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Congress to probe poll glitches on June 4

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of Representatives are planning to hold an inquiry on the technical glitches and other issues that marred the 2019 midterm elections.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, said on Wednesday that the joint congressional committee on the automated election system agreed to conduct the hearing on June 4.

Several officials from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be summoned to explain the problems encountered on election day.

He said Comelec should reexamine the diagnostic tests they used to clear vote-counting machines (VCM) after some of the units encountered glitches during the May 13 polls.

The Comelec earlier said that more than 900 of the 85,000 VCMs were pulled out from several voting precincts nationwide after encountering hiccups on election day.

The poll body blamed this on faulty secure digital (SD) cards provided by their supplier. Around 1,665 of the 85,769 SD cards used in the midterm polls were defective.

The said figures are higher than the 120 SD cards and 801 VCMs replaced in 2016 polls.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon earlier said that she will propose to the Comelec en banc to withhold the payment for the SD card supplier.

READ: Comelec Exec says supplier of ‘faulty’ SD cards shouldn’t be paid in full

Senator Panfilo Lacson supported the planned hearing to clear the technical issues, which could cast doubt on the results of the elections.

Lacson added that aside from the procurement of low-quality memory cards, he also wants to Comelec to explain about the delays in transmission related to their transparency server.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also echoed his colleagues’ sentiments.

He said there is a need to look into the issues that marred the 2019 polls to preserve the integrity and credibility of the automated elections, and avoid repeating them in the succeeding elections.

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Lacson: ‘Bikoy’ was backed by cops in 2016

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson (left), “Bikoy” (upper right), Peter Joemel Advincula (lower right)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed on Thursday that Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who claimed to be ‘Bikoy’ in the controversial video series, was supported by a number of Philippine National Police (PNP) officials in 2016 when he first linked some former officials of the Aquino administration to the narcotics trade.

Lacson said this during a Senate press briefing following the revelation of Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Advincula’s allegedly recycled drug allegations.

READ: Sotto reveals similarities in Bikoy’s claims in 2016, 2019

Sotto said on Wednesday that Advincula reached out to his office in 2016 to give information against former President Benigno Aquino III and his then cabinet members.

According to the Senate president, several names mentioned in Advincula’s statement in 2016 were also mentioned in his allegations against the Duterte family this year.

Lacson, being a former PNP Chief himself, said he personally know some of these ranking police officials although he declined to divulge their identities.

“Ang inisyal na iniisip ko is to talk to those people, because some of them I know personally,” he said, adding that it was unfortunate that some of them were from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

“Maliit na grupo lang ito, siguro mga 5 or 6 police officers,” he said when asked by reporters on how many were the group’s members.

The senator, however, clarified that he was not sure whether Advincula was still backed by the said cops.

Lacson, the chairman of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, earlier invited Advincula to a Senate hearing on Friday (May 10) to probe his claims against the Duterte family and close allies.

But he later cancelled the hearing after Sotto’s presentation on Advincula’s claims and the refusal of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to his request for legal assistance.

READ: Lacson cancels Senate probe on ‘Bikoy’ narco videos

Sotto earlier revealed that Advincula first made contact with his political staff Hutch Altavas in December 2016, with the latter promising dirt on Aquino and some of his erstwhile cabinet officials.

He even submitted an affidavit with a request for financial assistance and protection for his family.

“’Yung una, maisalang siya as Senate witness. Pangalawa, makalaya siya,” Altavas said when asked about Advincula’s requests in exchange for the information.

Altavas added that they last communicated with Advincula in April 2017.

“He communicated siguro nakalabas na siya [sa kulungan] that was the last time April 17, 2017,” he said.

Sotto had decided to drop Advincula’s claims in 2016 when information and documents he provided did not add up during their validation process.

“Obviously, imbento kasi sabi nga si Senate President, na-check niya sa HSBC, non-existent ang account,” Lacson said referring to Sotto’s move to vet Advincula’s drug allegations against the Aquino administration in 2016. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Senate to probe ‘Bikoy’ claims this week

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel is set to conduct a hearing this week to probe the allegations of Peter Joemel Advincula, who is claiming to be ‘Bikoy’ in the video series entitled “Ang Totoong Narco list,” which linked some members of the Duterte family and their allies to the narcotics trade.

Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chairman Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Tuesday said in a text message the hearing will take place on Friday, May 10 at 9:30 a.m.

He added that the formal invitation to Advincula will be sent out through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) since it was the last place where he was seen.

“The committee is sending out today a formal invitation letter to Advincula thru the IBP since it was the last known link to him and they may have knowledge of how to relay the invitation to him,” Lacson said.

Advincula on Monday surfaced at the IBP to seek legal assistance to file charges against presidential son Paolo Duterte, former Special Assistant to the President and Senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, and Lawyer Manases Carpio, the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

He also cited threats against his life as one of his reasons for surfacing.

READ: Man claiming to be Bikoy asks help from IBP

The senator also wrote on his Twitter account that his panel will be looking into the issue surrounding the “Ang Totoong Narco list” since it has become a political issue.

However, Lacson said Advincula must personally present a sworn statement and evidence to back his claims in order for the hearing to push through.

“Like it or not, Bikoy has become a political, if not an election issue. The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs can schedule a hearing this week on one condition: Bikoy must personally present a sworn statement and his evidence to support his accusations,” he said.

Lacson said the scheduled hearing on Friday will proceed if ‘Bikoy’ accepts their invitation and presents his sworn statement.

“It will push through once Bikoy confirms his attendance with a sworn statement ready. In the meantime, we are doing some background investigation and record check on him,” he said.

READ: NBI to summon man claiming to be ‘Bikoy’

READ: PNP to probe ‘Bikoy’ narco videos

The Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation earlier said a probe has been launched on the people behind the Bikoy’ narco videos and are now validating if Advincula is the same hooded figure in the clips. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Makabayan bloc wants probe on death of 14 in Negros Oriental

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Members of the Makabayan bloc files House Resolution 2533 on April 3, 2019 that calls on CHR to probe the killing of 14 farmers during a police operation in Negros Oriental on March 30, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Makabayan Bloc wants the House of Representatives to probe the killing of 14 farmers during a police operation in Negros Oriental on Saturday (March 30).

READ: PNP Chief relieves Negros Oriental top cops over farmers’ killing

The bloc has filed House Resolution 2533 on Wednesday (April 3) which calls on the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate on the killings.

“The killings in Negros Oriental are crimes against humanity, targeted assassinations of leaders and members of local peasant organizations perpetrated by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the guise of anti-criminality operations,” according to their statement.

Anakpawis party-list Representative Ariel Casilao said that he doesn’t believe that the slain individuals fought back.

“Our initial collation of data and testimonies from the survivors and the family of the victims point that there was a summary execution—a summary execution style,” Casilao said.

Based on the report, the chairperson of Hukom or Hugpong Kusog Mag-uuma sa Canlaon and two barangay chairman in Manjuyod were among the individuals killed.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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