Duterte hits gov’t critics, vows to uphold human rights at UN
Robie de Guzman • September 23, 2020 • 352
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte blasted the critics of his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism, whom he said are using the human rights issue to discredit functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government.”
In a pre-recorded message aired at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Duterte highlighted the Philippines Anti-Terrorism Law which was passed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure drew criticisms, with several groups claiming this could be used to silence and prosecute political opponents.
“A number of interest groups have weaponized human rights; some well-meaning, others ill-intentioned,” Duterte said in his message.
This is the first time that Duterte participated in the gathering since he became president four years ago.
“They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support,” he said.
“These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda. They hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through,” he added.
Duterte said his administration remains committed to protecting human rights and continue to take part in “ open dialogue and constructive engagement” with the United Nations.
“But these must be done in full respect of the principles of objectivity, non-interference, non-selectivity, and genuine dialogue. These are the fundamental bases for productive international cooperation on human rights,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.
Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.
“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.
The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.
The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.
Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.
“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.
The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – A proposed executive order that will impose a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests is now awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Health’s (DOH) Technical Working Group (TWG) submitted the proposal after completing its review on the recommended price cap.
Roque refused to divulge the recommended price ceiling on coronavirus testing in private hospitals and laboratories but he expressed optimism that the president will approve the proposal.
“Hintayin po muna natin ang desisyon ng president. Why is that? Kasi yung iba naman, napakataas ng sinisingil, alam naman natin, pwedeng mas mura yang testing na yan,” he said in a televised briefing.
Roque said the proposal seeks to make COVID-19 testing affordable and could help boost the government’s contact tracing and mass testing efforts.
“Para mas maging affordable ang testing sa ating mga kababayan ng sa gayong paraan ay mas maraming matetesting,” he said.
The DOH earlier recommended the placing of a price ceiling after observing differences in the COVID-19 testing cost in various laboratories and hospitals in the country. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that the order for him to conduct a government-wide probe of corruption is his “toughest” assignment ever received from President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a taped speech aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte directed the DOJ to expand the role of its task force, which probed the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to cover the entire government.
He also authorized the DOJ to decide on which allegation to investigate taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.
The chief executive also granted DOJ the power to create as many panels as necessary and direct other government agencies to be part of such committees.
Duterte said his directive will remain in effect until the end of his term on June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.
“Apart from my usual responsibilities as SOJ, this new assignment is the toughest I have ever received from the President,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
“I will need all the support and cooperation of the entire government machinery to achieve this singular objective of substantially reducing corruption in government,” he added.
Considering the scope of the task, Guevarra said he will first determine the overall strategy and the order of priorities as well as the setting up of the expanded anti-corruption task force.
“Tentatively, I am thinking of creating several strike forces that will simultaneously attack various corruption-prone agencies,” he said.
Guevarra also said that he intends to immediately focus on the organizational set-up and mechanism that will carry out the president’s directive.
The Justice Secretary added that it would also help if government workers and other people would come forward to provide the task force with the necessary information to uncover corrupt activities and identify perpetrators.
“The new and expanded anti-corruption task force will take it from there,” he said.
The DOJ already leads an inter-agency task force, formed in August, that probed alleged corruption in the PhilHealth which resulted in the filing of complaints against several officials, including former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)
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