Tag Archives: United States Department of Justice

[Press Release] Militants slam Serge Osmena for “no collusion” statement -PM

Militants slam Serge Osmena for “no collusion” statement

The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today slammed Sen. Serge Osmena for pre-empting the probes by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the huge power rate hike with his statement yesterday that there is no collusion among generation companies and Meralco. The two departments are precisely looking into allegations of collusion.

pmLogo1

“Serge is a consistent supporter of power industry players since his sponsorship of the EPIRA Law which ushered in the era of high electricity rates to his defense of Meralco’s gargantuan rate hike,” opined Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

Fortaleza is one of the signatories to the complaint against Meralco and generation companies lodged by groups last Monday with the DOJ Office for Competition. DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima pledged to come up with a finding by January next year.

Meanwhile PM continued its campaign of picketing Meralco branches. Yesterday its Cavite chapter protested at the Meralco branch and depot in Dasmarinas City. Tomorrow, PM members will picket the Meralco branch in Marilao, Bulacan. Last Monday PM staged a coordinated picket of branches in Paranaque, Rizal and Cavite.

“Serge’s statement is a mere opinion and not even a conclusion after an investigation. At the Senate hearing, even as senators grilled officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission and the DOE, they handled with kid gloves representatives of Meralco and the generation companies. As to why, it may be necessary to look into election campaign contributions by power industry players,” Fortaleza averred.

PM asserts that the Meralco price increase is unconscionable since it is an act of economic terror amid calamities, inequality and poverty in the country. Fortaleza argued that “It is also unfair. Workers in NCR were only granted P10 per day or P260 per month under Wage Order No. 18. The P4.15/kwh total increase in Meralco’s rate is an additional P830 burden for households consuming 200 kwh per month.”

“The worker-led consumer campaign against collusion by Meralco and the generation companies to drive electricity prices will continue and intensify next year. Consumers anger will boil over when they get their next electricity bills,” Fortaleza predicted.

Press Release
December 19, 2013
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Wilson Fortaleza @ 09178233956

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[Press Release] DOJ asked to dismiss case vs. PALEA 241 -PALEA

DOJ asked to dismiss case vs. PALEA 241

PALEA logo

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the case against 241 of its members for alleged violation of the Civil Aviation Authority Act (CAAA) even as it welcomed the filing of charges against a prosecutor for an extortion attempt. Yesterday DOJ assistant prosecutor Diosdado Solidum Jr. was freed after posting bail a day after the Ombudsman filed raps for mulcting P2.4 million from PALEA in return for the dropping of the CAAA case.

“It behooves the DOJ to dismiss the harassment case against the PALEA 241 because of a fatal flaw. Lawyers of Philippine Airlines do not have any clearance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in filing the case. Any complaint arising from a labor dispute requires such a clearance before civil courts can take jurisdiction,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

A new DOJ prosecutor is now handling PALEA’s petition for review after Solidum was arrested in an entrapment operation Thursday last week. PALEA filed the petition for review after a Pasay fiscal found probable cause for violation of Section 81 of CAAA pertaining to disruption and destruction of airport services and facilities during PALEA’s protest against outsourcing in September 27, 2011.

“We salute DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima for her iron will to fight corruption within her department and in government as shown in the entrapment of Solidum and the crusade against Juliet Lim Napoles. But we urge her to struggle for justice too as workers are wronged by fiscals and prosecutors who make erroneous anti-labor decisions,” Rivera asserted.

Rivera added that the harassment case has a chilling effect on labor relations and is a clear and present danger to workers rights. “Labor protests will then be banned in the aviation industry with workers penalized by both imprisonment and fine in violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights. This will be a grave precedent and new special laws can then be enacted to deny workers the freedoms of assembly, expression, self-organization and strike,” he explained.

He explained that “The decision is void of any legal basis as no damages were committed to airport facilities. Moreover the case is a labor issue and thus prior authority from the DOLE and DOJ should have been secured prior to the filing of the complaint. The CAAA is also explicit in providing that ‘only the Director General’ can file the appropriate charges and not the PAL Vice-President of the Airport Services as in this case.”

Press Release
August 15, 2013
PALEA
Contact Gerry Rivera @ 09157755073

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[Statement] Why were these Abu Sayyaf bombers released from jail?

Why were these Abu Sayyaf bombers released from jail?

On behalf of the bereaved families and victims of bombings and kidnappings in Mindanao and in the interest truth and justice, the undersigned civil society organizations, human rights defenders and peace advocates strongly call for an immediate and impartial investigation over the suspicious release from detention of high-valued Abu Sayyaf inmates from the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) of Bicutan Jail sometime in February 2013 through the alleged “facilitation” of a very powerful politician from Sulu.

While Mindanaoans are terrorized with the spate of bombings now rocking the fledgling peace in Mindanao, it is highly repulsive and mind-boggling why national agencies of government like the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which is under the Office of the President, and the Task Force on Anti-Terrorism of the Department of Justice allowed the release of highly dangerous terrorists who made no qualms that they are involved in bombings and kidnappings.

On February 7, 2013, national print and online media outfits reported the order of the Department of Justice to release 18 suspected Abu Sayyaf men allegedly wrongfully accused of kidnapping as “There appears to be no proof of their participation in the kidnapping much less evidence of their purported membership in the Abu Sayyaf Group.” The 18 were charged for the kidnapping and beheading of Jehovah’s Witness/Almeda Group members in 2002. Because of the dropping of their criminal charges by the DOJ, these 18 walked to freedom on February 15, 2013.

What is shocking is that barely a month from their release from prison, four of these 18 suspects, namely Muhammad Sali Said, Robin Sahiyal, Julhamad Ahad and Mujibar Amon were presented before the Regional Trial Court of Manila-Branch 19 as witnesses of Governor Abdusakur Tan in criminal cases which he has filed against a known human rights defender from Sulu.

In open court, these men have admitted that they are bombers, kidnappers and proud active members of the Abu Sayyaf Group. Sali Said, the star witness produced by the Governor, admitted that he was released from prison through the help of the lawyer of the governor who offered to help him “process (his) papers for release” on the condition that his group will agree to stand as false witnesses for the governor.

Why these Abu Sayyaf inmates released from prison is the biggest question that up to now the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and the Department of Justice refuse to answer. Who repackaged these highly dangerous terrorists to fall under the legal assistance program of the NCMF and made them appear as innocent Muslims wrongly arrested due to mistaken identity? While we are of course supportive of this type of programs as there are indeed hundreds of innocent detainees now languishing in jail, we strongly condemn the act of “inserting” into the list of innocent Muslims wrongly arrested due to mistaken identity—the names of at least four Abu Sayyaf bombers and kidnappers, namely Robin Sahiyal, Muhammad Sali Said and Julhamad Ahadi who walked to freedom last February 15, 2013.

While our young soldiers are risking their lives and limbs running after the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, it is simply sickening to the senses and a complete mockery of justice to find our own national agencies like the NCMF and DOJ providing free legal assistance to high-valued terrorists, bombers and kidnappers? How can we ever reconcile the use of taxpayers’ money to set free the Abu Sayyaf Group? How can NCMF and DOJ ever miss the sea of difference between an innocent Muslim wrongly arrested due to mistaken identity and the solid intelligence dossier of these hard core terrorists?

Who placed the names of these terrorists into the list of innocent Muslims wrongly arrested due to mistaken identity? Who made the deal so that the four ASG witnesses of the Governor will be categorized as innocent Muslims? Who closed his eyes on the glaring fact that these four are Abu Sayyaf members? Who repackaged the four terrorists to become innocent, wrongly arrested Muslims so they can qualify into the NCMF legal assistance program?
These questions demand answers from NCMF, DOJ and the Provincial Government of Sulu whose appalling modus operandi has ostensibly exposed the civilian population into such extreme level of risks from these terrorists who are now freely roaming around public places and could now be plotting the next bomb to detonate and kill our own people.

We appeal to the Philippine Senate to immediately call for an inquiry so that the NCMF, DOJ and the Vice Governor of Sulu will be able to answer for all these issues.

In the name of the victims of bombings and other terroristic acts in Mindanao, we urge President Aquino to demonstrate the full force of the law by holding his very own agencies of government and political allies accountable to the “matuwid na daan” policy.

SIGNED:
PAT SARENAS REV. L. DANIEL PANTOJA
Chairperson President
Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs Peacebuilders Community, Inc.
(MINCODE)

SISTER MARIA ARNOLD NOEL, SPPS PASTOR REU MONTECILLO
Convenor Presiding Chair
Mindanao Solidarity Network Mindanao Peoples Caucus

MAX DE MESA GUIAMEL ALIM
Chair Lead Convenor
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates Mindanao Peace Weavers

ISMAEL MAULANA SALIC IBRAHIM
Secretary General Chairperson
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Reform the ARMM Now (RAN)

1. Agong Network
2. AKBAYAN
3. Al-Ihsan Foundation
4. Alliance of Progressive Labor
5. Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao
6. Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Kabataang Manggagawa(AKMA)
7. Apo Agbibilin, Inc.
8. Archdiocese Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue
9. Balay Rehabilitation Center
10. Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace
11. Bangsamoro Initiatives for Services and Consultancy, Inc.
12. Bangsamoro Women Initiatives for Development, Inc.
13. Bangsamoro Youth Leaders Forum
14. Bantay Ceasefire
15. Bawgbug, Inc.
16. Bong D. Fabe, Freelance Journalist; ACCESS-ACDO
17. Building Alternative Rural Resource Institutions and Organizing Services(BARRIOS)
18. Center for Peoples Self-Determination
19. Civil Society Forum for Peace and Development
20. Claimants 1081
21. Concerned Citizens of Sulu
22. Cotabato Council of Elders
23. ECOWEB, Inc.
24. Fatima Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (FATODA)
25. Federation of Matigsalug Tribal Councils
26. Foundation for Integral and Holistic Community Development
27. Freedom from Debt Coalition
28. Hugpong Alang sa Yanong Mamumuo sa Gensan (HAYAG)National Confederation Of Transportworkers Union(NCTU)
29. International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao
30. ITTIHADUN NISA FOUNDATION (INFO), Inc.
31. Kahugpungan sa Mindanao
32. Kapisanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO)
33. Kaumpiya sa Mindanao, Inc.
34. Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya
35. Landcare Foundation of the Philippines
36. Local Initiatives for Peace and Development in Mindanao (LIPAD MINDANAO), Inc.
37. LUNA, Inc.
38. Mahad Multipurpose Cooperative
39. Maligaya Community Workers Association(MACOWA)
40. Manobo Lumandong Panaghiusa
41. Maranao Peoples Development Center
42. Medical Action Group
43. Mindanao Alliance for Peace
44. Mindanao Alliance for Peace and Development (MAPAD)
45. Mindanao Congress of Development NGOs and NGIs (MINCON)
46. Mindanao Farmers Development Center
47. Mindanao Legal Assistance Center, Inc.
48. Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions
49. Mindanao Peace Movement
50. Mindanao Peace Partners
51. Mindanao Peoples Caucus SOCSKSARGEN Workers Network for Grassroots Advocacy (SWN)
52. Mindanao Solidarity Network
53. MNLF Arakan Cooperative
54. Moro Women Development and Cultural Center (MWDECC), Inc.
55. Moro-IP Kinship Council
56. MY PEACE
57. National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP)- Maguindanao Provincial Chapter
58. Neo Iranun Multi Sectoral Association (NIMSA), Inc.
59. NOORUS SALAM, Central Mindanao
60. One People Mindanao
61. Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference
62. Pagungayan Ami so mga Kagnudaan Antapan ko Kamapiyaan ago Kadtatabanga (PAKAT), Inc.
63. Panagtagbo-Mindanao
64. PATHJ-Mindanao
65. Peksalabukan Bangsa Subanen
66. Peoples Center for Community Development
67. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
68. Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
69. Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PHILRIGHTS)
70. Radyo Natin Club – Lanao del Norte
71. San Jose Integrated Social Forestry Farmers Association(SJISFFA)
72. San Juan Workers and Community Association (SANJUWOCA)
73. SELDA Greater Davao
74. SIMMCARRD
75. Social Workers Coordinating Council (SWCC)
76. Suara Kalilintad
77. Sulu Ulama Council for Peace and Development
78. Tabang Ako Siyap Ko Bangsa Iranun Saya Ko Kalilintad Ago
79. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
80. Task Force Kalilintad
81. Task Force Ugalingan Limbalod
82. Technical Assistance Center for Development of Rural and Urban Poor
83. Tripeople Concern for Peace and Development
84. Tripeople for Peace and Development
85. Tulung Lupah Sug
86. United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD)
87. United Youth Philippines
88. Women’s Initiative for Social Empowerment(WISE)
89. Yumang-LlidoMisa Mini Tricycle operators and Drivers Association(YULLIMMTODA)

FOR INQUIRIES, please contact:

Rose Trajano: 0906-553-1792 and (02)436-26-33
Jun Aparece: 09177015058

MEDIA STATEMENT
August 12, 2013

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[Media Advisory] Multi-Stakeholders Forum-Workshop on the “Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor”

MEDIA ADVISORY

Multi-Stakeholders Forum-Workshop on the “Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor”

Forum Workshop Tarp

Dear Friends from the Media:

The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), the International Coalitions Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada and the University of the Philippines (UP) Asian Center are organizing a forum on “Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor” on March 6, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the UP Asian Center.

The forum is part of our continuing efforts to disseminate to various stakeholders and to general public the issue of enforced disappearance and the available legal remedies that can address it.

Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, the principal author of the law will speak on the objectives, the underlying principle and the salient provisions of the law. Sec. Leila De Lima of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will share with us their respective institutional roles and responsibilities in the effective implementation of the law. USec. Parisya Taradji will also be there to represent the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD).

WE SHALL TRULY APPRECIATE IF YOU CAN TAKE PART IN THIS AFOREMENTIONED EVENT. THANK YOU.

For inquiry, please
contact : Mr. Darwin Mendiola Mobile No. 0915.4689306 Office Phone No. 490.7862
Email address: afad@surfshop.net.ph

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[Event] Forum on Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor -AFAD, FIND

Forum on Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor

Dear firends,

Warmest greetings!

FIND AFADAfter 16 long years of a hard-fought struggle to criminalize enforced disappearance in the country, we finally have the first national legislation against Enforced Disappearance in the Asian region with the passage of Republic Act No. 10353, otherwise known as the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012”. Moreover, its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) have been recently crafted.

In order to make this special penal law an effective tool to combat impunity, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in partnership with the Embassy of Canada and the UP Asian Center, are organizing a forum on “Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor” on March 6, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the GT Toyota UP Asian Center Auditorium. This is part of our continuing efforts to disseminate to various stakeholders and to the general public the issue of enforced disappearance and the value of this new law to address it.

Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, the principal author of the law will speak on the objectives, the underlying principle and the salient provisions of the law. Sec. Leila De Lima of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will share with us their respective institutional roles and responsibilities in the effective implementation of the law. We also invited Sec. Corazon “Dinky” Soliman of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD).

Our partners, the Embassy of Canada and the UP Asian Center, will also be speaking in support to our advocacy. Dr. Carol I. Sobritchea, Dean of the UP Asian Center in particular will address the gender perspective of this human rights issue.

In line with this, we would like to invite you and /or your representative to take part in this worthwhile activity. We will be sending out the final program of the said forum as soon as we received the confirmation of our invited resource speakers. For your confirmation or inquiries, please contact Mr. Darwin Mendiola at phone number 490.7862 or at mobile number 0915.4689306 or email us at afad@surfshop.net.ph.

We believe that we share the common purpose of making human rights a reality to all.

Thank you very much.

Very truly yours,

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO                                                                     NILDA L. SEVILLA
Secretary General, AFAD                                                                             Co-Chairperson, FIND

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[In the news] DOJ drops raps vs. poet-activist Ericson Acosta -GMA News

DOJ drops raps vs. poet-activist Ericson Acosta
Mark MERUEÑAS, GMA News
January 31, 2013

gmanewsonline(Updated 3:21 p.m.) The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped charges against cultural activist and poet Ericson Acosta, who has been incarcerated since 2011 over what his friends and supporters claimed was a trumped-up charge.

In a 15-page resolution signed by Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, the DOJ said it found “numerous irregularities” in the arrest, detention, and turn-over of Acosta that led the agency to “seriously doubt the validity of the charges against him.”

The DOJ noted how Acosta was not immediately brought to the nearest police station or jail after his arrest, as required under Section 3, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[Press Release] Joint investigators and prosecutors training for the first time to fight torture -MAG

Joint investigators and prosecutors training for the first time to fight torture

MAGThe Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are working together with non-governmental organization, the Medical Action Group (MAG) in a UK-funded project to strengthen present efforts to fight torture in the country.

The British Embassy Manila through its Human Rights and Democracy Programme is providing funding for the project “Enhancing the Capacity of the Prosecutors and Investigators for Effective Investigation and Increased Prosecution of Torture Cases Using Medical Evidence.”

Investigators from the PNP and prosecutors from the DOJ will undergo training that will boost their capacity to preserve and process physical and medical evidences that should have probative value in court.

“This is to emphasize the close collaboration between the legal and police professions. However, investigators and prosecutors must often have limited knowledge and understanding of and insight into each other’s work and may even view each other with scepticism. This first joint training of investigators and prosecutors on investigation and documentation of torture cases is crucial process in providing them common ground and framework to work on the application of international standards for effective investigation and successful prosecution of torture cases in the country.” Erlinda Senturias, M.D., Chairperson of MAG explained.

“This project supports efforts to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines. This training programme is unique in that it will not only provide investigators and prosecutors with the tools to improve how they process and present medical evidence, but will also strengthen collaboration between the PNP, the DOJ and civil society. This is an example of the openness and ongoing improvement that necessary for delivering positive results,” added Steph Lysaght, First Secretary and Head of the Political Section of the British Embassy Manila.

“This training will galvanize efforts to address the unbearable crimes of torture that tragically remains to be present, albeit in diminished scale, in our society. Quiet efficiency, integrity and honesty will be your guideposts in the use of tools and skills which hopefully will ensure a perfect conviction rate for Complaints and Information filed involving torture. The same aspiration applies to our partner law enforcement agents from the PNP and the NBI,” DOJ Secretary Leila M. de Lima said.

“The PNP must promote and protect human rights because this task lies at the very core of maintaining peace and order, ensuring public safety and upholding the rule of law in this country,” PCSuperintendent Nestor M. Fajura, Head, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office.

The training begins on 23 January 2013 for the first batch of forty-five (45) investigators mostly from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and from the DOJ prosecutors. Selected graduates of the training will further be trained as trainors for investigators and prosecutors in other parts of the country.

Since 2004, the MAG has been increasingly engaged in capacity development among health and legal professionals on the investigation and documentation of torture cases according to the international standards set by “the Istanbul Protocol,” which provides medical and legal professions with tools for investigating, assessing and reporting allegations of torture.-end-

Note to editors:

The UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”), is the international standard that provides medical and legal professions with tools for investigating, assessing and reporting allegations of torture.

The DOJ, PNP and MAG have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the implementation of said project on November 15, 2012. Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima; Mr. Steph Lysaght, Political Section Head of the British Embassy Manila; Police Chief Superintendent Nestor M. Fajura of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office and Dr. Senturias of MAG signed the MOA, while Atty. Milabel A. Cristobal of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) witnessed the MOA signing.

On November 22, 2012, Administrative Order No. 35 http://www.gov.ph/2012/11/22/administrative-order-no-35-s-2012 created a body, “Inter-agency committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.”

MEDICAL ACTION GROUP, INC.
Health and Human Rights for All

Press release
January 23, 2013

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[From the web] DOJ Secretary Leila M. de Lima’s Speech On the Occasion of the Ceremonial Signing of MOA Between the DOJ, PNP and MAG -www.magph.com

DOJ Secretary Leila M. de Lima‘s Speech
On the Occasion of the Ceremonial Signing of the Memorandum of Agreement Between
the Department of Justice, Philippine National Police and the Medical Action Group

November 15, 2012
Department of Justice
Padre Faura, Manila

English: Cropped from this original upload.

English: Cropped from this original upload. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your Excellency, Stephen Lillie, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Philippines; Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights; Police Superintendent Nicanor A. Bartolome of the Philippine National Police; Dr. Petronilo Lenin M. Pascual, Chairperson of the Medical Action Group, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Legal scholars steep in the study of egregious human rights violations contend that there are four essential tasks of post-authoritarian governments concerned in the healing and reconciliation

of a nation. These are truth, justice, reparation and the exercise of memory!. For the partners in today’s important event, we are assiduously focused on contributing to the establishment of truth and, most importantly, the attainment of justice for the victims of torture and their families.

In the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement, the three (3) collaborating institutions of the Department of Justice, Medical Action Group and the Philippine National Police and its partner agencies will galvanize present efforts to address the unbearable crimes of torture that tragically remains to be present, albeit in diminished scale, in our society.

In the establishment of truth, the MOA will help capacitate our investigators and prosecutors in how to assess, collate, preserve and process physical and medical evidence that should be able to

withstand judicial scrutiny in any jurisdiction. Equipped with the necessary framework, skills, discipline and valuable network of like-minded individuals and institutions, our field officers will be able to package an airtight case that will ensure the dispensation of justice for the victims.

For the prosecutors of the Department of Justice, I give you the directive to actively participate in the creation of a composite, specialized and professionalized team of investigators and prosecutors dealing with all cases of reported torture. Quiet efficiency, integrity and honesty will

be your guideposts in the use of tools and skills that will emanate from the implementation of this Agreement which hopefully will ensure a perfect conviction rate for Complaints and Information filed involving torture. The same aspiration applies to our partner law enforcement agents from the PNP and the NBI. In the area of training and capacity-building, we cannot hope for better trainers than the expert doctors and health professionals of the Medical Action Group (MAG).

We credit MAG for this partnership thank them for their initiative.

I cannot over-emphasize enough our appreciation for the support of the British Embassy and the United Kingdom which has been a veritable light for the civilized world that seems to percolate between rallying indignation and tepid, non-committal response despite the glaring evidence that torturous acts continue to shred every bit of humanity not just of the tortured, but of the torturer. Indeed, the United Kingdom’s anti-torture law has been described “as providing the most comprehensive treatments of the crime of torture.

The Philippine Government is steadily rising to the demand and challenge of its people with a sure-footedness and determination that underscore the present administration’s sincere and honest commitment to promote and fulfill human rights. In fact, the Department is confident that the President will soon sign the proposed Administrative Order creating a high-level, inter-agency committee that will converge strategic partners to oversee and monitor the proper investigation and prosecution of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave human rights violations.

Through this A.O., stakeholders, some of whom are with us today, will be further convinced, if they are not already, that the campaign against grave human rights violations has the personal and direct imprimatur of the President.

The MOA, however important it may be, will not dissipate the great challenges that lie before us. Ultimately, to sustain the fight against torture, we must all have the strength of character to see this through the long haul. In plodding along this difficult and arduous road, I leave you with a quote from one of my most favorite, irrepressible figure of history.

Winston Churchill once said: Success is not final, failure the courage to continue that counts.

Ladies and gentlemen, maraming salamat, pagpala-in tayo ng Panginoon.

Source: http://magph.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=120:doj-secretary-leila-m-de-lima-speech&catid=1:news&Itemid=6

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[Press Release] UK, DOJ and PNP forge partnership on training of investigators and prosecutors to fight torture -MAG

UK, DOJ and PNP forge partnership on training of investigators and prosecutors to fight torture

Impunity and insufficient evidence in torture cases against alleged perpetrators are still among the serious impediments to the prevention of torture. Consequently, few complaints are brought forward and few actual prosecutions are made.

To help fight torture, the Medical Action Group (MAG), with support from the British Embassy Manila signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that will provide training for investigators and prosecutors for a more effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of torture cases in the country.

In a media briefing at DOJ, Mr. Steph Lysaght, Political Section Head of the British Embassy Manila said the British Embassy’ project with the MAG and in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) aims to enhance the capacity of the investigators on investigations and evidence collection and to provide necessary knowledge and skills for the prosecutors on how physical and medical evidences are evaluated in court proceedings on alleged torture cases according to the Anti-Torture Law (Republic Act No. 9745) and international standards contained in the UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”).

The training will be undertaken with funding from the British Embassy’s Human Rights and Democracy Programme.

“This is to emphasize the role that documentation and proper legal process play in the investigation and prosecution of torture cases. Close collaboration between the health and legal professions is crucial in the effective investigation of alleged cases of torture and in establishing standards on how to recognize and document torture in order that the documentation may serve as valid evidence in court,” Erlinda Senturias, M.D., MAG Board of Trustees member explained.

“The need to increase the capacity of investigators in handing evidences and prosecutors in evaluating physical and medical evidences represents recognition that effective and quality documentation of alleged torture cases can contribute mightily to reducing impunity in the Philippines and obtaining redress for torture victims,” MAG added.

Since 2004 the MAG has been increasingly engaged in capacity development among health and legal professionals on the investigation and documentation of torture according to the standards contained in the Istanbul Protocol. MAG explained that the use of the Istanbul Protocol was proved to be an important piece of evidence in the first decision of the Supreme Court (SC) [G.R. No. 180906, The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, October 7, 2008] on the application of the Writ of Amparo in the case of Manalo brothers.

Last year, the city and municipal health doctors through the Association of Municipal Health Officers of the Philippines (AMHOP) have declared their support for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act.

This is not the first time that the British Embassy partnered with the MAG to promote the value and use of medical documentation of torture. In 2004, the two facilitated the production of the groundbreaking “Guidelines to Prevent Torture and the Manual on the Recognition, Documentation and Reporting of Torture,” one of the first successful modifications of the Istanbul Protocol. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) acknowledged the valuable contribution the project made towards fulfillment of Philippines’ international human rights obligations, and still uses the manual in its work.

This partnership among the civil society, the government, the police and the British Embassy affirms the shared commitment to uphold justice and protection of human rights.

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[Advisory/Event] British Embassy Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and MAG will ink agreement

British Embassy Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and MAG will ink agreement
by Medical Action Group (MAG)

ADVISORY

British Embassy Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Medical Action Group (MAG) ink agreement for training of investigators and prosecutors to strengthen investigation and prosecution of torture cases

November 15, 2012 (Thursday), 10:30 to 11:30 AM
Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Lounge
Padre Faura St., Manila

Non-government organization, the Medical Action Group (MAG), with support from the British Embassy Manila, will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DOJ and the PNP that will provide capacity development and training among investigators and prosecutors for a more effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of torture cases in the country. The training aims to enhance the capacity of the investigators in gathering and handling of evidences and to provide necessary knowledge and skills for the prosecutors on how physical and medical evidences is evaluated in court proceedings on alleged torture cases according to the Anti-Torture Law (Republic Act No. 9745) and international standards contained in the UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”) . This is in view of the lack of documentation standards for torture cases has often resulted in the rejection of physical and medical evidences by the courts. This training will have a direct impact on the ability to investigate and secure prosecution by improving the quality of evidences in torture cases. The training will be undertaken with funding from the British Embassy’s Human Rights and Democracy Programme.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will witness the signing of MOA.

Guests:

Secretary Leila M. de Lima, DOJ
Mr. Steph Lysaght, Head, Political Section, British Embassy Manila
Representative from the Office of the PNP Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome
Atty. Milabel Cristobal, Office of the CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales
Erlinda Senturias, M.D., Member, MAG Board of Trustees

For Media Friends
Guests are available for interview.

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[In the news] Body not found but 58th massacre victim recognized -INQUIRER.net

Body not found but 58th massacre victim recognized.

By Jeannette I. Andrade, Jerome Aning, Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 26, 2012

Although his body has not been found, Reynaldo Momay, a photojournalist from General Santos City, has been formally recognized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the 58th victim of the “Maguindanao Massacre” in 2009.

In a DOJ resolution, Assistant State Prosecutor Bernardo Parico said the dentures recovered at the crime scene in Barangay (village) Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, as well as statements of witnesses that Momay was among those killed were enough evidence to prove that he was a victim.

Momay, 63, was working for the weekly community paper Midland Review when he joined a convoy of 58 people that accompanied the wife of then Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan town in Maguindanao to the capital, Shariff Aguak, to file his certificate of candidacy for governor on Nov. 23, 2009.

All of them, including 32 media workers, were killed allegedly by members of the Ampatuan clan and their henchmen in Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman, 3.5 kilometers from the national highway in Ampatuan town. Some were buried along with three vehicles, while others were shot in the head.

Murder charges have been filed against 197 people, including former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., former Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., in Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

Only 96, however, have been arrested and detained, and 78 of them have already been arraigned.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

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[In the news] Ilog officials to hold mass for ‘Justice for Mayor Paul’ | Sun.Star

Ilog officials to hold mass for ‘Justice for Mayor Paul’ | Sun.Star.

By Teresa Ellera
August 6, 2012

OFFICIALS of the municipality of Ilog along with the officials of the entire 15 barangays in town will hold a mass calling for “Justice for Mayor Paul Alvarez” at the town’s public plaza today, Monday.

The mass is in support for Alvarez, as the people of Ilog rally behind him against accusations made by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the mayor is the mastermind behind the killing of Kabankalan Regional Trial Court Judge Henry Arles last April 24.

Alvarez was tagged as the mastermind based on the affidavits of the three self-confessed assassins who are now at the custody of the NBI in Manila.

Meanwhile, the family of the three members of the RPA-ABB tagged as suspects in the ambush-slay of Arles is challenging the NBI to show the three in public to refute allegations that they were tortured into admitting the crime.

They also slammed the NBI for not allowing their lawyer to see the three in their detention cell.

The three suspects, namely Jessie Daguia, Alejandro Capunong and Eddie Fortunado, are detained at the NBI-Manila allegedly for security reasons, said NBI chief lawyer Ferdinand Lavin.

The three were first slapped with illegal possession of firearms charges by the NBI filed at the local court here to allegedly justify their detention. A murder complaint was also filed against the three before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

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[People] Free but not free by Mon Casiple

Free but not free

by Mon Casiple
moncasiple.wordpress.com

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was released from detention through a grant of bail by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court. Expectedly, her camp extolled the court decision as a “victory against dictatorship,” presumably the Aquino administration. It was even posited as a big blow to the anti-corruption campaign and the political standing of President Aquino.

I do not think these views are correct. The order for release of Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo does not, in the first place, mean her innocence in the charge against her; it only means that the evidence presented against her by the prosecution is considered weak by the prosecution. The case will continue to be tried on merits and additional evidence.

The political battle last November 2011 revolved around GMA’s attempt to flee the country and possibly escape prosecution. The instant case of electoral sabotage in the 2007 elections served then to prevent her from doing so by virtue of the hold-departure order issued by the Pasay City RTC. Incidentally, this also rendered moot and academic the controversial “watch-list order” issued by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. I doubt if GMA’s arrest and detention–which is the subject of the bail decision–was the primary objective during that period.

Read full article @ moncasiple.wordpress.com

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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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[In the news] Aussie to face TRAFFICKING charges -Cebu Daily News

AUSSIE TO FACE TRAFFICKING CHARGES.

Cebu Daily News
May 20, 2012

DOJ overturns fiscal on case

He may have been initially cleared of accountability by the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.

But the case of the 49-year-old Australian accused of molesting three boys didn’t escape the scrutiny of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who recommended the filing of qualified trafficking and child abuse charges against him.

Six counts of qualified trafficking and child abuse charges were filed last week by the Department of Justice against the Australian before the Regional Trial Court of Cebu. No bail was recommended for the case which may be raffled off this week.

In overturning an earlier decision by Cebu City Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon to drop the charges against the Australian, de Lima said “the accused took advantage of the victim’s vulnerability by dangling money to them for their services.”

Read full article @ cebudailynews.wordpress.com

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[In the news] Murder case finally filed, 28 months after the massacre -MindaNews

MindaNews » Murder case finally filed, 28 months after the massacre.

By Edwin G. Espejo
March 25, 2012

MANILA (MindaNews/24 March) — The Department of Justice finally began its preliminary investigation into the  murder of news photographer Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, the 32nd  media victim out of 58 victims  in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, with a hearing at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig on March 22).

The case of Momay, photographer of the Tacurong-based Midland Review, is the last of the 58 victims to be investigated by the justice department.

Momay’s remains  have yet to be found hence the delay in his inclusion in the cases filed days after the massacre by relatives of the 57 other victims.

The only clues to his apparent death were  his dentures recovered in the  massacre site and a list of media workers who joined the entourage, found concealed in the sock of one of the journalist victims.

Momay’s daughter, Reynafe ‘Neneng’ Momay-Castillo said she was grateful the case of her father is finally gaining ground.

“Twenty eight months after.  All we want is justice for my father,” said the nurse who has not gone back to work in her quest for the prosecution of her father’s killers.

Read full article @ http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2012/03/25/murder-case-finally-filed-28-months-after-the-massacre/

[Statement] PHILIPPINES: Prosecutor dismissed charges of torture by invoking acts of torture -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Prosecutor dismissed charges of torture by invoking acts of torture

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that a city prosecutor in San Fernando, Pampanga, had dismissed the complaint of torture by five torture victims against a police colonel and other policemen due to “insufficiency of evidence” because their identification of the accused were ‘dubious’ since they were ‘blindfolded’. The five complainants filed a petition for review at the Department of Justice (DoJ) asking them to reverse the prosecutor’s recommendation. This is still pending. Under the Philippine‘s prosecution system, it is the secretary of the DoJ who has final decision on whether or not criminal charges would be filed in court for trial.

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe complainants, Lenin Salas, Jose Gomez, Jerry Simbulan, Rodwin Tala and Daniel Navarro, filed charges on August 9, 2010, for violation of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 against P/Supt. Madzgani Mukaram, commander of the Provincial Public Safety Office (formerly Regional Mobile Group) and other police officers whose names could not be immediately identified at the time. They were arrested and detained for their alleged involvement with the Marxist Leninist Party of the Philippines, an illegal armed group. Read details here: Story 1: “There are no human rights for us”. They filed complaint of torture while in detention six days after their arrest.
After the overly delayed and lengthy process of, for example, the submission of affidavits, appeals and petitions (including demands by the accused to expunge from record the complaint of torture), prosecutor Maria Gracella Dela Paz – Malapit, concluded in her resolution dated July 21, 2011 that “the instant complaint for violation of Rep. Act No. 9745 (Anti-torture Act of 2009) against P/Supt. Madzgani Mukaram be DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence”.

However, while Prosecutor Malapit admitted that “there exists a probability that they (victims) were tortured”, she nevertheless dismissed the complaint invoking that the facial identification of the accused was dubious because they “did not have the opportunity to see him considering that they were blindfolded”. In justifying her argument she invoked the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on People vs. Acosta1, by merely copying the jurisprudence that the “identification of the offender is crucial in every criminal prosecution”.

In People vs. Acosta, the jurisprudence was applied in the context in which the convicted person, Jesus Acosta, challenged the identification of Freddie Osmillo, the principal witness of the prosecution of him as the person who shot dead Rafael Villavicencio, Jr. in April 28, 1980. Here, the SC weighs the defence of alibi of the accused as against the positive identification of the witness. The SC held to affirm the conviction of Acosta with finality in determining his guilt for murder.

However, in her resolution Prosecutor Malapit applied the doctrine of ‘positive identification’ in exonerating the accused P/Supt. Mukaram and eventually also the other accused police officers from criminal liability for torture. In Acosta’s case, it was after the conclusion of a criminal trial, but in this complaint of torture it was dismissed invoking exactly the same doctrine even though it was not a criminal trial, but rather the process of determination of probable cause. Her application of the doctrine of positive identification in dismissing the complaint of torture, therefore, is completely taken out of context. Here, she pre-empted and usurped the authority that should have been solely for the court to decide: positive identification to determine the innocence or guilt.

In her resolution Prosecutor Malapit argued:

“Like Salas, the identification made by Tala, Simbulan and Navarro seemed to be dubious. It is unusual that they should be able to identify the respondent talking to them when they did not have the opportunity to see him considering that they were blindfolded. Uncertainty thus exists as to the veracity of respondent’s identification as it is possible that owners of the voices they heard belong to that of other persons who inflicted physical harm on them⦔

If this reasoning is not corrected, the exoneration of the accused by invoking  “blindfolding“, which itself  defined as act of torture under section 4 of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, renders any sort of remedy inapplicable and meaningless. Here, P/Supt. Mukaram and other policemen had been exonerated from criminal liability for the crime of torture for reasons because the perpetrators had blindfolded the victims they were torturing. This type of reasoning rather emboldens perpetrators to create more sophisticated form of torture without them being identified and assured of impunity.

Prosecutor Malapit, however, admitted the existence of probable cause:

“In here, with the presence of the above-stated injuries of the complainants, there exists a probability that they were tortured. It bears to emphasize that physical evidence is that mute but eloquent manifestations of truth which rate high in our hierarchy of trustworthy evidence (People vs. Vasquez, 280 SCRA 160)”

Anyone who studies law, reading this argument would say these are contradiction in substance as to what the role of prosecutors should be in criminal cases. In the Philippines legal system, the prosecutor’s role is to determine ‘probable cause’, meaning a reasonable ground or circumstances that demonstrate a crime had probably been committed. None of the parties challenged the existence of probable cause. It is not within the prosecutor’s authority to make judgement on whether or not the identity of the person who is accused of committing crime as charge is actually the very person who had probably committed the crime. This principle explains the practice of using John Does and Jane Does, which denotes the identities of persons that are yet to be identified, in the criminal complaint. Therefore, the authority that prosecutor Malapit had taken to herself is in effect, that of the court.

Here, in dismissing the torture complaint, Prosecutor Malapit arbitrarily assumed the authority and power of the court. By deciding this matter to herself, beyond her obligations on determining probable cause, she disregarded the role of the court in determining the matter within their authority. Thus, the questions as to identities of the accused involved in torture, the merits of the case and determination of guilt or innocence, which are supposed to be heard in proper trial, were denied effectively from the court because the case did not reach their jurisdiction.

Freedom from torture is an absolute right. It is a serious crime as it is attributed, not only to an individual criminal act of a person, but a person acting on behalf of the State. Therefore, in applying doctrines and jurisprudence, more caution must be observed. They cannot be interpreted narrowly by arguing and invoking analogous to ordinary case-laws and jurisprudence. In fact, the Resolutions of the Prosecutors are not court decisions, where the guilt or innocence of the accused are determined, but rather contains details on existence of ‘probable cause’. But the manner how Prosecutor Malapit argued in her Resolution it has become in form effectively a court decision following a criminal trial.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is shocked, but not surprise as to how prosecutor who had legal obligations to investigate complaints of torture, understands and interprets how the probability of the crime of torture under the Anti-torture Act of 2009, are committed for them to proceed in recommending prosecution of case in court. In the Philippine legal system, the duty of the prosecutor in determining the existence of ‘probable cause’ is very crucial in criminal prosecution. They are ‘bottle neck’ on whether or not a case proceeds in court for trial.

The AHRC therefore urges Department of Justice (DoJ) to resolve without delay the complainants’ petition for review asking for the reversal of the city prosecutor’s decision in their favour so as to proceed with the prosecution of the case in court. If this wrong is not corrected, it will deny any possibilities of remedies and redress for victims of torture. In prosecution of cases of torture, where public officers are acting within the authority and the power of the State, utmost caution must be observed.

—————-
[1] People v. Acosta, G.R. No. 70133, July 2, 1990, 187 SCRA 39, full text: http://www.chanrobles.com/scdecisions/jurisprudence1990/jul1990/gr\_70133\_1990.php
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-060-2012
March 15, 2012

[In the news] DOJ orders murder raps filed vs. Palawan former gov., 4 others in Ortega killing -GMA News

DOJ orders murder raps filed vs. Palawan former gov., 4 others in Ortega killing
MARK MERUEÑAS, GMA News
March 13, 2012

The Department of Justice on Tuesday reversed its previous decision and ordered that murder charges be filed against Palawan former Governor Joel Reyes and four others for the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

Also ordered charged were former Palawan administrator Romeo Serratubias, Reyes’ son and incumbent Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, Arturo Regalado and Percival Lecias.

“After the reinvestigation and evaluation of the evidence adduced by both parties, the new panel arrived at the conclusion that the additional evidence offered by the complainant are relevant in appreciating other pieces of evidence previously submitted by the parties during the first preliminary investigation and that such additional evidence are sufficient to modify the initial findings of the previous panel,” the DOJ said.

The murder case was ordered to be filed in the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] De Lima: No approval for inmates’ transfer -ABS-CBN News

De Lima: No approval for inmates’ transfer
By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
February 20, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima cannot remember authorizing the transfer of inmates from the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) to Camp General Capinpin, Rizal and Dasmarinas, Cavite.

She also did not approve any contract for catering services for the National Bilibid Prisons’ (NBP) minimum security inmates and Muntinlupa Juvenile Therapeutic Center.

De Lima issued the clarification in response to allegations made by prison guard Kabungsuan Yadao Makilala against Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gaudencio Pangilinan.

The BuCor is an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and under its direct supervision.

Yadao filed a complaint-affidavit against Pangilinan with the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, alleging, among others, that Pangilinan authorized the transfer of some 52 inmates this month and last January to Rizal and Cavite, and authorized a contract between the BuCor and a catering service company for provisions at the minimum security compound and the juvenile center.

De Lima stressed that the BuCor Manual allows the transfer of inmates only for 3 reasons: by court order, for medical reasons, and in order to view the remains of a deceased relative.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[In the news] Groups, bloggers ask PNoy to veto cybercrime bill – InterAksyon.com

Groups, bloggers ask PNoy to veto cybercrime bill
J. M. Tuazon, InterAksyon.com
February 1, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines — Various groups and Internet users have called on President Benigno Aquino III not to sign the proposed Cybercrime Prevention Act, saying that some provisions in the bill could only do more harm than good.

The uproar against the proposed measure came just a day after the upper chamber of Congress passed Senate Bill 2796 on third reading, with majority of Senators voting to pass the bill.

The lower house, on the other hand, has yet to take up its version of the bill on second reading.

Consumer group TXTPower, in a statement, said the bill looks less about preventing cybercrimes than an “orchestrated attempt to control and limit Internet use.”

“Under the bills, government would have the power to take down, sans a court order, websites at anytime and anywhere if authorities find alleged prima facie evidence of offenses,” the group said.

The group added that the bills have “serious and grave threats” to the privacy of Filipino Internet users, especially with provisions allowing government to take and preserve traffic data for a period of time.

“For example, under the Senate version, the government would have the power to retain all user-identifiable data for a period of six months, from as many individuals it could possibly tag as suspected cybercriminals,” said TXTPower.

UP College of Law’s Internet and Society Program Director Atty. JJ Disini pointed out that as written, the proposed legislation puts too much power under the Department of Justice (DOJ), which would act as the coordinating agency for the government’s anti-cybercrime efforts.

“Under the bill, the DOJ can issue an order [to take and restrict access to data] should it be found as prima facie evidence for a violation,” Disini said. “In effect, the DOJ’s power is even greater than the court’s power.”

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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