FACES OF THE NEWS: Dec. 9, 2018
Drowned out by the uproar over the acquittal of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was the fact that businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles was convicted of plunder in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam, the first plunder convict, along with Revilla’s aide, Richard Cambe, since former President Joseph Estrada was found guilty of it 11 years ago.
Napoles allegedly controlled a network of bogus foundations to which legislators funneled their Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations in exchange for kickbacks.
The Sandiganbayan’s ruling gave credence to the “too detailed,” and “consistent and united” testimonies of four of Napoles’ employees who blew the whistle on her years-long scam.
She now faces up to 40 years’ imprisonment and was ordered to share with Cambe the burden of returning the P124.5-million kickbacks reaped from Revilla’s allocations.
Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Yes, former Sen. Bong Revilla’s pork barrel funds had been pocketed — but not by him, the Sandiganbayan ruled, saying his aide, Richard Cambe, might have taken the money under his nose.
Revilla was acquitted of plunder after four and a half years of detention.
In a split vote of 3-2, the court’s First Division ruled that the signatures in the letters authorizing the release of Revilla’s funds to bogus foundations controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles were forged.
This dealt “a great blow to the prosecution,” because there was no more direct evidence of his involvement.
Never mind the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s findings that the date of the Revilla family’s deposits matched the dates listed on the ledgers of Napoles’ finance officer Benhur Luy.
The court said it was possible that the former actor was not aware of the arrangement between Napoles and Cambe.
Panfilo Lacson and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has accused former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of inserting pork barrel in the proposed 2019 budget, with her district in Pampanga getting as much as a P2.4-billion allotment.
The Supreme Court disallowed pork barrel in a 2013 ruling.
The senator named another congressman, who later turned out to be Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. — a staunch Arroyo supporter — as the recipient of a P1.9-billion pork barrel for his own district.
Arroyo and Andaya, Lacson said, were among the “blessed few” representatives whose constituencies were allocated much bigger funds than the P60 million promised by the Speaker to each of the 292 lawmakers in the House.
On Friday, Andaya said Lacson had painted an incomplete picture, saying that 99 other House members actually received more funds than Arroyo.
One congressman, whom Andaya would not identify, got as much as P8 billion in allotment.
The Arroyo ally also said he did not see the need to explain to the Palace why Arroyo’s district was allotted a big amount, since the proposed national budget was approved by the entire chamber and not just by the Speaker.
Lacson, meanwhile, noted that the proposed assistance to local governments was doubled by the House and the Senate without consulting the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Andaya countered that lawmakers wouldn’t have access to the P16-billion funds since these would be directly managed by the DBM.
There’s no need to seek permission from other government agencies, Andaya said, adding that Congress has the final say on the matter.
But the issues raised by Lacson prompted the Senate to say that it might introduce changes in the proposed budget since the body supported the senator’s move for transparency.
For going to the far-flung village of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, at night to respond to the calls for help of teachers and their pupils whose school was shut down by the paramilitary group Alamara, Satur Ocampo, a former Bayan Muna party-list representative, and 17 other leaders of progressive groups were in the news this week after they were arrested for kidnapping and child trafficking charges.
Ocampo and the rest were temporarily freed on bail but military officers presented some “lumad” leaders in Camp Aguinaldo this week to call for the closure of the lumad school, saying it was run by the New People’s Army.
They also accused Ocampo of intruding into their school, a violation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.
“It’s ridiculous,” Ocampo told the Inquirer. “It’s the first time I was in the area and I haven’t even met the students.”
It’s definitely safe to say that Thirdy Ravena has moved out of older brother Kiefer’s shadow in Ateneo’s basketball lore.
Thirdy was at his best in the Blue Eagles’ successful repeat bid during the recent UAAP Finals, winning the MVP plum after a 36-point Game 2 effort that had Ateneo sweeping gutsy University of the Philippines.
“My mission was to give everything I could,” he said after scoring or assisting in 95 out of Ateneo’s 187 total points in the sweep.
His Game 2 explosion also matched Kiefer’s UAAP career-high.
Ravena snared his second-straight Finals MVP trophy with series averages of 29.5 points, 8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.5 steals.
Ravena scored well against the Maroons the entire season.
While he averaged 11.8 points against other teams, in the four times against UP, he scored 24.3 a game.
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