Speaker Belmonte statement on Ombudsman Gutierrez Resignation

The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez relieved Congress and the government of what might have turned out into a long, protracted, grueling and costly impeachment trial.

The trial would have distracted Congress from its main task of legislation. Sessions are set to resume May 9 and we can now concentrate on our legislative agenda and the many vital measures that can move faster with our undivided attention. Moreover, there is no longer any impediment to this administration's goal of pursuing graft cases and we can expect that they be acted on decisively and swiftly.

I would like to thank all the members of the House of Representatives who have devoted so much time and effort to developing and preparing for the impeachment case. Let it be recalled that the House of Representatives acted decisively, crossing party lines, in overwhelmingly approving the impeachment complaint against the Ombudsman. 

'GMA's fortress is down on Merci's Resignation', Sen. Kiko Pangilinan

Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, who first called for Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's resignation in March this year, reacts to reports that the Ombudsman has met with the President and submitted her resignation letter on Friday .
"Thank you, Merci for sparing us the long and arduous impeachment process," the lawmaker said on Friday noon. But this is just one small step in the fight against corruption. We mustn't stop here."

Pangilinan, who has linked the Ombudsman with the series of corruption scandals that hounded the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said, "We are slowly but surely chipping away from the armor of invincibility surrounding GMA. Now that Merci is out of the way, GMA's fortress will come tumbling down, and we should use this as an opportunity to make the Arroyo administration pay for its corrupt, twisted ways. He continued: "Her resignation does not prevent the state from pursuing criminal cases should there be sufficient grounds to do so."

Sen. Escudero on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero
The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has relieved the country, the Senate and even the ombudsman herself of the pain and burden of an impeachment trial scheduled to open in May, Senator Chiz Escudero said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the resignation of Gutierrez now renders the impeachment case lodged against her moot and academic, but clarified that it does not give her immunity either from other suits filed against her by other entities.

"If at all, any case filed against her is not for the Senate to oversee anymore. It would have to be the regular courts or the Sandiganbayan itself. This is always a distinct possibility," Escudero said.
The senator commended Gutierrez for her statesmanship, though belatedly, for considering not only herself but the country in general.

"We have other pressing matters to consider and focus on such as rebuilding our country and meeting and delivering social services needed. An impeachment trial will take away our time, energy and attention from these important gut issues," Escudero said.

With Gutierrez's resignation, "I don't think anyone should not be magnanimous after this," Escudero said, referring to those who hold on to their positions in the public service amid controversies and ill-will.

'Merci's resignation will be good for our country', Sen. Pia Cayetano

Senator Pia Cayetano
"Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez made the correct decision in finally resigning from office, after months of clinging to her position despite mounting questions about her credibility and criticisms against her performance.
"In the end, her resignation will be good for our country and people. With Gutierrez out of the picture, the Aquino government will now have an opportunity to start on a clean slate to get to the bottom of corruption charges and prosecute the culprits behind the scandals from the previous administration.

"And now that Congress need not revise its legislative calendar to give way to the impeachment trial, which we had earlier projected to be complicated and long drawn-out, lawmakers can move forward and focus on legislation to address pressing issues, such as worsening poverty and rising cost of living, funding education to plug deficiencies in the public school system, and improving government health services to address high maternal deaths, sickness and malnutrition among young children, and rising cases of HIV-AIDS."

Sen. Ralph Recto on the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Ralph Recto
Statement of Sen. Ralph Recto on the resignation of  Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

"This means that the latest reality TV show gets axed even before the first live episode is aired. We won't be wearing those togas anymore. But it is a cancellation that both the actors and the audience do welcome. It doesn't mean however that this is 'The End' of this political telenovela because we are speaking here of one person's resignation and not the termination of the judicial proceedings that the cases will have to go through. The action simply shifts to the proper forum - the courts - where these cases duly belong."

Senator Loren Legarda on the Ombudsman's Resignation

Statement of Senator Loren Legarda on the Ombudsman Gutierrez Resignation

"The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is a fitting act to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Ombudsman. After all, the country's lead anti-graft agency and its officials should be free from controversy in order to effectively carry out their mandated tasks.

This now brings to a close the impeachment trial. In effect, the government will save a lot of money, which can be used for other essential needs of our people.

Furthermore, our focus will no longer be divided. The Senate can keep its concentration on important legislation.
But our fight against corruption is something we shall never put to rest. We shall continue to seek ways to make our government accountable, transparent, and responsive to the needs of our people."

Sen. Villar Statement on Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation

Sen. Villar Statement on Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation

"Gutierrez's act is expected. This will do the country good, saving time and resources on the part of the Senate. Now, we should move forward and continue working to find ways to help the country in the face of the rising cost of petroleum products and basic commodities. Kung may pananagutan si Gutierrez sa batas, nariyan ang ating hukuman para magpasya dito."


Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation Letter
President Aquino Statement on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation

Proclamation No. 154 - 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal is Holiday

Dr Jose RizalWHEREAS, Sunday, June 19, 2011, marks the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, our national hero;
WHEREAS, to give all Filipinos the opportunity to commemorate Rizal’s patriotic deeds and sacrifices for the country, rekindle their admiration and respect for him, and to celebrate this milestone with appropriate ceremonies, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) requested that Monday, June 20, 2011, be declared as special non-working holiday instead of June 19, 2011, which falls on a Sunday.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby declare Monday, June 20, 2011, as special (non-working) day throughout the country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.
Done in the City of Manila, this 26th day of April, in the year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Eleven.
By the President:
Executive Secretary

Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation Letter

April 29, 2011

His Excellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
Malacanang, Manila

Dear  Mr. President,

I am tendering my resignation as Ombudsman of the Republic of the Philippines effective on the close of office  hours of May 6, 2011.

Upon the effectivity of  my resignation, I shall be reverted to the status of a sovereign citizen who will continue working for good governance.

Very truly yours,

President Aquino Statement on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez Resignation

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
On the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez
[Delivered on April 29, 2011]
This morning, Merceditas Gutierrez personally submitted to me her resignation as our country’s Ombudsman, effective May 6.
Her action has spared the country from a long and divisive impeachment process that would have distracted our lawmakers from dealing with the many problems we face today.
It also paves the way for the appointment of a new Ombudsman.
I thank the House of Representatives. I now urge the Judicial and Bar Council to begin the search for a new Ombudsman. With the support of the public, we can now proceed more decisively in making government officials more accountable to their bosses, the Filipino people.
Thank you.

Dra. Carandang not involved in Willing Willie Case: MTRCB Statement

Macho Dancer
Official Statement of the Board
(regarding non-involvement of Dra. Ma. Lourdes A. Carandang in the filing
of the “Willing Willie” case pending before
the Board’s Hearing and Adjudication Committee)
The Board wishes to clarify erroneous news reports that Dra. Ma. Lourdes A. Carandang is the complainant in the case filed against the television program “Willing Willie” of TV5, which case is now pending resolution in the Board’s Hearing and Adjudication Committee.
The records of the Board’s Hearing and Adjudication Committee showed that the Board’s Legal Counsel is the complainant in the administrative case against the television program “Willing Willie” of TV5 for probable violation of Section 3 (c) of P.D. 1986 in connection with the questioned scene of a gyrating dance by a six-year old boy named Jan Jan Suan.
Nowhere in the complaint filed by the Board’s Legal Counsel or in any public pronouncement by the Board where the name of Dra. Carandang was ever mentioned.  The complaint by the Board’s Legal Counsel was filed on 28 March 2011 while the letter of Dra. Carandang expressing her views on the questioned scene was received by the Board on 03 April 2011.
In the determination of what constitutes contemporary Filipino cultural values, the Board always listens to the sentiments of the Filipino public.  It has always been the policy of the Board to encourage the public to register with the Board their complaints, sentiments or opinions regarding any matter seen on television.  On some occasions, the Board even sought guidance from persons of known probity and expertise in their given field.
In the subject gyrating dance of six-year old Jan Jan Suan, the Board solicits the views of Dra. Carandang because the scene deemed offensive involves the participation of a child.  Though the Board recognizes the unquestionable expertise of Dra. Carandang on matters pertaining to child psychology, her views as well as the views of other concerned agencies of the government (DSWD, NYC, NCCT and CHR) and of the public (through voluminous e-mail complaints) do not in any way bind the Board but only to aid in the independent and impartial determination of the case.

DepEd set 2011 Palarong Pambansa in Dapitan City to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal

Dr Jose Rizal in Dapitan
An April 27, 2011 press release by the Department of Education
To celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, his four years in exile and the 115th year of his death, the Department of Education will stage this year’s Palarong Pambansa in Dapitan City.
A yearly sporting event participated in by the country’s top elementary and high school athletes, an estimated 600 athletes and school officials per region (10, 200 participants nationwide) are expected to take part in the May 8 to 14 week-long event.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro emphasized that the Palaro will be run based on Filipino core values such as honesty and fair play.
Moreover, this year’s Palaro will put equal emphasis on environmental concern, thus the Secretary’s call to make it a “green Palaro.”
“All participants are urged to adhere to the clean, green and eco-friendly measures that DepEd intends to implement during the conduct of the 2011 Palarong Pambansa to ensure the protection of  public health and environment,” Luistro added.
This year, the Palaro committee plans to include special awards such as the Most Green for environmental friendly athletes and the Most Disciplined Athlete and/or Region.
Luistro hopes that despite the big number of people attending the national sports event, the foreseeable garbage problem could be minimized. He likewise expects that there will be either none or limited use of plastic and Styrofoam, urging students to bring their own utensils and reusable plastic containers for food.
DepEd issued the General Technical Guidelines and Competition Formats to ensure that the Palaro upholds sportsmanship and that the annual sports event will run smoothly.
Luistro appealed to all Palaro participants to adhere to fair play and honesty, especially with regards to the fielding of overaged athletes and identity switching.
A month before the staging of the event, Palaro executive committee chairman Romeo Jalosjos assured DepEd  that Dapitan City is ready to host the 2011 Palarong Pambansa. “I’m confident that we will meet the deadline. All of the big venues will be operational by that time. We are ready to receive them in Dapitan,” Jalosjos guaranteed.
The DepEd inspection team lead by Secretary Luistro recently visited the construction of the grandstand, the swimming pool, one of the schools to billet the delegation and the convention center.  “I was assured by the contractor that the different facilities will be completed on time for the holding of the event,” the education chief added.
Recently, Palarong Pambansa venue coordinator Mr. Eugenio Penales reported the completion of the grandstand, the swimming pool and renovations in 10-hectare Jose Rizal Memorial State University athletic complex, the main venue of the Palaro.
On the other hand, contractors are currently finishing the renovations of the track field lanes. “It will be operational by May 5,” Penales added.
The Palarong Pambansa is DepEd’s way of promoting physical education and sports as an integral part of the Basic Education Curriculum and as an affirmation to its commitment to develop the  potentials of the youth to become resposible and globally competitive citizens.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs, headed by Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali, assisted by the Task Force on School Sports (TFSS) shall spearhead the event. The TFSS shall provide technical management, secretariat/staff and operational services.

Beware of Fake job offers in Rome Italy

An April 27, 2011 press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs
The Philippine Embassy in Rome warns prospective employees about bogus job offers being circulated among Filipinos in Italy and in the Philippines using L’Aquila, Italy as a purported destination for Filipino workers.
The project proponent in the email represents itself as the “Ministry of Development, Public Works and Housing Reconstruction of Earthquake Affected Cities Program, which is alledgedly under the Auspices of World Rehabilitation Program (WRP) and Italian Freedom Corps (IFC)”.
Jobs being offered include truck drivers, machinery operators, plumbers, carpenters, electrically engineers/electricians, metal workers, nurses/dispensers/clinic staff, helpers, brick layers, miscellaneous job, technical experts, data entry clerk, first aid attendant, quantity surveyor, mechanical engineers, cooks/chefs/stewards, interpreters, and legal advisers.
The email uses the email address projecto_laquila@rome.com and office address Via Sicilia 162/C.
The Embassy inquired  with Italian authorities, particularly the Department of Development and Economic Cohesion under Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development, which stated that there is no such project.
“There is no Committee for the Reconstruction of L’Aquila at the Ministry’s official address in Via Sicilia 162/C cited in the email, and the Italian Ministry of Development Public Works and Housing does not correspond to any Italian office,” the Embassy said.
“Also, there is no registered project involving an alleged Housing Reconstruction of Earthquake Affected Cities Program, either in L’Aquila or Rome, and there is no WRP or IFC accredited with the Ministry, nor operating or registered in Italy,” it added.
The city of L’Aquila was hit by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake on 6 April 2009, killing over 260 residents, injuring over 1,000 and leaving 28,000 homeless.
According to the Embassy, the Ministry has referred the case to the Italian Police for further investigation.