fertilizar fund scam

Pardon for Erap, Ninoy's killers wrong – Noynoy

Pardon for Erap, Ninoy’s killers wrong – Noynoy
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said yesterday it was wrong for President Arroyo to have pardoned former President Joseph Estrada and soldiers convicted of conspiracy in the killing of his father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

Aquino and his running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II also denied trouble in their partnership, saying they were united and helping other candidates.

Some people in his camp were reportedly backing Estrada’s running mate, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, while others were pushing for a team-up between Roxas and Nacionalista Party presidential bet Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

Aquino said he was personally close to Estrada and Binay, but stressed justice should not be sacrificed for friendship.

“It is a known fact that I was part of the impeachment (against Estrada) and I talked to him about that. On the pardon aspect, the fundamental principle is those who commit mistakes must have a corresponding punishment. And once the punishment is not served, nothing will happen to us,” he said.

He said the problem in the country was that cases were not resolved, especially the ones involving the allies of Mrs. Arroyo.

Aquino also opposed pardon for the soldiers convicted of  conspiracy in his father’s murder in 1983.

He also explained that he voted against the playing of the “Hello, Garci” tapes when he was still congressman because these were taken illegally.

“The bottom line is there is a legal premise called the fruit of the poison tree. That means that any evidence taken illegally cannot be used in judicial proceedings.”

The “Hello, Garci” wiretaps, which were recorded by military intelligence agents, allegedly contained conversations of the President with poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over an alleged plot to rig the 2004 elections.

He said he talked to several lawyers before deciding on his stand on the “Hello, Garci” issue.

“If the tapes were played, there would be compounding or aggravating circumstances and the evidence would not have been used,” he said.

All cases already answered

Meanwhile, as far as Malacañang is concerned, all the controversies that have been raised against the Arroyo administration have already been heard and answered adequately at appropriate venues.

Reacting to a statement by Aquino that once elected president he would create a commission to investigate the controversies of the Arroyo administration, deputy presidential spokespman Gary Olivar said Aquino is entitled to do whatever he wants if and when he succeeds in his bid for the presidency.

“Obviously if Senator Aquino wins the elections, then he is perfectly entitled to put together whatever kind of agenda he believes is appropriate for the country,” Olivar said.

He said it would be Aquino’s prerogative to do what he thinks should be prioritized in his first 100 days in office, including investigating the alleged controversies of the Arroyo administration as he vowed to do.

However, Olivar noted that the administration has answered all the allegations thrown its way, including the NBN-ZTE deal, the fertilizer fund scam and the “Hello, Garci” controversy. But he admitted this would not prevent the opposition from opening up these issues again.

“If people disagree then they also have venues to seek redress or to appeal. If they now want to use the electoral process to take still another try at these issues from the past, then that is their prerogative and only the voters can stop them, unless the voters agree with that kind of agenda.”

He said such pronouncements from candidates in this May’s elections should also be used by voters as a basis for their decision on who to vote for as the country’s next set of leaders.

He said voters should not rely on surveys for their decision-making since these are just “snapshots of what certain people are thinking.” – Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy

Scandals that hounded Arroyo admin

Scandals that hounded Arroyo admin
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Scandals hounded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo almost immediately after she took power in 2001.

The following are some of the major controversies:

Hello Garci (2005): Wiretapped phone conversations purportedly between Ms Arroyo and Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano revealed, the opposition claimed, that she stole the 2004 presidential elections. She denies the charges.

NBN-ZTE project (2007): Losing bidder Joey de Venecia said a $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) contract with China’s ZTE Corp. was overpriced by $130 million to cover kickbacks and involved First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo. Ms Arroyo later scrapped the deal.

Jose Pidal (2003): A Senate panel looked into charges that First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo had amassed over P200 million from campaign contributions and put the money in secret bank accounts, some under the name of “Jose Pidal.” Mike Arroyo’s brother, Ignacio, claimed he owned the accounts, but invoked his right to privacy.

Fertilizer fund scam (2004): Following charges that Ms Arroyo engaged in “virtual vote-buying” by authorizing the release of P728 million to favored officials weeks before the 2004 presidential election, a Senate panel concluded that she should be held accountable. Plunder and other charges were recommended against Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante and nine others.

“Jueteng” (2005): Testimony at a Senate inquiry on the illegal numbers game jueteng revealed that operators had given protection money to Mike Arroyo, his congressman-son Juan Miguel and brother Rep. Iggy Arroyo.

Cash handouts (2007): Ms Arroyo had breakfast in Malacañang with over 100 congressmen and around 200 local officials who later were given paper bags containing between P200,000 and P500,000 in cash, described by critics as a bribe to quash an impeachment case against her.

World Bank loan (2007): The World Bank put on hold a $232-million loan for national road improvement projects after bid rigging was uncovered. Sen. Panfilo Lacson said witnesses in a World Bank report implicated Mike Arroyo in the irregularity.

NorthRail (2003): Former Sen. Franklin Drilon described the $503-million NorthRail project “the greatest train robbery in history.” Experts said the mass transit project from Caloocan City to Malolos was simply an upgrading of the old railway system.

SouthRail (2007): Critics said the $932-million SouthRail project funded by a Chinese loan to link Laguna to Bicol provinces was overpriced by 22 percent, or about $70 million. Inquirer Research