July 3, 2014 Edition

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  1. Ombudsman probes officials linked to DAP

    Photo from the Office of the Ombudsman website

    After the Supreme Court ruled that 3 actions under the Aquino government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) are unconstitutional, the Ombudsman said it will begin its probe into officials who were behind such violations. DAP is a program initiated in 2011 by the Aquino administration to boost the economy by transferring unused funds for slow-disbursing projects to fast-disbursing ones. The transfer of funds from one government branch to another is unconstitutional, according to the High Court. Critics have called on Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to resign for initiating and implementing DAP. Some have also said this is an impeachable offense against President Benigno Aquino III.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Justice laments shrinking judiciary budget

    One would think the Supreme Court has the final say on fiscal issues – given its recent big decisions on how the government has been using, or missing, taxpayers’ money. But the Philippines’ highest court remains at the mercy of its co-equal branches in government for its yearly budget. Despite the Aquino administration’s early promise to help reform the judiciary, it continued to put the judiciary in the category of the least-funded government institutions, getting less than one percent of the total budget pie. SC Justice Marvic Leonen, an appointee of Aquino, noted that while the judiciary’s budget from 2011 to 2014 rose in absolute terms, it has not actually increased in percentage terms in the context of the entire government budget. In fact, it even decreased in 2014 in percentage terms, constituting only 0.82% of the P2.265 trillion ($US51.5 billion) national budget for the year.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. Marcoses plan Malacañang comeback

    Francis R. Malasig/EPA

    Nearly 3 decades since they were ousted from power in a bloodless revolt, the Marcos family is planning a comeback through a likely presidential bid of the dictator’s son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. His mother Imelda, who turned 85 in July 2, dropped hints at this during a party hosted for her in Marcos’ hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte. She insisted that Bongbong Marcos, who’s now senator, was “qualified” to contest the presidency in May 2016 when incumbent Benigno Aquino III, son of the Marcoses’ top political foes, ends his six-year term. “(Returning to) Malacañang would be a great help,” in implementing her projects, Mrs Marcos said.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Support for radical groups declining – polls

    Al-Furqan Media/AFP

    Fears about Islamic extremism are rising in nations with large Muslim populations from the Middle East to South Asia and support for radical groups is on the slide. This is according to a Pew Research Center poll released July 1 in the wake of rising extremism in Syria and Nigeria. The group interviewed more than 14,200 people in 14 countries from April 10 to May 25, before the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – now renamed the Islamic State – took over the northern Iraqi town of Mosul in a lightning offensive which has seen it seize a large swathe of territory. The survey showed extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and even Hamas, which won elections to take control of running the Gaza Strip, are also losing support.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. July 9 election: Final campaign days in Indonesia

    Indonesian voters go through the last stages of a presidential election campaign that has deeply divided them. The election on July 9 will only be the 3rd time that Indonesians are going to directly elect their president. Pemilu 2014, or the 2014 election in Indonesia, pits against each other two starkly different figures who offer different futures for the largest country and economy in Southeast Asia: Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. The results of the election will have repercussions across the region. Rappler is Indonesia to cover the election.

    Catch Rappler’s live updates from Indonesia on Rappler.

  6. China wants to boost economic ties with PH

    Jay Directo/AFP

    It’s time to strengthen the weak economic links between the Philippines and China, Beijing’s envoy to Manila said, noting that the Philippines has been investing more in China than the other way around. “It is imperative and essential that the two countries focus (on) things that can unite us, focus on things that can promote common prosperity for both countries,” ambassador Zhao Jianhua told Filipino businessmen in a recent speech. The speech did not dwell on the maritime dispute between both countries. Instead Zhao said the economic ties between China and Southeast Asia has lagged behind those between the Asian giant and other regions. Total bilateral trade last year reached $16.39 billion, making mainland China the Philippines’ number 3 trading partner.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Will House suspend Gloria Arroyo?

    The House of Representatives is not about to immediately implement a court order suspending former Philippine president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a result of graft charges filed against her. “We’re studying the precedents,” said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Rappler research shows there are at least 4 precedents in the last 44 years. In these cases, except for one, all the suspensions were ordered by the Sandiganbayan, and in all those cases, the House of Representatives put its foot down and said only the House could suspend its own members. The graft case against Arroyo is in connection with the botched government broadband NBN-ZTE deal, which accusers said was approved after public officials received bribes. Ms Arroyo is under hospital arrest for graft and plunder charges and has asked once again the court to allow her to post bail.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read the full story on Arroyo’s bail petition on Rappler.

  8. UN seeks to temper Ebola scare

    Photo by AFP/Cellou Binani

    The highly-contagious tropical bug can be stopped. The United Nations (UN) reassured west Africa on July 2 that the world’s deadliest-ever Ebola epidemic could be stopped in its tracks, telling the region’s health ministers: “We can handle this.” The bug has infected hundreds of people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, with the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures showing confirmed or suspected cases had left 467 people dead. Medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, said that the spread of the virus, which has had a mortality rate of up to 90% in previous outbreaks, was “out of control,” with more than 60 outbreak hotspots. WHO has warned that Ebola could spread to other countries, warning those hardest hit could struggle to contain the disease.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. NASA launches satellite to track carbon dioxide


    A satellite designed to track a greenhouse gas that’s responsible for global warming was launched July 2 – a boon to NASA after two failed bids to launch Earth science spacecraft in 2009 and 2011. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 is now a part of the A-Train, a constellation of five other international Earth-observing satellites. Its mission lasts two years and aims to provide the most detailed picture to date of natural sources of carbon dioxide – where it is coming from and where it gets absorbed on the Earth’s surface. Human activities, like the burning of oil and coal, send nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, according to the US space agency.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Undocumented Filipinos: The way ahead

    On July 3, Rappler talked to Pulitzer Prize winning-journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, immigration lawyer Rio Guerrero and TED Aspire speaker and young undocumented Filipino American Akiko Aspillaga about the complicated, everyday reality of being undocumented immigrants in the United States. Latest reports show there are at least 300,000 Filipinos living in the US without proper documentation. Despite the US Senate passing the biggest overhaul of immigration reform legislation in July 2013, the US House of Representatives has yet to move on any reform legislation, leaving 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US frustrated. What lies ahead?

    Watch #TalkThursday on Rappler.

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