Sotto reveals similarities in Bikoy’s claims in 2016, 2019

Maris Federez   •   May 8, 2019   •   2543

Senate President Vicente Sotto III revealed on Wednesday that Patrick Joemel Advincula had gone to his office in 2016 to give information against Former President Benigno Aquino III and his then cabinet members.

Sotto presented a matrix of Advincula’s separate sworn statements when he went to his office in 2016 and when he went to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on May 6.

Based on his statement in 2016, Advincula implicated Aquino and several cabinet members in illegal drugs trade.

“Doon sa mga patron na sinasabi niya, makikita ninyo listahan na may mga code, code pa sýa [The patrons he was referring to, you would see a list that has codes]. In the list, Elizalde Co, former President Benigno Aquino, former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, former DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, Teresita Raniola, Congressman Fernando Gonzales, Congressman Luis Villafuerte at [and] Thomas Enrile.  Ito ‘yung mga patron ng Quadrangle Syndicate [These are the patrons of Quadrangle Syndicate],” Sotto said.

According to the Senate president, several names mentioned in Advincula’s statement in 2016 were also mentioned in his statement at the IBP.

Sotto, however, added that this time, it was former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, Attorney Manases Carpio and former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go whom Advincula was prominently implicating to the narcotics trade.

Sotto also said that back in 2016, his office even checked the bank account that Advincula claimed was where the syndicate deposited drug money, which the bank then vehemently denied.

The senator added that Advincula changed his statement when his staff questioned him about the bank’s denial of the account.

“Ang kwento niya, pasensya na, Sir, naglihim ako sa  inyo at natatakot na rin ako sa seguridad ko. Di ko sa iyo sinabi noong una ang tunay na strategies nila sa pagdeposit ng pera sa China. Malinis ang sindikato dito. Ang lahat ng deposit account nila ay QNBC,” according to Hutch Altavas, Senator Sotto’s political assistant.

The senator added, “yung QNBC, yung dinescribe niya, pinatanong namin. Ang sabi Quill Net Banking Corporations ng HSBC. Tinanong ko rin yung sa HSBC yun, sabi niya theres no such thing.”

Sotto said this was why his office did not take Advincula’s claim seriously.

The senator even said that Alias Bikoy’s latest claim has now, for him, become dubious as he just changed some details from his 2016 story.

“So perhaps the best thing again to learn from this lesson, perhaps a good lesson to IBP and religious sector na huwag basta basta ika nga e patol nang patol sa mga ito,” the Senate President said. – Maris Federez

Lacson tells IBP Anti-Terrorism Council has no judicial power; bill will combat terrorism in ‘swift, constitutional manner’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has clarified the “misconceptions” of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) about the controversial proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Lacson said the measure aims to combat terrorism in a “swift, effective, and constitutional” manner.

In a letter-reply to IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa, Lacson addressed the IBP’s concerns about the provisions of the bill, including the establishment of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

“The Anti-Terrorism Bill speaks clear of our swift, effective, and constitutional policy against these acts of terror and against no one else but its perpetrators,” he said.

Lacson, who authored and sponsored the bill, also pointed out in his letter-reply that arrests cannot be made based on mere suspicion alone.

Lacson said the legislative intent was to allow warrantless arrests based on Rule 113, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Court. The Senate deliberations of the bill never showed any intention to add another element to an arrest without warrant.

Hence, a warrantless arrest remains valid only in the following cases: (a) when the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) when an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) when the person to be arrested is an escaped prisoner.

He also noted in his letter-reply that “the authority in writing does not pertain to an order of arrest.”

“The ‘written authorization’ of the ATC is intended to be issued to duly designated deputies, i.e., law enforcement agents or military personnel specially tasked and trained to handle the custodial investigation involving violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as proposed, considering the complexities and nature of terrorism,” he said.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense and security, added that Section 29 is premised on a valid arrest without warrant that complies with Section 5 of Rule 113, meaning the arrest is “immediate in nature.”

“With this, it is illogical and impractical that the ATC will issue an order of arrest to a law enforcement officer who is already authorized to conduct warrantless arrest under the Revised Rules of Court,” he said.

“Thus, I wish to overemphasize this to clarify all misconceptions on the alleged expansion of coercive power of ATC: ATC has no power to order an arrest.”

He also emphasized that the ATC has no authority to determine the period of detention in the case of warrantless arrest and decide on its extension.

“If the ATC has no authority to order the arrest, much more does it have the authority to determine the period of detention of the person arrested,” he said.

He likewise stressed that the proposed period of detention of up to 14 days and its extension by another 10 days is to be treated as a policy decision of Congress “after considering the unique nature and effects of the crime of terrorism as thoroughly explained during our public hearings and in plenary session.”

Still, he said, the determination of extending the suspect’s detention for another ten days “remains with the courts.”

He also maintained that the proposed 14-day period of detention of suspected terrorists is “reasonable and sufficient” especially in events similar to the Marawi Siege, the 9/11 suicide bombings, and the gruesome beheading of people by ISIS.

“We need not wait for similar events to occur before we realize that a three-day investigation is not enough,” he said.

The senator also said the bill does not authorize law enforcers to arrest, conduct surveillance or restrict travel, adding that the Anti-Money Laundering Council may issue a freeze order toward the property and funds of a designated terrorist.

Lacson also said that Section 45 of the bill is unequivocal in saying that “nowhere herein shall be interpreted to empower the ATC to exercise any judicial or quasi-judicial power or authority.”

“To properly interpret the nature of the power of the ATC, it would be erroneous, if not careless to rely on reading Section 29 alone. The rule on statutory construction says that the law must not be read in truancy parts, rather, its provisions must be read in relation to the whole law,” he said.

He stressed the power of the ATC to designate in Section 25 is not judicial in nature, but is an executive and administrative process, to impose targeted financial sanctions pursuant to the framework under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1371.

“Arrests, detention, and the limitation on travel are not the intended consequences of designation,” he noted.

“Let me reiterate that designation is a preventive measure intended to trigger the issuance of a freeze order to prevent designated terrorists from accessing funds that can be used to carry out a terrorist attack,” he added.

“I hope that this letter was able to shed light on the legislative intent with respect to some of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill that are being subjected to wrongful interpretations and misconceptions,” Lacson said.

The senator sent the letter in response to the IBP’s warning against possible “constitutional infirmities” in the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill.

IBP offers free legal aid amid COVID-19 community quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has offered to provide free online legal assistance to the public amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post on Monday, the national organization of lawyers said it will give free legal advice to those who have concerns related to the enforcement of the community quarantine.

“Kabilang nito ang mga katanungan na may kinalaman sa pag-aresto kaugnay ng curfew, diskirminasyon sa mga health workers, at iba pa,” the IBP said.

The agency said questions and messages may be sent to its official Facebook page at 𝗳b.𝗰𝗼𝗺/𝗜𝗕𝗣𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗟𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗔𝗶𝗱 or via email at 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗱@𝗶𝗯𝗽.𝗽h or via text 𝟬𝟵𝟬𝟲𝟬𝟳𝟵𝟵𝟮𝟮𝟲 (Atty. Eric C. Alajar).

The IBP earlier called out undue discrimination against medical personnel and other workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight, as well as individuals who showed symptoms and tested positive for the virus.

It urged the public not to succumb to fear that diminishes humanity, and to show support for the victims and frontliners amid the public health crisis.

“Precautionary measures are understandable and desirable but they should remain reasonable and within the bounds of law,” IBP National President Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa said in a separate statement.

The Magna Carta of Patient’s Rights and Obligations, Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, and other laws or regulations remain effective and must temper and guide the actions and initiatives of everyone,” he added.

Legislative holds special session tomorrow

UNTV News   •   March 20, 2020

RESPONSE OF SEN. BONG GO

Re: Schedule of Special Session

I was informed by the Senate President that we are ready to hold the Special Session tomorrow at 2pm. The House of Representatives, through Speaker Alan Cayetano, confirmed that they are ready as well.

I was informed that the Office of the President will transmit to the legislators the proposed budget being requested, the proposed powers and authority needed for it to be utilized efficiently by the agencies, and other proposals, particularly for granting additional food and cash assistance to affected Filipinos, especially those belonging to the vulnerable sectors.

According to the Office of the President, the Presidential Proclamation to be released will call for a Special Session anytime from March 21 to 23. However, the Legislative branch will try to finish it tomorrow night given the urgency of the situation.

As a legislator, I am ready to attend. Both Houses of Congress should make sure that proper safeguards will be in place in the conduct of the Special Session in compliance with the President’s orders to exercise social distancing measures. The government as a whole shall continue to do its job in a manner that will not put the health of others at risk.

Sa panahon ng krisis, hindi pwedeng ipagpaliban ang tulong sa kapwa Pilipino, tuloy-tuloy tayong magseserbisyo.

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