Today's Headlines in the Philippines

Marc SuselbeckAFP rejects Sueselbeck's apology, still wants him deported
MANILA, Philippines - The military still wants the German fiancé of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude banned from the Philippines even if he has apologized for trying to enter a restricted area in Camp Aguinaldo. Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said Laude’s boyfriend Marc Suselbeck has “assaulted the dignity” of the country. “I want him to be deported and be declared an undesirable alien,” Catapang said in a statement read by Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc on Friday. “He (Suselbeck) assaulted not only a Filipino soldier but also the dignity of the country as a whole,” Catapang added. If the Bureau of Immigration declares Suselbeck as an undesirable alien, he will be barred from returning to the country.

House deliberations on Bangsamoro constitutionality set
After soliciting the opinion of national defense and security officials last week, the Ad Hoc Committee in the House of Representatives is expected to hear the views of legal experts on the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) next. Committee chairman Rep. Rufus Rodriguez confirmed Saturday that former Supreme Court (SC) justices, deans of law and legal luminaries have been invited for the next round of panel hearings before Congress goes on recess again at month’s end. “We will continue hearings in the (HoR) on October 28 and 29 where we will be hearing on the Constitutionality of BBL from former Justices of the Supreme Court, law deans and legal luminaries,” Rodriguez said in a text message. The BBL was the result of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March 27.

Sorry, Diosdado, but pilots prefer the name "Clark"
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Why did the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) drop the name of the former president and revert to its original name, Clark International Airport? Bienvenido Manga, executive vice president and chief operations officer of Clark International Airport Corp., said yesterday during the Region 1 Tourism Convention here that they decided to retain the airport’s old name because pilots had difficulty articulating Diosdado Macapagal International Airport during flights.

Jejomar BinayJejomar Binay: the rich are out to get me
If his army of detractors are to be believed, he’s already several billion pesos away from his simple beginnings, but Vice President Jejomar Binay still thinks the rich are the enemy and are out to get him. In an interview with a Pagadian City radio station here on Friday, Binay said Oplan Nognog 2016, allegedly concocted to remove him from contention in the 2016 presidential election, was actually a “political” war being waged by the rich against the poor of this country. “The rich do not want people who come from poor families to rise to the highest position in the country,” he said. In the Pagadian radio interview, Binay said he had no need to expound on what the word nognog meant as the Filipino people knew it was a derisive term for dark or small people.

Palace: US payment for Tubbataha damage in documentation stage
The agreement by the United States to pay an P87-million fine for the damage caused by the minesweeper USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef in 2013 is in the documentation stage, Malacañang said Saturday. Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Palace is waiting for the finalization of the arrangements. “Batay sa pahayag ng Department of Foreign Affairs, ni Sec. (Albert) del Rosario, nasa documentation stage na itong pakikipag-ugnayan ng dalawang bansa hinggil sa danyos,” he said on government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Tobacco firm accused of ‘systemic fraud’
The local arm of the manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes Friday accused its fiercest competitor, of “systematic and endemic fraud” over alleged non-payments of duties on the tobacco leaf and filters that the latter imports. In a press conference, PMFTC president Paul Riley said that during last Wednesday’s hearing of the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program held at the Senate, a Senate Tax Study and Research Office (STSRO) study showed that Mighty had been allegedly “using imported materials to make cigarettes for export but diverting them to the domestic market without paying duties and taxes.” “In the STSRO report, it was noted that 99 percent of Mighty’s importation of tobacco leaf and cigarette filter materials were declared for use in the manufacture of cigarettes for export only and virtually none for domestic use. Yet the company itself admitted to exporting only 1.5 percent of its total production,” PMFTC said in a statement.

Philip GoldbergNo shore leave for aircraft carrier sailors
Amid the furor over the death of transgender Jeffrey Laude, some 5,500 American troops aboard aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) were not allowed to get off the vessel when it made short port visit this week. The nuclear warship, widely referred to as a city at sea, dropped anchor in Manila Bay Thursday, but quickly left around 6:00 a.m. the next day, Friday. “It was a short visit,” US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said during a roundtable discussion with select reporters, including the Manila Bulletin. “They did few exercises here with the Philippine Navy and we decided, out of respect really for sentiment in the Philippines not to have liberty for the crew on this visit,” he added.

China seen risking naval confrontation with Spratly claimants
MANILA, Philippines - China appears to be risking an open confrontation with Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan with its announcement of a plan to build air and naval bases on the reclaimed Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, Kalayaan island town Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. said yesterday. “Do you think Vietnam, as well as Taiwan and Malaysia, will just take it sitting down? These countries have occupied areas in the region that are very close to those that are being occupied and being reclaimed by China,” Bito-onon said. He said China is even eyeing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the area.

‘Ganda’ (‘Jennifer’ Laude) wanted to find himself in Olongapo
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – “Ganda” wanted to “find a place for herself.” And here – almost a decade after Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude left his home province of Leyte – is where he will spend the rest of eternity. More than a hundred relatives and friends of Laude joined the burial yesterday of the slain Filipino transgender at the Heritage Memorial Park in Olongapo City. Laude, 26, was brutally killed on Oct. 11, allegedly by US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton. He was found dead in the bathroom of a room in Celzone Lodge, his head pushed into the toilet.

Alan Peter CayetanoAlan Cayetano focus for 2016: Nursery, not Palace
Suddenly, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano isn’t too sure about running for President in 2016, no thanks in part to a steep drop in his voter preference ratings. If anything, the senator may have moved his focus from Malacañang to the nursery. Cayetano said he and his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, are working on having a baby. “In fact, our focus now is not the presidency, but to have a baby, I can tell you very honestly,” he said. Despite his high-profile role in the highly popular Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, Cayetano saw his ratings dip from 5 percent to 1 percent in the Pulse Asia September survey of voters’ preferences for potential presidential candidates in 2016. In that survey, Vice President Jejomar Binay, the target of corruption and ill-gotten wealth allegations, continued to lead the pack with 31 percent, though in a vastly diminished capacity.

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