Today on Rappler.
FRENCH MAGAZINE MASSACRE SPARKS WORLDWIDE FUROR
The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie or IAmCharlie sweeps the internet Thursday following the murder of 12 from satire paper Charlie Hebdo. More than 100,000 people gather across France to pay tribute to victims massacred by Islamist gunmen in Paris Wednesday. Thousands also hold rallies in other European cities. French security forces on Thursday launch a massive manhunt for brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. Cherif is a known jihadist convicted in 2008 for his involvement in sending fighters to Iraq. World leaders and media rights groups condemn the massacre. French President Francois Hollande calls the massacre "an act of exceptional barbarity" and "undoubtedly a terrorist attack". US President Barack Obama and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II offer their condolences to the victims. Pope Francis says there could be no justification for "the horrible attack that plunged the city of Paris into mourning." Charlie Hebdo gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, causing fury across the Muslim world.
1 DEAD, 19 HURT IN BILIBID EXPLOSION
At least one inmate is confirmed dead and 19 hurt in an explosion inside the New Bilibid Prison or NBP. A Rappler source says the explosion happened inside the maximum security compound. The source adds a grenade in the area of the Commando Gang might have blown up. The explosion took place weeks after massive corruption issues surfaced in the NBP with the discovery of high profile convicts - including drug lords and murderers living in luxury cells that included a stripper bar and Jacuzzi.
NBI SUES 119 GOV’T OFFICIALS, IMPORTERS OVER GARLIC CARTEL
The National Bureau of Investigation or NBI sues 119 government officials and importers for the garlic price surge in 2014. In June 2014 garlic prices reached a staggering 287 pesos or 6 dollars and 37 cents per kilo. It was an increase of 74% within a one-year period and more than a 100% increase from average prices. Investigation shows officials conspired with an association of vegetable importers, exporters, and vendors to give the group undue advantage in the market. Among those who face charges are officials from the the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Plant Industry including former BPI director Clarito Barron. Also included are alleged “dummies” of importer Lilia Cruz, alias Leah Cruz who allegedly cornered at least 75 percent of total garlic importation.
‘CHINA TO FINISH CONSTRUCTION OF AIRSTRIP IN WEST PH SEA THIS YEAR’
Officials say reclamation work being done by the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea “maybe about 50 percent complete.” Reclamation is the process of transforming ocean areas to land. Philippine army chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr says they continue to monitor the activities. He adds, “It is alarming in the sense that it could be used for other purposes other than for peaceful use.” He adds an airstrip will dramatically change the situation allowing Chinese planes to land in the artificial island.
PALACE: NO BACKPACKS AT POPE’S LUNETA MASS
Malacanang Palace on Thursday releases guidelines to the public in preparation for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma reminds those attending the Pope's Luneta mass on January 18. Rizal Park and the Quirino Grandstand will be open at 6 am until 1 pm. Backpacks or bags are not allowed. Snacks and drinks must be placed in transparent containers. Coloma also recommends the public to bring fans and hats, and raincoats instead of umbrellas for an unobstructed view.
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