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TROs for sale

/ 06:41 AM April 13, 2015

Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron will have to go through the wringer of a recall election on May 8, but Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado is off the hook—partly. This was announced at a press forum last Saturday  by Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez.

Jimenez said the Comelec had finally set the recall election in Puerto Princesa for May 8, the last day that recall elections can be held this year. The law prohibits the holding of recall elections less than a year before a regular election.

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In the Bulacan case, however, the signatures were insufficient, the Comelec said. Alvarado is not completely off the hook, though. Bulacan Rep. Joselito Andrew Mendoza, the petitioner for the recall election, is demanding an explanation from the provincial government as to why it purchased last year medicines and construction materials worth P1.7 billion without public bidding.

The Commission on on Audit (COA) has found “red flags” or suspects irregularities in the deal. The Bulacan provincial government had split the contracts to favor selected contractors and avoid a public bidding, it said.

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“Government purchases amounting to P500,000 or more should be offered to registered suppliers through a competitive public bidding,” said Mendoza, a former governor of Bulacan. Alvarado should explain the “red flags” that the COA found in connection with the purchase. “Our constituents are always asking us (Bulacan government officials) where these medicines and construction materials are…. So a clear explanation is needed from the provincial government,” Mendoza said.

Last January, Councilor Jocylina Casimiro of Norzagaray, Bulacan, accused Alvarado and 21 other provincial officials and private individuals of violating Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and RA 9184 (Government Procurement Act) in the allegedly illegal purchases. Casimiro cited the COA report on the transactions as the basis of her complaint.

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The judiciary and the legal profession are again being criticized not only for the notoriously slow administration of justice but  also for alleged corruption and unethical practices. Recently, no less than the Court of Appeals has been accused of bribery after it issued a writ of injunction against the order of the Ombudsman suspending for six months Makati Mayor Junjun Binay. There are also accusations that TROs (temporary restraining orders) are “for sale” in the judiciary. Indeed, with judges issuing TROs  left and right, that is the impression on the public mind.

Today, Sen. Antonio Trillanes will file a resolution in the Senate urging an investigation into the Court of Appeals’ issuances of a TRO and writ of injunction against the Ombudsman’s order suspending Mayor  Binay. Trillanes said he will produce the  alleged emissary who delivered the money in the deal.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, after the issuance of the list of recent bar passers, was quoted as saying that she wanted law schools to review their admission requirements for law students and their respective curricula to define the kind of Filipino lawyer the legal profession must produce. She is particularly concerned about the low passing rate in the bar examinations.

This is a good time for the schools to  address the Chief Justice’s concerns because of the kind of lawyers being produced.

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It is the talk in legal circles how today’s new lawyers go to great lengths just to serve their clients, even going the illegal and unethical routes. An example is the legal battle between a reputable businessman and an undercapitalized service provider over the control of a major infrastructure facility.

In that case, the young lawyers allegedly faked documents just to support their client’s claim to the facility. For this, they reportedly hired a waiter to be the firm’s corporate secretary and paid him to sign the fake documents. Of course the scheme was discovered just in time when their fake corporate secretary spilled the beans.

When they could not get a favorable decision from a Manila court, they filed another case in another, friendlier court. The friendly judge ruled in favor of the service provider, virtually giving the ownership of the multibillion-peso facility to the undercapitalized company. But the judge does not even have jurisdiction over the case since the disputed facility is located in Manila, while his court is located east of Metro Manila.

Take note that the real owner of the facility built it, developed and nurtured it over the years with blood, sweat and tears; and the facility has been dubbed as among the most successful enterprises in the country today.

The Court of Appeals has issued a writ of injunction against the judge and his questionable order. Rumors say that the lawyers then dangled a P25-million bribe for the magistrates to decide in their favor, but it was politely turned down. The Court of  Appeals stopped them from taking over the facility.

The lawyers then asked for the justices’ inhibition from the case but were also turned down. They then engaged in character assassination to put the magistrates in a bad light. They allegedly engaged the services of PR practitioners to besmirch the reputation of the justices to pressure them into deciding in the service provider’s favor.

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TAGS: Bulacan, Comelec, judiciary, Legal Profession, Puerto Princesa, Recall Election, Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado
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