Rappler Newscast | August 30, 2012
Today on Rappler.
- The Philippines maintains its strong growth, posting a second quarter GDP of 5.9%.
- Dismissed Chief Justice Corona revokes the waiver he signed opening his bank accounts to government agencies.
- Whistleblower Jun Lozada says he was not part of the corruption in the Arroyo administration.
Story 1: PHILIPPINE ECONOMY GROWS 5.9% IN Q2
The Philippine economy grew by 5.9% in the second quarter strengthening the Philippines' position as one of the economies to watch in Asia and the world.
Katherine Visconti reports.
29 year old Joey Santos is a veteran DJ in Manila. He started his own music studio when he was 21 but had to work 3 jobs to support himself and his music.
In recent years, his studio's business picked up, and he was able to quit his office job and pursue music full time.
These days he makes about $3000 a month.
JOSE LUIS T. SANTOS, LOVE ONE ANOTHER SOUND PRODUCTION: I think the first thing that you feel whenever you sense economic growth in a country is the openness in terms of the audience's listening. I think if people can purchase better equipment, better avenues for listening to the arts and better outlets for viewing them, I think that plays a big part in forming the mass consciousness of everything.
Young people like Joey are good for the Philippine economy.
You don't have to look far to see them spending, pumping money into the economy.
ARSENIO M. BALISACAN, SOCIO-ECONOMIC PLANNING SECRETARY: That 15- 18 to 60 age group if you see that growing faster than say the below 15 years old you have what the demographers call a demographic dividend and that's when the economy can grow fast.
The Philippines is now one of the fastest growing economies in the region.
End of August, the government adds another positive chapter to its growth story announcing a positive 5.9% growth from April to June.
The service sector, like tourism and outsourcing - was a main driver of growth. Flush with money, Filipinos spent.
Household spending made up more than 60% of Gross Domestic Product in the 2nd quarter.
Another rising source of growth was construction, which was fueled by government spending.
Global analysts are taking notice.
They are saying the country is no longer a joke -- it's now the strongest performing economy in Asia and a bright spot in the region.
But there are some dark clouds on the horizon. The peso may be getting too strong which shrinks the value of remittances, a vital source of consumer spending.
Mimi says her husband's salary as a singer on a cruise ship shrank over the years as the dollar got weaker.
Money got so tight, she pulled her daughter out of private school.
MIMI PINEDA, HOUSEWIFE: I used to get 60,000 pesos from my husband but now his salary has been cut in half because of the strong peso etc. I have to budget every week.
Another cause of concern is the Agriculture sector which added a minimal 0.1% to GDP.
Fisheries suffered a slump because of a temporary ban to alleviate overfishing.
The government says the biggest external threats to the economy are disasters and weather phenomenons like El Nino.
But despite the drawbacks, the economy, like these shoppers, doesn't seem to be slowing down.
The economy has more momentum than it's had in a long time, the question is if the country can seize the day and keep up the good growth.
Katherine Visconti, Rappler, Manila.
Story 2: CORONA REVOKES BANK WAIVER, FACES TAX EVASION CHARGES
Remember this scene? It was one of the most dramatic moments of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
RENATO CORONA, EX-CHIEF JUSTICE: Yung aking waiver po hindi ko na po iintayin ang waiver ng 189. I’m submitting this without any conditions whatsoever.
Last May 25, Corona signed a waiver during the impeachment trial opening his bank accounts to government agencies.
Except Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares says Corona revoked the waiver soon after he was removed from office on May 29.
The BIR filed tax evasion charges against Corona, his daughter and son in law.
Henares said the BIR discovered this after it asked the Banco De Oro for bank records of Corona.
Corona was removed from office for failing to declare his bank accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
Twenty of 23 senators found him guilty of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Story 3: SUPREME COURT JUSTICES RELEASE SALN
For the first time in more than 20 years, Supreme Court justices release their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth to the public.
All 14 justices - including newly-appointed Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno - gave copies of their 2011 SALN to TV station SolarNews on August 29.
Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno’s declared net worth is P18 million pesos.
Justice Mariano del Castillo is the richest at 108.9 million while the poorest is Justice Presbitero Velasco at 7.2 million.
For the full list, read Rappler.com’s story “Justices release SALN.”
Story 4: LOZADA: I WAS NOT PART OF CORRUPTION IN ARROYO ADMINISTRATION
Whistleblower Jun Lozada claims he was not part of the corruption under the Gloria Arroyo administration, which he describes as a time when there was “no moderation of greed.”
Lozada is charged with two counts of graft for his decisions as CEO of government-run Philippine Forest Corp in 2007 and 2008.
MARIA RESSA: But were you part of the corruption that existed?
JUN LOZADA, NBN-ZTE WHISTLEBLOWER: No, these are board policies. These are board actions that as a member of the board and you would like to ask a question like, hey can we…
MARIA RESSA: So you're saying all the actions you took went through due process.
Lozada admits he was surprised by the charges, saying he did not expect it of the Aquino administration.
He says aside from the death threats and harassment, a total of 16 cases have been filed against him and his family through the years.
Lozada blew the whistle in 2008 on former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos.
He accused the two of taking bribes from Chinese officials in the NBN-ZTE deal to computerize government agencies.
Lozada adds, he does not regret being a whistleblower.
MARIA RESSA: 4 years down the road. Was it worth it being a whistleblower?
JUN LOZADA: But the proper question to be answered is, do I ever regret doing it? There's no regret. I guess regret and being worth it are actually 2 different matters. Will it be worth it, I really don't know yet. There's no… I cannot answer it yet.
Lozada says the system must insulate bureaucrats from turning into political mendicants, when they become the underlings of appointees who are there for political payback.
He adds he learned a very painful lesson.
JUN LOZADA: As I said, one of the most painful lessons I learned is, there's no moderating greed. Once you let go, once you turn a blind eye to one, that's it. There's no more moral ascendancy, there's no more moral authority to say no to others.
Story 5: PALACE: PROBE BI OVER REYES ESCAPE
The Palace orders a probe into the alleged involvement of Bureau of Immigration personnel in the escape of former Palawan Gov Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
The Reyes brothers allegedly flew to Vietnam to escape prosecution for the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega in January 2011.
The Ortega family asks the Court of Appeals “to stand its ground," and keep the murder charges and warrants of arrest against the Reyeses in light of information the fugitive brothers are doing everything to get a favorable decision from the CA.”
The government is offering a 2 million peso reward for information leading to each of the brother’s arrest.
A broadcaster, the late Ortega criticized Reyes in his radio programs.
Story 6: SOUTH KOREA NOTE REJECTS JAPAN PROPOSAL ON ISLANDS ROW
South Korea sends a diplomatic document rejecting Japan's proposal that the two countries ask an international court to settle a bitter territorial dispute.
South Korea received a letter from Japan last week suggesting they refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
In its reply, Seoul says there are no territorial disputes in the islands in the Sea of Japan, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated after South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak visited the Seoul-controlled islands on August 10.
He says the trip was intended to press Japan to settle grievances left over from its colonial rule over Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says South Korea is "illegally occupying" the islands.
Story 7: CHINESE MEDIA BLASTS US BEFORE CLINTON'S ASIA TRIP
Chinese state media Wednesday says an upcoming trip to Asia by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aims to "contain" China and accuses Washington of causing trouble in the region.
A commentary by the state-run Xinhua news agency says "One objective of Clinton's tour is to contain China's increasing influence."
It also says "Washington intends to benefit from stirring up disputes among nations in the Asia-Pacific."
But the US state department insists it doesn’t want to see the use of intimidation or force.
It says, "We want to see them settled at the negotiating table."
On her third visit to Asia since May, Clinton is scheduled to travel to Beijing next week as part of the trip to meet China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi.
Story 8: VP PICK RYAN FIRES UP REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
Paul Ryan accepts the vice presidential nomination at the Republican convention and energizes Mitt Romney's White House bid by tearing down Barack Obama's economic record.
Ryan says Obama’s big government policies have failed.
PAUL RYAN, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: After four years of getting the run-around, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Mitt Romney.
Romney is neck-and-neck with Obama in national polls ahead of elections on November 6.
Democrats portray Ryan as a budget-cutting friend of the rich, but Republicans say he breathes fresh life into a reinvigorated race.
Story 9: FAMILIES FACE GRIM WAIT IN THE DARK AS 'ISAAC' GRINDS ON
Half a million people will spend another night in the dark as Hurricane Isaac continues to cause flooding in the southeastern portion of Louisiana in the United States.
The hurricane slows to storm force, but officials say it would be at least a day before crews can try to repair power lines.
Dozens are trapped by flood waters after a massive storm surge rolled water over the levees protecting low-lying Plaquemines Parish overnight.
Officials plan to open more emergency shelters after ordering the evacuation of 3,000 people threatened by flooding.
Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, Researchers sounded the alarm about drug-resistant tuberculosis in the Lancet medical journal.
They studied 8 countries including the Philippines and found 43.7% of TB patients did not respond to at least one second-line TB drug, used when the most powerful first-line drugs fail.
In the Philippines, part of what causes the problem is the over-prescription of antibiotics or the failure to take the full prescribed course.
At number 7, While the Republicans were at their national convention, Barack Obama chatted on social site Reddit, under its "AMA" - Ask Me Anything - section.
His chat was announced about half an hour before with an original message: "Hi, I'm Barack Obama, President of the United States. Ask me anything. I'll be taking your questions for half an hour starting at about 4:30 ET."
More than 200,000 visitors engaged with Obama, many of them getting error messages as servers struggled and some crashed.
And at number 10, A new book by a former Navy SEAL contradicts official US accounts of how bin Laden was killed during the covert operations.
Author Mark Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen, says bin Laden was shot in the head when he looked out his bedroom doorway.
If true, it contradicts what US officials said that the SEALs climbed the stairs of the compound and bin Laden went back into the bedroom.
It raises questions about whether the al-Qaeda leader posed a clear threat to the US commandos who killed him.
Bissonnette says he was a "point man" going up the stairs.
Story 11: CHILEAN TELESCOPE FINDS SUGAR MOLECULES NEAR STAR
Astronomers using a powerful radio telescope in Chile say they discovered sugar molecules, one of the building blocks of life, orbiting a young star similar to the Sun.
The astronomers find the sugar compound glycolaldehyde in the gas surrounding the star, located some 400 light years from Earth.
The European Southern Observatory says the finding "shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in this (solar) system at the time of planet formation.”
Story 12: BIGGEST MMA EVENT IN PH: 'PRIDE OF A NATION'
Less than 24 hours before some of the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world meet in the cage for the country's biggest MMA event, they first step on the scales, to make sure they make their weight class.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
Muscles, testosterone, and a pumped crowd.
This is the scene outside Smart-Araneta Coliseum a day before the Philippine's biggest Mixed Martial Arts event in history, "Pride of A Nation."
The fighters face-off for the first time during the mandatory weigh-ins, to make sure each one is the right weight… they all qualify.
Australia's Gustavo Falciroli will see Bibiano Fernandes for the main event.
GUSTAVO FALCIROLI, CFC AUSTRALIA BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION: I don't expect anything from him, I don't expect any holes, he's a complete fighter just like I am. We're there for business so I'm concerned about my performance. As long as I have a good performance that's what matters.
BIBIANO FERNANDES, DREAM BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION: I feel ready to go. I'm excited for the fight tomorrow. I'm happy to be in Manila, I love Manila.
Crowd favorites Phil Baroni of the US, Brazil's Gracie brothers, and the Philippines' Eric Kelly get loud cheers while heavyweight fighters Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski put on a show for the fans in an intense face-off.
Eduard Folayang, dubbed MMA's Manny Pacquiao, also excites diehards.
The Baguio-born wushu expert faces Japan's Felipe Enomoto.
Folayang pledges to bring pride to the Philippines and says fighting for the country is a great feeling.
EDUARD FOLAYANG, URCC WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPION: I'm always happy representing my country. I represent our country for 11 years in wushu and I'm so happy. Iba kasi young feeling na tinataas and bandera ng Pilpinas, humihinto ang mga tao and your national anthem is being sung.
MMA is widely considered the world's fastest growing sport.
It uses the best techniques from martial arts like karate, muay thai, judo and others so fighters can compete standing up or on the ground.
The event's organizers expect the sport to continue expanding in Asia, especially the Philippines because of the Filipinos' built and athletic ability.
VICTOR CUI, CEO OF ONE FC: The essence of MMA is an all-around athlete. Somebody that is agile, flexible, years of discipline and trained in several martial arts and a lot of Filipinos have that. They naturally cross-train.
16,000 fans are expected to watch the event live, broadcast to 500 million people in 28 different countries.
In the hearts of Filipinos, boxing may soon have competition.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.