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Sueno, Roxas face raps for fire truck deal

PALACE WON’T STOP ‘PERFECTED’ CONTRACT

By Ted Tuvera
and Julius Leonen

The fire truck deal with an Austrian manufacturer that burned Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno and cost him his post after President Duterte abruptly dismissed him will proceed because it has been a perfected contract, according to the Palace but a legislator wants the Supreme Court to rule on his petition to block the deal and have another former Interior Secretary, Manuel Roxas, charged for the P3.07-billion deal.
Abakada Partylist Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz is mulling plunder, malversation and graft charges against Roxas and Sueno for approving the allegedly anomalous deal between the Philippine government and an Austrian company.The move stemmed from two supply contracts between the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Austrian company Rosenbauer International AG for the purchase of 152 fire trucks.

Dela Cruz, who initiated a House inquiry into the allegedly anomalous supply contracts, is disputing the fire truck deal’s constitutionality, saying they did not go through public bidding.
The solon, through his lawyer, also filed an urgent ex-parte motion before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to expedite the resolution of their plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction against the fire truck deal.
During an ambush interview yesterday, Abakada legal counsel Leo Romero said the partylist group is now gathering documents to file appropriate criminal charges for plunder, malversation, graft and violation of the procurement law against both former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) heads.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the agreement between the DILG and the Austrian company will proceed because “it is a perfected contract and there is no temporary restraining order (TRO) that prevents its implementation.”
Sueno, a day prior to his dismissal, admitted that he personally went to Austria with his family last January to follow-up the delivery of 76 firetrucks from Rosenbauer International AG.
The deal was sealed during the term of Roxas in 2013. It was then questioned before the SC by dela Cruz due to allegations of overpricing.
Mr. Duterte, who keeps ranting about the deal, fired Sueno for failing to respond to his interrogation about the DILG’s legal opinion about the deal.
For the Chief Executive, that was already a “whiff of corruption.”
In a speech late Wednesday night in Pasay City, Mr. Duterte made mention of the firetruck deal and his opposition against it.
“I said, why did he have to go there to sign, to buy it, fire truck worth P18 million? Son of a bitch, what kind of fire truck  is that? We’ll buy it at P7 million or P8 million. That’s the running price now over a fire truck made in Japan,” the President said.
Abakada’s Romero said he had sent a letter to the DILG to secure copies of vouchers, certificates of payments and receipts so that we can file appropriate criminal charges.
    De Lima may be implicated
Moreover, former Justice Secretary and incumbent Sen. Leila de Lima may also be impleaded “as she issued and signed a legal opinion approving the supply contract,” according to Romero.
Romero said that several national groups have also volunteered to be complainants in the criminal cases to be filed against Roxas, Sueno and other former officials, before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The fire truck deal, which Romero said did not undergo public bidding, involves two contracts, with each contract dealing with the supply and delivery of 76 fire trucks at a price of more than 20 million euros of about P1.068 billion.
Romero said the Rosenbauer fire trucks, or the Fire Fighting Vehicle TLF 400 model, costs P20.14-million each. According to their motion before the SC, 14 trucks were already delivered to the Port of Batangas last April 18.
According to Romero, the first contract was entered into and executed under the Aquino administration, while the second contract was pushed under the current Duterte administration.
“Documents in my possession point to his (Roxas) recommendation and approval of the first supply contract,” Romero said in a text message to reporters.
“Secretary Sueno meanwhile proceeded to implement the second one, so we will study carefully and we will file the appropriate charges,” he said.
In their motion, the Abakada representative said that former DILG  Secretary  Sueno was fired for “undermining and jeopardizing” the country’s best interests when he traveled to Austria with his wife and several DILG and BFP officials in January to meet with Rosenbauer officials.
It was stated in the motion that Sueno and Rosenbauer officials met in Austria to proceed with the implementation of the supply contracts, “despite full and unmitigated knowledge” of the pending SC petition.
“Secretary Sueno was unceremoniously dismissed from his position due to some anomalies which the President validated to be true,” Romero said during the ambush interview.
Romero said that the solon agreed to be the petitioner in the case filed before the High Court as he initiated the House inquiry to look into the fire truck procurements.
He added that the case involved the power of appropriation reserved to Congress under the 1987 Constitution.
“According to the law, there must be public bidding in all procurements, and one of the exceptions there is a contract between governments.
“This is not a government to government contract,” Romero said.
“This is a private commercial contract. Money should be appropriated by Congress,” he said. “It is a purely commercial activity, since the parties herein is the Government of the Philippines and a private commercial entity.”
Romero said they filed a motion before the SC to expedite the resolution in their plea to block the government from paying the contracts after they were informed that the DILG will proceed with the fire truck deal.
Cease, desist order sought
In their latest motion, the petitioners also asked the SC to order the DILG and BFP “to cease and desist from inspecting and accepting (the fire trucks) at the Port of Batangas” which arrived on April 18.
In June 2016, dela Cruz asked the SC, through a petition for the writ of certiorari and prohibition to junk the contract, while in January this year, he asked the SC through a motion to issue a TRO against the contract.
“(They will proceed with the deal) despite a pending case before the Supreme Court for nullification of the contract,” Romero said.
“There’s already a legal opinion of the DILG that the Secretary cannot proceed until such time that the SC has finally resolved the issues in the case,” he said.
Respondents named in the motion are former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, former Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, former National Treasurer Roberto Tan, former National Economic and Development Authority Secretary General Emmanuel Esguerra, current Commission on Audit Chairman Michael Aguinaldo, former BFP Officer-in-Charge Rodrigo Abrazaldo, and Rosenbauer International AG.
“If not restrained by this Honorable Court, these acts of the Respondents DILG and BFP together with the other respondents will indelibly cause grave and irreparable damage to the petitioner in particular as a member of House of Representatives and as taxpayers and the general public in general who will be prejudiced by violations of the Constitution on the unlawful expenditure of public funds resulting in the loss and damage to the government and the Filipino people in billions of pesos,” Romero said in this petition.
Romero said once the fire trucks are accepted, that will trigger the payment process for Rosenbauer.
Earlier, Epimaco Densing III, DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs, said that the payment of the fire truck deal in Vienna, Austria is under a 23-year loan.
   Deal perfected under Noy
Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez had said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had performed a “routine ministerial duty necessitated by the change in administration” in giving the go-ahead to the loan agreement for a project that was actually implemented exclusively by the DILG and approved in the past Aquino government.
Alvarez said Dominguez had no recourse but to implement the loan agreement that was sealed by his predecessor, Cesar Purisima, with the Unicredit Bank Austria AG for Phase 2 of the Capability Building Program of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)—an agency attached to the DILG—before President Duterte took over last year.”
“However, the supply contract for this project, which involves the acquisition of 76 Rosenbauer fire trucks for deployment by the BFP in priority cities nationwide, is an entirely different thing altogether that was handled solely by then-Secretary Ismael Sueno and two of his subordinates—DILG Head Executive Assistant Josephine Leysa and BFP Officer-in-Charge Chief Superintendent Bobby Baruelo—who had dealt directly and exclusively with the Unicredit Bank,” she said.
“The loan agreement and supply contract are two separate and distinct things,” Alvarez said. “As finance chief, it was Secretary Dominguez’s job to perform a routine ministerial act necessitated by the change in administration in giving the go-ahead to a loan agreement that then-Secretary Purisima had entered into with the Unicredit Bank—with the concurrence of the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Board chaired by then-President Aquino, the Monetary Board, and the Departments of Justice (DoJ) and of Budget and Management (DBM).”
“Neither Secretary Dominguez nor the DoF had anything to do anymore with the supply contract that Mr. Sueno had approved on his watch, on the basis of the loan agreement that the DoF had authorized because it was already approved in the past by Malacañang, the Monetary Board, the DoJ and DBM,” she said.
Alvarez recalled that it was Mr. Duterte who had instructed Dominguez to inform Sueno about the loan package for this two-phase project that is a carry-over from the past administration.
Phase 1 of this BFP Capability Building Program was actually approved in 2011 by the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and then implemented by his successor, Manuel Roxas II.
Alvarez said that “in the absence of any legal obstacle to its implementation—as the DoF had already secured before the Duterte presidency, the mandatory prior approvals of the appropriate government entities—Secretary Dominguez couldn’t just put the loan agreement on hold, let alone void it, without risking punitive legal action from the Austrian bank that could cost the Philippine government billions of pesos.”
She said the NEDA Board approved Phase 2 of the BFP’s Capacity Building Program on May 19, 2015, and the DBM issued the Forward Obligational Authority with the DILG as the implementing department on July 20, 2015.
Then-Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima was issued a Special Presidential Authority (SPA) to forge the deal with the Unicredit Bank on February 11, 2016, and the loan agreement obtained a clearance from the Inter-Agency Committee for the Review of Foreign Loan Documents (IAC-RFLD) on March 21, 2016, Alvarez said.
She said that the Monetary Board gave its final approval to the loan’s terms and conditions on May 5, 2016, while then-DoJ Secretary Emmanuel Caparas issued on May 31, 2016 a legal opinion affirming the authority of the DOF (as the borrower) to forge the Concessional Credit Agreement with the UniCredit Bank (as the lender).
In a July 25, 2016 letter, DoF Undersecretary Maria Edita Tan asked then-Secretary Sueno to endorse to Dominguez the list of DILG officials, with their corresponding specimen signatures, authorized to “make, sign and deliver disbursement requests, withdrawal applications and/or other procurement/project related documents and reports necessary to facilitate the implementation of the said Agreement,” for submission to the UniCredit Bank, said Alvarez.
On October 10, 2016, Alvarez said that Sueno sent a letter with their specimen signatures to Dominguez, through Tan, informing the DoF that he (Sueno) along with Leysa and Baruelo would be the ones to deal with the Austrian bank.
“The undersigned confirms that all acts and deeds that will be undertaken by the said DILG officials by virtue of the authority granted herein, shall be in accordance with the subject Loan Agreement and applicable Philippine laws, rules and regulations,” said Sueno in his Ocober 10 letter to Dominguez.
As a result of Sueno’s letter, Dominguez wrote an “Evidence of Authority” letter to the UniCredit Bank on October 26, 2016 informing the bank that Sueno, Leysa and Baruelo would be dealing with the bank with regard to the loan agreement for the BFP Capability Building Program Phase 2.
Section 20 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution authorizes the President to contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, after consultation and with the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board.
The Monetary Board approved in principle the loan’s terms and conditions on September 23, 2015 and then gave its final approval to this loan on May 5, 2016.

From page 1

The move stemmed from two supply contracts between the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Austrian company Rosenbauer International AG for the purchase of 152 fire trucks.
Dela Cruz, who initiated a House inquiry into the allegedly anomalous supply contracts, is disputing the fire truck deal’s constitutionality, saying they did not go through public bidding.
The solon, through his lawyer, also filed an urgent ex-parte motion before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to expedite the resolution of their plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction against the fire truck deal.
During an ambush interview yesterday, Abakada legal counsel Leo Romero said the partylist group is now gathering documents to file appropriate criminal charges for plunder, malversation, graft and violation of the procurement law against both former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) heads.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the agreement between the DILG and the Austrian company will proceed because “it is a perfected contract and there is no temporary restraining order (TRO) that prevents its implementation.”
Sueno, a day prior to his dismissal, admitted that he personally went to Austria with his family last January to follow-up the delivery of 76 firetrucks from Rosenbauer International AG.
The deal was sealed during the term of Roxas in 2013. It was then questioned before the SC by dela Cruz due to allegations of overpricing.
Mr. Duterte, who keeps ranting about the deal, fired Sueno for failing to respond to his interrogation about the DILG’s legal opinion about the deal.
For the Chief Executive, that was already a “whiff of corruption.”
In a speech late Wednesday night in Pasay City, Mr. Duterte made mention of the firetruck deal and his opposition against it.
“I said, why did he have to go there to sign, to buy it, fire truck worth P18 million? Son of a bitch, what kind of fire truck  is that? We’ll buy it at P7 million or P8 million. That’s the running price now over a fire truck made in Japan,” the President said.
Abakada’s Romero said he had sent a letter to the DILG to secure copies of vouchers, certificates of payments and receipts so that we can file appropriate criminal charges.
    De Lima may be implicated
Moreover, former Justice Secretary and incumbent Sen. Leila de Lima may also be impleaded “as she issued and signed a legal opinion approving the supply contract,” according to Romero.
Romero said that several national groups have also volunteered to be complainants in the criminal cases to be filed against Roxas, Sueno and other former officials, before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The fire truck deal, which Romero said did not undergo public bidding, involves two contracts, with each contract dealing with the supply and delivery of 76 fire trucks at a price of more than 20 million euros of about P1.068 billion.
Romero said the Rosenbauer fire trucks, or the Fire Fighting Vehicle TLF 400 model, costs P20.14-million each. According to their motion before the SC, 14 trucks were already delivered to the Port of Batangas last April 18.
According to Romero, the first contract was entered into and executed under the Aquino administration, while the second contract was pushed under the current Duterte administration.
“Documents in my possession point to his (Roxas) recommendation and approval of the first supply contract,” Romero said in a text message to reporters.
“Secretary Sueno meanwhile proceeded to implement the second one, so we will study carefully and we will file the appropriate charges,” he said.
In their motion, the Abakada representative said that former DILG  Secretary  Sueno was fired for “undermining and jeopardizing” the country’s best interests when he traveled to Austria with his wife and several DILG and BFP officials in January to meet with Rosenbauer officials.
It was stated in the motion that Sueno and Rosenbauer officials met in Austria to proceed with the implementation of the supply contracts, “despite full and unmitigated knowledge” of the pending SC petition.
“Secretary Sueno was unceremoniously dismissed from his position due to some anomalies which the President validated to be true,” Romero said during the ambush interview.
Romero said that the solon agreed to be the petitioner in the case filed before the High Court as he initiated the House inquiry to look into the fire truck procurements.
He added that the case involved the power of appropriation reserved to Congress under the 1987 Constitution.
“According to the law, there must be public bidding in all procurements, and one of the exceptions there is a contract between governments.
“This is not a government to government contract,” Romero said.
“This is a private commercial contract. Money should be appropriated by Congress,” he said. “It is a purely commercial activity, since the parties herein is the Government of the Philippines and a private commercial entity.”
Romero said they filed a motion before the SC to expedite the resolution in their plea to block the government from paying the contracts after they were informed that the DILG will proceed with the fire truck deal.
Cease, desist order sought
In their latest motion, the petitioners also asked the SC to order the DILG and BFP “to cease and desist from inspecting and accepting (the fire trucks) at the Port of Batangas” which arrived on April 18.
In June 2016, dela Cruz asked the SC, through a petition for the writ of certiorari and prohibition to junk the contract, while in January this year, he asked the SC through a motion to issue a TRO against the contract.
“(They will proceed with the deal) despite a pending case before the Supreme Court for nullification of the contract,” Romero said.
“There’s already a legal opinion of the DILG that the Secretary cannot proceed until such time that the SC has finally resolved the issues in the case,” he said.
Respondents named in the motion are former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, former Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, former National Treasurer Roberto Tan, former National Economic and Development Authority Secretary General Emmanuel Esguerra, current Commission on Audit Chairman Michael Aguinaldo, former BFP Officer-in-Charge Rodrigo Abrazaldo, and Rosenbauer International AG.
“If not restrained by this Honorable Court, these acts of the Respondents DILG and BFP together with the other respondents will indelibly cause grave and irreparable damage to the petitioner in particular as a member of House of Representatives and as taxpayers and the general public in general who will be prejudiced by violations of the Constitution on the unlawful expenditure of public funds resulting in the loss and damage to the government and the Filipino people in billions of pesos,” Romero said in this petition.
Romero said once the fire trucks are accepted, that will trigger the payment process for Rosenbauer.
Earlier, Epimaco Densing III, DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs, said that the payment of the fire truck deal in Vienna, Austria is under a 23-year loan.
   Deal perfected under Noy
Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez had said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had performed a “routine ministerial duty necessitated by the change in administration” in giving the go-ahead to the loan agreement for a project that was actually implemented exclusively by the DILG and approved in the past Aquino government.
Alvarez said Dominguez had no recourse but to implement the loan agreement that was sealed by his predecessor, Cesar Purisima, with the Unicredit Bank Austria AG for Phase 2 of the Capability Building Program of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)—an agency attached to the DILG—before President Duterte took over last year.”
“However, the supply contract for this project, which involves the acquisition of 76 Rosenbauer fire trucks for deployment by the BFP in priority cities nationwide, is an entirely different thing altogether that was handled solely by then-Secretary Ismael Sueno and two of his subordinates—DILG Head Executive Assistant Josephine Leysa and BFP Officer-in-Charge Chief Superintendent Bobby Baruelo—who had dealt directly and exclusively with the Unicredit Bank,” she said.
“The loan agreement and supply contract are two separate and distinct things,” Alvarez said. “As finance chief, it was Secretary Dominguez’s job to perform a routine ministerial act necessitated by the change in administration in giving the go-ahead to a loan agreement that then-Secretary Purisima had entered into with the Unicredit Bank—with the concurrence of the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Board chaired by then-President Aquino, the Monetary Board, and the Departments of Justice (DoJ) and of Budget and Management (DBM).”
“Neither Secretary Dominguez nor the DoF had anything to do anymore with the supply contract that Mr. Sueno had approved on his watch, on the basis of the loan agreement that the DoF had authorized because it was already approved in the past by Malacañang, the Monetary Board, the DoJ and DBM,” she said.
Alvarez recalled that it was Mr. Duterte who had instructed Dominguez to inform Sueno about the loan package for this two-phase project that is a carry-over from the past administration.
Phase 1 of this BFP Capability Building Program was actually approved in 2011 by the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and then implemented by his successor, Manuel Roxas II.
Alvarez said that “in the absence of any legal obstacle to its implementation—as the DoF had already secured before the Duterte presidency, the mandatory prior approvals of the appropriate government entities—Secretary Dominguez couldn’t just put the loan agreement on hold, let alone void it, without risking punitive legal action from the Austrian bank that could cost the Philippine government billions of pesos.”
She said the NEDA Board approved Phase 2 of the BFP’s Capacity Building Program on May 19, 2015, and the DBM issued the Forward Obligational Authority with the DILG as the implementing department on July 20, 2015.
Then-Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima was issued a Special Presidential Authority (SPA) to forge the deal with the Unicredit Bank on February 11, 2016, and the loan agreement obtained a clearance from the Inter-Agency Committee for the Review of Foreign Loan Documents (IAC-RFLD) on March 21, 2016, Alvarez said.
She said that the Monetary Board gave its final approval to the loan’s terms and conditions on May 5, 2016, while then-DoJ Secretary Emmanuel Caparas issued on May 31, 2016 a legal opinion affirming the authority of the DOF (as the borrower) to forge the Concessional Credit Agreement with the UniCredit Bank (as the lender).
In a July 25, 2016 letter, DoF Undersecretary Maria Edita Tan asked then-Secretary Sueno to endorse to Dominguez the list of DILG officials, with their corresponding specimen signatures, authorized to “make, sign and deliver disbursement requests, withdrawal applications and/or other procurement/project related documents and reports necessary to facilitate the implementation of the said Agreement,” for submission to the UniCredit Bank, said Alvarez.
On October 10, 2016, Alvarez said that Sueno sent a letter with their specimen signatures to Dominguez, through Tan, informing the DoF that he (Sueno) along with Leysa and Baruelo would be the ones to deal with the Austrian bank.
“The undersigned confirms that all acts and deeds that will be undertaken by the said DILG officials by virtue of the authority granted herein, shall be in accordance with the subject Loan Agreement and applicable Philippine laws, rules and regulations,” said Sueno in his Ocober 10 letter to Dominguez.
As a result of Sueno’s letter, Dominguez wrote an “Evidence of Authority” letter to the UniCredit Bank on October 26, 2016 informing the bank that Sueno, Leysa and Baruelo would be dealing with the bank with regard to the loan agreement for the BFP Capability Building Program Phase 2.
Section 20 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution authorizes the President to contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, after consultation and with the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board.
The Monetary Board approved in principle the loan’s terms and conditions on September 23, 2015 and then gave its final approval to this loan on May 5, 2016.

11 comments

  • Martee

    Actually there are many available in the 6 million peso range. These are new full size heavy duty fire trucks, diesel powered and carry full equipment. I checked and found them in 5 minutes of search. Recommend Alibaba online. This is where many Japanese manufacturer's list they products....with pricing in USD.

    Martee Friday, 21 April 2017 16:03 Comment Link
  • Martee

    Actually there are many available in the 6 million peso range. These are new full size heavy duty fire trucks, diesel powered and carry full equipment. I checked and found them in 5 minutes of search. Recommend Alibaba online. This is where many Japanese manufacturer's list they products....with pricing in USD.

    Martee Friday, 21 April 2017 16:03 Comment Link
  • Gilbert Rimarim

    Please review and expose also the deals made by former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. He purchased 2nd hand helicopters that cannot even fly. He also purchased 2nd hand armored vehicles even though a donor had offered a hundred of them for free.

    Gilbert Rimarim Friday, 21 April 2017 15:21 Comment Link
  • Martee

    Really so much hidden corruption by the Aquino Administration. Disgusting legacy from Aquino who claimed to be against corruption.

    Martee Friday, 21 April 2017 13:47 Comment Link
  • jericho dela cerna.

    corruptions inherited from abnoy president Aquino's daang matuwid kunoh! puro lang propaganda.

    jericho dela cerna. Friday, 21 April 2017 06:45 Comment Link
  • lizaad724

    yes, deals for corruption. it just happened that roxas did not make it to presidency, otherwise, he has a lot of money in his pocket.

    lizaad724 Friday, 21 April 2017 04:49 Comment Link
  • William Benedict L. Alava

    nataman ng scam ang ating bansa... feat. MRoxas & BSAquino. anyway our president's estimation price on the Japanese made fire engine is not that far fetch since our country can request for assistance on the Japanese Government pertaining to the fire engine. (government to government agreement) expected yan na may discount kahit maliit lang ay okay na. kung may pag babasihan na may corruption o anomalya sa deal, magbayad ang dapat magbayad! akala mo kung sinong santo tong mga dilawan na to only to find out na involve sila sa kurapsyon.

    William Benedict L. Alava Friday, 21 April 2017 04:34 Comment Link
  • jose b. taganahan

    There is no brand new fire truck made in Japan complete with accessories which will only cost P8 million pesos contrary to the claim of Pres. Duterte. Neither Roxas nor Sueno is facing raps contrary to the claim of the writers

    jose b. taganahan Friday, 21 April 2017 01:32 Comment Link
  • jose b. taganahan

    There is no brand new fire truck made in Japan complete with accessories which will only cost P8 million pesos contrary to the claim of Pres. Duterte

    jose b. taganahan Friday, 21 April 2017 01:29 Comment Link
  • vg

    This is a major problem DU30 has to deal with: He has inherited many "deals" from the Aquino administration that are not good for the country. Graft and corruption is everywhere in the government.

    vg Friday, 21 April 2017 00:22 Comment Link

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