Apr 202014
While the approval and trust ratings of President Benigno Aquino III dipped, that of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Franklin Drilon went up, a recent survey by Pulse Asia showed.

In a media release Monday, Pulse Asia said Binay and Drilon experienced gains in their national approval ratings and overall trust ratings.

A survey conducted from March 19-26, 2014 showed Binay’s approval rating went up by seven percentage points from 80 percent in December to 87 percent in March while his trust rating went up by nine percentage points from 77 percent in December to 86 percent in March.

On the other hand, after a big dip in his ratings last year, Senate President Franklin Drilon came back with a 15-percentage-point increase in both his approval and trust ratings.

Drilon’s approval rating went up from 43 percent in December to 58 percent in March while his trust rating rose from 40 percent in December to 55 percent in March.

In September last year, Drilon’s ratings were pulled down by the pork barrel scam which hounded the Senate.

Drilon was dragged into the controversy after he admitted meeting businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the scam, at a party. He denied having any transactions with her.

His approval rating further went down to 43 percent in December from September’s 50 percent, while his trust ratings plunged from 46 percent in September to 40 percent in December.

President Aquino’s ratings

Survey results released earlier this month showed a slight dip in the President’s ratings despite high-profile arrests and the conclusion of a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Pulse Asia said there is nothing wrong with the decline in the President’s approval and trust ratings as it is still within the ± 3 percent error margin.

“Filipinos’ views regarding presidential performance and trustworthiness remain constant during the period December 2013 to March 2014,” it said.

“The movements in President Aquino’s ratings at the national level and across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings are not considered significant as they fall within the relevant error margins,” it added.

In the December survey of Pulse Asia, the President ‘s approval rating went down from 79 percent in September to 73 percent in December, while his trust rating plunged from 76 percent in September to 74 percent in December

Binay, on the other hand, got an approval rating of 80 percent in December, which was up three notches from 77 percent in September. His trust rating also went up to 77 percent in December from 74 percent in September.

Belmonte, Sereno

The approval and trust ratings of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno went down in March.

“Approval for and trust in House Speaker Belmonte ease during this period (both at -7 percentage points),” Pulse Asia said.

Sereno got 40 percent approval rating in March which is four percentage points down from December and a 36 percent trust rating in March which is five percentage points down from December.

In March 2014, only the Supreme Court succeeded in scoring a majority approval rating with 53 percent or one percentage point up from December, while the Senate and House got 41 percent and 38 percent, respectively, or four percentage points down from December.

A total of 1,200 adults were interviewed all over the country for the survey.

Among the local and international developments in March were the investigation on the pork barrel scam, the arrest of Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee, the power crisis in Mindanao, the conclusion of the peace negotiations between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the arrest of two key leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Amita O. Legaspi/KG, GMA News

Apr 202014
Miriam wants Senate ‘pork’ probe to continue for Gigi Reyes testimony

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday asked the Senate blue ribbon committee to continue its probe on the alleged pork barrel scam to hear the testimony of Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, former chief of staff of Senate now Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile. In a letter, Santiago asked Senate blue ribbon chairman Teofisto Guingona III to invite or even summon Reyes, who returned to the Philippines from the United States last Saturday.  Santiago added that the Senate committee can still continue its probe on the alleged anomaly, although Guingona already released a draft panel report recommending plunder charges against certain personalities, including Enrile and Reyes, earlier this month.  “I believe that the testimony of Atty. Reyes would serve to round off and clarify certain aspects of the partial report, and that the committee findings could be the proper subject of an addendum or similar subsequent report on Atty. Reyes’s testimony,” Santiago said in her letter. GMA News Online sent a text message to Guingona to ask for his reaction to Santiago’s letter, but he has yet to respond as of posting time. Last April 1, the Office of the Ombudsman also recommended plunder charges against Enrile and Reyes for allegedly pocketing pork barrel funds from a scam supposedly engineered by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. Reyes is being accused of receiving pork barrel kickbacks for Enrile, and signing documents for the release of these discretionary funds on the senators’ behalf. She has denied these accusations in documents submitted to the Ombudsman. Also Read More …

Apr 182014
Jinggoy lawyers not allowed access to other ‘pork’ respondents’ affidavits

The Office of the Ombudsman has denied the camp of Senator Jinggoy Estrada access to the affidavits of other respondents in the plunder complaint filed against him in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam. In a text message on Friday, lawyer Alexis Abastillas, Estrada’s legal spokesman, confirmed that the Ombudsman denied their request to be “furnished a copy of the affidavits of new witnesses, whose testimonies were used” in the resolution recommending plunder charges against the senator. “We have received it. It’s a real denial of due process,” Abastillas accused. He added that their camp has already appealed this decision, through the motion of reconsideration they filed last April 7. Last month, Estrada’s lawyers asked the Ombudsman for copies of sworn affidavits of government witnesses Ruby Tuason and Dennis Cunanan. On April 1, the Office of the Ombudsman announced that it has decided to charge Senators Estrada, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile with plunder for allegedly pocketing millions in their pork barrel funds through a scam supposedly engineered by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. Both Estrada and Revilla have already filed their respective motion seeking the dismissal of the plunder charges against them, claiming the accusations have no basis. On the other hand, Enrile had not given any statements to the media since the release of the Ombudsman’s recommendation.  –– KBK, GMA News

Apr 162014
No schedule yet for Napoles’ surgery, lawyer says

More than two weeks after alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles was brought to Ospital ng Makati, there is still no definite date yet when she will undergo surgery for her cyst in the uterus. Lawyer Bruce Rivera, Napoles’ counsel, said the doctors have yet to discuss with the patient the result of the biopsy conducted on her last April 8. The result was supposed to be released three days after the procedure was done. “No date (on the surgery) as of yet. Mayroon na raw na resulta pero hindi pa alam ni Mrs. Napoles, hindi pa siya nakakausap ng duktor. Yung mga duktor hindi pa pwedeng magsalita hanggang hindi pa nila nakakausap si Mrs. Napoles. After Holy Week na siguro magkakaroon ng conference on that,” Rivera said in a phone interview with GMA News Online. Napoles, according to doctors, has myoma uteri. She has complained of profuse vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain since late last year. Dr. Perry Ishmael Peralta, Ospital ng Makati medical director, earlier said the result of the endometrial biopsy would show if the cyst is benign or malignant. The next procedure to be done on Napoles will depend on the result of the biopsy. “Malalaman yung extent ng surgery based on the result of the biopsy. More extensive ang gagawin kung lumabas na cancerous yung cyst,” he told reporters earlier. Napoles has been confined at Ospital ng Makati since March 31 after the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 granted her appeal to Read More …

Apr 082014
Napoles ready for biopsy – doctors

A doctor checks the condition of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame on Wednesday, February 26. Napoles, alleged mastermind in the P10-B pork barrel scam, has been diagnosed to have ovarian cyst.(MNS photo) MANILA (Mabuhay) – Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is now ready to undergo biopsy to determine if the cyst in her uterus is malignant or benign, doctors said Monday. Dr. Florentina Villanueva, head of Ospital ng Makati OB-Gyn department, said the endocrinologist has already cleared Napoles for the procedure. “We were able to manage the blood sugar over the weekend. She has been cleared by the endocrinologist and the OB-Gyn team is ready to do the procedure,” she said at a press briefing. Villanueva said they are just waiting for Napoles to give her consent for the procedure. Once Napoles gives her consent, it would take six hours to prepare her for the actual procedure, Dr. Perry Peralta, Ospital ng Makati medical director, said at the same briefing. Villanueva said the procedure is called endometrial biopsy where a tissue will be taken from Napoles’ uterus, particularly in her endometrium. The result of the biopsy will be known in three days. It will depend on the result of the biopsy what other procedures will be conducted on Napoles. Villanueva said the biopsy will be performed by Napoles’ doctors, but she will be there inside the operating room to monitor the proceedings. (MNS)

Apr 072014
De Lima: 3rd batch of pork scam cases ready

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, poses questions to Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind during the hearing on Thursday (Nov. 7, 2013) at the Senate building in Pasay City. (MNS photo) MANILA (Mabuhay) — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is ready to file two new sets of pork barrel scam complaints, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. De Lima said it now only a matter of deciding which one to file first. One of these cases is related to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, or the so-called 3rd batch, she said. She said alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, lawmakers and implementing agencies will be included as respondents. She said new personalities will also be included. De Lima, however, refused to identify them nor say how many will be included in the new set of cases. She also refused to confirm if Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. will also be charged in the 3rd batch. The pork barrel scam involved the funneling of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to ghost projects of non-government organizations (NGOs) set up by Napoles. The lawmakers, in return, allegedly received huge kickbacks from the businesswoman. Meanwhile, de Lima said said she is not at liberty to disclose the strategy of the AMLC as far as the freezing of assets of senators accused of plunder and graft are concerned, but told reporters, “suffice it to tell you that AMLC is working on these.” De Read More …

Apr 072014
Jinggoy to appeal Ombudsman’s decision on plunder raps over ‘pork’ scam

Senator Jinggoy Estrada shows some documents during his privilege speech on the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) issue at the Senate on Wednesday (March 12, 2014). (MNS photo) MANILA (Mabuhay) – Although he called the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation as “moro-moro,” Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday said he will appeal the decision to file plunder charges against him over the alleged pork barrel scam. Estrada said his camp will file a motion for reconsideration before the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday next week, although he is pessimistic about this move. “Maghahain na po kami sa darating na Lunes sapagkat natanggap na po ng aking abogado ang joint resolution na nanggaling po sa Ombudsman. Siyempre ine-expect ko na ibabasura nila iyon. Pero siyempre, we will exert all legal remedies,” the senator said. On Tuesday, the Office of the Ombudsman announced that it has decided to charge Senators Estrada, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile with plunder over the pork barrel scam. The three senators are being accused of pocketing the kickbacks from the alleged scam, supposedly engineered by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. They have earlier denied these allegations. Estrada added that even before the recommendations were made, he did not fully trust the Ombudsman’s deliberations on the plunder charge. “Alam naman namin na moro-moro na lang iyan. Kaya ito na nga ang nangyari. Mukha talagang [minadali] ang kaso laban sa amin. It took them only six months to read voluminous documents,” he said. Revilla’s camp had also earlier Read More …

Apr 052014
DOJ supports AMLC bid to freeze assets of senators in 'pork' scam

The Department of Justice fully supports the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s (AMLC’s) bid to have a freeze order issued on the bank accounts and properties of the three senators implicated in the alleged pork barrel scam. According to a Friday report on GMA 7’s Saksi, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the council had started working on freezing the assets of the implicated lawmakers — Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada. “It is public funds, kaban ng bayan iyan, coffers ‘yan, national treasury ‘yan. So in the end, dapat i-recover ‘yan. That is part of the integral process of exacting justice in anti-corruption cases such as this — lalo na’t plunder,” De Lima added. Meanwhile, a source told GMA News that the AMLC has requested documents from the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation to support the asset preservation order to be filed against the three senators. Last year, the DOJ filed plunder charges against Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla, as well as other former lawmakers for allegedly receiving kickbacks from so-called pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim Napoles, in an elaborate scheme to funnel their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into ghost projects and NGOs. On Tuesday, the Office of the Ombudsman announced the indictment of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla for plunder, along with Napoles, over the P10-billion pork barrel scam. The Ombudsman has yet to resolve two other batches of government fund-related complaints filed last year by the DOJ and the NBI. One batch is connected Read More …

Mar 282014
Pork barrel cases to be resolved ‘sooner than you think’ – Ombudsman

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Friday hinted that her office was on the verge of taking action on the pork barrel fund scam cases filed with them by the Department of Justice six months earlier. In its filing, the DOJ accused 38 former and incumbent government officials and lawmakers of plunder, malversation and corruption of public officials. “Rest assured, you will get your resolution [in the pork barrel case] sooner than you think,” Morales said in a report aired Friday on GMA 7’s “24 Oras”. Morales, who was in Davao for the inauguration of the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, had wanted the pork scam cases resolved earlier. However, legal processes had to be followed. “If we resolve the case in the immediate future, I’m not going to tell you how immediate is immediate, then we will let the five-day period to file a motion reconsideration (MR) pass. In the event that we find probable cause, when the MR is filed, we will resolve it ASAP,” Morales said. Among the respondents in the pork scam cases are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. as well as alleged pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles. Just last week, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago called on the Office of the Ombudsman to at least file charges against the more prominent and high-ranking officials implicated in pork barrel cases. Santiago worried that the public would lose interest on the matter if the investigation dragged on for too long. Morales, however, pointed out that it Read More …

Mar 212014
Napoles back in Laguna detention after checkup due to abdominal pain

Alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles was brought back to her detention cell at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna after attending a court hearing and undergoing a checkup at Ospital ng Makati due to abdominal pain. A staff of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 said Napoles left OsMak past 3 in the afternoon. “Pinaverify ni Judge (Elmo Alameda), kaaalis lang daw sa OsMak ni Napoles mga 15 minutes ago,” a staff told GMA News Online over the phone. Napoles was brought to the hospital around noon after attending the hearing on her motion to undergo medical surgery and confinement at St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global.   During the hearing, Napoles personally appealed to the court to allow her to have an operation in a hospital of her choice with a doctor also of her choice. But Judge Alameda said Napoles should remember that she cannot exercise her civil and political rights in full because she is a detained person. The court is expected to issue its resolution on the motion next week and if granted, the surgery will most likely be conducted at Ospital ng Makati. Napoles is currently detained in Laguna for a serious illegal detention case. She is also facing plunder charges at the Ombudsman for allegedly masterminding a P10-billion pork barrel scam. Through her non-government organizations, Napoles is accused of funneling lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund, commonly known as pork barrel, to ghost projects. — RSJ, GMA News