PNP sees peaceful polls Created on February 25, 2013, 6:59 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) is anticipating peaceful May 13 elections due to the decrease in the number of areas with intense political rivalries nationwide.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima said that the National Task Force SAFE (Secure and Fair Elections) 2013 reported that there was an almost 50 percent reduction of hotly contested elective positions in various parts of the country.

Task Force SAFE said from the previous 196 hotly contested elective positions, there are now only 103 elective positions with intense political rivalries.

Purisima said intense political rivalries were the usual cause of violence during elections, and with the reduction of elective positions with intense political rivalries the police expect a decrease in poll-related violence.

The decline in elective positions with intense political rivalries could be attributed to the forging of alliances among local political clans and the retirement of local officials.

12 political parties vying to become majority, minority parties Created on February 25, 2013, 6:58 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines - Ten major national parties and two major local parties are vying to be declared the dominant majority and minority party in the coming May elections.

In a resolution, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) directed the 12 competing political parties to appear on Thursday for a hearing on their petition for accreditation as dominant majority and dominant minority party.

Leading the petitions are the administration Liberal Party and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.

Former administration party Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat asked the Comelec to be declared the dominant minority party, while the Nationalist People’s Coalition filed a petition for accreditation to be named the major national party.

The Nationalista Party seeks to be named among the six major political parties in the coming elections.

Other petitioners include the Kusog Banyohanon, KAMBILAN, United Negros Alliance, HUGPONG, National Unity Party, Partido Abe Kapampangan and Arangkada.

The Comelec earlier asked the 10 major political parties and two major local parties to file a verified petition for accreditation.

Under the Poll Automation Law, the dominant majority and minority parties will get original copies of election returns from the Comelec.

The poll body said electronically transmitted precinct results shall also be given to the dominant majority and minority parties.

Printed copies of the election returns and certificate of canvass shall also be given to the 10 accredited major national parties and accredited major local parties.

Aside from getting copies of the election returns, those who will be declared dominant majority and minority parties are assured that their official watchers will be given priority in cramped precincts.


1st Davao bio-medical waste facility launched Created on February 22, 2013, 7:26 am Posted by nup

THE first bio-medical waste facility in Davao City is ready to operate starting next week after it was formally opened Thursday in its location near the sanitary landfill in New Carmen, Tugbok District.

Ricky S. Dayot, vice president for engineering, research and development of RAD Green Solutions, said they will start collecting medical wastes -- infectious, pathological wastes and sharps -- from hospitals in the city to address the need especially for those who do not have their own medical waste treatment facility.

The RAD Green Solutions has put on two pyroclave facilities, with each one having the capacity to process 1.5 tons of medical wastes per day.

Dayot said pyrolisis is a non-burn technology that would process medical wastes such as body parts and turn the materials to charcoal.

"Body parts will decompose in the absence of oxygen," he said, adding that 20 percent of medical wastes are body parts.

On the other hand, Dayot said that if fluids are expose to high heat, 200 percent fluids will be vaporized leaving the plastics.

Dayot also said sharps, which include needles, syringes, scalpels, saws, blades and infusion sets, will be sterilized and shredded.

Dayot said medical wastes will be collected everyday using refrigerated vans and charging P20 per kilo. Containers, on the other hand, will be free of charge.

"Main process is to minimize spread of disease," he said.

Based on the procedural manual of the Health department, a total of eight operators of the facility are required to wear cover-all safety uniform, polyethylene gloves, protective visors, safety helmets and respirators every time they process.

Meanwhile, collectors will put on gloves and protective visors.

Erriberto P. Barriga Jr., executive vice president of Information and Communication Technology-Davao and consultant of RAD, said the end product of the processed wastes goes back to the landfill.

"The good thing about this facility is (it is housed) right along the landfill," Barriga said.

Through this, he said hospitals will be saving a lot more than the usual process.

Dolly Remojo, of City Environment and Natural Resources, said the pyroclave facility contributes a lot in helping the city address its dilemma in disposal of medical waste.

She said the landfill is designed only for residual wastes.

Davao City produces 2.5 tons of medical wastes daily.

U.S. Navy to Scrap Vessel Stuck on Philippine Reef Created on February 22, 2013, 7:21 am Posted by nup

MANILA — The United States Navy has decided to scrap the 7 million minesweeper stuck on an environmentally sensitive Philippine reef, a spokesman said on Thursday, while Philippine officials examined potential legal violations and fines to be levied against the United States. 

“The plan is to dismantle the ship into three pieces and remove the sections by crane,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman, a Navy public affairs officer temporarily based at the American Embassy in Manila.

The complete loss of a Navy ship due to an accident during peace time “is a rarity,” Commander Stockman said.

The ship, the 224-foot U.S.S. Guardian, struck the Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco World Heritage site in the southern Philippines, on Jan. 17. According to Unesco, the reefs are home to more than 350 species of coral and almost 500 types of fish, including a wide variety of creatures, like whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles.

The Navy is investigating the cause of the incident, including the possibility that inaccurate digital navigation charts were a factor.

Trying to revive Manila's toxic river heart Created on February 20, 2013, 2:03 am Posted by nup

Boys shout in delight as they flip backwards off a bridge. Fishermen quietly cast rods out. They are joyful acts that should belong to an earlier era, before the Philippines' Pasig River turned toxic.

Yet some slum dwellers in Manila whose shanty homes choke the river and its tributaries have little choice but to live as if the national capital's most important waterway is clean.

"It's hot. We have no other place to swim and escape the heat," 16-year-old Christian Ivanes said as he took a break from jumping off a bridge near the mouth of the river with his friends.

Ivanes, his seven siblings and a few hundred other illegal squatters live under the bridge in stilt houses made of junk wood and plastic, their existence as desperate as any in an Asian city infamous for its brutal poverty.

Shopping from the community stall at high tide requires wading ankle-deep through plastic wrappers and other garbage that is floating in black water. A thick stench rises with strong hints of untreated sewage and industrial waste.

"There have been people who have gone into this with an open wound and died," said Gina Lopez, a prominent environment campaigner who is leading the latest government drive to clean up the Pasig.

The national government is spending 10 billion pesos (0 million) a year to transform the waterway and its 47 tributaries, according to Lopez, chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

Half the money is being spent on trying to relocate about 300,000 squatters who live directly along the banks of the river and tributaries, known locally as esteros.

"As long as there are illegal dwellers living along the estero, using the place as their toilets and dumping garbage, there's no clean-up that can happen. So that's the beginning," Lopez said.

The commission has cleared and rehabilitated four esteros since 2010, when President Benigno Aquino took power and implemented the programme, according to Lopez.

It is aiming to start work on 16 more this year, then have all the esteros as well as the Pasig transformed by the time Aquino ends his term in 2016.

At Estero de Paco, a 2.9-kilometre (1.8-mile) tributary that a few years ago was one of the most polluted in the city, shanty homes have been replaced with tree-lined boardwalks while water-treatment machines now nestle amid plants.

The more than 1,300 families, or roughly 6,500 squatters, who lived within three metres (10 feet) of the channel have been relocated, while vendors at a nearby market have stopped dumping garbage into the water.

Programmes with local water companies to improve sewage facilities have also been implemented.

Flooding that regularly hits the area has lessened because drains are not blocked by garbage, according to Lopez, and the residents who have remained beyond the three-metre clearance zone appear much happier.

"It's like living in a subdivision now," said Evelyn Quitala, 51, who has called Estero de Paco home all her life and runs a small shop from her two-storey concrete home.

"We can now jog here along the footpath and our children don't have to go somewhere else to play... and it is no longer smelly."

Estero de Paco is being used as a template for cleaning up the entire Pasig river system.

Nevertheless, while the estero may look better, the water remains badly polluted, according to Javier Coloma Brotons, an urban development specialist at the Asian Development Bank who is involved in cleaning up the tributary.

And although the rehabilitation commission is aiming for a major transformation of the entire water system within just three years, Coloma Brotons cautioned the project could take decades to complete.

He said many of the city's more than 12 million residents polluted the waters in some way.

Among the myriad of problems he cited were the lack of sewage treatment plants and trained people to maintain them, countless small businesses that dump waste into the water, and polluting industries upstream.

Coloma Brotons also pointed out that the 27-kilometre Pasig River -- which connects Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, with Manila Bay -- is tidal.

This means pollution from the vast Manila Bay, including waste from huge ports, washes back up the river.

"To clean up the river, you also have to address problems with the bay," Coloma Brotons said.

Adding to the complexity is the general chaos of the Philippine political system, which makes it extremely difficult for a co-ordinated approach from many government branches and vested interests.

Such issues have led to repeated and costly failures to transform the Pasig.

The national government launched its first project to rehabilitate the Pasig in 1989, and the rehabilitation commission was formed 10 years later with a mandate to completely transform the waterway by 2014.

Even now, few people expect the government to be able to relocate 300,000 slum dwellers by 2016, as similar programmes for other shanty towns across Manila have repeatedly failed over recent years.

People are determined to stay in the slums despite the atrocious conditions because they are close to jobs, with relocation sites typically many hours' commute from Manila.

Nevertheless Lopez insists a firm commitment from the Aquino administration means the latest clean-up campaign will work.

"I believe Manila can be interlinked and interlaced with waterways that are clean and avenues for recreation," she said.




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