UN concerned over Philippines tobacco fair

The United Nations has expressed concern that the Philippines could encourage smoking by hosting one of the world’s biggest tobacco trade shows, a health official said Tuesday.

UN agencies in the Philippines have written to President Benigno Aquino citing Manila’s treaty pledge to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, World Health Organization senior health adviser Eigil Sorensen said.

The ProTobEx Asia show, described on its website as featuring the latest innovations in processing, cigarette making and packaging, will be held at an indoor exhibition hall in the Pasay district of Manila from March 20-22.
“It’s important that there is no official endorsement by the government of the tobacco event,” Sorensen told AFP.

He praised the steps being taken by the Philippine government to curb tobacco use but said more needs to be done. Sorensen noted that it was the second straight year that the Philippines was hosting the annual tobacco fair, which the WHO says gathers some of the world’s biggest tobacco manufacturers and advertisers.

“If there is a government endorsement, it might be seen as a mixed signal,” he added.
Sorensen took note of the significant reduction in the number of Filipino youth smokers, to one in 10 in 2011 compared to two in 10 four years earlier.

Last year the legislature passed a new law substantially raising tobacco taxes to help finance the government’s health care program. However, Sorensen said 14 million Filipinos out of the nearly 100 million population smoked daily, leading to 10 deaths by the hour from tobacco-related diseases.

“Despite the significant decrease in the prevalence of smoking among youths 13 to 15 years old, the tobacco epidemic in the country remains a serious issue,” Sorensen added.
“The Philippines has a vibrant tobacco industry. Tobacco has played, and continues to play, an important role in the domestic economy, earning millions of dollars for the country,” the ProTobEx site said of the venue selection. It praised the host city for lifting its blanket ban on indoor smoking at the trade show venue.

Organizers said the fair is not open to the general public or media. Aquino spokesman Ricky Carandang did not immediately reply to the AFP’s request for comment, while city officials were unavailable for comment.

List Of UN Endangered To Off The Philippines Rice Terraces

The UN office in Manila said last Wednesday the Philippines’ ancient rice terraces, carved into mountains like giant green stairs, have been removed from a UN list of endangered world heritage sites.

Philippine government’s request to rally local and international aid, and for better management of their preservation for the 2,000-year-old living cultural monuments were put on the World Heritage Committee’s danger list in 2000.

The UN information office said in a statement “Both actions were successfully undertaken, leading to the conservation of the remote high rice fields”.

It had extended $153,200 to aid Philippine efforts to save paddies it said were endangered by deforestation, disuse, climate change and earthquakes said by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The terraces was located in the five towns in the northern Cordilleras, were entitled as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, mentioning the need to preserve the traditions of terrace-building peoples in Ifugao province.

UN-assisted conservation efforts should drive tourist traffic to the sites by up to 30 percent said by Jerry Dalipog, the mayor of Banaue town, where two of the five terraced fields are located.

He told AFP in a telephone interview that “Once the tourists are convinced that there are still terraces left to see, more of them will come and visit us”.

He also said that the Banaue is set to complete by year’s end a four-month project to repair amphitheater-shaped rice terraces in the village of Batad, one of the most famous sites that had been disfigured last year by a huge landslide.

Dalipog added about the repair works, estimated to cost 50 million pesos ($1.18 million), are being financed by the government and private donors.

“Expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance,” which have helped create “a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment UNESCO defines the terraces.”

DFA confirms 2 fatalities in Haiti’s earthquake.

Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the death of two Filipino’s in the magnitude-7 earthquake that devastates Haiti last week. The two Filipino’s were known as Jerome Yap, a UN Staffer in Haiti and Pearlie Panagui, a clerk in the Office of the Force Commander at Minustah.

Yap’s body, along with the body of Luis Carlos Da Costa, which Yap served as executive assistant, were both found in buried in the building of UN Stabilization Mission that collapsed caused by the earthquake.

While Navy Petty Officer3 Pearlie Panagui was in the 2nd floor of Christopher Hotel where her remains found by rescue operators.

Lieutenant Colorner Romeo Brawner Jr. said there are Filipinos’ still missing, namely Air Force Sergeant Janice Arocena and Army Sergeant Eustacio Bermudes Jr.  Another Filipina, Geraldine Calican, is still trapped in the Caribbean Supermarket. On the other hand, two Filipinas, Grace Fabian and Aurora Aguinaldo, were saved from the Supermarket.

Only 165 FIlipinos out of 700, including 172 are confirmed safe and alive. And Lt. Col. Brawner said all efforts are being done to rescue those who are still missing and hoping more lives will be save.

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Remains of Filipino UN staffer in Haiti found

MANILA, Philippines—The remains of a Filipino United Nations staff member have been recovered, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The DFA identified the fatality as Jerome Yap, who was from Pampanga, served as executive Assistant to Luis Carlos da Costa, the deputy special representative of the UN Secretary General, who was also killed in the collapsed building. They both served with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah).

The department expressed “regrets to inform the public that the Philippines lost one of its own in last week’s earthquake that struck Haiti with the recovery of the remains of Mr. Jerome Yap at 5:15 a.m. (Haiti time).”

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UN on RP disasters: Worst yet to come

MANILA, Philippines—Storms worse than “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” will hit the Philippines in the coming years, but the country is one of the least prepared nations in Southeast Asia to cope with natural disasters, a United Nations official warned Tuesday.

Jerry Velasquez, senior regional coordinator of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) agency, said the Philippines was even worse than military-ruled Burma (Myanmar) in coping with natural calamities.

Saying the worst calamities were yet to come, Velasquez stressed: “The period of talking is now over—the time for action has begun.”


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UN regional arm forecasts lower Philippine growth

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ economic growth will fail to meet government expectations since its exports have reached record lows, the United Nations’ regional arm said on Thursday.

The Philippines is set to grow by “no more than three percent this year,” the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) said, citing its latest Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific.

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UN chief tells world: we need a Green New Deal

POZNAN, Poland – The world must avoid backsliding in fighting global warming and work out a “Green New Deal” to fix its twin climate and economic crises, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

“We must re-commit ourselves to the urgency of our cause,” Ban told about 100 environment ministers at December 1-12 U.N. talks in Poland which are working on a new climate treaty but have been overshadowed by worries about recession.

“Yes, the economic crisis is serious,” he said. “Yet when it comes to climate change, the stakes are far higher. The climate crisis affects our potential prosperity and peoples’ lives, both now and far into the future.”

“There can be no backsliding on our commitments,” he said of efforts to shift from fossil fuels toward renewable energies.

Ban urged leadership on the climate from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and from the European Union. An EU summit ending Friday will try to break the bloc’s deadlock on a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

He appealed for a modern, global environmental equivalent of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1930s “New Deal,” which lifted the United States out of the Great Depression….

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