Rappler Newscast | September 14, 2012
Today on Rappler.
- Senator Santiago questions the role of resigned Interior Undersecretary Puno in the bidding for policemen's rifles.
- Former Interior Undersecretary Puno denies he is a protector of the illegal numbers game, jueteng.
- US Secretary of State Clinton says they cannot ban an anti-Islam film because of the freedoms enshrined in the US constitution.
Story 1: SANTIAGO QUESTIONS ROLE OF PUNO, AIDE IN BAC
Senator Miriam Santiago questions the role of resigned DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno in the bidding process for policemen’s rifles.
Late Secretary Jesse Robredo had stopped that bidding, citing Puno's conflict of interest.
MIRIAM SANTIAGO, SENATOR: I appreciate Puno coming here today but his answers, were at best fudged.
Senator Miriam Santiago reaches this conclusion after the Senate hearing to investigate resigned Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno.
The Santiago-led committee calls for a hearing to probe whether the DILG needs a change in structure and to see if Puno is guilty of allegations regarding jueteng and anomalous arms procurements for the Philippine National Police.
Puno denies receiving any money from the notorious illegal gambling game, but admits that as an observer, he called a meeting with gun suppliers bidding for the PNP pistol procurements.
He admits being in Israel on May 10, the same day of the second pre-conference for the procurement of 1,500 assault rifles for the police.
Documents show PNP Special Action Force Leocadio Santiago and gun supplier Reynaldo Espineli were on the same trip, as well as Puno and his consultant Ramiro Lopez III.
Puno denies going with Santiago to an ocular of the Israel Military Industries, a partner of Espineli.
He says he and Lopez only saw Santiago at the firing range while in Israel to go shooting.
Bidding for the rifles was stopped by the late Secretary Jesse Robredo, citing Puno's role and conflict of interest in the bidding as one of the reasons.
Puno also admits Lopez joined meetings of the PNP Bidding and Awards Committee.
Santiago slams both for their active involvement in the bidding process, since neither are members of the PNP BAC.
Sarmiento says they let Lopez attend meetings but did not let him or Puno influence BAC's final decisions.
As undersecretary, Puno was in charge of the police and the bureau of fire protection -- a first.
Traditionally, the DILG Secretary heads all sectors under the department.
Santiago says she does not plan to hold another hearing, and will study what changes to the structure of the DILG she will recommend.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.
Story 2: PUNO: NO PROOF I'M JUETENG PROTECTOR
Former Interior Undersecretary Puno says there is no evidence to prove his alleged role as protector of the illegal numbers game, jueteng.
RICO PUNO, FORMER INTERIOR UNDERSECRETARY: My accusers had no evidence whatsoever to substantiate their accusations. This only shows that my accusers either knowingly lied through their teeth or irresponsibly maligned my person on the strength or if I may say, the weakness of their hearsay sources.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz attends the probe initiated by Senator Santiago.
Cruz and Santiago say it is impossible for jueteng operations to continue without protection from government officials.
In 2010, Cruz named Puno and former PNP chief Jesus Versoza as jueteng protectors.
But he says he does not have evidence because transactions "come in cash and no receipts are given."
Story 3: PUNO APPEARS AT PROBE, BUT NOT CABINET
President Benigno Aquino prevents his cabinet secretaries from attending the probe on resigned Interior Undersecretary Puno.
Senator Santiago earlier accused the Palace of trying to "sabotage" her planned investigation of Puno.
The secretaries invited to the hearing are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, and incoming Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
In a letter, the Office of the President says the committee investigation seems to have no basis in the absence of a resolution.
But Santiago says the Senate does not need a resolution to begin a probe.
Story 4: PNOY'S RATINGS AND THE SIN TAX BILL
Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug talks about how President Aquino can use his high satisfaction rating to push for the passage of the sin tax bill.
Let’s watch her video blog.
President Aquino is riding high. Most Filipinos approve of him, as the latest SWS poll shows.
The survey conducted last week of August gave the president an astounding 67% satisfaction rating, his highest, so far, in his 2 years in office.
It’s the same rating President Joseph Estrada got at the peak of his popularity.
But, as the wise senior senator, Juan Ponce Enrile, has said, “Popularity is like ice cream, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes soft and melting.”
So why not put this tremendous political capital to good use before it melts away?
The sin tax bill is at a crucial juncture. The Senate will vote on it soon.
From the P60 billion that was originally envisioned as revenues, the figure is now down to P30 billion, after Congress passed a much-diluted version.
Most of this will go to fund the health care needs of many Filipinos.
But, in the Senate, the bill may be even more watered down.
It is tough fighting big business and vested interests.
This is one moment, however, that the president can harness his rock-star ratings for the common good.
Story 5: VISAYAN FORUM: 'WE HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE'
The Visayan Forum Foundation says it will vindicate itself in court after the US Agency for International Development filed fraud charges against it.
In a statement, the Philippines' top anti-trafficking group says: "Our conscience is clear. We have nothing to hide."
USAID accused the Visayan Forum of submitting forged documents to defraud the donor agency over a US$1.65-M or P69.16-M. project.
In an August 31 search warrant, the presiding judge says Visayan Forum executive director Ma. Cecilia Oebanda may possess the “falsified private documents.”
Story 6: US POWERLESS TO ACT AGAINST ANTI-ISLAM INCITERS
As anti-American protests erupt in the Muslim world over a privately-produced film mocking Islam, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is powerless to act against those who incite hatred due to the freedoms enshrined in its constitution.
Clinton hopes people understand the US government cannot ban the video.
She says, " Our country does have a long tradition of free expression."
Clinton adds, "We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be."
The First Amendment of the US constitution protects the freedom of speech for everyone.
Story 7: 4 YEMENIS DIE AS ANTI-US PROTESTS SPREAD
In Yemen, four more people die as anti-American protests continue across the Middle East and North Africa.
The deaths were reported in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, as police fire live rounds and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to storm the US embassy.
Story 8: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, The Philippine National Police investigates if a PNP-issued firearm was used by a terrorism suspect shot down by security forces in Indonesia.
According to the Jakarta Post, a 9 milimeter Beretta pistol with "Property Philippines National Police" etched on its side was recovered by Indonesian police after the August 31 anti-terrorism operation in Surakarta, Central Java province.
It ended with two 19-year-old suspected militants and one officer dead after a shoot-out.
A spokesman says the Philippine police have yet to verify the authenticity of the "sketchy" report.
At number 6, six Chinese government ships sail into waters around disputed islands claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo Friday.
The Japanese coastguard issues warnings telling them to leave.
The arrival came days after the Japanese government completed its planned nationalization of the islands, which it calls Senkaku, but which China claims as Diaoyu.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda vows to maintain utmost vigilance.
And at number 7, A team of celebrities join the quest for peace in the Philippines as part of a new campaign to rally more support for the negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
"I am for Peace" is the slogan for the campaign joined by personalities such as Black Eyed Peas member Apl.de.ap and actress Anne Curtis, composer Noel Cabangon, and Internet icon Ramon Bautista.
The government and the MILF hope to sign a peace deal this year to end 4 decades of conflict in central Mindanao.
Story 9: #MOVEZAMBO: MOBILIZING THE YOUTH FOR POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT
More than 300 students, teachers and members of civil society groups converge in Ateneo de Zamboanga for Rappler's "Social Media for Social Change Chat Series."
The event carries the theme "Mobilizing the Youth for Political Engagement."
As the Philippines prepares for the 2013 elections, students discuss how they can influence local political exercises through vigilance and use of social media.
Western Mindanao State University professor Mahmor Edding says the 2013 elections is a youth decision.
Story 10: SKYSCRAPER-SIZED ASTEROID FLIES BY EARTH
An asteroid the size of a skyscraper flies by the earth 7 in the morning, Philippine time, and is broadcast live during a Slooh Space Camera show.
The asteroid, known as 2012 QG42, was discovered on August 26 and is estimated to be roughly the size of the Eiffel Tower.
It is classified as "potentially hazardous," which means its orbit could cross that of the Earth's in the future.