Judge in De Lima case to opt for early retirement

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2019   •   2193

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Another judge handling the drug-related charges against detained Senator Leila de Lima has opted to retire early.

According to the camp of De Lima, Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 256 has filed for an early retirement which will take effect in June or July.

Fabros-Corpuz is the second judge handling De Lima’s case to file for early retirement. First was Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206.

Aside from the two who opted to retire early, four judges have previously inhibited themselves from tackling De Lima’s cases for various reasons.

These were Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204, Judge Antonietta Pablo-Medina of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 276, Judge Myra Bayot-Quiambao of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 and Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206.

Fabros-Corpuz is handling De Lima’s case for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading filed by the Department of Justice against her, Joenel Sanchez, Ronnie Dayan, Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu and three others.

With Fabros-Corpuz’s looming retirement, the hearing on one of De Lima’s cases set for June 5 has been postponed.

De Lima urges Google Philippines to take down fake videos on YouTube

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Friday expressed alarm over the “continued proliferation of fake videos” on video-sharing website Youtube and urged Google Philippines to take it down.

“The continued proliferation of fake videos on YouTube is highly alarming. These fake videos have been widely shared across social media platforms by well-orchestrated network of pages that aim to manipulate reality to advance their political agendas,” De Lima said in a statement.

The senator said fake videos are populating on one of its subsidiaries, notably YouTube, “which becomes the go-to platform of sinister groups to spread lies and misleading content.”

De Lima called on Google Philippines to take concrete and decisive actions to ensure the veracity of the videos and audio clips it allows to be disseminated and shared on its service by cleaning up YouTube of fake clips.

“Google Philippines should take this concern seriously and start the crackdown on fake videos, including deep fake videos, on YouTube to free the public from any confusion about what’s real and what’s fake. This is long overdue,” she added.

The lawmaker also said she has since been aware of the malicious content populating YouTube because she has been a constant target of fake news on the said platform, as with other social networking sites.

“I should know. Evil men and women who are behind the fake news stories and videos against me have long been resorting to YouTube, among other social media platforms, to discredit me and make me appear bad in the public’s eyes,” she said.

“Even though my Senate staff report these online fake news pages and websites regularly, their efforts are not enough to control the proliferation of these fake news videos, especially among overseas Filipino workers,” she added.

De Lima believes that Google Philippines and its mother unit would be more responsible in finding innovative ways that could control, if not at all stop, the continued circulation and distribution of fake videos on YouTube.

“The people behind these dubious accounts and channels should also be held accountable for their actions. Media literacy and fact-checking platforms would not suffice unless technology giants like Google contribute in fighting disinformation,” she said.

Google Philippines has yet to issue a statement on the matter as of posting.

De Lima welcomes Senate proposal allowing her to join sessions

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima welcomes the proposal of her fellow senators to allow her to join Senate proceedings and perform her duties as a duly-elected lawmaker.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson recently filed the Senate Resolution No. 51 seeking to allow De Lima to participate in plenary debates and committee hearings through teleconferencing, video conferencing or other forms of remote or electronic communications.

De Lima called the proposal an “answered prayer,” saying she has been longing to participate in Senate proceedings.

“I thank, wholeheartedly, the Minority Leader Sen. Drilon and Sen. Lacson for such an initiative. Sana po suportahan ng aming mga colleagues. A blessed Sunday,” she said in a statement issued from her detention quarters at the PNP-Custodial Center, Camp Crame.

In filing the resolution, Drilon and Lacson insisted that De Lima, as a duly-elected Senator, has the mandate to take part in the process on deliberating and passing important legislations, adding that her absence unduly deprives the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her in 2016.

“Even as a detention prisoner, Senator De Lima remains entitled to enjoy her constitutional rights such as the right to be presumed innocent, as well as her full civil and political rights,” the senators said.

“As a deliberative legislative body, it is incumbent upon the Senate to take necessary measures to ensure that its members will be given every possible opportunity to participate in its plenary sessions,” they added.

The two senators recalled that in 2010, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 7 and fully concurred with the opinion of the Senate Legal Counsel in the case of Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV who was then facing coup d’etat charges.

Lacson and Drilon insisted that arrangements may be made to allow De Lima to participate in plenary sessions through communications technology that will allow audio-visual interactions with remote audiences or co-participants through secure connection.

If adopted, the Resolution will mandate the Senate Secretary to coordinate and make appropriate arrangements for the setting of appropriate telephone, video, broadband and/or wireless link necessary for the selected mode of remote participation.

The Senate Secretary should also ensure to safeguard the integrity of the session via teleconferencing and proper archiving of the audio-visual or electronic recording as part of the records of the Senate.

De Lima eyes creation of body to monitor gov’t intel fund use

Robie de Guzman   •   July 25, 2019

File: Senator Leila De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila De Lima is pushing for the creation of a body which will monitor the use of intelligence fund of government agencies.

In a statement released on Thursday, De Lima said she has filed Senate Bill No. 377 which proposes the creation of Joint Congressional Intelligence Committee (JCIC) tasked to oversee intelligence activities of the administration, financial management, and expenditure of intelligence agencies.

The bill seeks all entities of the Philippine government which conduct intelligence activities and receive intelligence funds to keep the JCIC fully informed of all its intelligence activities, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity and any significant intelligence failure.

The opposition senator stressed it is necessary to scrutinize whether the government’s intelligence funds are properly used, particularly the billions of pesos allocated for the Duterte administration’s war against drugs and criminality.

“Throughout the years, this secrecy that surrounds the disbursement and utilization of intelligence and confidential funds has been used not only to protect intelligence activities but also to hide abuses in the utilization of these funds,” De Lima said.

Because of the necessary secrecy in the use of funds, the senator noted that these amounts appear as lump sums in the annual GAA and are not subject to the stringent regular auditing requirements of the Commission on Audit (COA).

De Lima cited as an example the P2.5 billion annual intelligence funds received by the Office of the President under the 2017, 2018 and 2019 General Appropriations Acts (GAA) for its intelligence and confidential activities in connection with its war on drugs and criminality.

The lawmaker underscored the importance of balance between maintaining confidentiality, upholding accountability and protecting civil liberties instead of undermining them.

“Intelligence funds must be properly utilized to prepare for the threats to national security rather than for partisan or dubious activities of any government official,” she said.

If enacted into law, the measure will mandate concerned government offices to obtain a signed letter from the President, or from the respective head of the constitutional body in cases involving entities enjoying fiscal autonomy, specifically authorizing the proposed intelligence activity before any amount is disbursed and expended for the proposed intelligence activity.

In turn, the President or the respective head of the constitutional body are required to provide the JCIC a copy of the authorization letter within 72 hours.

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