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(Photo from the Official Facebook Page of VP Leni Robredo)

 

MANILA (via PhilAmPress) ―Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo and her Filipino American allies could be behind an alleged plot to destabilize and oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

This as so-called “Lenileaks” revealed the alleged ouster plots even as Malacanang dared Robredo to convince the public whether the so-called ‘Lenileaks’ are true or not.

 

Meanwhile, a US newspaper, Washington Times, indicated that the plot to remove Duterte was possible with recent developments on Duterte’s warming up with China and Russia and criticizing America.

 

Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag made this comment after Robredo assured that she has nothing to do with a move to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

"We will respect whatever the Vice President would claim and it’s up to her if there are photos or emails or leaks that came out" Banaag said.

 

"Then it’s up for her to convince the public if it is true that she has nothing to do or she is not coordinating with other groups in the US or other personalities in the Philippines about that," she added.

 

The hashtag “#lenileaks” has been trending on social media particularly on Twitter, alleging that the Office of the Vice President is part of a well-orchestrated, well-funded strategy to discredit President Duterte as well as losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos.

 

Marcos is contesting his only more than 200,000 votes lost to Robredo in the last May 2016 vice presidential race.

 

Banaag said the demands of the groups asking for President Duterte to resign would not likely to happen considering the President is working hard to improve the lives of the more than 100 million Filipinos.

 

"The President has strong support from our countrymen," Banaag said.

 

Last week, the Pulse Asia came with a survey showing President Duterte enjoying an 83 percent approval and trust rating.

 

Banaag said she is not sure whether there is a need to investigate the ‘Lenileaks.’

 

The leaked emails, first posted by the “Thinking Pinoy” blog last week, showed alleged exchanges between members of the “Global Filipino Diaspora Council” (GFDC) including billionaire philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis and her sister, former Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairwoman Imelda “Mely” Nicolas, both Robredo supporters.

 

In one of the emails, dated December 4 or the day Robredo announced her resignation from the Duterte Cabinet, Lewis supposedly told GFDC members: “The only way to fight this evil plot to unseat VP Leni is to ask Duterte to resign. After all, he promised to resign in six months if he has not solved the drug epidemic in the Philippines.”

 

“He asked for an extension of another six months. Extension denied! Join Duterte Resign Movement,” the email said. It provided a link to a change.org petition calling on the President to quit.

 

Another leaked email, supposedly from lawyer Ted Laguatan, claimed protests against Duterte were gaining ground. The email was dated November 21 or amid protests against the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

 

“This plan is going even better than I expected. We, on our part outside the Philippines are doing our part in holding rallies everywhere,” it said.

 

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NEW OFFICIALS. President Duterte swears in his latest batch of appointees in ceremonies in Malacanang. He warned the officials against corruption.

 

MANILA ― President Rodrigo Duterte swore in newly appointed government officials in Malacanang urging them to serve the people with integrity and dedication.

 

Duterte congratulated the officials who took their oath particularly those returning to government service.



 

“Six years from now, I do not think that you’d be in a position to work some more. So this is the last call para may magawa tayo sa kababayan natin. Just give it to them,” the President said during a speech after leading the oath taking ceremony.



 

“It’s your last call to serve your nation and because I am pleading to you and I hope that we can work together, trust each other and I said give it to the people this time," he added.


He reiterated that there will be no corruption in his government and also promised to fight red tape in the bureaucracy.

 

In his entire career as public servant, he said, he never favored anyone especially businessmen applying for permits.

 

The President also highlighted the necessity of solving the Mindanao problem noting failure to address the concerns of the Moro people will give rise to uncertainties in the future.


 

At the same time, he renewed his campaign pledge to get rid of illegal drugs promising that the ongoing war on drugs will continue until the last drug pusher or drug lord is out of the street.



 

Among the appointees who took their oath were Michael Dalumpines, chairman, Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Production Unit Inc.; Emmanuel Diwa Pineda, chairman and administrator, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan; Angelo Verdan, general manager, Cebu Port Commission; Vicente Pelagio Achacoso Angala, COO, Duty Free Philippines Corp.; and Reynaldo Berroya, administrator, Lightrail Transit Authority.



 

Other appointees were Steve Dicdican, general manager, Mactan-Cebu International Airport; Eddie Monreal, general manager, Manila International Airport Authority; Edgardo Rama Masongsong, administrator, National Electrification Administration; Jason Laureno Yazar Aquino, administrator, National Food Authority; Andrea Domingo, chairman and CEO, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.; Alfredo Lim, president and COO, PAGCOR; and Avelino Andal, administrator-CEO, Philippine Coconut Authority.

 

Also sworn in were Reuben Simon Lista, president and CEO, Philippine National Oil Co.; Joel Otarra, postmaster general, Philippine Postal Corp.; Alberto Agra, chairman, Philippine Reclamation Authority, Janilo Espesor Rubiato, general manager, Philippine Reclamation Authority; Sherwin Smith Rigor, chairman, Poro Management Corp.; and Emmanuel Dooc, president and CEO, Social Security System.

 

Also appointed were Wilma Eisma, administrator, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; Allan Cayao Guisihan, executive director, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime; William Ramirez, Philippine Sports Commission; Benjamin Panganiban Reyes, chairman, Dangerous Drugs Board; Terry Ridon, chairperson, Presidential Commission for Urban Poor; Wifredo Campasas Roldan, executive director, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Jose Miranda Layug Jr., chairman, National Renewal Energy; Alfegar Menchavez Triambolo, inspector general, International Affairs Service, PNP-DILG; Joel Egco, executive director, Committee on Media Killings, DOJ; Luisito Clavano, executive director, Road Board, DPWH; Penelope Belmonte, executive director, National Parks Development Committee; Cesar Montano, COO, Tourism Promotions Board, DOT; Jim Sydiongco, director general, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; Jose Alvarez, chairperson, Regional Development Council, Region IV-B, NEDA; Marilou Mendoza, chairperson, Tariff Commission, NEDA; and Bernelito Fernandez, associate justice, Sandiganbayan.

 

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By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE and JO ERLINDA MAUFIT

 

(Photo from philippinesnow.org)

 

Preparations, physical and security, have started for the Miss Universe pageant to be held at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City on January 30, 2017 as the event has secured global time slot that is expected to reach over 100 million people.

 

The pageant’s coronation night will be aired live at the Mall of Asia from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to all television networks.

 

Organizers said the Mall of Asia will be transformed into a virtual Miss Universe village as it will host a range of activities that will culminate in the Coronation Night where a new Miss Universe queen will be crowned. Reigning queen Pia Wurtzbach will transfer the crown to her successor infront of fellow Filipinos.

 

Before Wurtzbach, Gloria Diaz won the Miss Universe crown in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.

 

Candidates from about 100 countries are set to arrive in the country as early as December for the pre-pageant activities like visits and photo shoots in top Philippine destinations like Davao City, Legaspi City, Cebu City and Vigan City. Also included in these events are Baguio City, Palawan, Tacloban City and Iloilo City.

 

Edgar Tejerero, president of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. (SMLEI), one of the partners of the Department of Tourism in bringing the prestigious event to the country, said they are “glad to bring one of the world’s most sought-after events closer to the Filipinos.”

 

The Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena will be the venue for the Governor’s Ball, National Gift Auction, National Costume, the Fashion Show, the Designer Showcase and After Party, among others.

 

The activities will lead up to the much-awaited Coronation Night on Jan. 30 at the MOA Arena where everyone will witness a rare display of beauty, talent and wit, all within an arm’s reach.

 

Arnel Gonzales, assistant vice president for the MOA Arena, said the Arena was chosen for the Miss Universe pageant because of its experience in hosting many events that have showcased the country globally.

 

The venue has hosted some of the world’s biggest international events, such as the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the Papal Visit, as well as such entertainment acts as Madonna, WWE Live, and Cirque du Soleil.

 

The Depart of Tourism, SMLEI together with the Miss Universe Organization (MUO), LCS Holdings of former Ilocos Sur governor Luis Chavit Singson, Okada Manila and Solar Entertainment Inc. have officially signed the agreement to bring the pageant to the country.

 

The tourism department has said that the government would not be spending for the event, as the expenses would be shouldered by partners from the private sector.

 

The production costs of the pageant are estimated to run into US$11 million to US$15 million.

 

Speaking for Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Undersecretary for Media Affairs Kat De Castro said that an inter-agency task force composed of the DOT, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of Finance (DOF) has been formed to make sure the staging of the pageant runs smoothly.

 

She said that the DOTr and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have been tasked to make sure that traffic is kept at the minimum during the pageant.

 

“One of the orders of President (Rodrigo) Duterte is when we do the final show, people will not experience traffic because it’s happening on a Monday morning,” de Castro said.

 

Last Nov. 16, major partners signed an agreement to secure the Philippine hosting of the pageant in the Philippines.


Miss Universe Organization vice president for business development Shawn McClain said the hosting of the pageant will help boost the country’s tourism. 


The Miss Universe Organization wants to host the pageant in Manila again for its “energetic” and “engaged” fan base, he added.


“The energy and the passion of the Filipino people is really powerful. This is a special place especially for the Miss Universe organization and the brand because it’s so popular here. There’s an energetic and engaged fan based and we couldn’t be happier to announce that the next Miss Universe pageant is going to happen here in Manila in January,” said McClain.

Ninety contestants from around the world are will vie for the coveted crown before an expected live audience of 15,000.

“We’ll be showing the world what the Philippines has to offer,” McClain said. “The Philippine government is not spending a single cent. It’s all private sector.”


Luis “Chavit” Singson, LCS Holdings president, said “Not only will this event bring joy to Filipinos with its pageantry, but it is expected to deliver incredible economic benefits through tourism as we are given a platform to showcase our local attractions before half a billion Miss Universe fans worldwide.”

 

The Philippines has already hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice, in 1974 at the Folk Art Theater and in 1994 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

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(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

 

MANILA ― The Philippines became developing Asia's fastest-growing major economy in President Rodrigo Duterte's first three months in office.

 

This as the country’s economy expanded at its quickest pace in three years at 7.1 percent on-year in July-September, beating the consensus forecast of 6.8 percent, according to Economic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon.

 

The Philippines’ record was faster than China's 6.7 percent and beat other major emerging economies for the same period, Edillon said.

 

The news surprised experts after Duterte sparked concerns among foreign investors over his controversial war on drug crime and a decision to pick fights with the United States and the United Nations on the issue.

 

"All things considered, our economy's strong growth in the third quarter is a very good sign of things to come," Edillon added.

 

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.1% in the three months ending in September. GDP is the amount of final goods and services produced in the country, and as such is the conventional measure of economic performance.


The latest headline growth figure is a notch higher than the previous quarter’s 7% and the highest since the 7.9% clocked in the second quarter of 2013.

During a press briefing, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) National Planning and Policy Staff Director Reynaldo Cancio said the latest GDP figure makes the Philippines the fastest growing in the region, ahead of China’s 6.7%, Vietnam’s 6.4%, Indonesia’s 5%, and Malaysia’s 4.3%. India -- which beat the Philippines in the second quarter -- has yet to release its data.

“This cements our chance of achieving our target of 6-7% for the whole of 2016,” Mr. Cancio said, adding, “This growth is above median market expectation of 6.8%.”

The first three quarters saw 7% growth, compared to the 5.7% clocked in 2015’s comparable period. Mr. Cancio said the country needs to grow this quarter by at least 3.4% to reach the 6% lower end of the full-year target, and by 6.9% to reach the 7% higher end.

Industry helped fuel economic expansion last quarter on the back of a pickup in construction and manufacturing. From 7.1% in the second quarter, industry grew 8.6% in the latest three-month period. Construction grew 15.5%, whereas manufacturing expanded by 6.9%.

Agriculture also contributed to the overall economic expansion, after turning around to a growth of 2.9% in the latest quarter from five quarters of contraction.

On the expenditure side, household spending remained a pillar of strength, having grown 7.3% in the third quarter, albeit slower than the previous quarter’s 7.4%. “The higher private consumption is supported by low inflation, low interest rates and better labor market conditions,” Mr. Cancio said.

But what fueled expansion the most was capital spending, as construction grew by 16.8%, faster than the 15.4% the previous quarter. The growth here was broad-based as both government and private sector build-up quickened.

“Our economy’s strong growth in the third quarter is a very good sign of things to come. Robust domestic demand will continue to bolster growth in the near-term,” Mr. Cancio said.

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(Photo from Manila Bulletin)

 

MANDALUYONG CITY ― Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade has accepted the resignation of Undersecretary for Railways and Tollways Noel Kintanar.

 

“Mr. Kintanar would like to give Sec. Tugade a free hand in addressing any and all misconceptions or doubts as to the impartiality and independence of the DOTr in addressing the many issues and concerns on transportation,” the DOTr said in a statement.

 

Kintanar’s resignation is effective on November 29, 2016.

 

Earlier, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has urged Sec. Tugade to fire Kintanar, undersecretary for air operations Bobby Lim and undersecretary for legal affairs Raoul Creencia for their dismal performance as well as conflict of interest while serving in the government.

 

Lim was country manager for International Air Transport Association and Creencia served as a government corporate counsel.

 

Alvarez warned that these officials with background in the private sector may use their positions to negotiate contracts with companies they were formerly employed with.

 

He also criticized Tugade for delaying the bidding of multi-billion peso priority projects for these to be included in the emergency powers measure pending in Congress.

 

Meanwhile, Assistant Sec. Cesar Chavez refused to confirm speculations that he will be assuming Kintanar’s position but stated that he was already appointed as permanent representative to the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Board.

 

Before being appointed as transportation undersecretary, Kintanar was executive vice president of Ayala Infrastructure. He was part of the Ayala Group’s investments into public private partnerships (PPP) with the government.

 

The Ayala group currently holds the contract for the Automated Fare Collection System. It also operates the Light Rail Transit Line 1 via the Light Rail Manila Consortium, which Ayala formed with Metro Pacific, DOTr, LRTA and Macquarie.

 

Transportation groups have called for his resignation due to issues over conflict of interest considering his involvement as a representative of Ayala in such projects.

 

The Speaker has accused the DOTr of delaying projects which could have been implemented immediately without need for emergency powers citing those for the supply of drivers’ licenses and the mass rail transit supplies and services.

 

Congress is currently deliberating the grant of special powers to the transportation secretary as traffic manager to solve the traffic crisis in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. 

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(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

 

MARAWI CITY― Fifty members of the Maute Group were killed while 14 soldiers were wounded in the ongoing dislodgement operations against the terror group suspected to be behind the fatal Davao City bombing in Butig, Lanao Del Sur.

 

This was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo who said the operations against the bandits started Saturday when an estimated 50 to 100 terrorists occupied parts of the town early Saturday.

 

Arevalo said the bandits' decision to hole up in Butig is a reaction to the military's ongoing offensive against the lawless band.

 

As of this posting, operations are still ongoing in the area, resulting in the killing of 55 Maute Group members, confirmed by signal and intelligence sources, and another five wounded.

 

Government losses at the moment are placed at four soldiers wounded, Arevalo said.

 

"We are already conducting operations and in anticipation of our action they (Maute Group) thought Butig will be our objective, so what they did they rushed to the place and occupied and (took defensive) positions there. Because of that, we were constrained into conducting operations to dislodge them," he added.

 

At the moment, the bandits are holed up in the old and unoccupied Butig municipal hall.

 

Operations are still ongoing as this time, Arevalo stressed.

 

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(Photo from ABS-CBN News)

 

MANILA – Did President Rodrigo Duterte passed out on Monday, Nov. 28?


The question was raised after Duterte failed to meet Bangladesh officials in Malacanang.
Palace officials said is in good condition following rumors that the chief executive passed out on his way to a meeting.

 

“We would like to assure our people that the President is in good physical and mental health. He is strong and agile and can stand the responsibilities and demands of the presidency,” said Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

 

A text message circulated among reporters that Duterte passed out just before his scheduled meeting in Malacañang.


In the afternoon, Mr. Duterte showed up and led the ceremonial inauguration of the 135-megawatt Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion Power Plant of the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) Plant at Malacanang.


Later, Malacanang released photos of Mr. Duterte meeting former President and now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Muslim leader Nur Misuari separately in Malacanang. The meetings were held in the morning of Nov. 28 when Mr. Duterte allegedly passed out.

 

The President was joined by PCPC officials led by Palm Concepcion Chairman Walter Brown and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi during the ceremonial switch- on of the coal-fired power plant located in Barangay Nipa, Concepcion, Iloilo.

 

At present, the power plant is supplying power to its customers in Panay, Negros and the rest of the Visayas.

 

”I would like to congratulate the corporation. Mr. Brown, do not worry about pollution. It’s always there. It’s up to our mankind to innovate and come up with gadgets that would compensate all these things because we cannot abandon the sources of energy,” President Duterte said in his speech.

 

The President said coal-fired electric power plants are needed for the country to entice more investors to put up businesses that would provide more jobs for more than 100 million Filipinos.

 

”Whatever is really working on fuel, we cannot really avoid…but you have to consider along the way in our course of civilization,” the President said.

 

”Coal, it’s the cheapest and probably if we use the modern technology, it’s the safest. Just be careful with the operation,” he added.

 

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By JO ERLINDA G. NEBRES

 

(Photo from GMA News)

 

MANILA (PhilAmPress) ―It's official.


Amid rumors that the Philippine hosting of the next Miss Universe pageant will be cancelled, the Department of Tourism (DOT) assured that it will definitely push through on January 30 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.


And it will be American Steve Harvey hosting the pageant which will start at 5 a.m. so it could be telecast in the United States, Canada and the Americas.


But Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo hinted at the possibility that Harvey may have a Filipino co-host.


And a popular artist with Filipino roots, probably Bruno Mars, will perform during the coronation night.

 

Teo did not name the artist, only saying that he or she is very famous in the United States.

 

“Talagang sikat na sikat na celebrity with Filipino blood (A very famous celebrity with Filipino blood),” Teo said.

 

Reporters at the press conference were quick to ask Teo if she was referring to Bruno Mars, who is behind the hit songs “Just the Way You Are” and “Grenade.”

 

The Tourism Secretary neither confirmed nor denied it and merely replied, “Ayokong magsalita (I’d rather not say anything).”

 

Other popular artists in the US who have Filipino blood include Vanessa Hudgens of “High School Musical” fame, Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, “Glee” star Darren Criss, and The Black Eyed Peas member Apl.de.Ap. and lately American Idol runner up Jessica Sanchez.

 

“I happily welcome, on behalf of the Department of Tourism, the latest announcement of the Miss Universe Organization thru Ms. Pia Wurtzbach — that finally, the Philippines will, indeed, play host to the much awaited 2016 Miss Universe pageant,” Teo said during a press conference.

 

She described the hosting of the event as not only an opportunity to showcase the wonders of the Philippines to the international community but also to witness the reigning Miss Universe pass the crown to her successor.

 

“This is one proud moment for all of us, Filipinos, to bear witness to our reigning Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of Cagayan de Oro City as she takes her final walk and passes on her crown to her successor, where else, but in her home country, the Philippines,” she added.

 

The Philippines' bet will be Maxine Medina, a 25-year-old interior designer and model. She will attempt to succeed Pia.

 

Aside from Pia, the Philippines had two other Miss Universe crowd holder - Margie Moran in 1973 and Gloria Diaz in 1969.

 

Teo said that the coronation night will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on January 30, 2017.

 

She also confirmed that Harvey will reprise his role as host of the pageant. Asked by media if Harvey would have a Filipino co-host, Teo said that she would still have to ask the Miss Universe Organization (MUO).

 

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte previously expressed disapproval of Harvey as pageant host after the latter incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the 2015 Miss Universe and Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach as the first runner-up during last year's pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

Teo has since convinced the President to give Harvey another shot at hosting the pageant, noting that Harvey is on a five-year contract to host it and has already apologized for his major blunder.

 

The tourism chief said that Cebu and Bohol are among the confirmed venues for the ancillary events.

 

Three major islands of the Philippines (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao) will be well represented and visited by the Miss Universe candidates.

 

Teo said they intend to take the Miss Universe candidates on a tour of different destinations in the Philippines to attract more visitors to the country.

 

She said the candidates will be visiting various tourist spots in the country – from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao – for photo shoots and other pageant events.

 

Some of the places she mentioned are Bicol, Davao and Iloilo.

 

“Not just Cebu, not just Boracay, not just Palawan,” she said. “I would like them (candidates) to see other places in the Philippines na hindi nafea-feature (that are not usually featured in the media)."

 

The DOT earlier assured that the government will not be spending a single centavo since the private sector will be shouldering the pageant's estimated US$11 million production cost.

 

The Philippines has hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice, in 1974 and in 1994.

 

"The Miss Universe 2016 in Manila is brought to you by the DOT, MUO, LCS Group of Companies ...in partnership with Okada Manila, SM Group of Companies, Solar Entertainment Corp, our broadcast partner."

 

"This is one proud moment for all of us Filipinos to be a witness to the reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach of Cagayan De Oro as she takes her final walk and passes her crown in her home country, the Philippines," Teo said.

 

"We are counting on you, our media partners, event partners, sponsors, to join us as we welcome the Miss Universe candidates, their followers, and their supporters from all over the world. Together, let us show them the soul of the Philippines, and our warm Filipino hospitality," Teo said.

 

It was last July when Teo announced that the Philippines will host the next Miss Universe. The pageant has so far been held in the country twice – in 1974 and 1994.

 

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(Photo from Manila Times)

 

QUEZON CITY ― Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal from public service of Senator Emmanuel Joel Villanueva after finding him liable for the misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, in 2008, when he was a congressman representating the CIBAC party-list. 

 

Villanueva said he was surprised with the decision, claiming that his signatures in the documents were forged and this was also the finding of the National Bureau of Investigation.

 

The neophyte senator said he would appeal the ruling.

 

The Ombudsman earlier suspended another senator, Joseph Victor Ejercito, for graft in connection with the use of unauthorized funds in the purchase of guns by the San Juan City government when he was still mayor.

 

Ejercito decided to follow the 90-day suspension.

 

Morales directed Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to implement the dismissal order on Villanueva, who topped the Senate race in the May 9 elections. 

 

Aside from being sacked, Villanueva will also face trial before the Sandiganbayan for two counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act and one count each for malversation of public funds and malversation through the falsification of public documents, the Office of the Ombudsman said.

 

In a statement shortly after the Ombudsman released its statement on his dismissal, Villanueva said: "I already filed a motion for reconsideration before the Ombudsman, and will leave it to the Senate President to act on the Ombudsman's order."

 

Pimentel, on the other hand, said he will refer the dismissal order on Villanueva to the Senate committee on rules, chaired by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, as he did with on Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, who was ordered suspended for 90 days by the Ombudsman, a directive the Supreme Court upheld earlier this month.

 

Ejercito, who went on "forced vacation," is facing trial for graft over the allegedly irregular purchase of firearms for San Juan City when he was mayor. 

 

But Pimentel said he would act only after the Ombudsman rules on Villanueva's motion for reconsideration.

 

“I was informed that a motion for reconsideration was filed. Hence, the Ombudsman must act on that first before I act on the communication of the Ombudsman to me, “he said.

 

In a brief statement, Villanueva insisted on his contention that his signatures on documents related to the case were forged as were some of the documents, citing one that had a Buhay party-list letterhead.

 

He also stressed that "the NBI has already made a conclusion that the signatures on the related documents were forged."

 

Villanueva also said that, "as a minority congressman then, I did not receive that amount."

 

"In any case, my faith is strong in the judicial system and in time, justice will be served," he added.

 

Charged with Villanuva are former Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap, Villanueva’s staff Ronald Samonte, DA employee Delia Ladera, NABCOR (National Agri-business Corporation) representatives Alan Javellana, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Rhodora Mendoza, and Maria Ninez Guanizo; and Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc. president Alfredo Ronquillo.

 

The case stems from the release of P10 million from Villanueva’s pork barrel. It was the then congressman who requested Yap to release the funds to NABCOR as implementing agency and AFPI as the NGO-partner. 

 

The money was supposed to purchase seedlings, liquid fertilizer and threshers from MJ Rickson Trading Corporation for beneficiaries in the towns of Pantukan, Nabunturan, Tambongon, Bongabong, Napnapan, Mipangi, Anislagan and Magsaysay in Compostela Valley province.

 

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(Photo from Rappler)

 

QUEZON CITY ― Embattled Senator Leila de Lima has finally admitted having had an affair with her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan who the government claims was a “bagman” in deals with convicted drug dealers at the National Bilibid Prison.

 

De Lima made the admission to television host and columnist Winnie Monsod in an interview on GMA News TV program "Bawal ang Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie" Monday night.

 

The senator, who was Justice Secretary at the time, said her affair with Dayan, who was married but who De Lima said was separated from his wife, lasted for “a few years.”

 

De Lima described her involvement with her driver as "frailties of a woman."

 

She said Dayan resigned as her driver in 2015 and their relationship ended before she ran for senator in the May elections.

 

De Lima also denied funding the construction of Dayan’s house in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan although she admitted contributing money towards building it.

 

Asked by Monsod why she fell for Dayan, De Lima said they had become “so close” because she “trusted him.”

 

Earlier, De Lima said she does not believe Dayan was involved in the drug trade and had been using her.

 

Complaints against De Lima have been filed before the Department of Justice over her alleged involvement in the proliferation of drugs in the NBP, accusations first raised by President Rodrigo Duterte, who also vilified her for her affair with Dayan.

 

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