February 19, 2015 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. MILF returning slain SAF’s weapons not enough – gov’t

    Weeks after clash that killed 65, including 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front returned to government 16 of the 63 firearms seized from the police commandos. Senator Ralph Recto said the Muslim rebels should also return the personal items – like cellphones and wedding rings – of slain cops. If what happened was a “misencounter” as the MILF insists, he said, then the belongings of the victims “can never be spoils of war nor trophies of battles.” President Benigno Aquino III also expects from the MILF more “concrete manifestations” of its commitment to the peace process. These include support and non-interference in efforts to capture terrorist Basir Usman, the identification and prosecution of those involved in the slaying of the members of SAF, and the return of the other firearms and equipment which were taken from the SAF troopers.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. US pays PH for damage on world heritage site

    After two years of negotiating directly with the Philippine government – ignoring a case filed by environmentalists with the Supreme Court – the United States paid the Philippines P87.03 million ($1.97 million) for the damage that USS Guardian inflicted on Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palawan province. The American ship obliterated 2,345.67 square meters of coral reef when it crashed into the marine park and protected area on January 17, 2013. Citizens who had gone to court to force the government to demand payment from the US had a higher estimate of the damage, between P737.8 million ($16.8 million) and P1.2 billion ($27 million).

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. Boy Scouts under Binay allowed itself to be shortchanged in land deal

    In the 15th hearing on alleged anomalous transactions by the Makati city government, senators questioned the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, headed for two decades now by Vice President and former Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, of allowing itself to be shortchanged by developer Alphaland in a land deal. The BSP allowed Alphaland to undervalue its one-hectare prime property in Makati before selling it to the same company, allegedly upon Binay’s prodding. Binay’s former ally, ex-Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, claims Binay got a commission from the transaction and used it in his vice presidential bid in 2010.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Rejected in appeal for drug smugglers, Australia reminds Indonesia of tsunami aid

    When it appeared that the government of Joko Widodo was bent on executing two Australians for smuggling heroin into Indonesia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned the Southeast Asian country that Canberra would “feel grievously let down,” considering that it provided some $1 billion in assistance during the devastating Aceh tsunami in 2004, where 9 Australians and 170,000 Indonesians died. “I don’t want to prejudice the best possible relations with a very important friend and neighbor,” Abbott said in stepping up clemency requests for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin trafficking group who are set to face the firing squad. The prime minister was criticized for his remarks. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said he hopes the prime minister’s remarks did not reflect “the true colors of Australians.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. HSBC’s Geneva offices raided in money laundering probe

    Swiss investigators searched the Geneva offices of British banking giant HSBC in a probe following allegations the bank helped clients – including celebrities, alleged arms dealers, and politicians – launder millions of dollars. “Following the recent revelations related to the HSBC Private Bank (Switzerland), the public prosecutor announces the opening of a criminal procedure against the bank… for aggravated money laundering,” Geneva prosecutors said in a statement. Documents stolen by a former HSBC IT worker in 2007 claimed that HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm helped clients in more than 200 countries evade taxes on accounts containing $119 billion (104 billion euros).

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Proposed Thai laws to enable wider surveillance

    Already criticized for having gone too far in making sure backers of the ousted prime minister never hold power again, Thailand’s junta-ruled government has come up with a set of proposed laws that would restrict even more the use of the Internet on the part of Thai citizens, enable wider surveillance, and raise the penalties against offenders. The proposed laws, in addition to one already in place that is considered one of the most draconian computer crimes acts in the world, are ostensibly designed to integrate the Internet into governance and state business and to modernize the country’s information technology systems.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. PH wants ‘ecosystem accounting’ to gauge sustainable dev’t

    Realizing the that “the GDP fails to measure important things for determining whether the country is on a path toward sustainable development,” the Philippine government has gone for ecosystem accounting, which ensures that natural resources are factored in the development planning and national economic accounts. This is part of the  World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES), for which Manila got a grant of $700,615 to assess the Philippines’ natural wealth, including mangroves and minerals. Stefanie Sieber, an environmental economist at the World Bank Group, said ecosystem accounting is intended to weigh the trade-offs between the economic use of natural resources and the degradation of ecosystem resource.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Celebrities to join French president’s climate change-focused PH visit

    When French President Francois Hollande visits the Philippines from February 26 to 27 to tackle climate change, he will be accompanied by Hollywood actors Jeremy Irons, Marion Cotillard, and Melanie Laurent. His first day includes a meeting with President Benigno Aquino III and a climate change forum. On his second day, he will pay a short visit to Guiuan in Eastern Samar, one of the towns worst hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) in 2013.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Former middleweight champ Anderson Silva tests positive for drugs

    File photo by AFP

    Subjected to drug tests after his loopsided decision victory over Nick Diaz at the Ultimate Fighting Championship 183 last January 31, former middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva turned out positive with 3 prohibited substances: drostanolone, anti-anxiety drug Oxazepam, and anti-anxiety drug Temazepam. All 3 substances are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency code, which is followed by the sanctioning committee of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The Brazilian boxer has been handed a temporary suspension that will require him to attend a future disciplinary hearing, where fines and long-term suspensions will likely be issued.

    Read the full story on Rappler Sports.

  10. Neruda’s remains to return to resting place after poison test

    The remains of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda will be returned to their resting place at Isla Negra on April 8 after tests are completed to find out whether he died of poisoning, a judge ordered. His remains were exhumed upon the request in 2011 of his former driver, who said the poet might have been poisoned by a doctor in a hospital hours before Neruda was to travel to Mexico to rally Chilean opposition there against Augusto Pinochet’s military rule. Before this, authorities had long said the poet died in 1973 of prostate cancer.

    Read the full story on Rappler Life and Style.

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