ABAYA, 20 OTHERS FACE MRT 3 PROBE 

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya and 20 others are facing criminal and administrative investigation in connection with the alleged anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3). Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the investigation probe based on the recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman-Field Investigation Office (OMB-FIO). Aside from Abaya, also facing investigation for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act are former MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol III; Department of Transportation and Communications Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco, Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos, Assistant Secretary Ildefonso Patdu, Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin, and LRTA Administrator Honorito Chaneco.

Members of the negotiating team will also be investigated. They are: Misael Narca, Engr. Joel Magbanua, Arnel Manresa, Natividad Sansolis, Engr. Gina Rodriguez, Eugene Cecilio, Engr. Raphael Lavides, lawyer Geronimo Quintos; and representatives from the joint venture of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation-Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation (PH Trams-CB&T) Wilson de Vera, Arturo Soriano, Marlo dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo. SEPARATE CHARGES Apart from facing graft investigation, Vitangcol, De Vera, Soriano, Dela Cruz, Maralit, and Remo face separate charges for violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act. Vitangcol left MRT in May 2014. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy still trusts Abaya, Purisima

President Aquino still trusts Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Alan Purisima despite their legal troubles, Malacañang said yesterday. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President still does not consider the two government officials as liability or heavy baggage to him, affirming that both of them continue to perform their duties even as they face separate corruption probes. Abaya is under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged anomalous Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line 3 maintenance contract while Purisima faces a plunder complaint for alleged unexplained wealth. Both officials are facing mounting calls to take a leave or resign.

The Palace earlier left to the sound discretion of both Abaya and Purisima whether or not to go on leave after recently being embroiled in controversies. Coloma, speaking on government radio, maintained that Abaya still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Aquino. “He joined the President’s visit to Europe where he actively participated in the President’s meetings with various investors,” Coloma said in Filipino when asked if the embattled officials could still effectively perform their jobs. “To my knowledge, the President’s trust and confidence in him is intact,” Coloma added. In the case of Purisima, the President has vouched for the character of Purisima even as he awaits for his explanation on the corruption allegations hurled against him.

“On PNP chief Purisima, the President announced in a recent media interview that he wanted to give Police Director General Purisima a chance to explain the issues that recently surfaced,” Coloma said. DEFENDING PURISIMA The President earlier defended Purisima from graft allegations, saying the police chief was neither greedy nor living a luxurious lifestyle. Purisima, still on an official travel abroad, was accused of plunder by a consumer rights group for his alleged unexplained wealth, including a mansion in Nueva Ecija. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Let Abad answer for DAP – Aquino   

President Aquino on Tuesday (US time) said Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad should answer reports that members of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) cornered most of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds. “Perhaps, I think the question should be better directed to Secretary Abad who would know all of the details and would have the details on hand,” Aquino said, when asked to comment on the disclosure of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesman Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco that 10 members of the LP headed the list of recipients of millions of pesos worth of funds released via the DAP.

The top 10 DAP recipients, according to Tiangco, are: former Rep. Joseph Abaya, now the acting LP president (P408 million); Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. (P297.4 million); Majority Floor Leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II (P263 million); former Rep. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi (P217.8 million); former Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel (P179.5 million); Deputy Speaker Henedina Abad (P176.6 million); former Rep. Edgar San Luis (P160.2 million); former Rep. Tomas Osmeña (P124.1 million); former Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada (P120.5 million); and Rep. Nelson Collantes (P110 million).

Tiangco told reporters in Manila that the DAP list was based on uploaded information from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) website. ALLIES NOT SPARED Meanwhile, the President denied allegations that his allies have been spared by his administration’s campaign against corruption. He cited the cases of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Grace Padaca and former Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) general manager Nereus Acosta as proof that everyone is covered by the anti-graft drive.

During the World Leaders Forum in Columbia University Aquino, Liwayway Arce, a student from the Philippines, asked him if his anti-corruption slogan also applies to everybody under the Philippine flag, including his friends. Arce, a Master of Law student who claimed to have voted for Aquino because of his “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path) slogan, raised the question, noting that “topmost or highest officials in government, including Cabinet members have been implicated in issues questioning their integrity.” Aquino was quick to point out that his predecessor – former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – is in jail as well as three incumbent senators, referring to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong Revilla Jr. “Their cohorts in the pork barrel scam are also in jail, in detention awaiting trial,” Aquino added. * READ MORE...

ALSO: DBM hit for scrapping Comelec’s proposed budget for overseas absentee voting  

SEPT 4---Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO —A lawmaker scored the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for not giving the Commission on Elections (Comelec) its budget for the resumption of the overseas absentee voting (OAV) registration. During the budget hearing in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they could make do with the zero budget by using their savings for the OAV registration. In its presentation, the Comelec said its proposed budget for OAV registration at P89.6 million was not included by the DBM in the Comelec’s 2015 budget in the National Expenditure Program (NEP).

This irked Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who chairs the House committee on overseas workers affairs, as he urged the DBM to restore the proposed budget in the NEP. “The committee will not rest until Comelec gets what it proposed for OAV,” Bello said. Brillantes said Congress need not pass a supplemental budget for the OAV registration, and that the Comelec might be able to save funds during their bidding for the 2016 elections. The Comelec is seeking a P16.944 billion in their 2015 budget in the NEP, but what they proposed to DBM is worth P35.97 billion. Under the budget, at least P12.6 billion is allocated for the preparation of the 2016 presidential elections. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Trillanes demands Tribune belie story, threatens libel 

Lawyers of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had threatened to file a libel case against The Tribune for supposedly “maliciously and deliberately” singling out Trillanes and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who the daily broadsheet reported in a an article to have received allocations from the unconstitutional Disbursement Accele-ration Program (DAP) close to the 2013 national elections. Law firm Chan, Robles and Associates, which is representing Trillanes, wrote The Tribune that “for the record, our client (Trillanes) has not received, directly or indirectly, even a single centavo from any project he endorsed for funding by the administration and neither has he unduly benefited from the same.”
The article which appreared Sept. 22 on The Tribune was headlined DAP bankrolled 2013 bids of Noy allies with a kicker “P153M FOR CAYETANO, P156M FOR TRILLANES” was based on DAP documents the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted to the House of Representatives.

According to The Tribune article DAP documents “showed that between October 2012 and the campaign period for the previous national elections, Cayetano received a total of P156 million and Trillanes, P153 million from the DAP classified as various infrastructure and local roads.” “For Cayetano, DAP disbursements totaled P46 million on Oct. 2, 2012 for 12 projects, P10 million for four projecyts on December 10, 2012; P4.938 million for one project on Dec. 11, 2012; and P98 million for 30 projects on March 20, 2013,” read the article. “Trillanes obtained from the DAP P58 million for 23 projects all on October 2, 2012; and P95.036 million in 24 projects on February 12, 2013, the exact day that the campaign period started for the 2013 senatorial race,” it added.

Trillanes’ lawyers issued a demand to “rectify” what they claimed as “false and malicious claims, allegations and insinuations which you made in your subject front page banner headline story against our client, with equal space and prominence as the original offending story, within seven days from your receipt hereof.” They said that failure to do so “shall constrain us, much against our desire, to initiate the appropriate criminal and/or civil action for libel, defamation and/or damages to protect and vindicate our client’s rights.” The Tribune publisher and editor-in-chief Ninez Cacho Olivarez said The Tribune had never recanted a story which are all based on hard data and has no intention to do so for Trillanes. * READ MORE...

ALSO: DAP used as admin allies campaign kitty — Tiangco  

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president and Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco
believes that the P10 to P11 billion economic stimulus fund released to congressmen and senators, and billions given to governors and mayors were part of the Liberal Party’s agenda to guarantee the victory of administration bets in the 2013 elections. According to him, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which was intended as an economic stimulus fund, was actually used as a campaign kitty of the Liberal Party in the 2013 elections as most of its recipients were members and allies of the administration.

Between 2011 and 2013, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released closed to P11 billion DAP funds to 116 congressmen and 22 senators who were mostly members of the ruling party and closely identified with Malacañang. “It really pays to be friends with the administration. Imagine, even if he has yet to run as congressman, he was already given campaign funds,” Tiangco noted. Tiangco was referring to the P35.5 million Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice received from DAP in 2013 which was booked under the report entitled “List of Lawmaker-Endorsed DAP Projects” on the DBM website. Erice was Caloocan City vice mayor at the time but he was able to get DAP which was tucked in the report for lawmakers. A lot of DAP given to local government officials were also given DAP from this fund.

“It can be seen in the DBM-released DAP list, it was not only lawmakers who received DAP — there were also governors, mayors and vice mayors, allied with LP, who received money in the guise of ‘assistance to local government units’ not authorized under the GAA,” he added. Tiangco said based on DBM’s incomplete DAP list, one can already see the pattern of fund releases to LP members and local political leaders months before the 2013 elections. “We can almost see the pattern who got the biggest DAP allocation, and we can safely say that top honchos of the Liberal Party received the biggest slice of the DAP largesse,” he noted. The UNA president said Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad made sure that recipients of DAP were all from LP to guarantee the victory of Team PNOY and local elective posts during the 2013 elections. According to Tiangco, there was also an attempt on Abad’s side to deceive the public by misplacing the DAP figures and amounts from some of the administration lawmakers.
“Nothing new in defending his allies, that’s what ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path) is all about, defending allies and persecuting political enemies. It’s about vengeance and vindictiveness and that came from PNoy’s (President Aquino’s monicker) mouth directly,” he added. *READ MORE...

ALSO by Solita Collas-Monsod: On Blue Ribbon Committees and ethics  (2013 REPORT)

2013 SEPT 25 ---Its formal name is Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and
Investigations of the Senate of the Philippines, but nobody calls it that. It is known to us as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, currently chaired by Teofisto Guingona III. And it has jurisdiction over “All matters relating to, including investigation of, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office by officers and employees of the government, its branches, agencies, subdivisions and instrumentalities; implementation of the provision of the Constitution on nepotism; and investigation of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of the Senate. Rule X, Section 13 (36)”  That is a mouthful.

But in short, it has jurisdiction not just over all government employees, but everything else under the sun of “public interest.” Phew. No wonder it is called the most powerful committee in the Senate, and its chairmanship is much-sought after. As far as I can tell, the Philippine Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee has no counterpart in the United States Senate. This is a made-in-the Philippines Committee. What they have in the US are blue ribbon panels, also called blue ribbon commissions, formed on an ad hoc basis to study/investigate/analyze some important government question/issue, and are composed of independent/nonpartisan experts and statesmen (the “best and the brightest”) who give their findings and recommendations, which presumably can then be acted on by the decision-makers involved.

Examples of these bodies are the Warren Commission, which investigated the Kennedy assassination, and more recently, the so-called Iraq Study Group, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. In other words, the term “Blue Ribbon” connotes independence, non-partisanship, “the best and the brightest” (experts/statesmen). Which does not exactly describe the membership of our own Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. So, if this committee is made-in-the-Philippines, how did it come about? The answer to that, from Wikipedia and other sources, is that it was the brainchild of Liberal Party Senator Justiniano Montano, who, having been elected to the Philippine Senate in 1949, formed a clique with some partymates, who then proceeded to attack Philippine President Elpidio Quirino (also a Liberal!).

Thus was the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee born: of partymates turning against each other, and in the name of public accountability, investigating presumed irregularities committed by members of the executive branch. As stated earlier, all “in aid of legislation.” Which brings us to today, with another Liberal Party Senate Blue Ribbon Chair, in open disagreement with his partymate Senate President Franklin Drilon, and for that matter, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima, who is the alter ego of his highest-ranking partymate, the President of the Philippines. Carrying on the tradition, one supposes. But that is not what really disturbs. What really disturbs me about that Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation is that up to this time, I still have no clue as to which public officers they are calling into account and/or investigating.

Napoles certainly does not qualify, nor does BenHur Luy, or any of the other whistleblowers whose non-appearance in the Tuesday hearings discombobulated — nay, the more accurate term is “enraged” — the Committee Chair. In the vernacular, the word that comes to mind is “napikon.” What made the whole thing so much worse is that he vented his pique on DOJ’s De Lima, who one must say, reacted in the coolest of fashion. She certainly came out on top in that exchange. But if it is in the “public interest” to investigate Napoles, it is in the even greater public interest to investigate the lawmakers who are sworn to serve the people, and who seem to have stumbled badly or deliberately exploited those very same people. And what is more, there is even greater basis for doing so, in the Commission on Audit (COA) government-wide performance audit report on the 2007-2009 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VILP). * READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion by Erwin Tulfo: Senate no more  

Gone are the days when members of the Philippine Senate were highly respected because of their no nonsense propositions, fiery speeches, and above all, the integrity of each lawmaker. This was how Mang Antonio Cruz, a retired public school teacher now in his 70’s, remembers the legislators in the upper chamber when he was a fresh graduate. Cruz, who came to my office last week to seek assistance for a case over a land dispute, said the senators then were very eloquent and bold in their statements, likening them to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago now.

“They always sounded like the interest of the public comes first rather than their own personal advantage when they file bills and during deliberations,” said the retired high school teacher. He added that he never heard of people accusing these lawmakers back then of being corrupt as everyone looked up to the Senate as an untarnished institution that really worked for the people. “Pero ngayon, parang inuuna pa nila ang kanilang mga sarili at kung papaano kumita gamit ang kanilang mga puwesto at kapangyarihan,” Cruz sadly said.* READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Abaya, 20 others face MRT 3 probe; Ombudsman panel finds no justification for negotiated contract


ABAYA

SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Jun Ramirez - Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya and 20 others are facing criminal and administrative investigation in connection with the alleged anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3).

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the investigation probe based on the recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman-Field Investigation Office (OMB-FIO).

Aside from Abaya, also facing investigation for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act are former MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol III; Department of Transportation and Communications Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco, Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos, Assistant Secretary Ildefonso Patdu, Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin, and LRTA Administrator Honorito Chaneco.

Members of the negotiating team will also be investigated. They are: Misael Narca, Engr. Joel Magbanua, Arnel Manresa, Natividad Sansolis, Engr. Gina Rodriguez, Eugene Cecilio, Engr. Raphael Lavides, lawyer Geronimo Quintos; and representatives from the joint venture of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation-Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation (PH Trams-CB&T) Wilson de Vera, Arturo Soriano, Marlo dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo.

SEPARATE CHARGES

Apart from facing graft investigation, Vitangcol, De Vera, Soriano, Dela Cruz, Maralit, and Remo face separate charges for violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act. Vitangcol left MRT in May 2014.

* Abaya, Lotilla, Limcaoco, Santos, Patdu, Lantin, Chaneco, Narca, Magbanua, Manresa, Sansolis, Rodriguez, Cecilio, Lavides, Quintos, and Arturo Soriano, who is now the provincial accountant of Pangasinan, are also facing administrative charges for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

ABAYA TO COOPERATE

Abaya vowed to cooperate with the Ombudsman probe, saying “if you have nothing to hide, there is no reason to fear any investigation.”

“We remain committed to transparency and the eradication of corruption in government. Ultimately, it is the public that will benefit from the search for truth,” Abaya added.

The FIO said that a maintenance agreement for the trains was entered into in December, 1997, between the MRT Corporation (MRTC) as facility owner and the Sumitomo Corporation for its safe and proper operations.

The original maintenance agreement between MRTC and Sumitomo expired on June 21, 2010 and had undergone four extensions from June, 2010, until October, 2012.

FIO probers said that in October, 2012, the negotiating team recommended that the maintenance project be awarded to PH Trams-CB&T joint venture for a monthly pay of $1.15 million.

Days later on October 20, 2012, the project was awarded to PH Trams-CB&T without public bidding.

NO EMERGENCY SITUATION

The field investigators found no emergency situation that would justify the negotiated procurement, given that as early as 2010 the MRTC transferred the responsibility for the procurement of the technical maintenance to the DOTC.

Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that PH Trams was barely two months old when the project was awarded, having been incorporated only on August 6, 2012 with a paid-up capital of only P625,000.

National Statistics Office records established that Vintangcol is related to PH Trams incorporator Arturo Soriano, being his uncle-in-law.

Joint venture member CB&T, meahwhile, has a separate criminal case pending with the OMB for under-delivery of labor input required in the LRT Line 1 system.

Last June, a criminal investigation was initiated against Vitangcol and De Vera for graft and corruption as well as grave misconduct and dishonesty in connection with the failed P3.7-billion MRT3 capacity expansion project and acquisition of train coaches with Czechoslovakia’s Inekon Group.

Inekon CEO and Chairman Josef Husek and Czech Ambassador Joseph Rychtar accused Vitangcol and De Vera of attempted extortion in exchange for the service and maintenance contract. (With a report from Kris Bayos)

PNoy still trusts Abaya, Purisima PNP chief’s exploits cited as Pangasinan group airs support MANILA BULLETIN by Genalyn Kabiling September 29, 2014 Share this:


PURISIMA, ABAYA

President Aquino still trusts Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Alan Purisima despite their legal troubles, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President still does not consider the two government officials as liability or heavy baggage to him, affirming that both of them continue to perform their duties even as they face separate corruption probes.

Abaya is under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged anomalous Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line 3 maintenance contract while Purisima faces a plunder complaint for alleged unexplained wealth. Both officials are facing mounting calls to take a leave or resign.

The Palace earlier left to the sound discretion of both Abaya and Purisima whether or not to go on leave after recently being embroiled in controversies.

Coloma, speaking on government radio, maintained that Abaya still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Aquino.

“He joined the President’s visit to Europe where he actively participated in the President’s meetings with various investors,” Coloma said in Filipino when asked if the embattled officials could still effectively perform their jobs.

“To my knowledge, the President’s trust and confidence in him is intact,” Coloma added.

In the case of Purisima, the President has vouched for the character of Purisima even as he awaits for his explanation on the corruption allegations hurled against him.

“On PNP chief Purisima, the President announced in a recent media interview that he wanted to give Police Director General Purisima a chance to explain the issues that recently surfaced,” Coloma said.

DEFENDING PURISIMA

The President earlier defended Purisima from graft allegations, saying the police chief was neither greedy nor living a luxurious lifestyle. Purisima, still on an official travel abroad, was accused of plunder by a consumer rights group for his alleged unexplained wealth, including a mansion in Nueva Ecija.

* Coloma also brushed aside speculations that the President might be dragged into the controversy involving Purisima, saying Aquino has a wide perspective on issues and is not easily affected by controversies. “He faces the problems and finds the appropriate solutions,” Coloma added.

Coloma, however, admitted that he has no information if the President has already talked to the two government officials facing allegations of irregularity. He said it was prudent to just wait for such development.

PANGASINAN ALLY

Meanwhile, Purisima found an ally in the president of an umbrella group of agriculture stakeholders in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan.

Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura President Rosendo So, whose family fell victim to a kidnapping syndicate, has urged Purisima not to resign amid the corruption allegations being hurled against him.

So said he is confident that Purisima is not guilty and that he will eventually be able to clear his name.

“He can explain everything before a proper forum,” So said.

“Many people want him out as PNP chief because of his efforts to clean the police ranks,” he added.

So recalled Purisima’s exploits as head of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER) from 2002-2003. “He helped so many kidnap victims, including my own family,” So said.

Purisima eventually served as head of the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTAF) Strike Force from 2003 to 2005.

So recalled that when Purisima was about to be relieved as provincial director of Pangasinan, five of the six congressmen and 43 mayors of the province signed a letter of appeal to then Police Director General Oscar Calderon for Purisima to remain as PNP chief in the province, citing his accomplishments in resolving big-time crimes.

“The accomplishments included the busting of drug syndicates, illegal firearms and illegal gambling operations in Urdaneta City, and the arrest of a suspected leader of a kidnap-for-ransom syndicate in Bolinao,” So said. (With a report from Liezle Basa Inigo)

Let Abad answer for DAP – Aquino  by Jc Bello Ruiz September 25, 2014 MANNILA BULLETIN

He says allies, foes covered by anti-corruption campaign


AQUINO AT WORLD LEADERS FORUM – President Aquino delivers a speech at the World Leaders Forum in Columbia University in New York City on Tuesday. (Malacañang Photo Bureau)

New York – President Aquino on Tuesday (US time) said Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad should answer reports that members of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) cornered most of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds.

“Perhaps, I think the question should be better directed to Secretary Abad who would know all of the details and would have the details on hand,” Aquino said, when asked to comment on the disclosure of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesman Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco that 10 members of the LP headed the list of recipients of millions of pesos worth of funds released via the DAP.

The top 10 DAP recipients, according to Tiangco, are: former Rep. Joseph Abaya, now the acting LP president (P408 million); Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. (P297.4 million); Majority Floor Leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II (P263 million); former Rep. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi (P217.8 million); former Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel (P179.5 million); Deputy Speaker Henedina Abad (P176.6 million); former Rep. Edgar San Luis (P160.2 million); former Rep. Tomas Osmeña (P124.1 million); former Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada (P120.5 million); and Rep. Nelson Collantes (P110 million).

Tiangco told reporters in Manila that the DAP list was based on uploaded information from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) website.

ALLIES NOT SPARED

Meanwhile, the President denied allegations that his allies have been spared by his administration’s campaign against corruption.

He cited the cases of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Grace Padaca and former Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) general manager Nereus Acosta as proof that everyone is covered by the anti-graft drive.

During the World Leaders Forum in Columbia University Aquino, Liwayway Arce, a student from the Philippines, asked him if his anti-corruption slogan also applies to everybody under the Philippine flag, including his friends.

Arce, a Master of Law student who claimed to have voted for Aquino because of his “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path) slogan, raised the question, noting that “topmost or highest officials in government, including Cabinet members have been implicated in issues questioning their integrity.”

Aquino was quick to point out that his predecessor – former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – is in jail as well as three incumbent senators, referring to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong Revilla Jr.

“Their cohorts in the pork barrel scam are also in jail, in detention awaiting trial,” Aquino added.

* Apparently dissatisfied with the President’s response, Arce shot back: “Anyone form the Liberal Party, Mr. President?”

That was the time, Aquino named Padaca and Acosta.

“There are two that have been accused that have posted bail because they were not charged with plunder previously. Grace Padaca and Nereus Acosta come to mind.”

“Perhaps, you should look at other websites besides the ones you have been watching,” Aquino added.

HECKLED ANEW

Meanwhile, President Aquino got another heckling Tuesday during his speaking engagement at the Columbia University.

But the President said he has gotten used to dealing with hecklers that he wanted to answer their grievances.

“Sanay naman na tayo doon (I’m used to that already),” Aquino told Manila-based reporters covering his US trip. He said he wants to listen to what the hecklers have to say.

At a press briefing at the Omni Berkshire Hotel, which followed his attendance at the World Leaders Forum in Columbia University, Aquino said he had wanted to talk to the hecklers.

“Can I finish answering the question,” Aquino told one of the hecklers who took turns on interrupting his talk.

After the hecklers were escorted out of the Low Memorial Library in Columbia University where the forum was held, they were seen joining a group of protesters apparently affiliated with Gabriela and Bayan based on their protest placards.

They kept on shouting: “No justice, no peace! Stop the killings in the Philippines.”

Last Monday, Aquino was also heckled at the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He experienced the same last week in France.

In Harvard, Aquino calmly answered back to a heckler who asked him why would his government buy arms knowing that it does not create jobs nor does it expand the economy of the Philippines.

Also this year in Naga City, Aquino was also heckled in the middle of his Independence Day speech.

But Aquino said he was taught by his father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., that in a democracy one should be willing to listen to the ideas of others to lead to a “synthesis.”

DBM hit for scrapping Comelec’s proposed budget for overseas absentee voting By Marc Jayson Cayabyab |INQUIRER.net3:36 pm | Thursday, September 4th, 2014

EARLIER REPORT FROM THE INQUIRER

DBM hit for scrapping Comelec’s proposed budget for overseas absentee voting By Marc Jayson Cayabyab |INQUIRER.net3:36 pm | Thursday, September 4th, 2014


Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A lawmaker scored the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for not giving the Commission on Elections (Comelec) its budget for the resumption of the overseas absentee voting (OAV) registration.

During the budget hearing in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they could make do with the zero budget by using their savings for the OAV registration. In its presentation, the Comelec said its proposed budget for OAV registration at P89.6 million was not included by the DBM in the Comelec’s 2015 budget in the National Expenditure Program (NEP).

This irked Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who chairs the House committee on overseas workers affairs, as he urged the DBM to restore the proposed budget in the NEP. “The committee will not rest until Comelec gets what it proposed for OAV,” Bello said.

Brillantes said Congress need not pass a supplemental budget for the OAV registration, and that the Comelec might be able to save funds during their bidding for the 2016 elections. The Comelec is seeking a P16.944 billion in their 2015 budget in the NEP, but what they proposed to DBM is worth P35.97 billion. Under the budget, at least P12.6 billion is allocated for the preparation of the 2016 presidential elections.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Trillanes demands Tribune belie story, threatens libel Written by Tribune Wires Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00


TRILLANES

Lawyers of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had threatened to file a libel case against The Tribune for supposedly “maliciously and deliberately” singling out Trillanes and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who the daily broadsheet reported in a an article to have received allocations from the unconstitutional Disbursement Accele-ration Program (DAP) close to the 2013 national elections.

Law firm Chan, Robles and Associates, which is representing Trillanes, wrote The Tribune that “for the record, our client (Trillanes) has not received, directly or indirectly, even a single centavo from any project he endorsed for funding by the administration and neither has he unduly benefited from the same.”

The article which appreared Sept. 22 on The Tribune was headlined DAP bankrolled 2013 bids of Noy allies with a kicker “P153M FOR CAYETANO, P156M FOR TRILLANES” was based on DAP documents the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted to the House of Representatives.
 

According to The Tribune article DAP documents “showed that between October 2012 and the campaign period for the previous national elections, Cayetano received a total of P156 million and Trillanes, P153 million from the DAP classified as various infrastructure and local roads.”

“For Cayetano, DAP disbursements totaled P46 million on Oct. 2, 2012 for 12 projects, P10 million for four projecyts on December 10, 2012; P4.938 million for one project on Dec. 11, 2012; and P98 million for 30 projects on March 20, 2013,” read the article.

“Trillanes obtained from the DAP P58 million for 23 projects all on October 2, 2012; and P95.036 million in 24 projects on February 12, 2013, the exact day that the campaign period started for the 2013 senatorial race,” it added.

Trillanes’ lawyers issued a demand to “rectify” what they claimed as “false and malicious claims, allegations and insinuations which you made in your subject front page banner headline story against our client, with equal space and prominence as the original offending story, within seven days from your receipt hereof.”

They said that failure to do so “shall constrain us, much against our desire, to initiate the appropriate criminal and/or civil action for libel, defamation and/or damages to protect and vindicate our client’s rights.”

The Tribune publisher and editor-in-chief Ninez Cacho Olivarez said The Tribune had never recanted a story which are all based on hard data and has no intention to do so for Trillanes.

* The law firm demanded that The Tribune rectify both the story which appeared in the front page of The Tribune on Monday, 22 September 2014 (Vol. 14, No. 195), as well as the online version of the story.

“In the caption and sub-caption of the said front page banner headline story, as well as in the body thereof, you maliciously and deliberately twisted the news and to make it appear that our client obtained P156 Million in cash from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the administration and falsely asserted that the same was used to ‘bankroll’ our client’s 2013 election bid and to boost his chances in the election,” the law firm said.

The DAP was also used to seal the vote of members of the House of Representatives to impeach Corona which was clearly shown in the DAP documents, according to The Tribune article.

The articles stated that the DBM surrendered the documents to the House on the insistence of Navotas Rep. and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general Toby Tiangco threatening to raise the issue of quorum during the budget deliberations.

“The documents showed a single huge disbursement of P819 million on November 23, 2011. Corona was impeached on December 12, 2011 on what was considered as a railroaded proceeding,” it said.

DAP used as admin allies campaign kitty — TiangcoWritten by Tribune Wires Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00


TIANGCO

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president and Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco believes that the P10 to P11 billion economic stimulus fund released to congressmen and senators, and billions given to governors and mayors were part of the Liberal Party’s agenda to guarantee the victory of administration bets in the 2013 elections.

According to him, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which was intended as an economic stimulus fund, was actually used as a campaign kitty of the Liberal Party in the 2013 elections as most of its recipients were members and allies of the administration.

Between 2011 and 2013, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released closed to P11 billion DAP funds to 116 congressmen and 22 senators who were mostly members of the ruling party and closely identified with Malacañang.

“It really pays to be friends with the administration. Imagine, even if he has yet to run as congressman, he was already given campaign funds,” Tiangco noted.

Tiangco was referring to the P35.5 million Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice received from DAP in 2013 which was booked under the report entitled “List of Lawmaker-Endorsed DAP Projects” on the DBM website. Erice was Caloocan City vice mayor at the time but he was able to get DAP which was tucked in the report for lawmakers. A lot of DAP given to local government officials were also given DAP from this fund.

“It can be seen in the DBM-released DAP list, it was not only lawmakers who received DAP — there were also governors, mayors and vice mayors, allied with LP, who received money in the guise of ‘assistance to local government units’ not authorized under the GAA,” he added.

Tiangco said based on DBM’s incomplete DAP list, one can already see the pattern of fund releases to LP members and local political leaders months before the 2013 elections.

“We can almost see the pattern who got the biggest DAP allocation, and we can safely say that top honchos of the Liberal Party received the biggest slice of the DAP largesse,” he noted.

The UNA president said Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad made sure that recipients of DAP were all from LP to guarantee the victory of Team PNOY and local elective posts during the 2013 elections.

According to Tiangco, there was also an attempt on Abad’s side to deceive the public by misplacing the DAP figures and amounts from some of the administration lawmakers.

“Nothing new in defending his allies, that’s what ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path) is all about, defending allies and persecuting political enemies. It’s about vengeance and vindictiveness and that came from PNoy’s (President Aquino’s monicker) mouth directly,” he added.

* Aquino, meanwhile, said questions on the DAP will be best answered by Abad, following Tiangco’s claim.

“I don’t have the list with me. Perhaps I think the question should be better directed to Secretary Abad who would know all of the details and would have the details on hand,” Aquino said.

The President, meanwhile, defended Speaker Feliciano Belmonte after he was noted to receive the second highest fund from the DAP, counting at a whopping P297.48 million.

“Maybe the House leadership is with them, for instance, Speaker Belmonte. I think it is accepter that a lot of the members approach the Speaker for concerns from their respective districts,” Aquino said.

“He cannot be treated in the same level as the rest of the members. Maybe it will be inappropriate for the Speaker if he got the same allocation to allocate it amongst the close to 300 members of Congress to the detriment of his particular district,” he said.

Belmonte, who admitted having a big portion of the DAP funds, stressed DAP allocations for him were never coursed through non-government organizations.

He said as Speaker of the House, funds coursed through his office are distributed to other congressional districts aside from his district in Quezon City.

He explained it is normal for him to get the biggest share of DAP funds released for members of the House of Representatives being the Speaker. He, however, expressed surprise that Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, got a bigger share of the DAP.

“It’s really hard to believe that Jun Abaya got bigger,” said Belmonte. “I’m willing to say that very likely the bigger amount went to me.”

Based on the list of Tiangco, Belmonte received P297 million and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II got P263 million.

Gonzales reiterated that Tiangco got the wrong figure and the local government of Mandaluyong City “remitted back to the Bureau of treasury almost P180 million this year.”

“What I know is P201 million for years 2011 and 2012 and all where coursed through the LGU of Mandaluyong City as the implementing agency. No NGO as implementing agency,” said Gonzales.

Belmonte and Gonzales also reiterated that they were not aware that funds released for the projects came from DAP some provisions of which were declared as un constitutional by the Supreme Court. By Gerry Baldo and Joshua L. Labonera

FROM BUSINESS WORLD, LAST YEAR SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

On Blue Ribbon Committees and ethics by Solita Collas - Monsod on Sep 29, 2013 No Comments Calling a spade Business World, 25 September 2013

Its formal name is Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations of the Senate of the Philippines, but nobody calls it that. It is known to us as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, currently chaired by Teofisto Guingona III. And it has jurisdiction over “All matters relating to, including investigation of, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office by officers and employees of the government, its branches, agencies, subdivisions and instrumentalities; implementation of the provision of the Constitution on nepotism; and investigation of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of the Senate. Rule X, Section 13 (36)”

That is a mouthful. But in short, it has jurisdiction not just over all government employees, but everything else under the sun of “public interest.” Phew. No wonder it is called the most powerful committee in the Senate, and its chairmanship is much-sought after.

As far as I can tell, the Philippine Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee has no counterpart in the United States Senate. This is a made-in-the Philippines Committee. What they have in the US are blue ribbon panels, also called blue ribbon commissions, formed on an ad hoc basis to study/investigate/analyze some important government question/issue, and are composed of independent/nonpartisan experts and statesmen (the “best and the brightest”) who give their findings and recommendations, which presumably can then be acted on by the decision-makers involved.

Examples of these bodies are the Warren Commission, which investigated the Kennedy assassination, and more recently, the so-called Iraq Study Group, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

In other words, the term “Blue Ribbon” connotes independence, non-partisanship, “the best and the brightest” (experts/statesmen). Which does not exactly describe the membership of our own Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. So, if this committee is made-in-the-Philippines, how did it come about?

The answer to that, from Wikipedia and other sources, is that it was the brainchild of Liberal Party Senator Justiniano Montano, who, having been elected to the Philippine Senate in 1949, formed a clique with some partymates, who then proceeded to attack Philippine President Elpidio Quirino (also a Liberal!).

Thus was the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee born: of partymates turning against each other, and in the name of public accountability, investigating presumed irregularities committed by members of the executive branch. As stated earlier, all “in aid of legislation.”

Which brings us to today, with another Liberal Party Senate Blue Ribbon Chair, in open disagreement with his partymate Senate President Franklin Drilon, and for that matter, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima, who is the alter ego of his highest-ranking partymate, the President of the Philippines.

Carrying on the tradition, one supposes.

But that is not what really disturbs. What really disturbs me about that Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation is that up to this time, I still have no clue as to which public officers they are calling into account and/or investigating. Napoles certainly does not qualify, nor does BenHur Luy, or any of the other whistleblowers whose non-appearance in the Tuesday hearings discombobulated — nay, the more accurate term is “enraged” — the Committee Chair.

In the vernacular, the word that comes to mind is “napikon.” What made the whole thing so much worse is that he vented his pique on DOJ’s De Lima, who one must say, reacted in the coolest of fashion. She certainly came out on top in that exchange.

But if it is in the “public interest” to investigate Napoles, it is in the even greater public interest to investigate the lawmakers who are sworn to serve the people, and who seem to have stumbled badly or deliberately exploited those very same people.

And what is more, there is even greater basis for doing so, in the Commission on Audit (COA) government-wide performance audit report on the 2007-2009 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VILP).

* In spite of the fact that the Report does not include the great majority of the appropriated funds (P69 billion out of P101 billion) because they could not be identified with any legislator, it certainly provides tremendously detailed information including the names of the legislators, the implementing agencies (national government agencies, local government units, government controlled corporations) as well as the NGOs.

More than enough information, in fact, that could be the basis of an honest-to-goodness investigation in aid of legislation on where the system of checks and balances failed.

A concrete example of what the Blue Ribbon Committee should have found worth investigating was why the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) could not provide the documents like the written communications from legislators identifying their projects (or for that matter, from the Senate Finance Committee giving its imprimatur on these projects, which is the SOP).

Another would be to pick one government implementing agency of each type: national, local government, and government corporation and question them on why procedures and requirements were so cavalierly disregarded. All the information is readily available in the COA Report.

Barring that, at the very least, whistleblower Benhur Luy should have been asked — when he testified that he had called up the offices of senators as well as the DBM to “follow-up” signatures for the required Memoranda of Agreement, etc. — who it was that he was talking to in the DBM; who it was he was talking to in the Senators’ offices. After all, how can you investigate accountability of public officers if you don’t even want to know who the public officers are in the first place?

Or alternatively, why was the Blue Ribbon Committee being so protective of these officials, even as they bandied around the name of Napoles and what she allegedly said to them or ordered them to do, with total abandon? Why the difference in treatment?

Is it possible that the Blue Ribbon Committee interpreted the term “public officers” in its title to mean only officers of the executive branch? If that were the case, and the Blue Ribbon Committee thought that investigating the Senators mentioned in the COA Report was beyond their jurisdiction, then the next question becomes: under which Senate Committee’s jurisdiction do the actions/omissions of the Senate members come?

And therein lies another tale. The Senate also has an Ethics and Privileges Committee (the US Senate has one too), whose jurisdiction, according to the Senate web site, includes “All matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of the Senate and its members.”

Guess what, Reader? You will find that out of the 39 permanent committees, one has 19 members (National Defense and Security), two have 17 members (Blue Ribbon, Finance) and most have at least nine members. But the Ethics Committee has only seven members (together with such committees as Science and Technology and Peace, Unification and Reconciliation). But at least the latter have a Chair. The Ethics Committee has no Chair.

So what does that say about how important ethics is to our Senators?

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Senate no more  September 25, 2014 8:11 pm by ERWIN TULFO


by ERWIN TULFO

Gone are the days when members of the Philippine Senate were highly respected because of their no nonsense propositions, fiery speeches, and above all, the integrity of each lawmaker.

This was how Mang Antonio Cruz, a retired public school teacher now in his 70’s, remembers the legislators in the upper chamber when he was a fresh graduate.

Cruz, who came to my office last week to seek assistance for a case over a land dispute, said the senators then were very eloquent and bold in their statements, likening them to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago now.

“They always sounded like the interest of the public comes first rather than their own personal advantage when they file bills and during deliberations,” said the retired high school teacher.

He added that he never heard of people accusing these lawmakers back then of being corrupt as everyone looked up to the Senate as an untarnished institution that really worked for the people.

“Pero ngayon, parang inuuna pa nila ang kanilang mga sarili at kung papaano kumita gamit ang kanilang mga puwesto at kapangyarihan,” Cruz sadly said.

* Obviously, the Senate investigations these days do not really mean to help legislate a law. Rather they are for the personal advancement of some of its members, Cruz finally said.

Political analyst Antonio Contreras seems to agree with Cruz saying some members of the Senate have placed their personal vested interests first before that of the nation and its people.

Contreras noted that senators waste their time conducting investigations when, in fact, they should focus on drafting and passing legislation that will benefit the people.

“Mga bobo lang ang maniniwala na ang imbestigasyon dyan kay (Vice-President Jejomar) Binay ay in aid of legislation talaga”, said the political science professor of De La Salle Univesity.

He also said the Senate has lost its intellect and credibility because some of its members were voted by the people because of their popularity and not for their intellectual capacity. He cited the likes of Claro M. Recto, Eva-Estrada Kalaw, Arturo Tolentino, Ferdinand Marcos, etc. in the 60’s.

Like Contreras, former Sen. Orly Mercado believes the senators waste their time on inquiries rather passing bills like job creation, over expenditures, the poor healthcare system, etc.

“They wasted several days investigating Dr. Hayden Kho, regarding that sex video few years ago, which they said is in aid of legislation. Was there a law passed after that inquiry?” Mercado asked.

Asked why the Senate has lost its image as a body of bright and honest men and women, Mercado simply said, “Nawala yung mga galing sa intellectual clans and very progressive families.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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