Zarate warns against ‘darker times’ with police subpoena powers
AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Sunday, March 11, said the administration’s “terror-tagging” and the granting of subpoena powers to the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) is intended to round up members of Left-leaning groups.
In a statement, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani T. Zarate said that tagging at least 600 individuals who are allegedly connected with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorists “is a prelude to an intensified crackdown on members and leaders of the progressive organizations.” President Rodrigo R. Duterte last year declared CPP-NPA as terrorists with Proclamation 374. The Department of Justice then filed in February a petition before the Manila Regional Trial Court to formalize the declaration. “The allegations in this malicious court petition are utterly false. Instead of recognizing the legitimacy of the causes espouse[d] by revolutionary groups and legal democratic organizations, the Duterte administration is pursuing even further the militarist line of terrorist-tagging,” Mr. Zarate said. The lawmaker added that the recently signed Republic Act 10973, which allows PNP-CIDG to issue subpoena, would lead to “darker times” and added that the law “can potentially be subjected to abuse and further human rights violations.” — Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz
Aricheta takes office as new SC en banc CoC
THE SUPREME Court (SC) last week appointed lawyer Edgar O. Aricheta as the new en banc Clerk of Court (CoC) following the retirement of lawyer Felipa B. Anama last February. In a statement, the SC said Mr. Aricheta took his oath before Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio on Thursday, March 8. Mr. Aricheta, a Zamboanga del Norte native, was previously the CoC of the SC First Division since 2010. He began his public career in 1978 as a legal assistant officer at the Department of Labor and Employment before moving to the judiciary in 1980. — Dane Angelo M. Enerio
Sandiganbayan upholds indictment of PCSO executive for fund malversation
ANTI-GRAFT COURT Sandiganbayan has dismissed for lack of merit the appeal of a Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) executive who was indicted for fund malversation last year. In a decision promulgated on March 5, Sandiganbayan Fifth Division Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos affirmed the 2017 ruling of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) indicting Angelica A. Fajardo, PCSO cashier V and officer-in-charge division chief of the Prize Payment (Teller) Division, for the crime of malversation of public funds. However, Ms. Fajardo’s original sentence of 13 to 19 years in prison was reduced to six to 10 years, “[t]here being one (1) mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender,” the Sandiganbayan decision said. Ms. Fajardo was found in violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code after she failed to explain and give proof to the whereabouts of cash amounting to almost P1.88 million, which was missing from the P3 million cash in her custody after two spot audits were conducted on Nov. 13, 2008 and Jan. 8, 2009. — Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz
De Lima proposes drafting of health plan for visual impairment
SENATOR LEILA M. de Lima has proposed for a “National Sight Strategy Plan Act” through Senate Bill No. 1709 directing the Department of Health (DoH) to formulate a comprehensive plan of action in addressing health issues relating to eyesight.
“Visual impairment results in lost employment opportunities, decreases productivity, impedes learning and diminishes the general well-being of those who suffer from them,” said Ms. De Lima in her bill’s explanatory note filed last. Feb. 26, citing DoH figures that about two million Filipinos suffer from moderate to severe visual impairment. Under the proposed measure, the DoH is also tasked to collect data on the incidence and prevalence of vision abnormalities as well as to provide for eye care clinics or centers in government health care facilities. Ms. De Lima is currently incarcerated for charges relating to the illegal drug trade. — Camille A. Aguinaldo