RE KILLINGS, VACC TO AQUINO: SACK ROXAS, PURISIMA

AMID Malacañang’s admission that it is difficult to curb crime, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to sack Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima for their failure to address “the worsening crime rate in the country.” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. cited on Wednesday the acute lack of policemen as a reason behind the seeming rise of criminality in the country. He said the “systemic” problem of crime also leads to the low solution rate for criminal cases. But Coloma insisted that the government is working to address these shortcomings and that the PNP is determined to step up its campaign against crime prevention. These assurances, however, failed to comfort the VACC, which noted the three-fold increase in crimes such as murder, robbery with homicide, illegal drug trafficking and rape over the past four years. In a letter addressed to the President dated June 17, Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of VACC, noted that that murders and robberies that are reported in the media every day indicate that the peace and order in the country is deteriorating fast. Jimenez said most killings are carried out by gunmen on motorcycles and many such incidents remained unsolved. “The escape of convicted felons in heinous crime cases from jails and [the grant] of special treatment to rich and influential prisoners have also become rampant,” he pointed out. Jimenez said the President should sack Roxas and Purisima so that they can be replaced by competent individuals. As secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Roxas has control of the PNP. READ MORE...

ALSO: VACC quizzes donation for PNP chief’s ‘White House’

A crime watchdog has branded the construction of a new “White House,” the official residence of Philip-pine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima inside Camp Crame as “untimely” and “immoral.” Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez, who earlier had called on President Aquino to sack Purisima and his immediate boss Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Mar Roxas for the recent spate of high-profile killings, called for transparency in the construction of the White House. “It is immoral and untimely and not a priority expense. The PNP chief is the sole beneficiary of that White House,” Jimenez said. The VACC also appealed to the President to look into the matter. “Subject it to audit if the costing was correct, validate and release the costing,” Jimenez said. Earlier, PNP Public Information Office chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac had belied the reported P25 million construction of the new residence for the chief PNP. Sindac claimed friends of Purisima, many of them from the Free and Accepted Masons, offered to shoulder the construction of the two-story structure. Purisima, reports said, is now a mason grandmaster. Jimenez, however, stressed that even if the fund used in the construction was supposedly a donation, there is still a need to look into the matter. “There is a need to look into that if it’s true. If this is a donation, P25 million is a huge amount and the PNP can use it to buy additional equipment... even if it was a donation, it is still immoral,” Jimenez stressed. The construction of a new official residence of the chief PNP came amid calls for Purisima to step down amid various controversies and criticisms over the spate of high-profile killings in various parts of the country recently. The PNP is currently under fire for the missing 1,004 AK47 rifles believed to have fallen into the hands of the New People’s Army.

ALSO: UN sets probe on Philippine killings; Also on poverty, govt neglect in Yolanda-hit areas

FOR the first time, the United Nations will send a delegation of special rapporteurs to the Philippines to conduct independent probes on extrajudicial killings, escalating human rights violations, government neglect, forced evictions and extreme poverty. The special rapporteurs will also look specifically into the government’s slow response to issues raised by survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, seven months after the killer typhoon flattened Eastern Visayas, said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. Palabay was among those that represented the Philippine human rights delegation belonging to the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights (EcuVoice) in the 26th United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. “In the first quarter of 2014 , human rights group Karapatan recorded 21 victims of extrajudicial killings and 23 victims of frustrated killings under the... Aquino administration,” Palabay told the UN council, which included Philip Alston, newly appointed UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. ***In 2010, he said, adaptation finance inflow amounted to $186.4 million. For 2011, adaptation funding was $87.7 million, and $89.5 million in 2012. “These funds were reported by contributor-countries through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and multilateral and bilateral banks as sources for climate change adaptation initiative funding in the country.” “But what activities were supported? Who were the contributing countries and institutions? Which national agency or organization received adaptation funding? These are important questions,” Dela Cruz said. Among the major donors for the Ondoy catastrophe from 2009 to 2012 were the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden Switzerland, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, Korea, New Zealand, European Union (Institutions), Canada, Italy, Ireland and such multilateral financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, UN Development Program and the World Bank, Dela Cruz said. He said the Aquino government has yet to make public the list of projects funded by the foreign donations. With Joyce Pangco Pañares...READ FULL REPORT

ALSO: Amid Nora Aunor snub, Aquino’s list of Nat’l Artists serves PH interest—Palace

Malacañang on Sunday remained unable to explain President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to drop Nora Aunor from this year’s roster of national artists but insisted that his decision “will best serve the national interest.” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he has yet to discuss the issue with Aquino but that the decision will always be the President’s prerogative. “It is the duty of the President to decide on who among the shortlisted nominees deserve to be conferred the Order of the National Artist. In making the decision, the President considered how each of the nominees measured up to the criteria for choice,” Coloma said. “We are certain that his decision was based on what will best serve the national interest because the Order of the National Artist gives recognition to those who excelled in the arts and letters and embodied the goodness and nobility of the Filipino people,” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Clamor mounts for Pnoy to charge his allies

From lawmakers to lawyers to bishops to militant groups, there is a mounting clamor for the filing of charges against Budget chief Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala among other Palace allies implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. This time, it was the the turn of student- leaders to protest Malacanang’s alleged bias for the presidential allies while the House independent minority bloc renewed its call for an end to the selective prosecution of personalities implicated in the “pork” scandal. Abad, Alcala --This developed as Janet Lim Napoles, through her lawyer Steve David, reiterated her allegation that Abad was the mentor who helped Napoles set up non-government organizations as conduits of the pork barrel funds. “Even whistleblower Merlinas Sunas implicated Abad in the pork barrel misuse,” David said. Abad used to borrow money from JLN Co (Napoles’ company) which was returned with interest, David added. Adding to the anti-pork sentiment, student activists held a rally at the Chino Roces Bridge near Malacañang Palace on Saturday to denounce the selective prosecution engineered by the Palace. Charlotte Velasco of the League of Filipino Students said the government should not only charge opposition Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada but also some of the President’s men like Abad, Alcala and Joel Villanueva, director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes also questioned why Abad, Alcala and Villanueva have not been charged although they have been tainted by the pork scandal while the cases against other suspects were even railroaded. “There are still others out there who need to be investigated, need to be charged. We’re talking about people who are members of the Cabinet of the Aquino administration, political allies in the Liberal Party,” Reyes said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Saturday. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Sack Roxas, Purisima, VACC urges Aquino

MANILA, JUNE 23, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter and Jefferson Antiporda Reporter - AMID Malacañang’s admission that it is difficult to curb crime, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to sack Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima for their failure to address “the worsening crime rate in the country.”

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. cited on Wednesday the acute lack of policemen as a reason behind the seeming rise of criminality in the country. He said the “systemic” problem of crime also leads to the low solution rate for criminal cases.

But Coloma insisted that the government is working to address these shortcomings and that the PNP is determined to step up its campaign against crime prevention.

These assurances, however, failed to comfort the VACC, which noted the three-fold increase in crimes such as murder, robbery with homicide, illegal drug trafficking and rape over the past four years.

In a letter addressed to the President dated June 17, Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of VACC, noted that that murders and robberies that are reported in the media every day indicate that the peace and order in the country is deteriorating fast.

Jimenez said most killings are carried out by gunmen on motorcycles and many such incidents remained unsolved.

“The escape of convicted felons in heinous crime cases from jails and [the grant] of special treatment to rich and influential prisoners have also become rampant,” he pointed out.

Jimenez said the President should sack Roxas and Purisima so that they can be replaced by competent individuals. As secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Roxas has control of the PNP.

His group is also suggesting the removal from the service of all crooked police officials who have been recidivists and those involved in various irregularities in the PNP. It also sought a review of cases of police officers involved in criminal activities but who were ordered reinstated by the National Police Commission.

Coloma said as part of the campaign to deter crime, more uniformed policemen were deployed in the communities.

“In 1986, when the population was only 50 million, the strength of the [police force] was more or less 125,000. So that’s a coverage ratio of one police officer per 400 citizens,” the official explained.

Coloma bewailed the fact that the PNP now has only a force of 148,000 when the population has surged dramatically to 97 million.

“Therefore, the coverage ratio has increased to one police officer for
every 675. Even if they recruit 18,500 additional police officers, the ratio would be reduced to one for every 579,” he said.

At the same time, Coloma added that he finds it “unacceptable” that the solution rate of crimes improved only from 13 percent to 37 percent, which means that only one in three cases is resolved.

“As far as we are concerned, that is not acceptable because this means that only one out of three crimes are being solved… If citizens are aware that [a] crime will remain unsolved anyway, then this would really embolden criminals in committing their misdeeds,” he said.

“So we have to intensify our crime prevention and law enforcement efforts despite what the figures may be showing now,” Coloma added.
He said crime solution must be “100 percent.”

“There should be no unsolved crime. So we are saying that we would like to be able to improve despite figures that say there are already improvements because unsolved crimes are not acceptable in our standards,” Coloma added.

Despite these shortcomings, he said law enforcement fares well under the system at present, which, however, has “systemic problems.”

“The law enforcement aspect is only one of the elements of that system. What we face here is a systemic problem, which is the need to reform the entire criminal justice system, which we will have to do step-by-step,” Coloma pointed out.

He confirmed that the Palace received a letter from the VACC that proposed the setting up of a state-of-the-art prison facility and the requirement for motorcycle riders to wear vests with visible markings of the vehicle’s license plate.

“We welcome suggestions from citizens on how to improve law enforcement and crime prevention. VACC’s letter was received yesterday afternoon at the Office of the President and has been referred to the Office of the Executive Secretary. With regard to the reported claim by VACC that the crime rate has increased during the Aquino administration, we also take note of research data published by [another newspaper] showing that crime incidence had been dropping since 2010,” Coloma said.

To curb the rising crime wave, he noted that the PNP has directed the setting up of checkpoints in critical areas and ordered tighter gun control measures.

Despite the controversies hounding the PNP, Purisima said he has no plans of bowing out from the police service.

In an interview aired over ABS-CBN on Tuesday night, the PNP chief said he will continue working as the country’s top policeman until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 in November next year.

Under Purisima’s leadership, the PNP has been under fire because of a number of “high-profile” incidents that has put the police chief’s leadership under a cloud.

Among the intrigues and controversies were the Atimonan Massacre, his order to stop support to the Officers’ Ladies Club, the plunder charges filed against him at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly anomalous deal that the PNP entered into with a courier service and the series of killings nationwide, which has alarmed the President.

Purisima called a command conference on Monday to discuss ways to enhance security measures. With Anthony Vargas

FROM THE TRIBUNE

VACC quizzes donation for PNP chief’s ‘White House’ Written by Tribune Monday, 23 June 2014 00:00


(PNP) Director General Alan Purisima

A crime watchdog has branded the construction of a new “White House,” the official residence of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima inside Camp Crame as “untimely” and “immoral.”

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez, who earlier had called on President Aquino to sack Purisima and his immediate boss Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Mar Roxas for the recent spate of high-profile killings, called for transparency in the construction of the White House.

“It is immoral and untimely and not a priority expense. The PNP chief is the sole beneficiary of that White House,” Jimenez said.

The VACC also appealed to the President to look into the matter.

“Subject it to audit if the costing was correct, validate and release the costing,” Jimenez said.

Earlier, PNP Public Information Office chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac had belied the reported P25 million construction of the new residence for the chief PNP.

Sindac claimed friends of Purisima, many of them from the Free and Accepted Masons, offered to shoulder the construction of the two-story structure.

Purisima, reports said, is now a mason grandmaster.

Jimenez, however, stressed that even if the fund used in the construction was supposedly a donation, there is still a need to look into the matter.

“There is a need to look into that if it’s true. If this is a donation, P25 million is a huge amount and the PNP can use it to buy additional equipment... even if it was a donation, it is still immoral,” Jimenez stressed.

The construction of a new official residence of the chief PNP came amid calls for Purisima to step down amid various controversies and criticisms over the spate of high-profile killings in various parts of the country recently.

The PNP is currently under fire for the missing 1,004 AK47 rifles believed to have fallen into the hands of the New People’s Army.

Purisima is facing P100-million plunder case in connection with the PNP agreement with Wer Fast for the delivery of firearms license cards to gun owners.

Purisima laughed off the plunder case as an “amateurish” attempt to discredit the police organization.

Among the high-profile murders were the daring shooting of Richard King, owner of Crown Regency chain of hotels, inside his office in Davao City and the ambush-killing of champion car racer Ferdinand “Enzo” Pastor in Quezon City last week. Mario J. Mallari

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

UN sets probe on PH killings By Christine F. Herrera | Jun. 17, 2014 at 12:01am

Also on poverty, govt neglect in Yolanda-hit areas

FOR the first time, the United Nations will send a delegation of special rapporteurs to the Philippines to conduct independent probes on extrajudicial killings, escalating human rights violations, government neglect, forced evictions and extreme poverty.

The special rapporteurs will also look specifically into the government’s slow response to issues raised by survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, seven months after the killer typhoon flattened Eastern Visayas, said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Palabay was among those that represented the Philippine human rights delegation belonging to the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights (EcuVoice) in the 26th United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, Switzerland.

“In the first quarter of 2014 , human rights group Karapatan recorded 21 victims of extrajudicial killings and 23 victims of frustrated killings under the... Aquino administration,” Palabay told the UN council, which included Philip Alston, newly appointed UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

Alston expressed keen interest in looking into the new allegations after he learned that the Aquino administration had done nothing to implement his recommendations, several years after he came out with an official report, Palabay said.

In 2007, Alston, who was then the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, came to the Philippines to investigate the cases of extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo administration.

In his report seven years ago, Alston pointed to the responsibility of the government, military and police in the targeted killings and disappearances of hundreds of political activists and those tagged as rebel supporters as part of the counter-insurgency campaign of the state.

He recommended a checklist of concrete steps that the Philippine government should do to address and abate the rights violations.

“We told Alston that seven years after his trendsetting report that continues to reverberate in the human rights community, most of his recommendations remain unheeded or just given lip service as impunity persists,” Palabay said.

“Alston expressed keen concern over these reports and said he will look into these issues complementary to what other UN human rights experts called mandate-holders would do,” Palabay said.

Among the rapporteurs who will be coming to investigate are Chaloka Beyani and Gabriela Knaul, Palabay said.

Palabay said Beyani, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, is slated to conduct his official visit this year.

Knaul has yet to secure an invitation from the Philippine government following her request to visit the Philippines, she added.

During the UN conference, EcuVoice also submitted a report on the impoverished conditions of the 2,102 farmworkers who lost their livelihood in Hacienda Luisita and were dislocated through the maneuvers of the family of President Benigno Aquino III in implementing the Supreme Court order to redistribute the lands in the hacienda.

“Several complaints on the forced eviction of the urban poor in many communities in Metro Manila were also submitted to the UN,” Palabay said.

She said Geneva-based country missions of Ireland, Austria, Canada, Norway and The Netherlands met with Filipino rights advocates on the continuing extrajudicial killings, filing of trumped-up charges against activists, poverty and loss of livelihood of farm workers and forced evictions of urban poor communities in the Philippines.

Typhoon Yolanda survivor Rev. Irma Balaba, assistant program secretary of the Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations program of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, emphasized that “seven months after the typhoon, hunger, absence of decent shelter or housing, and a dearth of livelihood pervade among several communities in the Eastern Visayas region.”

“More than seven months after super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the Philippines, the survivors continue to languish in appalling conditions with scarce, if any, access to shelter, potable water, basic services, and sustainable livelihood, despite the outpouring of support from the international community,” Balaba, also a member of EcuVoice, told the UN body.

During the UN conference, the EcuVoice delegation enjoined the independent experts to look into reports of forced evacuations due to military operations, forced evictions, the continuing displacement of typhoon Yolanda victims, and the attacks against human rights lawyers in the Philippines.

Knaul was to look into the independence of judges and lawyers and the attacks against them.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), provided updates for Knaul on the escalating tactics employed to jeopardize, not just the independence of lawyers and judges, but their very lives and personal security, particularly human rights lawyers.

He pointed out the continuing killings of lawyers and judges as well as various attacks like labeling, surveillance, hacking of phones and email, and filing of nuisance charges against rights lawyers.

The EcuVoice delegates also brought the issue of women detainees by highlighting the case of political prisoner Andrea Rosal, who was seven months pregnant when she was arrested and detained in March on the basis of dubious charges.

“The UN body holding sessions at Palais des Nations heard how Rosal did not receive proper, immediate and adequate maternal and pre-natal care due to the insensitivity and negligence of prison officials and guards, endured and continues to suffer inhumane treatment together with 31 other women detainees who shared her cramped and squalid cell. Still under detention, Rosal gave birth to a daughter, who died within two days,” Palabay said.

“In contrast to the inordinate delay of bringing the then expectant mother to the hospital from the infernal jailhouse, the prison officials, lawyer and doctor hastily whisked Rosal back despite the absence of any medical clearance from her attending doctors,” Palabay said.

EcuVoice asked the UN body to look into the case of Rosal for multiple violations of the 1955 UN Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners and the 2010 UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders.

Also on Monday, the Palace urged lawmakers who are demanding an accounting of some P16.4 billion in foreign donations for areas devastated by tropical storm Ondoy in 2009 to formalize their request.

“That (formal request for accounting) would be useful and helpful because we are one in their advocacy that there should be transparency of information and accountability of public funds,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

“In keeping the with the principles of good governance, the records of the government as to how public funds have been used are open and transparent,” Coloma added.

Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap, president of Global Legislators Organization Philippines, along with various civil society groups, demanded an immediate accounting and tracking of climate change finances to ensure better planning and transparency.

“We are talking about millions of dollars that could have made a difference in the lives of the people. Knowing how it was spent should be in our list of priorities if we are keen to build strong adaptive capacity to climate change and resilient communities in the country,” Yap said.

Angelo Kairos dela Cruz, policy coordinator of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, donor-countries provided a total of $367.7 million or P16.4 billion from 2009 to 2012 for Ondoy-stricken areas.

Of the P16.4 billion, Dela Cruz said $4.1 million or P91.92 million was transmitted in 2009 in adaptation-tagged funds. The rest – or more than P15 billion – was received by the Aquino administration, Dela Cruz said.

In 2010, he said, adaptation finance inflow amounted to $186.4 million. For 2011, adaptation funding was $87.7 million, and $89.5 million in 2012.

“These funds were reported by contributor-countries through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and multilateral and bilateral banks as sources for climate change adaptation initiative funding in the country.”

“But what activities were supported? Who were the contributing countries and institutions? Which national agency or organization received adaptation funding? These are important questions,” Dela Cruz said.

Among the major donors for the Ondoy catastrophe from 2009 to 2012 were the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden Switzerland, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, Korea, New Zealand, European Union (Institutions), Canada, Italy, Ireland and such multilateral financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, UN Development Program and the World Bank, Dela Cruz said.

He said the Aquino government has yet to make public the list of projects funded by the foreign donations. With Joyce Pangco Pañares

FROM THE INQUIRER

Amid Nora Aunor snub, Aquino’s list of Nat’l Artists serves PH interest—Palace By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net
June 22, 2014 | 3:09 pm


Nora Aunor FILE PHOTO


MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday remained unable to explain President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to drop Nora Aunor from this year’s roster of national artists but insisted that his decision “will best serve the national interest.”

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he has yet to discuss the issue with Aquino but that the decision will always be the President’s prerogative.

“It is the duty of the President to decide on who among the shortlisted nominees deserve to be conferred the Order of the National Artist. In making the decision, the President considered how each of the nominees measured up to the criteria for choice,” Coloma said.

“We are certain that his decision was based on what will best serve the national interest because the Order of the National Artist gives recognition to those who excelled in the arts and letters and embodied the goodness and nobility of the Filipino people,” he added.

Aquino on Friday declared Alice Reyes as National Artist for Dance, Francisco Coching for Visual Arts, Cirilo Bautista for Literature, Francisco Feliciano for Music, Ramon Santos for Music and Jose Maria Zaragosa for Architecture.

Aunor’s supporters said the actress was included in the list of nominees submitted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. However, she was allegedly dropped by Aquino, who has the power to proclaim all or none of the recommended artists.

“The President has the prerogative to approve all or none, without needing to explain,” Coloma earlier told Inquirer.

Contemporaries of Aunor claimed that the actress was excluded from the prestigious list because of her involvement in past controversies.

“Morality is not part of the criteria; it’s the body of work that matters,” filmmaker Joel Lamangan insisted.

While Jose Javier Reyes, another filmmaker, said, “I am disappointed, but I am not surprised.”

“I hope the Aunor snub was not politically motivated because it would open a can of worms,” he added.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Clamor mounts for PNoy to charge his allies By Rio N. Araja, Maricel Cruz and Jerrylyn Damaso | Jun. 22, 2014 at 12:01am


ABAD AND ALCALA

From lawmakers to lawyers to bishops to militant groups, there is a mounting clamor for the filing of charges against Budget chief Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala among other Palace allies implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

This time, it was the the turn of student- leaders to protest Malacanang’s alleged bias for the presidential allies while the House independent minority bloc renewed its call for an end to the selective prosecution of personalities implicated in the “pork” scandal.

Abad, Alcala

This developed as Janet Lim Napoles, through her lawyer Steve David, reiterated her allegation that Abad was the mentor who helped Napoles set up non-government organizations as conduits of the pork barrel funds. “Even whistleblower Merlinas Sunas implicated Abad in the pork barrel misuse,” David said. Abad used to borrow money from JLN Co (Napoles’ company) which was returned with interest, David added.

Adding to the anti-pork sentiment, student activists held a rally at the Chino Roces Bridge near Malacañang Palace on Saturday to denounce the selective prosecution engineered by the Palace.

Charlotte Velasco of the League of Filipino Students said the government should not only charge opposition Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada but also some of the President’s men like Abad, Alcala and Joel Villanueva, director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes also questioned why Abad, Alcala and Villanueva have not been charged although they have been tainted by the pork scandal while the cases against other suspects were even railroaded.

“There are still others out there who need to be investigated, need to be charged. We’re talking about people who are members of the Cabinet of the Aquino administration, political allies in the Liberal Party,” Reyes said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Saturday.

Reyes said if no charges are filed against these Cabinet officials, it will only prove that the pork barrel scam is merely a political weapon of the Aquino administration.

Their sentiment on the issue was shared by House bloc leader Rep. Martin Romualdez who said all pork-tainted allies of the President should be charged with plunder and graft to ensure that the rule of law, justice and fairness apply to all.

Romualdez and his members vowed to dig deeper into the scam and continue pressing the administration for the same probe of personalities linked to the fraud. “there shuld be no political color and the President’s allies should be included.”

At the same time, Scrap Pork Network spokeswoman Michelle Estor agreed that the public should continue to demand accountability on the issue.

“Now is the time when we will see the strength of the cases that have been filed. So really, we have to be mindful of what we define as victory because not even conviction can be deemed a victory when after conviction you have people being pardoned.”

“The victory to me and to the Scrap Pork Network is really the eradication of the pork barrel system,” she said.

The three activists echoed the view of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines which has also questioned what it believed to be selective indictment of people linked to the scandal.

“There seems to be a selective justice,” IBP president Vicente Joyas. “We are all aware there are many people involved and yet only three are charged.”

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas also called on the government to prosecute all the personalities who have been implicated in the scam.

“Everybody culpable, whatever their political affiliations may be, should be investigated and, if so warranted, indicted. When justice is selective, it is not justice at all,” Villegas said.

But Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda has repeatedly insisted that the Aquino administration has not been selective in its quest for justice as only opposition senators have been slapped with plunder charges in connection with the scam.

“With respect to claims that why we are only going after the three—that is incorrect,” he said last week. “There are three sets of cases actually now in different stages of the proceedings.”

“All charges will be evaluated, whether you are friend or foe. We are color blind as to culpability,” Lacierda added.

President Aquino himself tried to deflect criticism that the prosecution was selective and argued that the scam was revealed during the 2013 elections, but he said the government did not take action until sufficient evidence was gathered.

“We followed the right process: we initiated an investigation, we gathered evidence, and now we have filed the appropriate cases,” Aquino said in Naga City.

“We could have railroaded the cases even without a strong basis just to demolish the names of the candidates who were implicated in the controversy, but we went through the right processes in ferreting the truth. And now they accuse us of politicizing the judicial process? We will let the people decide whose side they will take on this issue,” he added.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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