Rappler Newscast | January 6, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- Rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson is investigating alleged kickbacks from bunkhouses for Typhoon Yolanda victims.
- Public Works Secretary Singson promises to resign if the bunkhouses are found to be overpriced.
- Temperatures drop as a sub-zero arctic blast sweeps through the United States.
Story 1: 'KICKBACKS ON HAIYAN BUNKHOUSES AT 30%'
Rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson says he has been --quote-- "quietly investigating" reports that a local politician is getting kickbacks from the bunkhouses intended for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda -- known internationally as Haiyan.
Since December 13, Lacson says he is looking into allegations that at least one politician was colluding with contractors for commissions of 30 to 35%.
But Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson denies the reports, saying the government has not yet paid any contractor.
He also promises to resign if the allegations of overpricing are proven true.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports a 24-room bunkhouse is being constructed at a cost below P200,000, although it was priced at more than P900,000.
The Inquirer also says the Camp Coordination and Camp Management described the bunkhouses as --quote-- “noncompliant in many respects with internationally recognized standards and best practices.”
But in a Palace briefing, Singson says the quality of the bunkhouse and the allegations of overpricing should be differentiated.
The Department of Public Works and Highways aims to build 222 bunkhouses.
126 have already been built.
Singson says the total cost of 200 bunkhouses would amount to P14 million.
The government’s rehabilitation blueprint for Yolanda-hit areas allocates P360.9 billion in a span of 4 years.
Story 2: WHEN WILL HAIYAN VICTIMS BE LAID TO REST?
Two months after Yolanda hit Central Philippines, the government is speeding up the burial of bodies left after the typhoon.
On Saturday, rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson says 952 bodies still awaited burial.
He earlier said the bodies would be buried by Sunday.
But on Sunday afternoon, Lacson says 49 bodies remain unburied.
In the rush to complete the burial, authorities have changed deadlines three times -- this time, moving the deadline to Tuesday, January 7.
Officials say the tedious process of identifying the dead is delaying the burial.
Story 3: ENRILE TO OMBUDSMAN: PDAF CHARGES BASELESS, URBAN LEGEND
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile responds to the plunder complaint against him, saying there is no testimonial or documentary evidence showing he received P172 million in kickbacks in the pork barrel scam.
Enrile filed his counter-affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman last December 20.
He and two other senators are accused of siphoning their pork barrel to the fake NGOs of alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Enrile dismisses the documents that the whistleblowers and the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI presented against him and calls the charges "baseless" and "an urban legend."
Enrile says the only role he and his office played in the pork barrel process was to identify projects to be funded under his pork barrel.
Citing documents obtained from the Commission on Audit or COA, the NBI says Enrile coursed his pork barrel through 6 Napoles NGOs from 2007 to 2009.
While Enrile said he --quote-- "never personally endorsed” any Napoles NGOs, he wrote the COA confirming he authorized his resigned chief of staff Gigi Reyes and his deputy chief of staff to sign documents on his behalf.
Story 4: DOH STEPS UP DRIVE VS MEASLES AMID OUTBREAK
The Department of Health or DOH is stepping up its campaign against measles, following the increase in the number of cases recorded last year and outbreak in some barangays in Metro Manila.
The DOH says it recorded 1,724 cases nationwide from January 1 to December 14, 2013, with 43% or 744 cases recorded in Metro Manila alone.
The state-run Philippine News Agency reports some 21 barangays in 9 cities declare an outbreak in their areas.
Measles is a viral, highly-contagious respiratory disease.
Symptoms include high fever, red eyes, runny nose and cough.
Rashes would then appear throughout the body after two days.
The illness can be spread through cough or direct contact with body secretions of an infected person.
DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag urges parents to have their children vaccinated, saying children who missed their measles vaccine shot 5 years ago are more vulnerable to measles now.
Vaccination is free in all health centers nationwide.
Story 5: FINAL TALLY: NEW YEAR INJURIES INCREASE TO OVER 1,000
The DOH says it recorded a total of 1,018 injuries related to New Year celebrations of 2014.
Of these, 997 are cases of fireworks-induced injuries, while 19 are stray bullet cases and 2 are caused by ingestion of fireworks.
The total number of injuries is 9% higher than during the same period last year and 8% higher than the 5-year average.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona says 363 cases involved injuries to bystanders.
Ona also shares the story of a 12-year-old boy who died from severe head injury after the gunpowder he collected from spent firecrackers exploded.
The boy’s kidneys would later help give life to another person after his parents agreed to donate the organs to an adult recipient.
Story 6: PALACE OPEN TO MOVING SCHOOL CALENDAR
Malacanang says it is open to proposals to change the Philippines’ school calendar to August or September.
Currently, classes in the Philippines begin in June and end in March.
The University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University aim for an August school opening, while the De La Salle University and the University of Sto. Tomas are considering a September-June academic calendar.
In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma says, “The decision of 4 of the country's biggest universities to move the start of their classes are in line
with their autonomous status, and with the concept of ASEAN integration.”
An ASEAN Economic Community is set to be established in 2015, allowing the free flow of goods and services among the 10 member-states –education services included.
The Commission on Higher Education forms a technical working group to examine the school calendar shift proposal.
Story 7: PALACE DEFENDS SSS, PHILHEALTH CONTRIBUTIONS HIKE ANEW
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma defends the increase in contribution hikes in the Social Security System or SSS and Philhealth.
Coloma says the move is a --quote-- “product of keen studies and consultations.”
Malacanang says there is a need to raise Philhealth premiums to ensure a sustainable “social protection program.”
For Philhealth, the lowest monthly premium for minimum wage earners is increased to P200 from P100.
Under the law, employers pay for 50% of Philhealth premiums while the remaining amount is shouldered by the employee.
SSS contributions are also raised to 11% of members’ monthly salary credit from 10.4%.
Story 8: PCGG WELCOMES SINGAPORE COURT DECISION ON MARCOS' SWISS FUNDS
The Presidential Commission on Good Government or PCGG welcomes the move of Singapore's top court to grant the Philippine National Bank or PNB legal title to former President Ferdinand Marcos' Swiss funds.
The decision comes 10 years after a German bank in Singapore sought the country's Court of Appeals to decide on
the rightful owner of the funds – a total of $30.1 million.
The Straits Times reports the PNB is one of 4 claimants to Marcos’ Swiss funds, along with the Philippine government, 5 foundations allegedly set up by Marcos to hold the money in Swiss bank accounts, and 9,539 human rights victims during the Marcos era.
Story 9: SUB-ZERO ARCTIC BLAST STRIKES US
Millions of people in the United States brace for brutal weather from a dangerous Arctic blast that could send US temperatures plummeting to their coldest in 20 years.
Heavy snow and sub-zero conditions affect the northeast United States and parts of Canada, with the cold weather front moving through the US Midwest.
The wind chill from the rare "polar vortex" could make it feel as cold as -51 degrees Celsius in some places.
Residents are urged to stay indoors and stock up on food.
Experts say exposed skin would suffer frostbite in as little as five minutes.
The National Weather Service describes the weather as “life-threatening.”
Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 4, India on Sunday launches its first rocket using domestically produced booster technology.
The 415-ton rocket deploys a two-ton advanced communications satellite some 17 minutes after leaving the Earth.
For years, India has been trying to develop its own cryogenic rocket engines designed to put heavier satellites into high orbits.
At number 5, a German skier says he may have filmed the skiing accident where former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher fell and hit his head on a rock.”
A week since the incident, Schumacher remains in “critical but stable” condition.
Investigators are focusing on Schumacher’s speed when he fell while skiing on unmarked slopes in the French Alps.
News magazine Der Spiegel reports, the footage of the 35-year-old German steward shows a skier descending an unmarked run before falling.
And at number 7, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce a new guideline allowing limited use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The policy change comes after Colorado became the first US state to legalize the drug for recreational use on January 1.
Cuomo’s move comes in the middle of a nationwide campaign to relax laws on marijuana use, prompted by shifting attitudes on the drug.
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|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|