Rappler Newscast | May 21, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- A New York-based human rights group exposes former mayor Rey Uy as the mastermind of a death squad in Tagum city.
- The Philippines showcases its rapid economic growth as it hosts the World Economic Forum on East Asia.
- Thailand's military calls for a meeting among rival political groups after declaring martial law
EX-MAYOR BEHIND DEATH SQUAD IN TAGUM - REPORT
New York-based group Human Rights Watch or HRW says former Tagum City mayor Rey Uy is the mastermind behind unsolved murders in the Davao del Norte capital.
HRW Asia’s deputy director Phelim Kine says Uy called the citizens “weeds” and, along with some local officials “underwrote targeted killings as a perverse form of crime control.”
The report says the Tagum death squad bankrolled by Uy was originally a crime-fighting group patterned after that of nearby Davao city.
That campaign propelled Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte to national fame.
The report contains interviews of 3 former squad members and the affidavit of
The report says at least 298 killings are attributed to the death squad between January 2007 and March 2013.
Many of the death squad’s members are reportedly on the city government’s payroll with a monthly salary of P 10,000 under the Civil Security Unit.
Uy denies the allegations.
He says “This death squad does not exist.
The killings in the city have many factors including revenge and business rivalry.”
HRW says national authorities failed to seriously investigate the majority of the Tagum killings.
It accuses President Benigno Aquino of having"largely ignored extrajudicial killings by death squads in Tagum City and other urban areas.”
PH TAKES CENTER STAGE IN WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
For the first time in more than two decades, the World Economic Forum or WEF on East Asia will be held in the Philippines.
Running Wednesday until Friday, WEF is an opportunity for business and government leaders to gather a year before the integration of ASEAN member-countries.
President Benigno Aquino is expected to showcase the Philippines’ stellar economic growth.
Once dubbed Asia's "sick man," the Philippines is now the fastest-growing economy in the region, next only to China.
In 2013, the country won investment grade status – indicative of investor confidence.
Leading forum delegates are the heads of states of the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as the Vice President of Myanmar.
WEF’s Southeast Asia head confirms China does not have official representatives to the WEF.
But he denies it is related to the ongoing territorial row with the Philippines.
Held against the backdrop of territorial disputes among East Asian nations, one of the WEF sessions will tackle Asia’s security outlook.
LACSON: YOLANDA OVER NAPOLES
After admitting that the rebuilding of Haiyan hit areas is painfully slow, rehabilitation secretary Ping Lacson says all units involved are poised to moved forward after a “special cabinet meeting.”
He says projects will start implementation by June.
PANFILO LACSON, REHABILITATION SECRETARY: It was a special cabinet meeting on Yolanda triggered by some issues presented by media and which I don’t regret by the way because I feel that one positive result or outcome that you know emerged after that issue concerning one or two or three cabinet secretaries who were not so cooperative. Somehow it has sped up things and now we’re there right now. I’m conﬁdent that by June or by the middle of June, we’ll be starting to implement the projects because the projects have been identiﬁed.
Lacson explains the absence of a master rehabilitation plan.
He hits back at detractors, including Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who blame the national government’s inaction.
PANFILO LACSON, REHABILITATION SECRETARY: Actually, there is no master rehabilitation plan yet submitted.
If Mayor Romualdez is telling you that there is incompetence in the national government agencies, well I think that’s an unfair indictment of the national government agencies.
Q: So you’re happy?
PANFILO LACSON, REHABILITATION SECRETARY: Especially after Friday, yes. In fact the following day i thanked the president for calling that special cabinet meeting cause he decided to take matters in his own hands. He directed speciﬁc department heads to do it now and do it fast.
Aside from his work as rehabilitation czar, Lacson also figured in the long-running pork barrel scandal.
Last April, he said he had another list of corrupt lawmakers.
Critics slammed him for getting involved because it muddled his focus.
PANFILO LACSON, REHABILITATION SECRETARY: I didn’t lose focus, I just got distracted a bit.
I got drawn into this not on purpose. Not really on my own liking or doing. It was natural, but as i said i wouldn’t shy away from this topic because ...
Q: It’s something you feel passionately about?
PANFILO LACSON, REHABILITATION SECRETARY: Yes, yes.
Lacson is a staunch critic of fund allocations for public officials.
He refused his pork barrel allocation during his time in the Senate.
PANFILO LACSON, REHABILITATION SECRETARY: Pork Barrel is very close to my heart, I fought against it for the longest time.
I was against it because I knew all the shenanigans in the implementation and I knew how hypocritical it is and know how much of government or taxpayer’s money is wasted in the pork barrel system. That’s the reason why Mrs. Napoles decided to bring to me the documents she had at that time because according to her, she could not trust anyone and she wanted it out because she was about to undergo surgery.
COMELEC ORDERS LAGUNA GOV TO STEP DOWN
In a unanimous decision Wednesday, the Commission on Elections or Comelec en banc orders Laguna Governor ER Ejercito to step down after disqualifying him.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes says the Comelec en banc promulgated its earlier decision
to disqualify Ejercito after evidence he overspent for his 2013 gubernatorial campaign.
Brillantes says Ejercito has one legal remedy left, which is to seek a temporary restraining order on the decision from the Supreme Court.
He says the order takes effect within 5 days if the SC doesn’t issue a TRO.
If this happens, Laguna Vice Governor Ramil Hernandez will take over.
In September 2013, Comelec’s First Division resolved to disqualify Ejercito after he was found to have spent P6 million in a TV ad - which is more than the P4.5-million limit set by law.
THAI MILITARY SUMMONS WARRING POLITICAL RIVALS
A day after declaring martial law, Thailand's military calls for a meeting with rival parties involved in the country’s growing unrest.
The military also invited Caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who replaced ousted premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
During the talks, Niwattumrong calls for fresh elections on August 3.
But the opposition wants to tackle graft allegations of the Yingluck administration.
It vows to stay on the streets until it has eradicated the "regime" represented by Yingluck's elder brother Thaksin.
General Prayut Chan-O-Cha defends his declaration of martial law.
He says he had to act because political tensions spiralled after deadly anti-government protests.
Prayut says "This must be resolved swiftly before I retire, otherwise I won't retire.
I will not allow Thailand to be like Ukraine or Egypt."
Thailand’s martial law includes media censorship.
Social media is also closely monitored, with explicit instructions to halt the distribution of "provocative" material or criticism of martial rule.
The military also issued an order appearing to ban media outlets from interviewing anyone other than current government or military officials.
TWIN NIGERIA CAR BOMBS KILL AT LEAST 118
A series of attacks in Nigeria - twin car bombings in the city of Jos kill at least 118 people Tuesday
while the northern city of Kano reels from a suicide car bomb attack Sunday, killing 4.
The attacks, on top of the recent kidnappings, raise questions about the Nigerian government's grip on the country’s security.
President Goodluck Jonathan calls the attacks a "tragic assault on human freedom" and condemns the perpetrators as "cruel and evil."
Jonathan faces calls for his resignation after failing to ensure the safety of Nigerians.
He also faces severe criticism for his lackluster response to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants.
PRINCE CHARLES COMPARES PUTIN TO HITLER: REPORT
Britain's Prince Charles sparks controversy by comparing the recent actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin to those of Adolf Hitler.
British newspaper’s Daily Mail on Wednesday reports several witnesses heard the prince make the comment to Holocaust survivor Marienne Ferguson during a trip to Canada.
Ferguson says, "I talked with him about my own family background and how I came to Canada.
The prince then said: 'And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.’”
Prince Charles is due to meet with Putin at D-Day commemorations in France on June 6.
Clarence House have so far declined to comment on the reports.
THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
wRap #7: SURPRISE, MICE LIKE TO RUN!
A recent study by Dutch researchers shows mice like to run on exercise wheels.
The researchers find out that field mice would voluntarily approach the wheel and use it for a minute or so before jumping off.
Some mice even play for up to 18 minutes.
Turns out, mice aren’t the only animals who like to exercise: rats, shrews, frogs and slugs are also drawn to the wheel.
wRap #8: IRAN POLICE ARREST 6 FOR ‘HAPPY’ VIDEO
Iranian police arrest at least six people on Monday for participating in a video showing them dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Mashable reports the police tracked down the identities of six alleged actors misled into appearing in the video, which has since gone viral.
The three women in the video did not wear the hijab, and are seen dancing with men, which is prohibited in Iran.
wRap #10: AUSTRALIA RESEARCHERS WANT TO MAP WORLD’S EMOTIONS
A group of researchers from Australia’s Black Dog Institute develop a tool to map moods around the world using people’s tweets.
They launch the “We Feel” online tool Tuesday, which analyzes English-language tweets containing words linked to emotions such as love, joy, surprise, and anger.
The data will be used to monitor global trends as well as to see how specific communities feel over time.
The Black Dog Institute is a non-profit facility offering diagnosis and treatment for the prevention of mood disorders.
For the full top 10 visit Rappler.com’s ‘the wRap.’
SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY
The arrest of six Iranians singing and dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” angers the world wide web.
It sparked the hashtag #FreeHappyIranians, punctuating the deluge of protests on social media.
Pharrell himself expressed dismay on Twitter, as well as Iranian journalist Golnaz Esfandiari.
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|