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Task force created, eyes ex-President Aquino, allies part in PDAF, DAP mess



MANILA — Promising no selective justice as in the past administration, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has set into motion a new investigation into the multi-billion-peso anomalies involving lawmakers’ pork barrel dubbed the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Development Acceleration Program (DAP).


Aguirre said present and former legislators and Aquino administration officials who were never investigated on their pork barrel and who may have escaped public scrutiny and the Commission on Audit (CoA) special audit will also be the subject of investigation.


Earlier reports indicated that former President Benigno Aquino III, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former Senate President Franklin Drilon could be the officials to be investigated.

Last month, Aguirre said during a press briefing that allies of former President Aquino like Senators Leila de Lima, Antonio Trillanes IV, and  Drilon and former Budget Secretary Abad were implicated in the PDAF scam.


Another report indicated former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II may also be investigated.

Aguirre said lawyer Stephen David, Napoles’ counsel, informed him that Napoles revealed that de Lima, Trillanes, Drilon and Abad were allegedly involved in the anomalous budget program

Aguirre has created a special task force to look into the anomalous multi-billion-peso pork barrel funds. “I have already ordered the reorganization of the Task Force on PDAF cases for the purpose of reinvestigation. I designated Undersecretary Antonio “Richie” Kho as head of the task force,” Aguirre said.


Kho’s team is composed of prosecutors and agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), according to the Justice chief.


The Justice chief said that the new task force replaced the NBI task force created by former Justice chief and current Senator de Lima, who is now detained on drug trafficking charges.

De Lima’s task force that launched the fact-finding probe on the PDAF scam during the Aquino administration only led to the plunder indictment of opposition personalities.


Aguirre said several former Cabinet officials close to former President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III would be among those to be investigated.


These officials are not yet off the hook, Aguirre stressed as he vowed that the new task force will rectify the “miscarriage of justice” in the earlier probe conducted by the previous administration.

“Just as it was in the previous investigation, the statements and evidence will be validated through records from relevant implementing agencies and the Commission on Audit,” Aguirre said.

“But this time, we can assure the public that there will be no selective justice - unlike what happened in the previous administration,” the Justice chief vowed.

Aguirre said a new probe into the pork barrel scam was necessary as a result of the “selective justice” applied during the earlier probe, where the investigation centered on only three opposition lawmakers, namely former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., the last two still held at the PNP Detention Center in Camp Crame pending their trial.


No other senator had been charged with plunder but officials had hinted some senators could face plunder after the investigation.

While a handful of congressional allies of the previous administration were charged, they were charged merely for graft, which is a bailable offense.


Aguirre said the new task force will handle the fact-finding probe into the alleged anomalies in the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the unlawfully implemented and controversial budget program of the Aquino administration.

In the case of the DAP filed against Aquino and former budget chief Florencio “Butch” Abad, the Ombudsman, known to protect the former president and his officials, quickly absolved Aquino while merely giving Abad a slap in the wrist. 

The Ombudsman was even quoted by media as saying that Aquino is “corrupt free”even before cases of plunder and corruption against him were investigated.

Aguirre said the panel would also meet with Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David and anti-pork advocate Greco Belgica for gathering of evidence.

The new task force will kick off the probe with the affidavit and documentary evidence to be submitted by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged pork barrel scam queen, Aguirre said.

(Savannah Gankiewicz | Photo from Instagram | @savannah_gankiewicz)


Yes, Virginia, two beautiful girls from the United States are contestants in this year's search for Mutya ng Pilipinas.


The two are Mutya ng California Suzanne Perez and Mutya ng Hawaii Savannah Gankiewicz.


Mutya ng California Suzanne Perez is only 20 years old and is already a pre-school teacher and a model at the prestigious Models & Talent Agency.


Suzanne is also the ambassador for UNA, an organization for the youth, according to columnist Ricky Lo.


“I come from a family of politicians, mayors and senators,” Suzanne was quoted as saying by the columnist.  


It was also reported that Suzanne was Miss Popularity/Miss People’s Choice second runner-up at Miss Philippines USA 2015 and the reigning Miss Fullerton USA 2016.


Suzanne admitted she looks up to her Filipino mother as role model, best friend and “forever love,” adding, “Thank you for raising me to be independent, strong, confident in who I am."


"I appreciate everything you have done and given us,.” she also said about her mother.


Mutya ng Hawaii Savannah Gankiewicz, on the other hand, is only 21 and she’s a model from the island of Maui in Hawaii. 


Savannah is a beautiful blend of Filipino, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese blood, reported Ricky Lo. 


“My great uncles were former Mayors in Abra,” she shared. She bagged the People’s Choice Award at Miss Super Talent of the World 2015 and also participated at Miss Virginia Teen USA contest in 2013.


In his latest column, Ricky Lo wrote that the Mutya ng Pilipinas prides itself as the longest-running beauty contest in the country, with overseas beauties adding glamour and glitter annually. 


Together with the other homegrown Mutya contenders, as part of the search’s tourism drive the “imported” bets are busy with pre-pageant activities that include visits to the luxurious Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Iloilo City and the world famous resort town of Boracay, leading to the grand coronation night on Aug. 4 at Resorts World Manila which will be televised by ABS-CBN.  


To inspire the Mutya hopefuls, reigning Miss Asia Pacific International Tessa Helena Le Conge arrived a few days ago from her native The Netherlands to promote the Miss Asia Pacific International 2017 around the country. She will be back to crown her successor in November.


True to its tradition, the Mutya “beauty hunt” still goes on in various Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern regions. The final Manila screening will be held at the West Avenue Suites (on West Ave., Quezon City) next Tuesday,  July 3, from 1 to 5 p.m. Regional screenings were held in Davao on June 21 at Regency Inn; and Cebu on June 25 at LIV Super Club, Mandaue City. Another screening is set for Sunday, July 1, in Batangas.


Ricky Lo listed the other candidates, namely:


·         Mutya ng Scandinavia Bertmari Yr Bergmannsdottir, 21. She comes from Iceland and holds a diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM). “I received a scholarship from the Cesar Ritz Colleges in Switzerland to complete my HRM; it’s effective July this year. But I had to beg off in favor of competing in the Mutya ng Pilipinas pageant.”

·         Mutya ng Melbourne Abigail Grigsby, 18. A model at MASmodel, Ltd. Co., she was also one of the top contenders for the Top Model of the World Philippines in 2016.

·         Mutya ng Japan Jessa Wada, 22. She won Best in Swimsuit, Miss Photogenic and People’s Choice at the Mutya ng Japan 2017 search. She was also Reyna ng Bulacan in 2014. “I love enhancing other people’s beauty using my self-taught make-up skills,” she said.


Other delegates from overseas Filipino communities in Asia, Australia, various locations in the USA, the EU and Scandinavia are consistent participants in the pageant, which has three major titles at stake: Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International, Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism International and Mutya ng Pilipinas-Overseas Communities.

(Photo from Instagram | @praybeytbenjamin)


Yes, Virginia, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is returning to the movies and this time with a bang.


Pia will co-star in a still untitled movie with no less than box office leader Vice Ganda and today’s heartthrob Daniel Padilla.


Shooting for the movie will start in two to three weeks, according to Star Cinema, producer of the film.


Star Cinema made the official announcement in a story conference with Pia and the other stars last Thursday, June 15, at the historic Manila Hotel.


Vice Ganda, who starred in the country’s top grossing movies, said he was excited for the new movie.


“This is gonna be one exciting movie! Can't wait!" he said on Twitter.


Another tweet from James Banaag of Star Cinema, the movie’s other cast members include comedians MC, Lassy, and Wacky Kiray.


The untitled movie will be directed by Joyce Bernal.  


Pia, 26, expressed excitement to work on her first major movie. She started as an actress at age four and took the name Pia Romero.


Interviewed in a news program of ABS-CBN, Star Cinema’s sister company, the Filipino-German beauty from Cagayan de Oro City said she never imagined in her life that she will headline a movie with two of the country’s biggest stars.


“Noon, masayang masaya na ako kapag guest ako sa show ni Vice tulad noong bago ako sumali sa Miss Universe. Ngayon, makakatrabaho ko na siya sa isang movie tapos kasama ko pa si Daniel Padilla tapos directed by Joyce Bernal pa. Sobrang thankful ako,” she said on ABS-CBN News.


Pia admitted that she is also nervous about the project.


“Medyo kinakabahan ako kasi first movie ko nga ito pero ni-reassure naman niya (Vice) ako na masaya ito and hindi naman ako dapat kabahan at mag-e-enjoy ako sa movie na ‘to,” she said.


Pia said the comedian also promised that he will take care of her while they are filming.


Pia said she will prepare well for her role in the still untitled Star Cinema movie.


“Kailangan ng acting workshop na. Balik gym na rin ako kasi superhero ako dito. Hindi puwedeng lalamya lamya. Pero nagawa ko na rin naman 'yung mga 'yun dati so excited ako,” she said.


Pia had expressed early on her plans to return to showbiz.


The good news on Pia’s career came as she was under fire for her claims about her father in the dramatization of her life over ABS-CBN’s “Maalaala Mo Kaya” hosted by Charo Santos Concio.


A particular scene in that television presentation caused controversy and Pia was heavily criticized by the family of her late German father, Uwe Wurtzbach.


In a report by the Philippine Entertainment Portal (Pep.Ph), Uwe’s live-in partner, Robie Asingua accused Pia of making “a false story” in relation to how Uwe supposedly asked Pia for money for medication when he was still alive.


“What a hell are you doing Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, making a false story oh yeah you are a big liar your papa never ask money from you, shame to yourself,” Asingua wrote on a Facebook post that eventually deleted.


Asingua was particularly incensed by the scene where Uwe (played by American actor Lee O’ Brien) and his live-in partner asked Pia (played by Liza Soberano) for money for his medication during a telephone conversation from Puerto Princesa, Palawan shortly after she placed first runner-up in 2013 Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant.


This never happened, according to Asingua, who insisted that Pia’s father never asked her for money as the former also called Pia “a big liar” for “making [up] a false story.”  Asingua revealed that she is based in Puerto Princesa, which suggests that she was the woman portrayed as Uwe’s mistress in the “MMK” episode.


Asingua also revealed that Uwe, who is also the father of Alexander, died in Palawan in 2013 without ever receiving a single centavo or in her own words, “singkong duling” from Pia.


Alexander was likewise angry at Pia over the depiction of his father in the episode as a womanizer who left Pia and her mother when she was still a child.


“Sa lahat lahat ayaw ko yung sisiraan mo ang patay na. wala ng kinalaman yun eh.Karmahin sana kayo parang walang pinagaralan. Wag mung dadalahin ang apelyedo na yan kung alam mo ganyan ugali ng tatay mo. Kala ko ba babaero sya at wala sya kwenta bakit mahal mo parin sya,” Alexander posted.


“You[‘]r[e] a freeking liar dont use my father’s surname if you don’t like him you’r[e] a millionaire now so change it! Don’t say your money will help you. you are a liar!!!,” he added.


Asingua also added the Pia’s mother allegedly “got into an affair with a neighbor,” which prompted Uwe to leave them.


Asingua’s son with Uwe, Pia’s half-borther Alexander Wurtzbach also came to his father’s defense.


“Don’t use my father’s surname if you don’t like him; you’r[e] a millionaire now so change it!” Alexander wrote.


Pia has yet to comment on the issue, but her sister Sarah who is staying in London came to her defense.


Actress Liza Soberano acted as Pia in the television episode.


On the comments section of Alexander’s post, Sarah warned that she can easily dig up Alexander’s and his mother’s messages.


“You might want me to dig up the messages you and your mother sent to us. You might just get embarrassed. Stop it, there it is, fame! Embrace it,” Sarah wrote.


Meanwhile, ABS-CBN chief content officer and “Maalaala Mo Kaya” host Charo Santos-Concio  addressed the controversy surrounding the most recent episode of the drama anthology which told the life story of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach.


In an interview, Concio said the team behind "MMK" made sure to get the account of Wurtzbach from no one but the beauty queen herself.


“We talked to Pia. ‘MMK’ talked to Pia. That’s her story so we respect her story,” she said.


Many viewers were moved by the dramatization of the life story of the Miss Universe 2015 in the episode of the long-running drama anthology series “Maalaala Mo Kaya.”


The beauty queen from Cagayan de Oro City who is the third Filipina to win the title of Miss Universe following Gloria Diaz who won in 1969 and Margarita “Margie” Moran who won in 1973, was formerly known as Pia Romero while an actress and model.


She began acting at age four as Pia Romero. She was managed by ABS-CBN Corporation’s talent agency Star Magic.


Pia was part of the Star Circle Batch 11. Among her TV credits are the teen-oriented series K2BU, the concert variety program ASAP, the romance anthology Your Song, the sitcom show Bora, and the drama series Sa Piling Mo.


Her batchmates in Star Circle Batch 11  included Maja Salvador, Rayver Cruz, Glaiza de Castro, Carla Humphries, Ketchup Eusebio, Nikki Gil and her best friend Pauleen Luna.


She was a cast member of the teen-oriented TV series, “K2BU” together with Shaina Magdayao, Bea Alonzo and Angelene Aguilar. She then went on to be cast in other ABS-CBN shows like “It Might Be You,” several episodes of ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya,” the fantaserye, “Aryana” where she played a jellyfish and TV5’s “Third Eye.”


Pia also played supporting roles in films like “All My Life” (headlined by Aga Muhlach and Kristine Hermosa) and “All About Love” (starring John Lloyd Cruz and Kristine Hermosa).


“It has been a while since I’ve done acting but I would love to explore my acting skills again,” Pia enthused early this year as she was quick to point out that she is under contract with IMG, the New York-based talent management agency that handles Miss Universe.

Charice is 'reborn' as Jake Zyrus

Published in Entertainment

(Photo from Rappler)


International singer Charice Pempengco has been reborn.


This as she is now known as Jake Zyrus.


Showbiz authority and columnist Mario Bautista reported that Charice just went live on her Instagram account, that has more than 120,000 followers, after being absent from it for more than two months when it was reported that she broke up with her live in partner named Alyssa Quijano.


And she now introduces herself as Jake Zyrus, which is also her new name in her Twitter account. 

Looks like she has moved on from her break up and is ready to start life on a new clean slate, according to the report.


Someone asked her about Alyssa and she said she doesn’t know because they don’t communicate anymore and have completely lost touch.


There are talks that they broke because of money matters but she won’t confirm nor deny it.

Mario Bautista also reported that Charice (or Jake Zyrus) looks more masculine than ever with her very short haircut and simple boy’s T-shirt. As one of her fans commented: “Binatang-binata ang dating, a. Barako boy.” 
She said what they see now is the real Charice as the old one before was just the image her handlers wanted her to project then. Now, what you see is what you get. 
Someone even asked her if she just had one drink too many and she said repeatedly: “No, I’m not drunk. I’m not drunk. Hindi rin ako addict, huh. Nagpa-tattoo lang ako, addict na raw. Hindi ako addict!”
Fans are hoping that Charice’s transformation as Jake will help her to still be able to recover her lost glory.


Martio Bautista wrote that at this stage, she really needs new managers and handlers who will help re-energize her dormant career and put her back on track. C harice was very successful at some point in her career, even conquering the U.S. market and doing Hollywood movies.
All this she lost when she became defiant in coming out and living in with Alyssa, it was reported.


The columnist wrote: People can only take so much. It was too sudden and abrupt for her fans, unlike Aiza Seguerra who tested the waters first before admitting her true sexual preference to the public and, as such, is able to maintain her career even when she later had a same sex marriage with Liza Diño.

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