News in brief: Bibles, beauty queens and battleships

It’s been a busy week in the newsrooms of the Philippines, with breaking stories coming thick and fast. As the nation’s reporters prepare for a well-earned weekend break, we present a brief summary of some of the big stories of the moment…

Bible basher

Senator Manny Pacquiao in a huddle with Senator Loren Legarda
Senator Manny Paquiao in a huddle with Senator Loren Legarda during a break of session Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Joseph Vidal)

Boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao wants the last Monday of every January to be declared  “National Bible Day”, and become a new public holiday.


The committed Christian’s hard-hitting remarks about homosexuality and same-sex marriage have previously caused controversy,

More details are reported by The Inquirer here

A new United States?

has set into motion a proposal to amend the 1987 constitution along federal lines.


He says that the new form of government would help end conflict with Muslim minority in the south, which has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.

Duterte has signed an executive order creating a 25-member panel to propose specific amendments to the charter. The order was made public today (Friday, December 9).

For more on this story, visit Reuters, here


Presidential immunity?

Self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato has accused of murder, among other crimes.

In a complaint filed to the Ombudsman, the president is among 27 others named over alleged involvement in the so-called Davao Death Squad.

Also charged along with Duterte were his son, Davao City Vice Paolo Duterte, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa and 25 others.

GMA News has more here

US Navy? No thanks!

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It is “highly unlikely” the government will allow the US military to use the Philippines as a springboard for ‘freedom of navigation’ patrols in the disputed South China Sea, to avoid antagonising China.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said that US ships and aircraft could instead use bases in Guam or Okinawa, or fly from aircraft carriers to patrol the disputed waters.

Under ’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, some US aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to patrolling the disputed waters to challenge China’s territorial claims.

The Philippines Star has more on this story here

Us Navy? Yes please!

PHILIPPINE Navy’s newly-acquired warship the BRP Andres Bonifacio arrived in Manila today (Friday, December 9).

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was accompanied by the new US Ambassador Sung Kim and Philippine Navy personnel when he welcomed the ex-American Navy ship at Pier 13 South Harbour.

The Sun Star’s report of the handover can be read here

Words that wound

The debate over the reintroduction on the death penalty continues to rumble on.

The issue is even causing government officials to rethink how they describe the killings that have occurred as part of the war on drugs.

From henceforth, such deaths will not be described as “extrajudicial killings” — on the basis that because the country still doesn’t have the death penalty, there is no such thing as a “judicial killing”. In the meantime, such killings will be referred to as “extra-legal”.

For more news and insights on this life-and-death issue, visit ABS CBS News here

A bridge too far?


In a country where even the most basic infrastructure struggles to function, ambitious plans have been announced for a huge rail and bridge network to link four provinces in the Visayas. Discussions with investors and contractors are apparently ongoing.

The Manila Bulletin has more details here

An eye for the ladies

The first contestants have started flying into Manila for the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant next month. The first to arrive were the representatives from the USA and New Zealand.

It has been suggested that should be one of the judges to chose the successor to the reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, of the Philippines.

GMA News has more details here