Rappler Newscast | November 23, 2012

For the first time, the ARMM government holds a ceremony to remember the 58 people killed in the Maguindanao massacre. President Aquino tells Philippine media to improve their standards and address corruption in their ranks. The Philippines may overshoot the government’s growth target of 5% to 6% for 2012.

Today on Rappler.

  • For the first time, the ARMM government holds a ceremony to remember the 58 people killed in the Maguindanao massacre. 
  • President Aquino tells Philippine media to improve their standards and address corruption in their ranks.
  • The Philippines may overshoot the government’s growth target of 5% to 6% for 2012.

For the first time, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao officially commemorates the Maguindanao massacre.
On Friday, ARMM OIC Gov. Mujiv Hataman organizes a ceremony to remember the 58 people killed three years ago in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.
Employees of the ARMM government and Cotabato City media wear black and hold a moment of silence to remember the dead.
Hataman says the event is meant to raise awareness of human right violations.
He adds, “Better late than never. It is the obligation of those from ARMM to reflect on this.”
No one has been convicted for what the Committee to Protect Journalists calls the single deadliest event for journalists in history.

Government lawyers have yet to decide if they will challenge a Supreme Court ruling banning the live coverage of the Maguindanao massacre trial.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says prosecutors are divided whether to ask the Court to reconsider its earlier ruling.
On October 23, the Supreme Court grants the motion of former Maguindanao Gov Andal Ampatuan Sr, one of the principal suspects in the case.
Ampatuan sought a reversal of an earlier court decision that allowed live coverage of the trial.
He says live coverage violates his right to presumption of innocence and equal protection of the law.
De Lima says she and President Benigno Aquino want the trial to be aired live.
De Lima says, “With the people watching the trial, the players will be more careful.”

President Benigno Aquino calls on journalists to improve their standards and clean up the industry.
Aquino faces media executives during the Media Nation 9 summit Friday, the third anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre.
The president says the media needs to establish consistent standards and address corruption in their ranks.
He adds, “The lack of standards … [makes] it easier for corruption to take place.”
The president did not discuss the issue of the Freedom of Information Act in his speech.
Despite an earlier promise, Aquino did not push for the approval of the act, which mandates government agencies to make documents accessible to the public.

Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug talks about corruption in the media.
Here’s her video blog.

In the past, it was taboo to talk about corruption in our ranks. It was a secret that was kept because media organizations were supposed to be untouchable.
Thankfully, this has changed. Recently, 4 columnists who wrote identical columns opposing the sin tax were exposed. They appeared to be copying from a common source, quotes and all.
When a member of this “quartet” was asked why this happened, one of them said they play golf regularly and share materials.
A former PR staff of a conglomerate told me that he used to write column feeds. These are inputs given to columnists who accept payments.
In return, they support government policies that will benefit it, using material prepared by the PR staff.
These feeds are also used to demolish enemies of the corporation, for example, those who advocate legislation inimical to its interest.
Corruption is a never-ending problem in the media. These take many forms, including accepting bribes, doing PR work, and soliciting favors.
Steps have been taken to stop this toxic disease. Corrupt journalists have been fired. Codes of conducts have been strictly implemented.
But not all media organizations are cleaning up.
To fight corruption, we should be accountable just as we demand accountability from the people we cover.
This is long overdue.

Philippine economic growth this year may overshoot the government’s target of 5% to 6%, on strong domestic consumption and recovery of exports.
Local think tank Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis or IDEA says strong domestic consumption and some recovery in the export sector will lead to a gross domestic product growth of 5.4% to 6.5% in 2012.
With the high growth expectation, IDEA says Philippine growth may slow down in 2013 and 2014.
It projects a growth of between 4.7% and 6% for next year, and 4.6% to 5.9% for 2014.

Faced with attendance problems in the House of Representatives, the principal author of the Reproductive Health bill appeals to lawmakers supporting the controversial measure to show up in the remaining 12 days of session.
In the last 3 weeks since Congress resumed session, House members were able to muster a quorum only once.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman sends a letter of appeal to -quote “over a hundred co-authors and another group of several dozens of confirmed advocates and supporters” claiming  together, they constitute “a clear majority” in the 283-member House.
Lagman describes the RH law as “an anchor for the government’s pro-poor, pro-women, pro-health and pro-development agenda.”
It has been 3 months since the House of Representatives ended debates on the measure.

The Commission on Elections accredits the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting or PPCRV as its citizens’ arm for the 2013 elections.
The poll body cites PPCRV’s -quote “track record as one of the commission’s staunch allies in ensuring clean, orderly, peaceful, and honest elections.”
It also says the Catholic group has an “established” membership and structure nationwide.
Comelec says PPCRV will serve as poll watchdogs in various precincts, assist voters on election day and assist the Comelec in information and education drives.
The PPCRV was also Comelec’s citizen arm in the 2010 elections.

The Philippine government gets access to Filipino-born US permanent resident Ralph Kenneth De Leon, who is detained in California for his alleged involvement in a foiled terror plot.
De Leon and 3 others are charged with “conspiring to provide material support to terrorists” who plan to attack targets in the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Palestine.
Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr says the embassy is gathering more information on the alleged terror plot and ensuring De Leon’s rights are protected.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle will become a cardinal of the Catholic Church on Saturday, November 24, along with 5 other non-European prelates.
Pope Benedict the sixteenth will appoint them as cardinals in an unexpected second consistory within the year.
It is a move welcomed by critics concerned the body which will elect the future pope is too Eurocentric.
Observers consider Tagle a potential papal contender.
In less than a year as head of one of Asia’s most influential archdioceses, Tagle has had a prominent voice in the global Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI, writing under his own name Joseph Ratzinger, publishes the third and last volume of his biography of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives,” goes on sale in 50 countries Wednesday, and will be published in 9 languages.
It clears up some persistent Christian myths.
Ratzinger’s work on the book began in 2003 when he was still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The book says Jesus Christ was actually born several years earlier than stipulated in the Christian calendar because the monk who drew it up got his math wrong.
There were also no donkeys or oxen present in the stable where Christ was born.
“The gospel makes no mention of animals,” Ratzinger writes, but reassures the animals are now part of Christian iconography.
Benedict also intervenes in the debate over where Jesus was born, rejecting arguments by some scholars that Jesus was born in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.
Benedict said he would not hesitate to become the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign willingly in more than 700 years if necessary.
Critics accused him of dedicating more time to his books than to his papal tasks.
The book is signed “Joseph Ratzinger Benedict XVI”, meaning it is an academic work rather than papal dogma.

At number 3, Fresh from his recent success in brokering the truce agreement between Israel and Gaza, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gives himself new powers that will prevent courts from overturning any decree he made since assuming office last June.
These powers will exist until a new constitution is put in place.
Morsi’s political rivals say the President gives himself executive, legislative and judiciary powers.
On Twitter, former presidential aspirant Khaled Ali calls it, “the birth of a new dictator.”

At number 7, Royal Opera House’s Tony Hall joins the British Broadcasting Corporation as its new director general.
Hall’s appointment comes after a 10-day emergency selection process.
Hall says “it’s been a difficult few weeks for this organization” but says he is confident that “together we’ll get through it.”
Hall also says he plans “to build a world-class team for this world-class organization”.
His predecessor, George Entwistle resigned over the BBC’s reporting of child sex abuse.

At number 8, A male dolphin transferred from the Philippines to a marine park in Singapore dies during its flight Thursday.
WenWen, a 10 year old bottle nose dolphin, and 25 other dolphins were transferred to the SEA Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark in Singapore.
The park, set to open next year, is touted as the world’s largest with 100,000 marine animals.
Wildlife activists in both Singapore and the Philippines fought to stop the transfer.

And at number 9, After more than a decade of being on world maps, the world coastline database, and being visible via Google Earth – researchers from Sydney discover that Sandy Island in the Coral Sea off Australia does not exist.
Geologists were on a 25-day expedition when they realized the island was on their route.
A crew member says, “We decided to actually sail through the island…lo and behold there was nothing! There’s an island in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t actually exist.”
The president of the British Society of Cartographers says the case of Sandy Island is probably due to human error but says there’s a possibility the island may actually exist somewhere nearby.

The Philippine Azkals announce their final line-up for the 2012 Suzuki Cup – Southeast Asia’s World Cup.
The 22-man squad features national team mainstays like Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado, and Phil and James Younghusband.
Notably absent from the selection is first choice keeper Neil Etheridge, who was not cleared by his club, Bristol Rovers, to play in the tournament.
The Suzuki Cup was the team’s springboard towards national recognition when they reached the semifinals in 2010, before bowing to Indonesia on an aggregate score of two goals to nil.
The tournament begins Saturday in Bangkok with the Philippines taking on Thailand.
The Azkals know they are no longer underdogs, but they also know what is at stake, and they’re up for the challenge.

CHRIS GREATWICH, MIDFIELDER, PH NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM: We’ve played a lot of Southeast Asian teams so the surprise element is obviously kind of out the window in comparison to what we had two years ago. But with the guys in the squad, obviously I expect us to do pretty well.

Filipinos in Hong Kong struggle against a rule that grants residency status to foreigners but not to maids.
Devon Wong reports.

For forty years, Mely worked as a domestic worker in Hong Kong. Today, she is 76.
In 2 years, Mely intends to finally move back to the Philippines.
She is one of the first Filipina domestic workers employed in Hong Kong.
But Mely and other domestic workers still aren’t considered “ordinary residents” under Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

ROWENA DELA CRUZ, DOMESTIC WORKER: We find it discriminatory. We also contribute to the economy of Hong Kong, but we are not included in the right to vote.

The Hong Kong constitution states that a foreigner can apply for permanent residency after living in Hong Kong for 7 years, but domestic workers are specifically excluded.
Unlike other foreign residents, domestic workers cannot vote and access public services.
So while Mely continues to spend the majority of her time in Hong Kong, she can only cast a vote in a country she hasn’t lived in since the 70’s.
Last year, a long-time domestic worker named Evangeline Vallejos challenged the rule barring maids from permanent residency status and won in a landmark ruling.
The government won on appeal and the case is now with Hong Kong’s highest court.
In the meantime, overseas Filipino workers rely on self-organized services.
If the ruling is overturned, nearly 120,000 current and former domestic workers will be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
Until then, domestic workers like Mely are lobbying the Hong Kong government, hoping one day they’ll be more than silent foreigners in their county of employment.
Devon Wong, Hong Kong, Rappler.

Singaporeans react to a survey saying they are the world’s most emotionless people.
A Gallup survey conducted in more than 150 countries shows only 36 percent of Singaporeans report experiencing emotions on a daily basis.
Many say the city state’s competitive culture leaves them no room for feelings.
A commenter writes on Yahoo: “We have everything, and yet we have nothing. No one in this country actually lives life to the fullest; we merely exist.”
But one comments on Twitter, “How can Singaporeans be the most emotionless in the world when they complain the most every day? I’m baffled.”


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