Opinion & Community

'Don't let Duterte's minions use you,' De Lima tells new state witness Ragos

DRUG CASES. Senator Leila De Lima wave to supporters as she arrives for her hearing on the case filed against her on the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison at the Muntinlupa RTC on October 13, 2017. Rappler file photo

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MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima called on her former subordinate, Rafael Ragos and another co-accused, former boyfriend Ronnie Dayan, to “listen to their conscience” and “not allow themselves to be used by Duterte’s minions.”

De Lima made the statement on Saturday, November 18, days after the Department of Justice dropped the charges against Ragos, former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Ragos will now turn witness against De Lima and Dayan.

Ragos and Dayan allegedly collected grease money from convicts inside the New Bilibid Prison to fund De Lima’s senatorial campaign. The BuCor and Bilibid are both under the DOJ, which De Lima headed for over 5 years under the previous administration.

In a statement, De Lima said Ragos turning witness is “suspicious and fishy,” as if there was a “done deal…for more lies.”

Alam ko na alam nila [Ragos and Dayan] na inosente ako, at gawa-gawa lang ang mga kaso laban sa akin. Pakinggan sana nila ang kanilang konsensiya. Magpakatotoo sila. Magpakalalaki sila. Huwag na silang magsinungaling. Huwag silang magpagamit sa mga kampon ni Duterte,” said the senator.

(I know that Ragos and Dayan know I am innocent, that these cases against me are all made up. I hope they listen to their conscience. They should be true to themselves. They should man up. They should not lie. They shouldn't let themselves be used by Duterte’s minions.)

De Lima is in jail for illegal drug charges filed before a Muntinlupa court.

Ragos and other witnesses for the prosecution, some of them Bilibid convicts, had earlier claimed that they gave and collected money for De Lima in 2012, allegedly to fund her senatorial bid. De Lima’s camp had rejected this claim. 

De Lima was – and continues to be – among Duterte’s loudest critics. She and her allies have repeatedly said that the the allegations against her are all false, and intended to silence her. (READ: The public trial of Leila de Lima)

A neophyte senator, De Lima led a Senate probe into allegations of extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s bloody drug war. She was kicked out as chairman of the Senate justice committee. Senator Richard Gordon later took on the post and released a report saying that neither Duterte not the state had a hand in apparent summary killings in the drug war. – Rappler.com


A year after Marcos burial, minority senators honor protesters as 'true heroes'

TRUE HEROES'. Protesters against the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani converge to voice their collective outrage. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippine – A year after former president Ferdinand Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, minority senators honored the "true heroes" who expressed outrage against the hero’s burial of the late dictator.

“On this day, let us choose to remember not the burial but the people who rose to the call: protesters who showed a strong sense of hope, pride, and solidarity,” the senators said in a statement on Saturday, November 18. (READ: TIMELINE: The Marcos burial controversy)


They are Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 18, 2016, a week after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of his hero's burial. The private burial rites were done in secret, as requested by the family, sparking condemnation from groups and personalities opposed to the hero's burial. (READ: Marcos a thief till the end, say senators

The secret burial triggered nationwide protests where "true heroes" converged, the minority senators said on Saturday. (IN PHOTOS, VIDEOS: A night of rage, camaraderie, purpose)

"While a false hero was being buried at the Heroes' Cemetery, true heroes were rising to the challenge and making their voices heard. All across the country, we saw the power of a people who never forgot the truth about this dictator. Crowds numbering in the thousands gathered to condemn the disrespect and utter shamelessness of the secret funeral," they said. – Rappler.com


Negros Occidental town suspends classes as Mount Kanlaon emits sulfur fumes

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Classes were suspended in La Castellana town here on Friday, November 17, after Mount Kanlaon emitted sulfur fumes. 

Mount Kanlaon remained on Alert Level 2, or in “moderate level of unrest.”


On November 15, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status of Mount Kanlaon from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 after it recorded 279 volcanic earthquakes in the last 24 hours. 

The following day, on Thursday, Phivolcs recorded 210 volcanic earthquakes for 24 hours. 

Phivolcs, in its Friday advisory, said it only monitored 10 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours. 

However, residents in La Castellana town complained about the odor coming from the active volcano.

This prompted La Castellana Mayor Rhumyla Mangilimutan to order the suspension of classes in the 6 barangays, which were in the danger zones. These are Barangays Sag-ang, Mansalanao, Cabagnaan, Biaknabato, Masulog, and Puso. 

The mayor said classes suspension in other barangays were up to the discretion of the principal. 

She added the odor was gone Friday afternoon. 

Mangilimutan said the residents, especially in the danger zones, were already informed about the situation. 

The barangay leaders and the community-based disaster councils were also told to prepare and be on alert, she added.

She said school officials were also advised to be ready as their institutions will be utilized as evacuation centers. 

The mayor also said that food packs were being readied. 

For his part, Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, head of Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Division, said Phivolcs has checked the area, but has yet to release its findings. 

Caelian said even if the volcano's activities have dropped, it remained under Alert Level 2.

He explained only Phivolcs can lower its alert status, "until such time the volcano is stabilized based on their own parameters." 

Moreover, he said they coordinated with the Mount Kanlaon National Park superintendent for monitoring of the volcano’s activities. 

"We strengthen our communication. Whatever problems they encounter on the ground, we ask them to relay the information right away because they are within the proximity of the volcano," he said. 

He also appealed to the public to be careful when sharing information especially online about Mount Kanlaon as not to cause panic. 

He reminded the public to always verify with the right agencies or authorities whatever information they receive. 

Local government units in the province had already prepared a comprehensive contingency plan in case there will be major eruption. 

Mount Kanlaon is the highest point in the Visayas at 2,465 meters (8,087 feet) above sea level. It straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. – Rappler.com


San Beda sweeps LPU to retain NCAA crown

Wikicommons file
The San Beda Red Lions clinched their second straight NCAA championship after sweeping the LPU Pirates in the best-of-three finals on Thursday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Red Lions defeated the Pirates in Game Two, 92-82, to successfully defend their title and hoist their 21st basketball crown, the most in league history.

Robert Bolick scored 18 points, nine of which came in the pivotal fourth quarter where he knocked down crucial baskets to deliver the victory to San Beda.

Donald Tankoua registered 17 points and 17 rebounds in the title-clinching game to earn Finals MVP honors. He averaged 22 points and 18.5 rebounds in the series.

The Red Lions ended the game on a 19-6 run, with Bolick knocking down the dagger triple with 50 seconds left to take the fight out of the Pirates.

League MVP CJ Perez tallied 22 points and four rebounds but couldn’t lift LPU to even a single win in the finals. The Pirates had swept all of the 18 games in the elimination round before going winless in the title series.

Kia trades LA Revilla to Phoenix after blasting Picanto’s controversial trade

The Kia Picanto has decided to part ways with top guard LA Revilla who earlier questioned the team’s decision to give away the No.1 pick in this year’s draft.

The Picanto sent Revilla to the Phoenix Fuel Masters in exchange for rookie Jayson Grimaldo and a 2018 second-round draft pick.

The deal was first reported by Gerry Ramos of Spin.ph on Wednesday.

In an interview with Nelson Beltran of Philippine Star, team executive Bobby Rosales expressed “disappointment” with Revilla, whom he regarded as the “face of Kia”, after the guard posted a tweet blasting the Picanto for giving up the No.1 pick to powerhouse San Miguel Beermen in a controversial trade.

Revilla’s tweet, which has been taken down, read: “Kung magpapalusot man lang sana ginandahan niyo na ang rason. Hindi talaga eh. Bagsak kayo sigurado kung may lie detector.”

In the deal, Kia received three seldom-used SMB players and a future pick. The Beermen used the No.1 pick to nab Filipino-German center Chrsitian Standhardinger in this year’s draft.

Kia defended the head-scratching trade, deeming it as necessary in its shift to an “unconventional and positionless” style of play.

Revilla, who made the All-Star last year, averaged 6.5 points, 3.6 boards and 5.1 assists in his last conference with Kia.

5 surfers emerge victorious in Lanuza Surfing Festival

Photo by Michael Eijansantos
LANUZA, Surigao Del Sur– Neil Sanchez (Baler), Mark Aguila (Baler), Daisy Valdez (La Union), Nilbie Blancada (Siargao) and Gabriel Lerog (Siargao) came out victorious in the 15th Lanuza Surfing Festival, the second leg of the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour.

Sanchez, 19, from Baler claimed the Men’s Shortboard title in a 30-minute duel against current PSCT rank 1 Philmar Alipayo. Sanchez built his momentum all week by practicing and observing the best possible position in Doot Poktoy where the waves were consistent, giving him the advantage to execute his arsenal of vertical snaps and aerials.

Sanchez scored seven during the early minutes of the finals when he landed two 360 aerials on a single wave which gave him a good headstart. He then went after another high scoring wave and landed another 360 aerial. The judges rewarded Sanchez an 8.0 score which sealed his victory over Alipayo.

“Sa umpisa palang binigay ko na ‘yung best ko. Nakalamang ako ng malaking puntos kasi maganda ‘yung bigay ng mga alon. ‘Yung gitna lang ‘yung talagang pinuwestuhan ko kahit na alam ko mawawala ‘yung priority kasi hindi dun ‘yung peak ng alon pero kasi maganda ‘yung wall dun sa may gitna. Noong na-perfect ko ‘yung pag-land sa dalawang aerial, sobrang saya ko. Doon palang nagkaroon na ko ng kumpyansa na may chance ako manalo,” Sanchez said.

PSCT Siargao leg Champion and current #1 Philmar Alipayo gave epic exchanges of maneuvers with Sanchez. Alipayo needed an 8.35 score to take the lead but failed to land his aerials to get the scores he needed to advance.

In the Men’s Longboard Division, Mark Aguila from Baler outscored Loynex Ruina, who took the second place, as well as Benito Nerida and Jeff Dela Torre, both from La Union, for third place.

Aguila showcased his classic longboarding style and was able to execute hang fives and hang tens flawlessly. Aguila posted an 8.0 score during the early minutes, the highest average score in his division.

In the Women’s Longboard Division, Daisy Valdez retained her crown as the undisputed longboard champion in Lanuza for years and rose above Maricel Pajares as well as Ikit and Aping Agudo from Siargao. Daisy managed to use her knowledge and experience of the surf spot, having competed in Lanuza for many years.

The Women’s Shortboard Division was dominated by Nilbie Blancada and claimed her victory against Dianne Nogalo, Jolina Uriarte and Pinky Alipayo, all from Siargao. The young wahines did not hold back against the multi-awarded 2016 Asian Champion, which in return became a learning experience for them, having Blancada as their main surfing inspiration.

The Grommets (16 & under) put up a great battle. Siargao power grom Gabriel Lerog took the early lead with snaps and cutbacks, claiming his best wave score of 6.25. Christian Araquel took the second place followed by Aram Laudes and John Nogalo for the equal third.

At 14 years of age, Lerog is considered to be one of the most promising surf athletes from Siargao. He got qualified to compete at this year’s WSL Qualifying Series in Siargao last month. From there, he adapted quickly and showed a lot of improvements in his surfing skills.

House panel invites Sereno to attend Nov 22 hearing of impeach raps vs her

Chief Justice Sereno. PHILSTAR file photograph
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had been invited to attend the hearing of the House Committee on Justice on the impeachment complaint against her.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairperson of the committee, said the panel had sent Sereno an invitation for the November 22 hearing.

The hearing will discuss if there is probable cause to pursue the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon.

The committee members are also expected to discuss if Sereno would be allowed to be represented by legal counsels. Sereno’s lawyers have twice written the justice panel on the matter.

Umali earlier said that only Sereno would be allowed to speak during the proceedings.


DOH chief says ‘it is now all systems go’ for distribution of contraceptives

Philstar/Edd Gumban file photo of women clamoring for the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law
MANILA, Philippines — The Roman Catholic-majority Philippines will re-allow the use of contraceptive implants after certifying 51 drugs and devices safe and not the cause of abortions, the health department announced on Thursday.

Congress passed a law allowing contraceptive devices in 2012 but the Supreme Court imposed a restraining order in 2015 after bishops said some drugs and devices caused abortions.

Abortion, divorce and same-sex union are not allowed in the Philippines and some lawmakers oppose artificial methods of family planning. Pills and condoms are sold freely.

“With the Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of an advisory declaring all of the 51 contraceptive products … cannot cause abortion, it is now all systems go for the Department of Health to fully implement the law,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters.




Lawyers file sedition raps vs Trillanes over senator’s call to ‘kill’ Duterte

File photos of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (from Philstar) and President Rodrigo Duterte (from Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines — A group of lawyers led by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras on Thursday file a criminal complaint before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s office against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for allegedly inciting rebellious acts against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In their 15-page complaint-affidavit filed by lawyer Manuelito Luna, who represented the group of Paras, who is also currently a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), cited the statements made by Trillanes against Duterte in his privilege speech at the Senate last October 3, that soldiers may shoot the President upon the latter’s wish if the allegations of hidden wealth would be proven.

The lawyers are formally accusing Trillanes of inciting to sedition (Article 142, Revised Penal Code or RPC), proposing to commit coup d’etat (Article 136, RPC), and graft (Section 3(e), Republic Act 3019).

During his privilege speech, the lawmaker made statements about the alleged millions of pesos of ill-gotten wealth of Duterte: “Kung makikita ‘to ng mga sundalo, M60 machine gun ang gagamitin sa ‘yo. Marami-rami ito, maubos magazine kung PHP40 million hinahanap mo, Mr. Duterte (If the soldiers could see this, they will use an M60 machine gun on you. These are many. The magazines will be emptied if you’re looking for PHP40 million, Mr. Duterte).”

“Trillanes not only repeatedly uttered seditious words or speeches (Art. 142, RPC) and unabatedly circulated scurrilous libels against the President (Art. 142, RPC), which tend to disturb the public peace, but also repeatedly incited others to inflict any hate or revenge upon his person (Art. 142, in relation to Art. 139 (3), RPC,” read the complaint.

In their complaint, the lawyers asked city prosecutors to launch a preliminary investigation and conduct proper proceedings and find probable cause to indict Trillanes and other unidentified personalities of such offenses.

“Trillanes not only repeatedly uttered seditious words or speeches and unabatedly circulated scurrilous libels against the President, which tend to disturb the public peace, but also repeatedly incited others to inflict any hate or revenge,” the complaint stated.

The lawyers insisted that Trillanes “committed conspiracy or proposal to commit coup d’etat” for encouraging the military to rise up in arms against the President.

Moreover, the complainants accused Trillanes of causing undue injury against the Duterte administration “through evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

“(This is) for irresponsibly and recklessly and continuously accusing sans evidence, that the President is keeping over PHP2 billion in bank accounts and or amassing illegally-acquired wealth,” they claimed.

Trillanes is insisting on the evidence consisting of bank transaction records alleged to have been sourced from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), despite the AMLC’s disclaimer that the documents did not come from them.

The purported bank transaction documents, which Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang also claimed he is in possession of, was disavowed by the AMLC.

The lawyers also took to task Trillanes’ record of major involvements in notable coups d’etat during the Arroyo administration.

For his involvements in these incidents, Trillanes’ assurance that yellow-oriented group TindigPilipinas’ nationwide signature drive calling on Duterte to sign a waiver for his bank records appear to lack credibility, the complaint stated.

Though Trillanes assured the petition-signing drive is not a destabilization attempt, the complainants said the lawmaker “lacks credibility given his record of major involvement in coups d’etat or destabilization attempts” particularly during the administration of former President and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The complainants cited the senator’s record of major involvements in coups d’etat during the Arroyo administration – Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the Marine standoff last February 2006 and the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.

Trillanes and other members of Magdalo soldiers were charged with coup d’etat over the said incidents, but they were cleared after being granted amnesty by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.

Aside from Paras, the complainants include lawyers Glenn Chong, Nasser Marohomsalic, Nestor Ifurung, Eligio Mallari, Eduardo Bringas, and Louise Biraogo.

Sought for a comment, Trillanes called the VACC “Duterte minions” who were only trying to divert his attention.

However, he said that he remained “focused” on exposing the President’s involvement in murders, corruption and secret bank accounts, and Davao City Vice Mayor and presidential son Paolo Duterte’s involvement in the PHP6.4 billion shabu shipment. — With reports from Azer Parrocha/ PNA



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