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

PNoy: WE MAY NOT RECOVER IN 2022 IF WRONG PRESIDENT WINS IN 2016
["Di ko na ho kailangang sabihin sa inyo kung sino ang kandidatong papanigan ko. Ang boto ko, doon sa siguradong itutuloy ang Daang Matuwid," he added.]


SEPTEMBER 28 -President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech during the Independence Day celebration. Malacañang Photo Bureau
The Philippines may not recover in 2022 if the president who will not continue "Daang Matuwid" will win next year's polls, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday. Speaking at the national assembly of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, Aquino reminded community leaders that the country's achievements under his watch will be at risk if the administration's "Daang Matuwid"platform will be discontinued. "Idiin ko lang: Sa susunod na eleksiyon, di lang anim na taon ang nakataya, kundi ang mismong buhay at kinabukasan ng bawat Pilipino," Aquino said. "Kung lilihis nga po tayo sa tuwid at talagang subok sa 2016, walang nakakatiyak na makakabawi pa tayo pagdating ng 2022," he added. The President took the opportunity to urge the country's barangay leaders to support his preferred successor, presidential aspirant Manuel Roxas II. READ MORE...RELATED, Drilon said Leni Robredo is LP’s VP

ALSO:
President criticizes courts anew; PNoy claims judiciary delaying his projects
[SERENO COMMENTS BACK: "In every en banc session, we continue to debate on whether what we are doing is already legislation or still in the bounds of what we can do,” Sereno told reporters. She also assured the public that she and the 14 other SC magistrates are in constant discussion to ensure that the tribunal does not commit “judicial legislation." “Ultimately, it will redound to a question of what the final vote will be,” she said.]


OCTOBER 3 --AQUINO
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III took a swipe at the judiciary on Friday saying several courts had been delaying government infrastructure projects by refusing to issue a writ of possession so the government could proceed with those projects.
“In infrastructure projects there is a requirement of a deposit for the payment of taxes on land expropriated [by the government]. Once this has been made, the court should then immediately issue a Writ of Possession,” Aquino said. Aquino “Now, [Public Works] Secretary Babes Singson has reported to us that one of the reasons why there is a delay in the implementation of a number of [infrastructure] projects is that after [Public Works] has deposited the funds, the court still does not issue a Writ of Possession,” Aquino said. He made his statement even as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno responded to the concerns raised by Aquino over the high court’s “judicial legislation” in some cases.  She said the justices were aware of the limits in their power of judicial review.  “In every en banc [session] we continue to debate whether what we are doing is already legislation or still in the bounds of what we can do,” Sereno said. “But ultimately, it will redound to what the final vote will be. So it’s an evolving thing but we are mindful of the need to maintain that line.” Aquino made his statement in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Supreme Court complex in the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. He also criticized the alleged anomalies in the judiciary, where the one who “knows the judge” are the ones being favored in the decisions made by the court. “In the Introduction to Law, they say there are two kinds of lawyers: those who know the law and those who know the judge,” Aquino said. READ MORE...RELATED, Despite ‘surprising’ rulings, SC not overstepping its boundaries, Sereno assures PNoy...

ALSO: Thoughts on Extrajudicial Killings and Unexplained Disappearances


SEPTEMBER 29 -BY PHILIPPINE JUSTICE Mariano C. Del Castillo and by Presiding Justice Ruben T. Reyes Sadly, the Philippines in the eyes of the international community has a very poor human rights record due to its alarming incidence of extrajudicial killings and unexplained disappearances and abductions of private individuals without anyone being held accountable. And now, various sectors of the society are prodded to seek for viable solutions to address the poor human rights problems of the country. We sincerely believe that the root of the problem is not really much on the laws related to curbing and punishing human rights violators. Actually, it has always been the implementation of these laws. As part of the judicial institution whose power is drawn from the pen, we are here to present some issues to be mulled over. 1. There is a need for a clear-cut definition of what ‘extrajudicial killing’ is, for homicide and murder are ‘extrajudicial killings’ too. The name is a misnomer since every killing, outside of the death penalty, is extrajudicial. Shouldn’t the crime be called  ‘political killing’ instead? When will a case fall under ‘extrajudicial killings’ in order that the special court can assume jurisdiction? Thus, the motive must be determined during investigation. This is relevant in the light of the existence of special courts to handle such cases. A categorical definition would pinpoint who are to be held liable and who are the victims. An international NGO observed that such ‘extrajudicial killings’ in the Philippines show a common pattern: “Surveillance and threats to the victims presumptively by officers; Finding their names in an “Order of Battle” by military commanders; Victim has an affiliation with lawful activist or leftist movements and political parties (including labor, journalism, women, peasants, environmental and other sectors); Assassination (often in front of the families and friends) by hooded persons often driving motorbikes or unlicensed vehicles; Scant investigation; Witness intimidation and sometimes witness murder.”  READ MORE...

ALSO TIMELINE: Gerry Ortega murder case (UPDATED) After hiding for more than 3 years, the suspects – former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes – are apprehended in Thailand]


SEPTEMBER 23, -Joel Reyes, former Palawan governor, and younger sibling Mario, former Coron mayor, each carried a P2-Million reward. They are accused of masterminding the murder of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerardo Ortega four years ago. AP/Philstar File. On Monday, September 21, the government confirmed that the main suspects in the murder of broadcast journalist Gerry Ortega have been arrested in Thailand. Ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes and brother ex-Coron town mayor Mario Reyes were implicated in Ortega's murder in January 2011 in Puerto Princesa City. Ortega exposed corruption in Palawan and accused the former governor of misusing the Malampaya fund, sourced from operations of the Malampaya gas and oil fields off the coast of the province. Until their capture, the two were in hiding for over 3 years to evade arrest. Thai immigration authorities on Sunday, September 20, captured both men in Phuket for overstaying. The Gerry Ortega murder case has gone through long and winding legal predicaments. See the timeline below to look back at events since the slay. – Rappler.com Editor's Note: Since its publication, this timeline has been revised with additional inputs from Michaella Ortega, daughter of Gerry Ortega. READ ON .....RELATED, PHILIPPINES DOJ links ex-Palawan governor to Gerry Ortega murder... 

ALSO: PNoy’s hand seen in Lumad killings[‘Aquino authorized military to conduct anti-lumad campaign’]


SEPTEMBER 24 -Inspection. President Benigno Aquino III sits with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson after inspecting the refurbished Far North Luzon General Hospital and Training Center in Apayao. Malacañang Photo Bureau PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III authorized the Armed Forces to close down and occupy lumad schools in Mindanao and had a direct hand in the campaign of violence and harassment against the tribal communities, a leftist lawmaker charged Wednesday. “Malacañang can no longer feign ignorance, wash its hands, or pretend to conduct an investigation. The campaign against the lumad apparently has the sanction of the President,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio.Tinio said during deliberations on the 2016 national budget, Education Department officials in the Davao region admitted there was a plan to close down some 24 schools set up by the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center and replace them with schools run by soldiers. The plan, the officials added, was hatched during an April 23 meeting called by the Regional Intelligence Committee, which was convened by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency or Nica, the government’s lead intelligence collection agency operating under the Office of the President. “Nica officials report to the President and its director general is the President’s principal adviser on intelligence,” Tinio said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Govt nixes UN lumad probe
[“We could not accommodate the request of the UNSR this year,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Monday.]


SEPTEMBER 29 -THE government has turned down the request of the UN special rapporteurs to visit the country to look into reports of killings and human rights abuses against tribal communities or lumad in Mindanao.
“We could not accommodate the request of the UNSR this year,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Monday. The human rights group Karapatan had asked the UN special rapporteurs to investigate the killing of lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo and lumad teacher Emerito Samarca, but the UN envoys are not allowed to conduct an investigation without an invitation from the government. Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay appealed to the Aquino administration to allow the UN envoys to visit Mindanao so that they could see the real situation of the lumad there, but the administration said it would undertake its own “internal processes” before any international bodies can get involved. “It is best to leave the investigation to relevant authorities in the Philippines,” Jose said in an earlier text message. But Karapatan on Monday said a probe announced by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima would be “completely pointless” because she was running for the Senate in 2016. “She is leaving the Justice Department next month. The investigation will be useless,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chair of Karapatan and the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto. De Lima, who is expected to resign in a few weeks, earlier vowed to conduct a thorough and truthful investigation into the abuses against the lumad communities in Mindanao, taking into account the United Nations’ interest in the cases. “Somebody will be replacing her. Can we expect continuity? You know what kind of government we have. You have to shake them up before they would move,” Enriquez said. “Under a new leadership, we have to double our efforts. De Lima will be leaving her post with unfinished business since two weeks is not enough to dig deeper into the atrocities… and human rights violations committed on lumad and [their] advocates,” she added. Enriquez said that on Sept. 17, De Lima was supposed to meet with relatives of the slain lumad leader, Campos, but failed to keep the meeting because she had to go to the Palace to meet President Benigno Aquino III. “Who are we to compete with the schedule of the President?” Enriquez asked. READ MORE...RELATED, ‘Govt covering up lumad slays’ ...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

PNoy: We may not recover in 2022 if wrong president wins 2016


President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech during the Independence Day celebration. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, OCTOBER 5, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - The Philippines may not recover in 2022 if the president who will not continue "Daang Matuwid" will win next year's polls, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday.

Speaking at the national assembly of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, Aquino reminded community leaders that the country's achievements under his watch will be at risk if the administration's "Daang Matuwid" platform will be discontinued.

"Idiin ko lang: Sa susunod na eleksiyon, di lang anim na taon ang nakataya, kundi ang mismong buhay at kinabukasan ng bawat Pilipino," Aquino said.

"Kung lilihis nga po tayo sa tuwid at talagang subok sa 2016, walang nakakatiyak na makakabawi pa tayo pagdating ng 2022," he added.

Aquino took the opportunity to urge the country's barangay leaders to support his preferred successor, presidential aspirant Manuel Roxas II.

READ MORE...

He said community leaders should not be partisan politicians but they must back the one who will continue the administration's reforms.

"Ang akin po: Dapat tumulong kayo sa talakayan; himukin ninyo sa diskurso’t debate ang inyong mga kasamahan at tanungin: Sino nga ba ang nararapat na mamuno sa bansa pagdating ng taong 2016?" Aquino said.

"Di ko na ho kailangang sabihin sa inyo kung sino ang kandidatong papanigan ko. Ang boto ko, doon sa siguradong itutuloy ang Daang Matuwid," he added.

Last July, Aquino formally endorsed Roxas as the Liberal Party's standard bearer.

Roxas is expected to identify his running mate on Wednesday along with the members

--------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Drilon: Leni Robredo is LP’s VP By: Maila Ager @MAgerINQ
INQUIRER.net 09:25 AM September 30th, 2015


Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON FILE PHOTO


Senate President Franklin Drilon confirmed on Wednesday that Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo would be the running-mate of the administration’s bet in 2016.

Drilon made this confirmation when asked in an interview over ABS-CBN’s morning show, “Umagang Kay Ganda,” if Robredo would be the running-mate of former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

“Malamang. Sabihin na lang natin na si Congresswoman Leni na ang kandidato natin sa pagkabise-presidente,”the Senate leader said.

(Probably. Let’s just say that Congresswoman is already our candidate for vice president.)

He issued the statement ahead of the Liberal Party’s (LP) National Executive Council meeting this Wednesday morning where members would nominate their candidates for president and vice president as well as their senatorial line up.

Robredo also has yet to formally make the announcement amid persistent persuasion from the camp of Roxas and LP. She says she is considering heavily the opinion of her children with the late former Interior secretary Jesse Robredo.

“Si Secretary Mar Roxas ang aming inonominate bilang aming kandidato sa pagka-pangulo, at sa ngayon ay ‘yung mga senador, ay lagpas po sa 12. Medyo patuloy ang paguusap, may 15 sa aming listahan,” said Drilon, vice chairman of LP.

(We will nominate Secretary Mar Roxas as our candidate for president, and now we have more than 12 senators. Talks are ongoing because we have 15 in the list)

“Sabi ko nga, labis sa 12, kaya amin pang pinaguusapan (As I have said, we are considering more than 12, so we’re still talking),” Drilon added.

Roxas had already announced his presidential bid in 2016. Maila Ager/IDL


MANILA STANDARD

PNoy claims judiciary delaying his projects By Sandy Araneta, Rey E. Requejo | Oct. 03, 2015 at 12:01am


AQUINO

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III took a swipe at the judiciary on Friday saying several courts had been delaying government infrastructure projects by refusing to issue a writ of possession so the government could proceed with those projects.

“In infrastructure projects there is a requirement of a deposit for the payment of taxes on land expropriated [by the government]. Once this has been made, the court should then immediately issue a Writ of Possession,” Aquino said.

Aquino “Now, [Public Works] Secretary Babes Singson has reported to us that one of the reasons why there is a delay in the implementation of a number of [infrastructure] projects is that after [Public Works] has deposited the funds, the court still does not issue a Writ of Possession,” Aquino said.

He made his statement even as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno responded to the concerns raised by Aquino over the high court’s “judicial legislation” in some cases.

She said the justices were aware of the limits in their power of judicial review.

“In every en banc [session] we continue to debate whether what we are doing is already legislation or still in the bounds of what we can do,” Sereno said.

“But ultimately, it will redound to what the final vote will be. So it’s an evolving thing but we are mindful of the need to maintain that line.”

Aquino made his statement in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Supreme Court complex in the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

He also criticized the alleged anomalies in the judiciary, where the one who “knows the judge” are the ones being favored in the decisions made by the court.

“In the Introduction to Law, they say there are two kinds of lawyers: those who know the law and those who know the judge,” Aquino said.

READ MORE...

Aquino asked the high court to speed up the resolution of cases, citing relevant provisions in the Constitution mandating it to resolve cases within 24 months upon their submission for resolution.

He said the infrastructure projects were being delayed because the high court still required from Public Works a “determination of just compensation.”

“I bring this issue to you. I hope you will be able to issue a decision on issues such as this as soon as possible,” Aquino said.

“It is clear in the law that the government has the right to continue with the projects even though the case is still pending in the courts regarding payment.”

Aquino also reminded the justices that the law prohibits courts from issuing temporary restraining orders on infrastructure projects.

“Just look at the situation of one our expressways, where the project was delayed because the court failed to issue a writ of possession right away. I think delaying a project is just like issuing a TRO,” Aquino said.

-----------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM GMA NEWS

Despite ‘surprising’ rulings, SC not overstepping its boundaries, Sereno assures PNoy October 2, 2015 2:48pm Tags: marialourdessereno, judiciary By MARK MERUEÑAS, GMA News

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday assured President Benigno Aquino III that the Supreme Court remains “mindful” of its mandate, insisting that it is not overstepping on the functions of the executive and legislative branches of government.

"In every en banc session, we continue to debate on whether what we are doing is already legislation or still in the bounds of what we can do,” Sereno told reporters. “It’s an evolving thing but we are mindful of that need to maintain that line.”

She also assured the public that she and the 14 other SC magistrates are in constant discussion to ensure that the tribunal does not commit “judicial legislation."

“Ultimately, it will redound to a question of what the final vote will be,” she said.

Sereno was reacting to a portion of the President's speech on Friday in which he took an apparent swipe against recent “surprising” rulings by the SC on controversial issues.

“Ang panawagan ko, balikan ninyo ang mabibigat at kontrobersiyal na isyung kinahaharap ng hudikaturam gaya ng mag panahong naging kataka-taka ang posisyon ng isa of iilang mahistrado,” said Aquino.

“Kung kailan bigkang nagbabago ang pananaw ng korte sa mahahalagang usapin o tila nagkaroon ng judicial legislation,” he added.

Aquino and Sereno led a groundbreaking ceremony for the future site of the Supreme Court complex in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City. He did not specify what particular issues or rulings he was referring to.

Aquino and the SC locked horns last year after the court struck down several portions of Malacanang’s Disbursement Acceleration Program. Theruling even prompted Aquino to declare he was open to having the Constitution amended to clip the powers of the high tribunal.

More recently, the SC also drew flak from the Palace after it granted the plea of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, an accused in the alleged pork barrel scam, which allowed the lawmaker to post bail over the non-bailable charge of plunder.

Sereno dissented in the Enrile decision but belonged to the majority that voted against DAP. —KBK, GMA News


FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Court of Appeals Ma. Orosa St., Ermita, Manila, Philippines
SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

Thoughts on Extrajudicial Killings and Unexplained Disappearances by: PJ Ruben T. Reyes and J. Mariano C. Del Castillo


BY PHILIPPINE JUSTICE Mariano C. Del Castillo
and by Presiding Justice Ruben T. Reyes

Sadly, the Philippines in the eyes of the international community has a very poor human rights record due to its alarming incidence of extrajudicial killings and unexplained disappearances/abductions of private individuals without anyone being held accountable. And now, various sectors of the society are prodded to seek for viable solutions to address the poor human rights problems of the country.

We sincerely believe that the root of the problem is not really much on the laws related to curbing and punishing human rights violators. Actually, it has always been the implementation of these laws. As part of the judicial institution whose power is drawn from the pen, we are here to present some issues to be mulled over.

1. There is a need for a clear-cut definition of what ‘extrajudicial killing’ is, for homicide and murder are ‘extrajudicial killings’ too. The name is a misnomer since every killing, outside of the death penalty, is extrajudicial. Shouldn’t the crime be called a ‘political killing’ instead?

When will a case fall under ‘extrajudicial killings’ in order that the special court can assume jurisdiction? Thus, the motive must be determined during investigation. This is relevant in the light of the existence of special courts to handle such cases. A categorical definition would pinpoint who are to be held liable and who are the victims.

An international NGO observed that such ‘extrajudicial killings’ in the Philippines show a common pattern:

“Surveillance and threats to the victims presumptively by officers; Finding their names in an “Order of Battle” by military commanders; Victim has an affiliation with lawful activist or leftist movements and political parties (including labor, journalism, women, peasants, environmental and other sectors); Assassination (often in front of the families and friends) by hooded persons often driving motorbikes or unlicensed vehicles; Scant investigation; Witness intimidation and sometimes witness murder.”

READ MORE...

The above traits, however, may also be present in killings made by groups like the Abu Sayaff, MILF, or even political opponents. How then do we distinguish these crimes, especially in determining jurisdiction of special courts?

2. The investigation, evidence-gathering, and the witness protection program of the State must be strengthened. A speedy and full investigation on the part of the police must be done. Also, the witnesses to these human rights crimes must be encouraged to testify, for they will have to go up against the police and the military. They must be assured that they will be protected during the investigation and the trial proceedings.

3. The possibility of putting up a multisectoral agency composed of representatives from the NGOs, civil society, military, police, church, media, and the judiciary. Such will focus solely on investigating such human rights crimes and serve as prosecutor. And this agency can report its findings to the court handling the case.

4. The need to educate and orient the police and military thru seminars about our laws on human rights, reminding them that the country is a civilian society and that the rights of the people to association, to privacy, to liberty, and to life, must be protected at all times. The police and military should act within the bounds of law and not attack indiscriminately whom they call ‘insurgents.’

5. The judiciary will have to bring back the confidence of the people in it by speedily disposing cases involving human rights violations, holding the perpetrators fully accountable to the crimes. Incidentally, another thing to consider is this: If one is merely acting under the orders of a ‘superior,’ will the former be exculpated or will there be a solidary liability as principals?

We hope that this summit will not turn out to be just rhetoric. The judiciary for sure is facing another challenge and expresses its cooperation to address the problem. The bottom line is actually the political will — Are we ready to prosecute the top guns behind these human rights crimes?


RAPPLER.COM

TIMELINE: Gerry Ortega murder case (UPDATED) Michael Bueza @mikebueza Published 12:30 PM, September 22, 2015 Updated 3:45 PM, September 23, 2015 5 250 28 Reddit Email 278


Joel Reyes, former Palawan governor, and younger sibling Mario, former Coron mayor, each carried a P2-million reward. They are accused of masterminding the murder of environmentalist-broadcaster Gerardo Ortega four years ago. AP/Philstar.com/File September 29, 2015 photo.

After hiding for more than 3 years, the suspects – former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes – are apprehended in Thailand (photo above)

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On Monday, September 21, the government confirmed that the main suspects in the murder of broadcast journalist Gerry Ortega have been arrested in Thailand.

Ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes and brother ex-Coron town mayor Mario Reyes were implicated in Ortega's murder in January 2011 in Puerto Princesa City.

Ortega exposed corruption in Palawan and accused the former governor of misusing the Malampaya fund, sourced from operations of the Malampaya gas and oil fields off the coast of the province.

Until their capture, the two were in hiding for over 3 years to evade arrest. Thai immigration authorities on Sunday, September 20, captured both men in Phuket for overstaying.

The Gerry Ortega murder case has gone through long and winding legal predicaments.

See the timeline below to look back at events since the slay. – Rappler.com

Editor's Note: Since its publication, this timeline has been revised with additional inputs from Michaella Ortega, daughter of Gerry Ortega.

READ ON...RELATED...

PHILIPPINES DOJ links ex-Palawan governor to Gerry Ortega murder  Rappler.com Published 2:00 PM, March 13, 2012 Updated 2:42 PM, March 13, 2012 27

[The DOJ findings reverse an earlier department verdict that let Joel Reyes off the hook]


Environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega (Photo from ABS-CBN Foundation/Philip Sison) DATED MARCH 13, 2012.

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Justice prosecutors have found probable cause against former Palawan Gov Joel Reyes in connection with the murder of radio commentator Gerry Ortega, Rappler learned Tuesday, March 13.

Ortega was shot dead on Jan. 24, 2011 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Reyes was one of those initially charged before the Department of Justice on the basis of the confession one of those who took part in the killing, but prosecutors dismissed the case for "insufficiency of evidence."

In July 2011, Gerry's widow Patty asked the department to reconsider their decision.

Reports said Ortega had been critical of Reyes, exposing some anomalies when Reyes was governor.

Reyes has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying he had nothing to gain by killing Ortega. - Rappler.com

--------------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM RAPPLER

PHILIPPINES Reyes brothers’ arraignment set for Oct 2 Rappler.com Published 5:06 PM, September 28, 2015 Updated 5:06 PM, September 28, 2015 1 142 17 Reddit Email 159

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the prosecution plans to oppose any moves from the camp of former Palawan officials Joel and Mario Reyes to delay the arraignment


THE ACCUSED. Mario (left, with towel over shoulders) and Joel (right, with glasses) Reyes are escorted by members of the PNP CIDG inside Camp Crame on September 25. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Two former Palawan officials accused of plotting the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega will face in court the murder charges filed against them by the Ortega family on Friday, October 2.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Monday, September 28, that the arraignment of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, ex-Coron mayor Mario Reyes, has been scheduled for Friday, 8:30 am, by the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 52.

"Naririnig ko sa mga balita kaninang umaga ang arraignment pero tinanong ko si Prosecutor General [Claro Arellano at] ang sabi niya sa Friday ang arraignment (I heard from the news that the arraignment was set for this morning, but I asked Prosecutor General Claro Arellano and he said the arraignment is set for this Friday),” De Lima told reporters in an ambush interview on Monday.


DE LIMA

She said the prosecution will likely oppose any moves that the defense would be making to delay the arraignment.

“Kung meron mang moves on the part of the counsels para maderail, madelay o mapostpone ang arraignment, our guidance to the prosecutor is to oppose such moves (If the Reyes brothers’ counsel plans to derail, delay, or postpone the arraignment, our guidance to the prosecutor is to oppose such moves),” she said.

The Reyes brothers are indicted in the killing of RMN Palawan broadcaster and environmentalist Ortega, who was shot in the head at point-blank range in 2011. (READ: Timeline: Gerry Ortega murder case)

The slain journalist exposed corruption in the province and accused Joel of misusing the Malampaya fund, sourced from operations of the Malampaya gas and oil fields off the coust of Palawan.

The Reyes brothers fled the country in 2012 after they were ordered arrested. They remained at large until immigration officers from Thailand, where the brothers hid for 3 years, arrested them on Sunday, September 20, for overstaying.

The Philippine police was able to arrest the Reyes brothers and bring them back to the country 5 days later. (READ: Emails, villa photos led to Reyes brothers’ arrest)

They were briefly presented before the members of the media before they were flown to Puerto Princesa.

The Reyes brothers have denied they were responsible behind Ortega’s murder. Joel also told reporters that they were not arrested by the police but rather, they voluntarily surrendered to Thai authorities.

No house arrest?

Reports also said that the Reyes brothers, who are currently detained at the Puerto Princesa city jail, plan to seek permission for a hospital arrest.

However, De Lima said the prosecution plans to oppose this because there is no basis for a hospital detention.

“Naaabuso na ‘yung ganyang move – tama na dapat, wala na dapat ganyan. Napakarami diyan na mga prisoners, whether in detention or convicted prisoners, na may health problems din, mga ordinary prisoners, pero hindi naman sila pinagbibigyan ng mga ganyan. Ang mga privileged few lang ang nabibigyan,” said de Lima.

(That move has been long been abused – it should be stopped. There are a lot of other prisoners, whether in detention or convicted prisoners, who have health problems too, but they weren’t allowed to be detained in a hospital instead. Only the privileged few are usually accommodated.)

“Enough of that, because it is making a mockery of our justice system,” she added.

Lawyer Rod Valmoria, the brothers’ counsel, told reporters on Friday that the Reyes brothers had high blood pressure and Mario was nursing a fever. However, a doctor who visited the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group building had cleared the two safe for travel.

Valmoria also said they plan to fight it out in court and file a petition for bail because they are “still confident that [the] evidence [against the Reyes brothers] is not strong.”

This was countered by De Lima, who said that the prosecution believes there is a strong case against the Reyes brothers.

"Murder is a non-bailable offense pero halos lahat naman ng akusado sa non-bailable cases ay sinusubukan magapply for bail. Pero dadaan ‘yan sa tamang proseso at ano ba ‘yung tamang proseso? Bail hearings at kailangang patunayan ng akusado na hindi malakas ang ebidensya against them. Hindi basta-basta ‘yan binibigyan ng bail nang walang sapat na basehan,” De Lima said.

(Murder is a non-bailable offense but those who are accused usually try to apply for bail. This will pass through the right process, which is what? Bail hearings, and the accused needs to prove that the evidence against them are not strong. We don’t just grant a petition for bail without enough proof.)

The justice secretary also clarified that the Court of Appeals has not lifted nor nullified the brothers’ warrants of arrest issued against them by the Puerto Princesa RTC. – with reports from Mara Cepeda/Rappler


MANILA STANDARD

PNoy’s hand seen in Lumad killings By Christine F. Herrera, Maricel V. Cruz | Sep. 24, 2015 at 12:01am


Inspection. President Benigno Aquino III sits with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson after inspecting the refurbished Far North Luzon General Hospital and Training Center in Apayao. Malacañang Photo Bureau

‘Aquino authorized military to conduct anti-lumad campaign’

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III authorized the Armed Forces to close down and occupy lumad schools in Mindanao and had a direct hand in the campaign of violence and harassment against the tribal communities, a leftist lawmaker charged Wednesday.

“Malacañang can no longer feign ignorance, wash its hands, or pretend to conduct an investigation. The campaign against the lumad apparently has the sanction of the President,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio.

Tinio said during deliberations on the 2016 national budget, Education Department officials in the Davao region admitted there was a plan to close down some 24 schools set up by the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center and replace them with schools run by soldiers.

The plan, the officials added, was hatched during an April 23 meeting called by the Regional Intelligence Committee, which was convened by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency or Nica, the government’s lead intelligence collection agency operating under the Office of the President.

“Nica officials report to the President and its director general is the President’s principal adviser on intelligence,” Tinio said.

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STTILC schools are community-based schools voluntarily set up and maintained by the Talaingod Manobos with the support of missionary groups in the hinterlands of Davao del Norte.

Tinio said Davao del Norte Schools Division Supt. Josephine Fadul had written the Education Department’s director for Region XI, Alberto Escobarte, urging him to close the STTILC schools.

In her letter, Fadul said: “Should this request for the closure of said schools be granted, in its stead, this Division requests permission to implement the creation of a public high school in Butay, Talaingod utilizing military personnel as para-teachers as has been previously discussed and agreed upon during our meeting with the Regional Intelligence Committee… last 23 April 2015.”

Tinio said the key role played by the Nica in the closure of the community schools established the President’s direct hand in “orchestrating and coordinating the ongoing campaign of vilification, harassment, and violence targeting the lumad schools in Mindanao.”

“This explains why Malacañang has paid mere lip-service and taken no effective action to put an end to the extrajudicial killing spree against lumad leaders and the occupation of schools by the military,” Tinio added.

Tinio said the closure of community schools formed part of a larger counter-insurgency campaign aimed at neutralizing lumad resistance to large-scale mining in the Davao and Caraga regions.

Lumad schools have been taken over by soldiers, school houses have been burned, and teachers and students have been terrorized, he said.

On Sept.1, the executive director of a lumad school in Surigao del Sur was murdered by paramilitary forces said to be under the control of the military.

Under questioning by Tinio during the House committee on appropriations hearing, Fadul also confirmed that intelligence officers of the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were present during the April 23 meeting.

“This is a significant disclosure by Superintendent Fadul,” Tinio said.

“It belies the statements made by top officials of the AFP, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri, during their own budget hearing that the military played no role in calling for the closure of the lumad schools. Clearly, they were present and actively involved in planning the school closures and in suggesting that their soldiers be assigned as para-teachers. In short, AFP officials lied to Congress. Their game plan is obviously to deny everything and claim that the violence against lumad schools is part of an alleged tribal war,” Tinio said.

Tinio vowed to question Nica regarding its role in the campaign against lumad schools when their budget is scheduled for deliberation before Congress.

“There is now growing evidence that the campaign of violence against indigenous peoples, their schools and communities in Mindanao are under the direction of the President through the AFP and the NICA. We will fight for justice for the thousands of lumad that have been displaced, the children that have been deprived of education, and the individuals killed in the name of Aquino’s matuwid na daan (straight path),” Tinio said.

Human rights advocates slammed the Aquino administration Wednesday for failing to stop human rights abuses committed against indigenous people and human rights activists.

“More than nine months before the Aquino administration’s term ends, his administration will be remembered for lost ground on important measures of breaking impunity, which is the entrenched legacy of martial law,” said Edeliza Hernandez, executive director of the Medical Action Group Inc.

“These incidents are part of a growing pattern of criminalization of human rights work and alleged human rights violations committed against human rights defenders in the country that must be broken before it escalates beyond control,” Hernandez added.

Hernandez added that since September 2013, there have been at least 34 documented cases of harassment, intimidation and extra-judicial killings of human rights activists, including indigenous people. – With Rio N. Araja


MANILA STANDARD

Govt nixes UN lumad probe By Vito Barcelo, Rio N. Araja and Florante S. Solmerin | Sep. 29, 2015 at 12:01am

THE government has turned down the request of the UN special rapporteurs to visit the country to look into reports of killings and human rights abuses committed against tribal communities or lumad in Mindanao.

“We could not accommodate the request of the UNSR this year,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Monday.

The human rights group Karapatan had asked the UN special rapporteurs to investigate the killing of lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo and lumad teacher Emerito Samarca, but the UN envoys are not allowed to conduct an investigation without an invitation from the government.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay appealed to the Aquino administration to allow the UN envoys to visit Mindanao so that they could see the real situation of the lumad there, but the administration said it would undertake its own “internal processes” before any international bodies can get involved.

“It is best to leave the investigation to relevant authorities in the Philippines,” Jose said in an earlier text message.

But Karapatan on Monday said a probe announced by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima would be “completely pointless” because she was running for the Senate in 2016.

“She is leaving the Justice Department next month. The investigation will be useless,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairman of Karapatan and the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto.

De Lima, who is expected to resign in a few weeks, earlier vowed to conduct a thorough and truthful investigation into the abuses against the lumad communities in Mindanao, taking into account the United Nations’ interest in the cases.

“Somebody will be replacing her. Can we expect continuity? You know what kind of government we have. You have to shake them up before they would move,” Enriquez said.

“Under a new leadership, we have to double our efforts. De Lima will be leaving her post with unfinished business since two weeks is not enough to dig deeper into the atrocities… and human rights violations committed on lumad and [their] advocates,” she added.

Enriquez said that on Sept. 17, De Lima was supposed to meet with relatives of the slain lumad leader, Campos, but failed to keep the meeting because she had to go to the Palace to meet President Benigno Aquino III.

“Who are we to compete with the schedule of the President?” Enriquez asked.

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On Sept. 22, De Lima met with Enriquez and Renato Reyes, Bayan Muna secretary general, at her office in Manila, and vowed to look into the reports of killings and abuses in lumad communities in Mindanao.

On Monday, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate challenged De Lima to drop charges against him and other human rights defenders that he said were trumped up, and focus instead on a speedy resolution of the cases against paramilitary groups that were responsible for the killings.

“The trumped-up charges filed against us are harassment charges,” Zarate said. He said he and other members of human rights groups were merely helping the lumad and they were the ones being bullied.

“Should the Justice Department find there is no basis at all to back these charges, then De Lima should dismiss these cases outright,” he said.

Also on Monday, a spokesman for the Moro National Liberation Front said the forced ejection of indigenous people from their ancestral land and relocating them was a clear violation of an existing law granting them ownership of their domain.

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said the plan by the government to relocate the lumad and other tribes in Surigao del Sur constitutes clear violation of Republic Act No. 8371, “An Act to Recognize, Protect and Promote the Rights Of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples.”


MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza

“It is the government that is violating its own laws after having established a legal framework for the indigenous people’s as contained in the law,” Cerveza said.

The government suggested that lumad be relocated outside of their communities in light of the atrocities prevailing in their communities blamed on communist rebels and the militarization of their communities that has led to the killing of dozens of indigenous people since Sept. 1.

The Commission on Human Rights, which has launched its own investigation, came under fire from Manobo leaders after it refused to allow a federation of lumad participate in the inquiry.

Rather than looking into the human rights violations against them, the CHR focused instead on the conditions inside the Haran Mission House of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and asking the people sheltering there if they were willing to be transferred to another sanctuary.

The indigenous people said they preferred staying in the church compound because they felt safe there.

The military has denied involvement in any atrocities against the lumad and blamed the communist New People’s Army for the violence.

The 10th Infantry Division on Monday said it supported the Justice Department investigation on atrocities committed against the lumad tribesmen in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.

“We believe that, in light of the various views surrounding this issue, a thorough investigation conducted by a competent government institution is a step forward to find out the truth. More importantly, the lumads, who have been the victims of this controversy deserves the justice that our constitution has guaranteed them,” 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief 1st Lt. Alexandre Cabales said.

A spokesman for the NPA on Monday said two lumad brothers who were killed early this month in the mountains of Valencia City in Bukidnon, died in a firefight with the communist rebels.

Mamerto Bagani, spokesperson of the NPA’s Mt. Kitanglad sub-regional operational command, denied the claim by military officials that the victims were abducted, tortured then killed on Sept. 13. With Maricel V. Cruz, PNA

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RELATED FROM MANILA STANDARD

‘Govt covering up lumad slays’ By Florante S. Solmerin | Sep. 30, 2015 at 12:01am



THE Palace came under heavy fire Tuesday for covering up human rights violations in Mindanao after it refused to invite UN special rapporteurs to the country to investigate a spate of killings of lumad leaders whom the military accused of being communist sympathizers.

“Why is the Aquino government refusing to issue invitations to relevant UN rapporteurs who want to look into the spate of lumad killings in the Philippines? What is the government trying to hide?” asked Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the government cannot accommodate a request from the UN envoys to visit the country and investigate the killings and other human rights abuses against tribesmen in Mindanao.

He said the government was letting its relevant agencies investigate the incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“What is the DFA doing that is so important that it cannot accommodate requests by international human rights defenders who are alarmed by the extrajudicial killings committed by the AFP and paramilitary groups?” Reyes shot back.

“By refusing to issue invitations to relevant UN bodies, the Aquino regime is continuing its official coverup of the gross human rights violations under its watch. The AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP [Philippine National Police] investigations will amount to nothing,” he added.

Earlier, when Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay made public her organization’s request for help from the UN special rapporteurs, a military spokesman immediately denounced the group’s attempt to “internationalize” the issue and “to vilify” the Armed Forces and the government.

The Commission on Human Rights and the Justice Department have voiced alarm over the killings, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima formed a team to investigate the incidents.

CHR Chairman Chito Gascon debunked the claim of the military that the lumad killings were a result of a tribal war.

Notwithstanding the Justice Department investigation, Karapatan and Bayan officials expressed fears of a whitewash, and noted that De Lima would be unable to meet her commitment to bring those responsible to justice because she is expected to resign shortly to run for senator in 2016.

Reyes also slammed the CHR officials sent to Mindanao who were keen on investigating the reported presence of the communist rebels in lumad communities, and not the killings.

“The CHR probe also appears to be a disappointment for the lumad victims,” Reyes said.

“The results of the DoJ-NBI probe remain uncertain at this point that De Lima is on her way out. In any case, the presence of international investigators would strengthen the cause of human rights… Alas, that is not the concern of this government,” he added.

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Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan slammed the Aquino administration for the government’s nonstop war on the indigenous communities in Mindanao.

“More than 100 participants of a lumad school celebration are being held by the 68th Infantry Battalion and the Alamara. The armed groups are holding the lumad who were planning to celebrate the 11th foundation anniversary gathering for the Salugpungan Lumad School and Bwalawan Festival,” De Jesus said.

“We strongly condemn this recent case of harassment. This is proof that the AFP and paramilitaries continue to operate with impunity,” Ilagan said.

De Jesus said Aquino, the AFP, and the Department of Education headed by Secretary Armin Luistro should be held accountable if the slightest harm should befall the teachers, students and parents.

“President Aquino, you can no longer deny that your soldiers are harassing the lumad. Allow the school to hold their activities in peace, and pull out the military and its paramilitary goons to give justice to the deaths of the Salugpungan leaders,” De Jesus said.

Witnesses to the killing of three lumad leaders in Sitio Han-ayan, Lianga town are ready to tell all during Senate hearings in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, on Oct. 1 and 2, said Senator Teofisto Guingona III.


Senators Teofisto Guingona and Coco Pimentel try to read the situation as they lead the probe on lumad killings held at Villa Maria Luisa Hotel in Tandag, Surigao del Sur on October 1, 2015. ”This has to stop,” -“TG” Guingona III told reporters at the end of the first day of the Senate hearing on the lumad killings on Thursday. KING RODRIGUEZ TANDAG, Surigao del Sur.

Guingona, who will preside over the hearings, said the subcommittee on justice hoped to ferret out the truth behind the grisly killings.

The hearings are also expected to cover earlier killings and the forced displacement of lumad tribes in Mindanao.

An estimated 3,000 displaced lumads from five municipalities have fled to Tandag City fearing the escalation of violence allegedly perpetrated by the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary unit, which has been linked to Army units in the area. The communities they left behind have turned into ghost towns.

Emerito Samarca, a teacher at the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, was found in a classroom with his throat slit on Sept. 1. Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod ; and Bello Sinzo were publicly executed on the same day by heavily armed men.

Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel had asked the Senate to hold its hearings in his province so that more witnesses could participate.

Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV are expected to join Guingona during the hearings.

On Tuesday, Save Our Schools and Salinlahi picketed the Department of Education offices in Pasig City to denounce the agency’s alleged plan to shut down lumad schools in Mindanao.

Education officials from Davao del Norte had admitted in Senate hearings that there was such a plan and that it had been reached during a meeting with intelligence officials.

Reina Requioma, SOS spokeswoman, accused the Education Department of being part of the military’s anti-insurgency campaign, Oplan Bayanihan.

“The DepEd celebrates peace month this September while lumad children, teachers and communities continue to live in constant fear from rights abuses of the military and state sponsored paramilitary groups. DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro should first and foremost understand that genuine peace means zero presence of armed forces in schools and communities of the lumad,” Requioma said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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