Why the delay?
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2014 - 12:00am

It has been six months since the Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. due to plunder and graft charges in connection with the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles.

Because of the slow proceedings of their cases that have kept them in detention, Estrada and Revilla were allowed to hold their Christmas party inside the PNP’s headquarters, together with their immediate families, hosted by Estrada who celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary while Enrile was allowed to watch the movie “Hari ng Tondo” at the hospital’s specialized ward.

Earlier, Estrada had requested the Sandiganbayan for a furlough to spend Christmas at his father’s place as well as to spend New Year’s at his residence but the court turned him down. Revilla didn’t request for a similar furlough, for fear of a backlash on social media.

Since Estrada is presumed innocent, he filed an urgent motion asking the Fifth Division court to set an amount for his bail despite the hearings not being concluded. He pointed out that after months of hearings, the Sandiganbayan still has not established whether evidence of guilt is strong in his case.

The prosecution claimed they have 27 witnesses who would bolster their case against Estrada’s bail petition but only 6 witnesses have been called.

Why is the prosecution prolonging the bail hearing? It gives the impression that they don’t want the case to be decided before President Aquino steps down in June 2016.

Why? Is it because the evidence in the trial proper is not strong and will result in the senator’s acquittal?

The prosecution has not even presented Ruby Tuason who has confessed to be the one who received the alleged kickback from Napoles.

At the same time, the Ombudsman has not filed the second batch of officials accused also of receiving kickbacks from Napoles.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has also not filed the cases against the third batch investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

COA slams DSWD

The Commission on Audit (COA) reported the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has failed to build 30,438 shelter houses for typhoon victims, including those affected by Tropical Storm Sendong in 2011, despite the release of P2.57 billion to their agency.

Tens of thousands of storm victims spent the past three Christmases without permanent shelters.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman admitted the causes for the delay of the construction of over 30,000 shelters for typhoon victims in 8 regions, including Typhoon Sendong victims, were due to various reasons: difficulties in finding proper relocation sites, other natural disasters such as Typhoon Yolanda, and even the ban on the disbursement of public funds during the 2013 election period.

COA noted that only P77 million has been spent from the P100 million released for the construction of houses for Typhoon Sendong victims. They also said a portion of the cash assistance for the victims was used for other purposes not directly related to helping the Sendong survivors. However, Soliman said that 12,000 of the 16,000 housing units for Sendong survivors had already been built by the government.

COA noted “red flags” in the agency’s implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the administration’s flagship poverty-alleviation effort involving conditional cash transfers (CCTs), where COA had found double entries of 4,032 beneficiaries who had received payments of P1,400 per family with 3 children in school.

In the case of Typhoon Pablo, only 13,236 houses have been completed with 20,940 still under construction in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

For the victims of Yolanda, the DSWD has allocated P4.2 billion to build 211,748 shelters to be released only in January 2015.

Meanwhile, Roxas City, Capiz survivors lamented the fact that they have been excluded from the list to receive P30,000 shelter assistance for their destroyed houses.

No wonder Secretary Ping Lacson has resigned as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR).

DSWD Secretary Soliman has a lot of explaining to do.

Ombudsman probes Abby

The Office of the Ombudsman is conducting a probe of Makati Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos, the Vice President’s daughter.

The Ombudsman has issued a subpoena to the House of Representatives to submit the travel and compensation documents of Congresswoman Binay.

Joey Salgado, the Vice President’s spokesperson, said they were not aware of any complaints filed or pending against Rep. Binay.

“The action of the Ombudsman unfortunately gives credence to the observation that government resources are being tapped to harass the Vice President and his family and those known to be close friends or have associated with them in the Senate hearings,” Salgado added.

Salgado said that Vice President Binay is not about to back out from his presidential bid in 2016.

He noted that VP Binay’s rating in the surveys has recovered back to 37 percent with everyone else ratings at least 16 to 27 percent behind.

Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes said he would not be surprised if VP Binay backs out from the presidential race later in 2015.

That is very unlikely. Besides, VP Binay has his campaign organization in place and his connection with 800 nation-wide network of sister cities are very well strengthened.

VP Binay revealed that a new presidential survey gives him a 39 percent rating.

Tidbits

Ebola death toll is now 7,693.

Fourteen Filipino journalists have been accredited to join the Papal flight from Rome to Sri Lanka to Manila and back to Rome.

ABIGAIL BINAY-CAMPOS BINAY CONGRESSWOMAN BINAY DAVAO ORIENTAL AND COMPOSTELA VALLEY DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT ESTRADA AND RAMON TYPHOON SENDONG VICE PRESIDENT
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