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Today on Rappler.
- A US Navy ship goes into battle mode when Tubbataha personnel approaches the stranded ship.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs evacuates 34 Filipinos from an Algerian gas field attacked by Islamist gunmen.
- Justice secretary De Lima is criticized for the re-enactment of the Atimonan shooting.
Story 1: TUBBATAHA OFFICIALS PROTEST U.S. BEHAVIOR
The management of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park files a protest with the US government on Friday, after the US Navy again barred park rangers from approaching a ship stuck inside the protected area.
Park chief supervisor Angelique Songco says the commander of the USS Guardian “deployed personnel into battle position” prompting park officials to file the protest.
A second American vessel — the USS Champion — arrives in the area Friday morning to help get the USS Guardian off the reef.
Initial efforts to free the ship during high tide were not successful.
On Thursday, the USS Guardian reportedly hit the upper side of the South Atoll — one of the two main atolls comprising the Tubbataha Reefs.
According to a US Pacific Fleet statement, the Americans notified the Philippine government but ignored the park rangers.
Although park officials are sure the ship damaged the coral, Songco says they cannot yet estimate the extent of the damage.
Once the damage is assessed, the US navy can expect to pay 12,000 pesos per square meter of destroyed reefs.
The US Embassy says the US Navy recognizes that Tubbataha Reef is a unique and treasured environment.
Story 2: MORE THAN 20 PINOY HOSTAGES IN ALGERIA?
The Philippine government says it received reports that more than 20 Filipinos are among foreign hostages seized by Islamist gunmen in Algeria.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez says two hostages — a Filipino and a Japanese — escaped the area before Algerian forces launched a rescue operation.
On Wednesday, Islamist militants tell media in Mauritania they were holding 41 foreigners at the In Amenas gas field.
The kidnappers say they are retaliating against France for its intervention in Mali.
The hostage crisis ended Thursday when an Algerian air strike killed 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers.
Seven hostages are still alive.
The Philippine government is still trying to determine how many Filipinos were in the plant.
Story 3: DFA TO EVACUATE PINOYS FROM ALGERIA
Foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez says 34 Filipinos employed at the Algerian gas field have been evacuated from the country.
One of the Filipino workers sustained a gunshot wound.
Hernandez confirms he is not the same man who managed to escape the kidnappers before the air strike.
Hernandez says, “Algerian authorities have admitted a few deaths and injuries among the hostages.”
But he adds, “No other information and details have been released.”
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte does not confirm the number of Filipino hostages and notes the embassy in Tripoli has —quote “jurisdiction over Algeria to verify reports.”
She also refuses to comment on the possibility of a travel ban to Algeria.
Story 4: ATIMONAN INCIDENT: AMBUSH OR SHOOTOUT?
Ambush or shootout?
Almost 2 weeks after the Atimonan Quezon incident, there are more questions than answers.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
Three days into the probe on the Quezon shooting that killed 13 men, conflicting accounts surface.
It’s the NBI’s witnesses versus the military and Supt Supt Hansel Marantan.
Marantan, the head of the checkpoint, still refuses to speak.
Marantan’s counsel, Crisanto Buela, says he will speak soon, but insists that the re-enactment by police witnesses was all wrong.
He says they have a witness, a bystander, whom they will present to the NBI.
The lawyer the witness saw Marantan fall and that the first shot came from the vehicle.
CRISANTO BUELA, MARANTAN’S LAWYER: We promise we will present him to you at the right time.
The NBI finally obtains the gun Marantan was carrying.
An NBI doctor also examines his wounds.
HECTOR CORPUZ, MARANTAN’S LAWYER: We have submitted Supt Marantan to medical examination by the NBI, the NBI medical examiner opened his wounds and we have also submitted the firearm at the possession of Marantan in Atimonan.
Officials of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Committee deny Marantan’s account the agency authorized the operation.
They say they approved cash to fund intelligence, but did not authorize Coplan Armado, an operation targeting organized crime groups, specifically Victor “Vic” Siman, one of the victims of the shooting.
The military also turns over the guns used by soldiers at the checkpoint to the NBI.
Col Monico Abang admits to firing a warning shot around the same time that shots were fired.
He doesn’t answer when asked what the warning shot was for but insists what happened was a shootout.
He says he didn’t see Marantan drop, but saw him being taken away.
Q: Sir, ano yung nauna nagkaputukan or warning shot was first fired?
COL. MONICO LABANG, SPECIAL TASK FORCE: Nagkaputukan po. Nagkaputukan. Bale halos kasabay po. Kaya po warning shot po.
Q: Colonel, nakita niyo pong may tumumba po?
COL. MONICO LABANG, SPECIAL TASK FORCE: Bale hindi ko nakitang tumumba, pero nakita ko noong hinihila si Supt. Marantan na sugatan po.
Still it is not clear whether Abang’s shot triggered the volley of gunfire.
Marantan is reportedly linked to a criminal gang, which is the rival gang of Siman.
A probe by the NBI initially concludes it was more likely an ambush.
NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: As various characters of this so-called circus start to speak out, the supposed ring leader’s decision to remain silent is hurting him. He may speak soon, but it might be too late as emerging facts continue to contradict his side of the story.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.
Story 5: DE LIMA SLAMMED OVER ATIMONAN RE-ENACTMENT
Lawyers of Superintendent Marantan Friday ask the NBI to submit its findings on the Atimonan killings to the Ombudsman and not to the Department of Justice.
Marantan’s camp questions Justice secretary Leila De Lima’s –quote “overly excited” involvement in the case and her decision to invite the media to a reenactment of the crime on Thursday.
They say, “We were surprised to see Secretary de Lima there with so many press people.”
They add, “The Secretary had absolutely no business being there to lead the reenactment.”
De Lima rules out a shootout and declares the 13 victims were shot in cold blood, after the re-enactment and after interviewing supposed witnesses to the crime.
Marantan’s camp says President Aquino gave the NBI, not the DOJ, the sole power to probe the incident.
The NBI, however, is under the DOJ.
Story 6: WANTED: CONSUMER MOVEMENT
Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug looks into consumer protection issues. She says technology and social media can be used to start a consumer movement.
Here’s her video blog.
On a recent trip from Manila to Davao, the flight was delayed for close to an hour.
We waited and waited and waited.
Not a word from the pilot to explain what was happening.
Finally, we took off. I expected the pilot to apologize. But he did not.
This shows the cavalier attitude of the pilot toward his passengers.
We don’t have a consumer movement or a watchdog group that takes companies to task for faulty products and bad service.
Why is this so?
Let me venture 3 reasons.
First, consumer welfare is a middle-class issue. In the Philippines, our middle class is wafer-thin. That’s a small base for a big movement.
Second, consumer welfare takse a backseat to the more urgent problems of poverty and corruption. It is rare for politicians to run on a platform of consumer protection.
Third, a few members of the elite control the country’s commerce. They are the major advertisers. They, too, own the media.
Consumer activism cannot thrive in this forbidding environment.
But thanks to technology, we can use social media to voice our complaints.
We can tweet our frustrations over an airline company’s poor service.
We can post these on Facebook. We can blog about them.
This may yet be the seed of a virtual consumer movement.
This is Marites Vitug for VitugVlogs.
Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 4, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than a hundred civilians have been killed in a new massacre in Homs.
The deaths come when the army sweeps through farmlands north of the city on Tuesday, where around 1,000 people seek refuge from fighting in the central Syria metropolis.
Homs, dubbed “the capital of the revolution” by Syria’s opposition, is the most strategic city in the country’s largest province.
It lies on key trade routes near the borders with Lebanon and Iraq, and its southwestern areas are not far from Damascus.
At number 7, religious media sources say the Pope’s former butler Paolo Gabriele, who served jail time for leaking secret papers, has been offered a job at a Vatican hospital in Rome.
Gabriele was pardoned by Pope Benedict the XVI in December but banished from the Vatican.
Observers say the Vatican has been looking for a way to keep Gabriele from speaking out about the leaks episode.
At number 9, Google takes down a “Make me Asian” app on the Google Play store after public outcry.
The app first gained public attention after the author of the Angry Asian Man blog wrote about it in November 2012.
The Make Me Asian app is a picture-altering app for Android devices.
After putting up a picture of your face for editing on the app, the user can add stereotypical asian features or props to capture a stereotypical Asian look.
Peter Chin, a pastor from Washington, D.C., started a petition on Change.org against the “Make me Asian” and “Make me Indian” apps.
That brought attention to the issue of perpetuating racist stereotypes.
And at number 10, “Zero Dark Thirty” is not for the faint of heart.
Clocking in at two and a half hours, it shows us the protracted, near-decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden and then culminates in a 30-minute real-time re-enactment of the op.
It begins with a long, excruciating torture sequence, illustrating how enemy combatants are brutally and systematically worn down until they divulge whatever information is wanted.
The question has been, is “Zero Dark Thirty” an endorsement of torture? Some people say yes, because of the graphic, realistic ways in which torture has been depicted, and how the information from that torture led to concrete intelligence.
Story 8: LANCE ARMSTRONG ADMITS TO DOPING ON OPRAH
Cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admits using performance enhancing drugs.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
Finally, Lance Armstrong owns up.
After years of denial, the disgraced cyclist admits to Oprah Winfrey he used performance enhancing drugs.
Armstrong apologizes for years of cheating and lying, calling himself a deeply flawed character.
He says “I made my decisions. They’re my mistake, and I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.”
Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles and banned for life after the US Anti-Doping Agency released a report chronicling Armstrong’s drug use.
He says the last time he used drugs was in 2005 and denies he used any on his comeback Tour de France races in 2009 and 2010.
Armstrong says it was almost impossible to win a title without doping and didn’t think it was wrong when he did it.
Armstrong denies he forced teammates to dope but took the blame from fans and media.
The International Cycling Union calls the confessions “disturbing,” but says it will help the sport recover from its drug-fueled past.
Its president says it’s an important step forward on the long road to repairing the damage to cycling and to restore confidence in the sport.
In the wake of Armstrong’s admissions, the sport of cycling must now find a way to rebuild its reputation.
But Armstrong’s confessions may just be the beginning.
What made Armstrong confess now?
What legal charges await him?
And more importantly, will the world ever forgive Armstrong?
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.
Newscast production staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|