Malacañang leaves it to PAO Chief to decide on resigning amid corruption complaint

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019   •   808

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is letting Atty. Persida Acosta to decide on whether or not to resign as Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) following complaints of corruption.

PAO lawyers filed the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman accusing the PAO Chief and forensics chief Erwin Erfe of corrupt practices in relation to the disbursements and allocation of the PAO budget.

Acosta and Erfe allegedly committed a ‘systematic scheme’ in diverting P13 million of the agency’s budget for office supplies for drafting Dengvaxia-related cases.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said that knowing President Rodrigo Duterte, his trust in his officials remains unless reports of irregularities are proven.

“Si President, hangga’t walang findings of probable cause, palaging andun ang trust (President (Duterte’s) trust on a person remains unless there is no finding of a probable cause),” Panelo said.

“Pero kung may probable cause na, ibang usapan iyon, then there will be suspension galing sa Ombudsman. Hindi naman teritoryo ni president iyon (But once a probable cause is established, that’s a different story. There will be suspension coming from the Ombudsman. It is no longer the President’s territory),” the Palace Spokesman concluded. – MNP (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Duterte orders stricter road safety checks after South Cotabato mishap

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 20, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered stricter implementation of road safety checks after a private truck fell into a ravine in South Cotabato on Tuesday (September 17).

Based on reports, 21 people were killed while 14 others were injured due to the South Cotabato mishap.

According to the Department of Transportation (Dotr), officials from several departments had a meeting with the president on Wednesday (September 18).

The chief executive has ordered to intensify roadworthiness checks, improve driver’s licensing requirements, periodic drug testing, and financial capability checks for operators.

“The chief executive pushed for the urgent nationwide implementation of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) to improve the level of safety and security of passengers,” the Dotr said in a statement on Facebook.

Duterte has also emphasized that private vehicles used beyond their legitimate purpose should be banned.

Vehicles should also have proper road safety equipment and facilities while operators who do not have the financial capability for safety improvements should cease to operate.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the department will improve on road safety through various programs including Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS).

“Ilang buhay na naman ‘ho ang nawala sa atin. Itigil na ang kawalan ng disiplina. Itigil na ang pagiging pabaya sa kalsada. Sa utos ng ating Pangulo, sisikapin naming masiguro na tanging mga roadworthy vehicles lang ang bibiyahe sa kalsada, at lahat ng driver ay may sapat na kaalaman at disiplina sa pagmamaneho, (Several lives have already been lost. Let us stop the lack of discipline. Stop recklessness on the road. According to our President’s order, let us strive to ensure that only roadworthy vehicles should operate and all drivers should have discipline in driving),” Tugade said.—AAC

‘Tracker team’ all set for deployment as Duterte’s surrender deadline for heinous crime convicts passes

Marje Pelayo   •   September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s surrender deadline for heinous crime convicts freed through the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) will be until midnight of Thursday (September 19).

After which, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy its tracker team to chase those who refuse to yield to the President’s call.

According to National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) Chief Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, out of 1,914 heinous crime convicts released under GCTA, a total of 202 reside in Metro Manila.

From that number, only 26 surrendered.

Therefore, a total 176 convicts remain at large and they are the target of the NCRPO’s tracker team.

“All the tracker teams natin of the 176 targets in Metro Manila, they will start their manhunt at 12 o’ clock. They are distributed in the 26 police station,” Eleazar said.

“Within 6 hours from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock all the 176 addresses, lahat iyon ay pupuntahan ng tracker teams natin, (They will all be chased by our tracker teams,)” he added.

Eleazar said they want to arrest their targets alive as much as possible.

“We want to get them alive, but kung mayroong (but in the event of) aggressive behavior on their part, of course, we have to defend ourselves,” he explained.

The official warned to file appropriate charges against those convicts who would refuse arrest.

Earlier today, four convicts surrendered to the NCRPO though their names were not included in the list of GCTA-freed convicts of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

All they wanted, they said, was to make sure their lives are safe.

They are now under the custody of the BuCor. – MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte orders revamp at BuCor due to corruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 19, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the revamp of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Wednesday (September 18) due to alleged corruption.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has confirmed that the president plans to remove all the officials and employees at BuCor.

“It’s total revamp. He’ll remove all of them there,” he said. Panelo explained that BuCor officials and employees will be placed on floating status.

“Because of the corruption there. He [Duterte] wants to stop it,” he added.

BuCor is currently facing corruption allegations after 1,914 heinous crime convicts were released through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

During the Senate hearing, several BuCor officials also admitted other irregularities including the “hospital pass for sale” scheme.

The revamp, Panelo said, would give way for the newly appointed BuCor chief Gerald Quitaleg Bantag to freely select the people he would want to work with in BuCor.—AAC

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