Rappler Newscast | March 10, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- Two days later, still no sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
- The Senate passes the Freedom of Information bill on third and final reading.
- Victims of a P7-billion housing scam won’t back down in a lawsuit against housing developer Delfin Lee.
Story 1: STILL NO SIGN OF MISSING MALAYSIA AIRLINES PLANE
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 on Saturday is a mystery to authorities and civilians.
It’s been two days, but authorities say there’s still no sign of the Beijing-bound flight that went off the radar about two hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur.
The plane, carrying 239 people and captained by a veteran pilot, did not send any distress signals when it disappeared near Vietnam.
Two objects resembling aircraft debris were found in waters off southern Vietnam Sunday.
That turned out to be a false alarm.
Anxious families wait for news as several countries send ships and planes to join in the search, zeroing in on waters off the remote Vietnamese island of Tho Chu.
Officials say there’s little to go on.
CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen says the range of possible reasons may include mechanical failure, pilot error, or terrorism.
Malaysia launches a terror probe after it was found that at least two passengers used stolen passports.
The Interpol confirms this, but says it’s too soon to speculate if there’s a connection between the stolen passports and the missing plane.
Christian Kozel of Austria and Luigi Maraldi of Italy were listed on the passenger list, but neither boarded the plane.
Records show tickets for the two were bought in Thailand. The passports were stolen there in 2012 and 2013.
The jet’s disappearance triggers Malaysia Airlines’ stock to drop 10% in early trading Monday.
The incident is a massive blow for the carrier struggling against low-cost rivals such as AirAsia.
Story 2: MIRIAM: CUNANAN QUALIFIED AS STATE WITNESS
Senator Miriam Santiago says Technology Resource Center head Dennis Cunanan is qualified to be a state witness, even if proven that he lied about receiving kickbacks from alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Napoles.
Santiago says that under the Rules of Court, an accused can become a state witness if --quote-- “it appears that he is not the most guilty.”
She adds, the state witness rule is an exception to the rule that when a witness is caught lying in one detail, he should be presumed to be lying in all details.
Santiago was among the senators who grilled Cunanan at the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam on Thursday.
Story 3: SENATE PASSES FOI BILL ON FINAL READING
The Senate on Monday passes the Freedom of Information or FOI bill on third and final reading with 21 affirmative votes.
Senator Grace Poe sponsored the bill, saying its passage was long overdue and will improve transparency in government.
The bill will allow access to government documents of high public interest.
But it does not cover Cabinet discussions, matters of national security, diplomatic affairs, and ongoing police investigations – subject to limits.
The FOI bill is among the Senate’s priorities for 2014, despite the President's refusal to certify the bill as urgent.
The House of Representatives is keen on passing the bill by 2016.
Story 4: GA HOMEOWNERS VOW TO PURSUE CASE VS LEE
The man behind an alleged P7 billion housing scam was arrested last week, but Vice President Jejomar Binay warns there are influential people backing housing developer Delfin Lee.
Despite this, the victims of the scam say they won’t be fooled into a settlement.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
Evelyn Niebres can hardly sleep at night.
For 20 years, the milkfish trader dreamed and saved up for a home to call her own, only to find out that the house she bought in Mabalacat, Pampanga is not under her name.
Evelyn’s house belongs to a ghost buyer, part of a P7 billion housing scam that Globe Asiatique or GA President Deflin Lee allegedly orchestrated.
When Lee was arrested Thursday after two years in hiding, Evelyn dared to hope that the syndicated estafa case she and other homeowners filed will finally move forward.
EVELYN NIEBRES, XEVERA MABALACAT HOMEOWNER: Daig pa namin ang nanalo sa lotto nung nahuli. P1.537 million ang nawala sa akin. Walang titulo. Ang mother, brother ko namatay, di ko matulungan kasi wala akong titulong pwede masangla. (It’s almost like we won the lottery when he (Lee) was arrested…I lost P1.537 million. I didn’t have a land title. My mother and brother died but I couldn’t help because I didn’t have a land title I can pawn.)
Evelyn is just one of the homeowners who fell victim to the double or triple sale of property, where GA supposedly used fake documents to secure loans from Pag-IBIG Fund.
The homeowners say they were drawn to the subdivision’s amenities, the best in their province.
But it was too good to be true.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: A school, a church, a commercial center and even a carnival.
Delfin Lee’s Xevera Subdivision here in Mabalacat, Pampanga promised its homeowners a complete community.
But their dream of owning their own homes soon decayed, much like these facilities.
In a dialogue with Pag-IBIG chairman Vice President Jejomar Binay, residents say they are worried about reports the wealthy businessman will evade punishment.
Binay admits there are powerful people backing Lee, besides Oriental Governor Alfonso Umali.
JEJOMAR BINAY, PHILIPPINE VICE PRESIDENT: Meron pa pero di ko na sasabihin basta’t alam nila na sila ang aking tinutukoy…Wala akong binanggit na pangalan, ayoko ring magbanggit pa, alam naman nila sino silang tinutukoy ko. Eh merong isa umamin sa telepono siya nagsabi. (Lee has more backers but I won’t say more. They know who they are. I did not and will not name names. They know I’m referring to them. One of them confessed over the phone.)
Binay calls on more homeowners to join the 162 victims and Pag-IBIG Fund in pursuing a case against Lee.
The Vice President and the homeowners reject hospital arrest for Lee and want him detained at the provincial jail.
Despite Lee’s money and influence, they say they will never back down.
WILLIAM SEBASTIAN, XEVERA HOMEOWNER: Hanggang kamatayan ilalaban namin. Hindi na po kami aatras. (We’ll fight till we die. We will not back down.)
MARIZA DAYAO, XEVERA HOMEOWNER: Lahat ng paghihirap po dapat ibigay sa kanya. Dapat nga po ikulong siya sa isang maliit na kulungan. Na talagang maranasan niya lahat ng paghihirap po... na naranasan naming mga niloko niya. (He should suffer. He should be jailed in a small cell so he can experience all the hardships of the people he victimized.)
Evelyn says her dream of a home is now a nightmare.
EVELYN NIEBRES, XEVERA HOMEOWNER: Walang security, nandito sa loob ang nagnanakaw. Para kaming dinala sa slum area. (There was no security, it was an inside job. It’s like we were brought to the slum area.)
The homeowners vow to see the case until the end to finally get their titles and their peace of mind.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Pampanga.
Story 5: PNP, DELFIN LEE AND 2 CONFLICTING LETTERS
The Philippine National Police or PNP says arrested property developer Delfin Lee was never “delisted” from their wanted list, despite a certification from the PNP Criminal Investigation Group or CIDG.
Lee and 4 others face syndicated estafa charges for the alleged use of ghost borrowers to obtain P6.6 billion worth of loans from Pag-IBIG Fund in 2009.
Two letters from different PNP officials appear to contradict each other.
A letter from PNP chief Alan Purisima to Lee’s counsel Emmanuel Pichay says the PNP was “in the process of de-listing Mr. Delfin Lee from the list of wanted persons…The Secretary of the Interior and Local Government [Mar Roxas] is the final authority in the approval of the said de-listing."
On January 15, 2014, the CIDG released a document to certify the absence of arrest warrants for Lee based on a November 2013 Court of Appeals ruling upholding a lower court verdict in favor of Lee.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the CIDG's certification was an "honest mistake" since it was based on the CA verdict.
Story 6: EXCLUSIVE: CHR PROBES PMA CADET DISMISSAL, EXAMINES HONOR SYSTEM
Six days before the Philippine Military Academy graduation on March 16, the chances that dismissed Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia will march with his classmates are now slim.
The case triggers national outrage, and now the Commission on Human Rights is stepping into the controversy.
This exclusive report from Carmela Fonbuena.
LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: I am just as shocked as everybody else that a salutatorian, a bright boy, should not be allowed to graduate because he lied. When you look into the lie, I think it was just that he may not have been able to explain himself as accurately as he should have…My goodness, are you going to sacrifice his ranking as salutatorian – which is important to him whether he continues in the military or whether he continues outside later on?
The Commission on Human Rights intervenes in the case of dismissed PMA Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia.
The commission wants to know if the cadet's right to be heard, to due process, and right to education were violated when the Honor Committee declared him guilty of lying.
The Honor Committee is composed entirely of PMA students.
LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: When he said that the class was dismissed late that wasn’t exactly accurate. The class was not really dismissed late. it was dismissed really on time. but they were asked to stay longer. i guess it was a question of precision and accuracy.
The PMA Honor Code implores cadets not to lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those among them who do so.
Cudia was expected to resign honorably but he decides to fight back.
He alienates cadets and alumni who are very protective of the code.
The Facebook posts of his family go viral, giving the public a rare glimpse into the academy.
Cudia and his family divulge details of what they call a mistrial.
The academy is tightlipped and maintains the process is confidential.
The public outcry prompts the Chief of Staff to order a re-investigation.
But the graduation is on Sunday, March 16, and the PMA has yet to release the results.
Even if the decision favors Cudia, he has no time to complete the academic requirements that will allow him to graduate with his classmates.
CHR chairman Loretta Rosales says she wants to review the academy’s honor system to see if there is a need to reform it.
She raises questions about the confidentiality of the investigation.
LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: You can only know if something is correct if there is a check and balance.... When you talk about the integrity of the process, we are talking about transparency. Hindi mo dapat itinatago 'yan. Otherwise, kulto ang labas mo diyan. (You shouldn’t keep it under wraps. Otherwise, you’re no different from a cult.)
She says it is the best time to review the honor system as the Armed Forces vows to clean up its record of human rights violations.
LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: The PMA is the one that molds the consciousness and the mindset of the future military officers. They are vital. They are crucial. What they learned in the academy will guide their behavior when they are no longer with the PMA.
Rosales appeals for the PMA’s cooperation.
In 2012 the military signed an agreement to inculcate respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in its systems.
The cadet’s case is going to be a test of that commitment.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila
Story 7: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi speaks about the importance of free press in Myanmar, which is going through a political transition.
During the East-West Center’s international media conference in Yangon, Suu Kyi says -quote- , “The press must teach us to understand what democratic responsibilities are by themselves exercising the responsibility…Without a free press we cannot really lay the foundations of a democracy.”
Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s democracy icon.
She spent more than 15 years in detention for opposing the Burmese military junta during the 90s.
At number 9, Researchers find new evidence of new gases that can destroy the earth’s ozone layer.
The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet rays that damage living organisms.
Three of the gases are types of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, which are banned from production due to its adverse effects on the ozone.
Where these gases come from remains a mystery.
A scientist conducting research on the gases says insecticides and cleaning solvents may be the culprit.
And at number 10, The World Wide Web marks its 25th birthday Wednesday.
On March 12, 1989, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee presented a way to access files on linked computers.
His colleagues in Switzerland’s CERN lab “completely ignored” his proposal but he won them over…
when he demonstrated the usefulness of his system by compiling a lab phone
book into an online index.
Marc Weber of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley says there was --quote-- “a tremendous amount of hubris in the project at the beginning.”
Repellent spray for mosquitoes image from Shutterstock
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|