January 29, 2015 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. Aquino defends ops, won’t take responsibility for cops’ deaths

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino III admitted knowing that police commandos were planning an operation in a Muslim rebels-controlled area to hunt down high-level Malaysian terrorists, but dodged questions when journalists asked him to give a categorical “yes” or “no” if he gave a go signal for the date and manner it was carried out. At least 44 elite cops brutally died in the hands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is technically observing a ceasefire with the government. In his address to the nation and in the short press conference that followed, Aquino gave lengthy explanations that failed to clarify reports that he was personally monitoring the January 25 operation, while it was being remotely directed by the suspended police chief who is known to be personally close to him. A national day of mourning will be observed on January 30 for the fallen cops.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read too the full text of Aquino’s speech in Filipino and in English.

  2. PH president to Muslim rebels: Your internal probe not enough

    President Benigno Aquino III recalled how the Moro Islamic Liberation Front worked with government in pursuing suspected terrorists in the past, and challenged the organization to demonstrate its sincerity in the peace agreement that it had just signed with government. The MILF is in hot water for the death of at least 44 police commandos who were attacked in the MILF territory in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, while pursuing high-level Malaysian terrorists. The Muslim group said the incident happened because government troops failed to coordinate with them. Various reports indicate the cops were brutally killed, their uniforms, firearms, and gadgets being withheld by MILF. Some quarters have asked that the peace agreement with the MILF be set aside. While the MILF said it would conduct its own probe into the matter, the President said this was not enough, and that he expects something more concrete on the part of the MILF, namely: stepping aside when authorities conduct operations against bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman, and to allow authorities to recover the personal effects of fallen soldiers.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. VP’s son surrenders to Senate, wife to face anti-graft court

    Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, son of the Philippine vice president, was arrested by the Senate sergeant-at-arms Thursday morning, after he and 5 others failed to attend 3 Senate hearings on alleged anomalous contracts in his city. The chamber’s blue ribbon subcommittee was conducting a hearing on organizations headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay when the younger Binay was arrested. The mayor earlier denounced the selective and inordinate aggressiveness of the subcommittee toward Makati contract while it turns a blind eye to anomalies discovered by state auditors in the neighboring city of Taguig, which is ruled by the family of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, one of those leading the probe against the Binays. On Thursday afternoon, the mayor’s mother was set to be arraigned before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over alleged anomalous contracts in her time as mayor.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Ministers warned: Inaction on China’s reclamation will undermine ASEAN unity

    Southeast Asian foreign ministers expressed concern at China’s land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines warned fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at a ministers’ retreat in Malaysia that the bloc would lose its credibility if it wouldn’t deal strongly with the “critical issue in our own backyard.” Wary of upsetting relations with its giant neighbor, ASEAN has for years responded cautiously to China’s increasingly assertive moves to stake its claims in the South China Sea, parts of which which several ASEAN countries also claim. The Philippines’ foreign minister said the international community must “say to China that what it is doing is wrong – that it must stop its reclamation activities at once.”

    Read the full report on Rappler.

  5. Groups ask Supreme Court to blacklist election tech provider Smartmatic

    Several cause-oriented groups have asked the Philippine Supreme Court to order the blacklisting of election technology provider Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corporation from taking part in any contracts for the country’s 2016 presidential elections. They said Smartmatic made several “misrepresentations” in qualification statements submitted to the poll body, and breached its obligations under the 2010 automated election system project contract. The Argentine firm has failed to answer allegations of security breach and systematic poll fraud in the past two elections, but the Philippines’ poll commission have stuck it out with the firm, awarding it contracts that watchdogs say are disadvantageous to government. Bishops, weary of the “bias” that the poll body has shown toward particular firms, called on Catholic schools to get involved in watching the election process and lend their IT expertise to government.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. In PH, families tolerate child labor because they need extra income

    A European Union-funded study of 6 rural communities in the Philippines found that 1 in 5 households knew that having children work is a violation of their rights but send them to plantations and mines anyway to increase the family income. Citing state figures, the study said 5.5 million children in the Philippines are engaged in labor, including permissible work for children. Children continue to work in dangerous environments with no or limited protective equipment. In one community, children in mining operations work inside tunnels. In some cases, child laborers are kept awake with the use of illegal drugs.

    Read the full story on Rappler, including interviews with exploited children.

  7. Power company Meralco wants to shift to Internet business

    For now, the Manila Electric Company is now a power business. Soon, says its chairman Manuel Pangilinan, it will be an “Internet company with a power business.” He got this vision for the utility firm after he and his senior executives spent a week in Silicon Valley, California, on an intensive exposure program to get familiar with the Internet. Citing the experience of Netflix, whose value rose to $28 billion from just $200 million as an on-demand Internet streaming media company, he said pointed out that “the market is rewarding not legacy businesses like telcos but the intellectual capital you put in.” He emphasized how Meralco and the other firms in his group should embrace the Internet and its various platforms because that is where the value is.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Tokyo safest city in the world, according to 2015 index

    Photo by EPA

    It is the world’s most populous city, yet Tokyo in Japan is also the safest, according to the Safe Cities Index 2015 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The least safe among 50 countries surveyed? Jakarta in Indonesia, even below Tehran in Iran. Two other rich cities, Singapore and Osaka (also in Japan) followed Tokyo on the list. “Safety is closely linked to wealth and economic development,” the report says. “Unsurprisingly, a division emerges in the Index between cities in developed markets, which tend to fall into the top half of the overall list, and cities in developing markets, which appear in the bottom half.” The cities were chosen for the survey based on factors such as regional representation and availability of data.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. What did Pacquiao and Mayweather talk about in surprise hotel visit?

    Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

    The long-awaited fight will happen – on May 2. This was reportedly the result of a closed-door meeting in Miami, Florida, between boxing’s only 8-division world champion Manny Pacquiao and challenger Floyd Mayweather Jr. Following their chance meeting during an NBA game at the American Airlines Arena, Mayweather visited Pacquiao at his undisclosed hotel, where they had a long talk witnessed by Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee and adviser Michael Koncz.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Spotify takes over Sony’s music streaming service

    Japanese tech giant Sony has entered a deal with Spotify for the music streamer to provide the soundtrack for Sony devices. The deal will make the Swedish startup the exclusive provider for Playstation Music and Sony’s smartphones and tablets. It will also see the two companies link up in 41 markets. “This partnership represents the best in music and the best in gaming coming together, which will benefit the vibrant and passionate communities of both Spotify and PlayStation Network,” a Sony executive said. The deal strengthens Spotify’s position as the world’s biggest music streaming service as competition from United States-based services such as Pandora and YouTube Music heats up and Apple prepares to launch its own service later this year.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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