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
by Maris Federez | Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to produce the evidence against former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on the P172.8 million plunder case against him.
This is in response to the petition filed by the camp of former lawmaker before the Sandiganbayan Third Division to order the Ombudsman “to produce and permit the copying or photographing of any and all documents” as specified in the bill of particulars.
They argued that they need time “to study and consider the materials before trial is held.”
In its 6-page resolution issued on April 24, the graft court granted Enrile’s motion.
The Sandiganbayan said, “Enrile has absolute control on how to go about his defense. If in his mind, he needed to inspect or copy pieces of evidence [not privileged] which are material for him to make an intelligent defense, then he is allowed by the court to ask for the inspection or production of these documents.”
The court cited Section 10, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which allows the former Senate president to avail this remedy, considering the prosecution made use of government resources to prepare its case.
Therefore, on the argument that the request is equivalent to premature presentation of evidence, the court said “Ombudsman prosecutors were wrong to call Enrile’s motion premature.
The Sandiganbayan, however, said the scope of the evidence that Enrile may access is only limited to documents related to the itemized charges against him.
Enrile is accused of pocketing some P172.8 million of his pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by channeling the money to the fake nongovernment organizations of convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles.
He was initially detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City but was later released by the court on humanitarian grounds considering that he is already 95 years old.
Associate Justice Ronald Moreno wrote the resolution, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez. –Maris Federez
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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