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Today on Rappler.
Story 1: HISTORIC SIN TAX BILL AWAITS AQUINO SIGNATURE
For the first time in 16 years, a sin tax reform bill makes it out of committee meetings and gets through a vote.
Only the signature of President Benigno Aquino is needed to make the historic bill a law.
Voting 10-9, the Senate ratifies the bicameral conference committee report on the bill Tuesday.
The House also ratifies its version.
Sen Franklin Drilon, sponsor of the Senate version, says Aquino is expected to sign the bill into law before Christmas.
The bill is passed with strong opposition from critics, who say the bill will harm tobacco farmers.
Recto says he is against the lump sum earmarked for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The bicam report leaves it up to the Health Department to earmark funds for political and district subdivisions for medical assistance programs.
Recto says the provision will politicize the allocation of funds.
He adds, “The money will be like a blank check you give to the DOH.”
The sin tax bill raises an additional P33.96 billion in revenues from tobacco and alcoholic products in 2013 or the first year of implementation.
Story 2: WEDNESDAY: RH BILL SHOWDOWN IN CONGRESS
After 15 years, the House of Representatives will decide the fate of the Reproductive Health bill on Wednesday.
Anti-RH lawmakers will be allowed to continue introducing amendments provided voting will be done by voice vote and not by nominal voting.
Senior Deputy Majority Floor Leader Janette Garin says if the House approves the bill on second reading by Wednesday, they can approve it on 3rd reading by Monday.
With the backing of the Liberal Party and the Nationalist People's Coalition, the bill is likely to pass.
LP president Mar Roxas calls LP members in the House to a lunch meeting Tuesday to announce the leadership's support.
In a statement, the party urges its members to vote in favor of the bill.
It adds, "The leadership of the LP stand firm - not to abandon the President on the issue of the RH."
This departs from LP's previous position allowing members to vote according to their conscience.
Story 3: LP, UNA BETS TOP PULSE ASIA SURVEY
A Pulse Asia survey says the ruling Liberal Party and opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance will dominate the senatorial race if elections were held today.
The survey says Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda remain the top picks of Filipino voters.
Both are guest candidates of LP and UNA.
At least 74.1% of voters will vote for Escudero while 69.3% will vote for Legarda.
The 10 other slots are split between LP and UNA.
In the 3rd and 4th place is LP guest candidate and incumbent Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Right after him in the 3rd to 6th place is San Juan City representative JV Ejercito Estrada of UNA.
Tied in the 4th to 7th place are Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile of UNA and another LP guest candidate, former Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar.
LP bet Senator Koko Pimentel improves his standing with voters at 50.2% putting him at the 5th to 8th place, followed by UNA's Senator Gringo Honasan in the 7th to 12th place.
Rounding up the Magic 12 and tied in the 8th to 12th place are LP's Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Nancy Binay of UNA, Aurora province Representative Sonny Angara and former Senator Miguel Zubiri of UNA.
Story 4: NDRRMC: 'PABLO:' 890 MISSING, 714 DEAD
The number of victims of typhoon Pablo continues to rise, with 714 now confirmed dead and 890 missing.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council says nearly 5.41 million people are affected across 9 regions.
Damage may reach P7.12 billion, but is expected to go up.
On Monday, the United Nations launches a $65-M dollar global aid appeal to help provide food, water and shelter for survivors.
Donor countries pledge almost 22 million dollars or P900 million pesos so far.
Story 5: AQUINO MEETS WITH CASIGURAN FARMERS
Residents of Casiguran, Aurora arrive in Manila after a 17-day march to protest the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority.
In a surprise move, President Benigno Aquino meets with the farmers.
Bea Cupin reports.
The Casiguran marchers start out the day on an optimistic note.
The night before, they were told the President would come to the San Jose Seminary inside the Ateneo de Manila Campus to listen to their plight.
The marchers are asking the President to stop the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority or APECO.
They also want him to deny the project of funding from government.
The marchers accuse APECO of land grabbing, harassment.
They say the development APECO will bring is not the kind of development they want.
But this is the answer they get.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Sabi nila tigilan ko yung budget, bigay mo to. Hindi ako diktador eh. Bilang Pangulo, Chief Executive, ano ba ang eexecute ko? Batas. Kailangan po ipagtupad ang batas. Kung mali ang batas, papalitan natin ang batas. Pero habang batas yan, obligado akong ipatupad.
The 120 farmers, fisherfolk, and Agtas from Casiguran, Aurora are dejected and frustrated.
They marched 350 kilometers over 17 days to protest APECO.
MARLON ANGARA, FISHERFOLK LEADER: Frustrated yung mga marchers eh. Talagang una, hindi nila narating yung Malacanang, first time nila sa Manila. Pangalawa, hindi malinaw yung tugon ng ating Pangulo para sa nilakad namin na hanggang dito.
The President instead orders the National Economic and Development Authority, to start an independent review of the project.
The marchers are assured that they will be consulted during the review.
Fr Joefran Talaban, Casiguran parish priest and lawyer Christian Monsod will also represent the marchers.
An APECO representative will be part of the consultations.
In a statement after the dialogue, APECO says it welcomes the review.
APECO says “this is a development for the people of Aurora, supported by the people of Aurora.”
“We appeal to certain groups with vested interests to stop spreading lies.”
But Christian Monsod cautions against ecozones, particularly APECO.
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, SULONG CARPER CONVENOR: This is a good time to check APECO. Whether this is just the same mold of economic zones that by the way have a very questionable... whether it is totally a benefit or not for the people.
Despite the setback, the marchers are determined to fight for the land.
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Manila.
Story 6: GOV'T ASKS SC TO DECLARE CYBERCRIME LAW VALID
The government asks the Supreme Court Monday to uphold the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, even as it agrees the "takedown clause" violates the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution.
The takedown clause allows authorities to shut down websites with harmful content based on prima facie evidence.
The government says Congress should amend the clause.
But it stands by the legality of the law, saying -quote- "it is meant only to curb and fight the evil of cybercrime, nothing more and nothing less."
It also asks the Supreme Court to lift the October 9 temporary restraining order on the law's implementation and to dismiss the 15 petitions against it.
Story 7: PH PROMISES TO FIGHT CORRUPTION DURING UN CONVENTION
The Philippines starts to walk the talk in its fight against corruption.
The United Nations-led convention is legally binding and seeks to push countries to enact laws with stiffer penalties for offenders.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
ALBERTO ALEJO, CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVE: Corruption is violence. It hurts, it kills, it demolishes institutions, it drives away people to go abroad and find their destiny there. Corruption kills.
Can the Philippines ever free itself of corruption?
One of 140 countries that signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003, the country hopes to make huge strides in the next 5 years.
The UNCAC is the first international anti-corruption agreement that is legally binding.
Among Philippines’ commitments to the convention? Enacting laws that prevent corruption, criminalizing offenses both in public and private sectors, and recovering ill-gotten wealth.
To achieve this, leaders from the government and the private sector work together to develop a 5-year action agenda.
MARIA ISABEL CLIMACO, ZAMBOANGA CITY REPRESENTATIVE: We are committed to building a stronger policy infrastructure against corruption with our partners in government and the greater social community which we serve.
Some of the promised changes include criminalizing active and passive bribery of public officials and corporations, better protection for whistleblowers, and the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill.
Several action points were also inspired by the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES, OMBUDSMAN: It has been a sad thing for us to be waiting for results of administrative proceedings without first filing criminal cases.
Stakeholders agree to implement the disclosure of statements of assets, ties and net worth of government officials, and to make amendments in bank secrecy laws that will allow the Ombudsman to look into all deposits in banks inside and outside the country.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales says she is determined to rid the country of corruption.
CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES: The Office of the Ombudsman commits to pursue these 10 point UNCAC action agenda as its contribution the battle cry of daang matuwid towards sustainable national development and inclusive growth.
Representatives from the judiciary, legislative, executive, private sectors, media and civil societies also sign the action agenda to commit to its cause.
Then the document will submitted to President Benigno Aquino III for approval.
NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: While the UN agrees that progress has been made, there is still much to be done. Most proposals are legislative but advocates insist that while laws are being reviewed, citizens can do their part by keeping an eye on the different branches of government and holding them to their promises to fight corruption.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler Manila.
Story 8: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 6, US President Barack Obama says on Monday he is ready to compromise ---quote "a little bit" to head off a tax and austerity crisis.
But Obama warns he will not budge on making the rich pay more.
He is working with House Speaker John Boehner, his top Republican foe on the "fiscal cliff" showdown, to strike a deal to head off $500 billion dollars in tax hikes and savage spending cuts by January 1.
At number 7, Businessweek's cover story on Tim Cook gives a rare glimpse into the life and leadership style of the Apple CEO who replaced business and technology industry icon Steve Jobs.
The discussion ranges from product design to manufacturing, but the interview also provides some great insight for leaders about leading an organization.
Business Insider crunches 5 leadership lessons from the interview: Diversity of leadership is massively important; Transparency is key; Read customer emails; You "can only do a few things great" and; Admit you're wrong.
At number 8, The European Union, facing its worst crisis in six decades, officially receives the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize on Monday for turning Europe --quote "from a continent of war to a continent of peace."
With a score of EU heads of state and government looking on, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman hands the prize to EU president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European parliament president Martin Schulz.
And at number 9, Undefeated American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr, who is usually the first to slam Manny Pacquiao, surprisingly has comforting words for the Filipino boxer who was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8.
He says, “Things happen, you live and you learn. The only thing he (Pacquiao) can do is rejuvenate himself and bounce back like a true champion,"
Meantime, teen superstar Justin Bieber Bieber takes a jab at Pacquiao, publishing memes on social network Instagram making fun of the way Pacquiao was knocked out.
Story 9: SHOULD MANNY PACQUIAO RETIRE?
Philippine sports analysts say Manny Pacquiao should retire after his defeat in Las Vegas at the hands of Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao, who will turn 34 on December 17, vows to fight, but analysts say 17 years of pro boxing have taken its toll.
Sports columnist Recah Trinidad writes “Pacquiao was conquered by Father Time after it turned out he could no longer take a solid punch."
Boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz fears receiving too many punches might condemn him to the fate of his American coach, ex-fighter Freddie Roach.
He says, "The sight of Roach himself riddled by Parkinson's disease sends shivers among many who care deeply for Pacquiao.”
The 8 division world champion's wife and mother express the same sentiment.
But 1992 Barcelona Olympics boxing bronze medalist Roel Velasco says, "He shouldn't retire. He has to recover and redeem himself. Then he can retire."
London-based Boxing News blogger Daniel Welling echoes Velasco.
He writes, "It would be a huge shame if one of the greatest fighters of the modern era ends his career face down on the mat."