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Lawyer Mel Sta. Maria urges everyone to watch the Supreme Court after Robredo’s resignation from HUDCC



In his Opinion column for Interaksyon, Lawyer Mel Sta. Maria said warns everyone to take a closer look at the Supreme Court after Vice President Robredo resigned from her post as HUDCC chair.

He took note of Robredo’s apprehension upon her resignation, evident in how she said that she has been “warned of a plot to steal the Vice Presidency” and how “the events of recent days indicate that this plot is now being set into motion.”

Sta. Maria said that such a statement from Robredo points to a plot not only by ordinary people but by “scheming, powerful and conspiring individuals with the means and influence to execute it,” adding that “only an institution can bring down another institution.”

And that is how he pointed to the Supreme Court as the possible source of Robredo’s apprehension. How is that the case?

Only the Supreme Court can oust Robredo as VP.

“Section 4 Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “the Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose,”” Sta. Maria said.

He said that when Robredo said “events of the recent days,” she was referring to the Supreme Court’s 9-5 decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Sta. Maria said that former Senator Bongbong Marcos could be counting on the Supreme Court to proclaim him as the new VP, too.

He also pointed to how Marcos rejected the results of the machines declaring Robredo as the winner, while accepting the same machine’s results that declared Duterte as the President. He took note of how smug Marcos was about claiming the vice presidency.

“And, without the case still being heard on its merits, Bongbong smugly declared, ‘I will eventually take my seat that is being kept warm for me,’” Sta. Maria said.

“He should not have said that because it generated so many speculations. For instance, one wonders:  does this arrogance come from Bongbong’s sense of entitlement because he is a Marcos, or could this possibly be coming from something deeper, a more sinister, albeit for him reassuring, plan that will soon unravel before us?” he added.


And Marcos’ confidence could have come from Duterte’s evident support for him, too, especially after the President introduced him in China as “the next vice-president if he wins the protest,” Sta. Maria said.

The lawyer also wondered about the impact of Duterte’s “sub-judice statements” on the SC justices, starting with the Marcos burial and now, the younger Marcos’ election protest, in addition to the fact that the justices know about Duterte and Marcos’ friendship.

And yet another concern is the SC’s track record on voting in cases involving high-profile political personalities, said Sta. Maria. It doesn’t look good for Robredo, he added.

“This is the Supreme Court whose majority members are perceived — rightly or wrongly — to be always siding with the “elite,” the rich, the privileged, and/or people highly placed in the political ladder. And this perception has basis,” Sta. Maria said.

And he enumerated what those cases are, which include the following:

  • Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s acquittal
  • Former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ acquittal
  • Bail granted to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile
  • Adjudged absolute pardon for former President Joseph Estrada
  • Excused sanction for Mayor Junjun Binay
  • Decision not to oust Congressman Ronald Singson because his drug-related conviction is not considered a crime of moral turpitude

Sta. Maria pointed out other controversial case the SC has voted on in the past.

“This is also the Supreme Court whose majority ruled against the coconut farmers and in favor of Danding Cojuangco in the coco-levy case because, among others, there was no showing that the latter was one of the “close associates of President Marcos” — prompting former Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, now the Ombudsman, to say that “the argument that Cojuangco was not the subordinate or close associate of the Marcoses is the biggest joke to hit the country,” he said.

And of course, the SC’s most recent controversial decision to allow the dictator’s burial at the heroes’ cemetery.

Sta. Maria said that Robredo is not rich, not a part of the “elite” or the powerful class, except for the Filipinos who voted for her.

“Given this Supreme Court perception, is it totally unjustified for people to be apprehensive as regards how the Supreme Court, sitting as an electoral tribunal, will decide the Vice Presidency and Leni’s fate?” he asked.

The lawyer, though, hopes the SC will make a decision that will be “uplifting our national spirit and affirming the sovereignty that resides on the people.”

Sta. Maria then urged everyone to “think and act fast,” no matter how exhausting and frustrating things can be.

“In the meantime, we seem to be paralyzed again by these latest developments, and the need to process everything never appears to be fast enough for our brains to comprehend. We find ourselves asking once more, “what now” and “what next”? Well, we should not hold our breaths till we turn blue. We must think and act fast because eventually, it will affect us and the country. Yes, it is exhausting, and heaven knows it can be very frustrating. But at the end of the day, there are things which we simply cannot allow to happen again. So it is up to us to make sure that they do not,” he said as concluded his column.

Sources: (,



Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’



President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks


His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( )


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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show



Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.


Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal



Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.


In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

Sources: ( , )


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