Senate welcomes UP-DND dialogue on 1989 accord

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021   •   591

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has adopted a resolution welcoming the decision of the Department of National Defense (DND) to seek a dialogue with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the termination of their 1989 accord, which bars the entry of state troops in UP campuses without prior coordination.

The Senate on Tuesday adopted Resolution No. 616 which urges both parties “to revisit the accord and to further urge the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.”

“Academic freedom which includes the freedom to think, speak, move and even dissent critically, is a freedom that everyone is entitled to; a freedom that UP allowed its students, activists or not, and a freedom that everyone must enjoy,” Senator Francis Pangilinan, author of the measure, said in a speech prior to the resolution’s adoption.

“We hope this resolution will inspire an open and transparent, as well as participatory and inclusive dialogue among all parties,” he added.

Senators physically and virtually present during the plenary session voted for the adoption of the measure except for Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa who abstained because he said he supports the abrogation of the 1989 agreement between UP and DND.

The DND earlier cited supposed information on the “clandestine recruitment” of students by communist organizations in its decision to unilaterally terminate the agreement with UP.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was open to a dialogue with UP administrations but its officials should explain the presence and deaths of some of its students in military encounters with rebels.

UP, UST place lower in QS world university rankings

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

The University of the Philippines (UP) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) have landed in lower ranks of the 2022 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

Based on the 2022 QS World University Rankings released on Wednesday (June 9), UP dropped to the 399th spot from ranking 396 while UST slid to 1,001-1,200 bracket from the 801-1,000 group. Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University remained in the 601-650 and 801-1,000 brackets, respectively.

Ranking at the top spot are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Standford University, and Harvard University. AAC

12 stray dogs trained to help in search and rescue operations

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — To become the best doggos, 12 stray dogs are being trained by the University of the Philippines under its K9 program.

Meet several of the soon-to-be rescue dogs: Red Fox, Nano, and Kotton.

According to professor Khrysta Rara, project manager of Sagip K9, these dogs are trained to assist in search and rescue operations.

“Kapag may nangyari, in minutes pwede sila ma-deploy pwede sila kaagad pumunta doon sa lugar na mayroong nawawalang tao at maka-start na sila ng search while waiting for help from outside so iyon ang maganda na mayroon kaming sariling K9 unit dito sa UP campus,” she said.

(In case of emergency, these dogs can be deployed and they can immediately go to the area and begin the search while waiting for help from the outside. We have our own K9 unit here in the UP campus.)

Training usually lasts for four months before the dogs will have their graduation. Aside from the emergency response and rescue operations, the dogs are also trained to provide emergency response which is crucial during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Sila naman ang pinupuntahan ng mga estudyante mga guro at mga empleyado mga staff kapag stress sila sa trabaho. May alam ako sa isang building na kapag ang mga empleyado stressed na stressed sa trabaho lalabas sila ng 10-20 minutes sa opisina pupuntahan nila ito sila Kotton, or ang ibang aso para yakapin lang matanggal stress nila tapos babalik na ulit sa trabaho,” Rara said.

(Students, teachers, and staff visit these dogs when they are stressed. I know there are employees in one building who visit Kotton and the rest when they are really stressed at work. They would hug the dogs then return to work.) AAC (with reports from Marvin Calas)

Senate approves POGO tax bill on third, final reading

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 3, 2021

With votes of 17-3-0, the Senate has approved the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGO Tax Bill on the third and final reading.

Senate Bill No. 223 which President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent seeks to impose additional taxes on POGO.

The Gross Gaming Revenue or receipts from POGO’s gaming operation will have 5% tax. The gross income of all alien employees of offshore gaming licensees and service providers will also be imposed with 25% withholding tax.

According to Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and sponsor of the bill, an estimate of P28.7 billion worth of taxes will be collected in 2021 once it becomes a law. Meanwhile, an estimate of P32 billion will be collected in 2022.

However, several Senators do not agree in approving the said bill. Senator Risa Hontiveros said online gambling should not be the main source of income for foreigners in the country. She also reported crimes and syndicates where several POGO employees are involved.

“I think it is important for this chamber, Mr. President, to take a stronger position against online gambling and the illicit activity it has brought to our shores,” she said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also agreed with Hontiveros.

“Indeed, whatever amount the BIR collects from POGOs may be used to fund projects to give relief to our people’s suffering during this pandemic. However, we cannot and should not turn a blind eye to the social costs that the POGO industry brings and has brought upon us,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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