Rappler Newscast | August 9, 2013

At least 500,000 liters of oil spill into Manila Bay. 2 more whistleblowers surface against Napoles. BIFF has Sheik Mohidin Animbang as new military commander.

Today on Rappler.

  • At least 500,000 liters of oil spill into Manila Bay.
  • Two more whistleblowers surface to speak out against alleged pork barrel queen Janet Napoles.
  • The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has a new military commander: Sheik Mohidin Animbang.

At least 500,000 liters of oil spread to 12 coastal barangays in Rosario and Tanza, Cavite after an oil spill in Manila Bay.
The Philippine Coast Guard says the source of the spill is still being investigated.
But it adds, oil from the affected barangays is –quote– “identical” to the oil inside tanker MV Makisig, commissioned by oil giant Petron to transport fuel.
Dead fish float on the water and some residents fall ill from the fumes, as the spill spreads across 20 kilometers of the coastline.
PCG environmental protection chief Commodore Joel Garcia says the owners of the tanker will be made to pay for the clean-up if it is proven that it caused the spill.

Two more employees of Janet Lim-Napoles are willing to speak about JLN Corporation — the company Napoles owns and allegedly used to pocket lawmakers’ pork barrel.
The two will join 6 others who already came forward.
In a radio interview, the whistleblowers’ counsel, Levito Baligod says, “[They can share] personal knowledge of the operations of foundations and the relation of Mrs. Napoles to these foundations.”
Baligod says 4 of the whistleblowers were former presidents of foundations they were ordered to create.
He says 2 of those 4 had their names used in the incorporation papers without their knowledge.
Napoles is accused of being the mastermind in a scam that uses fake non-government organizations to get lawmakers’ pork barrel.
The NBI is currently probing the scheme.

Taiwan lifts its sanctions against the Philippines after Manila apologized for the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman.
The move comes after Manila Economic and Cultural Office chair Amadeo Perez offered an “official apology” on behalf of President Benigno Aquino.
Tensions between the 2 countries rose after Philippine Coast Guard personnel shot 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng in May, after his vessel sailed into Philippine waters.
Following the incident, Taiwan imposed a series of sanctions, including a ban on hiring new Filipino workers.
Diplomatic tensions ease after Philippine investigators said they recommend homicide charges against eight Coast Guard personnel for Hung’s death.

Despite an extended deadline, the Philippines fears it will not meet Saudi’s cut-off date for undocumented workers to legalize their status or get repatriated.
Del Rosario says he requested a meeting to discuss ways to speed up the processing of papers for undocumented overseas Filipino workers.
Over 8,000 Filipinos need to have their papers processed before November 3.
Filipinos who fail to meet the deadline face up to two years in prison and fines of at least 100,000 riyal or $27,000.
On Monday, the foreign affairs department says 1,557 Filipinos returned to the Philippines from Saudi.
This is around 16% of the estimated 10,000 undocumented Filipinos seeking repatriation, based on estimates by migrant workers’ group Migrante.

Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug goes into the character of the outspoken Reproductive Health law critic in the Supreme Court.
Here’s her video blog.

It was one of the most heated exchanges I’ve witnessed in the Supreme Court—and it revealed the character of Justice Roberto Abad.
In this week’s oral arguments on the RH law, Abad looked down on his nemesis, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza.
Complete with power-point slides, Abad tried to show contraceptives kill the unborn.
When Jardeleza disagreed, the justice laughed, as if mocking the counsel for government.
Abad is the most vociferous anti-RH justice.
In the Court, he’s known to be impulsive.
One of his most famous outbursts was against then junior Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
It had to with the plagiarism scandal, when a decision penned by one justice was found to have lifted heavily from academic journals.
Abad joined the majority in clearing the justice and railed against Sereno for her “self-righteous” dissent.
This was unprecedented.
And now, after facing a wall—because Jardeleza stood his ground– Abad dropped all pretenses of clinging to the law.
He likened the advocates of the RH law to Hitler, out to exterminate the poor.
Abad said, “The law targets the poor because they’re inconvenient to us.”
He may not have known it then, but at that moment, he stood by Francisco Tatad who called the RH law “genocide.”
And I thought the Supreme Court was all about upholding the law.
This is Marites Vitug for VitugVlogs.

The breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has a new military commander, Sheik Mohidin Animbang.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama says in a recent Rappler interview that BIFF’s founding leader, Ameril Umra Kato, is no longer directly in charge of BIFF operations.

ABU MISRY MAMA, BIFF SPOKESMAN: Ang BIFF ang nagpapatakbo dyan ang Chief of Staff namin, si Vice Chairman for Military Affairs Sheik Mohidin Animbang. Pero yung government namin si Ameril ang nagpapatakbo. (Our Chief of Staff, the Vice Chairman for military affairs, Sheik Mohidin Animbang is running the BIFF. But our government is still being run by Ameril [Umra Kato].)

Kato suffered a stroke last year. He is reportedly bedridden. Some say he’s comatose.
The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF over serious disagreements on the MILF’s peace talks with the Aquino administration, among other reasons.
This week, bombs exploded in 3 different areas in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, where BIFF forces operate.
The BIFF claims responsibility for a roadside bomb in Maguindanao on August 7 that wounded 7 Army soldiers.

ABU MISRY MAMA, BIFF SPOKESMAN: Yung sa Nabundas, yun ang akin, kasi sundalo ang tinamaan, basta kung sundalo pwede na kaming pagbintangan. Yung sa mga civilian, wala kami dun hindi pwede yun bawal sa Islam mananakit ka sa mga civilian. (The one in Nabundas, we did that– if it’s soldiers, you can suspect us. The attacks on civilians — we were not responsible for that. Islam prohibits us from hurting civilians.)

Mama admits the BIFF attacked the soldiers, but vehemently denies responsibility for the bombings that hit civilians.

Cherry Alejandrino was a simple, hardworking elevator operator — until social media catapulted her to instant fame.
Carol Ramoran reports.

Cherry Alejandrino may seem like an ordinary elevator girl, but that’s until she starts to talk.
With her bubbly personality and willingness to help shoppers, Cherry caught the attention of Youtube user Dave Pronto.
Pronto uploaded a video of Cherry which got hundreds of thousands of views.
As her Youtube video went viral, so did her influence on netizens.
She had always wanted to be a teacher, but her family could not afford to send her to college.
Despite setbacks, Cherry says people should always be dedicated to their jobs.

CHERRY ALEJANDRINO, ELEVATOR GIRL: Pag welcome ko po sa tao kumakagat po sa kanila eh. Sinusuklian po nila ng “thank you, ganyan ka ba talaga?” “opo, because I need and I love my job” so tawa po sila ng tawa. sa pagtawa nilang yon, nakakawala po ng pagod. (People like it when I welcome them. They respond and say, “thank you,” “are you really like that?” Yes, I am because I need and love my job. They laugh and laugh. When I see them amused, it makes me forget I’m tired.)

Shoppers find Cherry’s sunny disposition infectious.

KIRK FURREL, OLONGAPO RESIDENT: She’s so polite, informative. Every floor, she would tell you what it’s got. She can really go overboard. She’s nice. I get used to it, she’s so friendly.

On Tuesday, she was presented with a plaque of appreciation by the mall she works in.
Cherry, despite instant fame, remains humble, thanking social media and the person who uploaded her video for recognizing a hardworking girl.
Carol Ramoran, Rappler, Olongapo.

At number 2, The Daily Beast reports “no al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative worries the United States more than Ibrahim al-Asiri“.
Quoting two U.S. counterterrorism officials, the online news site calls him “the group’s diabolically clever bombmaker.”
A chemistry drop-out from Saudi Arabia, he is credited with building bombs that can escape sophisticated forms of screening.
His early claim to fame was a suicide attack in 2009 by his brother that nearly killed Saudi prince Muhammed Bin Nayef.
U.S. officials believe al-Asiri succeeded in developing a bomb that can be surgically implanted inside the human body.

At number 3, A US Marine sergeant is demoted after pleading guilty to urinating on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The incident occurred in July 2011 during a counter-insurgency operation.
In 2012, a video circulated showing 4 Marines urinating on 3 corpses.
The incident increased tensions between the United States and Afghanistan.
Sergeant Robert Richards is one of 8 Marines to be punished for the incident.
The Marine Corps says Richards pleaded guilty at a court martial session in North Carolina Wednesday.

At number 9, CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta reverses his stand on marijuana.
In an article posted August 9, Gupta reveals he has been working on a new documentary called “Weed.”
For research, he interviewed medical leaders, patients, and marijuana growers and reviewed scientific literature on medical marijuana.
He concludes, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States. I apologize for my own role in that.”
Gupta says recent research on marijuana focused consistently on its negative effects.

And at number 10, Two rare Sumatran tiger cubs are born Monday at the National Zoo in the United States.
Zookeepers call it a conservation victory for the critically endangered cats.
A webcam on the National Zoo’s site shows images of the cubs lounging and rolling in a den with their mom.
There are less than 500 Sumatran tigers in the wild.
The World Wildlife Fund says the only place where these tigers can be found in the wild is on Sumatra, Indonesia.

The rover Curiosity celebrates its first anniversary on Mars on August 5.
From its heart-pounding landing on Mars, Curiosity has made intriguing discoveries for the past 12 months.  
NASA says Curiosity sent back more than 190 gigabits of data and 70,000 images, collected and analyzed two rocks, and fired more than 75,000 lasers.
All these during the course of its 1.6 kilometer drive.
Back on Earth, scientists are busy studying Curiosity’s data.
NASA says it met its primary goal: To see if Mars has evidence of ancient environments where life could thrive.
But the mission is not over yet.
Curiosity is now on its way to the base of Mount Sharp to probe into the planet’s past.

Scientists say the Sun’s magnetic field is set to reverse in the next few months.
This occurs when the sun’s inner magnetic field reorganizes: the polar magnetic fields weaken to zero, then reappear but now with opposite polarities.
Solar physicist Todd Hoeksema says, “It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal.”
“This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”
Scientists say it happens at the peak of a solar cycle, and the change usually happens every 11 years.
The flip could also have some effect on Earth.
Hoeksema says there might be fewer lightning strikes and less intense storms.
But adds this link to weather is –quote– “pretty much a speculative endeavor at this point.”

Rappler, in partnership with Visayas State University, returns to Leyte to hold a forum dubbed #MoveLeyte: Social media for environmental awareness and disaster preparedness.
Zak Yuson files this video blog.

We’re here at the Visayas State University – one of the country’s top research and development agricultural institutions, for Rappler and VSU’s Move Leyte Chat Series.
Hundreds of students and teachers gathered to discuss the potential for social media to help build disaster resilient communities.
VSU faculty spoke about how climate change impacts upon agricultural communities.
The University has even established a regional climate change research center to study ways to mitigate the risks brought about by extreme weather, while Rappler’s CEO, Maria Ressa, talked about how social media can be used as a tool for disaster preparedness and risk management.

DR. PATRICIA MILAN, FORMER VSU PRESIDENT: We have a beautiful region. Despite of all the wonderful environmental state of our region, we also have a negative side. Region 8 is one of the most disaster prone areas in the country. In the past 20 years, we have had 3 major disasters.

MARIA RESSA, RAPPLER CEO: Journalists can now come together with technology, and with you  – the wisdom of crowds. When we come together in millions, we become extremely powerful, and this is where Rappler stands.

ZAK YUSON, REPORTING: Leyte is no stranger to disasters, some of the nations most tragic natural calamities occurred not far from where we are now – in Ormoc and Guinsaugon. But the organizers of this chat series hope that a better informed public will be the key to preventing more tragedies in the future.

Zak Yuson, Rappler, Baybay City, Leyte.

– Rappler.com

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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