Daily Archives: April 3, 2008

SC Issues Writ of Habeas Data for De Venecia

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — The Supreme Court has granted the petition filed by national broadband network (NBN) project whistleblower Joey de Venecia III seeking the issuance of the writ of habeas data to enjoin government agents from conducting wiretapping and surveillance activities over his personal communications.

In a two-page resolution issued in Baguio City, the Court has directed the respondents — Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Philippine National Pol ice Di rector Avel ino Razon, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, former Commission on Elect ions (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos — to make a verified return of the writ of habeas before the Court of Appeals, where the petitioner has been referred to for hearing.

The Court directed the CA to hear the petition on April 15 2008 at 1:30 pm and to decide on the petition in accordance with the rules on writ of habeas data.

“Now therefore, you respondents and all persons acting on your behalf or upon your instructions or orders, are hereby required to make a verified return of the writ of habeas data before the CA within five working days from service of the writ,” the resolution stated.

In his petition for writ of habeas data, De Venecia accused the military, through the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces, and the police of conducting surveillance operations on him and tapping his private phone conversations and those of other personalities involved in the controversial NBN-ZTE deal.

Likewise, De Venecia asked the SC to enjoin respondents to produce all materials, including recordings and transcriptions in their possession obtained through their wiretapping activities on petitioner’s private communications, and stop them from sending his wiretapped conversations over the YouTube, an online video and audio sharing forum.

De Venecia also asked that Abalos and Enrile be enjoined from making public any of his illegally taped phone conversations that would discredit his testimony relating to the NBN-ZTE deal presently under investigation by the Senate.

De Venecia filed the petition following the airing over YouTube of his alleged conversation with Abalos, ZTE starwitness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. and his former colleagues at the Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI), which also vied for the NBN project.

According to him,sometime last month, he got informat ion that a recording of a supposed wiretapped conversation between himself and Lozada was uploaded in the YouTube website.

The Rule on Habea s Data was promulgated on February 2, 2008 to serve as an independent remedy to enforce the r ight to informational privacy and the complementary “right to truth” as well as an additional remedy to protect the right to life, liberty, or security of a person.”


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DOJ to Go After Rice Hoarders

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) Tuesday created its own Anti-Rice Hoarding Task Force (ARHTF) to assist the National Food Authority (NFA) in going after rice hoarders and those engaged in overpricing and other related crimes.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez named Senior State Prosecutor Roberto A. Lao as chairman of the task force with Prosecuting Attorney Rhodora Salazar, State Prosecutors Nestor Lazara, Philip de la Cruz and Romeo Galvez as members.

In an interview, Gonzalez said the creation of the task force is in line with the need to speedily institute measures to stop and prevent rice hoarding and related crimes which can be considered acts of economic sabotage.

He said the task force will handle inquest proceedings, preliminary investigation and prosecution of all cases relating to unlawful acts or omissions inimical to the preservation and protection of the country’s rice supply under Section 29 of Presidential Decree No. 4 as amended, as well as the provision of other penal statutes and related laws.”

On the other hand, the justice secretary said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will render the appropriate resource and groundwork assistance to the ARHTF.

“The ARHTF is likewise hereby authorized to directly coordinate and seek the assistance of other law enforcement and administrative agencies for purposes of facilitating the investigation, resolution, and prosecution of the such cases,” the memorandum stated.

In connection with this, Gonzalez has already directed the task force to verify reports that the NFA in Central Visayas has suspended the rice allocation of 21 accredited retailers in Cebu province found to have committed violations in the distribution and sale of government rice, such as overpricing, unreasonable depletion of stocks, non-display and refusal to sell stocks to consumers.

The DOJ chief also asked the ARHTF to summon personalities involved in the raid on the Inter-City Industrial Estate at Bocaue, Bulacan which houses some 115 warehouses, each containing 25,000 to 40,000 sacks of rice.

The area purportedly supplies 65 percent of the country’s rice demand.

“In this connection, you are hereby directed to look into and summon all the personalities mentioned in the said news article and, if warranted, conduct proper preliminary investigation proceedings thereon preparatory to the filing of the appropriate information in court, subject to existing rules on criminal procedure,” the justice secretary said.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez brushed off claims made by leftist groups claiming that the government is the one hoarding the country’s rice supply.

”Why would the government hoard when we are buying 1.5 million tons of rice from Vietnam and negotiating with Thailand to buy more?” Gonzalez added.

He also said that to insure that rice supplies would come to their target clients without delay, Gonzalez said that the Army through the orders of the Department of National Defense (DND) has already agreed to loan the NFA some 200 trucks to assist and facilitate delivery.


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Better Legislation on Domestic Violence Crimes Pushed

By Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO — After a San Francisco Superior Court judge reduced the first-degree murder conviction of a Filipino convicted of stabbing his wife to death in 2004, the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN), along with The Vagina Monologues playwright and author Eve Ensler and other women’s groups supporting the fight against domestic violence, launched a campaign to ask State legislators to close the “special circumstances”loophole responsible for the reduction.

At a news conference last March 26, FWN president Marilyn Mondejar stressed the question, “Why is a domestic violence crime not as important?” Mondejar further explained that the present law states that a man who kills his wife will receive a lesser sentence, compared to a person who commits murder during a rape or robbery.

“Why should a domestic violence case be treated as less important under the law? We need to change the law to send batterers away for a long time so that women in abusive relationship feel safe about coming forward,” said Mondejar in a statement released to the media.

Being accountable and educated

Eve Ensler, author and playwright of The Vagina Monologues and founder of V-Day (the global movement to end violence against women and girls), expressed her concern about the issue. She said the two factors  are needed to change the way women are treated. “It’s all about accountability and education,” Ensler said. “If there are no laws, they’ll do whatever they want to do.”

With this statement, Ensler explained how the law and being accountable for one’s actions can change the global pattern on destroying women. She also reached out to the men to be part of cause. “This is not just a woman’s issue, this is a human’s issue,” she said. “Change will come when men understand that this is also their issue.”

More men have come out to be part of the fight against domestic violence. For one, the FWN’s staging of The Vagina Monologues (Usapang Puki in Tagalog) also includes performances of men who have joined in the cause in A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, scheduled on April 4 and 5.

Taking action

Beverly Upton, Executive Director of San Francisco Domestic violence Consortium and Partners Ending Domestic Abuse expressed her disappointment about the reduced conviction and believes that there should be major steps in enhancing the legislation on domestic violence.

On March 14, Judge Jerome Benson reduced the first-degree murder conviction of William Corpuz, 34, to 16 years to life for the stabbing of his wife, 34-year-old Marisa last Sept. 24, 2004, based on lack of deliberation before the murder. Corpuz had already been on probation for a 2003 domestic assault on his wife at the time of the murder, according to the San Francisco DA Office. On May 11, 2007, a jury found Corpuz guilty of firstdegree murder, which should have brought a maximum sentence of 26 years to life. Judge Benson explained his decision stating that he had no choice but to reduce Corpuz’s because he was constrained by limitations in California laws on homicide to rule as he did.

FWN, along with other women’s and domestic violence groups are now geared to working with California State legislators to push on changing the law. According to Family Violence Prevention Fund, there is an estimated 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend each year in the US. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.

“We must raise the awareness about this issue,” said Mondejar and added, “It is time to discuss this.”


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