Malacañang expressed alarm over slay of Calbayog City mayor

Marje Pelayo   •   March 9, 2021   •   336

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang expressed alarm over the killing of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino.

The Palace suspects the incident is related to the upcoming 2022 elections.

Following the incident, the Department of Justice (DOJ) directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a separate investigation on the incident.

“Kinokondena po natin iyan dahil, ang karapatang mabuhay po ay pinaka-importanteng karapatan, at nanunumbalik po kami at naalarma dahil po mayor po ang pinatay,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Baka po ito ay simula na naman ng patayan dahil sa pulitika sa panahong papalapit na ang eleksyon,” he added.

PNP files raps vs Calbayog mayor’s son, cops involved in shootout

Marje Pelayo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several policemen are now facing charges of homicide and frustrated homicide for the death of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino.

They are members of the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group namely P/Lt.Col. Harry Sucayre, P/Maj. Shyrile Tan and P/Lt. Julio Armeza Jr.

The incident happened on March 8 which also resulted in the death of the mayor’s security escort and driver.

Meanwhile, two counts of murder charges were also filed against the mayor’s son, Ronald Mark Aquino, Pol. Corp. Ramil Rosales and several John Does for the deaths of  P/Capt. Joselito Tabada and P/SSgt. Romeo Laoyon.

These accounts were based on the sworn statements of witnesses and evidence collected from the crime scene by Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO).

According to Police Cpl. Edsel Omega, the younger Aquino and two other men armed with high-caliber firearms fired at the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit or PDEU and killed  Tabada and Laoyon.

“So you  stand by your statement na nakita mo si Mark Aquino na bumabaril at saka si Rosales dun sa natumbang kasamahan mo sa taas?” asked Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

“Yes, your honor,” said P/Cpl. Edsel Omega during the hearing.

Meanwhile, PNP-Samar maintained that the incident was a shoot out and not an ambush as they claim it was the other group that shot first.

Mark Aquino denied the allegations saying he was at a resort at the time of the shooting, waiting for his father to arrive to celebrate his birthday.

“Pagdating namin po dun, unang tiningnan ko po ang sasakyan ng father ko po. Naabutan ko po na walang buhay na siya at tadtad po ng bala. At wala po akong ibang ginawa kundi yakapin ang tatay ko,” Mark said.

“Nung pagpunta ko po doon, tahimik na po. Wala na pong putukan at marami na pong sibilyan,” he added.

Mark believes it was a planned murder with politics as the motive behind the slay.

Based on a witness cop’s account, he received an order from PDEU Chief P/Capt. Joselito Tabada and one of Mayor Aquino’s political rivals, to link the late mayor to illegal drugs trade.

But according to the PNP and PDEA, Mayor Aquino was not on their drug list.

“I was called my attention by Tabada. Sabi niya sa akin kung pwede daw gumawa ng isang documento for search warrant at saka pag-surveillance sa bahay ni Mayor Aquino. That time sir, 2 options ang binigay sakin — it’s either to apply search warrant o i-ambush nalang si Mayor Aquino,” said the witness from Mark Aquino’s camp.

Meanwhile based on the presentation of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the bureau ruled out ambush though it was still sketchy as to who was the real mastermind behind the killing. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Palace defends Duterte order to reduce number of holidays for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel some traditional holidays for this year in a bid to spur the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1107, Duterte moved to declare traditional holidays of Nov. 2, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31 as special working days “to encourage economic productivity by minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the order was based on the recommendation of the administration’s economic managers to support economic recovery.

“Napakatagal na po natin nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19,” Roque said in a virtual briefing.

“Siguro naman po ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time,” he added.

The imposition of lengthy lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 has led the Philippine economy to a slump. The pandemic has also affected millions of workers and businesses.

Opposition lawmakers, however, called on Malacañang to reconsider its decision, saying the reclassification of traditional holidays into special working days will affect workers’ pay as they will no longer get additional holiday pay equal to 30 percent of their basic daily wage.

In response to their calls, Roque said that “nothing is etched in stone” and that there is still a possibility that this will change with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

“Pero tingnan po natin kung anong mangyayari, nothing is etched in stone naman po. Tingnan natin baka naman dahil may bakuna na eh makabalik na tayo sa dati at baka hindi na natin kinakailangan maghabol pa ‘no,” he said.

The Philippines on Monday started its COVID-19 immunization program following receipt of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, courtesy of the Chinese government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Sinopharm files for EUA in PH — Roque

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday (March 1) confirmed that China’s Sinopharm has already filed for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque at a press briefing.

“They have already filed with the fda an application for eua for sinopharm vaccine, nai-file na po,” he said during the kick off vaccination event in UP-PGH.

The Sinopharm vaccine has been controversial as it was the brand injected to members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) last year despite lack of proper authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is also the brand that is preferred by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

However, FDA Director General Dr. Eric Domingo in Laging Handa public briefing on PTV earlier today said he has not seen an application as of Friday.  He is also not sure if the application was filed online.

“As of last Friday po, wala pa naman akong nabalitaan na natanggap kami na EUA application from Sinopharm,” Domingo said.

“Hindi ko alam kung nag-apply sila online over the weekend pero wala pa pong sinasabi sa akin,” he added.

Should the EUA application be received, the FDA will have a long process of reviewing it similar to Sinovac;s CoronaVac vaccine.

Specifically, it will take more than 21 days or more likely from four to six weeks because Sinopharm has not received any EUA from much stringent regulatory authorities such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the World Health Organization.

At present, only three vaccines are FDA-approved for emergency use in the Philippines.

These are COVID-19 vaccines fro, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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