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Michael V renews contract with GMA Network

Published in Entertainment


Multitalented and award-winning actor, comedian, and TV host Michael V. affirmed his commitment with GMA Network, Inc. in a contract signing held on April 4. 


Present in the contract signing were GMA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Felipe L. Gozon, GMA President and Chief Operating Officer Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr., GMA Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Felipe S. Yalong, GMA Entertainment Content Group Senior Vice President Lilybeth G. Rasonable, GMA Senior Assistant Vice President for Business Development Department II Janine Piad-Nacar, Senior Program Manager Bang Arespacochaga, Program Managers Cecille de Guzman, Mildred Natividad and Enri Calaycay and Bitoy’s wife and manager Carolina Bunagan.


Bitoy hosts the longest-running comedy gag show, Bubble Gang, and stars in the award-winning family sitcom, Pepito Manaloto. He is also the host of the celebrity competition Lip Sync Battle Philippines. 


The comedian, who has been a loyal Kapuso for more than two decades, revealed that he is happy to renew his contract with the network. 


“Twenty-three years na ako sa GMA. Mahirap kasing magpasaya kung hindi ka masaya. So masaya ako dito sa GMA dahil nagagawa ko yung gusto ko, napagbibigyan yung mga hiling ko at yung kagustuhan kong magpasaya ay sinusuportahan nila. That’s what really makes me happy,” Bitoy said.


He shared that he owes his success to all his fans and loyal viewers who have been continuously supporting his shows. Bubble Gang is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year while Pepito Manaloto is now on its 9th year and Lip Sync Battle Philippines returns on its 3rd season.   

Photo: Philippine Star 


QUEZON CITY — Alleged pork barrel fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles will remain in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.


This as the Sandiganbayan has denied the petition of Napoles to transfer her to a government safehouse.


Napoles had been placed by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II under provisional protection as state witness in the pork barrel fund scam.


The Sandiganbayan found strong evidence against Napoles to hold her for trial in connection with the multi-billion-peso scam.


Meanwhile, newly-appointed ad interim secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Menardo Guevarra will give top priority to review the controversial drug case involving Cebu businessman Peter Lim and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and Janet Lim Napoles.


Guevarra said he will also make priority to review the decision of his predecessor, Vitaliano Aguirre II, to place alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles under provisional coverage of the Witness Protection Program (WPP).


“I will give top priority to a review of recent DOJ actions on Kerwin Espinosa and Napoles. I will reserve any judgment though till I have thoroughly studied the matter,” Guevarra said.


In a four-page ruling, the First Division pointed out that Napoles is “presently under detention for a lawful case.”


The anti-graft court has already denied her bail petition in connection with the P224.5-million plunder case of former Senator Bong Revilla.


The resolution stressed that her protective custody under the witness protection program would be “contrary to the clear and express import” of Article XI, Section 1 of the 2012 implementing rules and regulations of the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.


The provision reads: “The Program shall not take into protective custody a witness who is under detention for any lawful cause. However, it shall direct the custodian of the witness to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of the witness.”


“Notably, the said provision does not admit of any exception. Verily, the denial of the instant motion is warranted under the premises,” it added.


The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Efren N. de la Cruz and concurred in by Associate Justices Geraldine Faith A. Econg and Edgardo M. Caldona.


In her previous request for transfer of custody, Napoles cited the Department of Justice’s February 27 approval of her provisional admission into the Witness Protection Program.


Napoles also said she wanted to be in a secure facility because of the intimidation and threats to her life inside the detention cell at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.


Napoles has pending plunder and graft cases before the other divisions (Third and Fifth) of the Sandiganbayan.


As of press time, the Third and Fifth Divisions, which handle the P172.8-million and P183.8-million plunder cases of former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, have yet to issue their resolutions on Napoles’ motion.

Megan and Mikael headed to the altar?

Published in Entertainment

Photo from Instagram | @meganbata


Are Megan Young, now 28, and boyfriend Mikael Daez, 30, headed to the altar soon?


Fans are asking as Megan and Mikael have been partners for seven years now.


While the two admitted their relationship is going strong, they still have no wedding plans.


“As of now, wala pa talaga. Basta at this point, masaya kami, kuntento kami sa isa’t isa, but we’re not ready to start our own family yet. Mag-iipon muna kami bago 'yan,” said the beauty queen turned actress and television host.


 What’s the secret of their strong relationship?


They have a ready answer, according to columnist Mario Bautista. “I think it’s because we always keep our communication lines open,” Megan said.


“When he does something na hindi ko nagustuhan, I’m not afraid to approach him and tell him about it. Ganun din naman siya sa’kin. For me, good communication talaga is the key to make a relationship work well,” she added.


Megan said she’s also thankful that they help each other grow. “He’s the kind of person who’s dedicated in everything he does, be it in his businesses, in acting or in hosting. I like the energy he gives as he always gives his 100 percent of himself and that inspires me a lot to also give my very best,” she revealed.


Doesn’t she get jealous when Mikael has kissing or romantic scenes with their co-star Katrina Halili in “The Stepdaughters”?


Columnist Mario Bautista quoted her answer: “Ever since naman, hindi ako selosa. Kahit noong magka-love team sila ni Andrea Torres. I know part ng trabaho namin 'yun as actors so okay lang. At saka we always reassure each other na kami lang ang para sa isa’t isa. Walang iba. We might do these scenes sa mga katrabaho namin, but in the end, ikaw pa rin, walang iba.”


Meantime, their hit afternoon drama, “The Stepdaughters”, gets more intense in its new episodes especially after Megan as Mayumi gets a special gift from Gary Estrada as Hernan. It will be recalled that Gary's character and his family only became rich after they claimed the winning ticket that actually belonged to Megan’s late dad, Allan Paule. Now that Gary and her mom, Glydel Mercado as Luisa, have gotten married, Gary wants to make up for what he did and gives Megan the book that her dad meant to give her before he died. Gary also gives her a brand-new car.


 Gary’s own daughter, Katrina Halili as Isabelle, won’t take this sitting down and will continue to be hostile and combative when it comes to treating her stepsister Megan. “Tuloy ang iringan at awayan namin ni Katrina rito,” says Megan. “Mas titindi pa kahit ginagawa ng parents namin ang lahat para mapagbati kami at maging maganda ang pagsasama namin as their stepdaughters. Hinding-hindi patatalbog ang bawat isa lalo na sa pag-aagawan namin sa atensiyon ni Mikael as Francis.”


Published in Headline

SC chief in fighting form as SolGen files petition to oust her, impeachment readied



(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)


MANILA — As the House of Representatives Committee on Justice readies its verdict on whether or not there is probable cause to elevate an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to the Senate acting as Impeachment Tribunal, the clamor to remove her from office went stronger as the Office of the Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to void Sereno's appointment in a quo warranto petition.


But the Chief Justice remained in fighting form saying she is ready to face trial and disprove all allegations against her before the Senate, which is the only body or institution that can remove her from office via two-thirds vote of all its members. She said she will not back down in her fight for truth and justice.


In Baguio City, Sereno stressed she will not resign and would rather be given a day in the Senate impeachment court to see if there is probable cause to impeach her.


“That is what I am consistently saying to those who have asked me to resign. I do not owe anyone the duty to resign. I owe the people the duty to tell my story,” Sereno said in her speech delivered on the “Road to Judicial Reform” before law students, officials, and faculty members of the University of Baguio and some regional and municipal judges in the Cordillera region.


Sereno called on the public to "respect the impeachment process" by taking the "only allowable course under the Constitution”.


"What will happen next is critically important to our democracy,” she said. “The only constitutionally acceptable manner allowed for handing the impeachment proceeding in the House is for it to vote on the question of probable cause in a timely manner and not to drag it further nor couple it with calls for extra-constitutional help to facilitate the ouster of the chief justice.”


She added it is not within the bounds of the law for the "Supreme Court to do the job of the Senate and oust the Chief Justice whether by an internal action or by an action of the Solicitor General”.


“And it is not and it should not be the House delaying what is already an agonizing and long proceeding,” she added. "Either the House has found probable cause or if they have, the House must immediately elevate it to the Senate and not delay.”


She said the proponents of her impeachment must bring the case to the Senate if they are so sure of their evidence.


Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Justice, meanwhile, called on Sereno to resign to spare the nation of a gruelling impeachment trial.


The camp of Chief Justice Sereno, at the same time, admitted that she will certainly be impeached by the House of Representatives, but said she was treated unfairly during the hearing of the impeachment complaint filed against her.


Sereno’s spokesperson Josa Deinla acknowledged that the chief magistrate’s impeachment in the House was forthcoming.


“She was denied of her constitutional rights under the Constitution. So in the end, we see that she will be impeached,” Deinla said.


Umali said the quo warranto petition filed by the Solicitor General against Sereno will not affect the impeachment case filed against her before the House justice committee, adding the quo warranto proceeding differs in jurisdiction with that of an impeachment proceeding.


"Iba yung jurisdiction ng quo warranto (A quo warranto has a different jurisdiction). Quo warranto presumes that the appointed official is not qualified to be appointed or was not qualified to be appointed. (It involves the) issue of qualification that is not covered by impeachment," Umali said.


Quo warranto is a legal proceeding which is used to challenge a person's legal right to hold public office; meanwhile, an impeachment is the process of charging a high public official on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, or other high crimes.


"Impeachment presupposes a valid appointment while quo warranto questions the qualifications of an officer and that is well within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court," Umali said.


He said if Sereno's appointment would be deemed invalid, it will "render the impeachment proceedings functus officio, mooted."


Umali said until the high court invalidates Sereno's appointment, it is still considered valid. Thus, both quo warranto and impeachment proceedings can "proceed simultaneously."

But Senate leaders warned against the legal consequences of the quo warranto petition.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said such move, if entertained and acted favorably by the high tribunal, will open the same process to other impeachable officials, including the President. Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III acceded to the assertions of his colleague adding it will “also weaken the Senate in the process.”.

Members of the political opposition at the House of Representatives accused the Duterte administration of resorting to extra constitutional means such as the quo warranto petition to remove Sereno.


This developed after 13 Supreme Court associate justices clarified that they had forced Sereno to go on an “indefinite leave” to spare and preserve the integrity of the High Court and to insulate it from politics and the effects of an impeachment trial.


Sereno earlier said she was to go on a 15-day “wellness leave” but had to retract her statement and that of her lawyers and apologized for “misleading information” and the confusion that had ensued with her statement.


The 13 associate justices issued an unprecedented joint statement clarifying that the Chief Justice was taking an indefinite and not a “wellness” leave.


Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said the action of the justices was not a mutiny but an act to “preserve the integrity” of the SC and insulate the High Court from the effects of the politics of an imminent impeachment trial.

The sole function of the statement, Carpio said, was to show the SC is “functioning normally” while Sereno goes on leave.


Carpio said that Sereno herself had agreed to the suggestion that she takes an indefinite leave of absence.


The statement was signed by Carpio, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado 


Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic L eonen, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Noel Gimenez Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo. Only Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa did not sign the letter because he was on leave.


 In his petition, Solicitor General Jose Calida said Sereno is "unlawfully holding" her post due to her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth and file complete statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN). The petition also cited the chief justice for "usurpation of a public office."

According to the Solicitor General's petition, Sereno failed to declare her wealth in full during 17 years out of her 28-year teaching stint at the University of the Philippines College of Law.


From 1986 to 2006, Sereno's Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) on record only covered 1998, 2002, and 2006.


Public officials are required under the law to file SALNs.


"The blatant disregard by respondent Sereno to comply with the requirements of the law and Constitution proves her lack of integrity,"  Calida said.


"Hence, she is unlawfully holding the position of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court," he added.


When Sereno applied for chief justice in 2012, the mandatory submission of SALNs for a period of 10 years was a requirement instituted by the Judicial and Bar Council, the body that screens and shortlists applicants for the judiciary, according to the OSG.


For failing to meet the SALN requirements, Sereno failed to meet the constitutional requirement of "competence, integrity, probity, and independence" for officials of the judiciary, the OSG said.

Acting on the petition, the Supreme Court ordered the Chief Justice to answer the Office of the Solicitor General's (OSG) petition seeking to void her appointment as it junked another petition filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano that sought to also remove her from office. 


Sereno was given 10 days to comment on the OSG's petition for "quo warranto" which alleged that she is "unlawfully holding" her post due to her supposed failure to fully disclose her wealth.


"The court, without giving due course to the petition, requires the respondent to submit her comment on the petition for 'quo warranto' within a period of 10 days from receipt of notice," said Theodore Te, spokesperson of the Supreme Court.


Te added that Associate Justice Marvic Leonen dissented and expressed his opinion that the petition for "quo warranto" against the Chief Justice should be “dismissed outright.”


At the same time, the High Court also junked a petition filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano, which sought to invalidate the chief magistrate's appointment.


Lozano’s petition was not a quo warranto. While it claimed Sereno did not comply with mandatory legal requirements for the top magistrate's post, it did not cite what requirements Sereno had failed to comply with.


Instead, Lozano invoked the high court’s “inherent and plenary powers” in seeking Sereno’s ouster “motu proprio.” 


Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2012 by then president Benigno Aquino III following the ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was removed for undeclared wealth.


The country's first female chief justice was expected to stay in her post until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2030.


The quo warranto petition, according to Solicitor General Jose Calida, is the proper petition because Sereno is “unlawfully” holding her current position.

“The blatant disregard by respondent Sereno to comply with the requirements of the law and Constitution proves her lack of integrity, hence she is unlawfully holding the position as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” Calida said.


The House committee on justice is set to vote on Thursday, March 8, to determine if there is probable cause for the impeachment complaint. 


In a 34-page petition for quo warranto, Solicitor General Jose Calida seeks SC to declare Sereno’s appointment on August 24, 2012 as Chief Justice as void and oust her from the judiciary's top post.


The petition emanated from a letter filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari, urging Calida to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against the top magistrate.


Last Feb. 21, Mallari, who called Sereno a "de facto chief justice", asked the OSG to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against her.


Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto proceeding is an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds a public office or holds a position where he or she is not qualified.


Calida insisted that a quo warranto proceeding is a "proper remedy to question the validity of Sereno’s appointment."


“Petition for Quo Warranto at the Supreme Court where you will be judged by your peers who know you and the Constitution better,” Calida said in a press conference.


Sereno's camp has earlier dismissed Mallari's petition, insisting that an impeachment is the only way to oust the chief magistrate.


But the Solicitor General argued that an impeachment proceeding is different from a quo warranto proceeding.


“Your lawyer-spokepersons argued before media that there is only one option to oust an impeachable officer and that is through impeachment. They are horribly wrong. A lawyer who has a basic grasp of our Constitution and jurisprudence ought to know that Impeachment and Quo Warranto are two entirely different proceedings with entirely different grounds for filing,” he explained.


Calida said that these two proceedings run on different tracks.


The top government counsel said the first track is Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution which provides that impeachable officers may be removed from office on impeachment and conviction of culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or betrayal of public trust. The unwritten assumption here is that the officer was eligible and that his assumption of office was valid. That is not our route in the Sereno case.


The second track is Quo Warranto. This is the proper remedy to question the validity of Sereno’s appointment. Quo Warranto is recognized as an extraordinary legal remedy sanctioned not only by the Rules of Court, law and jurisprudence but by the Constitution itself whereby the State challenges a person to show by what authority he holds a public office or exercises a public franchise.


Calida also said that constitutional basis for ousting Sereno from her office are the following:


Section 5 (1), Article VIII of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to exercise original jurisdiction over Quo Warranto cases, among others.


Section 7 (3) Article VIII of the Constitution insists that a Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence. Unfortunately for respondent Sereno she flunked the test of integrity when she failed to file more or less 10 SALNs.


Section 17, Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) requires the submission of SALNs as often as maybe required by law (RA 3109). The blatant disregard by respondent Sereno to comply with the requirements of the law and Constitution proves her lack of integrity hence, she is unlawfully holding the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.


Calida also said that his filing of a quo warranto proceeding against Sereno is "an act of kindness."


“I don’t expect you to appreciate this but believe me, this is an act of kindness to a fellow lawyer,” he said.


"The Office of the Solicitor General will not allow you to undergo the indignity that the late Chief Justice Renato Corona suffered at the hands of politicians who unjustly convicted him. You do not deserve that," Calida said.


Sereno will also be given a chance to answer the allegations against her, Calida added.


Sereno is facing an impeachment trial for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.


Asked if he will ask for a halt order on the proceeding at the House of Representatives, Calida insisted that the quo warranto proceeding is different from the impeachment.


"They can proceed with their impeachment. Insofar as we are concerned, proper remedy is quo warranto," Calida told reporters.


Sereno's camp urged the SC to dismiss the quo warranto petition, noting that it has no legal basis.


“The Supreme Court ought not to entertain the quo warranto petition for it has absolutely no basis in law and in the Constitution. The high tribunal should dismiss the petition outright on the basis that quo warranto is not a proper remedy. Under the 1987 Constitution, the Chief Justice may only be removed from office upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court,” Sereno said in a statement sent to reporters covering Supreme Court.


“We wish to reiterate that this latest action by the Solicitor General is part and parcel of the grand plan to harass, malign and humiliate the Chief Justice to force her to resign because her detractors know that the impeachment case, which was built on lies, won’t stand a chance in the Senate,” according to the statement.


Sereno also called the OSG's move a 'cruel act' towards the Filipino people, stressing that she is ready to face trial and disprove all allegations against her before the Senate, which is the only body or institution that can remove her from office via two-thirds vote of all its members.


The Chief Justice's camp also said the instant action for quo warranto against her is devoid of basis, not to mention that the one-year prescriptive period for filing such action has long prescribed pursuant to Section 11 of Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.


They also explained the Supreme Court, guided by its pronouncements in Jarque v. Ombudsman, In Re: Raul M. Gonzales and Cuenco v. Fernan, had laid down the rule that an impeachable officer, who is a member of the Bar, cannot be disbarred without first being impeached. The same principle applies to the quo warranto case filed against the Chief Justice. As pointed out in Cuenco v. Fernan, to grant a complaint for disbarment of a member of the Supreme Court—particularly then Associate Justice Marcelo Fernan, who later became Chief Justice— during his incumbency, would in effect be to circumvent and hence to run afoul of the constitutional mandate that members of the Court may be removed from office only by impeachment for and conviction of certain offenses listed in Article XI (2) of the Constitution.


The 1987 Constitution is crystal clear: it explicitly states that (1) an impeachable official can only be removed from office by impeachment; (2) that the sole power to impeach an official belongs to the House of Representatives; and (3) the sole court for impeachment trials is the Senate. Any attempt to remove the Chief Justice that does not fall under these parameters is patently unconstitutional. All attempts to unseat the Chief Justice via extra-constitutional means make a mockery of the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives and, subsequently, the impeachment trial in the Senate.


Art. XI Section 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment. 


Sereno is facing an impeachment trial for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.


The complaint was filed by lawyer Larry Gadon who claimed that Sereno did not declare in her SALN the “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” of US$745,000 or P37 million which she received from the Philippine government.


The impeachment complainant said the issue of SALN declaration is the strongest case presented against Sereno.


The complaint also alleged that Sereno committed corruption when she, among other things, used public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017 model as her personal vehicle, amounting to more than PHP5 million; and stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the country and abroad. 

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