Duterte’s contradictions


What’s the difference between a joke and a dirty slip showing? How do you distinguish hyperbole from a person’s genuine worldview?

In the case of the Davao strongman Rodrigo Duterte, the offensive comments come too regularly to be dismissed as careless witticism.

Credit Duterte for defending indigenous peoples hounded by henchmen of corporations out to wrest their ancestral lands. Credit him for condemning the massacre of hungry folk in Kidapawan. Praise him for wanting to expand agrarian reform to ensure farmers get the support they need. Hail his commitment to resume stalled peace talks with communist rebels and provide meaningful autonomy to the Bangsamoro.

But do not ignore Duterte’s record in justifying the killings of people he considers social pests – juvenile delinquents, addicts, pushers. 

The Davao mayor has not admitted to any extrajudicial killings. He claims the criminals killed under his direct supervision were all gunned down in battles with law enforces.  No case has been filed against Duterte for these extra-judicial killings.

His supporters stress this to debunk charges of selective justice. But there is no doubt that people have been summarily executed under Duterte’s watch.

Duterte applauded these killings, encouraged these, defended these, verbally attacked and threatened those who rang alarm bells. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has doggedly reported on this for years; its country researcher Carlos Conde has received threats for his efforts.

Duterte may not have actually pulled the trigger. But speech after speech – to cheers and ovation – Duterte, a lawyer, spits on the nation’s laws, including the Constitution, presenting murder as legitimate law enforcement policy.

Who judges the innocent?

In his April 12 rally at the Amoranto stadium, Duterte said he has never killed an innocent person. But who judges innocence or guilt? The courts do, not the mayor, not the President. To deny suspects a chance to defend themselves in court does not solve the problem of injustice.

In the same rally, Duterte expressed sympathy for the plight of the Bangsamoro.

“I have to swear to the flag. My duty to the republic is to protect everybody, including the Moro people,” he promised disappointed leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

That’s impressive. But government officials swear to protect the rights of everyone, including people suspected of committing crimes.

The military routinely tramples on these rights where suspected militants are concerned, including the Lumad fighting to keep their lands free of abusive extractive industries. Officials of the Aquino government routinely justify these abuses. They are wrong. And so is Duterte in his equally selective notion of human rights.

Duterte talks about the evils of corruption, of how top leaders have made a rich, small segment of the population more equal than the rest.

digong alabang
There is no denying Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity. Whether he campaigns in Metro Manila or the provinces, the Davao strongman draws huge, ecstatic crowds.

His followers also cite the same – criminals coddled by lawmen, judges, other officials – as a reason for their impatience with legal niceties and their support for death penalty sans any check and balance, except a leader’s righteousness.

I will not disabuse them of the belief that injustice stalks the land. It does; my Facebook page is filled daily of examples, from tragi-comedy to full-blown horror.

Nor will I try to paint Davao City as the country’s crime capital. It isn’t.

But there is no excuse for murder. There is no reason on earth that justifies state-sanctioned murder.

My rights are everybody’s rights

Dutere asks, “anong mawala sa inyo kung patayin ko ang criminal?” (What would it cost you if I kill criminals?)

I have seen state security officials kill people on simple suspicion of being criminals. I have seen friends die, seen them arrested and tortured. I have seen people languish in jail even when the courts have cleared them of alleged crimes.

I cannot agree that others do not deserve the same rights I fight for, the same rights government officials are sworn to defend.

Duterte isn’t a neophyte politician. He  has had decades as local chief to provide an alternative to instant-gratification, vigilante justice.

He offers higher wages for law enforcers. They certainly need it – like the rest of the country needs it.

But Duterte should be detailing steps needed to ensure that cops and soldiers do their job right, like trainings to lessen their use of shortcuts that then lead to lost cases.

He could list steps he’s done and will do to ensure the poor – defendants and plaintiffs – are guaranteed legal aid by efficient and honest government lawyers.

He could talk about workable rehab programs for young people who fall prey to drug abuse. He could talk about imposing harsher penalties for corrupt prosecutors who throw cases, or work with citizens’ groups to keep watch on hoodlums in robes.

It’s not that he hasn’t helped drug addicts. He has, as witnessed by  Clarisse Le Neindre, who know runs a rehab facility after recovering from addiction with Duterte’s help.

Watch Le Neindre’s testimony https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fforwardwomen2016%2Fvideos%2Fvb.1671955399731080%2F1690853824507904%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

Why then stress shortcuts as solutions to problems? Duterte is doing people a disservice by pandering to the worst of our instant gratification tendencies.

He presents the sona – the whole-scale round up of suspected addicts and community pushers – as the swift response to the scourge of drugs. That blueprint misses the fat cats who control the entry, the manufacture and the deliveries of drugs to affected areas.

Double standards, too

duterte contractualizationDuterte says poor Filipinos will come first under his presidency. He opposes contractualization.

Yet he promises to create an enclave where foreign investors can stay safe from the reach of the country’s laws.

 

He personally commits to keep them safe from inconvenient truths – like the fact that workers have the right to unionize.

For all Duterte’s talk about the poor’s right to prosper, he sees the struggle for economic rights as an enemy of development. And, indeed, in his first official campaign speech, he threatened to kill labor leaders who would not heed his “appeal” for a moratorium on union work.

He banners his credentials as a dear friend to the LGBT community. By all accounts, he treats them well.

Yet he uses the word “bakla” as an insult, a synonym for “coward”.

Some gay friends who support him say they see nothing wrong with it.

If he uses it as an adjective that reflects your self-identity, there is nothing wrong with it. If you slam others for using bakla as a slur, why is Duterte suddenly exempt from those standards? His use of the word only encourages the bitter, hateful homophobia that have harmed so many of your peers.

And then there’s rape and his attitude towards women. He and his wife have a unique relationship and I will not impose my standards of fidelity on them. I must also acknowledge that, unlike ousted president Joseph Estrada, no one has charged Duterte with stealing public funds to subsidise his womanising activities.

Davao also has many pro-women policies.

And yet, he opens his mouth and something else comes out.

Duterte recently shared this tale of criminals in detention twice grabbing hostages. The second incident involved a bunch of Christian prayer warriors, including an Australian woman who was raped and then had her throat slashed, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

Duterte used the anecdote to stress how incorrigible some criminals are and also to show his willingness to risk life for the sake of victims.

Then he debased everything that mattered. His anger towards rape was almost secondary to dismay that criminals used the woman first before the mayor did.

He was joking? Maybe. But he also used the same line earlier in his talk.

Cops who commit crimes for personal reasons deserve to be punished, he said. He made an example of a cop who kills his mistress – especially a pretty one — and implied  the mayor should have first dibs on the beauty.

It’s not the first time he used that anecdote on the hostage-taking, ending with a similar line. Watch Noemi Dado’s video at the 38:43 marker.

You can slog through the entire Duterte speech, including some moving performances by Freddie Aguilar here.

 

And this admittedly moving paean to change. Which, indeed, this country needs.

We all should be outraged that the haves in this country get away with all kinds of abuses while the rest of us suffer indignities daily.

Yes, innocent people get killed and innocent people rot in jail. Hungry people are left to starve; when they protest, they die.

We all should rage.

But in cheering for Duterte’s warped logic, in playing blind to his contradictions, we might just visit more of the same on this nation.

 

OFW behind petition to probe ‘Laglag Bala’ says scam reaps collective shame for PH


Like many overseas Filipino workers, Ednalyn Purugganan uses social media to keep in touch with her family and follow events back home.

Ednalyn with her children (in stripes and blue shirt) and their cousins). Photo courtesy of Ednalyn
Ednalyn with her children (in stripes and blue shirt) and their cousins). Photo courtesy of Ednalyn

Ednalyn’s Facebook page, one of the many millions from the world’s social media capital, is sprinkled with inspirational quotes (today, from the Dalai Lama), photos of her children, aspirational shots of the latest models of bags and shoes and, of course, selfies: Doing yoga in the mountains, playing with her employer’s huge dogs and relaxing with kin and friends.

Signing animal petitions on Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform, was the extent of her social, political advocacies. Then came Mary Jane Veloso, the hapless Filipino OFW sentenced to death by Indonesia after airport authorities there found heroin in her luggage.

Mary Jane Veloso: The power of social media partly helped her win a stay of execution.
Mary Jane Veloso: The power of social media partly helped her win a stay of execution.

Ednalyn identified with Veloso, also a mother of two. She could relate with the feelings of fear and helplessness, and having to deal with authorities of a country with a strange language and culture.

Most of all, Ednalyn says in a Facebook Messenger interview, she, too, knew the slow burn of anger when government officials treat you like a burden or a cross to bear.

All those permits, those quizzing at airports, the frustration of having to prove you are innocent and not out to break the law, of learning to swallow the slights and just focus on the tasks needed to get out to greener pastures.

The domestic worker from Lantau Island joined the 447,747 other signers — many of them Indonesians who also identified with the risks faced by migrant workers — to #SaveMaryJane. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo granted Veloso a stay of execution following dialogues with his country’s migrant rights activists.

“Ang sarap. May nagagawa din pala pag nagkakaisa.” (It’s a good feeling, knowing we can change something if we act together.)

OFWs in Hongkong active in churches. This is Ednalyn's Catholic church choir.
OFWs in Hongkong active in churches. This is Ednalyn’s Catholic church choir.

She soon settled back into her weekly routine, including singing in a Catholic Church choir and bonding with mother and sister and brother and assorted relatives, all also working in Hongkong.

“Angkan kami ng OFWs,” says Ednalyn. An uncle is in the US, an aunt in Finland; other cousins are in Canada. Many of her Facebook photos are of the clan’s children, vacationing in Hongkong during class breaks to catch up with parents who can go home only once every two years.

Ednalyn recalls seeing the first stories of “tanim bala” or “laglag bala” two months ago. The terms refer to what victims and critics say are schemes to plant a bullet or two in the bags of tourists of OFWs at the country’s premier airports. The goal: forcing them to cough up bribes or lose their places on flights bound for precious jobs.

“Mga foreigner yun.” (Those were foreigners they nabbed.)

“Naisip ko tuloy, parang nakakatakot nang umuwi ng Manila. Baka ikaw ang sunod na mabiktima. Laglag bala tapos hihingan ka.” (I got scared. Going home to Manila suddenly became a scary prospect. You might be the next victim. They’ll plant a bullet and then fleece you.)

After some victims claimed they were forced to shell out bribes, and heat was trained on the X-ray machine handlers and aviation cops, law enforcers turned to harsher tactics.

 Ednalyn felt her world fall apart with the arrest of 56-year old Gloria Ortinez, also a Hongkong-based OFW, who has served the same employer for decades.

“Kami na yan,” she points out. (She is one of us.)

Ednalyn fell back on a familiar weapon – a petition asking Senators Miriam Santiago and Grace Poe to investigate the “Laglag Bala” incidents and surface the truth.

Read: Online petition seeks probe of ‘tanim bala’ at NAIA

TOGETHER AGAIN. Children of Ednalyn's largely OFW clan visit Hongkong during holidays to catch up with parents who can only come home once every two years.
TOGETHER AGAIN. Children of Ednalyn’s largely OFW clan visit Hongkong during holidays to catch up with parents who can only come home once every two years.

“Ang batas dito sa Hong Kong napakahigpit. Walang sira ulong mag dadala ng alam nilang bawal na ikakapahamak nila. Si Nanay Gloria, 30 years nang nagtratrabaho dito sa Hong Kong at nagawa nyo paring biktimahin. Paano naman po kaming, sa mga dekada na ang inabot dito, tawag sa amin baguhan parin. “

(Hongkong has strict enforcement of laws. No one would be mad enough to even try to bring in or out something against the law. Nanay Gloria worked for 30 years here and you still managed to victimize her in the scam. What about us, who are still treated as newcomers?)

Ednalyn speaks to truth with power. Hers is an authentic voice that manages to condense in four paragraphs the angst of OFWs, called “new heroes” in the Philippines because they prop up the national economy, allowing some pressures of a social volcano to escape.

“Nagpapakahirap po kaming mag trabaho dito at pangalagaan ang pangalan namin at ang pagiging Filipino namin, para lang sirain ng mga taong walang magawa sa buhay.” (We toil here and keep our name and the reputation of the Filipino clean, just to have these torn down by people who have nothing better to do in life.)

“Dito sa Hong Kong ang liit na ng tingin ng mga tao sa Filipino, paano pa pag nalaman na ganyan ang ginagawa nila na mismong kapwa namin Filipino ang nanamantala sa amin?” (Here in Hongkong they already look down on Filipinos, how much more if they find out our compatriots are the ones exploiting us?)

Zeny, another Hongkong-based OFW, can recite almost verbatim the lines that brought her to tears.

“Lahat po kami sabik na sabik makauwi sa Pilipinas, mayakap at mahagkan man lang ang mga mahal namin sa buhay kahit sandali lang, Pero sa nangyayari, mas mabuti na daw magpakatulong, kumayod nang kumayod at magpakakuba dito makuntento nalang daw sa skype at tawag sa telepono kaysa sa kulungan ang bagsak pag uwi sa Mahal naming Bayan.”

(All of us yearn to go back home, to embrace and kiss our loved ones even just for a short time. But with these happenings, we might as well just slog it out as servants, labor until we are hunched over, falling back on Skype and phone calls because what we might end up in jail in the country we love.)

Ednalyn launched the petition on Oct. 27.  In a few days, more than 21,000 – many of them OFWs — signed the petition. The top countries according to Change.org Philippines senior campaigner Christine Roque: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, US, Singpore, Qatar, Hongkong, Canada, Australia and Kuwait.

“Tulungan nyo naman po kaming ipa-hinto ang nangyayaring modus operandi ng lag laglag bala sa NAIA. Maawa naman po sana kayo sa aming mga OFW. Di po namin pinaghihirapang alagaan ang pangalan namin para lang sirain ng mga gahaman sa isang iglap lang.”

(Please help us to stop the laglag bala scam at the NAIA. Give some mercy to OFWs. Our hard work, our clean names can vanish in an instant because of these greedy people.)

Senator Santiago has written directly to Ednalyn, saying her petition prompted her to file a resolution seeking a probe into the ‘laglag bala incidents.’ Santiago responded via a platform tool for decision makers. Ednalyn is waiting for Poe’s response.

Some fellow OFWs worry for Ednalyn, fearing she might incur the wrath of the mighty.

“Hindi ko naman iniisip na may mangyayari sa akin. Ang isip ko lang makauwi kami ng tahimik.” (I don’t think about bad things happening to me. All I think of is how we can go back home in peace.)

Ednalyn is happy with Santiago’s response and amused by complaints that her petition sounds like a campaign aid for the two women presidential contenders.

She ticks off some of the comments thrown her way: Why Grace and Miriam? Why not Bongbong Marcos as he beat them to the draw? Why didn’t you just address it to Pnoy?

Ednalyn says the elections never entered her mind. Then she points out the two women are rivals in the presidential race.

Majority of Hongkong OFWs are women and they are capable organisers and movers for advcoacies
Babae ako. Naisip ko sila because most of us OFWs here are women. I chose Miriam because of old articles that depict how she tried to help OFWs.

She is gracious with her critics. “There are many Ilocanos here, like me.” Besides, she adds, many of them eventually got around to signing the petition.

Overcoming differences for an important cause is victory, says Ednalyn.

A safe homecoming, without having to dodge vultures, is the least the government owes these modern day heroes.

**Full disclosure: The author used to be campaigns director of Change.org in the Philippines.

The INC readies to rumble


Someone called some friends to a “VERY URGENT” meeting over lunch today. The big news, shared by these excited folks, was supposedly about the beginning of the end of President Benigno Aquino III.

And the chosen hammer of justice is supposed to be … the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Photo from Net25 TV's Facebook page
Photo from Net25 TV’s Facebook page

The story goes: Today, some 200,000 members of the INC will mob the Department of Justice. Yes, a big crowd was there this afternoon. They are protesting Justice Secretary de Lima’s “selective justice.”

Word is, they will stay on and on. The plot is: that more and more people will join that crowd and then a big push to EDSA takes place on Friday till Monday.

I was stunned, silent for 30 seconds. And then I burst out laughing.

Considering the source was part of the group that promised the end of days during the EDSA anniversary last year – and barely mustered enough forces to fill the shadows of the overpass – the ambitious goal seems like a joke.

But there is nothing amusing about the plan. The INC can mobilise big numbers. It has shut down cities with medical missions alone.

Any INC-backed move should raise the hackles of all those seeking genuine democratic social change in this country.

That de Lima – and the entire Aquino government — is guilty of selective justice is nothing new. It’s TRUE.

I’ve said that before. Just look at the pork cases and how their tame pets and dirty tricks folk are kept safe from prosecution. Just look at Mamasapano and PNOY trying to coddle his best buddy Alan Purisima. Just look at all the corruption in the agriculture sector and how Sec. Prospero Alcala remains untouchable.

The list goes on and on. Yes, the government practices selective justice.

But if the INC thinks we’re going to believe its leaders and allies can give us a brand new day, they can go back to the drawing board again.

The INC is a connoisseur of power. Their leaders enjoy playing kingmakers, parlaying this role  into juicy government-post quotas for their members and allies. Plus, they’re in bed with Vice President Jejomar Binay (though they have been and are in bed with virtually any powerful politician in this country).

If there is a serious feud, it’s just another elitist squabble – especially when you add the presence of Peping and Tingting Cojuangco.

Really now, can the INC by its lonesome bring down this government? No. Even if they muster a crowd of a million, they will remain isolated until and unless they are able to galvanize a genuine mass movement.

But why would the masses – not matter how angry at PNOY – go to their aid? They are an instrument of the powerful, always have been.

So some people are trying to drop some names. Good thing the people they talk to like to verify whatever they hear. No, the broad mass movement has no truck with this stunt.

But I’d take it very seriously. As am sure Malacanang is. The INC has members who can command armed men with access to weapons. If it comes to that. The government – which has its share of thugs – will have been preparing countermoves.

It can get ugly. For them. For us. Hopefully not too much for ordinary citizens. As far as I’m concerned, they can tear each other to shreds. That would give the rest of us some breathing space.

On the other hand, conspiracy theorists are starting to whisper — that it may be a ploy to make the stumbling, blubbering Aquino government look kawawa and heroic again.

Choose your plot.

NOYNOY AQUINO : A MOUNTAIN OF LIES


President Benigno Simeon Aquino tells a gathering of "Christian leaders" that he was fooled by Special Action Forces (SAF) Director Leo Napenas. Photo by ANCAlerts
President Benigno Simeon Aquino tells a gathering of “Christian leaders” that he was fooled by Special Action Forces (SAF) Director Leo Napenas. Photo by ANCAlerts

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III snubbed the invitation of the Board of Inquiry created by the Philippine National Police. Instead, he chose to deliver his latest outrageous speech under very controlled conditions.

“Christian leaders” gathered this afternoon on the grounds of Malacanang to pray for the President’s deliverance from his critics.

This, as he added to the mountain of lies dished out since January 25, the day 44 Special Action Forces, at least 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and six civilians died in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.

His speech came just a day after the nation commemorated the 40th day of the Mamasapano deaths. His speech came a day after widows of the SAF’s Fallen 44 begged him to tell the truth, and days after a surviving SAF hero of Mamasapano said the only justice he wants is to know who allowed his comrades to die. (Read: ‘No One Asked For Coordinates’ )

Napenas, only Napenas

allan-purisima-and-pnoy-1-1What did Mr. Aquino have to say this time? That Napenas tricked him.

Just Napenas. There was very little mention of his best friend, disgraced Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.

Maraming wishful thinking si Napenas as opposed to reality. Maliwanag sa akin: binola niya ako … Sinolo ni Napenas. Siya ang nag desisyon at may times na yung desisyon niya palpak. Pag alis niya sa akin nung January 9, lumalabas ngayon na wala siyang intensyon na tuparin yung utos ko sa kanyang mag-coordinate.”

(Napenas was indulging in wishful thinking, instead of focusing on reality. It is now clear to me: he tricked me. Napenas operated as a lone wolf. He decided alone and those decisions were wrong. When he left me on January 9… I now know that he had no intention of obeying my order for him to coordinate.)

pants on fireMr. Aquino today claimed, that as early as the January 9 briefing in Bahay Pangarap, he already told Napenas that the SAF cannot deploy just 160 SAF troopers in Mamasapano to take out Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman when there were 3,000-4,000 potential hostiles in the area.

“He told me: ‘Sir, mag co-coordinate kami on jump-off.’ Sabi ko: ‘Hindi pwede yung pagkilos dapat iposisyon yung kanyon. Kailangan iposisyon yung tangke. Kailangan iposisyon yung plano, yung tao, yung gasolina at yung bala ng kanyon, yung bomba ng eroplano.” Hindi mo magagawa yan ng 30 minutes.”

(He told me, we will coordinate on jump off. I told him, you can’t do that because you need to position artillery and tanks, personnel, gasoline, ammunition and bombs from planes.)

Desperate tack

Christian leaders, led by Eddie Villanueva -- father of the head of an agency that received plenty of pork from the President -- listen to his latest defense on Mamasapano. Photo by ANCAlerts
Christian leaders, led by Eddie Villanueva — father of the head of an agency that received plenty of pork from the President — listen to his latest defense on Mamasapano. Photo by ANCAlerts

Aquino betrays his desperation with this new tack.

The Commander in Chief now presents himself as a fool, just to evade accountability for the tragedy that has torn the peace process into shreds and sent tens of thousands of Maguindanao residents escaping from clashes.

It’s exactly what the #TruthAndAccountability Network forecast in its statement last week. 

“Various officials, from the Secretary of Justice to the Senate President, have tried to downplay the President’s role. Drilon has the gall to preempt the Senate’s investigative report, insisting no blame should be ascribed to the President.”

“Misguided, misled, misinformed. While he may have been all that, we warn lawmakers: Do not shield the President. Napenas answered only to Purisima and Mr. Aquino — because the President willed it.”

Pants on Fire

Simply put, the President lied today.

The lies are so bad they fly in the face of logic.

Today’s lies also show that he lied in his earlier speeches to the nation, when he claimed not to have dabbled into operational details about Mamasapano.

You wonder how his advisers – who must have monitored everything that has gone before – allowed him to mouth off in this fashion. Anyone can access news reports of the Senate Mamasapano hearings and related incidents.

But then accounts of the President’s willfulness are legion. Mr. Aquino has always had a problem dealing with reality – other than that which exists in his mind.

The fact is, the President is scared. Very scared. And he has a lot to be scared of, starting with the fact that the men he sacrificed in Mamasapano, and the men left holding the bag of blame, refuse to be silent.

The ship of state has so many leaks. Men in uniform themselves are punching holes in the President’s tall tales.

Time on target

What the Senate did not bring to light was leaked last week: a video of Napenas, the morning after the Mamasapano clash, briefing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and a roomful of officers.

Napenas, in response to Roxas’ questions, said the President knew that coordination would be time-on-target. Did Napenas lie? If he did, so did BFF Purisima, who repeatedly defended to senators his concept of time-on-target.

  • This is the same Purisima who told Napenas not to inform PNP OIC Leonardo Espina and Roxas of the operation. He never denied Napenas’ story before the Senate.
  • This is the same Purisima who claimed the duty of informing the AFP chief of staff – and never did so.
  • This is the same Purisima who escorted Napenas to brief the President; Purisima who stayed behind for a private chat with the President, and then gave his orders to Napenas.
  • And this, by the way, was Mr. Aquino’s text mate as the Mamasapano tragedy unfolded.

Not Napenas. Only Purisima. (The President barely acknowledged Roxas’ text on the morning of January 25. And he did not bother to talk to Roxas – who shared the same Zamboanga City-bound plane – until things got so bad around noon.)

Pure Bull

The President now claims he ordered Napenas to preposition artillery and even mentions bombs from planes. That would have caused massive destruction on communities -- which did suffer from the January 25 clash. Photo by Kenneth Guda, PinoyWeekly
The President now claims he ordered Napenas to preposition artillery and even mentions bombs from planes. That would have caused massive destruction on communities — which did suffer from the January 25 clash. Photo by Kenneth Guda, PinoyWeekly

If, indeed, Mr. Aquino warned Napenas of the need to marshall all possible personnel and equipment for Mamasapano, then he lied earlier in denying any operational responsibility.

But did Mr. Aquino really play the general in advising Napenas of what was needed in an operation where the SAF could face 3,000 to 4,000 enemies?

That is pure bull.

  • Had Mr. Aquino warned Napenas of 3,000 – 4,000 enemies in Mamasapano, he would NOT have texted Purisima, asking why they left Marwan’s body behind, and then say the enemy strength was just over a dozen men.
  • Had Mr. Aquino, indeed, warned of the hordes of enemies, he would not have flayed the SAF survivors for the failure to get Basit Usman.
  • Had Mr. Aquino given the warning, Purisima would NOT have repeated again and again to the Senate, that time-on-target fantasy.
  • Had Mr. Aquino said all that, he would have tore at his hair and shred his barong during his first televised speech.

What commander in chief would ask a SAF director to initiate a powwow with the AFP chief of staff?

Had the Commander in Chief informed Napenas that thousands of enemies were waiting for the SAF, he would have at least checked with the AFP chief of staff and PNP OIC and DND secretary. (Never mind, Mar Roxas, whom he apparently blamed for Purisima’s woes.)

Killing his own legacy

Flaglets calling for Truth and Accountability during a February 25 event in front of Camp Crame.
Flaglets calling for Truth and Accountability during a February 25 event in front of Camp Crame.

Had Mr. Aquino warned of thousands of enemies, then he was was willing to risk peace talks with the MILF. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) do not have that many men in Mamasapano. Many of those thousands would have to come from the ranks of the MILF.

If Mr. Aquino ordered the prepositioning of artillery and bombs from planes, why was there no rescue of the hapless SAF? As a SAF survivor notes, they provided coordinates regularly. Every time they moved. They could have given the coordinates of the enemy had these been requested. There was no rescue until very late in the afternoon. (Read: ‘No One Asked For Coordinates) 

If the President was willing to pour fire and brimstone on the enemy, he would have told his AFP officers to bomb away. Those poor men, blamed for the deaths of the SAF, had the peace process in mind as they scotched tactics that would have scorched Mamasapano communities.

If the President was ready to sow destruction on those 3,000 to 4,000 enemies, why is he now appealing for the passage of the Bangsamoro Law? If the President was willing to bring that much destruction on the MILF, why is he asking Congress to reward them with the BBL?

(That is said with sorrow, because I truly believe the Bangsamoro deserve the right to self-determination. )

The Real Issue

Stop your lies. A message to the President from the #truthandaccountability network.
Stop your lies. A message to the President from the #truthandaccountability network.

All of Mr. Aquino’s lies are attempts to coverup the main question of accountability.

He has failed to answer this: Why did you insist on appointing a disgraced police chief to head such a sensitive operation (thousands of enemies!) with the potential to wreak death and destruction?

Purisima’s role was not limited to advise. He directed Napenas. He reported directly to Aquino during planning and as the bitter truth unfolded.

You lied, Mr. President. You deliberately created a shadow chain of command.

Spare us the old claim of having noble intentions. Even a global terrorist like Marwan is no excuse for whole-scale upending of systems aimed at defending our fragile democracy.

Shadow chains of command are the domains of tyrants and rogues. Especially when these are headed by people accused of serious crimes.

You betrayed this nation, Mr. President. Tama na, sobra na.

Ano sana ang nabili ng salaping ninakaw ng ‘baboy’?


pig1Ilang linggo nang nangingitngit ang mga Pilipino dahil sa pagnanakaw diumano ng P10 billion mula sa PDAF o pork barrel.

Dumadami na din ang nakikiisa sa mga dating opisyal ng gobyerno na nawagan sa Ombudsman na busisiin din ang  papel ng mga senador at representatives sa paglulustay nitong  pondo.

Pati si Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle ay naluha na sa business-as-usual na asta ng mga lider ng bansa.

Ilang mambabatas ang pinangalanang kasangkot sa pagbuhos ng pera sa mga ghost projects ng mga pekeng NGOs. May mga news reports na nagsasabing ang diumanong utak ng PDAF scheme na si Janet Napoles ay mahal ng mga mambabatas dahil diumano sa mga kickback na hanggang 70% ng bawat PDAF allotment.

Bagamat pinangako naman ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III na hihigpitan nila ang proseso sa pag-apruba ng mga proyekto sa ilalim ng PDAF, at ang pag-pili ng mga implementing private groups, hindi yata ito sapat sa taumbayan. Lalo nang sinabi nito na mas malala ang kaso ng P700-million agri fertilizer scam noong panahon ng dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Mahirap nga namang maunawaan. Todong nangampanya ang gobyernong Aquino para masipa ang pinakamataas na opisyal ng Supreme Court, dahil sa mga di nai-report na mga ari-arian. Ngunit nakikita itong matabang ang reaksyon sa pagkasangkot ng mga kongresista at senador — kabilang na ang mga ka-alyado ng Pangulo — sa malaking pagnanakaw.

Ibang usapin ang higpitan ang proseso. Ibang usapin naman ang pag-imbestiga sa mga kawatan o sa mga tumulong sa kawatan.

Sa maraming Pilipino, simple lang ang usapan: Ang tuwid ay daan ay patas din na daan. Sa usaping pork scam, puno ng lubak at  bukas na manhole ang daan.

Kung nagtataka pa ang Pangulo at mga nasa paligid nya sa ngitngit ng sambayanan, siguro makakatulong ang pag-lista ng kung ano ang katumbas ng ninakaw ng pondo.

Medyo mahirap nga naman ma-imagine ang P10 billion, kaya tutulong tayo. Kung meron kayong dagdag na ehemplo, pakilagay na din sa comment box.

(Update)

Sa Twitter, nag-tanong si @jematoms4h:

ilang school armchairs ang mabibili ng 10B para walang nag-aagawan at nagpapatayang mga bata para sa upuan? #porkbarrelscam

Nagsimula yun sa pagmuni-muni ko, pagkatapos mabasa ang balitang pinauuwi na ng Department of Foreign Affairs ang mga Pilipino sa Egypt, pero voluntary lang daw muna:

Ilang distressed OFWs ang maibabalik sa bansa ng P10-B diverted pork barrel funds?

At habang nagagalit ang taumbayan, ito naman ang patutsada ni Sen. Jinggoy Estrada na una nang pinakitang nakikipag-party kay Napoles at isa sa mga senador na nagbigay ng malaki sa mga ghost NGOs.

We’re not obliged to check NGOs getting pork

Nakakbuang yata ito. Kasama sa obligasyon ng isang senador ang bulatlatin ang mga iba’t-ibang anomalya ng gobyerno. Kasama din ng kapangyarihan nya na mag-desisyon kung saan pumunta ang pera ng taumbayan. Tapos ngayon, sasabihin ng isa sa kanilang wala siyang pakialam kung nag-endorse sya ng kawatan?

ILANG BAHAY?

Core shelters in Ahuy, Iloilo province. Photo from iloilocapitolnewsfiles.com
Core shelters in Ahuy, Iloilo province. Photo from iloilocapitolnewsfiles.com

100,000 na bagong bahay o core shelters ang maitatayo sa mga relocation sites kung susundin ang estimate ng Gawad Kalinga na P100,000 bawat bahay (P110,000 sa ibang lugar).

Panay ang relokasyon ngayon ng mga informal settlers. Kadalasan ang problema, wala namang nakahandang mga bahay para sa kanila.

Ang perang nawawala ay makakapaglipat sana ng 100,000 na pamilya. O di kaya nagamit ito sa paglalagay ng patubigan at kuryente sa mga relocation sites.

PAGKAIN PARA SA MGA BAKWIT

Magkano ang halaga ng isang food pack na pinamumudmod ng DSWD sa tuwing may kalamidad o kapag may gerang pumutok at naging sanhi ng paglilikas ng isang komunidad?

Kadalasan may 2 kilong bigas, may ilang de lata, may sabon, shampoo, toothbrush at toothpaste, kumot at ilang damit. Sabihin pang P500 ang bawat isa (at sigurado akong di aabot dito ang halaga), makakabili ang gobyerno ng 20 million na food pack.

Isipin nyo ito sa sunod na makita nyo ang mga bakwit na nagdadaing dahil di sila naabutan ng pagkain.

BUNKHOUSE PARA SA BAKWIT

Labuyo devastates Aurora province. Photo from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Labuyo devastates Aurora province. Photo from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Ito ang lagay ngayon ng ilang bayan sa Aurora province pagkatapos sumalakay si Bagyong Labuyo nung nakaraang linggo. Sa panahon ni Bagyong Pablo, ubos talaga ang buong bayan ng Cateel. Pati ang evacuation center ay giniba ng bagyo. Walang masilungan ang mga tao. Kinakailangan ng agarang matirahan.

Ilang bunkhouse ang maaring itayo sa perang ninakaw ng baboy?

Ayon sa DSWD, ang halaga ng isang bunkhouse sa Compostela Valley ay P70,000.  Halos 143,000 na bunkhouses ang pwedeng maitayo sa P10 billion.

GAMOT SA TB

Anti-TB drugs. Photo from abs-cbnnews.com
Anti-TB drugs. Photo from abs-cbnnews.com

100,000 TB treatment course ang maaring mabili ng ninakaw na pondo.

Ayon sa World Health Organization ang buong gastusin sa pag-papagaling ng isang pasyenteng may TB ay US$3613 noong 2012.

Mababa ang presyo ng gamot laban sa TB.

Pero karamihan ng pasyente ay nangangailangan ng mga mamahaling antibiotic para malunasan ang malalang infection sa baga at ibang parte ng katawan na kadalasang sumasabay sa TB.

Kailangan din ng bitamina para sa mga pasyente. At dahil pahinga ang isang mahalagang parte ng solusyon, at kadalasan ang kailangan ding mabigyan ng gamot ang ibang myembro ng pamilya, mahalaga ang direktang ayuda.

Ang TB ay isang madaling magamot na sakit. Pero dahil sa komplikasyon na dulot ng kahirapan, pang anim sya sa pinakamadalas na dahilan ng kamatayan.

Sa bawat araw, 73 na Pilipino ang namamatay nang dahil sa TB and mula 200,000 hanggang 600,000 ang nasa listahan ng may active o nakakahawang TB.

DIREKTANG AYUDA

28,248 na pamilya sa Metro Manila ang mabibigyan ng isang taong cost of living na gastusin kung ibabase sa P971 na datos na binigay ng National Labor Commission noon pang 2008.

Ibang usapin pa ang katotohanang halos kalahati lang ng cost of living ang minimum wage sa NCR — at halos kalahati din lang ng mga kumpanya ang sumusunod sa minimum wage. Pero isipin mo na lang. Ang isang mahirap na tao na wala halos maipapakita sa kasipagan nya ay siguradong magagalit sa paglulustay ng pera ng bayan.

CLASSROOM

Mga core classroom sa Cordillera Autonomous Region. Photo from DepEd CAR
Mga core classroom sa Cordillera Autonomous Region. Photo from DepEd CAR

Ayon sa mga datos na galing sa Department of Education, ang isang maayos na classroom ay nagkakahalaga ng P600,000. Mahigit 16,600 na classroom ang magagawa ng P10 billion o halos 25% ng kinakailangang 66.800 na classroom.

Taon-taon na lang nagmamakaawa ang gobyernong tulungang mapunuan ang kakulangan sa classroom. Eh ang mga taga-pasa ng badyet ng bayan ang mismong tumulong sa pagtangay ng pondo ng sambayanan.

Sa susunod na mag-sermon laban sa korupsyon ang ilang banal na tao, sagutin nyo na lang… anong ginawa mo sa tinangay ng baboy?

Who’s afraid of Rico Puno? (Sins of Omission) w Updates


President Aquino swears in Rico Puno as Undersecretary for Peace and Order of the Department of Interior and Local Government. (Photo courtesy of Harvey Keh’s website)

Dedma best describes official attitude towards Undersecretary Rico Puno of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Dedma is pretending a problem doesn’t exist, in the hope that it goes away. That’s how the administration of President Benigno Aquino III reacts when controversy hounds Puno. The guy has been untouchable since the day his gun-shooting buddy swore him into office. No way one goes around that. The latest incident involving the country’s Undersecretary for Peace and Order (that is NOT a joke) goes beyond the realm of high jinks and skirts the territory of crime. The President can’t ignore this, especially since the “victim” isn’t just the man he’s supposed to be “emotionally attached” to; it’s the government itself and the foundations of tuwid na daan 

Tweet courtesy of Coco Alcuaz, of ANC

WHY THE RUSH?

Page from a a condo bldg logbook showing Usec Rico Puno and his men’s attempt to enter the residence of the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo the day after his death in a plane crash. (photo courtesy of TV Patrol and abs-cbnnews.com)

In Anthony Taberna’s exclusive report for ABS-CBN, witnesses and documents — logbooks of buildings — show that Puno and several companions tried to enter the offices AND the Quezon City RESIDENCE of the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo on August 19.

This was was  less than 24 hours after Robredo and two pilots died in a plane crash off Masbate island. The Robredo family help reported the attempt to his widow, Leni. It must have been terrible; Leni and her children were still awaiting word on the fate of Jesse. As Sec. Mar Roxas stressed, it was still a rescue operation. And yet Puno was already snooping around like a vulture.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who stayed with the Robredo family as they awaited news of Jesse, confirmed that phone call. Napolcom vice chair Eduardo Escueta also verified the attempt to enter Robredo’s Napolcom office.

(Update) Mrs. Robredo has since confirmed the report. De Lima reiterates being asked by Mrs. Robredo to secure the documents — but now says she knows nothing about the raid.

 

 

Based on Taberna’s report, the operation was classic Puno: equal levels of confidence and incompetence. In the parallel reality called Punoverse, people must be really guillible and dugo-dugogangs reign supreme. It could be funny in a B-movie villain kind of way. Except when the context sinks in. Taberna’s source says President Aquino knew of the incident. He sent his Presidential Security Group (PSG) to stand guard over Robredo’s offices. Mrs. Robredo requested Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, among her husband’s close friends in the Cabinet, to secure his personal papers. I remember the flurry of activity around that time. Tempers heated up when journalists were barred from interviewing aides and officials who could explain the presence of the PSG. De Lima explained about Leni’s request, but not the reason for the urgency. Taberna’s sources claim Robredo had been investigating Puno when his plane crashed.

Two weeks before the crash, Robredo allegedly informed the President of the investigation.

This makes the glaring omission more serious. And since even after the President announced Roxas as Robredo’s successor, Puno has been riding high:

The President has remained silent. And we don’t know what to make of all this. Surely he’s not waiting for the two factions in his Cabinet — “Balay” under Roxas and “Samar” under Vice President Jejomar Binay and Ochoa — to go to war and see who survives to take the spoils? This isn’t just about internal squabbling. This is about accountability. The President must tell the public whether or not Robredo had informed him of the investigation into Puno. Otherwise those conspiracy theories that spread in the days following the crash could flare up again. Maybe due process prevented the President from sidelining Puno after learning of the Robredo probe. But for Puno  to remain in place even after his aborted attempts to raid Robredo’s papers, calls into question the government’s commitment to tuwid na dawn. There doesn’t seem any doubt about Puno’s August 19 activity. It comes very close to obstruction of justice, generally recognized as criminal efforts to interfere  with the work of police, investigators, regulatory agencies, prosecutors etc. In the Philippine context, obstruction of justice includes this:

b. Altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases.

The possibility of obstruction of justice is among the reasons allowed in preventive suspension. This reviewer on public officers by Atty. Edwin Sandoval, states:

Imposed during the pendency of an administrative investigation, preventive suspension is not a penalty in itself.  It is merely a measure of precaution so that the employee who is charged may be separated, for obvious reasons, from the scene of his alleged misfeasance while the same is being investigated.  Thus preventive suspension is distinct from the administrative penalty of removal from office such as the one mentioned in Sec. 8(d) of P.D. No. 807.  While the former may be imposed on a respondent during the investigation of the charges against him, the latter is the penalty which may only be meted upon him at the termination of the investigation or the final disposition of the case.  (Beja, Sr. v. CA, 207 SCRA 689, March 31, 1992 [Romero])

Sandoval underscores:

Preventive suspension pending investigation is not a penalty.  It is a measure intended to enable the disciplining authority to investigate charges against respondent by preventing the latter from intimidating or in any way influencing witnesses against him.  If the investigation is not finished and a decision is not rendered within that period, the suspension will be lifted and the respondent will automatically be reinstated.  If after investigation respondent is found innocent of the charges and is exonerated, he should be reinstated.  However, no compensation was due for the period of preventive suspension pending investigation.  The Civil Service Act of 1959(R.A. No. 2260) providing for compensation in such a case once the respondent was exonerated was revised in 1975 and the provision on the payment of salaries during suspension was deleted.

UNTOUCHABLE? Puno’s confidence probably isn’t misplaced. Filipinos learned during the Quirino hostage crisis, just how Robredo had been sidelined. (Jesse said he was “out of the loop” during the hostage crisis). Puno was there, as head of the national crisis committee. But the fact-finding body created by Mr. Aquino absolved him of any wrong-doing — because he wasn’t supposed to head that committee. This is what it said:

National or Local Crisis

The authorities considered the crisis a local crisis and therefore handled by the local CMC of Manila.  The basic parameter being that the locality where the crisis is occurring will determine which CMC has jurisdiction.  Thus, the crisis was handled by Mayor Lim as the Chairperson of the Manila CMC.  It appeared that at no point was the elevation to the status as a national crisis considered even while practically all the hostages were foreign nationals and even while representatives from foreign embassies or consular offices were already involved. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on Crisis Situations does not have clear parameters on when, or under what circumstances, should a crisis be elevated to national status. It is also not clear as to which agency, or who in the bureaucracy, will initiate the elevation of the crisis to national status.  Will it be by endorsement or initiative of the local CMC or will the elevation be through a “take over process” initiated by the national agency concerned? It is also not clear on what is the scope of the authority of the CMC.  Is it advisory or does it make a decision based on consensus of the members of the CMC which decision is then to be implemented by the Ground Commander?

Undersecretary Rico E. Puno

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno revealed that he was the caretaker of the national crisis management committee, and that the local crisis committee was headed by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, although Puno said that he did not receive any order activating the local CMC.  During the entire course of the hostage incident, he admitted getting in touch with the local CMC three to four times only. Usec. Puno cannot and should not have acted as “caretaker” of the national crisis committee because the rule provides for the following organizational structure to which his position as Undersecretary is not found… It is the conclusion of the Committee that, the improper assumption by Usec. Puno of the functions of the Secretary of DILG as the chairman of the National Crisis Committee, in the light of his admitted lack of training and experience, may have compromised the readiness of the national CMC to take over the responsibility when it became apparent that the local CMC could not properly handle the hostage situation. That readiness could have been the immediate answer to the worsening situation. Puno’s failure to call upon the other members of the national CMC to be on standby reflects this lack of capacity. While he may have good intentions, rules must still be followed, and the organizational structure of the national CMC must be maintained. (boldfont mine)

Which makes you wonder about the legal minds who gave Puno that power and why the Palace never acknowledged that it had erred in giving Puno that power. Jueteng Malacanang was quick to defend Puno in the Quirino hostage crisis aftermath, as quick as they sniffed with disdain at Robredo.

Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said Puno has the experience and skill to oversee various agencies under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) such as the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Philippine Public Safety College…. Coloma said critics who question Puno’s leadership skills should “justify their claim”.

Mr. Aquino himself personally defended Puno and then Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa, as on old scarredcat  post notes:

In the aftermath of the hostage crisis, Mr. Aquino spoke scathingly in public of local police officials who botched the rescue of Hong Kong tourists. But he defended Puno, who had claimed to have been his eyes and ears, and Verzosa, who had left Manila just before the standoff entered its bloody end-phase. Of Puno and Verzosa, Mr. Aquino said their big contributions to his anti-corruption campaign should be given weight rather than the lone debacle of the hostage crisis. Yet the Ombudsman has charged Verzosa’s wife among those who illegally tried to bring personal funds to Europe during an October 2008 Interpol congress in Russia. Given the Ombudsman’s charges, the testimony of Verzosa before a Senate inquiry, that the 105 euros (P6.5 million) were from the police vaults, merited new scrutiny. Yet on this and other controversial issues, Mr. Aquino has remained mum.

The hostage crisis was followed by an even more sordid event, involving links to illegal gambling lords. In a Senate probe of jueteng operations in the country, Puno (who had been named by a bishop as among the alleged protectors of jueteng lords) admitted talking to jueteng lords’ emissaries — his friendsHere’s another scarrecat post around that time

What does it say of the DILG executive that he was approached by jueteng emissaries and never even bothered to file a written report? This sin of omission becomes even more glaring when put in the context of an August 10, 2010 letter by his boss, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, asking about persistent reports that he and (just retired) national police chief Jesus Versoza – now vacationing abroad – were on a jueteng payroll.

Puno’s memory was so faulty he even forgot to remember Robredo was nominally his boss:

He admitted receipt of the letter. He also said he did not give it the time of day, seeing it as part of a plot by detractors. “Hindi ko pinansin, eh. Dahil hindi naman ako involved, eh. Sigurado naman akong black ops yan. Eh hindi ko sila kailangan kausapin. Malinis ang kunsensya ko. Hindi ko kailangan na habulin pa yan o imbestigahan dahil alam ko na ang kulay nila.” (I didn’t give it my attention since I am not involved. It’s a black operation. I do not need to talk to them. My conscience is clear. I don’t need to hear their side because I know their color.) This is breathtaking in its illogic and irresponsibility. Critics will always be around. In refusing to even acknowledge a letter and order by his superior, just because he believes it is part of some vague, obscure plot, Puno sounds more like a Cabinet official of the former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo than a very dear friend and trusted aide of the man who told the nation, “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap!” (Without corruption, there will be no poverty.)

photo courtesy of wn.com

We will not know, until the government offers information, just what Robredo was probing. Some newspapers have claimed it was jueteng. Other newspapers say Roxas has mentioned Puno in the same breath as jueteng. I only know that the government cannot afford to pretend that the events of August 19 did not occur or pretend Puno had no involvement. Puno isn’t just anyone. He is one of the President’s most trusted friends.

Here is Puno’s background:

Puno’s curriculum vitae, which the Presidential Communications Office gave to journalists, shows that the DILG deputy chief was a “long-time consultant” of then-Senator Benigno Aquino III in the upper chamber’s Committee on Public Order and Safety and Dangerous Drugs and Special Oversight on Economic Affairs body. According to the document, Puno “reviewed and analyzed the pertinent laws and polices of the Dangerous Drugs Board,” and advised Aquino in the Senate Committee on Public Order and Safety. He also served as the “overall ground commander” in Aquino’s 2007 senatorial campaign. Puno was president of Far East Ballistics Corporation from 1992 to 1995, where “he implemented polices for improvement and development in the production of ammunition.” He was also board member of the National Range Officers Institute at Philippine Practical Shooting Association, and was involved in the staging of shooting competitions in the country and abroad.

My 2010 post on jueteng ended with a question: Does Mr. Puno realize what his statements say of Mr. Aquino? Does he even care? Today, we have to ask the President: Sir, do you realize what silence in the face of Puno’s actions says?  UPDATE A follow up report has Leni Robredo confirming the attempt to enter their QC residence:  Verbatim from abs-cbnnews.com: “Totoo yon na yung kasambahay namin sa Manila, siya lang yung naiwan sa bahay dahil umuwi yung mga anak ko. Tumawag ng Augsut 19 nagsasabing may mga tao, hindi niya sinabi kung sino, may mga taong gustong pumasok at may hinihingi na mga papeles. Parang nagtatanong siya sa akin kung papapasukin niya. Ang sabi ko hindi,” she recalled. “Tamang-tama katabi ko si [Social Welfare] Secretary Dinky [Soliman]. Nagpatulong na ako at ipinaubaya ko na kay Secretary Dinky yung pag-asikaso ng problema. Until now, hindi ko pa nababalikan,” she added. Robredo said she also asked the help of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who later secured documents at the condo unit. “Kung may sensitive documents dun, hindi magiging secure ang mga tao dun kung babalik-balikan sila,” she said.

And here’s De Lima claiming she knows nothing about the raid, again verbatim from abs-cbn.com

“I don’t have that report… I’m not in the position to confirm anything on that… I’m just heeding the request of Mrs. Robredo to secure documents na meron sa condo. Magtatanong tanong lang muna ako siguro about that. Sa mga ganyang report na may pumunta doon, I’m not privy to that,” De Lima said.

De Lima added that she has no idea about what documents Puno’s group was reportedly attempting to obtain. She added that the matter is not under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Justice (DOJ), thus, any probe into the reported attempted raid will not involve the department.

An ABS-CBN News source bared the documents may have pertained to an ongoing investigation Robredo was conducting on Puno and several Philippine National Police (PNP) officials.

The NEW SALN (Catch them if you can)


DO you want more transparency in government? Do you want to unmask corrupt officials? Implementation this year of  new requirements in state workers’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) could improve transparency and accountability in government service.

Sleuths out to discover the dirty fruits of dirty deeds will have an easier time poring over the new SALN approved by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in July 2011.  The new SALN will be used for year 2011. The deadline for filing is on April 2012.

The major changes are:

  • Inclusion of the spouse’s properties, including that paraphernal type –meaning property one brings to the marriage or acquires even after marriage, especially inheritance — and that of children below 18 years of age living in the filer’s household.
  • The use of acquisition cost for computation purposes. While all assets of minor children and the spouse should be listed, these will be excluded from computation. Also excluded is a spouse’s exclusive property if he/she files a separate SALN. (Insert)
  • Filers must now list GROSS INCOME from all sources and not just list down financial or business interests.
  • Filers must also submit personal and family expenses for the year, to include education and health costs, and the cost of vacations and other travel and big-ticket expenditures.
  • They must also submit ALL TAXES paid on all income/earningS whether through sale of properties, dividends, honorarium or regular income

    New SALN form portion for Assets

LESSONS

While a study of revisions in the SALN form had been ordered in 2010, what spurred greater change was the Sandiganbayan dismissal of plunder raps against retired Armed Forces Comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Retired Maj Gen Carlos Garcia

In a telephone interview, CSC Director for Legal Services Ariel Ronquillo said the old SALN form did not require Garcia to list properties belonging to his spouse.

“That was the defect of the old form, pwede talagang mapaglaruan,” Ronquillo said. “You could not use it to detect graft and corruption or detect lifestyle anomalies.”

Now, with the portion on family expenses, it will be easier for probers to detect if a filer is lying about lifestyle.

“It will encourage everybody to be transparent about their assets and discourage corruption anomalies. This form can serve as evidence,” Ronquillo added.

The most important change, however, is the inclusion of tax payments in the SALN.

Ronquillo said it would make it easier to check for false declaration, whether for acquisition cost or income/profit from a business transaction.

The prosecution panel in the on-going impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renator Corona has asked Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to submit the income tax return of the country’s highest judge, his wife and children. The prosecution is trying to prove that Corona was not honest in his SALN declarations. It has accused the Chief Justice of withholding several properties from his SALN. Prosecution lawyers hope Henares could validate their claims.

New SALN form: income, expenses and taxes

‘HARMONIZING’ LAWS

“We did not reinvent the wheel,” Ronquillo stressed. He pointed out that Republic Act 3019, or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act of 1960, already mandated the inclusion of all incomes and expenses and taxes in the SALNs of government.

RA 3019 provision on SALN

The CSC studied RA 3019 and RA 6713, which amended it.

Ronquillo said conventional wisdom presumed RA 6713 revised the requirements of the SALN.

“Our study shows there was no revision. The new law never repealed this section. What we did was to harmonize the two laws.”

The CSC had earlier drafted a baseline form, a one-time document, and an annual declaration, but eventually scrapped these. The new form, Ronquillo said, is more “filer-friendly.”

One concern is the disclosure of taxes, which could give officials some security nightmares.

But Ronquillo said, “I do not know why you should hide or conceal the amount of taxes you pay. Why not be transparent and accurate? It’s best for the country.”

Will scalawags in government be afraid of the new SALN? Maybe not, if they’ve enjoyed impunity for decades. But it could make the job of catching them easier.

This is the new SALN form. http://excell.csc.gov.ph/FORMS/revised_SALNform.pdf Here is the old form. http://www.customs.gov.ph/references/CMC%2047-2011.pdf