Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Expect Mike Arroyo’s lawyers to produce a deed of sale bearing the name of another person to show that the husband of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not the owner of the two secondhand helicopters sold to the Philippine National Police, Sen. Franklin Drilon said on Sunday.
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The "allocation of constituional boundaries" is a task that this Court must perfomr under the Constitution. Moreowever, as held in a recent case, 12 "(t)he political question doctrine neither interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of the rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit constitutional boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate that obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although said provision by no means does away with kthe applicability of the principle in appropriate cases." 13
The Court is thus of the considered view that it has jurisdiction over the present controversy for the purpose of determining the scope and extent of the power of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct inquiries into private affirs in purported aid of legislation.
Coming to the specific issues raised in this case, petitioners contend that (1) the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's inquiry has no valid legislative purpose, i.e., it is not done in aid of legislation; (2) the sale or disposition of hte Romualdez corporations is a "purely private transaction" which is beyond the power of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to inquire into; and (3) the inquiry violates their right to due process.
The 1987 Constition expressly recognizes the power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. 14 Thus, Section 21, Article VI thereof provides:
The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committee may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. 15
The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is not, therefore, absolute or unlimited. Its exercise is circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of the Constitution. Thus, as provided therein, the investigation must be "in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure" and that "the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected." It follows then that the rights of persons under the Bill of Rights must be respected, including the right to due process and the right not to be compelled to testify against one's self.
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One of the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution to an individual is the right against self-incrimination. 24 Thir right constured as the right to remain completely silent may be availed of by the accused in a criminal case; but kit may be invoked by other witnesses only as questions are asked of them.
This distinction was enunciated by the Court in Romeo Chavez vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al. 25 thus —
Petitioner, as accused, occupies a different tier of protection from an ordinary witness. Whereas an ordinary witness may be compelled to take the witness stand and claim the privilege as each question requiring an incriminating answer is hot at him, an accused may altother refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any all questions.
Moreover, this right of the accused is extended to respondents in administrative investigations but only if they partake of the nature of a criminal proceeding or analogous to a criminal proceeding. In Galman vs. Pamaran, 26the Court reiterated the doctrine in Cabal vs. Kapuanan (6 SCRA 1059) to illustrate the right of witnesses to invoke the right against self-incrimination not only in criminal proceedings but also in all other types of suit
It was held that:
We did not therein state that since he is not an accused and the case is not a criminal case, Cabal cannot refuse to take the witness stand and testify, and that he can invoke his right against self-incrimination only when a question which tends to elicit an answer that will incriminate him is propounded to him. Clearly then, it is not the characeter of the suit involved but the nature of the proceedings that controls. The privilege has consistenly been held to extend to all proceedings sanctioned by law and to all cases in which punishment is sought to be visited upon a witness, whether a party or not.
We do not here modify these doctrines. If we presently rule that petitioners may not be compelled by the respondent Committee to appear, testify and produce evidenc before it, it is only becuase we hold that the questioned inquiry is not in aid of legislation and, if pursued, would be violative of the principle of separation of powers between the legislative and the judicial departments of government, ordained by the Constitution.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court holds that, under the facts, including the circumtance that petitioners are presently impleaded as defendants in a case before the Sandiganbayan, which involves issues intimately related to the subject of contemplated inquiry before the respondet Committee, the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is hereby enjoined from compelling the petitioners and intervenor to testify before it and produce evidence at the said inquiry.
Fernan, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Feliciano, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr. and Romero, JJ., concur.
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In my humble opinion, with my elementary understanding of the law and its workings, the Senate hearings are clearly not being done in aid of legislation but as a form of trial by publicity. Clearly, the statements made by some senators that Mike Arroyo is sure to go to jail for his involvement in the "helicopter purchase" scandal shows the true intention of the solons, for, if it is truly in aid of legislation, they have no more need to pursue these hearings, for they have enough to craft new laws or rectify existing ones to prevent such incidents from ever happening again. The only purpose left for these hearings is to continue to vilify the Arroyos and humiliate them, without giving them the chance to defend themselves in a court of law, as guaranteed by our Constitution.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
"Does he have problems with the past administration? Let the courts deal with that. He should be rallying the Philippines towards a better country," he said.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The first time I saw it in quite a dramatic way was when Angelo Reyes shot himself in the heart before his mother’s grave. His preference for the heart rather than the head apparently held a symbolism of sorts. He had promised his mother he would never tarnish the name he carried. With his gesture, he begged her forgiveness, without necessarily admitting the things he was being accused of.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
That's leadership you won't get with Penoy. 30
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Margie perjured herself and there must be consequences to this. In fact, many people are beginning to suspect that the Pajero issue cropped up in an attempt to "put the bishops in their proper place" and to shame Gloria Arroyo (killing two birds with one stone, so to speak).
Statement at the public hearing on alleged PCSO anomalies
held by the blue ribbon committee on 13 July 2011
It appears from the 2009 report by the Commission on Audit that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office charged to its Charity Fund the total amount ofP6.94 million for five utility vehicles granted to certain dioceses of the Catholic church.
On the face of each check, in so many words, the following explanation was typed: “Purchase of one unit 4 x 4 service vehicle to be used by the diocese in its various community and health programs.”
Each of the bishops involved used the PCSO grants to purchase the following utility vehicles: a secondhand ten-year-old Nissan Pathfinder pickup; a Mitsubishi Strada pickup; a Toyota Grandia Hi-Ace; a Mitsubishi Montero; and an Isuzu Crosswind.
The COA report said that this action was a violation of the constitutional provision that no public money should be appropriated, directly or indirectly, for the use of any church.
The Constitution contains at least three specific provisions concerning the relationship of church and state.
The first provision is found in Article 2, Declaration of Principles, which states in Section 6: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”
The second provision is found in Article 3, Bill of Rights, which states in Section 5: “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
And the third provision is found in Article 6, the Legislative Department, which states in Section 29 paragraph 2: “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. . . .”
The issue is whether the 2009 COA report is correct, in finding that the grant ofP6.49 million to certain dioceses of the Catholic church violates the Constitution.
I humbly submit that the COA report is wrong, and that there was no constitutional violation. Under the Constitution, the power of the COA is to audit government funds, not to settle questions of constitutional law. That power is granted only to the Supreme Court. COA should have recommended that the constitutional issue should be raised with the Department of Justice, which is the official legal adviser of the executive branch of the government.
Constitutional law consists, not only of the Constitution, but also of the cases decided by the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds. So far, the only case decided by the Supreme Court that has some bearing on the present issue is the 1937 case ofAglipay v. Ruiz.
The post office issued postage stamps commemorating an international eucharistic congress of the Catholic church. The issue was whether the stamps used public money for religious purposes, thus violating the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that there was no violation:
It is obvious that while the issuance and sale of the stamps in question may be said to be inseparably linked with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the Roman Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Government. We are of the opinion that the Government should not be embarrassed in its activities simply because of incidental results, more or less religious in character, if the purpose had in view is one which could legitimately be undertaken by appropriate legislation. The main purpose should not be frustrated by its subordination to mere incidental results not contemplated. (Emphasis added.)
Thus, the test is the basic purpose, and not the mere incidental result, of the use of public funds. The basic purpose of the grant of public funds is clearly stated on the face of the checks themselves: “purchase of service vehicles to be used by the diocese in its various community and health programs.” If there is any benefit to the bishop and the diocese, it is merely incidental.
The Threefold Test:
Purpose, Effect, Entanglement
The provision in our Bill of Rights consists of two clauses:
The Establishment Clause, prohibiting Congress from establishing a state religion; and
The Free Exercise Clause, denying to Congress the power to prohibit the free exercise of religion.
Under the Establishment Clause, the general guide is the concept of “neutrality.” This means that government should act to achieve only goals which are secular, meaning goals which are worldly; as distinguished from goals which are spiritual. Government should achieve secular goals in a religiously neutral manner.
To determine what is a religiously neutral act, the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted a threefold test called purpose, effect, entanglement. To determine whether a law that is religiously neutral on its face violates the Establishment Clause, the Court will consider three factors, which I shall now apply to the pending PCSO case:
1. Does the law have a secular purpose?
Answer: Yes, because the PCSO law (R.A. No. 1169, as amended) authorizes the PCSO “to engage in health and welfare-related investments, programs, projects, and activities,” by itself or in collaboration with others.
2. Does the law have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion?
Answer: No, the PCSO law does not even mention religion.
3. Does the law create an excessive entanglement between government and religion?
Answer: No, as I shall now explain.
The threefold test was laid down in the 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzmandecided by the US Supreme Court. It is not binding, but it is authoritative in our jurisdiction. In Lemon, the Court said that in determining whether a law involves excessive entanglement between government and religion, we must conduct the following analysis:
1. Consider the nature of the institution that received the benefit from the government.
2. Consider the nature of the aid that the government gave to the bishops.
3. Consider the resulting relationship between the government and the bishops.
The donations pass the threefold legal test under jurisprudence. However, during the hearing, PCSO management apparently admitted that it has not given similar donations to any other religion. If so, then PCSO management appears to be giving preference to the Catholic religion, and that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Repeal the PCSO Charter
As chair of the Senate committee on revision of laws, I shall call a public hearing this August on a new PCSO charter, as well as a new Pagcor charter. Both the PCSO and Pagcor funds constitute the President’s Social Fund, which has served as a black budget, meaning a budget insulated from public scrutiny, confined to the dark and insulated from sunshine, sneaked through the back door instead of undergoing the open process of congressional budgetary authorization.
Under existing law, PCSO generates revenues from the sale of sweepstakes and lotto tickets. The resulting revenues are allocated, as follows:
55% to the Prize Fund
30% to the Charity Fund
15% to the Operating Fund
The Charity Fund and the Operating Fund – or in other words, 45% of the revenues – are allocated by the PCSO Board, apparently with the approval of the President. According to the 2008 COA report, the total deposits to the bank’s current account for the three Funds were in the aggregate amount of P7.603 BILLION.
To give to the PCSO Board the power to allocate the galactic sum of P7.603 BILLION A YEAR is to excavate a yawning democratic deficit. The present situation is feudal and contrary to best international practice. The best practice is the one-fund concept, under which all government revenues are remitted to the Treasury, and disbursed only as authorized by Congress. There should be no President’s Social Fund, because the entire government budget is already his budget. This is why we call it the President’s Budget.
The new law will repeal not only the PCSO charter, but also all the various republic acts that seek to allocate certain PCSO funds to alphabet-soup national programs. The new law will limit the PCSO Board only to the function of regulating and supervising sweepstakes and lotto operations.
The entire revenues for the year will be remitted to the national treasury. Only the President and Congress will prioritize and allocate the fund, except that 5% of the lotto earnings shall be given to local government units, and only 10% shall be allocated for administrative expenses. The PCSO bureaucracy shall be slashed, their allowances and privileges abolished, and the public relations budget removed.
And while this process of building on the ashes takes place, I respectfully move that this blue ribbon committee should immediately recommend to the Ombudsman the criminal prosecution of all PCSO officials responsible for depositing in 2009 with a private commercial bank the sum of P1.548 BILLION without the prior approval of the Department of Finance, as required under DOF Order No. 27-05.
By the process of lateral thinking, I respectfully move to investigate the source of the false report about the so-called “Pajero bishops,” when it turns out that no Pajeros were involved. Who is this maleficent twisted genius? Was this media spin designed to cover up the crime of depositing without authorization in a private bank the sum of P1.548 BILLION? Was this media spin further designed to call public attention away from the annual sum of some P 7.6 BILLION made available to the sticky fingers of the PCSO Board?
Like the wanton world-class theft of public funds and conspicuous consumption generated by the road user’s tax, the PCSO anomaly is bodaciously corrupt. Keep the bishops out of it. #
 64 Phil. 206 (1937).
 403 US 602 (1971).
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
In his show on DZBB last week, Arnold Clavio shared this blind item.
Sino itong mataas na opisyal na opisyal ng gobyerno na niregaluhan ng isang negosyante ng BMW X6M na tinest drive nga niya sa kanyang bahay/opisina?