Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 04 October 2017

Sandigan affirms ‘pork’ raps vs Syjuco

The Sandiganbayan will proceed with the trial of former Iloilo congressman Augusto Syjuco Jr. for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel. File

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan will proceed with the trial of former Iloilo congressman Augusto Syjuco Jr. for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

In a resolution released on Wednesday, the fifth division of the anti-graft court denied Syjuco’s motion to dismiss the two counts of graft and malversation of public funds filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman for lack of merit.

The Sandiganbayan dismissed Syjuco’s claim that his constitutional right to speedy trial was violated when it took the ombudsman more than 11 years to finish its investigation.

“The delay should be considered reasonable as it was brought about by the need for a thorough investigation and review of documents,” the ruling penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega read.

The cases stemmed from the alleged release of P4.3 million from Syjuco’s PDAF to non-government organization (NGO) Tagipusuon Foundation Inc. in March 2000 to implement a poultry breeding and production project in his district.

The ombudsman said the money was released to Tagipusuon without public bidding and despite the NGO’s lack of qualifications and track record.

Investigation also showed that Tagipusuon entered into an agreement with Ilonggo Chickboy Corp. to supply the chicks for the project.

Graft probers said Syjuco owned both Tagipusuon and Chickboy.


7 drug suspects, 3 others kailled

Seven drug suspects, including a barangay chairman, were gunned down in separate incidents in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan in the past two days. File
MANILA, Philippines — Seven drug suspects, including a barangay chairman, were gunned down in separate incidents in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan in the past two days.

Two college students and a tricycle driver were also found dead in Rizal yesterday.

Reynaldo delos Santos, 51, chairman of Barangay Pula, Cabanatuan, was standing in front of the barangay hall when motorcycle-riding men pulled over and opened fire. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Premier General Hospital.

Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus, Central Luzon police director, said Delos Santos was a “high-value” drug target of the Cabanatuan police.

A certain Arwin Abregana, alias Tongie, a resident of Barangay Iba-Ibayo, Hagonoy; Erick Tabunda of Mapulang Lupa, Pandi; an alias Juanito of Balungao, Calumpit; Dada of Sta. Ines, Plaridel, and Erick Canicon and Ver of Mojon, Malolos shot it out with anti-drug operatives in stings in their respective areas, Senior Superintendent Romeo Caramat, Bulacan police acting director, said.

Caramat said guns, sachets of shabu and marked money were recovered from the fatalities.

Students stabbed dead

The bodies of Charmaine Villarias, 21, and her boyfriend John Vincent Umiten, which bore stab wounds, were found by a security guard in a grassy portion of Mt. Zion at Amityville Subdivision in Barangay San Jose, Rodriguez, Rizal at about 12:30 p.m.

The victims were still wearing their school uniforms. Their hands and feet were bound with shoelaces and handkerchiefs.

Probers are still trying to determine if Villarias, who was found with no underwear, was raped.

Teacher Rialen Ergima, who identified Villarias at the morgue, said the victims, who were classmates at the Colegio de Montalban, left the school at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Police said the cell phones and other personal belongings of the victims were missing.

Meanwhile, the search for a tricycle driver who failed to return home after asking permission from his parents to visit his girlfriend ended in a morgue in Antipolo, Rizal.

Jimwell Carigma drove their family car to Teresa town at around 5 p.m., his father Ronald said.

Carigma suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The car, which bore bullet holes with its windshield destroyed, was recovered at the Teresa police station.

A witness said three men wearing jackets with hoods blocked Carigma’s car and shot him after a brief scuffle before they escaped.

An investigation is ongoing. – Non Alquitran, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Ric Sapnu


Crisologo charged for P8-M ‘pork’ scam

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the indictment of Quezon City First District Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo for graft over the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) amounting to P8 million in 2009.

Crisologo was ordered charged by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the Sandiganbayan with two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, two counts of malversation of public funds and another two counts of falsification of public documents under the Revised Penal Code.

The other respondents are former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Esperanza Cabral; DSWD undersecretaries Mateo Montaño and Lualhati Pablo; assistant secretary Vilma Cabrera; chief accountant Leonila Hayahay, and assistant director Pacita Sarino.

Private individual Cenon Mayor of Kaloocan Assistance Council Inc. (KACI) was also ordered charged.

The ombudsman said Task Force PDAF’s probe showed that Crisologo endorsed KACI to implement his PDAF-funded social services project for his constituents, which included medical and hospitalization expenses, transportation, calamity, death, burial and educational expenses, small-scale livelihood training, socio-cultural expenses, small-scale infrastructure assistance and values training.

Crisologo’s pork barrel fund worth P8 million was released by the Department of Budget and Management to DSWD in 2009.

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However, the ombudsman found that none of the supposed social services reached the intended beneficiaries.

Ombudsman probers said KACI submitted falsified receipts and other supporting documents for the bogus project.

The ombudsman added that most of the listed beneficiaries were “coordinators and political supporters of Crisologo.”

The listed beneficiaries of the death and burial assistance denied receiving cash from Crisologo’s office and that the signatures on the vouchers were forged, the ombudsman said.

Representatives from the National Children’s Hospital also attested that no free medical or dental mission was conducted in October 2009, contrary to the claim of the respondents.

The ombudsman said KACI’s main supplier for the project, Silver A Enterprises, is not a registered business entity.

Morales said Crisologo’s failure to ensure that his PDAF allocation was properly liquidated “could only mean that he benefitted from the transaction or that he was grossly negligent.”

According to the ombudsman, the former DSWD officials must be held accountable as they “did not even bother to conduct an audit on KACI and its suppliers” before releasing the payment.

Crisologosaid he could not be charged with graft as he did not get hold of the questioned funds, GMA News reported.

“We did not hold any money, we did not implement any project, we just pinpointed it and there was an implementing agency,” he said.

“The reason why there is an implementing agency is because we as congressmen do not have the facilities to implement. We did not hold any money so where’s graft and corruption there?” he added.


Las Vegas killer had more explosives, 1,600 rounds of ammo in car

33 gun purchases, no red flags 02:51

Story highlights

  •  The gunman may have been planning a car bombing, analyst says
  • Paddock fired 200 rounds into a Mandalay Bay hotel hallway, police say

(CNN)Chilling new clues suggest the man behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history planned to inflict even more carnage. 

Stephen Paddock didn't just have 23 weapons in his Mandalay Bay hotel suite, which he turned into a sniper's nest to kill 58 Las Vegas concertgoers. 
He also had more than 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car in the hotel parking lot, police said. 
Investigators now believe Paddock intended to survive the massacre, Las Vegas police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Wednesday.; background-position: 50% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">
New video shows concertgoers fleeing scene 02:57
"He was doing everything possible to see how he could escape," Lombardo said, declining to detail specifics. 
But what motivated Paddock to kill dozens of strangers -- and where he planned to strike next -- remains a mystery.

Law enforcement analyst: Car bomb possible 

Of the explosives found in Paddock's car, authorities first found several pounds of ammonium nitrate, Lombardo said. 
He said a later search of cases found in the car revealed 50 pounds of Tannerite -- a brand-name product that's marketed as explosive rifle targets. 
The cache of explosives in Paddock's car could indicate plans for a car bomb, CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick said.; background-color: transparent; margin-bottom: 30px; padding-top: 413px; width: 780px; -webkit-background-size: cover; background-size: cover; background-position: 0px 0px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">
"Those explosives, that's the scary part. What was he going to do with those? I mean, you don't just acquire them and leave them in your vehicle and not have a plan for them," said Roderick, former assistant director of the US Marshals Service.
"The Tannerite could have set off the ammonium nitrate," Roderick said. "So, was he using that as a vehicle-borne explosive device?" 
It's possible no one will ever learn Paddock's plan for the explosives. The gunman killed himself before police breached his hotel room door. 

A new timeline

New evidence shows Paddock fired his first shots into the Route 91 Harvest music festival at 10:05 p.m. Sunday -- three minutes earlier than what police previously reported, Lombardo said.
For 10 minutes, Paddock sprayed hundreds of bullets into the crowd about a quarter mile away. The shots pummeled the gathering of 22,000 people with devastating speed, due to the help of bump-fire stocks-- legal accessories that make weapons fire similarly to an automatic rifle.
As the indiscriminate killings continued, police said, cameras were positioned inside and outside Paddock's hotel suite and in the door's peep hole. 
A security guard approached the 32nd-floor suite and was shot in the leg by Paddock. The 64-year-old gunman fired "well over 200 rounds" into the hallway, Lombardo said. 
"It's amazing that security guard didn't sustain additional injury," the sheriff said. 
At 10:15 p.m., Paddock fired his last shots, police said. Three minutes later, the wounded security guard told Las Vegas police he'd been shot and directed officers to the gunman's room. 
More than an hour later, at 11:20 p.m., police first breached Paddock's suite and found his body on the ground. Seven minutes later, officers gained access to a second room of the suite. No one else was found, and police declared the suspect "down." 

The motive and another music festival

As more than 100 investigators dig for answers, police aren't sure what turned a retired accountant into a mass killer. 
"What we know is Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo, and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood," the sheriff said. 
Investigators said something may have happened to Paddock between October 2016 and last month that compelled him to purchase more weapons. Paddock bought 33 firearms, mostly rifles, during that period, an ATF spokesperson said. 
And prior to checking into Mandalay Bay days before the massacre, Paddock rented a room at a Las Vegas condo complex that overlooked another music festival. 
Full coverage 
  • Portraits of the victims
  • The sheriff said Paddock rented the room at the Ogden condo complex via Airbnb during the Life is Beautiful music festival, which lasted from September 22 to 25. 
    "Was he doing pre-surveillance? We don't know yet. This is all conjecture at this point," Lombardo said.
    A note was found in Paddock's Mandalay Bay hotel room, but it was not a suicide note, the sheriff said. He did not detail what the note said. 
    No evidence indicates terrorism, FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said, but the investigation is ongoing. 

    Girlfriend: He sent me to the Philippines 

    Investigators want to know if Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, has information that can explain what sparked the massacre. 
    Danley flew Tuesday to Los Angeles from the Philippines and has been cooperating with authorities, Rouse said.
    Danley, through her attorney, said Wednesday that she didn't know Paddock planned to carry out a mass shooting.
    She said he bought her a ticket to the Philippines about two weeks ago, then wired her moneyso she could buy a house there, she said in a statement. At the time, she worried he wastrying to break up with her, she said.
    Paddock wired $100,000 to the Philippines, a law enforcement source said, but officials haven't determined when the money transfer took place or who received it. The FBI is working with Philippine authorities to get more details.
    "It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone," Danley said in the statement. "I will cooperate fully with their investigation. Anything I can do to help ease suffering and help in any way, I will do."

    The hunt for possible accomplices

    Authorities are investigating whether Paddock acted alone or had accomplices. Lombardo, the sheriff, expressed skepticism that the gunman worked solo.
    "Do you think this was all accomplished on his own? You've got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point," he said. 
    Lombardo cited the arsenal of lethal equipment found in Paddock's homes in Reno and Mesquite, Nevada.
    In Paddock's Reno home, authorities found five handguns, two shotguns and a "plethora" of ammunition.
    In his Mesquite, home, investigators found at least 19 more firearms, as well as explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition. 
    "It's troublesome this individual was able to move this amount of gear into a hotel room unassisted," Lombardo said. " It's troublesome for the amount of stuff he had at both residences unassisted." 
    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect timeframe for when Paddock acquired 33 firearms. It was roughly 11 months.
    • Published in U.S.
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