Items filtered by date: Monday, 18 December 2017

Move over, upper-arm waddle: The ‘arm vagina’ is the new problem spot

Defined by Urban Dictionary as ‘that fold of skin where a woman’s arm joins her torso,’ it’s the latest source of insecurity–even in Hollywood
 Time was when designer vaginas, a vagina facelift of sorts, were all the rage. Then came surgically implanted dimples.

Throughout history, women have been made to feel bad about their bodies—thunder thighs, cellulite, stretch marks, muffin tops, cankles.

Even men had their share of this absurdity when we saw this year the rise of scrotox, where Botox was injected into the scrotum to tighten the area.

But the latest body part women feel insecure about might be the most ridiculous one yet. Apparently, Hollywood thinks that that little skin spilling over your bra strap, also known as the very normal human armpit, is now unsightly.

Called the “arm vagina,” the fold of skin that’s created when your armpit meets your torso, this perfectly normal bulge, is now one of the top worries of Hollywood A-listers.

This was revealed by Hollywood stylist Rebecca Corbin-Murray to UK’s The Times last week. Corbin-Murray dresses famous ladies, including Emma Watson, Sophie Turner and Lily James. Pressure on the red carpet still exists, such that many actors do the classic hands-on-hips pose to disguise the arm vagina.

“Sometimes it’s the weirdest part of their body. They say, ‘I’ve got this horrible blah-blah,’ and you think, ‘What are they even talking about?’ The one that comes up all the time is the arm vagina,” Corbin-Murray told The Times.

The pressure to get the armpits more toned, or getting “pit fit,” is so palpable that cosmetic surgeons are now reporting a “slow and steady” rise in women seeking removal of excess armpit fat.

“A number of these requests have been from young, active women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who probably notice it more from wearing sleeveless activewear,” Hagen Schumacher, a consultant plastic surgeon at MyAesthetics, told UK’s The Metro.

The term “arm vagina” is believed to have originated at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards when Jennifer Lawrence sashayed on the red carpet in a tight, sequined Dior dress. Talking to TV personality Giuliana Rancic, Lawrence made a disparaging remark about the arm creases the dress created.

Rancic complimented her on her dress. “I know I have armpit fat, it’s okay… it’s armpit vaginas,” Lawrence said.

The two women laughed, then bonded the way many women do—by sharing with each other mutual body-image issues.

Since then, “arm vagina” has been listed as a phrase in the Urban Dictionary, defined as “that fold of skin where a woman’s arm joins her torso. Can be present even in relatively fit women.”

It goes on to say that alternative phrases given are chicken skin, labia pit, fungus fold, armpit waddle and rooster arm.

Our often twisted body standards originate from the red carpet, where Hollywood seems to select which body part we ought to feel insecure about next. With the disconcerting fascination of teenagers and young women with something as normal as the armpit, we hope this worrying cosmetic trend ends in 2017.



  • Published in Health

WATCH | Gracenote collaboration with Chito Miranda an instant hit

Gracenote and Chito Miranda. (Photo of Chito by Yummie Dingding/InterAksyon)
Once identified with a louder alternative sound that drew comparisons with the American band Paramore, Gracenote has since evolved into a progressive outfit that is more in tune with electro pop rock.

With three successful releases (“Gracenote” EP, “First Movement” and “Transparent”), Gracenote is now considered a staple in the local indie music scene.

Not surprisingly, they were selected as one of the featured artists in the maiden season of “Coke Studio Philippines.” Their collaboration with hip hop superstar Abra, “Stargazer,” as well as their cover of his thought-provoking hit “Ilusyon,” counts as among the most well-received highlights of the series.

Now the band composed of Eunice Jorge on Vocals, Keyboards, Violin, and Guitars, Jazz Jorge on Bass, EJ Pichay on Drums and Tatsi Jamnague on guitars is making beautiful music with another OPM icon. This time, they are partnering with no less than Parokya ni Edgar’s Chito Miranda in the lovely pop ditty, “Bakit Ganyan Ka?”

The engaging bouncy acoustic tune was an instant LSS (last song syndrome) hit with fans. Its video reached 800,000 views in less than 24 hours after its initial release. The song was also the most talked about collaboration online, and has garnered 28,000 shares on Facebook.

“The idea was a combination of the bands’ styles, one which is very sincere, then we thought of further adding a special flavor which was the sound of the rondalla that is not often used in songs today,” Eunice noted.

Now a popular radio hit, the song written by Eunice and arranged by Gracenote, Chito, and the band’s manager, Darwin Hernandez, is also a showcase of Gracenote’s versatility as they refused to be confined to any limiting music genre.

“Bakit Ganyan Ka?” is now available for streaming and download at Spotify. Their latest album “Transparent,” which recently won the “Best Cover Art” at the 30th Annual Awit Awards, is distributed by Warner Music Philippines and is also available on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music.

Watch the music video of “Bakit Ganyan Ka?” here:


Duterte likens NPA to ISIS: 'No ideology except to destroy and kill'

ALMOST SAME'. President Duterte says the communists have an 'empty' ideology. Rappler file photo 

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MANILA, Philippines – After declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) a terrorist group, President Rodrigo Duterte is now comparing them to one of the most infamous terrorist organizations in the world: Islamic State (ISIS).

"I am sick and tired of talking to you. Almost pareho kayo ng ISIS (You are almost the same as ISIS). It's an empty thing. There is no ideology except to destroy and kill," Duterte said on Monday, December 18 during his address to a roomful of cops, firemen, and jail officers.


Only two weeks have passed since the President declared the NPA as a terrorist group, and only almost a month since he halted peace talks with communists.

During his speech, Duterte repeatedly condemned the NPA for their deadly guerrilla-style operations which had claimed the lives of many uniformed men and women.

"There is no point in talking to you. There’s not even a single factor of a revolutionary there. You go around asking money, robbing the poor tapos ‘yung mga asawa sa taga-bukid, hinihipo ninyo (then the wives in the countryside, you molest)," he said.

The President usually launches a tirade against the communists whenever he speaks after a recent report of an NPA attack. (READ: Joma to Duterte: Let's end war of words, war on the ground)

Aside from pointing out violence and armed struggle as a common thread, the President, however, failed to explain that both groups essentially want different things.

ISIS wants a global caliphate achieved through a global war, while the NPA seeks to overthrow the Philippine government for a systematic and cultural overhaul.

The Philippines itself is not a stranger to ISIS' ambitions. The country's main Islamic city, Marawi, just saw the end of a 5-month war started by homegrown terroristslinked to the international terrorist group.

According to the President, he even used to "share the same values" as the CPP, but he said he wonders what had happened. He did not mention which values had resonated with him before he soured on the rebels. –


Duterte's word war with women

WOMEN AND DUTERTE. President Rodrigo Duterte's tough-talking persona meets a match in equally tough-talking women such as the Chief Justice and the Ombudsman. 

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MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is one tough-talking man. But every tough-talking man meets his match in an independent woman. Make that two independent women.

2017 saw Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales standing up to the President on different occasions and different issues.


While Morales occasionally toned down her jabs against Duterte, Sereno was consistently bold at every chance.

Here’s a look at the times they addressed the Chief Executive. 

War on drugs, martial law

Duterte’s first 6 months as president was marked by an international scrutiny of his ruthless war on drugs, already killing thousands at the time.

Morales, in December 2016, was soft on the President, saying in an Inquirer forumthat Duterte’s public threats to criminals were just words. "It's not illegal to say, 'I will kill you,'" she said.

Sereno was a little bit more critical. In January 2017, she announced that the Philippines dropped 19 places in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, and blamed it on the extrajudicial killings.

"Despite all of these positive things and even greater potential gains, we have to face the reality of the daily accounts of unsolved killings, many of them committed brazenly with public warnings against drug pushing or addiction,” Sereno said without directly mentioning Duterte.

The Chief Justice stepped it up in March, calling on lawyers during the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) convention to help address the “creeping impunity.”

“In the face of clear and patent injustices, we have an affirmative duty to not turn a blind eye but to do what we can to help,” Sereno said.

And when the President proclaimed martial law in Mindanao in May, Sereno stood up before graduates of the Ateneo de Manila University and warned that military rule could be used to oppress the people.

“Suffice it to say that the martial law power is an immense power that can be used for good, to solve defined emergencies; but all earthly powers when abused can result in oppression,” Sereno said.

Morales’ turn

Morales then caught up. From saying that Duterte’s public threats were not illegal, the Ombudsman made a very bold statement in July to the Japanese broadcast network NHK: “He's goading people to kill people. That's a problem. The directive to kill people under any situation irrespective to the context, to me that's unacceptable.”

Duterte, of course, took notice and told Morales to “not play God and shut up.”

“Find me a law which says I cannot threaten a criminal with death..., If you can do that, I will step down tomorrow,” Duterte said.

The Office of the Ombudsman’s response was very Morales, to say the least.

“Ombudsman Morales is amused by so much ado about something she did not say. She did not say anything about any law against threatening criminals. The President should review what she said first,” read the statement they released to media.

Morales would not get an invitation to Duterte’s State of the Nation Address a week later, on July 24.

Instead, the President said that the Ombudsman, as well as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), couldn't investigate his men for human rights violations without first getting his clearance.

This agitated the feisty Morales so that, days later, raising her eyebrows and rolling her eyes, she told the media, referring to Duterte:  “Ano ang pakialam niya (Why should he interfere)?


Duterte’s words against Morales stepped up in the months that followed. From just telling her to shut up, the President warned Morales on August 29 of the legal debate on whether or not she was entitled to serve her full 7-year term.

Asked to respond to the threat two days later, Morales was uncharacteristically toned down. Speaking softly and smiling at times, Morales explained Republic Act 6770.

“[The law] says that when the incumbent Ombudsman leaves the office by reason of death, removal, or resignation or disability…permanent disability, the Overall Deputy Ombudsman shall be the acting Ombudsman until a new Ombudsman is appointed who shall serve for a full term. Sinusunod lang naming 'yung batas na 'yun (we're just following that law),” she said.

Around the same time, Duterte was also taking swipes at Sereno for allegedly having a lavish lifestyle. An impeachment complaint against her was already on the offing, citing misuse of court funds for perks as one of the grounds.

"He's the President of the Philippines, we owe him all respect. The fact that he has a mandate to lead, we must observe what the Constitution says. I'm very professional in my dealings with all officials of government. The Constitution is sufficient to guide me in my conduct,” Sereno said.

At a media forum in Cebu, Sereno was asked to comment on human rights violations in Duterte’s war on drugs.

Sereno just said the judiciary is "at the end of the process" to address the problem, but said anyway that there is a special committee reviewing whether the judiciary could be given a more proactive role.

"How do we account for the number of violent deaths that are being seen right now? ... We are in the process of evaluating," Sereno said.

The wealth probe

Things unraveled by September.

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang revealed to the media that in his investigation into Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's plunder complaint against Duterte, he acquired bank records that supposedly showed a cash flow of almost P1 billion.

Duterte would not take this sitting down. He threatened to investigate Morales and the entire Office of the Ombudsman for corruption. He set up an anti-corruption commission, which duplicates the functions of the Ombudsman. He said he would file an impeachment complaint against her.

In a series of written statements released to the media, Morales showed a bit of her old feisty self.

On September 29, she said: “Sorry, Mr President but this office shall not be intimidated. If the President has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.”

On October 1: "The Office has already stated its position; to abide by its constitutional duty. No need to add more.”

And on October 3: "I will not be baited into abandoning my constitutional duties. If the President has charges against me, I am prepared to answer the charges against him in the same manner.”

The impeachment complaint against Sereno was already filed by this time, and Duterte again took swipes at her for the PIATCO issue, even calling the Chief Justice corrupt.

In a speech in Davao City on October 1, Duterte challenged both Sereno and Moralesto resign with him so that the military could investigate all 3 of them for corruption.

Sereno forceful, Morales mellow

In separate chance interviews in November, Morales was tight-lipped about the President, whether it was about his threats, or the criticism against the wealth probe. Morales has inhibited from the wealth probe, and other Duterte-related cases, such as Edgar Matobato's complaint on the Davao Death Squad, from which Duterte has been dropped.

Morales is related to the Presidet by marriage. Her nephew, Manases Carpio, is married to Duterte's eldest daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duerte.

“I note it,” Morales said on the dare to resign, and “No comment,” on the wealth probe.

Sereno, on the other hand, would go on television to address the impeachment complaint which, by this time, had hurdled the House justice committee and was being threshed out in open hearings, exposing infightings and divisions in the Supreme Court.

In an interview with GMA News TV’s Winnie Monsod on November 20, Sereno said of Duterte: "May accountability din siya sa Diyos. Tao rin siya. Lahat tayo bilang ang araw natin sa lupa. Hindi siya forever. Walang taong forever.” (He is also accountable to God. He's also human. Our days are all numbered here on earth. He's not forever, no man is forever.)

Sereno was also a regular interpellator during the 3-day oral arguments on the petitions against Duterte's war on drugs before the Supreme Court.

On November 21, Sereno questioned presumption of regularity in police operations.

"So kung marami na po tayong nasasabi nating nanlaban, na sinasabi 'nyong maaaring libo-libo na po, ano pong masasabi 'nyo rito? Magkakaroon na po ba tayo ng basehan na mayro'n po'ng sistema o pattern na po tayong nakikita sa mga nangyayari?” Sereno said.

(So if we are saying that many have fought back, you said they're thousands already, what can you say about this? Will we already have a basis for saying we're seeing a system or pattern in killings based on what has been happening?)

Sereno also attended a human rights summit organized by the IBP national chapter and other law groups critical of Duterte’s crime and drugs policies.

In a speech delivered at the summit, Sereno called for reinforcement, asking the CHR, Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Audit (COA) – 3 bodies that belong to the Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG) – to step up in performing their mandates to hold human rights violators accountable.

Her suggestions? To audit police units, both their performances, their spendings, and even promotions and incentives.

“In other words, the levers, the pulls, the stops that work in government bureaucracy are there for you to study and analyze,” Sereno said.

Sereno and Morales attended the CFAG gathering together on December 2. There, Morales re-assumed a critical tone.

Morales said defiantly: “The Ombudsman is not subject to the disciplinary authority of the President.”

Morales added some more: “Groucho Marx satirically describes a tyrant whose mindset follows this certain credo: ’These are my principles, if you don’t like them, I can change them,’ or worse, ‘These are the laws, if I don’t like them, I can break them.'”

Sereno, meanwhile, warned erring policemen: “At the end of the day, crimes will catch up with us. Alam ba nila ho na maaaring kahit ano'ng sabihin nila, akala 'yun ang tama, hindi po 'yun magiging defense sa mga krimen na gawa ng ganitong klaseng gravidad.” (Do they know that even if they claim they thought they were doing it right, it won't stand as defense for crimes this grave.)


Morales is retiring in 7 months. The impeachment bid against her has been revived, but it has not been officially filed at the House of Representatives because not a single lawmaker has endorsed it.

Sereno, on the other hand, would serve as Chief Justice until 2030 – under two more presidents after Duterte – if she survives the impeachment bid against her. (READ:The impeachers: Out to get the Chief Justice and the Ombudsman)

“The President doesn’t like her so there’s nothing to restrain her anymore,” said legal and political analyst Tony La Viña on whether it is wise for Sereno to continue her strong rhetoric. “The country needs a voice like hers.”


Duterte confers Order of Lapu-Lapu to 104 PNP, BFP, BJMP personnel

RECOGNITION. Duterte marches for the PNP's service anniversary. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte conferred on Monday, December 8, the Order of Lapu-Lapu to 104 uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Of the 104, 99 are cops who were sent to help in the liberation of Marawi in 2017, while 4 were from the BFP and one from the BJMP. (READ: All Marawi-assigned SAF troopers promoted one rank)


"Today, we confer the Order of Lapu-Lapu to the men and women of the PNP who risked their lives in order to liberate Marawi City from the hands of the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group," Duterte said in his speech during the awarding ceremony in Camp Crame.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, and Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy were also present at the ceremony.

The Order of Lapu-Lapu is awarded to officials, government personnel, and private citizens "in recognition of invaluable or extraordinary service in relation to a campaign or advocacy of the President" according to Duterte's on Executive Order Number (EO) 17 which began the recognition.

It is divided into 4 medals, as amended by EO 35:

  1. Kalasag Medal - given to those who lost their lives in the line of pushing for a campaign of the President
  2. Kampilan Medal - given to those who were injured or lost property in the line of pushing for a campaign of the President
  3. Magalong Medal - given to officials, personnel, or private individuals who have rendered "extraordinary service" and "exceptional contributions" to a campaign of the President
  4. Kamagi Medal - given to those who do not fall on the mentioned medals but have "actively participated" and "contributed significantly" to a campaign of the President

"They are the epitome of courage, bravery, and patriotism. Indeed, for paying the ultimate sacrifice and for rendering extraordinary service to our nation, we consider them as our heroes," Duterte added in his speech.

Below is the full list of individuals recognized by the President.

Kalasag Medal


Kampilan Medal





Magalong Medal




Kamagi Medal


At least 3 dead as train derails over U.S. highway

OFF THE RAILS. The scene of a portion of the Interstate I-5 highway after an Amtrak high speed train derailed from an overpass early December 18, 2017 near the city of Tacoma, Washington state. Kathryn Elsesser/AFP 

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DUPONT, Washington, USA (UPDATED) An Amtrak passenger train traveling on a new route for the first time derailed Monday, December 18, in Washington state, killing at least 3 people as cars plunged off a bridge onto a busy highway at the height of morning rush hour, officials said.

The train, which was carrying 77 passengers and seven crew, derailed in DuPont about halfway between Tacoma and the state capital Olympia on a curve that passes over busy Interstate 5 at about 7:40 am local time (1540 GMT).


Pictures from the scene showed one Amtrak train car overturned and crushed on the interstate highway and others dangling from the overpass.

Several other carriages of the 14-car train also ended up on the highway, shutting down a key section of the busy artery that connects the greater Seattle metropolitan area to Olympia. All but one car jumped the tracks.

A spokeswoman for Washington State police, Brooke Bova, confirmed the death toll, adding that all train cars had been searched by emergency personnel.

But she cautioned that several of the roughly 100 people taken to area hospitals were in critical condition.

"We don't know if that number will change," Bova said of the death toll.

Officials gave no reason for the derailment of southbound Amtrak train 501, the inaugural run of a new service that promised faster connections between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

Local officials had warned only weeks ago that the track still might not be safe enough to handle trains at higher speeds.

None of the people in vehicles traveling on the highway below the train were killed, according to Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. 

Police said 5 vehicles and two trucks were hit on the highway.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team of experts to investigate the incident.

'People were screaming'

Chris Karnes, a local transit official who was aboard the train, told local CBS News affiliate KIRO-TV that the accident took place while it was going around a curve.

"All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill," he said.

"The next thing we know, we're being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there's water gushing out of the train. People were screaming." 

A conductor in one of the two engines on the train placed the emergency call.

"Amtrak 501, emergency emergency emergency, we are on the ground," he said, according to an audio recording of the call.

"We were coming around the corner to take the bridge over I-5 there right north of Nisqually and we went on the ground.

"We got cars everywhere and down onto the highway," he said.

Amtrak president and co-chief executive Richard Anderson said he was "deeply saddened" by the crash. 

"We will do everything in our power to support our passengers and crew and their families," Anderson said.

Safety concerns

The accident marred the launch of faster services on the route after a $181 million upgrade project that included improving the rails, the signaling technology and the locomotives.

Local officials had worried about trains going at higher speeds through the curves in the area. The trains were expected to reach speeds of 79 miles (127 kilometers) per hour through the densely populated area with the improved systems and track.

In early December, Don Anderson – the mayor of Lakewood, Washington, a Tacoma suburb just a few miles from the accident site – had warned that more needed to be done to ensure safety on the route.

"Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements," he said, according to KOMO News.

Karnes said the tracks were supposed to have been upgraded to accommodate higher speeds.

"I'm not sure what happened," he said.

Trump: US needs better infrastructure

US President Donald Trump said the accident underscored the need to invest in infrastructure.

"Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!" he tweeted.

The new Siemens Charger locomotives were equipped with "positive train control" safety systems, designed to automatically stop the train in dangerous situations and mandated for trains around the country.

But the technology was only expected to be used next year when it is activated on the entire rail corridor, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. 

In 2015, an Amtrak train going far over the designated speed for a stretch of curves in the track in Philadelphia derailed, killing eight.

At the time, analysts said positive train control technology could have prevented the accident. –

  • Published in U.S.

10 months since arrest, DOJ still amending case vs De Lima

COURT BATTLE. Senator Leila de Lima only gets to leave her jail cell in Camp Crame when she has to attend court hearings at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. Photo by Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippines – Ten months since she was arrested and jailed for the charges of illegal drug trading, Senator Leila de Lima has not been arraigned before any of the 3 branches of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) handling her cases.

Branches 204, 205, and 206 have all issued warrants of arrest against De Lima, and the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the Muntinlupa RTC has jurisdiction over her cases. But the cases are stuck at the pre-arraignment level because the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still amending its information.


The amendments heed the advice of the SC ruling. From charging her of trading illegal drugs under Section 5 of Republic Act 9165, the DOJ wants to charge her now with “attempt or conspiracy” to trade illegal drugs under Section 26(b) of the law. 

The DOJ panel has filed motions to amend before all 3 branches. (READ: From power to prison: How 2017 changed the life of De Lima, family)

“We are back to square one. They should conduct a new preliminary investigation, back to DOJ. Meanwhile, palayain muna nila ako (set me free),” De Lima told Rappler in a letter.

Amendment or substitution?

While De Lima acknowledged that it’s normal for prosecutors to amend cases they file in courts, she said that what the DOJ is doing is substitution and not amendment.

“They are charging a different case. It means their case was defective, it has no basis,” De Lima said.

The DOJ has not responded to Rappler’s request for comment. But in their reply to De Lima’s opposition filed before Branch 205, the DOJ panel said that their new allegations do not “in any way change the theory of the Prosecution.”

The amended information also does not violate her substantial right, said the DOJ. “It will not be detrimental to accused De Lima as this will neither cause surprise to her nor will it affect the form of defense that may be available to her.” 

When the SC voted 9-6 to uphold the trial court’s jurisdiction, and effectively kept De Lima in jail, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio called it “one of the grossest injustices  ever perpetrated in recent memory in full view of the Filipino nation and the entire world."

Carpio said the information does not present all elements of drug trading, but the ponencia of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr said the DOJ can always fix their information, which is what they are doing.

Velasco also said that the prosecution can amend without the need to set her free first. "The trial court can simply order that another complaint or information be filed without discharging the accused from custody," he wrote.

“Velasco aided the prosecution; he might as well volunteer for the panel because he’s teaching them how to do it,” De Lima said. (READ: Justice Caguioa: If it happened to De Lima, it can happen to anyone)

De Lima wanted Velasco to inhibit from her case, accusing the justice of once pushing for the acquittal of drug convict German Agojo, one of the witnesses against her. Velasco has denied the accusation, pointing out that he filed and later withdrew a libel complaint against Rappler editor-at-large Marites Vitug, who wrote the insider account on the Agojo case that De Lima is citing.

Velasco and De Lima also have history. Velasco penned the resolution that upheld the temporary restraining order (TRO) which would have allowed former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to leave the country in November 2011, but it was the TRO that De Lima defied as justice secretary. Arroyo spent the next 4 years in jail.

Bilibid shakeup

De Lima also believes that the shakeups inside the New Bilibid Prison are related to her.

Drug trading has returned to the jails, President Rodrigo Duterte and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre admitted themselves. There was a stabbing incident that killed an inmate there last July.

There were threats of inmates recanting their testimonies against De Lima if they are moved back to the maxiumum security compound. And the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has not had a boss for 5 months since Benjamin delos Santos resigned last July. (Duterte recently said PNP chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa will be taking over BuCor once he retires from the PNP.)

“That’s what they get for striking a deal with inmates, now they’re in a mess. Now it’s quid pro quo,” De Lima said. (READ: Dela Rosa wants to clean up Bureau of Corrections)

Early in December, Rappler received tips that inmate Jaybee Sebastian would plead guilty to the case before Branch 206. Sebastian was the only inmate who was charged along with De Lima, others were dropped and turned witnesses.

De Lima’s lawyers said they are not aware of such a development.

“That’s not gonna surprise me,” De Lima said. Just like it didn’t surprise her when the DOJ dropped in November former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos from the case before Branch 204.

The DOJ also plans to turn him into a witness.

De Lima assigned Ragos to the BuCor. She also appointed Franklin Bucayu as BuCor Director. Ronnie Dayan was his body guard and supposed partner. Dayan admittedhe endorsed Ragos and Bucayu to De Lima.

All of these men are her co-accused; so far only Ragos has been dropped. These men were her trusted men. “Now, I don’t know anymore,” De Lima said.

‘Minadali nila’

Minadali nila, they were under pressure. Pinilit kasi nilang maging drug case, pinilit nilang maging non-bailable (They rushed it, they were under pressure. They forced it to be a drug case, to be a non-bailable charge),” De Lima said.

De Lima’s lawyers insist that what the DOJ is accusing her of is only a case for direct bribery, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, and would later on be under the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. That’s what they were petitioning at the Supreme Court.

“Towards December 2016, I heard Aguirre saying in television interviews that maybe the case could be filed at the trial court, not Sandiganbayan. When I started hearing that, I thought ‘ah tutuluyan nila ako (they’ll really finish me off).’ I had to prepare my family,” De Lima said.

Direct bribery is a bailable charge. And De Lima was hoping for a "fairer" prosecution by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. They are still appealing before the SC.

But the catch is, Morales is retiring in 7 months.

“That’s the dilemma. I trust Morales and her sense of fairness, that I would be given a fair chance. Pero kung iba na (Under a different Ombudsman), I would not be as optimisitc,” De Lima said.

Duterte would appoint the next Ombudsman. Legal circles are abuzz with a couple of names of appointees, one of whom is Solicitor General Jose Calida who also wants De Lima jailed.

“It’s really a dire scenario, but I go on with my faith,” De Lima said.

The senator added: “I will be vindicated, but I just don’t know when.” –


DFA questions Manila execs on comfort woman statue

A seven-foot bronze statue of a Filipina comfort woman stands along Roxas Boulevard in remembrance of around 1,000 women conscripted into sexual slavery in ‘comfort stations’ run by the Japanese army during World War II. Edd Gumban
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has taken city government officials of Manila, led by Mayor Joseph Estrada, to task over a statue of a comfort woman recently erected along Roxas Boulevard.

City administrator Erickson Alcovendaz told The STAR DFA Assistant Secretary Millicent Cruz-Paredes, in a letter dated Dec. 12, asked the city government to give the DFA background information on the statue by Dec. 20 after the Japanese embassy aired its concern.
The statue was installed near the intersection of Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Avenue on Dec. 8 in a ceremony attended by National Historical Commision of the Philippines chairman Rene Escalante and acting executive director Ludovico Badoy.

“Taking into account the sensitive nature of the comfort women issue both domesticaly and bilaterally, with Japan, the department requests for background information regarding the monument, including the process of erecting such monuments, and the circumstances that led to the erection of the comfort woman statue,” Cruz-Paredes said in a letter addressed to Estrada.

Alcovendaz said they will answer the DFA.

“The Japanese officials said that the issue on comfort women is a very big and serious issue in their country, China and Korea. They said they regret that despite the strong ties between the Philippines and Japan, a comfort woman statue has been suddenly erected in Manila,” he said.

He said the Japanese embassy told him the sisterhood ties between San Francisco in the US and Osaka were severed because of a comfort woman statue erected on private land.

Alcovendaz said newspapers in Japan and China carried the story on the comfort woman statue in Manila, which has sisterhood ties with Yokohama.

Lawyer Edward Serapio, secretary to the mayor, told The STAR the statue was erected by Tulay Foundation, a Filipino-Chinese organization headed by a certain Manuel Chua.

He said the foundation wrote the city government about a site for the statue. City officials said the foundation should secure a permit from the Department of Public Works and Highways and other national government agencies.

“We did not and we cannot issue a permit,” Serapio said, adding that the foundation “apparently erected the statue without permits.”



LTFRB to LTO: Punish motorist for hitting cabbie

A woman identified as Cherish Charmaine Interior (inset) approaches the taxi driven by Virgilio Doctor, who staggers out of his vehicle after being struck by Interior. Images taken from a video posted on Facebook by Joshua Baluyot.
MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) wants the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to suspend the driver’s license of a female motorist seen in a viral video striking a taxi driver during a traffic altercation in Quezon City over the weekend.

LTFRB spokesperson Aileen Lizada said they will support Virgilio Doctor, 52, in filing a complaint against the motorist, identified as Cherish Charmaine Interior, 31, before the LTO.

Doctor, who survived a stroke in 2014, and his operator went to the LTFRB yesterday to file a complaint.
“We will file charges with the LTO. We want to let the LTO to decide if this kind of driver is fit to drive,” Lizada said.

Doctor and Interior also filed charges of unjust vexation, slight physical injury and malicious mischief against each other before the Quezon City Police District Station 3.

Doctor, who has been driving taxis for more than 10 years, told reporters the altercation began at a stoplight along Congressional Avenue yesterday when he tried to overtake Interior’s vehicle.

Interior blocked him, stopped the vehicle and stepped out. She was caught on video hitting Doctor in the face and trying to dismante the taxi’s side mirror.

Doctor said prior to hitting him, Interior grabbed a tube or golf club and repeatedly hit his taxi.

Lizada said Interior’s behavior indicates she should not have the privilege of driving and that she does not respect the elderly.

She said while there are erring taxi drivers, they should not be treated this way. “We should give them respect,” she told reporters.


Release firecracker zones list, LGUs told

Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus, Central Luzon police director, said yesterday he ordered police officials to coordinate with barangay leaders in identifying fireworks display areas. File
MALOLOS , Philippines — With barely two weeks before the New Year celebration, local government officials have been asked to release the list of firecracker zones in their respective areas.
Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus, Central Luzon police director, said yesterday he ordered police officials to coordinate with barangay leaders in identifying fireworks display areas.

“We continue to inspect firecracker stores in the region to prevent the sale of prohibited firecrackers,” Corpus added.

Joy Gomez, Bulacan provincial health officer, said barangay officials should submit their proposed fireworks display areas to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Executive Order 28, which regulates the use of pyrotechnics and fireworks, mandates local officials to issue permits, indicating the date, time and specific areas where fireworks displays can be held in line with national standards, rules and regulations.

Fireworks manufacturers and other stakeholders urged local government officials to immediately identify the firecracker zones, saying their sales could be adversely affected.

Several fireworks manufacturers decided not to renew their license amid concerns that a total ban on the use of firecrackers would be imposed nationwide and result in the collapse of the fireworks industry.

Joven Ong, president of the Philippine Fireworks Association, said Section 2 of EO 28 still allows the use of pyrotechnics outside the residences.

“If local government units will ban both firecrackers and pyrotechnics…it will drive people to use illegal firecrackers which is more dangerous. I hope the LGUs that issued ordinances against EO 28 will amend or suspend the implementation of their ordinances to make sure that fewer injuries will occur,” Ong said.

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