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SC upholds quo warranto ruling, voids Sereno’s appointment as chief justice

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

 

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, June 19, denied with finality Maria Lourdes Sereno’s motion for reconsideration for SC to overturn its ruling on the petition against her appointment as chief justice.

In a full court session, the SC upheld its decision on the quo warranto petition of Solicitor General Jose Calida which nullified the appointment of Sereno as the top magistrate of the country.

On May 11 in a special en banc session, the magistrates voted 8-6 to declare Sereno’s appointment as invalid.

In today’s notice, the SC announced the start of the 90-day period for filling the vacancy of the Office of the Chief Justice.

The Judicial Bar Council (JBC) as it announced earlier, is expected to open its nominations for the next chief justice as the SC ruling on the quo warranto has now become final. – UNTV News & Rescue

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SC permanently bans cutting of trees in Baguio City

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019

Kennon Road in Baguio City

The Supreme Court has released its decision on Wednesday (April 10) to make permanent the temporary restraining order it issued on March 24, 2015 that restricted the cutting of trees along Luneta Hill for the expansion of a mall in the city.

“The permanent status of the temporary restraining order is without prejudice to the filing of an application of environmental compliance certificate in accordance with existing laws and regulations,” said SC Public Information Office Chief Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka.

The petitioners against the cutting of the trees in the city, however, were not satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision, saying that the number of trees they were fighting for to save has now dwindled into half.

Glo Abaeo, former President of Cordillera Global Network said over a phone interview that it was a bittersweet victory for them, “because after 7 years ng ipinaglalaban namin, may magandang resulta pero ayun nga naputol na iyong karamihan ng kahoy doon. So from 182, na pinoprotesta namin noon I think 100 or more na yata ang naputol [because after 7 years that we have been fighting, we got good results, but still, many trees had been cut down. So from 182 that we are proresting (to be protected), I think 100 or more were cut down].”

Karlo Altomonte, Spokesperson of Save 182, on the other hand, said, “too late ang lumabas na desisyon. Pero napigilan sana natin yung panggagahasa sa kalikasan ng baguio kung umaksyion ang local government [the decision came too late. But we could have prevented the ravaging of the natural resources of Baguio (City) had the local government acted against it].”

In 2018, the Baguio City Local Government released the guidelines on issuing permits to business establishments about cutting trees.

The guidelines said exceptions on the ban to cut trees include trees that will put establishments and passers-by in danger, such as trees that have been rendered weak by infestation and trees that are already dead.  – Maris Federez (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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Petition seeking wage increase for gov’t workers filed at SC

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2019

 House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr files a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to compel Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to implement the fourth tranche of salary increase for government workers.

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. filed a petition at the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday (January 14) asking the high tribunal to order Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to implement the fourth tranche of salary increase for government workers.

“Huwag niyang gagawing dahilan ang reenacted budget dahil mayroon namang mga alituntunin na nakapaloob sa kaniyang departamento na para ibigay ito,” Andaya said.

“Nakakahiya naman na iyong bayad sa daang bilyong utang natin nababayaran natin kahit walang bagong budget. Ito pa kayang katiting lang,” he added.

According to Andaya, the P40 billion needed fund can be spliced from the P75 billion miscellaneous personnel benefits fund (MPBF).

Meanwhile, Diokno welcomed Andaya’s petition.

He said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is preparing its comments on the filed petition.

However, Diokno insisted that the reason for the delay in the salary increase was mainly because of the delays in the passage of the 2019 national budget.

“We welcome the petition of mandamus filed by Rep. Andaya at the Supreme Court, so that this issue will be settled once and for all,” Diokno said.

“Mayroon pong tinatawag na diskresyon o constitutional prerogative ang Kongreso kung kailan niya ipapasa ang budget. Hindi po iyan sa dikta ni Sec. Diokno pero siya meron siyang legal duty. Wala siyang diskresyon,” Andaya argued. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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REPASO 2018: The year of power struggle: Who’s in, who’s out?

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

(L-R) House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

Tension filled the House of Representatives hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s third state of the nation address (SONA) on July 23.

Several members of the House wanted the ouster of then House Speaker and Davao Del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez to give way to Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

Later on, the microphones at the podium went off preventing Arroyo allies to speak. The HOR’s mace or the official seal was also nowhere to be found.

But nothing could stop the pro-Arroyo lawmakers as they held their own voting and elected Arroyo as the new Speaker of the House.

The commotion delayed the President’s SONA for an hour tagging Arroyo as ‘scene-stealer’ and ‘attention grabber’.

The President’s SONA went on with Alvarez still the House Speaker alongside the Senate President at the podium.

The SONA went smooth as if nothing happened but after the President left the Lower House, over 200 congressmen resumed an extended session to formalize the voting.

184 congressmen voted ‘yes’ to Arroyo while 12 abstained.

“There are no rules being followed, walang saysay ito,” argued Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Minutes later, Arroyo sworn into office.

 

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (right, wearing pink) being sworn into office by Ang Kabuhayan Rep. Dennis Laogan

But the drama did not end there because what followed next was dubbed as the ‘House Minority squabble’.

Most members of the House opposed Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez to be the House Minority leader as he was among the ‘front runners’ of the Arroyo-for-Speaker move.

“This will be a clear culpable grave abuse of discretion on the part of the leadership of the house to recognize Danny Suarez as a minority leader because it would be and admission by the leadership that they conspired with the minority to over throw Alvarez,” argued then House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rudy Fariñas during the House chaos on July 23.

“Kapag ang pumili at bumasbas sa minority ay majority, ano ang maaasahan natin dito hindi tunay na oposisyon. Sabi nga company union,” said ACT Teachers Party list Rep. Antonio Tinio on August 7.

“We need to take it to the Supreme Court para may stability rin para sa House. Nakakahiya para sa ating kongreso na ang minority leader ay in-appoint ng majority,” argued Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo on August 7.

But in the end, Suarez prevailed and the House leadership approved him as the House Minority Leader.

Arroyo allies were criticized for being ‘power grabber.’

“Nakakahiya na pinapakita natin sa lahat na iyong pag-wrestle ng power, parang in full public view,” expressed Vice President Leni Robredo.

But still, the lawmakers maintained that Arroyo’s and Suarez’s position were in accordance with the law.

“There is nothing to correct we stand by our position that the proceedings yesterday were valid, legal and binding, period,” maintained Former Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles on July 24.

After a week, Arroyo and Alvarez had a one-on-one talk to iron out things between them. Arroyo, however, refused to give details on what transpired in the meeting.

When asked about the alleged power struggle, Alvarez said he already moved on.

“Okay naman ako sinabi ko nga ako the pain lasted for only 24 hours after that wala na,” he said in an interview on August 2.

Malacañang, meanwhile, clarified that President Duterte has nothing to do with the squabble in the HOR as the decision has been made purely by the congressmen.

Similar to the Lower House, the Senate of the Philippines also made a sudden turnover of leadership.

Sixteen senators voted to name Senator Vicente Sotto III as the new Senate President in lieu of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.

In an unusual move, Senator Pimentel himself nominated Sotto for the position.

Pimentel said he decided to step down to prepare for his bid in the 2019 elections but reports said the main reason was Pimentel’s inaction on some priority bills such as the Duterte administration’s tax reform and the revival of death penalty.

On December 11, the Lower House passed the proposed Charter change but the Senate remains cold on the matter.

The Supreme Court also had its twists and turn when former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted via quo warranto plea filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Calida argued that Sereno failed to submit her Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN) required of a government official. Without this, Calida m, Sereno’s appointment as chief justice was invalid.

Eight magistrates voted for Sereno’s ouster while six opposed.

Justice Teresita De Castro took over the SC and was named the first (official) woman and the shortest serving chief justice in the country.

De Castro retired after six months in office and was replaced by Justice Lucas Bersamin. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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