POSTSCRIPT / September 8, 2013 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noy faces test in likely suspension of senators

CAN HE DO IT?: The political backbone of President Noynoy Aquino will be put to a severe test the moment he decides to file plunder charges against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles involving the massive diversion of billions in pork barrel funds.

Private citizen Napoles will have to be prosecuted with conniving public officials, who might even be considered the principals, for a complaint to prosper at the Office of the Ombudsman and later ripen into plunder charges with the Sandiganbayan.

The moment the non-bailable plunder charges are filed, the co-accused public officials, such as senators, congressmen and some executive officials will have to be suspended in one sweep.

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SELECTIVE, PARTISAN: Section 5 of RA 7080, the plunder law, says: “Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office.”

Bail is not available as Section 2 imposes a penalty of reclusion perpetua (life sentence) to death. Capital punishment having been abolished, life term has gone up as the maximum penalty.

Can President Aquino handle the political fallout of the suspension of, for instance, senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Gringo Honasan who are being mentioned prominently in the inquiry and readied for the kill by trial in the media?

Then if he does not bring to court all those involved in the conspiracies (plural, because Napoles is not the only operator), how does he handle accusations of selective partisan prosecution?

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PINAY NANNY: For pleasant Sunday reading, we are culling from a Yahoo story written by Luigene Yanoria on “Ilo Ilo, “ a film that tells the story of a Filipina nanny serving at a time when a Singaporean family struggles during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Directed by Anthony Chen, the film is Singapore’s bet in next year’s Oscars (foreign language category). Last May, it won the Camera d’Or prize for best debut feature at Cannes — a first for Singapore and the biggest recognition so far for the first-time director.

Yeo Chun Cheng, director of Singapore Film Commission, says “Ilo Ilo is a uniquely Singaporean story about resilience in family relationships, a theme which resonates with the rest of the world.” The title “Ilo Ilo” was taken from the Philippine province of origin of the Pinay domestic.

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REAL LIFE: Yanora writes in Yahoo: “The movie is autobiographical, as it tells the story of the director’s real-life nanny and how she served his family when times were hard.

“While most of the recognition for this critically-acclaimed film comes from Singapore, two Filipinos stand proud in ‘Ilo Ilo’ — Angeli Bayani, who plays Auntie Terry, and Teresita Sajonia, the real-life Pinay nanny.

Angeli sensed how close Auntie Terry is to the director… Obviously napaka-intense kung ano man ang naging relationship nila. Napakalakas ng bond nila…Tribute talaga sa yaya niya.

“The indie actress believes the secret of the film’s success lies in its ability to give each character equal share of the limelight. ‘Wala siyang pinapanigan. Kaya bilang audience mapapaisip ka kung kanino ka mag-ru-root for.’

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REUNION: “Director Anthony made sure every scene would be realistic. Very OC (obsessive compulsive) siya [while doing the movie]. Lahat base sa memory niya. Gusto niya ma-capture hindi lang ‘yung sa’kin dahil mahalaga sa kanya si Auntie Terry. Yung Asian crisis yun talaga ang gusto niyang ipakita.

“At the gala premiere last Aug. 24 in Singapore, Chen flew in his special guest, his childhood nanny Teresita no less.

“Her reunion with the Chen family wouldn’t have been possible if Teresita was not found late July in her hometown in San Miguel, Iloilo, 16 years after she returned to the Philippines.

“As reported in Singapore’s Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao (translated to English by the ‘Ilo Ilo’ Facebook page), the director and his brother Christopher found their former nanny living in poverty.”

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GUAGUA REPORTS: At the Clark Freeport last Friday, the Balitaan forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) at its Bale Balita (House of News) had for its guest Mayor Dante Datu Torres of the first-class town of Guagua in Pampanga.

One of the new faces in local politics, Torres made a name in the last May election by defeating then Mayor Ricardo S. Rivera, whose family had been in power for years.

The mayor said the continuing challenge to Guagua is how to catch up with its more progressive neighbors, like in terms of rising revenues, upgraded infrastructure, effective public services, and vibrant business centers.

Its income has averaged less than P200 million a year, the bulk coming from its P100-million Internal Revenue Allotment. Other revenues as in business taxes and fees stand at P37 million annually and its realty tax collection at P3 million. Taking up the slack is the P5-million yearly assistance given by the office of Gov. Lilia Pineda.

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SEAFOOD CENTER: Torres is optimistic that Guagua will rise by improving its income-generating capacity, providing better services in such areas as education, public health, peace and order, as well as in boosting business activities.

“We intend to capitalize on Guagua’s brand as a seafood center,” he said. “We have lined up activities to drum this up and attract a wider public.” He disclosed that the bulk of tilapia soldin Luzon and Metro Manila passes through Guagua’s markets.

For the coming holidays, Guagua is planning trade and product fairs to rev up business, hence revenues, and attract more interest from new investors and locators.

Guagua has been known for its Betis wood art, as a center for education, and a major tourist destination. (Barangay Betis is about a fourth of Guagua.)

“One of our dreams,” Torres said, “is to recover Guagua’s historic role as a premier market place for marine and farm products.” Originally called “Wawa” or mouth of the river, Guagua was already a prosperous settlement long before the arrival in 1561 of Spanish colonizers.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 8, 2013)

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