Hello, Rappler readers!
Here are the big stories from the Philippines and around the world that you shouldn’t miss:
Towns were cut off and without power in northern Australia Wednesday, March 29, after being pummeled by a powerful cyclone that washed battered yachts ashore and ripped roofs off houses in scenes compared to “a war zone.” The category 4 storm slammed into the coast of Queensland state between Bowen and Airlie Beach on Tuesday afternoon, packing destructive winds and devastating some of the region’s tourist hotspots. Great Barrier Reef islands were among the worst hit.
Satellite images suggest North Korea could be in the final stages of preparations for a new nuclear test, according to US-based analysts, who echoed similar conclusions by the United States military. The images, taken Saturday, March 25, show up to 4 vehicles or equipment trailers continuously present at the entrance to the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, with communications cables likely laid on the ground. “This equipment would likely be used to initiate the test, collect data from the explosion and process the data,” said 38 North, a project of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
The European Union stressed the need to tackle child pornography seriously after an official of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development made a controversial statement about this. “The issue of child pornography is extremely serious and a grave crime. It should be addressed in a serious and responsible manner,” the Delegation of the EU to the Philippines said in a statement. DSWD Assistant Secretary Lorraine Badoy was defending President Rodrigo Duterte against the EU’s criticism on the war against drugs, and posted on Facebook: “Iyong mga taga-EU, mag-online child porn muna kayo. D’yan naman kayo magaling e.” (Those in the EU, just engage in online child pornography. Since that’s what you are good at.)
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday, March 28, ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to include in his memorandum an explanation of his duties as Solicitor General. Sereno asked why his office was involved in Senator Leila de Lima’s cases as early as the preliminary investigations at the level of the Department of Justice. “I’m interested in…whether, in fact, this is common criminal investigation or prosecution, or it has already reached a persecution component.” Later, Calida told reporters, “I am the tribune of the people, I can defend whoever I want to defend.”
Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers filed House Bill 5359, seeking to postpone the October 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the 4th Monday of May 2020. While such postponement has been done many times before, this bill is unprecedented as it terminates all incumbent officials upon effectivity of the law, and authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to fill up all barangay posts with officers-in-charge. This contravenes the Constitution on at least 5 fronts.