Rappler Newscast | April 10, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- The Sandiganbayan upholds the plea bargain deal signed in 2010 by former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Ombudsman.
- The Foreign Affairs department is processing the release of Liberal Party candidates held in Sandakan, Sabah.
- 12 Chinese fishermen are charged with poaching on Tubbataha reef.
Story 1: COURT UPHOLDS GARCIA PLEA BARGAIN DEAL
The Sandiganbayan affirms the plea bargain deal signed in February 2010 by retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman.
In April 2005, Garcia was charged with plunder for allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth while he was comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The bargain deal allowed Garcia, his wife and sons to walk away from plunder charges in exchange for his pleading guilty to lesser offenses of direct bribery and facilitating money laundering.
On May 9, 2011, the graft court approved the deal, saying it was satisfied with Garcia’s compliance by the turnover of assets amounting to P135.43 million.
Voting 4-1 on Wednesday, justices of the Sandiganbayan Special Second Division junks the petition of the Office of the Solicitor General.
In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan says: “Even before the Court ordered the accused to convey his properties to the government, it had already made the collective conclusion that the evidence offered by the prosecution was inefficient or inadequate to render a judgment of conviction for plunder.”
The deal triggered the resignation of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in 2011, days before the Senate was to start her impeachment trial.
The House of Representatives impeached her for hammering out an agreement that various sectors said betrayed public interest.
Story 2: LP BETS 'BILLETED' IN SANDAKAN SET TO BE RELEASED
The candidates and supporters of the Liberal Party held by Malaysian authorities in Sandakan, Sabah may be able to go back to the Philippines Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez says Malaysian authorities are processing the release of the 33 Filipinos who were brought to Sandakan after their boat was engulfed by strong waves on their way to a campaign sortie in an island in Tawi-Tawi.
President Benigno Aquino directs Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario to facilitate the release of the Filipinos.
An order for the release is given late Tuesday night.
Hernandez says, "The administrative procedure and the papers are now being handled for their actual release.”
The Filipinos are still in Sandakan but Hernandez says they don't know where they are -quote- "billeted."
Story 3: CHINESE POACHERS ARRIVE IN PUERTO PRINCESA, FACE CHARGES
Authorities file poaching charges against 12 Chinese nationals on board the boat that ran aground on Tubbataha Reef.
The Chinese fishermen arrive in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, on Wednesday on board the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Romblon.
The Tubbataha Management says the Chinese nationals violated Section 27 or Poaching by Foreigners of the Tubbataha Act of 2009.
Park management also say the poachers tried to bribe park rangers with $2,400 or about P99,000 when they reached the grounded vessel.
Story 4: AQUINO ON TUBBATAHA: NOT AGAIN
Reacting to news about a Chinese fishing boat running aground on Tubbataha Reef, President Benigno Aquino says: that's too much.
The incident occurs more than a week after salvage teams remove the USS Guardian from Tubbataha.
The US minesweeper was stuck for more than 10 weeks after it ran aground in January.
Aquino says in Filipino, "That’s too much! The Guardian incident just ended, and we have another one?"
He says the Chinese nationals will face charges under the Tubbataha Act of 2009.
Under the act, commercial fishers violating Section 19, or unauthorized entry, enjoyment or use of the Tubbataha reef face stiffer penalties: imprisonment of between one year to 3 years and a fine of P500,000.
Section 27 stipulates even heavier penalties if the individuals caught poaching are foreigners.
If found guilty, the Chinese fishers could face imprisonment of between 6 years and 1 day to 12 years and a fine of $100,000.
Story 5: COAST GUARD AND DOTC TO LEAD TUBBATAHA SALVAGE OPS
The Philippine Coast Guard and the transportation department will lead salvage operations of the Chinese vessel that ran aground on the Tubbataha reef.
PCG and DOTC will try to refloat the boat since the vessel is still intact and its hull and propeller were not damaged in the incident.
Philippine Coast Guard chief Rodolfo Isorena says the team plans to "lighten" the boat by removing some equipment on board.
The team will siphon 80,000 liters of fuel oil from the vessel.
Isorena says the damage caused by the 48-meter Chinese vessel is not expected to be as large as the damage caused by the USS Guardian.
Story 6: TEAM PNOY BETS TO DISCLOSE SALNs
Team PNoy candidates who are incumbent government officials are expected to make public their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth for 2012.
The SALN is a declaration of assets and liabilities required of government employees as part of transparency measures.
Team PNoy spokesman Miro Quimbo says, “The candidates should disclose since the president does regularly. After all, the candidates are part of Team PNoy so they should act like him.”
The last day for government officials and employees to submit their SALNs for 2012 is April 30.
Of the Team PNoy candidates, those who will need to submit SALNs for the year 2012 are senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel, and Sonny Trillanes; Aurora Rep Sonny Angara and former censors chief Grace Poe.
Aquino says SALN submission is equivalent to disclosure.
He disclosed his SALN in 2011 after questions are raised how he was able to purchase a sports car.
He also disclosed his SALN in 2012 following the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona.
Corona initially refused to disclose his SALNs, but was impeached for failing to disclose assets and liabilities worth of up to P80 million.
Story 7: S. KOREA RAISES ALERT AS NORTH'S MISSILE TEST LOOMS
South Korea raises its military watch alert to "vital threat" Wednesday before an expected North Korean missile launch.
Last week, North Korea told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang they had until April 10 to consider evacuation, fueling speculation a launch was planned between Wednesday and the April 15 birthday celebrations for late founder Kim Il-Sung.
South Korean intelligence says the North prepares two mid-range missiles for imminent launch from its east coast.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se tells parliament the launch could take place "anytime from now on."
On Tuesday, the North says the Korean peninsula is headed for "thermo-nuclear" war and advises foreigners to consider leaving South Korea.
Story 8: 'SOUTH KOREANS NOT WORRIED ABOUT THREATS'
The South Korean government is taking the North's threats seriously, but a Filipino currently in Seoul says locals don’t seem too worried about it.
Rico La Viña, a college exchange student staying in Seoul, says despite threats from the North, it’s business as usual for most South Korean locals.
RICO LA VIÑA, FILIPINO EXCHANGE STUDENT IN SEOUL: I've been talking with locals and foreign friends alike and what they've told me is that they are not really worried about the North Korean tensions...I don't really feel the tensions here in Korea.
La Viña believes the locals are used to the threats.
RICO LA VIÑA, FILIPINO EXCHANGE STUDENT IN SEOUL: I think it's more the boy cried wolf. They're so used to it all the time. They even make jokes with me like telling me to say goodbye to my parents and friends in the Philippines.
La Viña adds he is not actively preparing for possible threats.
RICO LA VIÑA, FILIPINO EXCHANGE STUDENT IN SEOUL: Personally, I'm just taking my cues from the South Koreans. Although I am trying to prepare and get myself ready for this, for the most part it's not something that I'm thinking about consciously.
Story 9: N. KOREA LINKED TO S. KOREAN CYBERATTACKS
The Yonhap news agency reports the South Korean government links North Korea to the cyber attacks that crippled a number of television stations, banks, and insurance firms in March.
Other cyberattacks on anti-Pyongyang organizations were reported on March 25 and 26.
The Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning says the incidents --quote-- "resembled the cyber attack methods that North Korea had attempted in previous hackings."
A spokesman from Korea Internet and Security Agency adds, "We've collected a lot of evidence to determine the North's Reconnaissance General Bureau led the attack, which had been prepared for at least 8 months."
A joint team of civilian and government experts traced the origin to 6 personal computers used in North Korea.
Lock on digital screen image by Shutterstock
Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, Amnesty International says the use of the death penalty is broadly diminishing around the world, although some countries did resume executions in 2012.
In its annual survey on the death penalty, India, Japan, Pakistan and Gambia resumed executions last year.
Amnesty Internation said there was an "alarming escalation" in executions in Iraq.
At number 6, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will lead mourners at next week's funeral of Margaret Thatcher.
The British government says the funeral would be on April 17, in London's St Paul's Cathedral.
But the “Iron Lady” remained as polarizing in death as she did in life, with violence erupting at street parties celebrating the death of a figure who critics say destroyed lives with her free-market economic policies.
Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister, died Monday at age 87 after a stroke.
And at number 9, Bill Clinton may become @PrezBillyJeff on Twitter if Stephen Colbert has his way.
In a portion of his talk with the former US President, Colbert nudged Clinton into making his first tweet, with Colbert doing the typing.
The account currently has more than 115,000 followers and only a single tweet.
Newscast production staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|