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

W.H.O. CALLS FOR EMERGENCY MEETING ON ZIKA VIRUS


FEBRUARY 1 -An employee sprays the inside of an airplane at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with a broad-spectrum disinfectant to prevent the Zika virus from spreading. Aedes mosquitos, which also carry the dengue virus, spread the Zika virus from person to person. RUDY SANTOS
The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a meeting today to discuss the possibility of declaring a public health emergency due to the spread of the Zika virus.
Health Secretary Janette Garin reported that WHO has called for an emergency meeting as the virus spreads to more countries. “We will know the global classification of Zika virus after the meeting,” Garin said. Garin gave assurance the Department of Health (DOH) will exert all efforts to prevent the possible spread of Zika in the country. “What is important now is to be aggressive in cleaning our surroundings and work double time to lessen the population of day-biting mosquitoes,” she said. In a statement, WHO announced the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee will meet in Geneva to ascertain whether the Zika outbreak constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern.” WHO said scaling up and strengthening of surveillance systems in affected countries, addressing critical gaps in scientific knowledge about the virus, development of vaccines, and improving diagnostic tests would also be discussed during the meeting. The WHO earlier warned Zika virus may be “spreading explosively” in the American region. READ MORE...

ALSO: VOTERS URGED TO PICK LEADERS WITH INTEGRITY - Ombudsman: So many in gov’t are corrupt


FEBRUARY 1 -CHIEF GRAFT BUSTER Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has received thousands of complaints about graft and corruption practices in her office. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
A “SUPER” number of corrupt government officials can still be found throughout the bureaucracy, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who is urging voters to choose in the May elections candidates with integrity if they want a clean government. Corruption remains prevalent in the government, Morales said, noting that her office had received thousands of complaints about graft and corrupt practices and other administrative violations. Most of the new cases filed last year involved local officials, a total of 1,092, while police officers accounted for more than 600 cases.
Other officials who faced investigation by the Ombudsman include those from the military and the education, finance, natural resources, justice and agriculture departments, as well as state universities and colleges, and the fire protection and jail management bureaus. Morales’ statement came before the ranking of the Philippines in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2015 dropped 10 notches from 2014. The Philippine CPI ranking slid to 95th from 85th. The higher the ranking, the more corrupt a country is perceived to be. The country’s public sector got a score of 35 from experts and institutions that Transparency International (TI) had tapped. Countries that obtained a score of less than 50 have “serious corruption problem,” according to TI, which assessed 168 countries in the 2015 index. Appeal to voters The Ombudsman urged Filipino voters to choose candidates with unblemished integrity in the May general elections. “My only appeal is that people should vote [for] people with integrity [in the] local and national level. It’s not enough to be smart and competent. You (candidate) should have integrity. That’s my appeal,” Morales told the Inquirer on Jan. 25. Without referring to a particular candidate, the Ombudsman made the call when asked if she had any concern about the coming changing of the guard in June, the end of the term of President Aquino, who put the anticorruption campaign at the core of his administration. READ MORE...

ALSO: IEC Closing - Pope lauds deep faith of Filipinos


FEBRUARY 1 -CLOSING RITES The Catholic faithful listen to the Pope Francis’ address on video during Sunday Mass capping the 51st International Eucharist Congress at Pedro Calungsod Templete at South Road Properties in Cebu City. The next IEC will be held in Budapest, Hungary, in 2020. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ CEBU CITY—Pope Francis on Sunday praised Filipinos for spreading Christianity “to all the ends of the earth” while his personal representative to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) held here called on them “to multiply” and evangelize the world, especially Western countries where there are “more [pets] than children.” Appearing in a video to a million people at the end of the Statio Ordo, or closing Mass, of the IEC at South Road Properties, Pope Francis announced that the next IEC would be held in 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. The Pope said he was happy that the Cebu congress “brought many people from the vast continent of Asia and throughout the world.” 
He pointed the 15,000 IEC delegates from 71 countries to the strong Catholic faith of Filipinos, saying he was able to experience it firsthand when he visited the Philippines last year to console victims and survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013. “I was able to witness firsthand the deep faith and resilience of the people,” Francis told the delegates. The Pontiff said that while the typhoon caused destruction, it also brought out the goodness in other people. “Here I think of the aftermath of the typhoon. It brought immense devastation to the Philippines. Yet it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity and goodness. People seek rebuilding not just homes but also lives,” the Pope said. Migrants as missionaries He added that the Philippines’ “deep fidelity” to the Gospel had enabled its millions of migrant workers to perform the role of missionaries in other countries. READ MORE...

ALSO: A frustrated Senator Enrile called PNoy 'stupid for relying on incompetents’


FEBRUARY 1 -A FRUSTRATED Senator Juan Ponce Enrile
SENATOR Juan Ponce Enrile mocked President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday, saying he was stupid for depending on incompetent officers to lead the Mamasapano operation in January last year, and being the first Philippine president to abandon his troops to be slaughtered. The President has consistently blamed dismissed Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas for the deaths of the 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, calling him stupid and incompetent. But Enrile said in a radio interview on dzBB that it was the President who was stupid for depending on someone he later considered incompetent. He also hammered at the President for keeping his Cabinet and the military in the dark about the operation to neutralize two high-profile terrorists. “He took it upon himself. He thought he could do it, but he was incompetent,” Enrile said in Filipino. In planning the covert police operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and local bomb maker Basit Usman, Enrile said the President did not even talk to his Cabinet. Instead, he deliberately compartmentalized Oplan Exodus to himself, then suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima, and Napeñas. In doing so, he hid his involvement behind Purisima, Enrile said. In last week’s reopening of the Mamasapano investigation, Enrile said the President could be held criminally liable for his actions—and inaction—during the Mamasapano massacre. “He will be charged the moment he stepped down. That’s for sure,” Enrile said. Ferdinand Topacio, a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, told The Standard that their group is considering filing criminal charges against Aquino in connection with the deaths of the SAF 44. He said those charges will be filed after Aquino steps down as President and loses his immunity from suit. Senator Grace Poe, who chaired the Mamasapano hearings, said the findings in their committee report remains the same­—­that the President is ultimately responsible for the killing of 44 police commandos by Moro rebels in Mamasapano in January last year. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino flouts Charter, JBC rules on clustering court nominees


JANUARY 31 -President Benigno Aquino 3rd has breached the 1987 Constitution and the Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on clustering of justice nominees to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. Aquino violated the Charter and the JBC rules when he ignored the clustering system observed by the Sandiganbayan when appointed six nominees to posts in the anti-graft court. According to a well-placed source in the Supreme Court (SC), some JBC members have pointed the constitutional violation committed by the President that should be protested by the council by returning the list of appointees to Malacañang. The source said these council members will not get support from the head of the JBC–Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno herself–especially with her recent appointment of her “Umbrella Boy”—lawyer Zaldy Trespeses—as associate justice of the Sandiganbayan. Trespeses supposedly was promoted as a reward for Sereno declaring constitutional the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States. The Chief Justice was the ponente of the EDCA case. “Eh paanong papalag si Sereno sa paglabag ni PNoy [Aquino] sa clustering ng JBC, eh na-appoint na yung Umbrella Boy niya, si Trespeses [How will Sereno rock the boat on the President violating the clustering system of the JBC when Trespeses had already been appointed]?” the source told The Manila Times. The source wondered how Sereno could tolerate the violation committed by Aquino when she should lead the JBC in defending its clustering rules. Section 9 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution states, “(T)he members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy. Such appointments need no confirmation.” This means that the President shall choose only from at least three names shortlisted by the JBC for “every vacancy” only.READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

WHO calls emergency meeting on Zika virus


An employee sprays the inside of an airplane at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with a broad-spectrum disinfectant to prevent the Zika virus from spreading. Aedes mosquitos, which also carry the dengue virus, spread the Zika virus from person to person. RUDY SANTOS

MANILA, FEBRUARY 1, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Mayen Jaymalin February 1, 2016 - The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a meeting today to discuss the possibility of declaring a public health emergency due to the spread of the Zika virus.

Health Secretary Janette Garin reported that WHO has called for an emergency meeting as the virus spreads to more countries.

“We will know the global classification of Zika virus after the meeting,” Garin said.

Garin gave assurance the Department of Health (DOH) will exert all efforts to prevent the possible spread of Zika in the country.

“What is important now is to be aggressive in cleaning our surroundings and work double time to lessen the population of day-biting mosquitoes,” she said.

In a statement, WHO announced the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee will meet in Geneva to ascertain whether the Zika outbreak constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern.”

READ MORE...

WHO said scaling up and strengthening of surveillance systems in affected countries, addressing critical gaps in scientific knowledge about the virus, development of vaccines, and improving diagnostic tests would also be discussed during the meeting.

The WHO earlier warned Zika virus may be “spreading explosively” in the American region.

Zika virus is a disease caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, the same vector carrying dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Symptoms of those afflicted with Zika virus include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis, which normally last for two to seven days.

DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said the Philippines should not be complacent and take action even if the country has not recorded a case of the illness.

“There is no room for us to be complacent about this. We do not want to be complacent with this because it is something that we need to address,” Lee Suy said.

The DOH has advised pregnant women to consider deferring non-essential travel to Zika-hit countries while reiterated its warning to the public to destroy all breeding places of mosquitoes, which can spread dengue and other tropical diseases.

No current Zika cases have been reported in the country but in 2012, a 15-year-old boy was reportedly infected in Cebu City and recovered fully, according to Lee Suy.

Health officials have worked to raise public awareness about ways to prevent infections, including using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing.

“We’ve repeatedly urged people not to be hard-headed and keep their surroundings clean and mosquito-free. Again, let’s not spring into action only when an infection’s already here,” Lee Suy said.

Airlines will also accept cancelation of flights to all pregnant passengers bound for countries that are affected by Zika virus.

President Aquino called on the government to ensure the safety of the public amid concerns over the Zika virus that infected many people in other countries, particularly in Brazil and some parts of South America.

Some international airlines have started cleaning up and spraying their aircraft with disinfectants as part of the measures against the spread of the virus.

Health authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport assured the public that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus would not last during the 14 to 20 hours in the air, including connecting flights to Manila.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is not imposing a deployment ban yet because of the Zika virus outbreak in other countries. – With Rudy Santos


INQUIRER

VOTERS URGED TO PICK LEADERS WITH INTEGRITY - Ombudsman: So many in gov’t are corrupt By: Tarra Quismundo @TarraINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:01 AM February 1st, 2016


CHIEF GRAFT BUSTER Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has received thousands of complaints about graft and corruption practices in her office. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

A “SUPER” number of corrupt government officials can still be found throughout the bureaucracy, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who is urging voters to choose in the May elections candidates with integrity if they want a clean government.
Corruption remains prevalent in the government, Morales said, noting that her office had received thousands of complaints about graft and corrupt practices and other administrative violations.
Most of the new cases filed last year involved local officials, a total of 1,092, while police officers accounted for more than 600 cases.

Other officials who faced investigation by the Ombudsman include those from the military and the education, finance, natural resources, justice and agriculture departments, as well as state universities and colleges, and the fire protection and jail management bureaus.

Morales’ statement came before the ranking of the Philippines in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2015 dropped 10 notches from 2014.

The Philippine CPI ranking slid to 95th from 85th. The higher the ranking, the more corrupt a country is perceived to be.
The country’s public sector got a score of 35 from experts and institutions that Transparency International (TI) had tapped.

Countries that obtained a score of less than 50 have “serious corruption problem,” according to TI, which assessed 168 countries in the 2015 index.

Appeal to voters

The Ombudsman urged Filipino voters to choose candidates with unblemished integrity in the May general elections.
“My only appeal is that people should vote [for] people with integrity [in the] local and national level. It’s not enough to be smart and competent. You (candidate) should have integrity. That’s my appeal,” Morales told the Inquirer on Jan. 25.

Without referring to a particular candidate, the Ombudsman made the call when asked if she had any concern about the coming changing of the guard in June, the end of the term of President Aquino, who put the anticorruption campaign at the core of his administration.

READ MORE...

“I have no concerns at all,” Morales said, adding that her office is an independent constitutional body. She will serve as Ombudsman until 2018.

Anticorruption platform

Morales said candidates, whether vying for local or national posts, should present a clear anticorruption platform.

“They should come up with what programs of government they will have and they should include corruption. What’s their program against corruption? Because it’s not enough for you to say, ‘I am honest, [of that] I am being maligned.’ Tell them: ‘What’s your program against corruption?’” she said.

In the presidential race, one candidate is facing corruption and plunder charges but has recovered from last year’s record-low ratings. Another candidate vows not to steal.

Asked if she had made her choice, Morales said she had yet to firm up her list. “I’m supposed to be apolitical. I will decide at the eleventh hour,” she said.

Admin’s campaign

Asked how she would rate the administration’s performance in battling corruption, the Ombudsman said President Aquino was sincere in the campaign. “Well, if you read from the papers, the President is really pursuing this anticorruption campaign in earnest,” she said.

Morales’ office is independent from Malacañang, and she said she did “not get orders from the President.”

But if reporters were to be believed, she said: “…The President is really serious in pushing the anticorruption program.”

The Office of the Ombudsman has a workload of 11,056 cases, including 8,715 pending cases from previous years and 2,341 cases filed in the first half of 2015, according to data on its official website.

Of the total—27 percent or 2,940 cases—have been resolved—either dismissed, forwarded to the courts or resulted in administrative penalties.

“I’d like to believe that there has been an increase in confidence and trust in the Office of the Ombudsman. And, on account of that, people think we can solve all their problems,” Morales said.


INQUIRER

Pope lauds deep faith of Filipinos By: Ador Vincent Mayol, Connie E. Fernandez, Lito B. Zulueta
@inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 12:10 AM February 1st, 2016


CLOSING RITES The Catholic faithful listen to the Pope Francis’ address on video during Sunday Mass capping the 51st International Eucharist Congress at Pedro Calungsod Templete at South Road Properties in Cebu City. The next IEC will be held in Budapest, Hungary, in 2020. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

CEBU CITY—Pope Francis on Sunday praised Filipinos for spreading Christianity “to all the ends of the earth” while his personal representative to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) held here called on them “to multiply” and evangelize the world, especially Western countries where there are “more [pets] than children.”

Appearing in a video to a million people at the end of the Statio Ordo, or closing Mass, of the IEC at South Road Properties, Pope Francis announced that the next IEC would be held in 2020 in Budapest, Hungary.

The Pope said he was happy that the Cebu congress “brought many people from the vast continent of Asia and throughout the world.”

He pointed the 15,000 IEC delegates from 71 countries to the strong Catholic faith of Filipinos, saying he was able to experience it firsthand when he visited the Philippines last year to console victims and survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.

“I was able to witness firsthand the deep faith and resilience of the people,” Francis told the delegates.

The Pontiff said that while the typhoon caused destruction, it also brought out the goodness in other people.

“Here I think of the aftermath of the typhoon. It brought immense devastation to the Philippines. Yet it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity and goodness. People seek rebuilding not just homes but also lives,” the Pope said.

Migrants as missionaries

He added that the Philippines’ “deep fidelity” to the Gospel had enabled its millions of migrant workers to perform the role of missionaries in other countries.

READ MORE...

The Filipinos “have spread the faith in Asia and all the ends of the earth,” he said.

Referring to the Church of Cebu, the Pope said Christianity was first received in the Philippines in Cebu in the image of the Santo Niño de Jesus, the beloved icon of the Visayas whose devotion was promoted by the Augustinians, the first missionaries in the country.

He said the congress was a good preparation, as the Philippines would mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in 2021.

Although he had initially accepted the invitation to the Cebu congress upon his election in 2013, the Pope later had to beg off because of his 2015 visit to the Philippines and his tight schedule.

But the special video message apparently more than made up for the nonappearance as the faithful stood up after the papal address and heartily applauded.

Police estimated the crowd to be at least a million.

‘Hope of the world’

Burmese Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said the Philippines was “the hope not only of Asia but [also] of the world.”

“Filipinos, your time to rise has arrived,” said Bo, the archbishop of Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar). He lavished praise on Filipinos for their intense faith and their love of family.

Big Filipino families mean more missionaries, he said.

“[Have many children. Increase the number of your missionaries],” he said in Filipino, to the delight of the crowd.


DISPLAY OF FLAGS Children display the flags of the countries represented in the 51st International Eucharist Congress during Sunday’s closing ceremonies in Cebu City. Some 12,000 people gathered to promote the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Filipinos, he added, should spread out to places like Europe, where, he said in Filipino, “they have few children but many dogs and cats.”

The Eucharist



The papal legate appeared to repeat the message of Francis in the Pope’s Rizal Park homily in January 2015. The Pontiff said that Filipinos fill the churches everywhere they go and urged them to be missionaries.

In his Cebu address, Francis said the Holy Eucharist, referring both to the liturgical ritual and the Communion host, had a “missionary dimension.”

He explained that the Eucharist was initiated during the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples.

He said there were “two gestures” of Christ in the Last Supper: the fellowship of the meal and the washing of the feet.
“Both have to do with the missionary dimension of the Eucharist,” Francis said.

He explained that the washing of the feet meant that Christians would have to perform works of mercy to help and defend the poor and the oppressed and ease the misery of refugees and outcasts of society.

He said fellowship of the meal meant Catholics had to reach out to sinners with mercy and compassion.

The Pope said he had in fact announced 2016 as the Year of Mercy.

“We are called to bring the bond of God’s merciful love to the whole of humanity,” he said.

While Christianity is a minority in Asia, the Church is committed to dialogue with other religions, the Pope said.

“The Church in Asia is committed to respectful dialogue with followers of other religions,” he said.

Sadness

“I love Cebu!” Bo said at the start of his homily.

The prelate was echoing the widespread appreciation of foreign delegates for Cebu’s hospitality and its vibrant faith and very warm people.

Speaking sometimes in Filipino and sometimes in Cebuano, Bo said he was sad he would be leaving Cebu soon.

Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma, speaking at the close of the Mass, thanked the delegates, then added, “But now it’s time to say goodbye,” drawing a collective moan from the foreign delegates.

A Taiwanese delegate said she was impressed by the participation of young Filipino Catholics in the congress.
“I have brought my daughters with me and they are very happy,” she said. “Now we know that the IEC is not only for old people but for young people as well.”

She was referring to the jocular representation of congress organizers who, pressed to explain what the IEC was, pointed to the more popular but more recent World Youth Day, a festival started by St. John Paul II in the 1980s and held every two years.

“While the World Youth Day is for young people, [the] IEC is for old people,” organizers said.

The IEC has been held by the Catholic Church at fairly regular intervals since 1881, when it was first mounted in Lille, France.


MANILA STANDARD

‘PNoy stupid for relying on incompetents’ posted February 01, 2016 at 12:01 am by Macon Ramos-Araneta


A FRUSTRATED Senator Juan Ponce Enrile

SENATOR Juan Ponce Enrile mocked President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday, saying he was stupid for depending on incompetent officers to lead the Mamasapano operation in January last year, and being the first Philippine president to abandon his troops to be slaughtered.

The President has consistently blamed dismissed Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas for the deaths of the 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, calling him stupid and incompetent.

But Enrile said in a radio interview on dzBB that it was the President who was stupid for depending on someone he later considered incompetent.

He also hammered at the President for keeping his Cabinet and the military in the dark about the operation to neutralize two high-profile terrorists.

“He took it upon himself. He thought he could do it, but he was incompetent,” Enrile said in Filipino.

In planning the covert police operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and local bomb maker Basit Usman, Enrile said the President did not even talk to his Cabinet.

Instead, he deliberately compartmentalized Oplan Exodus to himself, then suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima, and Napeñas.

In doing so, he hid his involvement behind Purisima, Enrile said.

In last week’s reopening of the Mamasapano investigation, Enrile said the President could be held criminally liable for his actions—and inaction—during the Mamasapano massacre.

“He will be charged the moment he stepped down. That’s for sure,” Enrile said.

Ferdinand Topacio, a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, told The Standard that their group is considering filing criminal charges against Aquino in connection with the deaths of the SAF 44.

He said those charges will be filed after Aquino steps down as President and loses his immunity from suit.

Senator Grace Poe, who chaired the Mamasapano hearings, said the findings in their committee report remains the same­—­that the President is ultimately responsible for the killing of 44 police commandos by Moro rebels in Mamasapano in January last year.

READ MORE...


SEPTEMBER 2015 PHOTO: On January 25, 2015, 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in the hunt for Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, aka “Marwan,” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. Their mission may have succeeded, but one year later families of the slain SAF44 and affected civilians today continue to seek justice from a government which allegedly broke chain of command and poorly handled the mission. Visit the INQUIRER tribute site at inquirer.net/mamasapano.

Enrile said the President and his lawyers should study the “sins” he enumerated in his opening statement in last Wednesday’s hearing.

Reacting to the claims that Napeñas was pinned down in the hearing, Enrile challenged the government to go after the former SAF chief.

“Try to charge him and he will be acquitted. Once he is charged, his lawyers will ask for an amendment of the information to include the President,” Enrile said.

Enrile also chided Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Teofisto Guingona III for acting as the President’s lawyers during last week’s hearings.


DRILON IN DENIAL FOR THE PRESIDENT?

Last week, Drilon said nothing in the testimony showed that the President actively participated in the planning of Oplan Exodus.

Guingona added that the President merely acted based on the information provided to him by Napeñas, which turned out to be wrong.

But Enrile said if this was the kind of President the country has, then he should be dumped.

“We have intelligence funds,” he said.

He also said he no longer needed to call Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma to testify, because he had already established the President’s role in planning and monitoring Oplan Exodus.

Enrile said he has in his possession new evidence in the form of an audit report on Oplan Exodus. Without elaborating, he said some people tried to suppress the information in the report.

In a radio interview, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the PNP should release an official statement explaining the legal basis for the assistance it sought from the United States if it has nothing to hide.


US role in Mamasapano ‘within legal framework’ - Goldberg  The US played a role in the Mamasapano operation, but it was done “within the legal framework” of both countries, Ambassador Philip Goldberg (photo) said yesterday. “There is cooperation, that all of this is done within the legal framework, and that there are agreements, and everything was done consensually or at the request of the Philippine government,” Goldberg told GMA 7’s “News To Go.” Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said at the reopening of the Mamasapano investigation on Wednesday that the government should explain the role of the US in Oplan Exodus, which was aimed at neutralizing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan. Enrile noted that the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement deals only with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “It does not cover police operations, which is actually nothing more than the enforcement of the criminal laws of the Philippines handled by the police organization of the country,” Enrile said after former Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas said that the US provided “real-time intelligence” during the operation. By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 30, 2016

It should also specify the extent of that involvement and address allegations that a drone operated by US forces was used.

He said the executive branch would have some serious explaining to do about the US role in Mamasapano.

Leftist groups accused the US of sacrificing the lives of the SAF 44 to get international terrorist Marwan.

“The Mamasapano operation was funded and directed by the US. The US provided initial intelligence as well as real-time intelligence. US personnel were present at the tactical command post and were in a position to call the shots because they had control of real-time information coming from their drone.

The involvement of the US in the police operation is of course illegal and is not covered by any existing treaty or agreement,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said the cooperation between the two countries in the Jan. 25 operation to arrest Marwan fell within the scope of the Visiting Forces Agreement the two countries had signed.

But Bayan slammed the US Embassy in Manila for insisting that US involvement in the counter-terror operation in Mamasapano was consistent with the legal framework of both countries.

“The US cannot even cite the VFA as basis for its intervention because it supposedly does not allow direct US involvement in combat operations. The reality is that the US, in many countries, has violated domestic and international laws in the name of the war on terror. The US does not respect national sovereignty. We’ve seen this in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen. They are doing the same thing here,” Reyes said. With John Paolo Bencito


MANILA TIMES

Aquino flouts Charter, JBC rules on clustering court nominees January 31, 2016 10:27 pm
by JOMAR CANLAS, SENIOR REPORTER

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has breached the 1987 Constitution and the Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on clustering of justice nominees to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Aquino violated the Charter and the JBC rules when he ignored the clustering system observed by the Sandiganbayan when appointed six nominees to posts in the anti-graft court.

According to a well-placed source in the Supreme Court (SC), some JBC members have pointed the constitutional violation committed by the President that should be protested by the council by returning the list of appointees to Malacañang.

The source said these council members will not get support from the head of the JBC–Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno herself–especially with her recent appointment of her “Umbrella Boy”—lawyer Zaldy Trespeses—as associate justice of the Sandiganbayan.

Trespeses supposedly was promoted as a reward for Sereno declaring constitutional the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

The Chief Justice was the ponente of the EDCA case.

“Eh paanong papalag si Sereno sa paglabag ni PNoy [Aquino] sa clustering ng JBC, eh na-appoint na yung Umbrella Boy niya, si Trespeses [How will Sereno rock the boat on the President violating the clustering system of the JBC when Trespeses had already been appointed]?” the source told The Manila Times.

The source wondered how Sereno could tolerate the violation committed by Aquino when she should lead the JBC in defending its clustering rules.

Section 9 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution states, “(T)he members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy. Such appointments need no confirmation.”

READ MORE...


INQUIRER FILE PHOTO -DIOKNO QUOTED from BWonline:
'The next President should be forward-looking and accountable. He should be willing to take full responsibility for his actions or neglects rather than endlessly blaming others for his failures and inactions. Once elected, the next President should rise above politics, and should act as the leader of all Filipinos rather than that of a privileged few. In brief, the next President should be the opposite of the present incumbent.' BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE

This means that the President shall choose only from at least three names shortlisted by the JBC for “every vacancy” only.

But Aquino disregarded the clustering made by nominees and just chose the names of the six appointees for the Sandignbayan position “at random.”

The list of appointees of Aquino to the Sandiganbayan include two Malacanang undersecretaries–Michael Musngi and Reynaldo Cruz.

Next to be appointed are Assistant Solicitor General Karl Miranda, the most senior official in the Office of the Solicitor General, Judge Geraldine Faith Econg and Judge Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

On the original JBC shortlist for the Sandiganbayan posts, the order of seniority was even disregarded by Aquino for the 16th to 21st posts.

From the original 15 justices, the anti-graft court will now have 21 justices for its seven divisions.

Musngi and Econg were appointed by the President despite the two being in the same cluster.

A Malacañang source said that while it is true that Aquino ignored the JBC clustering system, they believe that it was within his powers to do so.

But the Malacañang source said the rules “[limit] the appointing power of the President to choose his appointees.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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