Hello, Rappler readers!
It rarely – and we mean R-A-R-E-L-Y – happens that we find all living Philippine presidents in one room. What any of State of the Nation Addresses had failed to accomplish, the Duterte administration’s first National Security Council meeting successfully did: get all former Chief Executives to sit together.
We’ve also got the latest in the United States elections, the Rio Olympics, a juicy investigative report, and informative health and business stories.
Here are the stories here and abroad you shouldn’t miss this Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte called his first National Security Council meeting on July 27, with the Hague ruling on the Philippines’ South China Sea claim on top of the agenda. The government’s peace roadmap and the war on illegal drugs were also taken up. He got all his living predecessors to join the meeting – wise for him to consult them! – namely Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III. There was a sideshow, though, courtesy of the last two, whom we all know are not exactly in good terms with each other.
Speaking of ex-presidents, Benigno Aquino III has left a government with a deficit of P120.3 billion. After posting a string of budget surpluses in 2015, the national government recorded a fiscal deficit of P120.3 billion in the first half of 2016 on the back of increased spending. For the first 6 months of 2016, just before President Rodrigo Duterte took over, government spending totaled P1.22 trillion, 14% higher than last year’s P1.07 trillion.
And speaking of another ex-president, Joseph Estrada – former longtime mayor of San Juan and now mayor of Manila – called on President Duterte (former mayor too, in Davao City, so they speak the same language) to implement a curfew on minors nationwide. This is an interesting suggestion from behind the Supreme Court’s back, considering that the High Court has just issued a TRO on the local curfew ordinances of Manila (yes, Erap’s city), Quezon City, and Navotas.
While everybody’s excited about President Duterte’s emergency hotline that will be launched nationwide in August, Globe Telecom announces that it will, in fact, charge P5 for every 911 call made from your mobile phones. It says the suggestion came from government itself so people will be discouraged from making prank calls. Yeah, who wants to shell out just to disrupt government operations, right? Do YOU think a fee for an emergency call is a good idea?
There’s good news, though, in the Philippines and the rest of the region. There are those we call “heroes of Asia,” they who have created solutions to problems in their own countries and in the region. One of them is Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, under whom the government has prosecuted and jailed an ex-president, 3 senators, and perpetually dismissed from government service several mayors. The complete list of Ramon Magsaysay awardees is here.
In the United States, Tim Kaine, a 58-year-old senator from the battleground state of Virginia, was nominated by voice vote to be the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate. The Clinton-Kaine tandem gets a boost from celebrities who have pledged to help defeat Republican Donald Trump.
108 Russian athletes are now suspended from the Rio games after explosive revelations of state-run doping, heaping more criticism on the International Olympic Committee for failing to ban Russia outright. Meanwhile, 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer will miss the remainder of the season, including next month’s Olympic Games in Rio, as he recovers from a knee injury.
In France, a medical journal reported that health problems caused by a lack of daily physical exercise cost the world some $67.5 billion (61 billion euros) in 2013 – more than many countries’ GDP. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, another study shows that 1 in 3 Filipino kids is still malnourished and stunted.
As Japan’s tourist numbers hit fresh records and Tokyo scrambles to build enough accommodation to host the 2020 Olympics, the country has become the latest battleground in Airbnb home-sharing war. Hoteliers are also up in arms, while local residents complain that outsiders are invading their neighborhoods. And because renting out private homes is illegal, the government is mulling a revision to the rules.
It drew the international attention as the world’s largest indoor arena, a centennial project of the religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo. Now, the Philippine Arena is embroiled in a controversy among members. The INC said that funds for the arena came from the donations of its members, and the church’s second executive minister, the late Eraño “Ka Erdy” Manalo, had denounced the idea of the church incurring debts to fund its projects. Documents obtained by Rappler, however, show that INC officials took out loans from two banks amounting to P1.137 billion to partially fund the construction of Phase 1 of the Ciudad de Victoria project that includes the arena.