Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has refused to provide media with the next batch of witnesses the Department of Justice planned to field against Senator Leila de Lima at the House committee on justice probe on October 5.

Tangled web we weave: Aguirre asks Leila why is she so chummy with Sebastian, his wife, drug inmates

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Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has refused to provide media with the next batch of witnesses the Department of Justice planned to field against Senator Leila de Lima at the House committee on justice probe on October 5.

In a press conference, Aguirre was afraid that their witnesses from the National Bilibid Prison could be pressured by outside forces especially after de Lima herself declared that she had many contacts inside the maximum security prison. Aguirre presented last week several high-profiel inmates, including convicted drug lord Herbert Colanggo,

“I can’t reveal to you the names. Maraming ano si de Lila, maraming tumutulong sa kanya. even the wife of Jaybee Sebastian,” said Aguirre referring to the convicted kidnapper who de Lima identified as a “government asset” after high-profile inmates claimed he was de Lima’s go-to guy for their drug protection racket inside the NBP.

In an emotional press conference two days ago, de Lima claimed she received text messages forwarded by an insider at the NBP. This included a text message from Sebastian’s wife who claimed to be getting pressure from the DOJ camp for Sebastian to testify against de Lima.

In the text message shared by de Lima, Sebastian’s wife said: ”Sir kakausapin ko si jb ngayon para papayagin na magtestify na against de lima. Sya na nadidiin ngayon. Sya susi sa lahat. Labag man sa kalooban ko pero sa tingin ng mas nakararami ito ang tamang paraan. Ipapasantabi ko na lang sa kanya galit nya saka na lang hugutin pag ok na lahat.
Pati po personal na buhay namin sigurado apektado, lumalalim po ang imbestigasyon. Si de lima lang naman kailangan nila. Alam ko mapapatawad kami ng mga anak ko at ng mga naniniwala sa kanya kung sakaling magdesisyon kami ng salungat sa prinsipyo namin. Sorry po.”

Aguirre saiid this information proved that de Lima had deep ties with Sebastian, his wife, and other inmates. “Why call her? Ibig sabihin very familiar sila sa isa’t isa. Nagyabang pa na ‘marami tumatawag sa akin’. (So) marami ka contact sa inmates,” said Aguirre.

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Rule of law prevailed: Trillanes hails CA ruling junking revival of rebellion raps

Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday (March 2) hailed the favorable ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) concerning his rebellion case.

“Today, the rule of law prevailed,” Trillanes declared.

With this, the former lawmaker also expressed gratitude to the appellate court for the favorable ruling.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga CA justices na gumawa ng desisyong ito,” he stated.

“Sana all na judges and justices ay may ganitong sense of justice to check the prevailing authoritarianism in the country,” he added,

Trillanes’s petition before the CA assailed the 2018 orders of Makati City Judge Elmo Alameda to issue a hold departure order (HDO) and arrest warrant against the former lawmaker even though the same magistrate dismissed back in 2011 the rebellion case against him.

The case was dismissed by the judge in 2011 after Trillanes was granted amnesty by then President Benigno Aquino III.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to revive the case before the Makati court after President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the amnesty.

Sinong guilty? Lord Velasco’s allies gang up on Alan Cayetano after ally exposes P20-B budget cut

By Billy Begas

Allies of House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco slammed the camp of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano for his supporters’ attempt to drag the Marinduque lawmaker in the issue involving the P20 billion pension and gratuity fund of uniformed government personnel that was diverted to infrastructure projects.

Senior Deputy Speaker Salvador Leachon said it was clear based on the explanation of House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Eric Yap that the slashed P20 billion will not be used this year to pay the pension and gratuity of uniformed personnel.

“Based on Congressman Yap’s accounts, which I find to be accurate, the current problems involving the pension of uniformed retirees was due to the P70-billion cut in their budget for the year 2020, during Cayetano’s term,” Leachon said.

Yap said that the House then led by Cayetano slashed P70 billion from the 2020 national budget.

Earlier, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor said that he did not know what happened then. “Hindi ko ho alam kung nag-usap sila (House-led Cayetano and Department of Budget and Management) pero ang sigurado ko ho nagrereklamo ngayon ang DBM dahil binawasan ang pension fund.”

Yap claimed that the DBM knows the reduction of budget.

“Their unfounded allegations against Speaker Velasco boomeranged to them when it turned out the current problems faced by uniformed retirees was brought about by the more than P70 billion deducted from the 2020 PGF budget during Cayetano’s time,” said Leachon.

Defensor contradicted Leachon’s claim in a text message. “How can it have boomeranged when Chair Eric Yap admitted that they slashed the Pension and Gratuity Fund by 20 billion. They should not over complicate and over think- return the 20 billion to our military, police and uniformed personnel pension and gratuity fund.”

Defensor also challenged the camp of Velasco to show to the public that they did not use it as pork barrel fiund.

Deputy Speaker and Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves said Defensor’s accusations were “part of an obvious attempt to antagonize Speaker Velasco.”

“It was obviously premeditated with some members of the so-called ‘BTS sa Kongreso’ present to interpellate Defensor and tried but failed to amplify the allegations against Speaker Velasco,” Teves said referring to Back To Service sa Kongreso formed by Cayetano in January.

Teves added that the game plan of Cayetano’s camp was to make Velasco “look bad in the eyes of President Duterte by attacking the Speaker on an issue very close to the Chief Executive’s heart—the pension and gratuity pay of police and military retirees.”

Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza, meanwhile, blasted Cayetano’s group for hypocrisy following the revelation of Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab that the Cayetano-led House manipulated the 2020 national budget, which resulted in budget cuts totaling P209 billion, including the P70 billion slashed from pension and gratuity fund.

“Umaalma sila sa binawas na P20 billion na napunta naman sa COVID-19 response ng gobyerno pero ‘yung P70 bilyon at kabuuang P209 bilyon na tinapyas nila sa 2020 national budget e okay lang sa kanila,” said Atienza.

Defensor said it is not true that the P20 billion went to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

He said that based on the copy of the General Appropriations Act, the budget for vaccines remained at P2.5 billion.

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