Rappler Newscast | October 23, 2013


This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

The Senate President’s trust and approval ratings drop. Senators approve a resolution to realign their pork barrel. President Aquino defends the DAP.

Today on Rappler.

  • Senate President Drilon’s trust and approval ratings drop following the pork barrel scam.
  • Senators approve a resolution to realign the pork barrel but House speaker Belmonte disagrees.
  • President Aquino defends the DAP saying it drives the Philippine economy.


Senate President Franklin Drilon’s trust and approval ratings drop following the controversial multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
Pulse Asia’s latest survey shows only President Benigno Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay score majority trust and approval ratings among the country’s top 5 officials.
Aquino gets a 79% approval rating, up 6 percentage points from 73% in the June survey.
His trust rating is at 76%.
Binay gets a 77% approval rating and a 74% trust rating.
Pulse Asia notes Drilon suffered the biggest drop in approval ratings from 62% in June, his rating goes down to 50% in September.
The survey firm says the pork barrel scam appears to have –quote–  “adversely affected” public perception on the Senate President.
Drilon was dragged into the controversy after photos circulate showing him with alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
But Drilon says Napoles is only an acquaintance.
In the House of Representatives, Speaker Sonny Belmonte gets an approval rating of 37% and a disapproval rating of 19%.
Of the 3 institutions covered by the survey — the Senate, House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court — only the Supreme Court scored a majority approval rating.
None of the 3 enjoyed a majority trust rating.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s approval rating goes up 5 percentage points, from 37% in June to 42% in September.

Senators unanimously approve the resolution initiated by Senate President Franklin Drilon to realign their pork barrel to help calamity victims.
On Tuesday, the lawmakers approve Senate Resolution 302 after Drilon assured them of its legality.
But they ask Drilon to reword some phrases so the resolution will not be misconstrued as a violation of the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court on the fund releases.
In September, the Court stopped the release of the remaining pork barrel for 2013 while it is deciding on its constitutionality.
Senators want to augment the President’s calamity fund with their abandoned pork barrel for rehabilitation efforts.
A press release from Drilon’s office says there is still P3.18 billion in senators’ pork barrel.
Drilon says the remaining pork barrel is considered “abandoned” and can be converted into “savings,” which the President can realign.

House Speaker Sonny Belmonte disagrees with Senate President Franklin Drilon and says the remaining pork barrel cannot be realigned as calamity funds.
Belmonte says –quote–, “How could you actually be reallocating or spending money which is the subject of a [temporary restraining order]?”
Drilon earlier said the remaining pork barrel is “abandoned” and can be converted into savings.
Asked whether this would be a case of the Senate preempting the court’s ruling, Drilon says the Senate is an independent body that can make its own decision.
But Belmonte says the pork barrel can only be realigned as savings once the Court rules it is unconstitutional.

President Benigno Aquino hits criticism over the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP and says it was the stimulus program that drove the country’s economic boom.
In a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines forum, Aquino criticizes the media’s framing of the DAP, saying it was –quote– “unjustly and oddly vilified.”

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: After 2 years worth of projects that has helped perhaps millions of our countrymen, it is receiving intense criticism. In fact, I was perplexed to hear that some people equate it – the DAP – with PDAF.

The president points out the timing of the criticisms, suggesting it was intended to distract the public.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: All of these attacks came after plunder cases, among others, that were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against a few well-known politicians.

He also says the “true issue…drowned by the background noise” is the alleged misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel.
The budget department says the DAP is sourced from savings and was intended to boost economic expansion.
The Aquino administration was forced to explain details of DAP after it was revealed millions of pesos were released to lawmakers after the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona.
Critics called the release a bribe or incentive.
Aquino credits the DAP for helping drive the Philippines’ economic growth.
He says it also helped the Philippines win investment grade status from renowned credit rating agencies.

A cell phone video of MNLF hostages during the stand-off in Zamboanga City has surfaced.
The video is consistent with the account of 2 hostages earlier interviewed by Rappler’s Patricia Evangelista in the short documentary “Sta. Catalina.”
Patricia files this report.

Jeorge Ando, his girlfriend Michelle Candido and their toddler son Eithan were on their fifth day since being held hostage by the Moro National Liberation Front. This video acquired by Rappler shows hostages forced into the center of Lustre St by the MNLF. Both Ando and Candido can be seen on the ground, clutching their son Eithan.

RAMON ZAGALA, AFP SPOKESPERSON: AFP forces at the time were at the corner of Lustre St and then we saw that there was someone taking a video standing when everyone already went to prone position.

Army Spokesperson Lt Col Ramon Zagala confirms the video was shot Friday, September 13, shortly before the military shifted tactics from containment to calibrated response.

RAMON ZAGALA, AFP SPOKESPERSON: The mere word calibrated. We want it to be safe in making sure that none of the hostages will be hurt.

All physical harm, he says, result from the MNLF’s actions.

RAMON ZAGALA, AFP SPOKESPERSON: There were some civilians who were possibly harmed because they were placed in the backblast portion of the 90RR that was fired by the MNLF Misuari faction.

Zagala denies any sort of assault directed at the hostages.
But the hostages’ narrative contradict it.

JEORGE ANDO, HOSTAGE: Pag labas namin doon sa kanto, binabakbakan kagad ng military.

MICHELLE CANDIDO, HOSTAGE: Lahat na po, baril, mortar, bomba, pinapaputok sa amin. Wala na po ata silang pakialam kung civilian ang natatamaan nila.

JEORGE ANDO, HOSTAGE: Nasa gitna ng daan lang ho kami.

MICHELLE CANDIDO, HOSTAGE: Tapos bigla na lang po may pumasok tatlong tangke ng military sa harap namin. Sumigaw kami ng ceasefire. Tapos yung tangke nila nagpaputok sa side namin, natamaan po yung isang matanda doon. Lumabas po yung bituka. Natamaan rin yung isa, parang gripo yung dugo.

RAMON ZAGALA, AFP SPOKESPERSON: They were never the target of our operation. Our mission was to rescue them. Our target were the enemies… and the troops we used were the very best. Well trained. If they were hurt, definitely not because of the armed forces. Our mission is to rescue them.

Zagala believes that the armed forces were successful in their goal to protect hostages.

RAMON ZAGALA, AFP SPOKESPERSON: None of those in the video were killed.

Included in the video is 2-year-old Eithan.

JEORGE ANDO, HOSTAGE: Yung time na grabe na yung crossfire, nakita ko yung manhole. Siguro yun pinaka-safe na taguan.

MICHELLE CANDIDO, HOSTAGE: Pumasok kami sa imburnal. Tapos may biglang pumutok na malakas.

A bullet smashed through the concrete cover and found its way into Eithan’s brain.

MICHELLE CANDIDO, HOSTAGE: Tumama muna sa kamay ko, tapos sa kanya. Lumalabas lahat ng dugo sa hati sa ulo niya.

Eithan Ando died one day later.
Zagala says no deaths among hostages occurred after their calibrated response.

RAMON ZAGALA, AFP SPOKESPERSON: We were given the mission. Two things to do. The first to rescue the hostages. Second to neutralize the enemy. We were able to rescue all 195 hostages and we were able to neutralize over 500 MNLF Misuari faction. That alone is a feat worthy of emulation of any armed forces of the world and that I can say we were very successful.

Patricia Evangelista, Rappler, Manila.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will send a formal apology to the Hong Kong government for the 2010 hostage-taking incident that killed 8 tourists.
This comes in the form of a resolution passed by the Manila city council.
Earlier, Estrada said he would visit Hong Kong to apologize for the incident.
The Hong Kong government demands a formal apology over the deaths of their citizens who were held hostage by a Filipino policeman.
Philippine authorities acknowledge the police mishandled the situation, but President Aquino refuses to make a formal apology on behalf of the national government.
Aquino says the act of one individual should not be construed as the act of the entire nation.
Manila City council secretary Luch Gempis denies the apology is intended to embarrass Aquino, who is a political rival of Estrada’s. 

At number 4, Regional power India advises the Philippines to be patient in dealing with China, even after Manila took Beijing to an international tribunal.
In an open forum after a lecture at the foreign affairs department, India’s foreign minister Salman Khurshid says the Philippines and China can –quote– “ring-fence the difficulties but continue working in areas where there is potential for convergence and growth.”
Khurshid visited the Philippines for talks on bilateral cooperation.

At number 6, Apple unveils a refreshed lineup of tablets at its event in San Francisco Tuesday — Wednesday in Manila.
The new iPad Air adapts the form factor of last year’s iPad mini, with a smaller bezel and diamond cut chamfered edges.
At 1 pound, Apple is calling the new model the “lightest full sized tablet in the world.”
Apple also brings the Retina screen to the iPad mini.
The new iPad mini with Retina display fits 3.1 million pixels into its 7.9-inch screen.

And at number 10, An online Islamic sex shop selling condoms, massage oils and perfume opens in Turkey, becoming the first of its kind in the predominantly Muslim country.
The “Halal Sex Shop” website says its products are “entirely safe” and in compliance with Islamic norms.
Turkey has so-called “erotic shops” in its streets, but the country’s prime minister suggested last year they rename themselves “love shops.”

Red Turnip, a new theater company, showcases the play ‘Closer’ and promises to shake up the Philippine theater industry. (Editor’s note: We earlier said ‘Closer’ is a musical. It’s a play. We regret the error.)

G Tongi reports.

G TONGI, REPORTING: I’m here at Whitespace for the Gala of Closer, brought to us by Red Turnip, the newest and most daring company in town.

Red Turnip’s maiden production is Closer, an acclaimed play by Patrick Marber.
It drew in a big crowd on gala night, proving the Philippine theater scene is ready for more unconventional story plots.
Musician Marc Abaya in Closer portrays Daniel Wolf, an obituarist.
He says Red Turnip pushes the envelope in terms of material.

MARC ABAYA, MUSICIAN AND ACTOR: It’s a talkie play where they have to be vulnerable and the audience has to be sensitive also and they are forced to deal with the emotions of the actors and what we put them through.

Film and TV actress Angel Aquino also makes her stage debut with the Red Turnip theater company as the photographer Anna.
She says stage has a completely different set of challenges.

ANGEL AQUINO, TV & FILM ACTRESS: How different am I here? Very nervous and someone who’s treading on uncharted waters for me. But I will give my best, I am trying my best to give justice to Anna and the material because it is a wonderful piece.

Theater Veteran and actor Bart Guingona says productions like Closer reminds people entertainment is not just about fluff.

BART GUINGONA, DIRECTOR AND VETERAN THEATER ACTOR: Our entertainment in this country gravitates towards what is shallow and what is easy and so sometimes it’s important to remind people that the theater can be much much more than that.

No stranger to theater, Cris Villonco multitasks as a producer, showbuyer and actress as she portrays a stripper named Alice.

CRIS VILLONCO, ACTRESS AND RED TURNIP FOUNDER: This is my most daring, yes it definitely is. It has pushed me to great great great great lengths. I’ve lost 15 pounds because of this and Anna for some reason always pushes me to the edge.

Ana Abad Santos, Red Turnip founder and actress directs Closer and says shows like this deviate from the norm of commercial musicals.

ANA ABAD SANTOS, RED TURNIP FOUNDER AND CLOSER DIRECTOR: We put up this company because we really wanted to put up daring pieces of theater…we wanna rock people, we wanna rock your life…I feel that theater is here to shake us up.

Red Turnips’ Closer ends this October 27 so don’t miss this bold and courageous theatrical production.
G Töngi, Rappler Manila.

– Rappler.com

Newscast Production Staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Jom Tolentino
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona
3D GRAPHICS Sten Bautista

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