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Ex-DILG official Martin Diño tagged in ‘PCGA’ recruitment scam

By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter / @FMangosingINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:32 AM January 20, 20

 


MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday said it has filed criminal complaints against former Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño and six others for the illegal use of the name, logo, and insignias of the PCG Auxiliary (PCGA) group.


Aside from the illegal use of PCGA insignia, Diño and the others were also charged with estafa and usurpation of authority for collecting P15,000 from 480 indigent residents of Morong, Bataan, to join 101st Balangay PCGA Inc.


According to the PCG, 101st Balangay PCGA Inc. was not authorized to use the PCGA in its name. Last Tuesday, the PCG asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to cancel the 101st Balangay PCGA Inc.’s registration.


Chartered by Republic Act No. 9993, the PCGA is a volunteer civilian support group of the PCG and, as part of the armed services, is authorized to use a military structure and don military uniforms.


“They have to respect the PCG as an armed organization and preserve the sanctity of wearing the uniform,” said PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo, adding that the unauthorized use of military names, uniforms, logos, and insignias is a criminal offense.


Balilo said its detachment in Bataan earlier received reports that 101st Balangay PCGA Inc. was recruiting and charging P15,000 to join their organization, representing themselves as part of the PCG.
PCG investigators claimed that victims, mostly poor folk, were also asked to quit their jobs to be hired as “security personnel” and were promised allowances totaling P30,000.


The 101st Balangay PCGA Inc. supposedly recruited about 480 residents of Barangay Mabayo in Morong, Bataan. Other individuals were also illegally recruited in Abucay and Hermosa towns, both in Bataan.


The criminal charges were filed at the Bataan prosecutor’s office in Balanga City last Jan. 13. Aside from Diño, the charges were filed against Renante Nase, Agustin Soria Jr., Laurence Nase, Reniel Nase, Jerry Delos Santos, and Christine Lingat.


The PCG noted that in 2018, the agency considered suing Diño after he posted a picture of himself wearing the uniform of a PCGA rear admiral even if he was not a member of the organization. But no charges were filed after Diño resigned from the organization he joined.


The PCG also urged the public to report other groups or individuals who represent themselves as PCG or PCGA personnel and make promises of cash or employment.

Año replaces Carlos as security adviser

 

Story by Catherine S. Valente • Jan 14, 2023  TMT


(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has appointed former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Eduardo Año as his new national security adviser, Malacañang announced Saturday.

Año, who served as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the Duterte administration, replaced Professor Clarita Carlos, who stepped down from her post to join the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives.

"Former DILG Secretary Eduardo Año took his oath before the President as the new National Security Adviser," Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

"Professor Clarita Carlos has decided to continue her pursuit of scholastic endeavors as she joins the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives. The CPBRD provides the House of Representatives with technical service in formulating national economic, fiscal and social policies," she added.

Carlos, who assumed the NSA post in June 2022, said she has realized that "it is no longer politic to continue as NSA to the President."

"So, I have decided to migrate to another agency where my expertise on foreign, defense and security policy will be of use and I shall continue to help build a Better Philippines," Carlos said in a statement.

Related video: Bagong National Security adviser Eduardo Año, nanumpa na | News Live (Dailymotion)


Carlos, a retired political science professor of the University of the Philippines Diliman, served as the first female civilian president of the National Defense College of the Philippines.


She authored books and papers about political parties, elections, defense and security, and foreign policy, among others.

Meanwhile, the 61-year-old Año is a veteran intelligence officer who also served as the chief of staff of the AFP from December 2016 to October 2017.

Año, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, was named commanding general of the Philippine Army in July 2015.

Before he was named Army chief, Año led the Army's 10th Infantry Division, which covers Region 11 (Davao region) and parts of Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

It was during his stint there when New People's Army commander Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago, the most prominent rebel leader in Southern Mindanao, was killed by the military in an encounter in Paquibato district.

Año was also the former chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP when security forces arrested Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.


She was also a consultant in Congress and other government agencies, including the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

She authored books and papers about political parties, elections, defense and security, and foreign policy, among others.

Meanwhile, the 61-year-old Año is a veteran intelligence officer who also served as the chief of staff of the AFP from December 2016 to October 2017.

Año, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, was named commanding general of the Philippine Army in July 2015.

Before he was named Army chief, Año led the Army's 10th Infantry Division, which covers Region 11 (Davao region) and parts of Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

It was during his stint there when New People's Army commander Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago, the most prominent rebel leader in Southern Mindanao, was killed by the military in an encounter in Paquibato district.

Año was also the former chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP when security forces arrested Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

OVERPRICED LAPTOPS
Senate wants DBM, DepEd execs charged

By Bernadette E. Tamayo and Red Mendoza, TMT, January 20, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — THE Senate blue ribbon committee has found that the 39,000 laptops purchased in 2021 for public school teachers for P979 million were overpriced and recommended the filing of criminal charges against officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Sen. Francis Tolentino, committee chairman, on Thursday, said the panel also admonished former Education secretary Leonor Briones for the anomalous purchase.

But Tolentino said there was no evidence to link Briones to the anomaly, and that she was deceived into approving the purchase.

The laptops were distributed to government teachers to help them conduct online classes at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a 197-page report, the committee recommended graft charges against officials of DepEd and the DBM's Procurement Service (PS) involved in the purchase of the laptops.

The report named DepEd Undersecretary Analyn Sevillla, former DepEd undersecretary Alain del Pascua, former DepEd assistant secretary Salvador Malana 3rd, Director Abram Abanil, former PS-DBM officers in charge Lloyd Christopher Lao and Jaysonmer Uayan, BAC chairman Ulysses Mora, and other members and staff of the special bids and awards committee.

"There is sufficient basis to believe that there was a conspiracy to facilitate and/or generate an overprice which indicates manifest partiality, evident bad faith and/or gross inexcusable neglect on the part of senior officials and staff of the DepEd and PS-DBM," the committee said.

It was cited as "highly irregular" jacking up the price of one computer in the approved budget for the contract from P35,036.50 to P58,300.

It recommended the abolition of PS-DBM and requiring government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to do their procurement to make them accountable for public funds.


The committee proposed that if the P979 million is recovered, the amount be placed in a special National Teachers Trust Fund to support the health and medical needs of government teachers and the educational needs of their children.

The committee has requested the Anti-Money Laundering Council to investigate the overpriced procurement and to look into the bank deposits of the implicated individuals.

The repeated changes made by DepEd in the use and allocation of the P2.4 billion from tablets to mobile connectivity loads for students and then to laptops for teachers "is highly arbitrary, unjustified, improper and not beneficial" to DepEd teachers and students, the committee said.

In a press briefing hours after the committee released its report, DepEd spokesman Michael Wesley Poa said the department will not comment until it sees the full report, but added it will "seriously" consider the panel's recommendations.

The DepEd "has always said that it is committed to transparency and accountability, which applies to the procurement process. So we appreciate the investigation conducted by the blue ribbon committee. As to the findings and recommendations, [we] will consider those recommendations and findings so that we can strengthen our internal controls in procurement," Poa said.

He said the DepEd has revised its procurement processes by separating the procurement and administration components and streamlining internal controls for efficiency and transparency.

Poa said the department will see whether the DepEd itself or the Office of the Ombudsman will file the charges against the officials named in the committee report, but assured they will cooperate with the Ombudsman in securing the documents for the case.

The officials will be placed under preventive suspension only after the investigating body has been determined, Poa said.

He said he has yet to brief Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte about the blue ribbon ruling and will seek guidance, along with the Office of the Solicitor General, regarding the recommendation to use the proceeds from the overpriced transaction as a trust fund for teachers.
 

Gov’t plans to privatize Naia operations

— DOTr chief

By: Daniza Fernandez - Reporter / @DFernandezINQINQUIRER.net / 07:11 PM January 12, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The government, led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is planning to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) operations.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said this on Thursday during the Senate committee on public services’ hearing on the air traffic fiasco on New Year’s Day.

“We confirm that this government is planning to privatize the operations of Manila International Airport. We are open to a solicited or unsolicited proposal, although we prefer to have a solicited proposal,” Bautista said.

“The government now is working with the ADB [Asian Development Bank] and the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) Center for the finalization of the terms of reference. We’re expecting that we should be able to have this by the end of the first quarter of 2023, and we will be able to accept proposals from interested parties,” he added.


Bautista said that the government will work to expedite the privatization of Naia as it is the gateway to the Philippines.

“Right now, it’s the only major airport in Metro Manila. It has reached its rated capacity. It even exceeded its rated capacity that is why we need to improve and modernize Naia,” he said.

On December 30 last year, Bautista announced that the Marcos administration was pushing for Naia’s privatization.

Two days later, the air traffic turmoil happened.

Based on earlier reports, a power outage downed the air navigation system of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines on January 1.

The system failure affected at least 65,000 passengers.

For Act Teachers Rep. France Castro, the timing of the technical glitch “is quite fishy.”
 

PCG probes 'harassment' at West Philippine Sea

Story by Franco Jose C. Baroña • 15h ago TMT

MANILA — THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is investigating an incident of harassment at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea involving a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese Coast Guard vessel (CCGV).

According to the PCG, the alleged harassment occurred on January 9, Monday, but was only reported by Filipino fishing boat (FFB) KEN-KEN captain Lito Al-os on January 20.

Based on the report, Al-os said CCGV 5204 allegedly drove the Filipino fishermen away from Ayungin Shoal.

The CCGV 5204 maneuvered towards FFB KEN-KEN at about 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

The CCG personnel onboard the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area.


Consequently, FFB KEN-KEN altered her course and departed Ayungin Shoal.

However, CCGV 5204 continued to shadow FFB KEN-KEN as they headed toward Boxall Reef.

Upon receipt of the report, the PCG Task Force Pag-asa immediately deployed additional Coast Guard vessels to strengthen its presence in the West Philippine Sea.

The PCG said this is to protect the interest and ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen.

As of posting time, the PCG said it is collecting evidence and further information that will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs, (DFA).

If deemed necessary, the DFA may use the report in filing appropriate diplomatic action, it said.

As per the directive of Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu assured concerned Filipino fishermen that the PCG remains steadfast in its commitment to uphold rules-based approaches in protecting their welfare and securing the country's exclusive economic zones at all costs.

Marcos eyes Maharlika fund ‘soft launch’ at WEF in Switzerland  

JAN 12, 2023 5:12 PM PHT
By BEA CUPIN

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to do a “soft launch” his administration’s proposed Maharlika Investment Fund during his five-day visit to snowy Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Marcos, who flies out of Manila on January 15 and returns on the 20th, will be attending the annual event that brings together political and business elite from all over the world. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Carlos Sorreta calls the WEF the “premier forum” for leaders to interact and discuss solutions to issues hounding the world economy. 

In a briefing on Thursday, January 12, Sorreta said Marcos wants the spotlight on the proposed sovereign wealth fund. Sorreta and other DFA officials were in Malacañang before the media briefing to talk to the President about the upcoming Davos trip. 

“The WEF is a great venue to do a sort of soft launch for our sovereign wealth fund, given the prominence of the forum itself and the global and business leaders who will be there, and they will hear directly from the President the fundamentals that we have that led us to decide that we should have a sovereign wealth fund,” said Sorreta. 

The proposed Maharlika Investment Fund is a sovereign wealth fund that will source its seed capital from state-owned banks and be used to invest in big-ticket infrastructure projects or the power sector. It hurdled the Marcos-allied supermajority-dominated House in December 2022 but has not been tackled in the Senate. 

Earlier versions of the proposed fund would have sourced initial funds from pensions held by the state – provision critics and observers said was irresponsible and irregular, since it would put hard-earned pensions in danger. This was eventually scrapped, but critics have still decried the speed in which the proposal breezed through the legislative process. 

The chairmanship of the fund has also been switched from the President himself to the finance secretary, who still reports to the President. Most of all, critics are worried about the lack of safety guards in the proposed fund. Its authors and supporters, who include President Marcos’ relatives in the legislature, say enough safeguards are in place. 

Sorreta said that since the measure is only a proposal, the “soft launch” at the WEF means Marcos will “introduce” to fellow world leaders and the business elite its concept.  

“My understanding is that it will be broad strokes. We have to leave the specifics to the legislation. We are working with the Department of Finance and [Department of] Trade to develop very precise, targeted messages…in terms of broad strokes. We’re not handing out brochures and packets. It’s going to be the President himself bringing it to the world, the idea what we will be having this [fund],” said Sorreta. 

Marcos will be the only world leader from Southeast Asia and one of two from Asia who has confirmed attendance to the WEF, said the DFA. 

The Philippine government frames this trip as a chance for Marcos to represent both the country and the region as spaces for economic growth. 

PCG probes 'harassment' at West Philippine Sea

Story by Franco Jose C. Baroña • 15h ago TMT

MANILA — THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is investigating an incident of harassment at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea involving a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese Coast Guard vessel (CCGV).

According to the PCG, the alleged harassment occurred on January 9, Monday, but was only reported by Filipino fishing boat (FFB) KEN-KEN captain Lito Al-os on January 20.

Based on the report, Al-os said CCGV 5204 allegedly drove the Filipino fishermen away from Ayungin Shoal.

The CCGV 5204 maneuvered towards FFB KEN-KEN at about 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

The CCG personnel onboard the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area.


Consequently, FFB KEN-KEN altered her course and departed Ayungin Shoal.

However, CCGV 5204 continued to shadow FFB KEN-KEN as they headed toward Boxall Reef.

Upon receipt of the report, the PCG Task Force Pag-asa immediately deployed additional Coast Guard vessels to strengthen its presence in the West Philippine Sea.

The PCG said this is to protect the interest and ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen.

As of posting time, the PCG said it is collecting evidence and further information that will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs, (DFA).

If deemed necessary, the DFA may use the report in filing appropriate diplomatic action, it said.

As per the directive of Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu assured concerned Filipino fishermen that the PCG remains steadfast in its commitment to uphold rules-based approaches in protecting their welfare and securing the country's exclusive economic zones at all costs.

Sandro explains what proposed ‘Maharlika’ fund
is all about

Published December 1, 2022, 8:46 AM, by Ellson. MB

MANILA, Philippines — Essentially a national sovereign wealth fund, the proposal is embodied in House Bill (HB) No.6398. It has been called the Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) and the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

“What the idea is, is that kapag–when you invest into certain assets, kapag kumikita ka dyan (once you turn a profit), the profit will be used to finance government projects na kukulangin yung pondo (that doesn’t have enough funds). So it is essentially another source of income,” Marcos said in a press briefing in his district office Wednesday, Nov. 30.

“Sometimes, sovereign wealth funds will put their investments abroad or other projects in other countries, doon sila kumikita (they will turn a profit there),” Marcos noted.

“I think the starting fund will be about P250 billion and it will be used to invest in…financial assets,” he said, adding that “It will be run like a private corporation.”

“Ang ating mga kapitbahay sa ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ay mayroon na (Our neighbors in the ASEAN already have this),” he said.

“To give you an idea, yung Indonesian sovereign wealth fund, 2021 nagsimula, one billion ang starting investment nila (the Indonesian sovereign wealth fund began in 2021 at one billion) It’s called assets under management. They are now I think at 24 [billion]. So 23 billion dollars and kita nila (So they earned 23 billion dollars),” he said.

The House leader said Singapore also has one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

“So marami tayong makukuha, pwede nating kopyahin ang model na ginagamit nila para maidala natin dito sa Pilipinas (We can get a lot from them, we can copy their model and bring it to the Philippines),” Marcos said.

“The hope is that we will accelerate the development of our country and the funding of our priority programs.

 

Six years is not a long time, so we need to try different things to make sure na ang ating mga kababayan ay makikita nila ang progreso (that our countrymen will see progress),” the 28-year-old explained.

During a Tuesday hearing of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, representatives from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) unanimously supported the creation of the MWF.

GSIS will provide an initial investment of P125 billion, P50 billion for both SSS and LBP, and P25 billion from the DBP. These comprise the P250 billion start-up investment.

Aside from Marcos, HB No.6398 was also authored by Majority Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd district Rep. Mannix Dalipe, Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo, Tingog Party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre, and House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

Another cop in kidnap of sabungero surrenders  

By Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star , anuary 23, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Another former police officer tagged in the kidnapping of an online cockfight agent in San Pablo, Laguna surrendered to authorities over the weekend. Former corporal Roy Navarette surrendered to the Calauan police in Calauan town on Saturday night.

Navarette’s surrender came two days after his co-accused – former patrolman Rigel Brosas and ex-corporal Daryl Paghangaan – yielded to the Philippine National Police-Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG) on Thursday.

Navarette was accompanied by his wife Herlyn to the Calauan police. He was wanted for four counts of robbery with violence, kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

No bail was recommended for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases filed against Navarette.

For the robbery with violence, the court recommended bail of P400,000 for each count of the offense.

Navarette was placed under the custody of the Calauan police.

Records showed Navarette, Paghangaan and Brosas reportedly posed as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation and seized Ricardo Lasco from his house in Barangay San Lucas, San Pablo City on Aug. 30, 2021.

 

Lasco and 33 other online sabungeros, who were also reported missing in 2021, have yet to be located.

The PNP expressed confidence that the three suspects would reveal the brains behind the kidnapping of Lasco.

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