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By Julius N. Leonen

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives have apprehended a graft investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman and a labor arbiter in the National Labor Relations Commission for reported extortion activities.
NBI Director Dante Gierran said the two suspects, identified as senior graft investigator Leonardo Nicolas and his cousin, labor arbiter lawyer Isagani Nicolas, were arrested by the NBI Special Task Force following an entrapment operation in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
During the entrapment operation, Gierran said that the two were caught receiving entrapment money they had allegedly extorted from Pampanga Rep. Amado Espino Jr. and his son, Bugallon town Mayor Jumell Anthony Espino.
The two suspects reportedly demanded the money in exchange for the dismissal of cases against the two public officials at the Ombudsman.
Nicolas has been reportedly calling on Pangasinan’s provincial legal officer and provincial accountant “demanding sums of money for the dismissal of cases filed against Rep. Espino and his son Jumel Espino in the Office of the Ombudsman,” Gierran said.
The NBI director said that Nicolas, during a meeting with Jumel Espino and lawyer Geraldine Baniqued had demanded at least P1,350,000 as a settlement to dismiss the allegations, but the mayor rejected the offer.
During their second meeting on July 14 at the Star Plaza Hotel, Gierran said that Pangasinan provincial accountant Arturo Soriano, after receiving a call from Nicolas’ cousin Isagani, revealed that the two suspects were demanding P1 million setlement per case.
The total amount would be clocked in at P3 million for the three pending cases against Rep. Espino, wherein he can show a resolution of the cases from the Office of the Ombudsman.
Soriano, on July 19, received another call from Nicolas who insisted on his threat that the cases against them will be docketed, and the mayor will be suspended, according to Gierran.
Following Nicolas’ threat, Espino took to the NBI, in coordination with the Office of the Ombudsman, and filed a complaint against the two.
Gierran said the two suspects are now facing charges filed by Espino against them for direct bribery and robbery extortion, or violation of Article 210 and Article 293, respectively, of the Revised Penal Code.
The two are also facing a complaint filed by Espino for violation of Section 7(d) in relation to Section 11 of Republic Act 6713, or “The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”

Imee, ‘Ilocos 6’ seek TRO on House probe

Monday, 24 July 2017 00:00 Published in Headlines

 

 

By Julius N. Leonen
and Gerry Baldo

Ilocos Norte Gov Imee Marcos and the six detained provincial officials have slammed what they called a “persecutory” inquiry by the House of Representatives as they appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) to imme-diately halt the proceedings.
The House inquiry is centered on the provincial government’s alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds in its allegedly anomalous purchase of P66.45 million worth of motor vehicles.
Marcos and the six officials, dubbed the “Ilocos Six,” filed an 11-page pleading before the High Court seeking to stop what they have deemed as “not only unconsti-tutional but also persecutory” probe in Congress set to resume tomorrow.
The Ilocos Six are identified as Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Deve-lopment Office chair-person; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulayan, Provincial Treasurer’sOffice staff; Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; Genedine Jambaro, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; and Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer.

In their pleading, Marcos and the Ilocos Six have sought for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in their bid to keep the House committee on good government and public accountability from pushing through with the inquiry.
Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, former Solicitor General and their legal counsel, cited “grave and irreparable injury” on his clients should the SC fail to issue the TRO in time for the resumption of the House probe.
“Forcing Governor Marcos against her will to attend an unconstitutional inquiry devoid of any legality is an unquantifiable injury,” the motion, a copy of which was provided to the media over the weekend, stated.
“It coerces Governor Marcos to attend an inquiry led by her accuser, respondent (House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas) who has maligned and prejudged her of violation of Republic Act No 7171,” it noted.
Marcos’ camp also noted in their pleading the public pronouncements made by House committee chairman Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel who reportedly said she is already guilty of the charges against her.
“Clearly it is the height of injustice if Governor Marcos will be forced to attend a proceeding that is not only unconstitutional, but also persecutory — a proceeding that condemns rather than hears,” the motion insisted.
Marcos’ camp stressed she has “clear and unmistakable right” for issuance of the TRO even before the House could order her arrest if she fails to appear in the hearing on Tuesday.
“Respondent committee on good government need not issue an arrest order for it to commit grave abuse of discretion nor to violate petitioners’ right to liberty. This is because the inquiry has already been purged of legitimacy at its inception and through the actuation of the respondents in the subsequent hearings,” the petitioners insisted.
“Simply put, forcing Gov. Marcos against her will to attend an illegal and unconstitutional inquiry is a violation of her right to liberty.”
Pimentel had threatened Marcos to arrest and detain her in Congress if she fails to attend the inquiry. The House committee chairman even showed to the media Marcos’ possible detention room.
Marcos’ camp said their pleading was filed with the SC as a response to Fariñas’ opposition filed last July 17 against their bid to stop the House inquiry.
According to Marcos’ camp, Fariñas and Pimentel claimed that issuing the TRO against the House inquiry would violate the principle of separation of powers of the judiciary and legislative branches of the government.
In response, Marcos’ camp cited the 1935 landmark case of “Angara v Electoral Commission.”
The decision held that “when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature.”
It ruled that it “only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.”
Marcos’ camp also disputed the House leadership’s bid to junk their petition over forum shopping as there is already a habeas corpus case pending before the Court of Appeals (CA).
But it was the House leaders who defied the order of the CA when they issued the writ of habeas corpus and ordered the immediate release of the Ilocos Six.
It was also Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who threatened to file disbarment cases against the CA justices who issued the order.
Marcos’ camp insisted that there is no forum shopping as they only wanted the SC to assume jurisdiction over the same habeas corpus case at the CA, which the House had defied.
“There will be only one petition for habeas corpus, only on court hearing the petition, and only one judgment on the habeas corpus petition,” the motion stated.
“The Omnibus petition is not a new petition for habeas corpus but a petition to transfer the pending petition for habeas corpus from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court,” they stressed.
Marcos’ camp argued that the House leaders have already acknowledged that the SC has original jurisdiction on the petition for writs of habeas corpus and amparo, insisting that dismissing their petition over forum shopping is misleading.
The pleading was filed after Marcos’ camp failed to secure immediate relief from the SC last Tuesday, when three justices inhibited from the petition.
In their petitions filed last July 13, Marcos and the “Ilocos Six” asked the SC to stop the House probe and to issue the writ of amparo.
The petitioners said this is “to protect the actual and threaten violations and infringement of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person.”

 

 

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