Rappler Newscast | October 2, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- President Aquino dares his critics to impeach him saying his spending program is legal.
- The justice department will file plunder charges against former Cabinet officials involved in the Malampaya fund scam.
- US President Barack Obama cancels his trip to the Philippines because of the shutdown.
Story 1: PNOY DARES CRITICS: IMPEACH ME
President Benigno Aquino challenges his critics to impeach him after critics said his administration's government spending is illegal, and are grounds for impeachment.
The focus? The Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP designed to boost spending and help accelerate economic expansion.
The program was sourced from savings, realignment and unprogrammed funds.
The Palace says DAP is legal, saying the Constitution gives the President power to realign savings.
The President also brushes off critics tagging him as the "Pork Barrel King.”
In a speech before businessmen Wednesday, Aquino dismisses issues about the administration's spending as nothing but a "smear campaign."
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Lahat ng kakayahan ko para makakuha ng ipamumudmod, binawasan ko nang binawasan. Sa kabila nito, tinawag pa po akong Pork Barrel King. Kayo na po ang humusga kung paano tumatakbo ang sentido ng mga nagsasabi nito na napakahilig sa pork. (I have consistently reduced my access to funds and dole them out. Despite this, I have been called the Pork Barrel King. You be the judge as to the sanity of these accusations.)
Aquino also denies DAP was used to bribe senators to vote for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona.
He says the releases were made in October 2012.
Corona was impeached in May that year.
Aquino explains details of DAP after questions were raised over millions of pesos released after the impeachment of Corona.
Some lawmakers question DAP’s constitutionality, with others calling the release of funds without congressional approval "a crime."
Story 2: PALACE CITES CONSTITUTION TO DEFEND DAP
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte cites Constitutional basis to show Aquino has the power to realign savings under the Constitution.
This comes after questions about the constitutionality of the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP, which Aquino approved in October 2011.
DAP is sourced mainly from savings or unreleased General Appropriation Act items.
Valte cites Article VI, Section 5, subparagraph 5 of the 1987 Constitution as legal basis for the fund realignment under DAP.
She also says the funds also go to projects that lack allocation, with most of the money coursed through implementing agencies.
She adds the government has been transparent about the program, saying some senators may have been confused about DAP because unreleased money used to be referred to only as “savings.”
Story 3: DAP: 'BUDGET WITHIN A BUDGET, ILLEGAL'
Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno questions whether the government’s spending program, DAP, is constitutional.
Malacañang says the creation and use of DAP is legal, adding the Constitution allows the President to realign savings.
But in a television interview, Diokno says the President is empowered to realign savings only in existing budget items.
He says that by realigning savings to non-existing budget items in the General Appropriations Act, the government ended up creating a budget within a budget without consulting Congress.
He adds, "DAP is illegal...The executive branch sliced and diced the budget...and came out with a new budget."
Story 4: DE LIMA: EX-CABINET EXECS FACE CHARGES
The justice department will file plunder charges Thursday against former government officials who facilitated the misuse of P900 million of the Malampaya Fund, along with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
Whistleblowers say Napoles received P900 million from the Malampaya Fund by forging 97 letters of request to the Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR for fake projects in 2009.
In affidavits submitted by whistleblowers, they identified former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman as Napoles' contact in the DAR.
Whistleblowers also say two other officials -- Narciso Nieto and Teresita Panlilio -- were also involved.
While the Malampaya Fund is reserved for energy-related projects, the P900 million released to Napoles was supposed to help farmers affected by typhoons.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says no lawmaker would be charged in this round of cases because the Malampaya fund was coursed through local government units whose signatures were forged by Napoles' group.
Story 5: AQUINO, ALCALA FACE PLUNDER COMPLAINT
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or KMP files a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman against President Benigno Aquino, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and 10 others for their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Rappler reports showed that based on state audits of one government corporation under the agriculture department at least P1.35 billion in pork barrel were misused from 2007 to 2011.
During a Senate hearing on the scam, Alcala admitted alleged mastermind Janet Napoles received P39 million intended for the department in 2012.
The National Bureau of Investigation filed the first batch of plunder and corruption cases against lawmakers found to have misused their discretionary funds.
Story 6: KAPUNAN: WITNESS WASN'T NAPOLES' EMPLOYEE
On the second day of the hearing for Janet Napoles' motion for bail, her former employee Merlina Suñas says Napoles wanted Benhur Luy detained.
Luy is the whistleblower tagging Napoles as the brains behind the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
Napoles faces serious illegal detention charges along with her brother for allegedly detaining Luy for 3 months.
But Napoles’ lawyer Lorna Kapunan says Suñas was not even Napoles’ employee, based on a labor department decision.
She also hits the witness' --quote-- "growing" and "inconsistent" testimony, saying Suñas was adding details to her sworn statements.
Suñas says that on December 19, Napoles called for a meeting at the JLN Corp office in Discovery Suites.
Upon discovering Luy allegedly had hidden transactions with some senators’ chiefs-of-staff, Napoles turned to several employees in the room and ordered Luy detained.
Last week, another witness, Mariaflor Villanueva, said she also heard Napoles order Luy detained on the same date.
Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna.
Her brother Reynald Lim is still at-large.
Story 7: ZAMBOANGA CITY POLICE CHIEF SACKED OVER SIEGE
Zamboanga City police chief Senior Supt Jose Chiquito Malayo is relieved from his post because of the 20-day standoff in the city between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front rebels.
Reached for comment, Malayo says he is not aware he was already relieved. He is on leave and celebrating his birthday in Cebu.
Hundreds of armed MNLF fighters entered Zamboanga on September 9.
They aimed to hoist their flag at the city hall.
Police Regional Office 9 spokesperson Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca says the Philippine National Police appreciates Malayo's efforts in persuading 23 MNLF rebels to surrender at the height of the siege.
But he adds, without elaborating, “There are things [Malayo] has to explain.”
The surrender of the 23 MNLF members was controversial because Malayo was reportedly hostaged by the group.
Story 8: US SHUTDOWN CHOKES WASHINGTON
US President Barack Obama accuses conservatives in the House of Representatives of waging “an ideological crusade” by making government funding conditional on removing his health reform law.
On Tuesday, lawmakers fail to agree on a spending bill to fund the government sending the US government in its first shutdown in nearly two decades.
House Speaker John Boehner says Obama is pursuing a "scorched earth" policy by refusing to negotiate with Republicans.
The shutdown sends thousands of federal workers home without pay, and non-essential services grind to a halt.
Essential services, like the military and border patrol, are kept at full strength.
In the Philippines, the US embassy in Manila says it will continue processing visas despite the shutdown.
Story 9: OBAMA CANCELS PH TRIP DUE TO SHUTDOWN
US President Barack Obama cancels his trip to the Philippines this month because of the government shutdown.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will instead visit as his representative.
The Philippine foreign affairs department says President Benigno Aquino "understands" the decision, and says the relations between the two countries remain "strong and forward-looking."
Obama was earlier scheduled to make his first Manila trip from October 11-12 as part of his Southeast Asian tour.
Manila was supposed to be his last stop after two summits and a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Malaysia.
The announcement comes just hours after Najib announced Obama postponed his Malaysian trip.
Malacanang earlier said Obama and Aquino planned to "discuss ways to further strengthen the enduring Philippines-US alliance.”
The Philippines and the United States are close to reaching a deal on allowing more US troops to rotate through the Philippines.
Story 10: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, A French study released Wednesday predicts the world's population will rise from the current level of 7.1 billion to 9.7 billion in 2050.
The French Institute of Demographic Studies says India will overtake China as the world's most populous nation.
The projections ran parallel to forecasts by the United Nations, the World Bank and other prominent national institutes.
The institute says Africa would be home to a quarter of the world's population in 2050 with 2.5 billion people, more than double the current level of 1.1 billion.
At number 4, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis calls for a “change of attitude” toward migrants.
He says humanity “cannot remain silent about the scandal of poverty in its various forms.”
In the message released Tuesday, Francis also addresses migration across borders.
He says solving this requires cooperation among nations.
And at number 7, Filipino child actress Sandy Talag gets the Outstanding Achievement in Acting award at the Oaxaca International Film Festival for her performance in the Dutch-Filipino film, "Lilet Never Happened."
Talag plays an 11-year-old street girl who hopes to be an actress to escape poverty.
Talag entered the local entertainment scene by joining the reality contest StarStruck Kids in 2004.
The film by Dutch director Jacco Groen also won Best Youth Film at the 2013 Copenhagen International Film Festival in September.
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|