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

Maris Federez   •   April 23, 2019   •   16872

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

Former PH envoy to Brazil back in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   November 3, 2020

Former Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro has returned to the country, several days after she was reported to have been caught on video mistreating her service staff inside the diplomat residence in the South American country.

In a statement on Tuesday, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go confirmed that Mauro arrived in the country late Monday night after receiving information from the DFA.

Mauro was ordered to return to Manila to face an investigation into her alleged acts of abuse after CCTV videos of her berating and maltreating her household helper were shown by a Brazilian media in October.

The Filipina helper has already returned to the country last week.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said a team has been formed to investigate Mauro and the circumstances surrounding the issue.

“The DFA is expected to have an impartial investigation, relying on facts and not influenced by public statements for or against the Ambassador,” Go said.

Mauro has yet to issue a statement.

Duterte OKs probe on PH envoy accused of mistreating staff

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to proceed with the investigation into a Philippine envoy’s alleged maltreatment of her service staff in Brazil, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Thursday.

“In light of the gravity of the allegations against the ambassador, the President has given the green light to proceed with the investigation of the official concerned, as recommended by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” Go said in a statement.

The DFA earlier said it needed the approval of the president to conduct a probe against Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro who was caught on CCTV maltreating her unidentified Filipina household service staff on several occasions.

Section 51 of the Foreign Service Act states that “Chiefs of Mission who are commissioned by the President as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary shall not be investigated by the Board [of Foreign Service Administration] or separated from the service unless there is an express written directive from the President.”

“The President has always been firm – the protection and promotion of the rights, welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas is a paramount responsibility of our government,” Go said.

“Our ambassadors are duty-bound to carry out this mandate, no questions asked,” he added.

Go further stated that the “impartial investigation will be carried out consistent with relevant provisions of the law, particularly the Foreign Service Act of 1991.”

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said a team has been formed to investigate Mauro and the circumstances surrounding the issue.

Mauro has been ordered to return home to face the investigation.

She has yet to issue a statement regarding the allegations.

Duterte son clarifies rumors of him initiating an ouster plot against House speakership

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2020

Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — Rumors of a possible ouster in the House leadership have been circulating over the weekend following last week’s deliberation on the proposed budget for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves during the House hearing questioned the amount his district would be getting for next year and asked for clarification on how funds are distributed among local government units.

Chismis lang naman ito, gusto ko lang sanang ma-confirm kung totoo ba na ang (This is only a rumor, but I want to confirm if it’s true that]) Taguig City is getting more than P8 billion and ang Camsur is getting P11.8 billion? ” he said during the hearing on Wednesday (September 17).

Ang distrito ko ang natanggap wala pang P2 billion and Number 8 ako in absorptive capacity sa buong bansa. Dapat iyon iyong binibigyan ng malaking budget (My district received less than P2 billion and I am number 8 in absorptive capacity in the country. That should deserve a higher budget),” he added.

According to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, it depends on the order of priority among government projects or if a certain project has foreign fundings. 

“The basis is not necessarily absorptive capacity. It also includes the pipeline projects. There are certain foreign-funded projects that are present in a certain district so it might seem that there is a larger budget,” Villar said.

Aside from Teves, several other members of the House expressed similar grievances over the fund allocations for their respective districts which was confirmed by Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte.

“Over the past days, quite a number of lawmakers have called me as they expressed their disappointment and consternation over the fate of their respective allocations and budgets from the hands of the current House leadership,” he said in a statement on Sunday (September 21).

But the presidential son was quick to clarify reports of him supposedly initiating an ouster of the House Speaker and the Deputy Speakers because of what he said. 

“Although I am an ex officio member being a deputy speaker, I have respectfully and clearly told them that their concern is something that I would rather stay away from — out of delicadeza because my father is the president,” he said. 

“Respectfully, I told them that I did not want to get involved,” he added.

Congressman Duterte admitted that he sent a text message to one of his colleagues but that message, he said, was given a different meaning. 

“The text message that I sent to another lawmaker — and is now making the rounds — was an expression of my personal dismay upon hearing the concerns of my fellow lawmakers. It was the same message that I sent after one congressman from the Visayas bloc dragged my name into the issue even after I have already strongly made myself clear over this issue,” he said.

The lawmaker said that although he is willing to help his fellow lawmakers find answers to their questions or remedies regarding their budget, he doesn’t want to get involved in matters concerning House leadership decisions.

His concern, he said, is the impact of these rumors on the legislature.

“I leave this issue to the members of Congress as I believe that it is within their rights as elected officials to come up with a favorable solution to an issue that could badly impact the development of their districts and their people,” he said.

“The members of Congress have the power to correct everything that they perceive as wrong happening within the Lower House or change leadership as they demand fair treatment and reforms,” he added.

Based on the term-sharing agreed upon before the President last year, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has 15 months or up to November this year to run the institution.

After which, he is expected to be succeeded by Marinduque Representative Allan Jay Velasco. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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