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Philippines Today

By EDDIE G. ALINEA  | Sports Editor & Columnist


(Photo from Instagram | @kingjames)


LOS ANGELES/MANILA – A little more  than a month following his signing a four-year, $153 deal with Los Angeles, NBA superstar LeBron James  finally broke his silence on why he chose the Lakers over several teams, including his former Cleveland Cavaliers.      


In a video post through his own company, Uninterrupted, via Twitter, James stated that the choice was something he long dreamed of and came to fruition at an ideal time of his career.


 “This has always kind of been a dream come true for me, “James said.  “Growing up, I was a Cowboys fan. I was a Bulls fan. I was a Yankees fan. I always felt that was one of the historic franchises.”


“Then you look at the Lakers. Being able to play for a historic franchise with so much history and now being able to partner with Magic Johnson, (who is) someone I looked up to when I was younger,” he argued.


“Wanted to make no-look passes like Magic. Wanted to get on the break and be Showtime like Magic. Then for it all to come to fruition at this point, I think the timing is everything,” James pointed out.


 “For me to be in this position now, the excitement to be a Laker, I am happy to be a part of it because I believe the Lakers is a historic franchise. We all know that, but it’s a championship franchise and that’s what we are trying to get back to. I am happy to be a part of the culture and us getting back to that point,” LeBron explained.”


His statements were made during the opening of his I Promise  school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, through the LeBron James Family Foundation.


The Los Angeles Lakers were the odds-on favored to land James in free agency even before the NBA Finals, but that doesn't mean it was an easy decision for him. While most felt that the pitiful postseason performance of the Cavaliers' supporting cast ruined any chances of LeBron returning to Cleveland, there were other intriguing options out there for the King.


While he mostly gave the details of his latest philanthropic endeavor, he also talked a little basketball. James revealed which teams he considered before ultimately signing with the Lakers as told to Harrison Faigen of SBNation:


"I did my due diligence after the season on the pros and cons on a lot of different teams, including the Cavs, Philadelphia, Houston and Los Angeles," James said. "So it wasn't as quick as it may seem. It just wasn't July 9 like it was before. So after talking to my family more than anybody, I felt like this was the next step in my journey."


Everybody knew  the 76ers and the Rockets, along with the Cavs and the Lakers, were making a strong push for James' services, but it's interesting to hear that he actually considered all four teams, and possibly some others.


The fact that he has the potential to put the Lakers back to relevancy in the league after a five-year playoff hiatus, James’  revelations have made it clear that he will fully embrace the process of lifting the team back to being a dominant force in their bid for an NBA title.


There is a renewed buzz and excitement around the city of Los Angeles that has been lacking for quite some time, and James appears to be more than ready to help lift the Lakers back on top.(Eddie Alinea/PhlTodayUSA)


(Photo from Instagram | @jolo_revilla)


MANILA – It seems the chance of actor and former Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla to be out on bail or be freed soon is getting blurred again.


This after the Supreme Court (SC)  dismissed his petition and that of his chief of staff Richard Cambe, and Janet Lim Napoles seeking to reverse the Sandiganbayan resolutions regarding the P224.5-million plunder cases filed against them over the pork barrel scam.


The High Court reported that it dismissed all the petitions for lack of merit and affirmed the anti-graft court's resolutions.


The SC said there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan in issuing a writ of preliminary attachment over P224,512,500 in monies and properties owned by Revilla and his wife since the requisites for the issuance have been complied with.


“In so denying the petitions, the Court expressly stated that this Decision does not touch upon the guilt or innocence of the accused,” the High Court said.


The amount is the same amount subject of the plunder case.


The High Court also upheld the Sandiganbayan’s denial of Cambe and Napoles’ respective bail pleas.


Revilla filed a similar petition challenging his bail plea denial but later withdrew the pleading.


“The Sandiganbayan held that the prosecution duly established with strong evidence that Revilla, Cambe, and Napoles in conspiracy with one another, committed the offense of plunder and, thus, are not entitled to the constitutional right to bail,” the SC said.


As for Napoles, the SC said it considered a report by the Anti-Money Laundering Council stating that she controlled the non-governmental organizations involved in the scam.


“The Court found that the Sandiganbayan considered the entire record of evidence in finding strong evidence of guilt, indicative of lack of grave abuse of discretion,” the SC said.


It also said it was “unwilling to overturn the factual findings of the Sandiganbayan, absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion which, in this case, the Court did not find.”


“The Court also upheld the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of witnesses as it is the trial court that had the opportunity to listen to and observe the witnesses and, as its findings and assessments are entitled to great weight, sometimes even finality.”


The SC also denied the Ombudsman’s plea for the transfer of Revilla and Cambe’s physical custody to a facility operated by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), a motion that was earlier denied by the Sandiganbayan.


The Sandiganbayan junked the transfer plea as it found no justifiable ground for the transfer.


"On this point, the Court noted that the Sandiganbayan did not gravely abuse its discretion as the PNP Custodial Center is considered a jail and there is nothing in the law or rules that provide that the accused must be confined in a BJMP facility," the court said.


Revilla is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center for his alleged involvement in the multi-billion-peso anomaly involving legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), or pork barrel funds, which were supposedly misappropriated under the direction of businesswoman Napoles.


Of the three former lawmakers charged in the pork barrel fund scam, Revilla is the only one left in detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.


Revilla, together with former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and former senator Jinggoy Estrada, were charged with plunder, a non-bailable offense, along with alleged brains of the pork barrel scam Napoles. All three were detained in 2014.


However, both Enrile and Estrada were able to post bail for their temporary liberty. In 2015, the High Court allowed Enrile to post bail for humanitarian reasons due to his "advanced age and poor health," while Estrada was allowed by the Sandiganbayan special fifth division to post bail in September 2017.


 Talks of possible release on bail or dismissal of his case loomed recently when two whistleblowers in the alleged Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam cleare Revilla.


First, whistleblower Marina Sula cleared Revilla of wrongdoing during his trial at the First Division of the Sandiganbayan.


Next, another government witness, Arlene Baltazar, testified Revilla had no involvement in the plunder case.


Baltazar, accountant and bookkeeper of JLN Corporation, took the witness stand in the afternoon of June 28 and testified, like Sula, that documents being attributed to Revilla were in fact prepared in their office and signed by Benhur Luy.


Confronted with letters of endorsement, Baltazar told the Court that while she could no longer recall specific dates, it could all have been forged by Luy. “…It was Benhur Luy who signed these (documents). Pirma po ni Benhur lahat ng mga ito,” she said.


Asked how she knew, she responded “(This is our) standard practice.” Pressed further to clarify her statements, she answered “Nakita ko siyang pumipirma. No one else signs sa amin. Si Benhur lang ang pumipirma.”


Upon cross examination by the prosecution, the whistleblower revealed she was certain it was Benhur Luy who faked the documents without Revilla’s knowledge because they shared working space. “Magkalapit lang po kami. Ganito lang po kami kalayo (demonstrating about being two feet apart).” When asked if they had a divider or separate cubicles, Baltazar answered in the negative. “Wala po. In fact, isa lang table namin. Yung mga papeles niya nakapatong pa sa pwesto ko.”


Before ending her testimony, Justice Geraldine Faith Econg asked the witness: “Can you say with certainty whether Revilla received or did not receive kickbacks?” to which she replied “I can say with certainty thatRamon Bong Revilla, Jr. did not receive any money or kickbacks from the NGOs.”


Sula earlier revealed that it was Benhur Luy who prepared and faked all PDAF documents being used against Revilla. She also cleared Revilla of any participation in the scam and asserted Revilla never received any kickback. Aside from exposing being told by the prosecution to just corroborate all statements by Luy, she also revealed being ordered by Luy to “Idiin mo yang si Revilla” in a phone call one week before she took the stand.

Duterte bans casino in Boracay

Published in Latest News


MANILA – All investments, except casinos, are still welcome in Boracay, Malacañang said, insisting that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not allow the construction of a gambling establishment in the top tourist destination.


“I think what the President said is that he will not allow casinos. All other investments are otherwise welcome into Boracay,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.


Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group and its Filipino partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., earlier revealed a plan to build a USD500-million integrated resort-casino complex on a 23-hectare property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Boracay Island. Roque explained that Duterte “does not like” casinos because they encouraged certain types of gambling activities.


“The President does not like casinos as a matter of public policy. It is contrary to good morals. It encourages a vice, which is gambling,” Roque said.


Earlier, Roque warned private corporations from proceeding with construction of establishments despite the President’s firm belief that Boracay Island is a forestal and agriculture area.


“I don’t think any private entity should test the political will of the President on the issue of casinos in Boracay. The President has said no, and I would hope they would respect that as part of Executive power,” Roque said.


Despite a private entity being given a provisional license to proceed with construction, Roque described the license as “conditional” and “provisional.”


“It is subject to the happening of conditions which will never be fulfilled because the President has said he will not allow it,” Roque said.


On July 4, Duterte said that he is eyeing the creation of a committee that will identify the land owners of Boracay Island, which is currently undergoing rehabilitation.


Yang (That) Boracay, sinasabi ko (I’m telling you), allow government to clean it. And after that, I will return Boracay to its rightful owners,” Duterte said in an earlier speech.


“Now the problem is how to determine who owns what. There has to be a committee to be fair to everybody. From the local government then from the origins of any title there,” he added.


Upon Duterte’s orders, the government closed Boracay to tourists on April 26. It is set to re-open on October 26. 


Kim Chiu's car hit by a bus but she's not hurt

Published in Entertainment

(Photo from Instagram | @chinitaprincess)


Don’t look now but actress Kim Chiu recently figured in a vehicular accident in which fortunately she was just shaken and not badly hurt.


The comely actress herself recently shared on Instagram how her car got hit by a bus on her way to a block screening of the movie “I Love You, Hater” which stars Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto with comebacking actress Kris Aquino.


Published reports revealed that Kim sponsored the block screening with fellow actress Angel Locsin as a gift for her close friend, Kris Aquino.


In the  Instagram post, Kim wrote that the bus driver was not exactly cooperative which raised the ABS-CBN star’s suspicion that the bus was colorum vehicle.


“OMG! Binangga kami! Ayaw pa magbigay ng driver’s license and company ID nung driver. Baka nakacolorum ‘yung bus nila! LTO, please do something to this kind of bus company!” she wrote.


Kim also revealed that at the time of the mishap, the bus driver could not show his license and company identification card.


“This is the driver nawalang lisensya and company ID!!” she added.


Thankfully, Kim and her companions were not hurt in the freak accident and she made it to the I Love You, Hater block screening where she was joined by Kris and her son James “Bimby” Yap Jr., Julia Barretto and Angel Locsin.


Celebrities and their fans showed their support to Kris Aquino‘s movie comeback with Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto as the movie earned P40 million in just first five days.


Star Cinema, the movie outfit of ABS-CBN and producer of “I Love You, Hater,” announced the P40 million gross was as of last Sunday, July 15, 2018.


The announcement from Star Cinema came hours after Kris admitted she was initially "disappointed" by the box-office performance of I Love You, Hater, ABS-CBN reported.


But in an Instagram post later, Kris dropped hints that the the box-office performance of I Love You, Hater improved during the weekend.


She wrote: "A friend sent this, just purchased now... and i got word from @visionerickson that our Saturday & Sunday box office both individually doubled the sales of opening day. We have a faithful & loving God who brought so many angels into my life. Maraming salamat po."


In the film, Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto bring life to two young professionals: Joko Macaraeg and Zoey Rivera, respectively.


They are fighting for the same high-paying job, with Joko wanting to help his family out of their financial troubles while Zoey aims to prove herself to her father.


Director Giselle Andres pointed out that there was really an attempt from ABS-CBN’s film production and distribution unit’s team to deviate from what the JoshLia love team has already delivered on screen, including the drama film Love You to the Stars and Back.


“When we were coming up with a concept, we had a hard time because they were already established. We challenged ourselves to come up with a concept that will show a different side of them,” Andres was quoted as saying by the network.


“I Love You, Hater” marks the big-screen comeback of Kris Aquino who is cast as online media mogul Sasha Imperial. She pits the characters of Joshua and Julia against each other and tests which assistant is really the best for her.


Andres said that while the creative team wanted a different material for JoshLia, they only had one actress in mind for the role of the lady boss.


The young filmmaker who worked as an Assistant Director to most of director Olivia Lamasan’s films for the past eight years, said, “When we were coming up with a concept, we needed a major character to set the arena for JoshLia and we couldn’t think of anyone else but Kris Aquino.


"Initially, I thought she may not accept the project but when she agreed, Ibecame so nervous because she is Kris Aquino. To my pleasant surprise, I didn’t have any problems at all.”


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