Roque clarifies remark on price of PPEs bought by PNoy admin

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2021   •   493

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday clarified his earlier remarks about the personal protective equipment (PPE) procured by the Aquino administration for health care workers.

Roque said he did not accuse the previous administration of purchasing overpriced PPEs as he only revealed its P3,500 price per piece to put in perspective the overpricing allegation being hurled against the Duterte administration.

“Mga kababayan, bago natin i-conclude na nagkaroon ng pandarambong at nagkaroon ng overpriced, tanungin natin, overpriced ba ang P1,950 gayong nabili ang exact same na PPE na level 4 sa halagang P3,500? Di ko naman po sinasabi na overpriced ang P3,500,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

Roque brought up the amount of PPEs procured by the previous administration to support his earlier stance that the batch purchased by the Department of Budget and Management during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was not overpriced.

He also maintained that he was not trying to divert the issue as alleged by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a member of the Liberal Party.

“Ang isyu overpricing, natural titingnan natin kung magkano ang exact, same PPE ng nakalipas na administrasyon. Lumalabas, wala naman overpricing: P1,900 ang binili ng pamahalaan ni President Duterte, P3,500 at P3,800 ang binili ng inyong sinuportahan,” he said.

“So focus na lang tayo sa tunay na issue,” he added.

The Senate is currently investigating the contracts entered into by the Duterte administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the P8.68 billion awarded to Pharmally.

As to allegations that some of Pharmally’s personnel are fugitives and have questionable background, Roque said the government does not look into the personal lives of the stockholders when buying pandemic supplies.

“Sa batas po, we have a principle. Corporation has separate and distinct personality from the stockholders. Ang nag-bid po yung korporasyon, so hindi naman po kinakailangang busisiin talaga ang personalidad nasa nasa likod korporasyon kasi nga po separate personality yun,” he said.


Duterte warns profiteers in typhoon-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   December 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a stern warning against traders and businesses unreasonably jacking up prices of basic goods and construction materials in areas devastated by Typhoon Odette.

Duterte issued the warning after Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez reported on complaints about price increases in areas badly hit by the typhoon.

“I am just giving you the warning na ‘pag nahuli kayo ng DTI or nahuli kayo ng pulis — ang pulis because the jurisdiction dito sa putting a cap on the prices of goods belongs to — and even building materials, nasa sa iyo,” the president said in his pre-taped weekly Talk to the People aired on Monday night.

“So nandito ka man, tell us if there has been a violation or violations during this time because we can identify them and the Philippine National Police, we will ask them to arrest the hoarders and people who are taking advantage of the situation,” Duterte told Lopez.

In his report to the president, Lopez said many profiteers were apprehended in Bohol and Cebu, and they also received complaints against some traders that raised the price of power generator sets.

Consequently, all the reported profiteers were immediately referred to the authorities, he added.

“Base sa mga ni-report sa atin, mga 50 na explanation letters, 50 na inquiry letters, at iyong kasunod noon ay kaso pagka ito po ay hindi talaga sa atin in-explain ‘yung pagtaas nung presyo na ‘yun,” he said.

“But after po na-apprehend sila, actually ho, Mr. President, kino-correct ho nila ‘no. So tayo ho talaga nakatutok doon sa mga nabalitaan natin na mayroong mga pag-increase ng presyo,” he added.

There were also reported increases in fuel prices in several areas, with some doubling or tripling the price to between P120 to P180 per liter.

But after the traders were reprimanded, Lopez said the fuel price in Maasin City; Macrohon, Southern Leyte; and even in the Caraga region now ranges below P50 to P56 per liter.

“Ibig sabihin, ito ho ay after nagkaroon tayo nang pagsupil doon sa mga nag-violate ng mga presyo,” he said.

Lopez said the prices of commodities should remain the same as there is an existing price freeze in areas hit by the typhoon.

Duterte declared on December 21 a state of calamity in six areas hit by Odette; namely, Regions 4B (Mimaropa–Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 13 (Caraga).

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

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

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.

Malacañang leaves naming of cocaine-using candidate to President Duterte

Maris Federez   •   November 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang will leave it to President Rodrigo Duterte to name the presidential candidate in the 2022 national and local elections whom he disclosed is into cocaine.

Duterte made the disclosure during his speech on Thursday in the province of Oriental Mindoro.

“May kandidato tayo na nagko-cocaine ‘yan. ‘Yung anak ng mayaman. Kaya nga nagtaka ako. Anong nagawa ng tao na yan? I am just asking what contribution has he made para sa Pilipinas? ‘Yan lang ang gusto kong tanungin,” Duterte said.

Acting Presidential spokesperson Secretary Karlo Nograles believes that Duterte has a strong basis for his revelation, pointing out that the President has access to varied sources of information to back his claims.

Nograles said it is up to the president to name the said presidential aspirant at a proper time.

“Si Pangulo siyempre has access to many resources including intel reports on naming the said individual,” Nograles said,

“We will leave it to the sound judgement of the president. So nasa discretion na po ng pangulo kung papangalanan ba niya at kung kailan at kung magdesisyon ba siya na pangalanan ang indibidual na yan,” he added.

Nograles stressed that as the war on drugs is the foremost campaign of the Duterte administration, it doesn’t discriminate against whoever is involved in illegal drugs.

He said there are proper agencies that will investigate and file cases on the said individual.

“Ang ating mga law enforcement agencies especially drug enforcement agencies siyempre alam naman po nila ang kanilang mandato. So, whatever social status at kung sinoman may nakuhang mga intel reports alam na po ng ating mga law enforcement agencies kung ano ang dapat gawin,” Nograles said.

He added that it is up to the presidential candidates to clear their names and prove that they do not use illegal drugs.

“There’s always been the clamor and it’s really up to the candidates to show that they take the test and that they clear the drug test. So ang nangyayari every election voluntary na lamang yan,” Nograles said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)


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