Rappler Newscast | July 15, 2013

Gov and the MILF agree on wealth sharing deal. Sen Santiago: probe lawmakers allegedly involved in pork barrel scam. PH: China's accusation, baseless.

Today on Rappler.

  • The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front agree on a 75-25 wealth sharing deal in favor of the Bangsamoro.
  • Sen Santiago wants President Aquino to probe the lawmakers allegedly involved in a $230 million dollar pork barrel scam. 
  • The Philippines says China’s accusation that Manila lied about South China sea dispute is baseless.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front break an impasse on the contentious wealth sharing scheme for the Bangsamoro entity.
Angela Casauay reports.

MIRIAM CORONEL-FERRER, GOV’T PEACE PANEL CHAIR: It was one of the toughest rounds that we have been through since we signed the Framework Agreement… It was a close call.

On the last day of the talks – President Benigno Aquino sends his spokesperson Edwin Lacierda to Kuala Lumpur along with Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Ging Deles, to relay a message to the MILF.
Despite the President’s men, the day ends without a deal.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal tells Rappler in a text message the government is “too rigid as if their mandate is cast in stone.”
Iqbal adds there is “limited chance” they are returning to the negotiating table.
But the government manages to persuade the MILF to return Friday, and once more on Saturday as the talks are extended twice.
Saturday’s session lasts for more than 12 hours, just a few days from the start of Ramadan.
But at 10:30 pm, a breakthrough is reached – the panels finally complete the wealth-sharing annex.
They sign the document an hour past midnight Sunday.
At the heart of the negotiations are the ratio on wealth sharing.
Sources say the MILF wanted a 75-25 share, in favor of the Bangsamoro, across the board.
The government wanted a more nuanced approach.                                     
The final agreement:
75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro for taxes and charges; 75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro for profits from metallic minerals; 100% of revenues from non-metallic minerals quarry resources go to Bangsamoro; “equal sharing” for income from oil, natural gas and uranium.

ANGELA CASAUAY, REPORTING: These provisions make this new wealth-sharing arrangement different from what already exists in the ARMM and even for other local government units in the country.

The signed annex also contains two unique provisions.
First is the granting of an automatic annual appropriation.
Second, revenues collected by the Bangsamoro from taxes and natural resources will be deducted from funds from the national government.

MIRIAM CORONEL-FERRER, GOV’T PEACE PANEL CHAIR: The MILF itself is the proponent of the provision, indicating that behind the negotiations for more shares is their intent to be less and less dependent on the central government.

In any negotiation, there are no losers or winners, only settlements.
As the panels say, there can be no perfect deal, only a perfect compromise.
Angela Casauay, Rappler.

Sen Miriam Santiago blasts 5 senators allegedly involved in a P 10 billion or $230 million pork barrel scam.
A Philippine Daily Inquirer report says resigned Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Bongbong Marcos, and Gringo Honasan allegedly funded ghost projects of bogus NGOs in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
Saying her colleagues are fooling citizens, Santiago calls on all 5 to take a leave of absence.

MIRIAM SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: The persons involved, whom I shall call persons of interest…They must go on leave of absence not as an admission of guilt but as a courtesy to the Filipino public so that the process can proceed unhampered.

Santiago also urges President Benigno Aquino to appoint a team of special prosecutors to probe the scam.
Santiago says this is the “only recourse” in the issue because senators cannot be impeached, and are not under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
Marcos issues a statement saying he does not know Janet Lim-Napoles, who is tagged as the brains behind the scam.
Revilla calls the allegations a demolition job and trial by publicity.
Honasan also says the charges are –quote– “obviously politically motivated.”

Senators are divided on whether or not the chamber should investigate its 5 members linked to an alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Senator Chiz Escudero files a resolution directing the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the scheme where lawmakers allegedly give syndicates access to their pork barrel fund in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
Escudero says the Senate must probe the allegations, and ensure legislative and preventive measures are enacted to address the issue.
He says –quote–, “Accountability and transparency in government dictates that this report must be quizzically looked into.”
But Escudero hints lawmakers should not be blamed for the implementation of projects.
He says –quote–, “Legislators do not handle the funds and implement the projects. Their participation is but limited to the designation of beneficiaries and identification of projects.”
But Incoming Senate President Franklin Drilon says there’s no need for a Senate investigation.

FRANKLIN DRILON, INCOMING SENATE PRESIDENT: Let us allow the NBI and the DOJ to first finish their investigation. We will have conflict of interest in the Senate. We cannot investigate our own members. And because of this conflict of interest, whatever result comes out of the investigation will be questionable.

Resigned Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile releases a statement submitting himself to a full investigation of all his pork barrel allocations.
He says –quote–, “I have not received any bribe or in any way financially benefited from nor in exchange for the utilization of my PDAF.”

The Court of Appeals affirms an earlier ruling against former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, declaring him guilty of misconduct in connection with the aborted 329-million dollar national broadband network deal with ZTE Corp of China.
But the Court of Appeals downgrades Neri’s case from misconduct to simple misconduct, saying Neri is not liable for any corruption charges.
The NBN-ZTE deal was one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo.
The Ombudsman ordered Neri suspended for 6 months in 2009 for grave misconduct, based on how he supposedly attended lunch meetings with former elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, who allegedly brokered the botched deal.

The Philippine government sets conditions for its continued participation in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario meets with UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous and other officials in New York.
The Philippines sets the following conditions: that the UN deploy UNDOF’s full 1,250 troops by October 2013; that equipment for the protection of Filipino troops and UNDOF are procured; and that the Philippines is allowed to deploy troops on a six month rotation.
Del Rosario says the Philippine troops will remain in UNDOF until August 11.
Ladsous says the UN wil work to provide — quote — “what is needed, consistent with the Disengagement Agreement and its protocols.”
Earlier, President Benigno Aquino threatened to withdraw Filipino troops unless they receive weapons and are protected from chemical arms.
In March 2013, 21 Filipino peacekeepers were kidnapped by Syrian rebels.
On June 6, a Filipino peacekeeper was wounded, prompting the Philippine government to reconsider its troops’ presence in Golan Heights.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs rebuffs China after the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Manila lied about the South China Sea dispute.
In a statement Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying says, “The Philippines’ claim that ‘it had exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful settlement of the dispute’ is completely not true.”
Hua is referring to a July 9 speech by Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in Belgium on the dispute between the Philippines and China.
In a press conference, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez calls the Chinese statement baseless.
He presents 8 points against China’s claim:
1. Both countries have been in consultations for more than 17 years without any progress;
2. The Philippines has had nearly 50 consultations with China since the Bajo de Masinloc intrusions of April 2012;
3. The Philippines invited China to hold informal talks early last year, but plans to meet further stopped because of China’s incursions into Bajo de Masinloc;
4. The Philippines publicly indicated its 3-track approach of diplomatic, political, and legal tracks, including arbitration;
5. Prior to filing an arbitration case, the Philippines sent China a verbal note inviting China to bring the issue to a dispute settlement mechanism;
6. On various occasions, the Philippines verbally invited China to discuss the issue in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea;
7. DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario visited Beijing 3 times to invite the Chinese Foreign Minister to visit Manila for consultations, without favorable response; and
8. China continues to maintain its hard line position of ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the South China Sea.
Hernandez adds the Philippines “remains steadfast in peacefully resolving” the dispute before the United Nations tribunal.

China’s gross domestic product slows to 7.5% in the April to June quarter, a second consecutive slowdown in growth of the world’s number two economy.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics says growth in the first 6 months of the year came in at 7.6%.
Growth in the first 3 months of the year was 7.7%,
a decrease from the 7.9% recorded in the last quarter of 2012.
A bureau spokesman says China’s economic performance in the first half was –quote– “generally stable” and within expectations.
Results so far prove disappointing after the 7.8% annual performance in 2012, itself the worst in 13 years.

A Florida jury finds neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in a racially charged trial that polarized the nation.
Zimmerman is accused of pursuing the teenager in Sanford, Florida, and shooting him during a fight in February 2012.
Prosecutors say Zimmerman racially profiled Martin and started the fight, while defense attorneys claim he acted in self-defense after Martin slammed his head on the pavement.
The verdict sparks overnight protests in various US cities.
In a statement issued by the White House Sunday, US President Barack Obama urges the nation to accept the verdict.
Obama says, “The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy…I know this case has elicited strong passions…But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

At number 3, Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai says the Taliban and other extremists –quote– “do not understand the importance of education.”
The 16-year-old education advocate says the Taliban are afraid of educated, empowered women.
She also says she does not want to be known as the girl the Taliban tried to kill, but as “the girl who struggled for her rights.”
Malala makes a widely praised speech at the United Nations, her first public speaking engagement since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head last October in a bid to end her campaign to get girls into schools.
The teenager, considered a strong candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, says she will continue her struggle “for a right to live in peace, for a right to go to school.”

At number 6, Asiana Airlines plans to sue US transport authorities and a TV station for mistakenly confirming and airing racist, fake names for the pilots behind a fatal crash in San Francisco last weekend.
KTVU news Channel 2 in Oakland cites the National Transportation Safety Board as its source for the names, but quickly realized the mistake and apologized.
The NTSB later apologizes, saying an intern mistakenly confirmed the offensive names.
But Asiana says the incident “seriously tarnished the dignity of the four pilots as well as the company.”
Three people died when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.
More than 180 were injured.

And at number 9, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is revealed as the secret writer of a critically acclaimed crime novel published under a pseudonym.
Sales of the book “The Cuckoo’s Calling” soar after the Sunday Times newspaper unveils Rowling as the writer behind the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith.”
The newspaper looked into Galbraith after suspicions were raised about how a first-time author could write such an assured debut novel.
Rowling says the pseudonym is a “liberating experience,” adding: “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

Cory Monteith, one of the stars of hit US television show “Glee,” was found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver, Canada, Saturday — Sunday in Manila.
The actor’s body was found at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel.
Hotel staff discovered the body after Monteith missed his check-out time.
In a statement, Vancouver police say Monteith checked into the hotel on July 6.
Police say the cause of death is not immediately apparent, but rule out foul play.
In April, news broke that the star admitted himself to a drug treatment facility.

– Rappler.com

Newscast production staff

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

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