Duterte on ‘ninja cops’ case linking Albayalde: ‘Give me clear proof’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 7, 2019   •   485

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech upon his arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on October 6, 2019 following his successful official visit to the Russian Federation. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday stressed the importance of following the due process in the ‘ninja cops’ issue, which allegedly involves several policemen, including the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), General Oscar Albayalde.

Duterte made the statement amid calls for Albayalde to resign over his purported link to illegal drugs.

Eh kung mga ‘yung criminal binibigyan mo ng (Even criminals are given) presumption of innocence. You know, Albayalde is the PNP chief. Give me a clear proof that he was there on the take or was in the trafficking of drugs. Just because he was the… Tapos may tinawagan siya (he called someone),” he said after his arrival from Russia.

“I could not just do it in a knee jerk. I have to follow procedural due process and allow him time to answer,” he added. “The right to be heard – it’s given to criminals, to kidnappers. It should be given to a general of the Philippine National Police.”

When asked if he still trusts Albayalde, Duterte replied with: “Well, he is still there.  Otherwise, I would have you know just — I would have told him to just go out.”

The issue on ‘ninja cops’ was revived when Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino bared during a 2020 budget hearing about the continued activities of ‘ninja cops’ and their link to so-called Manila ‘drug queen,’ later identified as former village chief Guia Gomez Castro.

Albayalde’s name was dragged into the issue after former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong mentioned a controversial 2013 anti-drug operation carried out by cops under Albayalde who was then the head of Pampanga police provincial office.

Albayalde was relieved from his post in 2014 for command responsibility while the involved operatives were charged and ordered dismissed.

The dismissal order, however, was not implemented as the police officers were only demoted in 2017.

Aquino, who was then the chief of Central Luzon Regional Police Office, claimed Albayalde called him to ask not to enforce the dismissal order against the 13 cops.

The PNP chief has repeatedly denied the allegation. He insisted during a Senate hearing that he only called then Central Luzon Regional police director Aquino in 2016 to ask about the status of his former men’s case.

Duterte earlier said he will wait for the Senate and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to end their respective probes on the case of the so-called ‘ninja cops’ before deciding what action to take.RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte on reopening the economy: ‘We cannot afford to gamble’

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The country is not yet ready to fully reopen its economy, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Chief Executive said the government is doing the process gradually, otherwise the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections would spike that could lead to a bigger problem.

He said he cannot follow the example of other countries because the Philippines does not have as much resources if the situation gets worse.

“Tayong pobre we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. Mahirap tayo. Hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal (As a poor country, we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor. We cannot afford to gamble),” the President said during his public address on Tuesday evening (July 7).

President Duterte cited situations in the United States and Brazil where despite being powerful and wealthy, are not spared from the impact of the pandemic.

“Although they opened their economy for money to come into the government coffers, there was a spike. They were having a problem of almost a relapse — in the totality of the number,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President expressed doubts that the country has entered the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

“Now we do not even know if the number of 34, 178 of active cases is still a part of the first wave or have we arrived at the second wave. I don’t think so. We are still grappling with the first wave,” he argued.

He urged Filipinos to obey strict health protocols and have more patience as the government works to combat the pandemic.

Mga kababayan ko, ako mismo gusto ko nang lumabas. Ayoko nang magpapigil. Kung gusto ko nga makipag-away na ako. Ang problema iyon ang gusto ko, pero ang gusto ko ay hindi makakabuti sa ating lahat,” he said.

(My fellow countrymen, I personally I want to go out. I don’t want to be barred from doing so. I am even ready to fight over this. The problem is, what I want is not good for everyone.)

“We have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy. Dahan-dahan lang (Let’s do it gradually), because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***. Talagang mahirapan tayo (We will seriously struggle),” he said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Economic, infra clusters to hold pre-2020 SONA forum this week

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte government’s economic development and infrastructure Cabinet clusters are set to present the administration’s plans for recovery and resilience in the face of the coronavirus-induced headwinds this year at the first pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum to be held this week.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said that the forum titled, “Regaining Momentum, Accelerating Recovery in a Post COVID-19 World,” will be held virtually on July 8.

Hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the forum will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of the Radio Television Malacañang, and other government agencies.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said this year’s pre-SONA forum will be different as the audience will be “purely virtual,” due to limitations on mass gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do hope that our citizens will be able to tune in as the country’s top decision makers discuss our path to a quick and strong recovery from this crisis,” he said.

In the forum, the DOF said that top economic and infrastructure officials are also expected to report on the state of the Philippine economy, as well as the government’s ongoing efforts to leverage on its strong fundamentals in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar will present performance updates and priority plans, respectively, on the economic and infrastructure fronts.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will speak on the Philippine Economic Recovery Program.

“The audience can expect Secretary Dominguez to delve deeper into the challenges we’re facing right now, the accomplishments in the previous year that we can build on, and the legislative proposals that the economic team submitted for Congress to consider,” Lambino said.

Meanwhile, updates on the monetary, external, and financial sectors will be discussed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Pre-SONA forums are held annually to discuss in greater detail the achievements of the government in the previous year and the priorities of the Cabinet cluster heads in the run-up to the President’s SONA on July 27.

Several senators laud signing of Anti-Terror Act despite oppositions

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators have lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 despite oppositions coming from different sectors.

“Much credit goes to PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). With all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, at the end of the day, it is his strong political will that mattered the most,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement Friday.

“I cannot imagine this measure being signed under another administration. If only for this, I take my hat off to the president,” he added.

Lacson, one of the principal authors and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, vowed that he would “exert extra effort in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation, notwithstanding all the safeguards incorporated in this landmark legislation.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed elation over the enactment of the controversial bill.

“I am glad that the president has sifted through the rubble and saw the importance of the law!” he said in a message to reporters.

Senator Francis Tolentino also called the signing of the law as “very timely” and “historic” as the nation needed the measure.

“It just goes to show that a stable peace and order climate should go hand [in hand] with economic rejuvenation post COVID-19,” he added.

The new law repeals the Human Security Act of 2007 and penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure allows suspected terrorists to be detained for up to 24 days without warrant. It also authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets and accounts of individuals or groups tagged as terrorists.

Before it was enacted, the bill was met with widespread opposition from different groups who raised concern over its provisions that could be abused by authorities, stifle dissent and spur human rights violations.

But Sotto said the law has enough safeguards to prevent enforcers from abusing their authority.

“It’s full of safeguards but strong against terrorists. Unlike the old law, it was subject to abuse by the terrorists,” Sotto said.

Lacson has repeatedly defended the measure, saying it has enough protection to ensure the rights of those detained.

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