Daily News Highlights – February 15, 2016 Edition

Gerard Lim

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

  1. Binay lead drops in SWS survey, Duterte and Poe tied in 2nd place

    Rodrigo Duterte’s numbers improved to catch up with Senator Grace Poe at 2nd place while survey leader Vice President Jejomar Binay’s slightly dropped in a new survey that continue to indicate a tight race for the presidency. Poe’s numbers remained flat at 24%. Duterte also got 24% but this was a significant 4-percentage points increase from his 20% in a January 2016 survey, based on the Business World- Social Weather Stations (BW-SWS) survey on February 5-7 conducted among 1,200 validated voters. The survey shows that Binay (29%), who remained number one, is now just 5 points ahead of Duterte and Poe although the survey’s 3-percentage-points error margin puts the 3 candidates in a possible tie.

    Read more: Binay drops in survey, Duterte and Poe tied 2nd place


  2. UNA accuses LP of using government funds for vote-buying

    Earlier, the camp of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte accused ruling Liberal Party bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II of luring the support of local officials by using the government’s Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) program. On Sunday, February 14, opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) also hurled similar accusations against the ruling party. The administration is resorting to “extreme reckless tactics” by using government funds to sway local executives in their favor, according to UNA spokesperson Mon Ilagan. He says the government’s Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) program is veering away from its intended function as it is being used to influence Filipino voters. The BUB program, which is managed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) aims to promote an inclusive budgeting process through the participation of civil society groups. The groups propose projects for their communities to be implemented through national funding. On February 11, Roxas told a crowd of over 1,000 barangay leaders that funding for community-chosen projects would reach P1,000 ($21)* per constituent, or P100 billion ($2.1 billion) for all barangays in the Philippines. LP’s Senate bets earlier defended BUB and dismissed Duterte’s allegation as a “demolition job.” Read the links below for details

    UNA: LP using government funds for vote-buying 

    Duterte camp: Roxas, LP buying local execs’ votes

    Roxas to barangay officials: P1,000 per Filipino in community projects 

    $1 = P47

  3. Putin, Obama discuss Syria

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and US counterpart Barack Obama held frank talks on Syria amid US concern over Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia targets in northern Syria days before a ceasefire deal is due to take hold. Quoting a Kremlin statement, Agence France-Presse reports that Putin took the call from Obama and both sides “gave a positive evaluation” of the results of talks in Munich last week.  The Russian leader reiterated that a united anti-terrorist coalition was needed in Syria, where Moscow has led an aerial campaign to support the regime’s ground operation since September. Quoting White House sources, The Guardian reports that  Obama had “in particular” stressed the need to contain airstrikes. “President Obama emphasised the importance now of Russia playing a constructive role by ceasing its air campaign against moderate opposition forces in Syria.” Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond also echoed the call for Moscow to end its assaults on moderate opposition fighters. More on this through the stories below: 

    On Rappler: Putin, Obama discuss Syria in phone call – Kremlin

    On The Guardian: Russian jets pound Syria as Obama urges Putin to stop violence

    Syria conflict: Pressure grows on Russia over civilian bomb deaths


  4. Spain ruling party official quits over graft scandal

    A former minister and senior member of Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) resigned Sunday, February 14, following fresh allegations over alleged illegal party financing in the Madrid region. Esperanza Aguirre, 64, PP head in Madrid and a former education and culture minister under then premier Jose Maria Aznar told the press in a hastily-arranged news conference that, although allegations has not been proven, “the seriousness of this information… led me to present my resignation.” Police on Thursday, February 11, searched the headquarters of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party and industrial group Villar Mir as part of a probe into allegations of irregular funding detailed in documents by a former deputy PP head in Madrid, Francisco Granados.

    Spain ruling party official quits over graft scandal


  5. ERC to prioritize probe vs Meralco, power producers for ‘market abuse’ in 2013 rate hike


    The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it will prioritize a probe into 11 generation companies (gencos) that were found to have engaged in anti-competitive behavior, leading to record-high increases in power rates in December 2013. The ERC’s Investigating Unit (IU) released a report identifying the firms in June 2015, prior to Salazar’s appointment in August. The 11 gencos identified are the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), Pan-Asia Energy Holdings, Therma Mobile (TMO), CIP II Power Corporation, Trans-Asia Power Generation Corporation, 1590 Bauang, AP Renewables Incorporated, Udenna Management Resources Corporation, Strategic Power Development Corporation, GNPower Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd, and SEM-Calaca. The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s largest power distribution utility firm, was also found to have committed “market abuse” during the November and December 2013 supply months.

    Read more: ERC: Probe vs Meralco, gencos over 2013 rate hike a ‘priority’









  6. Cagayan de Oro media protest ‘discrimination’ in presidential debate coverage

    Journalists from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao are crying foul over alleged discrimination in the media coverage for the presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday, February 21. The debate is the first in a series to be mounted by media companies that signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the poll body. In a statement on Sunday, February 14, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club decried the fact that organizers of the first debate – GMA-7 and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, plus the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) as debate coordinator allotted only 5 slots for local editors / publishers as debate audience and 5 slots for newspaper reporters. Calling the matter a clear case of discrimination towards the province-based media, the CDO Press Club argued in its statement that “the presidential debate is far too important, and should be beyond corporate media’s quest for higher ratings and wider readership.”

    Read More: Cagayan de Oro media cry ‘discrimination’ in presidential debate coverage

  7. Meryl Streep: white male Hollywood studio bosses are blocking diversity

    Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep told young actors at the Berlin Film Festival Sunday, February 14, that Hollywood would never resolve the diversity row until studio boardrooms became less white and male. Giving a masterclass for 300 budding actors from around the world at the cinema showcase, where Streep is serving as jury president, the most acclaimed US film actress of her generation was asked whether sexism and racism in show business had waned over her 4-decade career. Streep lamented that it was hard to get “40 to 50-year-old white males to be interested in stories about their first wives or their mothers.” The good news, she said, is that younger men are. “I think it’s moving in a very positive direction. I think you have to make noise to have room at the table, for people to move aside and let you pull your chair up to the conversation.” The movie industry is embroiled in a bitter debate about unequal pay between the sexes and a shut-out for non-white actors in the main acting nominations for this month’s Academy Awards, for a second year in a row. 

    Meryl Streep blasts white male studio bosses for blocking diversity


  8. East Timor sends first delegate to Winter Youth Olympics

    East Timor made its debut in the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) on Saturday, February 13, with one young athlete competing in Alpine Skiing. Alexi Gonclaves Goutt, the Southeast Asian country’s lone representative to the Lillehammer games, is the first Timorese to compete in the youth event. Trained in France, Goutt is competing in 4 events – Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G, and Alpine Combined. Around 1,100 athletes from 71 countries will compete for medals in 7 sports events and 15 disciplines in Lillehammer, which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. The YOG is using some of the venues built and used in 1994.

    Read more: East Timor makes debut in Winter Youth Olympics


  9. ‘Coworking’ spaces expected to grow in 2016

    In Washington and in communities around the world, growing numbers are sharing office space with people from various fields and using their smartphones and laptops as portable offices. A survey by the website Deskmag, which tracks the trend, found 7,800 coworking spaces worldwide as of October 2015, up from 3,400 in 2013 and just 75 in 2007. These workspaces had more than 500,000 members, tenfold growth since 2011. The survey projected the number of coworking spaces to grow to more than 10,000 in 2016, in dozens of counties, with a strong growth trajectory in Canada, Italy, France, Thailand, Australia and India.

    Find out more: ‘Coworking’ grows amid search for new office lifestyle


  10. 104-year-old French twins say lasting friendship is secret to their longevity

    When they were born premature in 1912, doctors gave Paulette and Simone the slimmest chance of survival. But 104 years later, the French twins say it’s their lasting friendship that has kept them going all this time. Now both widowed, Paulette Olivier and Simone Thiot were born in the central village of Limeray at 11:00 am on January 30, 1912, to Marie Lamolie, a dressmaker, and her husband Joseph, a carpenter. There is no official confirmation that they are the oldest twins in France, but they appear to be the likely holders of the title. They recently posed for the cameras at their retirement home in Onzain, central France.

    More on their story: France’s 104-year-old twins say closeness is the secret 

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