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NDFP expresses support to Pinoy athletes but calls for probes on SEAG mess

Even Liberation Philippines, the official newsletter of the underground revolutionary group National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), expressed support to Filipino athletes who have begun competing in the 30th South East Asian Games.

In a social media card posted on its Facebook page, Liberation encouraged the Filipino people to continue supporting the Filipino athlete amid allegations of corruption in the Philippine hosting of the biennial regional sports spectacle.

The image showed a triumphant looking female athlete holding up a Philippine flag.

Liberation Philippines image posted on the long-standing underground publication’s Facebook page.

“The Filipino people should continue to support the Filipino athlete. Their outrage is directed at the evil Duterte-Cayetano combine,” the long-lasting underground publication said, quoting a statement issued by NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison last November 25.

In one of his several reactions to the controversies surrounding the games’ hosting, Sison expressed disgust at the Philippine government’s “naked and shameless incompetence, waste and plunder of public funds in the mismanagement of the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.”

‘Cayetano should resign’ 

Sison urged the entire Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), led by House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, to resign and be replaced by “a Filipino Olympian, a World Record holder or a Former National Athlete, with known administrative skills and with a competent team” who could “quickly assess the situation.”

Sison expressed confidence that the SEA Games can still be saved, adding, however, “it will require Herculean efforts and strong national unity that could only come from a high sense of patriotism and credible new leadership.”

He said Cayetano and his entire committee should all be investigated and prosecuted.

Cayetano for his part has repeatedly apologized for the problems besetting the hosting of the games, including unfinished venues, mismanagement of athletes’ accommodations and food, even allegations of overpriced installations and apparel.

He, however, blamed the Senate for the delay in the approval of the games’ budget, an allegation immediately refuted by his Senate counterpart Vicente Sotto III.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte also expressed anger at the fiascos surrounding the games.

“The blunders could have been avoided. Those are actually easy to address. That’s why the President is angry,” Panelo told reporters at the sidelines of the president’s trip in South Korea Tuesday, November 26. 

‘Plague afflicting Philippine sports’

In light of the government’s blame games, however, Sison said, “it is time to re-examine and finally end the corrupt bureaucrat capitalist rule of reactionary politicians, retired military generals and oligarchs in Philippine sports who thrive on stealing public funds.”

“They are the plague afflicting Philippine sports. Their corruption takes away from athletes the leadership roles, state funding and competent management of their national associations.,” Sison said.

“Left on their own and with adequate state and public support, our athletes can do better in looking after their own development and welfare than the likes of Cayetano,” he added.

Sison said that while it turns out the P50-million cauldron could be the most scandalous problem that arose from the games, investigations to be held may reach up to the highest office in government.

“[I]t should light up the paper trails of corruption, ineptitude and mismanagement that lead to and incriminate the Office of the President and the Office of the House Speaker,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

2020 national budget, hiniling na i-sentro sa serbisyo at kabuhayan

Hiniling ng iba’t-ibang grupo na ilaan sa serbisyong panlipunan at pang-matagalang kabuhayan ang nakasalang na pambansang badyet ng pamahalaan sa susunod na taong 2020.

Sa isang press conference noong Martes, 26 Nobyembre, isiniwalat nila na ang maling paggamit ng pondo ng bayan tulad ng kontrobersyal na hosting ng Southeast Asian Games at maging ang “Build Build Build” program ng administrasyong Rodrigo Duterte na anila’y para lamang sa madalian at di permanenteng ganansiya.

Sa halip, ayon sa mga grupo, ay dapat dagdagan ang badyet para sa edukasyon, kalusugan, agrikultura, at iba pa. (Bidyo ni Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

SEAG cloaks land-grabbing and illegal deals, farmers claim

Beyond the series of embarrassing reports related to the ill-prepared hosting of South East Asian Games (SEAG) are possible cases of massive land-grabbing and illegal deals, a farmers’ group claimed.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) accused the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), led by House of Representatives Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, of selling off vast tracks of agricultural land in Central Luzon to a Malaysian firm under the guise of hosting the biennial sports event.

“The Philippines government’s real intention in the hosting of the SEA Games is to pimp our land and resources, particularly the 9,450 hectare-New Clark City in Central Luzon,” KMP vice-chairperson Joseph Canlas said in a statement.

Canlas said that the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) inked a multi-billion deal with a Malaysian company MTD Capital Berhad for the development of New Clark City (NCC) as a SEAG venue for two events.

Canlas’ group, however, said the sports complex is a part of the Phase 1A Development of the NCC that also includes the construction of a national government center complex.

The group said the PHISGOC and the BCDA, chaired by Vivencio ‘Vince’ Dizon, “circumvented legal processes and entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with MTD Capital Berhad for the construction of world-class sports facilities inside the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.”

 “As a result of the deal, the [Philippine] government will have to pay the Malaysian firm the amount of Php11.1-billion for five years as repayment for the 20,000-seater athletics stadium, a 2,000-seater aquatic center, and an athletes’ village,” the KMP said.

The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) gave a green light to the deal that did not go through proper public bidding, the group added. 

As it turned out, the KMP noted, the project was a build-and-transfer and not a joint venture agreement.

“Dizon, who leads the BCDA, was recently appointed as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects. He is a known broker of Chinese investments in the Philippines, and a close ally of House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano who is also under fire because of the overpriced Php50-million Olympic cauldron and the despicable PHISGOC SEA Games hosting,” the KMP revealed.

By 2020, MTD will start Phase 1B of the project that will build two seven-story government buildings, an integrated operations center, government housing, parks, and recreation centers, among other infrastructure, the farmers added.

The group also revealed that at least 10 local and foreign firms are eyeing investments in NCC including the $2-billion China Industrial Park spanning 500-hectares to be constructed by the China Gezhouba Group. 

The Chinese industrial park will cater to light and medium industries such as those engaged in semiconductor and information technology, the group said, adding that farmers and indigenous peoples groups will finally be driven away from the area.

“Wala o kulang ang lupang sinasaka ng mga magsasaka pero ibinuyangyang sa mga dayuhan ang mga lupang agrikultural at lupang ninuno sa Tarlac at Pampanga,” Canlas said.  

“May kumikita ng bilyon-bilyon sa mga proyektong nakakabit sa SEA Games at isinasangkalan ang karapatan sa lupa ng mga magsasaka at katutubo,” he added.

P2.2 billion a year

KMP’s revelations echoed warnings repeatedly issued by Senator Franklin Drilon who earlier slammed the Rodrigo Duterte government’s decision to borrow a large sum of money to host the games.

“We are incurring a loan here. Inutang natin ito from a Malaysian firm payable in five years’ time at P2.2 billion a year,” Drilon said in a television interview on November 21.

The government will be paying a Malaysian bank a total of P11 billion for the next five years over its hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has claimed.

 While clarifying that he is not against the hosting of the SEA Games, Drilon said that borrowing money raises the question of propriety considering the government is already suffering from a P624-billion deficit this year.

Drilon and Cayetano also traded bards on the P50 million spent on the games cauldron to be lit on the formal SEAG on November 30 at NCC.

Cayetano has reportedly confirmed that P1.5 billion of the funds for the SEAG did not undergo bidding due to time constraints brought about by delays in the Senate’s approval of their requested budget.

Cayetano blamed Drilon for the delay. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Injustices breed activism, teachers tell Bato and Albayalde

The Filipino people’s intensifying poverty and other social injustices drive students to activism, a teachers group said in response to accusations they encourage their students to join rallies.

Replying to accusations by Senator Bato dela Rosa and police chief Oscar Albayalde that teachers encourage “anti-government” sentiments among students and the youth, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said it is not the teachers’ fault but poverty, corruption and human rights violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

The two officials separately blamed the teachers following a Senate hearing where dela Rosa presented parents who complained that their children have left home and joined activist organizations.

Dela Rosa and Albayalde said teachers should “just do their jobs and not make students turn against the government.”

Dela Rosa went as far as ask that teachers who encourage students to join rallies must be fired.

“They should be removed. Parents enter [sic] their students there [in schools] to become professionals, not to fight the government,” Dela Rosa said.

Albalyalde, for his part accused the teachers of brainwashing their students.

“What they should stop [doing] is brainwash[ing] the students. You are a teacher, you act like a teacher,” Albayalde said.

Their statement did not sit well with the teachers.

What the teachers are doing

 “The two officials are not in the position to lecture us on our jobs. Their stances show that they have very little appreciation of the objectives of education,” ACT national chairperson Joselyn Martinez retorted in a statement Friday, August 16.

Martinez  said teachers are teaching their students patriotism, love of humanity, human rights, heroism, history, rights and duties of citizens, ethical and spiritual values, moral character and personal discipline, critical and creative thinking, scientific and technological knowledge and vocational efficiency as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.

“It is not the teachers’ fault if the government leadership acts in contrast to the values upheld by education. They should not blame us if the youth calls out the government for the ills that they see in society. We are only doing our job,” she explained.

Martinez said that the government should not find fault in teachers encouraging students to attend rallies as these are “real-life events that hold many learnings for the students.”

“It exposes our students to people from different walks of life who have grievances that are worth hearing. It helps broaden the youth’s view of our society and offers education that cannot be learned inside the classroom and from textbooks,” Martinez said.

It is the two officials who should show respect instead of preventing the youth from exercising their rights, the teacher said.

Part of democracy

Martinez hit dela Rosa and Albayalde for “demonizing activism and rallies which are basic constitutional rights of the people, including students and teachers.”

“In the guise of attempting to curb armed rebellion, dela Rosa and Albayalde are in effect discrediting the fundamental rights of the people to free expression, self-organization and to protest. It is them who are not doing their jobs as being government officials, their constitutional duty is to respect and uphold such rights,” Martinez said.

“Rallying is not a crime. It appears that dela Rosa’s and Albayalde’s rants all boil down to this administration’s intolerance of dissent. They should stop in their desperate bid to silence critics. We’re in a democracy after all,” Martinez said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Research group: Davao businessmen may be benefiting from Duterte admin’s infra program

Amid government hype of its Build, Build, Build program, research group IBON noted that there has been a conspicuous increase in public infrastructure spending in the Davao region that seems to have favored Davao-based businessmen.

The group observed that close allies of the president have benefited from the government spending surge by clinching a number of contracts.

IBON cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)  showing that the gross value of public construction in the Davao Region increased by 17.6% from 2016-2017.

The region had the highest increase of gross value in public construction among other regions during the same period.

Among the Davao-based businessmen is the family of former Special Assistant to the President and newly-elected Senator Bong Go who through CLTG builders secured 20 contracts in 2017 for road networks in Davao, said the group. These were worth around Php3 billion in solo projects and joint ventures.

In 2018, CLTG Builders also bagged Php116 million worth of projects in Davao. CLTG builders is owned by Bong Go’s father, Desiderio Go.

Another notable Davao-based businessman is Dennis Uy who, according to the president’s Statement of Contributions and Expenditures, donated around Php30 million to his presidential campaign.

Data from the Public-Private Partnership Center shows that Uy has three unsolicited proposals in Davao that include the Davao International Airport worth Php48.8 billion, Davao People Mover worth Php30 billion, and the Davao Sasa Port Modernization Project worth Php18.7 billion.

Another unsolicited proposal of Uy is the Pasay City Reclamation Project worth Php62 billion.

IBON meanwhile noted that other businessmen may also be gaining from the Build, Build, Build program.

For instance, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar’s father, Manuel Villar, through Prime Asset Ventures Inc. (PAVI) is eyeing two unsolicited proposals worth Php213.3 billion.

These include the LRT 6 Cavite Line A project worth Php56.3 billion, and the Cavite LRT Line 6c and Sucat Line 6b Projects worth Php157 billion.

IBON reiterated that while the country badly needs infrastructure, genuine development from the Build, Build, Build program can only be achieved if it supports the development of domestic agriculture and Filipino industries.

The Duterte government should not be beholden to its backers and instead pursue an infrastructure program that is not profit-oriented and provides for the Filipino people’s welfare, said the group. #

Business League: Congress of the Elite

By Yvette Balita, Joshua Poe Cadano, Dana Eunise Cruz and Arjay Ivan Gorospe

(Part three of three)

[Read the first part here: Party-list (Mis)Representatives]

[Read the second part here: Party-list groups: Family Enterprise]

While the Party-list System Act of 1995 aims to represent and enable marginalized and underrepresented sectors, multi-millionaires and billionaires remain to be the dominant members of the House of Representatives.

There have been instances where the party-list system had been used by the elite to further their business interests by taking advantage of national and local expenditures, as was the case in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

From the 15th to the 17th Congress, Christopher Co of Ako Bicol  (AKB) and Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. of Buhay party-list have consistently been part of the richest party-list representatives. The representatives have net worths of P104.4 million and P52.4 million respectively, according to their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) in 2017.

Other rich lawmakers from the past decade are Virgilio Lacson of Manila Teachers, Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay of Senior Citizen, Jesulito Manalo of Angkla, Michael Romero of 1-PACMAN, and Emmeline Aglipay-Villar of Diwa.

Conflict of interest?

Co, owner of Hi-Tone Construction and Development, has been in the top 10 list of richest party-list representatives from 2010 up to present. He is also the brother of Elizaldy Co, the head of the transnational group Sunwest Group of Companies, Tektone Global Technologies Foundation, commercial hub Embarcadero de Legazpi, and other construction firms, malls and resorts.

His net worth from 16th to 17th Congress surged by P8,731,517, and P8,008,565 from 15th to the 16th. He was investigated, along with other district representatives in 2014, due to conflicting business interests in the projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The House committee on good government and accountability then investigated the release of at least P10.2 billion of the P69.7-billion congressional insertions spent in the last months of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The DPWH expended the infrastructure funds to 1,074 projects despite having no revenues, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said during the hearing, adding that it is against the General Appropriations Act.

In the probe of the House committee, it turned out that the company of Co was among the top 10 contractors involved. The late Rep. Rodel Batocabe, his party mate, questioned the House committee probe to defend him.

Due to Ako Bicol’s business interests, members of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), a member-organization of poll watchdog Kontra Daya, filed a disqualification case against the party-list group in 2010. In an ABS-CBN news report, Ako Bicol admitted being funded by the Delfin A. Co Foundation which shouldered the group’s development projects and scholarship programs.

The petitioners also traced that the employment provided to thousands of Bicolanos were from Co’s Tektone Foundation. “Both Elizaldy and Christopher are wealthy magnates in Bicol and the Philippines and they together, cannot represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors,” the petition says. In addition, the family of Co has close links to Arroyo.

In the same year, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed the petition against Ako Bicol since it had to uphold the will of the electorate after the party-list group obtained the most number of votes. But in 2012, Comelec disqualified Ako Bicol for the 16th Congress. Then Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes said that the group is a registered political party, not a marginalized people’s representative.

However, the Supreme Court released new parameters or guidelines for the party-list elections in 2013. It states that national parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent any marginalized and underrepresented sector. As a result, Comelec allowed Ako Bicol to run.

Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. is another lawmaker who joins Co in the top 10 list of multi-millionaire party-list representatives from 2010 to present. His father, Bro. Mike Velarde, is preacher and owner of Amvel Land Development Corporation.

In 2010, Kontra Daya asked Comelec to investigate 40 party-list groups which do not represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Even if Velarde is one of those listed, he was still able to run under Buhay Party-list.

Re-electionists

Other partylist representatives in the top 10 list of millionaires in congress include Michael Romero, Jesulito Manalo, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Virgilio Lacson, and Milagros Magsaysay. These candidates were all elected during the 16th congress and re-elected in the 17th congress.

Richest Party-list Representatives of the 17th Congress

Name Partylist Networth Business Association Business-related bills forwarded
1) Michael Romero 1-PACMAN, 7,291,000,000.00 Globalport 900 Inc. GlobalPort Batang Pier (PBL team) 168 Ferrum Pacific Mining Position Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc. Mikro-Tech Capital Inc. Harbour Centre Port Holdings, Inc. R-II Holdings, Inc. MIC Holdings Corp. R-II Builders, Inc. enactment of House Bill (HB) 159 seeking to strengthen the right of government to expropriate lands for socialized housing
2) Emmeline Aglipay-Villar DIWA 1,407,459,436.00 Vista Land and Lifescapes Authored HB 04805, also known as An act mandating the Department of Agriculture to promote urban agricultural development in the country’s metropolitan areas, to address food security, and providing funds therefor
3) Virgilio Lacson Manila Teachers 791,690,847.37 Manila Teachers’ Savings and Loan Association He authored several bills on banking and finance including HB 08453, An Act instituting reforms in real property valuation and assessment in the philippines, reorganizing the bureau of local government finance, and appropriating funds therefor
4) Jesulito Manalo ANGKLA 118,639,794.00 He is one of the founders of Manalo and Perez Law Offices.  
5) Christopher Co AKO Bicol; 15th – 17th 104,440,082.50   CEO of Sunwest Group of Companies  
6) Milagros Magsaysay Senior Citizen 95,100,000.00 She is related to Ramon Magsaysay, the 7th President of the Philippines. She is also the grandmother of Miguel Corleon Magsaysay, a councilor in San Juan, La Union.    
7) Enrico Pineda 1 PACMAN 85,5000,000.00 Manny Pacquiao’s business manager; team manager of Pacquiao’s PBA team Mahindra Enforcer. He authored HB04054 which seeks to provide tax incentives to individuals and corporations giving donations, contributions, and grants to filipino athletes who have won medals in the summer olympic games
8) Michaelina Antonio AGBIAG 80,350,815.22 Her husband was the Partylist’s former Representative  
9) Aniceto Bertiz III ACTS OFW, 17th Congress 54,265,000.00 Global Asia Alliance Consultant Inc. He was involved in a heated discussion  with Eman Villanueva, a leader of OFWs in Hong Kong, after the latter brought up Bertiz’ recruitment agency.  He also authored HB 01302, an act establishing a special social security for migrant workers, which amends section 37-a of republic act no. 8042, on the compulsory insurance coverage by private insurers for agency hired workers.
10) Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. BUHAY 52,387,126.78 Son of Bro. Mike Velarde, the owner of Amvel Land Development Corporation. The other nominees of their party-list include William Irwin Tieng, whose family controls Solar Sports. A resolution directing the committee on revision of laws to index the fines under the revised penal code to adjust to present level of inflationary rates

Controversies

The Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, also called the PDAF scam or the pork barrel scam exposed large sums allegedly misused by several members of the Congress and Senate.

Based on the 2013 annual audit report of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos released and posted on the Commission on Audit website, the following partylist representatives released part of the PDAF and Disbursement Acceleration Program allocations to alleged bogus foundations and suppliers:

Partylist RepresentativePartylistAmount
Daryl Grace AbayonAangat TayoP 44.8 million
Salvador Cabaluna IIII-CareP 37.5 million
Michael Angelo RiveraI-CareP 27.5 million
Mariano PiamonteA-TeacherP 20 million
Maximo RodriguezAbante Mindanao Inc.P 15.5 million
Raymond Democrito MendozaTUCPP 14 million
Abigail FerriolKalingaP 11.35 million
Angelo PalmonesAghamP 10 million
Ranulfo CanonigoKakusaP 10 million
Manuel AgyaoKalingaP 5.5 million
Sharon GarinAAMBIS OwaP 5 million
Mark Aeron SambarPL-PBAP 5 million
Neil Benedict MontejoAn-WarayP 5 millon
Homer Mercado1-UtakP 4.5 million
Isidro LicoAting KoopP 3 million
Ponciano PayuyoApecP 2 million

Indeed, there is evidence to prove that the party-list system has been hijacked by the rich and powerful. The Party-list System Act of 1995 which is supposed to make the House of Representatives truly representative has made it cruelly repressive. #

Duterte on the Commission on Audit

“Ah p***** i** ’yang COA na ’yan, l****. Kasi ’yang COA, every time, may mali talaga. Ano ba itong COA na ito? So, mag-kidnap tayo ng taga-COA ilagay natin, i-torture natin dito. T*** i** (That son of a b**** COA. The COA commits mistakes. What is this COA? Let’s just kidnap someone from COA and torture him. Son of a b****)–President Rodrigo Duterte, Pasay City, 10 January 2019 (Cartoon by Mark Suva/Kodao)

Military wants to take over OPAPP, Joma says

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the issue of corruption that led to the resignation of Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza is a mere pretext in order for President Rodrigo Duterte to close all doors to the peace negotiations.

Asked to comment on Dureza’s resignation, Sison said that Duterte also wants to place the billions of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and its Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program under corrupt politicians and the military.

“The issue of corruption is a mere pretext because the Office of the President is anyway the stinking center of corruption,” Sison told Kodao.

Sison said the “racket” in PAMANA is also in the invention of fake beneficiaries and in favouring some local politicians.

“The military officers and some mayors have become notorious for pocketing privately E-CLIP (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program) funds for fake surrenderers. Now, they want to take over the PAMANA under OPAPP,” he said.

Dureza resigned as Presidential peace adviser Tuesday (November 27) for failing to curb corruption at the OPAPP after Duterte publicly fired Undersecretary for Support Services Ronald Flores and Assistant Secretary for PAMANA Yeshton Donn Baccay in a speech in Panglao Island, Bohol Monday.

But Sison said the real issue is the military’s desire to control OPAPP to prevent serious  peace negotiations with the NDFP.

This is made clear by Duterte’s announcement of the formation of death squads with the license to kill just anyone who is suspected of being or still becoming NPA.

“Duterte is absolutely crazy in announcing he is forming death squads with the license to kill any istambay (loiterers), any critic, any activist or just anyone whom the death squads suspect or think of becoming or being NPA,” Sison said.

“He wants Oplan Kapayapaan to compete with Oplan Tokhang in murdering thousands of people,” he added.

Sison added that Duterte is obviously becoming desperate because Oplan Kapayapaan has failed to defeat the NPA in the guerrilla fronts.

“Not a single guerrilla front has been destroyed even in Mindanao where he has concentrated 75 of his total of 98 maneuver battalions under conditions of martial law. Duterte has gone out of his mind,” Sison said.

Sison further echoed Caloocan Catholic Bishop Pablo Virgilio David’s observation that the President is mentally sick.

“He needs psychiatric help and should be removed from his position,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Dureza resigns as Presidential peace adviser

Secretary Jesus Dureza resigned Tuesday following President Rodrigo Duterte’s public termination of two senior officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) due to corruption.

The former secretary made public his letter to the President apologizing for his failure to curb corruption in the office he twice headed.

“I am sad because despite my efforts to be compliant with your strong advocacy against corruption, I failed,” Dureza wrote.

Duterte last Monday (November 26) announced he terminated OPAPP Undersecretary for Support Services Ronald Flores and Assistant Secretary Yeshton Donn Baccay of the agency’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.

“I am very sad that I accepted the resignation of Secretary Dureza,” Duterte said Tuesday at the inauguration of the new airport in Panglao Island, Bohol.

Dureza also served as peace adviser to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It is the second time in two successive terms the OPAPP was involved in allegations of corruption.

Corruption infested

In 2015, the Commission on Audit (COA) red-flagged OPAPP, then headed by Teresita Deles, for overspending on vehicle rentals by 469 percent.

According to COA, the OPAPP in 2014 spent P45 million on vehicle rentals instead of the appropriated P7.97 million.

Government auditors revealed that OPAPP rented a total of 294 vehicles in 2014, in addition to the 56 vehicles already owned by the agency.

COA reported that the office used funds from other programs to pay for car rentals without prior approval from the Department of Budget and Management.

The terminations and resignation this week revealed that corruption is apparently continuing in the agency.

PAMANA is OPAPP’s complimentary program to its role in the government’s peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The program claims it is aimed at extending development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach and conflict-affected communities through improved governance, poverty reduction and community empowerment in the hope of addressing issues of conflict.

Duterte and Dureza did not elaborate on the alleged corruption by Flores and Baccay.

“I take full responsibility and apologise for all this,” Dureza said, adding his voluntary resignation is also to make way for needed reorganization that Duterte may wish to undertake at OPAPP.

AFP chief to take over?

Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Carlito Galvez Jr. told reporters that he wishes to become a peace adviser when he retires in December.

Galvez told reporters last November 19 that he conveyed his desire to Dureza and that he “accepted my request.”

Galvez however said he wishes to focus on the government’s peace process with the MILF.

Dureza did not comment on Galvez’s announcement.

The President’s high school classmate remains in government as special envoy to the European countries.

The MILF and the NDFP have yet to comment on Dureza’s resignation. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial law victims want Imelda behind bars

Martial law victims and activists held a picket protest outside Sandiganbayan office in Quezon City to demand for the arrest warrant for Imelda Marcos following its guilty verdict against the former First Lady.

Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) welcomed the conviction and asked the court to immediately put Marcos behind bars.

The group also reacted to the statement of PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde that Imelda might not be arrested because of her age and health conditions.

Albayalde’s statement did not surprise the martial law human rights victims since the Rodrigo Duterte government has been giving the Marcos family special treatment, SELDA said.

SELDA added that Sandiganbayan’s guilty verdict is a landmark decision that should be upheld.

SELDA called on the Sandiganbayan to stand by tits decision and not be cowed by the Marcoses’ alliance with Duterte. # (Report by Joseph Cuevas / Video by Carlo Francisco / Featured Image by Jinky Mendoza-Aguilar)