Nationwide round-up (03/11/21)

THIS year’s Earth Hour puts a “virtual spotlight” on environmental issues through a video that people are encouraged to share on their social media platforms to help raise awareness. — EARTHHOUR.ORG

WWF Philippines to showcase educational flicks before Earth Hour on Mar. 27

WORLD Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines announced on Thursday that it would be holding an online watch party featuring educational flicks about wildlife conservation and plastic pollution, among others, before the annual Earth Hour global event. WWF Philippines said Earth Hour 2021 would be observed on Mar. 27 at 8:30 p.m. local time, when people are encouraged to switch off their lights for an hour. Leading up to the switch off, WWF Philippines will run educational films in the afternoon during its “EH PHLIX” event. In a virtual media briefing on Thursday, the environment group said that some of the films lined up are: Wildlife Conservation for Kids at 3:30 p.m.; Feed the Future: Sustainable Dining 101 at 4:30 p.m.; Tackling the Plastic Problem at 6 p.m.; and Countdown to Earth Hour at 7 p.m. These films will be livestreamed on World Wide Fund Philippines’ Facebook page. “We never really had this kind of ‘webinar series type’ that’s available for everyone to understand in different kinds of topics. We’ve always had it stand alone, and just (for a) specific audience but this one is going to be available for everyone,” WWF Philippines’ Climate Change and Energy Program Head Angela Consuelo S. Ibay said. She added that the films would also promote how the public can practice sustainability in their homes. Earth Hour, organized by World Wide Fund, is a global grassroots movement that aims to unite people “to take action on environmental issues and protect the planet.” The annual event encourages the public to switch off their non-essential lights for an hour as a symbol of their commitment to the planet. — Angelica Y. Yang

Defense dep’t asserts military general as anti-communist task force spokesperson not ‘unconstitutional’

LIEUTENANT General Antonio G. Parlade, Jr.’s appointment as an official and spokesperson of the Duterte administration’s anti-communist task force is not unconstitutional, the Department of National Defense said on Thursday. The Philippine Senate on Wednesday recommended the immediate relief of Mr. Parlade from his duty as spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), citing a provision in the 1987 Constitution barring an active military officer from holding a civilian position in government. In a senate hearing on Wednesday, Senator Franklin M. Drilon, a lawyer, said the general’s appointment violates Article 16, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that “No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including government-owned or controled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana acknowledged that the matter is a “very complicated one” since the task force is headed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In a televised press briefing Thursday, Mr. Lorenzana said if Mr. Parlade would be removed from the post, the government might as well take out the whole AFP leadership from the NTF-ELCAC. Mr. Parlade’s expertise as a soldier is “being utilized” as the spokesman of the task force, Mr. Lorenza said. Mr. Parlade currently heads the military’s command in southern Luzon, where nine activists were killed and several others arrested in simultaneous police operations last Sunday. Authorities assert that the activists were in members of the New People’s Army, the armed unit of the communist movement. Presidential Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said the decision whether or not to remove Mr. Parlade from the post must be made by the defense chief. “Hinihinayaan na po natin ang decision na iyan kay (We leave that decision to) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ng National Defense,” he said in a separate press briefing on Thursday. The NTF-ELCAC, chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, was formed in 2018 to quell the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Online interviews set Friday for 3 Supreme Court chief justice nominees

INTERVIEWS of three nominees for the chief justice position will proceed online on Friday despite the suspension of work at the Supreme Court building from Thursday to Sunday for disinfection. “Offices who will be in charge of the interview and livestreaming like the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) and SC PIO (Public Information Office) will be reporting for work,” SC PIO Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka said on Thursday. The three nominees to be interviewed are Justices Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Alexander G. Gesmundo, and Ramon Paul L. Hernando. The interviews will be done via Zoom from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting with Ms. Perlas-Bernabe and ending with Mr. Hernando. After a successful test run on Thursday, Mr. Hosaka said the interviews will be broadcast live over the government’s PTV4 station. Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, who has opted for early retirement a year ahead of the mandatory age, will leave his post effective Mar. 27. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago


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