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Rappler Newscast | September 17, 2013

Today on Rappler.

Clashes continue between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front members, but day 9 of the Zamboanga siege brings some good news.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.

For the first time since the 9-day siege of Zamboanga, residents wake up to welcome news.
Over a hundred hostages are released or able to escape the battle zone.
Government troops declare they have cornered Commander Habier Malik, but the sense of relief is short lived.
MNLF fighters abduct no less than the police chief of the city, Senior Superintendent Chiquito Malayo, as he tried to secure the release of hostages.
Emissaries are sent to get Colonel Malayo released.
The group holding him is an MNLF breakaway group from Basilan.
The PNP is hopeful -- the group is not notorious for committing terrorist acts.
But the night still brings with it some good news.
Malayo has been released.
The standoff between the government forces and the followers of Moro National Liberation Front Founder Nur Misuari shut down this key city in Mindanao.
At least 99 were killed and 160 are wounded.
Amidst the chaos, the people who suffer the most are the hostages and their families.
Rosa Advincula was inconsolable when Rappler met her on Saturday.
Five of her relatives were taken hostage.
Today she is thankful. All five are safe.
She’s waiting for the department of social welfare and development to debrief the hostages.
Their statements may be used to file cases against the MNLF rebels.
It's been an ordeal for hostages trapped inside the battle zone.
This man was one of those who escaped.
The conflict in Zamboanga has reached new levels, and many feel its just a matter of time before it completely winds down.
When that happens, all that will be left behind are the burnt houses, the dead bodies and terrorized residents.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Zamboanga.

Malacañang defends the government's actions on the Zamboanga City conflict, following criticism from former President Fidel Ramos.
Ramos finalized the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front under his presidency.
He criticizes the Aquino administration for its alleged failure to implement the peace accord despite it being handed --quote-- "on a silver platter."
He also hits the Aquino administration’s supposed lack of coordination in handling the siege.
But Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda fires back at Ramos, saying the rebels' demands are unacceptable.
Lacierda says MNLF chief Nur Misuari wanted a safe conduct pass that would let them off the hook from any punishment.

EDWIN LACIERDA, PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON: A crime has already happened… If they intended to do a Cabatangan template in 2001, that’s something that they underestimated in this administration.

Lacierda is referring to the 2001 siege of Zamboanga City, where the government agreed to let go of the rebels in exchange for the release of hostages.

As the Zamboanga siege continues, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the last 2 annexes needed for a final peace agreement.
Angela Casauay reports live from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It’s the brutal irony of the current Mindanao peace process under the Aquino administration.
As the government and the MILF thresh out the final details on the annexes on Bangsamoro power-sharing and normalization, security forces are locked in a 9–day standoff with the MILF’s rival group.
Seen as a move to dilute the gains of the talks, the MNLF troops attacked Zamboanga the day the MILF and the government resumed talks here in Kuala Lumpur.

MIRIAM CORONEL-FERRER, GOV’T PEACE PANEL CHAIR: The mood is somber because we constantly update ourselves with what's going on Zamboanga and the rest of Mindanao and we are aware that the situation, there are several incidents that are not very good news.

The government is under fire for allegedly sidelining other interest groups as it forges a peace pact with the MILF.
A faction of the MNLF earlier slammed the government’s supposed ‘divide and rule tactics’ in Muslim Mindanao.
But the government maintains it has not abandoned the peace pact with the MNLF.
Government was hoping the MNLF and the MILF peace processes will ‘converge’.

MEHOL SADAIN, NCMF SECRETARY, PEACE PANEL MEMBER: The past negotiation with the MNLF is part of the continuing change process. And eventually the aim is to draw them in, provided they are willing to come in, so eventually the governance will be by the  entirel Bangsamoro. You have to remember that in 2016, assuming there’s going to be a new election ratified by a plebiscite the election will be open to everybody in the Bangsamoro, not just the MILF.

Government says the peace talks will not just benefit one group but the entire Bangsamoro.

MIRIAM CORONEL-FERRER, GOV’T PEACE PANEL CHAIR: What the government cannot agree to or promise is that everything can be delivered to Misuari because at the end of the day that is probably his main interest.

Government adds, it's also up to the rival groups to take the initiative to come together.

MEHOL SADAIN, NCMF CHAIR, PEACE PANEL MEMBER: It is not however within our power to force them to get together because that has to be arranged between the two of them and I think even the OIC has pushed for this and there are a number of CSOs that has pushed them along this line.

For now, the government will continue to engage both sides – in separate tables but towards the same goal.
The Aquino administration wants to finish the transition towards the Bangsamoro before he steps down from office in 2016.
As the government races against time to sign a final peace pact with MILF, it is also racing against time to resolve the situation in Zamboanga.  
Could this just be the toughest test for Aquino’s peace policy?
Angela Casauay, Rappler Kuala Lumpur

Explosions hit the movie theaters of two malls in Davao City Monday evening.
No one was hurt in the blast at Cinema 1 of SM City Davao past 10 pm.
Five people are taken to the hospital after experiencing pain in their ears following a second explosion at Cinema 5 of the Gaisano mall.
In a press briefing Tuesday, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte orders tighter security in all public places in the city.
Duterte says MNLF chair Nur Misuari denies involvement in the blasts.

Pork barrel queen Janet Napoles files a motion for bail before a Makati Court Monday.
The motion is scheduled to be heard Friday.
Makati Regional Trial Court Clerk of Court Diosfa Valencia says Napoles through her lawyers filed a motion allowing bail "alleging that the evidence of the prosecution is weak."
Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna for serious illegal detention.
Her brother, Reynald Lim, is also being charged. Lim is still at large.
Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable case.
Section 7 under Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure says bail will not be allowed when evidence of guilt is strong.
But Valencia says --quote--, "The burden of proof to show that the evidence of guilt is strong is on the prosecution."

Staff members of senators who face charges over the pork barrel scam either resigned or are on leave.
Four staff members of senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada are among the 38 individuals facing plunder charges for the scam.
Principal whistleblower Benhur Luy told the Senate last week the senators or chiefs of staff coordinated with employees of pork barrel queen Janet Napoles for the release of pork barrel.
Enrile’s former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes, resigned in January at the height of the Senate fund controversy.
But she was still seen with Enrile in various events in past months.
In a press briefing Monday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says Reyes flew to Macau on August 31 with a return ticket for September 3.
De Lima says there is no record of Reyes’ return.
Estrada’s former appointments secretary, Pauline Labayen, also resigned.
The senator’s media officer says Labayen resigned mid-July, effective this week.
Revilla’s aide, Richard Cambe, is on leave. The senator’s staff is unsure when Cambe filed his leave of absence.
The fourth staff member facing charges is Ruby Tuason, who is listed as a liaison officer for Enrile and Estrada.
But the staff of the two senators tell Rappler Tuason is not employed with their offices.

Senate President Franklin Drilon says the Senate Minority wanted no names mentioned in the Senate probe into the pork barrel scam.
In a radio interview with DZBB, Drilon responds to reports the bloc of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile asked to stop the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation.
Reports say the request was relayed during a caucus in August.
Drilon says in Filipino --quote-- , “They did not ask that it be stopped because they know this is not possible as there is already a resolution...What they asked was that no names be mentioned.”
Two members of the minority – Enrile and Sen Jinggoy Estrada – along with Sen Bong Revilla face a plunder complaint filed by the justice department over the multi-billion peso scam.
But during the Senate hearing, senators asked resource persons to name names.
In the September 12 hearing, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano even asked principal whistleblower Benhur Luy the slogan of the senator he visited years ago, and mentions Enrile’s 2010 campaign tagline.
Sen Francis Escudero also says it would be best for Luy to name names to erase the perception that all senators were involved in the scam.

Sen Miriam Santiago wants a speedy investigation into the pork barrel scam, a day after plunder charges were filed against lawmakers for alleged corruption.
In radio interviews, Santiago says the Ombudsman should not allow any motion for postponement to delay its preliminary investigation, particularly because of “diarrhea.”
She says --quote--  “No postponement should be granted in the name of the almighty diarrhea.”
Citing her experience as a regional trial court judge, Santiago says ‘diarrhea’ is the most common ground for postponement sought by lawyers and witnesses.
Santiago’s statement comes after Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was rushed to the hospital Saturday because of high blood pressure.
Enrile is accused in the plunder complaint over the pork barrel scam.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales who is in the Senate Tuesday, estimates it will take less than a year to finish the case.

CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES, OMBUDSMAN OF THE PHILIPPINES: That one year that I gave is really just an estimate. It could be less. I don’t expect it to be more. It could be less. I will see to it that it won’t be more.

Despite the slow recovery of rich countries that trade with the Philippines and host overseas Filipinos, economic managers say the Philippines is on its way to solving its biggest problem -- poverty.
Officials say the Philippines can attract more investments that generate jobs, thanks to a stellar growth and credit rating upgrades.
Confidence is high the drive for inclusive growth will not be affected by the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam and the Zamboanga stand-off.

JOHN MARTIN MILLER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NESTLE PHILIPPINES: I think the investors’ sentiment is very positive at the moment.  The Philippines is really the good news story of ASEAN at the moment as we heard this morning going from the sick man of ASEAN to being the new tiger economy and I think that’s the bigger picture that people will see.

CESAR PURISIMA, FINANCE SECRETARY: The fact that we have been totally candid about it shows the maturation of our democracy and institutions and this is well for the good governance agenda of the President.

Tropical storm Odette -- international name Usagi -- remains almost stationary east of Tuguegarao City.
State weather bureau Pagasa says the storm is expected to be 300 km east of Aparri, Cagayan by Friday afternoon.
Storm warning signal number 1 is lifted over Cagayan.
It is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon, bringing light to moderate rain over western sections of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

A former US naval reservist opens fire at the Washington Navy Yard Monday, killing 12 people before being killed in a shootout with police.
Police identify the suspect as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, who served in the Navy from 2007 to 2011 before becoming a defense contractor.
Officials say the motive for the attack is still unknown.
Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray adds, “We don't have any reason at this stage to suspect terrorism, but certainly it has not been ruled out.”

The United Nations reveals what it calls “chilling” details of a sarin gas attack in Syria.
UN experts say they gathered “clear and convincing” evidence that surface-to-surface rockets took sarin gas into a Damascus suburb last month.
The US estimates about 1,400 died in the attack.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says investigators confirm “unequivocally and objectively that chemical weapons have been used in Syria” and adds this is a “war crime.”
The United States, Britain and France say the UN report shows troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used the weapons.
But Russia’s UN envoy says there should be more investigation into who is responsible.
Russia sides with the Syrian regime in blaming opposition rebels for the chemical assault.

At number 5, US whistleblower Edward Snowden is living under guard in Russia, which granted him temporary asylum on August 1.
Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena says the former CIA employee was able to travel incognito and is expecting visits from family members.
In a television interview, Kucharena says Snowden has more secret material from the US National Security Agency which he hasn’t handed over.
The US wants Russia to hand Snowden over for investigation.

At number 7, engineers in Italy successfully lift cruise ship Costa Concordia, 20 months after it ran aground.
32 people died when the ship ran aground off the Tuscan coast in January 2012.
Workers attached giant metal chains and cables to the cruise ship.
If the salvage operation goes wrong, toxic substances could leak into the sea.
The salvage is the biggest ever for a passenger ship that had 4,229 people from 70 countries on board.

And at number 9, global market research firm Nielsen reports Filipinos spend the least time on their smartphones compared to users in Southeast Asia.
In its report, Nielsen says Filipinos spend an average of 171 minutes a day in June.
This is equivalent to about 2.85 hours or a little less than 3 hours.
Malaysians average more than 4 hours, Thais spend 3.48 hours, and
Indonesians log 3.26 hours on their smartphones.
Filipinos spend the most time on entertainment activities.
Users depend on their smartphones for chatting, social networking, and entertainment.
Filipinos spend the most time -- about 50 minutes -- on entertainment.


Newscast production staff