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Taiwan has never been the source of illegal drugs entering PH: TECO

Taiwan has never been the source of illegal drugs entering the Philippines, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines.

Photo: (Flickr / MANILA BULLETIN)
In fact, Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines, said Taiwan fully supports the Philippine government’s combat against transnational drug syndicates.

Dr. Lin stressed that both countries have been working together for years to fight illegal drugs and Taiwan will continue to join hands with the relevant Philippine authorities to enhance cooperation in order to eliminate transnational drug trafficking.

He noted that Taiwan and the Philippines have established cooperation mechanisms and systems for the two countries to fight drug trafficking.

In addition, the interaction and exchange of visits of relevant agencies and the law enforcement officers between Taiwan and the Philippines are frequent and cordial, Lin pointed out.

So far, tangible results have been achieved to fight transnational drug crimes, he said.

As a result of the joint efforts, Lin said Philippine authorities have been able to root out 12 important cases resulting in the confiscation of over 1,000 kilos of shabu, more than 8,000 kilos of semi-finished products and raw materials, three shabu laboratories, a distribution station and six shipments of illicit drugs via air cargo and sea container. The value of the said seizures has been estimated to be NT$2 billion (roughly P3.2 billion).

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Sandiganbayan convicts former PADC official

The Sandiganbayan First Division has convicted former Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) Department Manager Antonio Suba for graft and has sentenced him to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Suba was charged with violation of Section 3(e) of R.. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to his unliquidated cash advances amounting to P247,000, which he used for an unauthorized trip to Beijing.

Photo: (MANILA BULLETIN)
On September 15, 2006, former PADC President Roberto Navida filed a request with Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza to attend the 4th Biennial International Aircraft Conversion and Maintenance Conference in Beijing from October 10 to 14, 2006. Suba expressed his intent to join the trip as well.

The DOTC denied the request, citing Administrative Order No. 103 which had suspended all foreign travels except for ministerial meetings and scholarship trainings that are grant-funded at no cost to the government.

Still, Suba requested for a cash advance on October 6 to cover the travel expenses for the conference. Navida approved the cash advance, and the disbursement voucher was prepared that very day.

Suba argued before the court that he only relied on Navida’s assurance that they were allowed to travel, and he only discovered that their travel request was denied after their travel was completed.

He also claimed that he was not aware of the lack of travel authority because he was not the one who prepared the voucher for his travel. Unfortunately, his arguments held no sway with the court.

“All of the justifications mentioned above could not… cure the defect (that) accused Suba together with Navida did travel to Beijing, China, without the required travel authority from the DOTC Secretary,” read the resolution signed by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg and concurred by Associate Justices Efren De La Cruz and Edgardo Caldona.

He was sentenced to a minimum of six years and one month imprisonment to a maximum of 10 years, and he is perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

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House panel set to conduct hearing to determine whether or not to impeach CJ Sereno

The House committee on justice is set to conduct a hearing next week for the determination of grounds and probable cause whether or not to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Photo: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the panel, said they are eyeing to hold the hearing either on Monday or Wednesday next week.

“If Atty. (Larry Gadon) fails to file his reply to the verified answer of Chief Justice Sereno, we will conduct the hearing Monday or Tuesday,” he told reporters. “But, if he will file his reply, then the hearing will be set on Wednesday,” he said.

The House panel granted Gadon three days to file his reply to Sereno’s 85-page verified answer to his impeachment complaint.

Under the House rules, Gadon is allowed to file his reply within three days and same period would be accorded to the respondent to file rejoinder.

Sereno’s lawyers sought the dismissal of the impeachment complaint filed against the Chief Justice “for lack of sufficient grounds and for lack of probable cause” even as they warned that impeaching her based on false and flimsy grounds, lawmakers would only usher instability and inflict injustice to the nation.

Sereno, through his counsel, lawyer Justine Mendoza filed on Monday her 85-page verified answer to the impeachment complaint filed by Gadon before the House committee on justice.

Sereno’s lead counsel, lawyer Alexander Poblador, said Gadon’s allegations in the complaint were “baseless” and “totally false” and were based on “hearsay and newspaper clippings.”

Sereno’s camp maintained that the Chief Justice did not commit culpable violation of the Constitution, did not betray public trust, and did not commit corruption. It warned the House members against impeaching Sereno upon false and flimsy grounds, saying that it “will not only inflict injustice on her, but will also undermine the independence of the judiciary and the fundamental principle of separation of powers to the detriment of the Republic.”

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Senior Aegis frat member coddling hazing suspects — MPD

A senior Aegis Juris member may be coddling the younger fraternity members involved in the killing of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, said Manila Police District’s (MPD) Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel.

During the first Senate hearing on the death of 22-year-old University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Monday night, the MPD said it is looking into reports that officers and members of the Aegis Juris fraternity were being aided by some frat elders to hide and avoid being investigated on the fatal initiation rites last week.

Manila Police District (MPD) Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel (standing, right) (MANILA BULLETIN)
Manila Police District (MPD) Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel (standing, right) (MANILA BULLETIN)

“We have received reports that officers and members involved in the hazing were being coddled by a senior member,” he told the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee conducting the hearing.

Coronel declined to name the senior Aegis frat member pending further investigation. But when asked by Senator Grace Poe, vice chair of the public order panel, if the said “senior member” was in the room, Coronel hesitated and answered there was “no direct evidence,” leading senators to believe that the supposed coddler attended the hearing.

UST Faculty of Civil Law dean Atty. Nilo Divina, a member of Aegis Juris, attended the Senate hearing. Besides him, other Aegis Juris members present in the inquiry were UST faculty Secretary Atty. Arthur Capili, faculty member Atty. Irvin Fabella, and Atty. Paterno Esmaquel, legal counsel of primary suspect John Paul Solano who had recently surrendered. The four denied any knowledge of the hazing and said they were no longer active in the fraternity.

In the hearing, Divina vowed to “do everything in (his) power” to give justice to the death of Castillo, reiterating that hazing is prohibited in UST. He also assured that those involved will be meted penalties.

Castillo, Divina said, was the first UST Civil Law student who died from hazing. He was found by his relatives bruised and already lifeless at the Archangel Funeral Homes in Sampaloc, Manila last Sunday, one day after he left his home for a supposed “welcome party” by the Aegis Juris fraternity.

They are now are hunting down at least 22 suspects allegedly involved in the killing, Coronel said.

Solano, appearing in the hearing, repeated that he was not involved in the hazing rites that led to Castillo’s death.

He told senators that “someone” from the group called him at around 6:30 a.m. Saturday and asked him to go to their fraternity library, or “fratlib” as they called it, along Laon-Laan Street in Sampaloc.

He said the caller at first refused to tell why he was needed, causing him to ignore the call. But then he got another call some 30 to 40 minutes later, wherein he was finally told that someone had “collapsed.”

Solano said the fraternity needed his help since he was a registered medical technologist and has a background on first aid.

When he arrived at the fratlib, Solano said he saw Castillo already lying on the floor and “looked unconscious.” He said he checked the slain student’s pupils and pulse, then performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Solano said it was him who initiated that Castillo be brought to the hospital. He, however, said the fraternity members told him “to follow them” to the Chinese General Hospital, where Castillo was declared dead on arrival.

Solano also confessed that he lied in his earlier statement to the police about stumbling upon an unconscious Castillo because the fraternity members had told him so.

Asked by senators who called him and to name the persons he followed, Solano refused to answer. He also invoked his right to self-incrimination and said the names will be contained in his affidavit.

Solano also said he “can’t categorically tell” if he was the “Popoy” named in the viral Facebook chat group.

“I was supposed to tell all. But since I was filed with multiple charges, I thought to invoke my right to remain silent,” Solano said.

The Senate decided to talk to Solano in an executive session with his lawyer Esmaquel following the hearing the same night. Senator Panfilo Lacson, public order committee chair, said they will weigh whether or not to share the information with the police and prosecutors.

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'PH failed to detect signs that led to Marawi' – expert

MARAWI CRISIS. Smoke billows from houses after aerial bombings by Philippine Air Force planes on terrorist positions in Marawi City on September 17, 2017. Photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP 

MANILA, Philippines – Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna criticized the Philippine government Friday, September 22, for failing to read signs of the "build-up" of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) in the Philippines, leading to the siege of Marawi City. 

"The Philippines failed to detect, to read, the indicators, the signs, and the clues that led to Marawi. We have to acknowledge that," Gunaratna said on Friday.

 

"If governments do not understand to read the indicators, then another Marawi is inevitable in this region," he also said. 

Gunaratna was speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Conference on Peace and the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Southeast Asia at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

The expert was referring to the May 23 siege of Marawi by the terrorist Maute Group, which is linked to ISIS.(READ:Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)

The Marawi siege triggered clashes with the Philippine military, and prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put Mindanao under martial law.

The Marawi clashes have killed at least 147 government forces, 45 civilians, and 660 terrorists. The crisis has also forced more than 600,000 Filipinos out of their homes.

'Not an intelligence failure'

In a speech, Gunaratna pointed out that the Marawi siege "is not an intelligence failure," but "an operational failure."

"It is a failure of government to act based on sound and timely intelligence," he said. 

He explained that before the Marawi siege, the Philippine intelligence community had already produced 4 reports on the "build-up" in Marawi. The latest of these reports was published on April 14.

"So you can see that as we look at the expansion of IS in the Southeast Asian region, for governments, it is very important to read the signs, indicators, and clues of the build-up of groups in certain cities," he said, referring to ISIS by its other acronym, IS.

He added that the expertise of ISIS "is distinct" from that of terror groups Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and Jemaah Islamiyah, "which was largely fighting in the rural areas."

In contrast, he said, "if you look at IS, it was always moving from the desert to the cities," such as Mosul and Raqqa.

Gunaratna also said that "IS central advised those groups that occupied Marawi on how to conduct the battle in Marawi."

He cited advice from "IS central" on May 24, just a day after the Marawi siege. This was for the Maute Group to "quickly get a drone up," as the Armed Forces of the Philippines approached Marawi. "So you can see the guidance."

Duterte and previous leaders

At the same time, Gunaratna noted that President Rodrigo Duterte "acknowledged that IS is operating in the Philippines." (READ: Duterte says martial law due to ISIS threat)

"Unfortunately, the previous leaders, the previous bureaucrats, said there's no IS in the Philippines. So I think that the President understood that to fight IS, he needed to identify them," Gunaratna said. (READ: Admit ISIS presence in Philippines, analyst says

"Identifying the problem itself is 50% of the solution," he said.

Former Philippine president Fidel V Ramos, who was in Friday's event, also gave his own "very sound advice" on the Marawi crisis.

"The Marawi uprising could have been prevented if only there was more of what we call in ASEAN 'musyawarah-mufakat.' What is that? Musyawarah means consultation. Mufakat means consensus," he said.

Consultation, he said, can be done through the government mechanism called Legislatic-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac).

Created by Ramos in 1992, Ledac advises the President and is composed of the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and other government leaders.

Ramos, who endorsed Duterte for president, said "consultation" has taken a different form under the former Davao City mayor.

"Now the consultation is only among the party leaders. Ano 'yon?" (What's that?) – Rappler.com

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Supreme Court asked to order probe into all EJK cases

JUSTICE FOR ALL. Mourners of the death of Kian Loyd delos Santos demand accountability in drug war killings. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler 

MANILA, Philippines – Human rights lawyers on Friday, September 22, asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order the heads of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to "investigate all cases of extrajudicial killing and arbitrary executions," which have reached several thousands in a year. 

In a 34-page petition for mandamus, the lawyers said PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, CHR Chairman Chito Gascon, and DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II should be compelled to look into all these killings whether the perpetrators are with government or not, and regardless of whether these are linked to the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

 

Petitioners Anna Baquiran, Mary Jane Real, Maria Lulu Reyes, Joan Dymphna Saniel, and Evalyn Ursua asked the High Court to order the agency chiefs to do the following:

  • Investigate each allegation of violation of the right to life committed in police anti-illegal drugs operations
  • Set up measures to prevent any further alleged violations of the right to life
  • Submit regular reports to the SC on the number and circumstances of “extrajudicial killings,” on the progress of each case, and on measures set up to prevent more of such killings

petition for mandamus is a request filed with the SC asking for an order (mandamus) to subordinate courts, corporations, or public officials to do their duty.

In the introductory statement of their petition, the lawyers said the “killings of thousands of Filipinos” cast doubt on the government’s “ability to enforce its laws,” particularly in recognizing the right to life. (READ: In the PH drug war, it's likely EJK when...)

According to the latest tally of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), there were 3,811 drug suspects killed in police operations from July 1, 2016, to August 29, 2017.

Outside police operations, the PNP earlier said that from July 1, 2016, to August 15, 2017, there were at least 2,187 persons killed for drug-related motives. (READ: Except for killings, all crimes drop in Duterte's 1st year)

Human rights groups, however, estimate that there have been 13,000 killings related to the drug war.

Of these cases, the CHR has only started investigations into about 800, while the DOJ says prosecutors across the country have filed only 19 cases in court.

Investigations have been further delayed as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the PNP not to share case files with human rights investigators without his clearance.

These investigations so far, according to the petitioners, have not been "genuine" as they have been "unproductive," thus no accused cops have been put to jail. (READ: Impunity Series)

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ALVAREZ-FLOIRENDO TIFF | Ombudsman OKs graft raps vs ‘banana king’

Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has found sufficient evidence to indict Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floirendo for the graft complaint filed by his erstwhile buddy, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, over a deal between banana grower Tagum Development Corp. and the Bureau of Corrections.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved on September 18 the 11-page resolution of Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Voltaire Africa recommending that Floirendo be criminally charged before the Sandiganbayan for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“All in all, this Office finds that the complaint offered sufficient evidence showing that respondent probably committed a violation of Section 3 (h) of RA 3019 and thus there is probable cause to indict respondent for the offense,” Africa said in the resolution.

Alvarez and Floirendo, whose family-owned firm is the largest banana producer in the country and was the largest contributor to the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte, had a falling out early this year, reportedly because of a spat between their respective partners.

Alvarez alleged Floirendo committed graft when Tadeco signed an amended agreement with Bucor on May 21m 2003 to use land within the Davao Penal Colony for a banana plantation. At the time, Floriendo was serving as representative of Davao del Norte and also directly owned 75,000 shares in Tadeco.

He also owned 537,950 shares of Anflo Management and Investment Corporation, the listed parent company of Tadeco, in which it also owns 4,730,000 shares with a subscription cost of P473 million.

Floirendo argued that, aside from being a public officer in 2003, the other elements of his alleged offense were not established as he did not have any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in the 2003 agreement between Bucor and Tadeco.

But the Ombudsman noted that there is no dispute that he was a public officer at the time yet had a direct and indirect financial interest in the contract through his ownership of shares in Tadeco and Anflocor, which would also likely violate Art. VI, Section 14, of the 1987 Constitution.

The provision bars members of Congress from directly or indirectly having financial interests in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege, granted by the government or any of its agencies, during thei term of office.

“A plain reading of the constitutional provision shows that respondent probably breached it,” the resolution said.

The Ombudsman also dismissed Floirendo’s claim that there was no conflict of interest because he was not involved in the negotiation of the 2003 Agreement and Congress had nothing to do with the deal.

“The argument is unavailing as he is charged under the second mode of Sec. 3(H) of RA 3019 in which mere prohibition by the Constitution or by law of financial interest in a contract suffices,” the resolution said.

 

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CPP hails opposition vs Duterte plan to ‘replicate’ Marcos; Luneta rally will be on Roxas Blvd

Activists converge on España Boulevard in Manila before marching to Mendiola and then to Luneta for anti-dictatorship rallies. (photo by Obet de Castro)

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines hailed the protest on Thursday, September 21, saying it showed “the determination of the Filipino people to oppose (President Rodrigo) Duterte’s plan to replicate his idol,” the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In Manila, the Movement Against Tyranny, which organized the rally at the Luneta, confirmed that the demonstration will no longer be inside the park itself but on the stretch of Roxas Boulevard from TM Kalaw to P. Burgos Avenue.

This was after they failed to secure the area in front of the Quirino grandstand where former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño said will be the venue of a feeding program and medical mission by the Lions Club.

Despite the change of venue, Casiño said they expect the protest to be peaceful.

Aside from marking the 45th anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial law over the country, Thursday’s protests are also meant to oppose what critics see as the increasingly brutal reign of Duterte, seen in a war on drugs that has claimed more than 13,000 lives since he assumed office, a counterinsurgency campaign marked by what human rights activists say are massive abuses, and the declaration of martial law over Mindanao.

“It’s all systems go,” Casiño said. “The stage is almost complete. May mga last minute changes lang saprogram kasi ang daming gustong sumali pa (There are last minute changes to the program because more people want to join), and we’re trying to accommodate everyone.”

MAT, an alliance of human rights, faith-based, and indigenous peoples’ groups, among others, said the rally is open to “people of all colors, all beliefs, and all ages who want a stop to the extrajudicial killings and other acts of tyranny of the Duterte regime.”

The Luneta program will start with the monologue “Sisa” and the song “Ugoy ng Duyan” to “represent the thousands of grieving mothers whose children have been killed in the government’s drug war and counterinsurgency operations.”

The program will end with the simultaneous ringing of bells at 8 p.m. nationwide (kampana ng konsyensiya) called by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas to awaken the conscience of a nation grown numb to the killings.

Marcos-era veterans like former Senator Rene Saguisag, former St. Scholastica’s College president Sr. Mary John Mananzan, and Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang spokesperson Bonifacio Ilagan are expected to deliver speeches. There would also be performances from artists like Bituin Escalante, Audie Gemora, the cast of PETA’s Game of Trolls, Buklod, spoken word artist Juan Miguel Severo, Pen Medina, Toym Imao, Joel Saracho, Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change, rapper BLKD, La Loba Negra, Chikoy Pura, the Dwight Gaston Band, and Tropical Depression.

“What better day to unite the Filipino people against threats of a fascist dictatorship by Rodrigo Duterte than today when 45 years ago Marcos imposed martial law and founded his dictatorship?” the CPP said in an editorial in its publication Ang Bayan, as it accused Duterte of wanting to “install himself as a fascist dictator and use absolute power to control the entire state machinery and resources for himself and his clique.”

The CPP leads forces, including the New People’s Army, who have been waging an armed struggle for close to half a century. Although the rebels had initially been optimistic after Duterte resumed formal peace talks with them, fighting has since resumed after negotiations bogged down.

“Duterte’s victims are now the most determined to hinder the vile fascist plot to put the entire country under martial law and intensify the campaigns of death and destruction,” the CPP said. “They are set to be joined by broad sections of Philippine society, by various political parties and groups, churches, communities and so on.”

At the same time, the CPP predicted that Thursday’s protest would “inspire more demonstrations in the coming weeks and months” as “Duterte’s hundreds of thousands of victims demand their grievances be heard.”

It called on them to hold “assemblies … from barangay halls to coliseums to indict Duterte and express their collective anger” against a president who “is in a frenzy to monopolize political power and silence all those opposing his programs and policies.”

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