Faces of the news
Benigno Simeon Aquino III
Since stepping down from Malacañang in June 2016, he has withdrawn from public view, except for some rare public appearances, and mostly kept to himself. But the past has a way of catching up. The former President now faces the prospect of standing trial over the January 2015 Mamasapano debacle in Maguindanao, a predawn operation that took down a Malaysian terrorist, but cost the lives of 44 police commandos. The Ombudsman has charged him with usurpation of authority, as well as graft and corruption in the Sandiganbayan. The charges stemmed from Aquino’s decision to allow then Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima to oversee the counterterrorism operation, “Oplan Exodus,” even though the latter had been suspended by the Ombudsman over an anomalous arms deal.
By now Dionisio Santiago has realized that crossing your boss in public, especially if he is the President of the Republic, can be costly. It has cost him his job as chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board. Over a week after he candidly told a TV public affairs show that a 10,000-bed drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija, now serving only 400 drug users, was a mistake, he got a call from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea telling him to resign on President Duterte’s orders. “My rule is the boss is always right,” the former military chief said. Mr. Duterte admitted he was offended by his “incongruous statement,” saying Santiago should have talked to him instead of blabbering in public. Santiago’s predecessor, Benjamin Reyes, was forced to quit for disputing Mr. Duterte’s figures on the number of drug suspects.
Medical physicist Karen Ibasco became the first scientist to win the Miss Earth crown on Nov. 4 at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Ibasco, the fourth Filipino woman to receive the distinction, graduated cum laude from University of Santo Tomas. The 26-year-old mathematics teacher impressed the judges during the question-and-answer round of the competition, when she was asked “Who or what is the biggest enemy of Mother Earth?” She replied: “I believe that the real problem in this world is not climate change. The real problem is us, because of our ignorance and apathy. What we have to do is to start changing our ways, to start recalibrating our minds and redirecting our steps because together, as a global community, our microefforts will have a macroeffect to help save our home, our planet.”
Actress Teresita “Winwyn” Ssen Marquez, daughter of actors Alma Moreno and Joey Marquez, made history in Bolivia as the first Asian to be proclaimed Reina Hispanoamericana on Nov. 4 (Nov. 5 in Manila). In the final round, she said “Language can be learned. But the will and determination to contribute to the organization cannot. It has to come from the heart. It has to be natural. I believe that kindness is a universal language. If you treat people with patience, tolerance and love, you will understand each other. The Hispanic culture is not about language only. It’s about love for God, love for country, love of history and culture, and love for family. And as a Filipina with a unique heritage, I have instilled that I am ready to promote the Hispanic culture not just in Asia but in the whole world.”
Why get fined for doing good? That’s the question many asked when the Philippine Superliga (PSL) slapped volleyball star Grethcel Soltones a one-year suspension and a P50,000 fine for playing in a charity match. The likely answer: sports politics. The three-time NCAA Most Valuable Player saw action in an exhibition match organized by the Premier Volleyball League—the PSL’s rival league—to raise scholarship funds for the orphans of fallen soldiers. But the PSL decided to ban Soltones, citing a league rule that players under contract cannot play in an unsanctioned match outside the league. Team Iriga filed an appeal, noting that the former San Sebastian star has yet to sign a contract. But the PSL voted unanimously to uphold the decision. Minus the contract, it remains unclear who should pay for Soltones’ fine.
Taking charge when it mattered, Robert Bolick powered the San Beda Red Lions within a win of another NCAA men’s basketball championship. And the stalwart guard did it against no less than the Lyceum Pirates, the No. 1 seed who jumped straight to the finals after an 18-0 sweep of the eliminations. Bolick unloaded nine straight points inside the last two minutes as the Red Lions rallied past the Pirates, 94-87, in Game 1 of the best-of-three title series. Fighting off fatigue, Bolick fired 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. A layup with 35 seconds left capped his clutch performance as the Red Lions completed a comeback from 12 points down.“I was already tired,” the 6-foot-1 veteran admitted. “All I could do was shout because I was trying to find a motivation. I know we can’t let this game go.”
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