MIRIAM QUITS AS ICC JUDGE INVOKING POOR HEALTH

Invoking poor health, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has resigned her post as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a June 3 letter to Sang Hyun Song, president of the ICC, Santiago said she is quitting her post due to her chronic fatigue syndrome. “Pursuant to my commitment, I hereby confirm that the court should proceed on the basis that I am stepping down as elected judge,” she said. “I will support the procedures of the Assembly of State Parties later this year, so that a replacement judge can be duly elected,” she added. She furnished President Aquino a copy of her letter. She likewise notified Senate President Franklin Drilon and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and requested the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to circulate her letter “with thanks” to all parties of the Rome Statute. Santiago was “overwhelmingly elected” to the ICC based in The Hague, Netherlands in December 2011. She was elected to a nine-year term. READ MORE...

ALSO: Miriam vows to block Soliman’s confirmation

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has vowed to block the confirmation of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman in today’s hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA). In a letter sent yesterday to Abono party-list Rep. Conrado Estrella III, chairman of the CA committee on labor, employment and social welfare, Santiago said she would invoke Section 20 of the rules of the CA. Under Section 20 of the CA rules, any member may move for the suspension of action by the commission on any nomination without any explanation. “This is to respectfully notify that I intend to invoke the CA Rules, Section 20, to suspend the consideration of any nomination for DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman. The practice is that when Section 20 is invoked, it is non-debatable,” Santiago said in her letter. The senator had voiced her opposition to Soliman’s appointment during her confirmation hearing in December 2011. At that hearing, Santiago lambasted Soliman for her involvement in the Black and White Movement, a civil society organization that came out in 2005 shortly after members of the Cabinet of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resigned and called for her ouster. She said she found it objectionable that the Black and White Movement believed that they are the only ones who have a clear definition of what is good and evil. “In a previous hearing of the Commission on Appointments, I accused Ms. Soliman and her ilk of Manichaeism, an obsolete attitude based on the supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness, where the most vocal proclaim themselves to be the personification of light and their victim as the personification of darkness. These people are dangerous,” she said. Santiago said she had opposed Soliman’s nomination from the start of the Aquino administration. READ MORE...

ALSO: SC junks petition on Lacson appointment

The Supreme Court (SC) has junked a petition questioning the legality of the appointment of former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda. In session yesterday, the high court dismissed for lack of merit a petition filed by Louis Biraogo seeking to void Lacson’s appointment and office created under Memorandum Order No. 62 signed by President Aquino on Dec. 6, 2013. “The Supreme Court dismissed the petition as there was no grave abuse of discretion committed,” SC spokesman Theodore Te told reporters in a press conference. Earlier, the high tribunal issued a resolution denying petitioner’s motion seeking to stop the implementation of the assailed order. In February, Biraogo filed a petition alleging that the MO 62 violates Republic Act 10121, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) tasked to carry out post-disaster rehabilitation programs of the government. Biraogo said there is no need for the new office, which Lacson currently occupies and that the MO 62 amended or modified RA 10121. As rehabilitation czar, Lacson manages not only funds from the national government, but also millions of dollars in foreign assistance meant for Yolanda-hit areas in the Visayas. Biraogo gained prominence in 2009 when he accused former chief justice Renato Puno of sitting on a high court ruling affirming the disqualification of Jocelyn Limkaichong as representative of the first district of Negros Oriental for being a Chinese citizen. He was also a petitioner in the 2010 case questioning the legality of President Aquino’s first executive order that created a truth commission to investigate alleged anomalies in the previous administration. The high court granted his petition and voided EO No. 1. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

‘Real danger’ seen in pork scam trial Ombudsman’s plan could undermine plunder charges, solon warns

A veteran lawmaker is sensing “real danger” following the request made by the Office of the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court to create at least two Sandiganbayan special divisions to handle the trial of those charged with plunder in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. warned yesterday that the Ombudsman’s plan could lead to inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses which could undermine the plunder cases. Barzaga, who was part of the 11-man House prosecution panel during the impeachment trial of ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona, said pork scam witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, Mary Arlene Baltazar and Simonette Briones may give conflicting testimonies in two separate special divisions that could jeopardize their credibility as witnesses. “It’s a very real danger. An experienced trial lawyer will use the inconsistent statements to impeach the credibility of the witneses or the accused,” he warned, implicitly finding the Ombudsman’s proposal as ill-advised. “It is based on the theory that, if there are two statements which are opposed to one another, then one must be true and the other is false. So when a witness/accused makes two different statements, he is lying in regard to the false statement and therefore he did not comply with his oath to tell the truth,” he explained. In a letter, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales asked Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to set up two special divisions in the Sandiganbayan, which has exclusive jurisdiction over the conduct of continuous trial for the plunder cases against high-profile politicians and big personalities. Last Friday, the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. for their alleged involvement in the fund scam. Barzaga stressed that it “would be more prudent” to have one special court that would exclusively try all the accused. “The two divisions shall be separate and distinct from one another therefore, the possibility of difference in rulings like petitions for bail, house/hospital arrests, existence of probable cause to issue warrants of arrest and other incidents,” he explained. READ MORE...


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Miriam quits as ICC judge


SANTIAGO

MANILA, JUNE 9, 2014
(PHILSTAR)
  By Christina Mendez - Invoking poor health, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has resigned her post as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a June 3 letter to Sang Hyun Song, president of the ICC, Santiago said she is quitting her post due to her chronic fatigue syndrome.

“Pursuant to my commitment, I hereby confirm that the court should proceed on the basis that I am stepping down as elected judge,” she said.

“I will support the procedures of the Assembly of State Parties later this year, so that a replacement judge can be duly elected,” she added.

She furnished President Aquino a copy of her letter. She likewise notified Senate President Franklin Drilon and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and requested the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to circulate her letter “with thanks” to all parties of the Rome Statute.

Santiago was “overwhelmingly elected” to the ICC based in The Hague, Netherlands in December 2011. She was elected to a nine-year term.

First Filipino, first Asian

She is the first Filipino and the first Asian from a developing country to be elected to the tribunal, which tries cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

She was scheduled to report to the ICC since last year. In September, she said she would file a parallel request for permission to report to the ICC when she recovers from her illness early this year.

But she also hinted that she might just back out from the post.

The senator was also unable to report for work at the Senate regularly due to her illness.

In June last year, an online petition asked the ICC to reject her election to the judicial body, saying she does not deserve the post for being “emotionally or psychologically unstable, prone to fits of uncontrollable rage, lacking in patience and empathy, ruthless with the feelings of fellow human beings, bereft of civility and uncaring about decorum.”

“We further submit that an individual who has admitted to having publicly lied and who has demonstrated partiality, prejudice, lack of principles and questionable integrity as a public official does not deserve to be a judge, much less a judge of the International Criminal Court,” the petition posted on change.org by US-based lawyer Rodel Rodis stated.

Santiago dismissed the petition as a black propaganda against her.

Miriam vows to block Soliman’s confirmation By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1512 googleplus0 0


SOLIMAN

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has vowed to block the confirmation of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman in today’s hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

In a letter sent yesterday to Abono party-list Rep. Conrado Estrella III, chairman of the CA committee on labor, employment and social welfare, Santiago said she would invoke Section 20 of the rules of the CA.

Under Section 20 of the CA rules, any member may move for the suspension of action by the commission on any nomination without any explanation.

“This is to respectfully notify that I intend to invoke the CA Rules, Section 20, to suspend the consideration of any nomination for DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman. The practice is that when Section 20 is invoked, it is non-debatable,” Santiago said in her letter.

The senator had voiced her opposition to Soliman’s appointment during her confirmation hearing in December 2011.

At that hearing, Santiago lambasted Soliman for her involvement in the Black and White Movement, a civil society organization that came out in 2005 shortly after members of the Cabinet of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resigned and called for her ouster.

She said she found it objectionable that the Black and White Movement believed that they are the only ones who have a clear definition of what is good and evil.

“In a previous hearing of the Commission on Appointments, I accused Ms. Soliman and her ilk of Manichaeism, an obsolete attitude based on the supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness, where the most vocal proclaim themselves to be the personification of light and their victim as the personification of darkness. These people are dangerous,” she said.

Santiago said she had opposed Soliman’s nomination from the start of the Aquino administration.

“Ms. Soliman was a fervent devotee of President Arroyo. All of a sudden, on her way to Emmaus, she heard a voice telling her that President Arroyo is allegedly corrupt,” she said.

“Conveniently, she then turned her back on her erstwhile patron and ran to the other side of the street to join President Aquino’s daang matuwid. In the first place, she should be satisfied with one term under one president. In the second place, she should not retain her public office on the strength of her denunciations of her first boss,” she added.

Santiago said her sources from Malacañang have informed her about how Soliman and some others have “felt free to denounce my integrity.”

She recalled that during the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada, she voted against the opening of the second envelope, which she said was used by “Soliman and her ilk” as proof that she was pro-Estrada and corrupt.

“Eventually, the second envelope was opened and the glee concert failed to emit a peep when it turned out that they were wrong, because there was nothing incriminatory in the second envelope,” she said.

Santiago said she would show up at the Senate today in spite of her extended medical leave to invoke the Section 20 rule against Soliman.

The sworn oppositions against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of whistle-blowers’ organization head Sandra Cam, former Siquijor congressman Orlando Fua and Ma. Virginia Libunao, a former immigration officer, would be presented in today’s hearing.

SC junks petition on Lacson appointment By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 5, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has junked a petition questioning the legality of the appointment of former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

In session yesterday, the high court dismissed for lack of merit a petition filed by Louis Biraogo seeking to void Lacson’s appointment and office created under Memorandum Order No. 62 signed by President Aquino on Dec. 6, 2013.

“The Supreme Court dismissed the petition as there was no grave abuse of discretion committed,” SC spokesman Theodore Te told reporters in a press conference.

Earlier, the high tribunal issued a resolution denying petitioner’s motion seeking to stop the implementation of the assailed order.

In February, Biraogo filed a petition alleging that the MO 62 violates Republic Act 10121, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) tasked to carry out post-disaster rehabilitation programs of the government.

Biraogo said there is no need for the new office, which Lacson currently occupies and that the MO 62 amended or modified RA 10121.

As rehabilitation czar, Lacson manages not only funds from the national government, but also millions of dollars in foreign assistance meant for Yolanda-hit areas in the Visayas.

Biraogo gained prominence in 2009 when he accused former chief justice Renato Puno of sitting on a high court ruling affirming the disqualification of Jocelyn Limkaichong as representative of the first district of Negros Oriental for being a Chinese citizen.

He was also a petitioner in the 2010 case questioning the legality of President Aquino’s first executive order that created a truth commission to investigate alleged anomalies in the previous administration.

The high court granted his petition and voided EO No. 1.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

‘Real danger’ seen in pork scam trial Ombudsman’s plan could undermine plunder charges, solon warns by Charissa Luci June 8, 2014 Share this:

Manila, Philippines — A veteran lawmaker is sensing “real danger” following the request made by the Office of the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court to create at least two Sandiganbayan special divisions to handle the trial of those charged with plunder in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. warned yesterday that the Ombudsman’s plan could lead to inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses which could undermine the plunder cases.

Barzaga, who was part of the 11-man House prosecution panel during the impeachment trial of ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona, said pork scam witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, Mary Arlene Baltazar and Simonette Briones may give conflicting testimonies in two separate special divisions that could jeopardize their credibility as witnesses.

“It’s a very real danger. An experienced trial lawyer will use the inconsistent statements to impeach the credibility of the witneses or the accused,” he warned, implicitly finding the Ombudsman’s proposal as ill-advised.

“It is based on the theory that, if there are two statements which are opposed to one another, then one must be true and the other is false. So when a witness/accused makes two different statements, he is lying in regard to the false statement and therefore he did not comply with his oath to tell the truth,” he explained.

In a letter, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales asked Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to set up two special divisions in the Sandiganbayan, which has exclusive jurisdiction over the conduct of continuous trial for the plunder cases against high-profile politicians and big personalities.

Last Friday, the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. for their alleged involvement in the fund scam.

Barzaga stressed that it “would be more prudent” to have one special court that would exclusively try all the accused.

“The two divisions shall be separate and distinct from one another therefore, the possibility of difference in rulings like petitions for bail, house/hospital arrests, existence of probable cause to issue warrants of arrest and other incidents,” he explained.

“It is even possible that in one court, it is a judgment of conviction and a judgment of acquittal on the other court. To avoid these possibilities of different rulings and in order not to unduly confuse the public in the event of conflicting orders from two special courts, it would be more prudent to have one instead of two special courts,” he added.

Citing current statistics that one division in the Sandiganbayan handles an average of 300 cases, he expressed confidence that “one special court could handle effectively all the present pork barrel cases,” Barzaga said.

•SPEEDY TRIAL

But Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, spokesman and secretary general of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo rallied behind Morales’ proposal.

“Speedy trial is ideal and good as long as it is fair and impartial,” Tiangco said.

Castelo said the Ombudsman’s suggestion “addresses the need for speedy trial.”

Likewise, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he supports the Ombudsman’s move since this would expedite the resolution of the case. Trillanes earlier suggested the creation of an independent truth commission to hear the issues.

Malacanang earlier expressed its support to the Ombudsman’s move since the case is of “national magnitude and has far-reaching consequences.”

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, for her part, said it is only fitting for the Ombudsman to make the request to the SC since the former has a wide range of powers granted by the Constitution in its function to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption.

“For as long as the Ombudsman does not overstep its mandate and it will bring about the speedy and fair resolution of the complex cases for the benefit of all parties including the public I see nothing wrong with it. But I still defer to the wisdom of the SC on this matter,” she said.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also said it is up for the Sandiganbayan or the SC to decide “for as long as it won’t affect the proceedings in the other cases pending before the Sandiganbayan.”

• RISKY EXTENSION

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday urged state probers to resolve the PDAF plunder cases before 2016, saying that it is risky for the trial to extend beyond President Aquino’s term.

Cayetano said it would be dangerous if the pork barrel fund case extends to the next administration especially if it is led by Vice President Jejomar Binay. It is possible, he said, that under a Binay administration, the outcome of the case could be influenced.

“It’s important we have a quick and fair trial as they said justice delayed is justice denied. We know that in the Philippines, the concentration of power is in the President. If this case extends beyond 2016, it would really be influenced especially if the leading candidate is a friend or an ally of the president,” Cayetano said in Filipino in an interview over Radio DZBB.

Both Binay and Cayetano had earlier expressed their intention to run for president in the May 2016 elections.

Binay, a leader of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is an ally of Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, both of whom are opposition stalwarts.

• NAPOLES PLEA-BARGAIN DEAL

Meanwhile, Napoles may resort to a possible plea-bargain agreement with the government now that the Office of the Ombudsman has rejected her bid for immunity in criminal suits.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday suggested that the camp of Napoles may pursue “other options short of immunity” after the Ombudsman thumbed down her request for immunity, together with the immunity applications of Rhodora Mendoza, Victor Roman Cacal and Dennis Cunanan.

One of those options is for Napoles to apply for a plea-bargain deal when the hearing of the PDAF scam case starts.

•‘DON’T CONDEMN’

The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday asked the faithful not to condemn those accused over the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam.

CBCP President Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said this is because none of us is above human frailty. (With reports from Hannah L. Torregoza, Leonard D. Postrado, and Leslie Ann Aquino)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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