Lawmakers deny links to DPWH corruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020   •   326

The eight current and former lawmakers named by President Rodrigo Duterte to have been involved in the corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have denied the said allegation.

Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Sato, in a statement, said her inclusion in the list is to out malign her credibility especially with the upcoming elections.

“The report made by Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica which impinges on my credentials as a public servant is clearly calculated to sow intrigues and disruption in the local politics of Occidental Mindoro,” she said.

Sato said Belgica is a known ally of her possible opponent in the 2022 elections.

Former Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. said he is currently not facing any investigations involving corruption.

Baguilat reiterated that he will not go through the lengths of promoting Cordillera products had he been accepting kickbacks from the DPWH projects.

Misamis Occidental Representative Henry Oaminal also released a statement welcoming the investigations to be conducted on the issue to prove his innocence.

Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman also expressed her willingness to cooperate in any investigation to clear her name.

“I am open to any investigation to establish the truth on this matter and I am sure that my honor will be vindicated. My conscience is clear,” she said in a statement.

Quezon City 5th District Representative Alfred Vargas, meanwhile, has insisted that his 12 years in public service has been unblemished.

“I am ready to submit myself to an investigation by the proper authority. Mere allegations are not proof,” he said.

Quezon Province Representative Angelina Helen Tan, meanwhile, challenge the PACC to visit the project in Gumaca and not base their allegations on anonymous tips and reports.

Northern Samar Representative Paul Daza said there might be former DPWH contractors who might have put his name on the list especially after his office exposed alleged anomalies in the department’s projects.

“Records and history will show that it was my office who exposed former elected officials and contractors for abandoning projects. Because of my call for an investigation, I believe no less than six (6) of them have already been blacklisted by the DPWH recently,” he said.

ACT-CIS Partylist Representative Eric Yap reiterated he was not involved in any DPWH bidding in Benguet. He is also willing to resign if proven guilty of the allegations against him.

Once the session resumes at the House of Representatives, Yap said he will file a motion to investigate Belgica regarding alleged anomalies in the Duty-Free Philippines. -AAC (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte to listen to public’s sentiment on VFA issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is open to listening to the public about their sentiments on the issue regarding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said those who wish to voice out their opinions on whether the VFA should be abolished or not can send messages through the government hotline 8888.

Kung nais ninyong marinig ang inyong boses tungkol dito, huwag po kayong mag-atubili, kayo po ay magpadala ng e-mail o mensahe o kung anuman doon sa mga linya ng ating mga ahensiya sa gobyerno para makarating po kay Presidente (If you want your voices to be heard, do not hesitate and send an email or message through government agency hotlines for it to reach the President), he said.

Duterte, during his public address on Wednesday (February 24), said he is still undecided on what to do. He previously demanded the US to pay if it wants the VFA to continue.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military will support the decision of the President but also said the Philippines should be able to defend itself without any assistance. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to personally welcome first batch of Sinovac vaccines on Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to witness in person the arrival of the Philippines’ very first batch of COVID-19 vaccines scheduled on Sunday (February 28) at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed in a message that the event on Monday is part of the President’s schedule.

He is expected to be joined by other government officials in welcoming the shipment of the much-awaited 600,000 doses of CoronaVac of the pharmaceutical firm Sinovac donated by China.

A total of 100,000 doses of the CoronaVac will be reserved for members of the military.

Once the vaccines arrive, the government is expected to kick-off the nationwide vaccine rollout on Monday (March 1) which will prioritize frontline health workers, uniformed personnel, and senior citizens among other sectors.

The vaccine turnover rite was also confirmed by China through its envoy to the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” Ambassador Huang said on Facebook.

“I want to thank all those who have worked so hard in order to make this happen! I hope the vaccines will help kick off Philippines’ mass inoculation campaign to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos’ life to return to normal at the earliest,” he added.

Meanwhile in a post on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy refuted claims that Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be given to health workers who have high exposure to positive cases.

The Embassy said the pharma company’s first trial inoculation on health workers in Brazil yielded positive results.

“Even under such extremely challenging conditions, the vaccine has show 100% protection to prevent fatal cases or severe cases that need hospitalization, 80% protection to prevent mild case which don’t need any medical intervention,” it said.

Thus, the Embassy said, “the Sinovac is good for medical workers with exposure to COVID-19.”

Duterte to visit areas affected by ‘Auring’—Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit areas affected by the onslaught of tropical depression Auring, Malacañang announced on Tuesday (February 23).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in an online briefing said the President wants to see firsthand the damage wrought by Auring and the situation of displaced residents. Duterte will visit the affected areas in the Caraga region accompanied by several members of the Cabinet.

Nograles reported that financial aid has already been given to the residents. He further assured that additional relief assistance will also be provided.

As of February 22, the number of families affected by Auring has reached 28,009. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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