Items filtered by date: Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas road mishap: Bus driver faces raps

Contributed photo shows a Partas bus (left), which collided with a jeepney in Agoo, La Union early yesterday. All the 20 fatalities were in the private jeepney, which was on its way to the Our Lady of Manaoag church in Pangasinan for a Christmas Day mass. File
AGOO, La Union, Philippines — The police will file various criminal charges against the driver of the Partas commuter bus that collided head-on with a private jeepney, leaving 20 people dead and 26 others injured at dawn on Christmas Day in Barangay San Jose Sur here.

Senior Insp. Eugene Balagot, Agoo deputy police chief, yesterday said cases of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and damage to property and physical injury would be filed against driver Rodel Sadac of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur.

Sadac is now in the custody of the Agoo police.

Balagot said they are still waiting for the result of the autopsy on Roland Perez, the jeepney driver, to determine if he was drunk at the time of the accident.

Investigation showed that the jeepney encroached onto the lane of the bus, causing the collision.

The jeepney had 30 passengers on their way to attend mass in Manaoag, Pangasinan when the driver allegedly tried to overtake another vehicle along the national highway but miscalculated the distance of the fast approaching bus.

\The injured victims were now all in stable condition and recuperating at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City.

The remains of the 20 fatalities are at the barangay hall of Barangay Pilar where they had resided.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday issued a 30-day preventive suspension order against Partas bus company after the accident in Agoo.

The LTFRB will serve a copy of the suspension order today. The order becomes effective upon receipt of the bus firm.

The order covers one franchise involving seven units. Partas has a total of 29 franchises covering 187 units nationwide.

LTFRB board member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada said they grounded the bus company’s operation covering the route from Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte to Sampaloc, Manila after Partas management failed to submit the dashcam card and GPS data of its unit involved in the mishap.

“The violation of Partas why it was issued a suspension order is for its failure to comply with the directive of the board considering that 36 hours have passed since the road crash,” Lizada said.

Lizada said a representative from Partas told her the bus company has yet to recover the dashcam.

The LTFRB earlier gave Partas until noon yesterday to submit the needed data but what the bus firm gave was footage of a closed-circuit television camera inside the involved unit.

Sen. Grace Poe renewed her call for the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that would conduct an independent investigation on transport-related accidents on land, air, maritime and rail.

Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, was saddened by the deaths resulting from the accident. – Emmanuel Tupas, Paolo Romero

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DOST: LGUs warned of landslides, flash floods before Vinta

Renato Solidum, DOST undersecretary for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, maintained that concerned government agencies did not lack in issuing advisories. PIA, File
MANILA, Philippines — Several days before Typhoon Vinta (international name Tembin) wreaked havoc in Mindanao, killing more than 200 people, local executives had been warned of flashfloods and landslides due to continuous heavy rain, an official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said yesterday.

Renato Solidum, DOST undersecretary for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, maintained that concerned government agencies did not lack in issuing advisories.

Solidum said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recommended the evacuation of people in areas along Vinta’s path days before it made landfall over Cateel, Davao Oriental.

\The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), an attached agency of the DOST and part of the NDRRMC, had presented Vinta’s track and rainfall forecast, which served as basis for the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in identifying the areas highly prone to floods and landslides, Solidum said.

PAGASA weather division chief Esperanza Cayanan gave emphasis on the possible flooding and landslides in Mindanao that could be triggered by Vinta.

“Several days prior to the landfall of Vinta, meetings were done at the NDRRMC to prepare for it,” Solidum told The STAR. “There was a decision to recommend evacuation in the areas highly prone to floods and landslides.”

]The weather bureau regularly provided information on Vinta’s track and rainfall projection, the DOST official said.

“Community involvement is critical in all preparedness efforts. Evacuation planning and drills are needed,” Solidum said.

Office of the Civil Defense regional director Manuel Luis Ochotorena earlier said people did not heed the call to leave, which resulted in the high number of the dead and missing.

Hundreds of lives could have been saved had the government utilized existing weather forecasting technology and data, according to disaster scientist Mahar Lagmay.

Lagmay, head of the University of the Philippines NOAH Center, said there are available technology that could provide near-real time information for specific areas affected by a typhoon.

He said near-real time information is different from weather forecasts as it takes into account various data, including hazard maps that can provide projected scenarios hours before these happen.

“When we were part of the NDRRMC, this is what we used to do,” Lagmay told The STAR yesterday.

“We interpret data from sensors and satellites and provide hazard-specific, area-focus and time-bound information that can be passed on to local government units,” he added.

NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards was part of the NDRRMC’s Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment until earlier this year when the government stopped funding for the DOST.

UP has adopted the NOAH project.

World sympathizes

Several governments and international organizations have expressed their condolences to the Philippines amid the death and destruction caused by storms Urduja (Kai-tak) and Vinta over the Christmas holidays.

Representatives of the United States, Japan and China expressed their sympathies in separate statements.

“Heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones of the victims of Tropical Storm Vinta. My thoughts and prayers are with them in this difficult time,” US Ambassador Sung Kim said in a tweet.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured President Duterte that Japan would provide assistance to the victims of Vinta.

Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono sent messages to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, extending their condolences to the Philippines and those affected by the storm.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also sympathized with the Philippines.

“Tropical Storm Vinta recently hit the Philippines and caused severe casualties and property losses, making a lot of people displaced. I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathy to Your Honorable on the tragic disaster,” Wang said in his message to Cayetano.

“I am convinced that, under the leadership of the Philippine government, the people of the affected areas are bound to overcome the disaster and restore their normal livelihoods at an earliest date,” Wang added.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said relief goods would be sent to areas affected by Vinta.

“Our heart goes out to the children and families affected by the storm,” Lotta Sylwander, head of UNICEF operations in the Philippines, said.

State of calamity

The provincial government has placed Lanao del Norte under a state of calamity following the death and devastation left by Vinta.

The provincial board made the decision during a special session on Dec. 24 following severe flooding in different towns across the province.

The state of calamity authorizes the provincial government to use the remaining available funds for the year for relief operations.

A five percent calamity fund will be used by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) to augment funds to address the immediate needs of the flooded municipalities: Maigo, Salvador, Kauswagan, Tubod, Kapatagan, Bacolod and Kolambugan.

Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur were also placed under a state of calamity.

The Office of the Civil Defense said the areas under state of calamity are Leon Postigo, Gutalac, Salug, Labason, Baliguian, Siocon, Sirawai, and Sibuco in Zamboanga del Norte and Tambulig town and some villages in Zamboanga del Sur.

Death toll

As the death toll from severe tropical storm Vinta continued to climb to 240 on Monday, the NDRRMC has yet to release financial assistance to the affected families.

The NDRRMC said over 170 people remain missing.

As mandated by law, families of calamity victims are entitled to receive financial help from the government: P10,000 for each fatality, P5,000 for injured victims and P30,000 for those whose houses were destroyed.

“We still have remaining funds for those affected by the storms but with only a few days before the year ends, we don’t know if these will be enough. That’s why we are coordinating with the Department of Budget and Management,” Romina Marasigan, spokesperson for the NDRRMC, said.

She said government financial assistance to calamity victims would only be released once documentation is completed and duly validated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Vinta ravaged Mindanao, particularly the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Lanao del Norte.

PAL airlifts relief goods

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is helping the government in bringing relief goods to areas in Mindanao affected by Vinta.

PAL spokesperson and chief information officer Ma. Cielo Villaluna said the airline brought the relief items totalling 13,306 kilograms for free.

The supplies included ready-to-eat food, water containers, water purifyng tablets, plastic mats, mosquito nets and blankets.

“PAL utilized Airbus 340 fleet for Manila-Davao flights to ensure cargo space for the relief goods,” Villaluna said.

She said upon arrival in Davao City, the goods were transferred to trucks of the Department of Social Welfare and Development before transporting these for distribution to the residents of Lanao del Norte.

PAL’s assistance was made through the efforts of its president Jimmy Bautista, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board spokesperson Aileen Lizada and Capt. Skee Tamayo of the Department of Transportation.

Tagle appeals for help

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle yesterday appealed to the faithful to help the victims of the two storms that hit the country.

Tagle urged the people to become instruments of God and extend kindness to Filipinos in the Visayas and Mindanao who have been affected by Vinta and Urduja.

Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña also appealed for help for the storm victims in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

“We appeal for rice, noodles, canned goods and used clothing. God spared us from this calamity so that we can help those in need,” he said.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) appealed for assistance to help the more than 500,000 people affected by Vinta.

PRC chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon made the appeal as the number of deas and missing people from the flashfloods and landslides that struck parts of Mindanao continued to rise. – Janvic Mateo, Pia Lee-Brago, Jaime Laude, Lino de la Cruz, Roel Pareño, Rudy Santos, Evelyn Macairan, Non Alquitran

 

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2 cops nabbed for indiscriminate firing during holidays

Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy spokesperson Supt. Chai Madrid said Police Officer 1 Arnold Gabriel Sabili of the Rodriguez Police in Rizal and PO1 Marbin Jay Pagulayan of Malate Police Station in Manila are facing charges following complaints. File
MANILA, Philippines — Two policemen are facing charges over illegal discharge of firearms during the holidays.

Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy spokesperson Supt. Chai Madrid said Police Officer 1 Arnold Gabriel Sabili of the Rodriguez Police in Rizal and PO1 Marbin Jay Pagulayan of Malate Police Station in Manila are facing charges following complaints.

Sabili reportedly fired his service firearm while enjoying Christmas Eve with his friends in Barangay Santolan, Pasig City.

\Policemen from the Pasig City precinct 7 immediately responded to a call of indiscriminate firing that led to the arrest of Sabili.

Pagulayan, on the other hand, fired his firearm at a nearby ditch drainage in an effort to pacify his friends who were quarreling during Christmas Day in Tondo, Manila.

Policemen from the Manila Police District’s Raxabago precinct arrested Pagulayan and seized his 9mm firearm with its magazine still loaded.

Pagulayan argued he was only trying to pacify two of his friends who were quarrelling during their drinking session.

Pagulayan admitted firing his gun at a canal nearby to attract their attention.
The two policemen are examples of the PNP’s “Ligtas Paskuhan 2017” program to discourage indiscriminate firing during the holiday celebration.

The PNP said a total of seven persons were arrested for illegal discharge of guns, including Sabili and Pagulayan.

Five others including a barangay councilman in Ilocos region, two civilians from Central Luzon and Central Visayas were also arrested for indiscriminate firing.

A civilian was also arrested for indiscriminate firing in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija on Christmas Day. Armando Fajardo, a helper and resident of Barangay Cojuangco, was arrested following complaints from residents about his firing a .38 caliber revolver during a drinking spree with friends.

Police said there were a total of 12 incidents of illegal discharge of firearms nationwide from Dec. 16 to 26. Of the 12, there were five incidents in Metro Manila, two from Central Luzon and Central Visayas and one each from Ilocos, Bicol and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The PNP said seven other suspects in illegal discharge of firearms are being hunted, including five civilians in Metro Manila, a former militiaman in Bicol and a policeman in ARMM. Police said there were two incidents of stray bullets in Central Visayas and Region 13.
Records showed there were 12 persons arrested for illegal possession, use and sale of prohibited firecrackers nationwide.
Madrid said a total of 36,189 policemen were deployed in places of convergence, transportation hubs/terminals, route security and target hardening in the observance of the holiday season.

Western Visayas, on the other hand, reported a big decrease in crime during the holidays.

Police regional director Supt. Gilbert Gorero said there was a 88.43 percent decrease in crime.

“The decrease is not only attributed to all types of focus crimes and other non-index crimes but also to violation of special laws which are usually police initiated,” Gorero said. – Jennifer Rendon

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Police visibility to continue into the New Year

National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said policemen were also deployed in areas where people converge and at vital installations for immediate response and monitoring force. Boy Santos, File
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will continue its intensified visibility until the New Year celebration to ensure peaceful and orderly holidays.

National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said policemen were also deployed in areas where people converge and at vital installations for immediate response and monitoring force.

“We assure the public that Team-NCRPO will not rest to ensure the safety and security of everyone. We will continue to intensify police visibility, especially this coming New Year celebration,” Albayalde said. Albayalde said the NCRPO has doubled its efforts to assure the general public during the holidays.
“We will even double our effort to maintain peace and order as we also aim for zero-indiscriminate firing, this is a no-no for our personnel, anyone who violates will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

Albayalde said the NCRPO is working with local government units in Metro Manila to set up common fireworks areas during the New Year revelry. He also thanked the public for their support and cooperation in the campaign against firecrackers.

He reminded parents to look after their children to keep them safe from pyrotechnics. “Let us make sure no child will lose a finger. This season is supposed to be for them to enjoy,” Albayalde said. He encouraged the public to immediately call for assistance using the government emergency hotline 911. Albayalde commended all police personnel for securing and ensuring a peaceful and joyful celebration of Christmas. He urged the public to celebrate the New Year peacefully and as safely as possible.

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Senate sets plenary debates on Road Board abolition

The public works committee headed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao has prepared a committee report on Senate Bill 1620, which consolidated the three bills similarly calling for abolition of the Road Board filed by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joseph Victor Ejercito and Sherwin Gatchalian. Edd Gumban, File
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is set to start plenary debates on the bill seeking to abolish the Road Board, which has been hounded by complaints about extortion and alleged misuse of billions of funds under its care.

The Senate committee on public works has recommended the abolition of the Road Board, a move that appears to be supported by most senators.

The public works committee headed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao has prepared a committee report on Senate Bill 1620, which consolidated the three bills similarly calling for abolition of the Road Board filed by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joseph Victor Ejercito and Sherwin Gatchalian.

SB 1620 seeks to amend Republic Act 8794, which establishes the Motor Vehicles User’s Charge (MVUC) and where the creation of the Road Board to manage and utilize the funds collected from vehicle owners is contained.

Under the bill, the Road Board would be abolished and the funds collected from the MVUC would be managed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

All the funds would be held in four special trust accounts of the National Treasury. The special road support fund, special local road fund and special road safety fund will be managed by DPWH. The special vehicle pollution control fund will be managed by DOTr.

Under the bill, the funds will only be used for road maintenance and pollution control programs as originally envisioned. None of the funds will go to the general fund to ensure it is not used for any other purpose.

“The MVUC fund shall be managed with full transparency and full public disclosure. The DPWH and DOTr shall make available all records of how the funds are utilized and disbursed in accordance with existing laws,” the bill stated.

The bill also provides that the DPWH shall absorb the personnel and secretariat of the Road Board.

In calling for the abolition of the Road Board, Pimentel cited how the board failed to carry out its mandate and has been embroiled in controversies based on Commission on Audit (COA) reports.

Pimentel said based on COA reports, the road fund, which has an estimated total of P90.72 billion from 2001 to December 2012, was used for purposes other than the mandated road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of adequate and efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.

He noted that the Road Board used P515.5 million of the road fund for payment of salaries, allowances and its maintenance and other operating expenses from 2004 to 2008.

The COA also noted that in 2001, a total of P62.52 million of the road fund was used for the engineering and administrative overhead expenses of the Road Board.

Ejercito, in his bill, noted how the Road Board has been challenged with issues of discrepancies and misappropriation and allegations of corruption.

Citing a more recent COA report, Ejercito said that as of 2016, the Road Board has yet to submit its liquidation reports so the status of the projects funded by the fund could not be established.

“The existence of the Road Board is redundant as its functions fall within the powers and jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation,” he added.

Last August, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez alleged that the Road Board was engaged in extortion activities based on the claims made by some congressmen.

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Over a million OFWs deployed in 2017 — DOLE

Partial data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed a total of 1,281,506 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were deployed from January to September – 1,058,029 of whom were sent to various countries as land-based workers while 223,477 were hired as sea-based workers. File
MANILA, Philippines — Over a million Filipinos left the country to seek employment abroad while thousands returned home for various reasons in the first nine months of this year, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday.

Partial data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed a total of 1,281,506 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were deployed from January to September – 1,058,029 of whom were sent to various countries as land-based workers while 223,477 were hired as sea-based workers.

POEA noted that of the total overseas deployment during the first three quarters of the year, a majority or 736,684 were rehires while 321,345 were new hires.

Last November, the POEA temporarily stopped the deployment of new hires in a bid to control illegal recruitment operations involving certain officials and employees of the agency.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also reported that close to 1.2 million OFWs have been repatriated and provided reintegration assistance in 2017.

Bello said a total of 1,170,514 OFWs received welfare and protection programs, including reintegration and repatriation services from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

From July to October of this year, Bello said 54,470 OFWs and their families benefitted from the government’s intensified reintegration programs, including skills training and livelihood assistance.

Bello said 36,438 OFWs, mostly from the Middle East, were repatriated and provided with on-site assistance and P20,000 financial aid each.

A total of 9,512 repatriated OFWs were provided additional cash grants of P6,000 each while 13,245 OFWs were given food and hygiene kits each.

In connection with the 90-day amnesty program of Saudi Arabia for undocumented and stranded foreign nationals, OWWA also recorded a total of 15,839 Filipino migrant workers who took up the amnesty, 10,011 of whom were repatriated to the Philippines.

The DOLE released a total of P514,412,350.21 to provide various assistance to OFWs, such as food and hygiene kits, legal counseling and stress debriefing, medical and psycho-social services and training assistance.

OWWA also provided post-repatriation services to 14,165 OFWs, 4,343 of whom received welfare services, including medical, psychosocial counseling, stress debriefing, transport and accommodation, while 1,630 have been listed for employment facilitation or training services and 2,625 were provided with livelihood assistance.

DOLE likewise provided legal assistance to 4,829 OFWs while 354 OFWs were given reintegration assistance in the form of small and medium enterprise establishment in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and 384 were granted educational assistance through the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education and the Department of Budget and Management.

Bello said DOLE sought bigger budget for next year’s repatriation program because the government needs to prepare for the possible repatriation of OFWs in Qatar and other countries in the Middle East due to prevailing conflicts.

“The situation in Qatar is still stable, but we cannot just relax our guard, we are talking of 240,000 Filipinos staying there,” Bello said.

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Palace: Drug war hugely successful

In a 63-page yearend report released Monday night, the administration said the reforms it introduced are “gaining ground” and are paving the way for the economy to maintain its growth. Marcelino Pascua/Presidential Photo, File
MANILA, Philippines — It’s been a year of accomplishments, as far as the Duterte administration is concerned, as it cited reforms introduced by the President and a “hugely successful” war on drugs.

In a 63-page yearend report released Monday night, the administration said the reforms it introduced are “gaining ground” and are paving the way for the economy to maintain its growth.

“The Duterte administration has accomplished much in its first full year in office in 2017. The President’s decisive leadership, plus the strong collaboration among various government agencies, has resulted in the attainment of many of the priorities set out by the national government in the last 12 months,” it read.

The government is optimistic that 2018 will be a “more robust year” because of the approval of the national budget and the tax reform bill – laws that are seen to modernize the country’s infrastructure and boost human capital formation.

One of the report highlights is the administration’s gains in the war on illegal drugs –the centerpiece platform of President Duterte.

It said more than 16,000 deaths are being investigated and over 118,000 drug offenders arrested since the government launched its war on narcotics. Government data showed that authorities are probing a total of 16,355 “homicide cases” although the number may be higher as the report only covered July 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017.

Human rights advocates classified the deaths as “extrajudicial killings” as they claim that President Duterte’s rhetoric has emboldened policemen to use shortcuts in the anti-drug crackdown.

But officials disagreed, saying extrajudicial killings or EJKs only apply to members of cause-oriented groups, advocates of such cases, media practitioners and those apparently mistaken or identified to be so as defined under Administrative Order 35 signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2012.

This definition became the basis of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in claiming that there are no EJKs in the country.

The yearend report showed a total of 3,967 drug offenders killed and 118,287 others arrested in anti-drug operations as of Nov. 27. It added that more than 1.3 million drug suspects have surrendered to authorities.

From 79,193 operations, government forces seized P18.92 billion worth of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, it said.

At least 4,747 barangays were declared drug-free as of Nov. 27 and more than 16,000 drug dependents are undergoing the health department’s rehabilitation program. A total of 2,236 former drug users have completed the program. Also, over 14,000 drug addicts who surrendered were given livelihood and skills training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as of end September.

Hugely successful

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the anti-drug war has been “hugely successful.”

“I think the communities are safer and our young people are better protected against drugs,” he said in a recent interview.

Roque said he expects fewer allegations of human rights violations tied to the illegal drugs drug clampdown.

“I think it’s human experience that we should hear less complaints because we know how to do it better,” the spokesman said.

He reiterated that the President does not condone extrajudicial killings and is ready to prosecute policemen or soldiers who violate the law.

Despite allegations of extrajudicial killings and abusive practices, the anti-drug crackdown remains popular among Filipinos.

Eight in every ten Filipinos or 88 percent back the campaign, according to the Third Quarter 2017 Pulse Asia survey. A Pew Research Center poll, meanwhile, found that 78 percent of Filipinos support Duterte’s handling of the fight against narcotics.

The administration also cited the lower crime rate and efforts to cleanse the Philippine National Police (PNP) of scalawags.

It said the total crime volume from January to October hit only 452,204 or lower by 8.44 percent when compared to the 493,912 cases recorded in the same period last year.

Robbery incidents also went down by 23.61 percent to 13,948 from 18,259.

With regard to the PNP’s internal cleansing efforts, the administration reported that 426 policemen have been recommended for dismissal because of various offenses.

The two policemen involved in the death of 19-year old Carl Arnaiz were also dismissed. Two senior officers – Police Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio and Police Director Joel Pagdilao – were also fired over drug-related charges.

More than 1,900 drug-related investigations have been carried out against law enforcers from July 1, 2016 to June 15, 2017.

The yearend report also enumerated the high-profile tax cases pursued by the government, including Mighty Corp.’s P40-billion settlement with the administration, Philippine Airlines’ payment of its P6-billion debt to the government and Sunvar Realty Development Corp.’s compliance with the court order to vacate the Mile Long property in Makati.

Other accomplishments mentioned in the report include the 6.9 percent economic growth and 2.32 percent agriculture growth in the third quarter, the announcement of the three-year rolling infrastructure program worth P157.44 billion, the 22.6 percent spending growth in June, passage of the free college tuition law and the crafting of the Marawi rehabilitation plan.

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President Duterte to son Paolo: Do what you think is right

“You are in a position to do what is right. Kung ano lang ang tama sa iyo, gawin mo (Do what you believe is right),” President Duterte said he told his son after Paolo announced his resignation as Davao City vice mayor last Christmas. Senate PRIB/File
MANILA, Philippines — Paolo Duterte did not resign on orders of his father the President.

“You are in a position to do what is right. Kung ano lang ang tama sa iyo, gawin mo (Do what you believe is right),” President Duterte said he told his son after Paolo announced his resignation as Davao City vice mayor last Christmas.

Asked for comment about the resignation, the President said he had told Paolo, “Let the people decide, but if you think that there is a better way to do it, do what is right.”

The President was quick to point out that he never suggested any specific action for his son to take.

“I never suggested any resignation,” Duterte said.

Paolo announced his resignation last Dec. 25 during a special session of the city council to declare Davao in a state of calamity after it was struck by floods last Dec. 22 that displaced more than 31,000 of its residents.

The President said Paolo told him about his plan of stepping down on Christmas eve.

“Nagtanong siya kagabi. Doon kami nagkita-kita… ‘yung magkapatid, si mayor pati siya. Habang naghihintay kami ng balita, tinanong niya ako (He consulted me last night. We were together, including the mayor, while we waited for the news),” the President told reporters in an interview before dawn yesterday at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao.

Duterte said Paolo may have had enough of the bad press he has been getting, including the controversial pre-debut pictorial of his daughter Isabelle in Malacañang as well as the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s hearing on his alleged involvement in smuggling purportedly facilitated by the so-called Davao group.

“He considers (all this) most unfair to him,” the President said.

Paolo, for his part, stressed that certain events in his life led him to step down.

“There are recent unfortunate events in my life that are closely tied to my failed first marriage. These, among others, including the maligning of my reputation in the recent name-dropping incident in the Bureau of Customs smuggling case and the very public squabble with my daughter (led me to resign),” Paolo said in a statement.

Mayor Sara Duterte, Paolo’s sister, said the vice mayor was considered on leave as the approval of his resignation has to come from the Office of the President.

Supporting the mayor’s position, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy said Paolo’s resignation needs presidential approval.

“The Office of the President will have to approve the resignation since Davao City is a highly urbanized city and, by operation of law, the first councilor will take over,” Cuy told The STAR, adding that the political party which caused the vacancy in the council can recommend a replacement.

DILG undersecretary for local government Austere Panadero supported Cuy’s statement, citing provisions on succession in the Local Government Code.

Presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo said Paolo is like his father, President Duterte.

“He’s very sensitive, just like the father, and he’s smart – as a politician, as a public official, and as a family man,” Panelo said.

Another Duterte should resign

Following Paolo’s resignation, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said he wished it was another Duterte who stepped down as a “real Christmas gift” to Filipinos.

“There’s a real Christmas gift Filipinos deserve: someone else’s resignation, for the many unfulfilled promises, failures, avoidable tragedies, dishonesty and culpable violations of the Constitution,” Hilbay said in a Twitter post hours after Paolo’s resignation.

While Hilbay did not name who he was referring to, it is known that the President could be impeached for culpable violation of the Constitution.

Hilbay is a vocal critic of President Duterte’s administration, defending Sen. Leila de Lima in her drug-related cases and petitioning against Duterte’s war on drugs before the Supreme Court.

“The resignation shows there is still delicadeza (propriety) in public service. We hope the President will evaluate the resignation with only the good of the city in mind and not political pressure from the opposition,” Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said.

Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting commended the Chief Executive’s son for making his decision based on delicadeza.

“I respect the decision of vice mayor Duterte. It is his prerogative if he believes his resignation is in the best interest of his family. Let the legal succession take its course so the functioning of Davao City will not be stalled,” Tambunting said.

The younger Duterte’s resignation didn’t sit well with members of the opposition bloc, as expected.

“It will not divert from the fact that while the Duterte family claims that they are poor and simple, Isabelle showed the opposite through an ostentatious display of wealth and power,” Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list Magdalo pointed out.

“It will not mitigate the suffering and death of the people of Davao and other places due to flooding and fire. They need all the support from all of us, especially from the concerned agencies of government,” he added.

“Or is he preempting an ombudsman decision on his corruption case?” Alejano, a close ally of opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, remarked.

Alejano was joined by Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro of party-list Alliance of Concerned Teachers, who both belong to the militant and left-leaning Makabayan bloc composed of seven lawmakers.

“Removing himself from public office will not make questions on his alleged links to the Davao group and the smuggled P6.4-billion shabu shipment go away,” said Tiñio.

“He should have resigned when he was first linked to the Davao group and the smuggling of the P6.4-billion shabu. But resignation or not, this should not guarantee that he is free from answering the allegations regarding his participation in illegal activities and his accountability for them, should any be found,” Castro maintained. – Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla

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