Today on Rappler.
- The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Ombudsman recommend plunder charges against senators involved in the pork barrel scam.
- The Philippines’ military chief tells China: We will not bow to bullies.
- Australia says the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane could be long and frustrating.
STORY 1: SENATE: FILE PLUNDER CASE VS ENRILE, REVILLA, ESTRADA
The chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee announces the result of its probe on the pork barrel scam hearings.
Sen TG Guingona says his report recommends the filing of plunder charges against 3 senators, former heads of government agencies, and the alleged mastermind of the corruption scandal.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
After months of denial and counter-allegations, the Senate probe into the pork barrel scam reaches a conclusion.
In a surprise move, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman TG Guingona releases the committee’s report into the biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
TG GUINGONA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: Natuklasan natin ang pera ng bayan napagplanuhan, may ginawang plano at para mapatupad yung plano, nagkaroon ng sabwatan.
(We discovered schemes and conspiracies to steal the country’s money.)
The chairman says the accused orchestrated an elaborate scheme to channel development funds to fake Napoles NGOs, and split the loot.
TG GUINGONA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: Another sign of sophistication is that they have a voucher system to prove that the lawmakers have in fact received their kickbacks.
May color coding pa. White, yung para sa original ledger ng mambabatas. Yellow, para sa accounting. At young pink voucher para sa lawmaker
(They even have color coding: white for the original ledger, yellow for accounting, and pink for the lawmaker.)
So nakita natin grabe talaga ang nangyari: pinagplanuhan, pinagkaisahan, pinagpasasaan.
(What happened is shocking. It was planned, connived, and indulged.)
It’s a double whammy for the 3 senators, with the Ombudsman announcing the same findings just minutes after Guingona’s press briefing.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada says the timing is sinister.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Clearly kami ang pinagplanuhan, kami ang pinagkaisahan at naging biktima ng sabwatan dito para lang mapapogi ang imahe ng ilan naming kasamahan sa Senado. It is a very, very well synchronized April Fools’ Day operation.
(Clearly, they planned, colluded against us and victimized us so that some of our fellow Senators would look good.)
Estrada reiterates his colleagues prejudged and used the investigation for their political plans in 2016.
Senator Bong Revilla’s lawyer says he will appeal the Ombudsman decision.
But for the other senators, the findings are controversial but necessary.
ALAN PETER CAYETANO, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Definitely dapat ang ikaso sa kanila kung ano ang pinakamataas in terms of both the crimes and penalty. You can’t set example kung i-baby mo ang mga kasama mo just because kasama mo sila. Mabigat talaga yung haharapin nung tatlo kasi hindi nila mapaliwanag ang ganoong kalaking pondo ang paulit-ulit na nilagay sa mga foundations tapos dumating sa ghost beneficiaries.
(Definitely the case charged against them should be the most severe in terms of crime and penalty. You can’t set an example if you baby the criminals. It’s serious because they can’t explain the large amount of money that went to ghost beneficiaries.)
TG GUINGONA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
Other senators will get a copy of the report for their endorsement.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING:
But beyond Senate politics, the filing of plunder cases is a step to ensure that thieves do not escape accountability even if they sit in this high office.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.
Senate President Franklin Drilon though clarifies the report is not an official Blue Ribbon committee report.
At this point, he says it’s only a recommendation of Senator Guingona.
Drilon says the signature of majority of the members is needed to make it official.
Some senators, like Koko Pimentel and Bam Aquino, say they neither saw nor signed the report before Guingona’s press conference.
Senator Nancy Binay criticizes Guingona’s move, saying he should have consulted the committee members before announcing the results of the probe.
STORY 2: PLUNDER CASE TO BE FILED VS PDAF SENATORS
After 6 months of investigation, the Ombudsman will file plunder charges against the first set of people involved in the pork barrel scam.
The Ombudsman says there’s probable cause to file plunder cases against senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada for misusing government funds from 2007 to 2009.
The three are accused of siphoning their pork barrel funds to the fake non-governmental organizations of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.
Revilla allegedly received kickbacks worth P242 million, Enrile P172 million, and Estrada P183 million.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan says the 3 senators “took undue advantage of their positions.”
Seven others will be charged with plunder – alleged mastermind Janet Napoles, her nephew John Ronald Lim, Napoles’ driver-bodyguard John Raymond de Asis, self-confessed bagman Ruby Tuason, Revilla’s chief political staff Richard Cambe, Enrile’s former chief of staff Gigi Reyes, and Estrada’s former appointments secretary Pauline Labayen.
(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article attributed the P183 million amount to Sen Enrile. This has been corrected.)
STORY 3: SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY
Senator Jinggoy Estrada says the findings of the Senate blue ribbon committee felt like an April Fools’ joke.
How do our readers feel?
Maxwell Jan Alvarez says, “Not good enough. This only covers the side of the Senate that isn’t part of the ruling party.
“What about administration senators and congressmen who also have questionable PDAF disbursements?”
Rainner Von Maungca says, “There’s no worse spat to the justice system than thieves persecuting other thieves because they are from opposing political parties.”
STORY 4: NAPOLES TRANSFERRED TO OSPITAL NG MAKATI
Alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles is transferred from Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna to the Ospital ng Makati Monday night.
Makati City police chief Manuel Lukban says Napoles is confined in a small air-conditioned room with its own bathroom.
MANUEL LUKBAN, MAKATI POLICE CHIEF: Hindi po masasabing private room ano, dahil dito sa OsMak lahat po dito ay open for public-type. Hindi talaga.. walang exclusive na binabayaran, kundi kung ano yung una na mabakante ng pasyente.. ito ay yung binibigay.
(Can’t say it’s a private room because here in the Makati Hospital all rooms are open for public. No such thing as paying for exclusivity because it’s first come first serve.)
Lukban says the Makati police assisted and monitored Napoles during her transfer.
MANUEL LUKBAN, MAKATI POLICE CHIEF: Sa security measures… ang gagawin po ng Makati police dito ay sa perimeter lang po ng hospital na masigurado natin na yung ibang clients or yung mga may ibang emergency cases na constituents ng Makati ay maging regular naman at hindi maabala ng presence dito ni Mrs. Napoles.
(For security measures.. the Makati police will just be at the hospital perimeter to ensure other clients or other Makati constituents with emergency cases will not be inconvenienced by Mrs. Napoles’ presence.)
Napoles will go through a medical “workup period” to see if she’s healthy enough for surgery.
A Makati court earlier granted her plea for treatment to remove a myoma in her uterus.
Citing her “bad experience” at a government hospital, Napoles asked to be confined at the more luxurious St Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig.
The prosecution opposed St. Luke’s.
Instead, the court allowed her treatment at Ospital ng Makati.
STORY 5: CHINA: AYUNGIN TRIP BETRAYS PH INTENT
China questions the timing of a trip by Filipino journalists to the disputed Ayungin Shoal last Saturday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says the trip was a build-up to the Philippines’ filing of its written pleading Sunday that challenged Beijing’s claims over the entire South China Sea.
An international tribunal is hearing Manila’s case against Beijing.
Hong says the move is a “provocation” that shows the Philippines is pursuing its case to “cover up its illegal occupation of China’s territory and trouble-making in the South China Sea.”
He also warns about possible sanctions, but Philippine Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista says the military is prepared to face the consequences.
GEN EMMANUEL BAUTISTA, AFP CHIEF: The fact that we filed yung ano arbitration case natin, ibig sabihin we should be prepared. Hindi naman pwede na mag-bow tayo sa terror di ba?
Gusto ninyo ba yon? We will bow to terror? Na pag tinakot tayo hindi na natin gagawin? We have to assert our rights.
(The fact that we filed an arbitration case [means] we should be prepared. Don’t expect us to bow to terror.
Do you want that? We will bow to terror? That we will back down after being threatened?)
Bautista also says it’s China that has been provocative referring to earlier reports that China blocked Philippine ships from approaching Ayungin Shoal to bring supplies to the soldiers stationed there.
STORY 6: AUSTRALIA WARNS MH370 SEARCH COULD TAKE ‘LONG TIME’
Australia says the hunt for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 could be long and frustrating.
Despite an extensive search over the Indian Ocean, there’s still no sign of the plane that vanished nearly a month ago.
A new coordination center in Perth will oversee search operations but retired Australian air chief marshal Angus Houston says it’s the most challenging search effort he has ever seen.
Malaysia earlier said satellite data indicates the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean.
An Australian vessel with a black box detector leaves Perth Monday to search for the flight data recorders.
It’s a race against time as the signal from the black box will die in a week.
The credibility of Malaysian officials takes another hit after it released the full transcript of conversations from the missing plane.
On Monday, officials say the last words spoken by one of the pilots were “Good night Malaysian three seven zero”and not the more casual “All right, good night” originally reported.
Angry Chinese relatives of the missing passengers accuse Malaysian officials of incompetence and even a cover-up.
STORY 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 7, an Egyptian court rejects a bail plea by jailed Al-Jazeera journalists Monday.
Prosecutors say the journalists colluded with the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and falsely tried to portray Egypt in a state of “civil war.”
The trials sparked international outrage and fueled fears of a media crackdown.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders urge officials to release the journalists, adding
“The authorities must stop invoking the fight against terrorism in order to persecute dissident journalists.”
The court adjourned the trial to April 10.
At number 8, visitors flock to the San Isidro Basilica in the city of Leon in Spain, after historians claimed the ancient goblet found there was the Holy Grail.
It’s been known until now as the goblet of the daughter of Fernando I, King of Leon from 1037 to 1065.
Last week, two historians published a book identifying the cup as the mythical chalice of Christ’s last supper.
The Holy Grail is one of the most prized relics in Christianity.
But in Europe alone, there are 200 supposed relics.
At number 10, Harry Potter fans can expect not just one, but 3 “megamovies” for a spin-off.
In September 2013, author JK Rowling confirmed a Potter spin-off was in the making, called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
It’s based on a book Rowling released in 2001.
“Fantastic Beasts” features “magizoologist” Newt Scamander as the protagonist.
For the full top 10 visit Rappler.com’s ‘the wRap.’
Newscast Production Staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Exxon Ruebe|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|
|Raffy de Guzman|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|