AUGUST 20, 2009 (PHILIPPINE STAR) President Arroyo met yesterday with visiting US Sen. Bill Nelson in Malacañang and discussed the peace process and development in Mindanao, as well as the threat of terrorism in the region.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told reporters that Nelson, a member of the US Senate intelligence and armed services committees, also discussed trade matters with Mrs. Arroyo, being also a member of the budget, finance and commerce committees.

Nelson, who arrived in the country through Zamboanga City from Brunei, is expected to leave on Friday.

In Zamboanga City, he met with National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general Pedro Cabuay Jr. and Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino.

“The visit of Sen. Nelson is part of the continuing series of exchange of visits of senior Philippine and US officials,” Remonde said.

“Included in the agenda are the Mindanao peace process, terrorist threats in the country, and development projects in Mindanao.” – Paolo Romero

PCGG chief being probed for 3 graft cases By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) Updated August 20, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) led by Chairman Camilo Sabio are facing three different graft cases before the Office of the Ombudsman, including the excessive use of government-issued mobile phones.

Sabio and PCGG Director Ermin Ernest Louie Miguel were charged for excessive use of their cellular phones over the P10,000 allowable limit.

In the complaint filed by auditors of the Commission on Audit (COA), Sabio and Miguel reportedly incurred P331,040 in mobile phone expenses.

State auditors said their verification of the mobile telephone expenses of the agency revealed that “various calls and text messages were incurred by various PCGG officials” from the United States, Singapore and South Korea.

In an apparent effort to justify the excessive phone use, Sabio issued an order on Jan. 30, 2008 stating the maximum monthly allocation does not apply to officials who are out of the country on official business, the Ombudsman noted.

Graft Investigation Officer 1 Corinne Joie Garillo of the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman said Sabio and Miguel failed to pay for excess bills in the amounts of P25,594 and P53,012 respectively from 2006 to 2008.

Garillo said both PCGG officials have violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by “causing undue injury to the government” in making the excessive cellular phone calls.

Garillo said both officials have made “unnecessary expenditures,” which include text messages and calls beyond the allowable limit that clearly violated government policy on austerity and prudence.

Sabio is also facing a graft charge for his alleged failure to deposit the amount of P10,350,000 supposedly collected from two sequestered Marcos corporations to the Agrarian Reform Fund in 2006.

As of December 2008, Sabio has failed to account for the amount, which represents cash advances from two corporations that was surrendered by Jose Campos to the PCGG as part of former President Ferdinand Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth, according to Garillo.

Garillo said five of the checks issued by Mid-Pasig Land Development Corp. (MPLDC) and the Independent Realty Corp. (IRC) were encashed by Sabio himself.

By November 2006, the total amount of IRC remittances amounted to P50,350,000 but only P40,000 of the amount actually reached the Bureau of Treasury (BOT), Garillo said.

Garillo said Sabio is facing charges of malversation of public funds and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Because of Sabio’s failure to have the amount deposited to the Agrarian Reform Fund, Garillo said the PCGG chief also violated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) along with Executive Order 229 that provided mechanisms for its implementation.

Garillo explained the money for the Agrarian Reform Fund “shall be sourced from the sale of the assets of the Asset Privatization Trust and receipts of the sale of ill-gotten wealth recovered through the PCGG.”

Garillo added Sabio and the other PCGG officials are also facing raps for their failure to liquidate cash advances amounting to P1,555,862 incurred from Jan. 1, 2005 to Oct. 31, 2008.

Their failure to render the accounts is also a violation of Presidential Decree 1445, or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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