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Spokesman denies Mabilog fled to Japan

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. NESTOR BURGOS / INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ILOILO CITY – Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has not fled to Japan where he is living a “luxurious life” as alleged by President Duterte, according to the beleaguered chief executive’s spokesman on Tuesday.
But talk has been circulating here that Mabilog’s wife Marivic and their two children have either left Iloilo City or are already out of the country.
Lawyer Mark Piad said the mayor left on an official trip to Yokohama City in Japan on Aug. 30 to attend a conference of CityNet, a regional network of cities and organizations focusing on sustainable urban development.

His return flight was scheduled for Wednesday but Piad said there could be an adjustment because there were potential investors and Ilonggos in Japan who wanted to meet with the mayor.
“It could be just a day or two but nothing is final,” Piad, who spoke to Mabilog by phone on Monday, told the INQUIRER.
The INQUIRER sent separate text and private messages through Facebook to Mabilog and Marivic for comment but received no response.
Lifestyle check
In a speech at the birthday celebration of Davao Rep. Karlo Alexie “Kaka” Nograles in Davao City on Sept. 2, the President again mentioned Mabilog, saying the mayor’s house was “more grandiose” than Malacañang.
The President, who has ordered a lifestyle check on Mabilog, has claimed that the mayor’s controversial house was bigger than Malacañang Palace, the official residence and office of the Philippine presidents.
“It was because of drugs. Where else would he get the money from, his business?” the President said in Bisaya, as translated in a transcript by the Presidential Communications Operation Office.

But those who have been inside the mayor’s house have dismissed the claim that his three-story house along the Iloilo River is as big or grandiose as Malacañang Palace.
In discussing the illegal drug trade, the President again mentioned Mabilog as having fled to Japan.
“Muingon sila, ‘Ang kanang mga pobre.’ Ay, ang mga pobre ma’y magdistribute . Alang-alang mga drug lord na mga dato na man na. Pareha anang Mabilog. Eh ‘di tua sa Japan. Nisibat na to, pahayahay. (They’ll say, ‘Those are only the poor. But the poor are the ones who will distribute. It’s not the drug lords who will do that because they’re already very rich, just like Mabilog who has escaped to Japan and living luxuriously there’),” the President said.
Piad said resigning from office or fleeing was “out of the question” for Mabilog.
He said there was also no discussion on any plans of the mayor not to return to the country.
“It’s like throwing away all he has worked for to help Iloilo,” Piad said.
He said there was concern about Mabilog’s safety and security but he said the mayor “left his fate to God.”
Piad said he did not know where Marivic and her two children were, saying he last saw her on Aug. 31.
“She is a private individual and I respect their privacy. I only spoke with the mayor,” he said.
NBI agents visited the Mabilog residence on Aug. 31 as part of the lifestyle check ordered by the President on Mabilog.
A few days earlier, the President again accused Mabilog of being a “drug protector” and ordered the assignment of controversial police official Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City.
Mabilog has repeatedly denied the President’s allegations and has insisted that their house appears bigger than it really is. The couple has also stressed that the house was built on their joint earnings, especially that Marivic worked for more than 20 years in Canada, rising as vice president for a geodetic engineering firm.
Marivic Facebook post
Marivic posted a cryptic post on her Facebook account at 1:24 a.m. on Sept. 1, apparently in reaction to the events.
“This was the longest 32 hours. At first I said to myself that we don’t deserve this. All we really just wanted was to make Iloilo better and every Ilonggo proud of their own city. We gave our all and more.
“But looking back, recalling every second of the last thirty hours, I got to know real people at their very best. I got to realize that indeed, there are people in our circle willing to risk their lives, career, well-being and safety so that we get to live another day,” she said in her post.
She then thanked those who supported them.
“The last thirty hours was a journey of love, friendships and above all, citizenship. A (citizenship) to a world of true humanity. Good night and I thank God for those who are with us in this journey. Salut!” Marivic said.
On the evening of Sept. 1, police gunned down alleged Western Visayas drug lord Richard Prevendido in an operation at a house at Landheights Subdivision in Jaro District in this city.
In a press conference on Sept. 2 on the killing of Prevendido, the Western Visayas police also announced that Espenido’s assignment to Iloilo was canceled upon orders of the police national headquarters./ac


China aid sought on probe of P6.4-B shabu shipment

MANILA -- China must be willing to cooperate with the Philippines in investigating the P6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment from China that slipped through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), a senator said Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, made this remark blaming China for the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Philippines which has affected millions of poor Filipino families.
“China is ‘shabulizing’ the country,” Gordon told reporters in an interview after the fifth Senate probe into the illegal shipment.
In a previous Senate hearing, Richard Tan (AKA Richard Chan), Chinese owner of the warehouse where the shabu shipment was delivered, testified that he received a call from Xiamen Customs Police about the shipment from China to the Philippines last May 25.
“This is a hostile act -- sending drugs here. Sixty percent of the drugs coming here in the Philippines are coming from people of Chinese ancestry,” he added.
Gordon said that because the shabu problem allegedly started with China, China should be more than willing to step up and provide necessary legal assistance.
“This shabu problem begins with China and will end with China. That is what we must pursue because we have the evidence now,” Gordon said.
Gordon said that he has already requested Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to allow his committee to avail of a treaty between the Philippines and China -- the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters.
He said that the request for assistance will be coursed through the Department of Justice (DOJ) by Pimentel.
“The treaty provides, among others, “mutual assistance in investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses and in proceedings related to criminal matters,” Gordon said in his letter to Pimentel.
He explained that his committee wanted to avail of the treaty “to obtain relevant information and documents from Chinese authorities who investigated this shipment of illegal drugs to the Philippines.”
The senator said that he is meeting officials of the DOJ Tuesday afternoon to firm up the position on what the Philippine government needs from the Chinese government.
He said that if the Chinese government refused to help, then President Rodrigo Duterte “ought to review his friendship with China.”
Asked if he was expecting Xiamen Customs officials to attend the Senate probe into the illegal shipment, Gordon said that he was not counting on it but certainly needed their cooperation.
“I’m trying to make sure that we seriously handle this problem. They must know that we take great offense if they do not do anything about this problem,” Gordon said. -- PNA


Comelec chief vows to ‘conquer’ impeach rap

MANILA -- Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista believes that he can conquer the impeachment complaint filed at the House of Representatives last week.
Bautista said he had read the 23-page impeachment complaint lodged against him by former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras.
"Yes, I have read it already and it appears we can overcome it," said the poll body chief in an interview on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Bautista added that he continues to consult with his lawyers regarding the case.
Last week, the former legislator and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio filed an impeachment complaint against Bautista over the irregularities related to the 2016 national elections.
They also called out the poll body chief's ineptitude in addressing a hacking attack of the Comelec website and failure to truthfully disclose his net worth.
The case has already been transmitted to the office of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Meanwhile, Bautista and two poll body Commissioners, who were among the six top officials that asked the former to take a leave or resign last week, claimed that it was business as usual at the regular en banc meeting on Tuesday.
In separate interviews, Commissioners Luie Guia and Christian Lim said they were all professionals and were able to discuss matters during the meeting.
"They should not worry because the Comelec will do its function. We will be responsible. Everything that we are supposed to do, we are doing and we are preparing for the elections. We wil give the public the elections that they deserve," said Guia.
"It was strictly business. We wanted to finish those that are in the agenda of the en banc. Whatever issues we need to take up, we were able to," said Lim.
Aside from Guia and Lim, Comelec Commissioners Arthur Lim, Al Parreño, Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon and Sheriff Abas also urged Bautista to take a leave or resign in the midst of the allegations of hidden wealth hurled by his estranged wife Patricia Paz Bautista. -- PNA


Veteran journalist Joel Palacios among those killed in Pasay condo stabbing

MANILA – Veteran journalist Joel Palacios was among those killed in a stabbing incident in a Pasay City condominium on Tuesday night, August 29.
He was 70.
Palacios was part of the editorial desks of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, Today, and Manila Standard; and was a Philippine correspondent of the South China Morning Post and Reuters.
Palacios headed the press office of the US Embassy in Manila from 1992 to 1996, and served as Social Security System spokesman and assistant vice president for media affairs for 15 years, or until his retirement in 2012.
He taught journalism at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and was an associate dean of the College of Mass Communication of the Universidad de Manila. –

Duterte: Revolutionary gov't good for PH 'but I'm not into it'

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said it would take a revolutionary government for the Philippines to "really go up," but while he liked the idea, the Chief Executive claimed it won't happen under his watch.

"For the Philippines to really go up, sabi ko, ang kailangan ng mga tao is not martial law. Go for ginawa ni Cory – revolutionary government. Pero huwag kayong magtingin sa akin. Hindi ako puwede diyan," he said in a speech before new appointees in government on Tuesday, August 29.

(For the Philippines to really go up, I said, the people don't need martial law. Go for what Cory did – revolutionary government. But don't look at me. I can't be part of that.)

Speaking to his new appointees, Duterte also said, "I was not joking but I am not into it."

Then President Corazon Aquino established a revolutionary government following the ouster of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. She abolished the 1973 Constitution and promulgated the provisional Freedom Constitution pending the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

A revolutionary government allowed Aquino to declare all positions vacant and overhaul the bureaucracy.

Duterte said it would have been the "golden opportunity" for the Philippines, but Aquino's "mistake" was that "she returned it (government) to the politicians."

If he had any advice to give to another Philippine President, it would be to put up a revolutionary government.

"Me, my advice to a President who wants to change, do not go for martial law, people will make an issue out of it. Go for a revolutionary government, to finish everything," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

If Aquino can do it, so can this future president, Duterte added.

He had expressed support for a revolutionary government even before he declared his intention to run for the presidency.

In an interview with Rappler's Maria Ressa, Duterte even said he would be the one to establish a revolutionary government.

In December 2015, he said he would close down Congress and declare a revolutionary government if senators and congressmen decide not to approve his proposed budget unless he brings back the controversial pork barrel system.

In April, his supporters echoed his vision and urged him to declare a revolutionary government to fight illegal drugs. –


Atienza says Imelda told him they have 7,000 tons of gold bars

A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday said that former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos personally told him that her family possesses an estimated 7,000 tons' worth of gold bars.
Former Manila mayor and now BUHAY party-list Representative Lito Atienza disclosed the information following President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos expressed willingness to return part of the ill-gotten wealth they had amassed.
"When I was mayor, sinabi niya [Imelda] gusto kong ibalik 'yung gold dito, ibigay sa gobyerno para mapawi na lahat ng utang natin," he told reporters at a press conference.
"Sabi ko, why don't you do it? Sabi niya humahadlang ang isang superpower, hindi naman maigalaw ang gold. Nakadeposito sa maraming lugar sa buong mundo," he added.
Atienza said Marcos told him that the gold bars weighed 7,000 tons.
"Ilan ba ang estimate niyo sa gold na 'yan? Sabi niya ay 7,000 tons," he said.
"Seven thousand tons? Sana this time, makuha niya yung inaalok ni Mrs. Marcos nun. Kapag inaalok ngayon, ay mapakinabangan naman ng bansa ito," he added.
Atienza suggested the country not dwell on the issue anymore and just focus on retrieving the ill-gotten wealth.
"Kunin na lang natin 'yung ginto at magamit ng Pilipinas dahil you can even imagine the value of those gold bars which they claim they have," he said.
"I announced it in light of all these developments, and we wish President Duterte all the best. Sayang naman ang perang 'yan. Thirty-one years have passed and wala man lang na-prosecute," he added.
On Tuesday, Duterte said the Marcoses are willing to "open everything" and "probably return" the wealth that can be found.
“Sabi nila, isauli nila para walang ano—and the only reason, sabi nila, was the father was just protecting the economy for the [eventuality] na umalis siya. He thought of regaining the Malacañang, that is why ganito ang lumabas na parang naitago,” he added.
During his two-decade rule that started in 1965, former President Marcos managed to illegally amass an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion from government coffers. His family stashed them away in secret local and offshore accounts, or hid them through dummy foundations as well as cronies. –GMA


Trillanes urges colleagues: Join calls to set De Lima free

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday urged his colleagues to “right the wrong” committed by the Duterte administration against Senator Leila de Lima by calling for her release from detention.
In a privilege speech, Trillanes said De Lima’s continued detention over drug-related charges is a “clear case of political persecution.”
“Gaya nating lahat, hindi perpekto si Sen. De Lima pero alam natin, deep in our hearts, na hindi siya involved sa illegal drugs at lalo nang hindi siya drug queen. Hindi po siya criminal para tratuhin na parang isang criminal,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes said the Senate should express the same outrage it did in the case of Superintendent Marvin Marcos, who was able to walk out of detention after the criminal charges against him and the other policemen were downgraded. He also called on the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson to conduct an inquiry on the allegations of drug lords against De Lima.
Trillanes said summoning drug personalities to a Senate probe is necessary to prove that the Duterte administration coerced them to concoct stories against a political opponent.
The European Union, Inter-Parliamentary Union, and International Commission Jurists, have separately called for De Lima’s release. The groups include the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), United Kingdom; Asia Catalyst, New York, USA; the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS, Thailand; Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ANPUD), Thailand; and International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), United Kingdom. —GMA News


Faeldon dares Lacson: Sue me

MANILA -- Former Bureau of Customs (BOC)Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon challenged Senator Panfilo Lacson to file cases against him and other personnel who the latter tagged as involved incorruption.
At the agency's flag raising ceremony on August29, Tuesday, the outgoing Customs chief noted that the lawmaker should prove his claims by filing cases against them.
"So I challenge you again to file cases against all those you have named involved in corruption. If you cannot file a case against us, that is such an idiotic move of yours. You should have asked your lawyers, you should have asked your conscience if it is appropriate for you to hide behind the cloak of your immunity. To malign, to destroy, further destroy this institution. Most importantly, ano ba tingin mo sa amin dito, hayop kami? (What do you take us for? You think we're animals?) Mga pinangalan mo (Those you have named), do you have an iota of evidence, how about our families you have destroyed?" he said.
Faeldon added, "Sen. Lacson, you have to file cases against me and the rest you have accused. Bring us to justice. And again I am challenging the constitutionality of your immunity. All of you congressmen, senators. Effective today I will challenge your authority, or your immunity to malign people."
With this, he reminded his accusers regarding provisions of the bill of rights.
"The bill of rights guarantees the presumption of innocence of the accused. Pero kung magsalita kayo dyan,(inakusahan) nyo na kami (at hinusgahan). (But in your words, you have accused and already judged us). Is it not a violation of the Constitution thatis supposed to protect your immunity. Effective today, I will challenge the propriety of your action, I will challenge that immunity, the definition of your immunity. How many more innocent families will you be destroying in aid of your grandstanding," added Faeldon, whose resignation was accepted byPresident Rodrigo Duterte last week.
Meanwhile, the outgoing BOC chief expressed gratitude to employees for supporting the reforms he introduced to make the agency more viable and productive.
"I would like to thank everyone. Yes the reforms are very painful. I have been very blunt because that is what I am. Ido not backbite you, kung meron ako gusto sabihin sa 'yo, I tell it right to your face. I don’t take it personally, but that is how serious I am in trying to attain all our dreams in reforming this bureau," he said.
Faeldon added, "But in spite of that I have seen the eagerness, the promptness, the willingness, the enthusiasm of everyone to carry the cudgels of reform the President all want us to be. Nakita ko sa inyo. So from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all of you."
He also reiterated his call to the employees to support his successor in the bureau.
Last week, President Duterte officially announced that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Dir. Gen. Isidro Lapeña will replace Faeldon as the new BOC chief. -- PNA

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