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Pacquiao visits birthplace, reminisces  hard life

February 24, 2021

FOR the first time since  his family quietly left his birthplace in the rural town of Kibawe,  Bukidnon to try their luck in the city, Senator Manny Pacquiao has returned in a grand homecoming that allowed him to share not only the fruits of his success but his story of hardships  that molded him to greatness.   Kibawe municipal hall, Mayor Reynaldo "Jimboy Tebontu" S. Ang Rabanes said they invited Senator Pacquiao to Kibawe to give tribute not only for his extra-ordinary achievements in boxing but also for his unparalleled dedication to serve the people.   In a symbolic ceremony at the Kibawe municipal hall,  Rabanes turned over to  Pacquaio a copy of his birth certificate to show that he is truly a son of Kibawe.   Pacquiao  was only five years old when his family decided to leave Kibawe and move to General Santos City because of the constant skirmishes between government security forces and communist rebels.   Pacquiao's mom, Mommy Dionisia was originally from the town of Glan, Sarangani ( originally part of South Cotabato)  but after a tortous marriage, she  eloped with her second husband and went to Kibawe where he was born.   But with the constant fighting in the town that was once infested with insurgents, Senator Pacquaio's family struggled to make ends meet and survived on root crops. The hard life forced his family to move to General Santos City where Pacquaio continued to live a life of struggle and hardship.   Pacquiao said that his visit to Kibawe is a fitting reminder of his roots which was built and strengthened by his sheer determination to succeed.   " Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan itong lugar dahil dito ako namulat kung paano ang maging mahirap. Ang Kibawe na kinamulatan ko ay  napakahirap ang pamumuhay at pugad ito ng mga rebelde noon kaya  kailangan naming umalis at makipagsapalaran sa Gensan," Pacquiao related.   "Kahit madilim ang hinarap ng aming pamilya hindi ako nawalan ng pag- asa. Tulad ng marami sa ating mga kababayan dito sa Kibawe  ay araw -araw tayong lumalaban sa kahirapan at kalayaang makapamuhay kahit simple basta malayo sa takot at ligtas ang ating pamilya," he added.   After the symbolic ceremony and a brief meeting with local government officials,. Pacquaio went on to give away grocery packs and P1,000 cash gifts to poor residents.   In his speech, Pacquiao renewed his challenge to rich politicians to share their money to the poor. He said that if only rich officials would all pitch in to help the poor,  the number of impoverished Filipinos would be a lot lesser.   He said if given the chance, he would prioritize building a "mega prison" facility which would be intended for corrupt government officials.   "Sa puso ko gusto kong bigyan ng hustisya ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap mula sa mga kurap na politiko," Pacquiao said.   "Wala na akong kailangan. Di ko na kailangan ang kasikatan at kanya. God always provide. But i want to give justice to the poor. Kaya sa mga ganid na  politiko na walang ginawa kundi magnakaw sa gobyerno, may araw din kayo," he added.   Accompanying Pacquiao in his homecoming trip to Kibawe are Bukidnon Rep. Manuel Zubiri and other provincial government officials.

La Vina shuts down quarry operations in PHIVIDEC ESTATE

February 22, 2021

  In an offort to prolect the people living along the Tagoloan River, PHIVIDEC Admirnistrator Pompee La Viña ordered the shutdown of all illegal quarry operations within the Industrial Estate today, February 22, 2021.   Five quarries will be barred from continuing their operations within PHIVIDEC promises. Three of the quarry operators will be served a cease and desist order by Acting Security Chief Officer Col. Pedrito Daquipil (Ret.) upon La Viña's instruction. La Viña also ordered to restrict the access of all five quarry operators to PHIVIDEC roads going to the quarry   sites.   The plan to close the quarry operations is based on the conduct of a thorough intelligence work that La Viña ordered just weeks after he was   appointed PHIVIDEC Administrator by President Rodigo Duterte.   La Viña said that he is afraid of the possible consequence to the people when a landslide occurs during heavy rains due to increased erosion on the river bank caused by the quarry operations.   The problem dates back to the 1990's but was not resolved. This is why Administrator La Viña is taking direct action.   According to La Viña, PHIVIDEC could be blamed in the future if this problem is not directly addressed now.   La Viña wants to ensure that the lives of the people living along the coast, especially the poor, are not jeopardized and to avert a Sendong-like tragedy in Tagoloan.   When Typhoon Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro in 2011, the disaster claimed about 2,000 lives and caused billions-worth of economic damages.   Based on a 2019 survey, it was found out that PHIVIDEC has already lost 70 hectares of its 3,000-hectare from years of quarry operations in its area.   The sand along the banks of the river within the PHIVIDEC estate has been hugely depleted due to bank eroslon.   La Viña is deeply concerned that th e plants inside PHIVIDEC will be in danger if the quarry operations continue.   La Viña also raise an alarm on the destruction and the damages to the environment because of over-quarrying.   With this, La Viña urged local government units including the relevant the Provincial Government to cooperate in his desire to   agencies and protect the people against any kind of disaster such as flooding and cooperate in his desire to landslides, of disaster such as flooding and Under Presidential Decree No. 538, PHIVIDEC has the right to close the quarry, especially when the operation takes place right inside its property.   According to its Legal Department, PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority has the power to shut down the illegal quarry operations within the 3,000-hectare estate on the following grounds:   First, not a single operator has been issued a permit to operate by PHIVIDEC.   Second, the LGUs failed to obtain a Certificate of No Objection from PHIVIDEC before issuing permits.   Third, even if the permit issued is valid, the operator still violates the agreement stipulated such as quarrying beyond the 1-meter limit issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.   La Viña added that in any city, over-quarrying results to flooding.   Floods also exacerbated by uncollected garbage and clogged drainages. Floods also disrupt traffic flow and interrupt personal travel and business operations.  

Right information, science-based legislation, needed to accelerate end of cigarettes

February 21, 2021

Leaving cigarettes behind can be much faster if everyone plays a role, said a top-ranking Philip Morris International (PMI) executive.  This was the key message of Tommaso Di Giovanni, PMI’s vice president for global communications, during the 27th National Public Relations Congress held virtually by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP). He said the ambition of PMI, the parent company of PMFTC Inc., is to replace all cigarettes with better alternatives based on science as soon as possible. Di Giovanni said it’s no secret that smoking causes diseases and is addictive. Yet, the vast majority of smokers don’t quit.  It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that there will be the same number of smokers around the world in 2025. According to Di Giovanni, this is what prompted PMI to explore “creative solutions to the problem. We decided to think, is there anything that we can do to change our business and give all those smokers who would otherwise continue using cigarette a better alternative?” “We started working at products that do not burn and therefore generate significantly lower levels of harmful compounds. We call them heated tobacco.  And that has been our focus since then,” he said. Di Giovanni said more than 350 studies by PMI on these new products have been peer-reviewed, making PMI the fifth largest holder of patents filed with the European Patent office. “Today, 99 percent of our R& D expenditures and 76 percent of our commercial expenditures are behind this huge effort to transform an industry into something that is much better, and we hope that it would not only be our company but the whole industry and the whole world that are behind it,” he said. Having the capacity and the technology to do something different, and to do something that will benefit consumers, Di Giovanni said PMI invested over $8 billion in research and development, scientific substantiation and early manufacturing of alternatives to cigarettes. In 2015, PMI commercialized IQOS, a product that heats tobacco rather than burning it. Understanding Nicotine “The vast majority of people simply don't understand what causes disease with cigarettes. The vast majority of people still think it’s nicotine. It’s not the case,” Di Giovanni said. He said, the cause of diseases is found in harmful compounds that are in smoking, and that the vast majority of which are produced by burning tobacco. “So when you eliminate the burning we realize you can do something that's much better than cigarette,” he said. Citing the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the United Kingdom, DI Giovanni said nicotine is addictive but it’s not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases.  “Virtually all health authorities around the world say this. And it’s something that the vast majority of smokers don’t know. And if they don’t know it. They simply won’t understand the value of the new proposition,” he said. Despite the advancement in technology, however, Di Giovanni said major challenges remain, including the need to address the massive misinformation about nicotine, which the communications community can plays a big role.   “The biggest challenge is that the vast majority of people don't know and don't understand the value of those alternatives because they haven’t been informed,” he said, adding that many people still believe that it is the nicotine that causes diseases when people smoke. Di Giovanni also noted the need to update legislation. “Legislation takes time. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of laws around the category were built in the 80s and in the 90s when the technology and the science we have today simply did not exist,” he said.  He acknowledge that many governments are acting, but “it takes time.” He cited the United States as the first country to act and change these laws to ensure there’s a review of any claim made on tobacco products that are better choice for smokers. Di Giovanni said the US Food and Drug Administration last year authorized IQOS for commercialization with claims of modified exposure, “and they do it because they believe this can, it’s their words, promote public health in the country.” Currently, there are almost 18 million smokers worldwide who have switched to PMI’s heated tobacco products and about 25 percent of PMI’s revenues already come from these better alternatives to cigarettes today. “Today, our leading heated tobacco product IQOS is sold in 64 countries around the globe. Almost 18 million smokers use (IQOS), and 72 percent of them abandoned cigarette completely.  We’re now expanding the portfolio because we also know that smokers have different preferences,” he said. PMFTC Inc., an affiliate of PMI, opened its IQOS stores in Metro Manila in September 2020 in a bid to reduce smoking rate in the country. Di Giovanni said, however, that quitting smoking remains the best option.  “If you don't smoke, don't start.  If you smoke, quit. And if you don't quit, change. Because today, there are options that are much better choice for smokers.”

MinDA, Lanao Sur crafts agri-dev’t blueprint

February 20, 2021

DAVAO CITY - The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) launched Thursday (Feb. 18), the Lanao del Sur Integrated Program for Agricultural Development (LIPAD), which aims to turn one of the country's poorest provinces into a major agricultural production area. Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a public post on Friday, that the LIPAD Master Plan will identify the potentials and design programs to fully develop the province with fertile soil and two major inland bodies of water - the 34,000-hectare Lake Lanao and the 1,011-hectare Lake Dapao. Among the programs that will be undertaken as part of the LIPAD Master Plan crafting are the establishment of a digital database for the province's agriculture and fisheries sector, including the geo-tagging and satellite mapping of the production areas and strategic programs and interventions to protect the two major lakes, Lake Lanao and Lake Dapao. Also, Rice Industry Development Program focusing on the potential production areas, including the Basak Region, and establishing facilities for a complete value chain, Cattle Industry Development Program, especially in areas where forage is available and climate is ideal, given the huge demand for beef during special Muslim holidays like Eid' Adha and Eid'l Fit'r, and Small Ruminants Development Program, especially goat raising for dairy and meat because of the cultural practice of celebrating special family events like the birth in the family, which is celebrated with the slaughter of two goats. Sustainable tree farming, fruit tree farming, and Bamboo farming programs in areas around the lakes for agricultural production and environmental protection and duckery and fish farming in both lakes to increase family income are also included in the program. “During the launching yesterday, I assumed Gov. Adiong and the other Lanao del Sur officials of MinDA's commitment to assist in developing the potentials of Lanao del Sur and in erasing the stigma of being labeled as the poorest province in the country,” Piñol said. Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr., Cong. Ansarrudin Adiong and Wao Mayor Elvino Balicao, Jr. joined MinDA officials in the symbolic launching of the program in an abandoned airfield built in the 1970s.

MinDA urges LGUs to invest in food production

February 19, 2021

DAVAO CITY - The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has started a campaign to assist Mindanao local government units in identifying investment opportunities, especially in food production, to provide local jobs, ensure food sufficiency and boost the country's economic recovery.   “Yesterday, MinDA presented to officials of M'lang, North Cotabato the proposal to establish a modern hog-breeding facility in the town to supply the whole province with the needed fatteners,” Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Thursday.   The facility, he said is estimated to cost about PHP200 million, and is part of the Mindanao Livestock Industry Development Program initiated by the agency to revive the hog industry badly battered by the unabated spread of the African Swine Fever.   “During my presentation of the program before the Sangguniang Bayan of M'lang chaired by my younger brother, Vice Mayor Joselito Piñol, I emphasized that aside from ensuring food security for the town, the modern hog breeding facility will open livelihood opportunities for the people of the town,” he added.   Piglets produced in the breeding facility could be fattened in the community level "Hogstel" and later processed in the town's abattoir.   Farmers of the town will also benefit from the program as the town operates a recently completed feed mill which could process feeds for the hog program.   “Following my presentation, the municipal council passed a resolution asking MinDA to help the town craft an Agro-industrial Master Plan which would include the hog industry. Next week, MinDA will submit to M'lang Mayor Russel Abonado the detailed proposal for the hog breeding facility and the "Hogstel" Program,” Piñol added.   Once approved by the Municipal Council, he said MinDA will engage its banking partner, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), to provide the needed funds for the implementation of the project.   MinDA had earlier designed a program called the "Islands of Hope" which will identify areas which had not been affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) for hog production.   In these areas, hog raising facilities called "Hogstels" will be established to serve as a common service facility for erstwhile backyard hog raisers to ensure bio-security. #

Customs seizes P125M worth of cigarettes from China

February 19, 2021

THE Bureau of Customs-10 (BOC-10) has confiscated imported cigarettes estimated to be worth P125 million, according to Oliver Valiente, chief of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS).      Valiente said they have been monitoring shipments from China leading to the confiscation of at least five container vans containing cigarettes. Each container has an approximate value of P25 million.      The first batch, three container vans, was detected by the Customs police sometime last week and the second shipment arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port on Feb. 14, he said.      Valiente placed the estimated value of the cargo at P50 million per container van, although the BOC-10 will still determine the actual worth of the cigarettes.      He said they were ordered to monitor the vessels containing the cigarettes, whose brands were Marvels and Two Moons.      The latest cargo, he said, stopped by at the ports of Manila and Davao before proceeding to the MCT. It was subjected to a spot check on Feb. 16.      “We were able to track the vessel, and upon verification it was positive that the container vans contained cigarettes,” Valiente said.      He said the cigarettes were wrongfully declared as pieces of furniture.      Valiente identified the cargo’s consignee as LMRC said to be based in Davao City, but he said it could be possible that the group that smuggled the cigarettes has employed dummy consignees.      John Simon, BOC-10 district collector, said the information of the arrival of the illegal goods was obtained through a bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and China. “It was a government-to-government coordination that led to the detection of illegal cigarettes. We consider every information that we receive as important and worth to be verified,” Simon, who has just received an award from the United Nations, said.


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