It only takes one new issue to forget the last. And 2015 was a big year for them. Don’t just move on to next year because we should #neverforget.
8. Pork Barrel Scam
The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The SC ruled that PDAF and previous pork barrel funds violated the the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the “non-delegability of legislative power” because it let lawmakers ask for funds without proper legal processes.
APRIL 14: Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the PDAF Scam, was sentenced of reclusion perpetua for illegally detaining her cousin Benhur Luy, the main witness of the PDAF scam. She is to serve 40 years and was ordered to pay P50,000 in moral damages and another P50,000 in civil damages. She was moved to the Women’s Correctional Facility in Mandaluyong two days after she was read her sentence.
MAY 6: Jeane Napoles, Napoles’ daughter who is facing two tax evasion cases, was issued a warrant of arrest for not attending her first tax evasion case arraignment.
JULY: The younger Napoles refused to enter plea for the P17.46-million worth of non-payment of income tax case with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). The case is still on its way to conclusion.
7. Lumad killings
Lumad schools were already being attacked in 2014, but this year, the Mindanao ethnic tribe fought back for the first time against Army soldiers who raped their women, stole their land, and forced them out of their homes and schools.
MAY:, At least 700 members of the Lumad tribes were displaced from their homes after paramilitary groups occupied their villages and schools. The displaced Lumads were placed in an evacuation center.
AUGUST 18: Five Lumads were killed by the Special Forces in Bukidnon.
AUGUST 24: A Lumad girl filed cases against 3 soldiers. The charges were dropped after a Php 63,000 settlement.
September 2: In Panocmo-an in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao de Sur, at least 10 houses and a school were burned by paramilitary groups. Dionel Campos, the Lumad community leader and chair of the Lumad group Maluhutayong Pakigbisog Alansa sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), known for leading the fights for the tribe’s ancestral lands, was killed in the attack.
September 8: Five Lumads were arrested by authorities for distributing flyers about the recent Lumad killings and attacks.
The hashtag #StopLumadKillings trended in social media for Filipinos to show their support for the injustice our Lumad brothers and sisters are going through.
September 10: President Noynoy Aquino received criticism from human rights groups for his nonchalant response to the Lumad attacks: “There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after the culprits of these crimes regardless of who they are.”
6. The deaths of the SAF 44
JANUARY 25: 44 brave men died from the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) when they exchanged bullets with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao.
5. The 2016 Philippine Elections
October 12 to 16: In search for the next group of leaders of the country, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) opened the filing of Certificate of Candidacy for the Philippine Elections in 2016. The COC filing was filled with controversy as “bizarre” candidates filed their COCs.
December 8: Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally reaffirmed his presidential bid after months of pushing and pulling back his decision.
All presidential and vice presidential candidates are ready for next year’s battle.
4. The Scarborough Shoal feud
FEBRUARY 29: 29 Filipino fishermen were allegedly rammed by a Chinese coast guard ship in Panatag Shoal.
APRIL 7: The Armed Forces of the Philippines expressed alarm that Chinese military are continually driving off Philippine aircrafts from one of the disputed islands of the Scarborough Shoal.
JULY 7: The oral argument for the Spratly Islands between the Philippines and China started.
JULY 14: Google Maps changed the name of Huangyan Island (Chinese name) into Scarborough Shoal, its international name, to give way to an online petition.
OCTOBER 29: The Philippines wins the round 1 of the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal that aims to unanimously settle the feud between the Philippines and China.
3. The Bureau of Customs’ Balikbayan Box scandal
Posted by Jake Torres Lucero on Thursday, August 20, 2015
Balikbayan boxes are sacred to OFWs and their families. It has become a symbol of all the hard work OFWs experience from working thousands of miles away from their loved ones. That’s why the Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) rule to randomly check the balikbayan boxes imported to the Philippines became a huge issue this year.
The BoC views the procedure as a way to avoid contrabands from entering the country. But despite what the BoC is claiming, cases of tampered balikbayan boxes with stolen or destroyed goods have been reported.
AUGUST: PNoy mandated that the BoC can no longer randomly open balikbayan boxes.
2. Typhoon Yolanda Relief Efforts
Two years have passed since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest recorded typhoon to make landfall, hit Visayas. Here are important developments that the government has done for the victims.
AS OF SEPTEMBER 15: The Department of Transportation and Communications said that it has rehabilitated 23 seaports, 35 out of 37 airports and 5 repaired structures/buildings. The National Irrigation Administration also reported that it has restored All 2,396 hectares with national/communal irrigation systems. All 33 electric cooperatives have power restored according to the National Electrification Administration.
AS OF NOBEMBER 5: The Department of Public Works and highways reported that 77 out of the 110 flood control have been constructed. The Department of Education also reported that they have 1,026 newly constructed classrooms, 5,457 renovated classrooms and 121,950 items of school furniture.
NOVEMBER: The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) published “After the Storm: Two Years On” which is a book that contains the stories of the typhoon’s victims. Former senator Panfilo Lacson who who served as presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery said that “ the comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan (CRRP), including the P167.8-billion budget for the entire Yolanda corridor as submitted and approved by President Aquino, is not being followed by implementing agencies.”
Click this link for more complete updates on how the relief efforts are going.
1. The 2009 Maguindanao Massacre
MARCH: Andal Ampatuan, Jr, one of the major suspects of the Maguindanao Massacre, posted bail and was welcomed back with a party by his supporters. He is now running as the mayor of Shariff Aguak. 50 new suspects, some of which are public leaders and members of the Ampatuan family, were also probed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) thanks to the testimonies of witnesses.
JULY 17: Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the patriarch of the Ampatuan family and the alleged mastermind of the Maguindanao Massacre, succumbed to his battle with kidney cancer.
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