President awaits report on alleged overpriced speed guns

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON Salavador S. Panelo said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will “act accordingly” after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) defended the national police over alleged corruption in its procurement of speed guns.

“They will have to submit a report on that officially to the President and the President will act accordingly,” Mr. Panelo said on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Mr. Duterte said he will transfer the procurement authority of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the DILG after learning that

P950,000 was supposedly spent for speed guns.

The President said this seemed overpriced, citing similar equipment purchased for his hometown Davao City.

However, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya, in a statement on Wednesday, said the PNP made an honest mistake by failing to explain that the speed guns being purchased are more advanced with its capability to detect not just over-speeding but also drunk-driving.

The equipment are still under the pre-procurement stage. — Gillian M. Cortez

DoH reports 4 new polio cases


THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) confirmed on Thursday four new polio cases in the country.

In a statement, the DoH said the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) reported two additional cases in Maguindanao, both male, a two- and three-year old; another two-year old male in Sultan Kudarat; and a three-year old male in Quezon City.

The new cases arose despite the intensified nationwide vaccination program, which is still ongoing in some areas.

The polio outbreak was declared in September 2019, after the country has been polio-free since 2000.

“I urge all parents and caregivers of children under five years old to take part in the coming SPKP (Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio) campaign rounds scheduled in your respective areas. Have your children, including those with private physicians or pediatricians, vaccinated with oral polio vaccine by health workers and bakunators. Additional polio doses can provide additional protection to your children. There is no overdose with the oral polio vaccine,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

The DOH also called on all health facilities to strengthen their Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance.

“The outbreak must be put to a halt, and we can only do this if all our health facilities are achieving the targets for all AFP surveillance indicators, and if every SPKP round, ALL of the target population are reached and vaccinated,” Mr. Duque said. — Gillian M. Cortez

Robredo welcomes 44% rating in short anti-illegal drugs post

VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor G. Robredo said the 44% satisfaction rating she got in the Social Weather Survey report as the co-chair on the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) is good news.

Masayang balita kung (It’s good news that) 44% ‘yung nag-a-agree kasi alam natin (agreed because we know) how vilified I was (as) ICAD chair,” Ms. Robredo told reporters on the sidelines of the community-based drug rehabilitation summit in Caloocan City.

According to the SWS survey of 1,200 people, 44% were satisfied with Ms. Robredo’s less than three-week stint as co-chairperson of ICAD, while 26% were dissatisfied and the remaining 30% undecided.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed Ms. Robredo to the post in November last year, but fired her after just 18 days.

She, however, said that she could have done more if she was still in the ICAD, including influencing policy and strengthening partnerships with other government agencies.

She noted that community-based drug rehabilitation program, such as the one in Caloocan, is an alternative to the drug war, which has drawn criticisms for alleged human rights violations.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace dismissed the SWS survey result.

“She was being given the rare chance of introducing other schemes that will improve the campaign against the prohibited drugs and she blew it. ‘Yan ang tingin ko doon (That is how I see it),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said on Thursday.

Mr. Panelo again defended the government’s campaign, citing that many are satisfied with the drug war and that the President also has a high satisfaction rating among majority of Filipinos. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez

Anti-graft court denies petition to re-arrest former party-list rep Valdez

THE SANDIGANBAYAN has junked for lack of merit the prosecution’s motion to have former party-list representative Edgar D. Valdez and his co-accused, businesswoman Janet L. Napoles, re-arrested in relation to their plunder case involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

The prosecution filed the motion last Nov. 18, citing that a warrant of arrest should be issued against the two given the Sandiganbayan’s denial of their demurrers to evidence.

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss the case on the ground of insufficient evidence.

The anti-graft court, in a resolution promulgated Jan. 9, said the prosecution’s motion was “bereft of merit” and cited that Mr. Valdez “correctly pointed out that there is no basis to recall the grant of bail. As correctly argued by the defense, the denial of the accused’s demurrer to evidence is merely a preliminary examination of the merits of the prosecution’s allegations.”

Mr. Valdez countered the prosecution’s motion, arguing that “the denial of the demurrer to evidence does not mean that the evidence against the accused is strong.”

The Sandiganbayan also noted that Mr. Valdez, while out on bail, has “religiously” attended the proceedings of his case.

Ms. Napoles, who has been tagged as the PDAF scam mastermind, is currently in jail for a separate plunder case relating to Senator Ramon “Bong” B. Revilla, Jr.

Lawyer Antonio G. M. La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, explained that an arrest warrant can be issued for every case, even if the accused is already imprisoned.

“He will be ‘arrested’ again but it will just be formality,” Mr. La Viña said in a text message to BusinessWorld.

Mr. Valdez, who represented the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives party-list, and Ms. Napoles are accused of violating Republic Act 7080, or the Plunder Law, for the alleged anomalous use of the former’s P57.78 million PDAF through fake non-government organizations of the latter from 2004 to 2010. — Genshen L. Espedido