Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ombudsman Morales vs. Enrile’s Mendoza

My barber, who jokingly calls me a “Legal Tiger”, asked for my take on the ensuing legal battle between Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Senator Enrile’s defense counsel Estelito Mendoza regarding the Pork Barrel Scam case.


1.             Probable Cause by Executive or Prosecutorial Determination to file Criminal Information;
2.             Probable Cause by Judicial Determination to issue Warrant of Arrest; and
3.             Judicial Determination to grant bail due to weakness of evidence proving guilt.
On No. 1 – Executive or Prosecutorial Determination

Philippine Jurisprudence is well settled in defining Probable Cause as “such reasons, supported by facts and circumstances as will warrant a cautious man in the belief that his action and the means taken in prosecuting it are legally just and proper.”

After conducting a preliminary investigation, and cautiously as well as prudentially considering all the facts and circumstances, the Ombudsman filed a Criminal Information indicting Senator Enrile, among others, with PLUNDER.  In short, Ombudsman Morales found that the facts are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that Enrile is probably guilty thereof.

Estelito Mendoza, who was a Justice Secretary when Marcos was a dictator and when Enrile was Marcos’ Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator, could not counter this one.

On No 2 – Judicial Determination of Probable Cause

Philippine Jurisprudence also points to the view that Courts of Law such as the Sandiganbayan are precluded from disturbing the findings of public prosecutors such as the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the existence or nonexistence of probable cause for filing criminal information, unless such findings are tainted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

The Ombudsman, in the performance of her duties, carefully studied and reviewed the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the DOJ, the sworn statements of the witnesses including whistleblowers who had personal and direct knowledge of the surrounding facts and scheme, the supporting documents, electronic records, business records, and other supporting evidence, prior to coming up with her own findings and conclusion.

The Ombudsman’s move is definitely NOT tainted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.  I do not see how the Sandiganbayan could stop the issuance of the Warrant of Arrest accordingly.

I suspect that Enrile and Mendoza expect the issuance of the warrant. That is why they are focusing on being able to obtain bail.

On No. 3 – Judicial Determination to Grant Bail

One of the country’s best legal minds, Estelito Mendoza chose a better battlefield – the right to obtain bail questioning the assertion that evidence of guilt is strong.  The basis is Article III, section 13 of the 1987 Constitution which provides:

“All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law.”

In Mendoza’s view, “Enrile’s role is merely to recommend the projects to be funded under the PDAF appropriation. It is the Executive Department, through various implementing agencies, together with their partner-organizations, that should be held accountable for the PDAF’s use, and the implementation of projects funded by the PDAF, including the liquidation of the PDAF used for the projects,”

“The evidence shows that Enrile was not entrusted with any PDAF allocation, nor tasked to handle the PDAF, or to participate in the implementation of any government project funded by it,” he added.
The paper trail supported by documentary evidence, those who were direct participants and witnesses to the scheme including the whistleblowers, and other findings contradict Mendoza’s view.
The Supreme Court itself took cognizance of the lawmakers’ role in the Pork Barrel process in its decision declaring its unconstitutionality. It said,
In view of the constitutional violations discussed in this Decision, the Court hereby declares as UNCONSTITUTIONAL: (a) the entire 2013 PDAF Article; (b) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorized legislators—whether individually or collectively organized into committees---to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight; (c) all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which conferred personal, lump-sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine; (d) all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
There was never any doubt about the significant role of legislators like Senator Enrile in the Pork Barrel Scheme. It could not have happened without their knowledge and consent. In fact, it occurred several times in so many years!
Legal Eagle Mendoza also claims that the evidence presented by the prosecution is Hearsay – hence inadmissible referring to Ben Luy’s business ledger and computer files. He “stressed that a prime facie case rests on the prosecution's presenting evidence that will withstand the test of admissibility.”
Section 43, Rule 130 – Exceptions to Hearsay Rule, Revised Rules on Evidence, Rules of Court; Section 1, Rule 8 – Business Records as Exception to the Hearsay Rule, Rules on Electronic Evidence; and Section 1, Rule 9 – Method of Proof, may enlighten us.
Rule 130 – Section 43. Entries in the course of business. — Entries made at, or near the time of transactions to which they refer, by a person deceased, or unable to testify, who was in a position to know the facts therein stated, may be received as prima facie evidence, if such person made the entries in his professional capacity or in the performance of duty and in the ordinary or regular course of business or duty.

Rule 8 – Section 1. Inapplicability of the hearsay rule. A memorandum, report, record or data compilation of acts, events, conditions, opinions, or diagnoses, made by electronic, optical or å person with knowledge thereof, and kept in the regular course or conduct of a business activity, and such was the regular practice to make the memorandum, report, record, or data compilation by electronic, optical or similar means, all of which are shown by the testimony of the custodian or other qualified witnesses, is excepted from the rule or hearsay evidence. 

Rule 9 – Section 1. Affidavit of evidence. – All matters relating to the admissibility and evidentiary weight of an electronic document may be established by an affidavit stating facts of direct personal knowledge of the affiant or based on authentic records. The affidavit must affirmatively show the competence of the affiant to testify on the matters contained therein. 

The business records, ledger, accounting books, entries, and computer/electronic files administered, maintained, and stored in the regular course of business by Ben Luy and others in their capacity as Finance Officer and employees are admissible according to the above-mentioned rules.  In fact, they “may be received as prima facie evidence.”

The criminal information filed against Senator Enrile cited “the sworn statements of Luy and his co-whistleblowers Marina Sula and Merlina Suñas who detailed the sequence of events, the 2007 – 2009 Commission on Audit (COA) Report documenting the results of the special audit undertaken on PDAF disbursements, and the reports on the field verification which secured sworn statements of local government officials and the purported beneficiaries which turned out to be non-existent, which pieces of evidence remained uncontroverted by mere denials or dovetailed with the affidavits of some respondents.”
Relevance, Personal Knowledge, and Not Subject to Rule of Exclusion – the Ombudsman’s evidence certainly complies with., adheres to, and definitely can withstand the “test of admissibility”.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ANTI-CORRUPTION: The Right OS (Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan)

An effective, efficient, just, and speedy administration of justice is one of the most important elements of a free and democratic society.

When the operating system (OS) of the judicial processes becomes ineffective because of inefficiency and slow delivery, it would inevitably result in injustice.

“Public office is a public trust.”  When public officials entrusted with public funds abuse, misuse and/or misappropriate such funds for personal use, it is a betrayal of that public trust.  The term for such betrayal is graft and corruption.  Justice demands that these corrupt public officials be prosecuted, tried, and jailed when found guilty.

Under the law, the responsibility of prosecuting the corrupt public officials and their co-conspirators lies with the Office of the Ombudsman.  The Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other agencies that it may require or request to assist render support.

Sandiganbayan is the court that is designated by law to try, issue warrants, and to decide all cases pertaining to public officials charged with graft and corruption.

At this moment of our history, I cannot imagine any other government agencies that could play more significant roles in shaping the future destiny of our country than the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.

Studies show that 30% of the National Government Budget is lost to graft and corruption.  This assumes that corrupt public officials and their co-conspirators would probably pocket P680 billion of the P2.265 trillion budgeted for 2014. Unless the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan are really empowered to fulfill their responsibilities as mandated by law.

Commensurate with the legal authority and responsibility should be the corresponding RESOURCES to fully exercise them with efficiency. 


Sandiganbayan has a total budget of P393, 410,000.   The Corruption Deterrence Program of the Ombudsman’s budget is P528, 750,000.  Yet, the goal and resulting effect of their decisions and efficient program implementation is to prevent or substantially minimize the daylight robbery of about P680 billion of government/people’s money.

Obviously, funding the OS (Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan) is no longer just budgeting a bureaucratic expenditure.  It could actually be considered an “investment” generating a very high ROI (Return on Investment).  So any additional funding for both institutions is worth every dime.

Just recovering the loot of the Senators accused of Plunder (P1.140 billion) alone is more than the combined budget of OS in Corruption Deterrence.  Add those of the others like Napoles, lawmakers, executive officials and other co-conspirators and compute.  And this is just for the scams led by Napoles.  There are definitely other scammers outside of her. 

What about Malampaya, public works, agriculture, and many others that I am sure would be discovered?


The Ombudsman defined the Roadmap to have a successful mission, namely: Disposition of High-Profile Cases, Zero Backlog, Improved “Survival” Rate of Fact-Finding, Enforced Monitoring of Referred Cases, Improved Responsiveness of Public Assistance, Improved Anti-Corruption Policy and Program Coordination Among Sectors, Rationalization of the Functional Structure of the Office, and Enhance Transparency and Credibility.

To plan, organize, lead, and control the Roadmap more efficiently and effectively, the Ombudsman must have sufficient human resources to work with her.  The recruitment, hiring, training, maintaining, motivating, inspiring and managing more competent, skillful, honest, honorable, hopeful, humble prosecutors and field investigators would go a long way.  Even the recruitment of volunteers (legal, accounting, technology, research, etc.) should be undertaken with vigor and enthusiasm. 

The Sandiganbayan under current conditions resolves a case from start to finish in about 8-9 years.  That’s a no-no in a democracy!  It is definitely not a deterrent to corruption. It has been used as a recruitment tool for the CPP-NPA (Communists) over the years because of their ability to dispense swift justice. 

It is a question of time!  So the increase of efficient manpower should shorten the time.

There used to be 9 Justices or 3 Divisions at the Sandiganbayan. It was later increased to 15 composing 5 Divisions. There is a suggestion to increase it again – probably to 21 or 7 Divisions.

Savings in time is generated not just quantitatively but also qualitatively as well as system improvement.  The hiring of highly motivated, competent and honest Justices is a must.  Senate President Frank Drilon, a former Secretary of Justice, had proposed some system changes.  He thinks “every case should be raffled to a justice in Charge who will receive and hear evidence for a division, and report developments in a case to the two other members. After the case has been submitted for decision, the justice in charge will submit a report on the case to the division. In consultation, the three justices will agree on the conclusion and assign a member to write the decision.”

He is also proposing the transfer of “minor cases” to the regional trial courts to free up Sandiganbayan.  Apparently about 60% of the cases pending before the Sandiganbayan are minor cases.


“Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap.”  This is not just a political slogan to win votes.  This is not just a social equalizer to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  It is also an economic vision that could spur economic growth, generate employment, expand education, alleviate poverty, promote equity expansion and entrepreneurship, provide health care and most importantly, promote economic stability.

Anything lost to corruption is socio-political and economic opportunity lost for the current and next generation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Claudia Denton Rockwood’s Response and Final Farewell

I’d like to talk about a natural source of energy I call “Mom.”  Either you’ve seen it for yourselves or you heard a little about it last night at the viewing from some of her closest friends.  Some examples include those who witnessed her energy from back in Rosales while in school.  You remember her to be hard at work to become class salutatorian.   Friends here from her college days know her as very driven, but knew a fun social side in the days when she was a young woman. Her colleagues among us here remember her energy exercised as a passionate discipline to her profession as a CPA.  Throughout her whole life, it was her brothers and sisters who knew her to have big dreams…and recognized this as a sort of “Maynigo” discipline.  My Uncle Ben called her dreams “Structured dreams” in his recent article in the Asian Journal.  My mom used her energy to help others chase their dreams, especially for those of you in the community who had a cause to fight for, like for example a Free Philippines.  She’d also never just helped a little bit, with each of her efforts meaning she’d give you her all.  For our extended family, those of us who decided to have a wedding knew to expect my mom’s energy and effort to create something extravagant.  

This woman we honor today would personally take it upon herself to produce some of the biggest flower displays, the most decadent wedding cakes, and would fly all the way to the Philippines to custom design a wedding “Give Away” only fit for a royal.  If you weren’t subject to a “Mila-fied” wedding, perhaps you saw more of my mom’s energy while just being an accountant or Filipino in San Diego.  She’d pull you into work and non-work activities, and suddenly you were affirmed of this new elite status…a status which pretty much parallels that to the “cool kids” table in school.  She was very proud of her profession as a CPA.

While this may have been boundless energy for everyone else, what her driven energy meant for my brother and me was having a mom who was a hard ass.  Of course, this was to push us to do our best.  She was still very proud of what Eugene and I have done, even if neither of us went to medical or law school.

In my mom’s final days living with us, she enjoyed an incredible 30-day cruise with Art traveling around the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia.   After returning to dry land, she went back to work - making plans with her friends and family.  She enjoyed celebrating a belated mother’s day with Eugene, started making plans to travel back to Rosales for her 50 year high school reunion, and also planning to take another cruise in the future with her brother, Ben and sister, Nelly around Asia.  She also didn’t stay put after her recent cruise, and came out to see me and my husband in Albuquerque.  With it being Memorial Day weekend, we took advantage of the time off and brought her up to Colorado to visit with Greg’s family in Ft. Collins, right outside of Denver.  

The night before leaving for Colorado, I joked and asked my mom if she wanted to try some legalized marijuana. She gave me her noteworthy smile, and didn’t say anything.  She didn’t need to say or do anything, really.  Now, some of you are familiar with my mom’s struggles in maintaining her own properties and business ventures.  She seemed to be always searching for trust-worthy builders.  She learned hard lessons while losing a lot of money due to failed promises, and even felt betrayed by those whom she contracted with.  

Her trip with us was progressing amazingly, and my mom seemed to be on a natural high.  So no, we did not experiment on the legalized marijuana in Colorado.  Of course the 30-day cruise may have helped, but on this trip my mom saw for herself what a talented family I married into, and felt comfort in what lay ahead for the family Greg and I were growing.  My in-laws live on 35 acres and have built a house on it from the ground up by themselves.  Greg’s parents are also professional contractors who help design, build, and renovate homes. 

Seeing this beautiful site with the Colorado Mountains in the background was one part.  But being surrounded by the love of Greg’s family was the true highlight of the trip.  She was getting to see who she was going to be grandparents with.  The morning before her collapse, she was walking around floating on Cloud Nine – the happiest I’ve ever seen her.  She was living and breathing such a promising future for our entire family, including the grandchild she’d been patiently waiting for. 

I believe my mother’s illness may have been pending, and God allowed her enough time on earth with us for one more exotic trip with Art, to make exciting plans with her friends and siblings, to celebrate being a mother to her son she was extremely proud of, to have comfort her properties are in good hands, and to see such a loving, promising future for her granddaughter, who already has the name of Perla, which with her energy, she already loved calling “Perlita.” 

I must add there is a follow-on reception in the next hall after our service.  I know it may not be the caliber of what a “Mila” reception usually is, but looking at the caliber of friends and family here with us today, it most certainly will be.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Tribute to Mila Maynigo Denton Goldberg

 by Judy Miguel Yoro

As a little girl growing up, there was no doubt Mila showed signs of self-assurance.

As a young girl and a young lady, she demonstrated traits of a leader. She led her classmates and girl scouts teammates in Provincial Meets and numerous competitions.

A lady of intelligence, she excelled in school and graduated Salutatorian both in elementary and high school and earned an MBA degree.

A lady with dreams, with action, with detailed layout of goals, it is no wonder why Mila accomplished so much, why she achieved fame and why she prospered financially.

A lady of generosity, it is no denying that she shared her blessings with individuals, groups, organizations and political affinity, which she unwaveringly supported.

Focused and committed, she was among pioneers and promoters, assisting Filipino accountants to be employed and established in San Diego County.

On the lighter side, she was a lady full of surprises, humor, fun, creativity, and talent.  I remember a week before she remarried, she called me and said, “cousin, I’m getting married this weekend...I need you here...I need your help...I already booked you on the train for Thursday.”  At least she was considerate enough not to steal me from my work for that entire week!  That Thursday afternoon, she was waiting for me at the train station with her signature hat on, dark shades and floor-length mumu dress. Can you picture her with those? The minute we arrived at their condo, she and I put our working gears on, fused our minds and talents together, and can I say more? We whipped everything up with speed, from floral arrangement to table setting to entertainment and later proudly claimed success by turning their San Diego downtown condo into a heavenly and intimate wedding venue.
Mila's Most Precious Gift
A very persistent lady (“makulit” to me anyway), she tried so hard to match me with a number of men.  She just couldn’t wait for me to have a boyfriend to marry. The fourth time, she finally succeeded. I got married two and a half months AFTER she introduced me to this man whom we both knew nothing about, a cousin of her comadre.  When I broke the news to her over the phone she screamed with joy; she must have been the happiest human being on this planet that day. You see, Mila’s list of vocabulary words did not include words such as “defeat, loser, or failure”. I must admit that my marriage was one among her huge accomplishments.  All I could do was to concede and say, “okay you scored again”.  Thirty years later, this year, my husband and I are still together and I might just hang on to him forever, for he is my most precious gift from my cousin Mila.

Full of energy, life, adventure, we dared in our mid-twenties, to drive to Las Vegas in the winter time just to see Frank Sinatra perform at the Flamingo Casino/Hotel, one of the only couple of existing hotels then.  With no available room, we were forced to spend the night crunched in her car, in the hotel’s parking lot with neither a blanket nor pillow to comfort and protect us from the freezing temperature. Getting out from the car that morning was another challenge when we discovered the snow around us was over a foot high.


Relatives and friends, in the year 1948, two loving sisters, my late mom Trinidad and Mila’s mom Flaviana (one short, the other, tall respectively) gave birth to two cute little babies, Judy and Mila.  Surprisingly like their moms, one is also short, the other, tall and as they matured, they even resembled each other that at a glance, some people mistook them as real sisters.  Born 5 months apart, these babies grew up like sisters, played together, laughed together, cried together, fought each other, at each other’s throat and nerves, disagreed, made up, hugged and kissed, consoled each other.

Though in later years, they lived hundreds of miles apart, they stay connected, and lived different lifestyles. Judy kept a low profile, Mila was the celebrity of the clan.  But they kept tapping each other and maintained this cord, so flexible, that whenever they needed each other, all they do was tug and they would be there for each other’s rescue.

Cousin, losing you causes me so much hurt and pain, but I am consoled that you leave me with many memories that I will treasure forever.  Now I ask that you keep your end of the cord, would up so tight around you, that I, your cousin Judy, can easily tug it whenever I need you.  You have left us with so many legacies, more than already mentioned, but the best is your unconditional love for Art, Eugene and Claudia.  

We all love you and we all miss you!