Friday, October 14, 2011

Reporting situations of violence and other emergencies

By Ben Cal

More than 50 senior editors and media executives from the Asia-Pacific region will gather here on Friday for a daylong discussion on reporting situations of violence and other emergencies sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This will be the first time such conference will be held in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss reporting on situations of violence and other emergencies.

This conference entitled "Reporting on Violence and Emergencies" will be held on at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City.

One of Asia's best-known journalists, Veronica Pedrosa, a Filipina, of Al Jazeera English, will deliver the keynote address on "The role of social media in contemporary conflicts."

Media representatives will come from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

The purpose of the high-level discussions is to share best practices and provide recommendations on three themes: reporting on violence and emergencies; role of media in protecting vulnerable people; and the safety of journalists.

ICRC said a joint declaration from the participants may be expected at the conclusion of the conference with the aim of addressing opportunities and challenges for the media in their coverage of violence, emergencies and humanitarian issues.

"The media in East Asian, South-East Asian and Pacific countries represent a major and continuously growing source of influence worldwide, and we want to hear their views," said Alain Aeschlimann, the ICRC's head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific.

Philippine Government Auditors Should Uncover Anomaly

Vice President Jejomar Binay is encouraging government auditors to report any irregularity that they may uncover in the performance of their duties.

"Never hesitate to bring an irregularity to our attention, regardless of who your most thorough findings reveal to be at fault. If you need the mantle of the government's protection, come to us and we will stand for you as you heroically stand for the law," he said to some 500 internal auditors and officials and employees from different government agencies attending the Association of Government Internal Auditors' (AGIA) Annual National Convention in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Moreover, the Vice President supported the AGIA's call to institutionalize the Internal Audit Service (IAS) across all government units, saying "the taxes and funds paid freely by a trusting public deserve no less than the most diligent care as outlined by law."

"I urge all the members of the AGIA to further spur the adoption of the IAS by all agencies, through continuous exchanges with agency heads on how the IAS can effectively be setup and implemented," he said.

Binay said "a system of checks and balances is the hallmark of democracy and the prerequisite of good governance" and added that good governance was "a product of efficient and effective internal auditing."

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PNP Chopper Scandal of Mike Arroyo

By Lilybeth G. Ison

In view of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the chopper controversy, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday said the House of Representatives is leaving it up to the proper body to decide on the fate of Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo in connection with his involvement on the helicopter sale controversy to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"If they (Senate Blue Ribbon) have the evidence, they can include them in the case... Here in the House, what is important is what did you do (in) this Congress and not what you did in the last years," said Belmonte in a news conference.

Senators Teofisto Guingona, Koko Pimentel, and Panfilo Lacson earlier filed a complaint against former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo and some Philippine National Police (PNP) officials before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly conspiring when second-hand helicopters were sold as brand new to the PNP in 2009.

In a three-page letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the senators referred for preliminary investigation the findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Guingona, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, also asked the Ombudsman to investigate Mike Arroyo's brother Iggy Arroyo for criminal liability for allegedly covering up the former First Gentleman in the chopper controversy.

Hostage Drama in a Cavite Bank

A four-hour hostage drama ended peacefully shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday after four armed robbers released eight hostages at a bank in Bacoor, Cavite and surrendered peacefully to policemen, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said the suspects already surrendered at 2:44 p.m. and all hostages were safely released.

Cruz said the four gunmen robbed the Masuerte Rural Bank near a police station in Bacoor, Cavite at 11 a.m.

Taken hostage were five bank employees and three depositors. Negotiations were earlier held between the PNP and suspects who have demanded for a getaway car.

Training Day - Manny Pacquiao vs Marquez

World Boxing Organization welterweight kingpin Manny Pacquiao begun picking up what he started in the Philippines by plunging in serious training both inside the gym and on the road.

After two days at the Wild Card Gym, owned by trainer Freddie Roach, consisting of sparring Monday and stamina-building conditioning regimen, Pacquiao, who is readying himself to defend his 147-pound belt against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez next month visited the mountainous Griffith Park Wednesday where he will do his daily road grind to makeup for what typhoons denied him in Baguio City.

Supervising the early morning run was strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza with assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri assisting.

Also joining the 20-minute early morning run was younger brother and former fighter himself Bobby Pacquiao, who met the pound-for-pound king and his favorite pet Pacman atop the hill.

"It was a good run. Manny showed no sign of rustiness despite four days of inactivity on the road starting when we left Manila last Saturday," Ariza said in an overseas interview with this writer.

"He's in high spirit. I really don't see any problem putting him in a very fighting shape comes November 12," the 26-year-old former baseball player in his hometown Bogota Colombia, said. "He's always ahead of everybody even in scaling the hills."

"As Freddie and I have been saying, the purpose of this L.A. phase of preparations is to pickup on strength training we were not able to achieve in Baguio, but as I see Manny responds to what we've lined up for him to do, we'll have no problem," Ariza, who claimed he used to box an amateur but didn't excel in it, asserted.

Separation Pay for PAL Workers

Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it will start releasing the P2.6-billion separation package on Friday for its workers from three non-core units whose functions were outsourced to third-party service providers last October 1.

In a statement, PAL said the first batch to receive the package are employees who did not join the September 27 wildcat strike and are now working for PAL's service providers.

To follow are those who declined the job offer but did not participate in the work stoppage – they will receive their checks starting October 15.

"Per instructions of PAL management, we will give priority to employees who heeded PAL's appeal for a smooth and orderly implementation of the spin-off/outsourcing program," Cielo Villaluna, PAL spokesperson said.

"Management is grateful for their dedication and loyalty and for honoring calls for cooperation during the transition period," she said.

Of the more than 2,300 recipients of the retirement package, more than 600 transferred to the service providers while nearly 1,700 workers chose not to join PAL's third party contractors.

Majority of the workers shall receive an average of close to P800,000 in separation pay, which includes 125 percent of their monthly salary for every year of service, P100,000 gratuity pay and 100 percent converted-to-cash accrued vacation and sick leaves.

Per PAL Huma Resource Department records, more than 28 percent will receive P1 million and above; 37 percent will get between P750,000 and P1 million; and 22 percent below P500,000.

The highest package reached P2.4 million, while those who only served PAL for a minimum of one year will receive about P120,000. The cash component of the benefits will be tax-free.

Freshwater sardine solely sourced from Taal Lake

by Catherine Teves

Researchers discovered the same morphological and genetic make-up for 'tawilis' (Sardinella tawilis) - the world's only known freshwater sardine solely sourced from Taal Lake in southern Luzon's Batangas province - and the Sardinella hualiensis fish inhabiting marine waters off northern Luzon's Aparri municipality in Cagayan province and harvested there as food.

"Our team's morphological and genetic findings indicate 'tawilis' and S. hualiensis are one and the same specie," said National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) scientist Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos who reported the discovery this week during the agency's scientific conference in Metro Manila.

He's convinced the evidence already warrants classification of both sardines as one specie only but acknowledged this matter is still open to scientific debate.

The discovery is fueling hope for better managing the commercially important but dwindling 'tawilis,' however.

"That's the initial reaction to our discovery as 'tawilis' is under fishing pressure already," Santos said.

National Fisheries Biological Center, Officer-in-Charge Frederick Muyot presented during the conference data showing that 'tawilis' production continuously shrank after 1998, dipping to some 107 metric tons (MTs) in 2010.

Last year's 'tawilis' production volume is merely about a tenth of the peak 1,120 MT output for this fish in 1998, the data also show.