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Today on Rappler.
- A bus falls off an elevated highway and lands on a van, killing at least 18 people.
- Rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson says local officials are stealing funds meant for typhoon survivors.
- Brandon Rios tests positive for a banned stimulant after his fight with Pacquiao.
Story 1: BUS PLUNGES OFF SKYWAY, LANDS ON VAN
At least 18 people are killed after a bus falls off the Metro Manila Skyway early Monday and lands on top of a van plying the West Service Road of the South Luzon Expressway below.
The Don Mariano Transit bus was plying the Novaliches-Pacita Complex route when it fell off the elevated highway past 5 am.
The police’s Highway Patrol Group says at least 16 people are injured.
Citing a survivor’s account, police say overspeeding caused the accident.
The driver is said to have lost control of the bus, causing it to hit the railings and fall off the highway.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board suspends the bus company’s 78 units from operating, pending an investigation.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda says the transportation department will investigate the accident, and review the performance of the bus company.
In July 2012, a Don Mariano bus also figured in an accident at the EDSA-Ortigas flyover.
Six people were hurt in the incident.
Story 2: REHAB CZAR: NO LEGAL WEIGHT, CAN’T HANDLE BUDGET
Less than a week after assuming office, rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson begins work on typhoon-hit areas.
He says his new title has no legal weight, but the former police chief is already going after alleged corrupt local officials.
Paterno Esmaquel reports.
The man with the toughest job after Super Typhoon Yolanda says he’s not as powerful as the title sounds.
Rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson says his appointment has no legal weight.
He also has no power over the budget.
Lacson says the President appointed him through a memorandum order, not an executive order.
An executive order has legal weight, which means one can file a case against anyone who defies it.
Unlike an executive order, he says a memorandum order is purely administrative.
But the former senator says this doesn’t mean his hands are tied.
PING LACSON, REHABILITATION CZAR: Alam mo, senador ako for 12 years, ano, wala naman akong hawak na pondo ng line agencies doon. Wala rin namang legal weight ‘yung aking pagiging senador except yung oversight function ng Congress. But nakakapag-file naman kami ng kaso ‘pag may mga shenanigans. ‘Pag may mga anomalies, we see to it that we guard against those, ang sabi ko nga kanina, mga kleptomaniacs of the world. (You know, I was a senator for 12 years. I didn’t handle funds of line agencies back then. My being a senator, too, didn’t have legal weight, except for the oversight function of Congress. But we managed to file cases in case of shenanigans. When there are anomalies, we see to it that we guard against those kleptomaniacs.)
A former police chief, Lacson says the crackdown begins.
Days after visiting typhoon-hit Eastern Visayas, he tags a local official allegedly out to steal rehabilitation funds.
Lacson says he requested the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to look into this.
He refuses to name the official, but appeals to people like him.
PING LACSON, REHABILITATION CZAR: ‘Yun lang ang mensahe, na patawarin n’yo na muna ito. Kung talagang hindi n’yo kayang makatiis na hindi magnakaw, at least ito man lang tinamaan ng Yolanda, eh ano na lang, patawad na lang, kasi misery ng ibang tao itong pinagpipiyestahan ninyo. (That’s the message – please spare this. If you really can’t help but steal, at least spare those affected by Yolanda. Spare them, because you’ll be feasting on the misery of others.)
For experts, the czar’s power is not enough.
Ateneo School of Government dean Tony La Viña calls for a standalone disaster agency with power over the budget.
Lacson says more powers will certainly help.
PING LACSON, REHABILITATION CZAR: Definitely, kasi ang natutunan ko sa military…kailangan commensurate ‘yung authority doon sa responsibility. Kasi kung hindi commensurate ‘yung authority, kulang, tapos ‘yung responsibility masyadong malaki, baka kulangin kami ng pagkukunan. (Definitely, because I learned in the military that the authority should be commensurate to the responsibility. If the authority is lacking, and the responsibility is too huge, we might end up lacking resources.)
But for now, the rehabilitation czar is out to prove he can wield a big stick, despite the handicaps.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila
Story 3: MARKET ABUSE? DOJ SETS PROBE AMID MERALCO PRICE HIKE
The Department of Justice or DOJ will investigate possible violations by power firms that may have led to the P4.15 per kwh price hike of the Manila Electric Company or Meralco.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the DOJ Office for Competition will file a report on the probe by January 2014.
This comes on the same day activists and lawmakers file a letter asking the DOJ to investigate the price hike.
The rate increase is the highest ever to be imposed by the power company – a move resulting from the shutdown of the Malampaya gas field.
The increase raises fears of a possible collusion among power producers whose plants have simultaneously shut down for maintenance.
In the letter addressed to De Lima, petitioners say the shutdown may have caused the price hike to be 3 times higher than expected.
The energy department also promises to investigate Meralco’s formula for the price increase and the simultaneous outages in different power plants.
Story 4: KERRY ARRIVES DEC 17, TO VISIT TACLOBAN
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the Philippines will finally push through on Tuesday.
Kerry’s two-day trip includes a visit to Tacloban City, which was badly devastated after Typhoon Yolanda — known internationally as Haiyan — cut through the Visayas and killed more than 6,000 people.
Kerry will also discuss regional issues and humanitarian assistance for typhoon survivors.
He cancelled a planned visit to the Philippines in October because of a tropical storm.
Story 5: NELSON MANDELA LAID TO REST
Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is laid to rest Sunday, after a state funeral filled with tearful eulogies and vows to pursue his ideals of equality and justice.
Mandela’s casket was buried at the family plot in his rural boyhood home of Qunu.
His family and around 450 selected guests attended the interment.
A 21-gun salute and full military honor guard escort Mandela’s coffin to the marquee, where 4,500 mourners said their final goodbyes to the man who led South Africa out of the apartheid era.
Mandela’s flag-draped casket was placed on cow skins, surrounded by 95 candles – each signifying a year of his extraordinary life.
Story 6: CHINA’S MOON ROVER SENDS FIRST PHOTOS
China’s Jade Rabbit rover vehicle sends back photos from the moon Sunday, after the first lunar soft landing in nearly four decades — a huge advance in the country’s ambitious space program.
State news agency Xinhua reports the Jade Rabbit was deployed several hours after the Chang’e-3 probe landed on the moon.
The rover and lander began taking photos of each other late Sunday, including one that shows the Chinese flag on the Jade Rabbit as it stands on the moon’s surface.
The images were transmitted live to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang watched the broadcast.
Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 6, Socialist Michelle Bachelet wins Chile’s presidential elections on a platform of narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor.
The 62-year-old takes office March 11 to succeed conservative billionaire President Sebastian Piñera for a term running through 2018.
In 2006, Bachelet served as Chile’s first woman president, but she left a lot undone, like dismantling more of the political and social legacy of the Pinochet era.
At number 8, a fourth fatal World Cup stadium accident rocks Brazil, after a young construction worker fell to his death while working on the roof of the $200 million Manaus Arena.
Brazilian media reports, the 22-year-old fell after a cable broke as he prepared to finish a night shift.
The venue is 93% complete and has around 1,900 people working around the clock to finish its construction.
The incident increases safety concerns as Brazil prepares for the football event.
And at number 10, Studio giant Sony reveals an expansion of its “SpiderMan” franchise to include spinoffs and sequels.
The move aims to rival Disney’s Marvel film world centered on “The Avengers.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment names a team of five writers who will work to quote – “expand the universe for the brand.”
Sony also announces two spinoff films, “Venom” and “The Sinister Six,” focusing on villains in the franchise.
Story 8: BRANDON RIOS FAILS VADA DRUG TEST
American boxer Brandon Rios fails his post-fight drug test following his loss to Manny Pacquiao last November.
ESPN.com reports Rios tested positive for a banned stimulant called methylhexaneamine.
It is said to be used as a dietary supplement and a performance-enhancing drug.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says Rios has already been suspended by the Macau Commission, which was set up by the WBO to oversee the fight.
Arum also says the banned stimulant was not a “steroid-related substance” but something taken for weight loss.
He also blames Rios’ strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza.
Arum adds, “It is not the fighter’s fault. It’s the people who are conditioning him. He is following orders on what to eat and drink, so I don’t blame him.”
Pacquiao also went through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association program and successfully completed it.
Rios lost to Pacquiao via unanimous decision.
Story 9: SEAG: SINAG PILIPINAS CLINCHES GOLD
Sinag Pilipinas, the men’s basketball team competing in the 2013 Southeast Asian games, clinches gold after winning all of its 6 games.
The team, composed of local basketball standouts like Ray Parks Jr, Kiefer Ravena, and Kevin Alas caps off its dominant run with an 84-56 win over Malaysia, Sunday.
Sinag’s average winning margin is 38 points.
But overall, the Philippines sits 7th in the 11-country meet, with 12 golds, 17 silvers, and 23 bronze medals.
Thailand is on top with 57 golds, 44 silvers, and 46 bronze medals.
Newscast Production Staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|