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(Photo from Philippine Star/Pacquiao Office)

 

PASAY CITY — The Senate unexpectedly underwent reorganization due to "blurring lines" between the majority and minority blocs, leaving out Liberal Party (LP) senators in the majority bloc.

 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said LP senators were ousted from leadership posts and committee chairmanships, forcing them to join the minority bloc.

 

"There have been instances where the majority, instead of closing ranks, ended up divided. The majority of Senators decided that to best achieve the Senate's legislative agenda, clear lines have to be drawn," Pimentel said.

 

He, however, assured that the Senate will remain independent and true to its role as "the last bastion of democracy" in the country.

 

On Monday's plenary session, Sen. Manny Pacquiao voted to declare vacant the position of Senate President Pro-Tempore and committee chairmanships on the Senate Committees on Health, Agriculture and Education.

 

Sen. Franklin Drilon (LP) was ousted as Senate President Pro-Tempore while fellow LP Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV were ousted as chairpersons of the Health, Agriculture and Education committees.

 

Former Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto took Drilon’s place as Senate President Pro-Tempore after 17 out of 23 senators present voted for this change.

 

The senators who voted for Recto as the new Senate President Pro-Tempore were Senators Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Francis Escudero, Sherwin Gatchalian, Gregorio Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Manny Pacquiao, and Grace Poe.

 

The senators who voted against Recto were Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Aquino, Drilon, Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes IV.

 

Senators Ejercito, Villar and Escudero became the new chairpersonss of the Senate Committees on Health, Agriculture and Education, respectively.

 

Recto moved to designate Trillanes the new Senate Minority Leader until the new minority decides among themselves who will be their new leader.

 

The new minority has five members namely Aquino, Drilon, Hontiveros, Pangilinan and Trillanes.

 

Drilon included detained Sen. Leila de Lima in the minority but Pimentel said that it is better to await for her formal communication.

 

The LP senators’ transfer to the minority bloc comes two days after their party mate, De Lima, was arrested by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) for alleged drug trading charges. De Lima is currently detained in the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

 

Drilon said the LP would have stayed with the majority bloc if they were not stripped off their leadership posts and committee chairmanships.

 

He, however, assured that even if they were “kicked out”, they would continue to do their jobs.

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QUEZON CITY — Reports claiming there will be a strong earthquake between Feb. 24 and March 8 due to rupture in the West Valley Fault that traverses a wide portion of Metro Manila and nearby provinces are untrue.

 

This was stressed by government seismologists as they warned the public on the spread of fake news on the supposed "Big One."

 

The 100-kilometer West Valley Fault traverses parts of Bulacan through Quezon City, Marikina, Makati, Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa in Metro Manila; San Pedro, Biñan, Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao and Calamba in Laguna; and Carmona, General Mariano Alvarez and Silang in Cavite.

 

“We cannot predict when or where an earthquake will happen. There is no reliable technology in the world that can confidently predict the date, time and location of large earthquakes,” said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

 

 “What we do is prepare earthquake scenarios of hazards and impacts to be used as guide for mitigation, preparedness and response,” it added.

 

The agency cautioned against sharing such information, saying it could cause panic.

 

It directed netizens to the Phivolcs website and social media accounts for earthquake information and other preparedness materials.

 

Following the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck Surigao del Norte last Feb. 10, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum warned residents in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to prepare for a strong earthquake that could kill thousands.

 

Called the “Big One,” the said tremor, which could be as strong as magnitude 7.2, would be generated by the movement of the West Valley Fault.

 

While the fault is ripe for movement, Phivolcs repeatedly maintained that there is no technology available yet to predict when an earthquake will happen.

 

Solidum earlier said that the West Valley Fault moves roughly every 400 years. The last major earthquake generated by this fault was in 1658 or 357 years ago.

 

A 2004 study funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency for Phivolcs and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority showed that a magnitude 7.2 quake could kill up to 34,000 people and injured 100,000 others due to collapsed buildings.

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MANILA — The humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has expressed support for embattled Environment Secretary Regina Lopez as she faces the Commission on Appointments (COA) for her confirmation this week.

 

Various farmers and fishers groups and leaders have also come forward to support Lopez while some have mounted a signature campaign fo supporter her confirmation by the CA, according to farm leader Vicente Domingo.

 

Former Philippine Agricultural Journalists president Alfred Gabot, co-founder of the Save Laguna Lake Movement and the Save Lingayen Gulf Movement, and groups have also come forward to support Secretary Lopez.

 

In a statement, the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) or Caritas Philippines said Lopez has so far been effective in her duties and has shown profound understanding of integral and holistic approach to resource conservation and environmental management.

 

Last week, Lopez alleged that congressmen were offered P50 million to vote against her confirmation after she ordered the closure of 23 mines and the scrapping of 75 mining contracts affecting watershed areas.

 

Lopez has earned the words of praise from the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) over the recent cancellation of 75 mining permits under the contract of Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) operating mainly in the country’s major watersheds.

 

In a statement, Pamalakaya Chairperson Fernando Hicap said this will initially bring environmental and social justice to the struggling-people who have been resisting against large-scale mining operations for the protection and conservation of our environment and social rights of the people.

 

PAMALAKAYA said rural people particularly farmers and fisherfolk are always the front-line casualties of large-scale mining operations due to environmental and marine degradation inflicted by wanton mining activities.

 

We must say well done, Secretary Lopez. Her firm stand against large-scale mining is highly notable. Large-scale mining activities always pose threat to the community, economic and social rights of the rural people through community displacement, livelihood destruction and environmental disasters,” Hicap said.

 

The fisherfolk group said the DENR’s anti-mining stance should be transformed into a total anti-mining policy because as soon as the existing mining law, the Mining Act of 1995 still exists, big-time mining corporations would still assert and justify their illegal takeover and plunder of our natural resources and minerals.

 

Lopez believes that her decision could affect her confirmation of appointment “because I know that mining funds political campaigns.”  

 

NASSA said Lopez “has introduced stronger biodiversity protection programs, increased emphasis and support for more sustainable projects like community-based ecotourism, and strengthened interagency collaboration towards clean air, clean water and transformative climate change policies – all within the framework of genuine partnership with environmental NGOs, church, academe, youth, farmers and fisherfolk.”

 

“She has courageously enforced the country’s environmental laws, often at great personal risk, not for ambition but for unwavering principle and commitment to the Filipino people.

 

“She revoked a number of deeply flawed extractive operations that already caused great suffering to poor communities. As a result, the pressure to block her appointment and remove her from office has been mounting,” it added.

 

 

MANILA — The humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has expressed support for embattled Environment Secretary Regina Lopez as she faces the Commission on Appointments (COA) for her confirmation this week.

 

Various farmers and fishers groups and leaders have also come forward to support Lopez while some have mounted a signature campaign fo supporter her confirmation by the CA, according to farm leader Vicente Domingo.

 

Former Philippine Agricultural Journalists president Alfred Gabot, co-founder of the Save Laguna Lake Movement and the Save Lingayen Gulf Movement, and groups have also come forward to support Secretary Lopez.

 

In a statement, the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) or Caritas Philippines said Lopez has so far been effective in her duties and has shown profound understanding of integral and holistic approach to resource conservation and environmental management.

 

Last week, Lopez alleged that congressmen were offered P50 million to vote against her confirmation after she ordered the closure of 23 mines and the scrapping of 75 mining contracts affecting watershed areas.

 

Lopez has earned the words of praise from the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) over the recent cancellation of 75 mining permits under the contract of Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) operating mainly in the country’s major watersheds.

 

In a statement, Pamalakaya Chairperson Fernando Hicap said this will initially bring environmental and social justice to the struggling-people who have been resisting against large-scale mining operations for the protection and conservation of our environment and social rights of the people.

 

PAMALAKAYA said rural people particularly farmers and fisherfolk are always the front-line casualties of large-scale mining operations due to environmental and marine degradation inflicted by wanton mining activities.

 

We must say well done, Secretary Lopez. Her firm stand against large-scale mining is highly notable. Large-scale mining activities always pose threat to the community, economic and social rights of the rural people through community displacement, livelihood destruction and environmental disasters,” Hicap said.

 

The fisherfolk group said the DENR’s anti-mining stance should be transformed into a total anti-mining policy because as soon as the existing mining law, the Mining Act of 1995 still exists, big-time mining corporations would still assert and justify their illegal takeover and plunder of our natural resources and minerals.

 

Lopez believes that her decision could affect her confirmation of appointment “because I know that mining funds political campaigns.”  

 

NASSA said Lopez “has introduced stronger biodiversity protection programs, increased emphasis and support for more sustainable projects like community-based ecotourism, and strengthened interagency collaboration towards clean air, clean water and transformative climate change policies – all within the framework of genuine partnership with environmental NGOs, church, academe, youth, farmers and fisherfolk.”

 

“She has courageously enforced the country’s environmental laws, often at great personal risk, not for ambition but for unwavering principle and commitment to the Filipino people.

 

“She revoked a number of deeply flawed extractive operations that already caused great suffering to poor communities. As a result, the pressure to block her appointment and remove her from office has been mounting,” it added.

 
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DAVAO CITY — For the nth time, President Duterte said he is not threatened by reports of a destabilization plot to oust him from Malacanang.

 

“Don’t talk about coup‘d etat, impeachment. Just do it,” Duterte said during the inauguration of a drug rehabilitation and treatment center in Barangay Penaplata, Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte last week.

 

The President said he is no stranger to threats of imprisonment, coup, impeachment and assassination amid the issue on extrajudicial killings that have been attributed to his bloody war on drugs.

 

Duterte said he is not afraid to die.

 

 “I will be glad to die for my country like Jose Rizal. But make sure that you kill me with air gun and not real bullets,” the President said in jest. 

 

He said he had instructed his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, to make sure that his remains are cremated and buried within 24 hours when he dies.

 

“I asked her to have my remains burned immediately in the crematorium and that my ashes be placed near the tombs of my father and mother,” the President said. 

 

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Palace agrees with critics in urging people to remember and relive the spirit of nation-building that brought about the EDSA People Power Revolution 31 years ago but cautioned against political opportunists.

 

Abella said President Duterte remains focused on improving the lot of the Filipino through increasing infrastructure spending and convincing investors to do business in the country.

 

“We would wish that people were cooperative instead of focusing on you know, being adversarial. Well, criticism is always ano, is welcome. Iba rin po ‘yung being adversarial,” Abella said.

 

He said what the country needs now are “people who are truly and sincerely nation patriot, nation builder,” and not people “who take advantage of political position for their own advancement.”

 

The Palace official also assured that there is no suppression of dissent, noting that the Duterte administration has allowed protesters to rally on the streets as long as they do not break law and order and interfere with traffic.

 

Meanwhile, Abella also commented on the statements that the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima is a political harassment.

 

Abella explained that De Lima’s arrest is based on probable cause.

 

“Linawin po natin na ‘yung kanya pong kaso ay kriminal. Hindi po ito pulitikal na bagay,” he said.

 

“As you can very well see, the way it’s all played out, is everything was played also in the open in media, wala naman pong naitago and you know, for all intents and purposes, everything was objective… everything was done objectively and with fair play,” he added.

 

Abella noted that the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted in December 2016 on the optimism of job availability showed a record high of +37, the highest net optimism since 1998.

 

Abella said the Duterte administration is focused in creating 1.2 million jobs annually.

 

“It will be addressed by attracting more foreign investments, increasing infrastructure spending, the ease of doing business, improving the ease of doing business in the Philippines tsaka ‘yung pagdedevelop po ng ating human resources,” he said. (PhilAmPress)

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(Photo from Gina Lopez's official Facebook page)

 

QUEZON CITY — Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez, after personally witnessing through aerial survey the devastation that mining has caused in the country’s mountains, has ordered the closure of 23 of the country's 43 metal mines and the suspension of six mines, mostly nickel producers.

 

The mines have caused damages to the environment and community, according to Lopez.

 

Four of the mines are in  Zambales; three in Homonhon Island in Samar; seven in Dinagat Islands province and four in Surigao Del Norte and three in Surigao del Sur.

 

 Lopez said 15 of the mines facing closure are located in watershed areas wherein mining operation is prohibited.

 

“The decision on the watersheds is non-negotiable. You cannot and you must not and you should not have any mining which endangers the water supply of the Filipino,” said Lopez.

 

Lopez explained: "I am not against the mining industry, per se, but I am against suffering. It is not right that people make a lot of money to the detriment of the community. It's not right, it's against the mining law, it's against the Philippine constitution."


She pointed out that the action is the result of the 2016 mining audit conducted by DENR.

 

The mining firms which immediately contested the order have 15 days to file motion for reconsideration. Off hand, officials of the firms said the DENR did not observe due process in doing its inspections and coming out with the closure order.

 

Artemio Disini, chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, told a briefing that the first option for affected miners would be to appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte "before going to the courts".


"We have a total 1.2 million people affected including family members," Disini said.

 

The latest Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) order cancelling 75 mining contracts throughout the country is consistent with the law, but due process must still be observed before its enforcement.

 

“The cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) by Secretary Regina Lopez is consistent with Republic Act 7942 that mining applications are closed to proclaimed watershed forest reserves,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement distributed to media.

 

“However, as agreed upon in the last Cabinet meeting, the DENR is to establish that it has gone through due process before enforcing the applicable laws, rules, or regulations,” Abella said.

 

According to the Palace official, “the DENR is to issue a show cause order for concerned mining companies and they will be given seven days to reply.”

 

Lopez on Tuesday ordered the cancellation of the 75 mining contracts in an intensified campaign to stop extraction of resources in sensitive areas.

 

The cancelled contracts, which cover projects that are still in the exploration stage or are not yet in production, are all located in watershed zones.

 

These include the USD5.9-billion Tampakan gold and copper project in South Cotabato, potentially the country’s biggest foreign investment and believed to be one of the largest gold prospects in the world.

 

Also affected by the cancellation order was the USD1.2-billion copper-gold project of Philex Mining Corp., one of the country’s biggest miners, in Mindanao.

 

Lopez said that she had to order the cancellation of the MPSAs because they could endanger the water supply.

 

Earlier, the DENR chief ordered the closure of 23 of the country’s 41 mineral mines while five other mines were suspended.

 

The February 2 decision to close or suspend existing mine operations followed a months-long audit of the mines.

 

This prompted an outcry from the mining industry, represented by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), which maintained that due process were not observed in the proceedings.

 

On February 7, Abella said that President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet decided to give affected mining firms the opportunity to present their side.

 

“This means companies affected by mining closures for violations of environmental laws and regulations will be given the opportunity to respond to or dispute the audit, or make the necessary remedies to ensure compliance with government standards,” Abella said.

 

Still largely unexplored, the Philippines is the world's top nickel ore supplier, but the mining sector contributes less than 1 percent to the overall economy.

Only 3 percent of 9 million hectares (22 million acres) identified by the state as having high mineral reserves is currently being mined, according to government data.


Ronald Recidoro from the Chamber of Mines said on Thursday that affected miners would "definitely" seek legal action if President Rodrigo Duterte denied their appeal to overturn Lopez's orders.


Duterte, who last year said the Philippines could survive without a mining industry, on Thursday threw his support behind Lopez's latest action.

Lopez "took it upon herself to be the judge and the executioner of the mining industry," said Vicente Lao who owns chromite producer Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp, which has also been ordered to close.

 

The mining companies in Dinagat Island ordered to stop operating were AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration, Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., SinoSteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Kromico, Inc., Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., Wellex Mining Corp., and Libjo Mining Corp.

 

The mining operations in Surigao del Norte ordered to stop were the Hinatuan Mining Corp. in Hinatuan Island, Tagana-an town; Adnama Mining Resources Inc. (AMRI) in Barangay Urbiztondo, Claver; Claver Mineral Development Corp. in Barangay Cagdianao, and Platinum Development Corp. in Barangay Cagdianao, Claver town.

 

In Surigao del Sur, those ordered closed were the CTP Construction and Mining Corp. in Carrascal Carrascal Nickel Corp., Carrascal and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.n operating at a watershed in the town of Cantilan.

 

Other affected mining companies are BenguetCorp Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation, Mount Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp., Emir Minerals Corp., Techiron Mineral Resources Inc., AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration, Oriental Synergy Mining Corp., SinoSteel Philippines HY Mining Corp., Kromico Inc., Oriental Vision Mining Philippines Corp., Wellex Mining Corp., Libjo Mining Corp., Adnama Mining Resources, Inc., Claver Mineral Development Corp., Hinatuan Mining Corp., CTP Construction Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., Marcventures Mining and Development Corp., and Platinum Development Corp.

 

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said about 1.2 million Filipinos will be affected by the DENR closure order on the 21 mining companies.

 

Dominguez said he is “deeply concerned over the welfare of the 1.2 million people affected by the closure of the 23 PH (Philippine) mines.”

 

“This will result to joblessness,” he added.

 

The Finance chief said some members of the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) have discussed the issue and the possible programs to help affected families.

 

“We are trying to meet as early as possible. We are just waiting for the response of the other members of the MICC. We want to have it next week, as soon as possible,” he said.

 

MICC is chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Its members are the secretaries of the DENR and the Department of Finance (DOF), the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) and representatives of the business, civil society, and the academe.

 

Dominguez said Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco has suggested that Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo survey the affected people and for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to prepare emergency hiring.

 

“Sec. Evasco has suggested that we engage them in a greening program to do tree planting,” he said.They were given a 15-day leeway to appeal the DENR order, which will be submitted to the Office of the President for final approval.


DENR Undersecretary Art Valdez of the Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force said DENR would be vigilant in imposing the closure order.
"We will pour in more logistics at areas where these mining operations to be closed are located, to closely monitor compliance, and for them to abide by the closure and the rehabilitation processes. The closure order also is the time that the rehabilitation fund will be released, representing a certain percentage of fees set aside by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)," Valdez explained.



Valdez added that funds would also be used for the sustainable area development program, which is intended to provide livelihood of the people who used to work for the closed mining operation.


Atty Michelle Go, environment assistant secretary for Field Operations in Mindanao, stressed the utmost importance of the DENR's task: "DENR's overarching goals are Ecosystems Integrity and Social Justice, which are manifested by a healthy environment where people can live to fulfill their fullest potential. Secretary Lopez is determined and will continue to ensure that the people benefit from the fruits of the land they live in."

 

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MANILA — Filipinos continue to show 'very high' optimism in their quality of life six months after they elected former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s president in May 2016 elections.

 

This is shown in the Social Weather Station2016 Fourth Quarter survey conducted from December 3-6.

 

The survey showed 48 percent of the 1,500 respondents expect that their personal quality of life would improve in the next 12 months compared to 3 percent that said it would get worse.

 

The survey also showed that 51 percent of Filipinos have expressed optimism that the Philippine economy in 2017 will get better compared to only 8 percent who said it will deteriorate.

 

On the other hand, 37 percent of Filipinos said their lives improved in the last 12 months compared to 21 percent who said their lives worsened.

 

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the latest survey affirmed that President Duterte is on the right track of pursuing economic progress as well as peace and order.

 

"The SWS fourth quarter survey showed very interesting statistics. The Duterte administration has pursued a policy of economic inclusivity anchored with peace and order," Abella said.

 

During the recent Manila Times 5th Business Forum in Davao City, Abella said Asian Development Bank (ADB) country director Richard Bolt had said President Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda is on the track.

 

"Content with the economic progress in the Philippines, Mr. Bolt said there is a need to sustain growth on buoyant domestic consumption and public and private partnership for the Philippine economic remains strong," Abella said.

 

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MANILA — Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health.

 

“The President is healthy, but he has problems with migraine, Buerger's disease, which is a result of smoking. I’m telling reporters that the President has health concerns, they are bothersome, but not critical,” said Ubial.

 

She noted that she is impressed with the President’s stamina, staying awake and alert during four to six hours of cabinet meetings, unlike some cabinet officials who almost get sleepy.

 

“That’s the picture of our president’s health. He is really very healthy. He has good stamina and level of energy. We are really very supportive of his over-all health and ability to lead the country,” she said.

 

President Duterte has recently undergone a medical check-up at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center after experiencing chest pain. According to the hospital’s doctors, his electrocardiogram (ECG) test results showed that there seemed to be nothing wrong with him.

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MANILA — The Supreme Court has denied the petition for certiorari of the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos seeking to reverse the decision of the Sandiganbayan ordering the forfeiture in favor of the government of the jewelry collection and also called Malacanang jewelry collection, one of three collections confiscated from former first lady Imelda Marcos in 1986.

 

In a 21-page decision penned by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the SC’s First Division, affirmed that the Sandiganbayan’s decision issued on Jan. 13, 2014 and denied the petition filed by Mrs. Marcos and her daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta.

 

The SC said “the forfeiture was justified and that the Malacanang Collection was subject to forfeiture.”

 

“We reiterate what we have already stated initially in Republic v. Sandiganbayan, and subsequently in Marcos v. Republic: that ‘whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired,” the SC said.

 

“Petitioners failed to satisfactorily show that the properties were lawfully acquired; hence, the prima facie presumption that they were unlawfully acquired prevails,” it added.

 

The Court also did not give credence to the claim of the Marcoses that they were deprived of due process since there has been no trial or hearing for to be able to prove that the jewelry were legally acquired.

 

The Malacanang collection is composed of smaller, less expensive pieces that the Marcoses left behind when they fled during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

 

The Malacañang jewelry collection is kept in the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas along with the Roumeliotes and Hawaii collections.

 

The 60-piece Roumeliotes Collection was seized from Demetriou Roumeliotes, a Greek national, at the Manila International Airport as he was about to leave the country in March 1986.

 

The Hawaii collection, meanwhile, comprises jewelry found in the family's luggage when they arrived at the Honolulu International Airport on February 25, 1986.

 

The Sandiganbayan in the said ruling held that the jewelry collection, which is assessed to be worth from US$110,055 to US$153,089 was part of the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth.

 

It noted that the legitimate income of the Marcoses had been pegged at US$304,372.43 from the period 1966-1986.

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MANILA — Solicitor General Jose Calida has recommended the acquittal of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in the illegal detention she was convicted for.

 

Calida said his office did not file a "manifestation in lieu of rejoinder" at the Court of Appeals just to acquit Napoles from the accusation that she detained her cousin, scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

 

He said his office just wanted to let the higher court know its opinion on the matter.

 

He added that the Makati Regional Trial Court wrongly convicted Napoles.

 

"In Napoles case, it is my well-considered opinion and that of my assistants that the RTC erred in convicting Napoles," Calida said.

 

"When we look at evidence, there are glaring instances which will support acquittal of the accused. It is my duty to state the facts. Persons involved here are immaterial to us. What's important is justice should be done," he added.

 

Calida claimed Luy was not illegally detained, saying that the first thing he could have done was to escape.

 

He said there was Luy did not exhibit restrained behavior, even seeing his family three times. Luy was was able to communicate with anyone outside, Calida noted.

 

"No one wants to be illegally detained," Calida said.

 

Based on the court documents obtained by the Philippine for Center Investigative Journalism, Calida's office filed the manifestion on January 11 and it was received by the appeals court on January 20.

 

Calida defended the manifestation filed, saying the OSG acts as the 16th magistrate of the Supreme Court.

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PASAY CITY — The Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed on Wednesday the ad interim appointment of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitallano Aguirre II despite another move by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to suspend his confirmation.

 

Upon the motion of CA committee on justice and judicial and bar council chairperson Loren Legarda, the CA body unanimously confirmed Aguirre's appointment at the plenary hall.

 

"I can sleep well now," said Aguirre whose confirmation was deferred two weeks ago upon the request of Trillanes.

 

Aguirre promised to redouble his efforts to be of service to the Filipino people.

 

"I come to you not asking for your charity nor dole out. I offered my heart and my integrity in the service of the people. I will redouble my efforts to fully implement the President's (Rodrigo Duterte) marching orders to wage war against illegal drugs, corruption and all forms criminality," he said.

 

Early Wednesday, the CA panel conducted executive session to tackle Trillanes' opposition, particularly the so-called confidential memorandum submitted by Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief legal officer Alvin Herrera Lim to BuCor Director General Benjamin delos Santos.

 

In the memorandum dated December 9, 2016, Lim claimed Aguirre had allowed certain high profile inmates who testified against Sen. Leila de Lima, to enjoy lavish lifestyles while under confinement at Camp Aguinaldo.

 

Lim said the inmates were allowed to use electronic gadgets, smart television sets, air conditioning units, internet and cellular.

 

"It appears now that Mr. Aguirre is the one guilty of the acts he is accusing Sen. De Lima of committing," Trillanes told the CA panel.

 

During last year’s House inquiries on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary, high profile inmates claimed that then Justice secretary De Lima allowed the high profile prisoners to enjoy lavish and luxurious lifestyles inside New Bilibid Prison.

 

Trillanes said Aguirre should be properly investigated for "these very serious allegations".

 

The senator also questioned Aguirre's qualification based on Philippine Daily Inquirer’s report where the newspaper quoted Aguirre to have said that “criminals are not human” amid the government's strong war against illegal drugs.

 

Trillanes also criticized Aguirre for calling him coward, "gagong senator" (stupid senator) and "sundalong kanin" (useless soldier) in connection with senator’s accusation that Aguirre took part in the alleged bribery scandal involving Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam.

 

In his response, Aguirre denied Lim's claims that he allowed high profile inmates to have lavish lifestyles, saying "it’s very clear here that the violations were not personally seen by Atty. Lim."

 

"There's no proof that there were electronic gadgets, smart television sets, air-conditioning units, internets, cellular phones. These are all hearsay because Atty. Lim did not see these," Aguirre said.

 

The newly-confirmed DOJ chief also clarified that he never said criminals are not human although he admitted saying the criminals are not humanity.

 

"I distinctly remember saying that criminals, drug lords and drug pushers are not humanity. I did not say that they are not human but you could equate these drug pushers as humanity," he clarified.

 

Aguirre also apologized to Trillanes for calling him stupid senator while vehemently denying accusation that he took part in the PHP50-million Jack Lam bribery scandal.

 

"I’m really wrong in name calling your person. That was the only time I lost my cool because you are accusing me of complexity in the Jack Lam case. I value my honor and integrity more than my life," Aguirre said, adding he was the one who exposed to the media the bribery scandal.

 

"Due to the pressure and volume of my work, I might have hurt people in my choice of words and for that I profusely apologize specifically to Senator Trillanes," he added.

 

Trillanes accepted Aguirre’s ‘sincerest apology’, saying he believes that the DOJ top official “learned his lessons.”

 

The senator, however, insisted that Aguirre should be investigated over the supposed BuCor’s ‘confidential memorandum’.

 

Aguirre explained that four major personalities, including Bureau of Immigration (BI) deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles have cleared his name.

 

The DOJ official also clarified that he never allowed Wally Sombero, another personality linked to Jack Lam bribery case, to leave the country.

 

Despite Trillanes’ strong opposition, 12 members of the CA panel voted to recommend the confirmation of Aguirre at the plenary session.

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