PDAF FATIGUE: SENATE IS URGED TO STOP NAPOLES SCAM PROBE AND MOVE ON

At least three senators have called for an end to the hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on the pork barrel scam, saying it has more than enough information to come up with a conclusion. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the public is already suffering from “PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) fatigue” so it is about time the committee move on to other issues. “The logical step is to proceed to the other NGOs (non-government organizations) not related to (suspected pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim) Napoles. We have already obtained enough information to tell us how the scam was done,” Santiago said. Santiago was referring to the special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) where more than 70 other NGOs apart from those linked to Napoles were also found to have some irregularities on the use of the PDAF of legislators from 2007 to 2009. “We should stop the Napoles aspect and go to the non-Napoles aspect of the case that will also answer the complaint of Senator (Jinggoy) Estrada that the administration is focusing on the three of them alone,” she said. Estrada and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile became the central figures in the pork barrel scam issue because of their repeated use of Napoles’ NGOs as conduits for their PDAF projects. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said all of the key witnesses in the pork barrel scam have been heard and the public has given their opinion on the matter, so it is time to allow the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan to do their job.

ALSO: Arrest invalid, PNP tried releasing Delfin Lee – housing official

The Philippine National Police (PNP) tried to release real estate magnate Delfin Lee after he was arrested more than a week ago, a top official of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) said. HUDCC Deputy Secretary General and Assistant Secretary Daniel Subido said it is unthinkable for the PNP to even consider freeing Lee based merely on his lawyer’s claim that the warrant of arrest was invalid. “Clearly there must have been influential people that worked on the actual delisting of Mr. Lee from the Warrant of Arrest Information System and pressured the PNP to cause Mr. Lee’s release despite the existence of a valid Warrant of Arrest,” Subido said in his report to Vice President Jejomar Binay. Binay, chairman of the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) Board of Trustees, ordered the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Lee in December 2010.
Subido said Binay asked him to go to Camp Crame immediately after Lee’s arrest to ensure proper procedures were followed in arresting and detaining the Globe Asiatique president. Binay issued the directive to Subido after receiving a report that “influential people” were pressuring PNP officials to release Lee. “When I arrived (at) Camp Crame, I was surprised that PNP officers were discussing the validity of Mr. Lee’s arrest based on the mere representations made and documents presented by his lawyer,” Subido said in his report. According to the PNP officers, the lawyer presented documents purporting that the warrant has been quashed, recalled and lifted, and that the PNP was instructed not to carry out the arrest, he added. Subido said he explained to the police officials that the warrant was valid and existing because only the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga, which issued the warrant, could quash, recall, or lift it.

ALSO: Officer who led Delfin Lee arrest 'relieved'

He insisted he was happy, but his eyes and demeanor spoke volumes about how he really felt. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, March 13, former Task Force Tugis head Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa could not hide his disappointment. Capa was relieved of his post in the task force barely a week after the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested controversial businessman Delfin Lee. Capa would have to pack his bags for a post in Cebu as PNP Deputy Regional Director for Operations, a "promotion" that he apparently did not expect. "Wala pang isang linggo e tapos kagabi, natanggap ko 'yung orders ko. Anong nangyari? Hindi ko alam....Hindi pa tapos ang final report, na-relieve na ako," he said. (It's been barely a week after the arrest but last night I got my orders. What happened? I don't know....I was relieved even before I could finish the final report.)  Chief PNP Director General Alan Purisima announced Capa's relief from the task force in a press conference that day. He said Capa was "long overdue" for a promotion. "The reason for relief is a promotion. He has to occupy a position where he can be projected as general in the future," Purisima said. Capa hesitated for a few seconds before acknowledging the promotion as a "reward," when asked by reporters. Capa said he was surprised by the public announcement of his relief and reassignment. PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac informed reporters about Capa's move to Cebu minutes before a scheduled press conference with Purisima.

ALSO: Capa’s transfer a promotion, Palace insists

It’s a reward, nothing more, nothing less. As far as Malacañang is concerned, the transfer to Cebu of Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, former head of the police unit that arrested fugitive real estate magnate Delfin Lee, was a promotion and not a demotion as he had complained. “I understand that the PNP (Philippine National Police) chief explained it already that moving Capa to be the number three (man) in Region 7 is actually the path to promotion,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told state-run PTV-4 yesterday. “Perhaps there were just some things that were not communicated immediately, but we trust that this matter will be resolved the soonest,” she said, referring to Capa who headed Task Force Tugis that was responsible for Lee’s arrest last week. PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima relieved Capa last Thursday or exactly one week after the police unit arrested Lee, president of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. Lee was arrested last March 6 by elements of Task Force Tugis at the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Ermita, Manila by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the San Fernando, Pampanga regional trial court (RTC) Branch 42 in connection with the Pag-IBIG housing loan scam where Lee allegedly used “ghost borrowers” for Globe Asiatique’s housing projects. Lee had been a fugitive since the RTC ordered his arrest in 2011.

Noy absolves ally over Delfin Lee case

The controversial phone call of Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali to the Philippine National Police (PNP) has touched on a range of ethical issues at the center of Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee’s arrest. But President Aquino hurriedly absolved his political ally of any wrongdoing amid reports that Umali tried to block the arrest of the fugitive businessman. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, at a press briefing, yesterday said the President immediately texted Umali, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), to confirm if reports about his call were true. Umali explained that he made the phone call upon the request of Lee’s lawyer, Gilbert Repizo, who knows Umali personally. “Governor Umali called PNP Chief Purisima and Purisima informed Umali that the warrant of arrest against Delfin Lee was still outstanding. Therefore, that was the end of their conversation,” Lacierda said. “Governor Umali explained to the President and the President was satisfied with the explanation,” he added.” The Palace official told the media that which he said was only second-hand information about what had transpired in the alleged attempt to harbor an arrested fugitive.


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Senate urged: Stop Napoles scam probe

MANILA, MARCH 17, 2014 (PHILSTAR) At least three senators have called for an end to the hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on the pork barrel scam, saying it has more than enough information to come up with a conclusion.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the public is already suffering from “PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) fatigue” so it is about time the committee move on to other issues.

“The logical step is to proceed to the other NGOs (non-government organizations) not related to (suspected pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim) Napoles. We have already obtained enough information to tell us how the scam was done,” Santiago said.

Santiago was referring to the special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) where more than 70 other NGOs apart from those linked to Napoles were also found to have some irregularities on the use of the PDAF of legislators from 2007 to 2009.

“We should stop the Napoles aspect and go to the non-Napoles aspect of the case that will also answer the complaint of Senator (Jinggoy) Estrada that the administration is focusing on the three of them alone,” she said.

Estrada and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile became the central figures in the pork barrel scam issue because of their repeated use of Napoles’ NGOs as conduits for their PDAF projects.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said all of the key witnesses in the pork barrel scam have been heard and the public has given their opinion on the matter, so it is time to allow the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan to do their job.

As far as the Blue Ribbon committee’s hearing is concerned, Trillanes said the legislative remedy has been incorporated in the 2014 General Appropriations Act where the PDAF has been abolished and proper safeguards on the use of public funds have been introduced.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III to end the hearings.

He suggested the committee should move on to probe the Malampaya fund scam, which also involved Napoles.

Cayetano said Guingona should communicate with Estrada, Revilla and Enrile to get their inputs on the probe if they want to.

Guingona has done this through letters sent to the senators concerned.

FROM MANILA TIMES

PNP considered releasing Delfin Lee – housing official
March 16, 2014 4:36 pm



The Philippine National Police (PNP) tried to release real estate magnate Delfin Lee after he was arrested more than a week ago, a top official of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) said.

HUDCC Deputy Secretary General and Assistant Secretary Daniel Subido said it is unthinkable for the PNP to even consider freeing Lee based merely on his lawyer’s claim that the warrant of arrest was invalid.

“Clearly there must have been influential people that worked on the actual delisting of Mr. Lee from the Warrant of Arrest Information System and pressured the PNP to cause Mr. Lee’s release despite the existence of a valid Warrant of Arrest,” Subido said in his report to Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Binay, chairman of the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) Board of Trustees, ordered the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Lee in December 2010.

Subido said Binay asked him to go to Camp Crame immediately after Lee’s arrest to ensure proper procedures were followed in arresting and detaining the Globe Asiatique president.

Binay issued the directive to Subido after receiving a report that “influential people” were pressuring PNP officials to release Lee.

“When I arrived (at) Camp Crame, I was surprised that PNP officers were discussing the validity of Mr. Lee’s arrest based on the mere representations made and documents presented by his lawyer,” Subido said in his report.

According to the PNP officers, the lawyer presented documents purporting that the warrant has been quashed, recalled and lifted, and that the PNP was instructed not to carry out the arrest, he added.

Subido said he explained to the police officials that the warrant was valid and existing because only the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga, which issued the warrant, could quash, recall, or lift it.

He said Sr. Supt. Conrad Capa, the head of Task Force Tugis, assured him that the task force checked with the Pampanga court and found that the warrant was still valid despite a November 7, 2013 ruling of the Court of Appeals lifting it.

The PNP had no authority to decide on the validity of the warrant, Subido said, adding: “Such a determination is the sole jurisdiction and discretion of the courts.”

“The circumstances that transpired immediately after the arrest of Mr. Lee coupled by the certification, memo and letters showing the delisting of Mr. Lee from the database of outstanding arrest warrants and ordering to enjoin the implementation of the arrest warrant against him previously issued by the PNP only show that influential people indeed pressured the PNP to favor Mr. Lee,” he said.

Subido recommended that Pag-IBIG formally commend Capa and Task Force Tugis for their “integrity and fortitude in apprehending and detaining Mr. Lee despite the pressure received from influential people.”

The Supreme Court has upheld the warrant, nullifying the Court of Appeals’ earlier order.

The High Court’s order also stopped the appellate court from implementing its resolution clearing Lee of the charges of syndicated estafa.

Sen. Nancy Binay, the Vice President’s daughter, is seeking a Senate investigation into the alleged delisting of Lee from the PNP’s “Most Wanted Persons List.”

Lee was charged for allegedly using fake documents and non-existent borrowers, who supposedly bought homes in Globe Asiatique’s housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga, to secure some P6.6 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG.RITCHIE A. HORARIO

FROM RAPPLER.COMN

Officer who led Delfin Lee arrest 'relieved' BY BEA CUPIN POSTED ON 03/13/2014 2:25 PM | UPDATED 03/13/2014 11:19 PM
 


MOVED. Barely a week after the arrest of wanted businessman Delfin Lee, Senior Supt Conrad Capa is "relieved" and reassigned to the Cebu Regional Office. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – He insisted he was happy, but his eyes and demeanor spoke volumes about how he really felt.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, March 13, former Task Force Tugis head Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa could not hide his disappointment. Capa was relieved of his post in the task force barely a week after the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested controversial businessman Delfin Lee.

Capa would have to pack his bags for a post in Cebu as PNP Deputy Regional Director for Operations, a "promotion" that he apparently did not expect.

"Wala pang isang linggo e tapos kagabi, natanggap ko 'yung orders ko. Anong nangyari? Hindi ko alam....Hindi pa tapos ang final report, na-relieve na ako," he said. (It's been barely a week after the arrest but last night I got my orders. What happened? I don't know....I was relieved even before I could finish the final report.)

Chief PNP Director General Alan Purisima announced Capa's relief from the task force in a press conference that day. He said Capa was "long overdue" for a promotion.

"The reason for relief is a promotion. He has to occupy a position where he can be projected as general in the future," Purisima said.

Capa hesitated for a few seconds before acknowledging the promotion as a "reward," when asked by reporters.

Capa said he was surprised by the public announcement of his relief and reassignment. PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac informed reporters about Capa's move to Cebu minutes before a scheduled press conference with Purisima.

As Deputy Regional Director for Operations, Capa is one rank away from being a star officer. "When I go to Cebu, I will be number 3 [in the regional office]. Then I will wait until the number 2 goes somewhere or gets promoted again," he said.

Task Force Tugis is a special group directly under the Office of the Chief PNP, and is not part of the PNP's "table of organization," said Capa. The Task Force's sole goal is to apprehend the PNP's "most wanted," and Lee is its first arrest since it was established mid-2013.

The task force has 4 more people to run after: former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan, and former Dinagat representative Ruben Ecleo.

Frustration, low morale?

The move to Cebu was something that took Capa by surprise. Asked if he was demoralized, Capa shook his head. "[I'm] frustrated, but that's just me," he said.

"Maganda yung momentum. 'Yung mga bata ko parang excited. Kasi 'yung mga team, meron silang friendly competition. Inspired, in other words," Capa added. (We had the momentum, my operatives were excited. It's because the teams have friendly competition.)

Capa refused to answer when pressed on why he felt frustrated, only saying that "it's personal."

Capa and Purisima go a long way. According to Capa, he worked with Purisima in Region 3 and the National Capital Region.

"I think siguro ito yung plinano niya sa akin, etong road na ito," said Capa, referring to his sudden promotion. (Maybe this is Purisima's plan for me, this road I'm taking.)

Purisima earlier told reporters that the Task Force would function perfectly with or without Capa. "Capa is not Task Force Tugis," said Purisima.

Capa, who has years of experience in intelligence operations, belittled speculation that Purisima was undermining his role in the capture of Lee. "Of course, mas magaling 'yung darating dito. Magfufunction naman ito," Capa said. (There will be better people to head the Task Force. It will continue to function.)

Capa and Purisima were expected to meet later that day.

Why Cebu?

Capa's move to Cebu is surrounded by speculation. Was it because of the operation on Lee?

The arrest of Lee has its own share of controversy. Lee's lawyers insist the arrest and subsequent detention was "illegal" based on a November 2013 ruling by the Court of Appeals. The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group's certification of Lee's "delisting" from the PNP's most wanted also muddled the issue.

Purisima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, and the Justice Department have since defended the legality of Lee's arrest. (READ: PNP, Delfin Lee and 2 conflicting letters)

In his interview with reporters, Capa also denied that he leaked the conversation between Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali and Purisima on the same night Lee was arrested.

"Hindi ko ho alam yung tawag na iyon e. Noong gabi na iyon, nasa dinner si Gen Purisima sa Makati. 'Yung mga tawag, hindi ko alam," he said, adding that he told Purisima about the arrest of Lee after the Makati dinner. (I don't know about the call. That night, Gen Purisima was in Makati for a dinner. I knew nothing about that call.)

Purisima told reporters at the press conference that Umali merely asked him if Lee still had a standing warrant of arrest. The call didn't even last a minute, Purisima said.

Speculation aside, Capa said his move to Cebu is practically set in stone. He brushed aside concerns that the task force's morale would be affected following his sudden reassignment.

"Leaders come and go so they'll be fine," he said.

Although visibly frustrated, the relieved task force head cracked a joke towards the end of his press conference. "Malay niyo, baka may Top 5 [most wanted] na nasa Cebu," he said. (You never know, one of the Top 5 most wanted might be in Cebu.) – Rappler.com

FROM PHILSTAR

Capa’s transfer a promotion, Palace insists By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 15, 2014 - 12:00am 4 152 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - It’s a reward, nothing more, nothing less.

As far as Malacañang is concerned, the transfer to Cebu of Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, former head of the police unit that arrested fugitive real estate magnate Delfin Lee, was a promotion and not a demotion as he had complained.

“I understand that the PNP (Philippine National Police) chief explained it already that moving Capa to be the number three (man) in Region 7 is actually the path to promotion,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told state-run PTV-4 yesterday.

“Perhaps there were just some things that were not communicated immediately, but we trust that this matter will be resolved the soonest,” she said, referring to Capa who headed Task Force Tugis that was responsible for Lee’s arrest last week.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima relieved Capa last Thursday or exactly one week after the police unit arrested Lee, president of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.

Lee was arrested last March 6 by elements of Task Force Tugis at the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Ermita, Manila by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the San Fernando, Pampanga regional trial court (RTC) Branch 42 in connection with the Pag-IBIG housing loan scam where Lee allegedly used “ghost borrowers” for Globe Asiatique’s housing projects.

Lee had been a fugitive since the RTC ordered his arrest in 2011.

Purisima justified the relief of Capa from the task force, saying it was not a punishment but a reward.

Capa was designated as deputy regional director for operations (DRDO) of Cebu.

Purisima would now temporarily supervise Task Force Tugis, which is under the office of the PNP chief.

Capa expressed his “frustrations” over his relief.

In a press briefing, Purisima claimed Capa was not relieved but was promoted to his new assignment as DRDO of Region 7.

“Actually he was long overdue in that position. So to give him the chance to be promoted to one-star general (chief superintendent), I reassigned him to Cebu. This qualifies him to become an ex-o (executive officer), then deputy regional director for administration. That is a step closer to becoming a chief superintendent,” he pointed out.

But Capa refused to take the sweet talk of Purisima.

Capa felt his transfer was really not a commendation for a job well done after his unit arrested Lee.

As per her discussions with PNP spokesman Theodore Sindac, Valte related that a surprise “congratulatory ceremony” for Capa was actually in the works, but that “recent events” called this off.

“So you know, given that they should already be communicating with Capa. We hope that this will really be put to rest. As to the timing, I would not see anything behind the PNP chief’s decision,” she said.

Malacañang also maintained there was really no problem with Purisima heading Task Force Tugis, dousing cold water on speculations that this in itself showed there was something wrong with Capa’s sudden transfer.

“From what I understand, the PNP chief has always been the head of the task force; and at least on the side of operations, it was Capa who was there. But you know, I would not put anything behind it at this time,” Valte explained.

Capa said he would report to his new assignment in Cebu on Monday and refused to comment further on his relief.

“I’ve already said my piece and I’m satisfied by the snowballing support I receive from the public especially in the social media,” said Capa.

“There’s no gag order on me,” he stressed.

The PNP will defer taking action against Capa who publicly denounced the police leadership for his sudden relief from his post.

At present, Purisima deferred taking action against Capa who reacted negatively to his transfer to the Central Visayas Police, said Sindac.

Sindac said Capa was given the chance to choose if he will stay or proceed with his new assignment as DRDO in Cebu.

“He was made to choose by our DP (Directorate for Personnel and Records Management) one more time if he wants to remain in Task Force Tugis or proceed with the assignment of DRDO of PRO 7. And he chose to pursue the DRDO assignment,” Sindac added.

House probe sought

Several congressmen sought a congressional inquiry into the reported efforts to stop the arrest of Lee.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez filed House Resolution No. 969 directing the concerned committee to look into reports that key allies of the Aquino administration tried to block the arrest of Lee.

“In some reports, one of the influential people even went to the (Philippine National Police) national headquarters in Camp Crame and apparently engaged in a shouting match with the police authorities in convincing them to release of Mr. Lee,” the resolution said.

The lawmakers who authored the resolution also cited reports that Liberal Party national treasurer and Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali admitted that he made a phone call to PNP chief Purisima on behalf of Lee.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza expressed alarm over reports that Capa was sacked for allegedly leaking that officials of the administration tried to stop the arrest.

Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the incident was reminiscent of the relief of Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria, then Eastern Visayas police director, for estimating that the death toll from Super Typhoon Yolanda would reach 10,000 and not 2,500 as Malacañang was insisting.

Meanwhile, Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, who was head of the Pag-IBIG fund when Lee’s alleged scam took place, welcomed the congressional probe.

He said he is ready to face any probe into the allegations linking him to the scam.

Tiangco, secretary-general of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is convinced that Capa’s relief was a demotion.

He said PNP chief Purisima is sending the wrong signal to police officers.

Tiangco said he finds it hard to believe Purisima’s explanation that Capa was given a promotion as a reward when in fact the latter was pulled from the task force.

Lee’s chief counsel Willie Rivera wants to inhibit San Fernando, Pampanga regional trial court (RTC) Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes from his client’s syndicated estafa case.

Rivera also expressed belief that “powerful politicians” have been meddling in the case.

He said he was set to file the inhibition case against Reyes who, he claimed, “repeatedly” defied a Court of Appeals (CA) order to quash the arrest of Lee.

The Pampanga RTC Branch 42 entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Lee in the arraignment yesterday for the syndicated estafa case filed against him, after his lawyer failed to enter a plea.

Rivera said they did not enter any plea on the grounds that the Court of Appeals had already dismissed the estafa case against his client. – With Non Alquitran, Paolo Romero, Ding Cervantes, Jose Rodel Clapano, Cecille Suerte Felipe

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Noy absolves ally over Delfin Lee case Written by Tribune Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The controversial phone call of Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali to the Philippine National Police (PNP) has touched on a range of ethical issues at the center of Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee’s arrest.

But President Aquino hurriedly absolved his political ally of any wrongdoing amid reports that Umali tried to block the arrest of the fugitive businessman.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, at a press briefing, yesterday said the President immediately texted Umali, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), to confirm if reports about his call were true.

Umali explained that he made the phone call upon the request of Lee’s lawyer, Gilbert Repizo, who knows Umali personally.

“Governor Umali called PNP Chief Purisima and Purisima informed Umali that the warrant of arrest against Delfin Lee was still outstanding. Therefore, that was the end of their conversation,” Lacierda said.

“Governor Umali explained to the President and the President was satisfied with the explanation,” he added.”

The Palace official told the media that which he said was only second-hand information about what had transpired in the alleged attempt to harbor an arrested fugitive.

“I wasn’t able to speak with Gov. Boy Umali, and also the President is still in a meeting today. What I think is very important here is that the arrest of Delfin Lee has been effected and that he is now under detention,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda defended Umali’s move and had seen nothing wrong in making a phone call to the highest police officer of the country in relation to an arrest effected by the police.

“I think the consideration there should not be the fact that he is governor, but I think Atty. Repizo, who is a provincemate, called up Mr. Umali and he called up General Purisima. And when General Purisima explained the situation, Governor Umali never made any further action,” Lacierda said.

According to him, it was common for Aquino to ask a particular official in his administration to check on what he had read on the newspapers.

“He (Aquino) just wanted to be sure if reports are true. He always does that to us. If there’s a statement we made, or if there’s a statement that another Cabinet official made, he wanted to confirm with the respective individual if the report in media is correct or not,” Lacierda said.

He stressed there was no double standard on how the allies of Aquino were treated when found themselves in trouble.

“No, it happens always. He validates with the person concerned. If there’s a report that came out, he wants to know if it’s true or not. He always does that,” Lacierda said.

Relatedly, the Supreme Court (SC) has given government lawyers the go-signal to proceed with the preliminary investigation and resolve three more syndicated estafa complaints filed before it against Lee.

In a three-page resolution dated March 2, the SC’s Second Division issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Court of Appeals and Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City Branch 167 Presiding Judge Rolando Mislang from implementing their orders issued on Nov. 11, 2013 and April 10, 2013, respectively.

The CA and the lower court, enjoined the Department of Justice (DoJ) from resolving three batches of swindling complaints pending before it.

The DoJ, in its petition for review on certiorari, argued that Mislang’s order is “material and substantial invasion” of its right to continue with its power and function to investigate crimes and prosecute offenders, and thus hamper the administration of justice.

The SC said it issued the TRO in order not to render the DoJ’s petition moot and academic and to avoid irreparable injury upon the petitioner who may be prevented from performing its legally mandate duty to protect public interest in case an injunction writ will not be issued.

“Now, therefore, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, You, the Court of Appeals, the Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 167, Pasig City, and the respondent, your agents, representatives and anyone acting on your behalf are hereby restrained from implementing and enforcing the assailed Court of Appeals Resolutions dated 26 June 2013 and 11 November 2013 in CA-G.R. SP No. 130409, and from proceeding with Civil Case No. 73115 pending with the RTC, Br. 167, Pasig City until the final outcome of the present petition,” the resolution stated. By Paul Atienza and Benjamin B. Pulta


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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