Business group upholds press freedom

The Makati Business Club in a statement on Thursday said it “expresses its concern about the (Feb. 13) arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.” ‘Especially while there are questions about whether the law is applicable, we believe the authorities should err on the side of freedom of the press that is a bedrock of all our rights and liberty,” the business group said. “A brave and free press is an ally in the fight against corruption that we and the government espouse in order to encourage investment badly needed to generate employment and wealth creation that is truly inclusive.”

Lapeña answers charges against him


Former Bureau of Customs (BoC) chief and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director-General Isidro S. Lapeña appeared before a panel of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and submitted his counter-affidavit to a complaint by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The complaint is in connection with the P2.4-billion shabu shipments kept in two magnetic lifters and found at the Manila International Container Port in August 2018 and the P11-billion worth of the same illegal drugs placed in four magnetic lifters found in Cavite. Mr. Lapeña is charged with two counts each of graft, dereliction of duty, and grave misconduct. 50 others were also charged by the NBI. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

US supports drug war, Palace quotes ambassador

Malacañang on Thursday said the United States supports President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said United States Ambassador Sung Y. Kim and the US-Philippine Society had met with Mr. Duterte at the Palace last Wednesday. “The conversation centered on the President’s narrative telling them how the drug war affected him and this country; and that he had to declare war on drugs. And he had to do it because he wants to protect and preserve this nation,” Mr. Panelo said. “In response, the US Ambassador said that the US government supports the fight against drugs.”

PAO dumps more Dengvaxia complaints on Garin, others

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) has filed three more complaints before the Department of Justice (DoJ) in connection with the deaths linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine. This brings the total number of Dengvaxia-related complaints to 35. PAO recommended the charging of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violations of the Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act of the Philippines against former health secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin, other health officials as well as officials of Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corporation. The Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 19 permanently banned Dengvaxia following Sanofi’s noncompliance in submitting required post-approval commitment documents. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas