Rappler Newscast | January 30, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- The Philippines grows 7.2% despite the disasters of 2013.
- 10 policemen are sacked for torturing prisoners.
- A Securities and Exchange official admits the commission doesn’t have the resources to catch fake NGOs.
Story 1: PH GROWS 7.2% IN 2013, ABOVE GOV'T TARGET
The Philippines grows better than expected in 2013, surpassing the government’s target despite the disasters that struck the country.
The National Economic and Development Authority or NEDA says the country’s gross domestic product grew 6.5% in the fourth quarter of 2013, bringing the full-year growth to 7.2% -- above the government’s official target of 6% to 7%.
NEDA Director-General Arsenio Balisacan says the disasters that hit the country, like the Bohol earthquake, Zamboanga siege and Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan reduced the country’s 2013 growth by 0.1 percentage point.
Balisacan says the services sector and the accelerated growth of the manufacturing sector drove the GDP growth.
NEDA projects the Philippines will sustain the GDP growth and reach its GDP target of between 6.5% to 7% in 2014.
Malacanang welcomes the news, and adds it will continue focusing on inclusive growth by reducing poverty and increasing social protection.
Story 2: WHEEL OF TORTURE
It’s a gruesome take on a Filipino noontime show gimmick-- the wheel of fortune. For prisoners under policemen in Biñan, Laguna, it’s the wheel of torture. Bea Cupin reports on human rights scandal now being faced by the police force.
A spin of a roulette determines the fate of inmates in this jail in Biñan, Laguna.
It's a story that horrifies local officials and the world.
At least 22 inmates came forward to tell stories of torture under members of the Laguna Provincial intelligence unit.
The inmates show bruises all over their bodies, allegedly caused by police torture.
One torture method named after famous boxer Manny Pacquiao had an officer punch inmates non stop for 20 seconds.
Another method hung inmates upside down for 30 seconds.
Among those tortured are two minors.
The Commission on Human Rights' initial investigation finds the cops did this to extort money, extract information, force a confession... and as a form of amusement.
DANTE SANTIAGO M. RITO, REGION IV-A COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS: We have previous cases of torture but this is more in degree, higher in intensity than other torture cases we have.
The 10 police officers involved have been relieved of their duties and sent to a police camp in Calamba, Laguna.
The Laguna police chief and the head of intelligence in the province have also been relieved.
They are: Laguna Police Chief Senior Superintendent Pascual Munoz and Laguna Provincial Intelligence Head Superintendent Kirby John Kraft.
DANTE SANTIAGO M. RITO, REGION IV-A COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS: With regards to the criminal aspect, perhaps violation of Republic Act 9745, the anti-torture act of 2009, bribery due to the asking by the policemen of the money for lighter penalties. So far, and perhaps violation of RA 7610, as regards with the two minors.
But their victims and the public say it's not enough.
BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: From firearms to uniforms -- The PNP under President Aquino has been trying to revamp its image, and for a while seemed to be winning the PR war. But with errant officers in its ranks, professionalism may just remain a buzzword and little else. The regional commission on human rights hopes more victims come forward as they investigate more prisons to make sure other police units stay true to their duty to serve and protect.
Bea Cupin Rappler Laguna.
Story 3: SEC LACKS MANPOWER, TECH TO CATCH BOGUS NGOs
After explosive tales of billions stolen from public funds in the Napoles pork barrel scam, it’s time to spot the loopholes, plug the leaks and fix the system.
But Ayee Macaraig reports, the country’s regulating body is helpless in stopping fake non-governmental organizations.
JANET LIM NAPOLES, ALLEGED PORK BARREL SCAM MASTERMIND: Hindi ko alam. (I don't know.)
BENHUR LUY, WHISTLEBLOWER: Sir, nagsisinungaling po siya, totoo po iyon. (Sir, she’s lying. It’s true.)
After all the drama, the Senate moves on from the telenovela starring alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles and her former aides to government policy.
How did NGOs with the same incorporators get past government agencies for years and bag multi-million peso projects?
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Teresita Herbosa says her agency has a basic problem.
TERESITA HERBOSA, SEC CHAIRPERSON: We don't have the resources to be able to monitor and check those submissions for each and every NSPOs…We have only 8 processors in our corporate governance and finance department to go over all those 10,000 active foundations, 20,000 overall.
TEOFISTO GUINGONA III, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: That's really a challenge…I think that's the meat of the problem. Submissions are submissions but as we've seen, anybody can submit pieces of paper and, of course, they'll duly received.
Herbosa says the SEC is proud of its database of NGOs that the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Commission on Audit use in their investigations.
The problem? It’s not yet online.
TERESITA HERBOSA, SEC CHAIRPERSON: We will admit that had we had sufficient resources including computer-assisted review, we would have probably able to detect fraud in procuring registration at the very first instance when they supplied those or filed the applications with us.
The Philippine Council for NGO Certification, a self-regulatory body certifying NGOs, says there’s a need to integrate the different accreditation systems.
AUGUSTO CARPIO, PCNC CHAIRMAN: Government agencies accredit NGOs, we accredit NGOs but what is the real standard? An organization accredited by another accrediting body, does it have the same value as what we accredit? That's maybe a thing that we could look at.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman TG Guingona says the Senate will look into requiring accreditation for all NGOs transacting with the government.
He adds a bigger budget is needed for the SEC.
But Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan is going beyond the pork barrel scam to address another anomaly: unliquidated cash advances.
Tan says COA will file a case against government officials and agencies for failing to liquidate billions of pesos for as long as 15 years.
GRACE TAN, COA CHAIRPERSON: We have a provision in law, of criminal law that when somebody is given a cash advance and is not able to liquidate that within the prescribed period and upon demand, there is already a presumption in law that that money was malversed.
GUINGONA: Certainly very revealing.
Guingona says the Senate investigation is not yet over and will next focus on the Malampaya fund scam.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: There are no dramatic confrontations in today’s hearing.
But senators say it’s important to plug gaps to prevent another Napoles scam.
While the pork barrel is no more, there’s no shortage of people wanting to take advantage of flaws in the system to make big money. Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.
Story 4: AQUINO ABOLISHES STATE AGENCIES LINKED TO PORK BARREL SCAM
President Benigno Aquino abolishes three government-owned or controlled corporations or GOCCs linked to the pork barrel scam: The National Agribusiness Corporation or Nabcor, the Zamboanga del Norte College Rubber Estates Corporation or ZREC, and the Philippine Forest Corporation or PFC.
In a September Senate hearing, former officials of Nabcor and ZREC confirm findings of the Commission on Audit that lawmakers channeled their pork barrel to fake NGOs of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles through the two agencies.
Some former officials of these agencies face plunder charges.
In a statement, the Governance Commission for GOCCs says its regular evaluation of GOCCs --quote-- “showed that the 3 GOCCs were no longer performing the purpose for which they were created.”
Story 5: PH OFFERS 'TOKENS' AFTER HK SANCTION
The Philippines on Thursday offers Hong Kong "tokens of solidarity" after the island canceled the 14-day visa-free status for Philippine officials and diplomats.
The Philippine government refused to apologize to the victims of the 2010 hostage-taking incident, where 8 Hong Kong tourists were killed.
RAUL HERNANDEZ, DFA SPOKESMAN: To bring the issue to its final conclusion, the Philippines remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families, and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people. We hope that we will be able to do this as soon as possible.
The Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA does not specify the tokens, but says the Filipino people "pledged" these after the Philippines got a "renewed appeal for compassion" in October 2013.
The DFA also says the amounts are --quote-- “substantially more than those that have been previously accepted by the victims and their families.”
But the Aquino administration remains firm on its decision not to apologize to Hong Kong for the incident.
President Benigno Aquino earlier said the tragedy was the “act of one individual who was probably mentally unstable.”
RAUL HERNANDEZ, DFA SPOKESMAN: In response to this generous offering, a total renegotiation has been opened by the Hong Kong SAR government to seek a demand for an apology which the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, is not prepared to consider. Our nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this.
Story 6: TURNING THE CUSTOMS IMAGE AROUND THROUGH EFFICIENCY
Newly appointed customs commissioner Sunny Sevilla says improving the bureau’s efficiency is key to turning around its negative image.
In 2013, President Aquino criticized the bureau in his State of the Nation Address for alleged incompetence and corruption.
Former congressman Ruffy Biazon was the head of customs at the time.
Sevilla says that while there is a need to go after individual wrongdoers, changes in the bureau’s internal process also need to be addressed.
SUNNY SEVILLA, CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER: The negative image of the bureau is a product of quite a few things, circumstances and phenomena that are quite deeply rooted: corruption, inefficiency and all that. I see my role as really to try and get to the heart of why these things have been able to happen or occur for such a long time, and change them structurally…Changing the image of the bureau is not my goal. Making the bureau work better, perform our mandate better is my goal. If we do that I think the image will change. Let's go after the substance rather than the image.
Sevilla also discusses the scheme used by alleged rice smuggler David Bangayan or David Tan.
Bangayan earlier admitted using the permits of farmers’ cooperatives to import rice.
Sevilla says the bureau stopped the release of 20% of all privately imported rice in 2013 because of a lack of import permit, but he says the importers managed to get court orders for the release of the rice.
SUNNY SEVILLA, CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER: I really try and shift the discussion towards what the courts were doing and the impact that that's having on our efforts to hold that rice, because right now, that's our problem as far as rice importation is concerned...If this trend continues, then what Davidson Bangayan and farmers' cooperatives supposedly did in the past isn't gonna be smuggling, it's going to be perfectly legal. And what kind of impact is that going to have on our farmers?
Story 7: FLIGHT ALERT ON VHONG NAVARRO MAULING SUSPECTS
The Philippine’s justice department issues a lookout bulletin for the possible flight of 5 suspects involved in the assault of comedian Vhong Navarro.
Navarro reported he was mauled by armed men in the condominium of model Deniece Cornejo last January 22 in what he called an extortion attempt.
Cornejo claims her friends had only come to her defense because Navarro tried to rape her.
The National Bureau of Investigation or NBI says CCTV footage from Cornejo’s building corroborates Navarro’s testimony.
The order instructs the immigration bureau to be on alert for the possible departure of Cornejo, Cedric Lee, Bernice Lee, Ferdinand Guerrero, and Zimmer Rance.
They face charges for the alleged extortion and assault of Navarro.
While the order cannot prevent them from leaving the country, it orders strict monitoring by all immigration personnel.
The justice department formed an investigating panel to study the complaint filed by the NBI.
Story 8: BASYANG: SIGNAL NO. 1 IN 5 PROVINCES
A low-pressure area east of Mindanao is about to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility, and it’s poised to hit the same areas earlier battered by Tropical Depression Agaton.
In its latest bulletin, state weather bureau Pagasa says tropical depression Basyang is estimated to be at 1,108 kms east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.
It’s expected to hit land over the Surigao provinces late Friday evening or early Saturday morning.
Public storm warning signal number 1 is up over 5 provinces: Surigao del Norte, including Siargao Island; Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Misamis Oriental, Southern Leyte.
Story 9: MARRIAGE BOUNTY NO GOOD FOR HK TYCOON'S DAUGHTER
It’s a culture clash between traditional dad and British-educated daughter.
Hong Kong real estate magnate Cecil Chao tries to marry off daughter Gigi Chao - even if she already wed another woman.
Two years ago, Cecil made headlines when he offered 500 million Hong Kong dollars in dowry to any man who can win his lesbian daughter’s heart.
Chao doubled his offer this week, sparking renewed public interest and prompting his daughter to write him an open letter.
In her letter, Gigi says-quote- "As your daughter, I would want nothing more than to make you happy. But in terms of relationships, your expectations of me and the reality of who I am, are not coherent.”
She adds, "There are plenty of good men, they are just not for me."
She asks her father to accept her and to treat her relationship with her long-time partner like a - quote - “normal, dignified human being.”
Story 10: GOOGLE SELLS MOTOROLA TO LENOVO
Google sells mobile phone manufacturer Motorola to Chinese tech giant Lenovo for $2.91 billion.
The deal ends Google’s run as a handset maker, after it acquired Motorola in 2011 for $12.5 billion.
But Google failed to give Motorola traction in the competitive smartphone market.
The struggling phone brand failed to boost sales since the emergence of other players in the mobile industry.
On Thursday, Lenovo’s Hong Kong-listed shares dive 8.21%, with investors spooked about Motorola's profitability, while Google’s share prices climb 2%.
Google would be taking a loss on the sale, but some analysts say its main interests in Motorola was the portfolio of 17,000 patents, the majority of which it will keep.
Story 11: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, Egyptian prosecutors charge 20 journalists working with Al-Jazeera television network, including four foreigners accused of "airing false news."
The 16 Egyptians are accused of belonging to a terrorist organization and “harming national unity and social peace.”
The 4 foreigners – two Britons, an Australian and a Dutch national – are accused of --quote-- “airing false news aimed at informing the outside world that the country was witnessing a civil war.”
At number 7, former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
Two Norwegian politicians submit their nomination Wednesday, saying Snowden’s exposes have contributed to a more peaceful world.
The Nobel committee won’t say who has been nominated but nominations will be accepted until February 1. The winner will be announced in October.
At number 8, What’s been described as a “game-changer” in the quest to grow transplant tissue in the lab has been reported in Japan.
The BBC reports scientists in Japan found a new way to create stem cells: by dipping blood cells into acid.
These cells have shown a limited ability to self-renew.
University College London professor Chris Mason says, “This could be the game-changer that ultimately makes a wide range of cell therapies available.”
And at number 10, What do Pope Francis, Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Katy Perry have in common?
They’ve landed on the cover of pop culture magazine Rolling Stone.
Explaining its choice of Pope Francis for its February 2014 cover, the magazine said Francis is --quote-- “making a noticeable break from Vatican tradition, facing political issues head on and presenting a more all-inclusive attitude toward human rights.”
Rolling Stone calls Francis the “people’s pope.”
Story 12: JUSTIN BIEBER CHARGED WITH ASSAULT IN TORONTO
Canadian police charge pop star Justin Bieber with the December assault of a limousine driver.
The 19-year-old turns himself in Wednesday, escorted by officers through a crowd of fans.
CTV television says Bieber was returning from a hockey game on December 29 when police were called to intervene in a fight with the driver of a limousine he had ridden with his entourage.
The charges come a week after he was arrested for drag racing and drunk driving in Florida.
The White House also received a petition with more than 100,000 signatures calling for the Canadian-born singer to be deported.
It remains unclear whether Bieber's visa to stay in the United States would be affected by his arrest.
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|