Drilon suggests reopening drug probe vs Paolo Duterte

Robie de Guzman   •   April 4, 2019   •   5858

(L-R) Presidential son, Paolo Duterte and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believes the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should resume its investigation on illegal drugs amid fresh allegations against former Davao City vice mayor and presidential son, Paolo Duterte.

Drilon made the statement after a video linking the younger Duterte to the illegal drug trade circulated online.

“It is best that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee resume its investigation in order that those named in the video, particularly Mr. Duterte and [Agriculture] Undersecretary [Waldo] Carpio can clear their names,” Drilon told reporters at a Kapihan forum in the Senate.

On Tuesday (April 2), a video titled “Ang Totoong Narcolist-Episode 1” which supposedly details Paolo’s links to the narcotics trade made rounds on social media.

In the six-minute video, a narrator showed a “tara” or the list of principals and their monthly kickbacks that were deposited in the alleged drug lords’ bank accounts.

The list also contains their code names, including “POLODELTA-TSG01,” which the narrator claimed referred to Paolo Duterte as represented by his initials.

The video also tagged Waldo Reyes Carpio as the owner of the said bank accounts used as Duterte’s dummy in the drug transaction.

Waldo Reyes Carpio is an undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture and the brother of Atty. Manases Carpio, Paolo’s brother-in-law and husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

A certain “Bikoy” who claimed to be a member of the drug syndicate appeared in the video and made the accusations against Duterte and Carpio.

Duterte on Wednesday lashed out on a certain “J.S.” whom he alleged as the one behind the video circulating online.

“POLO DELTA – PAOLO DUTERTE? WOW ha kung makaimbento ka wagas. Galit ka kay Waldo (Carpio) kasi binabara niya lahat ng smuggling mo ng bigas at asukal diba J.S.,” Duterte wrote on his Facebook account.

He also belied the allegations, calling it baseless and the list invented. He also said the accuser was just trying to copy the claims previously made by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

READ: Paolo Duterte denies receiving kickbacks from drug syndicates

Drilon said the probe would clear up details and provide an avenue for Duterte and Carpio to disprove the allegations against them.

“Sino ba si J.S.? May ebidensya ba or dokumento ba si JS?” he asked.

“The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will provide him [Duterte] with the opportunity to disprove all of these allegations which to him are invented and unfounded,” Drilon added.

The Senate panel conducted a hearing in 2017 on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Customs Broker Mark Taguba had alleged that Paolo and his brother-in-law Lawyer Manases Carpio were behind the Davao group that facilitated smuggling in the BOC.

Duterte had denied involvement in the drug smuggling. He also refused to show the alleged tattoo on his back, which Trillanes claimed will prove his being a member of “triad” or international crime syndicate.

Duterte had filed libel cases against Trillanes for making such claims.

READ: Paolo Duterte slaps libel raps vs Trillanes

In a new statement, Duterte vowed to file more charges against the opposition Senator, whom he believes is among those behind the fresh drug claims against him.

“He may deny it, but the video supposedly showing my involvement in the illegal drug trade in the country has been clearly stamped with the indelible Trillanes signature of being a desperate mercenary, one who has done nothing good but attack the government,” he said.

“I have filed cases against Mr. Trillanes for ruining my name. I will file another string of cases for his continued attempts to destroy my reputation,” he added.

He also dared Trillanes anew to show proof of his allegations against him.

“And no, I will not show the tattoo on my back and make things easier for Mr. Trillanes. Instead, I dare him and everyone behind the stupid and empty video exposé to back their claims against me,” Duterte said.

“If there’s anything admirable about Mr. Antonio Trillanes, it is his relentlessness and talent to turn the absurd into something ridiculous, if not bizarrely entertaining,” he said. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Senators blast politicians taking advantage of COVID-19 crisis to campaign for 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   April 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Minority senators on Friday lambasted politicians who are taking advantage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis to advance their political agenda, hampering the speedy delivery of relief to millions of poor families.

In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros criticized politicians who are exploiting the current public health situation to campaign for the 2022 elections, leaving millions of vulnerable and low-income Filipino families unassisted.

“It is not red tape. It is the 2022 political campaign that is hampering the immediate distribution of relief to millions of poor families,” the senators said.

The lawmakers issued the statement following complaints regarding the “sluggish” release of assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government agencies.

“It saddens us that there are people who could be so heartless and power hungry as to take advantage of this crisis to advance their political ambition,” the lawmakers said.

“To presidential wannabees, hands off, please. Go away,” they added.

The senators stressed that the distribution of disaster aid and the bureaucracy is politicized when political campaign gets in the way.

“Worse, national and local officials who have shown initiative and innovation in responding to COVID-19 crisis are politicized, criticized and crucified, which would only add to the suffering of our countrymen and women,” they said.

The lawmakers also called on private corporations and charity groups to be discerning and to not allow themselves to be used for obvious political propaganda, especially during these trying times.

They also called on the DSWD and other government agencies to just use their existing database instead of distributing social amelioration cards (SAC) in implementing the government’s emergency subsidy program for the COV-19 crisis as provided in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The SAC is a form being distributed at the barangay level to capture the family profile, which will be used as the basis in providing aid to the affected families.

“Let us spare our fellow Filipinos this unnecessary procedure. Our kababayans are getting hungry and desperate for help. They lost jobs. Give the aid ASAP,” they said.

Drilon blasts Pagcor for backing continued POGO operation in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   March 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday blasted the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for its position to push for the continued operation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) despite the problems and gambling-related crimes brought about by its operation in the country.

During Thursday’s probe of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the alleged influx of “dirty money” in the country, Drilon expressed his dismay over PAGCOR’s position to keep offshore gaming operations open so as not to miss out on income opportunities.

“I am disappointed at the statement today of Pagcor, saying that we are in favor of POGOs continuing its operation because of the income earned. That is a shortsighted statement,” he said.

“The social problems that POGO has brought to our country is not worth the regulation fees you get from Pagcor. Let me tell that to your face,” he added.

Drilon said the country has seen increases in the number of crime incidents, prostitution cases, illegal workers and the amount of foreign cash allegedly connected to illegal activities since POGOs were allowed to operate in the Philippines.

Citing figures from the risk assessment conducted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the senator underscored the 63 casino-kidnapping related cases from 2017 to 2019, which victimized Chinese businessmen engaged in online gaming.

AMLC Executive-Director Mel Georgie Racela confirmed they monitored P14 billion worth of transactions that were related to suspicious POGO activities from January 2017 to October 2019. These include drug trafficking-related activities and swindling.

More or less 10 cases of POGO-related homicide cases were also reported by the Philippine National Police, as well as increase in the number of operations against prostitution dens involving foreign nationals which resulted in the arrest of suspects, mostly Chinese citizens.

When quizzed on how much POGO contributes to the Philippine economy, PAGCOR said it collects P7 to P8 billion from fees and licenses from offshore gaming firms.

Drilon said the fees generated by PAGCOR are less than one-third of one percent of the country’s economy.

“For P8 billion that you get from fees, you are saying that they should be here? That statement, I must say, is a stupid statement. Basta may pera na pumasok, all these evil things we tolerate,” Drilon said.

PAGCOR also admitted there are about 120 non-licensed POGOs illegally operating in the country. AMLC, on the other hand, reported that in 2019 alone, 200 internet-based POGOs illegally serviced online gaming operations.

“Is it worth all these problems that we face? The P8 billion income generated by PAGCOR from POGOs is nothing compared to the social problems brought about by POGOs,” Drilon said.

“All these things happened since POGOs came into our shores. What benefits are we talking about?” he added.

Drilon said that all these social problems that the country is facing today are enough basis to ban POGO operations in the country.

“It is a policy issue. To us, the policy should be to terminate these POGOs because of all these nefarious activities that we see today,” he reiterated.

Senate panel to probe influx of foreign cash to PH on Thursday

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, is set to investigate on Thursday, March 5, the reported influx of billions of pesos-worth of foreign cash brought into the country by alleged organized syndicates.

Gordon, in a Senate session on Wednesday, revealed that from September 2019 to February 2020, $447 million or equivalent to P22.7 billion were brought into the country based on the report of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The sums of cash were allegedly carried by 47 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arriving in the Philippines from Hong Kong and Singapore.

Gordon said the large sums of cash were declared as investment and gambling funds.

The BOC earlier said that couriers of the money are able to escape detection because they are escorted by police, military or airport officials, based on their monitoring.

“Everyday, may pumapasok. Every other day, ‘yung taong nagpasok, meron na naman siya, three days later. So, talagang masusi ang trabaho,” Gordon said.

Under Philippine laws, any person is required to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 or its equivalent to other foreign currency being brought into or out of the country.

The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier ordered the BOC to coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate the matter.

The senator said Thursday’s hearing seeks to probe whether the influx of foreign cash into the country is linked to the operation of offshore gaming firms in the country which mostly employ Chinese nationals.

He added that Blue Ribbon panel also wants to know if these sums of money are being used in any illegal trade or activities.

Gordon said an invitation to attend the hearing has already been sent to officials from the AMLC, DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Immigration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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