Rappler Newscast | August 23, 2013

Aquino: ‘overhauled’ pork barrel will replace PDAF. Keen says Internet has been an “epic failure.” Trials for the gang-rape of an Indian student move towards conclusions.

Today on Rappler.

  • President Aquino says an ‘overhauled’ pork barrel system will replace the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
  • Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen says the Internet has been an “epic failure” for 25 years after its invention.
  • The trials for the 2012 gang-rape of an Indian student move towards their conclusions.


Backtracking, President Benigno Aquino now says it’s time to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF.
But what he proposes is an overhauled pork barrel system — supposedly designed to be more transparent — to replace the PDAF.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Nakita natin sa mga ulat na lumabas nitong mga nakaraang linggo: kailangan pa ng mas malaking pagbabago upang labanan ang mga talagang pursigidong abusuhin ang sistema. Panahon na po upang i-abolish ang PDAF. Ngayon, bubuo tayo ng bagong mekanismo upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng inyong mga mamamayan at sektor– sa paraang tapat, gamit ang tama at makatuwirang proseso, at nang may sapat na mga kalasag laban sa pang-aabuso at katiwalian. (As the events of the past weeks have shown, greater change is necessary to fight against those who are determined to abuse the system. It is time to abolish the PDAF. Now, we will create a new mechanism to address the needs of your constituents and sectors, in a manner that is transparent, methodical and rational, and not susceptible to abuse or corruption.)

The president’s announcement comes after media reports on the alleged systematic siphoning of lawmakers’ funds and a state audit report showing at least 192 lawmakers misused P6.1 billion of pork barrel.
Days ago, the President stood firm on keeping the pork, saying not all lawmakers misuse their funds.
The announcement comes 3 days before the anti-pork barrel rallies planned by various sectors in Metro Manila and key cities across the country.
Aquino makes the announcement with Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
Both earlier dismissed calls for a congressional probe into the scam.
The President also orders the creation of an Inter-Agency, Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC), which will investigate alleged misuse of pork barrel.
Aquino says the pork barrel system will go through a major overhaul, which he says will prevent public funds from going toward questionable transactions.
A limited menu will be allowed government funding, and project details will be required before funds are released.

House Speaker Sonny Belmonte says non-government organizations will no longer receive pork barrel from lawmakers.
Belmonte says this is the meat of the President’s announcement that the pork barrel system will be overhauled.
Belmonte says some lawmakers may resist the move but he adds it is not “unreasonable.”
Every year, each senator gets P200 million of pork…
while representatives get P70 million each.
Lawmakers are free to allocate those funds to “priority projects” but in recent years, some NGOs get portions of the pork for ghost projects.
Aquino also abolishes the government-owned ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation and National Agri-business Corp, which were found to have funneled funds to questionable NGOs.
What will happen now is Congress will have to break down what every lawmaker intends to do with the PDAF.

It’s been three years since 8 Hong Kong tourists died in Manila in a bungled hostage rescue attempt.
The brother of a slain tour guide says the Philippine government is not doing enough for the victims.
Bea Cupin reports.

ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: I’m very sorry about this unfortunate incident… and then again… I did not apologize to anybody. I just said that I’m just sorry for the unfortunate incident that happened.

In typical Erap-speak, the Mayor of Manila says he is not apologizing, even if he is.
Three years after a hostage-taking incident in the Philippine capital, he claims things are different in the city.

ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: Now that I’m the incumbent mayor, I can assure all the tourists… especially the Hong Kong tourists that they are very safe here.

On August 23, 2010, 8 Hong Kong nationals died at the Quirino Grandstand after disgruntled Manila police officer Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held 25 people hostage.
21 of the 25 were tourists from Hong Kong.
The victims and their families demand a formal apology from the Philippines.
President Aquino says — and maintains — a formal apology is not needed.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda says, “It is unfortunate the incident happened but we have expressed regrets several times over the incident.”
Earlier this week, the South China Morning post quotes Estrada as saying: “On behalf of the people of Manila, as the mayor, I want to say we are sorry for the incident, for what happened to the victims.”
He told the Hong Kong based newspaper, his predecessor Alfredo Lim, a former friend turned bitter rival should have apologized immediately.
He also vows to improve peace and order in the city, called by famous book author Dan Brown as the “Gates of hell.”

ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: My vision is that no city, no province, no country can move forward if there is no peace and order.

The victims and their families file a case against the Philippine government a day before the incident’s 3-year anniversary.
They demand an apology and compensation.  
Former Mayor Lim, whom Estrada beat in the last elections, is among those being sued.
Asked about the suit, Lacierda says “until the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong receives the complaint, we withhold any comment regarding the lawsuit.”
Estrada, for his part, can only assure victims and their families of one thing:

ERAP ESTRADA, MANILA MAYOR: I’ll see to it… I guarantee their safety here.

It’s little comfort for Tse Chi-hang, brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse, who says there is no sign the Philippine government is taking responsibility.   
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Manila.

Author of the book Cult of the Amateur Andrew Keen lambasts the internet saying it has been an “epic failure” for 25 years after its invention.
He compares the Internet to a person who, upon reaching the age of 25, should have grown more accountable.

ANDREW KEEN, AUTHOR, CULT OF THE AMATEUR: I wanna argue today that the first 25 years of the Web experience has, for the most part, been a failure, I’m going to calI my next book “Epic Failure”. It’s failed in most respects… It doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed the world, in fact it has changed the world, that’s why its so important to have this conversation. That’s why it’s so important to note the current epic failure of the the internet. Most user-generated content is embarrassing…How many of you would advertise on these uncontrolled user-generated content networks? [These] are full of bile and spite, dominated by stalkers… dominated by pornography…The challenge is how to monetize digital, how to get consumers who’ve been spoiled by services like Google that there’s nothing noble, nothing good about free, free is a catastrophe. Free is a cultural abomination.

Keen criticized one of the organizers, Google, which he called a “central character” in the Internet’s failure.
He calls the Google guys the ‘nicest monopolists around’ and calls himself the nicest anti-Google guy you’ll ever find.

ANDREW KEEN, AUTHOR, CULT OF THE AMATEUR: The villain, unwillingly in some ways, & consciously in others, in Cult of the Amateur, the driving figure in the Web 2.0 revolution is Google. What Google figured out was how they could cleverly leverage our collective intelligence. The more we used the Google search engine the more intelligent it became…What Google figured out to do was a way of creating content without paying for that content…The artificial algorithm, the secret sauce of the Google economic miracle is built by all of us, its user generated content. It’s a weird arrangement, we’re doing the heavy lifting, the algorithm, and Google reaps the economic benefits.

He says the problem with the “Faustian deal” with Google is that this technology allows Google to know us better than we know ourselves. 
He adds, we are watching the rise of the new monopolies– the flow of wealth going to Silicon Valley.
He adds the industry elites have been replaced by the digital elites.
On big data, Keen says the same arguments apply: the threat of the internet because we reveal more about ourselves.

ANDREW KEEN, AUTHOR, CULT OF THE AMATEUR: Data is the new oil, but says we’re losing our privacy to the collective narcissism. This shift from content to technology is undermining the middles class.
Keene says Social Media is not making us grow closer but actually fragmenting us. 

In direct contrast to author Andrew Keen, co-founder of analytics company Core Lab Nancy Roberts says Internet enabled technologies are redrawing the line between life and death during disasters.
Roberts is an expert on the immense power of the Internet to connect problems to solutions.
She says we might one day use the Internet to tackle what she called “wicked problems — problems so complex they defy all definitions and cannot be objectively answered.
The extreme flooding in Metro Manila during tropical storm “Maring” is a wicked problem.
Roberts showed how the Internet is connecting citizens with government to solve community problems.
It even answers the problem of funding for artists and entrepreneurs.

NANCY ROBERTS, CO-FOUNDER, CORE LAB: Every wicked problem is in a nest of other problems. It’s like peeling the layers of an onion. You treat these wicked problems based on their context. Without a definitive definition of the problem no definitive solution exists.

Her case studies include the crowdsourcing initiative Ushahidi, an application that connected victims of a Haiti earthquake with the Red Cross by crowdsourcing information and mapping the help needed using big data.
She also talked about crowdfunding website Kiva.org which grants loans of a minimum $25 to users who submit a project plan or business plan.

State weather bureau Pagasa says a new low pressure area or LPA enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility and is moving closer to Mindanao.
The new LPA is spotted 640 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.
It is expected to bring cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rain over the eastern sections of Mindanao.
The new LPA follows tropical storm Maring — international name Trami — which enhanced the southwest monsoon and brought heavy rains across Luzon this week.

The trials of 5 suspects for the gang-rape of an Indian student in December 2012 moves towards their conclusions Thursday.
Police say the men raped the 23-year-old woman and beat her with an iron rod. She died two weeks after the attack.
The first verdict is set on August 31.
Her death sparked massive protests and public outrage, pushing parliament to pass a law toughening sentences for rapists.

At number 7, The US soldier convicted for leaking secret government documents wants to be known by a different name — as a female.
On Thursday, Bradley Manning announces a plan to begin hormone therapy.
In a statement, Manning writes, “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning.”
On Wednesday, Manning is sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking thousands of classified documents.
During the trial, lawyers showed a photo of Manning wearing lipstick and a blonde wig.
They say this showed the stress the 25-year-old soldier felt.

At number 8, Egypt’s state prosecutor clears ousted leader Hosni Mubarak for conditional release from prison while he stands trial.
The former leader was convicted last year of corruption and complicity in the murder of protesters during the uprising that ousted him in early 2011.
He will be placed under house arrest after leaving prison.

And at number 10, For the first time since 2011, Yahoo beats Google as the most visited website in the United States in July.
Internet analytics company comScore reports the search engine underdog bests its long-time competitor — getting 196.6 million visitors to Google’s 192.3 million.
Yahoo’s win is notable for CEO Marissa Mayer, who took over the reins of the company in July last year.

One year and 8 months after going online, Rappler officially leaves beta.
Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria makes the announcement at the #ThinkPH Big Data Summit Friday, marking the website’s official launch.
In her opening remarks, Gloria acknowledges the power of social media’s growth and how Rappler provides context and analysis for its readers.
With Rappler now out of beta, the site will be getting some upgrades.
The website is now completely mobile responsive, in addition to the Rappler app available on iOS and Android.
The site also features a new mega-drop-down menu, which allows users to easily find site content, with story thumbnails acting as indicators to new stories on Rappler.com.
While Rappler leaves beta, the spirit of constant innovation remains, with new features pushing Rappler.com to new milestones in the future.

– 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