LIST: 18 'Palpaks' of the AQUINO Regime - The Most Popular Lists


LIST: 18 'Palpaks' of the AQUINO Regime

As we 'celebrate' the yesterday's national holiday of EDSA Revolution, let us remember the times the 18 Palapaks or 'fails' that happened during the Aquino administration.

1. SAF 44/Mamasapano clash

As the country commemorates the lives of 44 elite police officers who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Malacañang called on the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the case filed against those responsible for their deaths.

On Jan. 25, 2015, 67 Filipinos-- including 44 Special Action Force commandos--died in a clash involving members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other armed groups.

Four years ago, 44 elite Special Action Force commandos died in a clash between Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao | Photo by PhilStar

A police board that investigated the clash noted lack of coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a ceasefire committee as well as poor planning in the operation against international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and Filipino bombmaker Basit Usman.

Aside from the SAF troopers, 18 MILF fighters and five civilians died in the clash.

READ: Angry netizens remind Bam Aquino of Noynoy and Cory’s Bloody Legacy

2. Dengvaxia Victims

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Monday claimed that the number of people who died after being inoculated with the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine has risen to 57 as on May 2018.

“We already have 57 and many pending cases for autopsy scheduled for this week until next week,” PAO forensic expert Dr. Erwin Erfe told The Manila Times in a text message.

According to Erfe, at least four cases from Cebu and Albay were slated for forensic examination this week.

“We will provide further details about the victims after we have performed the examination,” he said.

PAO said that 54 of the 57 victims were children. In addition, Quezon City police officer Vicente Arugay, Camp Crame utility worker John Rey Pintor and physician Kendrick Gotoc have died.

Thirteen-year-old Marlon Jay Lorenzo was the 54th child examined by PAO, after he died of heart failure on May 15.

PAO chief Persida Acosta said Lorenzo received his first Dengvaxia shot on April 26, 2016, and another on October 26, 2017.

READ: Bam says cousin Noy 'responsible' for Dengvaxia program but issue 'politicized'

3. Hacienda Luisita Massacre

The November 2004 massacre or more popularly known as the Hacienda Luisita massacre is one of the most prominent instances of protest related deaths of Filipinos in recent years.

In the months following the Hacienda Luisita massacre, eight more people who either supported or provided evidence to the farmers’ cause were found murdered, beginning with the assassination of peasant leader Marcelino Beltran just before he was to testify about the massacre.

On 6 November 2004, United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) launched a strike near Gate 1 of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill.

The protesters were pushing for an increase in their ₱9.50 weekly wage, increased worker benefits and, more broadly, a greater commitment for national land reform. Over a thousand farmers, and another several thousand union members attended the demonstration.

Strikers at Hacienda Luisita flee for safety from police and troops, November 16 (left). 
Video shots courtesy of SIPAT, via Bulatlat.

On 16 November 2004, ten days after the start of the said strike, police and soldiers were dispatched by then Labour Secretary Patricia Santo Tomás, to storm and disperse the blockade. The enforcers utilized tear gas, water cannons, guns, and military vehicles to disseminate the crowd. Seven of the people participating in the rally were killed, an estimated number of 121 people, adults and children, were injured, and 133 people were arrested and detained.

The incident has sparked a national outcry, however, then Deputy Speaker & Former ex-President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Cojuanco Aquino III, Representative of Tarlac, claims that the dispersal done by the enforcers was justified.

A case was filed against the police and military with regards to the injuries and deaths, however it was dismissed by the office of the Ombudsman in 2010. Proceeding that, a motion to reopen the case was filed by the families of the victims, however, it was declined by the Office of the Ombudsman on 2 October 2014.

Workers carry off body of murdered comrade. Video shots courtesy of SIPAT, via Bulatlat.

Fifteen years later and the Hacienda Luisita Massacre remains unresolved, no investigations conducted nor has anyone been arrested for the murder of the farmworkers. Fifteen years later, farmers and beneficiaries continue to picket for their rightful land, and again are met with the same police brutality and unlawful arrest and detainment. The actions of the government and armed forces of the Philippines continue to violate the basic human rights of the workers, farmers, and peasants of the country failing their duties to justly serve the majority of the people.

READ: Yellow Admin: 'Pray to Cory because the Whole World Praises Her'

4. 2016 Kidapawan Massacre

Three years have passed but justice remained elusive for survivors of the bloody dispersal of protesting farmers who were affected by drought in North Cotabato, known as the Kidapawan Massacre.

For three days from March 30, 2016, thousands of farmers and their supporters blockaded the Davao-Cotabato Highway in Kidapawan, North Cotabato. 

Photo credit: CNN | Kat Cortez

A day before prior to the road blockade, 500 farmers protest in front of the National Food Authority Office in Kidapawan to air their grievances.

The protesters cited the drought caused by El Niño that has been affecting the region since November 2015 and the non-distribution of rice by the National Food Authority despite the declaration of a state of calamity by the local government unit.

Among the demands set by the protesters is 15,000 sacks of rice which they say that North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza previously promised to give as a form of relief, seeds of vegetables resistant to drought and other relief to combat against hunger.

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More than 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) of agricultural lands has been affected by the drought according to the Department of Agriculture with about ₱5.3 billion worth of rice and corn loss as a result of the calamity.

The demonstration ended violently with at least three deaths on the side of the protesters and a total of 116 injured on both sides after the police dispersed the mass action.

The protests ended violently with 3 farmers dead. Both sides sustained injuries.

Those who expressed their solidarity with the protesters, as well as those calling for justice for the incident, used the hashtag #BigasHindiBala (Rice not Bullets) in social media. In Twitter, the hashtag received about 63.5 million impressions from around 1:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. of April 2, 2016.

5. Hong Kong Tourist Bus Hostage Crisis

On August 23, 2010, seven Hong Kong tourists and their tour guide were killed in Manila and 13 others injured when a disgruntled former police officer opened fire on a tourist bus after hijacking it.

Philippine police have stormed a hijacked bus and shot dead a former police officer who had taken a group of Hong Kong tourists hostage.

Philippine police commandos crouch with their weapons as they assault a tourist bus that was taken over by a former police officer in Manila. Photo: Reuters

In all, 22 tourists from Hong Kong were taken hostage along with 3 Filipinos - a driver, a guide and a photographer.

8 of the hostages were killed in the bloody siege, which ended with several survivors crawling from the bus while emergency crews removed bodies.

A former policeman armed with an assault rifle had seized the bus in an apparent attempt to get his job back.

Hong Kong's government has criticized the handling of the siege.

Upset with the Philippine government's handling of the crisis and its ensuing investigation, Hong Kong issued a black travel alert against the island nation. The two governments and victims' families reached an agreement in 2014 in which the survivors and victims' families accepted an undisclosed amount of compensation from Manila.

On April 12, 2018, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte publicly apologized for the incident on behalf of his country.

READ: Ex-President Ninoy Admits he was 'Very Useless' during his Presidency & Warns Duterte Supporters

6. ₱20 Billion ‘Yolanda’ housing fund for 2016 not released by Aquino Admin & Typhoon Victim Donations Burned

As survivors of Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ struggled to find permanent shelter, the Aquino government failed to release ₱20 billion allocated for 2016 for housing assistance to typhoon victims, according to data released by a senator as the country marked the third year when the storm devastated Eastern and Central Visayas.

Senator Loren Legarda said Congress allocated ₱25.6 billion housing assistance for Yolanda victims under the 2016 budget of the National Housing Authority (NHA) but the government had not released ₱20.7 billion as of June this year.

“In light of the commemoration of Yolanda anniversary, allow me first to put on record that we have allocated ₱25.6 billion housing assistance for victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda under the 2016 budget of the National Housing Authority (NHA). Unreleased funds as of June 2016 is ₱20.7 billion,” Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said in a speech on Monday.

At least four container vans of donated goods intended for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013 were destroyed by the Bureau of Customs yesterday after several years of being abandoned.

The Bureau of Customs has burned donations intended for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda after these were declared abandoned.

The items – used clothing, diapers, soaps, shampoos, and medical supplies – were supposed to be donated in 2014 but the donors and consignees reportedly did not get an exemption for payment of taxes and duties, among others, from the Department of Finance, which is essential for the shipment to be released.

Considering the shipment arrived in Cebu in 2014 yet, some of the canned goods were already expired upon inspection.

Cruz said the shipment, loaded in four container vans, arrived in January 2014 but the consignees were not able to process its release because they were not able to pay the charges for storage and demurrage.

7. 'Weird' ₱295-million PNR Toilet project

The Commission on Audit has reiterated its 2016 findings on the unfinished Kayo ang Boss Ko (KBK) Toilet Facilities Improvement project that cost the government more than ₱295 million as no inventory has yet to be made by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

In the past days, a photo of a restroom at a station of the Philippine National Railways which had three "weird" unpartitioned toilet bowls has been widely circulated on social networks and talked about among Filipino internet users.

A picture showing a public bathroom without dividers taken from one of the stations of the Philippine National Railway drew flak online. | Photo Credit: Ehm Diolata/Facebook

The COA further said the DOTr-Project Management Unit turned over only four of the 45 memoranda of agreement as of February 22, 2018, while the remaining 41 "remained unacted by the recipients."

It added the same findings were already reported in the 2015 and 2014 audit reports.

The toilet project of DOTr came to public attention recently following a viral photo on Facebook showing no partitions in the comfort rooms of Philippine National Railway (PNR) stations. Based on data from GMA News Research, the government launched the KBK project in 2012 for the construction of more than 1,000 toilets for the DOTr and its attached agencies.

It had a total cost of ₱295.857 million, according to the audit report.

READ: Here are the Excuses Why the Yellow Admin Did Not Clean Manila Bay & Proof the Duterte Effect is Real!

8. "Laglag Bala" in NAIA

In September 2015, reports of passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila being accosted and fined for possessing bullet ammunition began to receive attention from the public and later both the local and international press. These incidents were alleged to be part of a "bullet planting" scheme (locally known as laglag-bala [drop bullet] or tanim bala [plant bullet]) done by airport security personnel as a means of extortion.

As of 5 November, at least thirty cases of the scheme were recorded in 2015, according to the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP), with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) recording only five such incidents.

Multiple instances of apprehending the passengers at NAIA for allegedly bringing the bullets started in late 2015.

In some instances, if the passengers were arrested, they would refuse to pay any penalties because they denied bringing the bullet.

The passengers are later freed if they sign the logbook. The bullet planting scheme also targets passengers as old as 60 years old. Few days before the APEC Philippines 2015, a seaman bound for San Francisco was arrested after a 9mm bullet was found in his baggage. The seaman was charged, but doubted that it was planted by someone he bumped into.

In early November 2015, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the Department of Transportation and Communications to conduct an investigation of the alleged scheme. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) later confirmed that an extortion syndicate is behind the bullet planting scheme, based on their initial findings.

According to the NBI's investigation, some porters are involved in identifying potential victims of the bullet planting scam. Allegedly, airport officials in the security and immigration services present in the four terminals of the airport pursue target victims after their identification by porters. Usual victims were found to be the elderly and "overseas Filipino workers" (OFWs).

9. ₱7.8 Million Flagpole

₱7.8 million pesos for a flag pole? This has been the outrageous question that netizens have been asking since the project was discovered during the Million People March last August 26, 2013.

News reports and social media have been in disbelief due to the cost of this project. As engineers ourselves we had to ask ourselves if this price is realistic or not. Our first article will be to provide the logical facts about this project. Comments are greatly encouraged.

First is the back story of this project. This flag pole project is part of the “Beautification of Rizal Park” project proposed back in 2011.

Under this project would include the following
  1. Senior Citizen’s Garden
  2. Restoration of Pedestrian Lanes
  3. Restoration of Auditorium
This project is done purposely to commemorate the 150th death anniversary of our national Hero Dr. Jose Rizal, namesake of the park itself. And as such, the old 105 ft flagpole was changed to a 150 ft one. 150th anniversary, 150 ft. We just wonder if it will ever reach a thousand feet?

10. ₱12 Million Wooden Footbridge on Stilts

Social media users did not mince words as they poked fun at the Zamboanga mishap on Thursday that sent government officials to murky waters after a portion of the bridge in a housing project site suddenly collapsed.

Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco-Salazar, House Reps. Albee Benitez (Negros Occidental) and Celso Lobregat (Zamboanga City) and other officials were inspecting houses on stilts when the makeshift wooden footbridge they were walking on suddenly collapsed.

The incident provided local officials, including members of the National Housing Authority, evidence of a shoddy government project in Barangay Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City whose residents were those displaced by the 2013 siege.

Aside from this, Benitez bared that the housing on stilts that they were investigating cost only ₱20,000 less than concrete housing units.

"Ordinarily, yung isang housing unit na tinatayo ng NHA sa lupa na semento umaabot ng ₱240,000 per unit. Dito sa house on stilts na ininspection natin, ang cost niya ay ₱220,000. Mas mura lang nang ₱20,000," he said.

The houses on stilts were intended for the Badjao community living in the area, who traditionally preferred their houses built along the seawall.

Many Filipinos on social media deemed it a slap over supposed pocketing of funds of housing projects.

11. Porkbarrel Scam

Scams involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was "in view of the new evidences discovered."

In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted authorities to look again into the multi-billion-peso PDAF scam.

PDAF, also known as "pork barrel," was money allocated in the national budget that could be spent at the discretion of lawmakers.

The Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in November 2013 because it encroached on the duty of the Executive branch to enact the national budget, where around ₱25 billion was earmarked in 2013 for pork barrel.

The fund came into public scrutiny when the pork barrel scam was uncovered in July 2013 by media investigative reports, which found that lawmakers allegedly funded "ghost projects" with their PDAF, coursing the money through fake foundations and non-government organizations run reportedly by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

An estimated ₱10 billion in government funds were allegedly lost from the scam, with the money supposedly going into the pockets of Napoles and some lawmakers.

The Sandiganbayan ordered in 2014 the arrests of former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla in relation to the scam, while Napoles surrendered to former President Benigno Aquino III in August 2013 after a Makati court ordered her arrest for an illegal detention charge. Numerous other lawmakers have also been tagged in the scam.

12. Manipulation of PCOS Machines during Election

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) together with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Counter Terrorism Unit entrapped two people who claimed to have expertise in manipulating the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

The suspects, Hadji Omar Masiding and Sultan Pundatoon Bagul, were arrested in a hotel in Manila City after the NBI conducted an entrapment operation. The marked money came from Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes himself.

NBI Special Investigator Nelson Moreno said the complainant, Simunil, Tawi-Tawi mayoralty candidate Abdulsalam Hadji Harun, approached the NBI for help after the suspects allegedly introduced themselves as engineers of Smartmatic and offered their services to ensure his win in May in exchange for P5 million.

"May initial payment daw na ₱2.5 million and the remaining balance after proclamation na as Mayor," Moreno said. The NBI nor the Comelec, however, have no information yet on how the suspects can actually manipulate the counting machines. 

Brillantes said this is a clear swindling attempt for a service which is impossible to do. "PCOS machines cannot be manipulated,” he claimed.

"Anybody representing that they can manipulate it, talagang swindler ito,” he added. 
He said he has been receiving reports that a syndicate have started to lure candidates, especially those in the suburbs. “Pumupunta sila sa maliliit na municipalities sa Mindanao o kaya sa Visayas.”

The amount being asked by the syndicate can reach as high as ₱50 million each for a district representative or gubernatorial candidate, Brillantes said. The NBI has filed charges of estafa against the two suspects, as well as another case of usurpation of authority. The suspects are now in the custody of the NBI pending their arraignment and formal trial.

13. Bilibid Drug Probe: Docu shows inmate's photos with de Lima, 'President'

The congressional inquiry into the alleged New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) drug trade kicked off Tuesday with a documentary showing an inmate's supposed photos with former President Benigno Aquino III, and former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima.

High-profile inmates and drug lords paid then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima millions of pesos to allow them to bring in illegal drugs and other contraband items inside the New Bilibid Prison, witnesses told a House probe Tuesday.

Convicted robber Herbert Colanggo said drug lord Jaybee Sebastian approached him in January 2014 asking him to engage into drug pushing in order to raise funds for De Lima's senatorial bid in the May 2016 elections.

He said he gave De Lima ₱3 million monthly.

This came in exchange of perks. Colanggo was allowed to bring in to the penitentiary truckloads of beer and hundreds of guests for the concerts he held.

He said he also has golf carts and a hotel right inside the maximum security compound, complete with air-conditioned bedrooms and shower.

"Ang maximum po ay ginawa ko talaga na parang Roxas Boulevard [I turned the maximum into a Roxas Boulevard]," Colanggo said.

He also clarified his real surname is Colanggo although he opted to use Colangco as well because he has been known as such already.

14. ₱3.8-B trains unfit for MRT under Aquino admin

Transport officials in the Aquino administration must pay and face trial over the purchase of 48 coaches worth ₱3.8 billion that turned out to be not suitable for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 system, Sen. Grace Poe demanded yesterday.

“Dapat talaga pagbayaran nila yan. Dapat magkaroon ng kaso (They should pay for it. Charges must be filed),” Poe said as she vowed to file a resolution when the Senate resumes its regular session starting Tuesday for a full-dressed probe into the anomaly.

As chairwoman of the Senate Public Services Committee, Poe said she and even the current Department of Transportation (DoTr) officials, led by Secretary Arthur Tugade, were caught flatfooted by this anomaly.

But they could not be installed because the signaling system of the China made trains is not in order.
Reports quoted Tugade as saying he did not know that the signaling system of the Dalian trains are not in sync with current signaling system in place at the MRT 3 system.

Thus, a big letdown not only for Poe, but also for the Duterte administration. She stressed that these audit bodies “must not hide the truth.”

The problem at the MRT began when the Aquino administration severed its maintenance contract with Sumitomo, a Japanese firm, all because its fee is reportedly high.

Past administration officials then bid out the maintenance contracts to some firms whose technical problems were also questioned.

They learned too late that a low-cost maintenance contract does not automatically ensure efficient running of the trains.
“Yan ang isa pang malaking kasalanan na kung sino man ang nag-apruba niyan ay dapat managot,” she said of the Dalian train contract. (Whoever approved that Dalian train contract must face the music.)

15. ₱1.89-Billion Mahindra Police Patrol Car Corruption

COA flags the PNP's purchase of 2,054 Mahindra vehicles in 2015. The PNP completely blames the DBM despite taking an active role in the procurement.

It was the vehicle brand of the top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the brand of patrol cars used by operatives in key police stations across the country.

MULTIMILLION PURCHASE. The PNP bought ₱1.89-billion Mahindra vehicles from Columbian Autocar Corporation. PNP photos

Now it is a brand, in the PNP at least, associated with awry procurement practices.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has sounded the alarm on the PNP for purchasing in 2015 over 2,000 Mahindra patrol vehicles worth P1.89 billion without going through important steps in procurement so that taxpayers’ money could be used for the best.

The first in March 2015 by the PNP through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget Management (PS-DBM), purchasing ₱1.54-billion 1,656 Mahindra Enforcers—patrol vehicles intended for police stations nationwide.

The second was done in December 2015 by the PNP on its own, buying ₱349-million 398 Mahindra Scorpios—SUVs intended for ranking PNP officers.

Former Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas has denied irregularities in the procurement of Mahindra vehicles. File photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

Months later, the PNP would still purchase the higher-end Mahindra Scorpios, with the same supplier winning in the bidding process.

The vehicles are easy to spot, especially inside and around Camp Crame, standing out as the square and compact white cars usually attached with patrol lights.

16. Police Service Arm Controversy

Twenty-two police officers, including axed Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent James Melad and the controversial Superintendent Hansel Marantan, were placed under restrictive custody for violating the standard police operating procedures in the Quezon 'shootout'.

Aside from Melad and Marantan, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima placed under restrictive custody Senior Superintendent Valeriano De Leon, head of the Quezon police office, and the members of the Atimonan police.

In view of these findings, I approved the recommendation of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) to formally charge the PNP personnel who took part in the Atimonan checkpoint, said Purisima in yesterday's briefing in Camp Crame.

Although the police officers have been placed under restrictive custody, Purisima clarified that he was still waiting for the approval of President Aquino on the filing of administrative sanctions against Melad and de Leon, considering their ranks.

"I have also approved the recommendation of the IAS to secure presidential clearance for the conduct of pre-charge investigation against Melad and De Leon under the principle of command responsibility," Purisima said.

17. ₱15.7-billion Philippine Navy Frigate Controversy 

On February 3, 2018, Malacañang said it is high time to determine the Aquino administration's liability over the controversial ₱15.7-billion frigate acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said President Rodrigo Duterte's office would investigate the questionable warship deal with winning bidder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) after the South Korean firm was reported banned by Seoul from participating in state-led bids for two years.

Malacañang's impending probe stemmed from Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano's call on Congress to look into the frigate acquisition agreement between the Philippine Navy and South Korean-based HHI.

"The President is getting exhausted to defend the contract entered into by the past administration," Roque told reporters in Ilocos Norte.

18. LTO Plates Delayed by YEARS

The chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, has something positive to share: there is finally some progress for the vehicle plate backlog covering 2013 to June 30, 2016. 

The previously penned contract covers the latter half of former President Aquino's administration was marred by controversy and legal impediments, and pre-dates Galvante’s term as head of the LTO. 

Under the Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program of 2013, a ₱3.85 billlion plate supply contract was awarded to JKG-PPIwhich covers approximately 5,236,439 motor vehicles and approximately 9,968,017 motorcycles.

The consortium has so far delivered plates for nearly 4 million vehicles, leaving 11 million either “plateless” new cars/motorcycles or existing vehicles without replacement plates already payed for with amounts of ₱450 for motor vehicle owners, and ₱150 for motorcycle owners.

The nearly 600,000 plates initially confiscated by the Bureau of Customs and turned over to the LTO, are so far being distributed as well. Further addressing the plate backlog.

To address the vehicle plates problem from July 1, 2016 onwards, DOTr Secretary Art Tugade authorized in late 2017, the production and purchase of equipment to manufacture license plates.

This contract was won by a joint venture of Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corporation and JH Tonnjes E.A.S.T. GmbH.

The German-backed manufacturer would initially produce the new license plates locally with imported materials, and turn over the modern plate making equipment to the LTO by December 2018.

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