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- Catholic cardinal warns priests vs saying Mass at political gatherings
Months before the May 2016 elections, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle advised priests not to say Mass in political events or campaigns. In a circular dated December 10, Tagle also said priests should not allow politicians to organize mass baptism, confirmation, or wedding ceremonies. “The Eucharist is the source and sign of unity. Its celebration should not be seen as favoring or endorsing particular candidates, organizations, or parties,” Tagle said. He also reminded priests of standing policy that lay ministers running for public office “must take a leave from the exercise of their ministry upon filing of candidacy.”
Read the full story on Rappler #PHvote.
- Communist rebels attacks a 2nd time soldiers delivering relief goods
One soldier was killed while two others were wounded when communist rebels ambushed their convoy transporting relief goods in Northern Samar early Tuesday morning. Troops of the 20th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations after Typhoon Nona (international name Melor) near Barangay Bukid, Las Navas, Northern Samar, when a still-unknown number of New People’s Army fighters attacked them. This Incident follows a recent encounter in Pinabacdao, Samar, where communist rebels also attacked the truck of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) carrying relief goods for typhoon victims.
Read the full story on Rappler.
- Presidential race front runners face more woes at poll body
The Commission on Elections voted to junk the two motions for reconsideration of presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe involving her disqualification from next year’s polls. Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said majority of the commissioners voted against Poe’s appeals, and said the results of the voting will be promulgated Wednesday. Aside from Poe, another survey front runner, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, faced a 3rd complaint before the Comelec, seeking to have his certificate of candidacy for president cancelled. Poe and Duterte, along with Vice President Jejomar Binay are all ahead of administration candidate Manuel Roxas II in presidential preference surveys. Their supporters are accusing the ruling Liberal Party of engaging in a process of elimination so Roxas could get ahead in the race.
Read the full story on Comelec’s ruling on Poe here.
Read about the 3rd complaint filed against Duterte here.
- 1st in Asia: Philippines clears dengue vaccine
The Philippines became the first Asian country on Tuesday to approve the sale of the world’s first-ever dengue vaccine. Dengvaxia, manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, secured its first regulatory approval in Mexico a fortnight ago and is currently being reviewed by around 20 countries in Asia and Latin America. It is hoped the drug could eventually help prevent millions of deaths from dengue, the world’s fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease. The World Health Organization says as many as 400 million people are infected worldwide every year, and two-thirds are in Asia. Scientists have long been stumped by dengue, which has four separate strains, forcing researchers to find a drug able to fight all of them at once.
Read the full story on Rappler Science.
- European Union, Philippines start free trade talks in January
The European Union and the Philippines will begin free trade talks early next year as the bloc builds on accords with Singapore and Vietnam, a senior EU official said. “The Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in the region in recent years. We need to make sure our companies enjoy the right conditions to seize the great potential of that market of 100 million consumers,” Malmstroem said. In addition to the Philippines, the 28-nation EU is in free trade talks with Malaysia and Thailand, which are also ASEAN members.
Read the full story on Rappler Business.
- Indonesia shuts down firms, revokes licenses over deadly forest fires
In an unprecedented move, Indonesia is punishing more than 20 companies for starting deadly forest fires that killed 19 people. Three companies have been shut down permanently after having their licences revoked over their role in the blazes that choked vast expanses of southeast Asia with acrid haze and cost Indonesia $16 billion. It is the first time the government has revoked company licences over forest fires, an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. The environment ministry also froze the operations of 14 companies and said they face closure if they do not meet the government’s demands over fire prevention. Several other companies have been given a strong warning and will be put under close supervision.
Read the full story on Rappler Indonesia.
- Interpol raids yield $7M worth of fake drugs across Asia
Interpol seized counterfeit drugs worth $7 million in September in an operation encompassing 13 Asian countries, the international police organization said on December 21. Medication including antibiotics, anti-hypertension pills, and even rabies vaccines were taken from hundreds of pharmacies and markets, including dozens of online pharmacies, as Interpol attempts to curb the widespread sale of fake drugs being produced in the region. Interpol said in a statement they had arrested 87 individuals in the course of the crackdown, which “brought together law enforcement and drug regulatory agencies to target the organized criminal networks behind pharmaceutical crime in Asia.”
Read the full story on Rappler World.
- Prime Minister Abe’s party forms group to review modern history
Japan’s ruling party launched a study group to review its modern history, amid reports it may take up contentious regional issues, including the Nanjing massacre which Tokyo is accused of playing down. The group “is aimed at studying historical events after the first Sino-Japanese War,” a Liberal Democratic Party spokesman said, referring to a conflict between Japan and Qing dynasty-ruled China in 1894-95. The study group was placed directly under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is LDP president. Beijing said Tokyo must avoid reinterpreting history. China and South Korea both criticize Japan for soft-pedalling on historical issues. The party spokesman did not elaborate on issues the group would examine, but private Nippon TV reported that some attendees requested it review Japan’s colonial rule over Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.
Read the full story on Rappler World.
- Germany alarmed at Syrian refugees who entered using forged passports
About a dozen migrants may have entered Germany on forged Syrian passports like those used by two Paris suicide bombers, according to a news report Tuesday, which authorities did not confirm. Bild newspaper, citing unnamed government sources, said the passports bore the “same forgery characteristics” as those carried by two men involved in the November 13 France attacks claimed by the Islamic State group. The passports were stolen blanks issued by the Syrian government, but filled in by forgers with the personal details of people who then joined tens of thousands on the refugee trail to Europe, according to Bild. The report said German authorities did not know where the “about one dozen” arrivals were now, having entered the country before November 13, and that no fingerprints had been taken of them. Germany’s Office for Migration and Refugees now only had copies of the passports, which Bild said had been issued in 2013 in Raqqa, now IS’s de facto Syrian capital.
Read the full story on Rappler World.
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ now holds global opening box office record
The new Star Wars movie has set a global opening weekend record, smashing past the previous record holder Jurassic World to rake in $529 million, Disney said on Monday. “With final numbers now in, Star Wars: The Force Awakens rose above estimates to post an all-time industry-high of $248 million domestically plus $281 million internationally, for an all-time record global debut of $529 million since opening December 16,” the company said in a statement. It said the figure does not include box office receipts from India and Greece, where the movie opens this week or from China, the world’s second biggest film market where it opens on January 9. Jurassic World previously held the record for global launch with $524.9 million.
Read the full story on Rappler Entertainment.