#ThewRap: Things you need to know, May 12, 2017

Hello! Here are the stories you shouldn't miss this Friday.










Hello, Rappler readers!

The Philippines' justice department, aside from wanting to turn alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles as state witness, trains its eyes on Aquino administration budget secretary Butch Abad in its reinvestigation of the multi-billion-peso scam. Another blow to the former ruling Liberal Party are latest survey results showing a significant drop in the trust ratings of Vice President Leni Robredo. Meanwhile, Martial Law victims receive the first tranche of their compensation, and Rappler explains how their sufferings have been reduced to a point system.

In the US, despite the sacking of the FBI chief, 6 top intelligence officers tell the Senate they are convinced Russia interfered in the 2016 election that made Donald Trump president. In PH, the outgoing central bank chief maintains policy rates and inflation forecasts. In Sports, defending champion Gilas Pilipinas is closely watching 3 rival teams in the SEABA Championships.

Here are the big stories in the Philippines and around the world you shouldn't miss.

Ex-budget chief Butch Abad is target of pork barrel scam probe

When the Department of Justice reopens the investigation into the pork barrel scam, it will have its eye on the "instigator" of the whole scheme that used fake non-governmental organizations to earn from lawmakers' discretionary funds. Alluding to former Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday, May 11, suggested there is a possibility that Napoles may not be the most guilty in the whole scheme. "The one who instigated to commit the crime is more guilty than the principal. If you're the public official, and you influenced or instigated Mr B to commit plunder, the instigator is the more guilty," Aguirre said in Filipino. While Aguirre II is busy with many things about the Napoles pork barrel scam case, Rappler fact checks what exactly are his powers as DOJ chief.

Outgoing central bank gov sticks to forecasts, says inflation remains manageable

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr is not in a rush to tighten policy as inflation is seen to remain manageable. During his penultimate meeting, the outgoing chief maintained policy rates and inflation forecasts. With one more meeting left before he retires on July 2, Tetangco maintained policy rates at 3.5% for the overnight lending facility, 3% for the overnight reverse repurchase facility, and 2.5% for the overnight deposit facility. He added that the BSP also left the reserve requirement ratios unchanged at 20%. Tetangco said the decision was based on the Monetary Board's assessment that inflation would remain manageable and fall within the 2%-4% percent target.

Trust rating of Vice President Robredo significantly lower in March – SWS

The latest trust rating of Vice President Leni Robredo remains "good" but it is significantly lower than her previous ratings, according to a new Social Weather Stations survey. The survey – conducted from March 25 to 28 among 1,200 adult Filipinos nationwide – found that 55% of Filipinos have "much trust" in Robredo; 25%, "little trust," some 20%, undecided. This gives Robredo a trust rating of +30. The Vice President's recent rating is 15 points below the +45 trust rating she had in December 2016. Around the time of the survey period, Robredo was dealing with impeachment threats and criticism over her video message on the drug war, which was shown at a non-governmental organization's event in Vienna, Austria. In a separate SWS survey also conducted in March, the Vice President's net satisfaction rating dropped as well – from a +37 net satisfaction rating in December, it slid to +26.

How are compensations for Martial Law victims computed?

Victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos received their first tranche of compensation last Monday, May 8. In the coming weeks, more Martial Law victims from the initial list of 4,000 approved claimants will receive the funds due them. Rappler explains how much each victim will receive based on the point system specified under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act.

Top US intelligence officials reiterates: Russia meddled in US polls

Six top United States intelligence officials told Congress Thursday, May 11, they agree with the conclusion that Russia acted to influence the 2016 election, countering President Donald Trump’s assertions that the hacking remains an open question. They included Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA director Mike Pompeo, and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, newly installed after Trump fired the agency's chief James Comey this week. Coats told the panel: “We assess that Russia is likely to be more aggressive in foreign global affairs, more unpredictable in its approach to the United States, and more authoritarian in its approach to domestic policies and politics.” In the same hearing, McCabe said: “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date…. You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing. All of the agents involved in the investigation are still in their positions.”

3 teams that Gilas has to watch out for in SEABA finals

Despite being favorites to win the title, the Gilas Pilipinas squad refuse to take things for granted as they prepare for battle in the 2017 SEABA Championships starting Friday, May 12. The Philippine team, which has won 7 of the past 11 tournament editions it has participated in, is fielding in a mix of youngsters and veterans from the PBA. While the country has previously locked in several blowout victories with collegiate standouts leading the way, the SEABA 12 won’t be relaxing anytime soon as they aim to stay undefeated in this year’s contest. Assistant coach Jong Uichico eyes at least 3 teams to potentially watch out for come the tourney itself: Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore.

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