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- Grace Poe maintains lead in January Laylo survey
Presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe maintained her lead over other presidential bets in the Laylo survey, published in time for the start of the campaign period. The survey was conducted from January 27 to February 4, a month after the Supreme Court stopped the Commission on Elections from cancelling Poe’s certificate of candidacy. Results showed that Poe got 29%, a 1% increase from her December rating from the same survey group. Tied for second place with 22% are Vice President Jejomar Binay, who suffered a 1-percentage point decline, and administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, whose numbers are unchanged. Davao City Rodrigo Duterte came in 3rd with 20%, while Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was far 4th with 2%. Poe led in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, Roxas remained the top choice in the Visayas while and Duterte leads in Mindanao.
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- Private company in MRT deal: Roxas, Abaya may be liable for graft
MRT3 assets private owner MRT Holdings II said former Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas II and Roxas’ successor Jun Abaya “may be liable for graft for mishandling the MRT3 system.” MRT Holdings II Chairman Robert John Sobrepeña said that Roxas’ and Abaya’s inaction on private companies’ proposals to maintain the train system is basis for the Ombudsman to file graft charges. Sobrepeña also cited the awarding of the MRT3 maintenance contract to “incapable, unqualified providers” as a second basis for graft charges. He said the DOTC awarded a huge contract to a Korean-Filipino joint venture led by Busan Transport Corporation, a company only two months old, with a capitalization of only P600,000, calling it a “smoking gun”. Busan has been operating and maintaining the Busan Metro in South Korea since 1999. As for Roxas, Sobrepeña said the series of events that led to the damage of the MRT3 started when Roxas was at the helm of the DOTC.
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- Why Mocha Uson supports Duterte
Mocha Uson, founder of popular dance group Mocha Girls, has been vocal about her support for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential bid. In a Facebook post last Friday, Uson explained why she and her group are so involved in campaigning for Duterte, who has made peace and order the centerpiece of his two-decade rule as Davao City mayor. Previously published reports said her father, Judge Oscar Uson, was assassinated in 2002 by 4 hit men while heading home from work in Asingan town. Appeals by family members to then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to bring his attackers to justice yielded nothing.
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- Ballot printing postponed for the 3rd time
Citing system problems, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the 3rd time moved the start of ballot printing for the May 9 national and local elections. Ballot printing was supposed to start on Monday but Comelec decided to start ballot printing on February 15. Earlier, the Comelec already scheduled the start of ballot printing on January 26, then delayed it to February 1. When ballot printing was moved to February 1, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez cited “scheduling issues” but refused to elaborate. Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim said the new problem involves incompatible codes in the systems. Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista was also asked about perceptions that the Comelec is using the system problems as an excuse to delay the printing of ballots. A delay in the printing of ballots could allow the Comelec to remove the name of Senator Grace Poe – that is, if the Supreme Court upholds the Comelec order to cancel her presidential bid.
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- Foreign affairs secretary del Rosario resigns
Malacañang on Monday confirmed that Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is stepping down from office effective March 7, 2016. Sources said he is stepping down due to health reasons. Under Del Rosario, the Philippines filed a historic case against China to settle a decades-long dispute between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The case is pending before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The Philippines expects the tribunal to issue a definitive ruling by this year. Del Rosario is also known for overseeing the evacuation of thousands of overseas Filipino workers from strife-torn countries in the Middle East. Before heading the DFA, he worked as Philippine ambassador to the US from 2001 to 2006.
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- How Japan makes its buildings earthquake-proof
In Taiwan, buildings collapsed to a heap after a 6.4 earthquake on Saturday. But when a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, the shaking in Tokyo was violent, but buildings survived intact. What does Japan do to make its buildings earthquake-proof? A mix of ancient and modern technologies such as adding cross-beams to window frames, using oil-filled cylinders on buildings as giant shock absorbers, and seismic isolation technologies ensure Japan’s survival in the midst of the strongest quakes.
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- Philippine eagle hatches in captivity
A new Philippine eagle hatched in Davao City, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) announced. The eaglet, which emerged from its shell on Thursday, February 4, is the 27th hatched in captivity. It is one of two offsprings of the paired eagles MVP, a male, and Go Phoenix, a female. An elder sibling, named Sinag, hatched on December 7, 2015. The PEF’s breeding program started in 1987, and the newest addition to the list of successfully-bred birds is an “unexpected success.” The Philippine eagle – the country’s national bird – is one of the rarest birds in the world. It is considered a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
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- Watching the Super Bowl in space
American astronaut Scott Kelly on Sunday (Monday in Manila) posted a photo of the Super Bowl broadcast on a screen at the International Space Station (ISS) – the same broadcast watched by millions of football fans back on earth. Kelly tweeted a photo with the caption “Hosted Super Bowl party on the International Space Station, but no one showed up. I would have served nachos! #YearInSpace.” A little later, he posted a photo of Santa Clara, California – where the Super Bowl is taking place – as seen from the ISS. Kelly, along with Russian astronaut Mikhail Korniyenko, is spending a year in space as part of the Year Long Mission, a study that seeks to understand how long-term spaceflight affects humans.
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- Matt Damon reprises Jason Bourne role
Jason Bourne is back. In a 30-second teaser dropped during Super Bowl 50, Matt Damon slips back into the role of a CIA mercenary with a memory loss problem. Only now, he claims that he remembers everything. Titled Jason Bourne, the upcoming film sees the return of Damon to the character since 2007 with The Bourne Ultimatum, the third in a trilogy based on Robert Ludlum’s novels. In 2012, The Bourne Legacy, the fourth in the film series, was released with Jeremy Renner playing fugitive Aaron Cross. Back then, Damon opted not to return to the action franchise, citing the need for a “something completely new” in a GQ interview. Jason Bourne will hit screens on May 2016.
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- Adele world’s best-selling artist of 2015
Adele, who broke records with her song “Hello” and latest album 25, was officially the biggest artist of 2015. Global music industry body International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said that the British ballad singer was the top-selling musical act last year based on worldwide sales of recordings. Adele achieved the feat for the full year even though she did not release 25 until November 20 and declined to put the album on streaming sites. The first track “Hello” was the first single to be downloaded more than one million times in the United States in one week. IFPI presents its annual award based on an artist’s physical and digital sales as well as streaming, although the group does not release figures. Coming in after Adele is Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift at 3rd place.
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