Macarambon, Umpa told to resign or be fired over corruption reports

MALACAÑANG ANNOUNCED on Tuesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has Justice Assistant Secretary Moslemen T. Macarambon, Sr. and Public Works and Highways Assistant Secretary Tingagun Ampaso Umpa to tender their resignations or be fired “for corruption.” In a press briefing at the Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said Mr. Macarambon, according to an investigation report from the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), “[has] regularly been intervening on behalf of smugglers of gold and other precious jewelry at the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport.” Citing a DPWH report, Mr. Roque said Mr. Umpa “allegedly committed grave abuse of power, and may have committed acts of corruption.” “[Mr. Umpa] asked from contractors in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) area for certain percentages from projects awarded to these contractors,” Mr. Roque said. The spokesman also noted that he was told that the “PACC inherited about 400 complaints.” So there are many complaints being investigated now. And it is the Ombudsman’s duty to file criminal charges,” Mr. Roque said in Filipino. Sought for comment, PACC Commissioner and spokesperson Greco Antonious Beda B. Belgica told BusinessWorld in a text message that his agency “will come up with a formal report at a press conference on Thursday, (May 17).”
MACARAMBON DEFENSE
Mr. Macarambon said on Tuesday that he will “write a letter” to the President to explain his side. In a phone patch interview with reporters, Mr. Macarambon said he only asked BoC officials at the airport to recompute the tax assessment of his relatives’s declared jewelry after it reached P6 million. He insists he did nothing wrong. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Dane Angelo M. Enerio

Lawmakers tell Diño: File charges vs vote-buyers

LEGISLATORS ON Tuesday challenged Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Martin B. Diño to keep his word and file cases against politicians allegedly involved in vote-buying. “I think DILG (Usec) Diño should let his hands do the talking not his mouth by filing cases against those who violated election laws in the recent barangay polls,” Akbayan Rep. Tom S. Villarin told reporters in a text message. “The DILG should know better and prepared to prevent or even mitigate these things from happening prior to the elections through a vigorous information drive about the non-partisan nature of barangay elections,” Mr. Villarin said. For his part, Ifugao Rep. Teddy B. Baguilat, Jr. said what the country needs are concrete solutions to stopping vote-buying. “An honest to goodness drive to prosecute violators will surely help,” Mr. Baguilat said. Mr. Diño earlier claimed that 100 congressmen were involved in buying votes in relation to Monday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth) elections.
INCIDENTS
Meanwhile, suspected election-related shooting incidents increased to 38 on Monday following eight incidents on election day, Police Director General Oscar D. Albayalde reported yesterday. Mr. Albayalde cited reports from the Philippine National Police National Election Monitoring Action Center (PNP NEMAC) on “eight suspected violent incidents including seven minor incidents in South Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur,” resulting to “a lone fatality in South Cotabato.” On Monday afternoon, PNP Spokesperson PCSupt. John C. Bulalacao reported 36 shooting incidents, with 12 from SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Sants), Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Central Luzon, with four incidents each, and Bicol with three. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) began Tuesday its post-election clean-up efforts along major roads, particularly in Parañaque, Taguig, and Makati. MMDA chair Danilo D. Lim reported collecting 15.81 cubic meters of scrap election paraphernalia such as paper, plastic, and tarpaulin, which will be donated to organizations for recycling. — Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz and Charmaine A. Tadalan

Ex-DoH consultant drops Dengvaxia complaint vs Aquino, others

DOCTOR FRANCISCO Cruz, one of the four complainants that filed criminal charges against former president Benigno S.C. Aquino and several others for their involvement in the nationwide Dengvaxia vaccination program, has decided to withdraw from the case. Mr. Cruz, in a manifestation submitted to the Department of Justice (DoJ), said his withdrawal is “in order to make certain rectifications… and to amplify and revise portions of the said affidavit.” The DoJ on Tuesday ordered Mr. Aquino, several government officials, and officers of Sanofi Pasteur and Zuellig Pharma to attend the preliminary investigation on June 4 to be conducted by state prosecutors. Also on Tuesday, the DoJ started its probe on the separate complaints filed against Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and 37 others over their alleged involvement in the P3.5-billion mass vaccination program. — Dane Angelo M. Enerio

Lim, others ordered to appear before DoJ for renewed drug case

PETER LIM
PHILSTAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

SUSPECTED DRUG lord Peter Go Lim and several other alleged drug personalities have been ordered by the Department of Justice (DoJ) to appear at the next hearing of its reinstated drug case against them. The suspects are also directed to file and subscribe their counter-affidavits after failing to do so on Tuesday. Self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa was the only respondent who filed his counter affidavit yesterday. According to their legal counsels, Messrs. Lim and co-accused Peter Co were not able to attend due to “safety concerns.” — Dane Angelo M. Enerio