached a certain level of notoriety that when you say ‘Tokhang,’ it is a war against the poor.)

“It is incumbent upon us na mabago iyong kaisipian na iyon. Baka panahon na para pag-isipan natin iyong pagpalit ng isang kampanya na mas epektibo pero walang namamatay senselessly,” she added.

(It is incumbent upon us to change that notion. Maybe it’s time to think about replacing this with a more effective campaign that is without the senseless killings.)

Robredo said she wants to believe that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to hand over the anti-drug campaign implies that the Chief Executive is “open to listening to a fresh perspective about the entire campaign.”

And although she said she wants a vigorous campaign against illegal drugs, it should be within the bounds of the rule of law.

Robredo also emphasized the need to consider the problem of illegal drugs as criminality but a medical and sociological problem.

The Vice President requested to be briefed on the current status of the government’s anti-drug campaign and be provided with access to all data and documents in relation to the program.

“Gusto ko pong malaman kung saan ako magsisimula (I want to know where to start),” she said.

Despite being a staunch critic of the campaign, Robredo commended the ‘successes’ of the administration’s drug war specifically the recent haul of illegal drugs from various operations.

But Robredo expressed concern over the increasing number of drug dependents despite the efforts and resources that have been exerted by all anti-drug agencies working on the campaign.

“Why don’t we re-assess? Ano ba iyong mabubuting ginagawa? Para iyong mga effective na ginagawa ay ipagpapatuloy natin. Pero ano ba yung mga ginagawa na hindi nagbibigay sa atin ng desired results?” she said.

(Why don’t we re-assess? What are the good things being done? So that the effective ones will be continued. But let us think also of the things that we were doing that didn’t bring us our desired results.)

“Iyon ang pag-isipan natin (We should think about those things),” she said further.

After Robredo addressed the media, Aquino requested them to leave to give the Committee time to discuss important matters in relation to their duty.

The PDEA chief promised to take questions from the press alongside Robredo after the meeting.

Lacson to discuss anti-drug campaign with Robredo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 7, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson (R) and Vice President Leni Robredo (L)

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he will meet with Vice President Leni Robredo to discuss about the anti-illegal drug campaign.

Lacson previously said he is willing to share whatever modest law enforcement experience he gained in his previous life.

He announced they are currently fixing the schedule of the meeting.

READ: Pangilinan asks public to support Robredo as she takes on drug war challenge

“We are fixing our schedule to sit down. I am grateful and humbled by her gesture. More than that, it shows her sincerity and seriousness in tackling her new task,” he said.

Robredo accepted the offer to become the drug czar on Wednesday (November 6) after President Rodrigo Duterte designated her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) in a memorandum signed on October 31, days after Robredo stated in an interview that the administration’s drug war has been ineffective.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

VP Robredo keeps mum on Duterte’s offer to be drug czar

Marje Pelayo   •   October 29, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo chose not to react on the recent challenge set by President Rodrigo Duterte offering her the position of a drug czar and lead the government’s anti-drug campaign.

READ: Duterte wants to commission Robredo as drug czar for 6 months

Duterte on Monday (October 28) publicly announced that he would surrender his law enforcement power to Robredo so she could prove herself by solving the country’s problems on illegal drugs in a span of six months.

Robredo said Duterte’s remarks could have been an outburst of emotions just like many times in the past.

“Ayokong mag-comment hanggat wala pa (I don’t want to comment while [the letter] isn’t here yet),” Robredo said.

Natuto na ako. Marami ng beses in the past (na) mayroong sinasabi na hindi naman mini-mean. May imbitasyon na babawiin. So, hintayin muna natin,” she added.

(I have learned my lesson. There were many times in the past wherein he would say something but didn’t really mean it. He would send invitations which he would later take back. So, let’s wait for now.)

With these developments, opposition lawmaker Albay 1st Rep. Edcel Lagman alleged that the President is “washing his hands of his failed brutal war on drugs, and is tossing the narcotics problem for Vice President Leni Robredo to solve.”

Liberal Party senator Kiko Pangilinan, meanwhile, teased the President for giving Robredo only six months when he himself couldn’t arrest ‘big fishes’ in illegal drugs operation in the country.

“Six months? Sila nga tatlong taon nang nakaupo, wala pa ring nahuhuling drug lord or ikinukulong na opisyal ng BoC sa tone-toneladang pinalusot na shabu sa Customs,” Pangilinan argued.

(Six months? They themselves have been in power for three years and they have yet to arrest a drug lord or put in jail a Bureau of Customs official for the tons of shabu that slipped past customs.)

“Iyong mga ninja cops na sangkot sa iligal na droga binigyan pa ng pinakamataas na pwesto sa PNP. Hindi naman patas ang usapan kapag 6 months lang. Dapat maging patas. Gawing 3 years para fair,” he added.

(Those ninja cops implicated in illegal drugs trade were even promoted to higher positions in the PNP. The deal wouldn’t be fair with only six months. They should be fair. Give [Robredo] three years to be fair.)

Duterte ally House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, said if Robredo would accept the President’s challenge, she should present a concrete plan of action to do it.

“(What’s that) health-based approach (that they say) when it comes to enforcement and when it comes to methamphetamine?” Cayetano said of Robredo’s proposed strategy.

Kung may baril ang kaharap mo na nagbebenta ng droga at nandoon sa school at hinuli ng pulis, anong gagawin ng pulis, sabihin, ‘Pare, mag vitamins ka muna? (If the person you are apprehending for selling drugs in school has a gun, what do you think the police should do? Should they tell him: Take some vitamins first?),” he added.

But for former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, it would be better for President Duterte to fully relinquish his presidency instead of just challenging Robredo.

“Why not just surrender the presidency by resigning,” the opposition lawyer said.

But despite the headlines, former chief of police now Senator Panfilo Lacson stressed that the President, being the top authority in the land, holds the highest power over the country’s law enforcement officials.

When asked if he believes the President’s intention was to annoy Robredo, Lacson said it wasn’t sarcasm “but more of an expression of irritation and disgust.”

He added that: “Unless he delegates a blanket authority, including the power to hire and fire, no one else in the government bureaucracy can do it better than the chief executive under any given circumstances.”

“At best, it’s half meant,” the senator concluded. – MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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