NBI to use 2 ex-employees of Wellmed Dialysis Center as state witnesses

Maris Federez   •   June 13, 2019   •   1492

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is mulling over using two former employees of Wellmed Dialysis Center who turned whistleblowers on the “ghost dialysis” scam as state witnesses.

The two, Edwin Roberto and Liezel de Leon, are currently under the custody of the NBI following their arrest for estafa and falsification of document cases.

NBI deputy director for Forensic Investigation and spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said, “Two others we are considering them, Aileen and Edwin Roberto, as possible state witnesses so they have to be criminally charged and later on, we will file a motion to exclude them from the criminal charges if they will be admitted into the Witness Protection Program.

Atty. Crispin Francis Jandusay, one of the legal counsels of the two whistleblowers, said they are now preparing the requirements for the two in applying to the Department of Justice Witness Protection Program.

“Up until now, at present, we are complying with the requirements and also of course, we don’t want to preempt because one of the requirements is the certificate of materiality issued by the investigating prosecutor,” Jandusay added.

He also said that the two decided to reveal the anomaly at the dialysis center because of guilt.

Meanwhile, the NBI is also preparing a complaint to be filed against Philhealth officials who were implicated in the controversy.

The agency, however, refused to disclose the identities of the said officials so as not to compromise their investigation.

The NBI also said that they are looking into alleged corruption in other treatment centers, institutions, and personalities involved in the issue.

“In order to not compromise the operations being conducted and investigations being conducted by our agents, we beg not to disclose yet the identities of institutions as well as the personalities involved.” (with reports from April Cenedoza) /mbmf

DOJ denies conflict of interest in review of water concession deals

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday denied allegations of conflict of interest in the ongoing review of the water concession deal between the government of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The allegations surfaced following news reports that Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar was part of the team that reviewed the water supply agreements.

Aglipay-Villar is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose family owns the Prime Water Infrastructure Corporation, one of the utility firms that may possibly become a player to replace Maynilad and Manila Water when their contract ends in 2022.

Guevarra said he does not know where these kinds of allegations came from. He also said that he led the review of water deals.

“Siyempre as SOJ, ako ang head ng review team at ginagamit ko diyan, nag-assist ng review, naturally legal staff ng DOJ. Sa office ng state counsel so sila ang nag-review niyan with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. So, yung units na yun, nagkataon lang under the supervision ni Usec. Emmeline Villar kasi may mga distribution ng work ng ng mga usecs ng DOJ,” he told reporters in an event in Manila Thursday morning.

Guevarra said the DOJ team found onerous provisions in the contracts signed in 1997 and recommended its removal as well as the crafting of new deal that would be advantageous to the public.

“Believe me when I say that any good lawyer will see the inequitable provisions in the water concession agreements, and the fact the Usec. Emmeline Villar is part of the DOJ review team is totally irrelevant,” he said.

Aglipay-Villar, a former congresswoman, also denied the allegations, adding that the DOJ conducted a disinterested review of the concession agreements.  – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Revised water concession deal out before year-end – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said it is now forming an inter-agency team which is tasked to come up with a revised version of water concession agreement before the end of the year.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the composite team is comprised of lawyers from various government agencies, including the DOJ, Department of Finance, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General.

“We are still forming our team. We will come up with a government version of the concession agreement. So, we’ll hopefully come up with a revised version of the water concession agreement that does not include the onerous and what is considered illegal provisions,” Guevarra said.

“Hopefully, before the year is over, we can have one,” he added.

The DOJ chief said the panel will thoroughly review the provisions stated in the water supply deals with Manila Water and Maynilad, and revise those that are disadvantageous to the public.

“We are just trying to remove the provisions which should be removed because these are not favorable to the people, to the consuming public,” he said.

“We’ll do it within the government first. Once we are ready with our version of what a good water concession agreement should be, that’s the time we will sit down with the water concessionaires,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

The Palace earlier insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Guevarra said the government may opt to take over if private water firms will stop distributing water in Metro Manila due to the problem. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Faeldon’s attempt to realign P1-B fund for prison facilities rehab revealed in Senate budget hearing

Maris Federez   •   November 20, 2019

Former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon

Former Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon allegedly attempted to realign the supposed portion of the agency’s budget which was allocated for the rehabilitation of the prison facilities in Davao, Palawan, and Zamboanga which costs P1-Billion.

This was revealed on Wednesday (November 20) during the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Justice.

Senator Sonny Angara said Faeldon purportedly wanted to divert the budget for the Sablayan Detention Facilities in Mindoro.

“He even wrote me asking for the realignment but we told him its not proper for the committee to do that,” Angara said.

Senator Franklin Drilon said although there was nothing wrong with Faeldon’s letter to the Budget Department on his proposed realignment, his intention at that time was dubious.

“But at that time of before the last election, we heard that he was interested in running for an election post in Mindoro. Certainly, to request the realign P1 billion (part of P1 billion) to Sablayan detention facilities in Mindoro is become suspect,” Drilon added. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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