PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

[BBL IS NOW BEING CALLED BL-BAR]

MARCOS: BBL, IN ITS PRESENT FORM, WILL LEAD PH TO PERDITION
[Marcos said that the BBL “in its present form and substance will not bring us any closer to peace” but “lead us to armed conflict.” He said that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process “totally ignored” some of the major stakeholders in their negotiations for peace, including the Moro National Liberation Front, the Sultanate of Sulu, the lumad, indigenous people, Christians and local government units.]


JUNE 4 ---Bongbong Marcos - Governors of South Cotabato, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur and Davao del Sur provinces currently outside the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) told a Senate hearing Wednesday they did not want to join the proposed Bangsamoro substate. Davao del Sur Gov. Claude Bautista protested that the authorities in the provinces proposed to be included in the Bangsamoro entity had not even been consulted. “We request that in order to pursue a lasting peace in Mindanao, the wish of those who do not want to join the proposed arrangement should be respected,” Bautista said in his remarks to the committee on local governments headed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. conducting the hearing. Bautista’s sentiment echoed those stated during the hearing by Governors Daisy Avance-Fuentes of South Cotabato, Jose Alvarez of Palawan and Antonio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur. Substitute bill After the five-hour hearing, Marcos stood on the floor and declared he could not support “in its present form” the Malacañang-sponsored Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). READ MORE...

ALSO: Drilon backs Marcos in axing Moro Law


JUNE 4 ---DRILON 
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday found an ally in no less than Senate President Franklin Drilon, who said he agrees with the opposition senator that the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has to conform with the Constitution. Drilon, also chaiman of the administration-backed Liberal Party, said the Senate has consistently been saying that it would review the proposed law and make sure it is within the four corners of the 1987 Constitution. “This is something that all senators agree on. So, we will debate on the substitute bill when it is submitted to the chamber and we have many common grounds, One, it should pass the constitutional test; two, it should result in peace in Mindanao; and three, that national interest should be served,” he told reporters in a forum. Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government that reviewed the draft BBL, in a privilege speech on Wednesday said the BBL in its present form and substance would not bring the country any closer to peace and instead would lead to armed conflict. One of the reasons is failure of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to conduct substantive consultations with other stakeholders in Mindanao, among them, Moro National Liberation Front, Sultanate of Sulu, indigenous peoples, local government units and businesses on the BBL. READ MORE...

ALSO: Belmonte orders BBL payola probe
Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party and a close ally of President Benigno Aquino III, took up the cudgels for Repizo and Mangotara, who were accused of cutting a deal with Wang to raise funds for the party and the BBL.]


JUNE 4 ---Clearing the air. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., seen in this file photo, has called for the start an investigation into allegations of payoffs made by a suspected Chinese crime lord to ease the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. LINO SANTOS
HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is spearheading the probe on allegations that lawmakers were bribed into supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with funds from a suspected Chinese crime lord, Wang Bo, who was ordered released by immigration officials.
Belmonte authored and filed House Resolution 2151, with House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II and House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora as co-authors. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent minority bloc in the House, is being eyed to head the special probe team that will dig deeper into the case. “I myself filed a resolution to investigate the Bureau of Immigration on the allegations, Belmonte said. “We want to get to the bottom of it.” But Belmonte said the Wang Bo incident had “absolutely nothing to do with the House of Representatives” as he denied that any money was offered to win votes for the BBL. The probe was prompted by reports in The Standard that Immigration officials had cut a deal with Wang in exchange for electoral campaign funds of the Liberals and for the swift passage of the BBL. Belmonte noted that Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Deputy Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara were already pointing fingers, instead of issuing a common denial. The decision to pursue the probe was arrived at during a lunch meeting between Belmonte and Zamora with some minority members at Zamora’s office Wednesday. Shortly after the meeting, the resolution was filed. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Silent protest’ may sink BBL in House
[Some lawmakers said they found it a low blow for the Palace to use their pending cases with the Ombudsman to force them to vote in favor of the BBL.]


JUNE 6 ---LAWMAKERS angered by the pressure being applied by the Palace mounted a tenacious effort Friday to block the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), ensuring that the bill certified as urgent by President Benigno Aquino III was dead in the water.
A silent protest against the draft law has also begun, in an obvious effort to scuttle the controversial draft law in the House. In the plenary session Friday, 33 congressmen—20 of whom were from the majority—rose to question provisions of the BBL and also challenged the lack of a quorum, prompting House leaders to declare they would miss the Palace-imposed June 11 deadline for the bill’s passage. House insiders said the lawmakers were appalled that the Palace would use the threat of lawsuits against them and their relatives in local government units to speed up the passage of the bill, which is the lynchpin in the administration’s peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said at least 20 of the 33 congressmen who stood up to question the BBL belonged to the majority. House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II confirmed that most on the list were allies of the President. The “collective, silent protest” became evident as lawmakers showed up to have their attendance checked to establish a quorum. But while they were in the House premises, the number of lawmakers in the session hall would dwindle to fewer than 40, giving the opposition lawmakers led by Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza room to immediately question the quorum. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy willing to study Cha-cha proposal; But not for lifting of term limits


JUNE 7 ---Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno leads the launch of the ‘Bagong Sistema, Bagong Pag-Asa’ Movement at the San Andres Sports Complex ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO 
Even as his allies have switched to high gear in efforts to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, President Aquino said he is still studying the matter and made clear he will never entertain any Charter change aimed at lifting the term limits for politicians. In a meeting with the Japan National Press Club Friday before his return to Manila, Aquino ruled out running again for public office after the end of his term next year but said he is open to the idea of allowing another term for the president, but not on a consecutive basis. “So I ask that we not consider re-opening the Constitution for term limits. The present joint resolution being worked through by Congress and the Senate deals with economic provisions, and I have yet to see the contents of the same to see if I can join them in their proposal,” Aquino told reporters. The President was in Japan for a state visit that began on Tuesday. “Now, (with regard to) changes in the Constitution to allow for a further term: In our history, we had a period of Martial Law. We had Mr. (Ferdinand) Marcos who first got elected in 1965. “He was authorized to have two terms that would have ended in 1973 and at the point in time when it was about to end, he imposed Martial Law wherein he proceeded to rule our country up to 1986 when he was ejected by the EDSA revolution,” the President said. READ MORE...

ALSO:  Noy's LP poised to beef up ‘election war chest’ with proposed P3-trillion 2016 nat'l budget


JUNE 6 ---AQUINO, ABAD  BUDGET Secretary Florencio B. Abad is buttressing the election war chest of Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Mar Roxas using the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016.
At a news briefing on Saturday, Partylist Rep. Terry L. Ridon of Kabataan warned that Abad and his cohorts at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will be allegedly fattening a number of congressmen, governors and mayors with grease from the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA), which Abad wants to increase to P3 trillion from the current P2.6-trillion. With P400 billion to play around with, President Aquino and the LP will create hundreds of new projects for vote-rich provinces and other local government units in the hope of winning votes for Roxas, whose political fortunes sagged when he was trounced by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay in the 2010 elections. The DBM disclosed earlier it wants a 15-percent increase in the national budget for 2016. “Expect the 2016 national budget to be loaded with infrastructure projects, lump sums for questionable programs, and various nefarious items all aimed at funding the 2016 election stint of the ruling party,” Ridon said. READ MORE...

ALSO PHILSTAR OPINION: Congress OK of BAR whether original or watered-down form crucial to Noy's defense in court
[Despite his solemn oath to “preserve and defend” the Constitution, the President agreed with the rebel band to amend the charter if it conflicts with provisions in the Bangsamoro basic law. In his hierarchy of values, the Bangsamoro is superior to the Constitution!]


JUNE 7 ---By Federico D. Pascual Jr 
CONGRESSIONAL approval of the basic law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) – whether in its original or watered down version – is crucial to the defense of President Noynoy Aquino against possible charges in court. There is likelihood that Mr. Aquino will be hauled into court for alleged high crimes, including treason, arising from the Bangsamoro deal that he had packaged for the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He has to plot his defense this early. Approval of the basic law for a parliamentary Bangsamoro (Moro nation) -- a constitutional anomaly and a political oddity in our presidential setup – will bolster his legal defense. If the BAR basic law’s constitutionality is questioned, the President could attempt to dilute and deflect the blame on him by pointing out that the creation of the Bangsamoro was an act of the Congress. In such a situation of crisis proportions, prosecuting President Aquino could raise the specter of his bringing down with him the entire government – an eventuality that could prompt the Supreme Court to proceed with caution about ruling against him. Whether this constitutional challenge before the High Court occurs before or after the May 2016 presidential elections, the damage to persons and institutions would be incalculable. This is how serious the problem is that President Aquino has brought upon the nation by embarking, without regard for law, protocol and prior consultation, on this misadventure of carving out a nascent Islamic state from the heartland of Mindanao. MILF set to return to rebellion mode RESUMPTION of hostilities is expected if the BAR basic law is not approved to serve as the Constitution of the Bangsamoro replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Marcos: BBL, in its present form, will lead Ph to perdition


Bongbong Marcos 

MANILA, JUNE 8, 2015 (INQUIRER) Christine O. Avendaño @inquirerdotnet June 4th, 2015 - Governors of South Cotabato, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur and Davao del Sur provinces currently outside the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) told a Senate hearing Wednesday they did not want to join the proposed Bangsamoro substate.

Davao del Sur Gov. Claude Bautista protested that the authorities in the provinces proposed to be included in the Bangsamoro entity had not even been consulted.

“We request that in order to pursue a lasting peace in Mindanao, the wish of those who do not want to join the proposed arrangement should be respected,” Bautista said in his remarks to the committee on local governments headed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. conducting the hearing.

Bautista’s sentiment echoed those stated during the hearing by Governors Daisy Avance-Fuentes of South Cotabato, Jose Alvarez of Palawan and Antonio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur.

Substitute bill

After the five-hour hearing, Marcos stood on the floor and declared he could not support “in its present form” the Malacañang-sponsored Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

READ MORE...
“I have prepared a substitute measure that would be good for all,” said Marcos, chair of the Senate local government committee holding hearings on the proposed charter of the proposed Bangsamoro entity that would replace the ARMM.

Marcos said that the BBL “in its present form and substance will not bring us any closer to peace” but “lead us to perdition.”

He said that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process “totally ignored” some of the major stakeholders in their negotiations for peace, including the Moro National Liberation Front, the Sultanate of Sulu, the lumad, indigenous people, Christians and local government units.

Marcos later told reporters he would complete his committee report after a final hearing on the measure. Marcos said he would complete a committee report on the hearings after conducting one more BBL hearing.

He said his proposed alternative arrangement would be a “product of what we have learned in the hearings.”

Unconstitutional

The senator said his substitute bill would include the findings of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s committee on constitutional amendments that certain provisions in the draft BBL were unconstitutional.

Marcos said that among others, the controversial “opt-in” provision that would expand the proposed Bangsamoro territory should be removed.

“I am confident that the committee report and the substitute bill will be completed during the recess period,” Marcos said, adding that he intended to give copies to all senators of the draft committee report and the substitute bill so that “we can hit the ground running” when Congress returns in July.

Marcos’ announcement of coming up with a substitute bill for BBL came just a week before Congress adjourns its session on June 11.

His announcement also meant that the Senate would not meet Malacañang’s June 11 target for the approval by Congress of the BBL in time for the election of the Bangsamoro parliament next year.

Cerilles said he was for peace but his province did not want to join the Bangsamoro region. Saying that his province was giving a “resounding no,” Alvarez said his constituents did not want to join as well. Fuentes objected to the province’s inclusion in the new region.

No consultations

“The framework of the BBL doesn’t even give us leeway to be consulted whether we want to be included in the BBL,” Bautista said.

Bautista also said he knew that Davao Occidental also did not want to be included in the core territory, something which Marcos confirmed was the sentiment given to him by Davao Occidental officials worried about the “opt-in” provision.

Expressing reservations on the draft BBL was the province of Tawi-Tawi while Isabela City in Basilan province said it did not want the BBL.

Also at the hearing, ARMM officials expressed support for the proposed BBL but some of them also raised some concerns on BBL provisions and made suggestions to improve the new political entity so there would be no repeat of the errors of the ARMM which the Palace had declared earlier to be a “failed experiment.”

ARMM Gov. Mujib Hataman, who took over the regional government in 2011, said that ARMM under the Aquino administration was better off now. He said that GDP increased to 3.6 percent from a negative .3 percent in 2011.

Investments in the ARMM also grew from P550 million in 2011 to P6 billion last year, according to Hataman. Investments have returned in the ARMM since the conflict stopped under the peace agreement with the MILF, he said.


MANILA TIMES

Drilon backs Marcos in axing Moro Law June 4, 2015 11:53 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA REPORTER AND JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER


DRILON

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday found an ally in no less than Senate President Franklin Drilon, who said he agrees with the opposition senator that the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has to conform with the Constitution.

Drilon, also chaiman of the administration-backed Liberal Party, said the Senate has consistently been saying that it would review the proposed law and make sure it is within the four corners of the 1987 Constitution.

“This is something that all senators agree on. So, we will debate on the substitute bill when it is submitted to the chamber and we have many common grounds, One, it should pass the constitutional test; two, it should result in peace in Mindanao; and three, that national interest should be served,” he told reporters in a forum.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government that reviewed the draft BBL, in a privilege speech on Wednesday said the BBL in its present form and substance would not bring the country any closer to peace and instead would lead to armed conflict.

One of the reasons is failure of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to conduct substantive consultations with other stakeholders in Mindanao, among them, Moro National Liberation Front, Sultanate of Sulu, indigenous peoples, local government units and businesses on the BBL.

READ MORE...
Marcos said he cannot support the BBL in its present form and that is why he is preparing a substitute bill that would be for the good of everyone.

Drilon, when asked about the substitute bill, said it is the prerogative of the Marcos committee to come up with its version of the bill based on hearings it conducted.

He added that it is called a substitute bill because it does not refer to Section 1 of the BBL as submitted by Malacañang.

“So, maybe, he [Marcos], instead of going through an amendment of the measure, thinks that it is more convenient [for him] to present for debate a substitute bill,” Drilon explained

“I don’t think the statement of Senator Marcos should cause much concern,” he said.

According to the Senate President, the position of the senators from the very start is that they will examine closely the draft law and debate on it.

He noted that the Senate is a collegial body and no one can dictate on it.

Substitute bill

Marcos, in a statement, said the substitute bill to the draft BBL would address the serious security concerns raised by the Association of General and Flag Officers (AGFO) led by retired Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan in the last committee hearing.

AGFO, in a position paper it submitted to the committee, noted that the draft BBL “contains provisions which can create more problems that it can solve” but lacking in provisions that would ensure its workability.

The group wants the BBL to include a provision explicitly stating that the Bangsamoro or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) renounces forever its avowed separatist policy and goal of independence and pledges to remain under or be a part of the Republic of the Philippines.

AGFO is also pushing for the deletion of the provision allowing the creation of the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) Bangsamoro Command and the Bangsamoro Police.

“Instead the ARMM Regional Police [at present] should be reconstituted to become the Bangsamoro Region Police Office under the Philippine National Police,” the group said.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should be carried out in a process that has definite timelines and that all provisions on redeployment of armed forces should be omitted or repealed.

“We intend to incorporate in the substitute bill the inputs of our retired generals. Many of them have a wealth of personal knowledge and experience as veterans in the war against insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao,” Marcos said.

Palace turns to allies

Malacañang also on Thursday said it remains confident that the proposed BBL will pass through the Senate, albeit roughly, with the help of administration allies in the chamber.

“We will leave it with our allies in the Senate to do what is proper. We believe that the [BBL] as drafted is the best course of action,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda told a news briefing, in reaction to Marcos junking the government’s version of the BBL which, the lawmaker said, will only “lead to perdition.”

“Certainly, we have some disagreements with [Marcos] on the BBL, but we believe that the BBL, as drafted and as reviewed by our office and as well as by the (Bangsamoro Transition) Commission, would stand scrutiny,” Lacierda said.

“It has already passed through the House. So we hope that the Senate will be able to come up with a BBL that will be acceptable to all stakeholders,” he added.

According to Lacierda, President Benigno Aquino 3rd may have already been informed about Marcos’ rejection of the BBL.

He said they have not seen whatever draft substitute bill Marcos has in mind but a meeting with their allies would be scheduled to discuss the matter “as to the best course of action.”

Lacierda expressed hope that their allies in the Senate can help the government hurdle snags in the Marcos committee.

Why blame BBL? Muslim lawmakers also on Thursday assailed Marcos for raising the armed conflict card in junking the proposed BBL.

“He is missing the point. The armed conflict has been going on for almost 50 years now since the time of his father [President Ferdinand Marcos]. The proposed Bangsamoro law’s very purpose is to address the cause of this armed conflict to give it an end,” Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Sitti Hataman Sitti said..

“The armed conflict is already there. And the President [Benigno Aquino 3rd] is looking for alternative because otherwise, armed conflict will always be there. The armed conflict in Mindanao started during the time of then-President Marcos, and we had been trying to initiate things that can resolve this problem,” Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman said.

The Hatamans were also baffled with Marcos’ criticism of the Bangsamoro Parliament’s exclusive powers.

“These powers, although exercised primarily by the Bangsamoro, will be without prejudice to the powers and jurisdiction of the State,” Sitti said.

“These peace initiatives, including the exclusive powers in an autonomy, started 17 said. WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI


MANILA STANDARD

Belmonte orders BBL payola probe By Christine F. Herrera | Jun. 04, 2015 at 12:01am


Clearing the air. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., seen in this file photo, has called for the start an investigation into allegations of payoffs made by a suspected Chinese crime lord to ease the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. LINO SANTOS

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is spearheading the probe on allegations that lawmakers were bribed into supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with funds from a suspected Chinese crime lord, Wang Bo, who was ordered released by immigration officials.

Belmonte authored and filed House Resolution 2151, with House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II and House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora as co-authors.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent minority bloc in the House, is being eyed to head the special probe team that will dig deeper into the case.

“I myself filed a resolution to investigate the Bureau of Immigration on the allegations, Belmonte said. “We want to get to the bottom of it.”

But Belmonte said the Wang Bo incident had “absolutely nothing to do with the House of Representatives” as he denied that any money was offered to win votes for the BBL.

The probe was prompted by reports in The Standard that Immigration officials had cut a deal with Wang in exchange for electoral campaign funds of the Liberals and for the swift passage of the BBL.

Belmonte noted that Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Deputy Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara were already pointing fingers, instead of issuing a common denial.

The decision to pursue the probe was arrived at during a lunch meeting between Belmonte and Zamora with some minority members at Zamora’s office Wednesday.

Shortly after the meeting, the resolution was filed.

READ MORE...
The resolution orders the House committee on good government and public accountability to conduct an inquiry into the alleged “bribery and corruption activities involving Chinese national Wang Bo.”

“The Manila Standard Today published a series of articles alleging that officials of the Bureau of Immigration reversed a deportation order issued against Wang Bo, a Chinese national wanted by both Interpol and the Chinese government,” the House leaders’ resolution said.

“Wang Bo was apprehended by the Bureau of Immigration for arriving in the country with a cancelled passport, and for being in the Bureau of Immigration blacklist order,” the leaders said.

“Despite the request for deportation by the Chinese government due to an outstanding arrest warrant against Wang Bo for suspected illegal gambling activities, the Bureau of Immigration subsequently issued an order releasing Wang Bo from Bureau of Immigration custody,” the resolution said.

“While the release of Wang Bo was aborted after a strong statement from the Embassy of China in the Philippines that he is an undesirable and undocumented alien who poses a risk to the national interest, the articles likewise alleged that the order to release Wang Bo was due to the intervention of certain Bureau of Immigration Commissioners, allegedly in exchange for funds to be used for the approval of the pending Bangsamoro Basic Law;

“The articles alleged that the funds raised from Wang Bo was delivered to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and used by the Liberal Party to influence the outcome of the Committee hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law;

“These unproven and baseless allegations have raised serious questions on the integrity of the immigration and deportation processes and procedures in the country and have cast doubt on the integrity of the House of Representatives as an institution;

“It is imperative that the House of Representatives investigate these allegations in order to protect its honor and integrity as a law-making body,” the resolution concluded.

Leaders of the ruling Liberal Party prominently figured in the controversy.

Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party and a close ally of President Benigno Aquino III, took up the cudgels for Repizo and Mangotara, who were accused of cutting a deal with Wang to raise funds for the party and the BBL.


ROMUALDEZ,  ZAMORA,  GONZALES

Repizo and Mangotara are both members of the Liberal Party.

Umali admitted the two officials are close to him and that it was he who recommended Repizo to be appointed to his post.

Umali said Repizo and Mangotara were innocent, and that it was Mison instead who made a deal with Wang, and tried to pin it on his two deputy commissioners when it was discovered.

Mison told The Standard he was willing to face any investigation.

“I will reveal the truth that it was the Chinese Embassy officials who officially relayed to me that Deputy Commissioner Repizo and other Immigration officials, met with a representative of Wang and after that meeting, they pushed for the issuance of a release order,” Mison said.

But Umali insisted it was Mison who made the deal.

Umali said he had already submitted a 10-page report to the President to expose Mison’s illegal activities and the truth behind the BBL payola deal.

Mison also submitted a confidential report to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, proving it was Repizo who pushed for the reversal of the March 5 deportation order against Wang.

Based on a transcript of the May 26 meeting of the board of commissioners, Repizo refused to agree with Mison to reverse the May 21 release order.

“The decision of the Board of Commissioners, if I may add, is not purely legal. It also borders on political…,” Repizo said in the meeting.

“On a larger context, although this has no bearing to the issue at hand, they (China) even conveniently ignored countless provisions or issues on our border in the South China Sea,” Repizo said.

“All I’m asking is a little respect for our processes,” Repizo said, insisting that the Chinese Embassy was late in submitting authenticated papers on Wang ,such as the warrant of arrest and the criminal charges slapped on him.

Repizo, who wrote the May 21 release order, also dared those who would questioned his position to raise the issue to De Lima and even up to the Office of the President for reversal.

“This is also something that involves our discretion. If they have questions on that discretion on whatever would be the collective vote today, they can raise this to the Secretary of Justice or they can raise it to the Office of the President, and let the rationalization be scrutinized and studied and if warranted by higher authorities, be reversed,” Repizo said.

“We welcome any reversal from a higher authority, but on this particular situation, Mr. Chair, I am the ponente of this proposal to which earlier we both agreed. I am the one who put my thoughts on how the Chinese authorities have over-extended their authorities,” Repizo said.

Repizo stood by his position that Wang was not a fugitive, that he was not an undocumented alien and that he was a legitimate businessman operating Skybet, a casino in Manila.

Mison said Repizo misled the board by saying that Wang’s operation was based in Manila and so he should be prosecuted in Manila.

Mison said Wang was also wanted for money laundering because the proceeds of his crime in China were being brought to Manila for similar operations.

Romualdez said the reputations of lawmakers would be questioned if they didn’t look into the Wang case immediately.

He added that the integrity of the House of Representatives was at stake.

The House opposition leader also said the supposed circumstances behind the Wang case were too detailed to ignore.

“As representatives of the people, it’s the duty of the House to come out with the truth,” he said. – With Maricel V. Cruz


PHILSTAR OPINION

Congress OK of BAR (BBL) crucial to Noy defense POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 7, 2015 - 12:00am


By Federico D. Pascual Jr

CONGRESSIONAL approval of the basic law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) – whether in its original or watered down version – is crucial to the defense of President Noynoy Aquino against possible charges in court.

There is likelihood that Mr. Aquino will be hauled into court for alleged high crimes, including treason, arising from the Bangsamoro deal that he had packaged for the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He has to plot his defense this early.

Approval of the basic law for a parliamentary Bangsamoro (Moro nation) -- a constitutional anomaly and a political oddity in our presidential setup – will bolster his legal defense.

If the BAR basic law’s constitutionality is questioned, the President could attempt to dilute and deflect the blame on him by pointing out that the creation of the Bangsamoro was an act of the Congress.

In such a situation of crisis proportions, prosecuting President Aquino could raise the specter of his bringing down with him the entire government – an eventuality that could prompt the Supreme Court to proceed with caution about ruling against him.

Whether this constitutional challenge before the High Court occurs before or after the May 2016 presidential elections, the damage to persons and institutions would be incalculable.

This is how serious the problem is that President Aquino has brought upon the nation by embarking, without regard for law, protocol and prior consultation, on this misadventure of carving out a nascent Islamic state from the heartland of Mindanao.

MILF set to return to rebellion mode

RESUMPTION of hostilities is expected if the BAR basic law is not approved to serve as the Constitution of the Bangsamoro replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

READ MORE...
But whether it is approved after substantial revision or just left to hang unapproved by the Senate, the Palace attempt at appeasement disguised as a search for peace is likely to trigger more strife in Mindanao.

President Aquino and the rest of officialdom could not have missed MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal warning that if the BAR basic law is not approved as originally drafted, his group (estimated by the military as 7,000-strong) would go back to its revolutionary campaign.

Its war-readiness must be one of the reasons why the MILF has refused to lay down the bulk of its weapons. It appears that the rebels cannot trust the Palace panel across the negotiating table misrepresenting itself as the “GRP” (Government of the Republic of the Philippines).

The public watching the Senate inquiry into the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre of elite PNP Special Action Force commandos still remember Iqbal serving notice that:

• Weapons of fallen combatants are bounties of war – meaning there was no need for MILF fighters to return the guns and battle gear they stole from the 44 SAF casualties.

• If any dispute arises regarding the conduct of MILF and SAF combatants, such “acts of war” (between states!) should be raised before the International Court of Justice or World Court, and not before domestic or Philippine courts.

Their talking directly with the “GRP” has gotten into the rebels’ heads. They have started to think of themselves as a co-equal state, their ultimate goal.

How would President Aquino now coax the MILF not only to return the SAF weapons but to also present for investigation their fighters who participated in the Mamasapano carnage?

But the President would find non-passage of the Bangsamoro bill easier to handle. Most likely, no Bangsamoro law, no charges in court against him. As for the MILF getting mad for his failure to deliver, Mr. Aquino can always tell them: “Don’t look at me. I tried!”

How many reasons for Rodriguez flip?

THAT POINT about securing justice for the SAF-44 should also be addressed to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez whose seeming resolve had impressed the public monitoring the inquiry of his ad hoc committee on the BAR basic law.

He vowed that the House would not vote on the BAR bill unless the MILF surrendered its men responsible for the SAF massacre. “That’s really the deal breaker if they will not cooperate to achieve justice,” he said last March.

Rodriguez also declared that the bill would not pass without the deletion of eight provisions that he said were unconstitutional and another one that would make possible creeping inclusion of areas contiguous to the ARMM region.

In hindsight, the congressman looked like he was raising the ante for what he and his cohorts wanted to do. After two meetings with President Aquino for some haggling, he and his committee retained the sections he had vowed to remove.

Details of the meetings were kept from the public. Until now, people have been guessing how many million reasons were given to convince the Rodriguez troupe that the Bangsamoro law was the only key to peace in Mindanao.

Mabuti na lang there is the Senate, where more principled lawmakers have been holding the line. The committee headed by Sen. Miriam Santiago reported that the Bangsamoro bill is constitutionally defective, that it will pass only if it is revised or the Constitution itself is amended.

There is also the committee chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who threatened to totally amend the measure by replacing it with a new version that is more compliant with the Constitution.

Compare these remedial moves of the senators with that of President Aquino in the early stages of negotiations with the MILF.

Despite his solemn oath to “preserve and defend” the Constitution, the President agreed with the rebel band to amend the charter if it conflicts with provisions in the Bangsamoro basic law. In his hierarchy of values, the Bangsamoro is superior to the Constitution!


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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