Rappler Newscast | October 22, 2012


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President Aquino says infrastructure projects are the key to sustained economic growth. | The government wavers on its original plan to make Clark the country's main gateway. | Lance Armstrong is banned from cycling after a doping scandal.

Today on Rappler.

  • President Aquino says infrastructure projects are the key to sustained economic growth.
  • The government wavers on its original plan to make Clark the country’s main gateway.
  • Lance Armstrong is banned from cycling after a doping scandal.

President Benigno Aquino takes a swipe at former President Gloria Arroyo during his two-day visit to New Zealand.
In a speech before the Filipino community in Auckland, Aquino says Arroyo must be held accountable.  Then he cracks a joke.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Share ko ho lang sa inyo isang, tawang-tawa ako sa narinig kong joke eh. ‘Yung mga kababayan raw ho nating corrupt sa Pilipinas, kagagara ng kotse, kamamahal, katutulin. Pero pagka ginustong tumakas, ang ginagamit, wheelchair.

Aquino is referring to Arroyo’s failed attempt to leave the country in 2011 in the middle of the electoral sabotage case against her.
Arroyo, then in a wheelchair, claimed she needed medical treatment abroad for her neck problem.
Another Aquino political rival, former Chief Justice Renato Corona, also used a wheelchair when he testified before his impeachment trial at the Senate in May.

The Philippine economy is growing at an impressive pace at a time when the world’s richest are struggling under massive debts and deficits.
How is President Benigno Aquino handling the country’s economic opportunities, risks and the key players?
Lala Rimando reports.

Under President Benigno Aquino, the Philippine economy is one of the world’s fastest growing and a darling among foreign investors in search of a safe haven.
With his anti-corruption campaign, businessmen and investors are betting on an economy that grew an impressive 5.9% in the second quarter or 6.1% in the first 6 months.
Aquino tells Rappler this growing number of interested investors makes the playing field less vulnerable to being controlled by a few.

LALA RIMANDO: What about Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ramon Ang of San Miguel?
BENIGNO AQUINO III: They (MVP and Ramon Ang) are not the only competitors. There are also foreign players that also want to be part of it. What would be wrong is if we have crony capitalists, regardless of their efficiencies they keep winning anything and everything. And i don’t think there has been any allegation that we favor one group over another.

He cites a conversation with a Filipino billionaire who lost in a bidding.

AQUINO: In fact one of the best conversations I’ve had, I think, was with Andrew Tan…They bidded for the FTI property, they lost. He reported this – ‘Sir, we bidded, we lost, but that’s ok with us…First time in my experience to have somebody interested in something, bid, lost and still smiling and happy. ‘Perhaps not successful here, we have a different priority but everything was fair and I can expect the same treatment when it’s my turn to win.

Key industries in the Philippines are associated with a few families, thanks to strong lobby on lawmakers that parceled out rights to monopolized businesses.  
Under Aquino, some businessmen have a hard time getting favorable policies.
Aquino is bent on imposing higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol– two businesses that, for decades, were made affordable through legislation.

AQUINO: We have a lot of advocates in the house and senate to be able to reach between P30 and P40 at least for both products.

Mining firms are facing the same dilemma.

LALA RIMANDO: Do you like mining?
AQUINO: In the sense that it will provide job opportunities and revenues, yes. But at the end of the day, the vast majority of our populace is not involved in mining but is also at risk, esp. in mining areas. So the interest of the majority, in fact the entire populace, should be the primary consideration, rather than just a specific sector.

Instead of mining, he favors tourism as a key dollar-earner and economic player.
Only under Aquino’s watch is there a firm policy to increase competition among airlines, bringing in more dollar-spending tourists.  
There is one area where President Aquino wavers: tapping private companies to shoulder the cost of infrastructure.

AQUINO: Perhaps we started off with the wrong premise…Doing it in a purely PPP fashion presents the choice that, if there is no other means of effecting that particular project, then you will have to bear certain privileges that you grant the proponent to get them or entice them to do it. Or the project in turn becomes more expensive because you have no other choice.

While major roads, airports, irrigation and flood-control projects are delayed, he singles out a road project that he wants finished when he steps down in 2016.

AQUINO: Yesterday, I reminded Sec. Purisima and incoming DOTC Sec. Abaya and outgoing DOTC Sec. Roxas, that the NLEx-SLEx Connector Road is something that I want to inaugurate and to drive on while I’m still president. You can approach it on economic basis. It fosters more efficient transfer of goods between north and south.

Two groups are eyeing this road project: San Miguel and Metro Pacific Investments, the two conglomerates that already control the country’s biggest infrastructure, power, airline, telecommunication, mining, alcohol and other businesses.  
With three more years in Aquino’s term as Philippine president, many will watch and hope that this playing field remains competitive for all.  
Lala Rimando, Rappler, Manila.

The Transportation Department is having second thoughts about its plan to make the airport in Clark, Pampanga the main gateway to the Philippines.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya says that despite the congestion in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, there is no decision to move to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark.
Abaya says the department is studying viable conditions for the move, such as a speed rail that would ease access between Manila and Clark.
In late September, the International Air Transport Association objected to the plan because Clark is far from Metro Manila and difficult to access.
Clark is about 80 kilometers from the capital and the China-funded North Rail project has been delayed.

JUN ABAYA, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We’re looking at Clark…I’m just not confident. Clearly, there’s no decision yet based on what I heard and what I’ve been briefed that we’re going to Clark. I’m still trying to form if there is indeed a consensus to move there because there are a lot of conditions before that could be viable…There are a lot of prerequisites before you can say that we are definitely moving to Clark.

Nur Misuari says the Framework Agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a conspiracy between both sides that must be blocked.
Addressing an estimated 7,000 members and supporters of the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF Sunday, Misuari says the peace deal, “is an attempt to downgrade the peace treaties.”
He says present talks between the Aquino administration and the MILF aim to emasculate the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement signed by the MNLF with the Philippine government.
The Tripoli pact was signed with the Marcos government, while the 1996 peace agreement was with the Ramos government.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is searching for its fourth undersecretary to replace resigned DILG Undersecretary for Peace and Order Rico Puno.
Puno left his post last month after he was encouraged to resign by President  Aquino.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas says Puno’s replacement will join former Cebu City administrator Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez, Transportation Undersecretary Rafael Santos, and current DILG Undersecretary for local government Austere Panadero.
Under Republic Act 6975 on the reorganization of the DILG, the department is only allowed two undersecretaries — one for peace and order and another for local government.

The Philippines now has its second saint, a 17th-century teenage martyr seen as a model for the youth and migrant workers.
On Sunday, Pope Benedict the XVI officially included Pedro Calungsod and 6 others in the list of Catholic saints.
Calungsod is the second Filipino saint after Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in 1987.
In his homily, the Pope notes the martyr’s faith despite religious persecution.
A missionary who worked with the Jesuits, Calungsod was killed by natives in the Mariana Islands in the 17th century.
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines media director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio tells Rappler various youth groups adopt Calungsod as the “icon of this generation.”

MSGR. PEDRO QUITORIO, CBCP MEDIA DIRECTOR: Bata si Pedro Calungsod. Si Lorenzo Ruiz older, family man. Ito talagang teenager. So naka-relate sila kaagad. Somebody who was faithful to something, somebody who would be willing to sacrifice for something. Yung mga values nya are the values that was being, hinahanap ng mga bata ngayon because probably they seldom see those values in older people like us.

At number 3, The intelligence department of Jordan foils what is described as “a major terrorist plot” aimed at diplomats and shopping centers.
According to CNN, 11 militants were arrested by Jordanian authorities.
The terrorists called their plan “9/11 (2),”
The BBC says it was “an al-Qaeda plot timed for the anniversary of the November 9 attacks on Amman in 2005.”
It says their objective is to “create a highly destructive explosive that would cause the highest number of casualties and extensive physical damage.”

At number 6, Taking another step forward in reforms, President Thein Sein of Myanmar holds his first-ever local news conference Sunday.
After giving so many interviews overseas, he says he felt he should hold one in his own country.
The 67-year-old former general admits struggling to overcome fear of the media.
BBC reports, he was careful not to reveal too much on controversial issues.
For instance, he says it would depend on Aung San Suu Kyi whether she would play a role in the government.

At number 8, Oxford University academics are on the brink of decoding the world’s oldest undeciphered writing system.
An image-making device is being used by researchers to decipher a writing system called proto-Elamite which was used between 3200BC and 2900BC in what is now the southwest of Iran.
The Reflectance Transformation Imaging System is a device shipped to the Louvre Museum in Paris, where the most important tablets are kept.
It captures details on the surface of the clay tablets which are put inside the machine.

And at number 10, Apple’s teaser “We’ve got a little more to show you” for an event Tuesday may well be about the launch of its next hot gadget, the iPad Mini.
Apple has not answered rumors and blogs that say the new tablet, a smaller version of its market-leading iPad, could be priced from $249-$399.
The pricing scheme is expected to pressure rivals like Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Also part of the competition are the small-format Google Nexus 7, the Samsung Galaxy tab, and the Microsoft Surface tablet, which will be launched on October 26. Analyst Jack Gold said Apple needs to get into the small tablet market to maintain its leadership.

The Cycling Union or UCI bans Lance Armstrong from cycling following doping allegations from the US Anti-Doping Agency or USADA.
It also strips Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles and his bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics.
The Union’s president, Pat McQuaid, says Lance Armstrong no longer has a place in cycling.
McQuiad remains positive saying -quote ‘Cycling has a future. We must assure that this does not happen again.’

– Rappler.com

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