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National Newsbits for February 8,2014

SPECIAL BLESSING

The annual special blessing of the sick shall be held at 5:30 p.m. today at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Kanlaon Street, Quezon City. The event marks the World Day of the Sick which will be observed on Feb. 11 coinciding with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Other events to be held at the shrine tomorrow include a penitential procession at 4:30 a.m. and a memorial mass for the deceased members of the Archcon fraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes. World Day of the Sick was instituted by Blessed John Paul II on May 13, 1992 to show love, compassion, and care for the sick, the aged, the disabled, and the dying. This year’s theme was taken from 1 John 3:16, “Faith and Charity: We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another.” (Christina I. Hermoso)

COMELEC FAIR

To find potential alternatives to the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the May 2016 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to hold a “suppliers’ trade fair” which may take place within the next two months. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) already advised them of the plan to explore the possibility of having a newer, better automated election system that can be used for the 2016 presidential elections. “They (CAC) will be inviting suppliers and ask them to showcase if they have new technologies that can be used for elections,” he said. “We are already asking the CAC to give us their recommendation. But they said they want to hold a trade fair first before coming up with a recommendation,” said Brillantes. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

B.I. AUTOMATION

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will purchase state-of-the-art electronic equipment to improve the services to international travelers and detect the entry and exit of foreign and local criminals. Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison said P71-million has been allocated for acquiring new equipment and gadgets. “We will upgrade and modernize our border control system to make sure that our immigration officers are always efficient and proficient in their job as gatekeepers of the country,” he said. The BI chief said the P71-million automation project will involve the purchase of 220 passport readers, 200 workstations, 440 fingerprint scanners, 350 high definition webcams, and 10 document readers. These will be distributed to international airports and seaports on or before June this year. (Jun Ramirez)

IRRADIATION FACILITY

A nuclear research and application facility is rising at the compound of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) in Diliman, Quezon City. PNRI, one of 20 attached agencies of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), has received P135-million in financial assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United States, Japan, and DOST for the establishment of the Electron Beam (EB) Irradiation Facility in Diliman. The P135-million funding will also pay for human resource and research and development, said Luvimina Lanuza, head of the PNRI Irradiation Services. PNRI said the 2.5 MeV EB accelerator will become the country’s first. It will be used for “full-scale research and development and semi-commercial E-beam services.” (Edd K. Usman)