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Panelo: Leni’s drug findings ‘a dud’

Malacañang on Monday dismissed Vice President Leni Robredo’s findings and recommendations on the illegal drugs campaign as “a dud”, stressing that she was only trying to be “relevant.”

duterte robredo

Robredo claimed anew that the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs is a “failure” because authorities have seized less than one percent of shabu (crystal meth) since 2016.

panelo salvadorPresidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, said what he considered a “failure” was Robredo’s 18-day stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“Palagay ko failure yung pag-upo niya (I think the failure was her appointment there),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
He criticized Robredo for implying that her findings contained irregularities she was about to expose when in fact there was clearly nothing new about her report.
“If you notice when she was threatening (about) this report, she implied na meron siyang mga nadiskubreng iregularidad na akala mo’y bombang sasabog sa mukha (that she discovered irregularities you’d think was a bomb that would explode on your face),” Panelo said.
“It’s a dud. Wala naman siyang sinabi dun na bago na hindi tinututukan ng mga ahensiyang involved laban sa droga (She didn’t say anything new which the drug-related agencies are not already addressing),” he added.

Robredo was supposed to release her findings and recommendations on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs last Dec. 16 but postponed it due to the magnitude 6.9 quake that hit Davao del Sur.
Panelo earlier questioned why it took Robredo so long to release the findings, insinuating that her findings could be “fabricated”.
Not a failure
Citing police data, Robredo said only one percent of shabu has been seized in the three-year drug war because around 3,000 kilos of shabu is consumed in the country every week or around 156,000 kilos per year.
Data from the PDEA showed it only seized 1,344 kilos shabu from January to October 2019; 785 kilos in 2018; and 1,053 kilos in 2017, she said.
Robredo added that according to estimates from the Philippine National Police (PNP), around PHP1.3 trillion worth of shabu circulates in the country every year. However, law enforcement only apprehended PHP1.4 billion worth of illegal drugs.
Panelo, however, said this did not immediately mean that the drug campaign is a failure but that there is more work to do.
He explained that it was easy for illegal drugs to enter the country being composed of many islands, but noted that despite this, they were still being captured by authorities.
“Hindi totally eradicated simply because marami pa ring pumapasok pero yung mga pumapasok, nahuhuli pa rin natin (It’s not totally eradicated simply because there are many illegal drugs coming in, but they continue to be caught),” Panelo said.
“It doesn’t mean na (that) failure kahit na (even if it’s just) one percent,” he added, stressing that Robredo failed to see the drug war’s many accomplishments such as having dismantled illegal drug factories, caused the surrender of drug addicts and pushers, and the neutralization of high-value target drug suspects.
He said Robredo also failed to see the thousands of dysfunctional families by reason of the drug syndicate and only focused on families who have lost loved ones involved in the illegal drug trade.
“I think she just wants to be relevant,” he said.
‘Wrong feeling’
Among her recommendations, Robredo said instead of the PDEA, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) should chair the ICAD because it focuses on anti-drug policies while the former focuses on law enforcement.
Panelo shrugged off her recommendation, insisting she could not simply rely on her gut feeling.
“What is her basis for saying that? Did she explain? Bakit yan ang feeling niya (Why does she feel that way)? Wrong feeling,” Panelo said. He said Robredo should have consulted with agencies under the ICAD if they were amenable to her suggestion.
“Sila yung mga nandun sa baba, sila ang magsasabi kung okay yung kaniyang rekomendasyon (They’re the ones on the ground, they’re the ones to say whether her recommendations are okay),” Panelo said.
“These are people knowledgeable given the fact that they’ve been there in the last three and a half years. Sila ang nagbibigay ng rekomendasyon (They give the recommendations),” he added.
Panelo, however, said the Palace remains open to her findings and recommendations if useful.
“This is not to say however na kung meron siyang matinong, magandang mungkahe, hindi natin siya iko-consider (that if she is good suggestions, we won’t consider them),” Panelo said.
“So far, ang nakita ko walang basis (But so far, what I see is there’s no basis),” he added.
Should be thankful
Asked if Robredo’s findings would affect the President’s high trust and approval ratings, Panelo said Duterte’s ratings continued to soar amid criticism from the opposition.
“Nakita mo naman kahit na anong banat nila, naging 87 percent nga, lalo ngang lumaki e (You can see that no matter how much they criticize, his trust rating reached 87 percent, it even increased),” Panelo said.
He, however, said Robredo’s higher trust and approval ratings could be attributed to her drug czar stint.
“Tumaas yung rating ni VP Leni. Tumaas lang yun kasi nabigyan siya ng pagkakataon na maging relevant. Inappoint siya e (Her ratings even increased. It only increased because she was given the opportunity to be relevant. She was appointed),” Panelo said.
“Prior to that, diba bagsak siya ng bagsak. Dapat nga nagpapasalamat siya kay Presidente (her ratings were dropping. She should even thank the President),” he added.
Robredo was appointed as co-chair at ICAD on Oct. 31 to help Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino in efforts to curb the drug menace.
She was fired 19 days later due to alleged “missteps” such as meeting with foreign personalities and groups that have prejudged the drug war and failing to present new measures in curbing the drug proliferation in the country.
Earlier, Panelo said Robredo accepting the role as drug czar was a “golden opportunity” that could even propel her into the presidency. (PNA)




Malacañang on Sunday brushed aside the claim of London-based think tank that more foreign investors may be lured into the Philippines in the event that Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo replaces President Rodrigo Duterte due to his health issues.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo taking over as the country’s president was just a “wishful thinking”.

“Unang-una, ‘yun ay wishful thinking (First and foremost, that’s a wishful thinking),” Panelo said in an interview with dzIQ, when sought to react to think tank Capital Economics statement that foreign investors would welcome the idea of Robredo replacing Duterte.

“Pinakikialaman na naman nila ‘yung soberentiya at ‘yung tinig ng taumbayan na nag-halal sa kanya overwhelmingly. Masyado silang nakikialam sa pamamalakad ng ating pamahalaan (They are once again interfering in our sovereignty and to our countrymen who overwhelmingly voted for him. They are meddling in our government’s policy),” he added.

Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution states that, “in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term.”

In a report titled “Duterte health worries, Sri Lanka election” and published on November 15, Capital Economics senior Asia economist Gareth Leather claimed that there was a downtrend in foreign investments since Duterte assumed presidency in 2016.

Leather said while Robredo has scant knowledge about economic policies, “a change in president would probably be welcomed by investors.”

Leather also noted Robredo’s “fierce opposition to Duterte’s authoritarian tendencies, including his willingness to undermine political institutions, his attacks on political opponents, as well as the controversial war on drugs” could entice foreign firms to invest in the Philippines.

Panelo debunked the think tank’s claim, saying that the Philippines has “good” foreign investments.

“Ang alin, foreign investment? Eh maling-mali siya doon. Definitely, di ba sinasabi nga ng mga economic managers na ang ganda ng investment natin, lalung-lalo na sa foreign (About foreign investment? He’s wrong with his claim. Our economic managers are definitely saying that we have good investments, most especially in foreign investments),” he said.

“‘Yun ang sinasabi natin kay VP Leni na maging maingat ka sa pag-tanggap ng mga payo sa’yo ng inaakala mo na makakatulong ay baka sa halip na makatulong ay makasira (That’s why we are telling VP Leni to be careful with accepting a piece of advice from others, which you think can help you but truth is, would just destroy her),” Panelo added.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that foreign direct investments registered a net inflow of USD543 million in July 2019.

For the first seven months of 2019, long-term equity net inflows totaled USD4.1 billion. (PNA)


President to maximize powers for ‘Build, Build, Build’

By ROGER M. BALANZA with PNA report

Due to time constraints, Malacanang is not keen on supporting a House bill granting special powers to President Rodrigo Duterte  in adopting a “national policy” in fast-tracking the implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” program on or before 2022.


Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the proposed measure is “no longer a priority legislative agenda” of Duterte, considering the time constraint.
House Bill 5456 was filed on Wednesday, November 13, by  Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda after Senator Franklin Drilon described as a “dismal failure” the implementation of projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.


The Duterte government has alloted PHP9 trillion for the implementation of around 100 big-ticket infrastructure projects and over 10,000 small infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Even without special powers, the President can still fast-track implementation of the projects, said Panelo.
President Rodrigo Duterte will maximize the use of his “available” powers to ensure the full and effective implementation of his administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, Panelo said on Saturday, November 16.
“The President will implement and maximize what is presently available under our laws for this purpose,” Panelo adds.
Earlier, Panelo said he considered as a “good idea” the proposal by  Rep. Salceda to grant emergency powers to Duterte to speed up the implementation of the current administration’s infrastructure program.
“While we respect the wisdom of Congress and laud the gentleman from Albay in seeing the importance of this flagship infrastructure program of the current government, we consider this proposed measure belated and no longer a priority legislative agenda of the President, given that we only have less than three years left in office,” he said.
Panelo noted that there was progress in the implementation of the infrastructure program, citing the figures recently released by Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon who also serves as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects.
Around 38 out of the revised list of 100 key infrastructure projects are expected to be completed by 2022, while 22 are “partially operational or substantially completed” and the remaining 40 would be finished “beyond 2022,” Dizon said in a Palace economic briefing on Wednesday.
Dizon also noted that 35 flagship infrastructure projects are ongoing, 32 will commence construction in the next six to eight months, 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval, and 12 in the advanced stages of a feasibility study.
Panelo was confident that all infrastructure projects “will be started within the governance of this Administration.”
“One of the inherent powers of the State is the power of eminent domain where pertinent government offices, through the Office of the Solicitor General, may expropriate or initiate proceedings there for to acquire private property for public use,” he said.
“This power is particularly essential in securing rights of way, an issue that hampered the construction of vital infrastructure. The current agencies involved in the infrastructure program are presently utilizing this process,” Panelo added. 

DUTERTE to go on 3-day break


Upon the advice of his doctor, President Rodrigo Duterte will be taking a three-day break from his “punishing” work schedule this week, Malacañang said on Monday.

Citing Duterte’s former aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President will start resting for three days on Tuesday.
Panelo emphasized that Duterte’s schedule is “subject to change without prior notice.”
“Sabi ni Bong and di naman siya nag-disagree dahil tatlo kaming magka-usap, mga three days (Bong said and he didn’t disagree because the three of us were talking, he will rest for three days),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Well upon the advice of friends, of colleagues in the world scene, and most likely upon the advice of the doctors to take a rest week from his punishing schedule,” he added.
Panelo, however, clarified that the 74-year-old President was not taking a leave due to any medical concern, but simply to catch up on sleep.
“Napapansin ko kay Presidente (What I noticed from the President), as I told him every time you have eight-hour sleep, ang ganda ng hitsura mo e. Palagay ko yun lang ang kulang niya (You look good. I think that’s what he lacks),” Panelo said.
The Palace official said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will be designated as caretaker should the President files a leave of absence from work.
However, Panelo said he has to personally ask the President himself whether he will push through with his planned three-day break.
“Kung merong caretaker, e di may official leave. Kung wala, pahinga-pahinga (If there will be a caretaker, then it will be an official leave. If there’s none, he’ll simply be taking a break),” Panelo said.
On Oct. 24, Go announced that the President would go on a week-long break after his participation in the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Bangkok, Thailand from November 2 to 4.
Before that, the President also attended Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement rites at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22 but had to return to Manila on the same day after feeling an “unbearable” lower back pain due to a recent minor motorcycle accident.
Despite his speedy recovery, Panelo said future overseas travels of the President will now depend on the advice of his doctor.
Last Sunday, Malacañang announced that Duterte is set to join his fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders in a commemorative summit with South Korean President Moon Ja-in in Busan on November 25 to 27.
Amid concerns on the state of his health, the President has assured the public that his condition was not that “serious” to release a medical bulletin. (PNA)