Biden administration releases gun crime prevention strategy

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 24, 2021   •   596

United States (US) President Joe Biden announced a gun crime prevention strategy to ensure public safety and to address the surge of gun crimes in the country.

During his speech, Biden lamented the increase of gun crimes in the US especially during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. He reiterated the need to establish an assault weapons ban. There would also be local programs that would talk to people in the community.

“We support the need for community violence intervention. These are local programs that will utilize trust in messages. Community members and leaders will work directly with people who are most like to commit gun crimes or become victims of gun crimes” he said.

Biden also encouraged the various states to deploy additional police authorities in their area. He also warned against individuals who supply illegal firearms.

“If you willfully sell a gun to someone is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the request for inspections.. my message you as this will find you and we will seek your license to sell guns will make sure you can sell death and Mayhem on our street,” he said.

The President continues to call on Congress to take action to end the gun violence epidemic. AAC (with reports from Justin Masakayan)

Philippines to export more mangoes, pineapples to US

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — More Philippine-grown mangoes and pineapples will soon be exported to the United States, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced.

The DA said the development comes after its Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) reached a deal during a virtual meeting held on August 12.

“Expanding the export market of Philippine pineapples and mangoes in the US and other countries will not only enhance our national economy, but more importantly, provide increased incomes to thousands of farmers and their families in pineapple- and mango-producing provinces nationwide,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

The recent agreement between the APHIS and BPI could dramatically increase the country’s exports of pineapples and resume shipments of mangoes to the US via additional ports of entry, he added.

The Philippines currently exports fresh pineapples to the US through Guam, Commonwealth of Marianas Island, and North Atlantic regions. From 2013 to July 15, 2021, exports amounted to only 346,190 kilograms.

The country previously exported fresh mangoes to the US, from 2005 to 2008, totaling 386,099 kilograms, all produced in Guimaras Island, the DA added.

The DA said USDA-APHIS accepted evidence that the Philippines’ main export pineapple variety is not a host to the oriental fruit fly.

The fruit pest, known scientifically as Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), is very destructive and often finds its way into the US, sometimes triggering wide-scale eradication programs.

The Philippines may start shipping pineapples to various US markets before year-end, the DA said.

Duterte thanks US for donated 3M Moderna vax, says shots will be given to poor Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte thanked the government of the United States for the three million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine it donated to the Philippines.

Duterte, along with some Cabinet officials, personally welcomed the arrival of the vaccines on Tuesday at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

The Moderna vaccines donated by the US were coursed through the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility.

“I wish to thank the United States for the generosity in sharing various COVID-19 assistance to the Philippines,” Duterte said in his speech during the arrival of the vaccine.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the COVAX facility for the continuous donation of these vaccines. We look forward to the delivery of even more life-saving vaccines in the country very soon,” he added.

Duterte also thanked the US for the donations of key medical supplies and equipment and the provision of institutional support to the government’s COVID-response.

“All of these have helped, definitely will continue to help the Filipino people. Indeed, the cooperation between the Philippines and US in overcoming the pandemic highlights the strong and deep friendship between the two countries,” he said.

Duterte said the latest shipment of Moderna vaccine shots will be used to immunize poor Filipinos.

He said this is following America’s sentiment that its donation should go first to those who have the least in life.

“And for those, well, who do not want to be vaccinated, we will try to entice them with the vaccines given by the United States,” he added.

The Philippines has so far received a total of 34.2 million coronavirus vaccine doses.

It also expects to get 22.7 million coronavirus jabs for the month of August, as announced earlier by vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Prior to the arrival of Moderna vaccines, the US also donated 3.2 million doses of single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the Philippines.

As of August 2, over 21.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country while 9.3 million people have been fully immunized.

US gov’t welcomes Duterte decision to recall termination of VFA

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2021

The government of the United States on Friday welcomed the Philippines’ decision to retract the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, earlier in the day, announced the development after President Rodrigo Duterte met with visiting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III.

“We strongly believe that the VFA, and the broader alliance that the VFA enables, strengthens not only the security of our two nations but also the rules-based order that benefits all nations in the Indo-Pacific,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

Duterte and Austin met in Malacañang on Thursday.

Austin is on an official visit to Southeast Asia that includes stops in Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The visit aims to bolster the US’ ties with the said nations.

His visit coincides with the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations of the US and the Philippines and the 70th Anniversary of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty this year.

The PH-US visiting forces deal came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines.

The pact also includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops, and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

Duterte last year ordered the abrogation of the VFA, which is anchored in the PH-US 1951 defense treaty.

The termination of the pact, however, was suspended citing the coronavirus pandemic and the relevant developments in the region.

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