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INTEGRATED BAR: SENATE PROBE ON CA JUSTICES UNCONSTITUTIONAL
[Appellate court employees condemn ‘justice for sale’ raps sans proof ]


APRIL 21--VICENTE M. JOYAS National President & Chairman of the Board, INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP) 
The Senate has once again circumvented the Constitution. This was what the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on the planned Senate investigation on the alleged “justice for sale” as it is a clear circumvention of the Constitution. Vicente Joyas , who leads the 40,000 strong lawyers’ group issued the statement following the pronouncement of Sen. Franklin Drilon that the judiciary is not exempted from a Senate inquiry although the upper chamber cannot compel the magistrates of the Supreme Court or any other court to appear out of interdepartmental courtesies. Joyas said the Senate cannot force the justices to attend any of its investigations as he questioned the purpose of such an inquiry. “The plan of the Senate to push through with the investigation is a circumvention of the Constitution. In the first place, what would be the purpose of the investigation?,” he asked.The IBP president said the Senate has no authority to investigate judges and justices adding that only the Supreme Court has the power and authority to do so. “They must observe the constitutional provision that only the SC has the authority to probe the CA justices and lower court judges,” he explained, adding that if the Senate pushes through with an inquiry on the allegation of corruption in the appellate court raised by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, then the “Senate is the one appearing to be above the law because they (the senators) are violating the Constitution.” READ MORE...

ALSO: CA employees wear white vs Trillanes' 'justice for sale' claims


APRIL 20 --CA employees condemn Trillanes Justice for Sale expose CA employees condemn Trillanes' 'Justice for Sale' expose. Employees of the Court of Appeals wear white shirts during a flag-raising ceremony at the CA in Manila on Monday, April 20, as a protest against the 'Justice for Sale' expose of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Association of Court Appeals Employees Union president Amel De Vera said the 'allegation is full of lies and we condemn such allegation made by the senator.' Danny Pata 
Employees of the Court of Appeals on Monday reported for work in white shirts to protest Senator Antonio Trillanes' allegation that justice is for sale at the appeals court.
The appelate court's white-clad employees were noticeable at Monday's flag-raising ceremony, which was also attended by CA justices, including Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. "Ang panawagan namin ay sana ipakita ang evidence. Hindi naman kami against sa intention [ni Trillanes] to clean ang hudikatura. Ang gusto lang namin ay idaan ito sa proper forum. Hindi pa-interview ka na lang sa media," Amiel De Vera, president of the Association of CA Employees told GMA News Online. De Vera said allegations of corruption in the judiciary should be brought before the Supreme Court, which he said has the "disciplining power" over members of the judiciary. "May mga empleyado at justices rin na mababait. Sa damage na nangyayari, nasasama na pati ang maliliit na empleyado," De Vera said. He said "almost all" of the CA's around 1,200 employees wore white today. READ MORE...

ALSO: A colleague ratted on 'corrupt' CA justice: consumer group


APRIL 21 --A group on Monday said its source on the alleged corruption in the Court of Appeals (CA) was also a justice of the appellate court.
Coalition of Filipino Consumers secretary-general Perfecto Tagalog said a CA justice was the one who told the group of the alleged corruption in the court. ''Ito ay galing mismo sa aktibong justice na kasama rin nila na nangangamba at nababahala dito sa kalakaran ng ating hudikatura,'' Tagalog told dzMM. ''Bago natin nilabas ito at bago tayo nanawagan, sinigurado muna nating meron tayong karampatang ebidensya na ma-file po before the Supreme Court."  Tagalog said the justice who was allegedly in the practice of receiving bribes in exchange for favorable rulings is actually different from the two justices earlier accused by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV of receiving bribe from the camp of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senate can invite but can not compel CA justices — Drilon


APRIL 20 ---Senate President and Liberal Party Chairman Franklin Drilon
The Senate cannot compel Court of Appeals (CA) justices accused of bribery by Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV to appear before a planned investigation on alleged corruption in the Judiciary.Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III indicated the holding of the probe which will be a spin off from the marathon inquiry into alleged irregularities involving Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family in proceedings of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that many branded as an inqusition. While the Senate may investigate the alleged “justice for sale,” the chamber cannot coerce the two CA justices purported to have received bribe money, in the amount of P25 million each, from the Binay camp, to appear before them and defend themselves.Senate President Franklin Drilon underscored this fact, supported by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who is also a lawyer like Drilon. Both asserted the right of the Senate or any of its permanent committees in conducting investigations of matters of public interest and in aid of legislation. Drilon said the Senate will respect the inter-departmental courtesy and separation of powers if ever the chamber will push through with the investigation on the “justice for sale” allegation. ”We can send the invitation but we cannot use our coercive or subpoena powers to force the justices to face the Senate. We cannot compel them,” Drilon said. Drilon said even if the Senate finds evidence that some justices have accepted money to favor the cases of some influential individuals, “only the Supreme Court (SC) can discipline them based on our Constitution.” READ MORE...

ALSO: 3 more SC justices inhibit from Mayor Binay suspension case


APRIL 20 ---Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te announced the inhibition of three more associate justices from Junjun Binay suspension case. CBCPNews
MANILA, Philppines – Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te on Tuesday announced the inhibition of three associate justices from the case of the Court of Appeals' temporary restraining order on the Ombudsman's suspension order against Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay.
Te said Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Arturo D. Brion, and Francis H Jardeleza inhibited from the case. Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta had earlier inhibited himself from participating in the case and did not sit during the first session of the oral arguments in the Binay case. READ MORE...

ALSO: LP treasurer found guilty of graft as ruling party gears up for 2016 polls


APRIL 21 ---Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr, --Umali is currently the treasurer of the LP 
While Liberal Party officials stressed they are committed to advance the party’s “tuwid na daan” or straight path political ideology and principles which they are again using to boost LP’s chances in the 2016 presidential elections, with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the Liberal’s “presumptive candidate,” an active and a former official of the LP was found guilty of graft in connection with the anomalous grant of P2.5 million loan to a private person two decades ago. In a 37-page reso-lution signed by Asso-ciate Justice Jose Hernandez, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division found incumbent Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. and former Gov. Rodolfo Valencia of the same province “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of violating Section 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. They were sentenced by the anti-graft court to six to 10-years’ imprisonment.  Both officials were also penalized with the loss of retirement and gratuity benefits, and perpetual disqualification from public office. READ MORE...


ALSO
Tribune Commentary: In aid of destructive politics


APRIL 20 ---No one is saying that the justices are above the law and cannot be investigated, but certainly, it is not the Senate that has to investigate the justices, since such probes belong to the province and realm of the Supreme Court, just as it is the Senate solely that has the power and authority to investigate and punish its senators. But Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday announced that senators will investigate allegations of corruption in the judiciary because the chamber has the power to do so. Any allegation of corruption, according to Drilon, falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate committee on accountability of public officers and investigations (blue ribbon). He added that the panel’s authority to look into wrongdoings also covers the judiciary.
This is claimed to be all in aid of legislation. But does the Senate ever come up with such legislations based on whatever it has destructively conducted by way of probes? Certainly, no legislation has been done in the case of the hearings against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Drilon is not quite telling the real reason the Senate wants to investigate the two justices on the allegations of their having been bribed with P25 million and by Vice President Binay for his son, the Makati Mayor, Junjun, to be granted first a temporary restraining order and second, a preliminary injunction. The real reason for the investigation is to continue destroying the VP, as the issue is really all about politics.It is common knowledge that the Liberal Party will have, or already has, a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

IBP: Senate probe on CA justices unconstitutional


VICENTE M. JOYAS National President & Chairman of the Board, INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP)

MANILA, APRIL 27, 2015 (TRIBUNE) Written by Benjamin B. Pulta Tuesday, 21 April 2015 - The Senate has once again circumvented the Constitution. This was what the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on the planned Senate investigation on the alleged “justice for sale” as it is a clear circumvention of the Constitution.

Vicente Joyas , who leads the 40,000 strong lawyers’ group issued the statement following the pronouncement of Sen. Franklin Drilon that the judiciary is not exempted from a Senate inquiry although the upper chamber cannot compel the magistrates of the Supreme Court or any other court to appear out of interdepartmental courtesies.

Joyas said the Senate cannot force the justices to attend any of its investigations as he questioned the purpose of such an inquiry.

“The plan of the Senate to push through with the investigation is a circumvention of the Constitution. In the first place, what would be the purpose of the investigation?,” he asked.

The IBP president said the Senate has no authority to investigate judges and justices adding that only the Supreme Court has the power and authority to do so.

“They must observe the constitutional provision that only the SC has the authority to probe the CA justices and lower court judges,” he explained, adding that if the Senate pushes through with an inquiry on the allegation of corruption in the appellate court raised by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, then the “Senate is the one appearing to be above the law because they (the senators) are violating the Constitution.”

READ MORE...
He stressed that this is part of the separation of powers in the same way that the SC cannot investigate erring lawmakers.

“Under the law, it is the SC that should investigate judges and justices allegedly involved in corruption. That is also part of the separation of powers in the same way that the SC cannot investigate the members of Congress for any misbehavior,” Joyas further explained.

He said that the Senate cannot use the guise of investigation in aid of legislation or the check and balance provision of the Constitution to conduct a probe on the justices.

“Check and balance is defined in the Constitution. It pertains to the power of the President over legislation, the power of the Senate to remove justices for impeachment. The SC exercises check and balance by reviewing the acts of the other branch of the government should there be grave abuse of discretion. Investigation in aid of legislation on alleged corruption of judges and justices are not those defined in the check and balance provisions,” he said.


Various groups are weighing in on Sen. Antonio Trillanes' allegation that justice is for sale at the Court of Appeals. - ANC, The World Tonight, April 14, 2015 ABS-CBN

It can be recalled that Trillanes filed a resolution calling on the Senate to probe the alleged “justice for sale” scheme at the appellate court.

He claims Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Jose Reyes Jr. received P50 million in total from Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay in return for issuing the temporary restraining order and the writ of preliminary injunction stopping the Ombudsman from enforcing his suspension in connection with the alleged anomalous construction of the Makati Parking Building II.

SC Spokesman, Theodore Te last week said evidence is necessary for the high court to proceed with an investigation on any allegations raised against members of the judiciary, whether they be lawyers, judges or justices.

Meanwhile, government workers in the Court of Appeals (CA) rallied behind two of the appellate court magistrates whom administration Senator Trilllanes accused of having been bribed to stop the suspension of Makati Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay, barely a year before next year’s elections where the latter’s father Vice President Jejomar Binay is running for president.

The Association of Court of Appeals Employees yesterday challenged Senator Trillanes to present evidence before the proper forum to back up his accusations against two magistrates of the appellate court instead of presenting his allegations before the media.

The group’s president Amiel De Vera said they fully support any effort to cleanse the judiciary of its “bad eggs” but said it should be done the right way so as not to damage the entire institution.


“We are not against any move to clean the judiciary but it should be done the right way since we are a nation governed by laws. If Trillanes has the evidence with which to back up his charges, then he should be raising this in the proper forum and not in the media, especially as he is a lawmaker,” De Vera said in a phone interview Monday.

He said Trillanes or any individual or group that has evidence against members of the judiciary can even go to the Supreme Court to present their evidence so that an investigation can be done.

“If he (Trillanes) has good intentions, then he should do it the right way,” he added.

Earlier, employees of the appellate court wearing white t-shirts held a short “protest” at the CA grounds after Monday’s flag raising ceremony to show their support for Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Jose Reyes Jr. who have been accused by Trillanes of receiving a total of P50 million from the camp of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay allegedly in return for issuing the temporary restraining order and the writ of preliminary injunction that stopped the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government from enforcing his six months suspension in connection with the allegedly anomalous construction of the Makati Parking Building II.

“It was just a solidarity action to show that we are united to protect the integrity and honor of the Court of Appeals amid the recent accusations,” De Vera said.

Reyes and Acosta were not present during the rally.


Employees of the Court of Appeals on Monday reported for work in white shirts to protest Senator Antonio Trillanes' allegation that justice is for sale at the appeals court.

Trillanes filed a resolution calling on the Senate to investigate the two justices. He also appealed to the Supreme Court to investigate the issue but provides no evidence, despite being aware of the fact that the SC cannot conduct an investigationof its justices without evidence given.

Both justices and lawyer Pancho Villaraza whom Trillanes tagged as the one who had allegedly facilitated the payoff to Acosta and Reyes denied the accusation, saying that Mayor Binay was never a client of the law firm.

It is suspected that the group of lawyers, once partners in the same law firm and identified with Department of Interior and Local Government, Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, the presumptive Liberal Party presidential candidate for 2016 is behind bringing the name of Villaraza in the alleged bribery case.

Vice President Binay has also filed contempt charges before the Court of Appeals against Trillanes.

Trillanes himself said he has no evidence of the bribery, having gotten the report from his sources, whom he refuses to identify.

Trillanes and the anti-Binay senators are known to allege without proof. Worse, they use the Senate forum to destroy the electoral chances of the VP in winning the presidency and the justices are collateral damage.

They have been holding hearings against the Vice President, but to this day, no evidence has been presented by Trillanes and his group.


GMA NEWS ONLINE

CA employees wear white vs Trillanes' 'justice for sale' claims By MARK MERUEÑAS,GMA News April 20, 2015 12:11pm


CA employees condemn Trillanes Justice for Sale expose CA employees condemn Trillanes' 'Justice for Sale' expose. Employees of the Court of Appeals wear white shirts during a flag-raising ceremony at the CA in Manila on Monday, April 20, as a protest against the 'Justice for Sale' expose of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Association of Court Appeals Employees Union president Amel De Vera said the 'allegation is full of lies and we condemn such allegation made by the senator.' Danny Pata

Employees of the Court of Appeals on Monday reported for work in white shirts to protest Senator Antonio Trillanes' allegation that justice is for sale at the appeals court.

The appelate court's white-clad employees were noticeable at Monday's flag-raising ceremony, which was also attended by CA justices, including Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr.

"Ang panawagan namin ay sana ipakita ang evidence. Hindi naman kami against sa intention [ni Trillanes] to clean ang hudikatura. Ang gusto lang namin ay idaan ito sa proper forum. Hindi pa-interview ka na lang sa media," Amiel De Vera, president of the Association of CA Employees told GMA News Online.

De Vera said allegations of corruption in the judiciary should be brought before the Supreme Court, which he said has the "disciplining power" over members of the judiciary.

"May mga empleyado at justices rin na mababait. Sa damage na nangyayari, nasasama na pati ang maliliit na empleyado," De Vera said. He said "almost all" of the CA's around 1,200 employees wore white today.

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He said they all their members were told about the White Shirt Day in a memo sent out Friday.

In a resolution calling for a Senate probe on the alleged “justice for sale” system in the appelate court, Trillanes cited “reliable sources privy to the matter” in alleging that CA Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr and Francisco Acosta each received P25 million in bribes to stop Makati Mayor Junjun Binay’s suspension on March 16.

Trillanes also accused the two CA justices of receiving an additional P5 million each after issuing a writ of preliminary injunction to stop Binay’s suspension indefinitely.

De Vera said they would continue wearing white shirts until the issue is resolved.

The CA's regional offices in Cagayan de Oro City and Cebu, as well as CA employees in Baguio for the summer session, have likewise been encouraged to wear white shirts, De Vera added.

Asked why his group chose white, De Vera said they had to think of another color because they had already donned black and red shirts in protest of President Benigno Aquino III's call to clip the powers of the judicary amid the debate on the Disbursement Acceleration Program last year.

"Ngayon siguro ang ibig sabihin naman ng white is transparency, purity of the courts, and for the insulation of the institution," said De Vera. - JJ, GMA News


ABS-CBN

A colleague ratted on 'corrupt' CA justice: consumer group April 21, 2015

MANILA – A group on Monday said its source on the alleged corruption in the Court of Appeals (CA) was also a justice of the appellate court.

Coalition of Filipino Consumers secretary-general Perfecto Tagalog said a CA justice was the one who told the group of the alleged corruption in the court.

''Ito ay galing mismo sa aktibong justice na kasama rin nila na nangangamba at nababahala dito sa kalakaran ng ating hudikatura,'' Tagalog told dzMM.

''Bago natin nilabas ito at bago tayo nanawagan, sinigurado muna nating meron tayong karampatang ebidensya na ma-file po before the Supreme Court."

Tagalog said the justice who was allegedly in the practice of receiving bribes in exchange for favorable rulings is actually different from the two justices earlier accused by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV of receiving bribe from the camp of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.

READ MORE...
Trillanes earlier alleged that lawyer Pancho Villaraza facilitated the transaction to pay off Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta in exchange for issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Makati Mayor Binay's suspension.

For the TRO, Trillanes said the judges received P20 million each, citing "reliable sources." He said they then got P5 million each for issuing a writ of permanent injunction.

The CA justices have denied the accusation, calling it harassment.

Trillanes has not yet produced any evidence to back up his claim. He has likewise not yet named his source.

According to Tagalog, the group has already called the attention of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno regarding the alleged corruption in the judiciary.

He said the group is now preparing to file a complaint against the justice, noting that the high court has declared that it has sole jurisdiction over erring judges.


TRIBUNE

Senate can invite but not compel CA justices — Drilon Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 20 April 2015 00:00


Senate President and Liberal Party Chairman Franklin Drilon

The Senate cannot compel Court of Appeals (CA) justices accused of bribery by Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV to appear before a planned investigation on alleged corruption in the Judiciary.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III indicated the holding of the probe which will be a spin off from the marathon inquiry into alleged irregularities involving Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family in proceedings of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that many branded as an inqusition.

While the Senate may investigate the alleged “justice for sale,” the chamber cannot coerce the two CA justices purported to have received bribe money, in the amount of P25 million each, from the Binay camp, to appear before them and defend themselves.

Senate President Franklin Drilon underscored this fact, supported by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who is also a lawyer like Drilon.

Both asserted the right of the Senate or any of its permanent committees in conducting investigations of matters of public interest and in aid of legislation.

Drilon said the Senate will respect the inter-departmental courtesy and separation of powers if ever the chamber will push through with the investigation on the “justice for sale” allegation.

”We can send the invitation but we cannot use our coercive or subpoena powers to force the justices to face the Senate. We cannot compel them,” Drilon said.

Drilon said even if the Senate finds evidence that some justices have accepted money to favor the cases of some influential individuals, “only the Supreme Court (SC) can discipline them based on our Constitution.”

READ MORE...
”It means that only them (SC) has the authority to recommend on what do if the justices have been proven to have shortcomings,” Drilon said.

Drilon also clarified that the Senate investigation will not only focus on the justices involved as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV identified in his Senate Resolution No. 1265 but members of the judiciary “in general.”

”Not only on the particular two justices named by Senator Trillanes but on many allegations we have heard in the judiciary,” Drilon said.

”It is best to ferret out if these allegations (of corruption) are true or not and what changes we can do in the judiciary so that we can avoid if not totally eliminate these so-called corruption,” he added.

Drilon clarified that the Senate is giving utmost respect for the members of the judiciary, “but it does not mean that they are above the law.”

Citing reliable sources, Trillanes has accused Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta of receiving a total of P25 million each to stop the suspension of Makati City Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.

Trillanes, however, waffled when asked the source of the information that he obtained saying that he can’t say more about his allegations at the moment.

Mayor Binay has been slapped with a six-month preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman on corruption charges in connection with the alleged overpriced construction of certain public buildings in Makati which the CA stopped through an injunction order.

Escudero agreed with Drilon that the Senate should investigate the allegation of corruption in the judiciary.

”Definitely, the corruption in the judiciary is worth looking on,” Escudero said.

The CA issued a writ of permanent injunction when the Ombudsman and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) refused to recognize the temporary restraining order (TRO) the court earlier issued.

Being lawyers by profession, both Escudero and Drilon are considered “officers of court”, said that they have to be prudent in dealing with matters concerning alleged wrongdoings of CA justices prudence.

Both Drilon and Escudero said Trillanes’ accusations on the two CA justices should be backed up with evidence.

“Many are eagerly waiting for the evidence against the accused magistrates. If there is proof that would be hard to disregard but if none it would be very hard for the accuser to talk about the matter,” Escudero said.

The application of the principle of the separation of powers of the legislature and the judiciary, in this case, will come in if Senate probers will insist on having the accused CA justices attend the called investigation.

Drilon supported the contention on the need to look into the issue, considering that even the judiciary has not been spared by charges of corruption.

“Any allegation of corruption is within the jurisdiction of the Blue Ribbon,” he said.

This early, Drilon dismissed the idea of Trillanes being slapped by libel or contempt by those whom he had accused of being involved in the alleged corruption in the judiciary.

“He has immunity from suit and that is part of our job as Senators. He cannot be questioned in any other place except the Senate,” Drilon said.


PHILSTAR

3 more SC justices inhibit from Binay suspension case By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated April 21, 2015 - 3:42pm


Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te announced the inhibition of three more associate justices from Junjun Binay suspension case. CBCPNews

MANILA, Philppines – Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te on Tuesday announced the inhibition of three associate justices from the case of the Court of Appeals' temporary restraining order on the Ombudsman's suspension order against Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay.

Te said Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Arturo D. Brion, and Francis H Jardeleza inhibited from the case. Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta had earlier inhibited himself from participating in the case and did not sit during the first session of the oral arguments in the Binay case.

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Te did not disclose the reason behind inhibition of the three justices but said they voluntarily inhibited.


COURTESY OF GMA NEWS ONLINE

“For those who interpellated, the interpellations are there. It just means that they will not vote because they have inhibited. It is in the records,” Te explained when asked what will happen with the previous interpellations.

The oral arguments in the Binay case resumed in Supreme Court, Baguio City with only 11 associate justices. The court will hear the arguments of the respondents, Ombudsman and Mayor Binay.

LIVE STREAM: Supreme Court hears arguments on Junjun Binay suspension


TRIBUNE

LP exec found guilty of graft as ruling party gears up for 2016 polls Written by Angie M. Rosales Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00


Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr, --Umali is currently the treasurer of the LP

While Liberal Party officials stressed they are committed to advance the party’s “tuwid na daan” or straight path political ideology and principles which they are again using to boost LP’s chances in the 2016 presidential elections, with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as the Liberal’s “presumptive candidate,” an active and a former official of the LP was found guilty of graft in connection with the anomalous grant of P2.5 million loan to a private person two decades ago.

In a 37-page resolution signed by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division found incumbent Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. and former Gov. Rodolfo Valencia of the same province “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of violating Section 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

They were sentenced by the anti-graft court to six to 10-years’ imprisonment.

Both officials were also penalized with the loss of retirement and gratuity benefits, and perpetual disqualification from public office.

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Umali is currently the treasurer of the LP while Valencia was a member of the ruling party when he finished his term in 2013.

The case involved a P2.5-million loan contract awarded to engineer Alfredo Atienza in 1994 for the repair, operations, and maintenance of a private vessel during Valencia and Umali’ term as governor and provincial administrator, respectively.

The anti-graft court essentially reaffirmed its 2008 decision convicting them of graft after the case was reopened for another trial in 2009.

Relatedly, the ruling party is eyeing to drum up public support and awareness on Roxas, Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday said.

“(The) LP as a party has its support for Roxas,” the upper chamber chief added.

“The continuous explanation of the need for the next administration who will continue the reform process that has begun and has been implemented on many aspects, the continuity of the policies of good governance is critical to the Liberal Party, and we will emphasize this in explaining to our people why Secretary Mar (Roxas) should be the next president,” Drilon further said when asked by reporters on their plans to improve the current standing in mock polls of the Interior secretary.

Although President Aquino has yet to make any pronouncements on who he will endorse as the administration’s presidential bet, Drilon, over the weekend, stated that Roxas remains as their top contender and their party is not looking for any “alternative” candidate for the 2016 national elections.


TRIBUNE COMMENTARY

In aid of destructive politics Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

No one is saying that the justices are above the law and cannot be investigated, but certainly, it is not the Senate that has to investigate the justices, since such probes belong to the province and realm of the Supreme Court, just as it is the Senate solely that has the power and authority to investigate and punish its senators.

But Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday announced that senators will investigate allegations of corruption in the judiciary because the chamber has the power to do so.

Any allegation of corruption, according to Drilon, falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate committee on accountability of public officers and investigations (blue ribbon). He added that the panel’s authority to look into wrongdoings also covers the judiciary.

This is claimed to be all in aid of legislation. But does the Senate ever come up with such legislations based on whatever it has destructively conducted by way of probes?

Certainly, no legislation has been done in the case of the hearings against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Drilon is not quite telling the real reason the Senate wants to investigate the two justices on the allegations of their having been bribed with P25 million and by Vice President Binay for his son, the Makati Mayor, Junjun, to be granted first a temporary restraining order and second, a preliminary injunction.

The real reason for the investigation is to continue destroying the VP, as the issue is really all about politics.

It is common knowledge that the Liberal Party will have, or already has, a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections.

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It has already been announced that the LP presidential bet is Mar Roxas and at this time, Mar has been scoring fairly low in pre-election surveys.

The only way the LPs see Mar having a chance at victory is to destroy the VP’s reputation, portraying him as a corrupt politician, while painting Mar and the LPs as angels treading the straight path, which everyone knows has been and is, a crooked path.

But hey, the LP treasurer has just been convicted of graft.

Politics too, is the very reason the Ombudsman, a puppet of the Palace and the LPs, suspended for six months the Makati Mayor on the pretext of investigating him, when it is clear to most that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is going to charge the Makati Mayor with graft or even plunder, even without any evidence with which to substantiate the charges, just as she had done with the other political foes of the administration and the LP.

It is fact that the Ombudsman, who can investigate motu propio, could have investigated and charged all the other senators and representatives who have been named in the Commission on Audit report on their pork barrel, yet it is only the three opposition senators who have been charged by the Ombudsman before the court.

To this day, none of the administration and LP’s staunch allies has been investigated, suspended or charged.

There are only three senators who stand accused of having diverted their pork barrel to bogus NGOs?

If the Ombudsman is truly serious about charging alleged corrupt politicians and is truly independent and not playing politics, why isn’s she moving against the others who are allied with the administration?

The problem with the Senate investigating the so-called justice for sale, is that not only the reputations of the two appellate justices are being ruined by the Trillanes-Cayetano-Pimentel inquisitors, but also the reputation of the judiciary, the appellate court, in particular.

Yet the two justices have never been stained by corruption, nor has there been any allegation of bribery prior to this destructive Senate probes. But the three senators, plus Drilon, don’t care that reputations are destroyed, and even institutions as long as their destructive probes serve their political purposes.

That the probe on the so-called justice for sale is all about politics can be easily gleaned from the fact that — despite the Senate having no coercive power to summon the justices to the Senate for an investigation, and there being no credible witness to claim that the two justices took the bribe — there is no evidence to point to the VP having paid off the justices.

Even now, with the ongoing yellow ribbon subcommittee hearings, these three attack dogs of the LP and Noynoy have, as their witnesses who admit having no evidence, the same resource persons.

The Senate under Drilon, and with such three senators who have no ethics, is being seriously damaged and by them.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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