Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 01 November 2017

64 cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Sixty four cities from 44 countries have been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities by Director-General, Irina Bokova. They join a Network at the frontline of UNESCO’s efforts to foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development. This network attracts growing interest from local authorities.
“These new designations showcase an enhanced diversity in city profiles and geographical balance, with 19 cities from countries not previously represented in the Network” declared the Director-General. She added, “The cooperation framework proposed to foster candidate cities from the Africa region – a UNESCO Global Priority – has been a true success with 9 African cities now joining the Network.”
The new 64 UNESCO Creative Cities are:
Alba (Italy) – Gastronomy
Almaty (Kazakhstan) – Music
Amarante (Portugal) – Music
Auckland (New Zealand) – Music
Baguio City (Philippines) – Crafts and Folk Art
Barcelos (Portugal) – Crafts and Folk Art
Braga (Portugal) – Media Arts
Brasilia (Brazil) – Design
Bristol (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – Film
Brno (Czechia) – Music
Bucheon (Republic of Korea) – Literature
Buenaventura (Colombia) – Gastronomy
Cairo (Egypt) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cape Town (South Africa) – Design
Carrara (Italy) – Crafts and Folk Art
Changsha (China) – Media Arts
Chennai (India) – Music
Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Crafts and Folk Art
Chordeleg (Ecuador) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cochabamba (Bolivia [Plurinational State of]) – Gastronomy
Daegu Metropolitan City (Republic of Korea) – Music
Dubai (United Arab Emirates) – Design
Durban (South Africa) – Literature
Frutillar (Chile) – Music
Gabrovo (Bulgaria) – Crafts and Folk Art
[City of] Greater Geelong (Australia) – Design
Guadalajara (Mexico) – Media Arts
Hatay Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey) – Gastronomy
Istanbul (Turkey) – Design
João Pessoa (Brazil) – Crafts and Folk Art
Kansas City (United States of America) – Music
Kolding (Denmark) – Design
Kortrijk (Belgium) – Design
Košice (Slovakia) – Media Arts
Kütahya (Turkey) – Crafts and Folk Art
Lillehammer (Norway) – Literature
Limoges (France) – Crafts and Folk Art
Łódź (Poland) – Film
Macao Special Administrative Region, China (Associate Member, UNESCO) – Gastronomy
Madaba (Jordan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Manchester (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – Literature
Mexico City (Mexico) – Design
Milan (Italy) – Literature
Morelia (Mexico) – Music
Norrköping (Sweden) – Music
Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) – Crafts and Folk Art
Panama City (Panama) – Gastronomy
Paraty (Brazil) – Gastronomy
Pesaro (Italy) – Music
Porto-Novo (Benin) – Crafts and Folk Art
Praia (Cabo Verde) – Music
Qingdao (China) – Film
Québec City (Canada) – Literature
San Antonio (United States of America) – Gastronomy
Seattle (United States of America) – Literature
Sheki (Azerbaijan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Sokodé (Togo) – Crafts and Folk Art
Terrassa (Spain) – Film
Tétouan (Morocco) – Crafts and Folk Art
Toronto (Canada) – Media Arts
Tunis (Tunisia) – Crafts and Folk Art
Utrecht (Netherlands) – Literature
Wuhan (China) – Design
Yamagata City (Japan) – Film
Since 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network highlights its members’ creativity within seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. It now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries.
While differing geographically, demographically or economically, all Creative Cities commit to develop and exchange innovative best practices to promote creative industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies.
Within the framework of the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, the Network provides a platform for cities to demonstrate culture’s role as an enabler for building sustainable cities.
The next Annual Meeting of the Creative Cities Network is scheduled to take place in Krakow and Katowice (Poland) in June 2018. –UNESCO

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105 undocumented OFWs repatriated from UAE

A total of 105 OFWs arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday after spending years being undocumented in the United Arab Emirates, GMA News' Trisha Zafra reported on Balitanghali.
The OFWs who arrived via Philippine Airlines flight no. PR657 were victims of illegal recruitment or were abused by their employers while working in Abu Dhabi.
Sara Arriola, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, said this was the biggest batch of distressed OFWs repatriated in 2017 under the Balik Pilipinas, Balik Kabuhayan program.
Prior to this, 700 OFWs with similar cases were sent home in batches from Abu Dhabi.
Each OFW will receive $100 in immediate cash assistance and may apply for a P15,000 livelihood assistance grant as part of the government's reintegration program.
According to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, there are 120 other distressed OFWs left at the POLO shelter in Abu Dhabi that they are trying to repatriate before the holiday season.
Most of the repatriates were forced to seek overseas employment through illegal recruiters to help their families, and were underpaid and overworked once they arrived in the Middle East.
OFWs had to escape their employers and seek refuge with the Abu Dhabi Philippine Overseas Labor Office, where most had to wait for years before they were repatriated.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and OWWA sponsored the flights of the OFWs.
Both agencies are ready to coordinate with other government agencies to bring the OFWs' recruiters to justice should they choose to pursue legal action. — GMA News

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Trillanes on Roque: ‘Parang nasapian ng masamang espirito’

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday hit incoming presidential spokesperson Harry Roque over the latter’s recent remarks to President Rodrigo Duterte’s critics.
“Ito si Cong. Roque, nasama lang kay Duterte, bigla na lang parang nasapian ng masamang espirito,” Trillanes said in a text message to GMA News Online.
Trillanes’ statement was in response to Roque’s remark warning critics of Duterte that he would not take their vilification campaign against the chief executive sitting down.
Trillanes is one of Duterte’s staunchest critics.
Roque had warned Duterte’s detractors that he was ready to counter with adobe bricks and hollow blocks if they would throw stones at the President.
“At binibigyan ko na po ng notice ang mga walang hiya diyan na naninira lamang. Kung dati-rati hindi kayo nababato, ngayon po maghanda na kayo, dahil kapag kayo ay nambato, hindi lang po bato ang itatapon ko sa inyo, hollow blocks,” Roque said.
GMA News Online has sought the comment of Roque to Trillanes’ comment but has yet to respond as of posting time.
But in a Balitanghali report, Roque explained his “threat” against the President’s critics.
“I was speaking to Mocha Uson’s audience, which is different from the audience of this body. I’m talking about individuals who have made it a hobby to lambast the administration,” Roque said.
“I’m not just a spokesperson, but I’m a trained litigator. If I have to, I will defend [the President] with very much passion,” he added.
Duterte announced the appointment of Roque, incumbent Kabayan party-list representative, on October 28. Roque is set to assume his post on November 6.
Roque replaces outgoing presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
“It is clear that the President has very sure instincts and that PS Roque meets his expectations,” Abella earlier said. — GMA News

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Roque: I won’t curse, but I’ll scream a lot

Incoming presidential spokesperson and Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque on Wednesday said he was not the type of person who would curse like President Rodrigo Duterte, but he would scream a lot.
"It's not my nature to curse but I like screaming, and I will scream a lot," Roque said in a report on GMA News TV's Balitanghali on Wednesday.
Roque also said his tandem with Duterte would be "explosive."
"I'm even more controversial than him. So together we will be explosive," he said.
Moreover, Roque also explained his threat to throw hollow blocks at Duterte's critics in a video uploaded by Presidential Communications Operations Office.
"I was speaking to Mocha Uson's audience, which is different from the audience of this body. I'm talking about individuals who have made it a hobby to lambast the administration," he said.
"I'm not just a spokesperson, but I'm a trained litigator. If I have to, I will defend [the President] with very much passion," he added.
Before he entered politics, Roque had made it to the headlines as a human rights advocate.
In a radio interview over the weekend, Roque said he would not change his ways even if Duterte appointed him as his spokesperson.
"Eh napakalaki po ng aking bunganga so iyan ang sabi ko kay Presidente, 'Paano iyan pareho tayong malaki ang mga bibig.' Ang sabi niya, sabi ko sa kaniya, 'Maging liability mo ako.' Ang sabi niya, ‘Okay lang iyan marami akong asset eh,so kahit liability kita,'" he said.
Roque will have his first briefing in Malacañang on Thursday. — GMA News

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Duterte hopes China will honor promise not to build structures in disputed waters

President Rodrigo Duterte is holding on to China’s promise to him that it would not build structures in disputed maritime areas in the West Philippine Sea.
“China has put it on record that near the Pag-asa, where we also have our bay there, the Scarborough Islands [sic], China has committed to us not to build anything there and I hope that they would honor that commitment to us,” he said in a press conference following his arrival in Davao City from a two-day official visit to Japan late Tuesday night.
“I hope and I pray. I do not want to create something here, which is not good for us. For all us,” he added.
Duterte said that he has a plan in case China breaks its promise, but that in the meantime, the best move is to let the diplomats talk.
“I cannot imagine myself getting involved in a violent and almost a suicide action. We are—you can read all the legal treaties there claiming this and claiming that,” he said.
“But the problem, I said, is I do not want to criticize the big powers now because it was really of their own making,” he added.
The President also said that for his part, his commitments made on behalf of a sovereign state were commitments with honor.
“Anything less than that, you lost the respect of… They probably would not have the time to—or anybody inviting us for a talk and about, discuss giving aid and assistance to the country,” he said.
In August, Duterte said that China told him they were not building anything on Sandy Cay, which was near the Philippine-controlled Pag-asa Island.
In February, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that China promised the Philippines that it would not build structures on Scarborough Shoal.
In May, the Philippines and China launched the bilateral consultative mechanism on the sea row. — GMA News

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Two SSS execs in stock trading mess have already resigned –SSS chairman

Two of the four Social Security System (SSS) officials being linked to the alleged profiteering in stock market trading have resigned, SSS chairman Amado Valdez said Wednesday.
In a television interview, Valdez identified the officials who have rendered their resignation as Equities Investment Division chief Reginald Candelaria and Chief Actuary George Ongkeko Jr.
"Mr. Candelaria has already rendered his resignation... I think that is last week," Valdez said. "Mr. Ongkeko rendered his resignation I think a month ago."
Valdez took note that the SSS Commission has approved the resignation of Candelaria but the resignation of Ongkeko was put on hold as he "has to complete the advisory work in connection to the change of charter."
In a separate interview, Valdez told GMA News Online that he sees no connection with the two official's resignation on the ongoing probe in relation to stock trading controversy.
"Wala akong nakikitang relasyon, maybe they just want to have a career change or change in employment. Maaaring nagkataon lang na may nag-file ng complaint," he said.
SSS commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña has filed an administrative complaint against Executive Vice President Rizaldy Capulong, Equities Product Development head Ernesto Francisco Jr., Candelaria, and Ongkeko for allegedly profiting from trading their own stocks with the same stockbrokers who manage the portfolio of the government-run pension fund.
"Kahit nag-file sila ng resignation, they will still be subject to investigation kasi may mga post-termination clearances pang gagawin," Valdez said. "If may unfavorable findings sa investigation then maapektuhan 'yung kanilang separation benefits."
The SSS chairman also clarified that there was no misuse of funds involved in the anomaly but only "conflict of interest."
Asked if SSS officials are prohibited from trading in the stock market, Valdez said, "Hindi naman bawal pero hindi puwede 'yung gagamitin mo 'yung impormasyon na nakuha mo dahil sa trabaho for your personal gain."
Valdez clarified that he is not pre-judging the case pending the results of the investigation. He said the two other officials involved were already suspended from their positions as a standard measure in conducting an investigation.
He also said La Viña, being the complainant, has to inhibit from the probe to give way for an impartial investigation. — GMA News

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Study the law, Sotto tells DOH chief on medical marijuana

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday advised Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to study the law over the latter's position on a proposal allowing the “compassionate use” of medical marijuana.
“He should review RA (Republic Act) 9165,” Sotto said, referring to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“Compassionate use if allowed. No need for a bill...Aralin muna nila yung [RA] 9165,” Sotto added, saying he will object to the position of Duque during the Health Secretary's confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Duque, appointed last week by President Rodrigo Duterte, said he is in favor of medical marijuana for “compassionate use.” Duque was referring to House Bill 180 or otherwise known as the proposed Philippine Medical Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.
The proposal, approved at the House committee level last month, seeks to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Senator Gringo Honasan, chairman of the CA health committee, echoed the position of Sotto, saying the compassionate use of marijuana is “already in the law.”
“Technically, it's already in the law that with a doctor's certification that it's for medical/compassionate use, it is allowed,” Honasan said in a text message.
RA 9165 states that the government should “achieve a balance in the national drug control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated with adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs.”
Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate health committee, meanwhile, said he is “open” to the proposal legalizing marijuana for medical use.
“If it will help in saving lives, why not? As long as parameters are in place to prevent its abuse, I am open to the idea,” Ejercito said.
“Of course, any substance abuse is a concern. We need to put safeguards to prevent abuse,” he added.
A bill filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros seeking to provide a comprehensive public health approach to the country's drug-related policy is also proposing the use of marijuana upon the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Under the proposal of Hontiveros, “the delivery, possession, transfer, transportation, or use of cannabis and other dangerous drugs intended for medical use or to treat or alleviate a patient’s medical condition or symptoms associated with his or her debilitating disease...shall be allowed upon application to and approval of the Food and Drug Administration.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, warned of users who could take advantage of a policy allowing medical marijuana.
“We currently have very weak enforcement against the illegal drug trade. Because of this inherent weakness, unscrupulous users will take advantage of this liberal policy on marijuana use to make money and sell it to the market,” Gatchalian said in a text message. — GMA News

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'Motorcycle tourism' seen to link riders in Calabarzon-proposed routes

STA ROSA, Laguna -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) plans to link bike riders all over Luzon in its proposed route loops in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas. Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon) as it partnered with several motorcycle clubs in the Philippines.
At the Breakfast Ride Season 2 event in Sta Rosa, Laguna on Sunday, DOT Region 4-A Director Rebecca Villanueva-Labit bared one of their ride loops for Calabarzon, which will start from Manila to Antipolo, going to Tanay, Morong, San Mateo, Pililia (all in Rizal), Quezon and Batangas.
Labit said there would be a series of meeting with the Breakfast Ride community to ink a deal, not only for tourism but also for volunteerism.
"There are three routes but there will be more," she said. "Very soon, we will be having a meeting, probably (sign agreement) early next year."
Raymon Gabriel, founder of Together We Ride, the group that organized the Breakfast Ride said they have more than 2,000 members in their community.
Gabriel noted that motorcycle tourism is a "growing industry" which aims to promote a sustainable way of traveling the whole country.
"Kung mapapasigla natin ito, bakit ka pa mage-eroplano, kung kaya mo naman mag-motor? Bakit ka pa sasakay ng bus, kaya mo namang mag-motor? Dito, nationwide, lumalaki na yung industry," he said.
"By doing this, since we travel nationwide, we are able to showcase the culture and heritage of a certain landmark we visit," he added.
Gabriel said the DOT has been eyeing motorcycle tourism through Breakfast Ride for almost a year.
"Region 4-A, particularly Ms. Labit wants to execute a good motorcycle tourism campaign here. Gagawa na kami ng ride to show na hindi lang kami puro kain, this time ipapakita namin iba't ibang lugar with all the riders."
“We've done this in Mindanao, marami ring um-attend, now (it) will happen around the Philippines, that's one thing for sure," he said.(PNA)

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Persistent threats fuel urgency to save migratory species

MANILA -- An expert has raised the urgency for stronger international cooperation on conserving migratory species worldwide.
There must be better synergy on the matter as habitat destruction, pollution, live catching and other dangers continue to threaten the survival of these species, noted Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) Executive Secretary Dr. Bradnee Chambers.
"This is critical for species that migrate through international borders," he said at the CMS' 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) in Metro Manila.
Further raising public awareness on migratory species' benefits and the threats they face will complement the international cooperation that countries are doing through CMS, Chambers said.
With increased public awareness and understanding of the matter, he said there's more potential for people to help conserve migratory species.
Migratory species are animals that cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries in response to seasons, availability of food or need to reproduce, said the Philippines' Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).
"Animal migration can be found in all major animal groups," BMB added.
Experts cited food, pollination and pest control as among migratory species' benefits.
Such species also have potential as medicinal sources and eco-tourism draws, they said.
Countries must elevate conservation efforts through CMS to continue benefiting from services that migratory species provide, Dr. Chambers said.
CMS is an inter-governmental treaty under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) that provides the global platform for conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.
Parties to CMS have agreed to protect and conserve migratory species, particularly those at high risk of extinction.
"We have a great deal to do before saying migratory species are thriving," said Chambers, adding that he has not yet seen the return of some organisms' population.
“Their future is our future -- sustainable development for wildlife and people” is the CMS COP 12's theme and highlights the link between migratory species' conservation and sustainable development.
The COP 12, CMS' first in Asia, began last October 23.
The Philippines is seeking international collaboration on better protection for two migratory birds under threat that pass through this country while traveling along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
The population of the Christmas Island frigatebird (scientific name 'Fregata andrewsi') and Yellow bunting (scientific name 'Emberiza sulphurata') is declining due to habitat loss and other factors, said chief science research specialist Dr. Simplicia Pasicolan of the Philippine environment department's Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.
Both birds are among migratory species the Philippines has proposed for inclusion in CMS' appendices to boost their protection, she noted.
Pasicolan said the Philippines aims to collaborate with Australia as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other range countries where substantial numbers of Christmas Island frigatebird occur.
She noted the Philippines also aims to collaborate with Japan on a concerted action plan to protect the Yellow bunting.
Yellow buntings breed in Japan and winter mainly in the Philippines, she said.
The Christmas Island frigatebird and Yellow bunting are already considered critically endangered and vulnerable, respectively, under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
IUCN's Red List is recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. (PNA)

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Pampanga partners with DTI, DOLE to boost sampaguita industry

LUBAO, Pampanga -- The provincial government of Pampanga, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), will help boost the sampaguita industry in the towns of Floridablanca, Guagua, and Lubao.
Governor Lilia Pineda, during a consultative meeting with sampaguita growers on Thursday, said they agreed to support the sampaguita growers in terms of financial and training that could ensure the growth of the industry.
Pineda said the towns of Lubao, Guagua and Floridablanca are fortunate that sampaguita thrives in the areas.
"Sampaguita normally grows in Laguna, Bulacan and here in Pampanga. Because of that, we need to flourish the industry," she said.
The governor said the provincial government will assist the marginalized farmers in funding the expenses for planting sampaguita, with the necessary spray and fertilizer that could enhance its productivity.
Arlene Tolentino, provincial director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), meanwhile, asked the sampaguita growers to form a group or an association and propose plans for the department's integrated livelihood program to help ensure its sustainability in the labor market.
Meanwhile, DTI specialist Alex InsaCruz said their agency will provide training to the growers through the provincial agriculturist. (PNA)

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