HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK ...

MALACAÑANG: ONA DID NOT RESIGN; EXTENDED HIS LEAVE

NOV 29 --PHOTO: Health Secretary Enrique Ona gives a lecture in this 2012 photo. Malacañang on Friday belied a newspaper report that Health Secretary Enrique Ona has offered his resignation. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said she spoke with Ona and the official himself denied that he is stepping down from his post. She also found no document related to Ona's supposed resignation. Valte revealed that Ona is only extending his leave of absence. "My understanding is that Secretary Ona has already submitted his report that was asked, that was required of him by President Aquino, and that Secretary Ona is extending his leave of absence to afford the President time to assess the contents of the report that he has submitted," Valte said in a press briefing. She said Ona's leave of absence is not indefinite, but she has no information as to how long it would be. Valte refused to speculate when asked if President Aquino still has confidence in the embattled health chief. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Choice of cheaper vaccine legal– Ona  

DEC 1 --Health Secretary Enrique Ona said his choice to go for a cheaper antipneumonia vaccine, which allowed the government to save more than P231 million, was in accordance with law and the findings of a World Health Organization (WHO) study on two competing vaccines. In his explanation to President Aquino on his controversial choice, Ona said he requested the WHO to evaluate the costs and results associated with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 10 (PCV 10) and PCV 13 amid a debate among Department of Health (DOH) officials and medical experts on what vaccine to procure. A copy of the results of the WHO study on the cost-effectiveness of PCV 10 and its supposedly better-performing counterpart, PCV 13, was received by the DOH on July 17, 2013, six months after he issued the certificate of provisional exemption for PCV 10, Ona said. The WHO study concluded that “introducing either PCV 10 or PCV 13 as part of a national program would be a cost-effective decision for the Philippines,” noting that the benefits of each vaccine would be different.

ALSO: Times St. clash 'exceeded limits of freedom of expression' - Coloma

NOV 30 --Malacanang said the government will not allow the incident in Times Street to happen again as it warned militants of exceeding the limits of freedom of expression. In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the police were only doing their jobs and have, in fact, implemented maximum tolerance. “What the rallyists did in terms of vandalism and inflicting injuries on members of the PNP (Philippine National Police) clearly exceeded the maximum limits of the freedom of expression. We will not allow this to happen again,” he said. Activists belonging to the group Manilakbayan converged at the home of President Benigno Aquino III in Times Street, Quezon City on Saturday morning to condemn, among others, the human rights abuses in Mindanao. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Briones to DBM: Make breakdown of P23-B supplemental budget

PHOTO: ABAD---Budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines yesterday decried as “essentially filled with lumps” the proposed P23-billion supplemental budget that the pro-Aquino Congress is expected to fast track as soon as the 2015 proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) is approved. The Aquino government has sought congressional approval of a P23.34 billion supplemental budget that would reportedly finance the Yolanda reconstruction and preparations for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. But the proposed amounts for these expenditure items have not been detailed in the proposed supplemental budget. In a press statement, Professor Emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones, SWP lead convenor, challenged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to make public a detailed breakdown of the additional budget that the House of Representatives is set to deliberate on. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Justice Sereno tells Palace ruling on DAP can’t be a factor 

NOV 29 --PHOTO CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO: MALACAÑANG should not blame the Supreme Court decision declaring the acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional for the economy’s lackluster performance in the third quarter, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said Friday. She defended the high court ruling on the DAP, which the Executive branch on Thursday claimed resulted in slower government spending that resulted in a lower growth of the gross domestic product. “I see it as a theory and it will remain as that,” Sereno told reporters during the launching of the Justice Zone Project by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council at the Quezon City Hall. The slowdown in the sub-sectors such as financial intermediation and contractions in agriculture and public administration “tempered the pace of growth.” READ THE FULL REPRORT...

(ALSO) Economic slowdown: Palace not blaming SC  

NOV 30--Malacañang is not blaming the Supreme Court (SC) for the growth slowdown in the third quarter even if budget officials see its decision against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as having stymied state spending and ultimately the economy. “As far as I know the administration is not blaming anyone,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday. “That particular statement on the effect (of the SC decision) was not intended to apportion blame, but it was also just a statement that was needed. This is what we had to contend with. We had to make sure that we were not in violation of any of the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court,” she said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Admin solon dismissed on graft, corrupt practices; Ombudsman endorses Cebu solon’s ouster  

PHOTO: Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa. JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS --CEBU CITY—An administration congressman has been ordered dismissed from service for conflict of interest after his two schools were found to have collected from the city government at least P51 million for the tuition and other fees of its scholars while he was still a member of the city council. The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas also found probable cause to file criminal charges against Representative Rodrigo Abellanosa (BOPK, Cebu City south district), who is serving his first term in office, for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. BOPK is a local party allied with the ruling Liberal Party. READ FULL REPORT...


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Malacañang: Ona did not resign


Health Secretary Enrique Ona gives a lecture in this 2012 photo.

MANILA, DECEMBER 1, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - Malacañang on Friday belied a newspaper report that Health Secretary Enrique Ona has offered his resignation.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said she spoke with Ona and the official himself denied that he is stepping down from his post. She also found no document related to Ona's supposed resignation.

Valte revealed that Ona is only extending his leave of absence.

"My understanding is that Secretary Ona has already submitted his report that was asked, that was required of him by President Aquino, and that Secretary Ona is extending his leave of absence to afford the President time to assess the contents of the report that he has submitted," Valte said in a press briefing.

She said Ona's leave of absence is not indefinite, but she has no information as to how long it would be.

Valte refused to speculate when asked if President Aquino still has confidence in the embattled health chief.

"Now that Secretary Ona has given the answers to that, it is now time for the President to assess the answers that have been given to him, and also to perhaps propound additional questions," she said.

"The way that it works with the President is that he really has to go through it to see if the data that has been submitted to him, sufficiently answers his questions," she added.

Ona went on a medical leave on October 28 allegedly due to his personal health issues.

Aquino, however, revealed later that he asked Ona to go on leave so he could come up with a report that would explain his decision to purchase P800 million worth of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) 10 instead of the PCV 13, which as supposedly more cost-efficient and recommended by global health authorities.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Choice of cheaper vaccine legal–Ona Jocelyn R. Uy @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:42 AM | Monday, December 1st, 2014


ONA

MANILA, Philippines–Health Secretary Enrique Ona said his choice to go for a cheaper antipneumonia vaccine, which allowed the government to save more than P231 million, was in accordance with law and the findings of a World Health Organization (WHO) study on two competing vaccines.

In his explanation to President Aquino on his controversial choice, Ona said he requested the WHO to evaluate the costs and results associated with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 10 (PCV 10) and PCV 13 amid a debate among Department of Health (DOH) officials and medical experts on what vaccine to procure.

A copy of the results of the WHO study on the cost-effectiveness of PCV 10 and its supposedly better-performing counterpart, PCV 13, was received by the DOH on July 17, 2013, six months after he issued the certificate of provisional exemption for PCV 10, Ona said.

The WHO study concluded that “introducing either PCV 10 or PCV 13 as part of a national program would be a cost-effective decision for the Philippines,” noting that the benefits of each vaccine would be different.

It said PCV 13 would prevent more cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) while the other vaccine would prevent more cases of acute otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear).

But the WHO report further stated that “it appears to be cost-effective to purchase a more costly but also more beneficial option (PCV 13) if the number of doses given is the limiting factor, and PCV 10 if the net healthcare budget is the limiting factor.”

‘Best judgment’

“The choice between preventing thousands of potentially fatal IPD episodes compared to millions of milder but far more prevalent otitis media episodes is inherently a subjective value judgment,” the study said.

Ona said that in light of the medical debate on the choice between the two vaccines, he exercised the “best judgment” to issue a certificate of provisional exemption for PCV 10 to allow the government to purchase the cheaper vaccine at $1 per dose “to optimize limited government resources.”

The antipneumonia vaccination initially targeted 700,000 children below a year old and identified in the government’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

It was ultimately decided that a nationwide vaccination program be rolled out for all children in the country, about 1 million.

“This exercise of value judgment is affirmed by the WHO study. The certificate of provisional exemption was issued in accordance with existing rules and regulations on the matter,” Ona said.

He emphasized that his decision allowed the government to realize savings of P231,720,401.

Aquino asked Ona to go on leave in late October to allow him to put together an explanation for his decision to purchase P800 million worth of PCV 10 instead of the supposedly more cost-efficient PCV 13 as allegedly recommended by global health authorities.

The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of the vaccines following a complaint filed directly in the Office of the President by the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management (NCPAM) and the WHO.

But the WHO has denied filing any complaint regarding the controversial purchase of PCV 10, saying that it merely provided assessments based on the DOH request.

In his explanation, Ona said that pending the results of the WHO study, the DOH tapped the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) as an agent to facilitate the procurement of vaccines under the Expanded Immunization Program in 2012.

The Unicef offered a price of $15.40 (P601.95) per dose of PCV 10 and $16.34 (P833.67) per dose of PCV 13, noting that both vaccines were not included in the Philippine National Formulary System (PNFS).

The health secretary explained that since both vaccines were not included in the PNFS, the head of the NCPAM approved the certificate of exemption for PCV 13 on Nov. 6, 2012. He approved the certificate of exemption for PCV 10 for the procurement of 1 million doses two months later.

Complied with law

Ona maintained that his action was in accordance with Administrative Order No. 2012-0023 (Revised Implementing Guidelines for the Philippine National Formulary System), Republic Act No. 6675 (Generics Act of 1988) and Executive Order No. 49, which directs the mandatory use of the PNDF (Philippine National Drug Formulary) Volume 1 as the basis for government procurement of drugs.

“The final approving authority on the inclusion or noninclusion in the PNDF, including the grant of exemption thereof, is expressly granted to the secretary of health,” Ona said.

“The decision of the NCPAM and the Formulary Executive Council is merely recommendatory. As head of the DOH, the secretary of health is not bound by [their] recommendations,” he added.

He assured the President that the issuance of the certificate of provisional exemption for PCV 10 was “solely impelled by my desire to advance the interests of the Filipino people and to ensure that the limited resources of the government are wisely spent.”


FROM ABS-CBN

Times St. clash 'exceeded limits of freedom of expression' - Coloma ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 11/30/2014 1:02 PM | Updated as of 11/30/2014 1:02 PM


COLOMA

MANILA - Malacanang said the government will not allow the incident in Times Street to happen again as it warned militants of exceeding the limits of freedom of expression.

In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the police were only doing their jobs and have, in fact, implemented maximum tolerance.

“What the rallyists did in terms of vandalism and inflicting injuries on members of the PNP (Philippine National Police) clearly exceeded the maximum limits of the freedom of expression. We will not allow this to happen again,” he said.

Activists belonging to the group Manilakbayan converged at the home of President Benigno Aquino III in Times Street, Quezon City on Saturday morning to condemn, among others, the human rights abuses in Mindanao.

The protesters defaced the gate and driveway of Aquino’s home as they called on his ouster.

The militants later clashed with responding policemen. At least 12 members of the PNP were reported hurt, including one who was rushed to the hospital after being hit on the head with a rock.

Citing a report from the Quezon City Police District, Coloma said the responding policemen gave the militants enough time to do their demonstrations.

“But even before they could end their protests, they already started vandalizing the gates and walkways with red paint,” he said, adding that even the gate of the Aquino family’s neighbor was vandalized.

In the end, 12 policemen were injured, he noted.

“It is true that they inflicted injuries on the policemen who were only doing their jobs of ensuring peace and order. This is why we are saying that they exceeded the limits of freedom of expression,” he said.

He said normal security procedures will be enforced in the area, but “we will make sure that the law is implemented.”


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Briones to DBM: Make breakdown of P23-B supplemental budget by Ben Rosario November 29, 2014 Share this:


ABAD

Budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines yesterday decried as “essentially filled with lumps” the proposed P23-billion supplemental budget that the pro-Aquino Congress is expected to fast track as soon as the 2015 proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) is approved.

The Aquino government has sought congressional approval of a P23.34 billion supplemental budget that would reportedly finance the Yolanda reconstruction and preparations for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

But the proposed amounts for these expenditure items have not been detailed in the proposed supplemental budget.

In a press statement, Professor Emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones, SWP lead convenor, challenged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to make public a detailed breakdown of the additional budget that the House of Representatives is set to deliberate on.

“The Senate has just approved the 2015 budget yet, it is interesting to note, it is already near the end of the year and a supplemental budget for 2014 is still being proposed by DBM. Can it use up the supplemental budget in one month?” asked Briones, a former national treasurer.

She described the supplemental budget as “vague, undetailed and therefore vulnerable.”

“There is a need to flesh out the big-ticket items under this new budget. There is P16.4B for “New Urgent Projects/Programs” mostly for Yolanda reconstruction and the APEC summit, P5.08B for projects previously approved but have not been implemented and P1.8B for obligations arising from infrastructure projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways,” Briones detailed.

P5.46-B LUMP SUM?

She noted that the proposed supplemental budget will also allocate funds for the rehabilitation of the LRT lines 1 and 2 and construction of permanent housing for the victims of super-typhoon Yolanda.

“There is also an impression that P14B of the P23.4-billion supplemental budget may refer to Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) projects which were not yet implemented or were partially implemented due to the previous Supreme court decisions, where PDAF and DAP were declared unconstitutional,” she stated.

The rationale for this contention lies with the vague description that allocations were made “for projects previously approved but have not been implemented or have been partially implemented.”

She disclosed that out of the P16.4 billion for “new urgent programs and projects/priority initiatives,” a total P9.5 billion is allotted for Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction while P1.44 billion will be reserved for APEC preparation expenses.

The computation leaves P5.46 billion with “no clear items.”

“These are basically lump sums and there is no clear standard for what is classified and certified as urgent coming from DBM. The government should disclose how urgent these programs and projects are,” said Briones.

Earlier, opposition lawmakers led by Reps. Lito Atienza (Buhay Partylist) and Nery Colmenares (Bayan Muna Partylist) demanded that government must first fully account for the billions of pesos it spent for the implementation of Disbursement Acceleration Program projects that have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

At least P6 billion of the proposed supplemental budget is reportedly set to be allocated for DAP projects that have been discontinued as a result of the SC ruling.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Sereno tells Palace ruling on DAP can’t be a factor By Rey E. Requejo | Nov. 29, 2014 at 12:01am


CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO

MALACAÑANG should not blame the Supreme Court decision declaring the acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional for the economy’s lackluster performance in the third quarter, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said Friday.

She defended the high court ruling on the DAP, which the Executive branch on Thursday claimed resulted in slower government spending that resulted in a lower growth of the gross domestic product.

On Thursday, the Philippine Statistics Authority said economic growth in the third quarter unexpectedly slowed to 5.3 percent compared to 6.4 percent in the previous quarter, the weakest pace since 2011 as government spending fell, diluting the gains from private consumption and industrial production.

The figure was lower than the 7-percent expansion in the same quarter last year and below all the estimates of 24 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad blamed the slowdown on the high court’s ruling against the DAP.

But Sereno rejected the Palace’s insinuation that the slower growth in the third quarter could be partly attributed to the new “spending protocols” arising from the declaration that the DAP is unconstitutional.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed a 2.6-percent decline in public spending from a year earlier.

However, Sereno said the Supreme Court’s decision on DAP had nothing to do with the GDP growth rate.

“I see it as a theory and it will remain as that,” Sereno told reporters during the launching of the Justice Zone Project by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council at the Quezon City Hall.

She was one of the 13 SC magistrates who voted to strike down as unconstitutional salient provisions in the controversial DAP. They ruled that the acts and practices under the DAP violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers as well as the provision prohibiting the inter-branch transfer of appropriations.

The high court specifically declared as illegal the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from implementing agencies and their use as savings before the end of a fiscal year.

The Court also declared as unconstitutional the cross-border transfers of savings of the Executive to augment the funds of agencies outside the department, as well as the funding of projects and programs not covered in the General Appropriations Act.

The tribunal also voided the use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the national treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had earlier said that the high court’s ruling on the DAP may have sent a chilling effect across the bureaucracy’s expenditure practices and thus resulting in cautious government spending.

Public construction in the third quarter contracted from a double-digit growth of 19.1 percent to -6.2 percent due to the lags in the submission of documentary requirements for spending by government agencies. The agriculture sector also held down the economy when farm output dropped by 2.7 percent.

Growth in the third quarter was driven by manufacturing, trade, real estate, renting and business activities and construction.

The slowdown in the sub-sectors such as financial intermediation and contractions in agriculture and public administration “tempered the pace of growth.”

Despite the slower growth, Balicasan said the Philippines was still among the fastest-growing economies in the region. The Philippines aims to increase its GDP by 8.5 percent when President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.


FROM PHILSTAR

Economic slowdown: Palace not blaming SC By Aurea Calica, Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 30, 2014 - 12:00am 3 3 googleplus0 1


VALTE

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is not blaming the Supreme Court (SC) for the growth slowdown in the third quarter even if budget officials see its decision against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as having stymied state spending and ultimately the economy.

“As far as I know the administration is not blaming anyone,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday.

“That particular statement on the effect (of the SC decision) was not intended to apportion blame, but it was also just a statement that was needed. This is what we had to contend with. We had to make sure that we were not in violation of any of the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court,” she said.

And despite the slower than expected growth, Valte said the government is confident that the economy would continue to improve.

“We have set targets for ourselves and that is what we’re pushing... We don’t see any sign really of the slowdown, it’s just the number that was less than expected, but it’s also not bad,” she said. “So we will continue to push the drivers that can make this happen. We will continue to put money in the correct places. We’ve looked at the data. We’ve seen the sectors that need help and we are trying to see how we can back up their efforts,” she added.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno yesterday shrugged off insinuations from Malacañang that the judiciary had contributed to third quarter economic slowdown with its decision to declare some aspects of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

“I see it as a theory and it will remain as such,” Sereno said.

Earlier, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said “new spending” protocols prompted by the SC ruling on DAP may have hampered growth in the third quarter.

Data from the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) showed a 2.6 percent decline in public spending from a year earlier, offsetting gains in private consumption and industrial production.

Sereno was one of the 13 justices who voted against DAP.

“It must be mentioned that uncertainties in the wake of the High Court’s decision on the (DAP) played a crucial role in this development, as the ruling may have sent a chilling effect across the bureaucracy’s expenditure practices,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement after the country’s 5.3 percent gross domestic product in the third quarter was reported on Thursday.

“At the same time, some budget reforms we’ve put in place – exactly those designed to make the budget more transparent, accountable and open – increased the requirements that agencies and departments had to comply with before their funds could be released,” Abad said.

“As it stands, the even and steady pace of our economic expansion already defies some very formidable difficulties, including the devastating effects of (Super Typhoon) Yolanda (last year) and other recent disasters in the country, as well as the continuing instability and volatility in the international market,” Abad said.

“Though we may aim to ‘build back better,’ this may require more technical and managerial capacity than local government units and local communities can provide. We in the DBM wish to reassure the public, however, that this is hardly a grim picture. We must remember that in 2011, government grappled with some very serious spending contractions, including those in public construction, where shortfalls as low as -62.5 percent were recorded,” he said.

In a forum in October, Sereno said it was well within the SC’s constitutional mandate to decide on the legality not only of Malacañang’s controversial discretionary funds, but also of Congress’ Priority Development Assistance Fund.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Admin solon dismissed violating graft, corrupt practices; Ombudsman endorses Cebu congressman’s ouster Ador Vincent S. Mayol and Doris C. Bongcac
@inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 12:20 AM | Friday, November 28th, 2014

Cebu congressman’s schools get scholars, funds from city government


ASIAN College of Technology in Cebu City owned by Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa. JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS

CEBU CITY—An administration congressman has been ordered dismissed from service for conflict of interest after his two schools were found to have collected from the city government at least P51 million for the tuition and other fees of its scholars while he was still a member of the city council.

The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas also found probable cause to file criminal charges against Representative Rodrigo Abellanosa (BOPK, Cebu City south district), who is serving his first term in office, for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. BOPK is a local party allied with the ruling Liberal Party.

In a decision dated May 16 and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the Ombudsman-Visayas found Abellanosa guilty of grave misconduct and ordered his dismissal from the service, the forfeiture of his retirement benefits and his perpetual disqualification from government service.

The order would be endorsed to the House of Representatives or its committee on ethics for appropriate action, the decision said.

Not yet final?

Abellanosa said the Ombudsman’s order was not yet final since he had a pending motion for reconsideration.

Should his motion be denied, Abellanosa said he would explore other avenues.

The order stemmed from the complaint filed by Philip Banguiran in 2012 when Abellanosa was still a city councilor.

In the complaint, Banguiran accused Abellanosa of conflict of interest after his two schools—Asian College of Technology (ACT) and Asian College of Technology International Education Foundation Inc. (Actief)—became accredited to accept scholars of the city government under the Cebu City Government College Scholarship Program.

The program grants a city scholar P10,000 in tuition and other expenses per semester and P1,000 in monthly allowance.

The program, however, requires scholars to enroll only in accredited schools.

Processes


Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa. JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS

Abellanosa’s schools acquired accreditation through separate resolutions by the city council, of which Abellanosa was a member. They allowed the mayor to enter into two memorandums of agreement (MOA) with Abellanosa’s schools, paving the way for their accreditation.

At the time the MOA took effect, Abellanosa was also president-trustee of ACT and Actief aside from being a councilor.

The MOA also gave Abellanosa’s schools tax reprieves.

In his reply to the Ombudsman-Visayas, Abellanosa said he did not take part in deliberations in the city council on the two resolutions that led to his schools’ accreditation.

He said he had no control over the mayor or the council or the operations of his schools.

But Ombudsman-Visayas investigators would not buy Abellanosa’s explanation. “Conflict of interest is obvious,” said Jess Vincent dela Pena, graft investigation and prosecution officer who wrote the decision for the Ombudsman-Visayas.

Dela Pena pointed to records showing that Abellanosa signed the two MOA with the city government on behalf of his schools.

The congressman’s schools have received at least P51 million for the scholarship program and is trying to collect at least P120 million more.

‘Pecuniary interest’

“The respondent indirectly or directly has material or pecuniary interest” in the scholarship program, Dela Pena said in the decision. It said the implementation of the two MOA between Abellanosa’s schools and the city government “benefited the respondent’s schools.”

“Respondent’s exercise of dual positions has created conflict of interest which is prohibited by law,” the decision said. “It is not an isolated incident, nor an error of judgment,” it added.

Abellanosa had invoked the Aguinaldo Doctrine in the administrative complaint but Dela Pena said it would not save the congressman.

Under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, a reelected public official is spared from administrative liability for acts committed prior to his reelection.

Dela Pena’s decision said “invoking the Aguinaldo Doctrine … has no leg to stand on” since Abellanosa had not been reelected as councilor but was elected as congressman.

Abellanosa’s lawyers questioned the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman-Visayas, saying his case should have been investigated by the House.

The congressman said he did not benefit from the scholarship program because his schools were “nonstock and nonprofit.”
 


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