Minority senators oppose PET ruling on Marcos electoral protest

Marje Pelayo   •   October 16, 2019   •   325

(L-R) Former senator Bongbong Marcos and Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Minority Senators Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, and Kiko Pangilinan expressed strong opposition to the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the electoral protest filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a statement, members of the Senate minority stressed that the case should be dismissed citing the progress of the recount which they said obviously revealed the victory of Robredo against Marcos in the 2016 Vice Presidential election.

“Isinagawa ang recount. Ang resulta: Lalo pang lumaki ang lamang ni VP Leni sa mga lugar na sinasabi ni Ginoong Marcos na dinaya siya, imbes na makitang bumaliktad ang resulta at mapatunayan ang kanyang paratang, lalo pang lumitaw ang katotohanan: Panalo si VP Leni,” the senators argued.

The opposition senators accused the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), of breaking its own rules for not acting appropriately on the matter.

“Ang dapat mangyari ngayon: I-dismiss na ang kaso. Tantanan na ang kasinungalingan. Tanggapin na ang katotohanang si Leni Robredo ang Pangalawang Pangulo ng bansa,” the statement said.

“Ngunit ang mangyayari ngayon, sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema: Pinapakomento ang dalawang panig sa isa pang petisyon ni Ginoong Marcos.” It added.

The minority senators sided with Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio whose dissenting opinion stated that it was Robredo who received the most number of votes in the three areas personally picked by Marcos — Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur — where he claimed his votes were rigged.

On Tuesday (October 15), the SC ruled to release the result of the recount in three provinces concerned in Marcos’ poll protest.

The SC asked Robredo and Marcos to submit their comments on the results which they need to submit “within a period of 20 days from receipt of the notice” as announced by SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Supreme Court OKs live coverage of Ampatuan massacre promulgation

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

(FILE) Filipino Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Junior (R), prime suspect in the massacre of 57 civilians in a southern province, is shoved with photos of the mass murder victims as he arrives at the Department of Justice in Manila, Philippines on 18 December 2009. EPA-EPE/FRANCIS MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday approved the request for live coverage and broadcast of the promulgation of the Maguindanao massacre ruling set on Thursday, December 19at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Supreme Court Spokesperson, Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said the en banc voted to allow the live streaming of the promulgation but did not elaborate if the voting was unanimous.

“After the en banc session of the SC this morning, they granted the request for the live broadcast and coverage of the promulgation of the decision of the case ‘People vs Ampatuan’ which is pending before Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,” Hosaka told reporters.

The request for open and live coverage of the case promulgation was filed earlier by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and several media networks.

The Maguindanao massacre, which occurred on Nov. 23, 2009, is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

The gruesome incident left 58 people dead, including 32 media personnel, some members of the Mangudadatu family and several civilians.

The ambush happened when they were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to cover the filing of then gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu – a political rival of the Ampatuans.

Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan are the primary accused in the case.

Of the 197 original suspects facing multiple murder charges, 101 were put on trial and could face sentencing soon.

Hosaka said a set of guidelines for the media coverage will be released by the SC Public Information Office.

This will include the number of reporters who will be allowed inside and outside of the courtroom as well as the rules on the use of mobile phones, cameras, and other recording devices.

A room will also be prepared where members of the media may monitor court proceedings during the case promulgation.

“However, due to space limitations and security concerns that the court has imposed. These are in broad strokes the actual resolution and guidelines will be out possibly at the end of the week,” Hosaka said.

Trump asks Supreme Court to block subpoena for his tax returns

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

US President Donald J. Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from a campaign rally in Bossier City, Louisiana; in Washington, DC, USA, 15 November 2019. EPA-EFE/YURI GRIPAS / ABACA / POOL world rights

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys on Thursday asked the US Supreme Court to quash an attempt by prosecutors in New York to obtain his tax records for the last eight years.

The filing comes after a US district court and a federal appellate panel ruled that Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, had to comply with a grand jury subpoena for the documents.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office has been trying to enforce the subpoena, said he would delay action to allow the president’s lawyers to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case in the current term, according to The New York Times.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, a state or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the President of the United States and subjected him to coercive criminal process,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said. “Politically motivated subpoenas like this one are a perfect illustration of why a sitting president should be categorically immune from state criminal process.”

The dispute goes back to August, when Vance’s office demanded that Mazars hand over the tax records as part of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign’s 2016 hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal violated the laws of New York State.

Both women said they had affairs with Trump, who denies the claims.

On Wednesday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an earlier ruling that Mazars must also provide eight years of Trump’s tax returns to the Oversight and Reform Committee of the US House of Representatives.

The committee is seeking the tax records for “legitimate legislative pursuits, not an impermissible law-enforcement purpose,” the appellate judges concluded.

Trump’s legal team plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up that case as well.

While the US Department of Justice has long held that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, Trump attorney William S. Consovoy has maintained that his client enjoys “temporary presidential immunity,” not only from prosecution, but also from investigation. – EFE-EPA

llb/dr

CJ Peralta hopes verdict on Maguindanao massacre will be issued before year-end

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 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

The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes a 30-day extension in issuing her verdict on the Maguindanao Massacre case.

The case has already been submitted for resolution on August 22 and the court was supposed to come up with a verdict within 90 days or until the third week of November but Judge Reyes requested an extension.

CJ Peralta said they understand Reyes’ predicament due to the voluminous records and evidence that she had to consider which prompted the Supreme Court to approve her request for a one-month extension.

“We also allow meritorious motion for extension and we understand her predicament,” said Peralta.

The chief magistrate, however, expressed hope that Judge Reyes will no longer ask for another extension in issuing her verdict on the case.

“I hope that she will no longer ask for another extension so that before the end of the year those cases will finally be decided,” he said.

According to the memorandum that the SC sent to Reyes, she has until December 30 to arrive at a decision and it is already non-extendible.

On November 23, 2009, armed men ambushed 58 individuals, including 32 members of the media, in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Among the slain was the wife of former Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu who was supposed to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao gubernatorial election, opposing the Ampatuan clan.

The Maguindanao Massacre is considered the world’s worst election-related incident of violence and the deadliest attack against the members of the media. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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