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- WHO: Zika virus ‘spreading explosively’
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against the Zika virus, which is “spreading explosively “ in the Americas and which could result in up to 4 million cases. WHO said the cases of microcephaly – believed to be linked to the virus and which causes babies to be born with an abnormally small head and brain – has surged in Brazil. WHO head Margaret Chan said an emergency committee will meet on February 1 to determine if the outbreak is tantamount to a global health emergency.
Read more about the Zika outbreak on Rappler.
An explainer on microcephaly is also on Rappler.
- GDP grows 6.3% in Q4 2015
The Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 6.3% in the 4thquarter of 2015, better than the previous quarter’s 6%, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Thursday, January 28. In a press briefing, the PSA said growth for the Philippines for the entire 2015 hit 5.8%, lower than 2014’s 6.1%. The Q4 growth registered by the Philippines was however higher than what analysts like Moody’s Analytics predicted. It foresaw GDP growth at only 5.9%.
Read more about the growth factors on Rappler.
- Politics to blame for fate of BBL – Cardinal Quevedo
Saying that “peace is being sacrificed for political, personal reasons,” Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo said politics is to blame if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) dies. The BBL proposes to create a more powerful Muslim region in the south but the bill got stalled after the controversial Mamasapano encounter in Maguindanao that killed at least 60 people. Quevedo said the reopening of the probe in the Senate only sought to pin the blame on President Benigno Aquino III and his chosen standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, as the May 9 elections approach.
Read more about Quevedo’s thoughts on the BBL on Rappler.
- Aquino’s human rights record? Disappointing – watchdog
President Benigno Aquino III has failed to make the necessary reforms needed for a lasting legacy on human rights. Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) World Report 2016 described Aquino’s performance as “disappointing” even as the number of serious violations declined during his administration. “…ongoing killings of prominent activists and the lack of successful prosecutions mean there’s nothing to prevent an upsurge of abuses in the future,” HRW explained. Since assuming the presidency, nearly 300 have been killed. In the first 10 months of 2015 alone, data from local groups said, 65 leftist activists, human rights defenders, and alleged communist supporters were killed.
Read more about the denunciation of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte by Human Rights Watch on Rappler.
- Highest spender in past elections: Mar Roxas
Among those running for president in 2016, former vice presidential candidate and now presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II spent the most in past campaigns. When he ran in 2010, Roxas outspent then vice presidential bet Jejomar Binay with his P279.4 million, 83% of which went to media advertisements. Roxas’ biggest contributions came from his relatives. Compared to Roxas, Binay spent P217.9 million, 80.5% of which went to ads. Data from the Commission on Elections showed that Binay sourced all his campaign funds from contributions.
Read more about past campaign spending on Rappler.
- DOJ resolution on Mamasapano clash out in a month
The Department of Justice said on Thursday, January 28, its resolution on the bloody Mamasapano encounter that left about 60 people dead in January 2015 should be out in a month’s time. Acting Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas said prosecutors will need 304 more weeks to decide on whether or not there is probable cause to indict 90 individuals facing criminal complaints in relation to the Mamasapano, Maguindanao incident. Caparas asked for more time on behalf of the prosecutors, considering the number of respondents involved in what he described as a “very sensitive case.”
Read more about causes of the DOJ’s delay on Rappler.
- Fil-Am gets perfect score in advanced calculus exam
17-year-old, Filipino American Cedrick Argueta from Los Angeles got a perfect score in the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam, the Los Angeles Times reported on January 27. The son of a Filipina nurse and a Salvadoran maintenance worker, Argueta is just one of 12 students worldwide, out of 302,532 who took the exam in May 2015, who perfected the test. The exam results can be used as possible credit toward a college degree.
Read more about Argueta’s achievement on Rappler.
- Part of NAIA 3 ceiling collapses, hurts passenger
Part of a ceiling in the country’s largest airport collapsed Thursday, January 28, and “slightly scratched” a male foreign passenger. Airport spokesman David de Castro said the passenger was treated for the injury but insisted on taking his flight to Japan hours later. De Castro said the collapse involved the façade of a restaurant that affixed overhead lights. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 has earned a reputation for being among the worst in the world.
Read more about the latest airport disaster on Rappler.
- Facebook doubles quarterly profit as users increase
As Facebook users swelled to nearly 1.6 billion in 2015, the quarterly profit of the world’s largest social network more than doubled. Facebook reported a profit of $1.56 billion in the last quarter of 2015, higher than the $701 million it made in the same period of 2014. Advertising on mobile accounted for about 80% of Facebook’s ad revenue in the last quarter. Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said, “2015 was a great year for Facebook.”
Read more about Facebook’s growth on Rappler.
- Pope Francis meets DiCaprio at the Vatican
Sharing a passion for protecting the environment, Pope Francis and US actor Leonardo DiCaprio met at the Vatican on Thursday, January 28. The Argentine pope presented the American film star with a copy of his Laudato Si, a hard-hitting thesis on climate change. The atheist actor won the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos for his environmentalist credentials. He set up a foundation in 1998 to help protect endangered wildlife and vulnerable ecosystems.
Read more about the meeting at the Vatican on Rappler.