Faces of the News: Oct. 28, 2018
Martin Delgra III and Aileen Lizada
Tensions within the ranks of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) spilled into public view this week as the agency struggled to temper transport fares amid unbridled fuel price hikes.
At the epicenter of the conflict are LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra III and board member Aileen Lizada who have often clashed on major decisions affecting the riding public.
Their latest feud was sparked by an Oct. 17 LTFRB decision to increase the minimum fares of both jeepneys and buses by P2 and P1, respectively.
By approving the hikes, Lizada said, the board effectively ignored a warning from the National Economic and Development Authority that any increase could worsen the already record-high inflation rate.
Delgra, meanwhile, argued that the decision was a delicate compromise between the riding public’s interest and that of the drivers of public utility vehicles.
As if the animosity wasn’t toxic enough, three of Delgra’s staff members filed on Sept. 27 several complaints against Lizada over an incident involving the approval of a fare hike order for Western Visayas.
The order was signed only by Delgra and another board member, and was announced as “approved” even without Lizada’s signature.
Claiming that Delgra’s staff had bypassed her authority by conspiring to rush the order’s approval on July 30, when it was still awaiting her signature, Lizada sued the three for insubordination, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.
The staff members countered with a complaint, also at the Ombudsman, accusing Lizada of malicious mischief, oral defamation, intriguing against honor, abuse of authority and grave misconduct.
It was against this backdrop that the Department of Transportation confirmed that they were scouting for a new spokesperson who could provide a unifying voice for the beleaguered board.
Against the advice of people close to her and of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña for her to “toe the line,” the deputy customs collector assigned at Ninoy Aquino International Airport testified in Congress that the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite province had contained contraband.
Over the last few days, she alleged that Lapeña, her boss, was involved in a cover-up of the smuggling of an estimated P11 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth).
Mangaoang referred to a document that indicated the Bureau of Customs (BOC) had known of plans to slip in the illegal drugs at least two months prior to the incident.
With Lapeña on his way out at the bureau, Mangaoang expressed relief that the BOC could turn a “new chapter.”
Getting her boss out of the BOC was not her objective, she said, while acknowledging that she knew this was going to be the consequence of her speaking out.
Ryan Cayabyab, the maestro behind many popular and game-changing original Pilipino music (OPM) was finally honored as one of the country’s latest batch of national artists.
The campaign to give Cayabyab the recognition started several years ago, riding on the general sentiment that he should be honored for his contribution to OPM and the local music industry.
Cayabyab is a composer, arranger and musical director whom the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) recognized for his “learned, skillful and versatile musical style” that encompasses different genres, from symphonic work to mainstream popular music.
He has also been a mentor to many of the country’s finest musicians.
A longtime household name, his works “reflect a perspective of music that extols the exuberance of life and human happiness, thus capturing the very essence of our Filipino soul,” said the NCCA.
Mohammed bin Salman
When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was named successor to King Salman last year, the 33-year-old royal immediately undertook a number of reforms, including restrictions on the religious police and lifting some stifling rules for women.
But while Saudis welcomed his Vision 2030 economic program as a step toward a bright future, the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey changed all that.
People are now questioning the prince’s fitness to rule Saudi Arabia, an issue that could ripple across the globe, since the kingdom is crucial to securing the world’s oil supply.
Governments are already struggling to encourage a Saudi policy more attuned to human values and the rule of law.
So far, Prince Mohammed’s position appears to be secure, but his reforms now face a serious credibility problem.