Customs personnel tagged in corruption to face admin raps before Ombudsman – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019   •   2853

President Rodrigo Duterte meets the relieved employees of the Bureau of Customs in Malacañang on July 18, 2019. | Courtesy: Sen. Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) tagged in corruption allegations will face administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, Malacañang said on Friday.

“Administrative charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte met with dozens of customs personnel in Malacañang.

Panelo said Duterte told them they will be given their day in court as part of the due process.

“The President has been forthright in telling these customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch,” Panelo said.

“PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] assured them that he would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office,” he added.

The president, Panelo said, “thanked them for accepting his invitation to meet him in Malacañang, which according to him, showed they still have respect for him.”

While waiting for the formal filing of charges, the said customs officials will be “in floating status without authority to act on official matters.”

The chief executive earlier ordered for the freezing of several high-ranking customs officials who were accused of corrupt practices in office.

READ: Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

“Let this serve as a reminder to all those officials or employees in the government that they cannot escape liability or accountability for their acts of corruption under the Duterte administration,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte volunteers to be first to be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine, but in private — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang stressed on Tuesday (January 26) that President Rodrigo Duterte already decided with finality that he would get coronavirus vaccine shot in private.

This, despite the suggestion of vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr to make it public as the President will boost confidence in the government’s vaccination program. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said such is the President’s personal preference.

“He had said so. Sabi nga niya, dahil sa puwet siya magpapasaksak so hindi pwedeng public (He said he wants to get shot in the buttock so it cannot be public),” Roque said.

Duterte said he is willing to be inoculated and volunteered to be the one to get the first vaccine shot to set an example.

Roque said the President wants to have it done the way Queen Elizabeth II did by announcing it only after she and Prince Philip received the vaccine.

Other leaders, meanwhile, preferred to be vaccinated in public like US President Joe Biden, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte allows limited face-to-face classes in some medical schools

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the conduct of face-to-face classes for medical and allied health programs in higher education institutions.

This will be in areas with relaxed quarantine restrictions.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, this is to ensure that the country will not run out of doctors and other medical front liners amid the pandemic.

“Ito po ay para hindi tayo maubusan ng mga doktor, kung hindi po magpapatuloy iyong mga face-to-face ng mga doktor and allied medical professionals,” Roque said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has allowed face-to-face medical internship at the University of the Philippines – Manila. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte hits critics over claims of corruption in vaccine procurement

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has fired back at critics of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement program over claims that transactions are tainted with corruption.

The Chief Executive is even willing to personally speak with them, particularly those who are saying that the government is favoring a manufacturer or supplier.

Kung sino nagsabi niyan (Whoever said that), please rise and be brave enough that you’re the one. I’d like to talk to you,” Duterte said.

Duterte stressed that his trusted representatives in the negotiations for COVID-19 vaccine procurement are not tasked with handling money.

His statement comes after Senator Panfilo Lacson’s post on Twitter which credits the Senate’s early probe into the government’s vaccine procurement plan for the drop in prices of Sinovac, thereby saving the people billions of pesos in the country’s vaccination program.

“I take exception to the statement nitong (that) they were able to prevent corruption or overpricing (of vaccines) because of their vigilance. No. Far from it actually. You were just muddling up,” Duterte said, adding that all negotiations made by Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. go through review and scrutiny of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and himself before finality.

“I will take a look and ask around if it is really reasonable pricing for us,” the President noted.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have freezers that the government may use to transport vaccines that require sub-zero temperatures.

He said the PN has a total of four military vessels which have built-in freezers with a temperature range of negative 18 degrees Celsius to negative 15 degrees Celsius while those of the PCG range from 25 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius.  

“Puwede po nating gamitin ito kapag magta-transport ng bakuna mula Manila at sa mga islands dito sa Visayas at saka dito pa sa Luzon siguro, (We can use those vessels to transport vaccines from Manila to the islands in Visayas and anywhere in Luzon), Lorenzana said.

The Defense Chief also said that medics from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are set to undergo training next week for their participation in the roll out of mass vaccination especially in the province. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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