Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bohol Philippines Bullish on Hybrid Rice Program

By Kit Bagaipo

The Bohol Chronicle

Bohol's P15-million rice hybridization program was formally launched Monday in a bid to address the remaining 15-percent gap in the province's rice sufficiency.

The launching, which was attended by municipal mayors and key provincial government officials involved in the food sufficiency program were urged by Gov. Erico Aumentado to ensure abundant harvest to raise Bohol's rice adequacy to 100-percent by 2009.

The program, called RACER (Rice Accelerated Enhancement Response) will give P1,400 of subsidy to farmers in 15 municipalities.

The subsidy will be distributed in bags of certified and hybrid rice seeds.

In an interview with the Chronicle yesterday, the governor said that since the issuance of his executive order that regulates rice shipments to traders outside the province, the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) and the National Food Authority (NFA) said that the sufficiency level has risen to 85-percent, from a 82-percent last month.

Aumentado said, so far rice shipments have been limited to about 5,000 bags since the EO was issued and that prices of rice sold in the market has gone down.

Aside from hybridization of rice, RACER identifies two other steps to address the rice crisis and to improve harvests in the province.

The provincial government, through the mayors, is urging farmers to expand the area of their rice and corn fields.

Aumentado targets an additional 1,000 hectares by the end of 2008.

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) project manager Modesto Membreve was also instructed by the governor to fast-track the land-levelling program at the Bohol Irrigation Project (BHIP) Stage 2 service areas while water in the Bayongan Dam is still abundant.

Presently, the Bayongan irrigation facility serves only about 800 hectares of its target service area of 5,300 hectares.

The governor told agriculture technicians to determine areas only with slopes of between 12-18 degrees for biofuel production, those with 18 degrees for endemic trees to maintain biodiversity.

As suggested by Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera, expanding agricultural production areas can also be done by raising taxes to idle but arable lands. This is the third part of the RACER program.

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The Philippine President Coming Back to Bohol Province

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be coming back to the province to officially "switch the green light" for the construction of the Panglao Bohol International Airport.

The President was here last Tuesday to personally lead a caravan of her Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) program with Tubigon Port as their port of entry and exited through Jagna Port, both newly expanded sea ports in the province.

The Presidents' next visit is set on May 20, barely less than a month when she launched Bohol as part of the nautical highway.

During an exclusive interview over station dyRD last Tuesday, the President expressed elation for the excellent roads in the province. She, together with Bohol officials and DOTC Sec. Leandro Mendoza boarded the Ceres Liner tourist bus from Tubigon to Jagna.

She announced that her next visit to Bohol will signal the commencement of works of the much delayed Panglao Bohol International Airport.

President Arroyo may not be the guest of honor during the celebration of the 1st Bohol-Jiangxi Friendship Day on May 8.

Her office earlier confirmed her attendance to both activities on May 8 but she called her regrets to Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado shortly after she inaugurated the Cebu-Bohol and Jagna (Bohol)-Camiguin-Cagayan de Oro legs of the SRNH on April 29, saying that equally pressing matters needing her personal attention cropped up.

She will return on May 20 and 21 instead - to participate in a diving activity in Balicasag Island off the resort town of Panglao, to lower into the ground at the terminal site the time capsule for the P4.2 billion Panglao Bohol International Airport, and to view the Chocolate Hills in Carmen town and campaign for more votes for it to earn a berth in the ongoing search for the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

The undersea world of Balicasag, Aumentado quoted President Arroyo as saying, is one of the top three best dive sites in the world.

He also said aside from the Chocolate Hills, the President has been strongly campaigning for votes for the Tubbataha Reef and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, both in Palawan.- The Bohol Chronicle

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Stop Panglao Airport Project. Philippine Government Wasting Money

Written By Bingo P. Dejaresco III

The Bohol Chronicle, Editor

A group of Concerned Boholanos in the province and Metro Manila has sought a multi-sectoral dialogue with the Provincial Government with respect to the proposed New Panglao Airport facility.

The airport project, a medium term priority project of the National Government, is set for ground breaking by President GMA this month with the airport construction set for the month of July 2008.

The Group feels that Government should put all cards on the table before proceeding on the project - for the enlightenment of all sectors - because the huge project has tremendous long-term economic, social, ecological and geographic impact on Bohol.

In a statement of "Appeal for Clarification" appearing somewhere in this issue, the Group points out that the Panglao Airport project should be consistent with the Provincial Government's "philosophy of eco-tourism and balanced development."


The P4-billion Panglao airport project, under the implementing arm of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), was once reported to be funded by DOTC advances (as counterpart Filipino funding to a Japanese subsidized loan) to be charged against long-term receivables of Taipan Lucio Tan, whose giant airlines (PAL) utilizes part the NAIA international airport and terminal.

Dr. Ernesto Pernia, former Lead Economist of the Asian Develoment Bank (ADB) and Professor of Economics of the University of the Philippines thinks there is still time to "pause and analyze" the airport project instead of rushing head-on into the humongous investment with many things still kept in the dark.

A "cost benefit" analysis of the project - considering the huge outlay of P4 billion - must be measured against alternative uses of the funds to boost agricultural productivity, education and other basic concerns appeared to be in order, he was quoted.

Dr. Pernia shares the view that the Mactan International Airport is currently underutilized and therefore the Panglao airport with international capabilities will be an investment in redundancy. "It can result in two under-utilized international airports," the Economics Professor said.

Dr. Pernia instead suggested the possibility of perhaps building a small wharf in Mactan Island specifically to ferry out tourists and visitors straight to Bohol's various ports of entry. "That will cut travel time going to Cebu City and its traffic and waiting for the vessels to depart. The quick route and the sea travel can be part of the tourist attraction as well."


It may be recalled that as early as 30 years ago, there was already a foreseen need for a better domestic airport.

The servicing of that need could skirt the Tagbilaran City airport geographic limitations by possibly transferring the domestic airport to Cortes or Antequera which are near the city, according to the former chief economist of the multinational bank.

There appears to be an apparent need for the Provincial Government to explain more thoroughly to the public at large the scale of the airport, the long-term implications on the resources like water and power and why the seeming urgency in putting up the facility, it was observed.

On the other hand, Dr. Pernia opined that the massive airport build-up right in the center of a relatively small island like Panglao may not be ecologically sound with the sonic boom, fuel risks and the like. He sees the need to take a harder look at the impact of such an infrastructure and the overall development thereafter over the treasured biodiversity of the island tourist-jewel.

To this date, Panglao does not have adequate supply of potable water and the many of the resorts still violate the 20-meter "salvage" zone restrictions. The U.P. professor remarked that the provincial government had anchored its growth on the parallel goal of protecting the environment, per the government's own pronouncements. "The government must be consistent there," he qualified.

Pernia cautioned that there is no "rush" to establish a large-scale airport now and hinted of "Phases" in setting up the airport - considering that Filipinos are still direly lacking in other basic needs like food, medicine and shelter.

Dr. Pernia appeared perplexed at the apparent mushrooming of "international airports" like those in Davao and Iloilo and cautioned there could be a tourism slowdown in the next three years due to the world economy facing high oil prices and an impending USA recession.


The appeal for a dialogue with Government in order to cover all bases was met by enthusiastic support by leading Boholano leaders and academicians as shown by the list of signatories to the appeal.

Aside from Dr. Pernia, those who signed the "Appeal for Clarification" in Manila included: Dr. Jose V. Abueva, former President of the University of the Philippines, Napoleon V. Abueva, national artist, Dr. Caesar Saloma, professor of physics, UP; Atty. Hernan Cimafranca, Assistant Government Corporate Counsel, Atty Dionisio de la Serna, former Chairman HUDCC, Sister Bernadette Oppus, SSps-Administrator of the Lourdes Hospital , Dr Raul Fabella, and Dr Ramon Clarete, both professors of economics of the U.P.

The move is supported by the 'Boholanos for Truth, Transparency and Reform" made up of more than 1,000 leaders of various groups and individuals.

Among those who support the "Panglao Airport" dialogue are Businessman-entrepreneur Fred Ong, Monsgr. Feliciano Jr. (parish priest, Taloto Parish), Atty. Isabelo Sales (IBP-Tagbilaran City), Atty. Raul Barbarona (Bangon-Code NGO), Monsgr. Robesfierre Moreno (vicar general - Iglesia Pilipina Independencia), Pastor Gaudencio Antipuesto (Tagbilaran Evangelical Association of Ministers), Pastor Fely Benchavez (United Church of Christ of the Phils.), former Governor Rene Relampagos (business sector), Engr. Nilo Sarigumba (Bacosh), Chito Castillo (business sector);

Maya Flores (youth sector) Alberto Sanvictores (business sector), Engr. Vicente Loquellano (National Anti-Poverty) and Fe Tocmo (womens group-Tagbilaran City).

Other members of the "Boholanos for Truth, Transparency and Reform" are found in the "Appeal" announcement in this issue.


This proposed Panglao Bohol International Airport has been scrutinized and studied by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) over the years, according to Gov. Erico Aumentado when asked by the Chronicle.

He said that a research study conducted by HNU Poll showed that 99% of the residents in the province favored the construction of the new airport.

He expressed confidence that ecological impact of the proposed airport has already been conducted extensively years before.

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Bohol: Philippine Model on Eco-Tourism

Eco-cultural tourism was then an unthinkable word, until the Boholanos showed what it is.

Entirely packaging a tourism that is a spin-off from the traditional definitions, Bohol's eco-tourism has made it a model for the country, admits Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, during awarding ceremonies of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Turismo Mismo grantees in Magtangtang Danao, Bohol.

"Even at a time when eco-tourism was not crafted yet, the Boholanos were able to define it," he said after going through the Eco, Educational, Extreme Adventure Tourism (EAT) in Danao.

The eco-tourism concept is one where there is responsible travel to nature areas, doing activities like birdwatching, caving, farm visits and rice field walks, kayaking or simply sightseeing.

In Danao, local officials led by Mayor Thomas Louis Gonzaga also put in a twist in their adventure tourism by introducing river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock and root climbing and even bungee jumping.

The concept is to integrate all these in a huge nature park which has been the base camp of a revered Boholano hero; Francisco Dagohoy, while instilling in the tourists' mind the idea of preserving nature, the natural landscape, the watershed, the forest ecosystem and the town's history and cultural heritage, said a billboard at the park's jump-off point.

In fact, even Cong. Edgar Chatto also confessed that when the House of Representatives deliberated on the bid for Bohol to be declared an eco-cultural tourism destination in the country, legislators called it a misnomer.

Legislators said [being] cultural also encompasses the ecology and the environment.

Chatto said he argued that it took the Boholanos about seven months to craft the vision for Bohol, and eco-cultural tourism is what they meant.

He said the House legislators finally agreed to adopt the term, after the local representative detailed the meaning of the word according to the Boholanos.

Chatto, who was a vice governor then was a key instrument in the crafting of Bohol's tourism vision as a province.

On eco-tourism, Durano asserts that Danao Bohol's tourism direction is basically what the DOT's Turismo Mismo is all about.

The department spun a campaign of not just giving people jobs, which seems to be superficial, but on giving people livelihood, which would make the projects sustainable.- published by the Bohol Chronicle

Is Cebu Pacific Airline Honest With Its So-called Low Fare Promo?

If you'd ask this question, I doubt if you could get a YES answer. People have been complaining over Cebu Pacific's Low Fare Hype, saying they were tricked to buy tickets at Cebu Pacific Air because of the Low Fare Promo the airline is trumpeting.

"But the truth of the matter," the travellers said, "it's all marketing brouhaha. You will be paying the same amount of plane tickets."

Whatever it is, here's the latest Cebu Pacific Low Fare Promo. This news is released from Cebu Pacific's PR Department.

Low-fare leader Cebu Pacific (CEB) is offering more than 500,000 domestic and international seats at zero fares.  The promotional seat sale will run from May 15 to 18, 2008 or until the allocated seats are sold out.  Travel period is from June 9 to December 31, 2008.

CEB allocated more than 100,000 seats for its international routes that include:  Bangkok, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kaohsiung, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Taipei, Shanghai, Singapore and Xiamen. More than 400,000 seats have been allocated for all of CEB's domestic routes.

Candice Iyog, CEB vice president for marketing and product, said, "This is our biggest seat sale, to date.  We are offering yet another first in Philippine aviation history by offering zero fares to international destinations as well.  This is to further stimulate domestic and international travel in spite of rising fuel costs.  We hope that the riding public will take advantage of this promotion."

The airfare is free.  Passengers will only pay for taxes, as well as fuel and insurance surcharges which are non-refundable.  Iyog explained, "The best way to book flights is via CEB's website.

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