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Angie M. Rosales

JPE blocks CoA, CSC execs’, 5 diplomats’ appointments

Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00 Published in Headlines

Invoking Section 20 of the Commission on Appointments (CA) rules, Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday blocked  the appointments of commissioners of Commission on Audit (CoA) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) and five ambassadors.
Enrile, explaining his use of Section 20, said the next President should not be deprived of  appointing foreign service executives who will represent him or her in other countries.
“Ambassadors deployed abroad are representatives of the President. It will be unfair to the next President if these people are appointed by the outgoing President,” Enrile told reporters.
“Three years tenure, you deprive the President of selecting the people whom  he would want to represent him. Okay?” he added.
Section 20 of CA Rules, or the one-person veto, was invoked against CoA commissioner Isabel Dasalla Agito and CSC commissioner Nieves Osorio.
Enrile also applied the same rule against the ad interim appointments of diplomats Charles Jose, Dennis Lepatan, Celia Anna Feria, Uriel Norman Garibay, and Lilybeth Deapera.
The CA, meanwhile, confirmed the appointments of 28 generals and senior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Jose, the former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman, was appointed Ambassador to Malaysia; Lepatan, Ambassador to the  Kingdom of Norway with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Iceland, the Republic of Finland and Kingdom of Sweden; Feria, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain with concurrent jurisdiction over the Principality of Andorra; Garibay, Ambassador to the Republic of Kenya with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Burundi, Union of the Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Malawi, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of Seychelles, Federal Republic of Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Uganda, Republic of South Sudan, and as Permanent Representative to the United Nation Environmental Program (UNEP) and United Nation Human Settlement Program (Uni-Habitat); and Deapera, Ambassador to the Republic of Chile with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Peru and the Republic of Ecuador.
Congress officially adjourns session tomorrow in preparation for the May 2016 general elections and will return on May 23 and adjourns sine die on June 11.
The minority leader also said the “reward system” should not be allowed by appointing people to constitutional offices.
“This is a packing system. They want to pack the constitutional commissions with their people. So, I have to perform my duty as an opposition and a minority floor leader,” he said, explaining the reason he blocked the appointments of Dasalla-Agito and Osorio.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the five ambassadors “could not go to their respective posts, and we just have to live with it.”
Drilon said Congress, after elections, will convene as National Board of Canvassers.
“After we finish our work as National Board of Canvassers we will convene and put on our legislative agenda and the Commission on Appointments will again meet… (and) we will put (their appointments) again on the floor,” he said.
“We will convoke the Commission on Appointments and we will submit these nominations to the Commission for approval,” Drilon added.
He said the blocked officers were extended ad- interim appointments. “So they can continue to discharge their functions,” he said.
The CA also confirmed the appointments of 28 military officers.
Enrile, however, grilled the officers over the Mamasapano debacle before they were allowed to pass through the CA process as he told 28 promoted officers that their loyalty should be on the nation and not to the sitting president.
Three of the generals during the CA hearing yesterday were asked by Enrile: “If you had been the chief of staff on January  25, 2015 and you learned what was happening in Mamasapano, and you learned about the plight of the 72 men in police uniform, what would you have done?”
Enrile has been assailed by the Palace as having a political agenda after tagging President Aquino as being mainly responsible and having a direct hand in the bungled Operation Plan (Oplan) Exodus that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan but at the cost of the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Enrile told the military officers during the CA hearing that he raised the Mamasapano issue as a reminder to most of them about telling the truth.
“I’m doing this to remind you that you are not being paid by the President but by the Republic of the Philippines and your loyalty is to  the  people and to no one else,” he said.
“I must warn you gentlemen, I’m going to invoke Section 20 if you are not truthful here. This is not a joking matter. You are going to be confirmed for higher ranks and higher responsibility and higher degree of common sense in the performance of duty,” he said.
Invoking section 20 would have shelved the confirmation of the military officers.
“So it’s about time that we make the system of confirmation of people, who enter service in the government to be more strict instead of being laughable so that discipline and dedication are infused in everyone of us,” Enrile added.
Enrile grilled Lt. Generals Romeo Tanalgo, Glorioso Miranda, and Mayoralgo dela Cruz to answer the question he posed.
Tanalgo answered that he will act based on the information he has and at the same time direct his ground units “to provide assistance, to reinforce, to try to extricate the beleaguered troops.”
Tanalgo added he would inform the commander-in-chief and the defense secretary of the mission.
Miranda’s reply was that he would direct his ground commanders to support and diffuse the situation “to make the mission successful.”
“Would you have as a matter of duty informed your commander in chief?” Enrile asked again, to which Tanalgo answered yes.
“Your honors, I will direct my subordinate commander to extend all the necessary assistance to help our comrades in uniform, Sir, and I will  also inform my chief of staff as well as the Secretary of National Defense and the commander in chief, Sir,” De la Cruz said.
Twenty senior military officials got the nod of a panel of the powerful CA after Enrile’s grilling.
Confirmed by the CA were Lieutenant Generals Romeo Tanalgo, Glorioso Miranda, Mayoralgo dela Cruz; Major Generals Arnold Rafael Depakakibo, Job Yucoco, and Benjamin Madrigal; Rear Admirals Rafael Mariano and Jorge Amba; Brigadier Generals Noel Clement, Ronnie Evangelista, Robert Arevalo, Dinoh Dolina, Arnel dela Vega, Gerry Amante, Rodel Mauro Alarcon, David Diciano, Nelia Valmonte, and Gener del Rosario; Colonels Jonathan Gabor, Harold Anthony Pascua, Armand Arevalo, Consolito Yecla, Gerudel Dellosa, and Raul Hernandez; and Captain Aldrin Doctor.

Vendetta main feat of Congress under Noy

Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00 Published in Headlines

Under President Aquino, the main achievements of Congress were the elimination and harassment of Aquino’s perceived political opponents, so said Senate President Franklin Drilon.  
The 15th and 16th sessions of Congress under the term of Aquino had many firsts, foremost of which was the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona and the detention of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and the investigation on Vice President Jejomar Binay,  Drilon boasted yesterday.
Drilon as head of the Senate, instead of defending its members in the three Palace targeted senators, was even instrumental in their arrests after spearheading efforts in the Senate to probe the alleged P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam based on the selective Commission on Audit (CoA) special audit covering only 2007 to 2009.
In a television interview, Drilon said Congress under Aquino should not be judged alone in its failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) later renamed as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).
“You know, it’s not only with the BBL that we should be judged. This Congress, let’s not forget, to my mind, had many firsts. If we go back, this is the only Senate where three of our members got jailed – Senator Enrile, Senator Revilla, Senator Estrada. Two of them are still in jail, one of them is out,” Drilon said.
“But the three of them went to jail, got charged with the Anti-Graft Law because of investigations done in the Senate,” he added.
“We also had an extensive investigation on the corruption charges against the Vice President resulting in a committee report recommending plunder charges,” he said.
He said that the investigations on Binay was held for more than a year which was unprecedented.
“The Mamasapano hearings – all of these, you have never seen these in the past. And by the way, in the 15th Congress, we also had the impeachment of the Chief Justice so he had a very historic 15th and 16th Congresses and that is why –many people do not realize it – we have now one-fourth of the Senate running for either president or vice-president. Never happened in our history before,” he added.
None of these commitee hearings were ever brought before the plenary and debated at all.
All these achievements Drilon mentioned were made possible due to the biased hearings and selectively done against the three members of Congress, including the “incentives” given by President Aquino through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) amounting to hundreds and hundreds of millions to have the Senate convict the then sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  
Drilon as head of the Senate instead of defending its members in the three Palace targeted senators was even instrumental in their arrests after spearheading efforts in the Senate to probe the alleged P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam based on the selective Commission on Audit (CoA) special audit covering only 2007 to 2009.
Drilon said that despite all the investigations the Senate undertook, “we did not neglect our principal duties of enacting laws and policies for the good of our country.”
“You’ll be surprised, we made a count, we are passing about two bills a week, in the 16th Congress, before we close, on the average. I think we passed around 285 bills on third reading in the Senate of which 116 were enacted into law, 27 are with the President pending signature and another 14 are in the bicameral conference committee. Just last night we worked until 8 in the evening passing laws that could still make it,” he added.
Drilon added that Congress was not affected by the controversies “we saw in the past three years.”
He said the Senate under Aquino passed many reform measures which languished in the legislative mills for years.
“We are proud particularly of those bills concerning the economy. We passed  various laws, the latest one is the Fair Competition Act, this one languished in Congress for years. We have passed the amendments to the Cabotage Law, which allowed more competition in inter-island shipping,” he said.  

Best Senate ever,
Drilon claims
“And by the way, there are a lot of criticisms in the Senate, but surveys will show that the Senate has not been affected as an institution. The SWS and the Pulse Asia have consistently shown that the Senate as an institution is performing well in the eyes of the people,” he said.
Drilon averred that the Senate had the highest rating last December, and a little propaganda: This representation, your Senate President, has been judged as one of the most trusted and judged well in my performance as a senator.
Under the 16th Congress, Drilon said the Senate had transparency as its basic tenet.
“We were a reform oriented Congress. Many of the laws that we passed were languishing in the legislative mill for years.  By the way, in the 15th Congress, we also passed the Sin Tax Reform Law, which today I read in the papers in 2015 we generated around P141 billion in sin taxes,” he said.
He also credited himself for the law that raised the taxes on so-called sin products such as cigarettes and liquors.
“And I worked on that, I am proud to say that I worked on that. This year, in the 16th Congress, we passed the full coverage of senior citizens in the Philhealth program, right now our Philhealth which is funded totally out of sin taxes, covers I understand about 90 percent already of our people because the Sin Tax Law funded our universal healthcare program which now is giving benefit to our senior citizens,” he said.
He also credited “the political will” of Aquino for getting many things done in terms of legislation under his term.
“The President exerted political will to enact reform measures, to push Congress to enact reform measures. I repeat, the Sin Tax law, for years languished and was eschewed in favor of certain brands. The Fair Competition Act, for years could not move. The Customs Modernization Act, for years could not move,” he said.
“Here under the leadership of the President and in fairness to Speaker Sonny Belmonte and me, we really met every month without much media coverage and we tediously worked on each bill and saw to it that every reform measure that we need to pass will be passed,” he said.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said the Aquino administration has “done its part” in pushing for the enactment of priority legislations, including the un-enacted Freedom of Information (FOI) and anti-dynasty bills.
“As representatives of national and local constituencies, our legislators’ actions are based on their appreciation of their constituents’ sentiments,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.
Coloma said the administration affirmed its support for the principles of FoI and the need for an enabling law to implement the constitutional provision regarding political dynasties.
“We trust that our people will reflect their support for these principles when they cast their votes in the next elections,” he added.
The FoI and anti-dynasty bills were not passed by the House of Representatives with two session days left before it goes to break on Feb. 5.

Poe turns down DNA match test with Marcos anew

Wednesday, 03 February 2016 00:00 Published in Headlines

Contrary to what she stated during a forum with newspaper editors the other day, independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe who is facing disqualification due to material misrepresentation in her certificate of candidacy (CoC) filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) regarding details on her citizenship and residency, said that she will not seek DNA testing with her rumored “brother” Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. “Not anymore, it is not needed,” Poe told reporters yesterday who inquired on the test to match the DNA profiles of the two senators.

Long-running talk has both as siblings with former President Ferdinand Marcos that had intensified after the release last week of a white paper that supposedly showed a DNA match.
The rumor failed to die down also due to the failure of Poe to find a DNA match with her supposed relatives including that of an exhumed body of supposed relatives in Guimaras, Iloilo.
Poe conceded last week that two sets of DNA tests to establish her parentage yielded no results which she said was due to the samples collected being too degraded.
“The bodies that were exhumed were not viable [to provide DNA samples]. These were too degraded,” Poe said.
She said the first set of samples that was taken in November last year came from three people who claimed to be related to her alleged biological mother.
Among those tested were samples taken from Lorena Dechaves, who claimed to be Poe’s aunt, and two women identified only as Malin and Magdalena, who claimed to be her sisters.
Another set of samples was obtained from Poe’s alleged mother, Victoria Rodriguez, and three relatives of Poe’s alleged father, Paquito Montañez.
Marcos merely shrugged the white paper that was released to members of media covering the Senate.
The document dated November 12, 2015 and with a letterhead DNA Solutions Philippines was addressed to Marcos.
“This is Senator Bongbong Marcos’ DNA result. Compare this with that of Senator Grace Poe and you will see that they are related,” a note attached on top of the document stated.
“DNA isolation was carried. Genetic characteristics were determined by PowerPlex 21 PCR Kit. In parallel, positive and negative controls were performed which gave the expected and corrected results,” the document read.
The document was supposedly signed by a certain Julie Ludovico, Forensic Scientist 1.
“I laughed when I heard about it,” Marcos said. “I’ve never had a DNA test.”
Poe said the authenticity of the document should be verified first by Marcos himself.
Found in a church in Iloilo, Poe was later adopted by the late actor, Fernando Poe Jr., and veteran actress, Susan Roces. Her being a foundling is now one of the subjects of the disqualification cases filed against her.
In a forum with newspaper editors the other day, Poe said that she might consider a DNA match test with Marcos “after the elections” in May.


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