FACES OF THE NEWS: March 31, 2019
Four months after going under the radar, dismissed Police Col. Eduardo Acierto made public last week a confidential report he prepared linking President Rodrigo Duterte’s former economic affairs adviser, Michael Yang, and a certain Allan Lim to the illegal drug trade.
Acierto, who went into hiding after he was named in the smuggling of P11 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth), said Yang and Lim, both Chinese nationals, were often seen with the President and his former special aide, Bong Go, in private and official events.
Acierto said he had submitted the information to his superiors in the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Malacañang to warn the President about their alleged illicit activities, but that his report was ignored.
He also found himself being accused of facilitating one of the biggest shabu shipments seized by authorities, prompting him to deliberately disappear and seek protection from a religious group.
And with good reason. In a speech addressing Acierto’s report, the President asked: “Why is that son of a bitch still alive?”
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio stands next to former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario as the country’s most high-profile critic of the administration’s pro-China policies.
Since 2013, Carpio has cast off protocol that limits the magistrates’ public pronouncements to court decisions, by using forums here and abroad to denounce China’s occupation of West Philippine Sea reefs.
Last week, he disclosed that the country’s patrimonial assets were used as loan collateral to China. According to Carpio, China may seize the contested oil-rich Recto Bank off Palawan if the Philippines fails to pay its P6.9-billion loan for the Chico River irrigation project.
The agreement for another China-funded project, the Kaliwa Dam, has the same unprecedented provision.
“The first two loans are just the beginning because this is a total of $12 to 24 billion (loans) with several projects,” he said.
“We have to be careful. We must remove these provisions that are disadvantageous to us,” added Carpio, who counts almost 18 years in the bench.
The three-way impasse between the executive branch and both chambers of Congress that was resolved only last week will adversely impact the country’s economic growth this year, said Assistant Finance Secretary and spokesperson Antonio Joselito “Tony” Lambino II.
He added that every day of this year, when the government operated under a reenacted budget, translated to P740 million in unspent cash that should have pump-primed the economy under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
This figure was bigger than the P500-million-per-day in unspent funds that Lambino’s boss, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, had estimated earlier, he said.
Lambino said these unallocated resources represented “idle funds that the Duterte administration could have otherwise spent on priority programs to sustain and boost the growth momentum and expand social protection initiatives for the poor.”
This delay in spending would likely result in slower growth this year, from 7 percent to 8 percent as predicted by economists down to the 6 percent to 7 percent range.
Leila de Lima
Despite her two-year detention on what she calls trumped-up drug charges, opposition Sen. Leila de Lima continues to call out the Duterte administration for its actions and policies.
She recently urged dismissed police official Eduardo Acierto to make public his intelligence report linking two Chinese allies of President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drug trade which, Acierto said, authorities had ignored.
De Lima said Acierto’s report would show the extent of the President’s involvement in the drug trade, which he had vowed to eradicate.
If the President is clean, he should have no qualms having his former economic adviser Michael Yang and a certain Allan Lim investigated, the senator said.
Acierto’s report, De Lima added, is of public interest because not only did it link to the drug trade a prominent personality connected to the President, but it also casts doubts on the real purpose of the government’s war on drugs.
But the President cleared Yang of involvement in narcotics and cited his close ties with top Chinese officials to dispute Acierto’s claims.
After 22 months, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report on foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and found no evidence that US President Donald Trump had conspired with Russia against his rival, Hillary Clinton.
While Mueller, a Republican, made no conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed justice, his report was quickly turned into political weapon by the President and his Republican Party.
Mueller’s conclusions represented a victory for Trump, but prosecutors stressed that a convened grand jury could still issue indictments.
Federal prosecutors in New York are also investigating hush-money payments made to two women during the campaign.
Mueller’s investigation ensnared 34 people, including six Trump aides and advisers, and 25 Russians accused of election interference either through hacking into Democratic e-mail accounts or orchestrating a social media campaign to spread disinformation.
Mueller’s report will be made public “by mid-April, if not sooner,” said Attorney General William Barr.
Hardly anyone knew who he was when San Antonio Spurs drafted him as the 57th pick of the 1999 draft.
Heck, Tim Duncan joked about how he couldn’t even pronounce his name.
Sixteen seasons later — all spent with the Spurs — Manu Ginobili stood in the midst of an adoring home crowd as San Antonio retired Ginobili’s No. 20 following a 116-110 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Ginobili also pioneered a literal change of direction in the NBA.
The Eurostep, a shifty footwork move that catches defenders going the wrong direction, is a move he had popularized, bringing his ankle-twisting expertise to the NBA after using that skill to befuddle international defenders as part of Team Argentina.
The step-back three can also trace its popularity to him, as did the behind-the-back dribble he often used to sidestep opponents.
According to The Associated Press, “Ginobili and Bill Bradley are the only players to win an NBA championship, Euroleague title and an Olympic gold medal.”
He also won 4 NBA titles with the Spurs.
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