Opinion & Community

PG&E donates $75k to safety council

Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (SCFSC) received $75,000 from PG&E to chip debris and help low-income and elderly residents create defensible space around their properties.
 
The SCFSC also warned that unmanaged weeds and storm debris could fuel an intense wildfire season if they are not cleared from thousands of properties in the Bay Area and Central Coast. Using funding provided by PG&E, SCFSC will chip brush that has been removed from permanent structures and any roadside or driveway used for evacuation purposes, in areas at high risk for wildfires in Santa Clara County.
Mountaintop homeowners and residents are urged to prepare for wildfire season and to create defensible space around their properties. CAL Fire asks that weeds, branches, toppled trees and other flammable debris be cleared within 100 feet of all structures and 30 feet from any roadside or driveway used for evacuation purposes. -- Truth Esguerra
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When the woman is much older: Brigitte Macron and Dionesia Pacquiao and their skirmishes with sexism

NEW YORK CITY -- In my search for the Filipino Brigitte Macron, I circled back to Dionesia Dapidran Pacquiao.
Except for the huge age gap these women have with their significant others, I find nothing else they have in common, except, notably, the public’s obsession with their relationship with much younger men.
Brigitte is the wife of the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron. Reports say they met when he was a high school student and she was his drama teacher. At age 15, according to reports, he had his eyes set on her who at the time was married with three children. He vowed to her that, “Whatever you do, I will marry you.” That romantic spark did not dim as the two continued to communicate throughout her marriage, according to reports. She was divorced many years later, and Emmanuel and Brigitte wed shortly after, undaunted by their 24-year-age difference.
Dionesia’s relationship with Michael Yamson, a sailor 28 years younger, would have been a little unusual by conventional Philippine standards. The pair has been fair game to misogynist humor, mainly because she is an occasional entertainer who appears on television to sing, dance or make people laugh with her folksy Visayan accent. That she happens to be the mother of boxing champion and senator Manny Pacquiao and is said to be very wealthy make her even more intriguing. One of the first things Michael had to dispute when they made their relationship public was that, “I am not after her money.”
The media scrutiny couldn’t be helped given how news is not only about developments that are timely and impactful, but also about human interest and novelty, especially as they involve prominent personalities. In both the Brigitte and Dionesia narratives, the politician husband and sporting icon son put their romance on spotlight.
Depending on what publication it is, the stories can conceivably be crafted in a way that may suggest some salacious elements. Some tabloids have begun to label Brigitte a “cougar.” Others are questioning if there was forbidden seduction between the teacher and her pupil a la Mary Kay Letourneau. In Manila, Dionesia has been questioned by reporters about her sex life with Michael, erasing the boundary between private and tawdry.
The coverage of the two women is intense, driven by the public’s appetite for gossip. It takes an open-minded society like France to brush aside the big age gap, among other sexual peccadilloes, as something they can accept in their presidents.
Brigitte herself has dismissed the obsession with age, saying simply that “I’ve become accustomed to listening only to those who convey positive messages. Life with Emmanuel was necessarily like this.”
As for Dionesia’s May-December romance, Filipinos treat it with a combination of entertainment and voyeurism worthy of a few laughs. Wait till she runs for public office.

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Jones Bridge paintings turned over for Jones Law centennial celebration

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two paintings of the William A. Jones Memorial Bridge in Manila were turned over to the Richmond County Museum and the family of Congressman William Atkinson Jones on May 12, 2017, as part of the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise known as the Jones Act for Philippine Independence, which was enacted by the 64th Congress of the United States of America on August  29,1916.
The paintings are the works of Manila-based artist Celeste Lecaroz, who adopted the style “spontaneous realism,” which is popularized by the Austrian contemporary artist Voka. 
“When I set to the task of painting the bridge, I tapped into the significance of Philippines-US relations and what it meant to me. With palette knife on hand I set to paint an image of the Jones Bridge in Manila. What immediately came to mind is bridging the gap, exchange between the two sides,” Ms. Lecaroz said. 
But I came to realize eventually that Congressman Jones did more than that. It was more than bridging. It was giving us an alternative path from that of remaining as a colony. So again, it is my honor and pleasure to be leaving the Richmond County Museum and the Jones family a crafted symbol of our strengthened ties as sovereign nations,” she added. 
The Jones Law, as it was commonly referred to, laid down the framework for a more autonomous government, preparatory to the grant of independence to the Philippines by the United States. Through this law, the Philippines saw the creation of a bicameral legislature, the introduction of a representative electoral process, and the recognition of the fundamental civil and political rights of persons living within the bounds of the Philippine Islands.
Ms. Becky Marks, Board Chair, and Mr. David Jett, curator, received the painting on behalf of the Richmond County Museum. 
“I just want to say how much we appreciate the effort, creativity and thoughtfulness that you all put into this,” said Mr. Jett.  
In the brief turnover ceremony at the Jones Family Home in Warsaw, Virginia, Ms. Elizabeth Hart Jones, representing the Jones Family, expressed appreciation for the painting and its symbolism. She referred to the monument with the inscription, “A Tribute of the Undying Gratitude of the Filipino People,” erected over the grave of Congressman Jones at St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1926. 
“We are so touched that after all these years, it has not changed. So we are very, very grateful. We do feel a big responsibility to represent the family,” she said. 
“At that age of empire building, it was a radical idea to let go of a treasured territory like the Philippine Islands. However, Congressman Jones had a profound belief that the United States had a more important mandate to promote freedom around the world,” she further said. 
Ms. Jones was joined by her sister Anne, and Anne’s husband Rusty Gilfillan in welcoming Ms. Lecaroz and other guests to the Family Home.  
The Executive Director of the US-Philippines Society, Hank Hendrickson, remarked that the Jones Act capped an intensely dynamic period in the history of relations between the United States and the Philippines, characterized by debates in Washington, D.C. that were cast in moral terms, on what the US should do with the Philippines and other island possessions. 
“What evolved from those debates was a compromise. Simply put, the US would stay in the Philippines, but on the condition that as it did so, America would work to strengthen Philippine institutions as a basis for modern, twentieth century governance. What Congressman William A. Jones did was to nail down legislation and legislative assurances that that political bargain was kept,” Mr. Hendrickson stated. 
“For our part, Americans might better understand and appreciate the role of Filipino leaders at the time. In both Manila and Washington, the leadership skillfully engaged American counterparts to break down preconceived notions, prejudices, and provide assurances about the capacity for independent governance,” he emphasized. 
Renowned Filipino historian and author Dr. Bernardita Churchill gave the family a copy of an article on the commemorative dinner organized by the Philippine Embassy, in cooperation with the US-Philippines Society, on August 30, 2016, that replicated the dinner hosted by then Philippine High Commissioner Manuel L. Quezon on August 29, 1916 at the New Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Darell Artates, the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Officer, expressed the Embassy’s appreciation to Ms. Lecaroz and the Warsaw community, including the Jones Family, for their commitment to strengthening Philippines-US ties. 
“During this time of major changes and uncertainty, it is useful to have events like this that serve as a reminder of the enduring friendship between the Filipino and American peoples,” she said.  
The participants in the turnover ceremonies also visited the Jones memorial at St. John’s Episcopal Church, upon the gracious invitation of its rector, The Reverend Torrence Harman. 

The William A. Jones Memorial Bridge, popularly known as the Jones Bridge, was inaugurated in 1921. Spanning the Pasig River, it connects Binondo, the location of Chinatown, and Ermita in the heart of Manila.  

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11TH Ambassadors' Tour focuses on PH's emerging destinations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Philippine Department of Tourism office in New York (PDOT-NY) conducted a presentation on the 11th Ambassadors’ Tour on May 15, 2017 at the Embassy’s Romulo Hall, underscoring the Tour’s unique characteristics and its significance to the overall cultural and tourism promotion strategy of the country.    
 
“The 11th Ambassadors’ Tour will give participants the opportunity to visit Davao, an exciting, emerging tourism destination in the Philippines, within an affordable package that also includes Manila, the capital city of fun,” said Zeny Pallugna, Officer-in-Charge of PDOT-NY. 
 
Ms. Pallugna also highlighted the post-basic tour packages featuring other emerging destinations Cagayan De Oro-Camiguin and Dumaguete-Siquijor. She urged audience members to participate in the Tour and take a more active role in promoting Philippine tourism. 
 
“If you visit the Philippines, or get even just one person to visit, that will create employment for one Filipino,” Ms. Pallugna told the audience. 
 
Mr. Patrick Chuasoto, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Embassy also pitched for the Tour, saying that “This year, the tour for Filipino-Americans has been re-branded to shift the focus to the participants who are envisioned to become ‘Philippine Ambassadors in their own right’ after spending their summer holiday in the Philippines. The 11thAmbassador’s Tour features key destinations in Manila and the King City of the South—Davao. It promises to be another fun-filled outing, and in keeping with its tradition of providing a unique and memorable experience, the Ambassador’s Tour offers VIP treatment, guided tours, and world-class accommodations.”
 
“I strongly encourage every one of you to consider joining the 11th Ambassador’s Tour and spreading the word to your networks. Doing so will contribute to the sustained and inclusive economic development of the Philippines. Your support will go a long way in empowering the local communities in Manila and Davao, and cultivating good will between the people of the Philippines and the United States,” he concluded. 
 
Registration remains open until 30 May 2017. Interested parties may contact the Philippine Embassy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or PDOT-NY at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get more information about the itinerary, rates and registration procedures. 
 
The 11th Ambassadors’ Tour will be held on 11-16 July 2017. It is a joint project of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board, the Philippine Foreign Service Posts in the United States, and Rajah Tours. 
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Cebu road rage suspect allowed to travel abroad

MANILA -- A Cebu court has allowed road rage suspect David Lim Jr. to travel abroad as there is no standing hold departure order on him.
GMA News "Unang Balita" reported Wednesday, May 17, that the court approved Lim's petition to be with his family in a cruise trip to Vancouver, Canada and Alaska in the United States.
In favoring Lim's petition, the court said that the case leveled against him is not a threat to the national security, public safety, and public health.
Last March, Lim shot nurse Ephraim Nuñal in the feet and leg during a heated argument stemming from a traffic altercation in Cebu.
Lim has been given temporary freedom since late March after posting a P300,000 bail bond.
According to the report, the court's order allowing Lim to travel abroad dismayed Nuñal's family, especially  that the victim is still recuperating in a hospital nearly two months after the shooting incident.
The court's travel order also stated that Lim needs to report to court three days after his return to the Philippines.
In the road rage case, Lim insisted that Nuñal was the aggressor during the heated argument on the road, prompting him to shoot the victim in the feet and leg.
But the victim's lawyer Atty. Mundlyn Misal Martin contended that Lim showed aggression by punching her client, taking a gun from his car, and shooting the victim.
The road altercation started when Lim got annoyed by Nuñal's honking behind him.
Martin claimed that Lim was swerving left and right and did not allow the vehicles behind his car to pull ahead.
Provoked by Nuñal's honking, Lim stopped his car and engage the victim in a heated argument that ended up in the shooting incident.
Lim had been temporarily detained at the headquarters of the Police Regional Office 7 but was later released on bail.  — GMA News
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Berkeley Fil-Ams defend free speech

 
 
 
What would Mario Savio say?
The voice of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in this country would have served up a mouthful about recent events at University of California at Berkeley, where on December 2, 1964, the then-philosophy major delivered his impassioned call to action for racial equality at Sproul Hall, birthing the Free Speech Movement.
Back then, Savio urged fellow students to “put your bodies on the gears” and disarm the political establishment.
Had a heart attack not silenced him at age 53 in 1996, Savio surely would have words about the aborted visits to his alma mater by conservative commentators.
"Cal," as locals refer to the school, is either emulating or betraying the Baby Boomer champions of civil rights, goes the debate on assorted media platforms. 
The issue of free speech rages anew amid recent events, such as President Donald Trump dismissing criticism of his administration as "fake news," the Federal Communications Commission reviewing TV host Stephen Colbert for making a vulgar joke against the president, and the conviction of 3 Code Pink activists for protesting the confirmation of then-nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 
Berkeley may be the bastion of progressive thought, but it draws folks of every political leaning. And Filipino Americans agree that FSM is alive and well from where it sprung. 
“I don't think the free speech movement is dead at Cal,” said Cagayan de Oro-born Jacob Sese, a 19-year-old molecular cell biology freshman.
“I think there's a disagreement on what is considered hate speech, and many people here don't tolerate hate speech. The violence and threats of it in no way represent the desires of the university or the student body, and great efforts have been made by students to make that clear," Sese said.
22-year-old media studies junior Robin Cid Calleja, who was raised in Las Piñas in Manila, sees the same picture.
“Sproul continues to be a bustling plaza where students can engage in social, cultural, and political activities. It continues to be the heart of student activities, where various student groups – including racial minorities, like Filipino students who make up barely 2% of the student population – can have their identities represented and where political minorities on campus, such as the Berkeley College Republicans, can express their ideas and opinions. I think that shows that the Free Speech Movement's legacy lives on,” he said.
For Calleja, those lamenting the death of free speech in Berkeley are unaware of the spirit of the movement. 
"They need to understand that while free speech protects people from state- or university-sanctioned censorship or retaliation, it does not protect them from being ridiculed by their peers. Peaceful protests and harsh criticisms from liberal students are not indications that the Free Speech Movement is dead. Rather, these are (acts of) free speech at work," Calleja said.
While New Jersey-born Justin Lagera agrees with his schoolmates, he stressed that the Free Speech Movement has taken on a different character than it did during its inception in the 1960s.
“To me, the biggest debate is whether or not the political correctness culture has become too invasive. There’s a big gray area as to what constitutes protected free speech or what determines unprotected speech and that fogginess sparks competition between differing parties," the political studies freshman said.
Cancelled visits, echo chambers
The question on free speech was also prompted by the violence that cancelled the February 1 campus visit of alt-right Milo Yiannopoulos, former editor at Breitbart News, who last year was permanently banned by Twitter for allegedly “inciting and engaging in harassment."
Over 100 Cal faculty had signed a petition calling for the cancellation of the Berkeley College Republicans engagement before a thousand protesters assembled at the event site. Violence erupted when mask-wearing individuals descended on campus.
The university averted a potential conflict with the cancellation of a planned speech by right-wing advocate Ann Coulter scheduled for April 27. Berkeley police recommended postponing Coulter's visit, which Coulter rejected. This later fueled contradicting versions on why her speech did not happen. 
The fate of her speech does not signal the death of free speech, Calleja said, but simply the lack of coordination between event sponsors and the university.
Opposing views
Licensed marriage and family therapist Nan Santiago, a Democrat, attested to the fundamental identity of the campus and the Free Speech Movement. 
“I was there in 1981, so the internet and electronic media were not as available as now. Everything can be posted instantly today, whereas before it took longer to gather people and to spread the words to the community,” she said.
“UC has been very liberal with free speech, lots of demonstrations, diverse students and all ages...I recall when I was there, even the teens not (enrolled) hung out there since Berkeley city itself did not have the same curfew hour for teens as the neighboring cities,” she recalled.
Corin Ramos also expressed admiration for her alma mater’s “history of student movements.”
“Students are not afraid to voice their opinions. In fact, it was encouraged. So many different viewpoints to learn from. Without fear or retaliation for thinking differently,” said the mass communications graduate.
"I vehemently disagree with Ann Coulter’s hateful rhetoric and others like her. But, I support her right to free speech just as much as I support those who speak out against reprehensible intolerance," she added.
Calleja, a future journalist, said he is open to hearing opposing views.
"I'd like to know where they are coming from, and possibly find common ground. That's the whole point of having free speech – to have a marketplace of ideas where people can choose to support the ones that speak to their values and reason or to come up with their own," he said.
He may still have the opportunity to hear Yiannopoulos, who has vowed to initiate "Free Speech Week" before the year ends in Berkeley. – Rappler.com
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Duterte impeachment junked

MANILA – With so many allies in Congress, it is no surprise that President Rodrigo Duterte will not be impeached.
Two of the fiercest critics of President Duterte slammed members of the House of Representatives for junking the impeachment complaint against the Chief Executive.
Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the House justice committee's decision to scrap the complaint just because the complainant, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, has no "personal knowledge" of the accusations.
De Lima, former justice secretary and a lawyer by profession, said nowhere in the 1987 Constitution (Article 11, Section 3) requires that a member of Congress who filed the complaint must personally know the articles of impeachment.
"Had it been otherwise, past impeachment complaints, such as those against then president Joseph Estrada and former chief justice Renato Corona, would have likewise failed because no member of the House who ever filed or endorsed an impeachment complaint had any personal knowledge of the grounds constituting the complaints against the concerned impeachable officials," De Lima said in a statement on Tuesday, May 16.
The House justice committee, filled with the President's allies, found Alejano's complaint sufficient in form but insufficient in substance.
But De Lima said the complaint is substantial, citing the House's rules of impeachment procedures. It states that a complaint has substance "if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee."
"What is clear to us now is that the President's allies in the House of Representatives are willing to ignore the rule of law, the bounds of fair play, and any semblance of professional decency in order to protect, however irrationally, their principal," De Lima said.
"The dismissal of the impeachment complaint by the committee on justice in the House of Representatives is a testament to the failure of the House to perform its duty to keep the executive powers in check, when congressmen prevented a legitimate effort to hold the President accountable for his actions," she added.
Despite this, De Lima said she hopes the plenary would still overturn the panel's dismissal. 
Other 'modes' to reveal the truth
Trillanes shared De Lima's view that a complainant is not required to have "personal knowledge" of the accusations.
"Baluktot 'yung pangangatwiran nitong mga nag-aabogado kay Duterte. Hindi ako nagtataka kung bakit nawiwindang ang justice system dahil 'yung mga abogado natin it's either walang alam or baluktot 'yung pag-interpret ng batas," Trillanes said in an interview.
(Those lawyering for Duterte have crooked ways of reasoning. I am not surprised why we have a faulty justice system because our lawyers are either not knowledgeable or have crooked ways of interpreting the law.)
But Trillanes said there are still other ways to reveal the truth against Duterte.
"Maraming paraan. Abangan na lang nila kung ano man 'yun. Alam 'nyo noong inimpeach si President Erap napakababaw ng basis, gano'n din kay Corona. Ito, buong mundo na 'yung nakakapuna – bukod sa mga pagpatay ng libo-libo, pagnakaw ng bilyon-bilyon, at secret dealings with China. Mabibigat ito," the senator said.
(There are other ways. Just wait and see. You know, President Erap was impeached based on a shallow reason, same with Corona. Here, the whole world has noticed the killings of thousands of people, the stealing of billions of pesos, and secret dealings with China. These are heavy accusations.)
Referring to lawmakers who junked the complaint, Trillanes said: "It's either natatakot sila or talagang gusto nilang, or nakikinabang sila sa administrasyon or worse, naniniwala sila na tama 'yung pinaggagagawa ni Duterte."
(It's either they are afraid or they are benefiting from the administration, or worse, they believe that what Duterte is doing is right.) – Rappler.com
 
 
 
 
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Robredo: Marcos request for 3 hearing officers impractical

MANILA -- The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo said Wednesday, May 17, that the request of former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to have three hearing officers in the preliminary conference on his poll protest is "impractical" and "premature." 
Robredo counsel Romulo Macalintal noted that the three causes of action presented by the Marcos camp are all interconnected.
"These issues are all interconnected. It is improper for three hearing officers to resolve the said issues separately," Macalintal said.
"There is only one lead lawyer for the protestant and the protestee. Surely, the lead lawyer has to be present in every stage of the hearing and cannot be in three places at the same time," he added. 
Marcos had raised three main issues in his election protest, namely, the “flawed” automated election system (AES), the failure of elections in several provinces in Mindanao and the unauthorized introduction by Smartmatic’s Marlon Garcia of a new hash code (or a new script program) into the transparency server on the day of the elections.
George Erwin Garcia, Marcos counsel, earlier said each cause of action presents a specific set of witness and evidence, making it better to have one separate hearing officer for each one them. 
The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has set the preliminary conference on Marcos' poll protest on June 21, 2017 at 2p.m.
Macalintal said the Marcos camp is preempting the PET's action in filing the urgent motion, as the tribunal has yet to rule on whether or not to sustain the 3 causes of action.
"Without the preliminary conference, the motion to have three Hearing Officers is practically intended to condition the minds of the people, if not those of the members of the PET, of the issues Marcos seems to dictate upon the tribunal," he said. -- PNA
 
 
 
 
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4 Koreans wanted for internet fraud nabbed in Paranaque

MANILA -- The Bureau of Immigration arrested four South Koreans wanted by authorities in Seoul for engaging in internet fraud operations that have victimized many of their compatriots in Paranaque City.
Ryu Sunggon, 43; Park Kyeol, 29; Kim Myung Ryun, 27; and Song Jungrak, 26 were apperehended by the bureau’s fugitive search unit in their workplaces at BF Homes last May 15.
In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the foreigners have been issued arrest warrants by a South Korean court where they have been charged with fraud and voice phishing.
He added the suspects will be deported for being undocumented aliens and for posing risk to public safety and security due to their being fugitives from justice since their passports have been cancelled.
Voice phishing refers to the criminal practice of using social engineering over the telephone system to gain access to private personal and financial information from the public for the purpose of financial reward.
It was learned that those arrested were among seven Koreans suspected of operating the syndicate and whose arrest was sought by the South Korean embassy in Manila.
Embassy officials said the syndicate has victimized hundreds of South Koreans in the country who lost money after being duped to reveal their private information to callers impersonating legitimate companies. 
On the other hand, Atty. Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson said the three South Korean suspects who remain at large are subjects of a continuing manhunt by the bureau.
She noted those arrested will be sent back to South Korea as soon as the BI board of commissioners issues the order for their summary deportation. -- PNA  
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