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(Photo from Rappler)

 

TAGUIG CITY  A resident of Taguig City has filed a petition at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking to cancel or deny due course to the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Senator Juliana Pilar "Pia" Cayetano for congresswoman of the city.

 

The petitioner, Donna Sionomio, said the Comelec should cancel Cayetano’s COC for her congressional bid in the second district of Taguig City in the May 2016 polls for allegedly committing “material misrepresentation.”

 

In her petition, Sionomo claimed that Cayetano, who is finishing her term as senator, is not a resident at Two Serendra, Fort Bonifacio and not a registered voter of Barangay Fort Bonifacio.

 

“Respondent Cayetano is not a resident of 352-A, Phase 1A, Two Serendra, 11th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The truth is respondent Cayetano is a resident of No. 306, Agno St., Ayala Alabang Village, Alabang, Muntinlupa City,” the petition stated.

 

In fact, “as of July 20, 2015, respondent Cayetano was still a registered voter of Precinct No. 145-A, Bagumbayan, Taguig City,” the petition stated.


The petitioner said a further verification from the Office of the Election Officer will confirm that as of July 6, 2015, respondent Cayetano has not applied for transfer of registration as a voter of Barangay Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.


Sionomo also cited the information sheet from the office of Cayetano, where the latter confirmed her residence to be at No. 306, Agno St. Ayala Alabang Village, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.


“The truth is, Unit 352A, Two Serendra, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City is the residence of her brother, Lino S. Cayetano who is the incumbent Member, House of Representatives in the Second Legislative District of Taguig City,” according to the petition.


“Thus, due to the material misrepresentations of respondent Cayetano in her COC, as provided under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, in relation to Section 74 thereof; the COC of respondent Cayetano must be cancelled,” the petitioner added.

 

DOJ junks raps vs. Iglesia ni Cristo leaders

Published in Latest News

(Photo from veritas846.ph)

 

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the two criminal complaints filed against the officialdom of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) for lack of sufficient basis and evidence.

 

In two separate resolutions, the DOJ panel of prosecutors has recommended the dismissal of the complaints filed by Isaias Samson and Lito Fruto against the Sanggunian of the INC.


According to the DOJ, the camp of Samson failed to prove his accusations of grave coercion and illegal detention against the INC.


The DOJ said that the complainant failed to present evidence that he suffered physical harm, threats, violence and intimidation from the Sanggunian INC when his passport, service vehicle, laptop, cellphone and other personal belongings were confiscated, as well as the alleged forcible entry into his residence.


Aside from the case of Samson, the DOJ also found no probable cause in the complaint of Fruto against the INC for alleged illegal arrest, arbitrary detention and violation of abode.


The DOJ also dismissed Fruto's complaint of robbery since he was not in his place of residence when the alleged robbery took place.


The resolutions were signed and approved by Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano.


The panel that investigated the cases was headed by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva and its members are Assistant State Prosecutors Olivia Torevillas and Mark Roland Estepa.

When airport security officers detain a passenger because they find a bullet that has been converted into an amulet on grounds that possessing a bullet is a crime - they are not exercising common sense but are either exhibiting moronic tendencies or are simply looking for a convenient way to extort money from the helpless passenger. Even if say they found five bullets in a passengers' luggage but no gun, it makes no sense to make a big deal out of that. Bullets without guns cannot really harm anyone. 

 

Truthful common sense answers to the questions below provide  the public a  thorough understanding of the  "Tanim Bala" ("Planting bullets") scam.

 

Q. What is this scam about?

 

A. It's about various airport personnel involved in conspiring in planting bullets in outgoing passengers' luggages and then accusing  them of violating the law. They isolate  victims in a room, scare them with threats of: Filing serious charges against them; Detaining them indefinitely; Preventing them from boarding their planes which are about to depart. It then becomes so easy to  extort money from them - the amount depends on how much money the passenger is carrying.

 

Q. Why is the victim so helpless?

 

A. Because he (or she) is isolated in a room surrounded by individuals with guns. He is prevented from communicating with anyone. He cannot reason with them even if he keeps denying that he placed  bullets there.  Of course, they already know that as they were the ones who planted the bullets there. Their end goal is  just to extort money from him.  If he  becomes belligerent, they could beat him up and claim that he was resisting arrest and even plant illegal drugs in his luggage.

 

Q. Why is the victim so intimidated?

 

A. Because he knows that he can in fact be charged with a crime and possibly be banned from leaving the Philippines. And if he is prevented from boarding his plane which is about to leave, he likely will also lose his job overseas if he is not able to return to work at the expected date.

 

Q. What therefore is he likely to do?

 

A. What else can he do except fork over the money they are demanding which they find in his person or his luggage in exchange for their leniency and what he believes - is their sympathy. In his confusion, he often does not suspect that those interrogating him are part of a scam.

 

Q. Is he likely to complain when he realizes that he was victimized and gets to his destination?

 

A. Very unlikely. He does not even know the identity of those persons involved. He does not even know who to complain to. And how will he prove his case? He has no witnesses. Some victims are even grateful to the interrogators when they  let them go - not knowing that they are part of a syndicate scamming outgoing passengers.

 

Q. How many outgoing passengers have been victimized?

 

A. We may never know because victims are not likely to complain. They've already left the Philippines and just want to forget the sorry experience.

 

Q. What is the main purpose of pre-flight screening and search of passengers and their luggages?

 

A. The main purpose is to protect the security and safety of passengers from terrorists or lunatics. The screeners' purpose is to look for dangerous weapons or explosives.

 

Q. Without guns, can bullets pose any danger?

 

A. Bullets without guns are not dangerous unlike guns without bullets which canstill  be used to intimidate as people would not know if they are loaded. Its  justifiable to detain and question a passenger with a gun found  in his luggage. But obviously, one can easily conclude that a few bullets found in a passenger's luggage but without guns are absolutely harmless.

 

Q. Why therefore do airport security personnel detain and hassle passengers found with bullets sometimes  including those with bullets which have been converted into amulets which clearly pose no danger?

 

A. The scammers or extortionists are really not concerned about safety or security issues. They know that bullets without guns are harmless. And bullets converted into amulets are no longer bullets but relegated to the status of  good luck charms. But they still cite the law that says possession of bullets by itself is a crime and prohibited. So they conveniently use this law to carry out their extortion scam. They plant one or more bullets  in the luggage of passengers. And for those actually caught with bullet amulets or a few bullets which they forgot to remove  from their luggage - the more they are  hassled and victimized.

 

Q. What's the intelligent thing to do if passengers are caught with amulet bullets or a few bullets?

 

If the screeners and their law enforcement support are acting in good faith in being mainly focused on looking after the safety and security of passengers, all they have to do is confiscate the bullets and let the passenger with the few bullets go. Having a few harmless bullets in one's luggage  is referred to in law as a de minimis  situation. That is, it's no big deal. There is no threat of harm to anyone nor is there any serious criminal act involved.

 

Q. News  of this planting bullets scam in Philippine airports victimizing innocent passengers has gone viral worldwide which has given the country a bad image and the continuous loss of significant income for the tourism industry. It gives the impression that its  not more fun in the Philippines. The bleeding has got to stop.  What should the government do?

 

A. This scam is actually happening, victimizing mostly overseas Filipinos who contribute so much to the country's  well being and economy with their sacrifices. The country's image and tourism industry are also drastically affected. Government officials should stop being so defensive and recognize that this is a real and  serious problem. Some Administration officials are even claiming that this problem was instigated by opposition groups as elections are just around the corner. The government should immediately determine  effective ways to stop this scam, arrest perpetrators and announce to the world that effective measures have been put in place.

 

Q. What has the government done so far?

 

A. The government has announced that serious investigations are taking place and that they are studying the problem. A certain number of screeners and other airport personnel have been laid off as a preventive measure. More cameras will supposedly be installed. Watchers watching the screeners and other airport personnel will also be stationed.

 

Q. Can  the lawyers from the Public Attorney's Office and those from the private sectors who volunteered to help the victims really help?

 

A. Of course, it's good to have well intentioned  lawyers who are willing to help. However, the reality of the fact situation involved when a passenger is accused of having bullets in his luggage is that he is taken inside a room and isolated from communicating with anybody. I don't expect the airport law enforcement extortionists to show eagerness in reading him his Miranda rights as to his right to a lawyer and his right to remain silent. Instead, they will be telling him that having a bullet or bullets in his luggage - even a bullet which has been converted into an amulet - is a serious charge and could land him in jail for years. They also will be threatening to detain him indefinitely  and he knows that would mean  missing his flight and his job overseas. But they will also  tell him that they are just carrying out the law and want to sympathize with him.  Their purpose is plain and simple: To scare and coerce him to give them money and after that to release him just in time for him to board his plane.

 

The helpless victim, while very resentful, then feels that he was fortunate enough and even grateful  that he was able to board his plane and leave. He has no idea how the bullet or bullets got into his luggage.

 

It is only if he refuses to pay and is detained and charges filed against him - can he then subsequently utilize the services of the PAO and volunteer lawyers. But he still pays the heavy price. He misses his flight, probably loses his job, subjected to more investigations, attends court hearings and faces other hassles and inconveniences  - as the result of being a victim of this scam.

 

Q. What is the simplest, cheapest, most effective way to stop this scam,  protect innocent outgoing passengers and rectify the nation's bad image that was projected by "Tanim Bala"?

 

A. "Prosecutorial Discretion" is a very important procedural  principle in criminal law and immigration law. Essentially, it is the broad discretionary power given to government  prosecutors to proceed or not to proceed in prosecuting cases or to lessen the charges that are filed. While I acquired my law degree in the U.S. and all of my professional life as a practicing California lawyer has been in the U.S. - I know that Philippine government prosecutors referred to as "Fiscals" also have this broad prosecutorial discretionary powers. The head of all prosecutors in the Philippines is the Secretary of the Department of Department of Justice. Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa is currently the newly appointed Secretary. He is part of the Executive Branch of Government and his immediate boss is President Benigno "PNoy"  Aquino III. The  President can order  Department Heads to follow a certain policy if these orders serve the public interests and is  consistent with  legal principles.

 

Unlike in the U.S., in the Philippines, this principle of Prosecutorial Discretion is generally not utilized by the Department of Justice or the Bureau of Immigration or other agencies as a useful tool for creating general public policy that serves the interests of its citizens.

 

In the U.S., the Attorney Generals of various States, the Head of the US Federal Department of Justice, the Head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Head of other agencies - and even the U.S. President - have repeatedly utilized this principle of "Prosecutorial Discretion" in order to: Create policies that make sense; Protect citizens from indiscriminate non-judicious application of the law; Implement humanitarian considerations; Utilize limited government resources for more important priorities.

 

For example, in some states, mere possession of Marijuana is a crime. But the Attorney Generals of some of these        states utilizing the principle of Prosecutorial Discretion - have issued general directives to prosecutors and law enforcement personnel that simple possession for medical or recreational purposes and not for sale - will no longer be prosecuted. Not only did this judicious  exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion kept many good citizens from: being arrested, getting jail time, having criminal records, spending money for lawyers and facing other hassles - it also saved a lot of money for these states and freed prosecutors to  utilize  their time on more serious crimes.

 

On the basis of Prosecutorial Discretion, the Head of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also issued general directives to prosecutors and agents not to proceed to arrest or deport undocumented immigrants when obvious humanitarian considerations are present - but to prioritize the use of  limited government resources to go after criminal aliens.

 

US  Attorney General Eric Holder also used this principle of Prosecutorial Discretion when he announced that the U.S. government will no longer proceed to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) federal law which limited marriages to those with opposite sexes. This eventually led to the US Supreme Court declaring same sex marriages as legal.

 

With all due respect to  President Benigno Aquino III and Secretary of Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, please allow me to suggest utilizing this principle of Prosecutorial Discretion to immediately stop this "Tanim Bala" scam. I do not wish to give the impression that I am a "know it all" U.S. Fil-Am lawyer dictating to Philippine officials what to do. I am simply humbly wanting to help my  fellow human beings - that is,  keeping  innocent outgoing passengers from being hassled and victimized. I also want  to remedy the bad global image that this "Tanim Bala" scam has given to the Philippines and to our people.

 

This suggestion is also very important and valuable in serving the peoples' interest. It shows how government can  use an important legal principle as a policy making tool now and in the future to prevent corrupt law enforcers and regulators from abusing existing laws.  Citizens of the Philippines encounter this abuse of the laws by corrupt government personnel in their everyday lives. Laws are implemented without utilizing common sense and fairness principles when used for corruption purposes.

 

I draw from my experience as a lawyer officially certified by the California State Bar as an expert on Immigration Law continuously for more than 25 years now as well as being a human rights lawyer - to provide whatever help I can give to my fellow human beings and country of origin - offering an effective proven way to solve this serious problem. I know from experience that the principle of Prosecutorial Discretion when utilized by government prosecutors acting in good faith -  really makes a big difference in bringing about order and justice in many situations.

 

The intent of the law that makes the possession of bullets a criminal offense whether by airline passengers or  in some other context - was for a good purpose -  just like so many other laws. It is meant to prevent shootings that cause death or injuries. This law was certainly not meant to be used by scammers to extort money and hassle innocent people.

 

The whole purpose of airport screenings and scrutiny of passengers and luggages is to detect deadly weapons and explosives that threaten the safety and security of passengers and crew. Obviously, a few bullets by themselves without a gun - are not deadly weapons. This is more obviously so with bullets that have been converted to amulets. As such, just confiscating the bullets is a simple common sense summary procedure to terminate further hassles.

 

On the basis of the principle of "Prosecutorial Discretion", President Aquino can order Secretary Caguioa or even Secretary Caguioa by himself - can just issue a general directive to prosecutors and airport security personnel -  that finding ten or less bullets in passengers' luggages - will no longer be prosecuted.  Instead, just confiscate the bullets.

 

The "Tanim Bala" scam will  immediately be effectively  stopped  if Secrtary Caguioa issues this directive. The scammers will no longer plant bullets in luggages as they can no longer conveniently wrongfully use the law banning bullets  to victimize helpless passengers.

 

It also costs the government nothing to stop this scam. No need for watchers to watch the screeners and other airport personnel. No need for extra cameras. It also saves the government time and money as prosecutors will be freed from  having to prosecute passengers with bullets. They can then utilize their time and efforts in more important priorities - such as prosecuting really serious crimes.

 

Instant provable results are accomplished and the government can proudly immediately announce to the world that they have effectively stop the "Planted Bullet" scam. This erases the country's projected bad image and gives the impression of a well meaning government that knows how to effectively protect people and solve problems.

 

As of the moment, extended hearings and discussions are going on in the Philippine Congress as Senators and Congressmen look for solutions to the "Tanim Bala" scam - hoping to come up with remedial legislation. With all due respect to the legislators who mean well - but drafting bills, engaging in various studies, meetings between representatives of the Senate and the house - is a time consuming vexatious expensive legislative process.

 

The immediate use of Prosecutorial Discretion by either President Aquino or the Secretary of Justice Caguioa will instantly solve this serious "Tanim Bala" problem. Again, with all due respect, I hope they use this important principle to serve the peoples' and the nation's interests.

 

 

(Atty. Ted Laguatan is a human rights lawyer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Tel 650-991-1154. He is only one of 29 lawyers whom the California State Bar has officially certified  continuously for 25 years now as an expert lawyer in Immiration Law. He also does accident injuries, wrongful death and complex litigation cases.)

More than 10 years ago, I helped my sister Magdalena Sison and her husband Edwin Sison bought their first house in Santa Clara, California for less than $300,000.00 as their Real Estate Broker. Today, their house is more than tripled in value because the 49rs Levi Stadium was recently built which is just a walking distance from their home. Then, I helped my brother Dionisio Madlaing and his wife Maribel Madlaing and my brother Salvador Madlaing and his wife Urtula Madlaing bought their first homes in San Jose, California.

 

When the real estate market slowed down, I diversified in offering MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES, GLS Health Supplements and neighborhood outreach as one of the evangelists at the Golden Gate Church of Christ in San Francisco, California.

 

Last week, my sister-in-law Ursula Talon Madlaing, insurance consultant with New York Life based in San Jose, California, called and asked if I'm still active and in real estate. I told her “YES” through my partnership with full-time Realtor/Real Estate Broker in every major city in Northern California. I shared with her seven advantages and benefits of my Broker/Realtor partnership, namely:

 

1.Through my partnership with full-time and experienced Broker/Realtor in every major city, buyers and sellers are like hiring two brokers/realtors for the price of one.

 

2.Our joint listings are featured in my column “HEALTH & WEALTH: for more exposure, faster sales and higher price.

 

3. We jointly conduct OPEN HOUSES for more exposure in the neighborhood.

 

4. MLS ENTRY. Our joint listings are included in the local MLS for exposure to hundreds and thousands of Realtors in the area.

 

5. EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE. Buyers and sellers will benefit with the more 30 years of combined experience and expertise of my partner Real Estate Broker and Mortgage Broker.

 

6. As a commissioned Notary Public by the California State Secretary and accredited Notary Public by the Philippine Consul General in San Francisco, I offer discounted MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES for our clients.

 

7. SHORTER LISTING PERIOD. Many real estate companies have 60-day listing period. We offer shorter listing period of 30-45 days.

 

To fully serve my sister-in-law and her brother and sister who are buying another house, I requested them to fill out a CONFIDENTIAL CLIENT ASSISTANCE GUIDE/SURVEY. This way, we can identify their present needs like if they are: 1, First-Time Buyer; 2. Selling Real Estate; 3. Need Loan & Refinancing; 4. Need Loan Modification; 5. Need Short Sale. 6. Need Foreclosure Prevention; 7. Interested in Land Investment; 8. Need Notary & MOBILE SIGNING SERVICES. 9. Other needs related to real estate.

 

 

FREE CONFIDENTIAL CLIENT ASSISTANCE GUIDE/SURVEY: If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate, make sure to request for your FREE copy of CONFIDENTIAL CLIENT ASSISTANCEGUIDE/SURVEY for complete and satisfactory services. For your FREE copy, just send a self-addressed-stamped envelope to: AMERICAN BANKERS REALTY, 730 Madrid Street, San Francisco, CA 94112.

 

(ART GABOT MADLAING is a licensed Real Estate Broker (BRE#00635976) and commissioned Notary Public in California since 1981. He is also accredited Notary Public by the Philippine Consul General of San Francisco. Art is the book author of “Real Estate & You,” NO GUTS, NO GLORY,” “HISTORICITY OF JESUS.” He is one of the evangelists at the Golden Gate Church of Christ in San Francisco, California. Art is the founder of FITNESS FOR HUMANITY (aka FITNESS FOR CHRIST) and ACAPINOY. He can be reached at(650)438-3531 or (415)584-7095 or e-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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