Rappler Newscast | January 24, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front say they’re close to a final peace agreement.
- The Energy Regulatory chairman Ducut says she will not resign after approving a steep power rate hike.
- An intellectual property expert wants four problematic items in the Cybercrime Law taken down.
Story 1: GOV’T, MILF AGREE ON WATER TERRITORIES
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF arrive at a deal on how power will be shared over the Bangsamoro waters.
This leaves only one more annex to settle -- the normalization annex -- before the final peace pact aimed to end 4 decades of rebellion in Mindanao is signed.
Under the water territories deal, local government units will keep their jurisdiction over municipal waters up to 15 kilometers from the coastline.
Jurisdiction over waters beyond 15 kilometers up to 22 kilometers from the coastline will be exclusive to the proposed Bangsamoro government.
This means those who want to fish or explore resources in the area would have to get permits from the Bangsamoro government.
For water territories beyond 22 kilometers, the panels settle for a "joint cooperation" arrangement, following the wealth-sharing deal signed in July 2013.
With only one more annex left in the negotiations, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer say they are optimistic that a final agreement is in sight.
MIRIAM CORONEL-FERRER, GOVERNMENT PEACE PANEL CHAIR: If it's just up to us, with the support of everyone, I think we will find closure to the formal exploratory process very very soon, so, we can really focus on implementation.
The annex on normalization will set arrangements on how the MILF will decommission their firearms.
The normalization annex and the deal on Bangsamoro waters are the last two documents to complement previous agreements on wealth sharing and power sharing.
Iqbal says the peace agreement will ensure the Bangsamoro government will be inclusive.
MOHAGHER IQBAL, MILF CHIEF NEGOTIATOR: The two documents which the two parties have signed will speak for themselves and they are for the people, especially those residing in the Bangsamoro. The benefits would also redound to people outside the Bangsamoro, especially the government, because there will be peace in Mindanao.
Story 2: DUCUT REFUSES TO RESIGN, FACES POSSIBLE SUSPENSION POSSIBLE
Energy Regulatory head Zenaida Ducut is not quitting despite calls for President Aquino to fire her.
Akbayan lawmakers Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez filed a complaint against Ducut with Malacanang after she approved steep rate hikes for power distributor Meralco.
The lawmakers said it was "incompetence in protecting the interest of the power consumers."
In a statement, Ducut says that in her 5 years as ERC boss the agency "has risen up through every challenge in the transition to an open and competitive electricity sector.”
The former Pampanga lawmaker and close ally of former President Gloria Arroyo says "I will not abandon but will lead my people to what is proper and appropriate."
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma responds to the clamor for sanctions against Ducut, saying she may be suspended.
But Malacanang qualifies its stance, saying it will only do so after due process.
The Palace earlier refused to consider the idea of removing her from the post.
Ducut, enjoys a fixed term and is an Arroyo appointee.
Meralco justified its price hike saying it was forced to buy more expensive power from the spot market following the maintenance shutdown of its primary supply source, the Malampaya plant.
Critics say the rate hike is a result of collusion between Meralco and its suppliers, and ERC's failure to hold a consultation.
Ducut is also linked to the pork barrel scam and faces malversation charges before the Ombudsman.
The Supreme Court temporarily stopped the implementation of the rate hike following petitions filed by various groups.
Story 3: TIGHT POWER SUPPLY UNTIL 2016
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla says electricity supply will be tight until 2016 but he adds, there will be no power failure.
In a Senate hearing into the power rate hike of Meralco Thursday, senators asked Petilla about reports the Philippines will suffer a power crisis in 2015.
Petilla said new power plants will provide an additional 1,400 megawatts from now until 2016.
He also said his department is looking at coal, geothermal, and liquefied natural gas as energy sources.
Asked for a long-term plan to ensure stable power supply, Petilla told Senator Sonny Angara it will take 4 to 6 years to set up a power plant.
Angara asked Petilla to submit a report on efforts to streamline and speed up the process.
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Serge Osmena and Senator Pia Cayetano also noted the problem of environmentalists opposing power projects.
Cayetano said, “I'm all for environmental protection but it's about balancing.”
Story 4: SENATE PORK PROBE TO TARGET NGO REGISTRATION
The Senate will resume its investigation into the pork barrel scam, this time focusing on the creation of fake non-governmental organizations or NGOs.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman TG Guingona says the probe next week will focus on the registration, accreditation and monitoring of NGOs dealing with government contracts.
The committee also invited Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa to the hearing.
The SEC has jurisdiction over all corporations and associations, and grants licenses and permits.
Guingona’s panel is investigating the multi-billion peso scam where lawmakers allegedly endorsed fake NGOs
of alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.
In past Senate hearings, whistleblowers testified that Napoles ordered her aides to set up NGOs
with common incorporators and auditors in their SEC documents.
The National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder complaints against 38 people saying they violated procurement laws in awarding projects to NGOs without bidding.
It adds, “The Napoles NGOs are not even shown as qualified to bid for government projects costing millions of pesos.”
The NBI says indicators of suspicious project implementation like overpricing, ghost beneficiaries, or non-delivery of the project were ignored.
Story 5: DISINI ON CYBERCRIME LAW: STRIKE DOWN SOME PROVISIONS
Intellectual property lawyer JJ Disini, one of the petitioners against the cybercrime law, cites four problematic items in the law’s current form.
It’s been a year since various groups petitioned against the controversial law, prompting the Supreme Court to temporarily stop its implementation.
Disini calls for the decriminalization of libel because of the perils of double jeopardy.
JJ DISINI, PETITIONER VS CYBERCRIME LAW: even just a Facebook status post can lead to a libel suit. I think that’s one area where people are concerned. It’s the freedom of expression issue, but other than that there’s also a provision for a double liability in the Cybercrime Prevention Act. It says that even though you’ve been charged with libel under the Revised Penal Code can be charged again for online libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. And then you will be charged - you’ll be open to a greater liability in the Cybercrime Prevention Act. It’s double liability, so something like libel can get you as much as 10 years in jail
Disini also says the law’s Section 19 or the so-called takedown clause is unconstitutional.
JJ DISINI, PETITIONER VS CYBERCRIME LAW: The takedown clause - even the Solicitor General did not want to defend and admits it is unconstitutional. It allows the Secretary of Justice is to take down content upon a mere complaint.
Disini says the provisions on cybersex and identity theft are problematic.
JJ DISINI, PETITIONER VS CYBERCRIME LAW: It seems to me that if both parties are consenting adults, and they’re engaging in a one-to-one - how do you call that? - interaction of that nature, why should it be a criminal offense?
Since its order temporarily stopping the law, the Supreme Court has not yet issued a verdict.
Disini says the best case scenario is to take out these four problematic provisions.
JJ DISINI, PETITIONER VS CYBERCRIME LAW: There’s a separability clause, Senator Angara was quoted in a news article at the beginning of this week saying that there is a separability clause if one provision is considered invalid and the rest that is not invalid will continue. So that’s actually the approach I have taken, I have four things I am concerned about, strike those four down and then let the rest through.
Story 6: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
Let’s now look at Rappler’s “wRap” for today - a list of the ten most important events around the world you shouldn’t miss.
At number 6, Miami police arrest singer Justin Bieber for drag racing and alleged driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Bieber was racing a yellow Lamborghini against singer friend Khalil Amir Sharieff, who was also arrested Thursday.
The pop star admitted taking alcohol and prescription drugs and smoking marijuana.
At number 7, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden says he’s not returning to the United States until the law on whistleblowers is reformed.
Snowden, who faces charges for leaking government surveillance data, says he’s not expecting to get a fair trial because the US Whistleblower Protection Act does “not cover national security contractors.”
He adds, “The hundred-year old law under which I've been charged... forbids a public interest defense.”
And at number 9, Oklahoma City scorer Kevin Durant and Miami star LeBron James complete the United States’ team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Durant leads the NBA with 31 points a game while James ranks second at 26.2.
The two also played for the US in the 2012 London Olympics.
The roster features the NBA's 11 current top scorers, seven of the NBA's top 11 rebounders, 2 assists leaders, and a blocked shot leader.
Story 7: NADAL ENTERS AUSTRALIAN OPEN
World number one Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer to enter the Australian Open final.
Nadal outlasts the 17-time Grand Slam champion in a semi-final that lasted for two hours and 24 minutes.
Nadal will face Stanislas Wawrinka who entered the finals after an upset win over defending champion Novak Djokovic.
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|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As an added bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.