A Philippine government agency on Tuesday ordered the country’s leading broadcast network, which the president has targeted for its critical news coverage, to halt operations after its congressional franchise expired, sparking shock over the loss of a major news provider during the coronavirus pandemic. The National Telecommunications Commission ordered ABS-CBN Corp. to stop operating after its 25-year congressional franchise ended Monday.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned violators of coronavirus lockdown measures they could be shot for causing trouble and said abuse of medical workers was a serious crime that would not be tolerated. The Philippines has recorded 96 coronavirus deaths and 2,311 confirmed cases, all but three in the past three weeks, with infections now being reported in the hundreds every day.
A typhoon that struck the central Philippines over Christmas has killed at least 13 people, disaster agency officials said on Thursday. Typhoon Phanfone hit the Philippines late on Tuesday with winds of up to 120 kph (75 mph) and gusts of 150 kph, heavy rain and flooding. More than 58,000 people were evacuated from their homes before the storm, which caused widespread property damage.
Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus in several areas including the capital, Manila. As of 26 January there have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau. That is a 74% increase from 2018. Parents have been reluctant to have their children immunized at government health centers, after complications related to a dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia. There is now increasing concern for the 2.4 million unvaccinated children.
Tropical Storm Usman, which entered the Philippines on Christmas Day, emerged as the deadliest weather disaster for the country this year following Typhoon Mangkhut in September. Usman, a slow-moving storm with winds of up to 55 kilometers (34 miles) an hour, killed at least 61 people as it triggered floods and landslides and forced thousands to flee to safer grounds. More than 6,600 people were stranded in various ports, while Cebu Air Inc. and Philippine Airlines Inc. canceled more than a dozen flights from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30.
Maria Ressa, the co-founder of an online news start-up critical of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, has been arrested a second time as the Duterte administration steps up its campaign against a news outlet that has been sharply critical of his government. The latest charges against Ms. Ressa accuse her and members of her news outlet, Rappler, of violating laws regarding foreign ownership of the company. She was released around noon after posting bail, about five hours after she was arrested.
Two bombs tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral in southern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and leaving dozens wounded, authorities said. ISIS on Sunday claimed responsibility for the bombings via its Amaq News Agency. In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana condemned the bombing and said he has directed troops to “heighten their alert level” and secure places of worship and public spaces.
The Philippines is preparing for the anticipated Saturday arrival of Typhoon Mangkhut with thousands evacuating from coastal areas. As farmers rush to save their crops, schools and offices are closing as the typhoon approaches. Typhoon Mangkhut is projected to be the strongest typhoon in the Philippines in 2018 with ten million people in its path.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced, Wednesday, the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the International Criminal Court (ICC), following the ICC’s investigation into Duterte and deaths linked to his campaign against drug users and dealers. Duterte defended his campaign saying the acts committed ‘are neither genocide nor war crimes.’
A new powerful earthquake hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, a day after a magnitude 6.1 quake rattled the country’s north and left at least 16 people dead. The quake was centered near San Julian town in Eastern Samar province and prompted residents to dash out of houses and office workers to scamper to safety. There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage from the new quake. Philippine seismologists said the back-to-back quakes in the last two days were unrelated and caused by different local faults.