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Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Prolonging the useless probe

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 00:00 Published in Commentary

Sen. Koko Pimentel, who chairs the panel, hinted at putting a stop to the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing the other day, saying that so far, his initial report shows negative findings on the allegations of the Makati Building ll overprice.
Of course, he said Sen. Sonny Trillanes, who is the author of the resolution for the inquiry can argue with him, but that he has to justify his reason for continuing with the probe.
Trillanes has announced that the probe will have eight more sessions, even when he is aware of the fact that the allegations made by the foes of Mercado, led by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and his group, can’t be proved, because the paper trail shows that it is not Vice President Binay who is the owner of the so-called Hacienda Binay, as no official and legal document exists to prove his ownership. His some 20 years in Statements of Assets, Liabilities and networth (SALn) appeared to be in order.
It is safe to say that Trillanes will use the recent Social Weather Stations survey saying that some 79 percent of respondents want Binay to attend the Senate hearings, but I wouldn’t place too much trust in the yellow manipulated surveys, especially since the same survey was conducted at the same time a finding of 70 percent are satisfied with, and trust Binay.
If that many people trust and are satisfied with Binay, and since it has already been shown in another survey that the majority of respondents conducted during the same period believe that the Senate hearings are politically motivated, why should 79 percent of respondents suddenly want Binay to attend the politically-motivated hearings?
Results of these quarterly surveys by two survey audits are much too questionable, considering that the variances in survey findings in numbers when the surveys were conducted at practically the same time.
There are just too many investigations on the same issues against Binay, which make these worse than forum shopping in courtrooms.
There is the Senate subcommittee, the Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation and the Ombudsman Office’s investigation.
It does not make sense for three investigative bodies, especially the Senate, to conduct hearings, while claiming that such hearings are in aid of legislation, and whatever its findings are, these will be sent to the Ombudsman for proper evaluation. DoJ’s Leila de Lima says the same. Her findings will be sent to the Ombudsman, yet the Ombudsman had already been investigating this issue, and she does have her own field investigators. This is triplicate work and a waste of time and money, considering that VP Binay can hardly be impeached on allegations when he was still the Makati mayor.
It is also much too evident that the Senate panelists have already prejudged the outcome of the hearings. Trillanes has stated publicly too many times that Binay is corrupt and guilty of taking kickbacks from all buildings in Makati, relying on the claims of Mercado and his group that has not been able to substantiate any of their allegations, and Trillanes knows it, but he keeps up with his accusations, and has proven too many times that he is guilty of threatening witnesses by filing plunder charges against them, simply because they do not follow his line which is for them to say that Binay is indeed guilty as alleged by Mercado.
Mercado, a self admitted plunderer, is being treated like a hero and a credible whistle-blower by Trillanes and Sen. Alan Cayetano and he has been given virtual immunity by Leila de Lima, who seems to have a penchant for coddling self-admitted crooks, such as Benhur Luy and Mercado and his ilk, yet she claims to be impartial.
But just getting them into the witness protection program already shows prejudgment on her part, as she shouldn’t have placed Mercado and company under the WPP, at least until she has them substantiate their accusations with hard evidence, which they don’t have.
It is best for Pimentel to end the probe. It doesn’t do him, as well as the two attack dogs and the Senate as an institution, any good.



Freed due to ransom payment

Monday, 20 October 2014 00:00 Published in Commentary

From the day the kidnappings of foreigners — as well as Filipino media personalities — by the Abu Sayyaf started, there was never a time when the military succeeded in rescuing the Muslim bandits’ hostages. The kidnapped victims were always released by the Abu Sayyaf.
And the reason they were freed was due to the fact that the ransom demanded by the kidnap group was always paid.
Naturally, the government keeps on claiming that it never pays ransom, since a policy of no negotiations with terrorists and no ransom is in place, although everyone knows that money changes hands for the kidnap victims’ release by the Abu Sayyaf, which can only mean there were negotiations and ransom demands — at least on the money part — were met.
The latest hostages, German nationals Stefan Okonek and his partner Henrike Dielen were released, not rescued by the bandit group after some P250 million was paid for their release.
The military uses the term “recovered” as it can hardly claim to have rescued the victims.
But the military insists on still getting credit for the claimed “recovery,” claiming that no ransom was paid and that the Abu Sayyaf was forced to free its captives because government troops were already closing in on the group.
That’s crap, coming from the military and yet another of its way of covering up for its inability and incompetence all these decades in failing to rescue various hostages of the Abu Sayyaf.
If the presence of the expanded military troops in the area were enough to pressure the Abu Sayyaf to release its hostages, which is the usual military propaganda, it stands to reason that all other hostages — and there are still a lot of them — should have been released by the bandit group but merely sending more troops to the area to pressure the bandits to release their hostages. Yet to this day, the group still has its hostages, Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin and a Filipino worker kidnapped on June 16;  a Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was seized in June 12; a 64-year-old Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito, who was kidnapped from Pangutaran Island in July 2010; and two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were taken from the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-Tawi in 2012.
Why then has the military been unable to rescue or recover these kidnap victims by simply sending in more troops to the areas where the bandit group operates, and use that same “pressure” to get the bandits to release these hostages? To this day, the military and police can’t even catch these bandits.
The answer is that it is not the claimed military pressure of numerous troops in the area, but that ransom has not been met in their cases.
It looks more like the military and the local governments in Sulu were not moving at all — even when it was deadline time, because they were all waiting for the ransom money to arrive for the hostages to be freed.
And the money — some P250 million — arrived, with reports saying that a private jet delivered 12 trolley bags containing cash in Jolo and that several bags full of money had been left in the plane, evidently, for some members of the Abu Sayyaf group to get hold of the money in exchange for the freedom of the hostages.
Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, a spokesman for the Armed Forces, said the military “has no information on that (ransom payments) but suffice to say that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other security forces do not and will not negotiate with terrorists and kidnappers.”
That’s BS. If there were no negotiations with the bandit group, the deadline would not have been extended, and neither would the reported German negotiator have been able to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf without a local official and the military facilitating these negotiations.
It’s all a matter of the Aquino administration and its military trying to save face again.

Pay up, it’s been long delayed

Sunday, 19 October 2014 00:00 Published in Commentary

Joseph Emilio Abaya, Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) recently announced that by January 2015, the NAIA 3 will be fully operational and presumably under government control.
He may not be able to do this, considering the fact that the Court of Appeals (CA), in a ruling released Friday, made it clear that the Aquino government, through the DoTC, is banned from exercising ownership of the NAIA Terminal 3, until the government pays the Philippine International Air Terminal Co., without releasing the just compensation it owes Piatco after government expropriated the NAIA-3.
The funds are said to have been placed in escrow and the Aquino government, especially through Mar Roxas, then chief of the DoTC kept on refusing to pay Piatco just compensation, and instead just took over the terminal, getting a local airline to operate from NAIA-3, as well as other airlines, granting spaces to concessionaires, and even making a profit from the fees charged, without paying the owners any money for years.
In fact, government was already illegally — in all that time, from the expropriation to today — exercising ownership of the NAIA-3, without giving the rightful owners their just compensation.
As the CA said: “the government cannot legally exercise full ownership over the NAIA-3 until after it releases from escrow account the P16 billion just compensation earlier awarded to  Piatco.
It is puzzling why the government refuses to pay just compensation to Piatco, given the fact that the money is supposedly in escrow, and could easily be handed over to Piatco.
Instead, the dispute went to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), whose judge, however, gravely abused its power, disregarding the body created by the Supreme Court (SC) to come up with right amount as just compensation.
This body’s findings were totally ignored by the RTC judge, who not only made his own estimate of the just compensation, which was much lower, and followed instead the estimate of just compensation submitted by then DoTC Chief Mar Roxas.
Investors, beware of a Roxas presidency, which is likely to screw them after expropriating their businesses and investments!
As the CA said: the Pasay City RTC “gravely abused its discretion” in allowing the government to deposit in escrow account the amount of $371.43 million or P16 billion and imposing conditions for its release to Piatco.
The RTC Judge’s Omnibus Order was declared void by the CA as the judge ordered the government to pay Piatco just compensation in the amount of $175.787, 245, less the preferred value (P3,002,125,000) then placed in escrow, imposing several conditions before the same could be released to petitioner.
“Accordingly, its ruling that the Republic may exercise full rights of ownership over the Terminal 3 facilities upon payment of just compensation in an escrow account, is likewise, void,” the CA said.
It noted that the amount of just compensation is still the subject of appeal before the SC, thus, it was wrong for the Pasay RTC to declare that the government can now exercise full ownership of the airport facilities by mere deposit of just compensation to an escrow account as this is not sanctioned by law or supported by jurisprudence.
The conditions imposed by the judge, who had earlier been reported as allegedly trying to extort a sizable amount from Piatco, virtually ordered the ceding of ownership to the government without the state having to pay the owner anything.
Obviously. The judge favored the Roxas DoTC, which was exactly what Roxas wanted as payment to Piatco and only after Piatco fulfills the conditions, which was a double screwing by the government.
The CA said the conditions imposed by the Pasay RTC makes it legally impossible for Piatco to get the just compensation.
Since the government has been delaying the payment, the modified decision fixed the just compensation for Piatco at $300,206,639 less $59,438,604 paid in September or the net sum of $240,786,035 with legal interest at six percent.
It ordered the government to pay Piatco just compensation which has reached $4371,426,688.24 as of July 31, 2013 and running.
And this administration says it does not steal? What has it been doing all these years, taking control of a terminal and exercising ownership and profiting from it, without giving the owners their just compensation?






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