My Observations: Crime Incidents in Parañaque Involving Chinese Nationals to Continue Even More?

A few weeks ago, I called Parañaque City a hot spot for criminal incidents involving foreigners from China. As far as South Metro Manila is concerned, Parañaque registered 140 crime incidents involving Chinese nationals versus 54 in Las Piñas City and 19 in Muntinlupa City as per the findings of Southern Police District (SPD).

Think about it. There were 213 crime incidents involving Chinese nationals in South Metro Manila and Parañaque (the city of BF Homes subdivision, Manila Memorial Park and those lavish casinos and hotels by the bay) got almost two-thirds of that.

The trend of such crime continues to happen in the said city as confirmed by the January 20, 2020 news report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The report was about a police raid on a sex den inside a budget hotel that resulted the apprehension of a Chinese national who allegedly managed the place and the rescue of several Chinese women who allegedly were forced into prostitution.

Below are notable excerpts from the report.

Excerpt 1: The alleged manager of the sex den, Cai Ye Gui, also from China, was arrested. He now faces charges for violation of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.

Excerpt 2: A tip from one of the victims’ clients led to the rescue of 11 Chinese women allegedly forced into prostitution inside one of the branches of a budget hotel chain in Parañaque City on Sunday.

Excerpt 3: The victims claimed they were promised jobs in the country, but ended up being forced into prostitution.

Excerpt 4: Similar to other sex dens raided by authorities, the business catered exclusively to Chinese nationals, especially to men working in Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) companies and their service providers. Bookings could be made through the WeChat app or in person.

So the prostitution joint was handled by a male Chinese national to cater to foreigners from China and their workers were ladies also from China who were promised jobs in the Philippines only to end up working as prostitutes against their will.

As for the app called WeChat, that is the most popular messaging app in China (according to CNBC) owned by Tencent (full corporate name Tencent Holdings Limited) which is a Chinese multinational conglomerate.

Based on the details of the Inquirer report, it seems that WeChat is used for communication and business for the raided sex den. This brings me to an excerpt from CNBC’s article…

Excerpt 1: One of the primary uses of WeChat is messaging. Just like WhatsApp, you have a list of conversations that you’re engaged in.

You can add people in a variety of ways.

When people exchange contact details in China, you often see one person scanning the other person’s phone. Each WeChat user has a unique barcode known as a QR code. One person can scan the other user’s QR code to add them to WeChat. You can also use a phone number or ID to add a person and search for people nearby.

WeChat is one of the main ways people communicate in China. Even when doing business, people prefer WeChat to email. It’s even more prevalent because services like Facebook are blocked here.

And here is a look at the commercial side of WeChat.

Excerpt 2: If you’re buying something online in China, there will be an option to purchase with WeChat Pay. You will need to put in a passcode or use a biometric authentication tool to authorize the transaction.

Instant money transfers to your WeChat contacts can also be made via the messaging function, which makes it easy to split bills or just move money around China. It is possible to be nearly cashless in China and actually go out for the day without a wallet.

If WeChat was actually used for payments (in addition to booking) for services at the sex den by Chinese users who are physically present here in the Philippine, how were they able to make it work locally? WeChat’s financial transaction feature was supposed to work only in China.

To say the least, the app made bookings convenient for Chinese nationals before visiting the illegal joint in Parañaque City. The name of the budget hotel (which had the sex den inside) was not revealed in the Inquirer report but it was described to be located near the corner of Quirino Avenue and NAIA Road.

As for the legal aspect of the latest Parañaque sex den raid involving Chinese nationals, the law enforcers and lawyers will have to figure out how to effectively apply the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 on the suspects and other violators.

If found guilty, the suspects will be penalized for twenty years imprisonment and a fine of P1 million to 2P million for the act of trafficking, 15 years imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P1 million for attempted trafficking, and life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million for qualified trafficking.

This latest crime makes Parañaque look bad and it is a fact that there are lots of Chinese nationals living and working in the said city.

Also let me add here the December 23, 2019 the city sisterhood agreement between Parañaque and the Chinese city of Anshan. On face value, the agreement looks like a pretty and promising way of the two cities becoming closer together. According to a Manila Standard report, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Parañaque and Anshan should “create opportunities for mutual growth, since both cities share similar environmental protection and tourism endeavors.”

There were other objectives that include “providing for better cooperation in conducting reciprocally planned and sanctioned programs geared towards the improvement of government administration, tourism, cultural preservation, environmental protection, education, technology, arts, and the holding of various endeavors mutually beneficial to both parties.”

What needs examining here is how many tourists from Anshan (a city of more than 3 million people) will come to Parañaque for tourism, how many of those same tourists will be setting up businesses locally, how many of them will take residence in the city, and are they all willing to follow the local and nationals laws at all.

What guarantee is there that Anshan tourists will not commit any crimes in Parañaque or anywhere else in the Philippines?

If there is anything that will prevent a city or a nation from prospering and becoming more competitive with others, it is crime. Other factors that will do the same include corruption, sinister propaganda, misuse of taxpayers’ money, sub-par public service and lack of financial discipline.

It is a sad truth that Parañaque is not too competitive with other Philippine cities and was not heralded for local governance. Now the city has a crime wave involving foreigners from China.

For those of you reading this who have genuine love for the country, start praying to the Lord that the crime wave will not harm Filipino families living inside the villages. Start reading the Holy Bible and apply its lessons on your life by heart.

Parañaque City a Hot Spot for Crimes Involving Chinese Nationals

If there is anything that defined the City of Parañaque lately, it’s not about city competitiveness (Parañaque failed again), not about economic breakthroughs and not even about achieving excellence on local governance (Parañaque was not declared a winner of the DILG’s 2019 Sea of Good Local Governance award).

Rather, it’s about crime turning rampant within the jurisdiction of Parañaque, more specifically the high number of crimes involving Chinese nationals.

According to a December 27, 2019 Philippine Star report, Parañaque has the 3rd highest number of crimes involving Chinese nationals among the southern cities of Metro Manila. The number is 140 crime incidents recorded as per the statistics of the Southern Police District (SPD) as of December 25, 2019. Ahead of Parañaque were Pasay City (201 crime incidents) and Makati City (163 crime incidents).

Specifically on South Metro Manila, Las Piñas City had 54 crime incidents while Muntinlupa City had 19 crime incidents. Combine those numbers with Parañaque’s 140 crime incidents, then that’s a total of 213 crime incidents for South Metro Manila.

You must be wondering why is it that the city that is home to a significant portion of BF Homes subdivision attracted a great majority of of the 213 crime incidents involving Chinese nationals for South Metro Manila?

For one thing, there is a high number of Chinese nationals who took residence in Parañaque and got involved in the local commerce. Speaking of commerce, a lot of these POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) opened up and operated within the city. The City Government recently considered filing charges against the owners of buildings housing Chinese nationals who are working at these POGOs. The housing of many Chinese nationals caused a social disruption in the community of Multinational Village  for the past two years. This caused Multinational residents to write letters of complaints regarding diminishing water supply, power transformer blowouts, eroded roads and rising security risks that allegedly were connected with the Chinese nationals residing in their local community as well as the construction of new POGO housing facilities.

By the way, there are casinos and hotels operating in the Entertainment City which is within the jurisdiction of Parañaque. Those facilities are known to attract a lot of Chinese nationals along with other foreigners.

Focusing more on crimes involving foreigners from China, there was a prostitution raid in Parañaque this past September.

Here’s an excerpt from the CNN Philippines report:

The raid in Diamond Tower in Baclaran also led to the arrest of 13 alleged den maintainers or recruiters of sex workers, nine of whom are male and four who are women, plus 18 male Chinese customers.

And then there was the Chinese affair involving kidnapping that also took place in Parañaque. Here’s an excerpt from the report of Business Mirror:

The Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) rescued a Chinese national and arrested two kidnapping suspects during a police operation in Parañaque City.

PNP-AKG Director Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo identified the victim as tourist Wang Hong, alias Lee, 29, married, native of Chongqing, China, and who is temporarily residing at Strata Gold Condominium, Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila.

The suspects, on the other hand, were identified as Wan Rehong, 32, native of Qingshanhu District, Nanchang City, China, and Wan Liang, 36, native of Jiangxi, China. Both suspects are tourists.

Estomo said that in the sworn statement of Wang, the victim went to Solaire Resort and Casino on December 4 and gambled. When he lost all his money, a group of Chinese men offered him a loan of P1 million, which he accepted.

The group lent him another P1 million as capital, but he lost again, prompting the group to take the key of the car that he borrowed from a friend and asked him to go with the suspects.

The two suspects took him to Okada Hotel and Casino, and while inside a room, they forced him to make a letter stating that he borrowed from them P2 million and forced him to sign the letter.

On December 8, at around 2 p.m., Wang and the two suspects boarded a taxi wherein he managed to send a message to a friend that they are billeted at Room 505 of Baymont Hotel in Parañaque City.

While inside the room, the kidnappers instructed him to ask money from his family or friends for him to pay the P2 million because, if not, “they will kill him and be thrown at cemetery.”

The victim’s friend notified the PNP-AKG about the incident that prompted operatives to launch a rescue operation which resulted in the arrest the two suspects.

As mentioned earlier, Parañaque City is a hot spot of crime incidents involving Chinese nationals and clearly this is bad. Nobody wants to live in a city with rampant crime (kidnapping, extortion, prostitution and the like) nor does anyone want to see their community turn bad because a lot of foreigners from China working in POGOs were allowed to take residence.

The hot questions to ask here:

1) Is the City Government really tough against crime in general?

2) Are POGOs and other businesses that target Chinese nationals as employees and consumers too tempting for the City Government to reject and were allowed to be part of the local economy and communities?

3) Were the business permit applications of those POGOs and businesses targeting Chinese nationals carefully reviewed by the Parañaque Business Permit & Licensing Office (BPLO) before being approved?

4) Are there any police officers in Parañaque who accepted bribes from Chinese nationals and the POGOs to look the other way and let them do their illegal activities?

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments.

 

 

 

 

Senior Citizen Files Complaint Versus BF Homes Food Joint Over Refusal To Give Him Mandated 12% VAT Exemption (UPDATED: August 24, 2019)

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Prominently displayed along Aguirre Avenue inside BF Homes subdivision, Parañaque City is this sign emphasizing Philippine senior citizens’ entitlement to 20% discount and exemption from 12% value-added tax.

Are you a senior citizen whose benefit under the national law was denied by a local business? Are you aware of the benefits for senior citizens under Republic Act Number 9994 (Full title: An Act Granting Additional Benefits and Privileges to Senior Citizens, further amending Republic Act No. 7432, As Amended, Otherwise Known As “an Act To Maximize The Contribution Of Senior Citizens To Nation Building, Grant Benefits And Special Privileges And For Other Purposes. Short title: Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010) whenever you purchase food and/or beverage in a restaurant?

Why did I ask you these questions and mentioned RA 9994? It’s quite simple – a senior citizen in BF Homes, Parañaque City filed a formal complaint against a certain food joint which refused to grant him his exemption from the 12% Value-Added Tax (VAT) when he dined at the said joint.

Here is the story with details from documents I acquired.

On June 10, 2019, Jose Luis Matti and his daughter dined at a restaurant (clue: a burger joint whose business name will be revealed in due time) along Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes subdivision, Parañaque City. He ordered food and drinks and, under law, the discounts are limited only to food and drinks he ordered for his consumption as he is a senior citizen

The problem was that, according to Matti, the restaurant applied the 20% discount for senior citizens and yet denied him his mandated benefit of exemption from the VAT. In his June 17, 2019 letter addressed to restaurant’s owner, Matti said that the restaurant personnel he encountered on June 10 claimed they were instructed (by the owner) not to give him the 12% VAT exemption. Photocopies of the receipts were included on the said letter.

As a result, Matti filed a formal complaint against the restaurant at the Office of Senior Citizen Affairs of Parañaque City (OSCA-Parañaque) urging officer-in-charge Dante Pacheco to take action against the food joint (as per his July 12, 2019 letter to Pacheco received by the said office).

A hearing between Matti and the food joint’s owner will happen very soon at OSCA’s office at Parañaque City Hall.

I visited the restaurant along Aguirre Avenue inside BF Homes to try to meet the owner and get feedback directly from him but the personnel told me over the counter that their boss was out of town.

Understanding the legal aspect

It is stated under RA 9994 (Rule IV, Article 7) that senior citizens shall be entitled to the grant of twenty percent (20%) discount and to an exemption from the value-added tax (VAT), IF APPLICABLE, on the sale of the goods and services covered by Section 1 to 6 of this Article, from all establishments for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of senior citizens.

Section 3 (Rule IV, Article 7) includes restaurants, hotels, recreational centers, places of leisures and funeral services with regards to the above mentioned 20% discount and VAT exemption.

Item b (under Section 3, Rule IV, Article 7) focuses on restaurants. It states that the discount shall be for the purchase of food, drinks, dessert, and other consumable items served by the establishments offered for the consumption of the general public.

Item c states for Dine-in services under paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 3, and Section 4, paragraph 2 of Article 7, the privilege must be personally availed of by the senior citizen as defined under these Rules, and no proxies or authorization in favor of another person who is not a senior citizen will be honored.

Item e states Food, drinks and other consumable items provided in Section 3 (a) and (b), and Section 4, paragraph 2 of Article 7 purchased by the senior citizen shall be processed separately as an independent transaction from his/her non-eligible companions to ensure that it is his/her exclusive consumption and to enable computation of the 20% discount and the exemption from the Value Added Tax (VAT), which only the senior citizen is entitled to.

However, if the group of diners is composed entirely of senior citizens, all of whom present valid senior citizens IDs, each shall be entitled to a 20% discount and exemption from Value Added Tax.

Conclusion

This is an ongoing community development and if any breakthroughs happen, an update will be posted.

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UPDATE!

The hearing between Mr. Matti and the restaurant at the Office of Senior Citizen Affairs of Parañaque City (OSCA-Parañaque) at City Hall scheduled for August 20, 2019 did not push through due to the absence of the restaurant owner.

As such, the hearing will have to be rescheduled.

The restaurant accused in this conflict is Big Brat Burger.

 

 

Las Piñas City Mayor Warns Barangay Leaders About Failure To Clear Their Areas of Obstructions

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The many heads of the barangays in the meeting spearheaded by Las Piñas City Mayor Imelda “Mel” Aguilar (facing them from the background). (photo credit: Shawnette Ramos)

Recently the City of Las Piñas made waves in the national news. This was because Mayor Imelda “Mel” Aguilar issued a warning to the leaders of twenty barangays of extreme consequence if they fail to clear the respective areas of obstructions and structures that are illegal.

During a meeting held on August 1, the mayor met with the barangay chairpersons from the city’s two districts and laid down the City Government’s plan action to rid all roads and sidewalks of illegal vendors, illegally parked vehicles and overlapping structures, including those unfinished excavations by various service utilities.

“You will be accountable to me if you fail to implement the rules that endanger the lives of our fellow Las Piñero,” Mayor Aguilar told the barangay leaders.

Along with the other Metro Manila city mayors, Mayor Aguilar committed to the 60-day period given by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año to clear the metro roads of obstructions.

But prior to the DILG directive, the mayor already convened Task Force Kaayusan last month which immediately conducted clearing operations in the city to address concerns on traffic and road hazards. The task force is composed of the Estate Management and Development Office (EMDO), City Engineering Office, the local Philippine National Police, the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO), and spearheaded by the Mayor’s Office.

“These obstructions must be permanently rid from our main road, which is the Alabang-Zapote Road, as well as the inner roads must likewise be cleared of any obstacles. Let us give back the sidewalks to the pedestrians and the roads to motorists,” the mayor said.

She also requested the City Council, through Vice Mayor April Aguilar-Nery (the mayor’s daughter), to review the existing ordinances on obstruction and public order and safety.

Overall these developments reflect the City Government of Las Piñas response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) that public roads used for private ends should be reclaimed. Duterte also ordered DILG Secretary Año to suspend mayors or governors who refuse to comply.

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A Look Back At The Night Man #1

“I’m not who I was any more! I’m not who I’m going to be! I am the Night Man.”

The above words were from the vigilante called the Night Man, a character co-created by comic industry veteran Steve Englehart (Avengers) and Darick Robertson for Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse franchise. Those words formally opened The Night Man #1 which I’m reviewing here.

To put things in perspective, a vigilante is described as a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate) according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. To put it broadly, the vigilante is a self-appointed doer of justice.

 

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The Night Man #1 cover.

Published in 1993 by Malibu Comics, The Night Man #1 tells the story of Johnny Domingo, a jazz player whose life changed in the pages of The Strangers #1 (also written by Englehart) in which he (while driving a vehicle) got by a cable car (that was just hit by an energy burst from the sky) resulting a piece of shrapnel embedding into his head.

Perceived by others to be doomed, Domino strangely survived and was well enough to resume his normal life. The difference is that the incident made his eyes dilated permanently which forces him to shield them from bright light.

Just as Johnny walks down the street, he learned he gained an uncanny ability when he hears, for the first time, the evil thoughts of a man (wearing a coat and a hat) planning to kill a lady on Saturday night.

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The Night Man in action!

Knowing what heard, Johnny wondered if he was crazy and what if some woman would truly be in danger. He then decides to follow the man with evil thoughts and watch his moves. Eventually Johnny followed the man to a restaurant by the beach and saw him talk with a pretty waitress named Ginger who agreed to a Saturday night date.

Carelessly Johnny approached the man too closely and got noticed, forcing him to run away and got chased until he got into a taxi that drove him away.

A short time later, Johnny starts his new career as a vigilante as the Night Man.

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In terms of storytelling, The Night Man #1 was nicely paced and never felt dragging. Within its twenty-eight pages of story, the comic book took gradual steps on introducing Johnny, how the incident with the cable car impacted him, how he became a vigilante for the first time and what went on in his mind as he became the Night Man. Given his rich experience as a writer, it is no surprise that Steve Englehart delivered a solid script.

It was also engaging to see Night Man being a determined yet very vulnerable vigilante. During his first mission in costume, he managed to beat a few bad guys but ended up getting hurt. This kinda reminds me of the vulnerability seen in the cinematic icon John McClane in 1988’s Die Hard.

The art by Darick Robertson, with ink work done by Andrew Pepoy, was nicely crafted. The civilian and vigilante looks of Night Man were well defined. The visualization of action nice and when Night Man gets hurt, he really looks in pain.

Going beyond Night Man, this comic book has a short preview (five pages, including credits) of Rune, a character created by Barry Windsor-Smith. Rune is described to be a voracious killer whose prey is all humanity and he is an alien leech who despoils the flesh of victims, culling their lifeblood into the essence of power. Rune is also a dying creature fighting for survival against the malignant disease burning inside of him.

Overall, The Night Man #1 is a worthy addition to your comic collection if you are interested in the Ultraverse (which is still kept in limbo by Marvel which acquired Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s) or are interested in vigilante-type superheroes. If you are obsessed with whatever Barry Windsor-Smith created, then the Rune stuff is a must-get.

The Night Man #1 is recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

Taking a Vacation? Beware of Scammers and Non-Accredited Travel Businesses

It sure is nice to go out on holiday so that you can enjoy something nice and relieve yourself of the stress you accumulated from regular work.

But what if your hard-earned money goes to waste or, even worse, gets stolen by someone with criminal intentions?

Yesterday the Department of Tourism (DOT) here in the Philippines warned the public about making transactions with non-accredited entities engaged in travel and tours, airline ticketing and other travel businesses.

This was in response to reports they received about the proliferation of the non-accredited entities that posted advertisements on the different social media platforms or airline ticketing, travel and tours arrangement, hotel booking, and training offerings for travel business management.

“The public is hereby warned to be vigilant in dealing with these entities as there can be no guarantee on the reliability and legitimacy of their products and services,” the DOT said in its statement.

This development by the DOT is timely. Just days ago, there was this TV news report about a lady who got victimized by another lady who turned out to be a fake travel agent.

She paid a lot of money to the scammer for a Hong Kong vacation with her kids. As the scammer contacted her telling her to deposit thousands of pesos more for the vacation due to a “price increase”. The victim became suspicious and she went to the local authorities. Afterwards a personal meeting between the two happened in Las Pinas City and eventually the scammer got arrested.

You can watch the Tagalog language TV news video below.

Going back to the Department of Tourism, they said there are only select training centers that accredited to offer courses on putting up travel agencies and other tourism-related services. All travel agencies/ tour operators, including online bookings, are covered under the DOT Accreditation Law requiring accreditation before issuance of business permits, it stressed.

The DOT stated that entities with valid and existing accreditation with them have informative websites and/or online pages bearing the DOT’s Quality Seal and their corresponding Accreditation Number with validity.

For a complete list of DOT-accredited enterprises, the public are encouraged to visit the DOT’s website.

The lesson here is that you should not allow yourself to be fooled and tempted by those attractive holiday ads on social media as well as those transmitted via email or snail mail.

Always ask yourself if the seller is accredited by the DOT. Don’t forget to do a background check on the travel package and services seller.

Remember to be cautious and analyze the situation carefully before you proceed to book a vacation or avail any travel-related service. There are lots of scammers online and they are already making things hard not only for customers but also for the legitimate travel businesses.

My Observations: Orient Cable told by Optic Media Board to Explain Piracy of Avengers: Endgame

Orient Cable has been ordered by the Optic Media Board or OMB (the national government’s arm on regulating the production, use and distribution of recording media) to explain to them why they should not be charged over the piracy of the mega blockbuster film Avengers: Endgame.

According to a report by Philippines News Agency (PNA), a “show-cause order” was served by the regulator to the Dipolog City-based company on May 6. The action was the result of a formal complaint issued by Teatro de Dapitan, a movie house that was authorized to show Avengers: Endgame to paying customers.

Atty. Hywel Vergara of the OMB’s legal division was assisted by police officers when the order was served to Orient Cable. It was reported that the company’s officials were reluctant to receive the order.

“With it is an order for the owners (of Orient Cable) to attend hearings at OMB in Manila on May 7 and 14,” said Vergara, referring to the show-cause directive.

For his part, OMB Chairman Ansel Adriano warned establishments and individuals to respect the intellectual rights of the film industry, especially local productions.

The movie opened around the Philippines on April 24 along with many other countries that same day. There were people who claimed to have seen the illegal airing of Avengers: Endgame on April 25 through Orient Cable. Subsequently Teatro de Dapitan complained to the local police the same day the airing happened.

As of this writing, the management of the cable firm is still silent over the issue.

Whatever questions the OMB has for them, it would be nice for the cable TV operator to answer the following questions:

  1. Who within Orient Cable had the capability (or connections) of getting a pirated copy of the movie and make adjustments to show it publicly?
  2. Where did the pirated copy come from?
  3. What could the company gain from showing Avengers: Endgame in pirated form?
  4. How is the financial health of Orient Cable and just how many paid subscribers do they have now?

Check out my review of Avengers: Endgame here.