NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

SAVING MARY JANE: AQUINO WRITES PRESIDENT WIDODO; VP BINAY FLIES TO INDONESIA IN BIDS TO SAVE VELOSO


APRIL 25 ---Indonesian prison officials watch Filipina drug convict and death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, clad in traditional Indonesian attire, performing during a program celebrating Kartini Day in honor of Indonesian national hero and women’s rights activist Raden Kartini at Yogyakarta prison on April 21, 2015. Veloso, aged 30 and a mother of two whose appeal had been rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court is expected to be executed soon along with other drug convicts including foreigners from France, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana.
AFP PHOTO/TARKO SUDIARNO
| Wednesday, April  - The government is scrambling to save Mary Jane Veloso from execution by firing squad in Indonesia, with President Aquino writing Indonesian President Joko Widodo last week to ask for clemency for the Filipino woman facing death for drug trafficking. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also helping to make it possible for Vice President Jejomar Binay to meet with Widodo for a last-minute plea for mercy for Veloso and to be allowed visit her in prison. Binay leaves for Bandung, Indonesia, Wednesday to attend the Asian-Africa summit. Indonesia has scheduled the executions of Veloso and other death row convicts after the summit. Veloso, a 30-year-old mother of two, faces execution after she was caught in 2010 carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin worth $500,000 in her baggage on her arrival at the Yogyakarta airport. She was convicted by the court and was sentenced to die by firing squad. READ MORE...

ALSO: As Veloso’s fate hangs, pressure shifts to Aquino


MARY JANE 
As the clock ticks to the scheduled execution tomorrow of Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, the pressure had shifted to President Aquino to step up pressure on Indonesia similar to French President Francois Hollande’s move that led to the suspension of Frenchman Serge Atlaoui’s execution. “If the French President can do it, why can’t Aquino? All the officials have made a verbal appeal but not him. We demand that he declare publicly what he plans to do. His plan to talk with the Indonesian leaders on the sideline of the Asean meeting won’t work,” overseas Filipino workers (OFW) advocate Migrante International chairman Gary Martinez said. Aquino said he would appeal for mercy for Veloso while in Malaysia for a regional summit Monday. “Once I am there, I will try to speak to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal once more for her case,” Aquino said. Veloso, 30, a single mother of two young boys, is among eight foreigners who are due to face the firing squad in the high-security Indonesian prison island of Nusakambangan. She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms of heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase but insists she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate. Vice President Jejomar Binay made an appeal for Veloso during a visit to Indonesia last week. The Philippines has sought to have a second judicial review of her case, citing evidence that she was a human trafficking victim, not a drug smuggler.READ MORE...

ALSO Lina: BOC Reforms to continue


SIGH OF RELIEF A jubilant John Phillip ‘Sunny’ Sevilla applauds with gusto as his successor, newly-minted Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, holds aloft the agency’s colors during Friday’s turnover ceremony. Also in photo is Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Photo by Rene Dilan
Businessman Alberto David Lina on Friday vowed to continue reforming the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as he was once again sworn in as the agency’s commissioner, replacing John Phillip “Sunny” Sevilla, who resigned the previous day. Lina, who was Customs commissioner from February to July 2005, found himself back in his old seat after Malacañang accepted Sevilla’s resignation on Thursday. The elder brother of former senator Joey Lina was among the senior government officials who bolted the Arroyo administration amid a vote-rigging controversy in 2014, which was better known as the “Hello Garci” scandal. Lina founded and headed 19 companies under the Lina Group of Companies, including Airfreight 2100 Inc., U-Freight Inc. and U-Ocean Inc. He was long-time waterfront industry stalwart as long-time president of Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines Inc. from the late 1980s to the 1990s. He was also into sports, having been chairman of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, and owning a professional basketball team in the PBA. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima administered the oath of office to Lina before handing over the agency’s colors surrendered by Sevilla. In his farewell speech, Sevilla said he is confident that the reforms he started at the BOC will continue under Lina’s leadership. READ MORE...

ALSO UNA: Sevilla resignation mocks ‘daang matuwid’


APRIL 25 --New Customs chief. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, left, administers the oath of office to new Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina as resigned BoC head John Philip Sevilla looks on at the Customs building in Port Area, Manila.
DANNY PATA
THE opposition said Friday the resignation of Customs chief John Sevilla demolished the myth of the Aquino administration’s much ballyhooed “Daang Matuwid” or straight path policy. Sevilla, who blamed political pressures for his decision to quit, was proof of the corrupting influence of key officials in the ruling Liberal Party, said the interim president of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco.“This is not straight path. Instead there are signs that Sevilla could not stomach the twisted path of the administration,” Tiangco said in a statement. He described the LP as “a corruption machine working in the background and putting pressure on government appointees in sensitive positions, to milk the government coffers in the last two minutes of the Aquino administration and to contribute to its fundraising campaign.” Tiangco said Sevilla is known to be an anti-corruption advocate and would rather resign than be tainted by impropriety. He said true anti-corruption advocates could not last long in the Aquino administration, which only pretends to be against graft. READ MORE...

ALSO: President’s top legal counsel quits job


APRIL 25 --Caguioa
CHIEF presidential legal counsel Benjamin Caguioa resigned last week, a well-placed source told The Standard Friday. Caguioa reportedly informed President Benigno Aquino III of his decision. “He talked to the President last Thursday, explaining his decision to resign. He said he wants to focus on his private law firm,” the source said in a phone interview. Caguioa’s resignation comes on the heels of the appointment of former deputy executive secretary for legal affairs Michael Aguinaldo as chairman of the Commission on Audit. Both Caguioa and Aguinaldo are key members of Aquino’s legal team in the Palace. Caguioa, who replaced Eduardo de Mesa in January 2013, was a classmate of the President at the Ateneo de Manila University. READ MORE...

ALSO: Sevilla fired for refusing to raise P3 B for LP campaign kitty


APIL 25 --Bureau of Customs Commissioner John Sevilla filed his resignation to President Benigno Aquino III last Wednesday.
For refusing to raise P3 billion for the campaign kitty of the Liberal Party (LP), John Sevilla was pressured to resign as Bureau of Customs chief by the ruling party, the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said yesterday. UNA interim president and Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the LP pressured Sevilla to resign after the latter refused to make the BOC a milking cow of the ruling party. “The pressure for the LP on Sevilla to contribute P3 billion was too much to bear. He and others have felt the political atmosphere in the bureau. It appears that commissioner Sevilla could not stomach what these pressure groups want him to do with the agency so he resigned,” Tiangco said. He did not name those who had allegedly forced Sevilla to resign. The UNA official said Sevilla was not able to stand the “sanctimonious and hypocritical MAD group in the LP,” referring to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Senate President Franklin Drilon. He said the same group invented the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program. He said Sevilla is a known anti-corruption advocate and would rather resign than be tainted by impropriety while in government. READ MORE...

ALSO: John Sevilla ready to face Senate


APRIL 25 --Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner John Philip Sevilla.
File photo/EDD GUMBAN 
Resigned Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner John Sevilla is willing to face a congressional investigation into his allegations of corruption and influence peddling in the bureau. But challenged by senators to name names, Sevilla said, “I will pray over it.”  Even in an executive session at the Senate or the House of Representatives, Sevilla indicated he might not be ready to divulge any names. “I have not thought about it. I have already disclosed a lot yesterday. I think I was very open,” he said. An investigation is on the horizon – at least in the upper chamber – as Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III announced he would file a resolution asking his colleagues to conduct an inquiry into Sevilla’s claim that the agency was being used by some groups to accumulate campaign funds for the 2016 elections. Several lawmakers including Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had dared Sevilla to name politicians or other individuals who had sought favors from the BOC. In announcing his resignation last Thursday, Sevilla said he quit because it had become “harder” in the past months to resist political influence peddling in the BOC, and it would be “impossible” in the coming months. READ MORE...and About John Sevilla...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Aquino writes Widodo, Binay flies to Indonesia in bids to save Veloso


Indonesian prison officials watch Filipina drug convict and death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, clad in traditional Indonesian attire, performing during a program celebrating Kartini Day in honor of Indonesian national hero and women’s rights activist Raden Kartini at Yogyakarta prison on April 21, 2015. Veloso, aged 30 and a mother of two whose appeal had been rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court is expected to be executed soon along with other drug convicts including foreigners from France, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana. AFP PHOTO/TARKO SUDIARNO

MANILA, APRIL 27, 2015 (INQUIRER)  Christine O. Avendaño, Erika Sauler | Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:55 AM | Wednesday, April 25  - The government is scrambling to save Mary Jane Veloso from execution by firing squad in Indonesia, with President Aquino writing Indonesian President Joko Widodo last week to ask for clemency for the Filipino woman facing death for drug trafficking.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also helping to make it possible for Vice President Jejomar Binay to meet with Widodo for a last-minute plea for mercy for Veloso and to be allowed visit her in prison.

Binay leaves for Bandung, Indonesia, Wednesday to attend the Asian-Africa summit. Indonesia has scheduled the executions of Veloso and other death row convicts after the summit.

Veloso, a 30-year-old mother of two, faces execution after she was caught in 2010 carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin worth $500,000 in her baggage on her arrival at the Yogyakarta airport. She was convicted by the court and was sentenced to die by firing squad.

READ MORE...
At a news briefing, DFA spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said President Aquino’s letter to Widodo late last week was his third letter on Veloso’s case.

‘We can always try’

The President had first written a letter seeking clemency for Veloso to then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and then another letter to Widodo this time on the judicial review of her case, according to Jose.

“The President has written a third time asking for clemency,” he told reporters.

Asked whether Binay’s possible meeting with Widodo would help Veloso’s case, Jose said: “We can always try.”

As the date of her execution nears, Veloso has made known her last two wishes: To see her family before she’s executed and to have her body sent back to the Philippines.

While Veloso has seemingly accepted her fate, her mother Celia on Tuesday said they were still hoping that her life would be spared.

“When I was talking to her yesterday (Monday), I cried. She said, ‘Maybe the Lord wants me to be with Him now,’” Celia quoted Mary Jane saying.

Mary Jane may be keeping a brave front to help them accept the situation, Celia said. “Because one of her lawyers said she cried and appealed for help.”

Mary Jane has maintained that she was duped by her recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio into carrying the suitcase containing the heroin.


TRIBUNE

As Veloso’s fate hangs, pressure shifts to Aquino Written by Joshua L. Labonera Monday, 27 April 2015 00:00


MARY JANE

As the clock ticks to the scheduled execution tomorrow of Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, the pressure had shifted to President Aquino to step up pressure on Indonesia similar to French President Francois Hollande’s move that led to the suspension of Frenchman Serge Atlaoui’s execution. “If the French President can do it, why can’t Aquino? All the officials have made a verbal appeal but not him. We demand that he declare publicly what he plans to do. His plan to talk with the Indonesian leaders on the sideline of the Asean meeting won’t work,”   overseas Filipino workers (OFW) advocate Migrante International chairman Gary Martinez said.

Aquino said he would appeal for mercy for Veloso while in Malaysia for a regional summit Monday. “Once I am there, I will try to speak to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal once more for her case,” Aquino said. Veloso, 30, a single mother of two young boys, is among eight foreigners who are due to face the firing squad in the high-security Indonesian prison island of Nusakambangan.

She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms of heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase but insists she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate. Vice President Jejomar Binay made an appeal for Veloso during a visit to Indonesia last week. The Philippines has sought to have a second judicial review of her case, citing evidence that she was a human trafficking victim, not a drug smuggler.

READ MORE...
But this weekend, Veloso’s lawyer said she had been informed that she would be put to death on April 28.

The government has said it is not losing hope and activist groups intend to stage protests for her. Indonesia has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world. In January, Jakarta executed six drug convicts, including five foreigners, sparking international outrage. “It can be done and we expect no less from President Aquino,”

Martinez said as news broke that Atlaoui, one of Veloso’s fellow convicts on death row, got a reprieve from Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo after France “stepped up the pressure”.

Yesterday, Indonesia finished notifying every convict intended for the implementation of the death sentence, including Mary Jane, except for Atlaoui. Hollande reportedly told Widodo that should the French national’s execution push through, there would be “consequences” of diplomatic nature not only with France but with Europe.

He also said that “(a)t the very least, they will recall their ambassador”, “he will not visit Indonesia for some time”, and “discussions over possible cooperation” between France and Indonesia could be suspended. In his speech before flying to Malaysia for the Association of South East Asian Nations’ (Asean) 26th Summit,

Aquino said he will seek help for Veloso. “There, we will work hard to talk to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal her case,”

Aquino said. Veloso was earlier reported to have called on Aquino and Binay through a letter she wrote as the date of her execution nears. The embattled OFW is facing the death penalty in Indonesia for smuggling illegal drugs, where she claims that she was only tricked into committing the crime.


Indonesian President Joko Widodo

In her letter addressed to Binay, she reiterated her innocence, saying that she is not a criminal, but a victim of human trafficking. She added that only Aquino and Binay can help her.

UN joins appeals Indonesia signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon.

Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight — from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines — that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner.

However, Frenchman Atlaoui also on death row for drug-related crimes was granted a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure on Jakarta. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where Indonesia puts condemned prisoners to death, and Jakarta says the executions could be as early as Tuesday, although no official date has been set.

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo told Indonesian news channel MetroTV that preparations for the executions were “100 percent” complete. The convicts recently lost appeals for mercy to Widodo, who has taken a hard line against drug traffickers and refused to back down on the executions despite mounting international criticism. UN chief Ban added his voice to appeals for the convicts to be spared.

“The secretary general urges President Joko Widodo to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition,” a spokesman for Ban said.

Australia, which has mounted a sustained diplomatic campaign to save its two citizens in the group, also renewed appeals following Saturday’s news. “Nothing can be gained and much will be lost if these two young Australians are executed,” said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. “I again respectfully call on the president of Indonesia to reconsider his refusal to grant clemency. It is not too late for a change of heart.”

Widodo, however, refused to comment on Sunday. France has stepped up pressure on Jakarta in recent days, with President Hollande warning of “consequences” if its citizen, Atlaoui, is put to death.

The warning came shortly before it was announced that Atlaoui had won a temporary reprieve to allow him to pursue a further legal appeal. Brazil vowed to press Indonesia not to execute the Brazilian man among the group, Rodrigo Gularte, for humanitarian reasons, saying that he suffers from schizophrenia.

Despite the appeals, Indonesia has shown little sign that it is willing to back down and the foreign ministry indicated Sunday that Ban’s statement would not change their plans. “We note the statement by the UN but we also note that there was no similar statement made when recently two Indonesians were executed,” ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told AFP, referring to executions this month of Indonesian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. Executions were carried out recently “by other countries and we did not see any statement made by the UN,” he said.

He added that it was “not the intention of Indonesia” to damage ties with other countries. The executions have been delayed for weeks, with Indonesia coming close to carrying them out in February, but then agreeing to let final legal appeals be resolved following an international outcry. However Saturday’s announcement signals they are finally going ahead.

While Jakarta has not officially announced a date, lawyers for two of the convicts — the Filipina and one of the Nigerians — said they had been informed it would be on Tuesday. Authorities have said that they are waiting on the outcome of the appeal by the sole Indonesian in the group, which could come as early as Monday. AFP


MANILA TIMES

Lina: Reforms to continue April 25, 2015 1:24 am by WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL REPORTER GILBERT P. FELONGCO CORRESPONDENT


SIGH OF RELIEF A jubilant John Phillip ‘Sunny’ Sevilla applauds with gusto as his successor, newly-minted Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, holds aloft the agency’s colors during Friday’s turnover ceremony. Also in photo is Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Photo by Rene Dilan

Businessman Alberto David Lina on Friday vowed to continue reforming the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as he was once again sworn in as the agency’s commissioner, replacing John Phillip “Sunny” Sevilla, who resigned the previous day.

Lina, who was Customs commissioner from February to July 2005, found himself back in his old seat after Malacañang accepted Sevilla’s resignation on Thursday. The elder brother of former senator Joey Lina was among the senior government officials who bolted the Arroyo administration amid a vote-rigging controversy in 2014, which was better known as the “Hello Garci” scandal.

Lina founded and headed 19 companies under the Lina Group of Companies, including Airfreight 2100 Inc., U-Freight Inc. and U-Ocean Inc. He was long-time waterfront industry stalwart as long-time president of Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines Inc. from the late 1980s to the 1990s. He was also into sports, having been chairman of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, and owning a professional basketball team in the PBA.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima administered the oath of office to Lina before handing over the agency’s colors surrendered by Sevilla.

In his farewell speech, Sevilla said he is confident that the reforms he started at the BOC will continue under Lina’s leadership.

READ MORE...
He pointed out that the bureau is losing only one “Customs reformer” with his resignation.

“If there are a thousand people pushing for reforms here at Customs, you only lost one. But you gained another reformer in incoming Commissioner Bert Lina,” he said in Filipino.

“I’m very confident that you will all continue what we started.”

Sevilla on Thursday told reporters he was leaving the waterfront agency as he could not longer stand the political pressure and widespread corruption hounding the BOC.

He cited efforts by certain people allegedly dropping the name of the influential Iglesia ni Kristo (INC or Church of Christ) to push for the appointment of Customs official Teddy Raval to the sensitive Enforcement and Security Services post.

Lina promised Sevilla in his acceptance speech that he will continue the reforms the latter implemented during his stint in office.

“Truly, as Secretary Cesar [Purisima] says, I have big shoes to fill and I intend to carry on the good governance and reforms he has started,” he said.

Turning to Sevilla, Lina added, “Commissioner Sunny, don’t you worry. I will continue what you’ve started.”

He laid out a five-point program to prepare the BOC for a much bigger challenge.

“As a keen observer of Customs, from the outside looking in, I have many ideas I think will make our processes more efficient and systematic.

“Now that I am here, I believe my extensive experience in the private sector will be tested. The primary task assigned to us is not easy, with the end in view of increasing efficiency and improved revenue generation,” Lina said.

According to Lina, the bigger challenge ahead is preparing for the “Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration,” which is expected to increase trade and economic activity among Asean-member countries.

He pointed out that the initiative is no longer just a concept but already a reality and thus, it is imperative that the Philippines should be prepared for the impending expansion.

“We have no other recourse. We must be ready. It is time to engage our ‘bosses’ in an environment revitalized with the spirit of true and efficient service,” Lina said.

He admitted that corruption remains as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to economic growth and prosperity, but it can be defeated with a combination of factors, including increased awareness, appropriate technology and resolute action against violators.

“We will continue to be as transparent with our data. We will light up the darkest corners where this malady lingers. We will not abandon the campaign to eliminate it. In fact, we will expand it and pursue the campaign with more determination,” he stressed. “…it will continue to be a centrepiece of our work philosophy here in the Bureau of Customs.


CDO Rice Traders Charged Again For Smuggling Posted 25 March 2015 BOC FILE PHOTO

“We must transform the bureau into a proactive organization. It should anticipate local and global changes and always be ready to confront the challenges that come with it. We must be consistent and reliable partner of industry,” Lina said.

A lawmaker has asked the new leadership of the Bureau of Customs to look into the reported technical smuggling happening at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as other ports.

The racket reportedly robs the government of billions of pesos in revenues.

At the House of Representatives, lawmakers are not warm to Lina’s appointment, with one of them saying Sevilla should have stayed in his post.

Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list noted that if Sevilla really wanted to rid Customs of corruption, he should not have given up that easily.

Marikina City (Metro Manila) Rep. Romero Quimbo, chairman of the House ways and means panel that seeks to pass measures to raise the government’s tax collection and generate state revenues, was also skeptical of Lina’s appointment.

“I think that the issue of staying or not is a personal decision. It’s difficult to say whether that’s a good decision or not. But the more appropriate question now is whether bringing back a former commissioner of Customs is a wise decision,” Quimbo said.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) sees Lina’s appointment as a way to raise funds for the ruling Liberal Party (LP).

UNA interim president and Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco said Lina’s background as one of the campaign contributors of LP back in the 2010 elections is already suspect.

“The administration is circling the wagons by appointing people in key government agencies that can contribute to LP’s campaign kitty. Bert Lina is known as a close associate of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and both are members of the Hyatt 10. And the Hyatt 10 are known to be allied with the Senate President, who is also the vice chairman of the Liberal Party,” Tiangco added. “It shows that the Palace protects its interests.”

3 Responses to Lina: Reforms to continue

Ed Noles says:

April 25, 2015 at 9:39 am

reforms? what reforms? a good chief replaced by a bad businessman of ‘Hayup 10’? to raise fund for election of Abnoy’s choice?

do you still have a government? or true syndicate?

GISING BAYAN!

Reply

Nerissa says:

April 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

Dahil sa mga nagyayari ngayon sa buong mundo, hindi magtatagal ay malalaman ng lahat -Pilipinas at ng buong mundo ang mga tiwaling kalakaran sa ating bansa sa halos lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno at ang mga unfair trade practices ng mga businessmen. Panahon na ng pagbabago.

Reply

muriel magtanggol says:

April 25, 2015 at 4:10 am

Reformahin mo muna yung presidente at mga bata niya!

Reply


MANILA STANDARD

UNA: Sevilla resignation mocks ‘daang matuwid’ By Maricel Cruz, Vito Barcelo and Sandy Araneta | Apr. 25, 2015 at 12:01am


New Customs chief. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, left, administers the oath of office to new Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina as resigned BoC head John Philip Sevilla looks on at the Customs building in Port Area, Manila. DANNY PATA

THE opposition said Friday the resignation of Customs chief John Sevilla demolished the myth of the Aquino administration’s much ballyhooed “Daang Matuwid” or straight path policy.

Sevilla, who blamed political pressures for his decision to quit, was proof of the corrupting influence of key officials in the ruling Liberal Party, said the interim president of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco.

“This is not straight path. Instead there are signs that Sevilla could not stomach the twisted path of the administration,” Tiangco said in a statement.

He described the LP as “a corruption machine working in the background and putting pressure on government appointees in sensitive positions, to milk the government coffers in the last two minutes of the Aquino administration and to contribute to its fundraising campaign.”

Tiangco said Sevilla is known to be an anti-corruption advocate and would rather resign than be tainted by impropriety.

He said true anti-corruption advocates could not last long in the Aquino administration, which only pretends to be against graft.

READ MORE...
In resigning, Sevilla cited his helplessness against influence peddlers and admitted there were political pressures at work.

Sevilla did not say who was pressuring him, but said he would not let his agency be a milking cow for the 2016 elections.

“The pressure from the LP for Sevilla to contribute [to the party’s election kitty] was too much for Commissioner Sevilla to stomach so he resigned,” Tiangco said.

“He did not want to be used for politics and he did not want his name sullied.”

Sevilla replaced former congressman Ruffy Biazon as Customs chief in December 2013, after Biazon was implicated in the pork barrel scandal.

Alberto Lina, who was Customs chief under the previous administration, has been appointed to replace Sevilla.

With the 2016 national campaign just a few months away, Tiangco noted that the Aquino administration is circling the wagons by appointing people in key government positions like Lina to government agencies that can contribute to the LP’s campaign kitty.

“Bert Lina is known as a close associate of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and both are members of the Hyatt 10. And the Hyatt 10 are known to be allied with the Senate President, who is also the vice chairman of the Liberal Party,” Tiangco said.

The Hyatt 10 is a group of government officials who resigned in 2005 during the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal that plagued the Arroyo administration.

Lina is known to have contributed a large amount of money to the campaign kitty of then senator and presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III and his defeated running-mate, Roxas.

Lina is the chairman of the Lina Group of Companies, which includes Air21, a logistics firm.

The Palace said Friday Lina will divest himself of his interest in the companies he owns and also denied the opposition accusation that Sevilla’s resignation was related to LP fundraising for the 2016 elections.

“The persistent question I have been getting is the apparent conflict of interest of the new BOC commissioner.... Commissioner Lina is in the process of divesting his interest in his brokerage company to erase any kind of conflict of interest by virtue of his appointment as commissioner of the BOC,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

She did not mention Lina’s other companies: Shopinas.com, Integrated Waste Management Inc., Cargohaus Inc., DOS 1, Warm (Waste and Resource Management), U-Freight Philippines,

Linaheim Properties, Solarlina, LGC Logistics, Credit Solutions & Business Alliances Inc., Lina Farms, GO 21, E-Konek, Ube Media, 2100 Customs Brokers Inc, U-Ocen Inc, and Linaheim Corporate Travel and Tours.

During the 1990s, Lina owned only about 10 of these companies, before expanding his business.

Most of the companies are in logistics or freight forwarding, warehousing, customs brokerage, and similar businesses.

Lina on Friday vowed to continue the reforms and programs initiated by Sevilla, adding that it will be a gargantuan task to clean up the graft-ridden bureau.

Lina also said he will divest himself of his interest in his brokerage company to erase doubts of any conflict of interest.

During the turnover ceremony held at the BOC, Lina also vowed to improve revenue collections of the agency.

“I would like to focus on an even bigger challenge--Asean integration. This is no longer just a concept, it is already a reality. This initiative is expected to increase trade and economic activity with our ASEAN neighbors. It is imperative that we ask ourselves if we are prepared for this impending expansion. We have no other recourse. We must be ready. It is time to engage our ‘“bosses’ in an environment revitalized with the spirit of true and efficient service,” he said.

He said he would make fighting corruption, one of the biggest impediments to economic growth, a priority.

“We must battle this with a combination of factors – increased awareness, appropriate technology, and resolute action on violators. We will continue to be as transparent with our data. We will light up the darkest corners where this malady lingers. We will not abandon the campaign to eliminate it. In fact, we will expand it and pursue the campaign with more determination,” he said.

He also said he will continue to decongest the ports.

Also on Friday, former senator Panfilo Lacson said corruption at the bureau will remain as long as there is a “Friday 3 o’clock habit,” a weekly meeting among Customs employees and importers, where multi-million-peso bribes are given and divided.

Lacson said Lina was the right choice to replace Sevilla due to his integrity and knowledge of the job. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta


MANILA STANDARD

President’s top legal aide also quits job By Joyce Pangco Panares | Apr. 25, 2015 at 12:01am


Caguioa

CHIEF presidential legal counsel Benjamin Caguioa resigned last week, a well-placed source told The Standard Friday.

Caguioa reportedly informed President Benigno Aquino III of his decision.

“He talked to the President last Thursday, explaining his decision to resign. He said he wants to focus on his private law firm,” the source said in a phone interview.

Caguioa’s resignation comes on the heels of the appointment of former deputy executive secretary for legal affairs Michael Aguinaldo as chairman of the Commission on Audit.

Both Caguioa and Aguinaldo are key members of Aquino’s legal team in the Palace.

Caguioa, who replaced Eduardo de Mesa in January 2013, was a classmate of the President at the Ateneo de Manila University.

READ MORE...
Caguioa took up economics at the Ateneo de Manila University as his pre-law.

He was a senior partner of the Caguioa and Gatmaytan law office and taught law at the Ateneo and San Sebastian College, specializing in litigation and arbitration.

On Friday, the Palace also announced the appointment of Fluellen Ortigas, a former aide of his the President’s late father, Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., as board member of the Martial Law Historical Advisory Committee.

Ortigas’ appointment was contained in a letter dated April 16 and addressed to National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Maria Serena Diokno.

Also appointed by the President was Felix Perry Villananueva and Reynaldo Bicol Jr.

Villanueva was named undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.

Bicol was assigned to the Inter-agency Council Against Child Pornography, of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for a term of three years. – With Sandy Araneta


PHILSTAR

‘Sevilla fired for refusing to raise P3 B for LP’
By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2015 - 12:00am


Bureau of Customs Commissioner John Sevilla filed his resignation to President Benigno Aquino III last Wednesday.

MANILA, Philippines - For refusing to raise P3 billion for the campaign kitty of the Liberal Party (LP), John Sevilla was pressured to resign as Bureau of Customs chief by the ruling party, the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said yesterday.

UNA interim president and Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the LP pressured Sevilla to resign after the latter refused to make the BOC a milking cow of the ruling party.

“The pressure for the LP on Sevilla to contribute P3 billion was too much to bear. He and others have felt the political atmosphere in the bureau. It appears that commissioner Sevilla could not stomach what these pressure groups want him to do with the agency so he resigned,” Tiangco said.

He did not name those who had allegedly forced Sevilla to resign. The UNA official said Sevilla was not able to stand the “sanctimonious and hypocritical MAD group in the LP,” referring to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

He said the same group invented the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program.

He said Sevilla is a known anti-corruption advocate and would rather resign than be tainted by impropriety while in government.

READ MORE...
Tiangco said with the elections drawing near, the administration has been appointing officials in key government posts who can help contribute to the LP’s campaign kitty.

With the campaign season just a few months away, Tiangco noted that the administration is proverbially circling the wagons by appointing people to key government agencies that can contribute to LP’s campaign kitty.

Reforms steady

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima assured the public that President Aquino remains committed to reforming the BOC. Purisima was reacting to Sevilla’s pronouncement shortly after his resignation that corruption and influence peddling were rampant at the BOC.

In yesterday afternoon’s turnover ceremony at the BOC, Purisima told Customs employees that it was precisely in pursuit of reforms that made Aquino appoint Albert Lina to replace Sevilla.

This was the second time Lina was named BOC chief. He served for five months during the Arroyo administration in 2005.

“Without his (Aquino’s) support we would not have accomplished what Commissioner Sevilla accomplished, what we have accomplished the past 4 1/2 years,” said Purisima.

“His ‘tuwid na daan’ (straight path) agenda is unwavering, we talk it, we walk it, we dream about where it can bring us. In 2014 we have proven under the leadership of Commissioner Sevilla that BOC can actually be reformed,” Purisima said.

“The best evidence is the fact that collections grew by 21 percent, the numerous operational reforms that were underway is another evidence and the renewed confidence that people have in the organization,” he added.

He also said that “in a democracy politics is a reality of life,” apparently referring to insinuations that pressure groups may have had a hand in Sevilla’s decision to quit.

“I believe that the two go hand-in-hand but we can have institutions that preserve our expectations under this setting. There will be challenges along the way, but I think we should persevere,” he said.

He also pointed out that those in government do not stay in government forever and “our challenge is to make sure we do the best we can during our short time we are in the government.”

Making a difference

With the elections fast approaching, Purisima implied Lina’s stint at the BOC would not be very long. “I hope you can make a big difference,” he told Lina.

Lina, in his acceptance speech, promised to carry on the reforms initiated by his predecessor.

He expressed belief that his background in business, particularly logistics, would be an asset. “Further, as a keen observer of Customs, from the outside looking in, I have many ideas I think will make our processes more efficient and systematic. I agree when Commissioner Sevilla says, ‘Reform is not glamorous. Reform is in the little every day improvements that we can give the public.’”

He sees increasing the efficiency and improving the revenue collection as his two main tasks as the new commissioner.

One of the challenges that the BOC would be facing is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration, he said. This initiative is expected to increase trade and economic activity with the country’s ASEAN neighbors.

“It is imperative that we ask ourselves if we are prepared for this impending expansion. We have no other recourse. We must be ready. It is time to engage our ‘bosses’ in an environment revitalized with the spirit of true and efficient service,” he added.

Lina mentioned that battling corruption is one of the five essential principles that the BOC must adhere to for the ASEAN integration.

“Corruption is one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and prosperity in the country. We must battle this with a combination of factors – increased awareness, appropriate technology, and resolute action on violators,” Lina said. – With Evelyn Macairan


PHILSTAR

Resigned BOC chief Sevilla ready to face Senate By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2015 - 12:00am


Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner John Philip Sevilla. File photo/EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines - Resigned Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner John Sevilla is willing to face a congressional investigation into his allegations of corruption and influence peddling in the bureau.

But challenged by senators to name names, Sevilla said, “I will pray over it.”

Even in an executive session at the Senate or the House of Representatives, Sevilla indicated he might not be ready to divulge any names.

“I have not thought about it. I have already disclosed a lot yesterday. I think I was very open,” he said.

An investigation is on the horizon – at least in the upper chamber – as Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III announced he would file a resolution asking his colleagues to conduct an inquiry into Sevilla’s claim that the agency was being used by some groups to accumulate campaign funds for the 2016 elections.

Several lawmakers including Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had dared Sevilla to name politicians or other individuals who had sought favors from the BOC.

In announcing his resignation last Thursday, Sevilla said he quit because it had become “harder” in the past months to resist political influence peddling in the BOC, and it would be “impossible” in the coming months.

READ MORE...
He lamented that he failed to bring accountability to the bureau.

Malacañang accepted his resignation on the same day and announced its appointment of former commissioner Alberto Lina, founder and owner of several businesses including logistics firm Air21.

Pimentel said he would not mind if a probe on Sevilla’s allegations would be in parallel with the one on “justice for sale” in which two Court of Appeals magistrates were alleged to have received P25 million each from the camp of Makati City Mayor Erwin Jejomar Binay Jr. for their ruling against the suspension of the mayor.

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson welcomed the appointment of Lina as Sevilla’s replacement, saying the businessman has a reputation for integrity and efficiency. He said the bureau needs someone who has the integrity and courage to crack the whip and stamp out corruption once and for all.

“Based on reports I’ve been receiving from knowledegable persons, the corruption continues at the bureau,” said Lacson, who earlier exposed what he called “3 o’clock habit” of some officials and personnel who meet and divide their “loot” every Friday.

In a text message, Lacson noted that no less than Sevilla had talked about the pervasive corruption at the bureau.

“In fact even Sevilla admitted having no illusion about removing corruption at Customs. Eliminating corruption at the bureau should not only be an illusion but a target,” he said.

Sevilla was officially named BOC chief in December 2013 after serving as officer-in-charge following the resignation of commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon, who likewise had to grapple with issues on corruption and political interference.

In his press briefing last Thursday, Sevilla revealed he had to deal early on with alleged interference by the Iglesia ni Cristo in BOC affairs. He made clear, however, that he has had no direct information linking the group to power play at the BOC.

Sevilla emphasized last Thursday that while political interference was nothing new at the BOC, he had never caved in to pressure.

“This is one of the problems of BOC now, it is the fact that over the years there are many people who are interfering with BOC,” he said. “We should be consistent – it is either we allow it and say goodbye to reforms or do not grant any” requests.

He said he had been asked by some groups to stay on and do some “damage control.” To them, he said he is only human and can only do so much.

“Why should the BOC employees and reformers accept the consequences of political compromises? Our job is already difficult, why should that be included in the list of what we have to do?”

He said he may have failed to erase the bureau’s negative reputation, but he stressed he was at least able to improve its reputation a little.

“Because the corruption at the BOC is great, there should be no compromise. There is no room at the BOC for influence-peddlers,” he said.

He said his only regret was his not being able to finish the projects that he has started, such as reducing the process of import entry to four hours, speeding up the resolution on alerted shipments and improving the accountability of Customs employees. With Christina Mendez, Eva Visperas


GMA NEWS ONLINE --FLASHBACK DECEMBER 2013

PNoy formally appoints Finance Usec Sevilla as Customs chief By KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMA News December 12, 2013 12:37pm

(Updated 1:23 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III has formally appointed Customs officer-in-charge John "Sunny" Sevilla" as the new commissioner of the bureau, the Palace announced Thursday.

"We are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. John Philip Sevilla as Customs Commissioner. This is a formal appointment," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing.

The appointment, he said, was made last December 9.

Sevilla will be replacing Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, who stepped down after having been named by the Department of Justice as respondent together with 33 others to a malversation case over the pork barrel scam.

Sevilla was earlier appointed OIC of the Bureau of Customs, an appointment which Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said they are "in full support" of.

"Leadership of the Bureau of Customs requires someone who is results-oriented and an expert on economics, international relations, and project implementation. These traits describe Sunny Sevilla perfectly," he said.

Previous posts

Sevilla had served as Finance Undersecretary for the Corporate Affairs Group and Privatization since 2010, according to the Department of Finance.

He also served as Undersecretary for Privatization from 2006 to 2007.

Before his stint at the Finance Department, Sevilla was an executive director at investment bank Goldman Sachs, and an associate director and sovereign rater for credit rating agency Standard and Poor's.

He was also a chief operating officer of Synergeia Foundation, a non-profit organization which seeks to improve the quality of public education in the Philippines.

He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Economics and Government, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University.

Aside from Sevilla, also appointed by Aquino was Sherielysse Bonifacio as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications.— RSJ/KG, GMA News

-------------------------------------

Palace defends Customs chief, no word on resignation rumors By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated January 7, 2015 - 3:37pm

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Wednesday backed Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner John Philip Sevilla amid rumors that he is on his way out.

In a televised press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda expressed satisfaction over Sevilla's institutional reforms in the BOC such as the replacement of some commissioners and the removal of some customs collectors.

"Nag-improve ang collections sa Customs. Wala kaming nakikitang katwiran kung bakit nagkaroon ng ganitong balitang magbibitiw si Commissioner Sunny Sevilla," Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the Palace has neither received any official word nor heard any information on Sevilla's planned resignation.

The STAR reported on Wednesday that Sevilla dismissed rumors that he had resigned or would quit his post.

According to the report, BOC spokesperson Charo Lagamon also denied that Sevilla was forced to quit by some people whose illegal dealings and businesses were affected by the strict policies by the agency.

The report cited Malacañang sources who revealed that there have been meetings with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima regarding Sevilla's resignation.

Sevilla was appointed BOC chief in December 2013 after Ruffy Biazon quit the post following the filing of graft and malversation charges against him in connection with the pork barrel scam.

It was the same year when President Aquino berated the BOC in his State of the Nation Address for the continuing corruption and inefficiency plaguing the agency

---------------------------------

PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT WBSITE

JOHN PHILIP SEVILLA RESUME

Work Experience
Undersecretary, Department of Finance, Republic of the Philippines
Manila, July 2010, Head the Privatization Office and Corporate Affairs Group. Monitor finances of major government-owned corporations. Oversee privatization transactions executed by national government agencies. Assist in the structuring, drafting of contracts, and bidding of
infrastructure projects through public-private partnership., Chief Operating Officer, Synergeia Foundation (www.synergeia.org.ph)

Manila, May 2009- June 2010
Managed a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of public elementary
schools throughout the Philippines through collaboration with local governments, school boards,
parent-teachers’ associations, and DepEd at municipal levels and below. Oversaw a full-time
staff of 35 and and an annual operating budget of P 100 million. Day-to-day work focused on
implementation of a USAID funded project aimed at enhancing quality and access to both basic
and non-formal education in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu. Undersecretary for Privatization, Department of Finance, Republic of the Philippines

Manila, September 2006 – October 2007
Oversaw dispositions of government-owned corporations, shares in private corporations, and
real estate assets. Made policy recommendations on which assets to privatize, how to structure
and execute transactions, and valuation to the cabinet-level Privatization Council and other
government-related bodies. Led execution team for selected transactions. Increased net
government revenues from privatization from a 2001-2006 annual average of P 3.6 billion to P
43 billion in January-October 2007. Consultant to the Privatization Office, Department of Finance, Republic of the Philippines

Manila, November 2005 – September 2006
Identified commercial and legal impediments to planned privatization transactions, and
recommended potential solutions. Assisted in the execution of selected transactions.
Executive Director, Asian Special Situations Group, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC
Hong Kong, May 2000 - March 2004 Identified, analyzed, and executed debt and equity investments for an Asia ex-Japan proprietary trading group with a 20-30% annualized return target. Investments were primarily in defaulted or otherwise distressed companies in Southeast Asia, through loans, bonds, vendor receivables, and equity, ranging in size from US$ 5-40 million. Participated in debt restructuring negotiations when necessary. Underwrote portfolios of non-performing loans being sold by government agencies and financial institutions in Korea, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.Vice President, Fixed Income Credit Research, Salomon Smith Barney Hong Kong Ltd.

Hong Kong, January 1998 – April 2000
Researched and identified trading opportunities in Asian fixed income credits, ranging from
2 sovereigns to high-yield corporates and distressed debt. Wrote and published frequent reports on Asian credits. Led credit ratings advisory process for new and existing bond issuers, in preparation for deal launches. Assistant Director, Credit Research, Peregrine Fixed Income Ltd.

Hong Kong / Jakarta, October 1996 - January 1998
Analyzed Asian sovereigns, financial institutions, and corporates, and published research reports for distribution to institutional clients, and sales and trading desks. Made frequent presentations to investors through roadshows and seminars. Analyzed risk of existing counterparties and potential deal candidates as part of special Indonesia-focused team from August 1997-January 1998. Focus was on Indonesian, Philippine, Hong Kong, and Chinese credits. Associate Director, Sovereign Ratings,

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Group New York, July 1993 – October 1996
Analyzed credit trends of sovereign bond issuers, public sector financial institutions, and
corporates, through extensive dialogue with senior government policymakers and corporate
leaders, monitoring of key policies and economic developments, and statistical analysis. Made
frequent presentations on sovereign credit and related topics internally, to investors, and the
media. Was lead analyst for Brazil, Colombia, Finland, India, Korea, Oman, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Intern, Women’s Development Project, CARE International

Dhaka, Bangladesh , September 1991 - August 1992
Program Officer, Department of Agrarian Reform, Republic of the Philippines Manila, November 1989 - July 1990

Education
Graduate:
Princeton University: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs
Master of Public Affairs, June 1993

Undergraduate: Cornell University
Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, May 1989, major in Government and Economics
Other Information

Fluent in English, Tagalog, and Spanish, proficient in Mandarin Chinese.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE