Faces of the News: February 7, 2021
Going by Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s line of reasoning, the petitions opposing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 may still be premature. Addressing lawyer Alfredo Molo III during the oral arguments, Leonen pointed to the Supreme Court rule requiring an “actual case” before the tribunal could invoke its judicial power to rectify an act of the political branches of government. At one point, however, he hinted that a petition filed by two Aeta men earlier charged under the controversial law could already serve as the actual case that magistrates could discuss to determine the measure’s constitutionality. “To ask the Supreme Court to move in and use its powers, without that standard, would invite us to insert our political perspective into how a law should be,” Leonen said. In response, Molo said “deference [and] judicial restraint ends where the Bill of Rights begins.” —Marlon Ramos
As it is, the child car seat law supposedly taking effect this year has caught many private car owners by surprise. The measure requires children below 12 years old to be secured in “child restraint systems” while traveling. Asked how families with big children could comply, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Director Clarence Guinto’s nonchalant response only made things frustrating. “Siguro, Ma’am, laki-lakihan mo ang sasakyan mo (Maybe you should get a bigger vehicle),” Guinto told a TV news anchor in an interview. Netizens immediately called him out for insensitivity. The transport official later apologized, saying it was all in jest. “I realize now that it was inappropriate,” he added. The LTO director also clarified that children taller than 4 feet 11 inches, or 149.86 centimeters, are exempted from using a car restraint and that seat belts would do for them. —Mariejo S. Ramos
Convicted plunderer Janet Lim-Napoles on Friday was found guilty anew by the Sandiganbayan First Division of graft and malversation of public funds, again in connection with the pork barrel scam which she was said to have masterminded and which the Inquirer first exposed in 2013. Also found guilty of funneling millions of pesos in pork to a bogus nongovernmental organization under Napoles’ control were former Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula and other former government employees. In 2018 the graft court convicted Napoles of plunder but cleared one of the three senators implicated in the scandal, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. The court, however, ordered Revilla to return P124.5 million of the missing pork. He has not done so yet. Napoles is doing time at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City. —Nikka G. Valenzuela
Min Aung Hlaing
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s desire to drag Myanmar back to military rule is apparently no secret. His insistence that Aung San Suu Kyi’s landslide victory in November was a fraud was a red flag. Observers say personal ambition and limited career options within the Armed Forces pushed him to order the arrest of Suu Kyi and her allies. The general’s mandatory retirement is imminent and it was unlikely that Parliament would elect him president. The junta chief vowed that the “state of emergency” in Myanmar will last for one year. Yangon is having none of it. For several nights now, its streets have been drowned out by the noise of banging pots and honking car horns. Professionals are boycotting their jobs as part of a civil disobedience campaign and the UN Security Council is breathing down his neck.
Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Willie Marcial insists he had “never gone against the decision of the trade committee” following the controversial trade of former prized rookie CJ Perez. The transaction involved Terrafirma Dyip that signed him up originally and powerhouse San Miguel Beer (SMB). Terrrafirma got three SMB reserves—Russel Escoto, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Gelo Alolino—plus two future first-round picks. It didn’t take long before fans booed the swap. SMB, they claimed, gave up too little for a future superstar. Marcial maintains he has full faith in the trade committee. Fans want more accountability, noting that corrections made later were but a minor tweak. Despite justifications from Terrafirma officials themselves, fans and pundits continued panning the trade, adding to the woes of the PBA chief. —Louie Greg A. Rivera