Opinion & Community

Faeldon’s lawyer: I smell a winning case

The legal counsel of former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon is positive that his client will soon be freed from detention.

"I am very hopeful. I am fully-confident. A good lawyer can spot a winning case... I smell a winning case," Attorney Jose Diño said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

Diño mentioned that their camp has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to declare as void and illegal the Senate blue ribbon committee’s order to detain Faeldon.

"Any lawyer would not file a petition if he does not have any reasonable expectation that he would win. Otherwise, he is liable to the Supreme Court for filing a frivolous complaint," the lawyer said.

Diño expressed confidence that the actions of Senator Richard Gordon during the Senate hearing on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China were enough to show that his client must not be detained.

"A lawyer should not second guess the Supreme Court. That's the Supreme Court. But judging from... with the strength of our arguments, in our petition that's self-praise, but if I may add, the performance of Senator Gordon in January 29. That's why in my motion to resolve our petition, I said if there is still any lingering doubt in the minds of the honorable justices... respondent Senator Gordon's actions pomposity persecution should be enough, more than enough," Diño said.

Faeldon is currently detained at the Pasay City Jail following his "sordid conduct" at the Senate hearing on the alleged corruption at the Bureau of Customs.

Faeldon, who was appointed as deputy administrator for operations of the Office of Civil Defense, had a heated argument with Gordon during Monday's hearing as he criticized the senator's way of handling the investigation.

Meanwhile, in the same interview, Diño slammed Gordon for how he treated the former Customs chief, saying that his client had experienced "unli persecution" in the hands of the senator.

"But with the performance of Senator Gordon, last January 28 at the infamous hearing where he brow-beat and persecuted... unli-persecuted ang tawag ko do'n, for two solid straight hours," Diño said.

"Gordon was talking down to Captain Faeldon like he was his puppy dog, like his katiwala, like his security guard. You don't do that to a guest. You don't do that to a fellow human being much less a fellow officer of government," he added.

For Diño, the Senate inquiry had appeared not to be in the aid of legislation, saying it became "accusatory."

"The power of Congress to act in aid of legislation is again circumscribed... precisely to guard against brow-beating, grandstanding and persecution of witnesses," Diño said.

"He (Faeldon) was there to shed light on what he knows. When he went there, [it was like] 'You know you're part of the bribery, you're at the heart of drug smuggling,'" he added.

The lawyer also said Faeldon's "right to personal dignity was thoroughly demolished."

"It was sad to say but it was an investigation in aid of persecution," Diño said. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KG, GMA News


De Lima says suspension of Carandang meant to cover truth vs Duterte

Sen. Leila De Lima
(File photo by LYN RILLON / Philippine Daily Inquier)

The suspension of deputy Ombudsman for making public President Rodrigo Duterte’s bank records was done by Malacañang to stop him from investigating the President’s alleged hidden wealth, at least for detained Senator Leila de Lima.

Defying a 2014 Supreme Court (SC) order, Malacañang on Monday preventively suspended Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang for releasing the documents related to Duterte’s bank accounts.

READ: Ombudsman exec suspended over release of Duterte’s alleged bank transactions

“Carandang’s suspension only shows that he is hot on the President’s money trail, and that Malacañang has to stop him before he uncovers the whole truth about the President’s [alleged] ill-gotten wealth,” De Lima said in her latest dispatch from detention at Camp Crame.

“This is all about protecting the President and hiding his corruption. And Malacañang has no qualms defying the Court’s 2014 ruling to do this,” she said.

The former Justice secretary chided Malacañang for deliberately ignoring the high tribunal’s ruling despite it being aware of that presidential authority over the deputy ombudsman had already been declared unconstitutional.

“As if his government’s impunity in the exercise of power is not yet enough, Duterte still seeks to control the Office of the Ombudsman and make himself immune from investigation and accountability,” De Lima said.

Malacañang on Monday suspended for 90 days Carandang for grave misconduct and other administrative offenses after he disclosed alleged bank records of Duterte.

However, Malacañang said it had the power to discipline Carandang.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace was confident that the SC would “revisit” its decision in 2014 that the Office of the President (OP) had “no power of discipline over the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman.”

De Lima explained that the rationale of the SC in issuing such ruling was precisely to protect the independence of the deputy ombudsman from the President’s control and influence in the event that the subject of the investigation is none other than the Chief Executive himself.

“Malacañang’s action in suspending Carandang for investigating the President is the most illustrative lesson on why the 2014 Court decision is correct,” she said.

“Giving the President disciplinary authority over the person empowered to investigate him engenders conflict of interest scenarios, like the present one. In this case, in order to protect himself and his family from further investigation by the Deputy Ombudsman, Duterte orders his suspension,” De Lima added.

De Lima then urged the SC, whose Chief Justice is facing possible impeachment, not to allow Malacañang’s defiance of the ruling.

“The Supreme Court must not allow this. Otherwise, it might as well crown Duterte and declare him King of the Philippines,” she said. /jpv



Lorraine Badoy not best judge of 'fake news', Robredo lawyer says

"If this is the Lorraine Badoy who insisted that a HS class project was an 'LP publication,' and when corrected, refused to accept her mistake and tried to bully Jillian Robredo and her high school classmates, then I hardly think she is the most credible person to talk about 'fake news,'" Barry Gutierrez, legal adviser to Robredo, said in a statement on Tuesday. OVP/Released
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President is questioning Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy's credibility for saying Vice President Leni Robredo is "one of the purveyors of fake news."

"If this is the Lorraine Badoy who insisted that a [high school] class project was an '[Liberal Party] publication,' and when corrected, refused to accept her mistake and tried to bully Jillian Robredo and her high school classmates, then I hardly think she is the most credible person to talk about 'fake news,'" Barry Gutierrez, legal adviser to Robredo, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Badoy on Tuesday claimed that Robredo, deemed by supporters of this administrator as among the "enemies" of President Rodrigo Duterte, is "one of the purveyors of fake news." A staunch supporter of Duterte herself, she added that chief executive—whose supporters are believed to be peddlers of fake information and hate speech in social media—may be the "bigger victim."

Badoy was appointed to the Presidential Communications Operations Office in October last year. She was assistant secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development at the time.

Before her appointment to the PCOO, Badoy figured in controversy as she blasted government critics in a scathing post on Facebook. One of those at the receiving end of her diatribe was the European Union—which she said should just focus on child pornography since this is where the bloc excels.

In December 20016, Badoy also attacked a magazine published by high school students naming the vice president as a "hero." The magazine was a school project.

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Badoy also attacked Jillian Robredo, a minor and a high school student, for considering the vice president her personal hero.

Badoy incorrectly lambasted the school project as propaganda by the Liberal Party. While social media users sought to inform Badoy of the circumstances of the school project, she refused to take down the post, citing her freedom of expression.

Gutierrez, former representative of Akbayan party-list and campaign spokesman for the Liberal Party-led coalition in 2016, added: "That this person is now in PCOO, though, is a very clear indicator of the kind of work it focuses on these days."

Badoy was joined by other officials of the PCOO as resource speakers on the Senate Committee on Mass Media-lead hearing on the proliferation of fake information.

Columnist Tonyo Cruz and journalist Robby Alampay asked her to clarify whether her statement should be construed as the official stand of the PCOO.

She backtracked and clarified that it was only her personal opinion.


Roque denies endorsing fake news

“What I said earlier that without fake news we would not know what is true news should not be taken as governmental encouragement of fake news. Far from it,” Presidential Spokesperson Roque said in a statement. Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante, File
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday denied encouraging the spread of fake news after he was criticized for saying that people wouldn’t know true news without stories that are intentionally false.

“What I said earlier that without fake news we would not know what is true news should not be taken as governmental encouragement of fake news. Far from it,” Roque said in a statement.

He was clarifying his remarks last January 28, where he said: “Without fake news, we wouldn’t distinguish true news... So, let there be a free marketplace of ideas.”

The Palace spokesman then explained that an existing jurisprudence in the US allowed “even mistakes in reportage on public figures” because otherwise “the free and unimpeded discussion of public issues would be hindered.”

“For sure and to be clear, fake news as is known today should find no place as a matter of governmental policy,” Roque said.

“Enlightened citizens should be able to pick out chaff from grain and appreciate what good journalism is about,” he added.

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The proliferation of fake news has been widely seen by experts as a major global threat with its reported ability to manipulate elections and imperil democracies.

Despite conducting a hearing in aid of legislation on fake news, Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday maintained that Congress “cannot legislate thought control.”

Roque earlier said he was a victim of fake news, as he blasted the media for their reportage of his remarks regarding Chinese research in Benham Rise.

He also hit international law experts and scientists who were insulted by his statement.


DOJ panel sets mid-February target to resolve Atio hazing death case

A three-member investigating panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected by mid-February to come up with its findings in connection with the preliminary investigation on the criminal complaints concerning the death of freshman University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.

The panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva made the commitment in a case status update dated January 29 which was submitted to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II through the Office of the Prosecutor General.

The other members of the panel are Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendell Bendoval and Honey Rose Delgado.

Pending before the DOJ are the complaints for murder, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, obstruction of justice, robbery and perjury separately filed by the Manila Police District and Castillo's parents against more than 30 people, most of them members of the UST-based Aegis Juris fraternity.

The prosecutors initially wrapped up the preliminary investigation--where the complainants and respondents were given the chance to refute each other's sworn statements and evidence--- on November 28 last year, but the panel reopened it on January 12 after it received the affidavit of suspect-turned-witness Marc Anthony Ventura.

On January 22, the respondents submitted their comments with regard to the affidavit of Ventura who also fielded clarificatory questions from the panel.

The case was then submitted for resolution with prosecutors tasked to determine if there is probable cause to file charges in court.

The panel's resolution will have to be reviewed by a senior deputy state prosecutor and approved by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

Castillo underwent initiation rites at the Aegis Juris library in Sampaloc, Manila on September 17.

Ventura, who is under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program, earlier narrated how his fraternity brothers took turns beating up Castillo inside the Aegis Juris library in Sampaloc, Manila.

He also named some of Aegis Juris members who took part in the initiation.

Ventura identified Aegis Juris leader Arvin Balag as the fraternity member who gave the fifth and final blow that rendered Castillo unconscious before he was brought to Chinese General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Refuting the allegations, Balag submitted a counter-affidavit to prosecutors where he argued that there is no evidence that Castillo went through physical or psychological injury as a prerequisite for admission to Aegis Juris.

The other respondents, including medical technologist John Paul Solano, said Castillo succumbed to a pre-existing heart condition, which was disputed by the final autopsy report of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory dated October 3 which showed Atio died of "severe blunt traumatic injuries" on both his upper limbs. — RSJ, GMA News


Dela Rosa names Bulalacao as new PNP spokesperson

Members of the Philippine National Police gather at Camp Crame headquarters during the PNP’s 27th foundation day celebration recently. INQUIRER / EDWIN BACASMAS

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa has named Police Chief Supt. John Bulalacao as the new spokesperson and chief of the agency’s Public Information Office (PIO).

Dela Rosa made the official announcement on Wednesday, which was contained in a statement issued by the PNP PIO.

Bulalacao, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class 1988, replaced fellow Maringal Chief Supt. Dionard Carlos, who assumed the post as Director of the PNP Aviation Security Group on Tuesday upon the retirement of Chief Supt. Sheldon Jacaban.

Bulalacao was erstwhile Regional Chief of Directorial Staff of the National Capital Region Police Office and was recently promoted to the star rank last January 14, the PNP said.

It added that Bulalacao has served a “well-rounded career as a junior and field grade officer.”

Bulalacao commanded the Cavite Police Provincial Office as Provincial Director in 2011-2012, and earlier served as chief of police in Tagaytay City, Dasmariñas and Carmona.

He also served as staff officer in various capacities in the Civil Security Group, National Capital Region Police Office and Special Action Force. /jpv



Drug trading raps vs broker Taguba, others over P6.4-B shabu shipment

The case stemmed from the raid led by the operatives of the BOC, PDEA, and the National Bureau of Investigation at a warehouse in Valenzuela City. Seized in the operation are 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.The shipment was declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings, as it slipped through the BOC. Edd Gumban
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice has filed fresh charges against customs broker Mark Taguba and other traders over the P6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment that slipped through Customs.

State prosecutors have filed sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs charges against Taguba and the following individuals:

Chen Ju Long a.k.a. Richard Tan or Richard Chen
Li Guang Feng a.k.a. Manny Li
Dong Yi Shen a.k.a. Kenneth Dong or Yi Shan Dong
Eirene Mae Tatad
Teejay Marcellana
Chen I-min
Jhu Ming Jyun
Chen Rong Huan
"That between 23rd and 24th day of May 2017, in the Valenzuela City and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, and the above-named accused, in conspiracy with each other, did then and there jointly, knowingly, willfully and feloniously and without authority of law transport, convey and deliver 602.279 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride otherwise known as shabu, a dangerous drug," the information or charge sheet reads.

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes, in a message to reporters, said that the charges were filed before the Valenzuela City regional trial court on Tuesday, January 30.

The nine individuals are facing a separate charge of drug importation before a Manila court.

Former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon was earlier tagged in the case as one of the respondents.

The DOJ, however, dropped Faeldon's name along with several other members of the National Bureau of Investigation-Anti Organized Crime Division from the case.

State prosecutors noted that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency failed to "state with clarity the acts or omission supposedly committed by the above-named BOC respondents that would constitute violation of the offense charged."

Faeldon is now deputy administrator for the Office of Civil Defense Deputy. He is also in detention after the Senate cited him for contempt.

The case stemmed from the raid led by the operatives of the BOC, PDEA and the NBI at a warehouse in Valenzuela City. Seized in the operation were 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. The shipment was declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee held its latest hearing on the issue on January 29.


Verizon, Apple Continue to Lobby Against Your 'Right to Repair'

A handful of states are pursuing so-called "right to repair" laws, which would make it easier for consumers to repair their own technology purchases and find replacement parts and tools. The proposals first originated of all places with John Deere tractor owners, who say the company's draconian restrictions placed on what owners can do with their tractors has made the cost of doing business significantly more expensive. But the push is increasingly popular among cellular phone and tablet owners, frustrated by rigid, costly repair monopolies.

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Third party phone repair shops say that phone makers like Apple and game console makers like Sony and Microsoft have effectively monopolized repair, using their size and power to drive smaller companies out of business.
Verizon and Apple have worked in union to thwart such bills in several states, but traditionally don't like to publicly talk about their lobbying on this front. They now have another state to worry about, with Washington State considering their own right to repair bill, created in the wake of outrage over Apple's decision to throttle the performance of older phones to (Apple insists) protect device integrity in the wake of failing battery performance.

"It was introduced before [the throttling] news broke, but that’s become something constituents and legislators have sunk their teeth into," Jeff Morris, the Washington representative who introduced the bill tells Motherboard. “They can say ‘this is what we’re talking about’ and point to this as the type of thing that is accelerating the demise of their technology so they have to buy the next model.”

After Apple confirmed it throttles the performance of older iPhones, the waitlist to have your phone replaced has been arguably absurd, something that could be easily fixed by opening the door to third-party repair shops, while simultaneously helping out small businesses.

14 different tech trade groups-- including the Consumer Technology Association, the CTIA, the Telecommunications Industry Association, the Computer Technology Industry Association, and the Entertainment Software Association--called the bill “unwarranted." AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile fund and dictate policy for at least two of those associations.

Apple has been notably obnoxious on this issue. When the company was trying to shoot down one such law in Nebraska, it attempted to claim that bringing more repair options to consumers would result in the state becomming a "mecca for hackers" and other "bad actors."

Family of businessman facing deportation serves food to homeless while he’s on hunger strike

CLEVELAND - The family of a Youngstown businessman served food to the homeless while he's being held in ICE custody and is on a hunger strike.

Amer "Al" Adi Othman, 57, came to the U.S. from Jordan when he was 19 and was married to an American. The marriage ended, and years later U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claimed that first marriage was fraudulent and grounds for deportation.

“It's been devastating, devastating,” said his wife of 30 years, Fidaa Musleh. “It's breaking a family up. It's tearing our family apart.”

Musleh and one of their four daughters, Lina Adi, served food at St. Herman House in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood Friday night, as they await Adi Othman’s deportation.

“It's to give back to the community and all of the people who have supported us in our time of need,” Adi said.

Adi Othman owns Downtown Circle, a Youngstown grocery store, deli and hookah bar. Musleh said her husband has a valid work permit and pays taxes, but after he exhausted all efforts to try to become a legal permanent resident, they bought tickets to return to Jordan in early January.

However, ICE claimed Adi Othman would receive a stay, she said, so they stayed. ICE then took him into custody during a check-in last week.

“We were leaving. Why would you turn around and do this? This is going to cost taxpayers so much money right now. Two weeks in jail, then they have to escort him back home. We were going,” Musleh said. “And to be ambushed and deceived and tricked the way they did doesn't make any sense.”

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said the agency has chosen not to grant a stay of removal in the case after comprehensive review, including consideration of a Congressional request for an investigative report.

"The courts have uniformly held that Mr. Othman does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” Walls said in a statement. “Mr. Othman will remain in ICE custody pending removal.”

Adi Othman’s family said they do not understand why he was taken into custody when he was willing to leave on his own, and at this point, they simply want him to get to Jordan.

“We're going to keep fighting,” Musleh said. “And not only are we fighting for him, we're fighting because there's so many other people that don't have voices that don't have community support like my husband.”

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