[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 2 February 2011 Wednesday

SLB slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Feb 2 17:50:54 PHT 2011

Newsbriefs 2 February 2011 Wednesday

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Bishops support Heidi Mendoza (abs-cbnNEWS.com)

MANILA, Philippines - Catholic bishops have expressed support to whistleblower Heidi Mendoza, the former state auditor who testified in the Senate on Tuesday that she was asked by a government agency to go easy on former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who is accused of plunder.

Twenty bishops have signed a one-page manifesto backing Mendoza and other whistleblowers in opposing the plea bargain agreement made by the Office of the Ombudsman and Garcia, as well as other instances of corruption, reported the CBCP News in its website.

The bishops also singled out former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, and retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa for their "lay leadership" in the fight against corruption.

"As bishops, we support and encourage such people. We are with Mendoza in speaking out against abuse of office that impoverishes the people and harm the common good," said the bishops.

Military probe on Garcia didn't touch on 'pabaon' (abs-cbnNEWS.com)

MANILA, Philippines - A military probe on anomalies involving former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia failed to uncover the alleged practice of comptrollers of maintaining a discretionary fund for the sitting Armed Forces chief of staff, a former Armed Forces vice-chief of staff said Wednesday. 

Former AFP vice-chief of staff Ariston de los Reyes said the military started its initial investigation on Garcia in January 2004 after the latter's sons were caught smuggling $100,000 into the United States in December 2003. 

De los Reyes is the former head of the Office of Ethical Standard and Public Accountability (OESPA), which is the AFP's document custodian of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of all military officers.

The former vice-chief and Garcia belong to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class '71.

In an interview, de los Reyes said he asked Garcia to explain his side on allegations that his family was pocketing millions of pesos in military funds. 

"Wala naman ibinigay sa amin sa AFP ang US government nung mga ebidensya. Ang naging basehan ko lang, initial conduct ng investigation by letting him explain, ay yung isang letter complaint against him about that incident," he said. 

Overhaul of Ombudsman's office, plunder law eyed (abs-cbnNEWS.com)

MANILA, Philippines - The House justice committee is studying the possibility of filing cases before the Office of the President against government prosecutors involved in the plea bargain deal of former military comptroller Maj. Gen Carlos Garcia.

Committee chairman Neil Tupas said the testimony of former Commission on Audit auditor Heidi Mendoza shows grave and institutional corruption in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Tupas said the Ombudsman may be removed through impeachment while the other officers can be sacked through an order from the Office of the President.

He said lawmakers want to amend Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act, and Republic Act 7080 or the Plunder Law.  

"The aim is amend the Plunder Law. We should prohibit plea bargaining agreements in cases of plunder. It's not in the law now. We should amend the plunder law because if it's one time big time, it's not considered plunder. It should be a series. We have to amend the Ombudsman Act, it's not working," he said.

Palace orders centralized purchase of AFP supplies (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will ban the Defense Department and the Armed Forces from bidding out common office supplies and equipment, and have them buy those instead from the Procurement Service of the Budget Department, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Tuesday. 

"Purchasing these common supplies and equipment from the Procurement Service will be advantageous because the [Armed Forces] and the [Defense Department] need not go through bidding anymore," he said.

"The supplies and equipment can also be purchased at a much lower cost, given the Procurement Service's market power."

Gutierrez stands by Garcia deal (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines-As she exchanged dagger looks with her predecessor in Tuesday's committee hearing, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez furiously defended the plea bargain she struck with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

But she said she remained open to scuttle the deal if the latest testimonies from former military budget officer George Rabusa and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza warranted this.

Gutierrez vented her frustration on former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and former special prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio for writing a letter to President Benigno Aquino III purportedly "muddling" the issue to make her team look bad.

"We can probably swear to God, if somebody profited here, may he or she be struck by thunder and die this instant," she said.

Rabusa gets threats, seeks witness protection (ABS-CBN News)

Former Armed Forces budget officer George Rabusa was elusive to the media when he personally went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday morning to file his affidavit regarding alleged corruption in the military. 

In a news conference following her closed-door meeting with Rabusa, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared Rabusa was seeking immunity from possible charges that may arise following his exposes. Rabusa testified before the Senate that former Armed Forces chiefs of staff took away millions in "send-off" money upon their retirement. 

"Concerned siya dun sa immunity because he has admitted sa Senate proceedings na he also benefited. He even cited some amount kasi nga whistleblower siya," de Lima said. 

Ombudsman reaffirms suspension of six police officials (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines-The Office of the Ombudsman reaffirmed its earlier order to preventively suspend for six months six Philippine National Police officials in connection with their allegedly anomalous trip to Russia in 2008.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez denied the motion for reconsideration filed by one of the police officials, who have been dubbed the "Euro Generals."

Gutierrez found no reason to reverse her earlier finding to preventively suspend without pay Special Disbursing Officer Samuel Rodriguez; Finance Service Director Orlando Pestano; Budget Division Director Tomas Rentoy III; Police Superintendent Elmel Pelobello; Directorate for Human Resources and Doctrine Development Director German Doria; and Directorate for Operations Director Silverio Alarcio, Jr.

The said PNP officers were earlier charged with Grave Misconduct, Dishonesty, and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. They were allegedly disqualified to travel and had supposedly received excessive travel allowances.


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