Daily News Highlights – February 19, 2016 Edition

Aika Rey

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

  1. Obama set for historic visit to Cuba in March

    Barack Obama will become the first US president to visit Cuba in almost a century. He is scheduled to make the historic visit in March, a trip which the White House hopes will be a “Berlin Wall” moment for his administration. First Lady Michelle Obama will join the US president in the March 21-22 trip to the Communist-controlled country. The last US president to visit Cuba was Calvin Coolidge in 1928, when television or air travel weren’t as commonplace.

    Read more about the Obama visit on Rappler.

  2. Aquino okays higher pay for gov’t workers

    President Benigno Aquino III has signed the executive order (EO) providing for a pay hike for government workers, along with additional benefits for civilian and military uniformed personnel. He signed the EO upon his arrival from a working visit to the United States. In a statement, Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said the first tranche under the proposed Salary Standardization Law has a budget of P57.9 billion.

    Read more about the EO signed by the President on Rappler.

  3. Gov’t to Sandigan: Declare Marcoses in default in P5-B case


    The Presidential Commission on Good Government and the Office of the Solicitor General want the anti-graft court to declare members of the Marcos and Romualdez families in default for failing to respond to a complaint first filed in 1987 and amended thrice, the latest being in 2001. Default in a civil case bars a party from presenting its evidence since it is considered to have waived rights to contest allegations in the complaint. The government case against the Marcoses involves claims over shares of stock in mining, media, financial firms, and real properties all amounting to billions of pesos.

    Read more about the PCGG’s motion on Rappler.

  4. MILF leader urges followers to observe ceasefire


    Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim urged his followers to maintain a ceasefire with the government despite its failure to pass a bill that would have implemented a peace agreement. In a statement posted on the MILF’s Facebook page, Murad said the MILF will “continue to uphold the peace process and ensure that all the gains will be preserved. Our military forces will at all times maintain its defensive posture.”

    Read more about the interrupted peace process on Rappler.

  5. On Zika: Contraception lesser evil – Pope

    Abortion is a “crime” but avoiding a pregnancy is “not an absolute evil.” This is what Pope Francis said on Thursday, February 18, in response to a question about how best to fight the Zika outbreak in Latin America. Francis recalled how Pope Paul VI had authorized nuns working in Africa to use contraceptives in light of the high risk of them being raped by soldiers. He also urged doctors to “do everything they can” to develop a vaccine against the virus which has been linked to birth defects. Many Latin American countries outlaw abortion or allow it, but only if the mother’s life is in danger.

    Read more about the Pope’s position on the Zika virus on Rappler.

  6. Bottom-up budgeting: Central Visayas benefits


    Central Visayas will be receiving P1.83 billion in Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) funds. BUB is an administration program that allows local groups – often led by civil society organizations – consult with the community to identify projects to be implemented. These projects are funded from the national budget. Of the Central Visayas allocation eyed for 844 projects, vote-rich province Cebu will get the bulk of funds at P1 billion for 426 projects. Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said Cebu will soon benefit from a rapid community-based monitoring system that will help leaders make informed decisions on the basis of data collected and processed at the local level. 

    Read more about the BUB allocations on Rappler.

  7. UN refugee chief hits Europe’s failure in migrant crisis

    Europe has “completely failed” in its response to the refugee crisis, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He warned European countries against closing their borders and blocking refugees already staying in Greece. Grandi said their message to Europe is: “Pull yourself together…Deal with [the situation] yourselves. But if our help is needed, we will be there.” More than a million migrants arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, based on UN figures.

    Read more about Grandi’s sentiments on Europe on Rappler.

  8. US-led strikes kill 15 civilians in Syria

    A US-led coalition conducted strikes against the Islamic State group or ISIS, killing at least 15 civilians, including 3 children, in northeastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit 4 ISIS-controlled villages in Hasakeh province and also killed 9 ISIS fighters. The Britain-based monitor said that in total, the coalition campaign against ISIS has killed more than 4,250 people in Syria. The Observatory relies on a network of sources on the ground for information. 

    Read more about the casualties of war on Rappler.

  9. Facebook, Twitter announce new features

    Starting April 12, Facebook is rolling out Instant Articles to all publishers anywhere in the world after launching in May 2015 with a handful of foreign media companies. Social media site Twitter, meanwhile, announced on February 18, it is making available the ability to search for GIF images and to capture and share videos in direct messages. These are available only on iOS and Android for now.

    Read more about Facebook’s Instant Articles on Rappler.

    Details about Twitter’s new rollouts are also on Rappler.

  10. WATCH: After Grammys mic glitch, Adele slays ‘All I Ask’ on ‘Ellen’


    After a technical glitch caused best-selling British singer Adele to be out of tune during her performance of “All I Ask” during the Grammys, she got the chance to sing it again on Ellen DeGeneres’ show. She sang with only a piano accompaniment, with no mics falling on the piano strings this time around. During the Grammys, the mic that fell on top of the piano caused a guitar-like sound in the background, which cut out for a while, before Adele drifted out of tune.

    Read more about how Adele reacted to the glitch on Rappler.

    Watch when Adele said she cried almost the entire day after the Grammys, also on Rappler.

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.