FACES OF THE NEWS: April 7, 2019
Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the Philippine National Police chief, appears to have been fed up with militant groups calling for his resignation over police operations on March 30 that led to the deaths of 14 supposed communist suspects in Negros Oriental province.
Over the past week, Albayalde had been defending the legitimacy of the operations, even as he relieved local police chiefs with direct supervision over the areas where the bloody operations occurred.
Albayalde dismissed the criticisms as leftist propaganda, turning the tables on progressive lawmakers who called for his resignation to resign themselves.
“We should vehemently send our condemnation against these people supporting the perceived enemies of the state to gain power themselves,” the PNP chief said of the lawmakers.
For a change, Solicitor General Jose Calida did not get his way with the Supreme Court.
Over his objections invoking “national security,” the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was ordered to turn over police reports on the war on drugs to petitioners represented by Free Legal Assistance Group and Centerlaw, which asked for a writ of amparo (protection) against the “tokhang” operations.
Calida insisted that releasing the records to the petitioners could compromise follow-up police antidrug operations and endanger the lives of suspects at large and those under custody.
He said the OSG complied with the order during the oral arguments in December 2017 to submit documents, referring to the directive of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa.
The President’s son, Paolo Duterte, again hit the headlines this week after a six-minute video went viral on social media, linking him to the illegal drug trade.
The video, “The True Narcolist (Ang Totoong Narcolist) Episode 1,” featured a man in a hoodie known only as “Bikoy,” who said the former Davao City vice mayor was among the principals of a drug syndicate whose kickbacks were deposited in their bank accounts.
The narrator claimed that Polo Delta, a drug lord’s code name on the list, was actually Paolo Duterte.
But Paolo said Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critic, was behind the video.
Paolo threatened to file more libel cases against Trillanes, who also linked him to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) in 2017.
Businesswoman and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles took another legal blow last week when the Sandiganbayan denied her motion for reconsideration of her plunder conviction.
Instead, the court upheld the conviction, citing lack of merit in her motion.
Earlier in December 2018, Napoles was convicted of plunder in the first decision handed down by the Sandiganbayan in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam, where lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund were funneled to bogus nongovernmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
But while Napoles and Richard Cambe, former aide of ex-Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., were convicted of plunder, Revilla was acquitted. Napoles faces several other cases in connection with the scam.
Before his corruption trial got underway in Kuala Lumpur on April 3, former Prime Minister Najib Razak staged a social media blitz to transform his vilified image as an extravagant elitist into that of a champion of the working class.
He mocked the new government’s inability to address poverty. He replaced his tailored suits with hoodies and jeans.
He also uploaded a music video where he crooned about the “slander and revenge” against him in a rendition of the 1970s hit “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans.
He tried to woo supporters with the question, “What’s to be ashamed about, my boss?”
But the government will likely remind Malaysians that Najib and his associates spirited away $4.5 billion from state funds, $700 million of which landed in Najib’s bank account.
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