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National newsbits for April 5, 2014

Ferrer Feast

Catholics mark today the Feast of Saint Vincent Ferrer, known as the greatest Dominican preacher.The Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer, a Pontifical religious institution, as well as several parishes and seminaries in many parts of the world including the Philippines, will hold commemorative masses in honor of the well-loved Spanish priest. In the country, festivities and other commemorative rites will be held in Tanauan, Leyte; Bool District, Tagbilaran City; Jamindan and Casanayan, Capiz; Leganes, Iloilo City; Bayambang, Pangasinan; and Bonifacio, Misamis Occidental. St. Vincent was known for his intense devotion to Jesus and the Blessed Mother. He fasted without fail on Wednesdays and Saturdays and was known for his great love and concern for the poor. (Christina I. Hermoso)


Texting H.I.V.

Now, information on HIV and AIDS is just a text message away. Health authorities are capitalizing on text messaging as an important tool to educate the masses, the youth in particular, about HIV and AIDS. Mobile users can access the free service by texting the word “HIV” to 8504. A series of messages and interactive voice responses will then guide users to choose whether they are after information and referral services, counseling services, testing services or other related programs. The program is a partnership between the Philippine NGO Support Program (PNGOSP), Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) and mobile service provider Globe Telecommunications. Patients will be linked to these NGOs who offer services related to the treatment of HIV and AIDS. (Jenny F. Manongdo)


Online ‘Ecstasy’

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) nabbed an online merchant allegedly selling the prohibited drug known as ecstasy last March 23. A joint media statement by BOC and PDEA named the suspect as Prabhjot Singh Gill, who was arrested following a buy-bust operation at his condominium unit along Taft Avenue in Manila. The law enforcers said Gill is a “big-time” supplier and distributor of ecstasy or “E” in the country. The “E” pill is known to be popular among young club patrons and partygoers for its “mood-enhancing” properties. The website said the “E” pill could lead to increase in heart rate and blood pressure, dehydration and kidney and liver damage. (Jenny F. Manongdo)


Wage Hike

With only a few weeks before Labor Day, a militant labor group is now pushing for the passage of a bill, which will grant workers with a “significant” wage hike. Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairperson Elmer Labog said the passage of House Bill 257 or the P125 Wage Hike Bill will provide employees with the additional income to cope with rising prices. He issued the statement after alleging that the government and some organizations are issuing studies and policies to “demonize” the minimum wage. The labor leader cited a statement from Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which claims that minimum wage rates in the country are hindering the growth of businesses in the country. (Samuel P. Medenilla)


Bike-Friendly Roads

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon yesterday urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and heads of local government units (LGUs) to make major roads and thoroughfares bike-friendly. The Senate leader said it is high time the government moves to make the road conducive to bikers and other pedestrians. Non-motorized forms of travel, he said, can help alleviate the country’s air pollution woes.  (Hannah L. Torregoza)