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July 15, 2009 at 2:34 am 1 comment

Probe Brillantes link to ‘election operators’

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated September 02, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (5) View comments

If there’s one agency politicians are afraid of, it’s the Comelec. The poll body can disqualify their candidacy, delist their party, or declare them loser. So it’s best for them to be on the Comelec’s good side. This makes ticklish the planned Senate investigation of the 2004 and 2007 poll frauds. For, the probe should include present Comelec officials tied to fraudsters, like powerful chairman Sixto Brillantes no less.

In avowing recently knowledge of the 2004 cheating, police colonel Rafael Santiago unwittingly exposed one such link. Allegedly former poll supervisor Roque Bello and son Ruel had switched the election returns at the Batasan Complex. Immediately Leila de Lima, a hotshot election lawyer before becoming justice secretary, recognized the names. “They are known election operators,” she said, implying mastery of tricks like dagdag-bawas (vote padding-shaving). Brillantes, also a former poll attorney, reportedly is related to the Bellos, and was a law associate. He disowns present ties to them. Still, unsavory talk persists about ongoing partnerships.

One thing going for the Senate inquiry is that Panfilo Lacson and Alan Peter Cayetano pushed for it. With both terming out in 2013, they have no need to curry Comelec favor, unless running for other posts. Lacson is known to fight steep battles. Cayetano has twitted Brillantes for releasing multimillion-peso pensions to Comelec ex-chairman Ben Abalos and ex-commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. This, despite their link to the ZTE scam and “Hello Garci” tapes, respectively.

Two related items need scrutiny:

• the sudden replacement of Comelec legal head Ferdinand Rafanan with an officer whom the Ombudsman is suspending for a procurement scam, and

• Grand C Graphics, which was tied to the printing of bogus election forms in 2004.

* * *

A year and one month since forcibly evacuated from their condos, how are residents of West Tower in Bangkal, Makati doing? All 130 unit-owners continue to live elsewhere, as the building remains uninhabitable due to fumes from the fuel pipeline leak. Pipeline operator First Philippine Industrial Corp. goes on siphoning free-floating gasoline from the sump at the basement parking.

FPIC disowns liability. Supposedly to blame for pea-size cracks in the pipeline is the public works office, for erecting a flyover across it, half a kilometer away 35 years ago. The agency denies causing harm. Nineteen of the owners have accepted FPIC’s “assistance”: P600 per square meter per month for 18 months to owner-residents, P300 if the owner was leasing out the unit, then a quitclaim. Ninety-seven are suing for P2-billion damages at the Makati court. Citing experts, they say it would take three to five years to fully soak up the 1.8 million liters of leaked gasoline, longer to clean up the leachate. They want FPIC to pay for their acquisition of equivalent condos nearby.

Trial has yet to commence, pending side issues. FPIC is contesting the court exemption of the owners, under a Writ of Kalikasan, from the P40-million filing fee. It has sued them for P200-million defamation.

Victims’ leader Bobby Dimayuga decries the scant government action. Allegedly the environment department and the Makati city hall are pointing to each other as in charge of helping them. Neither office has checked the extent of FPIC’s cleanup, he says, so owners have no basis to believe claims of 50-percent completion.

* * *

In Taguig City condo buyers are suing the directors of First Global BYO Corp. for reneging on advertised building specs and amenities. Patricia del Rosario and Cynthia Nakpil, for 57 other buyers, allege fraudulent schemes to deprive them of ownership of units in Fort Palm Springs at The Fort. Accused of breaking the Condominium Code are Philip Cea, Catherine Cea, Richard Juansing, Lourdes Mana-ay and Arlene Camacho.

The main breach is in the number of condos and carports. The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board approved construction of 229 residential and commercial units, and 210 parking slots. Actually built were 293 units. This reduced the parking slots to 164, with narrowed width from the standard 2.5 to only 1.6 meters. Diminished too were the promised “stunning lobby”, outdoor swimming pool, and ground and rooftop gardens. The HLURB issued last year a Notice of Violation.

The complainants say First Global refuses to turn over the titles to their fully paid condos. This allegedly is due to its non-payment of real property taxes. Without the buyers’ knowledge, First Global purportedly borrowed P20 million in their behalf, from another firm controlled by Philip Cea. Since the condos were placed as collateral, the owners fear that their units will revert to the builder-lender if the loan is unpaid.

* * *

The Sigma Kappa Pi marks its 43rd anniversary with a national congress tomorrow, Sept. 3, at the Angeles City Library. Right after is the anniversary festivity at the Casino Filipino, Balibago. Contact Bing Villarta, 43rd anniversary chairman, 0905-2801782.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).


September 2, 2011 at 12:53 am Leave a comment

Careful of joint oil explorations

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated August 31, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (1) View comments

President Noynoy Aquino’s aides needed to qualify that any new joint oil exploration with China would be in “disputed waters only.” This was to dissociate it from the iniquitous JMSU (Joint Marine Seismic Understanding) of the Arroyo regime.

Everything is still under study at the ministers’ level, according to Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio. But Chinese state-owned Sino Petroleum Co. supposedly has signified interest in a $1-billion venture. With a private Filipino firm it will search for oil in the disputed Spratly Islands of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The amount is part of the $2 billion to $7 billion that China aims to invest right off in the Philippines. The exploration will be conducted under Philippine laws. It will skirt acknowledged Philippine territory. There will be no betrayal of the Constitution, Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured.

Differentiation from the Arroyo JMSU was to dispel qualms. The JMSU had ignored all the rules. In inking it first with China in 2004, the Philippines broke ranks from ASEAN that was confronting as one China’s expansionism. When Vietnam found out and protested the secret pact, the Philippines placated the ally by making it tripartite in 2005. The deal was supposed to cover “disputed waters of the South China Sea,” meaning the Spratlys that the three participants were claiming. But when the coordinates were plotted, it turned out that five-sixths of the area was in undisputed Palawan waters. Incorporated was the Recto (Reed) Bank where the Philippines has confirmed oil and gas reserves, adjacent to Malampaya, Matinloc and Linapacan fields.

In exchange for the JMSU, China lavished the Arroyo admin with $2 billion a year in padded loans. These were plunked into projects from which cronies extracted 20-percent kickbacks. Among the projects were the Northrail, Southrail, NBN-ZTE, Diwalwal-ZTE, and the near lease to China of a million hectares of farmland.

The JMSU violated the Constitution, which bars aliens from exploring Philippine natural resources, except in financial-technical aid. Malacañang released $5 million for the three-year survey, with no appropriation from the House of Representatives. The pact was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. In the outcry upon its exposure in 2008, the deal was let to lapse; with Malacañang’s non-renewal, China exercised option to keep the study to itself.

In 2009 China unilaterally declared a Nine-Dash Line territorial claim over all of the South China Sea. Included in its map consisting of nine dashes was the Recto Bank. Through the JMSU, the Philippines virtually had conceded undisputed territory as “disputed waters.” In April-June 2011 China intruded into the area seven times, accusing Philippine research, military and fishing vessels of trespassing.

Due to the sad national experience, present leaders must scrutinize the joint exploration proposal of Sino Petroleum Co. It must have no onerous terms and no strings attached, unlike the JMSU. The Spratlys consist of 45 islands and 705 reefs, atolls and cays, mostly occupied or patrolled by China; the Philippines holds only eight islets and two reefs. Why would China want to search for oil and gas near the Philippine claim, when it can do the same in its area?

* * *

Reader Mrlvin Miranda of Makati backs law professor Dennis Funa. The Philippines is bound by international law to render justice for the Hong Kong tourists hostaged at the Luneta (Gotcha, 29 Aug. 2011). He writes: “In the same vein, we Filipinos vigorously must seek justice for our overseas workers who are dehumanized, raped or murdered by foreign employers. Citing the same legal grounds of Attorney Funa, if the Philippines has the duty to protect foreign nationals sojourning in our territory, we can exact justice from the governments of those foreign employers.

* * *

Having immigrated to New Zealand, reader Edwin Uy began studying its laws. Among the enactments he stumbled upon dated as far back as 1910: the Secret Commissions Act. Edwin suggests that the Philippines adopt it, to promote honesty and transparency in the private and public sectors. (See

Basically the law deals with two parties: the agent and the principal. The agent is a person who has been or desires to be employed by another, as servant, broker, auctioneer, solicitor, director, or any other capacity, alone or jointly with others. The principal is the employer or hirer. “Consideration” means valuable of any kind, including commission, discount, rebate, bonus, deduction, percentage, employment, loan, gift, or dole.

Any consideration given to an agent without the consent of the principal is considered an offense. Likewise, the acceptance by the agent of such undisclosed consideration. As well, the use of false receipt or invoice; giving secret rewards for procuring contracts; and aiding and abetting any of the prohibited acts. The agent is duty-bound to disclose any pecuniary interest in a contract.

A person convicted under the law is imprisoned up to two years, and fined up to $1,000; if a corporation, up to $2,000. And this was written in 1910!

* * *

In observance of its 43rd anniversary, the Sigma Kappa Pi will hold a national congress on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Angeles City Library. Right after is the anniversary festivity at the Casino Filipino Entertainment Hall in Balibago District. Contact Bing Villarta, 43rd anniversary chairman, 0905-2801782.

A pre-anniversary golf tourney tees off at 11 a.m. today, Aug. 31, at the Mimosa Country Club, Clark Freeport. Hosted by Vic Lugue, 0917-8129663; Lito Nucum, 0928-1459432; Willy Yao, 0917-5017892.

Tomorrow, Sept. 1, is the turnover of funds for additional Gawad Kalinga indigent homes in Recomville, Caloocan. Following is a party hosted by the EKIT-UP parent chapter at Vinzons Hall, Diliman, Quezon City. Contact Mark Arcaya , 0922-9953166 or 0947-4402525.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

August 31, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Phl required to render justice for HK victims

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated August 29, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (3) View comments

In the last two years of the Arroyo tenure the Philippine National Police made a series of overpriced procurements. Among these are:

• two of then-first gentleman Mike Arroyo’s used helicopters passed off as brand new,

• mismatched rubber boats and outboard motors,

• defective patrol craft,

• repair of 13 armored personnel carriers for the price of brand new ones, and

• bulletproof vests that don’t stop bullets.

Vice chairman Eduardo Escueta of the supervising National Police Commission says they will investigate all. For, the Napolcom must approve all PNP purchase plans and specifications, changes, contracts, and payments.

But wait a minute. Wasn’t Escueta part of the Napolcom when the PNP cut those anomalous deals? Didn’t he join in August 2008, and so had a hand in approving the deals made in 2009-2010? Didn’t fellow-commissioner Luis Mario General cry in March 2010 that Escueta and Napolcom chairman-Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno conspire to oust him for denouncing several anomalous expenditures?

Escueta should let other agencies, say the Ombudsman, do the investigating. His participation would only lead to suspicions of a cover-up.

* * *

It’s as mad as Spy vs. Spy at the Customs bureau. A high official is under fire for the disappearance of 1,902 container vans, which ironically he himself had reported. Leading the charge is a legislator whose spouse allegedly sneaked 1,800 luxury cars out of a free port years ago. Exposing the vehicle smuggling is a lower Customs officer suspected of approving the rollout of the vans from the Customs zone.

* * *

One year since, relatives of the Hong Kong tourists killed in the Luneta hostaging still feel bitter. And rightly so. For, the Philippines has not corrected the wrong. That is, it has not punished those accountable for the hostaging and the botched rescue. Nor has it recompensed the victims in any way. The demanded apology from the Philippine government was in vain.

Are the Hong Kong victims entitled to justice, reparations and official contrition? Yes, says law professor Dennis B. Funa. International law, in fact, obliges the Philippine government to render it.

Two doctrines operate, Funa says: on state responsibility and treatment of aliens. From these, “A State is under obligation to make reparation to another State for the failure to fulfill its primary duty, in accordance with international law, to afford proper protection due to an alien who is a national of the latter State.” The International Law Commission adopted it in August 2001 under the “Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for International Wrongful Acts.” It requires the Philippine government to prosecute all the negligent wrongdoers in the Luneta hostaging, and to pay damages to the victims.

The traditional notion of state responsibility refers to the liability of states for injuries caused to aliens, Funa explains. A state must exercise due diligence to avert foreseeable injuries to foreign nationals. Upon learning of an imminent threat to a foreign national, a state must provide adequate police protection. If an injury is caused, the state must provide redress. That is, ensure punishment for the harm and lay down preventive measures. Funa cites Janes v. Mexico (U.S. v. Mexico, 4 Rep., Int’l. Arb. Awards 83, 1925). The ruling held Mexico liable for the failure of its authorities to immediately, efficiently apprehend the injurers of an American national.

Originally international law covered only protection from physical harm. It evolved to include several rights of foreign nationals, such as against discrimination. Protections sought for aliens now include human rights.

In the Luneta incident all the participants were government officials and personnel — including the hostage-taking policeman. Gross negligence marked the handling, which led to the deaths of some hostages. No less than the investigating commission confirmed so.

Under international law, Funa says, the legal consequences for the breaching state are:

• duty to cease and not to repeat;

• duty to make full reparations — by restitution, compensation or satisfaction.

On the part of the injured state:

• right to invoke responsibility;

• limited right to take counter-measures.

A state has the right to expel aliens or to declare certain diplomats persona non grata. It also has the duty to protect aliens within its territory.

* * *

In observance of its 43rd anniversary, the Sigma Kappa Pi will hold a daylong national congress on Saturday, September 3, 2011, at the Angeles City Library on Santo Rosario St. Right after is the anniversary festivity at the Casino Filipino Entertainment Hall in Balibago District. Contact Bing Villarta, 43rd Anniversary chairman, 0905-2801782.

A pre-anniversary golf tournament is to be held on Wednesday, August 31, teeing off 11 a.m. at the Mimosa Country Club, Clark Freeport. Hosted by Vic Lugue, 0917-8129663.

On September 1, Thursday, is the turnover of funds for the Gawad Kalinga indigent housing in Recomville, Caloocan City. Following is a party hosted by the U.P.-Diliman parent chapter at Vinzons Hall Contact Mark Arcaya, 0922-9953166 or 0947-4402525).

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).


August 29, 2011 at 2:53 am Leave a comment

Surpassed by Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated August 26, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (21) View comments

The habeas corpus petition of Rowena del Rosario, Mike Arroyo’s personal bookkeeper, reportedly was re-raffled yesterday. It could have landed with any member of the Court of Appeals. But it had to be Justice Sesinando Villon. Wasn’t he a law school classmate of Arroyo?

* * *

Mike Arroyo’s rights — to travel, to due process, and to equal protection — might be violated. So the Supreme Court unanimously restrained the executive from putting him on a travel-watch list. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David must explain their side in 10 days.

Arroyo may be implicated in the fraudulent P105-million sale of used helicopters to the police as brand new. But since not yet indicted, he is still free to move around. He must not be singled out, while other persons incriminated by Senate investigations are not made to ask permission to travel. The justice department must justify its watch list aside from merely saying that the Senate requested it.

The Supreme Court is there to uphold every citizen’s freedoms. What it is doing for Arroyo, it must also do for 64,000 little folk whom Immigration brags to have stopped from leaving international airports since August 2010. They were as free to travel abroad as Mike was, and were not even in any watch list but only suspected of being unregistered overseas hires posing as tourists. They were singled out because they looked provincial, so deemed unfit to travel abroad. In the first seven months of 2011 Immigration filed 31 cases of human trafficking (as President Noynoy Aquino reported in his State of the Nation), but cannot account for the 64,000 other citizens it claims to have “saved” from slavery.

* * *

Malaysia’s recent acquisition of two submarines may be padded with kickbacks. But the fact remains that it can afford them. Our Philippines, by contrast, has to content itself with a refurbished 46-year-old vessel from the US Coast Guard. We have added one ship to patrol our offshore oilfields in Recto Bank. Whereas, Malaysia now can project an invisible army to the seven seas.

Military capability draws from economic might. Malaysia claims to have no poor citizens, while three in ten Filipino families go hungry. Hardly any Malaysian is jobless, while most of our 750,000 yearly new adults who enter the labor force cannot find work. A major reason for the divide is in the treatment of investors, especially foreigners. Malaysia entices them with stable rules. We don’t, as seen in recent actions by the three government branches. The executive is revising two major foreign contracts and is delaying three others, but has recalled a blacklisted one back to work; the Supreme Court has redefined the limit of 40-percent foreign ownership in public utilities; Congress refuses to lift such limit despite meager domestic capital.

Comparing the two Malay neighbor-states is appropriate. But even if set beside Indochinese Vietnam and Thailand, our Philippines pales. Thailand and the Philippines had the same economic situations in the ’70s, population growths in the ’80s, and currency values in the ’90s. Both offer the same tax incentives, according to the World Bank. But in the ’80s when the Philippines bagged $2.14 billion in capital from abroad, Thailand got a double $5.08 billion. By the ’90s Thailand’s $31.46 billion was triple our $11.88 billion. In 2000-2009 Thailand’s $65.21 billion was quadruple our $16.34 billion.

Vietnam came out of 30 years of war in the ’70s. Its $56-million foreign invitee in the ’80s was puny, compared to our $2.14 billion. But by the ’90s its $13.38 billion already overtook our $11.88 billion. In the 2000s Vietnam’s $35.29 billion was double our $16.34 billion.

The difference: Thailand and Vietnam kept firm rules; we left it to the discretion of regulators.

* * *

Is it true that a mere local-government corporation in Bicol now oversees mining in one of its congressional districts? If so, this is illegal, for it removes the authority of provincial, municipal and city councils over mineral resources in their locales.

Reportedly a Partido Development Administration advises the national and regional government on mining in the 4th district of Camarines Sur. This is by virtue of a memo of agreement it wangled last summer from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Partido is the name of the legislative district composed of ten towns; the PDA was quietly formed by Congress in 1994.) A three-man PDA committee now tells the DENR which applicants to grant mineral exploration and extraction rights. The body has no provincial rep. Although one of its three members is from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, it overrides the MGB’s duty to review and recommend license applications to the DENR secretary.

This is against the Mining Act of 1995, the Small-Scale Miners Act of 1991, the Local Government Code of 1989, and the Administrative Code of 1987. It contradicts the very law that formed the PDA, and a DENR order for mining firms to seek local government consent of their operations. In disempowering the local governments and the MGB, the signatories to the DENR-PDA deal could be charged with graft.

The PDA is the only local-government corporation in the land that is autonomous of the provincial capitol. It has power to secure loans and joint venture with private firms. Its purpose is to develop the 4th district. Since its foundation, however, the PDA has not fulfilled that function. Its one big project, an P831-million water facility, flopped. The national government had to absorb the loan, and water in the district became the country’s most expensive.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

My new e-mail: jariusbondoc@

August 26, 2011 at 2:40 am Leave a comment

Bookkeeper’s admission unmasked Mike Arroyo

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated August 24, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (32) View comments

Ex-journalist Alan Davis began the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project 18 months ago partly as a reaction to political signage. Married to a Filipino, the Brit was irked that everywhere they traveled in the islands they’d see billboards proclaiming this bridge, park or city hall to have been built from the generosity of that governor or mayor. “Pera natin ‘to (It’s our money),” he kept hearing the politically aware remark against the politicos’ empty boasts. So he used it as slogan for the project of the US Agency for International Development.

The PPTRP trained community leaders and journalists in public finance and budget, set up local transparency watchdog groups and blogs, and conducted surveys on local government accountability.

Yesterday the project came to a close with four allies sharing their views. Senator Teofisto Guingona III said that as head of the Blue Ribbon Committee he sees more than ever the need for a Freedom of Information Act. Such law would force state offices to divulge what they are up to, like the Ombudsman’s secret plea-bargaining in 2010 with plunderer Gen. Carlos Garcia. Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo cited the importance of websites of local and national agency purchases and projects. Upon putting up one last year, a firearms dealer immediately noticed that the police was buying M-16 rifles at P140,000 apiece, when another agency had bought the same from him for only P93,000.

ZTE scam whistleblower Jun Lozada recounted the difficulties and dangers that truth-tellers face: lost income, disrupted family life, death threats. If as they say in Africa it takes a village to raise a child, it also needs a community to care for citizens who dare to expose sleaze. Gracia Pulido-Tan, Commission on Audit chairwoman, told of a Citizens Participatory Audit in partnership with civil society. No only COA auditors but also ordinary citizens can report financial shenanigans through e-mail or mobile (0915) 5391957.

* * *

As with Al Capone’s mob, the weakest link was the bookkeeper. Rowena del Rosario, former first gentleman Mike Arroyo’s personal accountant, wanted to exculpate him in the Senate hearing Monday. But in the end she admitted having wired $500,000 to Robinson Helicopter Company in December 2003, in behalf of Mike’s LTA Inc.

That settled it. The $500,000, as two witnesses earlier swore, was down payment for five helicopters from the California factory. There’s no more doubt that Mike secretly bought the aircraft. They arrived in the Philippines in three batches in 2004. Two of them fraudulently were sold to the Philippine National Police as brand new in 2009. No PNP general would have accepted the units and paid more than the price for brand-new had they not been so ordered from on high.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will now decide what charge to recommend against Mike: simple graft or non-bailable plunder. By evading the hearing, he defaulted on his chance to refute incriminating testimonies and evidence. Numerous scams had marred the nine-and-a-half-year reign of President Gloria Arroyo. For the first time Mike would be charged in court for one of them.

Rowena had put up a brave front. She claimed from the start to work not for Mike but congressman-brother Iggy Arroyo. Allegedly it was Iggy who gave her cash every month from 2004 to 2011 to pay the chopper lease from, not maintenance and hangarage by, LionAir Inc. She didn’t flinch when asked what her beloved decade-long boss’ birthday is and she couldn’t say. Unmindful was she of stating on national television that, contrary to accepted accounting principles, she never scrutinized the billings from LionAir nor booked the payments of Iggy. It didn’t matter that the monthly billings mostly were for a few tens of thousands of pesos that at times ballooned to several hundreds of thousands. Iggy’s order was simply to be told of the amount, which he would turn over to her for remittance to LionAir.

But when confronted with a bank document — the $500,000-wire transfer by LTA Inc. to Robinson in December 2003 — the accountant in Rowena had to give. Yes, it was authentic, she said — but quickly added that it was an advance payment for the lease. She stuck to her story, although Robinson only manufactures and never leases helicopters. The senators knew she was lying, and cited and detained her for contempt. Aside from conspiracy with Mike, she would be charged with perjury.

In detention Rowena might be able to reflect on her future. Would she take the rap and be imprisoned for Mike? Or would she break free, stand state witness, tell all she knows, and come home to her growing children? Her relatives and friends would do well to advise her, perhaps even help raise funds to hire an attorney all her own.

The PNP generals and auditors are in the same boat. Their lips are sealed about having been forced to implement the chopper switcheroo. But their own ex-superior, former interior secretary Ronaldo Puno, is washing his hands of the scam. In Monday’s hearing Puno swore that he would have indicted them had he known in 2009 that they were buying second-hand for more than the price of brand-new. Compared to the generals he was probably closer to Mike. But he denied any participation in the scam at his level, although his office had approved the revision of specs tailor-fit for Robinson, the negotiated contract, and swift payments. In effect, he further incriminated the generals and auditors for misleading him about the nature of the aircraft. Their families had better warn them of the dire consequences of Mafia-style omerta.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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August 24, 2011 at 2:51 am Leave a comment

Arroyos’ cedula evidence, notary records inexistent

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated August 22, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (15) View comments

Rep. Iggy Arroyo invokes “inter-parliamentary courtesy” to evade today’s Senate hearing on the chopper scam. Allegedly it’s unseemly for one chamber of Congress to summon members of the other to separate, co-equal proceedings.

Yet, it was Iggy who broke legislature civility to begin with. There was a very public Senate inquiry into the fraudulent sale in 2009 of his brother then-first gentleman Mike’s two used helicopters as brand new to the police. Mike even made hoopla of suing Senate witness Archibald Po for perjury, in testifying that he originally had bought five aircraft in 2004. Mike’s main evidence was a lease, not purchase, of five choppers by his LTA Inc., through its president Iggy, from Po’s LionAir. Badly for Mike, a STAR column exposed the “lease” as bogus.

And then Iggy discourteously interloped. Malingering in London, he had his lawyer twit Po for incriminating his brother. It was improper. Observing tradition he could have written the Senate to explain the lease. Instead he went to the media. It was the second time Iggy came to Mike’s rescue. The first was in 2003 when, not yet a congressman, he feigned to be the true owner of Mike’s “Jose Pidal” alias bank account. He did not show up at the Senate inquiry at the time either, crying right to privacy.

Having dove into the fray, Iggy politely was invited to confront Po under oath. Senators said he could bring proof of the P9.8-million lease — receipts, returned checks, etc. — to belie the accuser. Again uncivilly he chose not to write the Senate but, through his lawyer, invented illness. He also pictured his fellow-lawmakers to be biased against Mike.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee head Teofisto Guingona III could only shrug. Aside from Iggy’s “lease”, he pointed out, Mike in suing Po had given the court Senate transcripts and submissions three inches thick. In effect the brothers Arroyo are using Senate documents against Po, yet they have the audacity to call the senators prejudiced.

Both Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte advise Iggy voluntarily to appear today, for Mike’s own good. If he doesn’t, he and Mike lose by default the chance to clear their names.

The Senate physician will report today if Mike too is malingering. Based on this, Guingona said, the senators might cause his arrest or excuse him till he’s better. Whatever, the Senate may ask the court for a hold-departure order.

* * *

The STAR’s first blast last Monday at fakery in Iggy’s “lease” was about the notarization. Atty. Lope M. Velasco had notarized the contract on March 16, 2004. But the identifying cedula of LionAir’s Renato Sia — 10579800F issued in Pasay City — was dated April 2, 2004. How could Velasco have listed a cedula that Sia had yet to get two weeks later?

When the story broke Iggy through lawyer distributed to the press a “correction” by Velasco. Supposedly there was a typo: Sia’s cedula date should be March 2, not April 2, 2004. Why the entry was being rectified only seven years later, neither Velasco nor Iggy’s lawyer explained.

Meanwhile, Pasay treasurer’s office insiders aver that they never issued in 2004 any cedula of the series 10579800F. Senators must get a certification to that effect.

Worse, there’s no proof that the notarizing ever took place. For, on January 18, 2008, something happened. Velasco executed an oath that he had lost all his notarial records for 2004-2005, before he could submit it to the Makati regional trial court as required. Based on this, therefore, there was no way for Velasco to “correct” any 2004-2005 entry. He has no master file as basis. Mike and Iggy’s lease truly is counterfeit. Will Chief Justice Renato Corona deign to investigate this, since the Supreme Court is the maker of notary rules and keeper of its integrity?

Velasco’s “Affidavit of Loss” states that he was a commissioned Notary Public for Makati in January 2004-December 2005. In the first week of January 2006 he already had prepared to submit his Notary Registry to the Makati court. But his law office on 2118 Pasong Tamo corner dela Rosa Streets was broken into. Stolen was a box containing “my Law books, my said notarial books and documents … and office equipment,” he swore, “and remain missing un-recovered to this date.”

Velasco stated that his clerk had reported the incident to barangay authorities, but efforts to identify the burglars “proved fruitless.” He concluded: “The chances of finding my missing Notarial Registry and documents (and) office records now appear hopeless. I declare and certify the truth of the foregoing for whatever legal purpose same may serve.” Atty. Fidel Evano of Makati notarized the affidavit of Velasco, who then filed it with Feliciana C. Servidad, Makati court notary section.

Could Velasco’s signature have been forged in notarizing Mike and Iggy’s “lease”? This chopper scam inquiry is turning up more and more related scams.

Most damning of course are the inconsistencies of documents that the Arroyos themselves wave in court and the media. Like, the “lease”, dated March 16, 2004, lists the Robinson manufacturer serial numbers and government licenses of five helicopters. Customs records show that the aircraft arrived from California in three batches: on March 12, 17 and 24, 2004. Air Transport Office records show that the same were registered on March 16, 23, and 30, 2004. How could Mike and Iggy have divined on March 16 the serial and license numbers of units that had yet to be uncrated and registered?

Perhaps when they concoct an answer to that question, they will show up at the Senate.

* * *

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August 22, 2011 at 2:43 am Leave a comment

What charges await Mike, Iggy for fakery

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated August 19, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (27) View comments

It could be revenge — or resolve. But Egypt brought bed-ridden former president Hosni Mubarak and two sons to court in a cage, for trial for murder. In the Philippines the family that allegedly stole billions of pesos stays un-arraigned. They continue to sway public policy and opinion. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, sons Mikey and Dato, and brother-in-law Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo sit in Congress. Husband Mike reportedly sits on a multibillion-peso hoard concealed in several utilities. Publicists invoke Christian compassion for the ailing ex-President Gloria to shush investigators of plunder, poll fraud, and tax evasion. This gives the Arroyo men elbowroom to cover up such scams as the 2009 midnight falsified sale of two used helicopters to the police as brand new.

STAR readers, like most Filipinos, see through the subterfuge. They wish Gloria well in battling infection from an implanted shoulder brace. But they also discuss what to charge malingering Mike and Iggy with, for faking a lease to throw off the chopper probe.

Lawyers say:

(1) Perjury. The Revised Penal Code, Article 183, forbids untruthful statements, even if outside a court trial, but to an official rendering an oath.

In suing Archibald Po for false Senate testimony, Mike swore by his assertions. That is, that he never bought but his LTA Inc. merely leased five aircraft from Po’s LionAir in March 16-May 15, 2004. But from all indications the contract is bogus. It was notarized on March 16, 2004, but the cedula of Renato Sia, signatory for LionAir, was dated April 2, 2004. Iggy, signatory for LTA Inc., had no ID; only he, never Sia, signed all pages of the lease; there were no witnesses.

More damning, the starting date of the lease, March 16, 2004, contradicts official records that Mike himself presented. The lease detailed the Robinson manufacturer serial numbers and government license numbers of five helicopters. But Customs papers show that the aircraft arrived from America on March 12, 17, and 24, for clearance, assembly and test-flight. Air Transport Office certificates show that these were registered on March 16, 23 and 30. Yet incredibly, Mike and Iggy knew and listed the two sets of numbers even before the units were uncrated and formally registered.

Mike made a false statement under oath before two Pasay City prosecutors. A false statement made during preliminary investigation makes the complainant liable for perjury (People v. Bautista, C.A., 40 O.G. 2491, cited by Reyes, p.273).

Penalty: imprisonment from four months and one day, to two years and four months.

(2) Falsification of public document. Article 172 penalizes private persons for any of the acts of falsification under Article 171. Included is falsely causing it to appear that persons participated in an act.

Mike and Iggy made it look that LionAir loaned five aircraft to LTA Inc. Yet no lease was contracted since Mike secretly owns the units. Whoever uses or benefits from a falsified document is legally presumed to be the author (Serrano v. Court of Appeals, et al., 404 SCRA 639 [2003]). Here it’s Mike, who used and took advantage of the falsified lease.

Penalty: imprisonment from two years, four months and one day, to six years, plus fine of not more than P5,000.

(3) Use of falsified document. Under Article 172, an offender will be punished if he uses a document, that he knows to be falsified, to damage another.

Mike used the “lease” as evidence to hold Po criminally liable. Since he used the bogus document, he is presumed to have known the falsification (Civil Service Commission v. Sta. Ana, 386 SCRA 1 [2002]).

Penalty: imprisonment from four months and one day, to two years and four months, plus fine of not more than P3,750.

* * *

Several readers add another violation — of the Omnibus Election Code.

If indeed Iggy and LTA Inc. leased five aircraft, it was for Gloria’s 2004 presidential run. Yet the P9.8-million “lease” was not listed in her reports to the Comelec of campaign contributions and expenses. Eleven donors of P30 million to P7 million were declared; neither Iggy nor his LTA Inc. was among them. Of the total P101-million spending, P8.62 million — less than the P9.8-million “lease” — went to all types of land, water and air transport.

The Poll Synchronization Act of 1991 (R.A. 7166) decriminalized non-filing of campaign reports. Only administrative sanctions remain: P10,000-fine and bar from assuming office. Moreover, election offenses prescribe in six years; in this case, 2010. That clears Iggy, who never reported to the Comelec any contribution to Gloria. Still, Gloria swore by her Comelec submissions, so false entries could open her to charges of perjury and falsification, which prescribe in ten years.

Mike and Iggy are getting the suffering Gloria into trouble.

* * *

Still other readers suggest that the Senate look into the financial books of LTA Inc. For, the “lease” may be fake, but the family firm may have deducted the P9.8 million from its 2004 gross income. This could spell charges of tax evasion against its president, Iggy. (“Lessee” Iggy’s name does not appear as a passenger in any of the five aircraft flight logs since 2004. Whereas, Mike flew 16 times and Mikey 69 times in the two choppers alone sold to the police.)

All these cases arise from the fake lease alone. Separate are the fraud and conspiracy that the Senate has unearthed in the chopper switcheroo. Sir Walter Scott was so right in saying, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

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August 19, 2011 at 2:52 am Leave a comment

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