STRAIGHT TALK

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BY ED LIBRANDA

THE MISSING LINK

- BANTAG CASE

I watched the interrogation of the alleged gunman by the Philippine National Police through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) headed by Secretary Benhur Abalos and Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Crispin Jesus "Boying" Remulla. The alleged gunman Joey Escoto appeared in a televised press conference and admitted to killing the radio-tv host Percy Lapid.

 

Before he was appointed DILG head, Abalos was the campaign manager of President Ferdinand Bongbong R. Marcos, Jr. during the  May 2022 presidential election. 

Secretary Abalos and PNP Chief Azurin decided to conduct a press conference at Camp Crame and announced the surrender of the alleged gunman Joel Escorial was interviewed by DILG Sec. Benhur  Abalos regarding his participation in the fatal assassination of Lapid Fire host Percy Lapid.

The combined DILG, PNP, and DOJ presented a Matrix of all the participants in the killing of Percy Lapid, pinning the alleged leading players on Bureau of Correction (BUCOR) Director General Gerald Bantag and Bucor  Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta.


Zulueta was nowhere to be found, while Bantag was visibly open to an interview, depending on his alleged participation in the killing of Percy Lapid, and was on his way to his residence.
DOJ Secretary Boying Remulla engaged suspended Bureau of Correction (BUCOR) Director General Bantag into presscon exchamge. Charges and countercharges were hurled both by Remulla and Bantag with each other.


Testimonies of Christopher Escoto with the Lapid case do not seem to jibe with Escoto's supplemental affidavit.


The purported second middleman, Christopher "Jeric Sandoval" Bacoto, denied knowing the alleged gunman, Joel Escorial. Bacoto was not included in Escorial's original confession with the Philippine National Police (PNP), but for what reason was Bacoto included in a supplemental admission by Escorial?
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PERSPECTIVE

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RIGOBERTO TIGLAO

VP Harris' visit to Palawan will raise Taiwan, South China Sea tensions

By Rigoberto Tiglao November 21,  2022, Repiblished from The Manila Times

WHEN reporters asked if he thought US Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to Palawan this week might pique China, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the other day in Bangkok: "No, I don't see why it should. She is in the Philippines, and she is visiting another part of the Philippines. And of course, it is the closest area to the South China Sea, but it's very clearly on Philippine territory. So, I don't think it will cause problems."

Marcos' statements were a remarkable display of naiveté, sarcasm, or maybe condescension toward media. Reporters should have thrown back to Marcos their own sarcasm: "Will she go to El Nido, Amanpulo, or just the world-famous Underground River?"


C'mon now, Harris' visit to Palawan tomorrow is not just a visit to "another part of the Philippines" by just another US official. It will raise the geopolitical temperature in our region. It will be a geopolitical tremor, and thus was headline news in Western newspapers' foreign sections.

A Reuters article filed in Washington, D.C. linked the visit to the Spratly Islands dispute, which it inarguably is:

"Harris will be the highest-ranking American official to visit the island chain adjacent to the Spratly Islands. China has dredged the sea floor to build harbors and airstrips on the Spratlys, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

"The trip will show the administration's commitment to stand with our Philippine ally in upholding the rules-based international maritime order in the South China Sea, supporting maritime livelihoods and countering illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing," Reuters quoted an unnamed senior Biden administration official.

Rare trip

Another headline for an article by another international media; "Days after Biden's face-to-face meeting with Xi Jinping, Harris is making a rare trip to a South China Sea hotspot."

Jose Manuel Romualdez, our ambassador to the US pointed to another meaning of the US vice president's visit by disclosing to Reuters — a big booboo — that Marcos and Harris in their meeting "will touch on the Taiwan situation." Will Harris tell Marcos: "We expect your full cooperation in turning over the Palawan military base for our use when we fight China over Taiwan?"

Indeed, Harris' visit to Palawan is being undertaken barely a month after Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared at the Chinese Communist Party's 20th Congress that the takeover of Taiwan would be the party's priority in his third, most probably last term. Xi said in his speech at the Congress that the "wheels of history" are turning toward Taiwan's return to China.

And when communists say that "history" will be doing this or that, it more often than not means that it is the party that is history's instrument. Some analysts fear that China's takeover of Taiwan would take place sooner than later to take advantage of the US and the West's deep involvement in defending Ukraine from Russia. This has so far cost the Americans $20 billion at a time when it needs all the money it can raise to repair its severely Covid-damaged economy.


Beijing message

However, Harris' visit is a message to Beijing: "With that sonofabitch Duterte now out of power, the Philippines is again under our wing with this I-cannot-imagine-the Philippines-without-the-US president, Under the agreement we hoodwinked President Aquino 3rd into agreeing in April 2014, we can quickly convert the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan facing Taiwan as our advanced military base, its 2,600-meter airstrip capable of being used by our biggest military and cargo planes. So stop dreaming of taking over Taiwan."

It’s really just one facility with one airstrip. Photo taken with Google Earth Pro
It’s really just one facility with one airstrip. Photo taken with Google Earth Pro
The Antonio Bautista Air Base is one of five euphemistically termed "agreed locations" — Philippine military camps, that is — under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) the Aquino 3rd government handed over to the US in 2014 to use as it pleases.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Soaring US dollar spreads pain in PH, worldwide

Associated Press 


By Associated Press October 18, 2022 850


RAYMOND Manaog, 29, a jeepney driver in Manila, complains that inflation -- and especially the rising price of diesel -- is forcing him to more to get by.

"What we have to do to earn enough for our daily expenses," he said. "If before we traveled our routes five times, now we do it six times."

Security guard Mustafa Gamal had to send his wife and year-old daughter to live with his parents in a village 70 miles south of the Egyptian capital to save money.

 

Gamal, 28, stayed behind, working two jobs, sharing an apartment with other young people, and eliminating meat from his diet. "The prices of everything have been doubled," he said. "There was no alternative.″

Peso was slightly up at P58.98 vs the dollar
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Around the world, people are sharing Manaog and Gamal's pain and frustration. An auto parts dealer in Nairobi, a baby clothes seller in Istanbul, and a wine importer in Manchester, England, has the same complaint.

A surging US dollar makes their local currencies weaker, contributing to skyrocketing prices for everyday goods and services. This is compounding financial distress when families are already facing food and energy crunches tied to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"A strong dollar makes a bad situation worse in the rest of the world," says Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University. Many economists worry that the sharp rise of the dollar is increasing the likelihood of a global recession sometime next year.

 

The dollar is up 18 percent this year and last month hit a 20-year high, according to the benchmark ICE US Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of key currencies. More global forex turmoil ahead — peso not immune

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Dual Nationality

Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”

 

Therefore, U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Non-citizen nationality status refers only to individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States.

 

The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries simultaneously. Each country has its own nationality laws based on its own policy.

 

Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. national and a national of the country of birth. Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national. 

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so. In order to relinquish U.S. nationality by virtue of naturalization as a citizen of a foreign state, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Intent may be shown by the person’s statements and conduct.

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BUSINESS

LRA digitizes land title transactions

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat. MB, Published November 14, 2022, 2:01 PM


The Land Registration Authority (LRA) announced that its Land Titling Computerization Project (LTCP) had digitized land title transactions in the country through its enhanced eSerbisyo portal.

LRA Administrator Gerardo P. Sirios said during the Subdivision, and Housing Developers Association’s (SHDA) National Developers Convention 2022 noted it has already streamlined the processing of certified true copies (CTC) of documents and titles via its port.

“The new normal is coming from the pandemic two years ago. We see internet use during the work-from-home arrangement. Thus, we are trying to improve our computerization program,” said Sirios.

The LTCP aims to have more secured titles and documents and prevent duplication and overlaps; standardize the processes, fees, and requirements; have up-to-date information and records available and accessible anywhere; and have disaster recovery and business continuity.

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Outlook for Philippine tourism positive: DOT chief

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November 9, 2022, 11:35 am PNA

LONDON, United Kingdom – The Philippines is ready to receive more tourists as the outlook for Philippine tourism remains positive, with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. making it a priority of his administration.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco addressed tourism ministers and international travel and tourism executives during the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Aligned Advocacy Dinner on Nov. 7 at One Great George Street in London.

“Before my assumption on June 30th, the projections were that the Philippines would receive 1.7 million tourists by the end of this year. Since we have begun with all the programs and plans of the Marcos administration, we have far surpassed this goal,” Frasco said.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

New photos of China-made islands in Spratlys show scale of military buildup

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By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter /

@FMangosingINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:10 AM November 02, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — A new set of highly detailed photographs of China’s man-made islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea captures the scale of its military buildup on these far-flung rocks and reefs, some of them located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“Some mobile assets (the aircraft, missile boats, and missile launcher trucks) show they are now operating actively as armed bases for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance,” said maritime security expert Jay Batongbacal who examined the photos taken by Getty Images photojournalist Ezra Acayan on Oct. 25 likely during a maritime patrol.

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     NOV. 21 - 28, 2022

US VP Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines

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United States Vice President Kamala Harris is the highest-ranking American official to visit the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. so far

NOV 20, 2022 7:08 PM , BY SOFIA TOMACRUZ, RAPPLER


MANILA, Philippines – United States Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, November 20, marking her first vice-presidential trip to Washington’s oldest ally in Asia.

Harris, whose visit stretches until Tuesday, November 22, traveled to the Southeast Asian country as part of efforts from the Biden administration to convince the region that it is a “better partner” for the Indo-Pacific.


Her trip comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s travel to the region, where he met with key leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 

 

“The Vice President will make clear that the United States has an enduring commitment to Southeast Asia,” a senior administration official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday, November 16.

 

For the Philippines, Harris’ visit is the highest-ranking so far by a US official under the Marcos administration after Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the country in August. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in early June, shortly before Marcos’ term began.
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 Ex-Manila Cong Angping reportedly arrested for sexual harassment in

Thai hotel  

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Photo shows former Manila Congressman Harry Angpin

By POLITIKO.COM

MANILA, Philippines —The husband of Presidential Management Staff Secretary Zenaida Angping has allegedly brought international shame to President Bongbong Marcos for failing to rein in his lustful desires in the middle of a high-powered summit of global leaders.

Former Manila Congressman Harry Angping, 70, was allegedly arrested by the Bangkok police for sexual harassment of hotel staff at the Marriot Marquis Queens Hotel in Bangkok, according to multiple sources of Politiko.

Marcos and the top members of his delegation are booked in the five-star hotel for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit from November 16 to 19.

In a reply to media queries on the alleged arrest of Harry, an official of the Office of Press Secretary (OPS)) said: “Nega.”

The former lawmaker, a member of the Nacionalista Party, was Manila’s representative in the House from 1998 to 2004.

He also served as Philippine Sports Commission chairman from 2009 to 2010.

Harry was previously barred from leaving the country after being charged with graft for allegedly hiring 71 janitors and nine gardeners without public bidding as then PSC boss in 2009.
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SUSPENDED BUCOR CHIEF:
No arrest warrant, no surrender

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By Franco Jose C. Baroña, Francis Earl Cueto and William B. Depasupil, November 15, 2022, TMT

(UPDATE) SUSPENDED Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag, who is implicated in the killing of broadcaster Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa and a prison inmate, said on Monday he would not surrender until an arrest warrant is issued against him.

Bantag said that Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla is in a hurry to get him jailed by asking him to surrender. However, the preliminary investigation into the Mabasa case has not even started.


"I don't have an arrest warrant yet, but he is asking me to surrender. There is no subpoena yet. There is no preliminary investigation. Nothing yet. Why are they in a hurry? It's like they want to put me in jail already," said Bantag.

"Kung ako ay ibon, inilagay na nila ako sa hawla, ganoon ang gusto nilang mangyari (If I were a bird, they would have put me in a cage. That is what they want to happen)," he added.

Bantag admitted he had a good working relationship with Remulla before he was implicated as the mastermind in the Mabasa murder.

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Villar, Tulfo clash over farmlands conversion, Rice Tariffication law

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:Senators Raffy "Idol" Tulfo (left) and Cynthia Villar, right. (File Photo)

 

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Published November 17, 2022, 3:21 PM by Hannah Torregoza, MB

MANILA, Philippines — A heated verbal exchange ensued between Senators Cynthia Villar and Raffy Tulfo when the latter raised the topic of private developers converting farmlands into residential and commercial spaces during the Senate’s deliberations on the proposed 2023 national budget.

It was Tulfo who raised the issue of the agricultural lands in the Philippines decreasing, especially in the provinces, when Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, defended the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Tulfo inquired about what the DA is doing about this practice and what actions the agency plans to take to address the issue.

But Villar, who owns Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., said developers like them do not buy lands in provinces as they only buy houses in cities and capital towns.

“That’s our business. I want to tell you that we don’t buy agricultural lands in the provinces. Nobody will buy houses on agricultural lands,” Villar said.

But Tulfo, who hails from the province of Isabela, said he has proof that farmlands there are being converted into subdivisions.

“Kaya nga po iyan iyong dahilan bakit gusto ko po na maipasa ang (That is why I wanted to pursue the passage into law of the) National Land Use Act,” Tulfo said.

 

To this, Villar reiterated that property developers don’t buy agricultural lands in the provinces and said that converting lands in cities into subdivisions is permissible.
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P80-M in gold jewelry found inside aircraft lavatory

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GOLD DISCOVERY A Customs examiner inspects the jewelry found inside a Philippine Airlines plane lavatory on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. The 24.4 kilos of assorted pieces of jewelry, estimated at P80 million, were found inside lavatory of PR 301, which landed at NAIA-Terminal 2 from Hongkong on the same day. (BoC-NAIA photo)

By Benjamin L. Vergara, TMT, November 18, 2022 2270

MANILA, Philippines — THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) foiled an attempt to smuggle 24.4 kilos of assorted pieces of gold jewelry found inside the aircraft's lavatory.

Customs authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Aiport (NAIA) said the jewelry pieces were initially discovered during the boarding formalities conducted by Customs Boarding Inspector from the Aircraft Operations Division.

Port of NAIA Collector Carmelita M. Talusan on Friday said she has ordered a thorough investigation to identify "the persons responsible for this smuggling attempt."

   
The gold jewelry was discovered on a Philippine Airlines flight PR301 from Hong Kong on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, after it arrived at 2:28 p.m. The value, the BoC said, was estimated to be around P80 million.

Meanwhile, PAL spokesman Cielo Villaluna also said the airline is "cooperating with authorities conducting an investigation."

She said PAL Security Department immediately reported the incident to the PNP Aviation Security Group based at the NAIA Terminal 2.

"Upon discovery, the PNP endorsed the items to the Bureau of Customs. PAL continues to cooperate with the PNP and the BoC to ensure an orderly and thorough probe," Villaluna added.

She said that the carrier could not issue any further statement on the issue pending the completion of the investigation by authorities. "Rest assured, the investigation is underway to ferret out the truth behind this incident."###

PH rejects same-sex marriage: We’re not ready for that, says DOJ’s Remulla

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: A couple hold hands wrapped in a rainbow flag as thousands of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual Transgender/Transexual Queer (LGBTQ) members hold a pride march at a sports complex in Marikina City in this file photo taken on June 30, 2018. AFP photo

By: Tetch Torres-Tupas - Reporter / @T2TupasINQINQUIRER.net / 08:41 PM November 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is firm against same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage was among the recommendations made by member-states of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the Legalization of Abortion and Divorce that was rejected by the country.


“Culturally, our values may [has a] conflict with many of the values that they want to impose upon us…That’s what we believe, ha, unless somebody argues otherwise; that is our position right now,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a press conference.

Over the weekend, Remulla also said that the country is rejecting measures such as the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression Equality (SOGIE) bill.

“I think, culturally, we are not ready for that,” Remulla said.

 

If the country rejected same-sex marriage, it has deferred its stand on divorce because, according to Remulla, it is a matter that is up to the legislators.

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Remarks by Vice President Harris And President Marcos of the Republic of the Philippines Before Bilateral Meeting
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US Vice President Pamela Harris and President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in a meeting  in Malacanan Palace

PRESIDENT MARCOS:  Madam Vice President, I’m delighted to be able to welcome you to the Philippines on your first visit —
 
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Yes.
 
PRESIDENT MARCOS:  — to our country after our very, very brief conversation back in — back in Bangkok.
 
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Yes.
 
PRESIDENT MARCOS:  And we have been looking forward to this visit for — for a while, and we’ve been preparing for it.  The vice president has been — has been working hard to make sure that the visit goes well and smoothly.
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China says no forcible taking of floating object from PH Navy; AFP report ‘inconsistent with facts’

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Published November 21, 2022, 9:48 PM, by Joseph Pedrajas, MB

MANILA, Philippines — China has denied reports that its coast guard forcibly took from the Philippine Navy an unidentified object off Pag-asa Island.

In a statement on Monday night, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said China’s coast guard took the object, which turned out to be the wreckage of a rocket launched by China, after a “friendly consultation” with the Philippine side.

It then alleged that “relevant reports,” which came from the country’s Armed Forces, “are inconsistent with facts.”

 

Quoting Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the embassy said what happened was that it was the Chinese personnel that saw the wreckage floating “in the waters off Nansha Islands” at around 8 a.m. of Sunday.
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3 Fil-Am Candidates Lead Races

In Nevada

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Erica Mosca, Mari Parlade and Tiffany Jones 

BALLOTS are still being counted following the midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8, including prominent races in Nevada: governor and the U.S. Senate.
In state and local races in the Silver State, three Filipina Americans are leading their respective races for the Assembly and a court district.
Democratic candidate and education advocate Erica Mosca captured 64.98% of the vote for the Nevada Assembly District 14 seat, beating out Republican Shawn Stamper (35%), according to results from the Nevada Secretary State, as of this writing.

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