Senators weigh in on Santiago ouster » Manila Bulletin News

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By Hannah L. Torregoza

Some senators on Wednesday weighed in on President Duterte’s decision to let go of Dionisio Santiago as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) but said they recognize his criticisms on the construction of the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief general Dionisio Santiago gives his opinion during the weekly morning forum at the Luneta Hotel in Kalaw Avenue, Manila yesterday. (JOHN JEROME GANZON)

Santiago quit the DDB after he was asked by the President through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, to leave the post.

According to Santiago, the President was displeased with his position that the rehab center was a “mistake” and an “impractical solution” to the drug menace, and admitted he was hurt by Duterte’s decision.

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Gregorio Honasan II said the President has the right to exercise his prerogative to appoint government officials.

“Santiago held his position on the basis of the confidence of the President on him, and the President has expressed no confidence in him and that’s a prerogative of the President insofar as that particular issue is concerned,” Drilon told reporters.

“And if the President has lost confidence for the reasons known only to the President then that is the situation,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said he still believes that the facility can be put to optimum use.

Sotto said that aside from being just a drug rehab facility, it can also serve as the country’s mega drug enforcement academy.

He said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agent (PDEA) can oversee it, as it can be made as an extension of the present PDEA academy.

“With that size, we could produce a thousand agents per batch. Alongside PDEA, other agencies such as Bureau of Customs (BOC), Immigration, Philippine National Police (PNP), and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can avail of the drug interdiction training program,” Sotto said.

“Infrastructure development on land specially as a gift is always acknowledged, an Asian cultural trait!” Sotto pointed out.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he respects the President’s decision, but he did not shy away from also questioning the creation of the facility.

“They said it’s private money but I don’t know if it’s government land. I supposed it’s government land. Ten thousand bed capacity… ilan ang nandun ngayon? Four hundred lang, eh di parang may mali nga. Hindi nagagamit ng tama),” Recto said.

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