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National newsbits for June 3, 2014

DOJ PROBE

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is probing the reported unusual trend of jailhouse gang leaders and criminal heads being brought to private hospitals to undergo medical treatment. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said an investigation is now underway to determine whether the medical confinement of the convicts is legal. “I have directed the Usec-in-charge (Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan) to immediately probe those reports and submit a report,” she said in a text message. Among the criminal gang leaders who were accorded private medical treatment last month include convicted drug lord Ricardo Camata alias “Chacha,” commander of the Sigue Sigue Sputnik gang; bank robbery gang leader Herbert Colangco alias “Ampang”; and Amin Buratng, the operator of a shabu tiangge (drug flea market). (Leonard D. Postrado)

CA DECISION

The Court of Appeals (CA) is keeping its 2013 decision that the 57-hectare property known as the “Grand Ilocandia Resort” in Paoay and Laoag City in Ilocos Norte should not be returned back to the Marcoses. In a resolution, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Marcos estate through Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. “We find no valid reason to disturb our earlier decision” because the Marcos estate’s motion “contains merely a reiteration or rehash of arguments already submitted to and determined to be without merit by the Court,” it said. Rey G. Panaligan)

PAPAL VISIT

As the planned January 2015 papal visit coincides with the observance of the first “Zero Waste Month,’’ several environmental groups asked the organizers to prepare early on how to prevent or reduce trash to give Pope Francis a waste-free itinerary. Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of Cavite Green Coalition, said the Philippines should seize the excellent opportunity to demonstrate the people’s admiration and respect for the “green pope” by taking preventive steps to ensure a waste-free itinerary. “As a well-known champion of the informal recyclers in his home country Argentina, Pope Francis will surely be delighted to see the active participation of our waste pickers in any effort to make his visit waste-free,” Rey Palacio, Informal Waste Sector Liaison, EcoWaste Coalition, for his part said. (Chito A. Chavez)

STUDENT FARE

A House leader doused cold water on a proposal seeking to grant a 20-percent student fare discount on land, water and air transport utilities during vacation and holidays. Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said since it is for education, the fare perks to elementary, secondary and college students should only be given during school days. Tugna was reacting to Senate Bill No. 203, which was filed by Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara seeking to institutionalize the grant of a 20-percent student fare discount on land, water and air transport utilities. SB 203 proposed that fare privileges be given not only during school days but also during Saturdays, Sundays, Christmas vacations and other holidays during a school year or school semester. (Charissa M. Luci)

‘PAYANIG SA PASIG’

The government is planning to auction off the controversial “Payanig sa Pasig” commercial complex within the year despite the long-running dispute concerning the property’s legal ownership. Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Chairman Andres Bautista said they have engaged a property consultant to assess the valuation of the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” complex, which sits within the Ortigas Center in Pasig City. “We’re looking at bidding it out this year on an ‘as is, where is,’ basis,” Bautista said, apparently referring on the string of lawsuits connected to the “Payanig sa Pasig” property. (Kris Bayos)