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- Cebu dancing inmates and the Pope’s envoy
The dancing inmates of a jail in Cebu will be visited by the Pope Francis’ envoy, Myanmar Cardinal Charles Maung Bo on Tuesday. Monsignor Joseph Tan, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cebu, told Rappler, “This is not just a visit. It’s a scheduled interaction.” One of the inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) with the help of an English translator, will engage in a dialogue with the Myanmar Archbishop. On Sunday, January 24, the inmates released a special dance video for the IEC on Facebook. They danced to the IEC’s theme song, “Christ in Us, Our Hope of Glory.”
Read more on Pope envoy’s visit and watch the special dance video.
- Binay to break-up transportation agency if he wins
Vice President Jejomar Binay said he would move to expand the country’s railway system and split up the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) should he win the presidency in the May elections. Binay added he would “personally exercise the authority of the president as chief executive and head of the bureaucracy” to solve the issues surrounding the MRT, including numerous breakdowns, service interruptions, and long queues for passengers. The vice-president said that he plans to break up the DOTC into two departments: one solely focused on transportation, and another on communications and technology, adding the DOTC has far too many agencies attached to it. Sixteen agencies are currently attached to the agency, including the country’s agencies in civil aviation, sea transport and maritime infrastructure, land transportation, and railway system and infrastructure.
Read more on Binay’s promise to solve traffic mess.
- Economic chief resigns
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan has resigned and is set to become the first chairperson of the newly-formed Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). The PCC is mandated to ensure efficient market competition and provide a level playing field for businesses. It was created after President Benigno Aquino III signed the Philippine Competition Act into law. Balisacan said his new job is “a very compelling challenge that is hard to ignore.” Aside from investigating and penalizing anti-competitive business practices, the PCC is also mandated to protect consumer welfare and boost trade – both domestic and foreign.
Read more on Balisacan’s resignation.
- Fake DNA results of Bongbong Marcos sent to reporters
The urban legend lives on. A letter alleging that the DNA tests of Senators Grace Poe and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos prove they are blood-relatives circulated among Senate reporters on Monday, January 25. “This is Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ DNA result. Compare this with that of Sen. Grace Poe and you will see that they are related,” an attached note to the letter said. The letter came at a time when Poe is facing the risk of being disqualified from the May 2016 presidential race over citizenship and residency issues. Marcos, for his part, has seen his numbers continuously rise in vice presidential preference surveys. It has long been rumored that Poe is a love child of former president Ferdinand Marcos and Rosemarie Sonora, the younger sister of Poe’s mother, Susan Roces. But who sent it and what for?
Read more on fake DNA results.
- SAF: heroes
For this documentary, Rappler interviewed SAF members as they remember their fallen brothers on the fields of Mamasapano in 2015. The men and women who don the distinct black beret said the SAF is a family of “warriors who know how to die.”As the nation remembers, Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento made an appeal: don’t put politics into the mix. He said, “Many soldiers and police sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. Let’s not politicize it. Let us not forget their sacrifice; let us not feast on it for other motives.” January 25 is also the one-year mark of the controversial “Oplan Exodus,” a Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) mission that successfully targeted a terrorist but tragically ended in the death of 44 policemen.
- Aquino gives go-signal for IBC-13 privatization
President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the privatization of the government-owned Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) based on the recommendation of the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), trimming the state’s portfolio in the communications sector. Officials said that IBC-13’s communication functions already overlap with that of another government-owned broadcaster, Media ng Bayan-PTV4. IBC-13 was also in financial distress – operating at an average net loss of P 45.26 million ($942,425) from 2010 to 2014 and receiving operational subsidies amounting to P23.56 million ($490,577) in 2015. The privatization of IBC-13 will be done through public bidding with an estimated floor price of P1.977 billion ($41.16 million). IBC-13 started out in 1960 as a private company but was sequestered in 1986 as part of the recovery of ill-gotten wealth that was amassed under the Marcos regime.
Read more on the privatization of IBC-13.
- Zika virus spreading across the Americas
The World Health Organization said the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease suspected of causing serious birth defects, is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except Canada and Chile. Zika has suspected but unproven links to microcephaly – in which babies born to women infected during pregnancy have abnormally small heads. The WHO said the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries Zika as well as dengue and chikungunya viruses, is already present in all countries in the Americas besides Canada and Chile. The WHO said it anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread. WHO chief Margaret Chan on Monday said that the explosive spread of Zika virus to new areas is a cause for concern.
Read more on the Zika virus.
- WHO: Child obesity a growing problem in developing countries
A World Health Organization commission says childhood obesity has reached alarming rates globally and become an “exploding nightmare” in the developing world, including Africa where the number of obese and overweight children under five has nearly doubled since 1990. The authors of the report stressed that the epidemic has historically not been treated as a grave public health issue and was regarded as a product of lifestyle choices. Biological factors, inadequate access to healthy foods, a decline in physical activity in schools and the unregulated marketing of fattening foods are among the drivers of a worsening epidemic.
Read more on the child obesity epidemic.
- iPhone 5se coming in March?
Apple is bringing back the 4-inch platform to the iPhone with the tentatively named ‘iPhone 5se’, poised to be announced in an event in March. Contrary to rumors, this is not a smaller 6s but an upgraded 5s, which was first announced in 2013. The report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, who has credible sources within the Apple production, said the 5se would have the cameras, A8 and M8 chips of the iPhone 6, the Bluetooth, WiFi and Live Photos from the 6s, and an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip. It would also be available in the current colors of the iPhone line – silver, space gray, gold and rose gold. In the report, Apple employees described the suffix –se as ‘special edition’ and ‘enhanced,’ with its internals updated.
Read more on the rumored iPhone 5se.
- Pia Wurtzbach: This is not just my crown, this is our crown
After a whole-day grand homecoming parade from the city of Manila up to Araneta Center in Quezon City, Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach gave a short speech addressing her fans on Monday. “My goal was to bring back home the crown, and now we finally did it. I say ‘we’ because this is not my crown, this is our crown,” she continued later. “Para po ito sa inyo, para po ito sa Pilipinas (This is for you, this is for the Philippines).” Wurtzbach, the country’s 3rd Miss Universe, made history with her controversial win in the pageant when host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez the winner instead of the Filipina beauty queen.
Read more on Wurtzbach’s homecoming parade.