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Angie M. Rosales

Liberal Party (LP) senators in the minority bloc yesterday closed ranks in assailing the filing of inciting to sedition charges against their colleague, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV calling it harassment by the administration and a race of sycophants of civil servants.

They also slammed the prosecutors’ dismissal of the cases against Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, said to be drug lords, despite their being aware that this was not a final dismissal.
Predictably, however, it was an opportunity for them to use this against President Duterte and DoJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima joined her colleagues in slamming the filing of charges against Trillanes, alluding to the prosecutor handling the case as possibly being done to to earn brownie points from Malacañang and eyeing a promotion.
“It looks like everybody in the National Prosecution Service of the DoJ (Department of Justice) is now gunning for promotion and rewards,” she said in a statement.
“I cringe at the thought of what our civil service will look like at the end of (President) Duterte’s term, the DoJ and the National Prosecution Service in particular,” de Lima added.

The senator, a former DoJ secretary, noted the prosecutor who absolved Bureau of Customs (BoC) officials and other individuals who were implicated in the P6.4 billion smuggling of shabu from China as well as in the case involving self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa along with purported drug lords Peter Lim and Peter Co, was appointed as a regional trial court (RTC) judge recently by Duterte.
Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes took his oath of office as RTC judge last Feb. 2, following the dismissal of the cases, she said.
It was already stated by President Duterte that had he known that the prosecutor dismissed the case against Peter Lim et al, he would not have appointed Reyes to a judgeship.
“This time, it is Pasay City Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Joahna Gabatino-Lim’s turn to gun for her own promotion and to collect her reward,” de Lima said.
Lim charged Trillanes with the crime of inciting to sedition for allegedly inquiring into the bank accounts and hidden wealth of President Duterte and his family.
In her resolution, Lim said that Trillanes’s inquiry into Duterte’s hidden wealth is not in aid of legislation, and thereby purely imputes graft and corruption on the person and family of the President and constitutes the crime of inciting to sedition.
“In their bid for promotions, and in light of the obvious breakdown of the system of meritocracy in government service today, public prosecutors seem to be in a race of who can first file, or dismiss, as the case may be, the case that pleases Malacañang the most,” she said.
“Apparently, one of them is more enthusiastic than the others and has just made the act of criticizing and holding public officials accountable a crime of inciting to sedition. For her outlandish finding that criticizing public officials now constitutes the crime of inciting to sedition, Lim’s upcoming promotion obviously will be based on things other than her mastery of the law,” de Lima added.
Lim’s findings are ludicrous as she has made petition-signing for accountability a crime, the senator said.
Though admittedly the crime of sedition is an archaic colonial law used against Filipino patriots during the American period, Lim’s action is the most absurd attempt to stretch its coverage in the post-Edsa era, as to encompass even the basic exercise of the freedom of expression, she said.
“Of course, VACC’s and the (DoJ Secretary VItaliano) Aguirre DoJ’s action is another attempt to silence administration critics. And in a regime where meritocracy and competence have no more value, they are only too eagerly assisted by many public servants who are only too willing to get ahead the easy way, that is, by accomplishing what is most endearing to Malacañang, no matter how outrageously unjust,” she said.
“This is no longer being done by said civil servants for purposes of basic professional survival under a malevolent regime. This has now become a race among sycophants and the mediocre performers in government — those who cannot get ahead based solely on merit and competence — as it is now their chance to thrive in a kakistocracy of the worst and the most incompetent, where the only requirement for promotion is kissing the posterior of Malacañang officials,” de Lima said.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon shared de Lima’s contention saying that Trillanes cannot be charged with inciting to sedition since he made the statement, being alluded to as seditious, during a privilege speech.
“It violates the absolute parliamentary immunity for privilege speeches as established in Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution,” he said in a joint statement with Senators Bam Aquino and Francis Pangilinan issued Friday.
“It cannot be a case of of inciting to sedition since what Trillanes mentioned was what President Duterte to the military at that time,” ” Drilon said.
In his speech delivered last October, Trillanes was quoted as saying that the “military should shoot Duterte with an M-60 machine gun for his alleged hidden wealth.”
Pangilinan claimed that the government is applying double standard in the filing of cases as its known allies avoided serious charges while critics as being slapped with trumped-up charges.
The Liberal Party Senators should refresh their memory and hardk back to the time the yellows were in power and position, where the most blatant brand of selective justice was applied on their political foes.
He cited the case against Bureau of Customs (BoC) officials led by former Comm. Nicanor Faeldon who evaded being criminally charged in the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu as well as the dismissal of the drug charges by the DoJ against self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa and businessman Peter Lim who was reported to be a “kumpadre” of President Duterte.
Both Lim and Duterte were once co-sponsors in a wedding several years ago.
“What hurts is that the prosecutor who absolved Kerwin at Peter Lim was promoted as a judge. Is this the reward for a good job of dismissing the case?,” asked Pangilinan.
Aquino, for his part, said that it no longer came as a surprise to him to learn of the latest harassment against one of the staunch critics of the administration.
Prosecs should have advised PNP for additional proof—Bato
For Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, the panel of prosecutors that dismissed the charges against alleged druglord Kerwin Espinosa and two others should have advised the police to add more evidence to strengthen the case.
Dela Rosa, in a press briefing in Camp Crame, said the PNP and the prosecutors should work as a “team” under one government in addressing the drug menace.
“If they thought that it was weak, why did they not inform us…we are a team…even if we are separate in the pillar of criminal justice system, we are still under the chief executive, under the executive branch of government,” said dela Rosa.
“They should have asked us to add (more pieces of evidence) because it was weak…otherwise it will be dismissed. They did not tell us,” he added.
Judge Aristotle Reyes, a former prosecutor with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and part of the panel that produced the December 20 resolution, said they decided the case based on available evidence.
According to Reyes, the prosecution was not mandated to require parties to the case—in this case the police and alleged drug personalities—to provide evidence.
Doing so, Reyes said, would amount to “lawyering” for either party, an action that could in a hypothetical situation make him liable for grave abuse of discretion or an administrative case.
But dela Rosa stressed that the prosecutors were “conscience-bound” to help the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) strengthen the case considering the respondents are all high-profile alleged drug lords.
“Yes, it was not their duty, it was the job of the investigators the CIDG to gather (evidence)…but by conscience, you knew that these are big druglords…as I have said they (prosecuotrs) are not duty-bound but conscience bound,” dela Rosa lamented.
In a 41-page resolution approved by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan and dated December 20, 2017, the resolution said the “uncorroborated statements” of the complainant’s witness, Marcelo Adorco, could not be admissible evidence against the respondents.
The resolution described Adorco as an “evidently self-serving witness.”
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has already formed a three-man panel of prosecutors tasked to handle the motion for reconsideration filed by the CIDG following the dismissal of the case against Espinosa, alleged druglord Peter Lim and convicted druglord Peter Co.
CIDG chief Director Roel Obusan earlier countered that Adorco was a credible witness being a participant to the crimes committed by Espinosa, whom he (Adorco) served as driver-bodyguard.
Meanwhile, the PNP’s left-hand effort Project Tokhang operations continued to post the increasing number of surrenderers as the anti-illegal drugs initiative reactivated this year with no cases of armed confrontation with drug suspects.
As of March 12, 2018, the PNP, through the Directorate for Operations (DO), reported 4,548 surrenderers through various Tokhang activities nationwide. Police Regional Office 10 recorded the highest number of Tokhang activities with 1,016 and listed 529 drug surrenderees followed by Police Regional Office 3 with 1005 Tokhang activities with 656 drug surrendereers.
On the other hand, police drug enforcement units arrested 12,185 drug personalities from 7,744 operations conducted while 118 died in police operations from December 5, 2017 to March 5, 2018 on PNP’s continuing intensified anti-illegal drug campaign.
Moreover, the PNP, through the Directorate for Intelligence (DI), divulged 12,287 drug personalities included in their validated Drug Watchlist dated from December 5, 2017 to February 15,2018.
Dela Rosa stressed that “Tokhang” operations are intelligence-driven, targeting suspected illegal drug personalities listed in the watchlist.
Intelligence authority pointed out the thorough validation of Drug Watchlist will continue with the support of Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs) nationwide. With Mario J. Mallari

Nancy bucks 1-year closure of Boracay

Saturday, 17 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

Sen. Nancy Binay stood in opposition to the recommendation of the interagency task force on Boracay to close the popular resort island for a period of one year, saying that such move is not the best solution.

Binay, chairman of the Senate committee on tourism, assailed the lack of any concrete and clear-cut policy and steps to be undertaken by the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Tourism (DoT).
“A one-year total closure may not be the best solution for the island and its locals,” she said.
“Although we all agree that a moratorium on building construction be imposed, and we share the same observation that overcommercialization has created a serious environmental disaster, but there’s one aspect of problem the DENR, DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and DoT are facing. The likely loss of 17,000 jobs hasn’t quite resonated that may be caused by the impact of a total closure,” Binay said.
“What’s troublesome about the DENR’s and the DoT’s recommendation is that wala silang konkretong hakbang kung ano ang gagawin sa mga madi-displace (they have no concrete solution for those who would be displaced),” the senator further said.
Binay said a phase-by-phase rehabilitation where government can strictly enforce the law and at the same time implement the needed corrective measures could be the better option for Boracay.
“We want the island to breathe the same way we want the people of Boracay to live,” she said.
Sen. JV Ejercito stood in approval of the recommendation saying that it’s worth considering.
“Boracay has been abused and exploited through the years. Boracay has to be allowed breathe, to recuperate and be allowed for its wounds to heal,” he said.
“We might as well save Boracay which is one of our country’s treasures and enjoy it longer than to see its demise if we do not do something about it,” Ejercito said.
The closure of Boracay, which has been declared in a state of calamity for six months, will begin on April 26.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the interagency task force on Boracay will recommend the closure of the island to President Duterte to give time to the national government in carrying out its undisrupted implementation of several measures that will help restore and sustain the island as a major destination.

Trillanes faces sedition raps

Friday, 16 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines


The Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office, citing “reasonable ground,” has recommended the filing of inciting to sedition charges against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and other unnamed personalities for allegedly encouraging rebellious acts through his speeches against the administration of President Duterte.
In a resolution dated March 14, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Joahna Gabatino-Lim approved the filing of the case against Trillanes for violation of inciting to sedition (Article 142, Revised Penal Code or RPC) based on the complaint filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras, who is currently a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
The inciting to sedition case with a P12,000 bail for each of the accused has been raffled to Pasay Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 45.
Trillanes, in a statement, said he is not alarmed by the possibility of being arrested anew and an eventual detention on similar charges he faced as a rebel soldier.
“If the purpose of this is to frighten me to make me back off from criticizing (President) Duterte, well as I have said beforehand, I am more motivated to stand against wrong and evil deeds,” he said in a statement.
The complaint cited the statements made by Trillanes against Mr. Duterte in his privilege speech at the Senate last Oct. 3, that the soldiers may shoot the President upon the latter’s wish if the allegations of hidden wealth would be proven.

During his privilege speech, the lawmaker also made statements about the alleged millions of pesos of ill-gotten wealth of Duterte which is bogus. This case has also been dismissed by the Ombudsman.
“Trillanes not only repeatedly uttered seditious words or speeches (Art. 142, R.P.C.) and unabatedly circulated scurrilous libels against the President (Art. 142, R.P.C.), which tend to disturb the public peace, but also repeatedly incited others to inflict any hate or revenge upon his person (Art. 142, in relation to Art. 139 (3), R.P.C.,” read the complaint.
Trillanes is insisting on the evidence consisting of bank transaction records allegedly to have been sourced from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), despite the AMLC’s disclaimer that the documents did not come from them.
The purported bank transaction documents, which Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang also claimed he is in possession of, was disavowed by the AMLC. This was deemed as falsified evidence.
The lawyers also took to task Trillanes’ record of major involvements in notable coups d’ etat during the Arroyo administration.
For his involvements in these incidents, Trillanes’ assurance that yellow-oriented the group TindigPilipinas’ nationwide signature drive calling on Duterte to sign a waiver for his bank records appear to lack credibility, the complaint stated.
Though Trillanes assured the petition-signing drive is not a destabilization attempt, the complainants said the lawmaker “lacks credibility given his record of major involvement in coups d’ etat or destabilization attempts.”
The complainants cited the senator’s record of major involvements in coups d’ etat during the Arroyo administration - Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the Marine standoff last February 2006 and the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.
Trillanes and other members of Magdalo soldiers were charged with coups d’ etat over the said incidents in court, but they were cleared after being granted amnesty by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.
Aside from Paras, the complainants include lawyers Glenn Chong, Nasser Marohomsalic, Nestor Ifurung, Eligio Mallari and Eduardo Bringas, and Louise Biraogo.
DoJ dismisses other rap
The charge of conspiracy and proposal to commit a military rebellion was, however, junked by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in its review.
“The charge for conspiracy and proposal to commit coup d’etat cannot prosper. The acts complained of do not show that respondent proposes to other persons in the commission of the crime of coup d’etat,” the DoJ resolution read.
“The utterances he made may have been suggestive to fall within the scope of inciting to sedition but it is not sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that he directly proposes to others a swift attack accompanied by violence, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth against the government,” it added.
The resolution also said that “the utterances made against the President and his family regarding bank transanctions and bank deposit in huge amounts, thereby imputing commission of graft and corruptions against them is entirely not in aid of legislation.”
“To say the least the speech is purely an attack to the President and his family. The allegations contained in the speech were not even supported by documentary proof. Worthy to note is the fact that the AMLC denied being the source of the documents and information attached by respondent in his complaint regarding the alleged bank accounts,” read the resolution approved by Officer-in-Charge City Prosecutor Benjamin Lanto.
DoJ’s Lim said that the complaint conspiracy and commit coup d’etat (Article 136, RPC), and graft (Section 3(e), Republic Act 3019) against Trillanes has been dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Ready to face accusers
Trillanes wasted no time in addressing the recommendation approving the filing of inciting to sedition charges against him stemming from his tirades against President Duterte contained in a privilege speech delivered in Oct. last year.
The senator said he is ready to face his accusers in court and defend himself for the utterances he made in a privilege speech which the complainants, lawyers affiliated with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) constitute inciting to sedition.
The specifically referred to the senator’s statement in his speech that the “military should shoot Duterte with an M-60 machine gun for his alleged hidden wealth.”
“Not like Duterte who is afraid of facing charges, I will face this. It is clear that this is crooked and was meant to pressure me which is based on a privilege speech I made at the Senate which has a constitutionally-guaranteed immunity from suit, and I never incited anybody to do anything,” he stressed.
Trillanes said in his speech, he merely challenged Duterte to prove that he is not corrupt and sign a waiver “for soldiers to finally know whether or not you have amassed ill-gotten wealth and for you to clear your name to those who still believe in you.”
“If the soldiers could see this, they will use an M-60 machine gun on you. These are many. The magazines will be emptied if you’re looking for P40 million,” the senator said.


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