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Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales

Duterte to blame if harm befalls me —de Lima

Wednesday, 11 January 2017 00:00 Published in Headlines


Asserting that if anything happens to her, the number 1 suspect would be President Duterte, embattled Sen. Leila de Lima said as she is  now convinced to file a petition for a writ of amparo given the recent statements of Mr. Duterte which she claimed proved the threat against her life and security was serious.
De Lima noted that the “veiled threat” Mr. Duterte made in mentioning her name in passing, during Monday’s speech in which the President said “he did not order anyone to kill the senator or anyone in his war against drugs.”A writ of amparo (Spanish for protection) is a legal remedy that bars the government, particularly military officers, to issue denials during judicial proceedings on disappearances or extrajudicial executions.

“That’s the only remedy I’m thinking of at this point. This time around, since it’s a threat, I consider it a veiled threat, I’m thinking of (filing for) a writ of amparo,” she said.
Besides Duterte, the senator said she will also include among the respondents her perennial critics such as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Solicitor General Jose Calida and also the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) especially those who raised funds encouraging others to join and form a group against her.
“(This is to) to tell them to stop threatening me, to tell them to stop issuing statements that can incite people, whether their own allies, their own supporters or other elements to harm me. That is  the essence of the (writ of) amparo,” she said.
“He (Duterte) has been repeatedly saying that I’m the leading narco-politician and public enemy No. 1 (that) makes me already a fair game for sinister things. If anything happens to me, sho else will be the number 1 suspect? Nobody but him,” she said.
“And I’m making him responsible if something happens to me. Take my word or note my word: if something happens to me, he is the one responsible, directly and indirectly,” the senator satted.
The senator was referring to last Monday’s speech of the President where he reiterated that policemen should defend themselves in carrying out legitimate operations and not to obey illegal orders.
 He mentioned the name of the senator in passing, saying that he never issued any order to kill de Lima or anyone in his war against drugs.
“All of his statements related to killings are already disturbing to me. But this is doubly disturbing to me personally. I take it as a veiled threat. Why, all of a sudden he will mention my name when he talks about killings?”, she asked.
“So logically,  I am included among their targets. So I’m taking this seriously,” de Lima added.
“He said, ‘go out and hunt them, arrest them if it’s possible and if not, then if they present danger to you, puts up a violent resistance, jeopardizing your life – shoot. That has always been my order. Ask any policeman if I ordered him to kill de Lima or kill anyone’ and then there was a noted, uneasy pause. That’s disturbing to me,” the senator said.
“So is that a subconscious slip? A sort of a Freudian slip? I  know that I’m always on top of his mind. When he starts to talk about drugs, you can be sure my name will be dragged into it. But this is the first time that my name was mentioned when the topic is killings, right? So I’m taking this seriously. This is a veiled threat,” De Lima said.
Leila says mayors
should also worry
There’s also no reason for the mayors and other local officials being referred to by the President not to be worried about their well-being, given the strong pronouncements issued by Duterte, de Lima said.
“He is now threatening mayors in the so-called narco-list, so are we going to take that threat seriously? Of course,” she said.
“What else is new? It always happens that way. He issues a threat and then it becomes real? He threatened the addicts, pushers, small-time traffickers during the campaign period and then he keeps on threatening up to now and we have more than 6,000 corpses,” de Lima said.
“So it was unintentional. So since it’s some kind of a slip, then the idea that I’m part of the threat or being threatened is there, is very much in existence. The intention is there,” de Lima insisted.
 In  light of this, de Lima said she is now considering filing a petition for a writ of amparo even as her petition for the writ of habeas data is still pending before the SC.
“Although both are related (writ of habeas data) and (writ of) amparo, my petition has a different thrust. It’s about those statements about me. Now, this time around, since it’s a threat – I consider it a veiled threat – I’m thinking of writ of amparo,” she said.
  Disbarment case proceeds
The Supreme Court (SC) also took notice of the disbarment complaints against embattled Senator de Lima and ordered her to answer it.
Court spokesman Theodore Te said acting on the administrative complaint filed by lawyer Fernando Perito, the SC directed de Lima to submit her comment to the complaint-affidavit for disbarment within 10 days from her receiving the notice of the court’s resolution.
Other disbarment complaints against de Lima, which included her alleged defiance in following a SC temporary restraining order (TRO) issued November 2011 when she stopped former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo from leaving the country for medical treatment, remains pending.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Aguirre  said de Lima’s admission of a romantic affair with her former driver has strengthened the disbarment case filed against her.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), together with former NBI officials Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and whistle blower Sandra Cam, accused De Lima of gross immorality, violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility in the disbarment complaint.
Aside from allegations of benefiting from the illegal drug trade inside the Bilibid, the complainants also mentioned de Lima’s alleged illicit relationship with her former driver Ronnie Dayan.
The complaint cited the testimony of Joenel Sanchez, a former close-in aide of de Lima and a member of the Presidential Security Group, who before the Congress said he saw the two videos of de Lima when he  managed to pry into Dayan’s phone. Sanchez also described de Lima’s closeness to Dayan.
“Measured against the definition of gross immorality, we find Senator de Lima’s actions grossly immoral. Her actions were so corrupt as to approximate a criminal act, for she has a relationship with a married man, who in all appearances, was married to another and with whom he has a family. Her actions were also unprincipled and reprehensible to the highest degree,” the complaint stated.
“All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent (de Lima) was grossly imprudent in managing her personal affairs. The fact remains that her relationship with Ronnie Dayan, a married man, is grossly immoral. Worse, she never denied such relationship,” it added.
Scorned Leila
Aguirre added de Lima was retaliating when she threatened to launch a Senate probe into the alleged P50-million extortion case involving two dismissed Bureau of Immigration (BI) executives and a Chinese gaming tycoon.
De Lima, who is currently facing six criminal cases before the Department of Justice (DoJ), filed a resolution in the Senate yesterday to have the justice secretary and former BI deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles probed over an extortion scandal involving Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam.
In a media briefing yesterday, Aguirre said de Lima should just leave the case to the four investigating bodies currently probing the bribery scandal, noting that the case is already saturated. The justice secretary described the senator’s initiative to launch a Senate probe as an equivalent to “beating a dead horse.”
“There are already many investigating bodies probing it. There’s the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman. She will only add up to it,” Aguirre pointed out.
“She should just answer the cases filed against her. She doesn’t need to add up to this probe. It’s too much. It’s already saturated. She’s just beating a dead horse,” he said.
Aguirre however maintained that Senator de Lima has the right to launch a Senate probe into the alleged extortion case, provided that the investigation is in aid of legislation.
“It’s her right [to launch a probe in aid of legislation]. If it is clear that there is a need for such legislation, then what kind of legislation should be attained by launching an investigation?” Aguirre said.
“Of course, we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, that she filed this in good faith,” he said.
Dismissed BI deputy commissioners Argosino and Robles have been accused of extorting P50-million from Lam for the release of 600 of over 1,300 Chinese illegal workers detained in connection with illegal online gambling operations in Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino.
It was reported that the exchange was caught on CCTV footage at the City of Dreams in Pasay City, where the duo was seen receiving five bags of cash containing P10-million each from Lam’s middleman Wally Sombrero.
De Lima wants Trillanes
to handle probe
De Lima, however, no longer wants the blue ribbon committee to handle her proposed investigation on the Chinese gambling mogul Jack Lam’s alleged bribe try on Aguirre and another case of supposed bribery involving two Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials.
De Lima will ask to have the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganizations chaired by Sen. Antonio Trillanes take up the issue instead.
“I’m thinking of replacing the resolution that I filed directing the blue ribbon committee to look into the matter because basically what I wanted to investigate is the incident itself, the bribery scandal,” the senator said.
 “I will withdraw the resolution and replace it with a modified one, one that will follow more or less the Drilon resolution because it’s wider (in scope),” she added.
De Lima, in an interview with reporters said it has come to her attention, after she effected the filing of Resolution 258 that Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon has already filed a resolution on the same issue and it has been referred to Trillanes’ committee.
By having the same issues investigated separately by the two committees might only cause confusion as the respective panels may not have the needed focus in digging deep into the issues.
“I learned and I saw a copy of the resolution of Drilon which was earlier filed and the resolution seeks an inquiry in aid of legislation into the possible re-organization of the BI, citing this scandal,” she said.

Julius Leonen, Benjamin B. Pulta

Lacson bares ‘smoking gun’ to pin Espinosa killers

Thursday, 15 December 2016 00:00 Published in Headlines


As the Department of Justice (DoJ)  yesterday summoned  Supt. Melvin Marcos and his team who were involved in the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa while he was in his detention cell, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said evidence exists in support of earlier findings of Senate investigators on the death of  Espinosa Sr. being a premeditated act by operatives from the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) operatives who claimed they were there to serve a search warrant on the mayor  who fought them with a gun.
Lead prober Senator Lacson bared this yesterday following an “executive session” by his committee on public order and dangerous drugs on the issue of the Espinosa killing.
“The smoking gun in the legislative inquiry (in the Senate), is that their (Marcos et al.) time of entry was at 4:30 a.m. There was a call made to Soco (Scene of the Crime Operatives) at 3:49 a.m.
“The twist here, since there is a  CCTV (closed-circuit television) in the DPWH office had the time. They (Marcos team) entered at 3:05 a.m. to 3:06 a.m. But their (CIDG Region 8 chief Supt. Marvin) purpose for saying that they came in at 4:30 a.m., was to cover up the truth and instead of giving the correct time of arrival, they changed  the time. They certainly had a malevolent reason for changing the timeline.They (Marcos team) entered at 3:05 a.m. to 3:06 a.m. But their (CIDG Region 8 chief Supt. Marvin) purpose for saying that they came in at 4:30 a.m, was to cover up the truth and instead of giving the correct time of arrival , they changed  the time. They certainly had a malevolent reason for changing the timeline. They had another motive. There was no reason for the SOCO to come at  3:49 since 3:05-3:06 a.m., they (Marcos et al were already in side and killed Epsinosa.

“Remember during the last hearing, Marcos timed it at 3:05 a.m., But there was a different motive. He (Marcos) deliberately gave the time 4:30 a.m., but for another reason. But this just does not change the finding of premeditated (murder). These are also the findings of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation). These are also the our findings,” he said.
Lacson was referring to the circumstances leading to the death of Espinosa who was then detained at the Baybay provincial jail but was reported by an informant to CIDG to be allegedly keeping a gun in his cell which led the law enforcers to seek for the issuance and eventually, the serving of a search warrant on him.
Allegedly, Espinosa, father of suspected big-time drug lord in Eastern Visayas, Kerwin Espinosa, put up a fight which prompted the policemen to fire back at him.
It is not conclusive who confiscated the CCTV recordings in the Baybay police station. But who benefits when the CCTV is lost if not those who would be incriminated,  Lacson said in an interview with reporters.
But the senator revealed that a nearby establishment that has CCTV captured the incident, the time when the group arrived.
“There is new  information. We have to wait for the information,” he stresed.
When asked if Lacson could consider the Espinosa killing as a rubout, he answered in the affirmative.
Lacson explained the need to conduct an closed-door session attended by NBI, PNP officials as well as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II saying that there are some classified matters that need to be discussed and clarified by the his committee investigating the Espinosa case in joint with the committee on justice and human rights chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon.
“We’re wrapping up the legislative inquiry so we can now start preparing the committee report and report it out on the floor this coming January,” he said.
“We submit to the NBI, since its investigation is  exhaustive and more complete but just the same the conclusions are the same,”  he said.
DoJ summons out
Police officials behind the cold-blooded murder of Mayor Espinosa and another inmate inside a Baybay, Leyte jail has been formally asked by the Department of Justice to appear before prosecutors next week.
Subpoenae were issued the policemen to answer the multiple murder and perjury complaints filed against them by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the deaths of Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap inside the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City last November 5.
The  subpoenae were sent to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame which required the respondents led by Supt. Marvin Marcos, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 (PNP-CIDG 8) to appear during the preliminary investigation of the case and answer the complaints against them. The five-member panel of prosecutors, chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo  set the preliminary investigation on December 20, 2016 and January 8, 2017, 10am, at the DoJ Multi-purpose Hall.
The complaint was filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after its investigation showed that  Espinosa and Yap were summarily executed.
Aside from Marcos, other respondents in the complaint were  Chief Inspector Leo Daio Laraga; Senior Inspector (SI) Deogracia Pedong Diaz; SI Fritz Bioco Blanco; SPO4 Juanito Ampado Duarte; SPO4
Melvin Mendoza Caboyit; SPO4 Eric Palattao Constantino; SPO2 Benjamin Layague Dacallos; SPO2 Alphinor Milla Serrano, Jr.; PO3 Johnny Abuda  Ibanez; PO3 Norman Tiu Abellanosa; PO2 Niel Patrimonio Centino; PO1 Bernard Rodriguez Orpilla; PO3 Lloyd Ortinez Ortiguesa; PO1 Jerlan Sadia Cabiyaan; Cristal Jane Briones Gisma; Divine Grace Baclas Songalia, all assigned at PNP-CIDG 8; as well as Chief Inspector Calixto Cabardo Canillas, Jr.; Inspector Lucresito Adana Candelosas; SPO2 Antonio Romangca Docil; SPO1 Mark Christian Castillo Cadilo; PO2 John Ruel Baldevia Doculan; and PO2 Jaime Pacuan Bacsal, all assigned at Regional Maritime Unit 8.
Laraga, Abellanosa and Paul Olendan are facing separate complaint for perjury.
The NBI said Espinosa and Yap were killed in a rub-out and not a shootout as claimed by the policemen who conducted the raid on their prison cell.“There was unison in their purpose and action, signifying that they were all moved by a single criminal intent,” the NBI said.The respondents had claimed Espinosa and Yap were in possession of firearms and refused to allow the raiding team to search their cell.

Leila faces criminal raps in DoJ

Wednesday, 14 December 2016 00:00 Published in Headlines

For all her rants of the allegations against her being a farce, and that the Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano has no evidence to back up allegations against her, the first of perhaps a number of criminal cases she has to eventually face has been filed on the issue of obstruction of justice.

House of Representatives leaders yesterday trooped to the DoJ and filed a criminal complaint against Sen. Leila de Lima for snubbing the lower’s house’s summons on her during a legislative inquiry into the alleged protection racket for drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when de Lima was still secretary of justice. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, along with other congressmen, filed the complaint against de Lima for ignoring the summons issued by Congress and for ordering her admitted lover, Ronnie Dayan, to do the same.

House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and House committee on justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali joined in signing the charges against de Lima for violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code for disobedience to summons issued by the national assembly, its committee or subcommittees.
The senator was invited to attend the congressional inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP in September 20 and 21 and October 5 and 6.
“Respondent opted to ignore all invitations and failed to attend any of the hearings conducted by the committee,” the complaint stated.
“Worse, respondent even insulted the House of Representative by calling its committee a kangaroo court/committee and its proceedings a sham.”
A subpoena was also issued to Dayan but it was also ignored. Then, in October 6, after failing to attend the hearing, a show cause order was issued ordering Dayan to explain why he should not be cited for contempt.
In October 10, for issuing the order, he was ordered arrested by Congress.
After Dayan’s arrest, the congressional inquiry was reopened last month. During the hearing, it was revealed that de Lima instructed Dayan not to appear in Congress. The senator gave the instruction through a text message to Dayan’s daughter.
“As an incumbent senator, former Secretary of Justice and a lawyer, advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend the House inquiry for which he was duly summoned is tantamount to inducing disobedience to summons issued by Congress of which she is a sitting member,” the complaint stated.
Violation of Article 150 has a penalty of arresto mayor or one month and 1 day up to six months of imprisonment or a fine ranging from P200 to P1,000 or both (fine and imprisonment).
The House filed a case against de Lima before the Senate Ethics committee on the same charges, although the senator cannot be charged in the Senate committee for the alleged drug protection racket in which she wa allegedly involved, as this occurred during her stint as Justice chief and not as a senator.
However, a criminal case against de Lima had already been filed regarding the drug protection racket in which de Lima has been named as having received drug money, as testified by man NBP prisoners, as well as the self-admitted drug lord, Kerwin Espinosa who testified before the Senate that he had given Dayan, who was also the collector of drug money for de Lima for her campaign kitty. Dayan confirmed this also at the Senate hearing.
Leila slams case filed in ethics panel
De Lima yesterday slammed the filing of the ethics complaint against her by leaders of the House, saying that the move is just an attempt to save face for their failure to pin her on alleged drug links in their probe in the lower house.
The inquiry on the alleged continuing drug trade inside the NBP was exposed as a farce, which is always what she claims.
“As I have repeatedly said, the first casualty of the administration’s ‘war on drugs’ is the truth. And it seems those in power are determined to do everything they can to accomplish their personal and political agendas. Little do they know that the public is slowly beginning to realize who are responsible for the real crisis our nation is facing, because they have no real accomplishments to show after six months in power,” she said in a statement.
However, de Lima has failed to substantiate her claim that “the public” realizes who is responsible for the real crisis the nation faces, as President Duterte remains very popular still.
“As former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair and justice secretary and now as a senator, I will never break my oath as a public servant. Despite the attacks against me, my honor and integrity as a woman and as a public official remains intact,” de Lima added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Frank Drilon, an ally of de Lima and party mate in the Liberal Party (LP) said the matter of whether his colleague received drug money as alleged in the House inquiry, is best settled before the courts, not the Senate ethics committee.
Such issue being leveled at de Lima are alleged acts committed long before she became a senator.
Drilon, however, admitted that it is unavoidable in an open society to encounter such a case as that of de Lima being politically harassed by critics.
“When we go to the real McCoy of issues, these must be simply decided on whether or not she violated our ethical conduct,” he said.
Drilon said the case filed against de Lima by the House leadership will have to be deliberated upon first, whether the ethics and privileges committee has jurisdiction over the issue.
“After we have decided on that, we ask the respondent to file the answer to the complaint. After that we hold hearings, and let me highlight the fact that the Senate ethics committee hearings - unlike any other committee hearings in the Senate hearings - are adversarial hearings,” he said.
“Adversarial means that the process goes like in a court, where you question and answer, and a cross examination, because this already involves the integrity of a member of the Senate, and therefore he or she must be given every opportunity to hear his side, as contrasted to all other hearings which are in aid of legislation in which we only want to draw the answer we can use either in crafting legislation or amending an existing law. But not in the ethics committee since it is like a proceeding in court, though not as strict as the Rules of Court. But due process is strictly observed, since the ethics case is no longer a matter of writing or amending a law, but whether a member of the Senate should be disciplined,” Drilon explained.
Ironic it may seem that while charges against de Lima appear to be now piling up, the senator was given a recognition for “standing up to an extremist leader.”
De Lima was commended for her efforts in investigating the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country and honored as one of the 13 global thinkers in the “Challengers” category under the 100 leading global thinkers for this year by Foreign Policy magazine in Washington D.C.
“Since taking office in June, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has waged a brutal war on drugs. Thousands of alleged traffickers, dealers, and users have been executed by state forces or pro-government vigilantes,” the citation said.
“In response, Sen. Leila de Lima has been a steadfast advocate for the rule of law. As the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, she spearheaded an investigation into the extrajudicial killings—work that landed her firmly in Duterte’s crosshairs,” it added.
The Foreign Policy magazine also cited how De Lima has bravely refused to be silenced by the blatant and incessant attacks by President Duterte’s allies as she stood her ground and vowed for her innocence against trumped-up charges leveled against her.
“President Duterte’s loyalists accused de Lima of being involved in the drug trade and ousted her as head of the investigation in September. That didn’t silence her, though. She called on the United Nations to examine the violence, arguing that Manila isn’t equipped ‘to serve complete justice to the victims’,” the citation noted.
Leila blast Gordon
De Lima yesterday also lashed back at Sen. Richard Gordon for his committee report on the Senate’s probe on extrajudicial killings, that among others, targeted her and another colleague, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
De Lima said the committee report No. 18 of the justice and human rights panel chaired by Gordon was about libeling, attacking and pillorying her and Trillanes who dared come out with guns blazing against the President as the inducer of the alleged ongoing EJKs in the country.
The neophyte lawmaker took offense at Gordon in his taking an issue on her and Trillanes’ alleged unparliamentary behavior in one of the public hearings of the said committee.
More importantly, she said in her “dissenting report”, the panel report is aimed at exonerating President Duterte and the administration from any involvement in the bloody drug war.
“Much has been seen and said in the media about the high drama of Gordon’s wounded pride and indignant defense of his honor. It does not deserve any further treatment in this dissenting report other than as a personal manifesto of similar indignation against the use of a committee report and committee proceedings to attack two senators of the Republic for the simple reason that they were making up a cover-up and whitewash of the investigation difficult to accomplish, what with all their noise and protestations against a railroading chair,” she said in her 151-page report with 250 pages of annexes.
“The Gordon Report makes it official and calls on the Senate to hold de Lima and Trillanes accountable for their actions in order to preserve the integrity of the Senate. Be that as it may, after the House inquiry, we welcome another opportunity for persecution by the President’s men in the Senate, encouraged by the saying that the tree that bears most fruit is the tree that gets most stoned.
“If the stoning of de Lima is to find its sequel in the Senate, if it has not yet started in another hearing that featured a certain Kerwin Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan, so be it. The President’s men will find this woman standing her ground, fighting an old world of men regurgitated from not so distant past, struggling to clamber up the throat of history for one last gasp of tyranny over truth,” she added.
In filing her dissenting report, De Lima said it seeks to provide an alternative analysis of the facts presented and the conclusions deduced there from based on applicable laws and rules.
“The objective is to present to the Senate and, ultimately, to the Filipino people what this Representation honestly believes to be the just conclusions and proper courses on the issues at hand” she added.
De Lima said the Senate probe failed on several grounds, notably on its refusal to hear the testimonies of EJK witnesses of the Commission on Human Rights, its premature termination, its failure to weigh in the testimonies of Senate witness Edgar Matobato, among others.
“Due to the premature and abrupt termination of the Senate investigation, no comprehensive, in-depth gathering, and assessment of the evidence was done by the Committee. Instead, what came out was a virtual whitewash designed to absolve the national leadership as led by the President,” she said.
“The unreasonable exclusion of important witnesses had precluded a thorough and intensive treatment of the subject of EJKs,” she added, mindful that Matobato’s testimony laid the foundation into explaining the national phenomenon of state-sponsored EJKs


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