E. MACEDA: MALACAÑANG 'TROIKA'

The Daily Tribune has come out with a story, claiming that 3 Malacañang officials, allegedly composed of Rochelle Ahoro, personal secretary of the President; Odette Ong, assistant secretary of administration and finance, and Mary Antoinette Lucile Ortile, assistant to the Executive secretary, were said to be involved in “fund-raising activities” or questionable dealings with suspected pork barrel scammer Janet Lim-Napoles. They are proclaimed as the three powerful ladies who are calling the shots in Malacañang with regards to suspicious dealings; and they are also referred as the “Tres Marias of the Palace.” This is a very serious charge. Some explanation is needed. This is the first time that the Office of the Executive Secretary is mentioned. Scapegoat --Malacañang is now blaming foreign donors for the slow Yolanda rehabilitation. This is quite unfair to the foreign donors who have already released P15 billion to the Philippines. Part of the blame goes to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), who has not released P40 billion provided in the 2014 National Budget. AND---Final list (?) The expanded-Napoles list contains the names of 18 senators and 100 congressmen that are in the latest list. Lawyer Levito Baligod has charged that the name of one senator has disappeared from the list. READ FULL ARTICLE...

ALSO: Time to defend our first branch of government

The brazenness with which Janet Lim Napoles and her accomplices have attacked and corrupted the two houses of Congress, and the equanimity with which the public is viewing the spectacle, are profoundly troubling. What does it say about our people and our values, if our legislature, whose roots date back to the birth of the nation, cannot fend off or subdue an assault on the integrity of its members and its constitutional responsibility? What does it say of the leadership of both houses, if they can only watch meekly while the scam mastermind bargains for immunity from prosecution with the Department of Justice, at the expense of the honor of Congress and without regard for the necessity of retribution? What future can we look forward to if this crisis is being driven by presidential ambitions in 2016, and if we cannot apply quickly and confidently a solution to this breach in our democratic defenses? It’s prudent to ask these questions now because just a few days ago, our neighbor and Asean partner Thailand was cut off from its democratic moorings by a military coup (the 12th since 1932), which unseated the duly elected government and is now agonizing under the strictures of dictatorial rule. If this can happen to rich and dynamic Thailand, so can it also happen to our punch-drunk country, which continues to stagger from a power-hungry and delusional administration, if we fail to exercise vigilance. The first branch of government: In every republican system, except for banana republics, the legislature is the first branch of government, supreme in fact in parliamentary republics. There’s a logical and traditional reason why Congress is usually regarded by political scientists and historians as “the first branch of government.” Time of vulnerability: The crisis brought on by the multi-billion pork barrel scandal has come at a time when Philippine democracy is fraying at the edges. As he completes his fourth year in office, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has a halo of doubt hovering over his head, having failed to arrest unemployment and deepening mass poverty, to accelerate the provision of public services and to modernize infrastructure across the archipelago. His biggest accomplishments, he claims, are (1) placing under prolonged detention his predecessor President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, by filing countless charges against her, most of which have been dismissed in court; (2) removing by impeachment former chief justice Renato Corona, and (3) forcing the resignation of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. This is sick. Aquino’s use of bribery to remove Corona and Gutierrez and pass controversial legislation in Congress highlighted charges that he reduced Congress to his rubber stamp. He raised the much-detested pork barrel under his watch by 300 percent. And there is another controversial fund, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which is under constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court. The detested pork barrel and Congress’ complicity in Aquino’s arbitrary acts of persecution have helped to make Congress heavily unpopular. This explains why many were secretly applauding the embarrassment caused by the exposé of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Esteem for the country’s legislators has traditionally been low. And it plunged to its lowest ever because of their failure to resist bribery and stand up to Aquino...READ FULL ARTICLE...

EDITORIAL: A sobering event for Noy

At the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) where the dominant theme was social inclusion, several views pointed to the supposedly stellar growth of the Philippines as having several pitfalls, primarily the absence of a solid base for growth which makes any celebration on what Noynoy claimed the country as a miracle story while attributing the economic turnaround to his policies a big embarrassing lie. Economic experts, however, indicated that a sustained robust growth for up to 10 years is needed just for the economic “turnaround” claimed by Noynoy to have any effect on reducing poverty. The Philippines has 30 percent of its population living below poverty level which is the highest rate in the booming Asian region. A strong growth of more than six percent a year should be maintained for eight to 10 years, Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Co. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said. A Singapore-based economist Kevin Lu said regulatory uncertainties remain as deterrent for businesses to set up operations in the Philippines. When we talk of miracles, we should also be talking of long sustained good growth for 10 to 15 years, Lu said. The consensus was for the government to address concerns that are well known such as the high cost of power, lack of new infrastructure, stimulating agriculture output, and rising inequality. Pangilinan said that while the Aquino administration has been addressing the soft part of development such as improving perceptions on the country through good governance, the hard parts which are factors that ease the conduct of business should also be addressed. The government should put in place as well as policies that would shift the economy from consumption driven to that led by investments. “To promote inclusive growth, the hard parts of development should also be addressed,” according to Pangilinan.

ALSO: PHAPI VS. PHILHEALTH; LIM VS. ERAP

IT took Malacañang Palace to dispute the claims of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) president Rustico Jimenez that the unpaid billings of PHAP Hospitals due from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) have reached P75 million. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte says that while computerization of PhilHealth records may have slowed down payments, its policy of paying members’ claims within 60 days remains. Valte says that there are “allegations of unpaid claims that are inaccurate.” Of course, it is reasonable that “not all claims are being paid by PhilHealth because not all of these claims are valid. PhilHealth is also scrutinizing these claims to make sure that the claims paid are legitimate and are supported by documents. In this way, we ensure that the PhilHealth’s fund is spent well,” says Valte. READ MORE... *** The Supreme Court has decided to take up the disqualification case against deposed President Joseph Estrada as mayor of Manila. In a resolution, the SC “resolved to give due course to the petition and petition-in-intervention” filed by his rival in the May 2013 mayoralty race, former Mayor Alfredo Lim, and lawyer Alicia Risos-Vidal. “Due course means that it will result in a decision on the merits, not on an outright dismissal. It means the court will not dismiss the petition outright. That’s all it means,” said SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te. The SC resolution also directed the parties to submit their respective memoranda within 30 days from receipt of notice. “No new issues may be raised by a party in the memorandum, and the issue raised in the pleadings but not included in the memorandum shall be deemed waived or abandoned. Being a summation of the parties’ previous pleadings, the court may consider the memorandum alone in deciding or resolving this case,” said the resolution. Vidal filed the petition in April last year seeking to reverse a Commission on Elections decision that declared Estrada qualified to run for mayor of the City of Manila in the May 13, 2013 elections. Lim filed his petition-in-intervention. Mayor Lim and Vidal said President Estrada’s conviction for plunder and being sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 rendered him disqualified to run for public office. They insisted that the executive pardon granted to him by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not restore his right to seek or hold public office. In his answer in 2013, Estrada explained that the pardon granted him was absolute and not hinged on the condition that he would no longer seek elective office as supposedly stated in the whereas clause of the clemency--contrary to petitioners’ claim. READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Malacañang ‘troika’


By Ernesto M. Maceda

MANILA, MAY 26, 2014 (PHILSTAR) SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda - The Daily Tribune has come out with a story, claiming that 3 Malacañang officials, allegedly composed of Rochelle Ahoro, personal secretary of the President; Odette Ong, assistant secretary of administration and finance, and Mary Antoinette Lucile Ortile, assistant to the Executive secretary, were said to be involved in “fund-raising activities” or questionable dealings with suspected pork barrel scammer Janet Lim-Napoles.

They are proclaimed as the three powerful ladies who are calling the shots in Malacañang with regards to suspicious dealings; and they are also referred as the “Tres Marias of the Palace.”

This is a very serious charge. Some explanation is needed. This is the first time that the Office of the Executive Secretary is mentioned.

Scapegoat

Malacañang is now blaming foreign donors for the slow Yolanda rehabilitation.

This is quite unfair to the foreign donors who have already released P15 billion to the Philippines. Part of the blame goes to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), who has not released P40 billion provided in the 2014 National Budget.

DBM claims that as of May 15 it has released P32.2 billion for Yolanda rehabilitation, but it has not been felt in the typhoon-damaged areas.

There is also no excuse for the slow rehab of public schools.

Lawmakers and local government officials are claiming that no funds have been released to their districts and towns.

The slowest performance is the building of houses for Yolanda survivors. Only 200 houses have been completed in 6 months.

Secretary Ping Lacson must now crack the whip on slow Cabinet members.

Summon Napoles

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has demanded that the Blue Ribbon Committee call Janet Lim-Napoles to testify on the final affidavit she had given to Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima.

Yes, that’s the logical move now. In the earlier hearings, Napoles denied any involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. She must now explain her latest affidavit.

Senator T.G. Guingona must now dig deeper into the PDAF scam and reveal all the persons involved.

Philippines-Vietnam alliance

The major accomplishment of the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia is the forging of an alliance between the Philippines and Vietnam that is to oppose China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea and the Paracel Islands.

President Aquino and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued a joint statement declaring that the Philippines and Vietnam will jointly oppose illegal Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Indonesia also signed an agreement for joint maritime patrols.

Six hundred delegates attended the WEF. No untoward incident happened. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima did a good job in making the conference a success.

Anti-political dynasty bill

Senator Koko Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, is set to report out an anti-political dynasty bill consolidating 3 bills; two authored by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and another bill authored by Senator JV Ejercito.

Senate President Franklin Drilon supports the bill, saying it is long overdue. Senators Chiz Escudero, Bam Aquino, and Sonny Angara have declared their support for the bill.

The House of Representatives has also scheduled debates on the measure. The main issue is the extent of relationship to be covered whether up to the 2nd degree of consanguinity or 4th degree.

It looks like the anti-political dynasty bill has a good chance of passing this time.

Only 30% done

Six months after Yolanda slammed into Tacloban, only 30% of the city has been rebuilt, according to Senior Superintendent Romeo Campomanes.

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez reported that close to 5,000 families are still in need of decent shelters. There are still 700 families living in tents. Romualdez said the reconstruction could have been done faster if the funds were released to local governments.

Similar complaints have been heard from residents of Eastern Samar and Capiz.

The Mayor expressed surprise why the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been tasked to build the houses and shelter.

There should be an audit of the funds released to DSWD.

Davao broadcaster killed

A radio broadcaster was shot dead in Digos, Davao del Sur. University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network anchor Samuel ‘’Sammy’’ Oliverio, 60, is the 28th journalist killed under the Aquino administration.

Five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed while two others were captured in Sorsogon clash between the government security forces.

Mark Felizardo Baggang, 27, was shot dead at a gasoline station at Barangay Rio del Pilar in Makati.

Lawyer Eduardo Malinis, 75, a former chief of the Insurance Commission, was robbed and killed in his house in Bacoor, Cavite.

Final list (?)

The expanded-Napoles list contains the names of 18 senators and 100 congressmen that are in the latest list.

Lawyer Levito Baligod has charged that the name of one senator has disappeared from the list.

Tidbits: Senator Nancy Binay filed a Senate resolution to investigate the cholera outbreak in North Cotabato.

Senator Pia Cayetano complains about the lack of funds released to rebuild 33 state colleges and universities (SUCs).

SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) vice chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson announced the building of 1,000 disaster-resilient houses in five Yolanda-damaged areas. The project will cost P200 million.

Senator Bongbong Marcos deplores the lack of fund releases to local government units damaged by Yolanda.

Thailand’s military junta has abolished the Thai Senate.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Time to defend our first branch of government by YEN MAKABENTA
 May 28, 2014 10:45 pm


YEN MAKABENTA

MANILA --
The brazenness with which Janet Lim Napoles and her accomplices have attacked and corrupted the two houses of Congress, and the equanimity with which the public is viewing the spectacle, are profoundly troubling.

What does it say about our people and our values, if our legislature, whose roots date back to the birth of the nation, cannot fend off or subdue an assault on the integrity of its members and its constitutional responsibility?

What does it say of the leadership of both houses, if they can only watch meekly while the scam mastermind bargains for immunity from prosecution with the Department of Justice, at the expense of the honor of Congress and without regard for the necessity of retribution?

What future can we look forward to if this crisis is being driven by presidential ambitions in 2016, and if we cannot apply quickly and confidently a solution to this breach in our democratic defenses?

It’s prudent to ask these questions now because just a few days ago, our neighbor and Asean partner Thailand was cut off from its democratic moorings by a military coup (the 12th since 1932), which unseated the duly elected government and is now agonizing under the strictures of dictatorial rule.

If this can happen to rich and dynamic Thailand, so can it also happen to our punch-drunk country, which continues to stagger from a power-hungry and delusional administration, if we fail to exercise vigilance.

The first branch of government

In every republican system, except for banana republics, the legislature is the first branch of government, supreme in fact in parliamentary republics.

There’s a logical and traditional reason why Congress is usually regarded by political scientists and historians as “the first branch of government.”

In the US Constitution, after which our Constitution is modeled, Congress is empowered and framed in its first article. As one American political science volume asserts: “Its placement there is no accident. The framers wanted it clear that Congress was to be first among equals of the three branches….each branch is given unique powers, with many overlapping, but it is clear, when push comes to shove, that Congress can trump the other two branches by overriding a presidential veto, by changing the size or jurisdiction of the courts, and by impeaching or removing from office presidents and justices alike.”

In our own Constitution, Congress is accorded top billing. It is empowered and framed in article VI, ahead of the executive (Article VII) and the judicial department (Article VIII).

In his informative book on the Constitution, author and Constitutional Commission member Jose N. Nolledo reports with authority (he was present at the creation): “Article VI on the legislative department was placed ahead of the executive department (Article VII) because the legislative department, while co-equal with the executive department, is the repository of the people’s sovereignty and is given more emphasis and significance.”

As repository of the people’s sovereignty, Congress clearly enjoys high constitutional responsibility—as the embodiment of representative government and as lawmaker.

Time of vulnerability

The crisis brought on by the multi-billion pork barrel scandal has come at a time when Philippine democracy is fraying at the edges. As he completes his fourth year in office, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has a halo of doubt hovering over his head, having failed to arrest unemployment and deepening mass poverty, to accelerate the provision of public services and to modernize infrastructure across the archipelago.

His biggest accomplishments, he claims, are (1) placing under prolonged detention his predecessor President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, by filing countless charges against her, most of which have been dismissed in court; (2) removing by impeachment former chief justice Renato Corona, and (3) forcing the resignation of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. This is sick.

Aquino’s use of bribery to remove Corona and Gutierrez and pass controversial legislation in Congress highlighted charges that he reduced Congress to his rubber stamp.

He raised the much-detested pork barrel under his watch by 300 percent.

And there is another controversial fund, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which is under constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court.

The detested pork barrel and Congress’ complicity in Aquino’s arbitrary acts of persecution have helped to make Congress heavily unpopular. This explains why many were secretly applauding the embarrassment caused by the exposé of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Esteem for the country’s legislators has traditionally been low. And it plunged to its lowest ever because of their failure to resist bribery and stand up to Aquino.

The administration itself is reeling now from the revelation by Janet Lim Napoles that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad transacted with her and mentored her in the creation of her mind-boggling pork-barrel scam, and that three other cabinet members had coursed their pork allocations through her syndicate. The Palace will take care of its own.

Even so, no institution has been more hard hit by the Napoles affidavit than Congress and its two houses. And no one has suffered more damage to their reputations than the senators and representatives who got lopsided rebates from their pork allocations.

Both the Napoles larceny and her confession (for confession her affidavit is) have hit the legislature like a typhoon. Congress leaders and members are grasping at straws to defend themselves, and are desperately seeking ideas on how, like the Yolanda-ravaged regions, they can rehabilitate their houses and their reputations.

Of the two most affected branches of government—the executive and the legislature—I am more concerned about the lasting impact of this scandal on Congress. It is more vital to the stability of the nation.

If Napoles and corrupt legislators have irreparably damaged this branch, the Republic will suffer. Vital questions –like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB)—await the responsible action and deliberation of Congress. If it cannot get back on its feet quickly, the nation will face severe storms and stresses in the next two years , before the election of a new Congress and a new president.

These questions go down to the question of fitness for leadership of our nation, and fitness to serve in Congress.

Graft in the use of public funds should never be tolerated, and must be fully meted just punishment.

It is fortunate that this crime against the people has been exposed and the media has been unsparing in bringing it out.
The case and cases have to be brought to a just conclusion—wherein honesty and truth can prevail.

We should be very concerned that Napolesgate does not degrade the legislature to the extent of making it ineffective and ineffectual. Already, some say that demoralization is creeping in the ranks.

This is a time for dynamic and creative leadership of both houses of Congress.

Sclerotic leadership will not do the job. Our legislators must seriously consider a change.

EDITORIAL FROM THE TRIBUNE

A sobering event for Noy Written by Tribune Editorial Sunday, 25 May 2014 08:00



MANILA - At the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) where the dominant theme was social inclusion, several views pointed to the supposedly stellar growth of the Philippines as having several pitfalls, primarily the absence of a solid base for growth which makes any celebration on what Noynoy claimed the country as a miracle story while attributing the economic turnaround to his policies a big embarrassing lie.

Economic experts, however, indicated that a sustained robust growth for up to 10 years is needed just for the economic “turnaround” claimed by Noynoy to have any effect on reducing poverty.

The Philippines has 30 percent of its population living below poverty level which is the highest rate in the booming Asian region.

A strong growth of more than six percent a year should be maintained for eight to 10 years, Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Co. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said.

A Singapore-based economist Kevin Lu said regulatory uncertainties remain as deterrent for businesses to set up operations in the Philippines.

When we talk of miracles, we should also be talking of long sustained good growth for 10 to 15 years, Lu said.

The consensus was for the government to address concerns that are well known such as the high cost of power, lack of new infrastructure, stimulating agriculture output, and rising inequality.

Pangilinan said that while the Aquino administration has been addressing the soft part of development such as improving perceptions on the country through good governance, the hard parts which are factors that ease the conduct of business should also be addressed.

The government should put in place as well as policies that would shift the economy from consumption driven to that led by investments.

“To promote inclusive growth, the hard parts of development should also be addressed,” according to Pangilinan.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said that the key concerns of business are being addressed by the government but it takes time particularly as a result of the Aquino administration’s adherence to the democratic process.

Very often, there are temptations for short cuts and to ride roughshod over the law but the democratic process requires that people agree to what the government does, he said.

Such views reflected the many concerns that the growth momentum that Noynoy has been trumpeting at every turn during the holding of the global event would merely follow the boom and bust cycle that the economy tracked in the past.

Several of the delegates also expressed their views that the infrastructure program of Noynoy or the private public partnership has been moving too slowly if not altogether stalled.

Yet it is in infrastructure where government is expected to contribute greatly in sustaining the economy.

The fact is that on the role that the administration of Noynoy that the private sector had expected it to perform, it has been found wanting.

The good governance part which Noynoy claimed to have been key in pushing robust economic growth last year is a myth. The latest global competitiveness report stated that the government of Noynoy has to do more in eradicating corruption and business research firm IMD which made the report, cited perceptions of widespread corrupt practices in government that continue to be a drag on the Philippines.

Good governance is also equated with his genocide campaign against the political opposition.

Even the 7.2-percent growth rate last year which Noynoy and his economic officials referred to extensively in citing their claimed economic turnaround was more the result of the 2013 national elections when campaign money poured.

The WEF was indeed a pivotal event for Noynoy in as much as it brought down his bloated description of his role in spurring growth back to earth. Published in Editorial

FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS

PHAPI VS. PHILHEALTH, LIM VS. ERAP By Ducky Paredes | May 27, 2014


By Ducky Paredes

IT took Malacañang Palace to dispute the claims of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) president Rustico Jimenez that the unpaid billings of PHAP Hospitals due from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) have reached P75 million.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte says that while computerization of PhilHealth records may have slowed down payments, its policy of paying members’ claims within 60 days remains.

Valte says that there are “allegations of unpaid claims that are inaccurate.”

Of course, it is reasonable that “not all claims are being paid by PhilHealth because not all of these claims are valid. PhilHealth is also scrutinizing these claims to make sure that the claims paid are legitimate and are supported by documents. In this way, we ensure that the PhilHealth’s fund is spent well,” says Valte.

She added that PhilHealth has no backlog in payments to San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City, contrary to claims that PhilHealth owed the hospital a staggering P15 million. Valte said PhilHealth was actually able to pay 1,712 patient claims in that hospital amounting to P26.72 million and that the turnaround time for payment of PhilHealth dues to the hospital stands at 13 days.

There are also no unpaid dues amounting to P15 million to Calamba Doctors Hospital in Laguna, although there is about P6 million, for 719 claims that have not been processed because of incomplete documents.

Jimenez also wrongly claimed that PhilHealth owed Western Visayas Medical Center P13 million. There is no PhilHealth backlogs in that hospital.

“The Private Hospitals Association in Region 6 also issued a statement that they are not experiencing such unpaid claims. Rest assured Dr. Jimenez’s concerns and those of other officers of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines are being addressed by PhilHealth,” she added.

Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City, reacting to Dr. Jimenez claims, urged PhilHealth to pay its dues as soon as possible, adding that its ongoing computerization process was no excuse for non-payment.

“PhilHealth should have had the foresight to see the consequences of their computerization as they are in charge of administering the National Health Insurance Program for millions of Filipinos. Because of the delay in reimbursements, poor patients are caught in the crossfire of hospitals and PhilHealth. That’s clear mismanagement on the part of Philhealth,” Gatchalian said.

“PhilHealth should make the claiming of reimbursements by its members easier and faster. It should not add more burdens to its clients who have to pay for PhilHealth’s supposed share in their hospital bills,” he adds.

Apparently, according to Malacañang, there is no backlog and every claim of every hospital has been attended to, except those where the paperwork has not been done by the hospitals.

The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) has also decided to temporarily shelve its plan of not honoring the PhilHealth membership of patients as the state-run health insurance firm promised to settle its obligations by the end of June.

“PhilHealth has promised to pay us by the end of June so we will wait for that. For the meantime, we decided not to do anything yet,” PHAPi president Rustico Jimenez says.

Earlier, PHAPi was considering not honoring the PhilHealth membership of patients because of the delayed release of reimbursements.

PHAPi complained that PhilHealth was taking at least six months to pay private hospitals for their services, severely affecting their operations.

In Bulacan alone, PHAPi notes that around 50 private hospitals have complained about unpaid services for PhilHealth members, many amounting to millions of pesos.

PHAPi was considering making patients pay for PhilHealth’s share in their hospital bills and making the members directly apply for reimbursements with the state health insurance firm.

PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Alexander Padilla admitted the delay and attributed it to “connectivity problems” caused by the implementation of the “case-based payment” system this year.

Jimenez said PHAPi would see if PhilHealth keeps its promise.

“If we don’t give in now, we would be the one to be faulted. As much as we want to serve patients, we cannot do so if we run out of funds to pay our staff, our electric or water bills and our suppliers. So let’s see what will happen,” he added.

***

The Supreme Court has decided to take up the disqualification case against deposed President Joseph Estrada as mayor of Manila.

In a resolution, the SC “resolved to give due course to the petition and petition-in-intervention” filed by his rival in the May 2013 mayoralty race, former Mayor Alfredo Lim, and lawyer Alicia Risos-Vidal.

“Due course means that it will result in a decision on the merits, not on an outright dismissal. It means the court will not dismiss the petition outright. That’s all it means,” said SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te.

The SC resolution also directed the parties to submit their respective memoranda within 30 days from receipt of notice.

“No new issues may be raised by a party in the memorandum, and the issue raised in the pleadings but not included in the memorandum shall be deemed waived or abandoned. Being a summation of the parties’ previous pleadings, the court may consider the memorandum alone in deciding or resolving this case,” said the resolution.

Vidal filed the petition in April last year seeking to reverse a Commission on Elections decision that declared Estrada qualified to run for mayor of the City of Manila in the May 13, 2013 elections. Lim filed his petition-in-intervention.

Mayor Lim and Vidal said President Estrada’s conviction for plunder and being sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 rendered him disqualified to run for public office.

They insisted that the executive pardon granted to him by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not restore his right to seek or hold public office.

In his answer in 2013, Estrada explained that the pardon granted him was absolute and not hinged on the condition that he would no longer seek elective office as supposedly stated in the whereas clause of the clemency--contrary to petitioners’ claim.

The pardon “effectively obliterated all the penalties attached to the conviction and restored Estrada to his full and civil political rights.”

Beside, petitioner Lim does not stand to sustain any direct injury, or be denied a right or privilege he is entitled to, with Estrada sitting as Mayor of Manila.

Under Sec. 44 of the Local Government Code, in the event that the winning candidate for mayor is disqualified, the vice mayor – in this case, Isko Moreno - succeeds to the vacated position, and not the candidate who got the second most number of votes for the position in question.

Estrada won over Lim with 343,993 votes in the last polls; Lim got 308,544 votes.

At any rate. Estrada, who took from Lim a Manila without funds and deep in debt, has been preparing to turn over everything to Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who is preparing to run for Mayor in the next election.

This is goodbye time to politics for Joseph Estrada, who was eased out of office by people power through the machinations of his Vice President who is presently in detention for her crimes committed during her presidency.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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