Palace won’t interfere on Ombudsman’s withdrawal of raps vs Noynoy

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2019   •   584

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said it will not meddle with the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision to move for the withdrawal of the graft and usurpation cases filed against former President Benigno Aquino III in relation with the Mamasapano encounter in 2015.

“The Palace doesn’t interfere with the other branches of the government as well as constitutional bodies. They have their assigned constitutional functions,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Saturday.

“They should freely perform their given constitutional tasks without interference from anyone or any entity,” he added.

Panelo’s statement comes after Ombudsman Samuel Martires filed a motion to withdraw the violation of anti-graft laws and usurpation charges that the government filed against Aquino in connection with the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

In a two-page resolution dated June 24, Martires said the withdrawal of charges was due to lack of sufficient ground to charge Aquino for graft and usurpation of official functions under the Revised Penal Code.

The charges, filed by then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, stemmed from Aquino’s decision to allow suspended National Police chief Alan Purisima to participate in the botched operation which resulted in the death of SAF troopers.   

Ombudsman probes 119 BOC employees for various anomalies

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

The Office of the Ombudsman is currently investigating 119 Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees due to various anomalies.

These employees are currently in floating status, according to BOC Commissioner Leonardo Guerrero.

“Ang instruction kasi ni President (The instruction of the president) is for them not to hold any position or office. So in the meantime, we have to account for them and the only way to account for them is to make sure we implement organizational mechanism that would make sure that they report daily for us to be able to know where they are in case they will be summoned for investigation,” he said.

Twenty-seven BOC employees were given a show cause order for their alleged involvement in corruption while the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of seven BOC executives.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the dismissal of deputy collector for operations of the Manila International Container Port (MICP) Ramon Hernandez; Customs Operations Officer Lomonto Macabando; Customs Officers III Vanzandt Remonde and Vicente Gamboa; Customs Special Police assistant chief Jaybee Raul Cometa; BOC-Zamboanga Special Agent Oscar Farin and Customs security guard Renly Tiñana.

The administrative offenses committed by the officials include grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

One employee, meanwhile, was suspended due to gross insubordination.

Guerrero also admits the ‘Tara System’ in BOC still exists. He also said he still receives offers from various individuals.

“Ilang beses ko pa ba sasabihin na ako hindi ako tumatanggap, hindi ako tatanggap at never akong tumanggap (How many times do I have to tell you, I do not accept [bribes], have not accepted [bribes], and will never accept [bribes]),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

SC lifts TRO on Mamasapano trial at Sandiganbayan

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019

The Supreme Court has lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued on the Mamasapano trial at the Sandiganbayan.

SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka in a statement on Wednesday said that the justices have voted the lifting of the temporary restraining order during Tuesday’s en banc session.

“I would like to confirm that the Supreme Court has lifted the TRO on the Mamasapano trial before the Sandiganbayan,” Hosaka’s statement said.

“With the lifting of the TRO, the Sandiganbayan may now proceed with the trial and act on pending matters filed before it,” he added.

The decision is expected to pave the way for possible action on the withdrawal of the graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Benigno Aquino III in connection with the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos on January 25, 2015. 

The charges were filed with the Sandiganbayan in November 2017 by then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Charged with Aquino were former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-SAF director Getulio Napeñas, Jr.

Aquino was scheduled to be arraigned, but the SC issued a TRO that halted the proceedings in the case in February last year, acting on a petition by relatives of two of the slain elite policemen that Aquino be charged instead with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

In June this year, Ombudsman Samuel Martires moved to withdraw the graft and usurpation charges against the former president, saying he found no sufficient ground and evidence.

Martires, however, added that his decision was without prejudice to the filing of appropriate charges against the accused after the conduct of a preliminary investigation.

In July, Sandiganbayan, on the other hand, said the anti-graft court will wait for the SC to lift the TRO before it could act on the Ombudsman’s motion. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

Customs personnel tagged in corruption to face admin raps before Ombudsman – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte meets the relieved employees of the Bureau of Customs in Malacañang on July 18, 2019. | Courtesy: Sen. Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) tagged in corruption allegations will face administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, Malacañang said on Friday.

“Administrative charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte met with dozens of customs personnel in Malacañang.

Panelo said Duterte told them they will be given their day in court as part of the due process.

“The President has been forthright in telling these customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch,” Panelo said.

“PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] assured them that he would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office,” he added.

The president, Panelo said, “thanked them for accepting his invitation to meet him in Malacañang, which according to him, showed they still have respect for him.”

While waiting for the formal filing of charges, the said customs officials will be “in floating status without authority to act on official matters.”

The chief executive earlier ordered for the freezing of several high-ranking customs officials who were accused of corrupt practices in office.

READ: Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

“Let this serve as a reminder to all those officials or employees in the government that they cannot escape liability or accountability for their acts of corruption under the Duterte administration,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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