Rappler Newscast | July 24, 2012

TOP STORY: 2 disbarment cases and her closeness to the President threaten Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's bid for chief justice.

Today on Rappler.

  • 2 disbarment cases and her closeness to the President threaten Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s bid for chief justice.
  • The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s top economic performer, but analysts say it’s the most expensive stock market in the region.
  • The Muntinlupa Little League team makes it to the World Series.

Today the Philippines starts looking for a new Chief Justice, which for the first time is open to the public, broadcast on nationwide television.  
You can watch the livestream on Rappler.
Judicial and Bar Council interviews candidates for the top official of the judiciary after the impeachment of Renato Corona.
The JBC vets the candidates and puts together a shortlist it submits to the President.

3 major obstacles to the possible appointment of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima emerge during her interview with the JBC: the disbarment case against the Justice Secretary, her lack of legal experience, and her perceived partisanship for the President.
In 2011, two disbarment complaints were filed with the Supreme Court against De Lima.
One of the cases says De Lima should be disbarred for defying the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in November 2011, which stopped her from implementing a travel ban against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
De Lima has a week from Tuesday to have the cases dropped.
Presiding officer of the Judicial and Bar Council Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta doubts the issue will be settled in time for the JBC’s deadline to submit its shortlist to President Benigno Aquino.

LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: I do realize your honor time is not on my side…First I take the position that the case has not ripened into a regular admin case…In both resolutions, there’s nothing there about a determination of some kind of a probable cause or prima facie or a preliminary determination, there’s nothing there about referring the cases to the IBP for further investigation. The wordings in those resolutions if I remember correctly refer to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation. Now if these are referred to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation, then I don’t see why we have to consider the near referral from the Supreme Court to the IBP as already a finding of a preliminary merit.

Presiding officer of the Judicial and Bar Council Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta points out, it would be awkward for a De Lima led High Court, to decide on her own disbarment case if this was elevated to the highest judicial body.

Acknowledged as the preferred candidate of the President, De Lima admits that as justice secretary she is the alter ego of the President.

LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: ‘Yung haka-haka pong ‘yan, ‘yung apprehension na this particular Cabinet official who is an alter-ego of the president would tend to be beholden to that of appointing authority–it remains to be just really a speculation, an apprehension, a possibility that can go either way…I don’t want to be judged at this point, that I would be beholden to the appointing authority, you have to look at my records, your honor, as I’ve been with an independent Constitutional body, which is the CHR.

At age 52, de Lima would sit as chief justice for 18 years if she is appointed.
Asked if she would be open to a term limit, she says the post of Chief Justice is not a political position that can be subject to power-sharing.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza faces questions on his past links to San Miguel Corporation in his JBC interviews today.
Jardeleza was a longtime counsel of SMC when it was still owned by businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
The JBC asks Jardeleza if he knew details of the coco levy fund case which involves Cojuangco.
He says he was not involved in the case but only in SMC legal cases.
But JBC presiding officer Diosdado Peralta says Jardeleza, a former corporate secretary of SMC, must have been aware of the shares owned by Cojuangco.

DIOSDADO PERALTA, JBC PRESIDING OFFICER: Is it not that there were questions about the composition of the boards of directors in the board meetings of the San Miguel Corp at that time you were a corporate secretary of San Miguel, and therefore participated or interpreted or given opinion that Mr. Cojuangco can still vote equivalent to the 20 percent shares?
SOLICITOR GENERAL FRANCIS JARDELEZA: I remember I did, I was the corporate secretary at that time.
DIOSDADO PERALTA, JBC PRESIDING OFFICER: In other words, you knew about the shares of Mr. Cojuangco.

JBC candidate Jose Manuel Diokno says justice is not a lofty ideal.
It ought to be concrete, something that Filipinos should feel “in their hands.”
Calling himself a liberal imbued with philosophies of human rights, Diokno says if he is appointed Chief Justice, he will push for judicial activism in the face of what he describes as antiquated and inaccessible rules.
He proposes a 4 point reform program: transparency, accountability, less flip-flopping on final decisions, and faster and cheaper justice.
Asked about his concept of justice, this was what Diokno had to say:

JOSE MANUEL DIOKNO, JBC NOMINEE: My concept of justice is something concrete, something that the people can see happening in reality, not just a lofty ideal, not just something we strive for endlessly without ever experiencing it but something that they can feel in their hands…At the present time there is a need for more activism in the court. We are in a situation where we don’t have yet the proper legal framework for the delivery of justice…For us to just sit back and take a more safe or conservative attitude given that situation, I think would not benefit the people whom we are here to serve.

On his legacy if he gets appointed chief justice, Diokno says he wants to be remembered as a justice who improved the legal system for the majority of Filipinos.

DIOKNO: Law and justice are two separate concepts for the poor. For many of our poor they identify the law with naked power, and they see justice as just a dream, something that they can never attain in their lifetime. I would like at the end if ever to leave a legacy to say that I have brought justice back into law.

Lawyer Katrina Legarda explains her stand on the Reproductive Health bill and divorce during the public interviews of chief justice nominees.
She says contraceptives may prevent conception, but it does not violate constitutional provisions protecting the rights of an unborn child.

KATRINA LEGARDA, JBC NOMINEE: The use of contraceptives prevents conception and it is only when there is conception, is the provision of the personality of the child, created. And it is that child who must be protected…My view is that the Constitutional provision can still be employed in order to prevent damage and injury to a conceived but unborn child.

Legarda also says it’s time for the country to have a divorce law.

KATRINA LEGARDA, JBC NOMINEE: My position on divorce is that it is time for us to have a divorce law. We can use Article 55 of the Family Code which are the grounds for legal separation as grounds for divorce.

Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Andres Bautista talks about the challenges to the judiciary.
In his opening statement, he talks about the problem of addressing corruption and restoring credibility in the Supreme Court.
He says an outsider like him could provide the needed “radical” solutions.

ANDRES BAUTISTA, PCGG CHAIR: I think the question all of us need to ask is are we happy with the way things are? If we’re happy, then we should have more of the same. And I think that is where I am coming from, there has to be a recognition that there is a problem. In which case, perhaps we need a radical out of the box solution. An outsider will hopefully provide new ideas, new perspectives, new insights in the way the court can function.

The second candidate, Atty. Soledad Cagampang de Castro answers questions on gender equality and discrimination in the judiciary.
De Castro says if she becomes Chief Justice, she plans to institute equal opportunity for men and women.

SOLEDAD CAGAMPANG DE CASTRO, JBC NOMINEE: All applicants for the judiciary should be equally evaluated…Because from my personal experience, I made it a point that nobody should carry my bag just because I’m a woman, I should walk like the other men when they go to work, no special treatment because that is the cost of equality.

At his 3rd State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III cites the economic gains that made the Philippines Asia’s second fastest growing economy.
Rappler looks at his government’s hits & misses.  
Rappler’s Business Editor Lala Rimando says, for the first time in about 15 years, a sin tax reform bill makes it through the House of Representatives.
It’s a step closer to becoming a law that will make cigarettes and alcohol more expensive.
The bill will raise an additional 32 billion pesos in revenues. Our scorecard: ALMOST ACHIEVED.
By 2016, the Aquino administration targets an investment-grade credit rating.
Meeting that goal seems possible now that international credit rating agencies have given the Philippines 8 upgrades in both outlook and credit ratings.
Rappler’s scorecard: ALMOST ACHIEVED.
In 2010, Aquino drummed up the public-private partnership mode for infrastructure projects.
This means a level playing field for investors and transparent bidding processes.
But so far, only one small PPP project has been passed: the Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway Road, bid out in December 2011.
Our scorecard: MISSED.
In March 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No 29, which allows foreign carriers to mount unlimited flights at Philippine airports.
Local airlines resisted, but the government stood firm.
Liberalizing this industry is part of the Aquino government’s strategy to boost tourism.
Our scorecard: ACHIEVED.
US car company Ford shuts down its factory in the country, a sign that the Philippines still has problems.  Among them: the lack of a raw material supply chain, high electricity costs, and a skilled but expensive labor pool.
Our scorecard: MISSED.

President Aquino says the Philippines is the best performing economy in Southeast Asia and points to the stock market’s climb.
The Philippines’ stock market is up nearly 19%, one of Asia’s top performers for a second year, but it comes with a warning.
The Wall Street Journal reports, HSBC’s Asia Pacific equity strategists say, “There are a lot of things we like in the Philippines, except one thing: it is the most expensive market in the region.”
The PSE Composite Index is trading at 16 times predicted annual earnings, making it nearly twice as costly as South Korea’s Kospi Index at 8.3 times expected earnings, and more than twice as expensive as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.

At number 3, Why are power rates in the Philippines the highest in Asia?
It’s a complex story explained in a 6-minute Rappler animation putting together the policies that range from reactive to populist to idealist.
The sins of the past, the capital intensive nature of the power industry, market forces, and moves for cleaner energy sources make their way into the electricity bill, which have been going up instead of down.

At number 7, For the first time since 1999, Hong Kong raises its typhoon warning to the most severe level of 10.  
Typhoon Vicente, packing winds of over 140 kilometers an hour, batters Hong Kong, rerouting cargo ships and flights to the Philippines.
It leaves behind delayed flights, more than 100 people hurt, and ferry, bus, and train services suspended.

At number 8, A stretch of highway in Syria is now called a “Street of Death” after months-long fighting between rebels and Bashar al Assad’s troops.
In Iraq, 111 were killed on July 23, the country’s deadliest day in 2 and a half years, after Al-Qaeda warned it would seek to retake territory and mount new attacks.

And at number 10, Instagram, the mobile app for photos, is finding new uses. “Instagramers Montreal” collates images to publicize the indie film of filmmakers David La Haye and Jay Tremblay.
About 87 Instagram-sourced movie “posters” taken by the app users who walk through the streets of Montreal will help publicize the film — an 87-minute, single-shot journey through the same route.

The Muntinlupa Little League Baseball team makes it to the global baseball scene after they qualify for the World Series.
The competition runs from July 25 and August 1 and has teams playing from all over the world. Natashya Gutierrez reports.

The Muntinlupa Little League team is excited.
They are representing the Philippines in the World Series in South Carolina.
The team is competing in the Big League division for boys ages 15-18, after they bested other Asia-Pacific countries. This is their first to time to qualify for the World Series.

PEPE MUÑOZ, COACH, MLL FOUNDER: Well it’s a great feeling because I remember going back to when they were 6 years old, 1999, 2000, they didn’t know how to throw a ball, they didn’t know how to catch a ball, from that to where they are today, it’s amazing.

The team has been playing together since they were kids.
They treat each other like brothers and feel that the camaraderie will help them win.
They will need to defeat other international teams to make the finals, where they will face off with the winner of the American teams competition.

ADO INIGO, BASEBALL PLAYER: As a strength, we have really good hitting, pitching and defense and the fact that we’ve known each other for so long, we’re really cohesive.

Baseball scouts will be at the tournament, to look for possible talents to recruit — which may open the doors for the first homegrown Filipino to play in the major leagues.
This could help the team achieve another goal: to promote baseball in the Philippines.

FELIPE REMOLLO, TEAM MANAGER: Hopefully with this team and enough coverage in the media, we can revive the interest in baseball among our kids and among the Filipino youth.

For now, the boys promise to do their best to bring pride to the country by playing the sport they love.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Alabang.

– Rappler.com