Today on Rappler.
- The Philippine economy grows 7.1% in the third quarter of 2012, the highest in Southeast Asia.
- The Philippines refuses to stamp Chinese passports with a map of disputed areas in the South China Sea.
- Senators Ralph Recto and Ferdinand Marcos Jr join the bicameral panel on the sin tax bill.
Story 1: PH GROWS 7.1% IN Q3, HIGHEST IN ASEAN
Exceeding economists’ expectations, the Philippine economy grows 7.1% in the third quarter of 2012, the highest in Southeast Asia.
On Wednesday, National Statistical Coordination Board Secretary-General Jose Ramon Albert says the growth is driven mainly by the services sector.
The third quarter growth is the fastest in Southeast Asia and the second fastest in Asia, next to China’s 7.7%.
It is also higher than economists’ forecast of 5.4%.
The third-quarter 2012 figure brings the 9-month average Philippine growth to 6.5%, above the government’s official target range of 5% to 6%.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan says the full-year target is now at the range of 6 to 7%.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima says the Philippines’ performance is significant because it was achieved in a “very difficult” global economic environment.
Story 2: PH REFUSES TO STAMP CHINESE PASSPORTS
The Department of Foreign Affairs says the Philippines will no longer stamp its visas on Chinese passports with a map of disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The move is a protest against the inclusion of the 9-dash line map in the passport which covers areas claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.
DFA says the Philippines will stamp the visas on a separate visa application form.
In a statement, the department says the move is being done so the Philippines is not seen as -quote- “legitimizing the 9-dash line every time a Philippine visa is stamped on Chinese e-passports.”
Senator Miriam Santiago wants Chinese citizens carrying the passports barred from entering the Philippines.
She says it would be an act of asserting the Philippines’ claims to the territories.
MIRIAM SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: That is a direct assault on our sovereignty. That would be considered as an act of aggression…If they bear that kind of passport, we will be acting well within our rights to deny them admission to our territory. Turn them back immediately.”
Story 3: ONA BACKS INHIBITION CALL FOR RECTO, MARCOS
Senators Ralph Recto and Ferdinand Marcos Jr will sit on the bicameral conference committee on the sin tax bill.
Also included are Senators Franklin Drilon, Panfilo Lacson, Sergio Osmena III, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Pia Cayetano.
Earlier, health secretary Enrique Ona supports a manifesto urging the two senators to inhibit from the meetings.
Thirty-five medical organizations sign the manifesto at the Philippine General Hospital Wednesday.
The groups say the two senators “compromised the welfare of the Filipino people.”
DR. ANTONIO DANS, PROFESSOR, UP COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We allude to newspaper articles which claim that senator Ralph Recto may have had secret meetings with the tobacco industry during the hearings of the senate ways and means committee…and we actually have video footage of Senator Bongbong Marcos talking with lawyers of Philip Morris during his interpolation of the sin tax bill at the senate floor.
Recto and Marcos have been criticized for their stand on the bill.
Marcos says he is protecting the tobacco farmers of Ilocos Norte.
Recto initially sponsored his version of the bill that will raise only P15 billion in revenue, far from the government’s target of P60 billion.
The sin tax bill passed the Senate on November 20.
Story 4: RECTO TO SIN TAX ADVOCATES: WHY FEAR ME?
Senator Ralph Recto says advocates of the sin tax reform bill have nothing to fear as he sits as a member of the committee that will hammer out the final version of the measure.
Recto is responding to the call from Health Secretary Enrique Ona for him to inhibit citing the amendments he introduced.
RALPH RECTO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Nagtataka lang ako bakit sila natatakot e pinakamalahaga dun yung amendments sa health na maliwanag saan pupunta yung pondo.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile recommended that Recto be included in the group.
JUAN PONCE ENRILE, SENATE PRESIDENT: In the case of Sen Recto, since his version of the bill was set aside, he has a right also to be included so he can see to it that what we have agreed upon is really going to push through.
Story 5: BOARD MEMBERS OF FIRM BEHIND PYRAMID SCAM ‘DUMMIES’
Executives of the Aman Futures Group say they were ‘dummies’ listed as directors in the P12-billion pyramid scam that duped around 10,000 people in Visayas and Mindanao.
Lurix Lopez says their names were listed as board directors even if they did not put in capital money.
On Tuesday, five of the seven executives of Aman show up at the Justice Department to file their affidavits during the preliminary probe.
They surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation on November 24.
The DOJ investigating panel is handling 5 complaints against Aman Futures Group.
Fourteen complainants say they lost P89 million worth of investments in the group.
Story 6: PAGADIAN MAYOR, WIFE CHARGED WITH ESTAFA OVER PYRAMID SCAM
Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, his wife and 10 others are charged with syndicated estafa for their alleged involvement in the Aman pyramid scam.
The charges are filed before the Justice Department on Wednesday, by at least 3 complainants.
Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation said it had sufficient evidence to charge Co with estafa and graft charges.
An alleged finance manager of Aman Futures Group says Co and his wife sought investors for the group.
Story 7: MAGUINDANAO ‘BACKHOE OPERATOR’ SEEKS POLICE PROTECTION
The backhoe operator in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre asks for police protection pending the result of his application to turn state witness.
Bong Andal asks the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for protective custody.
He is flown to Manila Tuesday from Cotabato City to be presented before the Quezon City regional trial court.
Andal was arrested November 24 in Midsayap, Cotabato – a day after the third anniversary of the massacre.
He is accused of operating the backhoe equipment that buried the bodies of the victims in a remote barangay in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
At least 92 suspects in the massacre remain at large.
Story 8: ALERT BACK ON FOR SOUTH KOREA ROCKET LAUNCH
South Korea plans to proceed with its delayed rocket launch Thursday.
The agency tasked to mitigate disasters says several provinces in the Philippines will be placed on alert status as parts of the rocket are expected to fall within Philippine territory.
In an interview on dzRH Wednesday, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director Benito Ramos says the following provinces fall under the alert status.
Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the Dinagat Islands.
A no-sail, no-fly, and no-fishing zone will be in effect on launch day.
The South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology says the 140-ton Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 will lift off between 5 to 8 PM Philippine time.
The rocket will deploy a small satellite into orbit which aims to gather information on space radiation.
The launch will mark South Korea’s third attempt in four years.
Story 9: OBAMA UPS CAMPAIGN ON FISCAL CLIFF, IRKS REPUBLICANS
US President Barack Obama expands his campaign to avoid the fiscal cliff, which could mean higher taxes and spending cuts if the White House and Congress do not reach a budget deal.
Obama wants higher taxes on wealthy Americans, but he continues to face opposition from Republicans in Congress.
Obama meets with small business owners Tuesday in hopes of getting support.
He is expected to meet with middle class families and top CEOs in the succeeding days.
The president’s political machine, with millions of supporters linked by social media, has also been mobilized with an email sent out last week explaining Obama’s approach to the crisis.
But his Republican foes react sourly.
Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell says, “Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he’s back out on the campaign trail.”
The White House says, “This is not about politics.”
It argues Obama is right to engage people on a crucial issue.
Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 2, a US federal judge rules major tobacco companies that spent decades lying to the public about the dangers of smoking have to begin a public advertising campaign admitting they lied.
The case of racketeering was brought to the Justice Department in 1999.
US District Judge Gladys Kessler writes the new advertising campaign will try to right the “past deception” going back to at least 1964.
The ad campaign could last for as long as two years.
One of the statements the companies must use goes like this: “Smoking kills, on the average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.”
The companies are expected to appeal the ruling.
At number 5, Hundreds of Egyptians fill Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tuesday, in protest of blanket powers President Mohamed Morsi awarded himself through a constitutional decree last week.
The decree prohibits high courts from repealing presidential proclamations. Earlier this week spokespersons for Morsi clarify “he did not give himself judicial power”, insisting it only applies to “sovereign matters.”
Despite this, protestors want Morsi to take back the decree or step down.
On its Twitter account, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party calls the protests underwhelming, saying it shows a “lack of support among Egyptians.”
At number 7, is Japan ready for an online face-off before next month’s general elections?
Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe challenges Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to an online debate because it would be “interactive and open to the world.”
He says doing it on television would have “restrictions” and limited airtime which wouldn’t exist online.
Abe calls for the debate to be held Thursday.
And at number 8, After a 4 month search for the successor of long time CNN president Jim Walton, a name emerges: Jeffrey Zucker, the former chief executive of NBC Universal. He was replaced when Comcast took over the company in 2011.
Zucker now produces Katie Couric’s daytime talk show.
He helped start a 16 year winning streak for the “Today” show.
If named, he will take over a company in search of its identity in a quickly evolving market – one that’s seen its ratings share drop as it stuck to its journalistic roots.