By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2016 Journal GlobaLinks)
NARITA, Japan (JGL) – I was on my way to Chicago, Illinois when I got a PM (private message) on my Facebook account that my cousin’s husband was gunned down because he refused to give up his dream to become a councilor in the municipality of Matnog, Sorsogon.
Seven bullets from a .45 pistol were pumped in various parts of the body of Cayetano “Onoy” G. Oro, Jr., 58, an UNA candidate, by two men, who fled after his killing in front of the house of Barangay Captain Nelson Gacis in Pawa, Matnog at about 6:20 p.m. on April 25.
I felt guilty because I was in Matnog a few days before the shooting for about five hours while I was writing a story for my outlets in one of the Internet cafes there. But I forgot to ask Onoy’s uncle, retired Matnog policeman Nonoy M. Garra, for me to talk to Onoy.
Onoy’s death followed the broad daylight shooting of Onoy’s uncle, also a retired policeman Virgilio “Bilyong” Garra, who was also gunned down after losing his election as Matnog councilor in the 2013 elections.
Like Onoy’s death, Bilyong death was also attributed to the “people’s justice” promoted by the New People’s Army (NPA’s).
In other words, Onoy’s death will be an unsolved crime again — a perfect crime, where killers will never be brought to justice – like Bilyong’s.
Will this murder of impunity stop if Mayor Duterte were elected president on Monday, May 9?
It remains to be seen.
I am not a big fan of Mayor Duterte, in fact I am leaning on voting for the Gobyernong may Puso, but if Duterte wins and make good his threat to pulverize the criminals, like the killers of Onoy and Bilyong, I might warm up to Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS).
Like Hitler’s SS (Schutzstaffel) or Marcos’ Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG) or Metrocom Strike Force (MSF), who could not shoot straight, President Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS) should still give killers of Onoy and Bilyong a day in court before DDS take matters into their own hands.
These killers should hope and pray that Mayor Duterte does not win on Monday.
NPA’S CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY TO BILYONG’S KILLING
The NPA’s had already claimed responsibility for the killing of Bilyong because they alleged Bilyong was pushing drugs. But the NPA’s brand of justice is spotty. If the hierarchy of NPA’s only investigated Bilyong first before killing him, they would learn that their intelligence information was flawed.
Bilyong could not have sold drugs because he did not even have money to buy medicine to cure his big boil on his neck. (Please note the towel covering his boil in this photo).
The Sorsogon Philippine National Police cannot go after the NPA’s even after the NPA’s claimed responsibility for the killing of Bilyong because the PNP said the relatives of Bilyong refused to file a complaint. Can you believe the alibi of the PNP? Who of the relatives in their right mind would file a complaint against the NPA’s when the PNP could not even provide protection to my relatives?
When there is dead body, a good police agency can motu proprio (on his own impulse) conduct a criminal investigation even if there is no complainant. The dead body is considered “evidence,” a “smoking gun.” Why wait for the scared complainant to come forward when the government under the Constitutional doctrine of “parens patriae” can extend protection to the victims of crime by prosecuting the criminals?
I’ve been prodding the relatives of Bilyong to sue the NPA’s but my relatives were hesitant to do so, because they feared they would be the next victims of NPA’s.
True enough, their fear and apprehension unfolded before their very eyes when Onoy was killed and the killing was attributed yet again to the usual suspects – the NPA’s.
But Onoy was not even a suspected drug pusher either, nor a common criminal. Onoy just wanted to make his dream as an elected municipal councilor come true.
Where is the outrage of the community?
But I have a feeling the NPA’s are terrorizing the peace-loving people of Matnog, the birthplace of my mother, because the NPA’s are conspiring with or are being coddled by local municipal officials of Matnog and Sorsogon provincial officials.
When the death of Bilyong was brought up two years ago in my conversation with Matnog Mayor Emilio G. Ubaldo, Mayor Ubaldo was silent. (Please see my photo with Mayor Ubaldo.)
According to grape vines when Bilyong ran for councilor in Matnog, Mayor Ubaldo felt threatened by Bilyong’s candidacy.
BILYONG WAS AS POOR AS A RAT
How can Bilyong become a threat to Mayor Ubaldo? Bilyong is as poor as a rat. His pension as a retired policeman was not even enough to feed himself. Bilyong did not even have money to buy medicine to cure the big boil on his neck. My sister and nephew gave Bilyong money to buy medicine to cure his boil but Bilyong saved the money for himself so he could keep his small business going while he endured the pain.
Bilyong obviously did not profit from his business because when he was gunned down, his boil was still sticking on his neck and was even growing!
And I surmise, Mayor Ubaldo also felt threatened by Onoy.
Bilyong and Onoy were only running for lowly municipal councilors. Why will Mayor Ubaldo feel threatened?
Mayor Ubaldo has been the undisputed political warlord in Matnog. Bilyong and Onoy were not even challenging him. Why doesn’t he let other people run for office in Matnog so they can also serve the people, like Bilyong’s granduncle, the late Lamberto “Papa Titong” G. Garra, who was a long-time outstanding councilor of Matnog with unblemished record?
Bilyong’s father, Jose “Papa Tote” G. Garra, was also a long-time municipal secretary of Matnog and was never involved in corruption.
NPA’S SHOULD BE PROSECUTED BY HRC
As for the NPA’s, who are extorting money from politicians by demanding “permit to campaign (PTC),” I suggest the government human rights commission (HRC) should prosecute these NPA’s. Reward money should be given to anonymous tipsters, who can give information of the extortion activities of the NPA’s to the HRC so the NPA’s do not know the anonymous tipster and the NPA’s do not know whom to retaliate against.
In the first district of Sorsogon, NPA’s demanded and was granted P1.2-M (US$26,666) by candidate running for congress while NPA’s demanded but was rejected when they demanded P500,000 (US$11,111) from a gubernatorial candidate (Eric Dioneda) of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party because the candidate does not have money. Eric Dioneda is the son of Sorsogon City mayoral candidate Leovic Dioneda, who died of heat stroke last week. Leovic will be replaced (or substituted) by his eldest daughter, Jo Abegail “Bem” Dioneda.
Onoy is going to be replaced (or substituted) by his sibling.
Another Sorsogon gubernatorial candidate, Bobby M. Reyes, who is running as an independent supporting Grace Poe, said he does not have money to pay the PTC to the NPA’s but he will focus his campaign on airwaves (radio/TV/social media) and print media so his message can hopefully reach out to the areas under the influence of the NPA’s.
If NPA’s extortion activities weaken because of the reward money, then reward money should also be given to anonymous tipsters of terrorists groups, like Abu Sayyaf.
In the case of jueteng lords, these jueteng lords should pay taxes to the Philippine government because they are using the transportation and communication lines and other facilities set up by the Philippine government. (email@example.com)
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City, a Jesuit priest, just like Pope Francis, has called for all Catholic voters not to vote for a presidential candidate who is a serial human rights violator. He did not name Duterte but simply referred to him as the “Mayor of Davao City.”
In a pastoral letter titled “A Matter of Conscience,” he scored the mayor and other local officials of Davao City for the unsolved extrajudicial killings of 1,424 individuals:
“These killings are immoral, illegal and sinful.” He then added that they could never be justified whoever the victims are.
He cited Redemptorist priest Fr. Amado Picardal, who knew about these killings perpetrated by the so-called group known as the Davao Death Squad. Picardal said that 57 of the victims were females and 132 were young people ages 12 to 17.
“None of the perpetrators have been arrested…A city with such a high rate of unsolved
killings cannot be called a city of peace and order,” said Archbishop Ledesma.
He stressed: “As Christians, we believe in the dignity of every person made in God’s image from which flow human rights — and the most basic of which is the right to life.”
Indeed, no good Catholic or Christian or any decent individual – can in good conscience vote for or support a mass murderer presidential candidate who openly declares that a policy of extrajudicial killings is an inherent part of his platform, in the name of peace and order.
The international New York-based Human Rights Watch documents Duterte as a serial human rights violator who leads the Davao Death Squad.
It has also been revealed that he has millions in deposits in pesos and dollars in various bank accounts and vast real estate holdings in his name and his children’s names. His salary as a mayor is only P78,000 pesos.
This monster from hell is a Pol Pot who will not hesitate to kill masses of people. Killing fields like in Cambodia – will be a common phenomenon if Duterte becomes President. He openly confesses to his involvement in killing over a thousand people.
He also absolutely shows no respect for women. He fantasizes about being first in line in gang raping a murdered beautiful Australian missionary. Before an audience with women present, he talks about molesting their housemaid and masturbating twice while doing so.
He also has openly announced his alliance with the Communists, showing much deference in his conference with Joma Sison, also a mass murderer, calling him “Sir” and would welcome him if he became President. As obviously observed, many extreme left elements are actively campaigning for Duterte. The Communists see a great opportunity for them to take over the government with this partnership. Like Hitler and his Nazi party, these godless, amoral conspirators will not hesitate to murder political enemies in their quest for power.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Archbishop Ledesma, Archbishop Villegas and other Archbishops openly call on Catholics to apply their Catholic values based on the teachings of Christ and not to vote for Duterte and tell their relatives and friends to do the same. Priests and nuns are gathering together praying and telling their flocks not to vote for this demon.
In good faith, all well-meaning people must come together. They owe it to God, to their fellowmen and to themselves to prevent the darkness of a terribly evil ruler from falling upon our land. Please do your part and be on the side of what’s right and good. Bravely face Duterte and the forces of evil. Four days left till Election Day. He cannot be allowed to be President.
This election is unquestionably about the fight between good versus evil.
Hundreds of almost century-old trees are set to be cut down to make way for wider roads in the coastal town, which is among the busiest and richest in the province.
Angry locals have questioned the government’s road widening projects. An online petition has been launched to stop the tree-cutting. Others have taken to the streets.
“Bulanenos should unite now to save the trees that have yet to be cut down by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” a Change.org petition read.
Bulan resident Ramil Agne, who posted the petition, told Yahoo Philippines that the DPWH has temporarily stopped the cutting of trees, pending a consultation.
He noted that the move came too late, however, as about 185 have already been cut from May 14 to 21. A total of 235 trees would be cut for the road work.
Officials have claimed that the roadside had to be cleared of trees to expand the highway to 20 meters from 15 meters, by adding 2.5 meters to each side.
“The traffic volume on our highway does not warrant a road widening project,” Agne said. He added that the 5-meter expansion “is not enough to call progress versus cutting trees.”
Many residents have also wondered why the road will be expanded when the local airport it leads to has been idle for decades. DPWH has not responded to requests for comment.
“I don’t want the trees to be cut down for the sake of useless road widening project. Road widening project will benefit only few people specially in terms of corruption,” said Andrew Zuniga, who signed the petition.
A “selfie campaign” has also been launched against the project, with netizens posting photos of themselves holding up appeals to save the town’s “tree tunnel.”
Bulan’s case is the latest in what netizens have taken to calling a tree-cutting rampage by the DPWH, most of them tagged unnecessary by the areas’ locals.
Earlier this month, locals in Los Banos, Laguna, protested the cutting of trees for a widening project covering a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road near Mt. Makiling.
Local officials in Iloilo City have meanwhile asked the DPWH to explain why so-called “heritage trees” have been cut down along the city’s General Luna highway.
In Naga City, the local government is also leading efforts against a plan to cut down at least 650 trees along the Maharlika Highway in Camarines Sur province.
“Thousands of trees all over the Philippines, many of them century-old, have been cut for road widening… Many more trees face the same fate,” a separate Change.org petition said.
The petition, posted by Ivan Henares, called on the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop cutting trees and review the policy.
“This review should provide a mechanism for genuine public consultation and a detailed scientific assessment the cutting of trees may have on the environment,” Henares said.
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)
CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – The New People’s Army used to have my respect for championing the causes for social justice and reform in the countryside.
If they keep on their murderous streak, like what they did to my first cousin, Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra, based on their faulty intelligence, they would turn up like the boy, who cried wolf. Nobody would believe them anymore that they could be the
alternative law enforcers or vigilantes for the oppressed Filipinos in the rural community.
Saying that they killed Garra, a retired Senior Police Officer 1 in the Philippine National Police, for being active in intelligence work in Matnog, Bulan and Magallanes in the Philippines against the NPA’s last July 24 at 6:45 a.m., the NPA’s took matters into their hands by executing (salvaging) him extra judicially without mercy in the middle of the street.
The NPA’s accused Garra of reporting their activities to the Philippine government’s Commanding Officer of the 31st Infantry (Army) Battalion.
So, what if Garra would still remain to be in the intelligence community after his retirement? If he would be reporting only the truth, I don’t see anything wrong with him taking a post-retirement second career path!
Garra was like some retired policemen joining a private security agency or as bouncer of some nightclubs or bodyguard to some celebrities and politicians, which are very much part of a field of his expertise. Other policemen, who retired from the mounted service, would even form an escort service to cater to funeral processions and wedding events.
At 55, Mr. Garra was too young to retire and to give up the knowledge he learned after years of training in the field that contributed to the maintenance of peace and order in his neighborhood.
His killers, the NPA’s so-called Celso Minguez Command in Matnog, had blamed him for causing the surrender of two members of the Command during the 90’s and in 2006.
Why would Mr. Garra be deprived of doing something that he loved to do that made him an effective supplier of prized information that helped the local military keep the peace in the neighborhood?
TRAITOR TO NPA’s, HERO TO THE GOVERNMENT
In the eyes of the NPA’s, Garra was a traitor to their cause. But in the eyes of the Philippine government, Garra was a hero!
This bunch of thugs and outlaws could not manufacture a more credible accusation against Bilyong. So, they contrived a ridiculous web of lies that Bilyong was being punished for being a “dealer of shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) that wrecks havoc on the health of Sorsoganons.
If my cousin were a drug dealer in the community, “in the schools and in the offices,” why was this accusation not ever raised when he ran for town-wide councilor of Matnog last May?
A real drug dealer, in his right mind, would not run the risk of exposing his reputation as a drug dealer by running for a public office, like Virgilio.
At a street value of 5,000 pesos (US$ 119.00) per gram or $167,683.30 to $251,524.90 (P6.7 million-P10 million) per kilogram, shabu should have made Virgilio a very rich man. He could have financed the surgical operation and the professional fees of the doctors, who could treat his “two baseball-sized boil” in the back of his neck. If Virgilio had sleepless nights, it was not because his conscience was bothering him because he was a drug dealer but because the boil in the back of his neck could not let him sleep if he lied down flat on his back!
But instead of spending the money sent Virgilio by his nephew, who is in the U.S. military, to have his boil treated, Virgilio used the money to buy a van that he needed in his small auto repair business. But when Virgilio’s wife needed the money to treat her cancer, Virgilio sold his auto repair business lock, stock and barrel to pay for the hospitalization of his cancer-stricken wife, who died last year.
To support his family, Virgilio started a rattan furniture business, which would not have been necessary, if he had a lucrative business in dealing shabu.
THEY SHOULD SHED THEIR DUTCH COURAGE!
I challenge the killers of Virgilio, who owned up the crime, to come forward and present their evidence against him and extricate themselves from the crime of murder. They should not hide under the skirt of anonymity or have the Dutch courage of their leader Jose Ma. Sison, who waged his war against the Marcos dictatorship from Utrecht.
For the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, it’s about time they give up their arms, come down from the hills, and join the mainstream society. World War II was over a long time ago!
The Hukbalahap (Hukbong Mapagpalaya Laban sa Hapon) has long disbanded. Your North Star, namely, the Socialism in Russia and the Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, had crumbled and is now turning capitalist! Your raison d’etre is gone!
Why don’t you step out of the shadows and help the Philippine government in its peace and order drive? Tama na an pasaway san mga bulan-bulanan! (Grow up. Enough of being a nuisance!)
If you don’t return to mainstream society, you are just common criminals and petty extortionists, who are considered terrorists by the international community.
If you return to society by renouncing use of arms, you can run for public office. If your campaign would make sense, I am sure you can get some votes and you can even win!
But you have to step out of the shadows as Communism as an ideology, except perhaps for Cuba, is now becoming extinct. And your murderous spree will never endear you to the rural folks either nor to your supporters, local or overseas, who should now be wearing out your welcome.
If your children will realize that their education and their goals under Communism are very limited to taking up arms against their kababayans (countrymates) and the government, they should be deserting you so they can live peacefully by embracing the rules of society. But of course, your children’s desertion will only be possible if the Philippine government can bring education to them and provide them jobs and treat them humanely, not with iron hand.
These children will leave the aging NPA warriors to fend for themselves. When this time comes, it will be the end of Communism in the Philippines.
But if the NPA’s will insist on leading a life on the run, it is entirely up to them to lead an everlasting life of isolation and more hardship. Nobody will cry for their loneliness nor covet their godforsaken kingdom. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo of Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra (left), whose hand is being raised by Sorsogon leader, Hermie Aquino, during the election campaign last May when he ran for Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines councilor. (From the Facebook of his daughter, Versie Garra Antonio)
Photo of Virgilio “Bilyong” Miguel Garra when gunned down in the middle of the street by the New People’s Army last July 24 in Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines. (Facebook of the NPA’s, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006470253173)
Joseph G. Lariosa
Fil Am Extra Exchange
Journal Group Link International
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
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.
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”. 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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”.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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”. 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.
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”. 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.
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].
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).
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. 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.”
“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.