Rappler Newscast | September 24, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- Senator Guingona hits supposed attempts to 'gag and bar' witnesses in a Senate probe on the pork barrel scam.
- The Solicitor General asks the Supreme Court to allow the release of lawmakers’ and the President’s pork barrel.
- The International Monetary Fund cuts its growth forecast for the Philippines.
Story 1: GUINGONA: DON'T BLOCK NAPOLES PROBE
Senator TG Guingona hits what he calls efforts to “gag and bar” witnesses from testifying in his committee’s probe into the pork barrel scam.
TG GUINGONA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: I’m very, very disappointed.
Sen TG Guingona fumes at Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee expected principal whistleblower Benhur Luy and other former aides of mastermind Janet Napoles to appear in the hearing Tuesday after a commitment from De Lima last week.
But De Lima changes her mind.
LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: After our conversation, I had to take a closer look at Ombudsman law, rules of procedures. It confirmed the no publicity rule when a case is filed if it will prejudice the case.
The hearing abruptly ends.
Guingona orders De Lima to bring the whistleblowers to the next hearing on Thursday.
The senator says Senate President Franklin Drilon and De Lima are wrong in invoking the Ombudsman rules.
TG GUINGONA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Nobody, nobody, the Ombudsman nor the courts can interfere with the Senate. We are a separate branch of government and this power has been put in the Constitution and upheld in long line of cases in the Supreme Court and I will not allow anyone, anyone to diminish the power and the stature of the Senate.
But Guingona is in for more disappointment.
While Drilon signs the subpoena for De Lima and the whistleblowers, the Senate President announces the Senate will abide by the advice of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales not to summon Napoles to its investigation.
Drilon sought her opinion after Guingona asked him to sign a subpoena for Napoles.
FRANKLIN DRILON, PHILIPPINE SENATE PRESIDENT: Out of prudence, respect, we must defer to the Ombudsman as she has acquired primary jurisdiction in the case… There is no reluctance. We sought opinion of the Ombudsman.
Guingona again cries foul.
He says it doesn’t make sense that Drilon summons the whistleblowers, but refuses to subpoena the alleged pork barrel queen.
The chairman adds the Senate is not bound by the advice of the Ombudsman.
Sen Francis Escudero agrees.
FRANCIS ESCUDERO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Nabasa ko ang letter ng Ombudsman. Wala sa kanyang puder na sabihin ano ang in aid of legislation at ano ang hindi. Wala rin sa kanyang puder na sabihin kung ano ang maaring sabihin ni Napoles dahil desisyon lang ni Napoles yun. (I read the letter of the Ombudsman. It’s not in her jurisdiction to say what is in aid of legislation and what is not. It is also not in her jurisdiction to say what Napoles can or can’t say because that will be Napoles’ decision alone.)
Escudero says the senators will meet to resolve the fate of the Senate's probe into its own members.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: The independence of the Senate or the authority of the Ombudsman? Beyond the legal issue, a power struggle ensues between the President’s allies in the Senate as more names get dragged into the pork barrel scam. They all claim to uphold the law and the public good but whose interests are they really protecting? Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.
Story 2: SOLGEN TO SC: LIFT TRO ON PORK BARREL OF PRESIDENT, SOLONS
The Solicitor General asks the Supreme Court to lift its temporary restraining order stopping the release of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds, the Malampaya fund, and the President’s Social Fund.
Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza asks the court to release the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF remaining for 2013, citing the welfare of scholars and healthcare beneficiaries.
He also asks the Court to dismiss the consolidated petitions seeking to abolish the PDAF.
He says anomalies in the disbursements of the funds are a "political problem," and not for the High Court to resolve.
Story 3: NEW 'PORK' RULE: P24.5M MAXIMUM INFRA PER SOLON
The House of Representatives and the public works department agree to set a P24.5 million allocation for each congressman to spend on infrastructure projects.
Before public outrage forced lawmakers to abolish the current pork barrel system, each member of the House used to have P70 million worth of discretionary funds, with P40 million allocated for infrastructure projects.
The House earlier arrived at a consensus to distribute their P25.2 billion PDAF to six line agencies for 2014.
Of the re-aligned pork barrel funds, 35-percent or P8.2 billion will go to the public works department.
Story 4: MALIK'S TRUSTED COMMANDER CAPTURED
The government captures a Moro National Liberation Front commander "trusted" by leader Habier Malik on day 16 of the Zamboanga crisis.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says Commander Salip Idjal and 8 other MNLF fighters pretended to be hostages.
They joined six civilians rescued by the police and the military on Tuesday.
Commander Idjal was later presented by the Zamboanga City police.
COMMANDER IDJAL, MNLF COMMANDER: Sabi ni Chairman Misuari at Ustadz Habier Malik, ang puntahan namin peace caravan. Di namin alam ito pala ang madadatnan namin. Ang message ko sa mga kasamahan ko, sana kayo diyan sa labas, mag-isip isip muna kayo. Wag kayong padalus-dalos. Tingnan ninyo nangyari sa amin. Nahirapan sa hindi totoo na sinasabi. (Chairman Misuari and Ustadz Habier Malik said we were going to a peace caravan. We didn’t know what we were in for. My message to my comrades: think about what you’re doing. Look at what happened to us. We are suffering because of lies told to us.)
Gazmin says the standoff is “almost over.”
On Tuesday, the military launches an air strike against the remaining rebels holed out in Barangay Talon-Talon and Mariki.
Gun battles still continue, with the Army losing two officers in separate encounters over the weekend.
Story 5: MORE SUPPLIES, RESCUERS NEEDED FOR OLONGAPO RESIDENTS
Hundreds of families are displaced in Olongapo after heavy rain forces the city to declare a state of calamity.
But residents say the local government’s rescue response leaves much to be desired.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
AU MARMITO, FLOOD VICTIM: Malakas talaga yung alon, sobra ito. sobra ito. Grabe talaga ito. Last na naranasan kong ganito 1985. (The waves were really strong. This has been really intense. The last time I experienced something like this was in 1985.)
Au Marmito lived in Zambales all her life.
She has no words to describe the devastation.
The floods are gone, leaving the houses almost destroyed.
Food is scarce.
Everyone was unprepared.
It is a common complaint from Sta Rita residents.
At the height of the rains Sunday night, rescuers were nowhere to be found.
CRISTINA HALLARE, FLOOD VICTIM: Nong umaga ng Lunes, doon lang kami rinescue. Noong rumaragasa walang pumunta. Dati hanggang ganito palang pumasok na sila nagaanounnce lumikas na kayo. Ngayon wala. (We were only rescued on Monday morning. At the height of the rains, no one came for us. Before, in calamities like this, the would tell us right away to evacuate. Now, there wasn’t any announcement.)
Olongapo City was declared under a state of calamity Monday, September 23 after 16 of 17 barangays were affected by monsoon rain.
Local government says it is the worst flooding the city has ever seen.
City councilor Ellen Dabu says the limited number of rescuers could not cope with the deluge of requests for help.
Rescue team leader Antonio Ebuenga says there were only 24 rescuers to help the barangay's 45,000 residents.
He admits they did not expect the water to rise so fast.
All they could do was tell the people to go to higher ground.
ANTONIO EBUENGA, RESCUE TEAM LEADER: We did not expect the the flood would be that heavy. This is the biggest flood here ever. We could not penetrate because of the strength of the current, the places were too low. If we were to enter, we would not be able to come out.
About 600 families are displaced, and 3 are dead in the city.
It's a wake up call for Olongapo.
An obvious lack of disaster preparedness by the local government and the residents turned a rainy weekend into a disaster.
NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: Locals are appealing for food, mattresses and clothes - all of which were swept away by the flood. Their number one need is drinking water. With resources and livelihood gone, rebuilding their homes is only 2nd priority to finding their next meal. Natashya Gutierrez Rappler, Olongapo.
Story 6: PH CHURCH 'RIGHT' DESPITE POPE FRANCIS' COMMENTS
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or CBCP says it stands firm against contraception, abortion and gay marriage despite Pope Francis' comments urging a change of tone on these issues.
In an interview published last week, the Pope urged a break from what he calls the Church's harsh "obsession" with gays, contraception and abortion.
But CBCP President Jose Palma says, “He is not saying that what the Church deemed before as wrong is now right. He is merely telling us to be more compassionate.”
Church leaders in the Philippines are strongly opposed to the Reproductive Health law.
The Supreme Court suspended the law in March so judges could hear arguments on its constitutionality.
RH law author Edcel Lagman says the pope’s comments put the Filipino Church leaders on the defensive.
He adds, “I think they will have to reconcile their doctrines and make themselves attuned to the liberal thinking of the new pope.”
Story 7: IMF CUTS PH GROWTH FORECAST
The International Monetary Fund expects the Philippines to grow at 6.75% in 2013, lower than the previous 7% estimate the agency made in July.
The IMF’s 2014 forecast of 6% is unchanged.
These estimates are within the country's official growth target of 6% to 7%, which was already surpassed by actual growth rate of 7.5% in the second quarter, making the Philippines among the fastest growing economies in the world.
The IMF’s Rachel van Elkan says the Philippines’ “strong fundamentals” prepare the country to adjust smoothly when the US Federal Reserve eventually ends its stimulus program.
Story 8: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 6, officials say Kenyan troops are "in control" of Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall after attackers kill dozens of shoppers and staff in a 3-day-long siege.
The vast center was quiet 60 hours after gunmen stormed the complex.
The Red Cross says 63 people were recorded missing.
The army says almost 200 are wounded in the attack, with at least 11 Kenyan troops injured in intense gun battles.
At number 7, the United Nations says new HIV infections drop by a third overall since 2001, and more than halved among children.
Globally, 2.3 million people contracted the AIDS virus last year – over a third fewer than in 2009, and 52% down from 2001.
Hailing progress in distributing antiretroviral drugs, the UN body says it may be possible to slash new infections among kids by 90% in the next two years.
And at number 9, Fire blamed on arson chars vast areas of a nature reserve in Ecuador's capital as officials declare the blaze under control.
It took 800 firefighters nearly 24 hours to bring the fire under control, which broke out Sunday in a huge expanse of Quito known as the Parque Metropolitano.
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|