Rappler Newscast | July 31, 2012

TOP STORY: The Chinese defense ministry says there's no reason to fear its military.

Today on Rappler.

  • The Chinese defense ministry says there’s no reason to fear its military.
  • Pampanga representative Gloria Arroyo attends a House session for the first time since her 2011 arrest.
  • A Zamboanga school draws protests after it bands Muslim students from wearing the Muslim veil.

On the eve of the 85th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese Defense Ministry says there’s no reason to fear its military.
Emergency Response Office vice director Wu Xihua says the Chinese military poses no threat to any nation.
He says its armed forces has a long way to go to match “the world’s advanced levels.”
But the Philippines does not subscribe to China’s downplaying of its military might.
In a television interview, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says the Philippines can’t match China’s military capabilities.
He says the country needs equipment and ships to monitor Philippine shores and deter territorial incursions.
Del Rosario says establishing presence will hopefully be a sufficient deterrent.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates China’s air force to be “over 20 times bigger than the Philippines.”
In terms of aircraft, China has 2,910 while the whole Asean region has 1,676.

The Philippines accepts bids for 3 energy blocs from exploration groups eyeing potential oil and gas deposits near Palawan.
The Department of Energy facilitates the final leg of the bid for the 4th Philippine Energy Contracting Round, a move largely considered as a dismissal of the territorial assertions of China, which claims nearly all of the disputed sea.
Bids of local firms including the Pangilinan-led Philex Petroleum and Lopez-led PNOC-EC…
were accepted for specific areas in Palawan.
All of these bidders are existing players in the local oil and gas industry.
PNOC-EC is part of the consortium that is operating the Malampaya deep water gas­-to-power project, the Philippines’ largest existing natural gas project located near Area 4.
On the other hand, a consortium led by Philex, has been granted the right to explore Reed Bank, which lies near, and may have bigger gas deposits than Malampaya.

JOSE LAYUG, ENERGY UNDERSECRETARY: Based on our data, and I think that is one of the reasons why we received a lot of bids, the Philippines is relatively under explored compared to our neighbors which is why more than security issues, a lot of investors are looking at the Philippines as a potential emerging site for exploration.

Layug dismisses suggestions that the latest quarrel over the shoal would dampen interest in the bid.

The Supreme Court will hold oral arguments to reconsider an earlier verdict on Congress’ representation in the Judicial and Bar Council.
The Senate and the House say a bicameral legislature should have two representatives.
In an earlier decision, the Supreme Court declared both houses should have only one representative in the JBC.
The Court schedules the oral arguments on Thursday, Aug 2.
Sen. Joker Arroyo will represent the chamber.
The oral arguments could set back the JBC’s timetable for its shortlist of chief justice nominees for President Benigno Aquino III.
JBC member Jose Mejia says the council will hold its final deliberations on August 6 instead of August 2.
Last Friday, Congress pulled out of the JBC pending a final decision by the Court on their appeal.

The Judicial and Bar Council will decide the case of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday, August 6.
De Lima faces an Integrated Bar of the Philippines investigation following disbarment complaints filed against her.
She is one of 20 nominees for chief justice.
The council has to decide whether or not to disqualify De Lima.
She is seen as the favored candidate of President Benigno Aquino III.
On Monday, the IBP board of governors decided to conduct a full-blown probe of the complaints against De Lima.
De Lima says the complaints are politically motivated.

Pampanga Rep Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo surprises fellow legislators when she shows up at the House of Representatives.
It’s her first appearance in the House since her arrest in November 2011 and her release last July 25.
She arrives shortly before the plenary session, accompanied by her son, party-list Rep Mikey Arroyo.
Arroyo says her visit is a “dry run” for next week, when the House votes on the controversial Reproductive Health bill.

GLORIA ARROYO, PAMPANGA REPRESENTATIVE: That’s why I’m strengthening myself today. So that I’ll be sure to be here. I came today like a dry run for Tuesday.

The much-anticipated deal between rival networks TV5 and GMA-7 is in a make-or-break period.
GMA Network Chairman and CEO Felipe L. Gozon says the business deal with TV5 chair Manuel V. Pangilinan will either push through this year or not at all.

FELIPE GOZON, GMA-7 CHAIRMAN AND CEO: If we do not conclude anything within the year, we will not be able to conclude anything. It’s just my basis.
So it’s either it will push through or be terminated?
Yes, anyway is there any alternative?

Gozon says he and the families behind GMA are ready to continue running the company should the deal fall through.
He says, “we are not peddling GMA for sale. Somebody wanted to buy and we attended to it.”
Gozon adds, there is no plan B if Pangilinan doesn’t buy the company.

A Zamboanga school banning female Muslim students from wearing the Muslim veil triggers protests from Muslim groups.
In a July 9 letter to the city mayor, Pilar College president Sister Maria Nina Balbas says the school cannot deviate from its Roman Catholic roots.
She says they explain the rule that bans the veil to incoming students.
A 2001 Department of Education Order also states that female Muslim students should be allowed to use the veil.
Muslim groups say the policy violates a student’s right to practice religion.
The National Commission of Muslim Filipinos urges the school to revise its policy saying it is a violation of the Magna Carta of Women.
An online campaign gathering 1 million signatures is calling for a boycott of Pilar College.

Typhoon Gener — international codename Saola — maintains its strength as it moves north, leaving 8 people dead since Saturday.
In its 11 a.m. bulletin, state weather bureau Pagasa says Gener shifts its direction to the north-northwest, heading towards Taiwan.
The typhoon is expected to bring heavy to intense rainfall and moderate to strong winds over Luzon and Visayas.
Signal no. 3 is still up over Batanes, while signal no. 2 is raised over Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan group of islands.
Isabela, Kalinga, and Apayao are under signal no. 1.
Responding to criticism, Pagasa explains a freak weather event caused the sudden downpour and strong winds over Metro Manila and nearby areas Sunday evening.
The effect of both “Gener” and a shallow low pressure area caused a mesocyclone, a rapidly rotating air mass within a thunderstorm.
The bureau says no storm warning was raised then because the mesocyclone only lasted for a few hours.

At number 5, James Holmes, the man behind the shooting of viewers of a Batman film, is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.
The murder counts cite “deliberation” and “extreme indifference” to the value of human life.
12 people were killed and 58 were wounded in what has been called the worst mass shooting in US history.
Holmes, a 24-year-old former doctoral student, burst into a movie house in Aurora Colorado on July 20 and started shooting people at random.

At number 6, A convoy of unarmed observers of the United Nations was attacked in Syria on Monday.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon says “Fortunately there were no injuries.”The 5-vehicle convoy came under small arms fire near the protest city of Homs.
It was not known who fired the shots.
Ban appeals to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the “violent measures” of his forces in Homs and Aleppo, the target of a major new assault.

At number 7, MSNBC reports the next generation iPhone along with an “iPad mini” will be announced on September 12.
The iPhone will reportedly start shipping on September 21.
There is no word on the expected release date for the iPad mini.
The new iPhone is expected to be similar to the iPhone 4S but will be slightly thinner, have a larger screen, and 4G LTE connectivity.
The new iPad is expected to be about 8 inches diagonally with a plain, non-Retina display.
It will be priced in the 250-dollar range, or well over 10,000 pesos.
The Wall Street Journal confirms Apple will hold an event during the week of September 12.

At number 8, the Berkeley Earth Project says over the past 250 years, the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by 1.5 degrees centigrade.
The project’s team leader says human activity is “the most straightforward explanation” for global warming.
They cited the good correspondence between historical data on carbon dioxide emissions and the new temperature record.

Four days in, it’s a tie between China and USA with 17 each for the total medal tally, but China still leads in gold medals.
And like previous games, the London Olympics gets its share of controversies.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

On Day 4 of the Olympics, one name is on everyone’s lips: Ye Shiwen.
Three days since the Chinese swimmer shattered the women’s 400m individual medley world record by over a second, doping accusations hound the 16-year-old.
On the last 100 meters of the race, Ye swam faster than the gold medalist of the men’s 400m individual medley, Ryan Lochte.
Top US coach John Leonard is the first trainer to question her performance, calling her achievement ‘impossible.’
He says in the past, swimmers with similar suspicious incidents were later found guilty of taking illegal substances.
British media also doubt Ye is clean. Tabloid Daily Telegraph says Chinese swimming has such a shameful history any remarkable achievement by one of its athletes is met with cynicism.
They refer to China’s history of state-sponsored doping in the 80s and 90s.
Ye denies the allegations. She says there is no problem with doping. The Chinese team has a firm policy against it.
But aside from the doping issues, Twitter continue to be the stage for more Olympic controversies.
The Switzerland Olympic Commission sends footballer Michel Morganella home due to a racist Twitter post.
After his team loses to South Korea, he goes online and tweets in colloquial French…
that he wants to beat up South Koreans, whom he calls mentally handicapped retards.
Morganella apologizes saying the post is a huge mistake. But it is too late.
He is the second athlete to leave the Olympics prematurely because of an offensive tweet.
The scrutiny extends to media and fans.
Twitter suspends journalist Guy Adams’ account after he complains about NBC’s delayed broadcast of the Games in the US.
He posts the email address of a NBC executive to encourage netizens to send their complaints, which NBC says is a breach of privacy.
Police also arrest a 17-year-old for sending malicious tweets to British diver Tom Daley.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila

– Rappler.com