THE US government, through the Joint US Military Assistance Group, turned over on November 25 a ScanEagle unmanned aerial system to the Philippine Navy. The P710 million system will boost the Philippine “military’s maritime domain awareness and border security capabilities,” the US Embassy said in a statement. The turn-over ceremony, led by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Kimberly Kelly and Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, was held at the Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point, Cavite.
Bill filed to include POGOs in anti-trafficking law
A BILL expanding coverage of the anti-trafficking law to include activities in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and other gaming venues has been filed in the Senate. Bill No. 1929 will update the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, under Republic Act No. 1929, to cover online and digital platforms that also open the way for human trafficking. In effect, this will expand the definition of trafficking to include the online sexual exploitation of children. “The rise of POGOs has also been found to increase the vulnerability to trafficking and prostitution of our own women, our own girls,” Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a statement on Wednesday. Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel, who chairs the committee on women, children, family Relations and gender equality, filed the bill after investigations on POGO operations in the country. The bill also prohibits foreign nationals, who are convicted sexual offenders, from entering the country. It also imposes penalties on internet service providers, financial intermediaries, transport services, among other private facilities that allow trafficking. This includes a fine ranging from P50,000-P500,000, and six months to six years jail time for persons involved. Meanwhile, juridical persons owning or managing the enterprises involved in the violations will be fined P500,000 to P1 million and have their license revoked. “New technologies show no signs of slowing down, but these are now used to harass, exploit, and abuse our women in a myriad of pernicious ways,” she said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan
Initial 35M COVID vaccine recipients identified
THE government is prioritizing a list of 35 million Filipinos for its initial rollout of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations. In a briefing on Wednesday, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the national coronavirus task force, said on the list are healthcare workers, members of the police and military forces, other servicemen, essential government workers, and people from indigent communities. “That is what the Department of Health will give based on the guidelines of the President,” he said in Filipino. Mr. Galvez, who has also been appointed as the country’s vaccine czar to lead the procurement and distribution program, said the government’s best projection for implementation is still second quarter of 2021. The Philippine government is in talks with the various COVID-19 vaccine developers. — Gillian M. Cortez