July 16, 2013 Edition

Valerie Castro

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

  1. RH Law still suspended

    ORAL ARGUMENTS: Critics of the RH law faced the Supreme Court last July 9. Photo by Arcel Cometa
    The Supreme Court extended on July 16 a previous order stopping the implementation of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) law. This is favorable to the critics of the law who won a temporary victory when the High Court stopped the March 30 implementation of the law for 120 days. The RH law funds the distribution of free contraceptives, requires government hospitals to provide reproductive health (RH) services, and mandates public schools to teach sex education. The law’s staunchest critic, the Catholic Church, said contraceptives are “evil” and “anti-life.” 

    Read more on Rappler.

  2. Ex-AIM prof found guilty of ‘simple misconduct’

    GUILTY. Romulo Neri. AFP file photo

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed an earlier ruling against former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri that declared him guilty of misconduct in connection with the aborted $329-million national broadband network deal with ZTE Corp of China. The court downgraded Neri’s case from misconduct to simple misconduct. It also ruled that the former Asian Institute of Management economics professor was not liable for any corruption charges and was directed to pay a fine equivalent to his salary for 6 months. The NBN-ZTE deal was one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Read more on Rappler.

  3. No longer partners: Ongpin, Ashmore to part ways

    No longer partners: Ongpin, Ashmore to part ways

    Controversial businessman Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin and London-based private equity fund Ashmore Group will be parting ways. This is the case, at least, for upscale property firm Alphaland Corp, a joint venture between the emerging-markets fund manager and the country’s 11th richest man. Ongpin did not deny that there were issues and disagreements between him and Ashmore, especially after his legal issues with the government, but he said these were “peacefully and amicably resolved.” Ashmore is now in talks with another investor for its stake in Alphaland as part of the usual 7-year investment cycle that private equity funds go through, Ongpin explained. They have yet to comment if similar arrangements have been reached for the other multi-billion-dollar investments of Ashmore in the Philippines, including diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp, legacy airline operator PAL Holdings, oil refiner and retainer Petron Corp, and other firms where Ongpin represents Ashmore.

    Read more on Rappler.

  4. Japanese billionaire face anti-dummy charges in PH

    OKADA-GENUINO LINK. The Freeh report cites links of former Pagcor chair Genuino's associates to firms of embattled Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada.

    Japanese pachinko billionaire Kazuo Okada, 8 Japanese casino executives, 16 Filipinos, including lawyers from the SyCip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan law firm are facing charges over possible violations of the Anti-Dummy Law in the Philippines. An investigating panel of the Department of Justice found that these 25 individuals and 10 companies made it appear in 2007 that the Okada group qualified to acquire the land where its US$2-billion Manila Bay Resorts casino-entertainment project will be located. The DOJ said that “right from the beginning, (Okada-led) Universal (Entertainment) is behind the operations of the 3 (dummy) corporations.” Philippine laws do not allow foreigners to own land. The same DOJ panel, however, found that there is not enough evidence that Okada and Universal Entertainment bribed Filipino regulators in 2010 for the upcoming Manila casino project.

    Read more here and here.

  5. Asean haze issue needs ‘best will in the world’

    HAZY SKYLINE. Visitors walk through a park near Petronas Towers which is just visible through the haze in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 23 June 2013. Photo by EPA/Ahmad Yusni

    Officials from five Southeast Asian nations have met to discuss the hazardous smog that blights the region every year, but the worst-hit countries have held out little hope of an early solution. Forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in June left neighboring Singapore and Malaysia choking on the worst haze in more than a decade. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in early July the forest fires in Indonesia would take “a very long time” and require “the best will in the world” to eradicate because of the country’s sheer size. The main obstacle appears to be internal Indonesian politics, because slash-and-burn remains the cheapest – albeit illegal – way to clear land for agriculture. Singapore and Malaysia have demanded Indonesia punish those behind the blazes. But Jakarta says some fires have been set in plantations owned by its neighbors, especially Malaysian palm oil firms.

    Read more on Rappler.

  6. Still no deal on two Koreas’ Kaesong

    NEW MEETING. South Korea's chief delegate Kim Ki-Woong (R) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Pak Chul-su (L) at the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea on July 15, 2013. AFP/Korea pool

    North and South Korea failed to reach agreement on July 15 on reopening a jointly-run industrial estate, dimming hopes of an early improvement in ties after months of friction. A third round of talks about the complex, which followed two failed attempts this month, again ended without agreement, the South’s unification ministry said. The latest meeting was held at the suspended Kaesong industrial complex, which opened in 2004 10 kilometers north of the heavily-fortified border as a rare symbol of cooperation. The zone had long remained resilient to turbulence in ties but eventually became the most high-profile victim of the latest flare-up following Pyongyang’s February nuclear test.

    Read more on Rappler.

  7. Korea orders all airlines to improve pilot training

    INVESTIGATION. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman and Investigator-in-Charge Bill English looking at interior damage to Asiana Flight 214 during their first site assessment in San Francisco, California. Photo by AFP/Handout/NTSB

    South Korea’s transport ministry ordered all its airlines to step up safety measures and provide additional training for their pilots and crew as it starts a 3-week government investigation on Asiana Airlines, which figured in a crash landing in San Francisco. The probe into Asiana will investigate whether it violated any rules in its operation and training, the ministry said. Four pilots from the Boeing 777 that crashed on July 6 will be questioned from Wednesday, July 17. The pilots returned home on Saturday after being quizzed by US aviation officials. The Asiana jet from Shanghai via Seoul clipped a sea wall with its tail as it came in to land at the US airport and skidded out of control before catching fire, leaving 3 dead and more than 180 injured.

    Read more on Rappler.

  8. Google voice search now understands Filipino

    FILIPINO SEARCH. Google adds Filipino to its voice search repertoire.

    Filipino Android users can start using Filipino search terms with the built in Google search app starting July 15. The service works on Android smartphones running OS 2.0 Eclair or higher. Google engineers built a Filipino speech language model with the help of volunteers from the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman and some of the students’ families, who provided voice samples that helped Google build a lexicon that could distinguish Filipino. The number of different accents across the Philippines required Google to get more samples. Google’s voice search for Filipino isn’t going to be perfect, but as more people use the new service, the ability of voice search to get it right also improves.

    Read more on Rappler.

  9. Apple to probe iPhone ‘electrocution’

    INVESTIGATION. A Chinese man walks past an advertisement for an IPhone outside an Apple reseller in Beijing on March 18, 2013. Apple will investigate claims that an iPhone electrocuted a woman making a call while charging the phone. AFP/ Mark Ralston

    Fresh from the torrents of criticism it received from Chinese state media in April for alleged “arrogance” and double standards, Apple is facing another social media-led issue in its second largest market. On July 15, Apple said it would investigate claims that an iPhone electrocuted a 23-year old Chinese woman who was making a call while charging the device. The case drew attention — both sympathetic and sceptical — after it was posted on China’s popular microblog service Sina Weibo. Apple’s Beijing-based spokeswoman Carolyn Wu offered condolences to the family and said they will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities.

    Read more on Rappler.

  10. Neptune’s 14th moon named

    A tiny new moon has been spotted circling Neptune — the 14th known to be orbiting the faraway planet, the US space agency said. The moon is the smallest ever glimpsed around Neptune and measures just about 12 miles (19 kilometers) across, based on observations from the Hubble Space telescope, NASA said. Neptune is the farthest planet from the Sun, and NASA said the moon, named S/2004 N1, is about 100 million times fainter than the dimmest star that can be seen with the naked eye. Astronomers found the moon by tracking a white dot that appeared repeatedly in more than 150 photos taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009.

    Read more on Rappler.

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