DILG wants Manila LGU to explain poor performance on gov’t war on drugs

Marje Pelayo   •   December 17, 2019   •   1163

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is demanding an explanation from the local government of Manila why it failed the government’s illegal drugs campaign.

Based on the 2018 Anti-Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) Performance Audit, the city of Manila received 48% failure functionality rating among the cities across Metro Manila.

According to DILG Undersecretary Rico Judge Echiverri, drug functionality of the anti-drug abuse council in the city has been low from 2016 to 2018.

Echiverri clarified, however, that it is not incumbent Mayor Isko Domagoso who should solely shoulder the blame but the LGU itself and the former officials, particularly, former Mayor Joseph Estrada.

“But again, we have to give the show cause order. Remember we are filing cases not on the person but on the institution, which is the City of Manila,” Echiverri explained.

“So kahit hindi si Mayor Isko ang (So even if it’s not Mayor Isko who is) accountable, he has to answer still to the poor performance of Manila City,” he added.

Meanwhile, the DILG is pushing for a bill that would penalize local officials who do not act on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Under the ADAC bill, a local official may be put in jail and may be stripped of his chance for public service.

“Fine or suspension wala iyan. Hindi nila iniinda, pero ilagay mo as one of the provisions perpetual to run, tingnan mo kung di matakot ang mga yan, (Fine or suspension is something they will just ignore. But put it as one of the perpetual provisions to run, let’s see if they would dare),” Echiverri noted.

The bill is expected to progress at the Lower House through presidential son Congressman Paulo Duterte while Senator Ronald Dela Rosa is expected to propel on the approval of the bill at the Upper House. – MNP (with details from Dante Amento)

Complainants ready to support ICC on probe vs. Duterte war on drugs

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Complainants in the Philippines’ drug war issue said there won’t be any problem even if the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte won’t cooperate in the investigation that was sought by former International Criminal Court Prosecutor (ICC) Fatou Bensouda.

According to Atty. Kristina Conti of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) who stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants, they are more than willing to support the investigation by providing witnesses and pieces of evidence.

“Kung usapin naman access doon sa witnesses doon sa mga dokumento na hindi makapasok sa PIlipinas, pwede naman kami gumawa ng paraan na kami yung mga witnesses yung lalabas ng bansa,” Conti said.

She said that although officials of the Duterte government have the right to remain silent about the issue, the complainants have the right to access evidence under the Freedom of Information Law, especially if the killings involved their loved ones.

They believe justice will be served as culprits in the crime will soon be put behind bars.

“Hindi kami sasalalay doon sa kung ano ang sasabihin nila. Hindi kami sasalalay kung ano ang aaminin nila. Sasalalay kami doon sa lakas namin. The strength of the prosecution will rely kung ano yung aming ebidensya,” the lawyer added.

Atty. Neri Colmenares who also stands as one of the legal counsels of the complainants expressed confidence that the case will yield positive results in their favor.

“We are very confident na magawa and of course hopefully ang bagong presidente sa 2022 will not protect President Duterte lalo na kung wala na siya sa pwesto,” he said.

The NUPL said they expected the administration’s refusal to cooperate in the probe which was obvious when the national government decided to withdraw from the ICC sometime in 2019 when attempts to investigate the so-called extrajudicial killings in the Philippines surfaced.

“Alam ito ni Secretary Roque bilang familiar siya sa ICC. States have the responsibility to fulfill their duties even after they have left the ICC kasi itong imbestigasyon na ito ay nasimulan noong miyembro pa tayo hindi pwedeng aalis na lang tayo tapos bahala na,” Conti argued.

The group is asking President Duterte that, for the sake of fairness, if the Chief Executive chooses to keep mum on the issue, he should at least allow the investigation and provide protection to the complainants and the witnesses.  MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

Duterte gov’t finds ICC prosecutor’s call to probe Philippines’ war on drugs ‘regrettable’

Marje Pelayo   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda has sought permission to open a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The official argued that there is a basis to believe the government’s war on drugs has committed ‘the crime against humanity of murder’ which she claimed had killed thousands of people, including innocent children.

Just in time for her last day in office as ICC prosecutor on Tuesday (June 15), Bensouda argued “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019, based on a that a preliminary probe that began in February 2018.

That same period was when Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC.

In response, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday issued a statement saying that the Philippine government finds Bensouda’s announcement “regrettable”.

The statement underscored that the Inter-Agency Review Panel headed by the Secretary of Justice is still conducting reinvestigation on cases involving fatalities in the campaign against illegal drugs, and that the Panel should be allowed to finish such work.

“The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort. The States Parties to the Rome Statute envisioned a court with a complementary, not primary, jurisdiction for the prosecution of the persons most responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern,” the statement added.

“The Rome Statute requires the Court and the Office of the Prosecutor to respect and defer to the primary criminal jurisdiction of the concerned State Party, while proceedings are ongoing in the latter. The precipitate move of the Prosecutor is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” it further said.

The department also said enumerated what it called concrete and progressive steps the Deterte administration has taken to address concerns in the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign. It added that the government has recently finalized with the UN a Joint Program on Human Rights.

All these, the department said, “affirm the Philippines’ adherence to human rights norms and its long track record of constructive engagement with international and regional partners in human rights promotion and protection.”

“The midnight announcement by the current Prosecutor on the eve of her end of term also preempts the prerogative of her successor to make a full evaluation of the cases that he will prosecute. By her act, the outgoing Prosecutor likewise undercuts the attractiveness of the Rome Statute to States that may be considering accession,” the DFA said.

Public warned vs. fake COVID-19 vaccines being sold abroad

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned the public to be vigilant against fake coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines being sold abroad.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya on Monday (May 3) confirmed that the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global media advisory warning about fake vaccines being sold in Mexico and Poland.

“Mayroon na pong pinalabas na global media alert ang WHO, kung saan mayroon ngang pekeng bakuna na di umano’y Pfizer na bakuna na nabebenta sa bansang Mexico at Poland,” Malaya said.

The discovered fake vaccine bears lot number 78201 and expiry date of August 24.

Following the global advisory, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año ordered local government units (LGUs) to ensure that they are only transacting with authorized vaccine suppliers to prevent health risks.

“While there is no information yet on the presence of the fake vaccines in the country, LGUs should exercise increased diligence as these fake vaccines may be dangerous to the health of those who get inoculated,” Año said.

The DILG Secretary also directed the Philippine National Police to remain alert on the issue of fake COVID-19 vaccines.

Año also asked the public to immediately report any information on the presence or use of fake vaccines in the country to the National Task Force Vaccine Cluster, via email at c19vaccineopcen@gmail.com or mobile number +639178237310.

So far, no fake vaccines have been reported in the country, according to Malaya.

“Dito po sa ating bansa, hanggang sa ngayon, wala pa rin tayong namo-monitor na nagbebenta nito, but tayo po ay nakikipag-ugnayan na sa BOC at FDA para masiguro po natin na hindi makakapasok sa ating bansa ang mga bakunang ito,” he said.

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