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Faces of the News: Aug. 23, 2020

/ 05:02 AM August 23, 2020

ILLUSTRATION BY RENE ELEVERA

Alexander Balutan

Ex-Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan was among the 15 incumbent and former officials slapped with criminal charges over supposed irregularities in Small Town Lottery (STL) operations.

A former military officer who linked then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to alleged cheating in Mindanao in the 2004 elections, Balutan was appointed PCSO general manager by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 when STL operations saw a nationwide expansion in a bid to increase government revenues and combat the illegal numbers game “jueteng.”

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Duterte fired Balutan in 2019, citing “serious allegations of corruption.”

The National Bureau of Investigation filed a formal complaint against him in the Office of the Ombudsman last week.

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In a text message to the Inquirer, he insisted that a lifestyle check on him “found nothing.”

He said supervision of STL operations was already transferred to the PCSO chair’s office in 2018.

—Nikka G. Valenzuela

Brillante Ma Mendoza

Brillante Ma Mendoza’s film “Mindanao” may have gotten the lion’s share of awards in the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), but not even that worked in his favor when it was time to collect his share in the box office.

In a rare tell-all with the Inquirer last Sunday, Mendoza lamented cinema owners’ failure to hand over his cut of the film’s earnings — about P6 million out of the P19 million it made from screenings nationwide — seven months after the two-week festival wrapped up.

The last time he joined the MMFF, by way of 2012’s “Thy Womb,” he got his money after two months.

For “Mindanao,” which had a P20-million budget, he received only P400,000 so far. In fact, some cinema chains have yet to give him a single centavo.

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He claimed they had  been ignoring his calls and described the whole cat-and-mouse chase “degrading.”

He said this would discourage other small independent producers like him from making films for the MMFF.

—Rito P. Asilo

Barack and Michelle Obama

The first Democratic presidential nomination of the coronavirus era saw former US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama take turns delivering passionate speeches denouncing the cavalier leadership of US President Donald Trump.

The couple apparently held their punches too long. Michelle spoke on the first night of the all-virtual event, calling Trump “the wrong president for this country” who “simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

At his turn, ex-President Obama said the current administration “has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win,” adding his successor “has shown no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends.”

Obama also accused Trump of treating his office as “a reality show” for attention.

The couple warned voters that November’s election would be a critical moment for an America dealing with heightened racism and political division.

Yuka Saso

Yuka Saso cemented her status as a formidable force in the Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour last week by thumping the NEC Karuizawa leg, winning the event by an impressive four shots and bankrolling a P6.6-million paycheck that makes her the youngest Filipino multimillionaire athlete.

The 19-year-old, who is half-Japanese, closed out with a flawless nine-under-par 63 for the win, a huge positive for a country reeling from the global pandemic.

Winning three tournaments in Japan and fourth overall as a pro, Saso now has a total of more than P11 million and will be padding that in the next few weeks.

Travel restrictions barring her return to the country also allow her “to play as many events as I can here (in Japan).”

Saso’s main goal now is to make it to the US LPGA which she missed last year because she was still undecided whether to go to college or accept scholarships.

In the meantime, all plans are on hold while the Japan LPGA Tour is hers to conquer.

—Musong R. Castillo

CJ Cansino

After five minutes in the second quarter against the University of the Philippines in 2018, highly prized Season 81 rookie CJ Cansino was carried off the court in a stretcher following an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

The Tigers fell short of making the Final Four that year but Cansino’s 12.8 points-10.3 rebounds average resuscitated the University of Santo Tomas (UST) men’s basketball team from the previous year’s humiliation and secured his bright future.

His decision to transfer to the University of the Philippines surprised many, reportedly because the former high school MVP was kicked out of UST’s team.

Reports circulating say a disagreement between him and head coach Aldin Ayo broke out during practice in isolation that the Tigers were supposedly having at a gym in Sorsogon. His action cost him the roster spot.

Cansino maintained that he won’t force himself into a place where he is not wanted.

—Louie Greg A. Rivera

Gilbert Gapay

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay maintained that the policemen who confronted four Army officers in Jolo, Sulu, on June 29 had an “intent to kill.”

In a Senate hearing, Gapay alleged the Philippine National Police’s initial spot report on the incident was “fabricated, full of inconsistencies and misleading” and urged its command not to cover up the misdeeds of its officers.

He insisted the deaths of the Army officers was “murder” and urged the immediate filing of criminal charges against the nine policemen seen during the attack.

The National Bureau of Investigation has recommended murder charges against the suspects before the Department of Justice.

No case has yet been filed in court almost two months after the incident that Gapay called a “deliberate act.”

The military chief, who was commanding general of the Philippine Army at the time of the incident, said “justice delayed is justice denied.”

— Nestor Corrales

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TAGS: Alexander Balutan, Barack Obama, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, CJ Cansino, Faces of the News, Gilbert Gapay, Michelle Obama, Yuka Saso
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