Abante, ICC!

By Herbert Vego

IN a previous column, I parodied a Christmas carol to better watch out because, instead of Santa, “ICC is coming to town.” I predicted that the long-pending House Resolution No. 1393 filed by Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers) and others within the so-called Makabayan bloc to probe violations by former President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte would eventually end up at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands.

But there’s more. It’s the newly-filed House Resolution No. 1477 authored by Rep. Bienvenido Abante (NUP, Manila’s 6th District) and 1-Rider Rep, Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez (1-Rider party-list), urging the government “to extend their full cooperation to the ICC Prosecutor with respect to its investigation of any alleged crime within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

Take note that both congressmen had not criticized Duterte in the past.  In fact, the National Unity Party (NUP) is a known ally of the former president’s PDP-Laban.

Now, a more bitter pill for Duterte to swallow is the abrupt shrinkage of PDP-Laban membership at the House from 120 to “less than 10” within this month, according to Rep. Johnny Pimentel (2nd Dist., Surigao del Sur) in a TV interview days after his resignation from the party.

I intuitively feel that Speaker Martin Romualdez (Lakas-CMD) is behind the break-up of the majority’s alliance with the Dutertes on the pretext that the elder Duterte had maligned the House as “the most corrupt government institution.”

But how could that be? President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has repeatedly said, “We will not cooperate with the ICC.”

Well, blood is thicker than water. Romualdez, his first cousin, is rumored to be aspiring to run for President in 2028 – just like the former President’s daughter, Vice-President Sara Duterte.

An ICC “intervention” is expected to incriminate the Dutertes over extrajudicial killings done by the police during his terms as mayor of Davao City and as President of the Philippines. If he were not the man behind all those killings of 6,000 souls as admitted by the police or more or less 30,000 as alleged by human rights groups, should he not welcome the ICC probe which would clear his name?

Former Senator Leila de Lima (freed on bail), jailed for almost seven years on trumped-up charges for protecting drug lords, now stands out as the most credible witness against Duterte. It was during her time as Secretary of Justice that she saw for herself the “killing fields” of Davao.

Needless to say, an ICC trial would likewise de-popularize Digong’s daughter, which would be beneficial to presumed 2028 presidential candidate Romualdez.

Lesson learned: Walang forever sa power.



THE recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of Iloilo City as “the gastronomy destination in the Philippines” has put Ilonggo cuisine on the global culinary map alongside other international gastronomic giants.

According to Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, Iloilo City is now among the 350 cities in the world listed on the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in the fields of crafts and folk arts, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media, arts, and music. This recognition has no doubt attracted tourists, entrepreneurs and migrants to come and experience the city for themselves.

“Iloilo City has been known as the City of Love,” wrote John Noel E. Herrera of the Philippine Information Agency, “because of the hospitable and soft-spoken Ilonggos who give much importance to the preservation and promotion of their unique culture and tradition, including their culinary heritage.”

“I agree,” this from Ms. Maricris de Guzman Cabalhin, one of the vice-presidents of MORE Electric and Power Corporation, Iloilo City’s power-distribution utility. The reason is because, in only three years, the company’s customers have leaped from 62,000 to 93,000 households and commercial establishments.

“This week,” Cabalhin said, “we are processing 800 new applicants for electrical connections.  They include condominium units that have mushroomed throughout the city.”

As to how MORE Power and other present-day industrial giants are shaping up the investment opportunities in Iloilo, let us hear it from Velma Lao, the executive director of the Iloilo City Investment Office. I will intervie her on the Aksyon Radyo program “Tribuna sang Banwa” (telecast live on Facebook) tomorrow (Sunday, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.).