Philippine film star-turned-senator pleads not guilty to graft
admin • June 26, 2014 • 2617
Ramon ”Bong” Revilla, a Philippine action movie hero-turned senator, gives a thumbs-up sign inside a police van after his voluntary surrender at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in Manila June 20, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/AL FALCON
(Reuters) – A popular Philippine action movie hero-turned senator pleaded not guilty to plunder on Thursday in a case seen as landmark test of the government’s ability to tackle entrenched corruption in the poor Southeast Asian nation.
Ramon “Bong” Revilla, known for possessing amulets to defeat his enemies in film, stood quietly with about 20 other co-accused during the arraignment hearing. “Not guilty” one of the three judges said when they did not hear him enter a plea.
The opposition senator faces life imprisonment if found guilty of pocketing 224 million pesos ($5.11 million) from 2007 to 2010 from congressional funds. Revilla is being held at a police camp.
The plunder trial is central to President Benigno Aquino’s effort to shed the country’s image as one of the most corrupt in Asia.
The court set Revilla’s first hearing for July 10.
Two other opposition senators are facing similar plunder charges. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, son of former president and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, will be arraigned next week.
Juan Ponce Enrile, a 90-year-old former senate president and hero of People Power revolt against the dictatorship in 1986, is appealing to avoid detention due to his age and poor health.
Prosecutors, citing government-commissioned reports and witness testimony, said the three senators had siphoned off funds to non-existent non-government organizations for agricultural projects.
MANILA, Philippines — The country has opened the first “green lane” for seafarers in Asia to allow the free movement of seafarers and personnel across borders.
The Philippine Green Lane Joint Circular, which took effect upon signing on Thursday (July 2), was created by the Philippine government to ensure that seafarers are accorded speedy and safe travel, subject to health protocols mandated by the Philippine government.
It intends to provide safe and swift disembarkation and crew change during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for both Filipino and foreign seafarers whether inbound, outbound or transiting.
The Joint Circular will also facilitate the creation of controlled travel corridors to open the Philippines for people-to-people and economic exchange and stimulate the country’s economy amidst its ongoing bout against the pandemic.
The signing ceremony was held at the Department of Foreign Affairs office led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin together with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and representatives from the Department of Health Bureau of Quarantine among other officials.
MANILA, Philippines – Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured President Rodrigo Duterte of assistance amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during a telephone conversation, Malacañang said on Friday.
In a statement, Malacañang said the phone call took place on Thursday night, June 11 and lasted for 38 minutes. The call came two days after the Philippines and China marked 45 years of diplomatic ties.
The Palace said that during the phone conversation, Xi promised Duterte that the Philippines would be a “priority” if China successfully develops a vaccine against COVID-19.
This was after Duterte stressed the need for cooperation in the research and development of the vaccine and “underscored the importance of making the vaccine accessible and affordable to all countries.”
“President Xi, on the other hand, assured PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) his country’s commitment to make the vaccine available for all, adding that the Philippines, as a friendly neighbor, would certainly be a priority,” the Palace said.
Malacañang also said that the two leaders discussed both countries’ progress in combating COVID-19 and their strategies to restart their respective economies.
“Both tendered their commitment to work together in fighting COVID-19 as part of international efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” it added.
The Palace also said that the two leaders likewise emphasized the friendship of two countries and the “significant increase in mutual cooperation in wide range of areas.”
China’s state run Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi and Duterte praised each other for their handling of the pandemic.
The agency also reported that Duterte supposedly promised Xi that the Philippines will always be a friend of Chinese people and will not allow the Philippines to be used or engaged in anti-China activities. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines — The International Labor Organization (ILO) has recorded a 4.8 percent decline in the number of working hours worldwide which is equivalent to 135 million full-time jobs in the first quarter of 2020 as an impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is estimated to reach 305 million equivalent jobs by the end of the second-quarter which would add to the number of unemployed individuals around the world.
Specifically, the regions that will bear the brunt of largest losses in hours worked worldwide would be the Americas, Europe and Central Asia.
According to the ILO, the hardest hit are young workers, of which 1 out of 6 are now jobless since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who remain employed have faced cuts in their working hours by 23 percent, the ILO said.
In the Philippines, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III estimates that around 4 million to 5 million Filipinos could become jobless this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers may even reach 10 million if the crisis worsens further.
“Right now, your Honor, we already lost 2.6-M workers resulting from business establishments going into temporary closure and another group of business establishments resorting to flexible work arrangement,” Bello reported during a May 20 Senate hearing.
The most affected is the service sector which includes tourism, hotels, and restaurants.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, in the same hearing, reported a decline in tourist arrivals in the Philippines by 54 percent from January to April this year compared with the same period in 2019.
This resulted in a reduction of 55 percent in tourist arrival revenues during the same period.
“With both international and domestic travel restriction in effect for the entirety of April, there have been no visiting tourists and therefore no revenue for the industry for this month,” Romulo-Puyat said.
To address the issue, the Labor and Tourism Departments are asking Congress for P40-billion and P70-billion budgets, respectively, to assist workers and related sectors in coping with the effects of the pandemic. MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.