Rappler Newscast | July 23, 2012

Rappler.com
TOP STORY: Economic growth and anti-corruption -- President Aquino outlines his centerpiece accomplishments in his third State of the Nation address.

Today on Rappler.

  • Economic growth and anti-corruption — President Aquino outlines his centerpiece accomplishments in his third State of the Nation address.
  • Human Rights Watch Asia says not one perpetrator of human rights abuses has been prosecuted since Aquino took office.
  • Speaking as a father, US President Barack Obama condoles with the families of the Aurora Colorado cinema massacre.

Story 1: PH PRES. AQUINO DELIVERS 3RD STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
Philippine President Benigno Aquino gives his third State of the Nation Address Monday.
He begins by outlining the sins of his predecessor, former President Gloria Arroyo, calling it quote- “a lost decade.”

PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III: The specters of a lost decade haunted us from our first day in office.
There was the North Rail contract—an expensive project that became even more expensive after renegotiation.
We had GOCCs handing out unwarranted bonuses, despite the losses already suffered by their agencies.
We had the billions wasted by PAGCOR on—of all things—coffee.
We had the suspect management practices of the PNP, which involved ignoring the need to arm the remaining 45 percent of our police force, just to collect kickbacks on rundown helicopters purchased at brand-new prices.

President Aquino highlights the biggest accomplishment of his 2 year leadership.
The economy grew by an unforeseen 6.4 percent, the highest in Southeast Asia and 2nd highest in Asia.

What was once the sick man of Asia now brims with vitality.
When we secured our first positive credit rating action, some said it was pure luck
Now that we have had eight, can it still just be luck?
In the first quarter of 2012, our GDP grew by 6.4 percent, much higher than projected, the highest growth in the Southeast Asian region, and the second only to China in Asia.
Once, we were the debtors, now, we are the creditors, clearly no laughing matter.

The President also brags about reducing the annual shortage of rice production from 1.3 million metric tons to 500 metric tons.

This year, it is down to 500,000—including a buffer stock to dip into in times of calamity.
And, if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to export rice next year.

President Aquino addresses the raging dispute with China over territories in the South China Sea.
He says the government exercised utmost caution in dealing with alleged incursions by China.

We demonstrated utmost caution in dealing with this issue.
As a sign of our goodwill, we replaced our navy cutter with a civilian boat as soon as we could.
But if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree?
Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?

The President also talks about fulfilling his number one campaign promise, enshrined in his slogan “Tuwid na Daan” or “The Straight & Narrow Path”.
Obviously referring to former President Arroyo and impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, Aquino says real social justice makes even the high and powerful accountable for their actions.

Do we forgive and forget everything that was ever done to us, to sink us into a rotten state?
My response: Forgiveness is possible; forgetting is not.
Justice is the plunder case leveled against our former president; justice is what we witnessed on the 29th of May.
On that day, we proved that justice can prevail, even when confronted with an opponent in a position of power.
On that day, a woman named Delsa Flores, in Panabo, Davao del Norte, said “It is actually possible: a single law governing both a simple court reporter like me, and the Chief Justice.”
It is possible for the scales to be set right, and for even the rich and powerful to be held accountable.

Story 2: HRW: NO MENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN SONA
Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams criticizes Aquino for failing to mention human rights abuses in his State of the Nation Address.
In a statement, Adams says Aquino praised the police and military but did not mention his administration’s proclaimed policy to hold them accountable for abuses.
Adams says, “Human rights abusers can conclude that…it will be business as usual in the years ahead.”
The group says not one perpetrator has been successfully prosecuted since Aquino took office in 2010.

Story 3: MARCOS ON SONA: MANY IMPORTANT ISSUES NOT COVERED
Some legislators express disappointment over what they feel are important issues that the President did not mention.
Representative Erin Tanada, a partymate of the President says he is sad the Freedom of Information Bill was not mentioned.
Susan Ople and other comments on social media zero in on Aquino’s failure to praise the contributions of overseas Filipino workers, the highest dollar earner for the country.
Senator Bong Bong Marcos says Aquino overlooked many crucial topics.

Story 4: LABOR GROUP: AQUINO FAILED ORGANIZED LABOR
President Aquino says the unemployment rate that was at 8 percent when he took office has been reduced to 7.2 in April.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: In 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8 percent. In April 2011, it dropped to 7.2, and dropped further to 6.9 this year. Isn’t it about time for us to dream of a day where any Filipino who wishes to work can find a job?

But some 400 trade union leaders of the newly formed labor alliance NAGKAISA says while the employment rate went up, the number of underemployed — those who have work but are still seeking work — has increased from 7.6 million in April 2011 to 7.8 million in April 2012.
The group also says wage increase has never been on President Aquino’s agenda.
Despite increases ranging from 2 pesos to 30 pesos, it says current wage rates do not even meet poverty threshold lines.
It cites the NCR where the total minimum wage in 30 days is only 13,680 pesos, merely 58% of the NCR’s monthly poverty threshold of 23,404 pesos.

Story 5: ACTIVISTS RALLY BEFORE AQUINO’S SONA
Hundreds of protesters march along Commonwealth Avenue earlier today with an effigy of President Aquino, 3 hours before his State of the Nation address.
Activist group Ugatlahi says Aquino’s government excels at deception.
The group says Aquino charmed his way through programs like public-private partnerships and conditional cash transfer.
But the groups say, despite claims that these would alleviate poverty, the number of families below the poverty line continues to increase.
Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan hits increasing military presence and US intervention in the country.

Story 6: TOP PH EXECS COMMENT ON BUSINESS UNDER AQUINO GOVT
Rappler asks top level executives of the country’s largest and most influential business groups about the Aquino government’s economic performance.
Cebu Pacific Air president and CEO Lance Gokongwei says this government has two things going for it.
First, good governance associated with economic growth…
Second, the Tourism Department has done a fantastic job of marketing the Philippines as a tourism destination
San Miguel Corp. president and COO Ramon Ang, notes the GDP is currently one of the highest in Southeast Asia.
Ayala Land president and CEO Antonino Aquino says foreign investments and private public partnerships will continue to happen.
PLDT Chair Manny Pangilinan says perception of the president and the economy is excellent and is looking forward to increased trades and investments.
Jollibee Foods Corp chairman and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong lauds the economic team for making the Philippines the ‘darling of investments’ despite the Euro crisis.

Story 7: DEL ROSARIO LAUDS AQUINO’S CALL FOR SOLIDARITY ON SCARBOROUGH ISSUE
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario praises the President’s State of the Nation speech for its scope.
He supports the President’s call for solidarity on the Scarborough Shoal issue.

Story 8: OBAMA CONDOLES WITH FAMILIES OF CINEMA MASSACRE
US President Barack Obama tells a tale of heroism from the Colorado cinema shooting last Friday.
Obama focuses on 19-year-old Allie Young and her friend Stephanie Davies, who helped each other during the ordeal.
In a speech during a campaign event in Florida, Obama addresses the crowd as both a president and a father.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: I’m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if they had been in the theater, as so many of our kids do every day. Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight. For those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.

Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launch a new assault on rebels in the Syrian capital of Damascus Sunday, even as clashes rage in the city of Aleppo.
A rebel leader says, “The regime is collapsing… That means it will use greater violence in order to try and save itself.”
Human rights watch groups say more than 19,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

At number 6, Norwegians holds a memorial ceremony Sunday to mark a year since right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik gunned down 69 people in an island summer camp in Norway.
Breivik’s campaign of terror started in Oslo where he set off a bomb outside a government building before heading to an island where he went on a shooting spree.
Breivik said he carried out the attacks to protect Norway from a Muslim invasion.

And at number 8, The heaviest rainfall since 1951 killed at least 37 people and forced the evacuation of 50,000 in Beijing.
More than 6 inches of rain fell overnight Saturday into Sunday, July 22, leaving about 80,000 passengers at the Beijing International Airport stranded overnight.
Fierce thunderstorms caused the cancellation of about 500 international flights.

– Rappler.com