Rappler Newscast | June 20, 2012

Paranaque Bishop Jesse Mercado denies diverting millions in Church donations meant for calamity victims. | US State Department says despite efforts, the Philippines hasn't done enough to fight human trafficking. | Comedy King Dolphy is in very critical condition.


Today on Rappler.

  • Paranaque Bishop Jesse Mercado denies diverting millions in Church donations meant for calamity victims.
  • The US State Department says despite efforts, the Philippines hasn’t done enough to fight human trafficking.
  • And, Comedy King Dolphy is in very critical condition..  

Complaints against Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado reach the Vatican.
He is being accused of allegedly diverting funds meant for calamity victims.
We brought you that exclusive story Monday.
Now the bishop speaks up in his defense.
Rappler’s Paterno Esmaquel reports.
Paranaque Bishop Jesse Mercado denies accusations he diverted millions in Church donations meant for calamity victims to a high yield account.
Mercado claims the funds are properly accounted for, and admits some funds were added to what he calls a “calamity fund”.

BISHOP JESSE MERCADO: All donations are properly receipted and promptly turned over to their intended beneficiaries. In urgent cases, for example, Ondoy and Sendong, the diocese even advanced the amounts even before the second collections were mandated.
In an exclusive report, Rappler shows records of millions of supposedly unremitted funds. These include an unremitted 1.3-million pesos from 1.6-million collected for victims of tropical storm Ondoy in 2009. For fire victims in 2010, records show 129,000 pesos in donations were entirely unremitted.
Mercado, however, refuses to give Rappler receipts of donations and disbursements. He engages in a heated exchange with Rappler’s Aries Rufo. 

RUFO: So when I will request for all the receipts of the donations and the disbursements, you will give it to me?
MERCADO: That depends. What for? Why are you asking for that?
RUFO: You’re challenging the story that it’s not true. So if I will ask for all the donations received for all the calamity victims and all the disbursements, will you be able to give it to me?
MERCADO: I think we have the right to ask also. Why?
RUFO: For publication.
MERCADO: What for?
RUFO: For transparency.
MERCADO: What for? What for? What for?
RUFO: For transparency.
MERCADO: Are we required to present it to you? Why are we required to present it to you?
RUFO: Are you telling me that you won’t give it to me?
MERCADO: No, I’m not telling you that. But why are you asking for it?
RUFO: For transparency, bishop.
MERCADO: What do you mean by transparency? Do you need to be transparent to you?
RUFO: That’s the issue within your diocesee – financial transparency
MERCADO: My answer is, we can be transaprent. We have people and…
RUFO: Can you just make a categorical statement that you will give the doucments to me?
MERCADO: It depends. I have the right to ask, why do you want it?

The bishop also denies receiving an interview request on Rappler’s exclusive. He says the request he got was for an interview on the natural family planning program.

MERCADO: We referred you to the chairman of the diocesan commission on family and life. I don’t know if you contacted the chairman or not.
RUFO: That’s a lie, bishop. Who told you that?
MERCADO: Office, the office. You were saying that you wanted to interview.  
RUFO: Yes. I’ve been trying to call you and emailed you. You haven’t answered.
MERCADO: Because I felt that you were talking about natural family planning.
(Mercado’s phone rings because Rufo calls)
RUFO: So you’re admitting that I was able to contact you, in the same way that I’m trying to call your cellphone right now, and you haven’t answered.

Mercado also blames disgruntled priests for accusations against him.
MERCADO: I have to admit it is sad because somehow, some of them are presented by our priests. We could have done this by talking together. I think there are some priests who are desperate.

Mercado says he’s willing to step down if proven guilty by the Vatican.

Despite significant efforts in fighting human trafficking…
The US State Department says the Philippines has not done enough.
In its “Trafficking in Persons Report”…
the Philippines remains in Tier 2 of the 3-tier system.
Tier 2 countries quote — “do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act…
but are making significant efforts to bring themselves to comply with those standards.”
The report says “The Philippines is a source country…
and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country…
for sex trafficking and forced labor.”
Despite efforts to comply, one gray spot for the Philippine government is the failure to make progress in prosecuting illegal recruiters.
The Philippines was also ranked Tier 2 in 2011.
It was downgraded to the Tier 2 Watchlist category in 2010.
The Philippine government welcomes the assessment.
Vice President Jejomar Binay says quote — “Under President Benigno Aquino III’s leadership and in a span of two years, we have exceeded what the previous administration had accomplished in 5 years.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says, at the unveiling of the report…
up to 27 million people are living in slavery around the world.
Human trafficking takes many guises, and is not just about moving people across borders to trap them in prostitution.
It can be someone who remains in her own country but is kept in forced labor, and denied the right to leave.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo believes Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani is still with the Abu Sayyaf, and has not been kidnapped.
Robredo wants him deported once he resurfaces. He also wants Atyani banned from entering the Philippines in the future.
The DILG chief says, Atyani went to Sulu to interview the Abu Sayyaf leadership without informing authorities and refused offers of a security detail.
Robredo adds, Atyani and his two Filipino crew members are “somewhere in Patikul” Sulu in the custody of Abu Sayyaf leader Nadzmir Alih, but — are not being held against their will.
Atyani, aged 43, is the bureau chief for Southeast Asia of the Al Arabiya News Channel.
He met with Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden…
and Ayman al-Zawahiri near Kandahar, Afghanistan in June 2001, months before 9/11.

The Civil Aeronautics Board or CAB issues a directive suspending previous orders meant to address consumer complaints on overbooking and no-refund rules.
CAB says plans to temporarily address the complaints are postponed to shift focus on ironing out the Passenger bill of rights.
Public hearings will be conducted to give all stakeholders a chance to participate in crafting the bill.
In a text message, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla says -quote- the bill will be issued soon.

Former Senator Rene Saguisag declines his nomination for the post of chief justice, citing his age.
In a statement emailed to the Judicial and Bar Council, Saguisag says he is already 72, past the mandatory retirement age of 70, for Supreme Court justices.
Saguisag says he had turned down several nominations for the SC.
He was appointed to the high court in 1987 by then President Corazon Aquino, but he declined.
So far, 11 nominees, none of them Supreme Court justices, accepted their nominations.
They include De La Salle law dean Jose Manuel Diokno…
Commission on Elections official Rene Sarmiento…
former executive secretary Ronaldo Zamora…
retired Judge Manuel Siyangco Jr…
former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva…
University of the Philippines professors Katrina Legarda and Rafael Morales…
and former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan.
In related news, all 14 SC magistrates have been nominated for the post of Chief Justice.
Of the 14, Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Mariano Del Castillo have declined their nominations.

Senator Koko Pimentel faces the tough choice of parting ways with an old ally or staying and compromising his principles.
Rappler’s Ayee Macaraig reports on the complicated choices and friendships in Philippine politics.
“It’s complicated” is how Senator Koko Pimentel describes his relationship with the United Nationalist Alliance.
Pimentel is in the process of deciding whether or not to leave UNA over the inclusion of resigned Senator Migz Zubiri in its senatorial slate for 2013.
But even before Facebook popularized the status Pimentel admits he has long been “in a relationship” with his party, PDP-Laban.
It’s actually a 30-year-old relationship he inherited from his father, Former Senator Nene Pimentel… and mentor, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The ties are rooted in the anti-Marcos movement when two parties – Pimentel’s PDP and Senator Ninoy Aquino’s Laban, entered a political marriage in 1982.
Jojo was a minor player at that time, bata pa si Jojo noon, dito sa Metro Manila politics. But Jojo incidentally was very active already, meron kaming lawyers noon eh, Mabini ang tawag and I was also although I was in Mindanao, I was a member of Mabini
Since then, Binay and Pimentel never PARTED WAYS.
During Cory Aquino’s presidency, then interior and local government minister Pimentel was instrumental in installing Binay as OIC mayor of Makati launching his political career.
When original Laban members broke into factions, Binay stuck it out with PDP-Laban.
Even without the power, money and numbers of bigger parties… PDP-Laban endures thanks to the ties of its two stalwarts.
One of the jokes that they have is you can fit in the PDP-Laban inside a beetle, a beetle car or that PDP-Laban, one running joke also is that PDP-Laban can afford to hold its party convention in the most expensive 5-star hotel in Manila because all they need is one table.
When the elder Pimentel retired from politics in 201 Binay founded the Pimentel Center for Local Governance to help him to continue his advocacy.
Just last February the Pimentels and Binays celebrated the 30th anniversary of PDP-Laban, their political alliance and friendship.
But with Koko Pimentel thinking of leaving Binay’s new coalition will he change the status to single? UNA hopes not… but his father says he’s ready to stand by his son.
The vice president considers Sen Koko as a son, no less.
Even relationships of that kind, mayroong hangganan. Ang hangganan doon when principles get trounced by practicality, di ko na tatanggapin yun. Whatever his son’s decision will be the former senator says one thing is sure: he will never totally “unfriend” Binay.
I wish him well… no matter what happens.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.

Story 7: THE wRap

Let’s now look at Rappler’s “wRap” for today…
a list of the 10 most important events around the world you shouldn’t miss.
At number 1, Leaders of the world’s largest economies end talks in Mexico on the second and last day of the G20 Summit.
The leaders affirm their commitment to strong sustainable and balanced growth as the top priority of the G20.
The leaders also agree to put up a united front behind efforts to repair an ailing global economy, and call on Europe to take measures to overcome the eurozone debt crisis.
At number 4, Pakistan’s Supreme Court declares Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ineligible to hold office, following his refusal to re-open a corruption case against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
At number 7, In a last ditch effort to fight his extradition, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange seeks political asylum in Ecuador.
Last week, the British Supreme Court dismissed Assange’s last ditch effort to prevent his extradition.
A case of sexual misconduct was filed by two former employees against Assange in Sweden.
He fears he will be handed over to US authorities who will then charge him for leaking confidential US diplomatic cables on his website.
At number 8, Miami Heat is now just one win away from taking home the 2012 NBA Championship
after fending off Oklahoma City Thunder in their 104 to 98 victory in Game 4 of their best of 7 series.
Oklahoma will have to win the remaining 3 games to nail the championship.
No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3 to 1 deficit to take the crown.
And at number 9, A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that Asian Americans have overtaken Latinos as the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, fueled largely by the steady stream of immigrants to the US annually.
In 2010, 36% of new US immigrants were Asian. The study also shows that Asian Americans are also the best educated and the highest-income racial group.
Broken down further, Chinese Americans at 23% are the largest Asian immigrant group closely followed by Filipinos, 20%.

For the full top 10 visit Rappler.com’s ‘the wRap.’

Actor Eric Quizon says his father Dolphy is in very critical condition
Known as the King of Comedy, Dolphy, Rodolfo Quizon Sr. in real life, is an icon of Philippine movies and TV. Dolphy is 84.
Eric says his father was breathing on his own for 6 hours Monday but they had to put him back on the respirator.
He says they can no longer speak with Dolphy but he responds to whatever they say.
The Comedy King is now under 24 hours observation.
The younger Quizon says Dolphy was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD 5 years ago.
COPD is a progressive disease that makes breathing difficult.
Quizon says his fathers condition can change anytime.

PAGASA says Tropical Storm Carina, International name Talim, now 440 kilometers north northwest of Basco, Batanes, is about to enter the Philippines.
In its 5PM bulletin, the weather agency says Northern and Central Luzon will experience occasional rains which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.  
Aside from Talim, PAGASA also spots another low pressure area 750 kilometers east of Eastern Visayas.
The rest of the country will be partly cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.
No public storm warning signals raised.

We leave you with images from the Rappler Documentary: The falling sky.