Today on Rappler.
- Despite disasters, a survey shows 94% of Filipinos enter the new year with hope.
- Documents show Pacquiao’s financial adviser had conflicts of interest.
- North Korea purges the associates of the executed uncle of Kim Jong Un.
Story 1: 94% OF FILIPINOS WELCOME 2014 WITH HOPE
A Social Weather Stations survey shows 94% of Filipinos welcome the new year with hope.
This is despite a turbulent year for the Philippines, which saw massive destruction from the strongest typhoon on record and the biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
The finding is a slight increase from 92% recorded in 2013.
SWS says New Year hope is “widespread in all areas,” with Luzon being the most hopeful at 97%, followed by the Visayas at 93% and Mindanao at 92%.
Based on previous data, Filipinos are more “hopeful” than “fearful” at the end of every year.
Since SWS first conducted the survey in 2000, Filipinos’ New Year hope has not gone below 80%, with the lowest level ever recorded at 81% in 2004, the year of a turbulent presidential election.
Story 2: AQUINO’S NEW YEAR MESSAGE: LET’S STAY UNITED
With two and a half years left in his term, President Benigno Aquino asks Filipinos to remain united in 2014.
In his New Year’s message, Aquino praises the government’s accomplishments in 2013, and says reforms will continue if Filipinos work together.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Kayo ang aming mga Boss ang nagkukumpas ng direksyong ating tatahakin. Magpatuloy lang po tayo sa pagkakapit-bisig, mula sa kabataang umaasang makaambag at dumamay sa paghubog ng mas magandang lipunan hanggang sa mga nakakatanda na may obligasyong magpamana ng maunlad na kinabukasan sa susunod na henerasyon. Ang pakikiambag ng bawat isa ang susi sa pag-abot natin sa ating mga mithiin. (You, our boss, determine the direction we will take. Let us just continue to help each other, from the youth who hope to participate and shape a better society, to the elders who have an obligation to leave a bright future for the next generation. The cooperation of each one is the key to reaching our goals.)
Aquino also alludes to the consecutive calamities that hit the country in 2013.
He says people’s resilience and bayanihan spirit will overcome any disaster in 2014.
The president also recounts what he considers his administration’s successes in the past year.
These include increased global confidence in the anti-corruption campaign, as seen in the Philippines’ rise in the Transparency International Corruption Index; cases filed against lawmakers who abused their pork barrel; the highest GDP growth in Southeast Asia and new investment grade statuses; synchronization of the ARMM elections with the national polls; and a signed annex on power sharing of Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
Story 3: AT LEAST 244 HURT DUE TO FIREWORKS
The Department of Health or DOH records 244 cases of firework-related injuries as of Monday.
Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag says the banned firecracker piccolo caused about 64% of the incidents.
The number is higher than the 188 cases recorded in the same period last year.
Local government units and hospitals brace for more incidents as the New Year celebrations draw near.
Malacanang urges Filipinos to follow warnings against using deadly firecrackers.
The government also encourages citizens to organize community fireworks displays instead.
Story 4: GOV’T WANTS FILIPINOS TO SYNCHRONIZE CLOCKS FOR NEW YEAR
The Philippine government has a New Year’s resolution for Filipinos: be on time.
Filipinos are urged to synchronize their watches with the official Philippine Standard Time come New Year.
Republic Act 10535 requires government offices and broadcasting companies to display Philippine Standard Time.
It will continue to follow the current time zone of GMT +8 hours.
The law aims to prevent Filipinos from being late.
Story 5: AQUINO LEADS RIZAL DAY RITES IN TARLAC
President Aquino leads the commemoration of the 117th death anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal Monday.
Instead of attending the rites at Rizal Park in Manila, Aquino attends the flag-raising ceremonies in his hometown Tarlac City.
Monday also marks the centennial of the Rizal National Monument in Luneta.
Vice President Jejomar Binay leads the rites at Rizal Park.
The ceremony is held simultaneously with other Rizal Day commemorations in other cities.
On December 30, 1896, Rizal was executed for writing books attacking Spanish colonial rule.
His nationalistic works helped fire up the Philippine revolution against the colonizers.
Story 6: PACQUIAO’S MONEY MAN
Last Friday, Rappler reported Manny Pacquiao’s financial adviser Michael Koncz misstated the boxer’s revenue and expense in his tax returns.
For the second part of that report, documents show Koncz also had conflicts of interest in dealing with Pacquiao and Bob Arum’s company Top Rank.
Once called Manny Pacquiao’s rice “fluffer” and a drifter who used to hang around coach Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym, Koncz allegedly introduced himself as a lawyer, but was only a paralegal.
Koncz played a role in delivering Pacquiao to Top Rank in the aftermath of a disastrous relationship with a previous promoter.
Accounting group Vision Qwest or VQ, which handled Pacquiao’s books for a time in 2011, raised 4 issues against Koncz and his company ADK.
In a letter to Pacquiao in June 2011, VisionQwest president and CEO Michael Lodge warned the boxer about Koncz.
Lodge says ADK was suspended as a legal California company, after failing to file informational and business tax returns.
It continued to handle Pacquiao’s money even when it had no legal status to do so.
The accounting firm says around $1.3M dollars or over P56 million have been transferred to ADK, but it –quote– “has not shown a full accounting” of the funds.
As business advisor to Pacquiao, Koncz negotiates contracts with Top Rank.
Lodge points out Koncz’s conflict of interest, saying he collected “agent fees” from Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promoter.
Lodge asks, “It could appear that he is serving not only Manny Pacquiao but also Top Rank…The question that should be asked: is Manny getting the best contract for a fight?”
On Friday, Koncz declined to comment on the VQ documents leaked to reporters.
VQ also noted discrepancies between the HBO figures on Pacquiao’s earnings and the numbers from Bob Arum’s Top Rank, with some discrepancies reaching $250,000.
VQ’s services were terminated in September 2011, just months after Lodge raised the alarm.
Latest reports indicate he has $18.3 million in unpaid taxes in the US covering 2006 to 2010.
In March 2012, the Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue in Region 12 sued Pacquiao.
It said Pacquiao owed the government P143 million in taxes for 2009.
Pacquiao cried harassment.
The BIR ordered Pacquiao’s bank deposits frozen for a total of P2.2-billion in alleged tax liability.
The boxing champ employed the services of law firm Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc and de los Angeles.
In the meantime, the Court of Tax Appeals issued a gag order on both Pacquiao and his lawyers and BIR chief Kim Henares.
Story 7: N. KOREA PURGES JANG’S ASSOCIATES: SEOUL MINISTER
A South Korean minister says North Korea is purging officials close to Jang Song-Thaek, the once-powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-Un who was executed this month on charges of treason and corruption.
Analysts say the North Korean leader resented Jang’s power and influence.
Earlier this month, South Korea’s spy chief said two of Jang’s associates were executed, while North Korea reportedly recalled some diplomats believed to have been close to Jang, including the deputy ambassador to UNESCO.
South Korea’s unification minister says the purge appears to target a small circle of officials.
Story 8: POWERFUL CYCLONE BEARS DOWN ON WESTERN AUSTRALIA
A powerful cyclone packing winds of more than 200 kilometers an hour threatens Australia’s west coast, forcing towns into lockdown and shutting iron ore operations.
Cyclone Christine is set to hit land between Karratha and Port Hedland at about midnight Monday, triggering a red alert for Port Hedland and South Hedland on the Pilbara coast.
Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, a fire sweeps through an Indian train carriage packed with sleeping passengers Saturday, killing at least 26 people.
The train was traveling from the southern city of Bangalore to the city of Nanded.
Indian families face an agonizing wait for the bodies of their loved ones Sunday, with some 20 bodies already recovered and identified.
At number 8, Under pressure from the Catholic Church, the Spanish government agrees to tighten its abortion law.
Thousands of Catholics gather in the Plaza de Colon square to celebrate an open-air Roman Catholic mass for the Holy Family.
Many want the government to implement an outright abortion ban without exceptions.
On December 20, the government says it would roll back a 2010 law that allowed women to choose to abort in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
And at number 10, German driver Michael Schumacher goes through brain surgery and is in “critical” condition after a ski accident in the French Alps Sunday.
Schumacher was skiing on unmarked slopes with his 14-year-old son in the Meribel resort when he fell and hit his head on a rock.
Doctors say the retired seven-time Formula One champion suffers “a serious brain trauma with coma,” requiring an immediate neurosurgical operation.
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|
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