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Philippine News Digest 123

August 9, 2007 · 

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Contents:

  • Bill for mandatory drug tests in schools filed
  • Organic farmers battle skepticism
  • Water supply cutback harder on Central Luzon farmers

Bill for mandatory drug tests in schools filed
By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 05:44pm (Mla time) 08/08/2007

MANILA, Philippines — A bill requiring all public and private schools to have their students, from elementary to college, undergo an annual drug test to be able to enroll has been filed at the House of Representatives.

House Bill 1344, filed by Iloilo Representative Raul Gonzalez Jr., seeks to prohibit students from admission into schools until they undergo drug tests.

“Any student who shall fail the drug test required by this Act or who willfully or without justifiable cause refuse[s] to undergo the required drug test shall not be admitted to the school until he complies with the requirement under this Act,” the bill said.

The Department of Health (DoH), which will supervise the test should the bill become law, should issue a certification on the result of the test, with an accompanying recommendation when necessary.

Officials, teachers, or employees allow students without the DoH certification will face jail terms of not less than six months but not more than one year, or a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P20,000, or both, if found guilty.

Gonzalez cited recent statistics showing drug users as young as six or seven years old as his reason for filing the bill.

“Thousand of young students are using drugs, which they do so out of curiosity, for pleasure, for thrill[s], or in order to deal with stressful events or painful experiences,” he said.

“More often, the use of these prohibited drugs leads to the commission of crimes like theft, robbery, rape and murder,” he added.

His measure, Gonzalez said, would give students second thoughts before using illegal drugs.

“This measure will also create a fear of detection or discovery if students will be required to undergo drug test [and] the government can expect conscientious students who will not be remiss in their studies and duties to their families and society,” the lawmaker pointed out.

Organic farmers battle skepticism
By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Inquirer
Last updated 04:02am (Mla time) 08/05/2007

NEW CORELLA, Davao del Norte, Philippines—Many farmers in New Corella town in Davao del Norte province still believe that only commercial pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can bring them abundant yield.

Thanks to the advocates of pesticide-free and safe-to-live environment, these farm practices have been exposed as perilous to the environment and the health of the people.

The decades-long dependence on these hazardous chemicals has so taken root on the farmers’ consciousness that they have remained cold to new farming approaches.

But those who dared try the new approaches have no regrets. One farmer is now anticipating an abundant harvest.

Water supply cutback harder on Central Luzon farmers
By TJ Burgonio, Kristine L. Alave, Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes
Inquirer, Northern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 02:24am (Mla time) 07/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Central Luzon farmers stand to suffer more than Metro Manila residents from the cutback in the water supply from Angat Dam, according to officials.

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) began implementing Monday a cutback in the water supply for irrigation in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, and domestic use in the metropolis to “stretch” the use of available water in the dam.

“With the cutback, what will be greatly affected is irrigation. That’s our immediate concern,” NWRB Executive Director Ramon Alikpala said.

But if worse comes to worst — if the dry spell continues and the water level in Angat further dips next month — both the farmers and the Metro Manila residents would bear the brunt, he said.

Alikpala said households in the metropolis should not be immediately concerned. “We haven’t reached a point where they should be concerned. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t also mean that we should not talk about conserving,” he said.

The NWRB reduced the water supply for 15,000 hectares of irrigated farms in Bulacan and Pampanga from 32 cubic meters per second to 25 cu m/sec through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

It also cut back the supply for 12 million residents in the metropolis from 43 cu m/sec to 41 cu m/sec through the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

The cutback was prompted by the prolonged dry spell in Luzon that has lowered the water levels in several dams, cut down the power generated by hydroelectric plants, and caused brownouts.

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