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FACES OF THE NEWS: April 14, 2019

/ 07:13 AM April 14, 2019

Illustrations by Rene Elevera

Richard Gordon

First, he had to contend with irate motorcycle riders. Then he had to deal with President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to suspend the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act that he had already signed.

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Sen. Richard Gordon found himself defending the measure he authored that would require motorcycles to display a bigger, more visible front and rear license plate numbers.

Gordon insisted that the law was a deterrent against crime, especially drive-by shooting by people riding motorcycles.

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But motorcycle riders complained that the bigger license plates could pose a safety concern because they could fly off at high speeds and hit both rider and passenger.

Gordon responded that the front license plates need not be made of metal and could be in the form of decals. The senator said he intended to defend his measure should he get to talk to the President.

The law, Gordon said, should be given a chance to be implemented before it is shot down.

 

Jacinto Ligot

Retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, a former military comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was convicted last week of six counts of perjury, for failing to properly declare properties worth P135 million in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) from 1998 to 2003.

Ligot, who was comptroller under Gen. Angelo Reyes, the late AFP chief, from 1999 to March 2001, was sentenced to six years in prison.

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In its decision, the Sandiganbayan said Ligot “willfully and deliberately” asserted falsehoods in his SALN, when he “consciously and knowingly” omitted several properties in his SALN.

The list of Ligot’s unexplained wealth is long, ranging from real properties, including a BCDA condominium unit in Taguig City, several units at  Paseo Parkview Condo in Makati City, and plots of land in the United States, to investments made through the AFP Savings and Loan Inc., and at least two vehicles.

Ligot was allowed to post bail as he appeals his conviction.

Maria Lourdes Sereno

Tit for tat. Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted from office last year for allegedly filing an incomplete statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

This time around, she is throwing back the same charge at President Rodrigo Duterte.

Sereno told reporters in Iloilo on April 8 that the President had the duty to explain the significant increase in his family’s earnings, instead of saying it was nobody’s business.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a voters’ education forum on the University of the Philippines Visayas campus, Sereno said the explanation was necessary amid reports and allegations that members of the President’s family were involved in illegal drugs.

Contrary to the President’s statement, the former chief justice said the public had the right to know his source of wealth, as stipulated in the 1987 Constitution.

“If an official is suspiciously wealthy, there should be an explanation. And the explanation should be made public,” Sereno said.

Luis Taruc

In 2018, pomp and grandeur accompanied the reinterment of Luis Taruc’s ashes at his birthplace in San Luis, Pampanga.

Taruc, arguably the most recognized leader of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap), would have been unaccustomed to the ceremonies.

But 77 years since the Hukbalahap waged an unrelenting guerrilla campaign against the invading Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, Taruc and his fellow fighters finally got well-deserved recognition.

The Hukbalahap, or Huks, engaged the Japanese invaders in 2,000 combat operations between 1942 and 1945.

But because of their affiliation with socialists, the Huks were denied recognition as well as their pension by the Philippine and American governments.

The old Communist Party of the Philippines, which was founded in 1930, merged with the Socialist Party of the Philippines and formed the Hukbalahap.

The Huks became the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan after the war.

Benjamin Netanyahu

After the results of Tuesday’s election were unveiled, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to form a right-wing coalition that could help him fight off a possible indictment for corruption.

The 69-year-old premier remained on course to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister later this year, even longer than David Ben-Gurion, the father of the Jewish nation.

Netanyahu has so far been premier for a total of more than 13 years but he also faces the ignominy of becoming the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.

The election was seen as a referendum on the prime minister, who won a fifth term.

The results reflected his deft political skills, Israel’s shift to the right and wide satisfaction with Netanyahu’s achievements.

Although the results also reflected the fact that many voters were fed up with Netanyahu, that did not stop President Reuven Rivlin from asking the premier to form a government, a process that could take days, or even weeks.

Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange found himself in jail in south London after a dramatic end to his seven-year stay at the Ecuadorian embassy.

The 47-year-old Australian sought asylum at the embassy in 2012 after a British judge ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden.

However, relations with his Ecuadorian hosts soured because Assange supposedly leaked personal information about Ecuador President Lenin Moreno who consequently pulled his asylum, canceled his citizenship and allowed British police to remove Assange from the embassy.

A British judge found him guilty of disobeying his bail terms.

He now faces a year in prison when he is sentenced on a still undetermined date. His separate extradition to the United States is set to be heard next by video-link at the Westminster Magistrates Court on May 2.

If Assange is extradited, US authorities could add more charges and detain him in an American prison for an undetermined period.

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TAGS: Benjamin Netanyahu, Faces of the News, Jacinto Ligot, Julian Assange, Luis Taruc, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Richard Gordon
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