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Rappler Newscast | January 29, 2014

Rappler.com
Criminal charges set against Corona, wife. More police torture victims surface. Obama vows to end inequality in SOTU

Today on Rappler.

  • Dismissed Chief Justice Corona and his wife to face charges for perjury and ill-gotten wealth.
  • More victims of alleged police torture in Laguna surface.
  • US President Obama promises to end economic inequality in his State of the Union Address.


Story 1: CRIMINAL CHARGES SET VS CORONA, WIFE

Almost two years after he was removed from office, dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona will be charged in court for perjury and unexplained wealth.
The Ombudsman is set to file criminal and civil charges against Corona and his wife Cristina over their alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to P130 million.
Based on what they declared, the Corona couple earned about P30 million from 2001 to 2011.
But their actual deposits and undervalued properties amounted to about P151 million, plus a net increase in net worth of P8.9 million.
Corona will also face criminal charges: 8 counts perjury and 8 counts of violation of the Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
In May 2012, 20 out of 23 senators declared him guilty of betraying public trust and violating the Constitution for failing to accurately declare his assets.
In a statement Wednesday, Corona says the Ombudsman’s move is part of what he calls the Aquino government’s “merciless persecution” against him and his family.
He adds, “The harassment continues without let-up. Malacanang and its attack dogs were not content with removing me from office.”

 

Story 2: MORE POLICE TORTURE VICTIMS SURFACE

Seven more victims of alleged abuse in a secret torture jail in Binan, Laguna come forward, bringing the number of victims from 15 to 22.
Last week, the Commission on Human Rights or CHR said 10 officers of the Philippine National Police or PNP allegedly tortured inmates at a house in a private subdivision in Laguna.
CHR says the torture began February 2013.
During a visit to the police facility in Laguna, the CHR discovered a “torture roulette,” where police chose which form of torture to use on inmates like the so-called “Manny Pacman” position, where a prisoner is continuously punched for 20 seconds and hanging him upside down for 30 seconds.
The CHR now has 22 affidavits, with at least two coming from minors: one 16 and another 17 years old.
On Tuesday, the PNP suspends 10 cops for running the secret prison.
But PNP Spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Sindac says the alleged torture prison was a recognized detention facility run by the provincial intelligence unit.
In a phone interview, he says, “It’s not a secret detention center…. It was being used because the Biñan police station is already congested.”
Reacting to the reports, Senator Grace Poe says that while the allegations must be investigated, the public should not be quick to judge the police force as a whole.

GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: “The practice of torture is obviously not allowed, but they we cannot make generalizations… not all policemen are involved, but the ones who are, should be brought to justice… Our police should be feared in terms of them doing their job, not because they’re intimidating people outside of what’s allowed by the law.”

 

Story 3: SOLDIERS, BIFF REBELS CLASH IN MAGUINDANAO

Clashes between soldiers and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF kill at least one soldier and 37 Muslim rebels.
Colonel Dickson Hermoso of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division says the BIFF launched improvised explosive devices in Datu Piang town.
The group is also accused of planting a bomb in a bus terminal Tuesday that hurt an 8-year-old girl and a pregnant woman.
Fighting erupted in Maguindanao Sunday, hours after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF signed a firearms deal that would pave the way for a comprehensive peace agreement.
The BIFF is a breakaway group of the MILF.
Hermoso says the attacks were launched in a bid to arrest BIFF leaders.
The government’s attacks were supposed to end Wednesday, but Hermoso says they requested an extension of another 72 hours.
Despite the ongoing hostilities, the rebel group says they are open to negotiations with the government.
But Hermoso says the BIFF should first face criminal charges against them.

 

Story 4: FILIPINOS CAUTIOUS IN SPENDING AFTER YOLANDA

A report by global information company Nielsen shows Filipinos are now more conscious about their spending in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan.
Nielsen Philippines managing director Stuart Jamieson says Filipino consumers are becoming
“more cautiously optimistic and dynamic in their choices about spending and saving.”
In the latest Consumer Confidence Index, the Philippines remains the second most optimistic in Southeast Asia in terms of consumer confidence and spending intentions.
From scoring 118 in the index in the third quarter of 2013, Filipinos’ consumer confidence dips slightly to 114 in the fourth quarter.
While optimism and confidence is high, Filipinos remain focused on saving.
85% of Filipino respondents say they changed their spending habits to save on household expenses.

 

Story 5: HONG KONG CURBS PH’S VISA-FREE PRIVILEGES

Philippine officials and diplomats will now have to apply for visas to visit Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong cancels the 14-day visa-free status for officials after the Philippines refused to apologize to the victims of the 2010 hostage-taking incident.
8 Hong Kong tourists were killed and 7 others wounded when a Filipino police officer hijacked a tour bus in August 2010.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying says his government got a “negative message” from the Philippines over the apology Hong Kong demanded.
He adds, “The Philippine side is still unable to meet the demand of the victims and the families for a formal apology despite many rounds of discussions. The response is unacceptable.”
Philippine President Benigno Aquino refuses to apologize, saying the incident was the “act of one individual who was probably mentally unstable.”

 

Story 6: DID SENATOR BONG REVILLA LIE?

Sen Bong Revilla challenged his critics to “get their facts straight” during his privilege speech denying his involvement in the pork barrel scam but at least one document from his Senate office shows Revilla may not have been entirely truthful.
In his speech, Revilla denied Atty Richard Cambe was his chief of staff.
Cambe has been tagged as Revilla’s supposed bagman in the pork barrel scandal collecting the senator’s commissions from alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
But a document obtained by Rappler shows Revilla named Cambe as his officer-in-charge chief of staff in connection with the release of a P25-million pork barrel tranche.
In a letter dated April 10, 2007 to the agriculture department’s regional executive director in Butuan City, Revilla indicated he was assigning Cambe as his OIC chief of staff to “represent and act on [his] behalf.”
In the letter with his office’s letterhead, Revilla said he was endorsing two non-governmental organizations for the implementation of his P25-million worth of projects financed by his pork barrel.
These two NGOs have been identified as among Napoles’ fronts to plunder the pork barrel of lawmakers.
The letter contained a bar code that indicates it was really sourced from Revilla’s office. It also had the senator’s signature.
On April 10, 2007, Revilla purportedly sent a separate letter assigning another Napoles-linked NGO as conduit of his P25 million pork barrel for local government units in Surigao del Norte.
In that letter, Revilla only described Cambe as one of his staff.
A source close to the Revilla family confirms there was one point where Revilla had no chief of staff.
The source says, “As far as I can recall, the senator had no chief of staff for a few months.
Could be that during that interim, Cambe was appointed OIC.”

 

Story 7: NBI ON VHONG’S CASE: CCTV FOOTAGE BELIES RAPE CHARGES

The Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation or NBI takes the side of comedian Vhong Navarro.
The NBI says there is glaring evidence disproving the rape charges filed against Navarro.
NBI-Metro Manila Assistant Regional Director Vicente De Guzman III says it’s up to the justice department to assess the evidence.

VICENTE DE GUZMAN III, NBI-MANILA ASSISTANT REGIONAL DIRECTOR: “Ang sabi ko, you be the judge dito sa… CCTV. How could there be a rape doon sa mga incidents na na undergo? Kaya kami sinubmit namin findings namin sa prosecutor for them to assess.”

(I said, you be the judge here with the CCTV footage. How could there be rape with the incidents that transpired? This is why we submitted the findings to the prosecutor for them to assess.)

The NBI has CCTV footage supporting Navarro’s story.
In a television interview Sunday, Navarro said he was visiting female friend Deniece Cornejo when 6 men barged in and beat him up.
Navarro was mauled last January 22 in Cornejo’s condominium unit at Bonifacio Global City Taguig.
Cornejo accused Navarro of attempted rape. He denies this.
Those accused of assaulting Navarro include businessman Cedric Lee, who was also involved in the mauling incident of athlete David Bunevacz years ago.


Story 8: OBAMA VOWS TO END INEQUALITY IN STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

US President Barack Obama says the American Dream is threatened, and he’s waging war against it.
In his State of the Union Address, Obama promises to fight economic inequality, which he says is against the ideal of equal opportunity for all.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: “Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.”


“Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all. So our job is to reverse these trends.”

But Obama also adds an upbeat note in his speech, saying that after five years of economic problems, the US is poised for a breakthrough.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: ”For the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.”

 
“That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.”

While his speech zeroes in on domestic matters, Obama briefly mentions foreign policy declaring his support for freedom of speech in Ukraine and warning against the threat of Al-Qaeda.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: “The fact is, that danger remains. While we have put al-Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al-Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world.”


Story 9: SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY

Netizens react to Obama’s State of the Union Address.
Some netizens are skeptical about Obama’s ability to deliver
Bill Gussey says: “Obama has missed too many opportunities on creating more jobs… All I heard was spend, spend, spend”
AJ de Leon says: “Nothing new in his address, more of the same.
Still siding with the major drug and energy companies own and run by the federal government that has its own agenda.”

Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ

At number 4, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his entire government resign Tuesday in a bid to ease tensions in the country.
Before the mass resignation, the parliament voted to scrap the anti-protest laws which sparked massive protests.
Protesters say the resignation is a “small step” and urge President Viktor Yanukovych to resign.

At number 7, Formula One champion Michael Schumacher remains under induced coma, weeks after a ski accident that injured his head.
Doctors sedate the former race driver and cool his body to around 35 degrees Celsius to prevent the risk of further damage to the brain.
The last update on his condition came January 17, when his spokesman said he was still in “stable” condition.
Experts say it’s quite rare for a coma to be induced for more than 3 weeks.
Patients who wake up from an induced coma face a long road to recovery.

And at number 8, Google launches Street View in the Philippines and announces plans to deploy cars to capture photos of Metro Manila’s streets.
The feature, available on its Google Maps and Google Earth applications, allows users to switch from the birds-eye view down to street level view.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez says the initiative is about bringing an experience to potential tourists before they arrive in the country.
For now, you can enjoy Street View panoramas of 4 Intramuros sites including San Agustin Church, Baluarte de San Diego, Plaza San Luis Complex and Fort Santiago.

For the full top 10 visit Rappler.com’s “the wRap.”

– Rappler.com

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