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Sunday, May 26, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: Tomas's business plan on Angkas; Estelito Mendoza was the lawyer who sprung Revilla out of jail

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PEOPLE are talking about...

* THE PORK BARREL SCANDAL getting "curioser" and "curioser" -- from the principals to the amounts involved to the role of the Department of Budget and Management, topped by the House resolution asking for the DBM chief's resignation. Maybe the holiday break for the House will cool things off.

* LOCAL CAMPAIGN has not yet started, if one considers as benchmark the exchange of charges between the rival camps BOPK and Barug. None so far. It has been awfully quiet. Each group is doing the usual "pulong-pulongs" but media is not covering them.

Would app owners agree?

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña wanted to take over operations of Angkas and act as "dispatchers" of the motorcycles. By doing so, drivers would get their earnings 100 per cent, with nothing going to the city.

It was not clear if the mayor would have the city go into business, the transport business, for that is what it is. It has been a rich source of income to those who set it up; they get 20 per cent of what each driver earns. That's one reason they're fighting the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The app owners are concerned not just about the livelihood of the drivers but also their profit from dispatching.

It's not likely that the present dispatchers will give up their rights to the app to the city as long as Angkas right to operate is upheld. How about "franchising" to the city? Maybe but what the heck should the City Government engage in private enterprise, especially when its legality is still dubious since the law bans its operation?

The mayor's efforts to help though may strike a chord among the drivers and their families, most of whom must be Cebu City voters. Angkas fits in with his strategy of reaching out and connecting with bulk voters.

Principal issue

The legal battle over Angkas is still to heat up some more. What the Supreme Court issued December 5 (announced last Wednesday, December 13) was a temporary restraining order (TRO) that granted the petition of the Department of Transportation and LTFRB, the franchising and regulatory board that stopped the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court order allowing Angkas to resume operations. Angkas reopened last September after its shutdown starting November 2017.

The principal issue is whether the motorcycle-for-hire public transport business is legal. But the app owners may open a second front: in Congress, where the law could be changed.

Angkas claims 25,000 bikers are engaged in the business. The number of those in Cebu has not been determined or disclosed.

Revilla still in rumor circuit

Because it's still hot topic among those watching what's going on, on such things as these:

* Estelito Mendoza, lawyer of Bong Revilla, whose name did not appear in stories about the senator's acquittal of plunder by the Sandiganbayan, showed up at Bong's press conference Wednesday (December 12). The Estelito Mendoza who is so "malakas" with justices and judges that one time he reportedly reopened a Supreme Court case by writing a note to some justices. Could be apocryphal, maybe just to illustrate his clout.

Well, Mendoza showed once again his prowess as a lawyer. He sprung from jail a senator accused of plunder. To skeptics about the justice system, he was the reason Bong walked.

You know what, Mendoza called then ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales "trigger happy na mag-file ng plunder" during her time. He also belittled the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council that Revilla and his family deposited at least P87.5 million into their bank accounts. Which the two dissenting opinions in the Revilla case cited extensively. No freeze order was issued, so AMLC must not have considered it as evidence of plunder. Just as Revilla's silence on those deposits must have meant he could not explain it.

* What's the difference between "there was absolutely no proof beyond reasonable doubt" against Revilla and "failure to prove beyond reasonable doubt" the guilt of Revilla?

Former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the first says Bong was innocent while the second does not say he is. Hairsplitting as the result is the same. And people don't ask which kind of acquittal Revilla got and Revilla won't bother to make a distinction. He was acquitted, period, and he is now out of jail.

***

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