Rappler Newscast | February 4, 2014

Rappler.com
Former Erap aide under pressure to testify in pork barrel scam? Malacañang investigates Zenaida Ducut. Thai opposition wants snap elections nullified

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Today on Rappler.

  • The ex-aide of former President Estrada is reportedly under pressure to testify in the pork barrel scam.
  • Malacañang investigates the Energy Regulatory Commission chief for approving a steep power rate hike.
  • Thai opposition wants Sunday’s snap elections nullified.

Story 1: ERAP’S EX-AIDE, RUBY TUASON, TO TESTIFY?

The former social secretary of former president Joseph Estrada could be the key that directly links senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes to the pork barrel scam.
The officials are implicated in the misuse of the pork barrel, or priority development assistance fund, allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Ruby Tuason, who faces plunder charges before the Ombudsman, is said to be under pressure from family members to turn herself in.
She snuck out of the country after the pork barrel scandal broke out, but with her plunder charges, the prospects of Tuason being extradited is not far-fetched.
Levi Baligod, lawyer for whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam, says Tuason’s testimony “can be enough to pin down the three,” referring to Estrada, Enrile, and Reyes.
Tuason has had dealings with Napoles herself.
According to whistleblower Benhur Luy, Tuason supposedly got P1.5 million in commissions for a P37.5 million pork barrel allocation of Senator Estrada and P4.2 million for supposed rebates in Estrada’s pork barrel downloaded to the Department of Agriculture.
It turned out that for the years 2006 and 2007, Tuason was acting as Napoles’ conduit to Senator Enrile, doing the same task she did for Estrada.

 

Story 2: MERALCO TO DEFEND PRICE HIKE BEFORE SUPREME COURT

The Manila Electric Company or Meralco defends its controversial price hike before the Supreme Court Tuesday.
Meralco earlier said it was just collecting from its customers the high charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or WESM.
But petitioners say Meralco helped jack up prices in the spot market by ordering the sale of its contracted power with power generation company Therma Mobile Inc. at high prices.
During the oral arguments, Justice Antonio Carpio asks Atty. Victor Lazatin why Meralco bought power at P62 per kwh from the spot market.
He also points out Meralco was both buyer and seller at the time.
Meralco says it asked Therma Mobile to offer high rates as a matter of strategy, to make sure that there would be no takers because it needed the contracted power supply.
Meralco also blamed government-controlled power generator Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation or PSALM.
Lawmakers say power prices could have been brought down if PSALM operated the Malaya thermal power plant.

 

Story 3: PALACE INVESTIGATING DUCUT

Responding to calls for her removal, Malacanang says it’s investigating Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut.
On January 23, Akbayan filed a complaint urging President Benigno Aquino to remove Ducut from office for 
“gross neglect of duty and incompetence in protecting the interest of the power consumers.”
Under Ducut, the ERC approved Meralco’s steep power rate hike.
Meralco said it was forced to raise prices because of the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya plant, which suspiciously coincided with the closing of other power sources.
Ducut, who enjoys a fixed term after being appointed by former President Gloria Arroyo, ignores calls for her to resign.

 

Story 4: ‘COMPLICATED VOTING’ ON CYBERCRIME LAW

Supreme Court justices deliberate on the controversial cybercrime law Tuesday, but decide to postpone issuing a verdict.
Although the law was on Tuesday’s agenda, court insiders say the voting turned “complicated.”
The justices need another session next week to rule on the matter.
In deciding on the constitutionality of the law, the justices will try to seek a balance between fundamental freedoms and government control.
The Court started hearing oral arguments on the law last year and stopped its implementation following 15 petitions against it.
Media organizations hit its ambiguous provisions on online libel and the “takedown” clause, which allows authorities to take down online content without a court warrant.
The National Bureau of Investigation or NBI looks forward to a favorable decision saying it will help in law enforcement and prosecution against illegal online activity.
This comes following reports on the growing cash-for-cybersex scheme in the Philippines that targets mostly minors.


Story 5: PH LOSES $401B IN ILLICIT TRANSACTIONS

An international advocacy group says the Philippines lost 410 billion dollars in illicit trade from 1960 to 2011.
Global Financial Integrity or GFI says 133 billion dollars in outflows and 277 billion sollars in inflows mean so much trade goes on unreported.  
GFI managing director Tom Cardamone says the Philippines has “continually ranked very high” in money flowing in and out over the last several years.
He adds, there appears to be a correlation between corruption and money flow.

TOM CARDAMONE, GLOBAL FINANCIAL INTEGRITY: From our perspective this is a crisis situation for this country. Without addressing it in the immediate term, it’s unclear where the economy is going to go from here with that kind of tax loss.

Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares says the need to solve smuggling is a problem that trickles down to the country’s poor.

KIM HENARES, BIR COMMISSIONER: If we are not able to address smuggling, we cannot have industry. If we don’t have industry, we cannot create jobs. If we cannot create jobs, poverty will remain the same.


Story 6: THAI OPPOSITION PROTESTS TO NULLIFY ELECTIONS

Thailand’s opposition wants to nullify Sunday’s snap elections and dissolve the ruling party.
Embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called the polls in a bid to end the rallies plunging Thailand in political turmoil.
Protesters blocked off close to 10,000 polling stations, with several million voters unable to vote.
The latest move by the opposition comes as the United States warned against any moves to stage a military coup.
The US is a major ally of the Yingluck government.
Yingluck’s government currently faces a slew of legal challenges, including alleged corruption on a rice subsidy scheme.
The opposition considers Yingluck a puppet of her ousted brother Thaksin, who they believe still wields influence even in exile.

 

Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ

At number 4, The European Union or EU says corruption costs its economy at least 120 billion euros annually.
The BBC reports it’s roughly equivalent to the EU’s annual budget.
A study shows the Balkan states have the highest levels of bribery and the UK, lowest.

At number 5, The Philippines is among the Southeast Asian countries where tobacco companies enjoy influence over policies affecting their industry.
With a score of 71, the Philippines ranks 3rd in the Tobacco Industry Interference Index.
This indicates the Philippines’ failure to implement a global treaty on tobacco control.
The index found a high level of unnecessary government interaction with the tobacco industry, like corporate social responsibility activities.

And at number 9, Facebook is not yet entirely uncool.
The Pew Research Center says that because of the fear of missing out, teens are still glued on the popular social network despite its aging user base.
Facebook turns 10 Tuesday, and boasts of more than half of the US population on it.

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


Story 8: SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY


As a social news network, Rappler celebrates Facebook’s 10th anniversary via #FBThrowback.
Our followers share why they joined the world’s biggest social network.
Hannah Bajada Agullo says, “I joined Facebook on August 21, 2008.  I was a college freshie then and I joined this social media…
because it was becoming a “trend” and slowly Friendster was becoming obsolete.”
Pauline Alcera tweets that she “had to vacate Friendster because Mum was already knowing the ins and outs.”
Jerika Omandam says her favorite Facebook games were “Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, and Farmville.”

 

Story 9: GILAS PILIPINAS LANDS IN GROUP B OF FIBA DRAW


The Philippines’ opponents for the FIBA World Cup are no longer a mystery.
Gilas Pilipinas is in Group B and will face Senegal, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Greece and Croatia in the preliminary round.
Argentina is the best team in Group B.
They are currently ranked third overall and could be headlined by NBA star Manu Ginobili.
The draw puts the 24 countries participating in the World Cup into 4 groups.
Speaking to FIBA after the draw, Philippine head coach Chot Reyes says, “It is a tough group but we relish it and we are going to prepare very hard.”
He adds, “We would love to get to the Final 16.
“That would be a huge victory not only for our team but the entire Filipino nation.”
The preliminary round will take place from August 30-September 4 while the Final Round will be played in Barcelona and Madrid from September 6-14.

 

Story 10: ‘WICKED’ THE MUSICAL IN MANILA


The much-talked about musical, “Wicked,” is in Manila.
Filipino theater fans flock to its gala night in costumes.
“Wicked” is based on a book written by Gregory Maguire.
It’s a take on the life and times of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, from L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz.”
G Tongi reports.

Wicked finally opens in Manila to a full house.

Hardcore fans of the musical attended the gala dressed in their Emerald City costumes in support of the Australian based touring company.

My family and I also dressed up for the occasion with our very own Glinda and Fiyero in tow.

Local theater actors Robbie Zialcita & Leroy Dela Fuente, last seen onstage for Repertory Philippines’ The Producers, also got into the Wicked spirit.

LEROY DELA FUENTE, THEATER ACTOR: It’s the first musical I ever fell in love with… it made we want to become a theater actor.

ROBIE ZIALCITA, THEATER ACTOR: I just used something like a crayon that you use for face painting and i just put it on my beard! You can see the standing ovation and the people really enjoyed it and bravo! Bravo to them!

Lunchbox Theatricals Producer James Cundall says bringing shows like Wicked to Manila took many years, but seeing the response from the Philippine audience makes it worth it.

JAMES CUNDALL, PRODUCER, LUNCHBOX THEATRICALS: The audience here is better than London or the West End, I can tell you! They understand what is happening on stage. They’re very musically savvy…

Pinky Amador, currently in rehearsals for Repertory’s “Osage County,” says the Australian cast is going all out for the Filipinos.

PINKY AMADOR, TV & STAGE ACTRESS: I saw the last number in rehearsals coz we are in the same building and she (Elphaba) did not sing it like that. So i can really see that they’re pulling out the all the stops for the Filipino audience and you can tell that the audience just loves it and is giving them such a great welcome… can’t put down a great show!

Behind the spectacular set and bedazzling costumes, Wicked’s message really resonates with the audience.

PAUL & JOHN HERRERA, FASHION DESIGNERS: We are just really, really huge fans and we have the albums actually… we think that a lot of people actually who are different, more different and they know they are different can relate to her character, we’re the green girl, growing up.

And it was “Wicked!”

G Tongi. Rappler Manila.


Story 11: MULTILINGUAL COCA-COLA AD DRAWS CONTROVERSY


Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad draws controversy after airing during the Super Bowl on Wednesday Manila time.
The ad features a version of the patriotic song “America the Beautiful” sung in English and a variety of languages.
It includes a line in Filipino sung by a girl named Leilani, who sang the Filipino version of the line “above the fruited plain.”
Some netizens express outrage over the multilingual version, saying an American patriotic song can’t be sung in a different language.
But some say the ad celebrates the culturally diverse American population.

 

 

– 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
  Jom Tolentino
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN Charlie Salazar
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona
3D GRAPHICS Sten Bautista