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DAVAO CITY  President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a proclamation declaring a "‘State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence,” a departure from his announced proclamation of state of lawlessness earlier in Davao City. 

 

Duterte immediately got the backing of Congress on his proclamation.

 

In the House of Representatives, former President and now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lauded the President for his timely action to halt the spread of violence in the country.

 

Senators earlier allayed public fears over Duterte’s declaration of a state of lawlessness or a state of lawless violence in the aftermath of the Davao City bomb attack last Friday.

 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel II and Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri expressed support for the President’s declaration, even though it has “sparked concerns” that the country is veering towards military rule.

 

"The Chief Executive himself denied that it was Martial Law and assured that it does not involve the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus,” Zubiri said in his privilege speech.

 

“We have nothing to be afraid of, much more doubt the intent of the President,” he said, emphasizing that the declaration does not entail the suspension of any rights under the Constitution or set the stage for Martial law.

 

Zubiri further said that the three branches of government are still functional.

In Davao City, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the President signed the one-page proclamation shortly before leaving for the ASEAN Summit in Laos.

 

Medialdea said that the spate of terror attacks like kidnappings, beheadings and finally the Davao night market bombing prodded the President to issue the proclamation.

 

He also stressed it is not martial law, no curfew is being imposed and there is no timeline for its implementation.

 

“The President will decide until he sees order and safety restored,” Medialdea said.

 

 Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs Christian Ablan said  that among the salient points of the proclamation was the President’s order for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to undertake measures permitted by the Constitution and laws to suppress all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao.

 

The President also commanded the AFP and the PNP to prevent lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country with due regard to fundamental and civil political rights.

 

“The state of national emergency shall remain in force until lifted or withdrawn by the President,” Ablan said.

 

“State of lawless violence merely calls out the military or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to do law enforcement operations normally done only by the Philippine National Police (PNP),” Zubiri said.

 

“It is precisely for the purpose of suppressing lawless violence. It is to complement and supplement the capability of the PNP,” he added.

 

Zubiri cited how former president Joseph Estrada declared a state of lawlessness when he directed the AFP and PNP chiefs to coordinate in the deployment of Marines for a temporary period in Metro Manila, and the Supreme Court upheld it.

 

The senator also cited former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who declared lawlessness in 2003 after the bombing of the Sasa Wharf and airport in Davao City.

 

“It is my position that now is the best time to support the President to curtail lawlessness and suppress its spread throughout the nation,” Zubiri said.

 

Asked if there should be fears of abuses, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, like Zubiri, said there is “nothing to be worried about”.

 

“Martial Law is toothless under the Constitution. Because of our bad experience of Martial Law in 1970s when we passed the new Constitution, Martial Law has barely any effect,” Escudero said in an ambush interview.

 

“Even if Martial Law is declared, Congress is not abolished, in fact Congress has the power to either affirm or reverse any such declaration,” he added.

 

Escudero said that declaring a state of lawless violence is under the discretion of the President and could cover the entire country or it could be in pockets. However, the Supreme Court has the power to reverse it, he said.

 

“Only the courts can reverse or modify it. Anyone can go to Supreme Court to question the declaration. There is no jurisprudence that says it can be verbal, it needs presidential proclamation or an administrative order to implement it,” Escudero said.

 

He however noted the need to explain what it means exactly so it does not create public panic.

 

“There is no effect in civil liberties, no effect in rights under the bill of rights, no effect in normal activities of citizens except using soldiers in citizens to combat this,” he added. 

 

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PASAY CITY − The Department of Transportation has identified P51.11 billion worth of road sector projects to solve the traffic woes in the metropolis under the proposed emergency powers to be granted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Services chaired by Senator Grace Poe, the list of projects it plans to implement from 2016-19 to help address heavy traffic congestion, especially in Metro Manila.

 

For the road sector alone, the project with the highest cost is the P39.44-billion Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 2, which will traverse a 48.6-kilometer (km) route that covers EDSA, Ayala, Ortigas-BGC to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The project’s timeline is 2016-18.

 

With emergency powers, this particular project is targeted to be implemented from 2016 until the last quarter of 2018, faster than the second quarter of 2020 target date of completion without emergency power.

 

Second highest in terms of amount is the Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 1, P4.7 billion, which has a timeline of 2016-19. It will traverse a 12.3-km route from Manila to Quezon City. Without emergency power, its target date of completion is the third quarter of 2021 or later.

 

Another project is the Integrated Transport System Southwest Terminal along the Coastal Road part in Paranaque City, P3.15 billion. It is projected to start operations by June 2018 with emergency power but without the emergency power its construction is set to start this year but completion date remains unknown due to possible temporary restraining orders (TROs) and injunctions by affected stakeholders.

 

The South Terminal of the integrated transport system at the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) compound in the Taguig City, worth P2.2 billion, is also projected to start operations by 2018 if the proposed emergency power is granted but without it, the date of completion of the project is also uncertain.

 

Also part of the projects for immediate implementation is the improvement of existing national roads worth P1.59 billion.

 

In terms of policies, DOTr said it plans to rationalize public transport system in the metropolis, map out secondary routes, unify franchising policy, and prohibit bus terminals along major roads.

It also wants public utility vehicles (PUVs) to be modernized and to have enough parking spaces. Additional new emission testing centers are also being eyed along with the transfer of the DOTr Central Office from Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila to Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga.

 

For the rail sector, some of the projects include the procurement of new train coaches, extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 to Cavite, extension of the LRT Line 2 to Masinag, Antipolo and to Pier 4; procurement of new carts and general overhaul of MRT Line 3 to increase its passenger capacity; construction of LRT 4 from Taytay, Rizal to Pureza in Manila, and the LRT Line 5 that would connect Central Business Districts (CBD) in Makati City and nearby areas.

 

Also, the construction of LRT 7 from North EDSA to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan via Commonwealth Ave.; extension of Philippine National Railways (PNR) North Commuter line from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos, Bulacan and to Clark, Pampanga; extension of PNR South Commuter line from Tutuban to Los Banos, Laguna; and construction of the Mindanao Rail, Cebu Rail, and Central Philippines Rail.

 

For air transport, the proposed projects to be covered by the emergency power are airport improvements such as construction of exit taxiways, runway overlay and putting up of additional closed-circuit television (CCTVs), improvements in domestic airports to allow night time flights, and decongestion of NAIA traffic.

 

”Legislation is needed to allow the government to redistribute air traffic while promoting air connectivity in other alternative gateways,” DOTr said.

 

DOTr also submitted a draft Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act, which states that declaration of traffic and congestion crisis in greater Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas would be made if the problem “have assumed the nature and magnitude of a national emergency.”

 

To address the problem, the proposed measure would allow the President of the country to reorganize and rationalize the existing structure of the DOTr, the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and other transportation-related government agencies.

 

DOTr said the proposed emergency power may last up to three years “unless sooner withdrawn by a joint resolution of Congress.”

 

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DAVAO CITY − Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio wants authorities to get the Roxas night market alive and tell all about terror plans after Friday's explosion.

 

“We want him alive because we want all the necessary information we can get from him," she said after Monday's flag-raising ceremony.

 

"We want to talk to him and find out who ordered the bombing and why it was carried out. We want to know who his cohorts are, their group, and their other terror plans," she added.

 

Sara earlier offered P2-million bounty for the person who can give information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators of the Sept. 2 Roxas night market explosion and the person who can deliver them alive to the authorities.

 

Sara admitted the business sector in Davao City helped her raise the other Php 1 million of the total amount as their counterpart.

 

"The business sector in Davao pledged to help run after the perpetrator because the bomb explosion also threatened their businesses," she said.

 

The mayor made the announcement as she apologized to the public especially the victims and their families on the tragic incident. "

 

While she took full responsibility over the incident, the mayor, however, announced she asked for the relief of Davao City Police Office (DCPO) chief Sr. Supt. Michael John Dubria and Philippine Army’s Task Force Davao commander Col. Henry Robinson.

 

She said she asked names from PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa that she can choose from to replace DCPO and TF Davao.

 

In a talk with dela Rosa on Saturday night, Sara said he promised to give her names she can choose to head DCPO.

 

The mayor also named retired army officer Benito de leon as head of Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), which is temporarily headed by Emmanuel Jaldon in concurrence to his position as chief of Emergency Central 911 Response Center. Jaldon stays as 911 chief.

 

Sara said she wanted new people with new ideas.

 

She assured the public they would do their best to avoid a repeat of the incident which she described as terrorist act.

 

"It was meant to kill. It was an explosive. It was clearly an act of terrorism. "kailangan po namin ang tulong ninyo (We need your help)," she said. 

 

 

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QUEZON CITY ― In view of President Rodrigo Duterte's promise to prioritize poor fishermen in the use of the Laguna de Bay or Laguna Lake, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez  said she will issue a directive for the dismantling of big fish pens and revoke permits given to big corporations operating at the lake.

 

The move is to develop and manage huge portions of the Laguna Lake to give out new entitlements, with farmers having the priority. 

 

Lopez said said she plans to convert the lake into an eco-tourism zone.

 

"We are going a step further, we're gonna convert the whole Laguna Lake into a magnificent eco-tourism zone, which is special like no other," Lopez said.

 

But Lopez did not tell when the plan will start.

 

The DENR chief noted that she is looking into the possibility of "maneuvering" domestic wastes from 400,000 households around the Laguna Lake so that it will not come to the water.

 

"Itong Laguna Lake, naubos na nga... wala na ang (para sa mga maliliit na) fishermen. 'Yun na lang the difference between one big fishpen to the other... Makikita mo sa plane, every time I go to Davao and I pass by that place there, nakita ko talagang wala nang ano (para sa maliliit na mangingisda). And the fishermen are complaining about the loss. Talagang wala na sila. Kasi ang maliit na lugar, iyon lang ang kanila (Small fishermen making a living out of the Laguna Lake are left with very little area to ply their trade, with most areas allocated for private fish pens owned by big corporations. I can see it from the plane every time I go to Davao. Every time I can see that there’s really nothing left, and the fishermen are complaining about their loss, because they have very little left for them)," the President said in his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).

 

"This is what I’m telling you, the poor fishermen will have priority in its entitlements," he stressed.

 

As of June 30, 2016, there are 357 registered and unregistered fishpen owners operating at the Laguna de Bay, according to the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).

 

Former LLDA Chairman Edgardo Manda earlier said the entitlements currently held by big corporations may range from 50 to 1,000 hectares of the lake surface.

 

He said some corporations now have big entitlements by merging those entitlements granted to their dummies.

 

Manda noted that some 20 percent of the 90,000-hectare lake surface of the Laguna Lake is now covered by entitlements granted to private corporations or individuals to manage and develop fish pens.

 

The Laguna Lake is the largest lake in the Philippines and one of the largest in Southeast Asia.

In view of its multiplicity of uses and benefits, its basin is the most important, dynamic and among the fastest-growing economic bases in the country. It has become the catch basin to Metro Manila’s population and urbanization/ industrialization overspill.

 

As the region has developed, the lake has suffered increasing levels of agricultural, industrial and domestic wastewater pollution.

 

The possible consequences of the rapid swelling of population include food and water shortage, worsening traffic congestion and environmental degradation, thus significantly affecting Laguna de Bay and its environs.

 

Problems such as pollution and waste primarily from domestic and agricultural sources; multiple and often conflicting water uses; vulnerability of lake shore settlements and developments to flood hazards and related health and economic risks, and indecision over resettlement; poorly regulated developments on the shore land, and critical watersheds inclusive of tenurial constraints, database management and monitoring; and fragmented utility infrastructure developments, including silting and development regulations of these investments contribute to the degradation of the lake.

 

In its draft medium-term development plan, the LLDA has recommended to intensify waste and pollution control through adaptive waste management systems primarily for domestic and agricultural sources; rationalize water use zoning to harmonize all uses within the lake including navigation and water-related waste management infrastructure; promote security of lake shore communities from flooding, health risks and minimize economic displacement through effective flood control programs and appropriate resettlement plans; rationalize watershed -- and shore land -- specific management policies based on validated threshold and vulnerability to sustain their ecological functions focused on incentive-based regulations and adaptive co-management systems; rationalize service and infrastructure-based network support for environmental management and sustainable economic uses of lake basin resources; rationalize ecotourism potential as development driver and promote lake-sensitive ecotourism developments; and adopt innovative financing schemes beyond regulatory fee collection, among others.


Duterte vowed the Laguna Lake "shall be transformed into a vibrant economic zone showcasing ecotourism by addressing the negative impact of a watershed destruction, land conversion and pollution."e doesn't go into the lake or gets clean before it goes to the lake. If we can maneuver that...the lake is clean, the water is clean," Lopez said.

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MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will reveal "soon" the names of at least 27 local executives allegedly involved in illegal drug activities, according Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

 

Two of the execs have actually presented themselves to him and pleaded that they be not shamed and their family by including them in Duterte's list. The two offered to resign but the Chief Executive refused to accept, saying a thorough investigation is ongoing.

 

Also, a mayor of Leyte has presented himself to Philippine National Police chief Roland dela Rosa in Camp Crame after the President gave him and his son, said to be the top drug lord in the Visayas, 24 hours to surrender or be killed. 

 

”Until now, talaga nasa kaniya iyong listahan. Pero hindi na po tatagal at ire-report na rin po niya sa publiko (The President has the list and will soon announce it to the public),” Abella said.

 

Abella refused to provide further details but said: “You’ll  be surprised, it's interesting after his report. Hintayin na lang po natin iyong report ni Presidente (We just have to wait for the President's announcement).”

 

Earlier, presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo told mediamen in Malacanang that the list is composed of 27 local executives provided by the government intelligence group.

 

”My God, you will be shocked,” Panelo said.

 

Much like the five generals named by the President early last month, Panelo said the local executives will also be investigated.

 

The five generals identified by the President include: PNP Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr.; former National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Joel Pagdilao; Western Visayas regional director, Chief Superintendent Bernardo Diaz; Quezon City Police District director, Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio; and retired police general Vicente “Vic” Loot.

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MANILA ― United States Secretary of State John Kerry has visited the Philippines again and this time met President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang.

 

Kerry is the first American Cabinet official to meet with Duterte since the latter's inauguration on June 30. 


He  discussed the proposed resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following an international court ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month.

 

"I encourage President Duterte to engage in dialogue, in negotiations," Kerry told reporters in Laos prior to landing in Manila.

 

Kerry met Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay before heading to Malacañang to call on Duterte. Afterwards, Duterte will meet with the National Security Council at the Palace.

 

Kerry added a stop in the Philippines after spending the past two days in meetings in Laos for a series of regional meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting, and the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting.

 

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi had asked Kerry to lend his support for bilateral talks to restart between Manila and Beijing in a meeting between the two in the Laos capital of Vientiane on Monday.

 

"The foreign minister said the time has come to move away from public tensions and turn the page," Kerry told a news conference. "And we agree with that... no claimant should be acting in a way that is provocative, no claimant should take steps that wind up raising tensions."

 

China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by the U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which U.S. ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory.

 

China's dismissal of the court ruling as illegitimate presented a challenge, Kerry said. The international community, including the United States, sees the ruling as legally binding and a matter of law, he added.

 

"So we still have a task ahead of us, a challenge, which is to try to work going forward to make sure that we are resolving the issues through diplomacy and the rule of law," he said.

 

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

 

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tensions in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute, accusations Washington denies.

 

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QUEZON CITY — The camp of former President and now Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss her graft and breach of code of conduct cases in connection with the botched US$329-million national broadband deal.

 

In three separate demurrer to evidence filed with Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, Arroyo, through her lawyers Laurence Arroyo and Jesi Howard Lanete, asked the court to dismiss her cases of violation of Section 3 (g) and 3 (i) of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 7 (d) of RA 6713 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

 

A demurrer to evidence seeks the dismissal of the case halfway through the trial based solely on the evidence presented by the prosecution.

 

Her lawyers said there was no longer a need for their camp to present counter evidence as the prosecution's own evidence was weak enough to warrant the cases' dismissal since it supposedly cannot prove her "guilt beyond reasonable doubt."

 

"Reasonable doubt, according to the Supreme Court, 'is the inability to let the judicial mind rest easy upon the certainty of guilt after a thorough investigation of the whole evidence.' The prosecution's evidence does not meet this exacting standard. In fact, the prosecution's evidence does not even come close to meeting this standard," Mrs. Arroyo's demurrer read.

 

Section 3 (g) of RA 3019 prohibits public official from entering into a contract that is disadvantageous to the government while Section 3 (i) prohibits public officials from having direct or indirect interest or personal gain in a contract or transaction that requires the approval of his or her office.

 

Section 7 (d) of RA 6713, meanwhile, prohibits public officials from soliciting or accepting gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment loan or anything of monetary value which may affect the functions of his or her office.

 

Rescinded contract

In her demurrers, Arroyo dismissed the prosecution’s allegation that the national broadband network (NBN) deal between the Philippine government and Chinese company Zhing Xing Telecommunications Equipment Inc. (ZTE) was overpriced by more than 50 percent as the actual cost of the project was supposedly only USD130 million yet the approved contract was pegged at USD329 million.

 

Arroyo’s camp pointed out that the prosecution failed to submit the original copy of the NBN contract and its attachments, thus the allegation is baseless.

 

“The prosecution did not present the original of the NBN Contract and failed to lay the basis for the introduction of secondary evidence. The NBN Contract that the prosecution offered into evidence is incomplete. It lacked several attachments,” Arroyo’s motion read.

 

The defense’s camp also reiterated that the NBN contract entered in China on April 21 2007 was eventually cancelled by Mrs. Arroyo on Oct. 2, 2007 after receiving reports of its alleged irregularities.

 

Her camp said that based on previous Supreme Court and Sandiganbayan rulings, “a rescinded contract is a non-existent contract and, hence, cannot be a basis for filing charges of violation of Section 3 (g) of RA 3019. Even assuming arguendo that the NBN Contract is admissible and assuming further that it became effective and was not cancelled, the prosecution failed to prove that it is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the Government,” the former chief executive’s demurrer read.

 

“The prosecution failed to prove its allegations that the ‘actual cost of the ZTE proposal for the National Broadband Project was only USD130 million but was finally pegged and overpriced at USD329 million,’” it added.

 

Her camp also dismissed the prosecution’s claim that the proposal of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI) owned by prosecution witness Jose “Joey” De Venecia III is more advantageous to the government and yet undue preference was given to ZTE.

 

Arroyo’s camp noted that De Venecia himself during the hearing of the case has already admitted that AHI’s proposal covered only up to the third class municipalities, leaving out the fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities, while another witness of the prosecution, Engineer Dante Madriaga, testified that the ZTE proposal covered 100% of the Philippines.

 

“It is theory of the prosecution that the NBN Contract is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government because AHI’s proposal is supposedly superior to it. Yet, the prosecution failed to present AHI’s written proposal,” Mrs. Arroyo’s camp added.

 

Arroyo also belied the allegation of the prosecution that she fast-tracked the approval of the contract, saying that even the prosecution’s own witnesses National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) officials Ruben Reynoso and Fortunato Abrenilla both testified that the NBN proposal went through “several layers of review” before reaching the NEDA Board.

 

“This is a clear case of persecution rather than prosecution. The NEDA Board unanimously approved the NBN project upon the recommendation of the NEDA Infrastructure Staff, NEDA ICC Secretariat, and NEDA Technical Board,”Arroyo’s motion read.

 

“Yet, the Ombudsman maliciously singled out President Arroyo for approving a contract that is supposedly manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government. It is the NEDA Board, not the President of the Philippines, which has the power to approve projects such as the NBN project,” it added.

 

Arroyo’s camp said the prosecution also failed to present any evidence that would prove that she has personal interest or gain in the approval of the NBN deal.

 

“Moreover, no one brought to the NEDA Board’s attention any irregularity or anomaly. Such fact too negates criminal intent,” she added.

 

Arroyo also belied the allegation that the NEDA Board’s decision to resort to direct contracting instead of a public bidding was not supported by a legal opinion from the Department of Justice.

 

“The allegation in the Information [of the case] that there was an absence of DOJ opinion whether the contract is exempted from the coverage of public bidding is false. The prosecution in fact, offered into evidence the DOJ Opinion dated 26 July 2007 (Exhibit “QQ”),” the motion read.

 

Arroyo’s camp said that the prosecution’s allegation that she received gifts and favor from ZTE such as a free golf game and lunch in China is baseless and immaterial.

 

“The prosecution failed to prove that it was ZTE that paid for the golf game of President Arroyo. Even assuming arguendo that it was ZTE that paid for the golf game of President Arroyo, the value of the golf game is of nominal or insignificant value,” the motion read.

 

“It is absurd to suggest that the fee for the golf game was given in anticipation of or in exchange for the granting of a multi-billion peso project,” it added.

 

With regard to the alleged free lunch, Arroyo’s lawyers said the prosecution could not even ascertain its value or if the former president had eaten this supposed free lunch at all.

 

“Wherefore, accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo respectfully prays that the Honorable Court acquit her and dismiss the case(s) against her on the ground that the prosecution has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she violated Section 3 (g) of RA No. 3019...Section 3 (i) of RA No. 3019…[and] Section 7 (d) of RA No. 6713,” Mrs. Arroyo’s demurrers read.

 

Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, had filed his own demurrer last week also asking the court to acquit him based on the prosecution’s supposed weak evidence.

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Ex-President loses immunity, accountable for illegal ‘pork,’ others

 

(Photo from Philippine Star)

 

QUEZON (via PhilAmPress) — After losing immunity from suits, former President Benigno S. Aquino III is now facing several criminal charges for acts committed while he was in Malacanang, including graft and malversation in connection with the use of pork barrel funds called the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which had been ruled as unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court.

 

 Another complaint Mr. Aquino is facing at the Office of the Ombudsman is in connection with the failed Mamasapano, Maguindanao operations in which 60 people were killed, 44 of them members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police.  

 

The complaint was filed by relatives of some of the slain SAF police operatives and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption a day after Mr. Aquino stepped down from office.

 

 Aquino immediately branded the accusations against him as "absurd," adding that the new case may only set up the families of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos "for even more suffering."

 

Over 60 people died, including 44 SAF troopers, in the Philippine National Police (PNP) operation to arrest top international terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.

 

Relatives of two slain SAF commandos and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide against Aquino, dismissed PNP Chief Alan Purisima and former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas.

 

They want the Ombudsman to investigate the three's liability in the deaths of the 44 SAF troopers.

 

The complainants are Erlina Aliaga, mother of PO3 Robert Dommolog Aliaga; Warlito Mejia, father of PO2 Ephraim Mejia; and the VACC represented by Dante Jimenez and Arsenio Evangelista.

 

The group based their complaints on the results of the Senate investigation and the report of the PNP Board of Inquiry on the Mamasapano incident.

 

The complaint stated that Aquino, Napeñas and Purisima "acted with inexcusable negligence and imprudence, utter lack of precaution and foresight on their part and they are therefore probably guilty of criminal negligence and reckless imprudence, which were the direct and proximate causes of the death of the forty-four (44) members of the PNP-SAF."

 

"Negligence, imprudence lack of foresight, lack of skill, wala pong criminal intent na patayin, ngunit dahil sa kapabayaan may namatay po," said Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, one of the lawyers who drafted the complaint.

  

Mr. Aquino and former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio B. Abad were charged with graft, technical malversation of funds and usurpation of legislative powers before the Office of the Ombudsman last Friday in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

 

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Chair Dante Jimenez, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes filed the complaint against Aquino and Abad.

 

The DAP was a savings impounding mechanism which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2014.

 

The DAP was considered by critics as the pork barrel under the Aquino administration.

 

The legislative pork Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was scrapped by the SC at the height of the so-called pork barrel scam.

 

Jimenez argued that Aquino and Abad should be held liable for technical malversation for diverting DAP funds for pet projects of the former President.

 

He added that the two former government officials should also be held liable for usurpation of legislative powers for usurping the powers of the purse of Congress.

 

Zarate said that the two should also be charged with graft and corruption.

 

"The DAP was nothing more than the presidential pork barrel taken from forced savings then realigned for pet projects of the President," he said.

 

"It was not a stimulus program as many of the projects approved by Aquino had nothing to do with stimulating the economy," Zarate added.

 

He said that funds from DAP were also used to bribe lawmakers to impeach the late Chief Justice Renato Coronado Corona.

 

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QUEZON CITY — Lawmakers led by Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte’s second district has filed a resolution calling Congress to constitute itself into a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution and consider a new form of government, a federal system as espoused by President Rodrigo Duterte.

 

Others led by outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon and incoming Senate leader Aquilino Pimentel II and incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, want a constitutional commission whose members are elected to do the job.

 

Former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has also her own bill pushed for amendments to the constitution of 1987.

 

In the resolution, Barbers called on his fellow legislators to consider adopting the Constitutionally-allowed means of revising the Constitution, that of constituting Congress into a Constituent Assembly, and said that it is less divisive and cost-effective.

 

He said that the 1987 Constitution allows but two methods for revision, either through a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) where delegates are to be elected nationwide, or through a Constituent Assembly (ConAss), where Congress through its “constituent power” constitutes itself into a body and perform the task of revising the Constitution.

 

ConCon is being supported by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon and a host of congressmen and senators.

 

“In both cases, however, the end product will still need the ratification by the Filipino people through a plebiscite. It is still up to the people if they want to accept the new Constitution or reject it,” Barbers explained.

 

He said that people’s initiative is only allowed in cases of amending the Constitution.

 

“Amendment pertains to certain provisions only of the Constitution while revision pertains to reviewing, changing and replacing the entire Constitution or any of its parts,” he said.

 

The Surigao del Norte lawmaker said that the advantage of ConAss is that there is no need for another costly and divisive national elections.

 

Since the Constitution itself, as ratified by the people, allows ConAss, Congress will not be in bad faith if it adopts this method, he said.

 

“Considering further that in case of ConCon elections, local politicians will be suspected of fielding their proxies just the same, so the same perceived doubt and mistrust will still overshadow the ConCon. So if you analyze it, there is really no difference in terms of the feared perception of the people whether you adopt ConAss or ConCon,” Barbers said.

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(Photo from ABS-CBN News)

 

MANILA — Before vowing out, Senator Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcos, Jr. personally filed before the Supreme Court (SC), which serves as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), his election protest against the victory of Vice-President-elect Leni Robredo.

 

In the more than 1,000-page petition, Marcos asked the PET to nullify the proclamation of Robredo and declare him as the duly-elected Vice-President in the May 9, 2016 national elections.

 

Aside from the petition itself, Marcos also submitted before the SC the 20,000-page affidavit, certificates of canvass and other supporting documents, which he said, would clearly prove the massive electoral fraud committed in the history of the country.

 

According to Atty. George Garcia, legal counsel of Marcos, through fraud, anomaly and irregularities, the votes of Robredo increased while the votes of Marcos decreased to make it appear the he only placed second in the elections.

 

The camp of Marcos also asked the PET for the reopening of the ballot boxes in 36,465 clustered precincts being protested, including the Cebu Province, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Samar, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cebu City, Zamboanga and Bukidnon, which were considered as bailiwicks of Marcos.

 

Marcos further asked the PET to nullify the election results in Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao at Basilan, and to have a recount in the 22 provinces and five cities.

 

Marcos argued that their petition is consisting of three parts which detail how the electoral fraud was committed.

 

Firstly, he said, was the irregularity in the Automated Election System (AES); secondly, the traditional means of fraud such as vote-buying, pre-shading and failure of elections; and thirdly, the alteration made by the Smartmatic in the hash code of the transparency server.

 

It can be recalled that Robredo won by more than 260,000 votes against Marcos in the vice-presidential elections.

 

 

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