Rappler Newscast | December 18, 2012

President Aquino creates the Transition Commission to write the Bangsamoro Basic Law. | The government’s disaster bureau wants 2013 elections postponed in areas devastated by typhoon Pablo. | The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines blames the approval of the RH bill on Palace intervention.

Today on Rappler.

  • President Aquino creates the Transition Commission to write the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
  • The government’s disaster bureau wants 2013 elections postponed in areas devastated by typhoon Pablo.
  • The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines blames the approval of the RH bill on Palace intervention.

President Benigno Aquino signs Executive Order 120 on Monday creating the Transition Commission that will write the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are drafting annexes on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization that will complete the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The latest round of peace talks ends Sunday with a “technical impasse” over whether the MILF should lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
The BTA is the body that would lead the transition toward a Bangsamoro political identity.
Government peace panel chair Miriam Ferrer says delays in the drafting of annexes will not have a significant impact on the peace process.
She adds, the tasks of the Transition Commission are separate from the process involving the crafting of the Comprehensive Agreement.

The 2013 polls are 5 months away, but the government’s disaster bureau says areas devastated by Typhoon Pablo may not be ready to vote by May 13, 2013.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council urges the Commission on Elections to postpone the polls in Pablo-stricken areas.
NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos says Comelec should assess affected areas to see if a postponement is appropriate.
Based on the NDRRMC’s Tuesday update, at least 6 provinces remain under a state of calamity because of Pablo.
The 6 affected provinces have 2.13 million voters based on 2010 election records.
The typhoon kills more than a thousand and affects 6.2 million people.
Damaged infrastructure includes at least 385 schools.
Comelec uses classrooms as voting precincts on election day.

Typhoon Pablo devastated the country despite early warning systems like Noah.
Officials explain these systems will only work if the most important factor– the people– are prepared.  
KD Suarez reports.

Days before it made landfall, Pablo was a closely monitored system, picking up strength and speed as it crossed the ocean.

MAHAR LAGMAY, DIRECTOR, PROJECT NOAH: For this year, it was the strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines, among the 16 that already hit our country, and it really packed strong winds, and a lot of rain.

It was also an unusual storm.

DR GEMMA NARISMA, HEAD, REGIONAL CLIMATE SYSTEMS, MANILA OBSERVATORY: Historical records – if indeed it is the first time it has happened… One thing’s for sure: that particular path, that area of Mindanao is an area not hit very often by typhoons.

When it came ashore on December 4, people along the typhoon’s path, not used to strong storms, were caught by surprise.

DR GEMMA NARISMA, HEAD, REGIONAL CLIMATE SYSTEMS, MANILA OBSERVATORY: We’re having a typhoon IN TAGUM, and that’s unimaginable for him, even if he has experienced typhoons in Metro Manila in the past. To put it in the context of being in Davao, it became more difficult to grasp.

The typhoon left a trail of destruction, despair, and death.
The government says it had sufficient preparation and gave the people enough warnings before the typhoon came ashore. But experts say, these are not enough.
No amount of warning can help if a community isn’t prepared beforehand.

MAHAR LAGMAY, DIRECTOR, PROJECT NOAH: It’s not enough for people to know when the floods will come, to get advance warning of a coming flood. If they don’t know where to go, where the safe places are and where the dangerous places are, they won’t be safe.

Experts add, hazard maps, typhoon warnings, and other precautions are useless if exposure and vulnerability of people and communities are not considered.

DR GEMMA NARISMA, HEAD, REGIONAL CLIMATE SYSTEMS, MANILA OBSERVATORY: The hazard (maps) by itself, incomplete siya without, ang palagi nga naming ine-emphasize – knowing exposures and vulnerability…That tells you right away that the equation is not solely the hazard, the warning, the typhoon. When you talk about disasters, you still have the people.

Government projects, such as project Noah and the improved warning systems devised by PAGASA, are a step in the right direction –  but it is just the beginning.

ANTONIA YULO-LOYZAGA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MANILA OBSERVATORY: The government has decided that it wants to really deal with disaster management as part of its overall development strategy, and I believe the first leg has been really trying to improve the hazard detection and analysis. However, it should really not end there.

Disaster mitigation experts say knowing who and which places are vulnerable to disasters is key.
The question is: will these lessons be put into practice in time for the next catastrophe.
KD Suarez, Rappler, Manila.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines says the Reproductive Health bill was approved because of the Palace’s “apparent intervention.”
CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chair Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes says the “no” votes would have won if the Palace did not interfere.
Reyes says some anti-RH lawmakers began to support the measure after the luncheon President Aquino organized to break the impasse on the RH bill.
Reyes adds, “The executive department itself became the corruptor of our congressmen…by [saying] pork barrel funds will not be given if they don’t vote for the RH bill.”
By voting to approve the RH bill, Congress moves the measure closer to becoming a law.

Philippine National Police Deputy Director General Alan Purisima becomes the new PNP chief Tuesday, replacing outgoing PNP head Nicanor Bartolome.
In a turnover ceremony, he asks policemen involved in corruption to leave the service.
Purisima focuses on the PNP’s alleged involvement in the illegal numbers game, jueteng.
In his first speech as PNP chief, he says, “Those involved in corruption, get out now.”
On Friday, the PNP is implicated in another jueteng controversy after Pangasinan Mayor Rodrigo Orduna said PNP officers protected jueteng in the province.

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye dies Monday night — Tuesday in Manila — of respiratory problems after spending weeks in a hospital.
Inouye, 88, is the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, never losing an election in 58 years of service.
He is also a world war two hero and the highest ranking Asian-American politician in Washington D.C.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario mourns the loss of -quote- a “true friend” and “invaluable champion” of the Philippines in U.S. politics.
Del Rosario adds that “Senator Inouye steadfastly advanced Philippine interests and was instrumental in increasing US military and development assistance to the Philippines.”
U.S. President Barack Obama says the country has lost “a true American hero.”
Inouye represented Hawaii in the U.S. Congress since the state entered the union in 1959.
His last word was “aloha.”

A US-based astrophysicist says Monday the satellite launched last week by North Korea appears to be ‘dead’ because no signal can be detected.
The United States and its Asian allies acknowledge North Korea succeeded Wednesday in putting an object into orbit that the communist state says is observing the Earth and airing patriotic songs.
Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says the satellite is clearly in orbit but no songs could be heard.
He says, “To the best of our knowledge, the satellite isn’t operating.”

At number 8, The 1996 massacre of 16 kids aged 5 and 6 in the tranquil Scottish town of Dunblane may provide some insights to the recent mass killing of children in Connecticut, US.
After the Dunblane gun violence, Britain passed the Firearms Amendment Act 1988, making registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.
UK lawmakers also passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain.
The British public generally supported the ban saying they saw no need for guns.

At number 9, US President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner meet at the White House to find a way to avoid the “fiscal cliff.
In a Monday meeting, Boehner offers to accept raising tax rates for those earning more than one million dollars a year.
Boehner wants the White House to agree to one trillion dollars of spending cuts.
A deal must be reached by January one, or a combination of steep tax rises and sharp spending cuts will take effect.

And at number 10, Whether or not you remember your first tweet, it seems we will have the ability to revisit everything you’ve ever said on Twitter soon.
The microblogging site is testing a new service to let users archive tweets since they joined Twitter.
Technology site the Next Web reports the test is active for a -quote- “very small percentage” of users.

In the sport of shooting, men typically dominate the competition.
But that’s changing, and one Filipina is calling the shots.
Katherine Visconti reports.

Grace Tan doesn’t always tell new guys she meets what she does.
She says she doesn’t want to scare them away.
Tan is one of the top shooters in the Philippines and among the top female shooters in the world.
She’s used to beating men in local competitions.

KATHERINE VISCONTI: How do the men respond when you beat them?
GRACE TAN, PROFESSIONAL SHOOTER: They really admire you know but you can feel the guys always threatened when you’re around. They watch you.

Even if some male shooters seem threatened initially, they say they are proud of her when she wins medals internationally.
In 2007 the ace shooter bested the reigning female world champion from Austria in the International European Hand Gun Championship.

RYAN REMIGIO, VP, MARCOS COMBAT SHOOTERS: Especially if they compete outside and go out of the country, it’s prestige.

At 5 foot 3 inches, the 36 year old says she’s not the strongest nor the fastest on the shooting range.
But she makes up for these disadvantages with fluid motions that let her quickly move around the course with precision.

KATHERINE VISCONTI, REPORTING: Looking around it’s not hard to see this a sport dominated by men. But there are several promising women like Grace Tan who are making their mark.

The Philippine Practical Shooting Association says about 6% of its active members are women.
But the group says more women are taking up the sport every year.

KATHERINE VISCONTI: What would you tell other women who are thinking of taking up the sport but may worry they are entering a man’s world?
GRACE TAN: Don’t be scared. It’s nice to enter into a man’s world and you excel.

She says for shooters of any gender, success boils down to hard work.

GRACE TAN: Within yourself if you really want to excel, you really want to learn something, you focus, you go into it. For me, I don’t go out much. I know if I have a practice the next day, I sleep early, exercise, train well. The discipline is there.  

In-between training, Tan helps manage her family’s gun store.
She’s come a long way tagging along with her dad, carrying his equipment.
She plans to compete in more international competitions where she can make a name as a Filipino female shooter.
Katherine Visconti, Rappler Manila.