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House okays bill requiring students to plant 10 trees before graduation

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives (HOR) approved on third and final reading a measure that requires all graduating students to plant 10 trees each as a prerequisite for graduation.

House Bill 8728 or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” aims to move the youth into action to “promote environmental protection, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, poverty reduction, and food security,” according to the bill’s authors Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Bacoor, Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla.

The bill enumerates areas where the tree planting would be executed.

These include forestlands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, inactive and abandoned mine sites, among other suitable areas.

Concerned agencies shall be the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in cooperation with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), among others.

The agencies shall be responsible in seedling production, site preparation, nursery establishment, monitoring and evaluation, as well as technical support and extension services.

They should also provide for the students’ transportation, security and medical needs on the course of the tree planting activity.

The bill is now for transmission to the Senate for action. – Marje Pelayo

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Pulse Asia survey shows 14 party-list groups getting House seats

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2019

House of Representatives of the Philippines

Fourteen party-list groups are assured of at least one seat each in the House of Representatives, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Of the 134 party-list groups accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), 14 managed to each get two percent support from voters, which will automatically give them one seat at the House in the first round of seat allocation. This is based on the February 2017 Supreme Court decision.

A total of 59 seats are reserved for party-list representatives in the May elections.

Five party-list groups each garnered the maximum three seats in the House: Bayan Muna, Magsasaka, Gabriela Women’s Party, Ako Bicol, and A Teacher.

Other party-list groups which are assured of at least one seat are: Senior Citizens, Buhay, Akbayan, Amin, An Waray, Kalinga, Anakpawis, Cibac and Angkla.

The survey also showed 74 percent of 1,800 respondents are aware of the party-list system across all areas: Metro Manila (74%), Luzon (79%), and Mindanao (77%), Visayas (57%); and socioeconomic classes: Class ABC (86%) and Class E (62%).

The nationwide poll was done on March 23 to 27, using face-to-face interviews.  –Maris Federez

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Gov’t tells Alejano: Trip to Panatag shoal OK but should be cleared

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Senatorial candidate Gary Alejano (📷 Twitter)

Everyone may visit the disputed Panatag Shoal off Zambales, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said on Monday.

Balilo made the statement after Otso Diretso Senatorial candidate and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano wrote a formal letter to the PCG to request for permission to visit the contested shoal.

The letter, dated April 13, was addressed to PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino.

“Sir, the PCA ruling in 2016 clearly stated that the Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino and Chinese fishermen, hence, both of our fishermen can fish there. However, our local media has reported otherwise, which, if left unchecked would greatly undermine our people’s rights to the resources found there,” Alejano’s letter read.

Balilo said there is no policy that prohibits people from visiting Panatag Shoal as long the trip is properly coordinated with the PCG station for rescue operation in case of emergency.

However, the Philippine Navy said Alejano and other opposition senatorial candidates cannot just sail to the disputed area, saying this should be cleared with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM).

The Philippine Navy said Alejano’s request should be forwarded to the AFP-NOLCOM as it has operational control of the navy ships deployed in Panatag shoal.

Nevertheless, authorities expressed doubt that the trip would be permitted if it’s going to be used for something other than fishing.

The PH Navy also stressed it can always deny request to travel to Panatag Shoal as it is not a tourist destination that anyone can visit.

The military said the AFP-NOLCOM’s priority concern is safety, and the current maritime dispute between the Philippines and China comes second. – Robie de Guzman

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Makabayan bloc wants probe on death of 14 in Negros Oriental

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Members of the Makabayan bloc files House Resolution 2533 on April 3, 2019 that calls on CHR to probe the killing of 14 farmers during a police operation in Negros Oriental on March 30, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Makabayan Bloc wants the House of Representatives to probe the killing of 14 farmers during a police operation in Negros Oriental on Saturday (March 30).

READ: PNP Chief relieves Negros Oriental top cops over farmers’ killing

The bloc has filed House Resolution 2533 on Wednesday (April 3) which calls on the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate on the killings.

“The killings in Negros Oriental are crimes against humanity, targeted assassinations of leaders and members of local peasant organizations perpetrated by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the guise of anti-criminality operations,” according to their statement.

Anakpawis party-list Representative Ariel Casilao said that he doesn’t believe that the slain individuals fought back.

“Our initial collation of data and testimonies from the survivors and the family of the victims point that there was a summary execution—a summary execution style,” Casilao said.

Based on the report, the chairperson of Hukom or Hugpong Kusog Mag-uuma sa Canlaon and two barangay chairman in Manjuyod were among the individuals killed.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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