FACES OF THE NEWS: July 28, 2019
Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation address, he appeared to say that China was “in possession” of disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.
And so for the nth time, a Palace official had to do some explaining, apparently seeing a potentially damaging, geopolitical faux pas.
At a press conference the following day, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. hastened to explain that the President did not say “in possession,” but merely said that China was “in position” in those islands.
It only made sense, he said, that the President would use the word position, since China had already built artificial islands in some disputed territories.
In the same briefing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana played second voice to Esperon, saying, “Jun is right. They are in position in some islands.”
Democrats in the US House of Representatives waited for the testimony of Robert Mueller with much anticipation.
They hoped that the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director and now special counsel would provide the spark that would light the way for US President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Mueller faced the lawmakers on July 24 and testified on his investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.
His abbreviated, emotionless responses to congressmen’s questions, however, did not provide the answers that Democrats had looked forward to.
No amount of questioning forced Mueller to give any new information to support allegations of the president’s participation in the Russian scheme.
The torch that they hoped would lead to Trump’s ouster failed to shine, with Mueller apparently unwilling to hand it to them.
UP Men’s Basketball
The UP Maroons aren’t leaving any stone unturned after finishing behind Ateneo in Season 81 of the UAAP.
The Maroons have since unveiled Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero as anchors for the next season, along with old hands Bright Akhuetie and the Gomez de Liaño siblings.
Coach Bo Perasol’s thrust of rebuilding the team also bore some fruit when UP flew to a tournament in Taiwan.
Not only did the Maroons manage to sharpen their strategy, they also went home with the title after sweeping the Buddha’s Light International Association Cup at Kaohsiung Arena.
UP capped that sweep with a 97-93 finals victory over Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology over the weekend.
The game saw the versatile, high-flying Paras dumping 37 points on the opponent, giving substance to the hype that earlier marked his entry into the State U squad.
Deal or no deal, Brexit will happen on Oct. 31. This promise by new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is sending shock waves across the United Kingdom and in the whole of Europe.
Johnson, the former mayor of London known for his blond, unkempt hair, is setting up a showdown with the United Kingdom’s allies in the European Union with his rejection of the divorce proposal set by his predecessor Theresa May.
He has vowed to renegotiate that proposal, which Brussels has already approved and is unwilling to rewrite.
At the heart of discord is the Irish “backstop” provision that Johnson and many British lawmakers had stricken out.
Whether it will be Johnson or the European Union who blinks first is anybody’s guess. What many agree on is that a no deal would not be good for the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.
Carlos Dominguez III
In his State of the Nation address (Sona) last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that, while Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III often bragged that the economy was now awash in cash, the head of his economic team was also very frugal.
So when Dominguez later announced that another three years or so of salary increases for civilian state employees would come sooner than later, that meant the government’s coffers had enough money to fund bigger pays for public school teachers, barrio doctors and nurses, and other public servants.
But in his Sona, the President also threatened to abolish the state-run Landbank — chaired by Dominguez — for supposedly forgetting its mandate to help farmers.
The finance chief defended Landbank but said he understood the President’s frustration that “not enough money is going into the agriculture sector.”