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- Lone PH athlete advances in figure skating
Figure skater Michael Christian Martinez – the only Filipino in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and “a first for Southeast Asia,” according to CNN – advanced to the Top 24 in the figure skating competition Thursday (early Friday morning Manila time). Out of 29 skaters, he placed 19th with a score of 64.81, qualifying him for the free skate program, where medalists will be determined on Friday night. Olympics commentators described as “fantastic” his debut performance to the tune of the “Romeo and Juliet Love Theme” by Arthur Fiedler. The 17-year-old’s bid has sparked fundraising efforts by various groups after his mother revealed that, given little support from the Philippine government, they had to mortgage their home so he could train and compete in Russia.
Read the full story on Rappler.
See Martinez’s performance in photos.
- What’s new in Tuason’s PDAF testimony?
During her 4-hour appearance before the Senate on Thursday, alleged pork barrel scam bagman Ruby Tuason mostly repeated the allegations she made in the affidavit that had been submitted to the Ombudsman, but surprised senators on two things. She named another middleman in the pork barrel scam: Catherine Mae “Maya” Santos, an agriculture and anti-poverty official who claimed to have represented senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Loren Legarda. Tuason also refused to categorically link Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to the scam – to the chagrin of Enrile’s foes – saying she only delivered money to his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes.
Netizens’ reactions to Tuason’s testimony were largely negative, expressing doubt she was doing this out of genuine remorse but just to save herself from the plunder complaint she is facing. See Rappler’s social media scan here.
- Join the campaign to keep cars to just half of the roads
On Monday morning, February 17, environmentalists and concerned citizens will march to the Supreme Court to file what will hopefully be another landmark case that will compel government to implement an existing executive order for road sharing. Led by world-renowned environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr, the group asks that, nationwide, cars be limited to only half of the roads, while all-weather bike lanes and sidewalks, bus rapid transit, and public trains occupy the other half. They are convinced that once we fix the mass transport system, even car owners would choose to commute and save on gas – and help lessen air pollution. Oposa is known for getting the High Court two decades ago to issue a jurisprudence establishing the right of young people to sue the current generation for not protecting the environment for their future benefit.
See the illustrations here on the road space occupied when transporting 60 people using cars, buses, and bicycles.
- Board constituted to determine compensation for Martial Law victims
A year after the signing of the Martial Law compensation law, President Benigno Aquino III finally named the members of the claims board tasked to screen and grant reparation for human rights victims. The board will be chaired by Lina Castillo Sarmiento, the first female two-star general of the Philippine National Police who just retired in January. The 8 other board members were also named. The board will be n charge of receiving, evaluating, processing, and investigating the applications for the claims based on a points system. A total of P10 billion out of the $680 million (roughly P30.8 billion) worth of ill-gotten wealth returned to the Philippines Treasury from Marcos’ Swiss accounts has been allocated for the project.
Read the full story on Rappler.
- Asian neighbors come to PH in droves, but don’t shell out much
Some 4.68 million foreigners visited the Philippines in 2013, dominated by Asian neighbors, data from the Department of Tourism show. The numbers don’t tell the full story, however. While most of the visitors are Asians, the top spending tourists are those from Europe and America. The only exception? The South Koreans – they accounted for nearly a fourth of all tourists last year and were among the 6 nationalities with the highest per capita spending when they visited the Philippines.
See here the 12 countries from where most tourists in the Philippines come from.
- Belgium adopts euthanasia law for kids amid Catholic, doctors’ protests
Twelve years after legalizing euthanasia for adults, Belgium’s parliament extended the right to die to terminally ill children of any age Thursday, despite opposition from the Church and some pediatricians. Months of heated debate at the House of Representatives led to a vote of 86-44. A socialist legislator said, “It is not a question of imposing euthanasia on anyone…but of allowing a child not to agonize in pain.” The law offers the possibility of euthanasia to children “in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short-term.” Belgian bishops said the vote went “a step too far,” expressing fears that the legislation would “open the way to handicapped people, people with dementia, the mentally ill or those who are tired of living” to seek mercy-killing.
Read the full story on Rappler.
- More oil needed globally
“Far from drowning in oil, markets have had to dig deeply into inventories to meet unexpectedly strong demand.” This was how the International Energy Agency summed up the status of oil market after looking at the figures in the last quarter of 2013. Analysts have warned of an oil glut, with outputs by the OPEC dropping to 6-year lows. However, oil demands in advanced economics, led by the United States, picked up, arresting a decline in rate over the past 5 years. IEA noted that traditionally this would be a time of lower seasonal demand for oil and market participants would often worry about excess supply and feel the need for OPEC to cut down on its production. This is a “particularly misplaced” concern now because “the market needs to replenish exceptionally low stocks.”
Read the full story here.
- Another most dangerous Indonesian volcano erupts
Some 200,000 people from 36 villages were evacuated on Friday after Mount Kelud in the densely populated Java erupted spectacularly. Kelud, which stands 1,731 meters high, is one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the island, and has claimed more than 15,000 lives since 1500, including around 10,000 deaths in a massive 1568 eruption. It is one of some 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Its eruption comes days after Mount Sinabung on western Sumatra island, unleashed an enormous eruption, leaving at least 16 people dead.
Read the story here.
- Filipinos would choose humor over good looks in a partner
Almost all Filipinos, male or female, would prefer a romantic interest who has a sense of humor than somebody who only has good looks. The Social Weather Stations released in time for Valentine’s Day the results of its nationwide survey show that the preference is true in all parts of the country, across civil statuses, educational attainments, economic classes, and genders. A professor at the University of the Philippines gave a possible explanation to the preference of 90% of adults: “It’s more interesting to be with someone who has a good personality because good looks will fade over time.”
Read more details of the the survey on Rappler.
- Why the poorest children aren’t playing or smiling
In almost a decade, the prevalence of underweight children in the Philippines have barely changed and this manifests not only in poor physical health among children from the poorest families. It has also ripped them of their optimism and sunny disposition. “Malnourished children lack energy, so they become less curious and playful and communicate less with the people around them, which impairs their physical, mental and cognitive development,” according to WHO. They become “lethargic, weak, irritable, and very apathetic,” a children’s doctor said.
Read more about the link between malnutrition and poor social behaviour here.
Rappler will be launching in March its #HungerProject, which brings together advocates who believe that hunger can be solved and that people who care enough can do something about it. Learn more about it here.