Opposition bets Macalintal, Gutoc & Hilbay accept defeat

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2019   •   2508

(L-R) Atty. Romulo Macalintal, Samira Gutoc and former solicitor general, Pilo Hilbay | Courtesy: Facebook

Several Otso Diretso senatorial candidates on Tuesday accepted their defeat in the 2019 midterm elections.

Election Lawyer Romulo Macalintal was the first opposition bet to concede after lagging in the 26th spot in the partial unofficial count as of Tuesday morning.

“It is clear that a great majority of our voters have chosen other candidates.  And I respect their decision as I concede defeat in this senatorial race,” Macalintal said in a statement.

He also expressed gratitude to his fellow Otso Diretso candidates and all his supporters who believed in him. Macalintal vowed he will continue to serve them even if he failed to win a senate seat.

“Ako po ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng mga taong naniwala sa aking kakayahan na maging Senador ng ating bansa,” he said.

Former Solicitor General Pilo Hilbay followed suit in waving the white flag against Administration-backed senatorial candidates.

“The will of the people is supreme, so we respect the results of the elections. Congratulations to all the winners, may you serve the country well,” he said in a statement.

“Puno ako ng pasasalamat sa kampanyang ito – sa aking pamilya at mga kaibigan, kay VP Leni Robredo at Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, sa lahat ng kandidato ng Otso Diretso at kanilang mga teams, sa aking maliit na campaign team, at sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong naniwalang ang isang Batang Tondong kagaya natin ay nararapat manalo,” he added.

He also thanked all those who believed in him, saying he will never forget their unrivaled passion, brilliance and sacrifices.

“To all our HILBAYanihan volunteers: You all did whatever it took, and whatever you could. I am sorry that our resources did not match your brilliance, your heart, and your hope,” he said.

“This is not the result we hoped for, but it is the reality that we have to face with the optimism that we will have better days,” he added.

Similarly, Samira Gutoc expressed her gratitude to all her supporters in a recorded video message.

She also likened her election loss to the bar exams that she failed to pass despite taking it thrice.

“I am alright despite you know what happened ganun naman talaga eh just like my 3 bar exams… Anyway, to everyone who helped me, who voted for me, thank you talaga,” she said.

Gutoc, Hilbay and Macalintal placed outside of top 20 along with the rest of Otso Diretso bets: human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and former Congressman Erin Tañada.

Reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino is trailing at the 14th spot with 13,707,133 as of 11:26 am partial unofficial count. Former Senator Mar Roxas, meanwhile, is poised for a third loss in a national race at 16th place with 9,536,694 votes.

Roxas tells Enrile: Public office ban is for those facing plunder charges

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday twitted former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, saying those accused of plunder or stealing from government coffers should be the ones banned from seeking or holding public office.

“Ahem. Yung dapat barred from public service at makulong, yung may kaso ng plunder,” Roxas said in a Twitter post.

Roxas’ remark was an apparent response to Enrile’s statement that Roxas and detained Senator Leila de Lima should be “disqualified forever from holding public office” for the mess brought about by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) they drafted for the Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

READ: Enrile wants De Lima, Roxas perpetually barred from public office for GCTA mess

Enrile earlier blamed Roxas and De Lima, then Justice Secretary, for the irregularities in the implementation of the law which led to the questionable release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts since its enactment in 2013.

“They should be disqualified forever from holding public office. Sila ang may kasalanan sila ang gumawa eh the people below them are being guided of what they did,” Enrile said in a media interview at the Senate on Wednesday.

The former lawmaker said the law clearly states that convicts involved in heinous crimes are among those excluded from availing of the early release rule based on good conduct credits.

Enrile said the IRR crafted by De Lima and Roxas, which supposedly added heinous crime convicts as GCTA beneficiaries, was “unconstitutional and void ab initio (from the beginning).”

But according to Roxas, the IRR faithfully reflects the RA 10592 and the Revised Penal Code, stressing that each provision corresponds to specific parts and paragraphs of the statute particularly on exclusion of inmates convicted of heinous crimes.

“Allegations that the IRR has strayed from the law on which it is based are unquestionably unfounded,” Roxas explained in a letter responding to the Ombudsman’s request on the matter.

Roxas cited Rule 4, Section 6 of the law’s IRR on provisional release while under preventive imprisonment, which states that: “Whenever an accused has undergone preventive imprisonment for a period equal to the imposable maximum imprisonment of the offense charged to which he may be sentenced and his case is not yet decided, he shall be released immediately without prejudice to the continuation of the trial thereof or the proceeding on appeal, if the same is under review, except for the following: ‘recidivist, habitual delinquent, escapee, person charged with heinous crimes’.”

Enrile, 95, is facing a P172-million plunder charge before the Anti-Graft court in relation to the P10 billion pork barrel scam which involved businesswoman Janet Napoles and other public officials.

He is currently out of prison after the Supreme Court granted him temporary liberty in 2015 for humanitarian reasons.  

Enrile wants De Lima, Roxas perpetually barred from public office for GCTA mess

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday said that detained Senator Leila de Lima and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas should be perpetually barred from seeking public office for the alleged confusion created by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) they crafted for the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Enrile blamed De Lima and Roxas for the irregularities in the implementation of the law which led to the questionable release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts.

“They should be disqualified forever from holding public office,” the former lawmaker said when asked by reporters at the Senate about the possible liability of De Lima and Roxas over the mess.

The former senator said the Republic Act 10592, which expanded the GCTA given to inmates, clearly states that convicts involved in heinous crimes are among those excluded from availing of the early release rule based on good conduct credits.

Enrile said the IRR crafted by De Lima and Roxas, which supposedly added heinous crime convicts as GCTA beneficiaries, was “unconstitutional and void ab initio (from the beginning).”

Enrile was the Senate president when the GCTA law was approved in 2013.

“Sila ang may kasalanan sila ang gumawa eh the people below them are being guided by what they did,” he said.

The 95-year old former lawmaker said heinous convicts wrongly released under the GCTA law who continue to refuse to surrender to authorities could now be hunted since they are not supposed to be released in the first place.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier set a 15-day deadline for these convicts to surrender for investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

The ultimatum, which Duterte issued on Sept. 4, will lapse on Sept. 19 (Thursday).

The president earlier warned GCTA-freed heinous criminals who remain at large will be treated as fugitives from justice if they failed to comply with the order. He also pushed through with his plan to offer P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convicts.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier asked De Lima and Roxas to explain or clarify in writing the implementing rules they drafted for the law as part of their ongoing investigation on the matter.

But De Lima said the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction or authority over her as a sitting senator, citing Section 21 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989.

She also said she has no official capacity to reply to the Ombudsman’s query on the GCTA issue as she is no longer the Secretary of Justice.

“[I] would like to clarify that I am no longer the Secretary of Justice. I am now a Senator of the Republic. I cannot in my official capacity as a Senator reply to a query that exclusively pertains to official business of the Department of Justice whose present Secretary is Menardo Guevarra,” De Lima said in a statement.

READ: De Lima says Ombudsman request for explanation on GCTA rules ‘highly irregular’

Guevarra, however, refused to blame any body about the mess, saying they already revised the law’s implementing rules to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants.

“We at the DOJ won’t dwell on things that had come to pass, much less waste our time on an unproductive blame game. The revised IRR reflects our best interpretation of RA 10592 as it was actually crafted, finalized, and signed,” he said in a statement. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Grace Casin)

Outgoing senators reveal plans after Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2019

Upper row: (L-R ) Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, Francis Escudero Lower row: (L-R) Senators Gringo Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – Six senators of the 17th Congress are soon to leave the Senate.

Senators Francis Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes IV have until June 30 to serve their last term.

Senators Bam Aquino and Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, needed to leave following their defeat in the 2019 midterm polls.

Escudero may be leaving the Senate but he remains in public office after winning as governor of Sorsogon.

Legarda, likewise, is shifting to local governance after being proclaimed as the new representative of Antique.

For his part, Honasan said he is still hoping for President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of him as head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“It’s up in the air. That will be decided after June 30 by the appointing authority,” Honasan said.

Meanwhile, Senators Aquino and Ejercito said that their next plan to enjoy their private lives with their respective families.

“Ngayon ang ating destiny ay maiba hindi man magpatuloy dito. I guess na mahalaga right now just to take steps back. Spend more time with your kids and try to determine how to help the country in other ways,” Aquino said.

“Maraming paraan para tumulong sa ating bayan,” he added.

“Tulungan ko muna ang wife ko sa mga businesses naming,” Ejercito said when asked about his plans following his exit from Senate.

He admitted, however, that he regretted the outcome of running against his brother Jinggoy Estrada.

“Ang regrets ko…ang pinakamabigat kong problema yung dalawa kaming magkapatid na tumakbo,” Ejercito said.

“Sana kinausap ko na lang. Nag-usap kami ng father ko, ng pamilya na nasabi ko na sana ang aking concern. Ilang beses ko sinabi na ito ang mangyayari na pwede kaming mahila lahat pababa. Exactly ito  na nga ang nangyari,” he added.

Trillanes, meanwhile, said he is thinking of going back to school.

The controversial senator earlier said he will remain critical of the Duterte administration even outside of Senate. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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