Tag Archives: Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap

House Speaker’s sorry on freedom of info bill rejected

By Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap, Bb. Joyce Cabral, Billy Javier Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- “We don’t need your sorry.” This was the reaction of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on reports quoting outgoing House Speaker Prospero Nograles that the fourth highest official of the land was sorry for the failure of 14th Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Bill. Nograles said he was sorry for the fate of the Freedom of Information Bill and that did his best to have the controversial measure passed by Congress but there was no quorum at the time the Lower House was set to approve the freedom of info bill.

“We were not born yesterday Mr. Speaker. The Freedom of Information Bill according to the narrow sentiment and interest of Malacanang was designed for a grand massacre,” said Pamalakaya.

“House Speaker Nograles wants to take the truth and justice seeking people of this country to another roller coaster ride. This aging and has-been politician from Davao City will go down in history as one of those shameless and lowlife political prostitutes of all time,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said House Speaker Nograles could had grabbed the opportunity and redeem himself by leading the congressmen to vote in favor of the legislative measure that will empower the Filipino public to source information about contracts and transactions entered into by government agencies and officials, which are deemed disadvantage or inimical to public interest.

“Mr. Speaker opportunity knocks only once. But you did not open the door of the House because that will put the ruling but outgoing occupant in Malacanang and their partners in crime in and out of the Palace and in and out of the House of Representatives in the name of political and legal immunity of the Arroyos and their close associates,” added France.

Pamalakaya said the failure of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Bill will prevent the group from asking reports and documents from different government agencies concerning government officials and offices involved in big time crimes of corruption.

The militant group is set to demand next Congress to pursue investigations and legislative inquiries pertaining to still unresolved complaints of corruption against President Arroyo, favored cabinet members like former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and top military and police officials implicated in controversial anomalies involving huge public funds.

Pamalakaya earlier said it will ask the next Speaker of the House of Representatives to pursue the investigation of several anomalies involving President Arroyo and Sec. Yap and other top officials of the agriculture department regarding millions of pesos of missing funds at the agriculture department.

One of the issues of corruption which the group will raise is the P 455-million ice making scandal which Pamalakaya said was perpetrated by Malacanang and ex-agriculture secretary and now elected congressman (Bohol, 3rd district) Yap.

“It will be hard for us to secure documents and reports from DA just like the old times, because the law that should have given us the legal franchise to exercise our constitutional right to basic information is thwarted by the Arroyo-Nograles syndicate,” Pamalakaya lamented.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya challenged leading presidential candidate
Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to certify the approval of the Freedom of Information bill in 15th Congress and make it as one of the prioritized legislative agenda in the first 100 days of his administration.

But some quarters are saying it would still be an uphill battle for the controversial measure, since majority of the allies of President Arroyo who are allergic to the freedom on info bill would still exact political influence in Congress under the Aquino administration.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III is optimistic presumptive Philippine president elect Aquino would be fully behind the FOI bill that seeks to improve transparency in government transactions and to make it easier for the public to get the data they need.#

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Fishers say DQ case vs. Yap will reach SC

By Manila Legarda and Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap

MANILA, Philippines-

Pamalakaya activists accused former agri chief Arthur Yap of pocketing P 455 million in taxpayers money over purchase of 98 ice-making machine

The current legal battle involving the disqualification case filed by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) may soon reach the Supreme Court according to petitioners Fernando Hicap and Salvador France, chair and vice chairperson of the activist fishermen group.

“Definitely we will challenge the decision of the Commission on Elections before the highest court of the land. The fight against unlawful and immoral claim of Mr. Yap to represent the third congressional district of Bohol will be vigorously pursued in any appropriate court, in the parliament of the streets and in the court of public opinion. There’s no turning back,” the Pamalakaya leaders said in a joint statement.

Hicap and France, the petitioners to the Supreme Court move will be presided by the filing of motion for reconsideration before the Comelec, and if the poll body rejected the motion, they will elevate the case before the high tribunal for proper legal disposal of the disqualification case.

“It is going to be lifetime nightmare for Secretary Yap unless this most favored Cabinet member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo atone for his political, legal and moral follies and pay for his crimes against the Filipino public,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

Pamalakaya is now preparing a people’s petition urging senators and congressmen of incoming Congress to investigate Yap on charges of big time corruption in the Department of Agriculture under his watch as secretary of the department.

“It is going to be addressed to the next Senate President and House Speaker of the House of Representatives. Imagine, Secretary Yap, the congressman of Bohol third district is being called to answer charges of top notch crimes of corruption,” the group said.

On January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case against Sec. Yap and President Arroyo in connection with the P 455 million ice making fund scam, which the group said was overpriced by 100 percent per unit. Pamalakaya said Yap and other officials of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR) should also be investigated on the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

The Second Division of Comelec last week junked the disqualification case filed by the group.

Pamalakaya received a copy of the 10-page resolution penned by Comelec second division presiding Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer and members Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph dated May 13, 2010 denying the instant petition for disqualification of Yap.

“After thorough examination of the proofs presented by both parties, we are convinced that Respondent Yap has met such requirement. The term “residence” is to be understood not in the common acceptation as referring to “dwelling” or “habitation” but rather to “domicile” or legal residence, that is, “the place where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain,” the Comelec second division said.

The poll body further said: “It has been established that the domicile of origin of the respondent is in Metro Manila. When respondent Yap decided to make Loboc, Bohol as his residence, such a decision did not begin and end by his intimation to Judge Fernandez of his intention. In 2007, Yap was laying the groundwork for his transfer to the said municipality.”

The Comelec said Yap visited local government officials and neighboring towns whenever his regular visits to the place permitted him. The election body said Yap’s intention was made clearer when he finally purchased the house of his mother-in-law in Barangay Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol.

“Although property ownership is not an indicia of domicile, the fact that the respondent bought the property wherein he resides adds to his foothold to the municipality. His attendance in barangay assemblies as member of barangay is indicative of his desire to integrate himself in the community,” the poll body added.

The Comelec noted that Yap’s contributions in the community were recognized when he was conferred the title “adopted son of Loboc, Bohol by way of Resolution No. 131 adopted on October 24, 2005. The commissioners said the law does not state that in abandoning his domicile, the candidate must divest any and all of his properties and interest attached to his previous domicile.

“His electoral victory is a product of political horse trading, highly questionable and totally ridiculous. We will explore all legal remedies to stop Sec. Yap from misrepresenting the third district of Bohol and use his illegally acquired position to get away with high crimes of corruption he committed during his tenure as chief of the agriculture department,” Pamalakaya said. #

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Poll body junked DQ case vs. Yap

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bb. Joyce Cabral and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines- The Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the disqualification case filed by the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) against former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

Pamalakaya received a copy of the 10-page resolution penned by Comelec second division presiding Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph dated May 13, 2010 denying the instant petition for disqualification of Yap.

“After thorough examination of the proofs presented by both parties, we are convinced that Respondent Yap has met such requirement. The term “residence” is to be understood not in the common acceptation as referring to “dwelling” or “habitation” but rather to “domicile” or legal residence, that is, “the place where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain,” the Comelec second division said.

The poll body further said: “It has been established that the domicile of origin of the respondent is in Metro Manila. When respondent Yap decided to make Loboc, Bohol as his residence, such a decision did not begin and end by his intimation to Judge Fernandez of his intention. In 2007, Yap was laying the groundwork for his transfer to the said municipality.”

The Comelec said Yap visited local government officials and neighboring towns whenever his regular visits to the place permitted him. The election body said Yap’s intention was made clearer when he finally purchased the house of his mother-in-law in Barangay Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol.

“Although property ownership is not an indicia of domicile, the fact that the respondent bought the property wherein he resides adds to his foothold to the municipality. His attendance in barangay assemblies as member of barangay is indicative of his desire to integrate himself in the community,” the poll body added.

The Comelec noted that Yap’s contributions in the community were recognized when he was conferred the title “adopted son of Loboc, Bohol by way of Resolution No. 131 adopted on October 24, 2005. The commissioners said the law does not state that in abandoning his domicile, the candidate must divest any and all of his properties and interest attached to his previous domicile.

“We must take note of the fact that prior to his running for a House seat; he was the secretary of agriculture serving as alter ego of the President. Close proximity to Malacanang entails regular visits to the Metropolis. To maintain properties in furtherance of his profession could not be seen as an indication of non-abandonment of his previous domicile as held in Fernandez vs. HRET case,” the Comelec asserted.

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya-vice chairperson Salvador France, both petitioners in the disqualification case said the fight for the disqualification of Sec. Yap is far from over, and in fact’ the protracted fight against the removal of the former agriculture secretary from public office has officially started.

“The junking of our disqualification case against Secretary Yap is highly predictable from the very start. It is not surprising to us that Comelec had junked our case against Yap. It will be a major surprise of the election season if Comelec decided on our favor,” the two Pamalakaya leaders said.

However, Hicap and France said they would ask their lawyer on what would be the next legal action to be taken in connection with the Comelec decision. They said a motion for reconsideration may be filed before the Comelec or they may bring the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

“We see the junking of the disqualification case against Yap as an opportunity rather than a tragic defeat. The venues for the all out exposition of and opposition to secretary Yap as a power hungry and opportunist bureaucrat capitalist and corrupt public official will further go places including but not limited to Comelec and other appropriate courts,” the Pamalakaya officials added.

Pamalakaya said it will explore all available legal remedies to stop Yap’s illegal and immoral claim to represent the people of Bohol in the third district.

“His electoral victory is a product of political horse trading, highly questionable and totally ridiculous. We will explore all legal remedies to stop Sec. Yap from misrepresenting the third district of Bohol and use his illegally acquired position to get away with high crimes of corruption he committed during his tenure as chief of the agriculture department,” the group said.

Prior to the May 13 decision of the poll body, the lawyers of Sec. Yap said the poll body should immediately dismiss the disqualification case filed by Pamalakaya on March 9, saying that their client was able to garner 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast. According to Yap’s lawyers, this represents 72.8 percent of the total votes cast or an overwhelming majority.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Sinaca vs. Mula (G.R No. 135691, September 27, 1999, 315 SCRA 266,282), Yap’s legal counsel asserted that when a candidate has perceived popular mandate overwhelmingly and clearly expressed, all possible doubts should be resolved in favor of the candidate’s eligibility for to rule otherwise is to defeat the will of the people. Ex-sec. Yap lawyers said, the determination of the true will of the electorate should be paramount, and that the voice of the people should prevail which is the essence of democracy.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya will send appeal letters to incoming congressmen and senators to investigate cases of corruption involving Sec. Yap particularly the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. The militant group said they will also ask the new congress under the Aquino presidency to investigate the unchecked operations of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA which is implicated the questionable importation of 98 quick freezing machines.

On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam, Pamalakaya said Yap and other NABCOR officials should also be investigated on the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled. #

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Yap takes 126 K out of 173K votes, but fishers group refuses to give up DQ case

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA, Philippines-Controversial former agriculture secretary and unopposed congressional candidate in Bohol’s third district Arthur Yap has accumulated 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast and appeared shoo-in for the elective post.

However, Yap’s nemesis—the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), that filed a disqualification case against the former agriculture secretary on the question of residency refused to give up, stressing it will explore all available legal remedies to stop Yap’s illegal and immoral claim to represent the people of Bohol in the third district.

“His electoral victory is a product of political horse trading, highly questionable and totally ridiculous. We will explore all legal remedies to stop Sec. Yap from misrepresenting the third district of Bohol and use his illegally acquired position to get away with high crimes of corruption he committed during his tenure as chief of the agriculture department,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, one of the petitioners in the disqualification case against Yap.

In the latest manifestation submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the lawyers of Sec. Yap said the poll body should immediately dismiss the disqualification case filed by Pamalakaya on March 9, saying that their client was able to garner 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast. According to Yap’s lawyers, this represents 72.8 percent of the total votes cast or an overwhelming majority.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Sinaca vs. Mula (G.R No. 135691, September 27, 1999, 315 SCRA 266,282), Yap’s legal counsel asserted that when a candidate has perceived popular mandate overwhelmingly and clearly expressed, all possible doubts should be resolved in favor of the candidate’s eligibility for to rule otherwise is to defeat the will of the people.

Ex-sec. Yap lawyers said, the determination of the true will of the electorate should be paramount, and that the voice of the people should prevail which is the essence of democracy.

Meanwhile, Hicap assailed Comelec Chairman Jose Melo over the latter’s continuing snub of the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The Pamalakaya official said the poll body has yet to tackle the disqualification case filed by his group two months before the May 10 elections.

“But Chairman Melo and the rest of the commissioners did not perform their assignment and constitutional mandate. They allowed Yap to run while there is an urgent case waiting for their final resolution ahead of the May 10 polls. This is terrible, really terrible,” the group sad.

“It seems to us Chairman Melo is afraid of Secretary Yap because the former agriculture secretary is no ordinary person for the poll chief and taking up Yap’s case is like entertaining a major fight with Malacanang and Yap’s political benefactors in and out of Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya will send appeal letters to incoming congressmen to investigate cases of corruption involving Sec. Yap particularly the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. The militant group said they will also ask the new congress under the Aquino presidency to investigate the unchecked operations of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA which is implicated the questionable importation of 98 quick freezing machines.

On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam, Pamalakaya said Yap and other NABCOR officials should also be investigated on the
P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

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298 out of 11k Lobocanos confirmed Yap is man from Loboc

By Billy Javier Reyes and Sugar Hicap in Tagbilaran City, Bohol
and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila

MANILA, Philippines-Some 298 Lobocanos signed a sworn statement affirming that former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, now running unopposed in the third district of Bohol is a true blue Lobocano entitled to run for congressional seat.

In a supplemental information filed before the Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) national office in Manila, lawyers of Yap asserted that the sworn statement of 298 residents in Barangay Buenavista is strong proof that Sec. Yap is a legitimate resident in the village and his plan to run in the third district of Bohol is not questionable contrary to what petitioners Fernando Hicap and Salvador France, chair and vice-chair of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) had raised in the disqualification case they filed against their client on March 9.

The Yap camp had previously questioned the legal capacity of Pamalakaya to file the disqualification case, citing Rule 25 of the Comelec, that groups like Pamalakaya can only question and file disqualification case against national candidates and not on local candidates. They said Yap is running for a seat in the third district of Bohol, and only the people in the third district of Bohol could question his candidacy.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said Yap, although running in the third district of Bohol, is no ordinary person in local politics. The Pamalakaya leader said Sec. Yap is the former secretary of agriculture, an influential national figure and one of the most cherished members of the Macapagal-Arroyo cabinet.

“Secretary Yap is a national public figure and influential member of the Arroyo cabinet who has been hounded by high crimes of corruption over the last six years. His misrepresentation of Bohol’s third district is already a big crime. The Filipino public will not allow Yap to use his congressional representation in Congress to evade charges of super corruption against him. Therefore, it is in the national interest of the people to frustrate Yap’s bid for Congress and instead have him prosecuted for first-rate crimes of corruption on multiple counts,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya said 298 Lobocanos who signed the sworn statement do not represent the 250,000 populace of the third district of Bohol. He said the town of Loboc has 11,000 registered voters and 298 is just about 2 percent of the registered voters.

More than a week ago, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared former Agriculture Secretary Yap a sure winner in the third district of Bohol, which the fisherfolk alliance viewed as a marching order to the poll body to junk Pamalakaya’s disqualification case filed against Yap.

“We were not born yesterday. President Arroyo’s political prophecy declaring Secretary Yap as congressman of third district of Bohol is a marching order from Malacanang to Comelec to kill the disqualification case against Yap,” the group said.

President Arroyo who was the guest speaker at the first anniversary of a housing project for squatters moved out of Pasig River and victims of typhoons in Marikina and Pasig cities said she was sure of Yap’s unopposed victory in the third district of Bohol.

“Even if he alone votes for himself, Arthur Yap will become congressman because he is unopposed,” said Ms Arroyo.“I asked Yap to sit with me because even if he was already a former government official and now in the private sector and will become congressman,” Arroyo said.

Two weeks ago, Pamalakaya asked the Comelec to immediately tackle the disqualification case against Secretary Yap, adding it was puzzled by the development that the poll body has yet to tackle the case against Yap.

The group likewise filed supplemental information to Comelec to beef up the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The supplemental information was signed by three officials of Barangay Buenavista, municipal of Loboc disproving Yap’s claim that he lives in the village and a resident of the far-flung barangay, which the former agriculture secretary claimed as his present address as shown in his certificate of candidacy.

The supplemental information carried the signatures of former Barangay Buenavista secretary Corbino Cuhit, incumbent barangay councilor Basilio Balog and resident Mateo Ratonel, brother of incumbent barangay councilor Boy Ratonel which said that Yap was never been a resident of the barangay and the controversial secretary just arrived in their village at the start of the election season.

The three said the house and the address referred by Sec. Yap as his official domicile in Buenavista, Loboc is a far-flung community which is not passable to any regular vehicle except single motorcycles due to rough road and mountainous curves.

In their 4-page disqualification case against Yap filed last March 9, Pamalakaya said the former agriculture secretary lacks qualification to run as congressman for the third district of Bohol because he is not a resident of province 3rd district. The group asserted the position for which Yap filed a certificate of candidacy requires that a candidate be a resident of the district (3rd District of Bohol) for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the May 10, 2010 elections.

Pamalakaya maintained Secretary Yap failed to meet the qualification because the former agriculture secretary still lives in Ortigas, Pasig City and there is no evidence or overt act that Yap abandoned his domicile of origin. The group said their case against Yap is similar to the recently concluded case decided by the poll body against actor Richard Gomez who was barred by Comelec from running in Leyte over the question of domicile.

“More than the issue of residency is the stockpile of graft charges filed by against Secretary Yap before the Office of the Ombudsman regarding irregular and highly questionable use of taxpayers’ money by the agriculture department. This disqualification case pertaining to lack of qualification to run on the basis of residency is just part of the whole process to unearth the truth on controversies surrounding this controversial cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Pamalakaya.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against Yap in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. Included in the charge sheet are President Arroyo and other officials of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA. On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam is the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

“We filed this case not to spoil the political ambition of Sec. Yap. We filed this case because we want truth and justice to prevail over the narrow interest of new breed of traditional and corrupt politician like Sec. Yap,” Pamalakaya added.

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Philippine president “orders” poll body to let favored bet run in May elections?

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Trinity Biglang Awa and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines- The 28 national council leaders of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said the annoucement of President Gloria Macapagal-ArroyoGloria Macapagal-Arroyo declaring former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap a sure winner in the third district of Bohol is a marching order to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to junk Pamalakaya’s disqualification case filed against Yap.

“We were not born yesterday. President Arroyo’s political prophecy declaring Secretary Yap as congressman of third district of Bohol is a marching order from Malacanang to Comelec to kill the disqualification case against Yap,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Ya is running unopposed in his wife’s home province but on March 9, Pamalakaya filed a disqualification case against him for lack of residency.

President Arroyo who was the guest speaker at the first anniversary of a housing project for squatters moved out of Pasig River and victims of typhoons in Marikina and Pasig cities said she was sure of Yap’s unopposed victory in the third district of Bohol.

“Even if he alone votes for himself, Arthur Yap will become congressman because he is unopposed,” said Ms Arroyo.“I asked Yap to sit with me because even if he was already a former government official and now in the private sector and will become congressman,” Arroyo said.

Last week, Pamalakaya asked the Comelec to immediately tackle the disqualification case against Secretary Yap, adding it was puzzled by the development that the poll body has yet to tackle the case against Yap.

The group likewise filed supplemental information to Comelec to beef up the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The supplemental information was signed by three officials of Barangay Buenavista, municipal of Loboc disproving Yap’s claim that he lives in the village and a resident of the far-flung barangay, which the former agriculture secretary claimed as his present address as shown in his certificate of candidacy.

The supplemental information carried the signatures of former Barangay Buenavista secretary Corbino Cuhit, incumbent barangay councilor Basilio Balog and resident Mateo Ratonel, brother of incumbent barangay councilor Boy Ratonel which said that Yap was never been a resident of the barangay and the controversial secretary just arrived in their village at the start of the election season.

The three said the house and the address referred by Sec. Yap as his official domicile in Buenavista, Loboc is a far-flung community which is not passable to any regular vehicle except single motorcycles due to rough road and mountainous curves.

In their 4-page disqualification case against Yap filed last March 9, Pamalakaya said the former agriculture secretary lacks qualification to run as congressman for the third district of Bohol because he is not a resident of province 3rd district. The group asserted the position for which Yap filed a certificate of candidacy requires that a candidate be a resident of the district (3rd District of Bohol) for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the May 10, 2010 elections.

Pamalakaya maintained Secretary Yap failed to meet the qualification because the former agriculture secretary still lives in Ortigas, Pasig City and there is no evidence or overt act that Yap abandoned his domicile of origin. The group said their case against Yap is similar to the recently concluded case decided by the poll body against actor Richard Gomez who was barred by Comelec from running in Leyte over the question of domicile.

“More than the issue of residency is the stockpile of graft charges filed by against Secretary Yap before the Office of the Ombudsman regarding irregular and highly questionable use of taxpayers’ money by the agriculture department. This disqualification case pertaining to lack of qualification to run on the basis of residency is just part of the whole process to unearth the truth on controversies surrounding this controversial cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Pamalakaya.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against Yap in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. Included in the charge sheet are President Arroyo and other officials of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA. On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam is the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.

“We filed this case not to spoil the political ambition of Sec. Yap. We filed this case because we want truth and justice to prevail over the narrow interest of new breed of traditional and corrupt politician like Sec. Yap,” the fisherfolk alliance added.

Pamalakaya maintained Sec. Yap cannot even speak the language of Boholanos. The group also said the respondent and his family continue to stay in Metro Manila and that in the concept of domicile underelection laws is at Alexandra Residence in Pasig City.

“How can he live and reside in Bohol when Sec. Yap practices his profession and conducts his business in Metro Manila? He continues to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Makati Chapter and likewise holds office in Quezon City. He cannot even speak the language of Boholanos and the people of Central Visayas verbally and by heart. It is really impossible” the group said.

The militant group asserted that Sec. Yap is not domiciled in Barangay, Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol or anywhere within the 3rd legislative district of Bohol. It said the respondent does not have real, substantial and material ties to the locality as to qualify him a resident of the said legislative district, adding that Sec. Yap spends much more time in Metro Manila than in Bohol.

“His visits in Bohol are infrequent, short and transient,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Fishers fear Ombudsman’s junking of plunder case filed vs. GMA, Yap

By Sarsi Pimentel, Lollipop delos Reyes and Pepsi La Loma

MANILA, Philippines-Fisherfolk leaders who filed a plunder complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other public and private officials in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machine on January 6, 2010 fear possible dismissal by the Ombudsman of their case against GMA, Yap and other agriculture officials and private individuals before the anti-graft body.

“We have this strong gut feel, our plunder case and other criminal and administrative complaints filed against the GMA-Yap tandem will be either junked or archived by the Office of the Ombudsman under an Arroyo protégé in the person of Ombudswoman Atty. Merceditas Gutierrez,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya Vice-Chair Salvador France.

“The Office of the Ombudsman has been prostituted, cannibalized and rendered inutile by the Arroyo administration over the last 9 years since GMA assumed the presidency in 2001. The Ombudsman has been effectively used by the corrupt government of Mrs. Arroyo to cover up the triple platinum crimes of corruption committed by the Arroyo mafia,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

They added: “The rule and dictum of the ruling gangland might be applied to our case to save Arroyo and company. If the Ombudsman dismissed our plunder complaint, we have no option but to seek motion for reconsideration or re-file the same case in the next administration.”

Pamalakaya challenged Ombudswoman Gutierrez to come true to form in the name of national interest and the people’s collective quest for truth, justice and accountability. The group reminded Atty. Gutierrez that President Arroyo is a lame duck President, and such situation provides her an opportunity to make up for her past blunders and allow the wheels of justice to take its normal course.

“This is an opportunity for Ombudswoman Gutierrez and she should grab it since opportunity only knocks once. This is the time to redeem herself and prove to the people that she is no puppet of the Arroyos,” the group said.

On January 6, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders led by party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente charged President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and 13 others with plunder and criminal and administrative suits before the Office of the Ombudsman.

In their 16-page plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, complainants said President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and officials of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR), members of Awards and Bids Committee and owners and operators of Integrated Refrigeration Service System (IRRS) violated Republic Act 7080 or the Anti-Violation Plunder Law, Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act for grave misconduct.

The complainants said the agriculture department through NABCOR awarded the government contract to a lone bidder—the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) on September 2, 2009, which will provide the ice-making unit at P 4,650,000 per unit, or about P 2.3 million higher compared to prevailing industry price for the ice-making machine.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list asserted that the P 455- million ice making machine scam is chiefly authored by President Arroyo and members of the syndicate operating in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agriculture department and that Secretary Yap performed his role to the hilt as the lead actor in this newest high crime of corruption orchestrated by the ruling Mafia in the Palace.

As agreed by parties to contract, the government will pay IRSS the sum of P 455,700,000 for 98 units of ice-making machines with liquid freeze capability which will be supplied to selected municipal fish ports nationwide. But the complainants said the government can obtain 98 units of ice-making machines for P 225 million to P 230 million, or half of the quoted and agreed price with IRSS.

According to information gathered by Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list, NABCOR conducted a preliminary bidding last August 26, and IRSS which won the bidding, was only incorporated on August 25, a day before the preliminary bidding was conducted.

The groups said under Republic Act 9184 (Procuring Law), Section 37.1, the bidder must submit a copy of its single largest completed contract over the past 3 years, and such condition is impossible for IRSS, which was only incorporated on August 25, this year, a day before the preliminary bidding. The contract was finally awarded last Sept.2.

Prior to the filing of the plunder complaint, businessman Allan V. Ragasa, a complainant had filed charges against Sec. Yap and officials of NABCOR and officers of IRSS headed by its chairman Alexander Leung before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the questionable awarding of contract to IRSS. The complaint in violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184 was filed on Nov.18, 2009. #

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