Palace not keen on Robredo impeachment talk

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2019   •   1384

Vice President Leni Robredo | Courtesy : OVP

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday distanced itself from the impeachment threat against Vice President Leni Robredo over her remarks supporting a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution seeking to review the human rights situation in the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it will leave it to the courts to decide whether Robredo should be impeached.

“You know, we have better things to do. There are so many problems in this country. I will leave it to those who would want to initiate whatever they want to initiate against whomsoever,” Panelo told reporters in a Palace press briefing.

The Palace official made the statement after Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Manuelito Luna threatened to file an impeachment rap against Robredo for backing the resolution seeking to probe the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

“Vice President Robredo’s expression of support to the UNHRC against the Philippine government may cause her to be impeached,” Luna said in a statement.

“For the nth time, she has made it appear that the government is guilty of human rights abuses, and that’s betrayal of public trust,” he added.

Luna, however, clarified his statement was just a warning.

When asked if Robredo’s expression of support for the UN resolution can be used to impeach her, Panelo replied: “If gross ignorance is the ground for impeachment, is that a ground under the Constitution? But I will let the advocate pursue that line.”

“There are many legal opinions as there are lawyers, impeachment court will be the ultimate decider of that legal issue,” he added. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Malacañang open to scrapping controversial Oplan Tokhang

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019

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.

Robredo meets with UN officials to push for health-based anti-drug campaign

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing for a stronger, community-based drug rehabilitation program as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD).

Robredo believes that the community has an important role to play in solving the illegal drug menace in the country.

The meeting identified all existing and effective anti-drug programs that other countries have been implementing which can be applied also in the Philippines.

“One of the key learnings of the experiences of other countries is the emphasis on the public health approach and how that can be given equal importance together with the law enforcement approach,” explained USec. Philip Dy of the Office of the Vice President.

Prior to this, Robredo convened the core members of the Community Based Drug Rehab Alliance (COBRA) in an initial attempt to involve the private sector in the government’s war against illegal drugs.

Based on data, 90 percent of drug dependents across the country can be considered ‘occasional users’ who need help from the community.

Robredo is expected to meet again with member agencies of ICAD for follow-ups in the coming days. – MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

VP Robredo wants to involve private sector in drug war

Marje Pelayo   •   November 11, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo met with the private sector on Monday (November 11) days after she officially accepted the appointment of drug czar.

Among the agenda in the closed-door meeting was to promote a health-based and faith-based approach in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

According to Robredo, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has expressed support to the initiative of the Community-Based Drug Rehab Alliance (COBRA) on the matter.

“Secretary Año and USec. Echiverri were both very open to the idea of providing idea for this platform,” Robredo said.

“Kasi andami nang experiences on the ground na pwedeng yung lessons manggaling sa mga advocates and private organizations working (There are a lot of experiences on the ground which could be learned from advocates and private organizations working),” she added.

The Vice President has been vocal in her proposal to involve the private sector in the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) since she accepted the position from President Rodrigo Duterte, despite being a staunch critic of the campaign.

Robredo said the war on drugs is not a government matter but also a community concern as well.

“Ang nangyayari, ang gobyerno may ginagawa, ang private may ginagawa, pero walang masyadong (What’s happening is that the government has its own action plan while the private sector also has its own, but there is no) linkage except in local government unit like Caloocan,“ she explained.

Robredo noted that the campaign would be more effective if there would be a collaboration between the public and the private sectors.

She further stressed that it would be helpful to evaluate and use a basis for the anti-drug campaign scholarly studies especially the updated statistics in relation to problems on illegal drugs. – MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

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