Rappler Newscast | August 19, 2013

Rappler.com
2 provinces are put under a state of calamity. Death toll in Cebu ferry collision rises 52. President Aquino rejects calls to abolish the pork barrel.

Today on Rappler.

  • 2 provinces are under a state of calamity as torrential rains flood Luzon.
  • The Death toll in Cebu ferry collision rises 52.
  • President Aquino rejects calls to abolish the pork barrel.

Story 1: FLOOD SHUTS DOWN PARTS OF LUZON
Torrential rain shuts down most of Metro Manila and causes severe flooding across 8 provinces in Luzon, forcing the provinces of Laguna and Cavite and the municipalities of Sta Maria and Narvacan in Ilocos Sur to be placed under a state of calamity.
The southwest monsoon causes widespread floods, forcing authorities to close schools, government offices, and the stock exchange.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC reports 3 people died and 11 are injured.
4 people are still missing.
Nearly 20,000 families or 94,000 people are affected in five regions, while 213 barangays in 36 municipalities remain flooded.
State weather bureau Pagasa warns residents of Central Luzon to expect “heavy to intense” rains Monday evening as Tropical Storm Maring — international name Trami — remains inside the Philippines, enhancing the southwest monsoon.
As of 4pm, the storm is located 580 km east of Itbayat, Batanes.
It is forecast to move east at 7 kph.

Story 2: THOUSANDS CROWD EVACUATION CENTERS IN LUZON
Authorities are on alert for more rain in Central Luzon as thousands crowd evacuation centers across the region.
At least 7,808 families are now in 113 evacuation centers.
Social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman says 11 evacuation centers are set up in Laguna and Cavite, 2 provinces now under a state of calamity.
Over 200 families evacuate in Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal.
Commenting on the recent pork barrel scandal involving lawmakers’ funds, Rizal residents Virginia Badilla and Rosenda Infante say the money could have helped those affected by the rain.

VIRGINIA BADILLA, EVACUEE: Imbis na itutulong, hindi naman ibibigay sa tao. Ang tao naghihirap. Hindi naman tama yun. (The money is supposed to help the people but they don’t benefit from it. The people suffer. That’s not right.)
ROSENDA INFANTE, EVACUEE: Kung ibinigay ba sa amin yon, eh di wala nang problema. Eh di kahit paano, makakagawa na kami ng bahay, at saka hindi na kami titira sa tabi ng ilog. (Had the money been given to us then there wouldn’t be any problems. We would have been able to build our houses and not live on the riverside.)

But Infante still manages a happy face.

ROSENDA INFANTE, EVACUEE: Ilang araw na kami dito, kahapon pa, hanggang ngayon. Hanggang bukas pa kami. Kung iisipin namin, nakakaawa naman kami, diba? Medyo masaya ng konti para. Sabi nga ng iba kahit masaya, ay kahit malungkot, masaya kami. (We have been here since yesterday. We’ll stay here until tomorrow. It’s sad when you think about it. We just try to laugh it off, so even though the situation is sad, we’re still happy.)

Soliman announces P39 million in emergency relief funds are allocated for affected families.
The emergency relief resources include standby funds, family food packs, other food items, and non-food items.
Rappler’s civic engagement arm Move.PH maps evacuation centers and compiles relief efforts to help the victims.
If you are organizing a relief drive or accepting relief donations, let us know by tweeting us at @moveph or by using the hashtag #ReliefPH.

Story 3: CEBU FERRY DISASTER DEATH TOLL RISES
The death toll from the ferry disaster in Cebu rises to 52 Monday, as more bodies are pulled from the water.
The M/V St Thomas Aquinas ferry was carrying 870 passengers and crew when it collided with a cargo ship Friday night near the port of Cebu.
Divers recover 10 more bodies Monday morning, including the body of a 4-year-old child near the hull of the sunken ship.
Divers and patrol boats continue to search for 68 others still missing.
The accident causes an oil spill, complicating retrieval operations.
In a statement Monday, 2GO Group says it deployed two towage tugboats at the site to contain the oil spill.
The ferry was loaded with 120,000 liters of bunker oil; 20,000 liters of diesel; and 20,000 liters of lube oil.
On Monday, the entire province of Cebu is placed under a state of calamity because of the oil spill.
The cities of Lapu-Lapu and Talisay and the municipality of Cordova report oil slicks reaching their shores, threatening coastal barangays and fishing grounds.

Story 4: AQUINO REJECTS ABOLITION OF PORK BARREL ANEW
President Benigno Aquino says the pork barrel is here to stay — this, despite calls to abolish lawmakers’ pork following reports of misuse and corruption.
The president though says he supports stricter punishment for those who misuse it.
Aquino’s statement comes after a special audit report shows at least P6.165 billion was released to questionable non-governmental organizations, with at least 192 lawmakers involved.
Aquino says there is a need to improve the way funds are disbursed, saying there should be “more restriction, wide safeguards and better monitoring of the implementation” of projects.
He adds, “I think it’s difficult to generalize and say the whole system is wrong. What’s just is to scrutinize how it was used.”
He also defends keeping the pork barrel, which he says is useful in addressing problems in districts known only to their lawmakers.
Aquino adds, “If we take it out, that means we rely on the national government to know the needs of every district and to solve these all the time. That’s hard to do.”

Story 5: SPEAKER: POSSIBLE COA ERROR IN WAY KURAT’S P3B
Speaker Sonny Belmonte questions a Commission on Audit report on the alleged misuse of the pork barrel after COA tagged Former Compostela Valley representative Manuel Zamora in the supposedly anomalous allocation.
A special audit of fund releases between 2007 and 2009 shows Zamora got P3.114 billion of pork barrel for infrastructure projects and 94.6 million for non-infra projects.
The bulk of P3.034 billion was allocated in a single year, 2007.
Zamora, who became known for his simplicity when he was a congressman, denied the report.
Belmonte says he saw copies of the Special Allotment Release Order that indicates state auditors must have committed a clerical error.
Belmonte says the SARO is addressed to the Department of Public Works and Highways central office and does not mention Zamora or his district.

Story 6: BONG, JPE, JINGGOY ‘SUKI’ TO NAPOLES NGOs
Senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada have all tried to distance themselves from alleged pork barrel queen Janet Napoles, but a special state audit shows the three are patrons of questionable non-governmental organizations controlled by Napoles.
Looking into senators’ fund releases from 2007 to 2009, the Commission on Audit found NGOs with links to Napoles got P1.23 billion from the 3 senators.
COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan says P2.1 billion of audited funds went to 10 NGOs “presently linked” to Napoles.
This means more than half of that amount came from just the allocations of Revilla, Enrile and Estrada.
The COA special report shows P422.99 million in Revilla’s funds was divided between 5 Napoles NGOs.
8 Napoles NGOs got P407.39 million of Enrile’s funds, while 3 got P396.25 million of Estrada’s funds.

Story 7: AQUINO: DOJ ‘ALMOST READY’ TO FILE CASES VS NAPOLES
President Benigno Aquino orders Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to immediately file the top 3 strongest cases against Janet Lim-Napoles.
On Monday, Aquino says at least 2 to 3 cases are “almost ready” to be filed against Napoles.
The National Bureau of Investigation is probing Napoles for allegedly heading a scam where lawmakers gave their funds in exchange for commissions.
On Sunday, De Lima says the NBI’s probe is now “full blown” after the release of a state audit report.
She says the report covers a –quote– “much wider web of anomalies” but adds the NBI will focus on transactions entered into by Napoles and her NGOs for now.

Story 8: PISTORIUS TO FACE TRIAL IN MARCH OVER GIRLFRIEND’S KILLING
A magistrate rules sprint star Oscar Pistorius will go on trial in March for the murder of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.
Pistorius is back in the dock six months after shooting Reeva Steenkamp in the bathroom of his upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of February 14.
The athlete known as “Blade Runner”, who is currently out on bail, admits killing Steenkamp but denies murder.
He says he shot Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door, thinking she was an intruder.
The magistrate says the trial will start at the High Court on March 3 and run until March 20.
The 26-year-old double amputee faces a life sentence if found guilty. 

Story 9: GOOGLE DOWNTIME CAUSES GLOBAL TRAFFIC DROP
Google goes down from 7:37am to 7:48am Manila time on Saturday, affecting all Google services like Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive and more.
Web analytics service GoSquared reports a 40% drop in traffic during the 11-minute outage.
On its Apps Status Dashboard, Google later releases a statement reporting the issues have been resolved.

Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 4, The United Nations says more than 15,000 Syrian Kurds pour into Iraq over the past few days to escape deadly clashes between Kurdish fighters and jihadists.
The sudden influx of Syrians across the border forces the UN refugee agency to provide aid to the region.
Several thousand are housed at a camp west of the Kurdish regional capital Arbil, although it’s still under construction and lacks many basic services.

At number 7, the Republican Party denies two US television networks the rights to carry presidential primary debates unless they abandon their documentaries on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
NBC Entertainment is planning a miniseries and CNN is working on a documentary about the former secretary of state.
The Republican Party says networks that spend millions to “spotlight” Clinton have “obvious biases.”
Clinton, a former first lady and US senator, is seen as the clear Democratic frontrunner for president.

At number 8, instead of being used for attacks, drones are being used to monitor crops and study ancient ruins in Peru.
These drones are hand-held contraptions, equipped with a microcomputer, a GPS tracker, a compass, cameras and an altimeter.
These can be easily programmed to fly autonomously and return to base with vital data.

And at number 10, Fil-Am actress Megan Young is Miss World Philippines 2013.
She will compete in the international pageant on September 28 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Young was supposed to be an official candidate in Binibining Pilipinas 2013 but was rejected because of a sexy photo spread.
She tried out months later for Miss World Philippines.
Young competes with 133 other nations for the international crown.

Multicopter image from Shutterstock

– 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