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

PALACE REMINDS OMBUDSMAN: P-NOY IMMUNE FROM LAWSUIT
[According to reports, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed this morning that her office is now investigating Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in connection with the implementation of the controversial DAP.]


SEPT 1 -President Benigno Aquino III administers the oath of office to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales at Malacañang’s President’s Hall in July 2011. Malacañang Photo Bureau Amid the ongoing probe on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Malacañang reminded the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday that the chief executive enjoys immunity from lawsuit. "We wish to point out the Constitutional principle that an incumbent President of the Philippines is immune from suit," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a note to media. According to reports, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed this morning that her office is now investigating Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in connection with the implementation of the controversial DAP. Morales made the revelation in reply to a question during a hearing on the proposed budget of her office in the House of Representatives. Coloma said they respect the authority of the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the president. "The Office of the Ombudsman is empowered by law to conduct such investigation," Coloma said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Ombudsman to ask SC to reconsider its bail ruling on Enrile


SEPT 1 -Senator Juan Ponce Enrile
The Office of the Ombudsman is preparing to file its motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court to appeal High Court’s bail grant ruling favoring Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
At the congressional budget hearing, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said they will be appealing to the SC to reconsider its Aug. 18 decision. The Office of the Special Prosecutor will be the one filing the anti-graft court’s motion for reconsideration. “That is sub judice. We are about to file a motion for reconsideration on SC’s decision granting bail to Senator Enrile,” Carpio-Morales said, in response to query of Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, lawyer, if the SC decision “weakened the case” of the Ombudsman. Voting 8-4, the SC en banc allowed on August 18 the 91-year old Enrile to post bail for plunder, a non-bailable offense on “humanitarian” grounds. Enrile was slapped with plunder and graft charges in June last year for allegedly pocketing P172 million in pork barrel funds. In its 16-page decision, the SC granted Enrile’s request for bail, explaining that “denying him bail despite imperiling his health and life would not serve the true objective of preventive incarceration during the trial.” The 91-year old Enrile, who is on trial for plunder in connection with his supposed involvement in the P10-bilion pork barrel scam was released from Camp Crame last August 20. House Independent Bloc Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez had appealed to the critics of the SC bail ruling to respect the decision, saying that the attacks on Enrile’s provisional freedom won’t help strengthen the legal institution. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy leads Heroes Day rites


SEPT 2 -FILIPINOS should unite and continue the fight for which the country’s heroes “stood firm, sacrificed, and offered their lives [for] the people and the nation,” President Benigno Aquino III exhorted the nation during yesterday’s observance of National Heroes Day.
Aquino made the call as he led the annual rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, but again made no mention of the 44 police commandos who were killed in a controversial anti-terrorist operation that he himself approved. National Heroes’ Day. President Benigno Aquino III offers a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Fort Bonifacio on National Heroes’ Day on Monday. Malacañang Photo Bureau “Without doubt: Whenever violence or oppression takes place, there is a perpetrator and there is the victim; and if you are not the abuser, and you are not being abused, then we must ask: what did you do?” Aquino said in his speech. “It is in these moments that heroes are needed. It is in these moments that the courage of the heroic few becomes clear, rising above all,” he said. “Together, as one nation, let us join hands. I have every confidence that now that we have begun something so extraordinary, we will continue to journey to our desired destination; the Filipino people will indeed realize our collective aspirations of a better and brighter future for our beloved Philippines,” he said. The President said the sacrifices of the national heroes will have no meaning “if we failed to live out the very principles and ideals fought for by the individuals we honor through such structures.” “On this day, we pay tribute to the sacrifices offered by Philippine heroes. As we honor them, so too are we called to do our part and to continue the battle they began — whether in a small, or a big way — for the betterment of our nation,” he said. “This must be why the word ‘bayan’ or ‘nation’ forms part of our term for ‘hero’ or ‘bayani’. Each one of us possesses the ability to go beyond ourselves for our countrymen and our flag,” Aquino said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino ready to face raps after term ends in 2016 - Lacierda to reporters


SEPT 2 -LACIERDA: “In the universe of possibilities, if anybody wants to question the President subsequent to his term, there will always be people who will attempt to do so,” Lacierda replied when asked if the President and his administration are open to the idea that they could face charges after 2016. President Benigno Aquino 3rd is ready to face whatever charges would be slapped against him in the future,
Malacañang said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President is not discounting the possibility that he will face charges after his term expires in 2016. “In the universe of possibilities, if anybody wants to question the President subsequent to his term, there will always be people who will attempt to do so,” Lacierda replied when asked if the President and his administration are open to the idea that they could face charges after 2016. “The President has mentioned already that we have disturbed a number of rice bowls. Will there be people unhappy with the government? Will there be people unhappy with the President? In the universe of possibilities, yes, there are people who will be unhappy with how we went through daang matuwid [straight path],” he said. Lacierda made the statement after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed that her office is conducting an investigation against Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), some parts of which the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional. Vice President Jejomar Binay, however, called the Ombudsman’s investigation as nothing but drama. “Basta’t ako, my feeling is, drama lang ito para ngayon pa lang ay mapatay na ‘yong mga bintang at kung anu-ano. Kasi issue ‘yan sa darating na halalan [This is all for show. READ MORE....

ALSO: Ombudsman’s ire; Morales accuses Noy of slashing probe body’s funds 


SEPT 3 -OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales complained in her testimony before Congress Wednesday that President Benigno Aquino III was usurping her constitutionally guaranteed fiscal autonomy by making her seek his permission before spending more than P2 million from her agency’s income from clearance collections and savings.
At Tuesday’s budget hearing, Morales said they could not use their own income from the collection of clearance fees to augment the agency’s operations. “How sad because we are supposed to be fiscally independent and yet we cannot come up with the use of the P4 million generated from the issuance of clearances,” Morales told the House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab. Morales made known her complaint on the same day that she announced that President Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad were already being investigated over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which the Supreme Court had struck down as illegal. But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday the Office of the Ombudsman cannot conduct a preliminary investigation against President Aquino over the DAP, saying that his constitutionally guaranteed immunity from suit includes preliminary investigations. This meant the Ombudsman may only conduct a fact-finding investigation of the charges against the President. “A complaint is filed so the Ombudsman has no option under the law but to conduct the fact-finding investigation. This is just the same with a complaint filed with the DoJ. It has no option but to conduct an investigation,” she said. “The President can be subject of an investigation by the Ombudsman. However, this only goes so far as the fact-finding stage because he cannot be subject to preliminary investigation without violating his immunity,” De Lima said. A fact-finding investigation involves data gathering, and a case build-up to determine if there is a need to subject a person to a preliminary investigation. The preliminary investigation refers to an inquiry to determine if there are sufficient grounds to file a case in court. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Palace reminds Ombudsman: PNoy immune from suit


President Benigno Aquino III administers the oath of office to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales at Malacañang’s President’s Hall in July 2011. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 7, 2015 (PHILSTAR)  By Louis Bacani - Amid the ongoing probe on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Malacañang reminded the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday that the chief executive enjoys immunity from lawsuit.

"We wish to point out the Constitutional principle that an incumbent President of the Philippines is immune from suit," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a note to media.

According to reports, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed this morning that her office is now investigating Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in connection with the implementation of the controversial DAP.

Morales made the revelation in reply to a question during a hearing on the proposed budget of her office in the House of Representatives.

Coloma said they respect the authority of the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the president.

"The Office of the Ombudsman is empowered by law to conduct such investigation," Coloma said.

READ MORE...

Introduced by the administration in 2011, the DAP realigned government savings from slow-moving projects to other programs to supposedly fast-track public spending and stimulate the economy.

In 2014, the Supreme Court (SC) unanimously declared certain acts under the DAP as unconstitutional for violating the doctrine of separation of powers and the constitutional provision prohibiting the inter-branch transfer of budget allocations.

The high court ruled that "authors, proponents and implementors" of the DAP such as Aquino and Abad can have criminal, civil, administrative and other liabilities "unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by the proper tribunals."

The SC ruling against the DAP sparked calls for the resignation of Aquino and Abad and an impeachment attempt on the president.

Aquino and Abad had consistently defended the DAP, saying the program was done in good faith and benefited the nation.


MANILA BULLETIN

Ombudsman to ask SC to reconsider its bail ruling on Enrile by Charissa Luci September 1, 2015 (updated)


Senator Juan Ponce Enrile

The Office of the Ombudsman is preparing to file its motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court to appeal High Court’s bail grant ruling favoring Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

At the congressional budget hearing, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said they will be appealing to the SC to reconsider its Aug. 18 decision.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor will be the one filing the anti-graft court’s motion for reconsideration.

“That is sub judice. We are about to file a motion for reconsideration on SC’s decision granting bail to Senator Enrile,” Carpio-Morales said, in response to query of Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, lawyer, if the SC decision “weakened the case” of the Ombudsman.

Voting 8-4, the SC en banc allowed on August 18 the 91-year old Enrile to post bail for plunder, a non-bailable offense on “humanitarian” grounds.

Enrile was slapped with plunder and graft charges in June last year for allegedly pocketing P172 million in pork barrel funds.

In its 16-page decision, the SC granted Enrile’s request for bail, explaining that “denying him bail despite imperiling his health and life would not serve the true objective of preventive incarceration during the trial.”

The 91-year old Enrile, who is on trial for plunder in connection with his supposed involvement in the P10-bilion pork barrel scam was released from Camp Crame last August 20.

House Independent Bloc Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez had appealed to the critics of the SC bail ruling to respect the decision, saying that the attacks on Enrile’s provisional freedom won’t help strengthen the legal institution.

READ MORE...

“At the end of the day, the Supreme Court is the last bulwark of democracy. We may agree or may not, but let’s respect the ruling being the final arbiter of all legal conflicts,” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima raised eyebrows at the ruling, saying that the Philippines has gone back to being a “Banana Republic” following the SC’s decision.

“Our officials should not make statements against the Supreme Court because we are destabilizing the institution. When it comes to interpreting the law, all parties must respect the majesty of the court—win or lose,” Romualdez said.

In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said, “bail for humanitarian considerations is neither presently provided in our Rules of Court nor found in any statute or provision of the Constitution.”


MANILA STANDARD

PNoy leads Heroes Day rites By Sandy Araneta | Sep. 01, 2015 at 12:01am



FILIPINOS should unite and continue the fight for which the country’s heroes “stood firm, sacrificed, and offered their lives [for] the people and the nation,” President Benigno Aquino III exhorted the nation during yesterday’s observance of National Heroes Day.

Aquino made the call as he led the annual rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, but again made no mention of the 44 police commandos who were killed in a controversial anti-terrorist operation that he himself approved.

National Heroes’ Day. President Benigno Aquino III offers a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Fort Bonifacio on National Heroes’ Day on Monday. Malacañang Photo Bureau “Without doubt: Whenever violence or oppression takes place, there is a perpetrator and there is the victim; and if you are not the abuser, and you are not being abused, then we must ask: what did you do?” Aquino said in his speech.

“It is in these moments that heroes are needed. It is in these moments that the courage of the heroic few becomes clear, rising above all,” he said.

“Together, as one nation, let us join hands. I have every confidence that now that we have begun something so extraordinary, we will continue to journey to our desired destination; the Filipino people will indeed realize our collective aspirations of a better and brighter future for our beloved Philippines,” he said.

The President said the sacrifices of the national heroes will have no meaning “if we failed to live out the very principles and ideals fought for by the individuals we honor through such structures.”

“On this day, we pay tribute to the sacrifices offered by Philippine heroes. As we honor them, so too are we called to do our part and to continue the battle they began — whether in a small, or a big way — for the betterment of our nation,” he said.

“This must be why the word ‘bayan’ or ‘nation’ forms part of our term for ‘hero’ or ‘bayani’. Each one of us possesses the ability to go beyond ourselves for our countrymen and our flag,” Aquino said.

READ MORE...

Whether we are ordinary citizens, or those in the highest echelons of power, each one has the responsibility and the ability to take part in working for the improvement of wider society—from the simple act of following our rules and laws; to reaching out and helping our fellowmen, especially those most in need; to the readiness to fight for what is right and what is just, whatever the time or situation,” he added.

During the event, President Aquino received the first copy of a book entitled “Ang Mamatay ng Dahil sa ’Yo (To Die for You)” from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

”This books honors our martyrs and the many Filipino heroes who went up against the dictatorship during Martial Law from the years of 1972 to 1986. They are among those we thank and recognize today,” the President said.

The President said from the 1896 Revolution to the country’s liberty from Spain in 1898, to the independence that the nation gained from the United States in 1946, to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, and even to the solidarity that the nation displayed in 2010, “so many Filipinos have proven that we can bring about meaningful change.“

”We can uplift and spur our country to greater progress. The only thing that is needed: that we link arms, act, and work together as one nation; in that way, the heavy burdens we carry as a country need not be carried by a few shoulders alone. Instead, each one will bring a lighter load, and in so doing, we will avoid passing the problems of the present to succeeding generations,” he added.


MANILA TIMES

Aquino ready to face raps after term ends in 2016 September 2, 2015 11:24 pm by CATHERINE S. VALENTE, REPORTER AND JOMAR CANLAS, SENIOR REPORTER


LACIERDA: “In the universe of possibilities, if anybody wants to question the President subsequent to his term, there will always be people who will attempt to do so,” Lacierda replied when asked if the President and his administration are open to the idea that they could face charges after 2016.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd is ready to face whatever charges would be slapped against him in the future,

Malacañang said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President is not discounting the possibility that he will face charges after his term expires in 2016.

“In the universe of possibilities, if anybody wants to question the President subsequent to his term, there will always be people who will attempt to do so,” Lacierda replied when asked if the President and his administration are open to the idea that they could face charges after 2016.

“The President has mentioned already that we have disturbed a number of rice bowls. Will there be people unhappy with the government? Will there be people unhappy with the President?

In the universe of possibilities, yes, there are people who will be unhappy with how we went through daang matuwid [straight path],” he said.

Lacierda made the statement after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed that her office is conducting an investigation against Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), some parts of which the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, however, called the Ombudsman’s investigation as nothing but drama. “Basta’t ako, my feeling is, drama lang ito para ngayon pa lang ay mapatay na ‘yong mga bintang at kung anu-ano. Kasi issue ‘yan sa darating na halalan [This is all for show.

READ MORE...

Right now, they’re already attempting to extinguish the issue because that will crop up in the next elections],” Binay said. Lacierda laughed off Binay’s statement.

“Subsequent to his break up from the administration, he’s been attacking the administration and President Aquino relentlessly. This is just part of his ‘nega’[negativity] campaign against the administration, so we are not surprised,” he told reporters.

Lacierda said Binay should respect the Ombudsman’s authority to investigate public officials.

“When he [Binay] is being investigated by the Senate, he said, ‘Bring it to the proper court.’ Nung dinala sa Ombudsman, binanatan ang Ombudsman [When it was brought to the Ombudsman, he hit at the Ombudsman]” he added.

“He’s a lawyer. He should not preempt what the Ombudsman is doing, ” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the President does not regret appointing Morales despite the inquiry into DAP.

“You know, when the President appointed Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, he stated very categorically that he wanted an independent individual to head that office.
And does the President regret?

The President has mentioned Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, I think, thrice in the six times that he delivered the SONA [State of the Nation Address]—2011, 2012, and I believe [in] the last SONA, he also mentioned Ombudsman Carpio-Morales,” he added.

“He [Aquino] wants someone who will look after integrity. He wants someone… The President expects integrity in all branches of government. And so, no, the President does not regret appointing Ombudsman Carpio-Morales,” Lacierda said.

Meanwhile, he added, the Palace has no hand in the Ombudsman’s decision to conduct the probe. “There is no unseen hand. This is the independence of [Carpio-Morales] working as the Office of the Ombudsman was meant to be. To be an independent office and to be able to investigate without fear or favor,” Lacierda said.

“So I do not wish to preempt any statement for or against, or, rather, the status of the case that is being investigated right now by the Office of the Ombudsman.

We would rather respect the independence of the Ombudsman,” he added.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said while the President is immune from suit, members of his Cabinet are not free from any criminal or administrative charges.

“This [Ombudsman probe] only goes so far as the fact-finding stage because he [Aquino] cannot be subject to preliminary investigation without violating his immunity. Again, only the President is immune from further stages of prosecution,” she added.

“No one else possesses this… immunity other than the President, neither high government leaders nor religious leaders [possess it],” de Lima said.

She was reacting to a declaration of Morales before a budget hearing in the House of Representatives that her office is investigating Aquino and Budget chief Florencio Abad on the DAP. “What I know is there is also a complaint or complaints [involving the DAP]. Even then, the Ombudsman indeed has motu proprio powers. Even the President can be the subject of an investigation by the Ombudsman,” de Lima said.


MANILA STANDARD

Ombudsman’s ire By Christine F. Herrera, Rey E. Requejo | Sep. 03, 2015 at 12:01am


Morales accuses Noy of slashing probe body’s funds

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales complained in her testimony before Congress Wednesday that President Benigno Aquino III was usurping her constitutionally guaranteed fiscal autonomy by making her seek his permission before spending more than P2 million from her agency’s income from clearance collections and savings.

At Tuesday’s budget hearing, Morales said they could not use their own income from the collection of clearance fees to augment the agency’s operations.

“How sad because we are supposed to be fiscally independent and yet we cannot come up with the use of the P4 million generated from the issuance of clearances,” Morales told the House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab.

Morales made known her complaint on the same day that she announced that President Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad were already being investigated over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which the Supreme Court had struck down as illegal.

But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday the Office of the Ombudsman cannot conduct a preliminary investigation against President Aquino over the DAP, saying that his constitutionally guaranteed immunity from suit includes preliminary investigations.

This meant the Ombudsman may only conduct a fact-finding investigation of the charges against the President.

“A complaint is filed so the Ombudsman has no option under the law but to conduct the fact-finding investigation. This is just the same with a complaint filed with the DoJ. It has no option but to conduct an investigation,” she said.

“The President can be subject of an investigation by the Ombudsman. However, this only goes so far as the fact-finding stage because he cannot be subject to preliminary investigation without violating his immunity,” De Lima said.

A fact-finding investigation involves data gathering, and a case build-up to determine if there is a need to subject a person to a preliminary investigation.

The preliminary investigation refers to an inquiry to determine if there are sufficient grounds to file a case in court.

READ MORE...

Morales said Tuesday that her office has created a fact-finding team to investigate the DAP cases.

In the budget hearing, Morales also said the P4 million from fees was the only income her agency received, but she could not use it.

For additional intelligence funds to finance confidential activities of the Office of the Ombudsman, she said the agency has to use money from its savings that also come from the collection fees.

Morales said at present, the ceiling for the use of savings is P2 million; beyond that, they must secure the approval of the President.

She sought congressional help to raise the ceiling to P5 million, so that the agency would only need presidential approval beyond that amount.

Morales was in the House to defend her office’s P1.77-billion budget proposed for 2016.

Director Soledad Doloiras, a Budget Department representative, said as in years previous, the Ombudsman augmented its existing appropriation for the conduct of confidential activities out of their savings in the current year.

“Because of the available savings from personnel services of the Ombudsman, they can always realign it to cover deficiencies in the conduct of confidential activities,” Doloiras said during the appropriations committee hearing presided over by Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua, panel vice chairman.

Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal asked Doloiras if the DBM could recommend an increase in the intelligence fund of the Ombudsman, instead of making it rely on savings.

Pangasinan Rep. Rosemarie Arenas urged her colleagues to pass the proposal seeking to provide more fiscal autonomy to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“If we have to stay true to our commitment to good governance, then let’s act on the bill in favor of the Ombudsman,” Arenas said.

In his budget message to Congress, President Aquino said the Office of the Ombudsman will receive P1.78 billion next year, a cumulative 68-percent increase from its P1.06-billion budget in 2010, enabling it to more vigorously prosecute corruption cases.

Of the P1.78 billion of the Office of the Ombudsman next year, P1.5 billion has been allotted to personnel services, P253.18 million to maintenance and other operating expenses, and P21.4 million to capital outlay.

For 2014, the Ombudsman resolved 6,236 criminal and administrative cases from the combined workforce of 14, 951, leaving a balance of 8,715 cases as of January 2015, Ombudsman records show.

A total of 632 criminal complaints resulted in the filing of criminal cases in various courts, of which 135 charges were filed before the Sandiganbayan.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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