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Panelo warns vs scammers soliciting campaign funds



Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo on Friday vowed that the full force of the law will be applied against swindlers who will use his name and other individuals to solicit funds supposedly for the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in next year’s elections.

Panelo issued the warning after Mayor Sara in a video released by her office clarified that she has not given permission to anyone to solicit financial support from different organizations including from those in the business sector to back her possible bid for the presidency.

During his online program, “Counterpoint,” Panelo said since he launched his idea for a Duterte-Duterte tandem in next year’s elections, there are scrupulous individuals who took advantage of the situation by using the name of Mayor Sara to solicit money from other people in her behalf for her supposed presidential campaign.

Panelo said the public should not fall for this kind of scam because Mayor Sara has not authorized anyone to do such an activity.

“Tama ho ‘yun, susundan ho natin ‘yun. Huwag kayo… kung may gagamit ng pangalan nya tanggihan n’yo. May gagamit ng pangalan ko, sasabihin si Secretary Panelo ilulunsad ‘yung ganyan, kailangan n’ya ng ganito. Hindi, wala,” Panelo said.

Panelo said if one wants Mayor Sara to run as president and succeed her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, they should do it the right way through volunteer work.

“Kung gusto n’yo tumakbo si Mayor Sara ‘di gawin n’yo ‘yung nararapat, pero never, never, never solicit in her behalf, in her name, or under my name, or the President’s name, or anybody’s name for that matter to get money para kayo mangampanya o mag-organize, wala ho ‘yan. Pakukulong ho namin kayo maniwala kayo. We will expose you, and we will prosecute you, and put you behind bars if you do that,” Panelo reiterated.

Panelo explained that when President Duterte decided to run in the 2016 elections, he didn’t have the resources and money to do so. He even refused to accept the money being given by billionaires, only relying on the support provided by the people who encouraged him to seek the highest position in the land.

“So ano ang ginawa ng taong bayan? Sila-sila nagpagawa ng mga t-shirt, mga billboards, kung ano-ano na lang ang ginawa nila kaya nanalo. ‘Yung mga may kaya na talagang may bilib sa kanya ayun ginastusan din nila pero wala ho na gumamit ng pangalan ni Presidente nun at binubulsa nila,” Panelo said.

Mayor Sara earlier explained the funds being collected by alleged scammers will only be used for their personal interest.

She also asked the public to report the scammers to proper authorities.


What circumvention?

Meanwhile, Panelo refuted claims by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that the idea of a Duterte-Duterte tandem in 2022 elections will be a circumvention of the constitution, specifically the provision on term limits and ban on political dynasties.

During his program, Panelo insisted that there is nothing in the constitution that bans President Duterte from running as vice-president in tandem with her daughter, or any post for that matter, after serving a six-year term as president.

He said this was done by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she ran for a congressional seat in the House of Representatives in 2010, 2013 and 2016, even becoming House speaker.

“Mawalang-galang na Congressman Lagman, Congressman Edcel, the provision is that a President that has served a six-year term cannot run pero pwede kang tumakbo hindi presidente. ‘Di ba ginawa nga ni Presidente Arroyo? Tumakbo siya ng Congress, nanalo. Naging speaker pa nga eh. In other words, may precedent na,” Panelo said.

“Pangalawa, eh nakalagay din sa Saligang Batas eh na kung ikaw ay bise-presidente may nangyari sa presidente either nagkasakit, nag resign, physically incapacitated, o na-impeach, o na-disqualify, the vice president takes over. That’s a constitutional provision. Hindi naman sinasabi dun pag ikaw ay dating presidente, tumakbo ka, nanalo ka, at di na pwede ‘yung presidenteng ka-tandem mo, bawal,” he added.

Panelo previously stated during a dinner-fellowship hosted last 23 January by Bayambang, Pangasinan Mayor Cesar Quiambao that a possible team-up of Mayor Sara and President Duterte in next year’s elections has no legal impediment.

But Lagman explained that the constitutional ban against an incumbent president running for reelection after the expiration of his single six-year term is intended to prohibit the perpetuation of presidential powers in one person.

“This prohibition will be conveniently circumvented considering the ascendancy of a father over his daughter so much so that effectively a Vice President Rodrigo Duterte can continue to wield presidential powers at will,” Lagman said in a statement.

“Moreover, in the event that the projected Sara Duterte presidency is vacated by choice, fortuitous event, or impeachment, a Vice President Rodrigo Duterte would succeed as President, thereby nullifying the constitutional prohibition,” he added.

Panelo said a Duterte-Duterte tandem will be a test to the credibility and performance of this administration, as what other lawmakers stated.