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AS RELEASE OF FINDINGS DEFERRED AMID DAVAO DEL SUR QUAKES

‘Walang malasakit’: Panelo hit for ‘taunting’ Robredo on drug war report

/ 05:40 PM December 16, 2019

This combination photo shows Atty. Barry Gutierrez and Atty. Salvador Panelo, spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte, respectively. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesman chided President Rodrigo Duterte’s mouthpiece for “obviously taunting” the vice president after she decided to defer the release of her drug war findings on Monday.

Robredo decided to push aside releasing her drug war report as she prioritized the giving of aid to quake-stricken residents of Davao del Sur.

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“Sec. Panelo was obviously taunting the VP. And given the VP’s clear and candid statement that she was choosing to focus on providing help for those affected by the earthquake in Davao instead of pushing through with her ICAD report, his taunt is particularly ill-timed and insensitive,” Atty. Barry Gutierrez told INQUIRER.net in a text message Monday afternoon.

According to Gutierrez, Panelo’s attitude towards the Vice President’s decision shows his lack of empathy to the situation of residents affected by the powerful earthquake, which struck Davao del Sur on Sunday afternoon.

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Gutierrez said he does not know what Panelo’s priorities and feelings are, but the Office of the Vice President (OVP) believes the welfare of the people in Davao del Sur and other areas rocked by the 6.9-magnitude tremor should come first.

“Kung hindi naiintindihan ni Secretary Panelo kung bakit ipinagpaubaya ng ating Bise Presidente ang pag-release ng report ngayong umaga, pagkatapos noong lindol na nangyari kahapon, siguro totoong wala siyang puso at malasakit para sa ating mga kababayan,” Gutierrez told reporters earlier Monday.

(If Secretary Panelo really does understand why the Vice President chose to defer the release of the report this morning, after the earthquakes yesterday, maybe he really has no heart and empathy for our countrymen.)

“So, kung hindi niya naiintindihan kung bakit hindi dapat tayo muna magsalita tungkol sa ibang bagay at ilagay ang ating buong atensyon dito sa napaka-importanteng isyu ng pagtulong, ewan ko na lang kung ano ba talaga ang kaniyang binibitbit sa kaniyang puso,” he added.

(So, if he does not understand why we should not speak about other things for the meantime and instead put our attention to this important issue, I really do not know what he carries in his heart.)

Gutierrez stressed that the situation in the country’s southern region calls for unity among opposing groups rather than making statements intended to lift a party’s political status.

“Ang linaw-linaw naman ngayon na ito ay panahon para tayo ay magtulungan. Ito ay panahon para tayo ay tumutok doon sa pagtulong sa ating mga kapatid na naapektuhan ng isang nakapalaking trahedya. Sa mga balitang lumalabas, patuloy pa rin iyong mga aftershocks […] Hindi pa labas at tapos ang panganib doon sa ating mga kababayan,” he pointed out.

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(It is clear that this is a time for us to help each other. This is a time for us to focus on helping our countrymen affected by this tragedy.  According to the news, the areas are still experiencing aftershocks, which means that our countrymen in the affected areas are not yet out of danger.)

“Para yatang hindi naman tama na imbes na makiisa siya sa ating Bise Presidente ay tila parang mangungutya pa at gagawin pang okasyon para mag-score ng mga political points, ganoong nasa gitna tayo ng ganitong klaseng trahedya,” he noted.

(It seems not right, that instead of working with the Vice President, they are still picking on her and making the deferment a chance to score political points, while we are in the midst of a tragedy.)

In a press briefing shortly after Robredo decided to suspend the publication of her report, Panelo raised doubts on why it is taking so long for the Vice President to release her findings of the Duterte administration’s drug war.  He even made a conjecture that maybe Robredo really has nothing in her hands, thus, finding it difficult to report anything.

“What’s taking her so long? As the President said, ‘Bring it on, whatever you want to come out with’,” Panelo said.  “It’s really difficult if you have nothing to release and still thinking of what to release. Then it will really take time.”

This is the first time that Robredo deferred the release of her report, which stemmed from her less than 20 days stint as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD). She deliberately let the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to end before setting the date of her public report.

She also accomplished a series of anti-poverty programs and talks in Mindanao after the SEA Games.

Earlier Monday, Robredo also said she can opt to release her findings before Christmas instead although she noted that it would still depend on the status of Mindanao residents affected by the quake. She nevertheless divulged that the report is already complete, even showing a copy of the file she was supposed to make public on Monday.

For now, however, Robredo said OVP teams have been urgently sent to the affected Mindanao areas to assess the needs of the people.  She likewise said that affected residents so far need tents and clean drinking water.

To recall, Robredo accepted Duterte’s designation of her as an ICAD co-chair last November 6. But 19 days later, Duterte fired Robredo from that post for lack of trust to the opposition leader. Duterte noted that Robredo made the wrong move of talking about the drug war with organizations that he deemed enemies of the state for criticizing his brand of war on drugs.

Robredo vowed to share her findings of the drug war after she got the ax. Both the critics and supporters of Robredo eagerly anticipate her report.

Edited by KGA
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TAGS: Barry Gutierrez, Davao del Sur, Drug war, Earthquake, ICAD, Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, Office of the Vice President, OVP, Philippine news updates, Salvador Panelo, Vice President Leni Robredo
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