Panelo: Robredo’s ‘missteps’ pushed Duterte to change mind on Cabinet post offer

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2019   •   398

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s actions – deemed as missteps – as the country’s co-chairperson of the government’s ant-illegal drug campaign has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to decide against giving her a Cabinet post, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president’s decision follows Robredo’s meetings with officials from the United Nations and the United States and other community-based advocacy groups after she accepted the appointment to co-lead the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

“The Vice President talking with – and seeking the advice of – certain foreign institutions and personalities that have prejudged the campaign against illegal drugs as a violation of human rights, as well as a crime against humanity, did not sit well with the President,” Panelo said in a statement.

“The VP’s actions are all documented in mainstream and social media,” he added.

“These missteps not only derailed PRRD’s [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] well-meaning intent for the Vice President to be part of the administration, but registered red signs that could not be ignored,” he further stated.

Panelo also said that Robredo’s request to get access to classified information on the government’s war on drugs, including the list of high-value targets, was a “revelation of which could imperil the welfare of the Filipino people and the security of the state.”

He said this added to the chief executive’s reconsideration of his earlier offer to give her a Cabinet post.

“Being a member of the Cabinet gives Ms. Robredo unlimited access to sensitive State matters which, if transmitted by her, whether purposely or otherwise could result to adverse consequences, especially since the VP has the tendency to be generous with acquired information and knowledge to others whose predilection may not be in the best interest of the country,” the Palace official said.

Duterte earlier clarified that Robredo is not a member of his Cabinet despite her designation as ICAD’s co-chair.

“I have not signed an appointment designating her as a cabinet,” the president said.

The president previously said he will appoint Robredo as a Cabinet member if she becomes anti-drug czar.

“I will swear her as a Cabinet member. First, balik siya so that she will have the authority. Eh alam mo ang Cabinet members are alter ego lang ng Presidente ‘yan. So kung may gawain ang Cabinet member, it is as if it is mine. So to make it legal, just a little fiat. Hindi na kailangan na mag-ano pa ako sa Congress. I will just make her the — a Cabinet member. Tapos, all drug cases and all things, matters in connection with drugs iyo na ‘yan hanggang katapusan ng term ko,” Duterte said in a media interview on Oct. 31.

The chief executive earlier threatened to fire Robredo as ICAD’s co-chair if she divulged confidential information on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

The vice president on Monday assured that no sensitive information will be disclosed.

Duterte can scrap PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement without Senate approval – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US) even without the concurrence of the Senate, Malacañang said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the president threatened to scrap the VFA if the US government does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said.

Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed to media that he is not allowed to travel to the US for now after he received notification about his visa cancellation.

The senator said the exact reason on why his US visa was cancelled remains unclear but he heard reports it might be linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs that he spearheaded when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2016 to 2018.

The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington in 1998, is a bilateral deal which outlines the guidelines for the conduct of government troops when they are visiting the US or the Philippines.

Panelo said the US government should not intervene with the Philippines’ internal issues.

The Palace official also believes the president’s threat to cancel the VFA will not affect Filipino workers in the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace hopes new round of pay hike motivates state workers

Robie de Guzman   •   January 9, 2020

A Filipino elementary student holds on to a teacher during the first day of classes for the new school year at the Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School in Quezon City, Philippines 04 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday expressed hope that government workers would work harder following the signing of the Salary Standardization Law of 2019.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure granting wage increase for government employees, in four tranches, effective Fiscal Year 2020 to 2023.

In photos released by Malacañang, Duterte was shown signing the Republic Act 11466 on Wednesday, January 8 at the Palace. A copy of the signed law has yet to be made public.

Panelo said the new compensation scheme is competitive with those of the private sector to attract or maintain talented human resources.  

“The Palace hopes that this latest round of salary adjustment will motivate everyone in the public sector to work doubly hard and put more dedicated and competent service in their respective jobs,” he said.

Under the new law, basic salaries of government employees will increase by a weighted average of 23.24 percent by 2023.

The largest increases range from 20 to 30 percent for workers under Salary grades 10 to 15, while an eight percent raise will be given to those under Salary Grades 23 to 33.

The program will cover around 1.4 million state workers, including public school teachers and nurses.

“This recently enacted measure will rationalize the compensation of all civilian personnel, including those in the Legislative and Judicial Branches of the Government, as well as of Local Government Units under certain conditions, for the purpose of creating an atmosphere which would further promote excellence in the service,” Panelo said.

He added that the measure provides for a performance-based incentive scheme to reward outstanding public servants.

“The Office of the President notes that the law is at the initiative – and has the strong support – of PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) pursuant to his desire to upgrade the standard of living of government employees,” he said.

“The law is aimed at benefitting those hardworking men and women in the government, including our teachers and nurses who unfortunately have been neglected in the past,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PNP reiterates drug war successful, Robredo’s figures ‘totally wrong’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 7, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reiterated that the government’s war on drugs is a success, contrary to the figures reported by Vice President Leni Robredo.

PNP Officer-in-Charge Archie Gamboa said the campaign against illegal drugs was one hundred percent successful; this was after Robredo called the drug war unsuccessful during her report on Monday (January 6).

“Whether her numbers are merely an estimate or the exact value, in any case, the figure derived is totally wrong,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa also said that since 2016, they already destroyed 14 clandestine drug laboratories and 419 drugs dens.

The PNP had also confiscated around P40.39 billion worth of illegal drugs. These include 5.1 tons of shabu, 2.3 tons of marijuana, 500 kilos of cocaine, and over 42,000 pieces of the party drug, ecstasy.

Authorities have also arrested 220,728 individuals in 2016, with 8,185 high value targets.

Gamboa also reported that 5,552 drug personalities and 55 policemen were killed during illegal drug operations. Meanwhile, a total of 16,706 barangays are drug-free.

Gamboa said Robredo’s appreciation of statistics in her report was not mathematically acceptable. He also said that her 18 days as the co-chairman in the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) was not enough for her to provide estimates of the totality of the illegal drug campaign.

“Ang ginawa niya kin-quote niya iyong PDEG (What she did was, she quoted the PDEG) [Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group] that there are three tons of consumption per week for the drug problem of the Philippines and then in-equate niya ito sa drug recovered (then she equated it with the drugs recovered),” he said.

“Iyong appreciation niya doon sa statistics na iyon is wrong. Kung ganiyan ang appreciation niya (Her appreciation of the statistics is wrong. If that is her appreciation) it’s quite risky because if you have little knowledge that you present it could be very risky,” Gamboa added.

Meanwhile, the PNP official said despite the success of the government’s drug war, regional directors and head of national support units are doubling their efforts in the government’s war on drugs, terrorism, criminality, and corruption.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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