Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Re-post From Christine O. Avendano And Norman Bordadora Of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Aquino: Question is simple, can we trust Mr. Corona?

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President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Attending the first of a series of events to mark the 26th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, President Aquino said Thursday that Chief Justice Renato Corona’s failure to fully declare his multimillion-peso bank deposits was sufficient basis to remove him from his post.

The President wondered why there was still disbelief that Corona had committed an impeachable offense when he declared bank accounts worth only P3.5 million in his 2010 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) despite evidence presented at his impeachment trial showing his peso deposits then at P31.5 million.

In a speech delivered in Filipino at a “town hall meeting” with students from various universities and colleges at La Consolacion College near Malacañang, Aquino expressed frustration over the lengthy legal discussions in the impeachment trial that, he said, appeared to be aimed at confusing the public and causing it to lose interest in the proceedings.

“Would Juan de la Cruz allow himself to be left out of this process? Are we going to allow only a few to decide for all of us?” Aquino said.

“The question in this trial is rather simple: Can we still trust Mr. Corona? We can answer that with the truth coming out during the trial,” he said.

In the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, the President said he would have a hard time implementing reforms in the judiciary should the impeachment court favor Corona.

To the question of what will happen to his campaign to make corrupt public officials accountable if the court issues a verdict of acquittal, Aquino said: “Extremely difficult, if not impossible.”

Same standards

A number of senators have expressed doubt that Corona’s misdeclarations in his SALNs constituted a high crime—one of several grounds for impeachment under the Constitution.

The President said Corona should be held up to the same standards that caused court interpreter Delsa Flores to lose her job and other benefits in 1997 after failing to declare ownership of a stall in a public market.

“For a court interpreter, that is the standard. How much is the rent for a stall in the market? For the Chief Justice, should the standard be different?” Aquino said, adding: “If Mrs. Flores lost her job, what do you think should be the verdict on Mr. Corona? Do we even have to ask whether what he did was an impeachable offense?”

“If you were Delsa Flores, what would you feel if you learn that there’s a person who withheld a bigger amount in his SALN?”

The President said the SALN was not mere scratch paper but a document sworn to by every public official, as provided for in Article 11, Section 17 of the Constitution.

He said the Constitution also directs public officials to have their SALNs disclosed to the public.

“As the truth comes out, the reasons why Mr. Corona was hiding his SALNs in a vault are becoming clear,” the President said. “It’s clearer than the light of day. Mr. Corona, the declaration you swore to isn’t consistent with what has been discovered to be your assets. In any school in the world, P3.5 million does not equal P31.5 million.”

‘Cover-up for GMA corruption’

Aquino expressed mock gratitude for Corona for the discrepancies in his SALNs, saying the inconsistencies were drawing attention to the latter’s unexplained wealth.

He also thanked lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas for seeking the disclosure of Corona’s monthly balances when the impeachment court had just asked for the Chief Justice’s yearend balances.

The President expressed hope that Corona and his lawyers would see the light, but said he doubted that this would happen soon.

“If you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. Let me ask you this. Is this the way a person who has nothing to fear behaves? It’s already difficult to look at his SALNs and until now, he continues to hide his dollar accounts,” the President said.

“He said he would come out with the documents in due time. With due respect, Mr. Corona, many years have passed since you submitted SALNs that beg a lot of questions. When is due time? It seems that your time is long overdue,” the President said.

Aquino also said then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Corona to the Supreme Court “to cover up for her corruption.”

“Didn’t all of this start only after you almost succeeded in allowing Mrs. Arroyo to flee?” he said, referring to the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on the travel restrictions on the former President, which almost gave her “a chance to hide.”

‘Remove this branding’

In explaining the need for Corona’s conviction, the President cited rulings made by certain courts that, he said, derailed the government’s reform agenda.

One ruling he cited was the 20-day TRO issued recently by a Manila Regional Trial Court on the results of the Department of Justice’s investigation of the former National Bureau of Investigation chief Magtanggol Gatdula, who was sacked in connection with the kidnapping of a Japanese national by NBI agents last year.

“There is an accusation that the NBI kidnapped a person. So you need to investigate it in order to bring back the credibility of the NBI as an institution. But the court now says that the DOJ cannot act on the result of its investigation,” he said in a frustrated tone.

In a statement that elicited applause, he said: “Some would say ‘Only in the Philippines.’ But … I want us to remove this kind of branding.”

‘Wimpy dictator’

The President also said he had been at the receiving end of many criticisms—that he was “a spoiled brat,” “immature,” “a wimp,” and now “a wimpy dictator.”

But even with these criticisms, he said, he wanted the next generation to not undergo what his generation had experienced.

Later in a TV interview, Aquino indicated satisfaction with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s handling of the impeachment trial.

“He is trying to be extremely fair to all sides,” he said of Enrile, noting that the latter was, after all, a veteran lawyer.

The President also defended the performance of the House prosecution, saying the lawmakers’ not being practicing lawyers was the reason they were not as “polished” as the defense.

Not interference

Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Teofisto Guingona III, both allied with the President, said his criticism of the Chief Justice did not amount to interference in the impeachment trial.

“I don’t know how he is interfering. All I know is they’re [both] commenting, but if we are not affected by the commentaries, these have no value,” Pimentel said in Filipino.

“The challenge is for us [senator-judges] not to be affected by the commentaries of other people. We would have to now make our own decision based on the evidence,” he said.

Asked about the propriety of the President continuously attacking Corona and discussing the merits of the case in public, Pimentel said: “If somebody files a motion, then we will take it up. But no one seems to be affected that much…”

Guingona, a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, said the President’s attacks had a “substantial difference” from the allegation by Corona’s lawyers that the Palace was trying to bribe senators.

Last Sunday, defense lawyers claimed that the offer was P100 million in “soft projects” in exchange for a senator’s vote against the TRO on Corona’s dollar accounts.

But Pimentel said both the defense and the prosecution should be sanctioned. He noted that prosecutors were now under fire for submitting to the Senate purportedly fake documents on Corona’s bank records.

“My attitude now is that both sides should be punished,” Pimentel said.

Tit for tat

In a press conference, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said even the Chief Justice had been criticizing the President and the prosecutors.

Belmonte said that the impeachment trial being a political process, even the senators and the defense had become fair game for criticism.

“And, of course, Corona should not be organizing rallies and speeches,” the Speaker said.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said there was nothing wrong with anyone discussing issues involving Corona.

Re-posted From Christine O. Avendano And Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Re-post From Tarra Quismundo of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Let the ‘fun’ begin: Netizens spoof, bash new tourism slogan

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'MORE FUN' TURNS FUNNY. Filipino humor overwhelms Facebook and other social networking sites as netizens parody the new tourism slogan. But it’s good news for Philippine tourism, says DOT.

Netizens did have fun either defending or (nit)picking apart the country’s newest tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Filipino humor quickly found a new target and went viral over the catchphrase, giving it different spins which may or may not help the cause of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.

Ideas fresh or farcical quickly sprouted on Facebook and Twitter pages: One user came up with a “poster” showing two men in a sing-along showdown and captioned “Death by ‘My Way’: It’s More Fun…” It was a reference to that joke about the Frank Sinatra classic being the usual fuse of videoke bar violence in these parts.

Another user thought “Watering the Plants” would also be a source of fun worth promoting in the Philippines, posting a photo of a boy urinating against a wall. The image was apparently an expression of disgust over locals relieving themselves in public.

Another mock “fun” poster featured a unique Philippine “water sport,” showing people scampering away from giant, crashing waves on Manila Bay at the height of a storm.

One gave a lighter spin to the notorious traffic jams in Metro Manila, posting a photo of a traffic enforcer dressed as Santa Claus.

Others thought that the “fun” slogan should also apply to the country’s rambunctious and often controversial elections, as well as to the coming impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Still, there were also well-meaning suggestions: Have you tried local pastries like “fun de sal” and “fun de coco”?

Mere copy?

Some users weighed in on the observation that the new slogan was not a Filipino original but supposedly a mere copy of Switzerland’s motto in the 1950s.

Mark Manuel @mimattictheory) tweeted: “#itsmorefuninthephilippines, absolutely! But stealing one country’s tourism slogan is not cool!”

Another Twitter user, Sapphire Ong (@sappong), said that while the new slogan was catchy, “it sounded so much better when Switzerland used it in 1951.”

Other Twitter users thought the copycat issue should be given a rest. “I don’t care if there’s ‘It’s more fun in Switzerland.’ For me it’s way more fun in the Philippines!” said Marco Paulo (@countocram).

“Come on! Give me a break! Switzerland 1951? Nega people, stop it. I still say #itsmorefuninthePhilippines!” said Mikaela Lagdameo (@mikaelamartinez).

Part of DOT plan

The Department of Tourism is not actually complaining about all that cyber-buzz being generated by its new pickup line.

That the new slogan had gone viral within just hours of its launch on Friday could only mean good news for Philippine tourism, said Assistant Tourism Secretary Benito Bengzon.

“This is really part of our strategy, to let it go viral. It has been trending, a very good indication of the kind of interest we are generating in social networks,” Bengzon told the Inquirer on the phone on Saturday.

“We see the 25 million or so Facebook and Twitter users as our strength in the Philippines. This is something we could use to convey our message,” Bengzon said.

Positive voice

Jimenez himself has used his Twitter account to defend the new slogan, saying it was merely a coincidence that it echoed Switzerland’s old come-on—and that nobody has a copyright to fun.

“Tourism is successful in Thailand because their positive voice is louder than their negative voice,” the secretary added.

The early criticisms were expected, but the campaign’s success would be gauged by what foreign tourists would think of the slogan, Bengzon said.

“I think what people have to realize is that the application of this campaign is overseas. We will see how the Japanese react to it, how Koreans or Americans react to it,” he said.


The new slogan may not be bombastic but it tells the truth about the Philippines, according to Jaime Cura, a former vice president of the Tourism Congress.

“I think it is very simple, easy to understand and easy to recall. It’s an honest statement. It does not promise something that we don’t have,” Cura said in an interview.

He noted that Filipinos could be fun-loving “even to a fault” and that many foreigners who had visited the country always remember their happy experiences.

“My foreign friends tell us when they say goodbye that they had so much fun during their stay. So instead of copying other countries with their (one-word) tag lines, we should focus on this aspect that has already been proven,” Cura said.

Re-posted From Tarra Quismundo of Philippine Dailt Inquirer

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Re-post From Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Aquino declares state of national calamity

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President Benigno Aquino III INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Cagayan De Oro–President Aquino has declared a state of national calamity in the aftermath of the devastation and tragedy brought by tropical storm Sendong.

Mr. Aquino made the declaration during a briefing with heads of concerned national government agencies and local government officials on Tuesday morning here.

President Aquino said the government still has P1.17 billion of its calamity fund intact.

Aside from the hardest hit areas of Cagayan De Oro and Iligan City, Mr. Aquino said the government will also be assisting Negros Oriental, Ilocos Norte and Iloilo.

Re-posted From Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Re-post From Rose Garcia of PEP

Carla in, Rhian out—as Dingdong's leading lady in GMA's My Beloved?

December 8, 2011 3:48pm
Sa gitna ng kontrobersiyang kinasasangkutan ngayon ni Rhian Ramos ay ang usap-usapan na papalitan na raw siya sa upcoming series ng GMA-7 na My Beloved.

At ang lumulutang na pangalan na makakapareha ni Dingdong Dantes sa naturang serye ay si Carla Abellana.

Kaya naman isa ito sa tinanong ng (Philippine Entertainment Portal) kay Carla sa presscon ng pelikulang Yesterday Today Tomorrow nitong Martes ng gabi, sa Imperial Palace Suites.

Ayon kay Carla, "Nababalitaan ko yun, pero wala pa naman akong nababalitaan from GMA at kay Tito Arnold [Vegafria, her manager].

"Hindi pa.

"So, sabi ko, hangga't hindi pa nanggagaling sa kanila, hindi tayo sigurado.

"Sa ngayon, tsismis lang."

Paano kung totoo ngang siya ang napipisil ng GMA-7 na gumanap sa role na dapat kay Rhian, tatanggapin ba niya?

"Walang problema. Trabaho pa rin yun," sagot ni Carla.

"Pero gusto ko sanang tapusin muna ang Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit kasi naumpisahan ko na.

"Alangan naman na iwan ko lang yun na basta-basta.

"Siyempre, I still have my responsibilities.

"Tatapusin ko yun. Gusto kong tapusin yun."

Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit ang afternoon soap ni Carla kasama sina Michelle Madrigal at Mike Tan.

Ayon kay Carla, hanggang January 2012 pa ang taping nila para sa Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit, pero hanggang sa February pa ang airing nito.

Kung sakaling matuloy si Carla sa My Beloved, ito ang unang pagkakataon na makakapareha niya si Dingdong sa isang soap.

Pero nagkasama na sila bilang co-hosts sa StarStruck V.

OFFER FROM OTHER NETWORK. Sa February 2012 ay matatapos na ang kontrata ni Carla sa GMA-7.

Hindi itinatanggi ng aktres na may offer siya mula sa isang rival network.

Kung sakaling matuloy siya My Beloved, isa ba ito sa kunsiderasyon para manatili siyang Kapuso?

"Puwede, oo," tugon ni Carla.

"Pero siyempre, hindi lang naman yun.

"Kailangan naming marinig kung ano ang plans ng GMA para sa akin.

"Hindi naman enough na, 'eto ngang if ever na project na ito, kailangan ano pa ang mga susunod na plano, di ba?

"Kailangan marinig muna namin the rest."

Sa palagay ni Carla ay magkakaroon naman ng meetings para mapag-usapan ang bagay na ito.

Pero detalyado na raw ang offer ng ibang network sa kanya.

Saad ni Carla, "Oo naman. Detalyado kung ano ang mga proyekto...

"Kung ilang taon...siyempre, nandoon na rin ang talent fees sa kontrata at naka-indicate."

Isang network lang naman daw ang nag-o-offer sa kanya.

Pero ayon kay Carla, "Ayoko sanang lumipat.

"Pero kung wala naman akong choice kung hindi i-consider, based on their plans for me, e, di uupuan natin yun at pag-uusapan natin yun.

"Nandiyan pa rin siya, hanging pa lang.

"Kasi, hindi pa naman kami nag-uusap ng GMA. Hindi pa kami nagmi-meeting.

"So, hindi pa namin alam kung ano ang plans ng GMA for me."

Paano kung maganda rin ang offer ng Kapuso network sa kanya?

"E, di okay. I will remain in GMA," nakangiting sagot ni Carla.

Paano kung mas maganda ang offer ng kabila?

"Naiiyak ako!" biro niya.

"Mahirap talagang desisyon yun.

"Kung maganda ang offer ng kabila, ang pagpipilian mo, ano ba, magandang offer or loyalty mo?"

Ano ang magiging deciding factor niya kung saka-sakali—magandang offer o loyalty?

"'Yun nga, e. Malay ko. Paano ako magde-decide?

"Tingnan muna natin, di ba?

"I cannot say which I will choose—loyalty or magandang offer—because I haven't seen GMA's offer also and plan."

GEOFF IS NOT A FACTOR. Posible bang manatili rin siya sa GMA-7 dahil sa boyfriend niyang si Geoff Eigenmann?

"Hayan na naman... Hindi ako mag-i-stay sa GMA dahil lang kay Geoff, ha.

"Walang problema. Kung trabaho, trabaho.

"Siyempre, I will consider him, but hindi naman porke't nandoon siya, susunod ako do'n.

"Sabi nga ni Geoff... Di ba, sa interview n'yo, sabi niya, 'Kung trabaho, trabaho.'

"Hindi naman magma-matter, iisang industriya lang 'yan.

"Kahit magkahiwalay kami ng network, okay lang."

Yun nga lang, minsan pumapasok ang problema ng magkarelasyon kapag magkahiwalay sila ng network.

Ayon naman kay Carla, "Ganoon talaga.

"Pero, doon mate-test kung trabaho or lovelife.

"Sa ngayon, ang priority talaga, trabaho." -- Rose Garcia, PEP

Re-post From Rose Garcia of PEP

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Re-post From Cathy Yamsuan and Christine O. Avendano of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Aquino-Corona face-off at justice summit

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President Benigno Aquino III and Chief Justice Renato Corona. INQUIRER file photo

Will President Benigno Aquino III face off with Chief Justice Renato Corona today (Monday)?

The two are guests at the opening of the first National Criminal Justice Summit hosted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) after the President, using the 30th anniversary celebration of the Makati Business Club on Thursday, slammed the Supreme Court for allegedly hobbling his reform programs.

Mr. Aquino will keynote the summit at the Manila Hotel; Corona is expected to deliver a speech for the judiciary.

“I guess we’ll have to see,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said when asked over state radio dzRB if the two will meet during the two-day gathering. “We’ll just have to wait for that particular event.”

“The President does not shy away from discussing national issues, if necessary,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said in a phone interview.

“The President has every right and even the duty to express his views and sentiments on such issue of national importance,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The Palace and judiciary have been at loggerheads since Mr. Aquino was elected last year. The President had even refused to take his oath before Corona, a so-called “midnight” appointee of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Chief Executive had been very vocal about his opposition to several decisions by the court, including its recent decision to allow Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, to travel abroad for treatment of a bone ailment which De Lima defied.

Arroyo is now under hospital arrest but has questioned before the high court the constitutionality of the DOJ-Commission on Elections task force that recommended the election sabotage case filed against her that ultimately was used to justify the move to keep her under government custody.

Palace lawyers warned

Senator Joker Arroyo on Sunday said Mr. Aquino’s latest blast at the court was the handiwork of his legal advisers who must be cautioned against criticizing the high tribunal.

“I cannot blame the President for his remarks since he is not a lawyer. But he cleared his statements with his legal advisers so they should be the ones held accountable,” said the senator, who is not related to the former President.

“When government officials criticize the Supreme Court, it does not have the power to answer. And are they saying that the (12) justices appointed during the time of Gloria cannot render right judgment? That the present composition of the Supreme Court cannot make a right decision,” he asked.

“Before they speak again, they better look at history,” the senator said, referring to then President Corazon Aquino’s appointment of all 15 justices of the Supreme Court after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Senator Arroyo said that the court was then led by Claudio Teehankee, a known dissenter as an associate justice during the Marcos years.

Martial law years

The senator recalled that the late Senator Lorenzo Tañada had advised his opposition colleagues in the anti-Marcos movement to “never get personal with the Supreme Court.”

“Even during those times when we cannot expect justice from the Supreme Court, we never got personal. We were careful not to attack it even if it gives an unfavorable decision. But now, just because it issues a TRO (temporary restraining order), it is branded as a lapdog of Gloria. Is that the situation now, that they are free to attack anyone? We should be careful there,” he warned.

Senator Franklin Drilon, a known critic of Corona, stressed that the Supreme Court “is not exempted from criticism. Any lawyer can question its decisions.”

Drilon said “respect” for the Supreme Court cannot be ordered. “You should show that you deserve respect. All this is happening because of public perception that the tribunal is not an impartial arbiter.”

Re-posted From Cathy Yamsuan and Christine O. Avendano of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Re-post From PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal)

Janelle Manahan out of hospital; recounts night of boyfriend Ramgen Revilla's murder

"Gusto ko pong magpasalamat sa lahat ng mga nagdasal at saka sa lahat ng sumusuporta po para po sa justice [kay Ramgen]. Whatever po needed yung help ko, ibibigay ko po," says Janelle Manahan.

Janelle Manahan out of hospital; recounts night of boyfriend Ramgen Revilla's murder

Ibinalita Martes ng gabi, Nobyembre 29, sa iba't-ibang primetime news programs ng tatlong malalaking TV networks—ABS-CBN, TV5, at GMA-7—ang paglabas sa ospital ni Janelle Manahan, kasintahan ng napaslang na aktor na si Ramgen Revilla.

Matapos ang isang buwan sa Asian Hospital and Medical Center sa Alabang, lumabas na si Janelle pasado alas-dos ng hapon, Nobyembre 29.

Kasama ng kanyang mga abugado, naka-shades, maong, at sweater ang dalaga na guwardiyado ng mga pulis.

Dahil hindi pa tuluyang gumagaling ang kanyang balikat, naka-armsling pa rin siya.

JUSTICE FOR RAMGEN. Bagamat hirap pang magsalita si Janelle dahil sa nakakabit na braces sa ngipin niya, nagpaunlak pa rin siya ng interview pagsakay niya sa kotse.

Ayon kay Janelle, "Gusto ko pong magpasalamat sa lahat ng mga nagdasal at saka sa lahat ng sumusuporta po para po sa justice [kay Ramgen].

"Whatever po needed yung help ko, ibibigay ko po."

Saan siya humuhugot ng lakas sa hinaharap niyang trials?

"Kay God po at saka sa love ng family at saka sa lahat ng sumusuporta po."

Napaiyak din si Janelle sa pangalawang buhay na ibinigay sa kanya.

Nangako siyang hindi titigil hangga't hindi nakakamit ang hustisya sa pagkamatay ni Ramgen.

Sabi ni Janelle habang umiiyak, "Ngayon lang po nagsi-sink in lahat, e. Hindi ko po alam."

Nakahanda raw si Janelle na tumestigo sa kaso ng napatay na nobyo.

Nanawagan din siya sa pamilya Bautista-Revilla.

"Sana po tulungan po nila akong mahanap yung hustisya para kay Ramgen. Yun lang po."

Galit ba siya sa pamilya ni Ramgen?

Sagot ni Janelle, "Hindi ko po talaga alam yung nararamdaman ko ngayon, e.

"Ngayon lang po talaga nagsi-sink in lahat.

"Hindi ko po talaga alam kung ano yung napi-feel ko."

TRANSFERRED TO A SAFEHOUSE. Bagamat na-interview ng lahat si Janelle, tanging ang ABS-CBN News reporter na si Jay Ruiz ang nakasama sa sasakyang sumundo kay Janelle.

Re-posted from PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Repost From Leila B. Salaverria and Philip C. Tubeza of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Arroyo faces more troubles

Suits pressed for plunder, Maguindanao massacre

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Mug shots of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as shown from www.

Mug shots of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as shown from www.

As if her troubles were not enough, former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be slapped Tuesday with a civil case for her alleged role in the gruesome Maguindanao massacre, a lawyer of the victims said Monday.

Arroyo, who is under hospital arrest in Taguig City on charges of electoral sabotage, is also facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman.

A lawmaker and two other complainants said that while Arroyo had been charged with electoral sabotage, there was still a need to make her accountable for alleged acts of corruption during her nine-year tenure in Malacañang.

The three asked the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday to immediately resolve the plunder case against Arroyo over the scuttled $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal.

Harry Roque, who represents the kin of 13 media workers and two bystanders slain in the massacre on Nov. 23, 2009, said his clients would ask the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to order the former President to pay a total of P15 million in damages.

“We will file a civil case against her for her complicity in the Maguindanao massacre. She is responsible for coddling and abetting those behind the killings and for violating the rights of the victims,” Roque said in an interview.

The massacre claimed the lives of 58 people, including 33 media workers, two years ago.


The government has charged members of the Ampatuan family—close allies of Arroyo when she was in power—and their supporters for the massacre.

The killings in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province, is considered the worst election-related case of violence in the country. The remains of the 58th victim have yet to be found.

The 33 media workers were part of a convoy traveling with the wife of Esmael Mangudadatu who was going to file her husband’s certificate of candidacy. Mangudadatu’s wife was accompanied by women relatives and friends. They were all killed. Six other civilians who happened to be passing by were also killed.

While planning to formally charge Arroyo, Roque said his clients also vented their ire on President Benigno Aquino III for reportedly saying that he expected the trial of the massacre case to go beyond his term.

“The widows are really unhappy because he is the President and they expected him to do everything within his power to achieve justice in this case but, with his statement, he has thrown in the towel or raised the white flag,” Roque said.

He pointed out that the alleged election cheating machine that the Arroyo administration had in Central Mindanao began to unravel after the Maguindanao massacre.

Former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., along with Arroyo and former Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol, had been charged with electoral sabotage in the Pasay City Regional Trial Court.

Plunder case

In the plunder complaint, also named respondents were the husband of the former President, Jose Miguel Arroyo, former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos; and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

In an urgent motion to resolve the case, the complainants—Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño, former Gabriela Representative Liza Maza and Carol Araullo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan—said Arroyo could use the delays in filing cases against her to her advantage.

“We are witnesses on how delay in the filing of an appropriate case could have almost allowed GMA (Arroyo) to leave the country and escape liability from her illegal acts, had the Commission on Elections not filed an electoral sabotage case,” they said.

Arroyo tried last week to fly abroad for medical treatment after the Supreme Court lifted the watch-list order against her, but she was stopped from leaving by immigration officials on orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Before Arroyo could attempt to leave again, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court ordered her arrest for electoral sabotage.

Not enough

The complainants in the plunder case also said that although Arroyo was facing a criminal charge, this was not enough.

“There is still a need for the filing of information from cases like the corruption charges in the NBN-ZTE transaction,” they said.

Casiño, Maza and Araullo said the “people have waited for years for the respondents to face these charges.”

They also asked the Office of the Ombudsman not to grant any request from Arroyo for additional time to respond to the complaint, saying she had been granted an extension earlier.

If Arroyo failed to file her response at the proper time, she should be deemed to have waived her right to file it, the complainants said.

The Arroyo administration shelved the NBN deal with China’s ZTE Corp. amid allegations of bribery and overpricing.

Abalos and Romulo Neri, former director general of the National Economic Development Authority, are undergoing trial in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the criminal cases filed against them for their role in the scuttled deal.

Proper process

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said the cases against Arroyo were undergoing the proper processes.

Rafanan said the Office of the Ombudsman would evaluate the case based on the facts. It would not file cases haphazardly and would not be moved by emotions, he said.

He also said that if the agency would file cases, it wanted to make sure these were airtight.

Last month, at her first press conference, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she would focus on high-profile cases and would make sure that cases filed were airtight. But she also said she did not want to go berserk filing cases if there was no case just to please the public.

Reposted From Lel.ila B. Salaverria and Philip C. Tubeza of Philippine Daily Inquirer


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