‘Explosive’ evidence to be presented at Senate hearing on jail system

Vicente C. Sotto III

THE COMMITTEE on Justice and Human Rights will be presenting new evidence and witnesses in Wednesday’s continuing hearing on anomalies in the state penitentiary system, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said.

Mr. Sotto said on Monday evening that he signed over five subpoenas for the investigation, which he described as “explosive.”

“Something explosive, palagay ko (I think) new evidence, baka (maybe) one or two new witnesses,” Mr. Sotto told reporters in a briefing at the Manila Hotel, Tuesday.

He noted this will further uncover truth on the alleged corruption within the New Bilibid Prison as well as the operation of rogue cops.

These issues surfaced during the committee’s probe on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance.

In its last two hearings, the panel looked into the involvement of Philippine National Police Chief Oscar D. Albayalde in the alleged 2013 reselling of drugs seized during a police buy-bust operation.

This was in relation to statements of former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director Benjamin B. Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, on an alleged cover up.

Mr. Magalong recounted that in Nov. 29, 2013 thirteen Pampanga cops seized more or less 200 kilograms (kgs) of drugs, but declared only 38 kgs.

Investigations, initiated by Mr. Magalong, led to a dismissal order issued against the 13 cops.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron N. Aquino said Mr. Albayalde had asked him to halt implementation of the order when he was central Luzon regional director.

“The best way for the chief PNP to show that he does not have anything to do with that is to complete the proposal of dismissal at tsaka (and to) i-file ang necessary cases,” Mr. Sotto also said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Amendments to Human Security Act seen passing Senate by November

THE PROPOSED amendments to the Human Security Act to strengthen the government’s efforts in counter-terrorism is seen hurdling the Senate by November, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said on Tuesday.

“Right now we are on the verge of passing the anti-terrorist act,” Mr. Sotto told reporters in a briefing at the Manila Hotel.

“We might be able to pass it in the first week of November. At the latest, second week of November, just before we start deliberation of the budget.”

Congress is currently on an Oct. 5–Nov. 3 break.

He was referring to Senate Bill No. 1083, or the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019,” which is now pending second reading approval in the chamber.

The Senator has been pushing for the measure since the 17th Congress, where it only went as far as hurdling the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs, and justice and human rights.

The counterpart measure, meanwhile, remains pending at the committee level in the House of Representatives.

The measure proposes the following acts as punishable by life imprisonment: any person traveling to a state for the purpose of planning or participating in terrorist acts; organizing travel of individuals with the same purpose; or any person residing abroad who comes to the Philippines to participate in terror acts. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Over 4M new voters register

OVER FOUR million new voters registered this year, higher than the 2.6 million expected by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Based on data released Tuesday, Comelec said 4,097,003 voter applications were processed during the registration period from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.

Of the total, 1,014,607 were voters aged 15 to 17 years old for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), and the rest were regular applicants aged 18 and above.

This is beyond the target noted by who said around 2.6 million Filipinos are expected to register for 2019, with mostly first time young voters making up the majority.

“A turnout this high far exceeds the projected number of new registered voters for the year 2020. This is true for the 16 regions in the country. For regular applicants, the nationwide average is 152% more than what was statistically expected,” Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said.

The next scheduled elections will be for the baranggay and SK elections on May 22 next year, although there is a pending proposal in Congress for a postponement.

“Once a bill postponing the polls is signed into law by the President, we will announce a new period of voter registration,” Mr. Jimenez said. — Gillian M. Cortez