PSG assures Duterte safety following inclusion in alleged NPA hit list

Robie de Guzman   •   December 18, 2019   •   563

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Wednesday assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is safe and secure from any threat from the communist rebels.

The PSG issued the statement following reports that Duterte was allegedly included in the hit list of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“We expect that the President is number one on their list. So as to the preparations and heightening of our security procedures, amin na lang yun. But rest assured, we are doing something to protect the president,” PSG commander Brigadier General Jose Niembra told reporters.

On Tuesday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon revealed they have received reports on the alleged assassination plans of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA against Duterte and other government officials ahead of the group’s founding anniversary on December 26.  

He advised law enforcement and security forces in the country to take countermeasures against the possible threat.

Niembra said the PSG is taking seriously any matter related to the chief executive’s security.

“It’s not a joking matter because it’s the survival of the president and the country as well,” he said.

Duterte earlier ordered the military to crush the criminals and terrorists, including the NPA, following the reported assassination plot against him. – RRD (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Guevarra on order to probe corruption in entire gov’t: ‘Toughest task from Duterte’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that the order for him to conduct a government-wide probe of corruption is his “toughest” assignment ever received from President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte directed the DOJ to expand the role of its task force, which probed the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to cover the entire government.

He also authorized the DOJ to decide on which allegation to investigate taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.

The chief executive also granted DOJ the power to create as many panels as necessary and direct other government agencies to be part of such committees.

Duterte said his directive will remain in effect until the end of his term on June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.

“Apart from my usual responsibilities as SOJ, this new assignment is the toughest I have ever received from the President,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“I will need all the support and cooperation of the entire government machinery to achieve this singular objective of substantially reducing corruption in government,” he added.

Considering the scope of the task, Guevarra said he will first determine the overall strategy and the order of priorities as well as the setting up of the expanded anti-corruption task force.

“Tentatively, I am thinking of creating several strike forces that will simultaneously attack various corruption-prone agencies,” he said.

Guevarra also said that he intends to immediately focus on the organizational set-up and mechanism that will carry out the president’s directive.

The Justice Secretary added that it would also help if government workers and other people would come forward to provide the task force with the necessary information to uncover corrupt activities and identify perpetrators.

“The new and expanded anti-corruption task force will take it from there,” he said.

The DOJ already leads an inter-agency task force, formed in August, that probed alleged corruption in the PhilHealth which resulted in the filing of complaints against several officials, including former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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AFP official says not fair to red tag Liza Soberano but warns vs. ties with Gabriela

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A military official has warned actress Liza Soberano against associating with Gabriela Women’s Party for its alleged links to the New People’s Army (NPA).

In a statement Wednesday night, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. said it is not fair to red-tag Soberano as “she is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights.”

Parlade said Soberano should be protected in the exercise of her rights and that she is “not yet” a member of the NPA.

However, Parlade pointed out that she and other celebrities should be educated on the “hidden violent agenda” of the Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA).

MAKIBAKA is an underground mass organization hiding under Gabriela Women’s Party, according to the military official.

“Let us not red-tag Liza Soberano. It’s not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights. She has to be protected in the exercise of her rights,” he said in a statement posted on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) Facebook account.

“Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet. So let’s help educate her and the other celebrity targets of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), the Underground Mass Organization hiding under Gabriela Women’s Party,” he added.

Parlade also advised the actress to stop supporting Gabriela.

“Liza Soberano, there’ s still a chance to abdicate that group. If you don’t, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira @ELLA, former Deputy Secretary General of Gabriela Youth of UP, Manila and defender of women’s rights, even against sexual predators amongst her comrades in the NPA unit she joined which is clearly stated in her handwritten letter addressed to a certain @EMIL,” he said.

The AFP official also issued the same warning to Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and told them not the follow the path of a certain Ka Ella Colmenares.

“The choice is yours Liza. And so with you Catriona,” he said.

“I am sure Angel Locsin and Neri Colmenares will not tell you this,” he added.

In the same statement, Parlade also slammed the Gabriella party for not informing their recruits about their group’s agenda.

“So, Rep. Arlene Brosas and Gabriela, shame on you if you haven’t informed your recruits about your hidden violent agenda,” he said.

In response to the statement, Gabriela party-list Rep. Brosas criticized Parlade for red tagging and “mansplaining” Soberana.

“Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade’s appeal to stop red-tagging Liza Soberano is starkly ironic because he actually red tagged Soberano in his statement. By saying that Soberano is ‘not yet an NPA,’ he is maliciously associating the actress with the armed movement when what she did in the youth forum was to only speak up for all the victims of gender-based violence and abused,” she said in a statement.

“It is clear that Parlade, the NTF-ELCAC and the paid trolls are the ones who are rabidly red-tagging Liza Soberano and other female celebrities and influencers who are taking a stand and speaking out against the macho-facism under the Duterte regime. How come these macho-fascists have the audacity to mansplain strong women and lecture them on what to do? And why do they seem so afraid of women using their platform to defend other women?” she added.

The issue came after Soberano joined a Gabriela Youth online forum to discuss issues being faced by girls and women amid the pandemic.

“These rabid NTF-ELCAC executives are using their rehashed script to discredit Gabriela Women’s Party despite our long track record of advocating women’s rights. Our 20 years of advancing women and children’s rights inside and outside of Congress cannot be smeared by their repeated lies,” Brosas said.

Duterte promises to settle PhilHealth’s multi-million debt to Philippine Red Cross

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte assures the public that the government will settle what it owes to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing. 

The President said the government will present its plan to the Commission on Audit (COA) and will look for funds through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Itong Red Cross, wag ka mag-aalala, babayaran ito (To the Red Cross, don’t you worry. You will get paid). We’re just looking for a way to present the solution to COA pati sa Budget. Do not worry we will pay. It will take time but we will pay, we will look for the money,” he said during his public address, Monday evening (October 19).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government hopes to settle at least 50 percent of more than P930 million owed to PRC as soon as possible.

“We hope to settle at least 50% of that amount as soon as possible. And the rest also within reasonable time,” he said.

The arrears came from expenses incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the PRC in relation to the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR testing for coronavirus infection.

The President reiterated that the government’s priorities amid the pandemic are providing medical attention to the Filipinos and procuring medical equipment.

He also believes that the PRC through its chairman Senator Richard Gordon will understand the government’s position on the matter.

“What I’m really trying to say is we will pay. Sabi ko kay Senator Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ito,” the President said. 

Nonetheless, the government has assured the public that the COVID-19 testing in the country will not be affected by the debts owed to the PRC.

Specimens from returning overseas Filipino workers as well as from frontliners which used to be accommodated by the PRC will now be sent to more than 100 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country for processing. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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