Rappler Newscast | February 1, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- Two top officials of the Commission on Elections retire on Saturday.
- Human Rights Watch says the number of political killings drops in the Philippines, but impunity continues.
- Former president Arroyo praises President Aquino for the country’s GDP growth rate.
Story 1: 2 COMELEC VACANCIES AS TOP OFFICIALS RETIRE
Commission on Elections commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco will retire on Saturday after a non-renewable 7-year term.
President Benigno Aquino has not yet appointed their replacements.
Sarmiento was appointed to Comelec in April 2006.
He says he was initially reluctant to join the poll body, which had a bad reputation because of the “Hello, Garci” wiretapping scandal.
During his term, he recalls being offered an envelope filled with cash by politicians he refuses to name.
Sarmiento says he did not accept the bribe.
RENE SARMIENTO, COMELEC COMMISSIONER: Binigyan ako ng book na napakaganda, inspirational book. Bago 'yung libro, matambok. Syempre magtataka ka na. So tinawag ko yung chief of staff ko, binuksan ko, nandun yung pera.
Sarmiento also pushed for the prosecution of the election officials...
named in the “Hello, Garci” wiretapping scandal, but he did not get the support of other commissioners.
Velasco, who was appointed in November 2008, says his legacy in the poll body is his part in the 2010 automated elections.
ARMANDO VELASCO, COMELEC COMMISSIONER: My legacy is the successful conduct of the 2010 automated elections. I could not consider that as perfect but it really is a successful one to start.
Story 2: CANDIDATES UNANIMOUS ABOUT FOI
Candidates for Senator are frustrated when they realized that with only 3 session days, the Freedom of Information Bill is essentially dead in the current 15th Congress.
They blame the President and congressmen for failing to pass the bill.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
After news of the Freedom of Information Bill's "death," senatorial candidates at a forum lash out at Congress and the President.
Candidates discuss a slew of issues but the FOI is one of the few bills they unanimously agree on, regardless of party.
The FOI mandates government agencies to disclose information on finances, documents and records.
It languished at the committee level for more than a year, before it was approved and transmitted to the plenary.
Despite calls, President Benigno Aquino III refuses to declare the FOI as urgent.
Representatives blame the campaign season for its delay, but candidates say its the fault of congressmen.
MARWIN LLASOS, ANG KAPATIRAN CANDIDATE: The Freedom of Information bill will solve a lot of problems especially the perennial problem of graft and corruption… Sa camara naman, medyo ito'y talagang inuupuan kasi alam naman natin sa mabababang kapuluan ng congreso, mas maraming skeletons in the closet diyan.
CHRISTIAN SENERES, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES: It is long overdue. Sa Senate ok na, sa Lower House, medyo atrasado.
And the reason for that is the lower house is easier to be influenced by the Executive.
Sen Antonio Trillanes, an author of the FOI in the Senate, admits the bill has a downside.
Politicians are scared their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, if publicly available, will be open to fishing expeditions by their rivals.
But Trillanes says the risk of nitpicking SALNs and using it against senators, is a small price to pay.
ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, LP SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Kami, even without the law, we're already practicing that. Yung downside na sinasabi, we can live with that. Politicians can live with that. Kapag sumobra, we can always sue them for libel.
The other candidates agree.
They slam Aquino's failure to push for the bill, despite promises.
RIZALITO DAVID, ANG KAPATIRAN CANDIDATE: Hangga't hindi yan cini-certify ni Pangulo Aquino malamang hindi yan pumasa. Pero yun naman ang aming pangako, kung hindi yan mapapasa sa ngayong Congress, next Congress mapapasa na yan dahil sasabihin naman natin sa Pangulo, promise mo yan eh, pinromise mo nung ikaw ay nangangampanya.
Candidates understand the value of the FOI bill, and promise to push for it if voted.
To them, the idea is simple: If you have nothing to hide, then you should have nothing to fear.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila
Story 3: WATCHDOG: POLITICAL KILLINGS DROP, BUT IMPUNITY PERSISTS
Human Rights Watch records a drop in the number of political killings in the Philippines in 2012, but says a culture of impunity still persists.
In its World Report 2013, HRW says there have been at least 114 cases of extrajudicial killings since 2010, but only 13 cases recorded in the past year.
The group says there is still no justice for victims of political killings--- no suspects have been convicted since 2010.
HRW Asia director Brad Adams says, "If 2012 was the year for new laws promoting human rights, then 2013 should be the year for effective action."
The group also says President Aquino failed to fulfill his promise to revoke Executive Order 546 which officials use to justify their “private armies.”
It adds that while the Interior Department reports disbanding 28 private armies, about 100 such groups still remain.
Story 4: GARCIA MULLS SUING MAGPALE OVER LOCKED OFFICE
Suspended Cebu governor Gwen Garcia is considering filing a complaint against acting Governor Agnes Magpale for locking the governor’s office.
Garcia leaves her office Tuesday evening to visit Oslob, giving Magpale the opportunity to lock her out.
Garcia refused to leave her office after her suspension.
She says she will sue Magpale if any of her personal belongings are damaged or stolen.
Garcia adds, "As duly elected governor, I am entitled to an office."
“I see no reason why they need to padlock it. That's a new case of robbery."
The suspended governor says she will not force her way back to the office but says she will continue to fight her suspension order.
Garcia is suspended for six months last December for grave abuse of authority in hiring contractual employees.
Story 5: ARROYO COMMENDS AQUINO FOR GDP GROWTH
A year after former President Gloria Arroyo criticized the economic performance of Aquino's government, she acknowledges the achievements of her former student.
In a statement, Arroyo spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn says the country's gross domestic product growth rate is worth commending.
Horn adds, "President Aquino is to be commended for the latest GDP growth rate. It is welcome news."
The Philippines grows 6.6% in 2012, a far cry from the 3.9% growth rate in 2011 and exceeding the government's target of 5% to 6%.
In January 2012, Arroyo published an essay titled, “It’s the Economy, Student,” which showed off her administration’s gains at the height of Aquino's criticisms against Arroyo's alleged corrupt activities.
Arroyo is under hospital arrest for plunder charges over the alleged misuse of charity funds during her administration.
Story 6: VITUG VLOGS: MVP VS PNOY
Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug talks about the opposing positions of President Aquino and businessman Manny Pangilinan...
over the decision to bring maritime disputes with China to an international court.
Here’s her video blog.
A leading CEO, Manny V. Pangilinan or MVP, took on President Aquino over China.
He disagreed with the government’s move to haul China to an international court to settle the dispute over Scarborough Shoal.
MVP chairs Philex Petroleum Corp. which is talking to a China oil company on possibly exploring gas in the disputed territory.
MVP posed this rhetorical question: “Are you prepared to set aside, but not surrender your claim on sovereignty over the area, so you could go on and develop it jointly—or should you stick to the moral position that this is ours and no matter what happens this is ours?”
He concluded that, with the pending case, the contested area will “never be developed, at least not in our lifetime.”
But here’s the thing: China wants joint development or a 50% share in the resources found in our own EEZ or exclusive economic zone. However, it reserves for itself all the resources in its EEZ.
So it’s like China telling us: “what is your is ours, but what is mine is mine alone.”
MVP reflects a pragmatic position, while the president elevates it to a moral issue.
As the president said, “If we don’t stand up for our rights, who we do expect will be standing up for our rights?”
This is Marites Vitug for VitugVlogs.
Story 7: PH THANKS SAUDI FOR SAVING PINOY ON DEATH ROW
The Philippines on Friday thanks the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for shouldering the P24.9 million blood money for a Filipino sentenced to death for murder.
Under Saudi's laws, blood money may spare those punished with death.
The Saudi government decides to shoulder 2.3-Million Saudi riyal in blood money, equivalent to P24.9 million to spare Filipino national Rodelio Lanuza from the death row.
Lanuza's family was only able to raise 700,000 Saudi riyal or P7.5 million.
Lanuza was imprisoned and charged with the murder of a Saudi local 11 years ago, but he says all he did was defend himself.
The Department of foreign affairs thanks the Saudi Government for the --quote “humanitarian gesture.”
The DFA also thanks Vice President Jejomar Binay and philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis for leading fundraising efforts for Lanuza.
Story 8: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 1, at least 25 people are killed and 80 injured in an explosion at the headquarters of oil giant Pemex in Mexico City Thursday.
Television images show people being carted away on stretchers.
Pemex, the world's fourth-largest crude producer, announced earlier it had evacuated the building due to a power failure.
At number 3, outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns Iran is stepping up its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Clinton also says Russia is continuing to send money and arms to the regime.
She says of Iran, “We believe they have acted on that by sending in more personnel, not only to help Assad, but to support and advise military security forces.”
At number 6, the New York Times reveals Chinese hackers have been attacking their website.
In a report, the Times says the hackers allegedly attack computer systems and acquire passwords used by reporters and employees.
Security experts say the hackers used methods associated with the Chinese military in the past.
The report says the attacks coincided with the Times’ article on former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
Published online on Oct. 25, 2012, the story reported how relatives of Wen Jiabao accumulated a billion-dollar fortune through business dealings.
And at number 7, The lavish funeral of Cambodia's revered former king Norodom Sihanouk begins February 1.
Officials expect more than a million mourners to crowd Phnom Penh's streets.
The body of the late monarch, who died of a heart attack in October, will be paraded through the city on a golden float, from the Royal Palace to an ornate crematorium in a city park.
A father of 14 children over 6 marriages, Sihanouk abdicated in 2004 after steering Cambodia through 6 decades.
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|