March 11, 2014 Edition

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  1. Court to PH authorities: Produce big-time swindling suspect

    Photo courtesy of PNP-PIO

    The Court of Appeals (CA) ordered authorities to present housing developer Delfin Lee before the court on Wednesday, March 12. In a resolution signed by Associate Justices Manuel Barrios, Normandie Pizarro and Stephen Cruz on Tuesday, March 11, the CA approved Lee’s habeas corpus petition. Lee, the president of the Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp, face syndicated estafa charges for the alleged use of ghost borrowers to obtain P6.6 billion loans from Pag-IBIG Fund in 2009. The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police will be asked to explain the arrest and detention of Lee, and the grounds for his arrest, in view of a November 2013 CA ruling quashing the warrant for his arrest for syndicated estafa. Lee’s lawyers welcomed the development and said they hope it would lead to Lee’s release from “unlawful detention.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Homeowners vow to fight to the end

    For 20 years, Evelyn Niebres saved her earnings from her milkfish business to buy a house in Xevera Subdivision P1.5 million. But the house is not in her name. Niebres is one of 162 victims of the so-called double and triple sale of properties of arrested developer Delfin Lee, president of the Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. While they hailed Lee’s arrest last Thursday, the homeowners who sued Lee for syndicated estafa said they will not stop until he is brought to justice for the loss of their hard-earned money. In a dialogue with homeowners on Monday, Pag-IBIG Fund Chairman Vice President Jejomar Binay and Pag-IBIG Fund President and CEO Darlene Marie Berberabe assured the victims the agency will allow them to stay in their houses but with conditions. The primary consideration is to join the 162 complainants and Pag-IBIG in suing Lee.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. Search for plane widens as China hits Malaysia

    Photo by Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP

    The desperate search for a Malaysian jet which vanished carrying 239 people was expanded on Monday as frustrations mounted over the failure to find any trace of the plane.The initial search focused on a radius of 50 nautical miles (92 kilometers) around the point where flight MH370 disappeared over the South China Sea. Malaysian authorities announced it was doubling the size of the search area to 100 nautical miles. Authorities are baffled over the disappearance of the flight, with 40 ships and more than 30 planes finding no sign of it. Beijing blamed Kuala Lumpur for the lack of information, as tearful relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers voiced frustration with the response effort. Nearly two-thirds of the 239 people aboard were from China. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said “Malaysian side needs to step up their efforts.” The expanded search came as authorities released details on the passengers travelling on stolen Italian and Austrian passports. Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the men were “not Asian looking” and may have been part of a syndicate.

    Read the full story here and here.
    Read more on The Guardian.

  4. Why so few clues about missing Malaysian flight?

     Photo by Luong Thai Linh/EPA

    CNN opinion columnist Bill Palmer explained why there are so few clues about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, beginning with the lack of a distress call. Palmer is an Airbus A330 captain for a major airline and author of ‘Understanding Air France 447’. He said the lack of a call “is not particularly perplexing” saying a pilot’s “priorities are to maintain control of the airplane above all else” and an emergency could “easily consume 100% of a crew’s efforts.”From the point of view of a pilot, calls to ground personnel “could do little to help the immediate situation.” Palmer said the investigation may have parallels to Air France 447, an Airbus A330 that crashed in the ocean beyond radar coverage north of Brazil in June 2009. It was the last passenger jet to disappear in a mysterious crash in the ocean before the Malaysia Airlines tragedy. It took days for searchers to spot the wreckage and two more years to retrieved the jet’s black boxes from the sea bottom. Findings said electrical problems contributed to the disaster, and that the plane’s pilots struggled to control the aircraft after its autopilot function stopped working.

    Read the full story on CNN and NY Daily News.

  5. China drives away PH ships from Spratlys

     AFP PHOTO / Philippine Government

    Chinese ships drove away two Philippine vessels at the Spratly islands chain Monday as Beijing accused Manila of building structures at the disputed Ayungin Shoal in the South China Sea (West Philippines Sea). Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said coast guard vessels patrolling the reefs spotted two ships, loaded with construction materials and carrying the flags of the Philippines. China calls it Nansha Islands. Philippine defense officials refused to comment on the report. The Philippines has a stranded warship at the shoal, which serves as a detachment for its military. China has been demanding the Philippines to retrieve the warship. China claims practically all of the South China Sea, disregarding an agreement that countries are entitled to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Freedom of information bill passes final reading in PH Senate

    File photo by Senate PRIB

    The Senate on Monday passed the Freedom of Information or FOI bill on third and final reading with 21 affirmative votes. Senator Grace Poe sponsored the bill, saying its passage was long overdue and will improve transparency in government. The bill will allow access to government documents of high public interest. It does not cover Cabinet discussions, matters of national security, diplomatic affairs, and ongoing police investigations. The FOI bill is among the Senate’s priorities for 2014 despite the President’s refusal to certify the bill as urgent.  The House of Representatives is keen on passing the bill by 2016.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Senator Santiago: Social media will be game changer in 2016

    Photo from her official Facebook page

    Senator Miriam Santiago said social media, and not multi-billion-peso campaign funds, will influence the outcome of the 2016 elections. Speaking to Assumption College students on Monday, the senator said netizens have the power to undermine the chances of undeserving candidates through platforms like Facebook and Twitter. She added, “The future of political warfare will take place online.” She also said social media provides a venue for people to share opinions and experiences “easily and inexpensively.” The senator believes that with social media changing the rules of the game, there will be a less need for campaign rallies and motorcades.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Snowden: Every society in the world benefited from debate

    Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images/AFP

    Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said he does not regret his leaks about mass surveillance programs, saying it sparked a needed public debate on spying. He maintained “every society in the world has benefited” from the debate on surveillance. In a Google Hangout from Russia to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, Snowden said he revealed the programs of the US National Security Agency (NSA) to foster “a better civic understanding” about what had been secret programs. He also said every society in the world “has benefited” from the debate on surveillance. The festival also featured questions from Twitter, among them a question from Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, who asked how to make the intelligence system more accountable. Snowden said “the key factor is accountability” and that Congress needed a watchdog to oversee the NSA. Snowden is charged with espionage in the US, and received temporary asylum in Russia.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. New test for Alzheimer’s 90% accurate

    Researchers in the United States said they developed a prototype blood test that can tell with 90% accuracy whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer’s disease within 3 years. The test looks for 10 signatures of fatty proteins called lipids. In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers said the test could help families make early decisions on how to take care of relatives developing Alzheimer’s. It could also help find a treatment to the fatal degenerative disease. Alzheimer’s is caused by toxic proteins that destroy brain cells. The World Health Organizations said around 35 million people have the disease.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Prince Harry – Cressida Bonas romance official

    Photo by AFP

    After months trying to avoid being pictured together, Britain’s Prince Harry and his long-time girlfriend Cressida Bonas finally made their romance official. Bonas joined the prince at a public engagement for the first time on Friday, and on Sunday the couple was seen watching a Six Nations rugby match at Twickenham. Public appearances by the royals are carefully choreographed and the weekend’s activities suggest the relationship between the two is now official. The media first reported Harry’s relationship with Bonas in July 2012. The 25-year-old Bonas, who was reportedly introduced to Harry by her friend and his cousin, Princess Eugenie, comes from a bohemian but blue-blooded family.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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