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- EU calls for an end to militarization of South China Sea
The European Union (EU) called for an end to militarization in the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), after China’s recent deployment of missiles to Woody Island. In a statement on Friday, March 11, the EU said it was not taking sides in the maritime disputes, but wanted all parties to resolve their claims peacefully. Beijing’s deployment of missiles last month came just as US President Barack Obama, in a summit with Southeast Asian leaders in California, called for “tangible steps” to lower tensions in the South China Sea. The Philippines condemned China’s move, saying that “such actions negate China’s earlier commitment not to militarize the South China Sea.”
Read more: EU: End militarization of South China Sea
- SWS poll: Poe overtakes Binay; Robredo gains most
The race for the presidency remains tight, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released early Monday, March 14. Senator Grace Poe has overtaken Vice President Jejomar Binay with 27%, 3 percentage points higher than her performance in the previous survey. Opposition leader Binay went down to 24% with a 5-point drop. Administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II bounced back with 22% – a 4-percentage point increase from his performance in the February poll. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, lost 3 percentage points, but remains very close to the other candidates with 21%. In the vice presidential race, Roxas’ running mate Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo jumped 5 points higher to 24%, narrowing the gap with the two survey leaders – senators Francis Escudero and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Escudero and Marcos remain statistically tied with 28% and 26%, respectively.
- Duterte fans threaten UPLB student, Facebook takes down page
The camp of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, March 13, urged his supporters to “take the moral high ground when engaging in any kind of discourse,” amid the death threats they have been making on social media. Duterte’s supporters have been bullying and harassing a student of the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños who asked the mayor a question during a forum on Friday, March 11. Duterte supporters who assumed the student was being rude to their candidate searched for the boy’s name and other private information. They then created various Facebook pages to attack him, going as far as saying that he should die. Rappler reported this to Facebook, which eventually took down the page early Monday, March 14.
- Aquino tells PH military to ‘stay neutral’ during the elections
His predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been widely criticized for using the military in her bid to win the 2004 elections. For the 2016 elections, President Benigno Aquino III who has endorsed and is actively campaigning for Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, told the Philippine Military Academy’s graduating Gabay Laya Class of 2016 – and key officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines in attendance – to stay neutral as the elections draw near.
Watch Bea Cupin’s report: Aquino to PH military: Stay neutral
- Bongbong Marcos taps into his father’s legacy
If there’s one thing that separates Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr from the other vice presidential candidates, it would be being the son and namesake of former President Ferdinand Marcos. And he has been tapping into the ‘debt of gratitude’ of supporters by visiting places where his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, had projects and programs. Rappler looks into how the Marcos legacy played in the senator’s campaign trail so far.
- San Miguel Corp, Telstra joint venture plan not pushing through
The country’s most diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and Australia’s biggest phone and Internet provider Telstra Corporation have ended talks over a planned joint telecommunications venture in Philippines, after both failed to agree on an equity investment. In a statement, Ramon S. Ang, SMC president and COO said the parties “agreed we can no longer continue with the talks.” Despite the abandoned plans with Telstra, SMC said it would still switch on its telecommunications network along with its high-speed internet service as scheduled. Ang announced at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in October last year that his company will launch a third major telecommunications player in the country by 2016. Through CEO Andrew Penn, Telstra said although the planned venture ended, it has offered to continue its technical network design and construction consultancy support to the Ang-led conglomerate.
- Donald Trump seeks a huge lead in Tuesday’s US primaries
Five major American states vote Tuesday, March 15, in a crucial test for the White House race, with Donald Trump hoping to lock in the Republican nomination despite a barrage of attacks over his firebrand tactics. Dubbed “Super Tuesday 2″ by US media, the latest key date of the November 2016 election cycle will see Democratic and Republican contests in the states of Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. The day is expected to further winnow the field down from the current 4 contenders for the Republican nomination: Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich. To date, Trump has 462 delegates, leading Cruz who has 371, Rubio with 165 and Kasich with 63, according to CNN. To get the nomination, a candidate needs 1,237 delegates. The billionaire has been striving to adopt a more presidential tone as his high-octane rallies – the target of systematic protests by activists angered by his anti-immigrant rhetoric – have exploded into violence, throwing the race into turmoil.
- Germanwings probe calls for ‘clearer rules’ on pilots’ mental health checks
French investigators probing the Germanwings plane crash called on Sunday, March 13, for clearer rules on the lifting of medical confidentiality if pilots show signs of psychological problems. The plane was deliberately flown into a French mountainside by its co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in March last year in a tragedy that cost 150 lives and raised unprecedented aviation safety questions. In their final conclusions on the disaster, BEA civil aviation experts recommended more stringent medical checks for pilots, but stopped short of suggesting changes to the current system of flight deck door locks, which can only be opened by the pilot in the cockpit. Lubitz, 27, who was suffering from depression, was allowed to continue flying despite having been seen by doctors dozens of times in the years preceding the crash.
- After 3 defeats, human finally wins over supercomputer in ancient board game
In a high-profile showdown between man and machine, a South Korean grandmaster of the ancient board game Go scored his first win on Sunday, March 13, over a Google-developed supercomputer. But the victory came only after 3 humiliating defeats. Lee Se-Dol thrashed AlphaGo after a nail-biting match that lasted for nearly 5 hours – the fourth of the best-of-five series in which the computer clinched a 3-0 victory on Saturday. Lee struggled in the early phase of the fourth match but gained a lead towards the end, eventually prompting AlphaGo to resign. Lee earlier predicted a landslide victory over Artificial Intelligence (AI) but was later forced to concede that the AlphaGo was “too strong.” Demis Hassabis, the head of the AlphaGo developer Google DeepMind, has described Go as the “Mount Everest” for AI scientists.
- 7 Mindanao travel destinations you shouldn’t miss
Can’t decide on where to go for your Holy Week retreat? You may want to give these 7 breathtaking Mindanao destinations a try. Often misunderstood, it is common for travelers to ask about safety when travelling to Mindanao, especially if one moves out of bigger cities. But despite the bad press that this part of the Philippines gets, it is home to many pristine beaches, fetching landscapes and beautiful waterfalls that will entice anyone to return.
Check these out: 7 breathtaking Mindanao destinations you shouldn’t miss