FACES OF THE NEWS: Aug. 25, 2019
Seared into the national psyche is the evil associated with former Calauan, Laguna, Mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven life terms or a maximum of 40 years for the gruesome rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and the brutal killing of Allan Gomez, both University of the Philippines Los Baños students, on June 29, 1993.
Despite an excessive display of Marian devotion during his 16-month trial, Sanchez and six of his bodyguards and aides were found guilty of what Judge Harriet Demetriou described as “a plot hatched in hell.”
Understandably, public rage greeted the justice department’s announcement that Sanchez would be released soon, thanks to the retroactive application of the good conduct time allowance law.
The backlash prompted Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon to backtrack and assure the public that Sanchez and other convicts guilty of heinous and high-profile crimes were not eligible for release, according to the 2013 law.
Sanchez had also been found to have violated the norms of good conduct in jail, having been found with a stash of drugs in his cell in 2006, and the trappings of a luxurious stay in prison in 2015.
The de facto head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is starting to feel the heat as traffic worsens by the day.
Pressed to provide solutions to the traffic crisis, MMDA chief Jojo Garcia snapped at the media: “The problem now is we keep crafting all these policies that never even see the light of day. Now that finally the sitting President is expressing strong political will [to solve the problem], our efforts keep getting thwarted … what else do you want us to do?”
Apparently the general manager is still smarting from the court injunction slapped against what would have been his pet traffic policy: banning provincial buses and their terminals along the highly congested Edsa.
Still, he swore to abide by the President’s “challenge” to clear the roads within 60 days and to drastically reduce travel time along Edsa by December, even as the MMDA’s top man, Danilo Lim, continues to evade public scrutiny.
The bus ban continues to rile long-suffering commuters who cite increased transport costs and multiple rides as a consequence of the ban.
They also point to private vehicles which occupy much more space on Edsa while carrying far fewer passengers as proof that the MMDA is “antipoor.”
Stories of Gina Lopez’s lifelong advocacies — from saving the biologically dead Pasig River to founding the country’s first hotline to rescue abused children — came to the fore last week after news broke of her death from cancer.
Lopez, 65, was a longtime champion of environmental causes, in whom activists found an unlikely ally, she being a scion of one of the country’s most powerful and richest families. Turning away from her affluent background, however, was nothing new for Lopez who left the comforts of home at 18 to pursue life’s deeper meaning as an Ananda Marga missionary in Europe, India and Africa.
Upon her return to her family in the ’90s, she led the Lopezes’ charity arm, ABS-CBN Foundation. But she made more headlines when she was chosen by President Duterte to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), reportedly after she gave him a lecture on environmental policy.
Wasting no time, Lopez shut down big mining firms found to have violated the country’s environment laws.
Her uncompromising stance, particularly against the mining industry, was seen by many as the main reason behind the Commission on Appointments’ rejection of her as DENR chief.
Perfecto Yasay Jr.
Perfecto Yasay Jr., former foreign secretary and President Duterte’s college buddy, was arrested on Thursday by members of the Manila Police District for alleged violation of banking laws.
The 72-year-old former diplomat and Securities and Exchange Commission chair allegedly failed to report to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas a P350-million loan that he and other associates at Banco Filipino had granted the cash-strapped company of one of the bank’s owners sometime between 2003 and 2006.
In a Facebook post that also featured his mug shot secretly taken by his wife at the police precinct, Yasay denied the allegation, saying that he joined the now-shuttered bank only in 2009.
“I am not posting bail until I am brought before the judge where I will question this abuse of process and travesty of justice,” he said.
Hours after his arrest, Yasay was rushed to hospital due to hypertension.
He posted a P240,000 bail on Friday.
“Now the fight for justice and to prove my innocence begins,” he later wrote in a Facebook post.
In less than a week, coach Yeng Guiao will try to shock the world. He will lead Gilas Pilipinas, the country’s beloved national basketball squad, in the Fiba World Cup in China, with hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds. The odds are stacked against the squad.
The Philippines is grouped with Serbia and Italy, two world-class basketball countries, and African powerhouse Angola. Gilas is without two key players — Jordan Clarkson, whose status as a local is still under appeal, and the injured Marcio Lassiter, who Guiao calls the best shooter in the country right now.
The team also had less-than-ideal preparations, with three key cogs joining practices late because of club commitments.
Heck, even President Rodrigo Duterte has little faith in the squad, saying that Gilas did not stand a chance against Italy. Guiao shrugged off the remarks.
“I guess you just have to take that from a positive point of view… We should just be able to keep believing in ourselves,” he added.
Guiao, however, promises one thing. Under his guidance, Gilas will put up a fight that will make the country proud.
“We will not back down against the physicality of bigger and stronger teams,” he said.
Those who know him know better than to doubt his word.
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