DOJ: Trillanes amnesty void from the beginning

Marje Pelayo   •   September 4, 2018   •   7084

(File photo) Senator Antonio Trillanes


MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified on Tuesday (September 4) that the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was null and void from the beginning.

“It is actually nullified or declared void ab initio…as if it never existed, never been valid for non-compliance with certain mandatory requirements,” Guevarra said in a press conference amid the chaos after the issue was published on a newspaper of general publication on Tuesday.

Guevarra explained that under Proclamation No. 75 or the General Proclamation of Amnesty issued by the Aquino administration in 2011, a person accused of rebellion like Trillanes should submit under oath an official application for amnesty. Also, there should be an admission of guilt to qualify for such which, the DOJ claimed, Trillanes failed to accomplish.

Following the turn of events, the DOJ is now drafting a formal request to the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 to issue an alias warrant of arrest for the senator.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose Calida denies hand on the matter contrary to the accusations of Trillanes that he masterminded his arrest.

“I don’t know about that. He’s not the judge. He’s not a prosecutor so if he wants to file cases, let him file a case,” Calida said.

Trillanes believes that the sudden move of voiding the amnesty granted to him has something to do with the Senate inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the government contracts won by Calida’s family-owned security firm which he (Trillanes) led also on Tuesday. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

DOJ: Maguindanao massacre verdict out by November

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Journalism students of Bulacan State University light candles in commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre in front of Bulacan Capitol, Malolos City, Bulacan. Photo taken November 21, 2013. | PVI/Junnel Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) expects judgement to be rendered on the accused in the killing of 58 individuals in the gruesome massacre that happened in Maguindanao in November 2009.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the 10-year trial on the case was finally completed on July 17, 2019.

“The parties were given until 15 August 2019 to submit simultaneously their respective memorandum or written summation,” Guevarra said in a statement.

“After which the case shall be considered as submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda of the parties,” he added.

The DOJ then expects that a judgment will be rendered before the massacre’s 10th anniversary November 23, 2019.

“And that justice will finally be served,” the Justice Secretary said.

The judgement in November is expected to end the long wait for justice for the families of the victims of the gruesome crime.

Fifty people were killed in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, including 32 journalists, four of them from UNTV. 

Some brutally shot, others buried alive in pits, while several bodies were left lying nearby in the massacre known as the single deadliest event for journalists in history. – MNP (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Malacañang supports SOJ on rights of impeachment proponents

Marje Pelayo   •   July 2, 2019

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang expressed support for Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra saying impeachment proponents cannot be arrested.

The Palace maintained that anybody has the right to file an impeachment complaint against the President.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about ordering the arrest of impeachment proponents was only an expression of disgust against critics of the government’s position on the West Philippine Sea issue.

Panelo also clarified that filing an impeachment complaint is not unconstitutional.

“Ibig sabihin kung may violation kayo pero yung mere filing is not. Hindi naman yun ang gustong sabihin ni presidente. Sabi  ni Presidente, “kung mayroon kayong violation, (What he meant was when you have violations but the mere filing is not. That is not what the President meant. He said, “if you have violations,)” Panelo said. – with reports from Rosalie Coz

Envoy rebuked for ‘reward’ remarks of Duterte’s Japan trip – SOJ Guevarra

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2019

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V | Courtesy: PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Wednesday (May 29) that Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V was admonished for his claims that the Japan trip was President Rodrigo Duterte’s post-election reward to his Cabinet members.

Guevarra has been assigned officer-in-charge of the Executive Department while the President is on an official visit to Japan.

READ: Duterte’s Japan trip not a ‘reward’ for Cabinet officials — Malacañang

The Justice Secretary said Laurel was rebuked by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for that matter.

“He has already been rebuked by the Palace. Let’s wait and see if there’ll be any further action by the President or by the SFA,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.

“Rebuked in the sense of being strongly contradicted or corrected, but not in the sense of being scolded,” he added.

However, Guevarra did not give direct answer if Laurel will be relieved from his position because of the issue.

Meanwhile, the post of anti-Duterte blogger Jover Laurio, which shows celebrities present in the said trip, has earned hundreds of shares.

Among the celebrities was Philip Salvador.

Laurio’s post invited reactions by asking netizens where they think the celebrities could have possibly gotten the funds for the trip.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quick to argue that the celebrities “came to Japan on their own accord.”

“Ask them why they are here. They are the credible source of your information. Mine will be speculative,” he said in a statement.

In has to be recalled that President Duterte signed on March 15, 2019 an executive order which specifies certain individuals who are not entitled to government funding for foreign travels.

These include private individuals and the spouses or children of government officials “except when diplomatic protocol or established international practices provide otherwise.”

Executive Order Number 77 was issued as part of the government’s campaign against corruption and formally ban government junketeers or the use of public funds for pleasure trips.

It is also clear in Section 9 of E.O. 77 that: “All forms of travel junkets shall be strictly prohibited. The conduct of strategic planning workshops or team building activities abroad shall not be allowed.”

The EO said government officials are allowed to have local or foreign travels and assignments only if it is essential to the effective performance of their mandates or functions; it has a substantial benefit to the country; their presence is critical to the outcome of the activity; and the projected expenses are not excessive or involve minimum expenditure.

Also, any foreign travel by a government staff must be approved by the Office of the President, the Department Secretary, and the heads of their respective agencies.

They must also submit a report of the outcome of their foreign travels if they are partially or fully sponsored by a private corporation or individual.

Likewise, no official or personal travel of government officials and employees shall be funded directly or indirectly, fully or partially, by private individuals with pending requests or applications or future dealings with any government agencies.

It can be recalled that President Duterte sacked a number of government officials due to alleged junkets such as the former chairperson of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Terry Ridon; former Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Dionisio Santiago; former Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III among others. (with details from Rosalie Coz)


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