Pangilinan asks public to support Robredo as she takes on drug war challenge

Robie de Guzman   •   November 7, 2019   •   600

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan called on Filipinos to support Vice President Leni Robredo as she takes on the task of co-chairing the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

Pangilinan said Robredo is facing a dangerous challenge ahead and would need the public’s full support to succeed.

“Mapanganib ang kanyang hinaharap na pagsubok at naniniwala tayo na kapag buo ang suporta at pagkilos ng mamamayan sa magiging hakbang niya ay mas matitiyak ang kanyang tagumpay,” he said in a statement.

Robredo on Wednesday accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer for her to become co-chairperson of ICAD, in a bid to stop the killing of innocent lives under the administration’s war on drugs.

Pangilinan said the Liberal Party supported its chairperson’s decision although they are in doubt of Malacañang’s motive and sincerity about its offer.

“Bagamat hindi natin matiyak ang motibo at sinseridad ng Malacañang sa pag-alok sa nasabing pwesto, wala tayong duda sa sinseridad ng ating Bise Presidente sa kanyang layunin na hanapan ng tunay na solusyon ang problema sa iligal na droga sa bansa,” he said.

“Maliwanag ang naging pahayag ng ating Bise Pangulo na sa pagtanggap niya sa nasabing hamon ay tututulan nya ang araw-araw na patayan, papanagutin niya ang mga ninja cops, at hahabulin niya ang mga sindikato ng droga at mga kasabwat nito na nasa likod ng pagpapalusot ng tone-toneladang shabu sa BoC. Dahil dito, buo ang ating pagsuporta sa kanya,” he added.

He added that before Robredo’s announcement of her acceptance of the post, the party discussed and weighed its pros and cons.

“Pinag-usapan sa partido ang offer. Tinimbang ang mga pros at cons. At kahit alam ni VP Leni na maaaring patibong ito, tinanggap niya ang hamon. Mas matimbang sa kanya ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan na target ng madugong drug war,” he said.

Robredo’s camp initially expressed wariness on Duterte’s offer for her to co-lead the government’s war on drugs, even calling the appointment “meaningless,” and the post “problematic” and “non-existent.

But despite questions surrounding the offer, the vice president said she would accept the task and focus on what she can contribute to the anti-drug campaign.

Probe on surge of fake Facebook accounts sought in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is seeking a Senate investigation into the sudden proliferation of fake accounts on Facebook.

In filing Senate Resolution 444, Pangilinan urged the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry into the surge of Facebook accounts that use identities of students, government officials, journalists, and other users.

He noted that the sudden surge of dummy Facebook accounts follows the protests staged on the streets and online against the anti-terrorism bill.

“Some Facebook users reported to have received threats from said dummy accounts using their names. The threats even go as far as calling said users ‘terrorists’,” he said in a statement.

The senator said his resolution seeks to find out if there is a need to amend Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and other pertinent laws to make them more responsive to the situation.

The inquiry would also help determine “possible regulation of social media platforms, in accordance with the policy that respects the rights and freedoms of all Filipinos guaranteed by the Constitution.”

“It is the declared policy of the State to protect and safeguard the integrity of communications systems, networks, and databases, and the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and data stored therein, from all forms of misuse, abuse, and illegal access,” the resolution read.

The senator also underscored in the resolution the need to look into the country’s existing laws “to increase the extent of liability and possible regulation of service providers or content hosts such as Facebook and other social media platforms.”

“Legislation must be carefully crafted so as to balance the rights and freedoms accorded to every Filipino by the Constitution and the public interest to be protected from dangerous acts online,” Pangilinan said in the measure.

Facebook earlier said it is currently looking into the suspicious activity on its platform. The Department of Justice also said it will conduct its own investigation.

“We should not be utterly defenseless against social media manipulation and threats. We must use our laws to fight the fakes online,” Pangilinan said.

OVP purchases P14-M worth of COVID-19 test kits developed by UP scientists

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 24, 2020

The office of Vice President (OVP) Leni Robredo has purchased P14 million worth of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits developed by the scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP).

In a statement, the OVP said the test kits will be delivered to hospitals certified as laboratories for COVID-19 testing. These include San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, V. Luna Hospital, and Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory.

The testing kits will help in conducting a total of 10,000 tests.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) previously said the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and Philippine Genome Center aim to increase test kit production as well as increase COVID-19 testing capacity per day.

“With the deployment of the test kits, UP-NIH will increase its capacity to run more tests per day, as each unit of the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit can run 25 tests at once and provide results within two hours,” the DOST said in the statement.

Deputy Executive Director of the Philippine Genome Center Dr. Raul Destura said there is 8,000 to 10,000 tests produced daily and they aim to increase it by 16,000 tests per day by May 1. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Senators blast politicians taking advantage of COVID-19 crisis to campaign for 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   April 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Minority senators on Friday lambasted politicians who are taking advantage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis to advance their political agenda, hampering the speedy delivery of relief to millions of poor families.

In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros criticized politicians who are exploiting the current public health situation to campaign for the 2022 elections, leaving millions of vulnerable and low-income Filipino families unassisted.

“It is not red tape. It is the 2022 political campaign that is hampering the immediate distribution of relief to millions of poor families,” the senators said.

The lawmakers issued the statement following complaints regarding the “sluggish” release of assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government agencies.

“It saddens us that there are people who could be so heartless and power hungry as to take advantage of this crisis to advance their political ambition,” the lawmakers said.

“To presidential wannabees, hands off, please. Go away,” they added.

The senators stressed that the distribution of disaster aid and the bureaucracy is politicized when political campaign gets in the way.

“Worse, national and local officials who have shown initiative and innovation in responding to COVID-19 crisis are politicized, criticized and crucified, which would only add to the suffering of our countrymen and women,” they said.

The lawmakers also called on private corporations and charity groups to be discerning and to not allow themselves to be used for obvious political propaganda, especially during these trying times.

They also called on the DSWD and other government agencies to just use their existing database instead of distributing social amelioration cards (SAC) in implementing the government’s emergency subsidy program for the COV-19 crisis as provided in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The SAC is a form being distributed at the barangay level to capture the family profile, which will be used as the basis in providing aid to the affected families.

“Let us spare our fellow Filipinos this unnecessary procedure. Our kababayans are getting hungry and desperate for help. They lost jobs. Give the aid ASAP,” they said.

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