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The President has No Jurisdiction Over the Comelec Unlike the Customs


By: Elena Grace Flores

Since the Bureau of Customs is under the Department of Finance, it is directly under the Office of the President. The Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, and their staff may be removed by President Rodrigo Du30 when he loses confidence in them. On the other hand, the Commission on Elections is an independent constitutional office established under the constitution. The Congress of the Philippines has the authority over the agency through the drafting of resolutions that can change election laws and agreed upon by the Supreme Court as per the judicial review of such acts.

YouTube video by ABS-CBN News

[VIDEO]: Civilian personnel still ‘in control’, says new Customs chief

Impeachments by the Congress

Therefore, the Commissioners of the Commission on Election can only be removed through impeachment proceedings where only the Congress can facilitate. As a result, it is not possible for any judicial reviews to allow any military takeover to happen. This is very different from the circumstances surrounding the Bureau of Customs. This is why abuses in the poll agency can flourish because the abusers can build their supporters among lawmakers.

No Active Soldiers at the Customs

Malacañang clarifies that soldiers will not be given appointments or designations at the Bureau of Customs. This is after critics said that a military “takeover” at the bureau would violate the Constitution. President Du3o said he wants the military to “take over” Customs. He appoints Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the country’s former military chief, to the corruption-ridden agency.

Shabu Shipment Incident

Du30 recently removed Isidro Lapeña as Customs chief. Lapeña was criticized over the multi-billion shabu shipment that allegedly slipped past the country’s ports. He also announced that all Customs officials and personnel will be on “floating status.” In a Palace news conference, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, said: “the President is not appointing or designating any member of the armed forces.”

State of Lawlessness

Panelo argued that the situation at the Customs is akin to “lawlessness” which must be addressed by the President at all costs. “The Constitution says when there is lawless violence, the President can call out the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

Just to Intimidate

Panelo also explained that the soldiers who might be sent to the Customs will still have to answer to AFP Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr., not Guerrero. This is just to intimidate abusive customs personnel. Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that there’s no “military takeover” order from the President at all. He would, however, take part in the drafting of the guidelines for the plan, along with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. The people should know by now why Du30 acted out quickly on the customs’ case. Whereas undermining the Comelec’s incompetence amidst the revelations on digital electoral fraud.

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Panelo: Facebook is Not the Only Social Media Platform For the Du30 Supporters


By: Elena Grace Flores

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the removal of the pro-Du30 pages from Facebook does not speak about the profile of the President’s supporters. FB decides to take down pages supportive of the President due to alleged spam content and violation of its authenticity policies. The Filipino leader’s avid followers still have enough social media platforms to express their support outside of the number one social media platform in the Philippines, added Panelo. Duterte Media, Duterte sa Pagbabago Bukas, DDS, Duterte Phenomenon and DU30 Trending News were among the pages removed. Manang Imee, a page that endorses Du30’s ally, Gov. Imee Marcos’ senatorial bid in the 2019 elections also did not survive the purge.

YouTube video by Eagle News

[VIDEO]: Pro-Duterte pages at marami pang accounts, isinara ng Facebook dahil sa paglabag.

Just Riding On at Facebook?

All these groups back President Du30. It is not sure, however,  the administrators of these pages are actual supporters of the president. They can just be profiting off from his popularity. “Manang Imee”, on the other hand, expresses support for the eldest daughter of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos is a close political ally of Du30.

2nd Massive Removal

Facebook has removed over 100 pages and accounts in the Philippines, including several Pro-Du30 groups that it said, violated its policies on spam. This is just the second time after Maria Ressa, the founder of Rappler accuses FB of aiding Du30  in 2017. It is obvious that the intensity of these groups can drive her business into bankruptcy.

Political Twist

Ressa and her company are known to be the supporters of the presumptive Vice President Leni Robredo’s political party. Robredo leads the opposition slate and is anxious to replace the president, according to reports. Her ultimate dream can be jeopardized by the electoral protest of Bongbong Marcos, the brother of Gov. Marcos.

Purging Reason

It said the pages and accounts, which were mostly political or entertainment-themed, directed visitors to “low-quality websites that contain little substantive content and are full of disruptive ads”.

Online Security vs. Freedom of Speech

The US is the number one country where Cambridge Analytica had improper access to Facebook users’ data. Number two is the Philippines. This is where the corruption of more than a million Filipino data can take place. Facebook’s move is their prerogative for online security. However, they should know that Article III Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines specifies that; no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of expression.

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Senator Trillanes Misunderstood the President’s Rule of Law that Leads to the Supreme Court

Supreme Court

By: Elena Grace Flores

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s Order of Arrest could now be in the hands of the Supreme Court, explains former Senator and Armed Forces Chief, Rodolfo Biazon. Therefore, the noisy senator does not have victory contrary to his claims. What he has right now is a temporary relief that he is still out of jail, said Biazon. In fact, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said that while the Du30 administration respects the court’s ruling and adheres to the rule of law, the Justice Department and the Office of the Solicitor General would look into possible remedies with regard to the senator’s case. The SC’s Court of Appeals is surely in the picture.

YouTube video by Elena Grace Flores

[VIDEO]: The Supreme Court now has to rule on Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’ order of arrest after he experiences a temporary relief from being arrested.

Judge Soriano’s Judgement

Judge Andres Soriano issued a resolution denying the DOJ’s plea for the warrant for Trillanes’ arrest, saying the court had already dismissed the case in 2011 and “the court finds no reason to disturb the doctrine of immutability of a final and executory judgment.” The judge also said the court “finds and so holds that Trillanes did file his amnesty application in the prescribed form in which he also admitted guilt for his participation in the Oakwood Mutiny, among others, and in which he further recanted all previous statements that he may have made contrary to said admission.

Voiding Trillanes’ Amnesty is Legal

The resolution also upheld the validity of Proclamation 572, saying it was within President Rodrigo Duterte’s prerogative to issue it. In a 33-page order, Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 Judge Andres B. Soriano found “no basis to believe that Proclamation 572 has breached any constitutional guaranty or that it has encroached on the constitutional power of either the judicial and executive branch”.

The Senator will be Apprehended

Based on the proclamation, Trillanes has no pending application for amnesty granted to all active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and supporters who joined the July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines stand-off and the November 2007 Manila Peninsula incident. The proclamation also tasked the AFP and the PNP “to employ all lawful means to apprehend former (Lieutenant Senior Grade) Antonio Trillanes so that he can be recommitted to the detention facility where he had been incarcerated for him to stand trial for the crimes he is charged with,” citing the power of the President under Article VII, Sec. 19 of the Constitution to grant amnesty.

Military Court Martial?

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it respects the court’s ruling. “The PNP as a law enforcement agency will always respect. It upholds whatever is the decision of any judicial authority,” said PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. The President still gets a strong support from the military. However, Senator Ping Lacson said that only the Supreme Court can decide whether Senator Antonio Trillanes IV should face a military court even as a civilian.

Court of Appeals in the Supreme Court

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarifies that the Department of Justice determines the next step. This is in the amnesty issues of Senator Trillanes. Parties have 15 days to file an appeal or motion for reconsideration before a court. Guevarra said that the DOJ is finalizing its next step. It is likely that it will end up in the Court of Appeals. The rebellion case was dismissed in 2011 pursuant to the amnesty granted by former President Benigno Aquino. But President Du30 declared the amnesty “void from the beginning” through Proclamation 572.