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THE Senate’s minority bloc on Tuesday has expressed its support for Sen. Leila M. De Lima’s request for temporary furlough so she can vote on pending crucial legislation despite its earlier denial by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon led his four other colleagues — Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV — in filing Senate Resolution No. 391 expressing the sense of the Senate to support De Lima’s request for legislative furlough.
“Senator De Lima is not asking for the privilege of attending all legislative sessions or hearings but is simply requesting for a modicum of support from the Senate to enable her to properly perform her mandate,” the resolution said.
“Senator De Lima has not been convicted of any crime and is in full possession of political and civil rights, the exercise of which are only limited by the deprivation of her physical liberty,” the resolution added.
Moreover, the Senate Minority Bloc cited in their resolution a number of instances where the Supreme Court granted the request of former senators similarly charged with a non-bailable offense temporary furlough for humanitarian reasons.
It also noted that the Sandiganbayan granted temporary furlough to former Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada for some important family occasions, personal or health reasons.
The proposed resolution also cited that the Supreme Court has granted temporary liberty to former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile due to his “advanced age, poor health as well as his past and present disposition of respect for the legal process, length of public service and private reputation.”
De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and justice secretary during the preceding Aquino administration, is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City awaiting trial over what she alleged are trumped-up charges of illegal drug trade.
Last May 11, De Lima has written to Pimentel, requesting for an expression of support from the Senate for her “desire to be occasionally granted furlough by the court in charge of her detention to vote on crucial landmark legislation on a ‘case-to-case’ basis.”
In response, Pimentel gave De Lima advice to continue filing motions before the court in the hope of getting a positive response.
“Try, try, try. Wala namang masama–through motions that are filed by your lawyers,” Pimentel advised De Lima.
“Nasa jurisprudence that detention says you accept the reality that if you detained, you cannot do some things. Tingnan lang natin. Alam mo through motions, the courts can be convinced of having a new way of looking at a circumstance. Through motions. Iyun lang ang gusto kong sabihin,” he added.
“NO ONE is above the law, not even President Rodrigo Duterte.”
Thus said opposition Senator Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan as he expressed concern over the reported recent pronouncement of Duterte saying he will ignore the rule of law to effectively implement martial law in Mindanao.
“No one is above the law, not even the President. We oppose any violation of the Constitution on matters pertaining to the martial law declaration,” said Pangilinan, a key member of the emaciated Liberal Party.
Pangilinan stressed that “to allow the President to disregard the Constitution is to open the gates to dictatorship. This we vigorously oppose. Might is not right.”
At the same time, he noted that Duterte “swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, not willfully defile it and do only as he wants.”
Pangilinan called on “patriotic and sober Cabinet members as well as Armed Forces leadership to assert themselves, to speak truth to the President, to caution and urge him not to violate the Constitution and his oath of office.”
“We urge all our Cabinet members and the Armed Forces to be true to their own respective oaths of office. Do not allow yourselves to be used as instruments in acts of reckless disregard of our constitutional democracy,” he pleaded.
Furthermore, Pangilinan called on all citizens “to come together and unite to defend the Constitution, our democracy, and the rule of law. We call for courage, for bearers of light to stand against the looming tide of darkness upon our land.”
Duterte, last week placed the home of some 20 million Filipinos under martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus after local terrorists belonging to Maute group and Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap for ransom gang, tried to take over Marawi City in response to a failed attempt by the authorities to arrest their leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Duterte, who is already facing international scrutiny and domestic criticism for his bloody war on drugs which is said to have already claimed the lives of over 9,000 people, also encouraged soldiers and police authorities to be harsh in their implementation of martial law, a move that further alienated him from his critiques which include human rights organizations. He also threatened to expand martial law’s coverage over the entire country should events go out of hand.
Meanwhile Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a fierce critic of Duterte, expressed no surprise over the President’s statement that he intends to ignore the law in implementing martial law.
“Since day one when Duterte ordered the killing of our people in his fake war on drugs, it was quite clear that he had no respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions,” said Trillanes, a former soldier who got involved in a plot to overthrow the then democratically elected president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“People should start waking up because he will keep on pushing the boundaries of his power for as long as no one is pushing back,” Trillanes said.
DESPITE the expression of support by pro-administration senators to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in southern Philippines, the senate minority bloc on Monday has pressed for the convening of both houses of Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives, to a joint session to deliberate Proclamation No. 216 which placed Mindanao under military control.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Benigno Paul “Bam” Aquino, (detained) Leila de Lima, all members of the Liberal Party; and Antonio Trillanes of the Magdalo Party filed Senate Resolution No. 390 calling for a joint session of Congress to determine whether martial law is necessary to be enforced in Mindanao to defeat the terrorists.
“By constitutional design and as observed through our history after its adoption in 1987, the President already exercises the most extensive powers as head of state, head of government, and the Commander-in-Chief thus, the President’s exercise of the extra powers to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus must strictly comply with the Constitution,” they said.
The minority bloc said the powers to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ are considered “extraordinary powers given that the former entails a militarization of a portion of our otherwise civilian-controlled territory while the latter curtails the people’s rights against warrantless arrests and arbitrary detention.”
“Pursuant to the constitutional mandates of transparency and accountability in government, respecting the right of the citizen to information of public interest, and the fundamental underlying principle of checks and balances among the separate branches of government, it is incumbent upon both the Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct a joint session for the purpose of determining the constitutional and factual validity of the proclamation, of preventing abuses in its implementation, and ensuring the safety of the people of Marawi and the whole of Mindanao,” the minority lawmakers added.
This developed even after National Security Adviser Hermgenes Esperon Jr. briefed the senators about why Pres. Duterte had to declare martial law in Mindanao. He said the President only wanted to protect and defend the people as well as the government projects, and investments in Mindanao.
Duterte, last week placed the home of some 20 million Filipinos under martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus after local terrorists belonging to Maute group and Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap for ransom gang, tried to take over Marawi City in response to a failed attempt by the authorities to arrest their leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Duterte, who is already facing international scrutiny and domestic criticism for his bloody war on drugs which is said to have already claimed the lives of over 9,000 people, also encouraged soldiers and police authorities to be harsh in their implementation of martial law, a move that further alienated him from his critiques which include human rights organizations.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cynthia Villar, a Duterte ally, defended the President’s decision to place Mindanao under martial law.
“The President is from Mindanao. He is more familiar with what’s happening in Mindanao, being a mayor of Davao for so long,” Villar noted.
“I believe we should let the Mindanaoans decide for themselves because they are the ones having a hard time because of this problem. Tayo naman dito sa Luzon at Visayas wala naman tayong nararanasan na ganyan. Kawawa naman sila. Dapat kung ano ang desisyon nila, iyon ang desisyon ng lahat,” she said.
She also expressed belief that there is no more need for Congress to hold a joint session and discuss Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
“Ang intindi ko doon sa rule sa declaration of martial law, kapag hindi ire-revoke there’s no need for a joint session. Dito sa Senate kapag nag-botohan kami at hindi nanalo ang pagrevoke, walang joint session,” said Villar said.
THE influential lawmaker allies of President Rodrigo said there is no need to convene a joint session of Congress if the majority of its members agree with the President’s declaration of martial law.
This was the position taken by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and House of Representatives Pantaleon Alvarez, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III after learning that some lawmakers are calling for a joint session of congress to discuss Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
Specifically, Senators Risa Hotiveros, Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan and Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian called for the convening of a joint session of congress to determine the propriety of Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, home of some 20 million Filipinos.
However, stressing that there is no need for a joint meeting, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III noted that the administration’s top security officials are already set to brief the senators on Monday about the President’s declaration of martial rule.
Sotto, a popular actor-comedian before becoming a lawmaker, added that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, are expected to meet with the members of the Senate to give a briefing on the security situation in Mindanao, specifically Marawi City and its adjacent provinces.
“Itanong na nila lahat ng gusto nila sa basis of martial law. It’s in the Constitution,” said Sotto.
Article VII Section 18 the 1987 Constitution says “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”
Furthermore, the same provision also says that “Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it…”
Sotto’s reaction came after Gatchalian, Pangilinan, and Hontiveros called for both chambers of Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives, to hold a joint session and determine whether it is indeed necessary to place Mindanao under martial law.
“Magulo lang ‘yun. Sa tingin nila makakapagsalita sila sa dami ng congressmen?” Sotto quipped.
In response, Hontiveros said a joint session will also be an opportunity for lawmakers to officially record their vote and show their constituents and the general public where they stand on this important issue.
“The people deserve to know where their lawmakers stand on this important matter. If they believe that they stand on the right side of history, I don’t see why Congress can’t convene a joint session,” she said.
“With all due respect to the leaders of the two chambers of the legislature, but how can we get the exact sense of the majority of the lawmakers if we don’t convene in a joint session? I hope the legislature is not taking the declaration of martial law lightly,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gatchalian expressed belief that martial law should be “immediately lifted as soon as life of our kababayans in Western Mindanao is back to normalcy.”
Duterte, on Tuesday, placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law and later threatened to expand its coverage to include Visayas and Luzon.
The declaration of martial rule came after two local criminal organizations, the Maute group and the kidnap for ransom gang Abu Sayyaf, which both made a pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State; tried to seize Marawi City after the authorities botched the serving of a warrant of arrest in that city on Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the said criminal groups.
SENATOR Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes said President Rodrigo Duterte is being “trigger happy” when he placed Mindanao under martial law to neutralize the local terrorists who tried to seize Marawi City.
“Napansin ko lang sa pag-declare niya eh parang naging ‘yung ‘trigger happy.’ Na kating-kati mag declare na (ng martial law),” Trillanes said.
Nevertheless, Trillanes, a critic of the President, expressed hope that Duterte would amend his martial law declaration limiting its effect only in Marawi City.
“In this case, we should reject. Baguhin niya ‘yung declaration niya na dun lang sa area of conflict. Its for his own good. Dahil maraming negosyanteng natakot,” he said.
Trillanes noted that the armed forces was not given time to assess the situation and whether the declaration of martial law is warranted.
“Hindi man lang binigyan man lang ng konting panahon ‘yung Armed Forces to give an assessment or makontrol man lang ‘yung situation bago nag declare ng ganun. Kutob ko dito gusto niya nang mangyari ito eh. Gusto na n’yang i-declare ito,” he said.
Trillanes said he received report that the skirmishes between government forces and the Maute group had been contained in Marawi City.
“Iyung kaguluhan ay di lumalabas sa Marawi. In short hindi warranted ng martial law sa buong Mindanao. So nag-ko cause siya ng unecessary panic,” he said.
“Kaya ngayon inaantay natin ‘yung Malacanang kasi within 48 hours kelangan nilang magbigay ng report. But definitely ‘yung pag declare ng martial law for the whole of Mindanao ay hindi kinakailangan,” Trillanes said.
Duterte said he will ask his fellow lawmakers to reject the declaration.
“Kasi ‘pag bibigyan mo ng palugit itong si Duterte ang susunod dito ‘yung buong Pilipinas na, ‘di ba? Sinasanay niya or kino kondisyon niya ‘yung isipan ng mamamayan na ‘yung martial law okey lang. So, pag pinagbigyan natin ito ngayon, malamang aabusuhin niya ito, dadalhin niya sa susunod na level, buong bansa ang pag-de declare ng martial law,” Trillanes observed.
“Even assuming na merong rebellion sa Lanao and Marawi. Dapat dun lang sa area na ‘yun ‘yung martial law,” he added.
STRESSING that the Philippines’ friendship with China should be based on goodwill, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said the government should inform the United Nations (UN) of the alleged war threat of Chinese President Xi Jinping against the country should President Rodrigo Duterte insists in drilling for oil in Recto Bank.
Lacson, comenting on Xi’s alleged threat of war during his recent bilateral meeting with Duterte in Beijing, said “Obviously, veiled or not, threat ‘yan…assuming accurate ang pag-paraphrase ni President Duterte, obviously threat ang sinabi ng presidente ng China.”
He said “(Senior Associate) Justice (Antonio) Carpio is right. Dapat i-bring up ito sa attention ng UN. After all, China is a member. Member pa nga siya ng Security Council di ba? So dapat i-pursue natin dahil di maganda ‘yan.”
“Friendship should be based on goodwill. Pero where can you find goodwill kung may threat of going to war in case na ang claims i-pursue natin, to explore based on what we believe is ours?” he said.
However, other than informing the UN, Lacson, who is a former Philippine National Police chief, is not sure what step to take.
“It can take many forms. P’wedeng diplomatic protest. P’wedeng just a manifestation. Maraming p’wedeng gawin. But the matter should be brought to the matter of the UN. After all, we’re basing our claim sa arbitral ruling, and malinaw naman sa ruling sinabi sa atin ‘yan,” he said.
“So, wala namang pagkakamali si President Duterte nang sinabi niyang it is ours dahil may basis ‘yan. Now kung China thinks otherwise, ano ang basis naman nila? But to threaten us with war, especially ‘yung disparity ng military might ng power ng China compared to ours, medyo malaking threat ‘yan,” he added.
Despite affirming the correctness of the country’s position over the ownership of the contested bank, Lacson advised that plans to drill oil in the area should be carefully studied.
“Maraming intricacies. Kung itutuloy natin, ano ang implications? Dapat pag-aralan ding mabuti,” Lacson said.
“The point is, the crux of the issue here is the threat posited by China, by the president no less of China, during a conversation with our president,” he said.
Duterte, late last week, told newsmen that Xi made the threat after he expressed his plan to drill for oil in Recto Bank.
“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said recalling his conversation with Xi.
“His response to me, ‘we’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”
Recto or Reed Bank, which is believed to be rich in gas and oil deposits, is within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) but despite of it, China staked a claim on the area citing alleged historical accounts.
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte warned on Wednesday that his martial law will be harsh, similar to the one declared by ousted dictator former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.
Duterte issued the warning at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport shortly after he arrived from his interrupted official visit to Russia.
“Martial law is martial law. My fellow countrymen, you have experienced martial law. It would not be different from what President Marcos did. I’ll be harsh,” Duterte said.
“Anyone now holding a gun, confronting government with violence, my orders are spare no one, let us solve the problems of Mindanao once and for all. Do not force my hand into it,” the President. said.
He also said that “If I think you should die, you will die. If you fight us, you will die. If there’s an open defiance, you will die and if it means many people dying, so be it.”
“My orders are shoot to kill. I will not hesitate to do it. My human rights is different. It is an institutional theory which we will reserve and observe. I said I will not allow abuses. The courts are open,” Duterte said as he broached the possibility of extending the martial rule proclamation in Visayas and Luzon should the threat of Islamic State (IS) continues.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday after some 50 or so members of the Maute group, an IS inspired criminal organization which operates mainly in Syria and Iraq; and thugs of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap for ransom gang jointly tried to take control of the predominantly Muslim City of Marawi.
According to sketchy reports, the take over attempt on Marawi happened after the authorities botched the service of an arrest warrant on Isnilon Hapilon, the reported IS emir in the Philippines and leader of the Abu Sayyaf.
Meanwhile, the Philippine congress has yet to affirm President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
This was learned from Senate President and Duterte ally Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who said congress, as provided for by law, is still waiting for Duterte’s justification of his imposition of martial law in southern Philippine, home to at least 20 million Filipinos.
Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution provides: “…Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
Pimentel said “There is no question that the violence perpetrated by the Maute gang of terrorists allegedly in connivance with Abu Sayyaf has to be met by corresponding force of the government to ensure public safety of residents and tourists visiting the island.”
Meanwhile, a number of senators have expressed support the President’s move.
Senate President Pro Tempore and Liberal Party member Ralph Recto said the solution needed to “suppress ASG and Maute group may need a drastic and dramatic move.” He added that “The President is from Mindanao and has more information regarding security than any of us. I will respect his judgment on the issue and will give him the benefit of the doubt.”
On the other hand, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson expressed belief that the senate cannot prevent Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
“It goes without saying that by sheer numbers alone, we are deemed irrelevant in this regard–24 senators can’t outvote 292 congressmen,” Lacson said.
For his part, Sen. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian believes that the President has the paramount interest of the Filipino people in mind in declaring Martial Law in Mindanao.
“We must hold these despicable terrorists accountable for their crimes against humanity.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva expressed a similar sentiment.
“As to the President’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, we understand why the situation calls for it due to the gravity of this horrific incident,” Villanueva said.
The senator from Bukidnon, Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, agreed with Villanueva and said “As a senator from Mindanao, I understand the President’s frustration in dealing with armed groups across all regions. We should take this as a chance to finally disarm them and deal with sympathizers from the LGUs (local government units) coddling these terrorists.”
As expected by many political observers, Sen.Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero took the middle road
“We must condemn any terroristic acts at all times. I will therefore await such a report and will vote accordingly as a member of Congress with only the best interests of our country and people in mind.”
While opposition Sen. Frasncisco “Kiko” Pangilinan said “While martial law is an option available to the President and we respect this exercise of discretion, we in Congress will exercise our constitutional duty to look into the basis of the declaration and determine whether or not there is basis for its continued imposition.”
Human Rights organizations have expressed concern that with the declaration of martial law, Duterte, whom they blamed for the rash of extra judicial killings that already reportedly claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people, would further be emboldened to disregard human rights.
With reports from Nelson Flores
International lawmakers on fact finding mission to PH to ascertain facts on Senator Leila De Lima’s detentionMay 24th, 2017
THE Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of lawmakers based in Switzerland, has sent a three-person fact finding mission to the Philippines to ascertain the condition of detained Senator Leila de Lima.
Fawzia Koofi, a lawmaker from Afghanistan and IPU Committee on Human Rights president, told reporters that the fact finding mission is visiting the Philippines “on behalf of the IPU, the Interparliamentary Union Human Rights Committee to see and assess the situation of detention for Sen. Leila de Lima.”
Koofi said the team has already met with Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel whom she described to be very cooperative as they discussed with him the arrest and detention of Sen. De Lima.
“Tomorrow and the next days we will also meet other relevant officials to get first hand information because her case was presented in the IPU assembly and on behalf of the Committee, the IPU as a body, expressed concern over human rights violation of a member of the Senate in the Philippines which is Sen. De Lima,” said Koofi.
She added:”That’s why the Assembly decided to have a mission to the Philippines. We will also meet her on Wednesday to get her information about her arrest.”
Asked about his meeting with the IPU team, Pimentel said ”They just came here to thank me for inviting them and making their visit pleasant so far. They are the ones concerned with Sen. de lima so let them do their job.”
Meanwhile, Pimentel advised De Lima to continue her quest for liberty so she could personally attend Senate sessions to vote on ladmark measures.
This was Pimentel’s response to De Lima’s letter dated may 11 requesting him “for an expression of support for my desire to occasionally be granted furlough by the court in charge of my detention, for purposes of voting on crucial landmark legislation, on a case-to-case basis.”
“Try, try, try. Wala namang masama–through motions that are filed by your lawyers,” Pimentel advised De Lima.\
“Nasa jurisprudence that detention says you accept the reality that if you detained, you cannot do some things. Tingnan lang natin. Alam mo through motions, the courts can be convinced of having a new way of looking at a circumstance. Through motions. Iyun lang ang gusto kong sabihin,” he said.
“Ang rule sa Senado ay personal is required for you to vote. If you are under detention, you ask temporary permission to leave your detention place to vote,” said Pimentel.
De Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs, is detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters due to illegal drugs related charges which stemmed during her term as justice secretary of the preceding Aquino administration.
She denies the charges and insisted that it is a part of scheme to silence her vocal opposition to the President’s bloody war on illegal drugs, which now reportedly claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people.
ALARMED over the increasing number of children lured to “webcam child sex tourism,” detained Senator Leila De Lima asked her fellow lawmakers to investigate the matter.
De Lima’s Senate Resolution No. 379, at the same time, sought an assessment of the reported continuing growth in numbers of child sex workers to determine whether there is a need to increase penalties against child pornography and exploitation.
“There is a need to investigate the continuous proliferation of cybersex dens in spite of numerous legislation against them, especially those that victimize, exploit and prey on children,” said De Lima adding that it has been deplorable that the Philippines has been touted as “a key hub of the billion-dollar global child cybersex industry” despite the existence of several laws against child pornography and exploitation.
According to De Lima Child sex workers are paid to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam through pay-per-view sessions–with foreigners as clients.
Among the laws that De Lima alludes to include Republic Act 9777, also known as the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009; RA 10175 (the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) and RA 10364 (the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012).
De Lima observed that the recent spate of police raids on cybersex dens in Metro Manila and nearby provinces which put into serious doubts that implementation of the country’s laws to protect children against sexual abuses.
“In 2017 alone, numerous cybersex raids were conducted nationwide, during some of which minors were rescued,” she said.
Last February, a cybersex den was raided in Tondo, Manila where one minor was rescued and five others were arrested for performing sexual acts to paying foreigners who watch a live streaming video footage of children in front of a webcam.
The police have also conducted separate raids of cybersex dens in Cavite and Bacolod in the past months where minors were rescued after they were forced to perform explicit sexual acts for men in Australia and US through via livestream.
De Lima raised suspicion that WCST seems to be thriving rapidly in the country and becoming the “newest” form of child exploitation due to the government’s alleged failure to adequately enforce child protection laws.
“There is a need to review the state and efficacy of the implementation of current laws that protect our children from predatory acts by malevolent elements in our society,” she said.
“There is (also) a need to review the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act to see whether there is need for amendatory legislation, including the possibility of imposing higher penalties for child pornography.”
De Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs, is detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters due to illegal drugs related charges which stemmed during her term as justice secretary of the preceding Aquino administration. She denies the charges and insisted that it is a part of scheme to silence her vocal opposition to the President’s bloody war on illegal drugs, which now reportedly claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people.
Senator Franklin Drilon warns of possible economic consequences due to Duterte’s rejection of EU aidMay 20th, 2017
SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday said the Philippines could lose billions of pesos worth of trade with European Union member countries should the Duterte administration follows through with its threat to reject aid from the European economic bloc.
“I hope that the government has studied this thoroughly and carefully, and is prepared to deal with the consequences of its decision,” said Drilon referring to an earlier announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte that his administration will reject EU’s financial aid if there are “attached strings” that would affect the country’s internal affairs.
Drilon noted that the EU has been a reliable trading partner and their assistance, by way of grant or aid extended to the country through the years has been “benefiting Filipinos particularly those in the impoverished communities in Mindanao.”
Furthermore, Drilon said “the EU has been a Philippine’s committed partner in the pursuit of peace and development in Mindanao.”
He stressed that because of EU’s support to the peace process in Mindanao and its 80 percent funding of the Mindanao Trust Fund, there is money to spend for the socio-economic recovery of conflict-affected communities of Mindanao.
On the economic side, Drilon observed that the Philippines and EU’s partnership has resulted in billions of pesos in trade, helping to boost the economy and generate job opportunities.
“We must not forget that aside from developmental aid, we are beneficiaries of the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) that allows the Philippines to export 6,274 products, including the famous tuna of General Santos City, to the EU at zero tariff,” he added.
This makes EU as one of the biggest trading partners of the Philippines with the total trade between the EU and the Philippines reaching 12.9 billion euros or roughly P704 billion in 2015 “of which 1.38 billion euros were from products qualified under the GSP+ scheme,” , Drilon said.
According to the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA), Philippine exports to the EU for the first quarter of 2017 constitute 15.5 percent of total exports of the Philippines, making the EU as the fastest growing export market for Philippine products.
Before the Philippines was accepted in the GSP+ in 2014, Drilon told reporters, Filipino exporters had suffered heavily from the declining trade with the EU, from 8.5 billion euros in 2002 to 5.1 billion euros in 2014. He then warned that “the decision (to reject aid) might trigger the removal of the Philippines from the GSP+.”
Drilon expressed concern that “Once GSP+ is withdrawn, Filipino producers will be charged tariff rates.”
Citing the tuna industry as an example, Drilon explained that the country’s tuna will be imposed a 22 percent tariff once GSP+ is removed.
Moreover, Drilon, citing PSA data, said the value of tuna exports to EU member countries such as Germany, United Kingdom and the Netherlands in 2015 amounted to $133.12 million or roughly P6.65 billion. He predicted that the tuna industry, as well as those products enjoying zero tariff, stand to lose millions of pesos in case the GSP+ is terminated.
Drilon, denying that the EU will interfere in our internal affairs, said the “the Philippine and EU’s long-standing partnership has always been based on mutual respect and cooperation.”
“While it is the right of any country to accept or reject any grant from another country or institution, I do not agree that the grants offered by the EU would give it a license to interfere in our country’s internal affairs,” said Drilon.
“We are just being asked to adhere to our treaty obligations and they did not come from the EU but from the treaties that we have signed and ratified,” he added.
PHILIPPINE lawmakers have varied reactions to President Rodrigo Duterte’s reported rejection of the European Union’s P13.85 billion financial aid ranging from being a reckless move to an admirable declaration of independence from western influence.
Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV said the rejection of the EU aid is another “reckless and whimsical” decision by the Duterte administration.
Trillanes advised that “Instead of being arrogant and hateful, as President of a developing country, Duterte ought to be grateful that there are donor countries that are concerned about the plight of our countrymen and are willing to help us.”
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a Duterte ally, said the decision not to accept the billion-peso grant from EU “only shows a significant shift in the country’s foreign policy under the Duterte administration, which is apparently a declaration of independence from the influence of the west, i.e. US and EU, who are using grants and trade as the proverbial stick and carrot.”
He added that “It also speaks volumes about the President’s determined position to stand up against the traditional patrons of former colonies like the Philippines.”
Lacson, at the same time, refused to say whether the President’s rejection of EU’s money is good or bad for the country.
“I am not ready to say this early if this is the right direction of our foreign policy. Only time can tell if it will do our country right or not, or if it is all worth giving a chance to be tested.”
Lacson, however, added that “If only we do not have a territorial dispute with China, it is easier to concede that it is all worth the gamble.”
For his part, opposition Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan expressed hope that the Duterte administration has sufficient funding to continue the ongoing projects of the European Union, mostly in the Muslim communities, which will suffer when EU’s aid program is pulled out.
Pangilinan, a Liberal Party stalwart, acknowledged that “it is the prerogative of any State to refuse to accept help from its friends abroad, the international community.”
But he insists that the EU’s expression of concern over the war on drugs, including the incarceration of Senator Leila De Lima, should not cause the Philippines to step back in our relationship with EU.”
According to EU Ambassador Franz Jessen, the government decision to reject aid from the EU would mean the loss of about 250 million Euros (US $278.73 million) worth of grants mostly allocated to Muslim communities, among the country’s poorest.
But Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that only those EU aid with conditions are being rejected.
“The President has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance not to accept grants that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies of the Philippines,” Abella said.
Abella also denied reports that the government’s economic team was not informed of Duterte’s decision saying that the recommendation came from the finance department. He also stressed that all government departments were told of Duterte’s decision lest one of them accept a grant with “strings from EU.”
Last year, Duterte slammed the EU and the US for supposedly interfering in his bloody anti-drug campaign.
“If you think it’s high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Benigno Paulo “Bam” Aquino has called on the government to be transparent and clear on its independent foreign policy direction, especially in dealings with other countries in terms of aids and loans, and its position regarding the militarization of Philippine territories.
“The administration’s refusal to receive aid seems like a contradictory move to its proposal to raise taxes. If we are refusing aid because we are self-sufficient, why are we then planning to burden our countrymen with more taxes that might raise prices of goods even higher,” he said.
“Kailangang maging malinaw ang pamahalaan sa taumbayan ukol sa direksiyon nito sa foreign policy. Filipinos deserve to know dahil sila ang direktang maaapektuhan, lalo na sa trabaho, negosyo at presyo ng bilihin,” said Aquino.
“Sa takbo ng mga pangyayari, mukhang Palasyo lang ang nakakaalam ng mga detalye sa direkisyon na nais nilang tahakin. Kailangan nila itong isapubliko para sa kaalaman ng taumbayan,” he said.
Aquino last year filed Senate Resolution No. 158, seeking an inquiry into the government’s stand on different foreign policy issues.
It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, then headed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, but no hearing has been held since then.
Cayetano is not set to become the new secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) after he was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday.
SENATE President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday appealed to the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte to “respect” the decision of the House of Representatives (HoR) to dismiss the impeachment complaint against the Chief Executive.
“We have no other choice but to respect it because in the first place, they were the ones who examined thoroughly and in detail the impeachment complaint,” Pimentel, in a chance interview, said.
“I have not yet even seen the impeachment complaint. Kasi in the impeachment process, the senators sit as judges, hence, we should really be passive. We just await the decision of the prosecutors that should be the House of Representatives,” he said.
Pimentel adamantly refused to comment on the reason behind the decision of the Duterte dominated HoR to reject the impeachment complaint filed by Rep Gary Alejano but explained that impeachment is both political and legal processes.
“Impeachment, para po malaman ng ating mga kababayan, is a mix of politics and law so dahil nakararami sa house ang mga supporters ni President Duterte, we consider that (the rejection) to be expected.”
“But I’m sure, since kailangan din ng legal basis, na meron din silang point at good reason why they rejected the impeachment complaint,” Pimentel, who chairs Duterte’s political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), stressed.
“Maybe it was not sufficient in form, mali po ang form, or maybe they found it insufficient in substance sa pagbasa nila. Sabi nila, this is not worth our time, to waste time on such a complaint for impeachment,” he added.
Meanwhile, another ally of Pres. Duterte, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, said he finds it difficult to give any statement over the dismissal of the impeachment complaint.
“Mahirap mag-comment kasi may inter-parliamentary courtesy,” Lacson insisted.
“We should respect their proceedings. Kasi halimbawa umakyat dito nag-impeachment trial and then we will hear congressmen commenting harshly on what we are doing here. Di ba masama rin pakinggan? Bayaan mo na si (Rep.) Gary Alejano magsalita,” he added.
THE formal request of the almost entire membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the Philippine government to fully investigate the unabated killings in the country should serve as a “wake up” call for the Duterte administration.
Thus claim Senator Paolo Benigno Aquinoafter noting that 45 of the 47 member-countries of the UNHRC have appealed to the Philippine government to dig deeper into the continued extrajudicial killing (EJK) of suspected drug personalities.
“Let me just say na ‘yung 45 out of 47 countries making a formal request for us to truly investigate this siguro wake up call na ‘yan sa atin na naghahanap ng buong mundo ng accountability on our part,” said Aquino during a press briefing.
He added that “if the request is to have a formal investigation happen, we should grant that request. Kung wala naman itinatago ang ating bayan dapat payagan natin na magkaroon ng investigation dito.”
The UNHRC made the request to the Philippine government following the presentation of the 16-man Philippine delegation to the Universal Periodic Review of the Duterte administration’s human rights program. The delegation was led by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Meanwhile, detained Sen. Leila de Lima said the Philippines delegation to the human rights conference took a “double slap when in a vote of 45-1, the UNHRC urged the Philippines to take the appropriate actions to stop the EJKs in the country.”
“Obviously, the UNHRC completely ignored the fictional boasts of Cayetano on the human rights accomplishments of the Duterte regime,” said De Lima, a critic of the President.
“While most of the report embodied accomplishments of the PNoy (President Benigno Aquino) administration, the UNHRC delegates were not about to be fooled, as they were able to distinguish between PNoy’s accomplishments and the opposite reality of summary executions that now pervades in the country,” she added.
De Lima also noted that the delegates also called on the regime to allow UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard to investigate the EJKs under Duterte regime.
“This is the second part of the double-slap. After criticizing and cursing Callamard for appearing in the CHR anniversary and attending the FLAG (Free Legal Assistance Group) forum on the drug war, the government is now asked to invite back Callamard,” said De Lima.
SUCCUMBING to the lobby of powerful foreign mining interests, the traditional politician members of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) panel on Wednesday has rejected the confirmation of environmentalist Gina Lopez as secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Although political pundits expected the rejection, still it caught many by surprise as not only it is rare in Philippine politics that a presidential appointee is rejected, Ms. Lopez’ rejection is also the second by the CA for the Duterte administration, the first being former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.
Voting 16-8, the 24-member Committee on Environment and Natural Resources of the CA arrived at its decision through secret balloting. Under the rules, an appointee cannot be reappointed once rejected by the CA, unlike when the body only bypasses an appointment.
“The deliberation of the ad interim appointment of Ms. Gina Lopez as secretary of DENR was perhaps the longest, dramatic and most watched by all Filipinos from all walks of life both rich and poor,” said former boxer turned lawmaker Senator Manny “PacMan’ Pacquiao, the panel chairman.
“But the commission has voted today the required 13 votes. With sadness in my heart, this committee through this plenary is terminating its deliberation on Gina Lopez appointment not in the way I personally wanted to but the decision of the majority which I’m sorry but we must all respect,” the usually bible quoting Pacquiao said.
The four Liberal Party (LP) — Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Frank Drilon, and Senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan — contingent in the CA voted for Lopez’s confirmation. Four other lawmakers — Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto, Senators Loren Legarda, JV Ejercito, and Pacquiao — also voted in favor of Lopez’ appointment.
Even if the CA decided to have the voting in secret balloting, Lopez’ supporters all stood up to express their vote during the CA’s plenary session.
The other members of the CA’s environment panel were Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Gregorio Honasan II, Panfilo Lacson, and Juan Miguel Zubiri; Representatives Benhur Salimbangon ( panel vice chairman), Joel Mayo Almario, Antonio Floirendo, Jr., Wes Gatchalian, Roy Loyola, Rosenda Ann Ocampo, Josephine Ramirez-Sato, Ronaldo Zamora, Rodolfo Albano III, Abraham Tolentino, Juliet Cortuna, and Jerry Trenas.
After the session, Lopez expressed disappointment with the outcome of the voting. She then “recommended” President Rodrigo Duterte to replace her.
“It is the constitutional right for every Filipino for a clean and healthy environment. It is the duty of every Filipino to make sure that their fellow Filipino to get that,” Lopez said.
“How can a body which is mandated to make decisions based on the common good make decisions based on business interests? What else can you say? The ones who voted ‘no’ (for my confirmation must) explain it,” Lopez, who is obviously dismayed, said.
“My choice for DENR secretary is President Duterte. He is so powerful. You have the authority over the use of our resources. And you have the authority and the money to eradicate poverty. It’s an amazing position. I can’t think of any other person. It needs guts. It needs tapang because you have to step on business interests,” said Lopez.
For her part, Sen. Legarda, who is a former newshen for the Lopez group of company owned ABS-CBN, rejected the CA’s rejection of the confirmation of Lopez.
“In such a short time, in less than a year of service, Gina Lopez has already done a lot as DENR Secretary. She could have done so much more if we had given her the chance. I wish my support would have been enough, but we have rules to follow,” said Legarda.
“I just hope that the next DENR chief would also have the same passion and political will but would not suffer the same fate in the Commission on Appointments,” she added.
Sen. Pacquiao also expressed the same sentiment.
“To my mind this is not only Gina’s fight for the environment but a fight between Filipinos versus Filipinos who both need the environment. One group to use it and the other to preserve it,” said Pacquiao.
Furthermore, Pacquiao said “To you Gina Lopez, my supposed DENR secretary I salute you. Take this as a challenge to strive for more. The DENR post is not the end of your career but only the beginning.”
ACCORDING to the latest Philippine Social Weather Station survey, 60 percent or three out of every five Filipinos favor the revival of the death penalty for drug related crimes.
Senator Fraklin Drilon, however, was quick to downplay the results of the recent SWS survey saying it is a “mere reflection” of the people’s frustration over a poor justice system rather than its endorsement. He expressed confidence that the survey will not affect the position of majority of senators who have declared their opposition against the death penalty “out of principles.”
The lawmaker from Iloilo on Wednesday said the proposed death penalty bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives, will not pass.
“By my own estimate, there are at least 13 senators who will block the passage of the death penalty bill, including the six-member minority group and seven from the majority block. It’s dead and the chances of resurrecting it before we even bring it to a vote are very slim, if not zero, at least in this [17th] Congress,” Drilon, in a statement, said.
Aside from Drilon, the 13 anti-death penalty senators include Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, all members of the Liberal Party; and Sonny Trillanes. The rest are from the majority bloc whom Drilon declined to identify.
For his part, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Soto III welcomed the result of the survey saying it will influence the stand of some senators on the death penalty.
“Malamang. Lalo na sa mga reelectionists,” Sotto said refering to reelectionist senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Nancy Binay, Juan Victor “JV” Ejercito, Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, and Aquino.
Sotto insists that the survey clearly shows that Filipinos are supportive of the death penalty for heinous crimes.
Sen. Ejercito, on the other hand, said that being a representative of the people, he has “to follow their will.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Hontiveros said the latest SWS survey on the death penalty is a “cry of desperation from a public who is tired of drug-related crimes rather than their tacit approval of a supposed crime deterrent that doesn’t work.”
“This stems from the failure of the country’s law enforcement and public health systems to address the drug problem and bring to justice big-time drug traffickers based on the rule of law,” she said adding that “This inspires me more to campaign against the reimposition of the death penalty and to push for policies that will radically reform our judicial system.”
“I believe that by realizing a fair, efficient and functional justice system, we will ensure the safety of our people and lead them away from the allure of the death penalty, which has been proven to be a dangerous shortcut in addressing the peace and order problem of any country,” she said.
She added that there are “no empirical proof” that shows that death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime, particularly high-level drug trafficking.
Sen. Pangilinan, in a brief statement, agreed with Sen. Hontiveros and explained that when he voted against the death penalty in 2006, he did it “not because it was popular thing to do but because we believe it was the right thing to do.”
SENATE Loren Legarda on Friday appealed to the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to bring about more equitable and sustainable economic development across the region and to promote stronger regional cooperation.
Legarda, in an interview with reporters, said the Philippines, as chair of ASEAN 2017, has an excellent opportunity to steer ASEAN’s work in ways that will address the most critical challenges facing the region today.
“ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, is home to more than 600 million people, and is the fourth largest exporting region in the world; but income distribution and equality concerns abound,” she said.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), some 180 million citizens or about 29 percent of the ASEAN population still live in poverty, she said.
The GDP (gross domestic product) per capita across ASEAN countries can be as low as $800 to a high of $49,000.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon urged the Duterte administration to grab the opportunity to “re-assert” the Philippine claims over the disputed Spratly islands during the ASEAN Summit.
Five ASEAN member-states have overlapping territorial claim in the Spratlys in the South China Sea. These are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Neighboring Taiwan has also a stake in the South China Sea.
“We must take this opportunity to re-assert our sovereignty over the disputed island,” said Drilon when asked about his expectations from the 30th ASEAN Summit which is being held in the Philippines as this year’s host.
“We have a decision in our favor. We must continue to avail of every opportunity to assert that ruling by the arbitral court,” said Drilon referring to the decision of the international court nullifying China’s nine-line which eats up part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
SENATOR Grace Poe calls for the prosecution of former transport officials of the preceding Aquino administration who were involved in the allegedly anomalous P3.8 billion (US $ 75.7 million) purchase of 48 defective train coaches that are now wasting away in depots.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Service, issued the call as she announced her intention to investigate a report of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) showing that the coaches bought during the administration of former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III from Dalian, China have defective signaling system and that it cannot be used in the next three years.
Moreover, She insists that those responsible for the anomalous purchase should be held liable to serve as a lesson to others that commuter safety is paramount.
“Ang problema nito ay ang kalidad ng signaling system at sinabi ng DoTr na mukhang hindi nila gagamitin ang 48 trains na iyan. So, matetengga iyan. P3.8 billion at ilang daang libong pasahero ang hindi makikinabang diyan,” said Poe adding “Iyan ang isa pang malaking kasalanan na kung sino man ang nag-apruba niyan ay dapat managot.”
Poe said the senate must determine how and why the anomaly happened when congress resumes its next session on May 2.
“Dapat talaga makita kung saan tayo nagkamali para hindi natin ulitin ‘yun at maturuan ng leksyon ang mga pumasok dito na hindi inisip ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipino. Dapat talaga pagbayaran nila iyan. Dapat magkaroon ng kaso (laban sa kinauukulan).”
Poe said “Kung sino man ang pumasok diyan na hindi ginawa ang kanilang homework ay dapat managot sa batas at sa taumbayan. Sayang ang perang ipinambili.”
She then urged Transportation Secretary Art Tugade to build up the case against the concerned officials.
“Humanap na kayo ng ebidensya at magsampa na ng kaso doon sa mga nagkulang sa atin at iyon din ang balak kong gawin sa mga pagdinig sa Senado.”
At the same time, she expressed agreement with the DoTr’s plan to review and cancel all contracts that are not in conformity with existing rules and slap fines on contracting parties who failed to fulfill their end of the contract.
“Patuloy pa rin ang aming paninindigan dito na dapat managot ang pumasok sa kasunduan na ‘yan. Puro sila abogado doon, pero lahat naman ng kasunduan nila palpak,” Poe said.
SENATOR Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes said the evidence supporting the charges against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court is “substantial.”
Trillanes issued this statement on Tuesday as he expressed his disappointment over the reaction of some fellow senators who belittled the filing of mass murder and cries against humanity charges against the President before the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands.
He said Pres. Duterte’s allies in the senate are commenting “as if they have actually read Atty. Sabio’s information and they presume to know what the ICC would do” adding that “They seem to forget that thousands have already been killed and not a single person has been held responsible for these crimes.”
“Worse,” Trillanes also said “they ignore the fact that Duterte himself promoted this policy of killings. Regardless, at the end of the day, the ICC won’t listen to them. It would just do what it needs to do.”
Lawyer Jude Sabio asked the ICC on Monday to prosecute the President for mass murder and crime against humanity in connection with the slaying nationwide of at least 8,400 suspected illegal drugs dealers and dependents since the time he was elected mayor of Davao City.
Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato who, in an earlier legislative inquiry, implicated Pres. Duterte in the unexplained killings of criminals and politicians in Davao City during his time as mayor there.
Meanwhile, Trillanes expressed support for the New York Times editorial urging the ICC to “promptly open prelimimary probe” into the killings in the Philippines.
“I totally agree with the NY Times editorial. The evidence against Duterte is quite substantial,” he insists.
“He declared a policy of killings that left thousands of Filipinos slaughtered. He didn’t lift a finger to stop it. Worse, Duterte even encouraged it,” said Trillanes.
With that, the only requirement left before ICC could assume jurisdiction is whether the local courts are unwilling and unable to prosecute him, Trilanes explained.
“But since Duterte has presidential immunity, the only way for our courts to prosecute Duterte is when he is impeached. In other words, if his allies railroad the impeachment complaint, the ICC steps in,” Trillanes noted.
“So…pick your poison Mr. Duterte,” Trillanes said.
Filing of charges against PH President Rodrigo Duterte before international court is a disservice to the country – Senator Panfilo LacsonApril 25th, 2017
EMBARRASSING Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte before world leaders who will be in the country for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit this week is one of the most “unpatriotic” acts and the worst disservice that one can do to a country.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson stressed this point in reaction to the filing of “mass murder and crimes against humanity” charges by lawyer Atty. Jude Sabio against the President before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.
“Those behind the filing of the complaint before the ICC should satisfy at least two basic requirements: that the national courts, meaning our RTCs (regional trial courts) and even the Supreme Court are unwilling or unable to prosecute those being charged, or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer the case to the ICC,” said Lacson.
“In order to determine if the ICC will give due course to the complaint filed by Atty. Sabio, let us ask ourselves if these requirements or conditions are met. Then we can draw our conclusion from there,” he added.
Sabio, lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato who earlier implicated Pres. Duterte in the unexplained killings in Davao City during his time as mayor there, asked the ICC on Monday to prosecute the President for mass murder and crime against humanity in connection with the slaying nationwide of at least 8,400 suspected illegal drugs dealers and dependents.
Meanwhile, Sen. Juan Victor “JV” Ejercito questioned the “timing” of the filing of the case against the President before the noting that it was “obviously meant to embarrass him (the President) in the upcoming ASEAN.”
“It’s still part of a conspiracy to oust the President by destroying his credibility in the international community,” said Ejercito.
As this developed, opposition Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV said they were not surprised that a criminal complaint was lodged before the ICC.
“It did not come as a surprise that a criminal complaint has been lodged at the ICC against President Duterte and 11 senior government officials for crimes against humanity, thus warranting an investigation, the issuance of arrest warrants, and the convening of a trial,” said Sen. De Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame due to drug charges.
De Lima claimed that the complaint against Mr. Duterte “is solidly based on verified and verifiable documentary and testimonial evidence—more than journalistic anecdotes—on the complicity of the President and his officials in orchestrating, encouraging, and perpetuating the culture of impunity in the killing of suspected drug offenders and innocent civilians, including women and children.”
“In fact, there are real witnesses who risked their own lives and their families to come forward and testify about the truth,” she explained adding that “Far from what others claim, the complaint is not black propaganda or a political ploy to oust the President.”
Instead, it is a formal complaint lodged before the ICC because the Filipino people have already been alarmed, to say the least, about the continued daily killings in the Philippines, she added.
“It is about making our elected officials accountable for the horrific crimes being committed before the eyes of the Filipino people and the world. I call on the honourable judges of the ICC to heed the Filipino people’s pleas,” she added.
Moreover, Sen. De Lima demanded that “These killings must stop now, and those who allowed the perpetration of these crimes against humanity must be investigated and tried in the world’s court for the sake of the thousands of victims of extrajudicial and summary killings, and their widows and orphaned children.”
Sen. Trillanes, on the other hand, said Sabio’s action is a “welcome development.” adding that “We would now have a truly independent body that could find out the whole truth behind the slaughter of thousands of Filipinos and prosecute those behind it to include the enablers who allowed or encourage it to happen.”
Both lawmakers are fierce critics of Pres. Duterte.
RETIRED SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, a self-confessed leader of the Davao Death Squad, expressed disappointment with Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson over his failure to understand why he left the country for Singapore to be with his family.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, on Monday wondered who financed Lascañas trip to Singapore which he said is an “expensive” place to stay.
Lascañas, who left the country on Saturday, noted that Lacson also fled the country in 2009 during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to evade arrest and trial for his alleged involvement in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.
“Sa lahat ng tao, si Senator Lacson dapat ang pinakamakakaunawa sa aking kalagayan,” Lascañas said in a text message sent to reporters covering the senate through the Office of Sen. Sonny Trillanes.
“Hinanap siya ng awtoridad at umalis siya dahil sa pangamba sa kanyang safety,” Lascañas said referring to the time when Lacson fled to an undisclosed country.
“Marami din naniniwala sa kanya na tama ang kanyang ginagawa kaya maraming tumulong sa kanyang pag-alis,” Lascañas added.
Lacson returned to the country only after the term of Pres. GMA was succeeded by his ally, Sen. Benigno Simeo Aquino III, as the 15th president of the republic.
Moreover, Lascañas said just like Lacson, a lot of people also believe his testimony against President Rodrigo Duterte whom he claimed to have ordered the EJK of criminals and political enemies when he was still Davao City mayor.
“Ganun din sa akin. Maraming naniniwala at nagmamalasakit kaya nila ako tinutulungan,” said Lascañas.
In response to Lascañas’ lamentation, Lacson said:”Of course, I understand SPO3 Lascañas’ predicament and I am not blaming or criticizing his decision to leave the country. Anybody who feels persecuted and physically threatened is entitled to make a personal decision on self-preservation.”
He added:”I will never regret that decision. I thought it was the right decision to make given the circumstances at that time. If Lascañas feels the same, so be it.”
“In my case, as I stated when I resurfaced after being proven innocent of the trumped up charges thrown against me by the Arroyo administration, I chose to fight my legal battle under our country’s judicial system based on jurisprudence although I refused to give my enemies and detractors the pleasure of seeing me behind bars even for a second for a crime I did not commit,” Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, explained.
“If I asked which group is financing his and his family’s trip and accommodations in an expensive place like Singapore, it was in the context of an obvious destabilization efforts against President Duterte since nobody seems to admit being involved in the scheme,” Lacson added.
The former police chief also noted that Lascañas family had left for Singapore even before the principal witness testified at the Senate hearing.
“So that could be his personal reason for leaving.”
Lacson alleged that Lascañas’ claim linking the President to Extra Judicial Killings while he was still Davao City mayor is designed to “destabilize” the Duterte government.
SENATOR Juan Victor “JV” Ejercito said the occupation of an idle housing project for military personnel in Bulacan by a militant urban poor organization is a wakeup call for the government to address the worsening housing problem.
Sen. Ejercito issued the statement after learning that the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), a Metro Manila based militant urban poor organization, swooped down and occupied an idle housing project intended for enlisted men in Pandi, Bulacan.
The lawmaker from San Juan City also expressed appreciation over President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to hand over the housing project to Kadamay members in order to avoid bloodshed. However, he stressed that he does not agree that the government should be “held hostage” in order to justify anyone’s need for shelter except in times of calamity.
“While I appreciate President Duterte’s heart for the poor and homeless this (taking over) should not be the means for anyone to become a recipient of housing projects,” said Ejercito, chairman of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning and Housing.
“We have to do things right. Kadamay should still go through the proper process in the turn-over and awarding of housing units,” he added warning that Kadamay’s occupation might become a “precedent” for other groups demanding housing from the government.
“We want them to comply with the process.”
The President on Tuesday asked the beneficiaries of the Pandi housing project to “let go” of their assigned units to avoid any violent confrontation. He made the appeal during the Philippine Army’s 120th anniversary in Fort Bonifacio wherein he also vowed to look for a “better” housing site for them.
Ejercito, at the same time, said that regardless of the President’s decision, the Senate probe on Kadamay’s occupation of the Pandi, Bulacan housing project will still push through on April 18. He said he wants to know from the National Housing Authority why the project was neglected and made up of substandard materials. Furthermore, he also wants to know where the funds for it went.
“By now I believe we are convinced that government housing projects are no longer about structures but should also cover a comprehensive and strategic plan in addressing other basic needs of beneficiaries such as access to livelihood, transportation, education, and health facilities,” he said.
He added:”To effectively map this out and to address the housing backlog, we need to pursue the creation of a Department on Human Settlements and Urban Development and the passage of the In-City Relocation Bill. These two are our priority measures in the Senate committee this year.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon said the President’s decision to give away the idle government housing units in Pandi to the members of the organization that illegally occupied it is a “ticket to anarchy.”
“That’s bad signal Mr. President. Again your falling on your own sword because ‘pag ganyan that’s a ticket to what you called anarchy. Anybody taking the law into their own hands. These people are not above the law. And we shouldn’t do that,” said Gordon.
SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV deplores the presence of alleged communist cadres working in the Duterte administration saying they are taking advantage of the peace talks between the government and rebels to spread their influence on the ground.
This was learned during a media forum where Trillanes, a former military rebel who tried to oust the democratically elected government of then former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, confirmed reports that his office had received intelligence reports about some communist rebels working as government employees.
Trillanes, a fierce critic of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, claimed further that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) is taking advantage of the sitting administration, especially now that the government has resumed peace talks with them.
“Nandidiyan ginagamit nila ‘yung DSWD (Department of Social Work and Development) at itong DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform),” Trillanes, a former military rebel who tried to oust the democratically elected government of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said.
Trillanes also insisted that communist cadres have also infiltrated the labor department and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
“Tapos ‘yung mga hawak nila, sa DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) meron din sila, sa NAPC (National Anti-Poverty Commission). So, they are spread throughout the bureaucracy at kinukuha nila yung mga cadre nila on the ground,” he said.
“I’ve been saying right from the very start na itong mga communist sa ating bansa hindi ito mag le-lay down ng arms, not for Duterte, not for anybody because they actually believe in their ideology. At hindi sila titigil until makuha nila yung poder ng kapangyarihan. So kaya nga nagtataka ako kung bakit we’re giving them so much,” he said.
“In fact, ang pinakamabigat ngayon na nangyayari is napapakinabangan ng CPP-NPA-NDF itong gobyerno ni Duterte kasi merong 12 high-ranking officials ng Communist Party of the Philippines na nasa senior levels of government, ano?” said Trillanes.
“So, nandirito na may mga Cabinet secretaries na nandidiyan na ngayon ‘yung mga cadre ng mga komunista ay basically inempleyo na ng gobyerno. So, pumapasok na, sinuswelduhan na ng government ‘yung karamihan, if not all, ng kanilang mga cadre at mga kamag-anak ng mga troops nila on the ground,” he added.
Curiously, Trillanes has been citing government agencies concerned with the interest of the poor and whose leadership were entrusted by President Rodrigo Duterte to known “social activist” like Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and NAPC lead convenor Liza Masa.
At the same time, Trillanes warned that some communist-led rebels might use as their “safe haven” the housing projects in Pandi, Bulacan that was recently occupied by the militant Kadamay group, a move that was approved by the president.
“Ang sa akin naman I’m all for distributing the housing units pero gawan naman natin ng sistema kung sino ‘yung mga beneficiary,” he said.
As on the threat of the NDF to “indict and arrest” former President Benigno Aquino IV over the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan, Trillanes expressed confidence that the communist led group will not do it.
“That’s more of a propaganda statement than anything. Alam naman ng NDF ‘yan dahil ‘pag kasi ginawa nila ‘yan it also opens them up eh diyan sa ganyan mga tactics,” Trillanes said.
“Kasi pag ginalaw mo ‘yang mga retired na, hindi kasi combatant ang mga ‘yon, p’wede na rin habulin ng Armed Forces ‘yung mga retired nila (na communist leaders). Ayaw rin nila ‘yun. So, I believe it’s more propaganda than anything,” he said.
Firing of PH Interior and Local Government exec Sueno an excuse to make the post available to a President Duterte ally – Senator TrillanesApril 5th, 2017
SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV claimed that the sacking of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno is a “convenient excuse” by President Rodrigo Duterte to make the post available for someone close to him.
“I believe, meron silang gustong i-appoint dyan sa Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ‘pagka natapos na ‘yung election ban (on appointing losing candidates who participated in the May 2016 election),” Trillanes, a fierce critic of Pres. Duterte, said.
“Kasi meron nang papasok ngayong May. So na-open nila ‘yung door. Nagbigay ng opening itong si Secretary Sueno. Kaya tinanggal sya,” Trillanes, a former officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters during in a media forum Tuesday.
“Tingnan n’yo nung nabalitaan ‘yung ganyan (corruption issue) kay Cesar Montano, tinanggal ba si Montano? So, ‘yung kay Sec. (Vitaliano) Aguirre, tinanggal ba? Hindi,” Trillanes stressed adding that “Ganun lang ‘yan. Political convenience ‘yan na gagamitin nila. Iinsist nila na may parang anti-corruption drive na nangyari.”
“What I’m saying is rampant ang corruption ngayon. We have been identifying senior officials of this administration na engaged in corruption, pero hindi naman ginagalaw. Pero eto komo convenient na tatanggalin (na nila),” he explained.
“Makikita nyo they are very careful na sabihin ‘loss of trust’ lang ang reason. Kasi nga naman, kung didiinan nila ng husto, baka mag salita ‘yan. Ngayon, kung meron naman talagang na-discover silang illegal, ba’t di nila kasuhan? Ba’t nila tinanggal lang?”
Nevertheless, Trillanes clarified that he does not know who will get the vacated post since it appears that there is still an infighting among Pres. Duterte’s allies.
“May mga names being floated around pero ano ‘yan, kumbaga meron pang infighting kung sino eventually makakakuha niyan,” said Trillanes.
On Monday, Pres. Duterte unceremoniously fired Sueno after a cabinet meeting citing loss of trust and confidence as reasons. Sueno’s dismissal came after his dispute with his three undersecretaries became known to the Pres. Duterte and the public
The three undersecretaries, who were all old friends of Pres. Duterte, accused Sueno of corruption and abuse of power, charges that the beleaguered former DILG chief firmly deny.
“I wholeheartedly accept the decision of the President. It is his call if he wants me in his Cabinet or not. But for the record, Mr. President, and I can say this with all honesty and sincerity, hindi po ako corrupt,” Sueno, a relatively newcomer in Duterte’s circle of allies, said.
It was earlier rumored that Pres. Duterte’s friend, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., has been promised the DILG post.
The young Marcos, son and namesake of the former strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has a pending electoral protest before the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), against Vice President Leni Robredo as he questioned her victory in the last vice presidential election.
Communist rebels to be prosecuted if they arrest former President BS Aquino for crimes against humanityApril 4th, 2017
SENATOR Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said communist rebels should be held criminally liable if they push through with their threat to arrest former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and put him on trial for crimes against humanity in connection with the bloody dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan, South Cotabato last year.
Sen. Ping Lacson made the suggestion in view of the threat of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to “indict” Aquino, among others, for the violent dispersal of farmers who picketed the National Food Authority office in Kidapawan on April 1, 2016.
At the same time, the former Philippine National Police chief said it is the responsibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP “to protect former President Aquino and all those placed under the liquidation list of the CPP-NPA-NDF who, by any definition, are enemies of the State.”
“Having said that, there is only one duly constituted authority that can mete out any form of penalty against anybody found violating the laws of the land and that is a court of law of the Republic of the Philippines,” said Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order.
“Anybody else is unauthorized and therefore illegal. Hence, they should be made criminally liable if and when they perform such criminal act,” he said.
The NDF said the “revolutionary government” had indicted Aquino and other officials including North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, North Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Nancy Catamco as well as military and police officials involved in the dispersal.
Three farmers died and dozens others were injured during that violent police dispersal of farmers blocking the Cotabato-Davao highway. The farmers were seeking immediate help for food aid and farm assistance from the government to cope with the harsh impact of the long-drawn drought on their crops.
THE Philippine should assert its sovereignty over the mineral rich Benham Rise off the coast of Aurora province by setting up a “floating terminal” that could also pave the way for gas exploration in the area.
Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian made the proposal after learning that Malampaya gas field off the coast of Palawan, which provides 2,700 megawatts of power to Luzon, will dry up by 2024. He insists that the government must set up a “floating terminal” in Benham Rise to assert the country’s sovereignty over the area as well as in preparation for the impending gas exploration in the region.
Benham Rise, a 24 million hectare undersea plateau, is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Geological reports indicate that it holds huge amount of methane hydrates which is a potential source of energy for the Philippines.
“We need to think of the future. With all of these fuel sources, it gives us the flexibility now to strategize. So, I would really recommend that a terminal should be built and natural gas should be a part of our strategy,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.
“The strategy is to replace the gas with another form of renewable energy. The other strategy is to import gas because it is quite cheap right now and we don’t have an importing terminal to bring in our natural gas to our system,” he said.
“Yes, we must build a terminal, a physical terminal. A floating terminal or a land-based terminal,” Gatchalian replied when asked by reporters if there is a need to build a terminal to bring gas to Luzon from Benham .
“It should be a part of our strategy because gas is cheaper now. It’s a flexible system and can be used for any type of necessities,” he said.
Gatchalian, however, noted that the floating terminal will cost at least $1 million.
Earlier, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara proposed the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA) to develop the area but the pending proposal is being opposed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) saying it will result in a “bloated” bureaucracy.
“Senator Angara and I are discussing right now whether to pursue the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority and how much will it take to pursue it,” said Gatchalian.
“Now, we are analyzing whether those oppositions were valid but definitely the direction here is to have more activities in that area regardless whether we put up BRDA or not.”