Palace welcomes Robredo initiatives in fight vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2021   •   318

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday agreed with Vice President Leni Robredo’s recent remark on the need to prioritize the response to the COVID-19 crisis as it welcomed the latter’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace appreciates Robredo’s initiatives to ensure success in combating COVID-19.

“We welcome the initiatives of the Vice President in the fight against COVID-19 which she enumerated in her Ulat sa Bayan and we are in no way diminishing her efforts in this trying time,” he said.

“Any contribution, including policy recommendations from the political opposition, to ensure the successful fight against the pandemic, is much appreciated,” he added.

Robredo earlier said that the response to the pandemic and its effects should be the priority and that it should be mirrored in the budget allocation, meeting agenda and other government efforts to raise vaccine confidence.

She also suggested for the government to offer incentives to those who are hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine instead of threatening to apprehend them.

Malacañang also agreed with Robredo’s message that it is the Filipinos who helped and came to the rescue of fellow Filipinos amid the pandemic.

Roque said that in fact, President Rodrigo Duterte paid tribute to all frontline workers during his final State of the Nation Address on Monday.

“We reiterate: Now is the time to focus on COVID-19 and help the national government in achieving population protection; so together, we will recover and have a happy Christmas and a better future for all Filipinos,” he added.

Philippines won’t cooperate with ICC probe, Palace maintains

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday maintained that the Philippine government will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines and its decision to authorize an investigation into the killings under the government’s war on drugs is interference into the country’s domestic affairs.

He also stressed that the country has already withdrawn from the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the ICC.

In March 2019, the Philippines effectively withdrew from the Rome Statute after Duterte cancelled the country’s membership of the ICC’s founding treaty.

Under the ICC’s withdrawal mechanism, the court retains jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state.

The ICC on Wednesday said that its Pre-Trial Chamber 1 has granted then Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to formally conduct a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war.

Bensouda previously argued that there is a reasonable basis to believe that murder has been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of the state policy.

But Panelo said the ICC can only conduct an investigation if the state’s judicial system is no longer functional, which is not the case in the Philippines.

It must also be proven that the state is unwilling to prosecute suspects in order for the ICC to launch a probe.

Panelo said ICC probers will not be allowed to enter the Philippines. He also believes that the investigation was politically motivated.

Mayor Sara urges supporters to back President Duterte’s VP bid

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has called on the public to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s vice presidential bid in the upcoming 2022 elections.

The presidential daughter made the call as she reiterated her earlier stand that she will not run for president after her father formally accepted the nomination as the vice presidential bet of the ruling party, PDP-Laban.

“Mayroong kaming maayos na kasunduan ni Pangulong Duterte sa aming kani-kaniyang karera sa pulitika. Ibigay po natin sa kanya ang pinakamalakas natin na suporta sa kanyang desisyon na tumakbong vice president,” she said in a video message posted on her official social media account.

Mayor Sara earlier said she will not seek a national position in next year’s polls, adding that her father’s political plans will not affect her own.

Sara Duterte has consistently topped presidential election surveys.

Several political parties have also declared their support for the mayor should she decide to join the presidential race.

Mayor Sara thanked those who have expressed their support and trust in her capability as a leader.

“Pinapaabot ko ang aking taos pusong pasasalamat sa mahigit kumulang 700 parallel groups na nag-oorganisa para ako ay tumakbong pangulo. Ito ay isang karangalan na hindi nabibili at hindi ibinibigay sa lahat ng pulitiko… Sana ay ituloy natin ang pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan, kahit hindi para sa kandidatura o sa eleksyon,” she said.

Duterte tells Cabinet execs to get clearance first before attending Senate hearing

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered Cabinet members to seek his clearance first before attending Senate inquiries.

 “I will require that the Cabinet members invited to your [Senate] hearings that he will clear the invitation with me,” Duterte said in a taped public address that was aired on Tuesday.

The president issued the statement as he once again criticized the Senate for holding investigations into the government’s pandemic response for the alleged anomalous transactions and purchase of pandemic supplies.

Duterte said he is not questioning Senate’s authority to conduct investigations in aid of legislation. However, he noted that some officials invited as resource persons, especially those coming from the Executive department, have attended the hearings for hours but are not given the time to say their testimonies.

He also acknowledged the upper chamber’s power to cite a person in contempt but stressed that as the president, he can also exercise his authority over his Cabinet members.

“May option kayo to cite the person in contempt. Ako na magsabi. Ako ang may utos na hindi mag-attend,” he said.

“I think I can do it as a president really if there is an abuse of authority there or exceeding the authority of the reasonable time that the Congress conducts hearing I will limit what you can do with the Rxecutive department of the government,” he added.

He also accused lawmakers of “stretching” the hearings as part of their strategies come 2022 elections.

“Tingnan ko kung pabalik-balik na lang with no other purpose except to ramble, to stretch the hearing because that is good for election until may be the election itself. Okay man yan because you are entitled to your own strategy,” he said.

Duterte likewise said he will campaign against Senator Richard Gordon for being an “unfit” lawmaker.

Gordon is the chairman of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that is holding a probe into the government’s COVID-19 response.

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