Philippines yet to receive formal request from ICC for proof of probe into drug war deaths – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021   •   210

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has yet to receive a formal request from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provide concrete information that it is conducting investigations into allegations involving the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles issued the statement following reports that ICC Prosecutor Khan will ask the Philippine government to provide substantiating information regarding its probe into allegations of crime committed under its war against drugs.

“We would like to clarify that we have yet to receive a formal request with regard to this matter. That being said, we reiterate our position that the ICC has no jurisdiction to probe our campaign against illegal drugs,” Nograles said.

“Clearly, the ICC prosecutor’s request for information is an acknowledgment that alleged victims can seek redress in Philippine legal institutions because these are independent, impartial, and competent,” he added.

Moreover, Nograles said that the ICC prosecutor’s statement “validates our earlier position that the ICC is the court of last resort, one that can be utilized when a State Party is unwilling to investigate and prosecute those who violate its laws.”

“This is simply not the case in the Philippines. Our criminal justice system continues to be capable and functional, and a case in point is the signing of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation of an agreement to conduct cooperative investigations,” he said.

Nograles stressed that this serves as “evidence that a culture of impunity does not exist in our country as local institutions have demonstrated their commitment to accountability.”

Khan, in a statement posted on Tuesday, said the Duterte administration must submit concrete proof that its is investigating allegations involving its war on drugs after the ICC deferred its probe upon the request of the Philippine government.

The ICC deferred the probe after the government said that investigations on reported deaths during anti-drug operations are underway.

“Such information must consist of tangible evidence, of probative value and a sufficient degree of specificity, demonstrating that concrete and progressive investigative steps have been or are currently being undertaken,” the statement read.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya wrote Khan that the country’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has already referred to the National Bureau of Investigation the 52 cases it reviewed, where administrative liability was found on the part of concerned law enforcers.

Members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and the Free Legal Assistance Group have called on the ICC to resume its probe, saying the DOJ is only looking at several cases out of tens of thousands of killings allegedly linked to the drug war.

DOH: Philippines now classified at minimal risk for COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– The whole of the Philippines is now classified at minimal risk for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said most of the regions in the country have showed decreased average daily attack rate compared with previous weeks.

“Nationally, we remain at minimal risk case classification with a negative two-week growth rate at negative 57% and a low risk average daily attack rate at point 67 cases for every 100,000 individuals,” Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“The National health systems capacity is at low risk. All regions showed decrease in average daily attack rates compared to the previous 3-4 weeks and remained at minimal to low risk case classification,” she added.

Vergeire noted that from the more than 900 average daily cases from November 22 to 29, it declined to an average of 544 per day nationwide.

She said this is lower than the figure recorded in August 2020 and April 2021 when the Philippines reached the peak of cases.

The National Capital Region also remains at low-risk classification with 112 average daily cases recorded from November 29 to December 5.

Death cases also decreased to three during the period of December 1 to 5.

Vergeire said infection rates in most of the regions have been steadily declining compared with previous weeks.

But she urged the public not to be complacent especially during this time when some people gather to celebrate the holiday season.

Vergeire said the public should continue adhering to health protocols as the threat of COVID-19 remains. (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Pangulong Duterte, wala pang pasya kung sino ang iendorsong presidential bet – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Umapela ang Malakanyang sa publiko na bigyan pa ng panahon si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte upang magpasya sa kung sino ang susuportahan nitong kandidato sa pagka-pangulo sa 2022 elections.

Kasunod na rin ito ng pag-atras sa halalan ng ini-endorso niyang si Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Si Pangulo has options, has choices that he has to make and we should give him the time to make those options; to make those choices; to make those decisions and give him the leeway to make the announcement kung kinakailangan at kung kailan niya gusto gawin. Hintayin na lang po natin si Pangulong Duterte,” ang pahayag ni acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

Una nang sinabi ni Go na umatras siya sa halalan dahil ayaw aniya ng kanyang pamilya na sumabak ito sa presidential race.

Ayaw rin umano niyang ilagay sa mahirap na sitwasyon ang pangulo dahil sa pagtakbo ng anak nitong si Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte bilang bise presidente, katambal ni presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Sinabi naman ng pangulo na iginagalang niya ang desisyon ni Go lalo’t para ito sa kapakanan ng kanyang pamilya.

Noong Martes inianunsyo ni Go ang pag-atras sa halalan ngunit hindi pa ito personal na humaharap sa Commission on Elections upang pormal na bawiin ang kandidatura.

Kasunod ng pag-atras ni Go, nanawagan naman ang mga kaalyado ng administrasyon na suportahan na lang ng pangulo ang tambalang Bongbong at Sara para sa 2022 elections.

PH gov’t tracing 253 passengers from Africa amid looming threat of Omicron

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is tracing and monitoring more than 200 travelers who arrived in the country from African nations in the last two weeks amid the threat of new COVID-19 variant called Omicron, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have traced a total of 253 passengers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines from November 15 to 29.

“BOQ has started to locate these passengers,” Vergeire said in a virtual press forum.

Of the 253 passengers, 249 were returning overseas Filipinos and four were foreigners. Authorities have traced 71 of these individuals.

The number includes three foreigners still in quarantine in Western Visayas after yielding negative test results.

Vergeire said three of these passengers initially tested positive for COVID-19. One passenger came from South Africa, another from Burkina Faso, and the other from Egypt.

She said samples of these travelers may undergo genome sequencing for variant identification.

“We are still processing the batch that we are going to subject to whole genome sequencing for this week. Results might be tonight or maybe tomorrow,” she said.

“Meron pong dumating na 253 from South Africa noong Nov. 15 to 29, may tatlo galing Burkina Faso; and mayroon 541 galing Egypt. Each of these countries nagkaroon ng isang traveler who tested positive for COVID-19,” she added.

The Philippine government banned the entry of travelers – except for Filipino repatriates – from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy until December 15 as a precautionary measure against the Omicron variant.

The DOH said the heavily mutated variant and potentially more infectious than other coronavirus variants have now been detected in 35 countries.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa.

It has been designated as a variant of concern but the World Health Organization said further studies are needed to better understand the variant’s effect on vaccines, treatment, and the virus’ transmissibility.

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