DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2021   •   165

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s memorandum prohibiting officials and employees from the Executive Department from attending hearings conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on contracts between the government and the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

During a hearing by the Senate finance committee on the DOJ’s 2022 proposed budget, Guevarra said the memo does not seek to defy the congressional authority to hold legislative inquiries.

“To me, the objective or the essence of this memo is not to defy your authority or prerogative but to protest the manner the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings has been conducted during the past few weeks,” he said.

He also pointed out that the memo was only confined to a particular probe.

The memorandum order signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea covers specifically the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s legislative inquiries into the Commission on Audit report flagging the alleged deficiencies in COVID-19 pandemic spending.

Guevarra clarified that he was not involved in the drafting of the memo but he believes that the main concern may be the amount of time that Cabinet officials spend in the hearing.

The hearings that have since spanned to Duterte’s appointees and other individuals, have been going on for two months.

Guevarra said that this period should have been enough for lawmakers to see if there is any law that needs to be amended or enacted, or some legal provisions that need to be repealed.

He also said he is willing to speak to Medialdea to discuss the memo but stressed that the Senate panel should also make some adjustments as to the manner and timing of the attendance of officials from the Executive branch..

Some groups, including the Philippine Bar Association, have called on Duterte to reconsider his memo as it upsets the system of checks and balances in the government.

Duterte: 10.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in 5-day vax drive

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 10 million COVID-19 vaccines were administered during the five-day nationwide immunization drive, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

“Iyong bakuna nakita naman ninyo, we were able to administer 10.2 million doses throughout the country from November 29 to December 3, which is a huge achievement in our fight against COVID-19,” Duterte said during his pre-taped public address that aired late Monday.

The government had hoped to inoculate 9 million people during the three-day “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” initiative initially set from November 29 to December 1 but was later extended until December 3 to accommodate more people.

The vaccination drive was launched in a bid to scale up the country’s vaccination rate to achieve population protection against COVID-19.

So far, more than 38 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated since the immunization was rolled out in March.

The number of individuals who have received their first dose rose to 56.7 million.

The government is aiming to fully vaccinate at least 54 million by the end of the year.

With the increasing vaccination rate, Duterte expressed optimism that the country will be able to overcome the pandemic.

“Better days ahead because since December 1, we have been on average of 500 to 600 and the number of active cases continues to go down. I’m talking about the COVID,” he said.

Duterte thanked concerned government agencies, doctors and volunteers for the successful conduct of the Bayanihan Bakunahan.

“We will have a second round of Bayanihan Bakunahan from December 15 to 17,” he said in announcing the new round of vaccination campaign.

“I hope that we would have the same success. But this time lesser because parang naubos na natin ang Pilipino sa ‘yung what counts sa bakuna kaya medyo there’s a slowdown of the COVID-19,” he said.

 

Duterte offers DOH Secy post to OCTA fellow

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has offered OCTA Research fellow Nicanor Austriaco the top post in the Department of Health (DOH) to replace Secretary Francisco Duque III.

During his weekly Talk to the People that aired late Monday, Duterte asked Austriaco if he is open to being designated as the new health chief.

“I would be happy to appoint you as the Secretary of Health. If that is okay with you,” he said after Austriaco finished his presentation on the Omicron COVID-19 variant during the public briefing.

Austriaco declined the offer.

“No po. Secretary Duque is doing a fine job po and he’s a Thomasian po,” he said.

Duterte pressed on with his offer, saying Duque has been asking to be replaced.

“He has shown — he vents a desire really to rest, you know, after all this ruckus against him,” the president said. “Sabi ko I’ve been forcing him to stay but he would be happy to give way to you, I’m sure.”

“Yes, Mr. President, to another Thomasian,” Duque chimed in.

Austriaco, a priest and a molecular biologist, is also part of the team developing the Philippines’ first vaccine against COVID-19.

 

Pangulong Duterte, wala pang pasya kung sino ang iendorsong presidential bet – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Umapela ang Malakanyang sa publiko na bigyan pa ng panahon si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte upang magpasya sa kung sino ang susuportahan nitong kandidato sa pagka-pangulo sa 2022 elections.

Kasunod na rin ito ng pag-atras sa halalan ng ini-endorso niyang si Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Si Pangulo has options, has choices that he has to make and we should give him the time to make those options; to make those choices; to make those decisions and give him the leeway to make the announcement kung kinakailangan at kung kailan niya gusto gawin. Hintayin na lang po natin si Pangulong Duterte,” ang pahayag ni acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

Una nang sinabi ni Go na umatras siya sa halalan dahil ayaw aniya ng kanyang pamilya na sumabak ito sa presidential race.

Ayaw rin umano niyang ilagay sa mahirap na sitwasyon ang pangulo dahil sa pagtakbo ng anak nitong si Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte bilang bise presidente, katambal ni presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Sinabi naman ng pangulo na iginagalang niya ang desisyon ni Go lalo’t para ito sa kapakanan ng kanyang pamilya.

Noong Martes inianunsyo ni Go ang pag-atras sa halalan ngunit hindi pa ito personal na humaharap sa Commission on Elections upang pormal na bawiin ang kandidatura.

Kasunod ng pag-atras ni Go, nanawagan naman ang mga kaalyado ng administrasyon na suportahan na lang ng pangulo ang tambalang Bongbong at Sara para sa 2022 elections.

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