Gordon on Duterte’s tirades: No offense taken

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019   •   1137

Senator Richard Gordon

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon on Friday said he has not taken offense at President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks against him.

On Thursday, Duterte peppered Gordon with strong words after the senator criticized the chief executive’s appointments of retired military and police officers in the government.

The latest addition to the roster of former military and police officials who were appointed to government posts was retired Lt.Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command. Salamat was picked as member of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) board last month.

Gordon on Wednesday expressed disapproval over the president’s “dangerous” decision, stressing that civilian authority must remain supreme over the military.

He also said that military officials should be retired for three years before getting appointed to a government post “to remove the ties that bind.”

In response to Gordon’s comments, Duterte told the lawmaker not to be “too presumptuous” about his talent and that choosing his officials is part of his prerogative as president.

“Dick Gordon, do not be too presumptuous about your talent. Why do you criticize me? It’s my prerogative. It is not prohibited by law and the law says that the President shall be — may tulong siya sa mga taong Cabinet member. It doesn’t say except those who are ex-military men because they are not qualified,” he said in speech during the 28th Founding anniversary of the Bureau of Fire Protection at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Thursday night.

He also made several references to Gordon’s weight and told that the latter was a “fart away from disaster.” Duterte also said Gordon should mind his own business before meddling in his work.

“Yung utak mo Dick, nagtutunaw napupunta diyan sa tiyan mo. You are a fart away from disaster. Intindihin mo muna ‘yung tiyan mo bago ka makialam sa trabaho ko,” he added.

In the same speech, the president also defended his decision to appoint officials with military background to key government posts, saying they obey and implement orders faster than civilian ones.

“I’m challenging him. Give me one specific instance that the military or the police or the DILG membership or group of entities, bureaus under it disobeyed a single order galing sa akin,” he said.

In reaction to Duterte’s strong words, Gordon said he was not offended by the comments and that he considers the president as his friend. He added that they have known each other since they served as mayors in their respective areas – Gordon in Olongapo and Duterte in Davao.

“I take no offense at the President’s comments. As I have said everyone iS entitled to an opinion, and we cannot be onion-skinned about such things,” he said in a statement.

He also said that he was happy that the chief executive is concerned about his weight and that “he need not worry about that” as his wife “has seen to it that I have reduced it significantly of late.”

“But I appreciate that he is concerned about my health as I am about his,” Gordon said.

The senator added that he made his remark about Duterte’s appointments of retired military officials “in good faith and out of concern for our country and the President.”

“I also have great respect for the military and the armed forces because they are the protector of the people and the State,” he further said.

“However, at the same time, we want to assure the public that we are not militarizing the government,” he added.

Duterte has repeatedly explained his penchant for choosing former military and police officers to fill government positions.

Among his appointees who are retired military officials are Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu; Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan, TESDA chief Isidro Lapeña, Bases and Conversion Development Authority chief Glorioso Miranda, HUDCC chairperson Eduardo del Rosario, MMDA chair Danilo Lim, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Malacañang allays public fear of possible Facebook ban

Marje Pelayo   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has allayed public fear of a possible ban on social media giant Facebook following President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks on Tuesday night (September 29) expressing his disappointment over the platform’s policy.

“You cannot lay down a policy for my government. I allow you to operate here. You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of the government,” Duterte said. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President wants to have a talk with Facebook to clarify issues regarding its censorship policy against pages that support the government.

“Number 1 po kasi tayo sa buong mundo sa Pilipinas so kung wala tayo, malaking kawalan yan sa Facebook [The Philippines is the number 1 user in the world. It’s a big loss to Facebook],” Roque said.

“Pero at the same time, dahil nga number 1 tayo, marami ring Pilipino ang gumagamit ng Facebook. Maapektuhan din. So sinabi naman ng president, pag-usapan iyan [But at the same time since we are number 1, many Filipinos are using Facebook. It will affect us. So the President wants a discussion about it],” he added.

Among the accounts that have been taken down is the advocacy group Hands Off Our Children, a page which aims to protect minors from recruitment by extremists who entice youths to become combatants and fight the government.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has again questioned Facebook’s choice of fact-checkers— online news platforms Rappler and Vera Files— who are critical of the present administration.

Roque said the government is now contemplating on commissioning fact-checkers of social media platforms in the country similar to what other countries are doing.

“Pag-aaralan po natin kung dapat gawin natin iyan dahil di po tayo makakapayag na ang fact-checkers ay tanging mga laban lamang sa gobyerno [We will take that into consideration because that has to be done. We cannot allow that fact-checkers are only those who are all against the government],” Roque concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

Marje Pelayo   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has mentioned more than once in the past, wanting to step down from his post due to massive corruption in government.

He repeated himself on Monday evening (September 28) during his late night public address.

“I offered to resign as president. Ipinatawag ko ang lahat. Sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government, talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin (I called everyone and said, “I am getting tired of it. In my years of government service, corruption is endless. It’s very difficult to eradicate),” the President said.

Specifically, the President expressed deep dismay over corruption and irregularities in the management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

He said he is keen on proposing to Congress to dissolve the state insurance agency as he admits privatizing it cannot be an option. 

PhilHealth, I am going to propose to Congress to abolish [it]. Kung i-privatize mo naman, walang pera (If it will be privatized, there is no money), he said.

PhilHealth is facing a big revamp or reorganization among its officials and employees following a series of hearings and investigations on the anomalies within the agency.

Meanwhile, the President defended the government’s move to sell several state properties. He cited the need to raise funds to support the health sector’s COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response plan.

“That is why we are selling properties. That’s the reason why we are selling real estate properties in Japan — because we have to raise money,” he said.

Wala nang pambayad diyan sa PhilHealth na iyan. Kaya walang ibang remedy diyan (There is no more money to pay for PhilHealth. There are no other remedies). It must be a surgical move,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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