"The ruling in effect places on the state, as the repository of official records, the responsibility of keeping such documents."


Both sides claimed victory in the ruling of the Makati Regional Trial Court 148. RTC Judge Andres Soriano in an even-handed decision last Monday rejected the government’s petition to issue a hold departure order and arrest warrant against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. At the same time in his 33-page decision, Judge Soriano ruled that Presidential Proclamation 572 was a valid exercise of the Executive Branch prerogative.

“This is a momentous day for justice and what is right,” exclaimed an ecstatic Trillanes who had expected a worst case scenario.

“The fight is far from over,” insisted Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who is expected to elevate the government’s case to the 14-member Supreme Court for a final ruling. Solicitor General Jose Calida initiated Proclamation 572 that claimed the amnesty granted to coup plotter Trillanes was void ab initio or flawed from the start. This was, according to government prosecutors, because the amnesty was signed by then-Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and not by former President Benigno Aquino III.

Judge Soriano also ruled that Trillanes applied for amnesty, contrary to the government’s claim he did not officially do so because he could not present documents supporting his application. The ruling in effect places on the state, as the repository of official records, the responsibility of keeping such documents.

Did the government lose or misplace Trillanes application papers?

“He [Trillanes] should have kept a copy of such a vital document,” opined former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile , adding that anyone who applies for a driver’s license or pays income tax has an LTO or a BIR receipt. Enrile who is running for the Senate in the 2019 mid-term elections expressed his opinion on the TV program “The Source” hosted by anchor Pinky Webb.

Can Pimentel run?

Another legal issuel was raised on the eligibility of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel to seek reelection. The disqualification case was filed at the Commission on Elections. Would you believe that of all people, it was lawyer Ferdinand Topacio who challenged Koko’s eligibility? Recall that Topacio was the same lawyer who defended Pimentel in the poll protest he won against Migz Zubiri.

Why then did Topacio file the case?

“This is a matter of the rule of law. I am doing this as a citizen and as a lawyer mandated and sworn to uphold the law,” explained Topacio. His contention is that Koko already served two consecutive terms including the last year and six months of a six-term left by Zubiri.

Koko, after serving out the remaining term, then ran and won reelection. He claimed that serving out Zubiri’s term should not be counted as a full term and he therefore can run again. Newly remarried to a Kathryn Yu, Pimentel is optimistic the court will uphold his position.

Appearing with his new bride at Karen Davila’s TV program, Pimentel expressed his views on other legal issues pending in Congress. On divorces, he said it should be discussed deeply and thoroughly as there is a legal remedy already on nullity of marriage which can be secured from the Church. He said the same thing on the proposal to return the death penalty.

BOC under fire

The Bureau of Customs is under fire for allowing four magnetic lifters containing P6.8 billion worth of shabu. BoC examiner Lourdes Mangaoang, now on floating status, claimed that Customs chief Isidro Lapeña looked the other way even if the bureau’s X-ray machine showed suspicious-looking objects inside the magnetic lifters.

“Machines don’t lie, only people do,” said Mangaoang, who added Lapeña is the worst commissioner ever appointed to the bureau. She is unfazed by the death threats she has been receiving for her exposé. She also called the lifestyle check done on her by BOC officials as a diversionary tactic to cover-up the smuggled shabu shipment.

Managoang’s allegation must have a ring of truth to it. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency recently said that the prices of shabu has gone down considerably because of oversupply. Is it because of the tons of smuggled shabu now flooding the market?

Experts in the building industry doubted the expensive magnetic lifters were imported for the purpose of construction. The smugglers thought that X-ray machines would not be able to detect illegal drugs inside the heavy steel and iron casing of the lifters. They did not count on Mangaong and a few still honest employees at the corrupt-ridden customs bureau.

Topics: Antonio Trillanes IV , Andres Soriano , Bureau of Customs , Lourdes Mangaoang , Isidro Lapeña , Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
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