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MAASIN CITY NEWS & INFORMATION

25th January 2016
MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 25, 2016, 8:31 pm

Who will be liable for Mamasapano? 

Will the whole story about the ill-fated Mamasapano operation ever be told?

This question surfaced after government officials on different sides of the political spectrum sent mixed signals in relation to a new probe sought by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

It has been a year after the bungled operation that resulted in the death of 44 SAF policemen sent deep into Tucanalipao, Maguindanao to serve a warrant on Malaysian terrorist Marwan but no one has been held liable for the carnage.

The Palace immediately downplayed Enrile’s call for a new probe saying there was “nothing new” to find out.

Enrile, however, insisted that all evidence - including wiretapped conversation - that could shed light on the bloody Mamasapano clash should be presented during the reopening of the Senate investigation on Wednesday.

“Any information that is pertinent, material and relevant to be heard by the nation must be put on the table. No excuses,” Enrile said.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte supported the new probe saying, “let Enrile unravel the truth”.

Duterte said he is willing to tell what he knows based on what he heard during the meeting that transpired on the same day in Zamboanga City.

The popular presidential candidate was in Zamboanga the same day for a federalism forum, the second after the launching in Butuan City.

He had to cut short his speech at the packed Grand Astoria Hotel after he was invited to join Pres. Benigno Aquino III and then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas inside the Edwin Andrews Air Base.

“We have to arrive at the truth because, until now, all the results of those investigations are convoluted,” the mayor added.

Enrile initially appeared less inclined to invite Duterte and retired Chief Supt. Diosdado Valeroso saying anyone who claims to have knowledge on the Mamasapano incident should voluntarily appear and “should not wait to be subpoenaed”.

It is doubtful though if Duterte would do that without any invitation or subpoena. 

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, an ally of Duterte, said he will ask Sen. Grace Poe to invite the mayor that could pave the way for the mayor’s Senate appearance.

Duterte knows what to expect from Aquino’s allies on the probe.

“Kung ang mga pulitiko sa adminstration would talk about it, would defend it, then you cannot get the truth because you have a one-channel there,” he pointed out.

One year after the carnage, no one has been made accountable for it much less brought to court over it.

It’s about time the questions are answered so those responsible can face the music.

Only then can the victims - and the nation - talk about moving on. (CHITO A. FUENTES)

 


23rd January 2016
LP standard bearer Mar Roxas in Maasin
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 23, 2016, 6:35 am

By JANI ARNAIZ

January 23, 2016

MAASIN CITY – LP standard bearer arrived at dusk Friday from Tacloban city and stayed overnight at Mercado owned Villa Romana hotel. He was met by local officials led by brothers Governor Roger Mercado and Rep. Damian Mercado.

The scheduled press conference at 6:30 a.m. Saturday was cancelled, his media coordinators informed the Philippine Information Agency. There will also be no ambush interview.

Roxas will be at the public market 7:30 a.m. and will proceed to the city gym to explain his platform with his supporters from the city where, his bitter rival Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte was born and attended first grade at Laboon Elementary school.

He will then proceed to the Guadalupe village to inaugurate the alternate port, where DOTC funded for P60 million during his time as the secretary of the transportation and communication. Then to ongoing expansion construction of the city’s airport before proceeding to Ilo-ilo for the Dinagyang festival.

 

 


22nd January 2016
AFTER 1ST DIVISION JUNKS MOTION
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 22, 2016, 3:40 pm
Duterte counsels to file MR Monday
 
CABANATUAN, Nueva Ecija - The legal panel of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will file a motion of reconsideration (MR) with the Comelec en banc after the First Division junked his motion asking Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon to inhibit from the disqualification cases filed against him before the poll body.
Lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre said the MR will be filed “not later than Monday”.
The First Division dismissed the petition filed by Duterte seeking Guanzon’s inhibition from the disqualification cases filed against him.
The order was signed by the First Division Presiding Commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Commissioner Louie Tito Guia and Guanzon herself. 
In it’s three-page decision, the First Division dismissed Duterte’s motion “stressing that the grounds for inhibition of a Member of this Commission invoked by respondent Duterte are voluntary, and not mandatory, as explicitly stated in Rule 4, Comelec Rules of Procedure.”
Aguirre, Duterte’s lead counsel, disagreed with the order.
“Contrary to (Guanzon’s) position, our motion for her to inhibit based on prejudgment is not a voluntary ground but a mandatory one as we will show in our MR,’ Aguirre said in a text message.
Duterte’s motion cited three main reasons in asking for Guanzon’s inhbition.
First, a cursory reading of the petition filed by Ruben Castor shows that “it does not contain any of the allegations” mentioned by Guanzon in her dissent.
Secondly, the motion said the allegations were “never raised” as material issues during the Dec. 18, 2015 hearings conducted by the Comelec First Division on the said petition.
Finally, at the time Resolution No. 10028 was promulgated, “no petition was filed against Respondent Duterte raising said issues.”
Duterte’s lawyers said Guanzon “has not observed the essence of due process” that demands that a court “hears first before it condemns, or proceeds only upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial. 
At the same time, the motion noted that “(a)s if by some odd coincidence, the said allegations were found in the petition filed by Delas Nieves on Dec. 22, 2015, five days after the issuance of the en banc resolution.
“Nowhere in his petition did Castor allege that he was questioning the documents filed by Respondent Duterte,” Duterte’s lawyers said.
The motion added that even Castor admitted in his urgent ex parte motion dated Dec. 11, 2015 that “the sole legal issue” in his petition is the COC of Dino. (CHITO A. FUENTES)

15th January 2016
Guanzon inhibition sought by Duterte
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 15, 2016, 8:06 pm

For raising allegations never raised by petitioner, among others, the legal panel of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has sought for the disqualification and inhibition of Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon in the hearings in one disqualification case.

The 15-page motion was signed by lawyers Vitaliano Aguirre II, Antonio Kho Jr. and Loreto Ata. 

In her dissenting opinion in a Comelec resolution, Guanzon alleged that “(t)here is a pending case, Castor v. Duterte (15-194 DC) wherein the petitioner alleges that Duterte’s COC is void because it contains untruthful acts or misrepresentation.”

“There is also the issue regarding his notarized documents, the truth or falsity of which must be determined before his COC is accepted,” Guanzon added.

Guanzon was the lone dissenter in Comelec en banc resolution no. 10028 dated Dec. 15, 2015 which resolved to acknowledge and accept Duterte’s certificate of candidacy. 

In its motion for disqualification and/or inhibition of Guanzon in the petition filed by John Paulo Delas Nieves, the Duterte legal panel said it was “shocked” by the dissent for three reasons.

First, a cursory reading of the petition filed by Ruben Castor shows that “it does not contain any of the allegations” mentioned by Guanzon in her dissent.

Secondly, the motion said the allegations were “never raised” as material issues during the Dec. 18, 2015 hearings conducted by the Comelec First Division on the said petition.

Finally, at the time Resolution No. 10028 was promulgated, “no petition was filed against Respondent Duterte raising said issues.”

The motion stressed that all the grounds and allegations of Castor in his petition pertained solely to the COC of Martin Dino and not to Duterte’s COC as Guanzon “erroneously” wrote in her dissent.

“Nowhere in his petition did Castor allege that he was questioning the documents filed by Respondent Duterte,” Duterte’s lawyers said.

The motion added that even Castor admitted in his urgent ex parte motion dated Dec. 11, 2015 that “the sole legal issue” in his petition is the COC of Dino.

Duterte’s legal team also stressed that as of Dec. 17, 2015, the date Comelec resolution no. 10028 was promulgated, neither Duterte nor his lawyers were aware of any case in which any issue was being raised regarding his COC.

In seeking for Guanzon’s inhibition, the motion said that consistent with due process and fair play, she “should have refrained from making any adverse conclusions with respect to the election documents of a candidate without first seeing and reading an actual petition raising such allegations and issue.”

Duterte’s lawyers said Guanzon “has not observed the essence of due process” that demands that a court “hears first before it condemns, or proceeds only upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial. 

At the same time, the motion noted that “(a)s if by some odd coincidence, the said allegations were found in the petition filed by Delas Nieves on Dec. 22, 2015, five days after the issuance of the en banc resolution.

Delas Nieves’ counsel is lawyer Sheila Bazar.

Guanzon’s association with Bazar is another reason why Duterte’s legal panel is asking for her inhibition.

The motion noted that Bazar and Guanzon are founders and members of the Gender Justice Network which it claims only has seven individuals as members “thus creating a sense of exclusivity among the members.”

Duterte’s lawyers said pictures of Guanzon and Bazar on at least three instances were also publicly uploaded by Guanzon in the group’s Facebook group.

They added that Guanzon also follows Bazar on Instagram “further proving the close friendship of the two. The motion added that Guanzon only follows 23 accounts on Instagram, “Bazar being one of those who had the privilege to be followed by (Guanzon).” (CHITO A. FUENTES)

 


DELAS NIEVES CRIES HARASSMENT
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 15, 2016, 6:12 am

 Why doesn’t he file a case? Aguirre dares

The lead counsel of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has belittled the claims made by one of the petitioners that he has received threats and had been bashed in the social media.

“Why doesn’t he file a case?” was the curt reply of lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre when asked about reports that University of the Philippines Diliman student council president John Paul Delas Nieves had received threats after filing a disqualification case against the popular presidential candidate.

Delas Nieves claimed he and his girlfriend had been bashed on social media but Aguirre is unimpressed and found it odd that one who filed the disqualification case has not thought about pressing charges.

“After all, he has a propensity for filing cases,” Duterte’s lead counsel said obviously referring to the disqualification case he filed.

The timing of Delas Nieves’ revelation about the “threats” and “bashing” suspiciously came amid reports that the disqualification case had been dismissed after he was absent during the scheduled preliminary conference of his petition.

What made it even more suspicious was that he revealed the alleged threats and bashing to the media instead of reporting it to authorities for appropriate action.

Delas Nieves made no mention that he had the supposed incidents were already reflected in police blotters before announcing it to the media.

A day after the scheduled preliminary conference where he did not show up, Delas Nieves appeared at the Commission on Elections office with his lawyer Sheila Bazar.

CNN Philippines, quoting Comelec Clerk of the Commission Abigal Lilagan earlier reported that the case was dismissed after neither Delas Nieves, nor a lawyer to represent him, attended the preliminary conference 10 am Monday.

Lilagan said the Comelec rules that a case for a cancellation of a COC may be dismissed if the petitioner or his counsel fails to attend the preliminary conference.

Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, however, disputed the report saying no such order was released by the poll body.

This was not the first time Delas Nieves figured in a controversy.

Before he filed the disqualification case against Duterte, Delas Nieves came under fire when he was expelled by his own party after refusing to resign from his fraternity which figured in a fraternity-related violence on campus.

In a statement, UP Alyansa said it expelled Delas Nieves when he did not comply with their agreement that he would resign if his fraternity, Upsilon Sigma Phi, would be involved in an act of violence.

“In enforcing the said contract, UP Alyansa seeks to ensure that JP, as an elected student leader, is accountable not just to the formation, but more importantly to the student body that he serves,” the statement said.

It could not be independently confirmed if there has been a precedent in the expulsion involving a student council president like what UP Alyansa meted on Delas Nieves. (CHITO A. FUENTES)


Duterte condemns Jakarta mayhem
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 15, 2016, 6:03 am

CALLS FOR JUSTICE WHILE SEEKING PEACE

Drawing from his own experiences of terrorist attacks, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte condemned the Jan. 14 Jakarta attacks which killed at least seven people in “the strongest terms possible.”

The extremist Islamic State, better known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the violence which included a series of bomb and gun attacks.

In a statement, Duterte added that the citizens of Davao and the Philippines extend their sympathies for the grieving families and victims of the “horrendous” attack.

“We call for justice for the fallen, and the warmth of peace for those left behind,” the statement added.

Duterte knows what the people of Jakarta and Indonesia are going through.

“Having been through the same experiences in the past, we have seen how cities like Davao have risen from such violence, and are one with our Indonesian brethren in seeking justice and building peace,” the popular presidential candidate added.

Duterte routinely mentions the bombing of the San Pedro Cathedral, the Sasa wharf and the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in his speeches to explain his concern for a more secure Philippines.

The city’s main Roman Catholic cathedral was bombed twice, first in 1981 and again in 1993.

Duterte was a prosecutor in the first bombing which killed 17 people and injured 150 on Easter Sunday.

He was on his second term as mayor when seven people perished and 151 were hurt in the second church bombing in a December mass.

A bomb planted in a backpack exploded at the Francisco Bangoy Airport terminal on March 4, 2003, killing at least 21 people and injuring 148.  

Less than a month later, 16 people and at least 59 others were injured when a blast ripped the Sasa wharf on April 2, 2003.

And so while other presidential candidates skirt the terror threats posed by extremists in the south, Duterte brings them up at ever opportunity because he knows how it feels to be a victim. 

In expressing solidarity with Jakarta and Indonesia, Duterte reiterated his call for peace.

“We are united with you as Southeast Asians with a common history and ethnicity, desiring a peaceful region,” he added. 

Duterte added that Davao will work hand in hand with the national government to prevent such attacks from happening in the country.

“Let us continue investing in the capabilities needed to build a peaceful and prosperous common future for our children,” the mayor concluded. 

Duterte has maintained that no one in the national government or his rivals have given an option on what to do in case the Bangsamoro Basic Law fails to muster passage in Congress.

So far, only the mayor has acknowledged the threat from the ISIS extremists whom he revealed have started recruiting in Mindanao. (CHITO A. FUENTES) 


11th January 2016
Trillanes concerned for Ph’s economy?
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 11, 2016, 12:37 am

Is it possible for the Senate’s biggest spender be concerned for the economy of the country?

It would seem that way if the press statement of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is taken at face value.

In news reports, Trillanes was quoted as saying that a win by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte would be “a disaster for the country”.

Trillanes even went as far as saying that Duterte as president would be “worse than (Vice President Jejomar) Binay.”

A known bitter critic of Binay, it was not certain why Trillanes is now singing a different tune.

Trillanes said Duterte’s method may have worked in Davao “but it’s definitely not going to work in the national scale.”

He warned that foreign investors are wary of a Binay presidency but it could be “worse” if Duterte gets to Malacanang.

Trillanes is not in a position to express concern for the economy considering his track record of being among the biggest spender in the Senate.

He was the fifth biggest spender in 2011 behind then Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile, then Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, then Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and then Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano with expenses of P54,977,548.

According to Inter-Aksyon.com, Trillanes incurred huge expenses “partly because of his numerous foreign trips.”

  The report showed Trillanes spent P279,048 for foreign travel. All other senators have no expenses in this category.

It was not the first time Trillanes made the news for his spending.

Even when he was still under detention, a Commission on Audit report published by the Philippine Star showed that Trillanes received P247,404 for his “local travel” while his staff incurred P878,496 and P253,810 for local and foreign travel respectively.

According to GMA news, based on the “itemized list of amounts paid to and expenses incurred for each senator from January 1 to December 31, 2008,” Trillanes was the fourth biggest spender among senators with P17.281 million expenses.

In contrast, the late Sen. Joker Arroyo spent only P12.646 million during the same period.

Trillanes lately found himself in hot water when it was revealed that he paid his brother, Juan Antonio Trillanes, P71,200 monthly for his advice or a total of P427,000 from July to December 2014. 

Over that five-month period, Trillanes hired 54 more consultants and spent a total of P7.5 million for their services, more than the P3.04-M budget allotted for each senator.

Trillanes shot to prominence as a member of the Magdalo group of junior officers who occupied the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati on Nov. 29, 2007.

On Dec. 3, the Manila Pen became fully operational with an estimated damage of $1.2-M. The total damage to the economy as a result of the short-lived mutiny was never fully assessed.

Trillanes’ fears of adverse effects to the economy as a result of Duterte’s strict implementation of the law is unfounded based on the rosy economy of Davao City.

The Davao City Investment and Promotion Center only recently recorded a whooping P314 billion in business capitalization as of November 2015, surpassing the P211-B business capitalization in 2014 or an increase of four percent.

Under Duterte, Davao rose to become the fifth highest economy among cities nationwide, the only one outside Metro Manila to do so.

It is a miraculous turn-around for a city which was the basket case in the violent 1980s.

Contrary to Trillanes’ unfounded statements, business groups have been fully supportive of Duterte’s strong pitch for law and order.

Various business audiences including the Asian CEO Forum have given Duterte a standing ovation especially for his commitment to fight graft and corruption and unbridled government spending.

Is it possible for Trillanes to be concerned for the country’s economy? Next question please (CHITO A. FUENTES)


19th December 2015
Battle lines drawn in Southern Leyte political landscape
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on December 19, 2015, 8:35 pm

By AMSL

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  --  Now it can be told.  The rumours of a swap in certificates of candidacies for incumbent Gov. Roger “Oging” Mercado and Cong. Damian “Mian” Mercado  --  who had filed for the same positions during the regulatory filing period in October  --    came out true.

But they remained in the newly-minted membership of the ruling Liberal Party as the two, backed up by scores of supporters, personally trooped to the provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) office a stone’s throw away from the capitol December 10, the last day allowed by the poll body for changes and substitutions.

First, they withdrew their earlier candidacies and, second, re-file to trade posts in the presence of Atty. Antonio Gulay, Provincial Election Supervisor.

The Governor is now the candidate for the province’s lone seat in Congress, a job he held for more than a decade, while the Representative comes back as the official bet for Governor, a post he had served for six years, from 2007 until 2013.

Still, there was an unanswered question:  who will be Cong. Mian’s running mate?

The answer showed up in the person of Christopherson “Coco” Yap, a first-termer Councilor of Sogod town.

In the regulation filing period, when Gov. Oging signed in as re-electionist, his Vice-Governor was incumbent Vice-Governor and co-LP partymate Sheffered Tan, also a native of the progressive municipality of Sogod.

A week later, however, Tan expressed reservations on the emerging partnership.  He did not wait for the deadline to withdraw;  he changed party affiliation and re-file, this time as the standard-bearer of the rival political party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for the position of Governor.

UNA,s candidate for Governor, incumbent Provincial Board Member Albert Escalmado, slid to the position of Vice-Governor, while the candidate for Vice-Governor, Jojie Olandria, withdrew and did not re-file for any position.

The candidate for Representative under UNA still remained in the person of Rico Rentuza, former Mayor of Saint Bernard.   (ans)


DPWH Southern Leyte to complete construction of new provincial hospital
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on December 19, 2015, 8:27 pm

MAASIN CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will complete the construction of Southern Leyte provincial hospital through a P50 million budget from the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health.

Specifically, the budget will be used to build a dialysis center, power house, morge, and covered walk. The dialysis center will be the first of its kind in the province, operating through public-private partnership scheme.

“For next year, we will build more facilities to help maximize the operation of the new hospital. These health facilities will allow more people here with health needs being served in an appropriate and timely manner,” said District Engineer Ma. Margarita C. Junia during the project inspection on December 10.

The hospital can accommodate 200 patients, but its current manpower reduces its bed capacity to only 100 patients.

The provincial government through Governor Roger Mercado relocated the hospital to Barangay Dongon from its old location in Barangay Mantahan in December 2014.

The Level 4 hospital primarily funded through a P226 million loan from the Development Bank of
the Philippines is equipped with CT-scan, a toxic waste disposal facility, and ample space for parking.

The local government decided to transfer the provincial hospital considering that the old facility was overcrowded, close to residential areas, and has very limited parking space. The facility has been attending health needs of patients in the entire Southern Leyte province, and towns of Matalom, Bato, Hilongos in Leyte. (PR)

 


27th November 2015
Corruption has got to stop - Duterte
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on November 27, 2015, 5:53 am

‘UNDER HIS PRESIDENCY’

ALABEL, Sarangani - A few hours after his lawyer filed his certificate of candidacy for president in Intramuros, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte dropped hints on what to expect if he wins the election.

“Ug akoy ma-presidente, corruption has to stop,” Duterte remarked in near the end of his 41-minute talk.

The mayor was optimistic about his chances, noting that he has experience in fighting corruption.

“Once upon a time, I was one of only Tanodbayans investigators in Mindanao,” he disclosed.

This little-known detail of Duterte’s service record happened before the establishment of the Ombudsman.   

“Criminality has to go,” the mayor emphatically declared, drawing applause from the audience packed inside the 2,500-capacity gym.

Duterte earned a reputation for cleaning up Davao which was a virtual killing fields prior to his assumption.

The mayor, who has come under fire from human rights advocates, made it clear he won’t change his ways. “Di man ko mahadlok ug human rights,” he added.

Duterte said it is time to instill fear in the law.

Among the current crop of presidential candidates, it is only Duterte who has repeatedly warned of the upsurge of criminality.

“We have lost a generation sa drugs,” he pointed out.

Duterte recalled instances when he dealt harshly with criminals and drug lords.

“Hardliner ko, cruel ko sa criminal,” he warned. 

The mayor has consistently warned shady personalities that if they do drugs in Davao, he would kill them.

“I don’t know what would be my policy will be, pero pareho siguro

i will use the military and the police,” he hinted.

Duterte walked into a highly-partisan crowd which erupted into wild applause and deafening shouts at the venue to speak on the occasion of Sarangani’s foundation day.

The noise rose decibels higher when Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced that Duterte was the newest presidential candidate in next year’s election.

Marcos spoke ahead of Duterte and was already entertaining questions when the mayor arrived. Duterte caught up with the symposium aboard a chopper after presiding over a press conference in Davao.

Earlier that morning, he withdrew his candidacy for mayor, paving the way for the filing of his certificate of candidacy for president in Intramuros by lawyer Salvador Mediadia.

Duterte’s daugher, lawyer Sara Duterte-Carpio, in turn filed her certificate of candidacy to replace him.

The swift execution stunned even his close friends and political lieutenants.

After the initial surprise, however, the formality of his presidential bid triggered frenzied rejoicing among his followers particularly on social media.  

“I can promise you a law-abiding, God-fearing, comfortable community,” he responded to question on what his legacy will be.

With what Duterte brings to the table, there are enough reasons to celebrate. (CHITO A. FUENTES)

 


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