VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo contradicts Duterte on military ‘takeover’ of customs

Read this fact check in Filipino

Defending Malacañang’s proposed military “takeover” of the customs bureau, spokesperson Salvador Panelo contradicted an earlier claim by President Rodrigo Duterte.

STATEMENT

In a press briefing Oct. 30, Panelo told reporters Duterte is not appointing military members to the Bureau of Customs:

“The president is not appointing or designating any particular member of the armed forces.”

Source: Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo, Oct. 30, 2018, Malacanang, watch from 35:19 to 35:25

FACT

Panelo’s claim runs counter to what Duterte said days prior. The president Oct. 28 explicitly said all customs officials will be replaced by members of the military:

“They will be replaced, all, all of them, by military men. It will be a takeover of the armed forces in the matter of operating in the meantime while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country.”

Source: Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Birthday/Thanksgiving party of Former SFA Alan Peter Cayetano, Oct. 28, 2018, Davao City, watch from 16:28 to 16:58

BACKSTORY

Duterte made the military “takeover” announcement after reports surfaced that some P11-billion worth of methamphetamine, locally known as shabu, slipped past the country’s ports.

The president referenced his 2016 declaration of lawlessness in Davao City:

“Remember that I have issued during the first days of my term, this is the declaration of lawlessness. Part of the lawless elements are there inside the Bureau of Customs.”

Source: Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Birthday/Thanksgiving party of Former SFA Alan Peter Cayetano, Oct. 28, 2018, Davao City, watch from 17:50 to 18:10

Duterte’s Proclamation No. 55, which has been in force since September 2016, declared “a state of emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao.”

The proclamation, though prompted by events in Mindanao, noted there are “other similar acts of violence by lawless elements in other parts of the country, including the metropolitan areas.”

Sources:

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Birthday/Thanksgiving party of Former SFA Alan Peter Cayetano, Oct. 28, 2018

Official Gazette, 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines

Official Gazette, Proclamation No. 55, s. 2016

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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