PLUNDER RAPS 'DEFECTIVE'

JULY 2 --PHOTO - Alleged pork-barrel scam Janet Lim-Napoles (in hood) is shown leaving the Sandiganbayan after she pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. A SANDIGANBAYAN justice said Thursday that prosecutors have yet to establish “the body of crime” in their plunder complaint, as the First Division of the anti-graft court denied a bid by the Ombudsman to amend the charge sheet to show that Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., and not Janet Lim Napoles, was the mastermind behind the pork barrel scam. “Minadali. The 9,560-page complaint was hastily done. It is filled with inconsistencies, defects and loopholes. The amendment even made it worse,” the Sandiganbayan justice, who requested anonymity, said about the government’s case against Revilla and two other opposition senators, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. “The amendment made it worse because to establish conspiracy, the prosecution has to have evidence to prove that Revilla was in cahoots with Napoles from the start, such as in setting up the bogus NGOs and carrying out the scam. But based on the evidence submitted that was made the basis of the three separate 10,000-page complaints, conspiracy was not established with Revilla’s camp even claiming that the senator’s signature was forged in pertinent documents,” the justice told the Manila Standard. The defense pounced on the denied amendment, declaring they would use it against to prosecution as proof that the plunder case against Revilla was “defective and void from the start.”  “We amended the case information to emphasize that the senator was the one who amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with his co-accused public officer and private individuals,” the special prosecutor told the court during Revilla’s arraignment Thursday. “The prosecutors deemed it wise to amend them to minimize, if not obviate, objections therein by certain accused which may cause undue delay in the proceedings,” the special prosecutor said. The amended complaint sought to emphasize that Napoles and her cohorts were private individuals who collaborated with the senators in amassing ill-gotten wealth. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Ombudsman vows probe on DAP transactions

JULY 2 --Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales announced on Wednesday that she will form a panel of field investigators to look into the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) transactions to see if any crime or offense has been committed by involved public officials. "In light of the Supreme Court's Decision on the DAP case, we are initiating an investigation into the matter," Morales said in a statement. Under Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, the Ombudsman may, motu proprio (on its own) or even without a lodged complaint, initiate an investigation on “any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.” The law also grants the Ombudsman the power to investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by impeachable officers, but only for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment, if warranted. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Binay still open to have Jinggoy as 2016 VP bet

JULY 2 --Vice President Jojo Binay has not dropped Sen. Jinggoy Estrada as his possible running mate in the 2016 presidential elections. At the same time, former President and now Mayor of Manila Joseph “Erap” Estrada in another interview also said that he believes his son Jinggoy will be acquitted and that the senator can certainly run for the vice presidential post for the 2016 presidential polls. If Jinggoy does run for the second highest post, the former President indicated that he not only will support his son’s run but will also campaign for Jinggoy. Mayor Estrada was still in detention in 2004 when his son Jinggoy ran for the Senate. His open endorsement for Jinggoy resulted in the son’s victory. Estrada’s endorsement power is well-known. Due to his popularity with the masses, Estrada succeeded in getting his wife, Dra. Loi Estrada, elected as senator in 2001. He was also instrumental in having his other son, JV Ejercito, win a Senate seat in 2013. VP Binay yesterday said he is still open to the possibility of inviting Senator Estrada as his running-mate in the 2016 elections. He also said that just because Jinggoy has been charged with plunder and graft and detained, does not mean he should be treated like a leper, stressing that those detained are presumed innocent. Binay said he will visit Jinggoy in his cell at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
“Why won’t I visit? When I have time, I will visit him. He is my friend. Even the Bible says: ‘When did you visit those in prison?’” he told reporters. “He (Jinggoy) is a person. He is a friend. Why should he be treated like a leper? Just because he (Estrada) was charged, your friendship has to end?” Binay pointed out. * RAD MORE...

ALSO: Who’s accountable? Who’s to be penalized?

JULY 2 --“The question now is: Who is accountable and who should be penalized?” Groups seeking to nail President Aquino over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) would have to consider a key document previously mentioned by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad while trying to defend the controversial budget impounding system. Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones said she was not sure if Abad was able to furnish the high tribunal a copy of the President’s so-called “written instruction” for the implementation of the DAP. She said the document would indicate that the secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was not acting on his own, but was instead following “instructions” from the President. During the court hearing in November, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had sought evidence that the President had authorized Abad to create the DAP. Last November during the high court’s oral arguments on DAP’s legality, Carpio looked for links to the President authorizing Abad to create the DAP. Carpio said he saw nothing. But Briones recalled that Aquino had issued public pronouncements defending the DBM’s move to accelerate spending through DAP. In October last year, the President lamented before foreign correspondents that the DAP was being “unjustly and oddly vilified in the media.” Back then, he sought to distance the DAP from the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund, saying “the only thing one could remotely relate to PDAF were those projects undertaken through consultation with our legislators.” As in the PDAF practice before, the DAP allowed legislators to receive additional lump-sum appropriations coming from “savings” pooled by the DBM. Briones on Tuesday said that President Aquino could be held liable after the Supreme Court struck down the DAP as unconstitutional. “He is vulnerable to an impeachment complaint,” Briones told the Inquirer in a phone interview. Briones, who heads the budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines, said she and her group were not surprised by the court decision. * READ MORE...

ALSO: DAP’s juggling of government savings demands vigilance

JULY 2 --PHOTO - Volunteers against Crime and Corruption founding chair Dante Jimenez: Vigilance. It’s all about the return of the power of the purse to Congress.
But in the ultimate analysis, the decision of the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional activities under Malacañang’s juggling of government savings under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) required vigilance. “This is a partial victory for us since the major portions of the DAP were declared unconstitutional. It’s short of saying the DAP is illegal,” Volunteers against Crime and Corruption founding chair Dante Jimenez said in a phone interview. “We hope this will be the start of sustained efforts to come up with more aggressive monitoring against unjust spending of public funds,” he said. Sen. Ralph Recto said the administration was no longer doing the acts that the high court had struck down, unilaterally stopping these acts.
“There could have been an oversight in the way the funds were released, but I’m sure by and large they were properly spent,” he said. Recto also said the Court’s ruling weakened the executive and strengthened Congress’ power of the purse. “It weakens the executive’s ability to realign funds and make its own budget and so on and so forth, that’s my impression of the ruling. So I welcome the ruling in that sense,” he said. Challenge is accountability
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes called the court ruling “a blow to the presidential lump sum and discretionary spending or presidential pork under Aquino.” “The big challenge now is accountability. We will pursue this for sure. Aquino and (Budget Secretary Florencio) Abad should be answerable to the people. Billions were spent as presidential pork, used to influence Congress. “The DAP became a source of corruption and a tool to control other branches of government. Something illegal was committed. Someone must be held to account. We’re referring to you, Mr. President. All legal options are on the table,” Reyes said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Where, oh where has President Aquino gone?

JUNE 23 --Malacañang on Monday denied that President Benigno Aquino III was deliberately hiding from the public amid the many pressing issues faced by the country.
“He’s not missing in action,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told media in response to a columnist’s observation that Aquino was last seen in public on Independence Day (June 12). He pointed out that the Malacañang Press Corps regularly receives the daily schedule of the President. “Ang nagkataon po lamang ay wala ho siyang mga events na dinadaluhan. But he is in the office,” Lacierda said.
(It just so happens he has not attended any event outside Malacañang. But he is in the office.) “You all know the schedule of the President, he meets with various Cabinet officials; he meets various personalities, focusing on the daily business of governance,” the spokesperson told Palace reporters.
“So let me assure you that the President, while he may not be seen publicly, the President is engaged and occupied in the daily business of governance,” he added. So where has the President been after he celebrated the 116th Philippine Independence Day on June 12? * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy busy with work, not missing in action - Lacierda

JUNE 23 --Malacañang on Monday responded to criticisms that President Aquino has been missing in action, saying he is continuously performing his duties even if he is not seen in public. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino is “focusing on the daily business of governance” even if he is not attending events. “Members of the Malacañang Press Corps know the daily activities of President Aquino. So he’s not missing in action,” Lacierda said in a press conference. “He meets with various cabinet officials, he meets various personalities, focusing on the daily business of governance,” he added. Lacierda was asked to react to a piece written by The STAR columnist Alex Magno, who noted that Aquino has not been seen in public since the Independence Day celebration in Naga. In his column published June 21, Magno said it is not the time for Aquino to be utterly invisible because many “distressing things” are happening almost simultaneously like the rising prices of food items. “Part of the responsibilities of the Chief Executive is to reassure his people during times of distress,” Magno said. * READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

Plunder raps ‘defective’

MANILA, JULY 6, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Christine F. Herrera, Joyce Pangco Pañares and Rio N. Araja

Sandiganbayan junks Ombudsman revision


Alleged pork-barrel scam Janet Lim-Napoles (in hood) is shown leaving the Sandiganbayan after she pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. Revilla refused to enter a plea, forcing the anti-graft court to do it for him. Manny Palmero

A SANDIGANBAYAN justice said Thursday that prosecutors have yet to establish “the body of crime” in their plunder complaint, as the First Division of the anti-graft court denied a bid by the Ombudsman to amend the charge sheet to show that Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., and not Janet Lim Napoles, was the mastermind behind the pork barrel scam.

“Minadali. The 9,560-page complaint was hastily done. It is filled with inconsistencies, defects and loopholes. The amendment even made it worse,” the Sandiganbayan justice, who requested anonymity, said about the government’s case against Revilla and two other opposition senators, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

“The amendment made it worse because to establish conspiracy, the prosecution has to have evidence to prove that Revilla was in cahoots with Napoles from the start, such as in setting up the bogus NGOs and carrying out the scam. But based on the evidence submitted that was made the basis of the three separate 10,000-page complaints, conspiracy was not established with Revilla’s camp even claiming that the senator’s signature was forged in pertinent documents,” the justice told the Manila Standard.

The defense pounced on the denied amendment, declaring they would use it against to prosecution as proof that the plunder case against Revilla was “defective and void from the start.”

“We amended the case information to emphasize that the senator was the one who amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with his co-accused public officer and private individuals,” the special prosecutor told the court during Revilla’s arraignment Thursday.

“The prosecutors deemed it wise to amend them to minimize, if not obviate, objections therein by certain accused which may cause undue delay in the proceedings,” the special prosecutor said.

The amended complaint sought to emphasize that Napoles and her cohorts were private individuals who collaborated with the senators in amassing ill-gotten wealth.

* Under the law, only government officials can be charged with plunder. The prosecutor also sought to delete the phrase that said “enabling Napoles to misappropriate the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) proceeds for her personal gain.” Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, said the move was aimed at taking the heat off Napoles and making the senator the mastermind of the scam.

“It was done to justify that Napoles was not the most guilty so she can be made a state witness,” Bodegon added. At his arraignment, Revilla refused to enter a plea, so the court entered a “not guilty” plea for him.

“The prosecution’s move is a judicial admission that they have no case against Revilla,” Bodegon said.

In indicting Revilla, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales charged that the senator collected some P224.512 million in kickbacks from 2006 to 2010 from the alleged illegal disbursement of his PDAF allocations.

But the Sandiganbayan justice who spoke to the Manila Standard descred Morales as an “amateurish featherweight” who allowed the defective complaint reach the anti-graft court.

The justice said he could not understand why Morales, a retired Supreme Court associate justice, allowed loopholes in the complaint, making it vulnerable to attack from the defense. The Justice explained that the affidavit of Napoles employee-turned whistleblower Benhur Luy was made the basis of all three complaints against the senators.

“In Benhur Luy’s affidavit, he said John Raymond de Asis, Napoles’ driver, ‘helped’ in the preparation of the money. But in the complaint, the prosecution stated that De Asis ‘delivered’ the money.

That’s a serious overlook, if indeed it was overlooked,” the justice said. The justice added that there was no paper or money trail leading to Enrile.

“Evidence shows that in 10 deliveries made by Ruby Tuason, Gigi Reyes [Enrile’s former chief of staff] only received once. The rest, Tuason received on behalf of Enrile,” the justice said.

In the case of Estrada, Tuason claimed to have delivered the money to the senator but said she did not know how much money was delivered, the justice said. Asked why the Sandiganbayan found probable cause to issue arrest warrants against the senators, the justice said: “Finding probable cause is far different from finding the accused guilty and sentencing them.”

“With all the hype about truckloads of evidence, the prosecution has yet to establish the body of crime,” the justice concluded. “The justices will rule based only on evidence at hand, and presented.

The prosecution had better make up their minds real soon and come up with better and stronger arguments and evidence.” The Palace said it was confident that the plunder cases against the three opposition senators were strong, despite the Ombudsman’s failure to have the charge sheet amended.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the Justice Department did a thorough investigation and built an evidence-based air-tight case.

“We believe the concerned agency of the government has already done what it should do. The DoJ has done its homework. They have spent enough time to examine the merit of the case that they have filed,” Coloma said.

“We are confident that sufficient work has been done to build a credible and convincing case,” he added. Coloma said the Ombudsman’s special prosecutor was acting “well withing the rules of court” in seeking to amend the charge sheet.

Despite its failure with the Revilla case, the Ombudsman’s prosecutors sought to file similar amendments in the plunder cases against Estrada and Enrile. Enrile “was the one who amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with his accused public officer and private individuals,” the prosecutors said.

The prosecutors are also seeking to alter portions of the original information sheet against Estrada to highlight his role in directing the pork barrel scam.

“By exerting undue pressure on the implementing agencies to favorable act on his endorsements of the NGO’s of Napoles to ensure that his PDAF be in the possession and control of Napoles and her cohorts which undue pressure and endorsements were made in exchange for kickbacks, percentage or commissions, thereby unjustly enriching himself at the expense and to the damage and prejudice, of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines,” the amended information said.

The Fifth Division trying the Estrada case will hear the prosecutor’s amendment as well as Estrada’s bail petition today. Estrada’s arraignment is set on June 30 at 8:30 a.m.

FROM PHILSTAR

Ombudsman vows probe on DAP transactions By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated July 2, 2014 - 4:46pm


CARPIO

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales announced on Wednesday that she will form a panel of field investigators to look into the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) transactions to see if any crime or offense has been committed by involved public officials.

"In light of the Supreme Court's Decision on the DAP case, we are initiating an investigation into the matter," Morales said in a statement.

Under Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, the Ombudsman may, motu proprio (on its own) or even without a lodged complaint, initiate an investigation on “any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.”

The law also grants the Ombudsman the power to investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by impeachable officers, but only for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment, if warranted.

FROM THE INQUIRER

DAP’s juggling of government savings demands vigilance By Jerome Aning, Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer5:52 am | Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014


Volunteers against Crime and Corruption founding chair Dante Jimenez: Vigilance. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–It’s all about the return of the power of the purse to Congress.

But in the ultimate analysis, the decision of the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional activities under Malacañang’s juggling of government savings under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) required vigilance.

“This is a partial victory for us since the major portions of the DAP were declared unconstitutional. It’s short of saying the DAP is illegal,” Volunteers against Crime and Corruption founding chair Dante Jimenez said in a phone interview.

“We hope this will be the start of sustained efforts to come up with more aggressive monitoring against unjust spending of public funds,” he said.

Sen. Ralph Recto said the administration was no longer doing the acts that the high court had struck down, unilaterally stopping these acts.

“There could have been an oversight in the way the funds were released, but I’m sure by and large they were properly spent,” he said.

Recto also said the Court’s ruling weakened the executive and strengthened Congress’ power of the purse.

“It weakens the executive’s ability to realign funds and make its own budget and so on and so forth, that’s my impression of the ruling. So I welcome the ruling in that sense,” he said.

Challenge is accountability

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes called the court ruling “a blow to the presidential lump sum and discretionary spending or presidential pork under Aquino.”

“The big challenge now is accountability. We will pursue this for sure. Aquino and (Budget Secretary Florencio) Abad should be answerable to the people. Billions were spent as presidential pork, used to influence Congress.

“The DAP became a source of corruption and a tool to control other branches of government. Something illegal was committed. Someone must be held to account. We’re referring to you, Mr. President. All legal options are on the table,” Reyes said.

* Greco Belgica called on Congress to investigate the DAP and its perpetrators so that the scheme would not be repeated.

“If the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which is covered by law, is illegal, how can the DAP—which has no law cover—be legal? It cannot. The pork barrel system in all its names and forms is illegal,” Belgica said.

Santiago calls for inquiry

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago praised the Supreme Court’s ruling and said it favored Congress.

At the same time, she once more called on the Commission on Audit to look into the alleged bribery of Congress members during Corona’s trial last year in connection with the DAP.

“Both the pork barrel and DAP scandals are equally repulsive, and the Supreme Court declared both funds unconstitutional. I wholeheartedly welcome the impartial adjudication of these abominable abuses of public funds by the Supreme Court since I cannot obtain relief from the Senate itself, which appeared to have been complicit in bribery,” she said in a statement.

According to her, every senator who voted to convict and every House member who voted to indict Corona, and who would be shown to have gotten additional pork during and immediately after the impeachment trial, were presumably guilty of bribery considering the close timing of the two events.

The Makati Business Club (MBC) said it expected the Supreme Court decision to “better guide the government in the prudent management and utilization of public resources.”

“We recall that the DAP was the means by which government accelerated much-needed infrastructure projects that had slowed down due to a careful review by the Aquino administration of all projects in line with its policy of zero tolerance for corruption,” MBC executive director Peter Perfecto said in a text message.

“The MBC nevertheless views with respect the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling declaring these acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, National Budget Circular No. 41, and related issuances as unconstitutional,” he added.–With a report from Amy R. Remo

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Binay still open to have Jinggoy as 2016 VP bet Written by Tribune Wednesday, 02 July 2014 00:00


Despite being arrested and jailed on plunder charges, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (right) remains on the opposition’s vice presidential list for 2016, Vice President Jejomar Binay (left) said on Tuesday. COURTESY OF INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Vice President Jojo Binay has not dropped Sen. Jinggoy Estrada as his possible running mate in the 2016 presidential elections.

At the same time, former President and now Mayor of Manila Joseph “Erap” Estrada in another interview also said that he believes his son Jinggoy will be acquitted and that the senator can certainly run for the vice presidential post for the 2016 presidential polls.

If Jinggoy does run for the second highest post, the former President indicated that he not only will support his son’s run but will also campaign for Jinggoy.

Mayor Estrada was still in detention in 2004 when his son Jinggoy ran for the Senate. His open endorsement for Jinggoy resulted in the son’s victory.

Estrada’s endorsement power is well-known. Due to his popularity with the masses, Estrada succeeded in getting his wife, Dra. Loi Estrada, elected as senator in 2001. He was also instrumental in having his other son, JV Ejercito, win a Senate seat in 2013.

VP Binay yesterday said he is still open to the possibility of inviting Senator Estrada as his running-mate in the 2016 elections.

He also said that just because Jinggoy has been charged with plunder and graft and detained, does not mean he should be treated like a leper, stressing that those detained are presumed innocent.

Binay said he will visit Jinggoy in his cell at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

“Why won’t I visit? When I have time, I will visit him. He is my friend. Even the Bible says: ‘When did you visit those in prison?’” he told reporters.

“He (Jinggoy) is a person. He is a friend. Why should he be treated like a leper? Just because he (Estrada) was charged, your friendship has to end?” Binay pointed out.

* On the question of a reporter saying that since the accused can still be a candidate, would Senator Jinggoy become your VP candidate, VP Binay replied by saying that they are all in his list.

“I am open to the idea of having Jinggoy, as well as the others, as my running mate. It is still early days to say just who will be my running mate,” he said.

Estrada is facing one count of plunder and 11 counts of graft for allegedly diverting his priority development assistance funds to fake non-government organizations of Janet Lim Napoles. The senator is accused of pocketing P183.79 million in kickbacks from Napoles.

The Ombudsman also wants the Sandiganbayan to suspend from office Estrada, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and lawyer Richard Cambe due to the plunder cases filed before the Sandiganbayan.

But Binay said that while suspension of officials such as the senators who are now detained in the PNP custodial center, is within the rules, there is still a question on who can order the suspension of the senators, as it is only the Senate that can suspend its own members.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Who’s accountable? Who’s to be penalized? By Christian V. Esguerra, Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:57 am | Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014


Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, head of the budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines: President Aquino is vulnerable to an impeachment complaint. PHOTO from Facebook account

MANILA, Philippines–“The question now is: Who is accountable and who should be penalized?”

Groups seeking to nail President Aquino over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) would have to consider a key document previously mentioned by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad while trying to defend the controversial budget impounding system.

Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones said she was not sure if Abad was able to furnish the high tribunal a copy of the President’s so-called “written instruction” for the implementation of the DAP. She said the document would indicate that the secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was not acting on his own, but was instead following “instructions” from the President.

During the court hearing in November, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had sought evidence that the President had authorized Abad to create the DAP.

Last November during the high court’s oral arguments on DAP’s legality, Carpio looked for links to the President authorizing Abad to create the DAP.

Carpio said he saw nothing.

But Briones recalled that Aquino had issued public pronouncements defending the DBM’s move to accelerate spending through DAP.

In October last year, the President lamented before foreign correspondents that the DAP was being “unjustly and oddly vilified in the media.”

Back then, he sought to distance the DAP from the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund, saying “the only thing one could remotely relate to PDAF were those projects undertaken through consultation with our legislators.”

As in the PDAF practice before, the DAP allowed legislators to receive additional lump-sum appropriations coming from “savings” pooled by the DBM.

Briones on Tuesday said that President Aquino could be held liable after the Supreme Court struck down the DAP as unconstitutional.

“He is vulnerable to an impeachment complaint,” Briones told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Briones, who heads the budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines, said she and her group were not surprised by the court decision.

* “There’s no other way but to declare it unconstitutional because it is clearly unconstitutional. It’s a victory for us in Social Watch because we have been campaigning against the abuse of savings since 2006,” she said.

Where the buck stops

The DBM did so on the strength of National Budget Circular No. 541, which allowed Abad’s agency to collect “unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 20, 2012, both for continuing and current allotments.”

In case Abad acted alone, Briones said it would have to be determined whether the President was “responsible for the actions of his Cabinet members.”

“To me personally, I would not expect the President to know the constitutionality of every item in the budget. He could only be acting on the advice of his Cabinet members or advisers,” she said.

But with the budget secretary implementing the DAP and the President publicly defending the mechanism, Briones said “either Abad or the President or both” could be made accountable now that the practice had been declared unconstitutional.

Heads must roll

Malacañang declined immediate comment. “I will refrain from making any comments until I see the full text of the SC decision,” Abad likewise said.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada exposed the lump-sum funds during a privilege speech after he was implicated in the PDAF scam.

He said that the DBM made available DAP funds for senators’ projects after the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, prompting the Palace to reveal details of the DAP.

“Heads must roll and budget officials must be held accountable. I thank the Supreme Court for respecting and upholding the Congress’ exclusive power of the purse,” Estrada said in a statement.

But Sen. Ralph Recto doubted that an impeachment case against the President would prosper.

“The impeachment process is also political. I don’t see that happening realistically because I think the President has many supporters in Congress,” Recto told reporters.

He said there were people who may believe there’s a basis to impeach the President, but making this attempt successful was another matter.

As to whether Abad should resign, he said it was Abad’s personal decision to make.

Charge it to experience

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said he did not think an impeachment case against the President over the DAP ruling would prosper. The President has not been accused of pocketing any funds, he noted.

“If [the impeachment case] would pass in the House, it would not pass in the Senate. This is not a case where he declared savings and then pocketed the funds, that would be another matter. In this case, he used the funds to fulfill his mandate as President of the Philippines, he spent it on programs he believed would help the country’s development,” he told reporters.

Asked who should be held liable for the DAP, he said he received information that the Supreme Court’s ruling was prospective.

Longtime practice

“So they will charge it to experience. Maybe they did this in good faith in the first place. I think with the credibility of the President, the public is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” he added.

Members of the Makabayan bloc, one of the petitioners in the case, expect an impeachment complaint against President Aquino. House leaders said this was improbable given the President’s broad support at the chamber.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said: “For sure, President Aquino will be facing an impeachment complaint when Congress reopens at the end of this month which will certainly cast a dark cloud over his upcoming State of the Nation Address.”

But Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the court decision did not provide any grounds to impeach the President. He said the President had always practiced “good faith and sincere intentions” in his policy decisions.

Belmonte said that this practice of impounding the budget and transferring funds to other agencies had been a “longtime practice.”

“Incidentally, they have no votes,” said Belmonte noting that at least one-third vote of the 290 House members was required to impeach the President.–With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan and DJ Yap

Where, oh where has President Aquino gone? By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net5:21 pm | Monday, June 23rd, 2014


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday denied that President Benigno Aquino III was deliberately hiding from the public amid the many pressing issues faced by the country.

“He’s not missing in action,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told media in response to a columnist’s observation that Aquino was last seen in public on Independence Day (June 12).

He pointed out that the Malacañang Press Corps regularly receives the daily schedule of the President.

“Ang nagkataon po lamang ay wala ho siyang mga events na dinadaluhan. But he is in the office,” Lacierda said.
(It just so happens he has not attended any event outside Malacañang. But he is in the office.)

“You all know the schedule of the President, he meets with various Cabinet officials; he meets various personalities, focusing on the daily business of governance,” the spokesperson told Palace reporters.

“So let me assure you that the President, while he may not be seen publicly, the President is engaged and occupied in the daily business of governance,” he added.

So where has the President been after he celebrated the 116th Philippine Independence Day on June 12?

* Below was his schedule earlier sent to Palace reporters and later published at the Official Gazette website:

June 13: Attended the wake of Urbiztondo Mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr. who was assassinated on June 7. (Read: Aquino visits slain mayor’s wake, checks crime scene)

June 16: Whole day meetings with Cabinet members and agencies
10am – Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (CPLC) Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima;
1pm – Executive Secretary, Cabinet Secretary, CPLC, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance (DOF) and the Governance Commission for GOCCs;
2pm – DOF, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)

June 17: Whole day meetings with Cabinet members and agencies
10am – Executive Secretary, CPLC, DOTC, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice; 1:30pm – Executive Secretary and Department of Energy; 2:30pm – Department of Social Welfare and Development and Executive Secretary

June 18: Whole day meetings with Cabinet members and agencies
10am – Commission on Human Rights and National Historical Commission of the Philippines ;
11am – Executive Secretary and Department of Budget and Management;
1:30pm – Executive Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and CPLC

June 19: Attended the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board meeting

June 20: Whole day meetings with Cabinet members and agencies
10am – Presidential Management Staff and Cabinet Secretaries;
1pm – Executive Secretary, National Security Advisor and Department of Foreign Affairs, 3pm – Executive Secretary and CPLC

June 23: Whole day meetings with Cabinet members and agencies
10am – Cabinet Secretary and residential Management Staff;
1pm Office of the Executive Secretary, CPLC, etc.;
3pm – DBM, DOF, Executive Secretary, etc.)

FROM PHILSTAR

PNoy busy with work, not missing in action - Lacierda By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated June 23, 2014 - 6:11pm


File photo of President Aquino.

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Monday responded to criticisms that President Aquino has been missing in action, saying he is continuously performing his duties even if he is not seen in public.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino is “focusing on the daily business of governance” even if he is not attending events.

“Members of the Malacañang Press Corps know the daily activities of President Aquino. So he’s not missing in action,” Lacierda said in a press conference.

“He meets with various cabinet officials, he meets various personalities, focusing on the daily business of governance,” he added.

Lacierda was asked to react to a piece written by The STAR columnist Alex Magno, who noted that Aquino has not been seen in public since the Independence Day celebration in Naga.

In his column published June 21, Magno said it is not the time for Aquino to be utterly invisible because many “distressing things” are happening almost simultaneously like the rising prices of food items.

“Part of the responsibilities of the Chief Executive is to reassure his people during times of distress,” Magno said.

* “All of us want to hear from our leader an explanation about what is happening, when will the price spikes plateau, what is government doing to protect its citizens from the epidemic of crime and the curse of unaffordable food.”

Magno said Aquino has never been inclined to work too hard.

“He (Aquino) keeps short hours. He does not relish public functions. He rushes off from them as soon as he is done with his speech,” the columnist said.

“He is never at his happiest during meetings. He never convened the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), although regular meetings are legally stipulated. He convenes his Cabinet only irregularly and often only as a response to a problem cropping up.:

Magno also claimed that the anxieties of the Filipino people “are met with stony silence.”

Critics have accused Aquino of not doing enough to solve the country’s problems and even coined the term “Noynoying” to denote his supposed inaction on pressing matters.

Palace officials, however, insist that Aquino is continuously doing his job even if he is not seen publicly.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE