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REPASO 2018: High-profile acquittal, conviction and Duterte’s anti-corruption drive

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018

 

(Left-Right) Former PCOO ASec. Mocha Uson, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, former Senator Bong Revilla and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. UNTV News & Rescue

A number of big names made headlines this year in Philippine politics for their involvement in various controversies.

Mocha Uson

Celebrity blogger Esther Margaux Justiniano Uson a.k.a. Mocha Uson is among the most controversial personalities in Philippine politics in 2018.

Her appointment as Assistant Secretary to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) was a roller-coaster ride for a neophyte government official.

Uson drew flak over a number of controversial posts on her social media account such as the alleged inappropriate video on federalism with her blogger-friend Drew Olivar followed by another video which irked the deaf community.

Uson ended her short term in the Duterte Cabinet in October 2018 but vowed to continue on with her service to the public even as a private citizen.

After several denials, the former official signified her intention to re-enter politics as a party list representative.

Despite her exit from the government, Uson faces a number of charges at the Office of the Ombudsman such as violation of the Magna Carta for Disable Persons; Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and the Cybercrime Prevention Act due to her controversial posts and commentaries on social media.

Uson, on her part, said such criticisms will not hinder her from exposing what the people needs to know.

“Actually hanggang ngayon pa rin, may bashing, kritisismo, di naman po mawawala iyan. Pero iyan naman po ang sensyales na buhay na buhay po ang demokrasya sa bansa natin. Wala naman pong problema sa kritisimo basta po sa bawat kritisismo ay tumutulong din tayo sa lipunan, sa bansa natin,” the former assistant secretary said.

Commisioners Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña

President Rodrigo Duterte again made a controversial move by re-appointing into government office former commissioners of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña.

Under their respective terms in BOC, billions worth of shabu slipped passed the security screening of the agency which raised questions against their credibility.

Faeldon resigned over the P6.4B shabu shipment controversy in 2017 but he was re-appointed by the President as Deputy Administrator of the Office of the Civil Defense and later on this year as Chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Lapeña, meanwhile, was criticized for the P6.8B worth of shabu shipment discovered inside four magnetic lifters in July. While Congress was probing the incident, the President reassigned Lapeña to the Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Meanwhile, several government officials were axed from their positions in 2018 due to issues of corruption.

Among them were Former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueño; Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar; former Chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Terry Ridon; Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Dionesio Santiago to name a few.

According to a political analyst Atty. James Villasis, President Duterte has made his anti-corruption policy clear especially that he is determined to expose in public those who he dismissed for corruption.

However, Villasis said the integrity of his campaign has been tainted for giving ‘so much favor’ to Faeldon and Lapeña.

Villasis added that the question still remains on whether or not a case is formally filed against the sacked officials.

“Ang nakikita kasi natin ngayon ay medyo hindi gaanong naho-hold into accountability ang mga public officials na kaniyang dinismiss. Kasi some of them are just transferred to some agencies or to another agency, and some of them just returned back to their private citizens’ life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica believes otherwise.

“Fifty-four na po iyan, 54 officials. Lahat po ng tinanggal, iyun iba po kasi preventive suspension pending investigation. Iyong iba po waiting for decision ng pangulo pero iyong nadesisyunan na po ng Pangulo, nasa Ombudsman na po lahat,” Belgica explained.

“Ang may trabaho doon ay ang DOJ, Sila ang magpa-file noon. Siguro they’re still gathering evidence. Mahirap kasing mag-file ng wala kang ebidensya pa,” added Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV

In August, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 572 declaring the amnesty granted to Trillanes as ‘void ab initio’ on grounds that the senator failed to prove that he applied for amnesty.

This prompted the Department of Justice to revive the cases of rebellion and coup d’ etat against Trillanes in connection with the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the 2007 Manila Pen siege.

The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ruled in favor of the prosecution and ordered the arrest of Trillanes for the charges of rebellion.

Trillanes was allowed P200,000 bail.

But the second court, Makati RTC Branch 148 denied the government’s petition for Trillanes’ arrest for the coup d’etat case filed against him.

The case remains closed until it is ordered reopened while Trillanes’ petition questioning Proclamation 572 is still pending in the Supreme Court.

 

Mugshot of Senator Antonio Trillanes during his booking procedure at Makati Police Station on September 25, 2018 | Photo courtesy of NCRPO

Former First lady, Ilocos 2nd District Cong. Imelda Marcos

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division in November ordered the arrest of former First Lady and Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos after she was found guilty of seven counts of graft in a trial considered as the longest in the anti-graft court’s history reaching nearly three decades or 26 years.

The anti-graft court sentenced the 89-year-old former First Lady to a minimum of six years to a maximum prison term of 11 years for each count of graft with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

However, Marcos was set free on bail of P150,000.

Former Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.

Former Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., meanwhile, walked free in the first week of December after the Sandiganbayan acquitted him of plunder in line with the P10-B ‘pork barrel’ scam, the first acquittal among the cases on the alleged misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

However, the court did not clear him of the 16 counts of graft pending before the Sandiganbayan.

The anti-graft court allowed his temporary release on bail of P480,000.

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan Special Division convicted alleged ‘pork barrel’ queen and mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and Revilla’s former aide Richard Cambe.

Napoles and Cambe were sentenced to ‘reclusion perpetua’ or 40 years imprisonment.

Former President now House Speaker Gloria Arroyo

Just before the year ends, The Pasay City Regional Trial Court acquitted Former President and House Speaker Gloria Arroyo of charges of electoral sabotage in connection with the 2007 midterm polls.

In an order signed December 17 and made public Friday (December 29), the court dismissed the case “for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused Arroyo beyond reasonable doubt”.

The court also ordered the return of the P1 million pesos bail posted by Arroyo for her provisional liberty in 2012. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Containers of mixed wastes shipment from Canada declared as “recyclable scrap plastics” but actually contained household trash, newspapers, plastic bottles and bags, and even used adult diapers.

MANILA, Philippines — Canada has committed to resolve its trash dumping issue with the Philippines.

The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines released a statement on Wednesday (April 24) after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to wage war if Canada will not take its garbage back.

“Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Government of the Philippines to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” the Embassy said in a statement posted on its Facebook account.

The Embassy added that: “A joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.”

On Tuesday (April 23), President Duterte issued a warning to Canada for its failure to remove its trash illegally exported to the country.

The President said he would no longer allow Canada to turn the Philippines into a “dumpsite.”

”For Canada’s garbage, I want a boat prepared. I will give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and dump their garbage there,” the President said.

“We will declare war. Load the containers to a ship and advise Canada. I will advise Canada that, ‘Your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to,’” he added.

It was between 2013 to 2014 when the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted a total of 103 containers of mixed wastes shipment from Canada declared as “recyclable scrap plastics” but actually contained household trash, newspapers, plastic bottles and bags, and even used adult diapers.

During his visit to the Philippines to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to cooperate with the Philippine government in resolving the offending shipment.

Trudeau, however, said the Philippines and Canadian governments need to settle issues including who will pay for the shipment of the illegal trash to the country.

In its statement, the Embassy reiterated the Canadian government’s commitment “to working collaboratively with the Government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

The embassy added that the relationship between the two countries “is built on strong people to people ties, common interest in strengthening political, economic and cultural relations, and in mutual commitment to peace” and is highly valued as the two countries celebrate their 70 years of diplomatic relations this year. — Marje Pelayo

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ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines—Duterte

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and the ISIS flag | Courtesy : PCOO

President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines.

During his speech in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday (April 9) in commemoration of the Day of Valor, he said that the government is close to crushing violent extremism and is pleased with the military efforts against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“Your efforts have brought us even closer to our ultimate objective of totally crushing the violent extremism at its roots. With this, I can confidently declare that ISIS will never gain foothold anywhere in the Philippines,” he said.

ISIS-linked militants held Marawi City hostage back in 2017. The military was able to retake the city after five months killing almost 900 insurgents including Isnilon Hapilon, considered leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

The Chief Executive assured that he will continue the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while he is still in office. He will also provide assistance to the military and their families.

He committed to release P500 million fund for the military.

“I will continue to release 500 more and 500 more millions to my soldiers who do something for their country. I will see to it that you will have funds when you retire and that your school—your children and their schooling will be assured even if we are no longer there either by natural or by any other means of saying goodbye to this world. I have your back covered,” the president said.

The Chief Executive is eyeing on appointing former military officials to government posts. However, he denied using the military to empower himself.

He said that he prefers the military because he has seen failure and corruption in the bureaucracy.

“Hindi ako sabihin na pinapalakas ko ang sarili ko sa (I am not empowering myself using the) military because I do not need that. The people elected me. But I have a special fondness for the military for being fundamentally honest at (and) industrious. Kaya as you would see, the next few officials coming in would be military guys,” he added.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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PNP on RevGov: We adhere to the rule of law

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is prepared to adhere to the rule of law should a revolutionary government be declared in the country.

According to PNP Pcol. Bernard Banac, it is the mandate of the national police to maintain peace and order in the country.

“Sineseryoso ng PNP ang lahat ng banta sa seguridad, at peace and order, base sa aming mandato (Based on our mandate, the PNP is taking all threats seriously, and [maintaining] peace and order). The PNP shall always stand behind the flag and uphold the Constitution. We adhere to the rule of law and obey legal orders of the duly constituted authorities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the President’s threat about forming a revolutionary government is due to his frustration on what is happening in the country.

“What I know though, is that he is getting exasperated by and frustrated with endless roadblocks to his attempts to protect the people’s interests,” he said in a text message.

He added that the President knows the limitations of his authority.

“As a lawyer the president knows the scope and limitations of his constitutional powers and he will act in accordance therewith,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also said that the President’s statement on forming a revolutionary government is out of frustration in all of the country’s problems including illegal drugs, corruption, and rebellion of communist groups.

Malacañang also clarified that the President’s warning in declaring a revolutionary government is not against the public but against the government’s enemies.

“It was more of an exasperated expression and I to put on notice against the transgressors that he will not just sit idly, and watch them do their illegal things,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre Olalia said the President’s warning has no legal basis and does not follow logic.

“First of all, there is absolutely no legal, constitutional, & factual basis to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Secondly, his reaction to the cautionary criticism of the opposition is non-sequitur,” he said.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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