Rappler Newscast | February 25, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- The Philippines protests China’s firing of a water cannon at Filipino fishermen at the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
- Sen Revilla says Interior Secretary Mar Roxas is the scriptwriter of pork barrel scam witness Dennis Cunanan.
- Uganda's president defends his anti-gay bill, calling homosexuals “unnatural” and “disgusting.”
Story 1: PEOPLE POWER AT 28: BEYOND EDSA
Every 25th of February, Filipinos commemorate the day when democracy trumped a dictatorship.
It’s been 28 years since thousands of Filipinos gathered along Metro Manila’s EDSA highway to oust dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
This year, President Benigno Aquino departs from tradition.
Natashya Gutierrez joins us from Tacloban.
For the first time in history, President Benigno Aquino III chooses to celebrate the EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary outside of Manila.
He opts to stage the annual Salubungan in Cebu, and spends the day visiting provinces to check on the progress of his administration's rehabilitation efforts.
The President hails his government's projects to build back better, but he also learns of a serious problem: from Cebu to Davao Oriental to Leyte, rehabilitation is too slow according to victims and local government officials.
In Tacloban which was hardest-hit by Yolanda, only 1% of the affected community is living in bunkhouses.
Victims say they feel the support of non-government organizations like the United Nations, but not of the government's.
This is what Aquino has to say about the criticisms of slow relief, and why its taking longer than planned for the national government to fund rehabilitation projects.
BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Lahat lang kailangang i-vet, okay. Ive-vet, bakit ninyo ive-verify [kung] tama ito? Kasi kailangan na iyong itatayo natin makakatulong doon sa komunidad na higit kaysa doon sa dating tinutulong nitong mga iba't ibang imprastruktura. (We just need to vet everything. Why do we have to verify everything is right? Because what we're rebuilding has to be able to help the community more than it did.)
But he is also adamant the government is doing enough.
Aquino attends a ground breaking for permanent housing in Tanauan, Leyte for Yolanda victims and says the government is working with other countries to rehabilitate schools as well as private companies to meet infrastructure needs like the building of Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center hospital in Tacloban.
This, on top of the various efforts outlined by Aquino including continued distribution of food packs, cash-for-work programs and restoring victims' livelihood.
BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Alam mo baka dapat interviewhin ninyo iyong mga foreign aid workers --- UN and others. Dahil sila ang parating umaabot sa akin, binabanggit noong may nagkaroon ng trahedya sa Haiti o iyong nagawa raw natin sa isang buwan, nagawa doon sa lugar na iyon in one year. (You know you should interview foreign aid workers like the UN and others. Because they tell me that compared to Haiti, what we've done in a month is more than what they've done there in one year.)
Aquino does admit through the administration still needs to work on restoring electricity.
In Davao Oriental, he learns 57% are still without power over a year since typhoon Pablo, while bunkhouses in Tacloban have no electricity despite the government' promise it would provide it for free.
He admits they still have work to do but denies the government is not doing enough.
BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: We may not have been perfect and I'll admit that. Pero para sabihin na we didn't exercise maximum effort e medyo over naman yata yon. (But to say we didn't exercise maximum effort, that's not fair.)
Indeed its an unusual way to celebrate the 28th anniversary of EDSA but Aquino argues his decision to tour calamity-hit areas is appropriate.
The President says victims embody the true spirit of EDSA by their ability to rise to whatever challenge they face.
Story 2: PH PROTESTS CHINA 'WATER CANNON' INCIDENT
The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA protests the Chinese coast guard's firing of a water cannon at Filipino fishermen at the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez says it strongly protests China’s efforts to stop Filipinos from fishing in the shoal.
The department also says 9 other instances of harassment happened last year when Chinese vessels drove away Philippine fishing vessels seeking shelter in the shoal during stormy weather.
President Benigno Aquino demands an explanation from China over a report its coast guard fired water cannons at Filipino fishermen.
Scarborough Shoal lies just 220 km off the main Philippine island of Luzon.
It’s about 650 km from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese land mass.
Both sides engaged in a tense standoff in the area in April 2012, which ended with the Philippines retreating from the shoal.
China insists it has "indisputable sovereignty" over the area.
China claims most of the South China Sea, despite overlapping claims by neighboring countries.
Responding to reports of harassment, the Philippine military beefs up coverage of the disputed shoal.
The responsibility over the disputed shoal is transferred to the Palawan-based Western Command or Wescom, which has more ships and aircraft that can patrol the high seas.
Story 3: REVILLA: ROXAS IS CUNANAN'S SCRIPTWRITER
Senator Bong Revilla dismisses the statements of pork barrel scam witness Dennis Cunanan.
In his office Tuesday, Revilla denies Cunanan’s claim that he pressured the Technology Resource Center or TRC to expedite the release of pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations.
He also accuses Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of orchestrating Cunanan’s testimony.
He says Cunanan is reciting from a script written by Roxas.
Revilla’s tirade comes a week before Cunanan testifies before the Senate blue ribbon committee in a hearing on Thursday, March 6.
Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Revilla face a plunder complaint for allegedly conniving with pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.
Story 4: UP DILIMAN FACULTY TO VOTE ON CALENDAR SHIFT
Professors and students of the University of the Philippines’ Diliman campus refuse to join the system-wide academic calendar shift.
They want to keep their June to March calendar.
Jee Geronimo reports.
As the debate over the shift in the academic calendar heats up, the voice of dissent grows.
While most major universities and the entire UP system are starting classes in August instead of July, the UP system’s flagship unit refuses to budge.
Professors claim there was a glitch in the decision-making process.
RAMON GUILLERMO, PROFESSOR, UP DILIMAN SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Yun nga yung mali sa proseso sa aming palagay. Kailangan kasi nagkaroon muna ng system-wide forum para naipasok ang lahat ng researches. Kasi yung ating mga espesyalista at faculty naman, di lang galing sa Diliman yan. May mga taga-Mindanao, may mga UPLB -- ang daming specialization. Ang dami sanang naipasok dun sa diskusyon. (There was something wrong with the process. There should have been a system-wide forum to take into account all researches, because our specialists and faculty are not only from Diliman. There those from Mindanao, UPLB, other specializations. There could have been more inputs to the discussion.)
The teachers say there's no evidence the shift matters in becoming globally competitive.
The University of the Philippines has fallen behind its international counterparts over the decades.
From 348th in 2012, it is now 380th in world rankings.
The faculty argue, almost half of the university’s partners open classes between February and March, not August or September.
EDUARDO TADEM, PROFESSOR, UP ASIAN CENTER: There is a certain deception that is taking place. None of us are against internationalization per se, none of us are against calendar shift per se, but to connect the two is, for me, a major deception on the part of the UP administration, and that is totally unacceptable for an academic community.
They also fear extreme weather conditions in the coming years will just make life harder for students.
GERRY LANUZA, PROFESSOR, COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY: Hinahamon po sana namin, hindi lang hinahamon, inaanyayahan namin ang mga administrador na masyadong matalino para magpropose ng mga ganito. Na sila ay nakabarong, naka-Amerikana, na naka-coat pa, na bumaba sa kanilang mga opisina na may 2 horsepower na aircondition, at magturo sa summer, full load, ng 12 units, sa 3rd floor or 4th floor na wala pong ventilation at may mga bentilador at ceiling fan ngunit mas mabilis pa ang ikot ng kamay ko dun sa betilador, at kung may electric fan man, ito ay dekorasyon lamang. (We are challenging, not just challenging but also inviting our administrators that are too smart to propose this. Our administrators wearing barongs, coat and tie, we ask them to go out of their offices equipped with 2 horsepower air conditioners and teach during summer, full load of 12 units, at the 3rd or 4th floor where there's no ventilation and with ceiling fans that barely work and electrics fans that do not work at all.)
Student leaders also oppose the shift.
They say increase scholarships first.
How will they break the impasse?
Shrinking prestige, shrinking budgets and a deteriorating quality of education.
These are just some of the festering issues UP faces.
After a decision is reached, will the once premiere university in Asia move on to solving its real problems?
Jee Geronimo, Rappler, Manila
Story 5: SC ALLOWS CUSTOMS TO SEIZE ALLEGED SMUGGLED RICE FOR NOW
The Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily reverses the order of a regional trial court judge in Davao that prevents the Bureau of Customs or BOC from seizing allegedly smuggled rice shipments of a trading firm.
The BOC held the alleged smuggled goods after they entered through the Port of Davao without an import permit from the National Food Authority or NFA.
Judge Emmanuel Carpio ordered them to be released to businessman Joseph Ngo.
In his appeal, businessman Ong said the NFA's quantitative restrictions or QR – which requires permits for rice imports – can no longer be imposed because of the expiration of the Special Treatment for Rice Importation.
The NFA's power to implement QR on the volume of rice entering the country was granted by the World Trade Organization, but this expired in June 2012.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says volume restrictions on rice imports will have economic implications.
LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: May mga economic implications 'yan, implications on the national economy beyond agriculture," she said. "So I'm hoping na magkaroon ng talagang discussions diyan sa Cabinet level. We want a clear policy guidance. Although the existing policy now espoused by the DA and NFA is the continued imposition of QR. (There are economic implications there, implication on the national economy beyond agriculture. So I'm hoping that there will be discussions on the cabinet level. We want a clear policy guidance. Although the existing policy now espoused by the DA and NFA is the continued imposition of QR.)
Story 6: CUSTOMS REVENUE ON FIRST DAY OF TRUCK BAN
The customs bureau reports a drop in revenue on the first day of the daytime truck ban in the city of Manila.
From a daily average of almost P360 million, the Manila International Container Port generates only P262.8 million.
From a daily average of P253 million, the Port of Manila reports only P134.4 million in revenue.
On Monday, Manila banned trucks from entering the city from 5 am to 9 pm, with a window period from 10 am to 3 pm.
Truck owners and operators oppose the ban, saying it will affect business.
Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, Russia denounces the West for supporting the ouster of Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych's rule ends after a series of protests plague Ukraine’s capital Kiev over his rejection of a trade deal with the European Union.
Russia's statement comes as the West prepares to help Ukraine stabilize its economy.
Russia earlier said it will freeze $15 billion in loans to Ukraine.
At number 5, Despite fierce criticism from human rights groups and warnings from foreign donors, Uganda's president remains defiant after signing an anti-gay bill in December 2013.
President Yoweri Musevini’s bill outlaws the promotion of homosexuality, imposes lifetime jail terms for homosexuals, and requires people to denounce them.
In an interview, Museveni says being homosexual is "unnatural" and not a human right.
He says homosexuals are - quote - “disgusting,” mercenaries, and prostitutes.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says the law "may lead to abuse of power."
And at number 6, the Pentagon plans to scale down US Army troops.
US defense secretary Chuck Hagel proposes to cut the 520,000 soldiers on active duty down to at least 440,000 soldiers.
This brings the US Army down to its lowest levels since the years prior to World War II.
Hagel says the Army no longer plans to conduct massive stability operations after Iraq and Afghanistan.
A senior defense official says the proposed reduction in the army would be carried out by 2017.
Story 8: SAMSUNG FOCUSES ON 'USEFUL' FEATURES FOR THE GALAXY S5
2013 top smartphone manufacturer Samsung unveils its latest flagship smartphone - the Galaxy S5 - at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Josh Villanueva gives us his first impressions.
Hype surrounds the release of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
There’s great expectation to deliver a phone that not only looks and feels different but also comes with the next big thing.
But Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone isn’t the stunner that we expected.
The South Korean company sticks to its tried and tested formula and retains a 3-year old design.
Up front the phone looks very much like its predecessors the S3 and S4, with only one aesthetic difference -- a perforated faux leather back.
Even its TouchWiz user interface didn’t get the make-over many expected.
The phone is faster and more powerful but doesn’t have one key feature that screams innovation.
Two of its new features are borrowed from competitors: a built-in fingerprint scanner and its water resistant features.
But there are a couple of features worth noting.
Its built-in heart rate monitor ties in to its new line of fitness watches and sports bands.
Safety Assistance lets users send distress messages with 3 quick presses of a power button, sends you disaster warnings depending on your location and can switch your phone’s mode to last up to 15 days.
And there’s a new and improved 16 megapixel camera with the world’s fastest autofocus on a smartphone.
The S5 also includes a 1/2.6-inch image sensor that affects the quality of photos - the larger the better.
The Galaxy S5 will be released globally in April.
Josh Villanueva, Rappler, Manila.
Newscast Production Staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Exxon Ruebe|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|
|Raffy de Guzman|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|