Senate body junks hit men’s testimonies

Confessed assassin Arturo Lascañas, a retired Davao City police officer, is not the person who can prove the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) because his testimony is inconsistent and lacks evidence.

So declared the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a report that summed up its findings and recommendations on Lascañas’ confession that he and other Davao policemen were hired to kill on orders of former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

The committee came up with the report after holding just one hearing on March 6.

It invited Lascañas to testify on his allegation that Mayor Duterte was behind the DDS and that the latter had paid policemen and rebel returnees to kill not only criminals and drug suspects but also his political enemies.

Lascañas previously testified in a Senate inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration in which he dismissed as lies the testimony of Edgar Matobato, who claimed to be a hit man for Mr. Duterte who he said had formed the DDS.

Lack of credibility

“The lack of credibility of both witnesses results in the lack of evidentiary value of their testimonies. Aside from the extrajudicial confession, no other piece of evidence was presented to prove the conspiracy. Therefore, their confession has no probative value,” the committee report said.

“One thing is for sure, Arturo Lascañas is not the person to prove [the DDS’s] actual existence and finally bring to justice the perpetrators of numerous unresolved crimes in Davao City or elsewhere if proven so,” it said.

Signed by eight members

Lacson said on Monday that he would report out on the floor on Tuesday Committee Report No. 97, which was signed by eight members.

Asked why he did not recommend perjury charges against Lascañas, the senator said he was leaving it up to the Department of Justice “to pick it up once the Senate adopts the report.”

Of the eight who signed the report, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said he did not concur with the report and would interpellate Lacson on the floor.

Testimony abruptly ended

In a statement, Trillanes said Lacson had “no basis to say that Lascañas’ testimony was not credible because he abruptly terminated the investigation after only one hearing.”

“In fact, during the solitary hearing Lacson conducted, the Philippine National Police representative even corroborated some of Lascañas’ statements,” said Trillanes, who had helped in bringing out the alleged DDS hit man to the public.

Sen. Grace Poe said she agreed with the report’s recommendations, but had reservations about the committee findings.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he agreed with the report “in so far as the recommendations are concerned.”

Grand conspiracy

In the 20-page report, the committee said Lascañas’ testimony was that of “a grand conspiracy involving the DDS” and that he had implicated fellow police officers, who included Sonny Buenaventura, a trusted Duterte aide, as well as Fulgencio Pavo, Jim Tan and Dick Cloribel.

But the report noted that under the rules of evidence, the “evidence other than the declaration of the coconspirator must be out forward.”

“Following said rules, Lascañas’ testimony could not be possibly considered evidence against the persons he was implicating, without first putting forward other evidence that could establish grand conspiracy he was claiming,” the report said.

It said Lascañas’ testimony could not be considered evidence against the President and other police officers without him offering evidence other than his testimony. Thus, he has the burden to prove his allegations before the committee.

The committee also said it found Lascañas’ affidavit and testimony to be self-serving, not worthy of belief and bereft of credibility.

For instance, it said Lascañas did not offer any corroborating evidence that for the price of P3 million, radio broadcaster Jun Pala was ordered killed by Mayor Duterte for criticizing him on his program.

“To impute a crime on another individual on the basis of motive alone will be a dangerous precedent,” the report said.

By:  -



President Duterte arrives in Moscow

MOSCOW — President Rodrigo Duterte has arrived in Moscow, Russia past 11 p.m. Monday (past 4 a.m. May 23, Manila time).

Nineteen officials are joining the President’s official visit to Russia which include Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affiars Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and National Security Council Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The country’s economic development chiefs are also in Moscow including Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo, and Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato De La Peña.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go, and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian are also part of the official delegation here.

On Wednesday, President Duterte is set to have bilateral meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

A wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is scheduled on Wednesday afternoon before the President will be conferred for an honorary doctorate degree at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University).

The meeting between President Duterte and President Vladimir Putin is set for Thursday in Kremlin.




Foreign lawmakers visit PH to check on De Lima case

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global organization of lawmakers, arrived in Manila and visited Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to check on the case of detained Senator Leila de Lima.

The IPU Committee on Human Rights visited Pimentel on Monday, May 22, led by its president Fawzi Koofi, a lawmaker from Afghanistan.

“We are here to see, assess the situation of detention of Senator Leila de Lima. The Senate President has been very cooperative with the committee,” Koofi said in a short statement after the meeting.

It was Pimentel who invited IPU colleagues in April, during the IPU assembly, to visit the Philippine Senate.

In the same event, the organization adopted the resolution of the organization's committee on human rights, expressing "deep concern" over the De Lima’s arrest and detention over alleged links to illegal drugs.

“The IPU, as a body, expressed concern [on] human rights violation of a member of the Senate in the Philippines, which is Senator Leila de Lima, that’s why the assembly decided to have a mission to the Philippines,” Koofi said.

The IPU committee members are set to meet Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and other government officials on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, they will visit De Lima at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame to meet her.

“We will also meet her on Wednesday to gather information about her arrest,” Koofi said.

Pimentel said they discussed “nothing” about De Lima’s case, saying they just thanked him for “inviting” them over. "They are the ones concerned with Senator de lima...they are here for a fact-finding mission. Let them do their job,” he added.

Last month, the IPU called for a fact-finding mission by the committee on human rights.

“The Organization is calling for a mission to the Philippines where it is deeply concerned over the detention of Senator Leila de Lima and the accusations that she was involved in drug trafficking,” the IPU said.

“The Senator has been a vocal critic of President (Rodrigo) Duterte, leading a series of investigations into alleged extra judicial killings when he was Mayor of Davao city and initiating an inquiry into the alleged summary killings of thousands of alleged drug users and dealers since he took office in June 2016 and waged his war on drugs,” it added.

The IPU, established in 1889, has 171 Member Parliaments, which "promote democracy, equality, human rights, development and peace." –


Senators to Duterte: Why tolerate China's war threat?

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV asks why the Philippines is rejecting the European Union's supposed interference, but allowing China to make threats.

MANILA, Philippines – Minority Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV questioned anew President Rodrigo Duterte's seemingly "inconsistent" foreign policy, following China's threat of war over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) dispute.

Aquino, who said the threat is "troublesome," urged the Duterte administration to explain its confusing "independent" foreign policy.

"Nakakabahala talaga 'yun na isang head of state nagsabi na baka gyerahin tayo, that's very troublesome," the senator told reporters in an interview on Monday, May 22.

(It is really worrisome that a head of state would threaten us with war, that's very troublesome.)

Aquino pointed out it was contradictory that the Philippine government is rejecting aid from the European Union (EU) for its supposed interference, while letting China make threats.

"'Yung threat of war, gusto natin linawin kasi 'di po 'yun pangkaraniwan. We need to be consistent with our foreign policy. Meron tayong hini-hindian kasi ayaw natin 'yung hirit sa atin regarding human rights pero 'yung iba tatanggapin natin, may threat ng gyera. Parang 'di talaga siya consistent," the senator said.

(We want to clarify the threat of war because that is out of the ordinary. We need to be consistent with our foreign policy. We are refusing aid because of criticism on the human rights situation here, yet we accept war threats from other countries. That really seems inconsistent.)

Last September, Aquino filed a Senate resolution calling for a Senate probe into Duterte's "conflicting" foreign policy, but the inquiry has yet to be scheduled. At the time, then-senator Alan Peter Cayetano – a staunch Duterte ally and now Foreign Secretary – was committee chairman.

Aquino reiterated there is a need to clarify the Philippine government's foreign policy, as it affects jobs, sovereignty, and national security.

It was under former president Benigno Aquino III, the senator's cousin, when the Philippines lodged a protest against China over their maritime dispute. Duterte, in contrast, has taken a friendly stance toward the Asian giant.

Bring issue to UN, file diplomatic protest

Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also expressed concern over China's threat, echoing Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio's call to bring the issue before the United Nations.

"To threaten us with war, especially 'yung disparity ng military might ng power ng China compared to ours, medyo malaking threat 'yan," Lacson said. (To threaten us with war, especially considering the disparity between China's military might and ours, that's a major threat.)

The Philippines, he also said, has basis to pursue another case against China.

"Justice Carpio is right. Dapat i-bring up ito sa attention ng UN (We should bring this to the UN's attention). After all, China is a member. Member pa nga siya ng Security Council, 'di ba? So dapat i-pursue natin dahil 'di maganda 'yan (China is even a member of the Security Council, right? So we should pursue a case because making threats isn't good)," Lacson said.

"Friendship should be based on goodwill. Pero where can you find goodwill kung may threat of going to war in case na ang claims i-pursue natin (But where can you find goodwill if there is a threat of going to war if we pursue our claims), to explore based on what we believe is ours?" he added.

Drilon, meanwhile, said the Duterte administration should not take Chinese President Xi Jinping's words lightly.

"The Chinese President's threat is a gross violation of the United Nations' Charter. Article 2, Section 4 of the UN Charter states that 'all members shall refrain in their institutional relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations,'" said Drilon.

"We should stand up to China. We should not allow our country to be bullied and threatened," he added.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also supports Aquino's call for a Senate inquiry, as he earlier urged Cayetano to file a diplomatic protest against China for its actions.

"The hearing should tackle not only this issue, but also the details of the $24-billion loans and investments recently sealed with China, as well as the Duterte administration's decision to reject aid from the EU," Pangilinan had said.

But Cayetano, in an interview on Monday, downplayed the incident, saying there is mutual respect between Duterte and Xi. He also said the context of the two leaders' conversation was "conflict resolution."

Duterte earlier disclosed that Xi warned there would be war if the Philippines pushes through with its plan to drill oil in the Reed Bank off the West Philippine Sea.

The Reed Bank, also known as Recto Bank, is internationally recognized as part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but China claims it as part of its territory. – Rap



House panel wants impeachment complaints lacking in form immediately junked

MANILA, Philippines – The House justice panel unanimously approved its committee report explaining lawmakers’ reasons for junking the impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano. 

The voting on Monday, May 22, lasted only a little over 11 minutes. Last week, lawmakers deemed the complaint sufficient in form but insufficient in substance after 4 hours. (READ: House committee junks Duterte impeachment complaint)

The panel argued Alejano’s lack of direct personal knowledge of his accusations made them reject the impeachment complaint.

The panel also recommended the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings be amended to “explicitly allow” the dismissal of impeachment complaint based on insufficiency in form.

Currently, impeachment complaints must undergo two tests in the committee level – sufficiency in form and sufficiency in substance. The panel can only decide whether or not to junk an impeachment complaint after assessing its sufficiency in substance.

“Finally, the Committee on Justice recommends that the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the House of Representatives be amended to explicitly allow the dismissal of impeachment complaints based on insufficiency in form,” said the report.

According to the committee report, Alejano testified under oath saying he had “personal knowledge” of his allegations against Duterte. 

These include the President’s alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, the ongoing bloody war against drugs, the hiring of “ghost” employees when Duterte was still Davao City mayor, his supposed unexplained wealth, and the President’s approach in dealing with the maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

But Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas grilled Alejano and made the latter admit he merely based his accusations on online sources, newspaper reports, and other intelligence materials.

This was anot acceptable to the justice committee members. 

“However, the members of the committee stated that the term ‘personal knowledge’ as used in the Verification refers to knowledge or information that are derived from one’s own perception, and that knowledge derived from secondary sources do not constitute ‘personal knowledge’ and are therefore considered hearsay,” said the committee report. 

Alejano also admitted his lawyer prepared Annexes A to F of the complaint, but the documents did not contain his lawyer’s signature. 

The justice committee voted 41-1-0 to say the impeachment complaint was sufficient in form, “despite some defects, based on liberality and in the interest of substantial justice.”

The impeachment complaint, however, was no longer deemed sufficient in substance by all 42 legislators present during the hearing last week.

This is because Section 4, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings states an impeachment complaint is sufficient in form if:

  • There is a recital of facts
  • The recital of facts constitutes the offense charged which are determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee

Duterte enjoys a strong legislative shield in the House, where he counts at least 267 out of 292 lawmakers as his allies.

A total of 121 lawmakers are also members of the President's party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, justice committee chairman, is also a PDP-Laban member. –


Philippine minister starts damage control after Duterte's China war remark


Talks last week between leaders of China and the Philippines were frank and friendly, with no threats or bullying, Manila's foreign minister said on Monday, after his president said he was warned of war if he drills for oil in the South China Sea.

MANILA: Talks last week between leaders of China and the Philippines were frank and friendly, with no threats or bullying, Manila's foreign minister said on Monday, after his president said he was warned of war if he drills for oil in the South China Sea.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano would not disclose more details of the Beijing meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and China counterpart Xi Jinping, but said they had the kind of relationship in which they could openly discuss preventing maritime conflict.

The notoriously outspoken Duterte said during a televised speech on Friday that Xi warned him there would be war if he tried to explore for oil in a stretch of the sea that both countries claim. China has yet to respond to Duterte revealing contents of the meeting.

"The conversation was very frank. There was mutual respect, there was mutual trust," Cayetano told reporters.

"The context was not threatening each other, that we will go to war. The context is how do we stabilise the region and how do we prevent conflict."

The maverick Duterte has faced criticism at home for refusing to push China to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favour of the Philippines.

It also said the Philippines had a sovereign right to access offshore oil and gas fields in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including the Reed Bank.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea, a vital conduit for trade and a hotbed of territorial squabbling that has stoked nationalist fervour in some countries.

"I will not contradict the president's words. I am just telling interpretation: there was no bullying or pushing around, it was not a threat," Cayetano added.

"It was more the threat of conflict will always be there if we don't have dialogue."

A Philippine Supreme Court judge on Saturday urged the government to file another international arbitration case over the alleged Chinese threat, and also lodge a complaint with the United Nations.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said failure to do that would mean Duterte would be "selling us out" and forfeiting sovereignty to secure Chinese loans and investments needed for his ambitious US$180 billion infrastructure programme.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Monday said the Philippines was "very clear that we are not giving up our claim of sovereignty and sovereign rights."

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Karen Lema; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Source: Reuters


Duterte heads to Russia in blow to US

President Rodrigo Duterte flies to Russia on Monday to meet his hero, seek arms and steer his nation’s foreign policy course further away from longtime ally the United States.

The five-day trip will cement a dramatic improvement in ties between the two nations since Duterte came to power last year and began unraveling the Philippines’ decades-long alliances with the United States, which he accuses of hypocrisy and bullying.

Duterte will on Thursday meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he has described as his “favorite hero” and proclaimed a personal bond because of mutual passions such as guns and hunting.

Duterte said on Friday one of the top priorities of his trip was to secure Russian precision-guided bombs to use on Islamic militants in the southern Philippines.

“If they can spare us with the precision guided (bombs),” Duterte said when discussing the purpose of his trip.

“We have so many smart bombs but not as accurate.”

Duterte’s seeking of weapons from Russia comes as he dials down cooperation with the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler that has for decades been its most important military ally and protector.

He has scaled down the number and scope of annual military exercises with the US, barred Filipino forces from joint patrols in the disputed South China Sea, and called for the withdrawal of American troops from the Philippines.

The shift occurred as China has become more assertive in challenging US might in the region by expanding its presence in the South China Sea, which it claims almost in its entirety.

Despite China’s expansionism extending into areas of the sea claimed by the Philippines, Duterte has been determined to pivot his nation’s foreign policy away from the United States in favor of Beijing and Moscow.

This has partly been due to China and Russia supporting or at least not criticizing his controversial war on drugs, which has left thousands of people dead and led to warnings by rights groups that Duterte may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

Duterte has railed against the United States, particularly when Barack Obama was president, for criticizing the drug war.


‘Ideological flow’

On a state visit to China last year, Duterte announced the Philippines’ “separation” from the United States.

“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way,” he said in Beijing.

Duterte, who describes himself as a socialist, and Putin first met on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru last November.

“Historically, I have been identified with the Western world. It was good until it lasted. And of late, I see a lot of these Western nations bullying small nations,” Duterte told Putin then.

Since then, two Russian Navy flotillas have visited Manila.

“The Russians are with me, I shall not be afraid,” Duterte said while touring the Russian Navy’s guided missile cruiser Varyag during a port visit to Manila last month.

The Philippines and Russia established diplomatic ties 41 years ago but, until Duterte took office, relations remained relatively low key.

This was partly due to the Philippines’ alliance with the United States.

Philippine-Russian trade last year totaled just $226 million, according to government data. Philippine-US trade was worth more than $18 billion last year.

Relations remain at the “nascent stage”, but this will change, assistant Philippine foreign secretary Maria Cleofe Natividad told reporters in a briefing on Duterte’s trip to Russia.

“We consider this visit as a landmark that will send a strong message of the Philippines’ commitment to seek new partnerships and strengthen relations with non-traditional partners,” she said.

Duterte visiting Moscow will be a “propaganda victory for Putin and a soft-power coup for Russia,” Richard Javad Heydarian, a foreign policy analyst in Manila, told AFP.

“It will be their way of poking the eye of America.”



Duterte to receive honorary doctorate from top Moscow institute


President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for the first time at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at Lima, Peru on Nov. 19, 2016. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./ Presidential Photo)

MANILA — President Duterte is scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate from the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) during his official visit to Russia this week.

This comes after Mr. Duterte, who described himself as a reluctant recipient of awards, earlier turned down an offer from the University of the Philippines to confer him the Doctor of Laws degree.

The award from the MGIMO is the first international honorary degree that the President will receive.

Mr. Duterte is also expected to deliver a policy speech at the MGIMO on Wednesday, May 24, where he is expected to discuss his independent foreign policy. He might also talk about his ideas on how to achieve peace and security, especially in the Asia Pacific region, the Department of Foreign Affairs said earlier.

After his speech, he will have a dialogue with students and donate books to the MGIMO library.

The MGIMO is known as an elite institution for diplomatic training and international relations, according to the DFA.

It has conferred honorary doctorate degrees to foreign politicians, public experts, diplomats and scholars, working in the field of international relations and foreign policy.

President Fidel Ramos, whom Mr. Duterte has credited for urging him to run for President, received an honorary doctorate from the MGIMO in 1997.

The most recent honorary degree awardees were French President Nikolas Sarkozy and Kyrgyzstan Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Abdyldaev in 2015.

Among the other recipients of the honorary degree from the MGIMO were United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and international financier and philanthropist George Soros, whom Mr. Duterre had criticized in connection with their human rights advocacies. The late Singapore prime minister and founding leader Lee Kuan Yew was also a recipient of the same award.

Mr. Duterte is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Monday evening (early Tuesday in Manila).

By:  -



Duterte impeachment junked

MANILA – With so many allies in Congress, it is no surprise that President Rodrigo Duterte will not be impeached.
Two of the fiercest critics of President Duterte slammed members of the House of Representatives for junking the impeachment complaint against the Chief Executive.
Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the House justice committee's decision to scrap the complaint just because the complainant, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, has no "personal knowledge" of the accusations.
De Lima, former justice secretary and a lawyer by profession, said nowhere in the 1987 Constitution (Article 11, Section 3) requires that a member of Congress who filed the complaint must personally know the articles of impeachment.
"Had it been otherwise, past impeachment complaints, such as those against then president Joseph Estrada and former chief justice Renato Corona, would have likewise failed because no member of the House who ever filed or endorsed an impeachment complaint had any personal knowledge of the grounds constituting the complaints against the concerned impeachable officials," De Lima said in a statement on Tuesday, May 16.
The House justice committee, filled with the President's allies, found Alejano's complaint sufficient in form but insufficient in substance.
But De Lima said the complaint is substantial, citing the House's rules of impeachment procedures. It states that a complaint has substance "if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee."
"What is clear to us now is that the President's allies in the House of Representatives are willing to ignore the rule of law, the bounds of fair play, and any semblance of professional decency in order to protect, however irrationally, their principal," De Lima said.
"The dismissal of the impeachment complaint by the committee on justice in the House of Representatives is a testament to the failure of the House to perform its duty to keep the executive powers in check, when congressmen prevented a legitimate effort to hold the President accountable for his actions," she added.
Despite this, De Lima said she hopes the plenary would still overturn the panel's dismissal. 
Other 'modes' to reveal the truth
Trillanes shared De Lima's view that a complainant is not required to have "personal knowledge" of the accusations.
"Baluktot 'yung pangangatwiran nitong mga nag-aabogado kay Duterte. Hindi ako nagtataka kung bakit nawiwindang ang justice system dahil 'yung mga abogado natin it's either walang alam or baluktot 'yung pag-interpret ng batas," Trillanes said in an interview.
(Those lawyering for Duterte have crooked ways of reasoning. I am not surprised why we have a faulty justice system because our lawyers are either not knowledgeable or have crooked ways of interpreting the law.)
But Trillanes said there are still other ways to reveal the truth against Duterte.
"Maraming paraan. Abangan na lang nila kung ano man 'yun. Alam 'nyo noong inimpeach si President Erap napakababaw ng basis, gano'n din kay Corona. Ito, buong mundo na 'yung nakakapuna – bukod sa mga pagpatay ng libo-libo, pagnakaw ng bilyon-bilyon, at secret dealings with China. Mabibigat ito," the senator said.
(There are other ways. Just wait and see. You know, President Erap was impeached based on a shallow reason, same with Corona. Here, the whole world has noticed the killings of thousands of people, the stealing of billions of pesos, and secret dealings with China. These are heavy accusations.)
Referring to lawmakers who junked the complaint, Trillanes said: "It's either natatakot sila or talagang gusto nilang, or nakikinabang sila sa administrasyon or worse, naniniwala sila na tama 'yung pinaggagagawa ni Duterte."
(It's either they are afraid or they are benefiting from the administration, or worse, they believe that what Duterte is doing is right.) –

Robredo: Marcos request for 3 hearing officers impractical

MANILA -- The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo said Wednesday, May 17, that the request of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to have three hearing officers in the preliminary conference on his poll protest is "impractical" and "premature." 
Robredo counsel Romulo Macalintal noted that the three causes of action presented by the Marcos camp are all interconnected.
"These issues are all interconnected. It is improper for three hearing officers to resolve the said issues separately," Macalintal said.
"There is only one lead lawyer for the protestant and the protestee. Surely, the lead lawyer has to be present in every stage of the hearing and cannot be in three places at the same time," he added. 
Marcos had raised three main issues in his election protest, namely, the “flawed” automated election system (AES), the failure of elections in several provinces in Mindanao and the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or a new script program) into the transparency server on the day of the elections.
George Erwin Garcia, Marcos counsel, earlier said each cause of action presents a specific set of witness and evidence, making it better to have one separate hearing officer for each one them. 
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has set the preliminary conference on Marcos' poll protest on June 21, 2017 at 2p.m.
Macalintal said the Marcos camp is preempting the PET's action in filing the urgent motion, as the tribunal has yet to rule on whether or not to sustain the 3 causes of action.
"Without the preliminary conference, the motion to have three Hearing Officers is practically intended to condition the minds of the people, if not those of the members of the PET, of the issues Marcos seems to dictate upon the tribunal," he said. -- PNA
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