Headlines for Monday, September 1, 2014

Pinoys defied UN commander’s order to surrender
MANILA, Philippines - By defying orders from their Indian commander, the 40 Filipino peacekeepers belonging to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) managed to hold their ground and avoid being overpowered by attacking al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels last Saturday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang yesterday said he learned of this detail after talking to the troops under the command of Capt. Nilo Ramones Jr. through video-teleconference. Catapang said Indian Maj. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha ordered the Filipino troops to lay down their weapons and surrender to the rebels, reportedly to secure the release of 43 Fijian peacekeepers captured by the Syrian rebels.

Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front admits attack on Filipino, Fijian peacekeepers
The Syrian branch of the global militant Islamist group al-Qaeda said it was responsible for the attack on 72 Filipino peacekeepers in two different locations in the Golan Heights over the weekend allegedly in retaliation for the failure of the United Nations to help the people of Syria. The group, the Nusra Front, also acknowledged that it was holding 45 Fijian peacekeepers in southern Syria. It accused the peacekeeping force — which has monitored the demarcation line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights since 1974 – of protecting Israeli-controlled territory while doing nothing to stop the killing on the Syrian side.

P2.2B or P2.7B? Experts find Makati City Hall Building II ordinary
Experts on Monday agreed the Makati City Hall Building II is not an establishment that can be considered world class as Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. claimed before a Senate committee hearing last month. At the end of an inspection conducted by the Blue Ribbon subcommittee on the alleged overpriced building, quantity surveyor Greg Jackson, Danny Alano of the Philippine Institute of Architects, and licensed real estate broker and consultant Federico Cuervo said the building was just average.

Mixed automated polls in 2016
Is the mixed automated election system (AES) the answer to the nagging poll fraud allegations that are always associated with every poll exercise? This will be known when the Commission on Elections (Comelec) starts using the mixed election technology in the 2016 national elections. The use of the mixed AES in 2016 was revealed yesterday by a very reliable source, who said that the Comelec en banc has already decided that voters will be using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and a second voting technology in 2016.

Grace Poe (left photo), Joseph Abaya (right photo)Government to sue MRTC for breach of contract
MANILA, Philippines–The government is suing Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) for breach of obligation and is asking Congress for a P53-billion budget to take over MRT 3 to improve its service, transport officials said on Monday. But before MRT 3’s more than half a million daily commuters get better service, they must wait until 2016 when 48 new coaches are scheduled to be delivered. Until then, transport officials said the current “30 to 40 minutes” that a commuter must spend to queue before boarding a train was the “best” that could be done for now.

All flights to Tacloban airport suspended
MANILA, Philippines–The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is suspending all flights to the Tacloban airport, the main gateway to Leyte province, starting on Wednesday over “fast developing potholes” on the runway that airline operators said could damage their planes and compromise passenger safety. Repairs will be undertaken on the runway of Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City to allow it to accommodate smaller turbo-propeller aircraft within the week but larger commercial jets are unlikely to use it for “months” as broader repairs are undertaken, a CAAP official said.

Nancy BinayNancy Binay argues what ‘world-class’ means
MANILA, Philippines – How would one describe world-class? Senator Nancy Binay on Monday found a way of dealing with criticisms that the pricey Makati City Hall 2 that her father Jejomar built does not merit to be called world-class. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” Nancy Binay said. It was Nancy’s brother, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, who described the building “world-class” during last week’s hearing at the Senate amid allegations that it was grossly overpriced.

Moving port operations from Manila ‘not a sound solution’ to traffic – OECD
An international group sought to convince the City of Manila to hold on to its ports as its container operations outweigh the gains in transferring activities to alternate ports in Batangas and Subic. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said redirecting port operations to alternate ports to decongest roads and address the problematic backlog in the transport of container vans in the ports of Manila “may not necessarily be a sound solution based on a recent study on port cities.”

Joker ArroyoJoker Arroyo slams ‘one-sided’ Senate rules
MANILA, Philippines–The Senate should re-examine how it conducts proceedings and revise its guidelines, said former Sen. Joker Arroyo, who criticized the blue ribbon committee’s hearings for being “one-sided” and having unfair rules. A panel subcommittee is in the thick of an inquiry into alleged overprice in the P2.28-billion Makati parking building involving Mayor Junjun Binay and Vice President Jejomar Binay, the city’s former mayor.

Argentina escapes Gilas in thriller
MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas failed to capitalize on a promising start, succumbing to a determined Argentina side in a thrillingly close game, 85-81, to remain winless in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain early Tuesday. Trailing by just two in the game's closing seconds, 81-83, Gilas turned to Jayson Castro, who was whistled for a travelling violation after a failed three attempt. The Filipinos had the best start of the tournament, erecting a 12-2 lead early in the first quarter that was the result of a superb ball movement and even with the absence of Andray Blatche.

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