Sunday, November 30, 2014

DOH CL beefs up preparations vs Ebola Virus

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-The Department of Health (DOH) Central Luzon continues to intensify its preparations against the threat of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
In a recent media conference, DOH 3 Regional Epidemiologist Jessie Fantone said that although the country remains free from Ebola, the agency started preparing its manpower and facilities in the entire region in the event the disease enters the country.
“So far, we have readied the facilities of our three regional hospitals to admit, observe and treat cases of EVD in the event that the virus enters the Philippines, specifically Central Luzon. These hospitals which include Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Nueva Ecija, Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital in Pampanga, and Bataan General Hospital are identified to accommodate transfer of cases in the region,” Fantone announced.
He likewise said that DOH 3 received 100 sets of Personal Protective Equipment, which were distributed to the regional hospitals for the use of their frontline medical workers who will attend to cases of EVD.
“We are also set to undergo training on the use of these PPEs as well as on the proper handling of Ebola cases in the next weeks. Hopefully, we can echo this training to all infection control nurses to equip them with the skills needed in the treatment of said disease,” the regional epidemiologist said.
In addition, the Health Department, through its Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) is closely monitoring the passengers arriving via Clark International Airport to prevent the entry of the disease in the region.
“The BOQ is doing contact tracing of the passengers in order to ensure that they are not infected with the virus or that they have not come into contact with persons suspected of having EVD,” Fantone said.
Aside from this, DOH also intensifies its advocacy on the grassroots level so that even ordinary people have the knowledge on the symptoms of the disease and what to do in case these symptoms manifest.
Symptoms of the Ebola virus are sudden onset of headache, muscle pain, fever fatigue and sore throat.
Usually, it is followed by rash diarrhea, vomiting and even internal and external bleeding. (Marie Joy L. Simpao)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Legarda Hails EO on Climate Change

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the President’s move to task the various agencies of government to work together towards addressing climate change and building the country’s resilience.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, expressed her support to President Benigno Aquino III’s Executive Order No. 174, which institutionalizes a greenhouse gas inventory management and reporting system, and tasks the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to lead the formulation of climate change adaptation and mitigation policies and strategies.

“As a nation that is among the most vulnerable to disasters and climate change, this Executive Order gives us the assurance that the government is serious in addressing climate change. This serves as a marching order not only to the agencies of government, but even to the local government units, private sector and citizens to do their part in building a climate-resilient nation,” she explained.

Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said that convergence among government agencies is crucial to make the system work.

Under the EO, the CCC will provide the direction in accounting and reporting greenhouse gas emissions; develop a system for archiving, reporting and evaluating inventories; and facilitate continuous capacity-building initiatives.

Meanwhile, other agencies of government, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Transportation and Communications, must ensure that the respective sectors they oversee are heading towards a climate-resilient and sustainable pathway.

“Climate change affects every aspect of our life. It threatens our basic human rights – food, potable water, shelter, decent livelihood and life itself. In order to effectively mitigate and adapt to it requires the convergence of government agencies and all sectors. We must also ensure that all our environmental laws, including the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, the Climate Change Act, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and the People’s Survival Fund Act, are faithfully implemented down to the local level,” Legarda concluded.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Legarda: Tausug Weavers to Showcase their Craft at National Museum

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda invites citizens to a weaving demonstration by Tausugs from Sulu at the National Museum on November 29-30, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Legarda, patron of the country’s first permanent textile gallery, Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, said that Tausugs from Lagasan, Parang, Sulu will demonstrate how to weave the pis siyabit.

“I invite Filipinos to visit the Hibla gallery to witness how Tausugs weave intricate patterns to form the pis siyabit, the traditional headdress of the Tausug men. Through this demonstration, we can better appreciate not only the effort and skill of the weavers but also our culture and heritage,” she said.

The weekly weaving demonstrations at the Hibla gallery are part of the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which Legarda, in partnership with the National Museum, initiated since 2012 to perpetuate weaving and indigenous knowledge.

Previous demonstrators include the Ifugao weavers from Kiangan; the Kalinga weavers from Mabilong Weaving Center of Buscalan; weavers from Samoki, Mountain Province;sinamay weavers from Arevalo, Iloilo; the Panay Bukidnons who showed their panubokembroidery; patadyong weavers from the Bagtason Loom Weavers Association in Bugasong, Antique; weavers from the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City; Mandaya weavers from Caraga, Davao Oriental; and T’boli weavers from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

The weaving demonstrations can be viewed on Saturdays and Sundays, at the Hibla gallery, located at the 4th Floor of the Museum of the Filipino People, Finance Road, Manila.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Legarda Lauds Bayanihan sa Daan Project

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today lauded the team behind the Bayanihan sa Daan Awardsfor taking initiatives to promote ways to reduce traffic and improve the country’s public transportation system.

Legarda expressed her support to promoting a multi-modal system of movement and transportation during the launch of the Bayanihan sa Daan Awards at the Kalayaan Hall, Malacanang Palace.

Bayanihan sa Daan recognizes leaders and ordinary citizens who have been going the extra mile to effect positive change, particularly in thinking of ways to decongest road traffic.

“The horrendous traffic that we all experience, especially in Metro Manila, is costly, time-consuming and unsafe. This kind of traffic situation veers away from our goal of resilient and sustainable development as it contributes not only to climate change but also to an unhealthy and unsafe environment for our people,” she stressed.

Legarda said that the longer a motorized vehicle stays on the road, the more it contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the transport sector contributed 27% of the GHG emissions worldwide in 2010 and this could double by 2050.

Meanwhile, an ADB study showed that transport sector emissions accounted for 30% of air pollution in the Philippines and in Metro Manila, about 80%.

“As part of my advocacy to promote resilience and climate change mitigation, I have been promoting the shift to a low-carbon lifestyle. Rethinking our mode of transportation is one of the crucial steps towards this initiative. We need to promote mass rail, human-powered transport and pedestrianization.  We should start venturing into transport electrification and energy efficiency,” said Legarda.

The Senator commended the Bayanihan sa Daan Team, led by Atty. Antonio Oposa, Jr., for promoting a paradigm shift from the motor vehicle-based transportation system to a multi-modal system, wherein people are not dependent on their own motorized vehicles every time they go out, instead, they can choose different modes of transportation depending on their needs—walking or biking for short distances, and safe, reliable, inexpensive and convenient public transportation system for long distance trips.

She added that many highly-urbanized and great cities in the world, including London, Melbourne, Seattle, are actually walkable.

“It is not easy to promote an idea that for many is too idealistic, but with the right agenda, strong will to effect change, persistence and an effective information and education campaign, we will be successful, I hope sooner than later. With the concept of Bayanihan we may just be able to capture the interest and the heart of Filipinos to support this initiative,” Legarda concluded.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Education sector gets biggest share in Senate approved P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget

MANILA-Voting 13-0 with zero abstention, the Senate today approved the P2.606 trillion proposed national budget for 2015.

          The Department of Education (DepEd) got the largest share of the budget pie with P323.56 billion followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with 292.57 billion, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with P109.34 billion, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with P104.57 billion and the Department of National Defense (DND) with P99.92  billion.

          Senator Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said the Senate increased DepEd’s budget by P3.636 billion, representing allocations for feeding programs, the Quick Response Fund and chalk allowance.

          Senate President Franklin M. Drilon explained that the hike in the funds for the education sector is part of the Senate’s on third reading goal to improve the delivery of educational services in the country. “The youth are the most important asset our country has to nurture, and part of it is by giving education the highest priority in the budget," he said.

In September, the upper chamber had passed a package of inclusive education bills geared towards the poor, including bills on open and distance learning, and the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act.” In turn, Drilon said that the greater budget in 2015 will help government address pressing challenges to the educational sector, the need for new classrooms, including the repair of facilities damaged by previous calamities.

For his part, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto introduced the amendment for the chalk allowance, increasing it to P1,500 next from the present P1,000. “Chalk allowance” is the popular term for the amount given to teachers at the start of the school year for the purchase of “chalk, pens, erasers, cartolinas and other school supplies” they use in teaching.

          Escudero said the Senate’s version of the 2015 national budget had also addressed the concerns raised by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago in her privilege speech last November 24.

          “The concerns she (Santiago) had, we addressed them in the Senate version. We had improved the other points she raised,” Escudero said in an interview.

          He said the Senate’s version of the 2015 national budget had followed the Supreme Court’s decision on what was allowed or disallowed in the national budget to a dot.

To ensure transparency, Escudero said, the Senate had included a provision in the 2015 General Appropriation Act (GAA) that would prohibit government agencies to use “lump sum funds” without submitting a report or itemized listing to Congress and the Commission on Audit.

He said heads of government agencies will be penalized if they violated the provisions.

“We provided a penalty of six months suspension or imprisonment of one year or a fine equivalent to six-month salary if they fail to submit the report,” Escudero said during an interview.

          While the Senate had realigned P96.58 billion of the proposed 2015 national budget, Escudero said, senators were very transparent on where the money was reallocated.

For instance, he said, the Senate allocated P19 billion for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program to cover past disasters, including Super Typhoons Yolanda, Glenda and Mario.

          He said the Senate had also realigned P2.67 billion under the Information and Communications Technology Office for the implementation of free wi-fi internet in public places. The budget will be sourced from the Digitization Empowerment Program.

          The Department of Science and Technology will set up 50,872 wi-fi hotspots next year, including 7,910 public high schools, 38,694 public elementary schools, 113 state colleges and 1,118 public libraries and public areas in 1,490 towns.

          “We have restored the House cut on the DPWH amounting to P242.6 million under the MFO3 or the “Maintenance and Construction Services of Other Infrastructures” and P1.318 billion under MFO1 under the “National Road Network Services.” In addition, an increase of P1.130 billion will be provided for the Quick Response Fund of the DPWH to bring it to P2 billion,” Escudero said.

          Likewise, he said, the Senate had also increased the Quick Response Fund of the Department of Health by P500 million.

At the same time, he said the Senate had increased the Supreme Court’s budget by P715.36 million for the Enterprise Information System Plan or the IT for e-courts and reallocated and restored P1 billion of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, particularly for hospital modernization, to be sourced from their budget for Land Acquisition pending the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) opinion on the land swap transaction between the DOJ and the National Housing Authority (NHA).

          Other highlights of the Senate version of the 2015 national budget include:

    Increase of P421.5 million for the Bureau of Customs for Workplace Modernization and various equipment to counter the perennial problem of smuggling;
    Additional budget of P362.472 million for the Department of National Defense as buildings outlay for the National Defense College of the Philippines as well as for Force Sustainment or Enhancement of the various Engineering Brigades of the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy;
    Increase of P300 million for the modernization program and faculty development of the Philippine Normal University;
    Increase of P108.907 million for Jail Facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to be sourced from the cut in Monitoring and Evaluation Cost of PAMANA and the Grassroots Participatory Program of the DILG-OSEC;
    Realignment of P2.915 billion in the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, specifically from the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program and the KALAHI-CIDSS projects to Social Pension for Indigent Senior citizens which will benefit 460,647 senior citizens at a total cost of P2.770 billion in line with Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010; additional funding of P50 million will also be provided for the Comprehensive Project for Street Children, Street Families and Indigenous Peoples-especially Badjaos, as well as an additional P95 billion for protective services for individual and families in difficult circumstances;
    Increase of P15 million for the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos for the Hajj Travel Assistance and Endowment Administration Services.

Escudero said the Senate provided a special provision which would allow the fund for athletes shall be used solely for the benefit of the athletes and that it cannot be realigned for any other purposes.

He said the Senate had also provided for a special provision under the DPWH for the construction of projects that might impinged on heritage sites requiring consultations with all stakeholders concerned.

          “We also provided a provision in so far as the National Museum, National Historical Institute and National Commission for Culture and Arts, allowing such agencies to use its income to maintain the existing heritage sites and their facilities,” Escudero said, adding:

          “We also added a special provision mandating the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to pay its obligations in accordance with the contracts it entered into and a provision in so far as DOH, DPWH, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and DepEd are concerned, providing for the utilization of their Quick Response Fund to procure insurance policies in accordance with the Government System Insurance Service (GSIS) laws as well as the procurement law to cover infrastructure facilities and other equipment in danger zones and other areas as they may deem feasible.”

Senate okays P82k hike for tax exemption of bonuses

MANILA- Employees from both the private and public sector can expect a bigger take home-pay soon, with the Senate’s approval of a bill seeking to raise the tax exemption ceiling of 13th-month pay and other benefits from P30,000 to P82,000.

            Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, co-author and sponsor of Senate Bill 2437, says that once the bill is enacted into law, employees receiving 13th-month pay and other benefits, including Christmas bonuses and productivity bonuses, not exceeding P82,000 will be exempted from tax.

The original bill pegged the ceiling for tax-exempt bonuses at P75,000 but was raised to P82,000 upon the proposal of Senator Ralph Recto during plenary deliberations. Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said he accepted Recto’s amendments because his proposal was the “same figure given by internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Hernares during eone of the hearings on SB 2437.

            “She (Henares) said that P30,000 in 1994 would be worth around P82,000 today,” Angara said.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon concurred with the hike, saying that the bill’s passage is necessary "to provide relief to state and private workers whose purchasing power has been shrinking for years due to inflation, but still have had to deal with the consequences of an outdated law."

            When the P30,000 tax ceiling was first legislated in 1994, Angara explained, the basic salary of a government employee in the lowest rung was P3,800 a month while that of the President was P25,000. The ceiling, he noted, had not been adjusted in 20 years although Congress had legislated other measures to soften the impact of inflation on the workers.

            More importantly, Angara said, SB 2437 had included a provision “that the adjustment be made mandatorily every three years to coincide with major surveys conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority such as the Family and Income Expenditure Survey.”

            Recto, principal author of the bill, said the peso had lost two-thirds of its value over the past 20 years. The equivalent of one peso in 1994, he said, was worth 36 centavos today. Recto was Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority in 2008.

“When the 17-year-old Bam Aquino sipped his first beer in 1994, Pale Pilsen cost P8.50 a bottle. Of course, Sen. Sonny Angara, on vacation from his London studies then – or I am told that he graduated in 1994 – and if he were to borrow one of his dad’s cars, he would have paid P8.50 for a liter of gasoline,” Recto said in his co-sponsorship speech.

While some experts estimated that government would lose around P42 billion in taxes with the enactment of SB 2437 into law, Recto argued that there was no basis for the computation.

A more reasonable computation of tax loss, he said, was estimated by the Philippine Institute for Development Students at P2.6 billion and Dr. Stella Quimbo of the University of the Philippine School of Economics at P5.6 billion.

“But whatever is the revenue loss for the government is actually income gained for the workingman. And even if his 13th month pay is tax exempt upon receipt, it will be taxable when spent,” Recto said, adding that taxes not withheld at source will later be captured in the form of sales tax at points of sales.

In response to concerns about the speedy implementation of the law, Drilon had also introduced an amendment to the bill stating that “the failure of the Secretary of Finance to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations shall not prevent the effectivity of the law.”.
“This is because it is up to the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to come up with the implementing rules and regulations when this law is passed, and they may not have enough time to accomplish that in time. But surely, the law will be fully implemented next year,” the Senate leader noted.

For his part, Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid Jr. then said that “increasing the cap of exemption on the 13th month pay and other benefits from income tax would increase the disposable income of the working class.”

This in turn, Lapid said in his co-sponsorship speech, would stimulate consumption.

“All reasons to increase the cap for the tax exemption on the 13th month and other benefits points to one thing: to enhance the welfare of the working class,” Lapid said.   (Pilar S. Macrohon)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Legarda Promotes Use of Baybayin

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda renewed her call for the promotion of Baybayin by using it in government logos, public signage and even in local product labels.

Legarda made the call in her message at the 4th Baybayin Festival Rizal, which was organized by Taklobo Baybayin Inc., Baybayin Buhayin, the Department of Education (DepEd) and Province of Rizal, last November 22, 2014 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo City.

“Marahil ngayon ay hindi na maunawaan ng karamihan ang kahalagahan ng Baybayin dahil sanay na tayo sa sistema ng pagsusulat na ating nakagisnan. Ngunit kapag binalikan natin ang ating kasaysayan, ang baybayin ang simbolo ng sibilisasyon ng mga sinaunang Pilipino, bago pa man tayo mapasailalim sa pamumuno ng mga dayuhan,” Legarda stated.

The event was attended by teachers and students from public and private elementary and high schools in the DepEd Division of Rizal and Antipolo.

Legarda also shared that she has filed measures in the Senate that aim to promote and preserve Baybayin.

Senate Bill No. 1899 mandates all government agencies, departments and offices to incorporate Baybayin in their official logos.

“All government agencies and offices must take the lead to further promote Filipino culture and traditions, strengthen Filipino identity, and instill the same in everyday life. The logos and seals of government agencies and offices should not only reflect the emblems of their functions and duties but also pride in Filipino heritage and traditions,” said Legarda.

Some of the government offices and agencies that have already incorporated Baybayin in their official logos include, the National Museum of the Philippines, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, the National Library, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Records Management and Archives Office, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Meanwhile, Senate Bill No. 2440 aims to declare Baybayin as the National Writing Script of the Philippines and mandates the NCCA to lead the promotion, protection, preservation and conservation of the Baybayin.

The measure also mandates local food manufacturers to inscribe Baybayin scripts and their translation on containers or labels; local government units (LGUs) to use Baybayin scripts in their signage for street names, public facilities, among others; and, newspaper and magazine publishers to include Baybayin translation of their official name.

Moreover, reading materials about Baybayin will be distributed to all public and private educational institutions and all government and private agencies and offices to instill awareness of the declaration of Baybayin as the national writing system.

Monday, November 24, 2014

PMA back in Tarlac

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City- The Philippine Military Academy ”Sinaglahi” Class 2015 with composed of  173 graduating cadets show-off their talents in a Silent Drill performance at the Tarlakeiǹo in Plazuela as part of their 3 day Community Development practicum. They were welcomed by the Honorable Vice Mayor Anne Belmonte representing the Honorable City Mayor Ace Manalang and the City Council of Tarlac City on 21 November 2014. 

After years of absence, the PMA Cadets are once again in Tarlac for an important activity include is part of the curriculum of the graduating cadets. In the mid 80’s, PMA Cadets are frequently seen in Tarlac due to the presence of a training facility in Camp Aquino for the Plebes. The plebes have their initial training in Camp Aquino before they were brought to Baguio, while second year Cadets or the Yearlings spend their summer training here in Camp Aquino and in Fort Magsaysay. However; due to some training related incidents, the training here in Tarlac was suspended. Since then, Cadet activities where confined in PMA and in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

The PMA Practicum aims to develop the cadets in Community Development which is one of the primary focus of Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan. This security plan was crafted not by the AFP alone but rather by the different sectors of the society that aims to resolve the insurgency problem by addressing the root causes.

The Silent Drill Exhibition in Plazuela was the culmination of the Community Immersion in Tarlac City. This was preceded by a photo and static display of military and disaster response capabilities participated  by 3RD Mechanized Battalion, Tactical Operations Group 3, Philippine Air Force, Naval Forces Northern Luzon, 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Forces and Light Reaction Battalion. Prior to that, the cadets conducted a Youth Leadership Seminar to the students of Balete High School in Camp Aquino. Representatives coming from the different government agencies presented their lectures on anti-drugs, Anti-Juvenile Delinquency and Leadership Training which prove to be timely and relevant topics to youth.

Over-all the experience is an eye opener for both the students and the cadets, the experience and the awareness of the issues will form integral foundation to shape them become better community leaders and AFP Officers in the future. 

Teacher's 'chalk allowance' to increase to P1,500 next year

MANILA-The annual “chalk allowance” of public school teachers will go up from the present P1,000 to P1,500 next year, courtesy of a Senate amendment in the 2015 national budget, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

“Chalk allowance “ is the popular term for the amount given to teachers at the start of the school year for the purchase of “chalk, pens, erasers, cartolinas and other school supplies” they use in teaching.

While the amount is far from the P3,000 chalk allowance per year that Recto is advocating in a bill he filed, “the P1,500 represents a 50% increase from the present level.”

“Let’s just view it as a down payment toward the ideal amount. I am sure there will be another increase next year.  Even if the increase is done by installments, it is better than no increase at all,” Recto said.

The senator praised Sen. Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate Finance committee, “for heeding the clamor of public school teachers and for sponsoring the amendment.”

“Although this amendment has bipartisan support, credit for this initiative should go to him,” Recto said.

The Senate Finance committee, which Recto is a vice chair, has recommended a P1.021 billion 2015 budget for “Teaching Supplies Allowance,” which is chalk allowance’s official expenditure name in the national budget.

Per a Department of Education computation, some 681,024 public kindergarten, elementary and high school teachers will receive this allowance next year.

In Senate Bill 713 (Teaching Supplies Allowance Act of 2013), Recto said the chalk allowance should be increased periodically to reflect the rise in the prices of school supplies and to cope with the changing nature of the latter.

“School supplies no longer pertain to traditional ink, chalk and paper. In this age of Powerpoint, then there are computer-related supplies which the teacher uses, and these must be considered in computing the supplies  the teacher needs,” he said.

“Kung tutuusin, maliit talaga ang  P150 a month para sa chalk allowance  kaya dapat dagdagan. Importante din ito.  Kung ang sundalo ay binibigyan ng bala, ang sa teacher naman ay chalk allowance.”

“Teaching supplies are an important ammo in the war versus illiteracy.” 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

PHL No. 1 in Asia in Gov’t Response vs. Human Trafficking Legarda Vows Continued Support to Anti-Trafficking Efforts

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said she will continue to support efforts to fight human trafficking as she lauded improved government performance in curbing the crime.

Legarda made the statement in reaction to the result of the 2014 Global Slavery Index that showed the Philippines is no. 1 in Asia, no. 3 in Asia-Pacific, and no. 29 worldwide out of 166 countries in terms of government response against human trafficking.

The report was released by Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based global human rights organization dedicated to ending modern day slavery.

“We are now seeing the benefits of an expanded anti-trafficking law and the strengthened efforts of law enforcement agencies to stop human trafficking. But we still have more work to do because the challenges are also getting tougher, especially with the emergence of cyber sex crimes,” said Legarda, principal sponsor of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (R.A. 10364).

The Senator said that the proliferation of cyber sex trafficking is alarming especially that there are cases wherein the perpetrators are the parents of the victims.

“These cases of cyber sex trafficking tell us that with advancements in the Internet, allowing communication to cross national borders in a matter of seconds, everything is now within reach. We need to strengthen cooperation and improve coordination with international police groups for continuous successful operations against cyber pornography,” Legarda said.

“I will continue to give my full support to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the full and effective implementation of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, as well as in carrying out a massive information and education campaign against all forms of human trafficking, including cyber pornography,” Legarda concluded.

On National Bicycle Day, Drilon urges bike lanes for roads

MANILA-As the country celebrates its first National Bicycle Day on November 23, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon reiterated his challenge for heads of local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to start making major roads friendlier to bikers and other travelers using environmentally-sound forms of transportation.  

The Senate leader made the statement as a coalition of private and public groups are spearheading the 1st National Bicycle Day, a nationwide event where cyclists from North and South Metro Manila, Pampanga, Iloilo and Davao will conduct simultaneous rides throughout major roads in their localities.

Expressing his solidarity with the Filipino biking community, Drilon said that the government must be more serious about promoting biking and non-motorized forms of mobility which he said “is a sound method of reducing traffic and air pollution.”

“I agree with every Filipino who has made biking their means of transport and hobby and that not only it promotes a healthier lifestyle, it can also provide some of the answers to our transportation and environmental woes,” he said. 

Drilon said that the government should not ignore biking as a potent way of bringing down the levels of air and noise pollution in metropolitan areas:  “Considering the benefits and rewards of biking, we should adopt it as part of our anti-pollution strategy.”

Drilon said that such a strategy is neither “impractical nor impossible,” noting that examples of bicycle-friendly road systems already exist in the country.

“This is the case for several road projects in Iloilo which I supported, such as the road-widening project along the 10-km Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue in Iloilo, which features a six-lane highway, a pedestrian lane and a 5-m paved bike lane that will extend from the Jaro District in Iloilo City to the Iloilo International Airport,” Drilon noted. 

Furthermore, the senator explained how a 14-km circumferential road connecting Arevalo District in Iloilo City and the coastal road in Dumangas town in Iloilo, "has been designed to include a 2-meter painted bike lane throughout its entire span." These initial bike lanes will  be looped and integrated into a comprehensive bike lane network system for the city in the near future.

“What is really necessary is the cooperation and commitment between local leaders and national agencies, along with strong grassroots support, to effect these type of environmental reforms,” Drilon said.

The Senate chief said he will support any legislation for integration of bike lanes into national roads “if legislative backing is really required for government to make such a system happen.”


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