Today on Rappler.
Story 1: MORO WATCHDOG GETS COMELEC NOD
The Commission on Elections accredits a Moro watchdog as a citizen arm for the 2013 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
C-Care, or the Citizens' Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, was already accredited in previous elections.
This is the first time the country holds ARMM elections alongside national and local polls.
Poll watchdogs closely watch ARMM as a place where rampant cheating happens.
Earlier, the Comelec already accredited 3 citizens' arms: the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections, and One Vote.
Story 2: PROBE AQUINO 'GIVEAWAYS,' COMELEC ASKED
Activists file an appeal before the Commission on Elections Wednesday to investigate President Benigno Aquino.
The groups say Aquino used government funds to campaign for the administration ticket.
In a letter to Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes, the groups slam Aquino for --quote-- allegedly distributing Philhealth cards and rice to residents in Bohol last February 14 -- the same day opposition group United Nationalist Alliance held its Bohol sortie.
The groups say the distribution should have been done before the election period by public health officials, not the President and his allies.
In a statement last Thursday, Philhealth says the allegation is "grossly inaccurate," and that the cards “were local government-initiated health cards.”
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda says the cards were given to beneficiaries of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a gesture of good will.
The Omnibus Election Code prohibits the use of public funds for an election campaign.
Story 3: JAMBY'S IPAD CONTROVERSY A 'GOOD THING'
Former Senator Jun Magsaysay is confident fellow Team PNoy senatorial bet Jamby Madrigal will not be disqualified for supposed illegal campaigning when she offered iPads as prizes on social media.
Magsaysay says the controversy it generated is quote-- a "good thing" because it allows Comelec to define what is allowed and not allowed during the campaign.
He says --quote, "I'm sure she will apologize. It's incidental that it's Jamby."
In a statement Tuesday, Madrigal apologizes to the poll body.
She says her social media pages are run by youth volunteers who saw nothing wrong with the post.
Comelec vows to regulate campaigning on both broadcast media and the Internet.
Former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros calls on the Comelec to review its rules on online campaigning.
She says --quote, "The earlier intent of Comelec to regulate campaigning on the Internet needs wider consultation and consensus building among netizens."
Story 4: UNA: WHY CRITICIZE EX-PRESIDENTS?
United Nationalist Alliance’s leaders were once the most vocal critics of former President Gloria Arroyo.
But in her turf, UNA’s senatorial bets are silent on her alleged sins and slams the administration’s tack of criticizing Arroyo.
Ayee Macaraig files this video blog.
Welcome to the so-called Arroyo country.
The coalition President Aquino brands as the allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo campaigns here in Pampanga, the home province of the president-turned-detained congresswoman.
The opposition UNA opens its Central Luzon campaign here, visiting Angeles City, Mabalacat, Magalang and the capital San Fernando.
UNA's senatorial candidates tell her cabalens there is no point criticizing her and focusing on the past.
Their message is national unity and addressing gut issues.
They take a swipe at the ruling Liberal Party, and its penchant of bashing Arroyo.
The former president seeks reelection in the 2nd district
Pampanga has over 1.2 million voters.
But is this really an Arroyo bailiwick?
Even UNA is divided.
Resigned Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri says there's a sympathy vote for the former President.
Some voters we talked to also say Arroyo remains a factor after all the services she gave Kapampangans.
But Nancy Binay points out both President Aquino and Mar Roxas won here in 2010.
Whatever the case is, UNA is bent on courting the Pampanga vote, not just by campaigning but possibly clinching an alliance with Arroyo ally Governor Lilia Pineda and her local Kambilan party.
So is this an opposition bailiwick?
That's something UNA has to work on and only voters can determine.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Pampanga.
Story 5: CAN LP BEAT THE GARCIAS IN CEBU?
Team PNoy continues its campaign rallies in vote-rich Cebu province.
Today, they make a stop at Liloan town - an area that supported suspended Governor Gwendolyn Garcia in the 2010 elections.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
In it's opening salvo in Cebu, Team PNoy jumps from one small gym to another.
HILARIO 'JUNJUN' DAVIDE III, LP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: There's a distinction. Yung rally ng UNA that was the proclamation rally, that was the start of campaign period for senator. kahapon was part of the regular sorties of team pnoy candidate.
In spite of these small rallies, the Liberal Party is confident it will win Cebu province.
CARMELA FONBUENA, REPORTING: This is Liloan town of the 5th district of vote-rich Cebu province - the district that junked in 2010 defeated Liberal Party guberantorial candidate Junjun Davide.
This district gave suspended governor Gwendolyn Garcia all of about 80,000 of her total 96,341 lead in the final tally.
Three years later, Junjun Davide returns to the gubernatorial race confident that the story will be different.
The Durano clan that controls the 5th district and delivered votes for Garcia are now his allies.
RED DURANO, CEBU 5TH DISTRICT REP: You're in office not for yourself but for your constituents. It's a big advantage if you're in administration. They're the ones in power who can give benefits to your constituents.
Eyes on the goal. Team PNoy's opening salvo in Cebu may be underwhelming. but the Liberal Party vows to come back hopefully with a bigger crowd.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Cebu
Story 6: NDF: NPA RAID A WARNING TO PLANTATIONS
A spokesman for the National Democratic Front says the raids launched by New People's Army guerrillas in Bukidnon Tuesday evening are punitive actions against plantations.
The rebels say these plantations destroyed agricultural lands.
NDF-Mindanao spokesman Jorge Madlos says the attacks are prompted by the demands of farmers whose ancestral lands were quote--"seized and despoiled" by multinational corporations.
In coordinated attacks, rebels storm the offices of Del Monte and Dole Philippines, killing one security guard and injuring two others.
Story 7: STRONG PESO A THREAT TO LONG-TERM GROWTH
The FMIC and UA&P Capital Markets Research Center calls on the government to watch out for the impact of a strong peso.
In a report released Wednesday, the center says the appreciation of the peso is a threat to attaining long-term economic growth for the Philippines.
It adds, the strong peso poses a 'serious threat' to exports, Overseas Filipino Worker remittances, and the Business Process Outsourcing industry.
The 3 sectors collectively comprise 80% of the Philippine economy.
In January, the Central Bank says it will consider dollar-borrowing to tame the peso's appreciation.
Story 8: HACKING REPORT SHOWS PH RISK
The report by US security firm Mandiant on a possible China-based hacking operation shows the Philippines may also be at risk.
Mandiant also has a YouTube video showing one of the hacking profiles called DOTA logging into the user’s email account.
A voiceover explains the hackers’ entry into the account.
Here we see DOTA logging in to one of his operational email accounts. The inbox show confirmation emails for additional accounts that DOTA created as well as bounces and nondelivery receipts for spearfishing messages, most of which seem to be focused on military exercises in the Philippines.
The Chinese government dismisses the hacking allegations as groundless.
Last year, various Philippine government websites fell victim to various hacking attacks, supposedly by cybercrime law protesters.
Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 2, South African Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius returns to court Wednesday facing a tough fight to win bail.
Prosecutors flesh out charges Pistorius deliberately gunned down his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day.
During a hearing, Pistorius tearfully denies the premeditated murder, telling a court he shot Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door, believing she was an intruder.
At number 4, Thieves in Belgium pull off a diamond heist at the Brussels International Airport, stealing approximately 50 million dollars worth of precious stones.
Prosecutors call it the biggest diamond theft in recent years.
Armed men broke through a hole in the airport security gate and took the cargo from airport personnel at gunpoint.
The ease at which the heist took place raised questions about security measures at Brussels airport.
At number 7, Scientists discover a massive 200-kilometer impact zone in the Australian outback they believe was caused by an asteroid that smashed into Earth more than 300 million years ago.
A visiting fellow at the Australian National University says the asteroid, measuring 10 to 20 kilometres in diameter, was a giant compared to the plunging meteor which exploded above Russia a weeks ago.
Its size, he says --quote “makes it about the third biggest anywhere in the world."
And at number 9, HTC unveils a new flagship smartphone Thursday.
Dubbed the HTC One, the Android phone sports a 4.7-inch full HD screen.
It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM.
One of the phone’s key features is its UltraPixel Camera, which uses advanced imaging technology to deliver better quality pictures.
HTC has yet to announce a price.
No Philippine carrier has been designated for the smartphone's March launch.
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|