#ThewRap: Things you need to know, February 23, 2017
Hello! Here are the stories you shouldn't miss this Thursday.
Hello, Rappler readers!
Here are the big stories from the Philippines and around the world that you shouldn't miss:
China is reportedly almost finished building up to two dozen structures in 3 reefs claimed by the Philippines, including one that the latter has exclusive rights to develop, based on an international court ruling. This is according to a Reuters report that cited two United States officials as sources. Reuters reported that the reefs that already have runways – Mischief, Fiery Cross, and Subi reefs – have structures that appear to be as long as 20 meters, and are feared to house long-range surface-to-air missiles. Reuters’ sources said the deployment of surface-to-air missiles would “expand China's air defense umbrella over the islands.”
Malacañang has approved the release of the monthly additional Social Security System pension of P1,000 starting in March. It will be retroactive to January 2017, and will be incorporated in the regular pension beginning April. According to the memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, “SSS retirees, survivors, and permanently disabled persons” are entitled to the pension hike.
Following accident that killed college 13 students, a professor, and a bus tour driver east of Metro Manila, the education department ordered a moratorium on activities outside campuses. The order came a day after the Commission on Higher Education also temporarily halted field trips required that colleges and universities. Both agencies said the period will be used to improve guidelines and security standards governing these extra-curricular activities.
The controversial death penalty bill continues to breeze through the House of Representatives after congressmen agreed to terminate the debate on February 22, effectively allotting only 7 session days for the period of sponsorship and debate for the measure. The majority thumb down all appeals made by 3 congressmen for the debate on House Bill 4727 to continue. Most congressmen also agreed to the amendments that were first decided upon during several majority caucuses:
- Retaining only the crimes of plunder, treason, rape, and 7 drug offenses
- Giving judges the option to punish perpetrators of heinous crimes with life imprisonment or death
- Safeguard measures for the accused
President Rodrigo Duterte will not attend the EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary event in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, February 24, one of the activities of his administration’s celebration of the event. It is not yet clear if the Chief Executive will attend any of the other events traditionally graced by presidents during the annual weeklong commemoration. In 2008, the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo skipped the main event to avoid anti-government protest rallies held on February 25. At the time, her administration was being pummeled by corruption allegations.
The Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group has charged 3 officials of the National Bureau of Investigation in relation to the October 2016 kidnapping and death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo. Named new respondents in a supplemental criminal complaint filed by the PNP-AKG with the Department of Justice are:
- Former NBI deputy director for investigation services Jose “Jojo” Yap
- Former National Capital Region (NCR) director Ricardo Diaz
- Former Task Force against Illegal Drugs head Roel Boliv
They were tagged by Superintendent Rafael Dumlao, the official of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group who allegedly led the kidnapping of Jee. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered their relief from duty. Read the list of other respondents here.
Vehicle owners who paid the Land Transportation Office P350 for Radio Frequency Identification stickers should get a refund. The Supreme Court declared null and void the 2009 RFID memorandum of agreement between government and Stradcom Corporation because no public bidding was conducted. Under the project, all vehicles would be required to install stickers with a microchip that stores vehicle information, and which could be captured by a reader using radio waves. The LTO was supposed to install RFID tags on an estimated 4,760,593 vehicles, and expected to raise P1.6 billion in revenues.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attacked the United Nations for “one-sided resolutions” against Israel’s push to build settlements on occupied land, as he welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu on his first official visit to the country. Ahead of the 4-day visit, Turnbull wrote a newspaper editorial: “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the UN Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.” Netanyahu welcomed the strong show of support during a joint-press conference with Turnbull: “Australia has been courageously willing to puncture UN hypocrisy more than once. The UN is capable of many absurdities and I think it's important that you have straightforward and clear-eyed countries like Australia that often bring it back to earth.”
Thousands of people in the northern California city of San Jose were ordered to evacuate their homes early February 22, as floodwaters inundated neighborhoods and forced the shutdown of a major highway. Authorities said the flooding – the worst in 100 years – was caused after Coyote Creek, which runs through Silicon Valley, burst its banks following days of heavy rain. The area under evacuation covers a large swath of the state's third-largest city, home to about one million people. About 14,000 live in the area threatened by the floodwaters.