Today on Rappler.
Story 1: JINGGOY HITS PDAF SCAM WITNESSES
Senator Jinggoy Estrada responds to witness accounts of his involvement in the pork barrel scam in a privilege speech Wednesday.
He questions the credibility of provisional state witnesses Dennis Cunanan and Ruby Tuason, and says their testimonies are all lies.
Estrada questions the ownership of a house worth P40 million allegedly belonging to Cunanan’s brother.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Hindi ba nakapagtataka na hindi niya binabanggit ang kanyang mala-palasyong tahanan sa White Plains…Napakabait naman nitong kapatid ni Dennis, bumili ng mamahaling bahay at lupa sa isang prestihiyosong subdivision para lamang tumira ay si Dennis… samantala kapatid nya sa Pampanga. Aba’y napakaswerte ni Dennis na kapatid! Sana meron din akong kapatid na singbait ng kapatid ni Dennis…Ano kaya ginawa niya sa cash advance? Dinagdag sa pambili ng bahay sa White Plains? (Isn’t it strange that he didn’t mention his mansion-like house in White Plains? Dennis’ brother is so good to him. He bought an expensive house and land in a prestigious subdivision just so Dennis could live in it, while he lives in Pampanga. Dennis is such a lucky brother! I wish I had a brother as good as Dennis’ brother…What did he do with the cash advance? Did he use it to buy a house in White Plains?)
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Ginagawa pong Quiapo ni Cunanan at ng kanyang asawa pati kanyang anak ang America.. Europa, at mga bansa sa Asia...Nagbiyahe po siya ng humigit-kumulang 80 times sa loob ng 10 taon! Kahit sinong senador sa atin ay di makakapagbiyahe nga ng walumpung beses sa sampung taon. Di nya ata sinusuportahan ang programang pang-turismo ng gobyerno. Madalas siyang nasa labas ng Pilipinas. Isipin mo nga naman para kay Dennis, it’s more fun outside the Philippines! (America, Europe, and Asia is just like going to Quiapo for his family…He traveled 80 times in the span of 10 years! Any senator wouldn’t be able to do that…He doesn’t support local tourism. He’s always out of the country. For Dennis, it’s more fun outside the Philippines.)
The senator also hits Cunanan for saying he "reformed" the Technology Resource Center when the agency still got pork barrel under his leadership.
In a Senate testimony, Cunanan claimed he stopped the release of funds from his agency after discovering questionable NGOs obtained pork barrel through the TRC.
But Estrada cites an audit report to debunk Cunanan’s claim.
The senator says the TRC got pork barrel funds from 2010 to 2012.
Cunanan became director-general of the TRC in 2010.
The senator then turns to Tuason whose testimony provides the direct link to Estrada and Sen Juan Ponce Enrile.
He questions the Justice Department’s decision allowing Tuason to travel abroad, adding she has enough properties in the Philippines to liquidate the P40 million she received as kickback.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Hindi naman kailangan pumunta ni Mrs. Tuason sa abroad…Marami pa ba siyang ari-arian sa America na nais ibenta o marami pa syang ari-arian na gusto niyang itago sa pangalan ng kanyang mga anak? Meron syang isang bahay sa Henderson, Nevada, bahay sa Kawayan Cove sa Cavite, townhouse sa Alabang, at townhouse sa Valle Verde. #1510 Carissa St, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City - na mas kilala sa tawag na Malampaya Mansion - would be more than enough to finance the measly P40 M na sinabi niyang kanyang ibabalik. (She doesn’t need to leave the country. Does she have properties she wants to hide? She has one house in Henderson, Nevada, a house in Kawayan Cove in Cavite, a townhouse in Alabang, a townhouse in Valle Verde. #1510 Carissa St. Dasmariñas Village Makati City which is more popularly known as the ‘Malampaya Mansion’ would be more than enough to finance the measly P40 million she promised to return.)
Estrada raises his qualms on the special treatment accorded Cunanan and Tuason.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Are these the kinds of witnesses that the DOJ is now staunchly vouching and spending for under its witness protection program? People who can’t even be honest about their real educational background? People who would not hesitate to drag the name of a dead brother just to conceal their own guilt? Has the DOJ deliberately omitted these facts and information from the Blue Ribbon just to support and build their case? Is this the handy work of an undersecretary of the DOJ who, I am informed by unimpeachable sources, has repeatedly instructed the witnesses to focus only on this representation and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla Jr?
Story 2: ESTRADA VS CAYETANO: POLITICKING FOR 2016?
Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Alan Peter Cayetano trade barbs, with Estrada accusing those implicating him in the pork barrel scam of politicking for 2016.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Tinira ako nang tinira nang walang humpay Mr President, kaya po ako nagsalita noon caucus dahil may mga ibang senador na gustong gamitin ang Blue Ribbon committee hearing to further their own political interests. (I was attacked relentlessly Mr President, that is why I spoke during the caucus because there were some senators who wanted to use the Blue Ribbon committee hearing to further their own political interests.) Nag-grandstanding eh. Halos lahat kung napapansin ninyo walang inaatupag kundi parang gusto icoach resource persons, banggitin Estrada, Revilla, Enrile…Di na in aid of legislation ito eh, in aid of 2016 na ito. (They were grandstanding. If you notice, almost all of them did nothing but coach the resource persons, mention Estrada, Revilla, Enrile…This is no longer in aid of legislation, it’s in aid of 2016.)
Estrada again hits what he calls the “trial by publicity’ against him and the other senators accused in the scam.
He also defends his decision to speak out on the allegations against him.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: 'Pag ikaw naman nagpapainterview at binabanatan mo kapwa senador. Natural lang bilang isang colleague, bilang isang naakusahan o bilang isang pinatutukuyan sa iyong mga interview sa media, natural lang na sasagot ako, kailangan kong depensahan sarili ko. Ano ako, mananahimik na lang? Uupo na lang at magdadasal? Hindi naman ako ganoon. (When you are interviewed and you criticize a fellow senator, it’s natural as a colleague, as the one accused, as the one being referred to in your media interviews, it’s natural for me to answer. I need to defend myself. Do you think I will just stay quiet? Just sit and pray? I’m not like that.) If you want to choose your battle, I will give you your battle!
But Cayetano rebuts Estrada’s statement, saying there seems to be a double standard when Senators are involved.
ALAN PETER CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Kung merong publicity na nangyayari because of the cases filed, because of the COA report, that is not trial by publicity. Why does the Vice President and Sen Estrada keep saying that there's trial by publicity? (If there is publicity generated because of the cases filed, because of the COA report, that is not trial by publicity.) Nung lumabas yung COA report na bilyon bilyong piso ang nawawala, hindi ba dapat sagutin natin? (When the COA report came out that billions of pesos are missing, shouldn’t we respond to that?) So may I know from the gentleman from San Juan, why is accusing everyone even the media for trial by publicity when in fact he is a public figure, these funds are funds allocated to his office, do people not deserve an answer? Bakit tayo may double standard? Pag ibang tao ang hinahabol at tinitira natin, hindi natin sinasabing trial by publicity. Pero pag tayo ang akusado, imbis na sumagot tayo sa media, Mr President, imbis na buksan natin ang ating sarili, ang mangyayari i-accuse pa natin lahat ng trial by publicity. (Why do we have double standards? When we go after other people, we don’t say it’s trial by publicity. But if we are the ones accused, instead of answering the media’s questions, instead of being transparent, what happens is we cry trial by publicity.)
But Cayetano says the issue is not about the 2016 presidential polls, but about public money.
ALAN PETER CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: I don't intend to run and win in 2016 with this case, Mr President. Sa plataporma at programa…This is not about Sen Jinggoy, this is not about Alan Cayetano, this is not about 2016. This is about the people’s money. ‘Yung buong institusyon po natin, nadudurog, ang pagtingin ng tao sa gobyerno, nadudurog, dahil ang tingin nila, kung sino ang dapat nagbabantay ng pera ng bayan, ang siya pang nagbantay-salakay. (The public’s perception of the Senate is crumbling. Their perception of the government is disintegrating, because in their view, those who are supposed to protect public money are stealing it instead.)
Story 3: FEMALE PRESIDENT FOR 2016?
Sen Miriam Santiago says a woman should be elected president in 2016.
On Tuesday, Santiago says empowered female politicians can help the Philippines meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of gender equality.
But when asked if she's eyeing the presidency in 2016, Santiago says she doesn't have the money to run.
She adds, "There are excessive estimates of P15 billion to P20 billion for the 2016 elections.
I was not a member of the pork barrel scam so I don’t have this amount.”
Santiago says she'd rather endorse her female colleagues at the Senate -- Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, and Loren Legarda.
But Poe says she's not prepared for higher office.
The 2013 senatorial frontrunner and political neophyte says, "I have so much more to prove. I have only passed one bill."
Poe sponsored the Freedom of Information bill, which the Senate passed on Monday after years of lobbying from transparency advocates.
Story 4: SC: DELFIN LEE STAYS IN JAIL FOR NOW
The Supreme Court rules the arrest of housing scam suspect Delfin Lee is valid.
His lawyers earlier said Lee’s arrest and detention was illegal because of a Court of Appeals ruling quashing the arrest warrant against him.
But on Wednesday, the Supreme Court issues a temporary restraining order against the CA ruling.
Lee is accused of using ghost borrowers to obtain P6.6. billion in housing loans from the Pag-IBIG Fund.
In November 2013, the CA invalidated an arrest warrant on Lee issued by the Pampanga regional trial court in relation to the housing scam.
But the justice department opposed the CA order before the High Court.
Story 5: ANGER MOUNTS OVER MISSING PLANE MYSTERY
Five days after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysians are losing patience as authorities fail to locate the plane.
Conflicting reports over the plane’s flight path sparks anger among the relatives of the 239 people on board the flight.
In a commentary, news website Malaysian Insider says, “The whole world is watching Malaysia now because an aircraft with a wingspan of 61 meters does not fall off the sky or disappear into thin air just like that.”
A Malaysian air force official tells CNN the plane seemed to veer off its flight path en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing before it disappeared off the radar.
But Malaysian authorities say there’s no evidence the plane had flown back.
Vietnam says it’s scaling back its search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 until Malaysia comes up with new information on where to search.
Vietnam’s deputy transport minister Pham Quy Tieu says, “We've decided to temporarily suspend some search and rescue activities, pending information from Malaysia.”
Malaysia expands its search for the missing plane into the Andaman Sea, hundreds of kilometers to the northwest of the original search radius.
Story 6: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, Pro-Moscow lawmakers in Crimea vote for independence from Ukraine on Tuesday ahead of a referendum this weekend for the region to become part of Russia.
The local assembly approves a declaration of independence with 78 affirmative votes out of 81 lawmakers.
The parliament’s move, which the new government in Kiev declared illegal, may create a legal framework for joining Russia as a sovereign state.
At number 7, US President Barack Obama tries a new strategy in a struggle to sell his signature health care program: self parody.
Obama appears on the spoof online comedy show "Between Two Ferns," where host Zach Galifianakis grills celebrities with embarrassing questions.
Galifianakis asks Obama about being a black president, his Kenyan roots, and sending --quote-- “ambassador” Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
The president says the exercise is an attempt to reach a youthful audience.
The health care law depends on young Americans to subsidize care for the sick and elderly.
The administration is in full sales mode on the Obamacare, ahead of a sign-up deadline on March 31.
And at number 10, Ugandan gay rights activists and politicians challenge a tough new anti-gay law in court.
The new law sparked international outrage and prompted cuts in foreign aid.
Last month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill which outlaws promotion of homosexuality and imposes a life jail term for --quote-- "repeat homosexuals.”
The bill’s passage was a popular move in conservative Uganda, but petitioners say the law violates the right to privacy and dignity.
Story 7: AWARD-WINNING 'AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY' ON STAGE
Many know August: Osage County as a Hollywood film.
But critics say its better seen on stage than on screen.
The Filipino cast from Repertory Philippines add this play delivers all the angst of a telenovela but none of the guilt.
G Tongi reports.
Meet the Westons : A dramatically dysfunctional family…Repertory Philippines’ latest theatrical presentation is the Pulitzer Prize winning drama by Tracy Letts called August: Osage County.
Set in rural America in the middle of a hot August, the film adaptation released last year starred Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both Oscar nominated performances.
Chris Millado directs for Repertory Philippines.
He says August: Osage County is very Pinoy in its melodrama.
He says the comparison to the film adaptation can’t be helped.
CHRIS MILLADO, DIRECTOR: One thing that we should remember about the experience of watching theater is it’s liveness! There is nothing that could replace that kind of relationship with audiences. You’ll have the closest thing to a slice of life.
Theater Veteran Baby Barredo plays the matriarch of the Westons, Violet.
After a fourteen year hiatus in a lead role, she’s back.
She says Violet is perhaps the hardest role of her career because it's a straight play.
BABY BARREDO, STAGE ACTRESS: In a musical you cannot really delve down because you break into song. But here, you really delve, you have to go deep in yourself and look for that character and make that character come out.
Actress Pinky Amador returns to Repertory after seven years, where she first started acting for the theater company 31 years ago.
Amador says Filipinos will be able to relate to the discourse and dysfunction of the Westons.
PINKY AMADOR, STAGE ACTRESS: I think August: Osage County is dubbed the “teleserye from hell” because it represents every symptomatic problem a person or a character or a situation that we see in telenovelas today, it’s in this play!
Angeli Bayani, film actress for the Camera d’Or Award winning film “Ilo Ilo” says she jumped at the opportunity to work with Repertory.
ANGELI BAYANI, JOHNNA MONEVATA IN AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY: I’m actually from theater, I’m from Tanghalang Pilipino. It's been a while since I’ve been back onstage and yeah I’ve been doing more film for some reason and when I got the call to do this I jumped at it, really because I have been dying to get back on stage to do a straight play and to be part of this play, and this company on this stage, Oh my God, it’s really a dream come true! I’m not exaggerating!
A stellar cast makes up the ensemble of August: Osage County.
It's a metaphor for the decay of American society.
G Töngi, Rappler Manila
Catch August: Osage County before it closes this weekend on March 16.
Newscast Production Staff