Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Comment to Payling's charges

In his article, Payling throws a very pointed question: “Did the mayor cheat during the latest elections?
Payling says this question remains unanswered, and “only time will tell”
Payling says he thinks the mayor did not cheat.
I also have a similar thinking.
I think---and I am one hundred percent sure---the mayor did not directly cheat in the last elections.
I think---and I am one hundred percent sure---the mayor did not personally buy votes in the last elections.
I have never seen the mayor directly do such dastardly acts.
But the astute politician that he is, Payling knows more and knows better.
Payling says that while he thinks the mayor did not cheat, he says he cannot say the same with respect to some of the mayor’s “minions”.
Who are these mayor’s “minions?
Unfortunately, and quite expectedly, Payling does not say.
Was the mayor aware what his "minions" were doing during the elecitions?
I'd like to get an honest answer from the mayor himself, under oath preferably.
Another intriguing charge that Payling makes in his article is that there is a “father-and-son tandem” in city hall who is responsible for bringing the mayor’s popularity “to the poorest level.”
Payling notes that mayor Perdices only had a margin of a little over five thousand against his closest rival, and to think “his rival had practically no money,” says Payling.
Who could this “father-and-son tandem” be?
Dr. Payling could not possibly be referring to the Rodring-Neil Ray Lagahit tandem.
To me, this is unthinkable because Rodring is Payling’s brother, and Neil Ray is Payling’s nephew. They are family. Family members don’t attack one another.
Rodring is with the General Services while Neil Ray is the city legal officer.
But at same time, in all honesty, I also cannot think of any other father-and-son-tandem in city hall, that Payling could otherwise be talking about.
I am thus, at a dead-end.
This father-son tandem, apparently wields such tremendous influence as to drive more than half of city hall’s workforce to vote against the mayor (this is according to Payling in his article).
So Payling, can you help us out and tell us who you are referring to?
Or in fairness to Rodring or Neil Ray, perhaps they can tell us any other father-son tandem in city hall that their brother/uncle Payling could possibly be referring to?
What worries me really is Payling’s charge that the elections in the city will go down in history as the “costliest” and “dirtiest” ever.
Who made our elections the "costliest"? Who made our elections the "dirtiest"?
These political hypocrites?
We are likewise concerned for our beloved mayor because according to Payling, this father-son tandem is responsible for bringing the mayor’s popularity “to the poorest level.”
Now we do not want an unpopular mayor, do we?
I'm not sure, but I have a feeling the people might just witness a can of worms being opened here.
I also think that with Payling's revelations, Payling could likely be made a potential witness to a sensational defamation trial.
P.S. To the defendant Australian Dindo: Your column pales compared to Payling’s.

Dumaguete polls: The dirtiest ever?

A local politician has dropped a bombshell by charging that the last elections in the city will go down in history as the “costliest” and the “dirtiest” ever.
He charges there was “blatant vote-buying” and “dagdag-bawas” was at its highest.
Former city councilor Dr. Rafael “Payling” Lagahit made this bold statement in his column published in the Negros News last June 24, 2007.
Now, this can be seen by some as sour-graping, because Payling ran and lost for a city council seat in the last elections.
But knowing Payling Lagahit, he knows from whereof he speaks.
He is not a stranger to local politics.
Payling is a former three-term Dumaguete councilor. He was with the team of Mayor Perdices in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.
I used to cover the city council during those times, so I got to interview Payling many times before.
Before I comment on Dr. Payling’s published pronouncements, let me re-print his article verbatim:

The latest elections will go down in Dumaguete City’s history as one of the costliest and dirtiest elections ever held in this so-called city of gentle people. Blatant vote-buying and “dagdag bawas” (vote padding and vote shaving) was at its highest. One cannot say that this was done by the opposition because the opposition never had any money in the first place. The administration had the machinery and money at their beck and call. On the aspect of vote buying, one can just ask the ordinary voter. And on the dagdag bawas one can surmise because for three days vote-counting was not held and on top of this, a brown-out happened conveniently not in the city but only in City Hall where the vote-counting took place. There was then ample time for ballot manipulation aided by the brown-out.

Because of the so-called cheating written by a columnist of a local paper, the mayor (like the husband of the President) sued him for a hefty sum. Did the mayor cheat during the latest elections? That is a question that remains unanswered. Only time will tell. I, for one, do not think he did. But I cannot say the same to some of his minions. The mayor once wrote that he welcomes constructive criticisms. . The mayor should take into consideration that during the previous elections, he had a majority of more than fifteen thousand votes. In this elections his majority had trickled down to a little over five thousand votes even if his rival had practically no money to think of. Basically, the mayor is a good man, but people around him has brought his credibility and his popularity to the bottom. More than half of the city hall employees voted against him, not because of him as the city’s manager, but because a father and son tandem has brought his popularity to the poorest level. The city hall employees did not vote for the mayor because they wanted the tandem out. These two have been flexing their political muscle at city hall to the point that one of them is dubbed the “little mayor”.

The mayor has three years more before he bows out. If he wants to leave a legacy of good governance to the city, these are the two people he should weed out and replace them with honest and credible people
.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Feedback from a Chronicle reader

A reader of the Negros Chronicle writes his feelings about Dumaguete City mayor Agustin Perdices:

"Dear Negros Chronicle,
I have read regularly your NC in the internet because this is my way of keeping in touch with the city where I grew up. Thanks to your wordwide exposure. My Tita Meling raised me in San Jose Extension and I spent my elementary in West Central and high school in NOHS. This is the first time I am writing to you and I have to say something because I am not happy with Tuting's harassing a media person. I wanted to keep my personal observation to myself but it's hard to let powerful people threaten the only power that the people have---the right to speak.
I try not to be political because I don't have a lot of respect towards politicians who cannot handle criticisms, more so, avoid criticisms. Mayor Perdices is a case in point. As far as I can remember, he's been the mayor (on and off) of Dumaguete for a long, long time. In all his years in office, I observed that he avoids controversies by using his underlings (such as the Vice Mayor and City Legal Officer) to face public scrutiny and legal actions. For example, when his former Vice Mayor and City legal Officer were sued in relation to the closure of lotto outlets in the city, I wondered ngano sila, dili siya? Asa si Tuting? Why is he not taking the burden as mayor of an issue that he strongly talks about? Looy si Ablong ug si Lagahit. At least, Ablong is lucky that he lost. As far as Atty. Lagahit is concerned, I think he likes to be used over and over again. I don't know much about the new Vice Mayor. I hope he will not allow himself to be used like Ablong.
Now, in his questionable last term, he sued an Australian citizen. For a person who avoids controversies, filing a case against a media person looks foolish. Interestingly, he backed down? Bason napikon lang. Ngano man? Again, it shows that he cannot stomach a criticism. Maybe, it's more than just criticism. Perhaps, there is a truth to the allegation that he really lost the election. That's why he sued. Of course, we can't know it unless the COMELEC investigates the brown-outs, stoppage of vote counting, and the surge of his lead against Umbac after the power was restored and the counting was restarted.
The truth is a lot of Dumaguetenos are already tired of the rise of ciminality, drug problems, unsolved crimes in the city that even Umbac can beat Tuting in an honest election. A former elementary teacher of mine confided to me that actually Umbac won the election but lost the counting. Looy si Umbac apan he deserves to lose by not fighting on. I am not happy with Tuting but I am not happy with Umbac either. Dumaguete has words for it: Wa'y baruganan!.
Tuting is Tuting. Expecting him to change is like expecting a tiger to lose its stripes. He will be known in Dumaguete and the internet world as a mediocre politician in his sunset years with a questionable last term mandate who would rather harass a media person for an unfounded lousy reason rather than dedicate his precious time solving the homicide and murder cases in the city. I am sad to say that as of now, I am hopeless but as long as the media continue to speak and protect our rights to express ourselves, then there might be some hope for us.Go NC for your steadfastness in protecting the right to speak!
H. Albrido"

Friday, June 22, 2007

Perdices suit referred to national press watchdogs

The Negros Chronicle has referred the defamation suit filed by Dumaguete City mayor Agustin Perdices against an Australian newspaperman to the nation's top press freedom watchdogs in Manila.
Earlier this week, Chronicle associate editor Jay Dejaresco met with Jose L. Pavia, executive director of the Philippine Press Institute and coordinator of the Freedom Fund For Filipino Journalists, and relayed the latest happenings affecting press freedom in Negros Oriental.
Dejaresco also submitted to Pavia a brief of the defamation suit filed by mayor Perdices.
Dejaresco reported to Pavia the serious press freedom implications of the mayor's suit as it attempted to use court attachment remedies as another legal tool to harass journalists.
Pavia welcomed the report and said incidents seen as threats and dangers to journalists will be disseminated to practicing newsmen all over the country, so they will be made aware.
In the case of Perdices, he attempted to have the Dumaguete land of the Australian citizen he sued attached by the court.
In his effort to deprive the journalist of his property and full ownership rights, Perdices alleged patent lies under oath in his complaint.
For instance, Perdices alleged in his complaint that the Australian he sued was a columnist of the Negros Chronicle.
The Negros Chronicle has denied it as any Australian citizen who writes in the paper.
Perdices also under oath told the court that the Australian is a Dumaguete land owner.
In truth, the land referred to is owned by a Filipino.
In the Philippines, a foreigner is prohibited from owning land.
Dejaresco pointed out that there may be many other public officials or high handed plaintiffs who sue journalists for defamation, and are so brazen as to undermine and mock the judiciary by lying under oath, in their bid to attach journalists' properties.
Pavia meanwhile, underscored the need for vigilance on the part of journalists as they pursue their profession.
Otherwise, Pavia said, journalists might wake up one day only to find out they have suddenly lost their property rights.
He also noted that court attachment proceedings can be done without the knowledge of the defendant-journalists, the process being "ex parte".
In Perdices' case, he subsequently withdrew his own attachment bid after the Chronicle raised questions on the veracity of his sworn allegations, which was to be the basis for having the attachment granted by the court.
Perdices has not given any iota of proof of the citizenship of the person he sued, or that such Australian even exists.
Perdices has not substantiated his sworn allegations pointing to the Australian address.
This allegation would have been important in establishing non-residence of the defendant in the Philipines.
Rules on attachment require that the defendant be a non-resident of the Philippines.
The Negros Chronicle has also submitted a report of the Perdices suit to the National Union of Journalists of the Philipines (NUJP).
Next week, the Chronicle will submit a similar report to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in Makati.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Referral to NUJP

I have referred the defamation case filed by Mayor Agustin Perdices to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). I expect to meet with Joe Torres and the officers of the NUJP at the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 143. There will be a hearing tomorrow on the civil case filed by journalists against First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Here is the press alert I submitted to NUJP:

Unprecedented defamation
suit seeking attachment filed

Dumaguete City - - - An unprecedented defamation suit which peculiarly sought for a preliminary attachment was filed by a city mayor against an Australian columnist of a 33-year old local newspaper The Negros Chronicle.

What is unprecedented is that upon filing a civil case of defamation against a newsman, the mayor of Dumaguete City, who is the plaintiff, applied with the court for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment.

An application for a writ of attachment means that the plaintiff is asking the court to hold or “attach” the property of the journalist at the during the pendency of the case, thus restricting the journalist’s property rights.

Under the rules of court, a preliminary attachment is a remedy where the court will hold the property of the defendant in order to ensure the satisfaction of any judgment that may be rendered in the case.

The impact of this case is that aside from threats of imprisonment through criminal libel, journalists also face threats of economic and property deprivation while they face defamation suits filed by public officials.

Dumaguete mayor Agustin Perdices Friday June 1, 2007 filed a damage suit against an Australian citizen allegedly residing in Australia whom the mayor claimed is a CHRONICLE columnist stating among others that as public servant he was maligned by the foreigner .

In a 6-page complaint with prayer for a writ of preliminary attachment, filed thru counsel Bejar Moncada Nuique Catacutan Law Offices, Perdices claimed his rights were violated and would seek redress under Articles l9, 20, 21 and 33 of the New Civil Code.

He is seeking monetary damages worth P300,000.

Perdices as plaintiff, under oath and under pain of perjury, identified the defendant as one Dindo P. Generoso, “of legal age married, an Australian citizen, and a resident of 2/31 Kensinton Road, Summer Hill 2130, New South Wales, Australia...”

In the same complaint, Perdices has asked the court to issue a writ of preliminary attachment against the Australian citizen whom Perdices alleged owns a real property in Dumaguete city.

As to how a foreigner can now own real property in the Philippines, Perdices did not explain in his complaint.

Perdices claims that he suffered mental anguish , social humiliation, and besmirched reputation when Generoso (the Australian citizen referred into the complaint) in his column, claimed that mayoralty bet Arturo Umbac, (Perdices’ rival in the last mayoral elections), “was robbed of the road to victory and imputed the involvement of plaintiff (Perdices) in such act without making a diligent and deliberate inquiry on the matter….”

Later, last June 12, 2007, the plaintiff himself withdrew his own application for attachment.

A copy of the complaint of mayor Perdices is posted at http://jaydejaresco.blogspot.com/2007/06/lying-under-oath-is-serious-offense.html ( Jay I. Dejaresco) -30-

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Public resources, personal agenda

The holding of press conferences has taken a different complexion lately.
When I was active in attending press conferences usually initiated by government officials and public offices, it was meant to highlight a significant public policy or a major directional development in the area of governance, or to receive a guest of national prominence.
But lately, the purpose of press conferences was reduced to becoming a forum for insignificant chit-chats, and personal agenda, and vendettas.
This was evident when Mayor Agustin Perdices held a press conference a few weeks ago.
The main, if not sole subject of the press conference was to announce that the mayor, was suing an Australian citizen for defamation.
Taken in that perpective, the press conference was perhaps justified as it recorded a "first" in the mayor's life---suing a journalist for the first time.
Perhaps, the mayor thought anything that happens for the first time deserves some pomp and ceremony, just like the first time that a baby could walk, the first birthday, the first hair-cut, the first graduation, the first piano recital.
So the mayor perhaps thought that his first time to file a case, by himself, must have a grand media attention.
So he gathered the local media to his office to make this historic and "earth-shaking" announcement.
However, from the media's perspective, is the "mayoral milestone" really that significant that it deserves a press conference?
I must tell that my uncle Peter almost fell off his chair upon learning that the mayor of Dumaguete was holding a press conference, the sole purpose of which was to announce he was filing a case against a foreigner.
"That's the only agenda of the press conference?" my bewildered uncle asked.
For me, I really don't take it against the mayor for holding that press conference.
The mayor is an influential and powerful government official.
He can gather the media in a snap, because the local media want to listen to what he has to say, significant or insignificant, mudane or esoteric.
Notably, to emphasize that the press conference was just about his filing of a case, the mayor had the media accompany him to the hall of justice so he could pose while personally filing the case.
I will have to say though, that the mayor took it to the extreme when he had to hold a press conference about a matter that many people really don't care about.
But that's his call.
My problem with the mayor's action is that he held a press conference about a matter that was personal, and not official.
The subject of the press conference was the mayor's filing a defamation suit.
Defamation, libel are laws designed to protect a person's PRIVATE reputation.
I read the mayor's complaint, and the article he was complaining about touched on his candidacy for mayorship, and not being the mayor.
Therefore, there was nothing official, or anything that related to public policy and governance in that press conference, except the mayor's personal hurt, vengeance, and rantings against a foreign newspaper writer.
If the press conference was about a matter personal only to the mayor, that did not involve matters on the welfare and safety of the constituents, why hold that press conference at the mayor's office, during office hours, and with the attendance of the mayor's subodinates like the city legal officer?
For me, that press confrerence was no different from using government vehicles on Sundays to go marketing or going to the beach, or to fetch their children from school.
That is using public resources for personal ends.
The mayor did not draw the line between his personal, from his official concerns.
If the leader of the city government has no qualms about using public resources to advance his personal interests, and for personal gains (what gain will his personal rantings give to Dumaguetenos?), then we cannot discount the possibility that other city officials will do the same.
Other city officials, and employees will just "follow the leader."
Can we blame them?
I am reminded of that city official who admitted under oath that he used a government vehicle to play tennis.
Do you believe in the saying that birds of the same feather flock together?
If mayor Perdices had to hold a press conference, it would have been proper and legal to hold it in a private place, say in McDonald's, Jollibee, Chiquiting's Scooby's, or if he wanted it to be more sophisticated, maybe in some fancy restaurant, or if he wanted to save costs, maybe in Ma Mia restaurant.
But not in city hall and certainly not in the office of the mayor because that sacred office belongs to the sovereign people, and it is an office for more important public transactional and policy matters.
I saw on t.v. the city legal officer attending that personal press conference. What was he doing there?
Do his official duties now include attending to the mayor's personal legal concerns, as against the paying public's legal concerns?
Public office is a public trust.
Public office is not to be used to advance personal interests.
As a citizen I demand that city hall, and the mayor's office, be used strictly to advance the interests of all Dumaguetenos, not as a venue for the mayor to demand apologies for his personal hurts.
Do that somewhere else mayor, please.
That is why our laws against graft and corruption prohibit the use of public resources for one's personal gain.
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6713 establishing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standard for public officials, provides:
"Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively, honestly and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues."
Next time, we hope the mayor would be more circumspect and more prudent by drawing the line between public concern and his own private concern.
Good, not crooked leadership-by-example is the key issue.
Otherwise, the people would not tolerate it anymore and will hold him legally accountable for using public resources for his private, personal interests.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Judge orders service of summons

The case filed by Dumaguete city mayor Agustin Perdices has been raffled to the sala of presiding Judge Antonio Estoconing of the municipal trial court in cities.
His first order contains notations of the pre-mptive withdrawal by mayor Perdices of his prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against the defendant Australian, Dindo P. Generoso.
What strikes me in the judge's order is his comments that although it was a voluntary withdrawal by Mayor Perdices, the judge apparently made a comment stating that no attachment was forthcoming.
I am referring to the judge's statement in the order dated June 12, 2007 which says, "Anyway the the withdrawal of the provisional remedy is the prerogative of the plaintiff, but just the same, the Writ of Preliminary Attachment, under the rules may not be granted to him as the facts and information obtaining in the situation witholds it from the plainitff."
Another thing that strikes me in the order is the directive for the isusance and service of the summons to the defendant.
If you would notice in the lower portion of the order , the judge categorically directed that copies of the June 12, 2007 order be furnished to the defendant Dindo P. Generoso specifically to his address at 2/31 Kensington Road, Summer Hill 2130, New South Wales Australia.
Thus, the summons should be served in said address, as even a copy of the June 12, 2007 order of the judge is to be served upon the defendant to the same address.
Besides, this is the address given by the plaintiff under oath.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back

City strikes back at the Chronicle

The mayor’s political henchmen have gone to work and have staged a basklash against the Negros Chronicle and the people behind this paper.
This is the result, after the Negros Chronicle, and its writers ran a series of stories, articles and commentaries unfavorable to Mayor Agustin Perdices and his lieutenants.
This has been seen as an obvious attempt to purge and punish the Negros Chronicle for writing pieces not to the liking of the powers-that-be at city hall.
One of the mayor’s foot-soldiers, the controversial Harrison Gonzales, who himself has been underfire for his ignominious unliquidated cash advances from the peoples’ pockets, has directly accused the publisher of the Negros Chronicle, and his entire family including myself, of committing the crime of TAX EVASION.
In Harrison Gonzales’ privilege speech, Mayor Perdices’ trusted and loyal man-Friday at the city council, he said:

"Moreover, they have been wrongly intimating the fact that I seemingly, do not have respect for the law, that I should step down, I want to hurl back the same suggestion to them. I also urge them to show respect for the law by paying the forty-five thousand nine hundred and twenty-two pesos and fifty centavos (P45,922.50) which they owe the city government in amusement taxes. I understand that a member of the Dejaresco family was responible for leading the group named Bell Tower Productions which sponsored the Christian Bautista concert in 2005, and whose amusement taxes to the government has remained unpaid till now. By not paying, they are openly cheating and shortchanging the city government of Dumaguete of the much needed revenue. This is a clear case of tax evasion."

Although not mentioning me by name, he specifically referred to me as the writer and member of the Dejaresco family who wrote the article “ABC vacancy in the city council.”
That sufficiently identifies me because my by-line is seen below the title of the article in the May 20, 2007 issue of the Chronicle.
To accuse a person and his family of tax evasion is a serious public and malicious imputation of a crime.
Gonzales made the privilege speech after the article unfavorable to him was published.
The malice of Gonzales is patent because he is fully aware and even studied the request of Bell Tower Productions for a reduction of their amusement tax payables.
I speak for my family Harrison Gonzales has falsely accused.
None of us have committed the crime of tax evasion against the city government.
Tax evasion is a crime and punishable because it is a taxpayer’s insidious, deceitful, efforts to evade, hide, and escape payment of taxes which are due the government.
A common example of tax evasion is the maintenance of two accounting books for one’s business---one reflecting the true account, the other “para sa B.I.R.”
None in our family has ever tried to deceive the city government with respect to taxes.
What is the basis of Mayor Perdices’ favorite councilor to accuse us of tax evasion?
They dug into the files of the city treasurer’s office.
And they found the unpaid tax liability of Bell Tower Productions in the amount of P45,922.50.
Bell Tower Productions is an un-incorporated concert production entity which promoted the concert of Christian Batustia in 2005.
The young men and women behind Bell Tower Productions included Jeffrey Real and his wife Marilen D. Real, daughter of Ely P. Dejaresco, publisher of the Negros Chronicle.
Bell Tower Productions reported to the city treasurer its inability to pay all the amusement taxes because the Christian Bautista concert did not generate the estimated tickets sales.
Bell Tower Productions thus requested for a reduction of the amusement tax to five percent, which the city government rejected.
Bell Tower Productions reported to the city treasurer’s office the actual, and true financial statement of the concert.
Bell Tower Productions had ALL the tickets stamped by the city treasurer’s office.
One member of the Bell Tower Productions was told by somebody from the city treasurer’s office that concerrt organizers and promoters almost always try not to have all the concert tickets stamped so they would pay less amusement taxes.
That is the usual practice by most concert promoters, according to a source from the city treasurer’s office itself.
But Bell Tower Productions refused this illegal practice and would rather report everything to the government and have all the tickets stamped.
True enough, Bell Tower Productions was able to uncover and possess tickets of other concerts which did not bear any stamp from the city treasurer’s office.
Bell Tower Productions still has these tickets as evidence.
This prompted Bell Tower Productions to inquire from the city treasurer’s office why there were tickets of other concerts that did not have any stamp from their office.
If there is no stamp, then there is no way the government would know exactly the number of tickets sold.
In order to evade the payment of the correct taxes, some concert promoters only declare and submit to the city treasurer’s office far fewer tickets, than what is actually sold to the public.
As a result, the government is paid far less than what is actually due.
That is how cheating is done with respect to evading the payment of amusement taxes.
Until now the city treasurer’s office has not responded to our query.
So where is the tax evasion, when Bell Tower Productions reported everything to the city treasurer’s office?
Tax evasion is hiding, and deceiving the government in order to evade the payment of the correct taxes.
On the contrary, Bell Tower Productions reported everything to the city treasurer, and even rejected the idea of mis-declaring the number of tickets sold.
If a person is unable to pay his tax after reporting a loss, that is not tax evasion.
Gonzales, a law-maker, should know that.
If the city treasurer’s office intends to single out Bell Tower Productions, then we suggest that the city treasurer comply with the procedures and remedies laid down in the local government code in collection of local taxes.
But before it singles out Bell Tower Productions, the city treasurer should first respond to our request since long ago for documents and information about the other concerts held in Dumaguete, particularly why some of their tickets do not bear the government stamps.
All relevant documents and correspondences of Bell Tower Productions is posted in my blog at http://www.jaydejaresco.blogspot.com/
But what is ridiculous is Harry Gonzales’ desperate imputation of the crime of tax evasion not only upon Bell Tower Productions, but also to the other relatives of Bell Tower members who have nothing to do with Bell Tower Productions in the first place, like the publisher of this paper and myself.
After falsely and maliciously accusing Bell Tower Productions of committing tax evasion, Gonzales proceeded to accuse family members of tax evasion too.
In the mind of Gonzales, if Juan shoots Pedro, then homicide charges should be filed against Juan’s father, Juan’s brother and the rest of the members of Juan’s family.
Harry should stop getting (il)legal advise from that corrupt, crooked and hare-brained lawyer, who has an axe to grind against this paper.
It’s for Harry’s own good.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reader comments on Perdices' suit

I just received an email from a reader of the Negros Chronicle reacting to the civil suit filed by Dumaguete Mayor Agustin Perdices against a person the mayor claims to be an Australian citizen named Dindo P. Generoso. Here is that email:

"To Negros Chronicle,

This is my first time to write to your Readers Comments and would like to say that I am appalled at the over-reaction of Mayor Perdices to Mr. Generoso's article. I have just been able to read that May 20 article and found nothing of the mayor's accusations supposed to have been made by Mr. Generoso.

In another newspaper I also read that Mayor Perdices said he was forced to file a complaint because Mr. Generoso refused to apologize for his beliefs. I do not know that people are now supposed to apologize for their beliefs if other people don't like it.

In this connection I congratulate the Dumaguete media in standing up to protect the Freedom of Speech specially your write ups in relation to the Generoso Issue with Mayor Perdices. I am hoping the mayor will come to his senses and recognize that as a public official he is subject to public scrutiny and criticism.

Since this is his last term in office, i would prefer to read about his plans for Dumaguete for the next three years instead of tangling with the media and infringing the freedom of Speech in its wake. Mr. Generoso's comments were admittedly abrasive but the mayor should not allow himself to be carried away by his imagination. Thank you and more power to Negros Chronicle.

En-en Tolen"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lying under oath is a serious offense

Lying under oath is a serious offense. It is a criminal act. It is not taken lightly.
In the United States, former president Bill Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives after lying under oath when he denied that he had sexual relations with a White House intern.
The latest (ex) high ranking U.S. government official to be convicted of perjury is the former chief of staff of Vice President Richard Cheney, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby.
Libby was convicted recently of lying to government prosecutors investigating a CIA leak.
Lying under oath has caused governments to fall.
This was what happened to the administration of the former United States President Richard Nixon, who became the only president in U.S. history to resign from office following the infamous Watergate scandal.
Lying under oath becomes more serious when it is done to mislead the courts. Feeding the courts with lies is detestable.
To lie under oath debases and obstructs, and makes a mockery of the administration of justice.
When a party degrades the administration of justice by lying under oath, he can be subject to contempt proceedings.
If a public official lies under oath, it becomes all the more serious because public officials must at all times be accountable to the people, and they must serve with integrity and act with justice.
This is because a public office is a public trust.
If an elective local official is found lying under oath, the electorate can loose confidence in him, and the people can exercise their power to have him recalled from office.
Recall is a process of removing an elected official for loss of confidence by the sovereign constituents.
We shall discuss the process of recall in a separate article.
Mayor Agustin Perdices, with so much noise and publicity, filed a case against an Australian citizen.
Copies of his complaint were provided to media after holding a press conference with his high caliber, high profile lawyers.
Obviously, he wants the case to be discussed and covered by glare of media.
So discuss it we will.
In his complaint for defamation and damages, he identified under oath the defendant as one Dindo P. Generoso, “of legal age, married and Australian citizen and a resident of 2/31 Kensington Road, Summer Hill 2130, New South Wales Australia…”
In the same complaint, in paragraph 5, Perdices also swore that the defendant, meaning the Australian citizen, is a columnist of the Negros Chronicle.
More, Perdices also swore that this Australian citizen owns a piece of land in Dumaguete City.
The mayor made this allegation despite his presumed knowledge that the constitution prohibits foreigners from owning land in the Philippines.
The Negros Chronicle, which has been dragged into the case, is categorically denying that it has a columnist who is a citizen of Australia, and resident of New South Wales, contrary to the sworn allegations of the mayor.
Either the Negros Chronicle or Perdices is not telling the truth.
In Perdices’ complaint, which he swore before notary public Neil Rey Lagahit, the good mayor needs to establish the following:
First, Perdices has to identify the defendant, the person he is suing.
He has to establish that there is indeed an Australian citizen named Dindo P. Generoso.
Next, Perdices the plaintiff, has to establish that this Australian citizen named Dindo P. Generoso resides in 2/31 Kensington Road, Summer Hill 2130, New South Wales Australia.
Third, Perdices has to establish that this Australian citizen he is suing, if ever he exists, is indeed a columnist in the Negros Chronicle.
Fourth, Perdices need has to explain how this Australian citizen became owner of land in the Philippines.
The Negros Chronicle, surprised over the mayors sworn allegations, took it upon itself to inquire with the Australian embassy about this Australian citizen whom the mayor has sued.
The response from the Australian embassy is still being awaited.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s complaint is seeking the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment.
An attachment is a remedy where property of the defendant is held by the court while the proceedings are on going to ensure the satisfaction of any judgment of the case.
Perdices’ sworn allegations on the identity of the defendant will have a strong impact on the sufficiency of the basis to issue this writ of attachment.
According to the mayor, since the defendant, aside from being a citizen of Australia, is residing in “2/31 Kensington Road, Summer Hill 2130, New South Wales Australia”, then he does not reside in the Philippines.
According to Perdices, since the defendant Australian Dindo P. Generoso does not reside in the Philippines, then the court should issue a preliminary attachment.
In other words, Perdices would have to invoke his allegations that the defendant is an Australian citizen and that he resides in New South Wales Australia, to help him have the attachment granted.
In fact Perdices executed another sworn statement adopting and incorporating the same allegations in his complaint.
The question is: Are the mayor’s sworn allegations true, or are they lies? Or are they true lies?
Did the mayor lie under oath, in his bid to lead or mislead the court to order an attachment?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My response to the DILG letter

Leopoldo Pol Gravador
Dept. of Interior and Local Gov't
Dumaguete City
Dear Mr. Gravador:

Please allow me to clarify.
First. When I write my opinion and my thoughts, those are merely what they are--- an ordinary citizen’s opinion. I pay my taxes to the government. These taxes go to salaries of government officials like you. So I sincerely believe I have earned the right to comment on the affairs of state.
Second. When I write my thoughts and opinion and argue and debate, I do not look into the personalities and the people who advance contrary opinions or arguments. I only look at the substance of the arguments.
Third. You have an impeccable set of credentials and I believe you are probably one of the most qualified officials in the DILG. Your son Waldemar too (who is a very good friend), has such sterling resume that easily qualifies him certainly to be congressman, senator and even president of the republic one day. And that would be a good thing. But you and your son’s credentials are not the issue. The issue I raised was that the opinion that the ex officio hold over membership in the sanggunian by the liga president is elective, runs afoul to the constitutional principle that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. To me, such an opinion is like a square peg placed on a round hole. To me, it doesn’t fit. To me, it’s incongruous.
Fourth. Nobody ever said or published that you could be liable as co-conspirator. I think it would be too presumptuous for you to claim you are the sole and only DILG officer in the land.
Fifth. I am flattered that you read my blog. For the longest time, I thought only two people read them--- me and my wife. Unfortunately, you misquoted me (wittingly or unwittingly). I never wrote “people from city hall helped draft the opinion of the DILG Operations Officer.”
My blog states: “Personally I can't even rule out the possibility that people from city hall "helped" draft the opinion of the DILG operations officer.” (You subtracted my sentence making out a whole different meaning)
What I blogged was that I cannot remove the lingering disturbances from my mind about the possibility that people from city hall "helped" draft the opinion of the DILG operations officer.”
It is a possibility that still occupies my mind to this day. I laid the basis for my suspicions in my blog. (By the way, not to advertise but for those who care, my blog is at http://jaydejaresco.blogspot.com)
So I never made any accusatory statement.
As you can see, your mis-quote and what was actually published and written are worlds apart. So there is really no basis to feel insulted.
Whether you deliberately mis-quoted me in your letter or not, only you and God know.
Sixth. I agree with you that knowledge of the law is not the monopoly of lawyers. The fact that it was your opinion (and not the DILG region’s) that was published speaks volumes of how highly regarded your opinions are by the Negros Chronicle. It’s just that other people have a contrary opinion.
Finally. Please rest assured that my contrary opinion to yours is not an indictment of your other past opinions and your highly regarded credentials.
Thank you and more power.
Jay Dejaresco

Saturday, June 09, 2007

"Insulted" DILG officer writes

The city operations officer of the Department of Interior and Local Governments in Dumaguete City wrote me a letter, saying he feels insulted about my post in this blog. Here is his letter:


5 June 2007

ATTY. JAY I. DEJARESCO
The Negros Chronicle
Piapi, Dumaguete City

Dear Atty. Dejaresco:

This is in connection with your commentary in the Negros Chronicle where you labeled my opinion dated May 24, 2007 as totally inconsistent, simplistic reasoning, fatally flawed, irrelevant, way off tangent, more confusing and devoid of any legal basis.

At the outset, I would like to inform you that I was not asked by legal people from City Hall to write a separate opinion and as explained in my letter, I wrote it because of doubts cited in your paper that I could be liable as co-conspirator for failure to act on an illegal and irregular act.

I do not wish to debate further on the issue. Likewise, the continuous publication of commentaries on the issue would not change anything because “It is a principle widely accepted that the interpretation placed upon a statute by the executive officers whose duty is to enforce it is entitled to great respect by the Courts. Nevertheless, such an interpretation is not conclusive and will be ignored if judicially found to be erroneous” (People vs. Fernandez, 59 Phils. 272) I respectfully suggest that you take the proper action in Court.

I have never asked favors from politicians, editors, and lawyers, and I can not be ordered around to write separate opinions against my wishes and I take it as an insult when you wrote in your blog that “people from City Hall helped draft the opinion of the DILG Operations Officer”. I believe that knowledge of the law (in this case, the Local Government Code) is not a monopoly of lawyers and I also believe that not all commentaries written by lawyers are well founded on the law.

Modesty aside, my lawyer-son, Atty. Waldemar R. Gravador, who graduated Cum Laude, was the Best Debater in the 1994 SU-UP Diliman Grand Debate and got a rating of 86.85% in the bar, respects my knowledge of the Local Government and does not underestimate my being a non-lawyer.

Again, modesty aside, despite my being a non-lawyer, I have written the counter-affidavits of cases against then Mayor Enrique R. Jariol and Antonio D. Tan, and Mayor Antonio D. Renacia, all of Sibulan filed at the Office of the Ombudsman and all those cases were dismissed. I mention this to prove to you that I am capable of writing my own thoughts and opinions.

Thank you!


Leopoldo Gravador
Department of Interior and Local Government
City Operations Officer

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mayor Perdices picks a fight

We don’t know what happened to the mayor of this city, but right after winning the elections, he began picking a fight.
The mayor was displeased with an article that was not about him in the first place.
In this fight mayor Perdices indulged in a lot of pomp and media ceremony.
One Friday noon, with all his vast powers and influence, he herded the local media into his office for a press conference.
Flanked by his high-caliber, high-profile lawyers, the Bejar Nuique Moncada Catacutan Law Office, the mayor sued an Australian citizen who he swears under oath is a Negros Chronicle columnist.
Not only that, the mayor discovered that this Australian citizen owned a piece of land in Taclobo, this city, so he sought the court to have the Australian’s land attached.
This bizarre move sparked a mad scramble in the Chronicle offices as staffers were tasked to make a spot research to see if the constitution had already been changed that it now allows foreigners to own lands in the Philippines.
In the press conference, one of the senior partners of the law office hired by the mayor, dutifully obliged to brandish to the media what appeared to be a copy of the Negros Chronicle, the newspaper that purportedly published the writings of that Australian whom the honorable mayor sued.
The mayor wanted to score in dramatic fashion, both against the Australian, and the newspaper that, according to his oath, carried the Australian's writings.
(Until now, we are still searching for this Australian columnist the mayor has sued)
Since the Chronicle has been dragged into this media frenzy, it has taken occasion to inform the reading public of its position in these kind, amd similar situations.
First, it is a policy of this paper to defend its writers and columnists for their constitutionally protected published writings, articles, columns.
The Chronicle adopts the motto of the military “never to leave a comrade in battle.”
We will assist our fellow press freedom advocates in whatever way we can.
Thus, when press freedom is on the line, no one will see the Negros Chronicle fence-sitting.
Let it be on record that it was the mayor who started this legal fight.
Let it also be on record that it was the mayor who wanted his legal battle to be high-profile.
Why, he even held a press conference just to file a case.
Since the mayor wants his case to be high-profile, the Negros Chronicle will oblige, by covering and reporting blow-by-blow the developments of this case.
That is what the mayor likes.
This is what the mayor gets.