Category Archives: Graft and Corruption

Plunder case against Governor Raul Lee et al.

 

Republic of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Quezon City

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-C-12-0355
FOR: Violation of R.A. 3019
Section 3, Paragraphs (a) and (g)

RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
HIL BENEDICT G. MANZANADES, Land Bank Legaspi Office
RENATO G. EJE Vice President,
Land Bank of the Philippines,
Respondents.
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VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-A-12-0373
FOR: Dishonesty and Grave
Misconduct
RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
Respondents.
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REPLY

Comes now Complainant, unto this Honorable Office most respectfully avers that:

1. Respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje would like to point out that the loan was duly approved and evaluated by the different channels of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) approving authority – from the recommendation of the Account Officer to the approval of different signing authorities, to show that there could not be any conspiracy between Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee and some officials of the LBP (See paragraph 3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje). With all due respect, NO EVIDENCE has been presented to prove this allegation;

2. Paragraphs 4.1; 4.2; and 4.3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje are correct statement of facts. Paragraph 4.4 is not known to the Complainant while paragraph 4.5 is an anomalous allegation designed only to circumvent the evidences at hand and make it appear that (i) there was no conspiracy and that the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP loan is advantageous to the Provincial Government when in truth, it was not;

2.1 For instance, respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje said in paragraph 4.5 mentioned in their Counter Affidavit, they sent a second letter to Governor Lee dated March 30, 2011 with an offer of interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market (See paragraph 4.5 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje);

“4.5 The Land Bank-LC, thru respondent Manzanades, sent its first offer letter on March 07, 2011 offering an interest rate of 7.0% and the second one on March 30, 2011 with an interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market. The said letter of Land Bank dated March 07, 2011 states that all other charges shall be waived.”

2.2 With all due respect, the alleged letter contains no receipt of the Office of the Governor. In fact, in Annex “6” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Manzanades and Eje, undersigned complainant brought to the attention of the respondents that I was asking for the letter-proposals of the PNB and LBP but this Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was not among those submitted even to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (See paragraph 1 item 1 of the Annex “6”);

“During the last Regular Session April 11, 2011 there was an overwhelming majority (SPM Benito L. Doma, SPM Berand Hao, SPM Angel E. Escandor, SPM Arnulfo L. Perete, SPM Rebecca D. Aquino, SPM Francisco G. Frivaldo, SPM Renato V. Guban, SPM Franco Eric O. Ravanilla and SPM Nelson Marana) except the undersigned who voted in favor of the Committee Report no.27-2011 of the Committee on Budget and Appropriation joint with the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Amendments in favor of a measure authorizing Gov. Raul R. Lee to enter into a loan agreement to any banking/lending institution in the amount of P350.0 million loan and disregarding my valid objection, on the following grounds:

1. There is still a pending motion referred to the said joint Committee to tackle the undersigned letter dated April 2, 2011 requesting for copies of the letter proposals from both the Philippine National Bank and the Land Bank of the Philippinesmitted and received, Governor Lee would not have made a letter dated May 17, 2011 (Annex “K” of my Complaint) addressed to Vice Governor Antonio H. Escudero submitting the proposed Loan Agreement from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for perusal, review and ratification as well as the proposed PNB Loan Agreement requested by the Governor to be ratified (Annex “L” of my Complaint);

2.4 Even granting without admitting that Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was submitted, the allegations in paragraph 4.5 that all charges shall be waived according to Annex “4” are NOT CORRECT. Review of Annexes “4” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit reveal the truth.

“Fees : 1% handling and ½ % commitment fees, inspection, and appraisal/application fees are waived. Pre-payment fee of 3% shall also be waived but it shall be collected in case of loan take-out by other banks and if required by special financing program.”

2.5 Worst, when the two (2) Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13 and Omnibus Loan Term) with LBP was executed, all these fees that should have been waived but are actually still included in Section 5 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Section 5 of Omnibus Loan Term of Annex “15”, as follows:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 5. Other Fees and Charges: Subject to a 3% pre-payment penalty in case of loan take out by other banks or as required by the Special Funder. Commitment handling, filing/processing & appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. GRT for the account of the LGU.”

And

Omnibus Loan Term

“Section 5. Fees/Charges. Commitment, handling, filing/processing and appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. The LOAN shall be subject to a pre-payment penalty of three percent (3%) In case of loan take-out by other banks or if required by Special Funder.”

2.6 What about the alleged offer of 5.061% by Respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez Department Manager/Head, Legazpi LC contained in the letter dated March 30, 2011, marked as Annex “5” in their Joint Counter-Affidavit, the same has never happened, on Section 4 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Omnibus Term Loan of Annex “15” provides thus:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 4. Interest: Prevailing prime rate at the time of availment plus 1% min. spread, provided a minimum of 3% Account Profitability Rate (APR) is met. Subject to quarterly repricing or at applicable special financing rate if special funds is accessed.

And

Omnibus Term Loan

“Section 4. Interest Rate/s. Interest of the LOAN shall be equivalent to LENDER’S prevailing prime rate at the time of availment at applicable special financing rates, if funded under special financing program. Gross Receipt Tax (GRT) shall be for account of the BORROWER.

2.7 Respondent Manzanes offer of 5.061% has become an illusion. It is no longer found in any of the two LBP Loan Agreements (marked in the Annexes “14” and “15” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje) both signed by Respondent Governor Lee and Respondent LBP Vice President Renato G. Eje.

Unfortunately, Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan namely Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando David H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao, Patrick Q. Rodrigueza did not exert effort nor initiated action to secure a concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rates set by the Central Bank’s standard reference rate, thereby violating Article 395 paragraph C of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code (R.A. 7160) which provides thus:

“Government financial and other lending institutions are authorized to grant Local Government Units such loans, credit lines, advances, and other forms of indebtedness for projects and purposes referred in paragraph (B) hereof, preferably at concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing rates as may be authorized by the governing board of the financial or lending institution.

Prevailing rates shall mean the Central Bank standard reference rate for medium-and long-term loans.”

3. With their admissions on their Counter-Affidavits and Omnibus Joint Counter Affidavits’ of Respondents Gov. Lee, Vice Gov. Escudero, Board Members Aquino, Duran, Perete, Ravanilla, Escandor, Doma, Hao and Rodrigueza about the truth regarding the existence of the PNB proposal (marked as Annex “J” of my Complaint) and the fact that the latter was the one most advantageous to the Provincial Government an offense for violation of Section 3(a and g) of R.A. No. 3019 was indeed committed, thus:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
xxxx
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.

4. Indeed, with the admission of the truth that the PNB proposal of five percent (5%) is most advantageous than 5.061% of LBP but was never acted upon by the Provincial Government and by the Respondents, the evidence of guilt of respondents are strong enough to warrant immediate preventive suspension from the office.

5. The undersigned would like to respectfully reiterate that in a Letter dated July 5, 2012 (marked as Annex “N” in my Complaint) of Dominador O. Jardin, Prov’l. Gov’t. Dept. Head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), addressed to the undersigned complainant, he stated that his Office could NOT come upon any feasibility study of the list of projects such as roads, bridges, buildings, farm to market roads and tourism facilities funded in the P350,000,000.00 LBP loan from available existing records. These only shows that the PPDO officer nor his office was made a part of the official action of the provincial government to come up with the decision to justify and substantiate the loan application for some “priority projects“ of respondents.

6. Worst, based on the Letter dated June 1, 2012 (marked as Annex “V” in my Complaint) of Provincial Treasurer Efilda C. Nogales and Provincial Accountant Mercedes J. Ativo duly noted by Respondent Gov. Lee, the Provincial Government had ALREADY PAID an amount of SEVENTY TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT PESOS AND SIXTY ONE CENTAVOS (P72,925, 948.61) to various contractors.

In sum, the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP Loan resulted in grave irreparable damage and prejudice to the Sorsogon taxpayers.

In view of the said acts of Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando Dave H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao and Patrick Q. Rodrigueza, they should also be held liable for violation of Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080 or “An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder, thus:

Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties – Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Complainant respectfully prays of the Honorable Office to institute the appropriate charges against Respondents and in the meantime order their immediate preventive suspension from the office;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines.

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Affiant

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines. Affiant exhibited to me his Driver’s License bearing number 3-90-102197 containing his picture and signature as competent evidence of his person.

ADMINISTERING OFFICER

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Graft and Corruption, Politics, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

CEBU GOVERNOR SHOULD VACATE CAPITOL

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – When I advised then San Juan, Metro Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to ignore the order of Revolutionary President Cory Aquino in 1986 to vacate the San Juan municipal hall, I questioned the validity of the order because it was not addressed to anybody. I told Mayor Estrada the anonymous order was an insult to his person and his office.

If he really wanted to make a point, Mayor Estrada should call a television cameraman and tear the order to pieces, which he did. Estrada would leave the mayor’s office after a violent take-over by the Aquino forces. And only after presenting a detailed financial report – a surplus – which was unheard of at the time to the Aquino government officials so Estrada would not be accused of running away with the taxpayers’ money.

I was already in Chicago, Illinois, when the iconic defiance of Estrada of tearing the order that conjured an image of a Bonifacio tearing up the cedula (residence certificate) and would launch Estrada’s political fortune to the stratosphere.

Of course, I don’t want this to happen in Cebu. And I appeal to former President Estrada and his allies, including Vice President Binay and Senate President Enrile, to tell Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia to vacate the capitol while she appeals her case. What she needs are lawyers, not her grandstanding supporters, to win her case.

The case of Gov. Garcia, whose six months suspension by the late Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Interior and Local Government was sustained by President Noynoy Aquino’s Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., was a far cry from Estrada’s case.

In Estrada’s case, the order came out of the blue. But in Garcia’s case, there was a full-blown administrative hearing, where she was given a day in court. She knew a decision was forthcoming.

ROBREDO FOUND GARCIA GUILTY OF GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY

Robredo found Garcia guilty of grave abuse of authority among others for usurping the appointing power of the Vice Governor, for hiring 19 consultants without prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), and “slashing the budget, while not illegal, is suggestive of harassment, oppression, and vindictiveness with respondent utilizing the powers of her office and affinity to the SP.”

A copy of the decision on Garcia’s case was emailed to me by Provincial Board Member Vladi Frivaldo of Sorsogon, whose Governor, Raul R. Lee, was denounced by Frivaldo in a privilege speech earlier before the SP for “usurping legislative authority of the Vice Governor by transferring the funds from SP to the Office of the Governor and reducing the budget of Vice Governor from PHP23.2-M in 2009 to PHP2.5-M in 2011 or 76% and the SP budget by 30%.”

Garcia’s trouble started when the late Vice Gov. Gregorio G. Sanchez, Jr. filed complaint against her before the office of Secretary Robredo on Nov. 8, 2010 for encroaching upon Sanchez’ legislative powers, grave misconduct and abuse of authority.

On July 26, 2012, a few months before his death, Secretary Robredo came up with a ruling and elevated the case to the Office of the President “for appropriate action.”

According to the decision of the Office of the President, Gov. Garcia gravely abused her authority by: (1) encroaching on the appointing authority of the complainant over employees of the Office of the Vice-Governor (Sanchez); (2) slashing the budget of the Office of the Vice Governor by 61%; (3) stopping the publication of the Legislative Gavel and non-payment of honoraria of the publication staff; (4) transferring the funding of the Legislative Research and Codification Project from the Office of the Vice-Governor to the Office of the Governor; (5) hiring consultants without prior authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) or Provincial Board; (6) withholding the overtime pay of the personnel of the Office of the Vice Governor; and (7) issuing a check worth PHP10-M without prior authority from the SP.

ELECTION CONDONATION OF PRIOR MISCONDUCT

Gov. Garcia denied all the allegations in the complaint with respect to acts that occurred before June 30, 2010, (when she was re-elected for the third time as governor), invoking the case of Aguinaldo v. Santos. The case held that a public official’s re-election to office operates as a condonation of the official’s misconduct committed during a prior term. I agree with this ruling only if the misconduct was made known to the voters on or before the election.

Garcia was later accused of charges she committed after June 30, 2010.

The ruling did not give credence to her claim that all acts complained of are within a governor’s powers of supervision and control over all programs, projects, services, and activities of the provincial government.

Prior to the investigation of the complaint, Sanchez died. But DILG moved forward with the formal investigation, requiring parties to submit their respective memoranda.

In her memorandum, Gov. Garcia moved for the dismissal of the case due to the death of the complainant, “absence of a valid substitution of complainant” and lack of interest to proceed on the part of the complainant’s successor in office.

In his ruling, Robredo said “administrative case survives the death of the complainant and is not rendered moot by the dismissal of related civil cases,” adding, “unilateral acts of a private complainant will not bind the disciplining authority in its exercise of disciplinary power over erring public officials” and “complainant is only treated as witness.”

The ruling also found Garcia to have usurped the appointing power of the Vice Governor, who has a power to appoint “employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as well as those of the Office of the Vice Governor, whose salaries, are paid out of the funds appropriated for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.”

After the complainant Sanchez died, Garcia restored the salaries and wages of contractual employees of the Vice Governor, which evoked “malice and bad faith,” “suggestive of an arbitrary exercise of authority,” according to the ruling.

But when Sanchez’s successor, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, “transferred to another political party,” Garcia suddenly reduced “the budget of the Vice Governor and the SP for 2011,” which indicated “malice and bad faith,” the ruling added.

Garcia also gravely abused her authority when she hired 19 consultants without “prior, express and separate authorization from the SP.” The ruling said, “continued practice does not justify an illegal act and no vested right can be acquired by an administrative official from an erroneous construction of the law.”

I just hope when a similar complaint is filed against Gov. Raul Lee and other governors, the Office of the President would swiftly investigate and carry out its suspension order as it did against Governor Garcia. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Correspondent

Journal Group Link International

P. O. Box 30110

Chicago IL 60630

U.S.A.

Tel. 312.772.5454

Telefax 312.428.5714

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1 Comment

Filed under Bulan Observer and Fil-Am Friends, Commentary, Graft and Corruption, Joseph Lariosa, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO)

COMPLAINT- AFFIDAVIT

Posted by  VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Republic of the Philippines…..)

Quezon City……..………………) S.S.

COMPLAINT- AFFIDAVIT

I, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO, Filipino, of legal age, single, with residence and postal address at Arellano Street, Poblacion Norte, Barcelona, Sorsogon, and an incumbent Board Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon, hereby files these criminal and administrative complaints:

A. Criminal complaint for violation of Section 3, Paragraphs (a) and (g) of R.A. No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” against the following persons:

1. RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor;

2. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor;

3. REBECCA D. AQUINO;

5. FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III;

6. ARNULFO L. PERETE;

7. FRANCO ERIC O. RAVANILLA;

8. ANGEL E. ESCANDOR;

9. BENITO L. DOMA;

10. BERNARD H. HAO;

11. PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA;

12. NESON A. MARAÑA;

all incumbent Board Members of the Sangguniang

Panlalawigan of Sorsogon

13. HIL BENEDICT G. MANZANADES, Dept. Manager/Head, Land Bank of the Philippines in Legazpi City;

14. RENATO G. EJE, Vice President, Land Bank of the Philippines, Head Office.

B. Administrative complaint for Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty against the following persons:

1. RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor;

2. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor;

3. REBECCA D. AQUINO;

5. FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III;

6. ARNULFO L. PERETE;

7. FRANCO ERIC O. RAVANILLA;

8. ANGEL E. ESCANDOR;

9. BENITO L. DOMA;

10. BERNARD H. HAO;

11. PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA;

12. NESON A. MARAÑA;

all incumbent Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.

The complaint is based on the following facts:

1. On January 17, 2011 Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Sorsogon passed Resolution No. 5-2011 entitled “Resolution Granting Authority to Governor Raul R. Lee to Enter into a Loan Agreement with any reputable Banking Institution offering a more favorable deal to the Provincial Government relative to the P350 million Bank Loan of the Province of Sorsogon.” A photocopy of said resolution is hereto attached as Annex “A”.

The respondent Vice-Governor Antonio H. Escudero who is also the Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the respondent Board Members concerned violated a cardinal rule in the passage of Resolutions and Ordinance as provided for in Article 7 of Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code which provides:

Art. 107. Ordinances and Resolutions. – The following rules shall govern the enactment of ordinances and resolutions:

a.Legislative actions of a general and permanent character shall be enacted in the form of ordinances, while those which are of temporary character shall be passed in the form of resolutions. Matters relating to proprietary functions and to private concerns shall also be acted upon by resolution.

b.Proposed ordinances and resolutions shall be in writing and shall contain an assigned number, a title or caption, an enacting or ordaining clause, and the date of its proposed effectivity. In addition, every proposed ordinance shall be accompanied by a brief explanatory note containing the justification for its approval. It shall be signed by the author or authors and submitted to the secretary to the sanggunian who shall report the same to the sanggunian at its next meeting.

c.A resolution shall be enacted in the same manner prescribed for an ordinance, except that it need not go through a third reading for its final consideration unless decided otherwise by a majority of all the sanggunian members.

d.No ordinance or resolution shall be considered on second reading in any regular meeting unless it has been reported out by the proper committee to which it was referred or certified as urgent by the local chief executive.

e.Any legislative matter duly certified by the local chief executive as urgent, whether or not it is included in the calendar of business, may be presented and considered by the body at the same meeting without need of suspending the rules.

f.The secretary to the sanggunian of the province, city or municipality shall prepare copies of the proposed ordinance or resolution in the form it was passed on second reading, and shall distribute to each sanggunian member a copy thereof, except that a measure certified by the local chief executive concerned as urgent may be submitted for final voting immediately after debate or amendment during the second reading.

g.No ordinance or resolution passed by the sanggunian in a regular or special session duly called for the purpose shall be valid unless approved by a majority of the members present, there being a quorum. Any ordinance or resolution authorizing or directing the payment of money or creating liability, shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all the sanggunian members for its passage.

h.Upon the passage of all ordinances and resolutions directing the payment of money or creating liability, and at the request of any member, of any resolution or motion, the sanggunian shall record the ayes and nays. Each approved ordinance or resolution shall be stamped with the seal of the sanggunian and recorded in a book kept for the purpose.

None of these Rules were observed by the respondents Vice-Governor and the respondent Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Members concerned.

2. On March 1, 2011, a letter was sent by a certain Alfonso C. Tanseco and Edlyn G. Quesada, Senior Vice-President and Account Officer, respectively, of the Philippine National Bank (PNB for brevity) to respondent Governor Raul R. Lee containing indicative terms and conditions for the possible financing of various projects of the Provincial Government of Sorsogon. It shows that if PNB is chosen, the principal loan of THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) shall bear an interest rate of 5.38%. A photocopy of the letter is hereto attached as Annex “B” and the interest rate thereon as Annex “B-1″ and are made integral parts hereof.

3. On March 7, 2011, respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanades, Department Manager and Head of Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP for brevity) in Legazpi City, submitted a similar proposal to respondent Governor Lee also to extend a loan for the various projects of the Provincial Government of Sorsogon at the rate of 7.0%. A photocopy of the letter is hereto attached as Annex “C” and the interest rate thereon as Annex “C-1”.

4. On March 25, 2011 respondent Governor Lee wrote a letter to respondent Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero as the Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan regarding the convening of the “Finance Committee” to finalize their recommendation on the proposals of PNB and LBP. In said letter, Respondent Governor Lee was clearly instructing the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the passage of a Resolution to authorize the latter to enter into a loan agreement with PNB. Question is, what will now be the effect of the recommendation of the Finance Committee if the governor has already chosen a favored Financial Institution then, in this case the PNB. A photocopy of the said letter is hereto attached as Annex “D”.

5. On March 30, 2011 respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez, Dept. Manager/Head, LBP Legazpi City wrote another letter to Governor Lee. This time, LBP was offering the prevailing interest rate of 5.061%. A copy of said letter is hereto attached as Annex “E” and the new interest rate as Annex “E-1”.

6. Undersigned Complainant has been very consistently inquisitive as to the practice of irregularities and short cuts of procedures by the provincial government in securing loans because the respondents could not even account, liquidate nor properly come up with a report for previous loans and justify not only to the complainant but to the general public if the loans were for the their best interest and has the most reasonable terms for the Provincial Government. The Complainant in his own capacity and as a duly elected government official has been very vigil in inquiring the possible negative implications it has on the Provincial Government in securing loan in the form of letters, privilege speeches, inquiries in aid of legislation, as they remain the liabilities of the LGUs even after the term of the contracting officials has ended. Based on an on-going congressional inquiry on House Resolution 1196 of this 15th Congress of the House of Representatives, there has been a reported increase in most LGU bad loans. Such as in the case of the previous administration’s provincial loan of P260.0 million with LBP which has yet to be liquidated, reported and still remains existing and if proper safe guards are not in place this may happen again. Please find the hereto attached communications to respondent Hil Benedict Manzanades, Department Head of LBP Legazpi City and to LBP President Gilda E. Pico are hereto attached as Annexes “F”, “G”, “H” and “I”.

7. On May 12, 2011 both Alfonso C. Tanseco, Senior Vice President and Julius Ceazar P. Banog, Account Officer of the Philippine National Bank, sent another letter to respondent Gov. Lee and also offered a new interest rate, this time it’s 5%. A photocopy of the letter is hereto attached as Annex “J” and the new interest rate as Annex “J-1”.

8. A perusal of the proposals of the two financial institutions offering loan options, it shows that PNB offered the lowest interest rate, which is FIVE PERCENT (5%).

9. Thereafter, without offering any explanation, justification nor an evaluation by a government or provincial body, not even the so-called “Finance Committee” nor a Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee, respondent Governor Lee whimsically and on his own caprice set aside the PNB proposal and instead favored the proposal of the LBP. This can be shown by the letter dated May 17, 2011 Governor Lee to Vice Governor Escudero in his capacity as the Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and submitted a copy of the proposed Loan Agreement from PNB for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s perusal, review and ratification. The respondent Governor did not consider the proposal from the other financial or banking institution, at least, to make sure that the contract which is most advantageous to the Provincial Government could be had. A photocopy of the letter is hereto attached as Annexes “K” and the PNB loan agreement as Annex “L”.

10. And on June 21, 2011 respondent Presiding Officer and the concerned Sanggunian Panlalawigan Board Members in direct violation AGAIN of its own internal rules and regulations ( Art. 7 of the LGC IRR) and with obvious disrespect thereto, PASSED AND APPROVED, Resolution No. 92-2011, entitled “Resolution granting authority to the Provincial Governor on behalf of the Provincial Government to negotiate and enter into a Loan Agreement with Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of P350.0 million to finance urgent and priority Provincial Development Projects, enumerated per attached List and hereby approving the aforesaid enumerated projects pursuant to the approved Local Development Plan and Public Investment Program or approved Annual Procurement Program of the province.” This has already been the practice of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan since time immemorial in passing measures, ordinances and resolutions which the accused Governor Lee commands upon the concerned respondent Sanggunian Panlalawigan members. Respondent Presiding Officer and the concerned Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Members probably did not seem it necessary or important to even ask for a briefing, explanation nor justification from Governor Lee for the sudden change of heart nor did they required for any recommendation if any of the “Finance Committee” before overwhelmingly passing and approving the Resolution;

It is noteworthy that there was neither a single official committee hearing held nor any public consultation done for this purpose. This is a glaring show of conspiracy between the Governor on one hand and the Vice Governor and the concerned Board Members, because despite this the Sangguniang Panlalawigan expeditiously passed and approved Resolution No. 92-2011 LBP which has a higher interest rate of 5.061% (Please find hereto attached Photocopy of the Resolution as Annex “M”. Again, in direct Violation of Article 7 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code earlier cited.

This is direct violation of Section 3, Paragraphs (a) of R.A. No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” which states:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.

11. Further, the respondents Governor and Vice Governor as well as the aforementioned Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan did not even exert efforts nor initiate any actions necessary to secure concessional interest rates or such interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rate to justify their actions as if treating the provincial funds and decisions as their own personal funds.

Article 395 (c) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code provides:

“Government financial and other lending institutions are authorized to grant LGUs such loans, credit lines, advances, and other forms of indebtedness for projects and purposes referred in paragraph (b) hereof, preferably at concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing rates as may be authorized by the governing board of the financial or lending institution,”

Prevailing rates shall mean the Central Bank standard reference rate for medium-and long-term loans.”

12. The irregularities may be easily inferred from the sequence of events prior to the signing of the aforesaid Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Land Bank of the Philippines. There was no evaluation nor any recommendation from any government or provincial body or even the “Finance Committee,” to show that the list of projects is included in the Annual Investment Plan of the province for the loan. How can a handful elected officials now decide on their own which projects or endeavors are most beneficial to the province and the poor people of Sorsogon.

In a letter dated July 5, 2012 by Dominador O. Jardin, Prov’l. Gov’t. Dept. Head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO for brevity) to the complainant, he said that his Office could NOT come upon any feasibility study of the list of projects such as roads, bridges, buildings, farm to market roads and tourism facilities funded in the P350,000,000.00 LBP loan from available existing records. A copy of this letter is hereto attached as Annex “N” to show that not even the PPDO officer, was included nor was his office made a part of the official action of the provincial government to come up with the decision to justify and substantiate the loan application for some “priority projects “of the respondent Governor, respondent Vice Governor and respondent SP Members concerned. What is now the legal or even economic basis if any of such loan?

In direct non adherence of the provisions of the Local Government Code, specifically in Article 6 which provides for the official functions of the Planning Development Coordinator, which provides:

Article Six. – The Planning and Development Coordinator

“ X X X X X X X X

(b) The planning and development coordinator shall take charge of the planning and development office and shall:

(1) Formulate integrated economic, social, physical, and other development plans and policies for consideration of the local government development council;

(2) Conduct continuing studies, researches, and training programs necessary to evolve plans and programs for implementation;

(3) Integrate and coordinate all sectoral plans and studies undertaken by the different functional groups or agencies;

(4) Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the different development programs, projects, and activities in the local government unit concerned in accordance with the approved development plan;

(5) Prepare comprehensive plans and other development planning documents for the consideration of the local development council;

(6) Analyze the income and expenditure patterns, and formulate and recommend fiscal plans and policies for consideration of the finance committee of the local government unit concerned as provided under Title Five, Book II of this Code;

(7) Promote people participation in development planning within the local government unit concerned;

(8) Exercise supervision and control over the secretariat of the local development council; and

(c) Exercise such other powers and perform such other functions and duties as may be prescribed by law or ordinance.

And despite the absence of any or all legal requirements to support their reason for applying for a loan for a list of projects which is not even included in the Annual Investment Plan, accused Governor Lee wrote a Letter on October 5, 2011 to the Honorable Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan requiring the Presiding Officer and Vice Governor Escudero, the Chairs and Members of the Committee on Budget and Appropriations and the Committee on Public Works, Infrastructure and Highways to be present during the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on October 19, 2011, 9:00 a.m. at the LBP Legazpi City Office. (A photocopy of said letter is hereto attached as Annex “O”.

13. Obviously, the respondent members of the SP are all blinded and misguided, because based on a Certification dated October 13, 2011 issued by Otilla R. Marifosque, Records Officer III/Admin. Officer V and noted by William H. Delgado, SP Secretary/PGDH of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, there is no record of any document which could be accounted on file by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan which shows:

1. Request of the Governor endorsing to this Honorable Body for review, the Land Bank of the Philippines’ evaluation of the proposed P350 million loan of the Province of Sorsogon.

2. A draft Memorandum of Agreement between Land Bank of the Philippines and the Province of Sorsogon.

A photocopy of the Certification is hereto attached as Annex “P”. This clearly shows that the SP did not even have the privilege to scrutinize any loan agreement or proposal of the financial entity, and despite this the respondents passed and approved the accused governor’s for a resolution to enter into a loan. The reason or consideration for said approval to allow the governor to enter into said agreement is now the biggest question.

Again, the action of the accused Board Members is direct violation of Section 3, Paragraphs (a) of R.A. No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” which states:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.

14. Significantly, it is worth mentioning that the abovementioned Letter was dated October 5, 2011; while in a Letter of respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez, Dept. Manager and Head LBP Legazpi City Office dated October 17, 2011, it was only there that Manzanadez notified respondent Governor Lee about the LBP approval of the whooping P350.0 million loan. The said Letter was received by the Office of the Governor only on October 18, 2011. Please find the letter hereto attached as Annex “Q”.

A simple layman would not think that the approval of this controversial loan was pre-arranged by respondents Governor Lee with Vice Governor Escudero including members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as cohorts. The conspiracy appears to extend to the officers of the LBP who suddenly wrestled out the loan from PNB and kept the same unknown to other banking or financial institutions. Respondent knowing fully that PNB has the lowest interest rate.

The records shows that the respondent Governor, as early as October 5, 2011, already knew of the approval and the date, time and venue of the schedule for the signing of the LBP Loan Agreement way ahead of time.

Another major question now is that how come the loan was split into two loan agreements with different Interest Rates and Terms by the LBP with-out any prior notice or approval from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, considering that the authority of the governor was specifically for the whole amount of P350.0 Million and not for the aggregate amount of P100.0 million and another P250.0 Million.

15. Noteworthy to mention is that respondents Governor Lee, Vice-Governor Escudero and the concerned Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan particularly singled- out LBP despite the higher interest rate it offered compared to the PNB proposal as the only financial institution to service the loan being secured by the Provincial Government without even asking for any justification nor explanation from Governor Lee for choosing the LBP over the PNB offer.

On October 19, 2011, respondent Governor Lee signed the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13 in the amount of P100,000,000.00) and Loan Agreement (OTLF 2 in the amount of P250,000,000.00) with Land Bank of the Philippines represented by respondent Renato G. Eje, Vice President/ Head, ROV (herewith are the photocopies of the two (2) Loan Contracts between the Provincial Government of Sorsogon and Land Bank of the Philippines for a total sum of 350 Million Pesos, copies of said loan agreements are attached as Annexes “R” and “S”). Both LBP Loan Agreements have different Interest Rate and Term. The acts mentioned here is a direct violation of the provisions of the following:

Section 3 (g) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which provides:

“Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.”

16. The respondents Presiding Officer and the concerned Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan did not even bother to inquire as to the glaring conspiracy between respondent Governor Lee on one hand, and some officials of LBP for the purpose of securing a loan to the detriment and disadvantage of the Provincial Government. Where LBP offered 5.061% compared to the PNB’s lower interest rate of 5%. In fact, on October 21, 2011, respondents ratified, confirmed and approved Resolution No. 152-2011 entitled “Resolution ratifying, confirming and approving the Loan Agreement by and between the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Provincial Government of Sorsogon represented by Provincial Governor Raul R. Lee governing a loan in the amount of One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00). A photocopy of the Resolution No. 152-2011 is hereto attached as Annex ”T”.

The respondents Presiding Officer and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Members concerned, violated AGAIN a cardinal rule in the passage of Resolutions and Ordinance as provided for in the Article 7 of Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code earlier cited.

17. On May 21, 2012, respondents Vice Governor Escudero and the mentioned Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed and approved Ordinance No. 09-2012 entitled “An Ordinance governing/authorizing the proposed borrowing of the Province of Sorsogon with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of TWO HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P250,000,000.00) to fund various priority infrastructure projects, farm to marker roads, buildings and other tourism facilities.” A photocopy of Ordinance No. 09-2012 is hereto attached as Annex “U”.

The respondents Vice Governor and the concerned Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, violated AGAIN a cardinal rule in the passage of Resolutions and Ordinance as provided for in the Article 7 of Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code earlier cited.

And, this is also a direct violation of Section 3, Paragraphs (a) of R.A. No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” which states:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.

18. On June 1, 2012, Provincial Treasurer Efilda C. Nogales and Provincial Accountant Mercedes J. Ativo duly noted by Governor Lee sent to the Complainant the Status Report of the Payment for Infrastructure Projects funded under the P350,000,000.00 loan of the Provincial Government of Sorsogon with Land Bank of the Philippines. Accordingly, as of May 31, 2012 the amount paid by the Provincial Government of Sorsogon thru Provincial Treasurer Nogales and Provincial Accountant Ativo is SEVENTY TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT PESOS AND SIXTY ONE CENTAVOS (P72,925,948.61). Herewith is the photocopies of the June 1, 2012 Letter attached as Annex “V” and List of Projects Funded out of the P350 M Land Bank Loan as ANNEX “W”.

The release of the P72,925,948.61 is the result of the railroading of the P350,000,000.00 LBP loan, the Respondents have RAPED the funds of the Provincial Government of its money.

19. Worst, against the fundamental principle of public consultation, the loan was secured without such consultation with the members of the Provincial Development Council which fundamentally appropriates funds for the expenditures contained in the 20% Development Fund, and which is required under Sections 106 to 115 of the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

20. Further, Complainant has been very vigilant in provisions in the Loan Agreement which Complainant deems material and necessary to be explained to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan but to the stake holders as well because public funds will be used to pay the loan. The following queries were raised, to wit:

(i) where the percentage for “spread” will go and how it is charged;

(ii) why is there a Special Funder in the contract and nobody knows what it means;

(iii) why is the term of the loan conditional;

(iv) why are there two sets of loan agreement with different Interest Rate and Term for One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00) and another for Two Hundred Fifty Million Pesos (P250,000,000.00), respectively, when there is only one set of project to be financed; and,

(v) the life span of the project – the project may have already lost it serviceability but the loan is still unpaid. However, these queries remained unanswered. These are all contained in Complaint’s numerous privilege speeches which center on the anomalous in the manner most Provincial loans were hastily and conveniently facilitated by the Respondents with any regard for laid down laws, principles and procedures. Copies of the letters are hereto attached as Annex-9.

21. In concluding, the loan was obtained using the Internal Revenue Allotment as collateral and which required the: (i) public bidding as provided under Section 10 of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. (RA) 9184; (ii) approval of the Provincial Development Council (the body tasked to appropriate expenditures under the 20% Development Fund); (iii) without public consultation; (iv) securing the concessional rate of interest; (v) without first securing certifications from various agencies of the national government if the projects listed can be funded by the concerned agencies.

THUS, THE HEREIN QUESTIONED TWO (2) LBP LOAN AGREEMENTS ARE ILLEGAL, GROSSLY DETRIMENTAL AND DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON.

PRAYER

In view of the foregoing, it is respectfully prayed that:

1. The said LBP Loan Agreements (Term Loan 13 in the amount of P100,000,000.00) and Loan Agreement (OTLF 2 in the amount of P250,000,000.00) with Land Bank of the Philippines be declared illegal, therefore NULL and VOID.

2. The unreleased amount of the LBP Loan should be immediately held in abeyance and the released portion (as of May 31, 2012) in the amount of SEVENTY TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT PESOS AND SIXTY ONE CENTAVOS (P72,925,948.61) should be returned to the creditor bank.

3. The above-named respondents be charged criminally for violation of RA No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Law particularly Section 3 (a) and (g).

4. The above-named respondents be administratively charged for grave misconduct and serious dishonesty;

5. The above-named respondents (except for Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje) be preventively suspended immediately pending the investigation of this complaint pursuant to Section 24 of R.A. No. 6770; and,

6. Other reliefs and remedies as may be deemed just and equitable under the circumstances are likewise prayed.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature this 10th day of July 2012 at Quezon City, Philippines.

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Affiant

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 9th day of July 2012 at Quezon City, Philippines. Affiant exhibited to me his Driver’s License bearing number 3-90-102197 containing his picture and signature as competent evidence of his person.

ADMINISTERING OFFICER

VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION OF

NON-FORUM SHOPPING

I, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO, of legal age, a resident of Arellano Street, Poblacion Norte, Barcelona, Sorsogon after having been duly sworn in accordance with law, depose and state that:

1. I am a Complainant in the following cases:

A. Criminal complaint for violation of Section 3, Paragraph (a) and (g) of R.A. No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” against the following persons:

1. RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor;

2. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor;

3. REBECCA D. AQUINO;

5. FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III;

6. ARNULFO L. PERETE;

7. FRANCO ERIC O. RAVANILLA;

8. ANGEL E. ESCANDOR;

9. BENITO L. DOMA;

10. BERNARD H. HAO;

11. PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA;

12. NESON A. MARAÑA;

all incumbent Board Members of the Sangguniang

Panlalawigan of Sorsogon

13. HIL BENEDICT G. MANZANADES, Dept. Manager/Head, Land Bank of the Philippines in Legazpi City;

14. RENATO G. EJE, Vice President, Land Bank of the Philippines, Head Office.

B. Administrative complaint for Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty against the following persons:

1. RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor;

2. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor;

3. REBECCA D. AQUINO;

5. FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III;

6. ARNULFO L. PERETE;

7. FRANCO ERIC O. RAVANILLA;

8. ANGEL E. ESCANDOR;

9. BENITO L. DOMA;

10. BERNARD H. HAO;

11. PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA;

12. NESON A. MARAÑA;

all incumbent Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.

2. I caused the preparation of the foregoing complaint;

3. I have read the contents thereof and the facts stated therein are true and correct of my personal knowledge and/or on the basis of copies of documents and records in my possession;

4. I have not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency;

5. To the best of my knowledge and belief, no such action or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency;

6. If I should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency, I undertake to report that fact within five (5) days there from to this Honorable Ombudsman.

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Affiant

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 10th day of July 2012 at Quezon City affiant exhibiting to me his Driver’s License bearing number 3-90-102197 to expire on May 11, 2014 containing his picture and signature as competent evidence of his person.

NOTARY PUBLIC

Doc. No._____ ;

Page No. ____ ;

Book No._____ ;

Series of 2012.

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2 Comments

Filed under Graft and Corruption, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, Views and Concern, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Impeachment Complaint Against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

House of Representatives Complex
Constitution Hills, Quezon City

IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT OF RENATO C. CORONA AS CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES,

REPRESENTATIVES NIEL C. TUPAS JR., ET AL., (other complainants comprising at least one-third (1/3 of the total Members of the House of Representatives are indicated below), Complainants.

x—————————————————x

 

VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR IMPEACHMENT

Undersigned COMPLAINANTS most respectfully file this duly Verified Complaint for the Impeachment of the Honorable Renato C. Corona, currently the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (hereafter, “Respondent”), upon the grounds of Betrayal of Public Trust, Culpable Violation of the Constitution, and Graft and Corruption, as follows:

PREFATORY STATEMENT

Never has the position of Chief Justice, or the standing of the Supreme Court, as an institution, been so tainted with the perception of bias and partiality, as it is now: not even in the dark days of martial law, has the chief magistrate behaved with such arrogance, impunity, and cynicism. And yet, for the authentic rule of law to prevail, the public must have absolute trust and confidence in the justice, probity, integrity, and impartiality, of the members of the Supreme Court. To have any justice, much more, a Chief Justice, who does not live up to the expectation of being like Caesar’s wife –beyond reproach- is to fatally impede the ability of our institutions to function and dispense true justice to the people.

The Constitution provides a process for holding the judiciary to account, on the principle that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them”. The Constitution provides for a mechanism to remove high officials who betray public trust, commit culpable violations of the Constitution, and graft and corruption.

On May 17, 2010, a little over a month and a half before the new government was to be sworn in, Respondent Renato Corona was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to protect, aid, and abet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her efforts to escape accountability for her acts as President of the Philippines. His appointment was made in violation of the Constitution and by overturning long-established ethical and legal principles forbidding presidents from making midnight appointments. His assumption of the position of Chief Justice was thus made possible by a combination of violating the Constitution, and then finding ways to justify it, while ignoring examples of honourable and ethical behavior that should have made it impossible to accept, much less assume, office under such dubious and dishonorable circumstances.

The Supreme Court itself, in Aytona v. Castillo1, where it decided to uphold President Diosdado Macapagal in voiding the midnight appointments of his predecessor, Carlos P. Garcia, paid tribute to one of its former chiefs. Pointing out that President Elpidio Quirino offered a midnight appointment to former Chief Justice Manuel Moran: “Being ambassador in Spain and desiring to return to this Court even as associate justice, Moran was tendered an ad interim appointment thereto by President Quirino, after the latter had lost the election to President Magsaysay, and before leaving the Presidency. Said Ambassador declined to qualify being of the opinion that the matter should be left to the incoming newly-elected President.”

In tackling President Garcia’s midnight appointments, the Supreme Court observed that democratic respect and official self-restraint should have characterized Garcia’s actions: “When a nation embarks on electing its leadership, our Constitution, laws, judicial and historical precedents all emphasize that incumbents must be barred from abusing their powers to give themselves or their partisans undue advantage, thwart the public will, or harass and harm a successor’s administration by tying its hands by means of maliciously-motivated appointments.” Furthermore, “It is common sense to believe that after the proclamation of the election of President Macapagal, his was no more than a ‘care-taker’ administration. He was duty bound to prepare for the orderly transfer of authority the incoming President, and he should not do acts which he ought to know, would embarrass or obstruct the policies of his successor,” the Supreme Court said.

With this precedent in mind, and with the healthy attitude towards limiting official power at the close of an administration, so as not to sabotage the next, the present 1987 Constitution enshrined a clear prohibition on midnight appointments. When President Fidel V. Ramos tried to make judicial appointments in the closing days of his administration, the Supreme Court voided them2, restating the strict ban on appointments, not just to executive department positions, but the judiciary.

And yet, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo decided to ignore all past precedents, including the one established by her own father, President Diosdado Macapagal, in order to appoint a Chief Justice when by any measure – the history of the Court, as shown by the delicadeza of former Chief Justice Manuel Moran; the landmark case of Aytona; the 1987 Constitution itself; and the November 9, 1998 en banc Resolution of the Supreme Court voiding President Ramos’ midnight judicial appointments – such an appointment was viewed as dangerous and inimical to authentic democracy.

The decision of Mrs. Arroyo was premised on Respondent’s proven usefulness, and his ambitions combining with her political calculations to make him a willing partner in Mrs. Arroyo’s plan to evade and avoid accounting for her official actions. His usefulness and ruthlessness were proven from the time he served as her Presidential Chief of Staff, Presidential Spokesman, and as Acting Executive Secretary: all positions of the highest trust, confidence, and utility to her in her official and personal affairs.

His loyalty and subservience thus earned him an appointment to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice at a time when Mrs. Arroyo was facing numerous challenges and besieged by a public clamor for accountability.

Faced with a vacancy in the position of Chief Justice, she then went one step further and conspired with Respondent Corona to maneuver his appointment as Chief Justice: by breaking precedents established by her own father which premised midnight appointments as malicious interference in the ability of a newly-elected president to have a free hand in fulfilling his mandate.

In the Supreme Court, Respondent has consistently acted in a manner that protects Mrs. Arroyo, her legal maneuvers while in office, and the legal and administrative landmines she left behind, so as to impede the government’s efforts to exact accountability and justice.

His leadership of the Supreme Court has severely eroded public confidence in the very decision-making process of the High Court, due to the manner in which the Court has handed down decisions, only to reconsider, overturn, and overturn again, those decisions: resulting in an unprecedented state of flux in terms of the verdicts of the highest court in the land.

As Chief Justice, Respondent has been lavish in the spending of public funds; blind to ethical standards of behavior expected not only of him, but his family; intrigued and conspired against his fellow justices; and behaved more like a scofflaw than Chief Justice in refusing to disclose his assets and liabilities. Not only has he behaved in a manner that is inconsistent with the dignity and probity expected of a member of the high court, but has used his administrative powers for partisan political ends, to protect other officials put in office for the same reason he was appointed: to Mrs. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and ensure she evades accountability for her acts.
His ethical blindness, introduction of political partisanship at the expense of due process, and intrigue into the court at the expense of the reputation of his fellow justices, his undermining basic, and cherished principles of intellectual, financial, and ethical honesty by using his powers not to arrive at the truth, or hold the court to the highest standards, but instead, to cover up and excuse the shortcomings of the court, has betrayed public trust by eroding public confidence in the administration of justice.

Public office is premised on the maintenance of public trust; having betrayed that trust, Respondent Renato Corona is manifestly unfit to continue as Chief Justice. He must be impeached.

NATURE OF THIS ACTION

Therefore, this action for impeachment is brought against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in accordance with the provisions of Section 2, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, on the grounds of: (a) Betrayal of Public Trust; (b) Culpable Violation of the Constitution; and (c) Graft and Corruption.

THE PARTIES

Complainants are current Members of the House of Representative, responsible Filipino citizens and taxpayers, and are all of legal age. For purposes of the instant Verified Complaint for Impeachment, complainants may be served with pleadings, notices and processes at the House of Representatives, Constitution Hills, Batasan Complex, Quezon City. They bring this action for and on behalf of the People of the Republic of the Philippines by authority of the 1987 Constitution, consistent with their civic and constitutional duties as citizens, public servants, members of the bar, and Members of the House of Representatives as agents of the People, the various sectors of the nation and other people’s organizations.

Respondent RENATO C. CORONA is the incumbent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and is being sued in his official capacity. He may be served with summons and other processes at his office address at the Supreme Court Building, City of Manila.

GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

When Respondent assumed office as Chief Justice on May 17, 2010, he did so despite a Constitutionally-imposed ban on appointments which the Supreme Court made possible and permitted under an interpretation that strained credulity, logic and common-sense and even worse, effectively broke the law. The Justices that made this possible constitute a voting block that Respondent leads as Chief Justice.

The appointment was met with widespread public indignation and protests as it was obviously morally dubious. His appointment came just one week after a new President was already elected, and just a few weeks before a new President was to formally assume office. Despite the Constitutional prohibition, the precedent established in Aytona v. Castillo, which declared that an incumbent President appointing officials after the election of his successor, as President Diosdado Macapagal argued, represented malicious sabotage of the expressed will of the people; and despite the Supreme Court’s own history, which presented the sterling example of a former Chief Justice, Manuel Moran, who declined reappointment to the court by President Elpidio Quirino as it constituted a midnight appointment, Respondent eagerly accepted his position. This was notwithstanding the fact that of the three branches of Government, the Judiciary was the most greatly dependent upon moral ascendancy and ethical integrity as the foundation of its power and legitimacy. However, he attempted to camouflage his brazen ambition by taking his oath of office before then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in secret, supposedly at ten in the morning of May 17, 2010, beyond the scrutiny of the mass media and the public3.

Respondent’s voting pattern and actions after his appointment as Associate Justice and later, as Chief Justice, as discussed below, have been anything but fair and impartial.

In the year that Respondent has presided over the Court of Last Resort, the Filipino people’s faith in the justice system has been greatly undermined rather than uplifted, through a series of dubious decisions engineered by him.

Instead of assuring and strengthening the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary, Respondent has instead demonstrated he is predisposed to favor and protect Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had appointed him to his position as Chief Justice in brazen disregard of the Constitution.

In fact, results of the Social Weather Stations Survey’s net satisfaction ratings in the third quarter of 2011 indicate that among the country’s top officials, only Respondent’s satisfaction ratings have been a “zero” since September 2010, i.e., his satisfaction rating is consistently negated by his dissatisfaction rating4.

Along the way, Respondent, contrary to his pronouncements, has allowed and even encouraged the deterioration of the respect and trust due to the High Court by putting obstacles in the path of the people’s search for truth against graft and corruption; encroaching on the exclusive power of the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings, providing a semblance of legal cover to give Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband the opportunity to escape prosecution and frustrate the ends of justice; permitting the High Court to repeatedly flip-flop on its own decisions in violation of its own rules; excusing plagiarism in contrast to the stringent standards expected of ordinary college students and teachers; and even reportedly engaging not only in illicitly acquiring assets of high value but even resorting to petty graft and corruption for his own personal profit and convenience.

The Complainants hereby accuse Respondent of numerous acts that comprise: (a) Betrayal of Public Trust; (b) Culpable Violation of the Constitution; and (c) Graft and Corruption, that render him absolutely unfit for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT

Respondent betrayed the Public Trust, committed Culpable Violation of the Constitution and Graft and Corruption in the following manner:

ARTICLE I

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST THROUGH HIS TRACK RECORD MARKED BY PARTIALITY AND SUBSERVIENCE IN CASES INVOLVING THE ARROYO ADMINISTRATION FROM THE TIME OF HIS APPOINTMENT AS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE AND UNTIL HIS DUBIOUS APPOINTMENT AS A MIDNIGHT CHIEF JUSTICE TO THE PRESENT.

ARTICLE II

RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND/OR BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST WHEN HE FAILED TO DISCLOSE TO THE PUBLIC HIS STATEMENT OF ASSETS, LIABILITIES, AND NET WORTH AS REQUIRED UNDER SEC. 17, ART. XI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION.

ARTICLE III

RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION AND BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST BY FAILING TO MEET AND OBSERVE THE STRINGENT STANDARDS UNDER ART. VIII, SECTION 7 (3) OF THE CONSTITUTION THAT PROVIDES THAT “[A] MEMBER OF THE JUDICIARY MUST BE A PERSON OF PROVEN COMPETENCE, INTEGRITY, PROBITY, AND INDEPENDENCE” IN ALLOWING THE SUPREME COURT TO ACT ON MERE LETTERS FILED BY A COUNSEL WHICH CAUSED THE ISSUANCE OF FLIP-FLOPPING DECISIONS IN FINAL AND EXECUTORY CASES; IN CREATING AN EXCESSIVE ENTANGLEMENT WITH MRS. ARROYO THROUGH HER APPOINTMENT OF HIS WIFE TO OFFICE; AND IN DISCUSSING WITH LITIGANTS REGARDING CASES PENDING BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT.

ARTICLE IV

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST AND/OR COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION WHEN HE BLATANTLY DISREGARDED THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION OF POWERS BY ISSUING A “STATUS QUO ANTE” ORDER AGAINST THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN THE CASE CONCERNING THE IMPEACHMENT OF THEN OMBUDSMAN MERCEDITAS NAVARRO-GUTIERREZ.

ARTICLE V

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST THROUGH WANTON ARBITRARINESS AND PARTIALITY IN CONSISTENTLY DISREGARDING THE PRINCIPLE OF RES JUDICATA IN THE CASES INVOLVING THE 16 NEWLY-CREATED CITIES, AND THE PROMOTION OF DINAGAT ISLAND INTO A PROVINCE.

ARTICLE VI

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST BY ARROGATING UNTO HIMSELF, AND TO A COMMITTEE HE CREATED, THE AUTHORITY AND JURISDICTION TO IMPROPERLY INVESTIGATE A JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXCULPATING HIM. SUCH AUTHORITY AND JURISDICTION IS PROPERLY REPOSED BY THE CONSTITUTION IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VIA IMPEACHMENT.

ARTICLE VII

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST THROUGH HIS PARTIALITY IN GRANTING A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (TRO) IN FAVOR OF FORMER PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO AND HER HUSBAND JOSE MIGUEL ARROYO IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO ESCAPE PROSECUTION AND TO FRUSTRATE THE ENDS OF JUSTICE, AND IN DISTORTING THE SUPREME COURT DECISION ON THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE TRO IN VIEW OF A CLEAR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE CONDITIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT’S OWN TRO.

ARTICLE VIII

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST AND/OR COMMITTED GRAFT AND CORRUPTION WHEN HE FAILED AND REFUSED TO ACCOUNT FOR THE JUDICIARY DEVELOPMENT FUND (JDF) AND SPECIAL ALLOWANCE FOR THE JUDICIARY (SAJ) COLLECTIONS.

DISCUSSION OF THE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT

I. RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST THROUGH HIS TRACK RECORD MARKED BY PARTIALITY AND SUBSERVIENCE IN CASES INVOLVING THE ARROYO ADMINISTRATION FROM THE TIME OF HIS APPOINTMENT AS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE WHICH CONTINUED TO HIS DUBIOUS APPOINTMENT AS A MIDNIGHT CHIEF JUSTICE AND UP TO THE PRESENT.

1.1. Sec. 15, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution clearly prohibits the President from making appointments within two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, except for temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety. In the case of In Re Appointments Dated March 30, 1998 of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the Regional Trial Court of Branch 62, Bago City and of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City5, the Supreme Court rules that this provision bars the appointment of members of the judiciary.

1.2. However, in the case of Arturo de Castro v. Judicial and Bar Council and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et. al., In Re Applicability Of Section 15, Article VII Of The Constitution To Appointments To The Judiciary, Estelito P. Mendoza, Philippine Bar Association vs. JBC, et al6. , the Supreme Court reversed the Valenzuela ruling and held that the Constitutional prohibition singularly does not apply to the Supreme Court, implying that it applies only to the executive department and all other courts lower than the Supreme Court. Despite the obviously negative and confidence-shattering impact that a “midnight appointment” by an outgoing President would have on the people’s faith in the Supreme Court and the judicial system, Respondent eagerly, shamelessly, and without even a hint of self-restraint and delicadeza, accepted his midnight appointment as Chief Justice by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

1.3 All judges must “ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.”7 In addition, “(t)he behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the people’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done.”8 These are required under two of the most important sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct, specifically Canon 2 on Integrity. However, as a matter of public record, from his very promotion to the highest position in the judicial hierarchy, Respondent has violated these premier provisions.

1.4. Indeed, Newsbreak reported that the voting record of Respondent “shows that he has consistently sided with the administration in politically-significant cases” (i.e. Arroyo’s policies and administration). Newsbreak further reported when it tracked the voting pattern of Supreme Court justices, “Corona lodged a high 78 percent in favor of Arroyo” – and this was before his midnight appointment as Chief Justice.9

1.5. This trend continued, even worsened, betraying Respondent’s predisposition to side with Arroyo or her interest at any and all costs – even at the cost of prostituting the noble cause of justice.

1.6. Thus, in Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010,10 Respondent dealt the fatal blow to Executive Order No. 1, dated July 30, 2010, entitled “Creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010″. Simply, Respondent prevented any such body from being created now or in the future – thereby protecting his patroness from investigation.

1.7. Another case: the Status Quo Ante Order in Bai Omera D. Dianalan-Lucman v. Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr,11 is equally appalling. Seemingly on cue, Respondent’s Supreme Court would not be content against simply nullifying Executive Order No. 1 dated July 30, 2010. To extend Arroyo’s control and influence over the new administration done through massive last-minute appointments in critical public positions, Respondent would again find fault in Executive Order No. 2 dated July 30, 2010.

1.8. Executive Order No. 2 was issued precisely to revoke Midnight Appointments made by the Arroyo Administration in departments, agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations. These Midnight Appointments were made possible by Mrs. Arroyo churning out appointments for plum posts in government owned and controlled agencies, on a daily basis and backdating them to before the constitutional ban on appointments during an election period.12 Further, such appointments had the effect of eroding the integrity of the executive. Likewise, the same was made in complete disregard of the intent and spirit of the constitutional ban on midnight appointments, effectively depriving the new administration of the power to make its own appointments to these positions. It was for these reasons that an Order from the Executive needed to be made in order to prevent the further degradation of the people’s trust and confidence in our government institutions.

1.9. Yet, consistent with his pattern of supporting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Respondent’s Supreme Court issued a Status Quo Ante Order to prevent the implementation of Executive Order No. 2. Again, the instant case reflects an affront to the independence of the judiciary. It is likewise a case of judicial overreach upon a co-equal branch of government meant to derail its efforts to curb corruption by successively nullifying its issuances.

1.10. As Associate and Chief Justice, Respondent has ignored ethical precedents, behaved with a lack of integrity, casting the Supreme Court in disrepute. Judges are expected to be beyond reproach, financially, ethically, and the use of their authority and powers. Partisanship, a wilful refusal to recuse himself so as to avoid any possible imputation of a conflict of interest, including the paying back of debts of political gratitude or loyalty, are a betrayal of public trust and contrary to the canons of judicial conduct.

1.11. As for the case of Benigno Simeon Aquino III v. Commission on Elections, supra, the Supreme Court denied the petition of then Sen. Benigno S. Aquino III against RA No. 9716 creating and/or redefining the first and second districts of Camarines Sur. It was widely believed and confirmed by subsequent events, that the districts were re-defined and created to assure that the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s son, Dato Arroyo, could run and win in the newly created district to avoid a contest between the president’s son and DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya who wanted to return to Camarines Sur to run in his old district. This new district was upheld contrary to the explicit constitutional requirement13 that mandates a minimum population of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) for the creation of a legislative district.

1.12. Then Sen. Aquino argued that Republic Act No. 9716 creating the first and second districts of Camarines Sur was unconstitutional, because the proposed first district would end up with a population of less than 250,000 or only 176,383. Despite this clear fact, Respondent Corona voted in violation of the Constitution against then Sen. Aquino’s petition.

1.13. Worse, Respondent, who at that time was already being considered by Mrs. Arroyo as the next Chief Justice, did not inhibit himself. The simple fact is Respondent’s patroness, was the mother of the principal beneficiary of the creation of the new district. Thus, a vote in favor of the new district was a vote in favor of Mrs. Arroyo’s son and, would thus endear him more to Mrs. Arroyo and ensure his appointment. In simplest terms, Respondent wanted and needed something from Mrs. Arroyo (i.e., his appointment as next Chief Justice); Mrs. Arroyo, in turn, wanted or needed something for Respondent (i.e. to create a new legislative district for her son, Dato Arroyo). The People can do the math.

1.14. Below is a table that tracks Respondent’s voting pattern in cases highly impressed with public interest and involving the Arroyo government’s frontal assaults on constitutional rights prior to his appointment as Chief Justice. As the table will show, Respondent’s vote is dictated not by his conscience but his loyalty and subservience to his appointing power:

Case

Supreme Court Ruling

Corona’s Vote

Information Technology v. COMELEC and Mega Pacific (January 13, 2004) Mega-Pacific contract voided for not undergoing public bidding Dissented
Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary (February 03, 2004) The President, in issuing Proc. Nos. 427, 435, and Gen. Order No. 4, did not exceed her powers as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief Concurred
Tecson v. COMELEC (March 03, 2004) Dismissed petitions to disqualify Fernando Poe, Jr. (Arroyo’s rival candidate for the presidency) as a presidentiable on the ground that he is not a natural-born Filipino Dissented
Pimentel v. Ermita (December 13, 2005) The President may make appointments “in an acting capacity” without seeking confirmation from the Commission on Appointments even when Congress is in session(i.e., not just ad interim appointments). Concurred
Senate v. Ermita (April 20, 2006) EO 464 issued by Mrs. Arroyo which allowed executive department heads to invoke executive privilege is valid Concurred
Gudani v. Senga (August 15, 2006) The presidential directive which prohibited certain officials of the Executive branch and the AFP from appearing in Congressional hearings without the President’s consent, is valid Concurred
Lambino v. COMELEC (October 25, 2006) Lambino’s/Sigaw ng Bayan’s petition for COMELEC to allow a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution (to convert our form of government from presidential to parliamentary; thus, giving Arroyo the opportunity to become the prime minister and evade the Constitutional prohibition on re-election as President) was dismissed for having failed to comply with the Constitutional requirements of conducting a people’s initiative. Dissented
David v. Arroyo (May 03, 2006) Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 is partly constitutional, partly unconstitutional Dissented(Joined Tinga’s dissent)Tinga voted to dismiss all the petitions on the following grounds:

1. Since PP 1017, infosar as it is an exercise of the President’s calling out powers, is similar to PP 427, it should likewise be sustained, following the ruling in Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary (2004)

2. The takeover of the Daily Tribune is no longer a justiciable issue. Nevertheless, Tinga also commented on the President’s emergency takeover powers in this wise: while it is fundamentally sound to construe Art. XII, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution as requiring congressional approval before a takeover may be effected, its wording is ambivalent; thus, it is also constitutionally permissible for the President to exercise takeover powers even without Congressional approval in exceptional instances, subject only to judicial review.

3. Dissented from the majority ruling that the overbreadth and void for vagueness doctrines apply only to facial challenges of free speech statutes. Only criminal statutes, and not free speech cases, may be challenged on the ground that they are void for vagueness. Free speech cases are more properly challenged on the ground of overbreadth. Furthermore, PP 1017 “neither creates nor diminishes any rights or obligations whatsoever”.

4. General Order No. 5 is likewise valid because even if premised on a state of emergency, it “cannot authorize the military or police to ignore or violate constitutional or statutory rights, or enforce laws completely alien to the suppression of lawless violence.”

5. The Supreme Court should not pass upon the individual claims of injury arising from an examination of PP 1017 and GO 5 as applied, since it is not a trier of facts

Chavez v. Gonzalez (February 15, 2008) Wiretapped conversations between Arroyo and Garcillano not prohibited from airing Dissented
Neri v. Senate (March 25, 2008) Neri not liable for contempt for not appearing in Senate hearings on NBN-ZTE Deal, which was linked to Arroyo and her spouse, because his testimony is covered by executive privilege Concurred
Akbayan v. Aquino (July 16, 2008) JPEPA communications covered by executive privilege exercised by Mrs. Arroyo, and not for public disclosure Concurred
Benigno Simeon Aquino III v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 189793 (April 7, 2010) Denied the petition of then Sen. Benigno S. Aquino III and upheld RA 9716 creating the first and second districts of Camarines Sur (the districts were created to assure that Arroyo’s son, Dato Arroyo, will run uncontested since then DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya was returning to Camarines Sur to run again for Congress) contrary to the explicit constitutional requirement[1] that requires a minimum population of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) for the creation of a legislative district. Then Sen. Aquino argued that Republic Act No. 9716 that created the first and second districts of Camarines Sur is unconstitutional, because the proposed first district will end up with a population of less than 250,000 or only 176,383. Despite this clear fact, Corona voted against then Sen. Aquino’s petition in violation of the Constitution. Concurred – did not inhibit despite being already considered as one of the nominees for the next Chief Justice by the mother (then PGMA) of the principal beneficiary of the creation of the new district. Thus a vote in favor of the new district is a vote in favor of then PGMA’s son and, thus, GMA.

1.15. Aside from the specific cases herein discussed, the following cases decided by the Court with Respondent as Chief Justice further betray his consistent lack of independence and bias towards protecting Arroyo:

Case

Supreme Court Ruling

CJ Corona’s Vote

Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010, G.R. No. 192935 (December 7, 2010) Executive Order No. 1 creating the Truth Commission was declared unconstitutional. Corona concurred.
Bai Omera D. Dianalan-Lucman v. Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., G.R. No. 193519 (October 12, 2010) EO2 Status Quo Ante Order – The Supreme Court required the parties to observe the STATUS QUO prevailing before the issuance of Executive Order No. 2 dated July 30, 2010. The Corona SC once again thwarted the government’s efforts to question the midnight appointments made by Arroyo to various positions in government, and throw a monkey wrench at the new administration’s efforts to re-organize the government and get rid of corrupt government officials.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo v. Hon. Leila de Lima, et al., G.R. Nos. 199034; Jose Miguel T. Arroyo v. Hon. Leila de Lima, et al., G.R. No. 199046 (November 15, 2011) Temporary restraining order (TRO) issued against the watchlist order issued against the Arroyos. The known Arroyo voting block in the Supreme Court, led by Respondent, hastily issued a TRO against the watchlist order, thereby giving an opportunity for the Arroyos to escape from the jurisdiction of the Philippines. The TRO was issued despite the glaring inconsistencies in the petition of former President Arroyo, as cited by Associate Justice Sereno. The same voting block held the TRO immediately executory despite non-compliance with a pre-condition.

II. RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND/OR BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST WHEN HE FAILED TO DISCLOSE TO THE PUBLIC HIS STATEMENT OF ASSETS, LIABILITIES, AND NET WORTH AS REQUIRED UNDERSEC. 17, ART. XI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION.

2.1. It is provided for in Art. XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution that “a public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law. ”

2.2. Respondent failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required by the Constitution.

2.3. It is also reported that some of the properties of Respondent are not included in his declaration of his assets, liabilities, and net worth, in violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.

2.4. Respondent is likewise suspected and accused of having accumulated ill-gotten wealth, acquiring assets of high values and keeping bank accounts with huge deposits. It has been reported that Respondent has, among others, a 300-sq. meter apartment in a posh Mega World Property development at the Fort in Taguig. Has he reported this, as he is constitutionally-required under Art. XI, Sec. 17 of the Constitution in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)? Is this acquisition sustained and duly supported by his income as a public official? Since his assumption as Associate and subsequently, Chief Justice, has he complied with this duty of public disclosure?

III. RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION AND BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST BY FAILING TO MEET AND OBSERVE THE STRINGENT STANDARDS UNDER ART. VIII, SECTION 7 (3) OF THE CONSTITUTION THAT PROVIDES THAT “[A] MEMBER OF THE JUDICIARY MUST BE A PERSON OF PROVEN COMPETENCE, INTEGRITY, PROBITY, AND INDEPENDENCE” IN ALLOWING THE SUPREME COURT TO ACT ON MERE LETTERS FILED BY A COUNSEL WHICH CAUSED THE ISSUANCE OF FLIP-FLOPPING DECISIONS IN FINAL AND EXECUTORY CASES; IN CREATING AN EXCESSIVE ENTANGLEMENT WITH MRS. ARROYO THROUGH HER APPOINTMENT OF HIS WIFE TO OFFICE; AND IN DISCUSSING WITH LITIGANTS REGARDING CASES PENDING BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT.

3.1. Respondent was appointed to the Supreme Court on April 9, 2002 by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Prior to his appointment, he served Arroyo for many years as her chief of staff, and spokesman when she was Vice-President, and later as her Presidential Chief-of-Staff, Presidential Spokesman, and Acting Executive Secretary.

3.2. Art. VIII, Section 7 (3) of the 1987 Constitution provides that “[a] Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.” Members of the Judiciary are expected to have these four qualities mandated by the Constitution because these form the very foundation for maintaining people’s faith in the Judiciary. Thus, it has been ruled by no less than the Supreme Court that:

“People who run the judiciary, particularly justices and judges, must not only be proficient in both the substantive and procedural aspects of the law, but more importantly, they must possess the highest degree of integrity and probity and an unquestionable moral uprightness both in their public and private lives.”

Although every office in the government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and uprightness than a seat in the Judiciary. High ethical principles and a sense of propriety should be maintained, without which the faith of the people in the Judiciary so indispensable in an orderly society cannot be preserved.

3.3. Just very recently, the flip-flopping of the Corona Court on Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., et al. – the recall of a September 7, 2011 Decision of the Supreme Court’s Second Division denying a Second Motion for Reconsideration of the 2008 ruling in favor of FASAP, on a mere letter from Philippine Airlines’ counsel Atty. Estelito Mendoza (who is the reported lead counsel of Respondent’s patroness; see Annexes “F” to “F-3”, infra), and without requiring a comment from or notice to the other parties to hear their side, betray Respondent’s lack of ethical principles and his disdain for fairness which has eroded the faith of the people in the Judiciary – for Respondent himself caused and allowed the violation of the adverse party’s constitutional right to due process.

3.3.1. The matter is made worse since the recall is reported to have been at the instance of Respondent Corona, who admitted that in 2008, he inhibited from the case. How then can he justify his interference in this case today? Why take part or interfere now?

3.3.2. What is even more disturbing is that under Respondent Corona’s watch as Chief Justice, the Supreme Court appears to be acting on mere letters kept hidden from those concerned and the other parties – and all from the same lawyer – Estelito Mendoza.

3.3.3 It must be recalled that the same Estelito Mendoza wrote a personal letter to Respondent which also caused the flip-flopping in the League of Cities v. COMELEC case. It must also be recalled that Estelito Mendoza is also the same person who filed Administrative Matter No. 10-2-5-SC, and was among the petitioners in the Supreme Court who posited that Mrs. Arroyo may appoint the next Chief Justice despite the constitutional ban; and through which petition, made it possible for the Supreme Court to legitimize and provide not only a strained but obviously erroneous basis for the midnight and constitutionally-prohibited appointment of Respondent.

3.3.4. In this connection, Respondent’s voting pattern even prior to his dubious appointment as Chief Justice, clearly proves a bias and manifest partiality for Mrs. Arroyo. It must be noted that under the law, bias need not be proven to actually exist; it is enough that the Chief Justice’s actions lend themselves to a reasonable suspicion that he does not possess the required probity and impartiality. In Rosauro v. Villanueva, the Supreme Court held that:
“A judge should not only render a just, correct and impartial decision but should do so in such a manner as to be free from any suspicion as to its fairness and impartiality and as to his integrity. While a judge should possess proficiency in law in order that he can competently construe and enforce the law, it is more important that he should act and behave in such a manner that the parties before him should have confidence in his impartiality. Thus, it is not enough that he decides cases without bias and favoritism. Nor is it sufficient that he in fact rids himself of prepossessions. His actuations should moreover inspire that belief. Like Caesar’s wife, a judge must not only be pure but beyond suspicion.” [Underscoring supplied]

3.3.5. The bar is higher for judges, and by inference, highest for Justices and most especially the Chief Justice, because “the character of a judge is perceived by the people not only through his official acts but also through his private morals, as reflected in his external behavior.” Thus,

a judge should, in a pending or prospective litigation before him, be scrupulously careful to avoid such action as may reasonably tend to waken the suspicion that his social or business relations or friendships constitute an element in determining his judicial course.” [Underscoring and emphases supplied]

3.3.6. If a decision that is legally correct or justifiable can suffer from a suspicion of impartiality, more so will a decision that is entirely unsupported by legal reasoning. Thus, it has been held that a judge who “is ignorant of fairly elementary and quite familiar legal principles and administrative regulations, has a marked penchant for applying unorthodox, even strange theories and concepts in the adjudication of controversies, exhibits indifference to, and even disdain for due process and the rule of law, applies the law whimsically, capriciously, and oppressively, and displays bias and partiality”, is unfit to be a judge.

3.4. Respondent further compromised his independence when his wife, Cristina Corona, accepted an appointment on March 23, 2007 from Mrs. Gloria Arroyo to the Board of the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC). The JHMC is a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), a government-owned-and-controlled corporation created under Republic Act No. 7227.

3.4.1. Shortly after assuming her well-paying job at JHMC, serious complaints were filed against Mrs. Corona by her fellow Board members, as well as from the Management and rank-and-file employees of the JHMC. Mrs. Corona’s election as Director and President was reportedly withdrawn in a resolution passed by the Board of Directors of JHMC because of acts of misconduct and negligence. Copies of the JHMC Board Resolution withdrawing Mrs. Corona’s election as JHMC President and Chairman, the Position Paper prepared by the JHMC Management, and the resignation letter of retired Court of Appeals Justice Teodoro Regino from the JHMC Board of Directors, all of which chronicle the serious irregularities committed by Mrs. Corona, are attached hereto as Annexes “G”, “H” and “I”, respectively.

3.4.2. Instead of acting upon the serious complaints against Mrs. Corona, Mrs. Arroyo instructed all members of the JHMC to tender their courtesy resignations immediately. After the resignations, Mrs. Corona was retained and even promoted after President Arroyo expressed her desire for Mrs. Corona’s election as OIC Chairman of the JHMC Board.

3.4.3. Despite the numerous other complaints against Mrs. Corona, including one from Baguio Mayor Reinaldo Bautista where he protested Mrs. Corona’s move to replace the members of the JHMC Management Team, in violation of the terms of City Council Resolution No. 362 which protects the security of tenure in the JHMC of local residents occupying key positions in the corporation (a copy of his letter dated July 25, 2007 is attached as Annex “J”), and despite adverse findings in the COA report that also established that she was improperly holding office in St. Ignatius Village in Quezon City, Mrs. Corona was not removed from her position. She was even allowed to rack up unnecessary expenses totalling Six Hundred Ninety Thousand And One Hundred Eighty-Three Pesos (P690,183.00) which she spent holding office in Quezon City when JHMC’s operations were all in Baguio City. A copy of the COA report is attached as Annex “K”.

3.4.4. Mrs. Corona’s job was ensured with specific instructions of Mrs. Arroyo expressed through several desire letters issued to the BCDA specifically to ensure the election of Mrs. Corona to several positions in the JHMC, copies of which are attached as Annexes “L”, “L-1” and “L-2”. This also explains why despite the serious complaints against Mrs. Corona, Mrs. Arroyo never removed her from JHMC but instead kept on promoting and protecting her.

3.4.5. Mrs. Corona’s appointment is a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct that provides:
Judges shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.” [Sec. 4, Canon 1; emphasis and underscoring supplied]

Judges shall not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance their private interests, or those of a member of their family or of anyone else, nor shall they convey or permit others to convey the impression that anyone is in a special position improperly to influence them in the performance of judicial duties.” [Sec. 8, Canon 4; emphasis and underscoring supplied]

3.4.6. The New Code of Judicial Conduct further provides that it is unethical for a magistrate and members of his family to ask for or receive any gift in exchange for any act done or to be done by the judge in the course of his judicial functions:

“Judges and members of their families shall neither ask for, nor accept, any gift, bequest, loan or favor in relation to anything done or to be done or omitted to be done by him or her in connection with the performance of judicial duties.” [Sec. 8, Canon 4; emphasis and underscoring supplied]

“Judges shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to be free therefrom to a reasonable observer.” [Sec. 5, Canon 1; emphasis and underscoring supplied]

3.4.7. Clearly, a grossly improper (although personally and mutually beneficial) relationship between the Respondent and Mrs. Arroyo was created when Mrs. Corona was appointed to the JHMC. The JHMC is a GOCC under the Executive Department headed by Mrs. Arroyo. The appointment of Mrs. Corona in JHMC as its highest management officer is clearly intended to secure the loyalty and vote of Respondent in the Supreme Court. In a similar case, the Supreme Court found it unethical for the judge to allow his daughters to accept the business offer of persons who have a pending case before the judge’s court:

“The New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary prescribes that judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer. Thus, judges are to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities. Likewise, they are mandated not to allow family, social or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. The Code clearly prohibits judges or members of their families from asking for or accepting, any gift, bequest, loan or favor in relation to anything done or to be done or omitted to be done by him or her in connection with the performance of judicial duties. Respondent judge failed to live up to these standards. Despite knowledge of Onofre and Mariano’s intentions in offering the business to his daughters, respondent judge allowed his daughters to accept the offer of business partnership with persons who have pending cases in his court.”

3.4.8. Respondent should be held to even higher standards because he is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Since joining JHMC, Mrs. Corona received a substantial salary, aside from other perks of the job, including cars and various travel opportunities. In exchange, as discussed above, the voting record of Respondent in the Supreme Court indicate an unmistakable pattern of favoring Arroyo in cases brought before the Supreme Court challenging her policies and actions. All these foregoing facts betray the Respondent’s lack of qualification as Chief Justice as he has demonstrated a lack of competence, integrity, probity, or independence.

3.4.9. Respondent reportedly dipped his hands into public funds to finance personal expenses. Numerous personal expenses that have nothing to do with the discharge of his official functions, such as lavish lunches and dinners, personal travels and vacations, and fetes and parties, have reportedly been charged by the Respondent to judicial funds. In essence, Respondent has been reportedly using the judicial fund as his own personal expense account, charging to the Judiciary personal expenditures.

3.4.10. It is therefore apparent that there is reasonable ground to hold Respondent for the reported misuse of public funds, and in acts that would qualify as violations of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, including malversation of public funds, and use of public funds for private purposes.

3.5. In addition, Respondent Corona failed to maintain high standards of judicial conduct in connection with the Vizconde massacre case, in the process, casted doubt upon the integrity of the Supreme Court itself.

3.5.1. All judges must “exhibit and promote high standards of judicial conduct in order to reinforce public confidence in the judiciary, which is fundamental to the maintenance of judicial independence.” To do so, it is required “that his or her conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the public, the legal profession and litigants in the impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary.” Included in this prescription of what constitutes acceptable and non-acceptable conduct is that rule that judges “shall not knowingly, while a proceeding is before or could come before them, make any comment that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome of such proceeding or impair the manifest fairness of the process. Nor shall judges make any comment in public or otherwise that might affect the fair trial of any person or issue.” Likewise, “(j)udges shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice towards any person or group on irrelevant grounds.”

3.5.2. Despite these strictures, Respondent has directly, deliberately, and shamelessly attempted to destroy the credibility and standing of the Supreme Court with respect to one important and publicly-celebrated case that was before it on automatic appeal: the celebrated Vizconde Massacre case.

3.5.3. Sometime in early September 2010, Lauro Vizconde, surviving member of the Vizconde family who were murdered in 1991, and Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) paid a courtesy call upon the Respondent in his chambers after his appointment as Chief Justice.

3.5.4. During the courtesy call, Vizconde asked the Respondent about the status of the multiple murder case against Hubert Webb and the other accused, which was at the time pending appeal before the Supreme Court. Despite the obvious impropriety, Respondent, instead of rebuffing Vizconde for asking the questions, engaged Vizconde in a personal and ex-parte conversation regarding a case then pending consideration before the Supreme Court.

3.5.5. Worse, in the course of the conversation, Respondent told Vizconde, in the presence of Jimenez, that fellow Justice Antonio Carpio was allegedly lobbying for the acquittal of Hubert Webb. According to Vizconde in a sworn Affidavit dated January 27, 2011, Respondent said that “Talagang brina-braso at ini-impluwensiyahan ni Carpio ang kanyang mga kasama para mapawalang-sala si Webb [Carpio was really arm-twisting and influencing his colleagues to acquit Webb],” or words to that effect. Jimenez corroborated Vizconde’s statement in his own sworn Affidavit dated January 26, 2011.

3.5.6. The fact that Respondent spoke with Vizconde regarding a case pending before the Supreme Court is in itself already a serious breach of the rule of confidentiality that must be maintained by the Court with respect to cases pending before it, as well as the deliberations of the members of the Court. Such confidentiality is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that members of the Court are insulated from lobbying and pressure coming from any of the litigants of a pending case. Respondent’s action, as Chief Justice, is in itself unbecoming and unworthy of a Chief Justice.

3.5.7. Indeed, in Re: Letter of Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, the Supreme Court sanctioned a justice of the Court of Appeals for a similar act of discussing a pending case with interested parties for having “failed to maintain the high standard of independence and propriety that is required of him.” The Supreme Court further held:

“Taking his conversation with his brother and his encounters with Mr. de Borja together, Justice Sabio gives the impression that he is accessible to lobbyists who would unfairly try to manipulate court proceedings. Even assuming arguendo that Justice Sabio was not moved by his brother’s request and that he rejected Mr. de Borja’s bribe offer, the Court feels compelled to call Justice Sabio’s attention to his own shortcomings under the circumstances. At the very least, Justice Sabio should have realized that his discussions of court matters, especially those that have not yet been made of public record, with persons who are interested in the case were incredibly indiscreet and tended to undermine the integrity of judicial processes. We see no reason to reverse the Panel’s finding that Justice Sabio’s conversations with his brother and Mr. de Borja were ‘indiscreet and imprudent’.”

3.5.8. Significantly, Respondent signed and concurred with the above-mentioned Resolution of the Supreme Court. Yet, Respondent Corona committed the same pernicious act of discussing a pending case with interested parties.

3.5.9. Worse, however, is the fact that Respondent intrigued against the honor and integrity of a fellow Justice in his absence, in the process, maligning and undermining the credibility of the Supreme Court as an institution. By painting for Vizconde a picture of a Court that is subject to the influence of one out of 15 Justices, and making it appear that the eventual decision of the Court in the case would be attributable to internal arm-twisting and influence, Respondent destroyed the credibility of the very institution that he was supposed to be leading.

3.5.10. In trying to pin the blame of a possible acquittal upon a fellow Justice, Respondent was himself sowing the seeds of discontent and distrust of the Supreme Court with a party litigant. As it happened, Vizconde and Jimenez did raise the supposed internal arm-twisting and influence before the media while the case was in the final stages of decision. By provoking Vizconde to pre-empt the decision with negative publicity, Respondent himself is guilty of directly undermining the trust and confidence of the public in the Supreme Court regardless of what its decision would have later turned out to be.

3.5.11. Worse still, is that the act of the Respondent violates Sec. 3(k) of Rep. Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits any official from “(d)ivulging valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date.” It is clear from the context of the conversation with Vizconde and Jimenez, that Respondent was signalling the latter to prepare for an acquittal, and giving them someone to blame therefor. Given the high profile of the case, it is not unreasonable to assume that at the time of the conservation, the Supreme Court had already begun deliberations on the case, and that Respondent already had a sense of what the decision of the Court would probably be.

3.6. Respondent Corona with undue haste, impropriety and irregularity, dismissed the inter-petal recreational corporation case under suspicious circumstances.

3.6.1. Respondent was accused by Fernando Campos of unethical conduct when he met ex parte with the lawyer of the adverse party in connection with a pending case before him. In an attempt to defend himself against the complaint for unethical conduct filed against him by Campos, Respondent explicitly admitted violating the New Code of Judicial Conduct. In his letter dated February 8, 2010 to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Respondent refuted the claim of Campos that he allegedly met with a lawyer of Philweb Corporation in connection with a case pending before him but countered that:

“On the contrary, it was Campos himself who actively tried to pressure me into deciding G.R. No. 186711 in his favor. I was pestered by calls from different people on his behalf. By his own admission in his ‘executive summary,’ he asked Justice Angelina Gutierrez, Santiago Kapunan and Leonardo Quisumbing, among others to intercede for him.” (Emphasis supplied)

3.6.2 In his very own words, Respondent admitted that various persons were able to communicate with him in connection with a case that was pending before him precisely in an attempt to influence him in his resolution of the said case. In allowing himself to be approached by persons which he knew were trying to exercise their influence over him on a particular case pending before him and in failing to take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against such actions, Respondent violated basic precepts of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides, among others, that:

“Canon 1
Independence

Sec. 1. Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently on the basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious understanding of the law, free from extraneous influence, inducement, pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.

x x x

Sec. 4. Judges shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.

Sec. 5. Judges shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to be free therefrom to a reasonable observer.”

“Canon II
Integrity

Sec. 1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.

Sec. 2. The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the people’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done.

Sec. 3. Judges should take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against lawyers or court personnel for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may have become aware.”

“Canon III
Impartiality

x x x

Sec. 2. Judges shall ensure that his or her conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the public, the legal profession and litigants in the impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary.”

“Canon IV
Propriety

Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the performance of all the activities of a judge.

Sec. 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.”

3.6.3. To restate in In Re: Letter of Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, the Supreme Court held that such conduct amounted to a failure to maintain the high standard of independence and propriety that is required of a judge.

3.6.4. For emphasis, Respondent signed and concurred with the above-mentioned Resolution of the Supreme Court. Surely, Respondent, as Chief Justice, cannot be exempt from the same rule and principle. As Chief Justice, he must in fact be held to a higher standard. The Supreme Court further said of justices:

“While it may be true that from a psychological stand point ordinary persons can have a wide variety of valid reactions to any given situation, Justice Sabio should bear in mind his high office as a magistrate of the appellate court sets him apart from ordinary persons. Being the subject of constant public scrutiny, members of the bench should freely and willingly accept behavioral restrictions that may be viewed by ordinary citizens as burdensome.” (emphasis supplied)

3.6.5. Moreover, Respondent not only should have scrupulously guarded his reputation as a Supreme Court Justice, it behooved upon him to have done a positive act to ensure that Campos and the latter’s emissaries be dealt with administratively for the brazen attempt to influence a magistrate of the Supreme Court. This he utterly failed to do.

IV. RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST AND/OR COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION WHEN IT BLATANTLY DISREGARDED THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION OF POWERS BY ISSUING A “STATUS QUO ANTE” ORDER AGAINST THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN THE CASE CONCERNING THE IMPEACHMENT OF THEN OMBUDSMAN MERCEDITAS NAVARRO-GUTIERREZ.

4.1. On September 13, 2010, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition before the Supreme Court seeking to enjoin the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives from proceeding with the impeachment proceedings against her. Gutierrez’s sixty-paged Petition prayed for a Temporary Restraining Order against the impeachment proceedings.

4.2. With undue haste, the following day after filing, Respondent immediately tabled Gutierrez’s Petition despite the fact that not all the Justices had received or read the Petition. Respondent railroaded the proceedings in order to have a Status Quo Ante Order issued in favor of Gutierrez. This was confirmed by Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her Concurring Opinion to the February 15, 2011 Decision :

“On a final note, the issuance of the Status Quo Ante Order in this case was most unfortunate. It was issued over the objections of Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales, and myself. I believed then, as I believe now, that the Court, in issuing the said order, was overly intrusive with respect to a power that does not belong to it by restraining without hearing a co-equal branch of Government. This belief was made more acute by the fact that the order was voted upon in the morning of 14 September 2010, without the benefit of a genuinely informed debate, since several members of the Court, myself included, had not yet then received a copy of the Petition.”

4.3. A Supreme Court delivery receipt published by the news magazine Newsbreak also showed that most of the justices received the Petition after the deliberations, while three (3) justices who voted to issue the Status Quo Ante Order received the petition only on September 15, 2011, a day after the status quo ante order was granted. These justices were Justices Velasco, Bersamin and Perez.

4.4. The issuance of the Status Quo Ante Order is a betrayal of the public trust since it clearly showed Respondent’s high-handedness, bias, subservience and partisanship. The issuance of a Status Quo Ante Order against a co-equal branch of government, without even the benefit of the Justices’ reading the decision, is a tyrannical abuse of power to favor a litigant and to obstruct the impeachment process. The issuance of the order also directly violates the principle of separation of powers since the Supreme Court prevented the House from doing its constitutional mandate of initiating impeachment proceedings.

V. RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST THROUGH WANTON ARBITRARINESS AND PARTIALITY IN CONSISTENTLY DISREGARDING THE PRINCIPLE OF RES JUDICATA IN THE CASES INVOLVING THE 16 NEWLY-CREATED CITIES, AND THE PROMOTION OF DINAGAT ISLAND INTO A PROVINCE.

5.1. The principle of immutability of final judgments is one of the primordial rules for having a credible and effective system of administration of justice. Under this principle:

“Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict.”

5.2. As explained by the Supreme Court in its earliest years, such a principle is an important requirement for a credible and effective system of administration of justice, thus:

“It is true that it is the purpose and intention of the law that courts should decide all questions submitted to them `as truth and justice require,’ and that it is greatly to be desired that all judgments should be so decided; but controlling and irresistible reasons of public policy and of sound practice in the courts demand that at the risk of occasional error, judgments of courts determining controversies submitted to them should become final at some definite time fixed by law, or by a rule of practice recognized by law, so as to be thereafter beyond the control even of the court which rendered them for the purpose of correcting errors of fact or of law, into which, in the opinion of the court it may have fallen. The very purpose for which the courts are organized is to put an end to controversy, to decide the questions submitted to the litigants, and to determine the respective rights of the parties. With the full knowledge that courts are not infallible, the litigants submit their respective claims for judgment, and they have a right at some time or other to have final judgment on which they can rely as a final disposition of the issue submitted, and to know that there is an end to the litigation.”

5.3. Respondent, however, has turned his back on this time-honored principle of the immutability of final judgments in not just one, but several, cases of public significance, thus allowing the Court to gain public notoriety as a “flip-flopping” Court. At least two of these flip-flops are known to have been instigated through personal letters or ex-parte communications addressed to the Respondent.

5.4. Three celebrated cases have particularly established the Supreme Court’s “flip-flopping” reputation: the League of Cities v. COMELEC case involving the creation of 16 new cities, the case of Navarro v. Ermita which involved the promotion of Dinagat Island from municipality to province, and the FASAP v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., et al. case which involved the retrenchment (previously held to be illegal) of flight attendants by the nation’s flag carrier. In the the League of Cities and FASAP cases, the Respondent’s culpability was betrayed by the fact that the flip-flop was preceded by personal and ex-parte communications, not pleadings, from a lawyer of a party, and which were granted without giving the other party any notice or due process. In the Navarro case, the flip-flop was instigated by the intervention of non-parties who stood to benefit financially and politically from the re-opening of a final and executory judgment to the original case.

5.5. The League of Cities v. COMELEC case was originally decided by the Supreme Court on November 18, 2008, wherein the Court declared as unconstitutional and void the conversion of 16 municipalities into cities due to failure to meet the legal requirements for income for cities under the Local Government Code. Upon motion for reconsideration, The Court affirmed its judgment on April 28, 2009, after the Court denied a prohibited second motion for reconsideration filed by the 16 municipalities. The ruling became final on May 21, 2009.

5.6. Despite the finality of the original judgment, as well as the standing prohibition against a second motion for reconsideration, the “aggrieved” parties persisted in seeking a reversal of the Court’s original decision. They filed several pleadings all obviously intended to circumvent the prohibition against second and subsequent motions for reconsideration and to subvert the rule on immutability of final judgments, to wit:

a. Motion to Amend the Resolution of April 28, 2009 By Declaring Instead that Respondents’ Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of March 31, 2009 and Motion for Leave to File, and To Admit Attached Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision Dated November 18, 2008 Remain Unresolved and to Conduct Further Proceedings Thereon (Motion to Amend the Resolution of April 28, 2009);

b. Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of 2 June 2009;

c. Urgent Motion to Resolve Pending Incidents;

d. Appeal to Honorable Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno and Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura to Participate in the Resolution of Respondents’ Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of June 2, 2009.

5.7. On January 19, 2009, the legal counsel [who is reportedly also the lead counsel of former President Arroyo in her Plunder and other cases: see Annexes “X” to “X-2”] for the sixteen (16) cities, Estelito Mendoza, wrote a personal letter (not a pleading) to the Supreme Court, asking for the Court to reconsider its decision by allowing the participation of justices who were not present during the deliberation of the original decision dated November 18, 2008. Another personal letter (not a pleading) was sent to the Supreme Court, by the local chief executives of the sixteen (16) municipalities/prospective cities.
5.8. On December 21, 2009, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of November 18, 2008 despite the fact that the decision was already final and executory, and that the pleadings and communications that led to the decision were either expressly prohibited pleadings or non-pleadings that have no place in litigation or the Rules of Court.

5.9. This prompted the League of Cities to file a motion for reconsideration to reverse the December 21, 2009 ruling, calling the attention of the Court to the inconsistency of the decision with the standing Rules of Court and the principles of finality of judgment. On August 24, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the December 21, 2009 decision and reinstated its original November 28, 2008 decision. As Chief Justice and leader of the Supreme Court, he should not have allowed the Court to entertain prohibited pleadings because it undermines the integrity of the Court and its rules of procedure.

5.10. Despite this ruling, the Supreme Court under Respondent’s leadership then entertained an unusual and totally unprecedented fourth motion for reconsideration filed by the 16 municipalities on September 14, 2010. On February 15, 2011, the Court granted the motion for reconsideration, and reversed the reversal of the reversal of the original decision, i.e., it reinstated its highly irregular decision reversing a judgment that had long been final and executory. The unprecedented flip-flopping of the Supreme Court happened in just a span of six months and under the same tutelage of Respondent Corona.

5.11. Subsequently, in the case of Navarro v. Ermita dealing with the constitutionality of the creation of the Province of Dinagat Island, the Supreme Court under Respondent’s watch again performed judicial acrobatics when it reversed its original decision even though it had already become final and executory, a status all the more highlighted by the fact that there was already an Entry of Judgment.

5.12. In this case, the Supreme Court had decided against the constitutionality of the creation of the Province of Dinagat Island back in February 10, 2010. The judgment became final and executory, and an Entry of Judgment was made on May 18, 2010. According to the Rules of Court, the Entry of Judgment is a ministerial act that records the absolute irrevocability of a decision of a court, after the same has become final and executory. Beyond all plausible reason, however, the Supreme Court found the means to conduct the verbal gymnastics and semantic contortions necessary to perform a totally unprecedented judicial somersault.

5.13. This amazing maneuver was accomplished upon the instigation, a full month after the entry of judgment, of so-called motions for intervention by the prospective provincial officials and congressional representatives of Dinagat Island, which were denied by the Court considering that they were not even parties to the original proceedings and intervention cannot be allowed after the case has already been terminated. This was followed by an “Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment” dated October 10, 2011 filed by these non-parties, which the Court then granted, paving the way for a reconsideration and reversal of the judgment which was already final.

5.14. In so doing, the Supreme Court, under Respondent’s leadership, has made a travesty of its own rules of procedure, and demonstrated that there is actually only one important rule: “where there’s a will (and connection?), there’s a way.” And everything that lawyers know about judicial procedure, common sense, fair play, and Justice will become moot and academic when confronted with this perversion of the Rules of Court. So blatantly contrary to all judicial reason was this act of the Court that even Associate Justice Brion pointed out in his Dissenting Opinion that the decision directly violated its own internal rules and at least three major foundations of the administration of justice, particularly:

a. the rule on reconsideration by allowing a motion for reconsideration contrary to the rule against second motions for reconsideration and after the proceedings had already terminated;

b. the rule on finality of judgments, by re-opening a case that already attained finality through the artifice of a motion to “recall entry of judgment”; and

c. the rule on intervention by allowing intervention after the proceedings had already terminated.

5.15. In fact, Associate Justice Brion could not hide his absolute disgust with the Court’s ruling in his dissent, closing it as follows:

“Unlike the case of Lazarus who rose from the dead through a miracle, Dinagat resurrected because the Court disregarded its own rules and established jurisprudential principles. Of course, it can similarly be called a miracle as no reversal could have taken place if just one of the series of transgressions pointed out did not take place. How such resurrection can happen in the Supreme Court is a continuing source of wonder!”

5.16. These two cases on gerrymandering are, of course, on top of the case of FASAP v. Philippine Airlines, Inc. , which showcases the Supreme Court’s penchant for issuing flip-flopping decisions. In this case, the Supreme Court had already promulgated a decision dated 22 July 2008, holding that the retrenchment effected by PAL in 1998 of more than 1,400 of its flight attendants was illegal. This decision became final after the Supreme Court denied, with finality, PAL’s Motions for Reconsideration on 02 October 2009 and 07 September 2011. Curiously, however, the Resolutions denying PAL’s Motions for Reconsideration were recalled by another Resolution in what seemed to be a separate administrative case, A.M. No. 11-10-1-SC, on the sole basis of a personal letter submitted to the Supreme Court by Estelito Mendoza, PAL’s lawyer. And as with the League of Cities v. COMELEC case, no opportunity was given to the other party to respond to Estelito Mendoza’s personal appeal letter. What these flip-flopping decisions clearly establish is that the Supreme Court, under Respondent Corona’s watch, is willing to bend over backwards to accomodate mere letters bearing the signature of Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s lawyer.

VI. Respondent Betrayed the Public Trust By Arrogating Unto Himself, And To A Committee He Created, The Authority And Jurisdiction To Improperly Investigate An Alleged Erring Member Of The Supreme Court For The Purpose Of Exculpating Him. Such Authority And Jurisdiction Is Properly Reposed By The Constitution In the House of Representatives via Impeachment.

6.1. Canon 2, sec. 1 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct demands extremely high moral standards of all judges and Justices: they must “ensure that not only their conduct is above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.” This is but consistent with a very long line of jurisprudence laid by the Supreme Court that judges should avoid all forms of impropriety, including the appearance of impropriety. It is also practically a universal rule among judiciaries worldwide.

6.2. The Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary case concerned a petition by other legal scholars on behalf of the surviving Filipino “comfort women” (women pressed into sexual slavery by occupying Japanese forces during the Second World War), on the theory that the prohibition against rape and sexual abuse in times of war is jus cogens in international law, and therefore the State had a duty to pursue their claims from the Japanese government. Upon review of the Court’s decision denying the comfort women’s petition, it was alleged that rampant plagiarism was committed by the ponente, Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.

6.3. The alleged plagiarism in Vinuya comprised the verbatim lifting, without attribution and encompassing both the original authors’ written text and footnotes, of significant portions of books and articles from international law journals that supported the theory. At least three foreign authors works were allegedly plagiarized. But aside from the issue of plagiarism itself, after copying from the articles, the Court allegedly made them appear to support the opposite conclusion; i.e., the Court used them to deny the petition, whereas the materials per se should have been seen to favor the grant thereof.

6.4. It appears that, with a clear intent of exonerating a member of the Supreme Court, Respondent, in violation of the Constitution, formed an Ethics Committee that determined the culpability of a Justice of the Supreme Court – an impeachable officer. Respondent had no power to do this since under the Constitution, the power to make accountable impeachable officers belonged to the House of Representatives. Thus, Respondent betrayed the public trust by arrogating unto himself, and to a Committee he created, the authority and jurisdiction to investigate an alleged member of the Supreme Court. To reiterate, such authority and jurisdiction has been reposed by the Constitution in the House of Representatives via impeachment. By constituting such a committee, and by arrogating unto himself power to determine the culpability of Justice del Castillo and exonerating him in the end, Respondent thereby encroached on the sole power and duty of the House of Representatives to determine, by impeachment, whether Justice Del Castillo was to be held accountable, in violation of the principle of separation of powers of the Legislature and the Judiciary.

6.5. It may be recalled that the original authors separately complained to the Supreme Court about the incident, while the petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, but the Respondent, speaking through the Court Administrator, initially announced that no action would be taken on the matter. This was despite the receipt of the complaints from the first of three authors. Only when the number of authors had increased to three did the Respondent decide to act by announcing the formation of an Ethics Review Committee comprised of members of the Court to investigate the matter.

VII. RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST THROUGH HIS PARTIALITY IN GRANTING A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (TRO) IN FAVOR OF FORMER PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO AND HER HUSBAND JOSE MIGUEL ARROYO IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO ESCAPE PROSECUTION AND TO FRUSTRATE THE ENDS OF JUSTICE, AND IN DISTORTING THE SUPREME COURT DECISION ON THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE TRO IN VIEW OF A CLEAR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE CONDITIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT’S OWN TRO.

7.1. The Supreme Court, under the Respondent, inexplicably consolidated the separate petitions filed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Miguel Arroyo in order to question the validity of the Watch List Orders issued against them by the Department of Justice pursuant to DOJ Circular No. 41 ironically issued by the DOJ under Arroyo’s administration. By consolidating the petitions, the Supreme Court under Respondent unduly gave Miguel Arroyo an unwarranted benefit since the alleged urgent health needs of President Arroyo would now be extended to him.

7.2. Worse, the Supreme Court, under the Respondent, immediately acted upon the Petition and granted the TRO despite the fact that there are clear inconsistencies in former President Arroyo’s petition that casts serious doubts on the sincerity and urgency of her request to leave the Philippines. As detailed in the dissent of Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, President Arroyo presented “inconsistent, and probably untruthful statements” about her situation. Justice Sereno cited documents submitted by the former president’s doctors belying her claims of threat to life. Aside from changes in the list of countries she wanted to visit, President Arroyo was also planning to participate in two conferences. Hence, Justice Sereno noted: “It seems incongruous for petitioner who has asked the Department of Justice and this Court to look with humanitarian concern on her precarious state of health, to commit herself to attend these meetings and conferences at the risk of worsening her physical condition.”

7.3. Moreover, it appears from reports that the ponente to whom the petitions were raffled was an Associate Justice. Under the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, a TRO can only be considered upon the recommendation of the ponente. Evidently, in view of certain objections against the grant of the TRO, a holding of a hearing within the short period of five (5) days was recommended. Despite this recommendation, the Respondent engineered a majority of 8 votes (as against five dissenters) the immediate grant and issuance of the TRO in favour of former President Arroyo and her husband in blatant violation of their own internal rules.

7.4. It also appears from the coordinated acts of the Arroyos that they were coordinating with Respondent’s Court. For how can it be explained that they made multiple bookings on the same day expecting that they can leave the country on the very same day their plea for a TRO was to be decided? It is not difficult to see that the hasty issuance of the TRO was a brazen accommodation to the Arroyos. Not only that. Respondent bent over backwards to aid and abet the Arroyos’ plan to leave the country on the very day of the session on their TRO plea. The Court’s office hours that usually end at 4:30 pm were extended to allow the Arroyos to post a measly P2 million bond later and the Court process server was drafted to serve the TRO upon the DOJ and the OSG after office hours.

7.5. Also, despite that fact that the Court, under Respondent, laid down conditions for the issuance of the TRO, Respondent allowed the issuance of the TRO notwithstanding the fact that it was established that President Arroyo and Miguel Arroyo failed to comply with an essential pre-condition that was meant to ensure the vesting of court jurisdiction in the event the Arroyos flee prosecution. The condition was, to wit:

“(ii) The petitioners shall appoint a legal representative common to both of them who will receive subpoena, orders, and other legal processes on their behalf during their absence. The petitioners shall submit the name of the legal representative, also within five (5) days from notice hereof;” (Emphasis supplied.)

7.6. The Special Power of Attorney dated November 15, 2011 which they issued to their counsel fails to state that their counsel had the power to receive subpoenas, orders and other legal processes. Instead, they only empowered their counsel to “produce summons or receive documentary evidence”:

“That I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, of legal age, married, Filipino with residence at 14 Badjao Street, Pansol, Quezon City, do hereby name, constitute and appoint ATTY. FERDINAND TOPACIO, likewise of legal age, Filipino, with office address at Ground floor, Skyway Twin Towers, H. Javier St., Ortigas Center, Pasig, Metro Manila, as my legal representative in the Philippines and to be my true and lawful attorney-in-fact, for my name, place and stead, to do and perform the following acts and things, to wit:

1. To sign, verify, and file a written statement;
2. To make and present to the court an application in
connection with any proceedings in the suit;
3. To produce summons or receive documentary evidence;
4. To make and file compromise or a confession of judgment
and to refer the case to arbitration;
5. To deposit and withdraw any money for the purpose of any proceeding;
6. To obtain copies of documents and papers; and
7. Generally to do all other lawful acts necessary for the
conduct of the said case.” (Emphasis supplied.)

By virtue of the Arroyos’ abject failure to comply with this pre-condition, the TRO should not have been issued, nor deemed effective.

7.7. Due to the Arroyos’ abject failure to comply with Condition 2, the Supreme Court en banc in its November 18, 2011 deliberations, by a vote of 7–6, found that there was no compliance with the second condition of the TRO. Consequently, for failure to comply with an essential condition for the TRO, the TRO is not effective. However, by a vote of 7-6, the Supreme Court decided there was no need to explicitly state the legal effect on the TRO of the noncompliance by petitioners with Condition Number 2 of the earlier Resolution. As succinctly stated in Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s dissent:

“The majority argued that such a clarification is unnecessary, because it is clear that the TRO is conditional, and cannot be made use of until compliance has been done. It was therefore the sense of the majority that, as an offshoot of the winning vote that there was failure by petitioners to comply with Condition Number 2, the TRO is implicitly deemed suspended until there is compliance with such condition. Everyone believed that it would be clear to all that a conditional TRO is what it is, conditional.”

7.8. However, the Supreme Court Spokesperson, Midas Marquez, made a public claim which was aired in all media outlets that the Court ostensibly decided that the TRO was effective despite non-compliance with an essential condition of the TRO. He even posited that the Arroyos can still leave the country. It is notable that Respondent did not chastise Marquez for his outrightly false and public misrepresentation. Respondent, as Chief Justice, should have called to task Marquez for misleading the public as to the import of the Supreme Court’s en banc ruling. Instead, he remained silent and did not bother to contradict Marquez thereby aiding Marquez in spreading false news about the action of the Supreme Court.

7.9. Worse, the Respondent did not correct the decision that was issued despite the fact that the decision did not reflect the agreement and decision made by the Supreme Court during their deliberations on November 18, 2011. Respondent subverted the will of the Supreme Court and imposed his unilateral will by making it likewise appear that the TRO was effective despite non-compliance with his own imposed pre-condition.

7.10. Clearly, therefore, Respondent knowingly fed Marquez the wrong sense and import of the deliberations of the Court on the TRO issue. This false messaging intended for the public was deliberately made by Respondent to make it appear that indeed the Arroyos can leave immediately and at any time. Clearly, Respondent’s action showed bias and a partisan stance in favor of the Arroyos. Respondent’s action of causing a false message and twisting the sense and understanding of the Court during its deliberations on this matter, betray not only his lack of independence, competence and probity, but more importantly, the moral fiber to dispense justice as he would allow a frustration of justice for the Filipino People for personal gain and commitment to his midnight benefactor.

7.11. Worse, despite the finding that the Arroyos failed to comply with an essential condition of the TRO, the Supreme Court, headed by Respondent Corona in a 9-4 vote, ruled that the TRO was in effect.

VIII. RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST AND/OR COMMITTED GRAFT AND CORRUPTION WHEN HE FAILED AND REFUSED TO ACCOUNT FOR THE JUDICIARY DEVELOPMENT FUND (JDF) AND SPECIAL ALLOWANCE FOR THE JUDICIARY (SAJ) COLLECTIONS.

8.1. The Supreme Court has an independent source of income other than its share in the national budget. It collects from every litigant filing a complaint docket fees, which are used for the Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ) and basic legal fees, which go to the Judicial Development Fund (JDF). It is worth noting that the Judiciary Development Fund and the Fiduciary Fund partake of the nature of trust funds. The JDF is being collected for the benefit of the members and personnel of the Judiciary to help ensure and guarantee the independence of the Judiciary in the administration of justice. It is also intended to augment the allowances of the members and personnel of the Judiciary and to finance the acquisition, maintenance and repair of office equipment and facilities.

8.2. Respondent has reportedly failed and refused to report on the status of the JDF Funds and the SAJ collections. Under his leadership, the Supreme Court has reportedly failed to remit to the Bureau of Treasury all SAJ collections in violation of the policy of transparency, accountability and good governance. There is likewise the reported failure of Respondent to account for funds released and spent for unfilled positions in the judiciary and from authorized and funded but not created courts.

8.3. In particular, the annual audit report of the Supreme Court of the Philippines (Annex “Y”) contained the observation that unremitted funds to the Bureau of Treasury amounted to P5.38 Billion (page 38 of Annex “Y”).

8.4. On the other hand, the Special allowance for Judiciary along with the General Fund, Judiciary Development Fund in the amount of P559.5 Million were misstated resulting from delayed and/or non-preparation of bank reconciliation statements and non-recording /uncorrected reconciling items (page 41 of Annex “Y”).

RESOLUTION and PRAYER

WHEREFORE, pursuant to the procedure laid down by Section 3, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution on Accountability of Public Officers, the undersigned Complainants, as Members of the House of Representatives, constituting at least one-third of all the members thereof, hereby file the instant Verified Complaint/Resolution of Impeachment against Respondent Honorable Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. Accordingly, it is most respectfully prayed that in accordance with Rule IV of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings promulgated by the House of Representatives, to transmit to the Senate of the Philippines the instant Verified Complaint/Resolution of Impeachment to serve as the Articles of Impeachment for trial.

Thereafter, undersigned Complainants respectfully pray that the Honorable Members of the Senate conduct trial forthwith and thereafter, render a judgment of conviction against Respondent Honorable Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
Other reliefs, just and equitable, are likewise prayed for.

Quezon City, Metro Manila, December 12, 2011.


1. L-19313, January 19, 1962.
2. A.M. No. 98-5-01-SC November 9, 1998, “In Re: Appointments dated March 30, 1998, of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the Regional Trial Court of Branch 62, Bago City and of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City, respectively.”
3. Esguerra, C., Pazzibugan, D. “Palace hides Corona oath-taking from media”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 18, 2010. A copy of the article is attached as Annex “A”.
4. Poblete, J. “Ratings decline for top officials,” BusinessWorld, October 12, 2011. A copy of the article is attached as Annex “B”.
5. A.M. No. 98-5-01-SC, November 9, 1998, 298 SCRA 408.
6. G.R. Nos. 191002, 191032, 191057, A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC, G.R. No. 191149, 191342, 191420, March 17, 2010
7. Sec. 1, Canon 2, New Code of Judicial Conduct.
8. Sec. 2, Canon 2, New Code of Judicial Conduct.
9. See “Justice Corona’s voting record favors Arroyo”, Newsbreak, February 04, 2010 <http://www.newsbreak.ph/2010/02/04/justice-coronas-voting-record-favors-arroyo&gt;. A faithful printout is attached as Annex “C” hereof.
10. G.R. No. 192935, December 7, 2010.
11. G.R. No. 193519, October 12, 2010.
12. See “Arroyo issues midnight madness of appointments”, ABS-CBN News at <http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/06/03/10/arroyo-issues-midnight-madness-appointments&gt;, a faithful printout of which is attached as Annex “D” hereof; see also the list of Midnight Appointees from ABS-CBN News <http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/sites/default/files/others/downloads/MATRIX-Midnights_GOCCs_02June2010.pdf&gt;, a faithful printout of which is attached as Annex “E” hereof.
13. Section 5, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution for the creation of legislative districts mandates that “Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards” fixed in Section 5. These constitutional standards, as far as population is concerned, are: (1) proportional representation; (2) minimum population of 250,000 per legislative district; (3) progressive ratio in the increase of legislative districts as the population base increases; and (4) uniformity in apportionment of legislative districts “in provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area.”
14. Ibid.
15. See http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/justices/j.corona.php.
16. Cabulisan v. Judge Pagalilauan, A.M. No. RTJ-96-1363, October 12, 1998.
17. In Re: Derogatory News Items Charging Court of Appeals Associate Justice Demetrio Demetria with Interference on Behalf of a Suspected Drug Queen, A.M. No. 00-7-09-CA, March 27, 2001.
18. G.R. No. 178083 in relation to Administrative No. 11-10-1-SC.
19. G.R. Nos. 176951, 177499, 178056; August 24, 2010, February 15, 2011, April 12, 2011, June 28, 2011.
20. Arturo de Castro v. Judicial and Bar Council and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et. Al, supra.
21. A.M. No. RTJ-99-1433, June 26, 2000.
22. Dawa v. Judge De Asa, A.M. No. MTJ-98-1144, July 22, 1998; Clerk of Court Buencamino v. Judge De Asa, A.M. No. MTJ-98-1148, July 22, 1998
23. Canon 30, Canons of Judicial Ethics (Administrative Order No. 162 dated August 1, 1946 of the Department of Justice).
24. Garganera v. Jocson, A.M. Nos. RTJ-88-227, RTJ-90-624, RTJ-88-270, RTJ-87-124, RTJ-88-269, RTJ-88-267, and RTJ-88-279, September 01, 1992.
25. Dulay v. Lelina, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1516, 14 July 2005.
26. See JHMC’s Press Release, “JHMCL Whistle blower’s act is a pre-emptive move”, July 25, 2010, available at <http://www.baguiomidlandcourier.com.ph/city.asp?mode=
27. %20archives/2010/july/7-25-2010/city2.txt>. A faithful printout of the article is attached as Annex “M” hereof.
28. Sec. 8, Canon 1, New Code of Judicial Conduct.
29. Sec. 2, Canon 3, New Code of Judicial Conduct.
30. Sec. 4, Canon 3, New Code of Judicial Conduct.
31. Sec. 2, Canon 5, New Code of Judicial Conduct.
32. People of the Philippines v. Lejano, et. al., G.R. 176864, December 14, 2010.
33. AM No. 08-8-11-CA, October 15, 2008.
34. G.R. No. 186711.
35. AM No. 08-8-11-CA (October 15, 2008)
36. Ibid.
37. Section 3, Canon II of the New Code of Judicial Conduct imposes upon judges an obligation to “take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against lawyers or court personnel for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may have become aware.”
38. G.R. No. 193456, September 14, 2010.
39. See Annex “N”, a copy of the delivery report as sent by the Supreme Court to the Hon. Rodolfo Fariñas. See also Annex “N-1” for a faithful printout of the delivery receipt as published by Newsbreak in its article “Delivery receipt shows justices voted on Gutierrez petition before receiving copies, available on <http://www.newsbreak.ph/2011/03/02/delivery-receipt-shows-justices-voted-on-gutierrez-petition-before-receiving-copies/&gt;.
40. Bongcac v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. 156687-88, May 21, 2009, citing Lim v. Jabalde, G.R. No. 36786, 17 April 1989, 172 SCRA 211, 224.
41. Arnedo v. Lorente, 18 Phil 257 (1911), at 262-263
42. See for example, Requejo, R. “Supreme Court flip-flops 3rd time, OKs 16 new cities” Manila Standard, February 17, 2011 (Annex “O” hereof); Requejo, R. “Cities’ league deplores high-court flip-flop” Manila Standard, March 10, 2011 (Annex “P” hereof); Echeminada, P. “Supreme Court flip-flop confuses city mayors” Philippine Star, February 19, 2011 (Annex “Q” hereof); Gomez, C. “Row on cities rages as SC ‘flip-flop’ ribbed”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 4, 2011 (Annex “R” hereof); “Dinagat wins in new SC flip-flop” Surigao Today, May 2, 2011, Online: http://www.surigaotoday.com/2011/03/dinagat-wins-in-new-sc-flip-flop.html (Annex “S” hereof); Romero, P. “SC justice hits peers over flip-flop” Newsbreak, April 27, 2011 (Annex “T” hereof).
43. League of Cities v. COMELEC, supra.
44. G.R. 180050, April 12, 2011.
45. FASAP v. PAL, supra.
46. Cinco, M. “Dear SC letters stir suspicion on cityhood,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, August
47. 11, 2010. A faithful printout of the article, as found in <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20100811-286232/Dear-SC-letters-stir-suspicions-on-cityhood&gt;, is attached as Annex “U”.
48. Supra.
49. Ermita v. Navarro, supra.
50. Supra.
51. G.R. No. 162230, April 28, 2010.
52. See “Law prof questions plagiarism of work”, Malaya, August 24, 2010, available at < http://www.malaya.com.ph/08242010/news7.html&gt;; a faithful printout of which is attached as Annex “V”. See also the individual letter of Dr. Christian Tams, which used to be available at <http://www.scribd.com/doc/39856262/Tams-Letter-to-Supreme-Court&gt;, a copy of which is attached hereto as Annex “V-1”; e-mail of Dr. Mark Ellis, which was quoted extensively in Pazzibugan, D., “Author files complaint with SC”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 31, 2010, a copy of which is attached hereto as Annex “V-2”; and a comment made by Dr. Evan Criddle in response to Ku, J. “International Law plagiarism bedevils Philippines Supreme Court Justice”, <http://opiniojuris.org/2010/07/19/international-law-plagiarism-charge-bedevils-philippines-supreme-court-justice/&gt;, a faithful printout of which is attached hereto as Annex “V-3”.
53. Pazzibugan, D. “High court not probing plagiarism” Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 21, 2010. A copy of the article is attached as Annex “W”.
54. Aning, J. “Supreme Court refers plagiarism case to ethics committee” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 July 2010. A copy of the article is attached as Annex “X”.
55. G.R. Nos. 199034 and 199046, November 15, 2011.
56. G.R. Nos. 199034 and 199046, November 18, 2011.

 

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Obstruction Of Justice – In Good Times And Bad Times

by jun asuncion

It was like a chess championship match with the brave sacrificing act of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima leading to the checkmate of GMA. The thrill reached its peak as GMA attempted to flee from her impending checkmate - using  her ailment as cover up and with her team of lawyers exhausting her cornucopia of legal means so she could  escape prosecution – these in dizzying alacrity. Not to be dismissed as boring were the acrimony between the lawyers of each camp, political observers and netizens and  the diverging  opinions of the senators and constitutional experts on the legal imbroglio and pandemonium that transpired the last days.

Beside offering a cerebral entertainment, this match was a crossing of the Rubicon for Aquino’s administration with its determined fight against the culture of impunity - the catalyst and stabilizer of corruption engines – and its entrance into a culture of accountability with the arrest of GMA last Friday.

Big change shakes the foundations, brings with it conflicting situations and demands sacrifices and strong will. Though it was GMA’s histrionics that dictated the tempo of events, it was the seemingly collision of  the fundamental right to travel and the right of the state to prosecute high crimes and the contumacious actions of  Justice Secretary De Lima vis-à-vis  the Supreme court that interested keen observers the most. On top of that one questions: How absolute are human rights, the Constitution and the orders of the Supreme court? And how powerful is the judiciary against the executive? Was there a constitutional crisis? Opinions differed on these questions among lawyers and constitutionalists.

Everything appeared paradoxical and dramatic. Secretary De Lima was unfazed, controlled,  tough and very quick on the trigger. She had her angle  all the time and she’s proven her worth as Justice Secretary. For her justice must be served by all means – even to the point of disobeying a Supreme Court order- this Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).  Senator Escudero was among the antagonists who espoused blind obedience to the law and was quick to praise the Court’s decision.  Were he in command, GMA would have escaped prosecution.

Justice vs. the right to travel?  It was another instance of two good things colliding at a given space and time. Had Senator Escudero viewed the whole situation not as a lawyer but as visionary politician, he would have been part of the entourage that crossed the Rubicon. Hence, he was left behind with his myopic, legalistic view of the world. He cut a pathetic figure last week. The constitutional right to travel should not be used to obstruct justice and crimes committed should not be blinded out or relegated to the background as lawyers engage themselves in textbook debates on law. Accused persons must be tried by all means.

Crossing the Rubicon is disobedience yet groundbreaking. President Noy Aquino and his team have crossed the Rubicon in order that justice be served in the Philippines. This is reflective equilibrium, visionary politics, epoch-making leadership.

Democracy is not only about rights and individualism but also about duties and collectivism. GMA’s insistence on her human and constitutional right to travel (since when did she insist on human and constitutional rights?) must be viewed not in isolation or purely as an article in the 1987 Constitution but within the context of the crimes imputed to her. That’s why it was a piece of impudence and out of context  for her legal advisers to equate GMA’s deprivation of her right to travel as endangering all Filipinos’ right to travel. Not all Filipinos are Gloria Arroyo.

If Democracy is a balance of rights, duties, individualism (personal welfare) and collectivism (common good), then decisions involving conflicting rights or principles must also be balanced. Secretary De Lima was right when she mentioned the balancing of the situation before arriving at a decision. Some members of the Supreme Court seemed to have problem with balancing last week, hence, this TRO was far from being democratic because it was decided without this greater sense for justice, sense of social responsibility and in sheer disregard for the accountability of public officials and suspected criminals.  The  state’s decision for justice, accountability and to end impunity outweighs GMA’s personal right to travel. Naturally, GMA was in a hurry to leave for she knew that without the case being formally filed before a court-and with her one -way TRO ticket in her suitcase – she could still defy the Watchlist Order of the Justice Department. A fleeing suspect in prestissimo has no right to blame Judge Mupas and the Southern Police District  if they’re catching up with her tempo. Railroading a woman suspect on wheelchair? Had she not displayed the intention to follow the example of Ramona Bautista, everything would have been settled in adagio manner. So GMA was in command of the metronome last week – but to her disadvantage.

If the government represents democracy and if sovereignty emanates from the people, then the people who voted for Pres. Aquino and his promise to fight corruption surely supported all actions taken by Pres. Aquino’s team in preventing Arroyo from leaving the country until her arrest last Friday. That TRO could hardly be taken as representing the interest of the sovereignty. An ordinary Filipino doesn’t need the service of a  lawyer to decide not to entrust his child to somebody with records of stealing, violence and pedophiliac activities or send his housemaid he  highly suspects of stealing his  money for a vacation in her province before he has confronted her about the situation. Using the same common sense he would likewise not allow GMA to leave and escape prosecution.

GMA is famous for her inconsistencies, very poor credibility rating,  betraying Public Trust and for being accused of committing a dozen of crimes, among these being electoral sabotage and plunder. So why let her go before her cases are cleared? The Supreme Court’s voting for TRO was  legally right but did it respect or consider the people’s covenant with the President? The Supreme Court justices - including the Chief Justice - who voted for TRO, all being appointees of GMA when she was still president, decided in favor of their ex-boss, a situation we could easily link with Utang Na Loob. Lawyers interpret a legal situation differently. The fact that the Supreme Court justices  were divided in their judgement on TRO issuance, supports this argument. Hence, the TRO was a personal gift for Arroyo, a one way ticket for  a world tour.

Gloria Arroyo’s theatrical performance at the airport was aimed to tickle that Filipino traits of Awa and Utang na Loob. But  she has been unmasked by the people and so it was a flop for no Awa came to her rescue. “Persecution, cruelty”, according to her husband. It’s amazing how justice can change someone’s vocabularies. This much heard promise of returning home may have been true but has anybody thought of asking them (Arroyos) when? Two weeks could also be stretched to twenty years. Or maybe forever - like their promise when they were wedded, to be together in good times and bad  times.

———————————

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OPPOSING THE RATIFICATION OF MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON AND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

By VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

October 19, 2011

THE HONORABLE MEMBERS
OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN
Sorsogon City

Attention: HON. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, JR., MNSA
Vice Governor/Presiding Officer

Subject: OPPOSING THE RATIFICATION OF MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT OF THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON AND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

Dear Vice Governor Escudero,

Please register my opposition in the strongest terms against the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Sorsogon Gov. Raul R. Lee and Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Branch) relative to the P350.0 M Loan which was signed today October 19, 2011, witnessed by majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  This MOA is scheduled to be ratified, confirmed and approved in a resolution form by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Friday, October 21, 2011.

An irregularity can be easily traced on the sequence of events prior to signing of the aforesaid MOA.  On October 5, 2011, Gov. Raul Lee wrote a letter to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members enjoining specially its Presiding Officer, the Chairs and Members of the Committee on Budget and Appropriations and the Committee on Public Works, Infrastructure and Highways to be present in the signing of the MOA relative to the Loan of the Provincial Government of Sorsogon with the Land Bank of the Philippines.  That signing will be held on October 19, 2011, 9:00 am at the LBP Legazpi City Office.  Now, why did Gov. Raul Lee dated his letter to Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 5, 2011?  Obviously, the approval of this controversial loan was pre-arranged by Gov. Raul Lee with the officials of the LBP Legazpi City Office as cohorts.

Please note that the letter of Mr. Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez, Dept. Manager and Head LBP Legazpi City Office is dated October 17, 2011 when he notified Gov. Raul R. Lee about the LBP approval of the P350.00 M loan.  This letter was received by the Office of the Governor only yesterday, October 18, 2011.

My opposition against the ratification, confirmation and approval of this gargantuan LBP Loan, among others, are as follows:

1. The people of Sorsogon will remember October 19, 2011 as a black day our poor province will be sunk deeper to the oblivion by the gargantuan P350.0 million loan by Gov. Raul R. Lee.  Many believe that our province will never move forward in the proper direction, ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY to the Filipino people is not upheld by most of our provincial officials.  Without this basic tenet of good governance, the culture of impunity and shameless corruption will continue to pervade throughout our provincial government, leading to more poverty for our poor people.

2. Up to now, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan including the undersigned has not yet received any copy of the auditing and accounting report on the previous P260.0 M LBP Loan obtained by former Gov. Sally A. Lee.  We, the present SP Members and the public as well, have the right to know the status or what the hell happened to the previous Administration’s loan, to determine whether or not said loan was really needed and was properly utilized or spent for the very purpose for which it was applied for.

3. The pending election protest against Gov. Lee docketed as Comelec Case No. SPA 09-187 (DC) entitled, Jose G. Solis versus Raul R. Lee filed last December 19, 2009 around 11:45 AM which is a Petition for Disqualification and Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy.  Case status – ACTIVE.

4. A civil case filed against Gov. Raul Lee led by Matnog Parish Priest Fr. Alexander Jerus, the Alyansa Laban sa Mina sa Matnog (ALMMA), Bayan Sorsogon and private individuals residing in the Municipality of Matnog opposed the iron ore mining operation in Barangay Bolacawe, in Matnog town for total violation of R.A. 7076 otherwise known as the People’s Small Scale Mining Act, R.A. 7942, the Philippine Mining Act, R.A. 7160, Local Government Code.  Now pending before the Regional Trial Court in Sorsogon City.

5. A Graft and Corrupt Practices case against Gov. Raul Lee is now pending before the Sandiganbayan involving the alleged anomalous implementation eight years ago of the province’s Distance Learning Center Program (DLCP) involving P22 million pesos in funds sourced thru LBP and PNB loans.

6. And the most popular of all is the graft case of Gov. Raul Lee’s alleged direct involvement in the controversial P728.00 M fertilizer fund scam. Both graft charges have been elevated to the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman.

7. The LBP Notice of Loan Approval states that it is a violation under its General Terms and Conditions, Item No. 1 which provides that the LBP reserves the right to withhold loan releases should there be a case filed against the LGU or its officials involving the project to be financed.  But Governor Lee is the top Sorsogon official who signed this MOA and who will also administer and handle all fund releases of all projects under this P350.0 M loan.  We all know that Mr. Lee is already saddled by several criminal, anti-graft and corrupt practices cases pending before the Sandiganbayan and other courts.  What kind of evaluation was conducted by LBP and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan? Where is logic here?  Hindi ba ito ang nauuso sa buong mundo na corporate greed.  O ang tinatawag na bureaucratic capitalism?

Instead of condemning and sanctioning the questionable actions of the provincial governor, will it not appear that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Office) have conveniently colluded with each other in tolerating the wrongdoings of Gov. Raul Lee by granting this mind boggling P350.0 million loan which shall be paid by the people’s money?  This P350.0 M loan is the biggest loan in the history of Sorsogon. The justification and the necessity of this loan is practically nil.  If no one from my distinguished colleagues in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan do not see anything wrong about this huge P350.0 M LBP loan and other previous loans, something must be very wrong somewhere.  Shall LBP and SP allow themselves to be like the three monkeys? SEE NO EVIL, TALK NO EVIL AND HEAR NO EVIL.

In sum, ratifying this Memorandum of Agreement by a majority vote of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, such measure will only further inflame the peoples distrust to the Sorsogon provincial officials.  Sangguniang Panlalawigan will appear endorsing the people’s hard-earned money to a governor beseted by several anti-graft and corrupt practices cases and whose integrity is already in serious doubt.

My dear colleagues, let us all unite and protect the people’s money.  Let us denounce the Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Office) and identify those people responsible for the approval of the loan passage for NOT exercising due diligence, prudence and sound judgment in evaluating the Sorsogon loan application for purposes of transparency and accountability at all times.  LBP corporate decision is also NOT in consonance with President Aquino’s “MATUWID NA LANDAS.”

God bless us.  Thank you.

Very truly yours,

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Cc:
Ms. Gilda Pico, LBP President
Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Chair Senate Committee on Local Government
Cong. George P. Arnaiz, Chair, Congressional Committee on Local Government
Cong. Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr., Member, Congressional Committee on Local Government
All Sorsogon Mayors and Barangay Chairmen

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Friends and Opinions, Graft and Corruption, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, Views and Concern, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

CONTROVERSIAL P350 MILLION LOAN OF THE LEE ADMINISTRATION IS STILL IN THE PURGATORY

by Vladimir Ramon B. Frivaldo

After almost nine months the Sorsogon loan is still in purgatory.

The continued delay in the release of the controversial P350.0 million loan with Land Bank of the Philippine is giving the Lee administration a big headache.  This is due to the strong and determined opposition of the lone fiscalizer in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan by the grandson of late 8-term Gov. Juan Frivaldo.

The determined stand of neophyte Board Member Vladimir Ramon Frivldo regarding the gargantuan loan application was due mainly on the propriety and morality issue hounding Gov. Raul Lee and his wife Sally.

“ Are  the poor people of Sorsogon still willing to  trust the P350.0 million to a governor who is charged by 2 graft cases by the Ombudsman?”  Frivaldo told to the organizers of the Bulusan Kontra sa Geothermal.

Last April 14, 2011, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and other national newspapers published and announced that Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee was charged with graft by Office of the Ombudsman and filed with the Sandiganbayan for his direct involvement in the very controversial P728.0 million fertilizer fund scam.

After a month, the Office of the Ombudsman has approved the filing of second graft charges against Gov. Raul Lee  and eight others in connection with the alleged anomalous implementation eight years ago of the province’s Distance Learning Center Program (DLCP) that involved a total amount of P22 million pesos in funds sourced thru LBP and PNB  loans.

The May 23, 2011 Resolution of Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro paved the way for the filing with the Sandiganbayan of the charges that was made to wait for more than five years after the original complaint was filed with the Ombudsman in 2006 by SPM Rebecca Aquino.

Frivaldo has been pleading and begging the governor to submit to the people of any report, findings, financial report/status whatsoever of the P260.0 million loan of former Gov. Sally Lee but he fell on deaf ears.  He is also urging the poor taxpayer to ask also their governor to inform them what and how the said loan was ever realized-  and much more-,  used and spent.

“Lastly, I have learned that Gov. Raul R. Lee and his cohorts will continue to harass me and concentrating their efforts to expel me from office because I am a vocal fiscalizer of his administration.  Even I am the lone opposition in this chamber, I will stand my ground against bullies of Sorsogon.  I will continue the legacy of our old man Tata Owan fighting for the right and for the sake of our poor constituents.  Dahil sa mga kasaradayan kamo talaga ang tunay na lakas ng familia Frivaldo.  Hindi naming kayo malilimutan” Frivaldo or Blady to his relatives and friends in his parting words.

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Two Photos and captions added by  jun asuncion

 

Raul Lee proudly showing to his dear mentor Gloria Arroyo  the havoc they have caused to the people of Sorsogon.

Raul Lee (left) with his beloved mentor, protector and supplier of liquid fertilizers.

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BIGGER CROCODILES STILL ON THE LOOSE

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – I applaud the residents of Agusan del Sur in the Philippines for snaring and trapping alive last week a huge prehistoric crocodile touted as the longest and heaviest of its kind in captivity. While the reptile might have consumed humans, who might have crossed his path, this crocodile should not be faulted for attacking humans because he was doing it only for survival. Now that the reptile which took its nickname “Lolong” after one of its ill-fated hunters, we should now turn on capturing the two-legged crocodiles that roam the Philippine Congress and the government, who never tire on stealing the pork barrels.

Many politicians have been raiding the national treasury for nearly a decade and stashed those ill-gotten wealth secretly in big investment houses. But still, they would insist on holding onto some elective positions, pretending to be serving the people. But what these very few rich people want to accomplish is to preserve their wealth so that more people will seek their help and be indebted to them. This insatiable desire to amass more wealth is a throwback to the feudal times when nobility would thrive by exploiting illiterates and turning them into beasts of burden. So they would be untouchable like drug lords, these rich people would have to put up private security agencies or private armies.They don’t realize it that the more they linger in government service, the more they are liable to committing more mistakes.
 
LAWYERS THRIVE ON MISTAKES OF POLITICIANS
 
 But like the black hole in the outer space, where nothing escapes, these crocodiles in the government will be ceding a great part of their wealth to the lawyers, who will be representing them in various courts of law. If they are unlucky with their choice, these lawyers will prolong the litigation of the case so they earn more attorneys’ fees.
 
 In the case of my native Sorsogon province, it is pity that my province mates have been governed alternately by husband-and-wife tandems, who are not even natives of Sorsogon. Incumbent Gov. Raul R. Lee is said to be originally surnamed “Rodrigueza” from Albay while his wife, former Gov. Sally Lee, is from Vigan, Ilocus Sur, who does not even speak Sorsogon Bikol. Since both of them are carpetbaggers, how sincere are they really in helping Sorsoguenos?
 

When she was governor of the southern most province of Luzon, Governor Sally Lee obtained a 260-million pesos (U$6-M) loan for the province. When Sorsogon’s provincial board member Vladimir Frivaldo sought for an accounting of the loan, Frivaldo did not get any response. I told Vladi to direct his inquiry to the Commission on Audit so it can conduct an accounting of the loan money. Despite the refusal of Governor Sally Lee to explain the whereabouts of the 260-million pesos, her successor and husband, Gov. Raul R. Lee, had the gall to secure another loan, this time, a bigger 350-M peso (US$8.3-M) loan.

 Vladi Frivaldo opposed the P350-M loan but the rest of the members of the Sorsogon provincial board approved the loan request. Vladi wrote a letter to the two banks – Philippine National Bank and Land Bank of the Philippines – to reject the Governor Raul Lee’s loan application by virtue of two criminal graft information filed against Lee by the Ombudsman. Vladi also wrote Congress to investigate the loan request. Vladi is still waiting for the response of his letters.

  LIQUIDATE FIRST THE P260-M LOAN BEFORE P350-M LOAN IS APPROVED

If COA finds out that Gov. Sally Lee cannot liquidate the P260-M, Sally Lee should be charged with malversation of public funds before the Ombudsman. If Sally Lee could not even account for the P260-M loan, why would PNB or the LBP even entertain granting the P350-M loan to her husband?

Court Information furnished to me by Mr. Fulton Baylon, an anti-graft fighter in Sorsogon, shows that Gov. Raul R. Lee, Raul G. Hernandez, Sorsogon Provincial Chief Accountant, and Ofelia D. Velasco, Sorsogon Provincial Treasurer, have been charged with violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. 3019) by Ombudsman Orlando C. Casimiro after a preliminary investigation for buying P2,640,000.00 (US$62,857.00) Bio Nature Liquid Fertilizer from Feshan Phil. Inc. without public bidding.

The overpriced liquid fertilizer, according to former DA (Dept. of Agriculture) Regional Executive Director Fe Laysa, is “not appropriate for rice and corn, the principal crops in the region” but it is good for “hanging plants like orchids and other ornamental plants, which however, are not among the priority commodities for development and support.”

In another case supplied to me by Mr. Baylon, the Ombudsman also charged Gov. Raul R. Lee, Atty. Cesar J. Balmaceda, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Antonio R. Huab, Provincial Engineer’s Office Engr. Arnie de Vera, Assistant Provincial Budget Officer Rosie D. Agnis, Provincial Assessor Florenco C. Dino II, Provincial General Services Officer Teresita D. Paladin, Accounting Clerk III Felicisimo D. Brondial, Inspection Officer Manuel S. Laurora and Enrico T. Velasco, Presidential and CEO of First Education & Training Ventures, Inc. of San Juan City, Metro Manila with accepting P12, 000,000.00 (US$285,714.00) satellite and office equipments and a recurrent fee of US$24,000 on March 29, 2004 from FETVI before FETVI was awarded the contract on March 30, 2004 without public bidding.

The same respondents are also accused of obtaining 300 sets of computer hardware and software in the amount P10,000,000.00 (US$238,095) from a loan with the Philippine National Bank. The only problem with these computers is that they are all “reconditioned/slightly used” instead of the “brand new fresh commercial stock supplies or property” required by the COA Circular.

Oh, well the accused in Sorsogon are not as large as the crocodiles in the Philippine Congress and Malacanang but they can grow as big if they will be left in the wild (or go unpunished).With these charging information, Secretary Jesse Robredo has now every reason to ask Governor Lee to cede his office to the Vice Governor, unless Mr. Lee can quash the information.

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Filed under Commentary, Graft and Corruption, Joseph Lariosa, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO), Views and Concern

President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2011 (English translation)

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona and the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; honorable members of the diplomatic corps; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; Local Government Officials; members of our Cabinet; members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; to my fellow servants of the Filipino people;

And to my beloved countrymen, my Bosses:

I stood before you during my inauguration and promised: we would do away with the use of the wang-wang. This one gesture has become the symbol of change, not just in our streets, but even in our collective attitude.

Over the years, the wang-wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the wang-wang mindset; this is the mindset of entitlement.

They had no right to do this. The law authorizes only the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances to use sirens in the fulfillment of their official duties—no one else. Yet the flagrant abuse we bore witness to prompts us to ask: if they felt it their privilege to flout the simplest traffic laws, how could we expect them not to help themselves to a share of projects funded by the Filipino people?

Do you want the corrupt held accountable? So do I. Do you want to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long? So do I. Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life? So do I.

We have fought against the wang-wang, and our efforts have yielded results. Just this year, the number of Filipinos who experienced hunger has come down. Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.

As for business, who would have thought that the stock market would reach seven record highs in the past year? At one time, we thought that for the PSE Index to reach 4,000 points would be, at best, a fluke. We now routinely exceed this threshold.

Our once low credit ratings have now been upgraded by Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency—in recognition of our prudent use of funds and creative financial management. These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion pesos in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year.

Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies. Compare this to the four upgrades we have achieved in the single year we have been in office. This was no small feat, considering that the upgrades came after ratings agencies have grown considerably more conservative in their assessments, especially in the wake of criticism they received after the recent American financial crisis. But while they have downgraded the ratings of other countries, they have upgraded ours, so that we are now just one notch below investment grade. Our economic team is hard at work to sustain the momentum.

And allow me to share more good news from the Department of Energy: having rid the DOE of wang-wang, we have revived the confidence of investors in our energy sector. 140 companies, all ready to participate in the exploration and strengthening of our oil and natural gas resources, can attest to this. Compare this to the last energy contracting round in 2006, which saw the participation of only 35 companies. Just last Friday, a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.

There is confidence and there is hope; the government is now fulfilling its promises. And I cannot help but remember a woman I spoke with during one of my first house-to-house campaigns. She lamented: “It won’t matter who wins these elections. Nothing will change. I was poor when our leaders campaigned, I am poor now that they are in office, and I will still be poor when they step down.” This is a grievance echoed by many: “Our leaders didn’t care about us then, our leaders don’t care about us now, and our leaders will not care about us tomorrow.”

Given the persistence of the wang-wang attitude, wasn’t their sentiment justified? This was the attitude that allowed helicopters to be bought as if they were brand new, but had in fact already been extensively used. This was the attitude that allowed GOCC officials, like those in the Philippine National Construction Corporation, to pay themselves millions of pesos in bonuses, even as they failed to render decent service and plunged their respective agencies deeper into debt. Before they stepped down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted themselves with two hundred and thirty-two million pesos. Their franchise had lapsed in 2007; their collections should have been remitted to the national government. They did not do this, and in fact even took advantage of their positions: the bonuses they allotted to themselves in the first 6 months of 2010 was double the amount of their bonuses from 2005-2009. Yet they had the audacity to award themselves midnight bonuses, when they had already drowned their agencies in debt.

To end the wang-wang culture in government, we employed zero-based budgeting to review programs. For this year and the last, zero-based budgeting has allowed us to end many wasteful programs.

For example, we uncovered and stopped an ill-advised plan to dredge Laguna Lake. We would have borrowed 18.7 billion pesos to remove 12 million cubic meters of silt—which would have re-accumulated within three years, even before the debt could be fully paid. We also uncovered a food-for-school program with no proper targeting of beneficiaries, and other initiatives that were funded without apparent results. All of these were discontinued, and the funds rechanneled to more effective programs.

The budget is the clearest manifestation of the straight path upon which we tread. I say to those who would lead us astray: if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people, do not even think about it.

I wish we could say that we had completely eliminated the wang-wang attitude, but in some parts of our consciousness, it still persists.

It still exists in the private sector. According to the BIR, we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe.

Today we can see that our taxes are going where they should, and therefore there is no reason not to pay the proper taxes. I say to you: it’s not just the government, but our fellow citizens, who are cheated out of the benefits that these taxes would have provided.

We are holding accountable—and we will continue to hold accountable—those who practice this culture of entitlement in all government offices, as there are still some who think they can get away with it. A district in Region 4B, for example, began a project worth 300 million pesos, well beyond the 50 million pesos that district engineers can sign off on their own. But they could not leave such a potentially large payday alone.

So they cut the project up into components that would not breach the 50 million peso limit that would have required them to seek clearance from the regional and central offices. They tried to keep this system going. And often, since lump-sum funding was being used for the projects, no questions were asked about the plans or project details. They could have been spinning webs and they would have still been given the funds, so long as they knew someone in power.

Secretary Babes Singson did not let them get away with this. He removed the district engineer from his post, and suspended the awarding of the project in an effort to uncover other anomalies that may have happened. A thorough investigation of all those involved in the case is underway; we will blacklist all contractors proven to have engaged in foul play.

Because the project had to be delayed, Filipinos who would have otherwise benefited from them are still made to face unnecessary inconveniences.

These anomalies are not limited to Region 4B. We are putting an end to them. We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.

Because of this, we have already saved 2.5 billion pesos, and expect to save 6 to 7 billion by the end of this year. The most important thing, however, is that now, we can count on well-paved roads—as opposed to the fragile pothole-ridden paths that our people had grown used to. Once, we believed that the system in the DPWH was impossible to fix; but look—it’s possible, and we’re fixing it.

Even in agriculture, the culture of wang-wang once persisted. Before we came into office in 2010, the Philippines imported 2.3 million metric tons of rice, which was already a million metric tons more than the 1.3 million that we needed. We even had to pay extra for warehouses to store the rice acquired through excessive importation.

How many years have we been over-importing rice? Many Filipinos thought that there was nothing we could do about it.

We proved them wrong in the span of a year. What was once an estimated yearly shortage of 1.3 million metric tons is down to 660,000—that’s almost half of the original amount. Even with our buffer of 200,000 metric tons as contingency against natural calamities, it is still significantly less than what was once the norm.

Our success in this sector was not brought about by mere luck. This is simply the result of doing things right: using the most effective types of seedlings, and careful and efficient spending on irrigation. In the past year, we irrigated an additional 11,611 hectares of fields, not to mention the near 212,000 hectares of land we were able to rehabilitate. The result: a 15.6 percent increase in rice production.

We envision two things: first, an end to over-importation that only serves to benefit the selfish few. Second: we want rice self-sufficiency—that the rice served on every Filipino’s dinner table is planted here, harvested here, and purchased here.

Let us look back on the situations of many of our policemen a year ago. The average salary of a common PO1 in Metro Manila is around 13,000 pesos. Around 4,000 pesos or about a third of their salaries goes directly to paying the rent. Another third goes to food, and the final third is all that is left for electricity and water bills, commuting, tuition fees, medicine, and everything else. Ideally, their salaries match their expenses—but this is not always the case. Those whose salaries are not enough would probably resort to taking out some loans. What happens when the interest piles up and they end up having to spend even more of their salaries? Will they still be able to do the right thing when tempted with an opportunity to make a quick buck?

This is why, this July, we have followed through on the housing promise we made in February. We were able to award 4,000 Certificates of Entitlement to Lot Allocation. This is only the first batch of the 21,800 houses we will have constructed by the end of the year. Awarding our men in uniform these houses will turn their 4,000 peso rent expense into an initial 200 peso per month payment for a house that is all theirs. The cash they once paid for rent can now be used for other needs.

I hear that there are still more than a thousand houses left, so for our policemen and our soldiers who have not yet submitted their papers, this is the last call for this batch of houses. But do not worry, because this housing program will continue next year, covering even more people and more regions. The NHA is already preparing the sites for housing projects in Visayas and Mindanao, with an expanded list of beneficiaries that will also include employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and of the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Speaking of security, does enhanced security not also enhance our national pride? There was a time when we couldn’t appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.

At times I wonder if the stories about some of our past stand-offs are true—that when cannons were aimed at our marines, they could only reciprocate by cutting down a coconut tree, painting it black, and aiming it back. True or not, that time is over. Soon, we will be seeing capability upgrades and the modernization of the equipment of our armed forces. At this very moment, our very first Hamilton Class Cutter is on its way to our shores. We may acquire more vessels in the future—these, in addition to helicopters and patrol crafts, and the weapons that the AFP, PNP, and DOJ will buy in bulk to get a significant discount. This goes to show how far we can go with good governance; we can buy equipment at good prices, without having to place envelopes in anyone’s pockets.

We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours. We are also studying the possibility of elevating the case on the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to make certain that all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance.

Our efforts to enhance the capabilities of our men and women in uniform are already succeeding. In the first six months of 2010, we had 1,010 cases of car and motorcycle theft. Compare that to the 460 cases in the first six months of 2011. Unfortunately, it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines, and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.

And here is another example of positive change in law enforcement. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was signed in 2003. Unfortunately, because the government did not properly implement it, only 29 individuals were convicted in a period of seven years. In just one year, we have breached that amount, convicting 31 human traffickers. Perhaps, this is the “sea change” that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was referring to; and because of this change, the Philippines has been taken off the Tier 2 Watchlist of their Trafficking in Persons Report. If we had not been removed from this watchlist, the assistance we have been receiving from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, would have been jeopardized.

Allow me to talk about jobs now. Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at 7.2%.

To put things into perspective: We must all remember that the ranks of the unemployed represent a moving target. Every year, thousands of fresh graduates join the ranks of job hunters. Last year, the number of unemployed Filipinos in our labor force grew after many of our countrymen who earned a temporary living from election-related jobs—the people assigned to hanging buntings, the people tasked with clearing a path for politicians in crowds of people, the drivers, and other campaign staff—were laid off. But, despite all this, our results make our success evident: one million and four hundred thousand jobs were created last year.

Before, our foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, the Filipino can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dreams with determination and diligence, he can realize them.

The number of jobs generated in our country can only grow from here. According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies. We will not allow this opportunity to go to waste; at this very moment, DOLE, CHED, TESDA, and DepEd are working together to address this issue. Curricula will be reviewed and analyzed to better direct them to industries that are in need of workers, and students will be guided so that they may choose courses that will arm them with the skills apt for vacant jobs.

Despite the demand for these jobs, there are still people who are being left behind. What do we do with them? First, we identified the poorest of the poor, and invested in them, because people are our greatest resource. Of the two million families registered with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 1.6 million are already receiving their conditional cash transfers. Through the initiative and leadership of Secretary Dinky Soliman, we have been able to give much needed assistance to an average of more than 100,000 families per month. I am optimistic that we will reach our target of 1.3 million additional beneficiaries this year. With a compliance rate of 92%, millions of mothers are already getting regular check-ups at public health centers, millions of babies are being vaccinated against common diseases, and millions of school-aged children are now attending classes.

With these significant early results, I am counting on the support of the Filipino people and Congress to expand our Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Before the end of 2012, we want to invest in the future of 3 million poor families.

We are giving these poor families a chance to improve their lives, because their progress will be the country’s progress. How can they buy products and services from businesses if they do not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do we not run the risk of getting sick as well?

We are laying down the foundations for a brighter future for the poor. For example, in the health sector: PhilHealth beneficiaries increased during elections, as the agency was used as a tool for dispensing political patronage. Today, we identify beneficiaries through the National Household Targeting System, to make sure that the 5.2 million Filipino families who benefit from PhilHealth are those who really need it.
Let us turn our attention to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.

According to the Commission on Audit, in the office of the regional governor of ARMM, eighty percent of the funds disbursed were for cash advances that cannot be justified. If those funds had not gone to waste, a child could have gone to school. Instead, we built ghost bridges to reach ghost schools where only ghost teachers went to work.

We want ARMM to experience the benefits of good governance. And so, the solution: Synchronization—candidates in ARMM will run at the same time as candidates in other parts of the country. There would be less opportunity for them to employ command votes for political patrons. The result would be fairer elections. Thank you to Congress for passing the law synchronizing ARMM with the national elections.

And why do we need to postpone the elections? Because, in their desire to return to or retain power, many are prepared to engage in corrupt practices just to win again. Imagine if we had listened to the critics, and allowed the election to proceed under these circumstances. We would have perpetuated the endless cycle of electoral fraud and official abuse that has led ARMM to become one of the poorest regions in the country.

I do not doubt that the reforms we are putting in place will yield concrete results. When we talk about the straight and righteous path, we talk about that new road that was built in Barangay Bagumbayan in Sta. Maria, Laguna. When we say clean government, we are talking about the clean water that residents in Barangay Poblacion in Ferrol, Romblon now enjoy. When we refer to the light of change, we also refer to the electricity that now powers light bulbs in Barangay San Marcos in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This is happening in many other places, and we will make it happen everywhere in our country.

Government agencies are now focused on realizing this; they are working together to creatively solve the problems that have long plagued our country.

Have we not had flooding problems, which we know are caused by the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees? The old solution: A tree-planting photo opportunity, whose sole beneficiaries are politicians who want to look good. They plant trees, but they do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they leave.

One of the possible solutions we are studying is to make the stewardship of these trees beneficial to communities. They will be given coffee and cacao seeds to plant. While they wait for harvest, they will receive stipends for safeguarding the trees planted to mitigate flooding. We are looking at informal settlers, who are currently crammed into our cities, as possible beneficiaries of this program. We will be investing in the people, even as we invest in the environment.

Who could have thought that little over a year ago, we could accomplish this? Today, we dream; one day soon, these dreams will be a reality.

This same creativity is in display with the innovations that are already being implemented. We have developed low-cost traps that kill mosquito larvae, probably contributing to the nearly fourteen percent decrease in dengue incidents; coconut coir fibers that are normally just disposed of have been used as a cost-effective way to strengthen our roads; we have landslide sensors that warn when soil erosion has reached dangerous levels; we have developed early flood warning systems for riverside communities. All of these are products of Filipino creativity.

DOST and UP have even teamed up to develop a prototype monorail system, which could potentially provide a home grown mass transport solution that would cost us as little as 100 million pesos per kilometer, much cheaper than the current cost of similar mass transit systems. The potential savings could result in more kilometers of cheap transport, decongesting our urban centers and allowing rural communities easier access to centers of commerce and industry.

Let me reiterate: These proposals were developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. Do you remember the time when we were unable to even dream of these kinds of projects? I am telling you now: We can dream about them, we are capable of achieving them, and we will achieve them. Isn’t it great to be a Filipino living in these times?

All of these things we are doing will be wasted if we do not do something to end the culture of corruption.

To my colleagues in public service, from those at the top and to every corner of the bureaucracy: Do we not feel the pride that working in government now brings? That, now, we are proud to be identified as workers in government? Will we waste this honor?

I call on our Local Government Units: Those of you who are in the best position to understand the needs of your constituents can expect greater freedom and empowerment. But we trust that in providing for your communities, you will remain committed to the straight path, and will not lose sight of the interest of the whole nation.

For instance, there are some municipalities that want to tax the electricity transmission lines that run through their jurisdictions. Although this will augment local coffers, the rest of the Filipino people will have to deal with higher electricity rates. Let us try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of the nation as a whole.

It is imperative that our programs remain in sync, because the progress of the entire country will also redound to progress for your communities. Let us do away with forward planning that only looks as far as the next election, and think of the long-term national good.

Ultimately, we have to unite and work together towards this progress. I thank the Congress for passing laws regarding GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, and Women Night Workers.

Last year, Congress demonstrated their support by approving the budget even before the year ended. The timely passage of the budget allowed projects to be implemented more quickly. Tomorrow we will deliver to Congress our budget proposal for 2012. I look forward once again to its early passage so that we can build on our current momentum.

We have already made progress, but we must remember: This is only the beginning, and there is much left for us to do. Allow me to present to Congress some of the measures that will bring us closer to the fulfillment of our pledge to the nation.

We aim to give due compensation to the victims of Martial Law; to grant our house help the salaries and benefits that they deserve; and to improve the system that awards pensions to our retired soldiers. We likewise support the expansion of the scope of scholarships granted by DOST to outstanding yet underprivileged students; the advancement of universal quality healthcare; the responsible management of the environment; and the formation of facilities that will ensure the safety of our citizens during times of great need and calamity.
Our agenda also includes the development of BuCor, NBI, NEA, and PTV 4, so that, instead of lagging behind the times, they will better fulfill their mandate of public service.
Not everything we want to do will be explained today, but I invite you to read the budget message, which contains a more comprehensive plan for the coming year.

Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal. Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal. It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been victimized by corruption.

What is wrong remains wrong, regardless of how long it has been allowed to persist. We cannot simply let it pass. If we ignore the crimes of the past, they will continue to haunt us. And if we do not hold people accountable, then they will do it again and again.

The truth is, we have uncovered so many anomalies. In PAGCOR, the previous management apparently spent one billion pesos on coffee alone. At one hundred pesos per cup, that would be ten million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to sleep in the last few years.

When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government. I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices. And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty.

We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals. I have utmost confidence that the DOJ is fulfilling its crucial role in jailing offenders, especially in cases regarding tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, and extrajudicial killings.

We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes.

This has always been the plan: to level the playing field; to stop the abuse of authority; and to ensure that the benefits of growth are available to the greatest number.

We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang: along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole. This will bring confidence that will attract business; this will also ensure that the people’s money is put in its rightful place: Funding for infrastructure that will secure the sustained growth of the economy, which will then give rise to jobs, and public service that guarantees that no one will be left behind. More opportunities for livelihood will be opened by tourism; the strengthening of our agriculture sector will ensure that every Filipino will have food on his table. We will invest on those who were once neglected. All this will create a cycle wherein all available jobs are filled, and where businesses flourish through the empowerment of their consumers.

I am aware that, until now, there are still a few who complain about our style of governance. But you have seen our style, and its ensuing results. You have seen their style, and, especially, where that took us. Anyone with their eyes open can clearly see which is right.

We are steering our government in a clear direction. A country where opportunity is available; where those in need are helped; where everyone’s sacrifices are rewarded; and where those who do wrong are held accountable.
I remember a woman warning me during the campaign: “Noy, be careful, you will be stepping on many toes.”

Sometimes, I do worry about what I am doing. But I am heartened because you are with me, and we stand on the side of what is right.

I thank the priests and bishops who have continued to dialogue with us, like Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Cardinal Rosales and I may not be the closest of friends, but I believe that he did all that he could to reduce the tensions between the church and the government. The election of Archbishop Palma, defender of human rights and of the environment, as head of the CBCP only bolsters my confidence that the state and the clergy will be able to engage each other in a positive manner. I likewise thank my Cabinet, who have sacrificed their personal comfort to fulfill the national agenda. I give special mention to PAGASA, who now truly delivers reliable advice and warnings during times of calamity.

And to those who may resist the change we are trying to bring about, this I say to you: I know what I must do, and my personal interests are nothing when compared to the interests of the nation. There are many of us who want what is right for this country; and there are more of us than you. To those of you who would turn back the tide of reform: you will not succeed.

To those who have chosen to tread the straight and righteous path alongside us: it is you who created this change, and it is you who will bequeath our success to your children. To the jeepney driver plying his route; to the teachers and students coming home from class; to the artists whose work inspires our sense of nationhood; to our policemen, our soldiers, our street sweepers, and our firemen; to you who work with honor, in the Philippines, in the oceans, or in other countries; our colleagues in government who stand steadfast with us, whatever province you come from, whatever party you belong to; every Filipino listening to me now—you made this happen.

You created a government that truly works for you. We still have five years left to ensure that we will not return to what once was. We will not be derailed, especially now that what we have begun has yielded so many positive results.

If you see a loophole in the system, do not take advantage of it. Let us not acquire through patronage what we can acquire through hard work. No more cheating, no more taking advantage of others, no more one-upmanship—because in the end we will all realize our shared aspirations.
Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember the last time we praised a fellow Filipino?
Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good that is being done.

If you see something right, do not think twice—praise it. If you see a policeman directing traffic, coatless beneath the rain—go to him and say, “Thank you.”

If you fall sick, and you see your nurse caring for you, when she could easily be treating foreigners for a higher salary—say, “Thank you.”

Before you leave school for home, approach your teacher who chose to invest in your future—say, “Thank you.”
If you chance upon your local leader on a road that was once riddled with holes, but is now smooth and sturdy—go to him and say, “Thank you, for the change you have brought.”
And so, to the Filipino nation, my Bosses who have steered us toward this day: Thank you very much for the change that is now upon us.

The Philippines and the Filipino people are, finally, truly alive.

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Brain drain And Minority Leader Danilo Suarez

by jun asuncion

 

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said in Philstar today :

- Aquino has turned the entire government machinery into “one wrecking crew” just to get back at leaders of the previous administration.

My comment: Who will do that otherwise? The Philippines of today is the result of corrupt leadership of the past administrations. Now they have to pay for it.

- “If your marching order is to dig up dirt to use against your enemies, instead of finding ways to improve the lives of Filipinos, you will self-destruct,” …

My comment: Finding ways to improve the lives of Filipinos? The lives of the Filipinos have never been improved because of corrupt and plundering leaders in all levels, from president of the past administrations to the governors and mayors even of today. They destroyed not only the Philippine economy but her people and all of  her institutions, - and ultimately also destroyed themselves now that they have to face the charges for the crimes they have perpetuated when they were up there in their respected offices freely serving their selfish interests. The fight against corruption and plunder is the best way to improve the Philippines. For then the flow of government resources will finally reach its designated targets. No economy and institutions will function properly with corrupt employees and when the flow of government resources ends up in their own pockets.

So President Aquino is doing the right thing because corruption is the root of our poverty. He started this corruption-free political culture in the Philippines, a courageous undertaking which deserves national and international recognition. I think a corruption-free culture is the key to a better Philippines. At the moment that’s really the only way to start improving the lives of Filipinos. This is a big social change happening  in the Philippines.

- “Imagine all the time and public resources to be spent on that one objective alone. And the people’s attention is turned to these issues, so the national attention is on these issues, not the real urgent problems that we must address collectively,” …

My comment: Danilo Suarez has forgotten how much time, opportunities and public resources have been lost during the time of Macapagal-Arroyo, Estrada and Marcos- and how much more we will be losing today and in the future if we don’t end this corruption culture in the Philippines. Alone the loss of good brains due to emigration of intellectuals, imprisonment, extra - judicial killings of thinking Filipino leaders of different sectors is irreplaceable. The loss of  money, of  tax money that should have gone to education, research, health programs, etc., is unaccountable. How about the loss of image? If you live abroad, you will know how the rest look down on us. We have suffered collectively because of these things caused by these people. Hence, we must address this urgent problem of corruption and social injustice collectively and help bring these people to justice.

- “They know that if you hit GMA you will be on the headlines,”…

My comment: When GMA was still president, she was always on the headlines for hitting the country hard and placing it as the most corrupt and plundered nation in Asia and of using the OFWs to her political advantage.  Now the world knows that GMA will soon be facing these criminal charges against her and her old machineries of corruption. Her Ombudsman Gutierrez – a woman who was supposed to fight corruption –  had to go because of  favoring corruption. Already a win for Philippine  justice. “Talk to my lawyers”, was GMA’s response to the inquiring journalists at the airport. Lawyers are professionals and are paid to create good defense argumentation out of  GMA’s miserable situation. But justice doesn’t end there.

To sum up, I think Minority leader Danilo Suarez is a living proof of brain drain in the Philippines.

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Fertilizer Scam: Two Graft Charges Against Governor Raul Lee of Sorsogon

By Michael Punongbayan (Philstar)

 

 The ombudsman earlier filed two graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against incumbent Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee, accountant Raul Hernandez and provincial treasurer Ofelia Velasco.       

 The ombudsman said that the accused caused undue injury to the government by approving the purchase of 2,133 liters of Bio Nature Liquid Fertilizer from Feshan Philippines Inc. in 2004.

The provincial government purchased the fertilizer at P1,500 per liter against prevailing market price of only P180/liter.  

Graft investigators said the purchase was accomplished through two separate transactions involving payment for 133 liters of liquid fertilizer on May 6, 2004 for P189,525 and another 2,000 liters for P3 million on June 28, 2004.        

The ombudsman noted that Lee favored Feshan as the sole distributor of the fertilizers when in fact the “mode of procurement through exclusive distributorship is not appropriate.”           

The ombudsman said that the deficient documentary requirement for the purchases indicated irregularity that can only be attributed to respondents who all took part in the release of payments in favor of Feshan. With Paolo Romero, Edu Punay, Marvin Sy

Read the full Article by Michael Punongbayan
GMA faces probe on fertilizer scam
By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) Updated July 05, 2011 12

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Carpetbaggers Back Off My Boyhood Town!

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Joseph Lariosa

(© Journal Group Link International)

C HICAGO (jGLi) – When I was a young boy vacationing in the native town of my mother, Consolacion G. Garra, in Matnog, Sorsogon, Luzon’s gateway to Southern Philippines, I always wondered why its white beaches had sprinklings of black sands.

It turned out those black sands are called “margahas,” which I later came to know as magnetite sands.

With no money to buy toys, we used these margahas to entertain us. We would put a trickle of these black sands on top of a small piece of grade school pad paper and put a magnet or magnetite stone (bato balani) below the paper and we would run the magnet in different directions.

Because the margahas is attracted to the magnets, these black sands would stand up on end, like soldiers, if we moved the magnet or bato balani below the paper. The margahas would follow the magnet like dutiful soldiers.

And it gave us a kick because it put matters under our control.

I had no idea that these margahas and bato balani abundant in Matnog and the whole of the Bicol region were iron oxide minerals that are often mined as an ore or iron. It is commonly used as abrasive in water jet cutting, as toner in electrophotography and as micronutrient in fertilizers, as pigments in paint, etc.

These magnetic minerals attracted nationwide attention in November 2005 when two sacks of dead fishes were allegedly buried in Barangay Binosawan in Rapu-Rapu, an island town of Sorsogon’s neighboring province of Albay to the north.

For these margahas and bato balani to be of commercial use, they have to be mined. During their mining, they would give off toxic discharges, like cyanide, that emptied into Albay Gulf and into the Pacific Ocean that flowed south to neighboring towns of Prieto Diaz, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan and Bacon (now part of the capitol town of Sorsogon City), all in Sorsogon province.

GLORIA ARROYO’S SHINING MOMENT

The cyanide poisoning caused massive fish kills in the area prompting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to create the Presidential Rapu Rapu Fact Finding Commission Report, and a separate DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Assessment of the Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Project, both in 2006.

In one of then-President Arroyo’s rare shining moments, she approved the Commission’s report to junk the “$45-million in capital investments from Lafayette, Philippines, Inc. (LPI) of Australia, as well as $10-million investments from LG Group of Korea” that were jointly mining in Rapu Rapu. Ms. Arroyo learned that LPI’s Country Manager Mr. Roderick Watt “inadvertently stated in his letter” to her that LPI’s PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) application did not need the Mayor’s (Rapu Rapu’s) concurrence.

More damaging, however, was the forgery of Rapu Rapu Sangguniang Bayan Secretary’s signature in the SB resolution that granted “ecozone” permit to LPI for tax-exemption.

As a PEZA registrant, LPI certified that it would not endanger public safety or public health or violate anti-pollution requirements by installing pollution-control devices.

As a result of the fish kills, the National Economic Development Authority recommended the LPI’s “tax-free status” revoked. While the DENR ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue to investigate possible tax fraud as a mere two percent was paid in excise tax for the year 2005 for PhP 2,065,511.54, out of the $2.4-million ore exported.

But the most damning information issued by the Commission is the finding that the “DENR, its bureaus, i.e., MGB (Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau) and EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), its regional offices, including its monitoring team, (are) to be so dysfunctional as to be unable to prevent the occurrence of the October (fish kills) incidents. They simply did not have the sufficient capability of monitoring mining operations in Rapu-Rapu. Worse, though, is that if they had the capability, then, they utterly lacked will.”

“UNWARRANTED AND UNTOLD SUFFERINGS”

I wonder if my friend, Sorsogon Gov. Raul R. Lee, ever read these reports. He was quoted in the report as saying that in Sorsogon, the fish scare caused “unwarranted and untold sufferings” to fisher folk families, fish traders and the fish consuming public. Did the good governor ever sue the LPI for damages to assuage the “unwarranted and untold sufferings” of his constituents?

A registered mail sent me by Gov. Lee justifies the approval of a similar small-scale mining operation, like Rapu-Rapu’s, in a small barangay of Balocawe in Matnog consisting of 19,848 hectares.

The lucky mining permit holder is one Antonio Ocampo and/or Antonio Comerciase, Jr. of No. 3 Barangay Tomolin, Ligao, Albay. He was given a permit on “Sept. 23, 2009, to extract 25,000 metric tons of iron ore from Sept. 23, 2009, to Sept. 22, 2010, with an option to renew for the same length of period.”

Writer’s Note: Rapu-Rapu’s mining operation covers only 5,218 hectares and was able to extract 67,693 metric tons of gold ore mined in 2005 and exported $2.4-million worth of ore.

Governor Lee was prodded to send me a letter after I e-mailed DENR Secretary Ramon J. Paje that he should listen to the petition of “Save Matnog, Stop The Iron Project.” Secretary Paje, in turn, forwarded my e-mail to Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan of Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau in Bicol. Mr. Juan sent me a registered mail, informing Governor Lee about my complaint.

In his letter to the Governor, Director Juan said, “(M)ay we recommend that the Provincial Government conduct the necessary validation on the issues being raised and to inform Mr. Lariosa directly on the actions taken by your office”?

 THIS CABINET SECRETARY IS E-MAIL-FRIENDLY

 Governor Lee told me, the “Permit Holder (on Balocawe mining) was issued with an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) dated Aug. 13, 2009, by the DENR Environment Management Bureau (EMB V) on the basis of the submitted Project Study and Initial Environmental Examination Report after thorough evaluation of that Office who (sic) has the authority and capacity to undertake environmental assessment of projects within their area of jurisdiction.”

Mr. Governor, the permit was issued in August 2009, three years after the scathing Commission Report. My question to you is this: Did you get an assurance that remedial measures have now been undertaken since the Commission’s report in 2006 that indicted the “DENR, its bureaus (i.e. MGB (Mines and Geo-Sciences) and EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), its regional offices, including its monitoring team, (as) to be so dysfunctional as to be unable to prevent the occurrence of the October (fish-kill) incidents? They simply did not have the sufficient capability of monitoring mining operations in Rapu-Rapu. Worse, though, is that if they had the capability, then they utterly lacked (the) will”?

Does the mining permit holder have the LFI’s and LG’s of Korea combined resources in capital investment of $55-million to operate a much-bigger “small mining” operation that will ensure the public safety or ensure public health and not violate anti-pollution requirements by installing “control devices”? If so, who are his business partners?

In the event of a disaster, like a massive fish kills, or loss of the threatened Philippine Eagle owl (Bubo, Philippines), whose nest will be displaced by the clearing of the biodiversity area and occurrence of mudslides, is the permit holder capable of buying disaster insurance from Lloyds of London to appropriately compensate future victims, who in your words, may run into “unwarranted and untold sufferings”?

If you can answer, “yes” to all these questions, I will be behind this permit holder.

Meanwhile, I am appealing to President Noynoy Aquino and the Commission on Appointments to keep and confirm Mr. Paje as DENR Secretary and keep or promote Director Juan just for responding to my e-mail. Any other Cabinet Secretary or Bureau Director would have just deleted my e-mail complaint from their junk e-mails. 


Happy New Year to all! # # #

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

                                                               ————-end————–

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On Accusation And Conviction

 

by jun asuncion

 

Since quite a few of  the observers had indirectly suggested in their comments that the decisions made by the Sandiganbayan do not possess finality in their character, I reproduced herewith-  for clarification purposes and with due acknowledgement to the authors- entries from the Wikipedia about the Sandiganbayan Court, The Court Of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

First, it had astonished me to know that some of our Bulan Observers and writers do not classify the Sandiganbayan as an independent court by itself, that many of us do not know that verdict or convictions  made and promulgated  by its jurors are in themselves final, which means that if the convicted would not appeal his case to the Supreme Court for review, then  he or she must serve the sentence given by the Sandiganbayan.

Second, there seems to be a confusion among us about the meaning of accusation and conviction and quite a few suggest in their comments that conviction is the same as accusation.

Definitions

most dictionaries define accuse (transitive verb) as follows:

1 : to charge with a fault or offense : blame

2 : to charge with an offense judicially or by a public process

 and con·vict is defined as follows:

1. Law : To find or prove (someone) guilty of an offense or crime, especially by the verdict of a court.

2. To show or declare to be blameworthy; condemn

3. To make aware of one’s sinfulness or guilt.

And in common parlance, we call a person who is released from prison after serving his sentence as ex-convict, not ex-accused.

These two legal terms are two different things, the usage of which clearly suggests the momentary stage of the court trial. Accusation is used before and during the court hearing and conviction is used to denote the end of the court hearing when the final verdict has been made.

Hence, during the court hearing, the accused or defendant can either be convicted or even vindicated.

(Perhaps the term vindication may help us also clarify the confusion. Vindication  is defined as “to clear of accusation, blame, suspicion, or doubt with supporting arguments or proof.” Notice, it is to clear of accusation, not to clear of conviction!  Synonymous with it is the verb to acquit someone of something which means “to establish someone’s innocence of a criminal charge or the blame for some wrongdoing”)

It is clear then, that an accused cannot be declared a convict unless a court of law hands in a verdict to this effect.

And Sandiganbayan is a court of law.

Now, back to Jose Solis’ case,- and just talking about facts and things as they are known : Mr. Jose Solis (who is probably on temporary liberty) was convicted last March 3-  after he was accused by the Ombudsman and tried at the Sandiganbayan of violating anti-graft laws and of falsifying documents.

Part of the confusion about the terms accusation and conviction may be traced to how the reporters in some of the newspapers of national – and internet – circulation have interchangeably used the two terms as in the Manila Bulletin report reproduced hereunder. Note that in the first paragraph, the reporter used “convicted” only to use the term accused” again in 8th paragraph.

Now, when the Solis’ Case is elevated to the Supreme Court, decisions made by the Sandiganbayan and Solis’ renewed defense will be reviewed. In my understanding (and I stand to be corrected), alone this act of appealing  to the Supreme Court does not make yet the prior conviction made by the Sandiganbayan null and void. This phase of the case is actually the main cause of confusing conviction with accusation since the public now expects from the Supreme Court  either conviction (or confirmation of Sandiganbayan’s findings and sentence) or acquittal ( or non-confirmation or reversal), hence, putting Solis’ status by this sole expectation (at this stage of event) back to that of an accused!

But actually, “review on appeal is not as a matter of right, but “of sound judicial discretion and will be granted only when there are special and important reasons therefor”.[13] In the exercise of appellate review, the Supreme Court may reverse the decision of lower courts upon a finding of an “error of law”. The Court generally declines to engage in review the findings of fact made by the lower courts, although there are notable exceptions to this rule. The Court also refuses to entertain cases originally filed before it that should have been filed first with the trial courts.” (Wikipedia)

Now, what these “sound judicial discretion”, “error of laws” and “notable exceptions” mean, are things that define Philippine judicial system within the given political landscape that we all know.

jun asuncion

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Manila Bulletin

Sandiganbayan convicts Sorsogon representative

By GABRIEL S. MABUTAS March 4, 2010, 10:16am

The Sandiganbayan convicted on Wednesday Sorsogon Rep. Jose G. Solis for charges of graft and falsification of public documents allegedly for allowing the transfer of an inalienable land in favor of a private individual when he was still the Administrator of National Mapping and Resource Information Administration.

In a 67-page decision written by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, the Sandiganbayan’s 3rd Division rendered the decision after finding the lawmaker guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3-G of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The ruling was concurred in by Associate Justices Francisco Villaruz and Alex Quiroz.

Solis, along with private individual Florencia Garcia-Diaz, was slapped a jail term of six years and one month to 10 years.

The lawmaker was also meted out an accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

In the falsification case, Solis alone was sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of two years and four months and one day to six years and one day.

Solis personally appeared before the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division to hear the verdict.

“In every prosecution, the guilt of the accused has to be established invariably by proof beyond reasonable doubt. The elements of the crime must be shown to exist and be adequately proven. In this case, we are convinced that the prosecution has ably discharged this quantum of proof to sustain the conviction of accused Solis and Garcia-Diaz for violation of Section 3G of RA 3019,” the Sandiganbayan said.

It has given the accused five days to double their bail bond which shall be used for their temporary liberty. This, after the accused manifested that they are filing their motion for reconsideration.

The Sandiganbayan, however, acquitted other accused in the case namely Salvador Bonnevie, Virgilio Fabian Jr., Ireneo Valencia and Arthur Viernes, being the officials of NAMRIA who entered into the contract with Diaz, due to the failure of the prosecution to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The case against former Solicitor General Ricardo Galvez was dismissed since he passed away before the case was promulgated.

Court records show that on May 18, 1999, Solis, then official of NAMRIA, conspired with Diaz to enter into a compromise agreement for the registration of a real property, with a land area of 4,689 hectares, in favor of the latter and in gross disadvantage to the government.

It was alleged that the said parcel of land is not alienable or registerable as the same falls within the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

The title of the land was issued in the name of Melecio Padilla, from whom the title applicant Flora Garcia and now her heiress claimant Garcia-Diaz, derived her claim. But the Supreme Court later ruled that it is seriously flawed. On February 26, 1992, the Court of Appeals denied, in a ruling, the application of Garcia to have the lands registered in accordance with the agreement

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manilastandardtoday.com

MANILA, Philippines–The antigraft court Sandiganbayan on Wednesday sentenced to up to 10 years in jail an incumbent Sorsogon congressman after finding him guilty of graft and falsification for wrongly classifying a government lot to favor a private claimant more than 10 years ago.

The court’s third Division also disqualified from holding any public office Sorsogon second District Rep. Jose Solis, who is running for governor.

The court also found guilty of graft his co-accused, Florencia Garcia-Diaz, the private claimant who stood to benefit from the wrong classification of almost 5,000 hectares of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija.

Solis, who was present when the decision was promulgated, is planning to appeal his conviction. His lawyers, however, refused to give any statement when approached by the Inquirer.

Congressman gets 6 years for fake land sale

THE anti-graft court on Wednesday sentenced Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis to six to 10 years in jail for illegally awarding the title of a piece of land in Laur, Nueva Ecija, to a private person in 1999, when he was head of the National Mapping and Resource Information Administration.

The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division found Solis and his co-defendant, Florencia Garcia-Diaz, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating anti-graft laws.

“We are convinced that the prosecution has ably discharged [its duty] to sustain the conviction of [the accused],” the court said.

Solis, 70, a civil engineer and on his third term as congressman, was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The court gave him and Diaz five days to post bail for their temporary liberty.

Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz cleared three other defendants after prosecutors failed to establish their guilt. Another accused was not arraigned because he was at large.

The court said that on May 18, 1999, Solis conspired with Diaz to register in her name 4,689 hectares of land in Laur, Nueva Ecija, that was part of Fort Magsaysay, a military reservation.

It dismissed Solis’ defense that he was no longer connected with the Mapping Administration when the case happened, and that he had merely recommended the transfer of the piece of property on his subordinates’ recommendations.

“Accused Solis could not extricate himself from liability … [because] he was no longer connected with [the agency] at the time the compromise agreement was executed,” the court said. Macon Ramos Araneta

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 Sandiganbayan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Sandiganbayan is a special court in the Philippines which was established under Presidential Decree No. 1606. Its rank is equivalent to the Court of Appeals. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Presiding Justice. The Sandiganbayan building is located at Centennial Building, Commonwealth Ave., Batasan Road, Quezon City in Metro Manila.

The creation of the Sandiganbayan was originally provided for by Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines:

“SEC. 5. The National Assembly shall create a special court, to be known as Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and such other offenses committed by public officers and employees, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined by law.”

In obedience to this mandate, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, exercising the emergency legislative power granted him under Amendment No. 6 of the 1976 Amendments to the 1973 Constitution, issued on June 11, 1978, Presidential Decree No. 1486 creating the Sandiganbayan and putting it on the same level as what were then known as the Courts of First Instance, now the Regional Trial Courts. Shortly thereafter, however, the Sandiganbayan was elevated to the level of the Court of Appeals by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1606 issued on December 10, 1978.

At the start of its operation on February 12, 1979, the Sandiganbayan had only one Division, composed of the Presiding Justice, Hon. Manuel R. Pamaran, and two Associate Justices, Hon. Bernardo P. Fernandez and Hon. Romeo M. Escareal, and a skeleton force of fifteen (15). The start of the third year of the Court’s operation in 1981 was marked by the activation of the Second Division. The appointment of three more Justices of the Third Division in August 4, 1982 completed the full membership of the Court.

The People Power Revolution of February 1986 signaled the beginning of a new dispensation, caused substantial changes in the entire government machinery, including the judiciary. However, both the “Freedom Constitution” and the new Constitution have seen fit to maintain the Sandiganbayan as one of the principal instruments of public accountability. In furtherance of this, its jurisdiction has been broadened to include the so-called “ill-gotten wealth” cases investigated by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) through Executive Orders No. 14 and No. 14-A. In the reorganization program of the new government, the resignation of some of the members of the Court was accepted leading to the appointment of a new Presiding Justice in the person of Hon. Francis E. Garchitorena.

To further strengthen the functional and structural organization of the Sandiganbayan, several amendments have been introduced to the original law creating it, the latest of which are Republic Acts No. 7975 and No. 8249. Under these new laws, the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is now confined to cases involving public officials occupying positions classified as salary grade “27” and higher. As restructured, the Sandiganbayan is presently composed of a Presiding Justice and fourteen (14) Associate Justices who sit in five (5) Divisions of three Justices each in the trial and determination of cases.

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Philippine Court of Appeals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Philippine Court of Appeals (Filipino: Hukumang Paghahabol ng Pilipinas) is the Philippines’ second highest judicial court, just after the Supreme Court. The court consists of 68 Associate Justices and 1 Presiding Justice. Pursuant to the Constitution, the Court of Appeals “reviews not only the decisions and orders of the Regional Trial Courts nationwide but also those of the Court of Tax Appeals, as well as the awards, judgments, final orders or resolutions of, or authorized by 21 Quasi-Judicial Agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions mentioned in Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, plus the National Amnesty Commission (Pres. Proclamation No. 347 of 1994) and Office of the Ombudsman (Fabian v. Desierto, 295 SCRA 470). Added to the formidable list are the decisions and resolutions of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which are now initially reviewable by this court, instead of a direct recourse to the Supreme Court, via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 (St. Martin Funeral Homes v. NLRC, 295 SCRA 414)”. 

 On July 28, 1986, President Aquino issued Executive Order No.33 restoring the original name of the Court of Appeals with a Presiding Justice and fifty (50) Associate Justices.

On February 23, 1995, R.A. No. 7902 was passed expanding the jurisdiction of the Court effective March 18, 1995. On December 30, 1996, R.A. No. 8246 created six (6) more divisions in the Court, thereby increasing its membership from 51 to 69 Justices. These additional divisions – 3 for Visayas and 3 for Mindanao paved the way for the appellate court’s regionalization. The CA in the Visayas sits in Cebu City while Cagayan de Oro City is home to the CA for Mindanao.

On February 1, 2010, the Court celebrated its 74th Anniversary.[2]

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Supreme Court of the Philippines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 The Supreme Court of the Philippines (Filipino: Kataas-taasang Hukuman ng Pilipinas or Korte Suprema) is the Philippines’ highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice. Pursuant to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has “administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof”.

Functions

The powers of the Supreme Court are defined in Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. These functions may be generally divided into two – judicial functions and administrative functions. The administrative functions of the Court pertain to the supervision and control over the Philippine judiciary and its employees, as well as over members of the Philippine bar. Pursuant to these functions, the Court is empowered to order a change of venue of trial in order to avoid a miscarriage of justice and to appoint all officials and employees of the judiciary.[10] The Court is further authorized to promulgate the rules for admission to the practice of law, for legal assistance to the underprivileged, and the procedural rules to be observed in all courts.[11]

The more prominent role of the Court is located in the exercise of its judicial functions. Section 1 of Article VIII contains definition of judicial power that had not been found in previous constitutions. The provision states in part that:

Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.

The definition reaffirms the power of the Supreme Court to engage in judicial review, a power that had traditionally belonged to the Court even before this provision was enacted. Still, this new provision effectively dissuades from the easy resort to the political question doctrine as a means of declining to review a law or state action, as was often done by the Court during the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.[12] As a result, the existence of “grave abuse of discretion” on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government is sufficient basis to nullify state action.

 Cases

The Court is authorized to sit either en banc or in divisions of 3, 5 or 7 members. Since the 1970s, the Court has constituted itself in 3 divisions with 5 members each. Majority of the cases are heard and decided by the divisions, rather than the court en banc. However, the Constitution requires that the Court hear en banc “[a]ll cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, as well as “those involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations”.[4] The Court en banc also decides cases originally heard by a division when a majority vote cannot be reached within the division. The Court also has the discretion to hear a case en banc even if no constitutional issue is involved, as it typically does if the decision would reverse precedent or presents novel or important questions.

Appellate review

Far and away the most common mode by which a case reaches the Supreme Court is through an appeal from a decision rendered by a lower court. Appealed cases generally originate from lawsuits or criminal indictments filed and tried before the trial courts. These decisions of the trial courts may then be elevated on appeal to the Court of Appeals, or more rarely, directly to the Supreme Court if only “questions of law” are involved. Apart from decisions of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may also directly review on appeal decisions rendered by the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals. Decisions rendered by administrative agencies are not directly appealable to the Supreme Court, they must be first challenged before the Court of Appeals. However, decisions of the Commission on Elections may be elevated directly for review to the Supreme Court, although the procedure is not, strictly speaking, in the nature of an appeal.

Review on appeal is not as a matter of right, but “of sound judicial discretion and will be granted only when there are special and important reasons therefor”.[13] In the exercise of appellate review, the Supreme Court may reverse the decision of lower courts upon a finding of an “error of law”. The Court generally declines to engage in review the findings of fact made by the lower courts, although there are notable exceptions to this rule. The Court also refuses to entertain cases originally filed before it that should have been filed first with the trial courts.

……………………..

Judicial corruption

On January 25, 2005, and on December 10, 2006, Philippines Social Weather Stations released the results of its 2 surveys on corruption in the judiciary; it published that: a) like 1995, 1/4 of lawyers said many/very many judges are corrupt. But (49%) stated that a judges received bribes, just 8% of lawyers admitted they reported the bribery, because they could not prove it. [Tables 8-9]; judges, however, said, just 7% call many/very many judges as corrupt[Tables 10-11];b) “Judges see some corruption; proportions who said – many/very many corrupt judges or justices: 17% in reference to RTC judges, 14% to MTC judges, 12% to Court of Appeals justices, 4% i to Shari’a Court judges, 4% to Sandiganbayan justices and 2% in reference to Supreme Court justices [Table 15].[27][28]

The September 14, 2008, Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) survey, ranked the Philippines 6th (6.10) among corrupt Asian judicial systems. PERC stated that “despite India and the Philippines being democracies, expatriates did not look favourably on their judicial systems because of corruption.” PERC reported Hong Kong and Singapore have the best judicial systems in Asia, with Indonesia and Vietnam the worst: Hong Kong’s judicial system scored 1.45 on the scale (zero representing the best performance and 10 the worst); Singapore with a grade of 1.92, followed by Japan (3.50), South Korea (4.62), Taiwan (4.93), the Philippines (6.10), Malaysia (6.47), India (6.50), Thailand (7.00), China (7.25), Vietnam’s (8.10) and Indonesia (8.26).[29][30]

In the September 23, 2008, Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (global survey ranking countries in terms of perceived corruption), the Philippines dropped to 141st, down 10 places from 2007, among 180 countries surveyed. It scored a 2.3 in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), lower than 2007′s 2.5, on a scale where 10 is the highest possible grade.[31][32][33] Vincent Lazatin, TAN executive director, said: “We are compared to our nearest neighbors Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, with Vietnam seen as eventually overtaking us in a few years. The difference is that (in other countries) when business sets aside money to grease the wheels, they know that they will get what they paid for. In the Philippines, there is no certainty.”[34]

“Bantay Korte Suprema”

“Watch the Supreme Court” coalition was launched at the Training Center, Ground Floor, Supreme Court Centennial Bldg on November 17, 2008, “to ensure the fair and honest selection of the 7 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court on 2009.” Members of “Bantay Korte Suprema” include retired Philippine presidents, retired Supreme Court justices, legislators, legal practitioners, the academe, the business community and the media. Senate President Jovito Salonga, UP Law Dean Marvic Leonen, Senate Majority Leader and JBC member Kiko Pangilinan, the Philippine Bar Association, Artemio Panganiban, and Atty. Rodolfo Urbiztondo, of the 48,000-strong Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and the chambers of commerce, witnessed the landmark event. BKS will neither select nor endorse a candidate, “but if it receive information that makes a candidate incompetent, it will divulge this to the public and inform the JBC.” At the BKS launching, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the public monitoring of the selection of justices to the SC was signed.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Appointments Watch (SCAW) coalition of law groups and civil society to monitor the appointment of persons to judicial positions was also re-launched. The SCAW consortium, composed of the Alternative Law Groups, Libertas, Philippine Association of law Schools and the Transparency and Accountability Network, together with the online news magazine Newsbreak, reactivated itself for the JBC selection process of candidates.[35][36][37][38]

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Crime Doesn’t Pay: Jose Solis Of Bulan Convicted Of Graft And Falsification

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Jose Solis)

 

Sorsogon lawmaker convicted of graft

By Edson C. Tandoc Jr.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 21:59:00 03/03/2010

Filed Under: Congress, Graft & Corruption, Crime

MANILA, Philippines–The antigraft court Sandiganbayan on Wednesday sentenced to up to 10 years in jail an incumbent Sorsogon congressman after finding him guilty of graft and falsification for wrongly classifying a government lot to favor a private claimant more than 10 years ago.

The court’s third Division also disqualified from holding any public office Sorsogon second District Rep. Jose Solis, who is running for governor.

The court also found guilty of graft his co-accused, Florencia Garcia-Diaz, the private claimant who stood to benefit from the wrong classification of almost 5,000 hectares of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija.

Solis, who was present when the decision was promulgated, is planning to appeal his conviction. His lawyers, however, refused to give any statement when approached by the Inquirer.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against Diaz and Solis, former administrator of the National Mapping and Resource Information Administration (Namria). Included in the graft complaint were former Solicitor General Ricardo Galvez; former Namria officer in charge Salvador Bonnevie; former Remote Sensing and Resource Data Analysis Department head Virgilio Fabian Jr.; and senior remote sensing technologists Ireneo Valencia and Arthur Viernes.

It also filed falsification charges against Solis, Bonnevie, Fabian, Valencia and Viernes.

The Sandiganbayan earlier dismissed the case against Galvez after he died in 2005, while it acquitted Bonnevie, Valencia and Viernes. Fabian remains at large.

The cases stemmed from the compromise agreement in May 1999 between Diaz and Galvez. The Office of the Solicitor General agreed to withdraw its opposition to Diaz’s ownership of at least 4,689 ha of government property.

The lot is part of the Nueva Ecija military reservation and, therefore, cannot be registered to any private owner. But a survey released by Namria and signed by Solis in February 1998 said the lot Diaz was claiming was outside the reservation.

This survey report became the basis of the settlement.

“In effect, the republic gave away an inalienable and unregistrable part of the public domain,” said the Sandiganbayan.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, said it was Namria’s survey, signed by Solis, which gave the illegal settlement a “semblance of propriety and legitimacy.” /

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