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House committee to probe poultry importation policy amid oversupply

THE HOUSE committee on agriculture and food will look into the poultry industry’s grievance over the government’s refusal to temporarily stop imports amid oversupply in the market. “UBRA’s (United Broiler Raisers Association) statement on the challenges and issues besetting the poultry industry today needs to be thoroughly discussed, addressed and acted upon. The poultry producers deserve to be heard and be assured that the government is doing its share to combat the problem arising from high levels of importation of poultry’s products, while we are experiencing an oversupply of broilers in the market,” Quezon Rep. Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga, who chairs the committee, said in a statement on Thursday. “The House Committee on Agriculture and Food will definitely investigate this matter,” he added. UBRA said the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has dismissed their appeal, made through the Department of Agriculture, to suspend chicken importation. “The country, more than any other period, needs measures to ensure the adequacy, availability, and affordability of our agricultural food products and it should be done by protecting our local producers and manufacturers,” Mr. Enverga said. — Genshen L. Espedido

Anyone can file case opposing anti-terrorism bill, says chief justice

CHIEF Justice Diosdado M. Peralta said the proposed anti-terrorism law, once signed by the President, may be questioned by anyone before the Supreme Court. Holding an oral argument over the petition, however, will depend on the issues raised. “It will depend on the deliberations whether to conduct an oral argument or recommend first. It will depend, it will depend on the issues, because they might be asking only veto of certain provisions, or the veto of the whole law, so it will depend,” he said in a virtual briefing Thursday. Mr. Peralta also said how the case will proceed will depend on the comment of the Office of the Solicitor-General if there are factual issues. “But if the issues are merely, purely constitutional, there’s no need to determine the factual issues, then probably we just submit the case for decision based on the responses and pleadings of the parties,” he said. Various human rights and lawyers groups have expressed opposition to the proposed law over constitutionality issues. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Continuing rise in COVID-19 cases likely to keep lockdown rules

THE CONTINUING rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases could discourage the government from relaxing lockdown rules after June 15, particularly in Metro Manila and Cebu City, Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said on Thursday. The President is expected to announce the decision on Monday. The Department of Health reported 443 new cases on June 11, bringing the country’s total to 24,175, with more than half in Metro Manila. “It does not inspire relaxation but the announcement as I said is subject to appeal and will be announced by the President,” Mr. Roque said in a briefing on Thursday. — Gillian M. Cortez

Seafarer commits suicide while awaiting repatriation

A FILIPINO seafarer committed suicide while awaiting repatriation to the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said on Thursday. “It is my sad duty to report that a 28-year old female mariner committed suicide in her cabin in the ship where she’s had to stay because repatriation flights back to the Philippines have been suspended again,” Mr. Locsin said in a social media post. “I know our quarantine facilities are jam-packed; just don’t know why.” The seafarer was identified as Mariah Jocson, who was a crew member of the vessel Harmony of the Seas. Her death is the second recorded suicide involving a Filipino abroad amid the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis. “We are tartly reminded that Filipino resilience is no excuse to stretch them to breaking point,” Mr. Locsin said. The Department of Foreign Affairs has been assisting Filipinos abroad seeking repatriation. On Thursday, 303 seafarers of AIDA cruises from Germany and 70 overseas Filipino workers from Cambodia arrived in the country. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Balik probinsya trips suspended

THE URBAN decongestion program known as balik probinsya will be temporarily suspended as the government gives priority to bringing home locally stranded individuals to their provinces. In a briefing on Thursday, National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino P. Escalada, Jr. said the scheduled return of beneficiaries from Camarines Sur and Zamboanga del Norte has been put on hold. “I decided… to suspend rollouts of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa… this is a very clear instruction from the President na unahin balikin ang mga stranded (to prioritize first those who are stranded),” he said. Stranded individuals are those who have been locked out of their hometowns after border closures were implemented. This group includes students, overseas workers who were no longer able to leave the country, and local workers, among others. Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said various government agencies have already been mobilized to assist them, particularly those who have been forced to camp at bus stations, public spaces, and outside the airport in Manila due to lack of available transport options. Mr. Roque said they want to prevent another case similar to that of Michelle Silvertino, a woman who passed away while waiting for five days for an available bus ride home to her hometown. — Gillian M. Cortez