Rappler Newscast | December 21, 2012

The standoff in Cebu continues as Gwen Garcia refuses to leave the governor’s office 3 days after she is suspended. | Senate President Enrile files a P31-M damage suit against a newspaper columnist for an allegedly libelous article. | Southeast Asian nations urge India to help resolve territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Today on Rappler.

  • The standoff in Cebu continues as Gwen Garcia refuses to leave the governor’s office 3 days after she is suspended.
  • Senate President Enrile files a P31-M damage suit against a newspaper columnist for an allegedly libelous article.
  • Southeast Asian nations urge India to help resolve territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Cebu governor Gwen Garcia refuses to leave her office 3 days after she is suspended for grave abuse of authority.
Ayee Macaraig reports from Cebu.

It’s a sleepless night for suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia and her allies amid reports police will forcibly remove her from the capitol Thursday.
The Garcia camp warns of possible violence and an assault on the capitol.
Overnight, they watch police come and go but make no such move.
A standoff continues as Garcia literally refuses to leave her office 3 days after the release of her suspension order.
She questions her suspension before the Court of Appeals.
Garcia’s father, Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia, says it’s sad that the family may have to spend Christmas in the capitol.
For Acting Governor Agnes Magpale, it’s their choice.

REP PABLO GARCIA, CEBU, 2ND DISTRICT: We may have to spend Christmas here. All the family, if Gwen is here, we will be here too.
AGNES MAGPALE, CEBU ACTING GOVERNOR: Walang namimilit sa kanya mag-Christmas ditto. Dapat nga we charge them for the light, water. Dapat may renta na iyan!

Magpale says she’s willing to leave the post if there is a restraining order from the court, but the order does not come.
She presents to the media the department heads who now back her, just a day after they pledged support to Garcia.
Cebu’s suspended governor and acting governor simultaneously hold their own Christmas parties and Mass.
Rappler sources say the Interior Department will not remove Garcia until after Christmas.
Police will stay in the capitol for as long as she defies her suspension.
Political observers in Cebu say the province has never seen this kind of saga.

BOBOY BELARMINO, CEBU LABOR COALITION SPOKESMAN: This is very significant because this is the first time a governor in Cebu is suspended. Ultimately the issue here is timing and resources.

With Garcia refusing to budge, she may have to spend more sleepless nights as negotiations continue.

AYEE MACARAIG: A chess game is how Cebu’s chief of police describes the situation here at the provincial capitol. With all sides waiting for each other’s move, the situation remains tense and volatile. And Cebu’s political crisis is far from over.

Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Cebu.

The ruling Liberal Party says Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia -quote- “just wants to get the sympathy of the voters” as she defies the suspension order of the Office of the President last Wednesday.
Authorized by the party to speak on the case, Eastern Samar representative Ben Evardone calls on Garcia to -quote- “respect the decision of the executive.”
Garcia is running for third district representative in the province of Cebu in the 2013 midterm elections.
Western Samar Representative and LP secretary general Mel Sarmiento says Garcia is setting a bad precedent for local government officials.
He adds, “They are making a local issue a national issue… This should be about the rule of law.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile files a 31 million peso damage suit against Yolanda Villanueva-Ong in reaction to a supposedly libelous article published by the Philippine Star last October 16, 2012.
Enrile takes offense to statements made by Ong in her article entitled, ‘Like father, like son.’
The article accuses Enrile of attempting to -quote- “revise history” with the purpose of persuading the electorate to endorse the senatorial bid of his son, Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile.
According to Enrile’s complaint, “Defendant Yoly… deliberately focuses on attacking character with false and defamatory accusations…and intrigues affecting family and personal life.”
Ong says it is the first time she is sued for anything but stands by her column and says she speaks the truth.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development says more children stay in school thanks to the government’s poverty reduction program.
But a Commission on Audit report says the program leaves out many poor families.
Voltaire Tupaz reports.

8-year old Jayreen Manuel starts her Christmas break today on a happy note.
Her wish this year was granted…
she’s able to continue going to school even after a fire burned down their shanty.

JAYREEN MANUEL, PANTAWID PAMILYA BENEFICIARY: Masaya na po kase nakatulong po sa amin yung  mga tao saka po sila Mama binigbigyan na rin sila ng mga blessings. Saka po si Papa rin po sa kanyang pagtaratabo sa amin nakatulong siya sa aming pag-aaral. 

Every month, Jayreen receives 300 pesos as a beneficiary of the Conditional Cash Transfer or CCT, the government’s main poverty reduction program.
The money was used to replace her uniforms, shoes and books, all turned into ashes by the fire.
But neither disaster nor poverty will stop Jayreen from continuing her education.

JAYREEN MANUEL: Ayaw ko na rin pong umabsent, kase po pag umabsent ako nang umabsent, mawalala na rin po ako sa attendance namin. Ayoko na ring umabsent para matuto na ako ng maayos.

Jayreen is a success story for the CCT, also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
Her family complies with the conditions on education and health, set by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the implementing agency.

DINKY SOLIMAN, DSWD SECRETARY: In Pantawid Pamilya we’re addressing the gaps of education. One is to ensure that children finish primary schooling and are kept healthy because keeping them healthy will help them, will provide the ability for them to be competitive later.

The CCT families are also spending more on education and health.
DSWD says the total number of households getting assistance from CCT reaches more than 3 million.
But according to a Commission on Audit report, the CCT left out 1.8 million poor families, sowing envy and disunity in poor communities.
One of Jayreen’s neighbors Rea claims she is not envious, but says her family needs assistance too.

REA MAY SOLIVEN, NON-CCT BENEFICIARY: Opo, kase kumakain din kami ng kinakain nila. Kaya dapat talaga lahat…Minsan nga di na kami nag-aalmusal. Ang gising na namin tanghalian para tipid. Kung nagpapaka-praktikal ka, gising tayo 1 para tanghalian. Hapunan na ang susunod.

The DSWD says it is expanding the program to include other deserving families.

VOLTAIRE TUPAZ, REPORTING: Since her family has become a beneficiary of the CCT program of the government, Jayreen has become more excited to attend her classes everyday. She says she wants to become a doctor someday because she wants to help sick kids in her neighborhood – kids who are not as happy and lucky as she is because they feel neglected by the government.
Voltaire Tupaz, Rappler, Manila.

Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug says the victory of the Reproductive Health bill signals the decline of Church influence on national affairs.
Here’s her video blog.

This is the beginning of the decline of the Catholic Church’s influence on affairs of the Philippine state.
The victory of the reproductive health bill will stand as a landmark in the history of church-state relations. It demystified the Catholic Church and its supposed iron grip on our country’s politicians.
The bishops flagrantly intruded on the shaping of the RH policy. They harangued us from the pulpit, read fire-and-brimstone pastoral statements claiming religious dogma and using faith to fuel opposition.
Yet the public did not listen. The surveys showed majority favored the RH bill.  How could congressmen and senators ignore the voice of the people?
In this one shining moment, they looked out for the larger good and passed the RH bill.
Surely, the Catholic Church can continue its mission for social justice, to be a church of the poor. But it should learn from this experience and not overreach.
What’s next?
In future policy debates, the bishops will no longer enjoy a favored status. They will be like any other advocate, claiming our leaders’ attention.
This will truly mark our country’s liberation from the clergy, the men in cassocks.

The Aquino government says the 8 big-ticket projects under the public-private partnership scheme for 2012 will be rolled out before the end of the year.
PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao says the projects all reached one of the crucial stages needed toward completion: the publication of the invitation to pre-qualify to bid (ITPB).
The 8 projects are: PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase I; NAIA Expressway Phase II; LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension and O&M; Modernization of Philippine Orthopedic Center; Rehabilitation, O&M of Angat Hydro-Electric Powerplant Auxilliary Turbines 4 & 5; Automatic Fare Collection System; PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase II; and Mactan Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building.
In 2010, the Aquino government said the PPP projects are part of its strategy for economic growth.
So far, only two projects have been awarded: the Daang Hari-SLEx road link in December 2011 and the Phase I of the School Infrastructure Project.

Southeast Asian countries urge India to help resolve bitter territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, saying India’s support is “crucial” to maintaining peace and stability.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations calls on India Thursday to take a more decisive stance in the region.
But Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid says the issue does not require his country’s intervention.
He adds, issues of sovereignty “need to be resolved between the countries concerned”.
China’s claim to the South China Sea is contested by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China sends its ships into territorial waters around disputed islands Friday, in the first incursion since Japan elected a new government.
The move is a setback to hopes in Tokyo that Beijing might use the polls as a chance for a fresh start after months of bitter wrangling over the Tokyo controlled Senkaku Islands which Beijing calls the Diaoyus.
Japan’s new leader Shinzo Abe says the move shows China’s desire to continue the confrontation.
He says, “A new prime minister always opens up the possibility of ‘hitting the restart button’…but clearly Beijing is not interested in improving relations.”

At number 7, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his anti-secrecy website will release one million documents in 2013 affecting every country in the world.
In a message to around 100 supporters, Assange says 2012 was a “huge year,” in which Wikileaks released documents about Syria.
He adds, “Next year will be equally busy. WikiLeaks has already over one million documents being prepared to be released.”
The Australian former computer hacker thanks Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa for granting him asylum and hits the United States and other Western governments.

At number 8, Pope Benedict XVI signs a decree recognizing the “heroic virtues” of the late pope Paul VI, putting him on the first step towards beatification and eventual sainthood.
Italian-born Giovanni Battista Montini, who was elected pope in 1963 and reigned until 1978, oversaw a complex series of reforms in the Roman Catholic Church following the Vatican II Council.
Vatican investigators will now try to identify a miracle that can be attributed to Paul VI for him to be beatified.
A second confirmed miracle is required for canonization.

At number 9, Facebook begins testing the feasibility of charging to guarantee that messages from strangers make it into inboxes of intended recipients.
The Facebook Messages lets a sender pay a dollar to make sure a message is routed to someone’s “inbox” even when the person isn’t in their circle of friends.
Facebook says it wanted to determine whether adding a “financial signal” improves its formula for delivering “relevant and useful” messages to members’ inboxes.

And at number 10, The Louvre says its new Islamic art wing helped cement its position as the world’s most-visited museum with nearly 10 million visitors in 2012, over a million more than last year.
The museum’s new wing of Islamic art, with about 3,000 precious works from the seventh to the 19th centuries, opens to the public in September and attracts 650,000 visitors.
Its website gets more than 11 million visitors and its Facebook page has 800,000 followers.