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- Clinton, Trump positioned to win Super Tuesday
White House hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will pass a point of no return on Super Tuesday, the biggest voting day of the primary season. With just hours to go before polls open, the Republican and Democratic frontrunners fended off rivals and appealed to supporters. Trump is leading in polling in at least eight of the 11 Super Tuesday states. Clinton is ahead in all Tuesday states except Sanders’ home state of Vermont. Clinton took aim at the increasingly hostile campaign rhetoric on the Republican side led by the brash real estate mogul Donald Trump. Clinton said, “What we can’t let happen is the scapegoating, the blaming, the finger-pointing that is going on on the Republican side, which not only sets a bad example,” she said. “It really undermines our fabric as a nation.” Trump’s incendiary campaign has turned American politics on its head. Mainstream Republican rival Marco Rubio intensified his personal attacks against Trump saying, “They’ll shred him to pieces and then get Hillary Clinton elected.”
Read more on Super Tuesday.
- Limited broadcast of Pacquiao fight in General Santos being studied
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it is studying its decision in 2007 that restricted the airing of a match of boxing champ Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao in his own province. While the Comelec imposed restrictions back then, a poll commissioner in 2007 said the poll body “cannot impose a total ban” on the telecast of Pacquiao’s boxing match because the boxer “is of national interest.” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the Comelec is weighing this previous decision after Walden Bello, one of the boxer’s rivals in the senatorial race, urged the poll body to declare Pacquiao’s upcoming match as illegal. Pacquiao, now Sarangani representative, is set to fight boxer Timothy Bradley in a match on April 9, exactly a month before the May 9 elections. Bello said the match on April 9 will give Pacquiao “a tremendous advantage in terms of publicity,” a violation of airtime limits for candidates.
Read more on Pacquiao fight and the May elections.
- NPC endorsement of Poe ‘not solid’ – rival camps
Presidential candidate senator Grace Poe may have secured the endorsement of political party Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) but for rival camps it is no big deal. They claimed not all NPC members would toe the party line, especially at the local level. Ibarra Gutierrez, spokesperson of the Liberal Party-led coalition, refused to acknowledge the official announcement made by NPC president and Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao on Monday, saying it could not have been the party’s official position since it was “just a press briefing.” Peter Laviña, spokesman of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, said they respect the decision and thanked the party for meeting with Duterte earlier. He, however, said they still expect strong NPC support at the local level, especially in Mindanao, where Duterte hails. The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay had the same sentiments, saying the NPC’s support for Poe is “not solid,” citing past experiences. United Nationalist Alliance spokesman Mon Ilagan, a former NPC member, cited the supposed strong backing for Binay of former Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco, the son of NPC founder Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
Read more on the downplaying of NPC’s endorsement of Poe.
- Bongbong Marcos: Rules allow my father’s burial at heroes’ cemetery
Vice Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr reiterated on Monday that his father’s remains deserve to be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) because it is what the rules say. According to the policy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, former presidents, commanders-in-chief, and war veterans are allowed to be buried in the cemetery. Some groups – particularly the ruling Liberal Party (LP) – refused to grant the privilege to the late dictator, whose remains are preserved in the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte. LP standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said in a radio interview in 2015 that Marcos should not be buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery. His running mate, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, recently echoed Roxas’ sentiment and emphasized that only those “deserving” should be buried there.
Read more on Marcos burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
- Comelec: More than 10M ballots printed despite problems
Despite initial “hiccups” that delayed the ballot-printing process, at least 10.5 million ballots have been printed for the May 9 elections as of Monday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said. This is nearly 20% of the 56.77 million ballots needed for the May 9 elections. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said at this rate ballot printing has not yet been placed on “full speed.” This comes after the Comelec encountered several problems in ballot printing. The Comelec had to reprint the first batch of ballots after the name of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s party – the People’s Reform Party – had been omitted from the original ballot template.
Read more on the Comelec ballot-printing process.
- Customs: Delayed license plates found abandoned in Port Area
Good and bad news for vehicle owners who have been waiting for months for the license plates they already paid for. The good news is that the license plates have arrived in Manila, and are now with the Bureau of Customs. The bad news is, they are in 11 containers vans that the private importer has abandoned, and have incurred duties and taxes of about P40 million. The container vans, which recently arrived at the Manila port in separate batches, contain some 600,000 license plates. However, Customs commissioner Alberto Lina said the shipments are under the name of a private “joint venture,” not under the Land Transportation Office (LTO) nor the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board. The joint venture, which Lina refused to name, bagged the P3.8-billion contract in 2013 under the LTO’s License Plates Standardization Program, but has failed to deliver. The LTO has been under fire from motorists after it announced that it would strictly implement its “No registration, no travel” policy beginning April 1, 2015. Under the policy, vehicle owners who cannot show proof that they have already registered their vehicles would face penalties.
Read more on abandoned license plates.
- PH hits China anew over rejection of historic case on South China Sea
The Philippines on Monday slammed China after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it is actually abiding by international law by rejecting Manila’s historic case over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). This comes after Wang on Thursday criticized the Philippines’ case in a speech for the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. In a statement, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the international community, including the Philippines, is “asking China to respect” the upcoming ruling on the arbitration case lodged in The Hague. The Philippines expects the arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, to rule on the case early this year. While the Philippines awaits this ruling, recent reports said China had deployed surface-to-air missiles, fighter jets, and radar installations in the region that it deemed “absolutely necessary.”
Read more on the PH-China row.
- Clash between refugees, authorities in French migrant camp and Greco-Macedonian border
The refugee crisis in Europe escalated on Monday, February 29. Clashes broke out between French riot police and migrants as authorities destroyed makeshift shelters in a Calais refugee camp called “Jungle.” Police lobbed tear gas canisters at migrants who protested by throwing rocks and blocking vehicles. The demolition of the Jungle comes ahead of talks on Thursday, February 3, between French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain has put substantial pressure on France to stem the flow of migrants getting across the Channel, and has funded a huge increase in security measures around the port and tunnel in Calais. At the border of Greece and Macedonia, hundreds of refugees tried to break through a border fence, where more than 7,000 people are stranded. Macedonian police fired tear gas as some 300 migrants forced their way through a Greek police cordon and raced towards a railway track between the two countries. In a sign of deepening divisions within Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lashed out at Austria and Balkan states for introducing tight limits on migrant entries, leaving Greece with a growing bottleneck as refugee boats continue to arrive from Turkey.
Read more on the escalating migrant crisis in Europe.
- Amin Hataman: 15 year-old scientist behind biodegradable plastic bags
For 15 year-old Amin Hataman, his attachment to the beach and nature inspired his plastic bag project that had him included in the first Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list. The youngest in the list, Hataman was recognized for his biodegradable plastic bag project, a school project that he believes will contribute to the lessening of the use and disposal of plastic bags that make their way to the ocean and cause the demise of marine wildlife. The project was a collaboration with his friend, Turkish Gokturk Memduh Karabulot. For his biodegradable plastic bag project, Hataman won the bronze medal at the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering and Environment Project held in Houston, Texas in May last year. Before this, he was also awarded the gold medal at the International Young Inventors Olympiad in Georgia. Hataman is the son of politicians Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman of the Anak Mindanao Partylist, but the young Hataman prefers to pursue science instead of politics.
Read more on the Forbes-acclaimed 15 year-old scientist.
- Oscar highlights: di Caprio’s win, Chris Rock’s opening, Star Wars cameo
The recently-concluded Academy Awards was Hollywood’s biggest night this 2016 thus far, and there were unforgettable, amusing, and inspiring moments worth revisiting. The Revenant star Leonardo DiCaprio took home the Oscar for Best Actor – an elusive feat for the 5-time nominee. Host Chris Rock didn’t shy away from the issue of the Academy’s perceived lack of diversity and the #OscarsSoWhite uproar that followed it. And like a lost and bewildered trio, the beloved droids from the Star Wars saga, C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, appeared onstage. The droids also paid tribute to Star Wars composer John Williams who was nominated for the 50th time this year.
Read more on the highlights of the 2016 Oscars.