Justice Martirez for SC/ P1-M for info on Dayan

>> Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Alfred P. Dizon

If there is anybody we are rooting for to sit as Supreme Court Justice, it is Sandiganbayan Justice Samuel Martirez. The first time we met Martirez was in Chong Loy’s Luisas Restaurant along Session Road.
We didn’t know he was then a Regional Trial Court judge in Agoo, La Union. If I remember right, he was sitting alone in one corner sipping Chong’s distinct brand of coffee while we were at the other table talking about issues as newsmen usually do.
Maybe the conversation was interesting that he asked if he could join our table. That conversation led to talks over coffee every time he came up to Baguio mostly during weekends. Over time, we got glimpses of his view on issues particularly with government and of course on laws.
He struck us as a very, fair objective man of the law and very humble. Most of the time, he came in wearing sandals and a casual shirt.
Justice Martirez is a member of the first batch of candidates vying for the first two appointments of President Duterte in the SC. They faced the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) Thursday.
Reports said the seven nominees for the posts to be vacated by the retirement of SC Associate Justices Jose Perez and Arturo Brion next month were grilled on the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the spate of extra-judicial killings (EJK) of drug suspects.
The applicants interviewed by the JBC were Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, lawyer Rita Linda Ventura Jimeno, Pasig Regional Trial Court Judge Rowena Apao-Adlawan, Court of Appeals (CA) Justices Japar Dimaampao and Noel Tijam, Department of Justice chief state counsel Ricardo Paras III and Justice Martirez.
They are aspiring for the posts of Perez and Brion, who will retire on Dec. 14 and Dec. 29, respectively.
Three other nominees for Brion’s post  – CA Mindanao Executive Justice Romulo Borja, CA Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier and lawyer Joseph San Pedro  – faced the council Thursday.
I attended a press conference of Welfare Sec. Judy Taguiwalo in Baguio Friday at the Ritz Hotel. She struck me also as a very humble woman. When asked what she thought about the Marcos burial that day at the LNB, she turned pensive. She said she was jailed for three years during the Marcos Regime and gave birth inside the jail. She added she could not endorse the burial of the late strongman there due to what he did during his reign and that she personally felt how it was to suffer during his rule.  
The suggestion of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to have the late President Ferdinand Marcos buried at the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is now moot and academic as the former strongman was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Wednesday.
He said the $2.3-billion nuclear plant was a “monument to the folly and corruption of the Marcos dictatorship.”
What Lagman had in mind, according to our neighborhood philosopher, must be to start a trend on where to bury future Presidents – and it would be at the Bataan Nuclear Plant where it could be an alternative to the Libingan ng mga Bayani. After all, a lot of Filipino heroes died in Bataan during World War 2 particularly during the Death march. This, considering being buried at the LBB is so controversial nowadays. 
Lagman was one of petitioners in the Supreme Court case opposing Duterte’s decision to allow a hero’s burial for Marcos. The high court ruled that Duterte did not commit grave abuse of discretion in making such decision, paving the way for the interment of Marcos at the cemetery for heroes.
But Lagman has asked the high tribunal to re-issue its status quo ante order to prevent Marcos’ burial while the court is resolving the case with finality. The petitioners planned to appeal the SC ruling. Now that is water under the bridge.
Sen. Leila de Lima was incredulous that her affair with her former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, which she admitted, was being used by the Department of Justice to beef up criminal cases against her.
De Lima, whom President Duterte has repeatedly tagged as a protector of drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison, also dismissed calls for her to resign.
Dayan was alleged to have acted as De Lima’s bagman, collecting money from drug lords to fund her senatorial campaign earlier this year. He remains in hiding and private individuals have offered more than P1 million in reward for any information leading to his arrest.
“Is that (affair with Dayan) proof that I’m involved? Or had something to do with the drug trade in the NBP just because I had a previous relationship?” De Lima remarked. “If you’re a bagman, do you have to be romantically involved? Is that proof? Theoretically, anyone can be a bagman, assuming that their claim is true that I benefitted from the drug trade,” she said.
De Lima said her being romantically involved with Dayan was not relevant but the attack dogs of the administration are trying to make a scandal out of it as part of their efforts to shame her.
Now the DOJ is saying she could lose here license as a lawyer since she admitted her affair. Pundits are now saying she should just have kept her mouth shut so she would not be drawn further into the mire.
The senator also said she was anticipating that Kerwin Espinosa – who is set to be returned to the country – will be pressured to testify against her, especially after his father, Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa, was gunned down in his jail cell.
She said the incident was similar to the incidents with other witnesses who testify against her, including NBP inmate Jaybee Sebastian. “All their efforts are focused against me. I’m the only one they keep on filing cases. Have you heard of any other cases being built up against other alleged (drug) protectors, alleged coddlers – the real ones?” De Lima said.
Alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa has agreed to spill the beans on his illegal drug operations and cooperate with the government, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said.
Espinosa is scheduled arrived from Abu Dhabi to reveal what he knows about the illegal drug operations. Dela Rosa said, “He (Kerwin) has declared his willingness to cooperate with the government initially, unless he changes his mind,” the PNP chief said.
Dela Rosa said Espinosa would be placed in the custody of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) at Camp Crame following his arrival from the United Arab Emirates early Friday.
“(He is) very important because he holds the key to the future of others involved in the illegal drug trade,” Dela Rosa said. He said Kerwin has yet to make an affidavit detailing his confession.
Dela Rosa said Kerwin was earlier interviewed by Philippine authorities in Dubai, and he reportedly agreed to turn state witness and reveal the key players in the illegal drug operations named by his slain father and namesake, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa.
The elder Espinosa reportedly maintained a ledger of key personalities who were on the take in the illegal drug operations in Eastern Visayas. Among the personalities allegedly listed in the supposed blue book was Sen. Leila de Lima.
During the Senate inquiry into the killing, senators believed Espinosa was executed to prevent him from revealing the extent of the illegal drug operations in the region, including the personalities on his payroll.
The senators are interested in finding out who ordered the killing of Espinosa. Would Kerwin be also killed while in detention? That is the question.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had said Kerwin would be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) to testify against the personalities involved in the illegal drug trade, possibly including De Lima.
Aguirre also offered government protection to Ronnie Dayan, the former driver and bodyguard of De Lima. Aguirre noted De Lima’s admission that she had an affair with Dayan.
This war against drugs has indeed turned upside down the world of personalities in government.


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