PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

WOMEN'S RIGHTS: SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS MADE IN PAST 20 YEARS, BUT STILL SLOW
[Meanwhile, the Light Rail Transit 1, LRT 2 and the Metro Rail Transit 3 offer free rides to all women today as part of the celebration of the International Women’s Day.
]


FILE PHOTO: While there have been “remarkable advances” in promoting the human rights of women and girls and their full participation in society in the past 20 years, the overall progress has been “unacceptably slow” and gender discrimination still persists across the globe, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). “More girls are going to school, more women have joined the labor force and more women have access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning,” UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said yesterday in time for the celebration of International Women’s Day today. More women are also in national parliaments and playing a role in advancing peace and security. READ MORE...

SAF 44 kin march for justice
[SAF widow: “we are not closer to knowing the truth.” Called on President Aquino to “help us gain justice and know the truth.”]


Philippine National Police Academy alumni join relatives of the 44 Special Action Force commandos slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in a ‘unity walk’ from Cavite to Quezon City yesterday to call for justice and accountability. Inset shows Inspector Ryan Pabalinas’ widow, Erica, and daughter Camille talking during a mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish church following the walk. STAR/Boy Santos
MANILA, Philippines - Families of the 44 slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos are still crying for justice 44 days after the bloody encounter with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Erica Pabalinas, widow of SAF team leader Chief Inspector Ryan Pabalinas, yesterday led the “March for Justice for SAF 44” where participants walked from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame to the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish church in Quezon City. “While we all knew that their jobs were full of danger, never did we imagine that they would all be lost, 44 brave men in a tragic and brutal way. It has been 44 days and each day has not been easier. We wake up daily to the realization that we lost them for good,” Pabalinas told the crowd in an emotional speech.   She said the slain commandos’ families wake up to the reality that “we are not closer to knowing the truth.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Int'l human rights lawyer Amal wants Philippine government to apologize to Gloria Arroyo


International human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin-Clooney AP file photo  MANILA, Philippines - The lawyer wife of actor George Clooney has asked the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) to call on the Philippine government to issue a public apology for violating the rights of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). International human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin-Clooney believes the government violated ICCPR’s Articles 9, 14, 19 and 25 when Arroyo was placed in detention in the presidential suite of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City despite her medical condition and political status. The UNHRC must call for the release of Arroyo to correct the mistreatment, she added. Clooney said Arroyo’s release from detention will “avoid irreparable damage to her health.”  Arroyo must be temporarily released to allow her to seek medical treatment abroad, she added.  The UNHRC must also recommend granting Arroyo unrestricted access to means of communications like a mobile phone, Internet and laptop computer, she said. .. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO: ‘Women are pillars of Philippine economy’


STAR file photo/EDD GUMBAN 
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday joined the world in celebrating the annual International Women’s Day by recognizing the importance of women in nation-building. “The government recognizes the role of women and their contribution in our society. The women in our society contribute greatly to our economy,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. In 1990, Congress declared the month of March as Women’s Month through Republic Act 6949. The same law designated March 8 of every year as National Women’s Day, a working special holiday. This year’s theme, as per the Philippine Commission on Women, is: “Juana, Desisyon mo ay Mahalaga sa Kinabukasan ng Bawat Isa. Ikaw Na!”  READ MORE...

ALSO: VP Binay ready to face ‘politically-motivated’ charges before Ombudsman


BINAY, INQUIRER PHOTO FILE  Vice President Jejomar Binay said the recommendation by a special panel of the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation on him, his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay and others in connection with alleged irregularities in the Makati City Hall Building II is politically motivated.  Binay said this is no different from what the Senate and the Ombudsman previously did to him and to his family.   "Ito ho ay series ho ito. Hindi naman po ito biglang singaw eh. Kita ho ninyo yung dun sa Senado. One for the books: 15 o 16 na pag-uusap... Yun nga sinasabi eh: 'Kasi maaga kang nag-deklara na ikaw ay kakandidato eh,'" Binay told GMA News at the sidelines of the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists in Cuneta Astrodome on Saturday.  At Senate hearings, Binay's accusers alleged that he received kickbacks from overpriced and irregularly-awarded contracts while he was mayor of Makati City.  The Senate investigation, led by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III, also looked into properties that Binay allegedly owns but that were not declared in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth. READ MORE...

ALSO: Ombudsman gets help from anti-Binay Senate troika


Partisan politics proved to be behind the moves made by the Ombudsman to pursue graft charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay as the anti-graft agency has scrounged for evidence from the Senate troika of anti-Binay Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Documents concerning the alleged overpriced construction of Makati City Hall Parking Building and Makati Science High School were sought by the Ombudsman from the Senate probers, it was gathered yesterday.
“The Ombudsman asked for the documents and we furnished them whatever is in our possesion that they’re interested in,” Pimentel III said.
Pimentel, however, failed to elaborate as to when did the Ombudsman formally ask for the said documents.  It has been reported last Friday, filing of a graft, malversation and violation of the procurement law had been recommended to be filed against the Vice President, Mayor Binay and several others by a special panel of investigators formed by the Ombudsman to handle the P2.2 billion car park project. Vice President Binay, over the weekend, claimed that the decision of the Ombudsman to pursue the preliminary investigation on the alleged overpriced building projects of the Makati City government may just be part of attempts to cover up the growing controversy on the Mamasapano incident. ERAD MORE...

ALSO: PNoy turns to ‘prayer power’; prayer gathering in Malacanang of religious leaders without Catholic bishops


The President: dealing with life’s hardships. Prayers are proven powerful weapons in dealing with life’s hardships. With this apparently in mind, President Aquino is turning to prayer amid challenges in his presidency, including resignation calls arising from the bungled police mission in Maguindanao. The President will host on Monday a prayer gathering in Malacañang where around 500 religious leaders, Cabinet secretaries and other government officials are expected to attend. In an advisory, the President is expected to deliver a message and hold a “Presidential hour” where he will answer questions from the religious sector during the event to be held at the Palace grounds. Prior to the President’s address, prayers and worship songs will be delivered during the program. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, national chairman of the Philippines for Jesus Movement and spiritual director of Jesus Is Lord Church, is expected to read a prayer for the President while Bishop Dan Balais, chairman of the Intercessors for the Philippines, will deliver the prayer for the nation. READ MORE..

ALSO: On Intl Women's Day, groups march for PNoy's ouster; Congress urged to correct laws discriminating women


Women's group Gabriela and other militant groups march to Mendiola bridge in Manila to celebrate the International Day of Women and to call for President Benigno Aquino III's resignation, on Sunday March 8, 2015. DANNY PATA


Dancers perform before the start of a protest march by different women's groups on International Women's Day, March 8, 2015, in Manila. Danny Pata Ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, the head of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) on Friday appealed to Congress to correct current laws discriminating Filipinas. At a press briefing, PCW executive director Emmeline Verzosa said her commission is determined to push for a women’s priority legislative agenda to further protect Filipinas against discrimination. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Women’s rights: Significant progress made, but still slow

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - While there have been “remarkable advances” in promoting the human rights of women and girls and their full participation in society in the past 20 years, the overall progress has been “unacceptably slow” and gender discrimination still persists across the globe, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

“More girls are going to school, more women have joined the labor force and more women have access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning,” UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said yesterday in time for the celebration of International Women’s Day today.

More women are also in national parliaments and playing a role in advancing peace and security.

Maternal death has been cut in half and there is increased action to protect the health and rights of adolescent girls, a long overlooked population.

Global campaigns against female genital mutilation and child marriage are also gaining momentum, while the global movement to end gender-based violence is growing and more men are promoting gender equality.

“Yet, while these trends hold great promise, overall progress has been unacceptably slow, with stagnation and even regression in some contexts,” Osotimehin lamented.

He noted that 20 years after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, “no country in the world has achieved gender equality, and discrimination in the law persists in many countries.”

“Women’s rising educational attainment and workforce participation have not been matched with equal prospects for advancement and equal pay,” he added.

In the Philippines, women political prisoners are still locked up in jail. Human rights activists led by the group Karapatan are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release them as part of the efforts to empower women and in time for the International Women’s Day.

“Among the 491 political prisoners, 43 of these are women who face criminal trumped up charges. We call on the Department of Justice to dismiss their cases and immediately release them,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan.

“This includes Andrea Rosal and Miradel Torres who are jailed in Taguig City Jail. Rosal and Torres are mothers who were pregnant during their arrests. Rosal gave birth to a girl only to lose her two days after. Torres had to fight to keep her son after birth and nurse him in jail,” Palabay lamented.

Karapatan said women peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Wilma Austria-Tiamzon and Loida Magpatoc are also incarcerated. “These women who exercise their right to take part in political affairs are contained in jails because they are unjustly seen as threat to the government.”

Karapatan also reported that of the 224 victims of unexplained killings under the Aquino administration, 18 are women and three girls were raped. But none of these cases were resolved in court, nor its perpetrators put in jail.

“Taking the lives of our sisters such as Cristina Jose, a leader of typhoon survivors, and many young girls in communities struggling for land is an unforgiveable offense,” Palabay stressed.

Free train rides for women

Meanwhile, the Light Rail Transit 1, LRT 2 and the Metro Rail Transit 3 offer free rides to all women today as part of the celebration of the International Women’s Day. With Rhodina Villanueva, Robertzon Ramirez ..


PHILSTAR

SAF 44 kin march for justice
[SAF widow: “We are not closer to knowing the truth.” Called on President Aquino to “help us gain justice and know the truth now.”] 
By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 9, 2015 - 12:00am


Philippine National Police Academy alumni join relatives of the 44 Special Action Force commandos slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in a ‘unity walk’ from Cavite to Quezon City yesterday to call for justice and accountability. Inset shows Inspector Ryan Pabalinas’ widow, Erica, and daughter Camille talking during a mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish church following the walk. STAR/Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines - Families of the 44 slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos are still crying for justice 44 days after the bloody encounter with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Erica Pabalinas, widow of SAF team leader Chief Inspector Ryan Pabalinas, yesterday led the “March for Justice for SAF 44” where participants walked from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame to the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish church in Quezon City.

“While we all knew that their jobs were full of danger, never did we imagine that they would all be lost, 44 brave men in a tragic and brutal way. It has been 44 days and each day has not been easier. We wake up daily to the realization that we lost them for good,” Pabalinas told the crowd in an emotional speech.

She said the slain commandos’ families wake up to the reality that “we are not closer to knowing the truth.”

“Forty-four days later, we still don’t know who their killers are and many of us have not recovered the personal belongings of our brave men,” Pabalinas said.

She said the families and relatives of the slain policemen have eagerly been monitoring the progress of investigations on the Mamasapano incident.

“Our hearts are more burdened as the days pass. Our cry for justice seems to be slipping from our grasp. We don’t seek to blame anybody; we seek justice. Why is that justice so hard to gain?

Is the sacrifice of the fallen 44 not enough to merit justice? They serve for justice, but where is justice for them?” Pabalinas said, adding her three-year-old daughter Camille had lost the love of a father.

Pabalinas also thanked the PNP and other government sectors, as well as private individuals and groups for their assistance.

“Please know that all of you are appreciated. We want the government and national leaders to know that we do not want blood money. We families ask and seek one thing – truth and justice to be served,” she said.

Pabalinas also thanked the PNP Academy Alumni Association Inc. (PNPAAAI) for taking up the cause of justice for their loved ones as well as those who joined the solidarity march to show sympathy.

“We hope that soon, not 44 months, not 44 years, not forever, do we have to continue waiting so that truth and justice will be finally served for our brave fallen 44,” she said.

Pabalinas called on President Aquino to “help us gain justice and know the truth.”

Despite a last-minute call to back out and recall of permits for the event, the march went on with almost 1,000 people participating.

The PNPAAAI initiated the march with participants wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with “Walk with the widows, run for our heroes,” while carrying placards bearing the photos of the slain 44.

Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes also jogged along.

Reyes and his group joined the march and proceeded to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish for a mass.

Tomas Rentoy III, PNPAAAI chairman of the board, said the march turned out to be successful and peaceful despite the cancellation of permits and the call of a police official for their fellow PNPA graduates not to join the event.

“Despite many hindrances, we consider the sympathy march for justice for SAF44 successful,” Rentoy said. “There were so many obstacles thrown our way.”

He said they had secured several permits for the event, but “a few days before the march, our permits were recalled one after the other. We don’t know why.”

Rentoy said Senior Superintendent Jerome Baxinela, president of the Camp Crame chapter of the PNPAAAI, issued the call not to attend the march. He said Baxinela could be expelled from the association or end up ostracized.

Rentoy, a retired police general, explained that among cadets, being ostracized by alumni and batchmates is far worse because this translates to being considered nonexistent.

He said Baxinela’s infractions would be among the agenda of the meeting of board of trustees this week in preparation for the general assembly of the PNPA alumni homecoming on March 12.

While the group was trying to assemble outside the gate of Camp Crame, there were members of Gabriela holding placards denouncing the government.

A PNPA officer approached the leader of the militant group and requested them not to use the march for any political protest, to which the group obliged.

Rentoy revealed that last week, an officer of Bayan indicated the group’s intention to participate in the march.

Rentoy said he gave them guidelines, including the ban on anti-government slogans.

National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Carmelo Valmoria said the march was peaceful even though some militant groups participated in the event. Valmoria said the participants did not issue any grievances nor carry placards against the government as was agreed upon.

“There was no untoward incident reported in the march for the fallen SAF 44. The event was peaceful and orderly until the participants dispersed before lunchtime,” he said.

The killing of the 44 SAF operatives became the rallying cry of several groups calling for the resignation of President Aquino and other officials involved in the bloody police operation.

The 44 policemen were part of a team of SAF operatives on a mission to capture one of world’s most wanted terrorists hiding in a remote village in Mamasapano.

Although the target, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was killed, the raiding policemen were waylaid by Muslim rebels while on their way out of Mamasapano on Jan. 25.

The operation became the focus of investigations by the PNP and the Senate. –With Non Alquitran, Christina Mendez ..


PHILSTAR

Int'l human rights lawyer Amal wants Philippine government to apologize to GMA By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 9, 2015 - 12:00am


International human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin-Clooney AP file photo

MANILA, Philippines - The lawyer wife of actor George Clooney has asked the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) to call on the Philippine government to issue a public apology for violating the rights of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

International human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin-Clooney believes the government violated ICCPR’s Articles 9, 14, 19 and 25 when Arroyo was placed in detention in the presidential suite of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City despite her medical condition and political status.

The UNHRC must call for the release of Arroyo to correct the mistreatment, she added.

Clooney said Arroyo’s release from detention will “avoid irreparable damage to her health.”

Arroyo must be temporarily released to allow her to seek medical treatment abroad, she added.

The UNHRC must also recommend granting Arroyo unrestricted access to means of communications like a mobile phone, Internet and laptop computer, she said. ..


PHILSTAR

‘Women are pillars of Philippine economy’ By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 9, 2015 - 12:00am


STAR file photo/EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday joined the world in celebrating the annual International Women’s Day by recognizing the importance of women in nation-building.

“The government recognizes the role of women and their contribution in our society. The women in our society contribute greatly to our economy,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

In 1990, Congress declared the month of March as Women’s Month through Republic Act 6949. The same law designated March 8 of every year as National Women’s Day, a working special holiday.

This year’s theme, as per the Philippine Commission on Women, is: “Juana, Desisyon mo ay Mahalaga sa Kinabukasan ng Bawat Isa. Ikaw Na!”

The administration of President Aquino, now on its fifth year, has always encouraged strong women participation in all kinds of programs that government has been pushing, like the formulation of decisions and national policies, Coloma said.

This has also been so in the programs from private sector initiatives based on the principles provided under the provisions of Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

In the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report conducted by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked ninth and the only country from Asia out of 142 countries surveyed regarding gender equality and promotion of women’s rights.

These are among four aspects – economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

In the survey, the Philippines was tops in terms of educational attainment and health and survival, and ranked 17th and 24th on the aspects of political empowerment and economic participation, respectively.

One of the advocacies the government is the elimination of violence against women.

“The government was also able to lower the maternal and infant mortality rate under the Millennium Development Goals and we are expecting this to improve further under the implementation of the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood Law,” Coloma added.

Meanwhile, women lawmakers will take over the House of Representatives today in celebration of Women’s Role in History Month and National Women’s Day yesterday.

Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. will temporarily relinquish his post as Speaker to Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia, who heads the 79-member women’s caucus in the House.

“The direct engagement of women in national and local movements adds flesh and blood to the great debates of our time. For at the end of the day, hungry children must be fed, the sick child nursed back to health, and leaking roofs cannot wait for the rain to stop. And these things even an unlettered mother knows more closely than the greatest statesmen,” De Venecia said.

This afternoon, Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica and Rep. Emmi de Jesus of party-list Gabriela will also sponsor a bill that seeks to ensure the fundamental equality of men and women by amending the Family Code.

Villarica chairs the committee on women and gender equality.

Former senator Helena Benitez will be given a commendation for her role in uplifting the status of women in the Philippines by virtue of House Resolution 1956 authored by De Venecia.

Benitez made history in 1969 as the first Filipina chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. – With Jess Diaz ..


GMA NEWS NETWORK

VP Binay ready to face ‘politically-motivated’ charges before Ombudsman By JP SORIANO,GMA NewsMarch 8, 2015 5:37pm

Vice President Jejomar Binay said the recommendation by a special panel of the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation on him, his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay and others in connection with alleged irregularities in the Makati City Hall Building II is politically motivated.

Binay said this is no different from what the Senate and the Ombudsman previously did to him and to his family.

"Ito ho ay series ho ito. Hindi naman po ito biglang singaw eh. Kita ho ninyo yung dun sa Senado. One for the books: 15 o 16 na pag-uusap... Yun nga sinasabi eh: 'Kasi maaga kang nag-deklara na ikaw ay kakandidato eh,'" Binay told GMA News at the sidelines of the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists in Cuneta Astrodome on Saturday.

At Senate hearings, Binay's accusers alleged that he received kickbacks from overpriced and irregularly-awarded contracts while he was mayor of Makati City.

The Senate investigation, led by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III, also looked into properties that Binay allegedly owns but that were not declared in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.

The Binays have maintained that the allegations are motivated by politics.

Despite this, the vice president said he is ready to face the Ombudsman.

“Sa simula’t simula naman, sinasabi namin [na] handa kaming humarap at ipaliwanag kung ano po ang tunay na pangyayari pero in the proper forum. So nandito ‘yong sa Ombudsman. Ang nakakalungkot nga lang, hindi mo malaman kung ito ay wittingly done or unwittingly done,” Binay said.

Immediately after his visit to the Seventh-Day Adventists' gathering, Binay went to speak at a Philippine Army activity at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

At the sidelines of that event, Binay told GMA News that he and President Benigno Aquino remain good friends despite the issues surrounding them.

"In fact I've been always praying and hoping he can overcome this particular problem he is confronted with.” Binay said.

The vice president was referring to the Mamasapano clash that resulted in the deaths of at least 60 people, including 44 Special Action Force trooper. He said many questions about the clash have yet to be answered.

When asked by media if he thinks the preliminary investigation is meant to cover up the Mamasapano issue, Binay said:

“Totoo po ‘yon. Nandiyan po ‘yong tinutuloy-tuloy pa ‘yong sa Senado. Ngayon naman po ay sa Ombudsman. Hindi po talaga nagbabago ang pulitika natin. Medyo may karumihan pa rin talaga.”

Binay said he has no regrets in declaring his intention to run for president in 2016 early but added

he is having a hard time finding a runningmate in the 2016 elections.

“Hanggang ngayon e napakahirap, isang problema kung bakit ba naging problema na mahirap pong maghanap ng makakasama ko bilang pangalawang pangulo sa darating na halalan.” Binay said. — JDS, GMA News


TRIBUNE

SMEAR JOB VS BINAY STEPPED UP
Ombudsman gets help from anti-Binay Senate troika
Written by Angie M. Rosales
Monday, 09 March 2015 00:00

Partisan politics proved to be behind the moves made by the Ombudsman to pursue graft charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay as the anti-graft agency has scrounged for evidence from the Senate troika of anti-Binay Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Documents concerning the alleged overpriced construction of Makati City Hall Parking Building and Makati Science High School were sought by the Ombudsman from the Senate probers, it was gathered yesterday.

“The Ombudsman asked for the documents and we furnished them whatever is in our possesion that they’re interested in,” Pimentel III said.

Pimentel, however, failed to elaborate as to when did the Ombudsman formally ask for the said documents.

It has been reported last Friday, filing of a graft, malversation and violation of the procurement law had been recommended to be filed against the Vice President, Mayor Binay and several others by a special panel of investigators formed by the Ombudsman to handle the P2.2 billion car park project.
Vice President Binay, over the weekend, claimed that the decision of the Ombudsman to pursue the preliminary investigation on the alleged overpriced building projects of the Makati City government may just be part of attempts to cover up the growing controversy on the Mamasapano incident.

Pimentel, lead prober on the issues concerning the Vice President, was quick to dismiss the possibility of their findings and recommendations being similar to that with the Ombudsman especially if both have the same set of documents on the charges against the Binays.

The Senate and the Ombudsman’s inquiry should be independent of each other, the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee underscored.

“If the reports are the same there would be no more questions to ask. If both are different, then those following the inestigations would raise questions. It can’t be automatic that both will have the same findings and recommendations,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel refused to entertain queries whether the panel already have enough information to recommend the filing of charges, whether it will amount to similar allegations as that of the Ombudsman or even higher crimes such as plunder.

“Let’s just wait since we’re about to finish our proceedings. But definitely, if there will be findings of irregularities and the committee will be able to determine who these main actors are, definitely, we will recommend the filing of appropriate charges against them,” he said.

While the Senate inquiry is due to be wrapped up soon, after the issues on the alleged misuse of funds of Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and Pag-IBIG or Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) have been tackled by the blue ribbon sub-committee, Pimentel said he plans to come up with a partial committee report on the Makati Science High School and parking buildings.

But to avoid a duplication of findings, Pimentel said that before finalizing the subcommittee report, its members will compare the names of those that will be recommended to be charged to those who already have pending cases before the Ombudsman.

“We will compare it in our list. If there are names not in the list who should be charged or investigated, we can include them,” he said.

As to how the Senate investigating body will handle the Vice President’s case, considering that he did not appear or testify on the issues hurled at him, Pimentel said they will not take it against Binay.

“That will not be taken against him but in cases where he does not have an explanation on record, what we will do is compile his press releases and we will see what argument of his that we can use,” Pimentel said.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president Toby Tiangco, however, slammed the government’s obvious and clear display of “selective prosecution” of political personalities not allied with the administration, as he twitted Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for claiming that the preliminary investigation “vindicated” the Senate inquisition of Binay and that he expects arrest warrants to be issued soon.

“Senator Trillanes is again shooting from the hip. He should really learn to read news stories carefully. In the first place, the preliminary investigation is not for plunder as he had claimed. And more importantly, based on the Ombudsman press release, they did not see any overpricing but alleged procedural lapses in procurement,” Tiangco said.

The UNA official said the express lane treatment of the allegations against Vice President Binay and Makati mayor Junjun Binay stood in contrast to the snail paced probe of Liberal Party (LP) solons linked to the pork barrel scam.

“Selective political prosecution is very clear in the persecution of political opponents, the fact-finding on the allegations against the Vice President and Mayor Junjun Binay was obviously rushed but the complaints against Liberal Party members in the pork barrel scam are not even moving,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco added he believes that there is a high-level design to neutralize the political opposition before the 2016 elections.

“Again this is a cowardly act on the part of Mar Roxas. This is a desperation move. He is using the people of (former defense secretary) Nonong Cruz, who were appointed during the time of his partner Simeon Marcelo in the Office of the Ombudsman. We are hoping that the sense of fairness and integrity of the Honorable Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales will prevail over the evil motives of Mar Roxas, through officials appointed or promoted during the time of Simeon Marcelo,” he said.

An Ombudsman special panel said it has started its preliminary investigation against Vice President Binay, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and 22 others over the construction of the Makati City Hall building 2.

“Why should in the case of Binay and Makati, everything is labeled ‘special’. It started with the Special Senate Sub-Committee, then it went to the Special COA (Commission on Audit) team, now it is the Special Ombudsman panel. We all know that when it is called ‘special’, it means that the objective is not the truth but a special mission to convict at all cost, “ said Tiangco.

He also noted the glaring selective nature of the preliminary probe since Mario Hechanova, the former procurement officer who admitted before the Senate that he rigged the bids, was dropped by the panel.

“Hechanova admitted to have rigged the bidding but he was not included since he is in cahoots with the detractors of Vice President Binay,” he said.

According to Tiangco, it is obvious that someone is directing how the Senate telenovela should take its course, and since the political operators behind “Oplan Nognog 2016” have realized that the common tao already know the evil motives of the Sub-committee, these operators have decided to take a new strategy.

He added that it has become clear that the Malacanang has no plans in filing cases against its allies and members of the Liberal Party who were part of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, and the deliberate delays are evident of the “double-standard” brand of justice of the Administration.

“LP’s MAD (Mar-Abad-Drilon) will do anything to take Binay out of the race, and for them to stay in power after 2016 to cover up corruption issues like the MRT, and most specially the plunderous DAP liability,” Tiangco said.

The Navotas lawmaker also added that the filing of a complaint against the Binays is being used by the administration to turn the attention away from the mounting anger of the public over the Mamasapano issue.

“They know the public is outraged over the Mamasapano incident and the handling of the government of the issue so they have to create another issue to divert the attention of the public,” Tiangco said.


MANILA BULLETIN

ALSO:PNoy turns to ‘prayer power’; Prayer gathering in Malacanang without Catholic bishops by Genalyn Kabiling March 8, 2015


Prayers are proven powerful weapons in dealing with life’s hardships.

With this apparently in mind, President Aquino is turning to prayer amid challenges in his presidency, including resignation calls arising from the bungled police mission in Maguindanao.

The President will host on Monday a prayer gathering in Malacañang where around 500 religious leaders, Cabinet secretaries and other government officials are expected to attend.29_AQUINO1

In an advisory, the President is expected to deliver a message and hold a “Presidential hour” where he will answer questions from the religious sector during the event to be held at the Palace grounds.

Prior to the President’s address, prayers and worship songs will be delivered during the program.

Bro. Eddie Villanueva, national chairman of the Philippines for Jesus Movement and spiritual director of Jesus Is Lord Church, is expected to read a prayer for the President while Bishop Dan Balais, chairman of the Intercessors for the Philippines, will deliver the prayer for the nation.

Other religious leaders who will offer prayers are Alex Garcia, director for national operations of the Jesus Is Lord Church; Bishop Leo Alconga, East Asia director of Biblica Ministry and national vice chairman of Philippines for Jesus Movement; Dr. Andrew Liuson, president of the City and Land Corporation; Bro. Daniel Razon, President of the Members Church of God International.

There was no mention of a Catholic bishop who will participate in the prayer assembly.

The prayer assembly in Malacañang comes amid mounting calls for President Aquino’s accountability for the botched mission in Mamasapano that left 44 Special Action Force troopers dead. Some groups have called on the President to step down while others some sought his apology for supposedly sending the policemen to their deaths.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

On Intl Women's Day, groups march for PNoy's ouster; Congress urged to correct laws discriminating women Uploaded on 6:49PM Mar 8


Dancers perform before the start of a protest march by different women's groups on International Women's Day, March 8, 2015, in Manila. Danny Pata

Congress urged to correct laws discriminating women By ANDREO CALONZO,GMA NewsMarch 6, 2015 8:18pm

Ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, the head of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) on Friday appealed to Congress to correct current laws discriminating Filipinas.

At a press briefing, PCW executive director Emmeline Verzosa said her commission is determined to push for a women’s priority legislative agenda to further protect Filipinas against discrimination.

“We’re working very closely with Congress. There are still a lot of discriminatory provisions in certain laws,” Versoza told reporters in Malacañang.

The PCW head particularly called for amendments in the Revised Penal Code provisions on adultery and concubinage to “equalize penalties for marital infidelity.”

“Magkaiba po ‘yun. Kapag babae, adultery; ‘pag lalaki ang nangaliwa, concubinage. So mas mahirap i-prove ‘yung concubinage,” she explained.

Verzosa added the PCW is studying the possibility of repealing these provisions and turning the offenses into civil ones.

She further said that her commission also wants to amend certain provisions in the Family Code which state that husbands’ decisions must prevail over those made by their wives.

Verzosa likewise pushed for the passage of an anti-prostitution bill, which punishes the “demand side of the prostitution” instead of the prostitute.

“What we would like to do is to criminalize instead the users, the pimps, the bar owners—those who make prostitution a business,” she said.

Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code states that “women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct” are considered to be prostitutes. —KBK, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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