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NEWSMAKERS: Sept. 9, 2018

/ 07:00 AM September 09, 2018

Menardo Guevarra

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was handed what could be his most challenging orders from President Rodrigo Duterte to date, as designated caretaker while the President was away this week for official visits to Israel and Jordan.

Guevarra, who was just five months on the job, said he was given a copy of Proclamation No. 572 by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, as the presidential party was about to leave.

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“I thought: ‘I’m dead this week. This will be explosive,” he said, referring to the President’s order voiding the amnesty granted to his fierce critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Even as he did his job justifying the President’s order to arrest Trillanes and revive the criminal and  court martial cases against him, Guevarra stressed that he had no hand in crafting the proclamation.

“I’ve just about had it with proclamations,” he quipped on Friday, saying he might be suffering from “caretaker phobia.”

The first time it happened was when he was ordered to draft Presidential Proclamation No. 216 placing the whole of Mindanao under martial law in response to the Marawi City siege.

Paulo Avelino

Actor Paulo Avelino admitted that he was no history buff prior to accepting the role of revolutionary hero Gregorio del Pilar in Jerrold Tarog’s “Heneral Luna” three years ago.

So when the follow-up to the hit historical epic, Tarog’s “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral,” was green-lighted, Avelino knew he had to dig deeper to uncover the man behind the revolutionary hero.

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“I did research on my own and read books suggested by Direk Jerrold,” the actor recalled as he prepared for the part.

He also attended a lecture given by historian Ambeth Ocampo.

“When we read history books, we learn how heroes died, but we don’t find out how they lived. We don’t study what they had to go through,” he explained.

In his inquiry, he also learned that Goyo was a “lover boy,” that the icon had the same dilemmas as any millennial.

“Today’s youth should realize that heroes are humans, too,” he said.

“Like us, they also struggled with their responsibilities. I hope viewers would come out of ‘Goyo’ with a deeper understanding of our idols.”

Jason Aquino

National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino said he would continue to lead the grains agency as long as he had the “confidence and trust” of President Rodrigo Duterte, even as calls for his resignation and the abolition of the agency have resounded from various lawmakers and industry groups.

The former military man is currently facing a graft complaint for allegedly diverting a part of NFA’s funds to pay for the agency’s loans — although the money was intended to buy local palay.

He’s also being blamed for tolerating “incompetence and corruption” in the agency, which led to rice prices spiking to new heights.

And while the NFA has been importing rice to address the problem, the shipments were found to be infested with weevil.

Despite these circumstances, Aquino remains on the good side of the President, and that seems to be enough for him to keep his seat — at least for now.

The hard-pressed consumer

For consumers, what does the nine-year high inflation rate of 6.4 percent in August mean?

It means that for every P100 spent on food, clothing and other necessities a year ago, consumers must now shell out P106.40.

Rice prices, too, have shot up due to an “artificial” supply shortage of the staple food.

Oil prices also jumped in line with movements in the global market.

Consumers have been scrimping as well on purchases of fish, meat and vegetables, whose prices leaped to almost double in both the wet market and supermarkets.

It does not help that the jeepney fare rose by P1 in July, while prices of “sin” products like cigarettes and alcoholic drinks increased due to additional excise taxes.

Consumers from the middle class have actually enjoyed a bigger take-home pay, thanks to the new tax reform law, which the Department of Finance has said granted a total of P12 billion in additional income to individual taxpayers.

But higher consumer prices have just as quickly emptied pockets and wallets, making all that extra cash from reduced taxes all for naught.

Jeff Bezos

The online retailer Amazon became the second publicly listed trillion-dollar company in the United States on Sept. 4 after its stock price more than doubled in a year as it grew rapidly in retail and cloud computing.

It is now on track to overtake iPhone maker Apple, which reached $1 trillion on Aug. 2.

For Amazon founder and world’s richest person Jeff Bezos, that means a net worth of $168 billion.

At this time last year, Bezos was already worth an estimated $84 billion, compared to the $85 billion of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

And Amazon shares continue to rise, growing Bezos’ wealth at the rate of $260 million per day in 2018.

If that pace keeps up, Bezos’ fortune will be just slightly under $200 billion at year’s end, while the average American household makes about $73,000 a year.

It’s no wonder that US presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders now wants to pass “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act” (or Stop BEZOS Act) that would make big US companies pay an excise tax to reimburse the government for the cost of the federal benefits their workers receive.

Colin Kaepernick

They’re burning sneakers and tearing out Swoosh logos because of him. Colin Kaepernick, out of a job in the National Football League (NFL), made headlines after he was unveiled as Nike’s new face in its highly successful “Just Do It” campaign.

Kaepernick first became the eye of a stormy controversy when he knelt down during the playing of the US national anthem before the start of football games.

Kaepernick was protesting the rash of police brutalities against African-Americans.

The gesture turned Kaepernick into a pariah of sorts in the NFL, with teams refusing to deal with him after he opted for free agency.

Kaepernick has since sued the NFL, alleging a conspiracy among team owners to keep him out of the league.

Nike used that backstory to highlight their latest marketing campaign, which includes the tagline “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Rightists have condemned Nike for their choice of Kaepernick, signifying their opposition by burning Nike sneakers and unstitching the patented Swoosh logo from their apparel.

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TAGS: Colin Kaepernick, Jason Aquino, jeff bezos, Menardo Guevarra, newsmakers, Paulo Avelino
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