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Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:05 AM
I think it is time we devoted a separate thread already for cops and robbers, and other law enforcement, separate from the general legal-legalan thread.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:07 AM
Murder raps set vs Marantan et al.

NBI findings to be sent to Aquino today

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:05 am | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Murder.

The National Bureau of Investigation has completed its inquiry into the killing of 13 people in Atimonan, Quezon province, and is recommending the filing of murder charges against policemen and soldiers at the checkpoint where the incident happened on Jan. 6, the Inquirer learned Tuesday.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she expected the NBI to submit to her the report on its monthlong inquiry and that she would turn it over to President Aquino on Wednesday.

“The President has asked me about the report and I told him I would give it to him (Wednesday),” De Lima told reporters. She earlier said that the NBI report had gone beyond 300 pages.

“The recommendation was the filing of murder charges,” said a source who has knowledge of the NBI report. The source requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak to reporters.

The source said that the main report of at least 70 pages contains the findings and the names of persons recommended by the NBI for prosecution. Enclosed with the report were annexes at least six inches thick. It includes the technical findings of the scene of the crime operatives, the accounts of three eyewitnesses and testimonies of more than 60 people.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas submitted the report to De Lima Tuesday afternoon, according to the source, who said that the agency’s chief was the sole signatory to the document.

On Jan. 6, alleged southern Luzon “jueteng” operator Victor “Vic” Siman and 12 others, including three policemen and three soldiers, were killed in what the Quezon police reported as a shootout between police and soldiers and a group of alleged guns for hire at a security checkpoint on Maharlika Highway in Atimonan.

There were 15 policemen at the checkpoint, supported by 10 soldiers from the Army’s First Special Forces Battalion.

Siman’s group was wiped out, but on the government’s side only the police team leader, Supt. Hansel Marantan, was wounded—in the hands and knee.

Relatives cry ‘rubout’

The officers said the firefight erupted after two sports utility vehicles carrying the alleged gang members tried to smash through the checkpoint. The exchange of gunfire supposedly lasted for 18 minutes.

Relatives of the victims denied that the fatalities were gang members and doubted the initial reports of a shootout. Instead, they claimed what happened was a “rubout.”

On Jan. 8, President Aquino ordered the NBI to investigate the incident. He directed the Philippine National Police to continue its fact-finding inquiry with respect to the firearms and vehicles, and submit its findings to the NBI.

On Jan. 9, PNP Director General Alan Purisima ordered the suspension of the Quezon police chief, Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, and Marantan.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Marantan’s team violated procedures as an initial PNP investigation found that the policemen at the checkpoint were not in uniform. He said that while uniformed officers were stationed 500 meters from the checkpoint, the area was not marked with police signs.

Anticrime superbody

On Jan. 11, the NBI said it would expand its investigation and look into the role in the incident of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), following a report that the anticrime superbody had approved the operation.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who chairs the PAOCC, denied approving the operation.

Supt. Glenn Dumlao, commander of the Calabarzon Public Safety Battalion, said the regional police went ahead with the mission even without PAOCC approval on the presumption of regularity because it was their job to go after organized crime groups.

On Jan. 15, the PNP fact-finding committee submitted its report to the NBI, and indicated that there was no shootout. It also said there was a deliberate effort to make the crime scene look like the site of a gun battle.

The committee found that excessive force was used, indicated by their gunshot wounds and the number of bullet holes on their vehicles: Vehicle 1 with 174 entry bullet holes; vehicle 2 with 45 entry bullet holes. Eleven victims were shot in the head.

Criminal, admin charges

The PNP panel recommended the filing of criminal charges against the policemen and Army special forces that took part in the supposed shootout. They also recommended administrative charges against the policemen involved.

The policemen included James Melad, former Calabarzon police chief; Marantan; Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, Quezon police director; Supt. Ramon Balauag, chief of intelligence of the Quezon police; Dumlao; Chief Insp. Grant Gollod, Atimonan police chief; Senior Insp. Ferdinand Aguilar, leader of the police team at the first of three checkpoints in Atimonan at the time of the supposed shootout; and Insp. Evaristo San Juan, team leader at the third checkpoint.

On Jan. 24, Purisima approved the recommendation of the PNP Internal Affairs Service to bring administrative charges against 22 policemen involved in the incident for violation of the police operational procedures.

As of last week, 20 policemen were under the custody of the police in Camp Crame while 15 soldiers of the Army’s Special Forces, who were part of an augmentation team, were restricted to quarters at the Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.—With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:07 AM
Murder raps set vs Marantan et al.

NBI findings to be sent to Aquino today

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:05 am | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Murder.

The National Bureau of Investigation has completed its inquiry into the killing of 13 people in Atimonan, Quezon province, and is recommending the filing of murder charges against policemen and soldiers at the checkpoint where the incident happened on Jan. 6, the Inquirer learned Tuesday.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she expected the NBI to submit to her the report on its monthlong inquiry and that she would turn it over to President Aquino on Wednesday.

“The President has asked me about the report and I told him I would give it to him (Wednesday),” De Lima told reporters. She earlier said that the NBI report had gone beyond 300 pages.

“The recommendation was the filing of murder charges,” said a source who has knowledge of the NBI report. The source requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak to reporters.

The source said that the main report of at least 70 pages contains the findings and the names of persons recommended by the NBI for prosecution. Enclosed with the report were annexes at least six inches thick. It includes the technical findings of the scene of the crime operatives, the accounts of three eyewitnesses and testimonies of more than 60 people.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas submitted the report to De Lima Tuesday afternoon, according to the source, who said that the agency’s chief was the sole signatory to the document.

On Jan. 6, alleged southern Luzon “jueteng” operator Victor “Vic” Siman and 12 others, including three policemen and three soldiers, were killed in what the Quezon police reported as a shootout between police and soldiers and a group of alleged guns for hire at a security checkpoint on Maharlika Highway in Atimonan.

There were 15 policemen at the checkpoint, supported by 10 soldiers from the Army’s First Special Forces Battalion.

Siman’s group was wiped out, but on the government’s side only the police team leader, Supt. Hansel Marantan, was wounded—in the hands and knee.

Relatives cry ‘rubout’

The officers said the firefight erupted after two sports utility vehicles carrying the alleged gang members tried to smash through the checkpoint. The exchange of gunfire supposedly lasted for 18 minutes.

Relatives of the victims denied that the fatalities were gang members and doubted the initial reports of a shootout. Instead, they claimed what happened was a “rubout.”

On Jan. 8, President Aquino ordered the NBI to investigate the incident. He directed the Philippine National Police to continue its fact-finding inquiry with respect to the firearms and vehicles, and submit its findings to the NBI.

On Jan. 9, PNP Director General Alan Purisima ordered the suspension of the Quezon police chief, Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, and Marantan.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Marantan’s team violated procedures as an initial PNP investigation found that the policemen at the checkpoint were not in uniform. He said that while uniformed officers were stationed 500 meters from the checkpoint, the area was not marked with police signs.

Anticrime superbody

On Jan. 11, the NBI said it would expand its investigation and look into the role in the incident of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), following a report that the anticrime superbody had approved the operation.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who chairs the PAOCC, denied approving the operation.

Supt. Glenn Dumlao, commander of the Calabarzon Public Safety Battalion, said the regional police went ahead with the mission even without PAOCC approval on the presumption of regularity because it was their job to go after organized crime groups.

On Jan. 15, the PNP fact-finding committee submitted its report to the NBI, and indicated that there was no shootout. It also said there was a deliberate effort to make the crime scene look like the site of a gun battle.

The committee found that excessive force was used, indicated by their gunshot wounds and the number of bullet holes on their vehicles: Vehicle 1 with 174 entry bullet holes; vehicle 2 with 45 entry bullet holes. Eleven victims were shot in the head.

Criminal, admin charges

The PNP panel recommended the filing of criminal charges against the policemen and Army special forces that took part in the supposed shootout. They also recommended administrative charges against the policemen involved.

The policemen included James Melad, former Calabarzon police chief; Marantan; Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, Quezon police director; Supt. Ramon Balauag, chief of intelligence of the Quezon police; Dumlao; Chief Insp. Grant Gollod, Atimonan police chief; Senior Insp. Ferdinand Aguilar, leader of the police team at the first of three checkpoints in Atimonan at the time of the supposed shootout; and Insp. Evaristo San Juan, team leader at the third checkpoint.

On Jan. 24, Purisima approved the recommendation of the PNP Internal Affairs Service to bring administrative charges against 22 policemen involved in the incident for violation of the police operational procedures.

As of last week, 20 policemen were under the custody of the police in Camp Crame while 15 soldiers of the Army’s Special Forces, who were part of an augmentation team, were restricted to quarters at the Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.—With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:09 AM
11 police officers get sanctions over P131M rubber-boat scandal

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:56 am | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has imposed administrative sanctions ranging from dismissal from service and forfeiture of retirement benefits against 11 high-ranking Philippine National Police officials over the PNP’s irregular purchase of 75 defective rubber boats worth P131.5 million in 2008.

In a decision dated Jan. 22, Morales declared Police Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde and Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino Jr. liable for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct. The two were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service.

In addition, the Ombudsman imposed the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. If the penalty can no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of fine equivalent to one-year salary is to be imposed, in addition to the accessory penalties, the Ombudsman said.

Morales also found Police Director George Piano, Chief Supt. Luis Saligumba, Senior Supt. Job Nolan Antonio and Senior Supt. Edgar Paatan, who are all members of the PNP’s inspection and acceptance committee, liable for simple neglect of duty. They were meted the penalty of six months’ suspension without pay.

Joel CL Garcia aka Joel Crisostomo de Leon Garcia, Ronald Lee, Ma. Linda Padojinog, and NUP Ruben Gongona, all members of the PNP national headquarters’ bids and awards committee and technical working group, were also ordered suspended for one month without pay.

For his failure to take a “more proactive” stance as a member of the oversight committee and acting service chief of the Installations and Logistic Service, National Police Commission Director Conrado Sumanga Jr. was given a stern warning by Morales to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties.

Records showed that the PNP in 2008 bought through a negotiated procurement plan 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outboard motors for the PNP Maritime Group under the Capability Enhancement Program Funds.

The purchase was made following the devastation brought by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2008.

Deficiencies in equipment

According to the Ombudsman, the PNP Maritime Group’s technical inspection committee on watercraft found that there were deficiencies in the equipment and that they were dangerous to use.

Investigation also revealed that the boats and engines were not actually compatible and were not functional, the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman spared from prosecution former PNP Police Chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, along with 18 others, for lack of jurisdiction in view of their retirement before the complaint was filed in 2011. Verzosa retired in September 2010.

17 others exonerated

Also exonerated for lack of sufficient evidence were 17 other respondents.

In September 2012, the Ombudsman ordered the filing of graft charges against Verzosa and several other PNP officers before the Sandiganbayan for the same acts.

Aside from Verzosa, also charged for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were Police Deputy Director General Jefferson Soriano, Belarmino Jr., Police Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos, Romeo Hilomen, Ubalde and Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:32 AM
No one is safe, who is in charge?

By Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:05 pm | Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Since the killing of 13 people at a police-military checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon, on Jan. 6, not a single day has passed without the media reporting a rising tide of robberies and break-ins into shops and homes in Metro Manila. In the Atimonan carnage, the National Bureau of Investigation has determined that the victims died not as a result of a shootout between the police-military team and a criminal group, but, rather, an extralegal execution by state law enforcement authorities.

The NBI has decided to bring criminal charges against the soldiers and police supposedly involved in a “conspiracy” to tamper with the evidence to make the killings look like the results of a shootout. The Atimonan episode is just a high-profile demonstration of the general breakdown of law and order involving criminal law-breakers and also breaches in discipline of law enforcers. This breakdown of law and order has generated a crime spike in the past two months that has alarmed the Aquino administration. The crime wave has also caused concern among the general public that the country is not a safe place to live in, and not the economic paradise painted by the government in its claims of incandescent economic growth

Late in January, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas reported that the President was so alarmed by the spate of robberies in shopping malls and other high-profile crimes in Metro Manila despite a nationwide gun ban. Roxas said this had prompted him to meet with Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima and other senior police officials to discuss armed robberies in Metro Manila in recent days. “The President himself is alarmed and he is monitoring all these incidents,” Roxas told the PNP authorities. He cited robberies at a jewelry store in SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City and at a Western Union remittance center in Parañaque City last week. In the Megamall heist, six men, one of them armed with a .45 cal. pistol, smashed glass display cases and made off with at least 200 pieces of jewelry. Unarmed security guards failed to stop the robbers. Roxas said there was public concern that the gun ban and police checkpoints did not appear to deter criminals, who seem to be “taunting the government.”

Roxas blamed the personnel shortage of the PNP for its failure to stop crimes. The Department of Interior and Local Government is considering a security plan involving the deployment of 8,000 to 10,000 security guards in Makati’s commercial district, and requiring the installation in shopping malls, stores, banks and financial institutions of closed-circuit television cameras as part of security arrangements.

The rash of robberies and break-ins has triggered questions from the people on how safe they are from holdups and muggings. Many ask, “Who is in charge?” and “Who will protect us from criminals?” The breakdown of law and order has become a big political issue in the face of the midterm elections, in which the administration is seeking a fresh vote of confidence. The issue of law and order, more potent than the administration’s economic performance, is undermining the electoral chances of its candidates for the Senate, which it seeks to control. The Catholic Church hierarchy has also taken the administration to task for the law and order deterioration, claiming that the government was ruling “from a vacuum,” and was virtually nonexistent.

In response to the criticism over the crime surge, the PNP fell back on a Social Weather Stations survey last December showing a high public approval rating of its performance. The survey, commissioned by the PNP, showed it “posting an all-time record of +50 (rating) since May 1998.” But this finding is dated and absolutely useless, and does not reflect public opinion on security events since the Jan. 6 Atimonan killings.

Purisima said in a briefing for Inquirer editors and staff last week that only 29 percent of respondents said they had reported incidents to the police, indicating there was not much confidence in reporting matters to the police. “We still haven’t captured 71 percent, especially those who have experienced incidents like snatching or some break-ins into their house. We ask our countrymen to report crimes no matter how small they are so that these data will be used in studying crimes, in analyzing crime trends, so that we will know where we will deploy our policemen,” Purisima said.

He also said that the crime rate remained low and that it was merely “perception” that there had been a rise in criminality. In fact, he claimed, criminals now are not as brazen as before, when they were armed with high-powered firearms. “There have not been much bank robberies lately,” he said. “The criminals are now after soft targets like pawnshops.”

The SWS survey also found 16 percent of respondents dissatisfied with the police, and 18 percent undecided. It found that 6.4 percent of the respondents, representing 3.5 million people, had been robbed or had their pockets picked, and 3.2 percent, representing 1.7 million, had their homes broken into. On the other hand, 2.1 percent, representing 321,000 persons, were car theft victims, and 0.5 percent, or 291,000 persons, were victims of violence. Despite the high satisfaction rating, the survey also showed that only 20 percent of robberies and only 36 percent of house break-ins were actually reported to authorities.

The survey further found that 31 percent of respondents said they did not report crimes because these were “too small a thing to bother” authorities with, while 10 percent said they expected no action on their complaints.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:45 AM
2 Senators Oppose Bill Punishing Kids Aged 12 for Heinous Crimes

By Mario B. Casayuran

February 5, 2013, 10:21pm

MANILA, Philippines — The possibility of passing a bill that lowers the age of criminal liability for heinous crimes to as low as 12 years old just got dimmer as two of the three members of the Senate panel in the bicameral conference committee are against it.

Senators Francis Panglinan and Pia S. Cayetano have stonewalled any agreement between the Senate and House of Representatives panels to pass the bill amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, authored by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto, former chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), said that crimes committed by youngsters from the age of 12 to 15 has risen 1,400 percent “and we are giving the wrong signals that they are not being punished.’’

Of the five Senate members in the bicameral conference committee, Panglinan and Cayetano want the age of discernment from 15 years old and up.

Sotto is joined by Senators Francis Escudero and Teofisto Guingona III in lobbying for 12 years old as the age of discernment.

Sotto said failure of the committee members to a compromise means that the bicameral conference committee members have to meet during the upcoming three-month break starting tomorrow leading to the May 2013 mid-term elections.

In such a case, a conference committee report on the bill would have to be ratified, it at all, by the two legislative chambers when they resume regular session for at least three or four days starting June 3 after which they terminate the 15th Congress and adjourn sine die.

“It is not the Senate that is stonewalling. Only members of the bicameral conference committee who do not want to accept the House version on one provision,” said Sotto.

He said there have been calls from justices, judges, law enforcers and narcotics enforcers that the age when youngsters should be held criminally liable for heinous crimes and crimes with a jail term of 12 years or more should be from 12 years old to 18 years, not 15 years old onwards.

Sotto the bill he filed sought to decrease the age to 11, an age that they acted with discernment to be able to be held criminally but the Lower House opted for 12 years old.

“The House has stonewalled. Tama sila (they are right). They know it is the clamor being asked by judges, justices, prosecutors, and the Executive Department. Tapos ma-hohostage kami dito, kakampi ng CHR?’’ Sotto asked.

Sotto did not mince words when he stated that Senators Pangilinan and Cayetano “look to, hear from or consult with” the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) rather than see his and the Lower House’s versions.

If Congress fails to pass the measure today, Sotto said citizens should brace for the commission of “rape, murder, stabbing” by youngsters of ages 13 upwards “because we cannot detain or jail them.”

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:25 AM
De Lima upset, angry over leakages on Atimonan incident report

By Tetch Torres

INQUIRER.net

8:22 pm | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Irked by the leakage of the Atimonan incident report, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said she will order an investigation to identify “defiant agents” who disregarded their order not to prematurely disclose information.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tasked to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Atimonan shooting incident that led to the death of 13 people.

The NBI report has yet to be submitted to the President due to minor glitches in binding the more than two inch thick report.

However, reports came out quoting sources that the police and soldiers involved in the shooting incident will be charged with murder.

“Alam nyo bilin kasi ng Pangulo na wag dapat i-leak o i-release yung report. Kaya nga nalulungkot ako, nagagalit ako sa mga leakages na yan (The President said there shouldn’t be any leakage. That’s why I am sad, I am furious over these leakages). I specifically and repeatedly gave that instructions to the NBI team working on that report through [NBI] Director [Nonnatus] Rojas and he also said that he also repeatedly gave that instructions to the NBI team that there should be no premature disclosure of any of the content of the report,” she said.

“So, yung nababasa natin, sasabihin nila (So what we are reading, they will reveal) from an NBI source or requested anonymity obviously they would do so because he or she is not authorized to speak. Dun kami nababanas ni Director Rojas (It’s because of that that’s why Director Rojas and I are upset),” De Lima told reporters.

After the release of the report, De Lima said she will order Rojas to conduct an investigation to identify the NBI agents who leaked the report and impose sanctions.

“That is defiance of a direct order from a superior. Tingin ko may ilang element dyan sa (I think there are some people in the) NBI who are undermining the leadership of Director Rojas or the Secretary of Justice,” she said.

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:25 AM
PNP unlikely to give legal aid to cops tagged in Quezon shooting

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:58 pm | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Policemen who might be indicted for murder in connection with the Atimonan, Quezon, shooting that left 13 persons dead, should face the consequences of their actions, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday.

And they may have to do it on their own.

Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesperson, said members of the police team involved in the Jan. 6 incident, which left 13 people dead, should not expect immediate legal assistance from the PNP due to questions over the legitimacy of the checkpoint operation.

He reiterated the position of PNP Director General Alan Purisima that the PNP would stand by the findings and recommendations of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which had been tasked by President Aquino to look into the case.

“That’s the call of the NBI. If (the filing of murder charges) would be the recommendation, then our personnel should face that,” Cerbo said in a news briefing at Camp Crame.

“Whatever would be the findings of the NBI, the PNP will respect that. We will support the NBI’s investigation,” he continued.

A source, who has been familiar with the NBI probe into the Atimonan shooting, had told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the NBI investigators had recommended the filing of murder charges against the policemen who carried out the bloody operation.

Asked if the PNP would provide any legal assistance to its embattled personnel, Cerbo said the police organization, having only a few lawyers, could not guarantee legal aid.

Like regular policemen, he said police-lawyers were also assigned to specific tasks, which would make them unavailable for regular court duties.

“Anyway, there is still the issue of whether or not the incident was in line with the performance of their duty. There is also a question of abuse of authority. So if providing legal assistance is proper or not, that should be decided by the top leadership,” he said.

“At this point, there is no immediate legal assistance. But if they want the help of our legal service, they have to put their request in writing. They have to make a formal request.”

Cerbo advised the PNP personnel to just hire the services of private lawyers like what Supt. Hansel Marantan, the ground commander of the Atimonan operation, did.

Joescoundrel
02-07-2013, 10:49 AM
Cops to face 13 counts of murder

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The killing was premeditated, and members of a police-military team will face 13 counts of murder.

This is the gist of the report submitted yesterday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Justice Secretary Lilia de Lima on the deaths of 13 men in Atimonan, Quezon last Jan. 6.

The team was led by police Superintendent Hansel Marantan, who is still recuperating from a wound in a hospital.

It was not clear if murder charges were also recommended against Chief Superintendent James Melad, who was sacked as regional police commander of the Calabarzon after the shooting. Malacañang has said Melad gave the green light for the operation that ostensibly targeted one of the 13 fatalities, alleged jueteng lord Vic Siman.

De Lima returned the report to the NBI yesterday for additional attachments. NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas submitted the report to the justice chief behind closed doors.

Around 30 minutes later, Rojas stepped out of De Lima’s office still carrying the five-inch-thick report.

He clarified De Lima did not return the report for revisions.

“The main report is already completed. We just need to attach some more annexes,” he said as he refused to discuss their findings with reporters.

De Lima said she expects the President to discuss the NBI findings with her for clarifications or clearance before making the report public.

Meanwhile, doctors at the PNP-General Hospital observed that Marantan’s recovery from the wound he sustained during the incident was slow.

Dr. Martin Sison recommended that Marantan undergo electromyogram nerve conduction velocity to determine if he has suffered nerve damage.

Rojas said they would resubmit the report this morning before it is forwarded to the Palace for official announcement.

A source privy to the investigation, however, confirmed to The STAR that there was ample basis to file 13 counts of murder against Marantan and his team.

The source said the probers were able to establish that the killing was premeditated.

However, the insider refused to confirm whether the level of liability would reach the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).

“The report is just recommendatory. The Palace has discretion to accept or reject it,” the source said.

The NBI has summoned 12 ranking police and military officials, including Melad.

However, it was not confirmed if Melad is among those recommended charged for the incident.

Chief Superintendent Ma. Angela Vidal, director of the PNP Health Service, said Marantan underwent debridement and closure of his wound on the left arm on Tuesday.

Vidal said that Marantan’s electromyogram would be undertaken at the St. Luke’s Medical Center, with his private physician. She said the process would only take a few hours.

In the absence of any court case, the official said they would still seek approval from PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima before Marantan could be taken out of the PNP General Hospital.

Vidal said the police officer could not also walk on his own and is always assisted by his father due to his wounds in both legs.

She said Marantan continues to undergo therapy and needs to stay in the hospital for another two weeks. - with Cecille Suerte Felipe, Sandy Araneta

Joescoundrel
02-07-2013, 10:49 AM
Gross neglect of duty

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 7, 2013 - 12:00am

Two police generals have retired, but they will still feel their dismissal from the service in the forfeiture of all their retirement benefits. Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino Jr. and Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde were ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty in connection with the purchase of 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines by the Philippine National Police in 2008. Eight other PNP officials and personnel were also suspended in connection with the deal.

Belarmino, Ubalde and the others still face graft charges filed last year by the ombudsman with the Sandiganbayan for the P131.5-million negotiated procurement of the boats and outboard motors. Also facing charges in court is retired PNP chief Jesus Verzosa.

Other PNP officials are facing administrative and criminal charges for questionable supply procurement deals including the acquisition of second-hand helicopters at brand-new prices. Some of the officials have argued that their roles in the deals were largely ministerial. Even if this is true, a law enforcer’s silence in the face of a questionable transaction is seen as acquiescence and therefore complicity. At the very least, such officials will find themselves sanctioned for gross neglect of duty.

The legal woes of these PNP officials, several of whom are supposed to be enjoying their retirement, should bring home to cops the importance of ensuring that all transactions they enter into are aboveboard. Technology is leaving little room for excuses in blocking transparency in government procurement. These days, where there is opaqueness in utilization of public funds, state auditors or anti-graft investigators tend to nose around.

The legal problems of some of the PNP’s ranking officials should spur the organization to implement long-overdue measures to promote transparency and accountability. If cops don’t care much about their organization, perhaps they will want to keep in mind that anomalous deals can ruin careers and permanently tarnish a police officer’s name.

Joescoundrel
02-07-2013, 10:53 AM
New bicam in June for Juvenile Justice Law

By Marvin Sy

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers are set to hold another bicameral conference committee hearing in June – when Congress resumes session – to try to have the bill amending the juvenile justice law approved, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said yesterday.

The decision was made after senators failed to reach an agreement on Monday over the minimum age of criminal liability that they hoped to include as amendment to Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.

The Senate’s version of the bill - contained in Senate Bill 3324 - opted to retain the current minimum age of 15 while the House of Representative’s version OR HB 6052 set it at 12.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III was pushing for the adoption of 12 as the minimum age provided the youth offender was involved in heinous crimes.

Pangilinan, principal author of the original law and co-sponsor of the current bill, said that the Senate panel is looking at the proposal of Sotto as a possible compromise.

“We will convene the bicam in June and in the meantime try and find a Solomonic decision during the recess,” he said.

Sotto noted that many heinous crimes such as rape and murder are committed by minors under the age of 15. The minor offenders easily get away with the offense and become repeat offenders.

Pangilinan cited a study by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, which considers 15 as the age of discernment.

Pangilinan said only 15 percent of the crimes committed by minors are serious and that 90 percent of those involved are first offenders. He said first offenders should be given a second chance.

He said the Senate panel is still working on a compromise based on the amendment proposed by Sotto.

The bill also provides that minors convicted of a crime be placed in an intensive juvenile intervention and support center within the Bahay Pag-Asa and not in regular jails.

Sotto, meanwhile, rejected the proposal of Sen. Pia Cayetano to bring the matter back to the technical working group, saying it was uncalled for.

Sotto also criticized what he described as meddling of the Commission on Human Rights in the bicameral conference. With Helen Flores

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 08:15 AM
Marantan insists on ‘shootout’ but ready to face murder raps

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:08 am | Friday, February 8th, 2013

“A shootout.”

The ground commander of the police operation in Atimonan, Quezon, that led to the killing of 13 alleged criminals on Jan. 6 continued to insist on Thursday.

But Supt. Hansel Marantan said he would respect the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation and face the murder charges that the agency reportedly would bring against him.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who oversaw the NBI investigation ordered by President Aquino, has told reporters that based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, what happened in Atimonan was “definitely not a shootout.”

On Thursday she countered Marantan’s statement in a television interview about the first shot coming from the group of alleged illegal gambling lord Victor “Vic” Siman.

“That’s not what the eyewitnesses say. That’s not what the evidence says. That is explained clearly and detailed in the report,” De Lima said.

Report submitted

De Lima submitted the NBI’s investigative report on the Atimonan killings to Malacañang on Thursday.

She said the report was “very exhaustive” and ran to more than 70 pages, not including voluminous annexes.

De Lima declined to discuss the contents of the report with journalists but said she had ordered an investigation into leaks to the press.

The Inquirer reported on Wednesday that the NBI recommended murder charges against Marantan and all the policemen and members of the Army Special Forces who took part in the operation that led to the killing of Siman and 12 other people at a checkpoint in Atimonan.

“If the NBI is going to file 13 counts of murder against us, we will respect that. We have respected [the NBI] from the very start of the investigation,” Marantan said in an interview with ABS-CBN reporter Gus Abelgas on Wednesday.

“We participated in the investigation… [and] submitted our sworn statements. We also submitted some of our men for questioning,” he said.

“But in the same manner, we maintain our position that it was a shootout, given all the circumstances and the statement of our witness,” he said.

Marantan, who was taken to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City on Thursday to undergo a medical procedure on his wounded left arm, said the witness testified that the group of Siman fired the first shot, which “triggered the firefight.”

Siman, an alleged operator of the illegal numbers racket “jueteng” in Laguna and Batangas, was supposedly the lone target of the police operation called “Coplan Armado.”

Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima doubted the police report of a shootout, pointing out that Siman’s group was wiped out while only one, Marantan, was wounded on the police side.

Summary executions

Relatives of the victims demanded an investigation, claiming that there was no shootout and charging that the victims were summarily executed.

Marantan said the statement of the lone witness would be corroborated by the statements of the Army soldiers who provided assistance to his team during the operation.

“I would like to believe that the slug taken from me came from the firearm of one of those onboard the vehicles,” Marantan said.

“The policemen had no choice but to ‘cover fire’ to extract me from the line of fire,” he added.

Marantan said the operation was not launched because of Siman’s alleged involvement in jueteng but because of his supposed role in gun crimes, robberies and hijackings in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region.

He said it was part of the security preparations of the Calabarzon police for the midterm elections in May.

RCBC massacre

“He (Siman) is the missing link in the RCBC massacre,” he said, referring to the killing of 10 people during a robbery at the Cabuyao, Laguna, branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. on May 16, 2008.

Marantan, however, did not elaborate on Siman’s supposed role in the RCBC case.

He noted that some of the 13 people slain in Atimonan had arrest warrants, including Leonardo Marasigan and Maximo Pelayo.

He said Siman’s group was also involved in the ambush-slay of two police officials in Laguna.

“Imagine how many innocent people will be killed if they were not neutralized by the PNP,” he said.

Marantan did not hide his disappointment at what he described as “character assassination” against him.

‘Monster’

He lamented that some people “made a monster” out of his name.

Marantan complained that some government officials had already issued statements against him and the other policemen involved in the incident even before the NBI could finish its investigation.

Asked if he thought De Lima’s statement preempted the NBI’s report, he said: “Yes, that’s right. It’s really sad hearing those kinds of statements.”

“Although we feel bad, we’re not angry with the justice secretary. She might have had some wisdom that statement. But for us accused, we feel that it’s unfortunate that those statements were made pending the investigation,” Marantan said.—[I]With a report from Philip C. Tubeza

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 08:16 AM
NBI to probe media leaks in Atimonan case

By Christine O. Avendaño, Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:47 am | Friday, February 8th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation will investigate the leak to the press of its report on the police killing of 13 alleged criminals in Atimonan, Quezon, on Jan. 6.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said Thursday the leak embarrassed the bureau, as President Aquino had given strict orders to keep the results of the investigation confidential.

Rojas did not say whether heads would roll but Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who submitted the report to Malacañang Thursday, said the source of the leak faced penalties ranging from suspension to dismissal for insubordination and misconduct.

“Suspension can be one day, one week, one month, six months, one year or two years and the maximum penalty is, of course, dismissal,” De Lima told reporters.

She said that while the government recognized the right of the press to access to information, as well as the reporters’ right to access to sources, she was leaving it to the NBI to decide whether to summon journalists who reported information leaked from the investigative report.

Were leaks correct?

Asked whether the leaks were faithful to the report, De Lima said “certain portions” that were published tended to show someone leaked the report.

“But I’m not confirming that’s contained in the report,” she said.

De Lima reiterated an earlier statement that the leak could be aimed at undermining her and Rojas’ leadership.

It was just an “impression,” she said, but added: “What does that mean, they want to embarrass the leadership of the NBI? Or they just want to give information despite repeated instructions from superiors [not to prematurely disclose the report’s contents]?”

“We will do our investigation and the negligence of our people and we will address this concern as we go on,” Rojas said.

The scope of the investigation has yet to be determined, he said.

Rojas said several units of the NBI were involved in the investigation and in the preparation of the report.

Actual pages from report

Measures were laid down to ensure confidentiality, including a ban on cell phones in closed-door discussions, De Lima said.

Still, images shown on television on Wednesday and Thursday indicated a leak of actual pages from the report.

“This is something very unfortunate. I am sad and really angry about how things have developed,” Rojas said.

“Despite our efforts to keep this probe [confidential], a leak still occurred and the media got some info,” he said.

“It is sad, it puts the NBI in an embarrassing situation,” he added.

A source in the bureau told the Inquirer that drafts of the report were shredded and moving copies of the report even inside the NBI complex was done under escort.

What leak?

But an agent involved in the investigation questioned the investigation of a supposed leak.

“We could not understand what kind of leak they are talking about. It was an open investigation, all the people involved and their names were already known even before the NBI started its investigation,” the agent said.

All the agents involved in the investigation and in the preparation of the report are demoralized, the source said.

“It’s demoralizing because after working so hard this past month, and now instead of focusing our energy on other cases or the next phase of the investigation, which is the filing [of charges] and preliminary hearing, we have to face a probe that will also sap our time and energy,” the agent said.

But Virgilio Mendes, NBI deputy director for regional services and head of the Atimonan investigation, said the investigative group would respect De Lima’s order.

Rojas made it clear that there was no news blackout on the Atimonan investigation.

“It’s just that we did not want to disclose the results prematurely,” Rojas said.

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 08:40 AM
Ortega slay traced to Malampaya fund misuse

By Marlon Ramos, Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:11 am | Friday, February 8th, 2013

Dr. Gerry Ortega’s incessant radio commentaries against then Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes’ involvement in the alleged misuse of billions of pesos of the province’s share from the Malampaya gas project resulted in his death, fellow journalists told the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate panel that looks into the accountability of government officials, called on the Court of Appeals (CA) after the hearing to make “the proper discernment” on the government’s appeal of its dismissal of the murder case against Reyes.

“I’d like to point out that right after [Ortega] was killed, I was told by government officials, [Puerto Princesa] Mayor [Edward] Hagedorn among them, that I might be well-advised to take security precautions,” Inquirer Palawan correspondent Redempto Anda told the committee.

Anda said he and Ortega had been working on reports about corruption attending billions of pesos worth of projects funded by royalties from the Malampaya gas project. He said Ortega had received death threats especially when their coverage started uncovering more than enough evidence.

“Several people were casing my house six, seven days after he was killed. This was in correlation with the testimony of the state witness that originally there were two journalists who were in their contract for the hit job,” Anda said.

Anda, who is also an officer of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, thanked the Inquirer for providing him with security “until now.”

Exposé on P3.9 billion

Anda said there was no other reason for the threats other than the exposé by provincial media and civil society of the misuse of P3.9 billion from the Malampaya gas project.

“My situation… I’d like to stress is a very typical situation of what threats are posed to journalists, not just to journalists, but civil society participants in Palawan who are very active in this issue [of corruption in the provincial government],” Anda said.

“I firmly believe… that this has no other reason other than the exposé on the Malampaya corruption. I was speaking with Dr. Gerry Ortega when he was under serious threat already and this was only his topic at the time,” Anda added.

Substandard projects

Guingona suspended the hearing until the committee received documents from relevant government agencies in connection with substandard infrastructure projects, whose multibillion-peso funding was disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“We would also wait for the steps that would be taken by the COA, Ombudsman, Department of Public Works and Highways, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Immigration and even the Court of Appeals,” Guingona said.

Reversal of DOJ finding

He said the case was of primary importance, just like the case of the Maguindanao Ampatuan massacre. “This is a case about grave injustice done to one man, Doc Gerry, who spoke the truth,” Guingona added.

The appellate court late last year reversed the DOJ finding of probable cause to charge Reyes and his brother with murder in connection with Ortega’s murder.

The decision is now the subject of a motion for reconsideration in the appellate court.

“I challenge the justices of the CA to make the proper discernment in upholding the law and dispensing justice for everyone,” Guingona said.

The senator said the committee had so far established that Palawan’s funds were indeed misused.

“It’s clear from the testimony of [Public Works and Highways] Secretary [Rogelio] Singson that the quality of projects funded by the Malampaya funds was unacceptable,” Guingona said.

Projects disallowed

“One could also note that the projects were located in inappropriate places and that there were multiple funds and projects all in the same place,” the senator said.

Guingona said that aside from the P3.9 billion from Malampaya, there was a release of P6 billion from the Arroyo administration’s so-called State-of-the-Nation-Address (Sona) funds—or projects mentioned in the Sona in 2009.

“The COA also clearly said that the projects funded by the Malampaya funds were disallowed because of violations of the bidding process,” he said.

Guingona said pronouncements of the DPWH and the COA seemed “to give credence to the corruption using Malampaya funds as alleged by Bishop [Pedro] Arigo and other [nongovernment organizations and people’s organizations].”

Fake passport

Aside from establishing the relationship between Ortega’s death and the corruption in the Palawan government during Reyes’ term, Thursday’s hearing also found vulnerabilities in the system of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) regarding the travel of persons linked to crime.

“We saw holes in the DFA’s system of issuing passports and the huge one in the BI’s net in screening the coming and going of persons in the country. These were used by the suspected masterminds in the death of Doc Gerry,” Guingona said.

Reyes slipped out of the country using a fake passport.

Witness dead

Guingona said there also appeared to be a problem with the country’s witness protection program marked by the death of one of the witnesses in Ortega’s case who was found lifeless in a Lucena City jail.

“There are many recommendations that need to be made to improve different agencies of government after our hearings in the past three weeks,” he said.

But the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Thursday played down insinuations that there was foul play in the death of a key witness in the murder of Ortega.

‘Suicide’

Chief Supt. Serafin Barretto, BJMP Calabarzon director, maintained that Dennis Aranas, who served as a lookout in the January 2011 assassination of Ortega in Puerto Princesa City, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell at the Quezon District Jail (QDJ) in Lucena City.

Supt. Annie Espinosa, QDJ warden, said an autopsy done by the National Bureau of Investigation showed that Aranas had died of “asphyxia by hanging.”

“There were no signs of bruises, hematoma or wounds on the body,” Espinosa told reporters over the phone.

Barretto had requested the Philippine National Police and the NBI to look into the death of Aranas to dispel allegations that he may have been killed, the BJMP said.

Quarrel with partner

A few days before he was found dead on Tuesday, Barretto said Aranas had a quarrel with his supposed live-in partner, a certain Cris Allen.

Barretto said it appeared that Aranas had long been estranged from his wife, Marilyn.

“His fellow inmates said (Aranas) looked depressed. According to them, Aranas learned that his girlfriend was already living with another man,” Barretto said.

“When the woman visited him (last Sunday), they had a fight. Aranas was also heard saying that he could not bear being in jail,” he added.

Asked why the jail guards did not immediately report the incident to the police, Barretto said the BJMP was not required to submit its report to the PNP “because we are not under the police.”

“There is also no basis for us to investigate. The warden should report it to the BJMP regional office. Then we will inform the police and the family. But it does not mean that the PNP was required to investigate because we have our own investigator,” he said.

Scene cleaned

But the PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., said the jail guards should have reported the incident to the local police as a matter of standard procedure in suicide cases.

“When the policemen arrived at the detention cell, the body was no longer there. The scene was already clean,” Cerbo told reporters.

“The BJMP has a lot of investigating to do… (on the) administrative aspects (regarding) the procedure,” he added.

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 09:12 AM
Ombudsman dismisses 2 PNP officials in armored vehicle repair anomaly

By Tetch Torres

1:35 pm | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines–Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dismissed from services the officials of the Philippine National Police Officers (PNP) involved in the anomalous repair and maintenance of 28 units of V-150 PNP Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) in 2007 worth P400 million.

In a 10-page Supplemental Joint Resolution released Thursday, Morales dismissed Antonio Retrato, Accounting Division Chief; and Eulito Fuentes, Supply Accountable Officer after they were found guilty of Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty. Aside from dismissal from public service all their benefits are forfeited and they are perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The Resolution stated that “[i]f the penalty of dismissal from the service can no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of fine equivalent to one year salary is imposed, in addition to the same accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold public office.”

However, the Ombudsman absolved Chief Superintendent Mario San Diego, a member of the PNP National Headquarters Bids and Awards Committee as “there is no substantial evidence to hold him administratively liable for Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty.”

Retrato and Fuentes are already facing a case for violation of the Anti-Graft Law, the Government Procurement Act and Malversation through Falsification before the Sandiganbayan.

On Aug. 14, 2007, then PNP Chief Director Gen. Oscar Calderon initiated the request for repair and refurbishing of 10 V-150 LAVs in connection with the PNP Special Action Force’s (SAF) capacity build-up program for P275,365,000. Subsequently however, former PNP Chief Gen. Avelino Razon requested for a supplemental budget for the repair and refurbishing of remaining 18 LAVs.

The Ombudsman’s fact-finding investigation, in its complaint said there were irregularity in the “bidding process, awarding of contracts and utilization of funds intended for the repair/refurbishment of 28 V-150s of the PNP.”

Morales said the “public respondents circumvented the provisions of the Government Procurement Act to take private firms Serpenair, Enviro-Aire, Evans, RJP, Dex-Lan and RKGK Enterprises as the direct suppliers.” It also said that “the government suffered injury in the amount of P409,740,000, representing the cost of the highly irregular transactions, and that the said companies were given unwarranted benefit, undue advantage or preference as the contracts were awarded to them despite non-compliance with law and without actual delivery of goods and services at the time of payment.”

Sam Miguel
02-08-2013, 09:56 AM
13 killed in Quezon over jueteng control

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 8, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It was all about jueteng.

Thirteen people were murdered in Atimonan, Quezon on Jan. 6 because of a turf war between jueteng operators, one of whom was among the dead and the other a woman with links to police Superintendent Hansel Marantan.

Control of jueteng operations was cited as the most likely motive for the killing, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) concluded in its probe of what Marantan’s team had described as a shootout.

The 56-page final NBI report was submitted to President Aquino yesterday. It said Marantan and his men appeared to have set up an ambush to eliminate alleged jueteng lord Vic Siman for encroaching on areas in Southern Luzon controlled by a rival identified as Tita Dinglasan.

Marantan’s links with Dinglasan have been established but the exact nature was not clear, the report said.

Marantan has denied that his siblings are involved in jueteng. Earlier reports said he grew up in the care of a jueteng operator named Tita.

The report was not immediately released to media pending a review by the President, but a reliable source privy to the NBI probe confirmed to The STAR the turf war angle.

“It was a jueteng rivalry that later on became a personal feud between Marantan and Siman,” the insider explained.

The source, however, admitted that this angle would have been solidly proven had NBI investigators been able to talk to Siman’s aide Fernando “Pandoy” Morales before the latter was killed last Jan. 14 or just eight days after the Atimonan bloodbath.

The insider said Siman, supposedly a known jueteng operator in Laguna and Batangas, was on his way to Daet town in Camarines Norte on a convoy with 12 companions, supposedly to expand his gambling operations, when his convoy was blocked by Marantan’s team.

Investigators also found that Tirso Lontok Jr., the environmentalist who was among those killed, also had links to jueteng operations in Laguna and Quezon.

It was discovered that there had been two previous attempts to kill Siman’s cousin Victorino Atienza. Atienza’s group was also known to be involved in the gun-for-hire business in Southern Tagalog and the Bicol regions.

Justice Secretary Leila Lima refused to confirm this, along with earlier reports that the NBI had recommended the filing of 13 counts of murder against Marantan and his team.

She instead ordered an investigation aimed at identifying the source of the leaked findings reported in the media despite her gag order.

“Once we determine if there was indeed leakage and identify from whom it came, we will charge whoever is found responsible,” she said.

A visibly irked De Lima warned of possible administrative sanctions – either suspension or dismissal – against the source of the leaked information from the NBI report.

“It would depend on the gravity of the offense. The usual charges for that are insubordination and misconduct,” she explained. But she would not directly confirm the accuracy of the reports.

“In the past few days, based on what we see from certain newspapers, there are certain facts there, certain disclosures there that would tend to show there was indeed leakage,” she stressed.

De Lima admitted she was “pissed off” by the leakage, believing it was done by those who wanted to undermine her leadership in the department, which has supervision over the NBI.

“Assuming there was indeed leakage from NBI, why do they still do that despite our repeated orders? What do they want to achieve – to embarrass our leadership? What is that all about?” she asked.

The STAR earlier reported that the NBI, in its report, has recommended the filing of 13 counts of murder against Marantan and members of his team, which included 22 policemen and 25 soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Battalion based in Candelaria town in Quezon province.

De Lima had earlier concluded the incident was “not a shootout” based on accounts of three civilian witnesses, even before Marantan’s team was able to present its own witness, who claimed it was Siman’s group that fired first and initiated the shootout.

No leak

NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas said they are investigating the alleged leak, including the possibility that it came from other sources.

“We are also checking how did it (leak) happen. But, I also want to assure that insofar as the final report is concerned, I believe that no one has gotten a copy of this before we did,” Rojas told a news conference.

“You know this is something very unfortunate and I’m sad and really angry on how things have developed. Despite all our efforts to keep this probe within the confines of the investigators and those involved, there was a leak, so to speak, and the media got some information,” said Rojas.

“It is our report to the President and it’s rather awkward for us announcing to the public, although we know that the public wants to know what is in our report. But prudence dictates that we wait for the President to decide whether or not our findings will be divulged to the public,” he said.

Rojas also said that he has not seen the GMA-7 news report which aired portions of the supposedly leaked report.

“I haven’t seen it. I don’t want to confirm also what’s in there for obvious reasons,” he said.

“We will do our investigation and see the extent of the negligence and liabilities of our people and we will address these concerns as we go on,” he said.

Rojas also expressed belief that the leaked document may have come from other sources.

“I am not also discounting the fact that some reporters would have obtained their information from other sources, not the NBI. That’s possible. Call it the abilities of some press people in obtaining information. But insofar as leaks coming from the NBI, that’s something serious also to consider. We will be addressing this,” he said.

The Atimonan investigating team is headed by NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations Services Virgilio Mendez.

“It was a big effort because so many people were working on so many things, our technical people, our ballisticians, our chemists, and our people in photography. They have their own tasks. And it took a lot of effort,” he said.

“And we have a team who crafted the final report. It’s composed of persons from different divisions. We all worked on it. I, myself, made sure and went through almost all the aspects of the report. The secretary (De Lima) was not involved in the report. We were giving her progress of our investigation. Of course the justice secretary had no hand in the crafting of our report. The report was our own,” he said.

“Frankly, we have not really yet gone into the details on the probe of the supposed leak. But we are going to have an investigation into this in order to find out why this happened. And for us to be able to address similar concerns in the future,” Rojas said.

“It’s not also healthy for the NBI and for all government agencies when they work, leaks went into the media, to know the supposed results or progress even before it is officially announced and made known to the people. Maybe if I am to be asked, it’s prudent also for everyone to maybe wait for the official results instead of getting snippets here and there, so that people will not speculate. Anyway, the results will be coming out sooner or later,” said Rojas.

“There was no news blackout. Progresses were seen. It was always what we were doing. It’s just that insofar as the results were concerned, of course we can’t release it prematurely,” he said. With Sandy Araneta

Sam Miguel
02-11-2013, 09:27 AM
Of cops killing other cops

By Ramon Tulfo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:25 pm | Friday, February 8th, 2013

PO1 Jonathan Castro, a cop-turned- detainee had to be transferred to another jail after inmates whom he maltreated in the past ganged up on him inside their cell at the Pasay City jail.

The policeman’s safety could not be assured by the Pasay City jail warden as some inmates wanted to exact revenge on him.

Castro is an example of a very, very bad cop.

A woman had charged him with rape. Not content with abusing the woman, he allegedly extorted money from her boyfriend.

Castro’s past misdeeds have caught up with him after the woman he allegedly raped complained.

Since rape is a nonbailable offense, Castro had to be detained while the case is pending.

He was put in a cell where—of all places—some of the inmates whom he had thrown in jail were also confined.

“He is known to hurt and force arrested suspects, like snatchers, into admitting the charges against them,” said a jail insider.

Persons like Castro should take this maxim to heart: Greet the small people on your way up because these are the very same people you will meet on your way down.

Here’s another saying that applies to Castro and his ilk: You reap what you sow.

* * *

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is probably suffering from collective bad karma.

Many of its leaders, like the present, have good and noble intentions.

But why does the PNP attract to its ranks the likes of Castro and Supt. Hansel Marantan?

If you recall, Marantan is the leader of the police and military contingent who allegedly executed 13 persons gangland-style in Quezon province.

* * *

Speaking of karma, I was once a witness to how poetic justice played out.

A Manila police officer, whom I covered when I was assigned to the police beat, had an excellent record of killing notorious criminals.

But on the side, he also killed—“salvaged” in police parlance—persons who were not criminals but who had crossed him.

He was not punished for these cases of unjustified killings as they were made to appear that these were undertaken “in the line of duty.”

This police officer had a daughter whom he doted on. He would often take time out from his duties to fetch her from school.

The daughter eventually graduated from dental school.

Several years after he retired from the police service, she had put up her own dental clinic that later became the scene of a crime.

Two robbers had barged into the clinic, one of them shooting her dead even after she had given them everything.

My friend, the ex-cop, was devastated. The Universe apparently wanted him to experience the feeling of losing a loved one in a case of senseless killing. He died a very lonely, bitter man.

* * *

I heard a rumor about a group of cops who don’t dispose of notorious criminals, but their own.

Policemen involved in kidnapping, robbery, car theft, gun-for-hire, rape and drugs are targets of this group, so the rumor goes.

The group, composed of cops imbued with idealism, has adopted the modus operandi of motorcycle-riding killers who ride tandem, approach a target and shoot them.

The group’s most prominent victim was reportedly a Manila policeman who robbed his victims in their homes.

The cop, who was with a female companion, had just come from the Southern Police District headquarters, where his administrative case was being heard, when two men on a motorcycle shot him in the head.

His female companion was spared.

As most rumors go, this one cannot be confirmed. But I was told the public will be hearing more from this group soon.

Sam Miguel
02-12-2013, 08:55 AM
Families of ‘Atimonan 13’ grow impatient over probe findings

By Maricar Cinco

Inquirer Southern Luzon

7:11 am | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

SAN PEDRO, Laguna, Philippines—The families of at least two of the victims in the Atimonan, Quezon shooting are getting impatient with Malacañang’s decision to go slow in reviewing the recommendations that the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation submitted to the Palace over a week ago.

“I am also getting impatient. It has already been over a month now since the incident happened,” said Susan Consemino, the widow of Supt. Alfredo Consemino.

Consemino was among those killed in the questionable police-military operation in Atimonan,Quezon on January 6.

Malacañang, through deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, asked the public to give them more time to review the “exhaustive report” submitted by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last week.

The report, described to be five inches thick, contained the results of the investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Presidential Legal Counsel Benjamin Caguioa and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. are reviewing the NBI report.

The Atimonan operation, which targeted alleged crime-and-gambling lord Victor Siman, but which ended up killing not just Siman but 12 others, was partly funded by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), according to the now suspended operation”s ground commander, Supt. Hansel Marantan.

“We hope (for the results) to come out within this week. We’ll just keep on praying and hoping that it turns up in favor of (the families),” Susan said in a phone interview on Monday.

The family of real estate broker and casualty Paul Quiohilag was also starting to grow impatient over the delay in the release of the results.

They also expressed their misgivings about Ochoa dipping a hand in the NBI report.

“The way they are handling it, parang sinasala (it seems the report is being filtered),” said Quiohilag’s sister, Rodelia Claridad.

“Why is this taking too long? Was the NBI report not good enough?” she asked.

The media earlier reported that the NBI recommended the filing of murder charges against those behind the Atimonan, Quezon, operation.

Earlier reports also said the NBI indicated that there was no shootout and that the crime scene was tampered with.

Sam Miguel
02-15-2013, 08:10 AM
Officer facing graft rap named head of CIDG

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:37 am | Friday, February 15th, 2013

An officer who has been charged with graft in connection with a P1.2-billion firearms deal of the Philippine National Police has been named director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

In simple rites held at Camp Crame on Thursday, Chief Supt. Francisco Uyami Jr. took the helm of the CIDG from Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. who stepped down last week after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Uyami, a member of Class ’82 of the Philippine Military Academy, was one of several police officers charged last year in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with supposed irregularities in the bidding for 59,904 service pistols for policemen. The case remains pending with the Ombudsman.

Uyami also served as chief of police of Pasig City after the raid on a “shabu tiangge,” a big drug den discovered in the city in 2007.

Uyami’s designation, however, came as a surprise to a number of officers since he was the youngest of those who were considered for the job.

Sources told the Inquirer Uyami was Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ choice because the latter wanted to give the CIDG post—considered one of the “juiciest” in the PNP—to someone who had never been assigned to the group.

“Secretary Roxas wanted to give the position to the official who least wanted it,” a ranking police officer told the Inquirer.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said Uyami was endorsed to President Aquino by PNP Director General Alan Purisima on the recommendation of the Senior Officers Placement and Promotions Board.

Joescoundrel
02-15-2013, 09:35 AM
Noy in no hurry to read NBI report on Atimonan shooting

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) |

Updated February 15, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has yet to act on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report on the killing of 13 people in Atimonan, Quezon last Jan. 6.

In a recent interview, the President said he presently has his hands full, citing the appointments to the 15-man Transition Commission tasked to craft a measure that will be sent to Congress for the creation of a Bangsamoro region.

The President also noted that the NBI report, which was submitted to him last Thursday, is five inches thick and the report brief alone is 64 pages.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and the Palace legal team were tasked to review the NBI report.

“The Office of the President would be part of the group that would be digesting the report,” said Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.

“I hope you give us some time. This is a long investigation. It is a complicated case. And it’s better to fully digest all of the details before we begin to speak publicly about it,” Carandang earlier said.

Earlier reports, quoting unnamed sources, said the NBI recommended the filing of multiple murder charges against policemen and soldiers involved in the incident.

The President had ordered the relief of Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent James Melad over a spate of violent incidents in his jurisdiction, including the Atimonan “shootout” and the killing of a suspected former gambling administrator, Fernando “Pandoy” Morales, a week after the Atimonan shooting.

Chief Superintendent Federico Castro Jr., deputy chief for operations of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the report of the fact-finding body led by Superintendent Keith Singian included affidavits of witnesses, like that of Morales’ family.

Castro, however, refused to reveal details of the report, leaving it up to Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to officially announce the findings.

A ranking police official confirmed to The STAR that Singian’s committee report “points to the fact that Morales did not fire his gun.”

Desk-bound Marantan

Meanwhile, PNP doctors advised Superintendent Hansel Marantan, the only police officer wounded in the Atimonan shooting, to do administrative jobs instead of actual police work in the field.

Chief Inspector Dorothy Baltazar of the PNP Health Service said the wound in Marantan’s left arm damaged the nerve in his forearm.

“With his damaged ulnar nerve, his agility will not be as good as before the injury,” said Baltazar in a briefing. “The nerve cannot regenerate.”

Baltazar said the damage was diagnosed after Marantan had an electromyogram nerve conduction velocity at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City as recommended by his attending physician Martin Sison.

She said Marantan will undergo another test after three weeks of therapy.

Chief Superintendent Ma. Angela Vidal, director of the PNP Health Service, earlier said doctors observed the slow healing of Marantan’s wounds on his left arm so they recommended further tests.

Vidal added that Marantan could not walk on his own and had to be assisted by his father due to the wounds in his legs. With Cecille Suerte Felipe

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 10:17 AM
Junior cop identified with Siman gunned down

By Ed Amoroso

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 18, 2013 - 12:00am

CALAMBA CITY , Philippines – A junior police officer identified with slain suspected gambling lord Vic Siman was gunned down Saturday night in this city.

Police Officer 2 Rufino de Ocampo Mendoza was having a meal in an eatery at Crossing here when two men on a motorcycle pulled up and opened fire with a caliber .45 handgun at around 10:45 p.m.

Mendoza died at 3:30 a.m. yesterday at the Calamba Medical Center.

Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, head of the Calabarzon police, said he had ordered probers to look into possible links between the murder and the killing of Siman along with 12 companions in Atimonan, Quezon on Jan. 6.

President Aquino is still studying the report of the National Bureau of Investigation on the Atimonan killing.

Members of the joint police-military team involved in the killing have been grounded, with top officers sacked from their posts.

Estipona said investigators are looking into reports that Mendoza was among the targets in Coplan Armado, the police operation plan whose principal target was Siman.

Calamba police chief Superintendent Caesar Tannagan told The STAR Mendoza had received death threats shortly before the attack.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 08:30 AM
Ex-PNP chief Verzosa, 7 others face graft raps

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:30 am | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of graft charges against retired Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa and seven other ranking police officers in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of 75 defective rubber boats worth P131.5 million in 2008.

In a 34-page order signed Feb. 12, Morales denied their motions for reconsideration and affirmed the earlier resolution of her office dated Sept. 26, 2012, finding probable cause to indict the accused.

Aside from Versoza, to stand trial are Police Deputy Directors General Jefferson Soriano and Benjamin Belarmino Jr., Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos and Romeo Hilomen, Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde, and Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag for violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

All the respondents, except for Roderos, filed separate motions for reconsideration.

In denying their motions, the Ombudsman said the arguments presented by the respondents were “a mere rehash of their initial arguments set forth in their counter-affidavits which we already considered, weighed and resolved before we rendered the resolution sought to be considered.”

The case stemmed from the complaint and supplemental complaint filed on Nov. 15, 2011, and Feb. 17, 2012, respectively, by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices (OMB-MOLEO).

Records showed that the PNP bought in 2008 through a negotiated procurement plan 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outboard motors for the PNP Maritime Group under the Capability Enhancement Program Funds.

The PNP entered into four separate supply contracts dated Dec. 18, 2009, with Enviroaire, a supplier, for 93 units of outboard motors for P44,175,000, and 10 police rubber boats for P11,650,000; with Geneve, for the purchase of 41 rubber boats for P47,765,000; and with Bay Industrial for 10 units at P11,650,000.

The Ombudsman said that upon delivery of the first batch of rubber boats and outboard motors, the PNP Maritime Group, through its Technical Inspection Committee on Watercrafts (MG-TICW), found various deficiencies in the equipment, making them risky to users, while the boats and engines were not functional when fitted together, making them unusable for the PNP’s disaster operations.

The special panel of investigators that handled the case found that the government suffered undue injury in the amount of P131.55 million due to the irregular purchase of the rubber boats.

Morales earlier imposed administrative sanctions ranging from dismissal from the service and forfeiture of retirement benefits on the 11 accused high-ranking police officials.

In a decision dated Jan. 22, Morales declared Ubalde and Belarmino liable for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct. The two were ordered dismissed from the service.

The Ombudsman also ordered the forfeiture of their retirement benefits and their perpetual disqualification from public office. If the penalty can no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of a fine equivalent to one year’s salary is to be imposed, in addition to the accessory penalties, the Ombudsman said.

Morales also found Police Director George Piano, Chief Supt. Luis Saligumba, Senior Supt. Job Nolan Antonio and Senior Supt. Edgar Paatan, all members of the PNP’s inspection and acceptance committee, liable for simple neglect of duty. They were ordered suspended for six months without pay.

Joel CL Garcia, aka Joel Crisostomo de Leon Garcia, Ronald Lee, Ma. Linda Padojinog and Ruben Gongona, all members of the PNP national headquarters’ bids and awards committee and technical working group, were ordered suspended for one month without pay.

For his failure to take a “more proactive” stance as a member of the oversight committee and acting service chief of the Installations and Logistic Service, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Director Conrado Sumanga Jr. was given a stern warning by Morales to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 10:15 AM
CA ruling on fugitive Lee to be challenged

By TJ Burgonio, Tonette Orejas

Inquirer Central Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:37 am | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The government will challenge in the Supreme Court the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of the syndicated estafa charge against a coaccused of fugitive Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee, Malacañang said Monday.

The syndicated estafa charge against Cristina Sagun was downgraded to simple estafa after she was dropped from the case, a development that would allow Lee, who has been in hiding to avoid arrest, to post bail.

Lee may surface after the Court of Appeals ordered on Feb. 11 to quash the information for syndicated estafa against one of his coaccused, his lawyer said on Monday.

“We spoke to [Justice] Secretary [Leila] de Lima this morning and the government intends to pursue the case. We are challenging the decision of the Court of Appeals in the Supreme Court,” Undersecretary Abigail Valte, the deputy presidential spokesperson, said in a briefing.

De Lima said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would bring the case to the high court even if her department had yet to receive on Monday a copy of the latest appellate court ruling.

“But my instructions are for the DOJ, through the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General), to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court,” De Lima said in a text message.

The syndicated estafa charge involved billions of pesos in allegedly anomalous loans that Lee’s company, Globe Asiatique, obtained from the government for a housing project in Pampanga province.

Globe Asiatique was accused of using “ghost borrowers” and fake documents to obtain more than P6.5 billion in loans from Pag-Ibig (Home Development Mutual Fund), for its Xevera housing project in Mabalacat and Bacolor towns.

‘Grave injustice’

Vice President Jejomar Binay said the appellate court’s resolution brought “grave injustice” to the victims of the alleged scam.

Binay ordered Pag-Ibig, which he chairs, to coordinate with the DOJ and the OSG and file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The DOJ has 60 days to get a temporary restraining order against the appellate court ruling.

“We owe it not only to the victims of Delfin Lee but to all the members of Pag-Ibig to pursue the case,” Binay said in a statement. “Those who are responsible for this scam should be brought to justice,” he said.

Pag-Ibig cap exceeded

Documents showed that Globe Asiatique took out P7.031 billion for 9,951 housing loan accounts from the Pag-Ibig Fund from March 2008 to August 2010. The amount exceeded the P500-million annual cap given by Pag-Ibig to its accredited developers.

The houses, it turned out, were in the names of “special buyers” or people who were paid to take out the loans. The contracts and titles were supposed to be amended to bear the name of the real buyers.

This scheme was reportedly hidden because it was Globe Asiatique that collected the amortization supposedly paid by the buyers. The scam surfaced when many of the houses were left unoccupied or were found being used by other people and not the legitimate buyers.

Case dismissed

The appellate court’s 10th Division has affirmed its October 2012 dismissing the syndicated estafa case filed by Pag-Ibig against Sagun, former head of Globe Asiatique’s documentation department, in a regional trial court in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The appellate court, in effect, denied with finality the motion filed by the OSG seeking a reconsideration of its Oct. 5, 2012, ruling.

Recall arrest warrant

“The pronouncement is without prejudice to the filing by the Department of Justice of other appropriate criminal charges, if warranted, against the other accused,” said the appellate court ruling penned by Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan.

The court also made it clear that not only must the warrant of arrest be recalled but the information for syndicated estafa must be quashed “since only one information was filed against all the accused.”

The ruling covered Lee, his son Dexter, Globe Asiatique chief accountant Cristina Salagan and Pag-Ibig lawyer Alex Alvarez.

The appellate court ruled last year that the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion by including Sagun in the case, pointing out that her job consisted of checking documents and verifying information about borrowers, hence, it was ministerial.

With the dismissal of the charges against Sagun, the number of accused is down to four, effectively downgrading the syndicated estafa case to simple estafa, a bailable offense.

Five accused are needed for a syndicated estafa case to proceed.

Palace dismayed

Valte said Malacañang was dismayed by the appellate court’s ruling, but would respect it.

“Of course we’re disappointed because our position is to prosecute the accused. But it doesn’t mean that we will not respect the decision. In fact, we’re taking the appropriate legal remedies against the decision.

“But you also understand the sentiment of the victims of the scam because if you’re a victim, it’s hard to understand the technicality in the case. So, we are pursuing the case for the government,” Valte said.

While there’s a P2-million reward for information leading to the arrest of Lee, Valte acknowledged that fugitives like the housing developer have “resources” to evade the authorities.

Lee may surface

Willie Rivera, Lee’s lawyer, said his client “benefited” from the appellate court’s Feb. 11 resolution favoring Sagun.

“Yes, Mr. Delfin Lee may appear,” Rivera told the Inquirer on Monday.

But he said Lee would surface only if Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the City of San Fernando Regional Trial Court Branch 42 would comply with the Feb. 11 order of the appellate court to quash the information for syndicated estafa and recall and lift the arrest warrant.

Immediate compliance

“The rule is immediate compliance. Otherwise, [Reyes] could be charged administratively or face contempt,” Rivera said.

It was in May 2012 when Reyes found probable cause for syndicated estafa and ordered the arrest of Lee and his coaccused.

When there is no more syndicated estafa case, Lee can post bail, Rivera said.

Reyes could not be reached for comment on Monday because she was attending a five-day training program.—With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 10:25 AM
^^^ Maybe Fred Lim is the one who should be going after Delfin Lee...

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 11:45 AM
PNP won’t create fact-finding team on slay of Siman’s aide

By Cecille Suerte Felipe

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 19, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) is not likely to create a fact-finding team to investigate the killing of a junior police officer identified with slain suspected gambling lord Vic Siman in Calamba City last weekend.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the local police will handle the probe on the murder of Police Officer 2 Rufino de Ocampo Mendoza in Calamba City, Laguna last Feb. 16.

“There’s no need for a fact-finding team and the incident will be investigated by the local police on instruction of Calabarzon Police director Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona,” Cerbo added. Estipona ordered Laguna Police director Senior Superintendent Pascual Muñoz to look into possible links between Mendoza’s murder and the killing of Siman and his 12 companions in Atimonan, Quezon on Jan. 6.

The STAR learned that Mendoza was from Mindoro but transferred to Calamba City in 1997.

Mendoza was having a meal with his live-in partner in an eatery at Crossing when two men on a motorcycle pulled up and opened fire with a caliber .45 handgun last Saturday.

Cerbo said investigators could not yet see any indication of Mendoza’s link to Siman, but a police officer in Calabarzon, who requested anonymity, said investigators are looking at possible rivalry for the control of illegal gambling in the province as the motive behind the killing.

Probers said that Mendoza was allegedly involved in illegal gambling, particularly jueteng, video karera, and paihip operations in Calamba.

The same police officer told The STAR that Siman helped Mendoza put up video karera machines in the area.

The same source said Siman and Mendoza became friends when the policeman was assigned at Calauan town, where he moonlighted as the gambling lord’s security and was also on the take in jueteng payola. Superintendent Caesar Tannagan, Calamba City police chief, said that Mendoza had been receiving death threats and was seeking assistance from a cousin, who was also a police officer, shortly before his death.

The source said Mendoza’s cousin was also reportedly involved in jueteng. He said the gunmen were reportedly from a Batangas and Quezon group.

President Aquino has yet to make public the report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the Atimonan killing, where police and military officers were among the victims.

Superintendent Hansel Marantan, team leader in the Atimonan police operation, maintained regularity in the incident despite questions raised by both PNP and NBI on the manner the checkpoint was carried out.

Marantan, the only police officer wounded in the incident, remains confined at the PNP General Hospital. – With Ed Amoroso

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 08:49 AM
Who’s liable

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:31 pm | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The public smelled a rat then, and true enough, a Senate committee report now confirms it: The tens of thousands of gallons of untreated waste dumped into Philippine waters by US Navy contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia of Malaysia (through its local subsidiary Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc.) in October 2012 was no accident or honest mistake. It was a clear violation of the Philippines’ environmental and marine protection laws, and—more appalling—a result of the relevant government agencies’ failure to do their job in enforcing the law and making the US Navy contractor toe the line.

“The case at hand is a classic illustration of how legislation remains good on paper, but are unable to achieve the policy goals defined in these laws,” said the Feb. 5 report issued by the Senate committees on foreign relations and on environment and natural resources.

The case involved Glenn Defense’s unloading of some 189,500 liters of domestic waste and about 760 liters of bilge (oil-stained) water into Subic Bay. The sewage had been collected from the US Navy ship USS Emory Land, but the company’s defense at the time was the preposterous claim that “what we get from the US Navy is already pretreated wastewater… [This is] even cleaner than the ones coming out of our respective homes”—or so said Glenn Defense Philippines CEO Mateo Mayuga, a retired vice admiral.

“The US Navy and even commercial vessels have water treatment facilities aboard their ships,” Mayuga added. “It’s a practice in the US Navy that you don’t give away untreated wastewater.”

But that claim was quickly debunked by the US Navy itself, which admitted through Capt. Glenn Pendrick, commanding officer of USS Emory Land, that the ship “has no waste treatment facility, [which is why] we hire third-party contractors.”

Even so, the waste was not “hazardous,” protested the company. Lormelyn Claudio, Environmental Management Bureau director for Central Luzon, concurred on the grounds that the detritus didn’t meet the technical definition of the term: “It is septage, not hazardous waste. It’s domestic waste.” A less malodorous word, of course, for plain feces.

That defense also crumbled in the light of tests conducted by the Subic Water and Sewerage Co. on water samples from Glenn Guardian and another support ship, the results of which showed that the vessels carried “sewage waste with high levels of toxicity” that were “beyond the permissible limits” and exceeded Philippine standards. The findings, said Roberto Garcia, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair, only “confirmed that [Glenn Defense] did not treat the waste, which it should have.”

How could Glenn Defense have disregarded those limits and flouted our environmental laws? The Senate report said the company even failed “to comply with the government’s permitting process” and to acquire “the necessary accreditation as a hazardous waste collector and transporter.”

Violation after violation—and who is ultimately liable for this virtual assault on the country’s marine environment? Sadly, over and above the liability of the reckless US Navy contractor, greater blame appears to lie in the hands of government agencies whose incompetence and inaction all but allowed the incident to happen.

There was “no formal coordinating mechanism” between and among the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and SBMA “with respect to the enforcement of marine protection laws, particularly in areas under the administrative supervision of SBMA,” lamented the Senate report. “It is precisely in the absence of such coordinating mechanism that Glenn Defense was able to impose its own interpretation of our laws, rules and regulations, with neither the SBMA, DENR nor PCG intervening in ways that public interest will be upheld.”

The DENR is guilty of a “lack of effective environmental leadership,” the report said.

Which should explain not only how Subic Bay—and who knows which other parts of Philippine waters—has become a dumping ground for other countries’ refuse, but also how the US Navy, so soon after the incident, could again run afoul of Philippine environmental laws by barreling through the protected, ecologically fragile Tubbataha Reef and ending up with one of its ships run aground there.

If the earlier incident is any indication, then the stink of this latest debacle will probably reach all the way to the cushy offices of the country’s impotent environmental overlords—as usual. Time to crack the whip on them.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 08:06 AM
Judge on leave; court order on Globe Asiatique housing scam stalled

Inquirer Central Luzon

4:10 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—The implementation of a Court of Appeals order quashing the charges of syndicated estafa against a Globe Asiatique (GA) officer, Cristina Sagun, and recalling the arrest warrant against her has been delayed because the judge handling the case has yet to report for work.

The court order could save fugitive housing developer and GA president Delfin Lee and three others from prison as they would be allowed to post bail if the charges are reduced to simple estafa.

Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 42, who is supposed to implement the appellate court’s Feb. 11 resolution, is on a five-day training course outside the province starting Feb. 18 and will not be back until Feb. 25.

It was Reyes who in May 2012 found probable cause to indict Sagun, the GA documentation chief, for syndicated estafa together with Lee, the latter’s son Dexter, GA accountant Cristina Salagan and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund) lawyer Alex Alvarez.

They were accused of using fake and ghost Pag-Ibig Fund members to avail of P7 billion in housing loans for GA’s Xevera projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat towns in Pampanga from 2008 to 2011.

President Aquino raised the reward for the arrest of Lee, who remains at large, to P2 million.

No probable cause

According to Lee’s lawyer, Willie Rivera, only a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court can stop Reyes from complying with the appellate court’s order. “It should be immediately implemented,” Rivera said.

With only four accused left, there is no more legal basis for syndicated estafa, he pointed out. The law requires five or more persons colluding to commit the crime of syndicated estafa.

“[There] is simply no probable cause to indict [Sagun] of the crime of syndicated estafa, nor is there sufficient evidence to prove her knowledge and/or participation in the alleged fraudulent acts of Globe Asiatique and its officers,” Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan wrote in the Feb. 11 resolution upholding her Oct. 5, 2012, resolution.

Sagun, she said, was “only guilty of not exercising her functions diligently and in a prudent manner.”

But the Department of Justice said it would pursue the syndicated estafa case and take the case to the Supreme Court.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has been harping on the Pag-Ibig Fund controversy, using it to attack Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, a former Pag-Ibig Fund president and chief executive officer who is now the Team PNoy spokesperson.

Being in LP a burden

Quimbo said his membership in the ruling Liberal Party did not give him immunity from any suit that may arise from the alleged scam.

“Membership in the LP, unlike other parties, serves as a burden to conduct oneself beyond reproach and follow the example of [President Aquino],” he said.

“From the beginning, I have always been strong in my condemnation of the fraud that Delfin Lee brought on the Pag-Ibig Fund and its members,” Quimbo said.

He claimed that the reported irregularities occurred after he was replaced as Pag-Ibig president and CEO in March 2009.—Tonette Orejas

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 08:07 AM
Biazon: Aquino not out to get Enrile, new EO on used-car import needed

By Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:48 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

STA. ANA, Cagayan—Even as he denied the Aquino administration was going after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Wednesday urged President Aquino to issue a new executive order to settle once and for all whether the importation of used cars should be allowed in the country.

Biazon said the new executive order would settle the “conflict” between Executive Order No. 156, which bans the importation of used cars, and EO 418, which importers claim allows the importation.

Carrying his own camera, Biazon inspected the more than 200 cars that were stopped from leaving the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) here after the Supreme Court upheld EO 156.

“To clarify EO 156 and EO 418, probably the issuance of a new EO is the right thing to do to settle all of these legal questions,” Biazon told reporters after his inspection.

“Probably the President can issue another EO to clarify those matters and settle our national policy on whether the importation of second-hand vehicles should be allowed,” he added.

Pending such a move from the Palace, Biazon said his marching orders from Malacañang were to “uphold the Supreme Court ruling” on EO 156. Customs stopped the 200 second-hand cars from leaving Port Irene.

Is Enrile accused?

Enrile sponsored the creation of the CSEZFP but Biazon said he has not been instructed to get Enrile.

“There’s no such instruction. The last instruction that I got was to uphold the Supreme Court decision,” said Biazon.

“And I don’t think it’s necessary…. Is there any accusation against Senator Enrile?” he added.

While calling for the issuance of a new EO, Biazon said the “bigger picture” should be considered since importing second-hand vehicles was affecting local car distributors.

“It affects those who put up businesses in our country (and they have the) downstream benefit of employment. Local distributors employ more people than importers,” he said.

“So, the impact is big if they are affected by these imports. And that effect is also felt downstream,” he added.

Ruling cheered

In Manila, local distributors of luxury car brands cheered the high court decision upholding the ban on the importation of second-hand cars that have been a bane of their business for years.

“We believe that the government knows what’s best for our country,” said Robert Coyiuto, chairman of PGA Cars, which distributes Audi and Porsche cars in the country.

Maricar Parco, president of Asian Carmakers Corp., which distributes BMWs in the country, said the industry fully supported the high court’s decision upholding EO 156. “We believe that this will serve as protection to the auto industry,” she said.

“When customers buy from authorized dealers, they are assured of competitive pricing, proper vehicle emission specification and road worthiness, and most importantly, after-sales support,” Parco added.

Drop in sales

Sales of luxury car brands dropped by 14 percent to 2,067 units in 2012 from 2,400 units the previous year despite the boom in the economy.

The top two brands—BMW and Mercedes Benz—saw their sales drop by 15 percent and 31 percent, respectively, while Audi yielded the No. 3 spot to Lexus (up 40 percent) as its sales fell by 27 percent.

Biazon said that for 2012, duties and taxes from imported second-hand cars that went through the Cagayan free port amounted to only P300 million.

“So, while we may lose revenue (when stopping) these importations, we must look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture to me is that the local industries provide more downstream benefits than importers,” Biazon said.

More clarification

He said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was also seeking clarification from the Supreme Court on the effectivity of its decision on EO 156. He said the second-hand cars arrived on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15 while the high court order was dated Jan. 7.

“The (importers) received a copy of the decision in late January after the arrival of the vehicles. Again, we want to clarify at what point to consider the applicability of the decision,” Biazon said.

“But those vehicles that are still coming, definitely we will treat them using the decision,” he added.

Biazon downplayed reports of smuggling at the free port. “Please remember that mere arrival does not automatically mean that it is smuggled because this is a free-port zone,” Biazon said.

“We won’t let them out here, but if we see a legal basis for their importation, of course we are duty-bound to process them and collect the duties,” he added.

Biazon said he would formally inform the President about his recommendation for the issuance of a new EO when he submits his findings to the Palace.

Among the cars Biazon inspected at the Apollo Cagayan Trading Corp. garage inside the free port included a Boxter Porsche with a price tag of P700,000 to P800,000 and several BMW Z-3 roadsters with prices ranging from P500,000 to P800,000.

Customs Deputy Collector Leilani Alameda said the importation of second-hand cars began at Port Irene in 2005. She said their duties and taxes are computed in Manila.—With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 08:17 AM
Ex-Lacson aide wants to rejoin PNP

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:27 am | Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Michael Ray Aquino, a former aide and coaccused of Sen. Panfilo Lacson in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, has applied for reinstatement in the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Inquirer learned on Tuesday.

Inquirer sources in Camp Crame said Aquino submitted his application for reinstatement to the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM) last week.

A senior police official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak with the media, said Aquino had wanted to “clear his name and redeem his honor.”

“Ninoy (Aquino’s nickname) has been accused of so many things since he left the PNP after he was implicated in the Dacer-Corbito case,” the source said.

“He apparently intends to clear his name and redeem his honor. He wants to prove that he can still serve his country despite what he had been through,” the official added.

Another source, a classmate of Aquino in the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988, said the former police official wanted to rejoin the PNP to get the benefits due him as a former government employee.

“He has every reason to ask for the release of the financial benefits he should receive as a former police official,” the second source said.

Reached on his mobile phone, Aquino did not categorically deny that he had asked the PNP to take him back.

Asked if he had indeed submitted his application for reinstatement, he said in Filipino: “Who told you that? I don’t know about it.”

“I cannot answer your question because (the documents) are with my lawyer. But it’s my right (to apply for reinstatement) for purposes of claims of benefits,” he said.

Pressed to elaborate, Aquino said: “The documents are with my lawyer, but I don’t know what they contained.”

Director Catalino Cuy, DPRM chief, said he was not aware if his office had received Aquino’s application for reinstatement.

“I don’t think he can still apply because it’s been a while since he was discharged (from the PNP),” Cuy told the Inquirer.

Aquino, a former police senior superintendent, flew to the US in 2001 shortly after he, Lacson and several other police officials were tagged in the abduction and killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

Later, he was accused of illegally accepting classified US secret documents supposedly as part of a plot to overthrow then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was subsequently arrested in the US in 2005 for an espionage case.

The former intelligence police officer pleaded guilty in 2006 for possession of secret documents and was sentenced to a 76-month prison term.

He was extradited to the country in June last year in connection with the Dacer-Corbito twin slays, but was ordered released by a Manila regional trial court six months later for lack of evidence.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 10:10 AM
3 drug dealers ‘snatched’ from jail guards

By Cecille Suerte Felipe

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Was it a kidnapping or a daring rescue from life in prison?

About 20 armed men snatched from jail guards a notorious Chinese drug dealer, his wife and a companion in Trece Martires, Cavite yesterday morning while the three were being escorted to a court hearing for a drug-related case.

All three have been convicted of drug trafficking.

Initial reports from Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, Calabarzon police director, said Chinese nationals Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy; his wife Wang Li Na, and Li Tian Hua were taken at around 10 a.m. in Barangay Lapidalio in Trece Martires. The three were arrested in 2003 and are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the dangerous drugs act.

Estipona said the three foreigners were escorted by four provincial jail guards when the armed men blocked their path. At gunpoint, the armed men opened the vehicle of the jail guards and grabbed the three Chinese from stunned guards.

Police said the armed men also took two handguns from the jail guards and boarded the getaway vehicle, a white van with license plate WTT-544 that was later abandoned at Barangay Aguado in Trece Martires.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II ordered a thorough investigation of the incident and vowed not to spare anyone found liable.

Roxas directed the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to lead the investigation.

He clarified that members of the provincial jail of Cavite, which is under the supervision of the Cavite government, were escorting the three Chinese suspects, and not jail guards of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia, head of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) Intelligence and Investigation Division, said Li was considered one of the biggest drug lords before his arrest in 2003.

Lawmen seized from the suspect about P500-million worth of shabu and equipment used in manufacturing the drug.

Li was the owner of a shabu laboratory in Barangay Kapipisa in Tanza, Cavite and three shabu warehouses in Quezon City, Pasay City and Parañaque City at the time of his arrest, Merdegia said.

Merdegia said with Li’s escape, the policemen who worked hard for his arrest were disappointed and their lives are now in danger.

Merdegia said the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court had convicted the three Chinese of drug charges on April 29, 2009.

Their fourth companion Yan Ching Yi was acquitted by the same court.

Merdegia said the ringleader Li had amassed wealth from his illegal drug operations.

“He has a condominium in Marina Bay Homes, an exclusive subdivision, he had a Jaguar, beach resorts worth P46 million, three huge properties in Zambales, a mansion in Zambales, and bank accounts. He had five townhouses worth P8 million each,” said Merdegia.

Based on AIDSOTF records, Li’s shabu warehouses were located at the Marina, Bayview Homes in Paraaque, Horse Shoe Townhouse in Quezon City, and Lancaster Townhomes in Barangay 70 in Pasay City.

He pointed out some government agencies started forfeiture proceedings of all his assets but Li’s lawyer questioned this and such remains pending in court.

Merdegia revealed that on Aug. 31, 2011, Chief Superintendent Federico Laciste wrote a letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, informing her that the Ampang-Colangco robbery group was reportedly planning to rescue Li and his group for a fee of P50 million.

Laciste reportedly obtained the information from a member of the Ampang-Colangco group who was earlier arrested in a police operation.

Merdegia could not say what was the action taken by the Justice Department on the information about the plan to spring the suspects.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 07:58 AM
Cagayan free port zone not quite its Subic cousin 17 years after creation

By Melvin Gascon

Inquirer Northern Luzon

7:00 am | Friday, February 22nd, 2013

STA. ANA, Cagayan—For people unfamiliar with the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) here, every mention of this free port, as well as the government agency that is tasked to manage and supervise its operations, brings to mind a visual comparison with the more familiar Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales.

First-time visitors who expect to see a developed and urban Subic-like environment usually end up disappointed, as there is little or no comparison. Others, however, would love the rural setting: less crowds, clean beaches, fresh air and verdant rice fields that complement the mountains in the background.

The CSEZFP was created through Republic Act 7922, known as the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who is a native of neighboring Gonzaga town. It is located at the northeastern tip of Luzon mainland, about 620 km north of Manila.

The free port occupies all of 441,000 hectares of Sta. Ana, or an area almost three times the size of Quezon City. It also includes the far-off islands of Fuga, Barit and Mabbag, which are under the jurisdiction of Aparri town.

In its entirety, the free port covers approximately 54,000 hectares of “urban, suburban and agro-industrial lands for prime development,” according to the website of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the agency tasked to manage and supervise its operations.

There has been sporadic development in the town, mainly spurred by enterprising locals and foreign investors, known here as “locators.” Officials said CEZA’s main thrust is to develop the CSEZFP as an interactive gaming, shipping and ecotourism hub in Southeast Asia.

From its main entrance in Casambalangan village, visitors are greeted by a view overlooking the rows and clusters of imported used cars, vans, buses and trucks like a sprawling, unorganized parking lot, with makeshift hangars and single-story buildings interspersed within the five-hectare yard.

The concrete road then swoops downhill and splits: to the left is the main gate to Port Irene, CSEZFP’s main port, and to the right, the road that proceeds to Santa Ana town proper and traversing five villages until it hits a dead end at the fish port in San Vicente village, 20 kilometers from the entrance.

The 1.5-km access road leading to Port Irene, which is undergoing repair, is a paved two-lane boulevard, now being put to good use—or as what locals said, “abused”—mainly by scores of dump trucks that transport processed magnetite to the port from black-sand mining sites in the six northern towns of Cagayan, for export to China.

On Wednesday, port officials momentarily stopped the Philippine Daily Inquirer at Port Irene’s main gate and requested them not to take photographs of the port facilities because “there is nothing to see there, and everything is still messy and ugly (magulo at saka pangit pa).”

Two newly painted warehouses stand out as the main structures at the port, which on Wednesday were under tight security. Locals at a nearby store and eatery said a “VIP” (very important person) was inside.

A two-story building sits behind, supposedly occupied by ForerunnerMulti-Resources Inc., the main car importer of used vehicles.

In another compound, mounds of black sand towered above the fences, waiting to be loaded to a 7,000-ton cargo ship that was then docked at the main pier.

Equipment used for loading were idle, and laborers loitered, in stark contrast to the day before when two ships loaded with magnetite left Port Irene.

Except for a helicopter that was shuttling all day to and from behind the gated compound at the back of the warehouses, there was little activity there on Wednesday, even as port officials denied having been made aware of the scheduled visit of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.

Almost adjacent to the car lot in Casambalangan is the main residential area, with two single-pump gasoline stations, a covered barangay (village) gymnasium and a public high school serving as local landmarks.

The next 10 kilometers of the main road, traversing Rapuli and Diora-Zinungan villages, open up to a mostly underdeveloped rural landscape, providing a scenic view of the bay on the left and dotted by a number of beach resorts. The imposing jai-alai fronton of the CEZA-licensed Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. can be seen along the way.

Development is starting to shape along the road’s 3-kilometer stretch from Barangay Diora-Zinungan to Barangay Centro, where the casino complex of the Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd., along with a row of villas that provide five-star accommodation to its foreign players, dominates the landscape. The town center has also started to show some signs of development, with a number of business establishments already operating, such as a rural bank, two gasoline stations, construction-supply stores, mini-grocery outlets and restaurants.

Toward the end of this main business district is the Sta. Ana public market, which comes alive with business activity on Thursdays and Sundays, the designated market days.

The scenery then reverts to its countryside feature in Palawig and Santa Cruz villages, occasionally disrupted by random business structures.

But once in the village of Tangatan, visitors are greeted by the imposing view of the structures at the Sun City Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort, another casino-cum-resort here, which caters mostly to foreign gamblers.

The whole complex extends to the village of San Vicente and shares the use of the airstrip of the Philippine Navy’s Camilo Osias Operating Base here.

The end of the national road leads to the San Vicente fish port, which also serves as a docking facility for passenger ferries bound for the eastern coastal towns of Isabela, as well as for boats that bring tourists to nearby Palaui Island, one of the town’s main tourist attractions.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 07:59 AM
Immigration officers ordered to be on alert for ‘freed’ Chinese drug dealers

By Tetch Torres-Tupas

INQUIRER.net

7:10 pm | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. ordered immigration officers to be on alert for the three Chinese drug dealers who were snatched from the police by several armed men last Wednesday.

“Upon receipt and confirmation of the ‘escape,’ immediately ordered (are) immigration officers to be on alert and if subject(s) are encountered (they are ) to immediately secure the persons and their documents,” Bureau of Immigration Intelligence Chief and Spokesperson Atty. Maria Antonette Mangrobang said in a text message Thursday.

Reports said the three Chinese nationals Li Tian Hua, Wang Li Na and Li Fan Yan were taken at around 10 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Lapidalio in Trece Martires City, Cavite.

The three were arrested in 2003 and are facing a case for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 01:42 PM
23 Batangas cops face raps

(The Philippine Star)

| Updated February 22, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-three officers of the Batangas police are facing administrative charges for the killing of a former aide of an alleged gambling kingpin of Southern Tagalog and the Bicol region.

Director Alexander Roldan, Internal Affairs Service (IAS) chief, said the charges stemmed from the unlawful arrest of Fernando Morales Jr., alias Pandoy, in San Juan, Batangas last Jan. 14.

Roldan has requested Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima to place the 23 police officers in restrictive custody.

He said the officers committed serious irregularities in the performance of duties when they tried to arrest Morales, an aide of alleged jueteng lord Vic Siman.

Siman was killed along with 12 men in the controversial shootout in Atimonan, Quezon, barely a week before Morales was slain.

Morales was shot dead after he reportedly tried to shoot it out with a group of policemen who knocked on his door past 1 a.m. to serve an arrest warrant for illegal possession of firearms.

“The PNP personnel used excessive force and violence in arresting the victim, who was subjected to greater restraint than what is necessary,” the IAS memorandum stated.

The 23 officers were Superintendent Raul Tacaca; Chief Inspectors Cristito Acohon; Rodolfo Ama; Inspector Kent Jerek Capadosa; SPO4 Arturo Patulot; SPO2 Edgardo Ilagan; SPOs1 Edilberto Eje; Erwin Cetron; Rodrigo Arguelles; Gener Pineda; POs3 Danilo Piol; Allan Natanauan; Luis Alexander Capacia; Jonathan Cansanay; Mark Christopher Aala; Florencio Austria; Christian Caguimbal; Ruel Dimaano and Marlon Aguado; POs2 Reynold Ramirez; Bernie Alday; Herbert Rellora and PO1 Michael de Castro.

Roldan said the IAS recommended the filing of separate administrative charges against Chief Superintendent Abner Dimabuyu and Senior Superintendent Rosauro Acio, but they have to wait for presidential clearance, owing to the officers’ ranks.

Acio and Dimabuyu were indicted for serious irregularities for failing to supervise the operation and to “take corrective action by way of warning, advise, admonition, suggestion or disciplinary action to subordinates,” the IAS noted.

Although the arresting team managed to restrain Morales, the IAS prosecution division said they failed to inform him of his rights under the Miranda Doctrine.

Sam Miguel
02-28-2013, 08:16 AM
Mikey Arroyo in-laws ordered out of Forbes Park home

Eviction team stalled by owner, lawyer

By Jodee A. Agoncillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:35 am | Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

A team composed of three sheriffs backed up by a 10-man eviction force and three policemen has thrice attempted but failed to enforce court orders evicting the relatives of Angela Montenegro, wife of Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, from their two-story mansion in Forbes Park, Makati City.

The team first attempted on Monday to serve a writ of possession issued by Judge Winlove Dumayas of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59 on the occupants of the house.

They were unsuccessful although they returned at 8 a.m. Tuesday in another attempt to enforce the court order.

The team’s efforts, however, were thwarted by Herman Montenegro, the owner of the house, and his lawyer, Arturo de Castro.

According to sheriff Rommel Ignacio, the two demanded a writ of execution, not a writ of possession. The document, along with the notice/demand to vacate, should be addressed to the “third party intervenor” in the case: Montenegro’s son, Gregorio, they added.

Gregorio is the present occupant of the house which sits on a 1,750-sq m lot at 132 Cambridge Circle, North Forbes.

The writ of possession (court order used to enforce judgement to recover a piece of land or property) dated Aug. 17, 2012 and notice to vacate dated Sept. 4, 2012, being served by the team are addressed to H. M. Montenegro and Associates Inc., a company owned by Montenegro.

De Castro, however, said that the team should notify the family and the third party claimant as the firm is not the occupant of the house.

Collateral for a loan

The Montenegros used to own the house which was built in the ’60s until it was mortgaged to the Bank of the Philippine Islands as collateral for a P135.8 million loan.


Rep. Mikey Arroyo with wife Angela PHOTO BY JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN

The property, however, was foreclosed by the bank. It was bought by businessman Emilio Tiu for P101.1 million in an auction last year.

A third attempt to serve the writ of possession Tuesday afternoon also resulted in the eviction team being turned away after they were confronted by a woman who said she was a kin of the Montenegros.

“There are children in this house and you are bringing goons here. This is a criminal [offense]. This is hostage! Bring it out in court! Are you animals that you would bring goons here? Shame on you!” she told the team.

No such thing

Ignacio, meanwhile, brushed aside the demand of the Montenegros and their lawyer that his team present a writ of execution.

“The writ of possession is enough; there’s no such thing as a writ of execution,” he told the Inquirer.

On the other hand, Tiu’s lawyer, Norman Bueno, observed that the Montenegros seemed bent on contesting the court order.

“There is resistance to the lawful order of the court [even though] it granted the writ of possession in August and all prayers and appeals were decided in [my client’s favor],” he said.

Angela Montenegro is the daughter of Herman Montenegro. She married Arroyo, her second cousin, in 2002. The couple are facing tax evasion cases in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court filed against them by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for their alleged failure to file their income tax returns for several years.

Sam Miguel
03-04-2013, 11:41 AM
It’s final: SC drops ‘Kuratong’ murder raps vs Lacson

By Tetch Torres-Tupas

INQUIRER.net

10:23 am | Monday, March 4th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed with finality the multiple murder case against Senator Panfilo Lacson in connection with the Kuratong Baleleng rubout.

In a two-page resolution, the high court denied the appeal filed by the government’s Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for failure to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of its last year’s ruling.

“The court resolved to deny with finality the said motion for reconsideration as the basic issues raised therein have been passed upon by this court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” the resolution stated.

In December last year, the high court upheld the November 2003 decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81 that dismissed the multiple murder case against Lacson and 33 others.

In a 24-page decision, the high court through Associate Justice Roberto Abad, said QC RTC Branch 81 Judge Ma. Theresa Yadao did not abuse her discretion when she dismissed the case against Lacson and several others for lack of probable cause.

Probable cause are facts discovered through investigation that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that a person has committed a crime and deserves to be prosecuted.

“The court agrees with Judge Yadao that the above affidavits and reports, taken together with the other documents of record, fail to establish probable cause against the respondents,” the high court said.

Prosecutors have submitted to the lower court five affidavits from witnesses and reports from the Philippine National Police.

Still, the prosecutors said, Judge Yadao should have ordered them to present additional evidence as stated under Rule 112 of the Rules of Court if she still has doubts in determining if there is probable cause to order the arrest of the accused or not.

But the high court pointed that requiring the prosecutors to present additional evidence is not mandatory.

“The court’s first option is for it to immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. That is the situation here: the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause against the respondents,” the high court said.

“It is only ‘in case of doubt on the existence of probable cause’ that the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five days from notice. But that is not the case here. Discounting the affidavits [submitted by the prosecution], nothing is left in the record that presents some doubtful probability that respondents committed the crime charged.”
“In the absence of probable cause to indict respondents for the crime of multiple murder, they should be insulated from the tribulations, expenses and anxiety of a public trial,” the high court added.

Yadao, in her ruling said the evidence submitted by the prosecution as well as the testimonies of the new witnesses — Senior Inspectors Ismael Yu and Abelardo Ramos, Senior Police Officer 1 Wilmor Medes, SPO2 Noel Seno and civilian agent Mario Enad — were “full of loopholes making the accusations less credible and bereft of merit.”

Lacson, along with Chief Superintendents Jewel Canson, Romeo Acop and Francisco Zubia, Senior Superintendents Michael Ray Aquino, Cesar Mancao III and Glenn Dumlao and 31 other police officers were indicted for the murder of the alleged members of Kuratong Baleleng robbery gang on May 18, 1995.

Lacson used to lead Task Force Habagat of the defunct Presidential Anti-Crime Commission headed by then Vice President Joseph Estrada.

Sam Miguel
03-07-2013, 08:57 AM
35 cops, soldiers face slay raps

NBI report: ‘Atimonan 13’ killings a rubout

By Christine O. Avendaño, TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:03 am | Thursday, March 7th, 2013

“All indications point to a rubout.”

Agreeing with investigators’ findings of a summary execution, President Aquino on Wednesday ordered the filing of multiple murder charges against 35 police officers and Army soldiers over the Jan. 6 incident in Atimonan, Quezon province, that left 13 people dead.

Facing charges are Supt. Hansel Marantan, leader of the police team involved in the killings, his former immediate superior Chief Supt. James Melad, and 19 other policemen and 14 Army personnel, officials said.

Briefing reporters on the findings, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the probable motive for the killings was territorial rivalry between Vic Siman and Marantan involving jueteng, or illegal numbers racket, and other gambling activities in Laguna.

De Lima said Marantan was protecting a certain Ka Tita whose jueteng operations affected that of Siman’s.

The justice secretary said Siman, described as the gambling lord in the province, was also after the head of Marantan. “It was a race to get each other,” she said.

Aquino accepts findings in full

After a thorough review of the National Bureau of Investigation executive report on the incident, the President “accepted its findings in full,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

“He has directed De Lima to file the appropriate criminal and administrative charges against Hansel Marantan, James Melad and others,” she said.

The Philippine National Police officers also faced administrative charges.

“From the very beginning what the President said was, ‘We will find those responsible for this.’ If there is any culpability, we will press charges,” Valte said in a briefing.

A portion of the executive summary of the NBI report read: “Ultimately the NBI probe reached the conclusion that no shootout occurred, validating the initial result of the PNP fact-finding committee. The probe findings also showed that the victims were summarily executed and all indications point to a rubout.”

Three police officers and 10 others were killed in the alleged 20-minute gun battle at a checkpoint along a sparsely populated stretch of Maharlika Highway in Atimonan.

Marantan, leader of the team manning the checkpoint, was the only one wounded among 50 policemen and Army Special Forces troops who allegedly shot it out with the group of alleged “jueteng” operator Victor Siman, who also was killed.

Valte said the Department of Justice (DOJ) had an airtight case against the police officers, citing testimonial as well as documentary evidence.

“Many pieces of evidence were gathered by the PNP fact-finding [team] and the NBI investigation. They have eyewitness accounts, and then of course, documentary evidence,” Valte said, but declined to say if the witnesses included policemen present during the incident. “If you go through it, you will see the kind of case that the NBI and the DOJ built up.”

Diversionary tactic?

Valte quashed speculations that the announcement of the President’s action on the Atimonan incident report was meant to divert public attention from the crisis in Sabah created by the incursion of an armed group from the sultanate of Sulu.

“Some have been following up on this for some time, and we have been diligently doing so. It has no connection whatsoever with the incident and what’s in the news. For our part, we promised the public that as soon as the report had been fully reviewed, we will make the results known and we are sticking to that commitment,” she said.

Valte deferred to the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government on what course of action to take against Marantan, Melad and other officers.

Aquino overwhelmed

“I will leave that to the PNP and to the DILG but the instructions of the President were to file the necessary criminal and administrative charges,” she said. “They will have an opportunity to present their side when the charges are filed.”

After getting a copy of the voluminous report from De Lima on Feb. 7, the President admitted being overwhelmed by it.

“It’s actually not that long. It’s just five inches thick. It weighs over six kilos and the briefer on it is 64 pages. It was my first time to read a book looking at the ceiling while seated at a table,” Aquino said then.

Valte said Aquino had been preoccupied with the review, among other matters, until news of the Sabah standoff broke out.

All accounted for

Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, PNP spokesman, said the police personnel implicated were all accounted for and would be made available in the DOJ investigation.

“You can be sure that the PNP will cooperate especially in ensuring the availability of the policemen involved in this case,” Cerbo said.

He said the policemen were either under restriction or under custody. Marantan is still in the hospital.

Also to be charged in addition to Marantan and Melad are P/Senior Insp. John Paolo Carracedo, SPO1 Arturo Sarmiento, P/Supt. Ramon Balauag, P/SInsp. Timoteo Orig, SP03 Joselito De Guzman, SP01 Carlo Cataquiz, P03 Eduardo Oronan, PO2 Nelson Indal, PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani, PO1 Wryan Sardea, PO1 Rodel Talento, PChief Insp. Grant Gollod, P/Insp.Ferdinand Aguilar, P/Insp. Evaristo San Juan, PO3 Benedict Dimayuga, PO2 Ronnie Serdena, PO1 Esperidion Corpuz Jr., PO1 Bernie De Leon, and PO1 Allen Ayubo.

For the military, those to be charged are Lt. Col. Monico Abang (battalion commander of the 1st Special Forces), Capt. Erwin Macalinao (commanding officer), 1Lt. Rico Tagure, TSgt. Melanio Balauitan, Cpl. Clark Magusara, PFC Michael Franco, PFC Kirby-Tam Coronel, PFC Alvin Roque Pabon, PFC Ricky Jay Borja, PFC Melvin Lumalang, PFC Gil Gallego, Pvt. Marc Zaldy Docdoc, Pvt. Emergin Barrete and Pvt. Michard Mangao.—With a report from Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Joescoundrel
03-09-2013, 10:18 AM
Whatever happened to…?

The Marvin Reglos hazing case

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:17 am | Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Seven suspects who were allegedly involved in the death of San Beda law freshman Marvin Reglos have yet to be issued warrants of arrest a year after the gruesome case of fraternity hazing hogged the headlines.

Two of those charged with murder—Eric Castillo and Bodjie Yap—remain detained at the Rizal Provincial Jail and are awaiting the resolution to their petition for bail.

Reglos, 25, was brought to the Unciano Medical Center in Antipolo, Rizal, in the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2012, and was pronounced dead on arrival from injuries allegedly sustained during a fraternity hazing rites in an Antipolo resort.

The victim, who wore a shirt bearing the name “Lambda Rho Beta,” bore bruises all over his body and an injury in the nape.

The group of men who brought him to the hospital reportedly left in a rush. Minutes later, however, Castillo and Yap, both law students from San Sebastian College, aroused suspicions when they inquired about Reglos’ condition.

Police arrested Castillo and Yap for inquest proceedings, and investigators later seized identification cards showing their membership in Lambda Rho Beta (LRB) Fraternity.

Suspicious text messages

They also found in their cell phones suspicious text messages in Filipino: “News blackout, don’t forget. Erase all messages on your phone regarding the initiation. Don’t answer if asked to name your officers.”

Another message read: “Nobody talks. That’s the order. Erase all messages ASAP. Even this one. You must all obey.”

On Feb. 22, 2012, based on evidence gathered from the inquest proceedings, the Antipolo City Prosecution Office charged both Castillo and Yap with murder in relation to the Anti-Hazing Law, a nonbailable offense.

Both pleaded not guilty in their arraignment.

Pressed for their group’s alleged involvement, LRB issued a statement pledging full cooperation in the parallel investigations of the Antipolo City Police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

A cofounder of LRB’s sister sorority, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also vowed an “honest to goodness” investigation of her “brods.”

In the course of the police investigation, two LRB neophytes who underwent the initiation with Reglos reportedly showed up at the Department of Justice to shed light on the case.

Identity verification

Police also said the security guard at the Guillean’s Place resort in Barangay San Roque, where the hazing allegedly took place, positively identified LRB members through photos shown to him.

Police added that after some verification, they were able to confirm that the red Honda City that brought Reglos to the hospital was traced to the father of LRB leader Eduardo Escobal II.

In March 2012, both Castillo and Yap filed a petition for bail in Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97 under Judge Miguel Asuncion, arguing that their guilt is not strong so as to deprive them of their right to bail.

In the same month, the NBI disclosed that based on a check made by the bureau, members of another fraternity stayed at Guillean’s Place. It added that one of the suspects—Christian Adobo—said he was neither a Lambda Rho member nor a San Beda student.

But the camp of Reglos dismissed the NBI findings, saying the bureau was just muddling the case built by the police.

Diversionary ploy

Then Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said he and De Lima agreed that the Antipolo City Police would be in charge of building the case against the suspects. He added that Adobo’s claim was probably a mere diversionary ploy to cover the fraternity’s tracks.

On June 4, 2012, after giving weight to evidence presented by the police, assistant city prosecutor Christian Banggui found probable cause against Escobal and alleged members Adobo, Kevin Jordan Mendoza, Norman Espinoza, Marco Antonio Ampil, Kevin Brian Pe, Israel Cruz and Margrien Archenar Gregana.

Escobal, however, reportedly died from a severe asthma attack in October and had to be removed from the charge sheet, bringing the number of the accused to nine.

No arrest warrant yet

No warrant of arrest has been issued against the seven others included in the charge sheet.

Between April and September, the Antipolo RTC Branch 97 conducted 12 hearings on Castillo and Yap’s petition for bail.

Last December, the court ordered both the defense and prosecution to file their memorandum in relation to the petition, which they submitted on Jan. 21 and Feb. 4, respectively. Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research

Joescoundrel
03-09-2013, 10:19 AM
Rubout

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:51 pm | Friday, March 8th, 2013

President Aquino’s decision to adopt the findings of a special inquiry by the National Bureau of Investigation into the Jan. 6 killing of 13 men in Atimonan, Quezon, should make a dent on the culture of impunity that has been fostered by the wider culture of violence and human rights abuse in the country. Agreeing with the report that the deaths were a result of summary execution and not a shootout, the President ordered the filing of multiple-murder charges against the police and military personnel involved.

To face the criminal charges are Supt. Hansel Marantan, leader of the police team at the fateful checkpoint; his former immediate superior, Chief Supt. James Melad; 19 other policemen; and 14 Army personnel. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the probable motive for the killings was territorial rivalry concerning “jueteng” and other illegal gambling rackets in Laguna. It appeared that Marantan was protecting a certain “Ka Tita,” whose jueteng operation was affecting that of Vic Siman, one of the victims.

The President has accepted the findings in full, sending a strong signal that the government would not tolerate corruption in the police and military.

It should be pointed out that Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima did not shield his men from inquiry. He immediately ordered the suspension of the Quezon police chief, Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, and Marantan. It was noted that Marantan’s team had violated procedures: An initial PNP investigation found that the policemen at the checkpoint were not in uniform, and that while uniformed officers were stationed 500 meters from the checkpoint, the area was not marked with police signs.

It is to the President’s credit that in tandem with the PNP investigation, he ordered another inquiry by the NBI for check and balance. He allowed the PNP to continue its investigation on the firearms and vehicles used in the alleged shootout, but ordered the findings submitted to the NBI.

The PNP complied and, on Jan. 15, submitted its report to the NBI. Short of saying that there was no shootout, it recommended the filing of criminal charges against the policemen and Army Special Forces who took part in the supposed encounter. It also recommended administrative charges against the policemen involved. The PNP panel found that there was a deliberate effort to make the crime scene look like the site of a gun battle. It found that excessive force was used, indicated by the gunshot wounds on the victims and the number of entry bullet holes on their vehicles: One had 174, and the other, 45. Eleven of the victims were shot in the head. The families of some of them had protested that they were not criminals.

The excessive violence reflects the culture of impunity engendered by the long-suspected common practice of summary execution in the police underworld. The practice has somehow been tolerated by the public, especially when the victims are suspected to be hardened felons. But summary executions serve to disguise the police’s impatience and inefficiency, their sloppy work at investigation and prosecution. And as the Atimonan incident shows, rubouts are employed by men in uniform to eliminate rivals in illegal criminal operations.

Even worse, men in uniform may use the broad anticrime initiatives of the government for their own nefarious ends. In its inquiry, the NBI looked into the role of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission in the killings. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who chairs the commission, had denied approving the supposed antigambling operation; as it turned out, the Quezon police carried out the operation against Siman without the commission’s clearance. Supt. Glenn Dumlao, commander of the Calabarzon Public Safety Battalion, claimed that the regional police proceeded with the operation even without clearance on the presumption of regularity; he said it was their job to go after organized crime groups.

What all of this means is that certain members of the police and the military may have so melded with the criminal underworld that the public is hard put to distinguish between a law enforcer and an outlaw. Crime lords and supposed crime-busters have been sharing bread for quite some time now, so that when familiarity breeds contempt, they grab at each other’s throat. According to De Lima, Marantan was trying to eliminate Siman, who was also after Marantan’s head. “It was a race to get each other,” she said.

Sam Miguel
03-11-2013, 08:54 AM
CCTV bares all: Art theft on the rise

By Alyosha J. Robillos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:25 am | Monday, March 11th, 2013

Art dealers and buyers beware: Criminal syndicates have developed a taste for fine art and, moving like a pack of wolves, they know exactly what to get their filthy paws on and how to pass the blame on to unsuspecting gallery staffers or art collectors.

Many artists, art galleries, and collectors who have fallen victim to heists can attest to this, but opt to keep silent. But do their silence merely perpetuate the growing art thievery in the industry?

Because he could no longer agonize silently after a handful of his sought-after creations have been lost to recent robberies and break-ins, sculptor Ramon Orlina gave the Inquirer pertinent information on what appears to be a new art theft modus operandi that he and some of the galleries carrying his works have come across.

Perhaps the latest and most brazen incident was a failed attempt to ransack the Orlina atelier in Sampaloc early in February!

Creating alibis

Two men claiming to be artists paid a visit to the sculptor’s Manila workshop and studio while the artist’s workers were on break; they told the staff they were in search of sculptures kept in storage.

The pair informed Orlina’s secretary that they wanted to purchase a few pieces immediately and asked to be brought to where smaller works were housed.

Since the sculptor was out that time, Orlina’s secretary was wary of letting them inside the studio without permission. But he allowed them in and instructed the workers in the compound to accompany them.

The two inspected the pieces, took pictures of works they “wanted to buy,” and eventually separated, one leaving the other on the upper levels while the other headed to the ground floor.

Orlina’s assistant recounted it was an obvious effort to be rid of the workers who were keeping an eye on them. According to the secretary, he noticed how jittery the two became when they realized the workers would stay by their side wherever they went. The supposed artists started creating alibis to make their escorts leave them.

“They kept on asking if my men had a spare camera or a camera battery charger since their camera suddenly died,” Orlina told the Inquirer. “My secretary was up on his toes because it was obvious that the men wanted to be left alone within the workshop. CCTV cameras are all over the place. They were really eyeing particular works and even spent a good 15 minutes looking around while repeatedly trying to convince the workers to fetch a camera or charger, or whatever gimmick they could come up with.”

High alert

What the intruders didn’t know was that the Orlina atelier had already been on high alert because of recent episodes of art theft in various galleries. Moreover, an avid Orlina collector became an unknowing owner of a stolen sculpture she had bought from an independent art dealer.

Some of the latest heists were even captured by CCTV cameras installed in the galleries. The footage were viewed and reviewed by Orlina and his staff before the incident in the Orlina atelier.

Orlina said didn’t expect the syndicate to be so brazen as to visit his own studio. He said he also didn’t expect to find out that one of the men who posed as an artist and rummaged through his storage that day was a familiar face. In fact, his workers had seen the man numerous times before—from the CCTV footage.

Caught on camera

Art crooks have been harassing a design space in an Alabang mall since 2011. After losing four sculptures to two storage break-ins that year—three Orlinas and a Michael Cacnio—the management finally decided to install CCTV cameras in January 2012. The year passed almost without any incident until December when the thieves struck again.

This time, video footage reveals how the art fiends got away after “snatching” a small piece near the doorway.

The video shows two women chatting up the gallery keeper in a false inquiry while a man hovers right outside the store’s display.

In one swift movement, the man crosses the doorway, grabs the sculpture, and goes off—his bag ready, open, and slung across his body to cover the sculpture and probably encase it once the coast is clear.

The women leave the store right after.

The same store lost another painting to robbers in January.

Also last January, a gallery in a mall in Mandaluyong City lost a painting to thieves.

The CCTV camera captured another heist involving four thieves running off with an Orlina piece worth P400,000.

The footage shows how robbers take advantage of the absence of the gallery attendant, taking off with the sculpture placed near the door.

The video clearly shows a woman in a black-and-white plaid button-down walking in the gallery and checking the weight of a larger sculpture. During this “test drive,” a man in a white shirt and another woman are seen lingering outside.

After a few moments, the “test driver” approaches the man in a white shirt, perhaps confirming that she can handle the piece. She reenters the store, secures the work in her arms, covers it with her shawl, and walks out unnoticed. Two men (including the one in white) are seen covering her from passers-by’s views outside the gallery’s glass wall.

Once she is out of the camera’s sight, the other woman, who has been standing as a lookout, walks past the gallery door and follows the snatcher.

Past thefts

Way before CCTV cameras became common, art theft had been plaguing the art industry. In 2005, a newly opened gallery in a mall in Makati lost an Orlina on display worth P90,000 to a robber.

At around the same time, two Orlina sculptures were stolen in Davao using the same tactic as the robbery in Alabang.

A gallery in San Juan also suffered a break-in at around the same time. Lost were a painting by National Artist Abdulmari Imao and an Orlina.

Another shocking incident was when thieves broke into the home of a well-known collector of masters’ works in an upscale neighborhood in Quezon City. Weeks before the theft, a woman posing as a magazine journalist requested for an interview with the collector. She requested to see the collection and photograph some works.

Later, all of the works that were photographed were stolen. And the supposed art feature never came out.

Dealers of stolen art

Orlina said he and a physician-collector were trying to determine the source of some stolen artworks being sold at very low prices.

The collector had brought a newly purchased 1994 Orlina to the Orlina atelier for authentication. According to her, the work, which she thought was a steal at P35,000, had been sold to her sans authentication documents.

Orlina’s records later revealed that it was literally a steal—a piece stolen all the way from Kuala Lumpur and was reported to him by a trusted dealer.

The physician disclosed how a certain Ogie offered her the work and explained the authentication documents had been lost to a flood.

Since it was proven to be a stolen piece, the doctor surrendered it to the Orlina atelier without any refund or compensation.

According to the physician, previous conversations with Ogie revealed he was not the main source of the stolen work but a man called Francis who had released artworks without authentication in a casino.

When the physician again contacted Ogie for other works, he was told that Orlinas were “out-of-stock,” but an Alcuaz was available.

“We are letting the public know of these incidents because galleries, artists and buyers need to arm themselves against such crooks,” said Orlina. “Just as galleries must have security personnel and equipment, artists must have solid authentication processes and updated files. Customers, too, must be careful when purchasing. It is better to buy artworks from reputable galleries and institutions.”

Sam Miguel
03-11-2013, 08:56 AM
NBI nabs young actor over sex video

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:46 pm | Friday, March 8th, 2013

Another sex video, another storm-tossed pair.

A former talent of ABS-CBN was arrested at his Quezon City residence Friday morning for allegedly posting his sex video with his former girlfriend on YouTube.

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation arrested 20-year-old Arno Fuchs of Blueridge, Quezon City, on a warrant issued by Pasig City Judge Cesar Sulit for alleged violation of the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act and the law on violence against women and children.

Speaking to reporters while in detention, Fuchs—also known as Arno Morales onscreen—confirmed that making that video was “our idea” but strongly denied leaking it on the Internet.

He said his Blackberry phone which contained a copy of the video got lost “during a party in January,” suggesting that whoever found that phone must be the culprit.

Later on Friday, in the presence of their respective family members, the former sweethearts had an emotional confrontation at the NBI.

The complainant, a 17-year-old college student, said Fuchs was her boyfriend for three years and that she broke up with him in January.

“He has no right to do this. We were together for so long. Why did he do this to me? I want him punished for what he did,” she later told reporters.

She said she was forced to quit her studies after being informed by the school management that it had received a copy of the video through e-mail.

The mail reached the school officials from her own e-mail address—which can be accessed using a password that she earlier shared with Fuchs, she said.

“I trusted him. Once, he had my cell phone which contained all my passwords. I didn’t care because we were together. He started making threats that he would expose everything after I refused to reconcile with him,” she said.

But Fuchs maintained: “Making the video was our idea. We talked about it, but my Blackberry phone got lost in an open party last January and it contained (the) video.”

Palmer Mallari, head of the NBI-Technical Investigation Division (TID), said Fuchs was placed under surveillance for weeks prior to Friday’s arrest.

The TID is the same NBI unit that worked on another sex-video case involving celebrities in 2009, the one showing model Hayden Kho and some female partners in show biz.

Palmeri said the arresting team, who had also secured a search warrant, seized a laptop and other gadgets from Fuchs which will be subject to scrutiny.

An initial investigation showed that “the video (uploaded) on YouTube was the same video found in his laptop. Possession of such footage is already a violation of the antivoyeurism law,” the official said.

Fuchs was introduced to show biz by ABS-CBN in 2007 as part of Star Magic Batch 15. The half-German actor starred in the now-defunct youth oriented TV show “Star Magic Presents: Abt Ur Luv” that year and later landed small roles in the movie “A Very Special Love (2008)” and “You Changed My Life” (2009).

According to a spokesperson for Star Magic, ABS-CBN’s talent management arm, Fuchs is no longer a talent of the network. “He’s been inactive in show biz for quite some time now, as far as I know,” Star Magic public relations head Thess Gubi told the Inquirer on Friday.

However, a source said Fuchs is part of an upcoming Star Cinema production, a romantic-comedy titled “It Takes a Man and a Woman,” where he plays the younger brother of lead star Sarah Geronimo. With a report from Allan Policarpio, Entertainment

Sam Miguel
03-11-2013, 09:00 AM
Customs ‘bribe-taker’ falls in NBI sting

Suspect had 2 guns when cornered; Biazon rues not being told firstBy Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:37 pm | Saturday, March 9th, 2013

When trapped in his office, he dashed into a smaller room and locked himself up, ready with two pistols.

Renato Palgan was not escaping an intruder or a robber but agents of the National Bureau of Investigation who were out to get the customs employee for allegedly demanding a bribe.

Palgan, a field director of the Bureau of Customs assigned at Manila International Container Port, was arrested Friday afternoon on a complaint from a licensed broker who claimed that Palagan demanded P40,000 for the release of a container van holding a cargo of linoleum.

NBI deputy director for special investigation services Ruel Lasala said Palgan faces charges ranging from robbery-extortion, graft, illegal possession of firearms, to violation of the election gun ban.

Lasala said the bureau’s Anti-Organized Crime Division led by Rommel Vallejo acted on a complaint from Rose Amory de Luna, a licensed broker, who said Palgan asked for money and offered to release the cargo without subjecting it to an inspection.

Vallejo’s team laid a trap for Palagan inside the BOC compound by instructing the complainant to give marked money to Palgan’s personal secretary.

The agents moved in for the arrest when Palgan took the money from his secretary inside his office.

An NBI source who took part in the operation said a surprised Palgan ran toward a smaller room and locked himself in.

The agents were forced to break the door open and found the customs employee down on the floor in a crouching position.

“A firefight almost took place when we forced our way into the room because the suspect had already pulled out a gun from a bag,” the source told the Inquirer.

An NBI report on the operation said the agents confiscated a 9-mm Glock Pistol, two loaded magazines and a .25-cal. pistol from Palgan.

Palgan failed to produce papers exempting him from the election gun ban, Lasala said.

Owner of 2 houses

Based on records gathered by the NBI, he said, Palgan owns two houses at Freedom Park Hills in Quezon City and in Vittoria Subdivision in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite province.

In a statement on Saturday, however, BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon complained that the NBI operation against Palgan was conducted without prior coordination with concerned customs officials.

“I support anticorruption operations and activities by government agencies, especially law enforcement units. In fact, I continuously encourage the public to report and file complaints against erring BOC personnel,” he said.

“However, I would like to point out that there should be inter-agency cooperation and courtesy in operations such as the recent sting operation conducted against a BOC employee,” Biazon said.

He said the lack of coordination in the NBI operation could have led to a “misencounter.”

“They (the NBI) should have at least coordinated with the Office of the Commissioner (and) other agencies like the military and the Philippine National Police.”

“They should inform me if they have operations within the bureau,” he said, adding that he intends to write a letter to the NBI to formally raise these concerns.

Sam Miguel
03-12-2013, 01:34 PM
NBI files multiple murder raps vs Atimonan team

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday criminal charges against 32 policemen and soldiers involved in the killing of alleged jueteng operator Vic Siman and 12 others in Atimonan, Quezon last Jan. 6.

Charged with 13 counts of murder were former Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent James Andres Melad, his former deputy intelligence head Supt. Hansel Marantan, and 12 other police officers who took part in the operation – Senior Inspector John Paolo Carracedo, Senior Police Officer 1 Arturo Sarmiento, Superintendent Ramon Balauag, Senior Inspector Timoteo Orig, Chief Inspector Grant Gollod, Senior Police Officer 3 Joselito de Guzman, Senior Police Officer 1 Carlo Cataquiz, Police Officer 3 Eduardo Oronan, PO2 Nelson Indal, PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani, PO1 Wryan Sardea, and PO1 Rodel Talento.

Also charged for the same offense were 11 Armed Forces personnel, led by Lt. Col. Monico Abang, who backed up the police team. The others were Capt. Erwin Macalinao; 1Lt. Rico Tagure; Cpl. Rogelio Tejares; Privates 1st Class Michael Franco, Alvin Roque Pabon, Ricky Jay Borja, Melvin Lumalang and Gil Gallego; and Privates Marc Zaldy Docdoc and Emergin Barrete.

Apart from the multiple murder charges, the NBI also filed charges of obstruction of justice against Carracedo, Tagure, Chief Inspector Zaide Abrera, Insp. Dickson Mercado, SPO1 Meldy Arojo, SPO1 Analiza

Burcelando, PO2 Bayani Gonzales, PO2 Nestor Abuan and PO3 Archie Avila.

The police officers are now at the Personnel Holding Accountability Unit in Camp Crame, Quezon City while the accused soldiers are restricted at Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig.

The complaint filed by the NBI, however, showed a revision of the bureau’s findings – particularly on the number of operatives liable for the summary execution.

The NBI had earlier recommended the filing of multiple murder charges against 35 PNP and AFP personnel in its report made public last week.

NBI officials explained that the 10 personnel in the initial list were not charged after probers confirmed that they were not at the checkpoint when the incident took place.

It was learned that Inspectors Ferdinand Aguilar and Evaristo San Juan, PO3 Benedict Dimayuga, PO2 Ronnie Serdena, PO1 Esperidion Corpuz Jr., PO1 Bernie de Leon and PO1 Allen Ayubo; and Technical Sgt. Melanio Balauitan, Cpl. Clark Magusara, and Pvt. Michard Manago – who were earlier recommended by NBI for preliminary investigation – were in other checkpoints and did not directly participate in the killings.

The findings were based on accounts of three eyewitnesses and physical and forensic evidence.

The NBI probe showed that some of the victims were already lying on the ground, slumped on the seat of their car, or ready to surrender but were still shot dead by the operatives.

The 64-page report of the NBI also cited proof of tampering of the crime scene.

It bared, for instance, that some of the operatives took the firearms of the dead victims and fired them to make it appear there was a shootout based on the account of a military witness.

There was also questionable conduct in the procedure followed by the scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) in investigating the incident.

Police also did not surrender the firearms used in the operation.

After receiving the complaint, DOJ’s Prosecutor General Claro Arellano created a high-level panel of prosecutors led by one of his senior deputies to conduct the preliminary investigation.

Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva will chair the five-member panel with City Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano, Assistant State Prosecutors Hazel Decena-Valdez and Niven Canlapan and prosecution lawyer Cesar Angelo Chavez III as members.

A team composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Mari Elvira Herrera, Jinky Dedumo and Katheryn May Penaco-Rojas will assist the panel.

In the preliminary investigation, families of the victims led by Marifi Lontok, widow of environmentalist Tirso Lontok Jr., would stand as complainants.

Meanwhile, the Army yesterday vowed to provide legal assistance to soldiers implicated in the Atimonan rubout.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes said the soldiers would only be dismissed once convicted by the civilian court.

“We will also help them by providing the necessary legal assistance. According to the procedure, unless they are convicted by the court, we will not remove them from the service,” he said.

Coballes stressed that the soldiers who joined the checkpoint operations did so in good faith.

“They were requested by the police. They went there and did their part in good faith. We cannot just abandon the soldiers if we think what they did was done in good faith,” he said. – With Rey Galupo, Alexis Romero

Sam Miguel
03-13-2013, 08:17 AM
6 tagged in Pestaño slay case surrender

By Alexis Romero

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 13, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Six Navy personnel implicated in the murder of Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño surrendered yesterday to their superiors to face the charges against them.

The sailors will be placed under the custody of the Navy provost marshal following their surrender after the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 55 issued warrants of arrest against them.

The six Navy men still in active service are Commander Reynaldo Lopez, Lt. Commander Luidegar Casis, Lt. Commander Alfrederick Alba, and Lt. Commander Joselito Colico; and enlisted personnel Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Sandy Miranda and Hospitalman 2nd Class Welmenio Aquino.

Ana Luz Cristal, lawyer of the Navy men, said the warrants were issued last January but were served to her clients last Monday night.

Cristal said they would also file a motion that would allow the Navy to take custody of the retired soldiers implicated in the case. She said the surrender was not a sign of guilt.

“We will just follow the process,” Cristal said in Filipino.

In 1995, Pestaño was found dead in his cabin with a pistol and a letter saying that he committed suicide. Pestaño was a deck officer and cargo officer of BRP Bacolod City.

His death came after he allegedly discovered that the cargo loaded on the ship were illegally cut logs and about 50 sacks of shabu passed off as flour.

He allegedly refused to approve the cargo despite the orders of his superiors.

The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to indict 10 Navy men for murder.

Four of the ten respondents have retired from the service, namely Navy Capt. Ricardo Ordoñez, Lt. Commander Ruben Roque, Petty Officer 1st Class Cartlito Amoroso and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mil Igcasan Leonor.

Sam Miguel
03-13-2013, 09:43 AM
Espina: Art thefts to continue if victims won’t approach cops

By Niña P. Calleja

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:25 am | Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Following reports about the increasing number of cases of “artnapping”—artwork being stolen from the artists themselves or from galleries—the police have urged victims to come forward and report the robberies so that they can go after the perpetrators.

“This kind of incident has to be reported to us otherwise, it will end up unsolved and worse, these criminals will strike again,” National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Leonardo Espina said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“This is just like any [car theft] incident. The public should be made aware that a certain car with this plate number has been [stolen],” he added.

By talking to the unwitting buyers of stolen artwork, the police can also find the thieves, Espina said.

“There’s always a market for [art pieces] that’s why criminal groups keep on doing it. This business, although illegal, is based on supply and demand,” he told the INQUIRER.

Espina said that he had ordered Chief Supt. Alex Gutierrez, Manila Police District director, to conduct a thorough investigation and talk to the artists who were victimized by art thieves.

This was after he read an article which came out the other day in the INQUIRER about such cases being on the rise.

The article, in particular, detailed an attempt by two men to rob the studio of sculptor Ramon Orlina in Sampaloc, Manila, last month. The artist told the INQUIRER that he had already lost some of his creations to thieves on several instances, prompting him to install closed circuit television cameras in his atelier.

Other art theft cases have also occurred in galleries in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Mandaluyong and Makati.

Espina said the police would look into the cases, some of which date back to 2005.

Joescoundrel
03-16-2013, 09:11 AM
Barramedas on losing witness: How much?

By Jaymee T. Gamil

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:22 am | Friday, March 15th, 2013

The last time he spoke with the family of the slain Ruby Rose Barrameda, the supposed star witness in the gruesome murder case claimed that his life was in danger. This was despite his being in a safe house within a police camp under the justice department’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Two weeks later, Manuel Montero wrote the court to recant his statements and reportedly left the WPP, prompting a member of the Barrameda family to ask: “How much? How much did it take to buy the principles you used to have?”

In a press conference on Thursday, the sixth anniversary of Ruby Rose’s death, the victim’s sister Rochelle Barrameda aired suspicions that the man who could help the family obtain justice had backtracked because he was paid, if not threatened with harm.

“I’ve read the statement (of his recantation). He now claims he does not to know anything. But why was he so detailed back then?” she said, adding:

“When we were opening the steel drum (containing Ruby Rose’s body), he was even texting me: “Don’t break it open there, you might hit Ruby Rose’s head. Not there, you might hit her back.’ He knew the exact position of her body inside the drum,” Rochelle said.

Later in an Inquirer interview, Rochelle said the last time she saw Montero was two weeks ago at his safe house since 2010, the office of the Intelligence and Operations Unit of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Last conversation

“We talked about him wanting to transfer to another safe house,” she recalled. “He said ‘there were people who have been hovering around. If I am not transferred soon, I will die here.’”

In 2009, two years after Ruby Rose went missing, Montero surrendered to authorities and pointed them to the location of the sealed drum bearing her remains in the waters off Navotas City.

Montero also issued affidavits saying he and three other men were given orders to kill Ruby Rose by her own father-in-law Manuel Jimenez Jr. and his brother Lope Jimenez, who were then looking out for the interest of the victim’s husband Manuel Jimenez III. Ruby Rose and Jimenez III were then locked in a child custody battle.

In a statement, Lope Jimenez’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, hit back at Rochelle for insinuating that Montero had been bribed.

“We would like to challenge [the Barramedas’] holier-than-thou attitude by asking them [to] put up or shut up. If you cannot prove what you are saying, then in the name of all that is holy, please say nothing at all,” Topacio said.

“[Montero], in withdrawing his previous statements, has said that he was bothered by his conscience. That is his privilege, nay, his right. The Barramedas cynically impute baser motives.

That is also their right but their misfortune as well if they cannot see beyond the blinders of their own hate and refuse to believe that other people can actually feel remorse,” the lawyer added.

Rochelle and members of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption marked the 6th anniversary of Ruby Rose’s death with a Mass at the University of Perpetual Help in Las Piñas City, where Ruby Rose finished Mass Communications in 1997. Students, teachers and university officials also packed the venue.

A father’s plea

The victim’s father Robert called out to Montero: “Wherever you are, Manny Montero, this is your ‘tatay’ (father) who you always used to embrace. You promised us you would not leave us until the end.”

“If you are still alive, know that we are still here believing the commitment you made to us. We will continue to fight,” Robert said.

According to Rochelle, her family learned that Montero left the NCRPO’s protective custody late last week, or days before Montero sent a notice of withdrawal to the court on Tuesday.

Rochelle challenged Montero to “come out and prove that the Jimenezes really have nothing to do with this… for everyone’s peace of mind.”

She expressed confidence that the case will still be resolved in her family’s favor. “If our opponents think the fight is over, they’re wrong. Don’t celebrate yet because we will prove that even without Montero our evidence is strong. We will send to jail whoever killed my sister,” she said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the NCRPO explained that since Montero was not a detainee, he could stay in or leave the Intelligence Operations Unit office as he pleases.

‘’We are waiting for orders from the DOJ (Department of Justice),” Chief Insp. Kimberly Molitas said when asked if efforts were being made to look for Montero.

Sam Miguel
03-20-2013, 08:35 AM
Witness: Missing UP coed pregnant

New testimony in case vs Palparan bares more details about abduction

By Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Inquirer Central Luzon

7:43 pm | Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

CITY OF MALOLOS—Sherlyn Cadapan, one of the two missing University of the Philippines students abducted allegedly by government soldiers in 2006, was three-months pregnant when she went missing, her mother-in-law told the court here on Monday.

The parents of Sherlyn and Karen Empeño have accused retired Major General Jovito Palparan and three other military officials of abducting their daughters on June 26, 2006, in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and Staff Sargent Edgardo Osorio are undergoing trial in the Bulacan Regional Trial Court for kidnapping. Palparan and a fourth suspect, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, are in hiding.

Adoracion Paulino, a prosecution witness, testified that Sherlyn was married to her son, Valentino, and was pregnant when she disappeared.

On Tuesday, Erlinda Cadapan, the missing student’s mother, confirmed Paulino’s testimony.

In a telephone interview, Erlinda said Sherlyn, who was 28 when she went missing, had informed her younger sister that she had undergone a prenatal checkup the night before she and Empeño disappeared.

“Mommy will soon have another grandchild,” Erlinda quoted Sherlyn’s conversation with her sister.

Erlinda said she fears that Sherlyn may have lost her child, after the first prosecution witness, Raymond Manalo, testified last year that he saw soldiers torture the two UP students.

In an affidavit, Paulino, a resident of Calumpit town, said her son married Sherlyn in 2005. Valentino is a farmer and met Sherlyn in 2005 in the course of the UP student’s interaction with a farming community in Calumpit.

Paulino said Sherlyn and Empeño attended a village feast in her town on June 15, and stayed until June 18.

On June 26, she learned that the two students disappeared.

Paulino testified that she again saw Sherlyn on April 11, 2007, almost a year after Sherlyn went missing.

Sherlyn had gone to Paulino’s home to get clothes and was accompanied by two women, she told the court.

“Sherlyn was wearing a dirty shirt, a pair of pants and slippers. She was frail, tanned and was dirty, and her skin was dry … I knew she was three-months pregnant … I don’t know if she gave birth or if she suffered a miscarriage because she was so thin. This is the last thing she said: ‘Mother, my path has changed, I have a different destination now,’” Paulino said in her affidavit written in Filipino.

“[Paulino’s] testimony connects dots [and are like putting together] jigsaw puzzles,” said Edre Olalia, who represents the families of the missing students.

Sam Miguel
03-21-2013, 09:47 AM
Once again the Court of Appeals puts its own head on the chopping block. And in the words of the great Ramon Tulfo, for how much...?

CA quashes murder raps vs ex-Palawan gov, brother

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:50 am | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Grave abuse of discretion.

The Court of Appeals (CA) voted 3-2 on Tuesday to nullify a second body created by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that recommended the prosecution of former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother Mario for the 2011 murder of radio commentator Gerry Ortega after the first panel she formed had cleared them of the charges.

The five-member CA Special 10th Division, acting on the petition by the former Palawan governor, upheld the findings of the first panel that absolved the Reyes brothers of charges in connection with the Ortega murder.

The latest ruling came four months after another CA division, the Special Fifth Division, also scratched the second panel that reinvestigated the case and recommended the prosecution of the governor and his brother, the former mayor of Coron.

The Reyes brothers, who went into hiding shortly before arrest warrants were issued against them, filed separate petitions in the appellate court. They slammed the second panel created on Sept. 7, 2011, after the first panel cleared the brothers on June 8, 2011.

In a 20-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan, the CA Special 10th Division said that there were “specific rules of procedures” that the justice department had to follow in the investigation and review of criminal cases.

Caused disorder

The decision was concurred with by Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Francisco Acosta, who issued a separate concurring opinion. Dissenting were Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Romeo Barza, who both issued separate dissenting opinions.

The court said the creation of the second panel and its subsequent finding “only caused disorder in what could otherwise have been an orderly administration of justice.”

It noted that De Lima opted to create a second panel than act on the petition for review that Ortega’s wife, Patty, had filed questioning the first panel’s dismissal of the murder complaint against the Reyeses.

The court said it was “safe to assume” that the petition filed by Patty Ortega was still awaiting resolution by De Lima’s office.

“Needless to say, since at this precise moment this finding by the first panel of prosecutors has not yet been reversed, affirmed or modified … such finding is still valid. For all legal intents and purposes, therefore, petitioner should not have been indicted for the crime of murder,” the court said.

It said De Lima should have followed the rules of her own department and had she done so, “the chaotic situation … could have been very well avoided.”

The court also said there was no legal basis for the second panel to modify the findings of the first panel since both bodies were “coequal” and that only the justice secretary “can, consistent with the rules, modify, affirm or reverse the findings of either of them.”

It said De Lima “failed to observe the procedural rights of petitioner and violated the guarantees of due process.”

Patent abuse

The court said there was a “patent grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction” in De Lima’s creation of the second panel of prosecutors. It said because of these “procedural flaws” Reyes was charged with murder and an arrest warrant was issued against him.

It declared as null and void the order that created the second panel as well as its March 12 resolution. The court also reinstated the resolutions of the first panel.

Ferdinand Topacio, counsel for Joel Reyes, said he would present the ruling to the Palawan court hearing the murder complaint so that it could quash the arrest warrants and dismiss the case.

The Ortega family declined immediate comment.

Court questioning 2nd panel

In a statement issued Wednesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño expressed apprehension over the decision and said if left unchecked the Reyes brothers might get away with murder.

He said what was clear in the decision was that the court was only questioning the creation of the second panel, not the case against the Reyes brothers.

“As it is, the truth is that the murder case is still pending in Palawan, the arrest warrant is in effect and there is still a reward of P2 million each for the fugitive Reyes brothers,” said Casiño, a senatorial candidate under the Makabayan party who authored a House resolution calling for an investigation of Ortega’s killing.—With a report from Redempto D. Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 10:32 AM
Atimonan probe starts April 18

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:03 am | Friday, March 22nd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has set for April 8 the start of the preliminary investigation of 25 policemen and soldiers led by P/Supt. Hansel Marantan who are charged in the murder of 13 men in Atimonan, Quezon, on Jan. 6.

The DOJ on March 19 issued the subpoenas for the 25 security personnel that were issued by a five-member DOJ special panel led by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.

“You are hereby warned that failure on your part to comply with this subpoena shall be considered a waiver to present your defense in this preliminary investigation and the case shall be considered submitted,” said Villanueva in two separate subpoenas for the police and military members.

Marantan and the other officers were charged by the National Bureau of Investigation with the murder of 13 men led by suspected “jueteng” operator Vic Siman and several police and military officials.

They were gunned down at a joint police-military checkpoint on a highway in Atimonan, with Marantan et al. claiming it was a legitimate operation. The NBI, however, said its findings showed it was a rubout.—Christine O. Avendaño

Sam Miguel
03-22-2013, 10:36 AM
Scary, revisited

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:03 pm | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

For the second time, a division of the Court of Appeals has invalidated Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s creation of a second prosecutorial panel to investigate the 2011 killing of Palawan environmental activist and radio anchor Gerry Ortega. The five-member Special 10th Division found that De Lima committed “patent grave abuse of discretion” when she violated the Department of Justice’s “specific rules of procedures” governing the review of criminal cases. As with the first time, however, the CA failed to address the general public’s concerns about the fugitive status of the petitioners themselves—wealthy, well-connected politicians who went into hiding just before the warrants for their arrest were issued.

That De Lima chose to ignore the recommendations of the first panel of prosecutors she had herself convened, and instead proceeded to convene a new one, is not without its mysteries. But we fail to see how this sequence of events rises to the level of grave abuse of discretion “tantamount to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction.”

The Special 5th Division declared the second panel invalid four months ago, for essentially the same reason. In unusual language, that division aired its concern about possible abuse by the government’s lawyer-in-chief. “Scary!! With all its resources it behooves … the State to balance the scales in what would otherwise be an uneven contest between an individual versus the State.”

But as we noted last November in this space, the case involving the suspects Joel and Mario Reyes, former governor and former mayor, respectively, was more complicated than the court assumed. “The CA is only right to place the highest premium on a suspect’s civil liberties, precisely because a criminal case can be a decidedly uneven contest. But is that in fact the reality of the Ortega case? If anything, it is the State that labors under a disadvantage.”

The State continues to be at a disadvantage. The Reyes brothers remain in hiding; it takes either unusual good luck or considerable resources to outrun a warrant of arrest, and to this day the brothers remain out of sight and out of the government’s reach. Whatever happened to the legal axiom that holds that “flight is an indication of guilt”?

We should also note that the brothers had filed two petitions before different divisions of the CA, a course of action not readily available to everyone.

In the new ruling, which voids the second panel’s findings that the brothers should be prosecuted for Ortega’s murder and instead advances the first panel’s conclusions absolving them of involvement, the CA makes much of the supposed “chaotic situation” that now surrounds the case. By establishing the second panel, the court said, De Lima “only caused disorder in what could otherwise have been an orderly administration of justice.” If only De Lima had followed the DOJ’s own rules, it said, “the chaotic situation … could have been very well avoided.”

Maybe. But one can also argue that the chaos is judge-made. Both divisions of the CA noted that the justice secretary had the last say on whether criminal charges should be brought before the court. As the Special 10th Division phrased it: The justice secretary “can, consistent with the rules, modify, affirm or reverse the findings of either of them (referring to the panels).”

Isn’t that exactly what De Lima did? The only difference we can see is that she did not reverse the first panel’s recommendations by fiat; she set up a second panel, to give the matter a fresh look. And yet the CA found that she “failed to observe the procedural rights of petitioner and violated the guarantees of due process.” This flies against the basic principle, pointed to in Justice Noel Tijam’s dissenting opinion and recognized by the Supreme Court, that the DOJ chief has “superior authority” in prosecuting offenses.

We think the CA’s overzealous focus on a procedural aspect of the case scants the substantive issue. Indeed, as the Tijam dissent also points out, the DOJ had “ordered the creation of more than one panel” in other cases, most prominently in the Ampatuan mass murder case—and none has been “struck down for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion.” By impugning De Lima’s creation of the second panel, then, the court, by a 3-2 vote, overrides the justice secretary’s own conclusion that the work of the first panel was inadequate, and that new evidence warranted a fresh take.

Scary thought.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 09:55 AM
Still, advice

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:55 pm | Monday, March 25th, 2013

Last year, at about this time, close to a thousand law students passed the bar and became lawyers. At the time they did, we were in the thick of the impeachment of Renato Corona. The goings-on in the Senate-turned-impeachment court, in particular the penchant of the lawyers there, current or ex, to obsess on procedure rather than substance, to impress with an ability to quote chapter and verse rather than with a capacity to quest for justice, impelled me to write a column giving a piece of unsolicited advice to the new lawyers.

One portion there remains applicable, indeed compelling, today. Today of course is that time of year when we see fresh additions to the tribe that Shakespeare’s Dick the Butcher proposed exterminating. Some 949 students passed the bar (out of 5,343 aspirants), Ateneans leading the pack.

The advice is this:

Never forget that the law serves justice. Your relatives, who spent a great deal for your education, or who sacrificed a great deal while you toiled in the night to become lawyers, will naturally be elated that you have become what you sought to become. I do not know though that that will be the same feeling of the general populace. I suspect they will not be elated, they will be fearful. In this country, the prospect of having more lawyers is not a promise, it is a threat.

For good reason: In ordinary times in these parts, the law is subjected to the most strenuous exercises. Lawyers like to bend the law, stretch the law, twist the law. They call this a display of legal erudition, the public calls it palusot. The result being that if you’re rich, you can, and will, get away with murder. That is by no means metaphorical.

Spurn that kind of law. Scorn that kind of lawyer. Be part of the cure, not the disease.

We do not have an impeachment trial right now with its substitution of form for content, procedure for substance, legalism for justice, to drive home that point. But we do have no small amount of instances of law clashing with justice to commend it. Two things have happened of late in that respect.

The first is the rejection by the Court of Appeals of a second body created by Leila de Lima to reinvestigate the case against former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother for the murder of environmentalist Gerry Ortega. De Lima took that route after a panel of prosecutors cleared the Reyes brothers of the crime and recommended only the prosecution of the gunmen. The gunmen had repeatedly pointed to the former governor as the one who hired them to do the gunning. Aghast by the panel’s decision, De Lima created a new panel and, this time around, that panel found grounds to prosecute Reyes and his brother. The Reyeses fled before an arrest warrant could be issued against them.

The Court of Appeals has ruled that De Lima had no right to create the second panel and ordered its actions voided. Is this just? From a purely legal viewpoint, arguably so. What De Lima should have done, as the court argues, was to have ordered a review of the first panel’s findings, as Ortega’s wife, Patty, requested rather than to have created a second one. Indeed, what she should have done, as we ourselves think, was to have reviewed the quality of conscience and the quantity of bank deposits of the members of the first panel in the first place. But that is water under the bridge.

A review of the first panel would have taken ages to resolve, which would in the meanwhile keep the Reyeses free to torment Patty and those who believe we now have a daang matuwid. Does this presume the Reyeses to be guilty before being proven innocent? No, this merely presumes us to be sighted and hearing-unimpaired until proven to be blind and deaf innately or by persuasion. True, De Lima’s effort at rectification is messy. But in an imperfect world, or system, which ours is epically so, surely we can allow some imperfections on compelling grounds?

Surely some exceptions are justifiable? Surely some exceptions are restorative rather than destructive? Surely if the law can make exceptions on procedural grounds, which it does all the time, it can make exceptions on substantive ones?

The second is the ousting by the Supreme Court of Lucy Torres as the representative of the fourth district of Leyte. Before the 2010 elections, the courts nullified Torres’ husband’s candidacy on the ground that he had no sufficient residency in Ormoc. Torres ran in his place, a thoroughly ironic turn of events for his opponent, Eufrocino Codilla, in that he created a stronger opponent than the one he began with. Torres won.

Her victory was questioned on legal grounds, and the case went through a roller coaster until the Supreme Court recently ruled against it. Its argument is that you cannot substitute for a candidate that was deemed ineligible to run to begin with. Is this just? Well, in this case it’s a decision that rests on thin ice legally. Comelec Resolution 8678 says: “Substitutes for candidates who have died, suffered permanent incapacity, or were disqualified by final judgment, may file their certificates of candidacy up to midday of election day, or May 10, 2010.” Torres’ victory was upheld by the lower courts earlier on that ground.

More than that, the substantive part is unassailable. Torres was born and raised in Ormoc, and she won fair and square against her opponent. From all indications, she has done well by her constituents. She has good reason to be where she is. You are going to knock her out by a technicality? And do what, replace her with someone the voters rejected at the poll? Truly, you have to wonder what the “supreme” in “Supreme Court” denotes.

I myself have ceased to wonder why we are a country with too many lawyers and too little law.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 08:39 AM
Who benefits?

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:11 pm | Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Was it P7 million or P4 million? The amount of the ransom paid for the release of Australian Warren Rodwell has become an issue of contention, as local officials in Basilan as well as Rodwell’s wife have denied an earlier report that part of the money went to intermediaries and middlemen who helped negotiate Rodwell’s release from captivity by the bandit group Abu Sayyaf. Miraflor Gutang, Rodwell’s wife, acknowledged that the kidnappers had initially demanded P7 million, “but I told them Warren and I could only raise as much as P4 million.” To raise the amount, she said, she had to sell their house, water refilling station and vehicle, and seek help from relatives abroad.

No one should begrudge the lengths Gutang went to obtain her husband’s release. Anyone would do the same for a loved one whose ordeal in the hands of kidnappers notorious for beheading their captives had stretched on for an appalling 15 months. Rodwell, 54, was snatched on Dec. 5, 2011, from his house in Ipil town by Abu Sayyaf bandits posing as policemen, and for interminable months was moved from one island to another and made to trek through the jungle as negotiations for his release stretched on. When he was released in Pagadian City, the ex-soldier was so weakened that he could hardly walk or even bring a cup of coffee to his lips. But he could still make light of his emaciated condition: “Skeleton,” he quipped as he took off his shirt for the camera.

Is it being cynical to say that, whatever promise of peace and stability in the horizon for Mindanao that was raised by the announcement last year of a “framework agreement” between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, such hope has lately floundered on the rocks of some bafflingly unforeseen—or perhaps glossed over—complications?

For one, the long-dormant Sabah question has exploded into a full-blown diplomatic crisis for the Aquino administration as the Sultanate of Sulu tried to stake its claim by forcing a showdown with Malaysia. However clumsy the Kiram family’s moves were, it’s surprising to realize how the government has neglected to include such traditionally powerful local stakeholders in the new autonomous map of Mindanao that it is mandated to draw up with the MILF under the framework agreement.

On top of the strife spawned by the Kirams’ adventure, the reemergence of Rodwell from captivity highlights another unresolved Mindanao problem: the kidnap-for-ransom industry that continues to thrive in the region despite the government having declared time and again that the Abu Sayyaf is a spent force, or at least one that is constantly on the run. The reality is that the bandit group remains a formidable scourge, both for the impunity with which it is able to carry out its crimes, and for the vast amounts in ransom money that it has amassed from its string of abductions over the years.

At this time, two Europeans, a Jordanian journalist and a Japanese are still being held by the bandits. Rodwell’s release on the strength of the payment of ransom—P4 million or P7 million?—indicates that the remaining captives will not be tasting freedom anytime soon for anything less. The government may publicly stick to its guns, as it has in Rodwell’s case, that it has a strict no-ransom policy, but in the end, considerations of preserving the lives of kidnap victims will be paramount, so money will change hands, and the violent rigmarole simply reinforces itself.

The Abu Sayyaf has terrorized large swathes of Mindanao and kidnapped dozens of people over the years, at least 15 of them church people who were doing invaluable service to poor and remote communities. The United States appears to have hundreds of soldiers based in the area to augment the firepower and intelligence of the Philippine military, which itself has been allocated millions of pesos of public funds through the years for use in the campaign to rout out this supposedly ragtag bandit group.

And yet the war against the Abu Sayyaf is nowhere near even a stalemate. Its gallery of unfortunate victims grows longer and more international every year, dealing a perpetual black eye to the government’s assurances that lawlessness in Mindanao is being dealt with. Once again, it should be asked: Who is benefiting from keeping the Abu Sayyaf alive, and from the kidnap-for-ransom industry?

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 08:41 AM
La Salle stude says cop took his iPhone, P10K

By Erika Sauler

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:49 pm | Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

A rookie policeman is being accused of taking an iPhone and P10,000 in cash from a student of De La Salle University, who said the officer accosted him last month for no valid reason and threatened to either shoot or frame him for a crime.

A robbery case was filed Monday in the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office against PO1 Christian Santos based on a complaint from Victor Miranda, 18.

According to a report by SPO1 James Poso of the Manila Police District-General Assignment Section (MPD-GAS), Miranda had just stepped out of a bar in Manila around 5 a.m. on Feb. 17 and was talking to his girlfriend on the phone when Santos approached him.

Santos allegedly demanded Miranda’s cell phone and wallet, and threatened to book the student for possession of illegal drugs if he refused. The officer also threatened to shoot him and frame him as a snatcher if he would run away, the report said.

Santos then brought Miranda to the police assistance tent on Remedios Circle, where Miranda handed over his iPhone 5 worth P35,000 and his wallet containing P10,000 in cash.

Miranda said the policeman later returned his wallet, with all its cash gone except for P500 supposedly for his fare.

Members of the MPD Ermita station and GAS conducted follow-up operations after Miranda reported the incident but they couldn’t locate the suspect who was then identified only as Santos through his name tag.

An informant told Miranda that Santos was detailed in the Pasay City police. The student later identified Santos through an entry in a police index card system containing photos, a copy of which was submitted to MPD-GAS on Friday.

Further background checks revealed that Santos was assigned in the Regional Public Safety Battalion in Bicutan, Taguig City. He was earlier posted in Pasay to augment the local force and later transferred to the Northern Police District.

Santos was summoned by the MPD for an investigation but failed to appear. Aside from the robbery case, he also faces administrative proceedings.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 08:57 AM
Irked Aquino orders probe of Korean’s flight from PH

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:50 am | Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—On orders of President Benigno Aquino III, at least six immigration officers are being investigated for allegedly helping a Korean fugitive slip out of the country on March 19, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday.

“The President has directed the Department of Justice to look into that and investigate and file charges against those found responsible,” De Lima said.

The President, she added, was “angry” over the incident because this was not the first time it happened.

De Lima met with Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David and BI intelligence chief, lawyer Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, to hear their explanation on how Korean national Park Sung-jung was able to leave the country despite being blacklisted and subject to summary deportation since June last year.

Park, however, was not able to escape from the law in his own country. He was arrested by Korean authorities as soon as his flight from Manila landed in Seoul.

After her meeting with David and Mangrobang, De Lima told reporters the Bureau of Immigration was investigating the case and had identified at least six immigration officers and personnel who may have been involved.

It’s all on tape

She said immigration officials showed her the closed circuit video that captured Park boarding a flight to Seoul at 1 a.m. of March 19. He boarded after the last call was made by the airline.

“The video clearly showed who were possibly involved, those who aided the subject to leave,” said De Lima. She said that while Park’s boarding pass was stamped by an immigration officer, his departure was not encoded in the computer database of the BI.

She said that aside from the six immigration officers, there were others who may be investigated like the hearing officer for the summary deportation order against Park and the hearing officer that allowed Park to be granted a working visa.

De Lima said Park was ordered deported in June last year because he was undocumented and deemed an undesirable alien. But the Korean was able to escape before he was to be deported.

Gets working visa

But on the day his summary deportation order was issued, the Bureau of Immigration issued him a working visa, De Lima said.

Initial findings by the BI showed Park’s names had been interchanged, hence his real name did not come up in the computer.

De Lima said this will be looked into because “most probably” the interchange of his names was done deliberately.

On Monday, Mangrobang said the immigration officer suspected of facilitating Park’s departure had been relieved of her post at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and was the subject of an investigation.

Ma. Roselle Sacendoncillo was recalled to the main office, Mangrobang said, after initial investigation showed she cleared Park’s departure on Philippine Airlines.

Park is wanted in his country in connection with a $25-million investment scam.

Korean authorities at Incheon International Airport arrested the fugitive upon his arrival from Manila but they reportedly expressed concern they were not alerted by Philippine immigration officials about Park’s departure. Reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Tina G. Santos

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 08:58 AM
^^^ It is time to admit that Ric David is just plain incompetent and/or corrupt as all hell as Immigration Boss. He needs to be fired and replaced forthwith.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 09:15 AM
SC drops Cebu judge for ‘gross inefficiency, ignorance of law’

By Ador Vincent Mayol

Inquirer Visayas

10:07 pm | Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

CEBU CITY — The Supreme Court (SC) has cracked the whip on a Cebu City judge and her clerk of court for failing to resolve several cases on time, mismanaging court records, among other infractions.

Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Judge Rosabella Tormis of Branch 4 was ordered dismissed from service after she was found guilty of “gross inefficiency, violation of SC rules, directives, and circulars, as well as gross ignorance of the law.”

Lawyer Reynaldo Teves, clerk of court of MTCC Branch 4, was also dismissed from the service for two counts of simple neglect of duty.

The High Court ordered the forfeiture of all their benefits and priviledges, except accrued leave credits. They were also barred from reemployment in any government office.

The High Court found Tormis liable for undue delay in the dispoition of cases, mismanagement of the court records, non-promulgation of decisions, and issuing a warrant of arrest without first apprising the acused of the charges.

On the other hand, Teves was cited for mismanagement of case records and failure to set case for promulgation.

“The honor and integrity of the judicial system is measured not only by the fairness and correctness of decisions rendered but also by the efficiency with which disputes are resolved,” the high tribunal said in a decision promulgated on March 12.

The Philippine Daily Inqurier tried to get Tormis’ reaction on Tuesday but a court employee said she was in a private hospital to attend to her ailing husband, Guillermo.

Tormis, 63, assumed office on June 22, 1999. Her service was interrupted when she was suspended for three separate instances for various reasons.

One of these was repeated defiance of the court’s order to furnish the complainant in another administrative case of her comment.

She was found guilty of gross misconduct for abusing her judicial authority when she personally accepted the cash bail bond of the accused.

The dismissal from the service of both Teves and Tormis stemmed from the audit report submitted by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), which has supervision over the trial courts.

In its report, the OCA found out that MTCC Branch 4 did not maintain a docket book or any similar system for record-keeping and monitoring.

The OCA also found several irregularities including the failure of Tormis to render a decision on 11 criminal cases despite the lapse of “considerable length of time.

Two cases had not been decided for more than 10 years.

At least 112 criminal and 83 civil cases had been submitted for decision but Tormis had not issued a verdict on these cases despite the laspe of the 90-day period.

Under the law, the court has 90 days after the end of the trial to render a decision.

At least 172 criminal and 63 civil cases were with pending incidents for resolution. Of the 172 criminal cases, 145 cases involve violation of city ordinances/traffic rules with pending motions to archive.

The court failed to comply with the guidelines in the archiving of cases.

It also took Tormis a long time to take an initial action on 223 cases filed in her court while she had not taken action on 3,491 cases.

In her explanation to the OCA, Tormis said she faithfully conducted semestral physical inventory of the case records except during the period comprising her three suspensions because she was denied access to her courtroom and case records.

She said the three separate suspensions issued against her caused the delay in the disposition of cases pending in her court.

Tormis said she had satisfactorily complied with the directive to decide the cases submitted for decision.

While recognizing the suspensions of Tormis as one of the reasons for the delay in the disposition of cases, the OCA noticed that several of the cases had been overdue for decision or resolution even prior to her suspension.

The OCA had recommended a fine of P80,000 be imposed on Tormis for undue delay in rendering a decision; P20,000 for failure to comply with her duty to provide efficient court management system, and another P20,000 for ordering the arrest of the accused even before she was apprised of the charges against her.

Teves explained that MTCC Branch 4 did not have a general docket book because they had not been provided by the high court with the needed supplies.

He said that the alleged errors in his reports can be attributed to the discrepancy in the procedure or in the appreciation in preparing the reports.

Teves also claimed that the non-promulgation of judgements can be justified since most of the cases were resolved based on compromise agreements, plea of guilt, dismissal by reason of an affidavit of desistance, among others.

The OCA recommended that Teves be ordered to pay a fine in the amount equivalent to two months pay for mismanagement of the case records.

But the high tribunal didn’t adopt OCA’s recommendations and instead increased the penalty to dismissal from the service.

In an en banc decision led by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the high tribunal noted the work history of Tormis and Teves who were sanctioned for several administrative cases filed against them.

It noted that Tormis has two pending cases against her.

“Her conduct as a repeat offender exhibits her unworthiness to don the judicial robes and merits a sanction heavier than what is provided by our rules and jurisprudence,” the high court said.

It said Teves’ “repeated infractions seriously compromise efficiency and hamper public service which the court can no longer tolerate.”

“Obviously, with his past infractions and having been warned that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely, Mr. Teves has not reformed. Thus, the penalty of dismissal from service is proper,” the high court said.

Joescoundrel
03-29-2013, 10:53 AM
CA: Army accountable for Burgos disappearance

By Rhodina Villanueva

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has declared the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Philippine Army, accountable for the enforced disappearance of political activist Jonas Burgos.

The CA yesterday furnished the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a copy of its decision, which pointed to Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. as the one responsible for Burgos’ disappearance.

The CA ruling stemmed from Jonas’ mother Edita’s consolidated petitions for habeas corpus and recognized Burgos’ abduction as a case of enforced disappearance covered by the rule of the writ of amparo, contrary to the military’s claim that Burgos was a victim of “internal communist purging.”

CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales welcomed recent developments, saying, “These are concrete positive steps on the part of the judiciary in addressing the climate of impunity in the previous administration.”

“Aside from holding Maj. Baliaga personally responsible, the decision is noteworthy because it also categorically declares the AFP, as an institution, directly accountable for the enforced disappearance of Burgos,” Rosales said.

“This conclusion effectively discredits the theory propounded by the AFP that Jonas was a victim of an internal Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army plot,” Rosales said in a statement.

Top military officials were “imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and therefore duty-bound to disclose all relevant facts of the case and investigate it with extraordinary diligence,” she said.

“Unfortunately, by failing to fully cooperate with the CHR investigation team, to the extent of denying it access to vital documents, the AFP has failed to comply with its duties.”

The CHR argued “the unwillingness of respondent officers of the 56th Infantry Battalion to cooperate in the investigation by CHR was taken by the court as a persuasive proof of an alleged cover-up of the military’s involvement in the enforced disappearance.”

Rosales expressed belief that “it is incumbent upon the AFP to heed the court’s directive to fully cooperate with the CHR investigation, even as it conducts its own investigation in accordance with the strict standards set by the court.”

She said the CHR would request the court to elaborate on the full measure of accountability ascribed to the AFP – whether this extends to the duty to recompense the family of Burgos as required under international human-rights law.

The CHR will also monitor the progress of the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s compliance with the court’s directive to investigate the case with “extraordinary diligence.”

The court noted the PNP’s failure to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the case after it ordered three separate investigations from the agency, the AFP, and the CHR.

The CA directed the AFP chief of staff, PNP director-general, and CHR chief to submit a quarterly report to the court on the results of their respective investigations.

Army to comply with ruling

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said the Army would still have to look into the full text of the court decision but would be ready to comply with directives contained in the ruling.

“If the court issues an order, we will follow it,” Cabanbang said in a phone interview.

He said the Army would cooperate in all types of investigations involving its personnel.

“We will make available military personnel to those conducting investigation.”

Cabangbang said the Army would not condone any wrongdoing or illegal act by its men.

“If an individual member of our organization gets involved in a criminal activity, this will not be sanctioned by our organization,” he said.

Burgos, a political activist and son of the late press freedom fighter Jose Burgos, was kidnapped in a restaurant at the Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Alexis Romero

Joescoundrel
03-29-2013, 10:56 AM
BI chief not yet off the hook over fugitive’s flight

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David is not off the hook yet in the flight of a South Korean fugitive last March 19.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would look into the possible command responsibility of Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials, including David, in the case of Park Sung-jung when it starts its fact-finding investigation next week.

“Whether or not command responsibility attaches to this latest incident of irregularity involving a number of BI personnel will be determined after we get all the facts and relevant circumstances from the probe that we ordered,” De Lima told The STAR yesterday.

De Lima issued Department Order 204 yesterday forming a three-man panel to conduct the probe.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Aileen Maries Gutierrez is panel head with National Bureau of Investigation agents Jonathan Mengullo and Don Hernandez as its members.

The team was directed to coordinate with the intelligence division of the BI and submit a report for possible filing of criminal and administrative charges after 30 days.

However, BI spokesman Ma.Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang said David could not be made accountable for the actions of his subordinates.

“Command responsibility presupposes that there was a command that was followed and the command followed was proven to have caused damage. But in this case, there was no command to the immigration officer to do what she did,” said Mangrobang.

She said immigration officer Roselle Sacendoncillo, who processed and stamped Park’s boarding pass, along with other BI employees, should be held liable for Park’s departure.

Sacendocillo reportedly disobeyed the agency’s standard operating procedure not to allow the departure of a blacklisted foreigner.

“When she was conducting primary inspection, as viewed in the close circuit television, the foreigner was wearing a cap. It is very basic that if there is any obstruction in the face or head of a foreigner the immigration officer should ask that the obstruction be removed for identification purposes,” Mangrobang added.

She said the BI also learned that a person from the Office of Transport Security escorted Park “throughout the airport process.”

The Korean embassy also informed the BI that there was no exit stamp in Park’s passport.

Mangrobang said Sacendoncillo was given 72 hours to explain before the Board of Discipline to determine if there was substantive evidence against her. She was also placed on preventive suspension.

Park’s working visa

De Lima said the investigation would include the issuance of a working visa to Park. She said the fugitive managed to secure the visa in what appeared to be connivance among BI personnel.

De Lima said officials and personnel of the BI’s legal division would be included in the probe.

“We strongly suspect that it was deliberately done by the encoder. We’re looking also into the possible involvement or culpability of the hearing officer who handled the deportation who, I was told, also handled his application for working visa,” she said.

The deportation order against Park was issued last June and a deportation warrant in August, sources told The STAR.

The DOJ chief said Park’s flight and working visa angered President Aquino, who wanted stern actions initiated against those involved.

De Lima said the DOJ would also look into possible corruption or bribery.

Park bought his ticket just hours before his flight, checked in late, and got on a Philippine Airlines flight directly with a stamped boarding pass.

Korean authorities at the Incheon International Airport in Seoul intercepted the fugitive, even without being alerted by Manila.

In 2011, another Korean fugitive – Kim Tae-dong – was able to escape BI custody.

Kim, 54, was wanted in his country for cheating in baccarat games at a Seoul casino in 2010. He escaped from St. Luke’s Medical Center, where he had been confined for hypertension, diabetes and abdominal pain.

Meanwhile, sources at the House of Representatives told The STAR that the BI officer tagged in the escape of Park was hired during the term of former immigration commissioner Marcelino Libanan.

Sacendoncillo is a provincemate of Libanan, sources said.

Sacendoncillo’s mother, Rosa, is a candidate for mayor in Sulat, their hometown, and a political ally of Libanan, who was also former congressman of Eastern Samar. – With Evelyn Macairan, Jess Diaz

Joescoundrel
03-29-2013, 10:58 AM
Ex-PBA import arrested for assaulting cop

By Reinir Padua and Nelson Beltran

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After a night of “having fun” with three women, an American who played for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) reached for his billfold and allegedly found $1,400 missing.

Police said former Rain or Shine import Jamelle Cornley trashed computers and other equipment in a drunken fit at the Sir William’s Hotel on Timog Avenue in Quezon City yesterday.

When police, responding to a call for help from the hotel at around 5 a.m., arrived, Cornley reportedly punched Police Officer 2 Anselmo Lazatin.

Cornley ended up behind bars and could be barred for life from the PBA if the charges against him prove true.

Earlier this month, Petron Blaze import Renaldo Balkman was banned from the PBA for life and fined P250,000 for grabbing the neck of a teammate who tried to prevent him from going after the referees.

Several men had to subdue Cornley, who stands 6 feet 5 inches, and handcuff him. Cornley said in a television interview that he merely shoved Lazatin.

“I had fun with the girls,” Cornley said. “But when I was about to leave and get a taxi, I could not find my money. That was the time I went to the front desk to tell them that I lost my money after these girls left me.” He reportedly paid the girls $100.

Cornley faces charges of alarm and scandal, direct assault against a person in authority, resisting arrest, disrespect to police authorities and malicious mischief, according to Quezon City police director Senior Superintendent Richard Albano.

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said they would provide legal assistance to Cornley, a 2012 Governors Cup Best Import awardee.

“We’re helping him as a friend because he’s not under contract with Rain or Shine,” Guiao said. “We want what is only right for him – due process.”

Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo Jr., Quezon City police Station 10 commander, said Cornley was drunk when he knocked down Lazatin, who was accompanied by Police Officer 2 Reynaldo Daang.

Lazatin had to be taken to hospital and a brace had to be placed around his neck, according to Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao, Quezon City police deputy director for administration.

Pedrozo said Cornley was detained after he refused to be investigated.

“He berated everybody when he was brought to the police station in Kamuning,” Pedrozo said.

Albano wants Cornley to undergo a drug test.

The Quezon City police chief is thinking of providing policemen with stun guns to deal with unruly suspects in similar situations.

In a statement, PBA commissioner Chito Salud said he would come down hard on Cornley if the allegations against him turn out to be true.

“I understand that this is now a police matter where facts will continue to be established,” Salud said.

“Mr. Cornley is not currently associated with the PBA in any manner whatsoever,” Salud emphasized. “Be that as it may, I’d perhaps take the occasion to remind our players that playing in the PBA is imbued with public interest, and they are thus subject to close public scrutiny within the context of higher standards and expectations. If the allegations and charges in this incident are proven to be true, I see Mr. Cornley as having zero chance of playing in the PBA again, at least not under my watch.”

Sam Miguel
04-01-2013, 10:44 AM
‘Euro generals’ face graft charges

By Michael Punongbayan

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 1, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges for multiple graft and technical malversation of public funds against nine retired and active officials of the Philippine National Police, called the “euro generals,” for their involvement in a 2008 scandal involving PNP funds.

Reversing a July 2011 decision that cleared all but one of the 17 respondents of criminal liability, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the findings of a new panel of special prosecutors and graft investigators that found probable cause to indict the nine officers.

Among those who will face trial are retired senior police officials Eliseo dela Paz, then chief for comptrollership of the PNP; Emmanuel Carta, then deputy chief for operations; Ismael Rafanan, then chief of the directorial staff; Romeo Ricardo, then director for plans; German Doria, then director for human resources and doctrine development; and Jaime Caringal, then Region IX police director.

Also to be charged before the Sandiganbayan are retired chief superintendent Orlando Pestaño, and Senior Superintendents Samuel Rodriguez and Tomas Rentoy III, tagged as being behind the illegal disbursement of more than P10 million in PNP confidential and intelligence funds.

In an 86-page resolution dated March 26, 2013, the ombudsman approved the recommendations of the new panel of special investigators for the filing of nine criminal cases against the respondents.

The ombudsman also approved the dismissal of the charges filed against former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Ronaldo Puno, former PNP chief Avelino Razon Jr., retired police director Silverio Alarco Jr., former police deputy director general Edgardo Acuña, retired chief superintendent Joel Maria Alvarez, Evita Caringal, and Cynthia Versoza for lack of probable cause.

All 17 retired and active PNP officials and private respondents were implicated in the Euro Generals controversy more than four years ago after most of them attended the 77th International Police (Interpol) general assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia in October 2008.

On their way home, Dela Paz and his wife Maria Fe were prevented from leaving the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after they were caught carrying 105,000 euros (P6.9 million) in cash that was way above the limit that can be carried out of the country.

As admitted by the new panel of special prosecutors and graft investigators who looked into the case for the second time, the large amount of cash involved in the foreign trip of the PNP officials triggered a congressional investigation.

But despite a report from Congress citing various irregularities in the use of public funds and violations of laws including graft and corruption and a recommendation for the prosecution of all those involved in the incident, the first investigating team from the Office of the Ombudsman that conducted a probe only ordered the filing of charges against Dela Paz and his wife, not for graft but for violation of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) laws.

Prosecutor Jeofferson Toribio, handling the case filed before the anti-graft court, later asked Ombudsman Morales to consider calling for a review, believing that the findings of the first panel of investigators may have “overlooked key pieces of evidence in this case and proceeded to absolve all of the respondents except the Dela Paz spouses.”

In a Memorandum urging a reinvestigation, Toribio pointed out the illegal use of PNP confidential and intelligence funds caused injury to the government even after the money was returned nine months after the incident became public.

After being informed that the Sandiganbayan allowed the suspension of the proceedings in the cases filed against the Dela Paz couple to give way to a reinvestigation, Morales approved Toribio’s recommendations and included him in the new panel of special prosecutors and graft investigators that uncovered enough evidence to indict nine of the 17 original respondents.

Junking arguments of double jeopardy, the new investigating team said “we cannot just turn a blind eye on the evidence before us pointing to the irregularities and violations of law committed by the respondents.”

“If we do, then we are abdicating our sworn duty as protector of the people. We cannot afford to be indifferent… as if nothing happened,” the prosecutors said.

In their lengthy decision which will be the basis for the expected filing of the cases before the Sandiganbayan this week, the new investigating panel said Dela Paz, Rentoy, Pestaño and Rodriguez should be indicted for three counts of technical malversation and three counts of graft for the illegal release and use of PNP confidential and intelligence funds for the PNP delegation to the Interpol general assembly in Russia in 2008 that caused undue injury to government.

The Office of the Ombudsman said another graft charge should be filed against Dela Paz for “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to release and disburse” the money in violation of the General Appropriations Act and other laws, rules and regulations, and against Rentoy, Pestaño and Rodriguez “who allowed themselves to be persuaded, induced or influenced by respondent Dela Paz.”

Separate graft charges should also be lodged against Ricardo for recommending and certifying that PNP delegates Carta, Rafanan, Ricardo, Doria, Caringal and Dela Paz are qualified to travel to the Interpol event when they were already due to retire within one year from the trip.

The Office of the Ombudsman said such act violates provisions of the General Appropriations Act of 2008 that prohibits officials and employees of the DILG and Department of National Defense from traveling abroad to attend foreign trainings and seminars when they are due to retire within one year from the date of the trip.

Another graft case will be slapped against Carta, Rafanan, Ricardo, Doria, Caringal and Dela Paz for actually attending the activity despite being barred from doing so pursuant to the same rules.

Referring to Rodriguez, Rentoy, Pestaño and Dela Paz, the Ombudsman said “it is also undeniable that all of them knew that the amounts of P2,192,560 and P7,000,000 were taken from the intelligence/confidential funds of the PNP, specifically appropriated by law for the confidential, intelligence and counter-intelligence activities of the PNP for the year 2008. Yet, they still proceeded and/or allowed the use thereof for the travel and contingency expenses of the PNP delegation to Russia.”

“In fact, the return of the amount malversed strengthens the case of the prosecution, as the said act of returning the malversed funds is an implied admission that it was wrongfully taken by the accused,” the Ombudsman decision read.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2013, 08:19 AM
Jonas Burgos’ ma: New proof against AFP like bomb

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:25 am | Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

A day after Easter Sunday, Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, hopes to resurrect her more than five-year-long search for her son with new evidence that she said would be a “bomb” against the government.

Burgos, along with family and friends from Bayan and Karapatan, trooped to the Supreme Court on Monday to ask its permission to allow the Court of Appeals (CA)—which recently recognized her son’s abduction as an enforced disappearance and held the military accountable for it—to investigate his case further.

Two units in the Armed Forces of the Philippines were allegedly involved in the case, according to an urgent petition filed in the high tribunal.

“The newly discovered evidence will prove that the officers and enlisted personnel of that particular unit … are responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos; that these units captured and interrogated him and based on the same evidence, could probably continue to detain him or God forbid, had disposed of him in the manner that only they could explain,” it said.

In her 11-page petition, Burgos said she received from an unnamed source documentary evidence “that would prove that an intelligence unit of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the 56th Infantry Battalion operating together captured Jonas” on April 28, 2007, at Ever Gotesco Mall on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

The documentary evidence consisted of “confidential” official reports on file with the Army, including an after-apprehension report, psychosocial processing report and autobiography of Jonas, an agriculturist and son of the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr.

Sealed documents

Saying she was “concerned about her own personal security and would avoid any leak of this information,” Burgos said she submitted her evidence sealed and attached to her motion to be opened by the high court “or only upon its orders.”

She said the papers included the names of officers and enlisted personnel of the two units.

The petition asked the high court to order the persons named in the sealed documents impleaded in the two resolutions it had issued on June 22, 2010, and July 5, 2011, and to issue as well a writ of amparo to the same persons and refer back the cases to the same CA division for further hearing.

Burgos did not want to reveal anything about the evidence to reporters, saying that it will be a “bomb” against the government. She said a “friend of a friend” gave the evidence to her.

Jonas photo

Burgos also posted on the Free Jonas Burgos Movement website a photo of her son purportedly taken after he was abducted with “a handkerchief used as blindfold still around his neck.”

“It is the family’s hope this photo and other newly found evidences will finally bring them closer to finding Jonas Burgos,” the website said.

On March 18, the appellate court recognized Burgos’ abduction as an enforced disappearance and held Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr., as responsible for it as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically the Army.

The appellate court also held accountable the Philippine National Police for “the conduct of an exhaustive investigation of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos.”

“The PNP respects the decision of the Court of Appeals. We will implement and comply with the order,” Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesman, said in a news briefing.

“The court decision stated that we have to do an exhaustive investigation. The top leadership of the PNP is now discussing this with the concerned police units,” Cerbo said. “We will do everything to bring to justice those responsible.”

The military deferred comment on the appellate court’s decision as it has yet to receive a copy of the ruling, but stressed that it “condemns any act of violation of the basic and constitutional rights of individuals.”

Continuing offense

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said Monday that the abductors of Jonas Burgos could be charged with violating the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Law, which President Aquino signed last December.

Colmenares said that even if the abduction took place five years ago, it could be regarded as a continuing offense and thus the rule on retroactivity of the law would not apply.

“It’s a continuing crime because [military officials] refuse to acknowledge his fate or whereabouts,” he said in a phone interview. “That’s the position taken by human rights lawyers.”

The law defines enforced or involuntary disappearance as the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which places such person outside the protection of the law.

Colmenares noted that the law imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua against those responsible for enforced disappearances.—With reports from Marlon Ramos and Leila B. Salaverria

Sam Miguel
04-02-2013, 08:21 AM
Aquino wants lawmen to be looked up to, not down

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:29 am | Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Joining the police force may be as tough as finding the right height, especially if you don’t measure up.

Congress should not make it easy for you, or law enforcement could come up short of public expectations.

So President Aquino vetoed a bill that would repeal the height requirement for admission into the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Malacañang said Monday.

Aquino decided the bill was unnecessary because there was an existing waiver of the height requirement in the public protection service.

Requirement stands

With the veto, the height requirement for admission into the three agencies under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)—1.62 meters (5’4”) for men and 1.56 m (5’2”) for women—stands.

In vetoing the bill, Aquino said applicants to the PNP, BFP, and BJMP had to comply with certain general qualifications, under existing laws, such as the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1990, BFP and BJMP Professionalization Act of 2004, and the DILG Act of 1990.

“Whereas height is among these qualifications, a waiver of this qualification is allowed under certain conditions. Hence the total repeal of the height requirement among these service bureaus is unnecessary,” Aquino said in his veto message.

Height equality

The consolidated bill, Senate Bill No. 3217 and House Bill No. 6203, titled “An Act Repealing the Minimum Height Requirement for Applicants to the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,” would have dealt with height equality among the three agencies.

While he recognized the bill’s “noble intent,” Aquino said he was “seriously apprehensive about the concerns’’ raised by the PNP and the BJMP on the safety of their personnel and of the public.

“As raised by the BJMP, jail officers, by the nature of their work in guarding detainees or escorting criminals, must possess the necessary physical attributes to perform their functions effectively,” he said.

Too, public safety “is paramount in law enforcement by the PNP, as well as firefighting by the BFP,” he added.

This was the second bill vetoed by the President in a week after the Magna Carta of the Poor, whose P3-trillion budget far exceeds the P2.006-trillion 2013 national budget.

The President said the government could not implement the magna carta because of its big budget.

Not discrimination

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the height requirement did not discriminate against Filipinos, pointing out that the law requires applicants to possess certain physical attributes necessary for them to do their job.

“That’s not discrimination. That is demanded by the nature of their job,” she said.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2013, 08:23 AM
Petron hits oil smuggling

Ramon S. Ang: Gov’t loses P30B yearly

By Gil Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:02 am | Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

About one in every three liters of gasoline or diesel sold in the country is smuggled, resulting in P30 billion to P40 billion in yearly forgone revenue on the part of the government, according to the head of the country’s biggest oil refiner.

The forgone revenue estimate is bigger than what the government expects to generate this year from higher taxes on sin products.

Ramon S. Ang, Petron Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, said studies from 2007 to 2011 showed that smuggled oil products “now account for at least a third of the total volume sold in the market.”

“(Our) retail or service station volumes have remained flat despite the fact that registered vehicles increased from 5.5 million to 7.1 million over the period,” Ang said in a phone interview.

“On top of lost government revenue and an uncertain investment climate in the oil industry, smugglers are cheating consumers since these products are of uncertain quality,” he said.

Ang said the uncontrolled oil smuggling in the country “is tax evasion in another form.”

Based on official data, the Philippines consumed a total of 110 million barrels of oil in 2012, of which 50 percent were imported as finished products.

The rest were refined in the country by Petron and Pilipinas Shell. Other companies import finished petroleum products like gasoline and diesel mostly from Singapore.

36M barrels smuggled

Besides the official fuel imports, an estimated 36 million barrels were smuggled into the country, Ang said.

Petron is majority-owned by San Miguel Corp., which is still licking its wounds from last year’s defeat in Congress where allies of President Aquino approved higher taxes on sin products for the first time in more than a decade.

Petron, which accounts for an industry-leading 34.9-percent share of the domestic market in the first half of 2012, saw its profit plunge 73 percent to P2.3 billion last year from P8.5 billion in 2011.

The huge drop in Petron’s profit came despite a 55-percent jump in revenue to P424.8 billion in 2012.

The company attributed the fall in margins to volatility in crude and product prices last year. Its expanded Bataan refinery, which cost $2 billion, is expected to start operations next year.

Watch special zones

For Ang, stopping oil smuggling is not “rocket science.”

“It doesn’t take much to stop these smuggling activities since you would only need to closely monitor special economic zones and other ports. I believe another way the government can monitor smuggling activities is to go after retail outlets that are selling fuel at extremely low prices,” he said.

Fernando Martinez, chairman of the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies (IPPC), said his group shared Ang’s concerns on the rampant oil smuggling.

“We have made presentations to both the Department of Finance and the BOC (Bureau of Customs) about the problem. We have made proposals on how to check it especially in ecozones—charge all imports upon entry and just give rebates to those who use the fuel within the zone,” said Martinez in a phone interview.

Don’t generalize

But Martinez, president of Eastern Petroleum, said that Ang should not generalize that retailers selling fuel at way below market prices was an indication that they were selling smuggled fuel.

Martinez said there could be valid reasons for a retailer to sell at below-market prices.

“What if the retailer is deliberately selling at a loss just to buy market share or meet a sales quota?” Martinez asked.

“He (Ang) cannot generalize, we are law-abiding as anyone. If he has evidence, he can sue them. Also, even a big player like Shell is facing charges of smuggling,” Martinez said.

Since the industry deregulation 16 years ago, small oil companies belonging to the IPPC have boosted their market share to 25 percent, he said.

Last year, the government imposed taxes on fuel products entering the country through free ports and economic zones to help curb oil smuggling.

VAT, excise tax

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued in February last year a regulation that said “the value-added and excise taxes which are due on all petroleum and petroleum products that are imported and/or brought directly from abroad to the Philippines, including the free port and economic zones, shall be paid by the importer thereof to the Bureau of Customs.”

An importer can claim credit or a refund from the customs bureau of the VAT paid on account of registered enterprises with tax privileges within a free port or economic zone. The importer can also get a refund of the excise tax paid on account of sales to international carriers of Philippine or foreign registry if the fuel was used outside the country under certain conditions, according to Revenue Regulation No. 2-2012.

The BIR issued the regulation because of findings that crude oil was being smuggled out of the free ports and economic zones.

Petroleum products imported through the free ports are exempt from the value-added tax and excise taxes provided that these are used inside the special economic zones. However, some of the fuel products found their way out of the zones and into the general market.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told the Management Association of the Philippines in January last year that less than 10 percent of the fuel brought into the Subic Freeport in Zambales was consumed on the premises.

“A very small portion of the oil is consumed by legally exempt entities,” Purisima said. “In Subic, my understanding is it’s about 5 percent. Definitely, less than 10 percent is consumed within Subic.”

He said the rest was shipped out. “If it’s shipped out, then it’s subject to taxes.”

Rampant

Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon acknowledged that oil smuggling had remained rampant in the first three years of the Aquino administration’s “daang matuwid” (straight path).

“This problem is one that has been going on way before I came to this office. The problem is that the system is one that’s been in place for so long and many benefit from the status quo. Resistance to reform is quite strong and anyone embarking on a reform program is sure to face difficulties,” Biazon said.

He said he and Purisima had agreed to tighten the monitoring of oil imports into the country, especially the ports under the BOC’s direct jurisdiction.

“We’re doing a tour of these ports to gather information and impress upon our personnel the importance of stopping the smuggling of petroleum. We’re setting up an information-gathering system for analyzing the movement of petroleum through those ports. Under consideration is the issuance of a rule limiting the entry of petroleum only in specific ports,” Biazon said.

He explained that economic zones were a different matter because the “BOC does not have principal authority” over them.

Fuel marking

“We see such ecozones as potential loopholes for smuggling. We endeavor to coordinate with the concerned authorities in economic zones to plug these loopholes. One method is the fuel-marking program, which has seen retailers caught selling marked fuel. It’s a private sector-public sector program,” Biazon said.

Despite the long odds of beating the oil smugglers, Biazon remained optimistic. “There is always hope. There is nothing I’d like more than to be the one to reform the BOC. It will surely be an achievement of a lifetime. But from what I’ve experienced, there’s nothing that those who benefit from the current ‘kalakaran’ (arrangement) would do to stop any change in the system,” he said.—[I]With a report from Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
04-02-2013, 08:24 AM
DFA cancels passports of 3 ex-PCSO execs

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:21 am | Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The Department of Foreign Affairs has canceled the passports of former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Rosario Uriarte and former board directors Jose Taruc V and Maria Fatima Abad Valdes and placed their names on the department’s “lookout list.”

Along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the three were accused of plunder before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged misuse of P325 million in intelligence funds of the PCSO.

Uriarte, Taruc and Valdes left the country even before arrest warrants were issued against them by the court.

Uriarte’s counsel, the Benjamin Santos & Ray Montri Santos Law Office, filed a manifestation with motion informing the Sandiganbayan’s First Division of the DFA’s action despite their motion seeking an extension to file a reply to the prosecution in connection with their motion for reconsideration.

The court had given Uriarte until March 26 to file her reply.

However, on March 22, the accused received the court’s March 5 resolution which noted the Feb. 13, 2013, letter of Assistant Secretary Jaime Victor Ledda of the DFA-Office of Consular Affairs informing the court of the cancellation of their passports in compliance with court resolution dated Jan. 21, 2013.

The counsel said the DFA would not have canceled Uriarte’s passport were it not for the January resolution.

However, the counsel pointed out that Uriarte’s motion for reconsideration is still pending resolution, citing the fact that the prosecution had just filed its comment in connection with the motion.

The counsel asked the court to furnish Uriarte a copy of the DFA letter in order to address the issue in her reply which she will soon file and to seek another 10-day extension within which to file it.

Sam Miguel
04-02-2013, 08:51 AM
Sandiganbayan receives new ‘euro generals’ probe report

By Michael Punongbayan

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has officially informed the Sandiganbayan of the results of its reinvestigation into the so-called euro generals scandal, which recommended the filing of graft and technical malversation charges against nine retired and active senior officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Government prosecutors led by Assistant Special Prosecutor III Joefferson Toribio yesterday filed a manifestation before the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division notifying magistrates of the criminal cases that would be filed against the respondents led by former PNP comptroller Eliseo de la Paz, who is already on trial for alleged violation of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) laws.

The Ombudsman gave the Sandiganbayan a copy of its decision which also seeks to indict former PNP officials Emmanuel Carta, then deputy chief for operations; Ismael Rafanan, then chief of the directorial staff; Romeo Ricardo, then director for plans; German Doria, then director for human resources and doctrine development; and Jaime Caringal, then director of Region IX.

Graft and technical malversation charges were recommended against retired Chief Superintendent Orlando Pestaño, and Senior Superintendents Samuel Rodriguez and Tomas Rentoy III for the illegal disbursement of more than P10 million in PNP intelligence and confidential funds.

All respondents, as well as several others, were previously cleared of any criminal liability in connection with an incident at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia in October 2008.

The officials were on their way home from attending the 77th International Police (Interpol) general assembly in St. Petersburg, when airport officials barred the De la Paz couple from leaving for carrying 105,000 euros.

After the reinvestigation, the ombudsman wants all nine respondents to face trial for misuse of public funds and for causing injury to the government, considering the money found in their possession was sourced from PNP confidential and intelligence funds.

The new special panel of probers created by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the respondents received cash allowances for the trip despite “knowing fully well that the same came from the confidential funds of the PNP.”

“These respondents are accountable officers inasmuch as they received public funds which they are bound to liquidate,” the panel – composed of prosecutors Toribio, Mary Susan Guillermo, Denis Garcia, Lyn Dimayuga, and Richard Buban – ruled.

“Although these confidential funds were eventually returned by the respondents, the misuse thereof clearly caused undue injury to the government,” they said.

The prosecutors said Pestaño, Rodriguez, Rentoy and De la Paz could not claim good faith or merely obeying the directives of their superiors in the disbursement of the confidential funds as they were fully aware of the illegality of the use of such funds for the Interpol Assembly.

“It is also undeniable that all of them knew that the amounts of P2,192,560 and P7,000,000 were taken from the intelligence/confidential funds, specifically appropriated by law for the confidential, intelligence and counter-intelligence activities of the PNP for the year 2008. Yet, they still proceeded and/or allowed the use thereof for the travel and contingency expenses of the PNP delegation to Russia,” the prosecutors said.

Sam Miguel
04-03-2013, 08:24 AM
‘Euro generals’ given 5 days to appeal graft raps

By Michael Punongbayan

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman is giving nine retired and active senior police officials five days to seek a reversal of the decision to indict them for graft and technical malversation charges.

In accordance with the rules, the respondents in the “euro generals” case have five days to file a motion for reconsideration of the resolution indicting them before the Sandiganbayan.

In the 86-page resolution signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales last March 26, there was probable cause to charge former directors Eliseo de la Paz, Romeo Ricardo, German Doria, and Jaime Caringal; deputy directors Emmanuel Carta and Ismael Rafanan; retired chief superintendent Orlando Pestao; and Senior Superintendents Samuel Rodriguez and Tomas Rentoy III.

Copies of the resolution were sent to the parties through registered mail last week.

On Tuesday, Assistant Special Prosecutor III Joefferson Toribio informed the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division of the new findings of a special panel of prosecutors and graft investigators who conducted a reinvestigation on the euro generals scandal.

All nine former and active senior officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered indicted for alleged misuse of confidential and intelligence funds when they attended the 77th International Police (Interpol) general assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia in October 2008.

De la Paz and his wife Maria Fe were prevented from taking their flight back to the country at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow for carrying an undeclared amount of 105,000 euros.

If and when the respondents file a motion for reconsideration of the Office of the Ombudsman’s latest decision, the anti-graft agency is expected to resolve it within a month.

The decision on the appeal will then determine if the filing of criminal cases against all or some of the respondents will proceed before the Sandiganbayan.

The special panel of prosecutors already rejected a number of defenses or explanations by the senior PNP officials, including the issues of double jeopardy and good faith.

Sam Miguel
04-03-2013, 08:25 AM
2 BI employees face dismissal over Korean fugitive’s escape

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. has recommended the dismissal of two BI officers for the escape of a South Korean fugitive through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 last March 19.

Several security personnel of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) assigned at the NAIA are also being investigated for possible involvement in the escape, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.

De Lima said the DOJ formally started its fact-finding investigation, which aims to determine the criminal and administrative liabilities of those who allowed Park Sung-jung to leave the country.

She earlier said at least six BI officers and personnel could have facilitated the illegal departure of Park.

David said he asked De Lima to file criminal charges against the concerned immigration officers.

David admitted that initial investigation showed there was conspiracy in allowing the Korean fugitive to fly out of the country.

He said the BI personnel suspected of facilitating the departure were caught on closed-circuit television cameras at the NAIA escorting the Korean up to the boarding gate with a member of the Office of Transport Security (OTS).

Four other BI employees were also ordered by David to explain their involvement, sources added.

De Lima said “some personnel of the office of transport security were also in collusion with immigration officers who were assigned at the airport during that night.”

She said this information was supported by an intelligence report gathered by investigators, adding the participation of the DOTC men was “very obvious.”

“I already gave a heads up to DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya for the cooperation of the Office of Transport Security,” she said.

De Lima said she has yet to act on the recommendation of David to terminate the two erring immigration officers.

De Lima directed David to terminate the bureau’s internal investigation and allow the DOJ to come in so as to avoid conflict and confusion.

“I am issuing a memorandum for the BI intelligence division to stop their own investigation and turn over all records and documents they have regarding the incident to the three-member committee,” she said.

De Lima said she met with the fact-finding team led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Aileen Marie Gutierrez and specifically gave instructions on parameters of the investigation.

De Lima said the investigation is not limited to the departure of the undocumented foreigner because it will also include the irregular issuance of a working visa to the Korean.

She revealed Park managed to secure a visa in what appeared to be another connivance among BI personnel.

The STAR learned the initial investigation showed Park was the subject of a summary deportation order in June last year. A deportation warrant was issued in August, when Park was even able to secure a working visa from the BI.

De Lima confirmed this and said officials and personnel of the BI’s legal division would be covered by the probe.

She believed corruption or bribery was involved in the case. – With Rainier Allan Ronda

Sam Miguel
04-03-2013, 08:26 AM
AFP chief assures Burgos’ mother of full cooperation

By Jaime Laude

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2013 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista yesterday assured Edita Burgos that the entire military organization will fully cooperate in her quest to find her missing son Jonas.

“I know where she’s coming from. The AFP will fully cooperate and will follow court orders on this issue,” Bautista said.

Just like Edita, Bautista said the AFP wanted to put closure on the issue hounding the military since Jonas was taken by armed elements in April 2007.

“She’s a mother who is pained by the disappearance of son and the AFP is with her,” Bautista said.

Bautista added that once he officially receives an order from the court, he will do his best to assist Edita.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said the military is now weighing its legal options in the wake of moves seeking to reopen the case of Jonas.

“Our military lawyers have met with the Solicitor General. At the meeting they are working for possible legal options, remedies that may be undertaken as a result of the decision of the Court of Appeals,” the colonel said.

“The report will be submitted to the chief of staff together with the summary of all the documents that they have received from the Court of Appeals,” he added.

Burgos said they would fully cooperate with the investigation on the case, which has tainted the military’s public image.

“We will coordinate with the investigating bodies. Our intent is to put closure on this issue... we are not hiding anything,” he said.

Last week, the Court of Appeals (CA) ruled that the military, particularly the Army, is accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas.

The appellate court also held Army Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. responsible for the activist’s disappearance.

The ruling, which stemmed from petitions for habeas corpus by Edita, also ordered the military and police to continue their investigations until the persons responsible are brought to justice.

The court also recognized the abduction of Jonas as an enforced disappearance case covered by the rule on the writ of amparo.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said Baliaga is working for the Adjutant’s office in Army headquarters. – Alexis Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Paolo Romero, Rhodina Villanueva

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 08:14 AM
Aquino orders ‘focused’ NBI probe of Jonas case

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:35 am | Thursday, April 4th, 2013

“Focused, dedicated and exhaustive.”

That’s the directive issued by President Aquino to the National Bureau of Investigation when he ordered the agency to look into the April 2007 abduction of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr., in the face of a purported new and explosive evidence implicating the military in the disappearance, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing that the NBI inquiry would cover officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, who would not be allowed to reject summons by merely issuing a blanket denial of involvement in the case.

Lacierda said the President had instructed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to direct the NBI to conduct a “focused, dedicated and exhaustive investigation” into the Jonas case.

“This is in fulfillment of the President’s pledge that any receipt of new evidence or leads will receive the scrutiny the case deserves,” he said, referring to a vow made by Mr. Aquino during a meeting with Jonas’ mother, Edita Burgos, before he assumed the presidency.

Lacierda said De Lima had asked NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas to form a special team to “ferret out the truth” about Jonas’ disappearance, and “determine who may be criminally charged.”

“As chief executor of our laws and as Commander in Chief, the President is mandated to do justice to every man,” Lacierda said in a news briefing.

Jonas Burgos was an agriculturist actively involved in promoting organic farming among the rural folk in Bulacan province. Previous news reports attributed to the military suggested that the young Burgos was a communist guerrilla commander. He was 36 years old when he was snatched by unidentified men on April 28, 2007, at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. He has not been seen since.

The father of Jonas published hard-hitting newspapers against then President Ferdinand Marcos and was detained several times during the martial law regime in the 1970s.

‘Bomb’ of an evidence

Edita Burgos on Monday petitioned the Supreme Court to order the Court of Appeals to put on trial military officers and men for her son’s abduction, claiming she has a new “bomb” of an evidence against them.

The appellate court on March 18 ruled that Jonas’ abduction was an enforced disappearance and held Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. and the Army responsible. It also tasked the Philippine National Police to conduct an “exhaustive investigation” of the disappearance.

In her urgent petition, Edita Burgos said she had confidential documents that would show officers and enlisted personnel of intelligence units of the 7th Infantry Division and 56th Infantry Battalion, operating together, abducted Jonas.

The documents, which she submitted in a sealed package to the high tribunal, purportedly included confidential official reports on file in the Army, including an after-apprehension report, psychosocial processing report, and autobiography of Jonas. The papers contained the identities of officers and men of the two units.



‘Neutralized’

Edita Burgos earlier claimed that a military memo she had seen listed her son in an “order of battle” of communist guerrillas and that next to his name was written the word “neutralized.”

In an urgent memorandum on Wednesday, De Lima ordered Rojas to constitute a “focused” and “dedicated” special team of investigators that would conduct its own “speedy, exhaustive and independent” probe of the disappearance.

The team was directed to evaluate all information and evidence gathered by various agencies, such as the Commission on Human Rights, AFP and PNP, and “pursue other possible leads, collect further evidence and take all other necessary steps towards the end of ferreting out the truth,” she said in the memo, a copy of which was released by Malacañang.

Asked what prompted the President’s directive, Lacierda said: “There’s new evidence, it will require scrutiny from us. And so, to provide justice for all, the President has ordered (De Lima) to look into it.”

Lacierda quoted Mr. Aquino as telling Edita Burgos previously that “if you have new evidence, let us know, and we will investigate.”

“Part of that investigation process will also require investigating the AFP, the PNP. And, as Chief Executive of the country, as Commander in Chief, there is no doubt as to the cooperation of the hierarchy,” he said.



Atimonan as template

After all, police and military agents cooperated in the NBI’s investigation of the Jan. 6 incident in Atimonan, Quezon, in which 13 people were killed, Lacierda said. The NBI said the killings in Atimonan were a “rubout,” or summary execution, and recommended the prosecution for multiple murder of several dozen police and military personnel.

“Perhaps the template we have here is the Atimonan incident as well. We want to make sure that it’s going to be exhaustive as what we did in the Atimonan incident. So will the AFP cooperate? Will the police cooperate? Yes, they will cooperate,” he said.

Since it’s not under the AFP, the NBI could not order the preventive suspension of officers and men implicated in Jonas’ abduction, Lacierda said.

He said the NBI probe was independent of directives from the Court of Appeals to other agencies to look into the Jonas case.

“What we can assure the family of Mrs. Burgos is that we will look into all the evidence as they are presented. That’s the only guarantee that we have because as of now, they have not started the investigation yet. We will look into those documents and we’ll be able to— the NBI will be validating those documents,” he said.

In a text message to reporters, De Lima said that the NBI inquiry would “obviate any suspicion of lack of impartiality or whitewash” of the case. “The clear objective is to ferret out the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice.” With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 08:15 AM
SC lifts CA’s freeze on Ligot assets

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:09 am | Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Supreme Court has lifted a freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals on the assets of former military comptroller retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot and his family, saying the indefinite timeframe of the order violated the family’s right to due process.

In a 24-page ruling dated March 6 and penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the high court ordered the appellate court to transmit its records to branch 22 of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) which is now hearing a civil forfeiture case against Ligot.

“We clarify that our conclusion applies only to the CA ruling and does not affect the proceedings or whatever resolution the RTC may have issued in the presently pending civil cases of forfeiture,” it said.

The high court found merit in the petition filed by Ligot, his wife Erlinda and children Paulo, Riza and Miguel who alleged the appeals court acted with grave abuse of discretion when it extended on Jan. 12, 2007 its freeze order on the their properties issued initially on Jan.4, 2006 for an indefinite period.

Ligot, who is accused of amassing at least P135.28-million in ill-gotten wealth, had asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision extending a freeze order on their properties issued on Sept. 20, 2005 “until after all the appropriate proceedings and/or investigation have been terminated,” saying it deprived them of their property without due process and was tantamount to punishing them before their guilt was proven.

Their appeals denied, the Ligots elevated the case to the Supreme Court in 2007, pointing out that the freeze order “ceased to be effective in view of the six-month extension limit on freeze orders provided under the Rule in Civil Forfeiture Cases” which took effect on Nov. 15, 2005.

In its decision, the high court found merit in the claim of the Ligots that the effectiveness of the freeze order on their properties ceased after Jan. 25, 2006 in accordance with the six-month rule.

The high court said the appellate court’s extension of the freeze order “borders on inflicting a punishment to the Ligots, in violation of their constitutionally protected right to be presumed innocent, because the unreasonable denial of their property comes before final conviction.”

The high court also noted that the freeze order had been in effect since 2005 while the government only filed a civil forfeiture case in 2011 and another forfeiture case in 2012.

The high court said the government did not even give an explanation why it took six years from the time the freeze order was granted before it was able to file a civil forfeiture case in court.

The extended freeze order indeed violated the Ligots’ right to due process, the high court ruled, and ordered the reversal of the appellate court decision.

The high court reminded the Court of Appeals that “the government’s anticorruption drive cannot be done at the expense of cherished fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution.”

“The end does not justify the means,” it said.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 09:03 AM
Sulpicio ship tragedy victims’ kin bewail CA ruling

By Ador Vincent Mayol

Inquirer Visayas 11:11 pm | Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

CEBU CITY—Families of victims of the 2008 sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars expressed dismay over the dismissal of criminal charges against an official of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., formerly known as Sulpicio Lines Inc. (SLI).

The Court of Appeals 15th division in Manila dismissed charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to property against Edgar Go, vice president for administration of SLI.

In dismissing the charges, the court said the Department of Justice erred when it blamed Go for the sinking since the vessel was cleared to sail by the Coast Guard and the alternate route presented by the ship captain, Florencio Marimon, was also approved.

The DOJ will contest the ruling. There are 29 complainants in the criminal case. All of them are based in Luzon.

Although only 29 individuals pursued the criminal case, the complainants in the civil cases against SLI said they felt uneasy since the trial of the several civil cases they filed against SLI has yet to start.

“We’re all dismayed. It’s been five years but justice remains to be served. The cases are moving but the pace is slow,” said Rowena Barret.

Barret said she wouldn’t lose hope in her quest for justice for her 28-year-old brother, Arman, who was among close to 800 people who died when the Princess of the Stars capsized off the coast of Romblon on June 21, 2008. Arman was bound for Manila to process documents that he needed to work overseas.

“We’re not tired of waiting. We need justice. We have not lost hope,” she said.

Barret, a resident of Talisay City, Cebu, said SLI should pay for allowing the vessel to sail even if the company knew that it was headed for an area being battered by Typhoon “Frank.”

Barret, who is demanding P5 million in compensation, said she had met with the counsel of SLI in court for the Judicial Dispute Reform (JDR), a procedure wherein judges try to settle issues between the parties before conducting trial.

Manila-based Levy Samuele also underwent mediation proceedings with SLI. But they were unsuccessful.

Samuele said SLI was willing to bankroll the education of the victims’ children and offered cash to the families in exchange for the withdrawal of the cases.

But the complainants turned down SLI’s offer and proceeded with the case, Samuele said. “The case has been pending for almost five years. We won’t back off. The legal battle continues,” he added.

Samuele’s brother, Roy, and his three-year-old niece, Jaqueline Rhoz, are among those who died in the sea tragedy.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 09:05 AM
PNP chief goes after cops who forfeit court cases

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:12 pm | Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—These lazy cops may soon find themselves behind bars.

Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima on Wednesday ordered the filing of administrative and criminal charges against 34 policemen whose failure to appear in court hearings led to the dismissal of charges against arrested drug suspects.

Purisima reiterated his directive to all policemen handling drug cases to religiously attend court trials to help expedite the prosecution of drug pushers and manufacturers.

He instructed the PNP’s main anti-narcotics unit, the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, to closely monitor drug-related cases filed by the police in various courts nationwide.

“Maybe these policemen think that they can get away with what they are doing because nobody is watching them. They are wrong,” Purisima said in a news briefing at Camp Crame. “They will be facing not only administrative charges because the law says they also have criminal liability for their non-appearance in court hearings.”

Upon orders of the PNP chief, task force chief Senior Superintendent Napoleon Taas said his office was coordinating with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and various courts to check on the status of pending drug cases.

According to Taas, they found out that at least 34 PNP personnel had been remiss in attending to their court duties, resulting in the dropping of charges against members of drug syndicates.

Asked if the erring policemen intentionally skipped court hearings to help drug suspects in exchange for money, he said, “We can only speculate.”

“It’s possible that they have been doing this for so long that they are now used to it. Maybe the past PNP leaderships did not prioritize attending to this situation,” Taas told the Inquirer. “With the directive of our PNP chief, we will be pro-active in monitoring drug cases. We will not wait for the courts or PDEA to tell us that some erring policemen may be bungling the cases.”

Taas said his office had submitted the names of the 34 policemen to the PNP Directorate of Investigation and Detective Management for pre-charge investigation.

Of this number, 24 were assigned to the anti-illegal drugs unit of several police stations in Metro Manila.

If found guilty, he said, the PNP personnel will be immediately dropped from the rolls.

Citing Section 91 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, he said the police officers may also spend up to 20 years in jail and pay a fine of not more than P500,000.

He said task force will also file the appropriate administrative and criminal charges against the direct superiors of these policemen.

Sam Miguel
04-05-2013, 08:32 AM
Judge issues hold order on Delfin Lee

By Tonette Orejas

Inquirer Central Luzon

7:34 am | Friday, April 5th, 2013

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—Fugitive housing developer Delfin Lee and four coaccused cannot leave the country on orders of the judge hearing the case of syndicated estafa against them.

Lee et al. are accused of fraudulently availing since 2008 of some P7 billion in loans from the state-run Home Mutual Development Fund, or Pag-Ibig Fund, allegedly using fake and nonexistent home buyers.

The hold departure order (HDO) issued by Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes also covers Lee’s son Dexter, Christina Sagun, Cristina Salagan and lawyer Alex Alvarez.

Sagun headed the documentation department of Globe Asiatique (GA), the housing development company that Lee owned and headed. Son Dexter is a GA vice president. Salagan headed the GA accounting division and Alvarez formerly worked for the Pag-Ibig Fund’s legal unit.

Reyes, who presides over Regional Trial Court Branch 42 here, issued the HDO on the motion of government prosecutors who submitted certified documents from the Bureau of Immigration concerning the passport and travel arrival information of the accused.

The Lees, Sagun, Salagan and Alvarez are apparently still in the Philippines. Authorities have failed to arrest Lee despite a P2-million reward.

Lee’s lawyer, Willie Rivera, said they would contest the HDO. “We will file the appropriate action,” he said by phone on Thursday.

The lawyer said he communicates with Lee only through the mobile phones of the fugitive’s trusted emissaries.

In her HDO resolution dated March 25, Reyes continued to refer to the crime of syndicated estafa, although a division of the Court of Appeals had ordered her in February to quash that information against Sagun and recall the arrest warrants she had issued against the accused in May 2012. This virtually downgraded the case to plain estafa, a bailable offense.

But Reyes, citing a Supreme Court ruling, argued that the “activity of subdivision and condominium development which is under the [Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board] involves the public interest and welfare.”

Sam Miguel
04-05-2013, 08:35 AM
4 cops accused of extorting money from detained Koreans

By Erika Sauler

Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:42 pm | Thursday, April 4th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Four policemen were charged with robbery and extortion on Tuesday for allegedly detaining four Korean tourists last year on a charge of illegal use of marijuana and demanding $30,000 or more than P1 million for their release.

Senior Inspector Glenn Gonzales and Police Officer 2 Richard Sibayan of the Manila Police District’s Sta. Cruz Station, and PO1 George Borabo and PO2 Jolly Aliangan of the Sampaloc Station were named respondents in the case filed in the Manila Regional Trial Court.

Assistant City Prosecutor Jesse Tiburan recommended the robbery extortion case last December based on the complaint of Kim Youn Ho, 44; Lee Byung Soup, 58; Nam Sang Jik, 56. Do Wan Kuk was also detained but did not execute an affidavit.

In his defense, Gonzales, then chief of the Sta. Cruz Station’s anti-illegal drugs unit, provided documents that he was not present during the alleged extortion.

He was attending a narcotics course conducted by the US Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

The counteraffidavits of the three other accused showed that Senior Inspector Paulito Sabulao, former Sampaloc anti-illegal drugs unit chief, was the leader of the operation that arrested the Koreans suspected of using marijuana.

In the complaint, the Koreans said they were supposed to leave on a 2:30 p.m. flight on Feb. 14, 2012, but their tour guide, Choi Jang Tae, convinced them to shop in a nearby mall that morning.

Shortly after the group left Diamond Hotel in Malate, Manila, three men alighted from a van, pointed guns at them and told them to get inside the vehicle, the complaint said.

The Korean tourists said they were taken to a police station, later identified as the Sta. Cruz Station. A button that fell from one of the Koreans’ shirt was found in a room there.

“We were told that we are under arrest because of marijuana found in us which is complete lies as we do not have marijuana and immediately we were shown sachet of marijuana,” the complaint-affidavit said.

“We were told that we can actually settle the case by paying $30,000 in exchange for our release and dropping of cases,” it added.

The Koreans were told to seek help from their tour companions left in the hotel. When the latter refused, the detained tourists were told to contact their family in Korea and deposit $6,000 each in a Hana Bank Korea account under the name of Kim Hae Won.

That afternoon, the Korean tourists were released after payment was confirmed. They sought the help of the Korean Embassy afterward and filed a complaint. The respondents were identified through the police personal data sheets.

In a counteraffidavit, Sibayan said Sabulao, Borabo and Aliangan of the Sampaloc station coordinated with his unit (Sta. Cruz) for an operation in their area to arrest Koreans suspected of using marijuana.

A certain Tom, later identified as Gi Il Bang, and Choi, the tour guide, were the informants. They also served as interpreters and negotiators during the detention.

Sibayan said he didn’t have any participation or knowledge in the alleged extortion and the Koreans were later released for lack of evidence.

He said sachets of marijuana were found not in the Koreans’ possession but in the police van.

Though the illegal drugs may have been dropped there when the Koreans boarded, it was flimsy evidence to pursue and so he was ordered by then Sta. Cruz station commander Supt. James Afalla to let the Koreans go.

“Hindi makatarungan para sa isang mababang pulis na katulad ko ang idiin sa isang krimen na hindi ko ginawa o namalayan na nangyari dahil sa kakulangan ko ng sapat na aral sa wikang Koreano,” Sibayan said.

Sam Miguel
04-12-2013, 08:22 AM
Palace set to fight court OK of Garcia plea bargain

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:18 am | Friday, April 12th, 2013

Malacañang is determined to fight the Sandiganbayan ruling affirming the plea bargain agreement between then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and former Armed Forces of the Philippines comptroller Carlos Garcia.

The government’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima have been told to “take action,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang announced Thursday at a briefing in the Palace.

“We are very disturbed by this development,” said Carandang of the 73-page joint resolution promulgated on Wednesday by the antigraft court’s Special Second Division through Associate Justice Samuel Martirez.

The resolution denied the motion filed by government lawyers, through the Office of the Solicitor General, to intervene “for utter paucity of merit.”

It also dismissed the SolGen’s ruling to set aside the plea bargaining agreement.

Under the agreement, Garcia pleaded not guilty in 2010 to direct bribery and facilitating money laundering, and was no longer charged with plunder, which carries the penalty of life imprisonment. He was allowed to post bail.

Garcia also cleared his family of involvement in the cases he is facing in court.

He also agreed to transfer to the government various assets valued at P135.433 million. Garcia was later released after posting a P60,000 bail.

Insufficient evidence

The Sandiganbayan also said that there was insufficient evidence to convict Garcia of plunder, a nonbailable offense, on the basis of allegations that he received commissions, gifts and kickbacks totaling P303 million from government contractors.

The antigraft court said it could not gratuitously assume that the funds of Garcia and his family were accumulated because of his position in the AFP.

Asked how the Sandigan decision would affect President Aquino’s anticorruption drive, Carandang said, “As you know, this issue led to the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, and so we’re certainly disturbed by this latest development.”

“Right now, the Department of Justice and the solicitor general are studying what legal options we may take, but we don’t have a definite course of action right now. But the Department of Justice and the solicitor general are on it,” he said.

Asked about chances, if any, of Garcia evading prosecution, Carandang said, “We’re prepared to take action to contest that.”

Wife, three children

In April 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman slapped Garcia, his wife and three children with a P303-million plunder case for illegal accumulation of wealth.

The case stemmed from an AFP investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman following the detention of two of Garcia’s three sons at San Francisco International Airport in December 2003 for not declaring that they were carrying $100,000 in cash.

P143M not in SALN

In its probe, the Ombudsman found that Garcia, who earned a monthly income of P36,015, had not declared P143 million worth of assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for a number of years.

The Ombudsman ordered his suspension for six months and petitioned the Sandiganbayan antigraft court for the forfeiture of his assets. Garcia was confined to quarters and ordered subjected to court-martial.

40 accounts frozen

The Court of Appeals later ordered the freeze of 40 bank accounts of Garcia and his family. The US government also froze Garcia’s real estate holdings in the states of New York and Ohio.

In November 2004, the Ombudsman filed four counts of perjury against him in connection with the SALN he filed from 1997 to 2000.

Garcia was arrested in June 2005 following the filing of plunder charges in the Sandiganbayan.

In December 2005, a military court found Garcia guilty of violating Articles of War 96 and 97 (or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline) for not declaring his true assets and for holding permanent-resident status in the United States.

2 years of hard labor

Garcia was sentenced to two years of hard labor and dismissed dishonorably from the service, thus forfeiting his retirement benefits.

In March 2010, Garcia pleaded not guilty to the money-laundering charge filed by the Ombudsman against him and his family for allegedly conspiring to deposit and withdraw illegally acquired huge amounts using numerous bank accounts between July 2002 and July 2004.

In December 2010, Garcia, after being detained for six years while on trial, was ordered released by the Sandiganbayan after his camp had struck a plea bargain deal with state prosecutors.

But after avoiding conviction in the civilian court, Garcia was convicted in September 2011 by a military court for violation of Articles of War 96 and 97. He was arrested and sent to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City to serve two years in prison.—With a report from Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
04-22-2013, 10:41 AM
Sen. Guingona’s mom hurt in NPA attack

2 bodyguards killed; guerrillas apologize

By Marlon Ramos, Bobby Lagsa Inquirer Mindanao

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:05 am | Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Police and military troops are pursuing a group of communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas who wounded Gingoog City Mayor Ruth de Lara Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., and killed two of her bodyguards in an attack in Misamis Oriental province late Saturday.

Mayor Guingona, 78, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP), suffered bullet wounds in the arms and feet. She was also wounded by shrapnel from a grenade blast during the attack in the hinterland village of Alatagan in Barangay (village) Upper Kapitulangan.

Guingona, mother of Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, was returning with a six-member escort from a town fiesta in Alatagan when they were “ambushed” by the rebels, Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, spokesman for the Philippine National Police, told reporters in Manila.

Cerbo said the rebels fled after a 10-minute fire fight with police. But the mayor was safely retrieved only at dawn Sunday, hours after the attack, because the site was a remote area.

Killed were the mayor’s civilian bodyguards, brothers Nestor and Tomas Velasco.

PO3 Rolando Benimerito and Leo Cañete, another civilian bodyguard of the mayor, were wounded.

The attack came less than a month before local elections in May. NPA guerrillas often take advantage of election seasons to raise funds by demanding protection money from candidates who want to campaign in areas under their control.

Mayor Guingona is not running for any office in the elections, but her daughter Marie is running to take her place at city hall.

The NPA admitted the attack and apologized to Guingona and her family, saying it was not intentional, as the rebels’ plan was to hold the entourage, disarm the bodyguards and talk to the mayor.

“We feel sorry about the incident, but Guingona was warned last week not to bring an armed security escort with her while on the campaign trail,” Jorge Madlos, spokesman for the National Democratic Front in Mindanao, said.

“There was a makeshift roadblock, but somebody in their convoy ordered to run it down and fire at the NPA [guerrillas], who were forced to return fire,” Madlos told the Inquirer by phone on Sunday.

“It is our heartfelt request to ask for forgiveness to the family of Guingona. We did not expect this,” he said.

Madlos said the NPA would indemnify the families of those killed.

The NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Command also apologized for what spokesman Allan Juanito called “unfortunate incident.”

But Juanito said the incident was not an ambush.

“It started when Mayor Guingona’s armed escorts fired upon an NPA checkpoint in Kapitulangan,” he said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer. “The group was on its way home when it passed by the NPA checkpoint near the bridge in Kapitulangan.”

“The lead vehicle of Mayor Guingona’s convoy rammed the bamboo roadblock mounted by the Red fighters while her escorts opened fire at the NPA flagging down the convoy. The Red fighters immediately returned fire in self-defense,” he said.

Juanito said the NPA unit involved was carrying out orders from the regional command “to implement the revolutionary policies” prohibiting candidates from carrying firearms and bringing armed escorts when they campaign in “guerrilla zones” without “coordination with the concerned revolutionary territorial committees and commands.”

The NPA unit in the area has been manning checkpoints since April 15, he said.

“Aside from explaining our policy to her campaigners, responsible cadres in the area also personally contacted Mayor Guingona phone, reminding her to avoid bringing armed escorts [to] campaign [rallies],” Juanito said.

The communist movement will take “full responsibility” for the incident, he added.

“For the civilian casualties, we will exhaust all efforts to contact their families to extend indemnification and needed medical assistance to the wounded,” he said.

Juanito said the NPA recognized former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr.’s “significant contribution” to the Filipinos’ struggle against dictatorship and his “steadfast nationalist standpoint” in various issues.

He said the NPA also respected Sen. TG Guingona’s “propeople” stand on many issues.

“Thus, we are deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident. We take full responsibility for this,” Juanito said.

The NPA, however, will continue putting up checkpoints in the area, he said.

No NPA permit

Madlos said the mayor’s group failed to ask the NPA for permission to campaign in the area controlled by the guerrillas.

Asked if that was the reason for the roadblock, he said, “It is not the issue of permit to campaign fee, but rather of adhering to policies of the revolutionary movement.”

Madlos said the incident should serve as a warning to politicians who want to campaign in NPA-controlled areas not to bring armed escorts.

“They are not allowed to bring firearms unless they ask for special permits from the local NPA that they will bring one for their own protection against bandits,” he said.

[B]The military condemned the attack as another “proof of the NPA’s criminal nature.”

“They are no different from other partisan armed groups and criminals that consistently break the law and hamper far-flung communities’ growth and development,” Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said in a statement.

Burgos said Mayor Guingona was not campaigning but returning from a village fiesta in Upper Kapitulangan.

“This is contrary to claims of the NPA that she was campaigning in the area. Mayor Guingona is not a candidate in the coming … elections,” Burgos said.

He said the attack was a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The insurgents also violated Republic Act No. 9851, which penalizes violations of the International Humanitarian Law, genocide and other crimes against humanity, Burgos said.

Pursuit operations

Burgos said troops from the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion commanded by Lt. Col. George Banson were spearheading the joint military-police operations to get the NPA guerrillas who carried out the attack on Mayor Guingona.

Burgos said the mayor was first taken to Sanitarium Hospital in Gingoog and was later flown by a military helicopter to Cagayan de Oro City, where she was taken to Capitol University Medical City (CUMC).

Dr. Jesus Jardin, CUMC medical director, said Mayor Guingona was in stable condition, “although her emotions are still high.”

Malacañang also condemned the attack on Mayor Guingona.

“We condemn this ambush,” President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said on state-run radio. “Whatever the reasons are, this kind of violent attack directed at any (government) official or candidate has no room in the forthcoming May elections.”

The Palace offered its condolences to the families of the slain escorts of Mayor Guingona.

‘Ambush’

Senator Guingona called the attack on his mother an “ambush.”

He issued a statement saying: “The New People’s Army has fired upon an elderly and innocent woman who is already bowing out of politics. They alleged that they fired upon my mother because [she] breached [their] policy against [bringing firearms in their territory. The people who carried firearms were] members of the Philippine National Police.”

The statement indicated that Guingona does not recognize the NPA’s power to enforce any policy anywhere in the country.

“We would like to remind everyone in this country that there is only one government of the Republic of the Philippines. There is only one President who is in charge of executing the laws of this land. That is President Noynoy Aquino. He is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Guingona said.

Guingona said he was relieved that his mother survived the attack. But he said he mourned the deaths of her aides, whom he described as “loyal employees of long standing in our family’s home in Mindanao.”

He said his mother was wounded and was trapped inside the vehicle, which was thrown down on its side by the power of the grenade blasts.

Guingona flew to Cagayan de Oro Sunday morning. He said his mother was safe and would undergo surgery on Monday for the removal of the bullets and shrapnel that she took during the attack.

His sister Marie, who is running for mayor of Gingoog, stood silent beside him during an interview with the Inquirer outside CUMC.

Guingona said his father, the former Vice President, would arrive in Cagayan de Oro Monday morning.

Fifty attackers

Maj. Leo Bongosia, spokesman for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, also called the incident an ambush, belying Madlos’ claim that the rebels were only forced to return fire.

Bongosia said about 50 guerrillas took part in the attack on Mayor Guingona.

Sesinio Retuya, a driver to the Guingonas, said the “ambush site” was about 10 kilometers from the highway in Kapitulangan.

Retuya, who went to the site Sunday morning, said the lead vehicle that carried Mayor Guingona was riddled with bullets.

“There are holes in the windshield and on both sides of the cars,” he said.

Retuya said Mayor Guingona survived because her bodyguards used their bodies as shields against the attackers’ bullets.—With reports from Michael Lim Ubac, Gil Cabacungan, Jerome Aning and Leila Salaverria in Manila; Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao; and AFP

Sam Miguel
04-22-2013, 10:42 AM
^^^ Hunt all of those bastard NPA down, capture them, torture them for two weeks, then kill them slowly.

Sam Miguel
04-23-2013, 11:15 AM
Aquino: Crush NPA checkpoints

President vows action vs Guingona attackers

By Michael Lim Ubac, Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:03 am | Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

President Aquino on Monday ordered the police and the military to dismantle New People’s Army (NPA) checkpoints and protect politicians campaigning in areas controlled by the communist insurgents.

Aquino issued the order two days after NPA guerrillas attacked and wounded Gingoog City Mayor Ruth de Lara Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., at a makeshift checkpoint in the hinterland village of Alatagan in Misamis Oriental province.

The President, campaigning in Misamis Oriental with his senatorial candidates in May’s midterm elections, said he was saddened by the attack on Mayor Guingona, a member of the ruling Liberal Party.

Aquino took time out from the campaign and visited the mayor at Capitol University Medical City (CUMC) in Cagayan de Oro City.

He issued the order after the mayor’s son, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, questioned the NPA’s authority to set up checkpoints and enforce its will on a country that has only “one government” and governed by just “one President.”

Accountability

“I pledge, within my power and abilities (as President), and in the name of the law, to exact accountability from those responsible for this,” Aquino said in a speech during a rally in Jose Pelaez Roa Park in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

Police said Mayor Guingona was returning from a village fiesta with a six-member escort when a group of about 50 NPA guerrillas attacked her entourage in the remote village of Alatagan in Barangay (village) Upper Kapitulangan, Gingoog City, late Saturday.

Mayor Guingona, 78, survived a hail of bullets and grenade blasts, but two of her civilian bodyguards, who shielded her with their bodies, were killed.

A policeman in her entourage and another civilian bodyguard were wounded.

The rebels withdrew after a 10-minute exchange of fire with policemen in the mayor’s group.

Mayor Guingona suffered bullet wounds in the arms and legs. She was also wounded by shrapnel from a grenade blast.

Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriquez Jr., police chief for Northern Mindanao, said the police would bring criminal and war crimes charges against the NPA rebels who carried out the attack on the mayor.

The military’s Human Rights Office said the communist rebels violated nine human rights laws as well as election rules.

Stable condition

Senator Guingona told reporters Monday that his mother was in stable condition after undergoing surgery at CUMC.

A bullet shattered the bone in Mayor Guingona’s right arm. Doctors removed the fragments and used metal to link the two ends of the arm bone, the senator said.

The doctors also successfully extracted slugs from the mayor’s body, but the “numerous shrapnel” from the grenade blast would be removed later, the senator said.

Dr. Jesus Jardin, CUMC medical director, said the mayor was recovering from the operation.

Military pursuit

Government security forces went after the NPA band that attacked Mayor Guingona.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, who took over the leadership of the military in Eastern Mindanao on Monday, said government troops caught up with and engaged the guerrillas in a place near the site where the mayor was attacked in Barangay Upper Kapitulangan.

“The NPA rebels were the same ones who ambushed Mayor Guingona. It was near the (ambush) site,” Cruz said.

There was no report of a body count, but Cruz said the security forces found matèriel in the area.

NPA permits

Military and police officials called the attack on Mayor Guingona an “ambush,” but the NPA said its fighters were only forced to return fire when the mayor’s group tried to shoot its way through a roadblock the rebels had set up to enforce a prohibition on firearms in the area.

The insurgents prohibit candidates from campaigning in areas under their control without permit, for which they must pay. The rebels also forbid candidates to bring armed bodyguards or carry firearms except if the weapons are for protection against bandits. But the candidates must have NPA gun permits, which they must also pay for.

Don’t pay

Malacañang on Monday advised candidates in May’s midterm elections not to pay protection money to the NPA and instead seek help from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) if they are campaigning in rebel-infested areas.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters that the Palace had ordered the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to explain why the NPA could freely set up checkpoints in areas the rebels supposedly controlled.

Lacierda said the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion was spearheading an investigation into NPA checkpoints.

Local candidates may report NPA checkpoints to the DILG and the military would take care of dismantling them, he said.

Lacierda said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had ordered the police to provide security to local candidates campaigning in areas influenced by the NPA.

Security operations

Lt. Gen. Allan Luga, AFP vice chief of staff, said the military would send one Army battalion to Misamis Oriental within the week to intensify security operations.

Luga said two Army battalions were already in the province helping the police keep the peace during the campaign for the local elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it might include Gingoog City on the list of election hot spots after the attack on Mayor Guingona.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes told reporters that the election watchdog may tag areas where NPA attacks occurred recently as “areas of immediate concern.”

He said seven more areas would be added to the 15 provinces the police had listed as areas of concern and election hot spots.

NDF apologizes

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao apologized to the Guingonas for the injuries and deaths in Alatagan and promised to extend medical assistance to the civilians wounded and indemnify the families of those killed.

But Jorge Madlos, a spokesman for the NDF, insisted that Mayor Guingona’s group had failed to secure NPA permission to campaign and to comply with the NPA prohibition on the carrying of firearms in areas controlled by the guerrillas.

Mayor Guingona is not a candidate, but her daughter Marie is running to take her place in Gingoog City Hall. Military and police officials said the mayor was not campaigning but was returning from a village fiesta when her group was attacked.

Not ready to forgive

Former Vice President Guingona said his family was not ready to forgive the NPA for the attack on his wife.

Speaking at a news conference in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday, Guingona said it would take some time before his family could forgive the rebels for the assault on the Gingoog mayor, whom the family described as “an elderly woman who was bowing out of public service.”

Guingona said his family was going through a “harrowing experience” and should be given time for healing.

“My heart is sorrowful and I am saddened very much by what happened,” Guingona said. “I thank God that my wife was able to survive.”

Senator Guingona called for a resumption of the peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels.

“It is only when we have a genuine peace agreement that we can move forward,” the senator said.

He praised the military and the police for rescuing his mother, who was trapped inside her car and was recovered early on Sunday, seven hours after the attack.

The mayor was found under the lifeless bodies of brothers Nestor and Bartolome Velasco, civilian aides who took the bullets to save their boss’ life.

Bartolome Velasco had been the mayor’s driver-bodyguard for eight years. Nestor Velasco had been employed at the mayor’s office for just a month.

Rosalie Velasco, sister of the two men, said Bartolome was hit several times. Nestor was hit once in the head.

“When I was told that the mayor was found under their bodies, I could not help but think about their promise to protect her,” Rosalie said.

“Tome had always been saying he was ready to give up his life for the person who helped to feed his family,” she said, referring to Bartolome by his nickname.

The bodies of the brothers were taken to their parents’ home in Gingoog City Monday afternoon for the wake.

Cristy Velasco, Bartolome’s wife, could not look at the body of her slain husband. Instead of braving it, she called their daughter Cherry Mae and told her, “[Child], go take a look at your father.”

Then, turning to the Inquirer, she said, “I want justice for my husband.”—With reports from Bobby Lagsa and Cai Panlilio, Inquirer Mindanao

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 08:59 AM
Bayan clears NPA: No extortion, it’s civil war

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:21 pm | Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

It’s not a case of extortion but a reflection of an ongoing civil war.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of the leftist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), on Tuesday dismissed military claims that the New People’s Army (NPA) attack on the convoy of Mayor Ruth Guingona was a “case of plain extortion.”

“It is detached from the bigger picture, which is the ongoing civil war and the stalled peace negotiations,” said Reyes.

Reyes blamed the government for the deadlocked talks, saying it had shown “disinterest” in the negotiations and refused to honor previous agreements, such as the Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

The 78-year-old mayor, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., had just attended a village fiesta in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, when her convoy came under fire on Saturday, allegedly from an NPA checkpoint. Guingona was wounded in the attack; her driver and bodyguard were killed.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) on Tuesday said it might recommend sanctions on the NPA group involved in the assault.

“As far as I know, the NDF can recommend that but it is the NPA that has the responsibility and duty to impose appropriate sanctions if warranted after a full investigation,” said NDF lawyer Edre Olalia in a text message to the Inquirer.

Olalia said the incident could also be discussed in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) composed of government representatives, the NPA, the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines set up as part of the peace process.

“It highlights through an unfortunate incident such as this the need, urgency and importance of the talks, the resolution of the various complaints before the JMC, and the wisdom of addressing the roots of the armed conflict which has engendered the continuing war,” Olalia said.

Muscle-flexing

Reelectionist Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Saturday’s incident coincided with the NPA’s muscle-flexing in the Caraga region “so that the administration will finally talk to them.”

“I think it’s political in nature. That information was known already by the family of the Guingonas long before it happened. But it also coincided with the increased aggression of the NPAs in the Caraga region,” Trillanes said.

“I think it’s more of trying to be relevant because they have been ignored by the administration thinking that they had been diminished, and true enough in some fronts they have been greatly diminished but not in that area,” he said.

Bro. Eddie Villanueva, the lone senatorial candidate of Bangon Pilipinas, urged President Aquino to make sure that his order to military and police units to dismantle NPA checkpoints and protect politicians in communist-controlled areas was carried out to the letter.

He said in a statement that Aquino “must show that these are not mere words.”

“The President must also exact accountability from police and military units who fail to carry out his directives,” said Villanueva, the leader of the Jesus is Lord Church, who was campaigning in Mindanao on Tuesday.—With reports from Norman Bordadora and Jerry E. Esplanada

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 09:01 AM
Palace to NPA: Make our day

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:23 am | Thursday, April 25th, 2013

The government has deployed hundreds of extra military troops to Mindanao as it vowed on Wednesday to protect candidates for next month’s elections after communist rebels recently ramped up armed attacks, beginning with the ambush last weekend of Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona.

The New People’s Army (NPA), the rebels’ armed wing, was attacking “soft targets,” including politicians, to blackmail them into paying for “permits” to campaign without guerrilla interference, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

“You want to challenge us? Go ahead make our day,” Lacierda said, directly mocking the 4,000-strong NPA, as he announced the deployment of an additional 500 Marines to Mindanao.

To the candidates, Lacierda said: “There is only one armed forces and we will protect you.”

The insurgents ambushed Guingona, the 78-year-old mayor of Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, on Saturday, killing her bodyguard and driver and leaving her and two policemen wounded.

Guingona belongs to the ruling Liberal Party, and is married to former Vice President Teofisto Guingona. Her son is a senator.

After the ambush, the NPA warned politicians to seek permission before campaigning in their strongholds, and to refrain from bringing in armed bodyguards.

They stepped up their attacks in Mindanao on Tuesday, lobbing a grenade at a police station, exchanging fire with a military patrol and abducting a soldier in separate incidents, police said, adding that there were no casualties.

Lacierda said the battalion of Marines deployed to Mindanao would help police break up rebel-set roadblocks that were targeting politicians campaigning for the May 13 elections.

Armed Forces spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos, Jr. said Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista had ordered “a relentless pursuit of the perpetrators responsible for the recent ambush on Mayor Guingona.”

Stop NPA roadblocks

But while in pursuit of the insurgents, the soldiers still have to adhere to the rules of engagement and the rule of law, Burgos said.

He said Bautista also ordered intensified security patrols “so that the NPA would not be able to establish roadblocks” like the one it set up in a remote Gingoog village when the insurgents ambushed Guingona’s entourage.

Burgos also urged politicians and the public to report the extortion activities of the NPA.

“If they receive an extortion letter from the NPA demanding money from them, they should report that to us right away so that we can act on it. Do not be afraid,” Burgos said.

Burgos said that the NPA’s so-called permit to campaign and permit to win “is a form of extortion.”

He also dismissed the statement of Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr. that there was an “ongoing civil war,” which the military allegedly refused to recognize as one of the two “bigger picture” in the issue with communists, the other one being the stalled peace talks with the government.

“There is no civil war. What they (NPAs) did (in Gingoog) was a violation of the law. What they did was murder,” Burgos said.

The government has held intermittent peace talks with the communists, without success, since 1986.

“We remain committed to pursue the peace talks, but it is clear to the (Filipino) people that they are not interested,” Lacierda said.

Meanwhile, communist insurgents in Compostela Valley attacked three unarmed soldiers from the peace and development team of the 71st Infantry Battalion in Barangay (village) Elizalde Maco early Wednesday, taking one of the soldiers captive.

The military identified the soldier as PFC Jesus Tomas. Government troops are pursuing the NPA rebels to secure the release of Tomas.—AFP with Nikko Dizon, Cynthia Balana and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 09:09 AM
Permit to campaign

By Randy David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:23 pm | Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Bizarre as it is, politicians running for local positions have come to accept it as part of the political reality: that in some remote Philippine communities, candidates must secure a clearance from armed illegal groups before they can enter an area and campaign. The permit to campaign is normally given in exchange for a cash “contribution” to the kilusan (movement), a cryptic reference to the armed struggle led by the Communist Party and the New People’s Army (NPA).

Some of these groups may, in fact, be no more than extortionist gangs posing as revolutionaries. But many, like those who recently attacked Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona and her companions, identify themselves as NPA guerillas. They take pains to explain their actions, and sometimes apologize in the name of the movement.

Their premise is that the communities in question are red zones under rebel control and protection. They are nominally part of the Philippine state, but, in practice, they live under the parallel authority of a revolutionary government that has the power to regulate the flow of people, goods, and weapons in these areas. The checkpoint is the figurative embodiment of this authority. It stands for the power to stop, to inspect, and, if needed, to confiscate arms and detain people.

In modern society, such authority belongs only to one entity—the state. “Force is a means specific to the state,” famously wrote Max Weber. The state is the only entity that can claim “the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Outside the state, the employment of physical force to enforce any rule can only be classified as violence. This is the point that Sen. TG Guingona, the mayor’s son, was making when he said that he recognizes only one government in this country, the one presently led by President Aquino.

It is perhaps a testimony to the incomplete nature of our statehood that a number of armed groups not authorized by the state continue to operate with impunity in our country. A number of these are ideological armies that have battled the forces of the Philippine state for decades, while many are plain criminal groups and private armies operating in the shadow of the state.

State engagement with this broad range of illegal armed groups in the country has been a complex affair. Few administrations have dared to launch a sustained and comprehensive war to crush them. The consequences of such a campaign, particularly for innocent communities and civilians caught in the crossfire, are forbidding. Recognizing that these struggles often represent legitimate grievances, peace advocates have counseled dialogue and negotiation as the more humane approach to ending these conflicts.

Even as they remain outside the margins of official society, these underground groups project ideals that other activists and even mainstream politicians can easily identify with. The nationalist aspirations enshrined in the Constitution are a case in point, as are the norms pertaining to human rights and social justice. These issues have historically brought Filipino rebels, activists, and politicians together under a common banner.

Among the progressive political leaders still active today, no one probably knows this better than former Vice President Teofisto “Tito” Guingona Jr. Both in the parliament of the streets as well as in the corridors of government, Tito lent his eloquence and passion to countless causes that the more timid among his colleagues would have found subversive. He never hesitated to champion these causes and lead people’s organizations even when he seemed to be only the figurehead.

But maybe the younger revolutionaries in the field no longer recognize this. For, if they did, they would be more deferential in their treatment of the Guingonas. Mrs Guingona certainly does not deserve to be threatened or harmed by the bullets of revolutionary violence. At 78, not only is she an elderly public servant who is ending her last term as town mayor, she also happens to be the wife of a patriot who has spent his entire life championing all the causes for which they themselves are fighting.

What did they think they hoped to accomplish by shooting and lobbing grenades at the mayor’s car after she failed to stop and honor their checkpoint? Did they mean to show up the emptiness of her authority as mayor of this small town? Did they mean to punish her for ignoring their warning that she must get a permit before she can enter an outlying barangay within her own municipality?

In a statement, Allan Juanito, the spokesman of the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Command, said: “We are deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident. We take responsibility for this.” He said they fired in self-defense and didn’t mean for the deadly encounter to happen. He added: “We wish to reiterate our warning to all candidates who are campaigning in guerilla zones to avoid carrying firearms or armed escorts to avoid the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.” There’s no mention of the permit-to-campaign fee, but it is obvious that that is what this is about.

People who don’t know Tito Guingona may not understand his restrained reaction after he learned that the NPA had shot and wounded his 78-year-old wife, and killed her driver and bodyguard. “My heart is sorrowful and I am saddened very much by what happened,” he said. “I thank God that my wife was able to survive.” No harsh words for the NPA guerillas who almost killed his wife. Clearly, he grieves for a revolutionary movement that once held so much promise but now appears to have lost its way.

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 10:18 AM
‘NPA in ambush must face raps’

By Rhodina Villanueva

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The New People’s Army (NPA) gunmen behind the ambush of Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona should surrender and face criminal charges, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said yesterday.

CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales said an apology issued by the communist umbrella group National Democratic Front (NDF) for the ambush that killed two civilians was not enough.

“We also call on concerned government agencies to ensure that due process and fair treatment will be given to NPA guerrillas who must surrender to face the legal consequences of their actions,” Rosales said.

She expressed hope that the ambush would not derail the peace process with the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

NPA rebels blocked the convoy of Guingona on the outskirts of Gingoog City on Saturday and opened fire when the convoy did not stop.

Guingona, the wife of former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr. and mother of Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, was wounded and trapped for five hours in her bullet-riddled Hi-Lux pick-up before she was rescued and airlifted to Manila.

Mayor Guingona’s driver Nestor Velasco and his brother Tomas died at the scene. The mayor’s security escort, Senior Police Officer 3 Roland Dimerito, and a civilian identified as Leo Cante were wounded.

NPA spokesman Jorge Madlos apologized to the families of the victims.

The CHR condemned the attack, saying the NPA violated a human rights agreement.

“This attack manifests a gross violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” the CHR said, referring to the first component of a three-part peace deal forged in earlier talks between the government and the NDF.

“To shoot a vehicle without first identifying its passengers as combatants or civilians is clearly prohibited under the Geneva Conventions and Republic Act No. 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity,” the CHR said.

Rosales added that “it is equally unlawful for persons without authority and who are not agents of the state to set up checkpoints.”

“Such checkpoints were reportedly set up to enforce the NPA’s prohibition on firearms in areas they allegedly control without NPA gun permits. That the attack was reportedly spurred by the entourage’s attempt to get past an NPA checkpoint is unacceptable as only the government is the sole recognized authority that can establish checkpoints under exacting conditions,” Rosales said.

The CPP said the NPA had orders to enforce a ban on the bearing of firearms by candidates and their escorts while campaigning in areas controlled by the rebels “to ensure the protection of the people’s rights and welfare.”

The CPP said Malacañang is “making assertions that there is only one political authority in the country.”

The group dismissed President Aquino’s order to dismantle NPA checkpoints as “empty bluster which the (military and the police) are incapable of enforcing.”

‘Make our day’

Malacañang challenged the NPA to go ahead and slug it out with soldiers now deployed in the ambush area in Misamis Oriental.

“The approximate headcount for the Marines are 500 people, and hot pursuit operations are now ongoing in Misamis Oriental. You want to challenge us? Go ahead, make our day,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said over national television.

Lacierda assured the public that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can protect the citizenry against NPA attacks.

“We are asking the … local communities – if they have any information as to all these NPA activities, please call our nearest PNP (Philippine National Police) or AFP detachment and we will respond accordingly,” Lacierda said.

“Our position is, we are going to protect and defend our citizens; that is the mandate of the AFP. If there are atrocities… if the NPAs commit abuses …of course we will fight them,” he added.

Asked what the government would do if people encountered NPA checkpoints, Lacierda said the military and police would remove these.

The AFP advised candidates to coordinate with security forces when campaigning in rebel-infested areas.

“If they need extra protection, we can provide them,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said. “They should ignore the demands for so-called permit-to-campaign fees. This is extortion.”

Burgos said the NPA staged the ambush on Guingona to show politicians that the group is capable of making good its threats.

AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has ordered a “relentless” pursuit of the NPA assailants.

Burgos said Bautista wanted field units to intensify their security patrols to prevent the bandits from launching similar attacks.

A battalion of Marines has been sent to Misamis Oriental to maintain peace and order in the area.

The PNP said the NPA group that attacked Guingona is one of the threat groups being monitored by the police for the May elections.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo said the attack was apparently meant to project the strength of the NPA for the elections and raise funds.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima suggested that candidates join up in their campaign sorties to simplify security arrangements.

Purisima said the PNP is ready to provide security personnel to ensure peace and order at campaign venues.

He said the NPA is taking advantage of the election period to extort money from candidates.

Review needed

A senior security official, on the other hand, called for a reevaluation of the military’s campaign plan to address the resurgence of the NPA.

The security official, who asked not to be named, said intelligence capability should also be strengthened.

Contrary to government pronouncements, the official admitted that the ranks of the NPA have significantly increased due to the lack of sustainable military and ground intelligence networks. – Delon Porcalla, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Alexis Romero, Jaime Laude

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 10:20 AM
Cops tampered with evidence in Atimonan – AFP

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Police fired the guns of the dead to make it appear that the fatalities opened fire. They also finished off a wounded man despite pleas from a soldier to take the victim to a hospital.

These were among the stories narrated by soldiers who manned a checkpoint together with a police team in Atimonan, Quezon, where 13 men were shot dead last Jan. 6 in what a fact-finding group of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) described as a rubout.

The soldiers denied being part of a conspiracy to execute the 13, and said the police contingent in the checkpoint tampered with evidence at the scene.

In a 58-page joint counter-affidavit, the respondents from the Armed Forces of the Philippines said members of the team led by police Superintendent Hansel Marantan fired the guns of the dead victims.

The military men who acted as back up of Marantan’s team in the operation included Lt. Col. Monico Abang, Capt. Erwin Macalinao, 1Lt. Rico Tagure, Cpl. Rogelio Tejares, Privates 1st Class Michael Franco, Alvin Roque Pabon, Ricky Jay Borja, Melvin Lumalang and Gil Gallego, and Privates Marc Zaldy Docdoc and Emergin Barrete.

Their joint statement submitted during the preliminary investigation last Monday at the Department of Justice (DOJ) bolstered the multiple murder charges filed against the policemen.

The soldiers belied the charges of the NBI that there was a conspiracy among all of those who took part in the operations in Antimonan.

The soldiers stressed that some details of the NBI report came from them during the fact-finding probe. They said this is why they should not be included in the charges of multiple murder filed against the 11 soldiers led by Abang, and 14 policemen led by Chief Superintendent James Andres Melad, former Region IV-A police director, and Marantan, former Region IV-A deputy intelligence head.

“We would not have disclosed what we saw, taking into consideration that the police actions may be considered as our own act. Without the statement of the undersigned respondents that we witnessed police operatives tampering the evidence, by firing the guns of the occupants of the SUV in the air, the NBI would have not learned of this fact,” the soldiers lamented.

No transfer to ombudsman

The DOJ has rejected Marantan’s plea to transfer to the Office of the Ombudsman the preliminary investigation of the killings of alleged jueteng operator Vic Siman and 12 others.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the investigating panel chaired by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva has denied the plea of Marantan, which cited as basis her earlier public pronouncements on the case.

“I remember that the counsel of Superintendent Marantan wrote to me asking the DOJ not to assume jurisdiction over the case and refer it to the ombudsman because of perceived lack of impartiality on my part because of certain pronouncements. I referred that letter to the chair of the panel and I understand the chair denied that request,” she told reporters yesterday.

Marantan cited as basis De Lima’s reported statement during the reenactment that the incident was “definitely no shootout,” which the accused police officer claimed was a “prejudgment of the case.”

The DOJ chief said the panel would also proceed with its preliminary investigation despite the petition filed by Marantan before the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the legality of the probe conducted by the NBI.

“As of this very moment there is no TRO (temporary restraining order). I hope there will be none. So the preliminary investigation will push through. It is the mandate of the panel to proceed with the preliminary investigation without any order from the court saying otherwise,” she stressed.

De Lima also explained that the DOJ panel is independent in conducting the investigation, with the secretary of justice observing a hands-off policy.

She pointed out that she would only be mandated to act on the case when it reaches her office in petition for review after the preliminary investigation.

De Lima said she could always opt to inhibit if the respondents could prove she would not be impartial in resolving the case.

Marantan and Melad have both denied the multiple murder charges filed against them in their counter-affidavits submitted to the DOJ panel.

Sam Miguel
05-03-2013, 08:52 AM
Mancao: ‘Senator wants me killed’

Escapes from NBI detention

By Erika Sauler, Jerome Aning, Nancy Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:29 am | Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Former police Senior Supt. Cezar Mancao on Thursday accused Sen. Panfilo Lacson of trying to get him killed, forcing him to escape from detention at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila.

Mancao, accused of murder for the 2000 killings of well-known public relations agent Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, bolted from the NBI jail early Thursday and embarrassed the government by calling news organizations to explain why he escaped.

“I know about the plan to have me killed,” Mancao said.

At first, Mancao did not say who was behind the alleged plot to kill him but when asked by the news anchor if he was referring to Lacson, he replied: “You said it.”

Mancao said Lacson was behind the move to transfer him from NBI custody to the Manila City Jail, where he said his life could be in danger.

Lacson, former chief of the Philippine National Police and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) some of whose agents allegedly killed Dacer and Corbito, shrugged off reports of Mancao’s escape.

“His escape is his problem, as well as his custodian’s,” Lacson said in response to questions from reporters.

He also refused to give a statement about Mancao’s claim that he was behind the move to transfer him from the NBI to the city jail.

His staff also refused to give any statement about Mancao’s claims that the senator was a threat to his life.

Defense’s move

Four policemen accused in the Dacer-Corbito case had asked Judge Carolina Icasiano-Sison of the 18th Branch of the Manila Regional Trial Court to order the transfer of Mancao to the city jail, where they and 21 other former police officers charged in the case are detained.

The policemen argued that since Mancao was no longer a state witness and an accused in the case, he should not be given special treatment.

The court granted the policemen’s petition and issued a commitment order late on Tuesday but as it was a holiday, the order could not be enforced.

Mancao was scheduled to be transferred to the city jail Thursday but he got wind of it and, with the help of two guards, escaped early in the morning.

“I will not surrender. Not now,” Mancao said. “I am a victim of injustice.”

“My rights have been violated,” he said.

Investigation ordered

President Aquino ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Mancao’s escape.

“The President has instructed (Justice) Secretary Leila de Lima to [investigate] and hold accountable all the people who would be found responsible for the escape of Mr. Mancao,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

De Lima ordered the NBI to investigate Mancao’s escape and launch a manhunt for the former PAOCTF officer who implicated Lacson in the murders of Dacer and Corbito.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said the manhunt began Thursday.

“We have alerted all of our units nationwide for the manhunt and we are now conducting a full investigation to pinpoint the people responsible for the escape. [We will bring] criminal and administrative charges [against them],” Rojas said.

Guards detained

He said two guards who apparently let Mancao escape had been detained.

NBI Deputy Director for Intelligence Reynaldo Esmeralda said footage from a security camera showed Mancao calmly leaving his cell at 1:14 a.m. Thursday carrying a big black travel bag. He was wearing a bull cap.

Esmeralda said Mancao left a note asking that his things not be removed without “a proper inventory.”

De Lima also ordered the Bureau of Immigration to stop Mancao in case he tried to leave the country.

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. in turn ordered the bureau’s personnel at all ports to look out for Mancao.

So sorry

De Lima told reporters that she spoke to Mancao by phone hours after he escaped.

“He repeatedly asked for forgiveness and understanding for what he did because, according to him, his life was in danger,” De Lima said.

De Lima confirmed that Mancao escaped because he feared he would be killed once transferred to the city jail.

“He claimed he had sources [who told him his life would be in danger there],” she said.

De Lima said she tried to convince Mancao to surrender and offered to bring him in for his safety.

She said she assured Mancao that he would be held at the NBI while he was appealing the court order for his transfer to the city jail.

Mancao refused and said he was already outside Metro Manila, De Lima said.

She said she spoke to Mancao again in the afternoon. Mancao, she said, was adamant about not surrendering.

“He said that as of now, his decision was not to surrender, although it didn’t mean that in the next few days he would not change his mind,” De Lima said.

“I told him that if he did not surrender today [Thursday], then I’m sorry, I will have to intensify the manhunt for you,” she said.

Fugitive

“For all intents and purposes, legally and technically speaking, he is now a fugitive from justice,” De Lima said.

Mancao and another former police officer, Michael Ray Aquino, were charged with murder for the killings of Dacer and Corbito.

The two men were protégés of Lacson in the police service and in the PAOCTF.

Dacer and Corbito were abducted allegedly by PAOCTF agents in October 2000. Their burned remains were found in a creek in Cavite province in 2001.

Suspicion fell on Lacson and former President Joseph Estrada. Both denied having anything to do with the murders.

Murder charges

Murder charges were brought against 22 policemen and PAOCTF agents in 2001. Among those arrested was the PAOCTF deputy chief for operations in Luzon, Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, who linked Mancao and Aquino to the murders.

Mancao and Aquino fled to the United States in June 2001 but they were charged in absentia in September that year.

No evidence was found against Dumlao and he was discharged from the case. He left for the United States in 2003.

In May 2006, the court found probable cause to prosecute Mancao and Aquino and ordered their arrest.

The administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asked the US government to extradite Mancao and Aquino.

By that time, Aquino had been arrested, tried and jailed for spying for the Philippine political opposition led by Estrada.

In February 2009, Mancao executed an affidavit accusing Lacson of being the mastermind behind the Dacer-Corbito murders.

Estrada critic

He said Lacson ordered Dacer killed because the PR agent was a fierce critic of Estrada.

When the killers struck, Dacer was apparently their lone target. But they also killed Corbito because he was with Dacer at the time.

Mancao returned to Manila in June 2009, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and offered to serve as state witness in the case. He was subsequently put under government protection.

With Mancao’s testimony, the DOJ brought murder charges against Lacson, who fled the country before the court could issue a warrant for his arrest.

Dumlao returned to the Philippines and told the court trying the case that the DOJ induced him to link Lacson to the killings.

He also told reporters that DOJ prosecutors forced him to blame the killings on Lacson.

Unfit as witness

Lacson fought the charges in the Court of Appeals while on the run. In February 2011, the court’s sixth division threw out Mancao’s affidavit after finding inconsistencies in his testimony that, the court said, made him unfit as a state witness.

Lacson surfaced and Mancao was taken off the government protection program and turned over to the NBI.

No longer under government protection, Mancao became a target for the defense, which sought his transfer to the Manila City Jail.

In an interview on radio Thursday, Mancao said the court order to transfer him to the city jail was “an aggravation.”

“That was just too much,” he said. “I am the witness but I am the one going to jail,” he said.

“My life was ruined by this case but I have nothing to do with it,” he said.

“Their intention is different,” he said, referring to the people behind the move to transfer him to the city jail.

“It’s my life they want,” he added.

Attempt at reconciliation

A source with knowledge of the case said Mancao tried to reconcile with Lacson through Aquino, who returned to the Philippines in June 2011 and was not prosecuted for lack of evidence against him.

“But Ping turned down the pleas of Mancao, also through Aquino,” the source said, using Lacson’s nickname.

Aquino now works as a security guard at a company named Solaire. “He has gotten his life back,” the source said.

Mancao also wants his life back, the source said.

Lacson’s forgiveness would help bring back Mancao’s life but Lacson refused to forgive his former aide, the source said.

Sam Miguel
05-03-2013, 08:52 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

They have moved on

Lacson is apparently in the clear concerning the Dacer-Corbito killings. He will complete his third term in the Senate in June and will join the Cabinet to handle a still unspecified job.

Estrada was never charged. He is now running for mayor of Manila.

Dumlao has also moved on. He is now commander of the Public Safety Battalion of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Aurora, Quezon) police.

Mancao’s former lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, on Thursday called on him to surrender.

Topacio said Mancao’s “justifiable frustration” over the treatment he was getting from the DOJ forced him to escape.

But he said Mancao should turn himself in.

“If it is necessary for me to give my assistance again to him, I will gladly do so,” Topacio said.

A source said Mancao, who ran for a congressional seat in 2010, is a candidate for councilor in Compostela Valley.

“He will surrender eventually. He just wants people to take notice of his predicament. He feels an injustice was done to him,” the source said. With reports from Cathy C. Yamsuan, Michael Lim Ubac, Philip C. Tubeza, Marlon Ramos, Inquirer.net and AFP

Joescoundrel
05-04-2013, 10:06 AM
Big-shot fugitives

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:06 pm | Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The ridiculousness of it all is mind-boggling. Reports say former police officer Cezar O. Mancao II, who was being held at the National Bureau of Investigation in connection with the 2000 murders of Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Dacer’s driver Emmanuel Corbito, escaped from his NBI detention cell last Thursday by walking out of his cell alone.

The act was captured on a CCTV camera. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima then called Mancao directly to personally confirm with him that he had indeed bolted. (“Yes, ma’am,” was Mancao’s polite reply.) And, in the wake of another purported massive manhunt launched to locate the latest high-profile fugitive, Mancao was still able to grant phone interviews to TV stations—10 hours after he ambled out of the NBI.

“Heads will roll,” said NBI director Mariano Rojas following this latest embarrassment. The ordinary citizen on the street has the perfect riposte by now to such pro-forma promises: “Weh?”

With his seemingly effortless flight from jail, Mancao joins an elite list of the Philippines’ most-wanted—the “Big 5,” as the Philippine National Police calls them: Joel Reyes, former governor of Palawan, and his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes; retired Brigadier General Jovito Palparan; Ruben Ecleo Jr., a former representative of Dinagat Island; and Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee.

If Mancao is seeing their cases as a template for his own flight from the law, then he can very well relax and take it easy underground. Months or even years after their arrest had been decreed by the courts, none of these fugitives have come close to being apprehended by the police. The PNP can’t even be sure whether the Reyes brothers, for instance, who are wanted for the murder of Palawan broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega, are still in the country or are now in Bangkok, to where they had allegedly fled using fake passports.

There is video evidence showing that Joel Reyes passed through an immigration counter at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, escorted by two immigration officers. Despite this, Chief Supt. Francisco Uyami Jr., the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, insists that “the Reyes brothers are still here. Until we have convincing evidence to prove that they have left the country, we believe they’re still here.” Their belief, added Uyami, is based on “probabilities and hunch.”

“Until we have convincing evidence…” The former governor hightailed it out of the Naia in August 2012, or a good nine months ago. What is Uyami saying but that nothing has come out of the purported inquiry into the actions of the immigration personnel who sneaked Reyes out of the airport, or that no follow-up has been done on an eyewitness tip that the fugitive brothers are living under assumed names in the Thai capital? What “convincing evidence” will come the CIDG’s way when it doesn’t seem to be interested in digging up any?

Palparan is an even more egregious case. The warrant for his arrest was issued in December 2011; one year and five months later, the PNP and the military continue to profess ignorance about his whereabouts, despite their formidable manpower and billion-peso intelligence budgets. Ditto with Ecleo, who is wanted for killing his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, in 2002. The April 2012 warrant for his arrest remains unserved, and if the police’s stony silence is any indication, the former legislator seems safely ensconced wherever he is—a fate that the Globe Asiatique owner, Lee, wanted since May 2012, also appears to enjoy at the moment.

What do these high-profile individuals have in common? They are all powerful, moneyed and well-connected, with friends in the highest levels of the government and society to provide them safety and security while on the lam. Doubtless, Mancao, once a highly placed police officer, will turn to his old friends in the service for protection and succor. If he is not apprehended soon, the PNP, CIDG and justice department can just as well give up the pretense and proceed to revise their list from the “Big 5” to the “Big 6.”

At this point, heads on the chopping block are no longer enough. That should have happened long ago, with Palparan et al.’s continuing ability to hoodwink law-enforcement authorities. If Malacañang is truly serious about good governance, it would have done all it could by now to haul in any one of these big-shot fugitives. The country is still waiting, and its patience is growing thinner by the minute.

Sam Miguel
05-06-2013, 08:56 AM
Attention deficit

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:58 pm | Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Cezar Mancao’s embarrassingly easy escape from the National Bureau of Investigation has put the spotlight back on the country’s porous detention facilities. Would that some of the public attention also fall on the continuing failure of the country’s justice system to do right by the murder victims Bubby Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito.

Dacer, a prominent publicist, and Corbito, his driver, were abducted in plain sight in late 2000. Their remains were later found in Cavite; according to two farmers who came out as witnesses, the victims’ bodies were set on fire after they had been strangled to death.

From the start, suspicion fell on highly placed members of the Estrada administration. Joseph Estrada, who was facing impeachment charges at the time, said he and Dacer were close friends; he was cleared by Justice Secretary Nani Perez. In May 2001, the first charges in the case were filed against 22 men, including 13 police officers led by Glenn Dumlao of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). Dumlao implicated police colonels Michael Ray Aquino and Mancao, and said both Estrada and national police chief and PAOCTF commander Panfilo Lacson may have known of the crime.

In time, all three of Lacson’s aides fled to the United States.

In 2009, Mancao executed an affidavit alleging that Lacson was the mastermind of the killings. (He has stuck to his testimony even after the Court of Appeals found the inconsistencies in it rendered him an unreliable witness.) He returned to the Philippines, as did Aquino and Dumlao.

Fast forward a few years, and we find ourselves exactly nowhere.

In 2010—or a little over nine years since executing an affidavit claiming that both Estrada and Lacson may have known of the crime—Dumlao “stood his ground” in court, refused to follow what he said was a script prepared by the Arroyo administration’s Department of Justice, and testified that Lacson was innocent. Dumlao is no longer an accused.

In 2011, Lacson himself was cleared by the Court of Appeals, which found there was no probable cause to warrant the filing of a case against him.

In 2012, the case against Aquino was dropped too, for lack of evidence.

And in 2013, after an unsuccessful (and constitutionally dubious) second run for the presidency, Estrada is back in political harness, running for mayor of Manila.

The number of witnesses or suspects who have died since the double murder was perpetrated has yet to be added together, but the list includes another top PAOCTF officer, Teofilo Viña.

As for Mancao? Apparently—to go by his effusive explanations in various recent interviews, conducted while on the lam—the most important item on his personal agenda is to get Lacson off his back. We do not mean to be facetious; Mancao thinks that Lacson is out to kill him. So his pursuit of some kind of understanding with Lacson is in dead earnest.

Passages from a telephone interview with the Inquirer are worth quoting at some length:

“I talked to everyone whom I believed could help me. Even my mother, who is already old, went to the Senate and talked to him,” Mancao said, referring to Lacson.

“I talked to his brother, Tata Romy, his son who is a candidate for public office in Cavite, his classmates, everyone whom I thought could help. But he ignored them all.”

“… [All] of my efforts were rejected. He ignored me, and never granted my request to talk to him.”

To which the reasonable reply is: What did you expect?

Having named Lacson as the mastermind of the Dacer-Corbito double-murder, did he expect his mentor in the arcane art of elite police work to simply forget? This does not look like the conduct of a man who wants the truth about the Dacer-Corbito murders to be known at all costs.

Now he wants to follow Lacson’s tack and hide from the authorities until proven innocent. “Just like Ping Lacson, I will not surrender,” Mancao said. Lacson had gone into hiding in 2010, but resurfaced in 2011 after the Court of Appeals cleared him.

In the meantime, justice for Dacer and Corbito remains just out of reach. We hope that the case, the subject of sensational testimony at Estrada’s impeachment trial, won’t suffer from the benign neglect that only an administration friendly to some of the former suspects can give

Sam Miguel
05-07-2013, 08:30 AM
Mancao loses protection—De Lima

Palace wants proof of WPP corruption

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:04 am | Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

A very angry Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday dropped fugitive Cezar Mancao II from the Witness Protection Program (WPP) that the suspect in the Dacer-Corbito murder case had criticized as ridden with corruption.

“How can we secure someone who is hiding and lambasting the program that adopted him? Where is your sense of responsibility?” De Lima said in an interview with reporters.

A former police senior superintendent whose offer to serve as state witness in the trial of the Dacer-Corbito case had been rejected by the court, Mancao told a Manila newspaper on Sunday that the program was ridden with corruption and urged Malacañang to review it and see whether its budget really went to witness protection.

But instead of ordering an investigation, Malacañang challenged Mancao on Monday to prove his allegations.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters that Mancao’s allegations were “motherhood statements,” but if he could produce evidence then the Department of Justice (DOJ) would investigate.

“If he really wants to help the program then [he should] turn himself in and let us know. We will investigate,” Lacierda said.

That’s an insult

De Lima said Mancao insulted and embarrassed the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation by alleging there was corruption in the WPP.

She said she was the program’s “chief implementor,” and called Mancao’s allegation a “big lie.”

“I challenge him, if he is telling the truth that there is corruption in the WPP, to produce the evidence,” she said.

Mancao reportedly said he had saved text messages from DOJ and NBI officials that would prove his claims.

Threat ‘plausible’

Explaining Mancao’s accusation that he had been denied a doctor of his choice, De Lima said only the court could grant his request, not the WPP, because he was not yet a state witness.

Lacierda said Mancao’s statement to journalists that he escaped because he was in danger of being killed in the Manila City Jail, to which the court had ordered him transferred in a plot that he charged involved Sen. Panfilo Lacson, his former boss in the Philippine National Police, was just “his claim.”

But De Lima said it was “plausible” that Mancao feared for his life because he was involved in “one of the most sensational and high-profile cases in the country” that have seen no closure “and because of the personalities involved.”

“That’s why we cannot just ignore what he is saying,” she said.

In an affidavit that he submitted to the prosecution, Mancao linked Lacson, who was also chief of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), to the murders in 2000 of public relations agent Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito.

Mancao said Lacson ordered Dacer killed because the PR agent was a fierce critic of then President Joseph Estrada.

Both Estrada and Lacson denied Mancao’s allegations. Estrada was not charged, but the DOJ brought murder charges against Lacson in 2010. He fled the country, returning a year later after the Court of Appeals had cleared him.

Lacson reportedly said he had long forgiven Mancao and had no interest in his former protégé in the PAOCTF.

The government has launched a manhunt for Mancao, who claimed in one interview with the Inquirer last week that he was getting help from friends, enabling him to elude his pursuers.

De Lima said she terminated Mancao’s protection coverage because he was “on the run.”

With Mancao out there, De Lima said there was no way the government could protect him.

“In order to protect and preserve the integrity of the program, I have no choice (but to terminate his coverage). . . . And I have no choice, I will be the laughingstock. . . . and I will be questioned if I insist on putting him on the WPP,” she said.

Help from the inside?

Investigators are looking into the possibility that Mancao had help in escaping from his cell in NBI headquarters after 1 a.m. last Thursday.

The investigation found that the supervisor of the two guards assigned to Mancao issued an order to transfer him from his ordinary cell to a special cell last Wednesday night.

The investigators did not disclose the name of the guards’ supervisor.

Mancao was to be transferred to the city jail last Thursday on orders of Judge Carolina Icasiano-Sison of the 18th Branch of the Manila Regional Trial Court, who granted the petition of four former police officers who are accused in the Dacer-Corbito case.

Mancao beat his transfer by escaping. Video from a security camera showed him casually walking out of the NBI building carrying a travel bag and wearing a ballcap.

De Lima said the investigation had not concluded that the order to transfer Mancao to another cell was part of an “orchestrated plan” to help him escape.

Mancao told journalists that no one helped him escape.

The DOJ has suspended NBI guards Pablo Lani Remalante and Ibrahim Musa and five members of the bureau’s Security Management Division, including its chief, Rodrigo Mapoy, for Mancao’s escape.

Manhunt continues

The manhunt for Mancao will go on “for as long as it takes,” NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said on Monday.

“This is the NBI’s priority at the moment,” Rojas told reporters. “In fact, some of our other works are on hold (so we can) concentrate on this. Even if it’s taking a lot of effort, a lot of resources, a lot of people from the NBI working on this, we will do that just so we can pursue and bring back Mr. Mancao.”

Mancao told the Inquirer last Saturday that his pursuers were just wasting their time and resources.

“They won’t find me. What they will spend in looking for me is better donated to the victims of Typhoon ‘Pablo’ in Compostela Valley,” Mancao said.

“That’s his opinion,” Rojas said. “Just the same, we will not stop. We will continue this manhunt operation.”

Mancao is from Compostela Valley. He is running for a seat on the provincial board of Compostela Valley in local elections next Monday.

Rojas said the NBI had no plan of offering a reward for Mancao’s capture.

“We’ll have to discuss that with the secretary of justice and the secretary of the interior and local government,” he said.

‘Ordinary accused’

Having been dropped from the WPP, Mancao would be treated as an “ordinary accused” and be detained in the Manila City Jail once he was captured, Rojas said.

But if he surrenders, he will be held first at NBI headquarters, he said.

De Lima had promised to help Mancao appeal the court order for his transfer to the city jail.

Rojas called on the public to cooperate with the government in the search for Mancao, whom he described as a “fugitive from justice.”

“For those who are coddling him, of course, they will face criminal liability,” Rojas said.

“Obviously, he’s not alone. He has some people with him, but we cannot say exactly how many,” he said.—With reports from TJ Burgonio and Erika Sauler

Sam Miguel
05-07-2013, 08:56 AM
Jail SSS crooks first; raise premiums later

POSTSCRIPT

By Federico D. Pascual Jr.

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 7, 2013 - 12:00am

HEAVIER CROSS: What social security management theories is President Noynoy Aquino applying in the private sector?

The President plans to increase workers’ contributions to the Social Security System to finance the upgrading of the measly benefits of its more than 29 million members.

That betrays a warped attitude even if he plans to extract “only” an additional 0.6 percent contribution before raising benefits, he claims, by 7 percent.

He scares us by painting a dark picture showing an SSS on the brink of bankruptcy. He says the system is saddled by a ballooning unfunded liability, which was estimated at P1.1-TRILLION in 2011!

Instead of telling us where the workers’ billions had gone and how to retrieve them, the President warned on the eve of Labor Day: “If we won’t do anything, we expect its unfunded liability to increase by 8 percent per year.”

* * *

MORE BLOOD: The SSS and its reserve funds have been conceived to be fully secure until 2039. But the system is now faltering, because gross mismanagement through the years has disturbed its actuarial soundness.

To now ask member-workers to chip in some more from their meager earnings to nurse the system back to financial health is being cruel, a trait that this administration has displayed in its rough handling of its political enemies.

Are workers -- who could be noisy and sometimes unruly when their families’ livelihood is threatened – now also looked upon as foes?

Instead of extracting more blood from them, the President should hunt down and prosecute the thieves who have been looting the SSS and robbing members and pensioners of their benefits.

* * *

GRIEVANCE: If you ask if I have a grievance against the SSS, the answer is Yes.

Having worked hard for decades, at times holding key positions in mainstream media, I feel I do not deserve to be thrown a monthly pension of P4,143.40 a month by the SSS.

It is no consolation that I am in the distinguished company of more than a million pensioners being rewarded with less than P5,000 a month after having toiled hard and long.

I get angry when I see fellow retirees in the newspaper business who were my juniors and who had worked for fewer years but who are collecting bigger monthly SSS pensions.

* * *

MISSING RECORD: One anomaly crying out for an explanation is why some SSS records of my employment history are missing. In their absence, how can I claim credit for valuable services rendered and premiums contributed?

The SSS has no record of my nearly a decade of employment and SSS membership as a staffer of the old Manila Times, where I was a reporter from 1964 until martial rule closed it in 1972.

Get a copy of the final issue of the Times that came off the press before soldiers swooped down on us that September dawn in 1972 and stopped the distribution of the hot copies. The main banner story of that issue, now a collector’s item, was by-lined by a Federico Pascual.

It cannot be that the management of the Times – then Asia’s largest circulated English language daily -- was not remitting my and my employer’s contributions. The SSS records of my colleagues in the same paper were intact, but not mine.

And then, if I was not a bona fide SSS member, how come I was able to get a housing loan from the system at that time?

* * *

IMPOSTOR EXPOSED: The administrative state of the SSS is not only crazy. It is also criminal. And many people inside should be in jail instead.

I had wanted to clear up the mystery of my spotty SSS records quietly. It is only now that I am publicly talking about this.

I was consulting SSS through its proper personnel, some of them supposed friends in their PR (public relations) department. They tried to help, but it seems they were powerless before the entrenched crooks inside.

Their own sleuthing had unearthed the startling fact that somebody had used my name and record to apply for and secure benefits!

Only an insider or somebody with connections inside could do that. It seems that accounts that are not moving, in the sense that the members do not get loans often enough to give the semblance of activity, are vulnerable.

* * *

SYNDICATE KILLED ME!: My SSS friends assured me that their anti-fraud-or-something unit was quietly working on the misuse of my name and records by an impostor.

They said they expected their investigators to soon corner and prosecute the perpetrators. “Perpetrators” is plural since a lone operator without key insider connection cannot do something as complicated as that.

Since I did not have time to play cops-and-robbers, I left it all to them. I thought everything was under control. It was under control all right – by the syndicate.

For lo and behold, they informed me later that when word got around that I was starting to ask questions, the syndicate closed the case by declaring me dead in SSS documentations and then got rid of the records!

To complete the act, I was informed, a woman posing as my supposed widow collected the benefits accruing to the estate of a deceased member (me)!

* * *

INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Only a syndicate that has captured key sections of the SSS could have pulled something as complicated as my case.

I have no doubt that those criminals and their insider contacts are still entrenched at the SSS, growing richer as they victimize more unwary members.

Some SSS insiders share in the loot, in the spirit of “inclusive growth.”

After breaking the syndicates, assuming he has the will to do it, President Aquino may want to review the competence, performance and motivations of his SSS officials. That will be another story for another day.

* * *

Sam Miguel
05-20-2013, 08:47 AM
Store loses P1-M ring

Glib-tongued woman dupes sales clerk

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:32 pm | Sunday, May 19th, 2013

An employee of a jewelry shop at a popular shopping mall in Mandaluyong City has sought police assistance after she fell victim to a woman con artist who made off with a diamond ring worth P1 million.

Accompanied by fellow workers, Sita Alac went to the office of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame on Friday to file a complaint against the still unidentified woman.

Alac, a sales clerk of Naomi Jewelry, said the woman who introduced herself only as “Joy” arrived at their store located on the second level of SM Megamall shortly before 2 p.m. on May 12 and asked to see the “Illusion” diamond set.

The jewelry set, which consisted of a diamond-studded ring and a pair of diamond earrings, was worth P2.8 million, she said.

“As she was looking at the jewelry, she asked me to get a gold wedding ring worth P50,000 which was placed inside our store’s glass display cabinet. She also inquired about a pearl necklace which she said she would use for her wedding,” Alac told the Inquirer.

“The woman again asked me to get another set of rose gold jewelry which she said she intended to buy for her mother. She said she was just waiting for her foreigner fiancé who would pay for the jewelry,” she said.

Alac added that the woman told her that she would buy the Illusion diamond set and handed her P3,000 as reservation fee.

While she was busy computing the price of the jewelry, Alac said the woman placed the two boxes containing the jewelry sets on top of each other. She then asked Alac to keep the items as she was going outside the store to look for her boyfriend.

Alac said the woman who was about 5’2” in height, of heavy build and wearing sunglasses then quickly left the store.

“As I was attending to a regular customer, I suddenly felt nervous and decided to check the box of the Illusion diamond set. I was shocked to see that the ring was already missing,” she told the Inquirer.

When she checked the footage taken by a closed circuit television camera inside the store, it showed the woman surreptitiously taking the diamond ring and hiding it in her right hand as she placed the two jewelry boxes on top of the other.

The CIDG has launched an operation to recover the stolen diamond ring and arrest the thief.

Sam Miguel
05-20-2013, 08:49 AM
Cop faces raps for turning priest away

By Erika Sauler

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:31 pm | Sunday, May 19th, 2013

A Manila policeman is in trouble after a priest who was allegedly punched by a drunk man near a school on Election Day accused him of ignoring his complaint.

Fr. Joebert Fernandez of the Most Holy Trinity Parish Church in Balic-balic, Sampaloc, went to Manila Police District (MPD) officer in charge Senior Superintendent Robert Po after he felt that Police Officer 3 Arnel Joson of the Sampaloc police station took his complaint for granted.

As a result, Joson faces administrative and criminal cases for serious neglect and dereliction of duty.

According to a report by Senior Police Officer 1 James Poso of the MPD General Assignment Section where the case was referred to, Fernandez is a member of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), a poll watch group.

At 7:45 p.m. on May 13, the priest and PPCRV volunteers were in a van that had just delivered food to poll volunteers at Lopez Jaena Elementary School when their vehicle was blocked by a man who seemed to be drunk.

The man later identified as Joel Bañez shouted and swore at the group, the police report said.

One of the volunteers called the attention of policemen who were detailed at the polling center but the lawmen ignored them.

Fernandez and a volunteer identified as Mark Anthony Echanes then got out of the vehicle to pacify the drunk who punched the priest in the eye. Echanes, meanwhile, grabbed the suspect.

At this point, the policemen, one of whom was identified as Joson, came over. Echanes said he turned over the drunk to the police but he was ignored and the troublemaker was able to run away.

The priest was brought to the Sampaloc police station where he was repeatedly asked about the incident although no one took down his complaint, according to the report. With Sushmita Chim, trainee

Sam Miguel
05-23-2013, 08:44 AM
Roxas defends police in Revilla compound standoff

By Jamie Marie Elona

INQUIRER.net

7:41 pm | Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II reiterated Wednesday that police only followed the standard operation when they tried to chase a group of armed men who allegedly sought refuge in the residential compound of Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. on Election Day in Bacoor City, Cavite.

Contrary to Revilla’s claim, Roxas said that there was nothing political on the order for the police to surround the senator’s compound, stressing that the DILG won’t exempt anyone when it comes to enforcement of the law.

“Kung may tumakas na suspek, susundan nila [pulis] ang suspek. Ayon sa batas, kailangang pumayag ang may-ari ng gusali na pumasok [ang mga pulis],” Roxas said, but noted that Revilla didn’t permit officers to enter his home which made start to think why.

“Bakit kaya sila hahanap ng pagsaklolo sa inyo? Tauhan niyo ba itong mga civilian na may dalang high-powered rifles?” Roxas asked.

A group of around 30 armed men allegedly sought refuge in the mansion of the Revilla’s after they were reportedly seen carrying high-powered rifles such as AK47, M16, and M4 on the day of elections.

Since Revilla didn’t allow the authorities to search his house, a standoff ensued prompting the police to apply for a search warrant.

“Habang naga-apply ka ng search warrant, babantayan mo ang isi-search mo para ‘di lumabas ang suspek

“Kahit kaninong bahay po ‘yun…itong mga armadong lalaki, araw ng election mahahabang baril ang hawak, high-powered, walang uniporme . . . ‘di ba trabaho ng pulis na sundan sila? Araw ng eleksyon ito,” Roxas said.

A report quoted Revilla as saying that police applied to at least three judges for a search warrant, but all of them denied the application.

The senator earlier slammed Roxas for his apparent “obsession” with him and his family, saying that the DILG chief is claiming he is not taking things personally, but his actions “show otherwise.”

Sam Miguel
06-04-2013, 08:10 AM
Cops should be charged for frame-up
By Ramon Tulfo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:46 am | Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Director Leonardo Espina, chief of the National Capital Region Command (NCRPO), was stung by the report in this space on Saturday that three San Juan City policemen had arrested and detained a young housewife who committed no crime.

Espina has ordered SPO1 Pablo Selloriquez Jr., PO3 Erich Joel Temporal and PO3 Jayvin Pangilinan disarmed and reassigned to NCRPO headquarters while awaiting administrative charges to be filed against them.

The three barged into the house of Michaela Joy Reyes, a 23-year-old mother of two, in the wee hours of Friday and arrested her purportedly for drug pushing.

Reyes’ neighbors in Barangay Progreso, including its chair, Carmencita Sto. Domingo, have vouched for her innocence, saying no illegal drugs buy-bust ever took place as claimed by the cops.

“She has never been involved in any crime. She’s a law-abiding citizen,” said Sto. Domingo.

Reyes said the three cops also took P13,500 they found on top of her drawer.

The cops produced a sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) they allegedly found on Reyes, but which was apparently planted evidence.

At the time of her arrest, Michaela Joy was naked from the waist up and was only wearing panties.

She claims she was mashed by the cops who tried to bring her to their precinct in her half-naked state.

Relatives and neighbors, however, asked the policemen to allow her to wear decent clothes before taking her in.

Selloriquez, Temporal and Pangilinan were in the neighborhood chasing a suspected robber who reportedly ran inside Reyes’ house and went out through the backdoor.

The suspect is not known to Reyes.

At the police station, the housewife was booked for drug pushing, with the sachet of shabu used as evidence by the three cops.

But on Monday morning, the three policemen filed cases of obstruction of justice, direct assault and physical injuries against Reyes in the San Juan Prosecutor’s Office.

A case for drug pushing, a very serious and nonbailable offense, was not filed for obvious reasons.

Question: Why didn’t the police chief of San Juan, Senior Supt. Bernard Tambaoan, order the woman’s immediate release after he learned that she was just framed by his men after an investigation found her innocent?

The NCRPO chief sent investigators to the Barangay Progreso neighborhood on Friday night after I called his attention to a possible frame-up of an innocent citizen.

Based on the testimony of Reyes’ neighbors, Espina’s probers reported that the young woman was, indeed, the victim of a frame-up.

Another question: Why didn’t the San Juan police file a case against its own men for planting evidence?

Framing innocent citizens on drug charges is punishable by life imprisonment.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2013, 08:25 AM
4 hired killers fall; elusive boss from Army

NBI seizes 100 pistols, finds how assassins mislead probers

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:39 pm | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has busted a gun-for-hire group allegedly led by an active member of the Philippine Army with the arrest of four of its members and the seizure of more than 100 firearms.

But the supposed leader of the group, T/Sgt. Robert Yadao, evaded agents of the NBI Death Investigation Division (DID) who raided his house on Mangga Street in Payatas, Quezon City, at dawn Wednesday. A total of 100 .45-caliber pistols were found inside one of the rooms.

The operation was a follow-up to Tuesday’s raid on the group’s safe house on Kapalaran Street in Commonwealth Avenue which resulted in the arrest of three other members.

They were identified as Gerry Tactacon, 41, a driver; Raquel Layusa, 36, a construction worker and Danilo Galvan, 24, a tricycle driver.

A fourth member was taken into custody earlier, although he was not identified and no details were given about how he was arrested.

NBI-DID head agent Ferdinand M. Lavin said they found out about the group’s activities after one of their targets, Butch Cosme, noticed them monitoring his movements.

This was confirmed by NBI senior agent Zaldy Rivera who said the gang members were caught casing the victim’s house when Cosme checked the footage taken by his closed circuit television camera.

Rivera said a photo of Cosme was found in the group’s safe house, including several firearms, ammunition, tear gas and drug paraphernalia.

On the other hand, seized from Yadao’s two-story house were 100 .45-caliber pistols and ammunition.

Also confiscated was a “a modified .45-caliber pistol converted into an automatic rifle that was at least six times longer than the standard handgun.”

Rivera said the seized firearm was of particular interest to them because it explained why the testimony of witnesses at times differed from the evidence gathered by investigators.

He recalled that the bureau had in the past encountered cases wherein witnesses would identify the weapon used by a suspect as a long firearm. Their testimony, however, would be contrary to the evidence found at the crime scene which would indicate that a short firearm or handgun was used.

He added that because of this, some cases were dismissed although the gunmen had been positively identified by witnesses as the perpetrators.

He described the modified .45-caliber pistol as equipped with a sling and sound suppressor, leading witnesses to conclude that it was a rifle, not a handgun.

“It will mislead any witness because what they will see is a firearm which looks like an automatic rifle, not a handgun based on other evidence recovered like the slugs,” Rivera added.

“Because of the discrepancy in the evidence, the charges are always dismissed because the lawyer would cast doubt on the credibility of the witness,” he said.

According to Rivera, Yadao’s wife told them that he was in Bicol.

Rivera, however, doubted whether this was true, saying that it was likely that the gang leader had spotters who tipped him off about their presence near his house.

“He was able to escape and had no time to gather up the firearms,” he added.

The other gang members, meanwhile, denied the allegation against them after they were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Rivera said they were still validating information that the group’s previous targets were prominent people.

“We have validated that they operate in Metro Manila and Luzon based on the information provided by a member of the group who had earlier been arrested,” he told the Inquirer.

He added that the seized firearms were now being examined by the bureau to determine if these were used in other killings.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2013, 08:48 AM
Guns, guns, guns

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:43 pm | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

The good news is that the government is tightening up on gun ownership, imposing all sorts of restrictions on it.

Republic Act No. 10591, passed last week, begins by recognizing the constitutional right of Filipinos to defend themselves through firearms. But it sets the following criteria for owing them. You must: be a full-fledged citizen, be at least 21 years old, have a gainful occupation or business, have filed your income tax for the preceding year, not have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, have passed a psychiatric test given by a psychologist or psychiatrist accredited by the Philippine National Police, have passed drug testing by an authorized lab or clinic, and have taken a gun safety seminar held by the PNP or a gun club.

The bad news is everything else.

The new law took off from the public clamor for some kind of gun control following the death of a 7-year-old girl from a gunshot wound in the head in Caloocan during the New Year’s Eve revelries. This was swiftly followed by drug-crazed man going on a shooting rampage in Cavite, killing eight, including another 7-year-old girl, and wounding nine, including four children. The public went up in arms demanding to know why guns were finding their way in the hands of the criminally insane. This is the answer to it.

An answer that’s like, well, trying to plug a gaping gunshot wound with tissue paper.

At the very least, the problem is how effective the restrictions will be in preventing guns from ending up in the hands of the loonies. You see what happens in the drug testing that goes on when you get, or renew, your driver’s license. Indeed, you see what happens in the testing for smoke-belching that goes on when you register, or renew the registration of, your vehicle. The flunking rate in those tests is low, aided in no small way by the testers being persuaded to look the other way by an augmentation in their income. It merely adds whole new layers of bureaucratic tape, offering whole new opportunities for graft.

While at this, there’s no small irony in the PNP being in charge of determining the psychological fitness of prospective gun owners. You give a psychiatric test to the ranks of the PNP itself, and you will deplete it epically. Most of them will fail. Or maybe many of them will pass, but only because there’s a certain logic, rationality, rhyme and reason to crime. The cops who massacred the convoy in Atimonan were not entirely out of their minds: They were quite logically, rationally, sanely ridding themselves of the competition in the illegal numbers racket.

More than that, even if you could assure that current and prospective gun owners are of reasonably sound mind and body, what’s to assure that they will remain so throughout the course of their gun ownership? What’s flaky about the progun camp’s claim that gun owners are responsible individuals is that they presume they will be responsible at all times. When this country supplies no end of provocation to test the equanimity or forbearance of anyone, chief of them people who have handguns stashed in their glove compartments or assault rifles in their trunks.

There is such a thing as road rage, which driving conditions in this country constantly and furiously stoke. It may be a temporary or fleeting madness, but all it takes is an instant to gun someone down while in the throes of it. More than that, there’s the proliferation of drugs and alcohol in this country that can induce not-very-temporary fits of madness among those with permits to carry guns.

I’m glad in this respect that the government now proposes to crack down on drunk driving. Quite apart from the danger in road accidents that drunk drivers pose to pedestrians and other motorists, there’s the added danger of the mayhem they pose to the public when carrying guns in their cars. Drinking is the national pastime, as the plenitude of beerhouses along with guns attests to. It’s not just that drinking and driving don’t mix, it’s that drinking and carrying guns don’t mix. Drinking lessens inhibition, the inhibition to shoot people who’ve stepped on their toes, real or imagined, among them.

That brings me to the startling thing in the law, which is the number of professionals that can apply for a permit to carry guns. They include lawyers or members of the Philippine Bar, CPAs, media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, priests, ministers, imams, doctors, nurses, engineers, and businessmen. These are people presumed to be in positions of great risk, which justifies their carrying guns. This is worse than before. As friends of mine tell me, the only people now who may not tote guns are the magsasaka.

It’s madness. Even if you grant that carrying guns allows one to protect oneself—which it does not, it merely allows criminals and rebels to add to their arsenal by lifting those arms from them—who will protect us from them? The presumption that they are potential victims may be true, but the presumption that they are potential oppressors is even truer. You arm them, and arm them heavily, and the truth of the first will recede before the march of the second.

You arm media people, for one, and they will not naturally become less of an endangered species, they will more naturally make their enemies so. You arm the hao-siao journalists in particular, and they are going to get bolder and more corrupt.

The point is to stop the proliferation of arms, which has become alarming. Currently, there are 2.83 million registered and unregistered guns in the hands of civilians alone, costing a staggering P56.6 billion. For a poor country that lacks food, that lacks clinics, and that lacks classrooms, that is mindless, that is criminal. The point is to have education, education and education.

Not guns, guns, guns.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2013, 08:49 AM
^^^ I'd rather keep my gun handy just in case one of those criminals threatens me, Conrad, thank you. If you don't want a gun that's fine. I'll send a nice bouquet to your wake when somebody shoots you and you had nothing with which to fight back.

Sam Miguel
06-18-2013, 09:03 AM
Court orders woman freed after 5 years without charges

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:12 am | Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The Court of Appeals has directed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the incarceration of a woman for five years without charges, a situation that it says is similar to that of detainees in the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

In a decision handed down on June 11, the Court of Appeals’ Seventh Division dismissed the drug charges government prosecutors brought against Joanne Urbina only last month and ordered her released.

Urbina was arrested on drug charges in December 2007, but, for reasons not clear to the court, state prosecutors failed to bring charges against her until May 9, way beyond the 24-hour period prescribed by law and the 30-day period prescribed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) within which an automatic review of cases should be resolved, the court said.

“More than five years of detention, without a valid information filed in court, is unreasonable; it is intolerable; it is shockingly unimaginable,” the court said in the decision written by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, chairman of the Seventh Division.

The court said what Urbina had gone through “smacks of persecution rather than prosecution and pierces through the very essence of fairness and justice.”

“It conjures up images of Guantanamo Bay detainees who have never been allowed a speedy and fair trial, a civil right granted to all by the Constitution,” the court said.

Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a United States military holding and interrogation center within Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.

For terrorists

Also known as Camp Wire and Gitmo, after GTMO, the military abbreviation for Guantanamo Naval Base, the detention camp was established in 2002 by the administration of US President George W. Bush to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely without charges.

But Urbina’s case involves illegal drugs and detaining her without charges for five years is an incredible violation of the law.

“We find it necessary to direct [Justice Secretary De Lima] to conduct an investigation on the underlying circumstances [that] caused the five-year delay in the filing of the questioned information and to furnish this court with the result of the investigation immediately upon its completion,” the court said.

The court granted Urbina’s petition for certiorari and habeas corpus, which stemmed from her alleged arbitrary detention at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

It also voided the drug information brought against Urbina only on May 9 “for having been filed way beyond the period prescribed under the pertinent rules of the Department of Justice and for being violative of petitioner’s constitutional right to a speedy disposition of her case and due process of law.”

And the court ordered Urbina released, unless she was detained for other lawful causes.

Drug case

Urbina and one Ben Chua were arrested during a police raid on their home in Quezon City on Dec. 14, 2007. Police found in the house what they said tested later as methamphetamines and marijuana.

The two were taken to the PNP custodial center in Camp Crame and subjected to an inquest the next day, after which they asked for a preliminary investigation.

On Jan. 25, 2008, the DOJ dropped the case against Chua for insufficiency of evidence but upheld Urbina’s indictment for violation of the illegal drugs law.

She remained detained, as the law does not allow bail in drug cases.

In September 2011, Urbina filed a petition for habeas corpus in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, questioning the legality of her prolonged incarceration without any information filed against her.

But the trial court denied her petition, saying that she had executed a waiver of her detention when she agreed to a preliminary investigation.

The trial court denied her subsequent motion for reconsideration.

On April 2, Urbina sought relief from the Court of Appeals, this time questioning whether the government had violated her constitutional right to a speedy trial, among other rights.

In her petition, she said she had been languishing in jail for five years and two months without the benefit of a trial.

She filed the petition against De Lima, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano and Assistant City Prosecutors Alfredo Agcaoili and Wilfredo Andres of Quezon City.

Right violated

The appellate court took her side, saying a “careful scrutiny of the evidence on record” showed that Urbina’s constitutional right to a speedy disposition of her case was “indeed violated.”

The court said that after it held hearings on May 9 and 10 in response to Urbina’s petition, the respondents filed an information against her on May 9 in the Quezon City court, based on the May 8 resolution of the DOJ affirming the Jan. 25, 2008, resolution of the assistant city prosecutor of Quezon City.

Urbina then sought to restrain the filing of an information against her and the appellate court granted her petition on May 17.

Sam Miguel
06-25-2013, 08:46 AM
Sellout? Kin of 14 Maguindanao massacre victims ask for P50M to settle case

By Jeanette I. Andrade, Niña P. Calleja

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:17 am | Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Relatives of 14 victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre nearly dropped the murder charges they had brought against members of the Ampatuan clan because of the slowness of the government in compensating them, lawyer Harry Roque said on Monday.

Roque, chairman of the Center for International Law and lawyer for some of the relatives of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre, wrote in his blog that the government’s failure to pay compensation to the families of the victims, whose right to life it had failed to protect and promote, had made the relatives consider settling with the Ampatuans.

“Fifty million. That was the demand of my clients who are willing to settle,” Roque said in a telephone interview with the Inquirer.

In his blog, Roque said his clients signed a “written authority” sometime in February for a third party close to the Ampatuans to negotiate a settlement.

Negotiator killed

But the negotiations for a settlement fell through because the negotiator for the relatives was killed two weeks after the signing of the authorization, Roque said in the phone interview.

“Under this scheme, the [relatives] were to sign not just a waiver and quit claims, but also an affidavit [in which they would pin] the blame for the massacre on [Maguindanao Gov. Esmail] ‘Toto’ Mangudadatu,” Roque said.

He said it was learning about his clients’ attempt to settle that prompted him to seek redress in the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC).

“On the occasion of the 43rd-month commemoration of the [Maguindanao] massacre, [the victims’ families] will resort to a filing of a communication with the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the Philippine government’s failure to accord the victims their rights to an adequate remedy under domestic law and compensation,” Roque wrote in his blog.

Roque cited two cases—the death of Philippine Navy Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño and the killing of Eden Marcella—in which the UNHRC had declared the Philippine government owed the victims.

No end in sight

“It’s been almost four years and there is still no end in sight to the criminal prosecution of the Ampatuans,” Roque said.

He noted that it took the government almost four years to file the information for the 58th victim, journalist Reynaldo Momay.

“This should give us a clue to how long the criminal proceedings will take,” Roque said.

Close to 200 people, among them Andal Ampatuan Sr., former governor of Maguindanao province, are being tried for the killing of 58 people, 32 of them journalists, on Nov. 23, 2009.

Two of Ampatuan’s sons—Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan—are among the accused.

The killings were allegedly carried out to stop Mangudadatu from contesting the 2010 gubernatorial election in Maguindanao.

Criminal aspect

Mangudadatu, who won the election, lost his wife and several relatives in the massacre, the worst case of political violence in Philippine election history.

Hearing about the failed negotiations for a settlement Monday, Mangudadatu said he hoped the “criminal aspect of the case would not be affected.”

“I have not spoken to Attorney Roque. Assuming it’s true, on our part nothing has changed, because I have not lost hope. We will continue seeking justice,” Mangudadatu told the Inquirer by phone.

Roque said that had it proceeded, the settlement would clear the Ampatuans of only their civil liabilities.

“But the accused want the relatives to execute an affidavit saying that Governor Mangudadatu was to blame for the massacre. So in that way they want the criminal lialibity to be passed on to Mangudadatu,” he said.

How Mangudadatu could be held criminally liable for the massacre in which he lost his wife and some relatives, Roque said he did not know.

He said he had plans of going to Maguindanao to gather more information on the supposed settlement and what happened to the negotiator.

Government duty

But one thing is clear to him. “The 14 relatives are willing to enter into a settlement,” he said.

“Unless the Philippine government complies with its duty to pay compensation, the victims will continuously be tempted with schemes that may eventually cause a miscarriage of justice,” Roque said.

He said the government’s duty to compensate the victims of the massacre is different from civil damages in court.

“Compensation is due to the victims because the state breached its obligation to protect and promote their right to live. This includes not just monetary compensation, but also all that may be required to restore the emotional and psychological well-being of the victims,” Roque said.

Sam Miguel
06-26-2013, 01:40 PM
37 CebuPac passengers seek P1M each in damages for Davao mishap

By Louis Bacani

(philstar.com) | Updated June 26, 2013 - 12:51pm

MANILA, Philippines - Thirty-seven passengers of the Cebu Pacific aircraft that skidded off the runway of the Davao International Airport are seeking P1 million each in damages for the mishap earlier this month

Lawyer Robert De Leon, legal counsel of the 37 members of the Flight 5J 971 Crash Victims Association,Inc., said they have sent a formal demand letter to the airline seeking the P1 million compensation for each of the 37 passengers.

"The concern of the Association is their claim for compensation for the emotional distress and the trauma that they have experienced," De Leon said in a television interview on Wednesday.

He said they expect a response within three weeks and they would go to court if the reply is unfavorable.

De Leon said as far as he knows, the 37 of the 165 passengers of the ill-fated plane are those who are interested to pursue the case against the airline.

"Some passengers may have their own course of action against Cebu Pacific," the lawyer said.

On the evening of June 2, the ill-fated Airbus A-320 plane, which was from Manila, had just touched down at the Davao International Airport when it veered off the centerline of the runway and nose-dived into a ditch.

The plane was stalled in the airport's runway for two days, disrupting flight schedules and causing an estimated loss of about P250 million in the local economy.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Tuesday suspended the two pilots of the Cebu Pacific flight after pilot error was blamed for the airport mishap.

Capt. John Andrews, CAAP deputy director general, said Capt. Ruel Oropesa was suspended for six months while his first officer Edwin Perello was suspended for three months.

The two pilots failed to declare emergency in accordance with civil air regulations relating to evacuation of passengers during the ensuing emergency, according to CAAP.

The agency, however, did not sanction Cebu Pacific over the incident.

Asked for his clients' reaction on CAAP's decision, De Leon said: "Actually, the victims would have wanted Cebu Pacific's operations to be suspended just like what the government did with the other shipping companies who had the same incident."

In a statement, Cebu Pacific said they will comply with all CAAP's recommendations, including a reassessment of the airline's executives and station managers.

"Safety has always been the highest priority for Cebu Pacific. We aim to provide the safest airline service possible for the millions of passengers who travel with us every year," said the Gokongwei-led company.

Sam Miguel
06-27-2013, 10:31 AM
Meet the accused, Antonio Villafuerte

(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The labor official tagged in the sex-for-repatriation scandal by three alleged victims has no previous record of infraction as a bureaucrat.

But now, assistant labor attaché in Riyadh Antonio Villafuerte may face dismissal from government service – and possibly a long prison term – after he was accused of sexually abusing three distressed Filipina workers who had sought his assistance while taking shelter at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Villafuerte has denied the charges.

Based on information provided by the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, the 49-year-old Villafuerte hails from Tabuk, Kalinga province, is married and has three children residing in Sampaloc, Manila.

Before his stint in Riyadh, Villafuerte held posts at the labor department’s National Conciliation and Mediation Board. He also served as administrative assistant at the POLO in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Villafuerte obtained his law degree from the University of the East and took up masters in government management at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in 2009.

Three Filipina workers – identified only as Michelle, Annaliza and Angel – surfaced recently to accuse Villafuerte of subjecting them to various types of sexual abuse in exchange for repatriation to the Philippines.

They said they had approached Villafuerte after escaping from their abusive employers.

Sam Miguel
06-28-2013, 08:48 AM
From Inquirer.net - - -

Man berated by cop at mall urged to file raps

7:43 pm | Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

The Facebook page of Baste Santos who shares the harrowing experience of his father. He also posted the photograph of Police Officer 2 Brian Geollegue.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) urged a man on Wednesday to file formal charges against a police escort of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II who allegedly embarrassed his father in a mall in Cainta, Rizal.

Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP public information office chief, said Police Officer 2 Brian Geollegue of the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) had been ordered to report back to Camp Crame after a Facebook user accused him of castigating his father inside the Sta. Lucia East shopping center.

Superintendent Elizabeth Velasquez, HPG spokesperson, said Geollegue had been administratively relieved from his post pending investigation of the incident.

“He was also given 10 days to explain his side on the accusation against him,” Velasquez said.

The Facebook user, who identified himself only as Baste Santos, shared the harrowing experience of his father on the famous social networking site and posted Geollegue’s photograph.

“The PNP and the office of Secretary Roxas will not condone acts like this, which is unbecoming of a police officer (if it indeed happened),” Sindac told reporters.

He admitted that the PNP leadership was prompted to act on Santos’ post after it had gone viral on Facebook.

As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Santos’ story was shared by 29,713 Facebook users.

Sindac, however, said they could not pursue a case against Geollegue if Santos would not come forward and file formal complaint against the police officer.

“It’s only the father or his son could file charges against (Geollegue) because they are the ones who accused our personnel of wrongdoing,” he said.

In his post, Santos said his father was walking inside the mall last June 20 when he accidentally bumped Geollegue, who was then in his police uniform.

Santos claimed the policeman scolded his father and told him in a loud voice, “Wag kang tatanga-tanga!” (Don’t be stupid. Watch your step!)

“My father was embarrassed as the incident was witnessed by several people,” he said in Filipino.

He said the policeman was a member of the HPG who left the mall aboard motorcycle with plate number SL 6486 and body number C1605. He said the police officer also wore a helmet with number 127939.

Upon checking the information that Santos provided in his post, Sindac said the PNP was able to identify the policeman as Geollegue.

“As a law enforcer, he apparently forgot (his duty) to protect the people. He was braggart, disrespectful and arrogant!” Santos said.

Geollegue appeared at the HPG headquarters on Wednesday and vehemently denied that he insulted Santos’ father.

He said he briefly entered the mall to use the men’s room and take shelter as it was raining hard at the time.

While he admitted that a man had accidentally hit him, he said the man was “apologetic maybe because he saw me in uniform.”

“I beg for your forgiveness. Please don’t think that the whole police organization is bad,” Geollegue said.

Sam Miguel
07-03-2013, 08:49 AM
Cops now fully armed: Amulets, prayers, Glocks

By TJ A. Burgonio, Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:51 am | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

After assuming office in June 2010, President Aquino said he made a startling discovery: Nearly 50 percent of the PNP had no service firearms.

“That means half of your ranks perhaps relied on amulets or prayed you’d be bulletproof, or thought you could talk your way out of a firefight,” he told a large crowd of policemen.

Nothing wrong with saying a few prayers while you chase an armed criminal down the street—but maybe it’s also time you stop wearing amulets.

Like most European and American law enforcers, nearly half of the country’s 148,000 policemen will soon be carrying Glock 17 pistols—the kind of weapon used by British troops in Afghanistan—as they patrol the streets.

In ceremonies at the Philippine National Police Multipurpose Hall, Aquino on Tuesday distributed the first batch of Glock guns to policemen who have no service firearms and could be relying on amulets or prayers to dodge bullets.

Initially, 22,603 units of the Glock 17 Generation 4 safe-action 9mm pistols are to be distributed to the PNP. Altogether, 74,879 Glock guns are planned for distribution.

Remembering Robredo

In essence, the government was putting so much responsibility on policemen to maintain law and order in a country of 95 million Filipinos, yet cared little about their welfare, Aquino said.

Aquino handed over the pistols to 21 policemen from different units around the country in a ceremonial distribution witnessed by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and PNP Director General Alan Purisima.

“Indeed this is a significant day for national security… It won’t be long before we provide the total 74,879 guns for the police force,” the President said. “At this positive pace, we’re close to reaching our target of 1:1 police-to-pistol ratio.”

Aquino said no one could have been happier than the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who worked hard for the gun distribution program before he died in a plane crash last August.

The Glock 17 pistol is the service firearm used by 60 percent of police forces and law enforcement agencies in Europe, the United States and Asia. They are light, easy to carry and easy to maintain, police officials said.

UK troops in Afghanistan were issued the same Glock 17 Gen 4 pistols in January for their personal protection and as a second armament in case their SA80 rifle fails.

The Glock 17 weighs 905 grams when loaded and comes with a magazine with 17 bullets, according to a Bloomberg report.

It is used by the Swedish and Norwegian militaries and Swiss Army special forces. At least 65 percent of law enforcers in the United States, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration, also use it, the same report said.

Arbo and Moncatar

Aquino said the PNP received a P1.198-billion budget for the acquisition of the Glock pistols but saved P200 million, which was used to acquire 12,000 to 15,000 other weapons.

In his speech, Aquino cited Police Officers 2 Edlyn Arbo and Felipe Moncatar, both of whom fought off criminals without a service firearm. He directed Roxas and Purisima to promote them.

Arbo chased a hold-up man who had robbed jeepney passengers, and ended up injured. Moncatar collared “most wanted” persons and members of crime syndicates in Bacolod City.

“The whole country salutes your courage and commitment,” Aquino said.

Far from ideal

Aquino cited the PNP’s gains, such as the drop in crime volume from 2010 to 2012—a nearly 40-percent drop in car theft cases, a 73-percent decrease in kidnap for ransom cases and a 63-percent reduction in the number of private armed groups, among others.

But given that the current 1:1,500 ratio of policemen to population is far from the ideal of 1:500, the President allotted P9 billion for the PNP Transformation Plan from 2013 to 2016.

The plan’s main feature is the hiring of 15,000 non-uniformed personnel every year for administrative jobs, and allowing policemen to go out of precincts to beef up the security in communities, Aquino said.

The government’s purchase of M-4 rifles for field patrol is now sealed, he also said.

No room for bullies

“With these reforms, I expect our law enforcers to be at the forefront of combating crime and transactionalism. There’s no room in our force for bullies in the streets, or patrons of bad elements,” he said.

“To those who don’t shape up, I assure you you’d end up in prison which we’re expanding,” he said.

Roxas told reporters the President had approved the allocation of P9 billion for the procurement of high-powered firearms and other equipment.

He said the police would immediately start the public bidding for P800 million worth of M-4 assault rifles and 2,500 police vehicles.

Biggest PNP project

Considered the biggest procurement project in PNP history, Roxas said the acquisition of the Glock pistols would end the shortage of short firearms for the 148,000-strong police force.

“The purchase of the Glock pistols is part of the government’s effort to standardize the procedures in the issuance of service firearms to all PNP uniformed personnel,” Roxas said. “Our goal is to achieve a ratio of one gun to one police officer.”

Police officers located in highly urbanized cities and tourist destinations will be prioritized in the distribution of the firearms, Roxas said.

“These are the places which have the highest percentage of crimes,” he said.

15,000 civilians

Roxas said Aquino had also approved the PNP plan to hire 15,000 civilian employees to replace policemen assigned to administrative functions. At present, about 60,000 uniformed PNP personnel are carrying out office work, he said.

“Our police-to-population ratio is one of the lowest in the world,” he said.

Roxas said relieving policemen of their administrative duties would help the PNP field more armed personnel for patrol and security operations.

“By doing this, we can immediately add police presence in our communities,” he stressed.

Roxas said the PNP would also buy 40,000 handheld radios.

“The patrol vehicles and radios will be distributed nationwide so that our PNP officers will be more mobile and coordinated in running after criminals and maintaining peace and order in their respective areas of jurisdiction,” he said.

Sam Miguel
07-04-2013, 10:06 AM
SC stops Garcia plea bargain deal

High court also blocks approval of bail petition

By Christine O. Avendaño

INQUIRER.net

12:32 am | Thursday, July 4th, 2013

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped the proceedings in the Sandiganbayan against retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia that resulted from a plea bargain hammered out in February 2010 with then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez downgrading plunder charges to lesser offenses.

The former comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is being tried for direct bribery and facilitating money laundering after the government dropped the P303-million plunder charges that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the tribunal’s Third Division, in issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO), acted on the certiorari petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against the Sandiganbayan Special Second Division as well as the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Special Prosecutor and Garcia.

The Sandiganbayan division has not set a date yet for Garcia’s sentencing on the lesser charges under the deal that allowed Garcia, his wife, Clarita, and sons Ian Carl, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark to walk away from the plunder charges.

Direct bribery is punishable by six to 10 years in jail, money laundering from seven to 14 years’ imprisonment.

“Without giving due course to the petition, the court required the respondents to comment on the petition within 10 days from notice and in order not to render the instant petition moot and academic, issued a TRO effective immediately enjoining the respondent Sandiganbayan from continuing with the proceedings … and promulgating judgment based on the assailed plea bargaining agreement,” Te told a news briefing.

He also said the court also stopped the Sandiganbayan from implementing the Dec. 16, 2010, resolution approving Garcia’s request for bail.

The OSG, on orders of President Aquino, went to the Supreme Court after the Sandiganbayan denied the government lawyers’ bid to intervene in the proceedings and turned down their subsequent motion for reconsideration.

The plea bargain forced Gutierrez to resign in May 2011 before the Senate could start her impeachment trial for betrayal of public trust.

Gutierrez, who was appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was impeached by the House of Representatives for approving the Garcia plea bargain.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima welcomed the high court’s action. “That’s a very good sign the Supreme Court would be able to take a really hard look at the issues and study the very significant issues raised in the petition of the OSG,” she said.

In April, Malacañang announced that it was determined to fight a Sandiganbayan ruling that affirmed the plea bargain between Ombudsman Gutierrez and Garcia.

Under the agreement, Garcia pleaded guilty in 2010 to the lesser crimes of indirect bribery and money laundering in lieu of plunder, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment. He was allowed to post bail. His family was cleared of involvement in the cases.

Garcia also agreed to transfer to the government assets worth P135 million. In December 2010, he was released after posting P60,000 bail.

Following the deal, Garcia, who was arrested in June 2005 after plunder charges were filed against him in the Sandiganbayan, was released.

In September 2011, on President Aquino’s order, Garcia was arrested and sent to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City to serve two years in prison. Six weeks later, he became a lay minister of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 2005, a military court found Garcia guilty of violations of Articles of War 96 and 97 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline). He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment at hard labor and dismissed dishonorably from the service, thus forfeiting his retirement benefits.

In April 2005, the Ombudsman charged Garcia, his wife and three children in connection with a P303-million plunder case for illegal accumulation of wealth. The case stemmed from an investigation by the AFP and the Ombudsman following the December 2003 detention of Garcia’s three sons at San Francisco International Airport, for not declaring they were carrying $100,000 in cash.

Investigation showed that Garcia, whose monthly income was P36,015, had not declared P143 million worth of assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for a number of years. The Ombudsman suspended him for six months, and petitioned the antigraft court for the forfeiture of his assets. Garcia was confined to quarters and ordered to be tried by court-martial.

40 bank accounts

The Court of Appeals later froze 40 bank accounts belonging to Garcia and his family. The US government also froze Garcia’s real estate holdings in New York and Ohio.

In November 2004, the Ombudsman filed four counts of perjury against him in connection with the SALN he filed from 1997 to 2000.—With reports from Inquirer Research and Tetch Torres-Tupas, INQUIRER.net

Sam Miguel
07-11-2013, 08:27 AM
Palace not biting: PNPA, PMA grads as fried chicken, crispy ‘pata’

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:10 am | Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The “greasy” proposition of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Association to let graduates of the country’s foremost military school join the police force does not appear palatable to Malacañang.

President Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, quickly shot down the idea.

Lacierda took to task Reuben Theodore Sindac, Philippine National Police spokesman, for his public pronouncement on Monday likening PNP Academy graduates to “fried chicken” and PMA graduates to crispy “pata” (pig knuckles) to point out that these officers should go together.

Lacierda reminded Sindac that the Constitution clearly states that the police force is civilian in character, and should remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Sindac has apparently backtracked, telling Lacierda that “he was just laying down the options, but he has never (endorsed the reentry of military into the police force).”

Recalling his conversation with Sindac, Lacierda said at a briefing on Wednesday: “I asked him categorically: ‘Did you make a statement to the effect that you want the military back in the PNP?’ He didn’t say that categorically. He categorically said he never advocated that position… and neither do we; we have not seen any stand to that effect.”

Sindac told Lacierda that he did not make “any stand or opinion on that issue,” but “only presented the options that were submitted for study to them and their possible effects.”

PMA alumni proposal

But Sindac told an earlier news briefing that the proposal made by the PMA Alumni Association had prompted the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development to create a technical working group to study the reentry of PMA graduates into the PNP.

Lacierda clarified that neither the Palace nor the PNP leadership had made a stand on the proposal.

“The PNP, so far, has no stand on the return of the military or the PMA graduates into the PNP because, if you notice, in the general provision of the Constitution, there will be one police (unit), Philippine National Police, (with) civilian in character. That’s what the Constitution says,” Lacierda said.

He emphasized that the idea was not being talked about within the policy circle of the Cabinet.

“There was no categorical statement from the PNP and we have not seen that option. The only time we saw that was in the newspaper, in Inquirer (Tuesday). That’s why I had to ask the person who allegedly made that statement and he categorically said he never advocated that position,” said Lacierda.

Civilian in character

The demilitarization of the police force is a legacy of the first Aquino presidency in response to abuses and other human rights violations committed by the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police during martial law.

In 1991, then President Corazon Aquino signed Republic Act No. 6975 creating the PNP that is distinct from the Armed Forces of the Philippines since the newly minted police organization will be national in scope but civilian in character.

The law was fully implemented the following year, with the PMA Tanglaw-Diwa Class of 1992 becoming the last batch of military graduates entering the PNP.

But the last PMA graduate to bow out of police service will not happen until 2026, when this batch reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.

The PNP Academy was established to train future police officers for “public safety”—ensuring local peace and order, and doing law enforcement work.

The PNP Academy is tasked with undertaking preparatory education and professional training for the three uniformed bureaus of the Department of the Interior and Local Government: the PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

RA 6975 made the academy into a premier institution for the training, human resource development and continuing education of all police, fire and jail personnel.

Internal, external threats

PNPA graduates are trained to be “public safety” officers, working closely with communities, while PMA graduates are entrusted with the heavy burden of defending flag and country against internal and external threats.

The PNP Academy has produced thus far at least four (one-star) generals belonging to Class of 1983 in a police organization that is still dominated by PMA alumni.

Entering the police force seems palatable to the PMA because

PNPA cadets become inspectors (lieutenant) upon completion of a four-year Bachelor of Science in Public Safety degree.

One rank ahead

The new inspectors are one rank ahead of their PMA counterparts, who become second lieutenants upon graduation and are expected to join the fighting against insurgents and secessionist rebels.

While there has been a notable decline in the number of applicants for PMA cadetship over the years, the PNPA has attracted as many as 30,000 applicants per year.

Only 300 police applicants will eventually qualify, but this number is expected to go down further to 200 as the “mortality rate” reaches 100 for the duration of the four-year course.

Several PNP officers claim that this could have been one of the reasons PMA graduates have been pushing for the reentry of military-trained officers into the police force.

In the past, the PMA was able to recruit the best and the brightest high school senior students because of the prospect of joining either the military or police service before the enactment of RA 6975.

There are 95 star-rank officers in the PNP. Of these officials, 10 are PNPA alumni, one is a military reservist and two entered the PNP via lateral entry (technical services). The rest—82 chief superintendents and directors (equivalent to generals in the military)—are PMA graduates.

Only one PNPA graduate has reached two-star rank in the PNP, Police Director Danilo Abarsoza, who retired last December.

The PNPA, however, has the upper hand in the lower ranks: only 390 are PMA graduates compared with 3,890 from the PNPA.

Sam Miguel
07-12-2013, 09:42 AM
NBI probes P10-B scam

Pork, gov’t funds used in ghost projects

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:01 am | Friday, July 12th, 2013

(First of a series)

The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations that the government has been defrauded of some P10 billion over the past 10 years by a syndicate using funds from the pork barrel of lawmakers and various government agencies for scores of ghost projects.

Described by an NBI investigator as the “mother of all scams,” the con game came to light in March following the kidnapping—and subsequent rescue—of an employee of a trading company, JLN Corp., which was purportedly behind the scheme, according to sworn affidavits and interviews conducted by the Inquirer.

JLN stands for Janet Lim Napoles, who has been identified as the alleged brains behind the racket. She runs the company with her brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim.

The sworn affidavits—prepared by six whistle-blowers with the assistance of their lawyer, Levito Baligod, and submitted to the NBI—stated that JLN Corp., with offices on the 25th floor of Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center in Pasig City, had defrauded the government of billions of pesos in ghost projects involving the creation of at least 20 bogus nongovernment organizations. These NGOs were supposedly the ultimate recipients of the state funds, but the money went to Napoles, according to the affidavits of the six whistle-blowers.

All six were interviewed by the Inquirer, which also secured copies of their sworn statements. The extent of the swindling brought tears to one NBI agent in an interview.

The kidnap victim, Benhur K. Luy, the principal witness to the scam, was rescued by a special task force headed by Rolando Argabioso, assistant NBI regional director, on March 22 from a condominium unit in the South Wings Gardens of Pacific Plaza Tower in Bonifacio Global City.

Kidnapping charges were brought by the NBI against Napoles and Lim, but these were subsequently dropped purportedly for “lack of probable cause.” Lim was arrested and briefly detained. Napoles issued an affidavit denying involvement in the abduction.

Since then, the 31-year-old Luy, Napoles’ cousin and personal assistant in JLN Corp., has executed affidavits detailing his abduction and the reasons why he was kidnapped. In one signed statement, he said he was accused by Napoles of striking out on his own concocting illegal deals, without her knowledge, copying schemes from his cousin’s operations.

Five others who had worked in JLN Corp. have come out to corroborate the account of Luy, detailing the activities of Napoles. One of them was a project coordinator and another was a nanny who was made president of a dummy NGO. The rest were clerks and support staff.

Joc-joc scam probe

The 49-year-old Napoles was summoned to the investigation conducted in 2008 by the Senate blue ribbon committee on the P728-million fertilizer scandal involving then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante. She then testified she had used dummy companies in that scheme but no charges have so far been brought against her in connection with that case.

The sources of funding for the supposed projects, ostensibly meant largely to benefit poor farmers through provisions of fertilizers and farm equipment and implements, came from the priority development assistance funds (PDAF), or pork barrel, of three senators and 11 members of the House of Representatives.

Also tapped by the syndicate were the Malampaya oil fund and allocations by the Department of Budget and Management for the Technology Resource Corp. (formerly the Technology and Livelihood Resource Corp.), National Livelihood Development Corp. and National Agri-Business Corp., Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform.

Lawmakers’ commissions

The whistle-blowers said JLN Corp. was able to carry on the swindle through Napoles’ vast network and connections.

“JLN offered to lawmakers commissions equivalent to 40 to 60 percent of the amount of PDAF in exchange for the right to determine the implementing agency and fund beneficiary,” according to Luy.

“Apart from senators and congressmen, Madame Janet has also connections in almost all branches of government, friends in the right places, and lawyers who do her bidding,” he told the Inquirer in an interview.

Luy, who has a ready smile and sports a white side wall haircut, said he began working for his cousins in September 2002. Over the past decade, he said he had gained intimate knowledge of their operations, how they manufactured receipts, forged signatures of local government officials, fabricated names of beneficiaries of the state funds.

He said he had planned to put up his own business and establish his own network similar to his cousins’. But before he could go on his own, Napoles learned of his plan and locked him up first in the JLN office on Dec. 19, 2012, before he was later taken to the condominium.

The NBI team rescued Luy on the evening of March 22 on orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas following a complaint for abduction lodged by Baligod in the Department of Justice.

Money in bathtub

In his letter to De Lima, Baligod stated that Luy was detained by the siblings “to ensure that nobody can directly implicate them with the issues on the fertilizer scam, Malampaya scam and anomalies in the implementation of several PDAF-funded projects.”

In his sworn affidavit to the NBI, Luy said he opened accounts in various banks, including the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loans Association, and deposited and withdrew money for Napoles.

“The accounts and transactions were in the tens of millions of pesos and all of these were remitted to Madame Janet,” Luy told the Inquirer.

He said that cash withdrawn from the banks were placed in luggage strollers and duffel bags and taken to Napoles in her office or her condominium unit in 18-B North Tower of Pacific Plaza in Taguig City

“These bags were piled in the master bedroom and in the bathtub of her bathroom,” he said.

(Part 2 on Saturday: Napoles’ denials)

Sam Miguel
07-12-2013, 09:43 AM
Ex-PNP chief, 22 others face raps

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:51 am | Friday, July 12th, 2013

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has filed criminal charges in the Sandiganbayan against former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Avelino Razon Jr. and 22 former and incumbent police officers and private contractors for an allegedly anomalous contract to repair and maintain 28 V-150 light armored vehicles (LAV) in 2007.

In a 68-page order, Morales denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Razon and the other respondents nearly seven months after she issued a resolution finding probable cause to indict them for the allegedly anomalous repairs made during the Arroyo administration.

In a statement, Morales said, “The insistence of some of the respondent police officers that they just relied on the reports or actions of their subordinates and were misled could not be given credence. Their subordinates, some of whom were civilians or nonuniformed personnel, would not dare mislead the officers who, aside from having moral ascendancy over them, were presumed to have experience and expertise in crime investigation and detection.”

Sam Miguel
07-12-2013, 09:52 AM
Cavalier

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:31 pm | Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The Philippine National Police spokesperson appeared to live up to his name the other day, shocking the public with provocative, even cavalier, remarks. But perhaps Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac was merely giving voice to a sentiment shared by some, if not many, graduates of the Philippine Military Academy: that they should retain control of the PNP.

From reports, Sindac did it in unusual fashion. He likened both the PMA, the country’s traditional source of military leaders, and the Philippine National Police Academy or PNPA, the relatively new institution training the next generation of leaders for the police, to popular dishes, and expressed the deceptively simple hope that, maybe, variety was the spice of PNP life.

“We should define the PMA as a leadership school [that] develops leaders,” he was quoted as saying. “The PNP would like to avail itself of the leaders being produced by the PMA.” Sounds innocent enough. “The PNPA is also a leadership school, but maybe it’s not enough. We want to have a variety of [officers’ schools] … so it will not be all fried chicken. We will also have crispy pata (deep-fried pork hock).”

Now that sounds positively tempting.

But it is a temptation to be resisted. The 1987 Constitution explicitly calls for the creation of a police force that is “national in scope and civilian in character.” Like many other constitutional innovations, the civilian character of the PNP is a direct response to the abuses and excesses of the Marcos years.

The militarization of Philippine society that martial law made possible included the police among its first targets; the result was the assimilation of what was called the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police into the Armed Forces. That integration hastened the transformation of the PC-INP into one of the most brutal instruments of military rule, and forever confused the imperatives of law enforcement with the insidious, often manufactured demands of “national security.”

It is utterly dismaying to hear the PNP spokesperson articulate a viewpoint steeped—or stewed, to extend his food metaphor—in that unfortunate confusion.

Sindac, himself a PMA graduate, also referenced the Local Government Code of 1991 as a possible obstacle to his crispy-pata fantasy. It disallows the hiring of PMA alumni for law enforcement positions. But that landmark law traces its bracing sense of precaution to the Constitution, and to the same martial-law trauma that shaped the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. How strange that Sindac mentions the Local Government Code, but not the Constitution. Don’t PMA cadets study the basic law of the land?

But there is more to the controversy than merely the unsettling spectacle of a spokesperson putting his boot in his mouth.

A letter written to the chief of the Philippine National Police and to the chief of staff of the Armed Forces (as it happens, both PMA graduates or “cavaliers,” in the romantic language of the military academy), explained an initiative by PMA alumni to propose the assignment of PMA graduates to the PNP in sharp, even chilling, terms.

“Its intention is to keep the PMA breed in control—both of the AFP and especially the PNP, which has a fading number of cavaliers,” wrote Rameses Victorious Villagonzalo, the legal counsel of PMA Cebu Squad Inc.

Sindac has since distanced himself and the PNP leadership from Villagonzalo’s extreme position, saying it “did not necessarily” represent their views. (He has also written a letter to the editor, printed in this issue, saying “the proposition of readmitting PMA graduates into the PNP” was still under study. Next time, however, he should avail himself of more resolute language.)

But is there a real difference between the view that the PNP, despite the PNPA’s two decades of existence, still needs the services of the PMA, and the view that “the PMA breed” must retain control of the second largest government agency? Language and food metaphors aside, they are both confused, shockingly, about the true role of the police.

Not national security, carried out by soldiers, but law enforcement, upheld by civilian police.

Sam Miguel
07-12-2013, 09:55 AM
And as if on cue, the great Sindac backtracks as if siya ang nasindak...

PMA grads in PNP? Still an ‘option’ being studied

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:15 pm | Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Allow me to clarify a news report with the head “PNP is fried chicken; PMA is crispy pata” (News, 7/9/13).

While the report was well written, I must say it was edited in such a manner that it did not present the complete picture, thus making it appear that this representation or the Philippine National Police itself had taken a stand on the issue and had positively favored the proposition of readmitting Philippine Military Academy graduates into the PNP.

For the record, it was expressly emphasized during the press briefing that the matter remains an “option” that is yet being explored by our organization.

Should I need to explain again, the idea did not come from the PNP but from a third party. Thus, we have to conduct further studies on their proposal.

—REUBEN THEODORE C. SINDAC,

senior superintendent and

chief of the Public Information Office,

Philippine National Police,

pnp.pio@gmail.com

Sam Miguel
07-15-2013, 08:53 AM
‘I am not involved in any scam’

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:23 am | Saturday, July 13th, 2013

(Second of a series)

Janet Lim-Napoles, who first appeared on the radar screen of whistle-blowers in 2001, has dismissed as a “product of lies,” allegations she engineered a P10-billion scam over the past decade using mainly pork barrel funds of senators and congressmen for ghost projects.

In an affidavit prepared by the MOST law firm, the 49-year-old trader said she and her company, JLN Corp., had “never transacted business or closed deals with the government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities.”

“I certainly was not involved in any of the high-profile scams which occurred during the previous administration,” she said in the document prepared by MOST, which stands for the first letter of the last names of the law firm’s lead partners—Lisa Araneta Marcos, wife of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Edward Serapio and Joseph Tan. Ochoa is on leave from the firm.

Letter to Aquino

Napoles also wrote a letter to President Benigno Aquino III dated April 17 saying the charges against her and her family were “false, fabricated, and a mere product of lies” perpetrated by business competitors conspiring with “corrupt agents” of the National Bureau of Investigation “with the ulterior motive of besmirching our reputation.”

The following day, April 18, the NBI received a directive from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the allegations contained in Napoles’ letter to the President.

In the affidavit, Napoles denied claims by Benhur K. Luy, 31, a distant cousin and her personal assistant in JLN Corp., that she had ordered his kidnapping last Dec. 19 after she reportedly learned that he wanted to engage in the same racket she was in.

On March 22, Luy was rescued by a special task force of NBI agents led by Rolando Argabioso, a regional director, from a condominium unit owned by Napoles in the South Wings Gardens of Pacific Plaza Tower at Bonifacio Global City.

Luy then proceeded to execute affidavits, joined by five other whistle-blowers, outlining the alleged scams Napoles had undertaken, purportedly using funds from the lawmakers’ priority development assistance funds (PDAF), or pork barrel, and various government entities, for ghost projects executed by several dozen bogus contractors the past 10 years.

Napoles, the president and CEO of JLN Corp., said Luy was never detained. She said her brother was always with Luy and that at the end of the day, Luy was accompanied to Bahay San Jose, a dormitory used by priests and nuns, where he stayed for the night throughout the supposed kidnapping ordeal.

She said “unscrupulous individuals, in cohorts (sic) with some ‘corrupt’ agents of the NBI,” were subjecting her and her family to “continuous threats, intimidation, and even physical harm.” She said the NBI special team, without an arrest warrant, detained her brother Reynald Lim.

Alleged extortion attempts

The NBI prepared kidnapping charges against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, but these were dropped for lack of probable cause by Assistant State Prosecutor Pedro Navera on June 10.

Napoles said Luy’s lawyer, Levito Baligod, had allegedly demanded P38 million from her to drop the kidnapping charges, later raising this to P250 million to P300 million, and asking a Canadian visa for Luy and his family, pocket money of $1.5 million for the travelers and another P30 million for a pharmaceutical business of his sister to be left behind.

“Modesty aside, given our financial and social stature, it is clearly absurd for us to commit the crime charged or even attempt to engage in such an activity. There is absolutely no reason for us to do such criminal acts for what benefit can we gain therefrom? Such an accusation is truly illogical and unbelievable,” she said in her letter to Aquino.

“We are decent law abiding citizens all our lives. We are not kidnappers; we are not criminals. My family and I are legitimate businessmen. We have been engaged in the business for the past 29 years, and the main reason for our success is because of the trust and integrity attached to our good name,” she said.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Baligod shrugged off Napoles’ accusation of extortion and said it was Reynald Lim’s lawyer, Freddie Villamor, who offered him P5 million in exchange for dropping the kidnapping case filed by Luy’s family against the siblings. “The offer was made in the morning after Benhur was rescued by the NBI,” Baligod said.

“JLN Corp. has never transacted business or closed deals with the government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, much less the government offices which Benhur mentioned, and those enumerated by Arturo, Gertrudes, Arthur and Annabelle … in their joint sworn statement,” Napoles said, referring to the other whistle-blowers who sought to corroborate Luy’s accusations.

High-profile scams

“I certainly was not involved in any of the high-profile scams which occurred during the previous administration. In fact, I found out in news reports that the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution clearing the suspects in the (Joc-joc Bolante) fertilizer scam. My name or JLN Corp. was not even mentioned in the said resolution clearing the suspects in the fertilizer scam.

“My name or JLN Corp. was not even mentioned in said resolution, proving that I and my business outfit are not involved in said scam,” Napoles said in her affidavit.

She said that Luy concocted the supposed kidnapping after she confronted him about a claim that he had secured an unauthorized loan for the company of P5 million and that he pocketed P300,000 she had asked him to deposit in the bank.

Since 2001

In 2001, Napoles and her husband, retired Army Maj. Jaime Napoles, were among 18 personnel of the Navy Marine Corps and civilians, charged by the Office of Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan with graft and malversation in connection with the acquisition of substandard Kevlar helmets worth P3.8 million.

Seven years later, Napoles was called in the investigation conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee on the P728-million fertilizer scam involving then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante. The inquisitors extracted from her statements that she had formed dummy companies to launder the funds of the Department of Agriculture. Curiously, no charges were officially filed against her.

(Part 3 tomorrow: How scams were cooked up)

Sam Miguel
07-15-2013, 09:03 AM
How P10-B racket works

‘As long as gov’t is there, there’s money’

By TJ Burgonio, Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:37 am | Sunday, July 14th, 2013

(Third of a series)

Using just a list of bogus recipients and foundations, and forged signatures of local officials, a small company has allegedly converted billions of pesos in government funds into kickbacks.

For nearly a decade, Janet Lim-Napoles and her company, the JLN Group of Companies, had been running the alleged racket with the complicity of officials, including legislators, and had gotten away with it because of her extensive connection in the government, her former employees said.

The scheme involved the Malampaya funds, the fertilizer fund and the lawmakers’ allotments from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

“She’d tell us that as long as the government is there, there’s money,” Napoles’ former aide, Arthur Luy, told the INQUIRER.

Napoles and her company had been trading agricultural products since 2000 until she reportedly discovered in 2003 a quicker scheme to make money, her former employees said in interviews and affidavits submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into her activities.

For such a high-stakes racket, the modus operandi was surprisingly simple, the INQUIRER has learned.

Napoles, who allegedly ran the racket from unit 2502 of Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, established foundations or nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to serve as recipients of the funds and named her own employees, including a nanny, as presidents of these outfits.

The funds, which were deposited in the foundations’ bank accounts, were eventually remitted to her to be split between her and the lawmaker whose PDAF allotment was used, or the official of the state agency involved.

The first step was to identify the source of fund, such as the pork barrel.

Napoles talked to senators

Either JLN staff would write a lawmaker requesting funding, say for the purchase of farm inputs on behalf of mayors or governors, or the lawmaker himself would indicate that his pork barrel be allocated to an agency, say the Department of Agriculture (DA).

It was Napoles who would talk to the senator, or his or her chief of staff, according to Merlina Suñas, JLN’s former account executive.

For good measure, the letters forwarded to the lawmaker’s office bore the scanned letterhead of the mayor’s or governor’s office, and the official’s forged signature.

Once everything was cleared, the staff would convince local governments to agree that the fund be released into preidentified foundations or NGOs with the promise of commission. The Department of Budget and Management would then issue a special allotment release order (Saro) to be charged against the lawmaker’s PDAF allocation, and later the notice of cash allocation (NCA), to the agency upon the submission by the lawmaker of a list of beneficiary-agencies.

Special projects team

The NCA was “good as cash.” The money would then be deposited in the account of the foundation and be withdrawn in favor of JLN.

“After we had delivered the money, we didn’t know what happened,” said Merlina Suñas, 59, president of the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDF).

Suñas was part of JLN’s “special projects” team that carried out the alleged racket. And part of her job was to form a foundation, whose name she had pieced together by Googling, and drew up a list of fictitious beneficiaries, and withdrew the money and delivered it to Napoles.

‘Everything is forged’

A communication from a senator indicating that his or her PDAF fund be allocated to an agency, say, the DA, would start the ball rolling.

The team would prepare the paper work, such as a memorandum of agreement, a project proposal and a letter for financial assistance from a mayor to the secretary of agriculture. Napoles’ personal assistant Benhur K. Luy would sign as the “mayor,” Suñas said.

“Everything is forged,” Arthur Luy said. “The mayor was unaware of such a project and that there were funds for this.” (Arthur and Benhur Luy are brothers.)

The requested “fund assistance” would range from P1.5 million to P10 million.

“We only wait for the Saro. Once we get a copy, that’s the time we determine the beneficiaries of that senator. If the senator says the PDAF should go to the LGU, then we identify a municipality,” Suñas said.

Dummy foundations

In other instances, the senator would write the mayor endorsing a certain foundation to implement, say, a P5-million project from his or her PDAF fund.

As she had done to other “original” employees, Napoles named Suñas as president of the POPDF, a dummy foundation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to act as recipient of the funds.

In the instances where POPDF was named recipient, Suñas withdrew the money from a bank in Greenhills, San Juan City, and delivered it to Napoles in her office or at home.

“We called it ‘going to market.’ We’d stuff the money into a Samsonite traveling bag,” she said. “The tellers knew me; they called me by my first name. They’d ask, ‘Where did this come from?’ We’d tell them it’s payment for supplies.” On one occasion, she withdrew up to P30 million.

Suñas confirmed that in 2012 her foundation received P5 million in pork barrel funds from each of then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, and the Dinalupihan municipal government in Bataan was used as a conduit.

Once the money was downloaded, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the foundation and the local government for the delivery of farm inputs, she said.

Sam Miguel
07-15-2013, 09:03 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Paper implementation

Following the agreement, P15 million worth of fertilizer was delivered to the municipality, she said. “We delivered the fertilizer. There was no overpricing.”

Previously, there were no deliveries; the implementation of the project “was only on paper,” Suñas said. “Mostly, they were ghost deliveries.”

But in 2012, the mayors insisted that farm inputs be delivered, as state auditors would personally verify the deliveries, she said.

But whether there was delivery or not, it was well-known to JLN employees that Napoles and the lawmaker would share the pork-barrel allocation, Suñas said.

If there was no delivery, the senator or congressman would get a “rebate,” say, 50 percent of the allocation, and the rest would go to Napoles, she said.

If there were deliveries, the lawmaker would still get a substantial cut, and the rest would go to Napoles to cover the cost of the farm inputs, “bribe money” for local officials and other expenses, she added.

“It’s just a verbal agreement. That’s the practice. For our part, we just did our job, and we got paid for it,” Suñas said, adding that Napoles would give the foundation officials and employees commissions if she was in a good mood.

Suñas had been working for Napoles since 1997. Napoles set up Jo Chris Trading (after her eldest daughter) but renamed it JLN in 2010. Suñas used to be a civilian employee of the Philippine Navy, where she became acquainted with Napoles, who supplied motor-vehicle spare parts to the Navy.

Suñas also claimed that apart from being assigned as head of a dummy NGO, she was also a project coordinator and liaison for JLN to the implementing agencies and local governments, particularly Pangasinan and government agencies like the DA and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

NGOs’ presidents

Nova Batal Macalintal of North Cotabato stated in her sworn affidavit that she was appointed by Napoles as president of Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. and the papers for registration were prepared for her by a certain Evelyn de Leon.

She also said that she never opened an account for the NGO she supposedly headed, but she was asked to sign withdrawal slips.

“They asked me to sign withdrawal slips under the account of my NGO but I cannot recall opening a bank account for Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka,” she said.

Gertrudes K. Luy, mother of Benhur and Arthur Luy and former nanny of Napoles’ son, claimed she was made president of Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation Inc. and she also did not sign any documents.

“I learned I was made president of one NGO, but Evelyn de Leon signed for all the documents,” Luy said.

In a joint affidavit, Macalintal and Gertrudes Luy claimed their dummy NGOs were used by JLN as beneficiaries of Malampaya funds, with the DAR as the implementing agency.

Arthur Luy also claimed that among the tasks he did for JLN was fabricating names of recipients as well as forging their signatures to complete the paperwork.

Benhur Luy, in his sworn statement, said he was also ordered by JLN to open bank accounts for the NGOs. He said he made deposits and withdrawals on behalf of the NGOs.

Making up names

The whistle-blowers also said that they became adept at creating names of recipients from long practice.

“We just wrote first and last names that came to our mind and then [signed above them] as recipients,” Arthur Luy told the Inquirer in an interview.

Luy said they also produced project proposals supposedly from a local government asking for funds to an implementing agency like the DA and the DAR.

Some LGUs victims

The whistle-blowers also said that some local governments were victimized by the scam. “They were used as beneficiaries of government-funded projects through the use of counterfeit LGU logo and forged signatures,” they said.

Gertrudes Luy said that without her knowledge she and her daughter Annabele were made incorporators of JLN.

She added that as a trusted relative and longtime employee, she sometimes accompanied Napoles and saw lots of cash handed to her by other staff of JLN. “The money was placed in duffle bags and brought to her unit in Pacific Plaza or in the Discovery Suites office,” Luy told Inquirer in an interview.

Earlier COA inquiry

The Commission on Audit had reported that some P195 million in pork barrel from Enrile, Estrada and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., and then Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde went to a questionable nongovernment organization in 2011.

The audit report identified the four lawmakers as the sources of the P206-million PDAF allotted for the DA in 2009 and 2010.

Of the amount, P201 million was turned over by the agriculture department to ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC), a government-owned and controlled corporation, which in turn transferred P194.97 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI).

Of the amount received by PFI, P74.69 million came from Enrile’s pork barrel, P106.7 million from Estrada’s, P9.7 million from Revilla’s, and P3.88 million from Velarde’s, the COA said.

The COA said the offices of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Velarde all nominated PFI as the beneficiary of the funds to implement its claimed livelihood projects.

The COA report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC to require PFI to refund P162 million “due to fabricated documents and forged signatures” it submitted for the liquidation of funds received from ZREC.

(Part 4 tomorrow: Who’s who)

Sam Miguel
07-15-2013, 09:09 AM
28 solons linked to scam

Revilla gave pork to syndicate 22 times

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:13 am | Monday, July 15th, 2013

(Fourth of a series)

Five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives allegedly made available their pork barrel funds to dummy nongovernment organizations for purported ghost projects worth P10 billion over the past decade, according to affidavits submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation.

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. topped the list of lawmakers who were said to have allowed the use of their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to the scheme allegedly hatched by Janet Lim-Napoles, president and CEO of the trading firm JLN Corp., according to the documents secured by the Inquirer.

Revilla gave the syndicate access to his PDAF, or pork barrel, to dummy NGOs formed by Napoles and registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission in 22 instances; followed by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile on 21 occasions; Jinggoy Estrada, 18 times; Ferdinand Marcos Jr., four; and Gringo Honasan, once with a small amount.

Contrary to one newspaper report, Sen. Loren Legarda was not involved in the scam, said the principal whistle-blower, Benhur Luy, a former Napoles employee. “There was an attempt, but I heard she was dropped because she scrutinized it and she was very keen on receipts,” Luy told the Inquirer.

Seachon-Lanete

Topping the list of 23 House representatives is Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate’s third district, who allowed her pork to be used 13 times; followed by Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan’s 6th district and Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, both nine occasions; and Samuel Dangwa, of Benguet, eight.

Contacted by the Inquirer last week, Estrada said he would comment after he had read the affidavits secured by the NBI and had enough background information on the subject. Enrile and Revilla were not immediately available at the weekend but were expected to likewise respond to the issues raised against them.

Faced with a similar issue on their pork barrel funds going to spurious projects of bogus NGOs a few months back, Estrada called for an investigation into who could have unduly benefited from the scam.

All three senators earlier acknowledged that they had identified agriculture projects that were funded by their pork but denied any knowledge that an NGO that handled the funds was a bogus organization.

The three had asked the Department of Agriculture to shed light on how the concerned PDAF funds released between 2009 and 2010 were actually spent.

Reached by phone last week, former Rep. Arthur Pingoy asked where the PDAF was supposedly sourced from. He asked for details about the JLN company and said he would have it checked. He said he would then get back to the Inquirer.

‘Nothing to do with that’

Rep. Victor Ortega said: “I have nothing to do with that. I did not receive a single sack of fertilizer nor received a single peso from the fund for the fertilizer. The accuser should face me and tell me personally.” He said of Napoles: “I have never met her nor talked to her. I do not know her.”

Each senator has a PDAF budget of P200 million annually; congressmen each have a P70-million pork allocation, but during the Arroyo administration, favored senators and congressmen received more than they were supposed to get. Under the law, the lawmakers have the sole discretion in the disposition of their pork barrel.

Based on the documents obtained by the Inquirer, Enrile, at one time, downloaded P111 million of his PDAF to three dummy NGOs on the same date. Of the total amount, only P35 million allegedly went to the Napoles NGOs.

LGU involvement

A total of P3 billion was on the whistle-blowers’ list for the years 2006-2011. Implementing agencies for this total amount were the National Livelihood Development Corp. and the Technology Resource Center.

Apart from the 20 dummy organizations, the list also showed that 30 local government units were recipients of the pork barrel. However, according to the whistle-blowers, there were LGUs that were not aware of the funds and did not receive a single centavo.

The whistle-blowers also identified banks where the accounts of the bogus NGOs were deposited.

Banks

Deposits were made in the following banks:

– Metrobank, Magdalena branch in Binondo, Manila—Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation, Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Tanglaw para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Ginintuang Alay para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Micro-Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation, Karangyaan para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Saganang Buhay Foundation.

– Metrobank, Jose Abad Santos branch—Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation.

– LandBank, Greenhills branch—Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation and People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation.

– LandBank, Department of Education branch in Pasig City—Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation, Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Agrikultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Dalampansang Amon Utod Foundation.

– Metrobank, Ortigas Center branch—Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation and Abundant Harvest for People Foundation.

Napoles bank accounts

Luy, the whistle-blower, said he also opened bank accounts in Napoles’ name and deposited there cash taken from the NGO accounts.

Among the bank accounts of Napoles that Luy identified were UCPB Makati head office, Metrobank on Jose Abad Santos, Ortigas and Magdalena in Binondo, Metrobank Ortigas Center for JLCN Global Properties.

The whistle-blowers said portions of the illegally acquired funds were deposited in the accounts of various persons that earned interest in connivance with the Air Materiel Wings Savings and Loan Association Inc. (SMWSLAI).

“There are existing accounts of other people with AMWSLAI where she put the money and withdraw them through the help of some officials there,” one of the whistle-blowers said. “She can deposit and withdraw money from someone else’s accounts without the knowledge of that person that his account is being used by Napoles.”

Properties

The whistle-blower also identified properties supposedly acquired by Napoles in the course of her illegal activities: houses and lots located at high-end subdivisions like Forbes Park in Makati, Ayala Alabang Village, the whole 25th floor of Discovery Center in Pasig City, units in Serendra and Pacific Plaza Towers (18-B and South Garden Unit) and AFPVOI Village (lots only).

Also identified were expensive vehicles of Napoles supposedly acquired through the money: Range Rover (PN TIN 11), white Porsche Cayenne (CYN 98), white Toyota Alphard, BMW, Tahoe, Chevrolet, two Ford E-150, Starex Gold, Toyota Prado, Savanna GMC, Lincoln Navigator, Hummer, Land Rover, Honda Civic and Mercedez Benz.—With reports from Norman Bordadora and Christian V. Esguerra

gfy
07-15-2013, 11:55 AM
^This is very easy to investigate. Just check the documents if authentic, validate the transactions complete with receipts and so on. Napoles is just clouding the issue by citing unrelated matters. Then PROSECUTE those f..king lawmakers.

Sam Miguel
07-16-2013, 08:05 AM
Malampaya fund lost P900M in JLN racket

Fake NGO got money for agrarian reform

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:25 am | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

(Fifth of a series)

At least P900 million from royalties in the operation of the Malampaya gas project off Palawan province intended for agrarian reform beneficiaries has gone into a dummy nongovernment organization (NGO), according to an affidavit on a P10-billion racket submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“There were no deliveries of supplies for listed beneficiaries for the Malampaya funds,” according to the document executed by Marilyn Suñas, one of six whistle-blowers on the alleged scam said to have been carried out by Janet Lim-Napoles, president and CEO of JLN Corp. that is being investigated by the NBI.

Affidavits earlier made available to the Inquirer and interviews with whistle-blowers indicate that a large portion of the multibillion-peso scam over the past 10 years allegedly masterminded by Napoles came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gregorio Honasan and 23 members of the House of Representatives.

All the senators denied involvement in the racket involving ghost projects and 20 bogus NGOs.

Suñas, 59, said she was assigned by Napoles as president of People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI). She claimed that apart from being assigned as head of the dummy NGO, she also acted as the project coordinator of JLN and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the Malampaya fund project.

The DAR, then headed by Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, was the implementing agency of the oil funds. His assistant secretary, Narciso Nieto, was the signatory of the tripartite memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the distribution of the P900 million funds from Malampaya.

Other signatories of the MOA were local government units involved in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which has been underfunded and which has forced many beneficiaries to sell their lands.

“The NGO head and Nieto’s signature were genuine, but the LGU official’s signature was forged,” she added.

Suñas explained that the LGU was supposed to be the recipient of the agricultural kit supposedly supplied by the dummy NGO.

“But no delivery was ever made, all the receipts were manufactured for the liquidation of the funds,” Suñas said.

When asked by the Inquirer if Pangandaman and Nieto were involved in the scam, Suñas said: “Based on the vouchers received by the NGO, they were also the signatories. We do not know what is the agreement between them and Ma’am Janet.”

Dummy NGOs

She added that 12 dummy NGOs were made recipients of the Malampaya funds.

These were Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Karangyaan para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Masaganang Buhay Foundation, Tanglaw para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation, Micro-Agri Business Citizens Initiative, Dalampan San Amon Utod Foundation, and Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation, Karangyaan para sa Magbubukid, People’s Organization for Progress and Development and Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation.

Suñas said that based on the MOA, the NGOs were supposed to deliver agricultural packages that were also bought from JLN companies, the Jo Chris Trading and TNU Trading. Suñas maintained that the money received by the NGO was all remitted to Napoles, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Pangandaman and Nieto were not immediately available for comment.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said that even before the issue on the Malampaya fund broke out, the Commission on Audit had created a team to look into the matter.

De los Reyes told the Inquirer that for the past four or five months, a COA special audit team had been looking into the fund.

The agrarian reform secretary said that he was waiting for the results of the audit and the COA recommendation, adding, “We will proceed from there.”

Sam Miguel
07-17-2013, 09:46 AM
Immigration chief out

By Evelyn Macairan

(The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang announced yesterday the resignation of Bureau of Immigration commissioner Ricardo David, a day after the BI spokesperson dismissed the story of his looming departure as rumor.

David came under fire recently for the escape of foreign detainees as well as for his refusal to release an American after the latter was cleared of estafa by a Makati City court.

At the BI’s anniversary celebration last year, President Aquino also scolded the bureau for the escape from the country of high-profile fugitives.

David was a member of the Presidential Security Group during the presidency of Corazon Aquino.

“Commissioner David tendered his resignation to the President, and the resignation has been accepted,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told Palace reporters in a news briefing.

She did not specify the reason for David’s resignation, but said the former Armed Forces chief “felt it was but proper for him to take full responsibility for events that may have transpired under his leadership of the bureau.” David’s resignation letter was dated July 12.

“We would like to thank Commissioner David for his service to the country in all the years that he has served in the military,” Valte said.

She recalled that David did not think twice about going back to public service when offered the top BI post after his retirement from the military. He assumed the BI leadership on March 21, 2011.

Valte declined to confirm reports that David’s deputy, lawyer Siegfred Mison, would take over the top BI position.

“I have no information on the replacement yet. We have not been apprised of any replacement,” she told reporters.

Reliable sources said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had endorsed the appointment of Mison as David’s replacement. BI is under the Department of Justice.

Both de Lima and Mison – son of former Customs commissioner Salvador Mison and nephew of former National Bureau of Investigation director Mariano Mison – are from Camarines Sur in Bicol.

Mison, who is in his mid-40s, was a military officer before he became a lawyer. President Aquino appointed him Immigration deputy commissioner in June 2012.

The other Immigration commissioner is lawyer Abdullah Mangotara, a former Lanao del Norte congressman.

Mison graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1987. He obtained his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1996, and earned his Masters of Law degree from the University of Southern California in 2006.

Pained by escapes

BI spokesperson Ma. Anonette Mangrobang said the escape of some foreign detainees may have weighed heavily on David, prompting him to resign.

She said David may have also been hurting from allegations that his BI personnel may have helped former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother flee the country after being charged with murdering a journalist.

“There are instances when there were reports of escaped detainees, but those incidents were isolated and the bureau has taken steps to prevent similar occurrences and have punished personnel found to be involved or have participated in those illegal activities,” Mangrobang said.

But she said the former BI chief had assumed full responsibility for the incidents.

The BI earlier drew flak for the escape of Korean nationals Kim Tae Dong and Park Sung-jung.

In a statement, David said he was taking full responsibility for the incidents “that involved people who continued to resist the reforms that we labored to institute image transformation of this Bureau.”

Mangrobang said that while they were not belittling BI’s mistakes, she said she believes the bureau’s accomplishments far outweigh its errors under David’s leadership.

When asked about David’s biggest accomplishment, Mangrobang said a “great majority” of corruption had been eliminated. She also cited greater discipline in the rank and file as well as improvements in BI’s “culture of work.”

She also said that under David’s term, red tape was greatly reduced, so much so that documents can now be released within a five-day period and visa processed in a matter of hours.

BI also implemented an efficient travel control system at the ports, making it more convenient for international travelers to enter the country.

She said she doesn’t know if David would be given another post. David, she said, “already had a full career and being given the chance to work in the civilian sector is a feather in his cap…He is taking it in stride.”

She said that at the moment, David is busy “wrapping up his accountabilities with the bureau.”

Meanwhile, David said he hopes his successor “will continue what we have started and to remain focused on the path of the President’s tuwid na daan.”

Earlier, Mangrobang denied reports that her boss was on his way out. She said David had wanted to set the record straight on the deportation case of Walter Francis Groves, an American detained at BI’s Bicutan facility.

Groves had complained of human rights violation, citing his continued detention.

The US embassy took up Grove’s cause and complained to Malacañang.

David reportedly gave instructions to some immigration officials to complete the report on Groves after last Monday’s flag ceremony.

David earlier explained that Groves could not be deported yet because the dismissal of his estafa case by the Makati RTC was not yet final.

He said Grove’s case was only provisionally dismissed and that it can still be revived if the parties involved fail to comply with their compromise agreement. He did not elaborate.

Senior State Prosecutor Roberto Lao had also contended that under the rules, the BI had to wait for two years from the date of the provisional dismissal of the case before Groves could be deported.

“But if the court would issue a clearance that there is no more pending case against him, we will waste no time and deport him immediately aboard the first available flight to the US,” David said. With Delon Porcalla

Sam Miguel
07-17-2013, 09:52 AM
De Lima on Ozamis gang slay: Smells fishy

(The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered yesterday the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the killing of two leaders of the notorious Ozamis robbery gang who were shot dead after allegedly trying to grab the firearms of their police escorts in an attempt to escape in San Pedro, Laguna late Monday afternoon.

In a press conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila, De Lima raised questions over the death of Ozamis gang leaders Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga.

Police had recaptured Cadavero and Panogalinga in Dasmariñas, Cavite last July 12. The two escaped from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City last December. The gang members had previously been convicted of robbery.

“I was so alarmed and I smell something very fishy in the whole story,” a visibly irate De Lima stressed.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima also ordered separate investigations on the death of Cadavero and Panogalinga.

De Lima said the PNP presented the two inmates in a press conference at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday and announced they were already returned to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which is under the justice department’s administrative supervision.

She said the two were not transferred by the police to the New Bilibid prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa, but were instead brought to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Dasmariñas, Cavite for inquest proceedings.

“So what was that presscon about, moro-moro? Did they use BuCor as props? Good thing I wasn’t there, because I would’ve appeared stupid,” the irate DOJ chief said.

De Lima explained that the inquest proceedings should have just been conducted inside the national penitentiary, so there was no need for the police to bring Cadavero and Panogalinga to Cavite.

She also questioned where the police were bringing them since the shooting incident happened in San Pedro, Laguna.

“If they came from Dasmariñas, why did they pass by San Pedro? They could pass through the expressway, but why were they taking another way?” she asked.

The DOJ chief admitted she was irked upon learning that BuCor had sent representatives to Camp Crame.

“I am blaming directly (BuCor) Director (Franklin) Bucayu for not clearing it up with me,” she bared.

De Lima said she wants the NBI to look into “these very ridiculous circumstances.”

“There are a lot of questions to be answered, especially from the PNP group,” she added.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said he would form a team to investigate the death of the two Ozamis gang members.

“We are ready to investigate,” said Rojas, who assigned agents of the NBI Region 4-A office to lead the probe.

Cadavero and Panogalinga were able to escape from the NBP last Dec. 8, 2012 when three men posing as visitors pointed guns at the jail guards. They were re-arrested last Friday at Barangay San Agustin 2 in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

The Ozamis robbery group is said to be behind numerous robberies in shopping malls in Metro Manila, including those in Alabang Town Center, Robinsons Metro East, Robinsons Galleria and Robinsons Novaliches and Robinsons Dasmariñas, and a Landbank branch in Quezon City.

Roxas ordered the National Police Commission and the PNP to conduct an investigation to get to the bottom of the incident, while Purisima directed the PNP-Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to also investigate the case.

The DILG chief said the result of the investigation should be submitted to him as soon as possible.

“I have ordered the investigation to find out what really happened. Let’s wait for the result of the investigation,” Purisima told The STAR.

Purisima said he also relieved all the police escorts involved in the incident.

Cadavero and Panogalinga died of gunshot wounds in their bodies and were declared dead upon arrival at a hospital in San Pedro, Laguna, said CALABARZON Police director Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona.

The shooting incident took place at about 6:30 p.m. along Magsaysay Highway in Barangay San Antonio, San Pedro, Laguna.

Police said that Cadavero and Panogalinga had been turned over to the NBP at around noon after a press conference attended by Roxas and Purisima at Camp Crame.

Upon arrival at the NBP compound in Muntinlupa, Superintendent Danilo Mendoza of the Calabarzon Police Region Special Operations Group (RSOG) informed NBP superintendent Benancio Tesoro that the police needed to present the two prisoners to the Cavite Prosecutor’s Office in Dasmariñas on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The two gang members were arrested in a series of police operations in Cavite and Batangas over the weekend.

As part of the operations, the police also recaptured last Saturday in San Juan City two of the three Chinese drug lords who escaped police custody in Trece Martires City, Cavite last Feb. 21.

Law enforcers rearrested Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy, and Li Tian Hua at their hideout in Little Baguio, San Juan.

Policemen, however, failed to get the third fugitive, Jackson Dy’s wife Li Wang Na, who was able to escape the police dragnet.

Police said the convicted drug dealers moved into their San Juan hideout last March, after they were snatched by members of the Ozamis robbery gang, led by Cadavero and Panogalinga, who were paid to spring them from the custody of policemen. – Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Aie See Balagtas, Perseus Echeminada, Ed Amoroso

Sam Miguel
07-17-2013, 10:13 AM
Napoles: We control gov’t

Kidnapping led to discovery of P10B pork scam

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:14 am | Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

(Last of a series)

When agents of the National Bureau of Investigation swooped down on March 22 on a condominium unit in the swank South Garden Pacific Towers in Taguig City and rescued Benhur Luy, little did they know that they were to pry open a Pandora’s box of ghost projects worth P10 billion over the past decade.

Following days of surveillance on orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas, the special task force headed by Regional Director Rolando Argabioso rescued the 31-year-old Luy, who had been reported by his lawyer, Levito Baligod, as missing by his parents, Arturo and Gertrudes.

Baligod’s letter dated March 1, asked De Lima’s help in locating Luy, who the lawyer said had been detained by his employer and cousin Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim.

Luy’s parents said that Lim had warned them not to go to authorities for assistance, telling them, “Hawak namin ang gobyerno (We control the government).”

Napoles, president and CEO of the trading firm JLN, was alleged to be the brains behind the multibillion-peso racket using mainly pork barrel funds, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), of five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives for nonexistent projects. She has denied any wrongdoing.

In his letter to De Lima seeking assistance, Baligod said:

“This case initially appeared to me as simple case of serious illegal detention. However, a further interview of witnesses revealed that the victim was being detained to ensure that nobody could directly implicate the above persons with the ongoing issues on the fertilizer scam, Malampaya Fund, and anomalies in the implementation of several PDAF-funded projects.”

A medical technology graduate, Luy joined Napoles, a distant cousin, in September 2002 and became her personal assistant. There was a falling out, after Napoles claimed that he took an unauthorized loan of P5 million and ran away with P300,000 he was ordered to deposit in her account.

After his rescue, Luy prepared a statement for the NBI detailing where he was detained by Napoles and her brother.

Ordeal begins

On the first day, Luy said he was kept in one of the rooms of the Discovery Suites at Ortigas Center in Pasig City, but all outside calls were barred by the hotel on orders of Napoles.

Before he was detained, he said Napoles took his pouch that contained his driver’s license, PRC identification card, credit cards, ATM cards, passport, various bank passbooks, check booklets and cash. While Napoles was talking to Luy, her security escorts surrounded him.

On the second day, Luy said he was brought to Bahay San Jose at No. 52 Lapulapu St., Magallanes Village, Makati City, where Msgr. Josefino Ramirez and five Chinese priests were staying. There, Luy said he was also barred from using cellular and landline phones.

He was also told not to speak to the two security guards and was prohibited from watching television. More importantly, he was barred from going out of the house and his movements were being jotted down on the guard’s logbook.

He said that he was able to get out of the house on Dec. 24, Jan. 9, and Feb. 23 but under escort by Lim and his aides. Every time there was a visitor in the priests’ residence, he was told to hide in the chapel. He said that in the three months that he stayed with Monsignor Ramirez, “he spoke to me only three times” but that he was unable to speak about his plight.

Described as a drug addict

Luy said that his captors, during his detention, pictured him as a drug addict who had to be reformed. Luy said that his family pleaded with Lim to let them see him at least.

“But instead Lim told us that we can see him if they surrender to him the laptop he was using and not to report anything to authorities because hawak nila ang gobyerno,” Luy said in his affidavit.

Surrendering the laptop containing business transactions of JLN Corp., the mother said, was the condition set by the siblings for them to see Benhur.

On Dec. 21, based on the affidavit of Luy’s mother, Lim got the laptop from her and told her not to report to authorities, repeating, “Hawak namin ang gobyerno.”

According to an affidavit of Luy’s friend, Flor Villanueva, who had possession of the laptop, she was able to copy all the files before it was given to Lim.

In his third meeting with his family on Feb. 23, Luy said he was able to sneak a note to his sister, Annabelle, asking for help.

Personal bank accounts

Benhur in his affidavit said that Napoles cleaned out his personal bank accounts through illegal and unauthorized withdrawals while he was under detention.

He claimed that his personal accounts with United Coconut Planters Bank and Metrobank that reached P1.5 million were withdrawn through a debit memo. He added that his dollar account with a balance of $13,000 was closed with the full amount withdrawn.

“All this I earned in the 10 years of working with JLN,” he said.

The NBI said that the operation to rescue Luy began on March 8. When it was carried out, Lim was arrested but Napoles eluded the agents. Lim was taken to St Luke’s Medical Center at Global City after he complained of chest pains. He subsequently had heart surgery.

Luy told the NBI that during his detention he was moved from one place to another—all owned by Napoles—during the day, but was returned to Bahay San Jose to spend the night.

He said he was detained in houses located in an upscale subdivision, high-end condominiums, and a retreat house run by retired priests.

In his narration to the NBI, Luy claimed there was not a moment while he was detained that he had the chance to escape. He said Lim was always with him “when I go out of the residence of the priest, and he was always nearby listening when I talked to my family.”

The NBI recommended the filing of kidnapping charges against Napoles and Lim in March. The charges were dismissed on June 10 by Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera. Now Luy stands accused of qualified theft and no bail is recommended.

Sam Miguel
07-17-2013, 10:23 AM
Scary

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:43 pm | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

It’s just another day in the life of Davao City. Cops have just gunned down suspected kidnappers.

The rubout was captured on video, which was shown on ABS-CBN. The grainy footage showed a uniformed policeman aiming a rifle at a man and shooting him. The man had his hands clasped behind his head and was behind the wheel of an SUV. The execution was witnessed by five other cops who had surrounded the vehicle. After the shooting, a man in civilian clothes put an object near the vehicle.

“That’s clear murder,” said Etta Rosales, human rights chair, upon seeing the video. It could be the understatement of the month. A year would be too long given the number of things that lend themselves to understatements in Rodrigo Duterte’s city.

Earlier, the Davao City police department reported killing three kidnappers in a gunfight while rescuing their captive. The kidnappers had apparently kidnapped the victim, a businesswoman, in Manila and brought her to the south. The video refuted their claims.

Duterte himself was unfazed and defended his force, daring critics to go to court. “Don’t crucify the police for doing their duty,” he said on radio. Some days earlier, he had warned kidnappers: “You will leave Davao City vertically or horizontally—that is your choice.”

Saying, and doing, these things are not new to him. In October last year, pissed off by the fact that carjacking suspect Ryan Yu alias “Baktin” had refused to surrender to him, he issued this offer to prospective bounty hunters: “Two million ako kapag buhay si Ryan. Kapag pinatay ninyo, four million yan. Pag dinala ninyo ang ulo, balutin lang ninyo sa dry ice, dagdagan ko ng one million sa campaign funds … so it’s five million.” (I’m good for P2 million if you capture Ryan alive, P4 million if you kill him. You bring me his head in—just wrap it in dry ice—I’ll throw in another million from my campaign funds.)

When Rosales, and a shocked public, remonstrated with him for the barbarism, he replied: “Do not castrate the government. That will make us impotent to fight crime. Do not do that to my city.”

This is the quality of mind of the person who proposes to rid this world, or Davao City, of crime. Duterte’s murderous antics have gone on long enough and it’s time we stopped it. Hell, it’s time we brought him to court. That is stopping crime.

Let us be clear: We know kidnapping and robbery, rape and pillage, murder and mayhem run riot in this country and have created a culture of impunity, criminals being free to ply their vicious trade in broad daylight. We know the law is often not just powerless to stop them but powerful enough to aid them in what they do, or allow them to go free once they are caught. We know we need to do something about this, our levels of desperation increasing each time we see a cut-and-dried case like the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao wreaked by the Ampatuans managing to befuddle the courts.

None of these justifies Duterte’s methods. None of these excuses Duterte’s own crimes. “Excesses” is far too pale, or benign, a word to describe what he does. This is a way of stopping crime that is worse than the original crimes. Hell, this is a way of stopping crime that is worse than crime itself.

At the very least, that is so because it reposes the discernment of guilt among a group of people whose capacity to discern is as suspect as the guilt of their suspects. It reposes the determination of punishment among a group of people who have only one punishment for various crimes, for various levels of participation in a crime, which is death. Are you willing to put your life in the hands of a man who regards any protest against soliciting the aid of bounty hunters to deliver suspects dead or alive, whole or headless, as castrating the government? Are you willing to put your life in the hands of a man who regards public outrage over the cold-blooded execution of suspects as crucifying the police?

If you’re innocent, they tell you, you have nothing to fear. Well, the fact that whoever took the video of the rubout is unknown, prefers to remain unknown, and must remain unknown or relocate elsewhere if he plans to linger a little longer on this earth, belies that proposition. The innocent have as much to fear as the guilty, if not more so.

Arguably, there are places in this country that God and government forgot, that resemble the Wild West. Arguably, there are places in this country where violence and lawlessness run riot, where you’ve got to be tough as nails to survive. But tough as nails is not murderous. Lawlessness is not solved by making things more lawless. You tell people to bring you the head of Alfredo Garcia (the title of Sam Peckinpah’s movie), or that of Baktin, and mean it in the most literal sense, you add to lawlessness. You gun down suspects you presume to be halang ang kaluluwa, you join the ranks of the halang ang kaluluwa.

You do these things, you do not stop crime, you commit crime. You do these things, you do not stop crime, you foment crime.

In the end, you insist that in your turf there is only one law, and that is your law, you cease to represent law and represent lawlessness. You become a law unto yourself. That is worse than any crime that can happen in your turf. That is worse than crime itself. Despotism is worse than crime, fascism is worse than crime. Even a crime as horrific as the slaughter in Maguindanao. It’s another order of foulness altogether, it’s another order of viciousness altogether. We’ve had 14 years of martial law to drive home that point. We’ve had Marcos to drive home that point.

And now we have Duterte to drive home that point. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely: Let us never forget that. Look at Duterte and be scared.

Be very, very scared.

Sam Miguel
07-17-2013, 10:23 AM
Scary

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:43 pm | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

It’s just another day in the life of Davao City. Cops have just gunned down suspected kidnappers.

The rubout was captured on video, which was shown on ABS-CBN. The grainy footage showed a uniformed policeman aiming a rifle at a man and shooting him. The man had his hands clasped behind his head and was behind the wheel of an SUV. The execution was witnessed by five other cops who had surrounded the vehicle. After the shooting, a man in civilian clothes put an object near the vehicle.

“That’s clear murder,” said Etta Rosales, human rights chair, upon seeing the video. It could be the understatement of the month. A year would be too long given the number of things that lend themselves to understatements in Rodrigo Duterte’s city.

Earlier, the Davao City police department reported killing three kidnappers in a gunfight while rescuing their captive. The kidnappers had apparently kidnapped the victim, a businesswoman, in Manila and brought her to the south. The video refuted their claims.

Duterte himself was unfazed and defended his force, daring critics to go to court. “Don’t crucify the police for doing their duty,” he said on radio. Some days earlier, he had warned kidnappers: “You will leave Davao City vertically or horizontally—that is your choice.”

Saying, and doing, these things are not new to him. In October last year, pissed off by the fact that carjacking suspect Ryan Yu alias “Baktin” had refused to surrender to him, he issued this offer to prospective bounty hunters: “Two million ako kapag buhay si Ryan. Kapag pinatay ninyo, four million yan. Pag dinala ninyo ang ulo, balutin lang ninyo sa dry ice, dagdagan ko ng one million sa campaign funds … so it’s five million.” (I’m good for P2 million if you capture Ryan alive, P4 million if you kill him. You bring me his head in—just wrap it in dry ice—I’ll throw in another million from my campaign funds.)

When Rosales, and a shocked public, remonstrated with him for the barbarism, he replied: “Do not castrate the government. That will make us impotent to fight crime. Do not do that to my city.”

This is the quality of mind of the person who proposes to rid this world, or Davao City, of crime. Duterte’s murderous antics have gone on long enough and it’s time we stopped it. Hell, it’s time we brought him to court. That is stopping crime.

Let us be clear: We know kidnapping and robbery, rape and pillage, murder and mayhem run riot in this country and have created a culture of impunity, criminals being free to ply their vicious trade in broad daylight. We know the law is often not just powerless to stop them but powerful enough to aid them in what they do, or allow them to go free once they are caught. We know we need to do something about this, our levels of desperation increasing each time we see a cut-and-dried case like the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao wreaked by the Ampatuans managing to befuddle the courts.

None of these justifies Duterte’s methods. None of these excuses Duterte’s own crimes. “Excesses” is far too pale, or benign, a word to describe what he does. This is a way of stopping crime that is worse than the original crimes. Hell, this is a way of stopping crime that is worse than crime itself.

At the very least, that is so because it reposes the discernment of guilt among a group of people whose capacity to discern is as suspect as the guilt of their suspects. It reposes the determination of punishment among a group of people who have only one punishment for various crimes, for various levels of participation in a crime, which is death. Are you willing to put your life in the hands of a man who regards any protest against soliciting the aid of bounty hunters to deliver suspects dead or alive, whole or headless, as castrating the government? Are you willing to put your life in the hands of a man who regards public outrage over the cold-blooded execution of suspects as crucifying the police?

If you’re innocent, they tell you, you have nothing to fear. Well, the fact that whoever took the video of the rubout is unknown, prefers to remain unknown, and must remain unknown or relocate elsewhere if he plans to linger a little longer on this earth, belies that proposition. The innocent have as much to fear as the guilty, if not more so.

Arguably, there are places in this country that God and government forgot, that resemble the Wild West. Arguably, there are places in this country where violence and lawlessness run riot, where you’ve got to be tough as nails to survive. But tough as nails is not murderous. Lawlessness is not solved by making things more lawless. You tell people to bring you the head of Alfredo Garcia (the title of Sam Peckinpah’s movie), or that of Baktin, and mean it in the most literal sense, you add to lawlessness. You gun down suspects you presume to be halang ang kaluluwa, you join the ranks of the halang ang kaluluwa.

You do these things, you do not stop crime, you commit crime. You do these things, you do not stop crime, you foment crime.

In the end, you insist that in your turf there is only one law, and that is your law, you cease to represent law and represent lawlessness. You become a law unto yourself. That is worse than any crime that can happen in your turf. That is worse than crime itself. Despotism is worse than crime, fascism is worse than crime. Even a crime as horrific as the slaughter in Maguindanao. It’s another order of foulness altogether, it’s another order of viciousness altogether. We’ve had 14 years of martial law to drive home that point. We’ve had Marcos to drive home that point.

And now we have Duterte to drive home that point. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely: Let us never forget that. Look at Duterte and be scared.

Be very, very scared.

Sam Miguel
07-17-2013, 10:28 AM
^^^ Conrad, if I had to err on this issue I would err on the side of Rudy Duterte.

At least Duterte is an elected official who is not afraid to face the public shit storm, unlike the criminals who by definition operate underground and in darkness.

If I were in Duterte's shoes and in his own city I would rule in the exact same manner.

"Enlightened" and "liberal" columns make for good reading, but are useless as all hell in stopping actual crime. Your writing, Conrad, will not make citizens safe, will not make us bulletproof, will not make us immune to bladed weapons, will not protect us from the criminal elements.

All things considered, in a hostile environment, I'd rather be with Duterte than with De Quiros.

If all I had when I am confronted by criminals out to do me in, I'd be scared shitless if you, Conrad, were the one by my side.

Sam Miguel
07-18-2013, 08:31 AM
Eyewitness belies cops’ story of slay of rob gang leaders

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan and Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:48 am | Thursday, July 18th, 2013

“Were they killed because they knew too much?”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday asked one of several unanswered questions about the killing of two robbery gang leaders in police custody on Monday night.

Fifteen policemen from Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), including the regional commander, were sacked Wednesday for the suspicious shooting deaths of the two gang leaders.

Also on Wednesday, agents from the National Bureau of Investigation found a witness in San Pedro, Laguna, who contradicted the Calabarzon cops’ claim of motorcycle-riding attackers who tried to rescue their two prisoners.

Senior Agent Zaldy Rivera, of the NBI-Death Investigation Division, said the witness was on the crime scene minutes before the alleged ambush.

In separate news conferences Wednesday morning and afternoon, Director General Alan Purisima, chief of the Philippine National Police, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas announced the relief of the policemen after an outburst from De Lima on Tuesday over the killing of Ozamiz robbery gang leaders Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr.

First to talk to reporters Wednesday morning, Purisima said he had relieved Supt. Danilo Mendoza, commander of the Calabarzon Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG).

In the afternoon, Roxas told reporters that he had relieved Chief Supt. Benito Estipona, regional police commander of Calabarzon.

“He will be recalled to NHQ (national headquarters) pending this investigation,” Roxas said. “The moves of the RSOG were being reported to him directly. He should have known what happened.”

Roxas said he found the incident reports from the Calabarzon police and the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) “suspicious.”

“Instead of [clarifying what happened], the reports left a number of questions unanswered,” Roxas said.

Cadavero and Panogalinga escaped from prison last year. They were recaptured in a safe house in Dasmariñas, Cavite, last Friday and illegal weapons and explosives charges were filed against them.

Long route to destination

The RSOG was supposed to turn over the two to the Bureau of Corrections for incarceration at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City after a news conference at PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

But the RSOG officers did not turn over the two men to the prisons bureau. In front of the bureau’s offices, they changed vehicles and drove to their camp in Dasmariñas, supposedly to put the two men through a police inquest.

The RSOG vehicle carrying Cadavero and Panogalinga took a long route via Laguna province, where, in San Pedro town, motorcycling gunmen allegedly ambushed the police vehicle in an attempt to spring the two men.

While the cops were busy fighting off the attackers, the Calabarzon police said, the two men tried to grab their police escorts’ sidearms and were shot dead by the officers.

Eyewitness

Agent Rivera said the witness claimed that he saw two cars, a black Montero and a yellow Lancer, that blocked the road in the secluded area near the gate to the KC Golf Country Club.

In an interview with the Inquirer, the witness said he went up to the two cars, thinking that there had been an accident.

“But before I could get near, a man wearing jeans and camouflage jacket got off from the Montero, walked to the side of the road and stood there with a drawn gun,” the witness said.

The man ordered him to leave, as there would be shooting shortly, he said in Filipino.

“Get out of here, there will be shooting here,” the witness quoted the armed man as saying to him.

Blocking force?

The witness said he saw two other cars in the middle of the road 300 meters from where he was.

“I also saw the flash of headlights, which told me vehicles stopped in the middle of the road,” the witness said.

He said he was about to leave when a van arrived.

“I heard gunfire after the van arrived and I ran away and hid in my home,” he said.

The van was the RSOG vehicle carrying Cadavero, Panogalinga, and their police escorts.

Rivera explained that the vehicles in the middle of the road could have been a blocking force to turn away motorists.

Security guards at the golf club declined to comment on the witness’ account, saying it was dark and they saw nothing.

Fact-finding

A fact-finding team from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) went to the scene of the crime on Wednesday to reenact the alleged ambush, but a downpour did not make a restaging of the incident possible.

“We only conducted an ocular inspection of the site and the vehicles,” said Chief Supt. Henry Rañola, CIDG deputy director for administration.

Rañola said investigators had yet to get statements from the policemen involved.

De Lima demanded an explanation from the police and Roxas had ordered an investigation.

The sackings came as the investigation began Wednesday.

Roxas named Director Catalino Cuy, currently PNP head for personnel and records management, to head the investigation and fact-finding, taking over from the IAS and the CIDG.

Roxas also named Chief Supt. Jesus Gatchalian as Calabarzon police officer in charge.

The cops who were relieved were Senior Insp. Manuel Magat, Senior Insp. Fernando Cardona, Insp. Efren Oco; SPO1 Joseph Ortega, SPO1 Jayson Semacas, PO3 Ramil Gonzales, PO3 Marvin Mejia, PO3 Eduardo Cruz and PO3 Sherwin Bulan from the RSOG; PO2 Conrado Bautista, PO2 Exiel Reyes, PO2 Kristofferson Reyes and PO1 Ryan Rey Gado from the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB).

Not whole PNP

Purisima hedged when asked to comment on De Lima’s angry demand for an explanation from the police.

“I think she is not mad at the PNP. She is mad at the group involved,” Purisima said.

“We are cooperating with every investigating agency if we have to file the case. If we find out they are at fault we will not hesitate (to bring charges) and we will not even hesitate to dismiss them all from the service,” Purisima said.

He did not respond to De Lima’s accusation that the Monday morning press conference where the recaptured Ozamiz gang leaders were presented in Camp Crame was a mere show to set up their murders.

“That was her statement,” Purisima said.

Asked if he felt offended by it, Purisima did not reply.

He said the PNP called the press conference on Monday to show that law enforcers had finally caught up with Cadavero and Panogalinga, whom he described as notorious criminals.

“We are just making a statement that all criminals will eventually be caught by the long arm of the law. That incident was not predicted,” he said.

Purisima said the police team in charge clearly disobeyed orders to bring the two men to the Bureau of Corrections after Monday’s press conference.

Real story

“The order was for them to bring (the suspects) to the NBP and they brought them to Laguna. Is there a difference? I think there is, because Laguna is not the NBP,” Purisima said.

“The crime scene will tell the story, along with the medical examination of the personnel involved and the examination of the firearms used. These will tell the story. They can’t hide the truth,” he said.—With a report from Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Sam Miguel
07-18-2013, 08:35 AM
Rub it in

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:48 pm | Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

The circumstances behind the deaths of two criminal gang leaders in the hands of their police escorts, last Monday in Laguna, are an offensive cliché: the supposed attempt to escape, the alleged reaching after the police escorts’ guns, the reported swift and deadly reaction of the policemen. To use the language of the street: “Bumenta na ’yan!”

Really, it is a story that has been sold past its best-before date. Some law enforcers notorious for practicing the same kind of extrajudicial justice have gone on to serve in higher office, their exploits only the more popular of the many such stories about prisoners-killed-while-trying-to-escape-police-custody that attach to some law enforcers like an extra badge.

When the news spread that Ozamiz gang leader Ricky Cadavero and his companion Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr. had been killed while being transferred under police escort, mere hours after the two ex-fugitives had been presented to the press in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was right to feel “so alarmed.” She said: “I smell something fishy in the whole story because in the first place, why hold a press conference to show that they were turned over from the police to [the Bureau of Corrections]?”—when, that is, there was no such turnover.

That must be the first question the investigators from both the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation must ask: Why did the agencies involved—at this point it is not yet clear who did the organizing, whether it was the PNP or BuCor—call a news conference at the PNP headquarters? Acting BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu and Supt. Venancio Tesoro said they attended the news conference to receive custody of Cadavero and Panogalinga.

But: “General Estipona and Mendoza intervened and advised [us] that the fugitives be brought to their camp [in Dasmariñas City] for the necessary [inquest] proceedings.” In other words, Chief Supt. Benito Estipona, police chief of the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon region, and Supt. Danilo Mendoza, head of the Regional Special Operations Group, did not transfer custody of the two prisoners as the news conference had advertised.

“What is unusual there is that the fugitive should have been physically turned over to us at Muntinlupa. That’s the practice, and that was why we never expected that they would call us for that purpose (to accompany the police escorts) because they’ve been doing that since time immemorial,” Tesoro added.

Not only did Estipona and Mendoza fail to transfer the prisoners to BuCor, they also ordered the ex-fugitives and their police escorts to take a lengthier route.

An angry De Lima questioned the decision for the police convoy to take the longer and therefore riskier route: “… [I]f you’ve come from Dasmariñas, why go to San Pedro? The police can always go via the expressway but they went farther.”

It was in San Pedro, at around half past six in the evening, that motorcycle-riding gunmen allegedly ambushed the police convoy, leading to that overfamiliar scene: prisoners allegedly wrestling with police guards to get their firearms.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas immediately “ordered the [National Police Commission] and the PNP to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident and submit a report in the soonest possible time.” The PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, expressed deep regret: “As the chief and father of the Philippine National Police, I am saddened by the incident, knowing how hard we worked to locate and recapture those fugitives.”

Sensible first reactions, but both Roxas and Purisima must do more and put official pressure on Estipona and Mendoza to explain themselves. Why did they fail to follow the usual protocol? Why did they tell the BuCor officials only at the last minute? Why did they allow the convoy to take the longer route? And, yes, what happened to those alleged motorcycle-riding gunmen?

Unless Estipona and Mendoza can clear the air, the public will be justified in thinking, not only that Cadavero and Panogalinga were killed in a rubout, but also that they were killed because they implicated certain police officers. There’s no two ways about it.

Sam Miguel
07-23-2013, 09:40 AM
There’s the rubout

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:27 pm | Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Police chief Alan Purisima had some interesting things to say during his press conference last weekend. Reacting to a rash of media reports showing cops to have been involved in rubouts and sundry wrongdoing, he lamented the world being turned on its head. “With so many stories coming out, even members of the media are unwittingly being used because they are fed false information. The criminal is becoming the hero.”

He cautioned media to be careful because he had it on good authority that the drug lords were mounting a propaganda offensive. They were out to discredit the cops who had shown themselves to be especially effective in fighting drug trafficking. “They have all the money and power to do that. They have a lot of influence.”

True enough, there’s been a spate of stories of late depicting cops to exhibit unsavory behavior. One told of Cavite cops and prison guards springing Ozamiz gang leaders Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga from their cells in exchange for a bribe. The escapees were later rubbed out by the same cops. The rubout was witnessed by a couple of people who agreed to testify. The media later reported the witnesses as missing.

Another report said the cops who recaptured drug lord Li Lan Yan and his wife Wang Li Na pocketed cash and drugs from the couple’s lair in San Juan.

Before this, cops in Davao City were caught on video shooting someone behind the wheel of an SUV while he had his hands clasped behind his head. He was one of three people the cops gunned down in cold blood but reported killed in a shootout.

And of course earlier this year, cops from Calabarzon massacred a suspected gambling lord and 12 of his companions in Atimonan. The cops reported the incident as an encounter, but an investigation ordered by Malacañang showed the incident to be an ambush.

Except for the one about the witnesses to the execution of Cadavero and Panogalinga having disappeared, all these reports are true. In the case of the witnesses, the NBI knew their whereabouts all along but were just keeping it secret. The witnesses themselves, Leila de Lima says, are credible. As is the witness in Li Lan Yan’s arresting officers helping themselves to his cash and stuff. And as are the witnesses that showed the killings at the Atimonan checkpoint were not an encounter but an execution. As to the murders in Davao, there’s a video to prove it.

So how are the media being used by drug lords who are intent on ruining the good name of top cops? Where is the false information?

What makes Purisima’s remarks deeply worrisome is that they’re really just a variation of Rodrigo Duterte’s complaint, which is that when media report the rubouts, when Etta Rosales fulminates against the human rights abuses that these represent, when the public itself rises to protest them, they are siding with the enemy. They are emasculating law enforcement, they are making it impossible for cops to do their jobs. They are turning the bad guys into the good guys, they are turning heels into heroes.

You look at Purisima’s remarks more closely and you realize that he is merely concerned about cops being perceived as being on the take, as being bantay-salakay or carting away loot from lair, as being complicit in drugs, illegal gambling, and kidnapping. He is not particularly concerned about cops “salvaging” suspects. The former constitutes crookedness, the latter does not.

Like Duterte, he imagines that when people complain about cops “salvaging” suspects, they are being finicky, they are living in a fantasy world, they have no appreciation of the levels of viciousness in the streets which make things like this permissible, or even necessary. Like Duterte, he imagines that when people howl their heads off about rubouts, they are emboldening criminals, they are abetting crime, they are turning wolves into lambs.

Proof of this is his utter silence on rubouts. He says that today’s PNP is resolved to hew to P-Noy’s daang matuwid and will punish erring cops however high up they go. But he says nothing about “erring” including cops who “salvage” suspects. He says nothing about rubout being a crime unto itself, murder unto itself, reprehensible unto itself. He says nothing about cops who are caught executing suspects being automatically fired, prosecuted and where found guilty put away for a very long time. Indeed, his remonstrations with media for allowing themselves to be duped by drug lords is a defense of it, a toleration of it, a justification of it.

About time we drew the line on rubout. Its sheer plethora, of which the recent reports are but the tip of the iceberg, must suggest it is widespread, pervasive and routine. Purisima himself talks about the need to stamp out a culture of corruption among the cops, bad eggs having a way of spreading and spoiling the entire basket. He should start with rubouts. Rubouts are a huge part of that culture of corruption. You won’t find anything more corrupt, corrupting and corruptible.

Whether the cops who “salvage” suspects do so to avoid being implicated in their crimes—dead men tell no tales—or merely out of expedience or sadism or kursunada doesn’t really matter. The first merely adds another layer to the crime. The rubout is itself a crime. It foments and deepens and spreads the culture of impunity. A police force that executes suspects routinely is scarier than a syndicate that executes civilians who get in their way routinely. Power is the most vicious drug of all, it addles the brain far more violently than heroin or shabu.

Media turn cops into villains when they report rubouts? The public turns cops into monsters when it complains about rubouts?

Not at all. The cops who do this do a good job of it all by themselves.

Sam Miguel
07-24-2013, 09:18 AM
Dummy NGOs have fake addresses, says NBI

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:51 am | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

National Bureau of Investigation agents have so far failed to track down officials of dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly used by Janet Lim-Napoles to defraud the government of P10 billion in ghost projects.

NBI spokesman Cecilio Zamora said Tuesday the addresses provided the Securities and Exchange Commission when the NGOs applied for registration were “manufactured or nonexistent.”

Zamora said agents who were tasked to issue subpoenas to the 20 NGOs identified by the whistle-blowers of the state funds scam failed to issue the invitations because “the addresses of the NGOs were fake.”

“It’s either the address is nonexistent or if the address is correct the occupants were different,” he said.

Zamora declined to disclose the addresses of the NGOs involved.

He said that the heads and incorporators of these NGOs would be asked to shed light on the alleged P10-billion racket involving at least five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives who were said to have given access to Napoles to their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

Zamora explained that due to the nonexistent addresses, the NBI agents would have to track down the individual incorporators of the dummy NGOs.

A source in the NBI also said that fashion designer Eddie Baddeo had given a statement to the investigators on what he knew about the supposed illegal activities of Napoles, who has denied any wrongdoing.

The NBI is looking into allegations of the whistle-blowers, who are former employees of JLN Corp., owned by Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim, that the trading company had cheated the government of some P10 billion over the past 10 years by using these dummy NGOs.

JLN Corp. allegedly used funds from the pork barrel of lawmakers and various government agencies for scores of ghost projects.

These NGOs were supposedly the ultimate recipients of the state funds, but the money went to Napoles, according to the affidavits of the six whistle-blowers.

Sam Miguel
07-24-2013, 09:20 AM
PNP chief admits gang leaders’ killing a rubout

14 cops face raps in deaths of 2 gangsters

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:00 am | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

It was a rubout all right.

Director General Alan Purisima, the Philippine National Police chief, confirmed Tuesday observations that policemen intentionally killed last week two robbery-holdup syndicate members while in their custody.

Purisima made the confirmation as he announced that he had approved the administrative charges against a police superintendent and 13 others for the deaths of Ozamiz gang leader Ricky Cadavero and his henchman, Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr.

“I have already approved the precharge evaluation of those involved in the Cadavero and Panogalinga case because it appears in the investigation that there have been violations committed,” Purisima told reporters in Camp Crame.

He said an internal investigation confirmed that no firefight took place when the two suspects were killed in San Pedro, Laguna province.

The officers will reportedly be charged with grave misconduct which could carry a maximum penalty of dismissal from the service.

Supt. Danilo Mendoza, head of the Calabarzon (Region IV-A) Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG), three other police officials and 10 police officers who escorted the Ozamiz gang leaders on July 15 were suspended a day after the killings.

The Calabarzon police director, Chief Supt. Benito Estipona, whom Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had also relieved from duty, was spared from the administrative charges.

Others facing administrative charges are Senior Inspectors Manuel Magat and Fernando Cardona; Insp. Efren Oco; Senior Police Officers 1 Joseph Ortega and Jayson Semacas; Police Officers 3 Sherwin Bulan, Ramil Gonzales, Marvin Mejia and Eduardo Cruz—all from RSOG;

Police Officers 2 Conrado Bautista, Exiel Reyes and Kristofferson Reyes, and PO1 Ryan Rey Gado—all from the Regional Public Safety Battalion.

Purisima said he acted on the recommendation of the internal investigating team led by Director Catalino Cuy, PNP director for personnel and records management, who had pieced together what transpired based on evidence and witnesses’ testimony.

No firefight

The investigation revealed “that there was no firefight in the incident,” the PNP chief said.

Cadavero and Panogalinga were presented to the media in Camp Crame by Roxas and Purisima on the morning of July 15.

That night at about 6:30, they were killed in Laguna supposedly while on the way to the RSOG headquarters in Calamba City.

Their police escorts claimed Cadavero and Panogalinga were shot when they tried to escape as motorcycle-riding men fired at one of the police vehicles in a supposed attempt to spring the gang leaders.

Purisima said the two suspects were supposed to be turned over to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City (for inquest proceedings and incarceration) after the press conference in Camp Crame.

The RSOG brought the two men to the NBP where they changed vehicles and drove to their camp in Dasmariñas City, Cavite province, supposedly for an inquest.

Long route

The RSOG vehicle carrying Cadavero and Panolinga took a long route via Laguna province, where gunmen on motorcycle allegedly ambushed the police vehicle.

But a witness belied the RSOG claim that gunmen on motorcycle tried to spring the two men. The witness interviewed by the Inquirer on July 17 said he saw two vehicles—a black Montero and a yellow Lancer—that blocked the road in the secluded area near the gate to KC Golf Country Club.

The witness said a man in jeans and camouflage jacket stepped out of the Montero with a drawn gun and ordered him to leave as a shooting would ensue shortly.

The witness said he saw two other cars in the middle of the road some 300 meters from where he was.

Looking for motive

When he was about to leave, he said a van arrived and he heard gunfire. The van turned out to be the RSOG vehicle carrying Cadavero and Panolinga.

Asked if Cadavero and Panogalinga were deliberately killed by their police escorts, Purisima said: “It appears that way.”

The PNP chief, however, acknowledged that the PNP had yet to finish its investigation to find out the motive for Cadavero and Panogalinga’s deaths.

“We are finding out the motive, but we are conducting a thorough investigation on the connection of those involved,” Purisima said.

Cadavero allegedly had a number of policemen on his pay, according to the slain suspect’s sister.

Cadavero and Panogalinga bolted from prison late last year but were recaptured on July 12 in Dasmariñas City. They were slapped with a new case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Cadavero’s group was said to be behind the escape of two convicted Chinese drug traffickers in Trece Martires City, also in Cavite, five months ago.

NBI probe

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said the National Bureau of Investigation was expected to complete very soon its probe of the deaths of Cadavero and Panogalinga.

“I don’t know if they were able to get all the necessary evidence, but since they are really working on it quite seriously, then I expect that the resolution of the case won’t take long,” De Lima told reporters.

She said President Aquino, who mentioned the case in his State of the Nation Address on Monday, was “alarmed” at what happened as the incident came after the Atimonan killings.

Investigators found out that police officers and soldiers killed a group of armed men in Atimonan, Quezon province, and made it appear to be a shootout.

De Lima said the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding the deaths of Cadavero and Panogalinga “tend to show that it appears that there is a syndicate and it involves policemen.”

“Who is protecting that syndicate with Cadavero has the motive of silencing him,” the justice secretary said.—With a report from Christine Avendaño

Sam Miguel
07-24-2013, 09:22 AM
Cheating cops copy wrong test answers

By Niña P. Calleja

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:34 am | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Dishonesty in the police force lurks even at the outset of a prospective career in law enforcement, the National Police Commission (Napolcom) has found.

A total of 205 aspiring policemen and 20 rookie policemen in Mindanao cheated in the entrance and promotional exams given last year, the Napolcom announced on Tuesday. The agency is tasked with administering the tests.

“We don’t want dishonest cops to come in. We don’t want to undermine the credibility of the Philippine National Police. Who would believe the PNP if cheaters can be policemen?” Eduardo Escueta, Napolcom vice chair and executive officer, told the Inquirer.

Escueta said the results of the tests taken by the 225 examinees had been nullified after cheating became obvious to the agency’s experts, including copying ready-made answers—even the wrong ones.

The exams were conducted in various test centers across the country on April 29, 2012, and Oct. 14, 2012. These included current events, job knowledge, familiarity with the law and law enforcement.

Police applicants need a rating of at least 75 percent to pass the exam and qualify for the next tests, which cover psychology, medical and physical agility. If they pass all the tests, they will be admitted to a one-year training program at Philippine Public Safety College.

Every year, an average of only 20 percent of the examinees obtain passing marks.

Answer pattern

The Napolcom discovered the latest incident of cheating through a computer-generated answer pattern analysis. It regularly conducts the activity to prevent unqualified people from entering the PNP and maintain the credibility and integrity of the police exams.

The results of last year’s tests taken by 151 applicants on April 29, 2012, and 54 others on Oct. 14, 2012, were found to have a high percentage of similar patterns of wrong answers ranging from 50 percent to 100 percent.

A high percentage of similar patterns of wrong answers was discovered in the results of the April 29 tests taken by 20 police officers 1 (PO1).

According to Escueta, the “high percentage of homogeneity of wrong answers” is statistically improbable.

The results of the pattern analysis have also been regarded as “prima facie evidence” that points to an irregularity or cheating as cited in Section 4 of Republic Act No. 9416, otherwise known as the Anti-Cheating Law of 2007.

Sanctions

Those found to have cheated will be barred from taking the PNP entrance exams for three years, according to Napolcom Memorandum Circular No. 2000-007. The circular prescribes sanctions in case of cheating, collusion, misrepresentation, substitution or any anomalous acts in connection with the administration of the police exams.

“They could also be charged for dishonesty and be meted the penalty of dismissal from the service,” Escueta said. He even proposed a lifetime ban from taking police exams on cheaters.

The Napolcom official said the desire of applicants to become policemen was more intense in Mindanao than in other parts of the country. “Probably because they thought that getting a job in the police was easier,” he said.

“Now they learned their lessons the hard way. It was not that easy to cheat police exams,” Escueta said.

He noted that the number of cheaters had declined from 2008 when some 400 were found to be bearing kodigo (secret answer guide).

Escueta said the Napolcom was determined to weed out “anyone who undermines the sanctity and integrity” of the police exams.

He said those qualified to enter the police service must continue to imbibe important values, such as honesty, integrity and merit, and fitness principles.

Sam Miguel
07-25-2013, 08:21 AM
De Lima to ‘get back’ at CIDG raiding team for naming 2 witnesses

By Christine O. Avendaño, Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:40 am | Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday warned police investigators that she would bring charges against them for disclosing the identities of two witnesses who were under government protection.

De Lima also insisted that the operations in the killings of two robbery gang leaders in Laguna province and in the recapture of a drug trafficker and his wife in San Juan City on July 12 were related, contrary to claims by the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

“I’m not going to confirm the identities of the witnesses, but on the premise that they got the names right, I will get back at them,” De Lima told reporters, referring to Senior Supt. Jose Mario Espino and his team.

De Lima explained that under the witness protection law, those who disclose the identities of witnesses under government protection are criminally liable.

Assuming that the CIDG got the names of the two witnesses right, “why are they burning our witnesses?” De Lima asked.

She said she was standing by the testimony of the two witnesses, adding that she had no reason to doubt the witnesses’ credibility.

“I may be wrong, but I will admit it (as) my mistake. I am not afraid to own up to my mistakes. I am not afraid to take responsibility,” she said.

‘Prejudging’

Nineteen CIDG officers, sacked after being accused by two witnesses of stealing P15 million to P20 million and 80 kilos of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) from the house of recaptured drug trafficker Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy, called a news conference on Wednesday and lashed out at De Lima for taking the witnesses’ statements as “gospel truth” and for “prejudging” them.

Espino, the sacked chief of the CIDG’s Antiorganized Crime Division and leader of the team that raided Dy’s apartment in San Juan City on July 13, said he and his agents would bring perjury charges against the two witnesses.

“We were expecting a spot promotion. Instead, we were placed under a spot investigation,” Espino said.

“Worse, our enemies now are our fellow government officials,” he added.

Espino maintained that the CIDG officers did not find drugs and money from Li’s apartment, saying the two witnesses who were interviewed by ABS-CBN reporter Anthony Taberna last week were “lying.”

He also denied that the first man who spoke to Taberna was a policeman.

Criminally liable

Espino identified one of the witnesses as a security guard in the gated subdivision in San Juan where Li rented an apartment.

The second witness, Espino said, was a gardener in the subdivision who he said “moonlighted as garbage collector.”

The disclosure of the identities of the witnesses angered De Lima.

She found them

De Lima admitted that she had a hand in convincing the witnesses to testify, adding that the witnesses were earlier hesitant and afraid to come forward.

Asked whether reports were true that one of the witnesses was offered “livelihood” by the CIDG, De Lima replied, “True.”

Again, she asked, “Why are they now turning the tables on them?”

Told that the CIDG was sore with her, De Lima asked, “Why?”

“They will have the chance to disprove the allegations of these witnesses,” she said.

If the National Bureau of Investigation ignored “information of such a sensitive nature,” that would be tantamount to “abdicating or shirking its duty,” De Lima said.

Trying to discredit NBI

She said she had heard there were attempts to discredit the NBI in another case.

She did not elaborate, but she could be referring to the investigation of the killings of Ozamiz robbery gang leaders Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr. in San Pedro town, Laguna province, on July 15.

Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima admitted on Tuesday that the killings of the two men by their police escorts were a “rubout” and said administrative charges would be brought against the 14 policemen involved.

Charges coming

De Lima welcomed Purisima’s decision, and said the NBI would bring charges against the killers after its own investigation of the case.

Ferdinand Lavin, chief of the NBI Death Investigation Division, on Wednesday said the investigation of the case would continue despite Purisima’s admission that it was a rubout.

Lavin said the killings of Cadavero and Panogalinga and the operation against Dy and his wife were related, as the slain men allegedly helped to spring the Chinese couple on their way to a court hearing in Cavite City under police escort in February.

“The two cases are [related] and we continue to investigate the criminal aspect of the incidents,” Lavin said.

But Espino maintained that Li’s recapture was not the result of the arrest on July 12 of Cadavero, who he said was held by the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Aurora, Quezon) police in Dasmariñas City.

He also played down reports that Cadavero’s gang was responsible for the escape of Li and his wife and another convicted Chinese drug trafficker, Li Tian Wa, on Feb. 16.

“The men who helped (Li) escape belonged to a different cell of the Ozamiz group … who were also involved in kidnapping and gun-for-hire activities,” Espino said.

Contradicting the chief

Espino’s statements contradicted Purisima’s statement at a news conference on July 15 that Cadavero’s arrest led the police to Li’s location.

“Cadavero was the first to be arrested. That’s why we got the information (on Li’s location),” Purisima said at the news conference in Camp Crame hours before Cadavero and Panogalinga were killed by their police escorts in San Pedro, Laguna.

Espino claimed the two NBI witnesses made up the stories against him and his men because he failed to give them “additional reward money.”

The two witnesses helped the CIDG agents identify the Chinese couple, Espino said.

“We initially gave them P5,000 each as reward for helping us in carrying out the operation. But they asked for more when they learned that the individuals we had arrested were big-time Chinese drug traffickers,” he said.

“He (the witness) is not a policeman as what our good justice secretary mentioned. If he lied in claiming to be a police officer, then all his statements will be all lies,” he said.

Espino maintained that only 19 CIDG agents took part in the early morning operation, which he described as a “highly sensitive.”

He said he and 11 other policemen entered the house while the rest of the agents positioned themselves outside.

Espino said the security guard did not enter the house and could not have seen the arrest of the convicted Chinese drug traffickers.

Informants

“The security guard and the gardener were used as informants only hours before the operation … to confirm the identities … of the Chinese drug lords. The two were not allowed to enter the compound,” Espino said.

Espino said Li’s drug sydicate may have “recruited” the security guard and the gardener to discredit the members of the raiding team.

Espino said it was also possible that the syndicate paid off some members of the media to peddle lies against the team.

“We have also been investigating this matter on our own. We have already put together the pieces of the puzzle. Who are our enemies? It’s the drug sydicate, which uses money and not just guns,” he said.

“Their money has reached all levels of the government and even up to some members of the media. We all know that. Some of our enemies are also from the government,” he added.

Espino did not hide his resentment over De Lima’s statements, saying: “We’re really disappointed because she had already prejudged the case. She said what the witnesses were believable.”

“What if they were not admitted by the WPP (Witness Protection Program) because they lied? What will happen to us? Our reputation has already been tainted. Our families are already affected,” he said.—With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal

Sam Miguel
07-25-2013, 08:22 AM
De Lima refuses to meet new lawyer of Janet Napoles

By Christine O. Avendaño, Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:55 am | Thursday, July 25th, 2013

She may be counsel to celebrities, but Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will have nothing to do with her while her client, Janet Lim-Napoles, is facing an investigation of allegations the head of the JLN Corp. diverted P10 billion in pork barrel funds meant for poor farmers into ghost projects.

De Lima told reporters on Wednesday that it would be improper for her to meet Lorna Kapunan, the newly hired lawyer of Napoles, at this point.

Kapunan reportedly sought a meeting with the justice secretary to play to her a tape recording of an alleged attempt by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation to extort money from Napoles, who has been accused by at least six of her former employees of defrauding the government of billions of pesos in state funds over the past 10 years.

“I don’t think it would be proper for me at this point to sit down and talk to them. They’re the subjects of an ongoing investigation,” she said, adding that this might become an “issue.”

“Now if what they are telling is true, they have proper courses of action and I hope they are not doing this to destroy the NBI so that the NBI would be discouraged, harassed and be intimidated,” De Lima said. She said the NBI would not be cowed by Napoles.

“My instruction to them is to do their job, just continue with the ongoing investigations,” she said.

Taken out of context

Contacted by the Inquirer, Kapunan said that the report on her attempt to see De Lima was “taken out of context.” She added that she simply wanted “to express our cooperation with the NBI investigation.”

Kapunan said Napoles wanted to submit evidence “but not to the same NBI team, that we have evidence of trying to extort money from our client.”

She also said her client wanted to know the composition of the NBI team conducting the investigation. She said the Napoles camp would call a news conference to discuss the alleged extortion attempt.

The Kapunan law firm is the fourth set of lawyers Napoles has hired to represent her in her current cases involving the pork barrel funds. Her previous lawyers included the Palace-connected MOST law office formed by Lisa Marcos, the wife of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Edward Serapio and Joseph Tan. Ochoa withdrew from the firm after he joined the Aquino administration.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas told the Inquirer he had ordered the agency’s special task force division to complete the investigation on the P10-billion racket as soon as possible.

Thorough probe ordered

“We want you to focus on an exhaustive and thorough investigation,” Rojas said of his instructions to his men. “Other issues will be addressed separately.”

Rojas declined to comment on the allegations of extortion against NBI operatives. “We will address the issue when it’s there,” he said.

Rojas said the NBI was also waiting for the resolution of its motion for reconsideration in the Department of Justice on its decision to scratch out kidnapping charges against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim.

The two were accused of abducting and detaining Benhur Luy for three months after Napoles allegedly discovered that Luy wanted to start his own racket.

Napoles has denied any wrongdoing. She has accused Luy of taking out an unauthorized loan of P5 million and running away with P300,000 he was instructed to deposit.

Sam Miguel
07-25-2013, 08:24 AM
Wash it out

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:18 pm | Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

With unusual speed, the Philippine National Police has concluded that the deaths of the Ozamiz Gang leader and his henchman last week were probably the result of a “rubout.” PNP Director General Alan Purisima said administrative charges have been filed against 14 policemen implicated in the extrajudicial killings, including a superintendent.

“I have already approved the precharge evaluation of those involved in the [Ricky] Cadavero and [Wilfredo] Panogalinga case because it appears in the investigation that there have been violations committed,” Purisima told reporters on Tuesday—or less than 24 hours after President Aquino highlighted the case in his fourth State of the Nation Address.

The President had devoted a paragraph to incidents that continue “to stain the honor of our police force.” (The official English translation of the Sona offers a somewhat more literary version of the ritual speech. The paragraph in question begins with: “There are still incidents that sully our police force’s honor.” In the rest of the quote, below, we follow a more colloquial reading.)

“We must all have heard about what happened to the members of the Ozamiz Gang, Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga: They were arrested, but ended up dead. Like the investigation we conducted into what happened in Atimonan, we will make sure that those policemen or whoever were involved here will be made to answer—no matter how high their ranks are. Whoever are the masterminds here: Get ready. I am close to finding out who all of you are.”

The President’s language suggests that he had been recently briefed by Purisima or Interior Secretary Mar Roxas about the status of the internal investigation that the PNP conducted (which is separate from the inquiry launched by the National Bureau of Investigation, on orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima). It also suggests that he now considers the official response to the Jan. 6 incident in Atimonan, Quezon—the deliberate ambush at an improvised checkpoint of alleged leaders and protectors of an illegal gambling syndicate, resulting in 13 deaths—a benchmark to measure future inquiries by.

From the start, the Ozamiz Gang escape-try story raised suspicions. Only a few hours after being presented by both Roxas and Purisima at a Camp Crame news conference on July 15, Cadavero and Panogalinga were killed in San Pedro, Laguna. The police escorts claimed that the two had tried to grab their firearms, after their convoy came under attack from unknown motorcycle-riding gunmen.

Even before a witness came out (and sources inside Camp Crame began talking), the details of the story already seemed hard to credit. Why were the two criminals brought out of Camp Crame after the news conference by the same police escorts, when they were brought there precisely to be turned over to the Bureau of Correction? Why were they brought all the way to Laguna, when protocol dictates that the inquest proceedings take place in the Muntinlupa penitentiary?

Those questions tell us why the PNP has filed administrative charges against those implicated in the incident. In Purisima’s words, “there have been violations committed.” But if the witness who saw the police set up a barricade in San Pedro—which later turned out to be the exact spot where Cadavero and Panogalinga were killed—is telling the truth, then administrative charges are not enough. If the sources in Camp Crame who call for an investigation into the manner in which the van carrying the two criminals were hit by gunfire are telling the truth, that police firearms were used, then administrative charges cannot be enough.

The real question is: Why were the gang leader and his henchman, who had previously escaped but were recaptured only recently, killed after a high-profile news conference featuring no less than the chief of the PNP and his civilian boss?

The real sullying of the honor of our police force is done by those police officers who serve as protectors or partners of criminal syndicates. To wash out the Ozamiz Gang stain, multiple murder charges similar to those filed in the Atimonan 13 case must be brought against everyone involved—no matter how high their ranks are.

Sam Miguel
07-26-2013, 09:02 AM
Lapid pork used in scam

P20M went to questionable projects in 4 towns

By Kirstin Bernabe, Maricar Cinco

Inquirer Southern Luzon

12:08 am | Friday, July 26th, 2013

(First of two parts)

A sixth senator has been implicated in the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds, but this time, no bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) were involved.

Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid provided P5 million from his pork, formally called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), in 2011 for the purchase of “antidengue innoculants” to Polillo town in Quezon province, although there was no reported case of dengue fever in the municipality that year.

Five million pesos also went to each of the towns of Teresa, Baras, and Pililla in Rizal province, for a total of P20 million.

The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into a P10-billion scam allegedly carried out by Janet Lim-Napoles through dummy NGOs and “ghost” projects involving pork barrel funds coming from five senators—Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gregorio Honasan II—and 23 members of the House of Representatives.

The racket was the subject of a series of Inquirer reports, which prompted calls among lawmakers for the abolition of the pork barrel. The Aquino administration, however, has allocated P27 billion for the PDAF in its proposed national budget next year.

Lapid did not answer calls to his two mobile phones on Thursday when the Inquirer sought him for comment on the use of his PDAF. But his chief legal officer, lawyer Filmer Abrajano, said the pork-funded projects in the four towns were legitimate and had been included on the online list of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Those are on the DBM website,” Abrajano said by phone. The Inquirer checked the website but did not find the projects among the Senate’s PDAF-funded projects from 2010 to 2013.

Lapid’s PDAF totaled P50 million in 2010, P100 million in 2011, P200 million in 2012, and P100 million in 2013.

Fund release

Upon the senator’s request, the DBM issued Special Allotment Release Order G-11-01999 on Dec. 13, 2011, for P20 million to be divided equally to Polillo, Teresa, Pililla and Baras. The order was signed by Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.

In a letter dated Dec. 19, 2011, Abrajano informed then Polillo Mayor George Verzosa about the fund release as per the local official’s “funding request” for the purchase of “effective microorganisms probiotics microbial innoculant for antidengue.”

It could not be ascertained at press time if Verzosa actually requested the funding. The Inquirer has been trying to reach him through his mobile phone, but he hasn’t returned the calls or replied to text messages.

“There were no recorded dengue cases in Polillo in 2010 and 2011 … There was one in 2012,” municipal health officer Dr. Michael Caampued told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “I was not requesting anything. We do not need any antidengue solution [at that time].”

Ironically, Caampued’s signature appeared on the purchase request for the solutions, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer. When Verzosa informed him about the delivery of the solutions, the health officer told him in Filipino that the mixture was not needed if it was meant only to prevent or control a dengue outbreak.

Larvicide?

In January 2012, documents explaining the nature of the solutions were presented to Caampued. Somehow he was convinced that it could benefit the community after finding that it could also act as a larvicide.

“For as long as it is a larvicide, it can be acceptable,” he said, noting Polillo’s major health concerns involving mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and filariasis.

Upon signing the purchase request, Caampued put his confidence in the municipal bids and awards committee (BAC), expecting that it would make sure that the chemical mixture was tested and certified by the Food and Drug Administration.

On bidding day on Jan. 31, 2012, municipal officials were stunned that the truck carrying 7,142 liters of “antidengue innoculants” in 320 plastic containers was already at the site. “That was one of our main questions. Why was the truck already there on the very day of the bidding?” Councilor Romel Calzado said.

Innsbruck International Trading, which listed its address at Sitio Maislap, Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal, was the sole bidder, Calzado said. The firm is reportedly headed by Victoria Tolentino.

No FDA certification

According to the supplier’s primer, the antidengue solution or EMP “is a microbial-based solution composed of lactic acid bacteria, plant hormones and enzymes from secondary microbial metabolism.”

“Everyday applications of EMP include deodorization and sanitizing of animal pens, urines and feces, sanitary landfills, transfer stations, wet markets, public toilets and latrines and bio-remediation of polluted waterways, canals and sewers,” it said.

But the primer said “[EMP technology] prevents hatching of insect eggs into larvae, thus preventing the spread of insect-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, yellow fever, epidemic typhus, onchcerciasis, filariasis, dracunculiasis and sleeping sickness.”

“ promotes the proliferation of other beneficial microorganisms in the environment, like Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that kills the larval stage of most insects like flies and mosquitoes.”

Caampued said the containers were poorly labeled and the delivery did not follow standard procedures. No expiry date was stamped on the containers and no FDA certification number was indicated. An ingredient list of chemical contents was not printed on the sticker.

Products rejected

It was the missing product information, as well as the lack of chemical testing and prior training in the proper storage and usage that prompted the health officer to reject the shipment.

Caampued said he told Innsbruck’s representative in the bidding, Rolly Tolentino, that he was withholding the use of the chemical and that he was not signing the legal acceptance of the delivery until the chemical content is verified and prior training is provided.

On April 17, 2012, Caampued formally raised his concern through a letter to the supplier. “We have to be sure of the content by conducting a series of chemical tests because this may cause an ecological imbalance.”

An ecological disruption can affect not only the people of Polillo but also the rich but threatened biodiversity of Polillo Island, he said.

Innsbruck has not yet complied with the conditions. Hence, the chemical solutions remain idle inside a locked warehouse at the back of the municipal hall.

No supporting documents

In a letter dated Feb. 27, 2012, the municipal accountant wrote Verzosa that a number of supporting documents that came with the disbursement voucher was invalid and others were missing. The accountant cited, among other things, that the “financial statements and income tax return are not stamped received by the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue)” and that the inspection and acceptance report were unsigned.

But on the same day, BAC chair Samuel Sardua issued a certification saying that he was taking full responsibility and accountability for securing the lacking documents so that “the municipal accountant [can] process and facilitate the payment of [the] contract.”

The disbursement voucher was issued the following day, Feb. 28, 2012. A check for P4,775,426.88 was already with Innsbruck on Feb. 29, 2012, based on an “official receipt” issued by the company.

In retrospect, Sardua said he should have thought about the certification first. “Perhaps because I was doing and signing so many things, I could have signed the certification,” he said.

The Inquirer and the fact-finding team of recently elected municipal officials could not reach Innsbruck through the telephone number printed on its receipt.

No procurement

When asked about Innsbruck, Lapid’s chief legal officer Abrajano said the senator and his office did not know the company that supposedly implemented his pork-funded projects. “We are involved in the identification of recipients among local governments. But we are not involved in the procurement. That’s the process,” he said.

He said the senator gets “numerous requests” for projects and these are granted after a validation process.

Lapid, he said, “does not personally know the mayors.”

Asked if the senator’s office has validated the implementation of the projects through field checks, Abrajano said: “They (mayors) write us to thank us for the projects.”

Local governments that receive the projects, he said, were subject to the government’s auditing process.—[I]With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

Sam Miguel
07-26-2013, 09:05 AM
COA uncovers P66M pork scam at DOTC

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:31 am | Friday, July 26th, 2013

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has failed to account for roughly P66 million worth of computers and equipment bankrolled by pork barrel funds of nine lawmakers led by former Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor Jr.

In its report released Thursday on DOTC’s performance and financial transactions in 2011, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted “deficiencies” in the agency’s procurement of information technology (IT) equipment using the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of the members of the House of Representatives.

The COA specifically questioned the lack of official documents showing that the 762 donated computers were indeed received by the barangays (villages), schools and municipalities and DOTC’s decision to drop the computer purchases from its books without resolving questions on their delivery.

In one of its findings, the COA said only one person, who was not even the user or beneficiary, signed invoice receipts of property (IRP) involving more than 500 sets of IT equipment. It said the serial numbers of the computers did not match the IRPs.

“The deficiencies noted understated the recorded equipment of the national government and the accountability and responsibility over the unrecorded or unbooked equipment were not completely fixed and established,” it said.

The report covered DOTC’s operations in 2011 when the agency was led by Jose “Ping” de Jesus (June 2010 to July 2011) and Manuel Roxas II (July 2011 to October 2012). The DOTC is currently headed by Secretary Joseph Abaya.

The bulk of the donations was made by Defensor, who allocated P49.25 million of his pork barrel to purchase 500 computers (or P100,000 each) for 37 barangays in the third district of Quezon City. Defensor, as chair of the committee on justice, was the main figure behind the rejection of attempts to impeach then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Other lawmakers

The other eight lawmakers tagged by the COA were former Representatives Victor E. Agbayani of Pangasinan (40 sets worth P3.999 million), Rene Velarde of Pampanga and Albert Garcia of Bataan (combined 30 sets worth P2.999 million), Jesus Crispin Remulla (30 sets worth P2.999 million), Darlene R. Antonio-Custodio of General Santos (51 sets worth P1.966 milion), Fredenil H. Castro of Capiz (40 sets worth P1.982 million), Junie Evangelista Cua of Quirino (16 sets worth P589,824.00), and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (55 sets P1.969 million).

In a phone interview, Remulla denied having allocated part of his pork barrel to donate computers for the DOTC program and that he doubted whether the funds used for the computers came from pork barrel funds.

“I think that since most of the so-called donors worked on major committees involved in the budget process, these funds were probably ‘accommodations’ from the agency for our work. I think the COA should have verified with us whether we allocated our pork barrel funds for this project. The COA should have presented us with papers that we signed attesting to these pork barrel releases before making this report to avoid misleading the public,” Remulla said.

He pointed out that six of the lawmakers identified by COA—Defensor, Agbayani, Velarde, Custodio, Castro and Cua—had stepped down after the 14th Congress in July 2010. Remulla and Garcia left after the end of the 15th Congress.

Remulla said that lawmakers did not hold the pork barrel funds but merely directed government agencies where to spend them. He said that in this case, the COA report itself pinned the blame for the missing computers on the DOTC for not making sure whether the computers were purchased and delivered.

The COA said that based on its recommendations, the DOTC management had already asked the various agency-beneficiaries to submit their documents before dropping the computer purchases from the department’s books.

These records are necessary to “fix and establish accountability and responsibility in safeguarding the equipment against misuse or possible loss,” the COA said.

Sam Miguel
07-26-2013, 09:06 AM
Murder raps filed vs 2 cops in rubout

By DJ Yap

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:01 am | Friday, July 26th, 2013

It was well planned but the cover story was shot full of holes.

The killings of two Ozamiz robbery gang leaders in police custody last week appeared to have been well planned, but a weak link in the plan gave way and yesterday the police brought murder charges against two of the 14 officers involved.

The killings highlighted the huge problems of the 150,000-strong police force, widely considered one of the most corrupt government agencies in the country.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said the investigation of the July 15 murders of Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr. was continuing to determine if other policemen involved also conspired to kill the two convicted gang leaders.

During the investigation, however, one of the policemen told the true story, including his own participation in faking evidence of the supposed attack on the police vehicle.

Roxas said the investigation was still in progress.

“We will not spare anyone. There will be no cover-up and no whitewash here,” he said.

Roxas said the masterminds and the motive for the killings, “whether it was to silence anyone or whatever,” were still not known.

“The point is these two men were shot while in the custody of the police and the first story the policemen gave us was false,” he said.

Asked why only two officers were charged, Roxas said he did not wish to preempt the gathering of evidence.

“The point here is that some people are being investigated if they were part of a conspiracy and should be charged as principals to murder. You need first to prove conspiracy. The crime of one is the crime of all,” he said.

Citing the results of a fact-finding probe by the Philippine National Police, Roxas said the shooting deaths of Cadavero and Panogalinga apparently at the hands of their police escorts appeared to have been well planned, bolstering suspicions of a rubout.

“Well, they had a cover story, right? But now it has been proven that the cover story is not true,” Roxas told reporters at a news conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Cop’s confession

Roxas identified the charged police officers as Senior Insp. Manuel Magat and Insp. Efren Oco, members of the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Aurora, Quezon) police.

The charges were based on the confession of one of the policemen who escorted the police vehicle that was carrying Cadavero and Panogalinga when the cops shot the two men, Roxas said.

Roxas said the earlier story of the policemen that motorcycle-riding men attacked the police vehicle in an attempt to spring Cadavero and Panogalinga was contradicted by the admission of one of the cops.

The officer who confessed also admitted that it was he who fired shots at their own vehicle, Roxas said.

The suspect had “admitted that he was the one who shot the right windshield and the front right wheel of the Toyota Hi-Ace van, meaning he was the one who shot at the Hi-Ace. It wasn’t true that (men on) motorcycles chased them or that a motorcycle rider shot at them,” Roxas said.

“He [the suspect] also averred that he believed that the gunshots that he heard coming from the rear portion of the van one meter away from where he was were the ones that hit Cadavero and Panogalinga. He did not notice anyone shoot the van from the outside,” Roxas said.

He said the suspect’s statement was the strongest evidence yet arising from the fact-finding investigation.

Roxas did not name the policeman, but National Bureau of Investigation head agent Ferdinand Lavin told the Inquirer Thursday that the “state witness” could be one of 16 policemen subpoenaed by the NBI for its own investigation of the case.

Lavin declined to say who the witness could be out of “respect [for] the results of the investigation of the Philippine National Police.”

He said Magat and Oco appeared at the NBI Thursday to submit their statements, “the same documents submitted to the PNP.”

Cadavero and Panogalinga, who were facing illegal weapons and explosives charges, escaped from prison last year, and were recaptured in a safe house in Dasmariñas, Cavite, on July 12.

Roxas and PNP Director General Alan Purisima presented Cadavero and Panogalinga to the media during a news conference in Camp Crame on July 15.

After the news conference, the RSOG cops were supposed to turn over the two men to the Bureau of Corrections for incarceration in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

The policemen drove to the NBP, but they did not hand the two men over to the corrections bureau. Instead, they changed vehicles and drove to their camp in Dasmariñas, supposedly to put Cadavero and Panogalinga through a police inquest.

Instead of taking the shortest route, the cops took a long route via Laguna province where, in a secluded part of the highway in San Pedro town, they shot the two men.

Then the cops told their story of the motorcycle-riding attackers and the prisoners’ attempt to grab their sidearms, forcing them to shoot the two men.

Cadavero’s mother welcomed the filing of charges in the case, saying the wheels of justice had begun to move for her son and Panogalinga.

“Thank you so much. We know we are moving toward justice,” Luzviminda Cadavero, said in a talk with the Inquirer by phone.

She said she hoped the high-ranking officials who ordered the killing of her son and his friend would also be prosecuted and punished.

She could not say, however, who the high-ranking police officials were.

Luzviminda Cadavero, a resident of General Santos City, claimed that her son was killed to prevent him from disclosing the payoffs he had made to police officers.

In an interview with the Inquirer last week, Cadavero’s older sister, Rosalinda Cadavero, said her brother told her by phone last December that he paid the “warden of New Bilibid Prison P500,000 and the jail guards P200,000 each to allow him to escape.

Cadavero, she said, paid off all policemen in Cavite for protection after his escape.—With reports from Nancy C. Carvajaj, Niña Calleja and AFP

Sam Miguel
07-26-2013, 09:08 AM
De Lima to CIDG exec: Name NBI agent protecting drug lords

By Christine O. Avendaño, DJ Yap

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:52 am | Friday, July 26th, 2013

Name names or shut up.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued the challenge Thursday to an officer of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) who claimed that three drug lords have a “protector” in the National Bureau of Investigation.

De Lima lamented that the attacks on the NBI by Senior Supt. Jose Mario Espino, the sacked head of the CIDG’s Anti-Organized Crime Division (AOCD), were “getting out of hand.”

Espino said that some NBI agents were protecting Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy, just a day after he claimed that the two NBI witnesses who claimed that his men had taken money and drugs from Dy were lying.

“I challenged them (CIDG) to name them now, as in now!” De Lima told reporters, shortly after she met with NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas in her office at the Department of Justice.

In this way, she said she would “immediately summon” the concerned NBI agents so she could confront them on Espino’s allegations. “Otherwise, they should shut up,” De Lima said of Espino.

De Lima said she planned to talk to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas about the PNP-CIDG tirades against the NBI, which is under her office.

On Wednesday, De Lima was angered by the CIDG when they identified two NBI witnesses in the Dy case, saying the police unit was liable for violating the confidentiality provision of the Witness Protection Program.

De Lima stood by the two witnesses’ testimony and wondered why the CIDG was “burning our witnesses.”

Espino, for his part, expressed disappointment on De Lima’s statement that she found the testimony of the two witnesses to be believable, thus prejudging the case against the CIDG.

The CIDG’s tirades against the NBI came shortly after De Lima lashed out at and demanded an explanation from the CIDG when Ozamiz robbery-holdup leader Ricky Cadavero and his henchman, Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr., ended up dead on July 15 in the hands of their police escorts.

De Lima had asked why the CIDG did not turn over then newly recaptured Cadavero and Panogalinga to the Bureau of Corrections after it was announced at a news conference held by Secretary Roxas in Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters.

Turning the tables on his accusers, Espino said recaptured drug trafficker Dy and his wife, Wang Li Na, enjoyed protection from an NBI official, whom he did not name.

Chinese general’s son

Li Tian Hua, acknowledged as the biggest supplier of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in the country, also enjoyed protection, “being a son of a Chinese general,” he said without elaborating.

Espino said his team came to know about this when it was investigating Dy’s apartment in San Juan City ahead of the July 13 raid, which led to Dy and Na’s recapture.

Nineteen CIDG officers led by Espino were dismissed after they were accused by two witnesses of stealing P15 million to P20 million and 80 kilos of shabu from the house of Dy.

“When we were investigating and we were about to raid that 311 [apartment number], they really had an NBI protector in that town. Why, because the one who used to live there was a pastor and a lot of people would always knock on his door asking for alms. When Jackson transferred, other people still rang the doorbell,” he told reporters.

When a guard opened the door, a man alighted from his car, showed his NBI ID, and scolded the guard for allowing visitors to enter so easily, he said. “So the guard thought that those living there were big-time,” he added.

“They can ask that guard because he’s still there and he’s one of the witnesses from whom we got one of the intelligence reports,” Espino said.

He denied the charge that he and his men took millions of pesos and shabu during the raid, saying the operation against the Chinese couple and Li was a “focused police operation.”

No violation

He also took exception to De Lima’s statement that he violated the terms of the Witness Protection Program by disclosing the identities of the witnesses.

“First, I did not violate the Witness Protection Program because Section 7 is only applicable to those personnel who processed the application. As a [member of the] PNP, we are not privy to that application of their witnesses. So, I did not violate any provision of the Witness Protection Program,” he said.

Second, Espino said he sought to defend himself and his men when De Lima revealed that one of the witnesses had introduced himself as a police officer.

“So we conducted our own internal investigation and it turned out that [the witness] is not a police officer and not a member of the police operation. Which means what the witnesses will say are just lies,” he said.

‘Obviously lying’

In a separate news release issued by his office, Espino said the arrest of Li Tian Hua could have been the culmination of his team’s painstaking surveillance operation, but with the arrest of the Chinese couple, Li was moving to protect his interests.

“The entire drug syndicate is now on the offensive,” he said.

“Their focus now is to destroy and discredit the police unit and their operatives. They can easily do it as they have entrenched connections among law enforcers, prosecutors, judges and even the media,” Espino said.

He said the witnesses against his police team were “obviously lying.”

‘Concocted’

Espino described the allegations against them as “concocted fairy tales about police corruption, riding high on antipolice sentiment due to recent negatives reports about some members of the Philippine National Police.”

The media, he said, were “easy prey” for manipulation, “since it always want something sensational, and what can be more sensational than policemen accused of pocketing huge volume of shabu and millions of pesos?”

“After the false exposé, I and my men were placed in the ‘freezer’ and were stopped from monitoring the drug production, drug distribution and money laundering activities of Li Tian Hua,” he said.

Bigger than Dy

Espino said Li was believed to be “higher in rank than Dy and Na and has access to bigger resources and connections from top officials.”

“We were almost there to bust the biggest drug syndicate in the country, but the drug lords are now laughing at us and taking advantage of the inactivity of the AOCD,” he said.

Getting out of hand

On Espino’s latest attack against the NBI, De Lima said the situation was “getting out of hand” as she expressed dismay “why they are resorting to this.”

The justice secretary said Espino should just allow the NBI to do its “mandate,” and conduct and complete its investigation of recent “high-profile and sensitive” cases that included Li’s case.

“Please don’t throw mud at them (NBI) now because they have very important cases to investigate,” De Lima said.

Napoles angle

She reminded reporters that she earlier said that there would be attempts to sully the image of the NBI after its investigation of Janet Lim-Napoles was revealed in the media. The NBI said Napoles allegedly misused P10 billion in pork barrel of lawmakers by channeling the funds to bogus NGOs and ghost projects.

De Lima expressed hope at the time that the attacks against the NBI were not a strategy to destroy its credibility.

The justice secretary maintained that when she raised allegations of police involvement in the killing of Cadavero and Panogalinga on July 15, she was not accusing the entire organization but certain policemen who were involved.

“But what seems to be happening now is that the NBI is being targeted. Why?” De Lima asked.

She asked Espino where he got his information when he said that one of the two NBI witnesses had claimed he was a policeman.

“I never said anything of that sort. Neither did the witnesses say anything of that sort. The witness knew who he was and I knew exactly who he was but not a policeman,” De Lima said.

Rojas, who spoke to reporters after meeting with De Lima, also dared Espino to name the NBI agents protecting Li so that he could act on it.

“This is the first time that the CIDG has accused the NBI of such a serious charge, so we also want to know the truth. If indeed, there are NBI agents acting as protector, we will not hesitate to act on this immediately,” Rojas said.

Simple misunderstanding

Interior Secretary Roxas said the feud between the NBI and the CIDG might have resulted from a simple misunderstanding.

“I think it was only a misunderstanding of the statements that got blown out of proportion, and [some people] couldn’t control themselves [from speaking out],” he told reporters in a briefing.

“The point is the CIDG said they had been investigating Jackson Dy… so I ordered CIDG director Frank Uyami to prepare a report to prove that there was in fact a surveillance operation against Jackson Dy for three weeks, and that they were coordinating with other agencies as they did so,” he said.

He noted that the CIDG team had been insistent that the operation against Dy was not connected to the deaths of Cadavero and Panogalinga.

No feud

But when pressed later on to elaborate on the NBI-CIDG feud, Roxas said: “I don’t see any feud. I don’t feel any feud. Maybe it’s only the media that want to see a fight. For me, each agency is only doing its duty. Whoever needs to assume responsibility must do so. Whoever did wrong must be made answerable.”

“We will not spare anyone. We will only follow what’s right and proper. Our policy is very clear,” he said.—With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal

Sam Miguel
08-01-2013, 09:50 AM
Reverberations

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:51 pm | Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Many of the victims were visitors, convention delegates from around the country. Perhaps that is why the blast that shook Cagayan de Oro and killed eight persons and injured 46 others at a popular nightspot last Friday continues to reverberate. It struck—it still jangles—a common nerve. A week since the tragic incident, however, we still don’t know who did it, and why it was done. This silence from the investigating agencies is almost deafening.

Aside from those two essential questions, others also need to be asked. Here are three related sets.

First: Two days after the bombing, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas noted that the explosive “was really different because it did not have shrapnel… or metal parts like in grenades or claymore mines.” The physicians who prepared the autopsy report had not found any. “In other words, the bomb was not a mortar round or an artillery round, which was set off by a detonator, because no metal parts were recovered. It did not contain nails, glass shards or metal balls, which are usually placed inside a bomb to hurt people.”

Why, then, did the officer in charge of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, based in Cagayan de Oro itself, say initial investigation showed that a mortar round had been used? Perhaps we can attribute Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya’s statement to initial confusion. But where did his sense of certainty come from? “It is made of mortar but we cannot say what type of mortar, and the investigators are trying to determine if it’s a 60mm or an 80mm type of mortar and they are evaluating the fragments recovered,” he said the day after the bombing. Then he added, in a mix of Filipino and English: “This is the style we usually get from armed Moro rebels in the past, but it’s not fair to attribute this to any rebel group.”

Turns out it was not fair at all to declare the bomb was a mortar round; what was Visaya’s purpose in his passive-aggressive raising of the Moro scare?

Second: Early in July, the Canadian, Australian and American embassies issued adverse travel alerts, advising their citizens not to travel to any part of Mindanao. The US travel advisory included the cities of Davao, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro, even though these areas were seen as “generally more controlled.” It also noted that “US Embassy employees must receive special authorization from embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, including these urban centers.”

Did the perpetrators behind the July 26 bombing show up on the US security radar? While it is only right that the Philippine government should protest blanket travel advisories that cover inordinately large areas (“any location in Mindanao”?), it is also only prudent for the Department of the Interior and Local Government to reconsider the basis of the travel alerts and request the three embassies for a briefing.

Third: Despite Cagayan de Oro’s longstanding reputation for being safe, the heavy hand of violence has visited the popular convention city from time to time. Perhaps unknown or unremembered by many, two mysterious blasts shook the city late last year.

On Oct. 11, 2012, two bombs were found outside Maxandrea Hotel near Cogon Market. The second bomb was defused, but the first exploded, killing two civilians and wounding two of the policemen who had responded to the early morning call to investigate an unusual package.

On Nov. 21, a grenade attached to the door of a financing company exploded when the firm opened for business, wounding eight victims, including two policemen who happened to be passing by at the exact moment of detonation.

What has happened to the official investigation into these incidents? Even more important: Do they have any clues to offer about the July 26 bombing? At the time, sketchy reports suggested that the Oct. 11 blast did not involve mortar rounds either.

But even if the 2012 bombings have nothing to do with the big one last Friday, the state of the investigation into the incidents or the lack of resolution in the cases still bears important consequences. Are the police in the city up to the job (and deserving of the city’s enviable reputation for general safety)? Are certain groups using the traditional openness of the city to test new modes of attack?

The 2012 bombings quickly faded from national consciousness, in part because the victims were the city’s own residents. We hope that the national attention that is now focused on Cagayan de Oro will help solve the mystery, not only of the bombing last Friday, but also of the explosions last year.

Sam Miguel
08-15-2013, 08:50 AM
Napoles arrest ordered

NBI looking for alleged brains in P10B scam

By Christine O. Avendaño, Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:24 am | Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday night said National Bureau of Investigation agents were set to arrest Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother for the alleged serious illegal detention of Benhur K. Luy, principal whistle-blower in a P10-billion racket the businesswoman had allegedly masterminded.

De Lima said in a text message to reporters that warrants of arrest were issued by a branch of the Makati City Regional Trial Court against Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim who had allegedly detained Luy for three months until he was rescued by an NBI team last March.

“NBI team on its way to implement arrest warrant,” said De Lima. The offense is nonbailable, she said.

But Napoles was apparently tipped off because by 2:30 p.m. before the arrest warrant was issued, her lawyers were already observed in court, an informant told the Inquirer.

Another Inquirer source said the NBI had supposedly traced her whereabouts in the south of Manila.

The rescue of the 31-year-old Luy was prompted by a complaint by his parents, Arturo and Gertrudes, who said that their son had been detained since Dec. 20.

Acting on the complaint, a special task force of the NBI rescued Luy from an apartment owned by Napoles at the South Garden Condominium Unit, Pacific Plaza Tower, at Bonifacio Global City on March 22.

Upon his rescue, Luy, in an affidavit, said he had been working for Napoles’ JLN Corp., which he said had set up several nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to strike deals with legislators for the liquidation of their pork barrel funds.

De Lima, in a phone interview, said state prosecutors filed the case in court on Tuesday after Prosecutor General Claro Arellano reversed the dismissal of the case by Assistant State Prosecutor General Juan Pedro Navera.

Navera had initially dismissed the case filed by Luy against Napoles and her brother. The NBI filed a motion for reconsideration but Navera affirmed his decision.

In a separate phone interview, Arellano told the Inquirer that he ordered a review of Navera’s resolution. The review was conducted by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva who found probable cause to indict Napoles and her brother.

Arellano said when Luy blew the whistle on Napoles’ alleged involvement in the scam, there was a motive for her to send Luy on a “spiritual retreat” and restrain him there.

Luy said that prior to his detention, Napoles supposedly got wind of his plan to break away from the group. He said Napoles also confronted him about what she suspected were his personal transactions with the Department of Agriculture and was told to undergo an investigation.

He was then brought to Bahay ni San Jose in Makati City, where he was prohibited to use any means of communication. In the course of his detention, Luy said he was able to see his family only twice. He said his family appealed for his release, but this fell on deaf ears.

During the March 22 rescue operation, the NBI arrested Napoles’ brother Reynald Lim, who complained of chest pains and was immediately admitted to St. Luke’s Medical Center for treatment.

On March 23, the NBI recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) that both Napoles and her brother be prosecuted for serious illegal detention, or violation of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code.

On April 15, Napoles, in her counteraffidavit, denied all of Luy’s allegations. Napoles maintained, among other things, that JLN Corp. was in the business of trading goods such as marine supplies and equipment and construction material and never had deals with the government or its agencies.

Napoles said Luy was not her employee but rather her personal assistant who could conduct his own business.

She also accused him of taking out P5 million in loans from a savings and loans on her behalf but without her knowledge, and of pocketing P300,000 that she had asked him to deposit for her in her bank account.

On June 10, a panel of prosecutors from the DOJ recommended the dismissal of the illegal detention complaint after saying that it found that Luy had voluntarily stayed at the retreat house.

On June 25, Napoles filed qualified theft charges against Luy in the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.

On July 9, Judge Danilo A. Buemio of the Pasig RTC Branch 265 issued an arrest warrant for Luy in the case filed by Napoles. The offense was deemed nonbailable by the court.

Luy, however, remains free as he has been admitted provisionally into the Witness Protection Program, putting him under government custody.

Sam Miguel
08-15-2013, 09:57 AM
EDITORIAL

Archaic

(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 15, 2013 - 12:00am

When the country’s Revised Penal Code was passed 81 years ago, it included crimes such as “robbery of cereals, fruits or firewood.” It allowed a husband to get off lightly with banishment or destierro if he caught his wife having sex with a lover and killed both of them. If the husband inflicted non-serious physical injury on either of the lovers, there was no punishment. The same penalties applied to parents who killed a “seducer” of their daughter younger than 18.

The RPC also listed “premature marriages” as a crime, imposing a prison term and a fine of P500 on a widow who remarried within 301 days from the death of her husband or while still pregnant with the child of the deceased. The RPC, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1932, also refers to the use of lithographs and telegraphs.

People may raise their eyebrows at these provisions, but much of the RPC remains intact, although a number of the provisions in the law have been amended, updated, or expanded to respond to new circumstances. New laws have been passed to deal comprehensively with crimes listed in the RPC, such as those on graft and corruption, prohibited drugs and domestic violence.

After 81 years, the RPC is ripe for an overhaul. The House of Representatives is preparing to do this, noting that many provisions of the law have become archaic, including sections on penalties and culpability. The public had an idea of how archaic it is when a prominent tour guide protesting the Catholic Church’s stance against the Reproductive Health bill was arrested and jailed for a crime listed in the RPC under Article 133 as “offending religious feelings.”

While looking at the RPC, legislators can also review other laws passed decades ago. Laws must be dynamic, particularly in this age of fast-paced changes. Philippine law enforcement is weak partly because many of the laws that need to be enforced are no longer responsive to the times.

Sam Miguel
08-15-2013, 10:13 AM
P53M NGO deposits traced to Napoles’ bank account

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:49 am | Thursday, August 15th, 2013

The supplementary statement signed on Aug. 5 by four whistle-blowers, all former employees of Napoles, showed that the amount was withdrawn from accounts of the NGOs in the Metrobank branch on Magdalena Street in Binondo and deposited in the same bank in the account of the businesswoman. A copy of the statement was secured by the Inquirer.

In one day alone, on Nov. 12, 2009, a total of P39.7 million was deposited in cash from Countrywide Agri & Rural Economic Development Foundation (Cared) and deposited to Napoles’ Metrobank Account No. 073-3-07352390-8.

It was the most detailed account of fund transfers yet revealed in the current investigation the NBI has been conducting on allegations that Napoles had diverted P10 billion in funds from the pork barrel of lawmakers and government agencies to ghost projects of 21 dummy NGOs allegedly created by Napoles.

“The financial transactions showed that government funds received by these foundations ultimately ended up in the personal accounts of JLN or in her owned or controlled corporations, not to the intended farmer beneficiaries,” the statement said.

Some bank transactions on instructions from Napoles and recorded by Benhur K. Luy involved fund transfers from the NGOs “to specific accounts of certain government officials.”

The officials were not named, but previous affidavits said pork barrel funds of five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives were used by Napoles for the alleged ghost projects.

The affidavit was signed by Benhur K. Luy, Merlina P. Suñas, Gertrudes K. Luy and Annabelle Luy. The Luys are all relatives of Napoles, and her former employees. They were among six former Napoles employees who have blown the whistle on Napoles’ activities.

Benhur K. Luy, the principal whistle-blower, said that according to records he had personally prepared as he was tasked to do by Napoles, there were cash deposits and withdrawals from the NGO accounts that were deposited in the account of Napoles in the Metrobank branch during a nine-day period in 2009:

– P7,050,000 withdrawn from account of the Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. and deposited in the account of Napoles on Nov. 12.

– P5,050,000 withdrawn from the account of Agri & Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. and deposited to the Napoles account on Nov. 12.

– P3,100,000 deposited from the account of Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. (Amfi) on Nov. 12.

– P2,700,000 deposited from the account of Cared on Nov. 12.

– P7,288,000 deposited from the account of Cared, also on Nov. 12.

– P2,950,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 17.

– P4,100,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 17.

– P3,375,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 17.

– P1,075,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 17.

– P3,125,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 17.

– P3,800,000 combined cash from Cared and Amfi deposited on Nov. 18.

– P1,235,000 combined cash from Cared and Amfi deposited on Nov. 18.

– P1,000,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 19.

– P1,610,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 19.

– P700,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 20.

– P750,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 20.

– P1,500,000 cash deposited from Cared on Nov. 20.

The document said that to liquidate these funds, Napoles would instruct her employees, including Luy and Suñas, to prepare acknowledgment receipts from supposed beneficiaries, accomplishment reports and requests for the release of remaining funds and officials receipts.

“In summary, and based on our personal knowledge, all government funds received by these foundations were actually diverted from their intended purposes to the personal accounts of JLN and to her owned or controlled corporations,” the affidavit said.

Joescoundrel
08-16-2013, 09:11 AM
De Lima: Flight sign of guilt

By Christine O. Avendaño, Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:27 am | Friday, August 16th, 2013

“Flight is deemed an admission of guilt.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday drew this conclusion after Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim eluded a posse of National Bureau of Investigation agents sent to 28 known addresses of the siblings.

“It’s time for them to face the music and the full arm of the law,” De Lima said, adding that 17 NBI teams were tracking down the siblings.

“Somebody tipped them off,” De Lima said. “Didn’t she brag before that she controls the government?”

Anyone could effect a “citizen’s arrest” in this case because it is “imbued with public interest,” according to De Lima.

Following his rescue in March from three months detention, Benhur Luy, along with five other former workers of Napoles, has accused the businesswoman of masterminding a P10-billion scheme that channeled funds from state agencies and the pork barrel of lawmakers into ghost projects of dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) over the past decade.

De Lima told reporters that Napoles and her brother were now regarded as “high-profile fugitives.” She said there would be “no letup” in the manhunt.

30 vehicles

At press time on Thursday, De Lima said the siblings were “mobile” and “traveling to and from the National Capital Region,” apparently using some of their 30 vehicles, mostly luxury vehicles like a BMW and Cayenne Porsche, to evade arrest. She pleaded to the public to report any sighting of the two.

“If I were in her place, I would surrender and face the case and the other cases,” the justice secretary said.

De Lima was briefed by the NBI on the hunt since a branch of the Makati City Regional Trial Court issued the warrants of arrest for the detention of Luy, whom Napoles said had pocketed P300,000 he was told to deposit in her bank account and also had taken an unauthorized loan of P5 million.

NBI agents failed to find Napoles in her condominium units at Discovery Suites in Ortigas, Pasig City, Pacific Plaza Towers in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, residences in Dasmariñas Village and Forbes Park in Makati. In all, the NBI agents staked out in 28 known addresses of the siblings.

There had been reported sightings of the vehicles used by the two but these turned out to be “all negative,” De Lima said. “The instruction to the NBI teams was no letup in the search.”

De Lima said she informed President Aquino on Wednesday night about the arrest warrants against Napoles and Lim and that the Chief Executive expected the arrests of the siblings “as soon as possible.”

Hold-departure order

She said she had instructed the Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday night to alert personnel in all airports and seaports to arrest Napoles and Lim the moment they show up in any of these places.

“A warrant of arrest is effectively a hold-departure order,” De Lima said, adding the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines had likewise been alerted in case the siblings use a private plane to fly out of the country.

She said that those trying to hide the siblings would be liable for harboring fugitives and obstruction of justice.

De Lima said she was not surprised the siblings had evaded arresting officers, given their resources and connections in government. She said she would order an investigation into how the two got wind of the fact that they were to be arrested.

Told that she had announced to reporters the impending arrests, De Lima retorted that the Napoles lawyers were already in court even before the NBI agents got there to receive their directive.

“So why are you blaming me? Are you blaming me?” she asked. “It’s my duty to announce it, especially since some reporters were asking me about it.”

De Lima texted the DOJ beat reporter about the impending arrest. But already at 2:30 p.m., Napoles’ lawyers were already in court, observed an Inquirer informant.

She said Napoles’ lawyers had advance information that the charges against the siblings would be filed by state prosecutors.

Probe on scams to go on

With or without Napoles, De Lima said the NBI would continue its inquiry into Napoles’ involvement in the pork barrel scam and the alleged misuse of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund.

“If she continues to be in hiding, continues to be a fugitive, she is deemed to have waived her right to air her side,” she added.

De Lima also defended the decision of Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to approve the reversal of the draft resolution submitted by Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera to dismiss the motion for reconsideration earlier filed separately by the NBI and Luy on the illegal detention case against the siblings.

Arellano ordered a review of the resolution dismissing the detention case penned by Navera, which Arellano himself as prosecutor general had initially approved for lack of probable cause.

“It’s normal that the prosecutor general issues a review resolution,” De Lima said. “If he does not agree with the recommendations, they can come up with a review resolution.”

The 17-page review resolution dated Aug. 6 penned by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the NBI and Luy and ordered that Navera’s resolution dated dated June 10 be reversed. Villanueva also ordered the filing of a serious illegal detention case against Napoles and Lim in court.

Villanueva’s review resolution, which gave more weight to the testimonies of Luy and the NBI, held that Luy had been deprived of his liberty by Napoles and Lim “in the guise of putting him on a spiritual retreat.”

Villanueva said Luy was detained for three months and Napoles had knowledge of this because he was kept at Bahay San Jose, a church residence for priests with whom “she has close ties.” Lim was held liable for carrying out the orders of his sister. Villanueva said it was “highly improbable” Lim would act against his sister.

“The most damning link between the crime and respondent Janet Lim-Napoles is the motive behind complainant Benhur Luy’s deprivation of liberty. Consistent with our earlier finding that the deprivation was undertaken in order to prevent complainant Benhur Luy from divulging information on JLN Group of Companies’ involvement in the fertilizer fund, Malampaya and PDAF scams, it is clear that respondent Janet Lim-Napoles authored and/or orchestrated this unlawful three-month detention,” Villanueva said.

Report any sighting

After meeting with the NBI, De Lima provided reporters a list of the 30 vehicles that could be used by the siblings in evading arrest. She said she got the list from the whistle-blowers. Copies of the list were also given to the operators of the north and south expressways.

These vehicles include mostly luxury vehicles such as a BMW, Cayenne Porsche, Hummer, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota Alphard and two Ford F-150s.

De Lima said photos of Lim and Napoles would be posted in public places—mainly the series of photographs taken by the Inquirer during her visit to the newspaper last week.

The justice secretary said any information on the two could be reported to the NBI Operations Center, telephone numbers 524-1141 and 0917-5838612. With reports from Michael Lim Ubac, Philip C. Tubeza and Jerome Aning

gfy
08-16-2013, 07:43 PM
What I'd like to happen is for Napoles, assuming she's still alive (Sen. Defensor-Santiago is worried), to strike a deal with the Government and reveal everything, i.e. who are the lawmakers who got money from her in return (is it 60%?). I hope she has evidence to prove this.

Joescoundrel
08-17-2013, 08:15 AM
^ G, what sort of deal do you have in mind? Plea-bargain?

Joescoundrel
08-17-2013, 08:17 AM
CA freezes Napoles’ 40 bank accounts

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:57 am | Saturday, August 17th, 2013

The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday froze the bank accounts of fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as her lawyers asked the court to reverse her indictment for serious illegal detention and stop the enforcement of the warrant for her arrest.

The freeze order covers the bank accounts of members of Napoles’ family, those of her other relatives and of the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that she allegedly used to divert P10 billion in lawmakers’ pork barrel allocations to those bank accounts over the last 10 years.

In a text message, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed the issuance of the freeze order.

She said that through the Office of the Solicitor General, an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had asked the Court of Appeals to freeze Napoles’ bank accounts.

“The freeze order is effective for six months and covers accounts and related web of accounts of Napoles, her family members, other relatives and staff, as well as those NGOs identified with JLN,” De Lima said, using Napoles’ initials, which also appears in the name of the businesswoman’s trading company, JLN Corp.

The order, contained in a 36-page resolution signed by the chair of the Court of Appeals’ Second Division, Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando and its members, Justice Manuel Barrios and Justice Normandie Pizarro, covers at least 46 bank accounts.

Among the bank accounts are those of Napoles’ daughter Jo Christine, brother Reynaldo Lim and relatives Ronald, Jaime, Jeane, James Christopher and John Christian.

Also frozen were the bank accounts of JLN Corp. employees-turned-whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, and those of Luy’s parents Arthur and Gertrudes, as well as those of Napoles’ business associates.

The bank accounts of 22 NGOs and those of JLN Corp. and five sister companies and subsidiaries that make up the JLN Group of Companies, as well as those of their incorporators, have also been frozen.

AMLC probe

The National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman, which are separately investigating the pork barrel scam, have asked the AMLC to investigate the bank transactions and accounts of Napoles, her family and associates.

A Makati court ordered the arrest of Napoles and Lim for illegally detaining Luy, allegedly to prevent him from informing on Napoles and her corrupt activities.

The court recommended no bail for Napoles and Lim.

They disappeared before NBI agents could serve the warrant of arrest on them on Wednesday.

On Friday, Napoles’ lawyers asked the Court of Appeals to reverse her indictment and stop the enforcement of the arrest warrant against her.

In a petition for certiorari brought by the Kapunan Garcia & Castillo Law Offices, Napoles sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction against the DOJ and the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Named as respondents in the petition were De Lima, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, Makati RTC Branch 150 Presiding Judge Elmo Alameda, NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, Luy, his parents Arturo and Gertudes, and sister Anabelle Luy-Reario.

Asked about the petition, De Lima said the lawyers’ action was premature.

“I don’t understand why they would proceed directly to the Court of Appeals. I think that’s premature. Any remedy that they would want to seek, they want to avail themselves of, should first and foremost be addressed to the very court that issued the warrant. They cannot just proceed directly to the Court of Appeals. I think [the petition] should be dismissed outright,” De Lima told reporters.

Premature action

Asked about a reward for the arrest of Napoles, De Lima said the NBI had recommended a wait of 24 to 48 hours before considering offering a reward.

De Lima bristled when asked why the NBI was taking too long to finish the pork barrel scam investigation, with the Commission on Audit beating it by announcing the results of its own investigation yesterday.

“The COA had the case on their lap for two years,” De Lima said. “Why would you say that the NBI’s investigation is delayed? Questions like that sometimes I don’t want to answer. Aren’t there better and more substantial questions than that? With such a big case, you expect the NBI to finish that in one week? A little decency with your questions please.”

Grave abuse

In her Court of Appeals petition, Napoles claimed the DOJ and the Makati court committed grave abuse of discretion by yielding to outside pressures and hastily indicting and ordering her arrest.

Napoles claimed the serious illegal detention charge against her was filed by the government because it could not link her to the alleged scam involving lawmakers’ allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

“This is not a case that involves the controversial PDAF. This is a biased and baseless charge of serious illegal detention crafted to cover the seeming lack of evidentiary support to roll the wheels of prosecution against those suspected of being involved in the controversial PDAF scam. To date, no case has been filed against [Napoles] in relation to [her] purported involvement in the PDAF scam. This is a case of a poor fellow being thrown and fed to the lions,” the petition said.

Luy, Napoles’ former employee and the principal whistle-blower in the pork barrel scam, had accused Napoles and Lim of detaining him for three months.

Luy brought the suit to the DOJ after his rescue by the NBI in March. The investigating prosecutor initially dismissed the case, but it was reinstated on review.

In her pleading to the appellate court, Napoles claimed the DOJ “suspiciously” reversed its own earlier finding that there was no probable cause to indict her following her presentation of “overwhelming evidence” to refute Luy’s claim.

Public pressure

She said it was “clear” that public pressure on the DOJ to prosecute her in connection with the pork barrel scam was “prompted by the media that had already prejudged” her.

“The DOJ let down its guard and willfully surrendered to extraneous pressure and influence when it made a full reversal of its very own findings, even without the presentation of new evidence that justify such overturning,” Napoles said.

She added that the claims of Luy and her relatives that he was kidnapped were “merely based on bare, inconsistent, unsubstantiated and unbelievable allegations.”

Napoles said Judge Alemada “succumbed to the same pressure and influence, and hastily issued a warrant of arrest, with no bail recommended, immediately upon his receipt of the voluminous records despite two urgent motions for judicial determination of probable cause pending before [him].”

She said the Court of Appeals must stop the Makati court from conducting further proceedings while her petition was being heard by issuing a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction.

Petition for bond

Napoles also asked to be allowed to post bond to “answer any and all damages the [Luys] may suffer” should the court issue a TRO or a writ of preliminary injunction and later decide she is not entitled to them.

The DOJ filed the case in the Makati court on Aug. 7. Napoles and Lim filed motions for judicial determination of probable cause, aimed at convincing the court to nullify the DOJ’s indictment. Alameda issued the arrest warrant on Wednesday.

Napoles said the absence of a hearing and the “nonresolution” of the motions “cast a shadow of doubt” on the issuance of the arrest warrant and “lead to the conclusion that the process was truly railroaded.”

Sam Miguel
08-23-2013, 08:02 AM
9th whistle-blower vs Napoles surfaces

Witness claims she saw payoffs to lawmakers

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:02 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013

A ninth witness in the P10-billion pork barrel scam told the Inquirer Thursday she was present when Janet Lim-Napoles met lawmakers in high-end restaurants, where she handed them cash, and kept a “red book” of such transactions.

This latest witness, who declined to be named in public in the meantime, is now with the National Bureau of Investigation, which has been looking into allegations that Napoles turned allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of senators and congressmen into kickbacks of up to 60 percent.

Six of the whistle-blowers led by Merlina Suñas were present Thursday during the Inquirer’s interview of the ninth whistle-blower. They corroborated the new whistle-blower’s testimony.

“It was my job to go with her anywhere she went, so I got to see who she met and witnessed money handed to them,” said the 35-year-old woman who claimed to have worked as a close aide of Napoles, the fugitive head of the JLN group of companies, from 2009 to 2011. The eyewitness now works as a casual employee for a government agency.

The new witness also said that Napoles kept a red book that contained the names and amounts received by lawmakers who had given her access to their pork barrel funds, which were then coursed through dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and ghost projects.

Levito Baligod, lawyer of the whistle-blowers, asked the Inquirer not to name the lawmakers pending completion of this witness’ sworn statement. Earlier statements by the accusers said five senators and 23 congressmen were involved in the scam.

Benhur Luy, 31, a cousin and former Napoles employee, has accused the businesswoman of using pork barrel funds in a P10-billion racket over the past 10 years.

Luy said he was held captive by Napoles for three months after she suspected him of setting up a rival group to compete with her.

Napoles went into hiding last week after a court issued a warrant for her arrest, and that of her brother Reynald Lim, for the serious illegal detention of Luy.

Seven other former Napoles employees have corroborated Luy’s accusations, including two last week who refused to be named for security reasons.

Luy earlier told the Inquirer about the red book, but this was denied by Napoles during the roundtable interview with the Inquirer two weeks ago.

P65,000 ball pen

The ninth whistle-blower said dinners with the lawmakers were in expensive restaurants, like the Greenhills Stone Grill and Tsukiji in Makati City. She said Napoles asked her to buy gifts for the senators.

“One time she asked me to pick a ball pen, Montblanc, worth P65,000 from Rustan’s,” she said, adding she paid for it in cash.

“I had to pick up the ball pen the following day because it had to be engraved with the senator’s name,” she said.

The woman also confirmed earlier statements by Luy and Suñas about the bags of money placed in Napoles’ bathtub in the master bedroom of unit 18B North Pacific Plaza Towers in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

“I saw one of the staff get a bag of money from the bathtub and hand it personally to Kuya Dick,” the woman said, referring to a driver of a senator. Each bag in the tub had the amount it contained written on bond paper.

“When we are ordered to get money from a bag, we correspondingly write in the paper how much was taken out and then write our name,” she said.

The ninth whistle-blower also said that what Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan said about the names of those who had passed government board examinations being used as beneficiaries in ghost projects was true.

“My colleagues had difficulty coming up with names, so when they saw those board passers in the newspapers, they copied their names,” she said.

She also confirmed earlier statements of Luy and Suñas that Napoles’ drivers, maids and nannies were ordered to come up with names of fake beneficiaries.

Lawyer Baligod told the Inquirer that the ninth whistle-blower did not hesitate to come forward. “We looked for her and she willingly agreed to corroborate the earlier statements of the other whistle-blowers,” Baligod said.

Sam Miguel
08-23-2013, 08:03 AM
NBI set to file plunder charges vs Napoles; BIR probing her children

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:58 am | Friday, August 23rd, 2013

The National Bureau of Investigation is preparing plunder charges against fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles and several other people for allegedly converting P10 billion in lawmakers’ pork barrel funds the past 10 years into kickbacks under a scheme using ghost projects and dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was mum on Thursday about the cases that she said were being finalized for filing by the NBI in the Office of the Ombudsman. But a source privy to the NBI probe said a “most likely” case was plunder, a nonbailable offense punishable with life imprisonment.

Napoles, 49, president of the JLN group of companies, went into hiding on Aug. 14 after the Makati City Regional Trial Court issued warrants for her arrest and that of her brother Reginald Lim for serious illegal detention of Benhur K. Luy, a cousin and former employee.

An accomplice in the racket involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen, Luy blew the whistle on Napoles after he said he was held captive for three months. He was rescued by the NBI last March.

Napoles said Luy pocketed P300,000 he was tasked to deposit and made an unauthorized loan of P5 million. Luy said he was held hostage after Napoles learned he was going to compete with her.

Aquino’s order

The NBI began an inquiry into the pork barrel scam in May, but so far no charges have yet been leveled against Napoles, apart from the detention case.

Speaking to reporters, De Lima said President Aquino had directed her to file a case if she had strong evidence to back it up. “We can’t say who we will be charging other than Napoles until we file the case,” she said.

De Lima said the investigators had identified lawmakers involved in the Napoles scam but were double-checking the evidence. “We want to make sure that the documentary support is there,” she said, adding that bad weather the past three days had prevented early completion of the gathering of evidence.

82 questionable NGOs

She referred to a larger PDAF scam uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA), in which P6.156 billion allocated to lawmakers from 2007 to 2009 allegedly went to 82 questionable NGOs.

She said the Commission on Audit findings would be investigated by the newly created Interagency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council to be led by the Ombudsman. Members include representatives of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the COA.

Ten of the 82 NGOs that the COA mentioned were linked to Napoles and allegedly cornered P2.167 billion of the total amount audited.

BIR inquiry

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also has been looking into Napoles’s tax payments.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares told reporters Thursday that the BIR investigation would also look into the accounts of Napoles’s children and relatives as well as foundations. It would also cover any lawmaker linked to the scam.

Henares said that the NBI had provided BIR investigators a “good lead” on the fugitive businesswoman’s properties that would allow a close look at her income tax returns.

She said if media reports were correct that Napoles owned so much property “common sense would dictate that she, or her company, would be among the top 500 taxpayers of the BIR.”

Henares said the BIR would also look into the tax affairs of the NGOs in the COA special audit, “whether they reported the right income, if they paid the right taxes.”

“The question is whether it will lead to Napoles. I’m not certain. I’m certain it will lead to somebody and that somebody will be investigated,” she said.

Henares said no lawmaker was being investigated in connection with the Napoles case, yet.

Big names in politics

In a television interview on Thursday, COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan said the commission had submitted to the DOJ documents on its special audit on PDAF allotments from 2007 to 2009.

“From what I see, I think the case will prosper based on what the DOJ and the Ombudsman are doing. I can feel their earnestness and dedication and I know that they don’t have any sacred cows,” she said.

Tan admitted that the audit findings were “delicate” and “difficult” as they involved big names in politics.

But she stressed that she was standing by her auditors and their findings that was why the COA proceeded to make public its findings and even posted these on its website.

Asked about the possible connivance between resident COA auditors and local government officials, Tan said she had adopted measures to make sure the erring auditors are punished. She said the commission had enlisted regional directors to ensure the data submitted from the field were accurate.

Nothing new

Tan reminded legislators that it was against the law to put their PDAF into NGOs, corporations, and private projects where they have a pecuniary interest. She said this included foundations owned by or are related to the legislators, citing a Supreme Court decision.

She cited the graft cases against former Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta and Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo in the Sandiganbayan as proof that the practice of giving pork barrel to their own foundations was nothing new.

Tan also said the COA would proceed with the release of audit reports on government attached agencies and government-owned corporations.

Very soon, she said, the COA would release its audit report on the P500-million Jatropha biofuel project of state-owned Philippine Forest Corp. in 2011.

Sam Miguel
08-27-2013, 10:04 AM
Fil-Ams picket posh home of Napoles daughter in LA

By Nimfa U. Rueda

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:16 am | Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

LOS ANGELES—While thousands tramped to Luneta Park in Manila for the Million People March on Monday, about 100 Filipino-American activists held their own rally in front of the posh Ritz-Carlton Residences, where Jeane Napoles owns a unit.

The 23-year-old Napoles is the daughter of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who is being hunted by Philippine authorities for her alleged role in a P10-billion pork barrel scam.

The young Napoles had posted photos showing her jewelry, designer shoes and handbags and Porsche cars. Her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts have been deactivated.

Members of the militant Anakbayan-Los Angeles group waved banners and chanted slogans denouncing government corruption.

The ralliers chanted: “Napoles, come out and give our money back.”

In a statement, Anakbayan demanded that the Philippine government prioritize “the people’s needs and not (the officials’) own luxurious lifestyles.”

Referring to the pork barrel in the Philippines, the group said: “For too long, these discretionary funds have been used to fatten the pockets of corrupt politicians at the expense of our people’s welfare.”

Also joining the rally were members of the Filipino Migrant Center (FMC), which said the LA protest was part of an “international day of action” for the abolition of the pork barrel.

FMC said overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in Canada, Hong Kong and other parts of the world joined the demand for an end to government corruption.

A few kilometers from Ritz-Carlton, more than 200 Fil-Ams gathered in front of the Philippine Consulate to show solidarity with the protesters in Luneta.

At the rally, Los Angeles resident Grace Piñol urged Filipinos around the world to demand that those behind the scam “be held accountable.”

Piñol claimed she was privy to an example of corruption involving a senator. She said her niece was in charge of a project in Mindanao that had been allotted P2.5 million from the senator’s pork barrel.

“They only released P500,000 and pocketed the rest of the money,” she said.

Some of the ralliers came from as far away as San Diego, a two-hour drive from LA.

“I want to show those (corrupt) politicians that we are watching them and that we are united with the protesters back home,” said veterinarian Felix Lapuz.

Actor and community leader Bernardo Bernardo bewailed what he described as “mafia-style” corruption in the Philippine government.

“Something has to change and it has to happen now,” he said.

Art Garcia, spokesman of the United States Action Against Pork Barrel, said similar protest actions were also held in Fremont in Northern California and New York.

“I am also against government corruption. So is our President and I’m glad he has been making some headway in his fight against corruption,” deputy consul general Dan Espiritu said.

He said Filipino politicians should heed the call of Fil-Ams because they represented 4 million Filipinos in America.

Around 150 Filipinos gathered outside the Philippine Consulate in New York to call for the abolition of the pork barrel, a migrants’ rights activist said.

Filipino community leader Daphne Ceniza Kuok said many of those who attended the picket came wearing white. They submitted a petition against the pork barrel.

In their petition, the protesters said President Aquino’s announcement that he was reforming the pork barrel system “did not go far enough.”

“He should … get rid of the system that has allowed our politicians to dip their hands into the country’s coffers practically at will, while a majority of Filipinos suffer from grinding poverty,” said the petition, signed by around 200 Filipinos living in different countries.

The signatories included Filipinos in France, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

OFWs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai wore white in their workplaces as a sign of protest. Although mass action is banned in Saudi Arabia, Filipinos expressed their solidarity through social media by posting their protest photos.

Mass protests started last week in Hong Kong. The OFWs called for the prosecution of those involved in the scam.

Arlene Andes, based in Brussels, told Radyo Inquirer that the OFWs in Europe had also turned to social media to urge the scrapping of the pork barrel.—With reports from Philip C. Tubeza, Jocelyn R. Uy and Susan K of Radyo Inquirer

Sam Miguel
08-27-2013, 10:17 AM
Priest rents Napoles Forbes Park house

by Natashya Gutierrez

Posted on 08/21/2013 9:13 PM | Updated 08/24/2013 11:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A priest who advocates helping the poor is the listed tenant of Janet Lim-Napoles' sprawling property in one of the country's most high-end subdivisions.

According to documents obtained by Rappler, Monsignor Josefino S. Ramirez, now a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Manila, is renting 9 Narra Avenue, South Forbes, Makati City for P280,000 a month.

The two-year contract of lease was signed by Ramirez on March 7, 2013, although it says the lease began Jan 15, 2013 and will end on Jan 15, 2015.

The document also states that Ramirez "agrees to pay the sum of P1,120,000" upon the signing of the contract — P560,000 for two months advance rental, and another P560,000 for two months security deposit.

But it appears Ramirez had been staying at the Forbes property even before he signed the contract.

The property was acquired by Napoles in 2008, at the supposed height of the pork barrel scam.

Gertrudes Luy, a former employee of Napoles and mother of whistleblower Benhur Luy, told Rappler it was never used by the Napoleses as a house and had only been used by them as a place to hear Mass. Ramirez was its first tenant.

Luy was surprised when she heard about the contract since Ramirez, she told Rappler, is supported financially by Napoles. He is said to be undergoing dialysis.

In the same way Napoles does not herself sign documents and instead uses names of family members or employees in business transactions, the Forbes property does not bear her name too. But whistleblowers and documents acquired by Rappler confirm the property is owned by Napoles.

The contract signed by Ramirez says the property was being rented out to him by its owner, a certain La Roca Enterprises Inc. The company is not on the list of Napoles-registered companies under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Napoles herself has denied she owns the property in an affidavit submitted to the court.

But on one occasion, a letter to Forbes was signed by Anthony Dequiña, corporate secretary of La Roca Enterprises. Napoles has confirmed knowing Dequiña, a former Cotabato Representative who, she said, is a relative of her husband.

His name has appeared several times as an incorporator of companies set up by Napoles.

The Napoles way

This shows that the method Napoles uses to acquire property appears to be similar to how she sets up dubious companies allegedly used to pocket lawmakers' pork barrel money.

Another document — a November 2008 Delegation of Authority signed by a certain Teresa R. Castro-Alba, the president of La Roca — asks Forbes Park to give Gertrudes Luy full power over the property. The document also bears Gertrudes Luy's signature.

Part of Luy's authority included her right to "approve and sign all requests for permission to allow visitors and other parties entry and exit through the village gates," and to "represent" the property with all village-related concerns.

Aside from having been Napoles' daughter's nanny, Luy is a relative of Napoles. Her name has also been used several times by Napoles as an incorporator of her companies.

Yet another document allegedly signed by Luy in 2009 asks the Forbes Home Owners Association to allow Monsignor Ramirez to stay "temporarily at our residence at 9 Narra St" for "6 months to recuperate from his recent sickness." The document referred to Ramirez as a "relative."

The letter also asked the village to issue 6 IDs to various people who "visit [Ramirez] regularly" and "some who stay with him," including a personal secretary, driver, messenger, therapist and attendant.

One name, Frederico A. Egera, or Ramirez's "dietician," is again a listed incorporator of one of Napoles' corporations.

But Luy told Rappler she never signed any such documents or contracts for the Forbes property, and was only jokingly told by Janet she is the listed property owner. She said all she has ever signed related to the Forbes property are applications for car stickers and similar minor applications.

She said she was allowed to stay there only once, in 2009, after an eye operation.

Ramirez and the poor

Monsignor Ramirez has admitted knowing Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a massive multi-billion pork barrel scam. Whistleblowers have identified Ramirez as one of the priests who have benefitted from the wealth of Napoles through allowances and housing.

The 66-year-old priest, also the Continental Coordinator of Divine Mercy in Asia, has actively campaigned for the poor.

In past interviews, Napoles — who fondly calls Ramirez by the nickname "Monsi" — had admitted to supporting Ramirez and other poor priests from China, upon the request of her late mother Magdalena, a devotee of the Divine Mercy headed by Ramirez.

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Napoles said she houses priests for her "Mommy," Magdalena Luy Lim, who died in 2008. She said before her mother's death, she was asked to "continue the activities of monsignor to help the poorest of the poor for Divine Mercy."

Ramirez was the Chaplain of the Divine Mercy chaplaincy in Pasay in 1992, when he first met Napoles' mother.

According to a letter from Ramirez to the Archidocese of Manila explaining his involvement with Napoles, Magdalena Luy Lim "supported our apostolate for the poor" since 1992, when they first met.

"In August 2007 she learned about the appeal of Pope Benedict XVI to Catholic Charities in Asia to help in the formation program of poor priests, seminarians and religious in China due to a sudden increase of vocations," he said, explaining why Napoles houses Chinese priests.

From Forbes to Magallanes

The 4,000-square-meter Forbes residence is not the only Napoles-linked property Ramirez uses.

According to the contract, Ramirez's office is located at 52 Lapu-Lapu St, Magallanes Village, Makati City. The Magallanes home, acquired later than the Forbes property, also belongs to Napoles, according to whistleblowers.

Luy told Rappler that when it was acquired, Ramirez moved to Magallanes from the Forbes property. She said it is the Chinese priests who now reside in Forbes.

Rappler tried to get in touch with Ramirez to get his side but has not been successful. During a visit to his Magallanes address on Wednesday, August 21, a house help told this writer Ramirez was not home. Calls to his last known number were unsuccessful as the person who answered said it was the wrong number.

It is in Forbes and Magallanes, among other Napoles properties, where Luy's son Benhur was allegedly detained by the Napoleses for 3 months — from December 2012 to March 2013.

Ironically, the Napoleses said Benhur was not kidnapped, but was attending a voluntary retreat to atone for his sins.

The serious illegal detention complaint filed by Gertrudes and her husband against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim accused the Napoleses of detaining Benhur after he agreed to testify in the cases on the fertilizer scam and the Malampaya fund scam, which have also been linked to Napoles.

Benhur was rescued on March 22 by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in one of Napoles' Pacific Plaza units.

Benhur has admitted only talking to Monsignor Ramirez 3 times in 3 months and said he was never able to tell Ramirez he was kidnapped. During his detention, according to Benhur, he was moved to different properties owned by Napoles during the day, but every night was brought back to Bahay ni San Jose — the Magallanes address of Ramirez. Aside from Ramirez, Benhur said the 5 Chinese priests were there as well.

In April, Ramirez and the 5 priests from China issued an affidavit defending the Napoleses, saying Benhur never asked for their help or told them he was being illegally detained.

Ramirez's authority

Also on April 12, Gertrudes Luy's authority over the Forbes property had been withdrawn by La Roca.

In a letter signed by Dequiña, he informed the Forbes Park Village association that Ramirez is the newest lessor, and asked that Gertrudes and her immediate family members no longer be allowed to enter the premises. Other restrictions included the "issuance of a gate pass, verification of visitors, [and] authorization and validation of anything in relation to the property."

It also asked the village's security to get Ramirez's pre-approval for "all visitors…before entering the village," and to take proper identification, list names of all passengers in the vehicle, and record plate numbers of any visitor who wanted to come to the Narra property.

These revelations come on the heels of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle's denouncement of the scam. He said only the corrupt can stomach it because “the poor are absent in their minds and their hearts.” Tagle challenged not only politicians, but also others involved in this “intricate web” of corruption, to visit the homes of the poor.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has said that while whistleblowers have counted 30 Napoles cars and 28 properties, not all of them are registered under their name.

Based on official filings of her registered businesses, Napoles doesn’t have the means to acquire and maintain any of her expensive properties or vehicles.

On August 14, the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) issued warrants of arrest against the Napoles siblings for serious illegal detention. They have yet to be located by the NBI.

Election laywer Romulo Macalintal, who knows Ramirez personally and was present during his 66th birthday last June, described Ramirez as extremely "generous."

"He doesn't keep anything for himself. He will give and give until he gives everything. I think he only has two shirts," he told Rappler. - Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
08-29-2013, 09:59 AM
Napoles surrenders to Aquino

By Jamie Marie Elona, Matikas Santos, Nancy C. Carvajal, Nikko Dizon, TJ Burgonio

INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:11 pm | Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Fearing for her life, fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam, surrendered to President Benigno Aquino in Camp Crame Wednesday night, Malacañang announced.

“At 9:37 p.m. on August 28, Janet Napoles surrendered to President Aquino,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

“The President turned her over to the custody of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima for processing and booking,” Lacierda said.

Pre-empted

The move pre-empted the National Bureau of Investigation Special Task Force that earlier got a hot tip on the Napoles’ whereabouts and was on its way to serve her warrant of arrest.

Napoles specifically asked through her lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, that she be brought to Camp Crame and not to the NBI.

Aquino motored to the PNP national headquarters to accept the surrender of Napoles and turned her over to Roxas. The President also met with Napoles’ husband, Jimmy.

But the media was barred from the meeting. Unlike criminal suspects who are immediately presented to the media, the Presidential Security Group ordered the police not to allow journalists to enter the camp.

There was no explanation why Napoles was shielded from the media.

Blew the whistle

Napoles, together with her brother Reynald Lim, went into hiding before authorities could serve the arrest warrants on them on August 15 in connection with the alleged kidnapping of the businesswoman’s aide and cousin Benhur Luy.

Luy and other former staff of Napoles blew the whistle on the conversion of P10 billion in lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund into kickbacks by Napoles and her company using dummy foundations, bogus beneficiaries and forged signatures of officials.

In a radio interview, Kapunan said her client surrendered for fear of her life.

“There are really people who want to keep her silent permanently,” Kapunan said.

“Therefore now is the right time. She said she has nothing to hide anyway,” she added.

Kapunan said she did not know where Napoles hid, adding she had no communication with her client before the fugitive businesswoman’s surrender.

Booked

The PNP spokesperson, Colonel Teodoro Sindac, said in a text message at 12 midnight that Napoles was already booked at Camp Crame. He gave no further details.

The Inquirer learned that according to Kapunan, Napoles decided to surrender to the President before she could be charged with plunder and other cases.

Raising the biggest bounty for a fugitive so far, Aquino earlier Wednesday announced a P10-million bounty for the arrest of Napoles.

But he said proposals to make her a state witness would be studied.

A TV news report said Kapunan had reported that her client sent surrender feelers through Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. However, Tagle’s spokesperson, Peachy Yamsuan, said the charismatic church leader had not spoken with either Napoles or her lawyer.

Kapunan did not reply to text messages from the Inquirer asking for confirmation of the report.

State agents fanned out to track down Napoles and Lim, expanding the search to islands near Mindanao and Indonesia where they could have fled aboard her luxury yachts.

The President said that the reward for the arrest of Napoles’ brother was yet to be discussed with security officials.

Harboring fugitive

Aquino warned the public against aiding Napoles and her brother. “Harboring a fugitive is a crime; obstruction of justice is a crime. If those harboring her have good sense, they should be aware of this. And if they think we’ll stop searching for them, they’re wrong,” he said.

Public outrage, fanned by newspaper and state auditors’ reports over misuse of the fund at the disposal of lawmakers, climaxed into a mammoth rally at Rizal Park on Monday.

The President on Friday announced the abolition of the pork barrel and the replacement of this lump sum disbursements with a so-called line-item budgeting of projects for legislators. With reports from Jocelyn R. Uy and Gil C. Cabacungan

Sam Miguel
08-29-2013, 10:00 AM
10th whistle-blower sings: I gave cash to Enrile chief aide

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:57 am | Thursday, August 29th, 2013

A new witness in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam has surfaced and implicated a former top aide of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile in the scheme purportedly masterminded by fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

A driver, the 10th witness to come forward claimed in an interview with the INQUIRER on Wednesday that he and another employee handed millions of pesos in cash to Lucila Jessica “Gigi” Reyes in the La Vista, Quezon City house of the lawyer who was then Enrile’s chief of staff.

This was before Reyes reportedly resigned in December last year in the aftermath of the selective distribution of Christmas bonuses to senators by the then Senate President, the new witness said.

“I was the driver of the courier of the money from Madam Janet and saw him take out bundles of cash from a duffel bag and place them on a table in the sala in front of Attorney Gigi,” the witness said in the interview in the presence of other whistle-blowers and their counsel at a safe house in Metro Manila.

The 10th accuser named the courier as John Reymund de Asis, also a JLN employee and president of Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., one of several dozen NGOs allegedly controlled by Napoles.

“Apart from driving De Asis to deliver money, I also drive him around on the order of Madam Janet,” Levito Baligod, counsel of the whistle-blowers, said.

Reyes did not answer calls by the Inquirer for comment. She earlier denied she was a contact of the Napoles group. “I do not know Benhur Luy and I challenge him to prove his claim that I am ‘their contact’—whoever he was referring to,” Reyes said last week.

Luy was the principal whistle-blower in the racket that involved turning allocations in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, of senators and congressmen and funds from other state agencies into kickbacks. Luy was a cousin and employee of Napoles who was detained for three months by the businesswoman and her brother, Reynald Lim.

Witness can’t be named yet

Rescued in March by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, Luy said he was kept hostage by Napoles because she suspected he was out to compete with her in her racket converting funds meant for rural development, farmers and typhoon victims into ghost projects using dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) over the past 10 years.

Nine former Napoles employees and relatives had joined the 31-year-old Luy in his accusations against the businesswoman. Five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives allegedly gave Napoles access to their PDAF allocations.

Baligod allowed the Inquirer to talk to the new witness on the condition that he would not be identified. “These are simple people and could be in danger when exposed prematurely,” Baligod said.

Bundles of money

The whistle-blower said that after bundles of money were placed on the table in the Reyes residence, De Asis got the bag back. He said there was no other person in the living room when the money was given.

He explained that he accompanied De Asis as he got off the vehicle to the main door which was left open. “I stood at the door and from there I could clearly see the activity inside,” the 10th whistle-blower said.

Baligod said based on the statements of the newest witness, the deliveries were made between 2009 and 2011 in upscale subdivisions in Makati City and Reyes’ Quezon City residence.

“There were three deliveries, two to the house of Ruby Tuason at Dasmariñas Village in Makati City and the other one was in La Vista Village in Quezon City,” Baligod said.

The new whistle-blower said that it was always Napoles who ordered him to drive the courier to deliver the money to Reyes.

Baligod also said that the 10th whistle-blower also personally drove for Napoles.

“The ninth and 10th whistle-bowers were employed by Napoles at the same time and in some occasions were with her when she met with legislators,” Baligod said.

Red book

The ninth whistle-blower said in her affidavit that she acted as Napoles’ girl Friday for a time. She said she also picked up gifts for lawmakers and was present when Napoles had dinners with lawmakers in expensive restaurants.

She also corroborated an earlier statement of Luy that Napoles kept “a red book that contained records of her transactions with senators and congressman.”

However, Napoles in a round-table interview with the Inquirer denied having this book.

The new witness also corroborated statements of other whistle-blowers that they signed documents with fabricated names on orders of Napoles, who went into hiding last week after a court issued a warrant for her arrest, and that of her brother Reynald Lim, for the serious illegal detention of Luy.

Nine former Napoles employees have corroborated Luy’s accusations, including two last week who refused to be named for security reasons.

The ninth whistle-blower said dinners with the lawmakers were in expensive restaurants, like Greenhills Stone Grill and Tsukiji in Makati City.

She said Napoles asked her to buy gifts for the senators. “One time she asked me to pick a ball pen, Montblanc, worth P65,000 from Rustan’s,” she said, adding she paid for it in cash.

“I had to get the ball pen the following day because it had to be engraved with the senator’s name,” she said. With a report from Norman Bordadora

Sam Miguel
08-29-2013, 10:02 AM
What Went Before: PH’s top fugitives

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:59 am | Thursday, August 29th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The country’s top fugitives remain elusive despite a multi-million reward for information that could lead to their arrest.

In August last year, President Benigno Aquino III offered a reward of P2 million each for the arrest of the Big Five fugitives composed of retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. and Globe Asiatique developer Delfin Lee.

Called “the butcher” by political activists, Palparan went into hiding in December 2011 when he was ordered arrested by the regional trial court in Malolos, Bulacan province, in connection with the 2006 abduction of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

The Reyes brothers disappeared in March 2012 after the regional trial court in Puerto Princesa City issued warrants for their arrest in connection with the murder of Palawan broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

Ecleo went into hiding after he was meted a 31-year jail sentence by the Sandiganbayan in 2006 in a graft case. In April 2012, a Cebu City court sentenced him to life imprisonment for the killing of his wife. He remains the object of a nationwide manhunt.

Lee has a standing arrest warrant issued by a Pampanga court in May 2012 for syndicated estafa in connection with a P7-billion housing loan scandal that involved Globe Asiatique’s Xevera housing projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat towns in Pampanga province.

In May, Chief Supt. Francisco Uyami Jr., the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said his group had created 17 “tracker teams” to intensify the manhunt operations for the high-profile fugitives. Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
08-30-2013, 09:28 AM
After the surrender

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:00 pm | Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The surrender of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles—to President Aquino himself, in Malacañang—pushes the consuming issue of pork barrel abuse to the next phase. Whatever happens now, we must not allow two scenarios to come to pass: That Napoles will turn state witness. And that all the attention will all be on Napoles, allowing other pork barrel scam operators to slink back into the shadows.

When the controversial businesswoman was still in hiding, and the needful thing was to find her, administration officials said they were open to the idea that she turn state witness. This made sense. Signaling openness to the idea would help encourage Napoles to surface.

It is still too early to know, for certain, whether her surrender feelers were prompted, in whole or in part, by the officials’ assertions of openness. But being genuinely open to the idea does not necessarily mean eventually subscribing to it.

Now that Napoles has surrendered, the time has come to reconsider whether the idea to use the businesswoman at the center of the pork barrel scam as the principal witness in the government case is in fact a good one. Will it advance the nation’s highest interests? More specifically, will it lead to long-term solutions to pork barrel abuse? Above all: Will it land the worst abusers of the pork barrel system in prison?

To ask that last question is already to find our answer. If the accusations against Napoles are true, then we must count her among the worst abusers of the system. If she is in fact liable for all the pork-related charges that will be filed against her, justice requires that she be treated as defendant, not state witness.

Yesterday, several hours after Napoles had already surrendered, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told a radio interviewer that the government was still open to the same bold idea. “Isang avenue ito na bukas sa pamahalaan, kung may kontribusyon sa impormasyon at ebidensya si Napoles” (This is one avenue open to the government, if Napoles has a contribution to make to information and evidence), he said.

This seems like a rather low standard. We realize Roxas was probably using generic language to defuse potential issues; for instance, there is nothing in his statement to suggest that the government is in fact actively considering Napoles as a state witness. Even then, the vague notion of a mere contribution to information and evidence still rankles: Given the accusations against Napoles, shouldn’t the standard the government will bind itself to be much higher? “Invaluable contribution to evidence,” perhaps, or “indispensable evidence implicating high officials.”

As a lesson in civics, Roxas’ expression of openness falls flat because it fails to recognize that Napoles is facing accusations of masterminding the scam itself. The public should not countenance the possibility that the alleged mastermind will turn state witness—and only for a mere “contribution.”

When Napoles visited the Inquirer offices to plead her case, she asserted, or aggressively hinted, that the pork-related accusations against her were manufactured, that whistle-blowers like former employee Benhur Luy were actually in someone else’s employ now and that that someone else—whom she refused to name at the Inquirer but whom she identified in a TV interview—was in fact the true mastermind of any pork barrel scam.

She said she had evidence to prove her claims, and was ready to present them at the right forum.

We recognize that some of these may be merely self-serving posturing, but given that the Commission on Audit’s special audit report on pork barrel anomalies identifies 82 dubious nongovernment organizations, only 10 of which are associated with Napoles, it stands to reason that there must be other scam operators working the barrel.

Only about a third of the P6.2 billion in questionable pork barrel transactions between 2007 and 2009 that the COA tracked can be traced to Napoles-associated NGOs. That leaves a whole lot of loose change. The surrender of Napoles should not blind government investigators and outraged citizens alike to the certainty that there are others like her, and they are still out there

gfy
09-01-2013, 12:55 PM
Even LGUs and Barangay officials now have pork barrel. QC councilors have about PhP 45 million a year to waste or steal. Ever wonder why a lot of people including celebrities are now running for these positions?

Sam Miguel
09-02-2013, 10:18 AM
Raps readied vs 2 NBI execs who tipped off Napoles

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:24 am | Monday, September 2nd, 2013

The Department of Justice will bring charges against two officials of the National Bureau of Investigation for tipping off Janet Lim-Napoles on the issuance of a warrant for her arrest on Aug. 14, Malacañang said Sunday.

The tip gave Napoles, 49, lead time over the authorities, and she went on the lam for two weeks before surrendering to Mr. Aquino on Wednesday night.

President Aquino told Inquirer editors and reporters on Thursday night that charges were being readied against the two NBI officials, who he said had ties to two senators who had been implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles.

Mr. Aquino did not name the two NBI officials to avoid preempting the filing of charges against them.

He also did not name the two senators, but one is known to have figured in a confrontation between policemen and confidential agents of the NBI during the recent midterm elections.

Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, disappeared on Aug. 14, hours before the Makati City Regional Trial Court issued a warrant for their arrest in connection with the serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, their cousin and Napoles’ former aide who blew the whistle on her alleged racket.

NBI agents staked out 28 known houses of Napoles in Metro Manila on that day, but the tip from their own headquarters enabled the businesswoman and her brother to flee.

“Somebody tipped them off,” a frustrated Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters the next day.

Bounty

On Wednesday, President Aquino announced a P10-million reward for information that would lead to Napoles’ arrest.

That night, Napoles, accompanied by her lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, surrendered to the President in Malacañang.

Mr. Aquino said there had been leaks of information on the manhunt for Napoles.

He said even Napoles’ surrender was leaked minutes after he had informed De Lima about it.

The flight of Napoles and Lim on Aug. 14 was the last straw for the government, but Mr. Aquino did not disclose when the justice department would bring the charges against the leakers at the NBI.

Speaking on state-run radio dzRB on Sunday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there was no deadline for filing charges against the two NBI officials.

Priority

But the legal action against the two officials is one of the department’s priorities, Valte said.

“I’m sure you’re curious about who they are. Let’s just wait for the filing of cases against them,” she said.

The infidelity of two officials under her supervision did not hurt De Lima’s standing in Malacañang.

Valte said De Lima continued to enjoy the trust and confidence of the President.

“There’s no question [about] the President’s trust and confidence in Secretary De Lima,” she said.

She said the President apprised De Lima of the circumstances leading to Napoles’ surrender late Wednesday.

NBI distrusted

Mr. Aquino told Inquirer editors and reporters that he informed De Lima about Napoles’ surrender the moment Napoles was secured by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who had been involved in the arrangements for the fugitive to turn herself in.

Napoles chose to surrender to Mr. Aquino because she distrusted the NBI, which had cracked her case and was preparing to bring plunder charges against her.

Her lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, made arrangements for Lacierda to bring her in.

Lacierda found Napoles in a cemetery in Taguig City, took her to Malacañang, and presented her to the President.

To ensure the safety of Napoles, Mr. Aquino went with the security group that took her to Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, that same night for booking.

Harboring fugitive

Lacierda was criticized for his active involvement in Napoles’ surrender, and there were suggestions that he be prosecuted for harboring a fugitive.

But Valte, a lawyer, said charges of harboring a criminal against Lacierda would not prosper in the courts.

“It was the court that ordered the arrest. It was a voluntary surrender, and [Napoles] was immediately turned over to the lawful authorities,” she said.

The court ordered Napoles detained at the Makati City Jail. But jail officials said they did not have enough personnel to guarantee the safety of Napoles, who claimed there was a “grave threat” to her life.

New cell

The court ordered her transferred to police special forces training camp in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna province, where former President Joseph Estrada (now mayor of Manila), his son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari, and Sen. Gregorio Honasan had been detained.

Napoles was transferred to the fort early Sunday.

Sam Miguel
09-02-2013, 10:19 AM
Even LGUs and Barangay officials now have pork barrel. QC councilors have about PhP 45 million a year to waste or steal. Ever wonder why a lot of people including celebrities are now running for these positions?

GFY, in Quezon City it is offically P60 million per year per City Councilor.

gfy
09-09-2013, 10:29 AM
May mga bungalow pa ba sa Fort Sto. Domingo para sa kulungan ng mga senador at congressmen?

Sam Miguel
09-12-2013, 10:20 AM
15 boxes of pork evidence

Gigi Reyes’ letter to DA one of 2k pages of fiscal deals submitted to NBI

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:18 am | Thursday, September 12th, 2013

The smoking gun comes from government agencies.

On Wednesday afternoon, 15 boxes of evidence and more than 2,000 pages of financial transactions purportedly detailing the extent of a P10-billion racket involving state funds meant to ease rural poverty and ended in kickbacks over 10 years were submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The evidence that could implicate the senators—principally endorsements of questionable nongovernment organizations (NGOs)—would come from official records, according to a source who is privy to the investigations.

“The smoking gun that could pin down the senators comes from government agencies where these letters were sent,” said the source who talked to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity.

The source showed the Inquirer a letter of Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, a lawyer who was chief of staff of then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, dated Feb. 4, 2008, addressed to then Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap informing him that Enrile had allotted P25 million of his PDAF to National AgriBusiness Corp. (Nabcor).

“The PDAF is for the implementation of various agribusiness, livelihood projects in different municipalities as per attached special allotment release order,” Reyes said in her letter.

“We wish to implement these projects through Nabcor as attached agency of DA (Department of Agriculture),” she said.

In the same letter, Reyes said that her deputy chief of staff, Jose Antonio Evangelista, was assigned the authority “to sign and follow up the project to ensure proper and timely implementation.”

Another document showed Evangelista’s letter to then Nabcor president Allan Javellana informing him that Enrile’s office was designating the People’s Organization Progress and Development Foundation (POPDF) as the implementing NGO for the project that would be financed with the Senate President’s pork barrel allocation.

The letter said the POFDF, an agency controlled by Napoles, was “a duly registered nongovernment organization” and should be “your conduit in the implementation of the said project.”

Evangelista added: “May we humbly request your good office to assist and facilitate the processing of the documents for the smooth implementation of the said projects at the soonest possible time?”

A stamp on the document showed that Nabcor received Evangelista’s letter on Feb. 11, 2008, and was paid on March 11, 2008.

A handwritten check number appears on the lower part of the letter.

The evidence came from 10 whistle-blowers—all former employees of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the channeling of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the government’s share in the Malampaya oil fields to ghost projects, according to their lawyer, Levito Baligod.

The papers will be used in the filing of plunder charges against Napoles and 13 other people, including three senators and “conduits,” in the Ombudsman later in the week. Another 40 people are likely to face malversation charges.

Another document dated March 23, 2012, showed that Enrile had confirmed in his letter to Carmela Perez, associate commissioner-special services sector of the Commission on Audit (COA), that he had authorized Reyes and Evangelista to sign documents in his behalf.

“We acknowledge receipt of your letter regarding the government-wide performance audit on PDAF projects,” Enrile said in his letter.

He said that his PDAF projects, which he had endorsed, were assigned to National Livelihood Development Corp., Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Capital Region, Nabcor and the Technology Resource Center.

“The set of letters was similar to those other senators and congressmen had written,” the source said. He said those letters were also sent to implementing agencies such as the DA, Department of Agrarian Reform and COA.

Under heavy guard, the 15 boxes of documents were unloaded and brought to the NBI special task force office.

Baligod confirmed to the Inquirer that all accused senators “received their kickbacks through personal delivery of cash.”

“No senator received a check or through a fund transfer,” he said.

Baligod said the evidence submitted by the whistle-blowers would ensure airtight cases against Napoles and her alleged cohorts.

“It took us some time to finish everything because we want to make sure that our evidence will stand judicial scrutiny,” Baligod said.

‘We have a solid case’

“We are not here just to ruin the reputation of anybody because for all of us, our reputation is the most precious thing that we have, more precious than the wealth that this world can offer. That’s why we are very careful once we accuse somebody that we have a solid case to stand on,” the lawyer added.

Baligod said the affidavit of six whistle-blowers covers only the PDAF and served as the first batch of affidavits.

“This case is only for the PDAF. Next will be on the Malampaya funds,”Baligod said.

He explained that the evidence submitted included a matrix of the financial transactions between Napoles’ foundations and the lawmakers from 2004 to 2010 based on the records of the principal whistle-blower, Benhur Luy.

Baligod said that the joint affidavits of the six whistle-blowers were supported by documents relating to fund transfers and letters to banks authorizing the debit of money from the accounts of foundations to the accounts of the legislators in some cases.

He said several congressmen named in the affidavits received kickbacks through checks and bank transactions.

In his letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, transmitting the documentary evidence and the sworn affidavits of the whistle-blowers, Baligod expressed his appreciation and gratitude to her and President Aquino for their support “throughout the evidence-gathering phase of this investigation.”

Sam Miguel
10-02-2013, 09:04 AM
CA junks DOJ plea, clears Reyeses in Ortega murder

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:52 am | Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Ruling with finality, the Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its earlier ruling clearing former Palawan Gov. Mario Joel Reyes in the 2011 killing of environmentalist Gerry Ortega, prompting Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to say she will now take her case to the Supreme Court.

“Will certainly elevate that to the Supreme Court,” De Lima said in a text message to reporters when asked to comment on the latest development in the government’s efforts to pin down Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, on the murder of Ortega.

Ortega, a broadcaster, had denounced the misuse of the funds that the provincial government was receiving from its share of the royalties from the Malampaya gas project off the west coast of Palawan province.

The Reyes brothers have been in hiding since a warrant for their arrest was issued last year. They are believed to have gone abroad.

In a six-page decision dated Sept. 27, the CA special 10th division, voted 3-2 to deny “for lack of merit” De Lima’s motion for reconsideration on its March 19 decision.

Ortega family unfazed

The lawyer of the Ortega family said the family was “unfazed” by the CA decision, which he said was “purely based on a technicality.”

“We will continue our pursuit of justice for the murder of Dr. Gerry Ortega all the way up to the Supreme Court,” Alex Avisado said in a text message sent by Ortega’s daughter Mika to reporters.

“Now that it has been shown that Doc Gerry Ortega was killed because of his exposé on the plunder of the Malampaya Fund, it would be a travesty and an injustice to let the masterminds, ex-Gov. Joel Reyes and Mayor Mario Reyes, go free. We still believe that in the end, justice will only be for the deserving,” Avisado added.

The appellate court said its earlier ruling that cleared Governor Reyes of involvement in the murder of Ortega, who was gunned down in Palawan on Jan. 24, 2011, “stays.”

In the March 19 order, the court said De Lima had committed grave abuse of discretion when she did not rule on the petition for review filed by the wife of Ortega on a Department of Justice (DOJ) panel’s finding of no probable cause against the Reyes brothers, but instead formed a new panel of prosecutors to reinvestigate the case.

The court division nullified the DOJ resolution creating the second panel of prosecutors and its decision finding probable cause to indict the Reyes brothers for Ortega’s killing. Likewise, the court division had reinstated the June and September 2011 resolutions of the first DOJ panel, thereby clearing the Reyes brothers of Ortega’s murder.

Those who voted to deny De Lima’s motion for reconsideration were Associate Justices Angelita Gacutan, Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Francisco Acosta. Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Romeo Barza voted to grant the justice secretary’s motion for reconsideration.

In its decision penned by Gacutan, the appellate court said it did not find persuasive De Lima’s argument that the people were also an aggrieved party in the case.

Neutral arbiter

It said the duty of the DOJ was not that of a prosecutor on behalf of the complainant but to find out as a “neutral arbiter” whether a crime was committed and whether the respondent was guilty.

“Otherwise, he becomes an advocate of the complaining party and this would impinge on the substantive right of persons suspected of crimes,” the court division said of a prosecutor.

But it held that while the justice secretary had the authority to review resolutions, De Lima could review the decision of the first panel without creating the second panel.

“We stress anew, that our decision has not clipped any power of the SOJ (secretary of justice) to review the finding of any prosecutor but that power should be used by observing proper procedural protocols,” it said.

The appellate court noted that De Lima did not act on the petition for review filed by Ortega’s widow.

Second panel

The court division also did not buy De Lima’s argument that she created the second panel to prevent a miscarriage of justice, saying that in the first place, the first panel had conducted full-blown proceedings and both parties appeared at the hearings.

It also did not agree with De Lima’s argument that even if the court nullified the resolution creating the second panel, the latter’s finding of probable cause to indict the Reyes brothers was valid.

The division said this was a “dangerous stance” because it was “promotive of chaos and mischiefs in the ranks of the National Prosecution Service if any prosecutor can initiate any criminal investigation or reinvestigate without any directive from the head of the department.”

“If the act that created the second panel of prosecutors is void, it defies logic for its resolution to prevail over the resolution of the first panel created under (the DOJ order) was never declared void,” it said.

NUJP not surprised

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it was “dismayed but not surprised” by the decision of the CA.

“Our belief remains strong that, notwithstanding the infirmities that continue to riddle our justice system, in the end, those responsible for silencing Ortega will be made to suffer for the crime they committed, not just against our colleague, not just against his family, but against the people of Palawan and of the country in general,” the NUJP said in a statement.

The group called on De Lima “to ensure that all legal proceedings connected with the prosecution of those responsible for murdering Gerry Ortega are airtight.”

“We cannot allow justice to slip away on technicalities,” the NUJP said.—With a report from Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Sam Miguel
10-03-2013, 08:54 AM
49 instructors, training officers recalled from PNPA

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:32 am | Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police (PNP) has recalled all police personnel assigned as instructors and training officers of the PNP Academy (PNPA), virtually crippling the operations of the primary source of senior police officers of the PNP.

PNP Director General Alan Purisima terminated the designation of 19 police commissioned officers and 30 police non-commissioned officers to the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) effective Sept. 27, PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said yesterday.

An attached agency of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the PPSC supervises the PNPA and the training centers of the police, jail and fire services.

Sindac quickly played down insinuations that the move could be part of the proposal to allow graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to rejoin the police service.

Since its establishment in 1978, this was the first time that the PNP pulled out the entire training corps of the PNPA.

Among those recalled were the PNPA director, Chief Supt. Noel Constantino; his deputy, Senior Supt. Leonardo Cesneros; and the PNPA commandant, Senior Supt. Jon Arnaldo.

In recalling its personnel, the PNP cited a May 6, 2010, resolution of the National Police Commission, which stated that “the period of detail shall be a maximum of six months which may be renewed for another six (months) upon the request of the receiving office or agency… but in no case shall (it) exceed two years.”

Although he declined to discuss the real reason behind the recall of the police officers, Sindac admitted that the decision was due to “differences in principles” between the PPSC officials led by their president, Ruben Platon, and the PNPA command.

“This is about principles and standing up for the transformation and reforms that we are trying to institute in the PNP,” Sindac told reporters at Camp Crame.

“There was some points of contention (regarding the training program) of the PNPA cadets. But I cannot (divulge) the details,” he said.

“We just wanted to raise the quality of the graduates of PNPA. Is there something wrong with that?”

According to Sindac, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had already been informed of the situation.

In a series of special orders, the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management recalled the police personnel and assigned them temporarily to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit at Camp Crame.

Sindac said the PNP leadership had also decided to recall police personnel serving as tactical and training officers of the Police National Training Institute, an agency also under the PPSC.

Sam Miguel
10-07-2013, 09:56 AM
2 Napoles children liable in Malampaya Fund scam

They also forged signatures, says whistle-blower

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:53 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013

The alleged looting of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund, which was officially meant to help victims of massive flooding in Luzon four years ago, appeared to be a “family business.”

A daughter and son of detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles forged the signatures of the supposed beneficiaries of the fund, according to a whistle-blower.

One of Napoles’ brothers and a nephew also served as presidents of two of the 12 dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that were used to allegedly steal all the P900 million.

Levito Baligod, lawyer of witnesses in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles, said he would file an amendment to the plunder charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in the Office of the Ombudsman to include Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles.

Jo Christine and James Christopher were called “Neneng” and “Butsoy,” respectively, by their mother’s employees.

Baligod said the two would be included in the plunder case for “direct involvement in the falsification and liquidation of documents” involving the P900 million from the Malampaya Fund that was coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The money was earmarked for agrarian reform beneficiaries who were adversely affected by the back-to-back Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009, but the P900 million ended up in dubious NGOs that Napoles had formed.

According to Baligod, the two Napoles siblings would join their mother Janet, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, three of her Cabinet secretaries—former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Budget Secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman—in the case that the NBI filed in the Office of the Ombudsman on Oct. 3 against 24 people.

Baligod said the father of the siblings, retired Marine Maj. Jaime “Jimmy” Napoles, would not be included in the case because the testimony and evidence did not show his direct involvement in the scam.

Baligod, lawyer of pork scam whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, said the former Reform the Armed Forces Movement officer was seen only as “enjoying the luxuries.”

The Inquirer on Sunday called up Lorna Kapunan, lawyer of Napoles, to get her side but got no reply as of press time.

Youngest child

In his affidavit, Luy said Janet’s youngest child, Jeane, was just a recipient of her mother’s earnings as she was studying in the United States.

Luy claimed that Janet was a heavy buyer of dollars in the black market. “She uses these dollars to pay for taxes or buy properties abroad. These dollars are also used by Jeane Napoles and (Janet’s brother) Reynald Lim who are residing abroad,” he said.

Suñas, who started working for Janet’s trading firm, Jo Chris Trading, after her retirement from Philippine Navy Naval Construction Corp. in 2000, said she was entrusted by Janet to handle the documentation and liquidation of DAR documents for the Malampaya Fund at a meeting of JLN employees in July 2009.

The meeting was held three months before Arroyo and Ermita sent orders for the release of the P900 million to help farmer-beneficiaries recover from their losses from Ondoy and Pepeng.

Also at meeting

Suñas said Jo Christine and James Christopher were present at the meeting in which their mother and her employees plotted how to profit from the P900 million earmarked for the DAR.

Aside from their mother and her JLN employees, the siblings took part in forging the signatures of the supposed beneficiaries of the Malampaya Fund, according to Suñas.

“Truth be told, those that we could not finish signing in the JLN Corp. office were brought by Madame Janet Napoles to her house where they continued the signing of the documents along with the house help, drivers and security [guards],” the whistle-blower said.

Suñas said Jo Christine and James Christopher had helped in faking the documents as the siblings were top officers of JLN Corp. Jo Christine was vice president for administration and finance of JLN Corp. while her brother was vice president for operations.

The siblings held office on the 25th floor of Discovery Center in Pasig City.

Suñas said Jaime served only as “consultant” at JLN Corp. although Luy claimed that the former military officer had often served as his wife’s driver.

Brothers, nephew

Suñas said Napoles also tapped her brothers Reynald Lim and Ronald Francisco Lim, and a nephew, Ronald John Lim Jr., as officers of JLN. Ronald Francisco was vice president for special projects and Reynald was in charge of information technology.

Ronald Francisco and John Ronald who were among those charged with plunder last week, served as presidents of two of the dubious NGOs that were used in allegedly stealing all the P900 million.

Luy claimed that Jo Christine had also received part of the funds remitted to the dubious NGOs whenever her mother was not at their home on the 18th floor of the north wing of the Pacific Plaza Tower in Taguig City.

Luy said Jo Christine and James Christopher were aware of the code names given by Napoles to lawmakers whom she had regularly dealt with.

“Tanda” was Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile; “Pogi” was Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.; “Sexy,” “anak” or “kuya” referred to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

Other codes

“Guerrera” was former Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (now Masbate governor); “Bonjing” was former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza; “Bulaklak” was former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa; “Suha” was former South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy; and “Kuryente” was former Apec Rep. Edgar Valdez.

Suñas said that apart from the beneficiaries, the signatures of 97 town mayors in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (the areas pummeled by Ondoy and Pepeng) were also forged.

“JLN Corp. had on file the previous requests for financial assistance with the Department of Agriculture and we copied their signatures (from these documents) in the (97) letter requests (addressed to Pangandaman) and MOA (or memoranda of agreement given to DAR),” Suñas said.

Luy noted that the P900 million from the Malampaya Fund was the second time Janet raided DAR funds.

In 2007, Janet’s NGOs took P200 million from DAR funds intended for land reform beneficiaries.

Sam Miguel
10-07-2013, 09:57 AM
Ex-DOTC chief Mendoza dies of heart attack

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo

INQUIRER.net

9:20 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza died of heart attack Monday morning. He was 67.

Mendoza’s son, Batangas Representative Mark Llandro Mendoza, himself confirmed the news, former Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Undersecretary Thompson Lantion told Inquirer.net over the phone.

Lantion said the family would bring the body to Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig.

Radyo Inquirer 990AM also reported that Mendoza’s death was announced at the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) flag raising ceremony by Engineer Joel Donato, chief of the LTO Motor Vehicle Inspection Section.

Donato told the radio station that they were informed of Mendoza’s passing through a text message.

In March 2012 or a week after he was ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan on graft charges, Mendoza suffered a heart attack and was airlifted to the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

Months later, a wheelchair-bound Mendoza entered his not guilty plea to charges that he was involved in the aborted $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal, along with former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Jose Miguel Arroyo and former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos.

Mendoza, who served as Executive Secretary and Director General of the Philippine National Police under Arroyo, was accused of signing the controversial NBN deal.

Sam Miguel
10-07-2013, 10:00 AM
Aquino orders probe into sacking of police academy chief

By Marlon Ramos, Maricar Cinco

Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:36 am | Monday, October 7th, 2013

President Aquino has stepped into the leadership squabble at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA), ordering an investigation into the sacking of its director and the recall of all its trainers back to the Philippine National Police, according to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

Malacañang has also ordered an audit of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), the agency under the Department of the Interior and Local Government that supervises the PNPA, after the police academy director, Chief Supt. Noel Constantino, complained that he was sacked by the PPSC for exposing corrupt practices at the school.

Speaking to reporters, Roxas said President Aquino directed Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to reinstate PNPA director Chief Supt. Noel Constantino, who was terminated by PPSC president Ruben Platon on Sept. 26.

Status quo order

After Platon sacked Constantino, PNP Director General Alan Purisima expressed his displeasure over the PPSC decision by recalling to the PNP all the police personnel assigned to teach at the academy.

“This matter has reached the President. He has ordered the executive secretary to issue a status quo (order) in the PNPA,” Roxas told reporters at Camp Crame on Thursday.

“The President has asked for a report on why this incident happened,” he added.

In a news conference last week, Constantino said the PPSC was forcing police cadets to buy gadgets and other things that they did not need. He said that while each PNPA cadet received a monthly salary of P29,000, they were left with only P7,000 after all the PPSC-imposed supplies were deducted.

“This is called ‘issuematic’ among the PNPA cadets because they are issued automatically even if they do not want the supplies,” Constantino said. These included “overpriced” rubber shoes, laptops, insurance policies and rifle butts—some of which came from suppliers that did not have contracts with the government, he said.

Constantino also said the PNPA had been paying P1.5 million a month for electricity because more than 10 private concessionaires on the PNPA campus in Camp Mariano Castañeda in Silang, Cavite, were not paying rent or for their electricity and water.

Constantino also accused Platon and other PPSC officials of blocking his efforts to set minimum physical and academic standards for the police cadets, including for those taking the entrance exam.

Platon’s backer

The Inquirer tried but failed to get Platon’s comment.

Earlier, Platon, who was recommended to the post by his predecessor and President Aquino’s aunt, Margarita Cojuangco, said he did not renew Constantino’s six-month appointment because the police officer was making moves without informing him. He also said Purisima should have appealed the decision to sack Constantino instead of suddenly recalling all the PNP officers assigned to teach at the academy.

Cojuangco is listed as a “consultant” of the PPSC under the Office of the President.

Sam Miguel
10-09-2013, 07:55 AM
Galling

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:00 am | Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

What did they lose? President Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda is correct to challenge 27 recalcitrant Customs collectors with that question.

The collectors—named in reports as Rogel Gatchalian, Carlos So, Eduard de la Cuesta, Ricardo Belmonte, Adelina Molina, Ronnie Silvestre, Macabantug Mandangan, Priscilla Bauzon, Imelda Cruz, Ma. Sonia Togonon, Lilibeth Sandag, Raymond Ventura, Teresita Roque, Ma. Liza Torres, Maritess Martin, Arnel Alcaraz, Tomas Alcid, Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Francis Agustin Erpe, Rogelio Villagracia, Marieta Zamoranos, Juan Tan, Carmelita Talusan, Arefiles Carreon, Rustum Pacardo, Romalino Valdez, and Talek Pablo—were being transferred to the Department of Finance’s Customs Policy Research Office, which was created by Executive Order No. 140 to review tariff and customs administration policies. But apparently, such is the collectors’ fidelity to their jobs that 15 of them petitioned the Manila Regional Trial Court to issue a temporary restraining order on their transfer—and got it.

The petitioners’ contention was that the transfer order lacked due process and violated their statutory and constitutional right to security of tenure. The court initially issued a 72-hour TRO, which it subsequently extended by 17 days. “The primordial question that needed answer at this point in time is whether or not petitioners will suffer irreparable damage from the implementation of the Customs Personnel Order,” the court said.

“Irreparable damage”? But exactly what are the customs personnel being ordered to do? They are being reassigned to a new office to do mental work—research and policy formulation. The transfer, it was made clear, involved no demotion in rank or reduction in salary. As Lacierda pointed out, “You did not lose your status, you did not lose your rank, you were not demoted. So what did you lose? Why will you file a case?”

Indeed, what would motivate government bureaucrats to defy a simple administrative order giving them new responsibilities? Perhaps only the terrifying prospect of losing more than their desks in their old offices, where they have held petty court all these years. The Bureau of Customs being what it is, by all accounts among the most corrupt agencies of the government, it’s fairly easy to speculate on the potential “irreparable damage” to themselves these collectors are protesting against. They stand to lose the lucrative nature of their positions. The transfer will deprive them of some very tangible rewards they may have grown accustomed to in their work.

Take the case of Mangaoang, one of 15 senior collectors in Cebu’s customs office and among those granted a reprieve by the court from being transferred to the Customs Policy Research Office. Per reports, Mangaoang reclaimed her post as Cebu deputy collector for assessment and, inexplicably, also tried to assume the post of acting customs collector in the Cebu district. The woman desisted from pursuing what she wanted only after she was presented a copy of an order by Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon designating another lawyer and career officer as acting Cebu customs collector.

In his State of the Nation address last June, President Aquino excoriated the Bureau of Customs for the brazen, unabated corruption in its ranks. “Where do they get the gall?” he said.

That question bears repeating in the wake of the shameless behavior being exhibited by these customs collectors. Self-respecting people—especially in an agency as disreputable in the public estimation as Customs—would welcome the chance to prove that they have no undue interest in their position. Customs employees themselves had lamented the President’s disparagement of their organization. Unfair, they cried in a statement, saying that not all of them are rotten and that they work hard at their jobs. Where are these employees now, and why aren’t they assailing the refusal of their colleagues to give up apparently too-good-to-lose positions?

Five district collectors who did not join the 15 petitioners are said to have complied with their reassignments and are now reporting for work at the Customs Policy Research Office. Bully for them. And the bureau now has five new deputy collectors whom Biazon has touted as “up to the task and up to the challenge” of cleaning up the seeming equivalent of the Augean stables. Should we hold our breath? Let’s see them get cracking.

Sam Miguel
10-11-2013, 09:14 AM
Luxury-loving Napoles girl charged with tax evasion

By Christine O. Avendaño, Michelle V. Remo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:14 am | Friday, October 11th, 2013

Ironically, luxury became her downfall.

Jeane Catherine Lim Napoles was charged with tax evasion on Thursday for not declaring income for multimillion-peso properties she had purchased and registered in her name, including a unit in the much-ballyhooed glitzy Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles, California.

Since she became a registered taxpayer in 2008, the 23-year-old daughter of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, has not declared any income.

It was the turn of the young Napoles to be charged with tax evasion two weeks after her mother and father were charged with the same offense by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Her two siblings—Jo Christine and James Christopher—are also in trouble with the law.

Levito Baligod, lawyer of whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam, said last week that he would include the two siblings in the plunder case filed in the Office of the Ombudsman for “direct involvement in the falsification and liquidation of documents” in connection with the P900 million from the Malampaya Fund that was released through the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2009.

Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said the BIR was suing Jeane Catherine for P32.06 million in tax liability, inclusive of interests and surcharges, broken down into P31.38 million in 2011 and P680,000 in 2012.

This was because she did not declare an income when she was able to acquire and register in her name real estate in taxable years 2011 and 2012.

Expenditure method

Among the properties was the Ritz Carlton unit in the United States, acquired in 2011 at P54.73 million and a farm lot in Bayambang, Pangasinan province, where she had a 1/9th share and which was purchased in 2012 for P1.49 million.

The BIR said it used the expenditure method in determining the unpaid tax liabilities.

Under this method, any expenditure that is in excess of reported income and unexplained wealth is considered to be the amount of unreported income. The amount of unreported income and the value of the assets are used as basis for determining unpaid tax liabilities.

Henares said that based on BIR records, the young Napoles did not file an income tax return for 2011 and 2012 and that there were no records of returns proving that gifts, bequests or devises were given her.

“We also checked on any donor’s tax or estate tax and we can’t find anything also. So, the presumption if you can buy something that’s worth P54.73 million, you must have earned an income net of P54.73 million,” the BIR chief said at a news briefing.

Party in Hollywood club

Henares said that this was a “conservative” estimate of Jeane Catherine’s income because the BIR did not consider her living expenditures or even the cost of her partying.

Henares was apparently referring to social media reports of Napoles’ partying in a Hollywood club to celebrate her 21st birthday, which got the ire of netizens amid reports about the pork barrel scam allegedly perpetuated by her mother.

The revenue chief said the BIR was looking into the properties of the Napoleses “so as to find out how much they really owe the government.”

Like her parents, Jeane Catherine is now facing a complaint at the Department of Justice for willful attempt to evade or defeat tax and for deliberate failure to file returns and pay tax for the two taxable years.

This was in violation of Sections 51 (A)(1) (9)(a) and 74 in relation to Section 254 and Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended.

Request for US help

Amid reports that the Napoleses were selling their multimillion-dollar properties in the United States, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the government could not stop the sale of these assets pending its request for US help in freezing these assets.

De Lima told reporters that the government was formalizing its request for US assistance through the PH-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

She said the government was validating the US properties of the Napoleses and their values, and how to proceed against these assets.

De Lima acknowledged that nothing could be done to stop the sale of the properties “but with the wide publicity, this can reach the US and our fellow Filipinos there. They are on notice (about these).”

But the justice secretary said all was not lost because the government could still pursue the properties that the Napoleses had disposed of.

“But we have to make sure what mode or what mechanism can be used to pursue these properties because the premise is these are proceeds of the crime you know, this large-scale corruption. So there are methods of recovery,” she said.

Henares said that even if the properties in the United States had been sold, the BIR could still go after the Napoleses by requiring them to pay taxes for the properties.

BIR sought IRS aid

She said the BIR was expecting its American counterpart—the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—to help find any assets that the Napoleses may have in the United States.

Confirming reports that the tax bureau had sought assistance of the IRS, Henares expressed confidence that the BIR counterpart would respond favorably given that the Philippines and the United States have a tax treaty.

Under the treaty, each of the two parties may seek the assistance of the other in pursuing people guilty or suspected of tax evasion.

The BIR chief said member-countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) were expected to help out in efforts to catch tax evaders and money launderers.

“Cooperation [between internal revenue agencies of member-countries] is a common practice. Noncooperative countries may be subjected to blacklisting by the OECD,” she said in a phone interview.

“So, yes we [the BIR] have asked assistance of the IRS. In return, we should also help them in case they need information from the Philippines on tax matters,” Henares also said.

The BIR thought of seeking help from the IRS amid reports that the Napoles family have assets in the United States, either legally or illegally acquired, for which taxes have not been paid.

Henares earlier said that under the country’s Tax Code, even ill-gotten wealth and income from illegitimate sources were taxable.

On Sept. 26 the BIR filed tax evasion cases against Janet Lim-Napoles and her husband Jaime Garcia Napoles in the Department of Justice.

The BIR said Janet had P44.68 million while Jaime had P16.43 million in unpaid tax liabilities for 2004 to 2012. The tax liabilities were computed based on assets of the couple that the BIR found through investigation.

But Henares said the amounts of tax liabilities of the Napoles couple would increase should the BIR locate more assets and incomes for which taxes were not paid.

“The assessment of their unpaid tax liabilities will keep on growing as we [the BIR] get more evidence,” she said.

NGOs probed

Henares said the BIR had begun investigating assets of nongovernment organizations that Napoles had put up.

“Yes, the BIR is now looking into these Napoles-owned NGOs cited in the report by the COA [Commission on Audit],” Henares said.

The NGOs were said to have been used in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Whistle-blowers said pork barrel funds given to legislators were used to fund ghost projects of the NGOs. The funds were said to have been diverted to the pockets of the legislators and Napoles.

Henares said the BIR would specifically investigate the contracts and deals entered into by these NGOs with the aim of determining the incomes they derived over the years as well as the corresponding taxes that may not have been paid.

Sam Miguel
10-11-2013, 09:17 AM
BIR seeks IRS help in finding Napoles assets in United States

By Michelle V. Remo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

6:56 pm | Thursday, October 10th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue expects its American counterpart — the Internal Revenue Service — to help find any assets that Janet Lim Napoles and her family may have in the United States.

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares confirmed, on Thursday, reports that the tax bureau has sought the assistance of the IRS, and she expressed confidence the latter would give a favorable response given the existence of a tax treaty between the Philippines and the United States.

Henares said that under the tax treaty of the Philippines with the United States, as well as with many other countries, each of the two parties could seek the assistance of the other in pursuing people guilty or suspected of tax evasion.

Member-countries of the influential and international group Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to which the Philippines and the Unites States are members, are expected to help out in efforts to catch tax evaders and money launderers, according to Henares.

“Cooperation [between internal revenue agencies of member-countries] is a common practice. Non-cooperative countries may be subjected to blacklisting by the OECD,” she said in a phone interview.

“So, yes we [the BIR] have asked assistance of the IRS. In return, we should also help them in case they need information from the Philippines on tax matters,” Henares also said.

The BIR thought of seeking help from the IRS amid reports the Napoles family may have assets in the United States, either legally or illegally acquired, for which taxes have not been paid.

Under the country’s Tax Code, even ill-gotten wealth and income from illegitimate sources are covered by taxes, according to Henares.

Last September 26, the BIR filed tax evasion cases against Janet Lim Napoles and her husband Jaime Garcia Napoles before the Department of Justice.

The BIR has said that Janet has P44.68 million while Jaime has P16.43 million in unpaid tax liabilities for 2004 to 2012. The tax liabilities were computed based on assets of the couple that the BIR found through investigation.

But Henares said the amounts of tax liabilities of the Napoles couple would increase should the BIR locate more assets and incomes for which taxes were not paid.

“The assessment of their unpaid tax liabilities will keep on growing as we [the BIR] get more evidence,” the official said.

Henares said the BIR has begun investigating assets of non-government organizations reportedly owned by the Napoleses.

“Yes, the BIR is now looking into these Napoles’ owned NGOs cited in the report by the COA [Commission on Audit],” Henares said.

The NGOs owned by Janet Lim Napoles were said to have been used in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. In particular, whistle-blowers said, pork barrel funds given to legislators were reported to have been used to fund projects of the NGOs when in fact, the projects were non-existent.

The pork barrel funds were said to have been diverted to the pockets of the legislators and Napoles.

Henares said the BIR would specifically investigate the contracts and deals entered into by these NGOs with the aim of determining the incomes they derived over the years as well as the corresponding taxes that may not have been paid.

Henares told this to the Philippine Daily Inquirer immediately after the BIR filed on Thursday a separate tax evasion case against the daughter of the Napoles couple — Jeane Catherine Lim Napoles.

A BIR statement bares that Jeane Napoles has P32.06 million in unpaid tax liabilities covering the years 2011 and 2012.

The BIR said its investigations revealed that she acquired and registered in her name real properties during 2011 and 2012. However, the BIR said, she did not file income tax returns for both years.

The properties included a condominium unit in Los Angeles, California, in the United States with an estimated value of P54.73 million and a P1.49-million worth of share in a real property in Pangasinan province.

The BIR said it used the expenditure method in determining the unpaid tax liabilities.

Under the said method, any amount of expenditure in excess of reported income and that is unexplained is considered to be the amount of unreported income.

The amount of unreported income and the value assets are used as basis for determining unpaid tax liabilities.

Sam Miguel
10-11-2013, 09:45 AM
Go get'em Midas, you've quite a bit to make up for after that last time...

SC probes Ma’am Arlene

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 11, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has started an investigation into allegations that the judiciary has its own version of Janet Lim-Napoles, the woman at the center of the pork barrel scam involving lawmakers.

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, who supervises appellate courts and all trial courts in the country, said his office would get to the bottom of reports about a certain “Ma’am Arlene” who reportedly fixes cases in the Court of Appeals (CA) and regional trial courts on behalf of her wealthy client-litigants.

“Our office has been monitoring these reports as early as the first week of September and conducting a discreet investigation,” Marquez said.

He said they have yet to identify “Ma’am Arlene” and her supposed beneficiaries in the judiciary.

So far the probe has pointed to a battle among groups of judges to control the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) as a possible source of the reports, Marquez said.

“It appears that these are related to the recently concluded elections of the PJA,” he said.

Even before the PJA elections, Marquez said his office had issued a circular reiterating the guidelines governing elections for judges’ associations, “particularly the prohibited acts and practices.”

Marquez said judges who vied for the PJA presidency have been asked to explain the controversy.

In the pork barrel scam, a complaint for serious illegal detention against Napoles by one of her relatives, Benhur Luy, led to the disclosure of an alleged multibillion-peso scheme to funnel billions of pesos of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or congressional pork barrel to personal accounts using bogus non-government organizations.

Luy, reportedly suspected by Napoles to be striking out on his own with a similar scheme, is now a state witness along with several former employees of Napoles.

The PJA elections were concluded last Wednesday with Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) Judge Ralph Lee elected as president.

Lee was chosen over Makati City RTC Judge Rommel Baybay and Marikina RTC Judge Felix Reyes.

Former PJA president Franklin Demonteverde of the Bacolod Regional Trial Court said he knew nothing about Arlene.

The STAR columnist Jarius Bondoc exposed the alleged influence-peddling activities of Arlene.

“She throws birthday bashes for CA justices and trial court judges, and bankrolls their family junkets abroad. She is allegedly the magistrates’ go-to girl if they need to give an offspring an expensive graduation or wedding gift,” Bondoc wrote.

Bondoc said the woman “is notorious as a fixer of cases, with investigators, prosecutors and magistrates, mostly in Metro Manila.”

He said Arlene paid for the food during a recent convention of trial judges in the Visayas.

“At the dining halls, she would hop from table to table, loudly proclaiming that food and drinks were on her. She also announced, for everyone at the tables to hear, to give her their spouses’ birth dates so she could gift them with expensive, branded bags. Some attendees unabashedly mentioned to her their wish to travel with their families to Hong Kong or Macau,” Bondoc wrote.

Arlene reportedly gives justices’ and judges’ wives expensive Hermes Birkin bags as gifts. A Birkin bag reportedly costs at least P200,000.

Bondoc did not provide the full name of Arlene, but court sources said she is known even to court employees, adding she is a native of Iloilo and related to a suspected Chinese smuggler of flour.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno earlier called on whistle-blowers to come forward to bolster allegations of corruption in the judiciary.

Sereno said charges against members of the judiciary should be backed by solid evidence, lamenting that talks of corruption have become rife in legal circles, although these were made “in hushed tones and through blind items.”

SC urged: Identify Arlene

Lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called on the SC to identify Arlene.

Belmonte said he hopes judiciary personnel who know about the alleged influence-peddler would speak up.

Rep. Sherwin Tugna of the party-list group Citizens Battle Against Corruption said it is common knowledge that corruption exists not only in the executive and legislative branches of government but also in the judiciary.

“The legislative and executive departments are undergoing cleansing. It should also be the case in the judiciary. The people’s faith in the justice system should be restored. There will be no rule of law if the people do not trust the judiciary, if there are operators like this Arlene subverting the system,” he said.

Tugna, who is a House deputy majority leader, said it should not be difficult for the SC to get rid of its Napoles and other judicial decision fixers.

“I am sure she is known to judges and even justices and court personnel. They know the fixers,” he added.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said the judiciary would not have the moral ascendancy to judge corruption in the legislative and executive branches of government if it is itself saddled with corruption problems.

He said among the three branches, it is the judiciary that should be held to stricter standards of honesty, integrity and ethical conduct, because it is the final arbiter of disputes and legal issues.

Yesterday, the SC held its second hearing of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the PDAF, which at least one justice has described as “unconstitutional, on its face.”

Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna said it would be good for the judiciary if whistle-blowers come out and expose corruption among justices, judges and court personnel.

“After all, corruption is also prevalent in the judiciary,” he said.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said the report that the judiciary has its version of a Napoles only shows that corruption in the bureaucracy is systemic.

“All those who know about conspiracy between Madam Arlene and the justices should come out in the open,” she said. – With Jess Diaz, Danny Dangcalan

Sam Miguel
10-14-2013, 10:05 AM
Going after Napoles’ wealth

by Marites Dañguilan Vitug

Posted on 10/11/2013 10:01 AM | Updated 10/11/2013 5:14 PM

On the 5th floor of a building in the tightly guarded Bangko Sentral compound is the office of one of the most secretive government agencies in the country, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

To enter this, one has to undergo 3 checks: at the gate of what seems like a forbidding fortress, at the entrance of the building, and on the floor itself.

“Anong OB mo? [What’s your official business?]” the lady at the receiving office by the gate asked as I handed her the routine visitor’s slip with the name of the person I was going to see.

Next stop was at the building itself, where the guards asked a similar question. Bags had to pass through a security conveyor belt.

And just outside the office of the AMLC secretariat, a watchman sat by. He directed me to a small waiting room facing a door which can only be opened by those with access codes.

Welcome to the Philippines’ financial intelligence unit, the agency in hot pursuit of Janet Lim Napoles’ wealth.

Probe

In a rare interview, the chief financial sleuth of the AMLC, Julia Bacay-Abad, walked me through the process of recovering stolen assets, the fruits of corruption. Inescapably, we talked about their most high-profile case.

Bacay-Abad had just warmed her seat for a few months when the Napoles case exploded. This moved fast. In August, the Court of Appeals issued a freeze order on Napoles’ more than 300 bank accounts and 60-plus insurance policies. These are spread out in 17 banks and 6 insurance companies, as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had announced.

The AMLC is given a maximum period of 6 months to complete its probe. If and when the cash is retrieved, the AMLC will hand it over to the national treasury.

The freeze order is a “provisional remedy while we’re completing our investigation,” Bacay-Abad, who used to work with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), points out. “If it is established that these accounts are related to unlawful activities, then we refer the cases to the OSG which files a petition for forfeiture.”

This is the next awaited step, a process that can take time but something the public should be vigilant about.

Confidential

Thanks to the amended anti-money laundering law, the AMLC is no longer hampered in its probe of suspicious bank accounts. In the past, the AMLC had to inform the account holders of their inquiry, in a way allowing them to close the questionable accounts. Or, as Bacay-Abad explains, the account holder simply went to court to have the freeze order lifted, “dragging the AMLC into prolonged litigation.”

Meanwhile, the money was moved somewhere else and the AMLC was left with an empty bag.

It was a Supreme Court decision, penned by Justice Dante Tinga in 2008, that gave this protection to bank account owners. Mercifully, this has been cured by the new law.

The amended law also requires speedy action: the Court of Appeals should issue a freeze order within 24 hours upon the AMLC’s filing of a petition.

This was what happened in the Napoles case. The one different thing here was: the freeze order was made public. The rules that cover this process are hidebound. The Supreme Court prohibits disclosure of an application for freeze order. In fact, all applications are entered into a logbook solely for this process, separate from all other cases.

No less than the presiding justice of the Court of Appeals keeps watch over this. It’s like a book of secrets. (As an aside, it’s a journalist’s dream to get hold of this.)

The Supreme Court rule reads: “No person, including Court personnel, shall disclose, divulge, or communicate to anyone directly or indirectly…the fact of the filing of the petition for freeze order, its contents…except to those authorized by the Court. Violation shall constitute contempt of court.”

“So you understand why we don’t announce these,” Bacay-Abad says. “Our petitions are investigative tools and they are not yet conclusive.”

Real assets

What about the real properties of Napoles, her houses in exclusive enclaves, condominium units in minted addresses, SUVs and luxury cars? News reports say some of her properties are up for sale.

The AMLC has already requested the Land Registration Authority for a list of all Napoles properties, Bacay-Abad says, but they have yet to receive the information.

For the AMLC, stopping the cash from disappearing is a priority.

“Real properties can be traced even if they’re sold,” the straightforward AMLC boss continues. “Their urgency is not as heavy as bank accounts.”

Moreover, the AMLC is not capable of managing assets it has recovered. “We lack an asset management framework,” Bacay-Abad says.

For instance, the AMLC won a forfeiture case in 2011 involving a commercial building in Quezon City and a 7-hectare agricultural land in Pangasinan. Till today, the titles have not yet been transferred to the government because the properties are saddled with arrears. The AMLC has proposed paying the arrears to speed up the process but this has yet to be given a green light by the budget department, Commission on Audit, and the justice department.

It’s hard for the AMLC to take possession of vehicles, Bacay-Abad adds, because these need to be maintained. Who will take care of this? As it is, the AMLC is composed of 3 groups: information management and analysis which is the repository of data, compliance and investigation group, and a legal services group.

Together with other anti-corruption agencies, the AMLC has proposed the creation of a separate office that will manage forfeited assets. In the US, the Marshall Service handles the job. In the case of Thailand, its anti-money laundering group has an asset management bureau.

Meanwhile, the AMLC has its hands full. Early next year, we should be hearing from them about the results of their Napoles probe. - Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 09:21 AM
Superlines bus driver maintains innocence in crash

By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.

Inquirer Southern Luzon

4:03 am | Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

ATIMONAN, Quezon—The driver of the ill-fated Bicol-bound Superlines passenger bus that was involved in the multiple-vehicle collision here on Saturday expressed his sympathies to the families of the victims but maintained that he was not to blame for the accident that killed 20 persons and injured more than 50 others.

“I’m also one of the victims. I’m not the culprit here,” Albert Nava, 48, told the Inquirer from his detention cell at the Atimonan police station on Monday.

Nava said he had met with the some of the victims’ families when they came to the Atimonan police station to retrieve the personal belongings of the casualties.

“They even hugged me and said that I’m lucky because I am alive. But they did not blame me. They all understood that the accident was not my fault,” Nava said.

Police investigation showed that the bus driven by Nava was hit from behind by a truck, causing his bus to collide with six other vehicles.

Senior Supt. Ronaldo Ylagan, Quezon police chief, however, said Nava was still to be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple serious physical injuries.

The case was filed Monday in the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Lucena.

The driver of the truck that triggered the multiple collisions died in the incident.

Nava’s wife, Marilou, who was with her husband during the interview, said she learned of the accident from neighbors and was initially told that he was in critical condition. “I became worried when I could not reach him through his cell phone so I rushed here. Thank God he is safe,” she said.

Nava said he lost control after the wayward truck hit his bus from behind while they were both descending the zigzag portion of the diversion road on the Maharlika Highway in Barangay (village) Sta. Catalina here past 1 a.m. on Oct. 19.

“The bump from behind was too strong. It forced my vehicle to zoom fast downhill. I tried to control the wheel but the bus was turning around until it fell on its side,” Nava recalled.

Nava said he was thrown out of the bus and landed in the muddy roadside. “When I heard the moans and cries for help, I immediately got up and helped my passengers,” he said.

He said he had also intended to proceed to the Superlines main terminal in Atimonan town proper to report the incident, but he was held by the police. The Superlines bus company is owned by the Lavidez family of Atimonan.

The police report confirmed Nava’s story as to the cause of the accident. Investigators found that the truck that hit the passenger bus from behind had suffered a mechanical failure, causing it to slam into the rear of the bus.

Aside from the truck driver, his two helpers were also killed. Fifteen of the fatalities were passengers of Nava’s bus while the rest were from the other vehicles.

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 09:23 AM
^^^ If Albert Nava's bus was hit from behind, and that was what caused the smashup with the other vehicles, how can he be reckless and/or imprudent?

Sam Miguel
10-23-2013, 07:58 AM
Toxic cycle

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:05 pm | Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

If Taiwan can do it, why can’t we?

Jail erring high officials, that is. Just last Friday, the Supreme Court of Taiwan upheld the bribery convictions of five senior judges in what has been described as some of the worst cases of judicial corruption in the island nation’s history.

With the ruling, former high court judge Tsai Kuang-chih is off to serve a 20-year term and pay a fine of Tw$3.5 million (US$119,000) for taking bribes of around Tw$3 million to absolve fellow judge Chang Ping-lung in a corruption trial in 2005. Tsai’s accomplice in this crime, Fang A-sheng, another chief high court judge, was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison, while Chang got a jail time of one year.

In a second case involving Tsai, the judge facilitated the payment of Tw$3.5 million in bribes to his colleagues Chen Jung-ho and Li Chun-ti to acquit a former legislator belonging to Taiwan’s dominant Koumintang Party who was indicted in 2004 of cornering kickbacks in a land development case. Convicted in 2006, the legislator appealed the verdict to the high court, where Tsai, Chen and Li found him not guilty.

It was money, as usual, that did the trick. The ex-legislator reportedly gave Li Tw$2 million and another Tw$2 million to Tsai’s girlfriend. The couple kept Tw$500,000 for themselves and gave the remaining Tw$1.5 million to Chen, right in his office. For their crimes, Chen and Li were sentenced to 18 years and 11-and-a-half years, respectively.

This isn’t the first time that Taiwan has clapped in jail high and mighty citizens who transgressed the law. The most high-profile case involves ex-president Chen Shui-bian, whose election in 2000 heralded so much promise as it marked the first time in half a century that Taiwan’s chief executive didn’t come from the entrenched Koumintang Party. Chen survived an assassination attempt while campaigning for reeelection in 2004, but was eventually convicted of bribery charges along with his wife. He is now serving a 20-year jail term for the misuse of some Tw$14.8 million of government funds.

And so on. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea has jailed at least two ex-presidents, Singapore has kicked out the chief of its anticorruption agency over an underling’s misappropriation of more than S$1.7 million (US$1.34 million) in public funds (a rare case of governmental scandal in what is universally seen as Asia’s least corrupt country), and Indonesia’s anticorruption court has, in the last five years, scored a raft of successful convictions against prominent politicians and public officials.

A research paper by Emil P. Bolongaita published online by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre compares the record of the Corruption Eradication Commission of Indonesia (KPK) and the Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines, and sees a huge difference. “Why was the KPK, in just five years, able to reach a 100-percent conviction rate against top officials in all major branches of the Indonesian government, while the Philippine Ombudsman has scored only few convictions in its 20-year history?” it asks.

“Part of this success can be explained by considerable investigative powers given to KPK, which the Philippine Ombudsman does not hold. Also, rigorous pretesting of every prosecution and a highly efficient anticorruption court contribute to KPK’s success.”

That’s a valid explanation, but an incomplete one. The bigger question is why the Philippine Ombudsman does not hold the same extent of investigative powers—and there is only one answer: Because those running the political system and thus potentially in the cross-hairs of any Ombudsman investigation refuses to thus empower it. The self-serving nature of the country’s political system simply thwarts any meaningful attempt at sustained transparency and irreproachability in public governance.

The grasping, circle-the-wagons mindset of the ruling system is what accounts for the lethal apathy at prosecuting wrongdoing that has allowed the Marcoses to escape accountability for over two decades now for their well-documented pillage. It’s the same penchant for short-term political accommodation that allowed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to get away with pardoning Joseph Estrada for the crime of plunder, and herself to so far dodge any reckoning for, say, stealing the elections, and caught on tape at that—a crime of such enormousness that in other countries would have merited the severest punishment.

And because no one gets punished, the cycle of official crime and corruption goes on—grows more toxic, like the cancer that it is.

Sam Miguel
11-05-2013, 09:18 AM
Gov’t lawyers oppose Razon bid on evidence

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:19 am | Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—State prosecutors have opposed the appeal of former Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon Jr. and other former police officers accused of graft and malversation in the Sandiganbayan to limit the presentation of evidence against them in the hearing on their bail petitions.

In a counter-manifestation, prosecutors Irenio Paldeng and Leoveminda Ambojia-Villanueva and Jorge Espinale of the Office of the Ombudsman said that the state, like the accused, was also entitled to due process in criminal cases and, therefore, must be given a chance to present its evidence in support of the charges.

The prosecutors said that since the burden of proof was on them, they must be given enough time to show that the evidence met the required quantum.

“For this purpose, the prosecution must be given an opportunity to present within a reasonable time all the evidence that it may want to adduce,” the prosecutors said.

What constitutes a “reasonable time” and “all evidence” to be presented depends on the nature and complexity of the case, they said.

In their manifestation, Razon and his coaccused complained to the antigraft court that the prosecution was causing an “inordinate delay” in the bail hearing by presenting a long list of witnesses and documents, some of which were not even relevant to the petition at hand.

They noted that the prosecution had so far presented only five of the 71 witnesses it had listed in its compliance in the case.

The accused said a delay in the proceedings would not only give rise to a denial of justice to them but would also work undue vexation and oppression upon them and others involved, from the government to the offended private parties.

Razon has posted bail and pleaded not guilty to four counts of graft, but is still being detained for the malversation case in connection with the alleged bogus repair and maintenance of 28 police armored vehicles to the tune of P358.58 million in 2007 and 2008. There are 32 others accused in the cases.

In their counter-manifestation, the prosecutors said they were aware of the constitutional provision that states that before conviction, all persons shall be allowed to post bail, except those charged with offenses punishable by life imprisonment or more and when the evidence of guilt is strong.

Sam Miguel
11-08-2013, 07:59 AM
Napoles told: Talk or die

Santiago: Senators involved murderous

By Leila B. Salaverria, Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:24 am | Friday, November 8th, 2013

Squeal or be killed.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday left her sickbed to give Janet Lim-Napoles that advice as the alleged mastermind behind the pork barrel scam clammed up on the involvement of lawmakers and government officials in the theft of P10 billion in government funds over the last 10 years.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, Napoles was taken from her detention center in a convoy guarded by rifle-toting policemen, and she was warned at the opening of the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry into the pork barrel scam that she had good reason to fear being killed.

Napoles proclaimed her innocence, but refused to talk about the alleged involvement of lawmakers in the racket for which she, three senators and 34 other people, including five former congressmen and five ex-agency chiefs, are now facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Santiago said the senators accused of plunder with her were hoping to kill her to ensure she did not testify against them.

“Tell the truth before the senators affected have you assassinated, that is your path to safety,” Santiago said.

Blanket denial

Santiago may have failed to get Napoles to squeal on the lawmakers, but managed to get her to take back her blanket denial of having anything to do with the legislators.

Santiago appeared at the hearing to lecture Napoles on the right against self-incrimination.

“Many people want you dead. That’s why I’m telling you as a lawyer to tell us what you want to say so that they can no longer have you killed,” Santiago told Napoles.

She told Napoles that those involved in the scam would continue to see her as a threat as long as she remained silent.

Santiago told her that she could easily change her mind and rat on her alleged conspirators.

Strong evidence

“But if you tell us [what you know] now, they will no longer have a motive to kill you because your motive is already there. And that is under oath, affidavit or even a dying declaration, for all you know, and a dying declaration is very strong evidence,” Santiago said.

The senator has been on an extended medical leave from the Senate because of chronic fatigue.

But she announced on Twitter on Wednesday night that she would attend Thursday’s hearing to “show [Napoles] she cannot take advantage of the right against self-incrimination.”

And at the hearing, she told her that the lawmakers involved wanted her dead.

“They’re not only homicidal, they are also murderous. They’re planning on murder. So, while it is still early tell us who’s the most guilty among those involved,” Santiago said.

But Napoles replied in Filipino, “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? I know. Because his empire is quite wide,” Santiago said.

Not most guilty

Santiago told Napoles that she couldn’t have been the most guilty in the pork barrel scam because she lacked “sophistication.”

“You’re not exposed to sophisticated lifestyle like in Metro Manila that’s why it can be said that you came from a poor family,” Santiago said.

Santiago urged Napoles to tell the committee who was the most guilty “so that he can’t transfer being the most guilty to you.”

“That person is listening to us. He doesn’t show himself, that’s his style, but he’s listening. He has a lot of money and after this he will order his minions to put me down,” the senator said.

Santiago was obviously referring to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, with whom she had been quarreling since late 2012.

Enrile did not appear at the blue ribbon committee hearing. He and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. are facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman together with Napoles for the pork barrel scam.

All three have denied any wrongdoing.

Revilla did not attend the hearing. Estrada was in the United States.

‘Tanda,’ ‘Sexy’ and ‘Pogi’

“Your former employees say that you call Enrile ‘Tanda’ (old man). Who else in the Senate is old other than Enrile? He said he’s already 89, but we’re not sure. He may already be 99, or 109, because he seemed to be suffering from dementia, especially on things as regards me,” Santiago told Napoles.

She asked Napoles if Estrada was the “Sexy” she was referring to according to the whistle-blowers.

“I also don’t know,” Napoles replied.

“You don’t know? But you do. What you want to say is you invoke your right against self-incrimination,” Santiago shot back.

After consulting her lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Napoles changed her answer and said, “I invoke my right (against self-incrimination).”

“I have nothing else to say because that’s our law,” Santiago said.

But she went on to ask Napoles if Revilla was the one she called ‘Pogi’ (handsome).

“I invoke my right,” Napoles said.

Santiago asked her if she personally knew Enrile or Estrada or Revilla.

“I invoke my right,” Napoles said.

Santiago then asked if Napoles knew any of the other senators who may be charged for involvement in the pork barrel scam.

“I invoke my right,” Napoles said.

The hearing ended after a short break for lunch, with the senators beaten back by a witness who was determined to keep her mouth shut.

Harder work

In the House of Representatives, congressmen were disappointed, saying that Napoles’ denying knowledge of the pork barrel scam had been expected.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the Senate had to work harder to determine who really was the mastermind behind the theft of the government’s development funds.

Zarate said nothing could be expected from Napoles, as she already knew that the burden of proving the case against her and the “cabal of scammers and plunderers” lay with the government.

“Her denial, though disappointing, is expected. She is not just saving herself but also her patrons, including those yet to be named, exposed and charged,” Zarate said in a statement.

But should she be proved to have lied, the authorities could go after her for perjury because she testified under oath, Zarate said.

The senators should look for other ways to discover the truth, he said.

“The Senate blue ribbon committee must now exert efforts to get to the bottom of this scam beyond the blanket denial of Napoles,” he said.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said there was enough evidence to prosecute Napoles and her coconspirators despite her evasive answers.

“I doubt she will be able to get away just because she denied anything and everything,” Evardone said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the Senate must not belittle its power to cite Napoles in contempt and detain her.

Detaining Napoles in the Senate would prevent her from getting away even if the Makati court trying her on charges of serious illegal detention grants her petition for bail, Colmenares said.

Holding her in the Senate would also allow easier access to her for information she might have than if she continues to be held at a police training camp in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna province, he said.

Pressing charges

Malacañang said it understood Napoles’ decision to remain silent.

“Whoever in a similar situation wants to protect her rights and personal integrity,” Malacañang spokesman Herminio Coloma told reporters.

Coloma said it was up to the Senate if it wanted to grant immunity to Napoles, as it was the senators who would decide the value of their resource persons’ testimony.

He said Malacañang was more interested in seeing the charges against Napoles through the Office of the Ombudsman than in quibbling over the grant of immunity to the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam.

“That is the objective of our government,” Coloma said. “That is why we stay focused . . . on moving the process forward, from the Ombudsman to the Sandiganbayan so those involved can [be tried] and ultimately held accountable.”

Coloma said the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation was part of the “overall effort” to discover who really was behind the misuse of the PDAF and other discretionary funds.—With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and AFP

Sam Miguel
11-08-2013, 08:01 AM
Santiago tags Enrile pork scam godfather

By TJ A. Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:10 am | Friday, November 8th, 2013

Janet Lim-Napoles, a high-school graduate from the poor and conflict-torn Basilan province in southern Philippines, could not have built a pork barrel “empire” by herself, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Thursday.

The real empire builder had to be someone more intelligent and powerful, Santiago said, referring to the brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam blamed on Napoles.

And who was that?

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Santiago said, describing the former Senate President as the godfather of the pork barrel scam.

“He is,” Santiago said when asked if it really was Enrile.

“His paternity is unquestionable. His DNA has been confirmed,” Santiago said.

The 89-year-old Enrile, who did not appear at Thursday’s hearing called by the Senate blue ribbon committee for the questioning of Napoles on the systematic theft of development funds, denied Santiago’s accusation.

“I feel compelled to issue a statement on today’s Senate hearing lest my silence in the face of the most outrageous allegations will be construed against me,” Enrile said.

“I support any investigation that seeks to uncover the truth about this PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam,” he said.

“To this end, I urge Mrs. Napoles to reveal the whole truth no matter who is hurt, as only the truth will set me free,” he said.

‘Wild-eyed charges’

Without mentioning Santiago by name, Enrile said some members of the blue ribbon committee used the hearing to make “wild-eyed charges, baseless assumptions and false accusations” through which they “converted the investigation into a parody of justice.”

“They should lead the facts to a just conclusion instead of corralling their own predilections into a preordained conclusion,” Enrile said.

“Finally, let me reiterate my innocence and that of my staff members and my office,” he said.

In an interview with reporters, Santiago said testimonies from the whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scandal as well as reports by state auditors would point to Enrile as the “most guilty.”

“There are 36 of them. You have 36 people swearing on their lives. You can’t ignore 36 testimonies,” she said. “You can’t ignore actual testimonial and documentary evidence. You’ve got documentary and testimonial evidence. As trial judges, we don’t need anything more.”

Relations between Santiago and Enrile soured after a dispute over Christmas bonuses in the Senate last year.

Not the guiltiest

Santiago, who questioned Napoles for close to an hour during the hearing, said she believed the 49-year-old businesswoman wasn’t the “most guilty.”

If at all, the “most guilty” was a group of public officials, either senators or Cabinet officials, or a mix of both, she said.

“They’re the kernel. They’re the source of her strength. She wouldn’t have had the guts if she didn’t have protection,” Santiago told reporters during a break in the hearing.

“She wasn’t born rich. She didn’t have the connections to get rich that quick. She didn’t even finish college,” she said.

She wondered: How did Napoles end up a foreign investor?

“It’s not possible that a woman like her, no matter how invested, how talented, could possibly build up an empire consisting of senators, Cabinet members and representatives in so short a time. She started from poverty; she admits it. She did not even finish college,” she added.

Singled out

The doubt about Napoles being the mastermind behind the pork barrel scam came up with the senators’ offer of immunity for her in exchange for her disclosing the identity of the real brains behind the racket.

Santiago told Napoles that she must be the least guilty, not the most guilty, to be given immunity and she went on to say that Napoles could not be the most guilty one in the conspiracy to steal public funds.

Santiago singled out Enrile, who is facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman for the scam along with Napoles, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., and 34 others, in her discussion of the most guilty.

“Who emboldened her? Enrile. He was the Senate President at the time,” Santiago said.

COA audit report

In a special audit of the PDAF, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported that P6.2 billion in pork was transferred to 82 nongovernment organizations from 2007 to 2009, including at least eight that had links to Napoles.

The funds were sourced from the PDAF allocations of Revilla (P413.29 million), Enrile (P332.7 million), Estrada (P191.58 million) and Sen. Gregorio Honasan (P14.55 million), among other lawmakers.

Sam Miguel
11-13-2013, 08:57 AM
Mad rush out of Tacloban

Thousands foiled in bid to leave devastated city

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:30 am | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

TACLOBAN CITY—Thousands of typhoon survivors swarmed the airport here on Tuesday, seeking a flight out, but only a few hundred made it, leaving behind a shattered city short of food and water and littered with bodies.

As two Philippine Air Force C-130s arrived just after dawn at the destroyed Daniel Romualdez Airport, more than 3,000 people surged to the tarmac past a broken iron fence to try and get on the aircraft, but soldiers and policemen held them back.

Mothers raised their babies high above their heads in the rain in hopes of getting aboard. One woman in her 30s lay on a stretcher, shaking uncontrollably.

Only a few managed to board.

“I was pleading with the soldiers. I was kneeling and begging because I have diabetes,” said Helen Cordial, whose house was destroyed during the typhoon. “Do they want me to die in this airport? They have hearts of stone.”

A second stampede occurred Tuesday afternoon when people rushed to a US Air Force C-130 to try and get out of the city. But they were driven back by the police.

‘Back to primitive age’

“This is a wake-up call for us,” Supt. Rafel Doron, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection Service in Southern Leyte, said after seeing the destruction caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” around the city of 220,000 people.

Doron said his team’s efforts to help city residents were not enough, given the magnitude of the destruction that befell Tacloban and other badly hit places in Eastern Samar.

Money seemed to have no value in the city—people would rather have food, water, electricity and means of communication.

“The city has been thrown back to the primitive age,” Doron said.

Sleeping in the rain

Most of the residents had spent the night under pouring rain wherever they could—in the ruins of destroyed houses and along roadsides and fallen trees.

Some slept in tents brought by relief groups.

Tacloban bore the full force of Yolanda’s winds and tsunami-like storm surges.

Most of the city is in ruins, a tangled mess of destroyed houses, cars and trees. Malls, garages and shops have all been stripped of food and water by hungry residents.

Doron and his crew navigated the roads littered with debris to get to the city convention center to deliver potable water, a luxury to residents.

Bodies lay on the side of a road—a sight that shocked first responders, like Doron.

Doron’s team has been working nonstop, cleaning up roads and delivering water since Sunday. They arrived on Saturday night from Maasin town.

Some residents waited near the airport during Tuesday’s intermittent rains. Most were impatient, at times getting unruly at the gates.

Tired Air Force pilots told people scrambling to get on a flight out of the city to try a Navy ship that could accommodate up to 2,000 people and bring them to Cebu province.

But his appeal apparently went unheeded.

Clash with rebels

Other problems bedeviled the authorities.

On Tuesday, soldiers clashed with about 15 suspected communist rebels who had attacked an aid convoy en route to Tacloban and killed two of them, the military said.

“There were no casualties on the government side,” Lt. Col. Joselito Kakilala said, adding one of the attackers was wounded.

The encounter occurred in Sorsogon’s Matnog town, 240 kilometers from Tacloban. Some of the relief goods were taken by the attackers.

Loved ones first

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the exodus of some residents could be attributed to the decision of heads of families to move their loved ones to safety so they could focus on rebuilding their lives.

“It’s normal for every father to want his family out,” Romualdez said. “You have to take care of your loved ones first. You can’t work because you’re thinking of their safety.”

Nearly five days after Yolanda struck, residents had begun cleaning up roads and collecting bodies lying in the streets.

The stench of death was overpowering.

On a road leading to the airport, more than 20 bodies of men, women, and children—already black and bloated—were lying around.

Most were covered with galvanized sheets while others were wrapped in blankets.

‘We will die here’

It was the same scene downtown.

A huge signboard on a road with a handwritten appeal in Filipino read: “Please pick up the dead. We are going to die here. There are 40 bodies in St. Peter’s (funeral parlor).”

Construction worker Joey Talisay, 27, said his wife and three children, the youngest of whom was 9 months old, drowned in the storm surge. Their bodies were still at the elementary school some 2 kilometers away from the airport.

Talisay’s two other children survived while another two were missing.

“We don’t have food here,” Talisay said.

He and his friends were staying at a place near the elementary school, which had served as evacuation center before the typhoon struck.

Body bags

Romualdez said people were still coming out of “shock from the supertyphoon” and “should be given some slack” when they complained of lack of food and water.

“Of course, they are thinking of what they would eat, not only today, but also for the rest of the week,” he said.

Romualdez said the local government was working to collect the bodies. He said more than 1,000 body bags had arrived from the health department in Manila.

About 70 bodies recovered on Tuesday were sent to the Philippine National Police office for identification. If they remain unclaimed, they will be buried in mass graves.

Follow the stench

Romualdez said more cadavers lay in the debris of collapsed structures. “We just follow the stench to get to where they are,” he said.

The mayor said order was returning little by little to the city, with more than 100 troops now deployed.

He said he wanted to thank Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas for sending additional forces when looting became a problem.

Still, some had taken advantage of the calamity and ransacked stores and houses.

Curfew imposed

A curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. has been imposed in the city. Romualdez said the city was “slowly getting back to having peace and order.”

He also stressed the urgency for telecommunications companies to restore operations to allow for the flow of information, which the people needed after being isolated for nearly a week now.

The mayor urged gas stations and stores to start cleaning up and reopen.

“The worst is over,” Romualdez said. “We were knocked down like Manny Pacquiao, but we will build our city again. We will survive.”—With reports from AP and AFP

Sam Miguel
11-13-2013, 08:58 AM
Mad rush out of Tacloban

Thousands foiled in bid to leave devastated city

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:30 am | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Clash with rebels

Other problems bedeviled the authorities.

On Tuesday, soldiers clashed with about 15 suspected communist rebels who had attacked an aid convoy en route to Tacloban and killed two of them, the military said.

“There were no casualties on the government side,” Lt. Col. Joselito Kakilala said, adding one of the attackers was wounded.

The encounter occurred in Sorsogon’s Matnog town, 240 kilometers from Tacloban. Some of the relief goods were taken by the attackers.



Hunt these f---ing rebels down and kill them all.

Sam Miguel
11-13-2013, 10:27 AM
Gap in the chain

A LAW EACH DAY(Keeps Trouble Away)

By Jose C. Sison

(philstar.com) | Updated November 13, 2013 - 12:00am

In any criminal prosecution, the existence of the corpus delicti or the body of the offence, the essence of the crime, must be established beyond reasonable doubt. Thus in illegal sale of prohibited drugs, the illegal sale must be proven and the prohibited drug sold must be presented in court by applying the “chain of custody” rule. This case of Max explains this rule.

Max was charged among others with illegal sale of 0.05 grams of shabu in violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. He was caught in a buy-bust operation conducted by a four-man team of the Drug Enforcement Unit of a City Police headed by SPO3 Alex who received a telephone call from a concerned citizen about the peddling of shabu in the streets.

For his defense Max testified that he was merely framed up because at said date and time he was having dinner with his wife and daughter when four armed men in civilian clothes barged into his house, handcuffed and frisked him and confiscated his wallet then brought him to the police precinct. He said that thereafter a police officer showed him a plastic sachet and threatened to file a case against him unless he paid P20,000. Since he could not pay, Max said that he was detained and subsequently charged

Alex and two other police officers on the other hand testified on how the buy-bust operation was conducted at a target area where they met a confidential asset who assisted them. Police Officer 1 (PO1) Mike told the court that as Max handed to him a plastic sachet containing white crystalline, Max immediately grabbed from him the marked money of five twenty peso bills. So at a pre-arranged signal, he apprehended Max as his companion closed in and confiscated a black plastic case held by Max which yielded a pair of scissors, unsealed plastic sachet containing traces of white crystalline substance and five empty plastic sachets. Thereafter, PO1Mike said that he marked all the seized items including the sachet containing the crystalline substance subject of the sale and brought Max to the police station where he turned over the seized substance to the investigator. SPO3Mat and PO1 Alan substantially echoed Mike’s narration.

But no record or testimony was presented regarding the seized substance from the time it was given to the investigator up to its turnover to the forensic chemist for examination then back to the investigator for its presentation in court. The testimony of the forensic chemist was dispensed with because the parties stipulated that the specimen exists and there was a request for its examination and the results thereof.

After trial, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) found Max guilty as charged and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The RTC said that the prosecution had sufficiently established the corpus delicti consisting of the buy-bust money paid and the shabu purchased from Max. It added that Max’s defense of frame-up was not supported by clear and convincing evidence. Was the RTC correct?

No. Proof beyond reasonable doubt demands the observance with unwavering exactitude of the “chain of custody rule” in establishing the corpus delicti. This rule removes unnecessary doubts concerning the evidence presented. Chain of custody means the duly recorded movements and custody of seized drugs at each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory, to safekeeping, to presentation in court and destruction. Such record of movements and custody of the seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who had its temporary custody, the dates and times when transfers of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and its final disposition. It includes testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered in evidence, detailing the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same.

The totality of the prosecution evidence in this case does not meet this standard. It bears no account of the precautions taken to ensure that there was no change in the condition of the object and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession thereof. After the marking and eventual turnover to the investigator, no explanation was given as to what happened from the time the investigator turned it over to the chemist and from the chemist to the investigator and its presentation in court. Such want of explanation or record shows a significant gap in the chain of custody of the alleged seized item. The stipulations as to the existence of the specimen, its turn over to the chemist for examination and the results thereof have no bearing on the issue of chain of custody. They do not cover the manner of handling the specimen before it came to the possession of the chemist and after it had left her possession. Courts should be extra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person is made to suffer the unusually severe penalty for drug offenses. So Max should be acquitted (People vs. Gutierrez, G.R. 179213, September 3, 2009).

* * *

Sam Miguel
11-14-2013, 07:43 AM
Get ‘Big 6’ fugitives, De Lima dares NBI

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:59 am | Thursday, November 14th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday challenged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), especially the intelligence services, to find the so-called “Big 6” high-profile fugitives to face the charges that have been filed against them through the efforts of the NBI.

Speaking at the 77th founding anniversary of the NBI, De Lima said the NBI investigations into the cases of these fugitives will be useless if the latter continue to evade justice.

“These are the follow-throughs that we need to improve on. Without them, all we have are pyrrhic victories, impressive to look upon but barren and meaningless in the final analysis,” De Lima said in her speech.

De Lima told reporters she was making the challenge because it was “frustrating” that the NBI through its fact-finding and investigative teams worked so hard to solve high-profile cases and yet the suspects remain free.

She said she was addressing the challenge to the NBI intelligence services, noting that it was a big thing if this division was efficient and knew what it was supposed to do.

The justice secretary told the agency to “up the ante.”

“I challenge you: Find these people and make them face the charges that were filed because of your own efforts, and those of other investigating agencies. We need results, and I challenge you to deliver,” she said.

The Big 6 fugitives are Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother Mario, the former mayor of Coron town; former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr.; Delfin Lee, owner of the Globe Asiatique real estate company; and Reynald “Jojo” Lim, the brother of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Tracker teams have failed to determine the whereabouts of these six fugitives.

Meanwhile, De Lima issued a second challenge to the NBI, for the agency’s officials to prove that one of them is capable of leading the agency.

Medardo de Lemos is currently the officer in charge of the NBI after NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas resigned.

De Lima asked all but one of the six NBI deputy directors to resign, saying she had trust issues on two to four of them.

“There is nothing I would like better than to raise someone from the inside to the top leadership of the bureau, but I would not support such a move unless I can find worthy candidates. This is about performance, concrete and tangible results. Deliver. And so shall you be rewarded,” she said.

De Lima acknowledged that she had misgivings “about the commitment to truth and justice harbored by certain officials or individuals in the bureau”. She challenged the agency’s officials to “surprise me in a positive way, and prove me wrong about these misgivings.”

De Lima told reporters she was still “vetting” possible candidates that she could recommend to the President.

“A few names are being considered, including insiders,” she said.

Joescoundrel
11-20-2013, 06:59 AM
Supreme Court slays PDAF

14-0 ruling big blow to patronage politics

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:38 am | Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

In a landmark decision that could spell the end of political patronage, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared unconstitutional past and present congressional pork barrel laws as it ordered the criminal prosecution of individuals who had benefited from the schemes over the past two decades.

The high court, voting 14-0-1, also struck down the discretionary provisions granted the President in the use of multibillion-peso oil revenues from the Malampaya Fund and the Presidential Social Fund—the government share of revenues from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

In declaring unconstitutional the provisions on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and its earlier incarnation, the 1990 Countrywide Development Fund (CDF), the high tribunal held that these arrangements violated the principle of separation of powers.

Reversing itself after thrice upholding the legality of the lawmakers’ pork barrel, the court said that this time it simply “allowed legislators to wield, in varying gradations, nonoversight, postenactment authority in vital areas of budget execution” and denied the President the power to veto items in the GAA.

The ruling was issued four months after the Inquirer broke the story that P10 billion in allocations from the PDAF and the Malampaya Fund meant to ease rural poverty and the plight of storm victims over the past 10 years had gone to ghost projects and massive kickbacks.

“This will surely hurt the presidency,” said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms. “It means it will be very difficult for the executive and legislative branches to create discretionary funds.”

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said political patronage would have little influence now during elections. “Little by little, I hope we come to a time where people will vote based on performance.”

Unconstitutional

In its three-page ruling, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the following laws and practices:

– “All legal provisions of past and present congressional pork barrel laws … which authorized legislators—whether individually or collectively organized into committees—to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various postenactment identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight.

– “All legal provisions of past and present congressional pork barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF articles and the various congressional insertions, which conferred personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine.

– “All informal practices of similar import and effect, which the court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion.

– “The phrases (1) ‘and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President’ under Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910” on the use of the Malampaya Fund other than for energy development and (2) “to finance the priority infrastructure development projects” under Section 12 of PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, for both failing the sufficient standard test in violation of the principle of nondelegability of legislative power.”

The two presidential decrees refer to a portion of revenues from Pagcor to fund projects ranging from flood control to beautification and healthcare in Metropolitan Manila authorized by the President.

Prosecution ordered

The court said a temporary restraining order issued on Sept. 10 covering the remaining PDAF allocations for the rest of the year—roughly P12 billion—and those from previous years had become permanent. It said these funds, along with the Pagcor resources, should be returned to the Treasury.

A Pagcor statement said that for the first nine months of this year, it remitted to Malacañang P2 billion of its earnings. According to the Department of Energy, the Malampaya Fund amounted to P132 billion as of June 30. It was P70 billion when President Aquino assumed office.

The Supreme Court likewise directed the government to investigate and prosecute all government officials and private individuals who have irregularly, improperly or unlawfully disbursed funds under the pork barrel system.

Associate Justice Estela Bernabe wrote the ruling. Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. inhibited himself from the decision, saying his son is a congressman.

Plunder complaints

The National Bureau of Investigation has filed a complaint for plunder in the Office of the Ombudsman against businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam. They all have denied any wrongdoing.

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and three of her Cabinet secretaries were also named recently in another plunder complaint in connection with the alleged wholesale theft of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund meant for victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009.

“We thought we won,” said Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza. The government respects the court ruling, he told reporters before attending oral arguments on petitions questioning in the Supreme Court the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program—an impounding mechanism for government savings.

Jardeleza had pleaded for the retention of the congressional pork, saying that half a million students and a similar number of indigent patients were depending on the lawmakers for their continued enrollment and healthcare.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said he wanted to see the full decision to determine if there was still a way to make use of the pork barrel funds.—With a report from Leila B. Salaverria and AFP

Sam Miguel
11-22-2013, 09:38 AM
Enrile slams ‘fake leak’

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:12 am | Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday thanked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales “for denying the Inquirer banner story that purportedly named him the ‘mastermind’ of the pork barrel scam.”

Enrile’s legal team is writing the Inquirer to demand an apology and “to require that the Ombudsman’s denial be given the same prominence as that of the false report,” according to a statement by the senator’s lawyer, Enrique dela Cruz.

“[Enrile] demands the Inquirer to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman’s investigation of this fake leak and disclose who is responsible for it,” the statement said.

The Ombudsman is being urged to investigate and discipline all those involved in the leak of a non-existent report, “including, but not limited to, securing e-mails and phone records of the persons from the Ombudsman’s Office and the Inquirer named in the report.”

Enrile said the report was “merely the latest and most outrageous of a series of supposed leaks by the Inquirer, clearly intended to malign and defame him.”

“The pattern is clearly designed to try him by publicity. This is a violation of due process and a clear breach of journalistic ethics,” the statement read.

Enrile asked the National Press Club “to call the attention of the Inquirer, its publishers, its editors and its reporters to be fair and circumspect in its future reporting.”

“Senator Enrile maintains his innocence and his determination to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman to bring to justice all those who are truly responsible for this scam,” the statement said.—Norman Bordadora

Sam Miguel
11-25-2013, 08:11 AM
DBM bares lawmakers’ letters to bogus NGOs

Money also channeled to Napoles-run firms

By Christian V. Esguerra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:05 am | Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Did taxpayer money made available to legislators through the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) also land in bogus foundations put up by alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles?

In 2011, the year the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced the economic stimulus spending program, four senators sought the release of P100 million for each, which they later channeled to nongovernment organizations (NGOs) identified with Napoles, documents obtained by the Inquirer showed.

In separate letters, Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vicente Sotto III initially asked that the amounts be released for projects to be implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Realingment sought

But they later told the DBM to “realign” the funds to the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), and then endorsed foundations linked to Napoles to “implement” the projects.

There were noticeable similarities in form and content in the four senators’ letters, such as the description of the foundations as either “partners” or “conduits” in the implementation of the projects.

The most strikingly similar were the senators’ letters to the DBM wherein they asked that the funds be moved “from” the DAR “to” the NLDC. They bore what appeared to be the signatures of the four senators.

All the letters to the DBM were coursed through budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, who was included in a plunder complaint filed last Thursday by the Department of Justice for allegedly pocketing for himself part of the P900 million in Malampaya Fund intended for typhoon victims. Also charged were former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, three of her Cabinet members, and 20 others.

“May I request that we include some nongovernment organizations as our partners in the implementation of the project subject to government accounting and auditing rules and regulations,” Revilla wrote NLDC president Gondelina Amata in a letter dated March 19, 2012.

Revilla then identified three NGOs—the Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (GASMFI), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc. (Cared), and the Kaupdanan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMI). The first two foundations were to receive P30 million each while KPMI was to get P40 million.

Revilla’s P100-million request was covered by special allotment release order (Saro) No. E-11-01881 dated Dec. 6, 2011.

Earlier on Nov. 22, 2011, Revilla had written then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile seeking an “endorsement” to the DBM for the release of P100 million to the DAR. He said the amount was “chargeable against any available fund for the purpose.”

DAP announced

Just the month before, the DBM had announced that the Aquino administration would “implement P72.11 billion in additional projects,” using savings from 2010 and 2011, through a new mechanism called the DAP.

The Aquino administration is now under fire for allegedly using funds released through the DAP to bribe the senators, who sat as judges in the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad later admitted that 16 senators received between P30 million and P100 million after Corona was convicted in May last year. But like President Aquino, he insisted that the amounts were not intended as a bribe because they were released “after the fact.”

Estrada, then the Senate President Pro Tempore, also wrote Enrile on Nov. 22, 2011, seeking a similar endorsement as that requested by Revilla. On Dec. 22, 2011, he wrote Abad to “rectify” the initial release of P100 million to the DAR so the funds could now be made available to the NLDC. The Estrada fund request was covered by Saro No. E-11-01882.

Then on March 16, 2012, Estrada wrote Amata: “May I request for the release of the funds to the following nongovernment organizations as our partner in the implementation of the above undertakings, subject to government accounting and auditing rules and regulations?”

NGOs identified

Estrada listed the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI) and the Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. (APMFI) which would each “implement” P35 million worth of projects. The remaining P30 million was to be implemented by the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI).

Estrada designated his deputy chief of staff, Pauline Labayen, to “sign, follow up, supervise and act on my behalf to ensure the proper and timely implementation of the said projects.”

On Nov. 23, 2011, Marcos and Sotto sent separate letters to Enrile and Sen. Franklin Drilon (then finance committee chair), respectively, requesting his endorsement for the release of P100 million worth of livelihood projects each.

As had been done by Estrada and Revilla, Marcos and Sotto later asked the DBM to realign their respective funds from the DAR to the NLDC. Marcos’ request was covered by Saro No. E-11-01883 with a notice of cash allocation (NCA) No. BMB-E-11-0022390.

In Marcos’ March 16, 2012, letter to Amata, he listed as “conduits” the following NGOs: AEPFF (P45 million), APMFI (P25 million), KPMI (P25 million), and GASMFI (P5 million).

In Sotto’s case, he asked the DBM to move P70 million of his original P100-million fund release from the DAR to the NLDC. The amount he sought to transfer was covered by Saro No. E-11-01884 and NCA No. NCA-BMB-E-11-0022394.

Sotto wrote Amata on March 21, 2012, saying that “our office has designated the following registered nongovernment organizations as your conduit in the implementation” of livelihood projects supposedly intended for “displaced families/marginal farm family beneficiaries and other constituents (nationwide).”

Included in the Sotto letter was the following breakdown: KPMI (P15 million), SDPFFI (P20 million), and Cared (P35 million).

“Additionally, authority is hereby given to Maria Lourdes Estonilo, my Director V, to sign, follow up, supervise and act on my behalf to ensure its proper and timely implementation,” Sotto wrote.

Vehement denials

Sotto last night vehemently denied requesting the DAR to transfer a huge amount of funds to the NLDC for distribution to NGOs identified with Napoles.

“I don’t recall writing such kind of letter. And you can’t forget if it involves such a huge amount,” he said in a phone interview.

“Most probably someone used my name or had my signature forged,” Sotto added.

Sotto lamented that he was again being mentioned in a report on the alleged misuse of pork when the last time such a thing happened, local government officials backed him up to indicate there was nothing irregular with the projects that he had funded in their areas.

“The last time this happened, it was found there was nothing irregular as far as I was concerned,” he said.

As to the copies of letters furnished the Inquirer, Sotto said: ‘‘That was what my office was asked to verify a few weeks ago to check, if that letter came from me. I’m positive it’s not my signature. Even a non-handwriting expert will notice (the difference).”

He offered to send copies of his real signature, ‘‘and you’ll see the difference.”

Marcos said he had already denied any involvement with the release of P100 million of DAP funds.

In a Sept. 9 press statement, Marcos said that after going through his office’s records following a COA inquiry, his staff’s investigation showed that his signature in the supposed letter to Amata dated March 16, 2012, “was falsified.”

Marcos added that the endorsement letter doesn’t appear in his “docket system,” something that was implemented in his office starting 2011.

He said even the signatures of his chief of staff, Ramon Cardenas, that appeared in MOAs to four NGOs were forged.

“I have always exerted due diligence to ensure every centavo set aside for projects will be used in relevant and beneficial projects for the public,” Marcos said in his Sept. 9 statement.

Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon said the senator would “want it [the letters ascribed to him] also examined by a document expert.”

“Most likely these are also fake,” Bodegon said over the phone.

“The existence of those documents only shows that the syndicate including the whistle-blowers continues to operate,” he added.

Calls and text messages to Estrada were not immediately returned.

Main conduit

The state-owned NLDC was allegedly the main conduit of the pork barrel funds of certain senators and representatives that illegally ended up in the Napoles-controlled NGOs. The agency, managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines is the main source of funds for poor farmers in unserved, scarcely populated areas of the country.

According to the whistle-blowers in the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam allegedly run by Napoles that is now the subject of multiple plunder complaints in the Ombudsman, the NLDC was used as the conduit for about P1 billion worth of pork barrel funds of five senators between 2008 and 2010—Estrada, Revilla, Marcos and two other senators, Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan.

Amata was tagged by whistle-blower Benhur Luy as the contact person of Napoles in the NLDC. With a report from Norman Bordadora

gfy
11-27-2013, 09:57 AM
Re Pacquiao's tax issue, he should have filed a return with the IRS. Top Rank and HBO might have withheld 30% but he should still have filed to determine if the withheld amount is sufficient or not. Who knows he might still be entitled to a refund from the IRS. This is the document the BIR needs...

To add: It looks like he filed his ITRs for the two years 2008 and 2009 but these should be certified by the IRS...just like the other years I suppose like 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Joescoundrel
11-28-2013, 07:58 AM
^ I think Congressman Pacquiao's lawyers and accountants simply give bad advice to their client. Typical of all rich people, they'd rather not pay taxes altogether I'm sure, and their lawyers and accountants tried to make that happen through various tax sheltering schemes and even out and out misdeclaration / non-declaration of the good congressman's full income. Too bad it seems Kim Henares is hellbent on really running after everybody taking liberties with their taxes.

Joescoundrel
11-28-2013, 07:58 AM
Court orders freeze on assets of 4 ex-solons in pork scam

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:07 am | Thursday, November 28th, 2013

The Court of Appeals has ordered a freeze on the bank accounts and assets of four former congressmen and six chiefs of staff or representatives of lawmakers, led by Jessica Lucila “Gigi” G. Reyes and Ruby Chan Tuason who allegedly acted as agents for Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, for their complicity in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam believed to be masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

The four members of the House of Representatives are Rodolfo G. Plaza of Agusan del Sur, Samuel M. Dangwa of Benguet, Constantino G. Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro, and Edgar de Leon Valdez of the Apec party-list group.

The six individuals were Reyes (who resigned as Enrile’s chief of staff early this year), Tuason (who represented both Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada), Richard Cambe (chief of staff of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.), Pauline Therese Mary A. Labayen (a staff member of Estrada), Jose “Joy” R. Sumalpong (chief of staff of Masbate Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete), and Erwin C. Dangwa (son and chief of staff of former Benguet Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa).

The Inquirer obtained a copy of the notice of resolution from the appellate court which was distributed to banks and financial institutions where the 10 were believed to have kept part of their assets.

In August, the Court of Appeals issued a six-month freeze order on 344 bank accounts, 66 insurance policies and five credit card accounts held by Napoles, her family and relatives, her employees at JLN Corp. and her dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

The banks that received the court order immediately sent out a memo to all their branches, directing them to submit all accounts of the 10 people (both live and dormant), including the outstanding balance, type of monetary instrument or property, and additional information related or materially linked accounts.

The branch officers were also asked to report the historical movement of these accounts, specifically the source of funds and the recipients of the withdrawals and transfers.

Linked accounts are defined under Republic Act No. 9194, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as those belonging to the same person (whether singly or jointly); his or her “in trust for” (ITF) accounts and corporate accounts where he or she is a major stockholder.

Accounts of his or her immediate family or household members if the amount or value involved is not commensurate with the business or financial capacity of the said family or household member; and shares or units in any investment accounts and/or pooled funds.

The four former lawmakers and the six individuals were among the 38 people the National Bureau of Investigation charged with either plunder, malversation and direct bribery or graft in the Office of the Ombudsman in September in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Among those charged were Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Napoles.

The NBI and whistle-blowers, former employees of Napoles, said the lawmakers channeled their pork barrel, the Priority Development Assistance Fund, into dubious NGOs that Napoles had set up to facilitate kickbacks.

Principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy, a cousin of Napoles, testified at the Senate blue ribbon committee two months ago that lawmakers pocketed up to 50 percent of the supposed cost of a ghost project.

Napoles got 40 percent and government contacts, 10 percent, according to Luy.

Joescoundrel
11-28-2013, 08:01 AM
Pangasinan mayor nabbed on gun raps

By Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo

Inquirer Northern Luzon

5:49 am | Thursday, November 28th, 2013

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested Urbiztondo mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr. for keeping unlicensed firearms and for his possible participation in the murder of a local politician and his wife in Manila last year.

Pedro Roque Jr., head agent of the NBI district office here, said NBI agents swooped down on Balolong’s house and farm in Urbiztondo town at 6:30 a.m.

“We talked to him and showed him the search warrants,” said Roque. NBI agents were accompanied by Philippine Army personnel.

The warrants were issued by a Manila judge following the arrest of a suspected gun-for-hire, identified as Guialaludin Sacandal Otto, in General Santos City earlier this month.

The NBI said Otto was identified by the two sons of former Lingayen Vice Mayor Ramon Arcinue and his wife, Zorhayda, as the killer of their parents on March 7, 2012, in Sampaloc, Manila. The sons had witnessed the killing, the NBI said.

Aside from Balolong’s four-story house, NBI agents also raided the mayor’s poultry and piggery farms.

“We seized at least 20 firearms—eight [hand guns] and 12 rifles—and hundreds of bullets. The long firearms consisted of M-14 and M-16 Armalite rifles,” Roque said.

“We placed the mayor under arrest. We brought him to [Metro] Manila for further investigation. We will file charges against him in [Metro] Manila,” he said.

Balolong, a member of the administration’s Liberal Party, may face cases for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and for his alleged participation in the murder of the Arcinue couple, he said.

Balolong said the guns were issued to his security personnel and had permits.

“Lahat ito may permit. Ilang beses na pong tinangka kaming patayin, pati ang anak ko. Kailangan naman namin depensahan ang mga sarili namin (All these guns have permits. Several times, I have survived attempts to kill me, and even my child. We need to defend ourselves),” NBI agents recall Balolong saying.

However, Virgilio Mendez, deputy director for regional services of the NBI, said the seized guns had defaced markings and serial numbers.

The NBI said the firearms would be subjected to ballistic examination to determine whether these were used in killing the Arcinues.

Arcinue’s older brother, Sual Mayor Roberto Arcinue, said the family was saddened by the slow progress in the case.

“It has been a year and eight months since they were killed in front of their children,” he said.

“We are hoping that what the NBI is doing will lead to the solution of the case.”—With Nancy C. Carvajal

Sam Miguel
12-11-2013, 08:27 AM
Collusion eyed in power rate hike

DOE to identify, punish culprits

By Gil C. Cabacungan, Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:58 am | Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

The Department of Energy is looking into a possible “collusion” among power plants that suspiciously shut down almost simultaneously last month that resulted in Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) buying a more expensive supply from the spot market and charging consumers P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh), its biggest rate increase.

The huge power rate increase has drawn the ire of Meralco customers already reeling from higher prices of cooking gas and petroleum products. The rate increase is equivalent to an additional P830 for households using 200 kWh a month.

At the hearing of the House committee on energy, Energy Undersecretary Raul Aguilos said Meralco was supposed to charge only an additional P1.58 per kWh to accommodate the scheduled shutdown from Nov. 9 to Dec. 9 of the Malampaya natural gas pipeline based on the available alternative power generators during the period.

But Aguilos, a province mate of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, said the rate increase “spiked” to P4.15 kWh or nearly three times what the government had expected when several power plants that were supposed to take up the slack for the Malampaya shortfall were shut down during the period.

Study, observation

“That’s why we came up with a study, an observation of our own. There were unplanned outages in several plants, like Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, Pagbilao, Masinloc, Gen Power, Calaca and Ilijan,” Aguilos said.

The energy undersecretary was referring to the 1,000-megawatt (MW) Sta. Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo power plants owned by First Gas Power Corp. (First Gen); the 1,200-MW Ilijan plant of Kepco Philippines Corp.; the 730-MW Pagbilao power plant of Team Energy Corp.; the 600-MW Masinloc power plant of AES Philipines; and the 600-MW Calaca power plant of DMCI Holdings Inc.

However, an official of First Gen told the Inquirer late Tuesday night that the Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan plants had planned outages since they are powered by Malampaya gas.

By running on liquid fuel, the three plants somehow eased the shortage, the official said.

The official clarified that unplanned outages were made by the power producers who were selling to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

Aguilos said Meralco was forced to buy more expensive power from WESM, where power producers sell excess power to the highest bidder.

Aside from buying from WESM, suppliers were also forced to buy diesel and other more expensive fuel to make up for the Malampaya shutdown, Meralco president and CEO Oscar Reyes said.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the supply that Meralco was buying from the WESM accounted 70 percent of the rate hike.

‘Predatory behavior’

“This seemingly absurd situation points to a massive failure on the part of government, particularly the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), to regulate and protect the public from the predatory behavior of a handful of power producers, who were able to dictate the price of electricity sold in the WESM,” said Tinio.

Tinio cited three power producers for dictating the price of electricity in the spot market from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25—the Limay Plant of Millennium Holdings Inc. owned by businessman Mike Valencia; and Therma Mobile and Bauang Diesel Power Plant of the Aboitiz Group.

The ACT Teachers lawmaker noted that from an average of P13.74 per kWh before the Malampaya shutdown, the spot price skyrocketed to an average of P33.22 kWh over the last four weeks.

“The predatory behavior is best illustrated by the behavior of the Aboitiz group’s Therma Mobile during this period. Initially, it had a short-term contract with Meralco to provide 234 MW of electricity at a cost of P8.65 per kWh.

“However, Therma Mobile delivered only 100 MW of power at this price and chose to sell the rest of its capacity on the WESM, resulting in the jacked-up prices,” Tinio said.

He said another indicator of price manipulation was the report of Philippine Electricity Market Corp., which administers WESM.

The report said electricity was being sold at the bid cap of P62 per kWh even during periods of low demand, such as Sundays and holidays.

‘Penalize culprits’

“These were actually the major reasons, factors, why such a spike happened, because these were not anticipated. That’s why the [energy] secretary would want this investigated to identify the culprits and penalize them,” Aguilos said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that the timing of the shutdown of power plants was “unnatural” and “fishy” because it was when Malampaya was conducting its scheduled maintenance.

“The power players are obviously operating as a cartel and Meralco is its collector,” Zarate said.

Senate probe

Senators also want to find out whether there’s a conspiracy among power producers.

“There was a sudden shortage. I don’t know but we should investigate why all of a sudden many plants went down. That’s too much of a coincidence,” said Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, the chair of the Senate committee on energy.

“We should find out whether there is a collusion,” Osmeña said.

He said that he had proposed “a year and a half ago” a P30-per-kWh cap on the electricity offered by generation firms on WESM.

“The cap of WESM is too high at P60. We should bring that down,” he said.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the Senate committee on national defense, has formally sought an inquiry into the record increase in electricity cost through Senate Resolution No. 411.

“Republic Act No. 9136, or the Epira law, was enacted in 2001 to implement reforms in the energy sector, including the assurance of the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power in the country,” Trillanes said.

“However, the proposed increase in the generation cost of Meralco runs counter to this purpose of the aforesaid law. Added to this problem are the reports of the alleged collusion among power plants and the unusual number of power outages during the Malampaya shutdown, which put into question the validity of the said proposal,” he added.

ERC role

Sen. Ralph Recto, a former chair of the Senate committee on ways and means, wants to know whether the ERC was still being true to its mandate to protect consumers from unwarranted power price hikes.

“Every year, there’s a maintenance shutdown. But it is only now that I see this high a spike in the electricity rate,” Recto said.

“Does the ERC have the power to look into this matter? I think it has,” Recto added.

Interest penalties

At the House hearing, Reyes, former chair of Shell Philippines that built the Malampaya gas production line, said that Meralco could not heed the lawmakers’ request to defer the rate hike because every day of delay would mean interest penalties.

Reyes said this was the reason Meralco, the country’s biggest power retailer, could not discount the possibility that it would seek a rate increase to refund the staggered implementation of the rate adjustment.

Use of Malampaya Fund

He suggested that the government focus on encouraging the construction of additional power plants to ensure more supply.

The last power plant built in the country was 13 years ago, according to the Meralco CEO.

This led some lawmakers to propose that the P130-billion Malampaya Fund, royalties of the government from the natural gas extracted off the western coast of Palawan province, be used to build the power plants.

Reyes estimated that a 135-MW plant would cost $275 million, or P12 billion each.

He reiterated that Meralco only earned 17 centavos for every peso that it collected from its 5 million customers, with the balance going to power generation firms.

Reyes said it had not changed its distribution rates.

Asked about the possible collusion among power producers, Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco public information office head, said, “We will leave that up to Congress and the agencies concerned” to investigate the matter.—With a report from Riza T. Olchondra

Sam Miguel
12-11-2013, 08:28 AM
ERC chief snubs House power rate hike hearing

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:57 am | Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, an alleged agent of pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, snubbed Tuesday’s House hearing on Manila Electric Co.’s hefty rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt hour where lawmakers took turns hitting her proxies for failing to defend the public interest.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, committee on energy chair, said Ducut did not explain her failure to attend the House probe, which was held a day after the ERC approved the staggered implementation of Meralco’s rate hike over three months starting December.

But Umali said Ducut could not be compelled to attend the hearing because she sent ERC Commissioner Josefina Patricia M. Asirit and ERC Executive Director Francis Juan to represent her.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said Ducut had no excuse not to attend the hearing because 5 million Meralco customers would like to know why the ERC did not question the power rate increase despite claims of collusion among power industry players.

“This is the public interest that the ERC is bound to protect, not the profits of industry players,” said Barzaga.

Several lawmakers, including House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Barzaga and Umali, previously asked Ducut to take a leave of absence after she was implicated in the malversation charges filed in the Office of the Ombudsman.

The National Bureau of Investigation accused Ducut of acting as a broker of several former lawmakers, including resigned Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon, who transferred their pork barrel funds to dubious NGOs allegedly controlled by Napoles.

Ducut used to be the representative of Pampanga’s second district, a post taken over by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after she appointed the former to the ERC.

“I am disappointed with the ERC because it has become a mere rubber stamp of Meralco and power producers instead of defending the rights of consumers by immediately stopping the power rate hike,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said.

During the hearing, Asirit said the ERC was in no position to approve or reject Meralco’s rate hike because the rules allowed it to automatically pass on any increase in fuel costs to consumers.

Asirit claimed that the ERC did its part by implementing the rate hike over three months to minimize its impact on the public.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2013, 08:59 AM
Fugitive Misuari in West Africa attending OIC meeting: spokesman

(philstar.com) | Updated December 10, 2013 - 10:54am

MANILA, Philippines - Former ARMM governor Nur Misuari is in Conakry, Republic of Guinea attending a meeting of members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, his spokesperson claimed Tuesday.

"Nasa OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) na po 'yung ating mahal na propesor... Doon na po siya sa Guinea at nakikipag-usap na po," Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesperson of Misuari, said in an interview over radio dzMM.

The OIC's Council of Foreign Ministers meeting started on Monday and will end on Wednesday (December 11).

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu sent a letter of invitation to Misuaro dated November 24 to join the meeting. Misuari was invited as a "sole" representative of the MNLF.

Fontanilla said that Misuari is still looking for peaceful means to end the MNLF's dispute with the government.

Earlier this month, Muslim leaders urged the OIC to cease from recognizing Misuari as the sole representative of the Bangsamoro.

Misuari is facing charges for violation of the Philippine International Humanitarian Law, genocide, and other crimes in against humanity in connection with the three-week siege in Zamboanga City last September.

Misuari and 11 of his lieutenants, who masterminded the siege to stake his claim for independence, escaped and have remained at large while more than 200 others who joined the attack were captured.

There were earlier reports that Misuari was able to slip through the security forces' cordon in Mindanao and exited the country through the southern backdoor.

The MNLF leader reportedly traveled by sea and slipped into Southern Sulawesi in Indonesia before flying to the Middle East, where he was supposed meet his family.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2013, 09:02 AM
Sanctions mulled vs parole board over Leviste release

By Delon Porcalla

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 10, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday hinted at sanctions against officials of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) who had allowed a convicted killer, former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste, to go free on parole despite his being caught sneaking out of prison while serving his sentence.

“Are there sanctions that we can impose on the Board of Pardons and Parole? I’m having it reviewed – how people get appointed at the Board of Pardons and Parole,” Aquino told Palace reporters on the sidelines of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment held at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Diliman, Quezon City.

“I can’t understand why they had to set free someone who had demonstrated his readiness to defy the law even while supposedly behind bars,” Aquino said, referring to Leviste’s walking out of prison in 2011 and staying at his LPL building in Makati City.

The BPP, which is under the Department of Justice (DOJ), is composed of career officials tasked to assess the conduct of prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

While showing his disappointment, the Chief Executive admitted his hands were tied at the moment as the BPP may have really followed procedures in recommending Leviste’s freedom. Moreover, even the family of Leviste’s victim Rafael delas Alas did not pose any objection to the release order.

“Nevertheless, even assuming that the letter of the law had been followed, there is such thing as the spirit of the law and that’s what I want thoroughly reviewed,” he said. “Review the whole system so this won’t happen again.”

Justified, but...

While insisting that the grant of parole to Leviste was justified, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she would submit to the power of President Aquino to have it reviewed or even revoked.

“I see no basis for me to conclude that the board did not act aboveboard in passing such application for parole,” she told reporters in an interview after meeting with officials of the BPP and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

“I don’t see any reason or indication that there were considerations other than the legal qualifications,” she stressed.

Citing explanations from BPP and BuCor heads, De Lima said Leviste had fulfilled all the requirements for parole, including the serving minimum period of his sentence for the homicide conviction over the 2007 killing of Delas Alas and observing good conduct while doing time in prison.

Aside from homicide, Leviste was charged with evasion of service of sentence after he was seen in his LPL building in Makati City in violation of his “living out” privilege in May 2011.

In granting Leviste parole, the BPP cited the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 62 of Makati clearing him and his driver Nilo Solis de Guzman of evading sentence based on the former Batangas governor’s claim “that he was legitimately outside because he was given a green light by the prison officers.”

“The board told me that he was already penalized for that infraction. It would appear that the Board of Discipline adjudged him liable for grave misconduct and as a penalty, they withheld all his privileges and deduction from his good conduct time allowance,” De Lima explained.

Four prison superintendents and a prison guard were dismissed following Leviste’s caper.

Still, the DOJ head pointed out that President Aquino has the power to withdraw the parole.

“If he is not satisfied with the explanation, he would have that option (to withdraw the parole). After all, he is the head of the executive branch so all offices under the executive branch are under him, subject to his control and supervision,” De Lima said.

“The BPP is under the control and supervision of the DOJ and the DOJ is under the control of the President,” she pointed out.

Reservations

De Lima admitted that even she had her own reservations on the parole grant. “It should have been analyzed further and the Board should have not been too legalistic and strict in interpreting the evasion of sentence as ground for disqualification,” she said.

She explained that unlike executive clemency or commutation of sentence, granting of parole needs no approval of the President or the DOJ secretary.

Parole and Probation Administration head Manuel Co reiterated that Leviste’s parole was conditional. He said Leviste still needs to appear before a parole officer regularly as a condition for the parole. He added he wouldn’t mind if President Aquino decides to revoke the parole.

Leviste was convicted by a Makati court in January 2009 for homicide for the 2007 killing of Delas Alas.

The former governor claimed the shooting was in self-defense.

The President earlier said he was “surprised” to hear about Leviste’s parole, claiming he had been tipped about the development by assistant secretary for media affairs Rey Marfil.

‘Leave everything to God’

In Lipa, Batangas, Leviste’s daughter Toni said she respects the President’s position and would “leave everything to God.”

“He is our President. I’m sure that the President is doing what he believes he needs to do for the good of our country. I’m sure it’s nothing personal,” Toni told The STAR.

“At the same time I feel confident and hopeful once the matter has been cleared to him both by the Board of Pardon and Parole and the Department of Justice that things were all done in accordance with the law,” she said. With Edu Punay, Arnell Ozaeta

Sam Miguel
12-12-2013, 09:54 AM
Power firms may be sued for economic sabotage

By Gil C. Cabacungan, Norman Bordadora, Riza T. Olchondra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:58 am | Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Power companies suspected of orchestrating the massive power rate increase in the franchise area of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) could face charges of economic sabotage.

“This is nothing less than economic sabotage if you do this against the people. I think a very strong case can be made against the power companies, maintenance companies and everybody who tried to make an extra buck at the expense of the people,” House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said in a briefing.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is investigating a possible collusion among power plants that shut down almost at the same time last month, prompting Meralco to purchase supply at a much higher price at the spot market and raising its electricity rate by P4.15/kilowatt hour (kWh).

“We might now have the most expensive power in the whole world. This is antijobs, antiinvestments and antipeople. We have to take very strong stand,” Zamora said.

No collusion

Economic sabotage is a capital offense punishable with life imprisonment.

But Sen. Francis Escudero, the chair of the Senate committee on finance, doesn’t buy the idea that there was collusion.

“I can’t see the collusion among the generating companies because if they agree to simultaneously stop operations, what will they earn? They won’t be able to sell electricity,” Escudero told reporters.

“Those selling expensive electricity in the WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) will be the ones that will earn a profit, not the plants that chose to shut down.”

Escudero would rather look into the role of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in allowing the unprecedented rate hike and the high cost of power from WESM.

He made the remarks even as Sen. Sergio Osmeña III set the hearing of the Senate committee on energy on power rate hike on Wednesday next week.

Mere coincidence

Of the P4.15/kWh to be passed on to 5.2 million consumers, spikes at the WESM contributed P2.38; natural gas plants, P1.04; and other factors, P0.02, according to Meralco.

Energy suppliers and industry observers said the temporary power rate increase may have more to do with coincidence rather than collusion.

Lopez-led First Gen Corp. and Team Energy said that their respective facilities’ maintenance shutdowns followed schedule, which was planned well in advance with regulators.

DMCI Holdings president Isidro Consunji said: “Collusion means we talked to others to time our shutdown to influence prices. That’s not the case. We did our best to keep running while Malampaya was down, and in fact Calaca 1 and 2 were both running since Nov. 9,” Consunji said.

Calaca 1 and 2 are both running, although the former is running below capacity due to technical issues, Consunji said.

Energy Undersecretary Raul Aguilos on Tuesday said that Meralco was supposed to pass only on an additional P1.58/kWh to reflect the impact of the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya gas pipeline, which supplies fuel to three power plants contracted by Meralco.

However, Aquilos said that rate increase “spiked” to nearly three times higher than expected as several power plants went on emergency shutdown during the period.

‘Unplanned’ shutdown

He said the energy department came up with its own study and noted that there were unplanned outages in several plants: The 1,000-MW (megawatts) Sta. Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo power plants of First Gas Power Corp. (First Gen); the 1,200-MW Ilijan plant of Kepco Philippines Corp.; the 730-MW Pagbilao power plant of Team Energy Corp.; the 600-MW Masinloc power plant of AES Philippines; and the 600-MW Calaca power plant of DMCI Holdings.

Industry data, however, showed that Sta. Rita Mod 30 (250 MW), Pagbilao 2 (375 MW), San Lorenzo Mod 50 (250 MW), Sual 1 (647 MW), Ilijan 1 (600 MW) and 2 (600 MW) and Calaca 2 (300 MW) were on scheduled shutdown.

GN Power 2 (300 MW) was on scheduled shutdown until Nov. 11 but it extended to Nov. 20. Calaca 1 (300 MW) was said to be on forced shutdown from Oct. 26 to Nov. 16, thus overlapping at some point with the Malampaya shutdown (at least according to Meralco’s presentations). But Consunji said it was already up and running on Nov. 9.

In Meralco’s presentations to the ERC and to the House of Representatives, spot prices surged to P15.51/kWh in Nov. (the highest level in recent history) from P6.16/kWh in Oct. due to tight supply and plant outages.

The highest price was recorded in Nov. 15 when Luzon grid was on yellow alert due to insufficient reserve, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Citing information from the operator of WESM, Meralco said this was due to the outage of Calaca 1 and GN Power 2.

Maintenance, down time

“Calaca 1 shut down in late October and was back up Nov. 9. So maybe PEMC (the WESM operator) is the one that can clarify facts so that there is no cloud of doubt,” Consunji said.

An industry observer said, “You don’t have gas so why don’t you just do your mandatory maintenance, take advantage of the down time.”

Aboitiz Power Corp.’s subsidiary, Therma Mobile Inc. (TMO), which operates the diesel power barges moored in Navotas, said it did not benefit from any WESM price movement because it was paid an agreed rate under its power supply agreement with Meralco.

Asked whether his company saw anything wrong with the timing of the power plant outages, Meralco president Oscar Reyes said: “We have no reason to suspect power generators. I would like to think that we are all responsible in giving consumers electricity services…. We were also conscious of not contracting too much capacity since that also finds its way into the power rates.”

‘Making a killing’

Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio accused Millennium Holdings (which runs Limay plant) of businessman Mike Valencia and the Aboitiz Group (Thermal Mobile and Bauang diesel power plant) of “making a killing” in WESM as the price of electricity soared from P13.74 per kWh before the Malampaya shutdown to P33.22 kWh over the last four weeks.

“We have to look into the ownership of the power plants that shut down at the same time as Malampaya. We will look closer into their alliances,” said Tinio.

Meralco is initially passing to consumers this month an additional P2.41/kWh out of the total P4.15/kWh increase. The rest of the adjustment will be done in two other months: P1.21/kWh in February and another P0.53/kWh in March.

Alfredo Panlilio, Meralco head of customer retail services, said the firm avoided January because power generation prices were expected to be still high at that time. Prices are expected to stabilize from February onward, hence the timing of the second and third installments of the power generation rate hike.

Status quo ante order

The National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. (Nasecore) said it would ask the Supreme Court for a status quo ante order as soon as the newly approved power rate hike is implemented.

Pete Ilagan, Nasecore president, said he was meeting with his lawyers to discuss what to do about the petition.

He said he was targeting to file the legal action in the Supreme Court early next week. “We can’t ask for a [temporary restraining order] because the hike will already be implemented.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said his group and several consumer-oriented organizations would file a case and seek a temporary restraining order to suspend Meralco’s plan to impose the P4.15/kWh rate hike.

Malacañang on Wednesday floated the possibility of a refund if power producers are found to have colluded to jack up electricity rates.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the DOE “has instructed the ERC to look into the outages in several power plants that occurred while the Malampaya repairs were taking place.”

Malacañang earlier defended the increase in Meralco’s generation charge, saying it was neither “arbitrary” nor “unreasonable.”

Asked where the irregularity could be if there was no collusion among generation firms, Escudero said, “Well, if there’s any irregularity it is with the WESM.”

“This is where the supposedly excess power is sold. Ideally, it should be cheaper,” Escudero said.

The problem, Escudero said, was that in 2003 the DOE came up with an order setting the WESM ceiling at P62 kWh.

“Who would pay that high for electricity? I don’t even know where they got that maximum amount.”

Who made windfall?

Osmeña, the chair of the Senate committee on energy, said he wanted to know who made a windfall from the WESM after it sold Meralco electricity at very expensive rates.

This is one of the issues that the chair of the Senate committee of energy wants to determine when the panel takes its turn in grilling executives of the DOE, ERC and Meralco in a hearing next week.

“Who made a windfall? There were plants that were bidding at P62, P42, P35. I understand the average rate that Meralco purchased from the WESM was P35. That is huge you know,” Osmeña told reporters.

“Meralco buys its power at about P4.70 to P8.50…. So that’s rather huge,” he added.

The senator also wants to look into apparent coincidence of generating firms shutting down at the same time.

Meralco’s franchise area covers Metro Manila, neighboring towns, cities and provinces, which account for about a fourth of the country’s population.—With reports from Kristine Felisse Mangunay and Christian V. Esguerra

Sam Miguel
12-12-2013, 09:56 AM
Palace eyes refund if collusion among power firms is proven

By Christian V. Esguerra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:21 pm | Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang floated the possibility of a refund should power producers be found to have colluded to jack up electricity rates.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the DOE “has instructed the ERC to look into the outages in several power plants that occurred while the Malampaya repairs were taking place.”

“Under the Epira law, both DOE and ERC are mandated to ascertain that power rate adjustments are not driven by anti-competitive or market abuse practices,” he said in a statement, referring to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

“It’s stated in Epira and based on what happened before, if there was abuse in the collection, the concrete resolution would to have a refund.”

“The government’s foremost concern is to ease the people’s burden on the imposition of power rate adjustments brought about by the Malampaya shutdown,” he added.

The Palace made the assurance amid a DOE investigation of possible “collusion” involving power plants that shut down almost at the same time last month, prompting Meralco to purchase electricity at a much higher price at the spot market.

Asked about the possibility of suspending the rate adjustment pending the result of the DOE probe, Coloma cited requirements at the ERC before power utility companies could go into “cost recovery, rate-setting practices.”

“To my understanding, nothing has happened, so far, that would be enough under the law for the ERC to suspend that process,” he added.

Malacañang earlier defended the increase in generation charge, saying it was neither “arbitrary” nor “unreasonable.”

The adjustment was “temporary” as a result of the “maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas plant that was scheduled from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10,” Coloma said.

As to whether Palace was sticking to this position, Coloma said, “What our government is ensuring is the [rate adjustments’] basis in law and their effect on the welfare of our people.”

Even if the electric power industry was now “market-driven,” Coloma said, “The mandate of the law is clear that market forces should not be abused in any way.”

He said the Palace was open to amending Epira, but noted that the matter should first go through a “thorough study or analysis” among “stakeholder groups.”

“We are open to a review of all of these policies, especially if the outcome is to be able to produce more responsive and progressive reform measures that will result in benefits to our citizens,” he said. “Our only appeal is for the process to be reasonable, truthful and meaningful.”

Sam Miguel
12-12-2013, 10:51 AM
TRO mulled vs power rate hike

By Jess Diaz and Christina Mendez

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers may turn to the courts for help to stop the impending sharp hike in electricity rates, and if necessary hold some power firms accountable for possible economic sabotage for allegedly colluding with one another to create an artificial power shortage.

Sen. Francis Escudero said only a temporary restraining order (TRO) would prevent the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) from implementing an increase of P3.44 per kilowatt-hour in three phases beginning this month until March.

“I think that is being studied by some groups already and even on our part, we are looking into it,” Escudero said. “Taking this to court and asking for a TRO is the closest, legal and soundest option available now.”

As this developed, operators of power plants denied accusations of collusion yesterday.

The plants whose forced shutdown was being looked into were the 1,000-megawatt Sta. Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo power plants owned by First Gen Corp. of the Lopez Group; the 1,200-MW Ilijan plant of Kepco Philippines Corp.; the 730-MW Pagbilao power plant of Team Energy Corp.; the 600-MW Masinloc power plant of AES Philippines, and the 600-MW Calaca power plant of DMCI Holdings Inc.

Opposition lawmakers said that aside from requesting for a court injunction or a TRO, they are eyeing economic sabotage case against power producers who would be proven to have manipulated prices in the spot market by creating an artificial shortage of power.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, whose Resolution 588 prompted the House energy committee’s inquiry into the huge power rate increase, told reporters that his party-list group, along with some consumers’ organizations, would seek a TRO from the Supreme Court or from a regional trial court.

“Our lawyers are now studying the grounds for the petition. One ground is the possible collusion reported by the Department of Energy. The rate adjustment has to be stopped while the DOE, the House and the Senate are looking into this,” he said.

He said they might have to wait for Meralco to actually start billing their five million customers the P3.44-per-kwh increase in generation cost before filing the petition.

Meralco will collect the adjustment in three tranches: P2 this month, P1 in February and 44 centavos in March.

The distributor claims it is just passing on to customers the increased cost of producing electricity and does not make money from it. There is no increase in the distribution cost.

Including taxes and adjustments in transmission and systems loss charges, the total increase would amount to P4.15 per kwh.

Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said the P4.15 hike “is historically the largest increase in power rates in all the years that Meralco is enjoying its franchise.”

“As it is, right now, we are no longer just one of the most expensive power rates in the whole world. It may be that we are now the most expensive in the whole world and that is certainly what we don’t what to see,” he said.

“This not only affects our consumers, this also works very directly against more investments in the Philippines, which means it is anti-jobs, it is anti-investments, it is anti-people and anti-poor. For this reason we have taken a very strong stand,” he said.

He pointed out that if power producers had indeed resorted to collusion to force prices up, they should be punished for economic sabotage.

“This is nothing less than economic sabotage. If you do this against the people, I think a very strong case can be made against the power companies, against the maintenance companies, against everybody who is trying to make an extra buck at the expense of the people,” Zamora stressed.

Meralco officials told the energy committee on Tuesday that due to simultaneous shutdowns of the plants that supply them, the power distributor was forced to buy electricity from the open market, where prices went up from about P12 per kwh to P33.22.

ERC not blame-free

Rep. Antonio Tinio of party-list group Alliance of Concerned Teachers said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is apparently sleeping on the job, since as the power industry’s regulator, it is supposed to check possible collusion and unfair practices among producers and distributors.

He said at the very least, ERC might have abetted the possible collusion among certain producers, if it was not part of it.

Tinio also urged ERC chairman Zenaida Ducut, who is facing graft charges in connection with the misuse of certain congressmen’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations, to give up her post.

The National Bureau of Investigation has accused Ducut of acting as the agent of some of her former colleagues in the House of Representatives. She was representative of Pampanga’s second district before then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed her to the ERC. Arroyo now represents that district.

Tinio said people cannot expect Ducut to protect their interest when it comes to power rate issues, since she herself is under a cloud of doubt.

For her part, Rep. Luz Ilagan said ERC commissioners should have looked into the details of Meralco’s planned rate increase instead of just approving the distributor’s request to stagger its collection in three phases.

“They are tasked to protect the public interest, and yet what did they do? They just accepted Meralco’s proposal at face value. There was no further inquiry on how the rate was arrived at,” she said.

For Escudero, there is clearly an abuse in the automatic increase provision granted to Meralco by the ERC.

“Meralco cannot justify its increase with the generation cost rationale. If they are too quick to impose a price hike, they must also be this quick or quicker to refund the consumers and give us our rebates in the shortest period of time. It should be quid pro quo,” he said.

“The ERC has been using a cost-based formula in fixing rates when it should use a market-based formula,” Escudero said.

In the cost-based system, the senator explained that the only basis they have in pricing is the cost presented by the distribution facility applying for an increase.

“It does not factor in the general market, like that much-awaited rebate. ERC does not even factor in the multiplier effect it will have on the market,” Escudero said.

“We still have one week to conduct sessions and hearing. We just passed the national budget and that’s already eighty percent off our load for this session. I believe we still have time. I hope this increase will be short-lived and hopefully will be stopped via the intervention of courts,” Escudero said.

Senate committee on energy chairman Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said his panel would try to find out if some groups had unduly profited from manipulation of prices, particularly in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). Osmeña’s committee is set to begin its probe on Wednesday next week.

“I understand the average rate that Meralco purchased from the WESM was P35. That is huge. Meralco buys its power at about P4.70 to P8.50. Their peak is P8.50 while P4.50 is the base price,” he said. “Who made a killing?”

“In any normal situation you’ll have a law… but if there will be collusion, that’s against the law also. So even in business you cannot collude, you cannot fix prices, you cannot decide among yourselves (who) will have a shutdown,” he said.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III voiced his support for a deeper probe on the issue even as he scored the ERC for taking an “acquiescent” stance on the rate increase.

“When there is smoke there is fire. An investigation will clear up issues,” he said.

Sam Miguel
12-12-2013, 10:52 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Denial

A source from First Gen, meanwhile, said the outages of Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan plants were expected because they were powered by the Malampaya gas facility.

The San Lorenzo plant’s shutdown happened way back in May because of an accident, the First Gen source also said.

“We shut down our plants for no other reason than to conduct maintenance and repair work. This is to ensure that in the long run, our plants can operate reliably, efficiently and contribute in ensuring the country’s energy security,” Team Energy head of external affairs Greggy Romualdez told The STAR.

Malacañang said the government’s drive against unscrupulous and illegal business practices would spare no one.

“Nobody is above the law, everybody is treated equally under our laws,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“The DOE is working with the ERC to address this concern,” he said, referring to suspicion that at least eight independent power producers had intentionally suspended operations in a bid to create an artificial power shortage.

“Under the EPIRA law, both DOE (department of Energy) and ERC are mandated to ascertain that power rate adjustments are not driven by anti-competitive or market abuse practices,” Coloma explained.

He said the government is ready to impose sanctions against groups found to have profited from irregular business schemes.

Coloma also said Malacañang is supporting the “Friday the 13th blackout” protest to be launched by consumer groups.

“It is part of democracy for people to show their sentiments, in the same way that we shared our view with regard to the action. That is also our view on the projected mass action,” Coloma said.

“The government’s foremost concern is to ease the people’s burden on the imposition of power rate adjustments brought about by the Malampaya shutdown,” he told Palace reporters in a news briefing.

“Other options for easing the consumers’ burden are being studied, including tighter monitoring of the schedule of shutdowns of power generators,” Coloma added.

“In this regard, the DOE has instructed the ERC to look into the outages in several power plants that occurred while the Malampaya repairs were taking place,” he said.

One of the groups protesting the impending rate hike, the Freedom from Debt Coalition, said the ERC must rescind its approval of Meralco’s rate adjustment.

“Otherwise, they should all resign because it shows that they could not protect the rights of the consumers,” said FDC president Ricardo Reyes in an interview with The STAR.

Reyes urged consumers to show their objection to the hike by joining initiatives, such as FDC’s campaign to encourage netizens to post images of their electricity bills stamped with the word “Ganid” (greedy) on their social media accounts.

Reyes slammed Meralco for announcing the power rate hike just weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas.

“At a time when the entire nation is in solidarity… Meralco is thinking about its profits,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, Meralco said the total increase in electricity rates for a typical 200 kwh household is P2.41 per kwh. The increase will definitely be higher for residential users with consumption bigger than 200 kwh, said Larry Fernandez, head of utility economics at Meralco.

Fernandez said the P2.41 per kwh comprises P2 per kwh generation charge, P0.05 transmission charge, P0.17 taxes and P0.20 for other charges. - Iris Gonzales, Janvic Mateo, Delon Porcalla

Sam Miguel
12-16-2013, 09:37 AM
Trapped between the old and the new

By Randy David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:37 pm | Saturday, December 14th, 2013

One can only ask, in horrific disbelief, what kind of person would fire a gun at a vehicle after a fleeting altercation with its driver over the former’s blinding headlights? Authorities are still looking for the driver of a white SUV who, last Dec. 6, fired three shots at another vehicle as he passed it in a narrow neighborhood street in Quezon City, wounding a nine-year-old girl seated at the back. “Road rage” is what it is called, but the term hardly explains anything.

The causes of road rage vary from society to society. Film depictions of this phenomenon associate it with the strains of modern living. Such accounts typically focus on ordinary individuals who, under the usual pressure from work and family, unexpectedly find themselves at the mercy of momentary insanity. The triggering event might be slow in coming, like running out of gas in the middle of an expressway traffic jam. Or it could be as jarring as the abrupt entry into your lane of another vehicle that was doing a dangerous counterflow.

Suddenly, you feel all the blood in your veins surge into your head, and you explode in a fit of irrationality and self-righteousness.

Counselors never tire of telling us what to do under such circumstances to suppress reactions that may bring about regrettable consequences. Breathing deeply while counting slowly is the most common advice we get to deflect anger and arrest the need to react. We are advised to shelve, if only for a few precious seconds, our obsession with rules and our expectations that other people should behave the way we do. Such exercises in self-restraint work for many people, including myself. If however you find yourself at the receiving end of road rage behavior, the worst thing you could do is react to any provocation. Regardless of who is at fault, we are told that it is always better to offer the sign of peace and a smile. But this requires that we learn not to take things personally.

This brings us to the thesis suggested by the title of this column. As a people, we Filipinos are caught in the difficult transition between tradition and modernity. Our traditional instincts, which incline us to take things personally in our everyday encounters with other people, are out of sync with the realities of modern living. How often have we felt slighted or personally offended when others behave as if they have not given due recognition to who we think we are? We forget that a discussion about work is not necessarily a comment about us or about anyone in particular. We have trouble separating the roles we play from the persons behind them.

As societies grow in size and become more dense, anonymity becomes the rule. Relations with other people become fleeting and fragmentary, rather than lifelong and all-encompassing. This is what modernity brings about. We are expected to deal with strangers with ease rather than with suspicion or hostility. We don’t have to know who they are as persons in order to be able to relate to them in an orderly and trusting way.

But the shift from traditional to modern living is far from easy and smooth. The old virtues of courtesy, kindness, and nobility typically go out of fashion long before the new rules of civilized modern living have taken root in the culture. One such rule we are just beginning to apply in our daily lives is queuing. It is the foundation of much of the order we see in modern society.

We have learned to line up, wait for our turn, and not demand undue exemption from the first-come-first-served rule. It is in the variations of this rule that we falter. Where two queues have formed and are supposed to merge into one at the end, the rule demands that people from the two lines must weave into the single file one at a time, allowing the other line to advance at the same pace. This rule remains unrecognized and unenforced in our midst to this day.

It is common to see vehicles tailgating one another so as to prevent vehicles coming from another lane from merging into a common lane, as if their lives depended on their ability to deny space to an adversary. Such behavior is unthinkable in traditional society where people who know one another are expected to defer to the other’s needs.

But how do we make this kind of courtesy second nature to people under conditions of anonymity? How do we reinforce a social order based on custom with a state-imposed peace? Indeed, it all begins with the rigorous learning of the new rules until the new behavior becomes almost instinctive.

Change, however, tends to come unevenly. Overnight, societies find themselves swamped by technology that is often too fast or too powerful for their existing instincts. As the geographer Jared Diamond reminds us, “The world of yesterday shaped our genes, culture, and behavior for most of the history of behaviorally modern Homo sapiens.” There is indeed, as he shows in his latest book “The World Until Yesterday,” much to learn from past cultures. But that murderous man in the white SUV could be a Neanderthal who has simply failed to develop the requisite sensibility to handle the immense power of a gun and a fast car. His primitive unyielding sense of territoriality is at odds with the culture of open spaces and tolerance that is at the heart of modern society.

* * *

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 08:28 AM
18 killed after bus falls from Skyway – police

By Bong Lozada and Kristine Sabillo

INQUIRER.net

7:24 am | Monday, December 16th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Eighteen people were confirmed killed and over a dozen others were injured when a Don Mariano passenger bus fell off from the elevated Skyway and landed onto a passing van on the West Service Road in Parañaque City early Monday, police said.

Earlier, it was reported that the fatalities have reached 22, but the police said the official count is 18.

The report said more than 10 bodies have been recovered from the Don Mariano Transit bus which was plying the elevated Skyway on its way to Pacita, Laguna, when it fell off the expressway around 5:15 a.m. on Monday. Another body was pulled out of a van that was crushed by the bus after the tragic fall.

Police Chief Inspector Juanito Guinid Jr., Skyway Team Leader, said bodies of the 17 victims have been taken to the Amigos Funeral Parlor, while the other remains at morgue of the Paranaque Doctors Hospital.

He said 16 others were injured from the accident.

Police Superintendent Elizabeth Velasquez said the bus veered off the highway and crashed onto a van passing below in suburban Parañaque city at dawn Monday.

Television footage showed a number of bodies strewn around the bus wreckage with police officers milling around. The van was an unrecognizable pile of smashed white metal.

Ivy Vidal, spokeswoman of the corporation running the Skyway, said it was not clear what caused the accident but added that it was wet due to rain.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Winston Ginez said they would issue a preventive suspension order on all the 78 units of the Don Mariano Transit.

Ginez said they had already talked to Dra. Melissa Lim, owner of Don Mariano Transit, who said they had recalled their buses for inspection by the LTFRB.

Heavy traffic

Meanwhile, heavy traffic in was reported as a result of the accident.

Luis Panganiban of Skyway’s command center said traffic was heavy from C5 to Sucat.—Kristine Angeli Sabillo, Jamie Elona and Bong Lozada; with reports from The Associated Press

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 08:29 AM
Most dangerous Metro Manila buses named

LTFRB: Shape up or face cancelation of franchise

By Paolo G. Montecillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:47 pm | Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has put together lists of the most dangerous buses in Metro Manila, based on the number of accidents that have resulted in deaths, injuries, and damage to property, and warned that they might lose their franchises.

LTFRB board member Manuel Iway on Thursday said the unprecedented move aims to urge companies to be more careful with the welfare of their passengers.

“If they do not improve their operations to become safer, we will cancel their franchises,” he said in an interview.

The list is broken down into three categories—number of deaths, injuries and property damage—and is based on accident reports submitted by all public utility buses to the LTFRB. The lists published by the LTFRB cover the whole of 2010 and the first half of 2011.

Lists of the 10 most dangerous bus operators in Metro Manila:

Based on the number of deaths (passengers and bus personnel)

1. Admiral Transport
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. JAM Liner
4. Gassat Express
5. Joyselle Express
6. Philippine Corinthian Liner
7. Rainbow Express Inc.
8. Alberto Garating
9. Alps the Bus
10. EM Transit Service

Based on the number of injured (passengers and bus personnel)

1. Admiral Transport
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. AM Liner
4. Gassat Express
5. Joyselle Express
6. Miami Transport
7. Pascual Liner
8. Philippine Corinthian Liner
9. Rainbow Express Inc.
10. CEM Transit Service

Based on damage to property

1. Don Mariano Transit
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. Gassat Express
4. Miami Transport
5. Pascual Liner
6. Rainbow Express Inc.
7. Ropal Transport
8. A&B Liner
9. GELL Transport
10. CEM Transit Service

The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Claire de la Fuente, president of the Integrated Metropolitan Bus Operators Association, for comment.

Her bus company, Philippine Corinthian Liner, ranked 6th among the bus firms in terms of number of accidents that led to deaths and 8th based on the number of accidents which resulted in injuries.

On the same day it released the list, the LTFRB also temporarily suspended the franchises of two bus companies whose units recently figured in an accident.

The management of Safeway Bus Lines and Universal Guiding Star Bus Line Corp. were ordered to halt their operations for 30 days as the transport board asked them to explain why their franchises should not be canceled permanently.

Three people were injured on September 20 when two buses belonging to the firms figured in an accident in Quezon City.

Since the start of the year, the LTFRB has been cracking down on bus companies that frequently figure in mishaps, particularly on major thoroughfares such as Edsa and Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

Iway said that the agency was also drafting rules that would make it mandatory for drivers and conductors of public utility vehicle to receive fixed salaries instead of earning on a commission basis.

“With the current system, many drivers are often exhausted or lack sleep because they are forced to work long hours,” Iway said, adding, “This puts the safety of passengers in jeopardy.”

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 08:30 AM
^^^ Don Mariano and Admiral have the most reckless drivers plying the EDSA route, bar none.

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 08:33 AM
Operator, driver of bus in Skyway accident face criminal charges

By Marlon Ramos, Jaymee T. Gamil

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:13 am | Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

‘UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED’. Bald tires may have led to hydroplaning of the speeding Don Mariano Transit on the southbound lane of the Skyway in Parañaque City near the Sucat exit on Monday. Hydroplaning occurs when a fast-moving object like a bus glides on a wet surface, making it difficult to control. The bus plunged onto the West Service Road in Barangay Marcelo and hit a van. Eighteen people, mostly bus passengers, were killed and 16 others were injured.

The operator and driver of the bus that plunged off the Skyway and fell onto a van in Parañaque City early Monday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 16 others, are facing criminal charges, police said.

Driver Carmelo Calatcat and the owner of Don Mariano Transit Corp. will be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries, said Supt. Elizabeth Velasquez, spokesperson for the Highway Patrol Group.

“Regardless of whether this is a case of human error or a mechanical problem, the driver and the operator of the bus will be charged,” Velasquez told reporters.

Malacañang said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had ordered the suspension of all 78 buses of Don Mariano Transit Corp. for 30 days.

“The owner of Don Mariano [Transit Corp.] was already informed, and [had said she would] comply with that directive,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, adding that the suspension was part of the investigation into the cause of the accident.

The bus driven by Calatcat veered off the Skyway and crashed onto a van 9.6 meters below at about 5:30 a.m., Velasquez said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but the elevated highway was wet because of the rain, said Ivy Vidal, a spokesperson for Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp.

Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 80 kilometers per hour when the bus overtook her car. She estimated that the bus was traveling at between 100 kph and 110 kph.

Sisperes said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened.

“After a few meters, I saw the bus fall and I shouted, ‘The bus fell, the bus fell,’” she said in a radio interview. She said there were no other cars nearby.

Sisperes said she saw the damaged guard rail of the highway and some debris and reported the accident at the toll gate.

The plunge

An accident investigator, SP02 Isidra Dumlao of the Highway Patrol Group, quoted two survivors from the bus as saying the bus careened before hitting the guard rail.

“They felt the bus [jump] and the next thing they knew they were falling,” Dumlao said.

The bus crashed nose first on a delivery van on the northbound side of West Service Road, flipped and landed on its left side near the sidewalk of the southbound side, in front of junk shops and a variety store, where it grazed a tree and an early morning cyclist.

The bus was flattened, its windows crumpled, seats uprooted, passengers crushed or thrown out on impact. Television footage showed a number of bodies strewn around the bus wreckage with police officers nearby. The van was an unrecognizable pile of smashed white metal.

Velasquez earlier reported that 21 people died and 20 others were injured but later said there appeared to have been double counting amid the confusion.

She said she was verifying reports that 17 died and several others were injured.

Traffic officer Jose Abuyog said the death toll could go higher, as some of the injured were in serious condition.

Angelo Dequina, an employee at a funeral parlor in the area, said 17 bodies from the accident were brought to their mortuary from hospitals and from the crash site.

Calls to five hospitals where the victims were taken showed at least 16 people injured from the accident had been admitted.

Velasquez earlier said the van’s driver was killed and the bus driver was in serious condition in a hospital. But Dr. Carmencita Solidum, medical director of Parañaque Doctors’ Hospital, said the two drivers were among the 10 injured who were at her hospital.

Calatcat, the bus driver, was critically injured and the van driver, identified as Gilbert Montallana, had minor injuries, she said.

7 identified

By dusk, only seven of the fatalities had been identified through identification cards found on them and through cross-referencing IDs found on the bus with bodies in the morgues.

The seven were Roger Orquejo, Mary Ann Superio, Roberto Bautista, Arnold Jimenos, Jean Angelique Cadiz, Joey Esponilla and Rodel Tolentino.

The dead were taken to Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, Amigo Funeral Parlor in Lower Bicutan, Taguig City, and Veronica’s Funeral Parlor in Pasay City.

Besides Parañaque Doctors’ Hospital, the injured were taken to Parañaque Medical Center, Ospital ng Muntinlupa and South Superhighway Hospital.

Ryan Bresa, a bus passenger who survived, said the bus may have been traveling too fast and the driver tried to control the vehicle before it fell off the Skyway.

Quoting survivors, Dumlao said Calatcat was speeding when the accident happened.

“The roads were also wet, as it was raining. It was still dark,” she said.

Responder Roden Perez, a senior security officer at Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp., said the tires of the bus, especially the ones in front, were worn out.

Dionisio Tasara, 40, a construction worker, said that before the accident, he saw the bus avoid hitting another vehicle, which could have made the driver lose control of the bus.

Second case

The Don Mariano Transit bus was the second to fall off the Skyway, Dumlao said.

In 2011, a Dimple Star bus fell off the elevated highway, killing three people and injuring four others.

Monday’s accident drew a quick reaction from the government because of the number of fatalities.

In Malacañang, Lacierda noted complaints about reckless driving and speeding despite speed limits.

Lacierda said the government would also look into the “competency of professional drivers.”

The LTFRB said the victims of Monday’s accident or their families were entitled to compensation under the agency’s passenger insurance program.

The board said the families of the dead were entitled to P75,000 in compensation and the injured were entitled to P15,000.

UCPB Insurance will provide the compensation and Don Mariano Transit Corp. will shoulder the medical expenses of the injured.

Investigation

LTFRB chief Winston Ginez confirmed the suspension of Don Mariano Transit Corp.’s seven franchises covering 78 buses.

He said the investigation had begun and it would focus on the roadworthiness of the buses and the competence of the drivers.

The investigation will also include drug tests for the drivers, he said.

“We will then set a case for hearing sometime next year for determination of the main decision against Don Mariano,” Ginez said, adding that previous accidents involving the company would be taken into account.

The steepest penalty the LTFRB could impose on Don Mariano Transit Corp., he said, is revocation of licenses, meaning the company will not be allowed to operate anymore.—With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Maricar Brizuela, AP and AFP

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 08:40 AM
Impunity

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:42 pm | Monday, December 16th, 2013

Only a few weeks ago, we marked the fourth anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre. Several media and lawyer groups did so by noting how four years after the Ampatuans were arrested for the worst crime of the century, they were nowhere near to being tried. The way things were going, the groups cried, it would probably take another century to finally bring them to justice. If at all.

Time was on the side of the Ampatuans. The longer due process took, the less due it became. The longer justice took, the less people believed it could ever be had, a belief that tends to become self-fulfilling.

When I read this, my first thought was how it would impact on the culture of impunity.

Several weeks later several radio commentators were shot and killed in cold blood. One was wounded and escaped by the skin of his teeth. Initially putting it down as isolated incidents when the first couple of shootings took place, government subsequently had to backtrack and give it the weight it deserved.

Frankly, I don’t know why its first instinct when dealing with an atrocity or tragedy is to talk about numbers and suggest it’s not all that bad. I can understand the need for accuracy, but it may not take the place of sensitivity. Whether the dead are 2,000 or 10,000, as in the wake of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” or two or four in the wake of the shootings in Mindanao, the point is the horrendousness and unacceptability of what has happened.

I don’t know that these two events—the perception that the Ampatuans have escaped justice probably forever and the gunning down of radio commentators—are directly related, or the one is the immediate cause of the other. I do know they are related in a general way, by way of context, by way of culture. The one inspires the other, the one fuels the other. It’s certainly not going to discourage hit men from ambushing people in broad daylight when a band of cutthroats can cut the throats of three score men and women—quite apart from beheading them and mutilating the women—in plain view of everyone and laugh at the world afterward.

I agree with Reporters Without Borders when it says: “In the face of all this violence against journalists, we urge the police to deploy whatever means are necessary to arrest those responsible and end the unacceptable impunity. Only a firm response from the authorities will deter others from targeting news providers.” I agree with this, but with one very huge caveat.

The problem is not just identifying and arresting suspects, it is putting them on the dock, trying them, and if they are found guilty jailing them, preferably throwing the keys into the bottom of the sea. Murder is a heinous crime, whether it is done savagely or not. It is at least not going to matter to the spouse or children of the dead, particularly where the victim was the breadwinner.

The assumption in Reporters Without Borders’ statement is that once the suspects get arrested, law and justice will take their course. Which is a natural assumption to make in other countries: The one presupposes the other. Not so in a backward country like ours. Between arresting the culprits even in cases where the evidence against them is glaring and trying them and jailing them stretches a long and winding road.

We do not lack for arrests. The Ampatuans were arrested. Joel and Mario Reyes, the chief, indeed only, suspects in the slaying of environmentalist and sometime radio commentator Gerry Ortega were arrested. What we lack is results. The Ampatuans have not been tried. And the Reyeses are sipping cocktail in Tahiti or wherever they are after giving the Bureau of Immigration the slip.

Are things as bad today for journalists as they were in Gloria Arroyo’s time, or even worse as some claim it is? Not at all. The spate of killings of radio commentators over the past couple of weeks is monstrous and alarming, but it is not a reason to twist it toward that conclusion. The difference in conditions between then and now is vast, which has produced, if not equally vast effects, at least perceptible ones.

Then the problem was that the government wasn’t just inutile in stopping the culture of impunity, it was the very thing that bred the culture of impunity. At the very least directly: The Ampatuans were created in the image and likeness of Arroyo, not necessarily in that order. At the very most, indirectly, by way of sanction: A political order that routinely rewards evil and punishes good naturally unleashes impunity in the way that supertyphoons unleash storm surges.

Now the problem is seeing the efforts to stop impunity—and those efforts are there, government at least is not part of the disease, it is part of the cure—to the very end. So long as nothing happens after suspects are identified and arrested, so long will nothing happen to stop impunity. That is as true of the killing of journalists as it is true of corruption.

Arguably, there are limits to what the executive can do, there is such a thing as the separation of powers. The courts have to do their part too, a prospect that fresh revelations about a syndicate in the judiciary running a “rulings for sale” racket do not enhance. But there is no small amount of possibilities too on government’s part, and enormous ones. It has its own justice department, which can always build ironclad cases that make it all the easier to prosecute. The president can always make certain things priority, or transmit as much a sense of urgency to the judiciary as to the legislative. Certainly, the zeal with which he undertook the expulsion of a chief justice must underscore those possibilities.

The same zeal needs to be applied to the crooks and the murderers. Expel them.

Expunge them. Jail them.

That is the only way to stop impunity.

Sam Miguel
12-17-2013, 08:49 AM
Operator, driver of bus in Skyway accident face criminal charges

By Marlon Ramos, Jaymee T. Gamil

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:13 am | Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

‘UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED’. Bald tires may have led to hydroplaning of the speeding Don Mariano Transit on the southbound lane of the Skyway in Parañaque City near the Sucat exit on Monday. Hydroplaning occurs when a fast-moving object like a bus glides on a wet surface, making it difficult to control. The bus plunged onto the West Service Road in Barangay Marcelo and hit a van. Eighteen people, mostly bus passengers, were killed and 16 others were injured.

The operator and driver of the bus that plunged off the Skyway and fell onto a van in Parañaque City early Monday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 16 others, are facing criminal charges, police said.

Driver Carmelo Calatcat and the owner of Don Mariano Transit Corp. will be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries, said Supt. Elizabeth Velasquez, spokesperson for the Highway Patrol Group.

“Regardless of whether this is a case of human error or a mechanical problem, the driver and the operator of the bus will be charged,” Velasquez told reporters.

Malacañang said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had ordered the suspension of all 78 buses of Don Mariano Transit Corp. for 30 days.

“The owner of Don Mariano [Transit Corp.] was already informed, and [had said she would] comply with that directive,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, adding that the suspension was part of the investigation into the cause of the accident.

The bus driven by Calatcat veered off the Skyway and crashed onto a van 9.6 meters below at about 5:30 a.m., Velasquez said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but the elevated highway was wet because of the rain, said Ivy Vidal, a spokesperson for Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp.

Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 80 kilometers per hour when the bus overtook her car. She estimated that the bus was traveling at between 100 kph and 110 kph.

Sisperes said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened.

“After a few meters, I saw the bus fall and I shouted, ‘The bus fell, the bus fell,’” she said in a radio interview. She said there were no other cars nearby.

Sisperes said she saw the damaged guard rail of the highway and some debris and reported the accident at the toll gate.

The plunge

An accident investigator, SP02 Isidra Dumlao of the Highway Patrol Group, quoted two survivors from the bus as saying the bus careened before hitting the guard rail.

“They felt the bus [jump] and the next thing they knew they were falling,” Dumlao said.

The bus crashed nose first on a delivery van on the northbound side of West Service Road, flipped and landed on its left side near the sidewalk of the southbound side, in front of junk shops and a variety store, where it grazed a tree and an early morning cyclist.

The bus was flattened, its windows crumpled, seats uprooted, passengers crushed or thrown out on impact. Television footage showed a number of bodies strewn around the bus wreckage with police officers nearby. The van was an unrecognizable pile of smashed white metal.

Velasquez earlier reported that 21 people died and 20 others were injured but later said there appeared to have been double counting amid the confusion.

She said she was verifying reports that 17 died and several others were injured.

Traffic officer Jose Abuyog said the death toll could go higher, as some of the injured were in serious condition.

Angelo Dequina, an employee at a funeral parlor in the area, said 17 bodies from the accident were brought to their mortuary from hospitals and from the crash site.

Calls to five hospitals where the victims were taken showed at least 16 people injured from the accident had been admitted.

Velasquez earlier said the van’s driver was killed and the bus driver was in serious condition in a hospital. But Dr. Carmencita Solidum, medical director of Parañaque Doctors’ Hospital, said the two drivers were among the 10 injured who were at her hospital.

Calatcat, the bus driver, was critically injured and the van driver, identified as Gilbert Montallana, had minor injuries, she said.

7 identified

By dusk, only seven of the fatalities had been identified through identification cards found on them and through cross-referencing IDs found on the bus with bodies in the morgues.

The seven were Roger Orquejo, Mary Ann Superio, Roberto Bautista, Arnold Jimenos, Jean Angelique Cadiz, Joey Esponilla and Rodel Tolentino.

The dead were taken to Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, Amigo Funeral Parlor in Lower Bicutan, Taguig City, and Veronica’s Funeral Parlor in Pasay City.

Besides Parañaque Doctors’ Hospital, the injured were taken to Parañaque Medical Center, Ospital ng Muntinlupa and South Superhighway Hospital.

Ryan Bresa, a bus passenger who survived, said the bus may have been traveling too fast and the driver tried to control the vehicle before it fell off the Skyway.

Quoting survivors, Dumlao said Calatcat was speeding when the accident happened.

“The roads were also wet, as it was raining. It was still dark,” she said.

Responder Roden Perez, a senior security officer at Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp., said the tires of the bus, especially the ones in front, were worn out.

Dionisio Tasara, 40, a construction worker, said that before the accident, he saw the bus avoid hitting another vehicle, which could have made the driver lose control of the bus.

Second case

The Don Mariano Transit bus was the second to fall off the Skyway, Dumlao said.

In 2011, a Dimple Star bus fell off the elevated highway, killing three people and injuring four others.

Monday’s accident drew a quick reaction from the government because of the number of fatalities.

In Malacañang, Lacierda noted complaints about reckless driving and speeding despite speed limits.

Lacierda said the government would also look into the “competency of professional drivers.”

The LTFRB said the victims of Monday’s accident or their families were entitled to compensation under the agency’s passenger insurance program.

The board said the families of the dead were entitled to P75,000 in compensation and the injured were entitled to P15,000.

UCPB Insurance will provide the compensation and Don Mariano Transit Corp. will shoulder the medical expenses of the injured.

Investigation

LTFRB chief Winston Ginez confirmed the suspension of Don Mariano Transit Corp.’s seven franchises covering 78 buses.

He said the investigation had begun and it would focus on the roadworthiness of the buses and the competence of the drivers.

The investigation will also include drug tests for the drivers, he said.

“We will then set a case for hearing sometime next year for determination of the main decision against Don Mariano,” Ginez said, adding that previous accidents involving the company would be taken into account.

The steepest penalty the LTFRB could impose on Don Mariano Transit Corp., he said, is revocation of licenses, meaning the company will not be allowed to operate anymore.—With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Maricar Brizuela, AP and AFP

Ringing phones, no answer

By Mike Frialde

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The mobile phones were ringing, but there was no one to take the calls.

At the scene of a horrific accident yesterday, a policewoman pondered if she should answer the phones.

No amount of training can adequately prepare members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the grim task of informing relatives of victims of a tragedy that their loved ones have died.

Senior Police Officer 2 Isidra Dumlao, traffic investigator of the PNP’s Highway Patrol Group (HPG) assigned at the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX), dreads the task. But she had to break the bad news when she had to answer at least four cell phones recovered from where a Don Mariano Transit bus that veered from the Skyway fell and crashed onto a passing van.

“They were calling their relatives to check if they were all right. I had to tell them to come to our office to verify the identity of their relative or to proceed to the morgue. It was very sad,” said Dumlao.

She said several cell phones were recovered from the crash site, but some were damaged or the cell phone batteries drained, possibly because these had been incessantly ringing.

Dumlao said there was no way to identify many of the fatalities because their belongings could not be found and were possibly looted.

Sam Miguel
12-18-2013, 12:59 PM
Collusion angle in power rate hike bolstered

DOE: Power plants didn’t fulfill commitments

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:19 am | Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Power producers initially assured officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) they would meet the supply gap expected to be caused by the scheduled monthlong maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas pipeline, according to a DOE preliminary investigation report.

But when the Malampaya pipeline was shut down from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10, the DOE was caught flat-footed as power industry players failed to live up to their commitments.

Their generation plants went down for unscheduled maintenance during the period, forcing Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to purchase more expensive electricity from the spot market controlled by the same power plant operators and pushing up a near tripling of the expected rate increase.

“The combined effect of Malampaya maintenance and unplanned outages [caused] tight and insufficient supply into the WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) resulting in price setting oil-based plants,” said the DOE preliminary report, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.

While the Malampaya pipeline was shut down, natural gas-using plants that supplied Meralco with power had to shift to more expensive fuel to keep on generating power, jacking up Meralco’s generation charge by P4.15 per kilowatt hour.

The DOE noted that the oil-based plants “cleared” the WESM with bids ranging from P20 to P62/kWh for nearly half the time during the Malampaya downtime.

The DOE listed the plants that cleared the peak of P62/kWh as Bauang, Therma Mobile (TMO) and Limay.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the DOE preliminary report showed the power industry players “shamelessly ignoring the government’s plea for compassion to the public interest.”

The DOE and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) held their first meeting on July 30 or more than months ahead of Malampaya’s scheduled preventive maintenance.

DOE’s market intervention was meant to keep Meralco’s cost of power at a range of P7.37 to P7.86/kWh, or roughly 20 percent higher than the normal seasonal rate of P6.31 to P6.58/kWh.

If the DOE did not intervene, Meralco’s blended generation charges would have doubled to P12.54 to P12.67/kWh during the Malampaya shutdown.

The DOE conducted two more “coordination” meetings—on Aug. 16 and Nov. 4—to ensure that the power industry players would live up to their commitments to keep major plants Malaya, Pagbilao and CBK (Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan) available during the period and for Meralco to sign a power supply agreement with Therma Mobile to reduce its dependence on WESM.

“An increase of P1.58/kWh is expected on the generation charge on the assumptions that First Gas (Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo) power plants will run on alternate fuel (light fuel oil); Ilijan on biodiesel and (Meralco’s) supply agreement with Therma Mobile,” the DOE said in its report.

Meralco ended up demanding a P4.15/kWh rate increase in its generation charge, which the Energy Regulatory Commission chaired by Zenaida Cruz-Ducut approved for collection over the next three months. The generation charge goes directly to Meralco’s power suppliers.

What happened?

The DOE said the Malaya plant did not operate for the whole of November “due to commercial and technical reasons” and “which led to further supply scarcity.”

The DOE added that “unplanned outages occurred for several plants such as Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, Pagbilao, Masinloc, GN Power, Calaca and Ilijan.”

[B]ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the three power generators—Limay Plant of Millennium Holdings Inc. owned by businessman Mike Valencia, Therma Mobile of Aboitiz Group, and Bauang plant of 1590 Energy Corp. of Vivant Corp.—raised their prices on WESM from an average of P13.74/kWh before the Malampaya shutdown to P33.22/kWh over the last four weeks.

“The predatory behavior is best illustrated by the behavior of Aboitiz Group’s Therma Mobile during this period. Initially, it had a short-term contract with Meralco to provide 234 megawatts (MW) of electricity at a cost of P8.65/kWh. However, Therma Mobile delivered only 100 MW at this price and chose to sell the rest of its capacity on WESM, resulting in the jacked-up prices,” Tinio said.

In a letter to the Inquirer, Aboitiz Group said its subsidiary, Therma Mobile, did not benefit from any WESM price movement “because it is paid an agreed rate under its power supply agreement (PSA) with Meralco.”

Susan Valdez, Aboitiz chief reputation and risk management officer, said the remaining 130 MW would be made available to Meralco by mid-2014 once the connection line was available.

“Under its capacity-based contract, Meralco has full control of the use of the 100 MW from TMO, including pricing and volume offers to WESM. TMO is paid only the rate covered by PSA and does not benefit from the high market prices,” Valdez said.

She said the ERC approved the rate.

DOE probe

Based on its findings, the DOE recommended an investigation of the “possible anticompetitive and abuse of market power behaviors of trading participants during the turnaround period.”

The ERC, the Department of Justice’s Office for Competition, and the House and Senate energy committees are conducting separate investigations of the supposed collusion among power producers and the huge power rate increase in Meralco’s franchise area.

Meralco’s franchise area covers 31 cities and 80 municipalities in Metro Manila and several provinces in Luzon, and is home to 24.7 million people, a fourth of the Philippine population.

‘Strong evidence’

In a radio interview, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said there was “strong evidence” of collusion against the power players who made a killing on WESM during the shutdown.

“There is regulatory capture, the regulator has been made captive by the regulated,” Bello said, noting the ERC’s complicity in the alleged conspiracy among industry players.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Bello said: “Circumstantial evidence is, I believe, strong. When six power suppliers to Meralco simultaneously go offline when Malampaya goes on maintenance and other plants owned by the same suppliers benefit from the massive price hike on WESM owing to sudden Meralco demand, it is hard to believe this is a coincidence,” said Bello.

He said Meralco should also share the blame for the fiasco.

“Where Meralco is to be faulted is in not building compensation for a power supply cutoff into its contract with suppliers and passing the added cost to consumers. In fact, it should have insured itself against such an eventuality. This is a massive management failure and the President should tell Meralco not to foist the consequences of its failure on consumers and to roll back its rates,” he said.

Bello said the Department of Justice should also probe whether Meralco actually had an insurance in place for these events.

Sam Miguel
12-18-2013, 12:59 PM
Reckless imprudence

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:52 pm | Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

What an understatement that term is, especially when used to charge bus drivers who get into deadly accidents. Whether one or 18 fatalities, as in the Skyway accident last Monday, reckless imprudence is totally unacceptable.

I had intended to write about the problem of speeding on our expressways for some time now, sparked by a trip to Laguna when I borrowed my father’s driver. I usually drive myself but was particularly exhausted that day, and so thought that having someone else drive would allow me some rest.

Alas, the minute we got on the SLEx the driver just went berserk, quickly reaching a speed of 120 kph (kilometers per hour). I told him to slow down, which he did, but within a few seconds he was accelerating again, breaching the 100-kph mark.

“There’s a speed limit on the expressway,” I told him in Filipino, “and there are police watching and catching those who speed.”

I felt like a typical Filipino parent using an outside authority figure to threaten a child. (You know, “Sige, sige, the policeman will get angry,” as if it’s not enough to say you’re the one who’s upset.) I knew, too, that the SLEx patrols do occasionally go after speeding cars, but for the most part they’re very lenient, perhaps knowing it’s futile to go after the speed maniacs.

What signs?

The driver slowed down somewhat, and was quiet. And then a few minutes later, as he began again to accelerate, he asked, “Is there really a speed limit? I don’t see any signs.”

I was flabbergasted, but persisted: “Just slow down. I’ll show you the speed limit signs.”

So there we were, driving along, and I soon realized, Oh no, they don’t seem to have speed limit signs. Then I spotted one sign, circles with numbers “100,” “80” and “60.”

Triumphantly, I told the driver, “There, there, see that ‘100’? That’s the speed limit for cars.”

He giggled nervously, then explained that he didn’t know they were speed limit signs. Again I was flabbergasted, wondering how he had ever passed the test for a driver’s license where you’re asked to interpret such signs. But then, how many people actually take the test for a driver’s license in the Philippines?

“But what’s the ‘80’ and ‘60’?” the driver asked, interrupting my thoughts.

I had to think a bit and then remembered seeing, in one of those streaming digital boards on the expressway, that those are lower speed limits for larger vehicles—yes, buses included.

“Ah, ganoon,” the driver said, nodding. I always worry when people answer that way, “Ah, ganoon” being a vague term, loosely translated as “So that’s it” but could mean “Sure, sure, I sort of get it,” to disguise continuing confusion, or skepticism.

So Mr. Driver slowed down, but a new problem soon came up: tailgating.

“Distansya,” I urged the driver. Again this guy, who has been driving for more than 10 years, was perplexed, answering that this is the usual distance we have when driving. And I had to explain that when you’re on the expressway and driving close to 100 kph, you need more distance. What if the car in front of you suddenly stops? What if you need to stop suddenly and your brakes aren’t working?

“Ah, ganoon,” the driver replies, and gives some distance. A few minutes later, he’s over 100 kph again—and tailgating.

With a raised voice I told him, “There are children in the car,” and then realized that the remark was stupid, suggesting that if there were no kids in the car he could speed and tailgate.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the journey. We did arrive safely, obviously, but I took over the wheel on the way back, showing him the proper distance between cars, as well as the proper speed, and occasionally pointing out foolish drivers behind us who were tailgating with high beam on.

The Skyway accident was one that was waiting to happen. If you have buses and jeeps in rural areas going off into a ravine, even at slow speeds, you can imagine the kind of accidents our expressways invite. The Skyway is even more dangerous because traffic is usually light, bringing out a dark side in the psyche of drivers, male drivers especially, to just ram the gas pedal down to the floor.

These accidents are not peculiar to the Philippines. We have domino-type smashups in the freeways in western countries, sometimes involving more than 10 cars at a time. All that’s needed is one fast and furious vehicle to suddenly brake, and the next one being just too close, and you have one car smashing into another in quick succession.

But our risks for such accidents are compounded because reckless imprudence is often combined with plain ignorance. Traffic signs are seen as suggestions (if they’re understood at all) and the lack of enforcement—or even police and traffic aides urging you to counterflow or to proceed even when a red signal is on—worsens matters.

Then, too, there’s machismo at work. I have never forgotten a lecture by Fr. Percy Bacani about machismo, and how even in driving, he finds himself wanting to overtake cars, or keeping as fast as other cars. Bus drivers are supposed to go only 60 kph, which means that cars, which are allowed to go up to 100 kph, zip past them, almost goading them.

License to kill

Can such accidents be prevented then? Unless we can get electronic radar and camera systems in place, I’m skeptical about enforcement on the expressway itself (and on our roads in general).

That leaves us with educating drivers. The mass media will have to be unrelenting in reminding people about speed limits and explaining what those encircled numbers are on the expressways. The tragedy on the Skyway should be a time to rev up the volume with warnings, pointing out the full horrors of the accident. Move away from the corpses in the accident scene and feature the injured survivors and bereaved families. Allow them to vent their rage in the interviews about what “reckless imprudence” can mean: someone not returning home, ever, to loved ones.

Were drugs involved? Maybe, maybe not. It’s the bus companies’ responsibility to screen drivers, and to keep pounding on messages about proper driving, on and off the expressways.

More than drugs, the bus companies’ insistence on paying drivers by the number of trips they make, will conspire with testosterone and adrenaline and the lack of driver education (including their low functional literacy) to turn a license to drive into a license to kill.

* * *

gfy
12-20-2013, 12:26 PM
The Dasmarinas Village guards VOLUNTARILY went with the Makati police to the police station. BWAHAHAHA.

abcdef
12-20-2013, 08:43 PM
Mismong loob ng NAIA may nag papatayan. . . . Anung klaseng law enforcers meron tayo.

Joescoundrel
01-08-2014, 08:38 AM
Atimonan a year later

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:06 pm | Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

The incident was bad enough. Eleven of 13 policemen and civilians were killed with multiple gunshots, a number with two wounds in the head, the worst showing 16 fatal shots all over the body. The first vehicle had 196 bullet entry points, the second 61—sustained from an alleged shootout with 22 policemen and 14 military personnel at a checkpoint in Barangay Lumutan, Atimonan, Quezon, on Jan. 6, 2013, or a full year ago.

But worse was the attempted coverup that followed. First, the official police report that it was a shootout, later debunked by the National Bureau of Investigation which said “the victims were summarily executed and all indications point to a ‘rubout,’” and that, according to an NBI forensic expert, “there is no indication that any of the passengers of the two vehicles fired shots directed towards the outside.” Second, the shocking audacity of the policemen involved not only to tamper with the evidence at the crime scene to back their yarn about a shootout, but also to mislead investigators by submitting a different set of firearms when the NBI demanded that they submit the guns used at the operation for testing.

By any standard, such conduct would have merited the steepest penalties for the police and military personnel involved. Yet, a year later, even after the NBI had recommended that charges of multiple murder be filed against the ground commander, Supt. Hansel Marantan; a former Calabarzon regional police director, Chief Supt. James Andrew Melad; and 33 others involved in the incident (19 members of the Philippine National Police and 14 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines), none of the 22 policemen have been meted out administrative sanctions.

The accused cops are confined in Camp Crame’s Custodial Center. Meanwhile, 11 members of the Army Special Forces Battalion, the military detachment that provided support to the police operation, have been exonerated, the charges against them dropped by the Department of Justice along with the charges against Marantan’s superior, Melad.

Marantan, the only police officer who was wounded in the bloodbath, still maintains it was a legitimate shootout. But the PNP’s own fact-finding committee said no shootout had occurred, and the NBI report supplied the motive. Marantan organized the ambush to kill Victor Siman, one of the passengers of the attacked convoy who was said to be an illegal gambling lord with his own private army in Southern Luzon. Siman was engaged in a supposed turf rivalry with another alleged jueteng operator, Cenen “Tita” Dinglasan, who counted Marantan as a protector.

Marantan had received P100,000 from the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission to gather intelligence on and eventually move against Siman under an operational plan called “Coplan Armado.” Apparently, that was just the pretext; Marantan was on a mission to eliminate Dinglasan’s rival. Or, as the NBI report put it: “The Atimonan encounter was a well calculated plan to close the book on Vic Siman under the pretext of Coplan Armado, using government forces and resources. The fault of the other victims was that they were with the wrong company, at the wrong place and at the wrong time.”

The Atimonan rubout is one more textbook example of the rot at the heart of the Philippines’ law enforcement system. Many of the PNP brass are in the pockets of gambling operators, drug lords and assorted lowlifes with money to burn for official protection. As in the Atimonan “shootout,” these police officers have no compunction using the power and resources that come with their badges and offices to stage Potemkin operations for the benefit of their favored criminal syndicates. No less than the country’s top crime-fighting bureau says so, in a report that should make the entire PNP hierarchy cringe in shame.

And yet, a full year after the bloodbath that has exposed, yet again, the outrageous levels of corruption and criminality in the police ranks, there has been no headway in the punishment of the perpetrators, as though certain powers were banking on the inevitable disappearance of the story from the newspaper headlines and the TV news. The government needs forceful reminding that the Atimonan case is not closed with the rendering of the PNP and NBI reports, or even the filing of charges against the gunmen. The case gets resolved only when the guilty are punished. What is taking the government so long to do so?

Sam Miguel
01-29-2014, 07:47 AM
Wheel of torture: 10 cops relieved

41 detainees maltreated at secret PNP facility

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:23 am | Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Ten Philippine National Police officers have been sacked following revelations they played a so-called “wheel of torture” game at a secret detention facility to extract information from criminal suspects and also to have fun, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Tuesday.

The CHR is looking into the alleged maltreatment of up to 41 detainees in the PNP facility in Biñan, Laguna province, according to the commission.

Under the game, detainees—mostly suspected drug traffickers—were punched if the “torture wheel” stopped at “20 seconds Manny Pacman,” referring to a nickname of popular boxer Manny Pacquiao, or hung upside down if it stopped at a punishment called “30-second bat,” said Amnesty International, the London-based rights group. It called the practice despicable.

“It’s horrible,” said CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales of the revelation more than three decades after the Philippines emerged from the brutal era of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

“They do it for fun, it’s like a game for entertainment,” Rosales said. “We’re trying to correct this mindset based on a human rights approach to policing but obviously it may take a lot of time.”

Thousands of victims during the Marcos regime won a class action suit in 1992 in Hawaii against the Marcos estate for torture and other rights violations. Marcos was ousted in the peaceful 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Rosales, herself a torture victim during the Marcos regime, said that she had discussed the torture allegations with top PNP officials.

President Aquino has pledged to take steps to prosecute violators of human rights in past years. Rights groups, however, say violations have continued with impunity under Aquino’s watch.

Multicolored wheel

A picture of the multicolored wheel provided by the CHR showed several other torture selections, including “3 minutes zombies” and “30-second duck walk/ferris wheel” but it was not immediately clear how those punishments were carried out.

“For police officers to use torture for fun is despicable,” Amnesty International’s Hazel Galang-Folli said in a statement.

“These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough. Errant police personnel and their commanding officers should be held accountable in a court of law,” she added.

The group called on the Aquino administration “to act immediately to put an end to routine torture.”

Aquino’s communications secretary, Sonny Coloma, said: “We will await CHR’s findings and recommendations on this specific matter as it has the primary responsibility for protecting and promoting human rights.”

Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, the PNP spokesman, said several officers had been taken into custody and an investigation was under way.

CHR spokesman Marc Titus Cebreros said the officers had been summoned to its office in Biñan and told to submit their counteraffidavits within 10 days.

The officers, who had been relieved of their posts, were identified as Chief Insp. Arnold Formento, SPO1 Alexander Asis, PO3 Freddie Ramos, PO2 Marc Julius Caesar, PO2 Aldwin Tibuc, PO2 Melmar Baybado Viray, PO1 Nelson Caribo, SPO2 Bernardino Artisen, PO2 Mateo Cailo and PO2 Renan Galang.

41 victims

Initial investigation by the CHR revealed the possibility of 41 alleged victims of torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the PNP provincial intelligence branch in Biñan.

One of the victims was identified as Greg Montemayor, a detainee who was allegedly tortured sometime in June 2013 and again last Jan. 8.

He was hit with a paddle and a baseball bat, his head banged and punched allegedly by respondents Caribo, Viray, Asis and Caesar.

Another victim, Leody Camacho, who was arrested on Oct. 17, 2013, was tortured the same day and on Jan. 9, allegedly by the same four policemen who hit him with a steel bar, gun and baseball bat.

Other victim-detainees were identified as Rowelito Almeda, Isiah Hadlocon, Jayvee Dimapilis, Neil Castillo, Mark Frederick Lim, Hector Domalaon, Dell Ramos Robertson, Leo Umali Romasanta, Kristofferson Climaco Cesar, Emilio Enesin, Catherine Viray and Jimmy Lectura. Most of them complained they were hit by police officers using a baseball bat.—With reports from AP, Nikko Dizon and Gil C. Cabacungan

Sam Miguel
01-29-2014, 07:48 AM
Police torture chamber found in Laguna

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:22 pm | Friday, January 24th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—A previously unlisted Philippine National Police detention facility in Laguna has been the venue for many instances of torture of its detainees, the Commission on Human Rights disclosed Friday.

The CHR announced at a news conference it had recently caused the relief of a police official and nine other officers of the PNP Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) in Biñan for the alleged maltreatment of suspected drug pushers.

“It came as a surprise that the PIB has detainees in their office, because they should be turning them over to the police stations,” said Jacqueline dela Peña, acting director of the CHR Regional Office 4. “Some (provincial) police officials were surprised there’s such a detention facility. The PNP had not informed us (about it).”

The PIB facility in Biñan, and consequently its detainees, were never included in the regular status report of all police custodial and detention centers which Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 requires the PNP to report to the CHR, dela Peñna said.

“Since they are an intelligence branch, it’s not the convention for them to maintain a detention facility,” she said, adding that the PIB in Biñan along with its detention facility is located in a residential subdivision in Barangay San Francisco.

While the detention cell could hold only 10 people, there were about 50 detainees as of the last count.

Acting on a complaint forwarded by the Public Attorney’s Office last January 9, investigators of the CHR Region 4 office found that 51 detainees had suffered beatings and electrocution in the hands of the police officers.

All the detainees were arrested on drug charges and many of them have been in detention since last year.

Dela Peña said the police officers allegedly tortured the detainees to extract confessions or information about their sources of drugs, or to extort money from them in exchange for being charged with lighter offenses or the dropping of the charges altogether.

Some were tortured for the police officers’ amusement when they got drunk, she alleged.

Only the old detainees were spared from maltreatment, she added.

According to the CHR’s report, the Laguna Police Provincial Office relieved last January 15 Chief Inspector Arnold Formento for command responsibility even if he did not participate in the alleged torture.

The rest who were relieved after being implicated were SPO 3 Bernardino Artisen; SPO 1 Alexander Asis; PO 3 Freddie Ramos and Renan Galang; POs 2 Marc Julius Ceazar, Melmar Baybayado, Mateo Cailo and Aldwin Paulo Tibuc; and PO1 Nelson Caribo.

The 10 officers were charged administratively with grave misconduct and ordered restricted inside Camp Sandigan in Barangay Bitin in Bay, Laguna, while they undergo a “moral recovery seminar.”

“This is not about protecting the human rights of criminals or suspects. It is about preventing the State from using its coercive power to hurt innocent civilians through its agents,” CHR Chairperson Loretta Rosales said during the news conference.

Dela Peña said only 15 detainees agreed to make formal complaints, including two minors (ages 16 and 17) and a woman, and were transferred to another detention facility.

The rest stayed put in the PIB Biñan apparently out of fear of reprisals, while others pointed out that their families would have a harder time visiting them in another facility.

Sam Miguel
01-29-2014, 10:36 AM
Cornejo's camp to sue Vhong for rape, not attempted rape

By Camille Diola

(philstar.com) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 11:14am

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of businessman Cedric Lee and alleged victim Deniece Cornejo will file a rape case against the showbiz personality instead of merely alleging attempted rape.

"Hindi lang attempted rape, rape na yung isasampa namin," Lee said in an ANC interview Tuesday morning.

Lee was reacting to reports that Navarro's lawyers are preparing to charge the businessman and his six companions for frustrated murder counts and serious illegal detention.

Lee claimed that he caught Navarro attempting to abuse 22-year-old Cornejo in a condominium unit in Taguig, prompting him and his friends to rescue her and in turn attack the actor.

Navarro denied the allegations, and said he was forced to admit to rape in a video footage taken by Lee that evening of January 22.

The businessman, meanwhile, denied the authenticity of alleged photos of Navarro's battered private parts.

"Ang baboy naman no'n. Kalalaki namin tao, gagawin namin 'yon," Lee said.

Cornejo claimed innocence from the beating and insisted that she was a victim of Navarro's actions.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Monday that the National Bureau of Investigation is preparing to file raps against Lee and five others for the attack.

Sam Miguel
01-29-2014, 10:38 AM
Lee, Cornejo charged for 6 offenses in Vhong attack

(philstar.com) | Updated January 28, 2014 - 5:30pm

MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) charged businessman Cedric Lee, model Deniece Cornejo and their six companions for six offenses in connection with their attack on actor Vhong Navarro.

NBI filed the complaint before the Prosecutor General's office on Tuesday afternoon as a result of an investigation on the incident in Cornejo's Taguig condominium on January 22, Wednesday.

Recommended for prosecution were Cornejo, Lee, Bernice Lee, Ferdinand Guerrero, Zimmer Rance and three others carrying aliases of "Mike," "John Doe" and "Peter Doe."

State investigators said that the results of the probe found sufficient reason for respondents to face charges for kidnapping and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.

The respondents also face charges for serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, threatening to prevent publication in exchange for compensation.

Navarro, whom the group accused of attempting to sexually abuse Cornejo, maintained that he was "set up" for the crime and forced to admit it on video after being beaten up.

Lee, however, said that they rescued Cornejo from Navarro, who was naked when they arrived in the residential unit at Forbeswood.

The businessman said that his camp is also preparing to file rape charges against Navarro as well as libel complaints for his claims. - Camille Diola and Aie Balagtas See

Sam Miguel
02-12-2014, 10:02 AM
LTFRB: Killer Florida bus operating illegally

By Dennis Carcamo

(philstar.com) | Updated February 10, 2014 - 4:21pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday said that the passenger bus involved in the fatal accident in Bontoc, Mountain Province last week was operating illegally.

The LTFRB said according to its Information Systems Management Division, the bus unit with plate number TXT-872 belongs to the Mt. Province Cable Tour and no application for approval of sale and transfer has been filed by Norberto Que S., MTCT, in favor of the G.V. Florida Transport Inc.

A further check also showed that the chassis and engine of the G.V Florida bus were tampered with and not registered with the Land Transportation Office.

The bus was not authorized to operate as a for-hire vehicle, the LTFRB added.

“What the bus company committed [are] blatant multiple violations that we cannot just tolerate because it puts people’s life in danger," LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez said.

"There are enough merits to immediately recall the whole fleet of G.V Florida and Mt. Province Cable Tours and temporary suspend their operations until we verify the permits of their respective units,” Ginez said.

Earlier, LTFRB issued a preventive suspension order to halt the operations of a total of 238 buses of the G.V. Florida Transport Inc. and Mt, Province Cable Tours -- due to multiple violations committed by the two bus companies, including the fatal road accident in Bontoc.

A total of 17 people died, including comedian and artist Arvin "Tado" Jimenez, and 31 others were hurt when the Florida bus unit fell off a ravine in Barangay Talubin, Bontoc town at past 7 a.m. on February 7.

The LTFRB personnel have started confiscating all the yellow for hire plates of the buses since Saturday and will continue until all the plates of the 238 units are confiscated, Ginez said.

G.V Florida has 228 units under its franchise while the Mt. Province Cable Tours has 10 units.

The two companies are given 72 hours from the receipt of the Order to submit a "show cause" explaining why their Certificates of Public Convenience should not be suspended or cancelled.

They are also ordered to appear before the Board on February 19 for a public hearing.

Failure of the two companies to appear on the scheduled date will be considered as a waiver on their part and the Board will decide on the merits of the case based on their franchise records.

"Patuloy naming lilinisin ang ating lansangan ng mga pampasaherong sasakyan na walang tamang permiso para pumasada upang masiguro ang kaligtasan ng mga mananakay natin," Ginez said.

MrM
02-12-2014, 10:12 AM
^ The sad part is if there were no celebrities on that ill-fated trip, the LTFRB might not even look into the said bus company.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2014, 10:08 AM
^^^ Agree. Sayang pa, Florida ang pinakamabilis ang biyahe sa norte kasi pinakakonti ang stopover nila.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2014, 10:11 AM
The Arc of Justice and the Dacer decision

By Rodel Rodis

6:40 pm | Thursday, February 13th, 2014

How long before the people responsible for the Dacer-Corbito murders are brought to justice? The hopeful answer may be found in a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on March 25, 1965 when he said:

“How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

While reviewing for the California state bar exams in 1980, I read a landmark federal court decision handed down that summer that I just knew I would one day use as the basis for a federal lawsuit. The opportunity finally arose in 2010 and, more than 3 years after I filed the civil suit, a federal judge handed down his decision on January 21, 2014.

The Filartiga precedent

The landmark 1980 case was Filártiga v. Peña-Irala, which established that US courts have jurisdiction over non-American citizens for tortious acts committed outside the United States. The suit was based on a rarely used 1789 federal statute, the Alien Tort Claims Act, which gives foreign nationals the right to sue in US federal courts for wrongful actions that violate international law.

The plaintiffs were the New York-based father and sister of 17-year old Joelito Filartiga who was kidnapped and tortured to death in Paraguay on March 29, 1976 by Asuncion Police Inspector General Americo Pena-Irala. The killing drove the victim’s father and sister to flee to the US in 1978.When they learned a year later that Pena-Irala was in New York, they sued him in US federal court for Joelito’s wrongful death by torture.

Pena-Rala’s lawyer succeeded in getting the case dismissed because the action occurred outside the US. But after the Filartigas appealed the decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal declaring that foreign nationals who are victims of international human rights violations may sue their malfeasors in federal court for civil redress, even for acts which occurred abroad.

“The torturer has become – like the pirate and slave trader before him – hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind”, the appellate court declared.

After the case was remanded back to the trial court in New York, it ruled in favor of the Filártigas, awarding them $10.4 million against Americo Pena-Irala for his torture-killing of Joelito Filartiga in 1976.

I passed the California bar in 1980 and went on to set up my own law practice in San Francisco where I have handled thousands of civil and criminal cases since then. But the Filartiga case always remained in the back of my mind. Someday.

The Dacer-Corbito murders

That someday occurred in 2010 when I met Carina Dacer, the daughter of prominent publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, who described to me what happened to her father and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, on November 24, 2000. She recounted that about a week before that fateful day, her father was summoned to Malacañang by then Pres. Joseph Estrada where he was accused of working with Estrada’s political enemies to have him impeached and removed from office. After the severe tongue lashing he received from Estrada, Dacer told his daughters that he feared for his life.

Estrada knew of Dacer’s activities because his Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) had bugged Dacer’s office. Estrada appointed Gen. Panfilo M. Lacson to head the PAOCTF and to retain that post even after Estrada promoted him to head the Philippine National Police (PNP), a promotion that Dacer fiercely lobbied against.

[On August 30, 2001, Lacson and 10 of his men PAOCTF men –including Magtanggol Gatdula - were charged by the Philippine National Police before the Ombudsman for wiretapping the phone of Dacer, among other crimes].

Because of their wiretapping, Lacson’s men knew that Dacer would be meeting for lunch with former President Fidel Ramos at the Manila Hotel on November 24, 2000 and that he planned to hand over to Ramos documents in his attaché case. The documents would purportedly expose Estrada’s compensation for giving Best World Resources the exclusive contract to operate on-line bingo as well as to introduce Quick Pick-2 (similar to “jueteng”) that increased the value of Best World stock by 18,025%. This was explosive evidence which may virtually guarantee Estrada’s conviction in the Philippine Senate hearing on his impeachment.

(http://www.slideshare.net/lawrence0492/president-estradas-bw-resources-scandal)

On November 24, 2000, Dacer’s car was stopped at a Makati intersection by PAOCTF officers as he was headed to the Manila Hotel. Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, were then taken to a safe house in Dasmariñas, Cavite where they were tortured and executed. Several months later, their charred remains were later found in a creek in Indang, Cavite. The eyewitness testimonies of two farmers (who were subsequently killed) led to the arrest of the PAOCTF officers involved in their abduction, torture and murders.

Further investigation led to the apprehension of PAOCTF Superintendent Glenn Dumlao who confessed to his role in the Dacer-Corbito abduction. In his sworn affidavit, Dumlao revealed that on November 24, 2000, he received a call from his commanding officer, PAOCTF Operations Chief Michael Ray Aquino, ordering him to “tactically interrogate” Dacer in a safe house in Dasmariñas, Cavite and to seize Dacer’s attaché case and destroy all the documents in it. Dumlao disclosed that he complied with his orders.

Based on Dumlao’s confession, warrants of arrest were issued for Aquino and Cezar Mancao, Lacson’s top aides.

Before a full investigation could be completed, Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez issued a statement clearing former President Estrada of any involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murders. Perez would later be charged with receiving $2 million in bribe money from reputed Estrada crony Mark Jimenez.

Finding safe harbor in the US

In May of 2001, Lacson was elected to the Philippine Senate. In July of 2001 (according to Mancao’s affidavit), Lacson tipped them off about the warrants of arrest for them and arranged for them to flee the Philippines and to enter the US on tourist visas. Dumlao was also able to escape from his confinement in 2003 and to flee to the US where he linked up with Aquino and Mancao. According to Mancao’s affidavit, Lacson met with them on three occasions while he was visiting the US and that Lacson reimbursed them for all their costs.

Not so fortunate was PAOCTF Visayas Chief Teofilo Vina, who was identified by arrested PAOCTF officers as the officer in charge of the actual abduction and execution of Dacer and Corbito. Michael Ray Aquino had complained to Mancao, according to Mancao’s affidavit, that Vina botched his assignment by “sloppily dumping Bubby Dacer’s car in a ravine in Cavite where it was easily discovered.”

In January of 2003, Vina was shot dead by Medar Cruz, a reported balikbayan “hitman” from Virginia Beach who returned back to the US after Vina’s family dropped the murder charge against Cruz.

Lacson’s lawyers succeeded in delaying the issuance of the warrants of arrest against Aquino and Mancao from 2001 until 2006 when the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered their arrests after finding probable cause against them and18 others in the double-murder case.

In November 2008, Mancao and Dumlao were arrested in the United States on extradition requests from the Philippines. Mancao arrived in Manila in June2009 and pled not guilty at the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC). He later turned state witness against Lacson and Aquino.

Operation ‘Delta’

At a court hearing before the Manila RTC, Mancao testified that while sitting in the front seat of Lacson’s car sometime in October of 2000, he heard Lacson instruct Aquino to proceed with “Operation Delta” (D for Dacer) and that the sanction had the approval of “Bigote” (Estrada).

Lacson’s lawyer cross-examined Mancao about when he first learned about the abduction of Dacer and Corbito. Mancao replied that it was only after they were abducted on November 24, 2000 when Dumlao informed him that Aquino had ordered him to proceed to Cavite to tactically interrogate (“T.I.”) Dacer.

Following Mancao’s sworn testimony, in January 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Lacson with two counts of murder in connection with the Dacer-Corbito killings and issued a warrant of arrest for him.

But even before the warrant was issued, Lacson fled to Hong Kong in December of 2009 while his lawyers challenged the legality of the issuance of the warrant of arrest against him.

It was during this period while Lacson was in Hong Kong that I met with Carina Dacer in San Francisco. Noynoy Aquino had just been elected president of the Philippines and, although I actively campaigned for him throughout the US, I knew that his election would be good news for Lacson. After all, Aquino was his close personal friend and would likely accept his story that the charges were the product of the political vendetta of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At that time, Aquino’s girlfriend was Shalani Soledad, a former Lacson senate aide. There was grave concern that Aquino would drop the case against Lacson and allow his friend to return to his senate post.

I informed Carina Dacer about the Filartiga precedent and I advised her that we had to file the federal civil lawsuit in San Francisco before the 10 year statute of limitations would run out on November 24, 2010.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2014, 10:13 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Federal suit filed in San Francisco

On Sept. 16, 2010, together with my co-counsel, Errol Zshornack and Felix Antero, I filed the federal civil lawsuit in San Francisco on behalf of the four Dacer daughters [Carina, Sabina, Amparo, and Emily] against former Philippine president Joseph Ejercito Estrada, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Panfilo M. Lacson, former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chief Reynaldo “Butch” Tenorio, former Best World Resources CEO Dante Tan, and PAOCTF police superintendents Michael Ray Aquino, Vicente Arnado, and Glenn Dumlao [Case No. 3:10-cv-04165 WHA].

The first order of business was serving the summons and complaint on the named defendants and that was a formidable task. We could not locate the whereabouts of Tenorio, Tan and Arnado and we could not serve Lacson because he was hiding out somewhere in Hong Kong where even the Interpol could not locate him. We also could not personally get Estrada personally served because his security would not allow any process server to come near him.

But we could serve Michael Ray Aquino because he was serving time in a federal prison in New Jersey after he pled guilty to federal criminal charges where he was sentenced to 79 months in jail. We served him with the summons and complaint in June of 2011 just before he was to be extradited to the Philippines.

While he was in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – by then headed by his former PAOCTF subordinate Magtanggol Gatdula, Aquino filed a motion to dismiss the Dacer daughters’ federal lawsuit. The motions, and all the other pleadings filed by Aquino, were filed in his name with him acting as his own attorney. But they were all posted in the Philippine Senate Post Office as shown by the postmark on the envelope stamps

Our assumption was that it was prepared and filed by lawyers in the office of Senator Panfilo Lacson, who had resumed his senate office after a 15 month absence. Lacson returned to Manila and his senate post on March 30, 2011 after the Philippine Court of Appeal had dismissed the criminal charges against Lacson after finding that Mancao is “not a credible and trustworthy witness.”

‘Triumph of due process’

Lacson’s lawyers had successfully argued that Mancao was not credible because he said that he only learned about the abduction of Dacer on November 24, 2000 when he also testified that he overheard Lacson and Aquino discuss the plan to kill Dacer while in Lacson’s car. The appellate judges apparently could not believe that Mancao would know of the plan of Lacson and Aquino to kill Dacer but not know about the actual abduction until after it had already occurred. The judges could not imagine Lacson and Aquino carrying out their plan to kill Dacer without including Mancao in the planning of it.

In the US, informants regularly testify with total credibility about being present when a Mafia Don ordered the hit on a victim even if that informant did not participate in the actual execution of the victim.

Associate Justices Ramon Bato Jr., Juan Enriquez Jr. and Isaias Dicdican issued the order dismissing all the criminal charges against Lacson, who they said, “should be relieved from the pain and agony of trial.” We wondered why the court showed no concern for the families of the victims who would go through the “pain and agony” of not having a trial.

Sen. Gringo Honasan, Lacson’s PMA classmate and close friend, hailed the court decision as a “triumph of due process”. Cynics would argue that in the Philippines, if you pay your “due”, your “process” will triumph.

While Aquino was waiting for his day in court, which had been delayed by his sojourn in the US, his lawyer filed a motion to dismiss all the criminal charges against him for “lack of evidence.” On December 19, 2012, Manila Trial Court Judge Carolino Sison granted the motion finding that the sworn affidavits of Dumlao and Mancao pointing to Aquino as the man who directed “Operation Delta” of the PAOCTF and Aquino’s flight to the US when a warrant of arrest was issued for him and remaining in the US for 10 years were all simply not enough evidence to establish Aquino’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

This ruling may yet set a precedent that anyone in the Philippines accused of a crime can now file a motion to dismiss all the charges before a trial if the prosecution has not convinced the judge that the evidence not yet presented in a court trial is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” No need for a trial then.

On December 20, 2012, Aquino was released from his detention cell at the NBI headquarters and is now employed as a security officer by billionaire Enrique Razon at his Solaire Casino.

To show just how “due process” in the Philippines works, it is enough to consider that the Philippine Department of Justice is now hunting down Cezar Mancao for the Dacer-Corbito murders even though everyone agrees that he only learned about the abduction of Dacer and Corbito after it had already occurred.

While Aquino was detained in NBI custody, he managed to file a motion to dismiss the Dacer federal complaint which was denied. He filed a 20-page answer with two exhibits denying the allegations of the complaint and he then filed a motion for summary judgment which was also denied.

Michael Aquino was required to attend the February 1, 2013 pre-trial conference in federal court in San Francisco but he was a no-show. Judge William Alsup postponed the trial to November of 2013 to allow him time to hire a lawyer or personally appear at the next hearing.

Torture Victim Protection Act

When Aquino did not appear at the September 2013 hearing, Judge Alsup entertained a motion from the plaintiffs to obtain his default. The default hearing was held on November 7, 2013 and Judge Alsup granted the motion under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

In his decision issued on January 21, 2014, Judge Alsup noted the following facts:

“Defendant Michael Ray Aquino played a significant role in authorizing, instructing and coordinating the effort to kill Salvador Dacer…He also issued instructions to interrogate and “neutralize” the decedent. The Philippine Department of Justice…noted that he was “obviously stage managing the whole operation via cellular telephone”. Michael Aquino’s brutal actions took the life of a prominent and influential publicist, a friend and mentor to the Filipino community and a father of four now orphaned daughters. The cruel manner in which defendant orchestrated the abduction, torture and killing of Salvador Dacer is chilling…Despite “silencing” Dacer in such a gruesome manner, defendant has escaped relatively unscathed.”

Judge Alsup found Michael Ray Aquino liable for subjecting Salvador Dacer to torture in violation of the Torture Victim Protection Act and ordered him to pay damages to the four plaintiff daughters of Dacer in the total amount of $4,205,000.

One can only hope Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said that the long arc of the moral universe will eventually bend towards justice.

Joescoundrel
03-10-2014, 09:03 AM
In plain sight

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:11 am | Monday, March 10th, 2014

So, as it turns out, fugitive businessman Delfin Lee was hiding in plain sight. Despite a P2-million reward offered since August 2012, one of the country’s most wanted men continued to live, more or less, like a free man, or at least like a man who had nothing to fear from the authorities. To be sure, he kept a lower profile, but he lived a life that can be fairly described as regular: staying with his live-in partner, showing up for meetings in hotels, moving about Metro Manila.

According to an Inquirer source, however, it was his way of moving about that led to his arrest. He used the expensive vehicles registered under his mistress’ name; once police pursuers identified his partner, it was only a matter of time (and not a little luck) before they caught up with him.

Lee, the owner of controversial property developer Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp., went into hiding in May 2012, when an arrest warrant was issued against him and four others, including his son, for syndicated estafa. He was alleged to have masterminded an elaborate scheme defrauding the Home Development Mutual Fund (the Pag-Ibig Fund) of some P7 billion from 2008 to 2011. In August 2012, he was included in a list of five notorious fugitives on whom the Aquino administration placed a P2-million “bounty” each: the others were a retired general (Jovito Palparan), former Palawan politicians Joel and Mario Reyes, and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr.

Lee’s arrest raises the public’s hopes that the others would fall into the authorities’ hands too. The fate of Palparan, in particular, is of distinct importance, because of his alleged role in the spree of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances that marred the second half of the Arroyo administration.

The circumstances that led to Lee’s arrest, however, suggest a way to finally capture the country’s most wanted—and also a reason why Palparan, Ecleo and the Reyes brothers continue to evade the long arm of the law.

In reporter Marlon Ramos’ account (based on an interview with the Inquirer source) of how the police finally captured Lee, we find hard work wedded to common sense. Part of the story quotes the source, a police official involved in the manhunt.

“His biggest mistake? The high-end vehicles he was using were all registered under the name of his 41-year-old live-in partner with whom he has three children, the source said. ‘We really started from scratch in our task to locate and arrest him,’ said the police official …. ‘We got a big break when we were able to determine the identity of Mr. Lee’s live-in partner sometime in December.’”

The police eventually traced the vehicles registered under the partner’s name, then tracked their use over the last three months. Last Thursday, Lee used one of those vehicles to go to a meeting at the Hyatt Regency; it was there, after a meeting with his lawyer, where he was finally arrested.

This account shows sheer dogged determination need not remain a mere cliché, and that police intelligence need not be what it is sometimes portrayed in the movies, as an obvious contradiction in terms.

What Task Force Tugis displayed gives the public good reason to hope that similar doggedness and the same street smarts can be used to track down the other most-wanted fugitives. One down, four to go?

At the same time, we also all need to ask ourselves: How did Lee manage to live an almost normal life, despite an entire government looking for him? The answer must be: Because not everyone in the government was looking for him. Or, rather, some in the law enforcement agencies must have extended Lee a helping hand, or looked the other way. Indeed, Lee may be asking himself the same question, but seen from the other side: Who betrayed him?

The members of Task Force Tugis deserve all the commendations that come their way. May the same combination of hard work and common sense, and dedication to the public interest, lead to more arrests, more captured fugitives, in the future.

Sam Miguel
03-14-2014, 08:58 AM
Delfin Lee captor sacked

Purisima: Tugis head Capa was promoted

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:21 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—A senior police official who led the arrest last week of businessman Delfin Lee, wanted for syndicated estafa in connection with a multibillion-peso housing scam, has been removed from his post.

“What’s my reaction? I’m mad. After I arrested Delfin Lee, they just dumped me,” Senior Supt. Conrad Capa told the Inquirer on Thursday.

“I’m very angry. I’m very frustrated… Frustrated is still a very kind word. You write that down. You can quote me on that. I will not take this sitting down,” Capa said in a raised voice.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1985, Capa lambasted Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima for ordering his relief as head of Task Force Tugis.

Capa had served as Purisima’s intelligence officer since the latter was designated by President Aquino Central Luzon police director in 2010.

Asked why he was removed from his post, Capa said: “I was no match for Delfin Lee. I cannot fight that influential man. It’s now me who’s being harassed.”

A day after Lee’s arrest, Vice President Jejomar Binay, head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and chair of the Pag-Ibig Fund, said influential people went to Camp Crame to make the police release the housing developer.

It turned out that Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party, called up Purisima to inquire about Lee’s arrest.

There was also the controversy over the deletion of Lee’s name from the PNP list of wanted criminals.

Lee, who went into hiding after an arrest warrant was issued against him by a judge in Pampanga province, where many victims of his alleged housing scam live, is detained at the provincial jail in the City of San Fernando.

Surprised

Capa said he was surprised when he received on Wednesday night Purisima’s order designating him deputy regional chief for operations of the Cebu regional police office.

Although he was upset, Capa said he was ready to accept his new assignment and even planned to report to Purisima’s office Thursday morning.

He said his frustration turned to anger upon learning that the PNP chief announced his relief at a news briefing at Camp Crame before noon Thursday.

Promotion

At the press conference, Purisima said Capa’s new designation was a reward and a step closer to his eventual promotion to chief superintendent, a one-star rank equivalent to brigadier general in the military.

“His relief is a promotion. He cannot be promoted to chief superintendent if he stayed in Task Force Tugis, so he had to be transferred,” the PNP chief told reporters.

Purisima said Capa was long overdue for that position.

But Capa twitted his superior, saying it would still take some time for him to become a chief superintendent because the post given to him was only the third-highest position in the regional PNP office in Cebu City.

He said if Purisima really wanted to promote him, he could have assigned him to an equivalent post at PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

“This is not a promotion, that I can tell you. What he said is actually misleading. I will not be promoted there. Mabubulok muna ako bago ma-promote (I would rot before I get promoted),” Capa said.

He said Purisima was fooling the public. “While the people are sending me congratulatory messages, I was relieved by the PNP chief. I don’t understand why,” he said.

Despite Task Force Tugis’ accomplishment, Capa said Purisima did not even commend him, but Interior Secretary Mar Roxas called to congratulate him and his men for arresting Lee.

“I’m telling you there was not one nice word from him (Purisima),” Capa said.

Capa also took offense at Purisima’s statement that “Capa is not Task Force Tugis,” saying he gave guidelines and financial assistance to the tracker team that arrested Lee at the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Casino in Ermita, Manila, on March 6.

“That is an insult to me. Of course I was not physically present during Lee’s arrest because I’m the commander. My job is to guide my men and issue instructions,” he said.

Dreamed about Lee daily

Capa said he was so focused on getting Lee that “I dream about Delfin Lee every day.”

“The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) hunted Lee for almost two years while it took us only a few months to arrest him. It was not just luck, but a product of hard work and vigorous police work,” he said.

Different appreciation

Sought for comment, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP public information office chief, said Purisima was sincere when he said that Capa’s transfer was a reward for arresting Lee.

“Apparently, Capa has a different appreciation of the PNP chief’s decision. He may have other personal concerns or issues regarding his reassignment,” Sindac said.

After letting off steam, a calmer Capa faced reporters covering Camp Crame.

Apology to PNP chief

He said Purisima had called him and instructed him not to give interviews to reporters anymore. He said he would apologize to Purisima “for letting my temper get the better of me.”

Asked why he was not happy with his promotion, he said: “Next question, please.”

“I’m happy. Do I really have to answer that? Can’t you see that in my face?” he said with a wry face.

Wanted list

Purisima maintained that the PNP did not delete Lee’s name from the wanted list despite the insistence of the lawyers of the detained property developer.

In a Jan. 8 letter to Lee’s lawyer, Emmanuel Pichay, Purisima said the PNP “is in the process of delisting Mr. Delfin Lee from the list of wanted persons.”

He also told Pichay that the PNP “fully recognizes and acknowledges” the Nov. 7, 2013, ruling of the Court of Appeals, which quashed the arrest warrant against Lee.

But Purisima said the removal of Lee’s name from the list was not tantamount to revoking his arrest warrant.

He said he did not find anything wrong with the phone call he received from Governor Umali shortly after Lee’s arrest.

“He just asked if the warrant was valid. I told him it was still valid. That was the only subject of the conversation,” Purisima said, adding that the call lasted for only a minute.

Asked if the governor had tried to block Lee’s arrest, the PNP chief said Umali did not attempt to intervene. “Nobody can ask a favor from me if it involves law enforcement matters,” Purisima said.

Sam Miguel
03-19-2014, 10:55 AM
How P7-B Globe Asiatique scam was done

By Neal H. Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:13 am | Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It is becoming clear how easy it is to steal billions of pesos from government agencies in spite of red tape and documentary requirements.

The documents required are merely faked and the government agencies do not make efforts to verify authenticity.

That was the case with the pork barrel scam, the Malampaya Fund scam, the smuggling of rice through cooperatives, and now the Globe Asiatique fund scam in which P7 billion of Pag-Ibig funds for housing were lent to “buyers” of Delfin Lee’s housing developments, 60 percent of whom turned out to be “ghost” borrowers. It was so easy to set up nongovernment organizations and cooperatives and produce bogus documents.

Lawyer Darlene Marie Berberabe, CEO and president of Pag-Ibig Fund, related to journalists at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel how Globe Asiatique perpetrated its housing scam.

The first mistake was the decision of Pag-Ibig—in order to make its funds readily available to its members, to relieve the housing shortage, and to make the processing of loan applications faster—allowing developers with a “good track record” (Delfin Lee has a good track record?) to process the loan applications. The approved applications were then forwarded to Pag-Ibig and the funds released.

The second mistake was the postvalidation of the applications. They were checked only after the loans had been approved and released. It turned out that more than half of Globe Asiatique’s borrowers were fictitious.

Pag-Ibig thought it was amply protected by the “buy back” provision in the contract with Globe Asiatique. If the borrowers do not pay the loans, Globe Asiatique will simply buy it back and Pag-Ibig will get back its loan. The developer bought back the units and then sold these to other buyers. That is why there are two or more claimants to the same units. However, payments for the loans collected by the developer were not forwarded to Pag-Ibig. The developer simply pocketed them.

Berberabe emphasized that Pag-Ibig will not lose anything in the scam. The housing agency holds all the titles to the units mortgaged to it. The losers will be the buyers, if they did not pay directly to Pag-Ibig. If there are two claimants to a unit, who will Pag-ibig recognize? Naturally, the one who is paying the loan, as shown in Pag-Ibig records. If the other claimant has nothing to show as proof of his payments, then he has to go after the developer. Berberabe said Pag-Ibig will help all those buyers who have been cheated by the developer.

During the investigation, the Pag-Ibig chief said, borrowers admitted that they were paid to sign loan applications although they had no intention of borrowing, of owning a unit, or of paying the loan. This may be the work of agents who get commissions from proceeds of the loan and do not care what happens next. Some borrowers were outright fictitious, and the developer pocketed the proceeds and sold the unit to another buyer.

Many of the borrowers were overseas Filipino workers who thought that by buying a unit in installments, they would have a place to go home to. And because they are abroad, they have no means of checking the units or the records. They simply paid merrily, trusting the developer, thinking that when they go back to the Philippines, they would have a unit waiting for them.

Are there other developers with the same contracts as Globe Asiatique?

Yes, but they are now being reviewed and the same policy with Globe Asiatique has been totally stopped.

Borrowers will now have to go directly to Pag-Ibig to apply. They will be interviewed and asked to produce lots of documentary proof.

Many are complaining that there is too much red tape and that the processing is too slow, Berberabe said. But she would prefer to be accused of that than to have a repeat of the Globe Asiatique scam, she said.

* * *

Still another mistake is the post-audit of government expenses. The Commission on Audit looks at these expenses long after the money is gone. It has found that P5 billion in cash advances are still unliquidated.

This is a common abuse by government officials. They get cash advances, spend the money, and then don’t explain how they spent it. When asked to liquidate the funds, they claim that they have lost the receipts. The law says that when you don’t liquidate a cash advance, you have to return the money. But nobody does that.

The COA said many officials with unliquidated funds have retired, gone abroad, or died.

I think cash advances should be discouraged. And if it is absolutely necessary, the rules should be very strict. For one, there should be a deadline for liquidating cash advances. If the official fails to liquidate before the deadline, he should return the money or face the consequences.

And we should go back to pre-auditing.

* * *

I am being badgered by fans who ask when is the next show of Aliw awardee Margaux Salcedo at the Manila Hotel. Well, here it is: March 26, starting at 9 p.m. at the Tap Room.

Margaux, who has just returned from Singapore where she was a juror in selecting Asia’s Best Restaurants, has a radio program at dwIZ on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. The name of the program is “Home Cook,” and it is all about food, restaurants, cooking and recipes.

* * *

Mama Mia Abbamania is back in the Philippines. Enjoy Abba’s music live as played and sung by Europe’s top tribute band, Abbamania.

Catch the band at Solaire Resort and Casino on March 21, at Island Cove and Resort Hotel on March 28, and at Lagao gym in General Santos City on March 30. It will be two hours of nonstop Abba music live. The OB Montessori choir will perform with the band.

Joescoundrel
03-23-2014, 07:38 AM
Red leaders captured

CPP-NPA head among 7 nabbed in Cebu

By Connie E. Fernandez, Nikko Dizon

Inquirer Visayas, Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:13 am | Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Benito Tiamzon, the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), and six other members of the CPP central committee were arrested on Saturday in Carcar City, south of Cebu City.

One of those arrested was Wilma, Tiamzon’s wife, who is also a top-ranked central committee member and the CPP finance officer.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed the arrest of the Tiamzons Saturday night.

“Yes, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon have been arrested. This is an Army project,” Gazmin said.

“They are now undergoing tactical interrogation,” he added.

A high-ranking military source said Tiamzon’s arrest would be a “big blow to them [the communist rebels] as he is the chair of the CPP-NPA.”

Finding the Tiamzons was “a long operation,” he said.

All seven suspects were members of the CPP central committee, he said. The five others arrested were not identified.

They were riding in two vehicles, a Starex van and a Toyota Innova, when they were arrested at about 3:15 p.m. in Barangay Aloguinsan, Carcar City, sources said.

The operation was conducted by members of the Intelligence Security Group, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), the Philippine Army, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Carcar police.

The Tiamzons were served with arrest warrants for frustrated murder (criminal case 4702) and murder (criminal case number 4703) that have been pending before the Regional Trial Court Branch 31 in Laoang, Northern Samar.

The group was brought to the Armed Forces Central Command for tactical interrogation, the sources said.

They did not resist arrest, the source said.

Saturday was the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Army, which has been at the forefront of the war against the communist insurgency for more than 40 years.

All of the country’s high-ranking security officials, led by Gazmin and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, were in attendance at the anniversary celebrations held early Saturday at Fort Bonifacio.

In his speech, Army Chief Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri referred to the significant gains that the Army has made in internal security operations.

Little did everyone know—or it could be that top security officials were simply being tight-lipped—that the government would catch the two biggest fish of the communist insurgent movement.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III announced that the government would be landing another “big fish” following the arrest of fugitive housing developer Delfin Lee.

In August 2012, Mr. Aquino reiterated that the bounty for the capture of Tiamzon still stood at P5.6 million.

According to intelligence sources, Tiamzon and his wife Wilma are now the ones “in charge” in the communist hierarchy.

The couple has long been considered more influential than Jose Ma. Sison, the founder of the CPP and its political arm, the National Democratic Front, who lives in exile in the Netherlands.

Reports as of November 2012 described Tiamzon as the “top New People’s Army leader” while his wife Wilma was described as the “head of the CPP’s national finance commission.”

Tiamzon, along with another communist guerrilla leader Jorge Madlos, has a standing arrest warrant for alleged involvement in violent incidents, including attacks on civilian targets.

Sam Miguel
03-24-2014, 10:20 AM
Prospects for talks with Communists get dimmer

Gov’t rules out release of Tiamzons, 5 others

By Christian V. Esguerra, Nikko Dizon Delfin T. Mallari

Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:01 am | Monday, March 24th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The government on Sunday refused to release two top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma, who were arrested on Saturday, further dimming prospects of reviving peace talks with the largest rebel group in the country.

Tiamzon chairs the CPP and heads its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), while his wife serves as the party’s secretary general.

They were captured in Barangay (village) Zaragosa, Aloguinsan town, about 60 kilometers southwest of Cebu City, along with five others—Rex Villaflor, Nona Castillo, Joel Enano, Jeosi, Nepa and Arlene Panea—whom the military described as “staff personnel” of the Tiamzon couple.

Seized from the group were four pistols, two hand grenades and ammunition, as well as four laptops, 16 cellular phones and 20 flash drives.

Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Armed Forces chief of staff, hailed the arrest of the Tiamzons as “another victory for the combined efforts between the [military and the police] and other stakeholders in pursuit of peace and security.”

On Sunday, the Tiamzons were flown to Manila on a chartered plane, said a source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to talk to the media. They were taken to Camp Crame, national headquarters of the Philippine National Police.

‘Covered by immunity’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the CPP political arm, said those arrested were its consultants and were covered by immunity guarantees. The government rejected this claim.

Exiled CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison said, “It would be a pity if (President) Aquino is more interested in imprisoning a few NDFP consultants and prejudicing the peace negotiations by violating existing agreements like the Jasig (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees).”

Sison, an NDFP consultant based in the Netherlands along with leaders of the group, said that if the Aquino administration no longer respected the Jasig, signed and approved mutually by the NDFP and the government, “then Mr. Aquino becomes responsible for killing the peace negotiations.”

Open to resuming talks

Despite the arrests, the President’s peace adviser Teresita Deles said the government remained open to resuming peace talks with the communist rebels.

“The arrest of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon does not change our basic stance that peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA can proceed only with a clear and time-bound agenda that provide some possibility of bringing us closer to a final peace agreement,” Deles told the Inquirer in a text message.

“We continue to hope that the leadership of the CPP/NPA will come to the same conclusion sooner rather later,” she added.

The NDFP had been engaged in peace negotiations with the government for the past 27 years, but the on-and-off talks have not moved beyond minor agreements.

It demanded the “immediate” and “unconditional” release of the Tiamzon couple and the others, saying the arrests were a “flagrant violation” of the Jasig.

The arrest of the couple came a week before the 45th anniversary of the NPA on March 29. The rebels have been fighting since 1969, accusing successive Philippine administrations of subservience to US interests and failing to improve the lives of the poor.

Their numbers have dwindled to about 4,000 armed fighters from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s amid battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism, but the resilient guerrillas remain the country’s most serious security threat.

Mass grave

The Tiamzons were served arrest warrants for frustrated murder (criminal case 4702) and murder (criminal case number 4703) cases that have been pending in the Regional Trial Court Branch 31 in Laoang, Northern Samar.

They were charged with the murder of 15 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, who were buried in a mass grave that was discovered in 2006.

Tiamzon is the former head of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee when the purge of suspected government agents in the CPP-NPA allegedly took place, a military report said.

In a statement, Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP peace panel, said that along with “so many other gross violations of the Jasig,” the latest incident “most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.”

But Deles pinned the blame on the NDFP for the stalled peace talks.

“It will not be the first time for the NDFP to use the issue of arrests and prisoner release as an excuse to stall peace talks. The fact is the Tiamzons have not been participating in the talks,” she said. “The truth is it was the NDFP that caused the current impasse more than a year ago when they unilaterally changed the parameters of the special track, which we were pursuing on their initiative.”

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the problem was not with the government.

“Our government is ready [to resume peace negotiations], but they are the ones putting up obstacles so the peace talks won’t move forward,” he said at a press briefing, referring to the NDFP.

Jalandoni said the Tiamzons should not have been arrested because they had Jasig ptotection. He described them as “NDFP consultants who have fulfilled and are fulfilling highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations.”

Letters signed by Bello

The Tiamzons supposedly hold “letters of acknowledgment” signed by then government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III.

Under Jasig, signed in 1995 by representatives from the NDFP and the government, the members, consultants and staff of the NDFP who are part of the negotiating team are granted immunity from arrest, detention and are provided safety guarantees to prevent any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.

The letter states that the Tiamzons are “entitled to the safety and immunity guarantees” under Jasig “for the duration of the peace negotiations,” Jalandoni said. “You are hereby required to facilitate the safe conduct and free passage of the above named person.”

In a statement, Deles shot back, saying: “To sustain their claim to Jasig protection is ridiculous because that would mean they can wage war and violence against the government and when caught, claim Jasig protection and expect to be released.”

“It is even more outrageous considering that the peace negotiations have not moved for over a year now,” she added.

Deles maintained that there was no violation of the Jasig, citing the NDFP’s failure to follow a July 2011 procedure “to verify the true identities of several dozen alleged NDFP consultants on the list of Jasig-protected individuals carrying aliases.”

Alias Crising Banaag

Jalandoni said Benito Tiamzon held “NDFP Document of Identification ND 978227 under the assumed name ‘Crising Banaag.’” He said Wilma’s identification was “ND 978226 under her real name.”

Deles said that “through no fault of the government, the NDFP failed to open their own files that purportedly contained the photos and true identities of the said NDFP consultants.”

“This failure had the effect of rendering the Jasig inoperative for those using aliases and those who are not directly involved in the peace process,” she said.

“If indeed Benito Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the Jasig.”

Deles said: “The CPP/NPA is well aware of the effects of the failed verification. But they only have themselves to blame for rendering the Jasig inoperative for most of their alleged consultants.”

A list of 75 rebel consultants supposedly with pictures was jointly deposited by the Philippine government, the rebels and Church witnesses in a Dutch vault in 1996 so it could serve as a future basis for identifying guerrilla consultants who could be immune from arrests.

Damaged diskettes

Philippine officials and the rebels, however, discovered in 2011 that two diskettes containing the list had been damaged with the passage of time and its details could no longer be retrieved. It made it impossible for the government to verify rebel claims that some of their captured comrades were on the roster of guerrillas with immunity.

The government’s refusal to release those rebels led to the collapse of peace talks brokered by Norway.

Following the arrest of top CPP officials, the government is gearing up for possible retaliatory attacks.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Saturday night that the military was expecting retaliation from the communist rebels for their leaders’ arrest but that the AFP “will prepare for that.”

Sison said the arrests would not cripple the revolutionary movement because the roots of the armed revolution remained.

The Maoist rebellion has claimed some 30,000 lives, according to the military.—With reports from Marlon Ramos, Inquirer Visayas and AP

Sam Miguel
03-24-2014, 10:23 AM
With Tiamzon’s arrest, it’s time for NPA to surrender—AFP

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:50 pm | Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — It took the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) more than 20 years to catch the slippery Benito Tiamzon, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

And finally, with the fall of Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma Austria, in government hands on Saturday night, the AFP believes that it dealt a huge leadership vacuum in the decades old communist insurgency.

The Tiamzons were arrested exactly a week before the NPA’s 45th anniversary on March 29. Austria is the CPP-NPA secretary general.

“We hope that they realize that, their primary leader, their advocate for armed struggle Benito Tiamzon has been arrested already and I hope the rest of the leadership of the CPP-NPA will now come to grips with reality. They should see the writing on the wall, the desire of the Filipino people, the collective will of the Filipino people… that we have been longing for peace,” AFP chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista said at a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo on Sunday.

Bautista described Tiamzon, who turned 63 on March 20, as the one who “directs the armed struggle all over the country, who directs all the land mining, the killings, the violence perpetrated by the New People’s Army.”

Bautista said the military’s internal peace and security plan “Bayanihan” would continue to be implemented nationwide after the Tiamzons’ arrest.

The military chief urged the rest of the communist rebels to give up their armed struggle, calling it a “Jurassic methodology, it’s barbaric, it has no place in this modern world.”

Asked if the military would be on red alert after the arrest of the Tiamzons for possible retaliatory attacks, Bautista said the AFP has always been ready against the communist rebels.

“We are always on red alert. We are always prepared to address any security issues,” Bautista said.

A military assessment report furnished to the Philippine Daily Inquirer described Tiamzon “as the true center of gravity behind the CPP-NPA” and not CPP founding chair Jose Ma. Sison.

“There exists a widely reported disagreement between Jose Ma. Sison and Benito Tiamzon particularly on issues pertaining to peace talks and with regards to strategy and tactics of the NPA. Tiamzon reportedly does not seriously consider the directives coming from Sison and usually acts on his own with the CPP and NPA at his ready disposal. This solidifies his status as the true center of gravity behind the CPP-NPA and not Sison. With the capture of Benito Tiamzon and his wife, the NPA will suffer a leadership vacuum that will eventually spell doom for their organization,” the military report said.

The chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), who said that it would take the CPP-NPA some six months to find a replacement for Tiamzon, confirmed this.

“With the arrest of the Tiamzon couple, it would take a plenum before they can be replaced. The CPP practices collective leadership. They would have to summon all members from all over the country and hold an election on who would be the next chairman,” Major General Eduardo Ano, ISAFP chief, told reporters after Bautista’s press conference.

Ano said without Tiamzon, the CPP-NPA would have “lack of direction” on the ground.

“Unlike before when he would send only one email to give instructions to all regions. Now, no one can do that. They are disorganized. They have to wait until the plenum. Now, even Joma and the others would have to meet. It would take a while,” Ano said.

Bautista began his press by greeting the media a “Happy Sunday.” It likely stands for how he felt with the fall of the head of the CPP-NPA.

But Bautista did not want to take credit for the huge military score, saying it was a continuing effort of the AFP, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and other government agencies.

“There is no singular person that is directly responsible for that. It’s not necessarily [important] that it happened during my watch. It’s a continuing activity and it’s a collective effort of all members of the Armed Forces past and present,” Bautista said.

Indeed, among them was Ano who was an Army captain when he first took part in tracking down the Tiamzons.

Today, he is a two-star general who was among the military and police commanders who oversaw operations against the couple.

Ano told the Inquirer that the Tiamzons and their five other companions did not resist arrest because “as leaders, they have to remain alive.”

“They knew all these years that they are being tracked down. And last Saturday, to them was the ‘This is it’ moment. They were resigned to the fact that they were being arrested. They didn’t resist. They didn’t even object,” Ano said.

Bautista declined to give the details of the arrest, saying “it might compromise our operational techniques, our assets.”

Ano would only go so far as saying that the moment the operatives knew that the people they were tracking in a vehicle were the Tiamzons, “a quick checkpoint was set up.”

The hunt for the Tiamzons through the years covered practically numerous parts of the country.

“They transferred from one safe house to another. When they would sense they are being tracked in an area, they would leave. They were last in Eastern Visayas before they went to Cebu,” he said.

The last time government security forces nearly caught the Tiamzons was nearly three years ago in the Mt. Province, Ano said.

Ano said Austria, 61, had escaped from police custody in 1989 and from a church group in 1994.

Arrested with the Tiamzons were Rex Villaflor, Nona Castillo, Joel Enano, Jeosi, Nepa, and Arlene Panea. They were described as “staff personnel” of the Tiamzon couple.

Seized from the group were four pistols, two hand grenades and several ammunition, as well as four laptop computers, 16 cellular phones, and 20 flash drives.

The Tiamzons were charged for the multiple murder of 15 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte buried in a mass grave that was discovered in 2006.

Benito Tiamzon was then the secretary of the Eastern Visayas Regional Committee when the purging allegedly took place, a military report said.

According to the military, both Benito and Wilma were graduates of the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The couple has a daughter.

The military said the Maoist rebellion waged by the CPP has claimed some 30,000 lives.

The military claims that the NPA strength is down to some 4,000 guerillas from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s.

Hours after the arrest of the Tiamzons, Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel for the stalled peace talks with the government, demanded for their release.

“The NDFP vigorously demands that Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Jalandoni, who also condemned the arrest.

“Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria are NDFP consultants who have fulfilled and are fulfilling highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations between the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” Jalandoni said in a statement released through lawyer Edre Olalia.

According to Jalandoni, Wilma Austria is a holder of the NDFP Document of Identification ND 978226 under her real name while Benito Tiamzon holds the NDFP Document of Identification ND 978227 under the assumed named “Crising Banaag.”

Both hold a letter of acknowledgement from then GRP negotiating panel chairman Silvestre Bello III.

“This latest flagrant violation of the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) by the Aquino regime, in addition to so many other gross violations of the JASIG, most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations,” Jalandoni said.

But the GPH peace panel countered that there was no violation of the JASIG in the arrest of the Tiamzons.

“The CPP/NPA is well aware of the effects of the failed verification. But they only have themselves to blame for rendering the JASIG inoperative for most of their alleged consultants,” the peace panel said in a statement.

The peace panel said the NDF and the GPH agreed to verify the true identities of several dozen supposed NDF consultants in the list of JASIG- protected individual carrying aliases through a procedure in July 2011.

“But through no fault of government, the NDF failed to open their own files that purportedly contained the photos and true identities of the said NDF consultants. This failure had the effect of rendering the JASIG inoperative for those using aliases and those who are not directly involved in the peace process. If indeed Benito Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the JASIG,” the panel said.

It added that Wilma Austria Tiamzon jumped bail when she escaped from detention on December 26, 1989, “when there were no peace talks, and six years before the JASIG came into effect. This makes her ineligible for JASIG protection, even assuming she was identified in the JASIG list by her real name.”

“To sustain their claim to JASIG protection is ridiculous because that would mean they can wage war and violence against government and when caught, claim JASIG protection and expect to be released. It is even more outrageous considering that the peace negotiations have not moved for over a year now. And while we continue to be open to the resumption of the talks, last December, the CPP called for the overthrow of the Aquino government, saying they will just wait for a new administration before they go back to the table,” the panel said.

Sam Miguel
03-24-2014, 10:24 AM
What Went Before: Tiamzons were ‘in charge’

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:56 am | Monday, March 24th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma Austria, both members of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Central Committee, were the ones “in charge,” according to government intelligence sources before their arrests on Saturday.

Reports as of November 2012 described Tiamzon as the “top New People’s Army (NPA) leader” while Wilma was described as “head of the CPP National Finance Commission.”

In March 2002, a faction led by Tiamzon opposed peace talks with the government. Then Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jose Mabanta said Tiamzon had questioned some political decisions that the Central Committee had taken, particularly on efforts to open peace talks with the Arroyo administration.

Tiamzon was reportedly concerned “that this compromise could defeat the teachings that the party has propagated through the years and destroy the legitimacy of armed struggle if some members of the party will subscribe to the hope for change apart from revolution.”

According to the military, Tiamzon also questioned exiled CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s decision to raise the number of Central Committee members from 15 to 30, a move that could tilt power in the party in Sison’s favor.

Sison’s faction, which has been holding talks with the government, questioned the reportedly luxurious lifestyle of Tiamzon and his wife and had assigned a party man to audit the NPA’s finances, according to the military.

Tiamzon, along with fellow communist guerrilla leader Jorge Madlos, has a standing arrest warrant for alleged involvement in violent incidents, including attacks on civilian targets.

In August 2012, President Aquino reiterated that the P5.6-million bounty for the capture of Tiamzon still stood.

A 2007 release by the Philippine Information Agency described Tiamzon as a sociology graduate from the University of the Philippines.

Austria was first arrested on Oct. 4, 1989, in San Juan City. But she escaped from prison on Christmas Day of the same year by losing herself in a crowd of visitors leaving Camp Crame in Quezon City.

She was arrested again on May 4, 1994, in Malolos, Bulacan. Twelve days later, then President Fidel Ramos ordered the release of Wilma “in a gesture of peace and national reconciliation.”

Ramos gave the directive after a surprise visit to the Philippine Heart Center where Wilma was confined for hypertension and asthma.

A December 1989 Inquirer report said Wilma hailed from San Pedro, Laguna, and was a BS Statistics student at UP when she joined the underground movement, according to a military dossier.—Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
04-01-2014, 11:00 AM
PNPA grads vs PMA grads

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:59 am | Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The “fried chickens” have had enough of the “crispy patas” in the police service.

Graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) are closing ranks to protest what they describe as the “inequitable” promotion among them and graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in the 148,000-strong police force.

Rosendo Dial, PNPA Alumni Association Inc. chair, said Monday the group’s board of directors had approved a resolution seeking the help of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in reviewing the current system of appointment of senior police officers to major positions in the Philippine National Police.

Roxas is an adopted member of PMA Class 1984.

Dial, the former