Rappler Newscast | March 7, 2013

PH calls for release of 21 peacekeepers in Syria, Malaysia rejects Kiram's ceasefire offer, Sex abuse victims blacklist papal candidates

Today on Rappler.

  • The Philippines calls for the release of 21 Filipino peacekeepers abducted by Syrian rebels.
  • Malaysia rejects a ceasefire offeR by the Sultan of Sulu unless his fighters in Sabah surrender.
  • A group for clergy sex abuse victims blacklists 12 papal candidates.

The Philippines calls for the immediate release of the 21 Filipino peacekeepers taken hostage by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario says the government’s main concern is the safety of the peacekeepers.
He adds, “The apprehension and illegal detention of the Filipino peacekeepers are gross violations of international law.”
The Filipino peacekeepers — 18 soldiers and 3 officers — are assigned to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights to monitor a ceasefire between Syria and Israel.
About 30 armed fighters kidnap the Filipinos inside the ceasefire zone.
A rebel spokesman says the troops will be held until the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pull back from a Golan village.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon demands the Syrian government and rebels respect “UNDOF’s freedom of movement and security.”
President Benigno Aquino says he received information the peacekeepers are “treated well” and may be released as early as Thursday afternoon.

Malaysia’s defense minister rejects a ceasefire offer by Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III unless his fighters surrender.
In a tweet, Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says: “A unilateral ceasefire is not accepted by Malaysia unless the militants surrender unconditionally.”
He adds: “Don’t believe the ceasefire offer by Jamalul Kiram. In the interest of Sabahans and all Malaysians, wipe out all the militants first.”
In a press conference Thursday, the Kiram family declares a ceasefire to “avoid more bloodshed and crimes” against Filipinos in the area.
Kiram’s spokesman Abraham Idjirani says the sultan’s followers will not take any action and will stay wherever they are now.
Kiram’s announcement comes two days after Malaysian security forces launched bombing raids in Lahad Datu, where more than 200 armed followers of the sultan arrived to assert an ancestral claim over Sabah.
Malaysian police say shootouts between the Filipino group and Malaysian forces leave 60 people dead.
Police say 52 are from the Filipino group.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls for “dialogue among all parties” for a peaceful resolution of the standoff.

The Sabah conflict has claimed lives of both Filipinos and Malaysians. It has been the headline the past days but has it had much effect on Filipinos in Metro Manila?
Katherine Visconti reports.

KATHERINE VISCONTI, REPORTING: A sultan, conspiracy theories and a vow to fight to the death. Here in the financial capital of the Philippines, it sounds far fetched.
But across the country a Filipino sultan is waging war on Malaysia.
The sultan’s self-styled royal army– a band of about 180 people- invaded Sabah.
They were staking their historical claim to the resource rich state at the northern tip of Borneo and the south of Palawan about the size of Ireland.
It reflects poorly on both country’s top leaders during election season.
But do Filipinos here in the capital of the Philippines even care?
KATHERINE VISCONTI: Why do you care about this?
JAY CASIO, GLOBE TELECOM CONTRACTOR: Most Filipino people say Sabah belongs to Filipinos because the sultanate from Malaysia gave the Sabah to the Filipino sultanate.
KATHERINE VISCONTI: Do you think the government is doing enough?
JOMMEL HERNANDEZ, TELEPHONE TECHNICIAN: I think the government still isn’t doing enough. I think President Aquino needs to be more aggressive. He should pay more attention to Sabah.

Supreme Court spokesman Atty. Theodore Te speaks about challenges facing the Court under its first female chief justice, Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
After being appointed in August, Sereno called for a return to the “dignified days of silence” when justices were only heard through their decisions.
In a Thought Leaders piece for Rappler, Te says the judiciary needs silence to ensure the Court’s “insulation from undue pressure.”

ATTY. THEODORE TE, SC SPOKESMAN: It’s becoming clear that in terms of the public engagement on political issues, on economic issues, on governance issues, the court needs the detachment, needs the space to be able to think…and then come up with a decision in the proper case. And that’s where that silence helps.

But Te acknowledges there is also a need to reach out to the public.
He says the Chief Justice has two roles: an adjudicator and an administrator.

MARIA RESSA: You want dignified silence to buffer the court so it can make its decisions but at the same time you want to reach out the public so the public can understand the court. How will you do this?

THEODORE TE: It’s important that the people understand that there is a Chief Justice and there are 14 other Justices, okay, who comprise one court. And that court is supposed to speak as one using its decisions, okay. So in that sense, the Chief Justice as an adjudicator should be read not heard. The Chief Justice is an administrator as well…So she has to deal with judges, she has to deal with the entire judicial bureaucracy so it’s important that she’s heard there.

President Benigno Aquino has plans for two retiring allies in the Senate.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Kiko Pangilinan will end their Senate terms by June.
In an ambush interview in Davao City, Aquino says he wants Lacson to become his administration’s “fireman,” who will look into government’s potential problems before they blow out of proportion.
Lacson was chief of the national police before he became a senator.
As senator, he is also known for his exposés.
Aquino says Pangilinan will focus on the agricultural sector, one of the Aquino administration’s priorities.

Small and Medium enterprises are invigorating the economy.
The youth, eager to carve their own path, are on the forefront of the revolution.
Devon Wong reports.

With GDP and consumer spending on the rise, young people aren’t planning to sit on the sidelines.

RACHEL DAVIS, CO-FOUNDER OF HOMEGROWN MAGAZINE: Striking while the iron is hot! It really is. Starting my own SME before and seeing all these other small businesses pop up now, I really think there’s kind of an SME revolution.

Rachel is one of a growing number of young entrepreneurs who are paving the way for other aspiring business owners. She runs a web magazine with how-to articles and workshops.
Young entrepreneurs are a rising demographic. Many are choosing the less conventional route over corporate ambitions.

FRANCESCA ZIMMER-SANTOS, ENTREPRENEUR: Maybe 10-15 years ago, it was expected of someone who just graduated from university to go work for a large corporation and I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

Youth are more attracted to the idea of being their own bosses and working alongside other young and energetic business owners.

RON REYES, ENTREPRENEUR: Well we all have day jobs, the owners; it was more of doing something together because we were all friends, and the common factor is that we’re looking for a business.

Ron Reyes launched a mobile coffee company with his friends last year.  The idea came naturally, but setting up the business was a slow brew.

RON REYES, ENTREPRENEUR: It was harder than we thought. On paper it might be easy when you’re gonna think about it, I need this I need that, but the process is really challenging.

One of the biggest challenges facing young entrepreneurs is finding a support network to share experiences and guide each other through the process of setting up a new business.
But it’s a challenge that’s been met by its own group of innovating entrepreneurs.

FRANCESCA ZIMMER-SANTOS, CO-FOUNDER OF co.lab: How to begin, where do I find the right partners, and who to collaborate with at the end of the day. Because they need to work with other people to get their businesses off the ground.

Francesca’s business is one that helps other aspiring business owners through a co working and networking space.  She says the effect is not only practical, but inspiring.

FRANCESCA ZIMMER-SANTOS: I would say that at least working here, there’s definitely a lot of hope and a sense of progress and development. And I feel like people are a lot more empowered to do things on their own.

Entrepreneurs and freelancers can connect and work alongside each other through challenges that can otherwise be lonely and frustrating in the digital age.

BANJO ALBANO, ENTREPRENEUR: At least here you can connect with different people, different personalities, from different industries, possibly collaborate.

In the early stages of setting up a new venture, the uncharted territory can be daunting for young entrepreneurs.
But there’s value in sharing space, ideas and motivation.
It may be a competitive market, but collaboration might be the key.
Devon Wong, Rappler, Manila.

At number 7, Egypt’s administrative court cancels parliamentary elections scheduled for April 22, throwing the country deeper into political crisis.
A judge says President Mohamed Morsi ratified a new electoral law last month without sending it to the Supreme Constitutional Court for approval.

At number 8, Scientists say the subatomic particle discovered last year is looking –quote “more and more” like it could be the elusive Higgs boson.
The particle is believed to explain why matter has mass.
But scientists are still trying to determine if the particle has spin-zero, which will allow it to be known as a Higgs.

And at number 10, Pavel Dmitrichenko, a soloist of the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, admits he was involved in the acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin.
Moscow police say he signed a written confession, along with other suspects.
The police say Dmitrichenko masterminded the attack in January.
His accomplice, Yury Zarutsky, flung acid into Filin’s face.
Filin, a former Bolshoi star dancer himself who became artistic director, is fighting for his eyesight and risks permanent facial disfigurement.

Clergy sex abuse victims on Wednesday release a “dirty dozen” list of potential papal candidates.
The US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests urges the Church to “get serious” about protecting children and exposing corruption.
The organization cites a dozen cardinals — 3 from the United States and nine from other countries.
The cardinals are accused of protecting pedophile priests and making offensive public statements related to the abuse scandals.
They are all considered to be contenders to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.
The group also opposes electing any member of the administrative branch of the Holy See, saying this would discourage victims from reporting abuse.


Newscast production staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro

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