Daily News Highlights – April 5, 2016 Edition

Gwen De La Cruz

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

  1. Panama Papers leak triggers global crackdown on tax evasion

    Spain, France and several other countries launched tax evasion probes Monday after a massive leak of confidential documents lifted the lid on the murky offshore financial dealings of a slew of politicians and celebrities. The scandal erupted on Sunday when media groups began revealing the results of a year-long investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in creating offshore shell companies in the tax haven of Panama. Among those accused are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson as well as Barcelona striker Lionel Messi. The trove of documents, known as the Panama Papers, was anonymously leaked to German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with more than 100 media groups by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, with more information expected to be released over the coming days and weeks.

    Read more on the Panama Papers leak.

  2. Bidder sues Comelec over Smartmatic support center

    Weeks after it lost a Supreme Court case involving voting receipts, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) faces a new petition, this time over a support center for the May 9 polls. Technology provider Smartmatic won the contract to establish a National Technical Support Center, which serves as a call center and troubleshooter for the elections. A losing bidder requested the SC on Monday to stop the Comelec from awarding the contract to Smartmatic. The joint venture said it submitted the lowest bid for the support center, but the Comelec ended up awarding the contract to Smartmatic. Comelec reportedly explained that the joint venture’s net financial contracting capacity doesn’t at least match the approved P122-million ($2.64-million) budget for the contract. The petitioner claims this is a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec.

    Read more on the new petition against the Comelec.

  3. Cayetano, Pimentel to lead public hearing on Kidapawan

    Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Alan Peter Cayetano will be conducting a public hearing on the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan. In a statement released Monday, Cayetano said the hearing will be held by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Thursday in Davao City. Pimentel said they are holding the hearing in Davao City because it is one of the nearest places to the Kidapawan incident and some resource speakers are too injured to travel all the way to Manila. At least 2 protesters were killed and several others were wounded, including policemen, when cops dispersed protest of farmers on April 1. The farmers are protesting government’s insufficient support as they struggle with drought caused by El Niño. The cops are accused of using excessive force during the dispersal. 

    Read more on the upcoming public hearing on Kidapawan.

  4. Pemberton bail appeal denied, but sentence reduced

    Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, the United States Marine convicted of homicide for the death of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, lost his appeal for bail but got a shorter jail term. In a ruling on March 29, Olongapo court judge Roline Ginez Jabalde affirmed the decision to convict Pemberton, but reduced the sentence from 12 years to 10 years. Pemberton was initially charged with murder, but the court reduced it to homicide.

    Read more on the Pemberton verdict.

  5. In a letter, Pope Francis ‘offers prayers’ for Duterte

    A letter from presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte was apparently warmly received by Pope Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics who was the subject of Duterte’s cursing late last year. The letter was penned by Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the substitute or top official for church internal affairs at the Vatican. Becciu was writing Duterte in behalf of the Pope. Duterte cursed Pope Francis last November. He called his statement a “mistake” and a “stray bullet,” saying his cursing was actually directed at the traffic woes caused by government mismanagement of the Pope’s visit. 

    Read more on Pope Francis’ letter for Duterte.

  6. Kim Wong returns more money to money laundering council

    Casino junket operator Kam Sin “Kim” Wong on Monday delivered another P38.28 million ($830,595.50) to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for safekeeping in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas headquarters in Manila before being handed over to Bangladesh. This is in addition to the $4.63 million Wong’s legal counsel Victor Fernandez turned over to AMLC last March 31. Fernandez said the money came from Wong’s company Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited, which  got hold of P1 billion or $21.575 million of the stolen funds. Of the P1 billion, Wong said he took P450 million as the payment of casino junket operator Gao Shuhua for a gambling loan. Shuhua is one of two who reportedly facilitated the entry of the laundered money into Philippine casinos. 

    Read more on the return of laundered money to PH government.

  7. PH health department begins school-based dengue immunization

    Less than 4 months after the Philippines approved the sale of the world’s first-ever dengue vaccine, the Department of Health (DOH) began immunizing over one million Grade 4 students from 3 regions that recorded the highest number of dengue cases in recent years. While the World Health Organization has yet to give its recommendations on the vaccine’s use, the DOH already vouched for its safety and efficacy. In fact, the department allocated P3.5 billion from its savings to buy the vaccine.

    The first dose of the dengue vaccine will be given from April to June 2016, and the second and third doses will be given at 6-month intervals – on October to December 2016 and April to June 2017, respectively. Dengue, a disease common in tropical and subtropical countries, is transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito. Dengue fever is potentially fatal and mainly affects children. The Philippines is among countries in the Western Pacific region with the highest incidence of dengue in recent years. 

    Read more on dengue vaccine immunization efforts in PH.

  8. Two planes collide in Jakarta airport

    A Batik Air plane and a smaller plane owned by Trans Nusa collided on a runway in Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. No injuries were reported. The Boeing 737-800 plane operated by Batik Air clipped the tail of a Trans Nusa aircraft while attempting to take off. Both planes caught fire, while the passengers and crew on Batik Air were evacuated via slides. Transportation Ministry Spokesman JA Barata said the incident happened at 7:55 pm Jakarta time when the Batik Air plane was heading to Ujung Pandang in East Sulawesi. Halim Perdanakusuma Airport was closed for 80 minutes due to the incident.

    Read more on the collision of planes in Jakarta.

  9. Google removes Taliban app from store

    Tech giant Google on Monday said it removed a Taliban smartphone app from its online store, countering its increasing efforts to boost global visibility. The Afghan militant group launched its foray into smartphone apps on Friday called “Alemarah”, giving access to propaganda statements and videos. The digital campaign, first reported by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, added to the Taliban’s already robust social media presence and a website in 5 languages including English. Once seen as uneducated thugs, the Taliban developed a media-savvy PR team who use digital technology to reach out to audiences worldwide.

    Read more on the Taliban’s Google app.

  10. Manny Pacquiao dodges assault attempt in Los Angeles

    Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao reportedly dodged an assault attempt outside of Kabuki restaurant in Los Angeles on Monday, April 4 (Sunday US time), according to reports. Philippine Star boxing reporter Abac Cordero said a “white male” had to be “restrained by Pacquiao aides” from assaulting the 8-division boxing champion as he was exiting the restaurant. The boxer was by the door of his Ferrari at the backdoor parking lot when the unidentified assailant “rushed to him.” As he was held back, the attacker reportedly screamed expletives at Pacquiao. Pacquiao, who is in training for his April 9 farewell fight against Timothy Bradley Jr, will wrap up camp with a sparring session on Tuesday Manila time before heading to Las Vegas.

    Read more on Pacquiao’s assault.

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