Former Manila mayor and ex-senator Alfredo Lim died yesterday afternoon after battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A Facebook post by Paul de la Cruz, Lim’s grandson and brother of former three-termer District 2 councilor Niño de la Cruz, confirmed the police general’s passing.
“Paalam at maraming salamat mahal kong lolo, tatay, idol, Dirty Harry, katapat, Mayor Alfredo Lim (Farewell and many thanks, my dear grandpa, father, idol, Dirty Harry, partner, Mayor Alfredo Lim),” De La Cruz’s post read.
On the other hand, his daughter Christy Lim, also in a Facebook post expressed her sadness over her father’s death.
A Facebook post by Niño last Friday afternoon asked for prayers for Lim’s recovery from COVID-19. However, the statement was deleted a few moments after.
The post raised speculations regarding Lim’s health, prompting rumors of his death.
A statement issued yesterday morning by Ric de Guzman, Lim’s chief of staff, appealed for privacy from his friends and supporters.
“On behalf of the family of former Mayor Fred Lim, we appeal to everyone to please give us some moment of privacy as we focus on Mayor Lim’s swift recovery from his current illness. We thank all those who have expressed concern and offered prayers for him and us during these trying times,” the statement said.
Paul’s post acknowledged the expression support and well-wishes the family had received for Lim’s health.
He expressed thanks for the help his grandfather gave him for the genial life he now has.
“You were the kindest person God has given our lives. I owe you a lot for I will not reach what I now have without your help. I love you very much even if I was not able to tell you this. You are one of the most important persons in my life. I will never forget you,” De la Cruz said.
The 90-year-old Lim is a highly decorated member of the Manila’s Finest who later became Manila mayor, Interior secretary and senator.
Velasco prevails as Speaker
There was no tense moment for Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco when he led a small group of 20 congressmen face President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang last night.
The President again brokered talks between Velasco and outgoing Speaker Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, using the meeting to validate his recognition of Velasco as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Duterte last week had told Cayetano and Velasco to honor their agreement.
There should have been no need for that meeting, though, had Cayetano not reneged on his term-sharing pact with Velasco.
That agreement was also brokered by the President last year. Cayetano had agreed to serve 15 months of the first half of their three-year term, after which he should step down to allow Velasco to lead the House for 21 months until the next national elections.
Cayetano since last year had accused Velasco of orchestrating moves to unseat him, allegations which not a few congressmen have denied.
Velasco also remained cool to those events by keeping faithful to their agreement.
“I am a man of my word. I honor our agreement and my gentleman’s vow before the President,” Velasco said then.
While Velasco was criticized by Cayetano’s allies for allegedly not moving an inch to claim the speakership, they were chastised by Velasco’s own supporters by saying there was no need for Velasco to force the issue.
“The agreement was 15 months for you, 21 months for me. That’s what the congressmen have agreed on. Those are the terms we have accepted,” Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza, one of the most senior members of the House, said.
Cayetano, however, tried to gather more than 200 congressmen to sign a manifesto of support for his continued stay as Speaker.
He was criticized by the other lawmakers for doing so.
Cayetano’s term is supposed to end today, but Velasco allowed him to finish his business with the plenary on 14 October.
Official statements were expected from the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino, Velasco’s party and the incoming Speaker at press time.
The President’s announcement of the leadership change at the House was witnessed by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go. The lawmaker was also present when the President talked to Velasco and Cayetano in private.
Velasco was accompanied by Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel, Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson; 1-PACMAN Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero, AAMBIS-OWA Partylist Rep. Sharon Garin, Bacolod City Rep. Caraps Paduano, Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga, Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon.
Cayetano brought along his wife Lani, also a Taguig City representative, with Majority leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, House Committee on Accounts chair Abraham Tolentino, Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo and House committee on good government and public accountability chair Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.
Cayetano’s allies claimed the meeting was requested by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. It was denied by Executive Director Ron Munsayac.
“Boxing’s over,” Munsayac said, alluding the controversial issue to a sporting match.
DU30 to FB: ‘Let’s talk’
President Rodrigo Duterte has slammed and demanded a dialogue with Facebook executives after the social media giant shut down pro-administration and pro-military “advocacy” pages.
In his public address Monday night, the President did not mince words against Facebook, saying he sees no purpose to allow the operations of the media platform if it cannot help the government achieve its objectives.
“Facebook, listen to me. We allowed you to operate here, hoping that you could help us also. Now, if the government cannot espouse or advocate something which is good of the people, then what is your purpose here in my country?” Duterte said.
“If we cannot understand each other, Facebook, I really do not know. But my job is to protect government interest,” he added.
Last Tuesday, Facebook announced that it had taken down more than 100 pages linked to the Philippine military and police due to “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that violated its community standards.
It also shut down over 150 other pro-administration accounts supportive of President Duterte and the possible 2022 presidential bid of his daughter Sara, which are purportedly handled by individuals based overseas.
Facebook said these accounts, whose true owners were not fully disclosed, appear to have been part of a “systematic propaganda” against youth activists, members of opposition, as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The Chief Executive, who heavily-utilized social media during his presidential campaign for 2016 polls, accused Facebook of favoring leftist groups by supposedly blocking the government’s counter-insurgency efforts.
The President also told Facebook executives that they cannot “lay down” a policy for his government.
“I allow you to operate here. You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of government… Is there life after Facebook? I don’t know. But let’s talk,” he said.
“What would be the point of allowing you to continue if you cannot help us? We are not advocating mass destruction. We are not advocating massacre. It’s a fight of ideas,” Duterte added.
Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque clarified Tuesday that the President would not order to ban Facebook in the Philippines, even if the Palace official had called out the social media platform for its “censorship” of pro-government content.
“Maybe not. Discussions are needed. You know it is not good for both Facebook and the Philippines (if the ban pushes through),” Roque said in response to reporters’ queries.
But Roque chided Facebook for taking down pages and accounts which produce content in support of the administration.
Roque also said that the President was particularly “sensitive” on Facebook’s move to shut down the page “Hands Off Our Children,” whose advocacy is to prevent minors from being recruited into left-leaning groups.
“Do not infringe on the freedom of speech of personalities or pages of being in favor of the government. What happens is that pages against the government are not taken down, but if in support of the government, these are being taken down,” he said.
The Palace official also attacked Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program — an initiative to point out misleading or false information in the platform — claiming that anti-government media groups are part of it including Rappler and VERA Files.
These two separate companies have been involved in fact-checking since the 2016 presidential polls, a year that saw an escalation of disinformation in online platforms.
In 2017, these entities qualified as signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles, a set of principles adopted by the social media giant for its initiative.
Due to its role, Rappler and VERA Files have been subjected to constant threats of the administration and its supporters.
Roque also said the government is considering to tap fact-checkers who support the administration. Meanwhile, he encouraged pro-government groups to challenge Facebook’s move of shutting down select accounts before the courts.
In his speech, President Duterte also likened the social media platform to Pandora’s box, an artifact in Greek mythology which later became an idiom that means a source of unexpected troubles.
“Facebook is as wide as the universe. It can create uncouth content. It can create trouble. It has opened the Pandora’s box where all prostitution thinkable to man is exposed,” he said.
In 2018, Facebook also took down hundreds of pages — including pro-Duterte pages — that were found posting spam or irrelevant content.
Last March 2019, Facebook also revealed that over 200 Facebook accounts belong to a network managed by Nic Gabunada, Duterte’s social media strategist in his presidential bid four years ago. Gabunada also worked for then President Benigno Aquino III’s camp and broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
Julia Barretto signing up with Viva?
Will there be a reunion of sorts for Mirabella stars Diego Loyzaga and Julia Barretto? This is possible as news of Julia’s signing to Viva Artists Agency broke out early this week.
Viva, on 29 September, also uploaded a teaser clip of an actor’s profile, which many believe is Barretto, on its Instagram (@vivaartistsagency). The caption reads, “She’s stronger, fiercer and brighter than ever.”
The reveal, according to the entertainment company, happens today, 30 September.
Julia, one of the most visible and talked about stars today, started out as one of the promising talents on ABS-CBN’s Star Magic roster who appeared on afternoon dramas like Mirabella (2014).
She then joined other teleserye like the ensemble drama A Love to Last (2017).
In 2016, she got her biggest break via Vince and Kath and James, Star Cinema’s entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival that created the Joshlia love team with former boyfriend Joshua Garcia.
The couple starred in their first teleserye, Ngayon at Kailanman, in 2018.
They would eventually break up, and Julia would find herself caught in the middle of an ugly and messy separation between her Between Maybes co-star Gerald Anderson and his then girlfriend Bea Alonzo in 2019.
The issue continues to hound her as she sued controversial former broadcaster Jay Sonza who alleged on his Facebook post last week that she’s pregnant with Gerald’s child.
By joining Viva, Julia and Diego, who has also left Star Magic and signed with Viva last August, might star in another project. Or she could make movies with Marco Gumabao, Matteo Guidicelli or another new Viva talent McCoy de Leon.
Julia’s parents, Marjorie Barretto and Dennis Padilla, appeared in several Viva comedy and action flicks in the 1990s.
Julia’s last known project was ABS-CBN’s online series Cara Y Cruz with Tony Labrusca, Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte, Marco Gumabao, Heaven Peralejo and Barbie Imperial. Reports say the cast has started taping new episodes after going through the required COVID-19 tests and safety protocols.
President wants PhilHealth dissolved
President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to revamp the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) anew and floated the idea of abolishing the state-run corporation which has been marred by anomalies for long.
In his speech late Monday, the President said he would “shake the tree” and reorganize the agency’s leadership to get rid of corruption that has hounded the firm for years.
“I will try to begin tomorrow shaking the tree in PhilHealth. I plan to reorganize and impose upon them a single line of authority,” he said.
“It cannot be. These people are already entrenched. Nothing will happen. Either I am going to revamp. Consider everybody resigned there,” Duterte added.
The President also said he would recommend to abolish the PhilHealth to the lawmakers and form another agency from its “ruins.”
Duterte, however, said he does not support the privatization of PhilHealth since employers would not likely pay for the insurance coverage of their workers.
In his speech Monday night, Duterte also bared that he had offered to step down from his post due to widespread corruption in the country, admitting that he finds it difficult to get rid of irregularities hounding the bureaucracy.
“I offered to resign as President. I called on all… I said I have — I became weary,” Duterte said. “Now, can you stop it? You cannot. There is no way.”
It was not clear when the President had said that he wanted to step down from the presidency, but in 2018, he said he was mulling his resignation.
In a televised briefing Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque noted this was not the first time the Chief Executive had said that he wants to quit.
Roque also said that he thinks that President Duterte would finish the remaining two years in his presidency.
“I think he would not resign now since there are only two years in his term. But he would spend the remaining time to clean the different government agencies from corruption,” he said.
In response to the President’s latest remarks, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the President cannot just leave his post as he was elected by the people.
Although he thinks Duterte only said that with tongue in cheek, Sotto said corrupt officials should resign, instead, and not President Duterte.
On the other hand, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Duterte should just be consistent with his fight against corruption and apply anti-graft laws both to his allies and enemies.
“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” he said in a statement.
Duterte previously met with Sotto, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez to discuss the passage of measures that would address red tape and corruption in the government.
He even asked the Congress leaders to “summon” him in hearings and he will provide his position on the bureaucracy in the country.
Lacson, in the same statement, said that his presence may not be necessary as the Senate is already crafting a measure that will provide the President “Bayanihan-like” powers to address red tape in the government.
Senate Bill 1844, which has been discussed by the Senate Committee on Civil Service Government Reorganization and Professions Regulation, authorizes the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications to cut red tape.
with HANANEEL BORDEY
Virus break needed for relaxed protocol
The Department of Health (DoH) on Tuesday said Metro Manila needs to decrease its COVID-19 infection clusters before it could gain a more relaxed protocol level.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also reiterated that most of these clusters were identified in communities and barangays.
“If we can reduce the number of these clustering of cases and then we can see this decreasing, we can maybe shift to this modified GCQ (modified general community quarantine),” Vergeire said.
She noted that it was considered when the GCQ was announced by the national government on Monday night.
The latest DoH data showed a total of 2,075 clusters since 27 September. Twenty-seven percent of them are in the National Capital Region.
Other regions with the highest number of clustering included the CALABARZON region, Central Visayas and Central Luzon.
Meanwhile, communities are still seen with the most clusters followed by other settings such as workplaces, health institutions and jail facilities.
Vergeire also stressed the need to decrease the occupancy in the country’s health system stating that it should at least be lower than 60 percent or at moderate risk.
“We still need to further decongest our hospitals, we still need to further expand the capacity so that they will be able to be ready when that time comes, if ever — if and when there would be another increase in the number of cases,” she added.
At present, occupancy among the critical care utilization rate nationwide ranges from 47 percent to 44 percent while the used ventilators are only at 23 percent.
However, data in Metro Manila showed a rise in its occupied beds that is now within the 59 percent to 52 percent range and the utilized ventilators are at 33 percent.
Vergeire urged the government and the public to practice “cautious optimism” in which, despite some minimal improvements in the system, vigilance to the current situations should be at all times practiced.
On Monday evening, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that areas in Metro Manila, Batangas City, Iligan City, Iloilo City and Batangas City will retain the current GCQ level while a majority of others have already shifted to MGCQ.
Lanao del Sur was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine as all pronouncements are to be imposed until the end of October.
To date, the Philippines has tallied over 307,000 cases of COVID-19 with recoveries at more than 252,000 and a death toll of around 5,200.
Although experts from the OCTA Research team earlier reported a seemingly decreasing trend in the infection rate in the country, they projected that cases by end-September may still reach by up to 310,000 to 315,000 while infections could reach as many as 410,000 in October.
Rody berates telcos anew
President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed anew to telecommunications companies to improve their services as the Philippines gears up for blended learning in public schools.
In his speech Monday night, the President said it “pisses him off to no end” that the Internet service in the country remains “very poor” despite his repeated requests to address the matter.
“I don’t know how to go about this but may I just appeal to the telecommunications (firms) to — can you — can you do a better job? Is there life after this kind of service that you are delivering to the public?” Duterte asked.
“If only I can address this problem in just one word, this problem has long been over,” he added.
The President noted that Filipinos have been complaining of not getting their money’s worth from the country’s telco services.
Duterte also renewed his appeal to local government officials to fast-track the approval of permits that would enable companies to build the structures or towers they need.
President Duterte, in his recent State of the Nation Address last July, threatened PLDT-Smart and Globe that he would take over their operations if they would not improve their services until December.
“The eternal complaint ever since telco came into being, it has been the agony of the Filipino people why until now our telcos are very poor,” he said.
The Department of Education is implementing a blended learning scheme — alternative learning modalities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This means educational materials are coursed through the Internet, television, radio and printed modules distributed by schools.
Private schools have started the school year while classes in public schools are slated to begin on 5 October.
At the facial treatment clinic of Suheil Sweidan in Amman, Jordan, an unusual breed of skin care assistants attends to clients seeking to rejuvenate their aging faces.
No lasers are used to zap and erase wrinkles at Sweidan’s salon. No lotions are applied to moisten the the skin. Instead, snails crawl on the faces of clients.
The scene that looks like a cut from a horror movie showing victims being eaten alive by little monsters may surprise and scare customers away. But Sweidan swears the Giant African Land snails are not sucking the blood of customers.
The Jordanian doctor explained that the snails eat dead skin, open pores and leave collagen in the skin to replenish it with the substance produced naturally by the body.
Moreover, the snail face treatment is way cheaper than botox and such creatures crawling on the face are very relaxing and thus, relieve stress, according to Sweidan.
Eight-year-old John Raizen Bufe of Rizal very much agrees with Sweidan as he also lets crawlers on his face to destress, if ever boys of his age really get as stressed as adults.
Bufe, however, uses a different kind of creature which actually causes a lot of stress to many people just by looking at it. And surely, he wouldn’t recommend it to others, even kids like him.
The boy is fond of playing with big spiders by letting them crawl on his face.
For those who would dare try Raizen’s fancy, they should know that their skin won’t get any collagen from spiders, only web and wrinkles of worry.
Cayetano bows out Wednesday
President Rodrigo Duterte will meet a small group of 20 to settle the dispute on the House of Representatives leadership after Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano turned his back on the term-sharing agreement forged no less by the Chief Executive last year.
That group will include not just Cayetano but also his wife Lani, the other Taguig City representative, who was also the subject of complaints from other lawmakers who noted the couple’s gargantuan share from the 2021 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) along with their closest allies.
Presumptive Speaker Lord Allan Velasco will come alone, assisted only by the leaders of the other political parties dominant in House when they are united under the President’s guidance.
Velasco will join the meeting after denying the authenticity of the petition paper that circulated among the congressmen on Monday. It supposedly courted their support for a leadership change in the House, which Velasco dismissed as nonsense.
The President had called the meeting after Cayetano reneged on their agreement to split the speakership with Velasco scheduled to take over at the end of September until the May 2022 elections.
Cayetano had agreed to sit as Speaker for 15 months from June last year before giving way to Velasco who will serve for 21 months.
It was President Duterte, himself, who formulated the “15-21” deal.
Cayetano had earlier suggested an equal split of 18 months for each of them. But when the question on who should go first cropped up, President Duterte told Cayetano to take the first 15 months and honor Velasco’s turn for the next 21.
Cayetano agreed at first.
In March this year, however, Cayetano accused Velasco of orchestrating moves to unseat him although it was the Speaker’s allies who have raised the need for an election to whittle down the agreement.
It did not fly, however, as several congressmen described Cayetano’s move as a “coup against himself.”
Cayetano had made the same claim recently but this was only after several congressmen questioned Taguig City’s king’s share from the DPWH budget.
“The issue then was the budget and how the Cayetano couple have claimed a big chunk of it– not any leadership change. There’s an agreement that exists and it should be honored. That change will come. There is no need to force it. The deal will take care of it,” a lawmaker told Daily Tribune.
Cayetano had even tried to solicit signatures from a great majority of his House peers. Those who signed, another Daily Tribune source claimed, allegedly received P2 million each from the House’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget.
That is aside from Cayetano’s meeting with Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, the President’s son, over the weekend.
It is believed that the supposed petition paper calling to support Velasco was a publicity handiwork to support Cayetano’s allegation that the youthful Marinduque leader is orchestrating a coup.
“There’s no need. Congressman Cayetano’s part of the 15-21 deal ends this month,” the same lawmaker source of the Tribune reiterated.
And because it is President Duterte, himself, who asked Velasco to give way to Cayetano before he takes his turn on the first day of October, the Chief Executive will meet with them at the Palace.
This was confirmed to Daily Tribune on Monday by Ron Munsayac, executive director of PDP-Laban, the political party of Duterte and Velasco.
Political party leaders and coalition allies from the House will join the meeting, Munsayac added.
Amid the demonstration of support to Cayetano by over 200 House members, Velasco insisted the 2019 covenant should be honored by the gentlemen who signed it.
Velasco will also honor the appointments made by Cayetano after he had assumed the speakership in June last year.
“There will be no changes in the positions. The various committees and the deputies will retain their posts,” a lawmaker-ally of Velasco told the Tribune. “That is part of the pact.”
Velasco, in a statement, said:
“Trust and honot are values that are important especially in these trying times. They reveal our true character and show what we, as leaders, are truly made of.”
And in this period of difficulty that our people yearn for honorable leaders whom they can trust– leaders who are able to live up to their promises come hell of high water; leaders with palabra de honor (word of honor) who lead not with lip service but who back up their words with action.”
“When the House speakership term-sharing agreement was entered into, it was based on mutual trust and confidence. After all, it was an agreement brokered by and forged in the presence of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.”
“The covenant was crystal clear: A 15-21 term-sharing agreement. The first term expires on 30 September, after which the second term immediately begins. That was the pledge made before the President. As true leaders and as examples for our people, both sides are obligated to avoid situations or statements that would subvert the agreement and betray the trust of our people who’ve stood witness to the covenant.”
“Let us uphold the agreement as this was made ‘FOR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY 1521.’ I have always intended to honor the agreement. We all should. Our people deserve nothing less,” Velasco said.
Meanwhile, ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap clarified that Cayetano did not fly to Davao to meet with Deputy Speaker and the President’s son Paolo Duterte.
Yap said the meeting occurred in Manila and was nothing but a “casual conversation.”
The young Duterte last week warned to ask the Mindanao bloc to declare all seats vacant at the House following complaints of inequity in the distribution of funds related to infrastructure projects.
The House is also currently in the middle of discussions on the 2021 budget, which the Cayetano camp says would stall if there will be a change in leadership.
Velasco’s allies said budget deliberations would be finished on time if both parties will abide by their pledges.
with MJ BLANCAFLOR
A teaser ‘wedding’ for KathNiel
Fans of reel-to-real couple Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla won’t have to wait long to see the couple tie the knot, even if it’s just for an upcoming digital sitcom (situational comedy).
After a series of teasers showing wedding gowns and invitations from the couple’s respective mothers caused an uproar on social media, netizens were also quick to catch that the “wedding” posts were related to the KathNiel love team’s comeback—following the heated House hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise to operate that ended in the Kapamilya network’s losing its broadcast frequencies.
Kathryn and Daniel were among the Kapamilya stars who broke their silence over the issue and vocally supported the media giant’s fight to renew its franchise.
On 25 September, Mommy Min (Kathryn’s mother) posted on Instagram a closeup photo of a wedding gown with a wedding ring between the letters “k” and “n” in the caption.
And then Daniel’s mom Karla Estrada posted a white wedding invite with the same caption.
A similar teaser was posted by KathNiel’s close friend, Juan Miguel Severo, with a picture of a crucifix from a church.
Likewise, Star Music head Roxy Liquigan posted a caption of the now-famous “k” and “n” with a wedding ring.
There were speculations that the posts were about Karla’s own wedding, based on the comments her friends in the industry—Vina Morales, Jaya and Ruffa Gutierrez—wrote on Karla’s wedding invitation post.
It was not the first time Karla, or “Queen Mother” posted the word “engaged” on her Instagram, but now the caption had blue and black hearts replacing “k” and “n,” followed by the word “soon.”
In any case, KathNiel fans are stoked to see the couple back on the screen again—after work on their film After Forever had to stop due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The KathNiel love team was last seen on the big screen in the 2018 blockbuster film The Hows of Us. Before that, the couple appeared in Can’t Help Falling In Love, Barcelona: A Love Untold, Crazy Beautiful You and the film adaptation of the hit series She’s Dating the Gangster.
They were first paired the in 2011 teen drama Growing Up as the characters Ella Dimalanta and Patrick Rivero.
As for a real wedding, KathNiel have not exacly been denying it. In a past interview, the couple revealed that they want a beach wedding.
They celebrated their eighth year as real-life sweethearts last May.