PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS WEEK

Mendiola Massacre 28th Anniversary: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? --JUSTICE MEANS 'LAND FOR THE TILLERS'


(PRESS RELEASE FROM PCPR)
Today marks the 28th year since one of Philippines’ most gruesome acts was committed by the state against its people. Thirteen farmers died from gunshot wounds and more than fifty were wounded when protesters aired their legitimate concern for genuine agrarian reform to a landed Pres. Corazon Aquino, who had been propelled into office by a broad, pro-democracy movement. Not a single person faced the bar of justice for this horrifying crime, committed with clear lines of accountability pointing to the highest leader of the land. To this day, widows, children, family and supporters continue to fight for justice. Despite the long history of failed prosecution, harassment of witnesses and families, promotions of suspected perpetrators from the ranks of military and police, and the continuing climate of impunity, the people’s struggle continues to be relevant. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pag-IBIG chief clears Vice President in probe


Pag-IBIG president and chief executive officer Darlene Marie Berberabe gestures as she speaks during a Senate hearing yesterday. MANNY MARCELO MANILA, Philippines - Pag-IBIG Fund president and CEO Darlene Berberabe denied allegations that Vice President Jejomar Binay used his position as chairman to influence the state-owned firm to enter into some anomalous contracts. The Pag-IBIG Fund was dragged into the controversies surrounding Binay after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV alleged the firm was being used for the personal interests of the Vice President. Trillanes filed Senate Resolution 1114 earlier this week calling on the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to investigate the allegedly anomalous transactions of the Pag-Ibig Fund and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, both headed by the Vice President. READ MORE...

ALSO: Mercado Inspired by Pope Francis, to sue Binay


Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado shows to senators a bag similar to the one that contained Vice President Jejomar Binay's alleged kickbacks from various projects. Ernie Peñaredondo MANILA, Philippines - Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said he will file a complaint today at the Office of Ombudsman against his former boss, Vice President Jejomar Binay. Mercado announced this on Thursday during the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee probe on the corruption allegations that he has hurled against Binay. Mercado's complaint will be in connection with his newest accusation that Binay allegedly earned commissions from a supposedly anomalous transaction of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) with Alphaland Corp. Binay has been the president of the BSP since 1994. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Mercado's new bombshell: Accused Vice President of P188.9-M kickback from Boy Scouts of the Philippines’


Vice President Jejomar Binay. File photo MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay was accused yesterday of getting P188.9 million in kickbacks from the commercial development of a one-hectare property belonging largely to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines on Ayala Avenue near Malugay Street in Makati. Former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado dropped the new bombshell when the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II resumed yesterday. The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), of which Binay is national president, owns 60 percent of the property. BF Goodrich Philippines donated the lot to the BSP in 1976 with the agreement that the firm would have exclusive leaseholder rights for 25 years. Mercado said BF Goodrich, now known as Sime Darby, wanted to renew the leaseback agreement for another 25 years, but former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim and the BSP challenged it in court. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Alphaland Corp: ’Twas Mercado who demanded kickbacks


Alphaland Corp. , owned by businessman and former Marcos trade minister Roberto Ongpin, on Thursday turned the tables on former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado—the main whistle-blower against Vice President Jejomar Binay in the Senate probe of irregularities in Makati when Binay was its mayor—saying that it was the former vice mayor who asked for kickbacks from Alphaland. Alphaland dismissed Mercado’s allegation that the property developer paid some P200 million in kickbacks to Binay for a land deal in Makati City with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP). Binay is a longtime president of the BSP. “I am sure you will remember that you made less than subtle hints that some ‘benefits’ were due to you for agreeing to conclude this project, and I am sure that you will also remember what I explained to you that Alphaland was a joint-venture company with the Ashmore Group, and that every transaction was closely scrutinized by Ashmore,” Alphaland president Mario Oreta said in a letter to Mercado, a copy of which was provided the Inquirer. READ FULL REPORT...


T
ROIKA TRIUMVERATE --
The troika of Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes III sought to legitimize the demolition job on Vice President Jejomar Binay through the Senate subcommittee hearings after Trillanes introduced a new reso-lution yesterday that indefinitely expanded the probe to whatever can be dug up against the VP. From the original Resolution 826 that Tril-lanes had filed to probe the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, the same senator filed Reso-lution 1114 yesterday effectively expanding the coverage of the sub-com-mittee’s inquiry to include the “alleged questionable dealings of Pag-IBIG, the leadership of Binay as president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and other related anomalies.”
The mother blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III speedily approved the new Trillanes resolution. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Binay tops new survey; Veep picked in 2-, 3- and 4-way race, poll finds


BINAY ---VICE President Jejomar Binay would be the runaway winner in five-way, four-way and two-way fight scenarios in the 2016 presidential race, the latest survey of Laylo Research Strategies showed. Binay also recorded the best vote commitment with 66 percent of his voters saying they will no longer change their minds, the same survey showed. The survey, commissioned by concerned big businessmen, was conducted from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5, 2014, among 1,200 respondents nationwide.
The survey was led by pollster Pedro “Junnie” Laylo Jr., and it affirmed the last quarter Pulse Asia “rider” survey that also showed Binay besting other potential rivals in the four-way and two-way fights and the December Social Weather Stations survey that showed Binay was the “best leader” to replace President Aquino in 2016 as against Senator Grace Poe and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Mendiola Massacre: Where do we go from here?—Justice means Land for the Tillers
[Press Release: From the Secretary General, Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR) Rwcwivwd --January 22, 2015 ] @ https://www.facebook.com/church.pcpr


LUISITA FARMER

MANILA, JANUARY 22, 2015 (PRESS RELEASE FROM PCPR) Today marks the 28th year since one of Philippines’ most gruesome acts was committed by the state against its people.

Thirteen farmers died from gunshot wounds and more than fifty were wounded when protesters aired their legitimate concern for genuine agrarian reform to a landed Pres. Corazon Aquino, who had been propelled into office by a broad, pro-democracy movement.

Not a single person faced the bar of justice for this horrifying crime, committed with clear lines of accountability pointing to the highest leader of the land.

To this day, widows, children, family and supporters continue to fight for justice. Despite the long history of failed prosecution, harassment of witnesses and families, promotions of suspected perpetrators from the ranks of military and police, and the continuing climate of impunity, the people’s struggle continues to be relevant.

Four presidents after the Mendiola Massacre, the issues remain the same. Landlessness, high usury, and feudal relations to land are still prevalent and oppressive.

We are witnesses to grave human rights violations against proponents of genuine land reform. The stark reality in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Looc and other land monopolies characterize the feudal relations and resource ownership in our country, which run contrary to the very teachings of the Gospel, that is, service to the poor.

Quo Vadis?

The papal apostolic visit captured the hearts of not only Roman Catholics but people of faith, now we must raise the question: where do we go from here?

With approximately 70% of the population coming from the sector of peasants and farm workers who largely comprise the country’s marginalized poor, Pope Francis’ guidance on the centrality of the poor in the Gospel message, sets a clear priority to support and join in solidarity with the landless farmers.

To quote, “The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities.”

When justice is served to those afflicted, land is given to the tillers and the fruits of our labor benefits especially the least of our brothers and sisters.

When social justice prevails, human dignity is respected.

With this, a national goal of “authentic justice, solidarity and peace,” as Pope Francis puts it, is within reach.

As faithful to Christ's teachings, we will continue to journey with the victims demanding justice and genuine agrarian reform.##

Reference: Mr. Nardy Sabino, Secretary General, Promotion of Church People's Response pcprmedia@gmail.com,  09292269708


PHILSTAR

Pag-IBIG chief clears Vice President in probe By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 23, 2015 - 12:00am 2 94 googleplus0 0


Pag-IBIG president and chief executive officer Darlene Marie Berberabe gestures as she speaks during a Senate hearing yesterday. MANNY MARCELO

MANILA, Philippines - Pag-IBIG Fund president and CEO Darlene Berberabe denied allegations that Vice President Jejomar Binay used his position as chairman to influence the state-owned firm to enter into some anomalous contracts.

The Pag-IBIG Fund was dragged into the controversies surrounding Binay after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV alleged the firm was being used for the personal interests of the Vice President.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution 1114 earlier this week calling on the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to investigate the allegedly anomalous transactions of the Pag-Ibig Fund and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, both headed by the Vice President.

During the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee’s hearing yesterday on the allegedly overpriced parking building constructed by the city government of Makati, Berberabe was invited to testify regarding the contracts reportedly entered into by Pag-Ibig with Omni Security Investigation Inc., a security agency reportedly owned by Binay.

Berberabe read a prepared statement clearing the Vice President of the charge that he used his position as chairman of Pag-Ibig Fund to influence the signing of a P193-million contract with Omni.

“If the issue is whether the honorable Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who is the chairman of the Pag-Ibig Fund board of trustees, used his power to get Omni into Pag-Ibig, I categorically say that no, this did not happen,” Berberabe said.

She explained Omni was interested in participating in the bidding for the contract but was disqualified for being one minute late in submitting required documents.

“This clearly shows that we follow the procurement law strictly and there is no hanky panky in our bidding process,” Berberabe said.

Berberabe admitted Omni has an existing contract with Pag-Ibig, which she said was for her close-in security.

She pointed out the contract with Omni involves the hiring of three bodyguards for a period of four months at a cost of P420,000.

Berberabe admitted Omni was recommended to her by the Vice President shortly upon her assumption as president and CEO of Pag-Ibig.

Because of the small amount involved for the contract and the “urgency of the required protection,” Berberabe said the hiring of Omni for her close-in security did not go through bidding anymore as allowed by the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“It is important to emphasize that the contract amount for the three bodyguards is small at around P420,000 per contract versus the P193 million for the security service of our offices, which is locked for three years,” Berberabe said.

“This should negate any suggestion that Vice President Binay is trying to clinch multi-million contracts for Omni or that Vice President Binay uses his position to get contracts for Omni,” she added.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the hiring of Omni for the security requirements of Berberabe constitutes a conflict of interest, saying one of the security agency’s reported owners, Hirene Lopez, is the wife of Pag-Ibig Fund director Tomas Lopez.

Berberabe said she was not aware of what Cayetano said, including who Hirene Lopez was until the hearings of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee started and her name was mentioned.

Tomas Lopez is also president of the University of Makati and is among the individuals being summoned by the Blue Ribbon subcommittee for its hearings.

Cayetano also asked Berberabe if she knew Gerry Limlingan, the alleged bagman and close aide of the Vice President who was also summoned to the hearings but has not been found.

Berberabe admitted she knew Limlingan, who she said was a consultant at the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council also headed by the Vice President.

She said Limlingan attended some of the board meetings of the Pag-Ibig Fund but the last time she talked to him was sometime last year at around the time the Senate’s hearings started.

It was also revealed yesterday that the Pag-Ibig Fund is currently leasing two office spaces since it moved out of The Atrium in Makati City in 2010, one of which is the JELP Building along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City, said to be owned by former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

“A premise of the suggestion that Vice President Binay tries to influence Pag-Ibig to enter into anomalous transactions is that Pag-Ibig and its officers and employees who sign the documents to capture the transactions are corruptible and can be forced to sign something that is illegal, immoral or simply, wrong,” Berberabe said.

“In the strongest terms, I say that this is most unfair because Pag-Ibig has been known, especially in the last four years, for its excellent performance and integrity,” she said.


PHILSTAR

Inspired by Pope Francis, ex-Makati vice mayor to sue Binay By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated January 22, 2015 - 12:27pm 10 989 googleplus0 0


Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado shows to senators a bag similar to the one that contained Vice President Jejomar Binay's alleged kickbacks from various projects. Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines - Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said he will file a complaint today at the Office of Ombudsman against his former boss, Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Mercado announced this on Thursday during the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee probe on the corruption allegations that he has hurled against Binay.

Mercado's complaint will be in connection with his newest accusation that Binay allegedly earned commissions from a supposedly anomalous transaction of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) with Alphaland Corp.

Binay has been the president of the BSP since 1994.

Mercado said he decided to sue Binay because he was inspired by Pope Francis, who challenged Filipinos and politicians to reject corruption.

READ: Pope Francis calls for honesty among political leaders

"Na-inspire po ako noong dumalaw sa atin ang butihing pope. Narinig ko po sa kanyang sinabi: tapusin ang corruption, proteksyunan ang mga kabataan. Na-challenge po ako," Mercado said.

"At kung kinakailangan pong pumunta ako sa civil court, gagawin ko po dahil ang nakasalalay po dito ay mga kabataang miyembro ng Boy Scouts of the Philippines," he also said.

In 2014, Mercado revealed that Binay earned commissions from various overpriced projects in Makati and that he used dummies to hide his ill-gotten wealth such as an agricultural estate in Batangas province.


PHILSTAR

Mercado's new bombshell: Accused Vice President of P188.9-M kickback from Boy Scouts of the Philippines’ (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 23, 2015 - 12:00am 3 125 googleplus0 0


Vice President Jejomar Binay. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay was accused yesterday of getting P188.9 million in kickbacks from the commercial development of a one-hectare property belonging largely to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines on Ayala Avenue near Malugay Street in Makati.

Former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado dropped the new bombshell when the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II resumed yesterday.

The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), of which Binay is national president, owns 60 percent of the property.

BF Goodrich Philippines donated the lot to the BSP in 1976 with the agreement that the firm would have exclusive leaseholder rights for 25 years.

Mercado said BF Goodrich, now known as Sime Darby, wanted to renew the leaseback agreement for another 25 years, but former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim and the BSP challenged it in court.

The Boy Scouts lost the case, he added.

Mercado said sometime between 2004 and 2005, Binay, in his capacity as BSP national president, went to Sime Darby to negotiate a settlement agreement.

A joint sale agreement was signed in July 2005 under which BSP would get 60 percent and Sime Darby 40 percent of the property, he added. The property was appraised at P1 billion at the time, he said.

Mercado said in 2007, Alphaland Development Inc. of businessman Roberto Ongpin started negotiations with the BSP for the development of the property.

Alphaland acquired Silvertown Property Development Corp., the local arm of Sime Darby, along with its 40 percent share of the Makati property, he added.

Mercado said Alphaland and the BSP entered into a joint venture agreement in 2008 to develop the property.

Binay designated him as the signatory in his capacity as BSP senior vice president, he added.

Under the agreement, BSP would get 15 percent of the project and Alphaland 85 percent, he said.

Mercado said he did not want to agree to the terms because 15 percent was too small a percentage for the BSP, and that he wanted 20 percent.

He eventually gave in after Gerry Limlingan, Binay’s supposed bagman, told him that the BSP would actually get 20 percent, although five percent would go to Binay, he added.

Mario Oreta, Alphaland president and vice chairman, told him that he and Limlingan would take care of hiding the five percent share of Binay through one of his companies, Noble Care Management Corp., he said.

Mercado said the BSP was again shortchanged in 2010 when Alphaland used the Makati property as collateral for a P1.7-billion loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines.

The joint venture agreement was also amended in 2011 to pave the way for the sale of the BSP’s share to Alphaland for a total amount of P600 million, he added.

Mercado said the P600 million did not go to the BSP, but was instead invested in the Alphaland project.

The BSP was given a 15 percent share of the project.

It comprised the BSP convention center on the third floor of the Podium and a portion of towers one and two, he added.

However, Mercado said Alphaland reduced this in 2013 to only tower three and the BSP convention center at the Podium.

In a letter to Mercado, Oreta said the share of the BSP in the project now amounts to P3 billion.

However, Mercado said no document exists to support the claim by Oreta. The BSP has also lost properties in Davao City, Pasig and Manila during Binay’s incumbency as national president, he added.

He intends to file a plunder complaint against the BSP national executive board for allowing the transactions to take place, Mercado said.

Like a bikini Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano likened the BSP deal with Alphaland to a bikini, which is “revealing” but has more to offer when it is scrutinized.

“I remembered what I have read,” he said.

“One of my favorite quotes – which describes statistics – and describes this deal: Statistics is like a bikini, what it shows is revealing but what it hides is essential.” – Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez, Helen Flores


INQUIRER

Alphaland Corp: ’Twas Mercado who demanded kickbacks Daxim L. Lucas @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:28 AM | Friday, January 23rd, 2015


Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Alphaland Corp. , owned by businessman and former Marcos trade minister Roberto Ongpin, on Thursday turned the tables on former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado—the main whistle-blower against Vice President Jejomar Binay in the Senate probe of irregularities in Makati when Binay was its mayor—saying that it was the former vice mayor who asked for kickbacks from Alphaland.

Alphaland dismissed Mercado’s allegation that the property developer paid some P200 million in kickbacks to Binay for a land deal in Makati City with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP). Binay is a longtime president of the BSP.

“I am sure you will remember that you made less than subtle hints that some ‘benefits’ were due to you for agreeing to conclude this project, and I am sure that you will also remember what I explained to you that Alphaland was a joint-venture company with the Ashmore Group, and that every transaction was closely scrutinized by Ashmore,” Alphaland president Mario Oreta said in a letter to Mercado, a copy of which was provided the Inquirer.

“Thus, it was impossible for Alphaland to agree to give you any such ‘benefits,”’ Oreta added.

The United Kingdom-based fund Ashmore has ended its partnership with Alphaland.

At the time the land deal was consummated, Mercado was also an official of the BSP and headed its asset management committee. He was in charge of either acquiring or disposing of properties of the BSP, which counts among its members some two million schoolchildren nationwide.

One-hectare property

The 2008 deal called for the BSP to enter into a joint venture with Alphaland using its one-hectare prime property on Ayala Avenue Extension and Malugay Street in Makati, on which the developer would build a three-tower condominium complex on top of a five-level sports club and mall.

The property was donated by tire maker BF Goodrich to the BSP in an agreement in 1976 under a leaseback arrangement. The lease was assumed by Sime Darby, which eventually acquired BF Goodrich.

The BSP and Sime Darby signed an agreement in 2005 for the sale of the property, appraised at P1 billion, in which the former would get 60 percent and the latter 40 percent.

In 2008, the BSP entered into a joint venture agreement with Silvertown Property Development Corp., the local arm of Sime Darby, that Alphaland later acquired, to develop the property.

In the deal, BSP’s 60-percent stake in the property was valued by a third-party appraiser at P600 million, and this was recorded as the value of its contribution to the Alphaland joint venture—equivalent to 15 percent of the project’s total cost of P4 billion.

Oreta said that “the entire deal” was negotiated and signed for by Mercado in his capacity as the BSP official deputized for that purpose by the group’s board of directors.

Binay had no involvement in the transaction, said the Alphaland official.

Mercado, then BSP senior vice president, said he signed the 2008 agreement on instructions from Binay, who was about to leave at the time for abroad.

Aboveboard

The former vice mayor testified on Thursday at the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing on irregularities in Makati City when Binay was its mayor that under BSP rules he and/or Binay could signed agreements entered into by the organization.

In his letter, Oreta said Mercado had telephoned him last December and informed him of the former vice mayor’s intention of having the Alphaland deal included in the Senate hearings against Binay.

“I told you that the Alphaland-Boy Scouts deal was entirely aboveboard and any attempt by you to state or infer otherwise would be vigorously opposed by Alphaland,” Oreta said.

“Alphaland categorically, and in the strongest possible terms, denies these baseless and false allegations of Mr. Mercado,” the company said in a statement. “There was no kickback paid to any government official in connection with the Alphaland-Boy Scouts project.”

In his testimony at the Senate yesterday, Mercado said Binay’s kickback from the deal accounted for 5 percent (or one-fourth of the supposed 20 percent of the BSP share in the joint-venture with Alphaland.

The former vice mayor said the repository of Binay’s commission of close to P200 million was Noble Care Management Corp., which Oreta owned.

Mercado said Alphaland gave Silvertown 2,031 shares worth P20,310 and lent it P100.4 million in 2008. Then Alphaland bought back the shares in 2010 for P89 million and wrote off the P100.4 million it lent to Silvertown.

Thus, he said Binay’s total commission from the deal was P189 million.

Threat of suit

According to Oreta, the project—which is now close to completion—now has a market value of P21 billion, meaning that the BSP’s 15-percent stake is now worth P3 billion, representing a 400-percent return on its investment over a seven-year period.

“Alphaland intends to sue Mr. Mercado for criminal libel and defamation (and will claim at least P100 million in damages) in the proper courts,” the company said.

Top Nancy donor

At the Senate hearing, Mercado said Oreta, apart from heading Alphaland and Silvertown, was president and CEO of Constant Builders and Development Corp. to which Binay “allegedly” sold his Tagaytay mansion in 2008.

Oreta was also a top campaign donor to Sen. Nancy Binay in the 2013 midterm elections, the former vice mayor said. With a report from TJ Burgonio


TRIBUNE

New Trillanes reso infinitely expands Senate probe on Binay  Written by Tribune Wires Friday, 23 January 2015 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print Be the first to comment!
By Angie M. Rosales
and Joshua L. Labonera


TROIKA TRIUMVERATE

The troika of Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes III sought to legitimize the demolition job on Vice President Jejomar Binay through the Senate subcommittee hearings after Trillanes introduced a new reso-lution yesterday that indefinitely expanded the probe to whatever can be dug up against the VP.

From the original Resolution 826 that Tril-lanes had filed to probe the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, the same senator filed Reso-lution 1114 yesterday effectively expanding the coverage of the sub-com-mittee’s inquiry to include the “alleged questionable dealings of Pag-IBIG, the leadership of Binay as president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and other related anomalies.”

The mother blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III speedily approved the new Trillanes resolution.

“Senator Guingona (chairman of the Blue Ribbon main committee) gave this to the subcommittee because he believes it is consistent as far as the personality involved in the hearing. For those asking what connection (the other issues raised against Binay to the original resolution), here we have now the new resolution to establish the connection,” Trillanes said.

Pimentel, chairman of the blue ribbon subcommittee, said he talked to Guingona and was told about the proposed Senate Resolution 1114.

“This committee will now hear two proposed Senate Resolution: 826 and 1114,” said.

Allegations on supposed misuse of Pag-IBIG funds (Home Development Mutual Fund) by Binay proved to be a dud, however, after its president and chief executive officer (CEO) Darlene Berberabe affirmed before Senate probers the agency’s integrity in its transactions, dismissing any insinuation on him clinching a deal favoring his alleged “dummy” security services company.

Yet Binay’s accusers who failed to present any proof to support claims on the alleged questionable dealings of Pag-IBIG with Omni Security Investigation and General Services Inc., which is allegedly owned by Binay, during the continuation of the blue ribbon sub-committee’s inquiry, hinted that they will be coming out with new allegations on the agency’s alleged anomalous transactions in the succeeding hearings.

Trillanes even described the scenario as a “free-for-all”, once they start digging deep into the Binay’s alleged irregularities as Pag-IBIG chairman.

Critics of the troika charged that the Senate subcommittee hearings are being used to bolster the political stars of the trio, two of which Cayetano and Trillanes are considering to pair up for the presidential race next year.

Trillanes’ filing of Resolution 1114 came just in time for the resumption of the inquiry on Binay and he managed to have it referred by the mother committee headed by Guingona to the sub-committee.

Trillanes, in a press conference after hearing, indicated that he will leave no stone unturned insofar as bringing down the Vice President who he hopes to see eventually resigning from his post due to the piling up of cases against him.

“The issues being raised won’t have anything to do with filing a case or what. In our case, all the issues that should be the subject of a complaint should be pursued. In relation to his (Binay’s) role as the chairman of HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council) and after presenting the various anomalies, we can now call on President Aquino to remove Vice President Binay from the Cabinet because these are not acts before he became part of the Cabinet,” Trillanes said.

Malacañang, however, appeared to have rebuffed Trillanes on his call as Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that President Aquino’s previous call to put an end to investigations on accusations of corruption against the embattled Vice President still stands.

Coloma said there’s been no change of heart for Aquino on his views regarding the Senate probe.
“We know nothing of retracting or changes on that call,” Coloma said when asked on the new Senate probe involving Binay.

Coloma, however, said that the Palace continues to respect the decision of legislators who are members of a co-equal branch of government.

“What we can say about that is that members of the Congress are directly elected by the people and they are expected by the same people to fulfill their responsibilities in accordance with the expectations of the people,” Coloma said.

Last November, Aquino asked that the “whole list” of allegations against Binay be revealed by the Senate subcommittee instead of the piecemeal inquiries being done.

However, subcommittee chairman Senator Pimentel, said Aquino should keep his hands off the probe.

Meanwhile, Coloma downplayed speculations that the Palace was behind the filing of a tax evasion case against businessman and alleged Binay conduit Antonio Tiu.

“If the news is true, the filing of the case is a regular responsibility of the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” Coloma said.

It’s still too early, Trillanes admitted, however, to call for Binay’s resignation from the Cabinet although he intends to do so until after they have already scrutinized the issues surrounding alleged misdeeds using Pag-IBIG funds.

Although he vowed to move for the termination of the proceedings soon, when they already run out of the issues against Binay, Trillanes said there’s no need to rush the proceedings, especially in uncovering the alleged anomalous transactions of BSP with Alphaland Corp. to jointly undertake the development of a property in Makati City.

This would be the case particularly if former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado makes good his plan to file plunder charges against Binay, businessman Roberto V. Ongpin and Alphaland president Mario “Babes” Oreta on the joint venture between Alphaland and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) where the Vice President allegedly pocketted P189 million in kickbacks .

“That would be good (if the filing of plunder cases against Binay pushes through), since we would not need to rush the committee report because its objective is to give the necessary recommendations for the filing of charges,” he explained. Mercado reportedly filed the case against the VP yesterday, after the hearing.

The senator, in an apparent slip of the tongue, boasted to reporters that they have been sharing information with various agencies, the reason for some cases being filed against Binay.

While his latest resolution specifically mentioned the issue on Alphaland and Omni, Trillanes emphasized that it does not prevent them from pursuing other issues concerning Binay as it provides them the jurisdiction to pursue all other purported anomalies implicating the Vice President.

In questioning Berberabe, Trillanes dropped hints that he intends to dig more dirt on Binay other than the issue on Omni which the former managed to fully clarify before the senators debunking any irregularities contrary to the claims of the former.

“You just wait Atty. Berberabe. I only earlier manifested about the expansion of this investigation to include the alleged anomalies in Pag-IBIG so ano na yan free-for-all na yan. That would cover all. So as the president of Pag-IBIG you should be prepared to answer all questions,” Trillanes was quoted saying during the hearing.

This was after Berberabe noted how Trillanes seemed to be laying the premise of her personal relations to Binay which the senator mentioned in Resolution 1114, that her appointment to Pag-IBIG appeared to have been credited to her being the sister-in-law of the Vice President’s chief of staff.

“You don’t have any right to ask Atty. Berberabe so you’ll have to bear with us,” Trillanes said.
“I’m sorry Mr. Chair but I thought that I was invited as a resource speaker to ascertain the truth (concerning OMNI) so I just wanted to clarify since there might be some suggestions hanging,” she explained.

“Let me just clarify. I said that is my perception and what I heard about your personal integrity and like Senator Trillanes, I heard of some anomalies in the Pag-IBIG but I agree with you that it will be unfair without coming out with the allegations and we will get there. So thank you for being here and we hope the other officers including the board of trustees will also be there because its possible that this was perpetrated without you knowing it or it’s legal but it’s immoral. We will get there at a proper time,” Cayetano said.

In her testimony, Berberabe was able to justify the contract entered into by Pag-IBIG in getting the services of OMNI in providing for three bodyguards and other executives of the agency.

Admitting that OMNI was recommended by Binay for her close-in security, the transaction was aboveboard even if it did not undergo any public bidding, being an “emergency procurement” allowed under RA 9184 or the Govermment Procurement Act as an alternative mode especially “when there is imminent danger to life or when time is of the essence and immediate action is necessary.”

Omni came into picture after she assumed the position of president and CEO of Pag-IBIG in Nov. 2010, the height of the Senate’s investigation on the P6.6 billion housing fraud committed by Globe Asiatique of Delfin Lee.

“Concerns were raised within the Fund about my personal safety. Before I became the CEO of Pag-IBIG, I knew nothing about close-in arrangements since I never was in need of one,” she said.


MANILA STANDARD

Binay tops new survey; Veep picked in 2-, 3- and 4-way race, poll finds  By Christine F. Herrera, Joyce Pangco Pañares | Jan. 21, 2015 at 12:01am


BINAY

VICE President Jejomar Binay would be the runaway winner in five-way, four-way and two-way fight scenarios in the 2016 presidential race, the latest survey of Laylo Research Strategies showed.

Binay also recorded the best vote commitment with 66 percent of his voters saying they will no longer change their minds, the same survey showed.

The survey, commissioned by concerned big businessmen, was conducted from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5, 2014, among 1,200 respondents nationwide.

The survey was led by pollster Pedro “Junnie” Laylo Jr., and it affirmed the last quarter Pulse Asia “rider” survey that also showed Binay besting other potential rivals in the four-way and two-way fights and the December Social Weather Stations survey that showed Binay was the “best leader” to replace President Aquino in 2016 as against Senator Grace Poe and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Meanwhile, the Aquino administration retained its “good” satisfaction rating in the fourth quarter of 2014, a recent survey taken by pollster Social Weather Stations showed.

The government received a net satisfaction rating of +34 (58 percent satisfied, 24 percent dissatisfied, and 17 percent ambivalent), which was a point below its +35 score in the third quarter.

Geographically, the administration’s net satisfaction rating fell to “moderate” from “good” in Metro Manila, stayed “good” in the Visayas and Mindanao, and rose to “good” from “moderate” in Balance Luzon.

“We take cognizance of the latest survey of the SWS which shows a net satisfaction rating of +34 for the general performance of the administration,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“In the remaining months of the administration, we shall continue to ramp up the implementation of vital plans, activities and programs in order to achieve our goals of inclusive growth especially in the areas of peace and order, job security and livelihood, strengthening the purchasing power of consumers and providing justice to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.”

Satisfaction with the administration remained “good” in all the socio-economic classes even as net score fell six points among the Class ABC.

The government was also rated on several issues: “good” ratings for helping victims of disasters, defending the country’s territorial rights, providing enough supply of electricity, promoting the welfare of Filipino workers abroad, foreign relations, helping the poor, and preparing for climate change; “moderate” ratings for reconciliation with the communist rebels, providing jobs, reconciliation with Muslim rebels, and fighting terrorism; “neutral” ratings for eradicating graft and corruption, fighting crime, ensuring oil firms don’t take advantage of oil prices, and ensuring that no family will ever be hungry; “poor” rating for fighting inflation and - “bad” rating for resolving the Maguindanao massacre case with justice.

The SWS poll was taken from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 among 1,800 adults.

The survey had sampling error margins of ±2 percent for national percentages, ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao, and ±3 percent for the Visayas.

In the two-way scenario between Binay and Poe, the Laylo survey showed Binay garnering 42 percent as opposed to Poe’s 33 percent with 24 percent of the respondents remaining undecided.

In the Binay versus Roxas scenario, the margin had widened to a 29-point lead with Binay obtaining 45 percent, Roxas 16 percent with a high 39 percent saying they were undecided compared to the last quarter Pulse survey results, which had Binay leading by 10 points at 38 percent and Roxas obtaining 28 percent.

The five-cornered fight showed Binay taking the lead with 36 percent, Poe with 24 percent, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago with 16 percent, Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada with 12 percent, and Roxas placing last with 10 percent. Only two percent remained undecided.

Roxas also placed last in the four-way scenario, gaining one percent to 11 percent if Estrada backed out and Binay still grabbing the lead at 39 percent. Poe took the second slot at 26 percent and Santiago third at 17 percent. At least 7 percent of the respondents remained undecided.

In an estimated 72-percent to 79-percent voter turnout, the 1,200 respondents from 71 provinces nationwide had an estimated 39.04 million likely voters at + or – 3-percent error margins.

The 1,200 respondents were equally divided into 300 from the National Capital Region, 300 from Balance Luzon [145 from North and Central Luzon and 155 from South Luzon and Bicol], 300 from the Visayas and another 300 from Mindanao.

Metro Manila had the least voter turnout at 69 percent with likely voters of 4.14 million. Balance Luzon delivered the highest estimated likely voters at 17.73 million.

Mindanao, the opposition bailiwick, had the most Binay voters, but in the urban areas Binay and Poe were tied for the lead, the Laylo survey showed.

Binay is from the Northern Luzon region while Poe hails from Metro Manila.

The Visayas has estimated 8.5 million likely voters and Mindanao 8.65 million voters.

The Visayas had the least Binay voters because of the significantly higher number of votes for Roxas, who hails from Aklan, and “some votes” for Santiago and “a few votes” for Senate President Franklin Drilon, who are both from Iloilo.

The respondents gave “high vote commitments” for their prospective presidential candidates except for Roxas.

In Binay’s case, some 66 percent said they will no longer change their minds in voting for him while 34 percent said they will still change their minds.

The vote commitment conversion rate for Roxas showed 49 percent said they will no longer change their minds while 51 percent said they willstill change their minds.

Some 57 percent of Poe’s voters said they will no longer change their minds while 43 percent said they will still change their minds.

Santiago had 62 percent saying they will not change their minds while 38 percent said they will still change their minds.

Estrada had 55 percent of the voters sticking with him while 45 percent said they will still change their minds.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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