VP Robredo keeps mum on Duterte’s offer to be drug czar

Marje Pelayo   •   October 29, 2019   •   493

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo chose not to react on the recent challenge set by President Rodrigo Duterte offering her the position of a drug czar and lead the government’s anti-drug campaign.

READ: Duterte wants to commission Robredo as drug czar for 6 months

Duterte on Monday (October 28) publicly announced that he would surrender his law enforcement power to Robredo so she could prove herself by solving the country’s problems on illegal drugs in a span of six months.

Robredo said Duterte’s remarks could have been an outburst of emotions just like many times in the past.

“Ayokong mag-comment hanggat wala pa (I don’t want to comment while [the letter] isn’t here yet),” Robredo said.

Natuto na ako. Marami ng beses in the past (na) mayroong sinasabi na hindi naman mini-mean. May imbitasyon na babawiin. So, hintayin muna natin,” she added.

(I have learned my lesson. There were many times in the past wherein he would say something but didn’t really mean it. He would send invitations which he would later take back. So, let’s wait for now.)

With these developments, opposition lawmaker Albay 1st Rep. Edcel Lagman alleged that the President is “washing his hands of his failed brutal war on drugs, and is tossing the narcotics problem for Vice President Leni Robredo to solve.”

Liberal Party senator Kiko Pangilinan, meanwhile, teased the President for giving Robredo only six months when he himself couldn’t arrest ‘big fishes’ in illegal drugs operation in the country.

“Six months? Sila nga tatlong taon nang nakaupo, wala pa ring nahuhuling drug lord or ikinukulong na opisyal ng BoC sa tone-toneladang pinalusot na shabu sa Customs,” Pangilinan argued.

(Six months? They themselves have been in power for three years and they have yet to arrest a drug lord or put in jail a Bureau of Customs official for the tons of shabu that slipped past customs.)

“Iyong mga ninja cops na sangkot sa iligal na droga binigyan pa ng pinakamataas na pwesto sa PNP. Hindi naman patas ang usapan kapag 6 months lang. Dapat maging patas. Gawing 3 years para fair,” he added.

(Those ninja cops implicated in illegal drugs trade were even promoted to higher positions in the PNP. The deal wouldn’t be fair with only six months. They should be fair. Give [Robredo] three years to be fair.)

Duterte ally House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, said if Robredo would accept the President’s challenge, she should present a concrete plan of action to do it.

“(What’s that) health-based approach (that they say) when it comes to enforcement and when it comes to methamphetamine?” Cayetano said of Robredo’s proposed strategy.

Kung may baril ang kaharap mo na nagbebenta ng droga at nandoon sa school at hinuli ng pulis, anong gagawin ng pulis, sabihin, ‘Pare, mag vitamins ka muna? (If the person you are apprehending for selling drugs in school has a gun, what do you think the police should do? Should they tell him: Take some vitamins first?),” he added.

But for former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, it would be better for President Duterte to fully relinquish his presidency instead of just challenging Robredo.

“Why not just surrender the presidency by resigning,” the opposition lawyer said.

But despite the headlines, former chief of police now Senator Panfilo Lacson stressed that the President, being the top authority in the land, holds the highest power over the country’s law enforcement officials.

When asked if he believes the President’s intention was to annoy Robredo, Lacson said it wasn’t sarcasm “but more of an expression of irritation and disgust.”

He added that: “Unless he delegates a blanket authority, including the power to hire and fire, no one else in the government bureaucracy can do it better than the chief executive under any given circumstances.”

“At best, it’s half meant,” the senator concluded. – MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Duterte vows to help Cebu build new infrastructures amid traffic woes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to help Cebu City build new infrastructures amid the severe traffic problem experienced in the city.

During his speech on Sunday (January 19), Duterte said that Cebu should focus on building a mass transportation system such as railway system.

“If you could make it a mass transportation, that would be better. Only few will be able to do that. But it’s either train or skyways. Let’s opt for elevated highways,” he said.

“The only way to do it is by utilizing a small commuter train and more highways. I will help you secure a loan for that,” he added.

The chief executive also said said he wants similar projects be constructed in Cebu. He reiterated that he does not want any project left unfinished —AAC

Trump invites Duterte, other ASEAN leaders for March Summit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2020

ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Manila epa06325844 US President Donald J. Trump (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017. The Philippines is hosting the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings from 10 to 14 November. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO / POOL

United States (US) President Donald Trump has invited President Rodrigo Duterte and nine other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) for the US-ASEAN Summit in March.

Trump previously invited the ASEAN leaders on November 1, 2019 and reiterated his invitation on January 9, 2020.

“This will provide an excellent opportunity for us to broaden and deepen our cooperation on matters of great importance to the nearly one billion people in the United States and ASEAN nations that we have the privilege to represent,” Trump said in his invitation.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is still no official response on whether President Duterte will accept the invitation of the US president.—AAC

Duterte orders LGUs to provide aid to repatriated Filipinos amid US-Iran tension

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to provide aid to repatriated Filipinos amid the tension between the United States and Iran.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he already directed the local government units to assist returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

“I am directing all the local government units the local chief executives to provide assistance and accommodate our returning OFWs. They are displaced, untimely ang pag-uwi nila, so dapat, tulungan natin sila (their return is untimely so they should be assisted),” he said.

Año assured that they will provide all kinds of assistance to repatriated Filipinos.

“Of course, the President gave a word na even if financial ay magbibigay siya, (that he will also provide financial assistance)” he added.

The DILG official also assured that they will respect the decision of Filipinos who would choose to stay in the Middle East.

“Especially kung Iranian or Iraqi citizens iyong kanilang mga spouses, so we have to respect kung anong gusto nila (Especially if their spouses are Iranian or Iraqi citizens so we have to respect their decisions) But, we have to make sure they are also safe,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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