#ThewRap: Things you need to know, December 29, 2016

Hello! Here's a roundup of news you need to know this Thursday

BEFORE THE BLAST. The plaza before the bombings occurred. Photo by VSU Student Ritchmon Relente.










Hello Rappler readers,

President Rodrigo Duterte will spend the New Year in the national capital to focus on rehabilitation efforts in areas struck by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten).

The Chief Executive is also likely to spend the last days of the year being briefed on the latest blast in the country, this time at the Hilongos plaza in Leyte as the town celebrated its fiesta on December 28. Malacañang and state media initially cite deaths in the incident, but the Department of Social Welfare and Development and regional police say the bombing only inflicted injuries.

As the year draws to an end, and weeks before a new administration takes the helm of the world's only superpower, US Secretary of State John Kerry in a landmark speech criticizes Israel for its "settler agenda."

American actress Debbie Reynolds makes her final curtain call at age 84, a day after the death of daughter Carrie Fisher – another sad farewell in 2016. For those who can't wait for the year to end, they will have to wait an extra second – a leap second – before welcoming 2017.

Below are the big stories you shouldn't miss.

DSWD clarifies: No deaths in Leyte blast

A Palace statement created confusion on the number of casualties in the blasts that rocked the town plaza during the fiesta celebration in Hilongos, Leyte, on December 28. The Department of Social Welfare and Development, the source of the "unofficial" data, later clarified that the report on the deaths was a "false alarm" and that 33 people were injured in the incident.

Duterte to spend New Year in Manila

It's going to be a working New Year's Day for President Rodrigo Duterte. In the last days of 2016, he plans to call a meeting in Malacañang to discuss with Cabinet members the needed response to Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) that killed at least 6, damaged at least P25 million worth of crops, and destroyed 20 military outposts and camps.

House leaders file complaint vs Ronnie Dayan over Bilibid probe snub

In their disobedience to summons complaint filed against Ronnie Dayan before the Department of Justice, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, said Dayan violated Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code when he did not show up at the hearing on drugs at the New Bilibid Prison on October 6 despite a subpoena issued by the House committee on justice.

Kerry warns Israel settlements threaten democracy

In a stern parting shot, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Israel that building settlements on Palestinian land threatens the country's very future as a democracy. With 4 weeks to go before the Obama administration leaves office, Kerry accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of allowing Israel to slide towards a "perpetual occupation."

Carrie Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds dead at 84

Film legend Debbie Reynolds, best known for classic musical Singin' in the Rain died Wednesday, December 28 after suffering a stroke, a day after the death of her movie star daughter Carrie Fisher, US media reported. She was 84.

5. 4. 3. 2. 1. 1... An extra second to see out 2016

Countries that use Coordinated Universal Time – several West African nations, Britain, Ireland and Iceland – will add the leap second during the midnight countdown to 2017 – making the year's final minute 61 seconds long.

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