Today on Rappler.
ABAD: SC RULING MAY UNDO ECONOMIC PROGRESS
The Philippines' economic managers face the Senate Thursday to defend the administration's controversial spending program.
The cabinet members are Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
The government justifies the Disbursement Acceleration Program as a way to boost economic growth.
But critics point out it violates the Constitution and undermines Congress' power of the purse.
Facing questions from senators, Abad echoes President Benigno Aquino’s defense of the economic benefits and legality of DAP.
He says the High Court's decision declaring 2 features unconstitutional, could reverse economic growth in one of Asia’s best performing economies.
BUTCH ABAD, BUDGET SECRETARY: While I bow to the Supreme Court’s wisdom, with all due respect, its decision on these issues may undo the progress we’ve achieved so far. The Philippines did not become one of Asia's best economies, a pioneer in transparency and accountability by playing it safe. We did it by bold and single-minded pursuit of innovation under the leadership of President Aquino. If one tests boundaries of system to find best solution for a challenge that couldn’t be resolved, shouldn't law respond innovatively and legitimize this measure?
The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the creation of savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and the withdrawal of these funds for implementing agencies.
But Abad says this means savings can only be declared at the end of the fiscal year.
He adds, the “sluggish movement” of fund releases will compromise government’s “spending performance.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon and other Aquino allies at the Senate help Abad defend the DAP.
Drilon, who got P100 million or $2.3 million in DAP fund releases in 2012 asks Abad to confirm that lawmakers did not receive actual funds. Abad answered in the affirmative.
Drilon also helps Abad explain that the stimulus measure was done by past administrations and has legal basis in the Administrative Code despite the Supreme Court ruling.
Senator Sonny Trillanes also points out the Court did not declare DAP as a whole unconstitutional.
He also says the controversy was just a miscommunication.
Following the controversy over DAP, the Senate wants to clarify the definition of “savings” in the national budget.
Drilon says the “varying interpretations” on the meaning of savings spell the difference in opinion between the executive and the Supreme Court.
NANCY BINAY GRILLS ABAD: DAP HIJACKS FISCAL INDEPENDENCE
Unlike administration senators, opposition Senator Nancy Binay grills Abad on why the Aquino government resorted to the controversial spending program.
She wonders why the executive did not simply ask Congress to fund its priority projects.
NANCY BINAY, SENATOR: Ang nakakatakot, Secretary Abad, kasi nagiging discretion ninyo kung bibigyan ng pondo o hindi.
(What is scary, Secretary Abad, is that it becomes your discretion to give funds or not.)
Binay zeroes in on the fund transfers the executive branch made to the Commission on Audit or COA and the Commission on Elections or Comelec, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.
She says the “The fiscal independence of constitutional bodies is hijacked by DAP” adding that Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes had to plead for the funds.
NANCY BINAY, SENATOR: Parang ganoon yung nangyayari eh. Diba ho, kaya nga may provision doon sa constitution natin na kailangan ng fiscal autonomy ang mga constitutional bodies para ho magkaroon ng independence… eh di ang lumalabas po ngayon ang laki ng utang na loob sa inyo ng COA kasi nadagdagan ng pondo ang kanilang ahensya.
(Isn’t there a provision in our constitution saying constitutional bodies need fiscal autonomy for them to remain independent? It’s turning out that the Commission on Audit owes you so much because their agency got additional funds.)
BUTCH ABAD, BUDGET SECRETARY: Sino naman ang sisisihin nang taongbayan? Malamang hindi comelec, malamang ang executive. Kasi sasabihin ng taong bayan, may pera kayo bakit di ‘niyo tinulungan.
(Public will blame executive, not Comelec, that we have money but we didn't help Comelec)
Binay says “there is no foresight when it comes to planning and budgeting.”
She also questions the move of the Department of Transportation and Communication or DOTC to "withdraw" projects after Congress approved funding.
This includes the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, seaports and lighthouses.
NANCY BINAY, SENATOR: Di ko alam kung nakakaikot kayo sa mga airport natin. Nakakahiya ang mga restrooms natin. And nawithdraw po itong project na ito para po sa DAP.
(I don’t know if you’ve been around our airport. Our restrooms are embarrassing. And this project got withdrawn just for the DAP.)
PNP ON ‘HEIGHTENED ALERT’ FOR BIG LATE-JULY EVENTS
Three key national events toward the end of July will keep the police force busy.
The Philippine National Police says all its units will be placed under “heightened alert status” in the run-up to 3 major events: the Iglesia Ni Cristo or INC Centennial Celebration on Sunday,
President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address or SONA on Monday, and Eid al-Fitr or the end of Ramadan on Tuesday.
Over 3,200 police personnel will be deployed in Bocaue, Bulacan, the center of the INC’s centennial, and at least 10,000 are part of “Super Task Force Kapayapaan” for the SONA.
FIRST MH17 BODIES ARRIVE IN GRIEVING NETHERLANDS
The first bodies from flight MH17 arrive in the Netherlands Wednesday, nearly a week after it was shot down over Ukraine.
Church bells ring throughout the country as Dutch military carry 40 wooden coffins from two planes.
A large crowd at Eindhoven airport watch the somber ceremony as the coffins are placed in hearses.
More bodies are due to arrive, but officials say it could take months for the remains of the 298 victims to be identified.
This comes as conflict flares again near the crash site.
Kiev says missiles fired from Russia took down two of its warplanes in the rebel-controlled area.
US intelligence officials alleged that pro-Russian separatist rebels mistakenly shot down commercial plane MH17 with surface-to-air missile.
Under international pressure, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to "do everything" to influence the separatists and ensure a full probe.
AIR ALGERIE LOSES CONTACT WITH PLANE OVER AFRICA
Reuters reports a passenger aircraft of Air Algerie en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed.
The airline lost contact with one of its passenger aircraft nearly an hour after takeoff from Burkina Faso Thursday.
BBC reports the pilot reportedly contacted air traffic control in Niger’s capital to change course because of a storm.
In a statement Air Algerie says, "Air navigation services have lost contact with an Air Algerie plane Thursday flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers, 50 minutes after takeoff.”
Flight AH 5017 had 110 passengers and 6 crew members on board.
The airline says 50 French citizens are onboard.
48 KILLED, 10 SURVIVORS IN TAIWAN PLANE CRASH – AIRLINE
Barely a week after the tragedy of Malaysia Airline flight 17, a Taiwanese airline crashed Wednesday, killing 48 people.
TransAsia Airways flight GE222 smashed into two houses after an aborted landing near Magong airport.
Television images showed firefighters working at the site of the mangled wreckage and soldiers on the scene.
The plane was flying from the southwestern city of Kaohsiung and had been delayed by bad weather caused to Typhoon Matmo.
US LIFTS ISRAEL FLIGHT BAN AS KERRY CITES TRUCE 'PROGRESS'
US airlines lift flight bans to Israel Thursday, just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up talks aiming to ink a ceasefire to end days of bloodshed in Gaza.
The US Federal Aviation Administration or FAA imposed a ban on commercial flights Tuesday after a rocket hit a house close to a runway in Tel Aviv.
European airlines have not indicated if they would also lift flight bans to Israel.
But the FAA warns, the situation is still "very fluid" as fighting rages on in Gaza.
On the ground, 21 people were killed as Israel continues to strike Gaza.
Among the victims was a family of six, including a five-year-old girl and boy of three.
The death toll soars to 718, with a Gaza-based rights group saying more than 80% of the victims were civilians.
ASTRONAUT CAPTURES GAZA WAR FROM SPACE
Photos taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station or ISS of war-torn Gaza show a warzone seen from space.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst on Wednesday posts photos of Gaza on Facebook and Twitter.
The photographs look like nighttime photos taken of populated areas seen from space but Gerst say some bursts of light in the photos are actually explosions.
In his caption, Gerst says "My saddest photo yet."
Gerst has been posting photos of places on Earth as seen from the space station, but most of them are of tourist spots and natural phenomena.
JOKOWI CROWDSOURCES HIS CABINET
In another first for Indonesia –
President-elect Joko Widodo or Jokowi crowdsources his cabinet.
The Jokowi Center Facebook page on Thursday uploads a Google form with a list of 3 candidates for each of the 34 ministerial seats.
Under each ministry, a box is provided for people to suggest more names.
This is in line with Jokowi’s style, who advocates the use of the internet for transparency and accountability in governance.
A blogger tweets, Jokowi is "crowdsourcing" his government.
Jokowi says, "It's just asking for inputs. There's no problem with it, right?"
OBAMA CONGRATULATES JOKOWI: WHAT’S NEXT?
At number 5, US President Barack Obama calls Indonesian president-elect Jokowi to congratulate him on his victory in a "free and fair" presidential elections.
Obama tells Jokowi he looks forward to meeting "at the earliest opportunity."
Jokowi won the elections by more than 6%.
WARNING: TRAFFIC ON NLEX FOR INC CELEBRATION
A warning to motorists, at least 12,000 vehicles are expected to take the SMART-connect interchange and NLEX on Sunday to go to the Iglesia ni Cristo Arena in Bulacan.
INC members are expected to arrive a day before the INC centennial.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority advises commuters to plan ahead for this weekend's massive traffic.
Should the NLEX experience gridlock, a “zipper lane” will be opened up so northbound vehicles could counter-flow on the opposite lane.
IN PARIS HOTELS, PAY WHAT YOU WANT
five Paris hotels launch a scheme allowing guests to "pay what they want."
The owners are thrilled about the prospects and are confident that clients will not abuse the scheme.
The promo is available only to clients who book through the website.
France attracts more tourists than any other country in the world.
Newscast Production Staff