Apr 162014
President Benigno Aquino III will spend the Holy Week holidays in “resorts.”

“Iyong dating gawi, either sa Times Mountain Resort sa Quezon City o kaya naman sa Pangarap River Resort, doon tayo maglalagi,” Aquino told reporters Wednesday when asked on where he would spend the Holy Week.

The “resorts,” however, are only references to his family’s home on Times Street in Quezon City and his official residence Bahay Pangarap.

On a serious note, Aquino, a bachelor, said he will be with his sisters for Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday and for Mass on Easter Sunday.

Aquino, meanwhile, reminded Filipinos to do good even after the Holy Week is over.

“Huwag po sana nating kalimutan: ang pagpapakumbaba, pagmamalakasakit, at paggawa ng matuwid ay hindi lamang para sa mahal na araw. Ang ginagawa nating pagninilay at panalangin ay paghahanda lamang para sa isang buong buhay ng pagsunod sa halimbawa ni Kristo,” he said in his Lenten message.

He also reiterated the Palace’s earlier call for Filipinos to make sacrifices just as Jesus Christ did.

“Tiyak naman pong lahat ng ating pinaghirapan ay may positibong ambag para sa ikabubuti  ng mas nakakarami. At di po ba, napakaliit lamang ng hinihingi sa atin kumpara sa ibinigay ni Hesukristo?” The President said.

“Magsilbi po sanang inspirasyon sa atin ang ipinamalas na pagmamahal ni Hesukristo. Ito ang gabay natin ngayon bilang mga Kristiyano sa pagharap sa sarili nating mga sangandaan at sa pagsisilbing tanglaw sa mga Kristiyano ng kinabukasan,” he added. — KBK, GMA News

Apr 162014
SC junks Syjuco plea vs. President authority over Deputy Ombudsman

The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. seeking to strip off the President with authority to discipline the Deputy Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor. In a five-page notice of resolution, the SC said Syjuco failed to prove that he would suffer great injustice and injury with the supposed “interference” of the executive department with the Office of the Ombudsman. “His allegation… is unsubstantiated and is without any leg to stand on,” the high court said. “We rule that petitioner failed to demonstrate adequate interest in the outcome of the controversy as to vest him with the requisite locus standi.” In his petition, Syjuco argued that he has “locus standi” or legal standing on the matter because he stands to be affected by the “continued interference” of the Office of the President with the Office of the Ombudsman, before which he has pending cases. The SC had already struck down as unconstitutional Section 8 (2) of Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of  1989, which gave the President the authority to discipline both the Deputy Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor. The high court ultimately ruled that the President can only discipline only the special prosecutor, and not the deputy ombudsman. According to the court, locus standi has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in a case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The high Read More …

Apr 092014
FDA warns public vs. unregistered bottled water

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public against cheap and unregistered bottled water being sold mostly to commuters stuck in traffic. A report on “24 Oras” on Wednesday said some bottled water that didn’t pass the FDA are being sold on the streets and on sidewalks at relatively cheaper prices. “Dito natin malaman sa likod [ng plastic container] kung ang isang produkto ay rehistrado,” said FDA spokesperson Joyce Cirunay in the report. “Mayroon siyang registration number.” The report said a registration number means the product — both the water and plastic container — passed FDA standards. Cirunay asked the consumers to inspect the packaging of the product to determine if they are “fake.” “Sa isang mapanuring mamimili, tignan yung cover. Kung ni-refill lang, tignan nila kung talagang unbroken yung seal. Inspekin nila kung yung integridad ng packaging material ay nandoon pa. Tignan din kung merong mga lumulutang,” she said. The report said refilling stations, although regulated by local government units, are not allowed to sell bottled mineral water. “They are just there to refill,” Cirunay said. “May certain specifications na sinusunod sila according to the requirements of the refilling station.” — KBK, GMA News

Mar 312014
Draft Bangsamoro law to be submitted by April or May –Jaafar

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission has missed its self-imposed deadline to submit the draft law that will embody the recently signed peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Instead of March 31, the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law will be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III by April or May, MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar told GMA News on Monday. “Yung ibinigay na deadline, hindi kaya. Pero palagay ko kaya nila next month April, within April at palagay ko by May andyan na yan sa Palasyo, kay Pangulong Aquino,” Jaafar said. He said it will depend on Aquino when he will forward the draft law to Congress for approval. The President, who witnessed the historic signing of the peace deal Thursday last week, is expected to certify the measure as urgent. Once enacted, the Basic Law will be subjected to a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro territory. Once it is ratified, an enhanced Bangsamoro autonomous region will be established, replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Jaafar said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is working hard to finish the draft. The commission has 15 members, eight from MILF and seven from the government. “Tuloy tuloy, continuous. As a matter of fact, nago-overtime sila,” he said. Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator and head of the Transition Commission, said they are in the process of polishing the first draft that still “needs to undergo several processes especially in relation to hard issues.” “The Transition Commission is made up Read More …

Mar 202014
CA upholds Devanadera's misconduct conviction, orders her to pay P760,000

The Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of former Justice secretary Agnes Devanadera of misconduct in connection with the attorney’s fees she received from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in 2007. In a 23-page decision, the CA’s Sixth Division “partially granted” a March 4, 2010 decision and a February 10, 2012 review by the Office of the Ombudsman finding Devanadera guilty of simple misconduct, simple neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of duty. The CA, in its ruling penned by Associate Justice Romeo Barza, affirmed the Ombudsman rulings but said they were “subject to modifications.” Among the modifications was the penalty imposed on Devanadera, who, aside from being a former Justice secretary, also served as Solicitor General during the Arroyo administration. “In lieu of the penalty of one year without pay, she is ordered to pay a fine equivalent to her salary as government corporate counsel for six months,” the CA said. The CA also ordered Devanadera to “restitute to the Office of Government Corporate Council trust liability account” an amount of P760,000. The Ombudsman had convicted Devanadera and her former head executive assistant Rolando Faller in connection with an agreement with the GSIS to handle the extrajudicial foreclosure of delinquent real estate loans in 2007. In exchange, the Chief Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) would get special assessment fees for its help. The two officials allegedly received various amounts from the special assessment fee that the GSIS had put up, including P500,000 for Devanadera Read More …

Feb 202014
Senators push for bills to counteract SC ruling on online libel

Senators on Thursday pushed for bills meant to counteract the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the online libel provision in the anti-cybercrime law. Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Teofisto Guingona III separately called for immediate action on measures they filed seeking to decriminalize libel. Cayetano, author of Senate Bill 245, said the SC ruling on online libel will just further clog the country’s courts. “Kung magkakasuhan tayong lahat, mapupuno ang mga korte. Walang mangyayari kung hindi ang mga piskalya, walang ibang gagawin kung hindi mag-prosecute ng Internet and social media libel cases,” Cayetano said in a statement. Guingona, who filed Senate Bill 2128, meanwhile said the Philippines, as a democratic country, should promote freedom of expression and not dangle the “threat of jail” to those who want to speak out through any medium. “We must not forget how hard we fought for the democracy that we now enjoy, and that includes our freedom to speak against erring public officials. It is counter intuitive therefore for us to have come this far and yet have the cloud of possible imprisonment impinge on the liberties that the very democracy we have fought for seeks to protect,” Guingona said in a separate statement. On Tuesday, the high court declared the online libel provision in the cybercrime prevention law as constitutional, “with respect to the original author of the post.” The court, however, struck down the provision that empowers the Department of Justice (DOJ) to restrict or block access to data violating the law. Read More …

Feb 102014
Enrile: Gigi Reyes not authorized to discuss ‘pork’ with Ruby Tuason

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday denied authorizing his former chief-of-staff, Jessica “Gigi” Gonzales Reyes, to discuss pork barrel transactions with potential state witness Ruby Tuason on his behalf. In an interview, Enrile maintained that he never received government funds from Tuason through Reyes. “Pork barrel funds? Walang ibinibigay sa akin na pork barrel funds. Kickback? I don’t know. I do not live with Mrs Reyes. I do not live in her house,” the senator told reporters. He added that he is confident Reyes will not further implicate him in the alleged anomaly. He said as far as he knows, his former chief-of-staff never received kickbacks from pork barrel transactions. “What will she [Reyes] say? I have faith in her honesty and integrity… There has never been any occasion when she violated that degree of rectitude expected of a public servant,” Enrile said. Ruby Tuason Last Friday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that Tuason, through an affidavit, admitted to personally delivering pork barrel kickbacks to Enrile, through Reyes, and to Senator Jinggoy Estrada. De Lima also said that Tuason even recalled an incident when Enrile dropped by at a coffee meeting between her and Reyes. Reyes resigned last January as Enrile’s chief-of-staff at the height of accusations that she had power over Senate matters and authority to sign on behalf of her boss. She left the country last August at the height of the pork barrel scandal. Last September, Reyes posted a statement on her Facebook page Read More …

Jan 312014
Gloria Arroyo eats tikoy, prays with nuns on Chinese New Year

Even while in hospital detention, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got to celebrate Chinese New Year with an afternoon of tikoy (glutinous rice cake) and pancit shared with several Roman Catholic nuns. In a phone interview, Arroyo’s legal spokesman, lawyer Raul Lambino, said 12 nuns from Bulacan visited the detained former President at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) on Friday afternoon. Arroyo and the nuns talked about her “faith” and “pro-life stance” while eating Chinese delicacies, Lambino said. “Alam niyo namang Assumptionista rin si former President. Laking kumbento kaya maraming napag-usapan. Napagkwentuhan ang kanyang student life,” Lambino, who was present during the nuns’ visit, said over the phone. The nuns prayed for Arroyo’s well-being and immediate recovery before leaving the hospital, he added. The nuns were not the first religious workers to visit Arroyo this week. Last Sunday, five Catholic bishops also paid visit to the former President. Last week, former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos also spent time with Arroyo at the VMMC. Earlier this month, Arroyo was also visited by former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel V. Ramos, fuelling talks that they are forming an alliance in preparation for the 2016 national polls. Asked if Arroyo will host more high-profile personalities from her hospital suite in the coming weeks, Lambino said, “Medyo ganoon,” but refused to elaborate. Arroyo, incumbent congresswoman of Pampanga’s second district, is currently detaine while facing the plunder case. She also has a pending poll sabotage case before a Pasay court, Read More …

Jan 312014
Claims board for Marcos-era human rights victims to get to work in next 2 months

Almost a year after the law offering reparation to victims of human rights violations under Martial Law was enacted, the board tasked to process claims for compensation will finally get to work, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Etta Rosales said Friday. At a press briefing, Rosales said President Benigno Aquino III has already chosen nine appointees to the board, but refused to identify them pending official announcement from Malacañang. “Meron na siyang listahan. Nakita ko na iyon. Basta ang listahan na iyan, ilalabas na. Malapit na,” she told reporters. Rosales, however, admitted that she had to repeatedly remind the President to already form the compensation board for human rights victims during the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos. “Siguro very busy naman siya, pero alam mo when I actually texted him, he responded right away. Ibig sabihin, nawawala sa isip niya dahil ang dami-dami niyang problema. You really have to remind him,” she said. In February last year, Aquino signed Republic Act 10368, which seeks to distribute P10 billion in funds from the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses to Martial Law human rights victims. The law requires the President to form a panel to process claims of the human rights victims, but Aquino has not done so until now. The compensation board, which will be attached to the CHR, is tasked to receive, evaluate, processe and investigate applications for claims. Draft, database Rosales further said that she expects the claims board to come up with the implementing rules and Read More …

Jan 032014
Public fiscals laud SC for extending modified Judicial Affidavit Rule

A group of government prosecutors on Friday lauded the Supreme Court for dispaying “sensitivity” when it extended for another year the modified version of the Judicial Affidavit Rule (JAR). Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, head of the National Prosecution Service (NPS), told GMA News Online that he and other public prosecutors welcomed the recent resolution that extended the modified JAR until December 31 this year. “In behalf of the prosecutors, I welcome the SC’s resolution as a manifestation of the Court’s sensitivity to the concerns of the stakeholders of the justice system of which the prosecution is a vital component,” said Arellano. Under the JAR, parties are required to prepare judicial affidavits in place of the traditional and usually lengthy direct testimony in order to expedite the presentation of evidence. Judicial affidavits are sworn statements containing the witness’ testimony in question-and-answer form. Following the rule’s approval in 2012, the NPS complained that its prosecutors might not yet be ready to comply with the JAR as it would mean additional work for them on top of their already heavy workload. In response, the high court issued a modified JAR, in which public prosecutors are allowed to use sworn statements that had been used during preliminary investigation or inquest in place of new judicial affidavits. The modified version was only supposed to have been in effect until last December 31, 2013, until the high court extended it for the entire 2014. The NPS is under the Department of Justice. Asked if he thinks Read More …