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Bill pushes declaration of National Symbols

by Ben R. Rosario and Ellson A. Quismorio March 1, 2014 Manila, Philippines Adobo, bakya, bahay kubo, jeepney, and barot saya are among the few objects that symbolize the Filipino identity and cultural heritage, and thus should be declared National Symbols. That was proposed by Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos in House Bill 3926 to declare national symbols that would promote nationalism and underscore a sense of pride among Filipinos. National Food The House Committee on Tourism chairman from the first district of Bohol, filed the bill that seeks to officially declare adobo as the national food, bakya as the national slippers, bahay kubo as the national house and the jeepney as the national vehicle. National Song Under the same measure, the song Bayan Ko shall also be declared and recognized as the national song, and Maka-Diyos, Maka-tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa as the national motto. Titled the Philippine National Symbols Act of 2014, the bill was penned by Relampagos to lay the basis for the declaration and recognition of Philippine national symbols. National symbols represent its country, its people, its history and its culture. In the Philippines, there are around 20 national symbols being taught in school. However, of these symbols, only 10 are official, that is with basis either in the Constitution, Republic Acts and Proclamations, the solon stressed. Relampagos said this leaves the other national symbols unofficial or blatantly colorums, for having no basis for their declaration. Rizal now becomes the unofficial national hero, carabao the unofficial national animal, mango the unofficial national fruit, bangus the unofficial fish, the barot saya as the unofficial national costume and so on, he explained. National Hero But the Bohol lawmaker noted that his measure provides for the official declaration of Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda as the national hero, as well as the existing Philippine flag as the national flag of country.

However, debate is expected to be triggered by the bills naming of Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda as the national hero. It will be recalled that a similar bill filed by militant lawmakers has named Andres Bonifacio, founder of the KKK, as the national hero. National Capital The bill likewise provides that the City of Manila shall be declared the national capital of the Philippines, Malacaan Palace as the national seat of government, Filipino the national language and Lupang Hinirang the national anthem. The bill further declares as national symbols the Great Seal as the national seal; the national coatof-arms shall have paleways of two pieces, azure and gules, and the Philippine peso the national currency. National Dance Arnis, on the other hand, shall be declared the national martial arts and sport, Cariosa as the national dance, the Philippine monkey-eating eagle as the national bird, Kalabaw as the national animal, Bangus as the national fish and Narra the national tree. National Gem Relampagos bill also declares the Philippine Pearl as the national gem, Sampaguita as the national flower, Anahaw as the national leaf and mango as the national fruit. The House leader said the bill aims to develop and instill nationalism and unity, ensure respect, promotion and preservation of the national symbols, correct the unofficial status of these symbols as taught in schools, provide guidelines for their use, care and conservation and to promote Philippine tourism through these symbols, among others. The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) are directed by the piece of legislation to give importance to the respect, promotion, preservation, conservation, cultivation and usage of these national symbols, as appropriate, including dissemination through the quad-media.
http://www.mb.com.ph/bill-pushes-declaration-of-national-symbols/

Bill seeks to declare adobo as national food


by Ellson Quismorio February 28, 2014 (updated)

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A House leader has filed a bill declaring adobo the ubiquitous Filipino dish flavored with vinegar and soy sauce as the national food. The House Committee on Tourism chair, Rep. Rene Relampagos of the 1st district of Bohol, filed House Bill 3926 which also seeks to officially declare bakya as the national slippers, bahay kubo as the national house and the jeepney as the national vehicle.

A House leader has filed a bill declaring adobo the ubiquitous Filipino dish flavored with vinegar and soy sauce as the national food. (Photo from Wikipedia) Under the same measure, the song Bayan Ko shall also be declared and recognized as the national song and Maka-Diyos, Maka-tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa as the national motto. Titled the Philippine National Symbols Act of 2014, the bill was penned by Relampagos in order to lay the basis for the declaration and recognition of Philippine national symbols. National symbols represent its country, its people, its history and its culture. In the Philippines, there are around twenty national symbols being taught in school. However, of these symbols, only ten are official, that is with basis either in the Constitution, Republic Acts and Proclamations, the solon said in a statement. Rizal now becomes the unofficial national hero, carabao the unofficial national animal, mango the unofficial national fruit, bangus the unofficial fish, the barot saya as the unofficial national costume and so on, he explained. But the Bohol lawmaker noted that his measure provides for the official declaration of Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda as the national hero, as well as the existing Philippine flag as the national flag of country.

The bill likewise provides that the City of Manila shall be declared the national capital of the Philippines, Malacaan Palace as the national seat of government, Filipino the national language and Lupang Hinirang the national anthem. The bill further declares as national symbols the Great Seal as the national seal; the national coatof-arms shall have paleways of two pieces, azure and gules, and the Philippine peso the national currency. Arnis, on the other hand, shall be declared the national martial arts and sport, cariosa as the national dance, the Philippine monkey-eating eagle as the national bird, Kalabaw as the national animal, Bangus as the national fish and Narra the national tree. Relampagos bill also declares the Philippine Pearl as the national gem, Sampaguita as the national flower, Anahaw as the national leaf and mango as the national fruit. The House leader said the bill aims to develop and instill nationalism and unity, ensure respect, promotion and preservation of the national symbols, correct the unofficial status of these symbols as taught in schools, provide guidelines for their use, care and conservation and to promote Philippine tourism through these symbols, among others. The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) are directed by the piece of legislation to give primordial importance to the respect, promotion, preservation, conservation, cultivation and usage of these national symbols, as appropriate, including dissemination through the quad-media.
http://www.mb.com.ph/bill-seeks-to-declare-adobo-as-national-food/

House panel approves bill expanding Sotto

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by Ellson Quismorio March 4, 2014 A bill expanding the coverage on journalists right to protect the source of a news report obtained in confidence has hurdled the Committee on Public Information in the House of Representatives (HoR). The panel chaired by Misamis Occidental 1st district Rep. Jorge Almonte earlier approved Committee Report 50 on House Bill (HB) 362, which is titled An Act amending R.A. No. 53, as amended, otherwise known as An Act to exempt the Publisher, Editor, or Reporter of any Publication from revealing the source of published news or information obtained in confidence by including within its coverage journalists from broadcast, news agencies and internet publications. A consolidated bill, HB 362 was authored principally by Cebu City 1st district Rep. Raul del Mar, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Abante Mindanao partylist Maximo Rodriguez, and Northern Samar 1st district Harlin Abayon. Republic Act No. 53 or The Sotto Law has been the journalists privilege statute which ensures that s/he can refuse to reveal the source of a confidential news report or information except when the court or a Committee of Congress finds that the revelation is demanded by the security of the State. The reason for the rule is that the identity of sources of a confidential news information must be protected, otherwise the spring of data for news or commentary dries up and the mission of the press to check and balance and expose wrongdoing is impeded, del Mar said.

In particular, HB 362 expands the coverage to broadcast journalists, news agencies and internet publications which are otherwise not covered by the Sotto Law. Protection extends to the publisher, station manager and/or manager, bureau chief, editor, news editor, writer or reporter, correspondents, opinion columnists or commentators, cartoonists, photographers, or any practitioner involved in the gathering, writing, editing of and commenting on the news, the authors said. With its passage at the Committee level, the measure would now be subjected to plenary debates.

Senate urged to block marijuana legalization

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by Mario Casayuran February 19, 2014 Senator Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday asked the Senate to block the passage of a bill at the House of Representatives seeking to legalize the use of marijuana. In a privilege speech during the Senate plenary session, Sotto said that the move to legalize marijuana use and possession is a door-opener to more dangerous drugs such as shabu, heroin and cocaine.

If we legalize the use of marijuana, it will become a disaster. Let us stand up against legalization now.otherwise there evil will take root, he said. Sotto stressed that the supposed medical benefits of marijuana have not been scientifically proven. Sotto said Republic Act 9165, also known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug. Its possession and use is punishable from 12 years to life imprisonment, depending on the quantity. He reminded his colleagues that the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which classified marijuana as a dangerous drug. Every year, there are numerous petitions asking the U.N. that marijuana be legalized because of its so-called medical benefits. But the United Nations has consistently refused to give in to their petitions simply because up to now, there is no empirical data that could back-up their claims. I do not think that these people who are lobbying for the legalization of marijuana are much better than the powerful research machinery of the United Nations- Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN-CND), he said. He said the Netherlands is now considering to prohibit the use of marijuana because based on their experience, the consumption of marijuana has tripled among the youth aged 18 to 20 years old since they have made its use legal.

Senators push for cigarette graphic warning bill


by Charissa Luci March 4, 2014

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Senators are pushing for the passage of a measure requiring tobacco companies to display graphic labels on their products to strengthen the governments efforts to discourage smoking, especially among the youth. Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and Senator Pia S. Cayetano asked their colleagues to work towards the passage of the measure seeking to reduce the smoking incidence rates in the country.

The passage of this proposed measure will bring closer to our goal of protecting the present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke, Drilon said. He said smokers have to be informed and made fully aware of what will happen to their health every time they pick up a cigarette pack, citing that 87,600 Filipino die annually, or about ten Filipino deaths for every hour, due to smoking-related complications. He even noted that cigarette smoking costs an estimated P188 billion in annual health care expenses and productivity losses. The Philippines still registers as having one of the highest smoking incidences in the Western Pacific Region, even with measures like the Sin Tax Bill in effect. A much more decisive government action on this issue is then evidently required, he said. For her part, Cayetano, who authored and sponsored two earlier versions on graphic health warnings in the previous 14th and 15th Congress, asked the government to decisively flex its muscles to address the large scale deaths among Filipinos due to smoking. While many tobacco users know tobacco is harmful, studies show that most people are unaware of its true risk. Studies have also shown that picture-based warnings are much more effective than text warnings alone, she said. She lamented that more than 5 million people die each year from direct tobacco use, while more than 600,000 people die from second hand smoke. The bill provides that tobacco products have to display picture-based health warnings in full colour with accompanying text warnings that will be printed on at least 60 percent of the principal display surfaces for any tobacco package. The warnings will show the dangers of tobacco smoking or passive smoking, following guidelines to be issued by the Department of Health (DOH). When we look at other countries where this system has been set in place, they were able to reduce the incidence of smoking in their respective jurisdictions, Drilon said.

Belmonte still hopes Aquino will support Chacha


by Ellson Quismorio March 4, 2014

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House Speaker Feliciano Sonny Belmonte Jr. remains hopeful that President Benigno S. Aquino III would eventually have a change of heart on Charter Change (Cha-Cha). No, hes not supportive of it at the moment. Hes not supportive of any change to the Constitution, Belmonte, who represents the 4th district of Quezon City, said. I suspect it is maybe because he thinks people are harboring bigger changes, more particularly on term limits, and all the political structure, Belmonte said after admitting that he is happy that his Cha-Cha proposal, Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No.1, hurdled the committee level Monday afternoon. The Speaker is crossing his fingers that Aquino would become more receptive to amending the 1987 Constitution once the latter realizes that only economic provisions would be touched. Following the legislative process, RBH no.1 would need a three-fourths vote from the Lower Chamber (and from the Senate, voting separately) for the constitutional amendments to be approved. According to Belmonte, getting the three-fourths majority in the HoR would show everyone that the much feared revision of congressmen to get rid of term limits is after all something that most of them are willing to forget in the interest of the public. RBH no.1 seeks to amend the following articles of the existing Constitution: Article II or the declaration of state principles and policies, Article XII on national economy and patrimony, and Article XVI which contains sections on foreign ownership. As Ive said they do not immediately change anything, they just make it possible to do the changes if its necessary in the public interest, he explained. The Speaker noted that neighboring countries have overtaken the Philippines in terms of foreign direct investments, thus justifying the need to lift the Constitutions restrictive economic provisions. The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved RBH no.1 for plenary debates Monday with a vote of 24-2-1 (affirmative-negative-abstain) just before Congress goes on a seven-week summer recess. With just two weeks worth of session dates left, Belmonte said they have no intention of passing the Cha-Cha measure before Congress goes on break on March 14. Definitely no. We need people to learn more about it, to know the reasons, the 77-year-old solon said.