Faces of the news
Alan Peter Cayetano
The country’s top diplomat has trained his guns on human rights groups, blaming them for the Duterte administration’s bad image abroad. A combative Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano faced the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month and accused nongovernment organizations (NGOs) critical of the administration of spreading misinformation. “Some of them have politicized and weaponized the issue for their own gain,” he said, adding that some NGOs were being “unwittingly used by drug lords.” He said: “Now it’s name-and-shame. It’s being used for politics, for business.” Without naming any group, he said these NGOs were helping frustrate Mr. Duterte’s desire to rid the country of illegal drugs. But his attacks apparently failed after police authorities said they had no evidence to back Cayetano’s accusation.
Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo
Months after the deaths of teenagers Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, it seemed like Caloocan City would be able to erase its image as a “killing field” in the Duterte administration’s drug war, with Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo at the helm. A National Police Commission survey released in February said the city police bested 14 other stations in Metro Manila as the “most trusted”—news that Modequillo found “so unbelievable” that he “almost fell off his chair” upon hearing it. But on March 26, his six-month stint as police chief came to an abrupt end due to his failure to solve more than half of the shootings in the city. Records showed that since he assumed the post in September last year, there had been 111 shootings in the city, of which only 51 were considered solved.
After threatening to file graft and disbarment cases against Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for interfering in the tax evasion case his city had filed against BDO Unibank, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña found himself in the hot seat. Aguirre accused him of protecting the illegal drug trade, saying that a witness, Reynaldo Diaz, alias “Jumbo,” had signed an affidavit alleging Osmeña was on a drug lord’s payroll and had received P2 million for hospitalization expenses in 2013, as well as P5 million during the 2016 elections. Saying he’s ready to face a probe, Osmeña scoffed at Aguirre’s claim. “Is that the way you’re going to defend yourself? ‘I’m innocent because Mayor Osmeña is a drug protector?’” he said, drawing attention to the recent dismissal of drug trafficking charges against Cebu businessman Peter Lim and his nephew, David Lim Jr.
Amid attempts to silence them, young people must stand their ground and speak up, the Pontiff said in his Palm Sunday homily at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, which coincided with World Youth Day. “Dear young people, you have it in you to shout,” the bishop of Rome said. “It is up to you not to keep quiet.” He noted that there were many ways to anesthetize, even sedate the youngsters “to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.” The Pope added: “Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, so often corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?” His message came a day after Young Catholics issued a final document from a weeklong Vatican-initiated conference, urging the Pope and the bishops to deal with the unequal roles of women in the Church.
After persuading the Florida legislature to pass a stricter gun control law and delivering a stirring speech at the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, mass shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez has become an American poster girl for gun control, and the object of a rightist smear campaign. The teenage Cuban-American has been vilified as a “skinhead lesbian” and a “crisis actor” in a staged mass shooting. An Iowa congressman even took to Facebook to criticize Gonzalez for claiming Cuban heritage while not speaking Spanish, and advocating gun control when her ancestors fled a dictatorship that disarmed people. Yet, the Jesuit Review America praised Gonzalez as “a Lenten penitent” who bears American society’s sins. “Her shaved head and her fierce and unapologetic expression force us to reckon with our own sins,” the publication said.
Philippine football team captain Phil Younghusband couldn’t have picked a more important game to score his 50th international goal. In front of the biggest crowd in recent years at Rizal Memorial Stadium, Younghusband struck from the penalty spot after teammate Patrick Reichelt was fouled inside the area, sealing a 2-1 win over Tajikistan that paved the way for the Filipinos to advance to the continental showpiece event in the United Arab Emirates, where they will mix it up with powerhouse teams from Australia, Japan, Iran and South Korea. It was a performance reminiscent of the Azkals of old as Younghusband typified the team’s never-say-die spirit. He was quick, however, to downplay his 50th goal for the country. “I don’t even care about goal [No. 50],” he said. “I’m just happy we’ve made the Asian Cup.”