30 Jan 2016

Japanese Imperial couple visits International Rice Research Institute
(LOS BANOS, Laguna) Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on Friday where they were briefed on the organization’s efforts in ensuring global food security as well as the contributions of Japan to the rice research thrust of IRRI.

Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress arrived at IRRI 3 p.m. Friday and w received by IRRI Dir. Gen. Matthew Morrell.

They were briefed by Dr. Morrell about IRRI’s mandate, its current works and how Japan contributes to its research efforts on rice production.

Japan was one of IRRI’s financial donors in 2015 joining other big contributors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the US government, and the Australian government.

Last year, IRRI got $97-million budget from more than 90 donors that include national governments, international agencies, and philanthropists.

Japan has contributed 81 scientists since 1960, among them: Akira Tanaka, head, Plant Physiology Department, 1962-66; Yujiro Hayami, agricultural economist, 1974,77; Iwao Watanabe, head, Soil Microbiology Program, 1975-91; Tokio Imbe, plant breeder, 1993-98; Osamu Ito, head of agronomy, Plant Physiology and Agro-ecology and leader of Long-Term Continuous Cropping Experiment (LTCCE), 1996-2000 and Yoshimichi Fukuta, plant breeder, 1999-2004.

Also, during IRRI’s first board meeting in 1960, Japanese geneticist Hitoshi Kihara was elected as first chair of the IRRI Program Committee.

IRRI maintains offices in 15 countries in Asia and Africa and has a workforce of more than 1,200 representing 42 nationalities.

An independent, non-profit research and educational institute, IRRI was founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations with support from the Philippine government.

Its global mission is to ensure global rice supply, reduce poverty and hunger, improve health of rice farmers and consumers and ensure environmental sustainability.

Among IRRI’s recent achievement include the development of stress-tolerant rice, satellite mapping and water-saving technologies, decision-support tools, postharvest technology, pest and disease management, better grain quality and sequenced genome of 3,000 rice varieties. PND (as)

President Aquino leads departure ceremony for Japanese Imperial couple
President Benigno S. Aquino III led the send off ceremony for Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Pasay City on Saturday morning after Their Majesties capped their five-day state visit to the Philippines.

The Japanese Imperial Couple arrived at the Balagbag Ramp, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 11:45 a.m. Saturday, where they were given departure honors.

Also present during the send off rites were Presidential Sister Pinky-Aquino Abellada, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez.

The Imperial Couple’s visit coincided with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Japan. Emperor Akihito first visited the Philippines in 1962 and was received by president Diosdado Macapagal.The long histories involving the two nations have built a far more enduring relationship between the Philippines and Japan, President Aquino said this week during the state banquet held in honor of the visiting Japanese emperor and empress.

The President praised Japan for being a consistent, able, and trustworthy partner who helped advance the progress of the Philippines.

Japan was the country’s top trading partner in 2014, and was its largest source of active Official Development Assistance as well as the top source of Investment Promotion Agency-approved foreign investments in that year.

It is also a vital partner in the Mindanao peace process and the development of Mindanao, as well as in the enhancement of Philippine maritime and disaster management capabilities.

Among the highlights of the emperor and empress’ visit include the meeting with President Aquino in Malacanang, wreath laying at the Rizal Park and at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani, visit to TESDA’s Language Skills Institute, and the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya.

The Imperial Couple also toured the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna on Friday. PND (as)

Health Department closely monitoring Zika virus on President’s instructions
President Aquino instructed the Department of Health to monitor the situation abroad and study the Zika virus to ensure public safety, a Palace official said.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III noted in a radio interview Saturday that according to the current briefers on the said virus it is not easily transmittable.

DOH advisories also say that the precautions on the virus is very similar precautions against dengue fever.

“In other words, ang dapat ay siguruhin na hindi kumalat ang mga mosquito na nagdadala ng virus na ito,” Quezon said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He said everyone has a role to play in making sure everybody is healthy and safe, especially pregnant women.

Quezon advised the public to maintain cleanliness and orderliness in their homes and destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes, the known carrier of the disease.

“Second of all, kung mayroon tayong nakikitang outbreak of dengue or similar diseases, to get in touch with your barangay health center or ‘yung barangay mismo para pwede silang mag-coordinate with the DOH para magkaroon ng pest control,” he said.

Lastly, he said people must be vigilant and whenever they notice anyone as having fever they must see a doctor immediately.

“In other words, calmness, information, cooperation are our tools against this disease, and we should remain alert for any updates from the Department of Health,” he continued.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rashes, joint pains, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.

The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes. PND (as)