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E. Visayas eyes P489-M to boost rice output amid crisis

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Manila, June 3 — Eastern Visayas will spend about PHP489 million to boost its rice production during this health crisis through the provision of seeds, fertilizers, and technical assistance to over 111,000 farmers in the poverty-stricken region.

Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) is the first initiative of the national government with a huge budget to ramp up food production, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director Angel Enriquez said on Wednesday.

“We expect that farms not planted in the past will be properly cultivated this cropping. Those planted areas with lack of government support before will receive proper intervention and will be included in our regular monitoring,” Enriquez told the Philippine News Agency.

Nationwide, the central government has set aside PHP8.5 billion for RRP, which is one of the components under the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program against Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) to address potential scarcity due to the pandemic.

Under the RRP, the DA aims to produce an increment of more than 1.03 million metric tons (MMT) of rice, on top of this year’s yield projection of 12.76 MMT nationwide.

In the region, about PHP300 million have been spent on the continuing distribution of a high-yielding variety of rice seeds to farmers as of the end of May this year.

Launched on May 26, the project will be providing seeds and fertilizers to farmers. The project covers 111,232 hectares of farms.

Andrew Orais, DA regional field operations chief, said they are eyeing an additional 542,000 metric tons yield due to RRP implementation, raising the region’s chance to attain the 113-percent sufficiency level in staple food productivity, up than the current 93 percent.

“We are investing a lot to make sure stable rice supply. The goal is to achieve an increase of harvest to 4 to 6.5 metric tons per hectare from the existing three to five metric tons yield per hectare,” Orais said.

The DA regional field office, in coordination with the provincial agriculturist and the city or municipal agriculturist, leads the distribution of seeds and fertilizers and adheres to the quarantine and physical distancing protocols.

Enriquez said all personnel of the DA field office will be involved to ensure the success of this project in partnership with local government units.

The agriculture department is eyeing to continue the intervention in the next planting season from October 2020 to May 2021.

Eastern Visayas is primarily an agricultural region with 157,632 hectares or 22 percent of the total farm area devoted to rice farming.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Anti-terrorism bill new tool for peace, security: Army

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Manila, June 3 — The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) has backed the passage of the House Bill 6875 or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as it is a “new tool to promote peace and security.”

The House of Representatives has approved the said bill on third reading Wednesday.

Maj. Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the Army’s 3ID, told the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday that the security forces in Western and Central Visayas support the developments in Congress.

“This is a new tool to fight insurgency, to promote peace and security in our area and we welcome it,” he said.

Pancito said the bill effectively repeals the Human Security Act of 2007, giving clearer guidelines to the security forces in the anti-terrorism campaign.

“It guides us in winning the war, leads to who are the terrorists, and penalizing other acts that are leading to the eventual felony or crimes,” he said, as the bill carries provisions imposing life imprisonment without parole on those who will participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; possess objects connected with the preparation for the commission of terrorism; or collect or make documents connected with the preparation of terrorism.

The bill also calls for 12 years imprisonment to persons who shall threaten to commit terrorism and those who will propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism.

“This is for the people. This will promote more of peace and order situation in our area rather than curtail the rights and the freedom of some,” he said.

Although the act of terrorism in Central and Western Visayas is low, he said the 3ID also takes part in monitoring security threats.

The insurgency problems in this part of the country, he said, are brought about by the presence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

“Our fight against NPA has not yet ended but in terms of terrorism, we also have efforts for that. We will also counter terrorism,” he said.

Despite the current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the 3ID said passing the bill showed that the government is also paying attention to other important matters.

“The world cannot stop because we have Covid-19. We have to move forward along with our other tasks,” he said.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Another batch of stranded OFWs, LSIs return to Bacolod, NegOcc

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Manila, June 3 — More overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) returned home to Negros Occidental and Bacolod City from Metro Manila on Wednesday.

They were part of the second week of arrivals following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive on May 25 to immediately send all OFWs stuck in quarantine centers in Metro Manila to their respective homes.

An AirAsia sweeper flight landed at the Bacolod-Silay Airport at about 7:35 a.m., carrying 38 passengers – 26 Negrenses and 11 Bacolodnons, with one LSI.

At the Bredco port here, 16 OFWs from Negros Occidental and five from Bacolod, along with two LSIs, arrived aboard a 2GO Group vessel at about 8:30 a.m.

Based on local health protocols, returning residents – whether OFWs or LSIs – are required to proceed to the patient care centers to undergo a two-week mandatory quarantine and subject themselves to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In Negros Occidental, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said returning OFWs no longer have to complete the 14-day quarantine period once they yield a negative result before completing the required number of days.

From May 25 to June 1 alone, the province received 601 returning residents while this city has accommodated some 348 persons, who arrived either on sweeper flights or aboard 2GO Group’s Malasakit Voyage trips.

This June, the first flight arrived at the Bacolod-Silay Airport on Monday morning. It was an AirAsia sweeper flight that carried 12 residents of Bacolod City and 19 from various cities and municipalities in Negros Occidental.

The returning OFWs, who are residents of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, are provided accommodations in hotels, tourist inns, and pension houses in the city, upon the respective agreements of the city and the province with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Thousands protest in London for Black Lives Matter

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Manila, June 4 — Thousands of people took to the streets of London Wednesday to march in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and protest the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after being pinned down by a white police officer in the US state of Minnesota.

The protests were focused in Hyde Park, central London and started at 1 p.m. Demonstrators initially practiced social distancing. But as their numbers swelled, the space between protestors shrank. A considerable number of demonstrators wore face masks and gloves, however.

They chanted “Black lives matter,” “We will not be silent” and “No justice, no peace.”

One of the protest organizers told the Evening Standard, a London newspaper: “The injustice in the United States has refocused the similar problems we have here in the United Kingdom.”

“Since 1990, almost one person a week has died at the hands of the police or prison system in Britain, and we need accountability and reform here as well,” he said.

“This crisis has to stop if we don’t want to go in the same direction as the United States.”

At 5:25 p.m., Guardian journalist Mattha Busby uploaded a video of scuffles between protestors and police, and tweeted: “It’s kicking off now. Unclear exactly what started things. Police appeared to attempt to take a man from the crowd and pandemonium ensued.”

Shortly after, he tweeted: “I should add, things have calmed down significantly now after the video was taken. A couple of people were led away by officers. Tensions are growing and protesters here show no signs of heading to Trafalgar Square.”

“The crowd has been thinning out,” he later tweeted. “It would be a shame if earlier’s flash point at all overshadowed what has overwhelmingly been a peaceful and positive demo. Sky News are reporting a police officer was punched, triggering the incident and arrests.”

Commander Alex Murray from London’s Metropolitan Police uploaded a video to Twitter in the evening, where he said: “So we can see feelings are running really high today. It’s been a peaceful protest. We’re really grateful for everybody who has been peaceful, and we are committed to working with the people of London to make London a lot safer and to build trust with all communities.”

John Boyega

London-born British actor John Boyega, who rose to fame for his role in the most recent Star Wars films, attended the protest at Hyde Park and made an impassioned speech. The video of the speech and photos of him went viral on social media.

“We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence,” he said.

The first three names are of killed African Americans; Stephen Lawrence was a black British teenager murdered in an unprovoked racist attack on April 22, 1993. Five suspects were arrested but none charged at the time. Police and prosecutors were criticized for institutional racism and the case has become a cause celebre, highlighting structural racism in the UK. In 2012, two of Lawrence’s killers were finally convicted of murder.

“Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting,” Boyega said.

“I’m speaking to you from my heart.”

“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process. We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved. We don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved. But today, we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones,” he added.

Take the knee

Stand Up To Racism, an anti-racism campaign group, called on Brits to “take the knee” on their doorsteps at 6 p.m. as a show of solidarity.

The idea was inspired by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took the knee in protest in 2016. It has since become linked with the Black Lives Matter group.

The Daily Mail quoted one of Stand Up To Racism’s members as saying: “Racism is the underlying condition that continues to kill black and BAME communities,” referring to Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.

“Take the knee at 6 p.m. because there is a boot on the neck of millions of people in the BAME community.

“Part of the cure for the virus of racism is to embrace anti-racism and anti-fascism.”

Police and politicians

UK police leaders published a joint letter Wednesday, saying: “We stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life. Justice and accountability should follow.”

The police added they were “appalled” by the damage and violence in US cities and hoped that “peace and order will soon be restored.”

Turning to policing in the UK, the letter said: “In the UK, we have a long established tradition of policing by consent.”

“Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary,” the letter said. “We will tackle bias, racism, or discrimination wherever we find it.”

With regards to the protests in London and around the UK, the police said: “We know people want to make their voices heard. The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate.”

The letter added that the novel coronavirus remained “a deadly disease” and urged people to work with police officers and respect restrictions on gatherings.

Tobias Ellwood, a British MP and chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee uploaded a video of protestors from his office window and tweeted: “Moving to see this powerful and peaceful demonstration of solidarity supporting #BlackLivesMatter outside Westminster right now. Scenes like this are happening across the world. Politicians must listen.”

Global movement

On Sunday, thousands of protestors took to Trafalgar Square in central London and outside the US embassy, while hundreds of others marched through the south London districts of Peckham and Brixton on Monday.

The protests in Trafalgar Square led to 23 arrests, according to Sky News, at least three of which were for breaching Covid-19 measures.

BLM protestors have called for further demonstrations in London at Parliament Square on June 6 and the US Embassy on June 7.

The US has seen protests since last week when a video went viral showing Floyd being pinned down by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as he was being arrested.

Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Shortly after, Floyd appeared to lose consciousness, but Chauvin maintained his position on the victim.

He died shortly after being taken to a hospital.

His last words were “I can’t breathe,” which became the slogan of the nationwide protests.

Floyd was killed by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure,” an independent autopsy found Monday.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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