Rappler Newscast | January 21, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front resume talks this time to discuss decommissioning of arms.
- Sen Santiago says President Aquino did not commit any crime in his supposed attempt to influence the Corona trial.
- UN chief Ban Ki-moon excludes Iran in peace talks with Syria.
Story 1: GOV'T, MILF HOPE TO SEAL FIREARMS DEAL
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF will resume negotiations Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the sensitive issue of decommissioning of arms under a peace agreement that aims to end 4-decades of armed struggle in Mindanao.
Under the annex on normalization, the MILF will decommission arms in a --quote-- "gradual and phased" manner.
The MILF also wants government troops to lead the dismantling of private armed groups in Mindanao.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal says, "As the MILF decommissions its arms, the government will also gradually decommission government troops as well as private armed groups, in the area while the Bangsamoro government is being set up."
Aside from the annex on normalization, both sides will also discuss a deal on Bangsamoro waters.
It was left as an addendum when they signed the power-sharing annex in December.
Iqbal says Bangsamoro waters would be defined as an area up to 22 kilometers from the shoreline, which is 7 kilometers more than municipal waters under the current law.
The MILF wants a zone of cooperation to be established in the area, which covers the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea.
Once both sides sign the normalization annex and the addendum on Bangsamoro waters, the only document left is the final peace pact.
Story 2: SC BEGINS ORAL ARGUMENTS ON MERALCO RATE HIKE
The Supreme Court on Tuesday begins oral arguments on the controversial rate hike of Manila Electric Company or Meralco.
The Court temporarily stopped the P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour rate increase following petitions against the hike.
Meralco blames simultaneous outages of power plants for the rate hike, saying it was forced to source more expensive power from plants that use diesel.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares says the Energy Regulatory Commission or ERC committed grave abuse of discretion when it approved the rate hike without a hearing and investigation.
He also says generation companies --quote-- “exploited” the situation by making high bids at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or WESM.
Colmenares says Therma Mobile, which has an existing contract with Meralco, made bids of P62 per kwh in the spot market, pushing up the price of electricity Meralco bought in the WESM.
But Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno says more evidence on the alleged collusion is needed.
Story 3: LUY FAKED REVILLA LETTER TO COA – LAWYER
The lawyer of Senator Bong Revilla says pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy faked the senator’s letter to the Commission on Audit or COA confirming the authenticity of his signatures.
This comes a day after Revilla denied his involvement in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam in an hour-long privilege speech.
Revilla cited Luy’s admission of faking lawmakers’ signatures upon the instructions of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
In a television interview Tuesday, Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon says the confirmation letter was part of the documents Luy faked.
Bodegon refers to a letter Revilla sent to COA in July 2011, stating that the signatures in pork barrel documents belonged to him and his staff.
The National Bureau of Investigation cited this confirmation letter in its plunder complaint against Revilla.
Revilla is accused of siphoning his pork barrel to Napoles’ fake NGOs in exchange for kickbacks.
Bodegon says a handwriting expert found Revilla’s signature in the supposed confirmation letter to be a forgery.
He adds, “They should not treat that letter as binding against Senator Bong because it is fake, void confirmation.”
Story 4: MIRIAM: AQUINO'S MEETINGS WITH SENATORS NOT A CRIME
Sen Miriam Santiago says President Benigno Aquino did not commit a crime when he met with senators during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Santiago is responding to allegations raised by Sen Bong Revilla, where he accused Aquino of meddling in the case by personally asking him -- a senator-judge -- to vote for Corona’s conviction.
Aquino confirms the meeting, saying he wanted to address reports about certain groups pressuring senators to influence the trial.
But the President says he only asked Revilla to decide the case on its merits.
Aquino adds he also met with three other senators: Jinggoy Estrada, TG Guingona, and Ralph Recto.
Aquino says, “It would have been very irresponsible… not to counter the pressures being done.”
In a statement Tuesday, Santiago says Aquino’s meeting with Revilla was not illegal and could not be used as grounds for impeachment.
MIRIAM SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: If President Aquino merely confined himself to influence the outcome of the impeachment trial last year, he did not commit a crime. But if he bribed the senator-judges to convict the accused, then he is guilty of bribery as prohibited by law and as a ground for his own impeachment under the Constitution.
Santiago adds it’s not illegal for Aquino to try and influence the individual senator-judges of the impeachment trial.
MIRIAM SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: It is not a crime for the President to try to influence the outcome, because an impeachment trial is both legal and political in nature...It is illegal for the President to try and influence the courts, because of the principle of independence of the judiciary. But it is legal for the President to try and influence the senator-judges, because he is the nominal head of his political party, and within bounds, he has the right to protect his political survival.
Story 5: SC PROBES JUSTICE LINKED TO NAPOLES
The Supreme Court on Tuesday starts the probe on Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong, who is linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
During a Senate hearing on the scam, whistleblowers say Ong visited Napoles’ office during the period she reportedly bribed public officials.
In October last year, the Supreme Court ordered Ong and 4 lawyers to explain their ties with Napoles.
Ong also acquitted Napoles of her alleged involvement in the 2001 Kevlar helmet case.
Story 6: PH ECONOMY TO GROW ABOVE 6%
The United Nations says the Philippine economy will grow above 6% until 2015, despite the massive devastation from typhoon Yolanda in late 2013.
In its World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 report released Tuesday, the UN says that while the typhoon brought death and widespread destruction, its macroeconomic impact was - quote - “relatively limited.”
The Philippines grew 7% during the third quarter of 2013, slower than 7.7% during the first quarter and 7.6% during the second quarter.
The UN projects a 6.2% growth in 2014 and 6.3% in 2015.
Story 7: UN BOOTS IRAN OUT OF SYRIA PEACE TALKS
United Nations head Ban Ki-moon excludes Iran from peace talks with Syria after it refused to back moves to end the Syrian war.
The talks start in Switzerland Wednesday.
Ban was forced to act after the Syrian opposition threatened to withdraw from the talks if Iran takes part.
Iran supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who refuses to step down from his dictatorial regime.
But Russia, a key sponsor of the peace talks and an Assad ally, says Iran's absence would be a - quote - "unforgivable mistake."
Story 8: THAILAND IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY
Thailand on Tuesday declares a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas to deal with mass protests against the government.
Thailand’s deputy prime minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul says the cabinet decided to invoke the emergency decree to --quote-- “take care of the situation and to enforce the law.”
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has faced months of street rallies from protesters who want to install an unelected “people’s council” in her place.
Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, As the Winter Olympics in Russia draws near, police hand out fliers warning about a female terror suspect believed to be in the city.
The fliers identify Ruzanna Ibragimova, described as the widow of a member of a militant group from the Caucasus region.
On Sunday, a video posted on a jihadist website shows two young men threatening the Games next month.
The two are believed to be suicide bombers in last month’s Volgograd twin blasts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Sochi Olympics will be safe, but a US official says warships and aircraft are on standby to evacuate American officials and athletes if needed.
At number 7, Animal rights group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says more than 200 dolphins captured in Japan’s Taiji Cove will likely be killed in an annual event marking Taiji’s dolphin hunting season.
In a live stream, the dolphins, including babies and a rare albino calf, are shown frantically trying to escape nets as fishermen close in on them.
Local officials defend the hunting of dolphins as tradition, and accuse the conservation group of using the issue to raise funds.
The prefectural government allows more than 2,000 dolphins and porpoises for the hunt this year.
And at number 10, European space probe Rosetta wakes from a 31-month hibernation to explore a comet on Monday.
Rosetta is Europe's most ambitious space mission.
It aims to probe a comet in August 2014 and carry out experiments that might reveal details on the Solar System’s origin.
Rosetta was placed in hibernation in June 2011 because at that moment, it was too far to be powered by sun.
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|