Lacson, Angara: SEAG hosting issues should be discussed after the event

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019   •   534

MANILA, Philippines – Two senators on Friday called for a break on discussions of issues surrounding the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Senator Sonny Angara said questions on funding being raised as well as other negative news on the hosting of the games might distract the athletes from focusing on their competitions.

“Hosting ng Games ‘yan. Dapat naka-concentrate tayo dito. Kasi ‘yung mga atleta natin, kapag maraming issue, baka ma-distract eh. Dapat naka-focus lang sa mga competition nila,” Angara said in a statement.

The lawmaker made the call amid questions on the funds spent for the Games, including the construction of the P50-million worth stadium cauldron.

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier criticized the alleged excessive amount of the cauldron to be used for the opening of the games on Nov. 30, as well as the alleged lack of concrete plan to maintain the facilities built for the event.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) has defended its cost, saying the cauldron was designed by a national artist and was even cheaper than the one built by Singapore.

Angara assured that any money spent on the Games will eventually be audited as part of the regular processes of the government.

“Dadaan naman talaga sa auditing ang lahat ng ‘yan. Lahat ng gastusin ng gobyerno ay dadaan talaga sa cost audit. Titingnan ito ng Commission on Audit. ‘Yun talaga ang trabaho ng ahensya – kung nagastos ba ng tama ng ahensya ‘yung pera dyan,” he said.

Angara also said that as the host country for the 30th SEA Games, the entire country must be united and show its ASEAN neighbors what the world-renowned Filipino hospitality is all about.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said that he also wanted the discussion on the hosting of the SEA Games be conducted after the event.

“Baka sa halip na ma-focus tayo sa international event na iho-host natin, baka ang focus mapunta sa sinasabing excessive, questionable or masyadong extravagant na paggastos. There’s a time for that,” he said in a media interview.

“I’d rather that we discuss that or even investigate after the games. Kasi baka pati ang mga athletes natin, di maka-focus, kasi baka magkaroon ng perception mali o tama pero nasa isip nila hindi sila maka-focus sa games. Pati organizers baka madiskaril ang focus nila para maging maayos ang pagdadaos ng games sa atin,” he added.

The country will host the 30th SEA Games from November 30 to December 11 and will be held in several venues including the newly built New Clark City in Pampanga, Subic Bay Freeport and Metro Manila.

The SEA Games will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in various areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila, Pampanga, Zambales and the New Clark City in Tarlac.

Lacson backs appointment of Villanueva as PDEA chief

Robie de Guzman   •   May 27, 2020

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday lauded the appointment of Wilkins Villanueva as the new director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

In a statement, Lacson described Villanueva as a “good and professional officer who is fit for the job,” and noted his “long career in drug enforcement.”

“The President couldn’t have appointed a more qualified head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, having served our country for nearly 20 years with the Philippine National Police Narcotics Group and with the PDEA,” he said.

Lacson, a former national police chief, expressed confidence that Villanueva can handle his task of going after drug suspects amid challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

“With the challenge of going after drug personalities amid the new normal posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, he indeed has his work cut out for him,” he said.

“I look forward to working with him, being the Senate Finance Subcommittee Chair and Sponsor of the PDEA and Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) budgets, among others,” he added.

Villanueva will take over the post previously held by Aaron Aquino, who was assigned by President Rodrigo Duterte to lead the Clark International Airport.

Prior to his designation to PDEA’s top post, Villanueva led the PDEA Northern Mindanao.

Lacson urges netizens: Stop sowing hatred against NCRPO chief over ECQ birthday get-together

Robie de Guzman   •   May 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday appealed to some social media users to stop sowing hatred towards Metro Manila’s police chief who was embroiled in controversy after allegedly violating quarantine protocols during a “mañanita” held for his birthday last week.

Lacson said National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Major General Debold Sinas has already “apologized and regretted his indiscretion,” and that he has been “bashed, criticized and pilloried both on social media and mainstream media” for the incident.

“Whichever way one looks at it, NCRPO chief Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas set a bad example in committing what he did during his birthday ‘mañanita’ or whatever he wants to call it,” he said in a statement.

“Certainly, he should get the punishment he deserves even as the appropriate authorities are already investigating him,” he added.

“However, we may also want to take into consideration his long law-enforcement service to the country and the Filipino people, and his present efforts in supervising the checkpoints all over Metro Manila to make us safe from the coronavirus threat,” he further stated.

But Lacson clarified that his statement is “not to suggest forgiveness or absolution” for Sinas.

“Rather, it is an appeal to concerned netizens not to rub salt to injury by going to the extent of posting out-of-date photos to sow more hatred towards Sinas by exploiting the naïveté of certain individuals to join the bandwagon of hate towards the police officer,” he said.

Sinas earlier apologized for what transpired during his birthday, saying he did not intend to disobey protocols related to the implementation of the ECQ to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He also said that some of the photos circulating online were “edited and grabbed from old posts” and do not define the totality of what really happened.

The photos, earlier posted on the NCRPO Facebook page, showed Sinas handing cakes and roses during the event. A photo also showed Sinas sitting at a table with guests.

The photos were said to be taken during a party held for Sinas to celebrate his birthday. Police officers gave him a mañanita, a traditional early morning serenade, where they dine together.

The said event was met with criticism for allegedly breaking quarantine rules.

Philippine National Police chief General Archie Gamboa said he already ordered a probe into the incident.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said that Sinas, as a police official, should serve as an example in following protocols especially those related to the containment of COVID-19.

Lacson supports DOF bid to hire more contact tracers amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday expressed support for the proposal of the Department of Finance (DOF) to prioritize the hiring of contact tracers to boost the country’s efforts to curb the transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Contact tracing is a key first step in addressing the COVID-19 threat. It should provide the baseline data or reference on who to test. Without it, our mass testing will be like shooting at the moon or running around like headless chickens,” Lacson said in a statement.

In a briefing aired earlier in the day, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III proposed to ramp up the government’s contact tracing efforts to boost efforts to stop the COVID-19 transmission and provide jobs to stimulate the economy through spending.

“Kung maipapatupad ang mungkahing ito nang maayos, maaari nating lutasin agad ang dalawang problema,” Lacson said.

The senator added that the proposal’s materialization will depend on the Department of Health.

“Ang bagay na ito ay nasa kamay na ng liderato ng Department of Health: Maiimplementa kaya nila ang mungkahi ni Secretary Dominguez?” he asked.

As of May 12, the Philippines has recorded 11,350 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,106 recovered patients and 751 fatalities.

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