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- More control measures on PDAF, incriminating photos with lawmakers?
The Aquino administration is looking at the possible accreditation system for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that will seek funding from lawmakers’ pork barrel. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad says a tighter watch on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen is needed. The pork barrel scam recently hit the headlines involving solons from the opposition and administration. In involves solons’ PDAFs being released by implementing agencies to bogus NGOs and foundations supposedly favored by the lawmakers. In exchange, the whistleblower said, the senators and congressmen get kickbacks from the NGOs.
The lawyer for busineswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the woman at the center of the expose, says Napoles is –quote– “not personally acquainted” with any of the lawmakers. The lawyer also acknowledges there may have been occasions that Napoles had her photo taken with some lawmakers but only for the sake of photo opportunities. Photos obtained by Rappler show Napoles parties with lawmakers, indicating she’s more than an acquaintance to them. In the photos, Napoles, the owner of the JLN Group of Companies, attends a party apparently hosted by Sen Jinggoy Estrada. A smiling Napoles is seen table-hopping and posing for the cameras. One of the photos shows 2 of Estrada’s friends — Sen Bong Revilla and actor Phillip Salvador — posing with Napoles. Estrada and Revilla are among 28 lawmakers tagged by whistleblowers as sources PDAF released to Napoles’ fake non-governmental organizations.
- DOST to use TV whitespace to bring Internet to 99% of PH by 2015
Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo predicts there will be 99% internet connectivity by 2015 if the DOST is able to harness TV whitespace. He says, “We’re looking at TV whitespace…This is very cost-effective at being able to reach out to unserved or underserved areas which don’t have the connectivity.“ Montejo adds the department also wants to improve connectivity to provide government services to rural areas. Montejo also says the government’s early warning system, Project Noah, is designed to show simulations in flood-prone areas. The project came about after Typhoon Sendong battered Mindanao in 2011. “It’s sometimes very hard to appreciate weather forecasts, what it can do. But if it’s in the form of maps, visual, they can now really appreciate what will happen…
What Project NOAH will be presenting is, say 6 hours from now, assuming there might be flood events, the area where there will be flooding, even the depth. People can now appreciate…where the flood will be.”
- Speeding seen as main suspect in Spain rail disaster
Speeding is the main suspect in a rail disaster in Spain that killed 80 people and left more than 140 injured last Wednesday July 24. One of the drivers told railway officials by radio shortly after the crash that the train had taken the bend at 190 kilometers an hour, unidentified investigation sources told El Pais newspaper. The speed limit in the urban zone around the city of Santiago de Compostela is 80 kilometers an hour. The train flew off the tracks on a curve late Wednesday as it was about to enter Santiago de Compostela station in the northwestern region of Galicia, causing carriages to pile into each other and overturn. But the International Union of Railways, says it is very likely that other factors played a role in the crash. Experts raised questions about the speed signaling system of the track. The high-speed rail track linking Ourense, Santiago de Compostela and La Coruna in Galicia is one of Spain’s newest, having been inaugurated in December 2011. Spain has made massive investments in road and rail links over the past decade and the country has the second-largest high-speed rail network in the world which spans 3,100 kilometers. Only China’s is larger.
- SAC Capital indicted for insider trading scheme
Is this a sign of stricter times to come? Federal authorities, under fire for lax oversight over Wall Street, is taking action. SAC Capital Advisors is one of Wall Street’s most successful firms, but it has also been the focus of government scrutiny the past decade because of its outsize trading. Now, federal authorities have made an unprecedented move, announcing criminal charges against the hedge fund on Thursday. That could threaten its survival. Federal prosecutors called SAC “a veritable magnet of market cheaters” and allege the firm and its units allowed “systematic” insider trading that earned hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for the firm owned by billionaire, Steven A.. Cohen. The indictment offers the most detailed account of how the firm works and shows executives may have known about – but failed to prevent – insider trading.
Read more on NY Times.
- Moody’s reviews PH for debt upgrade
Moody’s Investors Service says it’s likely to elevate the Philippine government’s debt rating to investment-grade, citing the country’s robust economic growth and political stability. Two other major credit rating agencies already upgraded the Philippines to investment grade this year. In a statement, the US ratings agency says it placed the Ba1 foreign and local currency long-term issuer and bond ratings of the Philippines on review for upgrade. The next-highest rating on its scale is “Baa3”, the lowest in the investment-grade ranks. The agency says the country’s economic performance exceeded Moody’s expectations. It credits the improvement to the reform agenda of the Aquino administration. Moody’s also says an upgrade could come if there is evidence the government’s debt burden will decrease and that investment spending will increase.
Read more on Rappler.
- Aquino ‘barely passing’ in poverty reduction
A new survey shows President Benigno Aquino gets a “barely passing” grade of 75% for his efforts in reducing poverty. In a Pulse Asia survey, only 3% of respondents give the president a 100% rating on reducing poverty, while 24% say Aquino “completely failed.” The rest of the respondents give Aquino a grade of barely passing, good, or very good. The President gets the best score, 80% or “good,” for managing the economy, with 5% giving Aquino a perfect score. The survey asks respondents to grade the President’s performance on 11 national issues. He gets a passing grade in all, but receives the lowest score on poverty reduction.
Read more on Rappler.
- Arctic methane breach an ‘economic time bomb’
Scientists warn a massive leak of methane from thawing shoreline in the Arctic could devastate the world’s climate and economy. Tons of the potent greenhouse gas are locked in the frozen shelf of the Arctic Ocean, which warms when summer sea ice retreats as a result of the greenhouse-gas effect. Scientists say if 50 billion tons of methane escaped over a decade from the floor of the East Siberian Sea, the release would “bring forward the date at which the global mean temperature rise exceeds two degrees Celsius by between 15 and 35 years.” One scientist describes the threat as an “invisible time bomb”. The damage to the climate system could be reflected in worse floods, droughts, storms and heat stress. Researchers say 80% of the effects would occur in poorer economies in Africa, Asia and South America.
Read more on Rappler.
- Mobile strategy pays off for Facebook
Facebook surprises Wall Street by showing it can make money from folks on smartphones and tablets. Following the beating that it took after its initial public offering, the social network’s stock prices skyrocketed following its latest financial report. In the quarter that ended June 30, revenue climbed to $1.81 billion, up 53% from the same period a year earlier. Facebook says 41% of its ad revenues came from mobile, compared with 30% in the prior quarter and virtually nothing a year ago. Facebook has made a priority of following its more than one billion members onto smartphones or tablets as lifestyles increasingly revolve around accessing the Internet from mobile devices.
- Robredo, Bag-ao: Empower, collaborate with NGOs for people power governance
Newly elected Camarines Sur representative Leni Robredo urges non-government organizations (NGOs) to collaborate with local governments. At a Wednesday forum by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), Robredo says the current relationship between the two is adversarial instead of collaborative, preventing them from working together to implement policies that favor both sectors. CODE presented successful case studies of local government units that adhered to a people-centered governance model. Robredo and Dinagat Rep Kaka Bag-ao stress the importance of institutionalizing people power governance at the national level. They say the government should create avenues that empower NGOs and people’s organizations.
Read more on Rappler.
- #RapplerNewscast goes to Davao
Rappler Newscast goes to the Philippines’ largest city.
On Friday, July 26, Rappler joins forces with #SHIFTDavao to deliver the nightly newscast at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City. #SHIFTDavao is the first-ever social media conference in Mindanao. Organized by Perry Lamanilao and two other partners, the one-day event on July 27 aims to educate a wider audience on proper social media practices. The #SHIFTDavao conference will be held at the Finster Auditorium, Ateneo de Davao University. Lamanilao says the idea behind the summit is to bring big ideas in social media to Davao’s tech-savvy residents. He says students and media practitioners from the Southern Philippines usually shoulder their own expenses to attend media conferences in Manila. Now, #SHIFTDavao is bringing the big names to the region. #SHIFTDavao’s speakers include Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Josh Villanueva, Yves Gonzalez of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Luke Meinzen of the US Embassy, Secretary Lucille Sering of the Philippine Climate Change Commission, Robert Shore of Frame Works, and Jaypee David of Globe Telecom. Follow live updates from #SHIFTDavao via Twitter and Rappler.
Read more on Rappler.