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Philippine News Digest 122

July 27, 2007 · 

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Contents:

  • Free all kids in jail, Arroyo orders police
  • Mining out of DENR; now under President’s office
  • CHEd to undertake tree planting program

Free all kids in jail, Arroyo orders police
By Michael Lim Ubac, Volt Contreras
Inquirer
Last updated 03:11am (Mla time) 07/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — With hundreds of children still languishing in prisons nationwide despite the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has issued an executive order directing the Department of Justice and the Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO) to work for their immediate release.

Executive Order No. 633, dated July 16, covers children aged 15 years and under at the time the crime was committed who are still being held in the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Corrections.

The President said the continued detention of minors ran counter to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (Republic Act No. 9344) which was passed in April 2006.

She directed the justice department, through its attached agency PAO, to immediately file petitions in court for the release of children “already convicted” and “in detention pending trial.

Ms Arroyo’s order stated that upon the issuance of a release order by the courts, the head/warden of the detention facility shall release the child within 48 hours to his/her parents in the presence of the local social welfare development officer.

The officer shall then prepare and implement the necessary after-care services to ensure the normal growth and development of the child as a productive member of society.

It was the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the PAO that had jointly requested the executive order, the Philippine Daily Inquirer learned.

According to Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, RA 9344 states that children are to be released from regular jails and turned over to facilities run by the DSWD or its counterpart in local government units.

“They are not to be considered criminals to be punished but young people who need to undergo restorative and rehabilitative activities,” Cabral said in a phone interview.

She said that with their criminal cases now considered “dropped,” the children could spend between six months and one year in the facility — or even longer, depending on the assessment of social workers and counselors.

PAO chief Persida Acosta said her agency — which provides defense lawyers to indigents accused of crimes for free — had also lobbied for the executive order to remedy a situation often encountered by public lawyers who had underage clients.

She said that when a prosecutor objected to a PAO lawyer’s petition seeking the release of a young client from detention, the prosecutor would argue that the proper procedure would be to file a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.

But a writ of habeas corpus applies to arbitrary or illegal detention, which is not the general case with young offenders, she said.

Mining out of DENR; now under President’s office
By Michael Lim Ubac
Inquirer
Last updated 03:14am (Mla time) 07/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Add the mining industry to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s hands-on concerns.

Ms Arroyo has ordered supervision of the mining industry transferred from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Office of the President, in a move, she said, “to closely monitor and oversee the efficient and effective implementation of the country’s utilization and development of its mineral resources.”

Her directive was contained in Executive Order No. 636 dated July 18, which was made public Thursday.

As with other new EOs, Ms Arroyo said, “all issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this EO are hereby revoked, amended, or modified accordingly.”

The President’s decision to take a direct hand in the supervision of Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PMDC) is seen as crucial in the development of the industry.

The Philippines ranks fifth among the countries rich in mineral resources.

Mining activities, already on the uptrend, are expected to further increase next year with more foreign investments coming in.

This year alone, some of the world’s biggest mining players have invested a total of $500 million in mining in the Philippines.

These firms and their investments include: Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., $100 million, Oceana Gold Ltd. of New Zealand and Climax Arino Mining Co. of Australia, $100 million, and Coral Bay Nickel Corp., $100 million (to expand its Rio Tuba operations in Palawan).

CHEd to undertake tree planting program
By Beverly T. Natividad
Inquirer
Last updated 11:12pm (Mla time) 07/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Faced with the possibility of a water shortage, the country’s universities offer a more long-term solution to the impending problem: planting trees to revive the country’s water supply.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) plans to embark on a massive tree planting project this year. CHEd Chairman Carlito S. Puno told reporters on Thursday that the agency was tapped by Speaker Jose de Venecia to implement a tree planting project, which is set to cover some 100 hectares per region.

“This is a long-term solution to the drought. Just imagine, we will be able to tap some 4.5 million students overall in this project,” said Puno.

Puno explained that the CHEd has volunteered to take part in the project, which will utilize about P5 billion in international environmental grants currently held by the Office of Speaker de Venecia.

Puno explained that the CHEd is undertaking a feasibility study to determine which of the 111 state colleges and universities nationwide is the most suitable location for a nursery to provide the seedlings for the project.

“Our state colleges and universities have the capacity to produce the needed seedlings and even the lands needed to plant these trees. Once we gather enough seedlings, we will implement the project in all public schools and private schools,” said Puno.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Trees for Life project this year has targeted to plant about 20 million trees nationwide.

Asked why it decided to embark on a project which is already within the ambit of the DENR’s functions, Puno said that planting trees is not totally outside the CHEd’s area. And besides, he said, the number of trees being planted through various projects in the country is still not enough to replenish the country’s depleted forests.

Planting trees, in the long run, results in less run-off and erosion and helps recharge the groundwater supply, he said.

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