Rappler Newscast | September 4, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- The United Nations defends its chief of peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, accused of putting Filipinos in danger.
- A former Makati city employee says fixing bids for city projects was common practice.
- The death toll for the Ebola epidemic crosses 1,900.
UN BACKS COMMANDER, DENIES PH SOLDIERS' CLAIM
The United Nations defends the commander of the UN Disengagement Observer Forces or UNDOF.
The Philippine military accuses the commander of putting Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights in danger.
UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous says Lieutenant General Iqbal Singha exercised "good, sound judgment" during the standoff last week between Filipino soldiers and Syrian rebels affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
The rebels stormed UN encampments, kidnapped Fijian peacekeepers and demanded the Filipino troops surrender their weapons.
The soldiers refused, resulting in a standoff that escalated into a 7-hour firefight.
Philippine military chief Gregorio Catapang Jr says UNDOF commander Lieutenant General Singha wanted the Filipinos to surrender their weapons to the rebels.
Catapang says the military considered the order an attempt to make the Filipino troops "sacrificial pawns"to save the kidnapped Fijian peacekeepers.
But Ladsous denies this.
He says the Filipinos were ordered to
"leave the weapons quiet so as to give some space but never to hand over weapons, not to shoot."
Running out of ammunition, the Filipino soldiers later executed an escape mission midnight on September 1.
Catapang initially wanted the UN to investigate Singha but later said he will defer to President Benigno Aquino’s decision.
GEN GREGORIO CATAPANG, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF: Ganun talaga, it’s a blame game na ngayon, but ayaw naman namin na magsisihan tayo kasi tapos na ito eh.
(It has turned into a blame game, and we don’t want it to happen because the standoff’s over.)
FORMER EMPLOYEE: FIXING BIDS 'USUAL PRACTICE' IN MAKATI
During a Senate hearing on an allegedly overpriced Makati city hall building a former employee says fixing bids for city projects was the usual practice in the local government.
Former city bids and awards vice chairman Mario Hechanova says he was given P200,000 a month, to pick only companies endorsed by the Binay family.
MARIO HECHANOVA, FORMER MAKATI CITY BIDS AND AWARDS VICE CHAIRMAN: Kalakaran na po sa Makati iyan, ganyan na po ginagawa namin.
(That’s the usual practice in Makati. That’s what we do.)
(Q: Lahat ng bidding sa Makati niluluto ninyo para may manalong favored contractor?)
All the biddings in Makati are fixed so that the project goes to a favored contractor?
Totoo po sir, lahat po luto po iyan.
(Yes sir. It’s all fixed.)
This is the Senate’s fourth hearing over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
The probe is based on a plunder case filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.
The Binay family dismisses the investigation as a demolition job.
Hechanova says former Makati City Engineer Nelson Morales told him to give the city hall building project to Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, allegedly on the orders of then mayor Binay.
Q: Dito ba sa transaksyon na ito may anomalya bang nangyari?
(Did any anomalies occur in this transaction?)
MARIO HECHANOVA, FORMER MAKATI CITY BIDS AND AWARDS VICE CHAIRMAN: Meron po, senador.
(There were anomalies, senator.)
(What were these anomalies?)
MARIO HECHANOVA, FORMER MAKATI CITY BIDS AND AWARDS VICE CHAIRMAN: Bago po ipa-bid itong project na ito, ipinatawag ako ng city engineer namin. Pinapunta ako sa kanyang opisina at sinabi sa akin, Mario, gaya ng dati, alam mo na kung sino ang dapat manalo sa project na ito.
(Before they opened the project for bidding, the city engineer called for me. They asked me to go to his office. He said, ‘Mario, like before, you know who should win in this project.’)
Q: May nag-utos ba kay Morales?
(Did anyone order Morales?)
Si Engineer Morales naman parang alter-ego ng mayor yan eh. Pag siya ang nag-utos, alam namin galing na po sa mayor ang utos.
(Engineer Morales is like the mayor’s alter-ego. If he sends out an order, we know it came from the mayor.)
Q: Sino pong mayor ang tinutukoy ninyo?
(Which mayor are you referring to?)
Si Vice President Jojo Binay po.
(Vice President Jojo Binay)
Sigurado po ako sa sinasabi ni Morales na si mayor ang nag-utos. Kasi po si Engineer Morales ay matagal nang kasama ni Mayor Jojo Binay yan. Trusted niya iyan.
(I’m sure Morales’ orders came from the mayor because Engineer Morales has been with Mayor Jojo Binay for a long time. He’s trusted.)
At one point, Hechanova claims he was forced to “trap” an interested bidder in an elevator to make sure that the rival bidder, a friend of the Binays, bags the project.
During the hearing, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano grills an executive from Hilmarc’s.
Hilmarc’s assistant vice president for legal Rogelio Peig says the Makati building was not overpriced, at least compared to other government projects.
But Cayetano rejects Peig’s explanation, accusing him of lying under oath.
ALAN PETER CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Medyo niloloko tayo sa math, sorry but that's my conclusion.
(They fooled us with the math. Sorry but that’s my conclusion.)
Asked if the building is “world class,” Peig neither confirmed nor denied this.
KOKO PIMENTEL, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: For the record, the contractor says you are not claiming the parking building is world class.
ROGELIO PEIG, HILMARC’S ASST VICE PRESIDENT FOR LEGAL: We do not make any claim, but we are also not saying that it is not world class.
COURT DENIES MOTION TO MOVE BONG REVILLA TO REGULAR JAIL
Anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denies the motion of government lawyers to move Senator Bong Revilla to a regular jail for lack of merit.
The order also covers Revilla’s aide Richard Cambe.
The two are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
The Sandiganbayan says they may still be moved to another detention facility “at any time” once state prosecutors provide substantive justification.
The prosecution earlier asked the court to move Revilla, Cambe, and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
Revilla, Napoles, and Cambe face plunder charges for allegedly conniving to steal millions in development funds.
Revilla and Cambe also face 16 counts of graft, while Napoles faces 42 counts.
ELECTRICITY RATES TO GO UP DUE TO PSALM SUIT
Electricity rates may go up by around 50-centavos per kilowatt-hour if the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation or PSALM is forced to settle over a lawsuit filed by its former employees.
The Quezon City regional trial court orders PSALM to pay over P60 billion in compensation to employees it terminated when it reorganized the National Power Corporation or Napocor in 2003.
The court also orders the seizure of PSALM funds held by private sector generation administrators and distributors.
If PSALM settles, the additional 0.51-pesos per kilowatt hour will be collected monthly for 5 years.
PSALM president Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. says seizure of the agency’s funds will affect daily operations.
PSALM and Napocor file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court.
DOJ: ‘GARLIC CARTEL’ BEHIND PRICE SPIKE, DA OFFICIALS PROBED
The Justice Department or DOJ says a cartel controlled by 4 individuals is behind the spike in garlic prices in Metro Manila.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says the cartel colludes with officials...
from the Agriculture Department and Bureau of Plant Industry.
Garlic prices caught the attention of Malacañang when they reached a high of P287 or $6.58 per kilo in June 2014.
It is a 74% increase over a one-year period, and more than 100% from average prices.
About 73% of garlic is imported, while the remaining 27% comes from local sources.
The DOJ says the importation system allowed one businesswoman to control the bulk of garlic importation.
BRITAIN JOINS US ON FRONTLINES AFTER BEHEADING VIDEO
Britain might join the fight against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq or ISIS after the group threatened to kill a British hostage.
In a video showing the severed head of American journalist Steven Sotloff, a masked militant warns a Briton identified as David Haines will be killed if the United States continues its airstrikes against militants in northern Iraq.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says London will not rule out taking part in airstrikes if necessary.
Prime Minister David Cameron adds, "ISIS terrorists speak for no religion."
EBOLA DEATH TOLL JUMPS TO MORE THAN 1,900 – WHO
The death toll for the Ebola epidemic goes over 1,900 - now higher than the total fatalities in all previous outbreaks combined.
Global health experts urge world leaders to do more to address the epidemic the worst Ebola outbreak since its discovery in 1976.
World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan says, there are 3,500 confirmed cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
International medical agency Doctors Without Borders says the world is "losing the battle" to contain Ebola.
But there are patients who survived after taking experimental drug ZMapp including British nurse William Pooley, and American missionaries Nancy Writebol and Doctor Kent Brantly.
US, SOUTH KOREA CREATE ARMY UNIT TO DESTROY NORTH'S NUKES – REPORT
South Korea announces its plans to create a combined army unit with the United States,
to destroy North Korea's weapons in the event of an all-out conflict.
The South Korean defense ministry says the unit will be set up in the first half of 2015.
It adds, the unit will be the first combined field combat unit to carry out wartime operations.
If fresh hostilities break out, the US commander in South Korea will assume control of the South's 640,000 troops.
The two Koreas are still technically at war as their conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.
In June, North Korea announced the successful test of new tactical guided missiles, and began testing in the following months.
THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
AL-QAEDA ANNOUNCES NEW BRANCH IN INDIAN SUBCONTINENT
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri launches a new branch of the Islamist extremist group in India.
Al-Qaeda is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan but Zawahiri says Al-Qaeda will take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
In launching "Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent," Zawahiri may be attempting to exploit the unrest in Kashmir and Myanmar.
SAMSUNG LAUNCHES NEW GALAXY NOTE 4
Samsung launches the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone Wednesday in Berlin.
The Note 4 runs on the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, has a 16 megapixel rear camera, and 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera.
The S-Note widget also allows a user to take notes, and pin them to the front menu screen for easy reference.
One of its new features is a smart-scanning system.
It scans a photo, determines if it’s a document or an image, and allows the user to edit the scanned file.
HACKING OF NUDE PHOTOS A SEX CRIME?
Experts say the leak of naked photos of celebrities – including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence – should be treated as a sex crime.
Already hounded by paparazzi, celebrities face a new battle to protect their privacy from hackers willing to splash their intimate photos online.
Agents and lawyers of celebrities acknowledge data security is a new issue the entertainment industry needs to learn more about.
They say public figures need to understand the risks that advancing technology poses.
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EARTH'S NEW GALACTIC ADDRESS: LANIAKEA SUPERCLUSTER
Astronomers say they mapped the galaxy supercluster the Solar System is part of.
They named the the supercluster Laniakea, or "immense heaven."
The Nature journal reports, Laniakea is comprised of around 100,000 galaxies with about a hundred million billion suns.
The Milky Way, the galaxy which includes the Solar system, lies on the outskirts of Laniakea.
A team from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii also used a new method to map the supercluster Earth is part of.
Determining the boundaries of the so-called galaxy superclusters has been a big debate among astronomers.
They calculated each galaxy’s location by estimating its velocity relative to the Universe’s expansion.
GILAS PILIPINAS FACES SENEGAL
Gilas Pilipinas fights its last game at the FIBA World Cup Championship in Spain versus the Senegal team.
Whether Gilas wins or loses, it will go home. – Rappler.com
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|