Yesterday’s news, today’s headlines…

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Photo courtesy by AP.

PH under high coronavirus risk as Chinese New Year nears

MANiLA, Philippines — The influx of Chinese vacationers celebrating the Lunar New Year this weekend (January 25, 2020) may spread a new strain of pneumonia-causing virus in the Philippines, Senator Imee Marcos said.

Marcos said that lax immigration procedures for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) also increased the country’s health risk to the virus that Chinese officials have traced to an animal and seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of the central mainland province of Hubei.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) said that human-to-human transmission of the new virus remains inconclusive, Marcos said that preventive measures in the country’s international airports and seaports will minimize the risk of spreading the virus, particularly in Manila, Kalibo, Cebu and Davao which have direct travel links with China.

Besides health scans at ports of entry, standard operation procedures for a possible quarantine of infected persons should already be put in place by the Department of Health and airport authorities, just in case WHO announces an epidemic, Marcos said.

5-year-old Chinese boy from Wuhan, China investigated in Cebu due to flu-like symptoms

MANILA, Philippines — HEALTH Sec. Francisco Duque III on Tuesday revealed the Department of Health (DOH) is investigating a five-year old Chinese boy from Wuhan, China, whose samples were tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus.

In a news conference,  Duque said the boy came to the Philippines on  January 12 with his mother to learn the English language.

He said  that pancoronavirus simply represents a range of many coronaviruses.

PH highest among weather-related losses amounting $3B

MANILA, Philippines — According to the 2019 Global Climate Risk Index, the Philippines ranked number five among countries in the world with the highest weather-related losses amounting to $2.932 billion dollars.

Following the eruption of Taal Volcano last January 12,  Senator Francis Tolentino said he aims to empower local government units in preparing for and responding to natural disasters by facilitating a more detailed coordination framework between LGUs, which includes holding joint calamity drills, among others.

Duterte promises to expedite supplemental calamity fund

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte promised to expedite the release of all forms of help to Filipinos affected by Taal Volcano eruption with the immediate passage of the P30 billion supplemental budget to augment the existing calamity fund.

During his speech, Duterte said that he would ask Congress to pass the supplemental budget to reinforce the government’s efforts in response to the volcanic eruption.

“I will ask Congress to expedite to cover P30 billion. Iyong tulong, pati sa livestock,” he said.

“Dadating ang tulong sa inyo, maghintay lang kayo, and we will act fast. Sa tamang panahon, dadating ang tulong sa inyo,” he added.

Duterte also called for the construction of permanent evacuation centers in disaster-prone areas across the country.

“I’m urging Congress sa lahat ng areas na prone sa disaster na magkaroon ng mga evacuation center na malalaki lalo na ‘yung mga probinsya na nakaharap sa Pacific Ocean,” Duterte said before the distribution of relief goods to Taal volcano eruption victims-evacuees in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on Monday, January 20.

Hontiveros urges P30k cash aid for Taal eruption victims

MANILA, Philippines — Families affected by the Taal eruption should receive ₱30,000 cash assistance, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Pantawid-upa at pantawid-sahod — ito ang tulong ng cash aid sa mga nawalan ng tirahan at hanapbuhay dahil sa pagsabog ng bulkang Taal,” Hontiveros said, urging the Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD] to mobilize funds for the Emergency Cash Transfer and Emergency Shelter Assistance. 

The  Akbayan Senator emphasized that this is help from the government and not a debt.

“Huwag na nating ibaon pa sa utang ang mga kababayan nating naging biktima,” she added.

According to the Senator, the cash aid can be spent on daily subsistence of families inside and outside of evacuation centers.

Propping seaweeds production through science and technology

MANILA, Philippines — Seaweed farming has long been a reliable source of income for coastal communities in the Philippines; fringed by waters of the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf, the city of Zamboanga is no stranger to the seaweed trade.

Recently, four communities in the city, namely barangays of Sta. Catalina, Mampang, Arena Blanco, and Tigtabon have moved to adopt technologies that target seaweed efficient drying process and quality dried seaweed.

While seaweed type is a factor in determining value, the quality of the dried seaweed is what ultimately dictates price.

The current drying practice, which is basically open area sun-drying, can take up to a number of days, and puts the seaweeds at the mercy of the elements. Farmers resort to covering or storing stocks at the first hint of rain or bad weather, which does little good for the dehydration process among others.

Pangilinan backs proposed Taal Commission

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday expressed his support for the establishment of a Taal Commission — a body that would solely focus on aiding, rehabilitating, and rebuilding communities affected by the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano.

“We should immediately shift our focus to providing the needs of those affected by the ongoing eruption. We’re not going in this blindly. Alam na natin ito. There have already been several lessons learned from the 1991 Pinatubo eruption. It worked then, it should work now. We just need to adapt it to respond to the current situation,” Pangilinan said.

A  P50-billion appropriation would be needed to fund the commission, as filed by Senator Ralph Recto on Monday, January 20. Citing NDRRMC figures, over half a million people have already been affected.

“This is our reality: the Philippines has always been a disaster-prone country. What we need to do is ensure that we are faster in our response, and are quicker to make decisions relevant to the situation. We believe that having a Taal Commission would ensure more cohesive rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts that include not only government and multi-sectoral participation, allowing the people and community to take part,” Pangilinan said.

Group asks DA, BFAR to give Taal fishers reparation, unconditional financial aid

MANILA, Philippines — Former Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao on Tuesday urged the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to give Taal fishers reparation as well as unconditional financial aid to small fishers affected by the eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Recent reports that the damage to fisheries surrounding the Taal Lake now already pegged at P1.6 Billion affecting 6, 000 fish pens.

“The Department of Health’s early findings that fish products from the Taal Lake were not safe to eat added further suffering mostly to small fishers dependent on the lakes’ resources. Now that the finding of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the DA-DRMM is safe to eat, the DOH should lift its advisory,” Casilao added.

Drilon proposes to increase minimum amount for damages in court for wrongful death

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon proposed on Tuesday to increase the minimum amount of damages that the court may grant for the wrongful death of a person caused by a crime or negligence.

In Senate Bill No. 1276, Drilon sought to amend the Civil Code by increasing the minimum amount for death indemnity, whether caused by crime or quasi-delict (negligence) to P300,000 from P3,000.

Drilon said that while the old Civil Code, which was enacted in 1949, set the amount for death indemnity to P3,000, the amount has increased in jurisprudence over time to P50,000 in 1990.

The amount remained stagnant, however, at P50,000 until 2013 when the Supreme Court, in People v. Gambao, raised the minimum amount to P100,000.

Livelihood program set for T’bolis in South Cotabato

MANILA, Philippines — Seven entities signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide livelihood opportunities and markets to coffee and abaca farmers from upland T’boli communities in South Cotabato.

The partnership among the Peace and Equity Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, Philippine Fiber Industry Development Industry (PFIDI), United Maligang Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Joscual Trading and the local government unit (LGU) of T’boli will benefit 200 farmers of Knoon Highland Farmers Association (KHFA) and strengthen their community by helping them be competitive in the value chain while doing conservation-based agriculture.

According to Joscual Trading owner Jojo Joson, they hope to train 75 KHFA members to produce high quality green coffee beans.

“Second to that, we also want them to fully participate in the value chain by training them on how to process their coffee,” Joson said.

ACT slams P36B budget for NTF-ELCAC  amid calamity fund cut, measly pay hike

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed on Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte’s granting of P36.439 billion to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a formation that was built to implement the Whole-of-Nation approach to ending insurgency in the country as directed by Duterte’s EO 70.

The task force’s budget was P3 billion more than the P33.2 billion provided for the 2020 pay hike of civilian government employees, and was P20 billion more than the P16 billion 2020 calamity fund, after it was slashed by P4 billion during the budget deliberation.

The teachers’ group criticized Duterte’s prioritization of war over people’s welfare.

NBI rescues 22 Chinese sex workers, arrests 2 for human trafficking

MANILA, Philippines — Operatives of National Bureau of Investigation-Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD) arrested two  Chinese nationals for human  trafficking and rescued 22 Chinese female  sex workers during operations   last  January 15, in Makati City.

The operations of the NBI is in line with the relentless campaign of the Bureau against human trafficking.

NBI Director Dante  Gierran identified the two suspects  as Zhang Lian Wei  and Li Wu Tao.

Seized during the operation were several boxes of condoms, lighters, vaginal lubricant creams, and sexual services menu cards.

Charges for violation of RA 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) as amended by Republic Act  10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012) were filed against the two suspects  before the Office of the Prosecutor General, Department of Justice, Manila.

Proper coordination was made with the Bureau of Immigration for the schedule of turn-over of the 22  Chinese women sex workers, as well as for the filing of charges and deportation.  (IAMIGO/Stacy Ang/Currentph.com)

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