Faces of the News: October 11, 2020
Jeffrey Dale Ignacio
Immigration officer Jeffrey Dale Ignacio confirmed the “open secret” that some personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) were on the take when he appeared in the Senate as the latest witness in the so-called “pastillas” scheme. Ignacio identified the top players among immigration officials and employees who have been demanding bribes for the hassle-free entry of Chinese visitors into the country. He also corroborated the earlier testimony of whistleblower Allison Chiong. Ignacio admitted acting as a foot soldier in the pastillas racket and was among the 19 bureau employees charged with graft by the National Bureau of Investigation. But he decided to work with authorities and took part in the entrapment of an NBI lawyer who asked him for P100,000 in exchange for a favorable ruling on his case. In detailing what he knew about the scheme, Ignacio also explained he was enticed to join the racket in 2017 after numerous BI personnel lost their augmentation or overtime pay, and his bills started piling up. Three years later, the secret was exposed. —Leila B. Salaverria
Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen, the Dutch-American musician who founded and led the seminal rock band Van Halen, is revered in the music world for his virtuoso guitar playing and his innovations—like his mastery of the two-handed tapping technique and the way he muted the strings. Tributes from peers and next-generation guitarists poured as news broke about the 65-year-old rock icon’s passing due to throat cancer. Metallica’s Kirk Hammett likened Van Halen to a music scientist. “To me, he was like Tesla or Louis Pasteur or Ray Kurzweil … working with musical notes and guitar strings and bridges and amplifiers,” he told the New York Times. Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx tweeted: “Crushed … You changed our world. You were the Mozart of rock guitar.” “Eddie wasn’t only a guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul,” tweeted Kiss’ Gene Simmons. Rolling Stones quoted Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne as saying he could watch Van Halen play guitar “all day … He made it look like it was not difficult … it was a natural thing. Everybody else was trying to be Eddie Van Halen, but there’s only one Eddie Van Halen.” —Allan Policarpio
Kamala Harris vs Mike Pence
The debate between US Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris was more sedate, unlike the slugfest between President Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden that took place the week before. Separated by plexiglass shields, Pence, who used to host a conservative radio program, and Harris, daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, did their best to stick to policy issues, including health care, taxes and the coronavirus pandemic. Harris went on attack mode right away, describing the deaths of 210,00 Americans due to COVID-19 as Trump’s “greatest failure.” Pence blamed China for the disease, adding that Trump “is not happy about it.” He then turned to Obamacare, describing it as a “disaster.” Harris questioned Trump’s $750 annual income tax payments. Pence countered that Biden would “raise your taxes” when he becomes president. Pence also reprimanded Harris for saying she would refuse a vaccine if Trump “tells us to take it.” The biggest attraction of the night, however, was the fly that landed on Pence’s hair and distracted viewers. Viewers said it won the debate.
Keeping his legs steady, Nadal shifted his weight from left to right as his opponent, Diego Schwartzman, readied himself for the serve. The ball was launched, cracked at 256 kilometers per hour (159 mph), but Nadal easily returned it with a left forehand. With all of his might, Schwartzman attempted to recover with a two-handed backhand but struck the ball into the net. It was game over and Nadal triumphantly raised both his arms. The Spanish ace defeated Schwartzman, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (0), to book a 13th appearance in the men’s finals of the French Open. Nadal currently holds the record for most French Open championships with 12 and he now has a chance to snag a new trophy should he defeat another tennis superstar—Novak Djokovic. It will be the 56th time that the two titans will face each other. Nadal has already lost in 29 of their matches. But when played on clay and at Roland Garros, Nadal dominates the match-up. If Nadal wins the French Open, he will not only improve his record in this specific event. More importantly, he will finally match Roger Federer’s record of 20 singles titles in Grand Slam tournaments.
Complaints over the cost of Beep cards forced the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to suspend the cashless transactions on the Edsa Busway, but Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade remains adamant that an “acceptable protocol” that is safe and free for commuters must be reached as soon as possible. He said the government is now looking into other automated fare collection system providers (AFCS) after AF Payments Inc., which operates the Beep card system, refused to waive the fee for the cards on top of the fare load. “In the exercise of our oversight function in the DOTr, when I learned about the added cost for the card, I said that should not happen, it should be free. We can institute policies to ensure that the cards are free,” said the transport chief. The DOTr ordered AFCS providers and public utility vehicles to ensure that the cost of the cards will not be passed on to commuters. Transport groups however, think the DOTr can do more by giving the Beep cards for free as a form of “ayuda” or aid from the government as they recover from the economic slump. —Mariejo S. Ramos
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