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News Briefs: Aug. 28, 2019

05:20 AM August 28, 2019

Health advocate: Tax e-cigarettes to the hilt

MANILA, Philippines — The death of an electronic cigarette user and the severe respiratory illnesses contracted by nearly 200 users of the device in the United States should serve as a warning to steer clear of the product being packaged as a safer alternative to smoking, Action on Smoking and Health president Roberto del Rosario said.

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Given all the evidence of the harm from e-cigarettes, lawmakers should tax the product “to the heavens,” he added. —Jovic Yee

Beatification rite for Darwin Ramos starts

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MANILA, Philippines — The Diocese of Cubao will formally open on Wednesday the process involved in the beatification and canonization of Darwin Ramos, a streetkid recently declared “Servant of God” by the Vatican.

The rites for the solemn opening and declaration of the cause will be held at 5 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao in Quezon City. —Tina G. Santos

Teachers slam ‘no homework’ bills

MANILA, Philippines — Public school teachers denounced two bills filed at the House of Representatives that would forbid them from giving their students homework, saying the measures did not recognize realities on the ground and would do little to improve the quality of education.

House Bill Nos. 3611 and 3883, filed by Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, respectively, both seek to make homework illegal.

Escudero’s bill prohibits homework from kindergarten to high school, while Vargas’ bill bars homework on weekends. —Matthew Reysio-Cruz

Visa on arrival for Chinese tourists restricted

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MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to restrict the issuance of visa upon arrival to Chinese nationals.

The DOJ said limiting the validity of the special visa to 30 days was not enough to prevent the policy from being abused.

“The department sees the shortening of the validity period [of the visa upon arrival] as one measure to prevent possible abuse. In fact, that proposal was raised by the DOJ,” Justice Undersecretary and spokesperson Markk Perete said. —Donna Z. Pazzibugan

Higher taxes on alcohol sought

MANILA, Philippines — A group advocating higher sin taxes has urged the House of Representatives to reconsider its position on imposing a relatively lower excise  on alcohol, saying this may cause a shortfall of funds needed for the universal health care program.

The taxes may not also help curb alcohol use, especially among the youth.

According to Sin Tax Coalition coconvener Anthony Leachon, there is a need for Congress to pass a higher alcohol tax given that a study showed that in 2016, nearly three million deaths were attributable to alcohol use. —Jovic Yee

P8.2-B budget for Office of the President ‘necessary’

MANILA, Philippines — The increase in the budget requested for the Office of the President was “necessary” to provide efficient public service and assistance to Filipinos, and to secure the country from internal and external threats, Malacañang said.

The Office of the President was asking an allocation of P8.2 billion for 2020. —Julie M. Aurelio

Gov’t asked: Import refined sugar

SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna, Philippines — A federation of sugarcane farmers and producers in Luzon has asked the government to import 250,000 metric tons of refined sugar to compensate for the projected shortage in the coming crop year.

Without the imported supply, Luzon Federation of Sugarcane Growers Association Inc. chair Cornelio Toreja said sugar may fetch steep prices of as much as P3,000 per bag from the normal price of P2,200 to P2,500 per bag. —Maricar Cinco

4 Indian nationals deported

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will deport Indian nationals Manjot Singh, Mandeep Singh, Boota Singh and Gurpreet Singh who were arrested in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, during an operation conducted by immigration agents in the area.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the mission order after his office received complaints about the alleged “5-6” lending activities of the foreigners. —Tina G. Santos

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