Rappler Newscast | August 16, 2013

Rappler.com
State audit reveals NGOs of Napoles got P2.1 billion. CA freezes Napoleses' bank accounts. In Egypt, Morsi supporters call for a “Friday of anger.”

Today on Rappler.

  • A state audit reveals the NGOs of pork barrel queen Janet Napoles got P2.1 billion.
  • The Court of Appeals freezes the bank accounts of the Napoleses.
  • In Egypt, more violence feared as Morsi supporters call for a “Friday of anger.”

Story 1: COA: NAPOLES NGOS GOT P2.1-B IN ‘PORK’
A report by the Commission on Audit shows pork barrel queen Janet Napoles got over 2 billion pesos of lawmakers’ funds between 2007 to 2009.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Auditors say around P 6 billion went to questionable NGOs, with the collusion of legislators.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.

GRACE TAN, COA CHAIRMAN: Kung si Cardinal Tagle ay naluha, ako napahagulhol. (If Cardinal Tagle cried, I bawled.)

It was never a secret the pork barrel is a source of corruption.
But the details revealed by the Commission on Audit in a newly released report is so shocking it exceeds expectations.

GRACE TAN, COA CHAIRMAN: Ten of the NGOs which received a total of P2.157 billion are presently linked to Janet Lim Napoles. And 6 other NGOS which received a total of 189 million were found to have included legislators whose PDAF were transferred to these NGOs or isang relative nila ay incorporator ng isa sa 6 NGOs. (Either that or, a relative of theirs was an incorporator in one of the 6 NGOs.)

Senators get P200 million while congressmen get 70 million of pork barrel every year.
But 74 of them received more than their rightful share.

ERRATUM:  Recieved should have been spelled received on the video. 

GRACE TAN, COA CHAIRMAN: Hindi lang isang milyon ang lampas. Hundreds of millions. Meron pang isang mambabatas na tumanggap ng 3 billion na allocation ng PDAF. Kasama po dito sa 101 billion ang isang amount na 20 million from the allocation of a certain Luis Abalos. Sa aming pong pagsusuri hindi naman po siya naging mambabatas during 14th and 15th congress. (It not only exceeds a million. There’s also one lawmaker who received P3 Billion of PDAF allocation. Part of the P101 billion is a P20 million amount from the allocation of a certain Luis Abalos. Our research shows Abalos was not a lawmaker during the 14th or 15th congress.)

Some funds were released for projects outside the legislative districts of sponsoring congressmen, and the list of beneficiaries are questionable.

GRACE TAN, COA CHAIRMAN: Kasi may mga listahan na ang mga pangalan ay kinuha sa listahan ng pumasa ng board, ng bar. (There were some lists that included people whose names were lifted from board exam passers.)

The COA report shows that Janet Lim Napoles is not alone.
It reveals a widespread pork barrel scam where lawmakers themselves, in spite their repeated denials– have a big say if not total control in selecting the recipients.

GRACE TAN, COA CHAIRMAN: The releases were made essentially at the behest of the sponsoring legislators. In all of these cases, almost 100 percent.

This is not even the complete story.
The probe only covers 2007 to 2009, and select government departments, government owned and controlled corporations, NGOs, and LGUs that were included in the probe because they received the biggest releases during those 2 years.

CARMELA FONBUENA, REPORTING: It’s one revelation after another of how lawmakers have been abusing their pork barrel. This leads us to the question, is it time to abolish the pork barrel? The extent of the abuse are agitating Filipinos who expect to see change but fear they have not seen the worst in the pork scandal.

Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Quezon City.

Story 2: COURT: FREEZE NAPOLES ACCOUNTS
The Court of Appeals orders all bank accounts of Janet Lim-Napoles, her family members, relatives, and staff frozen.
The freeze order also covers the accounts of non-government organizations linked to the Napoleses and their staff.
The Court issues the order following a petition filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council or AMLC.
The order will be effective for 6 months.
Levito Baligod, counsel of Napoles’ former employees, says the AMLC can request to extend the period of the freeze order if it finds more evidence.
A Rappler investigation shows the Napoles family owns properties in the US worth a combined P495 million, acquired during years when their registered businesses in the Philippines reported net profits of a little more than half a million pesos.
On Friday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the freeze order covers more than 400 accounts.
107 of these accounts belong to Janet Napoles.

Story 3: NAPOLES CAMP ASKS CA TO STOP ARREST
Lawyers of Janet Lim-Napoles asks the Court of Appeals to stop the implementation of the arrest warrant against her.
On Wednesday, a Makati court ordered the arrest of Napoles and her brother, Reynaldo Lim, over charges they illegally detained whistleblower Benhur Luy.
The National Bureau of Investigation urges the siblings to surrender.
But Napoles lawyer Lorna Kapunan, justifies her client’s evading arrest.
Kapunan says she doesn’t know where Napoles is, but adds, “If you were her, wouldn’t you hide, too?”
On Friday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says Napoles’ appeal with the Court of Appeals is “premature.”

LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: I don’t understand why they would proceed directly to the CA. I think thats premature. Any remedy they want to seek, they want to avail of, should first and foremost be addressed to the very court that issued the arrest warrant. They cannot just proceed directly to the CA, I think that should be dismissible outright for prematurity.

Story 4: NAPOLES’ BROTHER TRIED TO LEAVE PH TWICE
The Bureau of Immigration says the brother of Janet Napoles tried to leave the Philippines twice in just one day in early August.
Both Lim and Napoles are wanted by authorities for serious illegal detention of their cousin, Benhur Luy, the whistleblower in the multi-million peso pork barrel scam.
Immigration Regulation Division chief Danilo Almeda says Lim tried to leave for Busan, South Korea on Aug 2, 2013.
He later tried to board a flight for Kuala Lumpur but was blocked by immigration officials.
At that time, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued a lookout bulletin for Lim and Napoles.
Following the issuance of a warrant of arrest against the siblings, immigration officers are on alert for the Napoleses.

Story 5: WHERE DID P331M NAT’L MUSEUM ENDOWMENT FUND GO?
The Commission on Audit and employees of the National Museum want to know what happened to the P331-million endowment fund meant for research and development of the museum.
On Friday, museum employees demand an explanation from museum officials and trustees who reportedly invested the fund in two private investment banks.
They call for the resignation of officials, including National Museum Chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr, National Museum Director Jeremy Barns and Assistant Director Ana Maria Teresa Labrador.
State auditor Victoria Yumang says P306-M of the museum’s funds were taken out of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
The amounts were deposited in private banks in Makati and are authorized by Barns.
As of June 2013, the deposited amounts now total P331 million.
In an interview with ABS-CBN in June, Del Rosario says the endowment fund was “intact.”
He says he authorized the transfer to private banks “in good faith” to make the money grow.
GMA News quotes Barns as saying he was not told it was “improper” for him to transfer the fund to private banks.

Story 6: SENATE SCRUTINY OF PH-US TALKS PUSHED
Senate President Franklin Drilon wants the Senate actively involved in the ongoing talks between the Philippines and United States on a new agreement that will expand US military presence in the Philippines.
In a statement, Drilon says, “The devil is in the details…I will examine the outcome of the negotiations to see to it that it will not infringe on the lives of our people and their guaranteed rights.”
In June, the Philippines announced plans to give the US wider access to Philippine military bases in the wake of tensions between the Philippines and China over territories in the South China Sea.
The agreement will allow increased presence of US troops in the Philippines and boost maritime security.
The Philippine and US panels held their first round of talks on Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta says they agreed Filipinos will have full control of military bases and Americans cannot bring in nuclear weapons.

Story 7: CAAP SUSPENDS ZEST AIR FOR SAFETY VIOLATIONS
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines or CAAP suspends the license of low-cost carrier Zest Air for safety violations.
In a letter, CAAP deputy general John Andrews says the airline’s Air Operator Certificate is suspended until the –quote– “necessary corrective actions and compliance with aviation safety standards [have] been undertaken.”
Earlier this month, the airline was placed under “heightened surveillance” after mechanical problems forced the budget carrier to cancel several flights.

Story 8: LEACHON ASKS ONA TO RESIGN OVER STEM CELL ISSUE
Mindoro Rep Doy Leachon asks Health Secretary Enrique Ona to resign over his stand to allow stem cell products in the market even without registration to encourage “innovation.”
In a phone interview Tuesday, Leachon says, “People’s lives are at stake here. If the advocacy of the [health] secretary will continue, I am calling for his resignation.”
In March, Ona issued an administrative order listing the types of stem cell treatment allowed, prohibited, and restricted in accredited facilities.
The FDA though has not yet approved any stem cell or stem cell-based products to be used in the procedure.
Leachon says allowing facilities to perform stem cell treatments but having no approved product to administer does not make sense.
On August 10, 21 medical organizations publish a statement urging practitioners not to use stem cell therapy for unproven indications and not to charge patients for the “experimental drug.”

Story 9: EGYPT BRACES FOR ‘FRIDAY OF ANGER’ AFTER CARNAGE
Egypt’s Islamists call for a “Friday of anger” after nearly 600 people are killed in a crackdown on their Cairo protest camps.
The call raises fears of fresh violence after the death toll from nationwide clashes soars to 578.
Police clash with supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
The interim government imposes curfews and a state of emergency in the country.
World leaders criticize the bloody handling of the crisis, with the United Nations Security Council holding an emergency meeting.
Governments in several European capitals summon Egyptian envoys to voice their concern, and Turkey recalls its ambassador to Cairo in protest.
In Washington, US President Barack Obama announces the cancellation of a joint US-Egyptian military exercise.
He says, “While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.”

Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 6, The United Nations sends a team to Syria to investigate claims of chemical weapons use.
The UN says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government agreed to allow inspectors to go to 3 sites where the use of these weapons has been reported.
The UN team will try to establish whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them.
The Syrian government and rebel forces accuse each other of using the weapons, but both sides deny it.

At number 8, US Army private Bradley Manning apologizes for leaking secret intelligence files to WikiLeaks.
Some consider Manning a whistleblower, but the US government says he put his fellow soldiers in danger.
Manning’s defense team argues his superiors ignored signs of emotional distress, including his struggle with his sexual identity.
As part of the trial, his lawyers release a photograph showing Manning in a blonde wig and wearing makeup.
The photo was attached to an email Manning sent his therapist, where he discusses his gender identity.

And at number 9, Google is gearing up to become an intelligent personal assistant.
The search company adds personalized voice searches that answer your questions about yourself.
Ask Google to look up where you’re having lunch, your hotel reservations, or flight details, and Google will pull in the information from your Google accounts.
The company will be rolling out the new features to users in the United States.

– Rappler.com

Newscast production staff

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER Lilibeth Frondoso
DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER Rodneil Quiteles
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK Vicente Roxas
  Exxon Ruebe
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN Charlie Salazar
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona