The year 2015 may best be remembered for its “3Ps” – the Pope, Politics, and Pia. The year began with a visit in January by no less than Pope Francis. A series of political crises followed, set off by the deaths of 44 men from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Maguindanao, resulting in the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by Congress. Corruption allegations against presidential contender and Vice President Jejomar Binay and the “tanimbala” or bullet planting extortion scheme allegedly by Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) staff also hogged the headlines. Whether another aspirant, Senator Grace Poe, will continue her presidential run is a story that will carry over to 2016. Pia Wurtzbach became the third Miss Philippines to be crowned Miss Universe. Her victory not only brought back a sense of pride but of hope, especially to Filipinos devastated by Typhoons “Lando” and “Nona”.
With the national elections set in May 2016, all eyes are on the candidates for president — Grace Poe, Rodrigo Duterte, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Jejomar Binay, and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. Will the list of choices be the same come Election Day? Watch and wait.
The tanim-bala or bullet-planting and extortion schemes at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) topped the list of corruption scandals that rocked 2015. Vice President Jejomar Binay’s corruption and plunder charges when he was mayor of Makati City aren’t far behind as the allegations surfaced following his announcement of his presidential bid.
OFW Mary Jane Veloso was sentenced to death for drug possession in Indonesia, but her sentence was suspended pending an ongoing re-investigation of her case. Joselito Zapanta, an OFW from Saudi Arabia, however, was not as fortunate as he was hanged in late December for killing a Sudanese national. Jason Ivler, nephew of folk singer Freddie Aguilar, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing a motorist in a road rage incident. Domingo “Sandy” de Guzman III, the alleged mastermind in the death of race car driver Enzo Pastor, has been arrested and now awaits trial.
It wasn’t a very good year for the food and beverage industry, with the popular milk tea causing the death of two individuals and reports of food poisoning, including one from a fast-food chain which the company denied after. A long dry spell in the middle of 2015 threatened water supply although rains spawned by a series of weather disturbances refilled the dams.
Metro Manila commuters continue to endure the difficulty of taking the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) trains that have broken down every so often and in some instances endangered lives as the government seeks solutions. Meanwhile, car-booking apps like GrabCar and Uber have emerged as the alternative mode of transport for those who want to weave around metro traffic in comfort and style.