#ThewRap: Things you need to know, May 31, 2018

Hello! Here are the stories you shouldn't miss this Thursday.

BRP SIERRA MADRE. This aerial photo  taken from a military aircraft shows the dilapidated Sierra Madre ship of the Philippine Navy anchored near Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) with Philippine soldiers onboard to secure the perimeter in the Spratly Islands, on May 11, 2015. File photo by Ritchie Tongo/AFP










Good morning Rapplers!

For the first time in months, the Philippines silently filed a note verbale against China over the latter's recent moves in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Insiders said the note verbale included the installation of missiles in the Spratlys. It also covered a Chinese Navy chopper's alleged harassment of a Philippine Navy rubber boat on May 11, when the Philippines was resupplying its troops in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).

Meanwhile, amid mounting complaints over the high prices of fuel and basic commodities, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno insisted that Filipinos should not complain too much and "be less of a crybaby." The higher prices are due to the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train), which aims to support the government’s ambitious infrastructure push.

Also in transportation, Grab Philippines denied the findings of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) that its acquisition of Uber Philippines led to higher fares and "deteriorating" quality of service in the ride-hailing market. Grab argued that there are too many passengers and not enough vehicles. As for complaints about poor service, Grab noted that it recently launched a "100-day improvement plan to improve driver and rider experience."

All this and more are on today's wRap!

Philippines silently files note verbale against China

China also filed a diplomatic note against the Philippines after their second bilateral consultation mechanism meeting in February, insiders tell Rappler

House approves proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law

District representatives replace House Bill No. 6475 with a substitute bill containing the amendments they want to introduce in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law

Guevarra changes tune, will now review Calida firm's DOJ contracts

The issue is brought up by Senator Francis Pangilinan during Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra's confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments

DOT chief says Tulfos haven't returned P60M yet

'I leave it up to the COA kasi sila magsasabi kung may disallowance,' says Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat when asked what her agency will do about it

Diokno on high fuel prices: ‘We should be less of a crybaby’

Budget chief Benjamin Diokno says tax reform cannot be suspended midway: ‘We are promising you world class infrastructure. Do you want us to stop doing that? Traffic congestion is causing P3.5 billion daily. Do you want us to stop doing that?’

PH economy growing but poverty still high – World Bank

'Despite the generally good economic performance, poverty remains high and the pace of poverty reduction has been slow,' says the World Bank in its latest report on poverty in the Philippines

Grab denies PCC findings of higher fares, 'deteriorating' service

The Philippine Competition Commission also finds that newly accredited ride-hailing companies are unlikely to provide much of a challenge to Grab – at least not in the near future

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