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Faces of the news

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Faces of the news

/ 07:06 AM August 13, 2017

Andres and Patricia Bautista

For several days last week we were riveted by a real-life drama that first came out on the front page of this paper, and then played out on prime-time news and on the front pages. Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista was swept up in a firestorm after his wife, Patricia, came out publicly with allegations that he had amassed close to P1 billion in unexplained wealth. Hogwash, he said. It’s all part of his wife’s attempt to “extort” from him. They had been estranged since 2013 when she started seeing someone, a charge she denied, but continued to live together in the same condominium unit with their four young sons. And since then, she had wanted out of their marriage, and sought a settlement. Patricia indicated this was imbued with public interest as she produced her husband’s bank passbooks and other documents to prove that he had monies and pieces of property that he supposedly failed to declare in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. She further alleged that he received commissions for referring companies to a law firm. Patricia was asking for P620-million settlement, but her husband found it too staggering. Even President Duterte got involved, summoning them to a meeting in Malacañang and advising them to sort it out between themselves. Mr. Duterte even asked him to raise his initial offer to his wife. Bautista thought it was settled until Patricia aired her allegations. She has since filed an affidavit with the National Bureau of Investigation. He has sued her for extortion, among other charges. There’s no turning back. For years, he had kept his peace for the sake of their sons. She said the “Universe will take care of them.”

Mark Ruben Taguba

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Just by dropping their names in the House of Representatives’ marathon hearings, customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba’s testimony has already led two top Bureau of Customs officials to resign in the past week. Asked on Monday to name which officials receive “tara” (grease money), Taguba pointed to Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Neil Estrella and Import Assessment Service Director Milo Maestrecampo. The two denied the allegation and told lawmakers during the Monday and Wednesday hearings, respectively, that they would resign. Taguba even dragged presidential son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte in the Monday hearing, saying some of the purported bagmen linked him to a so-called “Davao Group.” Yet, he disclaimed that was just a rumor. His credibility has been questioned by lawmakers.

Rex Tillerson

When the visiting US Secretary of State stepped inside Malacañang this week, he was greeted by warm words from President Duterte. “I am happy to see you,” Mr. Duterte told Tillerson, pointing out that the meeting was happening amid the Korean peninsula tension and the “nagging problem” of South China Sea. “I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia.” Emerging from their meeting that lasted for more than an hour, Mr. Duterte declined to go into specifics. A senior aide said Tillerson offered US help in the war on drugs, if Mr. Duterte would change tactics. The response was cordial but noncommittal, according to reports quoting US senior officials. “Mr. President, we are all aware of the American people’s criticism of you and your handling of drug cartels,” Tillerson told Mr. Duterte.

Wang Yi

The Chinese foreign minister sounded confident at the close of the 50th Asean ministerial meeting in Manila this week. The bloc issued a final joint communiqué calling for “nonmilitarization” and “self-restraint” in the South China Sea. It turned out the Philippines and Cambodia argued for dropping the terms, but they were overruled. Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano admitted as much. “It’s not reflective of the present positions. They’re not reclaiming land anymore,” Cayetano said. It jibed with Wang Yi’s claim that China was no longer engaged in any reclamation. Days later, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies released satellite photos dated Aug. 5 showing Chinese reclamation work on Paracel Islands, both claimed by China and Vietnam.

Usain Bolt

The crowd showered the bronze medalist with deafening cheers and applause. Quite a rare sight, but understandable when the third placer happened to be Usain Bolt. Hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time, Bolt’s farewell tour in the World Championships in London didn’t turn out as planned. But the crowd adored him just the same. “I’m just disappointed I couldn’t do better for (the fans), but that’s how it goes sometimes,” said the 6-foot-5 superstar. “The support has been outstanding throughout the years.” Bolt—who, at 30, found it the perfect time to retire—finished behind Americans Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman in his final 100m race. The charismatic Jamaican sprinter also skipped the 200m event in his going-away party, which threw wide open the sport’s search for a new sprint star.

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