National newsbits for July 1, 2014
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUIBANG
Hundreds of Marian devotees and pilgrims will gather today at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation in Barangay Guibang in Gamu, Isabela, in celebration of the feast of the miraculous Our Lady of Guibang. The last of the nine-day novena mass, which began last June 23 will be held today. Tomorrow, Ilagan (Isabela) Bishop Joseph Nacua will preside over a concelebrated mass at the shrine in honorof Our Lady at 8 a.m. The well-venerated image of Our Lady was canonically crowned by then Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Carmine Rocco in May 1973. In January 1986, Guibang Church became a national shrine. According to tradition, a young man brought the image of Our Lady to the hut of a poor couple named Francisco Noe and Maria Noble. After praying the whole night, the couple noticed an unusually sweet fragrance in their hut at dawn. They later discovered that the fragrance, which lasted for several days, came from the image of the Holy Mother. (Christina I. Hermoso)
TOBACCO FARMERS, BEWARE!
Warning that planting tobacco gives more health risks than benefits, the Department of Health (DOH) has asked tobacco farmers to look for another source of income. Tobacco farmers are being exposed to strong chemicals that are found in the pesticides and fertilizers which cause poisoning, irritation to skin and eyes, kidney problems, and mental illness, the DOH said. About 80 percent of tobacco farmers, who are between 21 to 60 years old experience dizziness, vomiting, cough, headache and flu, it said. In addition, most of these farmers are smokers, too, which would even make them more vulnerable to diseases. The DOH said those who hold wet tobacco leaves are also prone to Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS), which weakens their immune system, giving them headache, and difficulties in breathing. (Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce)
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has exempted livestock and poultry feeds and other ingredients used in the manufacture of finished products from the payment of value-added tax (VAT). Under Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 55-2014 signed last week, BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said the same tax exemption privilege is also extended on the sale or importation of fertilizers, seeds, seedlings, fingerlings, fish and prawn. She said, however, that the tax exemption does not cover so-called specialty feeds. The items refer to non-agricultural feeds or food for race horses, fighting cocks, acquarium fishes, zoo animals and other animals considered as pets. (Jun Ramirez
The Canadian government is providing $800,000 in new humanitarian assistance funding to benefit thousands of people living in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. In a statement, Canadian Ambassador to Manila Neil Reeder, the funding will be channeled to a project of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to ensure that conflict-affected families in the region will have access to improved temporary shelter conditions, access to safe drinking water, improved access to sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as improved nutrition. “We continue to build on our strong ties with the Philippines with this assistance,” he said, naming the Philippines one of its “countries of focus” in terms of development assistance. (Roy C. Mabasa)