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(Photo from Instagram | @mr.cocomartin)


Coco Martin’s television series “Ang Probinsiyano” under fire even as it draws more support from viewers and the entertainment industry.


This as the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered all of its units to withdraw support for the three-year on the running TV series for allegedly depicting policemen in a bag light while the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) called for investigation on the use of its cast of PNP uniforms, insignias, and other official paraphernalia, raising the possibility that the show could be censored or even axed.


In a memorandum issued last week, all PNP offices and personnel were told to stop assisting and providing resources to the production team of the hit series.


"All units, offices, and personnel are advised to immediately refrain from assisting, to withdraw their support to the production of the said teleserye in terms of PNP resources like patrol cars, firearms, personnel, venues, and other items and gadgets being used in the teleserye," Police Community Relations Director Eduardo Garado said.


This developed after PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde aired concern on the alleged negative portrayal of some policemen in the Coco Martin-starrer.


Garado, in the memorandum, said producers of the show promised during a dialogue with the police force and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) last October 17 and 23 to "make the necessary corrections on the issues raised by the PNP in a week's time."


Senate President Vicene Sotto III and Senators Grace Poe and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes came to the defense of top rating television show “Ang Probinsyano,” both shielding the telenovela from criticisms from the DILG and the PNP.


Many actors like Vice Ganda also came to the defense of Coco Martin and his show, pointing out that the "show" was only a show and does not depict real situations and characters in the police agency.


An alliance of artists and media practitioners at the same time slammed the PNP leaders and the DILG for its supposed attempt to "censor" the hit TV series "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano”.


The group Let's Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) said it is the administration itself, and not the ABS-CBN action drama, that demoralizes the police force when it continues to be involved in alleged killings under the drug war. 


"Both Albayalde and Año claim that the story of 'Ang Probinsyano' demoralizes the ranks of policemen in this country. They should look for a mirror and join President Duterte in staring at it," LODI said in a statement. 


"If there’s anyone who demoralizes law enforcers, it is this regime that presides over an orgy of extrajudicial killings both in the cities and the countryside," the group added, urging Albayalde and Año to resign and just apply as the show's scriptwriters instead.


LODI stated it believes the move by the police could be a "trial balloon" for future attempts to crack down the media and the arts, citing that "Ang Probinsyano" is aired by a ABS-CBN, a network Duterte wishes to be denied a legislative franchise.


Sotto, who is a singer-actor, said judging the television series is highly debatable pointing out that the characterization there are not of those real people and clear fiction for the movies and television.


Poe, daughter of the late Movie King Fernando Poe Jr., who first portrayed the role “Cardo” in the “Ang Probinsyano" movie, said that current lead role Coco Martin has no reason to seek forgiveness since the actor is doing nothing wrong but just portraying his role.


The lady senator instead urged the DILG and PNP to focus their attention and energy on other more pressing problems they are facing such as high volume of crimes and the deterioration of the values of some of their members.


Trillanes warned the DILG and the PNP against forcing the producers of the show to change the plot of the story which he said would amount to censorship.


“Ganun talaga ang script eh, sabi nga fiction yan. Yan ay kathang isip kahit na anong script gawin dyan. Kung wala ka namang ginagawang mali, hindi ka dapat maba-bother dyan,” Trillanes said.


He said that if the PNP will insist on interfering with the show, he will file a resolution that will investigate their actions.


Trillanes advised the PNP not to watch the teleserye if they are taking offense with the show which he argued is purely fiction.


Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chief Rachel Arenas, a former congresswoman, meanwhile, said the agency has no mandate to stop the showing of "Ang Probinsiyano" but meetings are continuing with the PNP and DILG and ABSCBN and MTRCB to thresh out concerns on the series.


Only the court can stop the showing, said Arenas.


Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said there could be violation of freedom of expression which is guarranted by the constitution if the PNP and DILG insist on censoring the series.


"Solution is baguhin ang situation para sa image ng PNP," said Prof Luis Teodoro of the Center for Press Freedom and Responsibility.


DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano and PNP chief Albayalde later backpedalled and made it clear they did not want giant ABS-CBN to stop the airing of the hit series ‘Ang Probinsiyano.’


The officials, however, said they are merely concerned with the negative portrayal of the police force in the series and wanted it corrected as soon as possible.


The PNP has called on the attention of Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chairperson Maria Rachel J. Arenas to seriously look into the matter specifically their concern that the ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ has put the uniformed organization in a bad light, its recent episodes continuously portraying PNP personnel including the Chief PNP as villains, thus literally putting the PNP as ‘bad guys in the eyes of the public.’


Officials also have called the attention of ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer  Carlo Katigbak and Ms. Camille Camacho Rosales, an official of Dreamscape Entertainment, the outfit behind the series, regarding what they said as the ‘unfair depiction of PNP personnel in the teleserye, the PNP Chief included, thus putting the police force and its leaders in bad light.


Among the issues and concerns raised by the PNP were several scenes in ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ including one showing a high-ranking officer telling a subordinate that he can get a position ‘sa tamang halaga’ or through bribery. Officials said that the scene is an ‘insult not only to the PNP but also to the appointing authority, the President of the Republic since senior officers in the PNP are being appointed based on merits.


Another concern is the presence of the ‘Vendetta,’ the rebel group led by lead actor Coco Martin and former Senator Manuel Lito Lapid. The PNP said that the ‘Vendetta’ in the teleserye is depicted as defenders of the seat


 of government although it is contrary to real truth and in some ways sends viewers specifically the youth a distorted message.


Officials said that there was a scene in ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ wherein the ‘Vendetta’ members easily killed a group of policemen and Presidential Security Group personnel who were being portrayed as ‘villains’ in the story as they were involved in a plot to kill the president.


There is also the PNP’s concern over the ‘shabby’ wearing of police uniforms by many of the cast including the one who portrays the PNP chief as well as the series’ credit acknowledgement which gives the public the impression that the PNP is closely supervising the shooting of the ‘Ang Probinsiyano’ scenes when no real consultations between the police organization and the teleserye men have been taking place over the past months.


(Photo from Instagram | @jessicaesanchez)


Filipino American singer Jessica Sanchez is enjoying every day her present visit to the Philippines, the native country of her mother.


This appeared so as she went trending anew on Twitter, this time when she sang the soulful “Another Silent Christmas Song” with balladeer Christian Bautista at her press conference in Manila.


It was Jessica’s second time to perform a duet. The first was for the song “Two Forevers,” released in 2017.


And because of new developments, Jessica may yet be back in Manila on another extended stay to be able to learn and possibly record Filipino songs and explore the culture and heritage of her mother’s home country.


And she could be launched also as an actress in Manila.


The 23-year-old star singer, who rose to prominence when she ended up as runner-up in the popular United States talent show “American Idol, has just finished a standing room only concert at the Solaire Theater. She had as guest singer Martin Nievera in the show.


Jessica claimed she loves Christmas and may yet spend the season in Manila soon. “I haven’t had a silent Christmas. It’s loud and fun for me! I love Christmas! It’s very festive!” she exclaimed.


Jessica explained that Christmas for her back in her home in San Diego, California is a frenzy of activities, which consist of “putting up trees and wrapping presents.”


Since the season always puts her in a happy mood, Jessica admitted she cannot relate to a sad Christmas song. The fact that she puts so much soul to her somber Christmas song with a fellow Stages actor is proof of Jessica’s talent.


After her Solaire concert, Jessica will be holding another one in December in Davao. The Davao show is produced by BG Productions International owner Baby F. Go.


Jessica said she is readying for an extended stay in the Philippines next year to learn Tagalog with the help of a personal coach. 


It was learned the planned three- to four-week extended stay next year will see her doing an album, as she looks forward to “tapping into the (Filipino) culture and collaborating with more artists.”


BG Productions Baby Go, meanwhile, revealed she plans to cast Jessica in a movie, thus making her acting debut on the big screen in the Philippines.


She said she wants to record more Filipino songs as well as she signed up under a new management in Manila for the purpose.


It can be recalled that during her earlier visit last May, she gave a powerful rendition of the favorite song of Filipinos entitled "Ikaw" that rendition was in the ABS-CBN show “Umagang Kay Ganda.”


Top columnist Isah Red devoted a full report in his column on the only American Idol contestant with Filipino roots that reached the top 2 in the search’s season 11.


Last Nov. 10, a Saturday, Jessica was the featured star in a concert at The Theatre at Solaire with Filipino-American singer Martin Nievera.


At Studio 28 in Taguig City’s Uptown Parade in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Jessica met a motley group of members of the mass media and explained why she is back in the Philippines.


Though this isn’t her first time in the country, Jessica said she bent his time on carving a niche in the Philippines’ colorful and flourishing music market.


She signed with Stages for management of her career not only in the Philippines but in the booming digital music market in Southeast Asia.


Jessica, with the help of Stages, said Carlo Orosa who was there to represent the management company, will do a number of projects in the country in the coming months.


Meanwhile, it was gathered that she could be a judge in the upcoming “Idol Philippines” talent show on the top network ABS-CBN.


"I heard there's like rumors about that but nothing is like set in stone right now. But if they do ask me, I would love to be part of that," Jessica was quoted as saying in an ABS-CBN report.


During the media meet-up, another STAGES star, Christian Bautista, was also there, and they performed the Christmas tune that they recorded in LA, ”Another Silent Christmas Song,” which now available for download from digital music websites, according to Isah Red.


Jessica said she would love to learn Filipino (Tagalog), then she would sing more OPM songs, reported the columnist.


“While I don’t understand Filipino well, it’s a beautiful language to sing in. I want to learn, dive in and be part of the culture. I want to be able to talk and sing in Tagalog to show that side of me,” said the now 23-year-old singer, who was raised in the United States by a Mexican-American father and a Filipino mother from Bataan.


Jessica said she feels that speaking the Filipino language better can double as her way of thanking all the Filipino fans that have been supportive of her career over the years.


“I just love the people and how they backed me up throughout my ‘Idol’ journey, and I’m excited to show everyone how I have grown up,” said Jessica in Isah Red’s column.


During her Solaire concern, Jessica sang again the ballad “Ikaw,” which she has done a couple of times in previous visits to the country. She learned a couple more and performed them with Martin Nievera.


Jessica is also slated to do shows in Cebu and Davao in December.


The upcoming shows will be “a mix of fun stuff”—a throwback to her ‘Idol’ days, a smattering of her original material, and songs that have become part of her musical journey, Isah Red wrote.


“I’m excited to sing different types of songs that will cater to everyone in the crowd. It won’t be limited to ballads and pop songs. I want to touch everyone with my music,” she said. 


“Filipinos can really sing—they’re like vocal monsters, belting and doing all these crazy stuff! I’d love to work with talented artists, not only onstage, but also on record,” she said.


Jessica is recording a new album, which she hopes to finish and release next year. The sound will be R&B-leaning, which is more in line with who she is as an artist.


“I just feel that my voice sits in a beautiful pocket when I sing R&B music. I think my tone suits that genre, and I’m super excited to continue in that direction,” said Jessica, who looks up to the likes of Mariah Carey, Etta James and Aretha Franklin. “Over the years, I have let people dictate who I am as an artist. But now, I just want to do music that feels right to me.”

PHL still among Asia’s fastest growing economies

Published in Business

MANILA – The Philippines remained one of the fastest growing economies in Asia even after posting slightly slower growth at 6.1 percent in the third quarter, due to weaker agriculture output and ‘temporary’ decline in household spending over an inflation surge.


In a press briefing, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said an economic growth of at least 6 percent for 14 consecutive quarters suggests that the country is “now on a higher growth trajectory.”


He said the country’s third-quarter economic growth followed Vietnam’s 7 percent and China’s 6.5 percent, and way ahead of Indonesia's 5.2 percent.


Pernia said he is optimistic the domestic demand will shift to high gear again in the fourth quarter due to the holiday season, as the government continues addressing upward pressures on prices, especially on food.


He cited the issuance of Administrative Order No. 13 streamlining procedures covering the importation of food products.


“From the previous years, fourth-quarter consumption spending normally picks up quite a bit,” he noted.


Inflation remained at 6.7 percent in October 2018, but eased month-on-month by 0.3 percent since it peaked in August.


National Statistician and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) head Lisa Grace Bersales said “for Metro Manila, inflation is slowing down so we would expect this to encourage more household consumption expenditure at least for Metro Manila.”


Pernia, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General, said the economy would have grown “easily between 6.5 to 7 percent” in July to September if inflation did not increase.


The PSA reported that services had the highest contribution to the overall growth in the third quarter with 4.1 percentage points, followed by industry with 2.1 percentage points.


The agriculture sector, however, pulled down the growth by -0.03 percentage points.


Pernia attributed the weakness of the agricultural sector to the highly-regulated trading regime, and several typhoons that delayed the planting decisions of the farmers.


“As we have been saying, the more robust solution is to reform the legal framework surrounding agricultural development and agricultural trade, especially on rice and sugar,” he said.


Pernia further said the economy needs to expand by at least 7 percent in the fourth quarter to achieve the low-end of the government’s target of 6.5 to 6.9 percent growth rate for 2018.


The GDP accelerated 6.2 percent in the second quarter this year, and 7.2 percent in third quarter in 2017.


“The recent resumption of activities in Boracay (Island) will boost services growth over the medium term,” he added. 

Will Imelda’s conviction bring down the Marcoses?

Published in Perry Scope

For 32 years after her late husband, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was toppled from power, Imelda Marcos was never convicted of the crimes she allegedly committed during the reign of Marcos. Of the approximately 100 cases of graft and corruption filed against Imelda, the Philippine government lamely prosecuted her only to let her go.  Indeed, from the time the government allowed her to come home from exile to bury her deceased husband in 1989, she was untouchable.  She even ran for president in 1992.  She lost but proved that her husband’s following – the “Marcos Pa Rin” crowd – has remained loyal to her. 


Yes, she defiantly stood up against the establishment, the same people who ousted the Marcoses from power.  But that didn’t discourage her to give up Philippine politics; after all, she and her husband were the conjugal rulers for more than two decades.  They had it so good that they didn’t see it coming from, of all places, right under their noses in Malacanang Palace.  It was no other than Marcos’ Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and his Chief of Staff and cousin Lt. General Fidel V. Ramos who led the People’s Power Revolution in 1986.


Exiled to Hawaii at the urging of their best friend in Washington DC no less than the late President Ronald Reagan himself, who ordered then-Sen. Paul Laxalt to telephone Marcos.  After trying to persuade Marcos to step down, Marcos finally asked him, “Should I step down?  Senator, what do you think?”  It was what Laxalt was waiting for.  Laxalt then replied with his famous line: “Mr. President, I am not bound by diplomatic restraints. I am talking only for myself. I think you should cut and cut cleanly. I think the time has come." There was a long pause.  Then Laxalt asked, “Mr. President, are you still there?"  “I am still here, senator," Marcos replied. "I am so very, very disappointed.”  Thus, the longest presidency in Philippine history came to an end.  The Marcoses were flown to Hawaii in exile.  Marcos died in September 1989 leaving the fabled Marcos loot behind for his heirs.   Marcos also left behind billions of dollars in real estate and business assets.  But the Philippine government sequestered them all.  Although some have been sold, a large number remained unsettled. 


National politics


And this is where Imelda and her two children, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Imee Marcos, have inched their way to national politics, while retaining complete control of politics in their home province of Ilocos Norte.  Currently, Imelda is in her last term as congresswoman of the Marcoses’ bailiwick, the second congressional district, while Imee is serving her last term as governor.  Both will be termed out in 2019.  Then what?


Meanwhile, Bongbong, who lost to Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2016 elections, has protested the results of the election to the Supreme Court working as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).  At one time it was rumored that the PET will declare Bongbong winner without the benefit of a recount.  But how can the PET make a ruling without a recount?  There were talks that the Marcoses bribed some justices to do just that.  But it must have fizzled out since the PET started recounting a pilot area comprising of three provinces.  The recount is still ongoing.  However, depending on the outcome, a full recount is very much likely to happen, which means it won’t be completed until after the 2020 elections rendering it moot and academic. 


If that would be the case, Bongbong -- hedging his political future on the recount --would be out of the presidential race.  And this is where his sister Imee would come in – she would run for president.  And that’s probably the reason why she is running for senator in 2019, a stepping stone to the presidency.  Recent polls showed her in 7th or 8th place among the senatorial wannabes vying for 12 seats.


Battle royale


The question is: whom would she be facing in the 2022 presidential elections?  Who comes to mind are Vice President Leni Robledo, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sen. Grace Poe, and the President’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.  There could be more; but these aspirants, in my opinion, are now weighing their chances.


But because of Imee’s support among the formidable Marcos loyalists and her mother’s vaunted mega-wealth, she’d be put on the top tier of presidentiables, a battle royale between Robredo, Duterte-Carpio, and Imee Marcos. 


But Duterte-Carpio, too, has a very strong backing from her father’s loyalists, the more than 16 million who voted for him in 2016.  She can add her growing base of loyal followers. She can be very formidable indeed. 


Robredo, being the incumbent vice president, is presumed to have the support of those who voted for her in 2016.  She narrowly defeated Bongbong, which is now the basis of Bongbong’s electoral protest. 


With the conviction of Imelda, the millennials could be turned off and put their support behind Duterte-Carpio who had proven that she could be as forceful – if not more forceful – than her father.  And this is also where “blood is thicker than politics” plays an important aspect in the presidential election.   Indeed, Duterte -- whose alliance with the Marcoses is strong -- has no other option but to get behind his daughter’s candidacy.  As they say, nothing is permanent in politics.  Strange as it may seem, your friends today could be your enemies tomorrow; and your enemies yesterday could be your friends today.   It’s a strange world indeed.


Wrecking ball


And this where this writer believes that the conviction of Imelda would affect the upcoming battle royale.  Could it be that there are powerful people who are trying to discredit Imee by way of Imelda?  Could the conviction be used as a wrecking ball to demolish Imee’s presidential aspirations?  As opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement, “I hope this ruling would serve as a crucial electoral guide to our voters this coming election.”


It’s interesting to note that Imelda still has all the political connections and topnotch legal representation to influence the corruption cases against her. The fact that none have succeeded in the past 32 years is a testament to her inherent power to avoid convictions until now, which begs the question:  Where did the judge who convicted her get the courage to convict a high-profile and seemingly untouchable defendant?  Just imagine the tremendous amount of pressure the judge was subjected to rule for acquittal.


Indeed, looking at past court decisions, no judge had the cojones to declare Imelda guilty and issue a warrant of arrest.  This time the court found her guilty of seven counts of graft -- after a trial that took 28 years to prosecute -- each punishable by a minimum of six years in prison.  She was sentenced from a minimum of 42 years to a maximum of 77 years in prison for making seven bank transfers totaling $200 million to Swiss foundations -- which the Marcoses opened in 1968 in violation of the Philippine Constitution -- during her term as Metro Manila governor between 1972 and 1984. 


She’s also automatically disqualified from holding any public office.  That means that she cannot run for her daughter Imee’s governorship of Ilocos Norte, which she filed her candidacy last October.


It is expected that Imelda would file a motion for reconsideration.  And if the judge   sustains Imelda’s conviction, she could then appeal to the Court of Appeal and if that fails, then it goes to the Supreme Court. 


It is interesting to note that the Sandiganbayan (anti-graft court) had once convicted Imelda of graft in 1993, but the Supreme Court overturned the anti-graft court's decision in 2003; thus, saving her from a 12-year prison sentence, which begs the question: Would the current Supreme Court do the same thing for her?  Indeed, the Supreme Court also did the same thing for Gloria in 2016, after she was detained for several plunder cases against her in 2011.


Presidential reaction


In reaction to Imelda’s conviction, Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said: “While we note that there are still legal remedies available to Congresswoman Marcos, this latest development underscores that our country currently has a working and impartial justice system that favors no one.”  Panelo also said, “The ruling against Imelda Marcos was proof that Duterte ‘is not in the business of exerting undue interference or influence’ on courts, and he respects the decision.”  The hidden message is crystal clear – Duterte isn’t prone to support Imee.


At the end of the day, one wonders: Will Imelda’s conviction bring down the Marcoses?


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