Thursday, August 14, 2014


Those advising the President to pursue a course that will lead to a frontal confrontation with the Supreme Court are bringing our country to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis. They are also putting in peril the President's chance to leave a positive legacy to the people. In doing so, they invoke the name of public interest. To blur the delineation between their selfish interest and public interest is dangerous and despotic.

Checks and balances are the foundations of democracy. When the Supreme Court declared the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, it was in exercise of its power and duty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution ratified during the time of President Cory Aquino.

The Constitution is quite explicit when it reposed on the judiciary not only the power but also the duty "to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch of instrumentality of government."   This was included precisely to prevent a situation where the judiciary bends to the wills of one branch, or of one man as was the case during martial law.

As one of those who fought for freedom and democracy during martial law, I appreciate the powers vested in the Supreme Court by the 1987 Constitution. It enshrines the hopes of the millions of Filipinos who made the 1986 Edsa Revolution possible for a strong judicial institution as the best safeguard against dictatorship in whatever form.

As a lawyer, I firmly believe that a democracy obligates the three co-equal branches - executive, judiciary and legislature - to respect each one's independence and recognize each one's powers, duties and limitations set by the Constitution. A healthy democracy will benefit the people.

While I respect the views of those who complain of judicial overreach as well as those who believe in lifting presidential term limits, I pray for sober reflection to restrain abrupt political initiatives. We must never allow purely partisan considerations to erode the institutions that guarantee our freedoms.

I have declared even before the President's statement the other day my opposition to Charter Change, except only on the economic provisions. My position has not changed. I will continue to oppose political Charter Change not only because of principle but because it will be destabilizing and divisive at the very moment that we need national unity.


MANILA-The NIA Board of Directors (BOD), led by Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Francis N. Pangilinan, crafted a resolution approving the reassignment of NIA officials immediately effective in August 2014. Resolution No. 8084-14 was adopted on August 9, 2014 during the BOD’s 896th Regular Board Meeting. This is also in line with one of NIA Administrator Florencio F. Padernal’s strategic efforts in organizational reform to optimize the agency’s performance in irrigation service delivery.

The approved reassignment of NIA officials is as follows:

John L. Socalo
No movement
John N. Celeste
Region 11
Region 1
Mariano G. Dancel
No movement
Antonio C. Lara
Region 2
No movement
Reynaldo D. Puno
Region 3
Josephine B. Salazar
Region 3
William P. Ragodon
Region 5
Region 4A
Efren S. Roqueza
Operations Department Manager
Region 4B
Vicente R. Vicmudo
Region 1
Region 5
Gerardo P. Corsiga
Region 6 concurrent JRMP Project Manager
No movement
Mario H. Sande
Division Manager, Central Office
Region 7
Romeo G. Quiza
Region 8
No movement
Diosdado A. Rosales
Region 9
No movement
Julius S. Maquiling
Assistant Administrator
Region 10
Alejandro L. Alberca
Region 7
Region 11
Ali S. Satol
Region 12
No movement
Encarnacion S. Soriano
No movement
Florentino R. David
Department Manager, IAS
Operations Department Manager
Guillermo R. Mercado
Division Manager, IAS
Acting Department Manager, IAS

In connection with this, an office memorandum dated August 13, 2014 was also circulated to further plaster the movements incurred by the revamp. New assignments for officials as per office memorandum are as follow:

Dexter G. Patrocinio
BBMP concurrent Engineering Dept. Manager
Modesto G. Membreve
Deputy Administrator
Mini-Hydro Projects and other Special Concerns
Genever M. Dionio
Legal Services
Legal Services Manager concurrent Acting Corporate Board Secretary
Conrado V. Cardenas, Jr.
Region 4B
Palawan IMO, Region 4B
Mario M. Hebreo
Palawan IMO, Region 4B
Mindoro Occidental IMO, Region 4B
Romeo M. Lopez
Region 4A
Cavite-Batangas IMO,
Region 4A
Hilarion C. Cedeño
Region 10
Laguna-Rizal IMO, Region 4A
Nicasio C. Pagdanganan, Jr.
Cavite-Batangas IMO,
Region 4A
Quezon IMO,
Region 4A

Prior the reassignments, Resolution No. 8078-14 signed on July 12, 2014 finalized the reinstitution of Engr. Felix M. Razo as Acting Senior Deputy Administrator and designation of Engr. Erdolfo B. Domingo (former Engineering Department Manager) as Acting Deputy Administrator for Engineering and Operations.

Engr. Padernal believes that for the agency to “rise from the rubbles,” internal movement should be encouraged. He, together with other NIA officials, is beginning to review the assignments of Irrigation Management Office (IMO) Managers. He emphasizes the marching-order for government agencies to rotate the leadership of units to avoid corruption.

Legarda Bats for 25k Minimum Salary for Teachers

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda has filed a proposed measure seeking to increase the minimum salary of public school teachers and non-teaching personnel.

Under Senate Bill No. 2351, Legarda proposed that the present minimum salary of public school teachers in the elementary and secondary schools be upgraded from P18,549 to P25,000 a month. The salaries of those occupying higher positions shall be adjusted accordingly.

Meanwhile, the minimum salary of non-teaching personnel, who provides support to teachers, will be increased from P9,000 to P15,000 per month.

“This bill aims to raise the salary of public school teachers and its non-teaching personnel to ensure that the State fulfills its responsibility of ensuring adequate compensation for teachers and to prevent our competent and efficient educators from leaving the country for better opportunities abroad,” said Legarda.

She stressed that Republic Act 4670, or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, protects the rights of public educators to a decent salary by ensuring that compensation levels compare favorably to those paid in other occupations requiring equivalent qualifications and that they ensure reasonable standard of life for themselves and their families.

“The country can only move forward in the global knowledge economy if government ensures that it invests enough on improving its human capital,” said Legarda.

The proposed measure also ensures that appropriation for the salary increase of teaching and non-teaching personnel in public schools shall take priority over non-educational and non-agricultural budgetary allocations.

Ecija jail warden murdered; Umali offers P1-M reward for gunman’s capture

CABANATUAN CITY – The jail warden of the Nueva Ecija provincial jail
was gunned down by an unidentified assailant Wednesday night in what police authorities  said could be related to his crackdown against illegal drugs inside the jailhouse.

           Senior Superintendent Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, identified the slain jail official as Enrico Campos, 55, of Barangay Mayapyap Sur this city.

          Campos, a retired policeman, died from two gunshot wounds from a caliber 45 revolver and another unknown firearm.

          Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali yesterday offered a P1-million reward for the capture of Campos’ killers and gave the Philippine National Police one month to solve the killing.

          The site where Campos was killed is near the provincial jail in Barangay Caalibangbangan. The jail is being administratively supervised by the provincial government.     

          Nieves said Campos was driving his red Honda motorcycle with license plate 8403-VK along the Maharlika Highway in Mayapyap Sur at around 7:15 pm Monday when shot by an unidentified suspect who escaped.           Campos was rushed to the Premier General Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

          In his speech marking the 113th anniversary of the Nueva Ecija police here, Umali denounced the attack and said the police should rise to the occasion and get to the bottom of the killing.

“On many occasions, you have shown that you were worthy to accept the challenge. I now challenge you to solve the murder of Campos,” he said, while announcing the bounty.

          He said he is willing to provide all the necessary support to the PNP in helping solve the crime.

          Nieves told reporters that he has formed Task Force Campos to look into the killing. He said they will do everything to solve the killing within the timeline imposed by the governor.

          “We will do our best. Of course, we cannot promise that we will have it solved in one month,” he said.

          Nieves said they are looking at several angles as possible motives for the murder of Campos, among them his work as jail warden, personal among others. He said they have received reports that the slain official implemented drastic reforms inside the jail, particularly with regards to visitations.

          He added that there have been reports that Campos imposed a crackdown against illegal drugs inside the jailhouse.

          “We have been looking into his cellphones to see if we can extract information,” he said, adding they are also looking into recordings in the closed circuit television (CCTV) which may be used as evidence.

          PO3 Erwin Gonzales, investigator-on-case, said they will also look into Campos’ records as a retired policeman to see if this could be connected to the killing. “As a former policeman, there may be certain things that could be associated with his killing,” Gonzales said.

          He said that it’s still unclear if Campos was attacked by a single assailant or by gunmen who are riding-in-tandem because the area where he was shot was dark. “In fact, people near the place where he was shot thought he just met an accident,” he said. (Manny Galvez)

11 NIA execs removed in top-level reshuffle under Padernal

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija–Eleven top officials of the National Irrigation Administration, including an assistant administrator and the chief of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems who has just been adjudged outstanding  manager, have been replaced in the first agency revamp under the month-old administration of Florencio F. Padernal.

          In NIA Board Resolution 8084, relieved from their posts were assistant administrator Julius S. Maquiling, UPRIIS operations manager Josephine Salazar, and regional managers Reynaldo Puno, John N. Celeste, Vicente R. Vicmudo, Efren S. Roqueza, William P. Ragodon, Mario H. Sande, Alejandro L. Alberca, department manager Florentino R. David and division manager Guillermo C. Mercado.

          The resolution reassigning them was adopted during the agency’s 896th regular board meeting last August 9.

          The same resolution saw the retention of eight other NIA officials namely regional managers John L. Socalo of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Antonio C. Lara (Region 2), Gerardo P. Corsiga (Region 6), Romeo G. Quiza (Region 8), Diosdado A. Rosales (Region 9), Ali S. Satol (Region 12), Encarnacion S. Soriano (Region 13) and Mariano G. Dancel, department manager of the Magat River Integrated Irrigation Systems (MARIIS).

The NIA Board is composed of presidential adviser on food security and agriculture modernization, Sec. Francis N. Pangilinan as chairman, Padernal as vice chairman and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio L. Singson, National Economic and Development Authority director-general Arsenio M. Balisacan, National Power Corp. president Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita and private sector representative Ismael D. Tabije as members.

          Padernal assumed the post of administrator from Claro V. Maranan early last month.

          Maquiling was designated regional manager of Region 10 while Salazar was named regional manager of Region 3, swapping post with Puno, who she replaced in 2011.

          Celeste was transferred from Region 11 to Region 1, replacing Vicmudo who was reassigned to Region 5. Celeste was replaced by Alberca who was relieved from Region 7 by Sande, formerly with the office of the administrator.   

Vicmudo, barely five months in his post, replaced Ragodon who was named manager of Region 4-A vice Roqueza who went to Region 4-B.

          David, formerly the department manager of the internal audit services (IAS), was named manager of the NIA central office’s operations department. He was replaced by Mercado, one of his men in the IAS. 

          Salazar’s relief came barely six weeks after the NIA’s Personnel Reward And Incentives System Evaluation (PRAISE) committee handed her the best operations manager award for her “exemplary leadership and good governance of UPRIIS which contributed significantly to NIA’s corporate viability and more importantly to the food security program of the government.”

UPRIIS, the operator of the World Bank-funded Pantabangan Dam, posted an irrigation service fee (ISF) collection of P297.9 million in 2013, up from P280.196 million in 2012. 

          A holder of a masteral degree in regional development at the University of Queensland, Australia in 2004, Salazar is on record as the youngest and first-ever female operations manager to head a NIS administratively supervised by the male-dominated NIA in its 51-year history.

UPRIIS is the country’s largest national irrigation system (NIS). It irrigates 102,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Central Luzon,  which also hosts the third largest NIS – the Angat Maasim River Irrigation System that runs and operates the Bustos Dam in Bulacan. (Manny Galvez)

DOTC wants P6.7 B for MRT subsidy Recto says Senate will ask if it can deliver on its promises

MANILA-Government is asking for a P6.6 billion subsidy for the Metro Rail Transit for next year and the Senate will assess when it hears the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) 2015 budget if the MRT can deliver on the “promissory note” it has attached to its request.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the requested
Taxpayer support for the 13-station 17-kilometer line is lodged in two items in the proposed P52.9 billion budget of the DOTC for 2015.

First is a proposed P1.92 billion for “operation and maintenance” of the MRT. The second one is a recommended P4.66 billion as “subsidy for MRT 3”.

“In addition, there’s a special provision in the budget of the DOTC which allows the agency to use ‘farebox revenue’ and ‘non-rail collections’ in settling MRT’s operating requirements and prior years’ obligations,” Recto said.

"In exchange for this amount, the DOTC is promising to reduce transfer time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes and decrease its load factor by 8 percent," Recto said, quoting from the proposed 2015 national budget Malacanang has sent to Congress.

For the whole rail sector, the DOTC is targeting an average speed of 48 kilometers per hour, a 90% on-time schedule and 4.48 million passenger kilometers travelled every day for 2015.

“As to service disruptions, it is keeping the number of what it calls ‘passenger unloading incidents’ to under 300 for the whole of 2015,” Recto said.

“We would like to know if by giving the P6.6 billion, the DOTC can redeem on its promises,” Recto said.

“I think the budget hearings to be called by the Senate will be some sort of diagnostics session on what ails the MRT and what its cures will be,” he said.

Beginning 2013, the Aquino administration has attached “countable performance indicators and final outcomes” to every allocation it is asking in the national budget.

For the current year, Congress, through the national budget, has authorized P4.09 billion as subsidy to the MRT.

On top of this is a P1.81 billion allocation for its operation and maintenance.

“I think we should also look if the public is getting value for the money it is giving MRT this year,” he said. 

On the recent Pulse Asia survey

MANILA-The recent survey validates what I have been saying all along – that the investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Ombudsman and especially the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee lack fairness and objectivity.
The DOJ-NBI have repeatedly and recklessly dragged the 3 senators’ names into the controversy, while becoming extra careful when it comes to the involvement of other lawmakers. The Ombudsman has railroaded its investigation, without giving us the chance to rebut the allegations against us nor even read copies of the affidavits (we requested) which were used as basis for finding probable cause.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, on the other hand, became the venue to demonize the three senators and publicly convicted us before the bar of public opinion. The chairman has clearly prejudged us way before it released its findings on the issue. The other members of the committee meanwhile used the panel as a forum to advance their selfish political agenda.
Note that up to now, the Blue Ribbon has not shown interest in investigating the Malampaya fund scam but it acted swiftly on the resolution calling for an inquiry on the alleged overpriced building in Makati City.
Out of the hundreds of lawmakers mentioned in the audit report on the release and utilization of PDAF, only three lawmakers are being made accountable. And out of dozens of non-government organizations who are said to have also received PDAF of legislators, they only concentrated on those connected with Janet Napoles. Clearly, this is selective justice.
Undoubtedly, the only motivation behind all these is to persecute members of the opposition while protecting allies of the administration. And the people have agreed since the patent bias and obvious prejudice of the “investigators” against the three target senators were so glaring, clear as daylight.


MANILA-Senator Sonny Angara on Thursday filed a resolution directing the appropriate committee to investigate, in aid of legislation, the recent incident involving the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) and to reexamine the current public and mass transport system in the country.

On Wednesday, dozens were injured after a defective MRT 3 coach, during rush hour, derailed and overshot its tracks at the EDSA-Taft Station in Pasay City.

"Such incident was actually an accident-in-waiting considering MRT 3 currently operates double its original capacity at 500,000 passengers a day when it was originally designed for only 350,000, and warnings from experts on the safety and maintenance of the MRT, particularly on 'metal fatigue' were made earlier this year," said Angara, chair of the committee on ways and means.

In his Senate Resolution No. 839, Angara identified recent malfunctions or incidents involving the MRT 3 since 2012, including a short-circuit that caused fire in one MRT coach at Kamuning Station in November 2012; a shutdown of MRT operations in October 2013; and when the MRT abruptly stopped at the Ayala station causing at least 10 commuters hurt; among others.

"The litany of incidents highlights the need to look into the operation-worthiness of the MRT to ensure the safety and welfare of riding public that bear daily long cues just to ply through the metro.  

"Such re-examination should include all existing and planned inter-city mass transit systems in Metro Manila and the country in the context of establishing a comprehensive, integrated, coordinated, environment-friendly, sustainable and long-term transport network," the senator said.

Angara added that government institutional set up may also be re-examined to address the weak coordination, regulation and oversight for public transportation and mass transit policies and plans.  

The lawmaker further stressed the urgent need to institute policy reforms to address the needs of the country's public and mass transport system in order to sustain the Philippines' exemplary economic performance as manifested in unprecedented GDP growth.

"An efficient mass transit system, particularly in a highly-urbanized megapolis such as the Metro Manila, is a key component and a lever for a sustained economic growth in any growing nation. We must look into this MRT 3 incident, as well as the country’s rail system and transport network policy, with the view of instituting policy reforms to address the country’s infrastructure needs in the next 50 years," Angara said.


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