Apr 082014
Senate Minority leader Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the accused in the so-called pork barrel scam, stresses a point in interpellating Senator Koko Pimentel III, sponsor of the Sandigan Bill, who sought the support of his colleagues for the passage of the measure, seeking to improve the disposition of cases in the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday (March 5) at the Session Hall, Senate Bldg in Pasay City. (MNS photo)

Senate Minority leader Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the accused in the so-called pork barrel scam, stresses a point in interpellating Senator Koko Pimentel III, sponsor of the Sandigan Bill, who sought the support of his colleagues for the passage of the measure, seeking to improve the disposition of cases in the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday (March 5) at the Session Hall, Senate Bldg in Pasay City. (MNS photo)

Los Angeles – “The wheels of justice grinds slow. But justice will be served in the end.

At the end of animated debate over the recent filing of charges by the Ombudsman against three PH Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla for plunder and 50 other subulterns including provisional witnesses, Filipino –American leaders at Talakayan sa FACLA last Thursday, April 03,  were united that justice will be finally  served in the Philippines.

FACLA Director Atty. Ben Basilio said, “ Now that the case is filed in the Sandiganbayan, it means that the Aquino III administration is really serious in pursuing the case against three accused senators.

They can file their motion for re-considerations but it’s up for the court to dismiss the case or pursue the case and order their arrest.”

Justice Will Be Served

Larry Pelayo also said, “he doubts if the three senators will heed the call of of the public to resign. They continue their fanatic defense that they are innocent of the charges and even some of them (Estrada and Revilla) went abroad.”

Sid Balatan, an online journalist  noted that, “ it will be a long wait because it take at least 60 days until the Sandiganbayan raffle the case and designate what division will try the case.

We must understand that like the Estrada plunder case, it will be a long trial and decision before justice is served.’

Dr. Marc Caratao explained, “that is great difference with the system of justice in the United States and the Philippines.

He was seconded by Dr. Orly Cagampan  and Rudy Ferran who said “It’s a long process because they will appeal the case up to the Supreme Court and they will try to prolong the process until another administration takes over. ”

On the Comprehensive Bangsa Moro Agreement (CBA)

There was also an interesting discussion on the Comprehensive  Bangsa Moro Agreement  (CBA)that the GPH and the MILF signed last March 27 in Manila.

FACLA President Austin Baul Jr expressed some questions on the implementation of the CBA.

He said, “ the CBA will still has to have an enabling law that will be passed in the Congress and must be approved in a plebiscite in 2016.”

Businessman Freddie Castaneda on the other hand agree with the CBA saying, “Now Mindanao will receive the benefits it deserves with the 50/50 sharing agreement with the national government and the Bangsa Moro Substate.

For too  long, Luzon and the Visayas were the main beneficiary of government resources, now Mindanao will get what it deserves.”

There was also discussion on the Leeland Yee case and the MILF but the group decided to invite a resource speaker on the Bangsa Moro Agreement for the next TALAKAYAn session on April 10.

For more information please call (213) 484-1527 or email at newfacla@yahoo.com.

Mar 232014
Jinggoy to Ombudsman: Don't give in to pressure, publicity in ‘pork’ probe

Senator Jinggoy Estrada said Sunday that he hopes the Office of the Ombudsman will not be swayed by pressure and publicity in its investigation into the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam. In a statement released Sunday, Estrada said he–and fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla Jr.–”were continuously crucified and demonized in various forums: mass media, cyberspace, including the Senate blue ribbon committee.”  Witnesses have linked him to the scam. Ruby Tuason, who used to work for former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and former senator Loi Estrada, testified in February that she delivered bags of money to Senator Estrada’s office.  Earlier this month, Technology Research Center director general Dennis Cunanan said Estrada and Revilla chose the allegedly bogus NGOs that received their PDAF allocations. Cunanan is on leave from the TRC and, like Tuason, faces plunder complaints over the scam. Tremendous pressure, unfair publicity “I wish that the Ombudsman will not give in to the tremendous pressure and unfair publicity generated by this controversy with extreme prejudice against me and my two colleagues,” he said. “I also hope that she will not be rushed into making decisions and that she observes the proper legal processes, including the rights of the respondents during preliminary investigation,” Estrada added. He added his counter-affidavit to a plunder complaint filed against him in September should show Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that “truly there is no plunder case or any case to speak of.”  Estrada, who has denied involvement in a supposed scam that allegedly diverted PDAF Read More …

Mar 062014
Despite inconsistencies, Cunanan's testimony has weight – lawyer

Cunanan denies involvement in pork barrel scam. On-leave Technology Resource Center Director-General Dennis Cunanan told the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday, March 6, that he never received any kickbacks from the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam. “Kung meron man ako, bakit hindi ko aaminin? Lalo na sa sitwasyon ngayon,” a teary-eyed Cunanan said. Benjie Castro Despite his denial that he received kickbacks from the multi-billion-peso pork barrel fund scam, the testimony of on-leave Technology Resource Center director general Dennis Cunanan was strong enough to prove the guilt of the senators implicated in the anomaly, one of his lawyers said. “In fact, meron siyang mga naipakitang dokumento na nagpapatunay na yung mga senador mismo ang nage-endorso. Sa mga endorsement letter na yun, nakapangalan na dun, nakasaad na kung anong mga foundations at NGOs (non-government organizations) ang papupuntahan ng kanilang PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund),” lawyer Odessa Bernardo said in a phone patch interview with Jiggy Manicad aired on GMA News’ “Quick Response Team (QRT), Thursday afternoon.  Cunanan, the new provisional state witness in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, appeared for the first time at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the anomaly, Thursday. During the hearing, he submitted copies of the endorsement letters, which allegedly came from the offices of Senators Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. In the supposed letters, the the three senators listed the bogus NGOs of detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as beneficiaries. Cunanan even pointed out during his testimony that Read More …

Mar 022014
Filing charges over ‘pork’ scam up to DOJ, not Malacañang – Coloma

Malacañang said Sunday that filing charges over the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund is up to the Department of Justice. “Wala po sa hurisdiksyon ng Malacanang ang pag-aaral ng mga kaso o mga usapin hinggil diyan,” Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over government radio on Sunday.  “Simula sapul, malinaw po ang batayang prinsipyo ng ating Pangulo at pamahalaan. Kinakailangang hayaan yung ebidensya na magturo kung saan patungo yung imbestigasyon,” he added. The statement came after Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, said said Saturday that the investigation into the so-called pork barrel scam seemed to be aimed only at members of the opposition. The opposition stalwart on Saturday said the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation have yet to file charges against administration allies named in a Commission on Audit report on alleged misuse of their PDAF. Tiangco said members of the Liberal Party who were identified in a COA report released last August as having received excess “pork barrel” allocations from 2007 to 2008 have yet to face charges.  “Imagine, inabot na ng 200 days pero wala pa ring nakakasuhan sa mga kaalyado ng Liberal Party? What’s really obvious and dubious is that the cases are all focused on the opposition. Ayaw na nilang idagdag ang mga kaibigan nilang sumawsaw sa PDAF. Malinaw na may cover up dito,” he said in a statement. But Coloma said Sunday that the findings of the Audit commission still Read More …

Feb 122014
Palace: Latest PDAF scam witness to undergo usual state witness procedure

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, questions Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during the inquiry Thursday on the alleged P10-B Priority Development Assistance Fund scam involving the Janet Lim-Napoles group at the Senate Session Hall in Pasay City.(upper photo power point presentation by Senate. (MNS photo) MANILA (Mabuhay) – Ruby Tuason, a potential state witness in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, will undergo normal procedures in the case, Malacañang said Saturday. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said there are requirements Tuason must meet to become a state witness in the case. “Meron tayong batas at standard na tinitingnan (We have laws and standards to observe). Kung pumasok sila sa standard, pwede sila mag-avail of the witness protection program. This does not apply only to Ruby Tuason. For any criminal offense where a person who participated in the crime (and) whose participation is not the most guilty, the law allows them to testify and shed truth to the matter,” he said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. He said that even in the United States, the law allows whistleblowers to “help facilitate and expedite the revelation and uncovering of (the) truth” in a judicial proceeding. But Lacierda stressed there are procedures and requirements for one to become a state witness. Tuason returned to the Philippines on Friday and offered to testify on the PDAF mess. For now, Lacierda said the Ombudsman is evaluating Tuason’s testimony. (MNS)

Jan 252014
De Lima: Revilla Sr. may be included in pork barrel probe

President Benigno S. Aquino III converses with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima during the 8th East Asia Conference (EAC) on Competition Law and Policy at the Mindanao Ballroom, Sofitel Philippine Plaza in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Wednesday (August 28, 2013). EAC is an open event for key high-level officials of competition agencies in East Asia. EAC participants exchange ideas, views and experiences on emerging regional competition issues; and undertake to strengthen understanding and cooperation with regard to the implementation of competition policy and law across the region. In photo is Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) chairman Kazuyuki Sugimoto. (MNS photo) MANILA, Jan 23 (Mabuhay) – First, his son. Now, former Senator Ramon Revilla, Sr. may just find himself in the center of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) probe into the alleged siphoning of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to so-called “Napoles non-government organizations (NGOs).” His namesake, incumbent Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., was part of the first batch of respondents charged by the NBI and “pork barrel” scam whistleblowers before the office of the Ombudsman. The complaint alleged that Revilla Jr. pocketed P224.51 M as kickbacks from Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged scam architect. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima is set to meet with primary whistleblower Benhur Luy, Napoles’ former aide, and his lawyer, Levito Baligod, to find out if they are in possession of evidence against Revilla Sr. So far, De Lima said she is not aware of any sworn statement by Luy or Read More …

Jan 162014
Lawyer: Jinggoy trying hard to outsmart SC

Senator Jinggoy Estrada (MNS Photo) MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Jinggoy Estrada is circumventing the decision of the Supreme Court by skillfully realigning his P200 million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to the budgets of Manila, Caloocan, and a town in Cagayan province. In a statement, lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the high court was very precise in its decision declaring the pork barrel unconstitutional. There, the high court said the move was to “rectify an error which has persisted in the chronicles of our history” such as interventions from legislators. “To sanction such ‘re-insertion’ of their PDAF in the budget and allow them to realign or re-assign the funds to whatever or whomsoever they desire, is to circumvent the ruling of the SC that the legislators should not be accorded ‘post-enactment authority’ in the areas of ‘project identification, fund release, or fund realignment,’” Macalintal said. He explained Estrada’s action is a “post enactment” – one that is not related to his congressional oversight function. “Estrada’s act of realigning his ‘re-inserted PDAF’ is tantamount to ‘playing a role’ in the implementation of the budget which, as the SC decision declares, is violative of the principle of separation of powers and therefore unconstitutional,” he said. He said the SC was clear in saying that lawmakers can’t “substitute their judgments in utilizing public funds for local development.” He said allowing legislators to circumvent the SC is “to revert to the evil sought to be prevented by the SC decision, that of ultimately or once Read More …

Dec 262013
Aquino signs P2.265-T ‘pork-less’ budget for 2014

President Benigno S. Aquino III signs into law Republic Act No. 10633, the Php 2.265-trillion General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014, in a ceremony at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Friday (December 20). Witnessing the ceremony are Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Representatives Pangalian Balindong, Maria Zenaida Angping, Cesar Sarmiento and Emil Ong. (MNS photo) MANILA  (Mabuhay) – With more than a week before the end of the year, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday signed the P2.265-trillion budget for 2014 sans the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). At a ceremony in Malacañang, Aquino signed the 2014 General Appropriations Act, which is 13 percent or P258.7 billion higher than the current year’s budget. Of the P2.265-trillion budget, 37.2 percent (P841.8 billion) will go to social services; 26.2 percent (P593.1 billion) to economic services; 16.7 percent (P377.6 billion) to debt burden; 16 percent (P362.6 billion) to general public services; and 4 percent (P89.5 billion) to defense. The 2014 budget is supposed to be free of PDAF, which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, although budget watchdogs claimed discretionary funds were not completely removed from it. According to the Department of Budget and Management, most of the P25.2 billion originally allocated for PDAF have been “rechanneled” to the regular programs and projects of agencies, especially those needed for response to recent disasters. In a statement on Friday, Senate President Franklin Drilon commended the “speedy” approval of the budget, saying this will “translate to the timely Read More …

Dec 202013
Napoles also got P407-M DOTC funds: lawyer

Janet Lim Napoles arrives at the Senate for the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, which reportedly involves her group and several legislators. (MNS photo) MANILA (Mabuhay) – Aside from dipping into lawmakers’ pork barrel funds, alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles also got her hands on funds given to government agencies including a P407 million allocation for computers under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). Levito Baligod, lawyer of the whistle-blowers in the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam, said the whistle-blowers are developing a new set of charges based on information that government funds not part of lawmakers’ priority development assistance funds (PDAF) were also coursed through fake non-government organizations (NGOs) set up by Napoles. He said P407 million in DOTC funds intended for the purchase of computers were coursed through Jo-Chris Trading, a company owned by Napoles. “Ayon sa kanila, walang delivery (ng computers) at walang bidding at lahat yun na-award sa kumpanya ni Gng. Napoles. That is one of the cases we are developing,” he said. He said students could have increased their knowledge on computers if the project was implemented properly. Whistle-blowers earlier said Napoles approached officials and offered a 50% cut of any pork barrel-funded project coursed through her foundations. Napoles is currently incarcerated on a serious illegal detention charge filed by key whistle-blower Benhur Luy. Baligod noted the wide reach of Napoles in government, saying that many lawmakers and even local government Read More …

Dec 092013
Enrile: You can’t force me to resign

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) – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile will not be resigning anytime soon after allegedly funneling his pork barrel funds to fake non-government organizations linked to Janet Lim Napoles. Enrile said he will not follow the example of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon who resigned after being included in the second batch of cases filed in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel scam. The minority leader said Biazon resigned out of delicadeza and his decision should be respected. Enrile said lawmakers like himself who have been linked to the scam cannot be likened to Biazon. He said he cannot be forced to resign because he was voted into office, unlike presidential appointees whose alleged wrongdoings would embarrass the President. Enrile said he is ready to face the complaint filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman and that he is innocent of any crime unless proven guilty. He, however, conceded that he cannot win in the court of public opinion. Enrile is one of 39 individuals who were included in the first batch of cases filed by the Department of Justice in connection with the pork scam involving Janet Lim Napoles. The scam allegedly involved the funneling of lawmakers’ priority development assistance funds to fake NGOs set up by Napoles. A Commission on Audit report earlier Read More …