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'BATO' FREEZES ANTI-DRUG WAR (TOKHANG); DUTERTE DISSOLVES 'AIDG'; PNP CLEANSING  (DUTERTE: “You policemen are the most corrupt. You are corrupt to the core. It’s in your system,”)
[RELATED: PNP Chief seeks God's forgiveness for drug slays]


JANUARY 31 -DUTERTE, HOWEVER, EXTENDS WAR ON DRUGS TO 2022  Apparently pressured over the controversies triggered by the kidnap-slaying of a South Koreran businessman allegedly by active policemen, the Philippine National Police’s anti-narcotics campaign dubbed “tokhang” has been put on hold. PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa said the campaign will be overhauled starting with the disbandment of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) and the forming of a Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) under his command to weed out police scalawags. De la Rosa said the move was in compliance to President Duterte’s instruction for the PNP leadership to cleanse its ranks of unscrupulous policemen first before proceeding with a longer phase of the all-out war against illegal drugs which Mr. Duterte said will be extended up to the last day of his term which ends 2022. “We are under the executive department. We take orders from the President,” said dela Rosa, who admitted that the kidnap-slaying of South Korean Jee Ick Joo prompted the order to dissolve the AIDG. He said all the while the PNP high command observed regularity in all police anti-drug operations until Jee’s kidnap-slaying happened. “Now we cannot presume regularity anymore because the Korean was indeed killed,” lamented Dela Rosa. READ MORE...RELATED,
PNP Chief seeks God's forgiveness for drug slays...

ALSO: Bishop Pabillo twits Bato - Apology without change is hypocrisy
[RELATED: Rody - Only stupid God will send me to hell]


FEBRUARY 2 -Bishop Broderick Pabillo (Pio Antonio Bellen/CBCPNews) Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa may have apologized to God due to the rising number of killings amid the government's bloody war against drugs but a Roman Catholic bishop is not having any of it. Speaking to Church-run Radio Veritas, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said those who are asking for God's forgiveness without turning their backs from sin are hypocrites. "Ang paghingi ng tawad na hindi nagbabago ang paraan 'yan ay ipokrito," the prelate said. "Hihingi ka ng tawad tapos tuloy ang gagawin mong pagpatay, sorry na lang ang tinamaan, ano'ng sorry nila? Buti kung nasugatan lang eh pinatay nila 'yan." READ MORE...RELATED, Rody - Only stupid God will send me to hell...

ALSO: Palace - CBCP 'out of touch' after pastoral letter vs drug war
[RELATED: FULL TEXT - CBCP’s pastoral statement vs illegal drugs, killings]



FEBRUARY 5 -PHOTO: In this Sept. 5, 2016 photo, police inspect the site where alleged drug user Marcelo Salvador was shot dead by unidentified men in Las Pinas, south of Manila, Philippines. Drug dealers and drug addicts, were being shot by police or slain by unidentified gunmen in mysterious, gangland-style murders that were taking place at night. Salvador became a victim, the casualty of a vicious war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives as part of a campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
Malacańang Sunday lashed back at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for issuing a pastoral letter raising concerns on the “reign of terror” supposedly created by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said CBCP officials are “apparently out of touch” with the sentiments of those who back the changes introduced by the president. “The officials of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines are apparently out of touch with the sentiments of the faithful who overwhelmingly support the changes in the Philippines — turning the nation into a safer place for families, working people, especially young night shift workers, far from the "terror" the bishops paint rather dramatically,” Abella said in a statement Sunday. “The efforts of these Church leaders might be put to better use in practical catechetics that build strong moral character among the faithful, and so contribute more to the reign of peace felt by ordinary citizens everywhere, especially those who are innocent of illegal activities,” he added. READ MORE...RELATED,
FULL TEXT: CBCP’s pastoral statement vs illegal drugs, killings...

ALSO: After PNP, Duterte bans NBI from drug war

[RELATED: Vigilante killings disappear after halt in police drug efforts]


FEBRUARY 2 -In this June 8, 2016 photo, residents watch while police car passes by as they enforce a night to dawn curfew for minors in Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday prohibited another key law enforcement agency from carrying out his deadly anti-drug crackdown after banning the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the campaign because of corruption, and suggested he will use the military instead. Duterte said his decision to exclude the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from the crackdown left him with fewer enforcers and increased the pressure for him to tap the military, which has been busy battling Muslim extremist groups on three battlefronts in Mindanao. "We can't use the police because it is corrupt. I cannot trust now the NBI because it is corrupt," Duterte said in a speech in his southern hometown, Davao City. "I have limited warm bodies, I still have so many wars to fight." READ MORE...RELATED, Vigilante killings disappear after halt in police drug efforts...

ALSO: Duterte officials hold drug suspects, criminals, not human
[RELATED: NeverAgain shared Ruben Carranza's post]


FEBRUARY 2 -Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre testifies at the Senate hearing on Tuesday (January 31) at the Senate Building in Pasay City. PNA/Avito C. Dalan Philippine Constitution, UN rights declaration say suspects and criminals actually also human 
Justice Secretary Vitaliano II on Wednesday dismissed concerns raised by an international human rights watchdog that drug-related killings in the country may constitute crimes against humanity under international law. Amnesty International has raised the alarm over what it sees as the deliberate, widespread and systematic killings of alleged drug offenders which appear to be planned and organized by authorities. The Justice secretary, however, said that he does not consider criminals part of humanity. "The criminals, the drug lords, drug pushers, they are not humanity. They are not humanity," Aguirre said despite a pledge posted on the Department of Justice website to "provide every person equal access to justice, to faithfully safeguard constitutional rights and to ensure that no one is deprived of due process of law." READ MORE...RELATED,
NeverAgain shared Ruben Carranza's post...

ALSO:
Lopez, Pińol hurdle CA; Aguirre's appointment opposed by Trillanes, is
deferred
[RELATED VIDEO: Aguirre answers Trillanes, point-by-point; TEXT: Aguirre's point-by-point answer on P50-M BI bribery mess]


FEBRUARY 2 -Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II listens as the Commission on Appointments defers his confirmation following objection by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday. GEREMY PINTOLO
The Commission on Appointments (CA) has deferred until Feb. 15 its decision on the confirmation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, whose appointment is being opposed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. Two other Cabinet members, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pińol, were able to hurdle their respective confirmation hearings yesterday. Trillanes, no longer a member of the CA, is opposing the confirmation of Aguirre on three grounds, starting with the latter’s supposed “lack of required demeanor befitting the position of the secretary of justice.” He said Aguirre has demonstrated that he is vindictive, vengeful and completely lacks equanimity for him to be entrusted with the power and authority of justice chief. READ MORE...RELATED, WATCH: Aguirre answers, point-by-point, Trillanes' questions...
TEXT: Aguirre's point-by-point answer on P50-M BI bribery mess...


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Bato freezes PNP’s tokhang

DUTERTE, HOWEVER, EXTENDS WAR ON DRUGS TO 2022

MANILA, FEBRUARY 6, 2017 (TRIBUNE) Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 31 January 2017 00:00 By Mario J. Mallari and Ted Tuvera - Apparently pressured over the controversies triggered by the kidnap-slaying of a South Koreran businessman allegedly by active policemen, the Philippine National Police’s anti-narcotics campaign dubbed “tokhang” has been put on hold.

PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa said the campaign will be overhauled starting with the disbandment of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) and the forming of a Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) under his command to weed out police scalawags.

De la Rosa said the move was in compliance to President Duterte’s instruction for the PNP leadership to cleanse its ranks of unscrupulous policemen first before proceeding with a longer phase of the all-out war against illegal drugs which Mr. Duterte said will be extended up to the last day of his term which ends 2022.

“We are under the executive department. We take orders from the President,” said dela Rosa, who admitted that the kidnap-slaying of South Korean Jee Ick Joo prompted the order to dissolve the AIDG.

He said all the while the PNP high command observed regularity in all police anti-drug operations until Jee’s kidnap-slaying happened.
“Now we cannot presume regularity anymore because the Korean was indeed killed,” lamented Dela Rosa.

READ MORE...

Mr. Duterte described the police force prosecuting his deadly crime war as “corrupt to the core” and announced his intention to “cleanse” the police force during late press briefing Sunday night that extended until yesterday morning where top security officials and PNP heads attended.

Duterte said nearly 40 percent of the police force are engaged in illegal activities.

Once in office, Duterte extended the timeframe of the drug war until March of this year, but yesterday he said there would be no end while he was in power.
“I will extend it to the last day of my term,” Duterte said, adding: “March no longer applies.”

In the Philippines, presidents are allowed to serve only a single term of six years.

His anti-narcotics campaign has been put in a bad light after a series of scandals where officers were caught committing murder, extortion and robbery while using the drugs war as cover.

“You policemen are the most corrupt. You are corrupt to the core. It’s in your system,” Duterte told reporters as he railed against the anti-drug officers who allegedly masterminded the murder of Jee inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.

His comments came seven months after he took office and immediately tasked police with being the frontline troops in his plans to wipe out the illegal drug trade that he said was threatening to turn the Philippines into a narco state.

Since then, police have reported shooting dead more than 2,500 people they have accused of being drug suspects, alleging on every occasion they had to open fire in self defense.

Human rights groups and relatives of some of the victims have alleged police frequently shoot dead defenseless people, and often plant drugs and a gun on the bullet-riddled corpse.

Nearly 4,000 other people have died in unexplained circumstances in the crackdown, according to official figures. Mr. Duterte and PNP officials rejected suggestions that members of the police force were involved in summary executions.

Many of those victims have had signs placed on them labeling them drug traffickers or users.

Duterte won the presidential elections largely on a law-and-order platform headlined by a vow to eliminate the illegal drug trade in three to six months.
Tokhang abused

KOREAN KIDNAPPED

Jee was kidnapped last Oct. 18 at his residence in Angeles City during an alleged Oplan “Tokhang” staged by the group of SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel of the PNP-AIDG. The Korean was subsequently brought to Camp Crame where he was supposedly killed.

Oplan “Tokhang” is the brainchild of de la Rosa in the PNP’s all-out war against illegal drugs that resulted in the surrender of 1,178,224 drug personalities from July 1 up to 6 a.m. yesterday.

Under “Tokhang”, a total of 7,031,394 houses were visited by PNP personnel to convince illegal drug users and pushers to stop with their illegal activities.

Dela Rosa, however, assured all PNP personnel assigned with anti-drug units, who are not involved into illegal activities, will be given assignments.



“Not all anti-drug units of the PNP are bad, there are only bad eggs. I am sorry for them (good cops). Most of them are performing very well…many of them died, or were wounded and harassed with cases and filing of counter-charges because of their regular performance of their duties,” said de la Rosa.

“But we cannot do otherwise. The President said we need drastic actions and this is the drastic action we are taking right now –dissolve all (anti-drug units)…we have to stop and concentrate first on our internal cleansing,” he added.

He said it is up to the police commanders to reassign their men.

Meantime, all operations against illegal drugs will be under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

TEMPORARY SETBACK

The chief PNP, however, said the stoppage of the war on drugs is a temporary setback on the part of the PNP and a “victory” for the drug lords.

“To all drug lords, you have your day, this is your day. You may achieve your victory right now or this day maybe but as I have said this is a temporary victory on your part…there is always (a) time for reckoning,” said de la Rosa.

To pursue the PNP-wide cleansing, dela Rosa said that he is now scouting for a “no non-sense” police colonel with unblemished record to head the CITF.

“We must be careful because this unit will police the police…the selection will be very rigid…the leader should be beyond question, beyond doubts, a very clean person and brave to go head against erring cops,” said de la Rosa.

The first task given to the CITF is to account for all PNP personnel who have been involved in illegal activities before but were reinstated in the police ranks.

De la Rosa said he already directed the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and Directorate for personnel and Resource Management (DPRM) to consolidate their efforts in coming up with a list of all police scalawags.

Dumlao to tell all

Meanwhile, de la Rosa said that Supt. Raphael Dumalo, immediate superior of Sta. Isabel, is now wiling to cooperate in the ongoing investigation of Jee’s killing.

“He is willing to tell all, to give the whole picture of the story according to his version…today (Monday) he is expected to be giving his affidavit,” said de la Rosa of Dumlao, who is now under restrictive custody.

Dumlao was the “Sir Dumlao” covered by a warrant of arrest issued by a Pampanga court in connection to the killing of Jee.

According to dela Rosa, based on Dumlao’s testimony there are high-ranking officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) involved.

On the side of the PNP, de la Rosa said that the senior ranking official involved would be Dumlao.

Aside from Sta. Isabel and Dumlao, also implicated in Jee’s kidnap-slaying were SPO4 Roy Villegas and PO2 Christopher Baldovino.

De la Rosa was criticized by various sectors following his public admission that Jee was killed right inside Camp Crame allegedly by Sta. Isabel.

Dela Rosa offered his resignation to Duterte but the President disapproved it and urged the chief PNP to do his job and cleanse the police ranks with scalawags.

Campaign promise

During the campaign season, Mr. Duterte promised to pulverize drug trafficking and other criminal activities within his first three to six months in office but some 90 days after assuming the Presidency and “realizing how deep the problem is” he later asked to extend it for another six months which obliges him to deliver by the end of March this year.

“The drug war? I will extend it to the last day of my term. March (of 2017)? Not anymore. Maybe by March of 2022. It should be during the last day of my term. It’s five years plus ahead,” Mr. Duterte told reporters in an early morning press conference at the Palace.

“Little did I know when I became President and had access already to all information available and to my horror and the Filipinos and everybody including the human rights, thousands, hundred of thousands Filipinos surrendering everyday,” he explained.

As of January 28, the administration’s war on drugs has killed 7,071 suspected drug traffickers, who were killed in legitimate operations and by vigilante-like killings.

Mr. Duterte, who said he felt humiliated by Jee’s murder incident, stated that he is planning to establish a national command focused on the narcotics crackdown that would involve coordination of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“I have raised the drug issue to the level of a national security. So, that empowers me to get into the picture, (instructing the) military (to do) police work,” the President said.

“I said I will establish in a new command. It could be a narcotics command. It will be partnered (after) the PDEA,” he added.

Duterte promised to give Dumlao due process but at the same time advised him to keep himself safe.

“(Dumlao) is now a suspect. So you’re in the barracks and he has to be investigated. He has to be there 36 hours as a matter of fact,” Mr. Duterte said.

“But because of the gravity of charges and the very stupid crime that they committed, if I were Dumlao, I’d stay inside. I’m not trying to threaten you. Stay inside the prison,” he added.

The Chief Executive added he rejected de la Rosa’s offer to resign as PNP Chief while warning erring cops who are into illegal rackets, such as drug trafficking and kidnap-for-ransom, as what allegedly happened to Jee, will be deployed as combatants in terrorist-infiltrated areas in Mindanao such as Basilan, Lanao del Norte and Sulu.

“All you have to do is look at the records and how many policemen have had cases mostly involving extortion. And if they are already reinstated and done legally, I will just gather them, bring them a new uniform, new combat boots. I (need) to have a strong presence in Basilan and in Jolo. I’ll send them as advanced troops,” Mr. Duterte said.

Mixed reactions

De la Rosa’s decision to suspend the PNP’s campaign drew contrasting reactions from at least two members of the House of Representatives yesterday with an administration ally expectedly expressing support while a member of the Minority bloc taking an opposing position.

In a telephone interview, PBA Rep. Jericho “Koko” Nograles expressed full support of dela Rosa’s pronouncement shelving temporarily the PNP’s anti-drug operation to give way for the organizations massive campaign to clean its own ranks of scalawag cops.

“The PNP has to clean its ranks first before it can effect an honest-to-goodness anti-crime operations,” the solon stressed.

“One bad arrest leads to a bad prosecution,” Nograles stressed.

However, Senior Deputy Minority Leader, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza strongly disagreed with the suspension of the war on illegal drugs.

“What he must stop is the extra-judicial killings and the vigilantism accompanying the war on illegal drugs,” Atienza told the Tribune.

“And also, he must make sure the criminal activities of scalawag cops perpetrated under the guise of Oplan Tokhang are put to stop,” the solon added.

Cibac Rep. SheRwin Tugna shared Atienza’s position on the matter saying the war against illegal drugs should never be suspended even for a second.

Surigao del Norte Rep Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs also expressed opposition to the suspension of the the government’s campaign. He said the only people who would benefit from it are the drug syndicates. |

Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano shared a similar view. “Oplang Tukhang should be suspended while the campaign should continue against drug pushers,” Albano said.

Media stunt — HRWatch

This developed as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the pause in anti-drug operations by the PNP for “internal cleansing” is “nothing less than an empty public relations (PR) gesture.

HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine issued the reaction after de la Rosa noted that even if there will be a pause in the murders, the top Philippine law enforcer still does not seek “meaningful accountability for the more than 7,000 Filipinos killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive ‘war on drugs’ since July 1.”

Moreover, Duterte declared on the same day that de la Rosa spoke of a “pause” that the anti-drug campaign would not end until the last day of his term, which will come in 2022.

“If Duterte and de la Rosa continue to spurn their sworn obligation to protect the public and respect rule of law, many more Filipinos are at risk of unlawful killing,” Kine argued.

Reports emanating from Camp Crame, the headquarters of the 140,000-member PNP, talked of a P20,000-reward for every fatality, which HRW said includes minors, pregnant women and the elderly.

The leader of the New York-based HRW stressed “De la Rosa’s announcement is a cynical triumph of form over substance because it reaffirms that he has no interest in a meaningful probe into the circumstances of the police killings of 2,546 suspected drug users and drug dealers since July 1. De la Rosa instead parrots the justifications of the police personnel who have pulled the triggers in those killings by insisting those suspects died because they ‘fought back’ during attempted arrests.”

Kabayan Rep. Harry L. Roque lauded de la Rosa’s order, meanwhile, to stop the nationwide anti-illegal drug operations nationwide and focus instead on “internal cleansing.”

“Ridding the organization of rotten members is the necessary first step to wide-ranging reforms in the PNP. This is the challenge now for General Bato,” Roque said.

Critics questioned the sincerity of Duterte’s outrage against corrupt police, and why the police had been given such a free hand so far to kill in the name of the drug war if he knew so many were corrupt.

“How can a corrupt and fascist police force, where impunity is the norm, successfully stamp out criminal activities such as the illegal drug trade,” said Renato Reyes, secretary general of BAYAN, a coalition of leftist activist groups.

“The body count will continue to rise and more criminals in uniform will wreck havoc on the people.”
Charlie V. Manalo, Gerry Baldo, AFP

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

EARLIER REPORT FROM ABS-CBN

PNP Chief seeks God's forgiveness for drug slays ABS-CBN News Posted at Dec 19 2016 01:13 PM | Updated as of Dec 19 2016 01:23 PM

"Lord forgive me for what I am going to do. Lord forgive us for what we have done."

So said Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa as he announced that over 6,000 people have been killed amid the government's war on drugs.

Over 2,000 drug suspects were killed in police operations from July 1 to December 18, while another 4,000 died in vigilante attacks, Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa insisted that while the government does not desire the bloodbath, they can't stop their crackdown as long as the narcotics trade thrives.

"Hanggat nand'yan iyung problema, we will continue confronting the problem... We cannot guarantee na walang mamamatay dahil in every action, there is a corresponding reaction," he said.

Addressing the public, he added: "Please pray for us and help us ask for forgiveness for those killed."


ABS-CBN

Bishop Pabillo twits Bato: Apology without change is hypocrisy Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News Posted at Dec 21 2016 12:39 AM


Bishop Broderick Pabillo (Pio Antonio Bellen/CBCPNews)

MANILA - Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa may have apologized to God due to the rising number of killings amid the government's bloody war against drugs but a Roman Catholic bishop is not having any of it.

Speaking to Church-run Radio Veritas, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said those who are asking for God's forgiveness without turning their backs from sin are hypocrites.

"Ang paghingi ng tawad na hindi nagbabago ang paraan 'yan ay ipokrito," the prelate said. "Hihingi ka ng tawad tapos tuloy ang gagawin mong pagpatay, sorry na lang ang tinamaan, ano'ng sorry nila? Buti kung nasugatan lang eh pinatay nila 'yan."

READ MORE...

In his remarks during the PNP's Christmas party on Monday, Dela Rosa said he is seeking for God's forgiveness as the killings of suspected drug offenders continue.

READ: PNP Chief seeks God's forgiveness for drug slays

According to data from ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, there have been 2,755 fatalities in connection to the war on drugs since May 10.

But Pabillo insisted that if authorities are truly sorry and craving forgiveness, they should lead the way in stopping the alleged cases of extrajudicial killings.

"Hindi sapat ang mangumpisal lamang at pagkatapos tuloy ang ginagawa mong kasalanan. At least magkumpisal ka na magbago. Kung walang pagbabago, walang sorry 'yan. Salita lang 'yan," the bishop added.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines is actively campaigning against killings amid the government's campaign to stop the illegal drug trade.

This earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte who has previously called the Catholic Church as the "most hypocritical institution."

Catholic bishops have also vowed to oppose Duterte's push for the reinstatement of the capital punishment, emphasizing its belief to the sanctity of life.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Rody: Only stupid God will send me to hell By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 3, 2017 - 12:00am 0 12 googleplus1 0


“Do not believe that you will go to hell... There is no such thing as heaven and hell. You know it would need a very stupid God if he creates me as a human being and at the end of my earthly life he would just send me to hell,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in his latest rantings against the Catholic Church in the country during a convention of the Philippine Association of Water Districts in Davao City. PPD/King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines - He may be everything but righteous, but President Duterte believes he is not destined for hell, as only a “stupid” God would consign a being he created to eternal damnation.

“Do not believe that you will go to hell... There is no such thing as heaven and hell. You know it would need a very stupid God if he creates me as a human being and at the end of my earthly life he would just send me to hell,” Duterte said in his latest rantings against the Catholic Church in the country during a convention of the Philippine Association of Water Districts in Davao City.

Despite his tirades, he admitted a “good pope” heads the Church, referring to Francis.

“God is alpha and omega, the beginning and end. He sees everything. You have free will but just the same, God knows that you’re going to hell so why the heck create me if you let me suffer?” he added.

READ MORE...

“If you’re the creator of life, then create another one but not me. You know (this is my) universal identity so you can’t tell me to change. ‘Mayor, do not say bad words, be courteous to visitors.’”

Duterte’s tirades came a week after he asked the public to ignore his outbursts against bishops.

Duterte, a baptized Catholic who claims to believe in God but not in religion, has been badmouthing the Catholic Church, some of whose bishops have criticized alleged extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.

Last week, the President said he is ready to resign if his claims about the corruption and sex scandals in the Church are proven false.

He went as far as accusing retired bishop Teodoro Bacani of having two wives and ridiculing priests with bad breath and dirty hands.

The President asked the public to “pray to the true God” as he took a jab at the Church, which he described as “all pageantry and drama.”

“In the meantime, we try to survive in this planet and we can only pray to the true God. Their God, with all the pageantry, look at their gold cross,” he said.

“I thought Christ was crucified on a wooden cross?”

Duterte then rehashed his story about priests’ supposed sexual indiscretions, including his being allegedly molested by a Jesuit priest when he was still a young student of Ateneo de Davao.

The President also accused bishops of spending billions for their travels and for failing to account for the money collected during masses.

“You keep on collecting but where’s the money?” the President said.


PHILSTAR

Palace says CBCP 'out of touch' after pastoral letter vs drug war By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated February 5, 2017 - 3:27pm 5 181 googleplus0 0


In this Sept. 5, 2016 photo, police inspect the site where alleged drug user Marcelo Salvador was shot dead by unidentified men in Las Pinas, south of Manila, Philippines. Drug dealers and drug addicts, were being shot by police or slain by unidentified gunmen in mysterious, gangland-style murders that were taking place at night. Salvador became a victim, the casualty of a vicious war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives as part of a campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. AP Photo/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — Malacańang Sunday lashed back at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for issuing a pastoral letter raising concerns on the “reign of terror” supposedly created by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said CBCP officials are “apparently out of touch” with the sentiments of those who back the changes introduced by the president.

“The officials of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines are apparently out of touch with the sentiments of the faithful who overwhelmingly support the changes in the Philippines — turning the nation into a safer place for families, working people, especially young night shift workers, far from the "terror" the bishops paint rather dramatically,” Abella said in a statement Sunday.

“The efforts of these Church leaders might be put to better use in practical catechetics that build strong moral character among the faithful, and so contribute more to the reign of peace felt by ordinary citizens everywhere, especially those who are innocent of illegal activities,” he added.

READ MORE...

The Catholic Church, the religious group of more than 80 percent of Filipinos, has earned the ire of Duterte after bishops criticized the spate of killings linked to the president’s narcotics crackdown.

About 7,000 suspected drug offenders have been killed since Duterte assumed office last June.

The president has claimed that the Catholic clergy has no moral ascendancy to criticize him because some of them have illicit affairs and are involved in sex and corruption scandals.

The CBCP Sunday issued a pastoral letter, expressing deep concern about the many deaths in the anti-drug campaign as well as the “reign of terror” in many poor communities.

The bishops also lamented the “indifference” of many to the killings, which they claimed is “considered as normal” and “something that needs to be done.”

The CBCP said it supports the campaign against illegal drugs but maintained that killing drug suspects would not solve the drug menace. 'Join me in hell' Duterte called on those who support his anti-drug war to join him in hell.

“Kayong mg Katoliko, kung naniniwala kayo sa mga pari pati obispo doon kayo. Kung gusto nyo mapunta ng langit, doon kayo. Ngayon, kung gusto nang matapos ang droga pero magpunta ako sa impyerno, sumabay kayo sa akin (You Catholics, if you believe in priests and bishops, go with them. If you want to go to heaven, go there. Now, if you want to end illegal drugs but I will go to hell, come with me),” he said in a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro Sunday evening.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

FULL TEXT: CBCP’s pastoral statement vs illegal drugs, killings (philstar.com) | Updated February 5, 2017 - 6:40pm 34 108 googleplus0 0


In this Sept. 5, 2016 photo, the body of alleged drug user Marcelo Salvador lies on the pavement after being shot by unidentified men in Las Pinas, south of Manila, Philippines. Drug dealers and drug addicts, were being shot by police or slain by unidentified gunmen in mysterious, gangland-style murders that were taking place at night. Salvador became a victim, the casualty of a vicious war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives as part of a campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday expressed opposition to the drug-related killings in the country.

In a pastoral statement dated Jan. 30, 2017, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said the bishops are deeply concerned about the rising number of drug-related killings. He called on Filipinos and the faithful to follow the basic teachings of the church.

Villegas also said the CBCP will always speak against evil referring to drug killings and renew its efforts to strengthen families and uplift the poor.


CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Read the full pastoral statement of the CBCP on drug-related killings below. Beloved People of God

"We, your bishops, are deeply concerned due to many deaths and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs. This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers. We are concerned not only for those who have been killed. The situation of the families of those killed is also cause for concern. Their lives have only become worse. An Additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor. Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account. An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong. It is considered as normal, and, even worse, something that (according to them) needs to be done.

We are one with many of our countrymen who want change. But change must be guided by truth and justice.

We stand for some basic teachings. These teachings are rooted in our being human, our being Filipino, and our being Christian.

1. The life of every person comes from God. It is he who gives it, and it is he alone who can take it back. Not even the government has a right to kill life because it is only God’s steward and not the owner of life.

2. The opportunity to change is never lost in every person. This is because God is merciful, as our Holy Father Pope Francis repeatedly teaches. We just finished celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy. These events deepened our awareness that the Lord Jesus Christ offered his own life for sinners, to redeem them and give them a new future.

3. To destroy one’s own life and the life of another, is a grave sin and does evil to society. The use of drugs is a sign that a person no longer values his own life, and endangers the lives of others. We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

4. Every person has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Society has ways and processes to catch, prove guilty and punish perpetrators of crimes. This process must be followed, especially by agents of the law.

5. Any action that harms another (seriously) is a grave sin. To push drugs is a grave sin as is killing (except in self-defense). We cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong. A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong.

6. The deep root of the drug problem and criminality is the poverty of the majority, the destruction of the family and corruption in society. The step we have to take is to overcome poverty, especially through the giving of permanent work and sufficient wages to workers. Let us strengthen and carry forward the unity and love of the family members. Let us not allow any law that destroys the unity of families. We must also give priority to reforming rogue policemen and corrupt judges. The excessively slow adjudication of court cases is one big reason for the spread of criminality. Often it is the poor who suffer from this system. We also call upon elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests.

7. To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it. If we neglect the drug addicts and pushers we have become part of the drug problem. If we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths.

We in the Church will continue to speak against evil even as we acknowledge and repent of our own shortcomings. We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other. We will help drug addicts so that they may be healed and start a new life. We will stand in solidarity and care for those left behind by those who have been killed and for the victims of drug addicts. Let us renew our efforts to strengthen families.

Those of us who are leaders in the Church should strive to push forward or continue programs that will uplift the poor, like livelihood, education and health programs. Above all we will live up to — we all will live up to — becoming a Church of the Poor.

Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent. Let us put into practice not only our native inner strength but the strength that comes from our Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus promised us: “You will have affliction in this world, but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:35,37) Yes, indeed, “For the Spirit that is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4)

As we commemorate the 100th year of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, let us respond to her call for prayer and repentance for the peace of our communities and of our country shrouded in the darkness of vice and death.

Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, Pray for us.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Abp. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

President, CBCP

January 30, 2017"


PHILSTAR

After PNP, Duterte bans NBI from drug war (Associated Press) | Updated February 2, 2017 - 10:33pm 5 28 googleplus0 0


In this June 8, 2016 photo, residents watch while police car passes by as they enforce a night to dawn curfew for minors in Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday prohibited another key law enforcement agency from carrying out his deadly anti-drug crackdown after banning the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the campaign because of corruption, and suggested he will use the military instead.

Duterte said his decision to exclude the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from the crackdown left him with fewer enforcers and increased the pressure for him to tap the military, which has been busy battling Muslim extremist groups on three battlefronts in Mindanao.

"We can't use the police because it is corrupt. I cannot trust now the NBI because it is corrupt," Duterte said in a speech in his southern hometown, Davao City. "I have limited warm bodies, I still have so many wars to fight."

READ MORE...

Human rights groups expressed alarm at the president's statement, fearing that the deployment of counterinsurgency forces may worsen rights violations in a campaign that has already left thousands of drug suspects dead, including many in suspected extrajudicial killings.

Duterte has denied authorizing enforcers to kill unlawfully.

The president cited instances in which suspected drug lords managed to get access to cellphones while in NBI detention by paying off agents, leading him to lose trust in the investigation agency, part of the Department of Justice.

The 170,000-strong national police were barred from carrying out raids and making drug-related arrests after a group of officers used the crackdown as a cover to kidnap and kill a South Korean businessman for money in a still-unraveling scandal.

That left the much-smaller Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to wage the crackdown, which began after Duterte took office in June.

Duterte again lashed out at critics of his campaign, including the dominant Roman Catholic Church and the United States, which under then President Barack Obama expressed alarm over the widespread killings. Duterte has repeatedly threatened to roll back Philippine engagement with the US military, and on Thursday said he was considering an adversarial diplomatic gesture.

"No ambassador will go there," he said. "I don't feel like sending one."

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Vigilante killings disappear after halt in police drug efforts (philstar.com) | Updated January 31, 2017 - 7:51pm 10 2265 googleplus0 


Choi Kyung-jin, left, the widow of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, who was kidnapped and later killed by his abductors, watches Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa, right, showing her househelp Marissa Morquicho documents at the start of the Senate probe in the killing Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 in Pasay City, Philippines. The killing of Jee prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to apologize to the South Korean government. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson noted a "commendable coincidence" that there was an absence of vigilante killings overnight after the Philippine National Police stopped its anti-drug operations on Monday.

"That says a lot dahil right after the instructions, right after the announcements made by the chief PNP Gen. (Ronald) dela Rosa... nag-zero killings overnight," Lacson told reporters, as seen in a video released by his staff.

Lacson said the Dela Rosa's order was supposed to only apply to police officers involved in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, but even killings done by masked assailants have disappeared in Manila.

"Bakit parang pati mga vigilantes sumunod, na wala silang napatay? Walang riding-in-tandem, walang pinasok sa mga shanties. (Why does it seem like even the vigilantes followed the order? There weren't no killers on motorcycles, and no one was killed in shanties.)," Lacson noted.

After the interview, the senator posted on Twitter: "After the (PNP chief) ordered a halt to all anti-drugs operations by the police, no vigilante killing occurred overnight. Commendable coincidence."

More than 7,600 people, who were mostly poor, have been killed in police operations and vigilante killings since July last year when Duterte assumed the presidency. Authorities would try to wash their hands of liability from "killings under investigation" while it attributing deaths of suspects in anti-drug efforts to self-defense measures of raiding teams.

Reports on the administration's drug war, however, have long suspected a connection between orchestrated killings and the police through what seems to be death squads roaming the streets.

SHIFT TO PNP CLEANSING

On Monday, Dela Rosa ordered a shift in police efforts from anti-narcotics to internal cleansing following the death of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo. The victim allegedly died in the hands of police officers who abducted him and demanded ransom from his family.

"No more drug operations now," Dela Rosa told police officers at the main police camp, without indicating how long the ban would last.

The scale of the anti-drug campaign has been unprecedented, with officials reporting that more than 7 million houses of drug suspects have been visited so far, prompting more than 1.1 million mostly drug users to surrender and agree to undergo rehabilitation programs.

Human rights watchdogs have suspected extrajudicial killings of drug suspects may have been covertly carried out by police or at their behest.

Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, said the temporary stoppage in police anti-drug operations to allow an internal police purge "is nothing less than an empty public relations gesture unless he seeks meaningful accountability for the more than 7,000 Filipinos killed" in the crackdown.

While Dela Rosa has suspended police operations, Duterte has declared his crackdown would continue up the last day of his six-year term.

"We have to focus our effort toward internal cleansing and by the time we have cleansed the national police, the president will determine that and he will instruct us to go back to our war on drugs," said Dela Rosa, warning wrongdoers they face dire punishments.

"You policemen involved in syndicates, let's see what happens now, fight back so you'll end up dead," Dela Rosa said. "You will be killed by this counter-intelligence task force." — Camille Diola with reports from the Associated Press


PHILSTAR

Duterte officials hold drug suspects, criminals not part of humanity By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated February 2, 2017 - 11:47am 2 9 googleplus0 0


Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre testifies at the Senate hearing on Tuesday (January 31) at the Senate Building in Pasay City. PNA/Avito C. Dalan

Philippine Constitution, UN rights declaration say suspects and criminals actually also human

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Vitaliano II on Wednesday dismissed concerns raised by an international human rights watchdog that drug-related killings in the country may constitute crimes against humanity under international law.

Amnesty International has raised the alarm over what it sees as the deliberate, widespread and systematic killings of alleged drug offenders which appear to be planned and organized by authorities.

The Justice secretary, however, said that he does not consider criminals part of humanity.

"The criminals, the drug lords, drug pushers, they are not humanity. They are not humanity," Aguirre said despite a pledge posted on the Department of Justice website to "provide every person equal access to justice, to faithfully safeguard constitutional rights and to ensure that no one is deprived of due process of law."

READ MORE...

Aguirre's statement also flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which the Philippines is a signatory and which holds that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

The same declaration holds that all people are entitled to rights and freedoms "without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status", including being suspected of involvement in a crime.

Aguirre's statement, one that has also been expressed by other government officials, also contradicts the 1987 Constitution that he swore to uphold and that declares that the state "values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights."

The same constitution, ratified 30 years ago on Thursday, also holds that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws."

Aguirre not alone

Aguirre is not the only member of the Duterte administration who has expressed disdain for the rights of suspects, whom they view as less than human. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said that he personally has no problem with vigilante killings and that he would prefer a shoot-to-kill order on criminals.

In July 2016, Solicitor General Jose Calida, the country's top lawyer, said in reaction to the deaths of people suspected of being involved in drugs that: "To me, that is not enough."

President Rodrigo Duterte has also justified the killings of drug suspects in the country saying they are not human.

"Crime against humanity?

In the first place, I’d like to be frank with you: Are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?" Duterte told soldiers while visiting an army camp in August last year.

"Human rights? Use it properly in the right context if you have the brains," the president said.

'Killings not state-sanctioned'

The international watchdog called on Duterte to order an immediate halt to all extrajudicial executions in the country.

The Palace has said that there are no extrajudicial killings in the country but stressed Wednesday that "the extrajudicial deaths are not state-sanctioned."

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella also said that a Senate investigation determined "there is no state-sponsored policy of extrajudicial deaths and that there is relentless effort on the part of the PNP (Philippine National Police) to carry out the campaign properly and within legal processes."

AI Crisis Response

Director Tirana Hassan said that the Philippine should move away from lawlessness and lethal violence. She also asked the government to reorient its drugs policies based on the protection of health and human rights.

"We are also calling on the Philippines Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute anyone involved in these killings, regardless of their rank or status in the police or government," Hassan said.

Hassan warned that the international community may turn to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to carry out a preliminary investigation into the killings, including the involvement of state authorities. ​— with Jonathan de Santos

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RELATED FROM FACEBOOK COMMENT

NeverAgain shared Ruben Carranza's post. August 7, 2016 ·



"Criminals are not humanity" and my response to Philippine Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre (or really a post for my journalist friends):

I have to point out that there is no law (nor logic) that requires extrajudicial killings to be "politically-motivated" so that they can be criminalized, investigated or punished. A murder is an extrajudicial killing. When it is done on a wide or systematic scale, it legally is the "crime against humanity (CAH) of murder."

The Rome Treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) codified it as a CAH. There is no element of 'political motivation' in the ICC treaty. Neither is there a requirement that the EJKs be done during an armed conflict. Both State agents and non-State agents can be criminally liable for CAH including EJKs. Presidents are not immune for CAH, whether ex- or incumbent.

Let's make it clear since I know your reporting and that of other journalists rely on the right legal assumptions:

(1) Presidents are NOT immune from being investigated and charged for CAH at the ICC. The presidents of Sudan & Kenya -- both incumbents - were charged. The ex-president of Côte d'Ivoire is accused.

(2) When over 500 civilians have been killed by both police and vigilantes with the clear goal of targeting them in a 'war against drugs' with their impunity explicitly guaranteed by the president then the elements of EJKs as a "crime against humanity of murder" are already there -- (a) widespread or systematic killings (b) civilians are targeted (3) the perpetrators know or intended their conduct to be part of a widespread or systematic attack. See the photo below summarizing the ICC definition.

(3) The ICC treaty gives governments the opportunity to undertake a serious and credible investigation of these EJKs. The Justice Secretary's cavalier dismissal of the nature of these crimes ("criminals are not humanity") isn't helpful. (And is nonsensical). It can be argued as indicative that he -- and the President he represents -- are unwilling to investigate these EJKs. That unwillingness can become the basis for the ICC prosecutor to examine these cases. That is what happened in Kenya, involving hundreds of killings that took place within a period of 3 months from 2007-2008. Unlike the Kenyan President, Duterte will not be able to fall back on any regional organization to challenge the ICC's exercise of its jurisdiction.

(4) My friend and law school classmate Harry Roque was quoted in Star Torres' Inquirer story saying that it will have to take at least a year of these
killings for them to fall within the notion of CAH. I don't agree and that's not what the law says. It is never 'too early' to investigate these cases as CAH; it will always be too late for those who are already dead.


PHILSTAR

Lopez, Pińol hurdle CA; Aguirre, whose appointment is opposed by Trillanes, is deferred By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2017 - 12:00am 2 240 googleplus0 0


Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II listens as the Commission on Appointments defers his confirmation following objection by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday. GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Appointments (CA) has deferred until Feb. 15 its decision on the confirmation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, whose appointment is being opposed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Two other Cabinet members, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pińol, were able to hurdle their respective confirmation hearings yesterday.

Trillanes, no longer a member of the CA, is opposing the confirmation of Aguirre on three grounds, starting with the latter’s supposed “lack of required demeanor befitting the position of the secretary of justice.”

He said Aguirre has demonstrated that he is vindictive, vengeful and completely lacks equanimity for him to be entrusted with the power and authority of justice chief.

READ MORE...

When Aguirre called him “gagong senador,” Trillanes said the DOJ chief showed his lack of respect for him as an elected official and for the Senate as an institution.

“Thus, I am reiterating my call for all of our colleagues at the Senate and at the House of Representatives who are sitting in the Commission on Appointments to uphold and defend the respect and/or dignity due to members of the legislature as elected representatives of the people by refusing and/or denying the confirmation of the appointment of Mr. Aguirre,” Trillanes said in a letter addressed to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, who also serves as overall chairman of the CA.

Trillanes was not around to face Aguirre as he was on official business abroad, but his opposition was manifested by both Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Manila City Rep. Sandy Ocampo.

Attached to the opposition filed by Trillanes was a video clip of a television interview of Aguirre where he angrily reacted to the questions raised by Trillanes and Sen. Leila de Lima during the first Senate hearing on the corruption issue at the Bureau of Immigration.

In the interview, Aguirre was quoted as saying “walang mga isip yang mga dilawan na yan. Eh, basta yang mga gagong senador na yan eh, para lamang idiin ako (Those yellow guys don’t use their head, those stupid senators just want to pin me down).”

Trillanes also cited a news report containing Aguirre’s response to his claim that the justice chief was aware of the illegal operations of Jack Lam at the Clark Special Economic Zone based on the fact that he was once vice president and chief legal counsel of the Clark Development Corp.

“Tell him he’s a son of a b***h. He has done nothing but make up stories,” Aguirre was quoted in the article as saying.

Attack on integrity

Aguirre told the CA that it was the first time he had such an outburst because he saw the questioning done during the Senate hearing as an attack on his integrity.

As for cursing Trillanes, Aguirre stood by his words and even quoted the Supreme Court in his defense, saying there is a high court decision that “son of a b***h” is the English equivalent of “p***g ina” and it is not libelous and “just OK for Filipinos to use it.”

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the CA’s committee on justice and Judicial and Bar Council, advised Aguirre to learn to ignore the attacks against him and to consider hiring a spokesman instead of facing the media himself all the time.

Aguirre was actually on his way to being confirmed yesterday after Lacson moved to endorse him for confirmation in plenary, which was seconded by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.

However, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto raised an objection and moved to defer the confirmation in order to allow Trillanes to personally air his opposition once he becomes available.

Recto emphasized a senator and member of the minority bloc have raised their opposition to the confirmation and as such there was no reason for the body to railroad the process of confirming Aguirre, who was facing the CA for the first time.

Acting on Recto’s manifestation, the CA agreed to defer deciding on Aguirre’s confirmation until Feb. 15. – With Edu Punay

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RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

WATCH: Aguirre answers, point-by-point, Trillanes' questions ABS-CBN News Posted at Jan 31 2017 02:45 PM

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Tuesday took the opportunity to answer, point-by-point, the questions raised by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during last week's Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing into the bribery/extortion case involving the camp of gambling tycoon Jack Lam.

 
http://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/01/31/17/watch-aguirre-answers-point-by-point-trillanes-questions
Watch also in iWantv or TFC.tv

COURTESY OF INTERAKSYON.COM

Aguirre answers Trillanes point-by-point on P50-M BI bribery mess By: Ernie Reyes, InterAksyon.com January 31, 2017 1:11 PM
InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Justice Secretary Vitallano refuted point-by-point on Tuesday allegations raised by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV against him of direct participation in the P50-million bribery scandal that has rocked the Bureau of Immigration.

Appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, Aguirre asked permission to respond to questions raised by Trillanes during the January 23 hearing on the alleged bribe attempt by gambling operator Jack Lam, saying “any imputation against my reputation should not be allowed to flourish any moment longer. It should not be allowed to fester into a gangrenous wound any moment longer.”

“Verily, a lie told a thousand times will become truth and I simply cannot allow it your honors,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said he met with the “suspects” at the Shangri-La Hotel because he was an awarding ceremony there and not for any sinister motives. “It was only to save time and for convenience,” he told Trillanes, who was at Tuesday’s hearing.

To Trillanes’ question why he invited former Immigration associate commissioner Al Argosino, “his fraternity brother,” to meet with Lam instead of BI chief, Jaime Morente, Aguirre said: “To clear out things, I did not invite Commissioner Argosino for that meeting. First of all the meeting was not set by me but by Jack Lam through (retired police general Wally) Sombero.”

It was Argosino, he said, who asked to join the meeting and he agreed.

Aguirre denied telling Argosino, “ikaw na bahala (it’s up to you),” after the former associate commissioner left the meeting with Lam.

“The phrase ‘kaw na bahala’ was understood and appreciated by Senator Trillanes with malice. In fact, I could not remember uttering to Argosino those words,” Aguirre said.

He added it was only him and Sombero who talked during the meeting, “and even if it’s true, perhaps I uttered it casually as I was in a hurry.”

Aguirre also denied Trillanes’ allegation that Argosino asked for P100 million from Sombero without his approval. “I’m completely ignorant of this amount of P100 million. He could ask associate commissioner Argosino or general Sombero about this,” he said.

The P100 million he said he mentioned was just a “wild guess.”

“As from whom I got the information about the P50-100 million figure, I got the same from no one. It was only my own estimate of the minimum bribe that would be given to me had I agreed to be bribed or corrupted,” Aguirre said.

Neither, said Aguirre, did he ask Argosino to coordinate with former BI intelligence chief Charles Calima, as claimed by Trillanes.

“It was general Sombero who asked not to coordinate with associate commissioner Argosino,” Aguirre said.

Neither, he added, did he know about Sombero’s giving money to the two associate commissioners.

“Senator Trillanes should have asked general Sombero the reasons why the latter gave money to the two BI associate commissioners,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre also said it is not true, as alleged by Trillanes, that he was connected with the Clark Development Corporation from 2013 to June 30, 2016.

He said he was vice president and general counsel of CDC, on the request of then CDC president and now Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, for only about five months to help streamline its legal department.

“For the record, I was only with CDC from the third week of March up to August 31, 2013. This is contrary to what Senator Trillanes said in the papers,” Aguirre said.

He pointed out that it is common knowledge that he campaigned for President Rodrigo Duterte and served as his chief legal counsel in the disqualification cases filed against him before the Commission on Elections and during the canvass of votes of the 2016 elections.

“Thus, I cannot have done all these things if I was still in CDC,” Aguirre said.


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