Malacañang open to scrapping controversial Oplan Tokhang

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019   •   666

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.

VP Robredo commemorates 3rd Marawi Siege anniversary

Maris Federez   •   May 23, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Community leaders survey damaged houses and buildings inside war-torn Marawi, Philippines January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tom Allard

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday issued a statement commemorating the harrowing events of the Marawi Siege.

“Today, we mark the third anniversary of the Marawi Siege. To this day, the city lies in ruins, and its people’s lives are frozen in time. Many of its residents remain in temporary shelter communities,” Robredo said.

The vice president recalled how the city of Marawi has been suffering “even as we all face the challenges brought about by COVID-19.”

She recounts how events bring people to connect as one.

“The ongoing crisis should have by now made us realize: The suffering of one redounds to the suffering of all. Magkakarugtong ang diwa at pamumuhay ng bawat Pilipino. Ang hamon sa isa ay hamon sa lahat; ang pagpapabaya sa isa ay pagpapabaya sa lahat; ang ginhawa at pag-angat ng mga nasa laylayan ay pag-angat ng lahat. Healing requires the entire nation to bring its resources to bear,” Robredo articulated.

“Let us also remember that temporary shelter communities pose an even more profound challenge given the virality of COVID-19. Any outbreak in these tightly-packed communities will increase the risk for all of us, and affect a public health system that is already under tremendous strain,” she added.

The vice president also touched on the forthcoming celebration of the Muslim holiday, Eid’l Fitr.

“A few days from now, we will celebrate Eid’l Fitr, a Muslim holiday whose message of compassion and inclusiveness should resonate with every Filipino regardless of creed. Three years of inaction and neglect in Marawi is a thousand days too long,” she said.

She also appealed on concerned authorities to fast track their actions to extend help to the people of Marawi.

“We call on all concerned agencies to accelerate their actions while exercising full transparency. Marawi is not merely a tragedy to be remembered; it is an ongoing problem that needs to be solved,” the vice president concluded. — /mbmf

Palace contradicts DOH; clarifies PH still in first wave

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 21, 2020

Malacañang on Thursday (May 21) clarified that the Philippines is still experiencing the first wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), contrary to the statement of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The Palace apologized for the confusion and worry brought by Duque’s statement and said there were varying interpretations of the data.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that the country is still in the first wave of the COVID-19 infection.

“Nagpapatuloy po ang first wave. Katunayan, nagpatuloy ito sa buwan ng Pebrero na may kaunti kasi na na-report at lumobo sa buwan ng March. Patuloy pong lumobo iyan hanggang sa buwan ng Mayo, kung saan nakikita natin ngayon na bumababa na (The first wave continues. In fact, it continued from February, with few reports, and ballooned in March. It continues to increase until May, where we can see there is a decline),” he said.

Roque also said Duque did not go through the protocol to inform President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the interpretation of the second wave.

READ: Duque: Philippines now on second wave of COVID-19 cases

However, the Palace official said the varying of opinions is not of importance and the government, including the public, should focus on how to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“Ang importante maiwasan po ang pagbalik ng malawakang numero ng magkakasakit sa COVID-19. Nagkakaisa po ang gobyerno na gagawin ang lahat ng hakbang upang maiwasan ang second wave (What’s important is, we prevent another increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The government is united in doing everything to prevent a second wave),” Roque said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

DBM, pinahahanap ng dagdag na pondo para sa ikalawang bugso ng cash aid – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   May 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Inatasan na ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang Department of Budget and Management (DB M) na humanap ng dagdag na pondo para sa pamamahagi ng ikalawang bugso ng government cash aid sa ilalim ng Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, inutusan na ng pangulo si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado na gumawa ng listahan ng mga ahensiyang maaaring pagkunan ng kinakailangang pondo para sa second tranche ng SAP.

Nasa 18 milyong mahihirap na pamilya sa bansa ang unang target na mabigyan ng ayuda sa ilalim ng government emergency subsidy program.

Aabot sa P205 milyon ang inilaang pondo para sa programa, batay sa nakasaad sa Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Ngunit matapos ang pamamahagi ng unang batch ng pinansiyal na ayuda, nadagdagan pa ng limang milyon ang bilang ng pamilya na humihingi ng tulong mula sa pamahalaan dahil sa matinding hirap na dinaranas sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.

Inaprubahan na ng pangulo ang dagdag na benepisyaryo ng programa kaya’t kailangan ngayon ng pamahalaan ng dagdag na pondo para tustusan ito.

“Inaatasan niya si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado, suriin niya ang mga budgetary allocations ng line agencies. Tingnan kung magkano ang pwedeng ma-realign dahil nais niya sana kung pwedeng bigyan lahat ng 23 million families ng ayuda ng 2nd tranche din,” ani Roque.

Una nang inamin ng administrasyong Duterte na paubos na ang pondo ng pamahalaan para sa COVID-19 response at hindi pa tiyak kung saan kukunin ang perang ipang-aayuda sa mga labis na naapektuhan ng krisis.

Nanawagan na rin ang pangulo sa liderato ng Kongreso na tumulong sa paghahanap ng pondo para sa mga programa ng gobyerno. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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