DOJ files cases for truth, justice for all

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In government’s pursuit for truth and justice for all, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed cases against whoever and whatever it took them to do so.

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Among these cases, the DOJ filed on June 25, 2014 a perjury case against the alleged “big time” rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan before the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC).

In a resolution signed by Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano, the DOJ found probable cause to file in court the perjury case or for violation of Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Bangayan.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food after Bangayan allegedly perjured himself when he was summoned during the hearing of the committee pertaining to rice smuggling.

During the Senate hearing, Bangayan repeatedly denied that he is David Tan, the prime suspect in rice smuggling.

The denial was made despite the documents presented by Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) chairman Jesus Arranza in connection with the libel complaint filed against him by Bangayan.

The said libel complaint has an attached affidavit where Bangayan admitted that he is David Tan.

Likewise, the DOJ has ordered the filing of criminal charges against a labor attache of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and a former employee of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) implicated in the “sex-for-flight” scandal.

The DOJ did not identify the victims in compliance with the “Rape Victim Assistance Law” which provides that the names of those involved in the rape case should not be made public to protect their privacy.

In a resolution, the DOJ ordered the filing of charges against Riyadh Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte and Jose Casicas, a former employee of the POLO.

The DOJ recommended the filing of two counts of abuses against chastity against Villafuerte.

The said crime under Article 245 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) pertains to sexual advances committed by a public officer against a woman.

The case against Villafuerte stemmed from the complaint filed by an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

Meanwhile, a case for acts of lasciviousness was also ordered filed against Casicas, driver of Labor Attache Adam Musa, after the DOJ gave weight to the sworn statement of the complainant that she was hugged, kissed and touched maliciously by Casicas.

Earlier, the DOJ dismissed the two separate complaints filed by two other OFWs against Villafuerte.

The first complaint was dismissed due to the failure of the complainant to appear in the preliminary investigation, while the second one was dismissed for lack of probable cause.

Meanwhile, the DOJ has charged eight Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers who for the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih cheng on May 9, 2013 after a sea chase and confrontation off Balintang Channel.

Charged were Seaman 2nd class (SN2) Nicky Reynold Aurellio, SN1 Edrando Quiapo Aguila, SN1 Mhelvyn Aguilar Bendo III, PO2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz, SN1 Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo, SN1 Sunny Galang Masangkay and SN1 Henry Baco Solomon.

They were charged in court with Commanding Officer Arnold Enriquez de la Cruz for the fatal shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman.

The case arose when the PCG officers on board a vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) patrolling off the coast of Balintang Channel intercepted the Taiwanese fishing vessel for poaching.

After a brief sea chase, they fired at the fishing vessel, killing the Taiwanese fisherman.

In recommending the filing of the charges, the DOJ dismissed the claim of the respondents that they were forced to fire at the Taiwanese fishing vessel after it tried to ram the BFAR ship.

The DOJ said that they found no evidence to indicate or to prove that the Taiwanese fishing vessel posed an imminent or grave danger to the respondents before and during the pursuit.

It added that the claim of self-defense by the respondents should be better left threshed out in the trial court during a full-blown hearing.

On the other hand, the DOJ has ordered the filing of tax evasion case against Carla Corona-Castillo, the daughter of former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

In a 16-page resolution dated May 30, 2014 and signed by Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano, the DOJ said it found probable cause to file in court the tax evasion case against Castillo.

According to the DOJ, Castillo declared a total income of only P228,040 for taxable years 2008 and 2009.

However, Castillo was able to purchase a property in La Vista, Quezon City worth P18 million in 2010.

The DOJ was convinced that Castillo deliberately evaded to pay her income tax in 2010 after she failed to file her income tax return (ITR) for the same year.

It recommended the filing of charges for violation of Sections 254 and 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 against Castillo.

According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Castillo was assessed a total tax liability of P9.93 million.

Likewise, the DOJ filed last May 12 a case for violation of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 before the Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) against nine of the 11 Chinese poachers arrested off Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) in disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea.

Palawan Provincial Prosecutor Allen Roz Rodriguez said that the case against the two Chinese poachers were dismissed because they are minors.

The nine Chinese poachers are facing a case for violation of Section 87, or “poaching in Philippine waters”, and Section 97, or “fishing or taking of rare, threatened or endangered species”, of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Rodriguez said that they gave the nine poachers a public lawyer to represent them but the accused refused insisting that they did nothing wrong because they are fishing in Chinese waters.

He said that he tried to convince a Chinese consul who assisted the nine poachers to be represented by the public lawyer but the official also refused.

The DOJ recommended a bail of Php 30,000 each of the nine accused for violation of Section 87 and Php 40,000 each for Section 97 of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Also, the DOJ filed last April 10 criminal charges against businessman Cedric Lee, model Deniece Cornejo and five other respondents before the Taguig City RTC.

The DOJ filed the charges for serious illegal detention and grave coercion against Lee and Cornejo, as well as five other respondents in the case filed against them by actor-comedian Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro.

In a 42-page consolidated resolution dated April 4, 2014 which was approved by Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano and signed by the members of the panel who investigated the case, probable cause was found to recommend the filing of the criminal charges against the seven respondents.

Aside from Cedric and Cornejo, also charged for serious illegal detention and grave coercion were Bernice Lee, Simeon Raz, Jose Paolo Calma, Ferdinand Guerrero and Jed Fernandez.

The panel of prosecutors is composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Olivia Torrevillas, Hazel Decena-Valdez and Mari Elvira Herrera.

The panel found three elements in the case for serious illegal detention in the complaint filed by Navarro, including deprivation of liberty and infliction of serious physical injuries.

The seven respondents were also charged for grave coercion for forcing Navarro to sign in the blotter against his own will.

Meanwhile, DOJ dismissed the rape case filed by Cornejo against Navarro.

According to the DOJ, the rape case could not have been committed under the circumstances stated by Cornejo in her affidavit because it appears that no one heard her shouting, the door of her condo unit was open, and she had no bruises in her body and she did not ask to be brought to the hospital.

Likewise, the DOJ filed on Nov. 29, 2013 malversation, direct bribery and graft and corrupt practices charges against 34 individuals, including former Muntinlupa City congressman and now resigned Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Rozzano Biazon in connection with the alleged P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam case.

Other former congressmen recommended charged were Douglas Cagas (P9.3 million) and Marc Douglas Cagas IV (P5.54 million) of Davao del Sur, Arthur Pinggoy, Jr of South Cotabato (P7.05 million), Salacnib Baterina of Ilocos Sur (P7.5 million), Arel Olano of Davao del Norte (P3.175 million) and Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro (P2.4 million).

The former lawmakers were accused of transferring their pork barrel or PDAF to bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of the alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.

Likewise, 27 other personalities, including 12 auditors and three heads of government agencies were recommended charged.

These cases have been filed by the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) before the Sandiganbayan and they are now undergoing trial.

Also, the DOJ charged on Nov. 4, 2013 more than 200 respondents due to the three-week bloody encounters between forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Misuari faction and government troops in Zamboanga City on Sept. 8 to 29, 2013.

According to Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano, from the original 63 accused, there are now 280 respondents facing rebellion charges and violation of Republic Act 9851 or “crimes against humanity”.

This case is now pending before the Taguig City RTC.

At the same time, the DOJ filed on Oct. 3, 2013 plunder charges before the Ombudsman against former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and several former and current government officials in connection with the alleged P900-million Malampaya Fund scam.

The P900-million fund was supposed to be intended for the victims of typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in September 2009 and was allegedly disbursed through the local government units.

Likewise, the DOJ filed on Sept. 16, 2013 before the Ombudsman plunder and malversation charges against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, three senators and 34 others in connection with the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Napoles, the owner of JLN Group of Companies, is the alleged “brains” behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam and the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam.

Aside from Napoles, also charged with plunder were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., former Reps. Rosalinda Lanete and Edgar Valdez.

Others charged were five heads of government-owned and controlled corporations, six officials of Napoles’ non-governmental organizations, five employees of NABCOR, and two employees of Technology and Resource Center, among others, as co-conspirators.

These cases have been filed by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan and they are now undergoing trial. PNA

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