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DOJ joins hunt for personalities behind “real narco list” videos

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined the hunt for alias Bikoy and the other personalities behind the “Totoong Narco List” [real narco list] videos.

The said videos implicated Presidential son Paolo Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña, and former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, in illegal drug trade.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra had also ordered the department’s fact-finding team to conduct an investigation on the identity of the people behind the series of videos and to file possible criminal cases against them.

Guevarra said, “I have given instructions to the DOJ Office of Cybercrime to coordinate with the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) cybercrime unit and find out the source of these videos.”

The justice secretary further stated that the criminal charges will depend on the acts committed, such as cyber libel or similar offense.

Aside from the DOJ-initiated investigation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is also conducting a separate probe on the said videos. – Maris Federez

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Names that stand out in House speakership race of the 18th Congress

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: House of Representatives (UNTV News)

The names of Lord Allan Velasco, Martin Romualdez, Alan Peter Cayetano and Pantaleon Alvarez have been floating to be the next leader in the House of Representatives (HOR).

Both Romualdez and Velasco were endorsed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in the campaign rallies of Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

President Rodrigo Duterte, on the other hand, purportedly wants Cayetano to hold the reigns in the House.

And Alvarez, the first choice of the President to lead the last Congress, is making a return.

But now that former Senator Loren Legarda and Presidential son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte had been proclaimed winners in their districts, the list of possible Speaker of the House has gotten longer.

According to PDP-Laban campaign manager, Senator Manny Pacquiao, they will still wait until the proclamation of all the winners in the midterm elections has been completed before they set a meeting with the party to select the next House Speaker and Senate President.

“We still have to deliberate on that, but we need to finish the proclamation first before we discuss the talks for Senate President. It will be an internal discussion,” said Pacquiao.

So far, Mayor Duterte who sits as the Hugpong ng Pagbabago Regional Party head is yet to announce her chosen one.

In one of her earlier statements, Sara said that she will support anyone as long as that person supports her father.

“So walay choice of one but ang ginatan-aw namu kung kinsa and supporter ni President Duterte [there is no choice of one but what we are looking for is who among them supports President Duterte] because we need the House of Representatives to move towards the direction of the President,” the mayor added.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Liberal Party secretary general Congressman Kit Belmonte said that dictatorship is expected to remain in the lower chamber especially now that there is only 18 of them who made it in the elections.Our last count is 18 representatives so far – not much different from our numbers in the current Congress. Which means you can expect the same tyranny from the supermajority,” Belmonte said.

The newly elected members of the House of Representatives will begin their term on June 30. (with reports from Grace Casin) /mbmf

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Malacañang expects Go, Bato, Tolentino to be independent as senators

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

(L-R) Former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday (May 16) said it expects incoming senators, particularly those who are close allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, to be independent when it comes to issues involving national interest.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement following concerns that the check and balances in government may be affected as administration-backed Senate bets look set to join the upper chamber of Congress.

Partial and unofficial count from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that nine Senate bets endorsed by Duterte are in the top 12.

These are reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, reelectionist senators Sonny Angara and Koko Pimentel, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and former Senator Bong Revilla.

Three of them – Go, Dela Rosa and Tolentino – are known close allies of Duterte.

Panelo, however, believes that the three will do their job well and always put first the best interest of the nation.

 “It’s just happened that they are very close to the president but that doesn’t mean they will be subservient,” he said.

“Whether or not Senate or Congress is dominated by the allies of whoever is incumbent, we expect them to pass economic reforms that will be beneficial to the Filipino people. The issue on whether you are an ally or not should not be discussed,” he added.

Panelo stressed that the mandate of the Congress is to pass laws that will be beneficial for the people.

“It’s about time to eradicate the discussion on parties’ consideration. That is where we fail,” he said.

Aside from Duterte’s allies, other senatorial candidates who are in the winners’ circle based on partial tally are reelectionist senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, and former senator Lito Lapid. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Over P12M seized from vote buying – PNP

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted that vote buying was rampant in the recently concluded midterm polls.

As proof, authorities were able to seize more than P12 million from a total of 449 violators over the course of the election.

“Lahat ng nakumpiskang pera ay magsisilbing ebidensya laban sa mga na-apprehend natin na violators,” said PNP Spokesperson Police Col. Bernard Banac.

(All cash confiscated will serve as evidence against the apprehended violators.)

The highest amount seized was in Caraga region amounting to almost P8 million.

Other areas with the most number of vote buying incidents were Northern Mindanao with more than P1 million seized followed by Cagayan Valley (P561,000); Metro Manila (P541,100); and Bicol Region (P449,080).

From the 449 violators, a total of 356 were arrested, 85 persons evaded arrest while eight minors were rescued.

Most of the violators were from Metro Manila, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); and from Regions 4a and 6.

“Wala pa tayong na-apprehend ngayon na nakakulong na sa vote buying dahil ang mga suspects at violators ay na-release for further investigation,” Banac said.

(None of those apprehended for vote buying were detailed because the suspects or violators were later released for further investigation.)

Appropriate charges were filed against the suspects for violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

If proven guilty, they will serve one up to six years jail term and in case of election candidates, they will be disqualified from holding public office.

The PNP is also looking into the possibility of using drug money in vote buying. – (with details from Lea Ylagan) Marje Pelayo

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