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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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?

To go on killing or give up killing on war against illegal drugs

 

It is very unfortunate that I have to write about the subject upon deciding to resume blogging after my second successful total knee replacement surgery.

I could have chosen something pleasant to write about but the reality that the country is facing today relative to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs continue to be the defining thrust of his administration now and, perhaps, for the rest of his term, that the end result could either break us or make us citizens of a nation with potential future. Thus, the subject makes it all the more important for me.

It cannot be denied that we are a nation trying to survive an identity crisis that has been so demeaning all these many, many years – that of being a corrupt nation with equally corrupt political officials.

We have seen presidents come and go with reform policies and programs for a better future for the country and it s people. But at the end of their terms the country is no better than before and the Filipinos find themselves mired even more in the morass of corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.

The fact that I mentioned illegal drugs does not mean that this scourge was not there before Duterte’s presidency came into the picture. Corruption comes in many forms and shapes, but like the way politicians and government officials discovered that there was money for their deep pockets in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), they also found out that there was even a continuous flow of dirty money in illegal drugs worthy of being nurtured for political purposes regardless of the negative consequences it had on the poor users, just like the PDAF scam had an adverse impact on the marginalized Filipinos for which it was intended for.

One impressive difference between past presidents and Duterte today is that the latter knew, after experimenting in Davao City as its mayor, what illegal drugs can do to people’s brain and what bad publicity can do to a place resulting from crimes committed due to its usage.

Duterte took his task as mayor to heart and turned the city around by using his unorthodox style of leadership manifested by guts, political will and bullets – all for the love of his city and his belief that the residents deserved a better life.

Duterte won the presidency in 2016 because most Filipinos got dissatisfied with conventional politicians leading the country. They had had enough.

Part of Duterte’s presidency is history now and it looks like that the remainder of his term will have history repeating itself as many times over for there is no turning back now in his fight against narco-politics that if not controlled will determine the destiny of this nation.

The country today is undergoing birth pains in charting its destiny brought about mainly by drug related killings that are so prevalent and far reaching, even to include the Marawi siege.

Many are speaking out now against what they call the ‘slaughter of mostly poor Filipinos’ especially in the wake of the outrage over the killing of Kian Loyd de los Santos, a grade 11 student, during a police drug operation in Caloocan City last week.

Yes, there is a very high probability that the policemen responsible for Kian’s arrest may have committed murder, but should we allow this unfortunate incident to derail the momentum  Duterte’s administration has in bringing deliverance to this country from the menace of illegal drugs engulfing the country today? Duterte himself has not minced words in his doubts about the killing of Kian. Even the Philippine Ambassador to the UN, Teddy Locsin Jr., showed his disgust about the killing when he called the arresting cops “hijos de putas!”

I am not losing hope for this country with Duterte at the helm and even if the killing continues, for to give up killing, which cannot be avoided if the drug lords, peddlers and users insist on destroying this country and its youth, is tantamount to letting the unscrupulous  people triumph over the vast number of Filipinos praying for deliverance.

 

Duterte fighting terrorism and corruption in two fronts

 

We all know the terrorism happening in Marawi City and to its beleaguered residents who have hastily fled to Iligan City, as this is what all sorts of media are talking about, including the blogs I posted which you can read at these links: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/yes-to-martial-law-in-mindanao/ and https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/yes-to-martial-law-in-mindanao-part-ii/.

While lawlessness is happening in southern Philippines, to the consternation of the people, especially the president, a sense of satisfaction, however, is felt by many Filipinos because at the opposite end of the country the Duterte administration is also going after corrupt government officials.

Former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, Sen. Leila de Lima, Sen. Franklin Drilon.

According to reports Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has announced that former budget secretary Florencio Abad and Senators Antonio Trillanes, Leila de Lima, and Franklin Drilon, will soon face plunder charges in connection to the scandalous Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or what is more known as the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

This, after the lawyer of the alleged brains behind the scam, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, said they will be filing charges before the (DOJ) against prominent personalities, among them the aforementioned politicians, which they said have benefited from the scam.

We all know that Napoles herself is facing plunder charges for allegedly masterminding the scam in which pork barrel allocations from lawmakers were funneled into the non-government organizations she set up to fund bogus or non-existent projects to the detriment of the poor who were suppose to be the beneficiaries of the funds.

Whether or not these are drum-up charges that are politically motivated remains to be seen.

In the same manner that former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla are calling their own plunder charges for their involvement in the same scam as harassment and persecution, the above mentioned politicians are also echoing the same sentiments.

But people are really hoping that something concrete comes out of this investigation especially now that Napoles feels like “singing” to escape a much longer jail term.

The people ought to know and the time has come to unmask the culprits.

I just hope that Justice Secretary Aguirre will be able to gather and produce enough evidences to justify the plunder charges especially now that the politician’s names have already been maligned.

 

Reopening of pork barrel scam probe and Dutertenomics

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

You might be wondering why I am lumping up the two together when they are different and distinct subjects.

Well, they are not really contradistinctive.

What makes them related or akin to one another is the fact that both deals with preventing corruption as the country is steered towards growth and development.

Thus, while Dutertenomics is getting to be a popular buzzword here and abroad for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 6-year development plan that aims to make the Philippines a high middle-income status before his term ends in 2022, it is a much welcomed boost for the country also that Duterte is keen and in fact throwing his full support behind the reopening of a congressional inquiry into the scandalous P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

Dutertenomics is actually about the 10-point agenda that is listed below and which emphasizes transparency and inclusiveness in every step:

  • Higher infrastructure spending, with 5 percent of gross domestic product targeted
  • Lower income and corporate tax rates to better compete with other Asian nations
  • Less red tape and corruption, including permits and land titles crucial to business
  • More state resources for the countryside, reducing poverty and boosting rural growth
  • Strong law enforcement and peace efforts to enhance the business environment
  • Small business gains with GoNegosyo’s Ramon Lopez as Trade & Industry Secretary
  • Better China relations enhancing Chinese trade, tourism and investment flows
  • Charter change to devolve power to the regions and ease foreign investment limits.

In the same manner, in revisiting the pork barrel scam probe, Duterte simply wants to make sure that all those government officials involved in unscrupulously diverting the government funds for the poor and needy into their own bank accounts are taken to task and prosecuted.

I just hope that in so doing Duterte will not interfere and just allow the Sandiganbayan ( a special appellate collegial court) to run its course in prosecuting the high profile accused namely, ex-senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. He will be doing the country a great favor if he does.

Oozing with political will with no one to be beholden to and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of the people foremost in his governance, I am sure Duterte will find success in this twin concerns he is driving at.

 

Enrile’s suspicious visit to Malacañang

Former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile visiting Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

Former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile visiting Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

For anybody who has been following the political life of former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile one cannot help but be suspicious about the circumstances of his much publicized visit to Malacañang for a one-on-one tete-a-tete with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Enrile made a sucker of the Sandiganbayan when the court where government officials, from the President of the Philippines down to the lowest ranked public servant, are prosecuted, ordered for his release after posting bail totaling P1.45 million for the plunder and graft cases filed against him over a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam supposedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Before his release Enrile had been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame for a little over a year.

Two of his co-accused — former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revila — remain detained in Camp Crame, at the PNP Custodial Center.

Also in detention to this day for the same offense is Enrile’s former chief of staff, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes.

The court said the Enrile should be granted temporary freedom because of his old age and frail health, which did not make him a flight risk.

Enrile may not be a flight risk until now that he has fully regained back his health, but he continues to remain astute as he has always been known to be and his once temporary freedom, for all intents and purpose, is now a permanent one.

Or so it seems because while Enrile may have posted a bail he is still an accused out on bail for humanitarian reasons, but now that he is back in the pink of health the Sandiganbayan should send him back to the PNP Custodial Center for that is where he belongs in reality.

In fact Enrile is strong enough now that he has been able to visit Duterte in Malacañang and reportedly handed the latter a letter and three books that apparently contained unsolicited counsel/guide to help the president address the country’s problems.

Despite presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella’s claim that the meeting of the two political personalities was social in nature that included discussions on “current developments”, still it raised eyebrows of many Filipinos concerned about corrupt politicians on what really was the motive of Enrile’s visit.

We cannot help but hope that Duterte will stay his course and his commitment to the nation that he will have no mercy to those involved in illegal drugs, corruption and criminality that have caused near perdition to the hopes and aspirations of many Filipinos.

Plunderers deserve no less than death penalty

 

death-penaltyI have always been for death penalty and my most recent verbalization on this can be seen at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/the-revival-of-the-death-penalty/.

Understandably House members are still debating on House Bill No. 4727, which seeks to re-impose the death penalty in the country.

But what I do not understand is why some representatives want the crime of plunder be excluded from those heinous crimes punishable by death.

As suitably defined in our laws, plunder is the criminal act of “amass(ing) accumulat(ing) or acquir(ing) ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts… in the aggregate amount or total value of at least P50 million,” punishable with reclusion perpetua to death, according to Republic Act 7080 as amended by Republic Act 7659.

But the penalty of death was abolished for all heinous crimes (including plunder) after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 signed Republic Act 9346, which repealed all laws imposing the penalty of death.

What is more ironic than a former president repealing the penalty of death for all heinous crimes, including plunder, when Arroyo herself got ordered to be arrested for plunder.

But that is neither here nor there now as the Supreme Court dismissed the plunder charge against Arroyo and ordered her freed immediately after five years of hospital detention.

What I am just bringing to light here is that plunder can be and is, indeed, a heinous crime especially if committed by high-profile public officials.

Death penalty becomes even more warranted when public officials sworn to serve and protect the Filipinos are the ones making the lives of the poor people more wretched and miserable.

As if we have not heard of the greatest plunderer of all, the dictator Marcos, and how ravaged the country was after he was booted out.

Fresh in our minds is the alleged despicable participation in the pork barrel scam by former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. While Enrile was allowed bail for humanitarian considerations, both Revilla and Estrada are still in detention.

I don’t even agree that a certain amount of money has to be willfully stolen first, like P50-million, before one is charged with plunder. Hell, any inconceivable amount will do for it is not really about the amount of money plundered by an elected or appointed government official, or by someone from the private sector, that matters most, but rather it is the scandalous, disgraceful and dishonest way of enriching yourself at the expense of the earnest respect, belief, trust and confidence of the people that have placed you in your position of influence and power that you deserve to be hanged.

I could not agree more, therefore, with Sen. Panfilo Lacson when he said: “A plunderer kills more people than a murderer. A murderer kills one person while with a plunderer, many people die of hunger because of the plunder.”

Or it can also be said that a murderer destroys a life or two, but a plunderer commits a heinous crime that could destroy a family and possibly the future of a  generation to come.