Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Controversial Letter of Mike Francis Acebedo Lopez: National Youth Commission (NYC) Is A Big Failure?

The Controversial Letter of Mike Francis Acebedo Lopez: Philippines' National Youth Commission (NYC) Is A Big Failure?

I am constrained to report to the Filipino people, particularly to my fellow youth, that the Officials of the National Youth Commission have not served the greater interest of our people, for the following reasons: 

1) This is a Youth Commission whose Leadership has cases at the Ombudsman, the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), along with a severely damaged reputation, being subject to numerous complaints from various youth circuits and circulating in e-groups across the country and abroad. This Youth Commission has ganged up on me for my opposition, insisting that we are a collegial body and should therefore be united and agree on everything. But I believe in unity in diversity (there is a reason why the NYC was created to have several commissioners) and upholding truth and justice over everything else. They do not understand that I oppose only those decisions that I know will tarnish our individual and collective reputations, ultimately affecting the credibility and integrity of our agency. They do not understand that we each represent the NYC and our government, and our actions can and will affect the credibility and integrity of the Office we represent. At a time when corruption and hopelessness pervade, our credibility, I believe, is the best gift we could give our country and our fellow young Filipinos.  

2) This is the same Youth Commission that has bullied the alumni association of the SSEAYP (Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program), an organization of passionate and dedicated alumni of the Japanese Government's SSEAYP program. (The NYC is mandated by law to implement the SSEAYP in the Philippines). The NYC Leadership supported the creation of a different alumni association to divide the current SSEAYP leadership in the Philippines, apparently to get back at them because the group pressed charges against the Officials of the Commission. These cases filed emanated from the Commission's decision to choose one of its own as National Leader of last year's SSEAYP delegation (the first time its ever happened) to a two-month all-expense paid cultural cruise across Japan and the ASEAN region. Worse, the Commission went through the motions of a search for applicants even if the NYC's Leadership had already promised the position to the interested Commissioner. So what initially was just an issue of delicadeza became an issue of deception, a betrayal of public trust.

Genuine leadership seeks to unite, not divide the efforts and convictions of young people. When it does, it's apparent that it is for no other reason but to perpetuate one's stay in power or to secure an otherwise insecure position in society or government.

3) Many youth leaders across the country perceive NYC as using every crisis in the Arroyo Presidency as yet another opportunity to "kiss ass". This has lead to the moro-moro and incompetent management of our international programs. Slots for foreign trips, scholarships, and exchange programs are given to friends of the officials, with an unwritten, internal arrangement that only those who are pro-administration will be chosen. Take the SSEAYP for instance: its guidelines, which have been in place for several years, were unilaterally changed last year to accommodate an alleged relative of the President. In fairness to the President, I do not think that she is aware of these happenings, nor has she given such order. The irony is that the alleged relative did not apply last year, but the damage has already been done against the integrity of the SSEAYP selection process. And all this after we require applicants of our programs to accomplish so many difficult requirements and submit long essays. These officials have no respect for the efforts of the young people whose interests we all swore to uphold and protect.  

4) We've all heard about issues concerning our national procurement law, discussed in length at the Senate's hearings on the NBN-ZTE issue. Unfortunately, corruption in the bidding process is nothing new—not even to the NYC. In the middle of 2006, during an Executive Session in our Regular Commissioners' Meeting, and in the presence of our previous legal officer, I was so shocked when two of our Commissioners started accusing each other of securing kickbacks from their management of the agency's BAC (Bids and Awards Committee). The NYC Leadership did not even conduct a formal investigation on the matter.  

5) The NYC Leadership ordered for the delivery of computer units despite the advice from our Admin and Finance Division (AFD) that the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) had already denied the release of funds for the project. The project was supposed to be funded by the Presidential Social Fund, but MalacaƱang denied the release of funds after discovering that there were violations in the bidding process that the NYC leadership approved. For over a year, the supplier of the computer units were not paid and they almost resorted to legal action had it not been for the steps taken by our AFD Division. (I hope the NYC Leadership did not use the computers for an election bid as president of an association of law students, the computers having been distributed to the law school beneficiaries before the association's election. It's too much, really, to sacrifice the agency's reputation for that.) 

6) There are fresh reports of a certain Commissioner who allegedly falsified a DILG Memo Circular, forging no less than Secretary Ronaldo Puno's signature to endorse his SK seminar cum business venture. The falsified DILG Memo Circular endorsed this Commissioner's training of SKs, an activity unknown to the NYC and its staff. Maybe he preyed on the SKs knowing that they have the funds to participate in his seminars and falsified/forged the signature of the Cabinet Secretary to make sure that they are obliged to join (according to reports, these cost at least Php 5, 000 per participant; with possibly over a thousand SKs in that province who can participate – well, you do the math).

Despite the humiliation and indignity caused by them, many of these Officials still have the nerve to seek reappointment; worse, one is even starting to lobby for the Chairmanship of the NYC. To reappoint or promote anyone from this crop of NYC officials is like sentencing young people in our country to a fate worse than death.  

Look who's talking

There is a long litany of issues (Yes, there are more) that I hope can be resolved in the proper forum. While there is an ongoing debate for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, what about looking at the activities of the National Youth Commission and the apparent failure of its officials to protect its credibility, having been embroiled in scandal after scandal? How can the SKs look up to the NYC as a guide when the Commission has lost the moral ascendancy to lead them or to even propose reforms in the SK? 

To whom much is given, much is also expected. But how can the NYC live up to the high standards young people expect of them when, adding insult to injury, some of its officials have been reported to engage in scandalous sexual and amoral behavior in some of the NYC's official programs? Complaints from some youth volunteers allege that, in a number of instances, a Commissioner asked them to look for prostitutes for him. Our young people are talking about these debauched activities of a highly decadent Youth Commission, an agency that could have been considered the final frontier, the bastion of integrity and righteousness in the government.  

The Officials of the National Youth Commission have failed our country's youth. Even the hardworking staffs of the agency appear to be demoralized. (The agency's staff's turnover rate in the past year is the highest in the NYC's history)

I would rather go down with my integrity intact and my head held up high, than keep up the pretense of integrity where there is none. And I call upon each young Filipino to help me wage this war. Mayday, mayday… I need back up. Let us seize this moment, fight the good fight, and define our generation - and we will soon discover that for our country, and ourselves - the best is yet to come.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who's In Charge of Water Conservation?

By Juan Mercado

That's the question citizens ask, as government services, often indifferent at best, are crippled further by the avian-flu like spread of election fever.

"So, who is minding the store?" Sure, the fire department is there. So, are the police, hospitals, the military. But its day-to-day services - like getting official licenses, permits etc -- that are slowing down.

And the deep-seated problems, that demand long term planning beyond election cycles, are relegated further down to lower drawers. "He who does not take thought of what is distant," the sage Confucius once warned, "will find sorrows well at hand."

Take watersheds. When water runs out and taps turn dry, food stocks will shrivel. It's a question of time before riots erupt, as dessicated communities wither away and die.

An estimated 70 percent of the country's total land area belong to watersheds of varying sizes. "Many are invariably degraded," notes the UN's Food and Agriculture Oganization in its September 2003 report: "Sustainable Forest Management, Poverty Alleviation and Food Security in Upland Communities."

Almost 10 million hectares of the country's forests were destroyed, at the rate of more than 150,000 hectares yearly, within a 53-year period. Even well-endowed forests, as the Philippines once had, cannot withstand such relentless plunder.

Unchecked pillaging has seen forest cover on the watershed level, drop to none, as in Cebu, to more than 50 percent in Pasonanca of Zamboanga.

The disastrous consequences have been widespread. In many instances, they have been irreversible.

Soil erosion afflicts most watersheds. Of the country's 77 provinces, 13 have over half their land blighted by moderate to severe erosion. Between 63 and 77 percent of land area has been ravaged, depending on the yardstick used.

And when soil goes, so do your farms --- and the food they yield for dinner tables. "To reverse soil erosion will make fighting insurgency seem like child's play," the late National Scientist Dioscoro Umali once pointed out.

Few people stop to reflect that it takes nature over a century to form just one inch of top soil. That comes from forest biomass and the year-after-year action of God's rain and sun.

Yet, between 74 and 81 million tons of this resource -- much more valuable than Marcos' Swiss bank holdings or Jose Velarde's jueteng cream off -- have been washed away by floods cascading from denuded forests.

The data is there. In a 15-year period, for example, a fifth of irrigated systems dried up during summer. The food losses occurred even as population grew at rates that double in numbers every three decades. But we fail to heed "signs of the times."

Cereal shortfalls were made up by shopping abroad. "Costly imports have become the legal tender by which countries close their water deficits," the Worldwatch Institute points out.

Little has been done to adopt integrated water management, vital to curb erratic stream flows and the alarming drop in waterlevels. Waste in increasing volumes are dumped into rivers and lakes --- eroding their capacity to provide high quality drinking and irrigation water.

People's participation in watershed management is the key to lasting protection. No one pretends this is easy. "Organizing peasants is like stitching loose sheets of sand," Sun Yat Sen once said.

But it has to be undertaken. The alternative is continued destruction. And all too few local governments make the effort.

Much of the profligate waste of today's water stems from official mindsets and policy blackholes pegged to "an antiquated illusion of abundance." But the era of limitless water is over. Emerging shortages are here to stay.

Who among today's candidates would propose a tax on groundwater pumping in areas where aquifers are being depleted? Or impose penalties for those who pollute water?

Instead, our candidates will promise -- along with the moon -- rebates on water that they know full well is running short. In many places, water demands are already brushing against the limit of available supply.

Where are the candidates who see beyond votes, and think in terms of policies needed to put water use on a sustainable basis.

Our officials rarely sit down to think through the water issue. Or any other concern, like chemical pollution contaminating food chains. That requires hard effort, an exercise few are used to.

Invariably, they propose scrounging around for additional supplies for water. New sources, submarine pipes or big dams. Others peddle energy-intensive "desalinazation" -- which is really swapping costly fossil fuel for scrubbing salt from sea water.

How many pair that with conservation policies?

Yet, water-short nations, like South Africa and Israel have learned to integrate conservation policies as part of planning future water supplies. That is why these countries have "made their deserts bloom".

The Philippines is rapidly emerging as a semi-desert. And we'll have to scrap the mindset that we conserve only, as an ad-hoc measure, to alleviate droughts and other immediate crises.

Crafting a water efficient economy is the only alternative for a future of shortages. Conservation and better management can free large volumes of water and capital for competing uses, the Worldwatch Institute notes. :" Thus far, we have only seen hints of their potential."

Friday, July 25, 2008

News Boys Meet Up After Half A Century

Selling newspapers in the 50s became a fad even among children of families who can afford to send their children to school. But, some also did it to earn their weekly baon for school.

But, what is exciting is that many of those used-to-be newsboys are now professionals working in different fields.

The former newsboys of The Bohol Chronicle will gather for their first grand reunion in time for the celebration of the golden anniversary of the paper on May 16, 2004.

The reunion will include former Chronicle staffers.

In order to be included in the masterlist of former BC newsboys, one has to register with the reunion committee chaired by veteran Chronicle staffer Manny Bautista.  2004 News Archive Bohol Chronicle

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Argao Cebu High School Scandal

By Bong O. Wenceslao
Candid Thoughts, Sun Star

Contradictory claims of witnesses have made the truth about the recent incident involving students of the Argao National High School difficult to ascertain. Verifying reports that three pairs of students had sex and filmed it using camera phones has been hampered by the lack of proof. Cell phones seized did not contain videos of a sexual act.

While the concerned students denied the "sex scandal" angle, some witnesses said otherwise. So it is up to the Department of Education (DepEd) to objectively get to the bottom of the incident, although DepEd officials have not been known to be objective in their probes, loyalty and friendship often muddling their appraisal of school scandals.

But I noticed some interesting points while I followed up the issue, including the alleged use by the said students of alcohol and condom. Nobody contradicted the statement of witnesses that the students were drunk (as opposed to "high") at that time. As for the used condom, witnesses claimed this was thrown out of the building in haste. It was not found.

The video and the condom would have given away what actually happened on that day. But whether the students did have sex or not, this incident is an interesting case for those for or against the controversial reproductive bill. I can immediately see two good subjects of discussion there: sex education and "safe sex" (use of contraceptives).

Have the teenagers, all high school students, taken sex education classes in school? Sex education, in the context of the pro-choice line, would make students understand the pros and cons of sex, plus other related topics on sexuality, with the caveat that if the sexual urge can't be repressed, make sex safe by, say, using condom.

If the students did engage in sex and used condom---that should be a triumph for proponents of the contraceptive lifestyle.

There would be no unwanted pregnancy despite the teenagers engaging in premarital sex, except of course if the condom was defective or if it was not used properly. I mean, this could be Exhibit A for pro-choice groups.

But don't tell that to the Church and pro-lifers. Pre-marital sex is a sin and should not have been committed in the first place. Again, if the students did engage in sex, of which we don't have enough proof, and used condoms, that is an indictment of the contraceptive lifestyle, a loosening of morals resulting from the belief that since the sex is "safe," they can engage in it at will because they won't get pregnant.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bohol Mayors Mad at Regional DILG's Arrogance?

If the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) won't respect the municipal mayors in their respective turfs then "we also won't respect it."

Quoting the collective sentiment of his colleagues, Catigbian Mayor Bert Salinas, vice-president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Bohol chapter, issued the statement when interviewed by the Chronicle yesterday.

Municipal mayors got irked the way the municipal local government operations officers (MLGOO) were pulled out and designated in their towns without due respect.

He explained that the local chief executives did not question on DILG's policy of reshuffling its personnel (MLGOOs), especially if it is for "harmonious relationship" between them and the DILG. But the way the reshuffling was done was inappropriate, he said.

One particular instance was the way a certain MLGOO assumed office in Mabini town hall last week. Mayor Stephen Rances blew his top when the newly assigned MLGOO did not even bother to pay courtesy call to the mayor who was present at that time.

Salinas described this act as "arrogance," he did not expect of a DILG officer.

He however said that the DILG 7 regional office headed by Dir. Rene Burdeos decided for a "status quo," which means that there will be no DILG personnel movement until December.

For its part, the DILG provincial office cannot do otherwise on the reshuffling of its MLGOOs since it's only following orders from higher ups.

Monday, July 21, 2008

First Boholano Nuncio in Mass Celebration

Talibon Bohol - People of this coastal town felt on top of the world as they joined yesterday a well-attended concelebrated thanksgiving mass of Archbishop Bernardito "Barney" P. Auza who was recently ordained to the Episcopacy as Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti and titular Archbishop of Suacia.

Auza, a native of this town is the first Boholano and the fourth Filipino to be ordained by Vatican to such exalted position in the Catholic Church. He was ordained by His Eminence Cardinal Tarciso Bertone, secretary of State of His Holiness at the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome last July 3.

Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was supposed to attend yesterday's mass but the archbishop opted to officiate another thanksgiving mass at the Manila Cathedral at 6 o'clock tonight where the President and other government and church leaders will attend.

Yesterday's historic event at the Blessed Trinity Cathedral was attended by church dignitaries led by His Eminence Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the homilist, together with eight bishops, namely, Chrstian Vincent Noel, Leopoldo Tumulak, Romulo Valles, Antonieto Cabajog, Zacarias Jimenez, Juan de Dios Pueblos, Crispin Varquez and Julito Cortes. More than 50 priests, mostly from the Diocese of Talibon led by Bishop Noel and Msgr. Ignacio Reyes vicar general added color to the thanksgiving mass.

The civilian government was represented by Gov. Erico Aumentado, Rep. Roberto Cajes, Rep. Edgar Chatto and Talibon Mayor Juanario Item. Other officials present were Jagna Mayor Exuperio Lloren, president of the League of Municipalities (LMP-Bohol) and Mabini Mayor Stephen Rances, who was a former classmate of Archbishop Auza at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary.

The 49-year old Boholano nuncio traced back his roots to this quiet town where he spent his grade school at the Talibon Elementary School. He paid tribute to his parents, Meliton and Magdalena Auza, both 86 years old, a public school teacher and housewife. He is the eighth in a brood of 12.

He recalled with fond memories his high school seminary days at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (IHMS) in Taloto district, Tagbilaran City where he acknowledged the presence of Bishop de Dos Pueblos who was then the rector of the seminary and Rep. Cajes, his former mentor in Spanish.- The Bohol Chronicle

Murder - Rape Case in Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines

           The complainants in the celebrated Vivian Dumaluan rape-slay case refuse to believe the findings of the panel of investigators that self-confessed participant Alex Dasco conspired with accused Narciso Maghamil.

            The majority of the panel of investigators dismissed the cases for rape with homicide filed against former Panglao Mayor Doloreich Dumaluan, his brother, Engr. Teofredo Dumaluan and Romeo Lapinig.

            In the motion for reconsideration filed by spouses Eusebio and Antonia Dumaluan, the complainants claimed this was one of 10 assigned errors contained in the resolution prepared by three of four members of the panel that was approved by acting Provincial Prosecutor Macario Delusa.

            Of the four members of the panel, three signed the majority resolution namely Assistant Provincial Prosecutors Ponciano Uy, Tito Apura and Margie Tan-Alvaro.

            Only third assistant provincial prosecutor Eric Ucat refused to sign the resolution and instead prepared his own dissenting resolution.

            The complainants however have filed a motion for reconsideration and reinvestigation, citing 10 assigned errors.

            In their motion for reconsideration, the complainants through counsel Mia Manuelita MascariƱas-Green noted that the majority's finding that Dasco and Maghamil conspired with each other is merely "a short paragraph. A SHORT SHRIFT".

            "This EVIDENTLY shows the less regard which the majority accorded to lesser mortals, e. g., Dasco and Maghamil," the motion pointed out.

            It added that neither of them is a doctor of medicine or a civil engineer. (the former mayor is a doctor while his brother is a civil engineer.)

            "And, needless to state, they cannot influence anyone because they are poor," the motion added.

            The complainants noted that while the majority labored to explain why Dasco's affidavit of confession and testimony during the clarificatory hearing do not bind the respondents especially Dr. Dumaluan and Pingmay, no similar explanation was given why Dasco and Maghamil were the only ones who conspired in the commission of the crime.

            "Like for instance, why did Dasco conspire with Maghamil and vice-versa?," the motion wondered.

            The complainants said it bears emphasis that Dasco's admission regarding his participation in the commission of the crime is contained in his second affidavit executed on March 14.

            In the said affidavit, Dasco narrated that he saw Pingmay enter the room and stroke the victim. Pingmay then untied her hands and feet before raping her.

            Dasco said that the Vivian managed to loosen the covering on her mouth and proceeded to bite Pingmay on his left hand and arm and scratch him while trying to break loose, prompting Pingmay to call out to them for help.

            According to Dasco, he held both of Vivian's hands while kneeling above her head while Lapinig and Maghamil held each of her feet.

            He said Pingmay was finally able to rape Vivian repeatedly.

            Since the majority did not believe Dasco's claim that Pingmay raped Vivian, the motion asked what remains in Dasco's admission that he held Vivian's hands.

            "There is not even an iota of evidence that Dasco conspired with Maghamil. When the conspiracy was hatched in the morning of April 24, 2004 inside a room of the Dumaluan Beach Resort with Dr. Dumaluan as the brain thereof, Maghamil was not even present," the motion noted.

            Dasco had stated that present during the April 24, 2004 meeting were Dr. Dumaluan, Pingmay, Lapinig and himself.

            "And so, how could Dasco have conspired with Maghamil?", the motion asked.

            The motion said that according to the majority, Dasco's confession is admissible only against him.

            "(T)here being no evidence that Dasco conspired with Maghamil, the inevitable conclusion is that Dasco conspired with himself," the motion added.

            Calling this "absurd", the complainants said that if the majority insists in filing an information for rape with homicide against Dasco, "to be frank they would become the laughing stock among the legal circle in Bohol ".

            "Imagine, for an information of rape with homicide, a non-bailable offense, the evidence in the possession of the prosecutors is that the accused was alone (because he did not conspire with Maghamil) in holding the hands of the victim PERIOD," the motion said.

            "And, they call the act – rape with homicide!" the motion said. - published by Bohol Sunday Post

Philippine Catholic Church Frowns Abortion Bill

The local church is making its voice heard as the debate rages on the merits and demerits of a bill pending in Congress hiding under a harmless description as  reproductive health, responsible parenthood and population development. 

 Slamming the bill as nothing but a legal cover for abortion and sex education, the Diocese of Tagbilaran is calling on the faithful to attend a prayer rally on July 29 to dramatize its opposition to House Bill No 17 otherwise known as Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2007.

 According to Msgr. Jeffrey Malanog, vicar general and officer-in-charge of the diocese, the prayer rally will expect from 3,000 to 5,000 participants coming from church-mandated organizations and schools in this city.

 The debate on the propriety of the proposed reproductive bill  intensified last week when an Ozamis bishop announced that his diocese would deny communion any lawmaker found to have advocated the pro-abortion bill.

 In Bohol, the three lawmakers, Cong. Edgar Chatto, Roberto Cajes and Adam Relson Jala are true to their Catholic upbringing when they opted to become pro-life solons.

 When  asked to react on the bishop's statement, Msgr. Malanog said that prelates are free to make legislations in their own dioceses.

 In the case of the local diocese, the second in command said that he cannot make an official stand in the absence of  Bishop Leornardo Medroso,  who is in Australia. The bishop of Tagbilaran is expected to arrive today from his overseas trip.

 Msgr. Malanog said it will be a judgment call of  Bishop Medroso if he will follow the ecclesiastical directive of the Ozamis prelate.

 According to a press statement of the local diocese, the proponents of the bills (there are seven of similar nature) may deny that they included abortion but it was clear that the terms and words used, have double meaning.

 For example, the statement cited reproductive health term and its allied terms, which evolved at the Cairo Program of Action and Beijing Platform of Action in which the Philippines was one of the signatories, declared that it include abortion.

 On sex education to the youth , the statement said, it was mandated in these bills that it will be available to students from Grade 5 to fourth year. The diocese statement said under this arrangement, the young students will be exposed to promiscuity since they will view sex as just for pleasure and free for all, instead of its true meaning, for procreation and bonding for the husband and the wife.

 Bishop Medroso and Msgr. Malanog, the clergy and the rest of the faithful will come from five different points of the city and converge at the cathedral grounds on July 29.

 The group from Mansasa Chaplaincy,Mansasa Seaside,Panglao, Dauis, Baclayon, Albur, Vicariates of Holy Infant and Our Lady of the Assumption led by Fr. Julian Lupot Jr. will assemble at Mansasa-Dauis Junction.

 To assemble at the school entrance of Bohol Wisdom is the group led by Fr. Crislito Geagan coming from La Paz, Cortes, Manga, Cogon, Taloto, Vicariate of Mt. Carmel, Vicariate of St. Vincent, Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School, Bohol Wisdom School, CVSCAFT, UB, STI, Informatics, BLD, El Shaddai, FFCCWO, Lingkod ng Panginoon.

 The group from Dao, Corella, AWRET, Sikatuna, Tiptip, Lindaville, Holy Name University, Vicariate of Our Lady of Light, city government, DMI, BCBP (North and South) Cursillos in Christianity led by Fr. Manuel Mendez will assemble at Agricultural Promotions Center.

 To assemble at Dampas Chapel is the group led by Rev. Fr. Marcelo Operiano Jr. coming from Dampas, Bool, Cabawan,Tagbilaran Science High, Vicariate of St. Peter, St. Joseph Cathedral, Charismatic Renewal Movement, Couples for Christ, SCA, Divine Mercy

 The group from Taloto, Ubujan, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, COLL, Holy Spirit School, Legion of Mary, Volunteers for Prison Ministry, PMI Colleges, BIT, CWL, Knights of Columbus, Booy, Cathecists, to be led by Gerardo Saco Jr. will assemble at Cainget/Graharn Junction.

Sulpicio Lines Now Banned

The suspension of Sulpicio Lines vessels as an aftermath of the sinking of its flagship M/V Princess of the Stars created an impact on the movement of  cargoes and passengers in Bohol.

 This was the assessment of Norris Oculam, president of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry when asked to react on the possible implication to the province's transport sector as a result of the Sulpicio Lines suspension of all its passenger and cargo vessels.

 Maritime bodies regulating the operations of passenger and cargo vessels ordered the suspension of Sulpicio Lines after the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars at the height of Typhoon Frank.

 Hundreds of passengers including Boholanos perished in the sea disaster.

 At least three Sulpicio vessels used to ply the Tagbilaran and Jagna ports. Dipolog Princess used to have a weekly schedule from Manila while two other vessels plied from  the ports of Nasipit and Cagayan de Oro to Jagna.

 According to Oculam, cargoes like groceries and  construction materials which are either sourced in Manila or Cebu were affected by the ban of Sulpicio vessels.

 Even Bohol's steady supply of vegetables from Cagayan de Oro was also affected since the route from this Northern Mindanao city to Jagna was stopped.

 The suspension of Sulpicio vessels was compounded by a new Coast Guard ruling that vessels irregardless of tonnage are no longer allowed to sail when typhoon Signal No. 1 is hoisted over its port of origin , its voyage path and its ultimate destination.

 Oculam said this new ruling affected the flow of passengers and cargoes even in places like Tagbilaran.

 The BCCI president said the Coast Guard should have conformed  its directives to international standards.

 Asked if his opinion represents the stand of the BCCI, Oculam emphasized that this was the position of the majority of the chamber's board.

 However, he said, the chamber will meet first week of August to tackle its official position on the suspension of Sulpicio vessels.

 Only last Thursday,  the Philippine Roro Shipping Association in the Visayas came up with a one page ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer lamenting the suspension of Sulpicio vessels.

 The paid ad said the suspension took a toll on the shipping industry, affecting not only the passenger and cargo sectors but also other shipping operators in the inter-island transport chain.

The Culture of the Fisherfolk is Different

By Joe Espiritu
Bohol Sunday Post  

      Some barangays have been thinking of providing livelihood projects to their constituents. It is easier said than done. It will need a lot of effort by the community workers to teach the residents how to run their endeavor. And that would be the hardest part especially if one is dealing with fisherfolk.

      The culture of the fisherfolk is different. They live on the hunting and fishing stage of civilization. Their initial investment is on the fishing gear. Unlike the farmer, fisherfolks do not produce. They do not plant. They let nature do the growing for them. They only harvest. Since they do not plant, they do not care or tend what they have planted. They only harvest and after they harvest, they do not use their assets carefully to make them last until the next harvest season. And since harvest times can come at any time of the year, they do not manage their assets carefully.

     However, the fisherfolks do not live an easy life. Sometimes the catch is scarce. Sometimes stormy weather sets in and stays for long periods especially during monsoon seasons. All they can do is live off their meager assets since they have no proclivity of using them judiciously.

     To them, sustained effort is tedious, a thing to endure until one can benefit from its effects. Backyard gardening involves, tilling, planting, watering, tending, and weeding before one could harvest. If one goes into backyard livestock raising, he has to breed, wean, castrate if hogs, feed and clean before he could be able to sell his produce. With such outlook like those, introducing them to manage a livelihood project is not easy.

     In temperate countries, one has to work to survive. There are at most five months in a year to grow ones food before wintertime sets in. Both the farmer and the fisherman have to produce food and make money until the cold prevents them from venturing outside to work. The farther north one lives, the shorter is the production time so one has to scramble to amass enough reserves to tide him over the long cold season.

     Here we are living in a tropical country, which has only two distinct seasons, the rainy and dry. One can fish at any month of the year, so he is assured of a whole year round income. Stormy days will come but it will stay for at most a week only. A fisherman can be assured of a living the whole year round even if it will just be enough to get by. If one has no old age pension, he can rely on his children to keep him alive until his time is up in this world. So why kill onesse4lf working?

     However, the slow tempo of life is disappearing. There are more mouths to feed and the catch is getting scarce. The sea can no longer afford a decent way of life. Past administrations have pumped in money to induce the fisherfolk to find another source of income. Without proper preparation, the grants and dole outs had gone to waste. Perhaps this time a better program is to be introduced.

     Before a grant or dole out is to be offered, recipients will have to undergo some sort of indoctrination and a course in entrepreneurship. Only those who have passed the course will be provided capital. At the same time market research will have to be conducted. Assurance of product sales will have to be provided. If and when the project is abandoned through sheer laziness there must be someone who will be able to pick it up. Since this will be introducing another way of life, the process would be slow and tedious but there is no other way.

Trade Skills for the Boholano People

In planning an economic blueprint for the province of Bohol, we should not lose cognizance of the fact, that training more skilled tradesmen should be prioritized since this will ultimately minimize unemployment in the province. Eventually, the more skilled tradesmen we have the more people getting good opportunities for employment locally and overseas

Bohol Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas, should be congratulated since he came with an innovation of establishing a farm school in his town to train farmers which has ignited the interest of young people in his town. .

 This is something very innovative if only other towns and schools will start offering courses for educating our young people to become skilled tradesmen. Schools and even local government should utilize part of their financial resources to build and maintain training centers for skilled tradesmen.

 Maybe our universities in the province can offer three years courses in skilled trades,

 For dairy farmers, those who will graduate from the course. The Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the New Zealand government has a cattle training program, which enables the farmers to be trained and earn from milking operations of the cattle herds distributed to them A three-year training and experience in this program would qualify them for employment as a dairy farmers in New Zealand with a salary of NZ#34,000 per year. Some Davao provinces have already availed of this program. Before we forget, we must also train these farmers to learn and speak New Zealand

 English language. It is not hard to learn such language because there are already many tutorials diskettes available. New Zealand also welcomes female dairy farmers

 Our congressmen must either appropriate some of their pork barrel funds to provide for establishment of such schools. If education is provided and well-subsidized, then this will be okay. Students can afford the costs.  The congressmen can also sit down with TESDA and conceptualize these cattle-raising programs. Of course, these public officials or congressmen should have consultants to initiate such programs and make them into actual realities. It is only when we dream that we can produce and innovate results.

 The province cannot certainly remain impoverished and its residents are poor. We have a lot of unutilized resources. The only problem, nobody discovers them. - Bohol Sunday Post

The Problem With Tagbilaran City Agora Public Market

The move by Councilor Djingo Rama to agitate to review the contract for the Agora building infrastructure is rather too late in the making. This contract has been signed by the two parties, City Hall and JL Construction, thus it was already finalized. Why the review now, when the construction has started? Does Councilor Rama know that if the deal is cancelled or amended, certainly JL Construction will sue for actual and moral damages against the city government. He should better consult the advice of knowledgeable lawyers first before daring to do any review.

 Tagbilaran City government would certainly lose face and credibility if after due hearing changes would be made in the contract. A lawyer with good knowledge of contractual agreements would have much to say if some present councilors were to overhaul the whole agreement. I don't think it is Mayor Dan Lim who will be affected here although he might be the unwilling target but, it is the credibility of the city government that is at stake.

 If the contract is rescinded or construction suspended again, there will be serious legal questions and damages that it would be much better to proceed with it   than to make changes or cancel it. Rama instead of pronouncing his innate innocence on the whole thing claiming that he is only a first time councilor, should might as well study more on the torts and damages issues as they relate to this project. I hope that Councilor Rama, for all his efficiency, and brilliance is not using it as a vehicle to further damage the Mayor Lim's administration.   - Published by Sunday Post - Bohol

The Philippine Population Dilemma

     Some Catholic bishops had ordered their priests not to give communion to politicians who support the bill on reproductive health, population control and sex issues. However not all their priests agree. One of them, Fr Robert Reyes, the running priest, accused the bishops of falling into the trap of selective morality. There are other issues to face and the Filipino bishops concentrate in coercing the legislators to drop the bill, which tries to stem the runaway growth of the Philippine population. Since the voting public is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, they may yet succeed.

     Excommunication has been a thing of the past. Except for those thoroughly conditioned and indoctrinated, leaps of faith are common among the masses. People change religions or religious sects through political or economic persuasions or whatever. Politicians, the most pragmatic of the professionals may toe the Church line because of the Catholic vote. They may have to trade moral or intellectual dishonesty for political survival. But their hearts would be elsewhere.

     The Philippine population is almost 90 million. Our annual growth rate is 2.6% one of the highest in Asia. According to the Unicef, the Philippines have a fertility rate of 2.4 children per woman, one of the highest in the world outside of Africa. As of the present, we are almost 90 million and by 2025 we would reach the 130 million mark. With dwindling natural resources, it is possible that we will experience food and gas riots, which are now happening in some parts of the world. Overpopulation, uneven distribution of resources and the lowering of the standard of living would become a problem of epic proportions.

     The Catholic Church failed to make a distinction between contraception and abortion. Abortion is murder. Definitely. A living being is killed. However, prevention of the union of the male and female reproductive cells does not fall under this category. A cell, part of a living being is not the living being since it cannot live by itself. It can exist for a while but it cannot live for long. There has been arguments about when a fertilized cell becomes a human being, whether at the time of fertilization or after it had developed to a certain stage.

     The Church advocate the rhythm technique, the "natural" way, which means avoiding the union of the reproductive cells of both sexes by timing the copulation during the periods when the female is not fertile. The biological urge is one of the most powerful forces in nature. This stems from the instinct of the preservation of species. To the undisciplined, restraint is for the birds.

     To make things more difficult, determination of the fertility cycle of a human female is very intricate even to the most educated. To complicate things further, the Church frowns upon "artificial" means of preventing the fertilization union either by physical – using condoms or diaphragms, by vasectomy or tubal ligations or by chemical means – using contraceptives pills, injections or using spermicides.

     The Catholic Church is facing modern times and modern moralities. Sex education in schools is nonexistent. Despite all the laws and taboos, more and more neonates have been found on garbage dumps or thrown out of the windows. Sociologists see this crime as example of the weakening of our moral fiber. A US President once said that the doctrines of the placid past may no longer be applicable to the turbulent present, Vatican II under Pope John XXIII did bring the Church up to the present times but there are those who say that was not enough.

     The ban on the use of contraceptives is canon law, they say. However, canon law is not dogma. Physical and spiritual welfare cannot be separated since the human being is both. Overpopulation could wreak havoc on our spiritual outlook. There have been opinions that most of the poor countries in the world are predominantly Catholic.  We hope it is not true. - published by Sunday Post

Are You Afraid of Bohol Capitol Revamp of Government Workers?

By Romy Teruel

The success of reengineering in government, particularly in the provincial government of Bohol, will depend on the transparency with which it will be conducted.  People are always wary, if not fearful, of change especially if they do not know what or how this change will affect or impact on their lives.  But if they are assured of transparency, or more, if they are assured that they are part of the change process, then there is nothing really to be afraid of in change like the reengineering of the provincial government of Bohol.

The reengineering that is being contemplated and which has earned the go signal of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to proceed will impact on the people as they are the constituency of the province.  They are the beneficiary of the delivery of service of the provincial government.  

It will affect the municipal local government units as they are the extension arms of the provincial government in the delivery of services and in the implementation of development plans. Municipal local governments align their goals and objectives of development with that of the provincial government. They are the indispensable partners of the provincial government in serving the people.

The reengineering will directly affect the provincial government departments and offices as it will be their mandates, functions and duties, their business processes and operations systems that will go through review, assessment and improvements.  

But above all reengineering will affect the officers and employees of the provincial government for they are the very people who compose the organization that is the provincial government. Nobody can escape being affected by this reengineering.

But as I have pointed out earlier in this series, the reengineering is not being done to emasculate the provincial government.  It is not being done to throw people out of their jobs and livelihood.  It is not being done to deprive the Boholanos the government service they deserve. It is not being done to destroy business in the province.

On the contrary it is being done to enhance and improve the business processes and systems of service delivery.  It is being done to identify and clarify old and new mandates, functions and duties so that they are aligned with provincial and national development goals. It is being done to match competencies of employees with their job descriptions so that not only will they be comfortable doing their job but that they also become more productive. 

It is therefore clear that there is nothing to be afraid of in the objectives and purposes of reengineering for it is meant to improve government service.

Now let us see the process because it is in this that fears could draw basis from. How will the reengineering be conducted?  Is the process something that will be kept away from the stakeholders?  Will the plan suddenly appear lock-stock-and-barrel from nowhere ready for implementation in December?

It has been repeatedly said that the process will be transparent all the step of the way.  The public and employees will be informed regularly of updates on the conduct of the reengineering.  They will be consulted on changes that are being proposed.  They will be participants in the organizational assessment of their offices and in the redesign of their offices based on their mandates, functions and business processes. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials will be made available to all.

As part of this principle of transparency, the Change Management Team will conduct orientation activities on reengineering of the League of Municipalities (LMP) – Bohol Chapter, and the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) to assure them that they too have nothing to fear about reengineering. It is currently doing that to all departments and offices of the provincial government.

Other than the different teams that were organized from out of the Change Management and Sub-Change Management Teams, there is the Steering Committee that will review and pass on all proposals before the same is consolidated into a plan and transmitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for final approval.  

The Steering Committee is composed of the Governor, Vice Governor, two members of the SP, the Human Resource and Management and Development Officer, a representative of the Department Heads, a representative of the Local Finance Committee, and a representative of the Union of Employees.

What should be the clincher is that Gov. Erico B. Aumentado has assured the employees that no one will be forced to leave government service because of reengineering.

Is There A Need For Debate on Population Problem

 Tagbilaran Mayor Dan Lim says there is a need for a debate on the population problem even as he declared unequivocally that he is promoting only natural methods.

            "This is a problem that affects all of us so there is a need for everyone to be involved particularly at this stage," he stressed.

            The mayor said the runaway population is threatening the very foundation of society especially in the light of the crisis besetting the nation.

            "There is need for people to come out, stand up and be counted," he urged.

            Lim said it is sad when many people particularly those occupying public positions refuse to get involved in the problem.

            He added that the silence of government officials holding sensitive positions give rise to suspicions that they are playing safe in this problem.

            "One of the most burning issues of the day is the appropriate response to the problem of overpopulation," the mayor noted.

            Lim pointed to the great debate between those advocating only normal methods and those espousing contraceptives which is opposed primarily by the Catholic church.

            The mayor said one reason why the campaign for responsible parenthood is not succeeding is because the people are getting mixed signals from their leaders.

            "Between those who are advocating natural methods and those espousing contraceptives are many who refuse to publicly take part," he complained.

            The mayor said that if the leaders of society are paddling in different directions, it is not surprising why the campaign to instill responsibility in the people particularly those in the lower strata are failing.

            "If many of their leaders do not seem to care, why should we be surprised if many of our people do not take this matter seriously?" he asked.

            The mayor said the argument of those who push for contraceptives that the real problem is the unequal distribution of wealth is the real issue is at best speculative.

            "At this point, what we need to do is to simplify and not complicate the problem," he added.

            Lim said that while he admits that there is a wide disparity between the rich and the poor in terms of opportunities, this should not be used as an argument to justify the promotion of methods that is frowned upon as "abortion".

            At the same time, the mayor acknowledged that those who promote only natural methods have a long way to go to instill responsibility in parents.

            "Parents should be made to understand that their children are their primary responsibility and although the state also has its share of responsibility, they should not rely entirely on the government," he added.

            Lim said that if parents understand this, they themselves decide what methods to embrace to make sure they will only produce the number that they can take care of.

Boholanos Will Prevail in Hard Times

            Bohol Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera yesterday said he is confident that Boholanos will prevail despite the prevailing crisis.

            "I have faith in the Boholano and I see no reason why we will not come out triumphant of our present difficulties," he added.

            The vice-governor however said the process requires a deep resolve to start from the individual.

            "We cannot demand change from everybody else while we ourselves refuse to change," he noted.

            Herrera said that in many places today, there is a prevailing doom that borders on paralysis. He added that many people have lost their resolve to solve their problems.

            "Many people particularly those in urban areas are very angry about what is happening but they do not want to do anything about it anymore," he added.

            The vice governor said he is sad about this because there is no way for the situation to improve if people refuse to do anything.

            "Nobody else will help us so nothing will happen if we refuse to help ourselves," he added.

            According to the vice-governor, people have to make a decision to make a fresh start if they want the future to improve.

            "We have to build now if we want our children to enjoy a better life than the one we have now," he added.

            Herrera said this generation should rise from the culture of despair and frustration to stop the cycle of disappointment.

            The vice-governor challenged Boholanos to start change among themselves and not wait for things to improve in other parts of the country.

            "We have to make things happen among ourselves now," he pointed out.

            Herrera said Boholanos are better than people in other places because they have a deep faith in God and are known for their resiliency.

            "We have proven in the past that we refuse to give up in the face of crisis," he noted.

            Herrera recalled that in the past, Boholanos sought work and opportunities in other places instead of giving in to despair.

            "I have faith that the Boholanos of today, like our forefathers, will rise to the challenge of a better life," he said.

            To do that however, he said it would require people to begin a fresh resolve to change from within.

            He said people should learn to submit to authorities like their parents, the leaders in the community and the church.

            "No country will prosper unless people are obedient to authorities," he noted.

            Herrera said there is also a need for discipline starting from those in government.

            "We who are in government should set a good example for our people," he added

Tuberculosis (TB) Orientation in Bohol

     The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Health (DOH) last week jointly sponsored a one-day orientation seminar for all personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and representatives from other as sectors of the community.

      Participants from the PNP included representatives from the 47 municipal police stations and Tagbilaran City Police Station who were registered nurses, nursing graduates and Police Community Relation staff from Loon, Tubigon, Talibon, Carmen, Ubay and a representative of the provincial command.

      The orientation seminar on Tuberculosis held on July 15 at JJ's Dimsum, Tagbilaran City, was aimed at establishing a strong provincewide community support for the to campaign against Tuberculosis.

      It was held in coordination with the Provincial Health Office (PHO) as the first in a series of scheduled to be held in the future to help acquaint the police, the firefighters and the BJMP personnel on the latest trends to control the spread of TB.

      Police Senior Supt. Edgardo Ingking, provincial PNP director, tasked Police Supt. Ernesto Agas, deputy provincial director for administration, to led PNP personnel in the activity..

        Dr. Pilar Mabasa of USAID-TB LINC, the main lecturer, presented to the participants the situation which indicates that at present, Philippines posts the ninth largest incidence of tuberculosis in the world, with approximately 390,038 Filipinos having TB and 75 people dying daily from TB.

        The TB LINC Project is a new USAID-funded and DOH-led initiative that aims to sustain the coordination and collaboration of TB control partners from both the public and private sectors and support the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce TB prevalence and mortality by half by 2010 through detection and treatment process.

        The Bohol PNP participants were composed mostly of registered nurses and nursing graduates are expected to boast the campaign on TB prevention by way of information dissemination, especially to PNP personnel, detainees and the community in particular. SPO4 Lucito Redulla, OIC-PCR BRANCH, BOHOL PPO

Total Ban of Scrap Buying in Bohol?

Reason prevailed over an amassing frustration at the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) special meeting Thursday, July 17, 2008 when mayors instead voted to regulate rather than impose a total ban on the scrap metal industry.

  Admitting a total ban is too harsh for the thriving scrap buying industry, Tubigon Bohol Mayor Luna Piezas withdrew an early motion against the junk business and proposed to the LMP to regulate the business instead.

  But by regulation, scrap metal buyers may not sigh in relief yet. 

  The LMP contemplates on adopting stricter policies before scrap buying permits could be granted.

  In fact, Maribojoc Bohol Mayor Leoncio Evasco, who earlier expressed alarm over the indiscriminate use of minors and school children in the industry said he still would find ways to flag down the mobile scrap metal buyers who pass through his town.

  Mayors have been alarmed of the rising cases of live service dropwire thievery cases, the stolen items ending up in junk shops or in the hands of scrap metal buyers.

  Majority of them also air apprehension over the apparent attempt of buyers employ an army of kids who at times steal but are immune from apprehension due to an existing Juvenile Justice Act.

  Provincial lawyer Handel Lagunay, who shed his expertise at the meeting said a total ban may be unconstitutional being restrictive of free trade. 

  Over this, he went for stricter regulations from the end of mayors who can demand when business operators get permits.

  Atty. Lagunay proposed qualifications before permits can be granted, where an agreement on age regulations requirements be imposed, additional clearances before a permit grant, the right to do on the spot inspections at their shops, and buyers keeping a daily establishment logbook which traces which items are sold by whom. 

  Piezas added that there indeed is money in the business and the LGU might as well use its power to maximize its gains on the matter. 

  Meanwhile, Inabanga mayor Jose Jono Jumamoy suggested that a technical working group be organized to make a thorough study on such a broad topic. The TWG, he said would draft an ordinance as a template for all local government units to work on and enhance according to their needs.

Total Quarry Ban in Bohol?

Bohol town mayors of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan ask Capitol to look into an executive order implementing a total quarry ban in their towns and possibly rescind or amend it so they could pursue development work using local natural resources. 

  Unlike some other towns in Bohol, these 3 towns host the famed Chocolate Hills and lost their privileges to enjoy gratuitous quarry permits from government. This, most perceived disadvantageous to their cash deprived local governments wanting to do road network maintenance projects.

  Taking the cudgels for other towns, Carmen Mayor Manuel Molina has asked the Capitol, through its newly formed Task Force Kabukiran and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) led by Jagna Mayor Exuperio Lloren to intercede and exempt their towns from the ban issued by Governor Erico Aumentado.

  Governor Aumentado in 2007 issued a quarry ban within the area designated as the Chocolate Hills National Geological Monument in a bid to stop activities that would result to the defacement of the national landmark.

  However, Molina argued that the quarry site that they intend to source out materials from lie in barangay Villafuerte; and not a Chocolate Hill is noted nearby. He added the source is an existing quarry site operated by a private company. 

  The quarry, according to him, temporarily stopped operating due to the Capitol executive order. 

  If the Capitol accedes, he said the town does not need to look farther to buy for its materials source. 

  In protecting Bohol's amazing hills, Senate Bill 534 of the Chocolate Hills Protection Act of 1997 specifically protects the hills located in 32 barangays in Carmen and Sagbayan, but does not mention Villafuerte.   

  Batuan Mayor Gregoria Pepito added she too faces the same predicament. Cash-deprived Batuan, she said wished to be granted by Capitol gratuitous quarry permits so they can start rebuilding their road networks now bearing the brunt of the long rainy days.

  Sagbayan Mayor Jimmy Torrefranca on his part shares the same sentiment.

  The chocolate hills areas have also excellent sources of lime stones, rocks, soils for road surfacing and back filling materials. 

  Over this, Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO) Chief advised the mayors concerned to meet with the governor so they could appraise Capitol officials of the problem and possibly patch the infirmity of the executive order.

BEMO's Engr. Renato Villaber agreed that the Task Force Kabukiran would still apprehend illegal quarry activities unless the executive order is rescinded or amended.

How To Write Ad Headline

By Randy Lever

Writing headlines for your ads is the most important part of your online presence.  

When posting your ad to classified sites, directories, message boards, newsgroups or mailing lists, the only part of your ad that is showing is the heading. 

So, what your heading says will make the difference between your ad being read or being.................. 
....................passed right on by!

The overall importance of headings, as a means of bringing in targeted traffic to your site, is simpy immense. 
But, don't let that stop you from writing attention getting headings. 

These steps will allow you to write heading that the average surfer will want to see. 

Sit down and really go over what you're trying to sell.   Look at every word on every page of the site.  If you're selling an ebook, read it.  If it's for software or service, use it.  Learn everything you can about what you're selling.

Grab a sheet of paper and just start writing down all the phrases that can describe the product you are trying to sell.  The very first things that pop into your mind.  

Write down everything that just pops in.  Not what you have to think about, but the phrases, words or benefits associated with that product, that enter your thinking with no effort.  Write them down until you have to sit there and think of something else. 
Stop right there.  Go over what you just wrote.  If more just happen to pop in your head again, write it down.  

Since you have just looked over the product and website associated with it, everything that you wrote down is what any potential customer will also remember. 

These are all the phrases and benefits that stick out and make people buy the product.  If your emotions have been stirred (excitement, passion, happiness or any impulsive feelings that make you really want the product), then these are the same emotions that you have just written down.  

I bet if you go over your sheet of paper you will find some great headings.  If not, then you were thinking way to hard!  
Impulse buying is one of the ways that we, as Internet Marketers, get people to buy our products or use our services. 
So why not use those impulsive feeling in your ads?  # # #

Small Seaweed Farmers Congress in Bohol

     The two-day Bohol Small Seaweed Farmers Congress recently conducted at Water Gate Inn here served as venue for the campaign in conserving and protecting the marine environment of Bohol, while it emphasized the significance of farmers in socio-economic development of Bohol.

      In his message, BFAR-7 Regional Director Andres Bojos vowed to facilitate that their group will be represented in the council of seaweed producers.

      The congress was also designed to understand the current and future directions of seaweed farming in Danajon Bank and other emerging production area in Bohol; assess the various social, environmental and economic issues affecting the primary stakeholders of seaweed farming, according to the Project Seahorse Foundation (PSF).

      It was also aimed at initiating the development of an action agenda that engages relevant stakeholders and contributes to the conservation and sustainable management of socio-economically and biologically important coastal resources in Bohol and provide an arena for key stakeholder groups to explore various mechanisms for dialogue and collaboration.

      There were around 120 participants who came from the towns of Talibon as host, Bien Unido, Getafe, Buenavista, Inabanga, Clarin, Tubigon, Calape, Loon, Ubay, Carlos P. Garcia, Anda, Candijay, Mabini, Guindulman, Duero, Jagna, Panglao, and Tagbilaran City.

      On behalf of Mayor Juanario Item, Municipal Councilor Jose Wayne Evardo, chairman of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) Committee on Natural Environment and Agriculture, gave the welcome address.

      During the two-day congress, Franco Villaruel of the PSF led the group in identifying the key issues and problems affecting small seaweed farmers in Bohol.

      Eleno Evangelista of Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) presented the organizational profile of Bohol Provincial Seaweeds Farmers Association.

      Then Vice Governor Julius Caesar Herrera inducted the new set of officers of the Bohol Provincial Seaweeds Farmers Association- -Feleciano Dabasol of Bien Unido, president; Eliseo Betinol of Talibon, vice president; Wilfredo Tubal of Bien Unido, secretary; Nolasco Lego of Carlos P. Garcia, treasurer; Ramon Minguito of Inabanga, auditor; PROs are Nestor Boncales, Bien Unido; Dioscoro Canlobo and Dante Mejias of Getafe.

      Herrera encouraged the officers and members of the association to establish their own processing plant and transform their group into a cooperative to establish strength, name and voice in the society.

      As chairman of the Provincial Board Committee on Agriculture and Committee on Appropriation, he also vowed to help the organization put up their own seaweeds processing plant in the northern part of Bohol.

      Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog explained the current thrusts and directions of the provincial government's seaweed production program.

Philippine Seat at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The Philippines again made its presence felt in the United Nations (UN) with the election this week of Chairman Eugenio A. Insigne of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

In its report to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, the Philippine Mission to the UN said Insigne was elected during the 32nd meeting of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the 2008 Substantive Section of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.

Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN, said that with this election Insigne will be among 16 independent experts who will make up the Permanent Forum advisory body to the ECOSOC with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

The Permanent Forum, which was established by ECOSOC resolution 2000/22 on July 28, 2000, is called upon to provide expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the UN system through the Council, raise awareness and promote the integration and coordination of relevant activities within the UN system as well as prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues.

Davide said Insigne successfully ran against Ambassador Berenado Vunibobo, Permanent Representative of Fiji, to serve the unexpired term of the Asian representative Ms. Xiaomei Qin of China from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010.

A former government prosecutor and Philippine Congress sectoral representative for indigenous peoples, Insigne was appointed to the NCIP in 2007 and was a member of the Philippine delegation to various UN meetings in New York and Geneva.

Insigne's election followed that of Ambassador Leslie B. Gatan, Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, who was elected chairman of the preparatory meeting of the Economic and Social Committee of the 15th Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement to be held in Tehran later this month. - PNA

Philippine Mayors Oppose ARMM Election Postponement

By Mike Crismundo - PNA

Thirty five mayors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are opposing the postponement of the region's August 11 polls, this was learned on Sunday.

They claimed that postponing the scheduled elections violates the law that created the region.

Suspending the regional polls is a serious violation of Republic Act 9054, the region's charter, which provides for the conduct of regional elections every three years, they noted.

The mayors said the national government should consult them on matters concerning the regional polls as this concerns fate of autonomy.

"Postponing the elections can delay the socio-economic growth of the autonomous region," said Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay.

The provincial governors are also opposed to its deferment, saying "it will delay the continuous development in the region", which is now gaining headway very ostensibly.

ARMM Executive Secretary Atty. Oscar Sampulna said the governors and other local officials want the regional election held as scheduled.

The other day, House Speaker Prospero Nograles before local newsmen in Southern Mindanao, said he is not inclined to the idea of postponing the ARMM elections.

Early this month, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sought postponement of the ARMM polls "in deference to the GRP-MILF peace talks."

Big 3 Oil Firms Cut Fuel Price by P1.50

Heeding to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's appeal, at least three oil companies -- Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp., and Eastern Petroleum Corp -- announced they will reduce the prices of their diesel products by P1.50 per liter starting Sunday midnight.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, in a press conference on Sunday, said the President earlier issued an appeal to oil companies in the country in the light of the recent P3 increase especially on diesel fuel that took effect Saturday noontime in an effort to cushion the impact of such increases to the people.

He said President Arroyo had instructed Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in coordination with Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to convey her appeal to the main players of the oil industry in the Philippines.

"We are happy to announce that there was positive response from oil companies," Dureza said.

Effective Sunday midnight, a roll back of P1.50 per liter for diesel fuel will be made," he said.

Malacanang thanked these oil companies for immediately responding to the President's call.

"We expressed our thanks to the oil companies for responding positively to this. It will go a long way in cushioning the impact (of oil prices) on the Filipino people especially those using diesel fuel," Dureza said.

Oil companies raised diesel prices by P3 per liter on Saturday, pegging diesel close to P59 per liter.

The increase shocked motorists and prompted jeepney operators to call for a transport strike.

Oil industry officials have said the increases are unavoidable as local prices are still below global levels.

Ermita earlier said that the Big 3 oil firms -- Petron, Caltex, and Shell -- and new oil players should be able to explain before the public their decision to raise diesel by as much as P3 a liter, kerosene by P1.50 a liter, and gasoline by P1 a liter.

Philippine DSWD Begins Rehab of Typhoon-affected Provinces

Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita said this morning that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has begun implementing its intensive recovery and rehabilitation projects for typhoon victims in Region IV-B (MIMAROPA), V (Bicol) and VI (Iloilo).

Ermita updated the media on the latest developments in the government's rehabilitation efforts for victims of Typhoon Frank, and the implementation of pro-poor programs that are aimed to mitigate the continuing rise in the price of oil and commodities due to global forces.

He said some P33.9 million has been allocated under the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for the repair of 1,243 shelters in Kalibo, 240 in Iloilo City, 100 in Iloilo province, and 35 in Antique.

These efforts are focused on the repair of totally damaged houses through the ESA and the Cash and Food-for-Work (C/FFW) and livelihood assistance programs, he said.

To date DSWD has provided P40 million in relief augmentation to typhoon affected local government units in the form of relief, financial, livelihood and C/FFW.

In addition, the government, through DSWD, has released P70.47 million to the affected regions for, among others, the purchase of relief supplies.

In the meantime, Ermita also reported that based on Landbank data, the first P2-billion tranche of the Katas ng E-VAT on oil subsidy program, which has been channeled to the DSWD under the government's Pantawid Kuryente, has already benefited 916,444 claimants in Meralco-franchised areas in Metro Manila, and Regions III and IV-A, in the amount of P458 million.

This constitutes 88 percent of claimants in Metro Manila, 49 percent in Region III, and 40 percent in Regions IV-A.

On the other hand, Ermita also said that the National Electrification Administration has reported that 840,1331 lifeline users under its jurisdiction were served in the amount of P420 million. This comprised 18 percent of the 4.7 million target beneficiaries under NEA cooperatives. The initial P2-billion tranche is targeted to serve four million lifeline users.

A second P1-billion tranche for the above program was release last week by the President, for two million more beneficiaries, bringing the overall total to six million beneficiaries, or 75 percent of the eight million lifeline users. - PNA

Saturday, July 19, 2008

State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Arroyo: What's Next

Since the 2007 State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, what has been done in education? 

Tracking the 2007 SONA targets in education, this paper has gathered the biggest achievements the Administration has implemented based on its previous targets.

In 2007, the President told that country would spend P150 B investments, the figure P29 billion more than the annual allocation. Just where did the investment go?

According to an independent research, from the amount, the country has maximized its power to hire and open new teaching positions with 53,026 posts created, the biggest number hired in the past year. 

As to scholarships, the government has dispensed 563,906 financial subsidies to students, another P475,560 for the scholarship funds for students enrolled in the public schools in the form of Educational Service Contracting agreements and another P88,346 for educational vouchers to students now enrolled in the private schools. 

The scholarships aim to decongest public high schools by sending its spill-over to the private schools and subsidizing their educational fees.

In the vocational schools alone, the government turned over P1 billion to the country's premier skills training agency for vocational scholarships.

Aside from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) P1B funds, another billion was released for its scholarship programs, and the Training for work scholarships availed by the students, and the rest went to the students' loan program, TESDA sources revealed. 

In the year alone, TESDA reported 96,809 graduates who were lined up for immediate work both here and abroad.

In the same line, from the same amount, about another billion were invested to support further studies in engineering research and technology development program.

The amount is also part of the P3 billion science and engineering research and development technology including masters degree scholarships in the country's seven universities, the country's Education department record shows. - PIA

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Job Vacancy: Philippines-Canada Cooperation Office (PCCO) In Need of Gender Equality Adviser

The Philippines-Canada Cooperation Office (PCCO) is currently looking for a GENDER EQUALITY ADVISER (GEA), who will be tasked to assist the CIDA Philippines Program in implementing the agency's gender equality policy. 

A detailed Terms of Reference (TOR) for this consulting position is attached for your reference (this is also posted at the PCCO website at  Specific requirements for the position are as follows: 


§   tertiary preferably with post graduate studies in social science or other relevant discipline

§   relevant training in gender and development, governance, private sector development and local economic development


Demonstrated gender and development knowledge and experience as it relates to institutional strengthening, poverty reduction, private sector development, governance, environment and local economic development, specifically:

§   extensive knowledge and grasp of the changing context (opportunities, constraints, risks, impacts, results and indicators) for promoting gender equality in development work in the country

§   previous experience developing policy papers, program/institutional frameworks and strategies demonstrating the complementation of gender equality with various development sectors and themes

§   solid experience in capacity building focusing on identifying needs, developing appropriate strategies and materials to facilitate transfer of technology (knowledge and skills) and developing and applying participatory approaches in the conduct of technical assistance, networking and monitoring and research

§   extensive experience in program/project level planning, designing, implementation, monitoring, assessment and management

§   substantial experience with international donors, NGOs and government agencies; also experience working as a member of multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams

§   previous work experience or familiarity with the CIDA development program, and its results-based management framework

§   proven strong and effective networking and advocacy experience in promoting gender equality with organizations (NGOs/Government -- local and national)


§   demonstrate appropriate interpersonal and relationship building skills with partners and other stakeholders with various cultures and discipline

§   demonstrate multi-tasking skills and the ability to prioritize and deliver outputs as required

§   ability to work independently in remote locations under adverse conditions

§   computer operating skills at a level sufficient to undertake the tasks

This consulting work will be on a part-time, contractual arrangement with PCCO thru its implementing agency, Coffey Philippines, Inc.  The level of effort (number of work days) will range from 8-10 days per month for one year.  The professional fee is subject to negotiation, and up to a maximum of Php15,000 per day.   

Those who are qualified and interested to apply for this consulting position must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).  The EOI must be limited to 2 pages only and must contain the following information:

a. Complete name and current contact information (email address, telephone and cellphone numbers)

b. related formal education and special training

c. related knowledge and experience

d. specific skills and know-how that will be useful in this consulting job

e. preferred consulting fee per day excluding reimbursable expenses such as local travel during field visits (N.B. the per diem rate/financial part comprises 20% of the assessment with the technical qualifications accounting for the remaining 80%).  

Please send your EOI via email on or before 5pm Thursday, 31 July 2008, to:, Subject:  EOI - GEA 

Only EOIs sent via email will be accepted (we will not accept faxed or hand-carried applications).  A shortlist of successful candidates will be selected within 1-2 weeks.  Only the successful candidates will be acknowledged.

For those already registered with the PCCO CV database, you do not need to submit your current detailed CV (just update online thru your personal account, if you need to). For those who have not yet registered with us, please do so online by accessing our website ( and submit a copy of your current CV to our registry.

We thank you in advance for your interest.  We look forward to receiving your EOI on or before the specified deadline.


General Manager

Philippines-Canada Cooperation Office (PCCO)

The Program Support Unit of CIDA in the Philippines

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Abolish Philippine Value Added Tax (VAT) Burden Campaign

A signature campaign seeking for the removal of the 12% value added tax (VAT) on petroleum products and power is launched here by militant groups.

Bayan Bohol spearheads the campaign together with its allied organizations from the drivers, women and students sectors.

Effective Saturday, prices of fuel hit over P60 per liter as several bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives on the suspension and removal of VAT on oil and power remain pending.

There are two bills pending at the Senate that seek to suspend or scrap the oil VAT.

Senate Bill (SB) 1962 filed by Senator Mar Roxas proposes to suspend the imposition of the oil VAT for six months. SB 1977 of Senator Miguel Zubiri, on the other hand, offers to exempt petroleum products (as well as electricity) from the tax.

SB 1962 and SB 1977 have been pending at the ways and means committee of the Senate since December 2007. At the House of Representatives, the Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) has filed House Bill (HB) 3442 to cancel the R-VAT while Bayan Muna has also filed a bill calling for the cancellation of the VAT on petroleum products. However, these measures have yet to be scheduled for first reading.

"Everyone is affected, from households to business, everyone is complaining over government's inaction," Bayan Bohol secretary general John Ruiz III said in a press statement.

Removing the value added tax on power and petroleum products will give consumers immediate relief from the rising prices, he said.

Taking off 12% on the current price of premium gas which is sold at P60 per liter would translate to about P7 savings.

Bayan said a stronger stance is necessary from the government considering that the rise in oil prices worldwide is due largely to speculation in commodity futures.

There have been studies saying that as much as 60% of world oil prices come from sheer price speculation.

"Government has a duty to protect its consumers from such an exploitative scheme and should not allow the big oil companies to merely pass on the alleged under-recoveries. Transfer-pricing and the deregulated policy are conditions being exploited by price speculators," Ruiz added.

Bayan believes that it is justifiable to exempt oil and power from VAT as immediate relief of the present crisis and it can be done through a combination of direct action by the people together with pro-people legislation.- Kit Bagaipo, The Bohol Chronicle

Bohol Capitol Re-Engineering: What's In It For You?

By Kit Bagaipo

Even as consultations with the different offices of the provincial government is ongoing, the re-engineering of Capitol employees will formally start at the end of this year.

This was bared by provincial government Human Resources and Management Development Officer Romeo Teruel saying that the re-engineering system will be in place by 2009.

Capitol employees have expressed concern over the program fearing for their job security especially personnel who are under-qualified for the positions they are currently holding.

However, Teruel reiterated the assurance of Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado that the fears of employees are just misconceptions and presumptions.

Aumentado had said that employees who do not meet the qualifications of their position will be re-assigned to where their skills can be utilized.

The reengineering project is made possible through a grant from the Australian government under the Philippine-Australian Human Resource Development Facility (PAHRDF). The facility envisions achieving a sharper focus of Human Resource Management and Development (HRMD) assistance in the Philippines. PAHRDF provides long and short term training support for its partner institutions. These HRMD interventions are designed to meet priority workplace development objectives. They complement existing initiatives that facilitate the achievement of identified development agenda.

Provincial Government Media Affairs (PGMA) head Antonieto Pernia said the re-engineering program aims to improve the delivery of services at the various offices of the provincial government by also implementing changes in personnel according to their competencies.- The Bohol Chronicle