Scandalous Jinggoy never learns

Former senator JinggoyEstrada

I am talking of course about former senator Jinggoy Estrada, who until today and after spending 3 years in detention for plunder and graft charges relative to the scandalous P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), seems to have never learned to change his old ways.

The reason why I am emphasizing his individuality and ethos is because Estrada, an actor and a failed senator, is contemplating again in running for senator, and to think that he is just out on bail momentarily.

As if the plunder and graft charges against him are not shameful and degrading to his persona, enough to put him at the higher pedestal of corrupt government officials, it, however, shows no negative effect on him as he continues to beguile Filipinos with impunity.

Take for instance Estrada’s application for a travel motion to go to the US from April 21 to May 31, 2018. Accordingly, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan granted the motion on March 26 since it is a simple travel motion that the court almost always grants for defendants.

The problem, however, is that the scheming Estrada, not contented with just the travel motion request to the US, flaunted it as having been invited to speak in Michigan on Philippine affairs, and it was upon the invitation of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG).

It was even reported that Estrada attached an invitation from William Dechavez, identified in the letter as USPGG president.

Apparently, this grandstanding by Estrada was debunked by no less than the incumbent USPGG president himself, Mr. Rodel Rodis, who issued a statement, saying: “I can confirm that there is no planned USPGG event on May 20 in Michigan. I communicated with Mr Wllie Dechavez, our USPGG Michigan chair, and he made no plans for this event as he is in the Philippines for a vacation and he has not been in touch with his members in Michigan.”

If this is not another reprehensible and dastardly act by Estrada, worthy of condemnation and boycott on his senatorial run again, I do not know what is.

Because of this fraudulent turn of events, the Ombudsman prosecutors told the Sandiganbayan: “With this information, the prosecution is constrained to pray that the Honorable Court hold in abeyance the issuance of the travel authority of accused Estrada since accused appears to have committed material misrepresentations in his motion, thus openly violating one of the terms and conditions of the court in allowing an accused to travel.

They added: “Allowing accused Estrada to travel to the United States with the consequence of making him beyond the reach of the Honorable Court, despite the falsity of the purported invitation letter, may constitute a travesty of justice.”

Jinggoy with President Duterte at the Palarong Pambansa 2018.opening.

Yet, unabashedly, Estrada continues his odious quest for a slot in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate for 2019 by working hard to be under the good graces of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Look how Estrada tries hard to ingratiate himself to the president by showing his slavish subservience – shaking the president’s hand and bowing so low.

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End of the road for CJ Sereno

 

The way events are developing on the impeachment complaint and the quo warranto (Latin for “by what warrant or authority?”) petition against Supreme Court Chief Justice (SCCJ) Maria Lourdes Sereno, I could only surmise that she is nearing the end of her judicial career.

Well, at least Sereno has gone that far, high and mighty, which is the ultimate goal for all lawyers, but her reaching the zenith is what has brought her to her woes today.  Many have found it anomalous. She is facing impeachment for alleged betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the constitution, and corruption.

It is bad enough that the House committee on justice has already approved the articles of impeachment against Sereno before Congress took a break and which the House plenary is expected to vote on the committee report recommending Sereno’s impeachment when Congress resumes mid-May.

Since the House is dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, it is now a certainty that the body will affirm the committee report such that Sereno will be deemed impeached.

The complaint will then be forwarded to the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, which has the power to convict or acquit impeachable officials.

But what is even making it worst for Sereno now is her explicit blaming of Duterte for the clamor to disqualify and oust her as head of the SC when, in one of her speeches recently, she asked Duterte to explain allegations that he was behind the impeachment complaints in the House of Representatives and the quo warranto case filed before the Supreme Court (SC) by Solicitor General Jose C. Calida.

“Mr. President, if you say that you have no hand in this, please explain why Solicitor General Calida, who reports to you, filed the quo warranto petition,” she said.

“Filipinos are smart. They understand. You do not need to spell out the truth for them. It cannot be denied that there is an unseen hand behind this,” she added.

Obviously, this did not sit well with Duterte, whom lawyer Larry Gadon cleared of any responsibility when he filed the impeachment complaints with the House of Representatives.

The more Duterte got piqued because all along he has denied all the allegations in connection with the impeachment complaints against Sereno.

In the same vein, Malacañang has always insisted that the president had no hand in the impeachment hearings and the quo warranto petition.

“I am putting you on notice that I am your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court. I will request Congress to do it, the impeachment right away…. Kindly fast-track the impeachment,” said the angry Duterte.

Calling Sereno “bad for the Philippines,” he said Congress should act swiftly or else he would.

Those are tough words that Sereno should reckon with.

But what chance does Sereno really have when even the five Associate Justices, whom she asked to recuse from the case for testifying against her before the justice committee of the House, are set to deny her plea that they not participate in the quo warranto case filed against her by Solicitor General Jose Calida?

Indeed, not only is Duterte putting Sereno at the end of the road, but the Associate Justices themselves, namely, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam, are pushing the CJ over the edge of the road.

 

Napoles now under the WPP

 

What is so special about accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles that she has now been admitted to the witness protection program (WPP)?

Being tagged as the brains behind the misuse of billions of pesos in pork barrel funds or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers based on a Commission on Audit (COA) investigation covering 2007 to 2010 simply means that she is the root of all evil behind the scam and yet the Department of Justice (DOJ) has opted to turn her into a government witness.

How ridiculous can the DOJ be, for crying out loud!

Just because Napoles’ safety and security are threatened, does that make it a good reason to make her the least guilty of them all, even making sure that her medical needs are met?

How humane and considerate can the DOJ be on Napoles, but how merciless and unsympathetic can the same agency be on the poor people whose dreams for a better life for them and their family have been shattered by the scheming and evil ways of Napoles.

And to think that Napoles made atrocious and perverse deals with the politicians and other government officials to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and needy Filipinos who were deprived of funds for their livelihood because those involved in the scam purposely misused their pork barrel for their own selfish interests.

How more ironic can it get when the poor victims of the scam continue to live miserable lives, yet the perpetrators of the scam are given special treatment.

Napoles is a principal accused in the criminal cases lodged by the Office of the Ombudsman against former senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada.

All three cases are now on trial with witnesses being presented by government lawyers to prove their allegations that the lawmakers received kickback or commissions in exchange for funding host projects implemented by bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.

Enrile and Estrada have been released on bail while Revilla remains detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Revilla is seeking the dismissal of his plunder and graft cases through a demurer to evidence, a move that seeks to have the charges junked halfway through the trial on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case.

Napoles is also facing a handful of other plunder, graft and malversation of public funds cases also for alleged involvement in the misuse of pork barrel funds by various former congressmen.

With these facts in hand, does Napoles really deserve to be admitted to the WPP?

Anybody but Callamard

 

I am talking of course about UN Special Rapporteur (SR) Agnes Callamard and her penchant in announcing to the whole world that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is a failure, prejudging it as nothing but willful summary executions and extrajudicial killings that blatantly violate human rights.

I say penchant because this is where Callamard’s expertise lies – investigating and reporting wherever and whoever it is that is behind the extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

It wouldn’t have been a problem if she did her job objectively in the Philippines. The problem is that she sought and depended largely on people, sectors and entities belonging to the opposition and Duterte bashers who would tell her what she wants to hear.

Almost always what Callamard hears is not the truth, for the truth should be coming from the majority of Filipinos who elected Duterte for president because they wanted change in governance and which Duterte is seen to be delivering in his promise to wage war against drugs, corruption and criminality.

Duterte has been in power for almost two years now and his trust and approval ratings remain high despite negative reviews he is getting from people like Callamard, on his alleged human rights abuses and his bloody war against drugs.

One should be a citizen of this country and an avid follower of the political events that has happened in the past up to the present to fully understand and appreciate the difference it makes by having a leader who exercises power coupled with political will, as oppose to a leader who has power but lacks the political will.

Political will is defined as the ghost in the machine of politics – that motive force that generates political action. This is what differentiates Duterte from the recent past presidents and knowing closely now what made us the ‘sick man of Asia’ for so long, his unorthodox leadership necessitated an out-of-the-box thinking and ideas on how to move this country forward to stability and improve the lives of Filipinos.

The reality is that in so doing the forces of good battles the forces of evil that has been instrumental in hindering the progress of this nation, and lives are lost, sometimes brutally in the process.

It is no surprise, therefore, that while the Philippine government is now amenable to have an investigation conducted into alleged human rights abuses in its bloody war on drugs, it has equally signified strongly its opposition that it be headed by SR Callamard.

Presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, a lawyer, said the Philippines welcomed any investigation provided that the United Nations sends a “credible, objective and unbiased” rapporteur, who is also “an authority in the field that they seek to investigate”.

Callamard does not fit that description, he said.

I have written once about Callamard which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/war-on-illegal-drugs/.

But to know more about Callamard, I am sharing with you this link which definitely says more about this controversial SR: http://www.manilatimes.net/un-rapporteur-callamards-big-lie-un-resolution/326057/.

 

Garcia dismissal saved by Congress

 

Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia

I am talking of course about Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia who was ordered dismissed from service by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for grave misconduct in connection with the controversial purchase and development of the Balili property in the City of Naga, Cebu when she was still the governor.

I have written articles relative to this controversy some years back which you can see at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/balili-property/.

But as a refresher, this controversy started in 2008 when Garcia, on her second term as Cebu’s governor, authorized the purchase of the 24.92 hectares of the Balili beachfront property for a whooping amount of P98.926 million allegedly for Cebu’s human settlement and seaport project.

The problem however was that when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) surveyed the site it found out that 19.67 hectares of the property was underwater.

As if the survey result was not anomalous enough, what made the deal even worse was that Garcia had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan (SP) when she entered into an agreement with the ABF Construction to undertake the projects intended for the property.

Thus, the graft and malversation case against Garcia that called for her dismissal and “the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits”, according to Morales.

But while the order for Garcia’s dismissal was coursed through House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the latter, however, refuses to implement or enforce it, saying, “there is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that.”

This is a very strong statement coming from the House leadership and I don’t think Morales will ever refute it, let alone implement it herself.

What his means therefore is that Garcia stays until her full term is over. Congress saved her.

What an injustice done to the people!

But that is okay.

What is important is that Garcia’s political career is coming to an end sooner or later.

What better and fitting fate for this arrogant woman than banning her from pursuing her political ambitions any longer.

President Duterte sustains high ratings

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

People averse to President Rodrigo Duterte as a person and as the country’s leader may be wondering why they can’t put him down.

By people I mean political foes and the elite who to this day can’t believe that a poor and unassuming mayor far from the imperial city of Manila is lording over them.

The more these politicians and privileged class of people silently wish a controversial issue against the president will arise the more they get depressed because his approval and trust ratings continue to be high – issues like Duterte’s bloody war against drugs, extra-judicial killings, human rights violation, revolutionary government, federalism and lately the no election floating balloon.

These people must have been aghast, nay infuriated, reading that Duterte’s approval and trust ratings could go as high as 80 and 82 percent, respectively, as shown in the latest Pulse Asia survey for December 2017.

It looks like nothing can go wrong for as long as the Filipino people continue to manifest their unwavering support for Duterte’s programs and plans for the future.

What does this really mean? Why the continuing steadfast support from the people?

What most politicians, especially the trapos (traditional politicians), and the ritzy should know is that Duterte’s presidency is no longer a presidency of political patronage, but a presidency that exercises political will that is good for the country and for the people in general.

It is a presidency that says what it means and mean what it says for the benefit of the greater number of Filipinos.

It is a presidency that strongly endeavors to fulfill promises pledged during the campaign period and we have seen it and continue seeing it in Duterte’s promise to fight drugs, corruption and criminality.

Suffice to say that Duterte’s sustained high ratings stem from the fact that he has walk the talk and continue to follow through his campaign promises, to change the lives of many Filipinos, especially the poor.

The Filipino people recognize and acknowledge what Duterte is doing, even in charting the future of this country, and for that they are humbly grateful.

Thus, no one should wonder why Duterte is able to sustain his high ratings.

LP as resurgent party of the people

 

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

I am talking of course about the Liberal Party (LP) and the frivolous ambition of its leader, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, of making it a resurgent political party of the people – “bigger in number and stronger in unity”, he declared.

If this is not wishful thinking, I do not know what is.

I am not saying it could not happen again, like reminiscing the heydays of the impotent Aquino administration when the LP was ruling it over.

But look where they are now and what happened to their numbers. Not even the presence of the gracious Vice President Leni Robredo can make a big deal of a difference despite her being the LP chair.

It is not about the practice of changing political colors and affiliating with the party machine that that made Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte president of the Philippines, but this time it is about the trust and confidence the politicians have in the competence and adequacy of Duterte as a leader that they want to be associated with.

Thus, even if Pangilinan is crowing that the LP is now enlisting membership that are not politicians, but rather those belonging to the academe, the private sector and other civic organizations, with Robredo administering the oath of allegiance to the party, I don’t think this will make a dent in Duterte’s popularity and acceptability.

Pangilinan’s sales pitch, saying, that it is “important for Filipinos to fight for and live a life of freedom as well as dignity and respect for all” simply sounds melodramatic, if not senseless, for the truth is that Duterte’s non-traditional style of leadership and his political will, not to mention his iron rule against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality is earning us back the respect and dignity we deserve as a nation.

But what I find most absurd are the questions Pangilinan asked in his speech at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s “Freedom Speech”:

“Today, we ask these questions: Are we free? Does freedom have any value in a society tainted with the blood of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings and impunity? Is freedom meaningful without security in the home and in the streets?

“How do we reconcile freedom amid the feelings of despair, fear and hopelessness among those overwhelmed by the enormity of our nation’s problems: grinding poverty; widespread hunger; massive unemployment; pervasive graft and corruption; horrible traffic especially in urban centers; neglect and waste of people and their potential?”

As a lawyer Pangilinan should have been more discriminating in his questions.

Why, were these problems non-existent during the term of former Pres. Benigno Aquino, of which Pangilinan was one of the LP’s stalwart?

Were the Filipinos really better off during the salad days of Aquino and his cohorts?

What have Aquino, Pangilinan, and their ilk done after six (6) years in power, and I am not even asking about the scandalous reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in Tacloban City after the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda and the equally outrageous Mamasapano massacre?

Horrible traffic? Why, what has the Aquino administration, which Pangilinan was part of, done to deserve exoneration, as seemingly implied by Pangilinan, in his speech? Why can’t Pangilinan just ask former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya about his culpability in Manila’s traffic woes?

Thank goodness for the support Duterte got overwhelmingly from the people or narco-politics would have swallowed us all with politicians, the likes of Pangilinan, continually living the good life, while majority of Filipinos live a miserable life.

My take is that for as long as Duterte has the respect and appreciation of most Filipinos, there could never be a resurgent LP, as Pangilinan envisions.