Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 05 December 2017

Lawmakers express frustration over 'uncooperative' SC clerk of court

IMPEACHMENT HEARING. House justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali presides the hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on December 6, 2017. DARREN LANGIT 

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MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House justice committee, including its chairman, barely hid their frustration over what they described as an uncooperative witness during the hearing on an impeachment case filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“You are just showing that you are not being very cooperative with this committee,” said Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, panel chairman, on Wednesday, December 6, as the committee resumed deliberations to determine probable cause in the complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno.


Umali was addressing Supreme Court Clerk of Court Felipa Anama, who was summoned to stand as witness to one of the issues being raised against Sereno."Kaya nga po hininhingi namin, tulungan 'nyo kami bumilis tayo (That's why we're asking you to help us speed up the proceeding)….Please help us....Please have a more open mind," he added.

Questioned by several lawmakers, Anama refused to confirm that it was Sereno who was the member-in-charge and therefore, the ponente, on Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s request to transfer Maute Group cases from Iligan City in Mindanao to Taguig City in Metro Manila.

Anama cited the rules of the court that prohibit her from divulging the ponente or member-in-charge of a case, or the justice who takes the lead in a particular case.

It’s the member-in-charge who eventually pens the decision of the High Court.

Citing the justice committee’s mandate as the impeachment committee, the lawmakers argued that Anama should already divulge the member-in-charge for the case. Besides, legislators, including Umali, pointed out, that the case had already been resolved.

Anama herself reiterated that the member-in-charge may only be revealed once the case is resolved. “Has the matter been resolved?” Umali asked.

Anama answered in the affirmative.

“Then why can you not reveal who the case went to?” said the committee chairman.

Anama still refused to reveal the member-in-charge in the case, pointing out that she only attended the hearing to submit documents that the committee had asked from her. Umali countered by saying Anama was also expected to clarify issues and answer questions.

At one point, Umali apparently got irritated at Anama and told her, "'Wag po tayong maging pilosopo dito (Don't be a smart aleck)," to which the SC employee quickly said, "I respect this committee."

Umali, his voice slighty raised, then told Anama that Sereno herself admitted that she was the member-in-charge, through her verified reply. (READ: How Sereno answered her impeachment complaint)

“If the Chief admitted that, there’s nothing I can do,” said Anama.

“We are trying to arrive at the facts and these are the facts that are admitted by the respondent herself. So please help us because you are in charge of the raffle,” said Umali.

The committee went on an hour-long break shortly after the heated discussion. –


‘Darker days ahead’ as CPP-NPA gets terrorist tag — militant solon

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate in a photo taken on Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo from the Facebook account of Bayan Muna)

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate sees more human rights violations with the Duterte administration declaring as terrorist organizations the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

Zarate, in a statement on Wednesday, said Duterte’s latest move would be an “abandonment of the peace process and an ominous signal of more violations of human rights.”

“Darker days are ahead considering that human rights is already taking a solid hit from the fascist campaigns of the government,” Zarate said.

“The proclamation means the Duterte administration’s abandonment of the peace process and the possible resolution of the largely socio-economic and political causes of the almost five-decade old armed conflict,” he said.

The lawmaker called branding Communist rebels as terrorists as a “US-inspired counter-insurgency campaign.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Duterte ended peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA and National Democratic Front (NDG) because these “engaged in acts of violence and hostilities” while the government “exerted our best efforts to accelerate the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement.”

READ: Duterte signs Proclamation No. 360 terminating peace talks with NPA / Duterte declares CPP, NPA as terrorist organizations

Duterte has decried attacks by NPA rebels that resulted in the death of soldiers even as government and the NDF negotiators met and talked in the Netherlands to end the decades of violence.

At one point, the NPA ordered its forces to attack government troops and caused the peace talks to break down in May 2017. The NPA was reacting to the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the siege of Islamic Maute-ISIS terrorists of Marawi City.

The order for the NPA to “carry out more tactical offensives” against the military was reportedly issued despite assurances by the government that the martial declaration was not against the CPP-NPA-NDF.

READ: Peace talks break down after communists order NPA to attack

Zarate noted that under more than 100 leaders and members of left-leaning groups have become victims of extrajudicial killings, “four massacres occurred, 20 instances of forced evacuations of Lumads and 17 bombings of aerial bombardment” have also been recorded.

He also hit the reported military food blockade against Lumad evacuees in Surigao del Sur as activists in the area are being branded as NPAs. /cbb


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