Creation of 12 health graphic warning templates for tobacco packages underway --DOH

Created on Thursday, 07 August 2014

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday it is now in the process of developing 12 health warning templates that will be placed at the bottom of the front/back of tobacco packages as required by Republic Act No. 10643 or the Graphic Health Warnings Law.

“The DOH is already on its way towards the organizing of a technical working group (TWG) and is now developing the templates for the graphic health warning for the packages of cigarettes,” said Luz Tagunicar, DOH Supervising Health Program Officer.

The Graphic Health Warnings Law, or R.A. 10643, was approved in July 2014 and, once in effect, will require graphic health warning on 50 percent of each of the principal display areas on cigarette packages.

The DOH is required to issue the graphic health warning templates (patterns for the design), after which manufacturers will have one year to comply with the new requirements.

"Graphic health warnings" refer to the photographic image on the tobacco product package which accurately depicts the hazards of tobacco use and is accompanied by textual warning related to the picture.

Tagunicar said in a press conference they are optimistic that they will be finishing the warning templates by Sept. 6, which is the deadline of 30 days set for them to issue the graphic health warning.

The media briefing was organized by the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), one of the strong advocates of the Sin Tax Law (R.A. 10351) and Graphic Health Warnings Law (R.A. 10643).

Tagunicar said the template for the graphic health warning will be chosen by the DOH together with the other members of the TWG. The warning will be placed at the bottom of the front/back portion of the cigarette packages instead of the top.

However, the warning will not appear in the market immediately because tobacco companies and importers will be given a period of one year or 12 months to implement the graphic health warning.

Moreover, a period of another eight months is given for retailers to dispose of their cigarette stocks without the graphic warning.

Tagunicar explained that once the health graphic warning is placed on the cigarette packs, smokers and would-be smokers, particularly the youths, will think twice before they consider smoking.

“There is a study which shows that Filipinos are visual, for they do not read a lot, and seeing a graphic health warning on cigarette package is effective towards preventing them from smoking,” she added.

She also lauded the supporters of the Sin Tax and Graphic Health Warnings laws, especially the lawmakers such as Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Pia Cayetano, and Rep. Leah Paquiz of Ang NARS Partylist. She said that the passage of the laws was a big boost to the goal of protecting the health of the Filipino people.

“The graphic health warning aims to reduce smoking, especially among the youth,” Senator Pia Cayetano said.

She added that through the graphic warning on the cigarette packages, the smokers and future smokers will understand the danger of smoking as they will see its consequences.

R.A. 10643 was signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III last July 15, 2014.

It is the second tobacco control measure enacted during the Aquino administration.

The law will take effect on Aug. 7 or 15 days after its publication on July 23, 2014 in a major daily newspaper of national circulation in the Philippines. (PNA)

GenSan crafting comprehensive development plan

Created on Wednesday, 06 August 2014

The city government is crafting a comprehensive plan that would direct its development initiatives in the wake of the changing global socio-economic climate and integration of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the local government has initially tapped the services of top economic and development experts for the formulation of the city’s comprehensive development plan.

He said the plan, which will be centered on the area’s land-use strategy, will serve as the road map for development expansions within the city’s 26 barangays in the next decade.

“I opened talks with the University of Asia and Pacific to help gather data, statistics and information preparatory to the drafting of a comprehensive city development plan,” he said during his first state-of-the-city address on Tuesday.

The mayor said the plan will mainly take off from the city’s current status as the hub of economic activities in Region 12, especially in terms of communication, transportation, banking and finance, manufacturing, services, among others.

Also known as Soccsksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We will reinforce this status by formulating our own development road map as the economic and cultural center, as well as the tourism gateway of the region,” he said.

In line with the initiative, Rivera said the local government must take the lead in defining the city’s development agenda “by laying down the foundation and defining where investments and business opportunities are most welcome.”

The mayor asked the city council to work on the passage of a new comprehensive land-use plan for the city.

He said the local government, through the council and other stakeholders, also needs to redefine the city zoning ordinance, amend the real property tax schedule and review the local investment code.

Rivera said the new development plan will help the city prepare better for the integration by next year of the economies of the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“How it will affect the local economy and our tuna canning and processing sector is our lookout given that Thailand is a major competitor and is even a bigger canned tuna processor than us,” he said.

He said the city government wants to anticipate the effects and the opportunities the ASEAN economic integration will present to the area’s small and medium enterprises.

Rivera said the development plan will enable the city to be more competitive and eventually catch up with bigger economies in the country.

“We are at least 20 years behind our neighbor Davao City and at least 25 years behind most urban centers in the Visayas and Luzon,” he said.

Dubbed as the country’s “tuna capital,” the city currently hosts six of the countries tuna canneries and various complementary industries.

The area’s economy has continued to grow at a faster rate in the past several years mainly due to the boom in the property, construction and services sectors.

In the last two years, the city absorbed billions of pesos worth of investments with the opening and expansion of two major shopping malls -- KCC Veranza and SM -- as well as several hotels and commercial establishments.(PNA)

Ex-PH trams incorporator confirmed as Pangasinan accountant

Created on Wednesday, 06 August 2014

After clearing his name in the controversial Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 expansion project, Arturo Soriano, one of the incorporators of PH Trams, has been confirmed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) here as provincial accountant.

Soriano was confirmed by virtue of provincial resolution no. 701-2014, passed by the SP on Monday as Pangasinan provincial government department head.

Before his confirmation, SP member Alfonso Bince Jr. asked on his involvement at PH Trams which was incorporated sometime in August 2012.

He asked, “Did you inform the governor that you are going to be an incorporator of a private corporation and if so, did he allow you?"

Soriano responded that he did not inform Governor Amado Espino Jr. because it was a personal investment.

He said, "Before the incorporation, the main purpose of PH Trams is to transact with a private corporation, not with the government."

Soriano pointed out that he has divested his share with PH Trams before the bidding of the Department of Transportation and Communication for the MRT-3 expansion project.

Bince told Soriano that he "should've at least informed the honorable governor" considering the sensitivity of his position in the provincial government.

"I understand all the department heads involved in the financial governance of the province are for you," however, remarked Bince as he seconded the resolution for Soriano's confirmation."

Soriano, officer-in-charge (OIC) provincial accountant for three years, expressed his gratitude over confirmation.

"At least I am now a full fledged provincial accountant," he told the newsmen.

He cited that in his three years as OIC provincial accountant, the accounting office was adjudged as Best Accounting Office by Association of Government Accountant of the Philippines (AGAP) and Best Implementation of Credit Control by Association of Government Internal Auditors (AGIA). (PNA)

PRC-Zamboanga gears for 11th Walk for Humanity

Created on Wednesday, 06 August 2014

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC)-Zamboanga City Chapter gears for the holding of the 11th Walk for Humanity in a bid to promote the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in this city.

PRC-Zamboanga City Chapter Service Representative Gabriel Sison said Wednesday the Walk for Humanity will be held on Sunday, Aug. 10, from Mayor Vitaliano Agan Avenue (Nuñez Extension) to Paseo del Mar.

Sison said it will be followed by a short program with Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero as guest speaker.

He said around 4,000 individuals from the different sectors are expected to participate in the Walk for Humanity, the proceeds of which will be used to promote the IHL in this city.

Sison said this year’s activity is themed: “Promoting IHL towards achieving national solidarity.”

IHL is a set of rules which restricts the use of weapons and methods of warfare. It protects people who are not or no longer participating in hostilities and aims to protect human dignity and to limit suffering during times of war.

The law requires parties to a conflict to distinguish combatants and civilians and to refrain from attacking civilians, care for the wounded and sick, ensure the dignity of prisoners of war and civilian internees are preserved by allowing visits by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates.

IHL protects civilians, medical and religious military personnel, wounded, sick combatants and prisoner of war and it is important because it is one of the most powerful tools the international community has at its disposal to ensure the safety and dignity of people in times of war with the guiding principles that even in war there are limits.

The IHL is applied in two situations during international conflicts which involved two countries and armed conflicts that take place in one country such as government and rebel forces and the IHL applies to all conflict parties regardless of who started it. (PNA)

Quezon PDC meets to evaluate 'Glenda' damage

Created on Wednesday, 06 August 2014

Quezon Governor David "Jay-Jay" Suarez on Tuesday called a meeting for the members of the Provincial Development Council (PDC) and all the municipal mayors for assessment and evaluation of the damage inflicted by recent typhoon “Glenda.”

Gov. Suarez said the meeting aims to evaluate the overall damage of typhoon “Glenda” to the entire province of Quezon, to formulate rehabilitation programs and to have an update on the current status of "cocolisap" in the province.

Based on the report by Dr. Henry Buzar, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, as of July 30, 2014 the estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture reached P1.5 billion throughout the province.

"We should expedite restorative measures, however massive are the damages to out agriculture and infrastructure, especially since large percentage of our crops are wiped out,” Suarez told the group.

The Provincial Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), with the help of the provincial government implements various programs such as Food-for-Work and Cash-for-Work, emergency shelter assistance and Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Livelihood Assistance.

The governor also proposed the implementation of core housing project in each town - a project implemented by the DSWD with provincial government as partner.

He cited as example the core housing project in the town of Mauban implemented by Mayor Dingdong Llamas which has not been damaged despite strong winds brought by “Glenda.”

Mayor Shierre Ann Palicpic of Pagbilao town suggested the implementation of sharing of resources during disasters to be used for a a specific town the resources of other towns such as manpower and equipment.

All the chief executives of the 39 towns and two cities of Quezon were present in the said meeting and they shared their experiences - from the preparation up to the time when typhoon “Glenda” left the country.

Meanwhile, based on latest record of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) “Glenda” affected 167,698 families, 746,835 individuals or 42% of the total population of the province.

There were also 33,720 totally damaged houses and 140,585 partially damaged houses, 38.7% of which are located in the coastal villages in the province while 29 died and 238 were injured. (PNA)

'Stormtroopers' lauded for its peace, development efforts

Created on Wednesday, 06 August 2014

The Catbalogan-based Infantry Division on Tuesday was feted for its peace and development efforts in the Eastern Visayas.


This was stated by Central Command head Lt. Gen. John Bonafos in a statement forwarded Wednesday.


“This is an opportune time to commend the 'Stormtroopers' (nickname of the 8th Infantry Division) for the accomplishments and the successes you have made in weakening the enemy by constricting their movements and activities," he added.


Bonafos also took this opportunity to thank the officers and enlisted personnel of the 8th Infantry Division for its part in the humanitarian assistance disaster response when super typhoon 'Yolanda' struck the region in Nov. 8.


Other accomplishments of the unit include 56 encounters against NPA rebels which resulted to the neutralization of eight NPA rebels and the recovery of 22 high-powered and 16 low-powered firearms.


In addition, it facilitated the surrender of 50 NPA rebels to the government who brought along with them eight high powered and 15 low–powered firearms.


Under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Peace Process (OPAPP), the 8th Infantry Division was able to facilitate the release of PHP1.19 million worth of benefits for 21 of the surrenderees.


Other surrenderees who have not yet received their benefits are still on process and due to be released anytime.


In performing its mandate, 12 of its soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice of defending our beloved country, while 18 soldiers were wounded in action during the same period.


Bonafos said that 8th Infantry Division was also instrumental in the declaration of 20 of 26 towns of Samar and 21 out of 24 towns of Northern Samar as Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development-Ready (MCADR) areas.


By the end 2014 all the remaining towns are expected to be declared as MCADR, meaning, peace and order will be stable as NPA influence and presence in the above-mentioned towns will be minimal and can be adequately addressed by the local governments units thru the Philippine National Police. (PNA)

ARMM PNP assures 1:1 ratio firearms for cops

Created on Tuesday, 05 August 2014

The Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is strictly implementing a policy to rationalize the issuance and distribution of mission-essential equipment to line units, according to a police official on Tuesday.


In a report to PNP Chief, Director General Alan Purisima from Chief Superintendent Noel Delos Reyes, Regional Director of PRO-ARMM, disclosed that the rationalized firearms distribution policy sought to ensure 100 percent fill-up of operational requirements for small arms and light weapons, particularly in maneuver units and frontline police stations by strictly implementing the 1:1 firearms distribution policy.


Delos Reyes said the move was prompted by an earlier internal audit initiated by PRO-ARMM that led to the discovery of multiple issuance of firearms to personnel, even while there are some personnel who are yet to be issued service firearms.


The audit, Delos Reyes said uncovered 228 personnel with more than one issued firearm, prompting authorities to recall a total of 737 issued firearms and re-issuing these to other units and personnel as determined by the obtaining threat level and crime situation.


He said the region wide problem of multiple issuance of firearms was similarly noted at the Sulu Police Provincial Office.


Delos Reyes explained that with the full implementation of the 1:1 firearms distribution policy as early as July 13, 2014, all 1,223 police personnel of Sulu PPO were already issued individual light weapons ( M203 grenade launcher, M16, M14, BAR) or small arms ( shotgun, handgun).


He clarified independent observations that police forces in Sulu were inadequately equipped to perform anti-terrorism and anti-criminality operations in the province.


He explained that personnel of Police Public Safety Company of Sulu PPO were prioritized in the distribution of Class “A” Light Weapons while those assigned to administrative functions were issued small arms. The same distribution policy was also observed in Municipal Police Stations in the province.


Sulu PPO has 50 Class “A” Light Weapons and 272 small arms on reserve at the Provincial Supply Accountable Office, even as the provincial police is yet to account for 335 firearms listed in its inventory but could not be found, Delos Reyes said.


Earlier, President Benigno S. Aquino III cited the fact that every police officer now has a government-issued firearm that resulted to a 1:1 (one-is-to-one) police-pistol ratio. (PNA)

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago hits LTFRB for heavy metro traffic

Created on Tuesday, 05 August 2014

(File photo Senate PRIB/Romeo Bugante, March 4, 2014)

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution questioning the legality of two recent Memorandum Circulars by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said to cause current traffic gridlocks in Katipunan Avenue and parts of C5.

"I'm calling for a Senate investigation on these LTFRB issuances because they prejudice public transport safety to benefit only a few. It seems that these issuances violate the Aquino administration's policies for economic development," Santiago said.

Colorum buses

Santiago identified these LTFRB issuances as Memorandum Circular Numbers 2014-009, suspending operations against colorum buses and out-of-line operations; and 2014-010, which allowed public utility buses (PUBs) to modify their routes and pass through major thoroughfares, such as EDSA, from 19 June 2014 to 17 October 2014.

Colorum buses are public utility vehicles operating without a permit or are out-of-line public utility vehicles that operate outside their approved routes or area.

"The suspension of operations against the out-of-line buses would only legalize and spur the proliferation of unauthorized vehicles, which is inimical to the country's economic development," she said.

The senator also said that these issuances completely disregard numerous studies which say that the country is losing P153 billion a year because of traffic congestion.

Santiago added that the legalization of out-of-line routes not only violate existing laws in land transportation.

"These issuances also defeat the purpose of the establishment of the Integrated Transport System to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and to restrict provincial buses and other unauthorized public utility vehicles from entering EDSA," she said in her resolution.

"No Apprehension Policy" of unregistered trucks-for-hire

Santiago also hit LTFRB's Board Resolution No. 5, which extended the "No Apprehension Policy" of trucks-for-hire (TH) freight services with green plates from 29 July to 29 August. She said that the board resolution caused more traffic congestions in main thoroughfares in the metropolis.

The senator also questioned the reason behind the resolution that "after consultation with other government agencies, representatives of the business sectors, and with TH Freight Owners; and considering the number of applicants nationwide which will stop their operations that might affect the trade and commerce of our country, [the extension was necessary] to give ample time to prospective applicants to file their corresponding applications" for trucks-for-hire services.

"LTFRB's logic escapes me. Allowing these trucks to ply our roads when they are still securing the necessary paperwork in the name of trade and commerce is a flimsy excuse. This is LTFRB' failing in their basic regulatory functions," Santiago said.

"Furthermore, it appears in the LTFRB resolution that the LTFRB only consulted with the business sector and the trucking companies. Had they consulted with motorists and commuters, the Metro Manila traffic situation could have been different," Santiago added.

According to news reports, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino was not consulted about the LTFRB issuance.

The senator cited studies that the LTFRB's "no apprehension policy" increased travel time and decreased travel speed in both lanes in the Commonwealth Ave.-South Superhighway route. In the southbound lane, the route's travel time suffered a 73.6% increase, while the travel speed slowed to down 41%.

The studies also found that, compared with data from June 2013, the LTFRB's "no apprehension policy" increased truck volume in Katipunan Avenue by 80.67%, C5-Bagong Ilog by 60.52%, and C5-McKinley Hills by 33.07%.

"Together with the LTFRB's memorandum circulars, this board resolution is wreaking havoc on the daily lives of commuters and motorists," Santiago said.



Daily Weather