Labor leader seeks farm import cuts

A LABOR leader who is running for president next year said the government should cut imports and focus on supporting local farmers. 

“Why should we import things that we can grow?” Leodegario “Ka Leody” Q. de Guzman told an online agricultural forum in Filipino on Thursday. “It’s a shame that we are an agricultural nation but we import onion, garlic, ginger and just recently, round scad.” 

The labor leader said the government should resolve farm problems because agriculture is the foundation of the Philippine economy. 

The country’s agricultural trade was in a deficit of $2.4 billion (P120 billion) in the third quarter, 18.3% wider than a year earlier. Farm imports grew 15.8% to $4.16 billion, while exports expanded by 12.5% to $1.76 billion. 

The top import commodities were cereals and grain products worth more than $900 million. 

Mr. De Guzman said the government should help farmers produce more so the country could export to other countries and create more jobs. Farmers should diversify crop production, he added. 

He also cited the untapped potential in the mining industry, noting that minerals are exported immediately and are not used for the country’s industrialization. 

“Our policy is geared toward being import-dependent and export-oriented.” 

In October, Mr. De Guzman vowed to repeal the Rice Tariffication law, reorient the economy to meet domestic needs and prioritize the welfare of farmers if he gets elected. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson 

House bill to require autopsies 

A BILL that seeks to require an autopsy on bodies of crime victims and people who died under suspicious circumstances has been filed at the House of Representatives. 

Samar Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento filed House Bill 10620 or the Mandatory Autopsy Law to “take advantage of medical procedures to push for the overall improvement of the criminal justice system in the country.” 

Under the bill, the autopsy will be done by government health officers, medical officers of law enforcement agencies and doctors from accredited hospitals. It also prohibits the cremation of human remains under investigation without clearance from police. 

The autopsy may be done without a court order as required by the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines. The law allows autopsies when required by special laws, when requested by police or a victim’s next of kin. — Russell Louis C. Ku 

DoH urged to lift drug limits

A CONGRESSMAN has urged the Health department to suspend the limits on prescription and over-the-counter drugs for senior citizens to minimize their risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. 

Party-list Rep. Rodolfo M. Ordanes who heads the committee on senior citizens of the House of Representatives, issued the call in House Resolution 2420. 

Under the law, any single sale of prescriptive drugs to senior citizens should not exceed more than a month’s supply, while over-the-counter drugs are limited to a seven-day supply. 

Mr. Ordanes said seniors have had to visit their doctors or the local government health center more often than necessary to get the drugs they need. 

“The limitation also forces senior citizens to go out every week just to purchase their needed over-the-counter and prescription drugs,” according to a copy of the resolution. 

The congressman earlier said vaccination sites should accept walk-ins for senior citizens, seriously ill and persons with disabilities. — Russell Louis C. Ku 

Filipina wins human rights award 

A FILIPINO human rights advocate won a French-German award this year for her work in helping human rights victims including political prisoners, according to Karapatan group. 

In a statement, the group said Secretary General Cristina Palabay had won the 2021 French-German Ministerial Prize. The award was presented to her in Taguig City on Wednesday. 

“This award proves that the allegations being thrown against Cristina Palabay are not only baseless but a rebuke of the very government that has made a state policy out of red-tagging and criminalization of activism,” Kapatid Spokesperson Fides Lim, wife of a political prisoner and a National Democratic Front peace consultant, said in the statement. 

Ms. Palabay has led Karapatan, which brings together human rights defenders and organizations, since 2010. She also co-founded the Gabriela Women’s Party, a political party that advocates women’s rights. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan