Rappler Newscast | August 22, 2013


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State auditors stand by their report 192 lawmakers misused pork. Ping Lacson may join pork barrel misuse probe team. Monsoon damages reach P79 million

Today on Rappler. 

  • The Commission on Audit stands by its report that 192 lawmakers misused their pork barrel.
  • President Aquino may ask Ping Lacson to join a team investigating the pork barrel scam.
  • Monsoon rain affects 1.75 million Filipinos, with damages reaching P79 million.

The Commission on Audit stands by its report 192 lawmakers misused 6.1 billion pesos in pork.
This makes Janet Napoles just one of many, in a widespread practice that funnels public funds into the pockets of politicians and their conspirators.
Angela Casauay reports.

It’s one of the most comprehensive reports on the use of lawmakers’ development fund in recent history.
192 lawmakers misused at least P6.1 billion of their pork from 2007 to 2009.
Yet days after its release, errors on the Commission on Audit report were spotted.
The report shows former Compostela Valley representative Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora released P3 billion in development funds from 2007 to 2009.
It turned out to be “clerical error” on the part of the Department of Budget and Management, which attributed a Department of Public Works and Highways project in Compostela Valley to Zamora’s PDAF.  
President Benigno Aquino himself spotted another error – a “Luis Abalos” in the report turns out to be former Mandaluyong representative and now mayor Benhur Abalos.
But COA Chair Grace Pulido Tan points out what the DBM itself has already admitted — it’s not COA’s fault.

GRACE PULIDO TAN, COMMISSION ON AUDIT CHAIR: I think it only validates what we have also said in the report that the record-keeping, monitoring and tracking of DBM at that time at least was very very sloppy if I may use the term…kasi papaano ka magkakamali sa isang P3 billion na amount? (How will you commit a mistake on a P3 billion amount?) Both mistakes are clerical errors in both cases, the amount of releases stand.

COA maintains it tried its best to ensure the veracity of its report.

GRACE PULIDO TAN, COMMISSION ON AUDIT CHAIR: Should that erode confidence in our report, no I don’t think so because for one thing we went by documents and I think that’s what auditing is what about. And I think apart from these 3 errors, wala naman silang sinabi pa. (They didn’t say anything else.)

Budget Secretary Butch Abad apologized to Zamora for DBM’s clerical error.
Tan also apologizes to Zamora but for something different.

GRACE PULIDO TAN, COMMISSION ON AUDIT CHAIR: I would apologize for the shock of his life that he received from the report. I think nagbunga rin positively because these things have been exposed. Yun nga lang at his expense so that’s the part where I really commiserate with him.

Despite the criticisms, Tan stands by the integrity of COA’s report.
She says they have the documents to prove it.
It’s now up to government to prosecute and the 192 lawmakers to explain.
Angela Casauay, Rappler.

President Aquino says he is open to the idea of former Sen Ping Lacson probing the abuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel, although he is still waiting for the assessment of a draft executive order that names Lacson anti-corruption czar.
Lacson, a former police chief, says he submitted a draft executive order to Malacañang to ensure the new anti-corruption agency he proposed has operational capabilities and a law enforcement arm.
Aquino’s statements come after a state audit report revealed lawmakers’ misuse of their funds.
On Wednesday, Aquino says he is “disgusted” by the report, adding, “There were really people who abused it…They did not even let those in need taste a bit of it. Who wouldn’t be disgusted with that?”
On Thursday, Sen Chiz Escudero files a resolution to abolish the pork barrel, saying it is time to –quote– “draw the line” between “public accountability and “patronage politics.”

Janet Lim Napoles is the generous benefactor of a priest of the Catholic Church.
The priest, Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, an advocate of the poor, is a tenant of the alleged pork barrel queen in one of the country’s high-end subdivisions.
Documents obtained by Rappler show Monsignor Ramirez, now a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Manila is renting the house in South Forbes in Makati for P280,000 a month.
But it appears Monsignor Ramirez cannot afford to rent a P280,000 house.
Sources identify Ramirez as one of the priests who benefit from Napoles’ wealth through allowances and housing.
The 66-year-old priest, also the Continental Coordinator of Divine Mercy in Asia, has actively campaigned for the poor.
The 4,000-square-meter Forbes residence is not the only Napoles-linked property Ramirez uses.
Whistleblowers say Ramirez’s office in Magallanes Village, Makati also belongs to Napoles.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who knows Ramirez personally, describes the priest as extremely “generous.”
Macalintal tells Rappler, “He doesn’t keep anything for himself. He will give and give until he gives everything.”
Rappler talked to Gertrudes Luy, a former employee of Napoles and mother of whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Gertrudes was surprised when she heard about the contract.
She says the priest is supported financially by Napoles.
He is said to be undergoing dialysis.
Although the Forbes property does not bear Napoles’ name, whistleblowers and documents confirm she owns the house.
The contract signed by Ramirez says the property is rented out to him by a certain La Roca Enterprises Inc.
The company is not on the list of Napoles-registered companies, but on one occasion, a letter to Forbes was signed by La Roca Enterprises’ corporate secretary, Anthony Dequiña.
His name appeared several times as an incorporator of companies Napoles set up.
The method Napoles uses to acquire property is similar to how she sets up dubious companies allegedly used to pocket lawmakers’ pork barrel.
Rappler tried to get in touch with Ramirez to get his side but has not been successful.

The monsoon rain enhanced by tropical storm Maring — international name Trami — affects more than 367,000 families or 1.75 million people.
The death toll also rises to 19.
More than 200,000 people are in 718 evacuation centers across Luzon.
Based on initial assessment, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council puts the damage to infrastructure and agriculture at P79 million.
On Wednesday, tropical storm Maring exits the Philippine area of responsibility.
The storm makes landfall in mainland China, but state weather bureau Pagasa says the regions of Ilocos and Cordillera will continue to experience monsoon rain.
Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers.

President Aquino visits evacuation centers for the 2nd consecutive day. This time he goes to Cavite, another area hit hard by tropical storm Maring and the southwest monsoon.
This report.

The sun finally shines in Kawit, Cavite but in Binakayan National High School, 201 families continue to seek refuge, from floods brought by tropical storm Maring and the southwest monsoon.
Cavite was one of the hardest hit areas, with the entire province declared under state of calamity. As early as Sunday, August 18, families fled here to escape the rains.
At the storm’s worst, over 400 families stayed here part of the over 10,000 families in Cavite that have been served in evacuation centers. A total of over 26,000 families in 153 barangays have been affected in the province.
This is President Benigno Aquino’s 2nd provincial stop after Laguna.
He visits Imus, then Kawit and comes with relief goods.  
In Kawit, every single one of the 23 barangays were affected. 5 continue to be submerged – mostly coastal areas. With nowhere to sleep and no livelihood, this is the only place these evacuees can find food and shelter.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF return to the negotiating table Thursday for the 39th round of talks in Malaysia.
Both sides will discuss the last two annexes for the final peace pact: the normalization process and power sharing between the Bangsamoro political entity and the central government.
Days after the resumption of this round of talks, reports say Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari again declared independence for Mindanao.
Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer says these incidents will not derail the peace talks.
She adds, “In this round, we will prove that we have not been waylaid by these groups’ destructive, desperate ways.”
For this round of talks, both sides will thresh out the remaining issues in the annexes.
The normalization annex contains the difficult issue of decommissioning MILF combatants and other armed groups.
It is still at the level of the technical working group.
The annex on power-sharing is already on its final stages.

Family members and victims of the 2010 Manila hostage crisis sue the Philippine government Thursday, a day before the tragedy’s third anniversary.
The group wants an apology and compensation after accusing Manila of failing to respond to their demands.
The hostage crisis cost the lives of 8 tourists following a bungled rescue operation when a sacked policeman held a bus packed with tourists hostage.
The Philippine government and then-Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim are among the 9 parties being sued.
Current Manila mayor Joseph Estrada apologized this week for the tragedy, but relatives of the victims reject the apology.

At number 4, American Army soldier Bradley Manning gets 35 years in prison for handing secret government documents to Wikileaks, including material showing graphic footage of US Apache attack helicopters firing at 12 people in Baghdad in 2007.
The 25-year-old private could be freed on parole within a decade and will serve his sentence in military custody before being dishonorably discharged.

At number 6, Egypt’s military orders house arrest for Hosni Mubarak, as the former president is set for conditional release on murder and corruption charges.
The 85-year-old former leader faces charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during an uprising that ousted him in 2011.

And at number 9, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano recounts his experience nearly drowning in space following an unexplained leak.
Writing on his blog from the International Space Station, Parmitano says he felt drops of liquid in his spacesuit shortly after starting a spacewalk on July 16.
He describes being suffocated as he struggled to make his way back to the airlock, the water level quickly rising in his helmet.
Parmitano made it safely back, though experts say he faced the risk of drowning if the ordeal had gone on much longer.

Younghusband brothers Phil and James will face-off for the second consecutive year in the Clear Dream Match.
This year’s football game will feature two legends – Dennis Wise and Fabio Cannavaro.
Wise will be playing for Team Phil, while Cannavaro will join Team James on the field.

PHIL YOUNGHUSBAND, FOOTBALL PLAYER: Dennis is someone I’ve idolized ever since I was young. He brings a lot to the field. An all-around player like Dennis is perfect for Team Phil and he’s really gonna give us a big advantage in the game.
JAMES YOUNGHUSBAND, FOOTBALL PLAYER: Fabio brings experience to the team. He brings professionalism.

Both Cannavaro and Wise are excited to showcase their talents in front of the Filipino crowd.

DENNIS WISE, FORMER CHELSEA FC STANDOUT: The result last year was 5-1, we’re trying to make it 6-1. I know they’ve got the Berlin Wall on their side but we are not worried.
FABIO CANNAVARO, FOOTBALL LEGEND: We want to win. We are here to win. I feel sorry for you guys but this year we want to improve the teams but we want to win. This one is important here in the Philippines because we want to improve football here so this is a good opportunity for us.

Clear’s brand manager Drew Copuyoc says proceeds of Clear Dream Match 2 will be divided in half.
One half goes to relief efforts for victims of tropical storm Maring, while the other goes to the Tuloy sa Don Bosco Foundation.
Football fans can watch Clear Dream Match 2 LIVE on Rappler.com Saturday, August 24 at 7PM.


Newscast production staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona

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