Hello, Rappler readers!
For the first time in 200 years, Japan is about to witness the abdication of an emperor. The Abe Cabinet has approved a draft bill, which will be passed on to the Diet, to allow the abdication just this one time. Emperor Akihito is 83, and has expressed his desire to retire since July last year. Meanwhile, ASEAN and China is about to finish a legally binding code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, without, Beijing hopes, any intereference from outside the region. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order banning smoking in all public places nationwide, in the absence of a law stronger than the 14-year-old Tobacco Regulation Act.
Here are the big stories in the Philippines and around the world you shouldn’t miss.
The Japanese government on Friday, May 19, approved a one-off bill allowing aging Emperor Akihito to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne in the first imperial abdication in two centuries. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet signed off on the legislation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. It will now be sent to parliament for debate and final approval. Meanwhile, the engagement of Princess Mako to a commoner has revived debates on the law that cuts off female royals from the monarchy when they marry a commoner. Allowing them to retain their royal status will help increase the number of potential male heirs to a monarchy.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China on Thursday, May 19, finished drafting the framework of a legally binding Code of Conduct in the disputed South China Sea. “We reaffirm our commitment to completing an effective Code using this agreed upon framework as basis,” the Philippines’ foreign affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhemin explained that “the framework was comprehensive and took into account the concerns of all sides,” according to Reuters.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Tuesday, May 16, the executive order on a nationwide ban on smoking in all public places. EO 26 sets strict guidelines on designated smoking areas and bans them altogether in schools, including universities, recreational facilities for minors, and 3 other areas. In buildings or conveyance, only one designated smoking areas is allowed, according to the copy of the EO obtained by Rappler.
Cases of infants abandoned by their Filipina mothers after birth in hospitals in the Middle East are on the rise, an official from the Department of Social Welfare and Development said. These are called “love cases,” according to Social Welfare Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin, where the women probably have husbands left behind in the Philippines but find boyfriends and get pregnant in the Muslim-dominated countries in Middlle East countries. There, they can go to jail for failure to show proof of marriage to the father of their children. Read here what happens when the babies are abandoned in hospitals.
Autopsy conducted by the Wayne County medical examiner found that Chris Cornell, the emblematic grunge rock singer whose sweeping voice masked lifelong struggles with drugs and depression, died by hanging himself late Wednesday, May 17, moments after finishing a concert. The singer, 52, was found dead at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel. Cornell, frontman for the bands Soundgarden and AudioSlave, had little formal training, but he possessed one of the music world’s most wide-ranging voices – it could swing nearly 4 octaves, moving from a deep baritone to a screechingly high tenor with a chilling vibrato.
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