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DOTr workers buck transfer to Clark

Photo: DOTr Sec Arthur Tugade. INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will start on Monday the transfer of its operations from its current main office in Mandaluyong City to a site some 100 km away in Clark in Pampanga province in a move that could mean getting ready for work as early as 3 a.m. for many of the department’s employees.
On the Facebook page “DOTr No to Clark Transfer,” current and former employees of DOTr aired their gripes about the transfer, many asking whether there was “urgent and compelling reason” for the move.
The DOTr will provide shuttle service to its employees at two pickup points—Edsa Shrine and TriNoma. The shuttle from Edsa Shrine will leave at 5 a.m. and the one in TriNoma at 6 a.m.

A member of the 176-employee Facebook group said this meant they would have to wake up as early as 3 a.m. to catch the shuttle service. “What would happen to our health?” said one DOTr employee.
Another employee said he currently gets up at 4:30 a.m. to be at the DOTr head office in Columbia Tower in Mandaluyong City at 7 a.m. With the shuttle arrangement, he noted that this meant he would have to be awake as early as 2:30 a.m.

Ungodly hours
“I would then have to sleep earlier than my kids so I could be up by 2:30 a.m.,” he said. “[Then] I should be asleep by 6 or 7 p.m.,” he said. “Around that time we’re only on our way back from Clark. That’s such a burden for us,” he added.
In a statement, the department said the transfer to Clark was in line with government efforts to decongest Metro Manila, reduce travel time, and improve travel time of commuters and motorists, while helping boost development in peripheral areas.
The DOTr said it had dialogues and discussions with its employees “to thresh out issues, differences and fears about the transfer.”
To address concerns, the agency said it would implement flexi-time and a four-day work week and also provide shuttle service to and from Clark. A subsidized accommodation for employees is also being discussed.
Employees are also given the choice to move to another DOTr attached agency, the department added.
“The first batch of offices will transfer to Clark on July 28,” the DOTr statement said.
Earlier this month, Vince Dizon, president and chief executive officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, said the BCDA was rushing preparations in Clark for the transfer of the DOTr.
Tugade’s dream
He had said that while the envisioned National Government Center was yet to rise in the planned New Clark City, the DOTr would first occupy a three-story building previously used by a call center firm.
The DOTr is currently occupying several floors at Columbia Tower.
Among the offices expected to lead the transfer are those of Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade’s and his undersecretaries, as well as the department’s communications and legal divisions.
Dizon said that unlike in Malaysia, where most government offices relocated to Putrajaya from Kuala Lumpur in one go, the transfer of national government agencies to Clark would be gradual.
The first phase of New Clark City, however, would not be completed until 2022. The Philippine National Railway’s Manila-Clark line, which would connect Metro Manila with Clark, would not be in operation until 2020.
The employees expressed hope that the DOTr would just wait until then to move to Clark./rga

 

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Robredo says she’s unfazed by impeachment threats

By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday she has done nothing wrong as the second highest official of the land and was prepared to face any move to impeachment her.

Robredo was responding to statements from proadministration lawmakers, including House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, that she might face impeachment after Congress resumes its session next week.

Alvarez recently told the Inquirer that he was building a case against her for “betraying the public trust” when she criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and extrajudicial killings in her message to an international narcotics forum.


“We are not doing anything wrong. We are prepared to face it. It’s part of the democratic process,” Robredo told reporters during a visit to a poor community in Malabon City.

Political firestorm

Two impeachment complaints were filed against the Vice President after her March 16 video message to a side event of the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria, sparked a political firestorm as it coincided with the filing of the first impeachment case against the President.

However, no member of the House of Representatives has endorsed the complaints, prompting the complainants to submit them to the Speaker.

Alvarez has not acted on either complaint.

Robredo said she couldn’t tell whether the impeachment moves would gain traction in the House, where she had served as representative of her home district in Camarines Sur.

Sufficient grounds

“It’s hard to say [if the impeachment will get the support of lawmakers]. But maybe it would be better if the support for it were to be based on sufficient grounds,” she said.

“Impeachment is a political process, but any decision should be based on the grounds for impeachment. Let’s listen to the grounds and discuss whether this should be passed to the Senate” as the impeachment court, Robredo said.

She added that she was not fazed by it and would not allow any complaint to impede her work.

Alvarez told the Inquirer in a recent interview that Robredo had spoken against the entire country with her video message.

“What? You would go to the UN, then you would talk and lambaste our nation? Isn’t that betrayal of public trust? That’s a ground for impeachment,” Alvarez said.

 

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De Lima tells EU lawmakers she’s being treated well at PNP jail

By: Jeannette I. Andrade - Reporter / @jiandradeINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer 

Photo: VISITING LEILA European lawmakers arrive at the PNP detention center to visit Sen. Leila de
Lima on Wednesday. —RICHARD A. REYESTwelve European Union lawmakers visited Sen. Leila de Lima at the Philippine National Police detention center on Wednesday to make sure she was being treated well in the lockup.

The head of the group, Sweden’s representative to the European Parliament Soraya Viola Helena Post, told reporters after the one-hour visit that De Lima looked “very good and strong.”

The group included members of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights: Adam Kosa of Hungary, Josef Weidenholzer of Austria, Rikke Karlsson of Denmark and Post.

They were accompanied to Camp Crame in Quezon City, where the PNP headquarters is located, by acting EU Ambassador to the Philippines Mattias Lentz.

A 13th EU lawmaker, an adviser and member of the political group staff to the European Parliament, was not able to join the visit to De Lima.

 

No complaints

Post said De Lima assured her visitors that she was being treated well by the PNP.

“We discussed her situation and she did not complain (about) the police. She said they’re taking care of her,” Post said.

“She says that she would like to go to her family and she also would like to go to her work to vote in the Senate,” Post said.

Asked why they visited De Lima, Post replied: “The delegation’s purpose of the visit is to express our concerns as parliamentarians in Europe about the case of De Lima. Of course, because we had a resolution and also some other issues that is our concern on human rights.”

Post was referring to the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on March 16 urging the administration of President Duterte to end extrajudicial killings in its war on drugs and to give priority to the fight against drug trafficking networks and drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers.

The EU lawmakers also called for the immediate release from detention of De Lima, citing concerns that the drug charges brought against her were “almost entirely fabricated.”

Drug charges

De Lima was arrested at the Senate on Feb. 24, a week after the Department of Justice filed three cases against her for violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act in the Regional Trial Court in Pasay City.

She was accused of receiving payoffs from convicted drug lords held in New Bilibid Prison.

De Lima has vehemently denied the charges, saying these have been “manufactured” by Mr. Duterte’s allies as retaliation for her 2009 investigation of summary executions of criminal suspects in Davao, when he was mayor of the city, and her launching an inquiry last year into thousands of extrajudicial killings in his crackdown on illegal drugs.

The EU lawmakers, in their resolution, urged the dropping of all “politically motivated charges” against De Lima, noting that Amnesty International “regards Senator De Lima as a prisoner of conscience.”

On March 24, Mr. Duterte responded angrily calling the EU lawmakers “crazies.”

“If I have the preference, I’ll hang all of you. You are putting us down,” Mr. Duterte said.

‘Idiotic exercise’

He also lashed out at the European Union for proposing a “health-based solution” to the drug problem that involved dispensing cocaine or heroin or crystal meth, which is locally known as “shabu.”

He called the supposed EU proposal a “government-sponsored idiotic exercise.”

“The sons of bitches, they want us to build clinics, then we should, instead of arresting or putting them in prison like in other countries, you go there and if you want shabu they will inject you or give you shabu,” he said in a speech to Chinese-Filipino businessmen.

“Then if you want cocaine, they will give you cocaine and if they want heroin, they will give you heroin,” he added. —With a report from Inquirer Research

 

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Ombudsman finds Banisilan ex-mayor guilty of misconduct

By: Marc Jayson Cayabyab - Reporter / @MJcayabyabINQINQUIRER.net

Photo: Office of the Ombudsman. NOY MORCOSO/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

A former mayor of Banisilan, Cotabato was perpetually disqualified from holding public office after being found administratively guilty for appointing her nephew as the general manager of the Banisilan Water System.

In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman found former Banisilan Mayor Betty Allado guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The Ombudsman said Allado appointed her nephew, municipal administrator Jornalito Allado, as the general manager of the Banisilan Water System, which is tasked to manage and operate the municipality’s water system.

The Ombudsman said “(Mayor) Allado committed a misconduct attended by willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules in violation of the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 198 and Executive Order 292.”

Jornalito Allado was also dismissed from service after the Ombudsman found that he, as chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), awarded a consultancy service for the project “Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat” to Noel Bryan Tuling of JK Engineering Design and Consultancy Services without public bidding.

In 2012, the Banisilan municipality was a recipient of a project assistance having received P7 million for its implementation.

Tuling turned out to be Jornalito Allado’s brother-in-law, the Ombudsman said.

The procurement rules state that all bids should be accompanied by a sworn affidavit of the bidder that it is not related to the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE), members of BAC, and BAC Secretariat by consanguinity up to the third civil degree, the Ombudsman said.

“Jornalito’s failure to disclose this fact is tainted with the element of corruption as his omission gave an unwarranted benefit to Tuling,” the Ombudsman said.

The two Allados were thus, ordered dismissed from the service; in case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to their salary for one year.

The Ombudsman also found administratively liable the BAC members who allegedly failed to exercise due diligence in ensuring that Section 47 of Revised Implementation Rules and regulations (IRR) of the Government Procurement Reform Act is complied with.

The following BAC members who were suspended for one year after being found guilty of simple misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service were Jaime Alisasis, Ramil Jayma, Marietta Nonan, Ramon Capanang, Carmencita Bari, Andres Serue, Raymond Franco, Hilario Cabangon and Leopoldo Cascante Jr. JPV/rga

 

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Singer Noven Belleza nabbed for rape in Cebu

Tawag ng Tanghalan champ had just guested in Vice Ganda's concert when arrested. He is accused of rape by 19-year-old
By: Benjie B. Talisic, Futch Anthon Inso - @inquirerdotnetInquirer Visayas 

Showtime’s Tawag ng Tanghalan Grand Champion Noven Belleza (Photo from the Facebook page of Mr. Belleza)

CEBU CITY— The grand champion of a television show singing contest is facing charges for allegedly raping a 19-year-old girl last Saturday, hours before he guested in a concert that top-billed comedian Vice Ganda in this city.

Noven Belleza, a resident of Negros Occidental, was arrested last Saturday (July 15, not Sunday, July 16, as previously reported) here after performing in Vice Ganda’s comedy concert held at the IEC Pavillon and after being identified by the victim.

He didn’t resist arrest.

A complaint of rape was filed against Belleza on Monday (July 17). During the inquest proceeding, the suspect was brought to a hospital after he complained of chest pains.

Belleza, a son of a farmer from Negros Occidental, was the first grand champion of Tawag ng Tanghalan, a segment of the daily noontime show, Showtime, aired over ABS-CBN.

PO1 Ma. Theresa Talisic of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk said the victim alleged that she was raped around 2 p.m. last Saturday (July 15) inside a condominium unit in Barangay Lahug, where Belleza was staying.

The victim also claimed that the suspect hurt her when she tried to stop him from molesting her. SFM/rga

 

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PNP chief: We’re winning drug war

By: Jaymee T. Gamil - Reporter / @jgamilINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

PNP Chief General Ronald De La Rosa. EDWIN BACASMAS/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Philippine National Police is satisfied with the results of the war on drugs, according to the top cop.

There have been problems, but nothing without a remedy, he said.

“We are winning the war. I am very satisfied,” PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said at a recent news conference.

“It’s just that along the way, we encountered problems. But we do give it attention and solution,” he said.

Dela Rosa measured the campaign’s success by what the public was saying about it.

“Go out in the streets, ask people if they feel safe. If they [say they don’t], then we’re a failure. If they [say they do], then we’re successful. I can honestly tell you: People in the streets say they do feel safer now,” he said.

Dela Rosa cited the 27-percent decrease in index crimes over the past year.

“[That means] a lot of crimes are drug-related. If you attack the [drug problem], the [crime problem] will also decrease,” he said.

But the campaign has been hurt by the involvement of some police in the drug trade and even in possibly drug-related murder.

Dela Rosa cited the kidnapping and murder of a Korean businessman by narcs last year as the lowest point in the war on drugs, which drove President Duterte to suspend the campaign and dismantle the PNP antinarcotics unit.

The abduction and murder of Jee Ick-joo also led to the dismissal of the narcs involved and to a cleansing of the ranks that cost 160 other rogue officers their badges.

 

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Armored personnel carrier smashes into passenger van in CDO mishap, 7 dead

By Pat Ortiz, News5 | InterAksyon

Photo: Detail from the wreckage of the passenger van that was hit by an armored personnel carrier at Cagayan de Oro City. Photo from Manticanononnow
A military fighting vehicle that was trying to overtake a trailer truck ended up figuring in a head-on collision with a passenger van, leaving seven people dead and eight others wounded along the national highway in Manticao, Misamis Oriental, 8:30 p.m., Monday, July 17.

Police said 14 of the victims were passengers of the van, including its driver, while the other person injured was a motorcycle driver who also got entangled in the accident.

Dead on the spot Hadji Macaumbos, Rey Mancao, Siete Guimba, Jocelyn Baldoz, van driver Hadji Bangcola, and an unidentified woman.

Senior Inspector Marlo Lanioso, Manticao police chief, said passenger Nobalsa Domapo was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead Tuesday, July 18.

Eight other wounded passengers who are still recuperating at the Manticao provincial hospital were identified as Renzo Pagayon, Raima Tangote, Norhaya Ampaan, Hadji Lanto, Reham Lanto, Dimpinto Norjama, Samsodin Domapo and a nine-year old boy.

Authorities said the SIMBA APC, an armored personnel carrier of the military driven by Staff Sergeant Danny Tenezo, crashed head-on into the van driven by Bangcola and sideswiped the motorcycle.

Lanioso said a military convoy led by an army truck and four backup SIMBA vehicles were travelling from Iligan City to Cagayan de Oro City to load up on logistics supply at Laguindingan airport.

At the site of the accident, the lead car started overtaking a trailer truck while the other SIMBA vehicles followed.

While overtaking, the APC crashed into the van coming from the opposite direction.

Lanioso said the military vehicle drivers may have committed lapses when they tried to overtake at a ‘No Overtaking and Curve Lane’.

However, Lanioso said the driver of the van also apparently failed to notice the military vehicles’ signal light while overtaking.

Lanioso said Tenezo will face charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, multiple physical injury and damage to property.

Tenezo was detained at Manticao police station while waiting for the filing of charges.

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Aquino: My conscience is clear


By: Nikko Dizon - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer 

Photo: Former President Benigno Aquino III is unfazed by his indictment in the Mamasapano debacle, vowing that his political detractors will not be able to bring him down for the bungled police counterterrorism operation that led to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Breaking his silence, Aquino told the Inquirer in an interview on Monday: “In my conscience, I am very clear.”

Asked if his political enemies would be able to get him with Mamasapano, he replied: “No.”

 

On Friday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing in the Sandiganbayan of criminal charges of usurpation of authority and graft against Aquino, then Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas.

The graft charge carries a penalty ranging from six to 10 years in prison, while usurpation of authority is punishable by six months to six years in prison.

The charges stemmed from the SAF operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25, 2015, that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, at the expense of 44 commando lives.

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Purisima was allowed to direct the SAF operation although he was under suspension on graft charges.

Aquino acknowledged that Mamasapano was “one of the issues that had traction” during his incumbency.

“And my enemies, those who I want to characterize as wanting to preserve the wrong system for us, really tried to milk the issue for all it’s worth,” he said.

All about politics

It was unfortunate, Aquino said, that politics got in the way of the truth.

“Instead of helping to arrive at a thorough investigation that could have put a rest to all of the issues attendant to it, they tried to promote a lot of conspiracy angles and side issues to milk the issue,” he said.

Aquino looks at the case he is facing as an “opportunity to clear up the picture, in case there are those who want to know the truth.”

Aquino’s lawyers are set to submit his motion for reconsideration (MR) today.

He was careful not to give details on his reply to the charges leveled against him until the MR is formally filed.

But Aquino said he was “caught by tremendous surprise” to see the charges against him.

“I was not aware there was a complaint lodged against me needing a resolution. So I asked my lawyers was I ever complained about on those two aspects and they told me that there was never any complaint. Since there was no complaint, there was never any situation where we had to submit a counteraffidavit and state our version, or our interpretation of the facts,” he said.

“So to have something resolved when there was no complaint was something rather vague,” he said.

“I am not a lawyer, but I am aware of the right to know of what you are being charged with, right to face the accusers and things like that,” Aquino said.

Still, Aquino said, he continued “to believe and to have faith” in Morales. She swore him into office in June 2010 and he appointed her as Ombudsman after she retired from the Supreme Court.

He admitted that he was also quite affected by the fact that it was Morales who filed the case against him.

It would be “hypocritical,” Aquino said, to say otherwise.

“I try to understand where they are coming from,” he said.

No to Congress probe
Aquino also said he would rather “bring up clarifications” on Mamasapano before the Office of the Ombudsman or the Sandiganbayan, instead of a congressional inquiry.

“How will this add to the quest for legislation?” he
noted.

To the SAF families who want to see him jailed, Aquino said he was aware that wanting to blame someone for the loss of a loved one was being “human.”

“I understand everybody who suffered the loss would have [to undergo] this whole process to come to terms with the loss, that knowing exactly what happened can lead to closure and to moving on,” he said.

Aquino believes that his critics are also behind the families who continue to slam him for Mamasapano.

Filing cases against these persons is not far from Aquino’s mind.

He will identify them, he said, “once I have the proof that can be utilized in court if I file the necessary cases.”

 

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