FACES OF THE NEWS: March 24, 2019
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern impressed the world the past week as she displayed the qualities that fueled her stellar rise to become, at 38, the world’s youngest female head of state.
Ardern has been widely praised for her handling of the Christchurch tragedy where 50 lives were lost when a racist Australian man rampaged through two mosques and gunned down Muslims on their day of worship.
She swiftly denounced the shooting as terrorism, announced a ban on assault rifles and wore a hijab on two occasions to mourn with the victims’ families.
She led 20,000 New Zealanders in prayer after a Muslim call to worship broadcast nationwide on Friday.
She also rebuked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for trying to politicize the Christchurch massacre for campaign purposes.
A chastened Erdogan responded with an opinion piece in The Washington Post, urging leaders “to learn from the courage, leadership and sincerity of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, [and] to embrace Muslims living in their respective countries.”
Ferdinand dela Cruz
The president and chief executive officer of Manila Water said he was willing to take the fall to appease a public thirsty for water and hungry for blood, except that his resignation would not suddenly make household taps flow with the life-sustaining liquid.
But Dela Cruz became the face of decades of lack of planning and political will to implement crucial projects that would ensure a steady supply of water for the Metro’s growing population.
The water crisis also brought to fore the controversial plan to construct Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province, using loans from China despite what many describe as a better deal offered by Japan.
As of Friday, Manila Water has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the proponent of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply project to undertake what both parties said was the most immediate solution to the current water shortage.
Wawa Dam in Rizal province was expected to produce 520 million liters per day, while Kaliwa Dam, which may take longer to build, can provide 600 MLD.
Albert del Rosario and Conchita Carpio Morales
Two days before the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) took effect, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and ex-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, along with a group of Filipino fishermen, filed a communication calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Chinese President Xi Jinping for crimes against humanity.
The complaint pertained to Chinese enforcers continuing to bar Filipinos from fishing near the islands reclaimed by China in the West Philippine Sea and the damage on the marine environment caused by the reclamations.
The complainants said these alleged crimes “involve massive, near-permanent and devastating environmental damage across nations.”
Said Morales: “We want to check impunity [so it will serve] as a deterrent for other countries to commit these crimes.” Morales compared their effort to the “case of David and Goliath.”
Del Rosario, meanwhile, cited China’s “failure” to reciprocate the “good will” and “accommodating stands” shown by the Duterte administration on the West Philippine Sea issue, and called on other countries to join their call to “emphasize that it’s important to adhere to the rule of law.”
Malacañang, however, downplayed the complaint and described it as a “futile exercise.”
“[The case] could be dismissed because China is not a member of the ICC, so is the Philippines. The filing of the complaint may be a futile exercise. The ICC has no jurisdiction over China,” said presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo.
But in a press briefing, Morales countered: “The one who committed the crime does not have to belong to a country who is a state party to the ICC.”
She added: “We have jurisdiction over Mr. Xi because he committed the crime within Philippine territory.”
The filing of the complaint was widely lauded, with detained Sen. Leila de Lima hailing it as a “remarkable move” meant to check China’s “aggressive and systematic attempt to control the whole of South China Sea … and deprive our fishermen and Asean neighbors, of their food and livelihood.”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson described the move as “patriotic,” while senatorial contender Neri Colmenares said it was “one way of asserting our sovereignty against China.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also echoed De Lima’s sentiments.
Reynaldo Velasco, administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), may have displayed a unique attribute last week when he rebuffed an order from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, although he calibrated his defiance by blaming the Chief Executive’s adviser for giving him wrong counsel.
The President had ordered the MWSS to direct Manila Water Co. Inc. to release by the following day water supply “good for 150 days” from Angat Dam.
Velasco said it was not possible since “existing water conveyance facilities could not deliver more than a day’s allocation for Manila Water, much less five month’s worth of volume within 24 hours.”
Velasco, however, said that while the order was incorrect, he knew what the President wanted and that he was working to deliver on the latter’s expectations.
The retired police general also expressed willingness to resign and take responsibility for the water shortage, should the President ask him.
“But he did not ask me to, so I’m still here.” He added: “He has given us time to fix the problem, so I’m trying to address it.”
“Sayonara” was as sweet as it could get for Ichiro Suzuki. After a career spanning nearly three decades and two continents, baseball’s elegant hitter has decided to call it quits.
And fittingly, he said goodbye at Tokyo Dome in Japan, where nearly 45,000 people applauded as he walked off the field one final time.
The three-minute ovation highlights the out-of-country sortie between Ichiro’s Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. It was an emotional farewell, one that allowed Ichiro to easily come to terms with his retirement.
“After the reception I got today, how could I possibly have any regrets?” he said.
The Associated Press report read: “Ichiro went 0 for 4 in his farewell. In his last at bat, he came up with two outs, a runner on second and a tie score in the eighth. He hit a slow grounder to shortstop and, still hustling the whole way, was barely thrown out at first.”
While he exited with paltry stats, he leaves the game with legacy-cementing numbers and achievements.
He accumulated 3,089 hits in 19 Major League seasons — enough to merit Hall of Fame status.
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