Thursday, August 31, 2017

Duterte refuses to learn from history.

Duterte follows the dictatorial pattern of his idol Marcos, who, after imposing martial law in 1972, forcibly took over all major businesses of the Lopez Family, e.g., ABS CBN, Meralco, The Chronicle newspaper.

Now Duterte is targeting ABS CBN and its mother/holding company BENPRES.

The Lopez Family funded Marcos' presidential candidacy in 1969.

His vice president was Fernando Lopez, brother of business magnate Eugenio Lopez Sr.

After three years [1972], Marcos declared martial law and impoverished the Lopez Family.

Marcos imprisoned Eugenio Lopez Jr. on trumped-up charges that the latter, in an alleged conspiracy with Serge Osmena, tried to cause the assassination of Marcos.

Marcos used Lopez Jr. as a hostage to force his father Don Eugenio to surrender his business empire to Marcos.

The old man died in great sorrow in California in the late 70s.

Since then the Lopez Family (with the help of the people of Iloilo, the roots of the Lopezes, and of the Western Visayas region, for that matter) has been a major supporter of the global freedom movement to restore democracy in the Philippines.

In 1986 EDSA I ousted the Marcos Dynasty and its cronies from power.

The rest is history.

Duterte refuses to learn from history.

As the maximum goes, he who ignores history is bound to repeat it.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced that he is going after the holdings company that controls media network ABS-CBN over its supposed debt to…

NORTH KOREA AND INTERNATIONAL LAW - by Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

"x x x.

My column in Manila Standard tomorrow...


Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

To the whole world's consternation, North Korea sent a missile flying across Japan and Kim Jong Un, its young, unpredictable and arrogant leader, has threatened to make of Guam a target for his dangerous games. And while threats have flown fast and thick and the rhetoric has been upped several notches with the likes of Trump threatening nothing less than a reprisal of apocalyptic proportions, it seems that not very much can be done to rein in the mischief of Kim Jong Un.

And that, to many, is the impertinence as well as the impotence of international law. In fact, some go so far as to wonder whether international law is really law, given that enforcement mechanisms are close to nil. And that, of course, is not true only of North Korea but even of the United States. The American government has, on several occasions, blatantly transgressed international law. The capture of Noriega immediately comes to mind, and its withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, just as the Court was all poised to pass upon Nicaragua's complaint provides another ready example.

In the first place, thinking of international law as some globalized form of domestic law is a terrible mistake. It is law, but law of a different species. It remains law insofar as it is normative of conduct and prescriptive of state behavior. The very hypocrisy by which recalcitrant states justify their violation of international law by some principle of law is proof of its currency, for if it did not exist, there would be no point to looking for some title by which to justify state misconduct.

While there is an undeniable trend towards supra-state unities such as international organizations with state-analogous features, there is, like some counter-force, a trend towards tribalism of which Brexit and the furor that ignited it are good instances. Shortly after Britons voted to leave the Union, there was talk of Frexit and other exits that, fortunately for the world, have not gotten off the ground. And with the British Prime Minister's utter cluelessness about the future of the United Kingdom outside the European Union, I do not think that too many will be following suit anytime soon.

ASEAN Integration put more grit into the union of Southeast Asian Nations but has not come anywhere near the European Union. One thing is that the economies are so diverse as to allow for the degree of integration that was possible for Europe. To be sure, we in this part of the world have taken great strides, but each country remains jealous about claims to "sovereignty".

Since there can be no such thing as an international police force (the slow progress taken by the International Criminal Court in establishing an international criminal law regime is only one facet of resistance to international vertical enforcement), the most effective enforcement mechanism in the world scene remains "horizontal" -- enforcement by States themselves. And that is why, law that is not enacted by a supra-national legislature or universal parliament can be more effective if arrived at by the consensus of states, and that is just what the nature of conventional law and customary law is.

But "horizontal enforcement" presupposes a common resolve of states to live by law and to be governed by law. And while all realize at some time or the other that it does not pay to be outside the fold of the law, it belongs to the nature of international relations that politics and law cannot be divorced from each other, nor is it practicable, really, to draw a strict line of demarcation between the two. Somehow, the application of law will consider political realities. But it will not do to sideline the law nor to allow for its transgression by acquiescing to violations, for laxity in this regard only weakens that essential network of collective resolve by which lone international law is enforced.

The world has to find a way of making clear to Kim Jong Un that it does not pay to be dangerously naughty! And treating him seriously rather than dealing with him like some spoiled brat might just be a step in the appropriate direction!

Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino
Professor VI, Cagayan State University
Dean, Graduate School of Law
San Beda College

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Duterte is not happy with merely appointing twelve new justices. He wants his own Chief Justice appointed by him and under his own control.

During his term Duterte will be lucky enough to appoint twelve new SC justices by reason of the retirement of most of the incumbents.

He will completely consolidate his control over the entire Judiciary (which is supposed to be an independent branch of government in constitutional theory).

But Duterte is not happy with merely appointing twelve new justices.

He wants his own Chief Justice appointed by him and under his own control.

Duterte's coalition mercenaries in the pork barrel-fed and dynasties-infested Lower House will help him attain his dream.

The House will soon impeach Chief Justice Sereno, an Aquino appointee.

Will Sereno fight it out to the very end of the Senate impeachment trial, like the late Arroyo-appointed Chief Justice Corona?

We will see.

If we follow the ultimate political plan of the Duterte camp, next year the two houses in Congress would be preoccupied impeaching the Chief Justice, the Comelec chairman, the Ombudsman, the Vice President.... and all chairs and members of the independent constitutional commissions who refuse to be subjugated by the Duterte regime.

Note that the regime is now planning to kick out the chair of the Commission on Human Rights (a constitutionally created body) from his post.

In the end, Duterte, like his deity Marcos, will rule the nation as a "lifetime constitutional monarch".

When that day comes, you can be sure the nation will end up like a banana republic drowning in poverty, corruption, brutality and hopelessness.

Look at Venezuela now -- and how its people are revolting against their government (and how they are migrating away from their country).

That is the governance pattern Duterte is following.

Filipinos, better invoke God's mercy to save your nation from total collapse.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is facing her first impeachment complaint filed on Wednesday, August 30 before the Office of the Secretary General of the House of…

Duterte is overhauling the Philippines.

Duterte wants a "Con-Ass" (congressmen and senators to propose the constitutional amendments) to federalize and remake the Philippines.

Duterte rejects a "Con-Con" (freely elected delegates to propose the amendments).

His loyal executive assistants in the House and the Senate (Speaker Alvarez and Senate President Pimentel) bow and agree with him.

Early next year the congressional railroading by the pork barrel-fed and dynasties-infested Con-Ass will start.

By October they will hold the plebiscite.

Duterte's glorified legal research unit (presidential "constitutional commission"), led by former Chief Justice Puno and former Senator Nene Pimentel, will prepare the draft Constitution according to his agenda.

The Con-Ass will approve it, as scripted.

It is up to the sovereign Filipino people whether they would swallow, hook line and sinker, during the plebiscite Duterte's scripted constitutional overhauling.

Duerte will use all the resources at his presidential command to achieve his dream.


The Con-Ass, as a sovereign body, has the full power to tinker with any and all parts of the Constitution to pursue the hidden agenda of the Duerte camp, such as:

* the elimination of all election term limits,

* the abolition of the prohibition against political dynasties,

* restricting the expanded power of judicial review of the Supreme Court,

* expanding the war powers and martial law powers of the president,

* eliminating the exclusivity rule on the national patrimony to accommodate China in the West Philippine Sea,

* lifting the nationality rule re: ownership of land, mining and public utilities by aliens (mainly the Chinese) under an expanded discretionary presidential approval system,

* and many other crucial amendments that may revive the Marcosian principle of a "strong and overarching presidency" (akin to a "de facto constitutional dictatorship") vis-a-vis its co-equal branches (the Congress and the Supreme Court).

Duterte is overhauling the Philippines.

Filipinos must be prepared to oppose his hidden agenda to subjugate the Philippines.
MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has completed his list of 25 members of the Constitutional Commission (Con-com), which includes retired chief justice Reynato Puno, who will study the proposed amendments to the Charter.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Is Ombudsman Morales "overstaying"? - Duterte pretends to be an expert constitutionalist and scholar-king.

Duterte claims that Ombudsman Morales is allegedly "overstaying" in her constitutional office. The logic of Duterte is that since the predecessor of Morales (i.e., Gutierrez) had resigned in the sixth year of her seven-year term during the Aquino administration, Morales, as the successor, must be deemed to have assumed office only to the extent of the "balance" of the seven-year term of her predecessor (i.e., one year).

Perhaps, Duterte is thinking of the 2012 case of Funa v. Villar (re: COA chairmanship issue). See -…/…/april2012/192791.htm. In that case, the SC held that when a COA chair resigns or is impeached or is incapacitated (which is different from "expiration of term of office") the new appointee shall merely assume the "balance" of the "unexpired term" of the former COA chair.

The foregoing case of Funa vs. Villar is not applicable to the Office of the Ombudsman. It refers solely to the COA. The Office of the Ombudsman is covered by a separate article of the 1987 Constitution (i.e., Article XI).

The relevant provisions of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution with respect to the qualifications and term of office of the Ombudsman are as follows:

"Section 8. The Ombudsman and his Deputies shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines, and at the time of their appointment, at least forty years old, of recognized probity and independence, and members of the Philippine Bar, and must not have been candidates for any elective office in the immediately preceding election. The Ombudsman must have, for ten years or more, been a judge or engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines.

During their tenure, they shall be subject to the same disqualifications and prohibitions as provided for in Section 2 of Article 1X-A of this Constitution.

Section 9. The Ombudsman and his Deputies shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least six nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council, and from a list of three nominees for every vacancy thereafter. Such appointments shall require no confirmation. All vacancies shall be filled within three months after they occur.

Section 10. The Ombudsman and his Deputies shall have the rank of Chairman and Members, respectively, of the Constitutional Commissions, and they shall receive the same salary which shall not be decreased during their term of office.

Section 11. The Ombudsman and his Deputies shall serve for a term of SEVEN YEARS without reappointment. They shall not be qualified to run for any office in the election immediately succeeding their cessation from office."

The SC ruling in Funa v. Villar did not refer to the aforecited provisions of Sec. 8 to Sec. 11 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution which exclusively refer to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Moreover, under Sec. 7 and Sec. 8 of R.A. 6770, otherwise known as the "Ombudsman Act of 1989", it is provided:

"Section 7. Term of Office. — The Ombudsman and his Deputies, including the Special Prosecutor, shall serve for a term of SEVEN (7) years without reappointment.

Section 8. Removal; Filling of Vacancy. — (1) In accordance with the provisions of Article XI of the Constitution, the Ombudsman may be removed from
office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.

(2) A Deputy, or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process.

(3) In case of vacancy in the Office of the Ombudsman due to death, RESIGNATION, removal or permanent disability of the incumbent Ombudsman, the Overall Deputy shall serve as Acting Ombudsman in a concurrent capacity until a NEW OMBUDSMAN shall have been appointed for a FULL TERM. In case the Overall Deputy cannot assume the role of Acting Ombudsman, the President may designate any of the Deputies, or the Special Prosecutor, as Acting Ombudsman.

(4) In case of temporary absence or disability of the Ombudsman, the Overall Deputy shall perform the duties of the Ombudsman until the Ombudsman returns or is able to perform his duties." (See -…/repu…/Republic_Act_No_6770.pdf).

As a brother lawyer, may I humbly suggest to Duterte that before he opens his arrogant and manipulative mouth to pronounce misleading, if not fake, constitutional doctrines, he should first order his Malacanang lawyers to do prior legal research to educate and guide him on the constitutional and legal issues involved and to temper his inflated ego and uncontrollable tongue. He should stop pretending to be an expert constitutionalist and scholar-king.


What is Australia’s Stake in Philippine Chaos? | The Diplomat

See - What is Australia’s Stake in Philippine Chaos? | The Diplomat
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What is Australia’s Stake in Philippine Chaos?
Why should Australia be concerned with Duterte’s rising authoritarianism and contempt for the rule of law?
By Imelda Deinla and Rory MacNeil
August 24, 2017

As a maritime trading nation, Australia’s geostrategic interest in the Philippines derives largely from the volume of maritime trade that transits between Australia and Northeast Asia, through waters controlled by or adjacent to the Philippines. This also helps to explain Australia’s stance on freedom of navigation in the South China/West Philippines Sea. A large proportion of Australia’s refined petroleum imports comes from Korea, Japan and China, and transit through the Sulu and Celebes Seas. These shipments are threatened by piracy and terrorism linked to the ongoing Marawi crisis.

For this reason, it is in Australia’s interest for the Philippines to have an effective and accountable security sector and a stable well-functioning government that upholds the rule of law. To deal with the rising threats of terror and radicalization, the Philippines needs a capable and effective military and police force. Australia needs a safe, stable and reliable guarantee of its freedom of navigation. This can be secured by the rule of law, and not by shifting discretion or convenience of governments or their leaders. On the other hand, Australia needs to have a good relationship with the Philippines’ leadership to maintain ongoing access to engage in cooperative intelligence activities in the Philippines. Australia has a significant stake in the resolution of the Marawi crisis, contributing intelligence support from two P3 Orion Aircraft flying overhead missions to gather signals and imagery of the militants still in Marawi.

The Philippines-Australia relationship has become more complicated under the Duterte administration. Duterte scoffs at the rule of law and its institutions. He has no desire at the moment to build a professional and effective police force to confront extremist groups or to strengthen judicial institutions. His interest lies in increasing the number of killings of those involved in illegal drugs or those who criticize his policies. With over 12,000 reported extrajudicial killings (including women and children) the administration is turning the police force into the biggest criminal institution in the country. Additionally, Duterte has shown he is comfortable leveraging the Philippines’ geostrategic importance to major regional powers, including the United States, China and Australia. He continues to threaten to sever ties with the United States and derides Western leaders’ criticisms of his policies. It is obvious that he has no respect either for international law or the human rights system. Similarly, Duterte shows no interest in upholding the rule of law in international waters, as shown by his decision to downplay the Hague ruling on the South China Sea dispute. Additionally, Duterte has avoided engaging ASEAN for a multilateral solution to the issue in the form of a binding code of conduct in the disputed seas.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Australia’s Response

A divided and politically unstable Philippines, coupled with a rampaging undisciplined police corps, will not serve Australia’s strategic interests. A Philippines that will not assert its rightful claim on the South China Sea nor support ASEAN’s role on the issue does not bode well for Australia’s position on freedom of navigation.

Australia is in a quandary on how to manage Duterte. It has not unequivocally condemned the Drug War, nor any of Duterte’s creeping measures towards authoritarianism. Australia’s DFAT Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva made a statement criticizing Duterte in May. However, this was at a low level of authority, and so has reasonably little significance. Meanwhile Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop did not raise the issue with Duterte in their meetings and instead pledged Australia’s continued support for peacebuilding in Mindanao. So why not? Duterte has a track-record of taking criticism very badly. This was demonstrated when he blasted Australian AmbassadorAmanda Gorely’s mild criticism of his comments about the gang-rape of an Australian woman in 1989.

Duterte also has popular support for his drug war, both at home and in Indonesia. Duterte is more popular in the Philippines now than he was before the drug war began. In late July Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo gave a speech in which he called for police to gun down drug traffickerswho resist arrest, echoing similar statements made by Duterte. Since then, Amnesty International has reported the extrajudicial killing by police of at least 60 drug suspects in Indonesia. Indonesia’s National Police Chief has previously called Duterte’s Drug War a good example of how to make drug dealers “go away.” This means that if Australia issues a strong criticism at the highest levels of Duterte’s Drug War, it could damage Australia’s relationship with both the Philippines and Indonesia. Duterte has made it clear he does not care what foreign critics say, so criticism from Australia would likely do little to stem the violence.

On moral grounds, Australia should condemn Duterte’s behavior. In practical terms it is unlikely to happen, and even less likely to work.

What Does This Mean for Australia (or What Can Australia Do?)

Duterte’s Drug War and moves to undermine institutions of the rule of law run counter to Australia’s national interest. Australia benefits from a secure, stable and progressive Philippines that upholds the rule of law. A singular brutal focus on narco-politics by the Duterte administration has sidelined much needed reforms that could deliver sustainable peace and inclusive growth and build responsive institutions. The anti-drug crusade has manipulated people to applaud extrajudicial killings, thus further weakening legal institutions. If this trend continues, we may yet again see the Philippines descend into deep political and economic instability. The Philippines looks like a humanitarian disaster in waiting, and may become increasingly hard to govern in the long-term. This may mean more poverty and injustice, increasing the chances of terrorism, piracy and mass migration. This presents ever more risks to Australia’s interests in the region.

Now more than ever, Australian policymakers need to be looking for creative ways to stop or mitigate Duterte’s detrimental policies. While it makes sense for Australia to hold off its public criticisms, there is a lot that Australia can and should be doing. Australia can channel its development aid towards providing assistance on combating drug proliferation. This could be implemented by drawing from its past successes in intelligence gathering and community policing. The integrity and capacity of the institutions of the rule of law, including civil society, need to be strengthened. This is particularly the case on areas where due process can be served effectively and in professionalizing justice personnel and members of the legal profession. Australia can also support the work of domestic Philippine and international human rights institutions to ensure that governments and leaders are made accountable for their human rights atrocities during or long after their terms of office.

The Philippines’ proximity to Australia – and the large number of Filipino migrants in Australia, further make a compelling case for Australia to be concerned with the Philippines’ chaos.

Dr Imelda Deinla is a Research Fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. Her area of expertise is on rule of law and ASEAN integration, legal pluralism, justice and conflict in Mindanao, Philippines. She recently published a book, The Development of the Rule of Law in ASEAN: the state and regional integration (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Rory MacNeil is currently completing his MA thesis in International Relations at the ANU. His research focus is on petro-politics in the Asia Pacific region. He also works as a Research Assistant at the ANU Philippines Project.

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It's unacceptable children are deemed collateral damage in Duterte's war on drugs

See - It's unacceptable children are deemed collateral damage in Duterte's war on drugs
"x x x.

AUGUST 24 2017

It's unacceptable children are deemed collateral damage in Duterte's war on drugs

Lindsay Murdoch

Bangkok: Imagine this, children as young three described as "collateral damage".

More than 12,000 people killed in just 14 months, most of them urban slum dwellers.modal window.

Police kill at least 13 people in Manila on the third night of an escalation in President Rodrigo Duterte's ruthless war on drugs and crime, taking the toll for one of the bloodiest weeks so far to 80.

If bodies continue to pile up at this rate the death toll of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs" could top 60,000 in six years.

Where is the outrage from Australia?

Australia slams Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte over drug killings
Bishop will visit 'punisher' Duterte in his southern stronghold

Photographs splashed across the media show Australia's top spy Nick Warner fist-pumping to the camera during a meeting with Mr Duterte in the presidential palace on Wednesday.

It was not a good look for the director-general of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, even if grave matters like Islamic State's arrival in the southern Philippines may have been discussed in the private meeting.

Mr Duterte ordered the drugs crackdown and has been accused by the United Nations of presiding over what could amount to a crime against humanity.

Earlier this year Foreign Minister Julie Bishop travelled to Mr Duterte's hometown, Davao, in the southern Philippines in what human rights groups called a "pilgrimage to a mass murderer".

Funeral workers prepare to remove the body of a crime suspect after he was killed in gunbattles late in Manila, Philippines. Photo: AP

"We never discussed human rights. [Australians] are so courteous," Mr Duterte said after the trip.

Ms Bishop disputes the President's portrayal of their meeting and says Australia has "several times" raised reports of extra-judicial killings under the crackdown with Mr Duterte and his senior officials.

Australia's spy chief Nick Warner with Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte in Manila. Photo: Supplied

The Turnbull government also joined international condemnation of killings at the UN human rights commission in Geneva in May.

And as recently as Monday, Ms Bishop said Australia was "deeply concerned" after the bloodiest five days of the crackdown, including the execution by police of a 17-year-old high school student.

Filipino student activists call for justice for victims of extrajudicial killings during a rally at the University of the Philippines in suburban Quezon last year, Photo: AP

And she told a press conference on Thursday it was Mr Duterte's idea to be photographed with Mr Warner.

But Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, said it is "sickening that the head of Australia's spy agency would pose for a photo effectively fist-pumping a leader who has instigated the killing of thousands of people in the so-called war on drugs."

Jomari, a friend of Kian Loyd delos Santos, refuses to leave the wake. Photo: AP

"It really adds insult to injury to the Filipino victims and to the families of those who've been murdered in cold blood as part of this campaign," she said.

But Mr Duterte, a 72-year-old foul-mouthed former provincial mayor, doesn't see any outrage from Australia, a long-time ally, over the largest number of civilians killings in south-east Asia since the Khmer Rouge genocide and Vietnam War in the 1970s.

After a meeting in late July with Ms Bishop and separately with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting, Mr Duterte told reporters that Australia and the US "mostly, they have considerably toned down on human rights".

It is clear that words alone from Australia's foreign minister have failed to resonate with a man who has emerged as south-east Asia's most dangerous dictator in decades.

Police 'paid bounties' in Duterte's war on drugs: report
Rodrigo Duterte in sights of the International Criminal Court

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

CHR: House-to-house drug testing unlawful | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star |

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CHR: House-to-house drug testing unlawful
By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 25, 2017 - 12:00am

The CHR said Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 specifically provides that drug tests must be conducted by “government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the (Department of Health) to safeguard the quality of test results.” 

MANILA, Philippines - The conduct of house-to-house drug testing in slum areas in Quezon City is against the law, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said yesterday.

The CHR cited possible violations of a person’s right to privacy and presumption of innocence by suspecting drug addicts in slum areas.

“From a human rights perspective, there is a violation of the presumption of innocence. The policy should be considered for further study before being fully implemented,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said.

“It is a kind of intervention that, when properly applied, might be useful. Our worry is when someone tests positive, they would be included in the drug list and might be later killed,” he added.

The CHR said Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 specifically provides that drug tests must be conducted by “government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the (Department of Health) to safeguard the quality of test results.”

“There is no provision in the law stating that police forces can conduct drug tests,” the CHR pointed out.

In a separate statement, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) agreed house-to-house drug testing is illegal and unconstitutional.

“It violates the right to privacy, presumption of innocence and basic human dignity. It is against unreasonable searches and against the right to self-incrimination,” NUPL said in a statement.

“It is even legally useless as the results taken should be inadmissible and incompetent evidence in court as these were taken by non-experts and without counsel. It is anti-poor and discriminatory,” it added.

The NUPL also questioned why the house-to-house drug testing was conducted in poor communities and asked whether this will also be done in condominiums and gated subdivisions.

The CHR also cited a Supreme Court decision in 2014 ruling that mandatory drug testing is a violation of the right to privacy and the right against self-incrimination or testifying against oneself.

“Mandatory drug testing can never be random and suspicionless. The ideas of randomness and being suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a criminal complaint,” read the ruling.

The CHR said the house-to-house drug testing might violate the right to privacy of citizens as prescribed in the 1987 Constitution.

Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar maintained there was no violation when they conducted drug testing on the residents of Payatas.

He said the residents volunteered for drug testing that was initiated and funded by barangay officials.

Meanwhile, the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) has launched an online petition asking the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to scrap its mandatory drug testing in schools. – With Kurt Adrian dela Peña

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"“The executive implements the law and has the sole monopoly of the use of force. When force is used and results in death, legal questions come in and that are brought before the courts. But so far we have not had so many questions brought before us,” Sereno added."

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Sereno eyes legal moves to prevent rights abuse
posted August 28, 2017 at 12:01 am 

THE Supreme Court is looking for new legal measures to protect human rights amid the rising death toll in the government’s war on illegal drugs.

“We’re still in the process of evaluation on what still could be done,” said Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, who said the Court’s special human rights committee headed by Sandiganbayan Presiding Jusice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang is reviewing the sufficiency of writs to address possible human rights violations.

Sereno said the review will determine whether legal remedies available today are sufficient to address the spate of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.

During her annual meet the press event held in Cebu Thursday, Sereno admitted that she herself was uncertain if the writs of Amparo, habeas corpus and habeas data provided in courts would suffice to address the killings under the administration’s war on drugs.

“Are the present writs sufficient to uphold citizens’ rights? This question has been bothering me some time now,” she said.

“Of course it is our duty to do what we can, so how do we account for the number of violent deaths being seen right now?” Sereno said.

Sereno admitted that the hands of the judiciary are tied when it comes to cases of extrajudicial killings because it could only step in when cases are filed.

“The problem is we have a Constitution that places the judiciary in the last part of the process... Because of this sequence, we find ourselves timid because we do not do investigation, we do not file cases, so the limitations remain,” she said.

Of all the reported cases of extrajudicial killings, not too many were actually filed in court, she said.

She pointed out that the mandate to conduct investigations and file cases in court belongs to the executive branch.

“The executive implements the law and has the sole monopoly of the use of force. When force is used and results in death, legal questions come in and that are brought before the courts. But so far we have not had so many questions brought before us,” Sereno added.

Of the thousands of reported cases of killings in the war on drugs during the 13 months of the Duterte administration, only one has reached the Court in January.

The Supreme Court issued a writ of Amparo upon the petition of a survivor and families of four drug suspects killed in an operation in Payatas, Quezon City last year. 

It also issued a temporary protection order (TPO) that specifically prevented operatives of Station 6, which conducted the operation in the area in August last year, from entering the residence and workplaces of survivor Efren Morillo and other petitioners within a one-kilometer radius.

Last March, charges of multiple murder, frustrated murder, robbery and planting of evidence as well as grave misconduct were filed against the policemen involved in the operation where drug suspects Marcelo Daa Jr., Raffy Gabo, Anthony Comendo and Jessie Cule were killed.

Lawyers of Morillo from the Center for International Law also filed a petition last April seeking promulgation of a new rule—the writ contra homo sacer, which will provide for mandatory inquest proceedings in a case of death from either legitimate police operations or vigilante-style killing.

In another case, the Department of Justice indicted members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group team involved in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap inside a sub-provincial jail in November last year for murder.

However, upon review, the DoJ downgraded the case to homicide that allowed the 19 accused led by Supt. Marvin Marcos to post bail. 

On Sunday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government called on local government units to use a web-based system to monitor the implementation of drug policies.

Called the Integrated Drug Monitoring and Reporting System, the web-based system collects, manages, and analyzes data and information on drug abuse prevention of various national government agencies, LGUs, and partner groups and organizations.

Incoming Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency head Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino said he believes controversies hounding the anti-drug campaign will be minimized if operations are solely conducted by the anti-drug agency.

“I’m hoping the time will come when the only drug operations will be handled by the PDEA,” Aquino said in Filipino on radio dzMM. “The police will be concentrating on other crimes such as theft and robbery and car theft.”

Related stories:

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Monday, August 28, 2017

"The government needs to address these major noneconomic issues now before it becomes too late, when foreign investors and tourists start looking elsewhere because of the political uncertainty they perceive in the Philippines."

"x x x.

Perceptions on peace and order

Editorial | Philippine Daily Inquirer | August 28, 2017

A number of noneconomic factors impact greatly on business, among them peace and order and the trade in illegal drugs.

Already, foreign business groups here have raised concerns regarding these issues, particularly the administration’s war on drugs that has resulted in thousands of deaths and the prolonged state of martial rule in Mindanao.

Their main concern is in investments and tourism, which the country needs to sustain economic growth that, in turn, is needed to achieve the government’s goal of lifting millions out of poverty by the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.

Police data showing that the crime rate has either stabilized or dropped cannot change what people perceive as the true state of law and order, or the lack of it.

More than the numbers, people base their sense of the peace and order situation around them on TV and radio news broadcasts as well as newspapers and online news sites.

Each day, crimes are being committed against persons and property. Exacerbating these are news on killings done by both vigilante groups and the police in the name of the campaign against illegal drugs.

“If I were an investor from Europe or anywhere else and I want to put up a factory and I have $500 million, would I really want to put this in a country with issues on peace and order? I think the answer is, I would do so very hesitantly because you don’t understand what’s coming your way,” said Guenter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

True, the impact of the current peace and order situation on foreign investments may be a bit of a stretch considering that these investors do more detailed analyses and consider a number of factors before deciding on whether or not to invest.

But this is not the same for tourists, who can decide based on what they read online or in media entities in their home countries.

Such is the view of the president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Bruce Winton, who is also the general manager of Marriott International hotels in Manila and Iloilo.

He points out that tourists do not observe the same level of meticulous research compared to foreign investors. For a tourist making a vacation choice, he or she will simply look at the headlines.

The government can counter that tourist arrivals are still growing, based on data from the Department of Tourism. The number of foreign visitors increased by 12.73 percent in the first half of the year to 3.36 million visitors, up from 2.98 million in the same period in 2016. But we should not wait until the numbers start falling before acting on the peace and order situation.

The government cannot easily dismiss all this as a perception issue or something that the media have blown out of proportion.

The case of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was shot by policemen during a drug raid, is an example. It cannot be brushed aside as an isolated case because it has drawn much condemnation that, if ignored, can create much uncertainty in the political climate.

This uncertainty, in turn, can make not only tourists but also foreign investors hesitant to engage the Philippines.

The European Chamber’s Taus says it clearly: Business decisions are more difficult to make when investors view the Philippines from outside, especially given the negative reports on the country by the international media.

Reacting earlier to the declaration of martial law in Mindanao last May, Taus pointed out then that to a large extent, what has kept businesses out of the island was precisely the poor peace and order situation.

With the Marawi crisis dragging longer than what everyone had expected, this can indeed discourage investors who have been waiting on the sidelines.

The government needs to address these major noneconomic issues now before it becomes too late, when foreign investors and tourists start looking elsewhere because of the political uncertainty they perceive in the Philippines.

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We must regain access to our legal entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc

China now patrols Philippine seas and air space. Its coast guard controls entry into and the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal, 120 miles off Luzon. Paramilitary fleets increasingly are fishing in the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Warships venture close to Zambales and Mindoro in the West Philippine Sea. Chinese aircraft regularly confront Philippine flights to Pag-asa Island in Palawan’s Kalayaan Island Group. Maritime research vessels are exploring the Philippine western seabed as well as Benham Rise off Cagayan, and Samar and Surigao in the east. All these are in breach of international law.

Maritime law expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal sounded the alarm in a recent forum on Manila’s arbitral victory against Beijing. He called for renewed government resolve to regain Philippine access to its legal entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Manila should strike up agreements to avoid skirmishes.
Batongbacal presented this situationer to the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute:

• Satellite data indicate increased foreign fishing since 2012 within the WPS. Chinese fishing vessels, including the maritime militia, operate freely near Macclesfield Bank west of Luzon. 
• Chinese coast guards patrol the waters around artificial islands that China reclaimed from reefs in the Philippine EEZ.
• Military fortifications in the artificial islands enable China to operate 24/7 in the Spratlys, including the Kalayaan Islands. Chinese Navy and Coast Guard vessels frequently are sighted there.
• With the completion of anti-aircraft air defenses in the artificial islands, expect Chinese influence and presence in the Spratlys to expand to the air. Last year Philippine aircraft were challenged every time they approached to land on Pag-asa Island.
• China’s Coast Guard maintains constant “law enforcement” presence in Scarborough Shoal. The Philippine Coast Guard is no longer able to approach the shoal beyond a certain distance. As Chinese fishing there intensifies, Filipino fishing has become limited. The initial response of the Duterte government was a proposal to turn Scarborough into a marine protected area. That would mean preventing our fishermen from fishing in the shoal. A similar proposal was voiced for the Spratlys. Protecting marine resources is good, but if done in the face of intensified Chinese fishing, we would in effect limit our own fishing in that area.
• Constant military, paramilitary, and law enforcement presence has enabled China to gain control, and deny access, to the WPS.
• Chinese vessels operate in the area between Scarborough and the Philippine coast of Zambales. Last December a Chinese vessel seized a US Navy sea drone only 90 kilometers from Subic Bay.
• Chinese military vessels are also sighted off the coast of Mindoro, the Armed Forces reported to Congress early this year.
• Also early this year a Chinese surveillance aircraft nearly collided with an American patrol plane over Scarborough Shoal. It was called an “unexpected encounter” and “unsafe encounter.” That indicates the regularity of Chinese air presence. China announced in July 2016 that it will be conducting combat air patrols over Scarborough. A picture was released in the Chinese media of a Chinese nuclear-capable bomber flying over the shoal.
• Similarly in the Spratlys is an increase of Chinese air activity. Expect this to intensify when the island fortresses become fully operational.
• China has deployed a new instrument of national power: marine science research. Research vessels have been operating around the Spratlys. The results of these activities are even publicly announced in their media. Oceanographic experiments involved deep-diving submersibles in the South China Sea and the oil-rich Reed Bank within the Philippine EEZ.
• The sightings in Benham Rise east of Luzon were part of China’s “West Pacific Ocean Systems Project.” That five-year program includes the installation of an instrument platform off Cagayan.
• Chinese vessels spent some time just off Bicol, then proceeded to collect seabed specimens in the waters of Samar and Surigao. Two Chinese scientific journals reported the installation of an instrument platform 80 kilometers off Surigao.

“Control of access means control of the sea,” Batongbacal says. “What we see here is China gaining more and more access, while the Philippines is giving up access. We are no longer exploring for petroleum in our seas, whereas Chinese research activities have expanded.”

The ASEAN, which Manila chairs on its 50th year this 2017, is trying to pin down China to a Code of Conduct on the disputed seas. That Code would require a moratorium on aggressive acts. By the time China is ready to sign such Code, it would have expanded its access to Philippine waters in light of Philippine acquiescence. Manila would not be able to recover what it is giving up today.

“We are not doing enough to protect our interests,” rues Batongbacal who heads the University of the Philippines-Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea. “And for what? In order to establish good relations? In order to be secure in promises of loans and weapons?”

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).
Gotcha archives on Facebook:, or The STAR website

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Search for Marcos' wealth: Compromising with cronies

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Search for Marcos' wealth: Compromising with cronies

What the entire world knows after 30 years is a mere fraction, and not the entirety, of the Marcos loot

By Philip M. Lustre Jr.

Published 5:15 PM, February 25, 2016
Updated 11:30 AM, February 27, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Months after its creation in 1986, the Presidential Commission Good Government (PCGG) saw tangible results of its quest for the return of the illegal assets of the Marcoses and cronies.

It negotiated the first compromise deal with crony Jose Yao Campos, a Chinese Filipino entrepreneur who owned the controlling interest of United Laboratories Inc., a major drug firm, for the return of the Marcos assets listed under his name.

Campos, low key and unassuming, was probably the most cooperative among the known Marcos cronies. Unlike other cronies who chose to slug it out with the post-Marcos government, Campos cooperated fully in surrendering the Marcos assets under his name. Marcos used him mainly as caretaker of those illegal assets.

A friend of the dictator, Campos surrendered to the PCGG the 197 titles representing pieces of real estate property in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bataan and Baguio City, and P250 million ($5.3 million) in cash. The pieces of real estate property have a combined value of over P2.5 billion ($52.5 million). 

In 1987, the PCGG recovered P375 million ($7.9 million) from the accounts of Campos and Rolando Gapud, reputedly the dictator’s financial adviser, in Security Bank and Trust Company, a local commercial bank. Decades later, the Honolulu court decided to compensate the human rights victims of the Marcos regime and ruled the sale of two pieces of property in the US to pay them. They were listed under Campos’ name.

Among the Marcos assets under Campos’ name, which the PCGG sold to the private sector, were: the Dasmariñas property in 1994 for P200 million ($4.2 million); IRC Antipolo property in San Isidro in 1995 for P27.6 million ($580,000); the IRC Antipolo property in Victoria Valley Subdivision 1996 for P35.2 million ($740,000); Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company shares in 1999 for P74.2 million ($1.6 million); and Anscor and PLDT shareholdings in 2005 for P41 million ($860,000).

Also sold were: Manila Bulletin shareholdings in 2008 for P163 million ($3.4 million); the Wack-Wack property in Mandaluyong City in 2011 for P127 million ($2.7 million); Hans Menzi Compound in Baguio City in 2012 for P93 million ($2 million); Banaue Inn compound in 2012 for P10 million ($200,000); Mapalad property in Paranaque City in 2013 for P247 million ($5 million); and the J. Y. Campos property in Baguio City in 2014 for P160 million ($3.4 million).

Banana magnate, too

In 1987, banana magnate Antonio Floirendo entered into a compromise deal with the PCGG and turned over P70 million ($1.5 million) in cash and assets. The Marcos assets he gave to the PCGG included the Lindenmere Estate and Olympic Towers in New York and the real property listed as 2443 Makiki Heights Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The PCGG sold the Marcos assets under Floirendo’s name such as: Beverly Hills property in California in 1994 for $2.52 million and its residual items for $42,300; the Makiki property in 1995 for $1.35 million; and the Lindenmere Estate in 1996 for $40 million. Since the Lindenmere property was heavily mortgaged, the PCGG’s share was $1.62 million.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Roberto Benedicto, the dictator’s close friend since their law school days at the University of the Philippines, followed suit in 1990. In a compromise agreement with the PCGG, he surrendered $16 million in Swiss bank deposits, shareholdings in 32 corporations, 100 percent of the California Overseas Bank shares, and 51 percent of his agricultural lands, and cash dividends in his firms.

The PCGG sold the Marcos assets under Benedicto’s name, which two pieces of Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation property in Cebu in 2001 for a total P228.5 million ($4.8 million), received P58.3 million ($1.2 million) as its share of just compensation of 40 percent of the proceeds of the 2003 sale of three tracts of sugarland in Negros Occidental, and privatized in 2008 the Eastern Telecommunications, Phils., Inc. shareholdings for P104 million ($2.2 million).

The PCGG recovered illicit assets from persons, who were not necessarily cronies but lesser known caretakers to whom Marcos entrusted his ill-gotten wealth. When the volume of his illegal operations grew at the height of martial rule, Marcos recruited unknown persons to do the job for him.

The PCGG entered into compromise settlements with low profile Anthony Lee, who surrendered shareholdings in Mountainview Real Estate Corporation in 1991; Alejo Ganut Jr., who surrendered P50 million ($1 million) in 1996; and Antonio Martel, who ceded a 4.6 hectare property in Bacolod City in 1996.

Crony Herminio Disini, who worked as agent for the sale of the ill-fated but overpriced Bataan nuclear plant, refused to cooperate with state authorities. After lengthy court battles, the PCGG secured from the Supreme Court in 2012 a decision declaring as ill-gotten the $50.56 million commission he received from Westinghouse,Inc., the supposed contractor of the Bataan nuclear plant.

The SC ordered the Vienna-based Disini to return the entire amount plus interest charges to the Philippine government. Disini has yet to respond to the SC decision.

Eyeing big companies

What the entire world knows after 30 years is a mere fraction, and not the entirety, of the Marcos loot. A number of their illegally acquired assets in the country have been identified.

What has been stashed abroad remains a big question, although it has been estimated that the loot could be between $5 billion to $10 billion.

Marcos was not content to receive huge under-the-table commissions from foreign contractors of big ticket state projects. Marcos and his cronies had set their eyes, too, on major firms long regarded as blue chips by the stock market. These included Manila Electric Company (Meralco), Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), and San Miguel Corporation.

Marcos, using brother-in-law Benjamin Romualdez, took control of Meralco and sent its owners, the Lopezes, to exile in the US shortly after he declared martial law in 1972. Marcos secretly used Ramon Cojuangco as his nominee in PLDT. Marcos used crony Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr to use coconut levy funds and take control of SMC.

The PCGG did not lose time in filing claims on blocks of shareholdings believed to be owned by the Marcoses and their ilk in those three firms. The judicial grind was taxing to the spirit, but after years of court litigation they bore fruit as the government had recovered billions of pesos from the sale of the contested shareholdings.

The PCGG recovered and sold to the private sector the first batch of Meralco shares held by Benjamin Romualdez in 1994 for P13.5 billion ($280 million); the second batch in 1997 for P2.6 billion ($55 million); the third batch in 1998 for P53 million ($1.1 million); and the fourth and last batch in 2008 for P2.1 billion ($44 million), or a total of P18.7 billion ($393 million).

The recovery of the Marcos assets in PLDT took a more circuitous route. The court litigation was characterized by earlier decisions only to be overturned by motions for reconsideration. In the end, the PCGG has secured in 2006 the final decision from the Supreme Court saying that the contested shares belonged to Marcos and not to the family of Ramon Cojuangco.

In 2006, the PCGG sold to the Metro Pacific Holdings., a local firm owned by the Hong-Kong based First Pacific Group, the PLDT shares worth P25.2 billion ($530 million), ending 20 years of court battle.

The PCGG’s claim over the Marcos assets in SMC is largely a function of the collection of coconut levy funds from coconut farmers. The coco levy originated in the 1970s when Marcos decided to tax coconut farmers, promising them the funds would be used to develop the coconut industry and they would represent their investments.

Cojuangco was the main beneficiary of the funds in his capacity as SMC chair. A huge part of the coconut levy funds were used to buy the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). Later, UPCB was used by Cojuangco to acquire the controlling interest in SMC.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that Cojuangco’s 24 percent stake in SMC was not part of the coco levy funds. Neither did it belong to the Philippine government. The SC ruling also said that the government failed to prove that Cojuangco was a Marcos crony.

But in 2012, the Supreme Court reversed its earlier decision and ruled that the questioned assets came from coconut levy funds. It ruled with finality that the government owned the 24 percent block of shareholdings and that they should accrue for the benefit of the coconut industry and coconut farmers.

The PCGG acted to redeem the SMC shares and placed the sales proceeds of P56.54 billion (nearly $1.2 billion) in an escrow account with the Bureau of Treasury. Moreover, it filed a motion with the Supreme Court to deliver another 4 percent SMC shares worth P14.12 billion (around $300 million), which represented the amount that accrued to the government’s shareholdings had they not been converted into treasury shares.

Fake names in Swiss banks

Beyond raiding companies and using dummies, the Marcoses also put huge sums in foreign banks.

No one knew the exact magnitude of the secret bank deposits of the Marcoses and cronies in Switzerland and other tax havens, which serve as destinations for the illegal wealth. This remains a Gordian knot in the quest for the illicit wealth of the dictator and cronies.

While fleeing from Malacañang on the fateful night of February 25, 1986, Marcos failed to get rid of many documents, which showed he owned secret bank deposits in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. They were listed under a dozen foundations.

Ferdinand and Imelda used the fictitious names “William Saunders” and “Jane Ryan,” respectively. Among the recovered documents were “declaration/specimen signatures” forms that the couple signed with their real names as well as pseudonyms.

The discovery prompted the newly installed Aquino government to work for the freezing, recovery, and repatriation of those secret Swiss bank deposits. But the circuitous litigation in Swiss courts and domestic courts took years. It was only in 1995, or after close to a decade, that the Swiss courts ordered the transfer of those Swiss bank deposits, although the return depended on the final ruling of the local courts on its disposition.

In 2000, the Sandiganbayan ordered the forfeiture in favor of the government of the secret Swiss bank deposits of $658 million, which grew to that level after the discovery of more secret banks. In 2003, the court ruled in favor of the PCGG in forfeiting in favor of the government the Swiss deposits.

The decision paved the way for the submission the following year of the recovered money in the Bureau of Treasury.

On the positive side, the saga of the hidden wealth of the Marcoses and cronies in Switzerland has triggered policy changes in the Swiss banking system, affecting huge bank deposits suspected to have been earned by fraud and other illegal means.

In 1995, the Swiss Parliament enacted an amendment to an existing law that effectively removes legal impediments to the repatriation of illegal wealth to the host country. Swiss laws no longer require the final judgment on the criminal conviction of the depositors, who face court charges for their illegal acquisition.

Sustaining this law, the Swiss Supreme Court promulgated in 1996 a landmark decision that criminal proceedings are no longer required for their repatriation. Hence, civil or administrative proceedings would be enough. The ruling also gave deference to the final judgment of the Philippine court as to the ownership of these deposits.

The changes in the legal environment were to be expected. The global reputation of Switzerland and its banking system was at stake, as its banks were perceived a haven for money laundering, specifically those obtained by crime.

Tasks ahead

Fast forward to 2016.

PCGG chair Richard Amurao, whom President Benigno Aquino appointed in 2014 to replace Andres Bautista, now Comelec chairman, is working on the recovery of illegal assets worth P32 billion ($673 million) before the Sandiganbayan. Civil cases against 19 parties have been pending with the anti-graft court over the past one or two decades.

The civil cases involve the P12.9 billion ($271 million) worth of shareholdings listed under Lucio Tan’s name, P6.8 billion ($143 million) shareholdings listed under Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr’s, and P1.5 billion ($32 million) shareholdings listed under the squabbling pair of Victor Nieto and Manuel Nieto’s.

The other civil cases are the claims on P483.5 million ($10 million) worth of shareholdings and P267.4 million ($5.6 million) worth of real estate property of the Marcoses; P626.6 million ($13 million) worth of shareholdings; P73.9 million ($1.6 million) worth of real estate property listed under Alfredo Romualdez’s name; and P426.7 million ($9 million) worth of shareholdings and P222.1 million ($4.7 million) worth of real estate property listed under the Tantoco couple – Bienvenido and Gliceria.

Amurao said that P78 billion ($1.6 billion), or almost 40 percent of the recovered assets of P170 billion ($3.6 billion), went to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which the Cory Aquino government launched in 1987. The money was used mainly for land acquisitions and post-acquisition services to enhance the farmers’ productivity.

Amurao, however, could not categorically say when the PCGG should terminate its affairs, although he has expressed belief that it has to wait for the conclusion of the remaining civil cases. –

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