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Today on Rappler.
Story 1: AQUINO: SABAH IS A CONSPIRACY
Responding to criticism of government’s handling of the Sabah standoff, President Benigno Aquino says a conspiracy triggered the crisis.
Citing intelligence reports, Aquino says they have identified "persons of interest" involved in the plot to move against Sabah.
In a press conference, Aquino says Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III could not have ordered the move alone.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Hindi kakayanin ng angkan ni Sultan Jamalul Kiram III na gawin mag-isa ang ganitong pagkilos. Kapansin-pansin din ang nag-iisang linya ng kritiko para gatungan ang malubha nang sitwasyon…Mulat tayong may mga taong nagkuntsabahan upang humantong tayo sa sitwasyong ito. Isang sitwasyon na walang agarang solusyon. Ilan po sa kanila ay nakikita natin habang ang iba naman ay nagkukubli pa rin sa dilim. (The family of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III could not possibly have settled on this course of action alone. We have also noticed how our critics have stuck to a single messaging line to exacerbate a situation that has already grown critical…We are aware that there are those who conspired to bring us to this situation—a situation that has no immediate solutions. Some of their identities are clear to us, while others continue to skulk in the shadows.)
Kiram's followers sailed to Sabah on February 12 to reclaim the territory as their own.
On Friday, a shootout between the Filipino group and Malaysian security forces leaves 14 people dead.
Another clash Saturday in Sempora, 300 kilometers from the bloody Friday site of Lahad Datu, raises the death toll to at least 26.
Aquino calls on remaining armed Filipinos in Sabah to surrender, saying there is no room for negotiations if they continue to bear arms.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Hindi pa rin nagbabago ang panawagan ko sa angkan ni Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Hindi risonable humingi ng pang-unawa kung nakatutok ang iyong armas sa mukha ng kausap. (My call to the family of Sultan Jamalul Kiram has not changed: it is not reasonable to ask for understanding, if your weapons are pointed at the faces of those you are speaking with.)
Aquino also downplays the reported crackdown on Filipinos in Sabah, calling the reports "alarmist."
He says Malaysia's response against the Filipinos in Sabah should be put in context.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Magprangkahan nga po tayo: kung baliktad ang sitwasyon, at sarili nating komunidad ang pinasok ng sino mang armadong grupo, puwede bang magwalang-kibo na lang tayo? Hindi rin ba tayo magpapasaklolo sa pamahalaan? Kahit naman po anong lahi, basta may banta sa kanilang kaligtasan, papalag at gagawa ng paraan upang mailayo ang kanilang mamamayan sa banta ng karahasan. (Let us be frank with each other: If the situation were reversed, and armed groups entered our own community, would it be possible for us to do nothing? Would we not ask the government for help? Whatever your nationality may be, if there exists a threat to your safety, you would naturally retaliate and find a way to remove your citizens from harm’s way.)
Story 2: PH TO MALAYSIA: 'MAXIMUM TOLERANCE'
The Philippines asks Malaysia to observe "maximum tolerance" in dealing with Filipino gunmen who survived the Sabah standoff.
On Monday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario goes to Kuala Lumpur to persuade Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Aman to allow a “humanitarian" mission to assist Filipinos affected by the standoff and bring them back home.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte says del Rosario requested full access to all detained and wounded Filipinos.
At least 26 people have died since Friday.
On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak authorizes the "doubling" of police and armed forces deployed in Sabah.
Story 3: MALAYSIA HAS OWN CONSPIRACY THEORY
The Sabah standoff turns into a political issue in Malaysia.
Malaysian media reports the government is investigating possible links between the Malaysian opposition and Filipino gunmen.
Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday orders intelligence services to probe a claim that an opposition leader "had a hand in the armed intrusion" in Lahad Datu.
Najib says it was suspicious that armed men crossed over to Sabah when the Malaysian state is about to hold its general election.
State news agency Bernama quotes Najib as saying, "All avenues must be investigated.”
“The whole episode is a major embarrassment for the Philippine government."
A Reuters report on February 14 says the Filipino group was invited to Sabah by a Malaysian opposition politician "to discuss land issues."
Several Malaysian blogs link opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to the Sabah standoff.
But Anwar denies the allegations, calling them "baseless, slanderous and malicious."
Story 4: GOOGLE LINKS ALTERED WIKI OVER SABAH
Supporters of the Filipino group in the Sabah standoff take their campaign to cyberspace Monday.
A Google search for the word "Sabah," comes back with a search results page that quotes "Wikipedia."
The passage reads, "Sabah is illegitimately considered one of the 13 member states of Malaysia...but in fact, it is part of the Sultanate of Sulu."
The page no longer has the altered text, but Google's results still reference the previous edit.
The Pinoy Tech News website reports a series of cyber attacks on several websites by both Malaysian and Philippine hackers.
Story 5: DESPITE SABAH, AQUINO TO CONTINUE SORTIES
Expect President Aquino to join Team PNoy sorties despite the conflict in Sabah.
Some criticized Aquino’s choice to join the sortie in San Fernando, Pampanga -- the same day fighting broke out in Sabah.
Campaign manager Franklin Drilon defends Aquino's decision saying the President was also there for development projects.
FRANKLIN DRILON, TEAM PNOY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: As of now the President's schedule will include both sorties and performing official functions.
Team PNoy spokesperson Miro Quimbo also defends Aquino.
He says the president's appearance in Pampanga was not mere campaigning.
Quimbo says ---quote, "He's not just looking at this as an election.
It is a fundamental step to continue his reforms."
Aquino's next scheduled appearance on the campaign trail is on Wednesday in Davao City.
Story 6: ERAP, BINAY: MINDANAO BELONGS TO UNA
United Nationalist Alliance leaders Vice President Jejomar Binay and former president Joseph Estrada declare --quote, "Mindanao belongs to UNA and UNA belongs to Mindanao."
Ayee Macaraig reports.
Former President Joseph Estrada returns to Mindanao, this time not as presidential candidate but endorser.
The man who topped the 2010 presidential race in the region again courts the vote of Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Iligan -- this time, for his senatorial candidates in the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay rouse the crowd on the campaign trail.
But amid the deadly Sabah standoff, it’s their candidates who make noise against the Aquino administration.
MITOS MAGSAYSAY, UNA SENATORIAL BET: Alam naman nilang mageexpire ang lease ng Sabah nitong March, one year prior dapat may ginawa na silang paraan kung paano ma-settle between stakeholders concerned. Kaya lang yun ang problema mukhang lahat ng focus ng administrasyon pamumulitika this May 2013 eleksyon kaya ang concerns ng mga kababayan natin sa Sabah, sa Mindanao, ‘yun ang di nila binibigyan ng pansin. (They are aware the Sabah lease expires in March. They should have thought of a way to settle between stakeholders concerned. But that’s the problem, looks like all the focus of the administration is politicizing this May 2013 elections. That’s why they are unable to attend to the concerns of fellow Filipinos in Sabah, in Mindanao.)
While Estrada and Binay hesitate to criticize the President, there's no holding them back from hitting his allies in the Liberal Party.
JOSEPH ESTRADA, FORMER PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Sino nandaya kay FPJ nung counting sa Senado? Sino ang senate president noon: si Drilon at assistant niya si Pangilinan, puro sabi noted. Ngayon atake sila nang atake kay GMA. Kung may aatake kay GMA, ako, di sila. (Who cheated FPJ in the Senate counting? Who was the Senate President then? It was Drilon and his assistant Pangilinan who kept on saying, “Noted.” Now they keep on attacking Gloria Arroyo. If there’s anyone who should attack Arroyo, it’s me not them.)
JEJOMAR BINAY, PHILIPPINE VICE PRESIDENT: Kung magsalita akala mo sila lang ang ‘di balimbing. Nandoon ang maraming balimbing. (They talk as if they are not turncoats. They actually have more turncoats.)
UNA aims for a repeat of the Estrada-Binay 2010 victory in Northern Mindanao for its slate.
Candidates woo voters by promising to focus on the Mindanao power crisis, and citing their efforts to help victims of Typhoon Sendong that battered the region.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: Despite the promises and label of an Erap country, residents here say that with the poverty and disasters they face, there’s more to their vote than words.
Sendong victim Miriam Magdalang is a Red Cross beneficiary from Iligan who’s asked to attend the UNA rally here.
But she says her presence doesn’t mean a vote for Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon or his ticket.
MIRIAM MAGDALANG, SENDONG VICTIM: Kinsa tong maayo mao among buhataran, kinsa tong nakabuhat ug matarung ug kinsa mahakabuhat, makita namo ang ilang binuhatan bitaw, ang ilang mga project ilang matuman. Mao na’y among tabangan. Ug dili mi mga tao, di man sila madaog. (Whoever did well, we will vote for that person, whoever did good. We should see what they did, their projects. Those are the people we will help. If not for us, they will not win.)
With the fanfare and mudslinging in full swing, Mindanaoans remind candidates they have problems more urgent than political fireworks.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Cagayan de Oro.
Story 7: CYNTHIA VILLAR APOLOGIZES TO NURSES
Team PNoy senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar apologizes to Filipino nurses for her statement on the nurses.
Villar tweets her apology.
She says in Filipino, "I sincerely apologize to all the nurses and their families who were hurt by my response to the question I was asked on TV."
In a senatorial forum on GMA News TV, economist Winnie Monsod asked Villar to explain why she opposed the move to close nursing schools that did not pass the standards of the Commission on Higher Education or CHED.
Villar, who is chairman of the House committee on high education, explains she favors the students who wanted to continue their schooling.
But a part of her response became controversial.
She said in Filipino, "The nurses do not need to finish Bachelor of Science in Nursing because they only want to become room nurses."
Fellow Team PNoy bet Escudero, in a health forum, says Villar could have been misconstrued.
FRANCIS ESCUDERO, TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think she was misunderstood or probably taken out of context because I don't think any person, especially a candidate, would say such a thing the campaign period.
Team PNoy candidates Risa Hontiveros and Jun Magsaysay were also in the health forum but did not comment directly on Villar's response.
Story 8: SC DISMISSES CASE VS LACSON WITH FINALITY
The Supreme Court dismisses with finality the murder case linking former National Police chief and now Senator Panfilo Lacson to the 1995 Kuratong Baleleng "rubout."
In a ruling dated January 15 and released Monday, the court denies the motion for reconsideration on the dismissal of the case against Lacson and 33 other policemen accused of killing members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang.
The SC says "no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision."
Story 9: FINALLY, PH PASSES AVIATION SAFETY AUDIT
After 5 years, the Philippines passes the global safety audit of a United Nations aviation body.
It marks the first step in lifting restrictions against Philippine carriers.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines says the International Civil Aviation Organization or ICAO lifts the "significant safety concerns" on the Philippine’s ability to meet global aviation standards.
Local airlines and tourism officials have long awaited a favorable ICAO audit and a positive review from the US Federal Aviation Administration or FAA.
It will likely bring more foreign visitors from the huge markets of the United States and European Union.
The European Union may also follow the FAA's move after it blacklisted the Philippines in 2010.
Man with cocktail at tropical beach image via Shutterstock.
Story 10: CARDINALS BEGIN PRE-CONCLAVE TALKS
Catholic cardinals begin talks on Monday ahead of a conclave to elect a new pope after Benedict XVI's resignation.
No date has been set for the conclave, but Italian media mention March 11 as a possible date.
115 cardinal electors are expected at the conclave to select the next leader of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican says it expects a new pope by Easter, which falls on March 31 this year.
The field for the next Pope remains wide open after Benedict became the second pontiff to step down by choice in the Church's 2,000-year history.
His eight-year pontificate was overshadowed by Vatican intrigue and scandals over sexual abuse by pedophile priests.
Story 11: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, Scientists in the US say they cured an HIV-positive baby through drug therapy.
It’s seen as a breakthrough that could help thousands of HIV-positive babies worldwide.
For 18 months, doctors gave the baby a regimen of AIDS drugs already in the market.
After 5 months, tests showed the baby was already HIV negative.
The only other case of a patient cured of HIV was Timothy Brown.
In 2007, he underwent a bone marrow transplant that cured him of both HIV and leukemia.
At number 4, Resigned Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Britain admits his sexual conduct had "fallen below the standards expected of me.”
O’Brien resigned last week after priests accused him of improper behavior dating back to the 80s -- allegations he initially denied.
This includes claims that one priest received unwanted attention from O'Brien, while another claims O’Brien used night prayers as cover for inappropriate contact.
In a statement, the former head of the Catholic Church in Scotland apologizes "to those I have offended... to the Catholic Church and people of Scotland."
At number 5, Vatican experts and church leaders say the resignation of Benedict XVI sets limits for future popes.
This also makes them subject to more pressure from critics.
Experts say this feeds the view that Popes are not just spiritual leaders but chief executives managing a multinational conglomerate.
The possibility of resignation could allow the cardinals to choose a younger man, knowing that a limited term is an option, or an older one, knowing that he could quit if unable to fulfill his duties.
But some worry about a destabilizing effect.
Australian Cardinal George Pell says Benedict’s example could prompt critics to “mount a future campaign” against a successor “to get him to resign.”
And at number 7, Central African country Chad says its soldiers in Mali kills the mastermind of the raid on an Algerian gas plant that left at least 37 foreign hostages and 30 militants dead.
On Saturday, Chad’s military spokesman announces Mokhtar Belmokhtar was killed in an operation.
He is one of four leaders of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb brigades during the 2000s.
He broke with the group last year to form his own organization, the Signed-in-Blood Battalion.
Belmokhtar claims he organized the January raid on the Ain Amenas gas plant in retaliation for French intervention in Mali.
Soldiers from Chad are fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali as part of a French-led international force.
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|
Nokia unveils the much anticipated aluminum Lumia, Blackberry Messenger comes to iOS and Android and Google unveils a big list of innovations at Google I/O 2013
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