Philippine economy

Rappler Newscast | November 26, 2013
OFWs help relief efforts through remittances. Pacquiao says his frozen assets are earned money. NBI questions budget officials in a probe over fake SAROs.

Today on Rappler.

  • Overseas Filipino workers help typhoon relief efforts…through remittances.
  • Pacquiao to BIR on frozen assets: It’s earned money, not DAP or PDAF
  • The NBI questions budget department officials over fake special allotment release orders.

Tacloban begins rebuilding after Haiyan – Typhoon Yolanda to Filipinos – left a trail of destruction in its wake. The city has big plans for the aid it receives: to create a master rehabilitation program.
Bea Cupin reports.

JERRY YAOKASIN, TACLOBAN VICE MAYOR: Our window is closing. Another 3 to 5 days, once the media pulls out, there’s a next disaster somewhere out there in the next region, the next country wala na. So what will we do? Kailangan, kaya nga… they’re all here, donations are pouring in, we have to make sure we use them wisely and not commit the same mistakes. Enough na for one generation.

More than two weeks after Typhoon Yolanda, international name Haiyan, destroyed most of Tacloban City, aid continue to pour in.
But Tacloban vice mayor Jerry Yaokasin says interest in Tacloban and other areas devastated by Haiyan will eventually wane.

JERRY YAOKASIN, TACLOBAN VICE MAYOR: It’s now time for the legislative part of government to do our share. We’re looking to have a master rehabilitation program for Tacloban para hindi masayang yung pera, yung tulong galing sa international community.

Yaokasin says it’s local government’s priority.
The masterplan should be done by year’s end.
In the city astrodome, the tents bend when the wind is strong.
Evacuees get soaked when it rains.

LUCY DACOYCOY, HAIYAN SURVIVOR: Mahirap kami dito kay pag humahangin talagang tumutuklap yun. Minsan na-aano yung tent namin. Gusto naming humingi ng trapal para iga-ganon namin…Hindi kami naiipon ba, yung iba kong pamilya nandon sa asawa ng namatay. (It’s hard here because when the wind is strong, the tents give in. We want to ask for tarpaulin so we can cover our tents with them. The family isn’t together, the rest are with daughter.)

Lucy says she’s not leaving until the city government gives them a better, safer place to live in.

LUCY DACOYCOY, HAIYAN SURVIVOR: Saan kami titira? Ano naman ibibili namin? Wala naman kaming pera. Yan lang hinihingi namin. Ma-anohan kami ng pangbahay namin. (Where will we live? We have no money. That’s all we’re asking – a place to relocate.)

The city council intends to pass laws to improve the city’s zoning scheme.
The plan involves clearing coastal areas of residents – both legal and informal.   
It will also mean revising the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Policy and the city’s budget for 2014.

JERRY YAOKASIN, TACLOBAN VICE MAYOR: We’ll map out the city na and see which should be residential, commercial, industrial…It seems like unlike other countries, yung coastal area talaga they try to preserve it as much… walang makikitang dumi, they try to protect the environment so maganda. Definitely through the years, parami ng parami… and the informal settlers, doon sila. I think it’s about time that we set it up well.

Lucy says she doesn’t mind moving upland.

LUCY DACOYCOY, HAIYAN SURVIVOR: Pero magtatayo rin kami sa taas ba na hindi aabutin ng tubig. Ayaw ko na talaga dito, mahirap. Natatakot kami sa tubig. Hindi naman ako marunong lumangoy. Nako kung naabutan nga ako doon. (We’ll build a house uphill where water won’t reach it. I don’t want to go back here, we’re scared of the water. I don’t know how to swim. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if the storm surge reached me.)

The local government vows to make the most of the aid that’s pouring in.
Yaokasin says it will be a test for local government.
After facing criticism over the slow disaster response and a political tug-of-war with national government, can the LGU, brought down to its knees just weeks ago, get its act together?
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Tacloban

The Senate approves the P2.2648 trillion national budget for 2014, with P100 billion allocated for the calamity and rehabilitation fund.
This is lower than the amount the House of Representatives approved in October, with the P3.2 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF of those who chose to forego the funds stricken off.
This is the first budget the Senate approved in decades that excludes the PDAF.
Last week, the Supreme Court struck down the PDAF as unconstitutional following the pork barrel scam.
But Escudero says senators agreed in caucus to “respect the decision” of the House and other senators who chose to realign the PDAF to line agencies.
Escudero and Senate President Frank Drilon say the Senate reviewed the budget to ensure no provisions violated the court ruling barring the involvement of lawmakers in projects after the passage of the budget.
The Senate and the House will now reconcile their versions of the budget bill in the bicameral conference committee.
In the Senate version of the budget, the chamber also allots P100 billion for disaster rehabilitation.

In the aftermath of the storm, overseas Filipino workers or OFWs are once again the lifeline of their families affected by the typhoon through the remittances they send home.
With relief workers overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster, Filipinos abroad are coming to the rescue.
Economist Patrick Ella says remittances jumped an average of 13% to 14% over the 9 months that followed the Philippines’ previous 10 deadliest typhoons.
A 14% increase over three quarters equates to about $2.3 billion or P100.69 billion, based on last year’s remittances.
But Ella says the massive destruction from the super typhoon and the problems in delivery of relief goods could mean more remittances.
Around 10 million Filipinos work overseas, and their remittances help prop up the Philippine economy.
Last year, OFWs sent home $21.39 billion or P936.45 billion – equivalent to nearly 10% of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario says the importance of foreign aid in the aftermath of the typhoon shows the need to allow increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines.
Aside from $22.5 million in financial support, the United States sent troops and aircraft to deliver food and water to typhoon-ravaged areas.
Allowing increased troop visits – to improve humanitarian assistance and faster disaster response – is part of the framework agreement that the Philippines and the United States are working out.
The proposed deal allows more US troops, aircraft and ships in the Philippines.
It is also seen as a counterweight to Chinese moves in the disputed South China Sea.
Despite months of talks, the two governments deadlock.
But Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile says the typhoon can’t be used to justify increased rotational presence of American troops in the country.
Enrile adds, “We do not always have that kind of a problem. Otherwise, the anticipation of such a disaster or any contingency will be a justification for the presence of other troops in the country.”
The former defense minister says many aspects of the proposal must be scrutinized.

Fresh from his victory against Brandon Rios, Manny Pacquiao now faces a different opponent – the Bureau of Internal Revenue or BIR.
The Court of Tax Appeals issues a freeze order on Pacquiao’s assets and bank accounts in connection with a P2.2-billion tax evasion case.
Pacquiao calls the accusations “baseless.”
He says –quote– “The BIR claims I earned more than what I actually did, without any evidence to back it up. They ignored information given by Top Rank and HBO and insisted I earned more.”
Pacquiao arrived in the Philippines Tuesday after his successful comeback fight in Macau.
He says the freeze order is preventing him from helping Haiyan survivors.
Pacquiao compares his situation with the current probe into public funds like the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF and the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
He says in Filipino, “I cannot withdraw even one cent of my own money. I can’t even use it to help. My money that was garnished by the BIR was not stolen, it’s not PDAF or DAP. It came from all the punches, sweat and blood that I endured in boxing.”

The National Bureau of Investigation or NBI is probing the alleged release of fake special allotment release orders or SARO to mayors for P879 million worth of farm-to-market roads in Region II.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the NBI is looking at the possibility of an inside job at the Department of Budget or Management or DBM.
She adds it is –quote– “hard to believe that no one from DBM is involved” because of similarities in the fake and original SAROs.
A Philippine Daily Inquirer report reveals an ongoing probe into the fake SARO case in the middle of a supposed news blackout imposed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
In the report, Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala confirmed his department asked DBM to cancel the SARO.
De Lima says the agriculture department was alerted of the fake SARO after the staff of a congressman from Region II presented the document to a regional field unit.
De Lima says the SARO is dated Oct 10, 2013, but was discovered on October 18 – just 4 months after the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam was exposed.
NBI is also investigating reports of fake SAROs in the regions of Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Soccsksargen.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet marks its 100th day Monday, riding on the success of a diplomatic push that clinched a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to temporarily freeze its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The deal is a major achievement for Rouhani, who won a first-round electoral victory this year by promising a more diplomatic approach to the West.
Israel criticized the deal, calling it a “historic mistake.”
But on Monday, US President Barack Obama defends the agreement, and says diplomacy would continue over the coming months…
to settle “once and for all” the “threat of Iran’s nuclear program.”
He adds, “Huge challenges remain, but we cannot close the door on diplomacy and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.”

The United Nations urges fast action to stop conflict in Central African Republic, which a top official warns is falling into “complete chaos.”
Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson tells the UN Security Council the African nation’s population now faces a “desperate security situation.”
The Security Council discusses methods to back an African military force trying to restore order in the country where rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in March.
Since then, the transitional government lost control, with rival Christian and Muslim groups fighting each other.
Some UN officials and key governments warn of a possible genocide.

At number 8, US investigators say they failed to find a motive for the 2012 Newtown school massacre, but added the killer had “significant” mental problems.
The official report into the December 14 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School revealed Adam Lanza’s disturbing behavioral problems.
The 20-year-old was obsessed with mass murders and lived as a recluse.
The report says evidence showed he planned his actions, but there is –quote– “no clear indication why he did so.”
Lanza first killed his mother before gunning down 20 first-grade students and six adults in the elementary school. He then shot himself.
The Sandy Hook killings renewed emotional debate about gun control in America but resulted in little reform.

At number 9, Apple buys 3-D motion-sensor company PrimeSense, the same company that helped make Microsoft’s motion-control system Kinect.
PrimeSense specializes in sensor technology that allows users to interact with mobile devices using their bodies.
The deal, which went for a reported $360 million, stirs speculations about what the US tech giant is planning next.
Although the company won’t say what its plans are, some analysts say the motion-sensor technology could be used for the long-rumored Apple TV set.

And at number 10, Archaeologists uncover a Buddhist shrine in Nepal that could provide clues to the birth of the Buddha.
The remains of the shrine were found under a temple built in the third century B.C. at Lumbini, said to be the Buddha’s birthplace.
CNN reports there is evidence to suggest a tree grew at the center of the structure, supporting the traditional story that the Buddha’s mother held onto a tree branch while giving birth.

Have you ever felt boxed in “because you’re a woman?”
Female trailblazers from different fields discuss the results of a survey on women at #WHIPIT, a forum on gender bias hosted by Rappler and Pantene.  The survey was done in the National Capital Region or NCR, with the assumption that more progressive views and ways of life happen in urban areas – in our capital and surrounding areas.
The survey shows a more liberated view of women that’s not quite reflected in reality – revealing certain biases that still exist today.
Some key highlights from the survey:
54% of women believe women who work tend to be pushy.
65%  believe it’s more important for men to finish a university education.
71% of men and women believe when jobs are scarce, men deserve employment more than women.
70% of men think women need to downplay their personality to be accepted.
And, there’s an almost 50/50 split when it comes to choosing family over career.
Join the continuing discussion on Rappler on what else can be done to empower Filipino women. Tweet with #WHIPIT.


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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