Faces of the News: June 7, 2020 | Inquirer News

Faces of the News: June 7, 2020

/ 05:02 AM June 07, 2020

ILLUSTRATION BY RENE ELEVERA

Celine Pialago

This beauty queen-turned-spokesperson for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recently had the unenviable job of explaining why the agency keeps backpedaling on its stance of encouraging biking among commuters fed up with the lack of public transport in Metro Manila.

When cycling group Bikers United Marshalls (BUM) set up guerilla bike lanes along Commonwealth and Edsa last week, Pialago ordered them dismantled, warning the group that it could face charges and possible fines.

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The MMDA later withdrew its threats but stressed that pop-up bike lanes won’t be tolerated. Pialago said the agency was no longer banning bikers along major thoroughfares because public transport was still limited despite Metro Manilas’s general community quarantine status.

But it wants cyclists to use the sidewalks on Edsa and other thoroughfares for their own safety. Ironically, the MMDA issued the warning on World Bicycle Day.

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Meanwhile, BUM clapped back at the MMDA, and said that it had demonstrated that “simple acts of love and courage can be done immediately and without procrastination.”

—Krixia Subingsubing

Gabby Lopez

In the face of badgering from lawmakers about his dual citizenship, ABS-CBN chair emeritus Gabby Lopez said on Wednesday that he was prepared to “give up [his] US citizenship in a minute.”

Said the top honcho of the media giant: “I am first and foremost a Filipino, I will live and die in the Philippines. I know in my heart that I am a Filipino.”

Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta had challenged Lopez’s citizenship during a joint House hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise application.

The network’s license expired on May 4 and the National Telecommunications Commission shut it down the following day.

Marcoleta alleged that ABS-CBN had violated the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of mass media since Lopez, having been born in the United States, was an American citizen when he took the helm of the broadcast giant in 1986.

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But Lopez’s supporters, and even Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said otherwise: Since both his parents are Filipino citizens, Lopez was born a Filipino citizen. She further pointed out that he was both Filipino and American citizen by virtue of birth.

—DJ Yap

Hyun Bin

Hyun Bin is the bedimpled gift that keeps on giving, at least among fans who can’t get over his role as the romantic hero in the K-drama “Crash Landing on You” (CLOY).

Lifestyle brand Bench and telco giant PLDT managed to get the South Korean superstar to appear in their respective advertising campaigns, even teasing fans with the news one dreary afternoon late last month.

The telco firm described Hyun as a “priceless investment” — squeezing out a year’s contract for the actor to appear in three events for Smart Communications. But there’s more to the move than just business smarts: PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan, it turns out, is a big fan of CLOY.

The actor, who described Filipinos as “some of the warmest fans in the world,” said he was “thankful” for being given “a way to reach out to everyone in the Philippines … and being brought closer than ever [to them].”

His contract includes a visit to the Philippines, though a telco official admits that “it’s not yet definite when he’s coming because we still have to deal with the COVID-19 situation.”

He adds: “But he is definitely coming.”

—Ira P. Pedrasa

The biking worker

Even as Metro Manila reopened for business under a general community quarantine, transport officials have stood pat on their decision to restrict mobility, with public transportation severely limited.

Workers have had no choice but to buy their own bikes to get to their destination, putting faith in the government’s earlier pronouncements about allowing the use of bicycles in more areas after May 16.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) even urged local government units (LGUs) to craft safety ordinances and develop bike-friendly facilities like bike racks and lockers.

Some LGUs have in fact taken the initiative to make their areas more bike-friendly, among them Baguio City and Pasig. But cycling groups expressed disappointment at the DOTr and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, whose officials paid lip service to bike lanes but ultimately did nothing in the 80 days that Manila was under a lockdown.

They have had vocal allies, however, among the public and several senators who have called on both transport agencies to act swiftly for the sake of pedestrians and cyclists returning to work.

—Krixia Subingsubing

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg relented to pressure from his most senior employees on Friday and said he would review the policy that led the company to leave up US President Donald Trump’s controversial post saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The American leader was referring to angry demonstrations against racism and police brutality after the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Zuckerberg said he found the post “deeply offensive” but maintained that it did not violate prevailing policy against incitements to violence.

He did not promise specific changes but suggested that the social media giant may add options to the currently binary leave-it-up or take-it-down paths.

He warned, however, that the approach may also allow Facebook employees to editorialize on content put up by users even if it doesn’t violate policies.

Among the changes Zuckerberg was considering are increased transparency on Facebook decision-making, a review of policies on posts that could cause voter suppression, and possible software to advance racial justice.

—From the wires

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TAGS: biking workers, Celiner Pialago, Faces of the News, Gabby Lopez, Hyun Bin, Mark Zuckerberg, newsmakers
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