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Gerry Baldo

DoJ hit for junking raps vs drug dealers

Saturday, 17 March 2018 00:00 Published in Metro

Rise Up for Life and for Rights (RULR) has scored the Department of Justice (DoJ) for junking criminal charges against confessed drug dealers, fueling speculations the Duterte regime is going soft on drug lords.
RULR spokesman Fr. Gilbert Billena, O.Carm., said on the night of Thursday, March 15, 2018, while confessed drug lords were treated royally, the more than 3,000 fatalities in official police anti-drug operations and the 16,000 people whose killings were listed as only “deaths under investigation” were never charged, prosecuted and convicted.
“We, advocates of human rights and families of victims of drug-related killings, are shocked that while bodies of victims of recent drug-related killings continue to pile up on top of the thousand others during the implementation of Oplans Double Barrel and Double Barrel Reloaded, confessed drug lords and others implicated in big-time drug cases can now go scot-free,” Billena protested.
“We are even more angered when news came out that charges against Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim were dismissed ‘due to lack of evidence.’ Despite Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s recent statements maneuvering his department’s highly-criticized decision to drop the charges against the named personalities, he stands by the acceptability of the grounds cited in the decision. This only goes to show that ‘due process’ and meticulous decision-making can always be accorded to the likes of Espinosa but not for the street-level suspected drug offenders who get killed with impunity everyday,” the RULR leader maintained.
“We find it ridiculous and it is obvious that the administration, both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the prosecution, are slow as a snail in prosecuting drug personalities who earn millions from the drug trade but are always too fast and overzealous in jailing and assassinating the poor. Moreover, they cut some slack on the police and other elements charged with murdering drug suspects. However, Duterte, Aguirre and the police are quick and always ready in dismissing our cry for justice and vilifying the families of the victims,” Billena added.
“We challenge Duterte and Aguirre to stop taunting us and make good on their daily pledge to genuinely address the drug menace in the country. They cannot solve the problem by abetting corruption at all levels of government, from the police to the DoJ and to Malacanang. Worse, they are not even doing anything to solve widespread poverty,” Billena said.

PMC as another AFP major service command sought

Thursday, 15 March 2018 00:00 Published in Metro

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday sought the immediate passage of a proposed law seeking to establish the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) as another major service command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to further strengthen its mandate of eliminating the enemies of the state.

House Bill (HB) No. 7304 or the “Philippine Marine Corps Act” filed by Alvarez and House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas seeks to form “the PMC as a branch of service, distinct, autonomous, but complimentary to the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy (PN) under the AFP.” Currently the PMC is part of the Philippine Navy.
“Although the PMC has lived up to its mandate, its lack of Charter has caused institutional challenges, including but not limited to fiscal and organizational restrictions. Despite these, the PMC has provided seamless transition of military power between sea and land domains. The men and women of the PMC have served and responded to the call of duty gallantly,” Alvarez and Fariñas pointed out in seeking the passage of the bill.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, one of the stalwarts of the opposition, is a former Marine officer.
Last Tuesday, President Duterte personally pinned the rank insignia of Colonel of the PN-Marines on Alvarez at Malacañang where Fariñas, a Judge Advocate General reservist, also attended.
Earlier, the Commission on Appointments had confirmed their nomination to the rank of Colonel in the reserve force of the various services of the AFP.
HB No. 7304 will be deliberated by the House committee on national defense and security this Monday.
The PMC, currently a naval infantry force under the command of PN, was created 67 years ago through the AFP General Orders No. 319 issued by then Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, a former President, in 1950 to respond to the security threat of the emerging Hukbalahap insurgency in Central Luzon.
The bill mandates the PMC to deploy its forces to support the law enforcement agencies in implementing the laws of the land, respond to disasters, participate in the strategic defense under the Joint Defense Force, coordinate with the other branches of service in the performance of their duties and responsibilities, and determine its fiscal requirements through the allocation from the Department of National Defense.
The PMC is also tasked to organize, train, equip, maintain, develop, deploy, and supervise the PMC Reserve Force, the measure said.
According to the proposal, the PMC will be headed by a commandant with a rank of Lieutenant General who will be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the AFP Chief-of-Staff and the Secretary of the DND and its three bases will be established one each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Alvarez and Fariñas credited the PMC behind the successful elimination of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-inspired terrorism in the heartland of Marawi City in Mindanao.
“Much blood has been spilled, lessons learned and experience gained in the service of the Filipino people with the loss of 1,437 men since 1950. In the 2017 Battle of Marawi alone, 36 brave souls gave their lives for the motherland,” the two House leaders said.
“They were the force combating terrorists in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,” they said. “The vigorous men and women of the PMC are everywhere to alleviate the impact of disasters to the Filipino people.”

The delay in the crafting of the Articles of Impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has led to the postponement of the plenary voting of the document which was earlier expected that the Articles of Impeachment, after the plenary voting, if the members of the House of Representatives vote to impeach her in plenary, it was then scheduled to be elevated to the Senate as the House prosecutor’s information against the embattled chief magistrate.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the panel chairman, told reporters that members of his committee have yet to agree on specific grounds that will constitute the articles of impeachment against Sereno.
“We have yet to finish the Articles of Impeachment because there are some disagreements on how many grounds we will include,” said Umali.
“The whole idea is to present it as comprehensive as possible to show that this is really a very strong case and I believe so too.”

“We will be ready by then. When we schedule that hearing, either on Monday or Tuesday, we’re ready to present the Articles of Impeachment,” said Umali.
Umali denied that their failure to finish the draft Articles of Impeachment indicates that their case against Sereno is not strong.
“The whole idea is to present it as comprehensive as we could and we’ll just cross the bridge when we get there,” Umali said.
At the same time, Umali said the private prosecutors who will help them in the looming trial of Sereno in the Senate Impeachment Court will work pro bono.
“They are litigators. I’m sure they know their law, they know their case, and they know their evidence,” said Umali who earlier named former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as private prosecution panel adviser.
House majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier said that the House will wait for the resolution of the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno before the Supreme Court.
CJ on student tour
claiming innocence
Sereno on Tuesday blasted critics who have called for her resignation as she faces impeachment in the legislature and an ouster petition in the Supreme Court.
“The call for me to resign is not founded on reason but only on convenience,” the top magistrate on leave told students at the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos in Bacolod City.
“There are some who refuse to uphold the constitutional process of impeachment. They want peace. But what is peace if there is no justice?” she said.
Sereno has been making the rounds of schools and giving the same ‘I am innocent’ and ‘I am a victim of injustice’ speeches in different forums nationwide, with the same theme: That she is innocent of the charges and that she will tell the truth and answer the charges in the proper forum.
Not once, however, has she answered the charges directly, not even before the House justice panel’s charges. All her counter affidavit merely denied the charges.
“Peace is not the absence of conflict; peace is the presence of justice,” she claimed.
Some court employee and judge groups on Monday formally called for Sereno’s resignation during a Supreme Court Red Flag Day raising ceremony.
Erwin Ocson, president of the SC Employees Association, cited as grievance the alleged delays in the approval of workers’ promotions and benefits under Sereno’s leadership, on the second Red Day at the Supreme Court.
As she did with previous resignation calls, Sereno junked the groups’ plea for her to make the “sacrifice” of stepping down.
GMA online reported that Sereno was “very, very proud” of the judges of Negros Occidental regional trial courts who claimed they will remain impartial as she battles ouster attempts.
In a statement on Monday, the Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court Judges Association called for sobriety and prudence and urged their fellow judges to be non-partisan and allow due process to take its course.
The House justice committee has found probable cause to impeach Sereno. If the case against her hurdles the plenary, Sereno will be tried at the Senate impeachment court.
Sereno comes up with the same speeches asking to be given her day in the impeachment court, where she said she will answer accusations leveled against her.


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