Senate deliberates on proposed creation of special defense economic zone

admin   •   June 5, 2018   •   4360

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee on economic affairs has begun deliberations on the proposed establishment of a Special Defense Economic Zone within Camp General Antonio Luna in Limay, Bataan.

The bill aims to make the area accessible to inclusive business prospects and accelerate the inflow of top-notch material on advanced weaponry.

Senate committee on economic affairs chairman Senator Sherwin Gatchalian believes the measure will help the Philippine armed forces in the production of basic weapons and other ammunition.

“So we can be self-reliant, without having to procure ammunition from other countries. We no longer have to buy defense equipment from others because we will produce our own bullets and other ammunition,” said Gatchalian. —  Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

PH Gov’t urged to take precautionary measures vs threat of new coronavirus strain

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

Passengers wearing face masks who arrived from Guangzhou, China lineup for immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, 22 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers on Wednesday urged the Philippine government to take precautionary measures and prepare emergency response plans amid the threat of a new strain of coronavirus from China.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to put schools on alert and ensure that preventive steps are in place to protect students from the respiratory disease that has already infected 222 individuals across neighboring countries of China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

“Sa ating pangambang makapasok itong bagong coronavirus sa ating bansa, mabuti nang maging sigurado tayo dahil ang isang kumpirmadong kaso ay maaaring maikalat sa iba,” Gatchalian said.

He made the appeal after the Department of Health (DOH) reported Tuesday it is closely monitoring a child who may have contracted novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) prior to entering the Philippines from Wuhan, China.

The DOH said the child manifested symptoms such as cough, throat irritation, and fever. He is currently stable but still has a cough.

Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.

But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.

The new strain of coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan City on December 31, 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected person or animal.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture also said that schools should have protocols in identifying students displaying flu-like symptoms and emphasize the practice of good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, to avoid any diseases.

Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, called on the DOH and other government agencies to prepare for an emergency response plan in dealing with the respiratory illness from China.

Binay said she filed Senate Resolution 293 which aims to determine appropriate measures and necessary funding requirements to ensure quick government response to address possible outbreaks.

“Preemptive measures will always the better option. Kailangan natin paghandaan na dahil actionable ang impormasyong hawak ng DOH. We must act immediately to monitor reports of the disease or sightings, and abate the possibility of an outbreak,” she said in a statement.

“Mabuting maging handa, hindi lamang ang DOH at ang pambansang pamahalaan, kundi pati na rin ang mga local na pamahalaan hanggang sa lebel ng barangay,” she added.

The DOH earlier advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with an infected person, and to thoroughly cook food, especially those containing meat and dairy products.   

DOE urged to create body to monitor new round of fuel tax hikes

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to create a task force that will closely monitor the implementation of the new round of increases in excise tax on fuel.

Gatchalian made the call as the third and last tranche of tax hikes on petroleum products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law took effect on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

He said that under the TRAIN Law, the estimated rate impact on pump price for unleaded premium gasoline would be around ₱1.01 per liter, while the estimated rate impact of the third tranche of the excise tax on diesel price is ₱1.65 per liter.

For 100 percent coal contracted power distribution utilities, the estimated rate impact is around ₱0.03 per kilowatt hour.

The senator said the creation of the task force is aimed to protect consumers from premature price increases and profiteering.

“Kailangan paigtinging mabuti ng Department of Energy (DOE) ang pagbabantay laban sa hoarding at profiteering sa bansa ngayong nakaamba ang dagdag na excise tax sa huling pagkakataon,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Huwag na nating hayaan ang ilang mapagsamantalang retailers na ibenta sa mataas na halaga ang kanilang mga lumang imbentaryong produkto, gayong nabili nila ito bago pa man maimplementa ang third tranche ng excise tax sa fuel,” he added.

Gatchalian noted that local oil companies maintain a minimum inventory equivalent to 15-day supply of petroleum products as provided under DOE’s Department Circular No. 2003-01-001 or the Implementing Guidelines for the Minimum Inventory Requirements of Petroleum of Oil Companies and Bulk Suppliers.

The DOE earlier said the new round of fuel tax hikes are only applicable to new stocks imported beginning January 1, 2020. It also advised oil firms to deplete old stocks before implementing new price schemes reflecting the new levies.

Gatchalian also called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor the prices of goods in the market in order to ensure that unscrupulous businessmen will not take advantage and pass on the impact of higher oil prices to consumers as a result of the third tranche of the TRAIN law implementation.

“Mabigat na sa bulsa ng bawat isa ang pagpataw ng excise tax sa krudo. Sana naman ay huwag na natin dagdagan ang pasanin ng taong bayan sa pamamagitan ng hindi makatarungang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin,” he said.

Fireworks-related injuries prompt renewed calls for ban

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020

Medical personnel at East Ave Medical Center, Quezon City checks 11-year-old Justin Villafando, who was hit by a firecracker PVI/ Paul Junel aquino

MANILA, Philippines – Some lawmakers have renewed their calls to ban the sale and use of firecrackers in the country in support of the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to have zero injuries in the future.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said a firecracker ban will accelerate the decline in New Year celebration-related injuries and air pollution levels.

“Bagama’t naging bahagi na ng ating tradisyon ang pagpapaputok tuwing Bagong Taon, walang saysay ang pagpapanatili sa mga ito kung nalalagay naman sa panganib ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga kabataan,” Gatchalian said.

The DOH on Wednesday reported at least 164 individuals sustained injuries related to fireworks since December 21, 2019 until the New Year festivities on January 1, 2020.

This figure is lower by 87 cases from the previous year’s record of 251.

Data from the DOH also revealed that the National Capital Region has recorded the most number of cases with 84, followed by CALABARZON with 13 cases.

Most of the victims were male between the ages of one and 71 years old. They sustained blasts and burns, which totaled 71 cases reported. This was followed by eye injuries with 26 cases.

Most of the injuries were due to kwitis, luces, fountain, piccolo, and baby rocket.

The DOH noted that legal firecrackers caused 69 percent of all injuries.

The agency earlier stressed that all firecrackers and fireworks, including the legal ones, can cause injuries. Banning the sale and use of these firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices can help achieve the target of zero casualty.

“Sa pagbubukas ng bagong taon, lagi nating hinihiling ang maayos na kalusugan para sa atin at sa ating mga pamilya pero paglabas ng ating mga bahay ang sumasalubong sa atin madalas ay makapal na usok. Maliban sa mga sugat, ang pangmatagalang epekto ng mga paputok ay ang iba’t ibang malubhang sakit na dulot ng maruming hangin,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian has filed in July 2019 Senate bill 724 or an act banning the sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, which in effect repeals inconsistent provisions in RA 7183, an act regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers.

Under the proposed measure, entities who want to have fireworks displays need to secure a special permit from the Philippine National Police Fireworks and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO). Upon presentation of the permit, the LGU will designate an area where the fireworks display will be held.

The bill also requires technically-equipped professionals to handle the fireworks.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also filed Senate Bill 493 or the Firecrackers Ban Act, seeking to institutionalize President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order no. 28.

The EO, which was issued in 2017, orders the limited use of firecrackers to community fireworks display as well as stricter regulation of all uncontrolled and unregulated firecrackers and similar devices.

Sotto’s bill seeks to prohibit the unsupervised use of firecrackers regardless of the occasion. It also wants to require those who want to use fireworks in designated areas to secure permits from local government units.

The bills on firecracker ban are still pending on committee level.

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