Bad for Bantag, good for the Remullas

By Herbert Vego

THIS corner agrees with the popular notion that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is on the right track in probing the murder of our fellow journalist, Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa. It’s no joke that that DOJ has suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag, suspected mastermind behind the murder of Percy. Naturally, we are inclined to commend Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla for the unthinkable feat of personally working on the case that is now under preliminary investigation.

What this “efficiency” also tells us is that the Percy case has somehow swept under the rug a case filed against Sec. Remulla’s eldest son, Juanito Jose Remulla III, 38, who was arrested on October 11 by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for possessing P1.3-million worth of kush, a high-grade marijuana weighing 900 grams.

When news about it broke out, public reaction was one of disbelief. How could PDEA be so “brave” as to arrest the son of a cabinet member close to President Ferdinand “BBM” Marcos Jr.?

What “misfortune” would it bring PDEA Director-General Wilkins Villanueva?

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, possession of more than 500 grams of marijuana has a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.

We are made to believe that Juanito Jose is currently detained in a PDEA facility, facing charges filed by the (PDEA) for violation of RA No. 9165.

Now let’s go back to the above question on the gutsy PDEA head.

Oh well, the head has been decapitated. BBM has replaced Wilkins Villanueva with retired police general Moro Virgilio Lazo as PDEA chief. Of course, we are constrained to wonder whether it’s Villanueva’s “punishment” for the arrest of Secretary Remulla’s son.

Like Bantag, incidentally, Villanueva was appointed by former President Rodrigo Duterte. Hmm, what has become of BBM-Du30 “unity”?

Alas, while BBM’s suspension of Bantag is perceived to be in pursuit of justice, Villanueva’s termination appears to be in pursuit of a crime cover-up. It triggers the notion that Lazo as new PDEA chief would be “kinder” to the Remullas.

Still it could not be concluded that Villanueva was merely doing the right move against Remulla.

One recalls that Villanueva had refused to act on the accusation of a police officer against the involvement of Chinese businessman Michael Yang – former economic adviser to Pres. Duterte — in the illegal drug trade.

Yang made headlines for his role in enabling Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to win government contracts for medical supplies worth over P8.6 billion on a measly P625,000 in paid-up capital.

Oh well, Wilkins Villanueva may nevertheless say that he is in the process of redeeming himself, no matter who gets hurt.

-oOo-

KUDOS TO ILOILO CITY FOR WINNING ‘GALING POOK’

THANKS to its “I-BIKE” program promoting the development of the bike culture, Iloilo City won one of the ten Galing Pook Awards 2022 during the recognition rites at Malacañan Palace on Nov. 22.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. commended the City Government personnel, partners and stakeholders for supporting and strengthening the inclusive bike initiative.

Mayor Jerry Treñas and Jeck Conlu — head of the city government’s Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) — came to receive the award.

“Galing Pook” is a leading resource institution that recognizes, capacitates, and promotes innovation, sustainability, citizen empowerment, and excellence in local governance. Hosted by the Galing Pook Foundation, it is about good governance and projects worthy of emulation by other local government units. It is.

The I-BIKE program enhances bike lane networks’ connectivity and city biking culture being promoted by Iloilo City as the Bike Capital of the Philippines.

Mayor Jerry Treñas had no doubt convinced the panel of judges on the importance of bike events in a community being involved in various arts and culture. Heritage bike tours participated by both men and women cyclists have proven the claim that it is safe to bike-tour around the city.

A FORUM WITH OUR GRAB FRIENDS

BY invitation of our media colleague Toots Jimenez, we attended a recent forum hosted by the famous food-delivery service, Grab Food, at Richmond Hotel, Iloilo City.

In the new world of so-called high-tech living, food deliveries have become as popular as on-site merchandisers ranging from sari-sari stores to malls.

In their love to earn money for their families, they earn better than the average minimum-salaried worker.

Jo-Ann Ynson Yoshida, Grab’s region 6 manager, briefed us on the role of their motorcycle riders:  They are not just food-delivery boys but “independent contractors”.  Wow!

While there is no employer-employee relationship between the management and these riders, the latter accumulate a fortune by building a wide clientele.  Simply put, they earn a fee per delivery of food ordered by online customers. They may earn more by endearing themselves to “galante” food trippers and tippers.

I made known my observation that these riders – at present more than a hundred in Iloilo City and suburbs — are part of a “love triangle” with Grab and their restaurant clients.

Grab grabs a percentage of profit earned from client restaurants on case-to-case basis.

Jo and the rest of her team admitted that while their riders earn less than they used to during the pandemic days when restaurants were closed, they are here to stay because they are self-motivated.

Able-bodied jobless men with motorbikes and cell phones may apply. They are required to undergo training which would help them master the job and keep safe on the road.

Yes, they are self-employed, covered by SSS, Philhealth and accident insurance with burial benefits in the remote possibility of… alam n’yo na.

-oOo-

WOW, LIGHTNING ARRESTER!

TO maximize safety of energy users, MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) has maximized the number of lightning arresters in Iloilo City.

By a fluke incident, however, one such lightning arrester at Mandurriao Plaza was “arrested and disabled” upon direct hit by lightning, thus resulting in brownout. The accident alerted linemen to immediately repair damage and restore power.

Lightning arresters are cylindrical devices installed to shield power lines, homes, and structures from dangerous power surges. As the name suggests, they’re primarily designed to safeguard against damage caused by lightning strikes and various other threats. When a bolt of lightning strikes, the arrester activates and deflects the lightning to the ground, where it disperses harmlessly. Without them, lightning bolts may severely damage the wirings and even cause fires.

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