Malacañang open to scrapping controversial Oplan Tokhang

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019   •   801

Operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) keep a man on the ground during a raid in San Martin De Porres district of Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 03 March 2017.  EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has announced that it is willing to scrap the government’s controversial anti-drug Operation Tokhang or Oplan Tokhang.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (November 11) announced that the administration was allowing Vice President Leni Robredo to do whatever she wanted to do as the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

“As long as VP Leni is in charge, whatever she feels that should be enforced, we will do it. It is a ‘yes’ if she wants it,” Panelo said.

“She’s been given the authority. If she wants to scrap it, she’s the anti-drug czar. If she thinks there’s something more effective then she should do that,” she added.

However, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who launched the campaign in 2016, reacted to the Vice President’s proposal of scrapping Tokhang.

“I don’t admit that Oplan Tokhang is a failure,” he said.

He noted that if not for Oplan Tokhang, the PNP could not have arrested 130,000 drug personalities and could not have yielded 1.6 million surrenderers.

“What’s wrong with Oplan Tokhang? Baka hindi lang nila matanggap-tanggap talaga na itong Oplan na ito ay talagang sinira ang diskarte ng mga drug personalities dito (Maybe they just couldn’t accept that this Oplan ruined the schemes of drug personalities,)” Dela Rosa stressed.

Oplan Tokhang is the infamous anti-illegal drugs campaign that aims to encourage drug personalities to surrender to authorities but is also hounded by allegations of senseless killings.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Robredo to her new post after her series of rants against the government’s policies on eliminating illegal drugs.

Though Dela Rosa approved of Robredo joining drug raids, the former PNP Chief hit on the Vice President saying she should start working and prove herself in action first before asking for additional budget.

“Mahirap naman kakapasok mo pa lang funds na agad ang hinahanap mo. Dapat trabaho muna (It’s difficult to prioritize funds right after you take over the position. You should prove through actions first),” dela Rosa noted.

Palace calls proposed Philippine Human Rights Act filed in US Congress a very ‘wild suggestion’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 24, 2020

Malacañang has slammed a proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress that seeks to suspend the security assistance provided by the United States of America to the Philippines.

Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild sponsored the Philippine Human Rights Act last September 17 as she criticized the alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines and “brutal” regime under President Rodrigo Duterte through the Anti-Terrorism Law. Wild is pushing to halt U.S. funding for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“That’s a very ‘wild’ suggestion. Hayaan na po natin. Iyan po ay personal na opinion ni Congresswoman Wild (We should just let it go. That is the personal opinion of Congresswoman Wild),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, adding that the proposed act has little chance of getting approved.

He also reiterated that Malacañang is confident that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump will uphold Philippine-US relations.

Roque said the Philippines will not interfere with U.S sovereignty and will not stop the proposed act from progressing through the legislative process. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace on MECQ extension: Health-economy balance needed

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 10, 2020

Amid requests for extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Malacañang said it is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to decide if an extension is necessary.

In a statement on Monday (August 10), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a balance between health and the country’s economy is needed while fighting against the pandemic.

“On the suggestion to make the MECQ effective for one month, this is a decision that has to be made by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). It entails a delicate balancing of protecting and saving people’s health to protecting and saving the economic health of the nation,” Roque said.

Former Special Adviser to National Task Force Against Covid-19 Dr. Anthory Leachon said that in order to flatten the curve, MECQ in NCR and other provinces should be extended to one month.

“Kung talagang MECQ ang gusto nila, isagad nila ng isang buwan, tapos ibuild-up na iyong healthcare capacity. Magpa-flatten tayo ng curve, (If they really want MECQ, they should extend it for a month then build up healthcare capacity. We might flatten the curve),” Leachon said in a statement.

Meanwhile, several members of the IATF and Cabinet members will fly to Davao City for a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace unconvinced PH has higher COVID-19 cases than Indonesia

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

Malacañang is not convinced that the Philippines has surpassed Indonesia in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During a press briefing on Friday (August 7), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines is conducting more COVID-19 tests which resulted in more confirmed cases.

Ibig sabihin po dahil mas maigiting ang ating pagte-test hindi totoo na mas marami tayo kaso kaysa sa Indonesia. Hindi lamang nalalaman ng mga Indonesian kung sino-sino ang mga umiikot na mayroong sakit at least tayo alam kung sino po sila (It means we are conducting more tests. It is not true that we have more cases than Indonesia. The Indonesians don’t know who are sick at least, on our case, we know),” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has previously explained that the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines cannot be compared to other countries because of the population difference and health care system.

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said no country can say they have been successful in their fight against COVID-19.

“No country could ever say they are successful. Look at Japan, look at Italy, even Vietnam, and Singapore,” he said. “We focus on what we are doing is appropriate, proper, and practical rather than everyday compare yourself.” -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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