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Like father, like son: Jinggoy Estrada denied bail from plunder

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jinggoy

Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Photo from Inquirer.net

The lightning struck twice for poor Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has denied the bail petition of detained senator Jinggoy Estrada from his plunder charge over the pork barrel scam.

Also denied bail is the accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Estrada’s lawyer Atty. Alexis Abastillas-Suarez in a phone interview confirmed the denial of Estrada’s bail.

She said the law office of Estrada’s counsel Atty. Sabino Acut Jr. received a copy of the 215-page resolution Thursday evening.

However, Suarez refused to comment because Estrada’s counsels are still going through the resolution.

“I will confirm (that Estrada’s bail was denied). It consists of 200 pages. Hindi pa namin nababasa, so hindi pa kami makapag-comment,” Suarez said.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor confirmed scoring against Estrada.

“The Office of the Special Prosecutor confirms the bail petition of Senator Estrada has been denied by the Sandiganbayan,” said Atty. Rawnsle Lopez, acting director of the Ombudsman Public Information and Media Relations Bureau, in a text message.

In a copy of the resolution uploaded on the Sandiganbayan website, the court sounded literary in denying the bail by stressing that the phrase “lightning never strikes the same place twice” does not apply to Estrada.

“One cannot think ill of the saying ‘lightning never strikes the same place twice’ for it is now the standing paradox to Senator Estrada’s case,” the court ruled in the 215-page resolutionpromulgated Jan. 7. It was signed by the three Fifth Division Associate Justices Roland Jurado, Alexander Gesmundo, and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez Estoesta. There was no ponente indicated.

The court said above the allegations of politicking by the Office of the Special Prosecutor,the prosecution was able to prove strong evidence of Estrada’s guilt.

The denial of bail, however, does not mean Estrada is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of plunder, the court said.

“Emptied of all public insinuations and political overtones that has incessantly hovered over this case from the beginning, and while this ruling does not portend to be a judgement of conviction for both accused, this Court has found that the prosecution has established a strong evidence of guilt to deny the petitions of both accused,” the court said.

Apex of PDAF scam

The court went on to say Estrada in his second plunder case before the Sandiganbayan is the “apex of the PDAF scam.”

This is because Estrada endorsed to the implementing agencies the bogus foundations which in turn implemented ghost projects using his PDAF.

The court copy pasted in its resolution Estrada’s letters endorsing these bogus foundations, such as the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation and the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, which were both linked to Napoles.

“Once the context and purpose of a PDAF allocation is fathomed, it should behoove Senator Estrada to fully realize that that it was his own legislative fiat which actually determined how such funds were utilized. As the lawmaker who preselected not only the implementing agency but also went as far as indorsing an NGO for the implementation of his priority projects, no amount of buffering should shield Senator Estrada from an apparent liability under the present charge,” the court said.

“Together with the private accused Napoles… Senator Estrada is, as prosecution evidence would strongly show, at the apex of the ‘PDAF scam,’” the court said.

The court also took credence on the testimony of state witness Ruby Tuason and finance officer Benhur Luy against Estrada.

Luy has testified that Estrada received millions of kickbacks from Napoles as recorded in his ledger of transactions with lawmakers. Meanwhile, Tuason, the former social secretary of Jinggoy’s father, said she has delivered millions of kickbacks stored in duffel bags to Estrada at the family-owned Zirkoh bar or at his Senate office.

Tuason’s fickle memory

The court said even while Tuason struggled in remembering the amounts of the kickbacks she delivered, this does not discredit her as a witness.

“Human memory is fickle and prone to the stresses of emotions and the passage of time… She may not have taken an effort to particularly know how much money was inside the bag to be delivered… but this disparity is not too substantial to disparage her worth as a witness,” the court said.

“Instead, it is Ruby Tuason’s positive account that she personally delivered the kickbacks given by Napoles to Senator Estrada himself which commands serious consideration,” it added.

Luy’s ledger an investigator’s ‘oasis’

The court also considered as presumptive evidence Luy’s daily financial records because these are regular records. The court said because of its regularity in record-keeping, Luy’s ledger may not be considered hearsay.

The court even considered Luy’s financial ledger as detailed and complex, meticulously recorded on a regular basis, which makes it an “oasis” to the investigators of the PDAF scam.

“Like a map plotting out specific target points on which way to veer, the daily disbursement record entries are a virtual oasis to an investigator’s keen eye, unraveling details which proved significant in baring what were perceived to be anomalies in the PDAF transactions of lawmakers, including Senator Estrada in this case,” the court said.

Jinggoy is Juan Ng

The court also cited the explosive bank inquiry report by the Anti-Money Laundering Council, (AMLC), which bared alleged conduits Juan Ng and Francis Yenko used by Estrada to stow away his alleged millions of kickbacks from the scam.

READ: AMLC shows how Jinggoy Estrada got Napoles ‘kickbacks’ 

The court even noted the AMLC’s finding that Estrada’s signatures are similar to those of the unconventional signatures of Juan Ng, as shown in the checks issued to both Ng and Yenko.

The court copy pasted screenshots of these supposed checks to show that Estrada’s signature is similar to Juan Ng’s.

Ng.png

Ng2

Ng even had a bank account which directly received P9.75 million from Napoles’ own Metrobank account, the court said.

The court said because some checks issued from Ng’s bank accounts using his unconventional signature bore the striking similarity with that of Estrada, it could mean Estrada directly controlled Ng’s bank accounts.

“The observation of AMLC on the close similarity of the ‘unconventional’ signature of Juan Ng and that of Senator Estrada cannot be shrugged off easily… On the basis of the findings made, one need not actually resort to a handwriting expert to spot the general likeness in the surface appearance of the loops and strokes that are instantly evident in the contested signatures,” the court said.

The court even showed two checks separately signed by Ng and Estrada, and yet the penmanship bearing the addressee Yenko look similar. This bolsters claim that Estrada and Ng are one and the same.

Yengko

“While the Juan Ng accounts may not be considered for the purpose of arriving at the threshold amount in the bail petitions, it has been perceived that such accounts have provided a solid basis in bolstering the conduit scheme resorted to in this case,” the court said.

Jinggoy’s alleged use of conduits is reminiscent of the Jose Velarde account, which was supposedly owned by Jinggoy’s father to stow away jueteng kickbacks. Joseph Estrada was later convicted but pardoned for the crime of plunder over jueteng kickbacks during his shortlived term as president.

Not lucky as before

It took the court over a year to decide on the bail petition since it first conducted hearings on July 2014.

Estrada is accused of receiving P183 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) through alleged ghost projects using the bogus foundations of accused pork barrel scam mastermind Napoles.

He is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center with colleague Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. Revilla’s bail plea was denied by the Sandiganbayan in Dec. 2014 just months after he surrendered June 2014.

The denial of bail dashed Estrada’s hopes because the detained senator earlier expressed confidence that he would be granted bail like before in the jueteng case of his father the deposed President Joseph Estrada.

READ: Jinggoy Estrada confident of bail from plunder like in 2003

JInggoy was jailed with his father in 2001 for plunder over illegal jueteng money, the charge which propelled the aborted impeachment trial of former President Estrada.

In 2001, the younger Estrada, then San Juan Mayor, was charged with conspiring with his father “in amassing and acquiring through ill-gotten wealth from illegal gambling through any or a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts or similar schemes or means.”

In March 2003, after two years in detention, Jinggoy was allowed bail, after the Sandiganbayan found that the ex-mayor probably collected “jueteng” protection money but only for his “own selfish needs” and not in “conspiracy” with his father.

In 2007, Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder, but then President Gloria Arroyo pardoned him barely two months after. Jinggoy, meanwhile, was acquitted.

READ: What Went Before: Jinggoy Estrada was coaccused in pa’s plunder case 

Read edited version here

Written by Marc Jayson Cayabyab

January 7, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Binay, Honasan files candidacy for president, vice president amid corruption raps

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After filing their certificates of candidacy, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Gringo Honasan raise their hands together as presidential and vice presidential bets of the United Nationalist Alliance.

After filing their certificates of candidacy, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Gringo Honasan raise their hands together as presidential and vice presidential bets of the United Nationalist Alliance.

The tandem of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan remain unfazed that they both face graft charges before the Ombudsman.

Moments before filing their certificates of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday, Oct. 12, Honasan said he remained confident on the judicial processes and that he will answer to the charges at the proper time.

“The Ombudsman will determine that. Up to this point, I trust with the fairness in the judicial system until proven otherwise,” Honasan said in an interview after a Mass in San Agustin Church, Intramuros.

When asked further how he would face corruption allegations ahead of the elections, Honasan asked to wait for the proper time to face his detractors.

“Malalaman natin ‘yan sa darating na panahon. Ang huhusga sa proseso natin at sa darating na halalan ay ang taumbayan,” Honasan added.

(We will know that in the right time. The people will be the ones to judge us in the elections.)

Binay has maintained that the complaint against him for plunder and graft in connection with the alleged overpricing and rigging of procurement for infrastructure projects in Makati are politically motivated.

Alongside his running mate, Binay said Honasan may not be his first option, but he was selected by the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party to be Binay’s running-mate. Honasan is UNA Vice President.

“UNA na, BinGo pa!” Binay said, chanting the tandem name which others also call BiHon.

Binay said he has served in local government for 25 years, most as Makati mayor for two decades, and it is time for him to run for the county’s highest position.

“Dalawampu’t limang taon ako naglingkod sa pamahalaan at ang isang tinuunan ko ay ang iangat sa kahirapan ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” Binay said.

(I have been in government for 25 years, and I have focused on improving the lives of poor Filipinos.)

Honasan admitted that he was not Binay’s first option, but he remained confident of representing UNA to help unify the party. Binay’s first option is Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., who turned down the offer to run as vice president in 2016.

“Ito ay tawag ng pagkakataon. This is a sense of duty. I am a good soldier… I will follow the party that I am helping organize,” Honasan said.

“I do not have the luxury of an ego. I do not have a star complex. As long as I went through a selection process,” he added.

Honasan vowed to address the flight of common workers such as soldiers, overseas Filipino workers, police officers, farmers, among others.

“Ang platform namin ay laban sa kahirapan at seguridad sa trabaho para sa lahat, para makamit natin sa lalong madaling panahon ang mga OFW, sundalo, pulis at magsasaka ay makauwi na sa isang bansa na mapayapa at maunlad,” Honasan said.

(Our platform is to fight poverty and provide security of tenure for all, so that the OFWs, soldiers, police and farmers can go home to a country that is peaceful and progressive.)

Binay and Honasan walked together from a Mass in San Agustin Church to file their certificates of candidacy. They were greeted with chants of “Una na, BinGo pa!” from supporters who lined the street in front of Comelec with banners of support for the tandem.

Binay and Honasan filed their certificates of candidacy at the Comelec around 8:30 a.m. The media frenzy turned to chaos because of cameramen and photographers scrambling to shoot a video or pictures of the tandem that the Comelec cancelled the scheduled press conference for the two.

Honasan is part of the third batch of pork barrel scam complaint filed before the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam of Janet Lim-Napoles. He is accused of malversation, graft and bribery for allegedly receiving P1.75 million kickbacks according to the financial records of whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Meanwhile, Binay faces five plunder and graft complaints before the Ombudsman over the alleged anomalies involving the Makati Parking Building II, Makati Science High School building, University of Makati, a Fort Bonifacio property, and over an allegedly anomalous land deal between the Alphaland and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, where Binay is long-running President.

Binay has claimed that members of the opposition are targeted to be charged with corruption raps by the administration even as the latter turn a blind eye on allies.

Binay’s family – wife Elenita, daughters Senator Nancy and Makati Rep. Abigail, and son Junjun – accompanied the vice president at the Comelec. Mayor Junjun Binay was dismissed from service by the Ombudsman for dishonesty and misconduct in connection with the alleged rigged procurement for the design and construction of the purportedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, deemed the country’s most expensive parking building.

Honasan as a soldier played a key role in leading the people’s revolt in Edsa I which ousted from power dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Honasan was a leader of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, which broke away from the martial rule that time.

Binay, meanwhile, is a lawyer-activist during the Marcos dictatorship. Hewas a member of the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism (Mabini), which campaigned against ousted President Marcos’ rule. The group included former senators Rene Saguisag and Joker Arroyo, who died last week.

Edited version here

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Written by Marc Jayson Cayabyab

October 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm

OFW partylist rep to run for president in 2016

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OFW Family Rep. Roy Señeres Sr. declares his presidential bid in 2016.

 
A party-list representative on Thursday declared that he would run for president in the 2016 elections.

In a press conference, OFW Family Rep. Roy Señeres Sr. said various OFW groups have urged him to run for president, and he has decided to take on the challenge.

One of the groups who convinced Señeres to run was the OFW Friends of Roy Señeres Everywhere or OFW FORSE.

Señeres vowed to fight for the welfare of workers who are suffering from contractualization.

He said he has a complete Senate slate already which is not composed of traditional politicians or “trapos,” but of common Muslims, OFW leaders, and teachers, among others. He also said he has a vice presidential candidate who is a religious leader.

Señeres, a former ambassador and chairman of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), said he would run under the Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka with the slogan “Pamilyang May Edukasyon, May Trabaho, May Tahanan at May Laman ang Tiyan.”

He said he may not be as popular as the other candidates, but he would push for a cause against job contractualization that would not be espoused by the other candidates who are beholden to their poll contributors.

“I have the right message. Elect me as president and the contractuals who are laid off every five months would be made permanent. Elect me as president and you will become permanent until you reach the age of 65,” Señeres said.

“Have you heard this message from other presidentiables? I doubt they can say this and I doubt they can take the cudgels for the waiters and waitresses in restaurants, because most of them are beholden to practitioners of contractualization,” he added.

Señeres vowed not to accept any campaign contributions from tycoons who abuse contractual workers.

“I have never fraternized with the employers and tycoons of this country. I have never been beholden to them… Hindi ako tatanggap ng campaign contributions (kay Henry Sy). Kasi paano ako tatanggap ng campaign contributions, that will be a conflict if I would be taking the cudgels for the exploited workers,” Señeres said.

He said he does not think he would be declared a nuisance candidate because he was an elected party-list congressman in the 16th Congress.

Before winning the party-list seat representing OFWs in 2013, Señeres served as chairman of the NLRC from 2000 to 2005. He was also United Arab Emirates Ambassador from 1994 to 1998, and Washington D.C. labor attache from 1990 to 1993. 

Written by Marc Jayson Cayabyab

October 8, 2015 at 2:26 pm

UN Working Group: Arroyo detention for plunder politically motivated

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An international human rights lawyer has said the hospital detention of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a form of political persecution, according to a legal counsel for the former president.

In a press conference on Thursday, Arroyo’s lawyer Lorenzo Gadon told reporters of the development of the human rights complaint filed by his client before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Arroyo is represented at the UN by renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, wife of US actor George Clooney.
Citing a supposed email by Clooney, Gadon said the UN working group had found Arroyo’s hospital detention arbitrary and violative of the international law on human rights.

Clooney also purportedly said the body found Arroyo’s detention for plunder politically motivated.

“Amal Clooney mentioned something like political pressure. The UN working group recognized that the charges against Mrs. Arroyo were politically motivated since she’s detained as a result of her exercise to take part in government,” Gadon said.

“The UN opinion finds that the detention of former President Arroyo was arbitrary and illegal under international law because the Sandiganbayan court failed to take into account her individual circumstances when it repeatedly denied her bail,” said Clooney’s email to Gadon which was furnished to the media.

Politically motivated

“Further, the working group recognized that the charges against Mrs. Arroyo were politically motivated, since she is detained ‘as a result of the exercise of her right to take part in government and the conduct of public affairs’ and ‘because of her political … opinion,’” the email read.
Clooney supposedly said the UN working group asked the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its decision denying Arroyo’s bail “and to accord Ms Arroyo with an enforceable right to compensation … for the deprivation of liberty which already occurred.’”

Clooney also told Gadon that the UN working group recommended to the Philippine government to ensure a fair trial without delay and consistent with international human rights law. 

Arroyo’s lawyer Lorenzo Gadon received a letter from Atty. Amal Clooney who reported about the United Nations Working Group resolution declaring as illegal Arroyo’s hospital detention.

 

The UN body also noted the Philippine government’s tendency to defy court rulings, as was the case in 2011 when Arroyo was prevented by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from leaving the country even though the travel ban against her was lifted by the Supreme Court to allow her medical treatment abroad.

Gadon said the Philippine government, as well as the Sandiganbayan and the Ombudsman, should comply with the United Nations ruling calling for Arroyo’s immediate release from detention.

Bail petition

He said Arroyo’s camp would seek anew for bail, this time citing the UN ruling.
“The Philippine government will lose face if we will not abide by the internationally accepted principles of law,” Gadon said.

This is the latest in the complaint filed before the UN after Clooney asked the world body to quickly act on the supposed political persecution of Arroyo, who has been under hospital detention for three years now for plunder.

Interviewed at the sidelines of the plenary debates over the judiciary budget in the House of Representatives, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said the antigraft court only acted based on evidence when it denied Arroyo bail.
Tang maintained that the court did not violate any international law.

“I don’t think the court violated any international law. The court has always observed all the processes that are in place in the country … (Arroyo) filed the petition for bail, that was heard, evidence was presented, and after due evaluation the court came up with its resolution,” Tang said.

Tang said she was confident of the division’s integrity on the decision, and that only a “radical change” in the case information could overhaul the resolution denying Arroyo’s bail and her demurrer of evidence following the UN ruling.

Radical change’

I believe the judiciousness of the members of the division. If there may be a change or radical change in the circumstances, perhaps that can serve as a ground for a change in the resolution. But if there is no significant change, I would believe that the decision will stay,” Tang said.

Sandiganbayan First Division chair Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz said his division only relied on evidence in denying Arroyo’s bail.

“We follow existing jurisprudence on the matter. We based our resolutions on the existing laws and jurisprudence … Our mandate is not to be influenced by any public opinion or whatever. We should base our resolution on the facts and evidences of the case, that’s all,” De la Cruz said.

Arroyo is detained over alleged plunder for using P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office intelligence funds for personal gain from 2008 to 2010.

The former president is confined at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) as she claims to be suffering from cervical spondylosis, a degenerative disease of the bones and cartilage of the neck.

Arroyo also complains of “generalized body weakness, persistent pain over the nuchal and left shoulder with numbness of both hands and frequent episodes of choking,” according to VMMC.
Gadon said Arroyo had been suffering from new kinds of sickness.

“Bagong sakit itong nararamdaman ni GMA aside from the previous illnesses she’s already suffering,” Gadon said, adding Arroyo was suffering from paralysis on the left arm. 

Edited story here

Enrile’s plunder case back to square one, his lawyer says

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The lawyer for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said the Supreme Court decision granting the petitions of the 91-year old lawmaker in connection with the pork barrel scam means the plunder complaint has to go back to square one.

In a text message Tuesday, Atty. Joseph Sagandoy said Enrile has set aside P1 million to pay his bail from plunder, which under ordinary circumstances is a non-bailable offense.

 “We are thankful that the Supreme Court granted Senator Enrile’s petition for bail. We will immediately post the required bail so the senator can again actively perform his duties and responsibilities as a senator,” Sagandoy said.
He claimed that the plunder complaint over Enrile’s alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam would be remanded to the Ombudsman which would have to amend the complaint after the Supreme Court also granted Enrile’s bill for particulars plea.
“The case for plunder against him will practically go back to square one since the Supreme Court also granted his motion for bill of particulars last week. The prosecution will have to amend the information against him or provide the required details and particulars of the charges against him,” Sagandoy.
If the Ombudsman fails to do so, “the case may be dismissed,” he added.
Sagandoy said Enrile’s defense counsels are still waiting for a copy of the decision. He said Enrile would make a personal appearance if he is required.
Voting 8-4, the high court on Tuesday granted Enrile’s motion to reverse the Sandiganbayan Third Division’s ruling denying his bail plea.

The decision came exactly a week after the SC sided with Enrile’s request for bill of particulars in his plunder case over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Enrile went to the Supreme Court after the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied his motion that he be allowed to post bail.

In his 70-page petition for certiorari filed Sept. 4, 2014, Enrile said he should be allowed to post bail since the prosecution failed to present strong evidence against him and that the charges “cannot be considered a capital offense.”

At the same time, Enrile said he is not a “flight risk considering that he even voluntarily surrendered to the authorities when the warrant for his arrest was issued by the anti-graft court.

He also cited his advanced age as another reason for the SC to grant his petition.

Enrile is under hospital detention while his chief of staff Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes is detained at the female dormitory of Camp Bagong Diwa as they face plunder and 15 counts of graft for their alleged involvement in the purported scheme of pilfering the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
According to the financial records of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, Enrile received P172.8 million in kickbacks from Napoles, who referred to Enrile as “Tanda” in the use of codenames for the alleged scam.
The witnesses had also testified that they personally saw Napoles hand over Enrile’s kickbacks to his alleged agent Ruby Tuason.
State witness Tuason, a socialite and social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, has said she delivered kickbacks for Enrile from Napoles through Enrile’s chief of staff Reyes over lunch meetings in posh restaurants.
Tuason  said Enrile sometimes joined her and Reyes for coffee after these supposed lunch meetings.
Edited story here.
Accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is serving life sentence for the serious illegal detention of her entrusted financial officer Luy, who turned against her when he was detained over suspicions he was starting his own scam.

Leni Robredo feeling pressure as Roxas’ second choice, solons say

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A congressman has claimed that Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo is feeling the pressure from her partymates who are urging her to run for Vice President alongside Interior Sec. Mar Roxas.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said the pressure has even reached Leni’s two daughters who did not even want Robredo to run for the second highest position of the land.

“Si Leni kaklase ko yan. I can personally tell na si Leni nai-stress dito sa pagpatakbo sa kanya bilang Pangalawang-Pangulo,” Batocabe said.

Batocabe said Robredo did not even want to run and was even scared of the Vice President position.

“Actually ayaw naman talaga niya, natatakot siya because of the position. Hindi man lang niya kinu-consider na maging Pangalawang-Pangulo and talagang sa totoo lang daw ang sabi niya sa akin nai-stress sila, nai-stress pati ang mga bata na pinipilit siyang maging Vice-President,” Batocabe said.

Batocabe said Robredo is feeling the stress because she did not want to be forced to say yes to the offer.

“Naistress out siya kasi para ang nangyayari, mapipilitan siyang um-oo,” he said.

Robredo is being eyed as the running mate of Roxas, after the top choice Senator Grace Poe remains elusive even if Roxas himself is courting her as his vice president.

Robredo has yet to respond for her comment.

In the same press briefing, Liberal Party (LP) member Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said Robredo is willing to give way for Poe if the latter decides to run with Roxas.

He said Robredo is a “good soldier” and is not likely to give in to the pressure on her to run for vice president.

“Leni is also prepared to give way to Grace if and when she decides to be part of us. In fact, Leni has said she is not prepared,” said Umali, the brother of LP Treasurer Alfonso Umali.

“She’s a good soldier. She will answer to the call of the times,” he added.

Robredo is the wife of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died when the airplane he was riding on crashed in the waters off the shoreline of Masbate city on Aug. 18, 2012. The Robredo family is commemorating Jesse’s third year death anniversary today.

Leni ran for the congressional seat in 2013 and won, whipping the Villafuerte political dynasty which ruled the third congressional district for over 40 years.

Edited story here.

Church hates anti-discrimination bill more than RH law, author says

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Passing the bill against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) may prove to be a more daunting task than when Congress passed the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) law, one of its authors said Monday.
During the forum “The Cost of Exclusion” at the House of Representatives, Dinagat Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said Congress would find it a bigger challenge to lobby for the passage of the bill with the stiff opposition from the influential Catholic Church and other religious sects.
She said the position papers of the religious organizations were even more harsh than those on the RH law, which seeks to institute reproductive health measures such as contraceptives.
“I think the challenge for the anti-discrimination bill would be greater than that of the Responsible Parenthood law. Sa reaction lang na nakikita ko mula sa iba’t ibang faith-based organizations, mas malupit sila ngayong mag-comment kaysa dun sa Reproductive Health bill,” said Bag-ao, who is an author of both controversial pieces of legislation.
Bag-ao held the forum to show that sigtma and discrimination against the LGBTs also contribute to poverty and exclusion from developmment. Invited as resource speaker was Dr. Lee Badgett, who showed in her study that gender rights and economic development are interrelated.
She said based on a statistical analysis of 39 emerging economies in 2011, the GDP per capita and Human Development Index are higher in countries which are more LGBT inclusive.
The economics professor from the University of Massachusetts said one right for LGBT is equivalent to a $320 increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita representing three percent of GDP.
Badgett showed the study in illustrating that countries suffer from lower economic development because of homophobic policies that prevent LGBT from engaging in economic activity.
“As you increase the number of rights in the country, these have higher levels of GDP per capita. The countries that do better, that are more inclusive, have better economic development outcomes,” Badgett said.
Rep. Bag-ao said Badgett’s study afffirms the need to pass the anti-discrimination bill not just for gender rights but for economic development, as well.
“Badgett’s study undersccores the need to pass the anti-discrimination bill. Discrimination limits our full potential as a human being and a member of a family. It adversely affect the economic and social conditions of a country. LGBT inclusion also drives economic development,” Bag-ao said.
The House women and gender committee secretariat Beatriz Sanga said the anti-discrimination bill is reported out to the Committee on Rules for plenary schedule.
She urged solons to lobby for the bill to be calendared for plenary debate especially as members from the church have sent piles of position papers against the proposed measure.
Sanga said some co-authors had withdrawn from the bill because of the church opposition.
“Our committee focused on the discrmination based on SOGI. And we really found it so difficult because in our culture, we are not all accepting (of the LGBT)… Sabi nga ng Church, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” Sanga said.
“We’re talking of all churches here against those pushing for this bill. If you see positions papers, there’s almost a mountain of it. Just lobby with your congressman so this bill can be deliberated in the plenary,” she added.
The proposed Anti-Sogi Discrimination Act seeks to penalize discriminatory practices on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It hurdled the committee level on Feb. 10.
Prohibited discriminatory practices include bias against employees, refusal to admit a person in an institution, denial of access to health services and harassment by law enforcers, all due to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The authors of the bill had denied that the proposed measure seeks to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has opposed the bill penalizing discrimination against the LGBT.
CBCP lawyer Jo Imbong earlier told the House gender committee that the bill is discriminatory itself because it creates a separate class of citizens who would have special rights over others.
“Far from fostering equality, the bill creates a class of citizens protected in a matter that is more advantaged than the general citizenry, precisely institutionalizing inequality in violation of the equal protection clause,” Imbong told lawmakers in a Feb. 10 hearing.
Imbong also said discrimination is not necessarily wrong, saying it is only another word for “decision making” in schools and workplaces protected by the constitutional right to academic freedom.
“Not all discrimination is wrong … Discrimination, after all, is just another word for decision-making, for choosing and acting in accord with or with reference to particular criteria. We do and should discriminate, we draw lines, identify limits, make judgments, act on the basis of preference, all the time,” she said.
Edited story here.