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President Duterte

Quiboloy accepts Vice’s challenge, will not just stop ‘Ang Probinsyano’ but operation of ABS-CBN as well

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz
Quiboloy accept’s Vice’s challenge, will not just stop ‘Ang Probinsyano’ but operation of ABS-CBN as well

Kapamilya Vice Ganda’s challenge to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy to put a halt to the airing of ABS-CBN’s primetime hit “Ang Probinsyano”— just like how the leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name claimed to have ordered the earthquakes in Davao to stop—has been accepted.

And based on the answer of Quiboloy, it appears that he won’t be needing heaven’s help, but that of Malacanang.

“The challenge is accepted,” Quiboloy said, referring to what Vice said in an episode of “It’s Showtime” last November 5 that he should also stop the airing of “Ang Probinsyano” starring Coco Martin, as well as the traffic in Edsa. Vice, in that episode, said: “Ipahinto mo na ang ‘Probinsyano’. Napahinto mo pala ang lindol eh. Napakayabang niyo pala, eh..Sabi niya raw, stop. Sige nga! Punta ka ng gitna ng EDSA, stop mo ‘yung traffic du’n!”

Quiboloy, in accepting Vice’s challenge, said: “Kailan mo ba gustong mapa-stop ang ‘Ang Probinsyano’? Isang buwan? Dalawang buwan? Tatlong buwan? Apat na buwan? Ikaw, pili ka.”

Then he continued with a political overtone, dragging the feud between President Duterte and the ABS-CBN management: “Baka sa apat na buwan, hindi lang yung ‘Probinsyano’ ang mai-stop, baka pati yung network mo stop na ‘yan.”

Quiboloy is a known big supporter and ally of Duterte, with his religious group based in Davao City. Duterte has threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which is set to expire in March 2020. Without the franchise, ABS-CBN’s operation will cease. The President and his allies in Congress keep on reminding ABS-CBN of their disgust over the decision of the network not to air Duterte’s commercials during the 2016 elections campaign period even if they were paid already.

True enough, the House of Representatives has not acted on the 25-year renewal of the network’s franchise. 

As to the Edsa traffic, Quiboloy told Vice: “Sinabi mo na pahintuin ko ang traffic sa EDSA, paano ko pahihintuin, nahinto na!…Naging parking lot na nga ang EDSA, e, nakahinto na.Hindi siguro yun ang right word na sinabi mo. Pabilisin.”

Duterte criticizes major economic powers for protectionist policies that hurt Asean

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Duterte criticizes major economic powers for protectionist policies that hurt Asean
Image Credit: https://pcoo.gov.ph/

While not directly naming them, President Duterte criticized the “major economic powers” for their protectionist policies and trade skirmishes that are threatening the growth of the Asean region.

In his address at the 35th Asean Summit Plenary in Thailand, Duterte said the rise of protectionism and ongoing trade wars undermine the progress of the Asean economies. “The far-reaching consequences may adversely impact on food security in the developing world.”

With this, the President called on the Asean to strengthen and deepen their economic integration to counter protectionism and trade-related tensions happening in other parts of the world.

Currently embroiled in trade wars are China and the US, as well as Japan and South Korea, among others.

“We need an open and rules-based trading system to sustain growth. Thus, we should ensure the continued relevance and effectiveness of the World Trade Organization. And, Asean must accelerate deeper economic integration through concrete programs and projects, such as RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership],” Duterte said.

The RCEP is an emerging economic bloc composed of the 10 Asean member-countries plus their free-trade partners China, Japan, India, South Korean, Australia and New Zealand. Collectively, they account for about 40 percent of world GDP and about half of the world’s population.

Duterte noted that the Asean declarations and joint statements that aim to protect the region’s population, especially the most vulnerable, are steps toward sustainable and inclusive development.

He also called for more measures that allow the greater direct benefit to certain sectors of the population, including the expansion of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and the empowerment of women, migrant workers and persons with disabilities.

Key components of these MRAs are the harmonization of standards on nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Duterte also called on Asean to ensure environmental sustainability and protect biodiversity in the region’s pursuit for development. 

“Asean should not sacrifice the environment and the region’s rich biodiversity, particularly in the maritime domain, in its quest for progress. We must work together to address the problem of marine debris. And we must build resilient and stronger communities to adapt to the effects of climate change,” he stressed.

Duterte added that the regional grouping should support economic sectors of high productivity and follow sustainable business practices.

DOJ to formalize Duterte’s order to NBI to take over probe of Mayor Navarro’s murder

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DOJ to formalize Duterte’s order to NBI to take over probe of Mayor Navarro’s murder
Image Credit: Romeo Marantal / Twitter

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will issue a directive to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formalizing the order of President Duterte for the bureau to take over the probe of the murder of Clarin, Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told reporters that the verbal directive of Duterte to the NBI should suffice, as he is the head of the government’s Executive branch. 

“Given the circumstances surrounding the killing of Clarin Mayor Navarro, the President’s directive for the NBI to take over the investigation of the incident should quell any doubts regarding this government’s commitment to solve the case and bring to account those responsible,” Perete said.

The DOJ, he added, will still issue a formal order to the NBI “purely for record-keeping purposes.”

On Monday (October 28), Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to let the NBI conduct the investigation, as he believes the police may have had something to do with the slaying of Navarro.

“PNP, anong ginawa ng PNP? Baka sila ang pumatay, sila ‘yung malapit,” Duterte told reporters, referring to the circumstances surrounding the ambush slaying of Navarro in Cebu City last October 25.  Navarro was then inside a police vehicle in the middle of a police convoy when he was shot to death by several armed men in a “lightning attack”.

He added: “Mas gusto ko ang NBI na lang para walang…kasi nung nangyari ‘yan, may kasamang pulis eh. To make it really fair. I’d like the police to terminate their investigation and hand it to the NBI, whatever documents and or proof or evidence that they have in their hands.” 

Police investigators earlier said they would look into politics, business and Navarro’s reported link to the drug trade as possible motive behind his murder. Navarro had received several death threats before the incident.

A day before his ambush slaying, Navarro was arrested for mauling a massage therapist.

The many ‘surprises’ unraveled by Marjorie Barretto

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz
The many ‘surprises’ unraveled by Marjorie Barretto
Image Caption: ABS-CBN / Youtube

Marjorie Barretto’s interview with Karen Davila of ABS-CBN News revealed to the public many surprises, heightening the public’s interest in the rift among the Barretto children, which culminated with a fight in front of President Duterte at the wake of the family’s patriarch Miguel.

Here are some of Marjorie’s revelations:

  • She had been at the receiving end of character assassinations for five years already
  • Controversial businessman Atong Ang was a boyfriend of her niece Nicole; Atong and Nicole had a relationship for five years, even before Nicole turned 18
  • Atong Ang is now the boyfriend of her sister Gretchen, who used to be the wife of businessman Tony Boy Cojuangco
  • Atong Ang triggered the tension at the wake of Miguel when he tried many times to make Nicole and her family leave before his, Gretchen’s and President Duterte’s arrival at the wake
  • She refused the gesture of Duterte to reconcile her and Gretchen because she saw the insincerity in Gretchen’s face
  • Claudine disrespected her when she refused to patch up with Gretchen in front of Duterte
  • Atong Ang tried to reach for her that may have started the scuffle  
  • After the Presidential Security Group separated them to secure the President, Gretchen attacked Nicole
  • It was Gretchen who had a nervous breakdown, and not her, as claimed by Gretchen in an earlier statement
  • Miguel was hospitalized for 16 days and Gretchen did not even bother to visit
  • Their father died of acute respiratory failure, not heart attack, as claimed by Gretchen 
  • For 25 years, Gretchen did not invite their parents to any of her properties even once
  • She became a mistress of Caloocan Mayor Recom Echiverri, who is the father of her younger daughter
  • Claudine sought financial help from Echiverri, but it was a setup for a molestation claim against the mayor
  • Her daughters, including young actress Julia, are “not for sale”, or not being offered to rich businessmen as rumored
  • She is open to reconciliation with Gretchen and Claudine, but not with the “fanfare”

ABS-CBN devoted close to 20 minutes of airtime for the interview with Marjorie over its primetime news TV Patrol on Tuesday night (October 22).

Barrettos quarrel, fight in front of Duterte at wake of family patriarch Miguel

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz
Barrettos quarrel, fight in front of Duterte at wake of family patriarch Miguel
Image Credit: IG

Actress Gretchen Barretto confirmed that her sister Marjorie turned down the request of President Duterte to forget about their dispute for at least during the wake of the Barretto patriarch Miguel, which heated things up at the reunion of the quarreling sisters and eventually led to a scuffle on Wednesday.

Then, in an Instagram post on Friday, Claudine Barretto said: ”Are you proud of who you have become?””

View this post on Instagram

I hope not.

A post shared by Claudine Barretto (@claubarretto) on

“I hope not.”

The cryptic message did not say who Claudine was referring to. However, it was after she was hospitalized on Thursday night due to an alleged physical confrontation with Marjorie, according to ABS-CBN News. It was a sequel to the scuffle between Gretchen and a niece that occurred in front of Duterte on Wednesday.

Gretchen, in a statement released to ABS-CBN News, narrated that “it was all so nice until Marjorie had a nervous breakdown.”

Duterte earlier asked Marjorie to shake Gretchen’s hand “for the sake of respect of my father.” “But Marjorie was not happy that I was there to reunite with family,” Gretchen said.

Sources told ABS-CBN News that while Gretchen was talking with some friends, a girl, who was later identified as a niece of Gretchen, attacked her.

Cooler heads tried to prevent a fight between the relatives. However, Gretchen managed to grab her niece by the hair, resulting in a scuffle. The two were separated by members of the Presidential Security Group.

According to the ABS-CBN News source, the niece suffered a cut on her face. 

Duterte, although aware of the feud between the sisters, was shocked, the source added.

Sisters Gretchen, Marjorie and Claudine had a falling out, although Claudine and Gretchen already patched things up recently. Claudine even praised her sister for appearing at the wake in an Instagram post.

Gretchen and Marjorie, on the other hand, remained at odds with each other, triggered by a controversy involving Marjorie’s daughter Julia.

Marjorie, during the wake, even branded Gretchen as a hypocrite for pretending to be nice just because the President was there. Gretchen is a known supporter of the Chief Executive. 

When Duterte asked the two to shake hands, Gretchen tried to oblige, but her gesture was turned down by Marjorie, who was described as fuming. 

An ABS-CBN source narrated: ”Marjorie was obviously mainit (fuming), you can see it in her body language. Si Gretchen, kalmado lang (she was calm).” But that was before things turned from bad to worse.

EDITORIAL: Garage as a prerequisite to car ownership: Individual rights vs public order

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Garage as a prerequisite to car ownership: Individual rights vs public order
Image Credit: Wikipedia / Tabloid PH

Two bills seeking to regulate the sale of motor vehicles—by requiring buyers to show unassailable proofs of ready garage or parking space—are now undergoing committee deliberations at the Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 368 authored by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and SB 679 authored by Sen. Bong Revilla are timely, with the road-clearing operations of the local government units and concerned state agencies already underway, as ordered by President Duterte.

Already, streets in the metropolis have been rid of mobile and ambulant obstructions, including parked vehicles, which eased the flow of vehicles and people. 

However, as what Filipinos have become accustomed to, concerns were raised over the sustainability of this campaign—with the government’s resolve feared to eventually give in to ningas kugon (fiery at start only die down easily) again. And don’t forget, hard-headed Filipinos would always try to sneak in and test implementation if it would really be round-the-clock.

This is why we believe that in a way, the bills of Revilla and Gatchalian will greatly contribute to institutionalizing the campaign of keeping the streets free of obstructions.

Gatchalian’s SB 368, which covers Metro Manila only, adds as a requirement to vehicle registration a duly notarized affidavit attesting to the availability of a permanent or leased parking space or facility specifically intended for the vehicle to be purchased.

Revilla’s SB 679 expanded the coverage to other traffic-prone areas, such Angeles, Bacolod, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, Naga and Olongapo.

But during the Senate hearing last October 8, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III already raised possible constitutionality issues that these bills might encounter, particularly the right to ownership and discrimination. “I would like to invite the lawyers’ association to look into the constitutional angle of this, if this is discriminatory or not,” he said. “From the very start, we are disqualifying a certain segment of society from owning motor vehicles.” 

So now, it boils down to this: individual rights versus public order and safety. 

Pimentel is probably worried that even if the bills are passed into law, their implementation would only be stopped once some groups have questioned its constitutionality before the Supreme Court, thus, putting the time and efforts of the lawmakers, as well as public funds, to waste.

Supreme Courts in different countries have had varied decisions when justices were faced with the task of weighing public order and safety versus individual rights.

In the United States, for example, the court has ruled in favor of protecting individual’s right to own guns against laws that sought to curtail it.

What happens now? 

We share the concern of Sen. Pimentel—we don’t want a law with good intentions to just go down the drain because of technicality or constitutionality issues. The lawmakers should do their homework. Consult all stakeholders, especially legal luminaries.

It’s easy to always side with the common good, or the public’s sake. But individuals have their rights too. 

Offhand, we can see some balancing acts happening; as the cliches goes: win-win solutions.

This is the beauty—or undoing—of a democratic society. 

Govt launches free wifi access program in 23 sites throughout the country

in Tabloid PH News
Govt launches free wifi access program in 23 sites throughout the country

The Duterte administration has taken the initial steps toward its promise of providing free wifi access throughout the country by 2022 with the rollout of 23 free public wifi stations on Tuesday (October 8).

Secretary Gregorio Honasan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said all the regions were represented in the simultaneous launch of the free public wifi access, which has speeds of up to 30 mbps.

These areas are: Dagupan City (Region 1); Tuguegarao City (Region 2); Mabalacat City (Region 3); Morong, Rizal (Region 4A); Victoria, Oriental Mindoro (Region 4B); Sorsogon and Camarines Sur (Region 5); Iloilo and Negros Occidental (Region 6); 

Cebu City (Region 7); Eastern Samar (Region 8); Zamboanga City (Region 9); Cagayan de Oro (Region 10); Davao City (Region 11); South Cotabato (Region 12); Agusan del Norte (Region 13); Cotabato City (BARMM); and Baguio City (CAR).

“The issue here is connectivity. Connectivity means getting access to data real-time. That is the beauty of technology today, because it’s almost free; it’s a global phenomenon,” Honasan said.

The target for the year, he added, is to put up 8,073 sites all over the country. When Duterte steps down from his post in 2022, the DICT should have already established free wifi access sites in 250,000 areas.

This is consistent with the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, or Republic Act 10929, which was signed by Duterte in 2017.

For next year, Honasan sought a budget of P36.3 billion, 88 percent higher than its allocation for the year. This, the former military official and senator, said will start turning into reality its plan of transforming the Philippines into a digital nation.

Aside from the government’s free wifi service, the telecommunication firms and several malls are also giving free wifi access in select areas.

“We’re applying the principle of convergence. All institutions, all agencies, and the principle of public-private partnership,” he said. “You connect government to other governments — domestic and global, you connect government to business, connect government to our citizens, and connect government to our armed men who are protecting this country.”

Duterte deferring action vs ‘ninja cops’ until end of Senate, DILG investigations

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Duterte deferring action vs ‘ninja cops’ until end of Senate, DILG investigations
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with the members of his delegation at a hotel in Moscow, Russian Federation on October 2, 2019. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Duterte is deferring any action against police officers—including the current chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP)—who were implicated in the alleged recycling of seized illegal drugs until the Senate has completed its probe on the so-called “ninja cops”.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement that the President is closely monitoring the developments in the Senate hearings even while he is fulfilling his commitments in his second state visit to Russia.

“As our Chief Executive has mentioned in many occasions, there will be hell to pay for those who become worse than criminals. The President, however, will let Congress do and finish its investigation in aid of legislation before taking any formal action on the issue of these ninja cops,” Panelo said.

He added: “The President’s unyielding posture against illegal drugs and those who destroy the country, regardless of whether they belong to the government, by spreading these substances in our communities, will not waver.”

Aside from the Senate probe, Duterte has tasked Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo to conduct a parallel internal probe on the “ninja cops” controversy, which dragged the name of PNP Chief, General Oscar Albayalde. 

“He will wait for the recommendation of the DILG Secretary when he is finished with his internal investigation,” Panel said.

In one of the hearings of the Senate, Albayalde’s name was mentioned by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as one of the personalities linked to the recycling of illegal drugs that were seized during police operations. Albayalde denied Magalong’s allegations.

Panelo said at this time, Albayalde still has the backing of Duterte. “Until such time that he (Duterte) says that he doesn’t have, the presumption is the General has his trust and confidence.”

Duterte is currently on a five-day official visit to Russia.

In a forum in Valdai, Russia, Duterte said: ”When I took over, I found out about nine generals were involved in the trafficking of drugs. And right now, even as I fly here and go back, there are about again two generals who are still playing with drugs. And I said, ‘Well, I told you do not destroy my country because it is being flooded with drugs.’” 

Economists say Duterte’s tax reform program will end poverty in PHL

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Economists say Duterte’s tax reform program will end poverty in PHL

Former secretaries of the Department of Finance (DOF) and top economists in the country have signed a joint manifesto urging the Congress to speed up the passage of President Duterte’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) Package 2, 3 and 4 to put the Philippines in a better position to eliminate extreme poverty in two decades.

Signing the joint statement, which was presented to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III; Senator Pia Cayetano, who chairs the Senate committee on ways and means; and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, were:

Former Prime Minister and ex-DOF Secretary Cesar Virata; former DOF Secretary and Senator Alberto Romulo, who also served as Executive Secretary, Foreign Affairs Secretary, and Budget Secretary; former DOF Secretary Margarito Teves; former DOF Secretary Roberto de Ocampo, who is also Chairman and CEO of the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB); former DOF Secretary Jose Camacho, who was also a former secretary of Energy and is currently Managing Director in the Asia Pacific Division of Credit Suisse; former DOF Undersecretary Romeo Bernardo, who is also vice chair of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF);

Cielito Habito, professor at the Department of Economics in Ateneo, who had served concurrently as the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary; Arsenio Balisacan, chairperson of the Philippine Competition Commission and former NEDA Director-General and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary; Fermin Adriano, former vice-chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) and board member of the Asian Development Bank Institute; and Filomeno Sta. Ana, coordinator of the Action for Economic Reforms (AER).

They said the Duterte administration’s CTRP and other key reform measures, once enacted into law, will help fulfill its goal of reducing poverty incidence from 21 percent in 2015 to just 14 percent by 2022. They will also catapult the Philippines to an “A-minus” sovereign credit rating in the next few years.

Package 2 of the CTRP is known as the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA); Package 2+ is the “sin” tax reform further increasing excise taxes on alcohol and e-cigarettes; Package 3 is the Real Property Valuation Reform; and Package 4 is the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA).

The joint manifesto also pushed the amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), and the Retail Trade Act (RTA).

Package 2, which was approved by the House of Representatives on final reading last September 13, will gradually reduce the corporate income tax (CIT) rate from 30 percent to 20 percent to make the country’s corporate tax regime more competitive in the ASEAN.

Package 2+ seeks to increase the excise taxes on alcohol products and further increase the excise tax on heated tobacco and vapor products, both seen to lead to better health and social outcomes while helping ensure the financial sustainability of the Universal Health Care program.

Package 3 seeks to promote the use of uniform real property valuation standards. This will help resolve right-of-way (ROW) acquisition issues that have stalled infrastructure projects for up to 10 years or more given valuation disputes.

“We support Package 4 of the CTRP as it makes the taxation of passive income and financial services and transactions simpler and more efficient by reducing the number of combinations of tax bases and rates from 80 to 40,” the manifesto said.

“All these reforms are necessary if the Philippines is to move forward to a future with no extreme poverty by 2040,” it added.

The signatories also lauded the economic feats that the government achieved in the first half of the Duterte presidency despite global financial headwinds.

“We commend the implementation of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program to support inclusive economic growth, the quick measures taken to address elevated inflation last year, and the close coordination with both houses of the Congress that led to the passage of landmark reforms, such as TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion), the additional increase in excise taxes on tobacco, the Rice Tariffication Law, the National ID Law, and the Ease of Doing Business Law, among others,” they said in their joint statement.

Surrenderers near 700 as De Lima refuses to answer Ombudsman query on GCTA IRR

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Surrenderers near 700 as De Lima refuses to answer Ombudsman query on GCTA IRR

As of 8 a.m. on Tuesday (September 17), at least 692 convicts that were granted early release purportedly for good behavior have surrendered to authorities, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

These convicts, according to Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete, are among the 1,914 life termers that were freed due to the “erroneous” application of the good conduct time allowance of Republic Act (RA) 10592.

They heeded the call of President Duterte to surrender on or before September 19 or risk becoming the subjects of manhunt operations with accompanying bounty.

Perete said these convicts will have to serve out the remainder of their sentence, especially under the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10592 that was signed by the Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano on Monday.

The new IRR clearly stated that escapees, habitual delinquents, recidivists and heinous crime convicts are excluded from the application of the GCTA benefits.

Around 22,000 prisoners have been granted early release since 2014 when RA 10592 was implemented.

However, based on the Senate inquiry into the GCTA application, some of these convicts did not deserve to be freed, as some benefited from what is now called “GCTA for sale”. This illegal scheme was uncovered in one of the Senate hearings, after a witness said Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officials demanded P50,000 from her in exchange for the early release of her husband.

Around 30 BuCor officials were already ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman due to alleged involvement in this scheme.

Analysts say the ambiguity of the law and its IRR allowed the liberal application of the GCTA. This prompted the revision of the IRR so rules can be clarified while Congress is working on a revised version of the law.

Senator Leila De Lima, the DOJ secretary when RA 10592’s original IRR was crafted, has been asked by the Ombudsman to comment why they did not clearly exclude heinous crime convicts in the GCTA application.

She answered:  “[I] would like to clarify that I am no longer the Secretary of Justice. I am now a Senator of the Republic. I cannot in my official capacity as a Senator reply to a query that exclusively pertains to official business of the Department of Justice whose present Secretary is Menardo Guevarra.” 

De Lima, added in her three-page letter to the Office of the Ombudsman: “Whatever query you may have regarding the IRR, therefore, may be properly and officially answered by the DOJ and the DILG, being the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of said IRR.”

“It is not clear in your letter whether you are requiring me to do so in my personal capacity or in my capacity as Senator. Either way, I find no relevance in either capacities or as former Secretary of Justice to be able to officially annotate on the language of the IRR beyond what it provides in its provisions.”

House justice committee to conduct own GCTA probe, eyes revision of RA 10592

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House justice committee to conduct own GCTA probe, eyes revision of RA 10592
Photo Release on the Committee on Justice meeting

The House Committee on Justice is likely to conduct its own hearing on the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592, with the revision of the law to “avoid absurdity and confusion” as the end in view.

Assistant Majority Leader Fidel Nograles, who is also the vice chair of the justice committee, said they will focus on reviewing Article 29 and Article 97 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by RA 10592, noting that these two need to be reconciled.

“In Article 29, which speaks of credit for preventive imprisonment, has certain exclusions which are not found in Article 97…The conflicting part, these exclusions are not found in Art. 97 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by the GCTA, because all that we can find in Art. 97 is that persons who are entitled to credits for preventive imprisonment and persons convicted by final judgement and detained in penal institutions,” Nograles said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday (September 13).

“You have to reconcile because you have to harmonize the two provisions , such as to give effect to all of the provisions of the law so there has to be specific exclusions, specifically in Art. 29, you need to adopt these exclusions on Art. 97 as well in order to avoid confusion.”

Article 29 excludes habitual delinquents, escapees, persons charged with heinous crimes and recidivists from the GCTA scheme.

Nograles also said they are looking at giving a clearer definition of what “heinous crimes” are.  Right now, heinous crimes, as defined by the death penalty law, are those that are ”grievous, odious, hateful offenses of such monstrosity as to spark public outrage”.

The Senate justice and blue ribbon committees are now conducting hearings on the GCTA, with illegal practices such as the “GCTA for Sale” and “Hospital Pass for Sale” already uncovered. 

Former and current officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), as well as several experts, had said the ambiguities in RA 10592, and even its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), led to liberal application of the GCTA that resulted in the early release of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts since 2014. The controversy became the talk of the town after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced last August 20 that even convicted killer-rapist Antonio Sanchez was set for early release because of the GCTA scheme.

More than a hundred life termers who were released due to RA 10592 have already surrendered after they were given by President Duterte 15 days to present themselves to authorities. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a revised IRR is due for release next week. This is the product of the joint review conducted by the DOJ and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). “The Joint Review Committee has completed its work and submitted the draft IRR to the Secretaries of Justice and of the Interior and Local Government,” Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told reporters. “Both will now review the draft IRR and decide on its promulgation.”

BuCor officials in alleged ‘GCTA for sale’ scheme agree to lifestyle checks

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BuCor officials in alleged ‘GCTA for sale’ scheme agree to lifestyle checks

Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officials, who were reported to have demanded money in exchange for the early release of heinous crime convicts, accepted the challenge of senators that they be subjected to lifestyle checks at the resumption of the Senate probe into the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law on  Monday (September 9).

Those who agreed to voluntarily submit themselves to lifestyle checks were BuCor Legal Division chief Fredric Anthony Santos; Staff Sergeant Ramoncito Roque, head of BuCor’s documents division; Correctional Senior Ins. Maria Belinda Bansil and Corrections Officer 3 Veronica Buño.

They will submit their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) in the last six years, as raised by Senator Risa Hontiveros during the Senate hearing on the GCTA mess.

In the previous hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice committees last week, witness Yolanda Camilon revealed that some BuCor officials demanded P50,000 from her in exchange for the early release of her husband through the GCTA provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592.

He identified Roque, Bansil and Buño as some of the BuCor officers who demanded money from her, in what is now called as the “GCTA for sale” scheme. Camilon was forced to come out and disclose the scheme after her husband was not released.

Roque, Bansil and Buño had already denied Camilon’s accusation.

In an earlier hearing of the Senate, former BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon and Regional Superintendent Melencio Faustino also told senators that they are willing to be subjected to lifestyle checks.

At the resumption of the hearing on Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said another witness will corroborate Camilon’s revelations on the alleged GCTA for sale scheme. A third witness is still not sure if he/she will come out. 

The application of the GCTA provisions of RA 10592, which was enacted in 2013, has been in the national spotlight since Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed last August 20 that convicted killer-rapist Antonion L. Sanchez and several other convicts of heinous crimes could be released soon due to their reduced prison terms for good behavior under the law.

Since 2014, more than 22,000 convicts had been freed under the law, around 2,000 of them life termers.

President Duterte himself stopped the early release of Sanchez, stressing that the law does not cover those who were convicted of heinous crimes. He also gave those who have been released 15 days to surrender to authorities. As of Sunday, more than a hundred of these convicts have already surrendered, although some were reported to have fled to other countries. The Philippine National Police said it will now seek the help of the Interpol to effect the arrest of these convicts. 

Duterte junks bill giving fiscal autonomy to PUP

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Duterte junks bill giving fiscal autonomy to PUP
Image Credit: PCOO / @ThePUPOfficial

The bid of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) to gain fiscal autonomy as a “national polytechnic university” has been shelved by President Duterte pending a full review of its performance.

In a letter dated September 4, 2019, and with the unsigned consolidated Senate Bill No. 2124 and House Bill No. 9023  (The Charter of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines) attached, Duterte enumerated to both houses of Congress his reservations that made him veto the proposed PUP Charter.

“While I recognize the noble objective of the measure to promote, foster, nurture, and protect the right of all citizens to accessible quality education, I have serious reservations on the suitability of the means chosen to attain this end, namely, granting the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) the status of a national polytechnic university, with all the benefits and privileges such status entails,” Duterte said.

He continued: “I cannot disregard the fact that the PUP, despite its stature in our education sector, is but one of many state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country. As such, its proposed designation as national polytechnic university needs to be reassessed in light of its current performance ranking among other SUCs. The comparative performance of its satellite campuses and extension programs needs to be similarly evaluated before granting the PUP system as a whole such a privileged status.”

This assessment, Duterte noted, is needed because the proposed PUP Charter grants full fiscal autonomy to the university, which is a departure to the policy of granting only institutional autonomy to SUCs.

He added: ”The proposed provision on appropriations would also have a significant fiscal impact on the government, which may be avoided only if the PUP budget would continue to be subject to the need for prioritization and the usual budgetary and monitoring processes.”

“These concerns taken together put in question the suitableness of the passage of the measure at this time. In view of all these considerations, I am constrained to veto the above mentioned Enrolled Bill,” Duterte closed.

Moral integrity is top consideration in choosing Faeldon’s replacement

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Moral integrity is top consideration in choosing Faeldon’s replacement
Image Credit: Twitter

Amid the controversies surrounding the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)—from the perennial problem of illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison to the early release of heinous crime convicts that has been on the national spotlight since last month—Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is now putting more emphasis on moral integrity in determining who will replace Nicanor Faeldon as the new head of the agency.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said Guevarra will be looking at moral integrity and sound judgment in his evaluation of the candidates for the BuCor chief. “The most important factor for the Secretary (Guevarra) is integrity issues. That is his yardstick; integrity is very important,” Perete said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Wednesday (September 5).

He said under Republic Act (RA) 10575 (An Act strengthening the Bureau of Corrections), the DOJ secretary is tasked to recommend to the President the candidate for the head of BuCor, which is under the supervision of the DOJ.

Perete said: “We know how very important the position is, especially now, so we are fast-tracking the process.”

In the meantime, Guevarra will designate an officer-in-charge from the current deputy chiefs of the bureau. Perete said the DOJ secretary will make the announcement today.

Faeldon was fired by President Duterte on Tuesday over the early release of heinous crime convicts due to erroneous implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of RA 10592, including three of the seven persons convicted in the rape-slay of the Chiong sisters. 

The Senate convened today the Blue Ribbon and Justice committees for the third of its probe of the GCTA mess. The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission is also conducting its parallel investigation, with end view of filing criminal charges against current and former BuCor officials who had a hand in the early release of close to 2,000 convicts of heinous crimes since 2014.

Duterte said he wants the DOJ and the police to re-arrest these freed convicts if they would not voluntarily surrender to authorities.

Faeldon said he accepts the decision of the President “without any hard feelings”.

“My commander-in-chief/appointing authority has spoken. I am a marine and a marine does as he is told,” Faeldon said in a statement released by his legal team. “I most humbly bow to commander-in-chief’s order without any hard feelings.”

Duterte told Xi: I’m not closing offshore gaming hubs

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Duterte told Xi: I'm not closing offshore gaming hubs
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte witnesses the program proper during the opening ceremony of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, People's Republic of China on August 30, 2019. With the President is People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Duterte politely turned down the request of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to ban offshore gaming in the Philippines, citing the loss of jobs and government revenues if the so-called Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) are shut down. 

This was disclosed by President Duterte on Wednesday (September 4), as he narrated to reporters some of his discussions with the President of China in their meeting last week.

“I decide that we need it. Marami ang mawalan ng hanapbuhay (many will lose their jobs). Anyway it’s government-controlled. At this time, wala talaga ako magawa, marami ang nagugutom (I have no choice; many people are hungry),” Duterte said.

The POGO’s main customers are Chinese nationals. These casinos became controversial as they now also employ around 130,000 Chinese, prompting some officials to say that this now becoming a national security issue.

Beijing, on the other hand, asked Manila to halt the POGOs’ operations, as they have now become magnets of extortion, kidnapping and illegal recruitment involving Chinese nationals. The Chinese foreign ministry said last month “online gambling is a most dangerous tumor in modern society.”

But Duterte said his decision will “benefit the interest of my country”.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said revenues from POGOs reached almost P4 billion this year. This does not count the multiplier effect in the economy, like real estate boom and employment. Analysts say POGOs will overtake the business process outsourcing industry as the main driver of property growth in the country.

Last Month, Pagcor suspended the grant of licenses to new POGOs, as it addresses some issues.

But Duterte also warned the POGOs that they will be dealt with accordingly if they are found to be remiss in paying their taxes and other dues. “If you make the mistake of not remitting, even if you’re a gambling lord, I don’t care who you are.”

The Bureau of Internal Revenue said some P200 million in taxes were collected from the foreign employees of POGOs. If 100,000 of them would not pay their taxes and other dues to the government, foregone revenues could reach P24 billion annually.

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