MANILA, JANUARY 31, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. -  The opposition in the House of Representatives said on Sunday that President Aquino should also be impeached if he failed to explain the sudden rise of his networth.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said the President should explain to the public the jump in his personal wealth based on his statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN)—up 256 percent from P15,440,268 in 2009 to P54,999,370 in 2010—or he would be impeached on the same ground as Article 2 of the impeachment complaint against Corona.

House prosecutors have claimed that Chief Justice Renato Corona’s income would not justify the jump in his networth from P8 million 2002 to P22 million in 2010.

“The minority will meet tomorrow to decide what action to take. In the meantime, the results of the impeachment case against Corona, specifically those involving his SALN, will be very interesting because it will have a bearing on how the President’s SALN will be judged,” Suarez said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said Aquino’s failure to explain the surge in his wealth could be sufficient ground for an impeachment complaint against the President.

But with the House dominated by the President’s allies, Suarez said impeaching him would be difficult “even if we had damning proof of it.”

He said the House prosecution team apparently had not taken into consideration the impact of its “hurried and ill-conceived” impeachment complaint against Corona, specifically the inclusion of the SALN and belated addition of ill-gotten wealth charges, on the President and his allies in Congress.

Suarez said Corona would have an easier time explaining the sudden jump in his SALN because it involved a smaller amount and covered close to a decade than the President whose wealth surged in one year.

Just like in the case of Corona, Suarez said the President should reveal how much taxes he paid, including those of his siblings, based on the assumption that the money came from his share of the Hacienda Luisita.

Contrary to the “brash and sweeping” claim of the prosecution that Corona could be pinned down solely on his SALN, Suarez said the Chief Justice should be able to explain the discrepancy between the values of his properties in his SALN and tax declarations because there was no “hard and fast rule” on how much should an asset be booked in a public official’s SALN.

Llamas has ‘apologized’ to Aquino for pirated discs, but probe still on By Christine O. Avendaño Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:57 pm | Sunday, January 29th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Would an apology to no less than the President save his job?

Presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas (photo) may know the answer on Monday.

Llamas said on Sunday he had apologized to President Aquino over last week’s incident in which he was photographed by the Inquirer’s Bandera editor buying pirated DVDs in a Quezon City mall.

Five days after the Inquirer ran the story and a picture of him in the mall, Llamas finally broke his silence on the issue. He said he saw the President last Friday to explain his side.

“He told me I had to undergo internal processes and investigation,” Llamas said in a phone interview. Asked whether he apologized to the Chief Executive for the incident, Llamas said he did.

Llamas gave no other details on what he talked about with Aquino, saying he did not want to preempt the investigation results the Palace would be releasing by Monday, at the earliest.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. is expected to release a memorandum on the case.

“I do not want to preempt them,” Lllamas said.

Asked whether he was prepared for whatever decision the Palace would have, Llamas simply said, “Yup.”

Llamas has found himself on the hot seat after the controversial photograph and newspaper article by Dona Policar, associate editor of Bandera, appeared in the Inquirer and in its sister publication.

Policar saw Llamas buying what turned out to be P2,000 worth of pirated DVDs in a stall at Circle C mall on Congressional Avenue in Quezon City.

Llamas was accompanied by his two bodyguards when he bought the DVDs, in violation of the Anti-Piracy Law and in the face of a government drive against film pirates so the Philippines would be stricken off the international “piracy watchlist.”

When the Philippine Daily Inquirer ran the story last Wednesday, Aquino said he would ask Llamas to explain but added that the controversy was not a top priority given the “many problems” the country was facing, including a bomb explosion in Makati City and the killing of 15 fishermen off Basilan Island by unidentified gunmen.

The Palace gave no other details on the investigation into the DVD incident. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the probe was going on but could not say who or which office was conducting it.

Valte said Malacañang would come out with a “notice” on the case “next week.”

In an earlier statement, the Optical Media Board (OM)B said buyers of pirated DVDs were “not criminally liable” under the Optical Media Act of 1993.

“The purchase of DVDs (that are not original and) not used for commercial activities does not entail liability based on the law on Optical Media. Those in the possession of the same, but who do not sell them, are not penalized,” said lawyer Coco Padilla, chief of the OMB legal division.

“That is what is stated in the law. We can only act based on the authority granted us by law,” Padilla said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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