Vice President Leni Robredo has backed the recommendation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to dispose all poll machines despite the pending election protest of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Dispatsahin na yan! Leni calls for disposal of VCMs despite Bongbong’s poll protest

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Vice President Leni Robredo has backed the recommendation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to dispose all poll machines despite the pending election protest of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Robredo has submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) her comment on the request of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to push through with the disposal of the poll equipment. The SC is sitting as the PET.

She explained that disposal of the machines would have no effect on the preliminary precaution order (PPO) issued by the PET to secure the data of the 2016 polls as requested by Marcos.

“I don’t see any anomaly with the closure or stripping of some VCMs (vote counting machines), which the Comelec already started before it received the PPO from the PET,” read her comment which was written entirely in Filipino.

“It is clear under relevant laws and procedures on election protest that in case of any anomaly in the ballots, including alteration of contents, the secure digital cards may be reprinted anytime for verification of the truthful contents of a ballot,” she added.

The Vice President agreed with Comelec in that additional expenses would be incurred if the machines remain in its possession until December 1, 2016 when they are considered sold from Smartmatic. Smartmatic has been leasing the equipment to the poll body.

To ease the Comelec’s burden, Robredo said Marcos might as well shoulder the costs instead considering that he filed the election protest.

Marcos lost to Robredo by less than 300,000 votes last May. He claimed that he was cheated.

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Drilon: Assassination attempt on rights lawyer has chilling effect on legal profession

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon on Friday condemned in the strongest terms the assassination attempt on lawyer Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen.

“The attempt on the life of Guillen sends a chilling effect on members of the legal profession – lawyers, judges and justices,” he said in a statement.

“When lawyers can no longer do their job freely and without fear of being killed, that is when the rule of law begins to weaken,” Drilon said.

He urged the authorities not let this “horrific attack” on members of the legal profession continue.

“Guillen’s case should not just add to the strings of unresolved cases of killing of and assassination attempts on lawyers in the country. I urge the authorities to bring those responsible to justice,” Drilon said.

“The assassination attempt on Guillen is particularly disquieting in light of the issue on red-tagging. Guillen, a human rights lawyer, has been ‘red-tagged,’” he added.

“His case lays the basis for the need for a stronger policy against red-tagging. Congress should provide sufficient remedies to protect the victims of red-tagging activities,” Drilon said.

Gatchalian blasts ‘constant poor internet service’ of telcos

Three months after the President’s ultimatum to the telecommunications companies to improve their services, consumers continue to suffer from unreliable internet connectivity in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian said on Friday.

Add to this, he said, is the poor customer service afforded by telcos to its subscribers who lodge complaints over data concerns and deficient broadband services, among many others.

“To say that the public is not getting their money’s worth is an understatement. The lackadaisical attitude in the face of the subscribers’ problems is appalling especially at this time when we are all aware of the necessity of internet services in every household and commercial establishment in the country,” Gatchalian said.

He noted that in the case of Valenzuela City, residents had to seek the intervention of the local chief executive out of frustration just to have their internet connection fixed.

Despite reports that internet speed has seen improvements with the Philippines’ global ranking in mobile internet speed as of January 2021 moving up to the 86th spot from being in the 111th spot in the same period of 2020, Gatchalian said this significant improvement “does not seem to reflect marked changes in actual services to customers.”

Data from Ookla Speedtest Global Index, on the other hand, showed that the country’s fixed internet or fixed broadband global ranking remained at 100th.

Gatchalian said internet service providers (ISP) remain slow in addressing customer complaints as it would often take weeks and, in worse cases, even months before they could receive any feedback or appropriate services from the technical crew.

The social media pages of PLDT and Globe Telecoms have been flooded with complaints since last year over the slow response from network service personnel for the much-needed technical repairs.

“Sobrang haba na ng pisi ng mga tao. Hanggang kailan pa tayo magdurusa sa problema ng internet connectivity?” Gatchalian said.

“Baka naman nabakunahan na tayong lahat kontra Covid-19 tapos hindi pa natatapos ang problemang ito. Hindi katulad ng singil sa kuryente na maaring installment, ang mga subscrbers ng telcos ay buo ang binabayad. Sana suklian naman nila ang mga tao ng karampatang serbisyo,” he said.

DOJ forms 3-man prosecution team to handle cases vs PDEA, BOC over P1B shabu shipment

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento has assigned a panel of prosecutors who will be handling the criminal complaint filed against Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva and Bureau of Customs (BOC) Rey Leonardo Guerrero over the 2019 shipment of illegal drugs hidden among tapioca starch.

Malcontento said on Friday (March 5) the panel will be composed of three prosecutors who will be conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by National Bureau of Investigation-Task Force Anti-Illegal Drugs (NBI-TFAID) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last Feb. 23.

They are Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendel Rex Gingoyon who heads the panel and Assistant State Prosecutors Mary Jane Sytat and Ethel Rea Suril.

In the complaint, the NBI-TFAID accused 21 persons including Villanueva and Guerrero of having violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Their co-respondents include former PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino and BOC Deputy Commission Raniel Ramiro.

The NBI also recommended that all 21 be administratively charged with grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Aside from these, the NBI also accused Aquino, Guerrero and Ramiro of violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Government Officials and should also administratively charged with serious dishonesty.

The NBI also named nine persons whom it recommended to be indicted for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2012 including two persons for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

The shipment arrived in Cambodia in January 2019 and was declared as tapioca starch. But it was later was found containing 171 kilos of shabu.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson back in 2019 questioned the decision of the PDEA and BOC to auction the shipment despite getting information that it contained illegal drugs.

Lacson did not believe the claims of the PDEA and the BOC that it was a controlled delivery and accused the agencies of allowing Chinese drug lord Jacky Co, who was behind the shipment, to leave the Philippines.

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