Rappler Newscast | June 24, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- Investigators confirm charges of sex abuse against a staff member of the labor department in the Middle East.
- The Philippine Stock Exchange index plunges, nearly wiping out all of this year’s gains.
The Ampatuans offer settlements to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre if they name Toto Mangudadatu as the mastermind.
Story 1: PROBERS 'CONFIRM' SEX CHARGE VS DOLE STAFF
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says investigators “confirm” certain allegations in the sex-for-flight case hounding embassy staff in the Middle East.
In a press conference, Del Rosario says these involve a staff member of the Department of Labor and Employment in the Middle East.
He adds, “This was accomplished by 3 witnesses from Riyadh coming forward and providing us their testimony.”
He says the staff member is charged with sexual harassment, molestation, and abuse of authority.
Del Rosario says the staff member has been recalled and will be investigated when he arrives in the Philippines.
Last week, Del Rosario hinted "internal politics" could be at play in the sex-for-flight exposé.
He says the person who exposed this alleged scheme is a senior DFA officer.
Political party Bayan Muna says the alleged sex-for-flight scheme is --quote-- “just the tip of the iceberg" and must be fueled by the crackdown of host countries on undocumented OFWs.
On Monday, Bayan Muna Rep Neri Colmenares says undocumented OFWs, especially in Saudi Arabia, are --quote-- “getting desperate” especially with the resumption of crackdown efforts on July 3.
The Saudi government ordered a 3-month grace period for "illegal" workers to clarify their status.
Story 2: SEX CASES PROMPT CHANGES IN HALFWAY HOUSES
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says the Philippine government eyes “institutional changes” in halfway houses for distressed overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.
This comes after Akbayan Rep Walden Bello exposed details of an alleged sex-for-flight scheme by embassy staff in various posts in the Middle East.
OFW rights group Migrante says the alleged sex-for-flight schemes begin in the halfway houses, or the Filipino Workers' Resource Centers.
OFWs who ran away from abusive employers stay in FWRCs until they get repatriated.
After meeting with ambassadors over the weekend, Del Rosario says the government is considering to assign one “house mother” per halfway house.
Del Rosario also says there should be --quote-- “no fraternization between embassy officials, including attached agencies, directly with their wards."
Story 3: DENR: DEPOT SOURCE OF OIL SPILL TO FACE CHARGERS
Government is cleaning up the oil spill that contaminated the Pasig River over the weekend.
The environment department has suspended operations of the depot and vows to file charges.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
MARITES MALABANAN, RESIDENT: It really smells bad. Sometimes it goes away, sometimes it comes back, The next day my head hurt and my chest hurt.
Marites Malabanan is a mother of 4.
She says the stench from the Pasig river roused her family from sleep.
She lives in Brgy Sto Nino across the river from Larraine Marketing -- the oil depot responsible for the oil spill last June 22.
Manila City Administrator Jesus Marzan says L&M is only allowed to store petroleum, not used oil.
Initial findings show the spill was used oil.
Tank 9, one of the depot's 10 tanks is the source.
JESUS MARI MARZAN, CITY ADMINISTRATOR: Part of the investigation yan because ngayon pa lang naubos yung laman. A water test will identify where it came from.
The Coast Guard says the leak stopped 3pm, Sunday.
To prevent the oil spill from spreading, the clean-up crew uses a boom and absorbers.
Two days after the spill, water on the river is an oily green.
Dead fish float on the surface.
NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: The Coast Guard estimates it will take 2-3 days to finish clean up. So far, only 200L of the estimated 1000L of oil spilled have been retrieved. Officials say it will be impossible to collect 100% of the spill.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources suspends L&M's operations and vows to file charges.
DENR official Vizminda Osorio says the depot does not have a permit to operate-- not since 2005.
VIZMINDA OSORIO, DENR OFFICIAL: We've suspended their operations effective today. The only thing they will do is the clean up because we have yet to determine the damage or extent of damage.
The lawyer of L&M cries sabotage.
He says someone deliberately spilled oil in the river.
The depot is deep in a labor dispute.
Officials promise they will get to the bottom of the leak.
But for Marites and the residents of Brgy Sto Nino, it is little comfort.
They only want to be assured it will not happen again.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.
Story 4: PSEI WIPES OUT NEARLY ALL OF YEAR'S GAINS
Local shares continue to plunge Monday, erasing nearly all of their gains this year, on news the United States plans to reel in its stimulus program.
The Philippine Stock Exchange index or PSEi falls 211.12 points or 3.42% to 5,971.05.
This means the PSEi is holding on to a gain of only 1.9% from its 5,860.99 close on the first trading day of the year.
All counters were in negative territory, led by the financial index, which lost 4.69%.
Losers outnumber gainers, 165 to 17, while 34 stocks were unchanged.
Global markets remain turbulent after the US Federal Reserve's announcement it sees growth firm enough to begin pulling back the stimulus program.
This program aims to hold interest rates down and encourage investment.
While the move shows the US economy is gaining strength, dealers fear it means there will be less cash in the financial system to invest.
Regional markets fall Monday, with Hong Kong’s index down 1.66% to 19,926.26 while Nikkei declines 0.02% to 13,227.02.
Story 5: LAWYER: AMPATUANS WANT TO PIN DOWN MANGUDADATU IN MASSACRE
Lawyer Harry Roque says the families of at least 14 of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre were offered settlements if they identify Maguindanao Gov Esmael Mangudadatu as the culprit behind the killings.
Mangudadatu's wife and other relatives are among the 58 killed in the November 2009 massacre.
Eyewitnesses named the Ampatuans, who are charged for the murders.
Roque, counsel for a number of the victims’ families, tells Rappler “a close associate of the Ampatuans” promised a financial settlement.
He adds, “Under this scheme, the victims were to sign not just a waiver and quitclaim but also an affidavit pinning the blame for the massacre on Governor Toto Mangundadatu.”
Roque says 14 families signed an authority to negotiate with the alleged Ampatuan associate, but he adds no settlement or waiver was signed.
Story 6: PAF PLANE CRASHES OFF PALAWAN
A Philippine Air Force OV-10 aircraft crashes off Palawan after failing to return to base from a training flight.
On Sunday, the Air Force conducts a special training flight with two of its OV-10 aircraft, but only one returned.
Air Force Spokesman Lt Col Miguel Okol says, "We lost contact with the pilot of the missing OV-10 since 7:35pm June 23.”
Coast Guard spokesperson Lt Greaneta Jude says as of 10 am Monday, they located the nose of the ill-fated plane one nautical mile off Puerto Princesa Bay.
Search vessels also found floating debris of what looked like the tail section of the missing aircraft Monday afternoon.
Jude adds, “We can assume that the plane had crashed and landed in the waters.”
Authorities did not identify the two missing pilots.
All air, naval and ground units of the military's Western Command and the Philippine Coast Guard are conducting search and rescue operations.
Story 7: MINISTER: SNOWDEN SEEKS ASYLUM IN ECUADOR
Ecuador's foreign minister says US whistleblower Edward Snowden asks for asylum.
He is trying to escape US authorities after revealing a vast phone and Web surveillance program.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announces Snowden's asylum request on his Twitter account.
On Sunday, Snowden arrives in Moscow from Hong Kong, where he first fled with documents from the National Security Agency.
It’s not clear exactly where he is now because he didn’t board the Havana-bound flight he booked.
The US government says Hong Kong's decision to allow Snowden to travel is --quote-- “troubling" because the State Department revoked his passport and ordered other countries to keep him from traveling.
The Wikileaks website says it helped organize Snowden's safe exit and confirms he is bound for Ecuador to seek asylum.
Ecuador has been sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy for the past year.
The country is led by President Rafael Correa, an outspoken leftist, populist and critic of the United States in the mold of his late mentor, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
Last week, US authorities charged Snowden with espionage.
His latest interview contains new revelations about US cyber-espionage against Chinese targets.
China's official news agency Xinhua responds to the report, branding Washington a spy "villain."
In the latest revelations in the South China Morning Post, Snowden says the NSA was hacking Chinese mobile phone companies to gather data from millions of text messages.
He says US spies also hacked the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing -- home to one of six "network backbones" that route all of mainland China's Internet traffic --
and the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which operates one of the Asia-Pacific region's largest fibre-optic networks.
Story 8: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 2, Malaysia's government declares a state of emergency in two southern districts choked by smoke from forest fires in Indonesia.
On Sunday, the air pollution index or API in the town of Muar hits 750, a 16-year high for the country.
The other two southern towns also reached hazardous levels. In Malaysia, an API level of more than 300 is defined as -- quote -- "hazardous."
Haze is an annual problem during summer months, when winds blow smoke from forest fires in Indonesia.
At number 5, South Africa’s president announces Nelson Mandela is in critical condition.
Earlier, officials said Mandela was in a serious but stable condition while under intensive treatment at Pretoria’s Mediclinic Heart Hospital.
On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela and was told the hero’s condition had --quote-- “become critical over the past 24 hours."
At number 8, US daredevil Nik Wallenda becomes the first man to cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope Monday.
The 34-year-old, who walked across the Niagara Falls last year, says winds were higher than expected as he crossed a Canyon tributary gorge some 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River in eastern Arizona.
He takes just under 23 minutes to cross 1,400 feet - faster than anticipated.
And at number 9, watch out for reality TV show “Apprentice Asia.”
12 contestants -- successful businessmen and women -- will be pitted against each other in what’s being called the "world’s toughest job interview."
At stake is a 6-figure salary position under Tony Fernandes, one of Asia’s most recognized entrepreneurs.
The show is timely as the economic spotlight swivels toward Asia where developing economies show robust growth levels.
Story 9: SAMSUNG PREMIER 2013
Samsung launches a new set of gadgets at Earl's Court London expanding their list of Android and Windows-8 powered devices.
Josh Villanueva reports.
Samsung unveils a slew of new products at its Premiere 2013 event at Earls Court Two in London.
Following the success of its flagship smartphone the Galaxy S4 - Samsung expands the brand with 3 new smartphones, each targeted at meeting a different class of consumer.
For those who want something a little-less fancy there is the S4 mini. Smaller than the S4 but with less powerful specs -- and more importantly cheaper.
The S4 Active - made for those who live an outdoors lifestyle - almost matches the original S4 spec-per-spec but is water and dust resistant.
The phone can be used to take underwater photos and videos.
And the S4 Zoom. On one side a smartphone and on the other a digital camera that can shoot 16 megapixel images with 10X optical zoom, and a Xenon flash.
Photography enthusiasts will particularly love the new Galaxy NX.
The world’s first interchangeable lens camera that runs on Android OS.
Users can pop in a data sim and use LTE or Wifi to connect to social networking apps like Facebook and Instagram.
The Galaxy NX comes with 30 different smart modes for beginners and an expert mode for users who don’t need help figuring out settings.
The camera will work with any of 13 available NX lenses including a 45mm lens that can shoot 3D photos and videos.
Samsung also announced several new Windows-8 powered devices, including the world’s smallest Windows 8 tablet the Ativ Tab 3.
And the Ativ Q - a tablet and PC convertible that runs both Windows 8 and Android.
With the press of a button users can switch between Windows and Android.
They can even pin Android apps to a Windows 8 tile and launch it with a simple tap.
We tried Angry Birds for Android on the device and it worked without any hiccups.
The Ativ Q can be used in several modes, including tablet mode, typing mode where it resembles a traditional notebook computer, and stand mode reminiscent of how you’d prop your tablet up when watching videos.
JOSH VILLANUEVA, REPORTING: While this was clearly Samsung’s event. The event was all about Android. Two of the most important devices announced at Premier 2013 - a windows 8 convertible and a compact system camera came with Android OS underscoring the important role the mobile OS is playing in our daily lives.
Josh Villanueva. Rappler, London.
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|