Today News
A+ A A-
Angie M. Rosales

Noy’s selective justice bared in pork scam

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines


There are basis to claims that the previous administration of President Aquino was selective in seeking justice and in going after those involved in the pork barrel scam based on information a senator has obtained. 

Sen. Richard Gordon yesterday confessed having supposed access to some information, when it first broke out in 2013, and bolstered claims that those being linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles’ alleged nefarious activities involving the misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were “cherry-picked” by the previous administration.
Targeted in what was eventually known as a scripted P10-billion pork barrel scandal were former opposition senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, who were the only legislators detained in a long list of politicians and government officials that Napoles had implicated.
“I would be dishonest to you if I say I did not hear anything about that as early as that time. I have a very good friend who was a lawyer of Napoles who said that hindi sinama lahat ng dapat isama. In other words, tsinani. They cherry picked on who will be included. That was what they said,” he noted.
“(But) I would not be surprised,” Gordon said when asked by reporters on his thoughts on the matter of Napoles being considered as a state witness in the new cases to be filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on the multibillion-peso scam involving the misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel. 

Gordon, at that time was not senator or holding any government position but has supposed “access” to some vital information since he was close to one of the lawyers privy to the case.
“Let’s just say he is a lawyer. When that happened, he was there,” the senator said, referring to the matter of “cherry-picking” those made to be implicated in Napoles’ scam.
“From day one (or since the issue came out) I can tell you honestly and look at you straight in the eye, I know what they told me. I don’t know if there were basis for it but that was told to me at the time it happened. I was told that it will happen. You know, we lawyers we talk to one another,” he added.
Gordon reiterated that his source, whom he described as providing A1 information or highly credible at that time that the case was still developing, knew that Napoles allegedly spilled the beans but was allegedly told to limit those she will implicate supposedly.
“They selected who would be charged,” he said.
“Remember they brought Napoles to the Palace where she started talking, wasn’t it? It turned out, however, that the personalities involved were selected. So I’m happy that she’s coming out. Whether or not she will be useful it will depend on what she will say,” Gordon said.
It can be recalled that sometime in Aug. 2013, Napoles who was then fugitive, surrendered to then President Aquino.
Palace officials met with the the alleged brains behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam at the Heritage Park in Taguig City and was brought to Malacanang and faced Aquino who spoke to her and her lawyer for about 10 minutes.
Gordon recounts pork timeline
Aquino, even after he then later turned over Napoles to then Interior Sec. Manuel Roxas II, decided to join them in Camp Crame and even checked where she would be detained.
Gordon hastened to point out that, based on the information relayed to him at that time, that Napoles was told what to do or she was not even given a chance who she should pin down as alleged co-conspirators in her scam.
“Stay put, these are all the persons we will choose. I’m telling you that I learned of it during that time when it happened,” Gordon added.
“I expected all the time that Napoles later on will spill the beans,” he said.
Despite what happened, Gordon expressed belief that Napoles can still be considered credible witness and she can be tapped as a state witness in a new cases that will be filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“For me from the standpoint of getting info, I’m in favor of hearing it. As to whether she has enough evidence they will have to prove it,” he said.
“If she’s the only one that will come out and bring justice, yes,” Gordon said when asked if he’s in favor of Napoles being tapped as a state witness in the new cases to be filed by the DOJ.
“You know sometimes you need to get the principal person to say who accepted money. And they have to prove it and if you cannot prove it, then you business (discussing it),” he added.
But it’s a matter that Napoles’ lawyers will have to work on with her, if she’s already resolved in naming names, and arrive at a decision, Gordon said.
Considering that Napoles is a key player in the so-called pork barrel scam, the senator pointed out that her “role” in the entire picture will not prevent those out to get to the bottom of the issue, Gordon said citing the case of Mark Taguba.
Taguba, alleged customs fixer, practically turned himself into a star witness or whistleblower in the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu from China in May 2016.
Taguba helped in facilitating the said shipment and eventually identified those who are or were on the take or receving payola or “tara” in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
“I think so,” Gordon said on the matter of Napoles being qualified as a state witness in the new round of pork-related cases.
Lawyers’ call
“Who is the most guilty? The one who accepts or the one who gives? Both of them are guilty (But) that’s something for the principal lawyer to handle,” the senator said.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre yesterday bluntly suggested that Napoles should be a state witness.
Asked if the DoJ categorically wants Napoles to be a state witness, Aguirre replied in a text message: “Yes.”
“That’s the basic reason why we are entertaining her (Witness Protection Program) application,” he elaborated.
Napoles, who is currently under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, has been recently taken under the DoJ’s provisional WPP.
As state witness, Napoles would be able to enjoy state funding in all her needs under WPP custody.
For Aguirre, Napoles’ likely admission to the DoJ’s witness protection program (WPP) is based on their assumption that Napoles will “tell all” about the controversial PDAF scam and that she is not the one most guilty.
The DoJ chief explained that Napoles cannot be the most guilty because plunder raps are charges solely for government officials and that she was merely a conspirator in the scheme.
If not for government officials, mostly lawmakers, she was in cahoots with, Napoles could not have profited from the scam.
“We have to rely on Janet if we enroll her on the WPP... Before you get admitted into the WPP, you must not appear to be the most guilty,” Aguirre said.
“Putting her under the WPP would be binding in all courts,” he added.
Napoles is painted as the mastermind of the pork barrel scam because lawmakers she’s alleged to be conspiring with were said to be funding “ghost projects” implemented her companies and non-government organizations (NGOs) with the projects producing no tangible output.
Aguirre revealed that Napoles’ relatives and lawyer reached out to Palace officials in Malacañang to offer her new affidavit that apparently secured her spot in the WPP.
Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David, whom Aguirre said has been “going in and out of the Palace” frequently, on Monday claimed that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea was among those who gave the advice on what actions should be taken to make it appear that Napoles would be a credible witness soon.
Such “advise” from Medialdea, an opinion admittedly shared by Aguirre, to the camp of Napoles includes the alleged scam brain’s release from Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to be transferred to a relatively safer condition under the DoJ’s WPP watch.
“There was a discussion with the Executive Secretary that the DoJ shall take custody of Mrs. Napoles. Because of that, I sought to write on the matter,” David said on Monday.
While the Justice secretary admitted that he and Medialdea told David so, the Executive Secretary denied giving such a legal advice.
“Why would I give a legal advice to a lawyer for his client? If I were his client, I will fire him,” Medialdea said in a text message.
Aguirre, after being informed that Medialdea denied giving a legal advice to Napoles’ lawyer, said the Executive Secretary was merely having an “academic discussion among lawyers” and that what is perceived to be an advice is accordingly “just an opinion.”
President Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque, for his part, denied any knowledge about Malacañang-hosted meetings where Napoles lawyer David has frequently been into.
Roque stressed that the Chief Executive has nothing to do with the developments surrounding Napoles and the pork scam case.
Drilon denies Napoles link
Senate Minority Franklin Drilon also denied having received money or even campaign contribution from Napoles in the past, long before she was jailed for her purported misuse of the PDAF.
As this developed, his party, the Liberal Party (LP) assailed the alleged intervention of Malacanang in having Napoles transferred from her regular jail cell to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Drilon issued a statement dismissing as a mere “hearsay” the allegations on Napoles contributed as much as P100 million in the campaign kitty of in 2013 and it was coursed through him.
“Obviously the statement is hearsay. A witness told Atty. Levito Baligod but Atty. Baligod himself said in the same interview this morning that the allegation is hard to believe,” he said in a statement.
“And he is correct because it is not true,” Drilon said.
The opposition leader in the upper chamber refused to entertain queries saying that “I do not respond to hearsays.”
Drilon issued the statement in reaction to Baligod’s statements made in an interview in ANC reiterating what he had earlier said in the past, that Napoles alleged to have helped bankroll the LP’s campaign in 2013.
Allegedly, Napoles donated a total amount of P100 million and it was supposedly handed over to Drilon, Baligod said.
Baligod said a supposed “witness” to the incident when Napoles supposedly gave the money to Drilon relayed to him the information but he himself have doubts over the veracity of such claims.
Also yesterday LP did not waste time in chastising Malacanang in having a hand, supposedly, on Napoles’ fate.
“The cat is out of the bag on who’s behind the bold moves of pork barrel scam queen in securing protection from the DOJ,” the LP said citing reports where no less than Napoles’ lawyer, Stephen David, told the court that her request for transfer from the BJMP to the DOJ was upon the suggestion of Medialdea and Aguirre.
“What prompted these top officials to reach out to an alleged mastermind of a multi-billion-peso scam? Who sanctioned this? Malacanang’s statement that the President is taking a hands-off stance on this appears not to jibe with the actions of his top executives.
“The wheels of justice have started on the case of Napoles. The government must pursue her criminal prosecution, instead of using the people’s money to give her refuge and protection through the Witness Protection Program. To do so would be a great mockery of justice,” the LP said.

Sotto says ICC ‘worried’ about losing RP contribution

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

As much as 397,896 euros or over P25 million had been contributed by the Philippines to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Such “mandatory contribution,” based on the report of the committee on budget and finance on the work of its 29th session during ICC Assembly of State Parties showed that the amount was “fully settled” March 30, 2017.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III disclosed this in his Twitter account, saying that it’s probably the reason why the ICC is trying to convince the government not to withdraw the withdrawal of the ratification of the Rome Statute.
The Senate leader said he can only surmise the possibility that the ICC is worried that it will lose a big chunk of its funds if other signatories in the Rome Statute would duplicate the move of Duterte, withdrawing membership from the international tribunal.
“Our last payment to ICC was 397,896 Euros or P25,404,938. Kaya pala ayaw tayo paalisin (That’s why they don’t want RP to leave ICC),” Sotto said in post in his Twitter account.
His claims were backed by a document that he has in his possession on the supposed audit report showing the list of those who have still outstanding contributions yet to be settled and those who have already fully settled.
The said report was dated Nov. 3, 2017 and the amount contributed by the Philippines makes up about about 0.28 percent of the 144,587,306 euros the ICC has collected from the contributions of its 124 state-signatories in 2017.
Under the Rome Statue, member-states are required to pay their annual contribution to the ICC.
On top of the annual contributions of member-countries to the international tribunal court’s budget, states can make voluntary contributions to special funds such as the Trust Fund for Victims, the Special Funds for Family Visits, or the Special Funds for Relocations.
“Palagay ko kinakabahan sila dun, eh ‘di ang laki ng mawawala sa kanilang pondo (I think they are worried about losing big amount of their funds),” Sotto said.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, on the other hand, reiterated his confidence on the matter of the case filed against President Duterte before the ICC having no solid grounds.
“I’m not worried about the case against the President because it will not amount to war crime, genocide, crimes against humanity. Because definition of these three crimes are Hilter-like crimes. Did those happen here? No,” Pimentel said.
The Duterte ally earlier said the complaints against his administration will be dismissed due to the ICC’s lack of jurisdiction.

Chiz finds logic in Sal’s ICC take

Tuesday, 20 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

A senator found logic in Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador “Sal” Panelo’s assert that lack of publication of the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court (ICC) makes the international tribunal’s actions not binding to the Philippines.

“That’s a new theory. In fairness, that’s a novel theory about a treaty should be published,” Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, a lawyer, said.
Panelo, last week said the treaty ratified by the previous administration and concurred in by the Senate paved the way for the establishment of the ICC, which President Duterte is now withdrawing, saying this is not enforceable in the country.
The Palace official pointed out that the Rome Statute did not meet the requirement that it should be published in the Official Gazette or any newspaper of general circulation.
The ICC, as a permanent institution, has the power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, is set to conduct a preliminary examination alleged to be based on the complaint against President Duterte filed by lawyer Jude Sabio and backed up by Magdalo party members Rep. Gary Alejano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV concerning alleged crimes against humanity. 

The President, last week, announced his decision to withdraw the country’s ratification of the Rome Statute and Palace officials were quick in claiming that it has nothing to do with the impending probe against him by the ICC.
Escudero noted that under the Constitution, the generally-accepted principle on international laws and treaties adopted by the Philippines is that it form part of the laws of the land.
“Now the problem is, our laws require that. The Constitution requires that all laws we pass get published. By reference, according to the Constitution, this covers treaties to be considered also as laws in the country. So he has a point there. We have a provision that says that ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith,” the senator said referring to Panelo’s statements.
“That it is only valid if it was even published. Have you even seen the official gazette? Nobody has. I’m a even if it’s published there, it doesn’t automatically mean people will read it,” he said.
“The problem then was that it takes time to have a law printed in the official gazette so if you want a law to take effect faster, then print it in a newspaper,” Escudero said.
The non-publication of the laws passed by Congress renders ineffective the clause on publication requirement to give at least the people the chance to be notified of the law, he said.
Whether it’s a requirement in enforcing a treaty in the Philippines, what is clear is that all laws in the country are required to be published, Escudero said.
There’s nothing that explicit stated a provision on the matter of enacting or enforcing a treaty in the country, he said.
If Panelo’s contention will eventually be proven valid, Escudero said it will affect even the other treaties ratified by the Executive and concurred in by the Senate in the past which were not published.
Don’t expect help
The ICC, meanwhile, should not expect any help from the Duterte administration as it seeks to examine the “crimes against humanity” complaint rapped against Mr. Duterte, his spokesman Harry Roque said.
The Palace official also thumbed down the ICC’s appeal to Mr. Duterte to reconsider his move to withdraw the Philippines’ commitment to the treaty that created The Hague-based tribunal.
“If they want to continue, it will be foolhardy for the ICC to expect cooperation from us,” Roque told said.
“Good luck,” he added to address the international body’s attempts to obtain collaboration with Mr. Duterte’s government.
Roque also described ICC president O-Gon Kwon’s offer to talk with Mr. Duterte as “too late the hero.”
Mr. Duterte last week declared the Philippines’ withdrawal as a signatory of the ICC charter also known as the Rome Statute.
In a speech before the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Sunday, the Chief Executive described the ICC treaty as “all bullshit.”
He even rallied other countries to withdraw from the ICC.
“I withdrew from the ICC simply because to announce to the world and I will convince everybody now under the treaty, get out! They are very disrespectful!” Mr. Duterte stressed.
The Rome Statute inked in 1998 stated the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the four core international crimes in situations where states are “unable” or “unwilling” to do so themselves.
Moreover, Roque lambasted the ICC’s treatment of the Philippines as if its justice system works like that of relatively chaotic African states.
“Philippine courts should not be compared with those of Sudan, Burundi or Somalia,” he said.
Ban Zeid, urged group
A group composed mostly of senior citizens and overseas Filipino workers led by former Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo and Senior Citizens Rep. Mila Magsaysay yesterday staged a rally in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) demanding that United Nations High Commissioner for Juman Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein be declared persona non grata.
The group also demanded Al Hessein be barred from entering the country.
The group’s demand was in reaction to Al Hussein’s pronouncement when he was quoted saying, “The president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”
According to the group, Al Hussein’s remarks is an insult to a democratically-elected head of a UN member-country as well as to the sovereignty of the Philippines and that an apology from the UN chief is called for.
“This is our country. No one comes here and insults us right in our own home,” said Pelayo.
The former Candaba mayor said he just cannot understand why these foreign leaders have been so critical of the Duterte administration with regard to its anti-illegal drug trade.
“Where were they when drug addicts were killing their wives, the children, even their parents? Why the silence?” said Pelayo.
“And the irony of it is that while they have been critical of the President, Duterte still enjoys the support of 80 percent of the population.
Ted Tuvera, Charlie V. Manalo


Time for CJ to quit

24-03-2018 Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Time for CJ to quit

Whether or not Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and her sup...

Fujimori family feud spurred Kuczynski r…

24-03-2018 AFP and Tribune Wires

Fujimori family feud spurred Kuczynski resignation

Lima, Peru — Five centuries after brothers Atahualpa an...

Weak defense

23-03-2018 Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Weak defense

  Supreme Court Chief Justice on indefinite leave Lour...

Ahead of Egypt vote, most Christians put…

23-03-2018 AFP and Tribune Wires

Ahead of Egypt vote, most Christians put faith in Sisi

Cairo, Egypt — On the streets of Cairo’s Shubra distric...

Finally, truth may be bared

22-03-2018 Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Finally, truth may be bared

They can deny it until they are blue in the face, but t...

Abortion, free speech in spotlight at to…

22-03-2018 AFP and Tribune Wires

Abortion, free speech in spotlight at top US court

Washington, United States — US Supreme Court justices f...






Life Style




Unit 102, 1020 Bel-Air apartment, Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila Copyright 2000-2017 All rights reserved, The Daily Tribune Publishing Inc.