Despite being one of the top favorites to win this year’s Miss Universe crown, Rachel Peters only made it as far as the Top 10 during the pageant’s coronation night held Sunday (Monday morning, Manila time) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 26-year-old Filipino-British model had figured prominently in pre-pageant fearless forecasts and drew some of the loudest cheers from her Filipino supporters at the Axis Theater in Planet Hollywood where the pageant took place.
Peters, who was also a favorite of model and pageant co-host Ashley Graham, was even voted in the Top 5 by those watching at home but did not get enough points from the judges, which included Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach.
But the Filipina struggled in cracking the Top 16 as Miss Universe adopted a new format where the first 12 will come from their respective regions (Asia Pacific, Americas and Europe). With only four slots given to Asia Pacific candidates, Peters did not make the initial cut.
She, however, later made it to the Top 16 as one of the last four “wildcard” candidates that were selected from any region.
On pageant night, Peters looked every inch like the formidable contender she was touted to be from the get-go. She was particularly stunning in the swimsuit competition and looked very regal in her elegant glittering outfit during the evening gown competition.
In the end, however, it was another Peters that took the crown. South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was named Miss Universe 2017, with Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez as first runner-up and Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett second runner-up.
Peters’ Top 10 finish follows Maxine Medina’s Top 6 outcome last year when the Philippines hosted the pageant in Manila for the third time. After the Philippines’ rise as a pageant powerhouse in recent years, Peters fared only slightly better than the country’s bets in the other three of the Big Four international pageants this year.
Prior to Miss Universe, Binibining Pilipinas-International 2017 Mariel de Leon failed to even make it to the semifinals of the Miss International 2017 pageant in Tokyo, Japan, while Miss World Philippines 2017 Laura Lehmann only made it as far as the Top 40 in this year’s Miss World beauty contest.
Only Karen Ibasco won the Miss Earth 2017 tilt held here in the Philippines.
The country fared better in the Miss Grand International pageant where Elizabeth Clenci placed second runner-up, Miss Globe 2017 where Nelda Ibe finished first runner-up and Reina Hispanoamericana won by actress Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez.
MANILA, Philippines – In an unusual move, the Senate overwhelmingly voted Monday, November 27, to double mining taxes even though there were no committee hearings conducted earlier to discuss the issue.
It was Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto who first introduced the proposal but later withdrew it. Senator Francis Escudero, however, revived it, saying it was high time to increase taxes of mining companies for “raping” the country.
This did not sit well with Senate ways and means committee chair Juan Edgardo Angara and Senate environment and natural resources chair Senator Cynthia Villar, who both said it was unfair for the industry to be taxed without hearing their side.“Madali ho magsalita pero sana ho may basehan ang sasabihin sa chamber,” Angara said. (It's easy to say that, but this chamber should have a basis for this.)
Villar, for her part, chided Escudero for abruptly introducing the proposal without any discussions in the committee level. As environment panel chair, Villar said they should have been consulted first.
“It’s not in the committee report. If one of the senators would want to tax somebody, they just move on the floor and tax that industry. I think this industry should be given a chance to be heard before we tax them,” Villar said.
“It’s unfair you come to the floor, it's not in the committee report, and you tax them without hearing their side,” she added.
In the end, the proposal won with a vote of 10-2, with 3 senators abstaining from voting. The three abstantions were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Angara and Villar.
The 2 opposing votes were from Senators Nancy Binay and Richard Gordon.
The 10 who supported the doubling of mining taxes included Recto, Escudero, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Grace Poe, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villuaneva, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Escudero got back and said Angara’s committee did not thoroughly consult people on the different issues involving the tax reform package, including the sugar-sweetened beverages and fuel, among others,
“Who did we exactly ask? Natanong ba lahat ng uminom ng 3-in-1, natanong mga grupo? My only concern, which I'd like to air, pag malalaking grupo na P2 billion lang kukunin, masyado tayong takot magreklamo. Yung kukunin sa sugar tax, ordinaryong tao, hindi tinanong P47 billion. Yung kukunin sa fuel tax, kung mapapasa, P37 billion. But who did we ask, selected consumer groups?” Escudero said.
(Did we ask all those who drink 3-in-? My concern is, if we will will taxing P2 billion from a big group, we are concerned over their complaints. But in the case of the sugar tax, the ordinary folks, we didn't ask about the P47 billion we will tax them. If we pass the fuel tax, did we ask selected consumer groups?)
Escudero said there are no legal issues with what he did, saying the Senate has the power to propose tax rules. He also urged his colleagues to not be “snagged” by the “procedural issue.”
“I don’t think we will be facing a legal problem. The Senate, sitting in plenary, can and has the power to do this,” Escudero said.
In an attempt to further push his point, Escudero said the committee did not ask groups when, just minutes earlier, it agreed to increase coal taxes by nearly 3000 percent – from P10 pesos per metric ton to P300 by 2020.
Angara refuted the claim, saying some groups have pushed for a tax of P1,200.
A seemingly irked Angara also enumerated the groups his committee consulted and said: “Mahirap ho magsalita pag wala sa hearing.” (You cannot comment, if you weren't in the hearings.)
At this point, Escudero already went out of the session hall. Sotto took the chance to explain his vote, as well as Escudero’s point.
“Simple lang boto ko, wala akong pakialam sa pinagsasabi nila. Ang akin, ang bansa natin tayo may-ari. Ang lupa atin, ang binubungkal na lupa atin, ang parte natin 2%.. o ayun,” Sotto said. (My vote is simple. I don't care what they just said. My point is this. We own this country. The ground is ours, the land they dig is ours. But our share is merely 2 percent. That's it.) – Rappler.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has declared that a Commission on Elections (Comelec) rule requiring private security personnel to secure gun ban exemptions during the election period is constitutional.
In a 22-page decision dated October 3 but publicized on Tuesday, November 14, the SC en banc denied for lack of merit the petition for certiorari filed by the Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators (PADPAO) Region 7 Chapter Incorporated. The decision was penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
PADPAO asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional Section 2(e), Rule III of Comelec Resolution Number 10015, which set the rules and regulations for the gun ban during the 2016 national and local elections.
Section 2(e) sets the documentary requirements for applications to secure an authority to bear, carry, or transport firearms or deadly weapons by members of private security service providers (PSSP) or private security agencies (PSA).
PADPAO argued that the Comelec "does not have any authority to promulgate" such rules covering PSAs.
It added that Republic Act 5487 or the Private Security Agency Law already grants them the authority to possess, bear, carry, and transport firearms, thus there is no need for them to apply for gun ban permits through the Comelec.
They further claimed that the resolution "violates the constitutional tenets of equal protection of laws and non-impairment of obligations of contracts as it impairs the contracts of its member PSAs with their respective clients."
PADPAO also said that the Comelec contradicted itself in Section 1 of the same resolution, which says members of PSSPs may carry firearms.
But the SC ruled that the Comelec was within its rule-making authority to issue the questioned provision in Resolution Number 10015. The Comelec's power to implement election laws is enshrined in the Constitution, the High Court said.
It also said that the PSAs' contracts with their clients "are not affected in any manner" by the Comelec rule to get authority from Comelec. "All that PSAs must do is to secure such authority," the SC said.
The SC added that RA 5487 "is not a blanket authority on PSAs to carry firearms." The said law "is not so restrictive as to prohibit other government agencies from imposing additional restrictions relating to the conduct of business by PSAs and PSSPs under special circumstances."
"In this case, the special circumstance is the election period," the High Court continued.
The Court then took judicial notice of the history of Philippine elections which "have been marred by violence and unnecessary bloodshed."
The SC said: "Additional guidelines must be put in place to eliminate, or at least, lessen the threat. Whether or not the gun ban has been an effective deterrent is a different matter, which is beyond the Court's domain."
The SC also ruled that the P50 filing fee for each security guard applying for a gun ban permit is a reasonable charge and "can hardly be said to be exorbitant." – Rappler.com
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) plans to transform itself into a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on social services once the Bangsamoro government is in place.
MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim revealed the plan when asked about the future of the group once the peace agreement with the Philippine government culminates in the passage and implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“It will already be a non-governmental organization which may be parallel operating with the government in serving the people,” Ebrahim told reporters at the old provincial capitol of Maguindanao on Monday night, November 28. He said MILF will not be disbanded after a Bangsamoro government is established.
In September, MILF central committee vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said the MILF had begun talking to other armed groups in the Southern Philippines to lay down their arms and support the proposed BBL.
Earlier on Monday, Moro leaders met with President Rodrigo Duterte, who keynoted the Bangsamoro Assembly, an event that gathered hundreds of thousands of people in the Maguindanao town of Sultan Kudarat.
During the event, Duterte vowed the passage of the long-stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during his term. (DOCUMENT: Revised draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law)
The BBL will implement the peace deal signed between the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014. The proposed measure pending at the House of Representatives seeks to expand the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The expanded ARMM, or the Bangsamoro government, will cover the present areas of the region, the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, several municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and some villages in Cotabato province that voted for inclusion in a 2001 plebiscite.
As an autonomous government, the proposed political entity will have its own chief minister, cabinet, and parliament comprised of officials elected to represent districts, political parties, indigenous peoples, women, youth, traditional leaders, and the ulama. – Rappler.com
MANILA, Philippines – In 2012, former chief justice Renato Corona was impeached – making him the first in the history of the Supreme Court to be removed from office in that manner.
A little over 5 years later, his successor Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is facing the same challenge as the House committee on justice hears an impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.
What are the differences – and similarities – in these two cases thus far? This will be updated as proceedings continue.
The complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno is being tackled by the House committee on justice.
Unlike the Sereno complaint, which has so far taken two whole days of committee hearings, the complaint against Corona went directly to the Senate which acted as the impeachment court.
According to the Rules of Impeachment, a complaint may be directly endorsed to the Senate if it has been signed by at least 1/3 of the House. The Corona complaint had the support of 188 legislators.
The complaint against Sereno filed by Gadon, meanwhile, was endorsed by only 25 legislators. (READ: CJ Sereno asks lawmakers to choose democracy over partisan interest)
While the House of Representatives has the number to send the complaint to the Senate, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in September 2017 said that he’d rather not take that route to avoid looking like “fools” before the impeachment court. (READ: Alvarez doesn't want repeat of 'unfair' Corona impeachment for Sereno)
It can be remembered that during the impeachment trial of Corona, the House prosecution was heavily criticized for lack of preparation. After all, it was only a little over a month between the day the House impeached Corona and the first day of the historic trial. (READ: The prosecution’s original sin)
A lawyer for Sereno, on November 22, 2017, said that they were “inclined” to have impeachment proceedings “expedited” and brought to the Senate, adding that the rights of the Chief Magistrate “will be protected” there.
“It is our inclination to have the proceedings before the committee expedited if they believe that the complainant has evidence then by all means, prepare the articles of impeachment," lawyer Alexander Poblador said.
In the case of Sereno, the complaint filed by Gadon includes in its grounds for impeachment "numerous acts that comprise culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust." (LOOK: Why petitioners want Sereno impeached)
The complaint lists supposed instances of delays and falsification of resolutions and temporary restraining orders. It also lists Sereno's alleged manipulation of the Judicial and Bar Council shortlist for vacancies in the Sandiganbayan and Supreme Court. (READ: How Sereno answered her impeachment complaint)
But the "strongest" argument for impeachment facing Sereno is the allegation of untruthful declaration in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).She has, however, consistently denied these accusations. (READ:Sereno impeachment: Summary of the Chief Justice's earnings, expenses)
The SALN issue is what connects the Corona and Sereno impeachment cases.
In the impeachment compliant filed by the House of Representatives, complainants cited Corona's untruthful disclosures in his SALN. He was eventually convicted of culpable violation of the 1987 Constitution and betrayal of public trust after being found guilty by the impeachment court. He was found to have failed to disclose US$2.4 million and P80 million in bank deposits in his SALN. (READ: Decrowned: The fall of Renato Corona)
Other grounds for impeachment against Corona included the dubious nature of his appointment as Chief Justice to the Supreme Court as then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was concluding her term as president.
The appointment of Corona was considered a "midnight appointment" – made just a month before the Aquino administration was to begin. The complaint against Corona also includeda betrayal of public trust "through his track record marked by partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration."
Both Sereno and Corona have been publicly called out by presidents.
Then president Benigno Aquino III consistently lashed out against Corona, calling his removal as key to achieving transparency and reforms in the judiciary. (READ: PNoy to Corona: 'Huwag n'yo na kaming paikutan’)
Corona, however, maintained that Aquino’s campaign for his removal was due to his voting for the distribution of the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita. Aquino, however, had already divested his shares in 2010. (READ: Corona found guilty, removed from office)
Sereno, meanwhile, has been asked various times by President Rodrigo Duterte to resign. The impeachment complaint filed against her is also supported by Duterte, even after he previously said he will not meddle with the process.
In October, he challenged both Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to resign together with him because of the corruption allegations they face.
A month after on November 6, Malacañang called on the Chief Magistrate to step down.
"I call upon Chief Justice Sereno to really consider resigning only to spare the institution from any further damage," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. – Rappler.com
This article will be updated as the impeachment proceedings continue.
Question: I have been notified by the FBI that they want me to testify against some very bad people. Is there anything I can do for my lack of Immigration Status?
Answer: It may be possible for you to get the S Visa. An S nonimmigrant is an individual who has assisted a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant. A law enforcement agency may submit an application for permanent residence (a green card) on behalf of a witness or informant when the individual has completed the terms and conditions of his or her S classification. Thus, not only can you get a temporary ‘S’ Visa, but you can also get a permanent residency if the proper requisites are met.
Question: So what must I do?
Answer: First, you would have to file Form I-854, Interagency Alien Witness and Informant Record. This form is to be completed by the federal or state law enforcement agency or U.S. Attorney’s Office that initially filed for the S nonimmigrant status on your behalf.
Evidence that the witness or informant has fulfilled his or her obligations as an S nonimmigrant and provided information about all potential grounds of inadmissibility must be included with the completed and signed Form I-854 application. Failure to disclose all grounds of inadmissibility may result you being removed (deported) from the United States. There are many more grounds that are waivable under the S Visa verses many other types of visas.
Question: What is the next step?
Answer: After Form I-854 is approved, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You should check box “h” in part 2 of the I-485 application and write “S Nonimmigrant” or “S-Qualified Family Member” on the line next to box “h.” Thus, the S Visa is not only available to you, but to family members as well.
Question: When I submit the adjustment package, what evidence should I submit?
Answer: You should submit the following: Two passport-style photos; Form G-325A, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age; Copy of birth certificate; Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record; Copy of Form I-94, Entry/Exit Record (if you have it); Copies of all pages in your passport. If you do not have a passport, you should submit an explanation of why you do not have a passport; A list showing the dates of all arrivals and departures from the United States while you were in S nonimmigrant status with an explanation for each departure of why you left the United States; Evidence of the relationship to the principal S nonimmigrant witness or informant (e.g., birth certificate, marriage certificate) if you are filing for a green card as a derivative beneficiary of an S nonimmigrant; Proof of employment and applicable fees.
Thus, as you can see, the S Visa can give great benefits if you qualify. In response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, Congress passed a legislation making permanent a provision that allows aliens with critical information on criminal or terrorist organizations to come into the United States to provide information to law enforcement officials. This legislation (S. 1424) became P.L. 107-45 on October 1, 2001. The law amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide permanent authority for the administration of the “S” visa, which was scheduled to expire on September 13, 2001. On November 29, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the “Responsible Cooperators Program” to reach out to individuals who may be eligible for the S visa. The S visa quota allows 200 criminal informants and 50 terrorist informants to be admitted annually to the U.S. Since FY1995, almost 900 informants and their accompanying family members have entered on S visas.
This is the third column I am writing about the same tax bill now consuming both houses of Congress. Is anyone else beside herself or himself about this or am I the only one who thinks partisan politics has hijacked the original objectives of our elected officials…which is to serve the people? Whether it’s an R bill or a D bill, it comes at a disproportionate expense to the State of California and other coastal states. I’ve discussed the elimination of deductibility of the state and local taxes. But I haven’t yet discussed the impact on the California real estate market. There are two major impacts that I see. Perhaps you can decide for yourself if they are good or bad.
The first is supply of rentals. With lower caps on mortgage interest deductibility and the elimination or capping of real estate tax deductibility, more supply of rentals could come on the market. For people with second homes in the Bay Area, in fact, throughout the country, the quickest way to make your real estate and mortgage interest tax deductible once again is to rent out your property. As a business expense, these costs are still deductible against income. On a relative basis, this makes the decision to rent out an empty home even more compelling. With additional supply of properties coming on the rental market, the price of rentals should, in theory, feel pressure. However, we have just had massive displacement from the fires in the North Bay so it is difficult to predict how much additional supply of rentals will be absorbed by demand if it were to come on the market.
The second impact is the potential repatriation of untaxed profits of US companies sitting in foreign subsidiaries. There is anywhere from $1.7 trillion of US profits that were earned remain abroad due to the 35% corporate tax rate. If that rate is lowered (there is a special rate for repatriated money), it could cause of a flood of liquidity to the United States that would be equivalent to two more Quantitative Easings. This potential tsunami of cash will inevitably find its way into the capital markets first into money market funds and then short term treasuries, then other short term debt, then the broader bond market, then finally the public and private equity markets. All this cash will inevitably, through the public and private equity markets, find some its way into the housing market in the Bay Area as well as other cities affected by rocketing stock prices and new IPOs. The already ridiculous price tags of homes in the Bay Area may already have another leg up.
I think the increased supply of rentals will happen within a year of the implementation of the tax law whereas the rising real estate values may take years to play out. Provided the bill passes as is, the action plan is clear to me: buy real estate if there is an initial correction following the tax bill. The long term inflationary hedge it provides may be even more compelling in the next 10 years than it has in the last 10.
Every so often, I feel like writing less serious matters for my column. This is one of those times.
I’m at an age when a lot of my peers are retired. Some are even dead. But I continue to work for the simple reason that I enjoy what I’m doing. But being a newsman does have its downers. For one, most of what’s considered newsworthy these days is actually bad news. Awful even.
So I relax by watching a lot of movies and TV shows. Being a resident of Makati, I get to watch as many movies as my eyes can take. All free by virtue of my being a senior citizen.
I love fantasy, horror and sci-fi movies. I am especially nuts over the superhero films that have been coming out in the last decade or so. As a kid, I spent a good part of my allowance buying comic books. As a pre-teen, I enjoyed DC Comics, specifically Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. Wonder Woman too.
But as I grew older, I discovered Marvel comics, and I was hooked. I began collecting the biggies, from SpiderMan to the Fantastic Four to The Avengers, to Daredevil, et al.
At its peak, my collection was in the hundreds, with 90 percent being Marvel and 10 percent DC. If I had taken extra good care of them, they would be worth millions. Yes, millions. But a flash flood in our Pasay home destroyed by collection. That still qualifies as one of the saddest days of my life.
Not too long ago, a young friend who happens to be some kind of techie offered to download for me all the comics of my youth, and then some. So yes, I have my lost collection back, but in digital format. And no, it’s not quite the same.
Anyway, very recently – as in the last three weeks – two superhero movies were shown in the theaters, and I was among the first to watch both. The first was Thor Ragnarok, which I enjoyed immensely. Then there was Justice League, which I really wanted to enjoy, but halfway through the movie I felt cheated.
I had seen Wonder Woman a few months ago, and that was a terrific movie, as most people would agree.
My problem with Justice League? I could not recognize my two favorite DC heroes, Batman and Superman. Their onscreen personas had changed, and not for the better.
First, let’s take Superman. I never did like the change in the costume. Sure, the old Man of Steel wore what looked like his underwear over his tights. But that’s how he was drawn from the start.
And it’s not just the cosmetic change that I did not agree with. In the old days, Supes stood for “truth, justice, and the American way.” He was the American Boy Scout who could fly. He was almost perfect, but for his one weakness, kryptonite.
The Christopher Reeve version of Superman got it perfectly right. But now, we have a brooding guy who sometimes feels sorry or angry at himself for being an alien on planet Earth.
Thumbs down to this not very super Superman.
Then there’s Batman. I don’t know if his late creator Bob Kane would even recognize this version. For one, the original Batman hates guns and doesn’t kill people. For reasons I cannot fathom, the suits at Warner Brothers decided that this caped crusader should be a cold-blooded, trigger happy killer.
Two thumbs down for that, ladies and gentlemen.
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always believed that superheroes do not only possess all kinds of powers, but they should also be worthy of emulation. They should be the best of the best. Now, what we have are angst-ridden men and women who do not make good role models.
I still enjoy most Marvel movies, even the ones done by Fox and Sony. Most of the time, good conquers evil.
This may not be true for real life, but that’s exactly my point. “Mere” movies should still deliver positive messages.
There may not be real life men and women who possess super strength, super speed and magic hammers. But there is one super powered country, and that’s the US of A. As such, the US should show the world that, as SpiderMan says, with great power comes great responsibility.
What I’d like to see in real life is for the superpower that is the US to flex its muscle and use its strength to make the world a better place. Is that too much to ask?