Rappler Newscast | September 1, 2014

Rappler Newscast | September 1, 2014
Filipino peacekeepers escape Al Qaeda allies in Syria. Senators grill transport officials on Metro Manila’s railway system. Hong Kong activists call for civil disobedience against China

Today on Rappler.

  • Filipino peacekeepers escape Al Qaeda allies in Syria.
  • Senators grill transport officials on Metro Manila’s railway system.
  • Democracy activists in Hong Kong call for civil disobedience against China.

The crisis is over for Filipinos in the Golan Heights.
The standoff between the peacekeepers and Al-Nusra Front ended midnight Sunday – 5 am Manila time.
Al-Nusra is a group allied with Al Qaeda.  
Under cover of darkness, about 40 Filipino soldiers evacuated Position 68 and walked 2 kilometers to another United Nations post, carrying the firearms and ammunition rebels wanted them to surrender.
Philippine generals burst into applause as they got news of the escape.
In a video call with Philippine platoon leader Capt Nilo Ramones a day later, they joked around.

GREGORIO CATAPANG, PHILIPPINE MILITARY CHIEF: Kung gagawa ng pelikula sino ang gusto mong artista na gaganap sayo in the person of Captain Ramones? (If they were to make a movie about the standoff, which actor would you want to play you, Captain Ramones?)
NILO RAMONES, PHILIPPINE PLATOON LEADER: Si Coco Martin, sir. (Coco Martin, Sir.)

Philippine military chief General Pio Catapang calls it the “greatest escape,” which came after 7 hours of heavy firefight with Syrian rebels.
All Filipinos in the Golan Heights are safe, but the rebels still hold 44 Fijian peacekeepers.
The Philippine military later reveals the Filipino troops defied the orders of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force  commander Iqbal Singh Singha.
Catapang says Singha wanted the Filipinos to surrender their firearms.
The UN was negotiating for the release of the Fijian peacekeepers through backchannels.
But the Syrian rebels insisted the peacekeepers surrender their firearms first.
The Filipinos refused, triggering a standoff.
The Philippine generals say there was no guarantee the rebels will not take the Filipino peacekeepers hostage.
Catapang now demands a probe, saying Singha’s decisions put the lives of the peacekeepers in danger.

GREGORIO CATAPANG, PHILIPPINE MILITARY CHIEF: Kasi gustong i-save ni UNDOF commander ‘yung Fiji, at the expense of the Philippines. Hindi natin kasalanan na-hostage sila. (The UNDOF Commander wanted to save the Fijians at the expense of the Philippines. It was not our fault that they were taken hostage.) What I was telling the UNDOF commander is save first the Philippines and then we will help the Fijians later. 

Authorities discover a vehicle loaded with explosives at the parking lot of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 Monday.
The National Bureau of Investigation or NBI says a white Toyota Revo was found with improvised explosives and banned firecrackers wrapped around gasoline-filled bottles.
The NBI says it also found a manifesto from the group believed to be behind the bombing attempt.
It contains a plan to bomb several locations in Metro Manila such as SM Mall of Asia, the Chinese Embassy, and the office of real estate developer DMCI.
The NBI arrests four suspects believed to be part of a right-wing group “unsatisfied” with the government’s action over the maritime dispute with China.
One suspect says the plan was not to bomb the airport but the offices in the manifest.
The entire NAIA complex is placed under full security alert after the incident.

Senators grill transport officials on the safety and operational efficiency of the Metro Rail Transit or MRT 3.
A major accident in Taft station on August 13 that injured 36 people triggered the probe, chaired by Senator Grace Poe.
Poe rode the train Friday in preparation for the hearing.
She experienced long lines, crowds, and non-functioning escalators and turnstiles.
Poe proposes that the transportation department issue vouchers for passengers forced to disembark due to glitches.
She also suggests deploying “MRT buses” as backup, and providing umbrellas for those lining up outside stations.

GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: This is part of the services, Hindi puwedeng TY na lang, na sorry bumaba na lang kayo dito. Ipakita naman ninyo naman na may malasakit kayo. Ipakita nyo naman sa kanila na habang wala ang ipinapangakong mga tren, meron kayong ginagawa, at sa pag-aayos ng TRO ninyo, meron kayong ginagawa. Gusto ko lamang makita ng taumbayan na may malasakit ang gobyerno natin. (You can’t just say ‘sorry but you all have to go down.’ Show you have some compassion. Show the people that while the trains aren’t working as promised, you are doing something about it. I want the Filipino people to see that their government cares for them.)

Nearly 600,000 people ride the MRT daily far beyond its capacity of 360,000 passengers.
Apart from service interruptions, some MRT terminals have non-functioning elevators, escalators, and ticket dispensers.
Senator Bam Aquino asks transport officials how the MRT got to that condition.

VOICE OF BAM AQUINO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Ano ang ideal waiting time natin? Ano po ang kakayahan natin? Target waiting time? (What’s the ideal waiting time? What’s our capacity? What’s the target waiting time?)

RENATO SAN JOSE, MRT3 DIRECTOR: Sa ngayon ito po ang 30-40 minutes waiting time dahil po sa ito lang ang available number of trains natin at ito lang ang available na speed limit. (Currently, the waiting time is 30-40 minutes because of the limited number of available trains and the available speed limit.)

VOICE OF BAM AQUINO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: So this is the best we can do right now? In short sorry na lang talaga muna. (In short, it’s sorry for now.)

Responding to the public’s challenge for government officials to experience the daily commute during rush hour, the President’s spokespersons took the MRT earlier Monday.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte posts photos of her and Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s ride.
Valte says the entire experience, from lining up at the North Avenue station to arriving at Taft, took about an hour and 20 minutes.
In a tweet, she says an escalator in one of the stations wasn’t working. 

The Senate implements the 90-day suspension of Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile Monday.
The order for Enrile’s suspension comes from the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, which is hearing the plunder and graft charges against three senators: Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada.
They are accused of diverting public money to fake organizations controlled by businesswoman Janet Napoles.
Senate President Franklin Drilon says Enrile is not allowed to file bills, sign committee reports, and receive salaries during this period.
The Sandiganbayan has yet to issue the suspension order of Senators Estrada and Revilla.

Retired Major General Jovito Palparan wants his former comrades to be his jailers.
The former congressman turned fugitive files a motion to be detained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP.
Earlier, Palparan asked to be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters instead of the Bulacan Provincial Jail.
That request was denied.
He now wants to be transferred to the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio or at the detention center of the Intelligence Agency of the AFP in Camp Aguinaldo.
Earlier, the prosecution said that being a retired general, Palparan should not be placed under military custody.
Palparan and 3 others are charged with the 2006 kidnapping and serious illegal detention of students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Witnesses say the young women were tortured, raped and held under the orders of the former general.
He was arrested on August 12, after nearly 3 years in hiding. 

Veteran Filipino actor Mark Gil, or Raphael Eigenmann in real life, dies Monday morning.
He was 52.
Gil died of liver cirrhosis.
In a statement, the family said Gil had liver cancer but he did not want it revealed to the public.
The family says, “It is with much sorrow that we announce that he passed away this morning at exactly 8am.
He died peacefully in his sleep in the arms of his wife, Maricar, and surrounded by family. We all request that the public please respect his wish and allow us to mourn his passing accordingly.”
They add, “For the outpouring of love for Ralph that we’ve received on his behalf, we thank you.’
Gil is the son of veteran actors Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil.
His siblings include actors Michael de Mesa and Cherie Gil.
He leaves behind his 6 children — Gabby, Timmy, Andi, Maxine, Stevie, and Ira.
Gil rose to fame in the movie Batch 81 directed by Mike de Leon, where he played a neophyte initiated in a fraternity.

Democracy activists promise to start an “era of civil disobedience” in Hong Kong after China announced new rules in the city’s next leadership election.
The standing committee of the National People’s Congress or NPC says Hong Kong’s next chief executive will be elected by popular vote in 2017, but candidates must be selected by Beijing.
Democracy advocates hit the announcement, saying this means Beijing will exclude opponents and choose only candidates sympathetic to China.
Activists promise to stage small acts of civil disobedience and threaten to take over the city’s Central financial district.
During a meeting with Hong Kong officials Monday, activists heckle NPC member Li Fei, who said China will not tolerate a local leader who is disloyal to the mainland.
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement.
Since then, a pro-Beijing committee has chosen the city’s leader.

At number 8, Hillary Clinton makes one of the strongest statements on the racial tension in Ferguson.
Clinton says Americans cannot “ignore the inequities that persist in our justice system.”
Washington Post blogger Nia-Malika Henderson says Clinton acknowledges that blacks get treated differently than whites.
Progressives praise Clinton’s strong statements but question her motives.
One tweet calls it a “careful triangulation and calculation driven by political interest rather than genuine feeling.”

And at number 9, should satirical articles and essays come with a warning label?
Netizens debate the pros and cons after Facebook began an experiment tagging satirical articles coming out in people’s Related News feeds.  
Some say it’s a good idea, with one user saying too many people can’t tell what satire is.
Others say it is a disservice.

Gilas Pilipinas is down 0-2 in the FIBA World Championship, but the record doesn’t show how the Philippines is keeping up with the best basketball teams in the world.
Rodneil Quiteles is in Spain, and he files this report.

The Philippines is back in the world basketball stage after 36 long years.
Against the 4th best European team Croatia, Gilas puts up a gallant stand, pushing the game to overtime before losing by three points, 81 to 78.
The following game, Gilas was up against a team ranked 5th best in the world — Greece.
Head coach Chot Reyes knew it was not going to be easy.

CHOT REYES, GILAS HEAD COACH: We knew coming in that Greece was going to be tougher than Croatia…We had no illusions about, you know, oh we played well last night so maybe we’ll catch Greece off guard tonight. We had no illusions, We will come in, very well prepared.

Gilas defends against the Greeks, but also struggles to sink the shots, leaning heavily on naturalized big man Andray Blatche, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, despite an injury.
Forward Gabe Norwood says the big man has a big heart.

GABE NORWOOD, GILAS FORWARD: You wouldn’t expect anything less. His heart is with us and he shows it out there on the court. He plays every possession as hard as he can.

Gilas lost to Greece, 82 to 70 and will face Argentina next — the team regarded as the best in Gilas’ bracket.
There are tougher challenges ahead but with the support of a large Filipino crowd in Spain, the team vows to give it all they have.  

CHOT REYES, GILAS HEAD COACH: At the start we were foolish enough to dream that we can compete with these teams so, we’ll just be foolish all the way.

GABE NORWOOD, GILAS FORWARD: We play to the end. I think that’s just our culture. That’s how we know what to do. We just keep fighting.

Rodneil Quiteles, Rappler, Spain

– Rappler.com

Newscast Production Staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Marga Deona
  Emerald Hidalgo
  Jaene Zaplan
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Raffy de Guzman

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