HOLY WEEK RUSH PCG warns ships vs overloading


MANILA – Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Vice Admiral Rodolfo Isorena warned shipping companies against overloading as the Holy Week rush intensifies.

He made this statement following an inspection at the Manila North Harbor, the docking facility for domestic shipping lines.

Isorena said ships carrying more than the maximum number of passengers will be meted stiff penalties and sanctions.

He also urged passengers to report cases of overloading to the nearest Coast Guard detachment so that appropriate action can be taken.

Earlier, PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo also advised seagoing passengers to be in their respective ports of departure three hours ahead of their departure time to avoid missing their voyage and properly submit themselves to security checks.

Also, the Coast Guard said it is deploying sea marshals aboard passenger ships, and K-9 units in ports to sniff explosives, drugs and contraband as an additional safety measure.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has its “Oplan Ligtas Biyahe” to address the concerns of passengers.

“We coordinate and supervise heightened efforts to tighten security over passengers, goods and transport facilities; improve convenience of their travel experience given the heightened volume of travelers; and enhance response capability to emergencies," said DOTC spokesman Michael Sagcang.

DOTC’s responsive measures include the adding of presence of roving personnel at airports, ports, highways, and terminals; putting up public assistance and first aid desks; and increasing simple but necessary facilities such as charging stations and seats.

To ensure compliance on safety measure, DOTC, together with other concerned authorities, has been conducting both scheduled and unscheduled inspections to different terminals in the country. (PNA)


Ban on e-cigarette advertising sought


BY PRINCE GOLEZ Manila Reporter

MANILA – If Sen. Lito Lapid were to have his way, e-cigarette advertising on television, radio and other forms of mass media should be banned.

His Senate Bill (SB) 2011 also seeks to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to individuals below 18 years old.

“Although there are attestations to the efficacy of e-cigarettes in making smokers stop or minimize their use of or addiction to (smoking), said apparatuses remain a concern to health experts,” said Lapid.

Lapid said such devices use a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution containing a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, polyethylene glycol 400, flavorings and a variable concentration of nicotine.

The lawmaker, however, said that studies have yet to prove the safety of inhaling pure nicotine.

Under SB 2011, six months after the enactment of the bill, all cinema and outdoor advertising for e-cigarettes will be prohibited.

No leaflets, posters and similar outdoor advertising materials may be posted, except inside the premises of point-of-sale retail establishments.

“The lack of regulation compounded by product accessibility, popularity, and attractive design make such devices appealing to young adults, teenagers and minors thereby encouraging their experimentation with or outright use of the same,” said Lapid.

SB 2011 is also known as the “E-Cigarette Regulation Act of 2013.”/PN


Senators reflect on Lent’s significance


BY PRINCE GOLEZ Manila Reporter

MANILA – Sen. Gregorio Honasan urged the faithful to offer sacrifices during the Holy Week. “Sacrifice as our Lord Jesus Christ did by example,” Honasan told Panay News.

The country may attain lasting peace, unity and a secure future for its people “if we acknowledge the sacrifice of Christ for our sins,” he stressed.

For his part, Sen. JV Ejercito said Lent is a good time to “reflect on the passion and death of Christ…(so) you and I may be saved.”

Senate President Franklin Drilon, on the other hand, urged the faithful to make Lent a period of “reflection” and “renewal.”

“Lent is also an occasion to think more profoundly about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another as human beings,” said Drilon.

He urged Filipinos to refocus their priorities and make them “consistent with the teachings of Christ.”

“I join the rest of the nation in solemn observance of the Holy Week….We must all remember what Jesus said: ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,’” Drilon said.

Sen. Bam Aquino, meanwhile, said the Holy Week is a time to improve our relationship with family, friends and loved ones.

Gamitin natin ang panahong ito para tumigil sa pang-araw-araw na responsibilidad upang mapagmunihan ang mahahalagang bagay sa ating buhay,” Aquino said./PN


SoKor to probe death of citizen in Manila


By SAMMY JULIAN Manila News Bureau Chief

MANILA – South Korea is poised to dispatch an inter-agency investigation team to the Philippines to look into the recent death of a South Korean student abducted in Manila more than a month ago.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson and Deputy Minister for Public Relations Cho Tai-young said his government is continuously calling on relevant Philippine authorities to “conduct an investigation in a thorough manner.”

A 21-year-old female South Korean college student was found dead weeks after her abduction in Pasay City on March 3.

The exact details of the student’s death have not been released other than that she was identified through her clothing.

The victim’s younger brother, also studying in the Philippines, attempted to identify his sister but was unable to do so because her body was so badly decomposed, prompting the police to request a DNA test and dental examination.

The abduction was not reported as authorities were supposedly working out the safe release of the student.

Local police said there appeared to have been at least three kidnappers, including a taxi driver.

No additional information is available on the identities of the kidnappers and their motivates.

One of the suspected kidnappers was arrested late Tuesday evening.

The student was the fourth South Korean killed in the country this year.

On April 6, a 45-year-old South Korean businessman was fatally shot while dining with his family at an outdoor restaurant in Angeles City, Pampanga by an unknown motorcycle-riding gunman.

In February, a 65-year-old South Korean tourist was fatally shot also in Angeles City.

That same month, a South Korean was found dead on a highway near Benguet.

Last year, 12 South Koreans were killed but no suspects have been taken into custody.

Since 2009, there have been 40 Koreans killed in the Philippines. Between 2009 and 2013, 44 percent of some 160 murder cases of South Korean nationals abroad occurred in the Philippines, according to the foreign ministry.

In 2010, the South Korean government pushed for the establishment of a South Korean Desk in the Philippine National Police to handle crimes involving its citizens.

The South Korean foreign ministry dismissed claims that Koreans were being targeted by criminal elements.

“The Philippines’ criminal system is weak and, without exception, the number of crimes and killings of visitors is rising for Chinese, Japanese and Americans alike. Each visitor should stay vigilant,” the ministry said.

Koreans are the biggest expatriate community in the Philippines. According to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 88,000 Koreans were living in the Philippines in 2012. The Department of Tourism, on the other hand, said more than 1.16 million Koreans entered the country last year./PN


Taiwan bares scheme to resolve sea dispute


By SAMMY JULIAN Manila News Bureau Chief

MANILA – The East China Sea Peace Initiative could also apply to the West Philippine Sea / South China Sea territorial row, President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan suggested.

The East China Sea Peace Initiative proposed by Ma in August 2012 is a five-point initiative that aims to resolve disputes over the Diaoyutai Islands claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan.

It reflects the principles of peaceful dispute resolution, as set out under the United Nations Charter and relevant provisions in international law, and urges all parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; shelve controversies and not abandon dialogue; observe international law and resolve disputes through peaceful means; seek consensus on a code of conduct in the region; and establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources.

“In recent years, the danger of confrontation over the Diaoyutai Islands has grown tremendously,” said President Ma in recent video conference hosted by Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The uninhabited islands – called Diaoyutai in Taiwan, Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan – are located near rich fishing grounds, undersea hydrocarbon deposits and some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

“The initiative elevates peaceful negotiation over confrontation,” said Ma. “It de-emphasizes the territorial nature of the dispute and focuses on resource sharing and cooperation.”

The Taiwanese leader pointed out that the parties involved in the East China Sea territorial row, particularly Taiwan and Japan, “achieved success by proceeding on the basis that while sovereignty cannot be compromised, resources may be shared.”

He cited as an example the signing of the Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement a year ago.

Ma pointed out that Taiwan also acted in line with the East China Sea Peace Initiative to resolve a dispute with the Philippines after the Philippine Coast Guard shot a Taiwan fisherman dead in May last year.

He said after months of intense negotiations, the Philippine government made an official apology, provided compensation for the victim’s family and subsequently charged in court the perpetrators with homicide.

In addition, Taiwan and the Philippines further agreed to refrain from using force in law enforcement actions, to notify the other side before taking any enforcement action, and to promptly release detained fishing vessels and crew in case of arrest.

The Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia all have rival claims to parts of the South China Sea while China claims a U-shaped swathe of the sea that extends well into what the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea recognizes as the 200-mile-from-shore Exclusive Economic Zones of other claimants./PN

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