FACES OF THE NEWS: Jan. 13, 2019
Silvestre Bello III
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III called out the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) for violating its own mandate when one of its commissioners prematurely disclosed that he and two other Cabinet members were being investigated for alleged corruption.
Bello, said the PACC, was supposedly in on the P6.8-million extortion of Azizzah International Manpower Services, which his former undersecretary Dominador Say was embroiled in last year.
Bello said he was neither provided a copy of the complaint nor given the opportunity to respond.
He denied any wrongdoing and challenged his accusers to file a case against him in the Office of the Ombudsman if they indeed have strong evidence to support their allegations.
Former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch manager Maia Deguito was found guilty of money laundering by a Makati court last week for her role in facilitating the entry and eventual disappearance in the Philippine financial system of $81 million in funds stolen by hackers from the Bangladeshi central bank in 2016.
Deguito was the manager of RCBC’s Jupiter Street branch where the funds were deposited into four accounts in the name of fictitious persons, before being transferred to various casinos.
Deguito’s claim that she was acting on orders of the bank’s president to facilitate the transactions was dismissed by the court.
Her lawyers said they would appeal the ruling that also ordered Deguito to pay a fine of $109 million.
World War II veterans
The country’s wartime heroes who fought Japanese invaders during World War II are in their 90s, and have gone down in number from 350,000 veterans after 1945 to 5,000 surviving Filipino warriors as of January.
Beginning this month, they are entitled to a P20,000 old-age monthly pension, up from their measly P5,000 pension, after President Rodrigo Duterte signed a new pension law last week.
Some of the heroes received the good news as they were rolled in in wheelchairs to attend the 74th Lingayen Gulf Landings anniversary and the 12th Pangasinan Veterans’ Day celebration in Lingayen town on Jan. 9.
Pangasinan is home to 217 World War II veterans, eight of whom turned a century old, or older.
Darren Criss, 31, celebrated a career milestone early this week when he won over seasoned actors Antonio Banderas, Hugh Grant and Benedict Cumberbatch in the best performance by an actor in a limited series category at the 76th edition of the Golden Globes.
Criss won the coveted plum for essaying the role of killer Andrew Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”
The actor became the first Fil-Am to receive the prestigious award.
He dedicated his triumph to his Filipino mother, whom he described in his acceptance speech as “a firecracker Filipino woman from Cebu.”
Criss first gained attention as Harry Potter in a musical and as a regular in the popular musical TV series, “Glee.”
Despite his initial threats to use his emergency powers to bypass Congress and get funds from other sources for the border wall with Mexico, US President Donald Trump had to pull back at the last minute on the advice of fellow Republicans.
That call should be reserved for the “most extreme circumstances” as it could set a dangerous precedent and lead to legal issues, White House aides told him.
As the government shutdown enters its fourth week, Trump betrayed frustration over his bid to include the $5.7-billion funding for the wall in the national budget that Congress has refused to pass.
But Trump seems more concerned with the optics involved, say observers: He’s digging in because he doesn’t want to appear weak.
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