Rappler Newscast | September 2, 2013

Today on Rappler.


A week before the scheduled arraignment of Janet Lim-Napoles, the judge assigned to hear her case for serious illegal detention charges denies a motion asking to inhibit himself.
On Monday, Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda says the petition for him to excuse himself from the case lacks merit.
Napoles' arraignment is scheduled on September 9.
Napoles is the alleged head of a multi-billion-peso scam involving the siphoning of lawmakers' pork barrel through dubious NGOs.
Earlier, her lawyers asked Alameda to inhibit from the case, claiming he --quote-- "truly railroaded" the issuance of an arrest warrant against her and her brother.
The National Bureau of Investigation filed serious illegal detention charges against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim after they allegedly kidnapped their cousin-turned-whistleblower Benhur Luy.
The NBI rescued Luy in March after a 3-month detention.
He is now a state witness in the pork barrel scam case being prepared by the government.

Janet Lim-Napoles is transferred to her new detention facility in Laguna just before dawn Sunday.
Just 24 hours since she is transferred to Fort Sto Domingo, she complains of an anxiety attack.
According to police spokesperson Reuben Sindac, Napoles said she has a “claustrophobic disorder,” a fear of small spaces and feeling locked in.
A nurse found Napoles’ sugar level dropped and her blood pressure shot up to 180/150 from 120/90 of the previous day.
Napoles is currently staying in a two-bedroom, non-airconditioned facility.
Fort Sto Domingo is the training ground of the PNP's Special Action Forces.
High-profile criminals like former President Joseph Estrada were detained here.

Senate President Franklin Drilon suggests holding Napoles' hearing in Laguna instead of transferring her to Makati.
Napoles’ detention camp is about 65 kilometers away from Metro Manila.
During a Senate hearing Monday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas says the Philippine National Police may give the court information on the cost and preparations needed to transfer Napoles for her court hearings.

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Sa ngayon mahirap na ma-estimate yan dahil theoretical e no. Meron namang arraignment sa a-nuwebe ata. Kung kailan man yun, yung pinaka-movement ay dun lang namin talaga malalaman kung gaano kahirap, ano yung mga gastos, ano yung mga paghahanda na kakailanganin. (Right now it’s hard to make an estimate because it’s purely theoretical. There will be an arraignment, I think on September 9th. Only then will we know how hard it will be, what are the costs, and what are the preparations needed.)

He cites pros and cons in transferring Napoles to Makati versus holding the hearings in the police Special Forces training camp.
Napoles surrendered to President Benigno Aquino last week, citing threats to her life.

The P25.2 billion lump sum for lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF will no longer be included in the proposed 2014 budget.
House appropriations committee Rep Isidro Ungab says breaking the amount down into line items in the budget is being considered.
On August 23, President Benigno Aquino announced he would abolish the PDAF and install a new scheme, following reports and exposés alleging lawmakers channeled funds to dubious non-government organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
The new scheme will supposedly set stricter controls on projects that need funding.
Ungab says lawmakers will no longer be required to submit their list of preferred projects to be included as line items.

National Bureau of Investigation chief Nonnatus Rojas resigns Monday, in connection with alleged leaks in the agency in the Napoles case.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says Rojas submits his “irrevocable resignation” after President Benigno Aquino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer there are people in the NBI who are "less trustworthy."
In a television interview, De Lima says Aquino was “misquoted” by the paper.
De Lima adds, “That is not fair to Director Rojas... I can tell you the President was not at all referring to Director Noni… it's an issue of institutional integrity.”
She says Aquino is referring to the suspected tip-off on the arrest warrant issued against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim.
The Inquirer reported the leak was the reason Aquino turned Napoles over to the Philippine National Police instead of the NBI.
Napoles surrendered to the President on August 28.
Malacañang says it has yet to see the resignation letter.
De Lima says she told Aquino "not to accept" the resignation, adding, “I don't want to lose a good man.”

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA discloses reasons for President Aquino’s cancelled trip to China: a set of conditions Aquino rejected to defend “the country’s national interest.”
On August 29, the DFA says Aquino cancelled his attendance in the 10th China-ASEAN Expo at China’s request.
On Monday, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez says China imposed conditions for Aquino’s attendance that were --quote-- “absolutely inimical to our national interest.”
He refused to identify the conditions, adding, “To avoid embarrassment on the Chinese side, we will not state these conditions.”
This comes over a month after an international court begins hearing the Philippines’ case against China over the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

The Philippines and the United States continue to hammer out an agreement on US access to military bases in the country.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.

The Philippines and the US finish its second round of talks, but few details are revealed to the public.
The agreement allows increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines and wider access to Philippine military bases.
Speaking to journalists in Washington where the talks were held, the Philippine panel members enumerate "specific understanding" between the two panels.

CARLOS SORRETA, FOREIGN AFFAIRS ASST SECRETARY: The facilities used for prepositioning will remain the property of the Philippines. The Philippines will maintain primary responsibility in matters of security, whether it is an activity or a facility. Any construction that the US government may finance on a facility we approve has to be removed once the activity has been terminated. Stronger language on prohibition of prepositioning weapons that are not allowed under international law.

The Philippines sought the assistance of the US to improve the country's minimum credible defense, in the wake of China's aggressive behavior over disputed territories in the West PHilippine Sea.
The Philippine request also coincides with Washington’s strategy of rebalancing its security policy in the Asia Pacific.

PIO LORENZO BATINO, DEFENSE UNDERSECRETARY: They have keen interest in helping us out, because this will result in stronger alliance.

The panels give very limited information on the implementation of the agreement.
How many US troops are we talking about and how long are they staying?
What facilities will be built, and what equipment will be brought in?
Panel chairman Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino says the framework will not provide these details.
He explains each activity will be discussed separately by the US and the Philippines following the approval of the framework.

PIO LORENZO BATINO, DEFENSE UNDERSECRETARY: If and when the framework agreement will be signed, this will provide the basis for the AFP and the US to plan in accordance with the parameters set forth under the framework agreement.

US defense secretary Chuck Hagel visited Manila last week to discuss the agreement with President Aquino.
He says the US does not seek permanent bases in the Philippines.
The panels have yet to agree how temporary is temporary.
But the US has similar agreements with other countries that typically last 20 years.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or BSP says the Philippines’ strong macroeconomic fundamentals will cushion the impact of the market turmoil.
BSP deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo says the Philippines faces two threats: the anticipated unwinding of the US Federal Reserve's stimulus program and the slowdown of the global economy.
Guinigundo adds the country is also challenged by slower global economic growth.
But he says the Philippine economy "has tools to appropriately respond to such eventuality,” citing the country’s gross domestic product growth of 7.5% in the second quarter, low inflation, and sound banking system.

US State Secretary John Kerry says Washington has proof the Syrian government used sarin gas in a deadly attack.
This comes as Kerry attempts to get support from lawmakers for US President Barack Obama's call for limited military action.
Speaking to US media, Kerry says hair and blood samples from emergency workers on the scene of last month's attack in Damascus show signs of the powerful sarin nerve gas.
On Saturday, Obama postpones threatened missile strikes, saying he would seek approval from Congress for action against Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.
This effectively pushes military action back until at least September 9, when US lawmakers return from their summer recess.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress.

South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is discharged from the hospital on Sunday.
The 95-year-old Nobel laureate has been in hospital since June 8 because of a recurring respiratory illness.
In a statement, the South African government says Mandela's condition "remains critical and is at times unstable."
Officials say Mandela will receive the same intensive care from his Johannesburg home.
Since his admission, South Africans have been united in prayer for a speedy recovery of the country's first black president.

At number 4, ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi will stand trial for "incitement to murder."
State television reports Morsi will be tried with 14 other suspects on charges of "incitement to murder and violence" for the deadly clashes which broke out between his supporters and opponents in December 2012.
Morsi already stands accused of crimes related to his 2011 escape from prison.

At number 7, millions of Australians will cast their votes on September 7 in an election which poses logistical challenges for the continent-sized country.
A record 14.71 million Australians registered to cast their vote at some 7,500 polling booths.
Voting is compulsory.
With many people living in far-flung areas, 38 polling teams criss-crossed the enormous country to reach more than 400 isolated communities.

And at number 9, British broadcasting giant David Frost dies of a heart attack Saturday, after getting sick on board the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner. He was 74.
Celebrated for his revealing interviews with former US president Richard Nixon, Frost's list of interviewees was expansive.
He interviewed presidents, prime ministers, royalty and show-business celebrities.
Frost's lengthy 1977 interviews with Nixon saw him press the former president on the Watergate scandal.

- Rappler.com

Newscast production staff