Drop in PRRD’s rating calls for revision of administration policies – senators

admin   •   October 9, 2017   •   3571

MANILA, Philippines — According to some Liberal Party (LP) senators, the approval and trust ratings of the president might further plunge if the government continues to pursue its strategy particularly on its brutal war on drugs.

“I hope it serves as a wake-up call for them to change the war on drugs, and to change their strategy and to stop the killings on the streets,” said LP Senator Bam Aquino.

“Statistically, it is significant and show a damage to the reputation of the president,” said Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that aside on the public’s trust to the president, the war on drugs also affects the country’s economy.

“One thing we should also look into is the drop in the investments. It’s almost 90%. It is also a reflection of the confidence level of the investors in our country,” said Drilon.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson believes the drop in the ratings of the president is due to the involvement of cops in the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

But for Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, it’s too early to judge the performance of the president.

“Look first where the undecided go. It’s not even cause for alarm, it really happens. The survey or the ratings might not be that important for the president. The important thing is for him to do his job,” said Sotto.

Some lawmakers, meanwhile, shrugged off the drop in the ratings of the president.

“The surveys are just numbers the president is very much focused on his programs,” said Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.

“If you compare his results in the same time period and in the same quarters of the almost..shall we say, second year of office, comparatively he’s doing very well,” said Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles.

Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, refused to comment on the result of the latest Social Weather Station survey.

“I should focus first on the budget, sorry,” said the vice president. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

Lacson accepts Galvez’s apology over ‘politicizing’ remark on COVID-19 vaccine issue

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he has accepted the apology of vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for his previous remark accusing some senators of politicizing the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“I accepted his apology. He promised to be more careful in issuing statements,” Lacson said in a statement.

The senator said Galvez apologized during a meeting with him, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, and contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday.

But prior to their meeting, Lacson said he received a message from Magalong, relaying Galvez’s request to meet with him to apologize for his remarks during virtual meeting last week.

“He also promised to brief me and disclose all the details of their vaccine procurement, including the prices of the different brands,” he said.

“Then came the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to Sec. Galvez to brief Senate President Vicente Sotto III. I suggested to them that SP Sotto and I just go together, along with Sen. Ronald de la Rosa,” he added.

During the meeting, Lacson said that Galvez was able to clarify “a lot of issues and concerns raised by senators that have remained unresolved until last night.”

“We advised him to explain in tomorrow’s hearing the same way that he did last night, without violating the terms of the agreement with the vaccine suppliers,” he added.

The Senate is set to resume its inquiry on Friday, January 22 on the government’s nationwide immunization plan.

Lacson said he was satisfied with Galvez’s briefing but advised the official to be vigilant against any irregularity that may be taking place without his knowledge.

“We were shown the documents. And we have no doubt about Sec. Galvez’s integrity and his sincerity to accomplish his task,” he said.

“That said, we advised Sec. Galvez to mind his back, front, left and right sides. He may have the best of intentions but there may be people pushing him out front to do the talking and explaining to take advantage of his credibility while pursuing their own interests,” he added.

Lacson said that Galvez has assured senators that he will make it “very hard for those people to even have an opening for that opportunity.”

Lacson advises DND, UP to set boundaries after pact abrogation

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday advised the Department of National Defense (DND) and University of the Philippines (UP) administration to come up with an agreement on boundaries to be observed following the termination of the 1989 deal banning the entry of state troops without prior coordination.

In a statement, Lacson said this is to “prevent the move from negatively affecting the culture of academic freedom in the state university.”

“Once the pact is terminated, what will the security sector do? We don’t know that yet. Probably they could come to an agreement that there are boundaries to be observed,” Lacson said.

He also warned the security sector that it might be “overstepping its bounds if the move is designed to muzzle the academic and other freedoms enjoyed by the UP community.”

“If it is designed to muzzle the academic and other freedoms being enjoyed by UP in general, you can describe it as that — overstepping,” he said.

The Department of National Defense unilaterally ended the 31-year-old agreement with UP, citing information that the New People’s Army is recruiting students inside UP campuses.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana explained that the deal is ‘obsolete’ and that UP has become “a breeding ground” and “a safe haven for enemies of the state.”

Lacson noted that during the Senate hearings on red-tagging, it was established that students are being recruited to the NPA not only inside UP but in other universities, to the point they are being killed in encounters.

For Lacson, a former police chief and current chair of the Senate committee on national defense, the DND’s move made sense as universities such as UP and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines have become a “hotbed of recruitment.”

“To join the militant organizations, that’s fine. You can protest all you want. But when you bear arms against government and you are very young, you are vulnerable, you are easily radicalized, and the hotbed of recruitment would be UP, PUP and other universities, then I think the security sector has studied all the factors involved before they acted on the matter,” he said.

But he added the termination of the pact will affect the culture of academic freedom in UP, whose community is known to be independent and involved in political issues.

“UP is known to be independent and they are involved in so many political issues. They enjoy so much freedom. And then all of a sudden you take it away from them, that really hurts,” he said.

“Definitely there will be outcry, protests and disagreements. Let’s see how it shapes up in the future,” he added.

Lorenzana earlier called on the UP community to “work together to protect our students from extremism and destructive armed struggle.”

‘Suntok sa buwan’: Drilon expresses misgivings on gov’t COVID-19 vaccination plan

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday described the national government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan as “suntok sa buwan” after the Senate conducted a hearing to tackle the program.

“Parang suntok sa buwan ang vaccination program lalo na yung sinasabi nila na 148 million doses within the year. The arrival of the vaccines is not even definite,” Drilon said in a statement.

“How can they say that they will be able to purchase 148 million doses by the end of 2021 when up to now, we haven’t given any Emergency Use Authorization to any vaccine and we have not been able to raise, through loans, all the needed amount for the purchase of the vaccines?” he added.

Government officials involved in the COVID-19 response on Monday faced senators to explain the administration’s plans for the immunization of Filipinos against the novel coronavirus disease.

The government earlier said it is planning to inoculate 70 million Filipinos this year and that it is eyeing to rollout the vaccination plan in the coming months when the initial batch of at least 50,000 vaccines is delivered in February.

The Food and Drug Administration previously said it may issue an emergency use authorization for the application of Pfizer and AstraZeneca within January.

“I am not reassured in the slightest by what I heard. To be honest, I am more confused now. The government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan fails to provide the public the assurance they need from the government,” Drilon said.

“The plan is good on paper. The plan is filled with uncertainties and it leaves too much to chance,” he added.

Drilon said the government’s target of securing 148 million doses within the year is “simply difficult to achieve given what Sec. Carlito Galvez said that 80% of global supply has already been procured by rich countries.”

“If only the government was able to make advanced purchases last year, similar to other low-and-middle income countries such as Indonesia and Brazil, maybe we would have a better chance of securing these 148 million doses of vaccines this year,” he added.

The minority leader added the funding is not even guaranteed at this point as the government has not fully secured the necessary loans to fund the P70 billion in the unprogrammed fund for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

The government has allotted P82.5 billion for the purchase of the vaccines but only P12.5 billion is in the programmed appropriation – P2.5 billion will come from the General Appropriations Act and another P10 billion under the extended Bayanihan 2.

“They have a better chance of achieving their targets if they lift the restriction that they set that prevents local chief executives and the private sector from buying vaccines directly from the manufacturers,” Drilon said.

“It will facilitate a speedy purchase of the much-needed vaccines. I believe there is a consensus among the senators insofar as lifting this restriction is concerned,” he added.

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