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National Newsbits for June 11, 2014


The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has identified tourism as one of the best assets of the Philippines as it makes its way to recovery and sustainable growth after being hit by two major natural disasters last year. “The Philippine people were tested in times of difficulty and they have earned the respect of the whole world by demonstrating greatest courage and confidence,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai following a trip to the Philippines to review the progress of recovery of Bohol from the devastating October 2013 earthquake and to present a recovery plan for the area’s tourism sector. Developed by UNWTO with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan is a roadmap to support the recovery of Bohol’s tourism sector. (Roy C. Mabasa)


Health advocates yesterday said the tobacco industry should not have any part in the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-T) which will oversee the implementation of the Graphic health warnings bill. “They have to remove the tobacco industry representative in the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-T) and protect this bill from continuous interference from tobacco industry,” Atty. Ipat Luna, trustee of the Health Justice Philippines, said in a press conference yesterday. Luna said also they will not accept graphic signs occupying less than 50 percent of the packaging of cigarette packs. The House version of the bill calls for health warning signs occupying just 40 percent of cigarette packaging.  (Jenny F. Manongdo)


The newly hired counsels of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan intends to pursue their client’s bail petition in connection with the “Maguindanao Massacre’’ case. Zaldy’s lawyers from Heffron Esguerra Dy and De Jesus (HEDJ) law firm have manifested in open court their intention to file a supplemental motion to the bail petition of their client. However, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes sees no need for the motion as Zaldy will be given the opportunity to present witnesses to support the bail petition. HEDJ has replaced the Fortun Narvasa & Salazar (FNS) law firm on June 2 as lead counsels for Zaldy Ampatuan. But FNS law firm still handles the case for Ampatuan’s brother Andal Jr. and their father Andal Sr. In a statement, HEDJ said that their “professional engagement in this case is the decision of the client.”  (Chito Chavez)


Taiwan has donated hundreds of tons of rice to the Eastern Visayas provinces of Leyte, Western and Eastern Samar devastated by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.  Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Representative in the Philippines Raymond L.S. Wang personally turned over the donation in a ceremony at the House of Representatives. The rice donation follows the $1.1 million (approximately P48 million) financial aid extended earlier this month by Taiwan, through TECO, to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the agency’s rehabilitation efforts,  and $400,4000 (P17 million) to the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation in the Philippines, a charity foundation whose principals are based in Taiwan.  (Roy C. Mabasa)