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- Comelec promises to hold polls May 9
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) pledged to hold elections on May 9 after losing its appeal before the Supreme Court on the issuance of voting receipts. Comelec Chair Andres Bautista told reporters after the Supreme Court decided 13-0 to deny the poll body’s motion for reconsideration, “We submit.” He said the poll body would comply and would do its best to “ensure credible elections in 2016.” The High Court had previously ordered the Comelec to issue voting receipts based on a petition filed by senatorial candidate Richard Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan.
Read more about the Comelec reaction on Rappler.
- PhilRem to turn over P10M to Bangladesh Bank
Remittance firm PhilRem Service Corporation is ready to issue a check of P10.47 million to Bangladesh Bank “as a sign of apology” and a “symbol of a Filipino company willing to find justice”, company president Salud Bautista said. The amount represents profits from transactions linked to the $81 million said to be stolen from the foreign central bank. During a March 17 hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Bautista said they would prepare a check as soon as the Bangladesh Bank confirms “who the payee would be.”
Read more about the offer on Rappler.
- SC to Comelec: Issue voting receipts
Voting 13-0, the Supreme Court (SC) on March 17, denied the appeal of the Commission on Elections against issuing voting receipts during the May 9 elections. Two justices – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin – did not leave a vote on the poll body’s motion for reconsideration. During oral arguments, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay warned that issuing voting receipts can heighten the “risk of an election failure”, could extend voting hours up to 20 hours, and present “new opportunities for cheating”. The SC said in its ruling that the Comelec had shown that if the source code is not amended, the vote-counting machines can still be reconfigured to allow the machines to generate the receipts in time for the May 9 polls.
Read more about the Comelec decision on Rappler.
- Miriam to skip March 20 debate
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is not attending the presidential debate on Sunday, March 20, set at the University of the Philippines in Cebu. She said she had been accepted as “fit to undergo a clinical trial for a new, unnamed anti-cancer pill”. With less than two months before elections, the senator said it would be a “disservice to the country” if she missed the opportunity to “get rid” of her cancer completely and to strengthen herself to “serve the Filipino people.”
Read more about Miriam’s battle with cancer on Rappler.
- February global temperatures soar for new heat record
Temperatures across the planet soared again last month, setting a new heat record with the warmest February since modern records began, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday, March 17. “The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for February 2016 was the highest for the month of February in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880,” said a NOAA statement. With an average temperature that was 2.18 Fahrenheit (1.21 Celsius) above the 20th century average, the month marked “the highest departure from average among all 1,646 months in the record.” The latest heat record continues a string of troubling warming trends, which US government scientists say, are driven by man-made climate change and the burning of fossil fuels which spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Read more about how we’re heating up on Rappler.
- Rousseff hits ‘coup’ as judge blocks Lula appointment
Brazilian Federal Judge Itagiba Catta Preta suspended the nomination of embattled ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the cabinet chief post, effectively blocking attempts to free him from corruption charges. The preliminary injunction, which must still be reviewed by a higher court, can still be appealed. Lula supporters are accusing their opponents of seeking a coup. The former president is charged with corruption for supposedly accepting a luxury apartment and a country home as bribes from state oil company Petrobras.
Read more about Rousseff’s attempt to save Lula on Rappler.
- Trump presidency seen as major global risk – research group
The prospect of Donald Trump winning the US presidency represents a global threat on a par with jihadist militancy destabilizing the world economy, a British research group, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said. In the latest version of its Global Risk assessment, EIU ranked victory for the Republican front-runner at 12 on an index, where the current top threat is a Chinese economic “hard landing” which rated 20. Justifying the threat level, the EIU highlighted the tycoon’s alienation toward China as well as his comments on Islamist extremism, saying a proposal to stop Muslims from entering the United States would be a “potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups”. It also raised the specter of a trade war under a Trump presidency and pointed out that his policies “tend to be prone to constant revision”.
Read more about the findings on Rappler.
- World Health Organization Sierra Leone Ebola flare-up over
The latest flare-up of Ebola in Sierra Leone has ended, leaving no confirmed cases of the virus in West Africa, the United Nations said on March 17, hailing it as a milestone. The global health body made the announcement after 42 days – or two Ebola incubation cycles – since Sierra Leone’s last Ebola patient tested negative for the second time. On March 17 the world health body was also careful to warn that a recurrence of the deadly tropical disease remained a possibility. “WHO continues to stress that Sierra Leone, as well as Liberia and Guinea, are still at risk of Ebola flare-ups, largely due to virus persistence in some survivors, and must remain on high alert and ready to respond,” a statement said.
Read more about the diminished threat on Rappler.
- Vatileaks trial adjourned for a month as new claims emerge
The Vatican’s controversial trial of journalists and others was adjourned Thursday, March 17, until next month as a new account emerged of an alleged night of sex and secrets between two of the accused. The adjournment until April 6 was announced by the Vatican after one of the 5 accused, PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui, who is 6 months pregnant, was advised to rest by doctors. Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda meanwhile admitted in court on Monday to handing over files and passwords to two reporters who are also on trial. He said he did so under duress having been effectively blackmailed by his female colleague, with whom he claims to have had a sexually charged relationship culminating in a “compromising” encounter in a Florence hotel.
Read more about the Vatican case on Rappler.
- Facebook reaches 241 million Southeast Asia users
Facebook announced on Thursday, March 17, it has reached 241 million users in Southeast Asia. According to the announcement, which is the first time Facebook shared figures on the region, 94% of these people are using Facebook through mobile. A new study from consultancy firm McKinsey & Company shows that half of all people on Facebook are connected to someone in a different country, a number which has tripled in the past year.
Read more about Facebook’s expanding reach in the region on Rappler.