After the dismissal of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong, two more magistrates of the anti-graft court could be investigated for the acquittal of alleged pork barrel fund scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles in a malversation case. Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen posted this in his concurring opinion as the high court affirmed with finality its dismissal order against Ong last Tuesday. Leonen believed the dismissal of the malversation through falsification of public documents case against Napoles involving the sale in 1998 of 500 Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines by the fourth division of Sandiganbayan was highly irregular.
The United States embassy recognized the “ambiguity” of the custody provision in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and admitted in 2009 the need to clarify the issue with the Philippine government, a confidential cable released by WikiLeaks showed. “Given ambiguity in the VFA about both where custody lies following initial conviction of a US servicemen and detention facilities where they should be held, we believe it is important that we begin discussions on how we clarify these undelineated requirements and whether there is a more workable, less debilitating, custody process,” read Kenney’s comment in the cable sent to Washington. The supposed cable was written just days after the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of US serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was charged for allegedly raping a Filipina in Subic in 2005.
President Aquino approved the abolition of non-performing and dormant government-owned or controlled corporations following a recommendation of the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG). The seven GOCCs approved for abolition include two subsidiaries of the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), the state-owned company tasked to develop the country’s oil resources. These are PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. (PNOC-AFC) and PNOC Development and Management Corp. (PNOC-DMC).
The review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is constant and the US Marine tagged in the killing of a Filipino transgender is not getting kid glove treatment, President Aquino assured the public yesterday. Aquino gave the assurance during the annual presidential forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines. There has been criticism that the VFA was not working in the interest of the Philippines because the country would not get automatic custody of the suspect or accused but instead be subjected to a manifestation before the US government.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday said that the creation of the Bangsamoro police is consistent with the Constitution. Chief Superintendent Edgardo Ingking of the PNP and DND Undersecretary Lorenzo Batino, who attended a hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the House of Representatives, issued the statements as they declared their support for the passage of House Bill 4994. Ingking said a provision in the Bangsamoro bill, which states that the Bangsamoro police shall be part of the PNP, guarantees that there is only one national police body.
From the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton was flown yesterday to Camp Aguinaldo in handcuffs and held in an air-conditioned 20-foot shipping container. Pemberton is likely to remain in the special detention facility while awaiting possible indictment for the death of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City on Oct. 11. The US helicopter carrying Pemberton from the Peleliu in Subic Bay landed at the compound of the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) at Camp Aguinaldo at about 8:45 a.m.
US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton did not know Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude was a transgender, a witness told the Senate as it opened its own inquiry yesterday into the Oct. 11 killing. Evidence recovered at the crime scene also indicated anal sex occurred in the hotel room where Laude was found dead, although it has not yet been determined who engaged in the sex. The Senate foreign relations committee started its probe into the death of Laude in Olongapo City, with the victim’s transgender friend, Mark Clarence “Barbie” Gelviro, narrating the events on the fateful Saturday night.
The government will not utilize the mothballed $2.2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) that dates back to the Marcos regime to avert the power crisis in the summer of 2015, President Aquino said yesterday. Aquino made the statement during the annual forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines at the Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City. It’s an old design,” Aquino told journalists.
The government will insist on the extradition of businessman Manuel Amalilio from Malaysia to stand trial for the P12-billion scam of Aman Futures Group Phils. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday also confirmed that the Malaysian government has discontinued proceedings for the return of Amalilio to the country, as agreed upon last year. De Lima said the government would also look into options under the mutual legal assistance treaty in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations where both the Philippines and Malaysia are members.
The Philippines was ranked the eighth best destination in the world to visit in 2015. Singapore has clinched the number one spot of the top 10 destinations, according to Lonely Planet’s latest guidebook, a report on ABS-CBNnews.com said. Namibia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Ireland, Republic of Congo, Serbia, St. Lucia and Morocco are the other top destinations.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Tuesday maintained that it will not turn over the P12 million lotto pot to a former overseas Filipino worker who presented a burned ticket that contained the winning combination. PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II told the House committee on games and amusement that the state lottery firm and the Commission on Audit (COA) have strict rules in validating winning lotto stubs. The panel, chaired by Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., was looking into the case of lotto bettor Antonio Failon Mendoza, 46, who claimed to have won the P12,991,600 prize in the Oct. 2 draw.
Tension gripped the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City yesterday after a sister and the fiancé of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude tried to enter the compound where suspect US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton is detained. It started when Laude’s mother Julita, his sisters Marilou and Michelle, his German boyfriend Marc Suselbeck and their lawyers Harry Roque and Virgie Suarez arrived in Camp Aguinaldo at around 3:30 p.m. They demanded that soldiers guarding the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) facility let them enter the restricted area where Pemberton is held pending preliminary investigation on the murder of Laude.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has sought the help of barangay officials in gathering the temporary markers around the six-kilometer permanent danger zone of Mayon Volcano. “Some of the markers were brought up slope while others were brought two kilometers down,” said Ed Laguerta, Bicol-Phivolcs resident volcanologist during a briefing Tuesday morning, referring to what some villagers have done. The Albay Provincial Disaster and Security Management Office (Apsemo) has requested Phivolcs to put up new markers around the six-kilometer permanent danger zone as evacuees continue to sneak past restricted areas to visit their homes and harvest palay.
President Aquino played coy yesterday on the alleged P250-million ransom paid for the release of two Germans held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. Aquino was asked to confirm or deny if ransom was indeed paid for the release of the hostages, and from where the money was sourced. There have been reports that two foreign nationals escorted the money contained in several black bags unloaded from a private plane that landed in Zamboanga City, as per the account of one official who refused to be quoted.
As he promised, businessman Antonio Tiu faced a Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee yesterday, but failed to convince its members that he instead of Vice President Jejomar Binay is the owner of a 150-hectare agricultural estate in Rosario, Batangas. The subcommittee investigating an allegedly overpriced parking building constructed by the city government of Makati rejected Tiu’s claim. Tiu, chief executive officer of Greenergy Holdings Inc., has been granting interviews and taking out print advertisements to defend his reputation as a legitimate businessman and denying the allegations that Binay is the actual owner of the Batangas property.