Akbayan Party today asked the Aquino administration to remain firm in digging for the truth behind the series of anomalies involving the previous government, which they said should lead to the prosecution of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The statement was made even as the political party called for a careful scrutiny of all whistleblowers and possible witnesses in light of the claims made by former election supervisor Lintang Bedol and former Maguindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

“The coming forward of personalities wanting to expose the election irregularities of Ms. Arroyo should reopen the unfinished and unresolved issues of cheating in previous elections and expose the widespread syndicate of election fixing and fraud in the government,” Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said.

Bag-ao said now is the time to make all possible and credible whistleblowers to come out without fear and expose the high crimes of Arroyo, her family and cohorts.

However, the partylist lawmaker counselled the Aquino government to carefully scrutinize the statements and claims of possible whistleblowers.

“Since some of those who would like to blow the lid on the alleged election cheatings are themselves accused of committing or contributing in the said crimes, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government must assess the credibility of these possible witnesses while encouraging others to also come forward,” Bag-ao cautioned.

Bag-ao also slammed the Arroyo camp particularly Lakas party lawyer Raul Lambino for saying that the Aquino government “coddled” Bedol and Ampatuan to get back at the former president and to “distract” the people from President Aquino’s plunging popularity ratings.

“Lambino should stop his doublespeak. Nobody’s buying it. No one was coddled. Truth is, they are now ratting on their boss because they are now feeling the heat generated by the government’s serious anti-corruption campaign,” Bago-ao said.

“If there's any coddling that happened, it took place during the GMA administration," Bag-ao pointed out. "After all, who coddled Garcillano? Who pampered those who were implicated in the 2004 election irregularities? Abalos, the election chief at that time, was involved in several anomalies, and yet he was treated with velvet gloves by the Arroyo administration. "

Bag-ao said the one of the Aquino government’s electoral promises is to make accountable all those who “ravaged” the country during the nine-year reign of the Arroyo regime.

“The government is only fulfilling its promise. If the likes of Bedol has something significant to say that will finally link Arroyo, the big boss to her colossal crimes, then by all means let the government extract crucial information and evidence from these individuals,” Bag-ao asserted.

However, Bag-ao said if the said individuals have no new and vital information to provide, then the full weight of the law must be applied to them.

“Kung wala silang sasabihing bago para ituro ang pasimuno ng mga krimen na ito, ay dapat lamang mabulok sila sa bilangguan,” Bago-ao said.

The Akbayan lawmaker also defended Presidential adviser Secretary Ronald Llamas from Lambino’s accusation that he acted as an emissary for Ampatuan.

“As far as we know, Secretary Llamas was not involved in this. Besides, Llamas is not the issue here, GMA is. Those who are maligning him are just afraid of the truth,” Bag-ao concluded. ###

Akbayan party today described the Chinese government’s statement protesting the trip of five lawmakers to Kalayaan in the West Philippine Sea as the "height of absurdity and arrogance."  

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who is the head of the trip dubbed as the “peace and solidarity mission” said Kalayaan, particularly Pag-asa is not a disputed place.

Former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros today urged Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take a leave from Congress to insulate the House from the dishonor that the inquiries on poll fraud and PCSO corruption would bring upon the former President.

“As Congress and other government bodies start looking into the mega-anomalies that happened during the previous administration, it would be prudent for Rep. GMA to take a leave from Congress. These controversies are clearly linked to the former President, and new testimonies would attest that GMA herself has a direct hand on these anomalies. As a member of Congress, it is her right to avail of the privileges accorded to a lawmaker, but that would undoubtedly besmirch the reputation of the 15th Congress,” Hontiveros said.

 

We in the House of Representatives are very apprehensive about developments in the West Philippine Sea.   Recent news about incursions by naval and air craft belonging to the People’s Republic of China into Philippine territorial or maritime waters, including harassment of a research vessel commissioned by the Department of Energy doing exploration work off Reed Bank, are a grave cause for concern.

We are glad that the President and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs have responded firmly to these provocations.

Before the end of the last session of Congress, Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao and I filed House Bill 1350, which proposed renaming the South China Sea the West Philippine Sea in order to disabuse people of any legal or subliminal notion that this body of water belongs to the People’s Republic of China.  We are glad that the executive accepted our recommendation and renamed that body of water accordingly.

Akbayan Party condemns in the strongest possible terms the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hacienda Luisita case. We particularly convey our extreme disappointment over its confusing decision to disapprove the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) only to mind-bogglingly call for a referendum among Hacienda Luisita farmers to help them “decide” whether they want the Stock distribution option (SDO) or land distribution.  

The decision is perplexing and can only be described as a travesty of justice. While the Supreme Court has nullified the SDO, the accompanying decision to call for a referendum is out-and-out deception. It only allows the estate’s elite incorporators to salvage their plans to keep Hacienda Luisita and to end any chances of the land ever being distributed. It will only serve to split the ranks of the beneficiaries, expose them to landlord machinations and force them to squabble over leftovers.