Usec. Villar inhibits from review of water deals

Maris Federez   •   December 13, 2019   •   671

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar will not be joining the team that will review the contract entered into by the government with Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services through state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 1997.

Villar on Friday (December 13) inhibited herself to dispel doubts and suspicions on the review to be conducted and the renegotiation of the government with the two water concessionaires.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he was the one who requested Villar to inhibit from the review although he deemed it unfair that the official is being subjected to allegations of conflict of interest.

“I requested Usec. Villar to inhibit herself to dispel suspicions that the DOJ contract review may not be completely objective due to an alleged possible conflict of interest. It’s unfair to Usec Villar who has always acted with professionality, but the circumstances call for it.,” Guevarra told reporters.

Guevarra reiterated that any lawyer who would look into the contract between the MWSS and the two water concessionaires would come to the same findings and conclusion — that the deal had been onerous for the government and the public.

Villar, a former Diwa Party-list representative and daughter of former national police chief Edgar Aglipay, is the wife of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. Villar’s family runs Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. — /mbmf

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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