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Nationwide round-up (02/18/21)

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AYALA Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala

Ayala chair joins Vatican-led council on ‘inclusive capitalism’

AYALA Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala has joined the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican, a global coalition that aims to make free enterprise contribute more to human development. The group, launched in December 2020, aims to pool global business and public sector leaders to discuss best practices in achieving inclusive capitalism. It is led by Pope Francis and the Vatican through Cardinal Peter Turkson. Officials from the United Nations, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Bank of America, Ernst & Young, and Mastercard are some of the companies overseeing the council. Ayala Corp. is the first business group from the Philippines to join the coalition. “All of us who thrive on the success of capitalism need to have a sense of responsibility and empathy to counteract the forces of inequity that the system also creates. We need to collectively harness our resources, ingenuity, and energy to align our institutions to the broader, progressive development goals of humanity, in general, and our host communities,” Mr. Zobel said in his message to the council. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte  

Senator proposes extending voter registration period

A senator on Wednesday suggested extending the voter registration period by at least 30 days to allow more eligible individuals to list for the 2022 national and local elections. Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said extending the September 30 deadline by 30 or up to 60 days will help in voter education and awareness as the filing for candidacy starts in October. “Your biggest information dissemination campaign is when the candidates start filing because don nga ngayon magkakaroon ng (that’s when there will be) greater awareness,” he said in a Senate hearing. Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo said they are “not closing doors” on the suggestion, but noted that their timeline is tight as the poll body still has to cluster precincts for the elections. He said extending the registration will affect the schedule of the succeeding election procedures leading up to the May vote. “But then again we will look into that situation,” he said. Commission on Elections (Comelec) Deputy Executive Director for Operations Teopisto E. Elnas, Jr. said of the four million targeted new voter registrants, or those who will turn 18 by 2022 elections, 1.3 million have already registered. Another 1.6 million voters who registered for the local youth council elections will be transferred to the database. There were also about seven million deactivated voters after failing to vote in two consecutive elections. Mr. Elnas said about three million are expected to register for reactivation, about 200,000 of whom have already done so. Comelec has 58.2 million registered voters as of January out of around 73 million projected voting population for 2022 based on Philippine Statistics Authority data. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

DoJ respects RTC decision on De Lima acquittal

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday said he trusts “in the good judgment and impartiality” of a Muntinlupa court on its recent decisions on the criminal cases filed against Senator Leila M. de Lima. In a Viber message to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Guevarra said the Department of Justice believes that “the honorable judge has diligently examined and weighed all the evidence presented by the prosecution” before deciding on its sufficiency or insufficiency. Ms. De Lima’s Demurrer to Evidence for Criminal Case No. 17-166 was granted by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 on Wednesday. A Demurrer to Evidence is a motion that can be filed by the accused to dismiss a case against him or her for insufficient evidence. Granting such “has the same legal effect as that of an acquittal,” therefore it is not appealable,” Mr. Guevarra explained in a mobile message on Thursday. The case is one of the three filed against Ms. De Lima by the Duterte administration for alleged involvement in illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison. Ms. De Lima’s co-accused, Jose Adrian Dera, was denied his demurrer but was allowed to post bail of P500,000. In a separate 35-page Omnibus Order, the Muntinlupa RTC denied the Demurrers to Evidence and Petition for Bail of Ms. De Lima and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan, for Criminal Case No. 17-165. The detained senator’s camp welcomed the decisions. “To be acquitted even in just one case, in the time of Duterte, is a victory,” Ms. De Lima said in a statement read by her spokesperson, Boni F. Tacardon, in a press briefing on Wednesday. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

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