Opinion & Community

Kin of 35 slain drug suspects seek SC relief

The petitioners and residents of San Andres Bukid in Manila sought relief from the high court. File
MANILA, Philippines — The families of 35 drug suspects killed by police in supposed anti-narcotics operations yesterday filed a petition against the Duterte administration’s war on drugs before the Supreme Court (SC).

The petitioners and residents of San Andres Bukid in Manila sought relief from the high court.

In a 57-page petition filed by lawyers from the Center for International Law, the group asked the SC to issue a temporary protection order prohibiting police from getting near their homes and workplaces.


Named respondents were the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel, MPD Station 6 commander Superintendent Olivia Ancheta Sagaysay and Superintendents Jerry Corpuz and Robert Domingo.

The other respondents are members of the MPD Station 6. They are Police Officers 2 Rhafael Rodriguez, Princeton Felia, Jocelyn Samson, Francisco Mendoza and Roestrell Ocampo; PO1s Harry Allan Cruz, Kennith Gaa and Efren Guitering; PO3s Allan Escramosa and Rodolfo Ocampo Jr., and Senior Inspector Concorcio Pangilinan.

The petitioners also sought to stop the respondents from harassing, contacting or communicating with them directly or indirectly.

A majority of the drug suspects had surrendered to authorities under Oplan Tokhang but were still killed by police, according to the group.

“Even those who were merely at the wrong place, at the wrong time were killed. It appeared that the police have generated a ‘kill list’ from the barangays,” the petition read.

The residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid asked the SC to stop police from coercing barangay officials to submit a list of drug suspects in the community.

The petition cited the violence allegedly perpetrated by members of the MPD Station 6 in San Andres Bukid and nearby areas.

The petitioners asked the SC to enjoin the respondents from conducting anti-drug operations in San Andres Bukid without coordination and presence of representatives from the PDEA, barangay officials and members of media.

Similar petitions against the war on drugs have been filed before the high court.

A petition for a writ of amparo was filed by a survivor and families of four men allegedly killed by operatives of the Quezon City Police District during anti-drug operations in Payatas last year.

Last month, a group of lawyers, led by Evalyn Ursua, asked the high court to order the PNP and other government agencies to resolve drug-related killings.

Last week, human rights group Free Legal Assistance Group filed a petition that sought to stop the PNP’s Oplan Double Barrel.


Trillanes in US to stop Trump visit to Philippines?

Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, met with US senators on a recent trip to the US to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s widely criticized drug war. Senate PRIB, File
MANILA, Philippines — Because of the human rights situation in the Philippines, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is reportedly trying to convince US senators to discourage US President Donald Trump from proceeding with his trip to the Philippines, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, met with US senators on a recent trip to the US to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s widely criticized drug war.

US Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed the meeting with Trillanes through his official Twitter account on Oct. 18.


“Senator Trillanes and I discussed US-Philippines alliance, combating corruption and protecting human rights amid their narcotics crisis,” Rubio wrote.

Last night a member of the staff of Trillanes said the senator was on “official business” in the US.

The staff member, who declined to be identified, expressed surprise over the reports that Trillanes was trying to discourage US officials from attending the ASEAN leaders’ summit next month.

“We don’t know anything about that but the senator is indeed in LA (Los Angeles),” the staff member said.

Trump is set to visit the Philippines in November to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related meetings, the White House confirmed last month.

The visit will take place during a tour from Nov. 3 to 14 which will also include stops in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the US state of Hawaii.

Trillanes also met with other US lawmakers, sources said.

“Trillanes has been discussing the human rights situation in the country and trying to convince the US senators to discourage Trump from coming to the Philippines,” a source said yesterday.

However, the source said that Trump’s visit to the Philippines is for the ASEAN summit.

“The visit is really about ASEAN and not just the Philippines,” the source said.

The same source said the controversial drug war, which has been widely criticized by foreign media and human rights organizations, is now being implemented by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and no longer by the police.

In a memorandum dated Oct. 10, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Postal Office and other “ad hoc anti-drug task force” to leave the implementation of the drug war to the PDEA, raising the public’s hopes that the agency would adhere to the rule of law.

Duterte’s memorandum came just days after his latest survey results showed the biggest drop in his ratings.

Duterte’s net satisfaction and trust ratings suffered double-digit drops in the third quarter of the year amid criticisms over his brutal war on drugs.

Six in 10 Filipinos, or 67 percent of adult Filipinos, said they were satisfied with Duterte while 19 percent were dissatisfied, resulting in a net satisfaction score of “good” +48.

If Trump’s visit to the Philippines pushes through, however, it might signal an improvement in US-Philippine relations.

Duterte severely criticized the US government during the time of then president Barack Obama for expressing concern over the bloody anti-drug campaign. – With Paolo Romero


Trump was insensitive in call to widow - soldier's mother

The mother of a US soldier who was killed in action has backed a congresswoman's claim that President Donald Trump showed insensitivity during a phone call to her son's widow.

Representative Frederica Wilson said he had told Myeshia Johnson: "He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway."

Mr Trump said Ms Wilson's account was "totally fabricated".

Sgt La David Johnson was killed in Niger by Islamist militants this month.

He was one four US special service soldiers who died in an ambush.

Mr Trump had already been criticised for not contacting the families of the dead servicemen right after the fatal ambush on 4 October.

Sgt Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, backed Representative Wilson's account of the phone call.

"President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," she told the Washington Post newspaper.

What does Trump's accuser say?

Ms Wilson, who represents a Florida district, told CNN the president's call had been made shortly before Sgt Johnson's coffin arrived by aircraft in his home city of Miami.

Ms Wilson told WPLG, a Miami TV station, she had heard the president's "so insensitive" remarks to the widow on speakerphone in a limousine.

"To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn't say that to a grieving widow," she said.

"And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don't remind a grieving widow of that."

Sgt Johnson's widow with his coffin at Miami International Airport, 17 Oct 17Image copyrightCBS NEWS/US ARMY
Image captionSgt Johnson's widow with his coffin at Miami International Airport

Ms Wilson told the Washington Post that Ms Johnson, who is expecting the couple's third child, had broken down in tears after the conversation.

"He made her cry," Ms Wilson said. 

The congresswoman told the newspaper that she had wanted to grab the phone and "curse him out", but an army sergeant who was holding the handset would not let her speak to the president.

How did Trump respond?

The president tweeted on Wednesday morning: "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"

Mr Trump has yet to provide any evidence.

A White House official said Mr Trump's conversations with the families of dead servicemen were private.

Mr Trump later told reporters: "I did not say what she [Ms Wilson] said... I had a very nice conversation."

When asked about what "proof" he could offer, Mr Trump said: "Let her make her statement again, then you will find out."

Ms Johnson responded to Mr Trump's denial by tweeting: "I still stand by my account of the call b/t @realDonaldTrump and Myeshia Johnson. That is her name, Mr Trump. Not "the woman" or "the wife".

presentational line
US President Donald Trump listens to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White HouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Trump has been criticised for the alleged remarks


By Anthony Zurcher, senior North America reporter, BBC News

In US politics, nothing is off-limits any more.

After (inaccurately) swiping at his predecessors for not calling the family members of US soldiers killed in combat, Mr Trump is on the defensive over allegations he mishandled a call with a grieving widow. 

The accuser is a partisan Democratic congresswoman and the president, not surprisingly, is pushing back hard. This controversy is spiralling towards the gutter.

Mr Trump made this bed, however. He was quick to cite the slain son of chief of staff John Kelly to justify his contention that Barack Obama didn't always make phone calls. Then there were the disparaging comments candidate Mr Trump made last summer about the parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq.

The more this story drags on - and it will drag on - the more damage it could do to a president who wraps himself in the symbols of patriotism and the military, but is in danger of being viewed by the public as lacking empathy when it counts most. 

An important presidential role is consoler-in-chief during times of tragedy. Successful politicians learn early that they need a human touch. 

It's a job Mr Trump, the anti-politician, has little experience doing - and it shows.

presentational line

How did this row begin?

Mr Trump has been on the defensive over the deaths in Niger since a reporter asked him at the White House on Monday why he had still not called the families.

He provoked fury by falsely claiming that his predecessor, Barack Obama, and other former US presidents had not called the relatives of dead service members.

Media captionTrump denigrates Obama over false fallen soldier claim

Mr Trump also said he had written letters to the families of the four servicemen killed in Niger and planned to call them soon. The White House later said the president had spoken to the families but it did not say when.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump ratcheted up the row by suggesting that President Obama had not called the family of Mr Trump's chief of staff, Gen John Kelly, when his son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

The Associated Press says that like presidents before him, Mr Trump has made personal contact with some families of dead soldiers - but not all.

"What's different is that Trump, alone among them, has picked a political fight over who's done better to honour the war dead and their families," the American news agency reports.

"He placed himself at the top of this pantheon, boasting Tuesday that 'I think I've called every family of someone who's died' while past presidents didn't place such calls'."

Not the first time

This is not the first time Mr Trump has found himself in an imbroglio over US veterans.

As presidential candidate, he mocked Senator John McCain for having been captured and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam after his aircraft was shot down. 

Mr McCain has been praised for the bravery he showed during torture by his VietCong captors, and for his leadership of other American prisoners.

Mr Trump also engaged in a feud with the parents of decorated army captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American who was killed in Iraq in 2004.


KABATI, KAGALIT | EU is VP Leni’s friend but President Rody’s foe

President Rodrigo Duterte and VP Leni Robredo are seen in file photo at the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at the PICC. (Photo from Pool/Russell Palma)
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s two highest leaders don’t just belong to warring political parties. They, too, are on the opposite sides of the fence when it comes to issues concerning the European Union.

Successively, Vice Leni Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte issued statements about the EU — one valuing the Philippines’ friendship with the union, the other assailing its alleged lack of respect for the country’s sovereignty.

Robredo on Tuesday, Oct. 17, during the EU-Philippines Business Summit held in Parañaque City, said the union’s friendship with the Philippines was important because “(it) goes beyond economics, trade, and aid.”

“We are grateful for your support and guidance in many aspects of our lives,” the Vice President said, adding that she was hoping that human rights, which is “currently a contentious issue” in the Philippines “will not extensively strain relations between my country and the European Union.”

EU’s deep concern over HR situation in PH

The EU earlier expressed its deep concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the the killings under Duterte’s pet war on drugs campaign.

At the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, the EU stressed “the importance of carrying out the fight against illegal drugs in full compliance with due process, national law and international human rights law.”

It added that it is “important” for the Philippines “to promptly and effectively” investigate “all cases of death” in the drug war “in an impartial and transparent manner, which ensures appropriate prosecution of those responsible.”

Duterte: EU doesn’t know how to respect sovereignty

But on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Duterte again hit the EU, saying the union was the one causing problems because it allegedly didn’t know how to respect Philippine sovereignty.

“Kaya ko ‘yan sila minumura kasi [The reason why I’m curing them is because] they do not know how to respect sovereignty,” the President said during his speech at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The chief executive complained against the union in relation to the aid it extends to the country, which Duterte said were allegedly fraught with conditions beneficial to the EU but detrimental to the Philippines.

“‘Yon bang gaya niyan, magbigay ka ng in the form of assistance or grant, the Philippines is given this amount but at the same time, i-specify nila na para ito sa Bureau of Fire kasi magbigay sila ng truck. Pero, gusto nila bilihin mo ‘yong truck sa kanila,” the President said.

“Eh kung magbigay ka ng grant at gusto mo ito bilihin mo ‘yong truck ko, kukuha ka rin ng spare parts sa akin, nagmukha pa akong philanthropist, nag-mukhang gago ang Pilipino, kikita ka pa sa akin balang araw kasi ‘yong truck na ‘yan, may masira talaga diyan,” he added.

Duterte said the EU was about to offer another aid but when Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez asked him about it, he told him he would reject the assistance.

“They are about to make an offer. Nagtanong si Secretary Dominguez, sabi ko, ‘No, I will not accept it..’ Hindi na bale mag-hirap tayo. Sabi ko, sabihin ko sa mga tao, eh magtiis tayo. Eh pobre tayo eh,” the President said.

“That’s very stupid of some public officials to talk of aid as if it is a matter of survival of our country if we do not accept it,” he added.

But for Robredo, it is important for the Philippines and the EU “to tear down walls and find ways to collaborate better” as cooperation would help make the country and the union’s business agenda “serve those who have been left behind by progress as well as enhance economic growth.”


Duterte explains why it’s the ‘pobre’ and not those from ‘Forbes’ who often get killed in drug war

Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — What’s the difference between rich and poor drug users and why is it that those who often get arrested or killed in the government’s war on drugs are impoverished Filipinos?

According to President Rodrigo Duterte, while it isn’t his administration’s intention to kill the poor being linked to shabu, the main market for crystal meth, which he says is “a deadly mix of chemicals that melts and shrinks the brain,” are impoverished Filipinos, who resist arrest and fight authorities.

He said the situation among rich drug users is different because they consume the less deadly cocaine and don’t fight with the police.

“Tapos sabihin nila si Duterte, ang pinapatay ang mahirap. Hindi nila alam na ang market ng shabu, alam ninyo, ang pobre [Then they would say Duterte is killing the poor. What they don’t know, but you know, is that the poor is the market for shabu ,” said Duterte in a speech during her visit to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on Wednesday.

“Walang mayaman dito sa taga-Makati, taga-Forbes, gumagamit ng shabu. Cocaine ‘yan [No rich from Makati or from Forbes use shabu. They use cocaine]. It comes from a plant called poppy and it does not really necessarily destroy the brain. Itong shabu, it’s a deadly mix of chemicals. ‘Yan. Natutunaw ‘yong utak, lumiliit [It melts and shrinks the brain],” he said.

Also, during his speech, the President reminded authorities that drug trade is an organized crime and thus everyone involved in it, including the poor, are blameworthy.

“You know, may I remind you, pulis man kayo. Drug o drugs is always an organized crime. The act of one in the organization is the act of all. Alam ninyo ‘yan mga pulis. The liability is the same for the…’yong mga cook, the lieutenants are responsible for the distribution, and the peddlers,” said Duterte.

“Once conspiracy is proved, ‘pag sinabi 30 years ‘yang isa, 30 years lang lahat pati ‘yong mahirap [Once conspiracy is proved and if the sentence is 30 years, it will be 30 years for all, including for those who are poor],” he added.

Duterte added that even those who are poor fight back with authorities but not the rich because if they do, they would bring high-grade firearms.

“Pati ‘yong mga mahirap, lumaban. Wala naman taga-Forbes. Alam mo, sigurado ‘yan. Kung taga-Forbes ‘yan, magdala ng M-60 ‘yan,” he said.


WATCH | ‘So the killings of loved ones won’t be a template’ for their own deaths, San Andres Bukid families file for writ of amparo

The Supreme Court in Manila. INTERAKSYON FILE PHOTO
MANILA – Human rights group Center for International Law (CenterLaw) on Wednesday filed a petition for writ of amparo (court protection order) before the Supreme Court in behalf of the 39 family members and neighbors of persons killed in tokhang operations in San Andres Bukid district in Manila, and as a class suit in behalf of all its residents.

Respondents are the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police, represented by PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Manila Police District director PSSUPT. Joel Coronel, and other police officers.

The writ of amparo is a legal remedy for those who threaten or violate the right to life, liberty, and security. The petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary protection order for them.

According to the petition, Manila Police District Police Station 6 supposedly cordoned off the perimeters of the slum areas in San Andres Bukid, disabled closed circuit cameras, and stood guard and warned neighbors not to look while armed men broke down doors and gunned down victims inside their own homes.

The petition said that armed men entered these areas in the dead of night, barging into houses, shooting their victims, then leaving. Police supposedly appeared in the scene shortly after, carting off the victims’ bodies and directing that the bodies be brought to “the police’s authorized funeral parlors”.

According to Atty. Joel Butuyan, lead counsel, there is a pattern to the police’s actions, including the guns used in the killings.

The petitioners seek that the police be barred from getting within a one-kilometer radius distance from the residents and the victims’ families, or near the houses, schools, or workplaces of the residents and the victims’ families.

They also want the police to be forbidden from harassing or talking to the families, as well as to stop them from seeking lists of drug pushers, users, and troublemakers from barangay officials.

The petitioners also want the Supreme Court to order the PNP to transfer the chief and members of Manila Police District Police Station 6 outside of Metro Manila.

They ask as well that the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development be made to visit the petitioners who are in jail, and the spouses of the victims twice a month.

The petitioners also want the Supreme Court to task the Office of the Ombudsman or the city prosecutor to investigate the 35 deaths that occurred in the area.

They want anti-drug and anti-criminality operations to be conducted only with coordination with the PDEA and the media.

The petition said that innocent wives, partners, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives, and even neighbors of the victims were arrested and even “falsely” charged with illegal possession of drugs or conspiracy with the persons killed.

The petition noted that there were no cases filed against the perpetrators of these killings, and that in many instances, no crime scene investigation was conducted. Nor were there reports submitted.

The petitioners are suing because their rights to life, liberty, and security are threatened by unlawful acts or negligence of the respondent law enforcers.

“By banding together, petitioners, though fearful still, have found their courage and are now asking this government to recognize and respect the dignity of their persons as human beings,” the petition said.

It continued, “Petitioners hope that the killings of their loved ones will not become a template for their own violent deaths.”

The petition stated that many of the petitioners voted for then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte in hopes that they would be served and protected.

“Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that their lives, liberty, and security, as well as the lives of their loved ones, will be sacrificed literally on the altar of peace and order in what is packaged to be a fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs,” the petition said.

This is the second petition filed by CenterLaw against the PNP and the government’s anti-drug war. The first was filed in January for the protection of families of tokhang victims in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City.

The court granted the petitioners a permanent protection order.



What do fratmen – including lawyers – do when a recruit dies during hazing? Panic. Conceal. Deny.

PhilStar file photo shows Horacio II and Carmina Castillo, parents of slain UST law freshman Horacio III, showing a flyer of the Aegis Juris fraternity.
MANILA – Are we producing lawyers like these? An anxious Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri wondered aloud on Wednesday, after senators heard a long exchange, from an apparently leaked Facebook chat among Aegis Juris fraternity members and alumni, just after freshman law student Horacio Castillo III was killed Sept. 17 during initiation rites.

Some of the those who joined the conversation badgered the older members to provide guidance to the younger members, worried about the future of aspiring lawyers who may be detained while the case is prosecuted.

The most brazen attempt at concealment came from someone who said the frat library – where the hazing was apparently done – should be cleaned up quick before a search warrant is obtained by Castillo’s parents. And the paddles – where Manila cops later lifted blood samples confirmed to be the victim’s – must be removed, this fratman reminded the group.

In all, senators at the hearing called by Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s Public Order committee were dismayed by the apparent, single-minded goal of the chat group: everything about damage control, and nothing about concern or empathy for the victim’s family.

The senators promised to give the prosecutor general’s office a copy of the leaked exchanges presented by the MPD.


Laurente conquers bad boy image to become CESAFI Junior MVP

LESSONS LEARNED. Laurente makes the most of out of this season after his punishment-filled run last year. Photo by PJ Estan.

CEBU CITY, Philippines - From being the league’s bad boy to the 2017 CESAFI junior basketball MVP, the transformation of University of Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers Beirn Anthony Laurente can’t get any better.

The point guard and shooting guard admitted that he did not expect to get the prestigious honor because in their team alone, there were many who were also good and all useful to the team. Nevertheless, he was happy he got the award.

“Lipay kaayu kay mao na ako pangandoy sukad pag sulod nako sa UV. Nya dugay nana nako gepangayu sa Ginoo, taga gabie ko mag-ampo na ma MVP ko.” (I am very happy because I have always aspired for that since I joined UV. I asked that from God for so long, every night I pray that I become the MVP.)

His mother who was in town to watch and support him during the finals said she was very happy for her son as this was his ambition since he was 3 years old.

Prior to this season, Laurente had a reputation for his physical game on court and for being a troublemaker. However, it all came to head last season when he was thrown out from two games, incurred a total penalty of P15,000, and was made to do a total of 12 hours community service.

In the CESAFI, any player who is thrown out of the game will not only be suspended for one game but he will also have to pay a penalty and do community service. First offense would entail the player a P5,000 fine and 4 hours of community service. A second offense would double the penalty and the hours of serving the community, while a third would get a player banned from CESAFI. The rules are strict to deter recidivism among players.

However, it had to happen twice before Laurente realized things.

Laurente was thrown out the first time during a pre-CESAFI season game wherein he hit Don Bosco Greywolves’ Ken Gato with the ball. UV paid for the penalty and Laurente was tasked to clean a gym in one of the Cebu City barangays for four hours.

It apparently was not enough to jolt Laurente as he was again thrown out of the ballgame, this time during the season, when he hit University of Cebu Junior Webmasters’ John Bryl Cuyos in the face. UV then split the P10,000 penalty fee with Laurente so the cager had to shell out P5,000 and was tasked to do 8 hours of community service.

He managed to split the 8 hours—4 hours of cleaning and the remaining four hours of teaching basketball under the Cebu City Sports Commission grassroots program. League officials hoped he sees the wisdom of sharing his talent to young ones.

Following that second punishment, Laurente realized that being a hot head on court wasn’t worth it.

“Ako bad boy sa court, di ko ganahan mawala na nako kay mao na ako gusto, play physical ba, nya sukad atong naka community service ko kaduha kay kaduha man ko nakasa, didto rako natagam nga di man jud lalim.” (I am a bad boy on the court, I didn’t want to lose that tag because it is what I want, to play physical, but ever since I was made to do community service twice because I committed a mistake twice, I got discouraged because it is not really easy.)

There is a reason why Laurente resorts to playing physical. He said basketball is his outlet for his anger.

“Basketball, ara ra nako ma-ipagawas ako kalagot, og naa man gani ko problema dira nako masulbad kay para sa ako basketball is my life man.” (It is through basketball that I can let my anger out, if ever I have a problem, I solve it by playing basketball because basketball for me is life.)

But after serving his punishments, Laurente said he will still play hard on court but he now knows better than to let his anger get the best of him in a game.

Laurente started playing for the UV Baby Lancers since he was in 9th grade four years ago.

His older brother, who plays in a varsity league in Palompon, Leyte, was the one who influenced him to play basketball.

Laurente said he was a native of Baybay, also in Leyte. He grew up in Palompon before his family decided to return permanently to Baybay.

He was a student at the Franciscan College of Immaculate Conception when he signed up for a UV basketball clinic in their school in 2013. It was there that he was spotted by UV scouting coach Van Halen Parmis, also a native of Baybay. Laurente was asked to try out, then was accepted to UV’s junior team.

However, his mother wanted him to play with UV’s passerelle first as he was still in the 8th grade. He played passarelle for a for a year before he moving up to the UV Baby Lancers.

Now that he is an MVP, his biggest achievement in the sport so far, Laurente said he still feels the same about himself.

“Ako na feel sa ako sarili kay mao ra gehapon sauna, nya humble gehapon bisag unsa pa imo naabtan.” (I feel the same way as I felt before, and I should stay humble no matter my achievements.)

Safe to say that with his incredible transformation, there’s more to look forward from Laurente who like any young basketball player hopes to someday play in the PBA. – Rappler.com

Olympic champion Ervin kneels during U.S. anthem

ANCHOR'S PROTEST. Mixed medly relay anchor Anthony Ervin is the first swimmer to kneel down during the U.S. national anthem. Photo from Facebook. 

LOS ANGELES, USA – Olympic 50-meter freestyle champion Anthony Ervin has joined the ranks of athletes protesting during the US national anthem by kneeling for a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at a swim meet in Brazil.

Ervin, 36, who became the oldest man to win an individual Olympic swimming gold with victory in Rio last year, took a knee during the Raia Rapida gala.

The veteran American star, who also won Olympic gold in the 50m free at the 2000 Sydney Games, staged his protest after anchoring the USA team in the mixed 200m medley relay on Sunday,October 15, swimming news website SwimSwam reported.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first athlete to kneel for the anthem in a series of protests last year to draw attention to racial injustice.

A fresh wave of protests in the NFL erupted last month after President Donald Trump derided protesting players as "sons of bitches" who should be fired.

Ervin, whose father is a black former Vietnam veteran, appeared to allude to his protest in a post on Twitter on Monday, October 16.

"My point is to save lives, and understand the imbalance. We all have our area. I'm a swimmer," Ervin said.

Ervin is one of the few athletes outside of the NFL to join the protests.

Oakland Athletics baseball player Bruce Maxwell also knelt during the anthem last month while several women players opted to stay in the locker room during the anthem before Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City's game in the National Women's Soccer League. – Rappler.com


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