It wasn’t a stormy Christmas for Cebu City
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2019 - 12:00am

Despite all the media warnings of Typhoon “Ursula” following the path of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” six years earlier, Cebuanos prepared for the worst… after all, it has been six long years since a typhoon threatened Cebu. So Tuesday, Christmas Eve came and the total surprise to us was, it was a full Sunny day that most people said was the calm before the storm.

It did rain as we went to mass in the Cebu Country Club social hall officiated by Fr. Ernesto Javier. But it wasn’t a very strong rain and no strong winds were observed. Then today as we woke up on Christmas Day, there was no rain or strong winds at all…the weather was balmy but not stormy. Of course we prayed for better weather, but somehow we had our answered prayers for Christmas Day itself. To God be the glory!

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While this may be the last week of December, however the last column for the year 2019 is going to be on Dec. 31, on New Year’s Eve. At this point, I would just like to enumerate the famous happenings in the Philippines for the year 2019 that made the national headlines and allow me to start with the very recent conviction of eight members of the Ampatuan clan who were found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in prison for the murder of 57 people in Maguindanao ten years ago.

Among those convicted were Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan and Datu Anwar Sr. – sons of the late former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. who prosecution witnesses said masterminded the crime. Another son of Andal Sr., Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, was acquitted, with three other relatives. Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes announced the verdict last Thursday, more than 10 years after the mass killing. Judge Solis-Reyes’ 761-page decision, which was read in court, said the prosecution was able to “establish the guilt beyond reasonable doubt” of 28 accused “who are found to have acted as principal.”  Thus justice has been served in the lower court and we expect it to be brought to the Appellate Court and finally in the Supreme Court.

Then last February, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for cyber libel upon orders from Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46. She posted bail the next day. Ressa claimed that her right to due process was violated, since she was not informed of the complaint against her. She also described her arrest as an “abuse of power” and “weaponization of the law.”  

That Maria Ressa tells Bill Whitaker that the environment is worse than being in a war zone in an interview for the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 10, on CBS was the worst “fake news” she ever peddled. Worst, US Senators took her word without checking its veracity. Meanwhile, the libel complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng regarding a Rappler article published in May 2012 (updated in February 2014) where Keng was alleged to have lent a vehicle to Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was undergoing an impeachment trial at the time continues.

Then last March Christine Silawan, a 16-year-old high school student and church collector, was found dead in a vacant lot in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Half of her face was skinned to the skull and her body had multiple stab wounds. She was also naked from the waist down and possibly raped. An autopsy also revealed that her tongue, trachea, esophagus, parts of her neck, and her right ear were missing. The killing has elicited controversy and political debate over the proposed reinstatement of death penalty as a punishment for heinous crimes. Normally criminal incidents rarely make the national news. But the case of Christine Silawan became a national headline. This crime was considered solved when suspect Renato “Renren” Llenes admitted his crime as he was haunted by his conscience.

Perhaps one of the biggest news we got was in the aftermath of the May 2019 Mid-Term elections where Commission on Elections sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), proclaimed 12 winning senators in the midterm elections. As we all know too well in Philippine elections, it is also our way to find out if the present President has retained his popularity and the results of this elections is testimony that Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has remained strong where not a single candidate in the political opponents belonging to Liberal Party (LP) gained a Senate seat.

In Cebu Province, we saw the return to power of Governor Gwen F. Garcia and the second time that then Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña lost in his bid to win the Mayorship of Cebu City. He lost to Mayor Edgardo Labella and Vice-Mayor Michael Rama. It was almost the same all over the Philippine countryside, thus giving Pres. Duterte a strong mandate. When he waged war with the Yellowtards and won a decisive victory!

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