Special treatment — again — for ex-President

li-620-arroyo-cp-01586020The House of Representatives Committee on Justice has approved a resolution seeking house arrest for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The administration of her successor, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, has filed several criminal charges against Mrs. Arroyo.

Mr. Aquino’s administration managed to stop Mrs. Arroyo from leaving the country, ostensibly to seek medical treatment for a degenerative neck and spine condition. She has since been under hospital arrest at the Veterans’ Medical Center in Quezon City.

Why are lawmakers scrambling to accord special treatment for the ex-president?

Even if that resolution is non-binding, the concept behind it shows them bending backward for the former leader.

The committee, headed by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, green lighted a resolution for Mrs. Arroyo to be placed under house arrest.


While some cases against Mrs. Arroyo has been dismissed, she still faces a plunder case. That’s probably one of the most serious crimes a national leader can face.

The only other crime that comes near it is mass murder or serial murder. That’s more the turf of the man Mrs. Arroyo once loved to call her hero.

Here’s what Tupas said:

“According to the Philippine National Police, Arroyo is not a flight risk. We asked doctors, and despite her medication, Arroyo has not been responding…,”

If it’s a physical problem, then all the more reason for her to stay put in the hospital. If Tupas is tip-toeing around the notion that Mrs. Arroyo is suffering from depression, I will commiserate. But that is still not enough reason for the special treatment. Any survey of any jail around the country will find a substantial percentage of prisoners saddled with the blues, whether they just be in the dumps or actually suffering from clinical depression.

There’s little reason for Mrs. Arroyo to be allowed the comforts of their sprawling La Vista residence. She has very comfortable space in that hospital. I doubt if more than a handful of soldiers wounded in battles aimed at preserving the republic have ever enjoyed that kind of accommodation.

News reports have quoted the prosecution opposing Mrs. Arroyo’s request for the Sandiganbayan to allow house arrest:

In a comment filed by the prosecution before the Sandiganbayan First Division, they opposed the former president’s Motion for Modified Custodial Arrangement, wherein she requested that she be transferred either to her Quezon City house or Lubao, Pampanga house.

The prosecution said “the argument raised by the accused that she be placed under house arrest runs counter to her actual medical conditions.”

The prosecution also emphasized that there is “no rule that allows house arrest to an accused whose bail petition and demurrer have been denied.”

Some people note: “But she’s a former president. Give her the respect she deserves.”

Last I checked, leaders — with all the privileges, perks and powers they enjoy — have very clear legal guidelines on what or what not to do during their terms of office.

philippine-president-gloria-macapagal-arroyo1Pomp and circumstance should not be mistaken for respect or one’s right to it.

Respect is earned when you do the right thing for the right reasons, no matter the difficult odds faced.

Those who, having been given plenty by the people, and choose to trample on their sacred tasks, are not deserving of respect.

That goes for officials of the incumbent administration, including President Aquino’s favourite protector, his chief dispenser of pork, as well as the Vice President with the mostest.

This resolution has nothing to do with compassion. I suspect it is in aid of contributions. Or votes.


WHO OWNS THAT BACKHOE? (Revisiting the Ampatuan Massacre)

Who doesn’t? 

Only those who did not kowtow, did not pander, did not channel funds and arms to the Ampatuans of Maguindanao.

Only those who refused to keep silent as the clan harassed and burned and killed to wrest control of lands to annex for their kingdom.

Only those who did not bargain away people’s lives and rights for a slot in command tickets come election time. November 23, 2014

I am not surprised by Tupas and company. Legislators once urged a pardon for convicted plunder president Joseph Estrada. He’s not only Mayor of Manila today; he is also thinking of running in the 2016 national elections — or positioning himself as king (or queen) maker.

[The prosecution handling Mrs. Arroyo’s cases have pointed out:  “in Estrada’s case, his house, which was adjacent to the Philippine National Police’s Camp Capinpin, was converted into a police camp and was “for all intents and purposes” a police camp”. That didn’t stop the fun, by all accounts.]

You can only wonder who’s the next beneficiary of legislators’ bleeding hearts. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile? And after this administration steps down, friends will remember and return the favor.

In fact, many so-called exit strategies in this country seemed aimed at finding protectors who will shield them from accountability.

And we wonder why some things never change.

BIR extends validity of old receipts — full text of Revenue Memo Circular 44-2013

Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares apparently held the loud moans of despair on social media over the agency’s imposition of new receipt formats, a move that caught many business owners and professionals by surprise. 

No, she still wants the new receipts but has extended the validity of old ones printed before Jan 18, 2013. The deadline for application for the printing of new receipts remains the same. 

Here’s the full text:

11 June 2013
SUBJECT : Extending the Validity of Unused/Unissued Principal and
Supplementary Receipts/Invoices Printed Prior to January 18, 2013
and other Matters.
This Circular is being issued to extend the validity of all unused/unissued
principal and supplementary receipts/invoices printed prior to January 18, 2013, the
effectivity date of Revenue Regulation No. 18-2012, from June 30, 2013 to August 30,
2013. However, the deadline for filing an application for the printing of new receipts to
replace all unused/unissued principal supplementary receipts/invoices printed prior to
January 18, 2013 shall be maintained as of April 30, 2013, and therefore all applications
received after said date shall be considered late application and the penalties for late
filing shall be imposed.
All unused/unissued principal and supplementary receipts/invoices printed prior
to January 18, 2013, the effectivity date of Revenue Regulation No. 18-2012 shall be
surrendered to the RDO where the taxpayer is registered on or before 10th day after the
date of printing stated in the new principal and supplementary receipts/invoices. For
purpose of this Circular, and other issuance related hereto, the date of the new principal
and supplementary receipts/invoices is the date of expiration of the validity period of
the unused/unissued receipts/invoices referred to herein.
After August 30, 2013, all principal and supplementary receipts/invoices printed
prior to January 18, 2013 shall no longer be valid. Issuance of said receipts/invoices
shall be deemed to be an issuance of an invalid receipt or deemed as if no receipts were
issued, and a violation of Section 264 of the National Internal Revenue Code. And
transactions with said receipts are deemed not properly substantiated and may not be
allowed as a deduction.
All internal revenue officers and employees are hereby enjoined to give this
Revenue Memorandum Circular as wide a publicity as possible.
Commissioner of Internal Revenue

The NEW SALN (Catch them if you can)

DO you want more transparency in government? Do you want to unmask corrupt officials? Implementation this year of  new requirements in state workers’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) could improve transparency and accountability in government service.

Sleuths out to discover the dirty fruits of dirty deeds will have an easier time poring over the new SALN approved by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in July 2011.  The new SALN will be used for year 2011. The deadline for filing is on April 2012.

The major changes are:

  • Inclusion of the spouse’s properties, including that paraphernal type –meaning property one brings to the marriage or acquires even after marriage, especially inheritance — and that of children below 18 years of age living in the filer’s household.
  • The use of acquisition cost for computation purposes. While all assets of minor children and the spouse should be listed, these will be excluded from computation. Also excluded is a spouse’s exclusive property if he/she files a separate SALN. (Insert)
  • Filers must now list GROSS INCOME from all sources and not just list down financial or business interests.
  • Filers must also submit personal and family expenses for the year, to include education and health costs, and the cost of vacations and other travel and big-ticket expenditures.
  • They must also submit ALL TAXES paid on all income/earningS whether through sale of properties, dividends, honorarium or regular income

    New SALN form portion for Assets


While a study of revisions in the SALN form had been ordered in 2010, what spurred greater change was the Sandiganbayan dismissal of plunder raps against retired Armed Forces Comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Retired Maj Gen Carlos Garcia

In a telephone interview, CSC Director for Legal Services Ariel Ronquillo said the old SALN form did not require Garcia to list properties belonging to his spouse.

“That was the defect of the old form, pwede talagang mapaglaruan,” Ronquillo said. “You could not use it to detect graft and corruption or detect lifestyle anomalies.”

Now, with the portion on family expenses, it will be easier for probers to detect if a filer is lying about lifestyle.

“It will encourage everybody to be transparent about their assets and discourage corruption anomalies. This form can serve as evidence,” Ronquillo added.

The most important change, however, is the inclusion of tax payments in the SALN.

Ronquillo said it would make it easier to check for false declaration, whether for acquisition cost or income/profit from a business transaction.

The prosecution panel in the on-going impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renator Corona has asked Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to submit the income tax return of the country’s highest judge, his wife and children. The prosecution is trying to prove that Corona was not honest in his SALN declarations. It has accused the Chief Justice of withholding several properties from his SALN. Prosecution lawyers hope Henares could validate their claims.

New SALN form: income, expenses and taxes


“We did not reinvent the wheel,” Ronquillo stressed. He pointed out that Republic Act 3019, or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act of 1960, already mandated the inclusion of all incomes and expenses and taxes in the SALNs of government.

RA 3019 provision on SALN

The CSC studied RA 3019 and RA 6713, which amended it.

Ronquillo said conventional wisdom presumed RA 6713 revised the requirements of the SALN.

“Our study shows there was no revision. The new law never repealed this section. What we did was to harmonize the two laws.”

The CSC had earlier drafted a baseline form, a one-time document, and an annual declaration, but eventually scrapped these. The new form, Ronquillo said, is more “filer-friendly.”

One concern is the disclosure of taxes, which could give officials some security nightmares.

But Ronquillo said, “I do not know why you should hide or conceal the amount of taxes you pay. Why not be transparent and accurate? It’s best for the country.”

Will scalawags in government be afraid of the new SALN? Maybe not, if they’ve enjoyed impunity for decades. But it could make the job of catching them easier.

This is the new SALN form. http://excell.csc.gov.ph/FORMS/revised_SALNform.pdf Here is the old form. http://www.customs.gov.ph/references/CMC%2047-2011.pdf