Rappler Newscast | May 1, 2012

The US insists it won’t take sides in the territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila. US President Barack Obama refuses to confirm if an escaped Chinese dissident is hiding in its Beijing Embassy. And, the ILO says the 2008 global crisis weakened employee protection in 40 countries.


Today on Rappler:

  • Despite agreeing to strengthen maritime security in Philippine waters, the US insists it won’t take sides in the dispute between Beijing and Manila.
  • US President Barack Obama refuses to confirm if an escaped Chinese dissident is hiding in its Beijing Embassy.
  • And, the International Labor Organization says the 2008 global crisis weakened employee protection in 40 countries.

The Philippines and the US agree to strengthen maritime defense in Philippine waters in talks in Washington.
The agreement comes in the middle of a standoff between Beijing and Manila over the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
In historic bilaterals dubbed 2+2, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin meet with counterparts US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta in Washington.
Clinton clarifies the US government does not take sides in sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea, but it does have an interest in ensuring freedom of navigation in the sea lanes in the region.
The Philippines laments the poor state of its armed forces and appeals for US help in building a “minimum credible defense.”

Only a few months ago an international news agency had described our defense capabilities as quote-unquote “notoriously dillapidated”… It sounds terribly painful for the Philippines but more painful is the fact that this is true, and we only have ourselves to blame for it. For the Philippines to be minimally relied upon as a US regional partner as we are by far the weakest link in the security chain it therefore behooves us to resort to all possible means to build at the very least a most minimal credible defense posture.”


The Philippines and China both assert territorial rights over the Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea, with ships from both nations stationed there for nearly three weeks.
The Philippines says the shoal falls well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, recognized by international law.

President Barack Obama refuses to say if Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is hiding in the US Embassy in Beijing, but did say human rights is a prime concern in Chinese-US relations.

Obama says he “is not going to make a statement on the issue” but adds that every time the US meets with China, human rights comes up.

Chen is a blind, self-taught lawyer, who defended village women from forced abortion. He was jailed on allegedly trumped up charges and later placed under house arrest.

In a dramatic escape, he evaded dozens of guards with the help of supporters and fled to Beijing. He later recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family.

A fellow dissident says that Chen is hiding in the US embassy in Beijing but is not seeking asylum abroad.

It’s clear people lost jobs after the global economic crisis. What’s not so clear until now is that some of those who kept their jobs also felt its impact – as countries around the world modified laws that protect employees.

In its 2012 “World of Work” report released on Labor Day, the International Labor Organization says 40 out of 131 countries changed their laws for permanent employees.

At least 60% of the changes reduced employment protection through increased probationary periods, expanded grounds for justified dismissal, and reduced severance pay, weakening the remedies in the case of unfair dismissal.

The ILO adds the dominant form of employment also changed within the period of the global crisis, from March 2008 to 2012. The institute says “precarious employment”— jobs with unsafe working conditions, lack job security and offer poor compensation– has increased. Precarious employment includes part-time and temporary jobs.

Story 4: TERROR
A year after Osama bin Laden’s death, American and European authorities fear al Qaeda may try to bomb U.S.-bound aircraft with explosives hidden inside the bodies of terrorists.

Medical experts say there is plenty of room in the stomach area of the body for surgically implanted explosives.

Anti-terror experts say al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate and its master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been designing body bombs with no metal parts to evade airport security. Asiri placed a bomb inside the rectal cavity of his own brother for a suicide mission in 2009. That bomb exploded prematurely killing his brother.

Asiri is also believed to be responsible for the “underwear bomb” that was used in an attempt to take down Northwest flight 253 in Christmas 2009, and for the “printer bombs” in the failed cargo bomb plot of 2010.

Some of the most read and most shared articles on our Palarong Pambansa microsite are Rappler’s stories on the martial arts arnis.

Arnis became a national sport in 2009. It is called an indigenous Filipino martial art and sport although it’s origins are unclear. One theory says our ancestors used sticks to practice wielding swords and bolos because weapons were banned in Luzon and Visayas during the Spanish colonial period.

The Department of Education hopes arnis in Palarong Pambansa will drive interest in the sport.

(Video of arnis enthusiasts runs.)

Former beauty queen Miriam Quiambao apologizes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender or LGBT community for her comments on TV and online, on sexuality and religion.
Quiambao was a guest panelist in ABS-CBN’s Bottomline while Bemz Benedicto of Ladlad Partylist was the main guest. Ladlad Partylist is a gay rights group.

Quiambao said, “God made us all for a purpose. And I don’t understand why God made him that way,” She said referring to Benedicto. “I feel, though, that in my knowledge of God, God never makes mistakes and He’s not a liar. So however He made him, that’s who he really is.”

She adds “I feel, though, that in my knowledge of God, God never makes mistakes and He’s not a liar.” Quiambao did not stop there.

After the show, she said on Twitter, “Homosexuality is not a sin but it is a lie from the devil. Do not be deceived. God loves gays and wants them to know the truth. Homosexuality is not a sin but a lie from the devil. Do not be deceived.”

Her tweets were criticized online.

Singer-songwriter Jim Paredes says “LGBTs are God’s children too” while singer Lea Salonga says “Being gay is not a choice. If you are, you were created gay, by God.”

No offense to the LGBT but the Truth is the Truth that comes from God. Take it or leave it. We will all face the judgement seat of God.

Quiambao later apologizes to the LGBT community promising to be more sensitive.


The Philippines releases a long-awaited tv ad campaign that aims to continue and expand the tourism campaign it began in January on social media.
Aired on CNN this week – “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”– the video,  has moved to the internet and social networks.
The ad ends with a call for viewers to own it and continue its social media evolution.
Despite the enthusiastic online response for the campaign’s initial salvo, internet critics say the quality of the video version is not up to international standards.

Story 8: THE wRap

Let’s now look at Rappler’s “wRap” for today, a list of the ten most important news around the world you shouldn’t miss.

Number 5 looks at the political drama in Myanmar where Aung San Suu Kyi ends the stand-off with the military junta over a controversial oath she felt gave inordinate power to Myanmar’s military. She and her party join Parliament on Wednesday.

For number 6, we recommend the story on the Philippines’s coming out party  – the first time in 22 years it hosts the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told Rappler the country is poised for sustained growth after fundamental reforms for good governance were set in place last year.  

For number 7, we look at Microsoft’s purchase of Barnes & Noble’s e-books business and reader, Nook, for $300M.  Barnes & Noble stocks skyrocketed 95% Monday before the markets even opened. This ends a long patent dispute between the two and unites them against Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad.


We leave you with images for Labor Day – KALAW, a Rappler short story by Patricia Evangelista.

(Excerpts of the documentary, “Kalaw” runs.)