FACES OF THE NEWS: July 7, 2019
Former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña refused to leave his post quietly.
Before his successor, Edgardo Labella, could formally take over on June 30, Osmeña took the mayor’s office with him quite literally, removing the glass dividers and even the floor tiles in the kitchen and the washroom.
Osmeña claimed ownership of all the furniture and fixtures in the mayor’s office, saying he spent P2 million of his own money to procure and install them in 2016.
That was after the city council, then dominated by the opposition, refused to give him a budget to renovate his office.
Last year, Osmeña incurred the wrath of President Rodrigo Duterte, who threatened to slap him over reports that Osmeña had accused him of being a protector of drug lords.
During the campaign leading to the May polls, Osmeña had a run-in with the local police, calling them out for allegedly meddling in local politics.
In his bid for a second term, he lost to the Duterte-backed Labella by 19,000 votes.
When the new Baguio mayor faced City Hall employees for the first time on July 1, the former ranking police officer assured them that he would not run the summer capital’s affairs with a military mindset.
“Just call me Benjie,” he said, breaking into a smile when everyone reacted awkwardly to that disarming suggestion.
Concerns over garbage collection confronted Magalong in his first week in office, but he was prepared for it after spending the whole month of June speaking to scientists, engineers and academics regarding Baguio’s problems.
Born and raised in Baguio, Magalong rose through the police ranks after graduating with honors from the Philippine Military Academy in 1982.
He gained national attention when he headed the inquiry into the 2015 “Mamasapano 44” massacre.
As a civilian leader, Magalong hopes to bring into the job management lessons learned from his previous stint with a steel company.
The long process to sainthood has begun for Darwin Ramos, a street kid who died from a degenerative disease at the age of 17 and was recently declared “Servant of God” by the Vatican.
According to Cubao Archbishop Honesto Ongtioco, the conferment of the title to Ramos is a go-signal for the Church in Manila to dig deeper into how the young Catholic lived his faith.
Ongtioco has issued an edict urging the public to provide the Diocese of Cubao in Quezon City with any written material, published or unpublished, about Ramos.
The goal is to acquire as much information as possible about the teenager as part of the process leading to his canonization. Ramos embraced the Catholic faith after being rescued by a foundation from a beggar’s life in Pasay City.
While staying in a shelter, he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but his physical deterioration only deepened his relationship with Christ, Ongtioco said.
Jesus Clint Aranas
Last year, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) deferred the plan to sell its Port Area property as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), where GSIS chief Jesus Clint Aranas used to be deputy commissioner for legal affairs, took some time to update the zonal valuation.
Had last year’s sale pushed through, the minimum price for the 67-hectare lot occupied by Enrique Razon-led International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) was only P20 billion. But the GSIS delayed the sale to wait for the correct valuation.
In May, the BIR finally released the valuation for Port Area and the GSIS board determined it could sell the lot for at least P50 billion.
Aranas (transferred to GSIS after squabbles with BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III) was unfazed even as the pension fund was in a dispute with the Philippine Ports Authority and ICTSI over the lot’s ownership.
After Monday’s Cabinet meeting, a phone call from President Duterte not only made Aranas resign, but perhaps, also ended their friendship.
The government’s chief lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, has succeeded in taking out a critic of President Duterte’s pro-China policy from a Supreme Court case urging the government to assert the country’s jurisdiction over three Philippine features in the West Philippine Sea seized by China.
Calida accused Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of being biased supposedly because of his public pronouncements and because he helped win the landmark arbitral case against China in 2016.
Complaining that Carpio had already told the media that he would not inhibit, Calida went to the Supreme Court as a whole to exclude the oustpoken magistrate from the case.
On the day of the oral arguments on July 2, Carpio voluntarily inhibited, saying he did so “for the peace of mind” of the government counsel.
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