Rappler Newscast | November 19, 2013

The SC declares pork barrel unconstitutional. Carpio: DAP was implemented without President’s approval since 2011. Albay gov: start rebuilding.

Today on Rappler.

    • The Supreme Court declares the pork barrel system unconstitutional.
    • Justice Antonio Carpio says the DAP has been implemented without the President’s written approval since 2011. 
    • Albay Gov Joey Salceda tells shattered communities: stop self-pity and start rebuilding.

The Supreme Court declares legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel unconstitutional.
Supreme Court spokesman Ted Te says the vote against the PDAF is 14-0.
Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr inhibited from the case because his son is a congressman.
Justice Antonio Carpio earlier called the PDAF in the 2013 budget quote–“illegal on its face” because it made the identification of a lawmaker’s project “mandatory” rather than “recommendatory.”
Carpio says the 2013 General Appropriations Act violated the Constitution when it gave cabinet secretaries the President’s power to realign savings, and required the concurrence of Congress to release funds.
In its decision, the Court says the pork barrel system violates the principle that legislative power cannot be delegated because legislators are given the authority to appropriate “personal, discretionary funds.”
With the Supreme Court decision, the temporary restraining order on the PDAF imposed in September is now permanent.
The remaining 2013 allocations will be returned to the government’s coffers.
Ahead of the decision, both chambers of Congress waived their right to their frozen PDAF for 2013, and authorized the President to use it as a calamity fund.
The High Court also strikes down as illegal provisions in two laws that allow the President to use the Malampaya Fund and the President’s Social Fund or PSF for purposes beyond the mandate of the funds.
In its decision, the Court stops the release of money from the Malampaya fund that is not for energy projects and activities.
The justices also stopped the release of parts of the PSF used “to finance… priority infrastructure development projects.”
The Court’s decision is a response to several petitions questioning the PDAF’s constitutionality in the wake of the pork barrel scam, where lawmakers allegedly funneled their funds to fake NGOs in exchange for kickbacks.

On the first day of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says the budget department has been implementing the DAP without the written approval of the President since 2011.  
Bayan Muna partylist Representative Carlos Zarate says the Department of Budget and Management or DBM issued the National Budget Circular 541 in July 2012, which allowed DBM to withdraw “unobligated allotments” and use them to cover additional funding for existing projects, augment existing programs, and fund priority projects not considered in the 2012 budget.
Carpio says the DBM circular validated what was done in 2011, when DAP was introduced.
The Executive justifies the DAP as the government’s spending booster program, but critics say it expanded the President’s constitutional powers to realign savings to fund items not in the budget laws of 2012 and 2013.
Former Senator Joker Arroyo calls the DAP an invention of the DBM after Sen Jinggoy Estrada said extra funds were given to senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The funds came from the DAP, but the government denies it was a bribe.
Petitioner Manuel Lazaro says the power to appropriate funds lies with Congress, not with the DBM.
Zarate adds, “The DAP constitutes Presidential pork, with the discretion for its disbursement lying in the President, through the DBM.”
In his interpellation of Zarate, Justice Marvic Leonen points out Zarate is attacking the DBM circular which is valid only for 2012.
Leonen also hits petitioner lawyer Raymund Fortun for his opening statement, where he talked about the possible impeachment of Supreme Court justices in relation to DAP and the alleged use of DAP to bribe senators.
Leonen asks Fortun if this was a threat.
He tells Fortun, “Do you think that is necessary? Will this Court rule in your favor because of fear?”
Some justices also ask whether the petition is premature.
Leonen says there has been no proof there were irregularities in the use of the funds.
He adds, “It is not this court that should act as the Commission on Audit.
Your allegations might be happening, we do not know. But in order for us to find out, we have to know the facts.”
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno makes the same comment, adding petitioners must identify which specific items had irregularities.
The next oral arguments will be heard on December 10.

It’s now Day 11 since Typhoon Yolanda — international name Haiyan — hit the Philippines.
As of Tuesday, 6 more people are added to the death toll — 3,982 people are now confirmed dead.
At least 1,602 people are still missing.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council says more than 10 million people are affected by the typhoon.
The world’s most powerful storm left at least P11 billion worth of damages in agriculture and infrastructure.
Food and other supplies reach survivors, as roads are cleared to make relief deliveries faster, and communication lines are restored.
International aid is still pouring in.
As of Tuesday, total foreign aid pledged stands at P12 billion or $295 million.

After aid reaches all municipalities of Leyte, the struggle shifts to restoring normalcy to the lives of the people there.
But that will be hard to do without electricity.
Paterno Esmaquel reports.

For the first time in over a week, 8-year-old JB Gonzales can breathe easier.
JB had an asthma attack when super typhoon Yolanda struck, but for 10 days, his family couldn’t find a place to plug his nebulizer.
Super typhoon Yolanda destroyed power lines in the Visayas.
JB’s mother, Genedina, brings him to one of the few charging stations near the Tacloban City Hall.

GENEDINA BAQUEROS, MOTHER OF JB: Kailangan talaga ang kuryente namin para sa kanya, kasi yung mga dumi ba, sa paligid (JUMP CUT) Hindi siya nakakahinga. Inaano ko na lang ang likod niya, ginaganyan ko na lang. (We really need electricity for him, because of all the dirt around us… He can’t breathe well. I make do with caressing his back.)

Like JB, over 4 million people in the Eastern Visayas region suffer from a power blackout.
The government vows to restore electricity by Christmas Eve.
To bring back power, President Benigno Aquino says the government might use the controversial Malampaya fund.
The fund is an alleged source of corruption. The Supreme Court temporarily stopped its release.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: One of the issues is something like over 150 transmission towers of National Grid had been damaged. Now the question is, how do you pay for that? So I have tasked my legal counsel to study whether Malampaya would be the better avenue to restore this state asset. If you remember, the transmission lines are in effect just leased to the concessionaires and they are state assets.

In areas that Yolanda devastated, the challenge goes beyond restoring power.
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez asks the national government to quickly restore essential services.

ALFRED ROMUALDEZ, TACLOBAN CITY MAYOR: I think kailangan pag-aralan na natin yung building code, pag-aralan na natin ang zoning. Pero first things first, let’s attend to our people. Let’s shelter them. Let’s give them food. (I think we need to study the building code; we need to study zoning. But first things first, let’s attend to our people. Let’s shelter them. Let’s give them food.)

For the government, rebuilding after Yolanda remains a logistical nightmare.
But for people like JB, it spells survival.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Tacloban City

With typhoon Haiyan washing off medicines and damaging hospitals, much-needed medical aid from overseas is in Tacloban to tend the wounded.
Bea Cupin reports.

Different flags, countries, cultures.
International aid continues to pour into central Philippines.
The Japanese too have returned — they were once kicked out of Leyte in World War II… by the forces of US General Douglas MacArthur.
They are back— this time to provide medical aid.
But language barriers can sometimes be an obstacle.
The Japanese International Cooperation Agency has an ace up its sleeve… Filipino-speaking deputy team leader Shigehiro Matsuda.

SHIGEHIRO MATSUDA, JAPAN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY: Malakas kasi ang relasyon ng Hapon at Pilipinas siguro wala kaming choice na hindi pupunta, hindi tumulong sa kaibigang Filipino. (Japan and the Philippine has strong relations. We can’t not help our Filipino friends.)

With Shigehiro and other translators, the Japanese go around Tacloban and  towns devastated by Yolanda.

SHIGEHIRO MATSUDA, JAPAN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY: Ilang beses akong nakapunta sa Tacloban City kaya syempre alam ko kung gaano yung lugar na ito kaya talagang malungkot ako noong makita ko ang kalagayan. (I’ve been to Tacloban before so I know what it looks like. That’s why I was really saddened to see it after Yolanda.)

For a team of firemen from France, giving aid is a little more difficult.
Some don’t speak English.
The firemen team up with another group from France, Doctors Without Borders.

DR. BENARD CHRISTOPHE, FRENCH FIREMAN: We saw that there was the MSF (Doctors Without Borders) which is French, so the language is more… and they’re just inside to do the hospital.
Doctors Without Borders will construct an inflatable hospital within the week to fill the vacuum left behind by the now paralyzed Bethany Hospital.

The foreigners aren’t just from Europe and America.
Turkey, a nation at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, also has nationals here.
Ismail Buyukay and his team rushed to Tacloban right after they heard about Yolanda.

ISMAIL BUYUKAY, KIMSE YOK MU COORDINATOR: We have seen earthquakes and other disasters so when we came here and saw how it was, we were shocked.

An NGO from Turkey will send 300 tents to Tacloban.
Twelve doctors are also on their way here.

ISMAIL BUYUKAY, KIMSE YOK MU DISASTER COORDINATOR: However, it is a far country from Turkey but whenever disaster strikes, we would like to help those people.

The foreigners say they’ve been to many disasters around the globe.
But they all react the same way to Tacloban: shock.
Shigehiro studied in UP Diliman for 2 years.
He says he’s amazed to see the Filipino spirit is so resilient.
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Tacloban.

With massive reconstruction needed after the super typhoon, Albay Governor Joey Salceda says it’s time for affected communities to stop self-pity and start rebuilding.
Speaking from experience as the governor of a province frequently visited by calamities like storms and lahar flows, Salceda suggests steps toward rebuilding.
He says relief distribution should be systematic and fast.
Salceda also says it’s important to have a national conductor of relief efforts, but local officials should mobilize as well.
Salceda says it’s better to give victims money instead of food, because this gives them the option to choose what to eat and the power to spend.
gives them the option to choose what to eat and the power to spend.

JOEY SALCEDA, ALBAY GOVERNOR: Trust the locals, and cash is the best form of relief. Trust them, they will not steal from their own, in other words you can give them the money for…they can build their own houses once the location has been selected.

How much is needed for reconstruction? Based on past disasters like Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, Salceda says $14 billion is needed.
He suggests a donor pledging session, where international organizations and foreign governments can signify their donations.

JOEY SALCEDA, ALBAY GOVERNOR: I think with better governance now in the Philippines, there are incentives for donating in the Philippines, in mobilizing international generosity. Especially those who didn’t want to pay up in Warsaw will be paying here. So essentially that gives them the chance.

As the devastated areas begin rehabilitation, Salceda says it’s important to build better, durable infrastructure on higher ground.

JOEY SALCEDA, ALBAY GOVERNOR: Don’t build what is destroyed. Cause that means the risk is there. Building back better elsewhere…You need geo-strategic intervention because this is a nice chance to build a new Leyte, a new Waray nation or a new Tacloban City.

Asked about the government’s preparations before the typhoon struck, Salceda says there were problems translating the warnings into impacts.

JOEY SALCEDA, ALBAY GOVERNOR: Warning-wise, I think perfect. In terms of the impacts though, translating the warnings into impacts and exposure. When you say impacts, what will it mean, like to some people they thought it’s just the strong winds plus floods. So they missed out on the storm surge.

The typhoon blocked roads, cut communication lines, and crippled local officials’ disaster response.
Salceda says the national government should have then stepped in earlier.

JOEY SALCEDA, ALBAY GOVERNOR: The conclusion the LGUs cannot take on their appropriate jobs I think immediately the national government should have come in, bringing in all the trucks, restore law and order, restore communications. Since they can be reached by land through Matnog.

You can still help survivors of the typhoon by sending donations in cash and kind.
Rappler has a list of ongoing relief efforts — both here and abroad.
Survivors need more food and supplies like rice, water, canned goods, clothes, toiletries and medicines.
Take a look at Rappler’s list to see how you can help. Every little action counts.

It’s been 11 days since the super typhoon, but more than a thousand people are still missing.
For Filipinos in Hong Kong, waiting for news about their loved ones is difficult to bear.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

SALLY MOLINA, HONG KONG DOMESTIC WORKER: Iniisip ko kawawa doon sila. Wala silang makakain doon, nalalamigan sila, wala daw silang  damit. Mga kapitbahay ko doon lang sila sa tabi tabi. (I think of how much they must be suffering. They have nothing to eat, they feel cold, they have no clothes. My neighbors there, they just stay wherever they can.)

Sally can’t sleep, eat, or work.
It’s been 11 days since Super Typhoon Haiyan battered her home province Iloilo.
She says her coastal town of Brgy Agdaliran, San Dionisio, Iloilo is completely wiped out. Her house, destroyed.
Her mother and the rest of her family are safe.
But she has yet to hear from her youngest brother.
Elineo — a father of three — was near the shore when the typhoon struck.

SALLY MOLINA: Sana po buhay lang siya. Sana nakasamapay lang siya sa ibang isla. Tapos umuwi na siya sa pamilya niya. Kasi hinihintay siya ng mga anak niya. (I’m hoping he’s still alive. I hope he’s just trapped in an island somewhere. I hope he comes home to his family. Because his children are waiting for him.)

Helpless in Hong Kong, where she’s as a domestic worker, Sally is one of many Filipinos who constantly worry about family.
Hong Kong is home to 180,000 Filipinos, 91% of whom are domestic workers.
Many of them come from Eastern Visayas, the region most battered by Haiyan.
The typhoon left almost 4,000 dead and 4 million displaced.
Some areas there, including Sally’s remote village, went for days without aid.

SALLY MOLINA: Sana man lang mabigyan ang mga tao dun. Kawawa walang makain. Dapat sana makarating doon ang tulong galing sa ibang bansa. Sana mabigyan sila kahit konti lang. (I hope the people there are given help. I pity them they have nothing to eat. I hope foreign aid reaches them, even just a little.)

The consulate partners with the Hong Kong Red Cross to provide help in dealing with the emotional distress.

ELIZA CHEUNG YEE-LAI, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, HK RED CROSS: A lot of them are quite sad. They are looking for several family members. Two sons, two daughters, husbands as well as their parents, of course they must be very sad when they’re waiting for the news.

Philippine Consul General Noel Servigon says the Filipinos turned to each other for comfort, support and news.
The number one concern, was finding family.
The Philippine Consulate here says it received about 30 calls from OFWs reporting names of missing family.

NOEL SERVIGON, PH CONSUL-GENERAL TO HK: In my 25 years as a foreign service officer, whenever we have meetings or whenever we have to deal with disasters like these, we have learned that the number one concern of OFWs is communications. They want to know the status of their relatives, their loved ones and their friends.

The consulate forwards names reported by OFWs to the Department of Foreign Affairs to help trace family members.
The DFA then coordinates with other agencies on the ground.
As for Sally, she cries herself to sleep every night.
Her employer has bought her a ticket home so she can look for her missing brothers.
She says she wants to at least find his body, so she can say goodbye.

NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: Sally is only one of many Filipinos who continue to search for their loved ones. It’s been almost two weeks since typhoon Haiyan, but pain persists as the chance of finding the missing becomes dimmer and dimmer. Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Hong Kong.

The daughter of late US president John F Kennedy presents her credentials to Japan’s emperor in her new role as US Ambassador to Japan.
On Tuesday, Caroline Kennedy arrives at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace to meet the emperor.
Her arrival comes on the same week as the 50th anniversary of the assassination of her father.
John F Kennedy fought against Japan during World War II, but later hoped to make a state visit.
Speaking to a Senate committee in September, Caroline Kennedy says she would be “humbled” to carry her father’s legacy and — quote– “represent the powerful bonds that unite our two democratic societies.”
But some political analysts question her credentials, saying she has no background in foreign affairs and is “a political neophyte.”

At number 7, Japanese nuclear engineers prepare to move uranium and plutonium fuel rods at Fukushima, an important step in the plant’s decommissioning plan, two years after a tsunami smashed into the power plant.
Operator Tokyo Electric Power will also have to remove the misshapen cores of three reactors that went into meltdown.
TEPCO says the entire operation is scheduled to run for more than a year, but the full decommissioning is likely to take decades.

At number 9, Controversial Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is stripped of many of his powers after a heated city council debate.
The Guardian reports the meeting comes on the heels of the mayor’s recent drug abuse revelations, and allegations of drunk driving and meeting with a prostitute.
Although the city council cannot remove Ford from office unless he is convicted of a crime, it can clip some of his powers as mayor, like cutting his office budget by 60%, and taking away his power to chair the council’s executive committee.
This comes after a chaotic meeting where Ford heckled the public and knocked over a council member as he charged at the gallery.

And at number 10, private firms are selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies to nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The Guardian reports research by watchdog Privacy International showed how firms peddled spying capabilities at private trade fairs.
Mass surveillance capabilities are associated with Britain’s GCHQ and the US  National Security Agency.
One firm offers “massive passive monitoring” equipment, while some cameras are hidden in cola cans, bricks or children’s car seats.
Another manufacturer turns cars into surveillance control centers.

Macau is getting ready to stage what could be the biggest boxing fight of 2013 – Manny Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios.
Natashya Gutierrez files this video blog.

Fight week preparations are in full swing here in Macau for one of the biggest boxing fights of the year tagged the Clash in Cotai, as Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao faces off with young and feisty fighter Brandon Rios.
Both fighters arrive Monday evening, 6 days before their scheduled clash.
Both will stay at the majestic Venetian, the site of the bout Sunday, November 24 local time.
International media also trickles in as fight week officially begins.
At the airport, Pacquiao says he is ‘more than confident’ even if he is going up against a fighter 7 years his junior.
The Pacman is coming off two losses and needs to prove he is still relevant to the boxing world: “I enter this fight stronger than ever. I have the strength of my country and my people coursing through my body. I fight for them, not for me. I fight for their glory, not mine.”
His trainer Freddie Roach, says he doesn’t see Rios making it past the 4th round.
Rios says he’s ready for the most important fight of his life: “Manny Pacquiao is a big step. I am going to shut everyone up and prove I am the best. I know we are in Manny’s backyard and I want to win every round. I have trained not to give up a minute to Manny Pacquiao.”
Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia is confident his boxer will trigger Pacquiao’s early retirement.
He says, “I guarantee you this will be the last time you ever see Manny Pacquiao on an HBO Pay-Per-View.”
One of these camps will soon be eating their words.

NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: Rios and Pacquiao will have more formal grand arrivals tonight here at the Venetian to greet fans who have come from across the world to witness the fight. With everything on the line for both fighters, it looks to be a bout that could well make boxing history. Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Macau.

Editor’s Note: Brandon Rios arrived in Macau last week and has been training there since his arrival.

– Rappler.com

Newscast Production Staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Jom Tolentino
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona
3D GRAPHICS Sten Bautista

Add a comment

Sort by

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