Today on Rappler.
Story 1: QUAKE TOLL NOW 144; 2.8M PEOPLE AFFECTED
Two towns in Bohol remain isolated Wednesday after a magnitude 7.2 quake strikes Central Visayas, pushing the death toll to 144.
More than 2.8 million people are affected.
The earthquake damaged buildings and centuries-old churches and triggered landslides that engulfed entire homes.
Bridges and roads destroyed by the quake make rescue and relief efforts difficult.
In Bohol, the towns of Loon and Maribojoc are totally isolated, with relief goods arriving by boat.
Loon sits 20 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake.
Shocked survivors use their bare hands to scour through the rubble of their homes, looking for their relatives.
Bohol and Cebu are under a state of calamity, with authorities struggling to assess the extent of the damage.
Placing a province under a state of calamity allows the government to use calamity funds and freeze the prices of basic goods.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council says 144 are confirmed dead in Central Visayas, while 291 others are injured when the quake struck the region at 8:12 am Tuesday.
Bohol posts the highest number of casualties, with 134 people killed.
Cebu reports 9 people killed, while one person died in Siquijor.
More than 2.8 million people or more than 500,000 families are affected by the quake across Central Visayas.
Aftershocks rattled the region, with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reporting 823 aftershocks.
On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino visits Bohol and Cebu to meet with local officials and assess relief efforts.
Story 2: THOUSANDS DISPLACED IN BOHOL DUE TO EARTHQUAKE
More than 5,600 families or more than 28,000 people evacuate in Bohol after a quake hit Central Visayas Tuesday.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development sets up 34 evacuation centers to serve as temporary shelters for the displaced.
The department prepares P98 million in relief assistance for the victims of the quake.
The hardest-hit Region VII gets the lion’s share with P10 million in funds.
The DSWD also re-activates its emergency hotline.
Rappler is compiling a list of donation centers for victims of the Visayas quake.
Tweet #ReliefPH or contact Rappler's civic engagement arm, Move.PH to provide information.
Story 3: TAGLE AFTER THE QUAKE: REBUILD THE CHURCH
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says it's “heartbreaking” the earthquake damaged historic churches. He says this symbolizes problems within the Catholic Church.
Paterno Esmaquel reports.
A day after an earthquake struck the Visayas, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle launches a historic conference.
It's the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization, a three-day event in Manila that aims to rekindle the Catholic faith.
In his homily, Tagle talks about the earthquake’s destruction of old churches in Cebu and Bohol.
LUIS ANTONIO CARDINAL TAGLE, MANILA ARCHBISHOP: Parang nakakadurog ng pusong makita, lalo na ang mga antigong simbahan, mga bantayog ng pananampalataya sa daan daang taon, na ngayon ay napulbos. 'Yung iba po ay hindi natin alam kung magagamit pa. (It breaks my heart to see especially the antique churches, pillars of faith for hundreds of years, that have now been reduced to ashes. We're not even sure if we can still use some of these.)
Tagle says it stands for a damaged institution.
LUIS ANTONIO CARDINAL TAGLE, MANILA ARCHBISHOP: Before the images of churches crumbling due to the earthquake, you could almost hear the message of God to St Francis: Build my Church, rebuild my Church. But how can we reconstruct the Church without love that enables us to break the shells of egoism and self interest in order to embrace God.
A campus minister from Cebu, Melvin Pedrosa says the earthquake happened before he flew for the conference. He says it was a traumatic experience.
MELVIN PEDROSA, CAMPUS MINISTER: Even last night, when we arrived here in Manila, when we rested na sa dormitories, feeling namin, lahat kami, the nine of us from Cebu, parang lumilindol pa rin. Parang hindi pa naka-get over doon sa trauma. (Even last night, when we arrived here in Manila, when we rested in our dormitories, all nine of us from Cebu felt that the earth was still shaking. We haven't gotten over the trauma.)
Like Tagle, Pedrosa says the earthquake reminds him of the task of rebuilding the Church-- spiritual and physical.
He cites the failure of some priests to appeal to young Catholics.
MELVIN PEDROSA, CAMPUS MINISTER: Meron talagang medyo hindi nakaka-relate, especially sa world of the-, because we're working in the world of young people. I want more understanding, more visible, and more inspiring Church workers and priests for the young. (There are those who fail to relate, especially to the world of the youth, because we're working in the world of young people. I want more understanding, more visible, and more inspiring Church workers and priests for the young.)
Tagle says the conference aims to discuss exactly this: ways to renew the Catholic faith in the face of secularism.
PATERNO ESMAQUEL, REPORTING: For Tagle, rebuilding the Church begins with humility. The challenge for the Church is to listen... for its wandering sheep to believe again. Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila.
Story 4: IBP: DAP A CRIMINAL ACT
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines or IBP asks the Supreme Court to temporarily stop fund releases under the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
The IBP says the Executive committed grave abuse of discretion and technical malversation when it disbursed funds without a valid appropriation.
The IBP says the DAP violates Article VI, Section 29 of the Constitution that states: "No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law."
The lawyer’s group notes the DAP does not appear in General Appropriations Act of 2011, 2012 or 2013.
The group also says Budget Secretary Florencio Abad cannot justify the legality of the DAP by saying the President is authorized to realign funds.
The IBP says there should be a law which allows the use of savings.
The savings must be used to augment items already existing in the GAA.
Story 5: DRILON: I WILL SIGN SUBPOENA FOR NAPOLES
After much delay, Senate President Frank Drilon says he will sign the subpoena for alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Drilon earlier refused to do just that, saying the Ombudsman should be allowed to finish its initial fact-finding probe into the plunder complaint filed against Napoles and 37 others, including 3 senators.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee wanted to summon Napoles to its probe on the pork barrel scam, where lawmakers allegedly channeled funds to fake non-government organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
The Senate President's signature is needed before a committee can issue a subpoena.
Instead of immediately signing it, Drilon wrote Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales twice to ask for her opinion.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair TG Guingona criticizes the decision, saying the Senate is not bound by the Ombudsman’s advice.
Drilon says his decision to defer to the Ombudsman has been --quote-- “misconstrued as an effort to hide the truth.”
He adds, “ I have never been a part of any cover-up and I will never be.”
Drilon was dragged into the pork barrel scam controversy after news reports showed him in photos with Napoles.
A whistleblower also says Napoles was Drilon’s “biggest financier.”
Story 6: JINGGOY GRILLS COA CHIEF: WHY GANG UP ON US?
Senator Jinggoy Estrada tells Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan not to blame lawmakers for the implementation of projects funded by their pork barrel.
Estrada is one of 3 senators facing a plunder complaint over the pork barrel scam.
A COA audit report was used as one of the supporting documents.
During the COA budget hearing at the Senate, Estrada says he and other lawmakers should not be held liable for the misuse of their pork barrel because it is the responsibility of implementing agencies.
Estrada tells Tan, “It’s up to the implementing agency. We endorsed an NGO. It happened to be bogus. We did not know. You should call their attention, stop the release of funds. Why blame us?"
But Tan says the agency is not blaming the lawmakers, adding, “It was the implementing agencies that said they have no hand in the implementation. They should know from you that you do not believe them.”
Tan explains in the COA audit, implementing agencies say they merely followed the instructions of the legislator.
Tan says she does not buy this explanation, but adds lawmakers are also responsible in the use of funds.
Story 6: DISARRAY IN US HOUSE AS DEBT-CEILING BILLS FALTER
Efforts by the House of Representatives to end the US budget standoff collapse Tuesday, with House Republicans failing to win enough support for its own plans to avert a potentially devastating debt default.
House Speaker John Boehner's team proposed a bill extending the US debt ceiling until February 7 and funding government for the next two months.
A vote was expected Tuesday night, but CNN reports Boehner was “struggling” to win enough votes among Republican members of the House.
The plan comes as Congress tries to beat a Thursday deadline to raise the debt ceiling.
If lawmakers fail to agree on a deal, the US will start to run out of funds to pay its bills.
The responsibility of crafting a deal now falls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.
On Tuesday, rating agency Fitch puts the United States’ top-grade AAA rating on warning for a downgrade.
The agency cites the risk of a US debt default if the ceiling is not raised.
Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, a typhoon described as the "strongest in 10 years" is on a path towards Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Typhoon Wipha packs winds of nearly 200 kilometers per hour near its centre.
At least 17 people died as it lashed Japan's Pacific coast Wednesday.
Japan Meteorological Agency’s chief forecaster says the typhoon is the strongest in 10 years to pass Tokyo and its vicinity.
The operator of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., says it’s preparing for the storm after 430 liters of radiation-polluted water leaked earlier this month.
At number 7, the Church of Sweden announces the election of a woman as its leader, a first in the institution's history.
The Bishop of Lund, Antje Jackelen, wins 55.9 percent of the votes from the ecclesiastical college.
The 58-year-old bishop is married to a priest and has two children.
She will replace the current archbishop Anders Wejryd.
And at number 10, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will return to lead the Golden Globes ceremony in 2014 and 2015 after receiving rave reviews in January when they hosted for the first time.
The US duo replaces Ricky Gervais, who hosted for three years despite his sarcastic humor aimed at star guests and the show's organizer.
Fey and Poehler met on network variety show Saturday Night Live.
Story 8: AZKALS KEEP PEACE CUP TITLE
The Philippine Azkals successfully defended their Peace Cup title after beating Pakistan, 3-1, in the last match of the 3-nation meet Tuesday night at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Azkals fell behind early but recovered just in time to dominate the Pakistanis in the second half.
Stephan Schrock scores the final goal with a courageous attack in the 88th minute.
Schrock also delivers the assist on the Azkals' first goal.