Australians demand PM’s resignation amid bushfires

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020   •   747

Sydney – Thousands of Australians on Friday protested in several cities demanding Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s resignation over his failure to act on raging fires and his lack of commitment to the climate crisis.

The protests were organized by the student-led organization, Uni Students for Climate Justice and members of the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Anneke De Manuel, one of the organizers, told EFE that they were demonstrating because unprecedented fires were burning since September and urgent action against the wildfires and climate change was required.

She also emphasized the need for an immediate and complete transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies as well as Morrison’s resignation.

The bushfires that have been raging since September have claimed the lives of 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and an area twice the size of Belgium, and have killed or destroyed the habitats of one billion wild animals.

The police authorities in the southeastern state of Victoria said they have insufficient resources as the majority of personnel are fighting bushfires affecting the southeastern region of the country.

During wildfires, Morrison has refused to acknowledge the connection between the climate crisis and wildfires by arguing that attention should be on casualties and on controlling the flames.

According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous fire conditions in Australia and other parts of the world.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and Morrison, before becoming the prime minister, gave a speech in Parliament with a piece of coal in his hand to defend mining companies against appeals to reduce production.

The demonstrators have also demanded for subsidies to polluting industries to be canceled and used instead to finance firefighters, to help in controlling bushfires and to care for communities affected by the flames.

Despite Morrison publicly apologizing for having gone on holiday to Hawaii with his family as fires tore through forests and property in his country, citizens have criticized his handling of the crisis. EFE-EPA

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PH military receives P2.7M worth of IT, multimedia equipment from Australia

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it has received Information Technology (IT) and multimedia equipment worth P2.7 million from the Australian government.

AFP chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana received the donation in a ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, June 23.

“With these newly donated IT and multimedia equipment, the AFP will be able to amplify its capability of preventing and countering violent extremism, here in our country,” General Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.

Among the donated equipment were high-tech computers, tablets, storage devices, smart TVs, cameras, and audio recording components.

The donation was under the mutually agreed Australia-Philippines Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program.

Australian Defence Attaché Colonel Paul Joseph Barta said these equipment will help the AFP in its efforts to counter the threat of terrorism in the Philippines.

“The equipment will assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ office for the prevention and countering of violent extremism research to achieve its mission – by documenting and understanding the drivers of radicalization, effective strategies for prevention of violent extremism can be found,” Barta said.

Sobejana expressed gratitude to the Australian government and the Australian Defence Force for the donation.

“Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Australian Government and the Australian Defence Force for their continued support to the AFP in the ongoing fight against terrorism. It is through these initiatives that our members become more empowered to fulfil their mandate to secure the state and protect the Filipino people,” he said.

With the new equipment, the AFP said access and exchange of information among military allies shall be made more available and secured.

It also assured it continues to strengthen its counter-terrorism capabilities within the cyberspace where access to available information is critical.

“We have already made great strides in enhancing our capabilities in the cyberspace environment. However, we do acknowledge that much is still needed,” Sobejana said.

“After the grueling Marawi siege in 2017 against the ISIS-Maute Group, and the lessons that we have to learn the hard way, the AFP is more than determined to prevent any incidents of the same nature from ever happening in the future,” he added.

PH to receive P505M worth of COVID-19 vaccine donation from Australia

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Australian government is donating 13.72 million AUD or P505 million worth of coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines.

The vaccines will be purchased in coordination with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said Australian Ambassador to Manila Steven Robinson on Thursday (June 17).

“This will make an important contribution to meeting the country’s vaccine needs in 2021. The Philippines will receive additional procurement and end-to-end distribution support to meet its needs under Australia’s new agreement with UNICEF to purchase safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the Philippines,” he said.

The vaccines are expected to be delivered within the year.

Aside from the anticipated donations, Robinson said Canberra has also provided Manila at least 7.52 million Australian dollars or around P277 million to boost its vaccine rollout through Australia’s Vaccine Response Plan.

Australia is the Philippines’ fourth donor country following other sponsors such as China, the United States, and Japan.

Australia commits P480 million to purchase COVID-19 vax doses for Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Australian government has pledged to donate an additional P480.2 million to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses for the Philippines, its envoy said Thursday.

In a series of tweets, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said he has informed concerned government agencies about Australia’s new commitment, which he said will make an “important contribution” to meeting the Philippines’ vaccine needs.

“The Philippines will receive additional procurement and end-to-end distribution support to meet its needs under Australia’s new agreement with @UNICEF to purchase safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the Philippines,” Robinson said.

“I have informed Secretaries @teddyboylocsin @SecDuque Galvez & Dizon of Australia’s additional commitment of AUD13.72M (PHP480.2M) to buy #COVID19 vaccine for the (Philippines). This will make an important contribution to meeting the country’s vaccine needs in 2021,” he added.

Robinson said Australia’s new commitment is in addition to its support through vaccine-sharing global initiative COVAX Facility, to which it has contributed AU$130 million.

The Philippines has so far received 5,025,870 doses from the COVAX facility.

Robinson also said that Australia’s Vaccine Response Plan for the Philippines has also provided AU$7.52 million in vaccine delivery support through UNICEF Philippines and WHO Philippines.

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