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Friday, 23 February 2018 00:00 Published in page one

TI, AI reports fuel anti-Rody views

Friday, 23 February 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines



A day after a United States intelligence community global assessment that mentioned that President Duterte being a threat to democracy and human rights, two reports from rights advocates, Transparency International (TI) and Amnesty International (AI), were drummed up yesterday as being detrimental to President Duterte.
In the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI), the Philippines dropped by a point in its score in the 2017 global corruption rankings compared to last year but it resulted in a ten-place slide in the ranking that was mainly the result of four more countries being included in this year’s list.
Presidential spokesman coined a term for the stories that are being slanted against Mr. Duterte as “clickbaits” which he differentiated from fake news.
“Apparently, what the mainstream media reported was clickbait. It’s not fake news, because it’s true that the intelligence department said that President Duterte could declare martial law in the entire Philippines or that he could declare a revolutionary government but what was mentioned that he was labeled as a threat to democracy in Southeast Asia, that’s clickbait. It’s worthless,” Roque said referring to the twist taken by some media outlets on the US intelligence report.

The CPI showed the Philippines placed 111th out of 180 countries surveyed, with a score of 34 from 35 last year when it ranked 101st out of 176.
The report said the Philippines, India and the Maldives scored high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths.
New Zealand ranked the highest in 2017 with a score of 89, with Denmark following at 88. Meanwhile, the three countries with the lowest corruption indices are Syria (14), South Sudan (12), and Somalia (9).
According to TI’s analysis, corruption levels around the world are linked to declining freedom of expression.
“We found evidence to suggest that those countries that respect press freedom, encourage open dialog, and allow for full participation of CSOs (civil society organizations) in the public arena tend to be more successful at controlling corruption,” TI said.
Human rights watchdog group Amnesty International (AI), which is known to be highly critical of President Duterte’s war on drugs, listed Mr. Duterte among the leaders who are “callously undermining the rights of millions.”
Following the release of AI’s State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018, AI secretary general Salil Shetty said in a statement “few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times. Instead, leaders such as (Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil) al-Sisi, Duterte, (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, (US President Donald) Trump and (Chinese President) Xi (Jinping) are callously undermining the rights millions.”
AI hits strongmen leaders
“For the second consecutive year, President Duterte is identified with the worst performing leaders in terms of human rights,” Joel Noel Olano, AI Philippines head, said.
The Philippines was cited in the report for a list of supposed rights violations in the “war on drugs” and its implementation in the urban poor communities.
AI also mentioned the internal armed conflict, attacks to human rights defenders, and threats to Filipinos’ freedom of expression.
“Meaningful investigations into killings of alleged drugs offenders failed to take place; no police officers were known to have been held to account. Relatives of victims continued to be fearful of reprisals if they filed complaints against police,” AI said in its report.
It highlighted the high-profile cases of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, a teen allegedly killed in a police operation, and Jee Ick-Joo, the Korean national tortured within Camp Crame.
The detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration; the increase in arbitrary arrests and detentions; and the attempt to pass a budget of P1,000 for the Commission of Human Rights were mentioned as attacks against human rights defenders.
In terms of the persistent internal armed conflict in the country, AI said the extrajudicial killings, mass hostage-taking, and extensive looting of civilian property by militants allied with the Islamic State during the Siege of Marawi “may have amounted to war crimes.”
AI noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines vowed to probe all allegations of war crimes, amid concerns that the extension of martial law over the affected region in December may allow for “further human rights abuses.”
Alvarez urges diplomatic protest
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file a diplomatic protest against the United States for its intelligence report that listed Mr. Duterte among Southeast Asian leaders that pose a threat to democracy and human rights.
The US released the unclassified version of the report last February 12 and a PDF copy is available online.
On the contrary, Alvarez said it is the US which poses a threat to democracy because of its interference in the internal affairs and undermining the sovereignty of many countries in order to ensure its continued influence as a world power and promote its interests.
Alvarez also urged the Filipino people to unite and protect the sovereignty of the Philippines from undue interference by the US.
Despite this, Alvarez said the Philippines should continue to maintain good relations with the US but at the same time assert our sovereignty and protect our national interest.
Through the formation of an international body analogous to the United Nations composed exclusively of Asian nations, Alvarez said Asian nations can truly protect their geopolitical and economic interests.
The national interest of the Philippines would be better served by such an Asian-only international body rather than through its membership in the United Nations, according to Alvarez.
Earlier, Malacañang expressed “concern” over the US intelligence report even and disputed its assessment of President Duterte.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that Duterte is no autocrat or has autocratic tendencies, stressing that the President adheres to the rule of law and remains loyal to the constitution.
Not fake news but clickbait
“It’s not fake news, but clickbait” was how Roque described headlines of some mainstream media outlets on the report that US intelligence report that tagged Mr. Duterte as threat to democracy in Southeast Asia.
On Feb. 12, the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community released a report stating that Duterte has suggested he could suspend the Constitution and declare a revolutionary government or martial law.
Citing a Freedom House report, the US intel report also listed the Philippines as one of the governments that uses propaganda and misinformation in social media “to influence foreign and domestic audiences.”
In a phone-patch interview on Wednesday morning, Roque expressed concern on the US intel report noting that the Palace will take its concern.
However, that same afternoon, he issued a statement describing it as “myopic and speculative” after having read the report.
He clarified that he made his initial statement because he was “made to comment on clickbait.”
Roque, a human rights advocate, earlier said that he would not join Duterte’s Cabinet if the President, a lawyer himself, was a threat to human rights.
“He’s a lawyer. He knows the law. He wants to uphold the rule of law. He knows about the bill of rights. And of course I wouldn’t have joined him if he was a threat to human rights,” Roque said.


By Gerry Baldo
and Benjamin B. Pulta

Officials of the Supreme Court are going to face criminal charges if Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno does not resign by March this year, the complainant in the impeachment case against the Chief Justice warned yesterday.
Lawyer Larry Gadon also disclosed that the Office of Solicitor General Jose Calida is going to file a quo warranto proceeding against Sereno with the aim of nullifying her appointment as chief justice.
In conjunction with the move of Calida, Gadon said that he will also ask President Duterte to nullify Sereno’s appointment.
“I will ask President Duterte to nullify her (Sereno) appointment because it is tainted with fraud,” Gadon said in a media forum in Quezon City yesterday.
“The chief justice was appointed without the proper requirements. This is a very wrong precedent,” Gadon added.
Gadon insisted that Sereno skirted the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) particularly the required submission of her statement of assets and liabilities (SALN) for the past ten years prior to her nomination to the SC.
Gadon said Sereno submitted only one SALN. Sereno’s camp said she submitted three.
Gadon said that he is not abandoning the impeachment case be filed at the House of Representatives.
“I am not abandoning it. This would be a simultaneous move, based on different grounds, whichever comes first,” he said.

The cases that he is planning to file are in connection with the purchase of the Toyota Land Cruiser, the hiring of an IT consultant, the delay in the release of survivorship benefits, and the use of the presidential villa at the Shangri-la in Boracay.
In the list of those who are going to be charged in court are: Sereno; retired Deputy Court Administrator Thelma C. Bahia; Atty. Ma. Carina M. Cunanan, assistant chief, Office of Administrative Services; Atty. Corazon G. Ferrer – Flores, chief, Fiscal Management and Budget Office; and Atty. Michael B. Ocampo, Court Attorney IV, Office of the Chief Justice.
In the case of the alleged illegal hiring of an information technology consultant, those who are going to be charged are: Sereno; Deputy Court Administrator Raul Bautista Villanueva; Cunanan; Ferrer – Flores; Atty. Ma. Lourdes E.B. Oliveros, staff head, Office of tbe CJ; Ocampo; and Helen Perez – Macasaet (the IT consultant).
On the issue of survivorship benefits, those who are going to be charged are: Sereno; Atty Anna-Li R. Papa – Gombio, Attorney IV, Office of the Chief Justice; and Atty. Czarina Encarnacion Samonte – Villanueva, judicial staff head, Office of the Chief Justice.
For thw alleged illegal use of the presidential villa at the Shangri-la in Boracay, those to be charged are: Sereno; Justice Zaldy V. Trespeses, former judicial staff head, Office of the Chief Justice; and Ferrer – Flores.
Sereno’ s camp, however, described the move as a firecracker that didn’t explode.
In a statement, lawyer Josa Deinla, one of Sereno’s spokespersons, said Atty. Gadon’s ultimatum to the Chief Justice and certain court officials is just another dud.
“Once again, the Chief Justice cannot be hostaged to bombastic threats that are built entirely on lies,” Deinla said.
“This latest stunt by Atty. Gadon, the main impeachment complainant, smacks of fear and desperation, and proves that he has completely lost faith in the impeachment proceeding in the House of Representatives,” Deinla added.
She noted that the past days “we have witnessed the high-handed efforts, forum shopping and resources behind this impeachment to force the Chief Justice to step down after several months of House hearings failed to produce a solid and convincing ground that would warrant her removal from office.”
Now, Chief Justice Sereno’s detractors are expanding their weak ouster move to professional civil servants who refuse to lie and toe the line of those wishing to see the Chief Justice unjustly and unfairly removed from the Supreme Court. This deserves nothing but condemnation for using them as political tools in the impeachment.
The Chief Justice has made it clear since the beginning of this well-orchestrated but pathetic telenovela masquerading as an impeachment proceeding, that she will not resign and will continue to dispense her faithfully sworn duty under the Constitution.
We reiterate that the Chief Justice is looking forward to defend herself in the Senate when it convenes as an impeachment trial court and where, hopefully, her basic and constitutional rights will be recognized and respected.

And SC case vs Sereno develops
A newsdpaper report yesterday said that the Supreme Court had, during a Tuesday hearing decided to have Sereno to comment on its order to Sereno and officials of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to justify her eligibility for appointment to the top judicial post in 2012.
The STAR newspaper’s sources said the justices decided in session to require Sereno as well as regular members and officers of JBC during her application for the chief justice post to comment on the letter of the House of Representatives justice committee seeking “appropriate action” on the reported incomplete SALNs she had submitted to the council then.
This SC action was based on the two page letter from the House justice committee seeking answers from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) throgh the High Court, which supervises tha JBC.
Sereno, JBC members Jose Mejia and Ma. Milagros Cayosa, former members retired justices Aurora Lagman and Regino Hermosisima Jr, JBC executive officer Annaliza Capacite and former chief of office of selection and nomination, now Judge Richard Pascual.
The report said in its two-page letter that the House asked the SC justice to take “appropriate action” on the preliminary finding in the impeachment proceedings that Sereno supposedly did not comply with the 10-year SALN requirement for her chief justice application.
Among the documents forwarded to the High Court were certifications issued by the University of the Philippines and Office of the Ombudsman showing that Sereno only filed SALNs in 2009, 2010 and 2011 prior to her appointment as chief justice.


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