Faces of the News: Nov. 22, 2020
After typhoons “Rolly” (international name: Goni) and “Ulysses” (Vamco) left a large swath of devastation in Luzon, parents whose homes were damaged or flooded began to worry if their children could still continue their studies, with their printed learning modules soaked and rendered useless.
The Department of Education (DepEd) promised to extend aid, including additional funding, to teachers and students as well as their affected families.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones also offered a solution that many found either amusing or irksome: Teachers could just spread out the wet modules under the sun or have them pressed with a flat iron to dry. She also insisted on her assessment that the damage brought by the recent calamity would have “no effect” on the production of learning materials.
Teachers and youth groups, however, said Briones was being “insensitive” to the plight of millions of learners and educators who were already coping with the physical and logistical challenges of distance learning.
For the National Union of Students of the Philippines, the DepEd “remained deaf to students’ demands to respond” to these concerns.
Delfin Lorenzana and Salvador Panelo
Two members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet apologized last week to Vice President Leni Robredo after one of them erroneously reported that she led the distribution of relief goods to typhoon victims using a military cargo plane.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday apologized for saying earlier that the vice president boarded a Philippine Air Force C-130 plane to Catanduanes province. After Robredo strongly denied this, the defense chief issued a clarification, citing flight manifests and pointing out that a Huey helicopter was used only to transport donations collected by the Office of the Vice President.
Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, who quoted Lorenzana’s erroneous claim, later issued his own apology for calling Robredo a freeloader and a credit grabber.
The episode came on the heels of Duterte’s 20-minute rant on national television accusing Robredo of “competing” with him in conducting relief operations. The President also falsely claimed that she asked about his whereabouts at the height of the typhoon’s onslaught.
—Patricia Denise M. Chiu
President Rodrigo Duterte publicly attacking Vice President Leni Robredo is nothing new. Still, his latest tirades on Nov. 17 struck critics as a new low, as he accused her of setting off a social media inquiry about his whereabouts during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco).
He also warned her that he had the goods on her should she throw her hat in the next presidential race.
In response, Robredo called out the “pikon” (touchy) President for his “misogynistic” and “unpresidential” remarks and lamented how the country’s top official had fallen victim to misinformation from within his own circle.
“There is no space for ego when lives are at stake,” Robredo said, holding her ground.
Her pushback later caused a surge in donations to the relief operations being conducted by the Office of the Vice President.
Later in the week, with the Palace still looking for someone to blame for the #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President?) Twitter buzz, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque turned to the vice president’s two daughters as the supposed source of the social media posts that angered the President.
Actress Angel Locsin said she initially thought of just ignoring an example of “body shaming” that ended up being printed on a learning module of the Department of Education (DepEd).
The celebrity, lately making headlines for her philanthropy and activism, was cited as an example of an “obese” person in one of the DepEd modules, a photo of which recently went viral. The module also cited her supposedly unhealthy activities, including eating “fatty food” and “watching television at home.”
In response, the actress posted on her Instagram account: “I don’t mind the insults. Cheap comments do not define who I am … but when I read DepEd’s statement, I said, ‘aba teka lang (wait).’”
She said: “What bothers me most, apart from teaching incorrect grammar to the students, [is that the] DepEd seems unaffected that the said teacher (who made the module) is teaching bad conduct and sowing discrimination among children. What will happen to the future of our youth if we teach them mockery and rudeness toward others?”
The DepEd traced the module to a school in Oriental Mindoro and apologized at length “to the concerned individuals [who] may have been offended by it.”
Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.
His effort to challenge Leni Robredo’s incumbency as vice president took a new turn when the only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos sought to have Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, an appointee of then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, inhibited from his electoral protest case.
Marcos, who lost to Robredo by more than 263,000 votes in the 2016 elections, argued that Leonen’s dissenting opinion regarding the grant of a hero’s burial for his father showed the magistrate’s views of the Marcos family and thus warranted his inhibition from the case.
But Robredo’s lawyers countered that the same argument may also be used to disqualify the justices who voted in favor of the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, including Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.
The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, denied Marcos’ motion. It also directed Solicitor General Jose Calida, who had actively campaigned for Marcos, and Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas to explain why they should not be held in contempt for their actions on Marcos’ behalf.