WHAT WENT BEFORE: The Lavish lifestyle of Jeane Napoles

In 2013, following reports on the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles, photos of the lavish lifestyle of her youngest daughter Jeane—including her expensive jewelry, designer shoes and handbags and Porsche cars—circulated on the internet, causing public uproar.

The scam prompted the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to investigate whether the elder Napoles had paid taxes on her reported properties.

In October 2013, the BIR filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) a tax evasion complaint against Jeane for not declaring income for properties she had purchased and registered in her name, including a unit in Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles, California.

The BIR sued Jeane for P32.06 million in tax liability, inclusive of interests and surcharges, broken down into P31.38 million in 2011 and P680,000 in 2012.

Among the properties was a Ritz Carlton unit acquired in 2011 for P54.73 million and a farm lot in Bayambang, Pangasinan, where she had a 1/9th share and which was purchased in 2012 for P1.49 million.

In September 2014, the DOJ recommended the filing of charges against Jeane for evading payment of P17.9 million in taxes due in 2011 and 2012.

In May and July 2015, Jeane declined to enter a plea at her arraignment in the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA).

In February, the CTA junked the tax protest of the younger Napoles after her camp failed to show up for pretrial for a third time.

Jeane asked the CTA Second Division to set aside its dismissal of her petition for a judicial review of the P40.03-million tax assessment against her.

The tax assessment was the basis of the tax evasion case filed against her in the court’s Third Division. A favorable ruling from the Second Division would help in the case.

The court dismissed her petition for judicial review on Feb. 16, when her lawyer Ian Encarnacion failed to show up in court.

When they appealed the dismissal in March, Jeane’s lawyers sought a suspension of the proceedings pending the resolution of the tax evasion in the Third Division.

This riled the Second Division, which chided Jeane on April 10 for seeking to revive the petition for review only to ask for its suspension and cause more delays.

In a petition for judicial review, the younger Napoles argued that the BIR erred in its tax assessment for 2011 and 2012, because, as a foreign student in the United States, she was not allowed to work and earn income.

She said her apartment at the Ritz Carlton was part of the allowances given by her parents.

On June 13, in her “second motion for new trial,” Jeane said the case should be retried because the BIR under the Duterte administration was including her condo unit at Ritz Carlton as her mother’s taxable property.

On June 21, the CTA Second Division said it would no longer proceed with Jeane’s petition questioning the basis of the charges against her.

The court rejected the motion that the new evidence her camp wanted to present was a ground to reopen the case and that it could not entertain the new evidence of the defense since the case did not move to the trial stage.

In August, the CTA said it would proceed with the trial of Jeane for tax evasion despite the BIR decision to impose the tax on her Ritz Carlton unit on her mother who gave the property as a gift to her daughter. —MARIELLE MEDINA, INQUIRER RESEARCH


Singson refutes alleged right-of-way scam under Aquino admin

HEARING. Former DPWH secretary Rogelio Singson attends the Senate probe into the alleged right-of-way scam. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – In front of the main accuser Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Rogelio Singson refuted the existence of the road right-of-way scam under the Aquino administration.

Singson also denied getting profits from the supposed controversy, as accused by alleged whistleblower Roberto Catapang Jr.

“Let me say I did not profit or gained anything from these land claims as accused by Secretary Aguirre. There’s no P8.7 billion paid in General Santos,” he said in a Senate hearing on Monday, December 11.

“I was not a corrupt secretary and definitely not a plunderer,” je said.

Aguirre, using Catapang’s alleged knowledge on the matter, accused Singson and former Budget secretary Florencio Abad of benefitting from the scam. He also accused Eldon Cruz, the brother-in-law of former president Benigno Aquino III, of endorsing payment of claims to supposedly fake beneficiaries. Abad and Cruz did not attend the hearing.

Singson also disputed alleged letters of Cruz that were earlier shown in a DOJ presscon. He also cleared Aquino’s eldest sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz from the controversy.

“[These] are fake and spurious letters because I myself verified these letters,” the former public works chief said.

Inaccuracies in witness' claims

In his opening speech, Singson also pointed out the inconsistences in the claims against the Aquino administration.

Contrary to the claims of the witness, he said the Aquino government only paid a total of P2.209 billion from 2010 to 2016 for region 12, including General Santos City,

He also said the supposed questionable road projects in the city started in the 1990s and that the titles were from 2003. He also said that the claims for the payment were filed in 2007 and 2009, before the Aquino administration took over in June 30, 2010.

“These were all done before 2010. Since I took over July 2010, we strictly followed procedure for validation and valuation, infrastructure right of way claim as contained in Department Order 34-series of 2007,” he said.

Singson said he ordered the suspension of land claims in 2012 as he found it questionable that the region had the highest payment claims. He ordered the revalidation of titles, in coordination with the Land Registration Authority central and region 12 offices. The DPWH also asked the Commission on Audit to do financial and legal audit and claims in the region.

“No payments were made in 2012. We just resumed payment March 2013 after we were satisfied with the validity and authenticity of the claims based on the supporting titles from the LRA," the former official said.

"So again, from our side, we respect and we only pay on the basis of validated, verified titles from LRA. Wala kaming kinalaman sa lakaran dun sa mga sindikato for them to produce the title,” he said. – Rappler.com


Ona blames Garin for dengue vaccine fiasco

Enrique Onam and Janette Garin

Former Health Secretary Enrique Ona on Sunday said that his successor at the Department of Health (DOH) was “solely responsible” for the dengue immunization program using Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia vaccine.

“In the light of the Sanofi Pasteur advisory on the use of the antidengue vaccine Dengvaxia, the leadership that took over the DOH after I left in Dec. 20, 2014, is solely responsible for all the decisions that has resulted in what is becoming to be a major health nightmare in the country today,” Ona said in a statement.

His successor, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, on Friday traced the Dengvaxia mess to the time of Ona at the DOH.

“Talks about the vaccine started during the time of Secretary Ona. In 2014, I think June or July, he already announced that we would be having the vaccine by 2015. He said the department was contemplating putting it [on] the public health program,” Garin said in an interview with ANC.

Garin’s time
The DOH launched the immunization drive using Dengvaxia during Garin’s time.

But on Dec. 1, the DOH halted the P3.5-billion program after Sanofi announced that Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms in vaccinated people who had not been previously infected.

More than 700,000 schoolchildren have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the DOH.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration suspended Sanofi’s license to sell Dengvaxia in the Philippines until the company could comply with local regulations.

The good government committee of the House of Representatives and the blue ribbon and health committees of the Senate open separate inquiries into the fiasco this week.

Ona was secretary of health from June 2010 to December 2014.

Sanofi briefing
“During this period, the Sanofi Pasteur Pharma group would request a briefing for me on the status of the clinical trial of their antidengue vaccine being tested (phase 3 trial) in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, as well as several countries in South America. This occurred almost annually during my term as secretary,” Ona said.

It was of great interest to him, he said, since dengue fever was not only rampant in the Philippines, appearing almost all year round, and was also being used as one of the “measures of our public health performance” by the public.

“I had high hopes, like many others, that the vaccine being developed would eventually control this mosquito-borne disease that afflicts more than 100,000 Filipinos annually and scares so many foreign visitors and tourists,” Ona said.

Unfortunately, he added, during all this time and up to the end of his term, the Sanofi staff, though optimistic, never claimed that the vaccine was ready for general use.

Ona said Sanofi gave him only a vague projection of the time when it might be ready for launching.

“I recall in more than one occasion that I mentioned in passing to then President (Benigno) Aquino of a possible dengue vaccine that may be ready ‘anytime soon,’” he said.

“However, we did not allocate any budget for dengue vaccine for 2016 since I considered this vaccine as still at its ‘developmental stage’ and was undergoing further observation and evaluation,” he said.

Complex efficacy profile
Ona said he was already out of the government in 2016 when he first heard that the DOH was going to purchase Dengvaxia for immunization of children over 9 years old.

“And allocating several billion pesos, an amount more than the entire budget for all other vaccines being procured by the DOH annually,” he added.

“It may be relevant … to cite an article at one of the world’s most respected and credible journals, the New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 24, 2015, issue, which concluded: the efficacy profile at 25 months of disease surveillance was complex—efficacy caused by serotype 2 ranged from 67-80 percent and lower still for those who were seronegative at baseline,” Ona said.

He said the report came with an accompanying editorial titled “A Candidate Dengue Vaccine Walks a Tightrope” by Cameron P. Simmons.

“If read by any expert in infectious diseases or public health, it would have made one wait for more follow-up studies to further evaluate the safety and efficacy, sans cost. In short, ‘value for money,’ so essential in today’s health environment,” he added.

Garin was unavailable for comment on Sunday. A spokesperson for Garin said the former health secretary was confined in a private hospital in Tacloban City with acute appendicitis.

Nancy Almasco, the spokesperson, said Garin would ask her doctors to delay her operation so she could attend the opening hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy at the House of Representatives.

The House committee on good government will hold Sanofi liable for allegedly misrepresenting Dengvaxia’s side effects because the French pharmaceutical giant disclosed the risks only in late November, months after the congressional inquiry into the vaccine’s safety, Rep. Johnny Pimentel, the panel’s chair, said on Sunday.

“During our hearing, they never disclosed this,” Pimentel said in an interview on dzBB radio.

“We will hold Sanofi accountable for this erroneous representation because during the hearing, they said it was safe. But now, it’s another thing,” he said.

Pimentel recalled that Sanofi representatives, during the hearings that lasted from Nov. 29, 2016, to July 26 this year, testified about the safety of Dengvaxia.

At the time, Sanofi Pasteur’s regional dengue expert Anh Wartel played down the risks, saying “the concerns expressed in the background are based upon ‘what-if’ conjectures.”

It was only on Nov. 29 that Sanofi announced that the vaccine could heighten the risk of illness for people who had not been exposed to dengue prior to immunization.

No committee report
Pimentel raised the possibility that Sanofi representatives “deliberately” misled the congressional inquiry, or that they were “misinformed.”

He said it was a “blessing in disguise” that the good government and health committees had not produced a committee report yet, especially since the draft stated that “Dengvaxia is safe to use.”

“If we had rendered the committee report, we could have absolved Sanofi of responsibility, because they testified that it was safe to use,” he said.

In a separate statement, Pimentel said the committees’ initial review pointed to “unwarranted haste” in getting Dengvaxia approved for use on Filipino children and adopting an aggressive inoculation program using the world’s first licensed dengue vaccine.

“Many of us [on] the committee were in fact dumbfounded by the excessive rush to allow the use of the vaccine and to get the program going,” he said.

“Questions were raised as to why we had to be the first country in the world to launch in April 2016 a public inoculation plan against dengue, when the [Department of Health] could have simply waited for the results of further studies [on] the safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia,” he added.

The House inquiry reopens on Wednesday afternoon. Pimentel said he did not know if Garin would be able to appear at the hearing if she would be operated on for appendicitis.

Meanwhile, the DOH reminded the public that they should not shun other vaccines under the government’s Expanded Program on Immunization.

“Other vaccines are clearly beneficial. [We] continue to recommend them,” Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle said. —WITH A REPORT FROM JOEY A. GABIETA


Roque: ‘Hypocrites’ De Lima, Gascon signed AO on EJKs

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / JOAN BONDOC

Malacañang on Monday called Senator Leila de Lima and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Chito Gascon “hypocrites” for insisting that drug users killed in the government’s war on drugs were victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reminded de Lima and Gascon of Administrative Order No. 35 (AO 35) adopted during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III.

The President’s spokesperson pointed out that De Lima and Gascon signed A0 35 which does not include drug pushers, drug users and other common criminals as probable victims of EJKs.
De Lima was then secretary of Justice while Gascon was undersecretary for political affairs of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs.

Roque said it was high time for de Lima and Gascon to invoke AO 35 as former members of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.

“In the said order, the two, among other signatories of the AO, defined extra-legal killings (ELKs) or extra-judicial killings (EJKs) as killings wherein the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political, environmental, agrarian, labor, or similar causes; or an advocate of these causes; or a media practitioner; or person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so,” Roque said in a statement.

Roque said the order stated that “victim was targeted and killed because of the actual or perceived membership, advocacy, or profession.”

“The person/s responsible for the killing is a state agent or non-state agent; and the method and circumstances of attack reveal a deliberate intent to kill,” he said.

“Moreover, they added that for purposes of the focused mandate of AO No. 35, killings related to common criminals and/or the perpetration of their crimes shall be addressed by other appropriate, mechanisms within the justice system,” he added.

Roque then questioned why de Lima and Gascon were now calling that those drugs users and pushers who died under the government’s drug war were victims of EJKs.

“How is it now that when drug pushers or users die, Senator De Lima and Chairman Gascon insist that these are EJKs?” he said.

“Their sudden about-face is baffling given that these drug pushers and users are not members or affiliated with any political, environmental, agrarian, or labor organization. These drug pushers or users are likewise not journalists,” he added.

If the two believed then that the AO they adopted was correct and in accordance with the law, Roque said “they should be the first to defend the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs because the AO No. 35 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III is correct.”

“But if they believe today that the reported deaths in the war on drugs are EJKs, they should also admit to the nation and to the world that what they did during the Aquino administration was wrong and that Aquino only signed AO No. 35 so that his administration would not be blamed for the deaths of drug pushers and users during his presidency,” he said.

The Palace official said it was now time to expose the hypocrisies of de Lima and Gascon.

“It is high time that the hypocrisies of Senator De Lima and Chairman Gascon are exposed in favor of the truth. The Filipino people deserve no less,” he said. /cbb


House expects to get on Monday Duterte’s request to extend martial law

President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo by KING RODRIGUEZ / Presidential Photographers Division)

President Rodrigo Duterte will ask Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year before both houses adjourn for their Christmas recess on Friday.

House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea informed him that Mr. Duterte had already signed the request and the letter is expected to be delivered on Monday.

Medialdea confirmed to reporters the signing of the request which seeks an extension of martial law in Mindanao for an entire year after the original extension expires on Dec. 31.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which originally scheduled their last day of session for Dec. 13, will only have until Dec 15. to jointly vote on the extension.

“I, of course, relayed it first to the Speaker who said we will discuss it tomorrow. We will have to discuss it with our Senate counterparts,” Fariñas said.

The House leader said the process for the reextension will be the same as when Congress approved the first extension last July 22.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said on Friday that he expected the Palace to seek an extension and would immediately take up the matter with other senators when he receives the request.

Mr. Duterte sought the martial law extension after the military said it needed to sustain the military’s “momentum” against terror groups that have started regrouping after their defeat in Marawi City.

“Not [extending martial law] will allow them to regroup again and, as you know, there have been reports that they are recruiting already in the Lanao area,” said Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.

‘Credible threat’

“So I think this will help curb their activities on the ground,” Andolong said, noting there is a “credible threat” that the military needs to address in Mindanao.

Andolong did not elaborate on the “credible threat,” but Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military is monitoring the Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao (Islamic State in Lanao) group and their foreign allies.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also said the Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao group, which is connected to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, had been planning to attack another city in the country.

Speaking in a radio interview on Sunday morning, Andanar also cited unclarified intelligence reports about terror groups that are supposedly stepping up their recruitment activities.

In justifying the extension of martial law, Andolong said it would also help in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Marawi City and other war-torn areas.

“How do we continue the rebuilding if we cannot secure the area? Our engineers might be ambushed,” Andolong said, citing the usual security threats in conflict areas.

Aside from the Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao, Padilla said there could also be attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, Lanao and Cotabato, and the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

In addition to the jihadists, Padilla said the military also needed to guard against attacks by communist rebels who have, in the past, attacked construction activities in Mindanao.

65% increase in attacks

Padilla said there had been a 65-percent increase in attacks perpetrated by communist rebels in Eastern and Western Mindanao from January to November this year.

The martial law proclamation over Mindanao is set to expire on Dec. 31, unless extended by Congress. —With reports from Nikko Dizon


‘Lodi’ vs ‘lies’: Art-media group to challenge Duterte info machine


The founding members of “Lodi” or Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity give their own version of the fist-pump—as though to counter President Duterte’s signature pose—during the group’s launch in Quezon City on Friday.—NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Citing threats to freedom of expression and the “disinformation campaigns” waged by forces funded by taxpayers money, a group of artists, writers, journalists and media workers has served notice to the Duterte administration of their plan to be a “Lodi.”

The term means “idol” in today’s youth lingo, but it also stands for “Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity” — an arts and media alliance that is expected to scrutinize or fact-check pronouncements from Mr. Duterte, his aides or his supporters who command an online following.

“Duterte himself has led the assault, aided by a well-oiled machinery of disinformation peddlers and digital storm troopers,” the group said in a statement marking their launch in Quezon City on Friday.

‘Well-funded army’

Among its founding members are award-winning film director Joel Lamangan, fellow filmmaker Sari Dalena, journalist Inday Espina Varona, blogger Tonyo Cruz, screenwriter Bonifacio Ilagan and theater actress Mae Paner, aka “Juana Change.”

Lodi noted that the President’s attacks on media companies whom he had accused of unfair reportage, for example, have been “amplified by a well-funded social media army, in part underwritten by taxpayers.”

“It is not enough to call for a halt to government-led disinformation campaigns,” the group said. “We will expose these deceptions.”

In a press conference, Lamangan said the “lies” being spread under the current administration were proving to be even worse than what the Marcos dictatorship used to keep itself in power, largely because of the internet and social media.

Brocka’s words

“Lies now are more widespread,” said Lamangan, an activist who was accused of subversion, jailed for four years, and sentenced to die by firing squad under martial law. “So we must begin to be a lodi, or an idol, of the youth in standing up for the truth.”

“Now is the time to fight all forms of suppression and bravely heed the words of the late director Lino Brocka that ‘the artist is also a public person,’” Lamangan said.

Paner said the times call for artists “to engage those who are silent” on the issues hounding the Duterte administration, particularly the human rights violations and the disregard for due process in the antidrug campaign.

“My art is my protection, my right, and my duty,” said Paner, who has mounted a play titled “Tao Po” based on the stories of drug war victims. “The more I am out there, the more I do what I feel is my right, the more protected I feel.”

Sona protest

Paner was earlier threatened with criminal charges from the Armed Forces of the Philippines after she staged a protest wearing a military uniform in July, in time for Mr. Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Cruz, who serves as the group’s spokesperson, added: “The people, artists and writers should consider if the President is in favor of our freedom to think, if he is in favor of (giving) freedom to film directors, writers and bloggers.”

Varona said the new alliance does not intend to silence those who hold views different from theirs, but “to combat the lies and any attempt to intimidate the people.”

The group is expected to join the rally marking International Human Rights Day at Bonifacio Shrine in Manila on Sunday.


When kids don’t know they are victims of sexual abuse

ABUSE. Children as young as 12 years old fall victim to online sex trafficking. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippines – Kim’s* big smile and hearty laughter are sources of comfort at the center she shares with fellow victims of abuse. She is the resident jester in a place where young girls are striving to rebuild their lives one day at a time.

Her sunny disposition belies her dark past. When Kim was 13, her neighbor persuaded her to work for him. She was promised a salary and free education in exchange for minimal work where she would only look at the camera and say hi. Kim wanted to help her parents so she agreed. 


Her first few sessions turned out to be that way. But 3 months into the job, things got worse.

“‘Pag tagal, siguro 3 months, umabot po sa punto [na] ginamit niya po ako sa harap ng kamera….Umiyak po ako kasi since first time ko po iyon,” she recalled.

(Later on, after 3 months, it came to a point when he abused me sexually in front of the camera. I cried because it was my first time.)

“Parang itinuturing ko rin siyang tatay ko, tapos iniisip ko tatay ko siya ginawa niya sa akin ang ganoong bagay. Pero ‘di ko alam na masama pala iyon (I treated him as a father and I was realizing then that it was like my father abused me. But I didn’t know then that it was a bad thing)," she said.

Even then, she didn't know that she was being sexually abused. Kim was groomed to think that what she was doing was something normal. Her handler later pimped her to foreign customers who would fly to Manila to meet with her personally. Clients would even take her to different parts of the Philippines for a "vacation."

The promise of a good salary and education never came since she was only given P500 or P1,000 from time to time. But Kim continued working until she was rescued by watchdog International Justice Mission (IJM).She was already 15 then.

Kim, now 18, is in a home hosted by non-governmental organization (NGO) Visayan Forum.

Young victims

Karen Navera, a social worker at the Visayan Forum, says that the most challenging part of rehabilitating victims of child trafficking is making them understand that they were abused.

“When it comes to children, the first point is that they are not aware of human trafficking. The second point is they are being groomed….The usual entry point of a trafficker is offering help so most of its recruits are from poor families that really have nothing to eat,” she explains in Filipino.

In Kim’s case, for example, the recruiter allowed her to live in his house and eat for free. That’s why she could not realize that the person was already abusing her. Navera said that traffickers, in most cases, are people victims trust.

Sometimes, they are even the child’s parents, siblings, or relatives. These are the most difficult cases to assist because the victims find it hard to trust other people.

Children are the most vulnerable in the sex trade. The Council for the Welfare of Children’s State of the Filipino Children Report in 2015 showed that 35% of children below 18 years old are living in poverty.

A Unicef study in 2016, meanwhile, said that 8 in 10 Filipino youth are in danger of online sexual abuse. The study entitled “Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online” estimated that there are 75,000 “child predators” online who are trying to get in touch with children in the Philippines.

The study also noted that the Department of Justice’s Cybercrime Office received 12,374 tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children based in the United States.

Victims of child sex trafficking, based on IJM’s rescue records, range from two months to 12 years old.  


Kim is now piecing her life together as she studies through the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS).

DREAM. Kim dreams to become a photographer someday. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

DREAM. Kim dreams to become a photographer someday. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler 

Besides being a student, Kim is also an ambassador for the campaign “iFight to End End Human Trafficking and Slavery.” Through this, she is able to share her experiences in public engagement to inform girls like her of this underground trade.

“Kinukwento ko po iyong mga kuwento ko para mainspire iyong ibang tao saka para rin po magbigay ng awareness sa kanila tungkol sa human trafficking kasi maraming kabataan ang naabuso tapos ‘di nila alam iyong human trafficking,” she says.

(I tell them my story so that I could inspire other people and also to give awareness about human trafficking because many young people are being abused but they don’t know what human trafficking is.)

The rehabilitation of victims is a key component of the fight against human trafficking.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) handles the rehabilitation of victims rescued by the Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography (IACACP), which is composed of several national government agencies and NGOs.

The DSWD has a center for sex trafficking victims and has also partnered with NGOs such as the Visayan Forum for the provision of home, counselling therapy, and programs to reintegrate those rescued back to society. (READ: PH meets US standards vs trafficking for 2nd straight year

“If they aren’t able to cope from the trauma, it will lead to sexual behavior. It could be a part of their system that abuse is normal. They can be second generation trafficker, which we see in some cases that we rehabilitate,” explains IACAP lead secretariat Christian Bioc.– Rappler.com

*Not her real name


PNP announces new drug enforcement chief

NO STRANGER TO DRUG WAR. Senior Superintendent Albert Ferro is set to be the new DEG chief. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police on Saturday, December 9, announced the designation of Superintendent Albert Ferro as the PNP's new Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) chief.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos made the announcement on Saturday, or 3 days after President Rodrigo Duterte formally announced the PNP's return to his war on drugs. 


Ferro replaces Chief Superintendent Joseph Adnol, who earlier said that cops do not need body cameras for transparency in their operations, since God sees everything anyway.


Carlos said Adnol will head the Philippine National Police Acadamy (PNPA), to replace Chief Superintendent Randolf Delfin who had just retired.

Ferro is no stranger to the unit. He used to head the DEG's previous incarnation, the now dissolved Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG).

The AIDG was the elite group of cops mandated to target high-value targets in the PNP's bid to eradicate drugs. It was dissolved following the Jee Ick Joo scandal, with Ferro's own menin the eye of the storm. 

Ferro was moved to the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office after the dissolution of the AIDG.

The DEG is much like the AIDG, but it has more personnel and has its own intelligence group to weed out erring cops. (READ: What's the new PNP Drug Enforcement Group like?)

New assignments

Carlos also announcement the new assignments of the following senior police officers:

  • Chief Superintendent Cedrick Train to the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations - Western Mindanao (DIPO-WM)
  • Chief Superintendent Marcelo Morales to the Soccsksargen (Region 12) police
  • Chief Superintendent Rodelio Jocson to the PNP Maritime Group
  • Chief Superintendent Renato Angara to the PNP Information Technology Management Service
  • Senior Superintendent Petronelli Baldebrin to the PNP Cagayan Valley (Region 2) police

The movements were apparently triggered by the retirement of veteran cops Director Manuel Felix of the PNP DIPO-WM.

The changes also come at a time when top PNP officials are preparing new guidelines in their drug war, as Duterte reiterated that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency should lead all anti-narcotics operations.

Ferro and Adnol, along with the other cops, will formally assume their new posts on Monday, December 11, after a ceremony led by PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

On Monday, the PNP's command group, now with Ferro included, are set to talk about the new drug war guidelines.– Rappler.com


Diocese of Legazpi forms coalition to stop killings, promote human rights

ANDUROG SA DERECHOS. A coalition to stop killings and promote human rights in the Bicol region. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler


LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Because of increasing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the country, the Diocese of Legazpi led the formation of a multisectoral coalition to promote human rights, stop the killings, and start the healing in the countryside.

Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said that the “Andurog sa Derechos (Support to Rights)" is a multi-stakeholder coalition of government agencies, civil society groups, and faith-based organizations in the Bicol region for the promotion of human rights.

Formed ahead of International Human Rights Day celebrated on December 10, the coalition seeks to create a collaborative mechanism among its members to address cases of killings and human rights violations, respond to the needs of victims and their families, and educate the public on the need to uphold and defend human rights.

The Social Action Center of the Diocese of Legazpi led by Fr Rex Paul Arjona, and the Commission on Human Rights regional office led by Arlene Alangco are the lead convenors of the coalition.

Arjona said the coalition seeks to do the following:

Provide assistance to families of victims of killings
Provide a venue for the public to report cases of killings and rights violations
Facilitate immediate action by institutions and concerned government agencies on cases of killings and rights violations
Document and monitor cases involving drug-related killings either by state or non-state actors
Build the capacity of human rights defenders and coalition members to raise public awareness on human rights, illegal drugs, and killings
Arjona said that there was a similar initiative in 2009, at the height of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of leftist activists during the Arroyo administration.

The new coalition formed on Thursday, December 7, includes the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations here.

“We bring together the legal group, the PNP, NBI, CHR and our own church ministry organization including the civil society groups so that we can work together towards addressing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings,” Baylon said.

He also expressed hope that the multisectoral effort would help victims as well as policemen charged with "unfair accusations."

Superintendent Frande Echaloce, PNP Bicol community relations officer assistant chief, said that from July 1, 2016, to January 31, 2017, 117 drug personalities were killed in anti-illegal drug operations across the Bicol region.

The highest cases of fatalities were reported in Albay province with 32 cases, followed by Camarines Norte with 21, Camarines Sur with 19, Naga City with 9, Sorsogon with 5, Masbate with 2, and Catanduanes with one case. – Rappler.com


Ex-junkie slain, 8 held for drugs

Construction worker Edmon Penano, 43, died at the scene after he was shot by a lone assailant in Sugartown Subdivision in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City at around 4:15 p.m., Batasan police station commander Superintendent Rossel Cejas said. File
MANILA, Philippines — A man said to be a former drug user was killed and eight others were arrested for drugs in Metro Manila on Friday.

Construction worker Edmon Penano, 43, died at the scene after he was shot by a lone assailant in Sugartown Subdivision in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City at around 4:15 p.m., Batasan police station commander Superintendent Rossel Cejas said.
A woman who went out of her house after she heard several gunshots saw Penano dead on the ground.

The assailant was gone when the witness went to check.

Meanwhile, probers retrieved six bullet casings and a deformed fired bullet at the scene.

Based on their investigation, Cejas said Penano was previously hooked on illegal drugs.

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“According to the family of the victim, he was a former drug dependent,” he said.

Police investigators are looking for other witnesses who could provide clues on the assailant’s identity.

Also on Friday, seven people were arrested in separate drug busts, Quezon City Police District director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said.

Wilmer Vingco, 31; Renz Ardaniel, 30; and Joselito Bonaobra, 36, were arrested in Barangay Sto. Domingo at around 12:30 p.m. Four sachets of shabu were seized from them.

Bryan Ponce, 34; Frankie Narvaja, 41; and Fernando Cruz, 44 were arrested in another sting in the same barangay at around 6 a.m. Three sachets of shabu and a sachet of dried marijuana leaves were found in their possession.

In Barangay Project 4, Michael Soriano, 37, was arrested after he sold shabu to an undercover operative at around 4:25 p.m. Three sachets of shabu were seized from Soriano.

In Mandaluyong City, suspected robber Richie Reyes, 26, yielded a sachet of shabu when he was arrested in Barangay Highway Hills at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.

Police officers on patrol apprehended Reyes after he allegedly robbed a man who was waiting for a ride home along EDSA’s northbound lane.

They searched Reyes and found the victim’s cell phone in his backpack as well as a sachet of shabu and a knife.

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