President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, together with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and other government officials had a meeting yesterday, November 9, with 40 Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials who are facing corruption charges related to the so-called “pastillas scheme.”
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr described what transpired in the meeting during his press briefing in Malacañang on November 10.
“Nagkaroon po ng pagpupulong nga po. Nagpulong po ang Presidente kasama po si Secretary [of Justice] Meynard Guevarra, ang ating OIC Director ng NBI [Eric] Distor, si Executive Secretary [Salvador Medialdea], si Senator Bong Go, at kasama po nila mga kwarenta pong mga opisyal ng BI, lahat po ay nasuspinde o nakasuhan na ng Ombudsman, at tungkol nga po dito sa pastillas,” narrated Secretary Roque.
The Palace relayed that President Duterte asked one of his aides to distribute to the BI officials one pastillas each which the President asked them to “eat.” Although the Chief Executive did not insist that the BI officials actually eat the pastillas, Secretary Roque said that the action is symbolic of the President’s anger against corruption.
“Nagbigay po ng pangaral ang Presidente na talagang dapat matigil na itong korapsyon na ito…Pero I think the message has been received kase not a single person out of the 40 individuals there uttered even a single word,” said Sec. Roque.
The Cabinet official added that the President’s message on corruption is not only for the BI officials but for all government employees. “The President is sending a message. Itigil ang korapsyon at yung ginawa po niya I think lahat po ng tao ng gobyerno narinig ang mensahe… dahil talagang sa susunod na dalawang taon hindi po tatantanan ng Presidente ang mga corrupt. That is the message and that is a message that is very well received,” said Roque.
On the part of Secretary Guevarra, Roque said that the SOJ told the President that the expanded task force on corruption will continue their investigation with the BI (formerly Commission on Immigration and Deportation (CID)) since it is under the Department of Justice. Guevara also appealed to Congress to act on the proposed bill that will amend the law that created the CID because it was done during the Commonwealth Act and needs to be amended already.
On another matter, Philippine Ambassador to the United States (US) Jose Manuel Romualdez, in a pre-taped interview gave updates on anti-COVID-19 vaccine developments in the US. Ambassador Romualdez said that the Pfizer vaccine has shown 90 percent efficacy and added that Pfizer has assured that the vaccine will not be sold at an expensive price to smaller and developing countries. Romualdez further said that Pfizer’s country manager in the Philippines is already in talks with the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration with regard to the vaccines.
Meanwhile, Sec. Roque, who is concurrent spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), said that the IATF has directed the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the Department of Transportation to implement and monitor the motorcycle taxi pilot program, based on the IATF Resolution 80 that approved the resumption of the motorcycle taxi pilot study.
Because of this, the NTF released operational guidelines for motorcycle taxis that include guidelines on the accreditation of motorcycle taxi application providers, wearing of protective gears and use of own helmet with full face visor by both driver and passenger, and use of face mask by both riders.
The minimum public health standards are also required to be followed like getting of body temperature, filling out of health declaration forms, hand sanitation by both driver and passenger, frequent disinfection of all riding apparel and seats, and the use of the NTF-approved barrier between driver and passenger, among others. ### OPS-PCOO