Rappler Newscast | August 28, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- The government puts up a P10-M reward for pork barrel queen Janet Napoles.
- In a rare press conference, Chief Justice Sereno dares critics who dismiss her as an Aquino appointee: check my voting record.
- US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says American forces are “ready to strike Syria” if President Barack Obama gives the order.
Story 1: P10-M REWARD FOR NAPOLES ARREST
The government offers a P10-million reward for the arrest of fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles, the woman at the center of the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino announces the reward will go to anyone who could lead authorities to Napoles, who has been at large for two weeks now.
On August 14, a Makati court ordered the arrest of Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim on charges they illegally detained their cousin-turned-whistleblower Benhur Luy.
On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says reports gathered by the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI indicate the Napoles siblings are still in the Philippines.
Napoles is tagged as the mastermind behind a scam where billions of lawmakers’ pork barrel were channeled to dubious nongovernment organizations Napoles created.
The scandal triggers massive protests held nationwide and in key cities abroad Monday.
On Tuesday, the Inter-Agency Government Coordinating Council or IAGCC begins its probe into the pork barrel scam.
The IAGCC is composed of De Lima, Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
Story 2: BUTCH ABAD: NO MORE PORK BARREL BY 2015
Budget secretary Butch Abad says there will be no pork barrel system by 2015.
In a television interview, Abad says the P25 billion for the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF stays in the 2014 budget.
But he says lawmakers' use of their 2014 pork will be closely monitored, following reforms President Benigno Aquino proposed.
On Friday, Aquino says it’s time to abolish the PDAF and replace it with an overhauled pork.
Critics say this is simply a renaming of the old system.
Abad says in 2015, there will no longer be any special funds for lawmakers.
Pork barrel funds are budget items in the General Appropriations Act or GAA which lawmakers can assign.
They can direct how, where and when the funds can be disbursed.
On Saturday, leftist lawmakers challenge Aquino to drop the President's Social Fund or PSF.
But deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte says the PSF is being put to good use.
She adds, the PCF is not a form of pork barrel fund, because it is not sourced from the GAA.
Story 3: SENATORS EARN FROM P600K TO P5M A MONTH, MIRIAM SAYS
Sen Miriam Santiago says lawmakers receive between P600,000 to P5 million monthly -- far from the P90,000 a month stipulated in the salary standardization law.
In a speech at a convention Wednesday, Santiago says Congress devised a "labyrinth method" on providing lawmakers with incomes --quote-- "very much more than their official salaries."
Santiago says her colleagues receive extra income for chairing oversight committees or becoming a member of the Commission on Appointments.
She adds, those who get elected in the Senate get even bigger "discretionary funds" amounting to between P1.5 million to P2.3 million per month.
A 2011 Commission on Audit report found Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Tito Sotto and Alan Peter Cayetano received additional funds for being elected as officials.
After massive protests on Monday against the pork barrel, Santiago says it's time for Congress to make public details about their incomes…
and pass the Freedom of Information bill.
Story 4: SERENO ON REFORMS: IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno dares her critics to check her votes in crucial cases, as she promises independence from the President who appointed her in 2012.
Sereno cites two instances when she voted against the Aquino administration’s interests.
MARIA LOURDES SERENO, CHIEF JUSTICE: I haven’t received any request, or any message, to vote in accordance with the political plans of any person, and I am grateful that they respect that. I hope people will look at my voting pattern...I do not want also for people to goad me to show independence and vote against for the sake of demonstrating independence. I should vote purely according to how my conscience dictates my vote to be.
The Philippines’ first female chief justice also says she is determined to pursue reforms in the judiciary.
Paterno Esmaquel reports.
Behind the dance moves, the Chief Justice says the Cebu Dancing Inmates represent what’s wrong with the justice system.
In a rare press conference, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno talks inmates for whom justice is delayed because of an inefficient judiciary.
MARIA LOURDES SERENO, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: You cannot understand the sense of irony I felt and the sadness that was there, when, after dancing to very energetic, modern beats, you would see these prisoners crying, simply because they feel that a system should not be designed or should not be tolerated where they hearings get reset only every 4 months at the earliest, or even 6 months. That is something that is not tolerable. So the clear message is, it is no longer business as usual.
Sereno vows to decongest court dockets, but admits there’s no single way to do this.
JOSE MANUEL DIOKNO, DEAN, COLLEGE OF LAW DE LA SALLE: One of the biggest stumbling blocks… is the issue of the accountabiity of judges.
Sereno also promises to run after corrupt judges.
She asks the public to testify against them by filing affidavits.
MARIA LOURDES SERENO, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE:That is the kind of evidence that will send a chilling effect, in fact an inhibitive effect, on those who are trying to believe, or those who starting to believe, that they can gain money from the system. We intend to crack down, really, on the wayward ones.
Sereno admits it’s difficult to change the judicial system.
MARIA RESSA, CEO, RAPPLER: What is the biggest problem that you’ve had to deal with?
MARIA LOURDES SERENO, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: Maria, this is a 112-year-old institution that has never had the kind of spring-cleaning that all institutions should normally have periodically...You can just imagine the kind of work. And this is where the advantage of being a female, who has had to multitask, and who virtually has 10 hands doing things at the same time, has afforded me. It is natural for me to multitask.
She says she is driven to reform the judiciary by the people who suffer from its defects.
MARIA LOURDES SERENO, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: At the end of the day, any efficiency step we make is all about the human individual and the people he cares about. We are helping people. We are helping lives to be rebuilt, we are helping families to go on, and rise from morass of the problems that accompany any legal entanglement.
It’s a challenge for the first female chief justice, the second youngest and one who will be around for 17 more years.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila
Story 5: EX-PNP CHIEF RAZON SURRENDERS
Former Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon Jr surrenders at the Sandiganbayan Wednesday after the graft court ordered his arrest earlier.
Besides Razon, the Sandiganbayan orders the arrest of 32 others for graft and malversation charges.
The warrants are based on a criminal case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman on July 11 over the anomalous repair of several light armored vehicles or LAVs in 2007.
The complaint says Razon requested additional budget to repair 18 LAVs, adding to the P275.37 million requested by his predecessor, Oscar Calderon.
This caused the total amount to balloon to more than P400 million.
The complaint alleges irregularity in the “bidding process, awarding of contracts and utilization of funds” for the repair of the LAVs of the PNP.
Story 6: US FORCES 'READY TO STRIKE SYRIA'
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the American military is “ready to go” if US President Barack Obama gives the order to strike Syria, though White House aides say there’s no final decision yet.
The White House says there’s "no doubt" President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemical weapons in an attack in Damascus, killing hundreds of Syrians.
US Vice President Joe Biden says an "essential international norm" was violated in Syria.
But the White House clarifies any US action against Syria does not aim to topple Assad, but to punish the regime for using chemical weapons.
Syria's ally Russia warns the use of force will have “catastrophic consequences,” adding Western powers are creating “groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region.”
In a news conference Tuesday, Syria Foreign Minister Walid Muallem says Damascus will defend itself.
He says, “We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal. The second choice is the best.”
Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 6, the Syrian Electronic Army reportedly alters the registry account details and DNS records of at least 3 websites -- Twitter, The New York Times, and Huffington Post UK.
Matt Johansen of WhiteHat Security says the technical aspects of the website during the outage point to the Syrian Electronic Army.
The name servers of The New York Times are first hit, followed by an attack on Twitter.
Name servers are computer servers that help create recognizable identifiers for the numeric IP addresses of websites.
At number 8, The University of Liberia may not have incoming freshmen next school year, after all 25,000 applicants fail the entrance exam.
Education minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh describes the widespread failure as --quote-- “like mass murder” but adds she wants to see the students’ test results.
She says, “I know there are a lot of weaknesses in the schools but for a whole group of people to take exams and every single one of them to fail, I have my doubts about that.”
And at number 10, Former Pound-for-Pound kingpin Manny Pacquiao suffers a slight ankle injury while playing basketball over the weekend.
It’s not known how severe the injury is, but the Filipino boxing icon brushes it off.
Pacquiao, who lost both of his bouts last year, made a habit of playing nightly basketball games in and out of training.
He starts training early to get back in shape to prepare for his fight against Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios in November.
Newscast production staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|