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Angie M. Rosales

The called probe in the Senate on the alleged poll fraud during the 2016 national election cannot be taken advantaged of by those with pending protest cases.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chair of the joint congressional oversight committee on the Automated Election System (AES), underscored this yesterday as he braced for the inquiry on the recent revelations made by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
“We will not allow our hearings to influence and or affect the pending cases before the SET (Senate Electoral Tribunal) and PET (Presidential Electoral Tribunal),” he said.
“Nor will I allow any of the interested parties thereto to take advantage of the proceedings,” Escudero said in a text message to reporters.
Sotto disclosed in a privilege speech last Tuesday, claiming that there had been early transmission of votes to the transparency servers and board of canvassers long before the scheduled May 9 national elections formally opened.

Currently, there are at least two known poll protest cases pending, one filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who was defeated by former Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo in the vice presidential race in the 2016 elections and another by defeated senatorial candidate, former Metro Manila Development Authority (MDDA) and now presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino against Sen. Leila de Lima.
Tolentino is contesting de Lima being declared as the winning 12th senator in the same poll exercise before the SET.
Escudero said the matter will be taken up by the oversight panel, the schedule of which is still being arranged.

UN rights chief, de Lima gang up on Rody’s war

Saturday, 10 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines


The head of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council and detained Sen. Leila de Lima launched a coordinated attack on President Duterte yesterday as rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein went on a personal attack on the President backed by de Lima’s allegation on Mr. Duterte’s “barbaric statements.” 

The UN human rights chief said Mr. Duterte, who has launched profanity-laced diatribes against United Nations rapporteurs, needs a “psychiatric evaluation”.
Listing some of Manila’s actions against UN officials, Zeid said “it makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”
Zeid and other UN rights officials have focused significant attention on Duterte’s controversial drug war but has been soft on Mynmar’s de facto president where there is genocide being committed on the Rohingyas.
Zeid, in a speech during the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, said following the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) announcement of plans to open a preliminary examination, the (Philippine) authorities announced their willingness to work with the UN on drug-related challenges. 

“I deplore President Duterte’s statement last week to élite police units that they should not cooperate ‘when it comes to human rights, or whoever rapporteur it is’ and the continued vilification of this Council’s Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings by the authorities,” Zeid said.
The government has a duty to uphold human rights and to engage with persons appointed by this Council, he added.
“I am concerned by deepening repression and increasing threats to individuals and groups with independent or dissenting views, including opposition senators, current and former public officials, the Commission on Human Rights, human rights defenders and journalists,” he added.
Zeid claimed several cases for impeachment or dismissal have been launched against members of the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman and other institutions representing democratic safeguards.
“Senator de Lima has now been arbitrarily detained for over a year, without clear charges. This authoritarian approach to governance threatens to irreparably damage 30 years of commendable efforts by the Philippines to strengthen the rule of law and respect for the human rights of the people,” Zeid added.
“I further deplore President Duterte’s encouragement to troops to violate fundamental rules of international humanitarian law, including his statement that they should shoot women fighters in their genitals because this would render them ‘useless’,” he added.
Zeid wants check on drugs war
Zeid added he is urging “all States to examine the effectiveness and human rights impact of their current approaches to the so-called ‘war on drugs’”.
“I urge more comprehensive implementation of the Outcome Document of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem of 2016, including its 15 operational recommendations on human rights and related issues,” he said.
“The cross-cutting UNGASS 2016 approach constitutes a new and better linkage of the objective of drug-control – protection of the health and welfare of humanity – with the key priorities of the UN system, including the SDGs,” Zeid added.
Police have killed more than 4,100 drug suspects but rights groups allege more than 8,000 others have been murdered in what they describe as crimes against humanity.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, has become a particular Duterte target over her criticism of his campaign to stamp out illegal drugs.
In an exchange with Philippine envoys in the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid referred to November media reports from the Philippines that quoted Duterte threatening to slap Callamard, while using profanity.
“These attacks cannot go unanswered,” Zeid told reporters on Friday.
De Lima defends UN defenders
De Lima also took up the cudgels for International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Callamard who were targeted by Mr. Duterte in his tirades.
De Lima slammed what she described as barbaric words uttered by the President against Bensouda and Callamard.
“For someone who is supposedly unperturbed by the ICC’s conduct of a preliminary examination on the Philippines, Duterte gives an inordinate amount of public speeches to lambasting the ICC prosecutor and UN officials,” she said.
“It shows that he has just recently emerged from a cave that has deprived him of civilization all his life. He might call his own son Paolo a ‘gangster’ in the same speech, but anyone listening might as well call the President a caveman,” de Lima added.
The President, last Wednesday, took a potshot at those planning to investigate him over alleged human rights violations, saying that they cannot acquire jurisdiction over him.
“It appears that the President is not entirely unaffected by the threat of an ICC investigation, indictment, and trial. He looks scared, and he is taking out his anxiety over his possible arrest by the ICC on ‘that black woman’ from Ghana,” she said in a statement.
“However, even his worries had not made him study the procedure of the ICC. Duterte is under the impression that he has a say on any future indictment in The Hague, and that he can resist its jurisdiction. He is of course ignorant on what the Rome Statute is all about,” De Lima further said.
“When the time comes, he will just read from the papers that an international warrant of arrest has already been issued against him. He can resist it by hiding in a hole, like Saddam Hussein or Muammar Khaddafy.
But the entire world will be looking for him and hunting him down, in the same way all international criminals indicted by the ICC were chased and hunted down,” de Lima said.
Surely, Duterte will not be able to go out of the country without facing arrest, if and when a warrant is issued against him by the ICC, she said.
“Except of course in China where he will be warmly welcomed and lavishly rewarded as the man who singlehandedly turned the Philippines into a Chinese province,” the senator said.
“Duterte will have no problem hiding in a hole once the ICC calls for his arrest. After all, he has been living in a cave his whole life,” de Lima added.
More Leila warnings
De Lima also warned of the possible return of heavy-handed tactics in the country, which are potentially violative of the Bill of Rights, by seeking to declare 600 personalities, including a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur, declared as terrorists.
“These are human beings. He should address the root causes of the country’s problems instead of harassing and killing people,” she said, in reaction to the Department of Justice’ (DoJ) filing of a motion before a Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) for the said purpose.
De Lima, a human rights advocate, noted that the legal offensive launched by the DoJ is reminiscent of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action Group (IALAG) adopted by the Arroyo administration which was allegedly responsible for the filing of trumped-up charges against some activisits including the Batasan 6 and several other Left personalities.
Reports said that the DoJ sought to have the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its founding chair Jose Maria Sison, New People’s Army (NPA), UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis and former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni among many others be given a tag of terrorists.
“Peace-loving Filipinos should remind the President that suspected drug addicts and political dissidents are not termites that he can ‘exterminate to save the house.’ Violence solves nothing,” she said.
De Lima expressed belief that the latest move of the Duterte administration to declare 600 individuals including progressive legislators and a UN special rapporteur as “terrorists” would only instigate more violence in our country already reeling from the bloodbath incited by this government’s war on drugs.
“One of the few positive steps of this administration was when it pursued peace talks with the rebels. But this radical policy shift of totally annihilating the insurgents puts in doubt its intention from the very beginning of the dialog,” she said.
The President, de Lima said, should understand that peace-building is a painstaking process and that there are legitimate grievances such as injustice, poverty and lack of economic opportunities fueling insurgency in the country.
“It’s not too late to go back to the negotiating table if this government is really sincere in looking for non-violent means to address the communist rebellion in the country. Unless, that is, Duterte’s true intention is to establish an authoritarian regime that eliminates dissent and kills democracy,” she said. 


Lacson dismayed over mere 10 fratmen rapped

Saturday, 10 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

The filing of criminal charges on only 10 out of almost 19 named principal accused in the killing of University of Santo Tomas (UST) freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III during a hazing rite is a source of dismay, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson. 

“Basing it on the evidence gathered and presented during the public hearings conducted by the Senate on the Atio hazing case, the DoJ (Department of Justice) panel may have overlooked or disregarded the cover-up angle committed by the other frat members not included in the indictment,” Lacson said in a statement.
“The pieces of evidence like the authenticated contents of the group chat participated in by clearly identified members and officers, the video footage and other documents should have been enough for the DoJ to find probable cause to also charge them for being accessories after the fact at the very least,” he pointed out.
Lacson, chairman of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, led the Senate inquiry into the death of Castillo and his panel, in its report submitted to the plenary last Jan. 24, moved for the disbarment proceedings against those members of the Aegis Juris fraternity implicated in the said hazing incident and recommended the filing of criminal charges for obstruction of justice.

The committee asked the DoJ to look into the planned cover up by resident and alumni members based on the information they gathered in the hearings conducted by the Senate.
Sen. Win Gatchalian, on the other hand, viewed the filing of charges by the DoJ as a step closer to achieving justice for Castillo.
A step closer to justice
“I hope that the courts will resolve this case with the utmost diligence so that we can finally put Atio’s killers behind bars,” Gatchalian said.
The senator said he’s happy to hear that those accused of being participants in the brutal killing of Castillo had already been indicted for violating the Anti-Hazing Law.
“This brings us one step closer to achieving justice for Atio,” he said.
Gatchalian has urged his colleagues to expedite the approval of the landmark anti-hazing legislation which will not only regulate but completely prohibit all forms of hazing.
The senator, in standing as co-sponsor of Senate bill 1662 which seeks to amend the Anti-Hazing Law, said the measure will close glaring loopholes in the 23-year-old law that were uncovered by the Senate during its probe on the Castillo case.
The bill establishes clear-cut responsibilities and liabilities of educational institutions in preventing and policing hazing and severely punish resident and alumni members of fraternities who would dare attempt to frustrate the ends of justice by covering up the hazing crimes committed by fraternity brothers, he said.
Last Thursday, the DoJ filed criminal charges against 10 members of Aegis Juris Fraternity over the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III from hazing last September.


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