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Rey G. Panaligan

Duterte orders release of Vietnamese fishermen caught poaching in PH waters

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said President Duterte has ordered the release of 17 to 29 Vietnamese fishermen caught poaching in Philippine waters and has even offered to transport them to Vietnam with the expense shouldered by the Philippine government. But Aguirre said the President has emphasized that the government will be tough in enforcing the anti-poaching laws in case of future incidents. He said “our commitment only covers those who have already been arrested. But I don’t think it will cover future offense.” He explained that the release of the arrested Vietnamese was a sign …

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CA affirms ruling on INP retirees’ pension

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its decision that ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to pay the P3.9-billion pension differentials of the retirees of defunct Integrated National Police (INP) from 1991 to 2006. In a resolution written by Associate Justice Pedro Corales, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by DBM and PNP which sought the issuance of an injuction against the ruling of the Manila City regional trial court (RTC) in favor of the INP retirees. It said the motion failed to raise new arguments that would warrant the reconsideration of its April 29, 2016 decision. “The motion for reconsideration is a mere reproduction of the arguments raised in the petition. We do not find any bona fide effort on the …

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Marinduque gov, bank execs charged

Marinduque Gov. Carmencita O. Reyes and several officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) have been charged with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Office of the Ombudsman, it was learned yesterday. They were charged in connection with the P300-million loan obtained by the Marinduque provincial government from the DBP. Aside from Reyes, also charged were DBP Chairman Jose Nunez Jr., vice chairman Gil Buenaventura, and other bank officials. In its complaint, the Marinduque Reform Movement (MRM), headed by Eliseo J. Obligacion, told the Ombudsman that the DBP should not have approved the loan because Reyes and the other provincial officials did not comply with the requirements for the grant of the loan. MRM claimed that the provincial officials violated Provincial Ordinance No. 116 issued in 2014 for …

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Part of P300 M seized in 2014 NBP raid missing – DOJ chief

A new Department of Justice (DOJ) witness revealed that only P1.6 million of the more than P300 million seized during the raid at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City on Dec. 15, 2014 was reported, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said yesterday. “Ostensibly on paper, they said they only confiscated firearms and other contraband items and P1.6 million pero (but) in reality sabi (said) ng witness, they were able to get more than P300 million in cash from that particular raid,” Aguirre told journalists in an interview. Aguirre declined to identify the witness neither did he say if the new witness will be presented in the inquiry being conducted by the House Committee on Justice on the extent of the illegal drugs trade in the NBP during the term of …

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DOJ orders random drug test for employees

Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II ordered a random drug test for officials, prosecutors, and employees of the Department of Justice (DOJ). “We cannot prosecute if we ourselves are tainted by the very drugs we seek to eradicate,” Aguirre said. “The DOJ will play a great part in President Duterte’s efforts to have a crime-free Philippines but great powers come with great responsibility. We have to see to it that they believe in our prosecutors,” he pointed out. There are more about 2,300 prosecutors in cities and provinces nationwide, and more than 100 assigned in the DOJ main office in Manila.

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David pursues Poe ruling reversal

Losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David said on Sunday he will seek a reversal of the Supreme Court ruling that Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino and qualified to be a member of the Senate. David filed a case to disqualify Poe, who won a Senate seat in 2013, but the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) that declared Poe a natural-born citizen. "The High Court's disposition in the SET case needs to be clarified. Its interpretation of the article on citizenship and the equal protection clause finds no support in the text thereof nor in the spirit of the law and indisputably amounts to an impermissible amendment of the constitution without the consent of the people," David said. He insisted that the SET committed grave abuse …

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Marcelino seeks drug charge dismissal

The Manila regional trial court (RTC) is set to hear starting at 9:30 a.m. today the plea of Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino to dismiss the drug case filed against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ)  last week. Also to be heard are the motion of Marcelino and his co-accused Yan Yi Shou to defer the issuance of arrest order and arraignment. Both are represented by Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) headed by Atty. Persida Rueda Acosta. Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, and Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez will defend the DOJ’s action. PAO had manifested that there was no probable cause to indict Marcelino and Yan and the issuance of the arrest warrant "would have dire consequences upon them who will again be …

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SC affirms 2015 Senate Electoral Tribunal ruling declaring Poe a natural-born Filipino

The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed yesterday the 2015 ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) which declared Sen. Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares a natural-born Filipino and qualified to hold office as member of the Senate. In a 9-3 vote, the SC dismissed the petition filed by losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David. The court decision said: “Public respondent Senate Electoral Tribunal did not act without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in rendering its assailed November 17, 2015, Decision and December 3, 2015, Resolution. Private respondent Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino citizen qualified to hold office as Senator of the Republic.” In a press briefing, spokesman Theodore O. Te said: “The SC ruled that the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s …

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Supreme Court rules no plea bargaining with drug convicts

The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday required the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to answer the petition seeking to declare unconstitutional a provision in Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, that prohibits plea bargaining between the prosecution and the accused in drugs cases. In a press briefing, Spokesman Theodore O. Te said the SC acted on the petition filed by Salvador A. Estipona Jr. through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) of the Department of Justice (DOJ). PAO Chief Persida Acosta said that her office was forced to elevate the issue on plea bargaining before the SC after the Legazpi City regional trial court (RTC) denied the request of a drug suspect, Estipona who was arrested for possession of 0.084 grams of shabu, to enter into plea …

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Brush up on rules on warrantless arrest, SC tells law enforcers

The Supreme Court (SC) has reminded law enforcers on the rules on warrantless arrests and searches on persons or vehicles of suspected criminal offenders as it acquitted a drug convict because of “unreasonable and unlawful” search and arrest done by the police. In a decision written by Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, the SC said there must be a lawful arrest first before a search can be done and “the process cannot be reversed.” It pointed out that “routine inspections do not give police officers carte blanche (complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best) discretion to conduct warrantless searches in the absence of probable cause.” With the decision, the SC acquitted Gerrjan Manago of violating Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of …

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