July 7, 2011 (EXTRACT)
The Philippine economy
Benigno Aquino’s first year has been
good for the state coffers
...Mr Aquino campaigned for office on the slogan, “If no
one is corrupt, no one will be poor”. He has governed on the assumption that unless everyone is seen to pay taxes, no
one will. Since his term began, the BIR has pursued 51 cases of tax evasion, one a week. A website and Facebook page invite
Filipinos to snitch on tax cheats, smugglers and officials guilty of graft or a suspiciously lavish lifestyle. The site names
and shames people under investigation, including one of the bureau’s own lawyers, who acquired five lots of land, a
flat and two cars on a monthly salary of under 23,000 pesos ($540)...
...The government has made it easier to file tax returns
online and is teaching its taxmen to see taxpayers as clients to be respected, not birds to be plucked. In the past officials
would avert their eyes if taxpayers greased their palms. The customs official in charge of the government’s Run-After-The-Smugglers
(RATS) campaign is himself being chased by a steel company, which alleges that he demanded a bribe to release shipments.
The government’s efforts have met with some early success. Revenues increased by 18% in
the first four months of 2011, compared with a year earlier, almost twice the pace of nominal GDP growth...
Ex-PCSO chief says intel fund misused
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)
had misused hundreds of millions of pesos, mostly for dubious intelligence activities, in a span of three years during the
previous Arroyo administration, its former chief told the Senate...former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte said former
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved her request on Jan. 4, 2010 to divert 20 percent of the agency’s public relations
budget or a minimum of P150 million to intelligence funds/confidential funds...
She also admitted that Arroyo knew about the use of the intelligence funds
because they would discuss it during their meetings...
Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III said that public
opinion about the issue as well as the ongoing inquiry should prompt the former president to come out with an explanation
about the use of the PCSO’s intelligence funds.
“This is very serious and this amounts to plunder and if it’s
not properly explained, this can also go to the courts and there she has to explain,” Guingona said.
BIR files P18-M tax evasion
raps vs ex-PCSO ad manager Manuel Garcia
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday sued the former
promotions manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) who allegedly pocketed P1.5 billion in kickbacks from
the charity agency’s ad placements during the Arroyo administration.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said ex-PCSO public relations manager
Manuel Garcia owed the government P18.91 million in taxes for “understating” his real taxable income from 2006
The case, the BIR’s 55th tax evasion complaint since President
Aquino was sworn into office a year ago, was filed a day after advertising executives Alexander Quisumbing and Ludovico Yuseco
told a Senate inquiry that Garcia had received kickbacks representing 40 percent of advertising contracts approved by the
DOJ ASKED TO SACK RABUSA AS WITNESS: WHISTLEBLOWER Col. George Rabusa of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should
be kicked out from the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) because he was equally liable for
plunder as the military generals whom he had accused of massive corruption. Or so said retired former state auditor Arturo
Besana in an open memorandum, stressing that "the cloak of witness protection over Rabusa be removed and that he (Rabusa)
himself be placed under the bar of justice just like the rest whom he unjustly accused."
OMBUDSMAN FILES CRIMINAL CASE VS "EURO-GENERAL": Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro ordered the filing of criminal charges
against former Philippine National Police (PNP) director for comptrollership Eliseo dela Paz and his wife in connection with
the "Euro-generals" case. The case involves several ex-PNP officials who attended a seminar in Russia in 2008. Dela Paz was
later detained for carrying an undeclared cash in excess of allowable limits.
intel funds bigger than AFP's
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office used an intelligence
fund worth P150 million in the first 6 months of 2010, an election year.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III noted this is even bigger than the
intelligence fund of the Armed Forces of the Philippines “and used only in 6 months’ time.”
He noted the disbursements were made during the months toward and
immediately after the election period.
Meanwhile, instead of providing ambulances and financial assistance
to provinces where poverty incidence is high, the current leadership of the PCSO said the previous administration preferred
the more affluent ones.
PCSO fund turned into Palace 'pork'
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is being used
as a source of pork barrel funds by sitting presidents, Sen. Francis Escudero declared yesterday.
He said the PCSO had become the milking cow of the past administration
to favor “a selected few” of its allies, notwithstanding the mandate of the agency to service all Filipinos in
“Based on these discoveries mostly culled from Commission
on Audit (COA) reports, the PCSO is used somewhat as a pork barrel by the past sitting president, favoring only a selected
few,” Escudero said.
He explained the PCSO was meant to service the health and medical
needs of all indigent Filipinos, but the agency was being used instead to reward “those who fall on the good side of
the sitting president.”
Bishops say donated vehicles not luxurious
Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal
Vidal yesterday said that none of the vehicles donated by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to certain Catholic
bishops were luxurious and all of them, as well as other donations from the state-run firm, were used for projects for the
Vidal lamented that the PCSO and the Commission on Audit (COA) did not
even bother to check first with the bishops concerned before announcing to the media the supposedly immoral and illegal donations.
“They (PCSO and COA) should have had the fairness to inquire with
us first or ask us what this is all about,” Vidal told The STAR
Bishops Conference denies fault in
In a letter addressed to Senate blue ribbon
committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, CBCP president Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar said that there was no violation
of any law when the PCSO extended financial assistance to the Catholic Church.
Odchimar was reacting to the Constitutional
provision being cited by incumbent PCSO officials that says, "No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied,
paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution,
or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when
such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government
orphanage or leprosarium."
"We believe that where the aim and purpose of the grant or use of public funds is for public
purpose which the government has the duty to undertake, then the religious character or channel is only incidental," Odchimar
Bishop's SUV a birthday gift from then-President
"I really need a brand-new car, possibly a 4x4 which
I can use to reach the far-flung areas of Caraga (region)," Pueblos wrote in his February 8, 2009 letter to Arroyo. "I hope
you will not fail to give a brand-new car which will serve as your birthday gift to me."
In the same letter, Pueblos
assured Arroyo of his "constant support" for the former president...
Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos received
a 4x4 Montero Sport worth P1.7 million from PCSO in 2009 after requesting one from then-President Arroyo.
Photo from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines website
who got SUV as Arroyo ‘gift’ also told PNoy to resign
Juan de Dios Pueblos, who allegedly requested and received a luxury vehicle from the Arroyo administration, was the same bishop
who told President Benigno Aquino III to resign less than a year in office.
In his statement against Aquino...last
month, Pueblos said he knew dissatisfied personalities who are already plotting an attempt to remove Aquino from the presidency.
just be waiting for them to share the result of their output and see ano ba talaga ang the best for the Philippines without
bloodshed and without violence," the bishop was quoted in a report as saying.
Pueblos also criticized the President
for appointing friends and allies to government positions, and supposedly treating with a kid glove those who get embroiled
Senator Franklin Drilon said he was "appalled" by
the gall of Pueblos for calling on Aquino to resign. "Being an avid supporter of former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo,
Bishop Pueblos is the least credible person to ask for President Aquino’s resignation over unfounded allegations of
cronyism," Drilon said.
SENATOR IMPLICATES FORMER PRESIDENT
& HUSBAND IN ANOMALOUS PURCHASE OF HELICOPTERS
Sen. Panfilo Lacson implicated yesterday
former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Juan Miguel Arroyo in the anomalous purchase
of three helicopters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009.
The senator said he obtained documents
indicating that the Arroyos were the former owners of the helicopters “forcibly” sold and priced as brand-new
to the PNP for P105 million.
“The First Couple were so powerful
at that time that ramming the used helicopters down the throat of the police was easy and effortless,” Lacson said.
Lacson said the couple and other officials
who may be involved can be made liable for plunder.
“And since the proceeds could exceed
the P50-million threshold in a series of acts, those liable are candidate for a plunder case under our existing laws,”
Bolstering Lacson’s claims, an independent
source told The STAR that one of the choppers had logged 500 flying hours in 2008 alone or a year before the supposed purchase.
“If it was brand new (in 2009) why
would its batteries conk out barely a year while the PNP was using it?” the source said...
In a statement, Lacson revealed that initial findings
would indicate that the previous and original owners of the pre-owned – yet sold as brand-new – light police operational
helicopters are the Arroyos.
“While it’s bad enough that the two units
were overpriced and therefore grossly disadvantageous to the government, passing them off as brand-new smacks of brazen deceit
and utmost bad faith,” the former police chief added.
Pressure on Palace mounts
to indict, prosecute Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
The pressure on the Palace is going full blast to prosecute former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Catholic Bishop Emeritus
Teodoro Bacani said it would be a "big thing" if the Aquino administration made its predecessor liable for offenses. "It will
become a landmark decision in President Aquino's campaign against corruption," Bacani said...while various Church groups welcomed
the government move to make the previous administration accountable for certain cases, they said they would continue to doubt
Mr. Aquino's political will until Arroyo and her allies had been prosecuted...Nardy Sabino, secretary general of the ecumenical
group Promotion for Church People's Response, said other groups had already made the first move to make Arroyo accountable
for wrongdoing because the incumbent administration was "slow to take legal action." Sabino was referring to the case the
United Church of Christ in the Philippines filed last month against Arroyo for alleged human-rights abuses committed against
six of its leaders and pastors.
CARITAS MANILA: DONATIONS FROM PGSO GO TO POOR >>> The charity arm of the Archdiocese of Manila defended bishops and Church
institutions that have received sports utility vehicles from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, saying that such have
been part of the long "critical collaboration" between the Church and the government. Fr. Anton Pascual, Caritas Manila's
executive director, said the Catholic Church had clean intentions when it received funds and vehicles from the PCSO as they
formed part of its "material and spiritual" services to the poor, particularly in areas hardly accessed by the government.
PAPANGA AMBULANCE DONITIONS EXPLAINED: Former Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio said the five ambulances received by the provincial
government in September 2007 were among the eight ambulances requested by former Governor Mark Lapid for the nine district
hospitals and the provincial hospital. "The other three were no longer given due to [my] falling out with PGMA (former President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo)," Panlilio said, referring to his disclosure of receiving P500,000 after he joined a meeting of local
officials with Arroyo - who was then facing a threat of impeachment - in Malacañang. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office
(PCSO), he said, required him to personally receive the ambulances for "photo-op (photo opportunity) only." "In fact, the
photo-op was supposed to be with then Representative Mikey Arroyo (a son of Mrs. Arroyo) but he was not able to come"...
Nominees for Ombudsman are
- Former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales,
- Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento,
- Former Justice Secretary Artemio Tuquero and
- Presidential Commission on Good Government Commissioner Gerard Mosquera
|GMA faces probe on
fertilizer scam |
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered an investigation
into former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004.
Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro announced yesterday that
a fact-finding probe will be conducted on Arroyo, who now represents the second congressional district of Pampanga.
Plunder and graft cases filed against Arroyo were not investigated
when the ombudsman was Merceditas Gutierrez even after Arroyo had lost her presidential immunity from lawsuits.
Ombudsman orders Pichay dismissed
The Ombudsman orders dismissal and perpetual disqualification
from public office of Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chair Prospero Pichay over agency’s unauthorized investment
in a rural bank two years ago
New DoTC Chief Roxas
vows graft-free deals, efficient transport systems
“If we find that
that these projects are anomalous and are not in the best interest of the Filipino people, I have no problem canceling or
Among the projects to be reviewed are the Greater Maritime
Access (GMA) Ports and the NorthRail projects...The European Chamber of Commerce earlier this week called on the government
to honor these contracts, despite the reported anomalies. Scrapping the projects, the group said, would scare away potential
Roxas said the DoTC would file graft charges against government
officials who approved projects proven to have anomalous provisions.
PCSO ambulances given to 29
Allies of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were showered
not only with endowments for their constituents’ hospital and medical expenses but were also given ambulances by the
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
PCSO documents showed that 314 ambulances were given to
Arroyo’s son, Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Macapagal-Arroyo of Camarines Sur, 28 other members of the House of Representatives,
and 65 governors during the last four-and-a-half years of the administration. Each ambulance cost about P1 million.
The PCSO said 73 percent of the ambulances were awarded
at no cost to Gloria Arroyo’s allies despite the charity agency’s policy that beneficiaries must shoulder at least
40 percent of the vehicles’ price.
All the 29 members of the House got ambulances without giving
their 40-percent share.
PCSO General Manager Ferdinand Rojas II on Sunday said the
politicians emblazoned the ambulances with their images and names, and used them for nonmedical purposes—another violation
of the agency’s policy.
Rojas said the ambulance data showed the same pattern of
using PCSO funds to reward allies of Arroyo in the second half of her nine-year administration.
4 new cases eyed vs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Ex-"Good Governance" chief faces graft raps
The Office of the Ombudsman yesterday ordered
the filing of graft charges against former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Camilo Sabio before
Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro said Sabio was
accused of misappropriating almost P12 million worth of government funds.
In a 20-page resolution, he said two cases for malversation
of public funds would also be lodged against Sabio before the anti-graft court.
Sabio allegedly embezzled PCGG funds by diverting
the funds to his personal use when he made a cash advance worth P1,555,862.03 supposedly for accommodation, contingency funds,
litigation fees and other related expenses in connection with a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
He also allegedly misused government money in the
amount of P10,350,000 that was received by the PCGG as remittances by sequestered companies like the Mid-Pasig Land Development
Corp. and from the sale of A. Soriano Corp. shares which form part of the ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand
OMBUDSMAN NOW FILING GRAFT AND OTHER
CASES AT THE SANDIGANBAYAN "ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS" - HIRING MORE LAWYERS
are being invited to join the Office of the Ombudsman as prosecutors to handle cases before the Sandiganbayan...only 59 prosecutors are actually handling cases in the Sandiganbayan...As of June 15, records show that he has already disposed of 4,500 pending cases as evidenced by how he has been ordering the filing of graft and
other cases at the Sandiganbayan almost on a daily basis
"ABSENCE OF FOI ACT HAMPERS INVESTIGATION": Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated his call for the administration
to support the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in order to unearth the alleged scams of the previous administration
more effectively. Cayetano lamented that the administration has failed to investigate the anomalies of the previous administration
and file the appropriate charges against the personalities involved because of the absence of an FOI law. "In all of these
scams, what we need first is fact-finding. Let the truth be made known to everyone and reveal the documents. The problem is
there is no FOI act to make this an easy task"... Cayetano reiterated that President Aquino, who has made the battle against
corruption his key advocacy, should understand that the passage of the FOI Act is critical for the success of his agenda.
He said the FOI would improve the state of press freedom and transparency in government, "the two things that shall empower
our citizenry to collaborate with the government in aiming for a unified goal of national development."
CoA RECOMMENDS USE OF IDLE FUNDS: The Commission on Audit (CoA) has recommended that Congress be allowed to appropriate the
government's share from the Malampaya natural gas project so the funds could be included in the national budget or be used
to pay the country's debts. The CoA made the proposal after finding that P77.2 billion of the Malampaya funds had been lying
idle for eight years, while P19.4 billion went mostly to projects unrelated to energy development. While this was not illegal,
the CoA said the projects could have been funded with the budgets of the departments implementing them
more Charity Sweepstakes scams
The Commission on Audit (CoA) said the PCSO was shortchanged in the Instant Scratch Ticket (IST) project since it only received
part of its mandated share. In turn, the PCSO's beneficiariesthe sick and the pooralso got the short end of the stick. The
CoA also questioned the donation of most of its ambulances to richer local governments instead of the poorer ones, and said
the PCSOs anniversary draw was a dud because it ended up losing P77 million, instead of earning money. In its 2009 report
on the PCSO, the CoA said the charity agency was, under the law, supposed to receive 30 percent of the net receipts from the
IST project. But under the short-term agreement with its distributors, it only received 15 percent of the ticket selling price.
legal chief hits transfer over anti-corruption manifesto
For supporting a manifesto that denounces the alleged unchecked corruption and irregularities in the Philippine National Police
(PNP), a National Police Commission (Napolcom) official said he has been transferred to a post away from the agency's Makati
City main office. Lawyer Owen de Luna, who has been serving as chief legal officer and head prosecutor of the Napolcom, told
reporters he "was reassigned" to his former unit at the Napolcoms Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) office...De
Luna said the four-page manifesto is "the product of all the ideas and issues raised by whistleblowers and complainants concerning
the PNP." He said he and other Napolcom prosecutors "want to address the problems of the PNP that are the sources of corruption."
De Luna added that the manifesto also called for the passage of a law that would give more protection to whistleblowers and
strengthen the grievance machinery of the PNP...
3 CUSTOMS EXECS ACCUSED OF P179m EXTORT TRY: Three ranking officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and four private individuals
were charged with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly trying to extort P179 million from a steel firm.
Deputy Commissioner Gregorio Chavez, who heads the Run After The Smugglers (RATS) unit; his chief of staff, Jet Maronilla;
and collection officer Lucila Medina, chief of the customs bonded warehouse unit, are respondents in the case. All three are
accused of allegedly acting in conspiracy with spouses Godofredo and Anabel Mozo, both customs brokers; Leo Peter Paul Gonzales,
a former chief operating officer of the steel firm; and Marlene Jong, who claims to be Chavezs wife. Gregory Uy Chan, president
of Sanyo Seiki Steel Corp., an international company engaged in the business of supplying stainless steel, said the BOC officials
and their cohorts reportedly tried to extort more than P179 million from their firm in exchange for not accusing the company
of engaging in smuggling. "This is nothing but a scandalous shakedown The corrupt BOC officers in power are using the BOC
as an instrumentality to their illegal activities," Chan, accompanied by his lawyer, former solicitor general Frank Chavez,
said in his complaint filed before the anti-graft agency.
MALACAÑANG LOOKING FOR STRONG EVIDENCE VS ARROYO: Aside from cleaning the mess left by the previous administration, the Aquino
administration's bigger challenge is connecting discovered anomalous projects to former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo, a government official said today. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the Aquino administration has discovered
that millions of public funds went to waste or nearly went to waste due to anomalous projects entered into by the previous
administration. Abad said that President Aquino is still focused on accomplishing one of his promises when he assumed the
position last year: making previous officials accountable for the anomalous projects... The budget secretary said the current
administration is gathering solid evidence that would link the contracts to President Arroyo and other officials of the past
PET FOODS IMPORTER,CUSTOMS BROKER ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING: The Bureau of Customs filed a P474-million smuggling complaint against
a pet foods importer and a customs broker at the Justice Department. Honey Drops Marketing owner Leoby Castillo Leonidas and
customs broker Isabelita Galera were found by the Customs investigators to have made "grossly undervalued" claims on the price
of the pet foods the company imported during the last 15 months. Customs investigators claimed the shipments were undervalued
by more than 80 percent.