AMIDST PERVADING GLOOM TACLOBAN TURNS FESTIVE

A festive atmosphere has rid some of the gloom pervading this city which had been among the most ravaged by super-typhoon Yolanda in November last year as it kicked off its 125th fiesta last Friday night. The skies of the city’s downtown area was lit by a five-minute fireworks display which emanated from the RTR Plaza, sending off an indication that Leyte province has finally returned to normalcy from the devastation of the typhoon which killed thousands of people here and virtually flattened the city in its wake. Last Friday’s kick-off activities included a press conference presided by Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic L. Petilla, with Pintados Foundation President Eugene Tan, among others, as guests. A mass was then said at the RTR Plaza. Petilla said the provincial government will help shoulder the transport expenses of participating festival contingents coming to Tacloban to perform on June 28. For some unknown reason, Tacloban’s traditional Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals has not yet been issued a permit by Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, said. In previous years, holding of the festival was banned by Romualdez and the festival contingents were not allowed to parade and perform in city streets while he put up his own Sangyaw Festival, to compete with the long-running, popular Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival. That matter is the only shade of gloom that continues to haunt this city, as it celebrates its fiesta.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Housewives vent anger over ‘unjust’ price hikes

Hundreds of housewives from various urban poor communities trooped to the Balintawak Public Market along EDSA in Quezon City yesterday to protest the “unjust” increases in the prices of prime commodities in the local market. Armed with cookware, the protesters banged pots and pans as they demanded President Aquino to make use of his executive powers to address the escalating prices of prime commodities, such as rice, garlic, ginger, milk, sugar, and onion. Led by anti-poverty groups Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) and Samahan ng Mamamayan- Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO), the protesters assailed the government for its alleged failure to protect the welfare of poor Filipinos. Geilda Mirabueno, a housewife and mother of nine, said her husband earn a measly P400 a day as a truck driver. She said the government’s “Bawang Caravan” is not a permanent solution for the poor’s economic woes. She claimed that since the President assumed office in 2010, the workers have not received even a single increase in their wages, which have remained insufficient to raise a family. Despite the government’s policy to ensure the availability of basic necessities at reasonable prices, Mirabueno said the people are still being victimized by hoarders, profiteers and cartels. The groups appealed to the President to use his executive powers to control the prices of basic goods for at least the next two months until sufficient supplies are secured. They expressed belief that price control is “doable if only Aquino has the will to do it.” Citing Section 7 of Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act of 1992, the groups said the President, upon the recommendation of the implementing agency, or the Price Coordinating Council, may impose a price ceiling on any basic necessity or prime commodity if the situation calls for it. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace explains high cost of food; clueless on garlic price spike

Demand for sugar rose, piglets acquired diseases while hot weather stunted the growth of chickens. These are among the reasons cited by Malacañang on why prices of basic commodities have been rising. However, it has yet to ferret out the real reason behind the increase in garlic prices. “Doon naman sa garlic, sinusuri po ng Department of Agriculture ‘yung sitwasyon diyan dahil karamihan po talaga sa ating ginagamit na garlic o bawang ay imported,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over state-run radio. (As to the rising price of garlic, the Department of Agriculture is still studying the situation because most of our garlic supply is imported.) The statement came a week after government promised to get to the bottom of things as prices of agricultural products suddenly spiked. Malacañang earlier announced that the supply of garlic in the country is enough and that it should not cause price fluctuations. It said government would continue to investigate the matter, especially the possibility of hoarding. Last week, the National Price Coordinating Council met to discuss the pressing issue that has prompted complaints from consumers. The meeting revealed that demand for sugar increased, resulting in the commodity’s price hike. “Tumaas po ang presyo na umabot sa 52 pesos (bawat kilo). Ngunit sa kanila din pong pagtutok o monitoring ay bumaba din ito sa 49 pesos at meron pong suggested retail price ang sugar at ito po ay nasa 50 pesos kada kilo,” Coloma said. (The price of sugar rose to P52 per kilo. But based on the monitoring of government agencies, it went down to P49 while the suggested retail price is at P50 per kilo.) Meanwhile, the increased price of pork was attributed to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED). The spread of the disease resulted in tighter supply, Coloma said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Anti-PNoy plot bared

Analyst sees critical period between now, 2016 polls PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III faces “a formidable destabilization plot” from a growing number of enemies from the left and the right, disillusioned by his many undelivered promises and his selective prosecution of those involved in the pork barrel scam, a political analyst said Sunday. Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform or IPER, told radio dzBB that Aquino faces a critical period between now and the next election in which clashes between the administration and its enemies could become “bloody and personal.” Casiple said the destabilization began at the Ayala rally last year when protesters branded President Aquino as the “Pork Barrel King” for refusing to give up his own discretionary funds. The Ayala rally, Casiple said, snowballed into a much bigger rally last June 12, when the protesters started demanding President Aquino’s ouster. “You cannot discount the range of possible scenarios in which the plotters would resort to extra constitutional measures. That’s how serious the political fight for survival has become. I’m not only talking about those who had been charged with plunder and graft cases over the pork barrel scam. Include also the camp of former President [Gloria] Arroyo. In several instances, the Arroyo camp was accused of mounting a destabilization plot but these remained to be rumors,” Casiple said. The administration’s enemies have grown in number and these groups are talking now,” Casiple said, noting that politics makes for strange bedfellows. READ MORE...

ALSO: Reported earlier- PNoy ploy to prop up own ’16 bet exposed

JUNE 16  -THE Aquino administration has been eliminating all viable presidential candidates for the 2016 elections to give its bet, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, a better chance at winning, opposition Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. said Sunday. In an interview over radio DZBB on Sunday, Revilla said the plunder charge against him for his alleged role in the pork barrel scam all originated from his plan to run for President in the next elections. The Lakas-NUCD is reportedly grooming Revilla, who topped the 2010 senatorial race, as its presidential bet in 2016. “We all know now that they are going after all the thorns in their throat. They’re running after them one by one,” said Revilla. He said they were now attacking Vice President Jejomar Binay and his daugher, Makati Rep. Abigail Binay in the papers and on TV. “They have no heart... it’s all politics,” said Revilla, who lamented that the attacks were beginning two years before the next election. He said Roxas had the most to gain from the administration’s process of elimination, and mocked him as “Boy Pickup,” a reference to the time Roxas drove Revilla to a secret meeting with President Benigno Aquino III just before a key Senate vote on the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona. READ MORE..

ALSO: Revilla’s presidential bid ‘delusional’; Solons hit indicted senator’s ploy to win votes

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. can run for the presidency all he wants, but he should not expect an easy victory, lawmakers said yesterday. Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said Revilla was “delusional” in talking about running for Malacañang from jail in 2016. But desperate people are “prone to delusions,” he added. “The cold reality that Filipinos are not crazy enough to elect a plunderer to office in order to plunder them some more will sink in in a few more days, once the circus surrounding his arrest is gone,” Bello said. Revilla was arrested Friday on plunder charges over the P10-billion pork barrel scam. He was clamped in jail at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and the antigraft court Sandiganbayan set his arraignment for June 26. He was the first high-profile politician to be arrested in the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. For Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Revilla’s talking about running for Malacañang in 2016 seemed to be a ploy to “gain sympathy and write another amazing story of political rehabilitation in the near future.” “But it should not in any way legally affect the merits or demerits of the plunder case. The tragedy of our society is we look away when blatant fouls are committed against us,” Olalia said in a text message. He also said that while anyone qualified could run, the important question is their moral fitness and whether their platform is for the greater good of the greater majority of the poor and the powerless. A popular action movie hero who was elected to the Senate in 2004, Revilla, 47, had been going around impoverished communities in Cavite and Metro Manila days before his arrest, defending himself and talking about running for president in 2016. READ MORE...


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Tacloban turns festive


The Balyuan Rites held June 20, 2014 at the Balyuan grounds marks the start of the 9-day novena mass in honor to Tacloban's patron Sr. Sto. Nino de Tacloban in preparation for the 125th Tacloban Fiesta Celebration (June 30, 2014). COURTESY OF MAYOR ALFRED ROMUALDEZ FACEBOOK.

TACLOBAN CITY
, JUNE 23, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN)
by Nestor L. Abrematea - A festive atmosphere has rid some of the gloom pervading this city which had been among the most ravaged by super-typhoon Yolanda in November last year as it kicked off its 125th fiesta last Friday night.

The skies of the city’s downtown area was lit by a five-minute fireworks display which emanated from the RTR Plaza, sending off an indication that Leyte province has finally returned to normalcy from the devastation of the typhoon which killed thousands of people here and virtually flattened the city in its wake.

Last Friday’s kick-off activities included a press conference presided by Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominic L. Petilla, with Pintados Foundation President Eugene Tan, among others, as guests.

A mass was then said at the RTR Plaza. Petilla said the provincial government will help shoulder the transport expenses of participating festival contingents coming to Tacloban to perform on June 28.

For some unknown reason, Tacloban’s traditional Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals has not yet been issued a permit by Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, said.

In previous years, holding of the festival was banned by Romualdez and the festival contingents were not allowed to parade and perform in city streets while he put up his own Sangyaw Festival, to compete with the long-running, popular Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival. That matter is the only shade of gloom that continues to haunt this city, as it celebrates its fiesta.

Housewives vent anger over ‘unjust’ price hikes by Chito A. Chavez
June 23, 2014

Hundreds of housewives from various urban poor communities trooped to the Balintawak Public Market along EDSA in Quezon City yesterday to protest the “unjust” increases in the prices of prime commodities in the local market.

Armed with cookware, the protesters banged pots and pans as they demanded President Aquino to make use of his executive powers to address the escalating prices of prime commodities, such as rice, garlic, ginger, milk, sugar, and onion.

Led by anti-poverty groups Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) and Samahan ng Mamamayan- Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO), the protesters assailed the government for its alleged failure to protect the welfare of poor Filipinos.

Geilda Mirabueno, a housewife and mother of nine, said her husband earn a measly P400 a day as a truck driver. She said the government’s “Bawang Caravan” is not a permanent solution for the poor’s economic woes.

She claimed that since the President assumed office in 2010, the workers have not received even a single increase in their wages, which have remained insufficient to raise a family.

Despite the government’s policy to ensure the availability of basic necessities at reasonable prices, Mirabueno said the people are still being victimized by hoarders, profiteers and cartels.

The groups appealed to the President to use his executive powers to control the prices of basic goods for at least the next two months until sufficient supplies are secured.

They expressed belief that price control is “doable if only Aquino has the will to do it.”

Citing Section 7 of Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act of 1992, the groups said the President, upon the recommendation of the implementing agency, or the Price Coordinating Council, may impose a price ceiling on any basic necessity or prime commodity if the situation calls for it.

Among the conditions are (a) impendency, existence, or effect of any event that causes artificial and unreasonable increase in the price of the basic necessity or prime-commodity; and (b) whenever the prevailing price of any basic necessity or prime commodity has risen to unreasonable levels, they added.

The protesters perceived that the recent unreasonable price increase fall on the two categories mentioned in the law.

Meanwhile, KPML leader Anna Lampitoc, a single mother of three children from Navotas, argued that for the past week, the government agencies’ response was “clearly insufficient” to secure the supply of basic commodities needed by the 25 million residents of Metro Manila.

She said monitoring without regulating prices is worthless, adding that the problem must be addressed immediately as a national concern.

KPML views the administration’s inaction as a consequence of its trade policy of liberalization and deregulation of agricultural products wherein an underdeveloped agricultural country such as the Philippines will periodically suffer from price shocks since it is forced to compete with highly modernized farming practices of developed nations.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace explains high cost of food; clueless on garlic price spike By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net  4:46 pm | Sunday, June 22nd, 2014


FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Demand for sugar rose, piglets acquired diseases while hot weather stunted the growth of chickens. These are among the reasons cited by Malacañang on why prices of basic commodities have been rising.

However, it has yet to ferret out the real reason behind the increase in garlic prices.

“Doon naman sa garlic, sinusuri po ng Department of Agriculture ‘yung sitwasyon diyan dahil karamihan po talaga sa ating ginagamit na garlic o bawang ay imported,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over state-run radio.

(As to the rising price of garlic, the Department of Agriculture is still studying the situation because most of our garlic supply is imported.)

The statement came a week after government promised to get to the bottom of things as prices of agricultural products suddenly spiked.

Malacañang earlier announced that the supply of garlic in the country is enough and that it should not cause price fluctuations. It said government would continue to investigate the matter, especially the possibility of hoarding.

Last week, the National Price Coordinating Council met to discuss the pressing issue that has prompted complaints from consumers.

The meeting revealed that demand for sugar increased, resulting in the commodity’s price hike.

“Tumaas po ang presyo na umabot sa 52 pesos (bawat kilo). Ngunit sa kanila din pong pagtutok o monitoring ay bumaba din ito sa 49 pesos at meron pong suggested retail price ang sugar at ito po ay nasa 50 pesos kada kilo,” Coloma said.

(The price of sugar rose to P52 per kilo. But based on the monitoring of government agencies, it went down to P49 while the suggested retail price is at P50 per kilo.)

Meanwhile, the increased price of pork was attributed to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED). The spread of the disease resulted in tighter supply, Coloma said.

He pointed out that the same epidemic hit United States in the past, affecting eight million piglets.

Local hog raisers are expecting prices to go down again as the situation normalizes, he said.

“Ayon naman sa asosasyon ng mga poultry growers or poultry raisers, ‘yung mainit na temperatura nitong tag-init ay naging contributory factor naman sa mabagal na paglaki ‘nung mga manok. Ibig sabihin mababa ang kanilang timbang kaya ito po ang isa sa mga sanhi ng temporary shortage,” the Secretary added.

(According to the association of poultry raisers, the hot weather contributed to the slow growth of chickens. The decreased weight is one of the causes of the temporary shortage.)

Coloma assured the public that the government is also monitoring the price of other food stables like vegetables.

He admitted that the truck ban in Manila might have partly affected the prices of commodities.

“Tinututukan po ‘yan pero hindi po ‘yan ang pangunahing dahilan, contributory factor lang po, at patuloy naman ‘yung pagsisikap na ma-clear po ‘yung backlog ng mga kargamento na naipit sa ating Port of Manila dahil diyan at sino-solve naman po, ina-address po ‘yung problema,” Coloma said of the truck ban.

(We are looking at that but that’s not the primary reason, it’s just a contributory factor. We continue to strive to clear the backlog of cargos held at the Port of Manila.)

Coloma said the government is doing everything to ensure that prices are not being artificially propped up.

Meantime, he said the Department of Agriculture already has rolling stores in Muntinlupa, Pasig, Marikina and Quezon City selling local garlic at P100 to P200 per kilo.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Anti-PNoy plot bared By Christine F. Herrera | Jun. 23, 2014 at 12:01am

Analyst sees critical period between now, 2016 polls

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III faces “a formidable destabilization plot” from a growing number of enemies from the left and the right, disillusioned by his many undelivered promises and his selective prosecution of those involved in the pork barrel scam, a political analyst said Sunday.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform or IPER, told radio dzBB that Aquino faces a critical period between now and the next election in which clashes between the administration and its enemies could become “bloody and personal.”

Casiple said the destabilization began at the Ayala rally last year when protesters branded President Aquino as the “Pork Barrel King” for refusing to give up his own discretionary funds.

The Ayala rally, Casiple said, snowballed into a much bigger rally last June 12, when the protesters started demanding President Aquino’s ouster.

“You cannot discount the range of possible scenarios in which the plotters would resort to extra constitutional measures. That’s how serious the political fight for survival has become. I’m not only talking about those who had been charged with plunder and graft cases over the pork barrel scam. Include also the camp of former President [Gloria] Arroyo. In several instances, the Arroyo camp was accused of mounting a destabilization plot but these remained to be rumors,” Casiple said.

The administration’s enemies have grown in number and these groups are talking now,” Casiple said, noting that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Casiple said the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay is nominally in the opposition, but in the Congress, except for Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, UNA lawmakers are allied with the majority and the President.

Casiple said there will be “plots and counterplots” and all issues against the administration, including personal ones, would be fair game.

“You could see in the June 12 rally who were the actors and the calls made. The call was ouster,” he said. “The charges put forth by the protesters were that PNoy was protecting his allies who were equally implicated in the scam. You can see that the fight that’s coming will be no-holds barred.”

He added that there was a military dimension to the threat, noting the involvement of many former military officials.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma played down Casiple’s observations.

“The government is prepared to respond to actions by threat elements. Scenarios drawn up by political observers should not be taken at face value as these need to be validated,” he said.

UNA’s Tiangco said this was the first they have heard of a destabilization plot and vowed to oppose such a move.

“UNA will not take part in any destabilization plot because it is against the coalition’s plan to win the presidency in 2016,” Tiangco said. “If elections were held today, surveys show that Vice President Binay will win the elections. He garnered 40 percent in the recent survey. We would push for elections and win in a manner provided for in the Constitution.”

He added: “It is against UNA’s interest and the country’s to be plotting a NOEL or No Elections [scenario]. Those who would resort to that are those who are tailing the surveys and have no chance at all to acquire power legally or through elections.”

A recent Social Weather Station survey showed that if elections were held today, Binay would garner 40 percent of the vote, while the ruling Liberal Party’s likely candidate, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II would muster only 6 percent.

“We have no reason to disrupt the electoral process. It is against our plans. If the plot is true, then we will aggressively and seriously fight it,” Tiangco said.

In the House, the left-leaning lawmakers said the arrest of Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and the impending detentions of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile have done nothing to stop the misuse of discretionary funds.

“The graft ridden pork barrel still thrives in the 2014 budget, specifically the estimated P1 trillion lump sum under the discretion of President Aquino including but not limited to the much abused Malampaya Fund, the Special Purpose Fund, the President Social Fund, the road users fund and the intelligence fund of various departments and agencies,” Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said in a joint statement.

The two lawmakers pushed for “people’s initiative” to compel the President to abolish all pork barrel, including his own.

They also lamented that presidential allies like Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad remain unscathed by any investigation, even though they were implicated by several pork barrel scam whistle blowers.

“As it is, only the opposition is being hit.... As things stand now, maybe some small fry allies of the President may also be sacrificed but not the big fish,” Colmenares and Zarate said.

PNoy ploy to prop up own ’16 bet exposed By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:01am

T
REVILLA

HE Aquino administration has been eliminating all viable presidential candidates for the 2016 elections to give its bet, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, a better chance at winning, opposition Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. said Sunday.

In an interview over radio DZBB on Sunday, Revilla said the plunder charge against him for his alleged role in the pork barrel scam all originated from his plan to run for President in the next elections.

The Lakas-NUCD is reportedly grooming Revilla, who topped the 2010 senatorial race, as its presidential bet in 2016.

“We all know now that they are going after all the thorns in their throat. They’re running after them one by one,” said Revilla.

He said they were now attacking Vice President Jejomar Binay and his daugher, Makati Rep. Abigail Binay in the papers and on TV.

“They have no heart... it’s all politics,” said Revilla, who lamented that the attacks were beginning two years before the next election.

He said Roxas had the most to gain from the administration’s process of elimination, and mocked him as “Boy Pickup,” a reference to the time Roxas drove Revilla to a secret meeting with President Benigno Aquino III just before a key Senate vote on the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Revilla also attacked the President for using his Independence Day address to warn the public against voting for people who are good at reading scripts, singing and dancing.

He said President Aquino might have considered all the singers and actors who helped him get elected.

“He should think first before throwing a stone or he can attack me directly,” said Revilla.

He recalled that when Aquino campaigned in Cavite and told Cavitenos not to believe those with “agimat” and “anting-anting,” he said his constituents became angry with the President and did not vote for his candidates.

As the leader of the country, the President should serve as a good example, and should stop making insinuations, Revilla said.

Revilla, who called for unity in a privilege speech last week, said all he got from the Palace were more attacks.

“They really do not want unity. They want divisiveness. They’re already thinking of 2016. It’s sad for the country,” Revilla said.

Revilla said he was saddened by the filing of plunder charges against him before the Sandiganbayan, but was hopeful that this would end his trial by publicity.

“It is now time to hear the case and give my side,” he said.

Revilla said he was confident he would be acquitted because he did not steal from the government.

He also said he was ready to go to jail if an arrest warrant is issued.

He also disputed the Palace claim that “99.3 percent” of Filipinos were angry at him.

In fact, he said, some at still prodding him to run for President.

“I told them, how can I run if I will be in jail? What is important right now is to clean my name. That’s what i want them to know,” Revilla added.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Revilla’s presidential bid ‘delusional’ , Solons hit indicted senator’s ploy to win votes By Leila B. Salaverria Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:54 am | Sunday, June 22nd, 2014


Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. can run for the presidency all he wants, but he should not expect an easy victory, lawmakers said yesterday.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said Revilla was “delusional” in talking about running for Malacañang from jail in 2016. But desperate people are “prone to delusions,” he added.

“The cold reality that Filipinos are not crazy enough to elect a plunderer to office in order to plunder them some more will sink in in a few more days, once the circus surrounding his arrest is gone,” Bello said.

Revilla was arrested Friday on plunder charges over the P10-billion pork barrel scam. He was clamped in jail at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and the antigraft court Sandiganbayan set his arraignment for June 26.

He was the first high-profile politician to be arrested in the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

For Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Revilla’s talking about running for Malacañang in 2016 seemed to be a ploy to “gain sympathy and write another amazing story of political rehabilitation in the near future.”

“But it should not in any way legally affect the merits or demerits of the plunder case. The tragedy of our society is we look away when blatant fouls are committed against us,” Olalia said in a text message.

He also said that while anyone qualified could run, the important question is their moral fitness and whether their platform is for the greater good of the greater majority of the poor and the powerless.

A popular action movie hero who was elected to the Senate in 2004, Revilla, 47, had been going around impoverished communities in Cavite and Metro Manila days before his arrest, defending himself and talking about running for president in 2016.

He kept talking about running as he left his home in Bacoor town, Cavite province, on Friday morning to surrender to the Sandiganbayan, saying he would run even from behind bars “if there’s a public clamor for it.”

On Saturday a political ally of Revilla’s said the public should be wary of attempts to demonize him through various channels, as only the court can truly say whether Revilla is guilty of plundering the people’s money.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), said in a statement that Revilla’s detention was not a reflection of his guilt. Until the court hands down a ruling, nobody can say Revilla has committed plunder, he said.

Romualdez said news releases and commentaries may soon appear to try to make Revilla appear guilty.

“Whoever tries to condition or influence the public mind of the senator’s guilt in any manner whatsoever is the one who’s trying to cover up something unlawful and immoral,” he added.

Should Revilla proceed with his plan to run for president, he is expected to run under the banner of Lakas-CMD, which Romualdez earlier said intended to play a major role in the 2016 elections.

Not barrier to election

In March, Romualdez said he was unfazed by the threat of plunder charges being brought against Revilla, as this did not bar anybody from being elected to public office.

Romualdez cited the case of former President Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder after being ousted from Malacañang in 2001, placed second after making another run for the presidency in 2010, and was elected mayor of Manila in 2013.

Revilla was the top vote-getter in the 2010 senatorial race, polling more than 19 million votes.

Romualdez also said Lakas-CMD remained behind Revilla, but would not intervene his trial.

Instead, the party would do its own probe of the pork barrel scandal and would expect administration allies to be made subject to a similar investigation, he added.

Expecting to be arrested this week are Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, also accused of plunder for allegedly pocketing tens of millions of pesos in kickbacks from phantom rural-development projects proposed by Napoles through bogus foundations in repeated raids on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) over a period of 10 years.

Like Revilla, Estrada and Enrile insist they are innocent, and say they are ready to be jailed.

Merits of the case

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said Revilla’s campaign for the presidency should have no effect on his legal case, which should be judged based on its merits.

“It is his right to run for any public office during the pendency of his case. It should not impact on his trial, which should be resolved on the merits,” Colmenares said.

But Colmenares said that even with the arrest of politicians and officials implicated in the pork barrel scam, the main issue was the continued existence of pork barrel in the current budget, which could be seen in various lump-sum items.

What is worse, he said, is that allies of the President who have also been implicated in the pork barrel scam remain unscathed by any investigation.

Revilla turned himself in at the Sandiganbayan on Friday amid movie-like fanfare after the court ordered him arrested on Thursday.

He denies involvement in the large-scale diversion of public funds to ghost projects and claims he is being persecuted by the Aquino administration.

Meanwhile, the Akbayan party-list said in a statement that Revilla and the other senators implicated in the pork barrel scam should not be enjoying newly constructed, “condominium-like” detention cells. They should be treated like ordinary respondents and should be held in regular cells, it said.

“The public must see that the brand of justice applied by the government to ordinary people is the same one enforced on the high and mighty,” Bello said in the statement.

Akbayan also urged the administration to apply the same resoluteness and process of accountability on administration allies who may be linked to the scandal. With a report from TJ Burgonio


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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