FACES OF THE NEWS: June 23, 2019
When Carrie Lam ran for the post of Hong Kong’s chief executive in January 2017, her campaign slogan was “We connect.”
But recent weeks have shown just how much disconnect she has with the city-state as massive protests since early June have demanded her resignation over her mishandling of the controversial extradition bill.
The bill would allow Hong Kong courts to extradite suspected criminals to Beijing where, many fear, their rights could be seriously violated.
As more than 2 million Hong Kong residents continued to occupy the city’s main thoroughfares, Lam was forced to suspend the bill indefinitely and offer her “most sincere” public apology over the bill she had attempted to ram through.
Despite that, the protesters stood pat on their demands, the most urgent of which are that Lam should quit and drop the bill entirely.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has been tasked to assist the 22 fishermen abandoned at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea by a Chinese trawler that had hit and sunk their boat.
His visit proved to be controversial for three reasons: the closed-door meeting with the fishermen led to the boat captain and the cook changing their accounts to make it appear that the ramming might indeed be accidental as China and Malacañang officials had earlier claimed; the presence of heavily armed police during the dialogue despite the absence of any protests; and lastly, the fiberglass boats and engines provided by the government proved unsuitable to the fishermen’s needs.
Piñol has a lot of explaining to do as critics believe that he had manipulated the narrative to exonerate China, whom President Duterte seems intent on appeasing.
The story of skipper Junel Insigne sounds like fiction, except it isn’t.
The captain of fishing boat Gem-Vir 1 made headlines throughout the week after he and his crew of 21 were abandoned by a Chinese trawler after it rammed and sunk their vessel anchored in the West Philippine Sea on June 9.
His harrowing tale of survival against the backdrop of volatile Philippines-China relations has sparked heated debates between critics and supporters of the administration on how the country must deal with its superpower neighbor.
Insigne and his crew have become collateral damage amid government warning that further action against China could lead to war.
A resigned-looking Insigne later had to apologize for an inadvertent snub of a supposed meeting with the President, and had to issue another version of his earlier account of the incident.
Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque is back in the limelight after he took in as clients two former employees of WellMed Dialysis Center, which has defrauded the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) by making “ghost dialysis” claims since 2016.
Roque, who sponsored the universal health care law when he was a Kabayan representative, called for the suspension of the measure if PhilHealth could not resolve the fraudulent claims.
He added that the law’s suspension would give way to a “thorough cleanup” of the state insurance firm and hopefully help it avoid “losing money to the corrupt.”
Roque also accused PhilHealth’s top officials, including former acting president Roy Ferrer, of gross negligence over issues of fraud and corruption that has plagued the agency.
The officials had been asked to resign.
Just over three months into his post as director of the Eastern Police District, Police Brig. Gen. Christopher Tambungan was unceremoniously relieved by the Metro Manila police chief, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, after viewing on security camera how he physically and verbally abused a policewoman in May.
The appalling incident allegedly transpired after Cpl. April Santiago failed to secure an extra police vehicle to escort Tambungan to an event.
The CCTV camera showed Tambungan striking Santiago on the head and hitting her body with a car door that he suddenly swung open while hurling invectives at her.
Tambungan’s actions were “unjustified and completely unbecoming” of a police officer, Eleazar said.
Tambungan was transferred to the Office of the Regional Director pending a full investigation of the incident.
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