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Lacson cancels Senate probe on ‘Bikoy’ narco videos

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson (left), “Bikoy” (upper right), Peter Joemel Advincula (lower right)

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel on Wednesday cancelled its scheduled investigation on the allegations of Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed to be ‘Bikoy’ in the video series entitled “Ang Totoong Narco List,” which linked some members of the Duterte family and their close allies to the illegal drug trade.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, made the announcement shortly after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) announced that they have declined Advincula’s request for legal assistance.

READ: IBP declines ‘Bikoy’ request for legal help

Lacson made the decision after Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Advincula was the same person who linked former President Benigno Aquino III and former government officials in illegal drugs in 2016.

SP Sotto said it all. We are now recalling the letter of invitation sent to Advincula yesterday,” Lacson wrote on his Twitter account.

“Notices will be sent out for the cancellation of the committee hearing on Friday. Enough of this nonsense,” he added.

“The problem with asking Bikoy who are the people behind him is if we will believe him,” he continued.

READ: Senate to probe ‘Bikoy’ claims this week

Lacson earlier said his committee could schedule a hearing on Friday if Advincula will accept the invitation, and present a sworn statement and evidence to back his claims. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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VP Robredo, opposition senators react to sedition case

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and former Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino reacted to the sedition case filed against them in relation to an alleged destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

The complaint was filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday (July 18).

Advincula originally appeared in a series of videos dubbed as “Ang Totoong Narcolist” linking some personalities from the opposition as behind the alleged ‘Project Sodoma’ or the ouster plot against the President.

He retracted his claims and resurfaced as one of the respondents and a witness of the CIDG.   

“Ito na siguro iyong totoong hinihintay na pagkakataon. Ito na iyong laban. Dito na magkakaalaman kung sino iyong nagsasabi ng totoo, kung sino iyong nagsisinungaling, kung sino iyong manggagamit at kung sino iyong gumagamit ng mga tao para maghari iyong kagustuhan nila,” he said during the filing of complaint at the DOJ.

The CIDG filed charges of sedition, inciting to sedition, libel, cyber libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice against Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and Former Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino.

Also among the respondents are officials of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, several lawyers, and clergymen who were allegedly involved in the destabilization plot.

“Napakaganda noong kaso, napakadaming ebidensya ako mismo hindi ko inasahan na ganoon pala karami iyong matitibay na ebidensya laban dito sa nasasangkot dito sa kaso na ito,” noted Atty. Larry Gadon who took on the case as Advincula’s legal counsel.

Detained Senator Leila de lima called the complaint “hogwash” and just a “piece of trash”.

“Hogwash. Basura pa iyan siguro kaysa sa mga isinampang kaso laban sa akin (Hogwash. It is probably more absurd than the cases filed against me),” she said during the arraignment of her illegal drug case at the Muntinlupa Court on Friday.

“The credibility of Bikoy is already down the drain. Siya iyong criminal. Siya iyong umamin na kriminal eh tapos siya iyong ginagamit ngayon ng CIDG laban sa tingin nila ay kumakalaban sa administrasyon (He is the criminal. He’s the one who admitted being a criminal. Now the CIDG is using him against those who they accused of betraying the government),” De Lima’s legal counsel Atty. Boni Tacardon said.

On his official social media page, Trillanes said: “The filing of cases against key members of the opposition are clear acts of political persecution and harassment by the Duterte administration meant to stifle democratic dissent.”

But Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified that the DOJ is not a weapon for oppression or persecution.

“We shall go only by the evidence presented before us and we don’t care who gets indicted and who goes scot-free,” he said.

He added however that once probable cause is determined and a criminal case is filed in court, the DOJ will exert the full force of the law to secure a conviction.

Opposition lawyer Atty. Chel Diokno, meanwhile, accused the administration of rushing a conviction even without strong evidence against the accused.

“Luto ang kasong ito. Sabik na sabik ata ang administrasyon na ikulong kami, kahit walang basehan o ebidensiya. Bilang abogado para sa mahihirap, sanay na ako sa ganitong pangaapi. Tuloy ang laban natin para sa hustisya,” he said in a statement.

(This case is rigged. This administration can’t wait to put us behind bars despite the lack of basis or evidence. As a lawyer for the poor, I am used to these types of oppression. Our fight for justice continues.)

Hontiveros, meanwhile, said the complaint was nothing but “a badly-written telenovela.”

“Bad acting. Awful script. Terrible plot twist,” she said.

Robredo’s camp said they are yet to receive a copy of the complaint but knowing the background of the complainant, they were sure that it was “completely baseless and nothing more than plain and simple harassment.”

“Kwentong kutsero na pinilit gawing batayan sa kaso (they are forcing a tall tale to be the basis for a case),” Robredo’s legal counsel Atty. Barry Gutierrez concluded. – with reports from Mai Bermudez

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Bato seeks to include substance abuse education in K-12 Program

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa has filed a Senate bill that seeks to include substance abuse education in the K-12 program.

Based on his Senate Bill No. 228, substance abuse prevention education should be included from 4th Grade to the 12th Grade. This aims to equip students with sufficient knowledge and information about the dangers of substance abuse.

“The youth, once involved in drug abuse will likely have academic, relationship and health problems. This leads to lower grades, dropping out from schools and having damaged physical, cognitive and emotional development,” he said.

Based on the data of the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are 4.8 million Filipinos aged 10 to 69 who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives.

The youngest drug surrenderer and youngest recorded minor rescued for substance abuse were seven-year-olds. —AAC

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Pentagon removing Turkey from F-35 program after its purchase of Russian missile defense

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

F-35 Fighter Jet | Courtesy: Lockheed Martin / Reuters

The United States said on Wednesday (July 17) that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week.

The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to the Murted military airbase northwest of Ankara on Friday, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia, which Washington had struggled for months to prevent.

“The U.S. and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program,” said Ellen Lord, the Undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

Used by NATO and other U.S. allies, the F-35 stealth fighter jet is the world’s most advanced jet fighter. Washington is concerned that deploying the S-400 with the F-35 would allow Russia to gain too much inside information of the stealth system.

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

Washington has long said the acquisition may lead to Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program.

The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft. (REUTERS)

(Production: Labib Nasir)

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