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Editor In Chief Alfred G. Gabot

Editor In Chief Alfred G. Gabot

MANILA – Finally, the Department of Justice admitted that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala are under investigation in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scandal.
Alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles had identified Abad as the one who allegedly taught him the rudiments of the use of the pork barrel funds which the Cabinet member vehemently denied while Alcala, then a congressman of Quezon province, reportedly channelled some of his funds through the non-government organizations set up by Napoles.
This developed as the members of the Supreme Court handed President Benigno Aquino III a resounding setback on Tuesday, voting 13-0 with one abstention to declare the Chief Executive's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) partly unconstitutional like the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel they earlier declared also unconstitutional.
DAP involved a bigger pork barrel of P192 billion in its first year alone, compared to only P25 billion for senators and congressmen.
With the ruling, it is expected that more people will call for the impeachment of President  Aquino  and the head of  Secretary Abad, who reportedly created and defended DAP.
But Speaker Feliciano Belmonte pointed out that the ruling cannot be used to impeach the President. Even if an impeachment complaint is filed in the House of Representatives, it will have no chance to prosper with an overwhelming majority of congressmen supporting the administration as shown during the time of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The President, however, could still be held liable for the unconstitutional DAP when he leaves office, according to legal experts.
Malacanang did not immediately comment on the ruling, saying it will have to wait for the full copy of the decision first.
Some senators immediately commended the Supreme Court (SC) for declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.
Some experts, however, said the High Court did not categorically rule as unconstitutional the President's DAP or pork barrel but only certain acts related to the use of the DAP which enabled it to fund projects of the Commission on Audit, the Commission on Elections and other offices. It was also alleged that the DAP was used to bribe the senators with P50 million to P200 million each in additional "pork barrel" fund to impeach then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
This means that the Chief Executive's power to transfer funds was sustained by the High Court and, therefore, the DAP maybe revived with some other name, except that its use will now have to conform with the Constitution and the laws on budget and fiscal administration.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said she anticipated the SC decision even before the matter reached the high court months ago.

Blackouts cripple many Mindanao industries

Published in Latest News
DAVAO CITY -- Recurring four to six-hour blackouts in the whole island of Mindanao have crippled many industries the last few months, according to Manuel Boniao, chief executive officer and president of Bonbor Poultry Corp. which runs a number of poultry farms in northern Mindanao.
Boniao said these blackouts are hampering the operations and production activities of large factories and manufacturing plants not only in northern Mindanao region but all over the southern Philippine island.
“This is something we’re beginning to live with -- to be able to continue our operations in the industry even with these blackouts, “ Boniao said.
Processing and manufacturing plants as well as all other businesses like shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, offices, have invested in their own power generators to continue operating despite the long recurring blackouts in Mindanao’s big cities like Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zamboanga, General Santos, Butuan, etc., according to Boniao.
The National Power Corporation had warned a few years ago that power failures will start in 2014 since the combined power capacity of the Mindanao power grid can no longer cope with the fast-growing power requirements of the island.
Vicente Lao, one of island’s most prominent businessman who chairs the Mindanao Business Council, had been expressing this concern over the years about the island’s growing power requirements--and the inability of NPC to meet this power demand, unless private investors will start investing in big power plants in Mindanao.
Lao heads the Maharlika Agri-Ventures as CEO and sits as chair of the export market committee of the poultry industry in the northern Mindanao region.
Aboitiz Equity Ventures, which runs some of the country’s biggest power plants in Davao, Cebu and northern Luzon, has already started building a coal-fired power plant in Davao del Sur, in addition to its existing coal-fired power plant in Cagayan de Oro and a small hydro-power plant in Davao City.
QUEZON CITY – As she pledged while in New York, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales elevated last week the plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and several others for trial before the Sandiganbayan in connection with P10 billion pork barrel scam.
In addition, the Ombudsman filed on Monday multiple counts of graft cases also against the three senators, Napoles and others before the graft court.
The filing of the charges came as the Ombudsman denied the separate motions for reconsideration and other petitions filed by the Senators and other respondents, claiming that evidence against them were strong.
The Ombudsman also earlier denied the petition of Napoles to turn as government witness, pointing out that the alleged pork barrel scam queen was not the least guilty of the plunder charges.
Amidst his imminent arrest, Senator Revilla delivered a privilege speech on the Senate floor reinforced with his video singing an original song related to the case expressing readiness to face detention. Revilla also bid goodbye to his colleagues, family, friends and almost 20 million who voted for him in 2010 while his teary-eyed wife, Congresswoman Lani Mercado-Revilla of the lone district of Bacoor City, son Cavite Vice Governor Ramon "Jolo" Revilla III and other relatives listened at the gallery.
Revilla also joined Senator Estrada in appealing that Senator Enrile, who is 90 years old, be spared from detention due to old age even as he recognized Enrile as the country's foremost statesman.
 Enrile, for his part, said he has packed all his things and is ready for his arrest and detention, adding  he is ready to die in jail.
"Why should I resist? I am a lawyer. I know the process. Why should I resist? I have no reason to resist," said the hero of the EDSA Revolution of 1986 who earlier was also hailed for his role in the Senate Impeachment Tribunal that removed Chief Justice Renato Corona only to be made a villain by the Aquino administration in the pork barrel scam.

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