Lacson says Duterte ‘out of line’ in publicly castigating COA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 17, 2021   •   561

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Panfilo Lacson reiterated on Tuesday that the Commission on Audit (COA) is independent of the executive or legislative branches of government.

In a statement, Lacson said President Rodrigo Duterte was “out of line in publicly castigating the COA, which is just performing its mandate and responsibility to the people and the Constitution.”

“For its part, the COA should not be cowed by intimidating statements, even those coming from the Chief Executive. In fact, those in the COA should proceed with more vigor, courage and independence,” he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Monday (August 16), slammed COA and told the agency to stop “flagging” government agencies.

“You make a report, do not flag. Do not publish it because it would condemn the agency or person that you are flagging,” Duterte said.

“What you are doing is flogging. Striking. Please don’t. You keep on flagging but then nobody gets jailed, nobody at all. When you flag, there is already a taint of corruption by perception,” he added.

The senator said COA has a mandate to perform, and its findings and recommendations are public documents. The public, according to Lacson, must be informed of how public monies are spent. AAC

 

Duterte names new chiefs for AFP Western, Northern Luzon commands

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated new chiefs for the Northern Luzon and Western Commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Palace said Duterte has approved the appointment of Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos, the current commander of the Philippine Navy, as the new chief of the AFP Western Command.

He will replace Rear Admiral Roberto Enriquez starting January 24.

Duterte also appointed Major General Ernesto Torres Jr., the current commander of the Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division, as the new chief of the AFP Northern Luzon Command.

He will replace Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. effective January 7.

“We wish both officers all the best in their new tours of duty, and we are confident that they will continue to perform their mandate to serve our people and to secure our nation with professionalism, integrity, and dedicated service,” the Palace said.

In a separate statement, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed the appointment of the new officers to the two commands of the AFP “tasked with protecting the country’s northern and western frontiers.”

Lorenzana also confirmed the assumption of Major General Nestor Herico as the new commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps effective February 21. He will replace retiring Major General Ariel Caculitan.

“As these gentlemen assume their new roles in the organization, I am confident that they will rise to the occasion and effectively lead our troops in securing our nation and our people,” the DND chief said.

Defense chief on martial law rumors amid rising COVID-19 cases: Fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.

Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.

This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.

The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.

But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.

He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.

“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.

Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.

Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Duterte orders barangay officials to restrict movement of unvaccinated persons

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed barangay officials to limit the mobility of persons who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 amid rising cases in the country.

During his pre-taped public briefing aired late Thursday, Duterte told barangay officials to advise unvaccinated residents to just stay at home to avoid contracting the disease, especially its highly transmissible variants.

“I’m now giving orders to the barangay captains to look for those persons who are not vaccinated and just would request them or order them, if you may, to stay put,” he said.

“If he refuses, he goes out of the house and goes around in the community or maybe wherever magpunta, he can be restrained,” he added.

Being persons in authority, Duterte said barangay captains have the power to arrest “recalcitrant” persons if they are unvaccinated and refuse to be restrained or escorted to their homes, he argued.

At the same time, village chiefs can also mobilize civilians to help them with the subjugation of people who haven’t received COVID-19 shot from leaving their homes and loitering outdoors.

“Give them the task officially probably written and that converts their status from being a civilian but also a person in authority called upon to assist the persons in authority,” he said.

“They now become agents of a person in authority. That is my position,” he added.

The president, however, clarified that he was issuing the order as part of his responsibility to ensure public safety and well-being.

He also pointed out that unvaccinated people will not be immediately imprisoned, and persons in authority will have to talk to them about the dangers of leaving their homes.

“I hate to say this word pero — these words: being the President, ultimately I am responsible for the safety and well-being of every Filipino and that is why my orders are to restrain them,” he said.

“Hindi naman kaagad arestuhin. Paki-usap lang, eh sir hindi ka nagpabakuna then you put everybody in jeopardy. You go out, you get contaminated, dalhin mo. Ngayon, por pamilya, por bahay ang contamination,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte ordered the police to arrest and detain for investigation individuals involved in the illegal trade of COVID-19 drugs in the black market.

“I would insist for the police to arrest them and detain them for investigation. If it’s a serious offense, that will go about 34 hours of detention and in that time, you can investigate,” he said.

The president said that nobody will be spared, stressing that his order also covers agents and sellers or sales representatives, and even owners of medical infrastructures.

“Sabihin nila even it’s a matter of violation, ‘wala kami, ‘yung aming mga staff lang.’ Do not give me that s***. Hulihin ninyo at ikulong ninyo,” he said.

The unregulated sale of COVID-19 drugs is a serious offense because it victimizes those who need the medicine but cannot afford to buy due to very steep prices.

Duterte also asked the Department of Justice to assign fiscals who could conduct summary investigation and inquest of those involved in the prohibited trade. He also wants the police to investigate their areas of responsibility and to “solve the problem.”

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