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Philippine News Digest 3

September 13, 2001 · 

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Contents:

1. Cops to escort priests in Lanao
2. NBI agents rescue sex workers
3. Incestuous rape bill compels moms to file charges
4. NGOs oppose nickel smelting project
5. Farmers uprooted Bt-corn plants
6. Illegal drug trade alarms Ilocos police
7. More products listed for tariff cut
8. Pangasinan folks rally vs drugs

Cops to escort priests in Lanao

Police Chief Superintendent of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Akmad Omar said escorts would be provided to Catholic religious missionaries and members of the local clergy who continue to serve war-torn communities in Lanao del Sur. This move came in the wake of the death of Fr. Rufus Halley from the hands of kidnapping group on August 28. Bishop Edwin de la Peña said he appreciated the gesture of the police but added that it is the law enforcer’s job to protect everyone.

Meanwhile, police have arrested one of the seven gunmen who acted as a driver for the suspects in killing Fr. Rufus. He was the one who said that Fr. Rufus’ killers are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Source Edwin Fernandez and Butch Enerio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 September 2001

NBI agents rescue sex workers

After a three-month surveillance operation, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation rescued on September 11 fifteen prostituted women including three minors during a raid at a sex den in Sampaloc, Manila. The raid was conducted by the bureau’s Antiviolence Against Women and Children Division. Three suspected maintainers of the den were arrested and charged with white slavery, child abuse and exploitation before the Manila Prosecutor’s Office. At the NBI, the girls claimed they were recruited by Homaday in the provinces supposedly to work as sales clerks or factory workers. Homaday has been maintaining the sex den for several years now and the suspect is allegedly being protected by some Manila police officials. Source Jimmy Perez, Today, 12 September 2001

Incestuous rape bill compels moms to file charges

Bohol Representative Edgardo Chatto has introduced House Bill No. 1715 to Congress penalizing mothers who refuse to prosecute their husbands with a prison term of 20 to 40 years and fine from P20, 000 to P40, 000. Incestuous rape is considered a heinous crime under the Revised Penal Code but legal experts are having difficulties to prosecute due to the reluctance of victims to report the sexual abuse to authorities. This reluctance is attributed to the physical fear of her/his molester, aversion to visiting shame and scandal on herself and her family, unwillingness to put the father in prison or uncertainty about the mother’s reaction. A mother’s initial reaction will be to refuse to believe that her husband is capable of raping her daughter. She might also choose not to do anything out of fear that a rapist is in the house. Source Chito A. Fuentes, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 September 2001.

NGOs oppose nickel smelting project

The Palawan NGO Network Inc. through its executive director Offie Bernardino expressed opposition to a proposed nickel refinery complex inside the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) in Bataraza, Palawan. Bernardino said they were surprised when Governor Joel Reyes announced that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would sign a $150-million investment package in Japan during her state visit on September 12. Of this amount, $94-million will be allocated for the refinery project to be built this year and operations to begin in 2003. Bernardino said the project seemed to have gotten government approval even without endorsement from the provincial council and an environmental compliance certificate. The project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) is also still under review by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. According to PNNI, the project is another threat to the environment and its proponent; the RTNMC has been tagged as a violator of environmental laws in Palawan. RTNMC vice president for operations Jose Saret countered that they have taken steps to reduce the pollution caused by the mining operations. He also said they have started rehabilitating mined areas by planting trees and installing siltation ponds. The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, he said, had issued a certification that there was no ancestral domain claim on the land. Source Jofelle Tesorio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 September 2001.

Farmers uprooted Bt-corn plants

A network of NGOs opposed to the introduction of genetically modified organisms in agriculture and in the market expressed support for farmers headed by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas who uprooted experimental plants of Bt-corn in Barangay Maltana , Tampacan, South Cotabato as a sign of protest after exhausting all possible legal venues to air their disagreement and concerns. Francis Quimpo, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the farmer’s group and their supporters was not a mob and their protest action was legitimate. The group believes GMOs will further impoverish the farmers, threaten our health and degrade the environment. However, a separate group of farmers denounce the uprooting, saying that they have put in so much effort to study the technology and judge it by its merits and demerits. The group denied claims that farmers were overwhelmingly against the field test because their members have expressed openness in evaluating the technology. The group is composed of the Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Southern Mindanao Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives, Koronadal City Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Nursery Farmers Irrigators Association and the General Santos Agricultural and Fisheries Council. Source Today, 7 September 2001 and Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 September 2001.

Illegal drug trade alarms Ilocos police

Senior Superintendent Enrique Villanueva, deputy police director for administration in Ilocos said 100 milliograms to one gram of illegal drugs were being confiscated here daily, showing that drug pushers were making shabu (metamphetamine hydrochloride) more affordable to many people. It is difficult for drug pushers to sell a sachet of shabu costing at least P500, hence, this new tack in selling it. Carrying or selling small amounts of the illegal drug is also a way for the pushers to escape harsher punishment because being caught with at least 200 grams of the substance constitutes a non-bailable offense. The police officer said users included cock-fighting aficionados, tricycles drivers, jobless adults, out-of-school youths and poor young people who want to stave off hunger pangs. Source Peter La. Julian, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 September 2001

More products listed for tariff cut

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chaired by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has approved the inclusion of 325 products in the country’s commitment under the common effective preferential tariff (Cept) scheme of the Asean Free TradeArea (Afta). These products include 29 processed agricultural products and 296 industrial goods like soap, detergent bars, handbags, belts, and textiles. The Department of Agriculture submitted the list of processed agricultural products, while the Department of Trade and Industry chose industrial products that are not locally produced, as well as those with a rate ranging from seven percent to ten percent. Asean members committed to bring down tariff on all its products to between 0 and 5 percent. Source Today, 7 September 2001.

Pangasinan folks rally vs drugs

At least 10, 000 university and high school students marched around Dagupan City north of Manila on September 7 calling for an end to the proliferation of illegal drugs, jueteng operations and prostitution. Similar rallies were held in different towns of Pangasinan on the same day. The rally was led by Agco Pangasinan chaired by Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese. For the past four weeks, Bishop Cruz has sent pastoral letters to the parishes exposing and denouncing the proliferation of gambling and illegal drugs. The letters also called on the resident to join the rallies where logal government and police officials spoke and signed a declaration of commitment to stop vices and illegal activities. Source Yolanda Fuertes, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7 September 2001

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