Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez earlier today rejected the move of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice to adopt a Resolution supporting the grant of house arrest to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is under hospital detention over alleged misuse of P366 million funds for the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Gutierrez, who was the sole lawmaker who voted against the motion, emphasized that granting Arroyo house arrest is akin to giving 'special privileges' to people who have the resources, power and people to represent their case.
"No one should be too big, even a former President, to escape accountability and the rule of law. That's how we prevent impunity, and that's how justice works," Gutierrez added.
His objection was overruled, 8-1, allowing the resolution to move forward to the Plenary for Assembly deliberations and voting.
Lawmakers who voted for the adoption of the measure were: 3rd District-Leyte Rep. Andres Salvacion, Jr., 1st District-Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, Baguio City Rep. Nicasio Aliping, 1-BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello, ABAMIN Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr., ACT-CIS Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, 1st District-Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, 1st District-Bulacan Rep. Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado.
Akbayan-Youth today reiterated its call to the House of Representatives to finally pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill which it sees as a safeguard measure against what it described as “Binay-like” corruption in reference to the 242 bank accounts allegedly owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay and his close associates.
The youth group said the public needed a potent policy tool like the FOI Bill to prevent public officials from engaging in unparalleled level of corruption in the future.
“Based on the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the Vice President is setting a new standard for corruption unmatched in recent memory. However, this could have been exposed early on if an FOI law already existed at the time he was still amassing his ill-gotten wealth,” according to Akbayan Youth Chairperson Rafaela David.
“Kung may FOI Law dati pa baka walang 242 Binay bank accounts at overpriced parking building,” David added.
In her first week on the job, newly-sworn in Akbayan representative Angelina “Angie” Ludovice Katoh committed to investigate the Valenzuela fire that gutted Kentex Manufacturing's factory, and killed more than 70 workers on Wednesday.
“Nakakalungkot talaga ang nangyari at nakikiramay ang Akbayan sa pamilya ng lahat ng mga manggagawang biktima ng sunog na ito,” Katoh said.
“We will ensure a thorough investigation into the matter, and we will make sure that all responsible parties will be made to answer for this tragedy,” Katoh added.
Katoh, who was also a labor union organizer, explained that it was important to start with the Department of Labor and Employment's (DOLE) responsibility to ensure the welfare of workers.
"This is a big black mark on DOLE's record. More than 70 workers perished in that fire, and it is the responsibility of DOLE to ensure a safe and hazard-free working environment in all factories operating across the country," Katoh said.
The decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to freeze the bank accounts of Vice President Jejomar Binay, his close relatives, and several supposed "dummies" is a "significant development" in the ongoing investigation on Binay and several others facing criminal charges before the Ombudsman and investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee.
"This is a significant development that takes the corruption issue against the VP, his family, and associates from the realm of mere allegation to that of judicial finding, if only on a preliminary basis," according to Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez. "It is also a huge step forward in unraveling the tangled Binay web that has emerged in the wake of the Senate inquiry and the cases filed before the Ombudsman."
"The CA ruling upholding the findings of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that there was probable cause to believe that the Binay accounts were "related to unlawful activities" is an extremely strong statement on the ultimate liability of the Binays and their associates. The persistent accusations that first emerged in the Senate investigation can no longer be simply brushed aside as mere baseless politicking, but must be met with clear and convincing explanations from those involved," Gutierrez explained.
Gutierrez is a former law professor and a Director at the University of the Philippines Law Center.
Binay and several others are currently facing plunder complaints and graft charges in relation to the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II and Makati Science High School, and an allegedly disadvantageous land deal between the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Alphaland.
Youth and student leaders led by Akbayan Youth today rappelled down a tall structure at the University of the Philippines-Diliman to call on lawmakers to immediately pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.
The rappelling activists hanged a big banner demanding the members of the House of Representatives “not to keep the people hanging” and muster the needed political will to pass the measure.
They said the bill will provide the public better access to information needed to promote greater transparency at all levels of governance.
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