Friday, May 30, 2008

Calling Participant to the 7th National Youth Parliament (NYP). Apply Now

The National Youth Commission (NYC) announces its search for delegates to the 7th National Youth Parliament (NYP), a gathering of youth leaders aged 15-30 years old representing youth organizations from around the country to discuss issues affecting them.

Anchored on the theme, Unity in Diversity: An Intercultural and Interfaith Parliament, the 7th NYP will be staged in Davao City on October 19 to 22, 2008. Elected officers during the Parliament will be trained on Leadership and Advocacy on October 23-25, 2008 in the same venue.

According to NYC Commissioner Benjie Oliva, the NYP aims to empower the youth in effectively advocating, lobbying and influencing the policy makers in creating a policy environment supportive of the total development of the young people.

Republic Act 8044 mandates the NYC to convene the NYP every two years to serve as a venue for policy discussions to formulate resolutions that will be presented to the NYC, and later on be advocated to policy makers.

Past NYP delegates have become active partners of NYC not only in promoting and implementing youth programs and projects, but also in advocating for youth issues. The 6th NYP batch has even organized themselves into a confederation of youth advocates. Considerable efforts were made in lobbying for the creation of Local Youth Development Councils (LYDCs) and formulation of Local Youth Development Plans (LYDPs), localization of the Magna Carta for Students' Rights, and promotion of Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH).

Qualifications of applicants for the 7th NYP are as follows: Filipino citizen, between 15 to 30 years old; residing, studying or working at the place/institution for not less than six months; must be a president/officer of a youth organization (school, community, civic, religious, professional, tribal, etc.); must not be a member of any previous National Youth Parliament; must be an SK Provincial/City Federation President, if representing the SK; and must not have been convicted of any crime.

Delegates will be asked to prepare and submit their organization's chosen position paper or study in one of the following topics: Youth Values and Good Citizenship, Youth Community Involvement/Engagement, Youth Participation in Governance, Violence in Youth Organizations, Youth Lifestyles, Peace building, and Specific Youth Groups (Juvenile Justice and substance abuse).

We are expecting some 200 youth leaders to represent their organizations and have their voices heard on vital issues that they face nowadays, says Commissioner Oliva, Chairperson of the 6th National Youth Parliament which was held in Bohol Tropics last October 2006.

NYC will shoulder the food and accommodation of the successful applicants. Application forms are downloadable at the NYC website or visit the NYC office for application forms.

Send applications to the NYP Secretariat, National Youth Commission, 4th Floor Bookman Building, Quezon

Avenue, Banawe, Quezon City on or before June 30, 2008. For queries, call the NYP Secretariat at (02) 749-9404 or 7812373. - Published by the Bohol Standard

Donate Seized Smuggled Vehicles in Cebu City

Cebu City Philippines - The Police Regional office (PRO) 7 is planning to ask the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to donate seized smuggled vehicles to them to address the police's lack of mobility.

PRO 7 Director Ronald Roderos said this was one of the topics discussed in the last Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC).

He pointed out that since the BOC warehouse burned, the seized vehicles are not stored properly and are exposed to the elements.

Since the lack of police vehicles is always a problem for most police offices and stations, Roderos said they plan to request the BOC to donate the seized vehicles instead.

Also, during the meeting, the need for coordination among law enforcement agencies was raised.

This concern was brought up following incidents wherein the police received reports of kidnapping but these turned out to be agents from other agencies.

There were reports involving agents from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) last month.

The first report was when two Indian nationals were picked up in Boljoon town, sending citizens to report to the police about a kidnapping incident in the middle of the town market.

Police in Santander had intercepted them and learned they were agents of the BI picking up the two Indians who did not have proper documents.

After that, a Korean couple was picked up in Banilad, Cebu City, that sent police checking on another kidnapping report. Their "abductors" also turned out to be BI agents.

Senior Supt Carmelo Valmoria, Cebu Provincial Police Office director, said that if the agency did not want to inform them before conducting operations for confidential reasons, they could always tell them after the operation has been conducted. - Philippine News Agency

Calling Donors for Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan - A priest in Palawan province is now seeking donations to rebuild the Catholic chapel at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF), the country's oldest and largest prison with bars.

In the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website said Fr. Nelson Pagayona, the prison chaplain wants to rebuild the prison chapel that was built in the 1960s.

Pagayona said that when the chapel was first built, there were only 60 prisoners, 12 employees and 31 family members in the colony.

"Since then the chapel has fallen into a state of serious disrepair and now in urgent need of renovation, not least in order to accommodate a much larger prison community," said Pagayona.

Iwahig is an open prison where prisoners cultivate farm occupying 26,629 hectares. Originally 41,007, hectares, but 14,377 hectares were disposed by virtue of presidential proclamations.

Despite the fact that most of the 2,300 inmates have been convicted of homicide, the majority are minimum security prisoners and are thus not locked up within the colony.

Instead, these minimum security inmates live in dormitories and work on one of the many agricultural projects located within the prison farm.

The prisoners live in small settlements and can receive visits from their families, said Pagayona.

He said the prison chapel is a very important element satisfying the spiritual needs of the prisoners and in promoting a spirit of peaceful coexistence among themselves. - Philippine News Agency

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Helps Children in Northern Samar

Northern Samar Philippines - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has donated to this province some P11.2 million to help children here, said Sylma Lutao, Communication Officer of the CPC-VI.

The Sixth Country Programme for Children (CPC 6) is a programme of cooperation between the Government of the Philippines and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for the period, 2005-2009.

The five-year programme, which came into force through the signing of an agreement in April 2005 called the Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP), aims to improve the well-being of children in the Philippines.

Carrying forward the Child Friendly Movement (CFM) that was adopted since the previous five-year programme (CPC V), the goal of the current programme is to reduce by at least 50 per cent from 2004 figures the disparities for the major health, nutrition, education & protection indicators particularly in 24 CPC 6 pilot areas nationwide.

The Child-Friendly Movement is a nationwide campaign that involves all sectors of society to promote and protect children's rights.

For its part, the Provincial Government headed by Governor Raul Daza allocated P2.2 million as counterpart fund.

In whole, the total allocated funds for the implementation of CPC-VI is P13.5 million.

CPC-VI has six components – (1) communication, (2) social policy, (3) local development, (4) health and nutrition, (5) education, and (6) child in need of special protection and HIV/AIDS prevention. - Philippine News Agency

Bloody Road Accident in Surigao Del Sur Philippines

Butuan City Agusan del Norte: The driver and the owner of a mini bus involved in a bloody road accident in Surigao del Sur, Philippines are now facing multiple charges, police reports said.

Northeastern Mindanao PRO 13 regional director Chief Supt. Jaime E. Milla said the driver of the passenger mini bus, identified as Sulpicio S. Altamia is confined also at a hospital where other casualties were brought, and is currently under "hospital arrest" where two policemen from Hinatuan Police Station are guarding.

As of press time, injured people has risen to 50, where 20 of them are in critical condition, and are being treated at the D.O. Memorial Hospital in Patin-ay, Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur, progress police report stated.

Milla, said the patients are " still under observation."

He said Hinatuan police station filed reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple injuries charges in court against the driver and the owner of the mini bus. - Philippine News Agency

Build A Strong Republic Free From Terror and Extortion

A field commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday stepped up implementing programs to build a strong Republic that is free from terror and forced taxation or extortion.

More than a month in his post as area command chief of the AFP's Northern and Northeastern Mindanao Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division, Brig. Gen. Ricardo A. David, Jr, ordered anew all his brigade and battalion commanders as well as operational control (Opcon) unit commanders to "stop at all cost" those groups creating instability and obstructions towards peace and development in the twin regions in Mindanao.

"Those terror groups who create diabolic plot to democracy, peace and development must be put to an end now," David stressed during command conference with field unit commanders.

He specifically mentioned the communist terrorists who exact revolutionary tax from rural folks and businesses. "These must be stopped now," he reiterated.

David also ordered field unit commanders to closely coordinate with the local PNP, LGUs, political leaders, indigenous peoples, religious and civic groups.

"It is only through concerted support and efforts of all stakeholders to achieve our goal to degrade enemy capability to inflict loss of lives of our people and damages to properties," he pointed out.

The continuous all-out offensive drive and civil military operations of the 4th Division have already neutralized 3 guerilla-front committees in Northern and Northeastern Mindanao, and capturing several encampments of the New People's Army (NPA). - Philippine News Agency

Pres GMA Visit in Palawan for Tourism and Economic Growth

Puerto Princesa Palawan | Philippine News Agency: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is set to arrive on Thursday in Bataraza town, some 275 kilometers south from this city, for a brief and tourism economic growth visit in southern Palawan.

First district Rep. Antonio Alvarez confirmed that President Arroyo left Manila Thursday morning where she brought private investors to lure investments, particularly in the construction of airport in Balabac, located southern tip of the province.

Reports disclosed that President will fly to Palawan after her trip in Tawi-Tawi, where inspected a aquaculture project and led in the implementation of National Food Authority's food-for-school program in the said province.

The construction of airport in Balabac was mentioned by the Chief Executive during 2006 State of the Nation Address (SONA) aimed to enhance the tourism competitive advantage of Palawan, as part of the Central Philippines under the "Super Regions" concept.

Balabac has vast potential for tourism, where the Balabac Strait Corridor links the Sulu Sea with the South China Sea and serves as the passageway of marine lifeforms from plankton to fishes, sea turtles and marine mammals (dolphins and whales).

It is a known haven for about 24 true mangrove out of 34 species reported in the Philippines.

The strait reportedly hosts five life stages of the sea turtles in relation to their habitats: mating/nesting, hatching, pelagic, developmental, sexually mature, and feeding stages.

Balabac qualifies as one of the important sea turtle habitats in the Philippines as well as in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia region.

Both Alvarez and Rep. Abraham Mitra lauded the initiative of President Arroyo to bring investments in southern part of the province to boost tourism and create much needed jobs.

Mitra authored a bill creating Southern Palawan Special Economic Zone that will promote economic activities made attractive to investors.

The last time Arroyo visited Bataraza was on April 2005 where she inaugurated the $ 180-million Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) expanded Hydrometallurgical Processing Plant (HPP) that produces nickel.

The nickel plant brought more jobs to the residents and beefed up the treasury of the Bataraza municipal government.

Avoid Military Adventurism: It's A Total Waste of Time

Cebu City Philippines | Philippine News Agency: Avoid military adventurism because its is not worth to die while violating the oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag, the Cebuano commanding general of the Philippine Air Force told his men.

Lt. Gen. Pedrito S. Cadungog issued the statement during Tuesday's change of command of the 2nd Air Division from Maj. Gen. Nicomedes B. Corpuz Jr. to Brig. Gen. Nathaniel C. Legaspi at the Benito Ebuen Mactan Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City.

Corpuz filed for optional retirement effective June 1, ending 35 years and two months of military service. Legaspi, on the other hand, was the deputy commander of the Southern Luzon Command prior to his transfer to Cebu.

"As soldiers, we offer our lives to defend the country and the people. We will not run away from the enemy. But to die uselessly because of military adventurism, that is foolishness," Cadungog said.

Cadungog is confident that no PAF soldier is against the government or is violating the code of conduct.

"I challenge them that if there's anyone that would go against the government, let that one kill me first because if he cannot kill me, I will kill him. He has no place in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, most especially in the Philippine Air Force," Cadungog said.

"I don't even have to ask each and everyone of you to take part in winning the hearts and minds of the people by talking to them and showing goodness to them," Cadungog said.

How to Respect the Philippine Flag and Show Love for Country

Iloilo Philippines | Philippine News Agency: The public can show their respect for the Philippine flag and love for the country by protecting the environment, says Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional executive director for Western Visayas during the celebration of the National Flag Day here in Iloilo.

She explained that the motto of the celebration, 'Maka Diyos, Makabayan, Makakalikasan, Makabansa' emphasizes the need for environmental protection.

"As we celebrate the National Flag Day may it remind us of the double concept on sustainable development. We have to translate that concept into practical reality," DENR regional executive director Lormelyn Claudio said.

She said the people must protect their environment to manifest their love for the country.

Claudio stressed that DENR in Western Visayas is going strong as far as protection of the environment is concerned.

Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) Builds Public School Classroom

Davao City Philippines | Philippine News Agency: The Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) will construct a new four-classroom school building at the campus of Dondoy Elementary School in Cagangohan, Panabo City, this province.

This development came as the Aboitiz-owned DLPC, the Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., the City Government of Panabo, and the Department of Education – Panabo City Division signed last Friday a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that will govern the project implementation.

Ross Luga, Davao Light's Corporate Community Relations officer said the project will cost P1.8 million.

Davao Light, through its social development arm, the Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., has approved a donation budget of P1.4 million and the local government of Panabo City is putting up a P400,000 counterpart, Luga said.

Luga said the signing of the MOA came after the Panabo City Council approved the appropriation for the counterpart fund, and at the same time granted, through a resolution, City Mayor Jose L. Silvosa the authority to sign the agreement in behalf of the city.

Davao Banana Plantation Complies Minimum Wage Order

Davao City Philippines | Philippine News Agency: The Lapanday Agriculture and Development Corp. (LADECO) in Davao del Norte will be complying with the new wage order issued by the Regional Wage and Tripartite Board (RWTB) Southern Mindanao last week.

Lapanday human resources manager Gerardo Ongkingco said the company will give the P15 increase in the Cost of Living Allowance (Cola) and the integration of the current P26 Cola into the minimum wage.

"We will be complying with the new wage order," Ongkingco said.

Lapanday was one of the first companies to have announced the implementation of the new wage order.

Late last year, the company closed one of its banana plantations in Mandug, Davao City. The area will be converted into an industrial and residential area.

Although the company's closure of their Mandug plantation is part of their long term plans, it also said that it has been hastened due to the rising costs and low productivity of the area.

Stephen Antig, president of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said some companies in the banana industry may have to "rightsize" their structures with the implementation of the P15 increase in the Cola and the integration of the current P26 Cola into the basic pay of the minimum wage earners as stated by the wage order.

Peter Bucky Says Food Safety Is Most Important Skill for Chef

Philippine News Agency | Davao City Philippines: Food safety is the number one skill that a chef must imbibe, according to Peter Bucky, a full time Director for Studies of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) assigned at the Joji Ilagan Foundation, College of Business and Tourism in Davao City.

Bucky said chef is a tough job and must have a passion about food.

"They have to have the passion of the industry," she said.

But food safety he said is important on the program and they have to develop that among their students.

He said there are 49 jobs for one to make a chef and the task is difficult.

"It is tough job and with lots of pressures but will bring you anywhere in the world and you travel around at no cost," he said.

He said it is not merely cooking but the chef must also have to have several skills like being a painter for him to pain the dish to make it attractive.

A chef also is a sculptor because you make designs out of chocolate or vegetables and one must create and develop style.

Other than that, he said the chef also has to have management skills where he or she can effectively run the kitchen and produce food that will make the customers happy and owners as well because of profit.

Speaking of profit, the chef must also have knowledge on accounting so one would know whether his creation could earn profit.

The chef too is also an engineer and constructor where he or she develop dishes and a doctor as well because they produce food that are healthy as based on the customers food requirements.

Health Concern at Tambubo Bay Yacht Basin

Negros Oriental Governor Emilio Macias II has formally turned over the responsibility of the proposed Tambubo Bay Yacht Basin to Mayor Vincent Emil Arbolado of Siaton town.

The governor wanted to immediately implement the regulations at Tambubo Bay after Quarantine Officer Dr. Benjamin Bautista of the Department of Health raised a health concern during a meeting early this week.

The governor said the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) will be signed between and among the local government unit of Siaton and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The line agencies involved in the proposed development plant are the Bureau of Customs (BoC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) and Department of Health–Medical Quarantine.

Dr. Bautista, who was invited to attend the meeting, clarified that all vessels traveling domestic or abroad before embarking and boarding, should be checked by a medical quarantine officer.

This is the health safety standard operating procedure that should be done especially on yachts owned by foreign tourists.

In fact, all yacht operators should have a quarantine clearance prior to boarding and sailing, she said. - Philippine News Agency

Negros Oriental Bullish On Sanitary Landfill Project in Dauin Town

Negros Oriental Governor Emilio Macias II has pledged to allocate Php 2.5-million for the establishment of a sanitary landfill in Barangay Tunga-tunga in Dauin, Negros Oriental.

The commitment of the governor was announced during a recent meeting with the Metro Dumaguete mayors at the conference room of the Provincial Capitol.

Among the mayors present were Agustin Perdices of Dumaguete City; Antonio Renacia, Sibulan; Nelson Ruiz of San Jose; Bentham dela Cruz of Amlan; Rodulfo Gonzales, Jr. of Valencia; Lenin Alviola of Bacong and Rodrigo Alanano of Dauin.

Macias said he believes in the concept of clustering of efforts with neighboring local government units, especially with a project like the sanitary landfill.

The meeting was called primarily to discuss and identify the source of funds for the initial operation of the landfill.

The mayors are looking at an estimated amount of Php 5 million for the first year operation of the sanitary landfill, since they will have to purchase the land for the said facility.

Also during the same meeting, Mayor Perdices promised to give Php 500,000 as contribution for the project.

The group agreed to source the remaining funding requirement from Rep. George Arnaiz and Rep. Henry Pryde Teves at Php 1 million each. - Philippine News Agency

Illegal Fishing Boats in Negros Increasing

Negros Oriental Philippines | Philippine News Agency: The number of illegal fishing boats operating in the provincial waters of Negros Oriental is increasing, most likely because of the absence of a representative from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), according to Leonardo Aro, head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the province.

Aro said that over the past two or three years, the province did not have a MARINA personnel assigned here after its representation had died.

This has slowed down the paperwork and processing of other requirements for the commercial fishing vessels, particularly in the renewal of their licenses, Aro added.

According to Aro, there are an estimated 183 small and medium-sized commercial fishing boats operating in Negros Oriental, most of which are engaged in "cobcob" fishing, a type of activity that employs ring-nets.

This was based on a survey conducted by the National Statistics Office, he said.

Aro believes that of the total number of fishing boats, about half is operating illegally although he admitted that there was no way to confirm this unless MARINA would do an actual inspection.

He also lamented that some of these commercial fishing vessels continue to encroach on the 15-kilometer municipal territorial waters despite a law that bans their entry to these areas.

Philippine Army Intensifies Operations Against Filipino Rebels in Negros

Judy Flores-Partlow | Philippine News Agency | Negros Oriental Philippines: The Philippine Army here has warned that it will intensify operations against the insurgents in Negros Oriental following a clash between rebels on Tuesday in the southern town of Sta. Catalina.

Lt. Col. Erwin Neri, 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, told reporters on Wednesday that the government scored in its anti-insurgency campaign after his troops overran and seized a guerilla base camp in the hinterland Sitio Avocado in Barangay Talalak, Sta. Catalina town.

Two separate clashes erupted between the government soldiers and the New People's Army (NPAs) guerillas on that day as helicopter gunships were also deployed to the area, but because of the camp's proximity to populated areas, the military could not conduct air strikes.

Neri highlighted the cooperation and support of residents in the hinterlands of Sta. Catalina that led to Tuesday's seizure of the guerilla base camp in Talalak, a village known to be a hotbed of insurgency in the late 80s and the early 90s.

He said that over the past week, information was building up on the presence of NPA rebels in Avocado, Talalak, Kakha and other nearby areas.

According to Neri, residents there are complaining, saying they are already fed up with the rebels who allegedly collect "taxes" and food from them.

Civilians had tipped off the military on the rebel camp situated about two to three kilometers from Avocado, and within days from receiving verified information, the 79th IB troops swooped down on the rebels, he said.

Albay and Sorsogon Philippines Declared Malaria-Free Provinces

Albay Philippines | Philippine News Agency: The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol disclosed Malaria cases and deaths in the country are now on the downtrend.

DOH Bicol Regional Director Nestor Santiago said among the Bicol provinces now cited by the DOH as malaria-free are Albay and Sorsogon aside from Samar, Eastern Samar, Marinduque, and Surigao del Norte.

Out of the country's 81 provinces, 59 are endemic for malaria.

Santiago explained that Albay's last indigenous case was in 1997 in the towns of Manito and Rapu-rapu.

Vector control activities (such as seeding of streams with larvivorous fish, focal spraying) and mosquito collection were done to ensure that no case of malaria will occur.

However, regular activities (such as stream clearing, distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets) are still being conducted coupled with vigilance against suspected cases to maintain their status.

In 2002, Sorsogon reported their last case of malaria in the municipality of Donsol. Blood smears from different barangays were taken and were negative to the disease.

In 2006, DOH data showed that there were 35,405 cases and 122 deaths from Malaria in the country, a 23 precent and 18 percent reduction, respectively compared to the 2005 malaria report.

The DOH said Malaria is a disease common in rural areas and is one of the mosquito-borne diseases affecting 11 million people living in hilly or mountainous, remote areas of the country where access to and availability of basic health services and correct information are difficult for the people at risk.

Philippine President Names Cebu Mayor Irrigation Consultant

Argao Cebu | Philippine News Agency: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has designated Argao, Cebu Mayor Edsel Galeos as a consultant for the National Government's water projects after she was impressed with the southern Cebu town's irrigation scheme.

Mrs. Arroyo, who visited Argao last May 19, saw the system that, for only P300,000, has benefited about 80 families without using any electricity.

"The President was very impressed with this because as you know this is part of the government's program, especially that we are confronted with the global food crisis and we are trying to enhance food production," Presidential Management Staff Director General Cerge Remonde said.

"So, she has immediately ordered the National Irrigation Administration to go to Argao to study the Galeos model. She has appointed Mayor Galeos as a national consultant for small irrigation projects," Remonde said.

Galeos can no longer receive a separate salary as consultant because he is already a government official, but as an incentive, President Arroyo will give Argao town P30,000 per small irrigation project that the mayor can help create elsewhere in the country.

Philippine New People’s Army (NPA) Admits Killing 3 Public Officials

Philippine News Agency and Malu Manar: The New People's Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has admitted it was their group that killed three village officials from North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, and Compostela Valley who they suspected as government informants.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, rebel spokesman Rigoberto Sanchez said the killing of Wilson Latimbang, councilor of Barangay Noa in Magpet, North Cotabato; Deonito Carmona, chairman of Barangay Coronan in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur; and Felimon Eyana, former chair of Barangay San Vicente in Montevista, Compostela Valley, was executed after their group conducted a thorough probe on the three.

Also, these officials were warned many times that they could get killed if they continued to help government forces in crushing the rebel movement, said Sanchez.

The three slain officials were active members of the Barangay Intelligence Network (BIN), which Sanchez said has become the Army's potent tool in its counter-revolutionary campaign in the countryside.

Latimbang and Carmona were under the BIN of the 39th IB whose base is in Makilala, North Cotabato, while Eyana was under the BIN of 28TH IB based in Moncayo, Compostela Valley

An Affair To Remember Between Iloilo and Quezon City

Philippine News Agency: The proposed sister city agreement of Iloilo and Quezon cities has been approved by the respective Sangguniang Panlungsod of these two local government units (LGUs).

This was confirmed by Iloilo City Councilor Nielex Tupas, chairman of the committee on domestic and foreign relations and the proponent of the sisterhood pact.

Tupas said they are just waiting for the copy of the memorandum of agreement which is being finalized by the Quezon City government. Thereafter, Tupas said they will pass a resolution authorizing Mayor Jerry P. TreƱas to sign the agreement in behalf of the city government.

"I am very happy for Quezon City not because I spent my college days there but because it is the richest local government unit in the country," he said.

Tupas said he is also excited about the possible support Quezon City will extend to Iloilo.

Tupas said he will request Quezon City to help in the establishment of a huge recreation center that can be used not only by the Sangguniang Kabataan but by everybody, as well as additional school buildings.

Join Nationwide Simultaneous Mangrove Planting

Iloilo Philippines | Philippine News Agency: The Municipality of Ivisan has joined the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) nationwide simultaneous mangrove planting activity recently held to highlight the "Fisherfolk Month Celebration".

The planting activity dubbed as "Mangrove and Watershed Reforestation: Healthy Environment and Sustainable Fisheries Development" was participated in by around 105 employees from the municipal government of Ivisan, Environment and Natural Resources, and BFAR.

Students from Capiz National High School, Filamer Christian College in Roxas City, other schools and the fishermen were also among those who trooped for the mangrove planting activity which was has held in a one-hectare of the total estimated 10 hectares coastal area in Barangay Balaring, Ivisan.

Before the actual mangrove planting activity, a short program was held whereby Ivisan Municipal Agriculture Officer Leticia Andrade encouraged the community people to take care of the mangroves along the coast as these serve as breeding areas for the fishes.

Former Barangay Balaring captain and currently Fisherfolk Director (Mangingisdang Direktor) Norberto Apaitan also thanked all the participants for helping them plant the mangroves and assured them they will take care of it.

Erwin Ilaya of BFAR, for his part, talked about the importance of mangroves and its relationship to other ecosystems in the coastal zone. He emphasized the healthy environment impacts on the lives of the coastal communities and the sustainable fisheries development on the long-term viability of the livelihood of fishermen.

Albay Bill That Exempts Ordinary Tax Payers

Mike De La Rama | Philippine News Agency: Albay provincial board member Ireneo Sales has lauded the Senate for approving on final reading a bill that exempts minimum wage earners from paying tax.

Sales said the approval of tax exemption is timely as it will increase the take home pay of minimum wage earners. "This will enable them to cope with the increasing prices of commodities, tuition fees and fare," he said.

"It is appropriate to provide tax relief for minimum wage earners due to the unprecedented price hike and we are expecting continuous increase in basic commodities including agricultural products by next month," Sales said.

According to him, this is the reason the provincial legislative body has decided to pass an ordinance providing 10-percent wage increase to Albay employees.

"As much as possible we wanted to give a much higher salary increase specially for those rank in file employees but our increase depends upon the savings of the provincial government," Sales also explained.

The provincial official filed a resolution urging the bicameral conference committee to ratify the proposed measure before Congress adjourns next month. "We are optimistic that this bill would be approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and be implemented in July, this year," he said.

Sales, chairman of the committee on energy, is also set to file a separate resolution expressing full support to the proposal pending in the House of Representatives seeking to restore the exemption from VAT of electric cooperatives and marginal power end users.