Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2 Tourist Destinations in Caraga Declared Protected Zone

By Robert E. Roperos

Philippine News Agency | Butuan City -  Out of the ten priority protected areas in the Philippines, two tourist destinations in the region are among those that has been declared by the Philippine government, thru the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas (NIPA).

This was learned from Miro Ajoc, coordinator of the Sohoton Cove located in the northern part of Siargao Islands and Bukas Grande during the visit of the first inter-regional caravan team recently.

According to Ajoc, Sohoton Cove is one of the hidden treasures of Caraga Region and has been declared protected area because of its uniqueness having rare species of flora and fauna as well as the marine lives present in the area.

The landscapes and seascape of the island is considered a surfer's paradise with extensive system of old-growth mangrove forest and rich marine reserves.

Ajoc added that aside from the Siargao and Bukas Grande Islands, Agusan Marsh in Agusan del Sur was also declared protected because it is a sanctuary for wildlife. It is the most biologically diverse marshland in the country, where more than 200 species of birds from neighboring countries like Japan and China, and even as far as Russia spend during the winter months.

Other protected areas in the country are the Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Subic-Bataan Natural Park, Apo Reef Natural Park, Mount Kanlaon Natural Park, Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mount Apo Natural Park, and Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary.

Located at the northernmost part of the Philippines, Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes is composed of scenic islands and beautiful seascapes inhabited by the indigenous Ivatans peoples. It has a high level of floral endemicity and is a major flyway for migratory birds from northern Asia.

The largest and most important protected area in the country in terms of biodiversity is the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. It is the home to 12 of habitat types and 40 species of wildlife (most of them endemic) included in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) list of globally threatened species.

The Subic-Bataan Natural Park is the major protected area nearest to Manila and a test case to demonstrate how the nation's economic development can take place successfully alongside the conservation of the country's last remaining forests.

The Apo Reef Natural Park is the biggest atoll-type reef in the Philippines and a natural haven for marine and bird life, and a variety of endangered plants.

Mount Kanlaon Natural Park in Negros is an active volcano and the tallest peak in the Visayas Group of islands, which is also a microcosm of the fragmented state of Philippine ecosystems.

Another protected area located in the central part of Mindanao is the Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park. This is the second highest peak in the country and the headwater catchment area for the major rivers of Northern Mindanao and home of the Talaandig, Higaonon, and Bukidnon tribes, as well as the Philippine eagle.

The country's tallest peak and host to a diverse variety of endemic flora and fauna is the Mount Apo where its Natural Park has been included in the areas that has been protected. Mount Apo is the home to numerous indigenous cultural communities.

Philippine NFA Shuts Down Rice Dealers in Bohol

By Kit Bagaipo | The Bohol Chronicle: The National Food Authority (NFA) Bohol has closed down at least 13 rice retailers here in the province for overpricing and rice adulteration.

NFA- Bohol Assistant Manager Ma. Fe Evasco told the Chronicle yesterday the rice outlets were totally closed as their violations are considered as grave offenses.

NFA monitoring teams conducted raids this week and caught the violators. Instead of selling the government subsidized rice (NFA rice) at P18.25 per kilo these were sold at a much higher price, said Evasco.

Some of the 13 authorized rice retailers were likewise caught mixing the NFA rice with commercial rice varieties (adulteration) which are also sold at a higher price.

There were outlets caught diverting or selling government subsidized rice in another place other than the authorized retailers' stall.

"All NFA rice retail outlets should follow NFA rules and regulations," Evasco stressed. "These outlets are accredited by us in order for them to sell NFA rice at P18.25 per kilo."

According to Evasco, normally they just suspend or cancel accreditation of the rice retailers depending on the violation committed.

Recently, an accredited NFA rice retailer in Janopol, Balilihan was caught by police mixing NFA rice with commercial rice.

When asked regarding the present supply of rice in the province, Evasco pointed out that there is no shortage.

"The issue of rice shortage is brought about by the disparity of the price of the NFA rice compared to the commercial rice varieties," she said.

Evasco bared that about 100,000 bags of rice are shipped weekly into the province from the NFA depot in Cebu and are stocked at the Tagbilaran and Ubay wharehouses.

Bohol is currently about 85-percent rice sufficient, said Evasco. By 2009, the province's sufficiency rate is expected to hit 100-percent with the provincial government's Rice Accelerated Emergency Response (RACER) project which received a P15-million funding.

PBA's Purefoods Giants Invade Bohol's Gerry's Grills

The Bohol Chronicle | Press Release: Known to be the PBA's official bar and grill, Gerry's Grill at the 4th level of BQ Mall hosted the "Giants" to a buffet of selected healthful food.

After intensive practice at the Calape Gymnasium, the players came to Tagbilaran to dine, though they arrived a little late for dinner, fans have waited in line to get a glimpse of their favorite stars.

The cagers came back for lunch the following day, sharing a la carte of steamed plapla, chicken kebab, beef spareribs and sinigang na hipon. Taking the opportunity, fans took pictures.

The game at the Calape gymnasium has proven the team's skills. James Yap took consecutive three-point shots. More power plays added heightened thrills.

The following day, the cagers took their breakfast at the MetroCentre Hotel resto where they were billeted.

As they bid goodbye to their local fans, the cagers promised to return to Tagbilaran City which they described as a city of beautiful and friendly people.

Panglao Bohol Airport Irregularities in Collecting Notarial Fees?

By Ric V Obedencio | Bohol Media: There are no irregularities in imposing and collecting notarial fee of 3.5% by lawyers of the Provincial Legal Office (PLO) on land purchased for the Panglao airport.

PLO chief Atty. Handel Lagunay issued the clarification anew over the questioned notarial fee in connection with the land acquisition for the controversial 211-hectare Panglao Bohol International Airport project set for groundbreaking by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on May 20.

The issues on several fees on airport land acquisition, including notarial fee, surfaced again during the airport forum held at Jojie's Bakeshop last week in this city where Dr. Ernesto Pernia, professor of economics of the University of the Philippines (UP) was the guest along with organizers of the newly formed Bohol for Truth, Accountability and Reform (BTAR).

Pernia raised several concerns regarding the viability of the Panglao airport project, saying it becomes a moral issue and question of priority and yet the government can afford to spend billions of pesos for the airport project that may not be necessary at this time of economic hardship while most Boholanos are languishing in dire poverty.

The said forum was attended by former Panglao mayor Doloreich Dumaluan, former Panglao town Tourism councilman Agustin Cloribel, private and business sectors and Albur town residents opposed to sanitary landfill project which was linked to the airport project.

Panglao's solid wastes generated from beach resorts are expected to be dumped in Albur, about 20 kms. from here, once the landfill project is completed.

Lagunay, in an interview yesterday, explained that the notarial services by lawyers who happened to be employees of the PLO are legal and allowable under the law, aside from the fact that lot purchase is not part of their function and duties.

He said that lawyers under his office are not forbidden to practice their professions.

He stressed that all notarial fees collected by lawyers concerned are subjected to withholding tax with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

He also brushed aside allegations that the notarial fee is cornered by PLO, adding that other lawyers who are not connected with the PLO also came into the picture and the lot owners have always the options to choose their lawyers in the land deal with the Department of Transportation and Communications.

For his part, Cloribel said that notarial fee is not only one being charged against the sale of lots. Charges, such as broker fee of about 3%, heir's bond, 1.5% and processing fee, 1.5%, are also done. What is left to the owners may amount only to about or between PhP30 and PhP35 as net of the P60 per square meter after the purchase.

He also disputed claim of about 80% of the total lots have already been paid. He said based on some owners accounts there are only about 30% who have been paid and maybe 80% are being processed but not yet paid.

He is also in quandary for what is the other charges of 10% and where it goes, which may be considered as 'unexplained' or 'ghost' charges. Asked whether the airport project proponents explained the 'ghost' 10% charge, he said in the negative.- The Bohol Standard

Asia Foundation nominated Cecil Flores-Oebanda for Skoll Foundation's Award

The Philippines is one of the world's leading sources of migrant workers. Domestically, there is also large scale internal migration, as people seek what they believe will be better financial opportunities.

Although many of these workers travel and undertake their assignments as planned, a significant number of Filipinos, including children, fall prey to traffickers who exploit them for sex-work and abusive labor.

Today, The Asia Foundation and others working to combat human trafficking gathered to celebrate Visayan Forum Foundation President Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda's recognition as a social entrepreneur by Skoll Foundation.

Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is a leader in the struggle against human trafficking and child labor in the Philippines. The Founder and President of Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., she works for the welfare of marginalized migrants, especially those in the invisible and informal sectors such as domestic and sex workers.

In recognition of her innovative and successful efforts, after a highly competitive international search, she was selected to receive the Skoll Foundation's Award for Social Entrepreneurship. The award was presented to Ms. Oebanda by the Skoll Foundation on April 27 at the University of Oxford in England. Present for the award was former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

According to the U.S.-based Skoll Foundation, Ms. Oebanda is "the first Asian awardee, who will join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions for tackling the world's most urgent social and economic challenges."

Ms. Oebanda said that "The Visayan Forum wants to see the day where human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery, is abolished. Through the concerted efforts of various stakeholders, we want to create a counter-culture against deceit and abuse.

We want to ensure that operations of traffickers will be increasingly difficult and young people, especially women, will be able to find work and explore opportunities without the risk of being abused, exploited, sold and enslaved."

"The Asia Foundation nominated Cecil Flores-Oebanda for this honor because of her valuable contribution to addressing gender-based violence, particularly human trafficking, in the Philippines," said Maribel Buenaobra, Managing Program Officer at The Asia Foundation.

Flat Bed Rice Dryers Given to 37-Rice Producing Provinces in the Philippines

Written By Bruce Zabala - Bohol Media

The Department of Agriculture has so far installed over 500 of the 1,000 flatbed dryers that the DA is set to put up in 37 rice-producing provinces across the country this year, in step with the long-term government goal to guarantee stable rice supply and prices through record-high yields of the grain till 2010.

In its report to DA Secretary Arthur Yap, the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) said that as of May 5, it has already installed at least 53 flatbed dryers in Nueva Ecija, one of Luzon's largest rice-production sites.

At least Ten (10) flatbed dryers were also installed as of last month in Iloilo; six (6) each in Bulacan, Bohol and Leyte; five (5) each in Zamboanga del Sur, South Cotabato and Agusan del Sur; four (4) each in Davao del Sur, Kalinga, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija; three (3) in Pangasinan; two (2) in Camarines Sur; and one (1) each in Tarlac, Occidental Mindoro and Isabela, according to BPRE Director Ricardo Cachuela, who gave an update on the status of the project during the last DA Management Committee meeting.

Cachuela said the BPRE is putting on the fast track the completion of this project, which this DA-attached office is implementing in Irrigators' Associations (IA) sites in cooperation with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), National Food Authority (NFA) and the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor).

Yap said this postharvest support for rice clusters nationwide will be complemented by continuing subsidies for seeds and inputs, disease prevention measures, and the repair and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities in unusable lands to help attain the goal of producing an all-time high of 17.24 million metric tons (MT) of rice this year and even higher yields in 2009 and onwards.

The DA is carrying out a twin-pronged approach to guarantee stable stocks and prices of rice in the short and long terms, which involves sustaining higher palay production in the years to come and in the meantime securing imports while the government is still in the process of attaining its food security or self-sufficiency targets.

Palay production reached a record 16.24 million MT in 2007 despite a dry spell, and is expected to hit an even higher yield of 17.32 million MT this year as a result of the continued, unprecedented levels of public investments by the Arroyo administration in the agriculture and fisheries sector.

This year's production target will most likely be attained by the DA, given that for the summer harvests alone, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) expects yields to reach 7.1 million MT, which is higher than the 6.8 million-ton output during the same April-June period in 2007.

As of May 5, DA officials on the field have reported that rice producing regions have so far harvested 5.893 million metric tons of palay in 77% of the total areas planted.

Moreover, the DA will also expand areas planted to palay during the main or wet planting season this year to 2.54 million hectares; and pinpoint some 92,000 hectares for its quick turnaround (QTA) program, which involves the insertion of a third-cropping season in between the summer and wet cropping seasons.

Yap has also ordered the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BWSM) to provide him an update on Strategic Agricultural and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZs) suitable for palay production so that both the government and the private sector can intervene in a focused manner to convert these into rice production sites.

For the dry season of 2009, Yap said that the DA will target at least 1.8 million hectares of land for planting with hybrid and certified rice seeds.

To help stabilize rice prices, President Arroyo already directed the DA and NFA to clamp down hard on hoarders and profiteers, and to take legal steps against them along with NFA people responsible for the diversion of government-subsidized rice stocks to private traders.

She had also ordered the NFA to revoke the passports of some 10,000 licensed grains dealers accredited by the food agency and to re-accredit only those engaged in legitimate trading practices, and the DA to stake out NFA and private warehouses to prevent diversion of government-subsidized stocks.

The NFA is now selling not only government-subsidized rice but mid-priced commercial varieties as well at 25 a kilo, as part of the supervised selling strategy drawn up by the DA to stabilize the retail cost of the food staple for both low- and middle-income consumers.

The DA is tapping Catholic Church networks and local government units to help bring quality and affordable rice to the country's most hunger-prone provinces, and is also mobilizing LGUs to engage in palay production programs for the benefit of their respective constituents.

For its part, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has lifted the truck ban for perishable goods in Metro Manila in a bid to ensure food supplies in the metropolis. The DA is issuing permits to these truckers so LGUs and the police will no longer accost them on their way to urban markets.

Kasapa Dos People. Meet Umayamnon Folks from Agusan del Norte

by Florian Faith Jr. and D. Paghubasan

Butuan City Agusan del Norte | Philippine Information Agency:  Umayamnon! This is what the people are called in Kasapa Dos. Umayamnon is taken from the river called Umayam. In its riverbanks is where the people lived until they became a sitio and then a barangay. Mainly dependent to their environment, an Umayamnon relies on the food that can be found around them like corn and root crops.

The Umayamnons of Kasapa Dos belongs to the Manobo ethnic group. To honor their god and prevent their tribe from experiencing bad luck, they gather at least once a year and worship beside the river by offering a native chicken. They have their tribal chieftain who leads ceremonial activities like weddings and burials and arbitrate disputes of the community.

Situated in the mountain of La Paz, Kasapa Dos was not spared from insurgency-related conflicts. To save themselves from danger and chaos, the residents of Brgy. Kasapa Dos in La Paz, Agusan del Sur has desperately moved out from their ancestral home. However, earnest in protecting their precious ancestral domain, seventy percent (70%) of them transferred to Kalampayan, a sitio 3 kilometers from Kasapa Dos and the rest moved to Purok 4, Selco of Brgy. Panagangan.

This exodus has led to separated families and clans. Distraughtly trying to save every single belonging they can carry with them, most of them brought their domestic animals and some herbs. And while pulling their pigs and goats, as others were riding on their carabaos, the only thing they couldn't bring with them is their land.

Endowed with talent in beadwork, Umayamnons make necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories made from Chinese bamboo for their own consumption. Every accessory has its own design that corresponds to a certain meaning. Men and women of the community have been endowed with this ingenuity. It has been a part of their culture and a significant part of their clothing. They believed that wearing these accessories constantly reminds them that they belong to their group. The men and even some of the women don't wear anything on top aside from those necklaces and accessories. Their lives in Kasapa Dos were simple.

But reality is sometimes bitter. Fate turned its wheels from the Umayamnon.

After leaving the land they thought would be the place for their deathbed, their life became miserable. As settlers, they received hostile treatment from the residents. Unable to adapt to the new environment, farming as the only means of living was very difficult. They could hardly taste their crops because the natives claimed ownership of the land they tilled. True enough, the natives harvest their crops leaving nothing for them to eat. For them, eating three times a day is a luxury. They usually have one meal a day. Believing that the government has no place for them, it was needless to beg for mercy.

But their datu, Manbandayan Melvin G. Pundog who was very resistant to the government for fear of discrimination has already revealed his willingness to consider it and hopes for some assistance. However, fearful that the government will influence their culture and practices, still the community hesitated to participate to government-initiated activities. Even the entry of KALAHI-CIDSS, a flagship anti-poverty program of the Philippine government was met with indifference and skepticism. Their low participation was a result of the farms they need to attend to everyday. They cannot prioritize government-initiated activities due to their everyday struggle of providing food for their families.

Despite this, the government continue to look for programs that could help the people of Kasapa Dos to participate KC activities without affecting their economic activites. The Japan Social Development Fund – Social inclusion Project, better known as JSDF-SIP was the answer. As a complementary facility to the KALAHI-CIDSS project, it identifies what skills are needed to be enhanced for their active involvement and participation in the project.

Talking about skills enhancement, the Umayamnons were just too unmindful about their talent in making necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories. Unaware that their talent could possibly help them to be recipients of the JSDF-SIP project, their creative ability has left undiscovered.

Sometime in uly of 2007, the Umayamnons had their barangay assembly for a brief overview of the project. The JSDF-SIP Participating Learning Facilitator (PLF) for Kasapa Dos is Maribel Verula. She is a resident of Brgy. Sagunto, La Paz who can understand the Manobo dialect. Anticipating that issues will arise, PLF Verula has prepared to let the indigenous People (IP) of Kasapa Dos understand what benefits they could get from participating in the project. Some were defiant and doubtful while others were hopeful. Others would even walk-out in the middle of the meeting. Trying to encourage the people, the PLF's strategy was to bring food during assemblies in order to draw their attention. In this way, participation from the Umayamnons will be quite easy.

After the gruelling task of identifying what project to venture is amenable to all, the Umayamnons finally opted for beadworks. It was raised by one member of the community. After the suggestion was brought up, many were astounded because they were too blind to recognize their own potential. This has awakened the Umayamnons from their long unconscious state of being gifted with such talent. The people showed samples of their works and it was indeed very practical for them to decide for such proposal. Their main objective, that is to uplift their economic well-being and to improve their skills is now a wink away. Through the enhancement of their skills, it will even capacitate the Umayamnon for active community participation. At first, the IPs preferred Bayoy and Suyam making, a native clothing worn by their tribe. But some has protested that it would be hard for them to sell the product in the market and will have less buyers.

Highly expecting to the benefits of the project, a testimony was given by Datu Manbandayan Melvin G. Pundog. He said, "Kaname no onapad no panahon wada pad Governo mig tabang kaname singaman koy og kalepay doy og mahay so manya to konakoy og ka atiman". It means that before when the government has not helped them, they felt bad or unhappy and discouraged because they felt they were deprived from the benefits and opportunities which they too must enjoy.

The entry of the Japan Social Development Fund – Social inclusion Project has helped them realize their place in the government. They realized that it is not too late to trust the government. Being open-minded in all aspects will bear good results.

With a total project cost of P378,000.00, the recipients in Kasapa Dos was trained in the Municipality of La Paz for ten days. A trainer, Margie Abaquieta was hired to provide Skills Training on Handicraft Production, specifically on Beadworks. Certain designs were introduced so that their product could compete in the market. The quality has improved and designs were developed with certain limits in removing certain symbolism of their culture. The material used was not Chinese Bamboo anymore, instead it was purely beads with different varieties of color. But this colourful tiny beads was not new to them, they were very eager to learn and apply the new technique they have learned. According to them, the tiny beads will be their hope to eventually from the bondage of poverty.

The Local Government of La Paz and the barangay LGU has helped them in marketing their products. After the training, an association with twenty-two members mostly women was organized and named: "Umayamnon Manobo Tribal Association". Women are mostly the ones willing to learn and produce necklaces, bracelets, even rings and earings, and other accessories including pen holders, and even cellphone holders. This project has tremendously brought an impact to their way of living, changing their routines instead of staying at home all day and sometimes accomplishing nothing. Children were beginning to learn and help their mothers producing any kind of beadworks. Materials like beads, nylons and locks was not a problem for it was provided to them through the implementing agency, Department of Social Welfare and Development – Caraga.

To further capacitate the Umayamnon's drive for participation, their representatives and officers of their association were invited to the Team Building Seminar and Values Formation Seminar held respectively last September and October 2007 at Balanghai Hotel. It has helped them enrich their culture and enhanced their attitudes towards achieving the objective of their organization which is to gradually take them out of poverty.

Bol-anon Workers at the Capitol Get Increase of Salary

By Felix Cempron | Bohol Media - The provincial government of Bohol headed by Gov. Erico Aumentado slated to grant another 10% salary increase to all qualified government workers effective July 1, 2008.

The said increase was sounded after Her Excellency Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has directed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to implement across the board increase to government workers nationwide.

Assistant Provincial Treasurer Primitiva Ontong disclosed that the Local Finance Committee headed by provincial treasurer Eustaquio Socorin is now on the process of sourcing funds from provincial coffer the sum of P15-million pesos intended for that increase.

Meanwhile, Ontong said, the governor has given the green light for the release of mid-year bonus after the first quencina salary this month of May 2008. The payroll maker in different Capitol offices has been instructed to prepare payroll on said benefit.

However, almost all of the mid-year bonus of the Capitol employees have been "spirited away" and already gone the pocket of the loan sharks and other lending institutions doing business inside the provincial seat of government. The employees will be left empty-handed after collecting their salary.

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Controversy Over Metro Cluster Landfill in Alburquerque Bohol

Rey Anthony Chiu | Philippine Information Agency - Just as sanitary landfill projects across the country have considerable opposition, newly named Bohol environment officer believes operating the Metro Cluster Landfill in Alburquerque is still the most appropriate measure against our garbage woes.

Towns near the city have agreed to pool meager resources to put up a legal garbage disposal site in Alburquerque, thus the idea of the Metro Tagbilaran Cluster came.

Nestor Canda, the new Bohol head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) aired his opinion during the recent Kapihan sa PIA which talked "Promoting Sustainable Tourism as a Strategy to Conserve the Coastal Environment.

The forum which was aired live over DyTR devoted precious airtime moments to discuss Bohol's direst need for a sanitary landfill just as the country has outlawed the operation of open garbage dump sites by virtue of the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Law.

In the last few weeks, newspapers in Bohol exposed the desire of the Dampas local government to close the open dumpsite in their district for health, economic and social reasons.

Dampas barangay Chairman Fredison Englis has pointed out that his barangay has the most school drop outs, attracted unwanted scavengers and aired health concerns as raised by his constituents.

At the looming closure of the city dumpsite, garbage dumps sprouting in Bohol pose as the most logical thing for poorer local government units too cash strapped to operate a sanitary landfill as mandated by the ESWM Law.

The same law vows to hail to court any local government units found with violations against it.

A closure of the city dumpsite also means denying garbage from Panglao island, which unnecessarily makes Bohol beaches hit a garbage problem like Boracay.

During the weekly PIA forum, Canda, who has barely two days since getting his working papers as OIC PENRO said he could understand Albur contra-position on the landfill.

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Colurum Van for Hires Got Franchise Deal from LTFRB

Police Gen. Thompson Lantion, chairman of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), has ordered the issuance of franchise to colurum vans for-hire (V-hires) and like units that service tourists in Bohol.

His order sounded a stern warning, too, against any LTFRB personnel found extorting their clients or in cahoots with fixers on same intent of making money.

Parallel to the legalization of the colurum units, transport vans that cannot pass the tourist transport service standard will be converted into GT express units. GT means garage to terminal.

Easily over 70% of the V-hires, shuttle vans and other tourist transport units in Bohol are colurum or operating without franchise.

The LTFRB chairman personally met with the leaders of concerned transport groups here on Wednesday in a forum facilitated by Rep. Edgar Chatto in coordination with the provincial government thru Board Member Alfonso Damalerio II.

Chatto heads the committee on tourism of the House of Representatives.

Damalerio chairs the public utilities committee of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Lantion said the transport groups in Bohol have the full support of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He said the president wants the tourism support mobility sector to be in legal and legitimate business especially now that the so-called Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) has begun operational. - The Bohol Standard

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Supports SPES

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) strongly pushed for the enactment of House Bill No. 203 principally authored by Bohol Congressman Edgar M. Chatto. The Bill is entitled " An Act Strengthening further and Broadening the coverage of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) amending for the purpose certain provisions of RA no. 7323" .

DOLE Asst Secretary Rey Conferido explained during the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting of the House Committee on Labor last May 8, 2008 that the Chatto Bill is a direct response to a wide clamor for expansion of the program to cover more student beneficiaries who wish to get employment during vacation to help raise the needed funds for their tuition fees in the ensuing school year. Conferido said that this is a pro-poor and pro-people measure which deserve everybody's support.

Congressman Chatto in an interview said that this bill enables more poor but deserving students to acquire quality education by working during vacations for a period of not less than 20 days and not more than 52 days. He asserted that the Bill allows private enterprises employing not less than 10 workers to join the program effectively expanding the SPES coverage. It is also pegging the participating student's salary rate on the minimum wage for private employers and the applicable hiring rate for national and local government agencies.

Chatto added that the Bill likewise provides that the students employed in activities related to their course may earn equivalent academic credits as determined by the appropriate government agencies and academic institutions. He further said that their work experience may be credited by employers as part of their probationary period prescribed in the Labor Code. Cong Chatto further explained that another feature of the Bill is indexing the income qualifications for SPES to the annual regional poverty threshold line for a family of six, to insulate it from the rigors of legislative amendments every time there is as shift in poverty line.

Director Rafael Chico of the Philippine Association of Local Service Contractors also manifested their group's full support to the Bill. He was joined by Attyy Levy Edwin Ang of SALIGAN and Professor Cesario Azucena of the University of the Philippines SOLAIR and Ateneo de Manila University.- published by the Bohol Standard

Bohol LTO Deploys Deputized Road-Watchers

One hundred twenty (120) Land Transportation Office (LTO) newly deputized traffic enforcers officers will hit the road Tuesday for a no-nonsense campaign against violators.

LTO Tagbilaran district supervising officer Joel Maloloy-on said the regional office had already signed their deputization after undergoing a series of seminars regarding traffic laws and regulations.

All of them are government employees, traffic policemen and members of the City Traffic Management Office (CTMO) with regards to the city using civilian personnel.

Deputized officers will all be provided LTO citations tickets (Temporary Operators' Permit-TOP) that they will issue to every violator they apprehend. Due courtesy will be applied in the conduct of their work and team leaders like chief of police in municipalities will be responsible for their actions, the LTO office assured.

Maloloy-on said, his office has coordinated with the PNP provincial command under Supt Edgardo Ingking for a direct supervision of the newly deputized traffic officers.

"To erase previous impressions of abusive and corrupt traffic officers, their performance will be evaluated and all verified, written complaints from motorists will be acted observing due process," Maloloy-on said.

"If there are scalawags in these new deputized traffic enforcers, we will deal with them accordingly. But until then, I'm sure there will be none, hopefully. We'll cross the bridge when we reach there," he added.