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

Robie de Guzman   •   November 7, 2019   •   736

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.

Marcos wants Leonen to inhibit from poll protest vs Robredo

Maris Federez   •   November 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is asking Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to inhibit from the hearing of his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

The Marcos camp claimed that Justice Leonen had shown his prejudices against the said election protest.

Marcos said Leonen, the justice-in-charge on the case, had been one of those who had been against the burial of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He is also an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III whose family is known as a political rival of the Marcoses.

Marcos claims that Leonen has been dragging the case with his inaction.

“Justice Leonen has prejudged this case. He’s hostile to me and to our entire group if you may call that. And we see some instances where he expressed an opinion against the Marcoses. Me, in particular, and the Marcoses, in general,” the former senator said.

He also alleged that Justice Leonen had been delaying the proceedings of the case by asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor-General on whether the high court has jurisdiction on the case.

“Naging maliwanag sa akin ang dahilan kung bakit niya hiningan ng comment ay magdelay ulit at imposible para sa akin na hindi niya nalalaman. Isang justice ng Supreme Court, hindi nalalaman ang batas tungkol diyan? Hihingi tungkol sa jurisdiction?” he said.

Aside from Leonen’s inhibition, the Marcos camp also wants to have the election protest raffled off again and for the court to arrive at a resolution for all the pending details on the said protest.

Among these is the nullification of the votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao due to the reported harassment of voters and alleged preshading of ballots.

Marcos personally went to the Supreme Court on Monday morning (November 9) with his lawyers, Atty George Erwin Garcia and Atty. Vic Rodriguez who is also his spokesperson.

Marcos hopes that, with Leonen’s inhibition, the case will proceed accordingly and will be immediately resolved.

“Pag wala na si Justice Leonen kung mag-inhibit siya may pag-asa na hindi na madelay; may pag-asa matatapos in time. Pag si Justice ang nakaupo, in charge diyan, sa aking pananaw, imposibleng matatapos ito in time. Pipilitin niya ipupwersa abutin ang filing para maging moot and academic.  Eleven months walang ginawa walang sinulat walang inilabas na desisyon,” he claimed. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

PET orders Comelec, SolGen to comment on Robredo-Marcos poll protest

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on the bid of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to nullify the election results in three provinces in Mindanao.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the PET ordered the Comelec to submit in 20 days its comment on issues related to annulment of elections in connection with Marcos’ third cause of action in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, which is the annulment of election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao due to alleged terrorism, intimidation, voter harassment and pre-shading of ballots.

The tribunal also directed the poll body and the OSG to comment on whether the PET has the power to declare the annulment of elections without special elections; and the failure of elections and order the conduct of special elections.

The PET likewise asked the Comelec and the OSG whether the tribunal’s declaration of failure of elections, and an order for special elections, will violate the poll body’s mandate under the constitution.

The tribunal also ordered the poll body to report to the justices if petitions for failure of elections were filed in the three Mindanao provinces; if the petitions were granted or denied and if special elections were held in the said areas, and the results of these special elections.

It likewise directed that the Comelec and the OSG be furnished copies of its Oct. 15, 2019 resolution and of the separate memoranda submitted by camps of Robredo and Marcos on the said resolution.

In a statement, Robredo’s camp welcomed the development, saying it will help fast-track the resolution of the election protest.

“We will comply with the High Tribunal’s order and wait for the comments of the Commission on Elections and the Solicitor General on the pending matters,” said lawyer Beng Sardillo, Robredo’s counsel.

“We fully believe that the High Tribunal will uphold Vice President Leni Robredo’s victory as seen in the 2016 results and in the recount of ballots. In 2016, our lead was 263,473 votes. And after the recount, our lead increased to 278,566 votes,” Sardillo added.

Marcos’ camp, on the other hand, views the order “with extreme reservation,” as it added “another layer that would cause tremendous delay” in referring the matter to Comelec and the OSG.

Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez said their protest is under real threat of becoming moot and academic because there is a very thin time left in the term of the contested position.

“May threat na po ang aming election protest na maging moot and academic sapagkat nariyan na po sa paligid ang events of 2022 (elections), nalalapit na po yung filing of candidacy nariyan na po yung campaign period and eventually the conduct of national election,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Robredo urges DepEd to realign budget to fund blended learning, address health concerns

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to realign the items in its budget to finance the distance learning program and respond to the needs of teachers and students as the country shifts to a blending learning system amid the pandemic.

In a letter dated August 10 addressed to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, Robredo said the department must realign its P29-billion budget for rehabilitation of school buildings to procure gadgets and other equipment for distance learning and hazard pay for teachers.

“Around P29.5 billion was earmarked for the rehabilitation of school buildings for 2020. Given the shift to distance learning, many of these school buildings will be left without children to occupy them, thus deprioritizing the need for the rehabilitation of physical spaces,” she said.

“This amount can be used to procure the needed gadget and equipment for distance learning as well as address the health concerns of educators,” she added.

Robredo also noted that 61% or around 14 million households do not have access to the internet, adding that 74% or some 34,700 schools do not have the infrastructure to engage in online learning.

“While we understand that the department has set up the DepEd Commons learning platform for students to access lessons on their worn, we have received reports that only 7 million students have so far subscribed to this platform,” she said.

“This constitutes only 35% of the estimated 20 million public school students in the country,” she added.

Aside from access to internet connection and self-learning modules, Robredo also called on DepEd to protect the health and safety of educators by conducting mass testing, with testing and distribution of results done before classes start; providing sufficient fund for physical check-up and medicine; providing supplies such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, among others; distributing hazard pay on time, and; establishing a system for the health and wellness needs of the teachers.

She said such initiatives can be funded by realigning DepEd’s P700 million budget allotted for teachers’ trainings.

“Many of these trainings have already, or will be, shifted to online modalities, thus freeing up resources that would otherwise have been used for travel and accommodations,” Robredo said.

“Rest assured that we understand the complexity of the challenges before us. We submit these insights and recommendations in the spirit of solidarity so that we may all, as one nation, build the better normal that our people deserve,” she added.

In response to the vice president’s recommendations, Briones said they cannot just make any significant realignment in their budget without consulting the Department of Budget and Management.

She also said they have allotted P9 billion fund for the reproduction of modules and that these have been forwarded to DepEd regional and division offices.

Briones likewise assured they have laid out programs to ensure the safety and health of educators as she reiterated that no face-to-face classes will be implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been paying hazard pay before COVID-19 for teachers who are in places na malayo ang sasakyan, malayo sa urban area. May standard kasi yan,” she said.

“Ulitin ko walang face-to-face until hangga’t walang vaccine yun ang sinasabi ni president; therefore, the teachers will not be exposed as a result of teaching. If they will be exposed, there might be other causes,” she added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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