‘SHOW NO MERCY’. Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte, sitting as officer-in-charge while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is on his state visit to Indonesia and Singapore, urges security officials to show no mercy against criminals and terrorists, in a sit-down meeting on Monday (Sept. 5, 2022). Duterte said that some matters were discussed during the sit-down meeting aimed at intensifying interagency linkages and actions. (PNA photo by Joseph Razon)

MANILA – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte on Monday ordered the country's security sector to "show no mercy against criminals and terrorists."

In her speech during her meeting with security officials, Duterte noted that although they have not discussed specific matters on insurgency, the security sector was clearly instructed on the treatment of law and state violators.

"We reassure each other that the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice President, and the entire government is behind all of them, sa kanilang trabaho (their job) against terrorism... That's why in our prepared statement, which was also communicated to them that there should be no mercy against terrorists and criminals," said Duterte, who was designated as the country's officer-in-charge (OIC) while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is on a state visit to Indonesia and Singapore.

She led the sit-down meeting to identify the current security status and to maintain peace and order in the country.

Duterte also assured that there is no present threat to national security, however, she mentioned the need to intensify interagency cooperation to prevent the "slowdown of national and economic aspirations" due to motivating forces against the country's progress.

"Our objective was to strengthen existing coordination and enhance interagency cooperation on issues concerning our national security and the country’s development... Our policy against criminals and terrorists and those that support and espouse their ideologies of violence should be hardline," she said.

Mandatory ROTC

Besides calling against criminality and terrorism, the country's second highest official also confirmed they have discussed pushing for the realization of mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

"Napag-usapan din po ang (We also talked about the) ROTC and ideas were exchanged with regard to ROTC, not just in Basic Education, but in Higher Education and andun 'yung mga ways forward to give meat dun sa declaration ng ating pangulo na ibalik ang (of our president to revitalize the) ROTC as a mandatory requirement for citizens," she added.

Targets to strengthen interagency linkages were also set during the meeting.

(PNA photo by Joey Razon)

"For the (Bureau of Fire Protection), we talked about how we can collaborate to train our learners. For the police, we discussed the rape case of the four teachers in Camarines Sur, at paano mapadali 'yung investigation... pagpapalabas ng warrant of arrest doon sa suspect (and how to speed up the investigation, as well as the issuance of a warrant of arrest against the suspect)," she said.

Last month, four teachers were preparing for the upcoming class reopening when an armed man entered the premises of an elementary school in Ocampo, Camarines Sur on Aug. 9 and allegedly abused them sexually in broad daylight.

The DepEd had earlier assured to assist the victims of the incident, as well as ensure security presence in schools.

Duterte said there are other matters discussed for each security department.

Among the attendees are Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Philippine National Police deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Jose Chiquito Malayo, Bureau of Fire Protection Fire Director Louie Puracan, Philippine Coast Guard commandant Adm. Artemio Abu, Philippine Air Force acting commanding general Maj. Gen. Cordura, Philippine Navy vice commander Rear Adm. Caesar Bernard Valencia, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology chief Jail Dir. Allan Iral.

Part of VP's role

Meanwhile, the country's military chief said Monday's meeting is part of the Vice President's role as the overseer of the Office of the President's operations while Marcos is on a state visit.

"Nag-invite lang siya ng lunch, kasi nga umalis nga si Presidente and she's the designated overseer ng Office of the President so pinatawag nya lang kami, siguro mangungumusta, makikibalita (She just invited us for lunch because the President is on a official trip and she's the designated overseer of the Office of the President, she called us just to just to say hello and get an update)," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro added in an interview with reporters.

Executive Secretary Victor "Vic" Rodriguez signed Special Order No. 75 designating Duterte as OIC to "take care of the day-to-day operations in the Office of the President” during Marcos' state visit.

Under the order, Duterte was also assigned to “oversee the general administration of the Executive Department."

If necessary, Duterte may "act for and on behalf of the President, except on matters that the President is required by the Constitution to act in person, during this time that the President is outside the Republic of the Philippines from 04-07 September 2022."

The order also requires all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the government to assist Duterte in the discharge of her functions as OIC. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)