Malacañang keeps distance from SC decision lifting TRO on Mamasapano trial

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019   •   798

The Office of the President has distanced itself from the Supreme Court (SC) decision that lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the hearing of the case against former president Benigno Aquino III on the Mamasapano encounter.

Read: SC lifts TRO on Mamasapano trial at Sandiganbayan

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo has refused to further comment on the issue as the palace would not want to be accused of meddling with the decision of the judiciary which is a co-equal branch of government.

“[W]e refuse to comment on the action undertaken by the Supreme Court, which belongs to a separate and independent branch of government from ours. We cannot and we do not intend to interfere with the functions of other branches which are distinct from the Executive,” Panelo said.

The palace, he added, would rather see the judicial process roll on its own accord.

“We will, as usual, let the law take its course,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Office of the President proposes P4.5B intel fund

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition lawmakers on Monday (September 14) questioned the P4.5 billion confidential and intelligence fund proposed by the Office of the President as part of its P8.2 billion overall proposed budget for 2021.

Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Ilago asked why such an amount is deemed confidential.

“Bakit higit sa kalahati ng pondo ng presidente ay patagong ginagamit,” Ilado said. 

In response, the Office of the President explained that the confidential and intelligence fund has a wide coverage to maintain peace and order in the country especially against terrorism.

The fund is not reported as detailed as other funds because it concerns national security.

Deputy Executive Secretary Alberto Bernardo clarified that the country needs more protection in the middle of the pandemic.

“Napatunayan natin na kahit na may pandemya ng COVID ay mayroon pa rin tayong mga bombers na nangyayari dito sa Sulu. Marami pa ring nagsasamantala na terorista para pabagsakin ang seguridad ng bansang ito kaya mas nangangailangan tayo ng proteksyon,” Bernardo explained.

On the other hand, some lawmakers support the increase on the Office of the Vice President’s proposed budget amounting to P679 million.

Vice president Leni Robredo, who herself attended the hearing, said they originally requested P720 million from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Robredo noted that despite the limitations, her office has already served almost half a million beneficiaries under the Angat Buhay program with most of the resources coming from the private sector.

“In essence what we’re doing is just trying to fill-in the gaps. We are fully aware that our office is very small. We are very small not just with the number of staff that we have but we’re small in terms of resources. So we are making do with what we have,” the vice president said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

ABS-CBN may ask SC for TRO against shutdown order — NTC

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) advises media giant ABS-CBN to appeal for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Supreme Court (SC) to resume broadcast on TV and radio after its shutdown on Tuesday evening (May 5).

According to NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, a TRO is ABS-CBN’s potential remedy for now to stop the cease and desist order issued by the agency after the network’s franchise lapsed on May 4.

“If they get the TRO then they can resume operation,” Cabarios said. 

The NTC explained that only the Congress has the power to grant a franchise to media networks in the country.

“Section 1 kasi ng Act 3846 ay klaro na kung wala kang congressional franchise, you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations, [Section 1 of Republic Act 3846 is clear, without congressional franchise you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations],” the NTC official said. 

Cabarios clarified, however, that ABS-CBN programs may still be aired on other platforms.

Pwede sa online, Internet, pwede ring cable television or pwede ring sa ibang radio and television stations na mayroon valid franchise at authority from the Commission [They can go online, they may use the Internet or other cable, radio or television stations that have valid franchise and authority from the Commission],” he noted. 

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the NTC’s action saying it was an attack on press freedom.

“The cease and desist order issued by the NTC against ABS-CBN is a deplorable assault on free press that further reveals that this administration is more interested in restricting basic freedoms than in containing a pandemic,” the group said in a statement.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted the importance of the media’s role in democracy.

Gusto lang natin na ma-tackle ito, ma-deliberate ito, [We want this tackled and deliberated],” argued CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline De Guia.

Kasi ang isa sa mga suliranin sa kasong ito ay hindi nagkakaroon ng tamang pagdinig doon sa issue na kinakaharap para sa pagre-renew ng franchise, [One of the problems in this case is the lack of deliberation on the franchise renewal]” she concluded. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Palace slams ASG attack on government troops in Sulu

Maris Federez   •   April 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines The Office of the President on Saturday slammed the Abu Sayyaf Group after around 40 of its members attacked the government troops in Patikul, Sulu on Friday (April 17) resulting in the death of 11 soldiers and wounding 14 others.

In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the administration condemns “in the strongest possible terms the latest incident in Patikul, Sulu, where members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) believed to be under ASG leader Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan attacked government troops resulting in a firefight, which left 11 soldiers killed and 14 wounded.”

Roque noted that what happened was already the second encounter that the government troops had with the same terrorist group; the first one, on April 16,  in which three soldiers were wounded.

“The Office of the President expresses its sincerest condolences to the bereaved families left behind by our brave soldiers who fought hard and paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our community. We honor and pray for the fallen,” Roque’s statement reads.

He further noted that the enemies of the State do not choose any date and occasion and just seem to strike even at this time that the country is battling a great pandemic.

Roque, however, reiterate that this must serve as a warning to all, stressing that, “our authorities remain ready and prepared to crush the enemies of the government and quell any armed attack amid the existing state of calamity and public health emergency.” mbmf

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