Tag Archives: Renato Corona

[Press Release] Workers voice stand against pork barrel, patronage politics in Ayala rally -PM

Workers voice stand against pork barrel, patronage politics in Ayala rally

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said that the Million People March Part 2 in Ayala today will be an opportunity for workers to “register their voice against the pork barrel and patronage politics.” “Both the venue and protest date are significant to workers. The Ayala district is home to at least one million blue and white collar job workers. Beginning today workers in NCR are due to receive a P10 crumb from the new Wage Order,” stated PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

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Insisting that “Through the system of withholding taxes on our salaries and wages, and VAT on the goods and services we buy, workers do not only pay the right amount of taxes on time, we also disproportionately provide a greater share of our income to the national treasury,” the group expected Makati employees and workers to participate actively in the protest.

Magtubo said workers are enraged at how billions of pesos of taxes that were paid out of workers’ productivity are appropriated by corrupt politicians among themselves. “The new economic formula called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), since illegal, is nothing but contraband smuggled into the pockets of lawmakers for a special job well done,” said Magtubo, referring to the additional allocation to lawmakers on top of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) after the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The labor leader and former party-list representative added that DAP, as explained by Malacanang, is a stimulant for ‘miscarriage’ and not for ‘growth’ since its implementation is worse than the PDAF. “The best thing it was able to achieve was boost the spending spree or personal savings of politicians not the purchasing power of ordinary workers,” Magtubo concluded.

PM is advocating the rechanneling of funds freed by the abolition of pork barrel to universal social protection such as universal healthcare, mass housing, public education, public employment, climate programs, and other services. Magtubo appealed to anti-pork protesters “Not to stop at abolition and push for an alternative fund distribution system in which social services will be as accessible as a right and not subject to the patronage of politicians. The anti-pork protest should develop into a movement for universal social protection and also converge with the anti-epal, anti-trapo and anti-dynasty advocacies of the last elections. Such is a roadmap towards lasting political change in our country.”

Upon its issuance last month, PM described the P10 wage order an insult and a classic case of bigay-bawi since its value eventually eroded by the impending MRT rate hike, increase in price of rice, and the looming power and water rates increases. Amidst the backdrop of protruding corruption scandals in the highest levels of government, Magtubo said, “the workers’ need to deliver its strongest condemnation of this system: Enough of this kind of rule!”

PRESS RELEASE
Partido ng Manggagawa
4 October 2013
Contact: Renato Magtubo @ 09178532905

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[Statement] Labor group urges Napoles to bare all in open court -PM

Labor group urges Napoles to bare all in open court

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Perhaps everyone at this point in time, including politicians in Malacanang, want a share of a limelight from Janet Lim Napoles. So whether she is a real VIP or someone who finds Malacanang as the safest place to surrender had become the subject of wild speculations.

We heard the explanations of Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on the circumstances behind the graceful end of the August hunt for Napoles. We would leave the Palace do the explaining on this matter.

What is important now is we finally have Napoles. But the people are really not after her body, despite her VIP treatment last night. What we are more interested is how she is going to tell her story about the whole pork barrel racket. Will she bare all? Or will she be just another Jocjoc Bolante, Garci or Lentang Bedol in the making?

Our challenge is for her to bare all and for Malacanang to ensure that she is not coached or censored under custody. People were already suspicious about her VIP surrender. Malacanang cannot afford another blunder if Napoles comes out in tight lips.

One way to erase this suspicion is to hold the Napoles trial in an open court, similar to how the impeachment trial of Renato Corona was conducted.

PRESS STATEMENT
Partido ng Manggagawa
29 August 2013
Contact Renato Magtubo @ 09178532905

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[Statement] Strong rights, no remedy -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the Human Rights Day 2012

PHILIPPINES: Strong rights, no remedy

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has released its 15-page report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines this year. The report, titled “Strong rights, no remedy,” gave detailed analysis on the absence, if not lack of adequate remedy and redress to any forms of violation of rights in the country’s system of justice. The report is written in seven sections and each section gives analyses of the important events which took place this year, and by examining old cases and new cases it has documented, it evaluates what impact it has had on protection of rights.

The discourse on protection of rights, or the lack of it, in the Philippines has been very challenging in recent past. There is a strong perception–domestically and internationally–of the governments political will to protect rights. But whether their public statements and policy of protection of rights are translated into reality to the daily lives of the people who suffer have been questionable. There are rights, like freedom from torture, with no legal remedy in the past, now they have; perpetrators of gross human rights violations, like former president Gloria Arroyo and the military generals during her term, who could not be prosecuted in the past, are now being prosecuted.

The government has been engaged in legislating and ratifying domestic and international human rights treaties respectively, but in practice none of those accused of torture have been punished. Events and developments like this have resulted to renewed confidence on the government. By examining empirical cases, it is clear that there is a fundamental breakdown in the country’s system of protection as described below.

Convicted chief justice & the court judges
This section examines the impact of the conviction of Renato Corona, former chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC) in an impeachment trial for his non-disclosure of his assets, on the discourse of judicial accountability and corruption amongst the judges in the lower courts all over the country. Corona’s conviction has restored the confidence of the public on the executive and legislative for exercising their role as co-equal branches in safeguarding corrupt practices and abuses.

But Corona could be impeached and punished; however, in practice judges in lower courts subordinate to him breached due process rules and fundamental principles of fair trial as they exercise of their duty daily. Judges ignoring orders by the SC, admitting evidence taken by way of forced confession and torture, conniving with prosecutors in fabricating charges against human rights and political activists, delaying trial of cases, and others subverting due process is very common. They were never punished.

Old and new cases: no arrest, remedy
This section explains why the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of Persons, which President Benigno Aquino III, is doomed to fail. This body, with a fresh mandate to investigate old and new cases, only repeats the ritual of creating task forces and special investigation bodies.

The inability and failure of similar special task forces before, notably the Task Force 211 in November 2007, to ensure that its prosecution based on the special investigation they earlier had conducted would result to conviction, identification of the accused and conclusion of cases, questions the competence and credibility to this new ‘super body’. Also, the inability of the authorities to arrest former General Jovito Palparan and his accomplices for the enforced disappearance of activists despite the increases reward money for his arrest clearly illustrates that even if court issues arrest orders, perpetrators would not arrested.

If Palparan and other powerful and influential politicians, who had been identified as masterminding targeted attacks of human rights and political activists in high profile case could not be arrested despite being known in the country, it means the possibility of prosecuting perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and disappearances where the perpetrators are not identified–like the death squad in Davao City–is non-existent. Thus, the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to hold local officials accountable in Davao City would be meaningless.

Cycle of rights violations: massacre, killings, torture & disappearance
As expected, massacres and other forms of horrible violations happened this year, too. But these cases are no different to earlier documented cases that remain unresolved. If the perpetrators in the Maguindanao massacre in November 2009, after three years of trial, are still unpunished and other perpetrators remain at large, it would not be surprising that the massacre that documented this year, notably that of Capion family in October 18 in Tampakan, South Cotabato, would not be resolved, too.

One of the complainants in the case of the Maguindanao massacre, Myrna Reblando, widow of journalist Alejandro ‘Bong’ Reblando, had to leave the country for lack of adequate protection. Not only her that is being targeted, there have been potential witnesses who had been killed before they could testify, families of the victims offered bribe, if not being continuously being the object of threats and harassment with the deliberate intent for them to withdraw their complaint. They have no protection.

No remedy, redress: they be Filipinos or not
In the past, there are probabilities of prompt and effective intervention when foreign governments and their people take action from abroad on human rights issues. In this section it explains that even in cases of foreign nationals, Wilhelm Geertman and Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio who were murdered on July 3, 2012 and October 17, 2011 in the country respectively, perpetrators are either unpunished or unidentified.

Wilhelm and Fr. Fausto had lived and worked for decades with the poor and vulnerable communities. If cases of these persons, who has representation from their foreign governments and pressures from their own people back home had not resulted to adequate remedy, will cases of Filipinos in their own country have? This section demonstrates numerous cases without remedies regardless of the identity and personal background of the victims. No remedy be they Filipino or not.

Prospects in the emerging justice system: Bangsamoro political entity
The signing of agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government on “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” offers prospects of peace and building of democratic institutions that would address the aspirations of the struggle of the Muslims in the south. The real challenge is how to build institutions of justice that would address the grievance of the Muslims who are often the usual suspects in terrorist activities after decades of subjugation.

This section draws the old experience on how cases of torture, arbitrary detention and fabrication of charges, had been committed with the operation of justice system—the police, prosecutors and judiciary. These lessons should be learned. Thus, it is important that fair trial and due process is to be fundamental values in this emerging justice institution in the proposed political entity if this agreement for political settlement on the Mindanao question is to survive.

Rights in the Philippines: on paper, not in practice
This section explains that by its legislation of domestic law and ratifying international human rights treaties, the government succeeded in making it appear on paper that not only it has ‘political will’ it is also a ‘champion of human rights.’ The perception it has created and ‘diplomatic victory’ is has obtained in doing so, has changed the landscaped of human rights discourse into becoming even more difficult. The government’s records is being reviewed, not how in reality it afforded or not afforded remedy to violations of rights, but how many domestic laws, human rights treaties it has signed; and public statements of its government officials reaffirming protection of rights.

In conclusion, it is clear that without changes as to how the institutions of justice – police, prosecution and the judiciary – operate to ensure adequate protection of rights, there is no possibility that rights on paper would have remedy. If the very fabric of the system of protection of rights is flawed, no rights would have the possibility of obtaining any remedies.

This report is available at
http://www.humanrights.asia/resources/hrreport/2012/ahrc-spr-009-2012.pdf/view

Read this statement online

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-262-2012
December 11, 2012

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[In the news] D.O.H. wins breastmilk Case vs Multinationals -businessmirror.com.ph

EXCLUSIVE: D.O.H. wins breastmilk Case vs Multinationals
by JOEL R. SAN JUAN, businessmirror.com.ph
June 12, 2012

THE Department of Justice has upheld the legality of a government memorandum prohibiting multinational firms that manufacture infant milk and other nutrition products in the country from using registered trademarks that may erode the efforts of the government to promote breast-feeding.

The justice department said the September 5, 2011, memorandum of the Department of Health (DOH) was aimed at “protecting public welfare.”

In a seven-page legal opinion on May 11, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the health department was the primary government agency given the authority to issue orders and regulations concerning the implementation of the government’s health policies.

De Lima also noted that Section 12 (b) of Executive Order 51, otherwise known as the Milk Code, gave the DOH the power to promulgate rules necessary for the proper implementation of the code.

Read full article @ businessmirror.com.ph

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[From the web] Hunger for justice -hrdefenders.wordpress.com

Hunger for justice

by hrdefenders
June 6, 2012

Would justice be judiciously served now that Renato Corona is out of the judiciary?

Not so for Ramon Patriarca who must still face trumped up charges of rebellion whil locked up in the stockade of the AFP-Central Command. He, like the 167 political prisoners across the country, must continue to endure cruel punishment and degrading treatment as the proverbial wheels of justice turn grindingly slow. He and the rest of political prisoners in the country must endure continued deprivation of their basic rights for having been tagged as “enemies of the state.”

Would the new supreme court magistrate look kindly at their plight and institute restitution on the wrong done them?

Read full article @ hrdefenders.wordpress.com

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[From the web] Are SC decisions linked to CJ transactions? -RAPPLER.com

Are SC decisions linked to CJ transactions?.

BY CARMELA FONBUENA, RAPPLER.com
May 26, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – It’s the next logical question. His money or not, what is the source of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s multi-million peso and dollar deposits?

In his testimony in the Senate, Corona admitted he has US$2.4-M in dollar accounts and P80-M in peso deposits. These were undeclared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth supposedly because 1) the peso deposits are commingled funds and 2) the dollar deposits are protected by the confidentiality of foreign deposits.

Corona maintained that his multi-million dollar deposits came from legitimate sources. He supposedly starting investing in dollars in the late 1960s, when he was still a college student. The investment earned interest over a span of 35 years. Banking experts however pointed out it was illegal to engage in dollar trading in the 60s.

Corona denied the computation presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales showing that he has at least US$12-M in fresh deposits. She cited records of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which she said, were certified.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

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[Press Release] Disclose All or Resign All! Genuine Cleansing of the Bureaucracy not a Telenovela of Elite Infighting

Disclose All or Resign All! Genuine Cleansing of the Bureaucracy not a Telenovela of Elite Infighting

We have said it before and we will say it again. Give the Filipino people a chance for real reforms and meaningful cleansing of the rotting bureaucracy.

The impeachment of Corona is not enough. The process is a spectator sport for the Filipino masses who are neither senator judges nor members of the prosecution and defense panels. More so, it is atelenovela of elite infighting being used by the Aquino regime to consolidate its control of the state and to advance its economic interests.

In impeachment proceedings, the masses are being induced to take sides between two oppressors. They are made to choose the lesser evil among rival camps of the ruling elite, which is nothing more than a choice between hell and purgatory. By so doing, it fosters the illusion of democracy, of people’s participation in the affairs of the State.

But while the impeachment process is patently limited in its scope and objective and is being utilized by factions of the elite to pursue their self-serving economic and political agendas, it would inevitably open more meaningful questions. Its narrowness and limitation would provide exact arguments for the necessity of genuine and widespread reforms, and for other means of political activity that ensure public participation in the cleansing of the bureaucracy.

Hence, upon the opening of impeachment proceedings against Corona, we issued the “Disclose All” slogan, the demand for the full disclosure of all financial records and transactions by all government officials.

The beleaguered chief justice – who is more an astute politician than an honorable judge – knows this Achilles heel of the impeachment process. Hence, Corona is now piercing the veil of Noynoy’s anti-corruption pretense in order to save his skin as he challenges Senator Drilon and the 188 signatories of the impeachment case to “disclose all”. Truly, crooks know when to speak the truth to hide a lie.

We are neither “pro-Corona” nor “pro-Noynoy”. Both politicians are personifications of the social evil of a corrupt bureaucracy under an elite democracy. If government officials want to dispel public mistrust, they should let the sun shine into dark places. The broad masses of the people, not just the workers and the poor demand the public scrutiny of their private wealth.

If they could not “disclose all”, then they should all resign. And if the demand for “full disclosure” is continuously not met, the cry for “Resign All” would transform from an appeal for delicadeza into a call of action for their ouster. #

PRESS STATEMENT
Mayo 23, 2012
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Sanlakas

Disclose All or Resign All!
Genuine Cleansing of the Bureaucracy not a Telenovela of Elite Infighting

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[In the news] Don’t strip Corona of his rights: defense | ABS-CBN News

Don’t strip Corona of his rights: defense | ABS-CBN News.

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com
May 22,2012

MANILA, Philippines – One of the lawyers of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on Tuesday said his client must not be stopped from invoking his rights as he takes the witness stand in his own impeachment trial today.

Defense spokesperson Atty. Tranquil Salvador III said he is not yet sure how the chief justice will respond to the questions that will be thrown at him, but insisted no one has the right to strip him of his rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.

The prosecution panel has been daring Corona not to resort to technicalities, such as invoking his right against self-incrimination, in responding to allegations that he owns at least $10 million in “transactional balances” in 82 accounts.

The report of the alleged dollar accounts came from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and was revealed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the impeachment court last week.

“Sa tingin ko po baka pwedeng hindi, pwedeng oo [na i-invoke niya ang kanyang karapatan]. Pero ito ang masasabi ko lang: si chief justice naman po, nagpakababa na pupunta sa impeachment court. He was humble enough to accept the challenge. Ang pakiusap na lang sana, kung ano pang merong ibinigay na karapatan sa kanya ang Saligang Batas, huwag na pong kunin pa,” Salvador told radio dzMM.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

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[In the news] Reproductive Health bill, changes to anti-money laundering law top Senate agenda | Sun.Star

Reproductive Health bill, changes to anti-money laundering law top Senate agenda | Sun.Star.

May 6, 2012

MANILA — Discussions on the controversial Reproductive Health bill will commence in the Senate anytime this week, months after it was stalled in the plenary to give way for pressing matters such as the national budget and impeachment trial.

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, a critic of the bill, assured that deliberations on Senate Bill 2865 will go on despite the chamber’s divided attention due to the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, which resumes on Monday.

Since the impeachment trial began last January 16, the Senate likewise had to rearrange its schedule such that legislative sessions are conducted twice a week.

As a result, plenary sessions are done every Tuesday and Wednesday even as Enrile promised to pass “urgent and priority bills” before President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July.

Supporters of the RH bill earlier saw no reason why it will not be enacted this year on the back of “huge” public support and the President’s bias for the measure.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

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[In the news] UP student council head asks Miriam to leave students alone; polls on Corona to go on -InterAksyon.com

UP student council head asks Miriam to leave students alone; polls on Corona to go on
InterAksyon.com
March 29, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – With her colorful language and witty pick-up lines, Sen. Miriam Santiago is usually a favorite of the UP crowd, but her idea of stopping surveys on the trust ratings of impeached Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has caused the state university’s student council head to draw the line, with a plea: “Please leave the students alone.”

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) declared on Thursday it will push through with conducting more surveys on Corona’s trust rating in different colleges and universities in the country.

Santiago had more than once denounced the conduct of such surveys, at the floor of the Senate, which has been convened as an impeachment court since January 16. The court went on a six-week break until May 7. Meantime, the results of surveys by professional pollsters have been published in recent days.

The UP’s SCAP released last March 26, 2012 a survey on Corona’s trust rating among students from five different colleges and universities. The survey, patterned after a similar survey conducted in the University of the Philippines (UP)Diliman by the UP Paralegal Society, revealed a strong distrust of Corona among students.

SCAP Secretary General Gibby Gorres said the success of the surveys was met with positive reaction from student councils and governments from different colleges and universities in the country.

“Instead of being deterred by fears that the surveys might be used for partisan purposes, many students in fact requested for such surveys to be conducted in their own schools. Many of them wanted their voices and opinions on the impeachment to be heard. The survey is one way to give the point of view of people whose interests are at stake in this process but who otherwise would not be heard,” Gorres explained.

According to Gorres, the survey was one way for the students to express their opinion and assessment of the current impeachment trial of Corona.

“We believe that the survey has helped in bringing the impeachment trial closer to the students. It has become an invaluable tool in ensuring that the impeachment trial is indeed a political exercise in the sense that the public is also an interested party to the trial. Instead of being passive actors, the students become involved in this important proceeding by learning from it and forming their own opinion about it,” according to Gorres.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Press Release] Reopening of FASAP case is a travesty of justice -PALEA

Reopening of FASAP case is a travesty of justice

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) called the decision of the Supreme Court to affirm the reopening of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association (FASAP) case as a “travesty of justice.” “Only in the Philippines can a case that had already been ruled with finality twice by the highest court of the land still be reviewed once more on its merits. Indeed justice delayed is justice denied for 1,400 our sister and brother flight attendants,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president.

He added that “FASAP’s case is relevant is PALEA’s fight since if the retrenchment of cabin crew in 1998 at a time when Philippine Airlines was bankrupt is illegal then so much more is the layoff of 2,400 ground staff after the flag carrier posted PhP 3 billion in profit for its previous fiscal year.”

Meanwhile Renato Magtubo, chairperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa, declared that “The timing of the release of the Supreme Court resolution clearing Chief Justice Renato Corona is perfectly timed for the defense presentation in the impeachment case. It leaves everyone thinking that it is part of the impeachment defense of Corona.”

Magtubo said that the plight of FASAP and PALEA reveals the failure of the labor justice system in the country. “It is not just with the Supreme Court but even more with the graft ridden National Labor Relations Commission, National Mediation and Conciliation Board and Department of Labor and Employment that workers lose to the power of money of abusive capitalists,” he added.

Workers demand reforms beyond the prosecution of Gloria and the impeachment of Corona. For workers at least get a taste of fair share of justice, the NLRC, NCMB and DOLE must be cleansed, and the policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization that have led to thousands of closures and layoffs, and collapse of industry and agriculture must be rolled back,” Magtubo explained.

PM announced that the May Day campaign will start early with a “Kalbaryo ng Manggagawa at Maralita” on the first week of April that will highlight the issues of low wages, high prices, mass unemployment, contractual jobs and urban poor demolitions. ###

Press Release
March 22, 2012
PALEA
Contact Gerry Rivera @ 09157755073

 

[Statement] Collective Statement for Integrity, Truth and Public Trust

Collective Statement for Integrity, Truth and Public Trust

A Joint Statement Delivered by Various Concerned Groups
at the Misa Para sa Katotohanan
Co-Organized by Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
March 11, 2012  11:00AM
San Jose Seminary, Ateneo de Manila University

* * *

INTEGRITY, TRUTH AND PUBLIC TRUST

A day before the resumption of the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, we gather as Filipinos to individually and collectively reflect on the fundamental issues brought before the Honorable Senator Justices of the impeachment court and the public.  As religious leaders, professionals, students, business, civil society organizations, social movements and concerned citizens, we have given our collective backing to the impeachment process, recognizing impeachment as a legitimate means to exact accountability from, ensure transparency of our leaders in a democracy, and to provide Chief Justice Corona the opportunity to explain himself in the proper forum.

We thank the Senator Justices of the impeachment court for recognizing that they must conduct the trial akin to a legal process, while remaining sensitive to the real political dynamics that the trial entails. We laud decisions made in favor of surfacing the truth and seeking accountability.  We have listened over the past weeks, endeavoring to go beyond the legal technicalities, in our effort to understand the fundamental issues brought before the impeachment court and the public, and we will continue to accompany this important juncture in the trial, to its conclusion, holding the sacred and universal truth that sovereignty resides in the people and that all government authority emanates from the people.

We come here today, united in our call to religious leaders, the Honorable Senator Judges, the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, and to our colleagues, families and friends to vigilantly maintain our collective focus on the following fundamental issues:

CHARACTER AND MORAL INTEGRITY

The articles of impeachment are very serious. They go straight to the heart of the matter—the moral fitness of Chief Justice Corona to serve as the highest judicial official of the country. We must ask if Chief Justice Corona has shown his conduct to be beyond reproach, as is expected of every Judge especially the Chief Justice of the land. We must reflect on whether the character and integrity of Chief Justice Corona represents our highest standards of integrity and moral uprightness as a nation.  We must ask ourselves how we can return  and reaffirm our collective faith in the dignity and integrity of the Judiciary, by the decision we will make as a people, represented by our Senators, in this crucial juncture of our history.

TRUTH AND ACCOUNTABILITY
 
We believe it is only by truth-telling that the Chief Justice can prove that he is acting with public responsibility.  Reforming the judiciary can only begin when the cloak of secrecy and deep suspicion that surrounds the institution is removed.    More than ever, Chief Justice Corona must reveal the truth. Legal technicalities that of late have become the hallmark of the Corona defense panel must give way to the search for truth and justice. We ask no less.

We need to find the truth and seek accountability for the non-disclosure of properties in Chief Justice Corona’s SALN and ask the Supreme Court to allow the opening of his foreign currency deposits.  As Chief Justice Corona lays his defense, we must carefully and vigilantly search for the truth and determine if he has acted with public responsibility – and seek accountability for any untruth unworthy of the position and responsibility we have given him as Chief Justice.

PUBLIC TRUST AND EMPOWERMENT

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a public office and a public trust.  Chief Justice Corona was impeached by duly elected representatives of the people.  We must discern in the coming weeks, as individuals and as a nation if, as Chief Justice, Corona has valued and empowered this public trust or if he has used it to disempower the very  institution and public he serves. We must seriously reflect and decide if Chief Justice Renato Corona still enjoys the trust and confidence of the public to decide with finality on cases that affect laws, property and lives of Filipinos and our nation.

WE CALL on everyone to listen to various voices and opinions, reflect on these three fundamental issues and share their stands regarding the impeachment in the coming days and weeks.

WE CALL on all religious leaders (Pastors, Imams, Religious Sisters and Brothers, Clergy and the Bishops) and people of moral authority (elders of communities, teachers and parents) to engage the members of your communities and families into respectful discourse on the issues at hand. Allow and encourage them to speak their mind, to ask questions, to share their sentiments, while also being respectful and listening to the views of others. In doing so, remind them of what is important for you and what is important for us as a people. Remind them of the meaning of justice, truth, respect, freedom, human dignity and integrity.

WE CALL on our Honorable Senator Justices to continue to conduct the impeachment trial in a fair and just manner, to seek the truth and address these fundamental issues, to do so in a manner that empowers Filipinos to understand and participate in this process and to bring the trial to its conclusion with the welfare of the Filipino people in mind.

WE CALL on our Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court to take on a more cooperative stance in engaging the impeachment trial court. We recognize and respect that the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. We believe that being equal does not preclude, but should inspire a spirit of cooperation. This spirit of cooperation was promised by no less than the Chief Justice at the beginning of the impeachment process. We respectfully plead that the Supreme Court re-assess its stance on the matter of the confidentiality of the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice and on the restriction for any and all court personnel to participate in the trial as witnesses.

FINALLY, WE CALL on Chief Justice Renato Corona to take voluntary leave of office from his functions as the Chief Justice, until such time that the trial is completed and a decision is rendered by the impeachment court. We believe that his continued presence in, and influence upon the court which makes various decisions in relation to his own trial, will result in a process that cannot be deemed as fair nor credible.

WE PRAY that through our collective efforts, animated by our faith and trust in God, we can continue to build a nation empowered by truth, guided by integrity and served by a transparent and accountable government.

Signatories (as of March 11, 2012):

1.    SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN (SLB)
2.    Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute
3.    Sr. Josephine Bacaltos, RGS, Executive Director, Women Network Group (WOMYNET)
4.    Norman V. Cabrera, Secretary-General, Ang Kapatiran Party
5.    Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., President, Ateneo de Davao University
6.    Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J., President, Ateneo de Zamboanga University
7.    Atty. Adoracion Cruz Avisado, Chairperson, Transformative Justice Institute
8.    Muslim Alliance for National Advancement (MANA)
9.    Lawyers League for Liberty (LIBERTAS)
10. Atty. Arnold C. Abejaron, President, Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) – Davao City
11. Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO)
12. Akbayan Party
13. Akbayan Youth
14. Aksyon Kabataan
15. Alliance of Progressive Labor
16. BAMPER
17. Bicol University Student Council
18. Filipino Liberal Youth
19. KAAKBAY
20. Kabataang Liberal
21. Mamamayang Liberal
22. Palawan Youth Volunteers for Reform
23. People Power Volunteers for Reform Chapters:
Cebu PPVR
Marikina People Power Volunteers
Pagbabago People Power Volunteers Cavite
PNoyPinay Manila
PPVR Angeles City
PPVR Bataan
PPVR Bicol
PPVR Laguna
PPVR Pasig
PPVR Rizal
PPVR San Juan
PPVR Bataan
PPVR Davao
PPVR Navotas
PPVR Negros Occidental
PPVR Negros Oriental
PPVR Zambales
PPVR Palawan
PPVR Caraga
PPVR Region XI
PPVR Region XII
People Power Volunteer Center Zamboanga
Pinoy Power Bicol Coalition, Inc.
SKAN-CPM-PPVR
Zamboanga del Norte Volunteers for Change

24. Philippine Normal University Student Government (PNU-SG)
25. Pinoy Power sa Pagbabago
26. PNoyPinay
27. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – College of Communications Student Council (PUP COC-SC)
28. REPORMAR
29. Senior Citizens Movement for Social Transformation – Quezon City
30. Simulan Natin Gumawa (SINAG)
31. SOLIDAR
32. Sparks for Change
33. Tarlac State University Central Student Council
34. University of the Philippines College of Social Science and Philosophy Student Council (UP CSSPSC)
35.Young Public Servants (YPS)

[From the web] Can informal settlers co-exist with the rich in the big city? -RAPPLER.com

Can informal settlers co-exist with the rich in the big city?.

Can informal settlers co-exist with the rich in the big city?
by Lila R. Shahani, RAPPLER.com
March 12, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – A different wind blowing in the post-Marcos years had already begun to bring radical change in government policy on housing for the urban poor.

In March of 1992, President Corazon Aquino signed RA 7279 (aka the Urban Development and Housing Act or Udha) – “to provide the underprivileged with decent housing at affordable cost, basic services and employment opportunities.”

In 1994, then President Fidel V Ramos signed the Comprehensive Shelter Finance Act (Cisfa), giving Udha muscle. (Ramos is this writer’s uncle.)

But Udha had not been fully implemented. Coordination between local government units, as well as national housing agencies, was not always done consistently.

At the time, national implementing agencies led by the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) became unpopular among urban poor groups and the NGOs supporting them.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

[Press Release] PALEA calls on senators to hear PAL testimony

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) called on the senators sitting as judges in the impeachement trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona to reconsider and hear the testimony of Philippine Airlines (PAL) management. PALEA also defended its lawyer, Atty. Marlon Manuel, for appearing as a private prosecutor in the trial. “We call on any of the senators who does not have a platinum card in his or her wallet to stand up for truth and move that PAL testify regarding the privileges given to CJ Corona and his wife,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

Meanwhile more than a hundred PALEA members trooped this morning to the Department of Agrarian Reform national office in Quezon City to support scores of peasant leaders who are calling for the resolution of land reform cases, including the distribution of Hacienda Luisita. “It is the alliance of the 99%, the workers and the farmers, which will usher in change in our society that has been made rotten by the corruption and greed of the 1%,” explained Rivera.

He also insisted that the testimony of PAL VP for Sales, Enrique Javier, is relevant in Article 3 of the impeachment complaint since “The platinum card is directly related to the Pilato-num decision of the Supreme Court on the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association (FASAP) case.” Two weeks ago, PALEA had already challenged PAL to appear at the impeachment trial after FASAP president Roberto Anduiza accused CJ Corona of influencing the Supreme Court.

In reply to the House minority’s criticism of Atty. Manuel’s appearance as a private prosecutor, Rivera clarified that PALEA has no “axe to grind” and “vested interest” in ousting CJ Corona since their case against PAL’s outsourcing plan is pending at the Court of Appeals not the Supreme Court. “Rep. Danilo Suarez should get his facts right before he speaks. He might be accused of being one of the government officials given platinum cards, as defense lawyers have declared. Within PAL, it is said that only those who are FOB’s or friends of the boss receive a platinum card as a gift,” Rivera argued.

PALEA has previously staged rallies at the impeachment trial and called for “Reforms beyond Gloria and Corona.” Rivera averrred that “Corona and PNoy may be fighting over the fate of Gloria Arroyo and Hacienda Luisita but both are beholden to Lucio Tan. With a mere letter from PAL’s lawyer Estelito Mendoza, Corona’s Supreme Court recalled the ruling in favor of the 1,800 flight attendants of FASAP. But also on the mere say-so from PAL that it is losing money even when the facts deny it, Aquino’s government betrayed the 2,600 ground crew of PALEA.”

He added that “The people want to believe that the prosecution of Gloria and her minions like Corona is the start of fundamental reforms. But without any signs of real changes then such is mere wishful thinking.”

Press Release
February 23, 2012
PALEA
Contact Alnem Pretencio @ 09209543634

[Statement] A statement on the Corona impeachment proceedings by Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.

A STATEMENT ON THE CORONA IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS
by Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.

Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro and Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG) Head Convenor
February 21, 2012


In Mark 4:22, Jesus said, “Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open; and whatever is covered up will be uncovered.”

This year, the Church celebrates the Year of Faith with the motto: Living truth in charity. I am praying with the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for truth to be held supreme… “Since God is love, truth is expressed in charity, and charity in turn reveals the truth.”

Likewise, the Holy Father reaffirmed the need for a profound conviction of the truth of God’s revelation in His Son Jesus Christ, because “if there is no truth, we have no compass and do not know where to go.” Life can be rich and beautiful only if there is truth. This conviction for truth makes it possible for the Church to re-evangelize humankind today.

Thus, I am praying that the Philippine Senate as an impeachment court against Chief Justice Renato Corona will unravel the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

I am praying that the impeachment court exhaust all available means to ferret out the whole truth.

Furthermore, I am praying that the court remain vigilant and prevent any attempt to suppress, hide or dilute the whole truth.

I am praying that the senator-judges, as elected servants, look at the truth from the point of view of the sovereign people of the Philippines, their Boss. Therefore, I am praying that they become aware of any personal, political or other vested interests that might becloud their lenses as jurists.

I am praying that the final verdict would always be for the Common Good, never for the benefit of just a few.

I am praying that the final verdict is reached as early as possible. Therefore, if there is enough evidence to warrant a fair, just and loving decision, I pray that this final verdict be pronounced the soonest possible.

I am praying that after giving a swift, objective, and pro-people decision on the impeachment proceedings, the senator-judges and the members of the House of Representatives, as an act of charity, return immediately to their respective legislative houses so that the many bills that are for the Common Good are passed after sufficient study, and with reasonable speed.

May the Holy Spirit of Wisdom, Justice and Love guide us. May Mary, our mother and all the saints support us.

In the Holy Spirit,

BISHOP GERARDO ALMINAZA, D.D. (SIGNED)
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/ Head Convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG)
Tel. No. (033) 3291625

[People] The case for confiscating Corona’s undeclared wealth By Walden Bello

Afterthoughts
The case for confiscating Corona’s undeclared wealth
By Walden Bello
Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 20th, 2012

A comment I made to the Inquirer (Feb 17, 2012) urging the administration to initiate moves to confiscate Chief Justice Renato Corona’s undeclared wealth prompted a number of comments, one of which was from a reader who asked if that would not be prejudging the result of the impeachment process and thus subverting it.

The Facts

But before I answer, a few facts are in order. And when it comes to the case of the Filipino people versus Corona, contra factum non esse disputandum, as the Romans put it: one cannot argue against the facts. It is clear by now that Corona deliberately concealed the magnitude of his wealth from the citizenry. He did not declare two of seven properties and grossly undervalued the rest. The difference between Corona’s claim of P18,436,980 for his declared properties and their actual acquisition cost of P47,047,731 —as revealed by documents presented at the trial—is a whopping P28,054,951.

Moreover, in his 2010 SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth), Corona declared a cash balance in five bank accounts of P3,500,000, but evidence presented at the trial showed a total of P31,752,623. This meant a yawning discrepancy of P28,252,623.

Adding up the missing P28 million+ in undeclared property and P28 million+ in undeclared income yields P56 million+. And this sum does not include the unknown sum in Corona’s dollar accounts, the subpoena for which the Supreme Court has issued a TRO, which the majority in the Senate have voted to respect.

Corona is not only a peso millionaire but a dollar millionaire, with his net worth coming to at least $1.4 million at the current rate of exchange. He may not be a Henry Sy or Lucio Tan, but this amount places him among the less than one twentieth of one per cent of Filipinos who are dollar millionaires, indeed of the minuscule number of dollar millionaires worldwide. This is not the financial profile of a senior civil servant that derives his income principally from his government salary but that of a Filipino CEO or a man of inherited wealth.

A visit to the Bellagio Tower Building that I made over the weekend revealed a world that is made for people living in the lap of luxury. “Very few people can afford to live here,” said an agent who gave me a tour of the building. When I asked him about who could afford to live in the penthouse suites, he answered, “Probably, only CEO’s, who can pay from P300,000 to P500,000 a month.” The Coronas have a three-bedroom suite at the penthouse of this superexclusive highrise condominium , which the Chief Justice valued at P6.8 million in his SALN but whose acquisition cost, as revealed by records presented at the trial, came to P14.5 million.

The Forfeiture Law

The aforementioned P55 million in undeclared income constitutes ill-gotten wealth, and according to Republic Act 1379, “an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property” is subject to forfeiture.

But back to the question of whether the initiation of proceedings to confiscate this ill-gotten wealth does not contradict or subvert the impeachment process. The answer is no, since impeachment is merely concerned with the removal from office of a civil servant specified in the Constitution. In fact, the charge of “ill gotten wealth”—the celebrated paragraph 2.4 of the impeachment complaint—was eliminated by the Senator-Judges owing to legal technicalities posed by the Defense. Thus forfeiture proceedings can proceed on an independent track without compromising the impeachment proceedings.

But would the forfeiture process not violate Corona’s right to due process? While the revelations at the impeachment trial already sufficiently establish a substantial discrepancy in Corona’s actual assets as opposed to his declared wealth that can be the basis for forfeiture proceedings, confiscation will not be automatic. Just as in any judicial process, RA 1379 allows him to legally answer to a petition to forfeit his properties. Hearings will be conducted before the state can seize his assets. In the event that Corona can demonstrate that his real property purchases and bank deposits are in manifest proportion to his salary as Chief Justice, then the forfeiture process will stop—though in the opinion of this writer, this would be a Herculean task for the Chief Justice, given the devastating evidence.

Finally, one last question, isn’t this a “socialistic” initiative that would threaten private property. Hardly. RA 1376 is not a law passed under this administration but one that came to existence during the term of President Ramon Magsaysay in 1955, to assist that popular president’s battle against corruption. It was, in fact, RA 1376 that Sandiganbayan prosecutors resorted to to reclaim P135 million for the state in the notorious plea bargain with former AFP Comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia. Now whether or not the plea bargain in that case was in the interest of the people is a separate issue; the point we are making here is that RA 1376 gives the state the right and power to confiscate ill-gotten wealth.

With the evidence mounting against him on just one charge, Article 2, which focuses on the non-declaration or undervaluation of assets, Renato Corona comes closer and closer to conviction and removal from office. But the state will not be through with him should he be removed. He will still have to return his ill-gotten wealth to the Filipino people–if not voluntarily, then by the force of law.

*Walden Bello represents Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the House of Representatives.

[In the news] WikiLeaks cables: Philippine bank secrecy laws under fire -ABS-CBNnews.com

WikiLeaks cables: Philippine bank secrecy laws under fire
by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com
February 9, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The US government had criticized Philippine laws and local court rulings that block investigation and prosecution of suspected corrupt government officials, according to several US embassy cables published by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Unclassified cable 08MANILA622, dated March 12, 2008 and sent by then Ambassador Kristey Kenney to the US Secretary of State, said anti-corruption efforts in the Philippines were being hampered by local institutions themselves.

“Investigations are hindered by Philippine banking secrecy laws that limit access to certain crucial financial information, and by poor protection for would-be whistleblowers,” said the cable, which was the US Embassy’s 2008 report on the Philippines regarding the International Anticorruption And Good Governance Act.

Republic Act 1405 or the Bank Secrecy Act states that all deposits with Philippine banks are “absolutely confidential” and may not be examined by any person or government official.

However, it cited exemptions such as “upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.”

However, another law, Republic Act 6426 or the Foreign Currency Deposits Act, prohibits all kinds of inquiry into bank accounts involving foreign currencies “except upon the written permission of the depositor.”

“In no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative, or any other entity whether public or private,” Section 8 of Republic Act 6426 states.

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued an indefinite temporary restraining order on the subpoena issued by the impeachment court on the alleged dollar accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona in Philippine Savings Bank.

The Supreme Court based its decision on the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, which has not been amended by Congress since it came into law on April 4, 1974, just a year-and-a-half into the Marcos dictatorship.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[In the news] PAL union leader testifies vs Corona -INQUIRER.net

PAL union leader testifies vs Corona
By Michael Lim Ubac, TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 8, 2012

Chief Justice Renato Corona took part in a 2011 Supreme Court ruling favoring Philippine Airlines (PAL) on the retrenchment of 1,400 flight attendants in 1998 despite claiming he had inhibited from the case, a union leader said Tuesday.

“We hope he will be [convicted] so we will have trust again [in the Supreme Court],” Roberto Anduiza, president of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (Fasap), told the Senate as the prosecution started on Article 3 of the impeachment complaint against Corona on Day 13 of his trial.

Article 3 accuses Corona of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for his “failure to meet and observe the stringent standards of the Constitution that a member of the judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel, which caused the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases.”

Under questioning by Akbayan Representative Arlene Bag-ao, Anduiza said Fasap won three cases in the Supreme Court in connection with the retrenchment of the flight attendants and stewards who went on strike in 1998, but these cases were overruled by another ruling in 2011.

Anduiza, the lone prosecution witness in yesterday’s trial, said Corona took part in this ruling despite claims by Supreme Court spokesperson Midas Marquez of the Chief Justice’s inhibition.
“I came here because of the Chief Justice’s meddling in our case that led to the reversal of the final decision that was already won,” he said.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[Press Release] PALEA challenges PAL to testify at impeachment trial

The Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) held a rally at noon today to support the testimony of Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) president Roberto Anduiza who will undergo cross-examination. PALEA is challenging Philippine Airlines (PAL) management to testify too at the impeachment trial.

“PAL management should face the music. PAL employees and the Filipino people deserve to know the truth behind allegations that Lucio Tan had influenced the Supreme Court through Chief Justice Renato Corona,” said Gerry Rivera, PALEA president.

Some one hundred PALEA members picketed the Senate from 12 noon to 1:00 pm in their third straight day of keeping watch over the impeachment deliberations. Anduiza testified yesterday on Corona’s intervention in the recall of the Supreme Court decision on 1,400 flight attendants after a mere letter from PAL lawyer Estelito Mendoza. In the impeachment proceedings last week, public prosecutors accused Corona and his wife of receiving perks, including free trips abroad, from PAL.

In time for President Benigno Aquino III’s birthday, Rivera quipped that “Aquino has a heart for Grace Lee but none for PAL workers.” PALEA also raised the call “Justice for workers, Reforms beyond Gloria and Corona” as a challenge to the Aquino administration’s so-called campaign for good governance. Members of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) also joined PALEA in the rally at the Senate.

Renato Magtubo, PM chair, said that “Like the rest of the people, we want to believe that the prosecution of Gloria and her followers is the start of fundamental reforms. But without any signs of real changes then such is mere wishful thinking.”

In the press conference yesterday of the “Ang Tipo Kong Chief Justice Movement,” PALEA and PM joined the League of Cities of the Philippines and other groups in calling for people’s participation in the impeachment trial as stakeholders and not just spectators.

“We appeal to our fellow workers to raise their voices as to what standards should a Chief Justice be held to. We cannot have a Supreme Court that will recall a ruling in favor of thousands of flight attendants due to a letter from respondent’s counsel,” Rivera argued.

Magtubo explained that “As it stands now, the so-called campaign for good governance by PNoy looks no more than a factional fight among the elite. This is because there is no difference between the regimes of Arroyo and Aquino with regards to labor policy, neoliberal economics and social programs. The clash between Corona and PNoy looks more like a case of the kettle calling the teapot black and the teapot accusing the kettle of being ebony.”

Press Release
February 8, 2012
PALEA
Contact Alnem Pretencio @ 09209543634

[From the web] Defining moments – RAPPLER.com

Defining moments
BY THEODORE TE, RAPPLER.com
February 6, 2012

At the rate it’s going, it might boil down to definitions.

The past week saw the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice being occupied by the mundane task of defining terms, a task which could actually have been done outside the trial not only by the parties but by the senators themselves.

When the senators asked the panels (defense and prosecution) to define terms such as “dissolution,” “revocation” and the like, it not only wastes valuable time and effort, it also indicates that the senators are not too sure themselves of what it is they are looking for.

At one point on Day 11 of the trial, the Presiding Officer and Senate President Enrile asked prosecutor Elpidio Barzaga if being untruthful in a SALN entry was a high crime and when he got the answer that it was not, Enrile then said that only high crimes were impeachable offenses.

Taking their cue from the Senate President, other Senators (Joker Arroyo and Francis Escudero notably, both asking about the “level” and “gravity” of the crimes alleged) asked questions along the same line, i.e., the offense not being a high crime.

That, for me, was a defining moment for both the prosecution and the Senator-Jurors.

Clearly, the commission of “other high crimes” is an impeachable offense under the Constitution and the Senate President was correct in pointing that out.

But, it was certainly an irrelevant comment as none of the grounds raised in the Articles of Impeachment alleged that the Chief Justice had committed “other high crimes.” The 8 grounds alleged revolved around only two of the grounds for impeachment: betrayal of the public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

Unfortunately for Barzaga, he never pointed that out and it took a very belated riposte from prosecutor Niel Tupas to put on record what the entire Senate should have been very clear about from the very start—that the trial is not about the commission of “other high crimes” but about “betrayal of the public trust” and “culpable violation of the Constitution.”

To Tupas’s comment, the Senate President simply then said that the Senate will discuss what “betrayal of the public trust” means—again indicating that there is no fixed or clear understanding of what the term means to the Senator-Jurors 11 trial dates into this impeachment trial.

So, what exactly does “betrayal of the public trust” mean?

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

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