Monday, September 22, 2014

Senate commends journalists, graduates, provincial government and design team

The Senate today approved four resolutions commending journalists, graduates, provincial government and a design team for their respective contributions to the country.

Senator Loren Legarda sponsored Senate Resolution No. 644, honoring and commending Angelo Castro, Jr. and Harry Gasser, veteran Filipino broadcast journalists, who have contributed in “elevating the standards of Philippine broadcast media.”

Castro and Gasser, who had both passed away, were known as news anchors of The World Tonight and RPN 9’s NewsWatch respectively.

“Throughout the lives of Angelo Castro, Jr. and Harry Gasser, they both stood for sincerity, impeccable work ethics, perseverance, balance and truth in broadcast media,” Legarda said.

Legarda also sponsored a resolution congratulating and commending the graduates of Escuela Taller de Intramuros for showcasing their skills in projects reviving the historic quarters of Intramuros, restoration of colonial churches and bridges and other heritage restoration projects.

Escuela Taller de Intramuros was founded in 2009 through the collaboration of the Spanish Embassy in Manila, Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Intramuros Administration (IA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the City of Manila to offer free training to indigent young men and women on 18th century and 19th century construction techniques.

“The graduates of Escuela Taller de Intramuros who have risen above poverty, domestic abuse, and a seemingly hopeless future have now become skilled individuals who not only restore and create items of value but are actually guardians of Philippine heritage,” Legarda said.

Another resolution sponsored by Legarda commended the provincial government of Davao Oriental, Protected Area Management Board and the local community in their collaborative efforts conserving Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary for being included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee’s World Heritage Sites list.

Located along the southeastern part of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary showcases terrestrial and aquatic habitats which include the Philippine Eagle and Philippine Cockatoo. Specifically, it hosts five endangered species, 27 rare species, 44 endemic species and 59 economically important species.

“The high level of endemicity of its habitat is significant for putting the Philippines in 7th place among the 17 biologically rich countries in the world. The Philippines commits to the international community its strong support for the conservation of its rich flora and fauna. This recognition highlights the need to safeguard the biodiversity and natural heritage of the wildlife sanctuary and its surrounding watershed areas and forests,” Legarda said.

Meanwhile, Senator Teofisto Guingona III sponsored Senate Resolution No. 879 commending the Butterfly House Project Team composed of businessman and inventor Rogelio Santos, Jr., designer Budji Layug and architect Royal Pineda for initiating a design-led approach to providing “affordable, habitable, durable and convenient emergency shelters for displaced families, in lieu of the traditional tents and bunk houses.”

Santos, Layug and Pineda teamed up to design a solution to the loss of homes caused by man-made and natural calamities such as Typhoon Yolanda through the Butterfly House which is an “innovative, steel-framed housing structure that can be folded for compact shipping and storage, and unfolded into an immediately livable structure.”

In the resolution, Guingona commended the team for “designing ultimately for social innovation, and proving once again the innate ingenuity and resourcefulness of Filipinos in addressing socio-economic problems.”

“The government, through a national design policy, should support good designs such as this Butterfly House Project, by creating an environment that values and utilizes design as a problem-solving mechanism and by considering Butterfly Houses as a better alternative to tents or bunk houses,” Guingona said. (Apple Buenaventura)

Senate approves creation of Quezon City Development Authority

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill creating the Quezon City Development Authority (QCDA) which will be mandated to promote investments and generate employment opportunities in the city.

Senate Bill No. 2161, introduced by Deputy Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, and sponsored by Sen. Joseph “JV” Ejercito, would address Quezon City’s housing and urban development concerns through the creation of the QCDA, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). The measure was co-sponsored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto.  

According to Sotto, one of the tasks of QCDA will be “to provide adequate and affordable housing to marginalized and low-income families in Quezon City.”

To encourage the participation of the private sector, he said, the QCDA will promote and develop vacant, blighted and under-utilized lands owned by the local government of Quezon City; develop resettlement sites, and enter into joint ventures and partnerships to pursue QCDA’s primary objective of urban renewal.

“We must always look for ways to uplift the way of life of the people. The QCDA gives the local government the chance to provide projects aimed at improving the quality of life of the people of Quezon City, such as providing them affordable transportation, energy, access to telecommunications and information,” Sotto said.

The measure, which provides the QCDA with an authorized capital stock of P2 billion, also provides that all the powers and functions of the QCDA will be in accordance with established urban development and housing plans prepared by the QC government.

With the creation of the QCDA, the QC Housing and Urban Renewal Authority (HURA), a corporation owned by the city government mandated to provide low-cost dwelling units for the city’s informal settlers and low-income government employees will be dissolved, Sotto said. (Yvonne Almiranez)

Automatic insurance coverage for senior citizens hurdles Senate

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill providing mandatory insurance coverage to Filipinos 60 years and above regardless of their social or economic status.

Senate Bill 712, introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and sponsored by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, seeks to provide automatic Philippine Health Insurance coverage to all senior citizens.

Currently, only indigent senior citizens are entitled to PhilHealth coverage under Republic Act (RA) 7432, as amended by RA 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

“As of June of this year, PhilHealth has covered 3.9 million senior citizens as lifetime members, dependents, sponsored or indigents,” Guingona said in this sponsorship speech.

However, Guingona said that around 2.16 million senior citizens have yet to get health insurance coverage.

“The government will need about P5.2 billion annually to provide the remaining 2.16 million citizens with insurance. But this amount is small when we compare to the hope we would give to our grandparents. This is a small price to pay for the promise of universal health care we have promise our citizens,” Guingona said.

“The way we treat our aging citizens, and how we spare them from the misery brought by lack of access to health services, is reflective of a nation’s collective character” he added.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that the health-related measure “will advance the health of millions of Filipinos, and will uphold their right towards effective and easily attainable medical services.” 
"I share the belief that the country's elderly population must be provided with accessible and sufficient health care that will help them in their twilight years, and we can attain it by enrolling every senior citizen in Philhealth," Drilon said.
For his part, Recto said that PhilHealth coverage should be automatic and not optional for senior citizens.

According to Recto, PhilHealth, which has P116 billion in reserves and P62 billion in income as of December 31, 2013, can more than afford to provide insurance to the country’s elderly citizens.

“Only six in every 100 Filipinos today are 60 years old and above. Many of these six million “dual citizens” are already under the PhilHealth umbrella through various schemes. But there are many who fall between the cracks and this bill seeks to shut close the gaps,” Recto said.

Recto said the national government has been providing funds to PhilHealth to enroll sponsored members. He said the national government provided P12.6 billion for sponsored members in 2013, P35.34 billion for 2014 and an estimated P37.06 billion for 2015.

“Let me remind you that insuring our elderly should not be viewed as a revenue loss. Rather, it should be viewed as a productive expenditure and debt paid to those who gave the best years of their lives so ours will be better,” he said.

“”They are our senior citizens and it is time that we paid them back. They have invested in our future and they are entitled to dividends. This bill settles but a small portion of what we owe them. No obligation is more outstanding,” he added.

Once the measure is enacted into law, Recto said, senior citizens need not present a PhilHealth card to avail of its benefits. He said senior citizens need only to present a valid ID to be provided with health care. (Pilar Macrohon)

PIA, DENR hold first Eco-Art Olympics in Tarlac

TARLAC CITY-The provincial offices of Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently held its first Eco-Art Olympics in Tarlac in a bid to make the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation advocacy closer to the youth.
PIA Tarlac manager Lorie Gene Cruz said the competition was designed to incorporate creativity and innovation in the course of strengthening environmental awareness among youngsters.
“This initiative is a trendsetter in our campaign on climate change adaptation and mitigation. Through this, we are not just able to discover budding potentials of students, but we are able to recognize modern heroes as companions in nation building and environmental stewardship,” Cruz added.
The contest has two categories: poster making and photography with students from Tarlac State University (TSU) as the initial contestants.
Among those who made the final cut in the TSU leg of the poster making were Jemimah Keren Galeon, Angelica Querido, Jhon Martin Dangcinan, Jayreen Ronquillo, Carl Jhiron Salcedo, Lawrence Ahl Sembrano, Maricar del Rosario, Philip Ermitanio, Bryan Gelacio, and Jinky Castillo.
Moreover, winners in the photography category were Peter Paul Pamintuan, Christine Marielle Arcilla, Yvonne Krizel Español, Jhosua Soren dela Cruz, Joan Marie Lactao, Fatima Banafra, Daiserie Llaneza, Kevin Rey Santos, and Alexis Callao.
Their works are presently on display in an exhibit in the main campus of TSU.

Legarda Urges Filipinos to be Part of Biodiversity Conservation

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call to Filipinos to get involved in efforts towards biodiversity conservation, noting that despite the abundance in natural resources, many Filipinos remain poor and hungry.

Legarda made the statement as the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) presented today the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP), which is the country’s roadmap to conserve its biodiversity.

“The Philippines is one of the megadiverse countries and has one of the highest rates of discovery of new species in the world. But in the midst of bountiful resources, millions of the world’s humanity remain hungry. There were 3.6 million hungry Filipino families in the second quarter of 2014 according to the SWS survey and many coastal residents, who should have access to marine resources, are among the poorest citizens,” she explained.

The Senator said that the PBSAP was crafted by Philippine government agencies led by the DENR and in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the aim of restoring and rehabilitating the country’s biodiversity by the year 2027.

Furthermore, the PBSAP is anchored on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), which means that the pursuit of economic growth while protecting the environment is the way forward.

Legarda said that in order to be effective, the PBSAP should be supported by citizens through their active involvement in biodiversity conservation.

“We are all consumers and we contribute to the decline of the world’s resources because of our insatiable demand for new things. The rate of extraction and consumption is way faster than the rate at which the Earth can replenish its resources.The solution begins with us,” she stressed.

“The PBSAP highlights that people should be at the core of conservation, protection and rehabilitation, and developmental initiatives. The first step towards building a sustainable community, one that respects biodiversity, is to correct one of the biggest misconceptions about the environment—that natural resources are infinite. We all need to stop craving for and taking more than what we need,” said Legarda.

She added that local government units and their respective communities should work together towards the protection of natural resources, and green jobs and green skills should be further promoted to contribute to environmental protection.

“In the Senate we also have proposed measures aimed at strengthening climate adaptation mechanisms and conserving biodiversity, including the Integrated Coastal Management Act and the National Land Use Act. All these measures and programs are part of the solution, but the most important step is for every Filipino to renew their commitment to preserving what remains of our natural resources by taking action today,” Legarda concluded.


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