Posts Tagged ‘Ombudsman’

Philippines: Ombudsman explains termination of probe into President Duterte ‘wealth’

February 15, 2018

 

The Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City. File photo

Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) – February 15, 2018 – 3:50pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:48 p.m.) — The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday confirmed that it has terminated its probe into the alleged hidden wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Ombudsman said that it terminated the probe, which was prompted by a complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, “after the Anti-Money Laundering Council declined to provide a report or confirmation on the requested vital data.”

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday announced that the Office of the Ombudsman dropped the probe on Duterte’s hidden wealth in November last year.

Calida made public the letter-reply he received from Overall Ombudsman Melchor Carandang informing him that the probe was dropped on Nov. 29, 2017.

The solicitor general said that the letter did not state the grounds for the case’s termination, but surmised: “It speaks for itself, when the case is dismissed, there is no evidence to support the complaint.”

The Ombudsman, in confirming Calida’s earlier announcement, clarified that it closed its fact-finding investigation when the dirty money watchdog did not provide documents pertinent to the case.

The office added that “by rule, ‘[a] closed and terminated field investigation is without prejudice to the refiling of a complaint with new or additional evidence.”

Trillanes, in his plunder complaint, alleged that Duterte had P2 billion in bank transactions.

Carandang, in September last year, was quoted in reports saying that his office received Duterte bank records that show “millions of pesos” in transactions.

The Ombudsman official is currently facing a dismissal order from Duterte, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, for disclosing “false information” regarding the case.

Ombudsman not obliged to inform parties

The solicitor general also chided Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for failing to inform the public that the probe was stopped three months ago, adding that he would not have found out if he had not asked the office on the status of the probe.

“Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, being the Ombudsman, must be the protector of the people. She has the constitutional duty to publicize matters covered by the investigations when the circumstances so warrant and with due prudence,” Calida added.

But the Ombudsman said that she is “not obliged to inform the subject of the fact-finding investigation about its outcome.”

The Ombudsman also noted that even Calida is aware of the confidentiality of fact-finding investigations.

“The confidentiality of proceedings was, in fact, recognized by the Solicitor General when he cited the exception that the Ombudsman has the power to publicize certain matters (e.g. whether or not to act upon an inquiry ‘out of curiosity’ or media requests for case status out of journalistic duty.),” the statement read.

It was also noted that Morales has earlier announced that she will take her hands of the case, citing her relations to Duterte.

“The Ombudsman could not have considered exercising such discretionary power relative to the complaints against the President due to her inhibition,” the statement further reads. — with reports from Elizabeth Marcelo

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCILANTONIO TRILLANES IVOFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMANRODRIGO DUTERTE

Read more at https://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/15/1788126/ombudsman-explains-termination-probe-duterte-wealth#ScEaItoCtQqz2ZRz.99

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Part II: Philippines Stand-Off Over President Duterte’s Mysterious Wealth — Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV accused the Chief Executive of plunder

January 31, 2018
 
The showdown was triggered by Malacañang’s order for the immediate 90-day suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang for releasing bank records of President Duterte and his family, which Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV used as basis to accuse the Chief Executive of plunder.  File

Palace clashes with Morales, SC over deputy ombudsman

MANILA, Philippines — Battle lines are drawn as Malacañang insists on its authority to suspend a deputy ombudsman despite a Supreme Court (SC) rebuff and defiance from the ombudsman.

The showdown was triggered by Malacañang’s order for the immediate 90-day suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang for releasing bank records of President Duterte and his family, which Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV used as basis to accuse the Chief Executive of plunder.

Solicitor General Jose Calida defended the legality of the suspension order, saying the Constitution does not bar the President from disciplining a deputy ombudsman. Calida had expressed confidence that the SC would uphold the suspension order.

In a statement, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales declared she would “not enforce” the suspension issued through the Office of the Executive Secretary.

Reacting to Morales’ statement, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo warned she could be held administratively and criminally liable – or even face another impeachment complaint.

Belying Calida’s claim, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te e-mailed to reporters the entry of judgment in a 2014 final decision of the SC in the case of former deputy ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices (MOLEO) Emilio Gonzales III.

The case provided the jurisprudence that the Palace reportedly violated in ordering the suspension of Carandang.

The two-page order dated May 7, 2014 stated that the Jan. 28 ruling in the same year on the Gonzales case had become “final and executory.”

This means the decision was already recorded in the high court’s book of entries of judgments and can no longer be appealed or revised.

In the Gonzales case, the high tribunal took away the disciplinary power of the President over the deputy ombudsman post.

Voting 8-7, the high court ruled then that the administrative authority exercised by the Office of the President over the position of deputy ombudsman was unconstitutional.

The SC specifically voided Section 8 (2) of the Ombudsman Act of 1989, which granted the president the power to remove a deputy ombudsman.

It ruled that such provision diminished the authority and independence of the ombudsman’s office.

It held that of the appointed officials in the Office of the Ombudsman, only the special prosecutor was covered by the Palace’s power of discipline.

Morales – an appointee of the previous Aquino administration – was at the helm of the Office of the Ombudsman when Gonzalez was dismissed sometime in 2012.

She took over the place vacated by her predecessor Merceditas Gutierrez after the latter’s resignation.

Gonzales was dismissed in 2011 by then president Benigno Aquino III over the bloody hostage-taking incident in Rizal Park on Aug. 23, 2010, but was later reinstated by the SC.

Unconstitutional

In her statement, Morales slammed the suspension order as “unconstitutional” and an “impairment” of the Office of the Ombudsman’s constitutionally enshrined independence.

“Like any government official, the ombudsman has sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land,” Morales said.

“The ombudsman cannot, therefore, seriously place at risk the independence of the very Office which she has pledged to protect on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the high court has upheld,” she added.

Asked by reporters what Morales meant by this statement, the Public Information and Media Relations Bureau (PIMRB) of the ombudsman categorically answered that Morales “will not enforce” the suspension order.

The PIMRB, however, has yet to confirm if Morales’ office will file an appeal before the Office of the President or elevate the matter before the SC.

Carandang’s suspension was for administrative offenses of grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for allegedly disclosing false information about the bank transactions of Duterte and his family.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the suspension order is “immediately executory.”

The suspension stemmed from a complaint filed by lawyers Manolito Luna and Elijio Mallari, who accused Carandang of “falsely and maliciously claiming” that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had released a report on Duterte’s alleged bank deposits.

The AMLC denied releasing a report on the President’s bank accounts. The AMLC further said it has yet to evaluate if there is ground to initiate an investigation on Duterte’s bank transactions.

Carandang, in an interview in September last year, said that Morales had authorized him to probe Duterte’s bank transactions when the latter was still mayor of Davao City.

He claimed that his office had obtained bank documents from AMLC showing Duterte’s and his family’s over P1 billion worth of transactions in several banks from 2006 to 2016.

“It has become clear that the act of the Office of the President in taking cognizance of the complaints against the Overall Deputy Ombudsman and ordering his preventive suspension was not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman,” Morales said in her statement.

Morales maintained that the SC, in a previous ruling, had already declared that the Office of the President has no administrative disciplinary jurisdiction over deputy ombudsmen.

She also cited the SC’s ruling on the case of Gonzales.

“The ombudsman will thus not allow herself to betray her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by recognizing what is patently unconstitutional as ordained by the Supreme Court en banc in Gonzales III v. Office of the President,” Morales said.

“In Gonzales III, the Supreme Court categorically declared unconstitutional the administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the President over deputy ombudsmen,” she pointed out.

Morales also took a swipe at Calida for voicing confidence “that the Supreme Court will reverse its 2014 ruling.”

“In a society founded on the rule of law, the arbitrary disregard of a clearly worded jurisprudence coupled with a confident stance that it will be changed should never be countenanced,” Morales maintained.

Presumed right

Panelo, meanwhile, said Morales should give the President the presumption of regularity.

“Until a competent court declares that such official act is in violation of the law and the Constitution, President Duterte’s order of preventive suspension from office of Deputy Ombudsman Carandang is presumed to be valid and legal,” Panelo said.

“It behooves therefore the public official authorized to implement the order to enforce the same against respondent Carandang. Any willful refusal to do so or any deliberate act impeding such enforcement may open the said official to administrative and criminal sanctions,”  Panelo said in a statement.

Roque, for his part, maintained that the President has jurisdiction over Carandang, a presidential appointee.

“The Office of the President has given Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang 10 days to file his answer on the ‘Resolution and Order’,” Roque said in a statement. He had earlier said the order was final and executory.

A lawyer like the President, Roque underscored the importance of Carandang being accorded due process.

“It is incumbent upon Mr. Carandang to submit his answer within the required period,” he said. “After the lapse of the period provided, the Office of the President shall decide on the matter.”

Panelo emphasized the President respects the independence of the judiciary.

“The President has no desire or intention to intrude upon the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.

In suspending Carandang, Panelo explained that the President was in fact protecting and preserving the constitutional provision on public accountability.

“Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” he said.

“Thus, the President is just adhering to his mandate to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed, including the Constitution,” Panelo said.

Panelo explained that the circumstances behind Carandang’s suspension were different from the case involving Gonzales.

“As to the validity of the suspension of ODO Carandang, while the Supreme Court may have previously ruled on the circumstances of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III in 2014, the circumstances of ODO Carandang differ,” Panelo said.

He also called on Carandang to contest his dismissal before the proper courts.

“Thus, prior to any determination by a court of competent jurisdiction as regards the suspension of ODO Carandang, such suspension should be treated as a lawful and operative act,” Panelo added.

“Anyone who disagrees with the suspension is free to question the same before the courts,” he said. “In the meantime, the suspension should be implemented by the Office of the Ombudsman. Otherwise, its officials risk violating the same legal process that they assume to adhere to.”

Meanwhile, senators called on Malacañang and the ombudsman to work on breaking the impasse as soon as possible to avert a constitutional crisis.

“The SC, as the final arbiter of all questions of law, has the power to decide between the competing interests/interpretations of the government and an independent constitutional body,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

He said bringing the matter to the SC is the legal, peaceful and best course of action on the part of either or both the government and the ombudsman “instead of sending the police to serve and effect the suspension order, given the ombudsman’s divergent interpretation of the law from that of government.”

“This is the best course of action on the part of either or both the government and the ombudsman to avert a standoff or constitutional crisis,” Escudero said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a member of the minority bloc, said Morales was simply enforcing an SC decision that says the president cannot suspend the ombudsman nor his or her deputies.

He said Supreme Court rulings form part of the law of the land.

“She (Morales) is upholding the rule of law and for this she has our support,” Pangilinan said. – Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/01/1783430/showdown-over-suspension-deputy-ombudsman-carandang

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Part I:

Philippines Ombudsman Will Not Implement the “Unconstitutional” Order from the Office of the Executive Secretary in Tussle Over Bank Transactions in the Accounts Owned by President Rodrigo Duterte and his family

January 31, 2018

Philippines: Defying Palace, Ombudsman refuses to enforce Carandang’s suspension

Slams the “hypocrisy” of Duterte’s anti-corruption drive…

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said on Wednesday that she would not implement the “unconstitutional” order from the Office of the Executive Secretary suspending Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang for 90 days. AFP/Noel Celis, File

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales will not enforce the suspension order of the Office of Executive Secretary Medialdea on Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang which stemmed from allegations that he disclosed unverified information on the supposed multimillion bank transactions in the accounts owned by President Rodrigo Duterte and his family.

According to Morales, the order of Medialdea’s office is “patently unconstitutional” as the Supreme Court, in its en banc decision in Gonzales III vs. Office of the President (G.R. 196231), declared as illegal the administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the president over deputy ombudsmen.

“Not enforce,” Morales answered when asked by reporters if she would implement the decision handed down on Monday.

READ: Can the Office of the President suspend Deputy Ombudsman Carandang?

Morales said that she could not imperil the independence of the very office she pledged to protect on the strength of Constitutional guarantees that the High Court had upheld.

“The Ombudsman will thus not allow herself to betray her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by recognizing what is patently unconstitutional,” a statement from the office of Morales said.

Malacañang on Monday meted a 90-day suspension on Carandang for grave misconduct following his disclosure of the alleged bank account records of Duterte and his family.

According to the Palace, Carandang committed grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for misuse and revelation of confidential and false information.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in announcing the decision, expressed confidence on the legality of the decision, despite the 2014 ruling that deemed the provision in the Ombudsman Act of 1989 that gave the Office of the President administrative powers as “unconstitutional.”

The Office of Solicitor General Jose Calida also defended the legality of the suspension order and stressed that the president had authority to discipline deputy ombudsmen despite existing jurisprudence stating otherwise.

“The Supreme Court (SC) has held that the power to discipline is lodged in the same authority in whom the power to appoint is vested,” Calida said.

Opposition senators assailed the decision and claimed that Carandang’s suspension was meant to cover up the truth behind Duterte’s supposed unexplained wealth.

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) also slammed the suspension directive and said it exposed the “hypocrisy” of Duterte’s anti-corruption drive.

Morales said that the act of the Office of the President in taking cognizance of the complaints against Carandang and ordering his preventive suspension was an “affront” to the Supreme Court and an “impairment” of the independence of her office.

She also added that the actions were not simply an “inadvertent error.”

“In a society founded on the rule of law, the arbitrary disregard of a clearly worded jurisprudence coupled with a confidence stance that it will be changed should never be countenanced,” Morales said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/31/1783226/defying-palace-ombudsman-refuses-enforce-carandangs-suspension

Philippines’ Duterte Welcomes Probe Into Allegations He Hid Wealth

September 27, 2017

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes an investigation by the state’s anti-corruption agency into allegations by a senator that he failed to disclose his wealth when he was a city mayor, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Office of the Ombudsman confirmed on Tuesday it has initiated an inquiry into activities in several of Duterte’s bank accounts prior to him being elected president in May 2016. Duterte served as mayor, vice mayor and a congressman in Davao City for two decades.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

“The president has nothing to hide,” his spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said in a statement.

“The president respects the internal processes of the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent body and trusts its impartiality in the conduct of its fact-finding duty.”

Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang told reporters his office had approved a request last month by anti-graft investigators to obtain reports from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The investigation was in response to a complaint by Senator Antonio Trillanes that Duterte had amassed 2.2 billion pesos (32.19 million pounds) in three bank accounts between 2006 and 2015 when he was mayor, and had committed a criminal offence by failing to report that in his official assets declaration.

Duterte has sparred repeatedly with Trillanes, one of his staunchest critics, and recently alleged the senator had a number of secret overseas bank accounts. Duterte read out one Singaporean account number live on television.

After Trillanes took reporters to Singapore to prove no such account existed, Duterte admitted he had deliberately provided a false number, and gave a cryptic explanation for his reasons.

As president, Duterte has immunity from prosecution, but an investigation could provide grounds for impeachment. Political experts, however, say that scenario is highly unlikely given his immense popularity and control of the legislature.

Duterte has repeatedly said he would resign if there was proof of his wrongdoing.

Deputy Ombudsman Carandang declined to provide details of the investigation but confirmed his office had received copies of Duterte’s bank transactions, which he said showed more than a billion pesos went through those accounts over several years.

The accusations by Trillanes that Duterte had concealed assets was among a long list of allegations contained in an impeachment complaint against the president in March by another lawmaker, Gary Alejano. That was thrown out by lawmakers who found the complaint lacked substance.

Duterte, who claimed to be poor and of humble living when he campaigned for the presidency, on Tuesday said he had wealth from the sale of landholdings inherited from his father, a former governor and a Cabinet minister under late President Ferdinand Marcos. It was the first time Duterte had publicly mentioned such an inheritance.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty)

Philippine President Duterte Wants To Abolish His Own Constitutionally Mandated Human Rights Commission — Step Toward Dictatorship?

July 25, 2017
NEWSINFO / NATION
By:  – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
 / 09:31 AM July 25, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to abolish the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which has been critical of his administration’s war on drugs and alleged human rights abuses.

“And when the time comes, ‘yung CHR, ‘yung opisina dito (the CHR, this office), you are better abolished,” Duterte said in a press conference after his second State of the Nation (Sona) at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Monday.

He said he would not allow the police or the military to be investigated by the commission without asking a request from him.

“I will not allow my men to go there to be investigated. Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the Armed Forces is under me and the police is under me. Kaya ‘pag kinuwestyon ninyo sila for investigation, dadaan muna sa akin (That’s why if you have to question them for investigation, they will have to go over me),” he said.

READ: Duterte to CHR, Ombudsman: Tell me before you probe cop or soldier

The CHR, created under the 1987 Constitution, was tasked to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights.

The CHR has earned the ire of Duterte after it investigated alleged police abuses under his administration’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.

Ombudsman not exempted

Aside from the CHR, Duterte also warned the Office of the Ombudsman to refrain from citing in contempt government officials.

“And for the Ombudsman to refrain from citing them in contempt for what. Because I have the authority to give the final say whether they will attend or not. Takot-takutin nila ‘yang ano. So huwag ninyo akong pilitin na pati kayo, babanggain ko (They may try to intimidate (my people). So don’t force me to go against you),” he said.

The Ombudsman is tasked to investigate and prosecute government officials accused of crimes, particularly graft and corruption.

“Pagka nagkabanggaan tayo dito tapos ganito na ang nangyari sa Pilipinas, may problema tayo sa totoo lang (If we lock horns, and this happens to the Philippines, we will have a problem). Do not ‘yung paborito ninyong (resort to your favorite) swan song that you will be investigated by this, by that,” Duterte said.

The President said investigations against the police and military should be addressed to him through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Attention DILG. ‘Pag sinabi kong huwag kayo magpa-imbestiga, huwag kayong magpapaimbestiga (If I tell you not to subject yourselves to an investigation, do not),” he said. IDL

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/917250/duterte-threatens-to-abolish-chr#ixzz4nqU79imn
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Abolish CHR? Take it up in Charter change talks – CHR chair

By:  – Reporter / @jgamilINQ
 / 04:03 PM July 25, 2017

Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ GRIG MONTEGRANDE)

MANILA — In response to President Duterte’s statement that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is “better abolished,” the chair of the constitutionally created body has issued a gentle reminder that it would take constitutional amendments or Charter change to do that.

“Any discussion to abolish CHR or any other institution for that matter can be taken in the proposed constitutional-reform process… In other words, we shall cross the bridge when we get there,” CHR chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon said in a text message to media on Tuesday, when sought for his reaction to Duterte’s rants against human rights advocates during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) and his subsequent press conference on Monday evening.

Duterte  said in the press conference that the CHR, which has kept a watchful and disapproving eye on state-perpetrated abuses in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs and declaration of
martial law in Mindanao, was “better abolished.”

“I will not allow my men to go there to be investigated. Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the Armed Forces is under me and the police is under me,” Duterte  warned.

Gascon, in his statement, simply responded that “The CHR has a constitutional mandate and will continue its responsibilities of fact-finding and documenting of human rights violations as well as
inform the public about the importance of human rights in society.”

“I remain hopeful human rights will be affirmed,” Gascon said, although he also admitted that Duterte’s statements during the SONA and the press conference “remove any doubt regarding the attitude his administration will take towards respecting the human rights guarantees enshrined in the Constitution.”

“The actions during the first year of his presidency coupled with his words said over the same period exhibits an utter disregard for due process, equal protection, and other civil liberties. This has encouraged the deepening of impunity,” Gascon said.

“The CHR asks the public to continue to remain steadfast in advancing human rights,” Gascon added.  SFM/rga

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/917388/abolish-chr-take-it-up-in-charter-change-talks-chr-chair#ixzz4nqVKavy7
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Ombudsman Morales amused by Duterte rant

Anti-graft prober tells President to review what she really said about his ‘kill threat’ to criminals
By:  – Reporter / @VinceNonatoINQ
 / 08:19 PM July 17, 2017
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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / VINCE NONATO)

MANILA — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales was only “amused by so much ado about something she did not say.”

This was in response to President Duterte’s challenge for her to point to a law barring him from threatening to kill criminals.

In a terse statement on Monday, the Office of the Ombudsman saw the need to correct his misimpression on Morales’ view of his threats.

“She did not say anything about any law against threatening criminals. The president should review what she said first,” the Ombudsman said.

Besides saying Morales “stands by” her remarks in an interview with NHK World aired Thursday night, the statement noted that “the Ombudsman does not find it necessary to say anything more.”

It may be recalled that in her NHK World interview, Morales said Duterte was “goading people to kill people.”

“The directive to kill people under any situation irrespective of the context to me, that’s not acceptable,” she said on Thursday.

Although Morales’ remarks this time were scathing, she acknowledged during the Meet the Inquirer Multimedia forum in December that “it’s not illegal to say I will kill you.”  SFM

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President Rodrigo Duterte during the mass oathtaking of presidential appointees and officers of various organizations at Malacanang on July 17, 2017. (PHOTO BY JOAN BONDOC / INQUIRER)

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Philippine Opposition Lawmakers Want Investigation into Illegal Deaths in President Duterte’s War Against Drugs

July 17, 2017
 / 12:37 PM July 17, 2017
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Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (File photo by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV criticized Senator Richard Gordon’s proposal to revive the investigation into the Mamasapano debacle that led to the deaths of 44 elite policemen and 18 Moro rebels and five civilians last January 15.

Trillanes said the Senate should instead relaunch the probe on the thousands of deaths in the Duterte administration’s brutal war against drugs.

“Mas aatupagin pa ni Sen. Gordon ‘yung nakaraang issue na piniga na ng husto ng dating Congreso pero ‘yung mga libo-libong pinapatay na Pilipino sa kasalukuyan, wala siyang panahon,” Trillanes said in a statement.

(Sen. Gordon would rather focus on an old issue that already has been squeezed out by the old Congress but for the thousands of Filipinos being killed presently, he has no time for.)

Over the weekend, Gordon proposed the reopening of the Mamasapano probe after the Ombudsman indicted former President Benigno Aquino III for usurpation of authority during the planning of the ill-fated “Oplan Exodus.”

The senator, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, said the former Chief Executive has to face the consequences of the deadly incident.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, stressed that it is the prerogative of Gordon being the blue ribbon committee chair to revive the investigation.

Image result for Grace Poe, Philippines, Photo

Grace Poe

“The decision to reopen the Mamasapano inquiry is the prerogative of the chairman of the blue ribbon committee,” Poe said in a text message.

But the senator said it would be to the interest of the public and the members of the Senate to “know the clear objectives of Senator Gordon in putting forward such proposal.”

“Whatever new and relevant information that can be unearthed from this inquiry, in aid of legislation, will be beneficial not only to the families of the SAF 44, but also to the Filipino people,” she said.

She also urged the Senate and the public to be prepared for the possibility that Aquino would only invoke his right not to to talk about the case as it is already being handled by the court.

Poe added: “Whatever disagreement anyone has with the determination of the Ombudsman, let us give her office the opportunity to review the same through the processes allowed by law and remedies given to the parties in the case.”

“As it is, we are one with the Filipino people in the pursuit of justice and truth on this matter,” she said. JE/rga

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Hong Kong Government To Crackdown on Public Housing

January 27, 2015

By Timmy Sung
South China Morning Post

The Housing Department and Housing Society, which supervise and allocate the supply of public housing, was criticised as being too lenient about the problem of tenants unfairly holding two properties under different housing schemes. Photo: AFP

The Housing Department and Housing Society have come under fire from the Ombudsman for failing to take decisive action against tenants who unfairly occupy more than two subsidised flats, leaving other Hongkongers “bitterly waiting” in vain for space.

The two agencies, which supervise and allocate the supply of public housing, was criticised as being too lenient about the problem of “dual tenancy status”.

“Their coordination has failed in dealing with problematic cases and the approach is too lenient,” said ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing.

“They are tolerating for another six to eight years those who need to vacate the flats, and it is not fair to those bitterly waiting for public housing in the waiting list,” she said.

In one case, according to Lau, a couple were granted a public housing flat under the Housing Department in 2005, but the wife already had a society-allocated flat since 1996. The woman delayed the cancellation of her HS tenancy, until it was finally terminated last year.

Ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing slammed the agencies for their lenient response to the dual tenancy problem. Photo: Edward Wong

Lau added that even though the Housing Department issues monthly statements to the society regarding doubled housing benefits involving HS tenants, the system was clearly not effective.

The government watchdog said the department could not provide statistics on unresolved cases. Settled cases are also overwritten six months after they are tackled.

The Office of the Ombudsman took the initiative and studied 50 to 60 cases, which showed a pattern of both agencies being “too lax” in handling dual-tenant cases.

If this is not rectified, Lau said, it would compromise the fair allocation of public housing resources and prolong the waiting time of more than 250 thousand applicants on the current waiting list, as some cases took up to eight years to resolve.

Lau urged both agencies to take decisive action when dealing with these cases and enhance their reporting mechanism.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1693195/housing-agencies-scolded-failure-curb-dual-tenancy-hong-kong-public