Wanted: sanctuary for Gadian

gadian The Supreme Court yesterday granted the petition of the sister of Navy Lt. Nancy Gadian for a writ of amparo. What now?

Upon receipt of the order, Harry Roque, counsel for Nedia Diamante, sister of Lt. Gadian who filed the petition last Tuesday before the Supreme Court, informed the High Court that he has advised Gadian to seek temporary sanctuary at the Supreme Court in the absence of an accredited sanctuary.” (Download urgent-motion-for-sanctuary)

“She should find her way to the Supreme Court, introduce herself and seek sanctuary there,” Roque said.

In a statement, the Philippine Navy said with the Supreme Court order, “we hope Lt. Gadian will finally face the Investigation Committee formed by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense to substantiate her serious allegation of corruption of Balikatan ‘07 fund that has dragged the AFP into a controversy.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Defense Department are now doing everything to prevent this Gadian case from escalating into another NBN/ZTE level of scandal. They have reasons to worry about with protests rallies being planned on and before May 27, the 10th anniversary of the ratification of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, which outlines the status of American soldiers in the Philippines during Balikatan exercises, the disbursement of the funds of which is the root of the case against Gadian.

At the confirmation of the new AFP Chief of Staff Victor Ibrado last Wednesday, a number of questions asked of him were on the Gadian case.

One lesson the military authorities can learn from this case this early is, never ignore a complaint regardless of how junior in rank the complainant is.

Diamante said as early as 2007, when Gadian was being investigated she wrote to then AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon seeking help for her sister.

Part of Diamante’s letter to Esperon read, “I am writing to you about the problem of my younger sister… because we all know in the family that the matter should be brought t your attention being the head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We resorted into writing you a letter Sir, because we feel that you are the only one who could help her and the family as well.”

Diamante also told Esperon, “If not for the advice of the people who have known my sister for quite sometime, she could have resorted into other things that will put the entire AFP organization in a bad light… We know for sure that my sister knows a lot of things in the AFP and she might come out into the open.”

Diamante said she never got a reply from Esperon. Last May 11, she went to the office of Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and delivered a five-page letter of her sister.

In that letter Gadian refuted the charges against her. Part of her letter said, “ Over the years, Balikatan Exercises have been conducted in the Philippines and over the years millions of money have been spent for nothing. And who benefitted the most? The high-ranking officials of the AFP. Only a centavo went to the operating troops on the ground, but worst scenario is that nothing went to them and only a meager amount went to support the projects.

“For 2007 alone, the CMO Events have only a total of P2.3 released to support the entire CMO activities in Mindanao. These funds went as far as the foot soldiers on the ground because I have personally seen their sufferings and it is but proper that they will receive what is supposed to be entitled to them.

“During my term as the OIC of the CMO Fusion Cell, I made sure that everything will be placed in order. But it really so hurting that after what I have done, I find myself as the one being charged because of some flaws in the system….”

Upon instruction of the office of Archbishop Lagdameo, Diamante met with Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo yesterday. I don’t know yet if they talked about sanctuary for Nancy.

Atty. Roque said the main objective of their seeking protection for Gadian from the High Court is to enable her to make public whatever the public wants to know about the funds of Balikatan exercises. So far, two weeks after this issue was brought out in media, we have seen no documents or details about the allegations of misuse of Balikatan funds. The AFP, in fact, has said that the whole P46 million is accounted for including the P2.7 alleged to have been misused by Gadian.

The Supreme Court order, hopefully, would lead us to the truth about this issue.

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SC grants Gadian writ of amparo

Breaking News:

Philippine Navy welcomes SC grant of privilege of writ to Gadian; hopes she will face investigation.

The Supreme Court granted today the writ of amparo for Lt. Nancy Gadian, the navy officer who has been declared AWOL by the Philippine Navy. (Download writ-of-amparo)

The Supreme Court also directed the Court of Appeals to hear the petition on March 28, 2009 at 10 a.m. and decide it within 10 days.

The petition was filed last Tuesday by Nedina Gadian Diamante, sister of Lt. Gadian with the assistance of CenterLaw Philippines. (Download petition)

CenterLaw’s Harry Roque said, “This is unpredented that a military officer is granted relief by the Supreme Court.”

Upon receipt of the High Court’s order, Roque, counsel for Diamante, filed a motion manifestation for Gadian to seek temporary sanctuary with the Supreme Court in the absence of accredited sanctuary.

The Philippine Navy said they will abide by the grant by the Supreme Court to Lt. Gadian of the privilege of the writ. “The Navy leadership itself has long been offering her assurance of her ‘life, liberty, and security’made subject of the petition,” the Navy said in a statement.

“With this, we hope Lt. Gadian will finally face the Investigation Committee formed by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense to substantiate her serious allegation of corruption of Balikatan ‘07 fund that has dragged the AFP into a controversy,” the Navy said.

Following is the statement of CenterLaw:

“The Supreme Court, under the authority of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, issued yesterday an unprecedented Writ of Amparo directing top officials of the armed forces to desist from issuing or carrying out any threat to the life, liberty and security of whistleblower Lt. Senior Grade Mary Nancy P. Gadian.

“This is the first time that the Supreme Court provided protection under the Writ of Amparo to an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“As this developed, lawyer Harry Roque, counsel for Gadian’s sister, Nenida Diamante, who filed a Petition for the issuance of Writ of Amparo on behalf of the junior Navy officer, said Lt. SG Mary Nancy Gadian’s life is more important than all the benefits that she could lose if she were to be dropped from the rolls of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Roque was reacting to a 48-hour ultimatum given by Philippine Navy authorities to Lt. SG. Gadian to surrender or risk being dropped from the rolls of the AFP.

“It is indeed a waste for a be-medaled officer to end her career in this manner. It must be understood though that Lt. Gadian has already determined that her life is more important than her title and her career in the military. I concur with Gadian that this is the correct decision,” said Roque.

Gadian went into hiding after declaring in a radio interview that high-ranking AFP officers were involved in corrupt practices as a result of the 2007 BALIKATAN exercises.

“In a two-page order, the Supreme Court directed AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado, Navy Flag-Officer-in-Command, Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez, Western Mindanao Command Chief of Staff, Col. Joel Ibañez , Management and Financial Officer, Lt. Col. Antonio Dacanay and Retired Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo to make a return of the writ on or before May 28, 2009.

“The High Court also directed the Court of Appeals to hear the petition on the same day and decide the case within ten (10) days after its submission for decision.

“The order, signed by the Ma. Luisa D. Villarama, Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court, was issued under the authority of Chief Justice Puno.

“There is a higher interest than the exigency of military service for Lt. Gadian to tell the truth behind her allegations of corruption. If proven, it will provide proof that the only viable policy justification for the Visiting Forces Agreement, the financial assistance that the Philippines would receive , is more illusory than real, “said lawyer Romel Bagares, Excutive Director of the Center for International Law (CENTERLAW) that provided legal service for the filing of the Amparo petition. . “It will prove that the VFA only benefits the corrupt Generals who have been helping to perpetuate Mrs. Arroyo in power.”

“The BALIKATAN exercises are being conducted pursuant to the visiting Forces Agreement. While the Arroyo justification maintains that the VFA is anchored on the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the US and the Philippines.

“Critics, including Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, have argued that the MDT is already a legal anachronism since the use of force has already been made illegal under international law. Salonga is lead Petitioner in a petition that seeks to declare the VFA unconstitutional.

“Meanwhile, Mr. Felipe Pestano, father of the deceased Navy Ensign Phillip Andrew Pestano, also advised Lt. Gadian to continue to stand up for the truth: “continue what you are doing in exposing the truth. We who have lost our loved ones stand solidly behind you.” The Senate had previously issued a report that Philip Pestano, also a whistleblower on corruption in the Navy, was murdered although this has been denied by authorities in the Philippine Navy.”

Wait, there’s more!: Buy her a gift this Valentines! or send her flowers!

The ‘puzzle’ that is Philippine education: Still in crisis after all these years

by Jennifer Santiago
VERA Files

High dropout rates. Low pupil performance. Poor teacher quality. Inappropriate language of learning. Irrelevant textbooks. Excessive centralization. Inadequate financial resources.

This is how Yale University professor George Counts described the Philippine educational system in 1925, when he did a study on the performance of the country’s school system.

More than eight decades since Counts’ study, the educational system has barely improved and is facing the very same, if not even more, problems of access, equity, quality, and relevance

Click here (VERA Files) to read the complete article and other stories on the Philippine Human Development report.

Order of battle

Nagsampa noong Martes ng petition para sa Writ of Amparo para kay Navy Lt. Nancy Gadian ang kanyang kapatid na si Nedina Diamante. Tinutulungan siya ng Law Center Philippines nina Atty. Harry Roque.

Sabi ni Atty. Roque, kinaka-ilangan ito dahil sinabi ni Nedina nag text sa kanya si Nancy noong Sabado at sinabing may nagsabi raw sa kanya na may ”shoot-to-kill” order para sa kanya. Pinabula-anan ito ng spokesman ng AFP na si Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr.

Sinabi ni Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo na binibigyan nila ng assurance si Gadian na ligtas siya at gagalangin ang kanyang karapatang pantao.

Kapag nabigyan ng Supreme Court, ang writ of amparo ay magbibigay ng kaagarang lunas o proteksyon sa humihingi nito. Sabi ni Roque, sa ngayon, hindi niya masasabi kung tama o mali si Gadian sa isyu ng kurakutan ng pondo sa Balikatan, ang military exercise ng Pilipinas at Amerika.

Ang mahalaga, sabi ni Roque, ay masigurado na ligtas si Gadian at siya ay payagang makapagpahayag ng katotohanan dahil ang isyu ng Balikatan dawit ang buong sambayanan.

* * *

Ang pamilya at mga kaibigan ni Caloy Conde, isang journalist, ang nababala na kasama siya sa Order of Battle ng military.

Ang Order of Battle ay listahan ng mga target na kailangan nilang lipulin.

Sinabi ng The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines na nakakuha sila ng PowerPoint presentation na ang pamagat ay “JCICC Agila, 3trd Qtr 2007 OB Validation Report,” na naka-classify na “Secret”. Mukhang gawa daw ito ng 10th ID na naka-base sa Southern Mindanao.

Luma itong listahan kasi 2007. Hindi natin alam kung may bago at kung nandoon pa rin ang pangalan ni Caloy ngunit ang isyu dito ay bakit nandun ang pangalan ni Caloy?

Kilala ko si Caloy dahil maliit lang naman ang industriya ng journalists dito sa Pilipinas. Sumusulat siya ngayon sa international na pahayagan katulad ng New York Times at International Herald Tribune. Meron din siyang Online publication- Pinoy Press. Sumusulat din siya sa mga lokal na pahayagan.

Si Caloy ay dating coordinator ng NUJP sa Davao at Southern Mindanao. Ang NUJP ay organisasyon ng mga journalists para mabigyan ng proteksyun ang miyembro ng propesyun at ang kalayaan sa pagsusulat.

Sa kanilang pahayag, sinabi ng NUJP na malaking katangahan ang Order of Battle at hiningi kay Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro na tanggalinsa serbisyo ang lahat na may kinalaman sa paggawa ng
iresponsableng Order of Battle.

Hindi ko alam kung sino pa ang nasa listahan ngunit sinabi ni Caloy at ng NUJP na ang isa doon, si Celso Pojas, ay pinatay na. At ang iba rin doon ay nakaranas ng pahirap.

Walang kabutihang magagawa ang mali-maling impormasyon hindi lamang kay Caloy at sa mga journlists kungdi na rin sa military at sa mamamayang Pilipino.

Wait, there’s more!: Buy her a gift this Valentines! or send her flowers!

Lessons from the past

ANC viewers watching the interview of Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo by Willard Cheng aired live on the lunchtime news “Dateline” Wednesday last week were puzzled why it was abruptly cut.

It was the part when Lorredo was warning about the return of martial law. Lorredo, by the way, is the judge that stirred public attention with his unusual May 4 order for the arraignment of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada on the perjury case filed by Mike Defensor, former presidential chief of staff.

I asked a friend close to Lorredo and she shared with me Lorredo’s ruminations about the topic that is being mentioned when talking about the direction of the Arroyo administration but is not quite taken seriously because people can’t seem to imagine the depth of her obsession to stay in power.

My friend said Lorredo mentioned martial law in relation to the case of Jun Lozada which was in danger of being pushed into martyrdom at the Manila City jail. If something bad happened to Lozada under the custody of the police, protests would be mounted by opposition groups.

“People power worked against Marcos. People power worked against Erap. This time, people power might be used as basis for martial rule. People power might be interpreted by Malacanang as invasion or rebellion under Sec. 18, Art. VII of the Philippine Constitution.”

Sec. 18, Art. VII of the Constitutions states that “The President shall be the commander-in-chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.

“In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under Martial Law…..”

My friend said Lorredo asked her to “ Please tell your friends to spread my message not to go to the streets and invade Malacanang or commit rebellion. Be calm, use the courts, use legal remedies against any abuse committed by Malacanang between now and May 2010. That is such a short period; it will come soon. What we want is for there to be elections; we do not want martial law.”

Aside from the Lozada case which is in Lorredo’s sala and will have its pre-trial hearing on May 28, my friend said the judge is worried that there are so many potent issues up which could spark trouble. “For example, if the scenario feared by Comelec Chairman Melo comes true; that is, no elections in May 2010, then according to Melo there will be ‘revolution.’ That is precisely my point, we should not fall for the bait to impose martial law. Tell the people not to revolt. If there is an injunction or restraining order preventing elections, the people should not revolt. The lawyers should move to quash the injunction or restraining order. Again, do not fall for the bait to implement martial law.”

I have no doubt that Gloria Arroyo will use all means to hold on to power. There is nothing in what she is doing that suggests she is planning to step down from the presidency she stole, in the words of Susan Roces, “not once but twice.”

In fact, many of her actions supports the suspicion that she is working on perpetuating herself in power like movements in the military that strain the institutions merit and seniority system but place in strategic positions people who are seen as blindly loyal to her.

At this time when many of the things that are happening do not make sense, it’s good to draw lessons from history.

Twenty-seven years ago, on May 19, 1972 Eduardo Quintero, a delegate from Leyte to the Constitutional Convention, revealed in a speech that he had received P11,150 inside 18 envelopes on 18 different occasions, from people he identified as Malacañang’s couriers. He said the money was to buy delegates to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary to allow President Ferdinand Marcos to extend his stay in power beyond 1973.

Four months later, on Sept. 21, 1972, Marcos declared martial law.

Arroyo, which has been in power since 2001, has only one year left of her stolen six-year term. Billions worth of pork barrel have made many congressmen prosperous in the past three years that impeachment complaints were filed against Arroyo.

The House of Representatives is now deliberating on amendments to the Constitution, one of which is a shift from presidential to parliamentary form of government.

The French have a word for it: déjà vu .

Wait, there’s more!: Buy her a gift this Valentines! or send her flowers!