#ThewRap: Things you need to know, September 29, 2016

Hello, Rappler readers,

Filipinos are mourning the death of former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who died in her sleep on Thursday morning, September 29, after battling lung cancer. She was 71 years old.

The Philippine President has just reversed the agreement that his predessor made with the United States less than two years ago – that is, to prioritize “high value” joint military exercises amid Manila's maritime dispute with China.

The two chambers of the legislature, meanwhile, differ on whether to play during a congressional hearing the alleged sex video of a lady senator with her former driver-bodyguard, who allegedly got bribe money from drug lords on her behalf. The Speaker of the House thinks it is “just fair” to show the video, while the Senate President warns the co-equal branch it should be “ready to pay the political price” of doing so.

Here are the other big stories you shouldn’t miss:

 

Miriam Defensor Santiago dies

The Philippines' Iron Lady has passed away. Miriam Defensor Santiago, the feisty, esteemed senator from Iloilo, died on Thursday, September 29. Tributes are pouring in from government officials, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, and from the public.

Duterte to US: No more joint military drills under my term

President Rodrigo Duterte announced in a speech before the Filipino community in Vietnam that the next joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States will be the last under his term, as he does not want to antagonize China. Beijing has protested the military exercises in the West Philippine Sea, even as it continued to built artificial islands in the disputed waters. Manila, meanwhile, has a Mutual Defense Treaty, a Visiting Forces Agreeement, and an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Washington DC.

 

EJKs: US to impose add’l conditions on aid to PH

Citing “state-sanctioned violence” under President Rodrigo Duterte, United States Senator Patrick Leahy warned the Philippines of “further conditions” on American aid. Leahy authored the law that bars the United States from extending assistance “to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

 

Fisherman kidnapped in Abu Sayyaf area

Armed men seized a fisherman off Malaysia’s eastern Sabah state, an area where militants from the Abu Sayyaf group have been blamed for a series of abductions. Malaysian marine police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah said the kidnappers came in a fast craft and headed in the direction of southern Philippine waters after the incident.

 

PH peso drops to weakest level in 7 years

EXTERNALLY DRIVEN. The country's economic team says economic fundamentals remain favorable and that the recent peso weakness was externally driven. File photo from Agence France-Presse

EXTERNALLY DRIVEN. The country's economic team says economic fundamentals remain favorable and that the recent peso weakness was externally driven.

File photo from Agence France-Presse

Although the Philippine peso is now the worst performing currency in Asia, the country’s economic team say it is no cause for alarm as fundamentals remain unchanged. The peso shed 8 centavos to close at 48.25 to US$1 on September 28 – amid the negative sentiments of investors as well as external shocks caused primarily by the impending interest rate hike in the United States. On September 26, the peso fell to its weakest level in 7 years amid the continued pull out of foreign funds from the local equities market as well as government bonds.

 

First baby born from 3-parent technique – report

The world’s first baby has been born using a controversial new technique by US scientists to include DNA from 3 parents in the embryo. The baby boy was born 5 months ago in Mexico to Jordanian parents, and is healthy and doing well, said the report in New Scientist magazine, described as an “exclusive.” The boy’s mother carried genes for a disorder known as Leigh Syndrome, a fatal nervous system disorder which she had passed on to her two previous children, who both died of the disease. Rappler.com