Today on Rappler.
- The Senate approves the 2 trillion peso budget for 2013.
- The Commission on Elections allows 79 party-list groups to run in the 2013 polls.
- Senate President Enrile says he will vote against the Reproductive Health bill even if the Senate accepts his amendments.
Story 1: SENATE OKs P2.006T BUDGET
In a vote of 14 to 1, the Senate approves the P2.006 trillion budget on third and final reading Wednesday.
The budget passes one week after Senate Finance Committee chairman Senator Franklin Drilon sponsors it in plenary.
Drilon says the budget allocates P698.4 billion for social services, including the P44.25 billion for the government’s poverty alleviation program.
Senator Joker Arroyo votes no to the bill, saying the Senate version is similar to the bills proposed by the Palace and passed by the House of Representatives in October.
Bicameral proceedings to reconcile the versions of the budget bill begin next week.
The members of the committee are Senators Drilon, Edgardo Angara, Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Story 2: COMELEC APPROVES 79 PARTY-LIST GROUPS
Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes Jr on Thursday says the poll-body will allow only 79 groups to run in the 2013 party-list race.
Allowed to run in 2013 are controversial groups Gabriela, Anakpawis, Buhay, An Waray and gay rights group Ang Ladlad.
The approved party-list groups comprise less than a third of the original 289 applicants for 2013.
Of the 289 applicants, 124 had prior Comelec accreditation while 165 are new applicants.
Despite the reduced number, Brillantes says he is not satisfied and believes the poll body could have done better.
SIXTO BRILLANTES JR, CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS: Mabuti siguro, we better send a message already, na hindi naman biruan itong party-list. Sige, mag-apply kayo. Okay lang sa amin. Tatanggapin namin ang P10,000 filing fee n’yo, pero hindi kayo nakakasiguro. Malamang hindi kayo ma-accredit.
Story 3: PH GROWS 7.1% IN Q3, HIGHEST IN ASEAN
The Philippine economy grows 7.1% in the third quarter of 2012, with several sectors contributing significantly to this growth.
Lala Rimando has the details.
From July to September, the world’s biggest economies saw a tough quarter, the Philippines grew a stunning 7.1%.
It was the second fastest growing Asian economy next to giant China.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: One time meeting with European leader… He actually paused before making a comment after I finished talking about our economy. And I could sympathize with him…. I don’t want to sound gloating but it was really an achievement on our part.
President Aquino now has more reason to be proud. The rest of the world is slowing down but the Philippine economy is on a roll.
There is no denying it, the Philippines is having a fantastic year.
Behind this good news are some of the usual legs of growth and a few surprises.
Dollar remittances from millions of Filipinos abroad keeps malls like these full, profitable and expanding.
Aside from consumer goods, migrant workers are buying condominiums and houses.
There’s also a flurry of construction with the boom in the outsourcing sector-a major dollar earner.
Construction is the biggest surprise, growing over 24% after contracting 9% last year, when the government held back on infrastructure.
Government economists say it spent almost 54% more this quarter.
It also promises to roll out crucial infrastructure in the next 3 years.
What about eradicating poverty?
We need to grow an average of 6.7% a year for the next 15 years to increase Filipinos’ incomes.
Key to that is a strong peso.
While the growth has yet to trickle down to the ordinary Filipino, some already feel the impact, investing in capital markets or real estate assets.
Who would have known? Just 2 years ago the Philippines was a basket case, now its one of the top 5 growing economies in the world.
Lala Rimando, Rappler, Manila.
Story 4: REAL ESTATE CONSULTANT: BPO SECTOR DRIVES REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
Veteran real estate consultant Lindsay Orr says the increasing interest in the residential sector is helping drive the booming real estate industry.
Real estate is a key contributor to the 7.1% growth of the Philippine economy in the 3rd quarter.
Orr says there’s an increasing demand for residential condominiums from the BPO sector.
LINDSAY ORR, COO, JONES LANG LASALLE LEECHIU: Everywhere you look, as you know, you see high-rise residential condos going up…We have an increasing workforce employed in the BPO sector with a larger amount of spendable income and these smaller units, 25sqm units are quite affordable to the new middle manager class that’s emerging.
Orr adds remittances from overseas Filipino workers are helping purchase the smaller residential units.
LALA RIMANDO: Are OFWs getting, buying the 25sqm units or locals?
ORR: They are certainly contributing because the remittances that they send back, some of them are used to buy these small units. The idea of having a condo in the heart of the CBD and if you’re lucky enough a small house and lot in the province where the family lives is probably not a bad idea. That’s an ideal scenario.
Story 5: ADB ECONOMIST: FIX INFRASTRUCTURE TO SUSTAIN GROWTH
Government officials attribute the Philippines’ strong economic showing to the Aquino administration’s good-governance based economic program.
Asian Development Bank assistant chief economist Cyn-Young Park says that for the growth to trickle down to the public, the government needs to address the problems of education and infrastructure.
MARIA RESSA: What does this high growth rate mean for Filipinos? Does it trickle down?
CYN YOUNG-PARK, ASST. CHIEF ECONOMIST, ADB: Eventually it will. Where would the new income go? The key would be education and infrastructure. As of now the Philippines has not been successful in tackling poverty and income inequality despite relatively high growth in the past couple of years. You need to see why it’s not linking to job creation, why it’s not linking to the income of each and every household in the Philippines.
Story 6: ENRILE: ‘OUR BIGGEST EXPORT ARE OFWs. THAT’S WHY I’M AGAINST RH BILL’
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile says he will vote against the Reproductive Health bill even if his amendments are accepted.
Enrile says he will introduce amendments to show he is not delaying the passage of the bill.
Among his proposed changes is to remove the phrase “population and development” from the bill.
Speaking earlier about the economy, Enrile adds he is also against the RH bill because overseas Filipino workers are the country’s biggest export.
JUAN PONCE ENRILE, SENATE PRESIDENT: Ang pinakamalaking export natin is OFW (overseas Filipino workers). Export iyan eh, kaya ako kontra ako sa RH dahil diyan. Ang magpapalago ng bansa natin ay iyong excess population natin na sinanay natin na tumatanggap ng mga trabaho abroad that others don’t want to handle. We have to accept that.
Story 7: ‘REYES BROTHERS STILL WANTED FOR MURDER’
The widow of slain Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega says the murder case against the Reyes brothers stands.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal rejected the second investigating panel that filed charges against former Palawan Gov Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
A first panel cleared them of the charges.
Patria Gloria Ortega says the murder case is still pending in Palawan and the arrest warrant is still in effect.
The Reyes brothers fled to Vietnam days before the warrant was issued.
PATRIA GLORIA ORTEGA, WIFE OF GERRY ORTEGA: Buhay pa po ang kaso. Ang kaso po ay nasa regional trial court. Hindi pa po nawawala ang warrant of arrest. Meron pa pong pabuya na dalawang milyon sa bawat ulo ng nagtatagong Reyes.
Story 8: NO FBI IN MAKATI MURDER PROBE
Police say the US Embassy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are not conducting a parallel investigation of the killing of a US diplomat’s spouse.
Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban explains two officials from the US Diplomatic Security Service are in the Philippines to gather information for a State Department report.
MANUEL LUKBAN, CHIEF SENIOR SUPT, MAKATI POLICE: Their purpose for going here, first, is to personally thank the Makati police station…We were able to first, arrest the person, suspect. Second, we were able to produce evidence that can make the case strong. And we’re able to file a case of murder against the suspect.
The police says the DSS officials also asked to meet Jose Rommel Saavedra, the Rockwell security guard who witnessed the stabbing incident Saturday morning.
Dr. Jose Cabrera, father of one of the four suspects, believes the US Embassy is trying to influence the Department of Justice.
DR. JOSE CABRERA, FATHER OF SUSPECT: The US Embassy is trying to pressure, influence the DOJ to reverse the ruling to murder. What constitutes murder? A premeditated plan. But they did not even know this man. There is no murder, not even homicide because there was no planning.
Lukban downplays the claim and says the CCTV footage is enough evidence to support the murder charges filed against the suspects.
Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, Egypt’s top court suspends its sessions, announcing a strike to protest Mohamed Morsi’s expanded powers.
In response Wednesday, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood calls for a rally to support the Egyptian president on Saturday.
Analysts warn this uncertainty will impact Egypt’s economy.
A day earlier, protesters poured into the streets to denounce a move they claimed was dictatorial.
It was the largest protest since Morsi was elected in June.
At number 4, Syrian media reports two car bombs explode in a suburban residential area of Damascus Wednesday, killing at least 45 people and injuring 120.
Syrian state television blames the attack on “terrorists.”
Analysts say the twin attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda affiliated groups – twin bombs, one designed to explode first and draw people out followed by a second explosion that often causes more casualties.
At number 6, Sea levels are rising at an average of 3.2 millimeters per year. At this rate, the sea will rise around a full meter by the end of the century.
The United Nation’s climate panel says massive number of people living in sea-level areas will lose homes, land and livelihood resulting in millions of climate refugees. Analysts add, this could lead to resource wars and conflicts.
And at number 8, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra easily survives a no-confidence vote engineered by her opponents in parliament.
Thailand’s first female premier, Yingluck won 308 of the 467 votes, securing support even from outside her coalition.
The opposition accuses her of failing to crack down on corruption and of being the puppet of her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin was ousted by royalist generals in a coup in 2006. He lives abroad to avoid a jail sentence for corruption charges. Thaksin says the charges are politically motivated.