Revised water concession deal out before year-end – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019   •   369

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)

DOJ hopes SC will rule on merit, not personalities behind petitions vs anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday expressed hope that the Supreme Court will resolve the questions on the legality of Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 based on the merits, and not the number and personalities behind lawsuits.

“All these petitions, no matter how many they are, will boil down to a common set of constitutional issues. The Supreme Court will resolve these issues on the merits of the arguments advanced by the parties concerned, and not on the basis of their number or personal or professional stature,” Guevarra said.

At least 16 petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court against the controversial measure which came into effect this month.

Among those who questioned the validity of the law were law professors and former officials of the Executive branch and retired Supreme Court Justices.

The petitioners questioned the vague and broad provisions of the law that may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and malicious prosecution of innocent people.

Petitioners also urged the high court to declare the entire law unconstitutional and to stop its implementation.

DOJ maintains rule of law fairly applied to all quarantine violators

Marje Pelayo   •   July 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains that the law is being fairly implemented and uniformly enforced on all quarantine violators.

This was in response to critics accusing the agency of favoring personalities such as Senator Koko Pimentel who visited Makati Medical Center in March despite being positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), thereby exposing hospital staff and other patients to infection. 

Another controversial violation was the gathering of staffers during the birthday party of National Capital Region (NCR) Police Office Chief Debold Sinas where a number of violations were identified. 

But up to now, Sinas remains in position. 

In comparison to their cases, local government units (LGUs) have been more strict when it comes to apprehending ordinary residents over protocol violations. 

To date, over 200,000 quarantine violators have bee arrested, some even detained by authorities. 

In defense, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra denied any inconsistencies or variation in the implementation of the law whether against people of status or ordinary residents. 

“I wouldn’t really say that there is an inconsistent application of the rule of law it just so happened that a greater number of those arrested came from the lower income groups,” Guevarra said.

“And that’s simply because they are the ones who were caught on the streets and for that reason since they have been found or at the time of their arrest were found to be violating certain quarantine rules and regulations kaya sila marami ,” he added.

In fact, Guevarra said, authorities are now investigating the incidents involving Pimentel and Sinas. He added that charges have been filed against several policemen who themselves violated quarantine protocols. 

“So it’s really a matter of perception but kasi greater number yung mga tao na masasabi na nasa lower income level yung tinatawag nating mga mahihirap na nahuhuli sa mga violations,” the Justice Secretary said. 

“But it doesn’t mean at all that there is an unfair application of the law. We apply this as uniformly as possible,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

NBI recommends filing of raps vs Jolo cops involved in killing of soldiers

Robie de Guzman   •   July 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Tuesday recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the filing of complaints against police officers involved in the killing of four soldiers in Jolo, Sulu in late June.

In its report to the DOJ, the NBI recommended the filing of four counts of murder and planting of evidence against the following cops:

  • PSMS Abdelzhimar Padjiri
  • Police Master Sergeant Hanie Baddiri
  • P/Staff Sergeant Iskandar Susulan
  • PSSg Erniskar Sappal
  • PCorporal Sulki Andaki
  • Patrolman Mohammad Nur Pasani
  • PSSg Almudzrin Hadjaruddin
  • Patrolman Alkajal Mandangan
  • Patrolman Rajiv Putalan

The NBI also recommended the filing of neglect of duty charges against three police officials:

  • Sulu Provincial Police director P/Colonel Michael Bayawan Jr.
  • Jolo Municipal Police Station chief P/Major Water Annayo
  • Sulu Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit chief P/Captain Ariel Corcino

The shooting incident happened on June 29. Four soldiers were said to be tailing alleged suicide bombers when they were supposedly accosted by nine cops.

Despite identifying themselves as members of the military, they were instructed by the policemen to proceed to the police station for the verification of their identities.

Police spot report stated that the shooting incident transpired when the soldiers allegedly tried to escape and pointed their weapons at the police officers, which allegedly prompted the cops to open fire.

The NBI was tasked to investigate the incident as both agreed by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The DOJ said the complaints will be elevated to the court once it has found a probable cause. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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