Saved You A Google: Tito Sotto is Senate President, CJ Sereno’s been ousted, Boracay’s in dire straits

You are not alone. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of bad news after another, like sitting beside the farty kid in class with the room closing in on you. Young STAR’s fact-finding commission sifts through the shit creek we are mined in right now to bring you a TL;DR version of: WTF IS GOING ON!?

Tito Sotto is voted Senate President and it’s the stuff of our nightmares

Plagiarizer extraordinaire and human punchline Vicente “Tito” Sotto was elected by 14 Senators as Senate President last May 21, 2018, after Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel stepped down from the role. As to why this shift was necessary, nobody really knows. As far as the general public is concerned, this was unprecedented.

[READ: An open letter to Tito Sotto]

The Senate President (SP) position is important because he or she acts as the Chief Executive of the Senate. Thus the SP will sign all the bills that will eventually become laws. So yes, this means: goodbye RH bill implementation, goodbye divorce bill, goodbye same-sex marriage. Goodbye to any semblance of progression or hope we’ve held on to. Hello, Medieval Ages.

This is an interesting development because the Senate is seen as one of the last strongholds against our Dear Leader, at least compared to the Congress. And apart from being the final boss of the Senate, the SP is the third most powerful person in the country after the President and the Vice President. He becomes the Vice President once the President is impeached. Don’t believe me? Check the consti. And please wake me up when it’s all over.

Battle Royale: Supreme Court VS CJ Sereno

Speaking of the independent branches of government going up in smoke — the Supreme Court ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice on May 11, 2018. This topic is a can of worms, so what we’ll do is untangle every specific… worm. There’s a myriad of worms on this case, but we’ll focus on the most important ones right now:

Worm #1: Officials like the Chief Justice can only be removed by impeachment.

Only the two houses yield the power to impeach: the House of Representatives, and the Senate. (To learn more about impeachment, check out this Impeachment primer from the Government’s website)

Worm #2: So how was CJ Sereno ousted? By the Supreme Court?

Two words: quo warranto.

A quo warranto is a legal action that challenges a person’s right to hold a position in the government. (See: Rule 66 of the Rules of Civil Procedure) On May 11, the SC granted the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida last March 5. In doing so, they cut short her 18-year term and sent us into a constitutional crisis.

Worm #3: A constitutional whatta?

This is major because essentially, the Supreme Court went against the constitution by letting a Rule take precedence above the constitution. The constitution that our country formed in 1987 to protect itself from another Martial Law. The very constitution that mandates the separation of state powers into three — executive, legislative, and judiciary.

Worm #4: So what’s next?

Members of the Senate are signing an appeal to the SC’s decision on the quo warranto. Oh wait, who’s the Senate President again?!

Boracay under construction.. .by the Villars?!

Boracay was closed for rehabilitation last April 26, 2018. Last February, President Duterte called the paradise island a “cesspool” because of problems with untreated wastewater from the sewage system. However, murmurs have always surrounded this controversial closure, with accusations of Chinese businessmen setting their sights on building a casino-resort in Boracay. (“To build or not to build: Contradictory statements on Boracay casino plan”)

Last week, however, concerned residents uploaded videos of a mountain being flattened in a Boracay village. There are no clear indications, however, that the video was taken in Boracay indeed, nor has the exact location been definitively ID’d by the government nor by the locals or the media. The property has been tagged as Costa Vista, a local luxury development on the island by the Villars’ Vista Land.

Senator Cynthia Villar, wife of former Senator Manny Villar and chairman of Vista Land & Landscapes Inc, has said that her duty to the nation is primary, and that “above and separate from my family’s business interests.” Do I need to mention that she’s the wealthiest senator right now? In an email, Vista Land chief legal counsel Ma. Nalen Rosero clarified that the photos and videos are not in the Costa Vista Boracay property.

Who the f*ck is Cesar Montano?: the Buhay Carinderia Fiasco

This next bit of news is significant because of what it means for the Filipino food scene here and abroad. At the heart of this issue is the Madrid Fusion (or ConFusion, as columnist Boo Chanco pointed out), which is an annual festival attended by acclaimed chefs from around the globe.

In April reports of the annual Madrid Fusion not happening abound, and it was finally confirmed by Cesar Montano himself, former action star and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Tourism and Promotions Board (TPB). The Spanish food festival, touted as one of the most important gastronomic events all over the world, coming to our shores, has elevated the status of our local chefs and cuisine.   

In place of Madrid Fusion was “Buhay Carinderia,” a culinary event that was decidedly more low-key than its predecessor. Eventually the event folded because of corruption allegations against Montano by TPB employees. Funnily, Wanda Teo, the former tourism head, resigned earlier this month because of another controversy. Truly, It’s More Fun in the Philippines.

…Accomplished biracial actress marries British soldier in a London Wedding

NBD. On May 19, GMT+8, Meghan Markle, an American actress of SUITS fame, married Prince Harry. The ceremony is hailed as transformative, progressive, and #blessed. A new era has dawned, they say. Meghan Markle, a 37 year-old half-black divorcée who’s vocally feminist, a descendant of slaves from the plantations of the American South, wed who is essentially a living fossil of the archaic British monarchy.

Did you hear they met on a blind date set up by friends? Anyway, as I tried hard not to get kilig, I remembered that the British public paid for that ceremony. Thought I’d end on a light note? Nah.

#culture #politics #travel

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