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LEILA DE LIMA'S ARREST PART 1

DAVAO HIT MAN, LASCAÑAS HEATS UP SENATORS
[RELATED: Muslim leader dismisses Lascañas’ mosque-bombing claim]
[RELATED: Inmates offered P100m to drop testimony; Inmates told to recant before Feb 25 - Aguirre]


FEBRUARY 23 -SENATE SHOULD NOT BE THE VENUE FOR SOMEONE WHO LIED BEFORE says Sen. Richard Gordon —JOSEPH VIDAL/PRIB
A Senate inquiry into the confession of a former leader of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) will proceed despite opposition from President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies. A day after Mr. Duterte’s supporters lost a vote on the inquiry, Sen. Richard Gordon took the floor on Wednesday and insisted that the Senate should not be the venue for someone who had apparently lied to senators. On Tuesday, 10 of 22 senators present voted for an inquiry to hear the testimony of retired SPO3 Arturo (not Arthur as previously reported) Lascañas, who disclosed during a news conference on Monday that he had been a hit man for the DDS, which he said was under the control and pay of Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City. Lascañas’ public confession came four months after his testimony to Gordon’s justice committee denying the existence of the DDS and confessed hit man Edgar Matobato’s insistence that he was a member of the hit squad. READ MORE...RELATED, Muslim leader dismisses Lascañas’ mosque-bombing claim...RELATED(2) Inmates offered P100m to drop testimony; Inmates told to recant before Feb 25 - Aguirre

ALSO: Muntinlupa RTC orders arrest of De Lima, two others
[RELATED: Leila de Lima, Critic of Duterte, Is Arrested in the Philippines temporarily brought to PNP CIDG]
[RELATED(2): De Lima's ex-bf Dayan Ronnie Dayan arrested in Pangasinan; to be detained in Muntinlupa police jail]


FEBRUARY 23 -A Muntinlupa City judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of Senator Leila De Lima for one of the three drug trafficking cases filed by the Department of Justice in relation to her alleged participation in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison. Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 issued the arrest warrants for De Lima and her co-accused, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan. Cases for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act or Republic Act 9165 are non-bailable. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II welcomed the development, saying in a television interview that the arrest order was "expected because we filed a strong case." Citing Ragos' affidavit, the DOJ alleged that De Lima received around P10 million from drug payoffs from November 2012 to January 2013. Ragos said he delivered, along with aide Jovencio Ablen Jr., the money to De Lima's house in Parañaque City. READ MORE...RELATED, Leila de Lima, Critic of Duterte, Is Arrested in the Philippines De Lima temporarily brought to PNP CIDG...RELATED(2)  De Lima's ex-bf Dayan Ronnie Dayan arrested in Pangasinan; to be detained in Muntinlupa police jail...

ALSO: De Lima evaded arrest at home, wants to spend the night at Senate for the arrest Friday am
[RELATED: Teary-eyed De Lima vows to surrender on Friday; vows to continue 'fight"]
[RELATED(2): Robredo decries 'political harassment' of De Lima]


FEBRUARY 23 -PHOTO -Leila de Lima is escorted out of the Philippine Senate premises following a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Pasay City, Philippines. FROM PHILSTAR Senator Leila De Lima on Thursday said she plans to spend the evening at her office in the Senate before she surrenders on Friday morning. She addressed reporters after evading arrest at her home hours after a Muntinlupa court issued a warrant in connection with a drug trafficking case against her "What is the difference between tonight and tomorrow morning?" she said, describing it as "unusual" and "unjust." "Hindi naman ako tatakas. Ready naman akong arestuhin." De Lima said she didn't want to be arrested in front of her family. She added she felt "less safe" if she were arrested at night. "I'll just stay here sa Senado and wait for the sun to rise," she said. READ MORE... RELATED, Teary-eyed De Lima vows to surrender on Friday; vows to continue 'fight"...RELATED(2), Robredo decries 'political harassment' of De Lima...

ALSO: LP hits judge's 'haste' in ordering De Lima's arrest; 'Wrong court!'
[RELATED: Davao hit man says hundreds were killed]

[RELATED(2): Gordon: Lascañas paid to retract statements on Duterte, DDS]


FEBRUARY 23 -LP STALWARTS' FACES "paint a thousand word" -In this Feb. 7, 2017 photo, Liberal Party Sens. Kiko Pangilinan (center), Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros attend the hearing on the proposed revival of the death penalty with Sen. Leila de Lima (right). Pangilnan is the president of Liberal Party. Senate PRIB The Liberal Party criticized on Thursday the judge for her "deplorable" haste in ordering the arrest of Sen. Leila De Lima, claiming she likely did not read the motions filed by the senator's camp. The Liberal Party said in a statement that based on reports it received, Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntilupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 just arrived from Macau on yesterday. The party expressed doubts if she was able to read the motion to quash filed by De Lima's defense team considering it was "thick." "Ang balita namin, kakarating lang ng Macau nitong judge. Ang alam namin makapal ang motion to quash na finile sa kanyang korte. Basahin naman niya ang motion. The haste is deplorable," the party said. READ MORE....RELATED, Davao hit man says hundreds were killed...  RELATED(2) Gordon: Lascañas paid to retract statements on Duterte, DDS...

ALSO: On Leila's call to Cabinet to oust Duterte, 'unfit Presidnet', Esperon dares de Lima - ‘Bring it on’[RELATED: De Lima warned vs ‘inciting to sedition’]
[RELATED(2): Senators believe, downplay plot to oust Rody]



FEBRUARY 23 -President Rodrigo Duterte and National Security Adviser Hermoges Esperon Jr. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/EDWIN BACASMAS)
If this is the worst Sen. Leila de Lima can do to the Duterte administration, then bring it on! Unfazed by the alleged plot to destabilize the government, following the embattled lawmaker’s call to oust the Chief Executive, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Tuesday night said the senator’s action is only aimed at serving her own interest as she is legally under fire for her supposed involvement in illegal drug trade during her stint as the secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ). “People power? To what? To defend one case? The Filipino people are not shallow,” he told reporters in a chance interview at the sidelines of the President’s presence at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
“Do you think they would support her?” He also pointed out that such a move is tolerating narcotics trafficking that apparently went from bad to worse during the previous administration and allegedly due to de Lima’s involvement. READ MORE...RELATED.
De Lima warned vs ‘inciting to sedition’
RELATED(2)
Senators believe, downplay plot to oust Rody...

ALSO: ‘Fight the fear’ under Duterte rule, FLAG’s Jose Diokno, Jr urges Filipinos
[RELATED: Also Diokno congratulates De Lima as she’s set to be Duterte’s ‘first political prisoner’]
[RELATED: Youth group rejects De Lima’s claim that she will be the first political prisoner under Duterte’s regime]


FEBRUARY 23 -ONE OF DE LIMA"S LAWYERS Jose Manuel Diokno is chairman of the Free Legal Aid Group, which was founded by his father, the late Sen. Jose Diokno
Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, son of nationalist and democracy icon Sen. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno, called on Filipinos to “fight the fear” blanketing the country under the Duterte administration, which has waged a bloody war against illegal drugs, expressing concern over the likelihood of the return of authoritarianism. “It is exactly the same fear and violence that was employed with so much effectivity by the Marcos dictatorship,” Diokno, a human rights lawyer like his father, said on Thursday. “There is no difference. The only difference is the branding. The label before was fear of communists. The label now is the fear of drug addicts and drug pushers.” Diokno said that the unabated extrajudicial killings as a result of the war on drug had been eroding the country’s already weak judicial system. READ MORE...RELATED,
Also Diokno congratulates De Lima as she’s set to be Duterte’s ‘first political prisoner...’ RELATED(2) Youth group rejects De Lima’s claim that she will be the first political prisoner under Duterte’s regime...

ALSO: VACC lawyer - Robredo should be cited in contempt for questioning De Lima arrest
[RELATED: Robredo makes surprise House visit amid Duterte impeachment talk]


FEBRUARY 25 -Robredo decries 'political harassment' of De Lima | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com -Robredo had said that De Lima's arrest “is the latest move in a persistent campaign of political harassment being waged against a duly elected member of Congress.” The senator's arrest was ordered by Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204. Topacio insisted that De Lima's arrest was not politically motivated and referred to it as a "momentous event." "Walang magic dito, walang impluwensiya dito," Topacio said. "Hindi siya ikinulong dahil siya ay kritiko ni Pangulong Duterte, that is beside the point." "Sa halip na sagutin nila 'yung mga akusasyon laban sa kanila sa tamang forum, puro technicality nila sa mga hearing, tapos sinasagot nila sa media. Hindi po iyon ang tama eh," he added. In the same forum, Negros Occidental Rep. Jacinto "Jing" Paras said Robredo should be ashamed of making such a comment against a court's order. "Nakakahiya sa isang Vice President, abogado pa naman siya, to call it a political harassment. A judge under the Judiciary system was the one who ordered. Eh parang kinukuwestiyon din niya, kinuwestiyon na niya ang Executive.." Paras said. READ FROM THE BEGINNING...RELATED, Robredo makes surprise House visit amid Duterte impeachment talk...


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Davao hit man heats up senators


SENATE SHOULD NOT BE THE VENUE FOR SOMEONE WHO LIED BEFORE says Sen. Richard Gordon —JOSEPH VIDAL/PRIB

MANILA, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 (INQUIRER) By: Christine O. Avendaño - Reporter / @10avendanoINQ February 23, 2017 -A Senate inquiry into the confession of a former leader of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) will proceed despite opposition from President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies.

A day after Mr. Duterte’s supporters lost a vote on the inquiry, Sen. Richard Gordon took the floor on Wednesday and insisted that the Senate should not be the venue for someone who had apparently lied to senators.

On Tuesday, 10 of 22 senators present voted for an inquiry to hear the testimony of retired SPO3 Arturo (not Arthur as previously reported) Lascañas, who disclosed during a news conference on Monday that he had been a hit man for the DDS, which he said was under the control and pay of Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.

Lascañas’ public confession came four months after his testimony to Gordon’s justice committee denying the existence of the DDS and confessed hit man Edgar Matobato’s insistence that he was a member of the hit squad.

READ MORE...

Lacson’s job

In the end, Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s committee on public order and dangerous drugs got the job of investigating Lascañas’ claims.

Lacson said he was now preparing for the inquiry.

“I’m coordinating with the office of the proponent, Sen. (Antonio) Trillanes, for the submission of Lascañas’ sworn statement and thereafter, find out who we will invite as resource persons then I will schedule a hearing,” he said in a text message.

Lacson said he would schedule the hearing in compliance with the three-day notice rule just as long he had a copy of Lascañas’ sworn statement.

Taking the floor, Gordon reminded the senators that Lascañas testified to his committee last year that Matobato’s testimony on the existence of the DDS was “all lies.”

“You come here and you lie, you get only one chance. You don’t get a second chance,” he said.

He added that he couldn’t care less that Lascañas was pointing a finger at President Duterte, but the former policeman should have done it last year.

“When he failed to do that, he lied to the Senate,” Gordon said.

He said Lascañas’ action was a slap not on him but on the Senate.

He repeatedly said that Lascañas should go to the Ombudsman instead.

Lascañas should be heard

Sen. Grace Poe disagreed with Gordon, saying the Senate should hear Lascañas.

“Making (Lascañas) come here to speak is not for the benefit of this person … but is also for the benefit of those of us who would like to know what made him change his mind and why he is doing so,” Poe said on the floor.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the chamber was not powerless over those who lied and that it could punish liars “so that the Senate will not be lied to” again.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano stood up to insist that the justice committee should handle the Lascañas testimony, as it was the one that opened the inquiry into extrajudicial killings, something that Trillanes did not agree with.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III later moved for the rules committee to study Gordon’s speech and Cayetano’s insistence on a justice committee inquiry.

Malacañang pressure

Sen. Leila de Lima said there was pressure from Malacañang, which she described as in “panic mode,” on the Senate not to hear Lascañas.

De Lima said just like in the case of Matobato, President Duterte was “silent” after Lascañas’ confession.

“Because he knows it’s true,” she said of the President.

De Lima said the Palace apparently did not expect the outcome of the Senate vote on Tuesday, adding that the Palace was surprised at its loss.

“They were surprised that some of the senators, whom they expected to vote with them against the hearing on Lascañas, abstained instead. That’s why they are in panic mode,” she said.

The senators who voted for the inquiry were Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Risa Hontiveros, Pangilinan, Trillanes, Ralph Recto, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva and De Lima.

Among those who voted against an inquiry were Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar, Sherwin Gatchalian, Gregorio Honasan II and Gordon.

Senators Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Sotto and Lacson abstained.

Poe and Cayetano were absent from the caucus where the vote was taken.

No Palace pressure

In a text message to the Inquirer, Sotto denied there was pressure from Malacañang.

He said he and two other senators met with Mr. Duterte on Tuesday night but the discussion was about the campaign against drugs.

“Lascañas was not even a highlight,” he said.

In a post on Twitter, Sotto said De Lima’s claim about pressure from the Palace was “absolutely false.”

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Muslim leader dismisses Lascañas’ mosque-bombing claim By: Jeoffrey Maitem - @inquirerdotnetInquirer Mindanao / 03:46 PM February 22, 2017


‘DDS’ leader: Duterte ordered bombing of mosques By: Maila Ager - Reporter / @MAgerINQINQUIRER.net / 12:09 PM February 20, 2017  Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (left) listens to SPO3 Arturo Lascañas as the former Davao City policeman faces the media and claimed the existence of the Davao Death Squad during a press conference at the Senate on Monday, Then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte paid members of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) P300,000 after the group bombed several mosques in the province in 1993 upon his orders, a former Davao policeman claimed on Monday. SPO3 Arturo Lascañas, who claimed to be one of the leaders of the DDS, said he was confirming Edgardo Matobato’s testimony at the Senate that it was the then Davao mayor who ordered the bombing of the mosques. Feb. 20, 2017. INQUIRER FILE / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — An influential Muslim religious leader in Mindanao dismissed on Wednesday the revelation made by an ex-police officer that then Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the bombing of mosques in Davao City.

Sheikh Norulam Abdullah, the leader of Muslim Imams in Maguindanao and Cotabato City, told the Inquirer by phone that there had been no indication–based on past analysis–that Duterte was involved in the mosque attacks in Davao City following the San Pedro Cathedral blast that killed six and wounded over 130 persons in 1993.

SPO3 Arturo Lascañas had claimed that Duterte paid members of the so-called Davao Death Squad P300,000 after the group bombed several mosques in the Davao provinces in 1993 in retaliation of the church blast.

READ: ‘DDS’ leader: Duterte ordered bombing of mosques

The former police officer said the DDS was divided into three groups and his group was assigned to bomb a mosque along the Diversion Road in Davao City.

Abdullah said they had an idea on who was behind the attack but would not say who. He also said Lascañas statement was garbage aimed at destroying the good relationship between Duterte and the Muslim community.

“It’s just part of destabilization by the camps of Senators Laila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes III against the present administration,” Abdullah said.

READ: Palace: Lascañas’ claims ‘part of a larger noise’

At the same time, the Muslim cleric said they fully support Duterte’s war against drugs, which already left more than 7,000 people dead since last year.

“In humanitarian and Islamic law, illegal drugs are prohibited. It slowly and indirectly kill innocent people. We are supporting the war against drugs,” he said. CDG

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RELATED(2) FROM THE MA NILA STANDARD

Inmates offered P100m to drop testimony; Inmates told to recant before Feb 25 - Aguirre posted February 24, 2017 at 12:01 am by Rey E. Requejo and Macon Ramos-Araneta


Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II

JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday said high-profile inmates who implicated Senator Leila de Lima in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison have been offered P100 million in exchange for recanting their testimony against her. Aguirre said the offer was made by a former senator and an incumbent congressman of the Liberal Party in Laguna, purportedly to convince the eight inmates currently being detained at the Armed Forces of the Philippines custodial center in Camp Aguinaldo.

“The inmates were told that they have to recant before February 25, 2017,” Aguirre said.

However, the Justice secretary did not name the LP politicians, but vowed to investigate the bribe that he said the inmates rejected.

“This is tampering of the highest level. We are taking the matter very seriously and we will go after those who are responsible,” Aguirre said, calling the two politicians “well-funded and evidently without scruples.”

Based on information received by his office, Aguirre said the offer first was made to the inmates through a phone call Wednesday afternoon.

“The second offer was made through [former Police Inspector Clarence] Dongail, another inmate incarcerated at the AFP Custodial Center this [Thursday] morning. In both instances, the inmates said no,” he said.

Aguirre said the bribe was made in a mobile phone conversation on loud speaker.

Asked for the significance of the Feb. 25 deadline in the offer, Aguirre reiterated the information they received about a concerted effort to gather mass support for the gathering of critics of the Duterte administration in 31st anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power revolution.

Among the inmates who testified against De Lima are Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Aceñas Dureno, Vicenty Sy, Jojo Baligad and Wu Tuan Yuan or Peter Co.

They have been excluded in the drug charges filed by the DoJ against De Lima and several others before the Muntinlupa regional trial courts.

Meanwhile, prosecutors of the Department of Justice asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court to defer the hearing today on the motion of De Lima seeking dismissal of the drug trafficking charges and suspension of proceedings pending judicial determination of probable cause.

The DoJ team asked the RTC branches 204, 205 and 206 to instead reset the hearing to next Friday, March 3, because they have to attend Mandatory Continuing Legal Education classes today.

De Lima on Thursday challenged Aguirre to prove his claim or shut up if he had no proof.

In a statement, De Lima told Aguirre to show proof of the attempted bribery.

“I dare Aguirre to name names and show proof, otherwise he too should shut up,” De Lima said.

She described Aguirre’s claim as “another outlandish and hysterical story being fed to the media.”

“I could not help but laugh at this... Obviously, it should not warrant any air time or editorial space unless Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre can provide verifiable proof, and not just mere hearsay,” De Lima said.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Muntinlupa RTC orders arrest of De Lima, two others Published February 23, 2017 4:12pm Updated February 23, 2017 5:18pm By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News


A Muntinlupa City judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of Senator Leila De Lima for one of the three drug trafficking cases filed by the Department of Justice in relation to her alleged participation in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison.

Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 issued the arrest warrants for De Lima and her co-accused, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.

Cases for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act or Republic Act 9165 are non-bailable.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II welcomed the development, saying in a television interview that the arrest order was "expected because we filed a strong case."

Citing Ragos' affidavit, the DOJ alleged that De Lima received around P10 million from drug payoffs from November 2012 to January 2013. Ragos said he delivered, along with aide Jovencio Ablen Jr., the money to De Lima's house in Parañaque City.

READ MORE...

"In December 2012, he (Ragos) received a call to deliver a plastic bag containing money from (convict) Peter Co to Dayan. The bag was left on his bedside at the BuCor quarters. He and Ablen went to the house of De Lima, where he handed the bag to Dayan," the DOJ said in a joint resolution.

"On four occasions in January 2013, he received P1.7 million from Ablen broken down as follows: P1 million, P300,000 and two P200,000, all of which came from inmates. He delivered the money to Dayan at De Lima's house," it added.

Pending motion

De Lima's lawyer Alex Padilla noted that her camp still has a pending motion to the Muntinlupa RTC to dismiss De Lima's charges, insisting the court should have decided on their motion first before issuing an arrest warrant.

"Alam niyo ang nakakatawa dito ay tinutuloy pa rin yung hearing bukas ng aming motion to quash. Supposedly dapat magrurule pa ang korte dun bago mag-issue ng warrant e ito nag-issue na ng warrant," Padilla said in an interview on Balita Pilipinas.

Padilla added even the prosecutor asked for a postponement of the hearing until Friday next week.

"Ang prosecutor humingi ng isang linggo postponement hanggang next Friday. Kaya hindi ko maisip kung bakit nag-issue ng warrant kaagad 'yung husgado na parang meron nang probable cause kahit hindi pa niya nakikita yung mga ebidensya," he said.

Padilla said the court is seemingly rushing the case of De Lima, saying it issued a warrant without hearing the arguments of both parties.

"Hindi pa nadidinig, wala pang arguments, meron pang first hearing, tapos inunahan na niya," Padilla said.

"Nagkaroon siya ng desisyon nang hindi pinapakinggan yung mga partido. Nagmamadali na hindi naman dapat imadali itong kaso na ito," he added.

Padilla said they are considering filing either a motion for reconsideration or raising the case to the Supreme Court.

"Iba na rin ang naiisip namin na siguro paguusapan namin kung dapat na kaming umakyat sa Korte Suprema o humingi ng motion for reconsideration sa husgado mismo," he said.

"Kaya kung ako ang itatanong gusto ko sanang iangat yan sa Korte Suprema para makita kung naging bias itong judge na to pero siyempre paguusapan namin at baka naman pwede bukas ay maisalba," Padilla added.

Other cases

De Lima is also facing separate cases for violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act at the Muntinlupa City RTC Branches 205 and 206.

The cases hinge on the testimony of several detainees at the national penitentiary that the lawmaker accepted money from drug syndicates for her senatorial campaign and facilitated a drug-trading operation while she was justice secretary.

The embattled senator has dismissed the cases as politically motivated which she said was a result of being openly critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed more than 7,000 lives since he took power in June last year.

She also said only the Office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over the cases since she is an elected official.

De Lima had also asked the courts to defer the issuance of arrest warrants pending resolution on her motions to dismiss the cases for lack of jurisdiction and merit. —NB/JST, GMA News

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

RELATED FROM THE NY TIMES ONLINE

Leila de Lima, Critic of Duterte, Is Arrested in the Philippines By FELIPE VILLAMORFEB. 23, 2017


Senator Leila De Lima leaving the Philippine Senate in Pasay City, south of Manila, on Thursday. Credit Joseph Vidal/Philippines Senate, via European Pressphoto Agency

MANILA — A Philippine senator who had been the leading domestic critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody antidrug campaign was arrested Friday on charges that she took bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers.

The senator, Leila de Lima, has denied the charges, describing them as political persecution. A Philippine court ordered her arrest on Thursday, and she went home Thursday night to say goodbye to her family.

Speaking to journalists on Friday before she was led away, Ms. de Lima was combative. “These are all lies,” she said of the charges. “The truth will come out at the right time. If they think they can stop me from fighting these daily murders, they are wrong.”

Ms. de Lima has been a fierce opponent of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on users and sellers of narcotics, under which thousands of people have been killed by the police or by vigilantes since Mr. Duterte took office in June. Last year, a Senate panel led by Ms. de Lima heard testimony from a professed hit man, Edgar Matobato, who said he belonged to a death squad that had been overseen by Mr. Duterte when Mr. Duterte was mayor of Davao City.

Soon after that testimony, Ms. de Lima was removed from her post as chairwoman of the Senate panel. Another committee, in the Philippine House of Representatives, soon began hearings at which imprisoned drug kingpins testified that they had given Ms. de Lima bribes through her driver and bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan. Mr. Dayan testified that he had collected the money on the senator’s behalf.

Embarrassing details of a romantic affair between Mr. Dayan and Ms. de Lima were also disclosed at the hearings, in what the senator called part of a campaign by the Duterte administration to harass and silence her.

The charges against Ms. de Lima were brought by the Philippine Justice Department, which is headed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, a fraternity brother of Mr. Duterte who presided over the House hearings. The Justice Department says that Ms. de Lima used the drug money for her Senate campaign last year, and that the inmates who gave it to her received special privileges in return.

Mr. Duterte’s chief legal adviser, Salvador Panelo, said Thursday that “the law of karma finally caught up” with Ms. de Lima.

“She should welcome this development herself, as she is now given the opportunity to refute any and all the allegations and/or evidence to be presented by the prosecution against her,” Mr. Panelo said. “This is where the real battle begins, and not in the media that she relishes to use against the president.”

Ms. de Lima’s opposition Liberal Party said her case should have been handled by an anticorruption court that hears accusations against government officials, not by the regular trial court that issued the warrant.

“The haste is deplorable,” the party said in a statement. “This arrest is purely a political vendetta and has no place in a justice system that upholds the rule of law.”

The party also said that it feared for Ms. de Lima’s life, noting that a mayor whom Mr. Duterte accused last year of drug trafficking was gunned down in his jail cell by police officers, who later said the mayor had pulled a gun during a search.

Ms. de Lima’s arrest came just days after a retired police officer said that he had led the death squad in Davao that Mr. Matobato described in his testimony last year, and that he had acted on the direct orders of the mayor, Mr. Duterte. A presidential spokesman denied the accusation.

A version of this article appears in print on February 24, 2017, on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Filipino Senator, Foe of Duterte, Accused of Graft. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Ronnie Dayan arrested in Pangasinan; to be detained in Muntinlupa By: Gabriel Cardinoza - @inquirerdotnetInquirer Northern Luzon / 10:40 PM February 23, 2017


Driver/bodyguard Ronnie Dayan takes oath during the Congress hearing on illegal drug trade in National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.INQUIRER PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

DAGUPAN CITY — Ronnie Dayan, the former driver of Senator Leila de Lima, is in police custody following his arrest Thursday night (Feb. 23) in Urbiztondo town in Pangasinan province.

Chief Inspector Joshua Maximo, Urbiztondo police chief, said Dayan did not resist when the arrest warrant issued by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (Branch 204) Executive Judge Juanita Guerrero was served to him at about 7 p.m. in his house at Galarin village.

“Dayan said he expected the arrest because he saw it on TV earlier today,” said Maximo in a telephone interview.

Dayan and Rafael Ragos, former chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and National Bureau of Investigation deputy director, are De Lima’s co-accused in a complaint linking them to drug trafficking activities inside the New Bilibid Prison.

Dayan will be taken to Metro Manila, where he will appear before the judge that issued the arrest warrant, according to Maximo. Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Judge Guerrero issued the warrant ahead of the Friday (Feb. 24) hearings set by three RTC branches to hear De Lima’s motion to dismiss these charges.

Dayan was arrested last year by the police in La Union where he had been hiding, after he snubbed a Senate inquiry into drug activities inside the national penitentiary. He returned to Urbiztondo after he testifying at the Senate. SFM


GMA NEWS NETWORK

De Lima evaded arrest at home, wants to spend the night at Senate, says Bato insisted on her arrest Published February 23, 2017 10:29pm Updated February 23, 2017 10:35pm


FEBRUARY 23 -PHOTO -Leila de Lima is escorted out of the Philippine Senate premises following a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Pasay City, Philippines. FROM PHILSTAR

Senator Leila De Lima on Thursday said she plans to spend the evening at her office in the Senate before she surrenders on Friday morning.

She addressed reporters after evading arrest at her home hours after a Muntinlupa court issued a warrant in connection with a drug trafficking case against her

"What is the difference between tonight and tomorrow morning?" she said, describing it as "unusual" and "unjust."

"Hindi naman ako tatakas. Ready naman akong arestuhin."

De Lima said she didn't want to be arrested in front of her family. She added she felt "less safe" if she were arrested at night.

"I'll just stay here sa Senado and wait for the sun to rise," she said.

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De Lima said Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Interior Secretary Ismael Sueño agreed that she would be arrested on Friday. But she said Philippine National Police Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa ordered her arrest anyway, insinuating that someone higher was involved in the decision.

"The fact that si Gen. Dela Rosa mismo ang nagdesisyon," she said. "May nag-overrule na mas mataas."

De Lima said Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Interior Secretary Ismael Sueño agreed that she would be arrested on Friday. But she said Philippine National Police Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa ordered her arrest anyway, insinuating that someone higher was involved in the desisyon.

Pimentel earlier indicated that De Lima could not be arrested without coordination between Senate security and the police.

"Bawal na arestuhin sa premises ng Senado, na basta basta lang na walang coordination," Pimentel said, saying that the lawmaker's safety was also their concern.

"'Di pwedeng pasukin lang ng pulis diyan," he added.

Arrest attempt

De Lima addressed reporters moments after a team sent by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group showed up at her home to arrest her. The convoy of police officers arrived at De Lima's subdivision in Paranque a few minutes before 10 p.m.

The police arrived after three sport utility vehicles that was part of De Lima's convoy left the subdivision.

In a news conference earlier in the evening, De Lima expressed hope to spend one last night with her family at home.

"Wala po akong balak magtago dahil haharapin ko ang mga kaso na 'yan... Ninanais ko muna po na umuwi muna para makapiling ko muna po... ang aking pamilya at para kunin ko na po ang mga dadalhin kong gamit sa kulungan," De Lima said.

"Bukas, dito ko po sa Senado hihintayin ang arresting team. Hihintayin ko po sila. Kusa po akong susuko sa kanila," she added.

But the CIDG insisted that it was going to arrest De Lima as soon as it received a copy of the warrant.

Back at the Senate, De Lima lamented not being able to see her family during her quick trip home. —with Anna Felicia Bajo/JST, GMA News

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Teary-eyed De Lima vows to surrender on Friday By Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) | Updated February 23, 2017 - 8:17pm 13 766 googleplus0 0


Opposition Senator Leila de Lima emotionally addresses the media after a warrant for her arrest was issued by a regional trial court Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The Philippine court issued an arrest warrant on drug charges for the senator and former top human rights official who is one of the most vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs. De Lima has vehemently denied the charges, which she says are part of Duterte's attempt to intimidate critics of his crackdown, which has left more than 7,000 drug suspects dead. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) — Sen. Leila De Lima vowed on Thursday night that she would surrender on Friday morning after a Muntinlupa court ordered her arrest.

At a televised press briefing at the Senate, a visibly emotional De Lima declared that she would face cases against her, dousing fears that she would try to escape.

De Lima said that she would go home tonight to be with her family and prepare the things that she would bring to prison.

"Ninanais ko muna po na umuwi muna para makapiling ko muna po- ang aking pamilya" De Lima said, stopping in midsentence to compose herself and contain her welling emotions.

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Senator Leila de Lima is escorted by Senate security to address the media after a warrant for her arrest was issued by a regional trial court Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. AP/Bullit Marquez

De Lima continued: "Para kunin ko na po yung mga dadalhin kong gamit sa kulungan."

She assured the public that she would return to the Senate the following morning to face her arresting team.

"Katulad po ng nasabi ko dati wala po akong balak takasan yang mga kaso ko. Wala po akong balak magtago dahil haharapin ko po ang mga kaso na yan," De Lima said.

The senator, who flanked by fellow Liberal Party Sens. Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Bam Aquino, said she would voluntarily present herself to arresting officers.

An arrest warrant by issued by Judge Juanita Guerrero of Branch 204 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa on Thursday afternoon after she found probable cause in the case that was raffled off to her court.

Ordered arrested were the senator, former Bureau of Corrections officer in charge Rafael Ragos and her former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan.

'DEPLORABLE HASTE'

The Liberal Party condemned the "deplorable haste" with which the judge issued the arrest order, questioning if she was even able to read the "thick motion to quash" filed by De Lima's lawyers.

Alex Padilla, a lawyer for De Lima, also questioned the integrity of the court, saying that it had "practically thrown away their independence."

She also asked for prayers for her safety and security.

"Humihingi lang po ako na inyong dasal na sana maging safe and secure ako saan man nila ako dalhin, saan man nila ako ikukulong," she said.

De Lima also questioned the circumstances under which the arrest order was issued considering that a hearing was set for their camp's motion to quash.

She added that the prosecution panel even asked that the hearing be moved to the first week of March.

She said that it was already up to her lawyers to file the remedies against her "questionable" arrest order.

In the end, De Lima promised to continue fighting on.

"Tuloy po ang laban ni Leila De Lima," she declared.

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Robredo decries 'political harassment' of De Lima By Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) | Updated February 24, 2017 - 10:28am 1 90 googleplus0 0


Vice Preside Leni Robredo criticized the government for what she calls "political harassment" against Sen. Leila De Lima. File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday decried what she called "political harassment" by the administration against Sen. Leila De Lima.

In a statement, Robredo said that De Lima's arrest Friday was part of a political agenda and not a result of an "independent, unbiased" legal process.

Robredo said that De Lima's political harassment began soon after she started an investigation into the extrajudicial killings that transpired in the wake of the administration's anti-drugs campaign.

"The arrest of Senator Leila de Lima is the latest move in a persistent campaign of political harassment being waged against a duly-elected member of Congress," the vice president said.

De Lima turned herself in to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group led by Chief Superintendent Roel Obusan on Friday morning after spending the night at her office in the Senate. A Muntinlupa court issued a warrant for her arrest on drug charges Thursday afternoon.

Robredo said authorities used contradicting testimonies from "criminals"—testimony against her came from New Bilibid Prison inmates whom she allegedly collected money from for her senatorial campaign in 2016—and undermined due process to hasten the issuance of the arrest order against De Lima.

Although charges were filed by the Department of Justice, arrest warrants are issued by courts, which are part of a separate branch of the government.

Robredo invited the public to "religiously" follow and scrutinize De Lima's case.

Robredo called on the public to continue fighting for the right to speak contrary views, which she said is the foundation of the country's strength as a free and democratic nation.

"Our history as a nation is marred by instances where government officials use the processes of criminal justice to cow, silence, and eliminate critics," the vice president said.

Robredo continued: "We cannot, and we must not, stand by and let this happen again. We must make sure that our government institutions remain uncorrupted and independent of each other, particularly when it comes to checks and balances in pursuit of accountability."

LP senators: We fear for her life and security De Lima's Liberal Party colleagues at the Senate meanwhile said that they are worried for De Lima's safety in government custody.

"We fear for Senator Leila's life and security given what happened to Albuera Mayor [Rolando] Espinosa and Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo who were both killed in police-controlled facilities," Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Bam Aquino said in a joint statement.

Espinosa was killed in November while police were serving a warrant to search his cell at a Leyte provincial jail. Espinosa, father of alleged drug lord Rolan "Kerwin" Espinosa, had been in police custody over drug and firearms charges. Police said he fired at them, forcing them to shoot back.

Jee Ick-joo, meanwhile, was abducted and killed in by rogue police officers under the guise of an anti-drug operation last October. PO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, a suspect in the case, allegedly called Jee's wife to demand ransom even though the businessman had already been killed. Jee was killed in Camp Crame, the national police headquarters.


PHILSTAR

LP hits judge's 'haste' in ordering De Lima's arrest By Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) | Updated February 23, 2017 - 7:35pm 6 284 googleplus0 0


FEBRUARY 23 -LP STALWARTS' -In this Feb. 7, 2017 photo, Liberal Party Sens. Kiko Pangilinan (center), Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros attend the hearing on the proposed revival of the death penalty with Sen. Leila de Lima (right). Pangilnan is the president of Liberal Party. Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party criticized on Thursday the judge for her "deplorable" haste in ordering the arrest of Sen. Leila De Lima, claiming she likely did not read the motions filed by the senator's camp.

The Liberal Party said in a statement that based on reports it received, Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntilupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 just arrived from Macau on yesterday.

The party expressed doubts if she was able to read the motion to quash filed by De Lima's defense team considering it was "thick."

"Ang balita namin, kakarating lang ng Macau nitong judge. Ang alam namin makapal ang motion to quash na finile sa kanyang korte. Basahin naman niya ang motion. The haste is deplorable," the party said.

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An arrest order was issued by Guerrero on Thursday afternoon following the filing of drug charges against her last week.

The party also feared for the life of the senator once she was taken into detention.

"We fear for Sen. Leila’s life and security given what happened to Albuera Mayor Espinosa and Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, who were both killed inside police-controlled facilities," the party said.

The Liberal Party likewise condemned what it called the "political persecution of brave administration critic" De Lima, echoing the view of human rights groups that back the senator's cry against the Duterte government's brutal war on drugs.

Wrong court, says LP

The party reiterated its earlier stand that the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, not the RTC, has jurisdiction over her cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

It argued that since the alleged crimes were committed during her time as justice secretary the proper venue for her charges was the anti-graft court.

"We assert that the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases against public officers cognizable by the Sandiganbayan," the statement read. "Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which is the DOJ's case against Sen. De Lima, falls under "other offenses committed by public officials" listed in the Sandiganbayan Law."

The LP also described the impending arrest of De Lima as "purely political vendetta."

"[The arrest] has no place in justice system that upholds the rule of law. This is condemnable," the party said.

The party added that if the arrest order was served it would be a violation of legal proceedings and hence the constitutional right to due process.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Davao hit man says hundreds were killed By: Christine O. Avendaño - Reporter / @10avendanoINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:00 AM February 22, 2017


Arthur Lascañas —GRIG C.MONTEGRANDE

The Senate will open an inquiry into the confession of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas that he served as hit man for a death squad under the control and pay of President Duterte when the Chief Executive was mayor of Davao City.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, head of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said on Tuesday that a date for the inquiry would be set next week.

Lascañas’ lawyer Alex Padilla said the former policeman had spoken about “hundreds of killings” by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

In a news conference in the Senate on Monday, Lascañas said the DDS was real and that Mr. Duterte, when he was mayor of Davao, ordered and paid him and other hit men to kill criminals and opponents, including a kidnapping suspect, his family and radio commentator Juan Pala Jr.

“If you are listening [to his narration], he is talking about hundreds of killings,” Padilla, of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), said on Tuesday.

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Detailed in affidavit

He said the killings that Lascañas mentioned during the news conference on Monday were detailed in an affidavit that he was executing and that Lascañas was likely to execute another affidavit to detail other killings.

“Some [of the killings] are not as detailed as others,” Padilla said, explaining that this was understandable given the passage of time.

Confessed DDS leader: Davao City police killed entire family

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III called a caucus during the start of Tuesday’s session but when the senators returned, Pimentel adjourned the session and, like the other senators, kept quiet about what happened during the closed meeting.

All Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon could tell reporters was that the Senate referral to Lacson’s committee “stands.”

Senate sources explained to the Inquirer what happened during the caucus, saying Sen. Richard Gordon opposed an inquiry and that if there should be an inquiry it should be his justice committee that should conduct it, since it investigated the Davao killings last year.

The sources said a senator brought a motion for a vote on an inquiry. Ten senators voted for an inquiry, while seven voted against it.

Those who voted for an inquiry were Senators Bam Aquino, Leila de Lima, Drilon, Francis Escudero, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Ralph Recto, Sonny Angara and Joel Villanueva.

Among the seven who voted against an inquiry were Senators Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar, Sherwin Gatchalian and Gregorio Honasan.

Not present in the caucus were Senators Grace Poe and Alan Peter Cayetano.

Lacson, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito abstained.

Saying he was ending his “blind obedience and loyalty” to Mr. Duterte, Lascañas said on Monday he was one of the leaders of DDS that was under the control and pay of the mayor and they killed many people, including Pala and a suspected drug lord and his entire family.

The retired policeman also confessed to having his two brothers who were involved in the illegal drug trade killed because he believed so much in the mayor’s drug campaign, a decision that he said he regretted.

The Senate referred Lascañas’ confession to Lacson’s committee on Monday.

First hearing


Sen. Panfilo Lacson Photo by ALEXIS CORPUZ/Philippine Daily Inquirer

Before the caucus on Tuesday, Lacson said he would set the first hearing next week and the panel would make sure it would get the former police officer’s sworn statement and affidavit.

Among those he planned to call to the hearing were the former chief of police of Davao City and Mr. Duterte’s former aide, SPO4 Sonny Buenaventura, whom Lascañas claimed told him to get a P1-million bonus from the mayor for the killing of Pala on Sept. 6, 2003.

Lacson said it was not only Trillanes who called for an inquiry, but also other senators.

Among those were Poe, Hontiveros and Aquino who urged the Senate to listen to what Lascañas had to say.

Poe told reporters she wanted to find out why Lascañas, who testified to the Senate justice committee last year that the DDS did not exist, turned around.

“The Senate should show it’s impartial and transparent … and then there we can see if Lascañas was telling the truth,” Aquino told reporters.

Hontiveros said the Senate “must respond to the public clamor for truth and accountability.”

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RELATED(2) FROM THE INQUIRER

Gordon: Lascañas paid to retract statements on Duterte, DDS By: Maila Ager - Reporter / @MAgerINQINQUIRER.net / 07:22 PM February 22, 2017


Sen. Richard Gordon.INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/LYN RILLON

A fuming Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday accused a witness of getting paid to recant his testimony and turn against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Taking the floor, Gordon lambasted retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas for lying before the Senate when he testified last year before the committee on justice and human rights, which he chairs, and denied the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

But in a press conference in the Senate last Monday, Lascañas recanted his testimony and claimed that the DDS was real and that its members were paid by then Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte to kill criminals.

“Dapat nagalit si Senator Leila de Lima, nagsinungaling sa kanya yung testigo e (Senator Leila de Lima should have been mad, the witness lied to her) when he said the DDS is just media hype, that DDS does not exist, that he had nothing to do with the mosque’s bombing…” Gordon said.

De Lima was the chair of the justice committee when she initiated the probe on alleged extrajudicial killings in the country until he was unseated and replaced by Gordon.

“My Goodness, Mr. President. Now he says he bombed them? And you wanna believe this man? This man who lies frequently, who claims he is paid to murder? He is paid now to talk? Can I ask that question? No, I will not ask that question. I’m sure, I’ll say you are now paid that’s why you’re here and I don’t think you can blame me if I said that. Ako lang ho yun, huwag na yung iba (That’s my opinion, leave the others alone),” Gordon said.

During the press conference, Lascañas claimed that DDS members were paid from P20,000 to P100,000 by Duterte to kill criminals depending on the targets The witness also accused the former mayor of allegedly ordering the bombing of Muslim mosques in 1993.

READ: ‘DDS’ leader: Duterte ordered bombing of mosques

Despite Gordon’s strong objection, the Senate had referred the issue for investigation to the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Lacson said he is already coordinating with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to find out who could be invited as resource persons in the hearing. It was Trillanes, who moved to have the matter referred to Lacson’s panel. RAM


TRIBUNE

Esperon dares de Lima: ‘Bring it on’ Written by Tribune Wires Thursday, 23 February 2017 00:00 By Ted Tuvera and Charlie V. Manalo


President Rodrigo Duterte and National Security Adviser Hermoges Esperon Jr. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/EDWIN BACASMAS)

If this is the worst Sen. Leila de Lima can do to the Duterte administration, then bring it on!

Unfazed by the alleged plot to destabilize the government, following the embattled lawmaker’s call to oust the Chief Executive, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Tuesday night said the senator’s action is only aimed at serving her own interest as she is legally under fire for her supposed involvement in illegal drug trade during her stint as the secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ).

“People power? To what? To defend one case? The Filipino people are not shallow,” he told reporters in a chance interview at the sidelines of the President’s presence at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

“Do you think they would support her?”

He also pointed out that such a move is tolerating narcotics trafficking that apparently went from bad to worse during the previous administration and allegedly due to de Lima’s involvement.

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“Drug trading? Narcotics? You will use that to serve as your defense?” he asked the controversial lawmaker.

The top security official also said he is not taking the scheduled Edsa people power protest as serious destabilization effort but stressed they are not letting their guard down as he assured any plot to overthrow the government will not succeed.

“If ever there are, leave it to us. We’ll monitor it. We will be on top of the situation,” Esperon said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, said it has yet to monitor any destabilization attempts against the administration as it maintained that the military is not keen on participating in such activities.

“So far, we have not monitored any destabilization plot. The AFP’s morale is high. The AFP is solid and shall continue to do its mandate of protecting the people and the state,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año stressed.

The military’s refusal to participate in such unconstitutional activities can be attributed to the fact that all officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP are now feeling the full support of the national leadership, he added.

“We can feel the full support of the national leadership as we perform our tasks,” the military chief said.

Also, the gestures made President Rodrigo Duterte, which include visiting wounded troops in hospital, personally condoling with the families of slain soldiers, and dropping by in faraway camps and bases, despite his hectic schedule, are all appreciated by military personnel from top to the bottom, Año added.

Año issued the statement despite earlier claims by presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar who said revelations made by SPO3 Arturo Lascañas, claiming he and other police officers were paid to do vigilante killings in Davao City, are part of this plot.

He, however said the AFP is ready to respond decisively against such threats.

Play safe



Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, opted to play safe on the calls of de Lima, her partymate in the Liberal Party, and a lawyers’ group to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte on the basis of statement of Lacañas linking the Chief Executive to the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and to a number of summary executions.

“I have heard bits and pieces of his (Lascañas) statements in his press conference in the news. And I’m happy the Senate voted to reopen the hearing (on the DDS),” said Robredo during a chance interview at the House of Representatives.

“Through then, we can assess his credibility, the credibility of his statement, if we are given the opportunity to assess it,” she added.

Asked if she believed Lascañas’ statement can be grounds for Duterte’s impeachment, Robredo said it would depend on the outcome of the Senate inquiry.

“It all depends on what he will say. As I have said, the investigation has yet to start. I think we can determine if it can be ground (for impeachment) once the investigation is already ongoing,” she said.

Asked further to comment on the accusation Lascañas had flip-flopped on his earlier testimony, Robredo retorted it also can not be determined yet as the probe has yet to open.

“It’s hard to answer that at this point as the investigation has yet to start,” she said.

'IGNORANT OF THE LAW'

However, a senior member of the House of Representatives said Robredo apparently was ignorant of the law.

“Even if Lascañas will declare throughout the reopening of the probe that the President is responsible for the DDS, it cannot in any way be used as a basis for impeachment as it is in no way related to the Office of the President,” said the lawmaker who requested anonymity.

“She is a lawyer and she should know the law, particularly the ones which pertains to the impeachment process as her office is also an impeachable office,” said The Tribune source.

With regard to the flip-flopping issue, the lawmaker said Robredo need not wait for the probe to start to determine whether Lascañas has flip-flopped or not.

“What is she saying wait for the probe to start to determine whether Lascañas flip-flopped or not? It was actually Lascañas’ flip-flopping which prompted the Senate to reopen the investigation on the DDS,” said the lawmaker.

Meanwhile, at a press conference the other day, Andanar said he may have out-scooped the government and the military as he has access to classified intelligence reports that does not reach the desks of the state’s top security officials.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

De Lima warned vs ‘inciting to sedition’ By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 23, 2017 - 12:00am 1 5 googleplus1 1


Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said De Lima could again be held liable for calling on the people to rise up against the President, who she branded as a “psychopathic murderer and dictator” during a press conference at the Senate on Tuesday. The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Leila de Lima may be up for yet another criminal case following her strong statements against President Duterte.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said De Lima could again be held liable for calling on the people to rise up against the President, who she branded as a “psychopathic murderer and dictator” during a press conference at the Senate on Tuesday.

De Lima is already facing charges of drug trafficking.

“She should be careful about her statements, she was already inciting to sedition,” Aguirre stressed yesterday.

Inciting to sedition is an offense punishable under Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code and is committed by a person inciting others to accomplish any of the acts which constitute sedition, “either by speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, cartoons, banners or other representations tending to the same end.”

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It also involves uttering seditious words or speeches against the government or its officials.

Aguirre cited De Lima’s statements calling for public action against Duterte.

De Lima was quoted urging the public to speak out against crimes allegedly being committed by the President, although she did not call for armed struggle to oust him.

De Lima said Duterte, whom she accused of being liable for the killings of the Davao death squad, is “the number one criminal in the Philippines, if not the world.”

In Duterte’s defense, Aguirre said De Lima’s allegations were “totally baseless.”

Aguirre said he sympathizes with De Lima who, he said, “is under a lot of pressure lately.”

He called on De Lima to just face the cases in court.

“As a former secretary of justice, Senator De Lima should know that the real battle is in the courts. She should do the fighting there, answer all the charges against her there and present credible evidence in her defense there and not in a press conference,” he said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida echoed Aguirre’s position.

“Senator De Lima’s latest tirades against President Duterte and the government clearly show why she is the high priestess of hypocrisy,” Calida said in a statement.

“She should stop acting like a vacuous victim and crybaby. My unsolicited advice to her is: face the charges with equanimity and dignity befitting a senator,” he added.

Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra sees no cause for alarm over De Lima’s call for the people to come out to show disgust over Duterte.

“No, there’s nothing criminal about that. If it’s inciting to rise up in arms against the government, then I guess that’s the one that would be of concern,” Guevarra said.

“But otherwise, if it’s just a call to everyone to gather together, to express their sentiment and so forth and so on, that’s actually freedom of expression and assembly,” he said. –Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude, Jose Rodel Clapano, Artemio Dumlao

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RELATED(2) FROM PHILSTAR

Senators believe, downplay plot to oust Rody By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 22, 2017 - 12:00am 48 248 googleplus1 0


Antonio Trillanes IV, FLAG lawyers Alexander Padilla, Arno Sanidad and Jose Manuel Diokno present SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, alleged leader of the supposed Davao ...PHILSTAR FILE

MANILA, Philippines - There is indeed a plot to destabilize the administration of President Duterte, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said yesterday.

Ejercito said the lawyers – Jose Diokno, Arno Sanidad and Alex Padilla – surrounding self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Arthur Lascañas during his press conference at the Senate on Monday were the “familiar” faces that conspired to overthrow his father, then president Joseph Estrada.

“They (lawyers) were the same people who conspired, who were with the conspirators to oust then president (Joseph) Estrada at that time (2001) so they’re here again,” he said.

“I hope President Duterte should be wary because destabilization efforts take time. It’s like termites slowly destroying you until you’re weak and you’ll be pushed aside,” he said.

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“These people have a record already of being conspirators in the past.”

PACQUIAO

Sen. Manny Pacquiao believes any destabilization attempt against Duterte won’t succeed as he enjoys strong support from the people.

He said Sen. Leila De Lima and others calling on the people to withdraw support from Duterte should respect his “overwhelming” mandate.

“We have a very good President. We’re so blessed God provided us a good leader, a strong leader,” Pacquiao said.

“I don’t think the people will take the bait (destabilization).”

Pacquiao described De Lima’s name-calling of Duterte as a “murderer” and a “psychopath” as “below the belt.”

LACSON

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Malacañang appears to be adding up adverse developments, leading to a conclusion of a destabilization plot.

“I don’t know of anything like that,” Lacson said.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who led power grabs in the 1980s, also downplayed such warnings, saying if such plots are discussed openly, then they have already fizzled out.

All for one Cabinet officials were one in questioning De Lima’s call to proclaim Duterte unfit as president following Lascañas’ claims.

Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra sees no cause for alarm over De Lima’s call for the people to come out to show disgust over Duterte.

“No, there’s nothing criminal about that. If it’s inciting to rise up in arms against the government, then I guess that’s the one that she would be of concern,” Guevarra said.

“But otherwise, if it’s just a call to everyone to gather together, to express their sentiment and so forth and so on, that’s actually freedom of expression and assembly,” he said.

PANELO

Chief presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo said the issues hurled against Duterte were rehashed, all aimed at destroying him.

“But you must remember that these are old issues against the man. It started when he was still mayor, many investigations have been made, but no charges have been filed against him,” Panelo said.

Panelo added the accusations are politically-motivated, aimed at booting Duterte out of office.

ABELLA

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella doubted the credibility of Lascañas.

“Based on how he has performed as a witness, he seems rather discredited … In 2016, he denied certain things and in 2017, he flip-flops,” Abella said.

Because of his flip-flopping, Abella said the credibility of Lascañas is now in question.

“So that certainly puts everything that he says in a doubtful light. So we’ll leave it at that,” he said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said they are considering filing perjury charges against Lascañas.

“We will investigate this, his (Lascañas’) admissions of his killings and file charges against him just like what happened to Edgar Matobato,” Aguirre said, referring to the self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad.

Abella parried queries that Malacañang is downplaying the accusations against Duterte. – With Christina Mendez, Edu Punay


INQUIRER

‘Fight the fear’ under Duterte rule, FLAG’s Diokno urges Filipinos By: Nikko Dizon - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 07:35 PM February 23, 2017


Jose Manuel Diokno, chairman of the Free Legal Aid Group, which was founded by his father, the late Sen. Jose Diokno

Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, son of nationalist and democracy icon Sen. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno, called on Filipinos to “fight the fear” blanketing the country under the Duterte administration, which has waged a bloody war against illegal drugs, expressing concern over the likelihood of the return of authoritarianism.

“It is exactly the same fear and violence that was employed with so much effectivity by the Marcos dictatorship,” Diokno, a human rights lawyer like his father, said on Thursday. “There is no difference. The only difference is the branding. The label before was fear of communists. The label now is the fear of drug addicts and drug pushers.”

Diokno said that the unabated extrajudicial killings as a result of the war on drug had been eroding the country’s already weak judicial system.

READ MORE...

He warned that a legal system allowed to become “weaker and weaker” would result to a “disorderly country.”

“And the only way for government to maintain order is to become more and more authoritarian,” Diokno said.

Diokno’s father was among the first opposition leaders, along with the martyred Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., to be arrested soon after the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, which was announced on Sept. 23, 1972, although Proclamation 1081 was signed earlier, on Sept. 21.

Diokno was detained for two years without charges. He shared a prison compound with Aquino in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig and in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. Both were also held in solitary confinement for a month.

After his release from prison, Pepe Diokno founded the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in 1974 with fellow eminent human rights lawyers Lorenzo Tañada Sr. and Joker Arroyo to provide legal assistance to political prisoners and other victims of martial law.

The younger Diokno is now the national chairman of FLAG.

Diokno, who is also the dean of the De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Law, said the people should “fight the fear by standing up.”

“Fight the fear by conquering it,” he said. “Fight the fear by accepting that the fear is there and doing what you have to do because you know you have to do it. In that manner I think just as fear is contagious, that kind of action I believe is also contagious and the more people will stand up and the less people will be fearful.”

Diokno said that the people now had at least started to stand up and say something.

“(Those) who felt it wasn’t right and now there are more and more groups coming out not just in the legal community but civil society, the church and some Catholic organizations that are speaking up,” Diokno said.

Diokno said that the EDSA People Power Revolution remained relevant to this day and Filipinos should continue to learn from the lessons of martial law.

“What people should remember are the darkest days of the dictatorship,” he said. “Moving on is vague and forgetting. We must draw our lessons from martial law so that we don’t repeat our mistakes.” /atm

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ALSO FROM THE INQUIRER

Lawyer congratulates De Lima as she’s set to be Duterte’s ‘first political prisoner’ By: Nikko Dizon - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 08:53 PM February 23, 2017


ONE OF DE LIMA's LAWYERS Jose Manuel Diokno, chairman of the Free Legal Aid Group, which was founded by his father, the late Sen. Jose Diokno

Sen. Leila de Lima considers herself the first political prisoner under the Duterte administration, according to Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, a human rights lawyer who chair the Free Legal Aid Group (FLAG).

Diokno spoke to reporters about this shortly after a judge of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant on the neophyte lawmaker for allegedly orchestrating the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison while she was justice secretary.

On hearing De Lima describe herself as the first political detainee of the administration, Chel Diokno said she congratulated her, as her case would emphasize how the current dispensation had been trampling on people’s rights.

But Diokno also called on the public to “stand up and make their voices heard” now that people’s rights are being placed in “jeopardy.”

Diokno, one of de Lima’s lawyers, had filed on her behalf a writ of habeas data to test the presidential immunity of President Rodrigo Duterte over his sexual harassment and threats against the senator.

Diokno is the son of the late nationalist and democracy icon, Sen. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno,” who was among the opposition leaders detained by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos when he declared martial law in September 1972.

The younger Diokno said De Lima’s arrest would certainly have a “chilling effect” on anyone who would oppose the policies of the administration.

“Some people will be more reluctant to voice out their opinion after this arrest,” he said. “Although personally, I would also say that, on the other hand, it may also spur other people to gain courage and start speaking out. If a senator of the republic can be arrested just like that, then all of our rights are in jeopardy and it’s about time that we stand up and make our voices heard.”

Diokno said De Lima’s case was atypical, where the charges were based on testimonies of convicted felons serving time at the NBP.

“We have a situation where supposedly because of the House (of Representatives) inquiry, evidence was produced,” he said. “But there are a lot of questions on how this came into being because here you have as main witnesses who are admittedly criminals, people who come from no less than the national penitentiary.”

“And in my experience as a lawyer, those kinds of witnesses are the least that we would want to believe,” he added. “And yet it would appear that on the basis of their say so a senator of the republic is being put in jail. That is very worrisome.”

Diokno, who admitted being “shocked and surprised” by the issuance of the warrant of arrest against de Lima, said that it still could be questioned.

“In the meantime while the warrant is there, she may have no choice but to agree to it,” he said. /atm

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RELATED(2) FROM THE KICKER DAILY NEWS ONLINE

Youth group rejects De Lima’s claim that she will be the first political prisoner under Duterte’s regime
Posted on February 21, 2017 by Kicker Daily News // 2 Comments FacebookTwitterSubscribe



•Anakbayan slammed Senator De Lima’s claim that she will be the first political prinoner under the Duterte regime

•The youth group said the senator trivialized the meaning of political prisoner

•The Justice Secretary also criticized De Lima’s statement

Anakbayan, the democratic mass organization of Filipino youth, said Senator Leila De Lima cannot be considered as a political prisoner once she is arrested.

Kevin Aguayon, spokesperson of Anakbayan-Metro Manila, slammed the lady senator’s statement regarding her impeding arrest due to several charges filed against her by the Department of Justice over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

“I have long prepared myself to be the first political prisoner under this regime, because the criminal charges and prosecution are nothing less than a politically motivated act by the Duterte regime to clamp down on any vocal opposition against its support for a policy of EJK (extrajudicial killings) in dealing with suspected criminals,” De Lima said last week.

In an interview with Hataw Tabloid, Aguayon accused Senator De Lima of trivializing the meaning of political prisoner. He said she can’t be a political detainee since she is facing drug-related cases.

The young activist said a real political prisoner is one who defends the people and detained by the state over trumped up cases.

Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, likewise, condemned De Lima’s statement.

“It is wrong for Senator De Lima to refer to herself as a political prisoner. Drug cases do not involve one’s political beliefs. It involves one’s choice to be involved in illegal drugs,” he said.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

VACC lawyer: Robredo should be cited in contempt for questioning De Lima arrest Published February 25, 2017 1:50pm By ANNA FELICIA BAJO, GMA News


Robredo decries 'political harassment' of De Lima | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

A lawyer of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Saturday said Vice President Leni Robredo could be cited in contempt of court for questioning the arrest order issued against Sen. Leila de Lima over drug charges.

"Palagay ko isama na natin sa contempt of Court si Vice President Robredo for undermining the fate of the people and the Judiciary," VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in a forum.

Robredo had said that De Lima's arrest “is the latest move in a persistent campaign of political harassment being waged against a duly elected member of Congress.”

The senator's arrest was ordered by Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204.

Topacio insisted that De Lima's arrest was not politically motivated and referred to it as a "momentous event."

"Walang magic dito, walang impluwensiya dito," Topacio said. "Hindi siya ikinulong dahil siya ay kritiko ni Pangulong Duterte, that is beside the point."

"Sa halip na sagutin nila 'yung mga akusasyon laban sa kanila sa tamang forum, puro technicality nila sa mga hearing, tapos sinasagot nila sa media. Hindi po iyon ang tama eh," he added.

In the same forum, Negros Occidental Rep. Jacinto "Jing" Paras said Robredo should be ashamed of making such a comment against a court's order.

"Nakakahiya sa isang Vice President, abogado pa naman siya, to call it a political harassment. A judge under the Judiciary system was the one who ordered. Eh parang kinukuwestiyon din niya, kinuwestiyon na niya ang Executive.." Paras said.

The lawmaker said that Robredo's statement against De Lima's arrest also questions the integrity of the judiciary.

"With due respect to the Vice President, mukhang nagiging ambisosya yata siya," Paras said.

Meanwhile, Paras repeated an earlier comment by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo that De Lima's arrest was her "karma."

"'Yung karma naging totoo," the lawmaker said, also citing the arrest and eventual detention of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010.

De Lima was the Justice secretary when Arroyo was arrested in 2010 on plunder charges.

"Ganito din ginawa niya kay GMA," Paras said, adding that with Arroyo, there was no due process.

De Lima was arrested Friday morning, a day after the court issued an arrest warrant against her on charges based on allegations that she, during her stint as justice secretary, allowed the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison.

The senator, who has denied the charges against her and has claimed to be a victim of political persecution, is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center inside Camp Crame.

She earlier criticized the VACC, one of the groups that filed a complaint against her, for turning a blind eye on extrajudicial killings allegedly related to the Duterte administration's war on drugs. —ALG,

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

RELATED FROM ABSS-CBN

Robredo makes surprise House visit amid Duterte impeachment talk RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News Posted at Feb 23 2017 12:55 AM

MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday made a surprise visit to the House of Representatives amid talk of possible impeachment raps against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the House of Representatives initiates impeachment proceedings.

Robredo attended a hearing of the House Committee on People's Participation chaired by Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao. Robredo attended the meeting as a resource speaker for the People Empowerment Bill, which she championed in the 16th Congress.

However, Robredo did not escape questions on the specter of impeaching Duterte, which came after the testimony of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas earlier this week.
The vice president was asked for her reaction to Senator Leila de Lima's call for the Cabinet to declare Duterte legally incapacitated to hold office.

ON DE LIMA, LASCANAS 'DIFFICULT TO COMMENT'

"Mahirap kasi mag-comment kasi 'di ko naman narinig si Senator De Lima. Siguro tingnan ko muna kung anong basis ng kaniyang pagkasabi," Robredo said.
(It is difficult to comment since I did not hear what Senator De Lima said. Perhaps, I should look into the basis of her pronouncement.)
When Robredo was asked if Lascañas' revelations may be basis for impeaching the president, Robredo replied, "Depende kasi 'yun sa sasabihin niya. As I've said, di pa naman nag-uumpisa 'yung investigation. I think masabi natin kung pwede siyang maging basis or not kung ongoing na yung investigation."
(It depends on what he will say. As I've said, the investigation has not yet started. I think we would know once the investigation is ongoing.)

When pressed further about Lascañas' statements, Robredo replied, "Parang mahirap magsabi at this point kasi di pa naman nag-uumpisa 'yung imbestigasyon. Pero 'yung imbestigasyon kasi sa Senado mabibigyan tayo ng pagkakataon na ma-observe 'yung kaniyang, di lang yung kaniyang demeanor, pero iyung kanyang statements."
(It's difficult to comment at this point since the investigation has not yet started, The investigation in the Senate will afford us the opportunity not only to observe his demeanor, but also his statements.)

Robredo voiced support for an investigation into Lascañas' revelations. "Narinig ko bits and pieces ng kaniyang press conference sa news lang. Pero natutuwa ako kasi the Senate voted to hear it. Tingin ko makakatulong sa pag-assess natin ng kaniyang credibility, ng credibility ng kwento pag binigyan tayo ng mas maraming pagkakataon to asses it."
(I have only heard bits and pieces of his press conference in the news. I am happy that the Senate voted to hear it. I think it will help us assess his credibility and the credibility of his statements if we are afforded more time to assess it.)

Robredo, meanwhile, said Liberal Party members have yet to meet on their next move regarding the looming arrest of Senator Leila de Lima on charges related to illegal drugs.

She also revealed that the Liberal Party is taking a party stand against the death penalty, but the party won't sanction members who will vote for its reimposition.
Robredo has no firm plans yet for the 31st anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution this weekend.

"I want to attend pero di ko pa alam. Meron kasi yatang iba-ibang celebrations na sabay-sabay na mangyayari. Actually, I asked my staff kung ano 'yung mga celebrations. I want to attend one of those. Siguro kung may Mass sa EDSA Shrine, I will attend. Wala, walang official invite as of now."
(I want to attend but I do not know yet. There are several celebrations that will simultaneously take place. I want to attend one of those. Maybe if there is a Mass at the EDSA Shrine, I will attend that. But there has been no official invite yet.)

Asked about the rally that will reportedly be led by former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Etta Rosales, Robredo said she does not know of any plans on the 25th aside from the various celebrations to be staged by different organizations.

ON MARCOS POLL PROTEST

Robredo was unfazed by the decision of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to declare the electoral protest of Bongbong Marcos against Robredo sufficient in form and substance.
"Tayo naman, procedural nire-respeto natin. Iyung desisyon ng PET, ano naman ito, ang gustong sabihin lang nito that the case can now proceed," Robredo explained.
(We respect procedure. The decision of the PET only says that the case can proceed.)

Robredo sidestepped questions on the possibility of Marcos assuming the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) post, which his late husband used to occupy.

"Merong two schools of thought. Ang two schools of thought 'yung umpisa considered siyang abandonment, 'yung isa naman na school of thought, di siya considered na abandonment kasi appointive na position," Robredo said.
(There are two schools of thought. First, that it would constitute abandonment. The other school of thought states otherwise since it is merely an appointive position.)

"Wala pa, kasi mahirap kasi para sa akin na mag-comment kasi di ako unbiased na magko-comment. Saka mahirap, we've been cautioned also not to expound so much on the case kaya siguro iiwanan ko na lang yun sa ganiyan," he added.
(I cannot comment because I will not be unbiased, Besides, we have been cautioned not to expound on the case, so I will leave it as it is.)


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