PALACE: WE NEVER PROMISE A ROSE GARDEN

A straight and narrow path, but never a rose garden. Malacañang yesterday made clear to the public that while the Aquino administration has promised to implement genuine reforms, it did not say that everything would come up roses. The Palace made the clarification amid persistent complaints by light railway train commuters in Metro Manila who suffer daily from inefficient mass transportation. “We have never promised a rose garden,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. He said more Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) coaches would be bought to ease the burden of commuters, who endure packed coaches with weak air-conditioning, prolonged stops at stations and malfunctioning turnstiles. “These are all part of our efforts to tread the straight path,” he said. Lacierda could not say why the acquisition of the train coaches has been repeatedly delayed because this is an issue that involves the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

ALSO: NBI probes MRT chief over alleged $30-M extortion try

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is investigating the extortion allegations against Metro Rail Transit (MRT) General Manager Al Vitangcol III and other transportation officials, Malacañang said Friday. “There is an ongoing investigation with the NBI. So, even the DOTC is waiting for the results of the investigation against Mr. Vitangcol. So let’s just wait for the investigation coming from NBI,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing. He was referring to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC). Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar recently accused Vitangcol, and his emissary, businessman Wilson Devera, and other transportation officials behind the alleged $30-million extortion attempt from a Czech firm in exchange for a contract to supply trains in the Philippines. Lacierda said Vitangcol is already on leave after DOTC started an administrative investigation. “He already went on leave and there is an administrative investigation,” he said in Filipino. Lacierda said Vitangcol and Devera, a member of the Liberal party, are not spared from the investigation. “I am certainly telling you that there’s an investigation that is out there and the President has always said regardless of what kind of investigation: where the evidence leads, we will go there.

ALSO: Palace denies Delfin Lee an Aquino poll donor

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Friday said he does not have any information if real estate magnate Delfin Lee contributed to the campaign fund of President Benigno Aquino 3rd in the 2010 elections. “The lists of contributors and donors have been published by the Comelec [Commission on Elections], and I think you can see from there whether he is a campaign contributor. But I have no specific information on who is a campaign donor,” Lacierda said. Lee is on the government’s list of high-profile fugitives, along with Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes and former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. An anti-crime watchdog lashed out at the President for his “cavalier” attitude toward Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, who was sacked as head of Task Force Tugis a week after his men arrested Lee on March 6. Dante Jimenez, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman, attributed the President’s censure of Capa to Lee’s role in Aquino’s campaign. Lacierda said the President has nothing to hide from the people, and added the government will not be affected by speculation.

ALSO: ‘Charge PNoy allies too’--VP Binay

Binay, House bloc dare govt avoid partisanship. Vice President Jejomar Binay dared the government Wednesday to prosecute not only his allies, but those allied with the Aquino administration implicated in the pork barrel scam. Binay’s statement followed the announcement Tuesday by the Office of the Ombudsman that it would file plunder and graft charges against three opposition senators, two of whom were allied with Binay, as well as 44 others that included Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam. “If it stops with filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies and confines itselt to the [Janet] Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship, not justice, is the sole motivation behind these charges,” Binay said in a statement. The President’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said there was no concerted effort to target the opposition lawmakers, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., even though the Ombudsman’s announcement coincided with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommendation that they be charged. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said it would also investigate the three opposition senators for tax violations. Estrada denounced what he called the Ombudsman’s selective or “color-coded” indictment of opposition lawmakers, and cast doubts on its claims of “a careful and thorough investigation.” “In my experience, the trite expression ‘after a careful and thorough investigation’ used in resolutions by government investigators is the best indicator that no such thing was done. Ask for proof and they cannot present evidence of such a careful and thorough investigation,” Estrada said.

ALSO: For shielding corrupt allies, Noy branded as crook himself

For continuously turning a blind eye on Cabinet members and allies accused of dipping their hands into public funds, President Aquino should be branded as protector of the crooks, if not being a crook himself, anti-graft crusader lawyer Argee Guevarra of Sanlakas said yesterday. In an interview, Guevarra, who has filed plunder cases against Aquino’s Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, said despite the progress the administration claims it had achieved on its anti-corruption drive, which is mainly the Palace-scripted pork barrel scam, the President’s refusal to probe into his allies who are reportedly involved in corrupt practices has become too glaring it appears he is not only protecting them, but might be also engaged in the illegal activities himself. “Growing up we used to hear the age old maxim of show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. This presupposes that the close company we keep, those we trust and confidently rely on, categorically defines our own personality and the way we run our affairs in life,” Guevarra said. “The current administration has been promoting its governance image under the ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path) mantra and has made its avowed anti-corruption campaign the pillar of its administration. However, its efforts have been challenged by allegations of corruption and impropriety heaved on a number of his trusted officials, friends and family members in the past four years,” he stressed. Guevarra cited in particular, the case of Alcala, whom he charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman, linking him to anomalous transactions including the Napoles – Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam among others. READ MORE


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We never promised a rose garden – Palace

MANILA, APRIL 7, 2014 (PHILSTAR) A straight and narrow path, but never a rose garden.

Malacañang yesterday made clear to the public that while the Aquino administration has promised to implement genuine reforms, it did not say that everything would come up roses.

The Palace made the clarification amid persistent complaints by light railway train commuters in Metro Manila who suffer daily from inefficient mass transportation.

“We have never promised a rose garden,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

He said more Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) coaches would be bought to ease the burden of commuters, who endure packed coaches with weak air-conditioning, prolonged stops at stations and malfunctioning turnstiles.

“These are all part of our efforts to tread the straight path,” he said.

Lacierda could not say why the acquisition of the train coaches has been repeatedly delayed because this is an issue that involves the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“We can ask the DOTC what the interventions are. The short-term interventions are really to provide diligence, comfort, and also to make sure that the trains run on time,” Lacierda told a news briefing.

“The long term intervention in the MRT program is really to purchase the coaches and I think that’s already in the process. But we understand the difficulty,” he said.

Lacierda cited the administration’s efforts to reform the system, but everything cannot be done overnight, especially because the problems they inherited from the previous regime are gargantuan in nature.

“We’re moving toward good governance and certainly it will take time for us to effect change,” he said.

“There are always bumps in the roads, obstacles that we will try to overcome,” he added. “Hopefully, we can find someone who will continue to tread the straight path beyond 2016. This is for the good of the Filipino people.”

Inclusive economic growth

Meanwhile, Malacañang also said yesterday that all government agencies are vigorously pursuing the priority programs of the Philippine Development Plan.

This came after a survey was released showing that people were having difficulty spending for basic goods such as food and medicine.

According to Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the government is firmly determined to achieve inclusive and sustainable long-term economic development and growth on a platform of good governance.

“Other public opinion surveys have shown consistently that our people repose their trust on the President’s leadership and give his administration high marks on performance approval,” Coloma said.

He said the government “continues to welcome proposals from concerned stakeholders on how delivery of public services can be improved and counts on the support of the citizenry in its advocacy of transparency, accountability and good governance.” – Delon Porcalla Aurea Calica

FROM THE INQUIRER

NBI probes MRT chief over alleged $30-M extortion try By Nestor Corrales INQUIRER.net 6:04 pm | Friday, April 4th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is investigating the extortion allegations against Metro Rail Transit (MRT) General Manager Al Vitangcol III and other transportation officials, Malacañang said Friday.

“There is an ongoing investigation with the NBI. So, even the DOTC is waiting for the results of the investigation against Mr. Vitangcol. So let’s just wait for the investigation coming from NBI,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing.

He was referring to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar recently accused Vitangcol, and his emissary, businessman Wilson Devera, and other transportation officials behind the alleged $30-million extortion attempt from a Czech firm in exchange for a contract to supply trains in the Philippines.

Lacierda said Vitangcol is already on leave after DOTC started an administrative investigation.
“He already went on leave and there is an administrative investigation,” he said in Filipino.

Lacierda said Vitangcol and Devera, a member of the Liberal party, are not spared from the investigation.

“I am certainly telling you that there’s an investigation that is out there and the President has always said regardless of what kind of investigation: where the evidence leads, we will go there.

Asked if Vitangcol should just resign, he said: “Well, again, this is part of due process. There is a due process. Let us just wait for the investigation,” he said.

Rychtar also accused Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of sitting on the said case since the issue has been exposed last year.

Rychtar said Abaya scolded him over the phone after Aquino’s sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and her husband Eldon Cruz were dragged into the alleged extortion attempt.

Lacierda, however, denied this allegation saying Abaya did not call up or shout at Rychtar over issue.

He assured the public of a fair investigation saying, “We’re moving towards good governance and certainly it will take time for us to effect change. But what is important is that good governance should start from the top.”

FROM MANILA TIMES

Palace denies Delfin Lee an Aquino poll donor April 4, 2014 10:38 pm by Catherine S. Valente Reporter

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Friday said he does not have any information if real estate magnate Delfin Lee contributed to the campaign fund of President Benigno Aquino 3rd in the 2010 elections.

“The lists of contributors and donors have been published by the Comelec [Commission on Elections], and I think you can see from there whether he is a campaign contributor. But I have no specific information on who is a campaign donor,” Lacierda said.

Lee is on the government’s list of high-profile fugitives, along with Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes and former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr.

An anti-crime watchdog lashed out at the President for his “cavalier” attitude toward Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, who was sacked as head of Task Force Tugis a week after his men arrested Lee on March 6.

Dante Jimenez, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman, attributed the President’s censure of Capa to Lee’s role in Aquino’s campaign.

Lacierda said the President has nothing to hide from the people, and added the government will not be affected by speculation.

“There is a pending case [against] him [Lee]. We have never shied away from prosecuting anyone that has been charged. So, the DOJ [Department of Justice], insofar as the government is concerned, will prosecute its case against Delfin Lee,” he added.

The President earlier censured Capa for bringing his complaint to the media.

He said that Capa did a “disservice” to the Philippine National Police with his actions.

“Let’s say he showed excellence, which should be rewarded and acknowledged. But I can’t help but think. He goes out to the media, says this and that, keeps quiet for a while, then, goes back to the media. And I really think [that] does the service a disservice. He’s ruining the institution that he’s serving,” Aquino said.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

‘Charge PNoy allies too’ By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan, Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta | Apr. 03, 2014 at 12:01am


Binay, House bloc dare govt avoid partisanship

VICE President Jejomar Binay dared the government Wednesday to prosecute not only his allies, but those allied with the Aquino administration implicated in the pork barrel scam.

Binay’s statement followed the announcement Tuesday by the Office of the Ombudsman that it would file plunder and graft charges against three opposition senators, two of whom were allied with Binay, as well as 44 others that included Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam.

“If it stops with filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies and confines itselt to the [Janet] Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship, not justice, is the sole motivation behind these charges,” Binay said in a statement.

The President’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said there was no concerted effort to target the opposition lawmakers, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., even though the Ombudsman’s announcement coincided with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommendation that they be charged.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said it would also investigate the three opposition senators for tax violations.

Estrada denounced what he called the Ombudsman’s selective or “color-coded” indictment of opposition lawmakers, and cast doubts on its claims of “a careful and thorough investigation.”

“In my experience, the trite expression ‘after a careful and thorough investigation’ used in resolutions by government investigators is the best indicator that

no such thing was done. Ask for proof and they cannot present evidence of such a careful and thorough investigation,” Estrada said.

He added that the charges against him were politically motivated, since he is widely expected to run for the vice presidency in 2016.

Revilla, on the other hand, is expected to be the standard bearer for the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) two years from now.

Enrile, whose term ends in 2016, is a top official of the opposition and one of the founders of the United Nationalist Alliance.

“We were only three opposition senators highlighted (in the filing). There were no administration lawmakers. This is really suspicious,” Estrada told a TV interview on ABS-CBN Wednesday.

Binay said the government must also file cases against administration allies who were cited in the Commission on Audit (COA) report released last year.

“The public would want no less than full accountability from its public officials. The rule of law must prevail regardless of stature or political affiliations,” Binay said.

“The COA has mentioned other legislators and other fake NGOs [non-government organizations] in a comprehensive report last year. We hope the concerned government agencies will act on these findings with the same determination and focus displayed in the Napoles case,” he said.

While Enrile and Estrada are Binay’s allies in the United Nationalist Alliance, Revilla from the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats is an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

All three senators have been accused of channeling their pork barrel to bogus NGOs set up by Napoles for ghost projects in exchange for kickbacks.

All three have denied the charges.

Binay said he was confident that the three senators would receive fair treatment in court.

He also said that the Ombudsman’s decision to file the case against them was “a test of fairness and trustworthiness of our legal system.”

The three senators were among 47 people facing plunder, malversation and graft charges before the Ombudsman.

Revilla was accused of pocketing P224.5 million; Enrile, P172.8 million; and Estrada, P183.79 million in kickbacks.

Also on the list were Masbate Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, former congressmen Edgar Valdez of the APEC party-list, Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro, and Richard Cambe, Pauline Labayen, Joy Sumalpong, Jeannete Dela Cruz, Erwin Dangwa, and Carlos Lozada.

Former National Agribusiness Corp. president Alan Javellana, National Livelihood Development Corp. president Gondelina Amata, Technology Resource Center former director general Antonio Ortiz, TRC director general Dennis Cunanan, and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup were also included in the list.

The independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives denounced what it called the continuing political persecution of Administration critics, and demanded that the Palace move against its allies who were implicated in the pork barrel scandal as well.

“We protest the deliberate delays in the filing of complaints and charges against Palace allies whose names have been mentioned in the pork barrel scam. The political persecution against critics... must stop now,” said Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who leads the bloc.

“Everybody should be made answerable and accountable. Our authorities should not hesitate to go after people regardless of their political affiliation,” he added.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz demanded that officials of the Department of Budget and Management, COA and legislators identified with the Aquino administration also be made accountable for their role in the pork barrel scam.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan urged the Aquino government to also focus its attention on the filing of cases against other lawmakers who are allies of the President and his administration.

“Aquino succeeded in going after his political opponents. While it may be a positive development in holding corrupt officials responsible, still it is not enough. They haven’t gone to jail yet and many of the guilty co-conspirators are still free,” Ilagan told the Manila Standard.

Ilagan also assailed the Aquino government of selective persecution.

“The vindictiveness is obvious here but the determination to see justice find its course is missing,” Ilagan added.

Paranaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, on the other hand, said the filing of charges would give the lawmakers an opportunity to defend themselves in court.

“The indictments will provide a forum for the respondents to formally answer the charges and air their side on the controversy.” Tambunting said.

House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna said he believed the Office of the Ombudsman had strong cases against the respondents.

“Even if it took some time for the Ombudsman to resolve the preliminary investigation, I am convinced that the Ombudsman has well-prepared cases because it underwent a thorough review and preparation,” Tugna said.

Napoles was named co-defendant in each of the cases against the three senators along with John Raymond de Asis and John Ronald Lim, who were identified as officials of her NGOs.

Named in two counts in connection with Enrile and Estrada was Ruby Tuason, who is hoping to turn state witness.

Also facing one plunder case each are Enrile’s chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Revilla’s chief political staff Richard Cambe and Estrada’s appointments staff Pauline Therese Mary Labayen.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said all the defendants still have an opportunity to file motions for reconsideration within five days upon receipt of the Ombudsman’s resolution.

He said the Ombudsman was considering asking the anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, to immediately freeze the assets of all defendants through a writ of preliminary attachment and seek hold departure orders against them.

Bail is not allowed for plunder, a capital offense, so all the defendants face possible arest and detention for the duration of the trial.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who has had a long-running feud with Enrile, said once the Ombudsman files the case with the Sandiganbayan, the accused senators “are automatically and instantaneously” suspended from public office. They will then be dragged to jail, she said.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

For shielding corrupt allies, Noy branded as crook himself Written by Charlie V. Manalo Monday, 07 April 2014 00:00


PNoy

MANILA -For continuously turning a blind eye on Cabinet members and allies accused of dipping their hands into public funds, President Aquino should be branded as protector of the crooks, if not being a crook himself, anti-graft crusader lawyer Argee Guevarra of Sanlakas said yesterday.

In an interview, Guevarra, who has filed plunder cases against Aquino’s Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, said despite the progress the administration claims it had achieved on its anti-corruption drive, which is mainly the Palace-scripted pork barrel scam, the President’s refusal to probe into his allies who are reportedly involved in corrupt practices has become too glaring it appears he is not only protecting them, but might be also engaged in the illegal activities himself.

“Growing up we used to hear the age old maxim of show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. This presupposes that the close company we keep, those we trust and confidently rely on, categorically defines our own personality and the way we run our affairs in life,” Guevarra said.

“The current administration has been promoting its governance image under the ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path) mantra and has made its avowed anti-corruption campaign the pillar of its administration. However, its efforts have been challenged by allegations of corruption and impropriety heaved on a number of his trusted officials, friends and family members in the past four years,” he stressed.

Guevarra cited in particular, the case of Alcala, whom he charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman, linking him to anomalous transactions including the Napoles – Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam among others.

Guevarra has accused Alcala of financing the losing gubernatorial bid of his son lrvin Alcala in Quezon province in 2013 with hundreds of millions from public funds supposedly for agricultural projects.

Accordingly, hundreds of millions of government funds were funnelled and diverted to pay community volunteers and organizers of the younger Alcala’s campaign through various attached agencies of the DA.
Guevarra’s case is the third plunder complaint lodged against Alcala and linked with the Janet Lim Napoles PDAF scam.

However, even before his stint as DA secretary, he had also been implicated in a multimillion peso anomaly that allegedly transpired during his term as Congressman.

Included with Alcala in the plunder case Guevarra filed is National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) chief executive Honesto Baniqued.

To substantiate his cases against Alcala and his co-accused, Guevara cited the Commission on Audit (CoA) report which pointed to the misuse of billions resulting from the NABCOR’s lack of disbursement vouchers accounting for funds from the DA.

The lawyer alleged Alcala and Baniqued rewarded themselves and the government-controlled corporation’s board with hefty salaries, allowances and bonuses amounting to P23.6 million.

In his complaint the Sanalakas leader stated that “”Given the unassailable COA Report as of December 31, 2012 and the unexplained enormous wealth of the respondent Alcala, there is substantial evidence to establish that hundreds of millions if not billions by the respondents and their minions, followers, allies, relatives, dummies and business associates.”

Aside from the case he has filed, Guevarra also pointed that Alcala was also accused together with National Food Authority (NFA) head Orlan Galayag of having pocketed billions of pesos in kickbacks from the April and November 2013 Vietnam rice importations.

According to news reports published in a national daily, 205,700 metric tons (MT) of rice imports in April 2013 were overpriced by $34 per MT for a total of $6,993,800, while another 500,000 MT imported in November were overpriced by $23.69 or a total of $11,845,000).

The news item reported that the prevailing import prices for Vietnamese rice during the period in April and November were $425.70 and $438.56 per MT, respectively. The quoted prices already included add-on costs for freight ($25/MT), insurance ($5/MT) and delivery from the port of entry to the NFA warehouse ($30.70/MT).

However the NFA paid Vinafoods II $459.70 and $462.25 per metric ton for the shipments. AII in all the alleged kickbacks amounted to close to $20 Million.

In the Senate investigation conducted in that regards, Guevarra recalled Senator Cynthia Villar asked how come there are still commissions when the contract for rice importation is a government to government transaction.

This, Guevarra said, supports the leaked information which went around stating that the officials of the NFA met with their counterparts in a Singaporean hotel.

More intriguing, according to Guevarra, is the fact that the rice shipments had already been ordered and shipped even before the NFA secured the required approval from the government’s Fiscal Review Incentives Board (FIRB).

Under its rules and regulations, the NFA cannot order rice imports until the FIRB, which is composed of the Department of Finance (DoF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), gives the go- ahead for the tariff exemption.

Guevarra added that aside from the two agency heads, a number of other heads of the agencies under the DA like the National Irrigation Agency (NIA) and the Bureau of Plants Industry (BPI) also have pending cases of graft.

“Although it is true that these allegations still need to be proven in court, some things are definite and are clear as the day,” said Guevarra.

“One, somebody pocketed the ‘plunderous’ amounts in kickbacks in the rice importations and the entire thing could not have been orchestrated by just lowly employees or even those at the level of a chief of staff. Secondly, the abnormal disbursements for projects and hiring of personnel in one province during election period wherein the son of the DA Secretary was running for the governor’s seat cannot be ignored and just swept under the rug. Moreover, one cannot ignore the fact that these feats needed a lot of political muscle that only the agency heads can muster” Guevarra explained.

“Given the magnitude of the transactions, collusion was evident in all counts, bringing to light the existence of a cabal of corrupt officials in the DA,” the Sanlakas leader averred.

By his incompetence or his involvement, Guevarra said Alcala has condemned the integrity of his office and the DA has now become a graft ridden agency plagued by anomalous deals and shady personalities.

“Definitely the string of allegations of corruption and plunder all deserve the attention of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice and most specially the President, to once and for all get to the truth,” the lawyer said.

“Unfortunately, the President has not lifted a finger against any of his allies accused of enriching themselves amid their avowed campaign against corruption,” Guevarra lamented.

“These by themselves are enough reasons to conclude that the head of the department itself and even the head of this government, is either downright too stupid or incompetent for the position or is part, if not the ring leader of the rampant corruption in the government,” said Guevarra.

“Whatever the case may be, if you harbor a crook then you are also definitely a crook,” Guevarra averred.

Similarly, a former provincial vice governor has castigated the Office of the Ombudsman for its being selective in pursuing cases against the Aquino administration’s political opponents while remaining laid back in cases filed against Aquino’s political allies.

At the same time, ex-Nueva Ecija Vice Governor Edward Thomas Joson III scored the administration of Aquino for also being ‘choosy’ and being biased as he noted that the case involving Gov. Aurelio Umali filed six years ago before the anti-graft office has not been acted upon despite evidence and proofs against the top provincial official.

Joson likewise expressed total dismay over the Ombudsman’s apparent failure to attend to equally similar and high-profile cases like the fertilizer scam as compared to the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles and at least three “opposing” senators who have been implicated in the controversy.

In a forum held late last week at a Quezon City restaurant, Joson urged the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct a separate probe on the “fertilizer scam” filed against Umali, which was similar to the fertilizer fund scam which involved former Agriculture Undersecretary Joc-Joc Bolante.

Joson said the 2008 complaint against the Nueva Ecija governor, who was then a congressman of the 3rd District, should also be reinvestigated upon noticing that it also linked on Napoles’ bogus foundations. Arlie O. Calalo


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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