Rappler Newscast | April 5, 2013

Villar, Ejercito linked to offshore accounts. SC: party list not limited to marginalized sectors. US Navy faces P58M fine for Tubbataha damages.

Today on Rappler.

  • An investigative report links Sen Manny Villar and San Juan Rep JV Ejercito to offshore accounts.
  • The Supreme Court rules the party list is not limited to marginalized sectors.
  • The US Navy faces a 58-million peso fine for damages to the Tubbataha reef.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reports Sen Manny Villar and San Juan Rep JV Ejercito hold secret offshore corporations in the British Virgin Islands.
The group earlier released a report linking Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to a secret offshore trust.
In the second report released Friday, PCIJ says Villar is the beneficial owner of a business corporation called Awesome Dragon Holdings Limited.
Ejercito is a director of a company called Ice Bell Properties Limited formed on July 8, 1999.
In a written reply to the PCIJ, Villar admits to being the “ultimate shareholder” of Awesome Dragon Holdings Limited, but says, “It is dormant and so it has remained, up to now.”
But the PCIJ says their findings show the company remains active as of April 2, 2013.
Ejercito denies his directorship in Ice Bell Properties Limited and questions the timing of the story.
He says, “It is highly suspicious considering the ongoing electoral campaign, of which I am one of the leading contenders among the UNA senatorial candidates.”
Both Villar and Ejercito did not report their links with the offshore companies in their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALNs.
In his reply, Villar says Awesome Dragon Holdings Limited does not appear in his SALN, because it is owned by Fine Properties Inc., which he has already enrolled in his SALN.
But the PCIJ reports Fine Properties does not appear as shareholder of Awesome Dragon Holdings.

President Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay spearhead UNA’s campaign for its local candidates– most of them sons, daughters, a nephew and a former girlfriend.
Ayee Macaraig reports.

JEJOMAR BINAY, PHILIPPINE VICE PRESIDENT: The son is better than the father. Magaling po si Junjun. Mas magaling sa aking magsalita. Ang natitira na lang kagwapuhan ko. (Junjun is good. He is a better speaker. The only thing I have on him is my good looks.)

For the opposition, it’s family first.
The United Nationalist Alliance kicks off the local campaign period in its home turf, visiting the bailiwicks of its top leaders.
After the grand rally of former President Joseph Estrada in Manila, UNA senatorial bets visit Laguna, San Juan, Makati, and Tarlac.
In Laguna, UNA endorses Estrada’s nephew, Governor ER Ejercito, for re-election.
But it’s in San Juan where things heat up.
Estrada raises the hand of his son, senatorial bet and San Juan Rep JV Ejercito, and gives full support to his mother, re-electionist Mayor Guia Gomez, one of Estrada’s girlfriends.
The former President’s granddaughter, Janella, is also running for councilor.
The mayor of San Juan for 17 years, Estrada defends his dynasty, saying it delivers not just votes but also services.

JOSEPH ESTRADA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I was the first one to put up the first municipal high school here. Si JV naman put up the first college here, put up the Freshmat Agora market here, si JV naman put up the first hospital here.

Yet there’s a flipside to family politics.
Ejercito earns the ire of brother Sen Jinggoy Estrada over reports he snubbed his  daughter, Janella – a charge Ejercito denies.
Jinggoy is Estrada’s son with his wife, former Sen Loi Estrada.

JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Sana ‘wag na niya idamay ang anak ko kung anuman ang namamagitan sa amin. (I just wish he doesn’t drag my daughter into whatever it is that’s between us.)

Senator Estrada also skips the rally.
Unlike his father and brother, he is not supporting former Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora’s congressional bid.
Family cracks also show in Tarlac.
Even if senatorial bet, former Gov Tingting Cojuangco and husband former congressman Peping Cojuangco led the province for years, Tarlac is known as the bailiwick of their nephew, President Aquino.
UNA though counts on a sweep in Binay country.
Makati is home to 3 Binays running in May: Re-electionists Mayor Junjun Binay, Congresswoman Abigail Binay-Campos, and senatorial bet Nancy Binay.
If they all win, there will be 4 Binays in government.

JUNJUN BINAY, MAKATI MAYOR: Kahit manalo ang 2 kapatid ko, isang kongresista at isang senador, hindi naman ibig sabihin noon na hawak naming ang kongreso. Ang mga kapatid ko ay isa lamang sa mga kinatawan halimbawa sa Senado at sa Kongreso. (Even if my siblings win, one in the lower house, another in the senate, it doesn’t mean that we have control of the Senate. My siblings would just be one of the representatives in the senate and the lower house.)

The Binays say Makati’s progress shows what they can do at the national level.
All in the family.
UNA counts on the machinery and popularity of its dynasties.
But with the complex dynamics of local politics, supporting the same candidates is not always a family affair.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.

President Benigno Aquino makes a second trip to Laguna to campaign for Team PNoy’s local candidates. He demolishes UNA candidate, incumbent Laguna governor E R Ejercito.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

President Benigno Aquino visits vote-rich Laguna for the second time since the start of the campaign. This time, he goes local, slamming local opponents as the race in the province heats up.
Aquino wants to unseat the incumbent governor and replace him with his own bet.
The president attacks Laguna governor ER Ejercito, the candidate of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, for supposedly senseless projects

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Ang enggrandeng plano po kasi nila: magbungkal ng lupa sa isang bahagi ng Laguna de Bay, para mas maraming tubig daw ang kayanin nitong lamnan, subalit ang nahukay palang lupa, ililipat lang din sa kabilang bahagi ng lawa. Ang galing, di po ba? Ang magiging resulta: di lamang bilyon-bilyong pisong mababaon sa lupa, mananatili pang nasa peligro at kawalang-katiyakan ang maraming Pilipino. Sa tuwid na daan, maibabaon na natin sa limot ang mga proyektong tulad nito. (Their grand plan is to dig up land in some part of Laguna de Bay so it can hold more water. But land dug up will just be moved to another part of the lake. The result is not just billions of pesos buried underground but many Filipinos will be put in harm’s way. In the straight and narrow path, projects like these will be buried in memory.)

He pushes hard for his candidate, 4th district representative Egay San Luis.

AQUINO: Kung tunay na pagmamalasakit sa bayan at kapwa ang pag-uusapan— sa totoong buhay po at hindi sa mga pelikula lamang— buong-buo po ang tiwala ko sa susunod ninyong Gobernador: si Egay San Luis. (If we’re talking about true compassion for his country and fellowmen, in real life and not just in movies, I have complete trust in your next governor: Egay San Luis.)

Team PNoy’s second visit to Laguna makes sense.
The province is the fifth vote richest province in the country with 1.5 million registered voters for 2013.
In 2010, it backed Aquino’s presidential bid, AS WELL AS vice president Jejomar Binay’s candidacy. Binay is one of UNA’s leaders.
In UNA’s visit here a few days earlier, the coalition expressed confidence it would win because of Ejercito’s influence over the province.
Team PNoy is confident of its chances too.
Aquino uses his projects in the last 3 years as leverage to convince Laguna to support him again.
Will it be enough?
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Laguna.

Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug talks about old politics that dominate the fight to rule the country’s capital, Manila.
Here’s her video blog.

Two old men refuse to ride into the gorgeous sunset of Manila Bay: Joseph Estrada, who turns 76 soon, and Alfredo Lim, 83.
One is a former president convicted of plunder—but pardoned—and a loser in the 2010 presidential race.
The other is a former policeman, one-time senator, and mayor for 12 years.
At their age, when most people wind down and live in grace, they chose to cut each other’s throat to rule Manila, the seat of power and a city of past grandeur.
Manila has been left behind in the good governance index.
In 2010, the interior department rated Manila below average.
The city needs a fresh mind, a lot of innovation and imagination.
So where’s the successor generation?
What we’re seeing now is old politics that is turning out to be a proxy battle between President Aquino and Vice President Binay—and perhaps a step towards 2016.
But who wins Manila doesn’t necessarily win the country.
This is Marites Vitug for VitugVlogs.

Voting 10-2-1, the Supreme Court rules the party list is not only for marginalized sectors, debunking an argument the Commission on Elections used to disqualify 54 party-list groups for the May 13 polls.
In a decision written by Justice Antonio Carpio, the Court says, “National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations…
do not need to represent ‘any marginalized and underrepresented’ sector.”
Those who agreed with the decision are Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza and Marvic Leonen.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Justice Bienvenido Reyes dissented.
The Supreme Court also remanded all 54 petitions of disqualified party-list groups to the Comelec.
Of the 54, 13 petitions are from party-list groups which were granted a status quo ante order, but failed to get a mandatory injunction from the SC.
Their names were excluded in the ballot for May.
In 2001, the Supreme Court earlier defined the party list, saying it caters to the poor sectors.
In effect, Carpio reverses this with the new ruling.

Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling on party list groups, Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes says Comelec will repeat the screening process for the 54 disqualified groups.

SIXTO BRILLANTES JR, COMELEC CHAIRMAN: I don’t like it that much pero since we have already limited it to 123, and it will not go up more to 123, okay na rin. It’s a good compromise decision.

Brillantes adds they will first study the ruling.
If Comelec fails to finish the hearings before election day, the public may still vote for party-list groups with pending petitions.
But if Comelec disqualifies these groups, the poll body will not count their votes during canvassing.

Months after a New People’s army ambush in La Castellana, Negros Occidental claimed 9 lives, families of the victims continue to grieve and pray. Carmela Fonbuena reports.

ERLINDA LUCBAN, MOTHER OF SLAIN PARAMILITARY: Pinatawad ko na sila. Kaya lang di ko na gusto na gawin pa nila sa iba. Na hindi na nila ulitin. ‘Pag may sasakyan na may sibilyan, papatayin kaagad? Napakasakit naman kagaya sa amin na siya lang ang bumubuhay sa amin. (I forgave them, but I don’t want them to do this to anyone else. I don’t want them to repeat this. If there’s a car with civilians, will you kill them right away? It hurts, especially for us. He was our breadwinner.)

Erlinda’s son Joselito spent the night helping the cops secure a barangay fiesta.
On their way home, Joselito, a cop, and 7 others were killed in the January 27 ambush by the New People’s Army.

NPA APOLOGY: The NPC-NPA admitted the ambush of the police troop in La Castellana…This is one of most unfortunate encounters we had with civilians because it resulted in the loss of lives.

Because Joselito is a member of the Barangay Police Action Team, the  New People’s Army doesn’t apologize for his death.
The rebel group only recognizes 3 victims as civilians. To them, Joselito and the rest of the victims WERE legitimate targets.

NPA APOLOGY: Spokesperson explaining they only meant to disarm cops and paramilitaries.

But Erlinda and Arlyn do not really care about the prolonged war between the military and communist rebels.

ARLYN COMPLESA, WIFE OF SLAIN PARAMILITARY: Gusto ko iparating sa kanila. Kung anuman gusto nila iparating sa kinauukulan, doon na lang nila iparating yun. Huwag na nila uulitin ang ganoong pangyayari ng kagaya sa amin. Kung para sa kanila yung asawa namin parang ibon na basta basta na lang barilin. tapos hihingi ng tawad. ganon lang sa kanya kadali yun? (I want to say to them, whatever message they want to send, they should send it to the concerned parties. Don’t do to others what they did to us. Our husbands are just like birds to them that they can shoot, and then they’ll ask for forgiveness? Is it just that easy?)

Erlinda and Arlyn are not alone in their grief.
Many others have lost their loved ones — soldiers, rebels, civilians – to this conflict that has run for 45 years.
In Negros Occidental, the communist insurgency persists.

GEN EMMANUEL BAUTISTA, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF: Our passion for peace will never waver so that no Juan Dela Cruz shall ever lose a family or loved one through any crime or violence, or be witnesses of another gruesome la castellana massacre.

We’re talking here about Asia’s longest running insurgency.  The recent collapse of the backchannel talks  between the government and the national democratic front means peace is still a long way to go.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Negros Occidental.

The Philippines will ask the US Navy to pay fines of about 58 million pesos or about 1.4 million US dollars over the damage it caused to the Tubbataha reef.
Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco says the USS Guardian damaged about 2,345.67 square meters of the reef when it ran aground on January 17.
Songco says the amount is –quote– “but a slap on the wrist, as the salvage operation has been estimated to cost close to $45 million.”
The Tubbataha management earlier said it will serve the US Navy a formal notice of violations once the damage is assessed.

The United States says it’s taking “all necessary precautions” after North Korea moved an untested medium-range missile to its east coast Thursday.
Seoul’s defense minister Kim Kwan-Jin says the missile could reach a quote — “considerable distance” but not the US mainland, telling lawmakers it “could be aimed at test-firing or military drills”.
It was the latest move by North Korea after weeks of issuing a series of threats.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the threats fit a quote — “regrettable but familiar” pattern of North Korean behavior.
South Korean intelligence sources reportedly identified the North Korean missile as an intermediate-range Musudan.

At number 4, A new strain of bird flu kills two more in China’s business capital Shanghai, bringing to 5 the number of deaths attributed to the H7N9 virus.
Four of the deaths occurred in the commercial hub, while the other was reported in the neighboring province of Zhejiang on Wednesday.
Chinese authorities are trying to determine how the new variety of bird flu infects people.
They say there is no evidence yet of human-to-human transmission.

At number 8, Facebook announces a new smartphone user interface for Android called Facebook Home.
Facebook shies away from calling it a new user interface, describing Facebook Home as a –quote “new category of experiences.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the thinking behind Facebook Home is to put people first instead of apps.
The Home UI consists of 3 main parts: the cover feed, chat heads, and apps.

And at number 9, Disgraced US cyclist Lance Armstrong scraps plans to enter a swim race in Texas after objections from the sport’s global governing body.
Armstrong, who was banned for life from cycling because of doping, hoped to compete in a US Masters Swimming event in Austin.
Swimming’s governing body FINA opposes Armstrong’s participation, saying he should be barred from competing under anti-doping regulations.

The international version of the book “Bin Laden to Facebook” launched in Singapore this week.
Katherine Visconti reports.

Facebook connects over 1 billion people globally and it is now a source of danger.
Today even terrorists are turning to Facebook.
Terrorists used the social networking site to post proof of life videos, crowd source ransom, and video blog about ideas.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s latest book ‘From bin Laden to Facebook’ tells the gripping story of a 3-person news crew abducted by the Abu
Sayyaf and how Ressa managed the crisis team that rescued them.
Ressa shows the social networks of the terrorists behind the kidnapping and how she used her team’s social network to work against

MARIA RESSA, AUTHOR “FROM BIN LADEN TO FACEBOOK”: If you see the way it spreads you can also deconstruct it to use it for good.

Bin Laden to Facebook launches in Singapore this week with Ressa debuting it on TV, at book signings and at speaking engagements.
A kindle and hardcover version of the book will follow on Amazon.com at the end of April.
This is the first time the book is being sold outside the Philippines and international audiences are quick to ask how they can use the power of social networks.
At the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, international scholars say government officials must use social networks to check the pulse
of society/pick up on what the public wants.

EDUARDO ARARAL, LKYSPP ASSISTANT PROFESSOR: I think the main take away for me is that politicians should learn the language of social media and go beyond just having Twitter accounts and really understand the implications of social media for political leadership.

GAUTAM WAHI, LKYSPP SCHOLAR: If we as a government, and I’m talking about India for instance, can tap on this huge social network that’s happening and this bubbling under current of emotional movement and connectivity that’s happening, I think it will be a great thing forward. If it ramps up to the next level I think it’s a revolution waiting to happen.

Ressa tells the group that while governments would be foolish to try to control social media they would be even more foolish not to use it.
Her book’s broader message is that mapping out networks can help officials and journalists map out solutions.
Katherine Visconti, Rappler Singapore 


Newscast production staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro

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