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Ninez Cacho-Olivares

No inquiry on corruption in Taguig?

Friday, 28 November 2014 00:00 Published in Commentary

Sen. Alan Cayetano styles himself as a moral crusader, a faithful follower of Noynoy Aquino’s “straight path,” “good governance” and a plunder buster, apart from being a destroyer of political rivals whom he and his cohorts, Senators Sonny Trillanes and Koko Pimentel, immediately judge, kangaroo style in the Senate hearings, as guilty, despite the lack of evidence.
Well, what do you know, the hypocrital bible-quoting senator from Taguig and his cohorts in the Senate haven’t gone after Cayetano’s wife, Mayor Lani, whom the Commission on Audit (CoA), which agency Cayetano swears by and praised when it goes against their prey, the Vice President, has not only found ghost employees in his city, numbering some 3,200, but has also asked his wife to account for the unexplained P317.4 million the city government spent on salaries of its contractual employees, who were nowhere to be found.
There were no payroll documents for its job order personnel. CoA also questioned Mayor Lani’s decision to hire contractual workers that cost Taguig nearly P487 million. What? No probe, no plunder? No judgment of guilty?
The state audit agency was quoted in the report as saying that the “absence of the payroll register and the specific places of assignment of the job order personnel under the different programs of the city” hindered its audit of the amount given to contractual workers.
If the CoA digs some more, the irregularities would hit over a billion pesos and more, if the audit years were added up.
Cayetano’s wife earlier was found by the CoA to have given bonuses to contractors, who are not employees.
Much earlier, the CoA also found that the senator’s pork barrel went to ghost projects.
There was also the “doubtful existence” of medicines and medical, dental, laboratory and office supplies in city hall’s inventory amounting to nearly P102.3 million. That’s already close to P1 billion initially being questioned by the CoA, plus more irregularities to be found.
What, no inquiry being called by the three attack dogs in the Senate subcommittee who claim that their hearings against Vice President Jojo Binay is in aid of legislation, and to come up with a measure on the way local governments spend on funds and engage in corruption?
Mayor Lani has been complained against for the crime of plunder, but the Ombudsman, who is a devotee of the yellow administration and protective of the yellow allies, has not moved to indict her and charge her before the Sandiganbayan.
A report from a daily said that the CoA commissioner Heidi Mendoza submitted the 918-page report to President Aquino on Sept. 25.
Much much earlier, CoA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan also submitted an advance copy to Noynoy on her CoA special audit on the pork barrel, which were clearly vetted by Noynoy, since neither his, nor Mar Roxas’ pork barrel funds and special allotment release orders, or SAROs were included in the audit, apart from the fact that the legislator-allies’ pork barrel funds had only an audit of anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent of their SAROs, while the opposition legislators, especially the three Senate leaders, were audited 100 percent. If that is not bias and selective, what is?
But there really is something very strange for the CoA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza and her chief, Pulido-Tan, who are supposed to be independent as the CoA is a constitutional office, and not a supervised one by the Executive, to be submitting CoA audits to the Malacañang tenant, when there is no reason for them to submit such CoA audits to him, even as he has no powers under the Constitution to do vet any of these audits.
Are all these audit submissions to Noynoy, done for him to vet these reports?
This CoA audit was submitted last Sept. 25, and was not made public and perhaps would not have been made public if a copy was not leaked to the daily newspaper.
Notably, the CoA has not made any audit on the Office of the President for a number of years. If it has done audits, these have never been made public by the CoA. This is yet another case of a prostituted constitutional office providing the Malacañang tenant his protective shield.
CoA does not live up to what the Constitution demands of this agency. Allies, Cayetano included, are protected, while political foes are dealt a heavy hand by CoA, the Justice chief, the Ombudsman, and the Malacañang tenant.
Where went Nonoy, Cayetano, Trillanes and the Liberal Party’s straight path and good governance?
To hypocrisy, that’s where.

Dreaming

Thursday, 27 November 2014 00:00 Published in Commentary

Sen. Sonny Trillanes can kiss his dream of becoming president after the 2016 polls goodbye — certainly not under the Nacionalista Party which, whether he and his fellow NPs, admit it publicly, has been in hibernation since 2010 — after the poll defeat of then presidential candidate Manny Villar.
But Trillanes told reporters that he is definitely gunning for the presidency, saying that he along with colleagues — Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and NP president, former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. — are the possible contenders of NP to the presidential race in 2016.
Truth to tell, if the NP does put up a presidential team from its ranks, Sen. Bongbong Marcos has a better chance of becoming the NP standard bearer. For one, he has a strong base in Ilocandia and Leyte. Trillanes has none. And Marcos has the wherewithal to fund a presidential campaign. But even Bongbong knows that the presidency is not for him to win at this time — not when Noynoy Aquino and the yellows continue to revive the Aquino hatred for the Marcoses which was on the throes of death after Cory’s term ended.
Chances are high that Bongbong will be running for re-election and not even the vice presidency under an LP-NP coalition.
Admit it or not, the NP can’t go it alone in 2016, much less stitch together a full slate of an NP presidential tandem and 12 senators.
This was also the reason the NP went into a coalition with the Liberal Party (LP) on the basis of the senatorial slate in 2013, where the NP was able to get three Senate slots out of 12.
The presidency may be Trillanes’ dream, but the political reality is that the NP will have to coalesce again in 2016 with the LP, which already has a putative standard bearer in Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, despite all that melodrama about Noynoy anointing an outsider and a consensus style of choosing the LP’s presidential bet.
Trillanes can dream of the vice presidency, but at the moment, the best bet for an LP outsider to have as its vice presidential bet is Sen. Chiz Escudero, who rates higher in surveys than Trillanes, who has made an ass of himself at the multiple hearings in aid of election for himself and in aid of demolition of VP Jojo Binay.
Still, he and his NP partner, Alan Cayetano, can dream of the vice presidency and getting that coalition slot for the VP position. After all, they have served Noynoy and Malacañang well in doing what they wanted from the three senators: Conducting multiple hearings on the alleged overpriced Makati buildings that have morphed into corruption issues including allegations of Binay’s dummies, which they failed to prove.
But despite their canine devotion to Noynoy and his administration, serving as their attack dogs in the Senate, Trillanes and Cayetano will have to improve their pre-election survey ratings. At this time, however, VP Binay, despite the fact that his survey numbers have gone down, is still miles and miles ahead of Trillanes and Cayetano and any other presidential wannabes.
Of course, elections are still one and a half years away, and things can change, but with all the muck thrown at VP Binay the past months courtesy of the three attack dogs, Binay still hasn’t been tarred that much, as the pre-election surveys have shown — especially the non-yellow surveys that have shown that Binay hasn’t gone down that much despite the attacks leveled at him during these multiple Senate yellow ribbon subcomittee hearings.
Still, Trillanes claims he has an edge over the VP, as he said that he is not a crook, and that this should be the prime consideration of the electorate.
Have I got news for Trillanes: That won’t be the issue in 2016, because the electorate knows it has been had by Noynoy and his administration’s hypocrisy in corruption and good governance spiels, since it is turning out that it is he and his administrators who have turned up as the most corrupt government officials the Filipinos have ever had.
The 2016 election issue will be performance and experience.
The Filipino voters are done with corrupt politicians in, and allied with, the administration who portray themselves as saintly politicians who tread the straight path, when they are in reality, merrily treading the very crooked path. They are done with hypocrites.

Different legal strokes for foes

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 00:00 Published in Commentary

Among the impediments in the court’s delay in resolving cases, the chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC) stated in a speech in a journalist forum, is, she said, the quality of state prosecutors to expedite trials.”
“Our processes depend a great deal on good prosecutorial work and an equally good defense, both cooperating and not obstructing the processes of the court, in order that expeditious trial can be realized. And even if there is popular belief in the guilt of the accused, if the prosecution can only muster a weak case, we have to dismiss,” Sereno recounted the dilemma of officers of the court.
In most high profile political cases, however, it has been noted that in this country, officers of the court, lawyers, Ombudsman, prosecutors and yes, especially the Department of Justice (DoJ), are politically vulnerable to the Executive branch and are partisan. They are easily swayed by public opinion, and under political pressure, the DoJ under Leila de Lima, quickly puts together complaints against high profile politicians, which complaints and cases can hardly stand before independent courts of law.
And as the cases filed are basically weak, the DoJ quickly places under the witness protection program (WPP) its so-called whistle-blowers who are self-admitted crooks and who are not even the least guilty and just as quickly the Ombudsman grants them immunity from suit.
In other democratic countries, where the rule of law and the judicial system works, a suspect is not immediately arrested and charged, even if the authorities are convinced that the suspect committed the crime. But as they have no physical evidence, such as the DNA of the suspect, or the so-called smoking gun with which to secure a conviction, the same authorities would have to let the suspect go, and only charge him after gathering sufficient evidence with which to increase the chances of conviction of the suspect who then becomes the accused.
But not so in this country and under the current partisan DoJ and Ombudsman.
Its government witnesses, under the WPP, are obviously being coached, for the DoJ and the prosecutors to “strengthen” their weak case and it does not seem to matter to the concerned authorities that perjury is being suborned, which is also a criminal offense.
And because, despite all the perjury committed by the government witnesses, the case remains weak, even in bail hearings, which should be summary in nature, hearings are being dragged by the prosecutors, which results in a longer detention period for the accused — and if bail is not granted, either for political reasons or otherwise, the accused can rot in jail until the case finally reaches the high court, which can take 20 years or so with the end result of the accused being acquitted.
This wrongful arrest, along with the wrongful conviction is best exemplified in the case of Hubert Webb, who spent close to two decades in jail, only to be acquitted by the Supreme Court.
It was even bared that the National Bureau of Investigation not only coached its witness who claimed to be an eyewitness, but also suddenly “lost” the semen sample from the rapist for DNA testing. That Webb was framed was evident, yet he had to lose close to 20 years of his life, rotting in jail.
Bail hearings are today being made easier by the high court, but the problem is that the prosecutors, more than the defense, are not heeding the high court in shortening the bail hearings period, and the reason for this is that the prosecutors have a weak case against the accused.
Bail hearings can go faster if judicial affidavits are used, yet the prosecutors who have a weak case against the accused, refuse to agree to submit judicial affidavits from their witnesses, preferring to go through direct examinations where the heavily coached witness for the prosecution goes into more preposterous accusations which were never stated in earlier testimonies mostly hearsay — and all done by the prosecution to get more media play against the accused. And such practices will continue as long as politics will aways be behind all these charges.
The other big problem facing the accused and their defense lawyers is the fact that judges, justices and yes, prosecutors, sometimes apply different rulings on an issue that has already been ruled by the same anti-graft courts, such as allowing the opening of the bank accounts of persons who do not stand as an accused, despite the bank secrecy law. This was done in the plunder case against former President Joseph Estrada, where his son, JV Ejercito, who was not one of the accused, had his bank accounts bared, as ordered by the court.
But in the recent case in the bail hearing of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the prosecution insists that Benhur Luy and his company of whistle-blowers’ bank accounts cannot be bared since they are not the accused, citing the bank secrecy law. Yet in the case of the accused, even the sons and daughters and even close friends of the accused, the Ombudsman and her prosecutors insist on having their bank accounts scrutinized.
Why can’t one and the same standard be followed?
The answer is obvious. Politics is smeared all over these cases.

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