Pangilinan questions motive behind Duterte’s offer to Robredo

Robie de Guzman   •   November 6, 2019   •   540

Senator Francis Pangilinan

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is questioning the motive behind the move of President Rodrigo Duterte to designate Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

Pangilinan said the offer, which was based on Executive Order 15 establishing ICAD, seemed like a ploy to silence Robredo from criticizing the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“Kataka-taka lang ang motibo ng Malacañang sa EO na ito. Malayo sa naunang pronouncement na itatalaga si VP bilang drug czar. Bakit biglang co-chair na lang? Takot ba sila na bigyan ng tunay na kapangyarihan si VP at baka masapawan sila o may tamaan?” he said in a statement.

“Epektibong stratehiya laban sa naglipanang illegal drugs ba ang tunay na layunin nitong EO o epektibong stratehiya para ipitin at patahimikin ang Bise Presidente na tumututol sa araw-araw na patayan ng mahihirap habang pinapalusot ang mga ninja cops, ninja sa Customs, at mga sindikato ng droga?” he added.

According to Pangilinan, the appointment may be accepted by Robredo if the current framework of the drug war is “publicly discarded for being based on false assumptions” such as the treatment of drug addiction as a criminal issue and that drug users must be killed daily.

“Drug addiction is a health problem. It is largely rooted in poverty and inequality,” he said.

“Hindi masosolusyunan ng pagtutok sa maliliit na drug user at pusher ang problema ng droga. At hindi masosolusyunan ng pagpatay ang problema ng gutom at kahirapan,” he added.

The senator, president of Liberal Party, said there are other issues that the government must focus on such as the spread of African Swine Fever in the country, victims of recent Mindanao quakes and other woes faced by local rice farmers.

On Tuesday, Malacañang released a document dated Oct. 31 stating Duterte’s formal designation of Robredo as co-chairperson in the committee on anti-illegal drugs until June 30, 2022.

The president’s move came after the vice president called on the former to allow the United Nations to investigate his war on drugs, which she said was “not working.” She later clarified that she meant to urge the administration to assess its campaign.

Robredo herself has yet to comment on the proposal on Wednesday but her spokesperson earlier called on the offer as “meaningless,” and that Malacañang is not serious regarding the issue.

Senate OKs bill giving Duterte power to delay class opening during public crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte ‘flexibility’ to schedule the opening of classes in schools during a state of emergency.

Voting 23-0, senators on Monday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1541, which proposes to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act 7797, a law which sets the opening of school-year as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the country.

Once enacted into law, the bill would authorize the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education, to set the opening of classes nationwide or in selected areas at any date during a state of emergency or calamity.

A similar measure has been approved in the committee level in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The approval of the proposed measure comes amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected millions of people worldwide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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