, FEBRUARY 11, 2007 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joined families of overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in commemorating the National Migrants’ Sunday (NMS) with a Mass at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Sra. de Guia in Ermita, Manila this morning.

The President motored from Malacañang for the 8 a.m. Mass at the Ermita Church, where she was welcomed by Parish Priest Fr. Sanny de Claro, Fr. Artemio Fabros of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Intinerant People (EMCI), and Mercedes Rosas, Parish Pastoral Council president.

Started on March 8, 1987, the NMS Mass is an annual activity celebrated every first Sunday of Lent to pay tribute to all OFWs and their families and loved ones they have left behind. Now on its 22nd year, the event focuses on the theme “Show Concern to the Young Generation of Migrants” which emphasizes the need to care for young workers abroad.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) ECMI is facilitating the NMS events in different ecclesiastical jurisdictions nationwide.

The ECMI is mandated by the CBCP to provide and coordinate pastoral and social services to the migrant workers and their families, especially those in distress and facing complex problems because of migration.

ECMI assists Catholic parishes and dioceses in organizing the ministry to OFWs and their families.

To date, ECMI has reached out and organized thousands of OFW families. It also coordinates the services of more than 500 chaplains and pastoral workers in 40 countries.

Government mulling another lawsuit against Erap By Sandy Araneta Monday, February 11, 2008

In a move to recover more alleged ill-gotten wealth, the government is contemplating on filing another lawsuit against former President Joseph Estrada.

The new civil lawsuit, government prosecutors said, is not covered by the forfeiture judgment in the Sandiganbayan verdict of Sept. 12, 2007 which convicted the former leader of plunder.

“The government can still go after other assets of Erap (Estrada). The Special Division did not bar us (from doing that). There was nothing in the verdict that prohibits the filing of a civil case,” said government lead counsel Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio.

“That will be a separate proceeding. The basis is already there, the Sandiganbayan verdict declaring that former President Estrada is Jose Velarde, despite his denials. Remember, Estrada and his lawyers have already accepted it (ruling), coupled with the fact that they waived the appeal,” Villa-Ignacio added.

His statement of the plan was made after the discovery last month of a P1.1-billion Jose Velarde account in Banco de Oro (formerly Equitable PCI Bank) and the recent pronouncement of the Special Division that prosecutors should have sought damages against the convicted former president for his crimes.

The amount of the Jose Velarde account covers P500 million listed under “promissory note and chattel mortgage” P450 million shares of Waterfront Philippines with an estimated value of P427.5 million; P300 million shares of Wellex Industries worth some P84 million; and cash deposits in a common trust fund investment account containing P95.76 million maturing by July 25 this year.

Villa-Ignacio said that the stock investments and trust deposits at the BDO under IMA personal trust account number 101-78056-1 are worth much more than the forfeiture cost slapped against Estrada’s assets.

Covered only by the forfeiture order were P545.3 million alleged jueteng collections and P189.7 million commission from the purchase of Belle Corp. shares and the Boracay Mansion in New Manila, Quezon City.

Of the P735 million money judgment, only P200 million have been recovered from the bank account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation (EMYF), leaving a balance of P535 million that may be charged against the Velarde assets in BDO.

Villa-Ignacio said the leftover of the BDO assets, worth about P565 million, can still go to the State if the government gets a forfeiture judgment against Estrada in the new civil lawsuit.

The spare amount does not cover the award of damages that the prosecution will try to get against Estrada’s other assets.

Villa-Ignacio said the prosecution focused on securing a conviction against Estrada and had hoped that the Sandiganbayan will slap a bigger forfeiture cost against the deposed leader.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved