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Aklan mayor dismissed by Ombudsman wins in 2019 polls

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Mayor Ciceron Cawaling | Courtesy : Team Cawaling-Bautista

The former mayor of Malay, Aklan, Ciceron Cawaling, who was dismissed from office by the Ombudsman, was proclaimed the winner of the mayoral race.

Cawaling garnered 16,277 votes beating his rivals, former mayor John Yap who got 12,620, and Rodgiet Ranara who gained 1,200 votes.

The Office of the Ombudsman on April 2019 ordered the dismissal from office of Cawaling after he was found guilty of gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a public official, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. This is in relation to the environmental problems in Boracay island.

The Ombudsman also ordered the forfeiture of his retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Cawaling has repeatedly denied the charges. His candidacy was not canceled because the Ombudsman order can still be appealed. (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

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DILG to pursue raps against winning narco-politicians

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2019

Campaign posters and flyers are left scattered after people voted for their candidates during the election on May 13, 2013 at the Tabuk Central School, Tabuk City, Kalinga. The same scenario is seen on other precincts, posters and flyers are seen scattered on entrances of precincts. (Gaye Fritz Ofilas/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – The government will pursue the administrative charges filed against the politicians named on the narco-list who won in the 2019 midterm elections, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Friday.

“Kahit na pinalad silang manalo, tuloy pa rin ang administrative cases laban sa kanila. Hindi pa rin sila makakalusot kung sila ay mapapatunayang sangkot talaga sa iligal na droga,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a press statement.

Año said that the government still considers as victory the defeat of some narco-politicians in the recent polls.

“The purpose of President Duterte in releasing the names was to inform the public of the local officials who are linked to the drug trade. The fact that some of them lost is already a substantial victory for us because if we didn’t release the names, more, if not all, could have won the election,” he said.

The DILG in March filed administrative charges against 46 suspected narco-politicians. Of this number, 37 ran for public office and 26 won a fresh term despite the release of the narco-list two months prior to the polls.

Among them were two congressmen, one vice-governor, 18 mayors, three vice-mayors, one councilor and one board member. These suspected narco-politicians were from Calabarzon, BARMM, Eastern Visayas, Ilocos Region, Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas, Central Luzon, Zamboanga Peninsula, SOCCKSARGEN, and Caraga.

Año said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will file the criminal cases against the said politicians linked to narcotics trade.

He added that the DILG is in close coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP), PDEA, and other national government agencies tasked in the illegal drugs war for the continued pursuit of all cases against the winning narco-politicians.

Año said there is a possibility that drug money was used during the election campaign.

“It’s not impossible that drug money was used in the campaign so that could have been a factor in their victory considering the prevalence of vote buying in the last election,” he said.

He further stated that the DILG is in close coordination with the National Police Commission for the removal of police deputation powers of the winning narco-politicians ahead of their official assumption to office on June 30.

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Bong Go vows independence as senator, but…

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go | Courtesy : PVI-PRESS by Rodel Lumiares

MANILA, Philippines – Former presidential special assistant Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday vowed independence from Malacañang when he formally assumes his post as one of the country’s newly-elected senators.

Go, who ranked third in the senatorial race, was not accompanied by his family when he attended the proclamation of 2019 Midterm election winners held by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Wednesday morning.

READ: Winning Senators of 2019 polls thank voters, bare legislation plans

Go arrived at the PICC with some of his staff members and Malacañang officials.

When asked why he was not accompanied by his family at his proclamation, Go said they were not able to make it because the event was on short notice.

Although Go often spends time with President Rodrigo Duterte, his wife and children are rarely seen in public.

Prior to running for senator, Go had served as Duterte’s closest aide for more than 20 years since he was mayor of Davao City.

The President even went with Go when the latter filed his candidacy in October 2018.

Despite his close association with Duterte, the newly-elected senator vowed independence and will not just be a rubber stamp of the Chief Executive.

However, he was quick to add that he will remain supportive of Duterte’s legislative agenda.

“Of course, magiging independent po ako,” he said.

“Subalit susuportahan ko po ang mga legislative agenda ni Pangulong Duterte dahil alam ko po ginagawa niya lang po ang tama,” he added.

When he formally assumes his role in the upcoming 18th Congress, Go said, he will support the proposed reimposition of the death penalty on heinous crimes and high-level drug trafficking.

If given an opportunity, Go said he would like to head the Senate committee on education and health.

He will also work on the passage of the proposed shift to federalism, and expressed willingness to be a conduit to promote stronger ties between the Senate and the Executive branch.

“Kung papaano po natin mapapaganda at maisasaayos ang koordinasyon between the Senate and the Malacañang ay handa po akong maging tulay,” he said.

Go has been media’s go-to man about President Duterte’s whereabouts when he is not attending public engagements.

But even if he is now a duly elected senator of the republic, Go said his personal relationship with the president will remain unchanged.

“Bilang taga-Davao, bilang ako po ay kaibigan ni Pangulong Duterte, for the past 21 years nagtatrabaho po ako sa kaniya, pangako ko po yun kay Pangulong Duterte habang buhay ko po siyang sasamahan,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Opposition supporters question Comelec over alleged anomalies

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

Members of Tindig Pilipinas and the Silent Majority protesting the technical glitches that were encountered during the May 13, 2019 polls Courtesy : FB page of Now You Know

MANILA, Philippines – Supporters of the opposition group on Friday questioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on alleged anomalies in the May 13 midterm elections.

Members of Tindig Pilipinas and the Silent Majority gathered in front of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City where the Comelec is canvassing votes for the senatorial and party-list elections.

The groups were protesting the technical glitches that were encountered during the polls, such as defective secure digital (SD) cards and vote-counting machines (VCM), as well as the seven-hour delay in transmitting data from Comelec’s transparency server.

Members of said cause-oriented groups, who were chanting “what happened to the midterm elections, Comelec?” repeatedly during their picket, were also demanding the poll body to explain the alleged irregularities that cast doubts on the credibility of the midterm polls.

They also sought to question the poll body for its alleged mishandling and inaction of supposed anomalies observed, including the designation of Nacionalista Party as the minority party, the disenfranchisement of voters, and the “blatant commission” of pre-campaign and campaign violations of some candidates such as electioneering and vote-buying.

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