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Philippine News Digest 18

March 12, 2002 · 

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Contents:
1. First GMO developed by Filipinos: delayed ripening papaya
2. Bishops hit labor chief for legalizing prostitution
3. House targets sex traffickers
4. Minors used as drugs couriers in Negros

First GMO developed by Filipinos: delayed ripening papaya

Researchers at the Institute of Plant Breeding, University of the Philippines, Los Baños led by Dr. Evelyn Mae Mendoza have developed the first genetically modified papaya fruit with longer shelf life than the ordinary variety. By suppressing the enzyme ACC synthase, which is key to ethylene production in the ripening process of fruits, the GM papayas could have a shelf life ranging from one week to four weeks. The researchers are also about to develop a never-ripening papaya fruit variety. They say the fruits will be available commercially in around five to ten years, depending on the attitude of the public and of the government. The project is important to increase the economic benefits of papaya planting to farmers and to increase the country’s trade in papaya. At present, the fruit is being exported to Japan, United Arab Emirates and Papua New Guinea, not only for food but also for cosmetics use. Source: Lyn Resurreccion, Today, 12 March 2002.

Bishops hit labor chief on legalizing prostitution

Labor Secretary Patricio Sto.Tomas called on Congress to review the anti-prostitution provisions of the Revised Penal Code that could pave the way for the legalization of the sex trade in the country. But this early, officials of the Roman Catholic Church already expressed their rage over the move. Archbishop Oscar Cruz, former head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said that with her proposal, Sto.Tomas practically admitted the helplessness of the administration tto stop prostitution. He said the government’s inability to curtail the sex trade and the widespread poverty in the country were not enough justification for people to go into prostitution or for the government to legalize it. Source: Armand Nocum, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 March 2002.

House targets sex traffickers

Thirty congresswomen pushed on International Women’s Day for the approval of a bill that would protect Filipino women from sex traffickers. In her privilege sppech, Rep. Liza Maza recalled how justice evaded the more than 20-year-old case of a woman because of the absence of an anti-trafficking law in the country. The woman was denied justice from Philippine courts despite the conviction of Jan Schoeman, her trafficker in the Netherlands, because Schoeman’s local counterpart was acquitted for lack of appropriate laws. She also called on the House to initiate investigations into alleged massive recruitment of women from Davao who would be peddled as entertainers in joints in Zamboanga and Basilan for the visiting American troops. Source: Rene Acosta, Today, 12 March 2002.

Minors used as drug couriers in Negros

Police officials in Bacolod City said drug pushers in northern Negros use minors as couriers in distributing prohibited drugs and as “fronts” to deal with their customers. A local drugs syndicate in northern Negros has been monitored by the police to have been adopting this modus operandi. Negros Occidental police director Senior Supt. Geary Barias said any person, including minors, who is arrested for possessing prohibited drugs could be charged in court. Source: Gilbert Bayoran, Today, 7 March 2002.

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