Today on Rappler.
- The latest on the Ombudsman’s probe alleging Chief Justice Corona has 10 million dollars in foreign currency accounts: Corona says 10 million dollars is as phoney as the 45 properties listed by the LRA, the US properties and the surveys.
- One of the world’s leading expert on the Al Qaeda says the next battleground is the Internet.
- And a year after the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, royal watchers are talking about a royal baby.
Story 1: CORONA’S DOLLARS?
The Ombudsman is asking Chief Justice Renato Corona to explain an alleged 10 million dollars in deposits. Defense lawyers dismiss it as “retaliatory”– pay back for the Hacienda Luisita decision.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Sunday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the Chief Justice to explain his assets that were “grossly disproportionate” to his income. Corona calls the Ombudsman’s information “phoney”.
He says, quote, “I do not own 10 million dollars. It’s no different from the phoney Land Registration Authority list, phoney US property list, phoney surveys, phoney letters to the editor.”
Corona also insists, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over him as a sitting Chief Justice.
Ombudsman Carpio Morales concedes this in her letter, noting that the Chief Justice can only be removed through impeachment. But the Ombudsman says it has the power to investigate the Chief Justice for misconduct for the purpose of an impeachment complaint.
Story 2: GETTING AROUND BANK SECRECY LAW
How did the Ombudsman get around the bank secrecy law? That law expressly states no foreign currency deposit may be examined without the written permission of the depositor.
It’s simple, Corona himself gave the permission.
The Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN is not only a document that requires public officials to declare their assets. It also includes a waiver allowing the Ombudsman to verify the public official’s statements. At the back of the form, a paragraph on top of a filer’s signature reads “SALN documents also act as waivers allowing the Ombudsman to verify assets declared by public officials”.
The Ombudsman gets access to peso and dollar account records of public officials not directly from the banks but through the Anti-Money Laundering Council or AMLC.
Ombudsman Carpio-Morales is a former Supreme Court Associate Justice. She retired last year and was immediately appointed as Ombudsman. President Benigno Aquino III has been vocal about his trust and confidence in Carpio-Morales.
Story 3: DEFENSE LAST TO KNOW
When Chief Justice Renato Corona received the letter asking him to explain at least 10-million dollars in deposits, he did not respond. The Ombudsman’s request asked for a reply within 72 hours.
Corona also did not tell the lawyers defending him in his impeachment trial.
Corona counsel Ramon Esguerra says the Chief Justice “dealt with it on his own.”
Esguerra adds Corona’s detractors are laying the groundwork for an impeachment trial in the future, this time based on alleged ill-gotten wealth – a charge barred in the current trial.
Defense counsel Judd Roy brushed the letter off as well, calling the Ombudsman’s action “retaliatory” after the Supreme Court decision giving Hacienda Luisita to farmers. Roy adds the move was meant to rally anti-Corona groups before the impeachment trial resumes.
Story 4: WORK SAFETY
As the world celebrates Labor Day tomorrow, a study says 2 to 3 workers died weekly in work-related accidents in 2011, for a total of 126 deaths.
Research by the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety Development shows miners buried alive, construction workers falling to their deaths or pinned by collapsed structures, were the most glaring work-related deaths in the Philippines last year.
The survey found construction is the deadliest sector in 2011 with 56 people killed, accounting for 44% of deaths.
14 miners died last year, some buried alive in the deadly landslides that struck Compostela Valley in Mindanao after heavy rains.
The institute also found that employers grossly violated health and safety standards, putting workers’ lives in extreme danger.
Story 5: POST-BIN LADEN
A year after the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Rappler talks to terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna about the prospects for regeneration of terrorist networks, terror groups in Asia and the new battleground – the Internet. Here’s part of that interview.
RESSA: But, given that Al-Qaeda has been degraded significantly in the last eleven years, does it have the strength to come back and build a safe haven in Afghanistan or Iraq?
GUNARATNA: Al- Qaeda has suffered a lot, but still, Al-Qaeda is a very capable organization. There are very capable people who are in the organization. For example. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, he was a medical practitioner. He was head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and he commanded the respect of so many other groups because he built, in fact, the global network of bin Laden. Bin Laden was a very charismatic leader, but Zawahiri was the real brains.
RESSA: Is the ideology still spreading?
GUNARATNA: That is the power of ideas, and these ideas become an ideology. They know how to use the social media. They know how to use the internet platforms. They know how to reach out to the youth.
RESSA: How are they using social media now? How are they using it to spread terrorism?
GUNARATNA: Terrorists have created multiple platforms. Twitter is one. They have a number of blog sites.
RESSA: Abu Bakar Bashir, the former head of Jemaah Islamiyah has a twitter account. (Yes) So you say, they created platforms.
RESSA: How would you describe the threat now in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, in particular?
GUNARATNA: The terrorist threat has not plateaued. The threat continues to grow. The very ideas of terrorism, ideas of extremism, are spreading. Not only that. There’s another very dangerous trend, that is, that terrorist groups are operating not only underground, below surface; they are also operating above ground. They are working with political parties. Some of them have entered parliament. Some of them have opened media offices. For example, JAT.
RESSA: JAT is Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid, which is an evolution of Jemaah Islamiyah.
Story 6: LA CLIPPERS
In the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers rally from a twenty-seven-point deficit to steal game one of their 2012 Playoffs match against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers were down with nine minutes left in the game when they started their comeback.
The victory is the largest comeback in the NBA playoffs in the last ten years.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul sealed the deal for the Clippers by knocking down two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to give his team the win.
Story 7: PALARO: GYMNASTICS
The coach of National Capital Region gymnastics team dreams of one day seeing his kids win an international competition. But before that, they need to bag the championship in this year’s Palarong Pambansa.
Isa Rodriguez reports.
6 days a week, Coach Ricardo Otero trains young gymnasts at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
The hard work and dedication pays off for these gymnasts.
In this year’s Palarong Pambansa, they are aiming to win the Championships for the National Capital Region, again.
Ang goal namin makarating sila sa Nationals, makapag-compete sa international level at yung gymnastics sa Pilipinas kahit papaano makatapat naman. Unang target SEA games, ASIAN games then susunod-sunod na.
GYMNASTICS COACH, NCR
12 year old Carlos Yulo trains in this group. He was Palaro’s all around Gymnastics champion in 2011.
Yulo began his training at the age of 7. He dreams of winning a gold at the South East Asian Games.
It has not been easy, but he is well on his way.
“2009 po yung palarong Tacloban, ako po ay natalo dahil po hindi ako nagtraining maigi. Bumalik po ako dito nagtraining nang nagtraining. Noong 2011, May 20, sa Zamboanga nanalo po ako, Champion. Sa susunod na Palaro sana po maging champion ako”
Another big NCR bet is Jag Timbang. The 14 year old has won in many tournaments and was the 2nd all around champion in last year’s Palaro.
Like every 14 year old, Jag has his distractions, but commitment and love for the sport prevails.
Minsan po napapagod pag tinatamad na yung pagcocomputer po, para lang po sa training di na po ako nagcomputer. Gusto ko po manalo sa Palarong Pambansa ngayong taon para po paglaki ko maging champion po ako sa SEA games.
Coach Otero, a former SEA games champion himself has a faith in his wards. Even from the start, he has recognized the potential in the two gymnasts.
At the end of the day Carlos and Jag are still kids, and this makes their achievements a greater feat.
Isa Rodriguez, Rappler.
Story 8: ROYAL WEDDING, A YEAR AFTER
A year after the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, eager followers now wait for a royal baby.
The couple got married in April 2011 in front of cheering crowds and two billion television viewers. They are about to move from their home on Welsh island to Kensington Palace in London – a signal to many that they will start a family soon.
Succession rules were changed last year – giving a future daughter as much chance as a son of being in line for the throne.
A royal biographer said last year Kate will be defying 200 years of tradition if she is not pregnant in the next 9 months after the wedding.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge say they will not be bound by any timetable in conceiving their first-born.