At least 51 killed as tornado hits Oklahoma suburb. 30 Chinese vessels, 1 warship sighted in Palawan. Chiz poorest Senator, Manny Villar still richest.
Today on Rappler.
Story 1: HOUSE SUSPENDS RH BILL DELIBERATIONS
The House of Representatives temporarily shelves the controversial reproductive health bill to prioritize the government's 2 trillion budget for 2013.
It will likely be tackled again in October.
NEPTALI GONZALES II, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Today is effectively our last day to take up anything else dahil next week we begin with the budget. Hopefully, sabi ni Speaker, perhaps the lull period can be considered para makapag-usap. Let's see what's going to happen after we return from the break. October na yun.
The lower house fails to begin the crucial period of amendments because of a series of parliamentary tactics employed by the bill's critics.
Not giving up, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte is leading talks with the critics to come up with a compromise bill.
Pro-RH legislators agree to turn the bill into a "poverty measure" that will no longer universally promote contraceptives.
Instead, it will be made -quote- “available” only to the poorest of the poor.
But the first meeting on Wednesday was not so successful.
RUFUS RODRIGUEZ, CAGAYAN DE ORO REPRESENTATIVE: There is a proposal to be able to organize a technical working group composed of the executive, the legislative and the Catholic bishops of the Philippines. That is a good step that we have a dialogue. There are some good provisions here but we still believe that there are provisions that have to be taken out like the promotion of modern family planning meaning contraceptives to be promoted by the state. we are against that because that's against the doctrine of the Catholic church.
House majority leader Neptali Gonzales says they will sit down with a number of bishops in their next meeting to discuss the new set of amendments.
Story 2: SOTTO: RH BILL A MASKED POPULATION CONTROL MEASURE
In the third part of his Turno en Contra speech, Senator Tito Sotto calls the RH bill a population control measure in disguise.
He also debunks the view that the population boom is the cause of poverty. Sotto says the country is not overpopulated and the solution to poverty lies in providing jobs, livelihood, information and education to the poor.
VICENTE “TITO” SOTTO III, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Ang terminong "reproductive health" ay obra maestra sa panlilinlang. Isa itong mautak at masisteng pagkukubli ng pangunahing layunin ng batas: ang birth control bilang paraan para paliitin ang populasyon ng ating bansa...Kung gagamitin natin ang kakatiting na lamang na resources natin sa birth control, magsusulong tayo ng di-kanais-nais na epekto ng depopulasyon.
Story 3: PUNO IN FOR NOW, OUT WHEN ROXAS TAKES OVER
Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang says Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno keeps his current position -- at least for now.
Rumors are circulating that Puno will be taken out of the DILG when incoming Interior Secretary Mar Roxas takes over the department.
President Benigno Aquino appointed Roxas to replace the late Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash.
Carandang says once Roxas takes over the DILG, "he will be able to choose his people" and Puno may lose his position.
Roxas told reporters Friday that Puno had another assignment waiting for him.
Reports say Puno may be moved to the Department of Agriculture or Clark Development Authority.
Story 4: UMRA KATO, 108 OTHER REBELS CHARGED
More than a hundred members of breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement are charged with murder over the series of attacks in Maguindanao and North Cotabato in August.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group files murder cases against BIFM leader Ameril Umra Kato, Muhammad Ali Tambako, Badrudin Silongan, Kagi Karialan, Spokesman Abu Misry Mama and 109 other members.
The case comes after successive attacks on the Army last August 5, killing 5 soldiers and displacing more than 40,000 residents.
Story 5: MILF OPENS DOOR FOR EX-COMRADES
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front confirms the group is in talks with its former members in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement to encourage them to return to the MILF.
Spokesman Von Al-Haq says the MILF seeks to restore law and order in provinces where both forces are deployed.
But BIFM spokesperson Abu Misry Mama says they have no plans to return to the MILF.
The BIFM broke away after serious disagreements on the MILF’s peace talks with the government.
After weeks of clashes, BIFM troops declared a temporary halt in its attacks to allow peace talks between the government and the MILF to resume.
Story 6: PH JUMPS 10 NOTCHES TO 65TH IN GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX
The Philippines is among the countries that show the most improvement in the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index.
The Philippines jumps 10 notches to rank 65th among 144 countries in 2012.
This is the second consecutive year the Philippines climbed 10 places in the global index since it entered the World Economic Forum in 1994.
The WEF says the Philippines made "important strides in improving competitiveness".
It highlights the macroeconomic environment, saying it represents “one of the strongest aspects of the Philippines’ performance."
But the WEF notes many weaknesses need to be addressed, particularly in infrastructure.
Story 7: ILO: MORE YOUTH TO FIND IT HARDER TO GET JOBS
Young people across Southeast Asia, including those in the Philippines, may find it harder to get jobs.
The International Labor Organization projects youth unemployment in Southeast Asia to reach 13.1% this year, 13.5% next year, and as much as 14.2% in 2017.
The ILO says the euro crisis may have a spillover effect on emerging economies in Asia.
The group adds lack of opportunities causes young people to drop out of the labor force.
Story 8: NEW UN-ARAB ENVOY: SYRIA DEATH TOLL 'STAGGERING'
New UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi calls for a united stance from the international community over war-torn Syria.
He says, "The death toll is staggering...and the suffering of the people is immense."
UN chief Ban Ki-moon in his address to the assembly denounced countries sending arms to Syria.
Story 9: 200 OFWS IN SYRIA COMING HOME
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario secures the release of another 200 Filipino workers from Syria.
He obtains permission for the group to be safely repatriated without paying any exit visa fees or penalties after meeting with Syrian Presidential Adviser for Political and Media Affairs Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.
Story 10: MICHELLE OBAMA DRAWS SHARP CONTRAST WITH ROMNEYS
Michelle Obama draws a sharp contrast between her husband and presidential rival Mitt Romney in a convention pitch to US voters.
With 9 weeks to go before America votes, the race remains too close to call.
In her speech, Michelle Obama cites the hardships she and husband Barack Obama endured.
She says these made them aware of the problems they are trying to solve for ordinary Americans.
The speech shows the difference between Obama and Romney, a multi-millionaire businessman born into a life of privilege.
MICHELLE OBAMA, UNITED STATES FIRST LADY: So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political – they’re personal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids. Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it…and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.
Story 11: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 2, seeking to downplay friction with China over regional disputes, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushes for a code of conduct over the South China Sea.
She tells President Hu Jintao bilateral relations stand on a “strong and solid base” and says in a press conference it was in "everyone’s interest” for China and members of ASEAN to agree on the code of conduct.
Clinton denies the US was trying to contain China and says it hopes an it an agreement with other claimant-nations in the region could be worked out.
The Philippines and Vietnam accuse China of intimidation in the South China Sea.
The US responded by strengthening military ties with Southeast Asia.
At number 7, A hacker group allegedly breaches an FBI agent’s laptop and accesses the personal data of 12 million Apple iPhone and iPad users.
AntiSec, a group linked to the hacking collective Anonymous, supposedly gained access to the unique identifying codes for Apple devices and posted one million of them on the Internet.
The news suggests the FBI is tracking Apple users.
According to a BBC News report, the FBI says in a statement “there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.”
At number 8, a survey by Pew Internet & American Life Project says 36% of social networking site users find Facebook and Twitter “very important” or “somewhat important” in keeping them informed about political news.
It also found Democrats – more than Republicans or independents – value the social networking sites more.
One-fourth of users say they became more active in a political issue after reading or discussing posts, while 16% say their views were influenced by what they read on social networking sites.
84% says they posted little or nothing related to politics.
The poll was conducted Jan 20-Feb 19, 2012.
And at number 10, The iPhone 5 may be unveiled on September 12 if Apple’s press invites are any indication.
With the prominent number “5” image accompanying the number “12” on the press invitation, the event is undoubtedly when the new Apple phone will make its debut.
San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple’s usual choice for product announcements, will be the same venue for the unveiling. The new iPhone is expected to have a larger screen, be thinner, and have Apple’s new mobile software, iOS 6.
The Apple invitations bore the cryptic message, “It’s almost here.”
Story 12: REHABILITATING THE ESTEROS OF METRO MANILA
When storms and monsoon rains dump a lot of water on Metro Manila, there's a way to get less floods and to make the waters subside faster.
The key is rehabilitating the esteros of Metro Manila.
Carlos Santamaria reports.
Niño, 33, lived in Estero de Paco his whole life.
Like everyone, he dumped garbage into the river, until he realized the area was turning a huge toilet.
Nino is a River Warrior, volunteers in charge of cleaning up the Pasig River.
He teaches the informal settlers how to dispose of trash properly.
The payback: less floods and cleaner water.
But some neighbors give him a hard time.
NINO HEBIONADA, VOLUNTEER, RIVER WARRIORS: Pinakamahirap na dinanas namin ay lait-laitin kami ng mga tao, ng mga nakatira dito, hindi po nila alam ang kahalagahan ng pagiging malinis sa kapaligiran.
When the River Warriors showed up here three years ago, residents ignored their efforts.
But now they have seen how the place is changing and welcome the volunteers.
JEANETTE PALOMAR, RESIDENT: Malaking pagbabago, dati doon kami dumadaan sa kabila. Maraming basura naaamoy ng mga anak ko laging nagkakasakit. Malakas na ang hangin. Kasi dait kulog. Ngayon ano na, malawak maaliwalas.
A hundred years ago, the Pasig River was called the Grand Canal of Venice in the East.
The population explosion of Metro Manila turned it into a garbage dump that makes flooding worse when the rains come.
With financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank, the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission achieves a model for restoring other tributaries to the Pasig River, closer to the goal of bringing Pasig River back to life.
JAVIER COLOMA, WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, ADB: The environmental rehabilitation of the Estero de Paco will try to get the estero into the original flowing system. We will try to reduce the amount of waste and restore the conditions in which it was flowing previously into the Pasig River.
Three years ago, during Ondoy, the floodwaters reached up to the second story of the houses near Estero de Paco.
But in the recent monsoon floods which turned most of Metro Manila into a giant swimming pool, the estero did not overflow.
The long-term plan is to replicate the project in other esteros.
FAIZZA TANGGOL, PASIG RIVER REHABILITATION COMMISSION: If we rehabilitate the estero, there will still be flooding, but it will subside easier, because there is no blockage and it will flow easier.
CARLOS SANTAMARIA, REPORTING: Nowadays most of Manila's 47 esteros look like this. But in the future, they could look like this. They may not be the final solution to flooding, but they will definitely contribute to mitigating its effects.
Carlos Santamaria, Rappler, Manila