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FREE WI-FI TO CURB CORRUPTION PROPOSED: Taking the cue from the administration's promise of transparency, a party-list group proposed a measure that will provide free wi-fi access in government agencies in a bid to tame corruption. "The various corruption cases hurled at government officials indeed necessitate a revitalization of the people's democratic participation in clean governance and in democracy," Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino said in filing House Bill 4271...Palatino maintained that providing free wi-fi will also encourage people to visit and consider these institutions as public spaces where they can assemble and converge for discussions, engage government officials, and strengthen democratic processes...

SOURCES: 150 SOLONS WILL VOTE TO IMPEACH OMBUDSMAN >>> The impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez now seems like a foregone conclusion that's waiting for a formality in the plenary of the House of Representatives. At least 2 reliable sources have confirmed to ABS-CBN News that around 150 congressmen will vote to impeach Gutierrez and send next week the Articles of Impeachment for trial at the senate.

SUPREME COURT - CONGRESS SHOWDOWN LOOMS OVER IMPEACHMENT THREAT: The stage is set for a possible showdown between the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives after a majority lawmaker threatened to file impeachment cases against 8 SC justices for allegedly impeding the work of Congress on the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. In an interview, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said he is now finalizing an impeachment complaint against 8 magistrates who voted to issue a status quo anti-order to the House of Representatives justice committee on the impeachment of Gutierrez. Fariñas is anchoring the complaint on the notes of Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Ma. Lourdes Sereno, who all claimed that the magistrates voted to grant Gutierrez a stay order despite some magistrates failing to read Gutierrez's petition. Carpio said he only got a copy of the petition in the afternoon of September 14, 2010 after the en banc had already voted to issue the order. Fariñas said the SC decision interfered with Congress' work on Gutierrez's impeachment and stalled the process for more than 5 months. Even worse, he said the order was issued even after some of the concurring justices had yet to even read the petition. "We are a co-equal branch of government and we weren't given the proper respect due us including the reading of the complaint. The status quo anti-order meant we did nothing on the case for 5 and a half months and then the court said we were right,"

PRESIDENT ORDERS NEW ARMED FORCES CHIEF TO PURSUE REFORMS: His marching orders from the Commander in Chief were clear >>> Press on with reforms to end corruption in the scandal-wracked Armed Forces of the Philippines...Corruption is an especially explosive issue in the ill-equipped and poorly paid 120,000-strong military and has sparked several insurrections by disgruntled troops in the last two decades.

PCGG AUDIT BARES NEW ANOMALIES: The government is estimated to have lost billions of pesos because of a move by the previous leadership of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to convert its shares in San Miguel Corp. (SMC) from common to preferred shares in late 2009. The SMC stake conversion, involving 753,848,312 previously common shares bought from coconut levy funds, is one of the many anomalous and highly disadvantageous transactions undertaken by the PCGG under its former chairman Camilo Sabio, now being probed by the commission under its current chairman, Andres Bautista. In an audit report conducted by the Bautista-led PCGG, the SMC stake conversion was found to be an ill advised move especially in light of the recent upsurge in the stock price of SMC shares. "The determination that the conversion was advantageous to the national government on a purely financial standpoint has, in the light of subsequent events, proven to be mistaken," the audit report said.

SENATOR: PROSECUTORS NEVER GOT BACK ON PLEA DEAL >>> Whatever happened to the government prosecutors' promise to review their controversial plea bargain agreement with ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia? Sen. Franklin Drilon Sunday scored Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit for failing to get back to the senators on her group's pledge to reexamine the agreement in the wake of supposedly new pieces of evidence that surfaced against Garcia in the ongoing blue ribbon committee investigation.

DUBAI KHALEEJ TIMES: VICE PRESIDENT VOWS ACTION AGAINST AIRPORT CORRUPTION >>> Philippine Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay has vowed to act swiftly on alleged reports from Filipinos on visit visa to Dubai on corruption of immigration officials at the Philippine's international airports. Binay, who is the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino concerns and chairman of anti-human trafficking council and illegal recruitment, told Filipinos...that he would confer with Philippine President Noynoy Aquino about this issue upon his return to Manila...The allegations came from various Filipinos, who arrived in Dubai after paying 5,000-25,000 pesos "under the table" to the immigration officials at the Ninoy International Airport (NAIA) and the Cebu International Airport since the imposition of a stricter travel requirements in September 2010.

PRESIDENT URGES PMA GRADUATES TO RESIST CORRUPTION: President Aquino urged graduates of the Philippine Military Academy this year to remain steadfast against corruption in the military and government. As a way of encouraging the new graduates, Aquino told the new soldiers he believed in their capacity to follow the right path even when confronted by temptations, corruption, injustice and poverty..." I hope that when someone dumps a truckload of money infront of you, you can easily resist the temptation of taking it because the principles that the PMA had instilled in you would prevail...You will meet people who are posing as politicians. They will try to seduce you with piles of money and offer you power so that you will stray from the straight path...You will engage in battle where your only weapon is your conscience...The law should be running after those who go in and out of the country, their spouses vacationing abroad. Those who should enforce the law retreated into laziness...This will not happen in this administration. We will right wrongs, we will straighten those which have been twisted in government and make the thieves and their cohorts answer for their sins. We will not tolerate anybody, there will be no holy cows in our crusade"

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION RECOVERS PRIME PROPERTY: The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has recovered a P278.6-million prime piece of property along Roxas Blvd. previously sold by government appointees in a sequestered company in 1989 under anomalous circumstances. The Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 135 issued a writ of execution last Feb. 22 for the enforcement of a Supreme Court decision upholding the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming the title and ownership of the Mapalad Realty Corp., a PCGG controlled company, over four parcels of land along Roxas Blvd. in Baclaran, Parañaque...Gerard Mosquera, PCGG commissioner for litigation, said the recovery will further boost the commissions effort to recover all the Marcos ill-gotten wealth. The PCGG has recently strengthened its legal team and enhanced its working relationship with partner agencies, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the Ombudsman, in pursuit of its mandate to recover the loot of the Marcoses and their cronies.

EX-AUDITOR SPEAKING IN CEBU CALLS FOR VIGILANCE VS CORRUPTION: Former Commission on Audit (COA) auditor Heidi Mendoza yesterday urged the public to tell the truth about corruption in their localities as their contribution to clean up the government and improve the delivery of basic services. Speaking before a forum organized by Church-based group Dilaab, Cebu Business Club and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) at Sacred Heart Center, Mendoza's message to COA auditors is to do their job honestly. She said auditors should not wait to be reminded of their duties and responsibilities in guarding government funds. Mendoza said she doesnt want to be called a whistleblower. She said she would rather be called a "truth teller" because her only intention in testifying against the officials in the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is to tell the people the truth.

DRUG TRAFFICKING, CORRUPTION PRIME SOURCE OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Human and drug trafficking, corruption, and investment scams have remained the principal sources of criminal activities in the Philippines, according to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released yesterday. The report also noted an increase in foreign organized criminal activities from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and attributed the situation to the lack of judicial reform and low conviction rates for drug cases. The annual US State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said the Philippine government takes drug trafficking and drug abuse seriously and has made substantial efforts to address these problems, but the lack of law enforcement resources, the slow pace of judicial and investigative reform, together with a lack of interagency cooperation continue to hamper government efforts to investigate and prosecute higher echelons of drug trafficking organizations operating in the Philippines.

NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT REPORT - ENFORCEMENT ISSUES: The Philippines' financial intelligence unit (FIU) investigations are severely constrained by limited authority to access bank information. Except in instances of serious offenses such as kidnapping for ransom, drugs and terrorism-related activities, the FIU is required to secure a court order to examine bank deposit accounts related to unlawful activities enumerated in the Anti-Money Laundering Act. In addition, a Supreme Court ruling prevents ex parte inquiry into bank accounts. The FIU can, however, seek an ex parte freeze order from the Court of Appeals before seeking authorization to inquire into bank deposits. The FIU also must obtain a court order to freeze assets, including those of terrorists and terrorist organizations placed on the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee's consolidated list and the lists of foreign governments. This requirement is inconsistent with the international standard, which calls for the preventative freezing of terrorist assets "without delay" from the time of designation. The Government of the Philippines (GOP) should enhance the FIU's access to financial records, and ensure it can rapidly freeze terrorist assets. (Click here to read report section on Philippines)

UK GROUP: CORRUPTION BARRIER TO INVESTMENT >>> An anti-bribery group in the United Kingdom said yesterday corruption is a barrier to investment and distorts the economy of a country. Nick van Benschoten, head of the Working Group on Bribery of the UK's Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) who visited Manila early this week, said "Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, is a priority region for UK trade and investment, but we want British companies to trade fairly and confidently." Van Benschoten met representatives from the government and the business sector to share ideas and promote good practices in business to fight corruption. He noted the local business community's enthusiasm over the Philippine government's focus on anti-corruption efforts, commending its work and that of the private sector in promoting ethical business in the country. He also cited the Philippines' Anti Anti-Red Tape Law and the Integrity Pledge of business groups and the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

AFP URGES LIGOTS TO COOPERATE: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urged yesterday its officials as well as others with information about corruption in the military to help concerned authorities, particularly the Senate, uncover the truth. "We ask everyone concerned to help us uncover the truth. This does not necessarily pertain to them (Ligots) alone but to everyone who knows something about the case," Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. said, referring to former comptroller Jacinto Ligot who had repeatedly invoked his right against self incrimination when asked in Senate hearings about his alleged staggering bank deposits and real properties here and abroad. "We are the aggrieved party so we really want to find out the truth,"

STUDENTS STAND UP FOR TRUTH: Instead of probing senators and congressmen, truth tellers Heidi Mendoza and Col. George Rabusa last week faced hundreds of students in a forum that called for support to their cause, as well for upholding the values of integrity and honesty. Organized by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the forum...gave students the chance to hear Mendoza and Rabusa's struggles and sacrifices in the course of their decision to expose the anomalies in the Armed Forces of the Philippines... Many of the students think the truth tellers' revelations only proved how rampant and massive corruption has become in government...One of the staunchest advocates of integrity and honesty, CEAP has embarked on a campaign to promote the cause of truth telling as well as these values. Apart from holding the forum, CEAP also encouraged its member schools to show support by participating in various activities such as the hanging of banners and slogans, wearing black shirts and pins every Friday, engaging in noise barrage, holding film showings, reciting the graduates pledge to integrity and honesty and letter writing to senators, congressmen and other local officials..."This is not just an issue that we can respond to because it's there. Corruption is a big problem so efforts to fight it must be continuous. We must not wait for the next whistleblower or truth teller to address it. We believe it should be institutionalized in school where honesty and integrity is also a challenge," explains Rhodora Angela Ferrer, CEAP executive director. Starting this school year, CEAP member schools will integrate lessons on integrity and honesty in the various subjects, apart from religion and homeroom classes.

OMBUDSMAN SEEKS TO DISMISS TWO IMPEACHMENT CASES: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has sought for the dismissal of the two impeachment complaints filed against her, arguing that her Office's purported inaction on high-profile graft cases does not constitute a betrayal of public trust and a culpable violation of the Constitution. This was her appeal in her 43-page answer to the impeachment cases hurled against her by Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros Baraquel and Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes last year. But the House Committee on Justice has declared the complaints sufficient in form, substance and in grounds.

OMBUDSMAN ORDERS FILING OF RAPS VS MAYOR AND 11 OTHER DAVAO OFFICIALS: The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of a graft case against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other city officials before the Sandiganbayan. The charges stemmed from the alleged illegal use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) amounting to P11.5 million. The complaint alleged Duterte and the city officials used the funds to pay for food and appliances as giveaways as part of a so-called "Pahalipay ni Mayor" program in December 2006. The SEF fund was intended to finance school-related projects in the city.

PCGG UNCOVERS $9.5m FEE ANOMALY: The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has uncovered astronomical legal fees paid for services of foreign lawyers during the administration of former chairman Camilo Sabio. The total charges run up to about $9.5 million for a period of seven years. Among the PCGG-retained foreign lawyers was Sabio's American brother-in-law Donald O'Buckley, who was paid $26,755 equivalent to more than P1.2 million for legal consultancy services rendered over 23 days last year. It was pointed out that O'Buckley's services were unnecessary considering that the PCGG at the time had already retained the services, also at a steep cost, of a well-known New York law firm, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, to handle the government's claim in the so-called Arelma deposits of about $30 million in the Merrill Lynch brokerage firm that has been bought by Bank of America.

GARCIA CASE REMAINS TOP GOVERNMENT CONCERN: Despite heated oral arguments with Sandiganbayan justices, Assistant Solicitor General Amparo Cabotaje Tang on Friday said that they still hope that the anti-graft court will allow the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to intervene in the plea bargaining agreement entered into by the Office of the Ombudsman and now retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, a former military comptroller.

JUSTICE PANEL TRUMPS PROCESS: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Friday cited the lack of due process accorded her by the House Committee on Justice as shown by its supposedly hasty efforts to remove her as the country's chief graftbuster. Gutierrez said that senators would be more fair and more objective if the two impeachment complaints filed against her hurdled the justice panel and transmitted to them for trial. "I know the Senate is impartial. They will understand my position," she told reporters during a press conference. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman said, she will fight to the end to keep her post.

FINANCE DEPARTMENT TO SEEK OUR ERRING TREASURERS: THE Department of Finance (DOF) on Friday said it will go after erring local government treasurers as part of a campaign to boost the government's tax effort. Finance Undersecretary Carlo Carag, who heads Operations and Legal Affairs Group (OLAG), told reporters that his team would focus not only on erring Bureau of Inernal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC) employees, but also on treasurers of local government unit (LGUs). "We have information about city treasurers across the country having grossly disproportionate assets over their respective salaries. That should be aggressively looked into," Carag said. The official said the DOF has supervisory and regulatory power over the Bureau of Local Government Finance, which has jurisdiction over local government treasurers. "We are building several cases against city and municipality treasurers," he said, adding that the cases "will be filed soon."

OMBUDSMAN COMPARES SELF TO NINOY: Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Friday said she has no plans of appearing in the impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives justice committee, which is the first step towards her possible ouster. Gutierrez said she has no desire to explain herself before lawmakers who are railroading the impeachment process to immediately remove her from office. She also likened herself to the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., father of the incumbent President, who had refused to cooperate with the martial law government of then President Ferdinand Marcos

OMBUDSMAN READY FOR IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: There's no stopping impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. Speaking to ANC's "The Rundown," the legal counsel of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, Atty. Anacleto Diaz, said they expect a vote at the House plenary and a possible impeachment trial at the Senate. "We're almost certain the House Justice Committee will vote for the impeachment and transmit that report to the House plenary, which will vote on whether or not the Articles of Impeachment will be transmitted to the Senate for trial, and that is where we hope we will be given time to face our accusers and prove the charges against us in 2 impeachment complaints are false and baseless," Diaz said. Despite repeated invitations, Diaz said he doesn't see the Ombudsman appearing before the House Justice Committee when it resumes its hearings next Tuesday. Diaz is dismayed at the Justice Committee's insistence on pushing thru with proceedings pending a final decision from the Supreme Court on their appeal to throw out the complaints. "We feel that the proceeding before the Committee on Justice is moving with indecent and precipitate haste," he said. "I don't know whether the impeachment is so vital to the survival of the nation that it has been put at center stage by the Committee on Justice, forgetting other measures."

WORRIED ABOUT PENSION, OMBUDSMAN APPEALS TO SENATORS: In an apparent move to strengthen her next line of defense should the Lower House finally decide to impeach her, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Friday called on to senators to take a kinder look at her performance as the country's designated top graftbuster and also to give weight to her 40 years of service. With her retirement due next year, Gutierrez appealed to senators to consider her concerns about pensions and other benefits "if this case goes to the Senate," in a rare press conference at the Office of Ombudsman, portions of which were aired over radio dzBB. It is the Senate that serves as the court that tries impeachment cases that are brought up by the Lower House. For the first time since Gutierrez became the target of impeachment moves, she admitted being worried about losing retirement benefits should the Senate decide to remove her from her post.

DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN DENIES LOBBYING FOR BOSS: Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro denied allegations he had asked House Justice Committee Chair Niel Tupas Jr. to go slow on the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. At a press conference Friday, Casimiro admitted that he once met with Tupas but only to ask support for the nomination of Deputy Special Prosecutor Robert Kallos as justice of the Sandiganbayan. He said he was with Kallos then. Tupas is an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens nominees to vacant judicial posts. "I did not abuse my power," Casimiro said. "I did not ask anything like that."

DEPUTY SPEAKER ALARMED BY ALLEGED SECRET OFFER: House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III expressed alarm on Friday over an alleged offer made by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro to House Justice Committee Chairman Niel Tupas Jr. Tañada believes that the Ombudsman's decision to junk the motion for reconsideration filed by Tupas's father may have been intended to try to influence the lawmaker. "It is possible that the intention is to create a 'chilling effect' on the whole House of Representatives," he added. Tupas Jr. revealed in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda that Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro went to his office in September 2010 and urged him to "go easy" on the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. He said Casimiro admitted that the graft case filed against his father, former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr., is weak, but he had no choice but to pursue it and recommend it for filing at the Sandiganbayan. Tupas said that Casimiro's visit to his office transpired right after the House Justice Committee declared last year that the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez were sufficient in form and in substance.

PUBIC WORKS SECRETARY VOWS TRANSPARENT BIDDING: THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) vowed to institutionalize transparency in the bidding of projects this year. The department in a statement said that based on approved Government Appropriations Act there are 1,493 projects worth P56.48 billion under the DPWH regular infrastructure program, which are set for implementation in 16 regions of the country this year. DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson warned all the department's engineers to be transparent in the conduct of bidding in their areas. "Bidding should be competitive, no collusion, no favors, no rigging, no negotiated contracts," the secretary said. "Any DPWH official found to have colluded with the contractors or any person in the bidding and awarding of contracts shall be dealt with accordingly," he added.

HOUSE JUSTICE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: "DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN OFFERED DEAL" >>> House Justice Committee Chairman Niel Tupas Jr. said on Friday that his father's graft case is being used by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to influence her impeachment case. Tupas revealed in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG) that Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro went to his office in September 2010 and urged him to "go easy" on the impeachment case against Gutierrez. He said Casimiro admitted that the graft case filed against his father, former Iloilo governor Niel Tupas Sr., is weak, but he had no choice but to pursue it and recommend it for filing at the Sandiganbayan. Tupas said that Casimiro's visit to his office transpired right after the House Justice Committee declared last year that the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez were sufficient in form and in substance.

8 JUSTICES MAY FACE IMPEACHMENT: Several justices of the Supreme Court will soon face impeachment raps before the House of Representatives over alleged abuses in the exercise of their constitutional powers. Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said he is now finalizing an impeachment complaint against 8 magistrates for betrayal of public trust...Fariñas is anchoring the complaint on the notes of Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Ma. Lourdes Sereno, who all claimed that the magistrates voted to grant Gutierrez a stay order even without deliberating on her petition.

GOOD GOVERNMENT VS BAD GOVERNMENT >>> "EX-PCGG OFFICIALS RAN UP TRAVEL BILLS OF $2.27m DOLLARS": They flew first or in the business class, had pocket money equivalent to more than P1 million for a two-day trip, and traveled with a full entourage. Even worse, they charged the government twice for one foreign trip. Top officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) during the tenure of chairman Camilo Sabio went on numerous overseas travels, flying only first class and giving themselves fat dollar allowances or a "contingency fund" ranging from a minimum of $1,000 to $36,000 dollars, a recent audit of the commission revealed. The PCGG during Sabio's time ran up a bill of $2.27 million which they had charged from a $30 million special legal fund with the Philippine National Bank set up by the late PCGG chair Haydee Yorac as a contingency fund to cover legal, administrative and other related expenses to pursue the $22-million West LB case in Singapore, and the $30-million Arelma account in Merrill Lynch in New York. On top of these, it was learned that the so-called "Sabio Commission" did not liquidate all of the $2.27-million disbursements from the PNB fund for its travels. An audit conducted by the new PCGG administration, now headed by chairman Andres Bautista, on all the transactions and deals of the "Sabio Commission" found that Sabio had gone on more than 50 foreign trips between September 2005 and June 2010 when the term of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ended.

OMBUDSMAN PURSUES CASE VS HOUSE JUSTICE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN'S FATHER: The Office of the Ombudsman has decided to pursue a graft case against the father of Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., who described the move as "suspect" since he heads the House committee of justice currently handling the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. In a resolution dated August 2, 2010 but signed only last Wednesday, the Ombudsman junked a motion for reconsideration filed by former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. asking the office to reverse an earlier ruling, which found probable cause to file graft charges against him. The 10-page resolution, signed by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro last Wednesday, said the older Tupas' motion was denied "due to lack of merit." The former governor's graft case stemmed from his allegedly anomalous approval of permits for construction materials to be used for an airport even though the supplier supposedly did not have technical capability to handle such a project.

JUSTICE DEPT RECOMMENDS FILING CHARGES AGAINST LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE CHIEF: The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of administrative charges against Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres for alleged complicity in the failed takeover of the agency's information technology (IT) systems contractor Stradcom Corp. last Dec. 9. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has endorsed the recommendations issued by the fact-finding committee on the December takeover of Stradcom. The fact-finding committee said Torres should "be administratively charged with gross neglect of duty, or gross incompetence, or in the alternative, with grave misconduct," in connection with the failed takeover by the IT firm ...The committee recommended that Torres be asked to take an indefinite leave of absence or, if she refuses, be placed on preventive suspension.

LAND TRANSPORTATION CHIEF WON'T STEP DOWN: Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres will not step down from her post, despite the Department of Justice's (DoJ) recommendation to have her suspended for siding with a faction of Stradcom Corp..."I am ready to face the charges filed against me in the proper forum," Torres said, but explained that taking an indefinite leave would not be an option for her since "leaving my post would gravely derail the LTO from the reform agenda that the President ordered me to undertake." She however clarified that should the President ask her to step down, she would do so immediately.

PRIVATE GROUPS JOIN FINANCE DEPT TO FIGHT CORRUPTION: The Department of Finance has entered into an agreement with business groups and civil society organizations to encourage citizens' participation in ferreting out smugglers, tax cheats and corrupt government officials. Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima exhorted the private sector, on Thursday, to build the capacity of individuals to blow the whistle on unscrupulous persons and groups pocketing government funds and committing other forms of graft and corruption. Gathered on Thursday for a signing ceremony held at the Ayala Avenue branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines were leaders and representatives of the Makati Business Club (MBC), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Management Association of the Philippines, Coalition Against Corruption, People Power Volunteers for Reform, and Kaya Natin! Movement. Purisima asked the groups to help focus efforts on the "Pera ng Bayan" website, which has been set up to allow concerned citizens to report anomalies and wrongdoing with assurances of complete confidentiality on the identities of whistle-blowers

AUSTRALIA URGES "HIGH PROFILE" CONVICTION IN BATTLE VS GRAFT: Taking note of corruption's "insidious hold on the Philippines," the Australian government has made several suggestions to the Aquino administration in sending the "strongest signal possible" against corruption. In a statement, the Australian Embassy in Makati City urged the Aquino government to: >>> Pursue convictions for high profile graft and fraud; >>> Diligently undertake lifestyle checks on public officials; >>> Systematically address the vulnerabilities in government departments by conducting a comprehensive audit and performance assessment of big-spending agencies; and >>> Expand opportunities for the public to have access to feedback and grievance mechanisms.

INQUIRY RESUMES - AMNESIA GRIPS WITNESSES: The inquiry into military corruption resumed Thursday at the Senate, with the persons summoned to testify beset by forgetfulness and hypertension. Edgardo Yambao, a brother-in-law of ex-military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and earlier described by senators as a "mystery man," appeared at the hearing but could not explain how he had amassed at least P255 million without a visible means of income. Yambao's sister Erlinda, Ligot's wife who is recorded as having traveled abroad 42 times from 1993 to 2004, also showed up but was so nervous when it was her turn to be questioned that she was sent to the Senate clinic for medical treatment. Her blood pressure turned out to be highly elevated. Even Roy Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief of staff alleged to have benefited from a slush fund for the military brass, could not explain two pieces of real estate in Iloilo City registered in his and his wife's names.

PALACE: NO REPLACEMENT YET FOR OMBUDSMAN >>> President Benigno Aquino III has yet to consider a replacement for embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who is facing impeachment before Congress. In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda enumerated the criteria for the next person to sit as Ombudsman. "One who will fully comply under the provisions of the Constitution and under the Ombudsman Act, one who goes after graft and corruption and who will also be supportive of our campaign of 'kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,'" Lacierda said. The spokesman said Malacañang fully supports the impeachment process against Gutierrez amid calls that she resign from the position.

TWO EX-ARMED FORCES CHIEFS DENY RECEIVING "PABAON": Former military chiefs Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu on Friday denied receiving some P240 million in "pabaon" or send-off money upon their retirement from active service. Speaking at the resumption of the Senate inquiry on military corruption, Cimatu said the only pabaon he got when he retired was a box of 40 medals that he earned throughout his career.

EX-ARMED FORCES CHIEF QUESTIONED OVER ILOILO PROPERTIES: Senator Franklin Drilon on Thursday questioned former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Roy Cimatu on two real estate properties in Iloilo that he and his wife allegedly bought in the 1980s. Drilon said documents reaching him indicate that Cimatu and his wife Fe bought two properties in Iloilo in 1984 and 1987...both properties are mortgaged at P24 million. Cimatu, however, said he was not aware of such properties...Drilon asked him how he could not have known about the properties because they were in his name. Cimatu said he still has to ask his wife because she might have made the purchases for the both of them...Former AFP fund manager George Rabusa earlier accused Cimatu of receiving P80 million as sendoff money through accused plunderer former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

GENERAL'S BROTHER-IN-LAW ADMITS OWNING P25m CONDO: The brother-in-law of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot on Thursday admitted owning a P25-million condominium in upscale Fort Bonifacio Global City, but refused to give many details about his sources of income and wealth...However, Yambao denied owning some P255 million in bank deposits for 5 years, saying he would not agree to be used as a dummy by his brother-in-law, Ligot, who is accused of salting away millions of pesos in military funds...He denied amassing millions in bank deposits from 1999-2003 but refused to open up his bank accounts for further scrutiny...

EX-SOLICITOR GENERAL BLAMES EX-OMBUDSMAN FOR "DEFECTIVE" RAP VS GARCIA: Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez said former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo should also be blamed for an allegedly defective charge filed against former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. Appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Chavez said the defects in the information or charge sheet initiated by Marcelo "were blatant on its face...It was deliberately filed to fail or it was a result of shoddy craftsmanship." He said his group, Operation Clean Hands, filed 3 separate plunder charges from March to April 2005 against Garcia, former comptroller Jacinto Ligot and former budget officer George Rabusa.

SENATOR: GENERAL, FAMILIY TRANSFERRED ACCOUNTS TO FRIENDS >>> During the hearing of the blue ribbon committee investigating the fund scam in the military, Senator Franklin Drilon disclosed that Ligot, his wife, Erlinda, and children Paulo and Rizza transferred their accounts to a certain Hilda Velazquez, and a certain Maria Cristina Mercado Laurel and husband, Antonio Castillo Laurel. Drilon said the information was based on the report made by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

SENATOR: HOUSE JUSTICE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN HAS CONFLICT THAT SHOULD INHIBIT HIM FROM PARTICIPATING IN IMPEACHMENT POROCEEDINGS >>> Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday said House justice committee chairman Niel Tupas should inhibit from the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. "I do not see how (Tupas) can possibly continue in that capacity when he has a very obvious personal case in the case against Ombudsman Gutierrez. I think that good manners and right conduct dictates that he should at least inhibit himself," said Santiago. The feisty senator was referring to the case of Tupas' father, former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr., who in 2007 was ordered dismissed for dishonesty, grave misconduct, and gross neglect of duty in connection with a million-peso quarrying project in their province. In addition, the younger Tupas is himself facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged 'ghost seminars' reportedly organized by the lawmaker between 2004 and 2007 when he was still a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Interviewed after the House hearing, Tupas said that there is "no basis" for calls for him to inhibit in the impeachment proceedings, and insisted that he has remained "impartial" throughout the hearings.

HOUSE JUSTICE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: SOME EVIDENCE, WITNESSES MAY BE INADMISSIBLE >>> Some evidence and witnesses presented before the justice committee at the House of Representatives Wednesday failed to bolster the impeachment cases against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the chairman of the panel said. Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. said that in a normal court proceeding, some of the witnesses would be "inadmissible" since they did not have direct knowledge of the allegations involved. Some of the evidence, he added, was also incomplete. He said he observed this in both complaints. "But we are being liberal about these things here because this is a political proceeding, not a judicial one," he said.

DEFENSE PROBE ON MILITARY CORRUPTION HITS SNAG: A defense department probe on alleged corruption in the Armed Forces hit a snag after probers could not access key witnesses who could shed light on the anomalies. DND spokesman Eduardo Batac said a special investigating committee, chaired by DND legal affairs chief Patrick Velesto, asked for a 15-day extension to continue the investigation. "The adhoc investigating body of DND has come up with a request for an extension of another 15 days from the deadline of February 28. This is in view of the unavailability of the resource persons that were supposed to be invited," he said. He said the defense chief approved the request for extension.

OMBUDSMAN ACCEPTS JURISDICTION OF HOUSE PANEL: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has assented to the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives' Committee on Justice over the impeachment complaints filed against her. During the House justice committee hearing on Wednesday morning, her counsel Anacleto Diaz informed the members of the committee they would be submitting finally her reply to the allegations included in 2 separate complaints by Friday. "We would be participating [in the hearings]. We will file our answer ad cautelam, which means we are filing with extreme caution on the back of the filing of our motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court," he said.

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TELLS PCGG TO PITCH IN FIGHT VS CORRUPTION: Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. has asked the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to help realize a corruption-free country by decisively pursuing plundered wealth and returning it to the national coffers. In his message to PCGG's 25th Anniversary on Tuesday, Ochoa said President Benigno Aquino III was four-square against corruption, and the PCGG must pitch in to restore integrity and honesty in all transactions of government. "This is now the present and compelling challenge faced by our government and our anti-corruption agencies like the PCGG. We must investigate thoroughly, punish those who have raided the country's treasury and effect a 'climate change' in government - from a graft-ridden regime in the past to an integrity-driven government today and tomorrow," Ochoa said.

"THE OMBUDSMAN HAS MASTERED THE ART OF DOING NOTHING": The Office of the Ombudsman has not filed charges against anybody connected to 2 multimillion-peso corruption cases, a witness at the first clarificatory hearing on the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said before the lower house committee on justice today. Complainants were allowed to present their evidence at the said hearing. Renato Reyes Jr, one of the complainants in the second impeachment complaint against Gutierrez, showed a Sandiganbayan certification dated February 28, 2011 which confirmed that no cases have been filed against former undersecretary Jocelyn 'Joc-joc' Bolante, said to be the mastermind behind the P728-million fertilizer scam in 2004. Bolante has been accused of diverting P728 million in fertilizer funds to the campaign kitty of administration candidates in the 2004 elections. "Seven years after the fertilizer scam, no case was yet filed," Reyes said.


P40M MANSION ALLEGEDLY LINKED TO CABINET MEMBER: MANILA, Philippines - A 2-storey glass and concrete house in a corner lot at White Plains, a gated subdivision in Quezon City, has been the subject of whispers in political circles since 2010. Dubbed as the "glass mansion" worth at least P40 million, it allegedly belongs to a member of the Aquino Cabinet.

COA BARES P200m UNEXPLAINED CAAP WITHDRAWALS: State auditors have discovered questionable withdrawals amounting to more than P500 million from the savings account of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in 2009. In the 2009 audit report released late last year, the Commission on Audit (COA) said there was "non-recording" of credits-withdrawals amounting to $5.12 million or P237.69 million and debits-remittances amounting to $568 million or P263.7 million from the CAAP savings account with the Land Bank of the Philippines. COA said the unrecorded withdrawals cast doubt on the balance of the CAAP savings account which stood at P3.666 billion. COA also discovered an additional P6.018 million in unrecorded withdrawals from another account of the CAAP with the Landbank, and another withdrawal of P102,764 from a United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) savings account.

ANTI-GRAFT COURT ASKED TO ENFORCE P12m JUDGEMENT VS IMELDA MARCOS: State lawyers have asked the Sandiganbayan to implement its 2010 ruling ordering Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos to pay the government nearly P12 million, plus interest, representing damages and ill-gotten funds taken from the National Food Authority. In an omnibus motion, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Presidential Commission on Good Government said the anti-graft court's ruling, handed down on Sept. 9, 2010, should be implemented.

OECD OFFICIAL LAUDS ANTI-CORRUPTION MECHANISMS: Nicholas van Benschoten, head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinationals and the Working Group on Bribery at the United Kingdom's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, noted that the country boasts of a mature legal environment in terms of the number of legislations being discussed that are designed to address any improper conduct committed by a public official. "There doesn't seem to be a lack of legislation here. There is that measure which would provide protection and security to whistleblowers and also the freedom of information bill, and the challenge now I think is in the enforcement and implementation," Benschoten pointed out.

HOUSE BEGINS PROSECUTION OF OMBUDSMAN: For the first complaint, Akbayan party-list Rep. Kaka Bag-Ao cited eight casesincluding Gutierrez's purported inaction on corruption charges filed against former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri and former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos in the NBN-ZTE scandal; the dismissal of four cases filed against Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, the husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, concerning their involvement in the same case; the inaction on the death of Navy Ensign Philip Pesta, and the arrest of then Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel at a women's rallyto show "a pattern of inability, inefficiency and manifest partiality in favor of high-ranking government officials to the detriment of the public welfare."

OMBUDSMAN TO FIGHT TILL THE END: Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez declared that she will not resign and fight the against the impeachment complaint against her until the end, saying "I have done nothing wrong or illegal." The country's chief graft buster made the pledge as the members of the House justice committee voted overwhelmingly that there was "sufficient ground" to continue the ouster deliberations.

OMBUDSMAN'S LAWYER SEEKS ANOTHER CHANCE FOR CLIENT TO RESPOND: The lawyer of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Wednesday appealed to the committee on justice at the House of Representatives to allow her to file her reply to the two impeachment complaints until next week, after initially snubbing the summons of the chamber. But Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the committee, said that the period for her to respond has lapsed. He said that any reply from the Ombudsman would be treated as part of the "evidence" in the ongoing "clarificatory" hearings. "But failure to answer will not preclude her from presenting evidence is support of her defenses. Pleadings will be treated as evidence to support the defense of the Ombudsman and it will be considered by the committee on justice before voting," Tupas said.

WITNESSES DEFEND COMPLAINT AGAINST OMBUDSMAN: Former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros and parents of deceased Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño faced the House justice committee on Wednesday to prove its allegations against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. Hontiveros recalled how she was "illegally arrested" in an international womens rights rally in March 2006. The illegal arrest was used by the complainants, including Hontiveros, in their impeachment complaint against Gutierrez. According to the former party-list representative, the Ombudsman junked its case against the police officers who arrested her and instead ruled in favor of the policemen's claim that they only placed Hontiveros under protective custody.


OMBUDSMAN'S LAWYER: WE WILL NOT SKIRT HOUSE PROCEEDINGS: >>> The camp of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said they will not avoid the House impeachment proceedings against her despite the motion for reconsideration that they filed at the Supreme Court. On the first day of the clarificatory hearings on the impeachment complaints on Wednesday, Gutierrez's counsel, lawyer Anacleto Diaz, said their camp will not "avoid or skirt the proceedings." Diaz likewise vowed to answer the two impeachment complaints filed against his client. "We will file our answer to the two impeachment complaints. Never mind if we have a pending motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court... We are going to participate in these proceedings, so that we will in turn to able to file our counter-affidavits," he said.

LAWMAKER EYES IMPEACHMENT OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: After the Ombudsman, the House of Representatives is eyeing Supreme Court justices as its next target for impeachment. Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas Jr. said on Tuesday that some of the high court's magistrates had gone too far in encroaching on the powers of Congress and were getting away with blunders without being penalized. "It's time to put them in their proper place," he said. Fariñas, vice chair of the House committee on justice, said he would file an impeachment case against some of the justices for betrayal of public trust in delaying the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez...

SUPREME COURT RAKED OVER THE COALS: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday took the Supreme Court to task for its string of controversial rulings, particularly on the petition of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to stop the House committee on justice from pushing through with the impeachment complaints against her. De Lima expressed dismay over the High Court's Sept. 14 resolution issuing a status quo ante (SQA) order on the impeachment proceedings when not all of the 15 magistrates supposedly agreed to grant such ruling, specifically Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Ma. Lourdes Sereno. Cario, in a dissenting opinion against the restraining order, had said that the justices were not given enough time to read Guitierrez' petition. The SC eventually lifted the SQA order when it denied Gutierrez's petition in a decision dated February 15. "You know, one can't help but wonder what is happening to our Supreme Court. We have issues or allegation of plagiarism, of flip-flopping as exemplified by the case of the League of Cities, the act of impropriety like the one revealed by Lauro Vizconde and you have this questionable issuance of the SQA order without the benefit of the study of the consideration of the 60-page petition with annexes," said De Lima.

PALACE URGES OMBUDSMAN TO CONSIDER RESIGNING: Malacañang on Tuesday urged Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to either resign or face the full brunt of the impeachment complaints filed against her in Congress. Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the call as the Palace welcomed the decision of the House Committee on Justice in approving the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez. Valte described the decision as "a momentous occasion for Philippine governance." "It is the first time an Ombudsman faces impeachment proceedings for the betrayal of public trust due to her inaction on the cases put forward in the complaints," she said. Valte hinted that Gutierrez has to decide on either staying in her position and fighting the impeachment complaint or resigning. "The constitutional process is already unfolding, and as the head of a constitutionally independent office, the Ombudsman must weigh her options in light of these historic proceedings," she said.

OMBUDSMAN SAYS RIGHTS VIOLATED "IN NAME OF POLITICS": Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez lambasted the House of Representatives Committee on Justice for pushing through with the impeachment proceedings, saying she can no longer expect any fair treatment from majority of its members. In a statement, Gutierrez said what the House justice committee did this morning "is a bad precedent in our justice system because the [committee] only showed how the constitutional rights of an individual could be trampled upon in the name of politics." The committee voted on Tuesday morning that there are sufficient grounds in the 2 impeachment complaints filed against Gutierrez.

OMBUDSMAN TO PRO-IMPEACHMENT SOLONS: "LOOK WHO'S TALKING": The Ombudsman on Tuesday took potshots at members of the House of the Representatives who, on the same day, declared as "sufficient in grounds" the impeachment complaints filed against her. "Ewan ko sa kanila, kung sila ay mga malilinis (I dont know with them, if theyre clean)," Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said in an interview aired on GMA-7s "24 Oras" newscast. Taking a swipe at the legislators lifestyles, Gutierrez said, "Sana naman, eh, kung ang nag-aakusa sa akin, eh, mga malilinis, eh, okay lang, 'no (It would have been okay if those accusing me are clean, 'no)." The House Committee on Justice voted 41-12 to push through with the impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez. In a statement, Gutierrez decried the decision to push through with the voting "despite a pending case on the same issue with the Supreme Court."

COUNSEL CRIES FOUL ON IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS: The legal counsel of Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez slammed the House Justice Committee, alleging that the probe body violated his client's Constitutional right to due process. In a statement sent to The Star, lawyer Butch Diaz said the impeachment process is being carried out with undue haste. "The Committee on Justice is trivializing and railroading the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Gutierrez in violation of her constitutional right to due process of law and its own rules," he stressed. "When a simple and reasonable request to defer the proceedings until the Supreme Court shall have resolved our Motion for Reconsideration is so cavalierly denied and successive hearings are set as if the impeachment is the only issue of national importance that merits their undivided attention, can there still be doubt that the committee is proceeding with indecent haste," Diaz said. He said the manner by which congressmen voted separately for two separate impeachment complaints is proof that the rule that only one impeachment proceeding can be initiated against an impeachable official in a year is being violated.

OMBUDSMAN: HOUSE PANEL'S MOVE TO SET A BAD PRECEDENT >>> After the House justice panel ruled there are sufficient grounds to remove her from office, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez issued a strongly-worded statement decrying the House panel's move as detrimental to the country's justice system and as a form of harassment against her. "This is a bad precedent in our justice system because the House justice committee only showed how the constitutional rights of an individual could be trampled upon in the name of politics," Gutierrez said. "I was hoping that majority of members of the House Justice Committee would rise above partisan politics but I guess I was wrong. I could not expect any fair treatment from the Justice Committee at this point," she added.

OMBUDSMAN SEEKS SUPREME COURT'S MERCY: In a last ditch effort to convince the Supreme Court to reverse its February 15, 2011 decision junking her plea to halt impeachment proceedings on two complaints against her at the Lower House, embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez filed her motion for reconsideration Monday. Gutierrez said the High Court erred when it ruled she could not invoke the one year constitutional bar on two impeachment complaints against the same impeachable officer. While the February 15 ruling of the court contended that only one proceeding has been initiated at the Lower House against Gutierrez since the two complaints against her, while filed separately, were referred to the justice committee at the same time, Gutierrez maintained two impeachment proceedings were in fact initiated within the one year bar period, "in clear and flagrant violation of Section 395, Article XI of the Constitution."

OMBUDSMAN'S ALLIES FAIL TO STOP IMPEACHMENT PROCESS: In the end, the allies of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez could not stop the impeachment juggernaut. The majority of the House of Representatives' committee on justice Tuesday proceeded to vote on the sufficiency of the two impeachment complaints filed against Gutierrez despite a plea from her lawyers and complaints of "railroading" by her outnumbered allies.

JUSTICE SECRETARY OK'S RESUMPTION OF IMPEACHMENT: The House of Representatives justice committee is "perfectly within its power and prerogative" to proceed with the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez amid the Ombudsman's pending motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court. This was the opinion given by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the justice committee's decision to proceed with the proceedings today and its subsequent voting on the sufficiency of grounds of 2 impeachment complaints against Gutierrez. Voting 41-12 and 42-12, the committee found sufficient grounds

SUPREME COURT INSISTS OMBUDSMAN RULING NOT YET FINAL: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday stood by its earlier position that the February 15, 2011 ruling of the court en banc is not yet final and executory amid the resumption of impeachment proceedings on 2 impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in the Lower House on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, SC administrator and spokesman Justice Jose Midas Marquez said this is in light of Gutierrez's filing of a motion for reconsideration (MR) on Monday.

TASK FORCES have been created by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) to craft recommendations for reforms in government. The MAP public-private partnership (PPP) program plans to submitting proposals before the president's State of the Nation Address in July. The panels, said MAP President Felino A. Palafox, Jr., will "enable us to be more proactive ... instead of just reacting to issues". Task forces with identified heads are those on airport improvement (Baltazar N. Endriga); conditional cash transfers (Evelyn R. Singson); anti-corruption (Jesus Carlos P. Villaseñor); climate change and disaster preparedness (Corazon Pb. Claudio); criminality (Fernando Martin O. Peña); agribusiness (Oscar A. Torralba); audit (also to be led by Mr. Endriga); and competitiveness (Cesar B. Bautista).

OMBUDSMAN: I'M A BATTERED WOMAN >>> OMBUDSMAN Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez sees herself as a "battered woman," continually harassed by vindictive congressmen who have been either charged or are facing charges at the initiative of her office. "I see that they are exacting revenge on me because I am being harassed here. I am already a battered woman," Gutierrez said on radio DZRH. She also lashed back at those who are "grandstanding" at her expense.

OMBUDSMAN APPEALS HIGH COURT DECISION: Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez accused the Supreme Court (SC) Monday of sanctioning a legal infirmity by allowing the House justice committee to proceed with the two impeachment complaints lodged against her. The House justice committee will start the impeachment proceedings on Tuesday, said its chair Iloilo Representative Niel C. Tupas Jr. But Gutierrez, in her motion for reconsideration, warned of setting a negative precedent in allowing the House committee to bend its own rules on "whim or caprice," by allowing multiple impeachment complaints to prosper before it at the same time and within a one-year period.


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82 congressmen belonging to the Liberal Party, the political party of President Benigno Aquino III will vote for the impeachment of the Ombudsman

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Belmonte: Merci can take care of herself

Lawmaker preparing impeach raps vs Supreme Court justices

Ombudsman "resorting to desperate measures"

Treasurers to undergo lifestyle check

OMBUDSMAN: If I should resign, than all those with pending cases should resign

Ex-ombudsman apologizes: I was wrong

Defiant LTO chief says she won't go

Customs commissioner finally sacks police chief

Militant group wants Gutierrez impeach bid to reach Senate

DoJ official accused of bias vs LTO chief

PMA grads urged: Shun money offers

House Committee on foreign affairs seeks answer from Department of Foreign Affairs regarding diplomatic status of special envoy to Middle East Roy Cimatu.

Bill filed at Senate to regulate plea bargains after controversial agreement allowed dismissed general charged with plunder to plead guilty to lesser crimes.

IMPEACHED BY HOUSE LIKELY: If it occurs Ombudsman would need eight senators on her side to negate a two-thirds vote (16 of the 23 members of the Senate) needed to convict her.

Solon calls on Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres to spare President Aquino further embarrassment by taking indefinite leave of absence for alleged involvement in failed takeover of LTO's information technology provider by rival business faction

Aquino stands by LTO chief

BIR to go after former military exec's bro-in-law

Ombudsman insists that the impeachment complaints filed against her are only meant to intimidate her and force her into quitting.

Ombudsman prefers to go on trial at the Senate

Senator gets lectures from colleagues for asking Ombudsman to resign

P-noy,delighted on Mendoza's probable return to government service

Ombudsman won't quit, to snub House hearings

LEADERS OF LEAGUE OF CITIES: Flip-flopping of the Supreme Court on cityhood case of 16 municipalities could be another ground for impeachment of SC justices...

Unions call for impeachment of Ombud, some justices

LAWMAKERS REVIVE BUDGET OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE that will monitor the national budget's implementation in light of recent congressional inquiries that have uncovered alleged fund mismanagement

Ombudsman scores lack of due process in impeachment move

Chavez sides with Gutierrez, attacks Marcelo

PCGG remits P100-M to National Treasury

Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez said that she is almost certain that the House Committee on Justice will convict her in the impeachment proceedings.

PNoy: LTO chief still enjoys my trust but must "act faster" on issues

Merci on Villa-Ignacio as Ombudsman: "Oh, God forbid!"

Prosecutors have filed criminal and administrative charges against a judge and a regional trial court (RTC) clerk before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court (SC) for allegedly falsifying the bail papers of a police official tagged as protector of a shabu laboratory busted in the province in 2008.

"Weak" allegations against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will be weeded out by the House of Representatives to ensure her impeachment when she faces trial at the Senate.

LWUA exec in graft raps on transpo pay

Customs police chief fired over unexplained wealth

Guingona wants future Senate hearings to show "positive" side of AFP

Ex-Ombudsman, ally sorry for false info on letter to PNoy

Official from the United Kingdom government highlights importance of government passing anti-red tape law, whistleblower protection act and freedom of information bill to establish conducive business climate for foreign investors.

Ex-military Chief Roy Cimatu feigned ignorance at first during Thursday's hearing by the Senate blue-ribbon committee on allegedly massive corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) but later admitted to owning two pieces of property worth P30 million in the central part of the country.

Ombud impeachment "1st step to prosecute Arroyo"

Ombudsman rejects appeal of ex-Iloilo guv

House Justice Committee Vice Chairman analyzes proof vs Ombudsman

Bishop also wants Ombudsman to resign

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House eases impeachment rules

Ombudsman presses graft raps vs Tupas Sr., 5 others

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P30-M property owned by Cimatus?

PNoy still undecided on what gov't post to give Heidi Mendoza

Wife of former military comptroller excused from testifying in t Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing after her blood pressure shot up

3 SOLONS: Evidence on Ombudsman's inaction "strong"

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: Bureau of Internal revenue Region 16 commits to run after tax evaders

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Ligot's wife, brother-in-law to attend Senate probe

SENATOR TO OMBUDSMAN: Do a Nixon and resign

Delivery receipt shows Justices voted on Gutierrez petition before receiving copies

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Complainant Akbayan party says nothing political in bid to have Ombudsman impeached, maintains she needs booting out because she is already "unfit to continue her office."

SENATOR seeks probe of Cebu International Convention Center after receiving reports its decorative lamps overpriced more than 33 times.

Former military budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa postponed filing of complaint-affidavit slapping plunder charges against former members of the Armed Forces'top brass.

SENATOR: Edgardo Yambao, brother-in-law of former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, will appear during continuation of the Senate blue ribbon committee's inquiry on alleged corruption in the military on Thursday

SOLON: House panel expects to finish impeach hearings next week

"House body impeachment proceedings unjust" - Ombudsman

Palace lauds impeachment proceedings

Time to resign, former Special Prosecutor urges Ombudsman

Justice Committee votes to proceed with Ombudsman impeachment

"Sufficient grounds in 2 impeach complaints vs Ombudsman"

Ombudsman asks Supreme Cpourt to reconsider decision on Congress impeachment move

SPEAKER: We have numbers to impeach Ombudsman

Twenty-five years after it was created to go after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) seeks to redeem itself in the eyes of the public.

House Speaker stops expulsion of Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson after receiving electronic copy of resignation letter.

CEBU City Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro lodgeS more charges against colleague, Assistant Prosecutor Liceria Lofranco-Rabillas, at Ombudsman Visayas Office...Castro filed grave slander/oral defamation charges Feb. 25 for uttering allegedly "defamatory remarks (that put) me to ridicule and shame before other people."

President of Negros Oriental State University admitts appointing half-sister as clerk of the university in 1992, but defends action as approved by board of trustees


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DOF enjoins you to become an active partner in the department's drive against tax evaders, smugglers, and erring officials of DOF and its attached agencies. We also solicit your feedback on exemplary service rendered by any of our civil servants.


Torres clearly showed bias in favor of the Sumbilla group in the failed Stradcom takeover. As LTO chief, she should have kept herself above the legal fray to protect the public interest. By taking the side of the Sumbilla group, she showed manifest partiality in the performance of her duties, which would make her liable for graft as well...True friends of any president pray for him to succeed. It would seem to me that, if Virginia Torres, plucked by her friend from the LTO Office in Tarlac. to be appointed LTO head, wants PNoy's "daang matuwid" to succeed, she would volunteer to resign or at least go on indefinite lleave.

Allies of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in Congress have decried the rush to vote on the impeachment compliant, even suggesting that the hurried action of the House Justice Committee effectively tramples the right to due process. It seems that they would like this committee to follow the example of the Ombudsman in dealing with high-profile cases, sitting on them for a long, long, long time. They conveniently forget that from the filing of the impeachment complaints in September, 2010, and the issuance of a status quo ante order by the Supreme Court on the Ombudsman's petition questioning why two separate impeachment complaints are being heard by the House justice committee, ferreting the truth has been delayed by five months. -- Melito Salazar Jr. in Manila Bulletin

The young man presiding over the House Committee on Justice, Congressman Niel Tupas Junior, was himself implicated before the Ombudsman for his involvement in several so-called "ghost seminars" from 2004-2007. More seriously, his father, a former governor of Iloilo, was dismissed by the Ombudsman in 2007 for graft committed within the quarrying industry. Self-evidently, the impartiality of Junior with regard to Mrs. Gutierrez might be described as - shall we say - much in doubt. If the young congressman cared about the propriety of his own behavior as much as he says he does about the Ombudsman's, he would long ago have found a way to recuse himself from the proceedings. -- Gary Olivar in Manila Standard

The power of the people will bring about good changes in government and society. People Power is not just about speeches and celebrating the past. It should be about celebrating the future by empowering the people to take a stand. The greater the number of people who speak up, the greater the number of people who will take action and who will be vigilant, the more likely it is that change will occur. Our country is gifted with people who care. P-Noy must take advantage of this "civic power" through non-violent struggle. It is using that collective voice and exerting pressure to curb corruption in all offices whether big or small. If a system is rotten, it's hard to clean it up from the inside because those benefitting from corruption will not voluntarily want to give up their benefits. Civic power can shake-up the system itself, making it more difficult for corruption to continue. -- Sara Soliven De Guzman in The Philippine Star

While Congress and the Senate are busy trying to decapitate the Office of the Ombudsman, I wondered how many other bodies, offices or organizations are there that actively lead the crusade and legal action against the corrupt? To most people the top three groups that seem to be the only one actively engaged in taking legal action against abusive or corrupt government personnel are the Office of the Ombudsman, Congress and the Senate. However, the only time that the Senate and Congress actually get into the picture is when the problem is almost non-manageable...The only quick solution to the growing problem of graft and corruption in government is to create a system where we can deputize or empower several organizations and individuals to create "FORCE MULTIPLIERS"...all the abuse and the criminality starts at local or lower levels of government. The incidents happen in greater numbers and are more widespread. But the means and the numbers to fight them remains concentrated in a handful of offices and order to reduce and inhibit corruption we must have more offices and more people in the fight! -- Cito Beltran in The Philippine Star

Hot legal topics these days too are grafters' relatives. People are asking: is the family that benefits from illicit wealth exculpated by the death of the grafter? Is a spouse who launders a grafter's loot exempted from investigation because suffering high-blood pressure? Can an in-law dummying for a grafter flout Philippine law because a foreign citizen? Again the Constitution provides the answer. Article XI, Section 15, says: "The right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials and employees, from them or from their nominees or transferees, shall not be barred by prescription, laches or estoppel." The recovery effort is not bound by time. It does not lapse because of coddling by negligent lawmen; future investigators and prosecutors may finish the job. The kin being sickly or a foreign citizen cannot stop Philippine authorities from retrieving stolen State assets. -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

DO I want Merceditas Gutierrez to resign? No. >>> First off, because that would let her off too easy. This is a country where, for some reason, resigning becomes the baptismal waters that cleanses people of original, and not so original, sins. That is so whether the resignation is temporal or eternal, whether the resignation is from one's office or from one's life. Where the resignation is from one's life, one doesnt just get to be absolved of his sins, one even gets to be called a hero...Second, because Gutierrez's resignation would be the best way to insulate her master and commander, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, from retribution...If she is impeached, the impeachment will not be about her, it will be about Arroyo. Gutierrez is just the front, the patsy, the fall guy. What is the nature of her crimes? The nature of her crimes is tolerating corruption in government while being the watchdog against it. No, more than that, it is abetting corruption while being the countrys defense against it. No, still more than that, it is making sure any effort from others to unearth the corruption and identify the corrupt are stamped out while being the designated handmaiden of honesty and decency in public office...And third, of course Gutierrez's resignation will have the considerable merit of removing from our gaze a not very pleasant sight...Gutierrezs impeachment will be for today what Erap's impeachment was 11 years ago. It will be a signal lesson in civics, it will be a signal lesson in crime and punishment, it will be a signal lesson in justice. At the very least, it will be an eye-opener in corruption for today's youth and a reviewer course in the same for yesterday's once-youth. That alone should refute the argument that Gutierrez's resignation will save government time and money. -- Conrado de Quiros in Philippine Daily Inquirer

P-NOY IS not acting like a President when he refused to suspend his shooting partner, Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres, chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), whose preventive suspension was recommended by his own justice secretary, Leila de Lima, after an exhaustive investigation into her alleged involvement in the attempted takeover of Stradcom, the technology provider of LTO. And Torres herself is putting P-Noy on the spot and subject to criticism, by staying put and proving her closeness to P-Noy...If she were a true friend, she would go on a voluntary leave of absence while her case is being heard. -- Neal Cruz in Philippine Daily Inquirer

...momentum seems to be gathering in the effort to make "big fish" accountable for their crimes and thievery. The threatened impeachment of Gutierrez would certainly pave the way for expedited and determined investigation by the body tasked by the Constitution to go after grafters in government. But even Gutierrez's ouster must be supplemented in turn by the appointment of a replacement with an unassailable reputation and record; an overhaul of the Office of the Ombudsman, beginning with the prosecutors who were complicit in the questionable Garcia plea bargain; and a renewed vigor among other offices charged with keeping the bureaucracy clean, beginning with the Commission on Audit...The media have made much of Mendoza's announcement that she is ready once more to return to government service, despite the challenges she had to face down while carrying out her duties. But Mendoza placed her announcement within the context of a long period of discernment, saying it was a decision borne out of a renewed belief that public service was still a calling worth pursuing. -- Rina Jimenez-David in Philippine Daily Inquirer

GRUDGE FIGHT: ...The impeachment complaint lodged against the Ombudsman, apart from being an anti-Arroyo move based on the Yellow equation that if Congress gets Merci, Noynoy gets Gloria prosecuted with a Noynoy appointed Ombudsman, is also a personal grudge fight between the Tupases, pere et fils, and Merci, over a graft case filed against them by the Ombudsman's office and the Congress is being used by the Tupases, with Noynoy riding on it, to exact vengeance - through an impeachment case. What it also shows, at least for Tupas Jr., and the complainants, along with the Palace tenant and his sychophants, is that no one, but no one, whether in the Ombudsman's Office or the Supreme Court, should mess around with anyone allied with the new ruling power. Thus, even as the Ombudsman's Office does its job and elevates a graft case to the Sandiganbayan, it is betrayal of public trust if the case involves a political ally of the incumbent Malacañang tenant, while dismissing cases of the new political power's allies would translate to the Ombudsman doing her job. But in cases where there is a dismissal or inaction of cases against the new powers political foes, then that is deemed a betrayal of public trust by these congressional prostitutes...Merci should reject all calls for her to resign and face trial, because the impeachment will not only be her trial, but a trial on how low the House of Representatives has sunk by way of political prostitution, and which senators will be sinking as low as their counterparts in the House as political prostitutes in convicting Merci. -- Editorial in The Daily Tribune

IMPEACHMENT AS POLITICAL PROCESS: Not a few quarters see the impeachment of Gutierrez - shorn of all the high-falutin' platitudes about "good governance - as an attempt of the current administration, along with its congressional allies, to put its own ombudsman in place...The odds are that the articles of impeachment against Gutierrez would eventually be sent to the Senate for trial. Still, the Constitution provides that no impeached official may be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate. Would the ruling coalition have the same "numbers" in the Senate that it apparently now has in the House in order to convict Gutierrez?

BLINDED BY VENGEANCE: It is apparent that House Committee on Justice Niel Tupas, Jr. is unaware or blithely ignores the common public perception that he is leading the rush to push the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to get back at her for the graft cases she filed against him and his father and namesake, former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas, Sr. The perception might be far from truth but it is the perception. And perception, as the communication experts say, is the reality. It would have been best if Tupas Jr. had inhibited himself from chairing the committee for the hearing on the impeachment case of Gutierrez. This had been suggested earlier by no less than Speaker Feliciano Belmonte who, as a lawyer and as a politician, must have realized the possible adverse reaction of having as the active chairman of the committee someone who is known to have an axe to grind against the Ombudsman. But Tupas refused. Seems he wants Gutierrez to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is payback time... -- Alvin Capino in Manila Standard

The Integrity Initiative is being pushed by the European Chamber of Commerce, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines and similar high profile business groups. Corruption continues to be one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and prosperity in the country, and it has been eroding the moral fiber of the nation, the MAP statement said. They said they couldn't have launched such a drive during the last administration. P-Noy's Daang Matuwid, they said, captures the spirit of their drive. They want local corporations to make a commitment by signing an Integrity Pledge. Then they are trying to convince government not to entertain any business deals with companies who have not signed the Integrity Pledge. -- Boo Chanco in The Philippine Star

YOU GET OMBUDSMAN, YOU GET EX-PRESIDENT: ...Impeachment is a political exercise. The jurors are politicians. Public sentiment will surely be a major factor in this exercise. If Gutierrez falls, the plea bargain with Garcia would be jeopardized. Right now, special prosecutors who were once arrogant about defending the deal are themselves being threatened with sanctions. It is doubtful if the Sandiganbayan would have the temerity to approve the deal. If the plea bargain is disapproved, which means his principal failed to deliver the protection promised, would Garcia's lips continue to be sealed? We may yet know who is the principal that allowed Garcia to amass hundreds of millions of pesos intended for soldiers. Forget about the Truth Commission. The Supreme Court did the Aquino government a favor by declaring that illegal. You get Gutierrez, you get Arroyo. -- Ellen Tordesillas in Malaya Business Insight

UPSIDE DOWN WORLD: The world has gone topsy-turvy for former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and Chief Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio. For sounding the alarm against the rushed-hushed plea bargain of plundering military comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia, they are now the ones in trouble. Their successors have charged them before the Sandiganbayan with indirect contempt. If found guilty, they can be imprisoned up to six months and fined up to P30,000. -- Jarius Bondoc in The Philippine Star

SWIFT JUSTICE: Congressman Singson tendered his resignation after a Hong Kong court sentenced him last week to 18 months in prison for drug trafficking...The quick action is of course also due to the efficiency of the Hong Kong justice system, which handed down a final judgment on his case within just six months following his arrest...If a lawmaker is tried for drug trafficking in the Philippines, the case could drag on for a decade before a final decision is handed down by the courts. And even when a decision has been declared final and executory by the Supreme Court, the tribunal has now made endless litigation possible with its seemingly perpetual flip-flopping on a case involving the cityhood law. Singson's case shows what happens when the justice system works. Unfortunately for the Philippines, its someone else's justice system. - Editorial in The Philippine Star

NO EXEMPTIONS: ...the Supreme Court has set deadlines for lower courts to dispose of motions and resolve cases pending before them. Sometimes the deadlines are met, sometimes not. Sometimes disciplinary action is taken against laggard judges, sometimes not. If we want a consistent standard for speedy justice, why do we not impose the same or comparable rule on even the Supreme Court - on how fast it should resolve cases? The High Court should not be exempt from deadlines. When SC justices prove to be slow, like the Ombudsman, will that be enough reason to file impeachment complaints against them? -- Federico D. Pascual Jr. in The Philippine Star

THE INCORRUPTIBLES: Remember the Old Testament tale in the Book of Genesis when God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because His angels could not find 10 righteous people there? What if God dispatched those angels to scour the Philippines, could they find 10 incorruptible people anywhere in the country to spare it from heaven's wrath? -- Rodel Rodis in The Inquirer Global Nation

DEFIANT OMBUDSMAN: ...The question here, as far as we can figure out, is whether or not the judiciary as the final arbiter of the Constitution and the laws has the power to usurp the function of the House of Representatives which, under the Constitution, is the sole body that can initiate impeachment. May the duty of interpreting the Constitution and the laws extend to the invasion of the turf of the House of Representatives as far as impeachment is concerned? If it does, the consequences are extremely dangerous. The Supreme Court, it may turn out, can stop impeachment proceedings. The effect is for the court to lend itself to the perpetuation of fraud in the sense that impeachment is restored to in an effort to get rid of an official who violates the Constitution and the laws but may not be yanked out of office except by impeachment. -- AMADO P. MACASAET in Malaya Business Insight remains to be seen whether the inquiries will ultimately reform the military, whether it will go beyond the realm of political theatrics, and whether it will have an effect beyond the paltry impact of newspaper headlines that are here today, gone tomorrow. What the people want to know is whether the lessons that have been learned from the sordid episode will lead to lasting reforms through legislation. After all, congressional investigations are supposedly conducted in aid of legislation. -- Editorial in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Media must be very discerning when promoting individuals. Its a fact of life that neurotic personalities tend to be the more interesting and attractive to media. There are more books about the Hitlers of this world than there are about the heroes that fight the Hitlers. In our Philippine media setting, this gravitation towards showbiz personalities and other celebrities has to be tempered. Media are responsible for the Saints as well as monsters that they promote wittingly or unwittingly. This is what editorial judgment is all about the care that media editors take to ensure that their consumers benefit in the most positive manner from the information and images transmitted. Unfortunately, this is not always followed as editorial policy. The demands of market competition have succeeded in the abandonment of better judgment in some media for something that will simply sell. -- William M. Esposo in The Philippine Star

President Aquino appeared upbeat when he addressed the first Philippine Development Forum (PDF) which was co-sponsored by the Department of Finance and the World Bank. No need for a miracle to make this happen, he noted, referring to the surge of optimism in the economy, a visible result in the campaign against corruption. "By doing things right, we now have a more transparent, accountable government worthy of peoples trust," he said as he narrated how the public funds are being spent, how we reduced opportunities for corruption, how we renegotiated and rebid some overpriced contracts, and how we generated savings by tapping local innovation and creativity. Specific examples were the adoption of "zero-based budgeting," Executive Order 24 to put an end to exorbitant allowances in government corporations, increased spending on social safety nets (Cash Conditional Transfer and PhilHealth), and affirmed commitment to basic education by providing it with the biggest budget increase in a decade. -- DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID in Manila Bulletin

FACE THE MUSIC: Impeachment does not mean ouster. If the process is allowed to take its course, the subject of an impeachment could even be cleared of the charges during the Senate trial and be vindicated. Gutierrez is accused of failing to act on major corruption cases during the administration of the president who appointed her to her post, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The best way for Gutierrez to clear her name once and for all is by going through the impeachment process. As several congressmen have pointed out, if Gutierrez refuses to participate in the House deliberations, the details will be one-sided. The process will move faster and the outcome is unlikely to be in her favor if she fails to present her side. Now that the Supreme Court has made no move to stop the House impeachment proceedings, it's time for Gutierrez to face her accusers. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

CORRUPTION STILL EXISTS: Madam Cory Aquino became President after dictator Marcos left Malacañang in February 1986 of this God-forsaken Republic twenty five years after the revolution in 1986. Under his presidency, the bachelor President Noynoy is trying to rectify the evils and failures of the past administration. He is bent on implementing reforms to meet the needs of the people. Not being pessimistic, this would become the waterloo on his part. Perhaps, what is left for us to accept and remember at this point in time that the late Madam Cory was the icon of democracy and GMA the icon of corruption. Take note both are female president, no difference except their perception. Today, it is still obvious that terror and chronic poverty continue to hound the Filipino people especially the marginalized sector here in the island of Mindanao. In fact, social deterioration is staggering. Many sectors of society have been pushed to suffer poverty far worse than before, some have been politically disenfranchised, million inhabitant remains jobless. GRAFT and CORRUPTION had become more deeply embedded. Malpractices in government offices continue to thrive and flourish. -- Peryasser S. Lahaman in Zamboanga Today

AFTER THE PARTY: ...a strong multi-party system is essential to a democracy. If a new democracy continues to have a weak party system built on personalities and clientism or patronage (the padrino system), old inequities can actually worsen. We've see this in the Philippines in the 25 years after Edsa. Only in the last election did we see some substantial differences in the platforms of political parties, and only under the current presidency have we seen some moves to translate political platforms into political action and governance...the perversion of the party-list system >>> Intended to give under-represented sectors a voice in the legislature, we have seen the party-list system hijacked to give congressional seats to traditional politicians...Even with a functioning and fairly free mass media, citizens may actually end up even more disgruntled and disillusioned if the structures for resolving problems, especially around corruption, continue to be weak. Extensive exposes and coverage of government anomalies without satisfactory resolutions, as we are now seeing, can be dangerous on two counts. First, when the guilty go unpunished, impunity worsens. Second, mass media could end up as kangaroo courts, prejudging the innocent...The AFP anomalies offer us an opportunity to reform the system through vertical accountability by way of strengthening civil societys "watchdog" functions, as well as through horizontal accountability, strengthening the checks and balances in government. -- Michael Tan in Philippine Daily Inquirer

AFTER 22 YEARS, WHO'S AFRAID OF THE OMBUDSMAN?: Four anti-graft czars and 22 years since its birth on Nov. 17, 1989, the Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines has failed to strike fear in the hearts of crooks, or summon full respect from the people it is supposed to protect against crooks...Criticisms and public censure, in fact, seem to have become par for the course for the Office and its head. But perception is one thing, reality is another. To try to gauge if all the brickbats the Office of the Ombudsman has endured so far is justified, the PCIJ did a careful reading of the database of the Sandiganbayan. Being the record of cases filed and prosecuted by the four Ombudsmen during their terms, the database offers a fair reference of their respective real performances. What it shows is this: all four had rendered largely poor to modestly good performance, against the Ombudsman's mandate set out in law.

POLITICAL RISKS TO WATCH: Aquino, son of two heroes of the Philippines' democracy movement, won the presidency in May 2010 after campaigning to fight corruption, respect human rights and deliver honest and transparent government. There are concerns he lacks the political nous to take on entrenched interests and push his agenda through Congress, where allegiances are loose and personalities matter more than political beliefs, and early signs have not been encouraging. Aquino was seen to have failed his first major test, when the bungled handling of a deadly bus hijacking last August exposed inadequacies in government and security forces. The bombing of a commuter bus in Manila in January presents another challenge for security forces and Aquino's command. There are doubts about Aquino's ability to push through with his plan to investigate his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and he has run into obstacles in a court system and bureaucracy dominated by appointments made by Arroyo. Three executive orders have already been overturned by the Supreme Court. In December, the court struck down an executive order creating the Truth Commission to investigate Arroyo and her administration, declaring it unconstitutional. Aquino maintains widespread popular support, but Arroyo remains politically powerful. --

CITIZEN OPINIONS: What has happened to us as a nation 25 years after the Edsa Revolution? - Many cite continuing corruption...

A new kind of People Power

This...situation calls for a change of heart and mindset for many of us. Instead of thinking of People Power as a one time, big time event that we commemorate every year. We should now begin to think of People Power as a way of life that we are called to live out each day. People Power brought freedom and democracy to our country in 1986 and it is also through genuine People Power especially from the more privileged class in our society that we will be able to free our country from poverty.  This new way of life calls for us to be more aware of what is happening in our society and to become more sensitive to the needs of the other especially the poor. It is also a call for us to go beyond our usual comfort zones, stop making excuses, make small sacrifices and decide to regularly make time to share our talents and skills to help address our country’s social problems.  Small things when done in a consistent basis will go a long way such as instead of buying another pair of shoes that you still don’t need, why not use the money to help buy a complete set of school supplies for several public school students? Instead of taking a trip to the beach every weekend, why not sacrifice a week or two every month so that you can take time to join a medical mission and use the funds to help provide life saving medicines to indigent patients? When each one of us decides to make these small sacrifices then we see this new kind of People Power emerging. This is the time as well when we will see that we are making headway in our fight against poverty.

In summary, what I am trying to say in this article is this new People Power asks for us not to turn a blind eye but to actually give a damn and care for the plight of our less-privileged Filipino brothers and sisters. It is a challenge for us to go beyond the typical lip service of saying that one loves the country yet s/he cannot even concretely show genuine love for its most marginalized people. It is a call to not stop at just complaining about all our country’s problems but to have a more conscious effort to become involved in nation-building.  Finally, it is an even greater challenge for us to begin to change our own way of life so that it is no longer just centered to ourselves, our needs and our wants but rather, a life where we make a firm and lasting commitment that each day is another opportunity for us to do our own share in helping uplift the lives of others. -- Harvey S. Keh - Read full blog article at:


The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism series on military corruption
25 years after People Power

Part 1: On EDSA’s 25th, corruption devours the Armed Forces

Sidebar: A 25-year rebellion

Part 2: Petty, big, routine graft a lucrative trade at AFP

Sidebar: A politicized military

Part 3: Corruption talks trigger worry, debates in AFP

Sidebar: Boots on the ground

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Ehem -- the anti-corruption initiative of the Philippine Jesuits echoes the urgent call for cultural reform against corruption in the Philippines.
Ehem aims at bringing people to a renewed sensitivity to the evil of corruption and its prevalence in ordinary life. It seeks ultimately to make them more intensely aware of their own vulnerability to corruption, their own uncritiqued, often unwitting practice of corruption in daily life.
Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical of corruption, intent on integrity!
Management Association of the Philippines 
MAP is a management organization committed to promoting management excellence. The members of the MAP represent a cross-section of CEOs, COOs and other top executives from the top local and multinational companies operating in the country, including some top officials of government and the academe.

iPro supports the process of reducing corruption by seeking synergies between Government of the Republic of the Philippines agencies and civil society at all levels.

This website primarily serves to gather for research and educational purposes in one single place news and information specifically pertinent to integrity and corruption in the Philippines. The news items, views, editorials and opinions summarized or reported on this website are taken from the general media and reputable blogs, websites, etc., and are exclusively the responsibility of the original sources and/or authors. In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this website is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit research and educational purposes only. Ref:
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