Formal complaint necessary for gov’t to act on alleged ‘pastillas’ scheme in BI

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2020   •   343

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang vowed to take action on the reported anomaly inside the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the so-called ‘pastillas’ scheme.

But the Palace said, it could only act on the matter once a formal complaint is filed.

“Any violation, any transgression, any anomaly, the Palace frowns on it and will act on it, if there are complaints formally filed before its office,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Based on an expose by Senator Risa Hontiveros, BI personnel were allegedly taking bribes of up to P10,000 from Chinese nationals who wanted to enter and work in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry.

Panelo said the Palace is expecting BI Commissioner Jaime Morente to spearhead the investigation and enforce the necessary actions on involved BI personnel.

“The Immigration commissioner is tasked to do his job. Meaning, apart from the usual governing of his own territory, he has to know if there is an anomaly in his territory and respond to it,” the Palace Spokesperson said.

Five immigration officials were already relieved following the Senate inquiry yesterday.

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would not hesitate on stopping POGO operations in the country if evidence of corruption is proven because that would definitely have a huge impact on the country’s economy.

“Di ba sabi nga ni Presidente, ‘there is no sacred cow in this government. If it’s against the interest of the people and general welfare, I’ll stop it.’ This is the kind of President we have,” Panelo said. — MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte cancels planned trip to Davao this week to lead COVID-19 response – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte won’t push through with his plan to fly to his hometown in Davao City this week as he continues to lead the government’s response against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte will stay in Manila this week instead of going to Davao City for the birthday of his youngest daughter, Veronica so he could continue monitoring and give directives in line with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Dito lang po siya sa Maynila upang madalian na mabigyan ng madaliang katugunan ang anumang uri ng suliraning ipapaabot sa kaniya. Siya po ay araw-araw nagmomonitor ng mga kaganapan natin,” Panelo said in a virtual presser.

He also assured the public that the president remains fit and healthy even if he is not sleeping well amid the public health emergency.

Meanwhile, Panelo denied claims that Duterte downplayed the threat of coronavirus, stressing that the president’s actions depended on the development of the situation and pronouncements of the World Health Organization.

“Depende po kasi sa sitwasyon, kaya si President noon, sumusunod lamang siya sa takbo ng patakaran ng World Jealth Organization at nakikita niya sa kaniyang kapaligiran,” he said.

The Palace official urged critics to provide suggestions instead of criticizing the government’s measures in combating the COVID-19 crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace condemns NPA violation of ceasefire amid COVID-19 truce

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 30, 2020

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Malacañang has condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for violating ceasefire amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat in the country.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported a clash between the military and the NPA in Rodriguez, Rizal on Saturday (March 28). One soldier and one fighter of the NPA were reportedly killed during the encounter, while two more soldiers were injured.

“This armed attack by the NPA against our soldiers exposes the insincerity of the former in declaring a ceasefire as well as their blatant disregard of the welfare of the Filipino people they claim to fight for,” according to the statement of the Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The Palace warned enemies of the state against violating the law.

“The constituted authorities are equipped and ready to repel any and all transgressions of law and crush any armed attack against our soldiers and civilians with ferocity and might,” Panelo said.

READ: Joma Sison concedes to UN’s call for a global ceasefire

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) to observe a nationwide ceasefire with the government amid the growing COVID-19 threat.

The said truce began on March 26 and supposed to last until April 15.

The United Nations (UN) called for a global ceasefire on March 23 so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. AAC

Palace disagrees with claims community quarantine is ineffective vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2020

Motorists get their temperatures checked at a police checkpoint during the enhanced community quarantine

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has dismissed criticisms that the enhanced community quarantine being enforced in the whole of Luzon is not effective in stopping the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after the country’s number of confirmed infections have passed the 1,000 mark.

In a statement issued Sunday, March 29, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the big increase in the number of COVID-19 cases is due to the availability of the supply of testing kits and the establishment of additional testing centers.

“Some quarters expressed the opinion that such increased number of COVID-19 cases shows that enhanced community quarantine or partial lockdown is ineffective in flattening the curve. We beg to disagree,” he said.

“As the manufacture and supply of testing kits become available, plus the establishment of additional COVID-19 testing centers, there are more people being tested now than before, necessarily the hitherto unknown cases of COVID-19 have surfaced hence the galloping increase in number,” he added.

Panelo said there could have been a “staggering” number of coronavirus cases if the government did not implement the enhanced community quarantine to restrict the movement of the public.

“Had the enhanced community quarantine or partial lockdown not been imposed, the number of the COVID-19 cases could have been staggering, for the simple reason that with unrestricted movement of the population, with each individual being a potential carrier, the coronavirus would have an untrammeled leap-frogging from one person to another,” he said.

As of Sunday, the Philippines has recorded a total of 1,418 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 71 deaths and 42 recoveries.

Panelo assured the public that the government is “doing everything to contain, if not permanently halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country.”

He also said that the problem in the supply of personal protective equipment has been addressed as donations from many sources have poured in, and local production is in full swing from garment manufacturers and local fashion designers.

“Medical supplies, alcohol, soap and other health items are coming in too from various donors, individuals, and private entities. The Bayanihan spirit has caught fire and everyone is chipping in a united front against this unseen deadly enemy,” Panelo said.

He also reiterated the government’s appeal for the public to strictly follow protocols on hygiene and physical and social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine until April 12. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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