Ombudsman Morales sacks Mayor Gaite

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the dismissal of town mayor Melquiades Gaite from office, due to the allegedly anomalous lease contract agreement for the lease of the public market.

NEDA OKs 5 multi-million projects for Bicol

At least 5 big-ticket projects in the Bicol region are part of the 55 flagship projects that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) aims to complete or break ground by 2022.

Drink responsibly

Ano an pag-inom kan nakakaburat na inumon (alcoholic beverages) maraot o kasalan?

Boarding house sa Naga, target kan mga mahabon

Pinatanidan kan pulis an estudiante asin residentes digdi na dai imaging aliwalas sa saindang mga gamit sa tahaw na nagkapira nang incidente nin harabonan na an mayor na victima iyo an mga boarding houses.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ligao City wins P1-M in National Rice Achievers Search

The Local Government Unit of Ligao City in Albay won in the outstanding city/municipality category in the 2016 National Rice Achievers Search and received P1 million cash prize and trophy. 

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the senate committee on agriculture led the awarding ceremony held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on May 23, 2017.
The DA gave away over P52 million in cash prizes to seven provinces, 15 municipalities and cities, four Irrigators Associations (IAs), and three Small Water Impounding System Associations (SWISAs).

OIC City Agriculturist Dexter A. Mendoza received the award. Mayor Patricia Alsua was represented by Ligao City Vice Mayor Sherwin Quising during the awarding.
They were accompanied on the stage by Usec. Segfredo R. Serrano, DA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning; Usec. Ranibai Dilangalen, DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns; Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) national director Luz A. Taposok; and Usec. Ariel Cayanan, Undersecretary for Operations.

Also present were DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Elena B. de los Santos; ATI Bicol OIC Center Director Vivien Carable and DA Bicol OIC Regional Technical Director Rodel P. Tornilla.

The City of Ligao was awarded in recognition of its important contributions in sustaining and increasing rice production in the country which is vital in the attainment of food security and increased farmers’ income. Ligao City has 143% rice self-sufficiency and 2.5% contribution to the regional rice production. It recorded a 2.5% increase or 31,548 metric tons in rice production from 2015 to 2016. The increase in yield was 5% for irrigated areas and 2% in rainfed areas. One hundred percent of the rice areas in the city are planted to high quality rice seeds such as hybrid, registered, and certified seeds.

A total of 45% of Ligao City Agriculture office’s budget in 2016 was allocated for rice program. A total of P1 million was spent for rice hybridization; P1.2 million was used for fertilizer subsidy; P72,000 for pest control program and P720,000 for inbred rice production. Ten agricultural extension workers out of 18 or 60% are assigned to implement the rice program in the city covering 3,229 hectares including 3 coastal barangays.

Ligao City is also home to the PhilRice Bicol station resulting to fast and easy access to the different technologies, projects and technical assistance being offered by the station to the farmers.
Also included in the roster of National Rice Achievers Awardees were 32 Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) and five Local Farmer Technician (LFTs) from the Bicol Region.

Director de los Santos said that a separate awarding by cluster is slated in June. (by Lovella Guarin)

3 passengers die in road mishap in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY (Bicol Standard) -- A passenger jeepney plunged into a 30-meter ravine at Sitio Colonia, Barangay Hidhid, Matnog, Sorsogon.

The incident occured at 4:30 pm Tuesday, resulting to the death of three passengers identified as Josefa Hilao, 78; Judy Hilao, 60; both residents of Barangay Tabunan, Matnog and Bernalet Alcantara 32, a resident of Tabaco City, Albay.

Senior Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of Bicol police said the jeep which was driven by Joey Garalde was negotiating a sharp curve when he lost control of the steering wheel that resulted in the said accident.

Apart from the three deaths, 18 passengers were also injured. They were brought to the Matnog Medical and Community Hospital, Sorsogon Provincial Hospital and Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) for medical treatment.

Additional information also revealed that the the vehicle also rammed into the railing on the left side of the road before it plunged into the cliff.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DOTr suspends implementation of Anti-Distracted Driving Act

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has suspended the implementation of Republic Act 10913 known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act which prohibits motorists from using mobile devices and electronic gadgets, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada said Tuesday.

The move comes after various sectors such as members of Congress, transport groups and some drivers of public and private vehicles called for its suspension due to the confusion brought about by its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

Among the concerns raised are the banning of rosaries, figurines and other accessories on dashboards which distract the view of drivers as well as the use of navigational apps while driving.

The law prohibits motorists making or receiving calls, writing, sending or reading text-based communications, playing online games, watching movies, surfing or browsing the Internet, among others, while vehicles are in motion or temporarily stopped on a traffic light or an intersection.

Drivers are allowed, however, to apply hands-free function or applications in using such devices or gadgets as long as they do not obstruct with their line of sight.

Violators will be penalized with a fine of PHP 5,000 for the first offense, PHP10,000 for the second offense, and PHP15,000 for the third offense with a three-month suspension of driver’s license.

Violations incurred beyond the third offense shall be penalized with the revocation of driver’s license and a fine of PHP20,000.

Owners and operators of public utility vehicles (PUV) and commercial vehicles found in violation of the said act shall both be held liable. (PNA)

Sorsogon mayor, 2 others charged in Sandiganbayan

SORSOGON CITY 5/23/17 (Bicol Standard) -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Bulusan, Sorsogon town mayor Michael "Mike" Guysayko with the Sandiganbayan for the violation of Section 52(g) of the GSIS Act of 1997.

Mayor Guysayko, together with municipal treasurer Jasmin Garcia, municipal accountant Ramon Belleza, and municipal budget officer Marieta Negrite, allegedly "willfully, unlawfully and criminally" failed, refused or delayed the payment, remittance, turn-over or delivery of the GSIS premium contributions of the municipal employees both personal and government shares in 2010 to 2011.

Section 52 (g) of the GSIS Act of 1997 reads: "The heads of the offices of the national government, its political subdivisions, branches, agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations and government financial institutions, and the personnel of such offices who are involved in the collection of premium contributions, loan amortization and other accounts due the GSIS who shall fail, refuse or delay the payment, turnover, remittance or delivery of such accounts to the GSIS within thirty (30) days from the time that the same shall have been due and demandable shall, upon conviction by final judgment, suffer the penalties of imprisonment of not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years and a fine of not less than Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) nor more than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), and in addition shall suffer absolute perpetual disqualification from holding public office and from practicing any profession or calling licensed by the government."

Bail of P100,000 was recommended for the temporary liberty of each of the accused persons.

Guysayko served as Bulusan mayor in 2010 to 2013. In 2013 to 2016, he was Board Member of Sorsogon, and was elected mayor of Bulusan again in 2016.

CASE IN POINT by Dean Ed Vincent Albano | Speedy disposition of cases

Vexations delay results in dismissal of a case.

In Commodore Lamberto Torres v. SB, et al., G.R. No. 221562-69, October 5, 2016, Velasco, J, from the time the Affidavit of COA Auditors and the COA Audit Report were turned over to the Ombudsman for review and scrutiny for at least 8 years before the Ombudsman ordered the conduct of the investigation, it took 16 years before the Ombudsman found probable cause. Ruling that there was delay and a violation of the right to speedy disposition of the cases, the SC

Held: The speedy disposition of cases covers not only the period within which the preliminary investigation was conducted, but also all stages to which the accused is subjected, even including fact-finding investigations conducted prior to the preliminary investigation proper. In Dansal v. Fernandez, Sr., G.R. No. 126814, March 2, 2000, it was said:

Initially embodied in Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the aforesaid constitutional provision is one of three provisions mandating speedier dispensation of justice. It guarantees the right of all persons to “a speedy disposition of their case”; includes within its contemplation the periods before, during and after trial, and affords broader protection than Section 14(2), which guarantees just the right to a speedy trial. It is more embracing than the protection under Article VII, Section 15, which covers only the period after the submission of the case. The present constitutional provision applies to civil, criminal and administrative cases.

Considering that the subject transactions were allegedly committed in 1991 and 1992, and the fact-finding and preliminary investigations were ordered to be conducted in 2004, the length of time which lapsed before the Ombudsman was able to resolve the case and actually file the Informations against petitioner was undeniably long-drawnout.

Any delay in the investigation and prosecution of cases must be duly justified. The State must prove that the delay in the prosecution was reasonable, or that the delay was not attributable to it (People of the Philippines v. Hon. Sandiganbayan, First Division & Third Division, et al., G.R. No. 188165, December 11, 2013). In Coscolluela v. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. No. 191411, July 15, 2013 is instructive:

Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman was created under the mantle of the Constitution, mandated to be the “protector of the people” and as such, required to “act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against officers and employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, in order to promote efficient service.”

This great responsibility cannot be simply brushed aside by ineptitude. Precisely, the Office of the Ombudsman has the inherent duty not only to carefully go through the particulars of case but also to resolve the same within the proper length of time. Its dutiful performance should not only be gauged by the quality of the assessment but also by the reasonable promptness of its dispensation. Thus, barring any extraordinary complication, such as the degree of difficulty of the questions involved in the case or any event external thereto that effectively stymied its normal work activity – any of which have not been adequately proven by the prosecution in the case at bar – there appears to be no justifiable basis as to why the Office of the Ombudsman could not have earlier resolved the preliminary investigation proceedings against the petitioners.

In the present case, respondents failed to submit any justifiable reason for the protracted conduct of the investigations and in the issuance of the resolution finding probable cause.

The petitioner asserted his right to a speedy disposition of cases at the earliest possible time. When he filed his counter-affidavit, he had already argued that dismissal of the case is proper because the long delayed proceedings violated his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of cases. He wasted no time to assert his right to have the cases against him dismissed.

Prejudice petitioner suffered.

As for the prejudice caused by the delay, respondents claim that no prejudice was caused to petitioner from the delay in the second set of investigations because he never participated therein and was actually never even informed of the proceedings anyway. A similar assertion was struck down by this Court in Coscolluela, to wit:

Lest it be misunderstood, the right to speedy disposition of cases is not merely hinged towards the objective of spurring dispatch in the administration of justice but also to prevent the oppression of the citizen by holding a criminal prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time. Akin to the right to speedy trial, its “salutary objective” is to assure that an innocent person may be free from the anxiety and expense of litigation or, if otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time compatible with the presentation and consideration of whatsoever legitimate defense he may interpose. This looming unrest as well as the tactical disadvantages carried by the passage of time should be weighed against the State and in favor of the individual. In the context of the right to a speedy trial, the Court in Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan (Corpuz) illumined:

A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the accused necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis.

x x x Prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interest of the defendant that the speedy trial was designed to protect, namely: to prevent oppressive pre-trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and concerns of the accused to trial; and to limit the possibility that his defense will be impaired. Of these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire system. There is also prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately the events of the distant past. Even if the accused is not imprisoned prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living under a cloud of anxiety, suspicion and often, hostility. His financial resources may be drained, his association is curtailed, and he is subjected to public obloquy.

Delay is a two-edge sword. It is the government that bears the burden of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The passage of time may make it difficult or impossible for the government to carry its burden. The Constitution and the Rules do not require impossibilities or extraordinary efforts, diligence or exertion from courts or the prosecutor, nor contemplate that such right shall deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly prosecuting criminals. As held in Williams v. United States, for the government to sustain its right to try the accused despite a delay, it must show two things: (a) that the accused suffered no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued from the ordinary and inevitable delay; and (b) that there was no more delay than is reasonably attributable to the ordinary processes of justice.

Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of the State for such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different reasons or justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should be weighted heavily against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor to intentionally delay to gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or to harass or prejudice him. On the other hand, the heavy case load of the prosecution or a missing witness should be weighted less heavily against the State. x x x

As the right to a speedy disposition of cases encompasses the broader purview of the entire proceedings of which trial proper is but a stage, the above-discussed effects in Cm1Juz should equally apply to the case at bar.

Adopting respondents' position would defeat the very purpose of the right against speedy disposition of cases. Upholding the same would allow a scenario where the prosecution may deliberately exclude certain individuals from the investigation only to file the necessary cases at another, more convenient time, to the prejudice of the accused. Clearly, respondents' assertion is subject to abuse and cannot be countenanced.

In the present case, petitioner has undoubtedly been prejudiced by virtue of the delay in the resolution of the cases filed against him. Even though he was not initially included as a respondent in the investigation conducted from 1996 to 2006 pertaining to the "overpricing of medicines" procured through emergency purchase, he has already been deprived of the ability to adequately prepare his case considering that he may no longer have any access to records or contact with any witness in support of his defense. This is even aggravated by the fact that petitioner had been retired for fifteen (15) years. Even if he was never imprisoned and subjected to trial, it cannot be denied that he has lived under a cloud of anxiety by virtue of the delay in the resolution of his case.



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Sorsogon mayor, 2 others charged in Sandiganbayan

SORSOGON CITY 5/23/17 (Bicol Standard) -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Bu...