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Angie M. Rosales

Nancy bucks 1-year closure of Boracay

Saturday, 17 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

Sen. Nancy Binay stood in opposition to the recommendation of the interagency task force on Boracay to close the popular resort island for a period of one year, saying that such move is not the best solution.

Binay, chairman of the Senate committee on tourism, assailed the lack of any concrete and clear-cut policy and steps to be undertaken by the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Tourism (DoT).
“A one-year total closure may not be the best solution for the island and its locals,” she said.
“Although we all agree that a moratorium on building construction be imposed, and we share the same observation that overcommercialization has created a serious environmental disaster, but there’s one aspect of problem the DENR, DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and DoT are facing. The likely loss of 17,000 jobs hasn’t quite resonated that may be caused by the impact of a total closure,” Binay said.
“What’s troublesome about the DENR’s and the DoT’s recommendation is that wala silang konkretong hakbang kung ano ang gagawin sa mga madi-displace (they have no concrete solution for those who would be displaced),” the senator further said.
Binay said a phase-by-phase rehabilitation where government can strictly enforce the law and at the same time implement the needed corrective measures could be the better option for Boracay.
“We want the island to breathe the same way we want the people of Boracay to live,” she said.
Sen. JV Ejercito stood in approval of the recommendation saying that it’s worth considering.
“Boracay has been abused and exploited through the years. Boracay has to be allowed breathe, to recuperate and be allowed for its wounds to heal,” he said.
“We might as well save Boracay which is one of our country’s treasures and enjoy it longer than to see its demise if we do not do something about it,” Ejercito said.
The closure of Boracay, which has been declared in a state of calamity for six months, will begin on April 26.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the interagency task force on Boracay will recommend the closure of the island to President Duterte to give time to the national government in carrying out its undisrupted implementation of several measures that will help restore and sustain the island as a major destination.

Trillanes faces sedition raps

Friday, 16 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines


The Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office, citing “reasonable ground,” has recommended the filing of inciting to sedition charges against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and other unnamed personalities for allegedly encouraging rebellious acts through his speeches against the administration of President Duterte.
In a resolution dated March 14, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Joahna Gabatino-Lim approved the filing of the case against Trillanes for violation of inciting to sedition (Article 142, Revised Penal Code or RPC) based on the complaint filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras, who is currently a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
The inciting to sedition case with a P12,000 bail for each of the accused has been raffled to Pasay Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 45.
Trillanes, in a statement, said he is not alarmed by the possibility of being arrested anew and an eventual detention on similar charges he faced as a rebel soldier.
“If the purpose of this is to frighten me to make me back off from criticizing (President) Duterte, well as I have said beforehand, I am more motivated to stand against wrong and evil deeds,” he said in a statement.
The complaint cited the statements made by Trillanes against Mr. Duterte in his privilege speech at the Senate last Oct. 3, that the soldiers may shoot the President upon the latter’s wish if the allegations of hidden wealth would be proven.

During his privilege speech, the lawmaker also made statements about the alleged millions of pesos of ill-gotten wealth of Duterte which is bogus. This case has also been dismissed by the Ombudsman.
“Trillanes not only repeatedly uttered seditious words or speeches (Art. 142, R.P.C.) and unabatedly circulated scurrilous libels against the President (Art. 142, R.P.C.), which tend to disturb the public peace, but also repeatedly incited others to inflict any hate or revenge upon his person (Art. 142, in relation to Art. 139 (3), R.P.C.,” read the complaint.
Trillanes is insisting on the evidence consisting of bank transaction records allegedly to have been sourced from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), despite the AMLC’s disclaimer that the documents did not come from them.
The purported bank transaction documents, which Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang also claimed he is in possession of, was disavowed by the AMLC. This was deemed as falsified evidence.
The lawyers also took to task Trillanes’ record of major involvements in notable coups d’ etat during the Arroyo administration.
For his involvements in these incidents, Trillanes’ assurance that yellow-oriented the group TindigPilipinas’ nationwide signature drive calling on Duterte to sign a waiver for his bank records appear to lack credibility, the complaint stated.
Though Trillanes assured the petition-signing drive is not a destabilization attempt, the complainants said the lawmaker “lacks credibility given his record of major involvement in coups d’ etat or destabilization attempts.”
The complainants cited the senator’s record of major involvements in coups d’ etat during the Arroyo administration - Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the Marine standoff last February 2006 and the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.
Trillanes and other members of Magdalo soldiers were charged with coups d’ etat over the said incidents in court, but they were cleared after being granted amnesty by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.
Aside from Paras, the complainants include lawyers Glenn Chong, Nasser Marohomsalic, Nestor Ifurung, Eligio Mallari and Eduardo Bringas, and Louise Biraogo.
DoJ dismisses other rap
The charge of conspiracy and proposal to commit a military rebellion was, however, junked by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in its review.
“The charge for conspiracy and proposal to commit coup d’etat cannot prosper. The acts complained of do not show that respondent proposes to other persons in the commission of the crime of coup d’etat,” the DoJ resolution read.
“The utterances he made may have been suggestive to fall within the scope of inciting to sedition but it is not sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that he directly proposes to others a swift attack accompanied by violence, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth against the government,” it added.
The resolution also said that “the utterances made against the President and his family regarding bank transanctions and bank deposit in huge amounts, thereby imputing commission of graft and corruptions against them is entirely not in aid of legislation.”
“To say the least the speech is purely an attack to the President and his family. The allegations contained in the speech were not even supported by documentary proof. Worthy to note is the fact that the AMLC denied being the source of the documents and information attached by respondent in his complaint regarding the alleged bank accounts,” read the resolution approved by Officer-in-Charge City Prosecutor Benjamin Lanto.
DoJ’s Lim said that the complaint conspiracy and commit coup d’etat (Article 136, RPC), and graft (Section 3(e), Republic Act 3019) against Trillanes has been dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Ready to face accusers
Trillanes wasted no time in addressing the recommendation approving the filing of inciting to sedition charges against him stemming from his tirades against President Duterte contained in a privilege speech delivered in Oct. last year.
The senator said he is ready to face his accusers in court and defend himself for the utterances he made in a privilege speech which the complainants, lawyers affiliated with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) constitute inciting to sedition.
The specifically referred to the senator’s statement in his speech that the “military should shoot Duterte with an M-60 machine gun for his alleged hidden wealth.”
“Not like Duterte who is afraid of facing charges, I will face this. It is clear that this is crooked and was meant to pressure me which is based on a privilege speech I made at the Senate which has a constitutionally-guaranteed immunity from suit, and I never incited anybody to do anything,” he stressed.
Trillanes said in his speech, he merely challenged Duterte to prove that he is not corrupt and sign a waiver “for soldiers to finally know whether or not you have amassed ill-gotten wealth and for you to clear your name to those who still believe in you.”
“If the soldiers could see this, they will use an M-60 machine gun on you. These are many. The magazines will be emptied if you’re looking for P40 million,” the senator said.

Roque, Poe clash over fake news

Friday, 16 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday warned against the passage of the bill perceived to be singling out government officials and employees.

But Sen. Grace Poe remains adamant, saying that there are certain things expected of civil servants that are waived as they serve at the pleasure of the public.
Such were the exchanges that the public saw during the resumption of the Senate committee on public information and mass media on the matter of the proliferation of fake news.
Poe’s bill, it seemed, in perceived to be directed at those in the Executive who have been repeatedly accused peddling fake news, some of them openly admitted of committing such, the likes of Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.
At the last Senate hearing, Badoy apologized when confronted by Sen. Manny Pacquiao on her Facebook post alleging that the lawmaker has been keeping a mistress in the village where she resides in.
During the hearing, Roque expressed views that Poe’s proposed law which will criminalize fake news will be in violation of the Constitution as it would be abridging freedom of expression.
“The US Supreme Court ruled that fake news is not necessarily antithetical to freedom of expression and let me quote that even a false statement may be deemed to make a valuable contribution to public debate since it brings about the clearer perception and livelier impression of the truth produced by its collision with error. Here the emphasis is we must protect the free market place of ideas because ultimately the true test for truth is power of an idea to be accepted in the free market place of ideas, the assumption being the people can discern the truth from what is false and there’s in fact jurisprudence that the truth cannot be known without being told falsities because it’s only in the face of falsities that we can tell what the truth is,” he said.
“But beyond this theoretical framework and beyond the proscription I would say that any criminal law penalizing fake news would also suffer the infirmity of what is being called as void for vagueness.
“If we’re going to penalize fake news, who will judge what is fake news and what is news because the current framework now is it’s the public that should be allowed to decide on what is true from what is false but if you make it false then certainly a judge would have to sit in judgment and decide what is true and what is false, arrogating therefore unto itself and into the institution a matter that is better left to the public to judge for themselves,” he said.
Roque even claimed that his views on the matter is shared by the international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on freedom of expression, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Organization of the American People’s Rights.
“And they have all declared, ‘the general prohibitions on the dissemination of info based on vague and ambiguous ideas including false news or non-objective information are imprecise and incompatible with both national and international standards for valid curtailment of freedom of expression.
“Madam chair I am been a victim of fake news, it comes with a territory and we can only hope that because people were given by God the ability to discern what is true and what is false, it is ultimately the public and the free marketplace of ideas that should adjudge what the truth is and that should put ultimately the penalty on purveyors of fake news,” he said.
Poe emphasized to Roque that she’s not actually proposing a new law since there already exists, the Revised Penal Code 154 criminalizing in fact misinformation or fake news.
“Aand it’s very specific. That’s why we’re here to discuss that. If you want to discuss further for example, something pertaining to this bill, the civil service reorganization committee is the one that will handle that, not public information,” she said.
“I’m sure you believe too yourself that that, although there’s a free market of ideas, we have to endeavor to be responsible in ferreting out the truth. Do you agree sir?” she asked.
Roque insisted on his position that there is no basis for singling out only those in government in assuming liability when they spread fake news.


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