Rappler Newscast | September 3, 2013

China starts construction in Panatag shoal. Justice Secretary De Lima asks NBI deputies to resign. The UN says over 2 million people flee Syria.

Tonight on Rappler. 

  • China starts construction in Panatag Shoal, an area in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
  • Justice Secretary de Lima asks deputy directors of the National Bureau of Investigation to resign.
  • The United Nations says more than 2 million people have fled Syria.

China starts construction activities in waters off Zambales, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says China has “concrete blocks” in Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal.
He says this is an obvious “prelude to construction.”
Gazmin adds the department also noticed 3 coast guard ships in Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag.
It’s located 124 nautical miles from Zambales, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The Philippine Navy maritime patrol aircraft monitors the area every 3 days.
Showing pictures from the navy as of August 31, Gazmin says it’s the first time the navy monitored concrete blocks.
He adds, “It’s important that we have people stationed there so we can prevent the construction. We don’t have that capability at the moment.”
Gazmin says the Philippines can only file a protest right now.
It can also add to the evidence the Philippines can present before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas to protest China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

The Senate Finance Committee approves the budget of the Office of the President or OP in just about 10 minutes Tuesday.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras did not have a hard time defending the OP’s P2.82 billion budget for 2014.
The figure is higher than the 2013 budget of P2.73 billion.
Only Senate Finance Committee Chairman Francis Escudero was present in the hearing.
Escudero says there are “no issues” with the budget because the lump sum funds are not under the OP.

CHIZ ESCUDERO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: The lump sums are with the Special Purpose Fund, which the DBM will defend. Even the Presidential Social Fund is not with the budget of the President. By tradition, even in the past, Congress usually [extends] courtesy to the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President with respect to their budget and if there are any issues with respect to the administration, it’s addressed to the department and not the office itself.

Minority senators Tito Sotto and JV Ejercito question the speed by which the committee passed the budget.

JV EJERCITO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: If I was given the chance, I would have asked for the intelligence fund, social fund, how it’s being used but we also have to give the president some space. There are things you can’t quantify like calamity.

TITO SOTTO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Most of us have not really studied it yet. One thing I can assure is when we come to plenary we will have time to discuss and ask questions on every department which includes not only the Office of the President but also the entire bureaucracy.

Palace officials explain the breakdown of the OP budget.
Personal Services get P641 million, a 15.9% increase from 2013.
The OP says the increase is due to the creation of the Transition Commission with 60 positions and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary with 62 positions.
Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses get P1.998 billion, a 6.3% increase from 2013.
Capital Outlays get P183 million.
Escudero defends the President’s Social Fund, saying it cannot be considered the President’s pork barrel.
Critics urge Aquino to scrap his own “pork barrel” following the controversy surrounding lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund, where lawmakers allegedly gave their funds to dubious NGOs.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima asks several deputy directors of the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI to submit their courtesy resignations.
The NBI has 6 Deputy Directors.
De Lima appeals to 3 to 4 officials with –quote– “trust issues” to resign out of delicadeza.
She does not name names, but says none of them are working on the case of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Her statement comes days after President Benigno Aquino told reporters certain individuals in the NBI are “less trustworthy” than others.
It also comes a day after NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas submitted his irrevocable resignation.
On Tuesday, NBI Deputy Director for Administrative Services Edmundo Arugay submits a courtesy resignation effective Sept 14.
Arugay is currently on an official mission abroad.
De Lima says she wants to persuade Rojas to stay in the agency.
The NBI is building a case against Janet Lim Napoles and lawmakers for the misuse of their pork barrel.
De Lima says the filing of the cases could be slightly delayed because of Rojas’ resignation.

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad warns Western military strikes risk igniting a “regional war” in the Middle East.
In a newspaper interview, al-Assad warns, “The Middle East is a powder keg, and the fuse is getting shorter.”
He adds, “Everyone will lose control of the situation… Chaos and extremism will spread.”
Assad also says France, which is prepared to back the United States in threatened military strikes against Syria, will face “repercussions.”
al-Assad also denies the Syrian regime is responsible for the alleged chemical attack last month which the US says killed more than 1,400 people.

The United Nations refugee agency says more than 2 million Syrians have now fled their war-torn country, up from the 230,000 refugees registered a year ago.
UN figures show some 4.25 million people are also displaced within Syria.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres describes the situation in Syria as a “disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”
In the past year, almost 1.8 million people have flooded out of Syria, and an average of 5,000 continue to cross into neighboring countries each day.
The massive influx is placing an overwhelming burden on the host countries.

At number 2, Nokia announces it’s selling its mobile phone unit to Microsoft for 5.44 billion euros or 7.2 billion US dollars.
Nokia will grant Microsoft a 10-year non-exclusive license to its patents.
The company will focus on network infrastructure and services, calling it –quote– “the best path forward for Nokia and its shareholders.”
Microsoft and Nokia joined forces about two years ago with handsets powered by Windows Phone software.

At number 7, One of Japan’s two remaining nuclear reactors is taken offline Tuesday, with the other to be shut down Sept 15.
There are no restarts in sight, with public hostility to nuclear power.
The shutdown aims to allow the operator to prepare for inspections mandated within 13 months of the start of commercial operation.
The two reactors were restarted in July 2012,  the only units to be brought back online in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at Fukushima.

And at number 10, 64-year-old Diana Nyad swims into the history books on September 2, after completing a 3-day crossing from Cuba to Florida, becoming the first person to do so without a protective shark cage.
She finishes the 160-kilometer trek in 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds.
A visibly exhausted Nyad tells cheering crowds she completed her quest after 4 previous attempts failed.

Writers are lauded at this year’s Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, adding to the list of luminaries in Philippine literature.
Carol Ramoran reports.

The Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature rolls out its 63rd awards.
The most prestigious award for literature in the country, it’s regarded as the Pulitzer of the Philippines.
Fifty eight of the 1,100 entries were honored Sunday.
Rappler columnist Shakira Sison won the first prize for the Regional Division’s Essay category.
Her essay ‘The Krakauer Table’ delves into her relationship with her father.

SHAKIRA SISON, PALANCA WINNER, 1ST PLACE ESSAY: When I found out I won, I was so happy. ‘Cause I’ve been trying on and off for a while so I was jumping up and down. At first I thought it would be too much of a production to go home for this and then my wife was like – you need to this. It’s something you’ve always wanted. You don’t join this contest every year just because. And finally you got it. Not just third or second place. You have to go.

University of Santo Tomas Professor Eros Atalia bagged the grand prize for the Nobela category in Filipino for ‘Tatlong Gabi, Tatlong Araw’.
This is Atalia’s second Palanca.
He published a couple of books, one of them turned into a movie.

EROS ATALIA, PALANCA GRAND PRIZE WINNER, NOBELA: Natutuwa ako kasi nakita siguro ng mga judges yung pagtatangka ko na may bagong putahe na iooffer tungkol sa pagkkwento sa horror. (I’m happy because the judges probably saw that I was trying to offer something new in the realm of writing horror stories.)

The late Carlos Palanca was a patron of the arts and educational institutions.
Held every year, Palanca organizers maintain a high level of integrity in selecting winning entries.
All work are submitted anonymously and thoroughly screened by the country’s toughest judges for literature.
Organizers say winning a Palanca is just the beginning.

ATTY. CHRISTINE QUIRINO-PACHECO, PALANCA 1ST DEP. DIRECTOR GENERAL: We expect the writers to take up our challenge, write and not only write but share it – share it to everyone. We are now in the digital age. We have the internet. That’s why we’re challenging everybody. We’re just the spark.

Carol Ramoran, Rappler Manila.


Newscast production staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona

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