Rappler Newscast | November 20, 2012
Today on Rappler.
- The Commission on Elections allows pro-Aquino group Akbayan to run in the 2013 polls.
- The Senate approves the sin tax reform bill on second reading.
- World leaders call for a truce in Gaza as the death toll rises.
Story 1: SENATE APPROVES SIN TAX BILL ON THIRD READING
The Senate approves the sin tax reform bill on third reading Tuesday.
On Monday, the Senate agrees 'in principle' to raise an additional P40 billion in revenues from sin products.
The P40 billion target is dubbed “the crux of the bill.”
It is the figure in the Palace-backed version of the bill sponsored by Sen. Franklin Drilon.
Drilon says the agreement makes it easy for the bill to be approved on Tuesday.
During the session, Sen Ferdinand Marcos Jr says the agreement on the P40 billion target is not unanimous.
He says he does not agree with the amount because the figure is not a realistic target.
Story 2: AKBAYAN ALLOWED TO RUN IN 2013
The Commission on Elections allows party-list group Akbayan to run in the May 2013 polls despite criticism the group is no longer marginalized.
Various groups earlier asked Comelec to disqualify Akbayan because of its political ties with the Aquino administration.
Commissioner Rene Sarmiento says Akbayan has a long track record of representing the marginalized from the bills and laws passed in Congress.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr and Commissioner Lucenito Tagle dissent from the majority ruling while Commissioner Grace Padaca abstains from voting.
Brillantes says Akbayan is "multisectoral" and "political party."
The poll body also allows activist group Bayan Muna to run in 2013.
Story 3: HOUSE APPROVES K-12 BILL ON FINAL READING
With a 198-8 vote, the House of Representatives passes on third and final reading the K-to-12 bill that will add two years to the country's 10-year basic education.
Eight lawmakers vote against House Bill 6643, which will institutionalize the 12-year educational system.
The education department launched the program in 2012.
It requires students to undergo kindergarten, 6 years in elementary, 4 years in junior high school and two years in senior high school.
Story 4: PSE INDEX HITS 26TH RECORD HIGH, BREACHES 5,500
The main index of the Philippine Stock Exchange reaches a new record high for the 26th time in 2012.
On Tuesday, the PSE composite index pierces the 5,500 level for the first time, eclipsing the previous high of 5,473.61 on November 6.
The PSEi inched up 51.03 points to close at 5,500.58.
It also hit a new intraday record high at 5,510, again beating the November 12 intraday all-time high of 5,473.61.
Story 5: CUT TEXT CHARGES, REFUND SUBSCRIBERS
The National Telecommunications Commission orders mobile phone operators to cut and refund text message fees to its subscribers.
NTC wants text charges lowered to 80 cents from the current 1 peso fee and the 20-cent difference refunded.
NTC says the reduction comes from a memorandum circular ordering phone operators to reduce their interconnection charges.
Story 6: DOJ READIES SUBPOENA VS 44 PYRAMID SCAM SUSPECTS
The justice department will issue a subpoena against 44 officers and members of the Aman Futures Group.
More than 50 complaints are filed against the group, which duped about 15,000 people in Pagadian and other cities in Mindanao.
Authorities have yet to track down the group's founder, Manuel Amalilio, who left for Malaysia on November 14.
Prosecutors will also hold a separate preliminary investigation on cases linked to the pyramid scam of the Jahcob "Coco" Rasuman group.
In related news, President Benigno Aquino offers 4 tips to avoid pyramid scams:
1. Step back if you can't explain how the interest is earned
2. Be wary if it seems 'too good to be true'
3. Listen to government warnings
4. Don't trust initial returns.
Story 7: 3 FOREIGN WOMEN JOINED NPA AMBUSH?
The Philippine military is investigating the alleged role of 3 foreign women in a communist guerrilla ambush that left 7 soldiers dead last weekend.
A military spokesman says 3 white women were seen with a New People's Army guerrilla unit that clashed with soldiers in the northern province of Isabela on Saturday.
He says the identities, nationalities as well as the motives of the women are not yet clear.
Story 8: GAZA TRUCE EFFORTS BUILD UP AS DEATH TOLL RISES
The Gaza death toll rises to over a hundred after an Israeli strike kills 30 Monday.
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon joins international efforts to end the violence.
The UN Chief is pushing for a ceasefire.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal says his movement is committed to secure a truce but insists Israel must lift its six-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army says 42 rockets strike Israel and another 19 are intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Israel, Egypt and Ramallah as the United States pushes to avoid an escalation of the Gaza crisis.
Clinton will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, then discuss the crisis with Egyptian and Palestinian leaders.
Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 8, Colombia's leftist FARC rebels declare a unilateral two-month ceasefire on November 19 as they begin talks with the Bogota government on ending Latin America's longest-running insurgency.
But the government of President Juan Manuel Santos says it would not be bound by the ceasefire and military operations against the FARC would continue.
At number 9, Former Central Intelligence Agency head David Petraeus was considered a master in the art of spin.
Military journalists Willy Stern on Forbes describes Petraeus as a first-rate commander who knows how to use the press to his advantage.
The former CIA chief returned calls and personally answered emailed questions of journalists and didn't rely solely on public relations handlers.
Stern writes, "There's no fundamental difference in leading troops where you want them to go, and influencing the media to your advantage.”
And at number 10, Japan's high-tech toilets aim to rule the world, but cultural taboo is making that goal difficult to reach.
TOTO, which sold over 30 million high-tech toilets known as "Washlets," wants to dominate the global market, but Americans and others just won’t buy in.
Washlets have heated seats, odor-masking function, computerized control panel with pictograms, and ambient background music.
Despite the challenges in reaching foreign consumers, executives say there’s been some success tapping the hotel market.
Story 10: BECKHAM BIDS LA GALAXY GOODBYE
David Beckham is bidding his LA Galaxy team farewell.
On Monday, the popular midfielder announces his final competitive game with the team will be the Major League Soccer Cup 2012 on Saturday, December 1.
He spent six seasons with the club.
In the team’s official website, Beckham says, "I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy...I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career."
Story 11: SULIT.COM CO-FOUNDER: WE EMBRACE CHANGE
One of the most popular classified ads website in the Philippines stays on top of its game through engagement.
Katherine Visconti reports.
This towering skyscraper is a long way from the garage where RJ David and his wife started their online tech company.
RJ runs Sulit - the Philippines most popular classified ads site -- where Filipinos buy and sell cars, gadgets and even condos.
He gives Rappler a look inside his company and tells us the secrets to his success.
A mechanical engineer, he is the company’s first fulltime employee and coded the site himself.
He embraced rapid evolution, enhancing features users liked and dropping those they didn’t.
The result is one of the most searched websites in the Philippines.
Walking through the company today feels like stepping into an office in Silicon Valley.
Programmers work in the dark to focus on the glow of their screens.
40 internal servers are online solely for testing new features.
This definitely doesn’t look like a traditional Filipino office.
Video games. A treadmill. A pingpong table in the kitchen.
Hours are flexible but all employees have to be in the office between 2pm and 5pm.
Its easy to see why Sulit has no problem keeping its employees.
Sulit directly employees 70 Filipinos and indirectly provides jobs to hundreds more, like Jose.
Last year he started out selling 2 used iPhones on Sulit. Now he sells a minimum of 40 iPhones and 60 iPads a month.
JOSE MELCHOR CACHO, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I started a business because I saw that it is booming, my phone rings and rings and there are so many inquiries for the business so of course you want to make it from small to big.
Jose now has 3 stores but half of his sales still come from online ads on Sulit.
His customers are typical of those on Sulit – young, tech savvy and cost conscious.
It’s a powerful spending group in a country with a rising average income and a median population age of 23.
These users are a cornerstone of their strategy for the future.
RJ says Sulit wants to boost its market share from 70% to 90% by the end of next year.
This unassuming power couple shows no signs of stopping and neither does their company.
Katherine Visconti, Rappler, Manila.