Robredo won’t resign from ICAD post despite Duterte’s lack of trust
Robie de Guzman • November 20, 2019 • 647
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday said she will not step down as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD)despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s lack of trust.
Robredo said she will continue performing her task if Duterte will not order for her dismissal from the government’s anti-drug body.
“Dapat diretsuhin na lang ako. Diretso naman akong kausap. Kung ayaw niya na, nagkamali siya sa pag-appoint sa akin at gusto na niyang bawiin, sabihin na lang. Pero habang mayroong ini-expect sa akin na trabaho, gagawin ko,” the vice president told reporters in an interview after her meeting with the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
“Hindi ko kontrolado yung iba. Pero yung experience ko kasi sa ICAD, majority naman nung agencies very cooperative,” she added.
“I cannot trust her not only because she is with the opposition. I do not trust her because I do not know her,” the President said.
He also said he is not taking back Robredo’s position, but stressed the limits of her mandate as drug czar, which include giving orders to ICAD.
The chief executive also emphasized that Robredo may only access classified information on anti-drug campaign on a “need to know” basis.
Robredo earlier requested to gain access to drug war information, arguing that it is part of her mandate as ICAD co-chair to ensure the arrest of high-value targets.
She also gave an assurance not to disclose sensitive information to foreign entities critical of the administration.
The vice president, meanwhile, revealed she has refused a briefing from her ICAD co-chair on such data.
She said she met with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino on Wednesday who offered to discuss with her classified drug information.
However, she refused pending a clear breakdown of her mandate from the president.
Robredo said she already sent a letter to the president seeking clarifications on the scope and limitations of the job he had given her. “He was offering to brief me on some classified matter pero I refused kasi sabi ko hihintayin ko muna yung sagot ni presidente dun sa aking clarification kung ano ba talaga yung limits ng aking mandato,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)
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)
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)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants to improve the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) mobile capacity to enhance their capability to fight criminality, specifically street crimes.
In his public address on Wednesday (October 14), the President expressed concern over the increasing rate of street crimes with the reopening of the country’s economy even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Chief Executive expressed the need to further train cops, procure more motorbikes and improve police visibility to deter motorcycle-riding suspects.
“We have seen an upsurge of hold ups, street crimes because of the liberality offered by the opening of the economy and of course, people are now allowed to go freely and travel,” he said.
“The only way to counter anonymity of the criminals is also to fight the criminal on the ground,” he added.
In September, the PNP reported that crime rate or incidents of eight focused crimes in the country dropped by 47 percent during the six months of community quarantine from March 16 to September 15, 2020.
However, the PNP still recognize the need to continuously maintain police visibility, beat patrol and coordination among barangay officials to back the existing peace and order measures amid the current pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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