Rappler Newscast | May 30 2013

PH economy grows 7.8% in the 1st quarter of 2013. DFA refutes travel warnings from 3 countries. SG's : new licensing rule won’t stifle Internet freedom.

Today on Rappler.

  • Defying expectations, the Philippine economy grows 7.8% in the first quarter of 2013.
  • The Foreign Affairs department refutes travel warnings from 3 countries over security threats in Mindanao.
  • Singapore’s media regulator says its new licensing rule won’t stifle Internet freedom.


The Philippines’ statistics agency says the country grew at the better-than-expected rate of 7.8%, the highest so far in Asia.
Lala Rimando reports.

It’s a massive surprise.
The Philippines overtakes China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Economists and analysts expected the country to grow at a phenomenal rate, but not more than 6% in the first quarter.
While money sent home by Filipinos abroad and electronic products assembly are still drivers, the industry sector is coming back to life.
High electricity prices and a restive labor once drove investors away, but manufacturing is now attracting investors who are putting up factories.
The reasons are beyond us, such as higher wages in China, economic concerns in Vietnam, and leadership issues in Thailand and Indonesia.
The Philippine political arena is relatively stable, the government is fiscally healthy, and its anti-corruption efforts make the country look good in the eyes of investors.
But a question nags: Who felt the better-than-expected GDP growth?
Numbers show construction grew the fastest in January to March.
The government did not hold back as it did in 2012, spending on infrastructure that businesses need to move around.
Taking the cue, real estate companies build more condominiums and office. Small developers and store owners expand nationwide.
That created more jobs for construction workers.
Hot money from abroad and bullish local investors energize the banking and financial services sector.
But the rest of the 100 million Filipinos who are not in real estate and the financial markets will not feel the change.
The Philippines has the highest jobless rates in Southeast Asia.
The government says the best is yet come, assuring economic growth will trickle down.

ARSENIO BALISACAN, SOCIOECONOMIC PLANNING SECRETARY: We are in a new growth trajectory…No longer growing at just 4.3% average but 6% to 7%. In a few years, we can reach where Thailand is.

A few more years of growth above 6% will lift more out of poverty.  
Growing 7.8% in the first 3 months does not make the Philippines a one-year wonder.
But with last year’s 6.8 growth, it means the momentum can be sustained.
Lala Rimando, Rappler, Manila.

Ho Chi Minh photo from Shutterstock

Thailand Temple photo from Shutterstock

Ubud Market, Bali, Indonesia photo from Shutterstock

PH Construction Cranes photo from Shutterstock

Metro Manila buildings photo from Shutterstock

Urban Construction in Manila photo from Shutterstock

Manila Bay nightscape photo from Shutterstock

After the welcome news of the GDP, everyone is asking, where’s the wealth?
Voltaire Tupaz looks at out-of-school youth and poverty numbers in the face of economic progress.

Do the poor feel the stunning economic growth in the Philippines?
The country’s social welfare secretary says the answer is yes!
As debt decreases, money for social services like education increases.  
As the school year opens, half a billion pesos are set aside for 4,000 college scholars from poor families covered by the Conditional Cash Transfer program.

DINKY SOLIMAN, SOCIAL WELFARE SECRETARY: This is an effort to make sure inclusive growth is within reach to poor families.

One of the students is 17-year old Rea May Soliven of Compostela Valley.
Typhoon Pablo almost swept away her dream of finishing college.

REA MAY SOLIVEN, SCHOLARSHIP BENEFICIARY: Syempre po malaking epekto po yun kase  yung pang kabuhayan po kase naming doon is banana plantation and then after po sa bagyo wasak na wasak talaga sya…. Doon po talaga yung kabuhayan po namin. (We were greatly affected by the typhoon which devastated the banana plantation, our main source of income. It’s our source of livelihood.)

The Commission on Higher Education says the student assistance program sends kids like Rea May to school and helps them get jobs after graduation.

DR PATRICIA LICUANAN, COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION CHAIR: We are saying these people are starting from a disadvantage, so we have to give them preferential options and truly work harder to keep them in. Then gradually, gradually they started stepping up and doing what they had to do.

But not everyone is as lucky as Rea May.
When classes resume, at least 7.93 million students will be out of school.
The government says sustained growth these past 3 years actually make the dream of reducing poverty attainable.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the numbers, its about the people.
Voltaire Tupaz, Rappler, Manila.

Critics raise alarm bells Wednesday after poll chief Sixto Brillantes mentioned discrepancies between the automated election tally and the manual audit.
The discrepancies which Brillantes calls “variances” – could point to counting irregularities.
Under the law, the random manual audit checks the accuracy of the numbers provided by PCOS machines.
On Tuesday, Brillantes says initial reports pointed to “discrepancies,” but adds he did not have enough figures to support it.
The Comelec allows a certain number of discrepancies to still call the PCOS count accurate.
Comelec Resolution No. 9595 allows a margin of 10 votes per candidate per position quote — “in the event of discrepancy.”
The Comelec also requires auditors to double-check the audit to rule out human error.
On Wednesday, Brillantes says the PCOS count and the manual audit cannot match perfectly because of human error.

The Department of Foreign Affairs denies travel warnings issued by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia over security threats in Mindanao.
In a press conference Thursday, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez says, “There are no specific threats monitored in that area.”
Hernandez says the US, UK, and Australia might have gotten information from other sources.
The travel warnings from all 3 countries cite threats of kidnapping.
In an emergency message Wednesday, the US Embassy warns US citizens about “a credible threat of a terrorist kidnapping-for-ransom plot against foreigners.”
The embassy says the threat affects the Zamboanga area.
Last weekend, members of the Abu Sayyaf ambush Marines in Sulu, killing 7 soldiers.

The Department of Foreign Affairs tells China the Philippines can do whatever it wants within its seas after Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing said she was concerned the Philippines is building additional structures on Ayungin Shoal.
The shoal is also claimed by China in a long-standing conflict over the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.
Last week, the Philippines protested and said a Chinese warship was circling the reef.
In an interview Thursday, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez says, “China is not in a position to dictate what the Philippines can do within its maritime domain.”
This comes after a meeting between Ma and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
Ayungin, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is within the Philippines’ internationally recognized exclusive economic zone.

Singapore’s media regulator defends its new rule requiring news websites to obtain licenses, saying the rule is not intended to stifle Internet freedom.
The Media Development Authority requires 10 websites to obtain annual licenses starting Saturday.
After the surprise rule triggers opposition from the online community, the MDA says, “The new licensing framework is not intended to clamp down on Internet freedom.”
On Tuesday, the MDA says websites with at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore every month and publish at least one local news article a week fall under the new rules.
Websites granted a license will have to remove “prohibited content” such as articles that undermine “racial or religious harmony” within 24 hours of being notified by the authorities.
Licensed websites will have to put up SG$50,000 or $39,500 as a “performance bond” that can be forfeited if MDA regulations are not complied with.
Singapore’s blogging community slams the new rule as the latest government attempt to suppress dissent.

At number 3, A study says the SARS-like virus that killed 27 people globally, mainly in Saudi Arabia, may have a longer incubation period than previously thought.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus may have an incubation of 9 to 12 days, longer than the one-to-nine day period previously observed.
The study in The Lancet medical journal says this finding has “important implications for the duration of the quarantine required to rule out infection among contacts” of the patient.

At number 7, two French men say “I do” on Thursday in France’s first official gay marriage in the southern city of Montpellier.
Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau walked into the town hall room before the ceremony to the sound of Nat King Cole’s song “Love”.
The high-profile ceremony comes after months of protests in France over a bill allowing same-sex marriage and adoption.
France is now the 14th country to recognize gay marriage.

And at number 10, A 22-year old man from North Carolina will go to prison for tweeting threats against the life of US President Barack Obama.
Donte Jamar was sentenced to six months in prison on May 29.
He will also live under a year of supervised release once out of prison.
Jamar was arrested in September 2013 after threatening to kill the president via his Twitter handle, @DestroyLeague_D.
In the United States, it is illegal to threaten the president online and offline.

– Rappler.com

Newscast production staff

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

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.