FACES OF THE NEWS: June 30, 2019
Francisco Duque III
As ex-officio chair of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III volunteered that he be included in the justice department’s probe of various allegations of corruption in the state insurance firm.
But Duque said his gesture should not distract from the real issue, which is the alleged fraud in PhilHealth that “threatens the sustainability and integrity of our social health insurance system.”
As various fraudulent schemes in PhilHealth came to light this month, Duque found himself on the defensive.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson accused him of conflict of interest since PhilHealth’s building in Dagupan is owned by Duque’s family-run corporation.
This was also cited as grounds for the graft and plunder charges filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman last week.
Duque denied the conflict of interest issue, saying he had already resigned from the family corporation when the lease agreement was entered into in 2017.
Vice President Leni Robredo was at the receiving end of scathing remarks anew, after Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called her “boba” (stupid) on Twitter when she protested his order to cancel “courtesy” diplomatic passports.
Seemingly immune to disparaging comments from President Duterte’s allies and rabid supporters, Robredo chose to shrug off the insult, saying she did not engage in rude exchanges as she had more important matters to deal with.
This includes assisting the 22 fishermen abandoned at sea after being rammed by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank on June 9.
On the flip side, Robredo has received praise for visiting the beleaguered fishermen in their homes in Occidental Mindoro province and providing a P50,000 cash assistance to each of them under her Angat Buhay program.
She also welcomed Vietnamese Ambassador Ly Quoc Tuan to her office to express the Filipino people’s gratitude to the Vietnamese crew that saved the fisherfolk at sea.
Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo
K-drama fans were stunned when news broke on Thursday morning about the divorce of Korean stars Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo.
The golden couple starred in the hugely popular series “Descendants of the Sun,” and thrilled fans when they started dating.
Their real-life romance further boosted the popularity of the couple, leading to their inclusion in the Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list for two years (2017-2018).
After their wedding on Oct. 31, 2017, they took a hiatus from shooting films and dramas and staged their comeback in K-dramas only this year in “Encounter” for Hye-kyo, and “Arthdal Chronicles” for Joong-ki.
Since January, rumors about their split have set their fans on edge, though they denied this, with Joong-ki calling his wife a “constant cheerleader” and saying their marriage gave him “peace of mind” during a press conference last month.
In the end, their handler admitted that the couple had “personal differences,” which led to their divorce.
Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise in the NBA was foretold during his rookie year, when he exhibited immense potential with his vast array of skills.
Those skills, packed in a lengthy center-type frame, helped him become the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2018-19 regular season.
After making defenders weep this season, the 24-year-old was reduced to tears upon receiving the MVP trophy in a glitzy NBA Awards show broadcast from Santa Monica, California.
The “Greek Freak” became the youngest MVP since Derrick Rose earned the same honor in 2011.
Antetokounmpo edged last year’s MVP James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Paul George in the MVP race.
Antetokounmpo finished his sixth season with averages of 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds, and led Milwaukee to the best record in the regular season (60-22). But the Bucks faltered against eventual champion Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals.
It’s hard to figure out Joey Romasanta nowadays. The longtime right-hand man of former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chief Peping Cojuangco emerged from the shadows to become POC president after the resignation of Ricky Vargas.
Because of his ties to Cojuangco, people suspected that Romasanta, a former project director of the famed Gintong Alay program, was part of a move to restore the old order in the POC.
But then, in a move that silenced insinuations of a power grab, Romasanta eventually resigned from the POC post and backed emergency polls to solve the power vacuum within the Olympic body.
He had no intention of seeking any elective post, he said.
However, the volleyball vice president wavered a bit when he said he would call a July 1 meeting to let the executive board decide if there should be elections at all.
Which means, until the POC is under stable leadership again, Romasanta’s name will continue to be in the headlines, as people try to figure out his motives.
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