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Most Filipinos not deeply concerned about drought: 2017 Study

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — A study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) DisasterNet Philippines has reported that Filipinos show varying levels of concern about drought.

The study, conducted in 2017 with 4,368 respondents, found that most Filipinos do not feel deeply concerned about drought, despite experiencing it in the past.

A statement on the study made public last March 15 stated that only 12 percent of Filipinos reported feeling extremely concerned, 24 percent were concerned, 21 percent were somewhat concerned, 16 percent were a little concerned while 26 percent were not at all concerned of being affected by drought.

Since early March, parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province have been grappling with water shortage after concessionaire Manila Water experienced issues in its supply.

READ: Long queues, water recycling: How are Filipinos coping with water shortage?

Manila Water had previously cited the rapidly declining water level at the La Mesa Dam amid the prevailing weak El Niño phenomenon as among the reasons for the shortage, but it later admitted to a more complicated supply problem.

READ: MWSS Chief Regulator: Rising population, no new water source caused Manila Water’s supply shortage

But the 2017 study said that the lowest level of concern was reported in the National Capital Region (NCR) with only 11 percent while the highest was in Soccsksargen with 67 percent.

The HHI report also said that in regions and provinces which are already experiencing less rainfall in the last five months associated with the weak El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, less than half of each region’s population have expressed concern about the drought’s impact.

“In Zamboanga Peninsula, where Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay have been experiencing drought since February 2019, only 25 percent were concerned about drought before the disaster,” the report stated.

“Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay and Pagadian City, which are also experiencing drought, have already been placed under state of calamity,” it added.

READ: Zamboanga city, 12 towns in North Cotabato under state of calamity due to dry spell

READ: 9 Provinces to experience drought-PAGASA

“In Northern Mindanao, where the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental have already lost at least P292 million in agriculture this year due to the effects of El Niño, as reported by the Department of Agriculture (DA), 57 percent were concerned about drought before the disaster hit,” the study stated.

In Ilocos Region, where drought has hit Ilocos Norte Since February and a dry spell is likely in Ilocos Sur and La Union, 41 percent were concerned.

In Mimaropa, where Palawan and Occidental and Oriental Mindoro are also expected to be hit by drought, 47 percent have expressed concern.

Parts of Sulu and Maguindanao are also threatened by drought but the study said “only 39 percent” of the people in the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) “thought they will likely be affected.”

The Davao region, which experienced drought in 2016, has the second highest level of concern with 63 percent.

According to a data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the provinces of Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu had also been hit by drought in 2016, while Occidental Mindoro had experienced a dry spell.

The study noted that in terms of preparedness, a mere 2.4 percent of the country’s population reported having a plan for drought.

HHI’s study is the first nationwide household survey on disaster preparedness in the country.

PAGASA predicts this year’s weak El Niño may last until August. – Robie de Guzman

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Senators on West PH Sea collision: ‘A huge insult’ to Filipinos

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Several senators have condemned the reported collision of a Chinese vessel and a Filipino vessel on Sunday (June 9), deeming it ‘a huge insult’ to Filipinos.

Sen. Joel Villanueva called the actions of the Chinese crew as irresponsible after they left the 22 Filipino crewmen in the West Philippine Sea.

“We strongly condemn the irresponsible actions of the Chinese vessel’s crew. Saving the lives of fellow seafarers should be top priority regardless of nationality or flag. The incident shows the need for greater accountability and enforcement of international laws in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in his statement.

READ: Locsin files diplomatic protest vs China after West PH Sea collision

Senators Franklin Drilon shares the same sentiment with Senator Panfilo Lacson. They are both questioning the friendly relationship between China and the Philippines.

Senator Lacson calls for a talk between the country’s leaders.

“This incident calls for a leader-to-leader talk. As I said, nothing short of serious punitive action by the Chinese government against those responsible can convince us of a real friendly relationship between our peoples,” he said.

According to Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea- University of the Philippines Prof. Jay Batongbacal this is not the first time a Chinese vessel hit another country’s fishing vessel.

“Marami itong beses na nangyari sa Vietnam binabangga ng mga Chinese vessel iyong mga Vietnamese fishing vessel, (It had occurred numerous times in Vietnam where a Chinese vessel hit a Vietnamese fishing vessel)” he said.

Batongbacal also seeks accountability for what happened. He said that the Filipino crewmen should be given compensation.

“Kung hindi tayo aalma, kung palalampasin natin ito baka ang susunod na diyan lahat ng ating mga mangingisda diyan sa West Philippine sea ay gaganyanin din, babanggain, iha-harass hanggang sa umalis na tayo sa West Philippine Sea, (If we will not protest, they might also target other fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. They might harass us until we leave the West Philippine Sea)” Batongbacal added.(with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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PH Consulate in Hong Kong advises Pinoys to stay away from protests

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

The Philippine Consulate has advised Filipinos in Hong Kong to stay away from the on-going protests against the proposed extradition law.

READ: Hong Kong lawmakers double down on extradition bill following massive protest

In a statement, the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong said the protests are mainly outside the government central offices, particularly the Legislative Complex, in Admiralty and in Tamar Park.

“Should our nationals find themselves among the crowds of protesters, they should exercise extreme caution and vigilance in order to keep themselves safe from any isolated act of violence that might occur,” the statement reads.

The Consulate also advises Filipinos to be updated with the current security situation.

Meanwhile, the Consulate will continue to “monitor the situation and provide public advisories from time to time as necessary.”

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Extension of visa-free privilege for Filipinos in Taiwan still under study

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

TAIWAN – Extension of visa-free treatment to Philippine passport holders is still under study by Taiwan’s Executive Yuan.

On Monday (June 10), Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the island state is expected to extend visa-privileges to citizens of four countries — the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand and Russia — originally set to expire on July 31, 2019.

According to MOFA, the decision will depend on the result of the assessment on the program’s effectiveness throughout the trial year.

“The final decision will be announced by the Executive Yuan in due time,” it said.

Under the visa-free program, foreign nationals from the said four countries are allowed to enter Taiwan without visa and stay in the island for up to 14 days.

The relaxed visa system was launched by the Taiwan government in an effort to boost the number of tourist arrivals after a decline in tourists from mainland China.

According to the latest figure from Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, tourist arrivals from the Philippines increased by 12.46 percent in the first four months of 2019 from a year earlier.

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