August 1, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. Judge in ‘Ma’am Arlene’ bribery case dismissed

    Rappler file photo

    The Supreme Court dismissed a trial court judge, suspended two more judges, and removed a fourth one from his current assignment in its investigation into the operations of an alleged bigtime fixer in the judiciary nicknamed “Ma’am Arlene.” Judge Marino Rubia of the Biñan, Laguna, Regional Trial Court Branch 24 was found administratively liable for conduct unbecoming of a judge after he dined with a litigant and advised her how to deal with the counsel of the other party, for whom Rubia eventually showed bias in hearing the case. Businesswoman Arlene Angeles Lerma was tagged as the fixer. Rubia’s retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, are forfeited. He is also disqualified from reinstatement or appointment in any public office, including government-owned or -controlled corporations. Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals has been ordered to submit within 90 days the results of its further investigation of Rubia and of Makati RTC Branch 132 Judge Rommel Baybay, Quezon City RTC Branch 83 Judge Ralph Lee, and Manila RTC Branch 24 Judge Lyliha Aquino.

    Read the full story here.

  2. PDAF of 17 former and incumbent senators diverted too?

    In its continuing probe of the illegal diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund the justice department is looking into the possible involvement of 17 more senators – 8 former and 9 incumbent. Three senators are already in jail for the scam, where they allegedly ensured their PDAF, a discretionary fund, was released by implementing agencies to fake NGOs controlled by Janet Lim Napoles so they could get anywhere from 40% to 50% kickbacks. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima clarified that they based the names of the additional senators on the allotment release orders from the budget department indicating their names, and that these didn’t necessarily mean the funds were misused. There is the possibility that officials of the implementing agencies falsified documents because they financially gained from transacting with Napoles.

    See the list of senators here.

  3. Ebola deaths now more than 700

    The total death toll from the Ebola epidemic in west Africa have reached 729 after 57 more people died in just 4 days in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said. From Thursday to Sunday, 122 new cases were detected, taking to 1,323 so far the total number of confirmed and likely infected cases from the outbreak. Guinea is suffering the worst from the disease, which causes often fatal bleeding and has no vaccine. Sierra Leone, for its part, has declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, the Philippines is prepared in the remote event that Ebola reaches its shores, according to the health secretary.

    Read the full story on the death toll here.

  4. The Philippines to take 13,000 citizens out of Libya

    The Philippines reiterated its call for Filipinos in Libya to heed its mandatory evacuation order, with repatriation costs to be fully shouldered by the government. Malacañang Palace also condemned the kidnapping and rape of a Filipino nurse in Tripoli, the news of which came shortly after a Filipino truck driver in Libya was beheaded by militants for not being Muslim. The Philippine president’s communications secretary said the Department of Foreign Affairs had leased a vessel that would bring out its citizens from Libya, given the “extremely unstable political and security situation there.” Of the estimated 13,000 Filipinos in Libya, 3,000 reportedly work as doctors and nurses.

    Read the full story here.

  5. Pacific leaders warn: Oceans can swallow up entire countries

    Pacific leaders warned that entire island nations will disappear under the waves unless action is taken to address climate change. The 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum said there was no excuse not to act to curb climate change as it wrapped up its annual meeting in Palau. Samoa Prime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi said Pacific island nations, some of which are barely one meter above sea level, were at the forefront of the climate change issue because it was a matter of survival for them. “The reason for the very strong stance put forward by Pacific island countries is that we are the most vulnerable. Many of our states will disappear under the ocean if climate change is allowed to continue.” He added: “We all know the causes of climate change, we know the solutions. All that is left is decisive action from leaders with the courage to do what needs to be done to save the world.”

    Read the full story here.

  6. 72-hour ceasefire between Israel, Hamas begins Friday

    Israel and Hamas had agreed on a 72-hour ceasefire due to begin at 0500 GMT Friday (1 pm Philippine time), US Secretary of State John Kerry announced. The announcement came as the bloody confrontation reached its 25th day, with more than 1,374 people killed, nearly half of them women and children. Speaking in New Delhi, Kerry said after the ceasefire went into force, Israeli and Palestinian representatives, including from Hamas, would begin talks in Cairo in a move confirmed by Egypt. But he said Israeli forces would remain inside Gaza. Earlier Thursday, Israel vowed it would not accept any ceasefire that did not allow troops to continue destroying tunnels used by the militant Hamas to attack Israel. The Israeli army confirmed mobilizing another 16,000 additional reservists, hiking the total number called up to 86,000. The United States said it had agreed to restock Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition.

    Read the full story here.

  7. Village buried; 150 feared dead

    Rescue workers expect the death toll to reach 150 after monsoon downpours in the Pune district of Maharashtra state made a hillside gave way and bury a remote village while residents were sleeping. The National Disaster Response Force has pulled 23 bodies and 8 survivors from the site, but it said around 160 people were thought to have been trapped in the landslide, which damaged half of the village’s 70 homes. Heavy rain, however, was preventing rescuers from working quickly to find more survivors. “The mud slide must have been massive and very quick considering it has covered an area roughly the size of a football field with nearly 3-4.5 meters of debris,” Alok Avasthy, a NDRF regional commandant, said.

    Read the full story here.

  8. Six children among 25 dead in Indonesian boat sinking

    As millions travelled across Indonesia for the Eid al-Fitr holiday season, two  boats sank, killing at 25 people in Indonesia, including 6 children; 13 are missing. A boat carrying 48 people sank on a river on the island of Sumatra late Wednesday after experiencing engine trouble. A ferry carrying 70 people on a river in Kalimantan sank on Tuesday. Police were questioning the ferry crew as there were reports that the ferry might have been operating at overcapacity. The end of the holy month of Ramadan is the busiest travel period of the year in the world’s most-populous Muslim country. Most people abandon big cities and return to their hometowns to celebrate with family.

    Read the full story here.

    Always check out Rappler’s special page for news and features on Indonesia.

  9. State agents harass, jail, beat up worshippers in Vietnam

    While the “space for practice [of religions] has been cautiously widened” in the communist country of Vietnam, the state continues to commit  “serious violations” of religious freedom, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt. Religious practices were tightly-controlled for decades by the communist regime, but restrictions were gradually lifted after the “doi moi” economic reforms opened up the country in the 1990s. Vietnam officially has 13 religions, including Buddhism, Islam, and Catholicism. The national committee for religious affairs says nearly a third of the population – 24 million out of a population of some 90 million – considers themselves as religious. The UN expert said police and security agents “closely monitored” his movements during his investigation in Vietnam, preventing him from speaking freely with people. Witnesses had told him of “concrete violations…including repeated summons by police, harassment, house arrest, imprisonment, destruction of houses of worship, vandalism, beatings.”

    Read the full story here.

  10. Six Ramon Magsaysay Awardees named

    Winners of the 2014 Ramon Magsaysay Awards – Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize – have been announced, with half of the 3 awardees cited for their work in education. The 6 awardees are a Filipino teacher, an Indonesian anthropologist and educator, a Pakistani NGO, a Chinese journalist, a Chinese lawyer, and an Afghan museum director. Describing the awardees as “beacons of progress in Asia,” the president of the awards foundation named after a former Philippine president said, “All of them are creating bold solutions to deeply-rooted social problems in their respective societies, problems which are most damaging to the lives of those trapped in poverty, ignorance, and unjust systems.” This year’s winners will be invited to Manila for an awards ceremony on August 31.

    Read the full story here.

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