Rappler Newscast | July 27, 2012

Rappler.com
TOP STORY: The Sandiganbayan stops the plunder hearing of former president Gloria Arroyo, and returns the case to the Ombudsman.

Today on Rappler.

  • The Sandiganbayan stops the plunder hearing of former president Gloria Arroyo, and returns the case to the Ombudsman.
  • The Judicial and Bar Council postpones submission of its shortlist of Chief Justice candidates.
  • Associate Justice Lourdes Sereno says appointing an outsider Chief Justice is like sending a civilian to war.

Story 1: SANDIGANBAYAN STOPS GMA PLUNDER HEARING
More setbacks for the government’s efforts to put former President Gloria Arroyo behind bars.
The Sandiganbayan decides to stop hearing the plunder case against her until the Ombudsman responds to Arroyo’s motion for reconsideration.
According to Rappler sources in the Sandiganbayan, the court also decides not to issue an arrest warrant against Mrs Arroyo.
This means the court ruled in favor of an earlier motion filed by Mrs Arroyo that the Sandiganbayan suspend further proceedings on the plunder case and not issue a warrant against her.
The Ombudsman said Arroyo and former officials of the Commission on Audit and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office diverted nearly P366 million in PCSO funds for election purposes.

Story 2: GMA RETURNS TO VMMC
In related news, Mrs. Arroyo returns to Veterans Memorial Medical Center Friday morning for an unscheduled physical therapy session.
Her spokesperson says Mrs Arroyo’s leg is hurting.
She is now on her way to her home province Pampanga.
Arroyo went to Tagaytay City Thursday for treatment in an alternative medical center.
She was released Wednesday after an 8-month hospital arrest over an electoral sabotage case.

Story 3: CONGRESS PULLS OUT OF JBC
House majority floor leader Neptali Gonzales II says the Senate and the House of Representatives are pulling out of the Judicial and Bar Council.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr issue the order Friday.
It comes on the last day of JBC’s public interviews of 20 nominees for chief justice.
Gonzales says the Congress cannot agree to the Supreme Court’s order designating only one representative for both houses.
He adds, “We are a bicameral Congress. Senator Francis Escudero cannot represent the House of Representatives.”
Congress filed a motion for Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.
JBC member Jose Mejia says they will still vote on the shortlist for the post of chief justice despite Congress’ pullout.
This reduces the number of the JBC to 6.

Story 4: JBC POSTPONES SUBMISSION OF SHORTLIST
After Congress announced its pullout, the Judicial and Bar Council postpones its self-imposed deadline for submitting the shortlist on July 30.
In a meeting Friday afternoon, the council decides to postpone “final deliberations” to  Thursday, August 2.
This means the voting may not even happen next week.

Story 5: SERENO: ‘OUTSIDER’ CJ IS LIKE A CIVILIAN SENT TO WAR
Like other Supreme Court justices vying for the top post, Associate Justice Lourdes Sereno thinks it is better for an insider to lead the high court.
Sereno tells the JBC that an insider knows the inner workings of the tribunal better.
She says appointing an outsider is like sending a civilian to lead a war.

MA. LOURDES SERENO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: For an outsider to understand how to manage the agenda of the en banc, nakaka-shock, masyadong specialized…Kung ‘yung outsider ang i-appoint, parang nag-appoint kayo ng civilian na mag-head ng gyera imbis na general.
Sana makita ng mga tao na maraming mahuhusay na huwes…reform and strength can come from within.

Sereno also says she has cultivated a reputation and adopted a lifestyle that leaves no doubt she cannot be bribed.

MA. LOURDES SERENO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: Napakahirap po ng role ng justice of the Supreme Court…kinu-cultivate ko po ang reputation na hindi po ako malalapitan…‘Yung aking buhay ay semi-recluse…Ayoko pong malagay sa conflict of interest situations, kailangang maniwala ang mga tao na patas akong tumingin. Pangalawa, kailangang mamuhay ako sa isang paraan na maniniwala ang mga tao na hindi ako pwedeng maging corrupt.

Sereno wrote the dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court’s decision imposing a restraining order on a travel ban on Mrs. Arroyo.
She said Corona’s version of the resolution did not truthfully reflect the High Court’s vote in November 2011.

Story 6: ZAMORA: DECIDE ON MARCOS CASES
Former Congressman and Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora tells the JBC the 30-year-old cases involving the Marcos wealth should be decided with finality by the courts.
A known protégé of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos – who, like him, topped the Bar exams – Zamora admits he sees the former dictator as a mentor.
He says the Marcos children are old enough and mature enough to be able to defend themselves properly.
Zamora was a member of Congress for about 30 years and was the executive secretary of former President Joseph Estrada.
Questions from Twitter bring up his independence after his long history of political alliances.

RONALDO ZAMORA, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Hindi ba magiging problema ang pagiging pulitiko nyo sa pagpasok nyo sa Korte Suprema? I think you’ll make an easy transition… but do I have enough baggage… do I have enough so that I should be disqualified, I don’t think so…I have some experience, some qualification, and think I have the heart.

The 67-year-old Zamora says if he is appointed, he would increase the budget, look at systems and technology.
He adds judges should be provided with tablets to connect them to the 21st century.

Story 7: HERBOSA: I CAN LEARN INTERNAL SC RULES
SEC Chairwoman Teresita Herbosa believes she can easily learn the internal rules of the Supreme Court despite being an outsider.

TERESITA HERBOSA, SEC CHAIRWOMAN: The constitution did not require for an insider or someone who has judicial experience to be qualified…That would be an advantage, but the disadvantage in other situations could be made up for qualities or traits and while…I would say it would be easy for me to be able to learn the internal rules of the Supreme Court.

Herbosa also says there’s perception of corruption because lawyers overpromise and underdeliver, then pass on the blame to the judges.

Story 8: VELASCO: MORE PUBLIC ATTORNEYS NEEDED
Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco says more public attorneys are needed to help address delays in cases.
He adds a lot of litigants in the Philippines can be considered ‘pauper litigants,’ needing legal aid.

PRESBITERO VELASCO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: A lot of litigants here can be considered pauper litigants…that’s why there’s a big need for legal aid lawyers. One of the causes of case delay is the lack of public attorneys…There’s got to be a balance between financial requirements of practitioners…as lawyers, we’re officers of court, we’re supposed to help pauper litigants.

Story 9: PHILEX MINING HIT BY GRENADE ATTACK
A grenade explodes outside the Manila headquarters of the Philippines’ top mining company, Philex Mining Corp, Friday.
Police and company officials say it is the second attack in two months.
Philex spokesman Mike Toledo says the blast, “caused minor damage but fortunately no one was harmed.”
Toledo says he is not aware of any threats against Philex but says the company has increased security.

Story 10: MANGUDADATU: HITMEN GOING AFTER MASSACRE WITNESS
Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu says assassins are stalking witnesses of the Maguindanao massacre.
He says witnesses and 3 relatives of those who plan to testify have been killed, sending a chilling message of silence.
The massacre was allegedly orchestrated by the Ampatuan clan.
Mangudadatu says 10 witnesses are already under the justice department’s protection but many others are still in hiding, vulnerable to assassination.
He adds, “Sooner or later, there will be more killings.”

Story 11: CHINA NAMES MILITARY CHIEFS IN SOUTH CHINA SEA GARRISON
China appoints military officers at a newly-established garrison in the South China Sea, its latest step to bolster claims to disputed islands in the area.
The defense ministry announces the appointments Thursday, 2 days after China established Sansha City on an island in the area.
The new commanders are Senior Colonel Cai Xihong as the garrison’s commander and Senior Colonel Liao Chaoyi as its political commissar.
Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun says the garrison is responsible for defence mobilization, guarding the city and disaster relief.
Vietnam and the Philippines protest China’s decision.
Yang says how China deploys its military within its own borders is irrelevant to other countries.

Story 12: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas cut interest rates by another 25 basis points to a historic low of 3.75% for overnight borrowing.
The move puts more money into the Philippine economy during the economic uncertainty in Europe, the US and the Middle East.
This is only the 3rd time the monetary officials cut interest rates since 2009.
The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s best performing economy in terms of GDP growth this quarter, second only to powerhouse China in Asia.

At number 6, fighting rages in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, as pro-regime media warn of a looming “mother of all battles.”
Reports say at least 121 people are dead.
This follows the defection of two more senior Syrian diplomats from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges world leaders to stop the slaughter in Syria. sa Germany’s UN ambassador says “The Syrian people will pay the price for this failure to act.”

At number 7, every 15 seconds, 1 baby is born in the Philippines. That makes more than 3 million babies born every year in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation.
It’s a statistic that has social, political and economic repercussions that’s forcing legislators to take a stance.
The House of Representatives will vote on August 7 on the Reproductive Health Bill, which mandates government support for sex education and birth control methods.
If it goes to the period of amendments, as it has in the Senate, there’s a slim chance this controversial bill may pass the 15th Congress.
President Aquino campaigned to push it but only gave a slight reference to it in his State of the Nation address this week.
The Catholic Church opposes it.

At number 9, Facebook reports a loss of 157 million US dollars Thursday in its first earnings report after its troubled initial public offering.
As a result, the company’s shares plunged 10% in after-hours trade.
This puts Facebook’s market capitalization at about $65 billion, well below the $100 billion valuation that the company said it was worth in its May IPO.
Despite that, the second quarter numbers show profits of 12 cents per share.

And at number 10, Google Talk died at around 10:40 GMT Thursday.
Rappler was one of the casualties, affecting a scheduled Google + Hangout on Cinemalaya and the state of Philippine cinema.
A short while later at 17:20 GMT, Twitter goes down because of a freak double failure in its data centers a day before the London Olympics.
Twitter partnered with NBC-Universal to collate millions of tweets expected to be sent during the Games onto a single Twitter page.
Is it up to the challenge?

Story 13: FINAL DAY OF OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY
The Olympic Torch Relay marks its final day today, on its last stretch before it lights the cauldron in Olympic Park at the opening ceremony.
This signals the official start of the games.
Prince William and his wife Catherine greet the torchbearers as they pass the torch on Buckingham Palace.
Prime Minister David Cameron greets them as they pass by Downing St.  

FLORENCE ROWE, OLYMPIC TORCH BEARER: I’ve had some lovely experiences in my life, but this…I don’t know. I shan’t sleep tonight and it’s been fantastic and I’ve been taking cared of by everybody…I was a bit nervous but they’re so great.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: You were brilliant, I didn’t think you were nervous at all. You were made for this. Thank you very much.

The torch spreads Olympic spirit through the country with an estimated 13 million cheering on the flame during its 70-day tour.

– Rappler.com