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Taguiwalo rejected as DSWD chief

MANILA – The Commission on Appointments (CA) has rejected the ad interim appointment of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Wednesday, August 16.
The CA plenary made the decision after the CA committee on labor and social welfare held an executive session on Taguiwalo's appointment on Wednesday, at least 3 CA sources said.
At the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Taguiwalo was grilled on the Conditional Cash Transfer program, her views the proposed national identification system, and her links with the National Democratic Front (NDF), which had nominated her for the post.
The committee presented its recommendation to the CA plenary, which voted on whether to adopt or reject it the same day.
If the CA adopts the recommendation of the panel, Taguiwalo will be the third Duterte Cabinet appointee to be rejected by the powerful body, after former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr and former environment chief Gina Lopez.
Under CA rules, President Rodrigo Duterte can no longer reappoint a rejected official. Duterte reappointed Taguiwalo each time the CA bypassed her appointment. An ad interim appointment is deemed bypassed when the CA fails to act on it before Congress goes on session break.
The CA adopted the "3 strikes, you're out" policy in March to limit the number of times an appointee can be bypassed and reappointed. Once the appointee is bypassed for the 3rd time, he or she will face rejection.
Since the adoption of the new rule, the Left's nominee to the post has been bypassed twice during the sine die adjournment on June 2, and the special joint session on July 22.
Congress convened in a special session on July 22 to decide on Duterte's request to extend the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
At the time, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said that the Senate had agreed to consider the appointment of Taguiwalo and other Cabinet officials bypassed when it was not taken up then. The others are Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Controversial appointment
Just before Wednesday's hearing, Taguiwalo told reporters that she was "hoping for the best but expecting the worst."
“Kung ang batayan ay integrity at competence, walang batayan para hindi ma-confirm ang appointment (If the basis is integrity and competence, there’s no basis not to confirm my appointment),” Taguiwalo told reporters as the CA panel held an executive session on her appointment.
Taguiwalo's relationship with Congress has been tense in her first year in office.
In August last year, she released an order seeking to end patronage in providing social aid. In that order, she reminded personnel evaluating aid requests that endorsement letters from public officials are "not integral" to the implementation of the DSWD's Protective Services Program.
Her appointment hearing had been deferred twice, the second time on May 17.
Taguiwalo's only CA hearing on May 3 turned controversial when Sotto quipped that single mothers like her are "na-ano lang" (just knocked up).
Her struggle to be officially appointed as social welfare chief has launched the#ConfirmJudy campaign on social media. Her supporters held banners outside the Senate building on Wednesday, seeking her confirmation. – Rappler.com

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BIR investigates Comelec chief, wife

MANILA – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has formed a team to investigate possible tax violations of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, his estranged wife Patricia, and other parties involved in the exposé on the official's alleged unexplained wealth.
BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay signed on Monday, August 14, Order No 706-2017 creating a 5-man special team to probe the Bautista couple, lawyer Nilo Divina and his firm Divina Law, the Luzon Development Bank (LDB), and "other related parties."
Dulay designated Glen Geraldino of BIR Makati as the team's coordinator.
In a letter to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on August 15, Dulay asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for copies of any and all affidavits, reports and documents which your office may deem pertinent to the tax investigation.
According to Patricia's affidavit, there are 35 LDB accounts amounting to P227 million.
The Comelec chief also allegedly has two undeclared properties – a condominium unit in Bonifacio High Street and one in California, USA. Bautista is also alleged to have investments in 3 foreign companies.
Bautista's close friend, Nilo Divina, is also implicated because according to Patricia's affidavit, her husband received commissions from the Divina Law Firm which supposedly has government clients.
Patricia accused Bautista and Divina of conspiring so that her husband could benefit from his Comelec position.
Full-blown probe
Earlier, Aguirre said the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) was tapped to look into Bautista and check for any red flags during his stint as Comelec chief.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PCGG, and BIR are all looking into the claims of Patricia that her husband has bank and real property assets amounting to nearly P1 billion.
Bautista's declared net worth for 2016 in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) is only P173 million.
One of Patricia's claims is that in 2016 – an election year – there were "almost daily" deposits to bank accounts which were always below P500,000, possibly to avoid detention by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
The Anti-Money Laundering Act sets P500,000 as the threshold amount that merits the filing of a suspicious transaction report with the AMLC.
Aguirre is counting on the AMLC to jump in the investigation, citing an agreement between the body and the NBI.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is conducting an impeachment case buildup against Bautista. – Rappler.com

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DND may acquire medium tanks

MANILA -- Instead of heavily-armored and gunned main battle tanks, the Department of National Defense (DND) is looking at the possibility of acquiring some medium tanks for its armored units.
This was emphasized by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana when asked by the PNA Wednesday, August 16, on whether the ongoing conflict in densely-packed Marawi City, where Maute Group terrorists converted concrete houses and buildings into fortified fighting positions, necessitates the acquisition of a main battle tank fleet.
"Not really. We do not expect a lot Marawi-type conflict in the future. Therefore a couple of medium tanks would do: for contingency in urban warfare and for training," he added.
Lorenzana also defines main battle tanks as vehicles weighing 40 tons or more and carrying a large-caliber gun while medium tanks are those weighing 20 tons or less and equipped with a medium-caliber but powerful cannon but capable of breaching reinforced concrete walls.
As this developed, Mechanized Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Emman Adriano said they are now using with great effect the newly-acquired armored vehicles in their ongoing operations in Marawi City.
"Our current capability can surely sustain the operations in Marawi City," he added.
Adriano earlier said a large portion of the country's armored assets are now seeing action in the ongoing operations to clear Marawi City of the remaining Maute Group terrorists.
"(Armored assets deployed ) are four mechanized battalions, one cavalry squadron and one light armored troop. All of our newly acquired armored vehicles are now deployed in Marawi City," he said. These units consists of more than 120 armored vehicles of various types. -- PNA

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SunVar ordered to vacate Mile Long property

MANILA – The Makati City Regional Trial Court on Tuesday, August 15, ordered the Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, a real estate firm owned by the Rufino and Prieto families to vacate the 2.9-hectare Mile Long property in Makati City, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said on Tuesday.
The Rufino and Prieto families control the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s largest newspaper, which has been repeatedly accused by President Duterte of undermining his administration. The broadsheet is reportedly being purchased by business magnate Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp.
Calida said the Court of Appeals Resolution dated Aug. 14, 2017 remanded the case back to Makati RTC Branch 141 and directed the sheriff to execute the June 10, 2015 decision of Makati MeTC Branch 61, which ordered Sunvar to vacate the Mile Long property.
Earlier on Tuesday, Makati RTC Branch 141 of Judge Maryann Corpus-Manalac issued a Notice to Vacate, implementing the CA Resolution dated August 14, 2017, ordering to surrender possession of the property within three days from receipt.
The notice covered not only Sunvar Realty but also other tenants in the property.
"You are hereby given a period of three days from receipt thereof to surrender the possession of the above-described property with all the improvements existing thereon or vacate the premises within such given time, after which the undersigned will place the petitioner in actual and physical possession thereof to duly satisfy the Writ of Execution," read the order.
Calida, along with the Branch Sheriff Robert Bautista, went Tuesday to the Mile Long property serving the notice to Sunvar Realty and all other tenants.
Mile Long property was leased by government to Sunvar on Feb. 28, 1982. The agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2002, but Sunvar continued to occupy the property despite the expiration of the lease.
Calida said that since 2003, or for the last 14 years and seven months, Sunvar has been squatting, illegally using and occupying the Mile Long property and despite notices, continued to remain in possession and collect millions of rentals from tenants.
"In truth, you guys are like the Kadamay squatters. You have been depriving the government of money that could have been used to fund projects for the poor," Calida said.
In 2009, the government filed a complaint for Unlawful Detainer against Sunvar Realty before the Metropolitan Trial Court for its illegal and unauthorized use and occupation of the Mile Long property.
According to Calida, an ejectment case is summary in nature as it intends to provide an expeditious means of protecting right to possession.
"From the get-go, Sunvar never questioned the factual issues of the case. They just delayed everything. They filed baseless motions reaching up to the Supreme Court. That's why it took almost six years before it was decided by the Metropolitan Trial Court,” Calida opined.
Earlier, the CA has affirmed its ruling issued last January which gave the government an upperhand to regain possession of over 2.9 hectare Mile Long property in Makati City from Sunvar Realty..
On June 10, 2015, the MeTC Makati City Branch 61 granted the complaint for ejectment filed by the government against Sunvar and ordered the latter to vacate the property located between De La Rosa and Arnaiz Streets and parallel to Amorsolo Street in Legazpi Village.
The MeTC also directed Sunvar to pay the government back rentals as of May 2015 amounting to P478.2 million with monthly rental of P3.2 million beginning June 2015 until it vacates the premises.
After a motion to consolidate was granted, Makati RTC Branch 59 took cognizance of both cases.
In upholding its January 2017 decision, the CA insisted that Makati RTC Branch 59 has no jurisdiction over the two cases.
It noted that Sunvar violated the Rules of Summary Procedure which provides for the remedy of appeal to the appropriate RTC.
In its complaint about ejectment, the government and the National Power Corporation accused Sunvar of refusing to vacate the subject property despite the lapse of the ultimatum given to the latter.
The said property is at present being leased out by Sunvar to the operators of Premier Cinema, Mile Long Arcade, Makati Creekside Building, The Gallery Building, and Sunvar Plaza.
Other portions of the property, however, remain as open spaces, profitably utilized as a parking area for customers and guests. -- PNA

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Drilon confronts Pernia for ‘political noise’ remark

MANILA -- Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday, August 16, took exception to the statement of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that “political noise” could put the projected economic growth at risk.
Pernia and other members of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) were at the Senate to brief senators on the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.
During his presentation, Pernia said a possible “rising political noise” is one of the “risks and uncertainties” that could affect the country’s economic growth.
Drilon, a member of the former ruling Liberal Party (LP), asked Pernia what he meant by political noise.
“Political noise is really a general expression...It can be from any sector of the society...[like] labor...Protests, for example...Demonstrations,” Pernia said.
Pernia also answered in the affirmative when Drilon asked him if he considers criticisms to the Duterte administration as political noise.
“My goodness gracious, so you’re saying that this is a risk to growth?” Drilon asked Pernia. The Cabinet secretary answered: “It would lead to disunity.”
“So we cannot criticize because we will be considered as causing disunity to the nation?” Drilon said.
Pernia then replied: “Well, ideally, we should all be united, right? To achieve our common goal.” He added that political noise could also come from the international community.
Drilon said Pernia should be careful in the terms he uses as he represents the views of the Duterte administration.
“Just be careful with your language because you are a Cabinet secretary and your statement reflects the sentiment of this administration in so far as planning is concerned. And when you say that the risk includes political noise, that is very disturbing of the trend of your thinking,” Drilon told Pernia. — GMA News

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Poultry farmers surrender birds to stop spread of avian flu

MANILA -- Poultry farmers outside the 1-kilometer quarantine radius in San Luis, Pampanga surrendered their birds to the government for culling to cut losses and help stop the avian influenza outbreak from further spreading, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Wednesday, August 16.

"'Yung mga farmers outside the one kilometer have also offered na maisama na ang kanilang mga farms sa depopulation process," Piñol told reporters in a press briefing in Quezon City.
This development has raised the number of birds to be culled to 600,000 from an earlier estimate of 200,000 within the quarantine zone, the Cabinet official said.

The Department of Agriculture will need about P52.8 million to compensate the affected farmers.

"I will ask the President for the immediate release of calamity funds," Piñol said.

As of Tuesday, 36 farms volunteered to be part of the depopulation process, he noted.

"Kesa malugi ... they decided to surrender their farms to the government ... I also view this as a patriotic act of the poultry farmers," Piñol said. — GMA News

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Village chief shot dead in Negros Oriental city

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — A village chief was shot dead while two of his companions were wounded by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Thursday.

Police are considering the possible involvement of the New People’s Army in the killing of Leudigario Gargoles Binera, 40, barangay captain of Hinakpan.

Hinakpan is near barangay Magsaysay, where the NPA ambushed and killed Guihulngan police chief Superintendent Arnel Arpon and five of his men, wounding three other officers, as they responded to a rebel attack on Councilor Edison dela Rita in which the official was hurt and his driver wounded on July 21.

Witnesses told investigators that around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Binera and his companions were drinking coffee outside the home of Angelito Villarmente in Barangay Tinayunan when a gunman shot at them with a .45 caliber pistol before fleeing on a waiting motorcycle driven by an accomplice.

The victims were rushed to the Gov. William Billy Villegas Hospital where Binera died.

In an interview, acting provincial police director Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas hinted of a possible link between the July 21 ambush and Binera’s murder.

Noting that Magsaysay and Hinakpan are “infiltrated with the NPA,” Biñas, without going into detail, said it appeared some people are seeking justice for the slain and wounded policemen, adding that there was a seeming pattern of retribution in recent shooting incidents in Guihulngan.

He appealed to the families of the slain policemen to let justice take its course even as he said they had reported receiving threats recently, with at least one person appearing at his office seeking assistance.

Biñas said he has offered the provincial police office as a refuge for those under threat.

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18 more slain in Camanava as Kiko decries earlier killings

(Reuters file)
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 12:17 p.m.) At least 18 more persons were reported killed overnight in the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) of Metro Manila even as Senator Francis Pangilinan decried the 57 deaths in Bulacan and Manila, mostly in police operation, over the past two days.

In Manila at least five more killings happened while in Quezon City a man his partner acknowledged was a “runner” for drug peddlers was gunned down inside his home in Payatas.

Caloocan accounted for the most deaths, 11, from 5 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, according to a tally by News5:

CALOOCAN – 11

Brgy. 120 – 3
Brgy. 13 – 1
Bugallion -1
Bagong Silang -1
Brgy. 176 PH7 -1
Phase 6- 1
Brgy. Daangbakal -1
Brgy. Tala – 1
Pamasawata – 1
MALABON – 2

Tinajeros – 1
Longos – 1

NAVOTAS – 2

Brgy. NBBN R10 -1
Brgy. San Jose – 1
VALENZUELA – 3

Maysan – 1
Canumay East – 1
Arkong Bato – 1
The recent killings, which included that of 17-year old senior high school student Kian Loyd delos Santos in Manila, prompted Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, to ask: “Kahit sino na lang kakaladkarin ng pulis para umabot sa quota? Makuha ang reward money (Are the police trying to meet a quota? Trying to earn the reward money)?”

Delos Santos’ death, in particular, has stirred public outrage over the continuing bloodshed in the government’s war on drugs.

Manila police claim Delos Santos shot it out with operatives but witnesses and closed circuit television footage have since tended to belie that account, showing the young man being dragged away before he was found dead.

Pangilinan decried the “killing right and left of the poor and defenseless while tons of shabu slip through the BoC (Bureau of Customs),” referring to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of the illegal drug that Congress is now investigating.

He urged resistance to the “massacre of the poor” and for drugs to be treated not only as a police but also a health and economic problem.

In Manila, a CCTV camera captured the attack along A. Rivera Street in Tondo that left businessman Willie Liu dead. Although he too was fired on by the killer, Liu’s business partner, Nikko Go, managed to escape unscathed.

The footage showed the SUV parking and, as Liu and Go got down, the gunman drive up on motorcycle and open fire. After felling Liu, the killer got off his motorcycle and shot at Go, who managed to run to safety.

In Ermita, a suspected snatcher supposedly opened fire on police who were stopping the motorcycle he was riding on because the driver had no helmet.

Senior Inspector Randy Veran of the Lawton police precinct said a woman had reported that her mobile phone had been snatched as she waited for a ride. When precinct personnel flagged down the motorcycle, the driver ignored them, triggering a chase during which the alleged snatcher, identified only as John Rey, opened fire.

A gun and two sachets of shabu were recovered from him, police said.

In Sampaloc, alleged pusher Eric Kailaw died on Paltok Street in a supposed shootout around 11 p.m. with police who had gotten wind of a drug deal in the area.

Two more drug suspects were killed in a buy-bust operation on Hermosa Street, Tondo.

In Payatas, Dannyfel Balad, 41, was shot dead inside his home on Daisy Street.

His partner, Rowena Pilar, said they were sleeping when the gunmen kicked in their door. In fear, Rowena said they hid in the toilet with their 10-year old child.

The suspects asked who Balad was and then shot him six times.

A team of Reuters journalists went to five communities in Manila on Thursday night, where four men died in shootouts with undercover police in drug ‘buy-bust’ or sting operations.

Police prevented the journalists from getting near the scene in the northwestern neighborhood of Caloocan but they saw three body bags being taken from a maze of narrow alleys. Elsewhere in Caloocan, they saw the corpse of a man slumped on an iron fence at the back of a mini-bus terminal.

Another man was killed near the Manila post office building, four died in hospitals in the northern area of Malabon and another died on the spot near a former garbage dump in the sprawling Quezon City district.

Three others were killed elsewhere on Thursday night, according to a radio report, including a man who was shot by masked men on a motorcycle in the eastern area of Marikina City.

Call for protest

“The killing spree must stop even as we also demand a stop to the proliferation of illegal drugs,” Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the left-wing Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said.

“A long-term and thorough solution is necessary. A fascist solution is doomed to fail.”

Reyes urged Filipinos to join a protest organized by a group of artists in Quezon City, saying in a flyer on social media: “Let us condemn the recent spike in the killings under the Duterte regime”.

Police say there has been no instruction from higher authorities to step up their anti-drug operations and they are only doing their job.

“The president did not instruct me to kill and kill,” national police chief Ronald dela Rosa said on Thursday. “I also don’t have any instructions to my men to kill and kill. But the instruction coming from the president is very clear that our war on drugs is unrelenting. Those who were killed fought back.”

Critics maintain that members of the Philippine National Police PNP are executing suspects and say it is likely they have a hand in thousands of unsolved murders of drug users by mysterious vigilantes. The PNP and government reject that.

Although the violence has been criticized by much of the international community, Filipinos largely support the campaign and domestic opposition to it has been muted. (with reports from Reuters | Jennylyn Calimon and Ivy Gale Bernardo, News5)

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