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Nationwide round-up (11/03/20)

nationwide round up 11 03 20 - Nationwide round-up (11/03/20)

VP election protest: SolGen says Supreme Court has no power to order special poll

THE SUPREME Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has no power to call for a special election to settle the election protest against Vice President Ma. Leonor G. Robredo, the Office of the Solicitor General said. “The Presidential Electoral Tribunal has no concomitant power to order the conduct of special elections,” Office of the Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said in a comment dated Nov. 2. He explained that the Constitution provides for the functions of the PET, but is “silent” on whether it has the power to call for a special election. He noted that such conduct appears to be beyond the high court’s mandate. The SolGen’s office and the Commission on Elections were asked by the court to comment on the plea of losing candidate Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to nullify the results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao. In the same comment, the SolGen said the PET does have authority to declare the annulment of elections or failure of elections without infringing upon the authority of Comelec. Mr. Marcos, who lost to Ms. Robredo in the May 2016 national elections by more than 260,000 votes, filed his electoral protest in June that year. The SolGen also asked the PET to immediately consider the immediate resolution of the protest. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Solon asks gov’t to extend suspension of Philippine-US VFA abrogation

A LAWMAKER called on the Duterte administration to extend the suspension of the abrogation of a bilateral defense agreement between the Philippines and the United States. Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Ruffino B. Biazon on Tuesday, presidential election day in the US, said a new White House administration may mean a change in the country’s foreign policy. He said extending the suspension of the Visiting Forces Agreement’s (VFA) abrogation could give the Philippines an opportunity to negotiate for better terms in the agreement. “Doing so would give the government ‘elbow room’ for a possible renegotiation depending on the outcome of United States presidential elections,” Mr. Biazon said in a statement. He added that extending the suspension would also allow time for the Supreme Court to act on the petition filed by the Philippine Senate to compel President Rodrigo R. Duterte to seek the Senate’s concurrence in terminating the VFA. The Senate in March filed a petition asking the high court to “render a decision declaring that the withdrawal from or termination of a treaty or international agreement that had previously been concurred in by the Senate requires the concurrence of two thirds of all the members of the Senate for the said withdrawal or termination to be valid and effective.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

More officials facing dismissal due to corruption, says Duterte

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte said more officials will face dismissal by the end of the year due to corruption activities. “The next round will be by December. Many will lose their jobs, many will be separated from government, many will face prosecution, and many will go to jail, iyan ang sabihin ko (that is what I am saying),” Mr. Duterte said during a televised meeting with Cabinet officials on typhoon Rolly updates on Monday. The President, who ordered a government-wide probe on corruption last week, said investigations and dismissals have already began with officials and employees from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), the Bureau of Immigration, and the Bureau of Customs. He cited that 20 have been removed from Customs while 13 were dismissed from PhilHealth. Investigations are ongoing for 44 from Immigration, 135 from Customs and eight from PhilHealth. — Gillian M. Cortez 

SC junks with finality plea to release Leonen’s SALN

marvic leonen - Nationwide round-up (11/03/20)

THE SUPREME Court upheld its decision rejecting a motion seeking to release the wealth records of a judicial official. The Supreme Court Public Information on Tuesday said the tribunal denied the Office of the Solicitor General’s motion, which asked for the reconsideration of an earlier court resolution denying the request for copies of Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen’s  Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) and ancillary documents and information. Aside from Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, private lawyer Lorenzo Gadon also asked the high court to disclose Mr. Leonen’s SALNs and other records “for purposes of preparing a quo warranto petition.” Both requests were denied on September 15. Both Messrs. Gadon and Calida were involved in the ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on the basis of her failure to file “a substantial number of SALNs” when she was a law professor at the state-run University of the Philippines. President Rodrigo R. Duterte, meanwhile, has broken a long tradition of presidents making their annual wealth submission public by failing to disclose his 2018 and 2019 SALNs. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

House Makabayan bloc members want separate Senate hearing on red-tagging

MEMBERS of the progressive Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives on Tuesday refused to attend a Senate probe into the alleged red-tagging perpetrated by top military officials. They asked the chamber to hold a separate hearing without Lt. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade for fear of further being accused as members of armed rebel groups. “We received a letter from former Rep. Neri Colmenares requesting that another hearing be held so he may be given an opportunity to attend, but without the presence of the members of the security sector, particularly Lt. Gen. Parlade,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, national defense and security committee chairman, said. Mr. Colmenares, former lawmaker and Bayan Muna chairperson, said in his letter, “It is best, if I may respectfully suggest, to hold a separate hearing to avoid a situation where the victims of red tagging are again victimized by Gen. Parlade’s imputation of a crime using witnesses who do not have personal knowledge of the alleged charges against said victims.” Other members of the Makabayan bloc were represented by lawyer Maneeka Asistol Sarza. The Gabriela Women’s party-list also notified the panel in a Nov. 3 letter that it will not participate in the hearing. Gabriel Rep. Arlene D. Brosas, for her part, asked the panel not to give the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), where Mr. Parlade is the spokesperson, a venue for red-tagging. “If there is any substantial evidence on the allegations being thrown at Gabriela Party-list and other progressive party-lists and organizations, then the so-called complainants can freely go to court,” she said in the letter.  Charmaine A. Tadalan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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