Roque denies hand in Leachon ‘removal’ as Nat’l Task Force adviser
Robie de Guzman • June 18, 2020 • 431
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday denied that he had a hand in the ‘removal’ of Dr. Tony Leachon as special adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19.
Roque issued the statement after Leachon claimed that he and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III were behind his leaving following his recent tweets criticizing the Department of Health’s (DOH) response to the crisis and its reporting of COVID-19 cases.
Leachon also earlier said that the DOH has lost its focus, and criticized its lack of sense of urgency and transparency in the communication process.
During a televised briefing, Roque said he has no authority to compel anyone to resign and that it was no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself had noticed Leachon’s criticism against the DOH which is the lead agency in the government’s response on the COVID-19 situation.
“Let me correct you Dr. Leachon. Hindi po ako, hindi po Secretary Duque. Mismong si President Duterte po noted that you should not be doing what you were doing kasi alam ninyo po pagdating sa datos ng department of health, wala pong tinatago,” he said.
Roque also did not deny the Palace’s negative reaction to Leachon’s criticisms but maintained that the government has been transparent on issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You do not have the monopoly of the truth and we have never lied, saan po kami nagsinungaling? Dapat ilathala niya yan. We are perfecting the recording of cases, we have not perfected it yet but we are striving po to improve,” he said.
In a statement, Leachon said he still respects the president but it would be a disservice to him if he is not alerted to the current state of the country amid the public health crisis.
“It’s my moral responsibility to inform the public and great disservice to the president if we will not alert him the current state of health of the country on covid pandemic. I respect PRRD It’s all up to him. I’ll remain loyal to the flag,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has allayed public fear of a possible ban on social media giant Facebook following President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks on Tuesday night (September 29) expressing his disappointment over the platform’s policy.
“You cannot lay down a policy for my government. I allow you to operate here. You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of the government,” Duterte said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President wants to have a talk with Facebook to clarify issues regarding its censorship policy against pages that support the government.
“Number 1 po kasi tayo sa buong mundo sa Pilipinas so kung wala tayo, malaking kawalan yan sa Facebook [The Philippines is the number 1 user in the world. It’s a big loss to Facebook],” Roque said.
“Pero at the same time, dahil nga number 1 tayo, marami ring Pilipino ang gumagamit ng Facebook. Maapektuhan din. So sinabi naman ng president, pag-usapan iyan [But at the same time since we are number 1, many Filipinos are using Facebook. It will affect us. So the President wants a discussion about it],” he added.
Among the accounts that have been taken down is the advocacy group Hands Off Our Children, a page which aims to protect minors from recruitment by extremists who entice youths to become combatants and fight the government.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has again questioned Facebook’s choice of fact-checkers— online news platforms Rappler and Vera Files— who are critical of the present administration.
Roque said the government is now contemplating on commissioning fact-checkers of social media platforms in the country similar to what other countries are doing.
“Pag-aaralan po natin kung dapat gawin natin iyan dahil di po tayo makakapayag na ang fact-checkers ay tanging mga laban lamang sa gobyerno [We will take that into consideration because that has to be done. We cannot allow that fact-checkers are only those who are all against the government],” Roque concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.
“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.
Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.
“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.
The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.
“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.
“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.
“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.
Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has mentioned more than once in the past, wanting to step down from his post due to massive corruption in government.
He repeated himself on Monday evening (September 28) during his late night public address.
“I offered to resign as president. Ipinatawag ko ang lahat. Sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government, talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin (I called everyone and said, “I am getting tired of it. In my years of government service, corruption is endless. It’s very difficult to eradicate),” the President said.
Specifically, the President expressed deep dismay over corruption and irregularities in the management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
He said he is keen on proposing to Congress to dissolve the state insurance agency as he admits privatizing it cannot be an option.
“PhilHealth, I am going to propose to Congress to abolish [it]. Kung i-privatize mo naman, walang pera (If it will be privatized, there is no money), he said.
PhilHealth is facing a big revamp or reorganization among its officials and employees following a series of hearings and investigations on the anomalies within the agency.
Meanwhile, the President defended the government’s move to sell several state properties. He cited the need to raise funds to support the health sector’s COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response plan.
“That is why we are selling properties. That’s the reason why we are selling real estate properties in Japan — because we have to raise money,” he said.
“Wala nang pambayad diyan sa PhilHealth na iyan. Kaya walang ibang remedy diyan (There is no more money to pay for PhilHealth. There are no other remedies). It must be a surgical move,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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