Drilon suggests reopening drug probe vs Paolo Duterte

Robie de Guzman   •   April 4, 2019   •   6379

(L-R) Presidential son, Paolo Duterte and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believes the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should resume its investigation on illegal drugs amid fresh allegations against former Davao City vice mayor and presidential son, Paolo Duterte.

Drilon made the statement after a video linking the younger Duterte to the illegal drug trade circulated online.

“It is best that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee resume its investigation in order that those named in the video, particularly Mr. Duterte and [Agriculture] Undersecretary [Waldo] Carpio can clear their names,” Drilon told reporters at a Kapihan forum in the Senate.

On Tuesday (April 2), a video titled “Ang Totoong Narcolist-Episode 1” which supposedly details Paolo’s links to the narcotics trade made rounds on social media.

In the six-minute video, a narrator showed a “tara” or the list of principals and their monthly kickbacks that were deposited in the alleged drug lords’ bank accounts.

The list also contains their code names, including “POLODELTA-TSG01,” which the narrator claimed referred to Paolo Duterte as represented by his initials.

The video also tagged Waldo Reyes Carpio as the owner of the said bank accounts used as Duterte’s dummy in the drug transaction.

Waldo Reyes Carpio is an undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture and the brother of Atty. Manases Carpio, Paolo’s brother-in-law and husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

A certain “Bikoy” who claimed to be a member of the drug syndicate appeared in the video and made the accusations against Duterte and Carpio.

Duterte on Wednesday lashed out on a certain “J.S.” whom he alleged as the one behind the video circulating online.

“POLO DELTA – PAOLO DUTERTE? WOW ha kung makaimbento ka wagas. Galit ka kay Waldo (Carpio) kasi binabara niya lahat ng smuggling mo ng bigas at asukal diba J.S.,” Duterte wrote on his Facebook account.

He also belied the allegations, calling it baseless and the list invented. He also said the accuser was just trying to copy the claims previously made by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

READ: Paolo Duterte denies receiving kickbacks from drug syndicates

Drilon said the probe would clear up details and provide an avenue for Duterte and Carpio to disprove the allegations against them.

“Sino ba si J.S.? May ebidensya ba or dokumento ba si JS?” he asked.

“The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will provide him [Duterte] with the opportunity to disprove all of these allegations which to him are invented and unfounded,” Drilon added.

The Senate panel conducted a hearing in 2017 on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Customs Broker Mark Taguba had alleged that Paolo and his brother-in-law Lawyer Manases Carpio were behind the Davao group that facilitated smuggling in the BOC.

Duterte had denied involvement in the drug smuggling. He also refused to show the alleged tattoo on his back, which Trillanes claimed will prove his being a member of “triad” or international crime syndicate.

Duterte had filed libel cases against Trillanes for making such claims.

READ: Paolo Duterte slaps libel raps vs Trillanes

In a new statement, Duterte vowed to file more charges against the opposition Senator, whom he believes is among those behind the fresh drug claims against him.

“He may deny it, but the video supposedly showing my involvement in the illegal drug trade in the country has been clearly stamped with the indelible Trillanes signature of being a desperate mercenary, one who has done nothing good but attack the government,” he said.

“I have filed cases against Mr. Trillanes for ruining my name. I will file another string of cases for his continued attempts to destroy my reputation,” he added.

He also dared Trillanes anew to show proof of his allegations against him.

“And no, I will not show the tattoo on my back and make things easier for Mr. Trillanes. Instead, I dare him and everyone behind the stupid and empty video exposé to back their claims against me,” Duterte said.

“If there’s anything admirable about Mr. Antonio Trillanes, it is his relentlessness and talent to turn the absurd into something ridiculous, if not bizarrely entertaining,” he said. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Michael Yang ‘no-show’ in Senate probe due to high blood pressure

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang was a ‘no-show’ during the continuation of the Senate probe on ‘overpriced’ medical supplies procured by the Department of Health (DOH).

Yang’s legal counsel Raymond Fortun on Monday (September 13) said that the doctor had advised Yang to take a rest after his blood pressure went up. Fortun also said he is prepared to submit a medical certificate as proof of Yang’s condition.

“His blood pressure had suddenly shot up. And for that reason, he was advised by his doctor to just stay home. Apparently, because of the proceedings, his health has been affected,” he said.

However, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairperson Senator Richard Gordon said the Senate Committee will not give Yang a free pass.

“He can appear, he is not under pressure there, he is in Davao where he is comfortable, he can bring his doctor if he will and we want to see him. You know that always occurs when somebody’s under investigation they come in a wheelchair, show they picture that they cannot appear,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director, Lincoln Ong, is still under house arrest since he is still recovering from COVID-19.

The Senate probe was opened after the Commission on Audit (COA) reported the DOH’s transfer of P42 billion funds to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the procurement of face masks and face shields at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senators slam lack of funding for health worker benefits in 2022 national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Several senators are questioning the lack of funding for healthcare worker benefits in the 2022 national budget.

Senator Franklin Drilon, during the briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee on Thursday (September 9), urged concerned agencies to “fix budget priorities” and lamented that the budget for next year is not in line with the reality being faced by the country.

The senator questioned why there is no allotted budget for the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) and hazard pay for healthcare workers while the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has a P28 billion budget. He also questioned why the P45 billion budget for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots is placed under unprogrammed funds.

“We see that the public health is not given priority that it deserves,” he said. “Are we saying that insurgency has become a bigger, more dangerous threat than COVID-19 and its fast mutating variants?”

Marami pong pagkukunan ng budget itong kampanya laban sa insurgency. Hindi po kailangang maghiwalay pa tayo ng 28 billlion (We can get budget for the campaign against insurgency, there is no need to allot P28 billion for it) in the face of all these difficulties that we are facing, and in the face of the fact that our health personnel are not being given special risk allowance,” he added.

Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan and Senator Risa Hontiveros believe the budget should be fixed in order to address the threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Hontiveros likewise lamented that there is no allotted budget for healthcare workers.

Sa kabila ng kali-kaliwang panawagan at panaghoy ng ating healthcare workers na maibigay na ang kanilang SRA, gaano kagarapal na sa budget sa susunod na taon ay ni singkong duling, walang inilaan para sa kanilang SRA, hazard pay, allowance sa meals, accommodations at transportation? Bigyan naman natin ng dignidad ang ating medical frontliners (Amid the calls and cries our healthcare workers for their SRA, its shameless how next year’s budget has no allotment for their SRA, hazard pay, meal allowance, accommodation, and transportation. Let us at least give our medical frontliners some dignity),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

Senator Joel Villanueva said that the Executive branch should submit an errata to provide benefits for healthcare workers.

He added that a P23 billion budget is needed to double the SRA and active hazard duty pay of around 120,000 healthcare workers in private and public hospitals.

Kung seryoso po ang ating gobyerno sa pagbibigay ng SRA at AHDP para sa ating mga healthcare workers, ang gagawin lang naman ng DBM at DOH ay magpadala ng budget errata sa Senado at sa House of Representatives, (If our government is serious in providing SRA and AHDP to our healthcare workers, the Department of Budget and Management and Department of Health can simply send a budget errata to the Senate and House of Representatives),” he said.

Meanwhile, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez said it was him who proposed to include COVID-19 booster shots in the budget, however, experts panels and health authorities said the country still does not need booster shots for COVID-19.

“I had a big argument with them and in fact the result is that it is actually the budget. Had we not argued with that, it would not even be in the budget because they said it’s not yet proven, it’s not yet approved, etc. I said I don’t care I said I just want to make sure that we have an item in the budget that we can activate if and when the health authorities decide that it is required,” he said.

The DBM reiterated that there is a need to allot budget for NTF-ELCAC.

“It will actually provide development funds for barangays which have been recently freed of insurgency or leftist elements. If government will not intervene, then who will? That’s the reason why we also assert that the NTF-ELCAC is important. However we defer to the wisdom of Senate, House if they find that these reasons are not sufficient,” according to DBM Officer-in-Charge Usec. Tina Marie Rose Canda.

The Malacañang has yet to provide a response to the senators’ concerns. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senate seeks probe on alleged DOH mismanagement of P67-B COVID-19 fund

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate wants to look into the alleged mismanagement of funds of the Department of Health (DOH) allotted for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

After the recent assessment of the Commission on Audit (COA), senators are seeking to investigate the deficiencies on the DOH’s P67.32 billion COVID-19 budget.

COA attributed the said deficiencies to the health department’s non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations, including the use of funds not for the intended purpose.

Senator Grace Poe said this proves to be counter-beneficial to the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the disease at a crucial time.

“These funds were provided to strengthen the agency’s health resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the implementation deficiencies denied our countrymen their right to health at a time when it is most needed,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate should “particularly look into the P3.97 billion worth of contracts and projects with procedural deficiencies in the procurement process and lacking documentation.”

“It is imperative that we examine closely the DOH’s use of billions of pesos in COVID-19 response funds given the findings of the COA and the corruption allegations that hounded the agency’s procurement of various COVID-19 equipment and supplies,” Drilon said.

Drilon said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III’s ineptitude is sabotaging the government’s response to the pandemic.

“While we see a shortage of beds, PPEs, ventilators, oxygen tanks, the DOH incurred P24.64 billion in unobligated funds that could have augmented our medical resources and paid on time the risk allowance of our medical frontliners,” Drilon said.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the country needs commitment and competence from the DOH leadership to ensure every peso budgeted and allocated would save lives.

“Given the COA findings, the DOH seems to be depriving thousands of Filipinos of healthcare services in the face of national emergency and it is nothing short of criminal,” she said. AAC

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