Rappler Newscast | December 3, 2012

Typhoon Pablo maintains its strength as it heads toward Surigao and Davao. | President Aquino wants Lower House to vote on the RH bill. | FOI bill supporters urge President Aquino to certify the bill as urgent.

Today on Rappler.

  • Typhoon Pablo maintains its strength as it heads toward Surigao and Davao.
  • President Aquino wants the House of Representatives to vote on the Reproductive Health bill.
  • Supporters of the Freedom of Information bill urge President Aquino to certify the bill as urgent.

Typhoon Pablo, international name Bopha, maintains its strength and is now headed for Davao Oriental as well as Surigao.
5 more high-risk areas are now under signal number 3.
The typhoon packs maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers-per-hour and gusts of up to 210 kilometers-per-hour and is moving West-Northwest at 26 kilometers-per-hour.
Public storm signal number 3 is raised over Surigao del Norte including Siargao, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte including Samal Island.
Signal number 2 is raised over Southern Leyte, Bohol, Southern Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte.
And, signal number 1 is up over Northern Palawan including the Calamian group of islands and Cuyo Island, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte including Biliran, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Cebu including Camotes Island, Zamboanga del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and South Cotabato.
PAGASA warns people in coastal areas under storm signals #3 and #2 to expect big waves and storm surges.
President Benigno Aquino tells the public Monday: follow the government’s advisory and evacuate as needed.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Hindi po biro ang potensyal na pinsalang dulot nitong bagyong si ‘Pablo’. Tinataya po na siya ang pinakamalakas na bagyong papasok sa ating bansa ngayong 2012. Intense rainfall po ang dulot ng bagyong ito. Hindi po biro itong bagyong parating pero handa na po ang gobyerno. Inaasahan po natin ang kooperasyon ng lahat para maiwasan ang kapahamakan ninuman.

Pablo will be in Cagayan de Oro by Tuesday afternoon.
It is expected to be 110 kilometers Southwest of Iloilo City, and 330 kilometers West of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro by Thursday afternoon.

President Aquino wants the House of Representatives to vote on the Reproductive Health bill this week.
Aquino meets with at least 170 members Monday to break the deadlock on the controversial measure.
The president favors the bill but says he will let lawmakers vote according to their conscience.
Ifugao Rep Teddy Baguilat tells Rappler Aquino wants a decision from the House to allow the Senate to discuss the bill and act on it.
Deputy Majority Leader Marikina Rep Romero Quimbo quotes Aquino as saying, if he were in Congress, he would vote in favor of the bill.
Quimbo adds, “[Aquino] asked that the vote be done,
because it is time to set aside the divisive issue.”

HIV cases in the Philippines are rising at an alarming rate. Local and international agencies unveil a plan to curb its spread.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

When it comes to HIV prevention, the Philippines is going against the world-wide trend and lagging behind its Asian neighbors.
In 2011, five million people were living with HIV in the Asia and Pacific region.
Countries like India, Myanmar and Thailand — where the number of infected people are highest — have reduced new infections by more than 50% in the past decade.
The number of new infections here has risen by at least 25% from 2001-2011.
The Department of Health estimates about 9 new cases of HIV a day.
ADB Vice President Stephen Groff says the World Bank and the Department of Health are working together on an HIV prevention program that will concentrate on big cities in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

STEPHEN GROFF, ADB VICE PRESIDENT: It will focus on high quality services provision, providing information to targeted groups, and advocacy among key holders.

According to the DOH, trends have changed in the Philippines.
From predominantly females, most of those infected are now men, specifically men who have sex with other men.
Factors that caused the rise of numbers in the Philippines include poverty, minimal condom use and lack of information.
DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag says they know the root of the problem.
Now, intervention is essential.

ENRIQUE TAYAG, DOH ASSISTANT SECRETARY: We know now where the problem lies. Next, we need investments… we invest in prevention, in strengthening health systems and more for treatment, care and support if needed.

There are about 21,000 Filipinos estimated to be living with HIV.
The number may reach 40,000 in 2015.
The good news is, the government and development agencies understand the problem, and are acting now.
The goal of the Asian Development Bank is getting to zero. Zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero aids related deaths.
Analysts believe the virus can be erased completely, but emphasize the need to scale up interventions, challenge the stigma around it, and encourage public debate.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler.

Freedom of Information Bill supporters urge President Aquino to certify it urgent.
They also call on both houses of Congress to immediately tackle the bill in plenary.
The Right To Know, Right Now coalition says putting it on high priority will –quote,
“save it the delay from the interval of days needed in passing bills on second and third readings.”
Congress will take its Christmas break in 3 weeks.
With the campaign period coming up, attendance will be a problem in 2013.
President Aquino did not include the bill in his priority list.

The Commission on Elections says it will bar the party-list group of actor Willie Revillame from running in the 2013 elections.
The group 1 Wil Serve is among 32 party-list groups in Comelec’s latest batch of disqualified party-list applicants.
The group did not file a motion for reconsideration.
Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento says the group has no track record in representing the marginalized.

In the Philippines, guns represent power. And in Philippine politics, shooting buddies can translate to alliances.
Katherine Visconti reports.

Professional shooting attracts an elite crowd, among them powerful politicians which include,
President Aquino, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Congressman Jack Enrile.
The most important local gun competition this year is the Senator Bongbong Marcos Cup, named after the son of the former Philippine dictator. Many of the courses are sponsored by members of powerful political families.
An Ateneo sociologist says guns represent power.

LESLIE LOPEZ, SOCIOLOGIST: For these people that actually seek it out maybe because of the recreation and maybe to a certain degree the power that it symbolizes.

For politicians and non-politicians, the sport also fosters camaraderie.
Shooting friendships can translate to big alliances off the course.
The President stood up for his shooting buddies when they were under fire including former Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, political advisor Ronald Llamas, and Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres.
Senator Marcos says politicians liking guns is only a coincidence.

SEN. BONGBONG MARCOS, CHAIR, MARCOS COMBAT SHOOTERS: It has nothing to do with politicians, it has to do with Filipinos. Filipino guys like guns, we like to shoot.

Guns are common in the Philippines.
A 2009 paper by the Philippine Center for Transnational Crimes found that there is 1 gun for every 51 Filipinos, or at least 2 guns for every family clan.
Civilians own 2/3rds of all legal guns, more guns than the police and military combined.
The Philippines isn’t that far away from the United States for deaths related to gun violence.
A sociologist from University of the Philippines explains, guns spread in Philippine society because many believe they can’t rely on institutions.

JOSEPHINE DIONISIO, SOCIOLOGIST: It’s not genetic, it’s not cultural, it’s not in our blood. The persistence of violence is rooted in the institutions that have been built.

Professional shooters point out hobbyists are not the problem– it’s unlicensed gun owners.  

MAYOR MICHAEL FARIÑAS, GUN ENTHUSIAST: In fact they don’t use licensed guns, they don’t follow the rules, they don’t follow the law. That’s why there is a saying that only outlaws will have guns.

Farinas and Marcos both acknowledge some politicians have guns for defense.
But both insist there is a clear line between those who use guns in competitions and those who commit violent crimes.

SEN. BONGBONG MARCOS, GUN ENTHUSIAST: We’re looking to play this game and have fun with each other and maybe win a trophy or two along the way to have bragging rights. The sport helps you train for the life threatening situation but they’re different things all together. I don’t want to fight with anyone, I will run away if I can.

Marcos may be willing to run away from a fight, but he says he wouldn’t run away from a shooting date with the president.
Aquino and Marcos’s political parties formed an alliance this year but the two are not exactly friends.
Marcos’ father Ferdinand Marcos imprisoned Noynoy’s father Benigno Aquino during martial law.

SEN. BONGBONG MARCOS, CHAIR, MARCOS COMBAT SHOOTERS: Sure, why not. When I’m shooting i’m happy it doesn’t matter who is there.
KATHERINE VISCONTI: Given that your fathers were political rivals, what do you think people would think?
BONGBONG MARCOS: They’d be surprised that we are not shooting at each other because everybody wants us to be fighting. The press always say we’re fighting. We’re not fighting. As far as I know if we go to a range and we go shooting, that’s it. There’s no big meaning or deep analysis, it’s just a sport.

Marcos and Aquino– separated by politics and history.
But guns and the politics of accommodation bring them together.   
Marcos and Aquino are an unlikely shooting pair. But in a country where many politicians are willing to overlook the past to make politics in the present run smoothly, we can’t count it out. We aren’t sure if the shooting date will happen but it definitely would be fun to watch.
Katherine Visconti, Rappler, Paoay Ilocos Norte.

The US economy faces a looming ‘fiscal cliff’ of rapid contraction if Democrats and Republicans fail to agree on new tax measures and budget cuts.
But Harvard economist James Robinson is optimistic that the US congress will strike a deal before the December 31 deadline.
Robinson, author of the book ‘Why Nations Fail’, is in Manila to speak to the Aquino cabinet about inclusive economic growth.
He says middle income countries – not the poorest of the poor – could be affected if both political parties fail to reach a compromise.
But Robinson remains confident this will not happen.

JAMES ROBINSON, ECONOMIST AND AUTHOR OF ‘WHY NATIONS FAIL’: I’m sure at the last minute, there’s a compromise. It’s happened many times. If you look at the last decade, every year, there’s a crisis like this and it goes down to the wire and then they make an agreement.

Watch the full interview with James Robinson on Talk Thursday, December 6 on Rappler.com.

Representatives from 25 nations bordering the Pacific Ocean are meeting in Manila to set new rules for tuna fishing in the high seas.
The 9th regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commissions opened its annual meeting Sunday,
with conservation measures high on the agenda.
Environmental NGO Greenpeace says the world’s tuna stock is in critical condition.

KARLI THOMAS, OCEANS CAMPAIGNER, GREENPEACE: Globally, the gist of the issue is that there’s too many vessels chasing fewer and fewer fish. It’s been a particular case in point with the plight of tuna stocks around the world. So we’ve got some tuna stocks that have been brought to a level that the stock is critically endangered. 95% has been wiped out.

In 2008, the fisheries commission imposed a limited ban on tuna fishing in selected pockets for four years to stop the decline of harvested tuna.
The commission also gave the Philippines a special exemption.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala says he expects the Philippines to retain its exemption because the government is serious in implementing laws and conservation efforts.
The Philippines is one of the world’s leading tuna catchers, with 284 million US dollars in export revenues in 2011.  

At least nine people died after a Japanese road tunnel collapsed Sunday, burying at least three vehicles and sparking a fire.
Concrete ceiling panels crash down inside the five-kilometer Sasago tunnel along the Chuo highway, 80 kilometers west of Tokyo.
Investigators believe decaying ceiling supports may have caused the disaster.
An official from highways operator NEXCO says there is still a risk of further collapse, although the ceiling was inspected in September.

At number 4, the 85-year old Pope Benedict XVI officially launches his own Twitter account to send short messages on faith and inspire Catholic followers online.
CNN reports the pope will compose the tweets himself and press the send button for the first tweet.
Others will send the tweets on his behalf in the succeeding posts.
Behind this move are Greg Burke, a former journalist now working at the Vatican, and Claire Díaz-Ortiz, who heads social innovation at Twitter and has been influential in getting religious leaders to join the social networking site.

At number 9, The “departure list” at News Corp. just got longer.
The resignation of Tom Mockridge, CEO of News International, is announced Monday, over a year after he replaced Rebekah Brooks in July 2011.
Brooks resigned after another News International newspaper, the now closed News of the World, became embroiled in a phone-hacking debacle.
News International is the UK newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch’s beleaguered media empire.

And at number 10, Conservationists claim they were successful in ending the Indian industry of street-dancing sloth bears, a tradition of the Muslim Kalandar tribe that dates back to the 13th century.
Behind this is a long-term effort of providing alternative livelihood to the tribesmen who buy bear cubs from poachers.
The bear trainer threads a rope through the cubs’ snouts and brings the bears to the streets where onlookers pay a few rupees to watch the bears sway and jump around.


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