Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Swine Flu Cases in the Philippines

Instead, the Department of Health (DoH) called for "responsible self-monitoring," saying: "Travelers shall monitor [themselves] for 10 days after arrival, observe for signs and symptoms of influenza-like illness and submit to DoH national guidelines if [these symptoms develop]."

Nearly two months since it went on overdrive to address the entry of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, the DoH has begun to ease up on control measures against what it described as a generally mild flu strain.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced in a memorandum dated June 24 "major policy changes from containment to mitigation response to the Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak in the country."

Under the new Interim Guideline No. 16, travelers arriving from countries with reported A(H1N1) cases no longer have to observe home quarantine before they return to their schools or workplaces.

The DoH had previously recommended home quarantine of up to 10 days for all newly arrived travelers regardless of whether they had flu-like symptoms or not.

As of Friday, the DoH had confirmed 861 flu cases. Of the number, 634 or 74 percent have recovered.
According to the DoH, an A(H1N1) patient usually recovers within a week.
Also under its new guidelines, the DoH:

Lifted mandatory hospital confinement for all confirmed and suspected cases.
For those with flu symptoms, the DoH recommended "voluntary home confinement in general."
Stopped giving the antiflu drug Oseltamivir to all suspected and confirmed cases.

It said antiviral treatment would be limited to confirmed cases with "severe or progressive illness, or preexisting illness that compromises immune and pulmonary system."

Announced that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) would no longer test all suspected cases.
It said the RITM would only do "selective testing" on high-risk individuals, those who arrive with flu-like symptoms at international airports and seaports, and the first suspected cases in a particular community.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bohol Politics: The Balimbing Mayors

By Joe Espiritu
Sunday Post

Recently a group of Bohol politicians joined the Nacionalista Party. To make their affiliation official they took oath as party members. Then a few days after, they returned to their old party, which was the Lakas – Kampi – CMD. This could only mean one thing; there is no local party machinery.

 If there was a strong party organization, the organization executives would either prevent the fence jumping or impose sanctions on turncoats. Since there is none, any local politician could just join a party of their choice, not the other way around. As of this time, any local political aspirant with a sizable war chest could run under any party banner as long as there is a slot. Those who have not will look for a party that will provide them logistics.

 In the present set up, party organization comes in three levels; national, provincial and local. Those running for national and provincial positions have to rely on local party mates to carry them in the local level, which is the municipal and barangay areas. Thus the nationals will have to give campaign money to the locals so they could be carried in the countryside.

 In the dog eat dog, sink or swim, every man for himself atmosphere of the Philippine politics, each politician will look after his own survival before others. The weaker locals will solely use acquired funds to ensure their elections while paying lip service to their benefactors. The stronger ones may allocate a portion of their amassed fund for their patrons. National and provincial candidates will have to keep the good graces of the locals. They have to keep smiling while the locals extract their pound of flesh.

 After the elections the shoe will be on the other foot. This time the locals will go hat in hand to the nationals and provincials for funds for their favorite projects. The nationals will oblige only after their cut is assured. Projects will be started or awarded to contractors after the locals have their SOP. The voters will see projects but most of them will be substandard.

 Since in the Philippine political set up, it is the politician that holds the carrot, voters must accede to the whims of the former. The voters do not know that they are the ones who pay for the carrot. In the Philippines, people go into politics to break into big money, while big money enters politics to keep their riches.  On western democracies, the political climate is different.

 In the United States, there are only two political parties the Republicans and the Democrats. Each has their political ideology so fence jumping is almost impossible. To elect a politician, party nomination must be secured. Any presidential candidate must have the party nomination of his party in all the States, hence the primaries. The Democrats and Republicans must conduct statewide primaries to determine their presidential candidates. Presidential election follows.

 In European democracies with parliamentary governments, there are many political parties. Like in the States each party has its own political ideology. Parties elect Members of Parliaments and the MPs elect a Prime Minister by two thirds votes. This goes to show that progressive democracies are run by political parties. These parties, which are run by voters, choose their candidates. In the Philippines, politicians form political parties not the voters. Or they are the ones who choose their parties. No wonder we are going to the dogs. 

Arroyo Most Unpopular President?

Editorial, Sunday Post

      Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's refusal to reveal her plans in the 2010 elections is disconcerting, to put it mildly. This lead many people to suspect that something is cooking in the kitchen of the country's most unpopular President.

      The President's spokespersons say she has a right to her silence. Well, yes and no. It is true that silence is a right that any person can enjoy. No because the President is not just any other person.

      Her clear, unequivocal declaration on her 2010 plans is needed to calm fears stoked by her running dogs in Congress. Pained, betrayed and left holding the proverbial empty bag far too often, the last thing that we need is more of her.

      It could be that she is well aware of the fact that most Filipinos no longer trust her word. This is the reason why she would rather not make a categorical declaration since it would be taken with a grain of salt anyway.

      Or perhaps she has learned her lessons after being reminded again and again of how she broke her promise before a gathering to honor the national hero. If she makes no categorical declaration, there would be no promise to break.

      Regardless of her reasons however, the point is that Filipinos deserve to plan Weighed down by the difficulties brought about by the international economic meltdown and scandalized by the politics of payoffs and tradeoffs of the Arroyo administration, there is little doubt that they need a break.

      With the next election just a corner away, it all boils now to who deserves what. If Pres. Arroyo deserves her silence, the Filipinos also deserve their peace of mind. Insisting on what she believes is due her while disregarding what the rest of the nation deserves even more is the height of selfishness.

      The strange thing about this is that the President's habit seems to have infected her fellow conspirators in the monumental plunder of the country's coffers far more than the feared influenza A(H1N1) virus.

      While their mouths are shut, their body language betrays their intention to hold on to power. They don't have any qualms about insulting the intellect of the people perhaps because this has become the rule in their scheme of things.

      The best that Filipinos can say about Pres. Arroyo is that she has been the longest staying president after Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. His lengthy stay did not augur well with Filipinos. There is little indication it will augur well with her.

      If GMA failed to uplift the lives of Filipinos in her eight years as president, she won't be able to do that as prime minister. Eight years is too short for a good head of state. A good one she is not.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Philippine DILG Donation to Dependents and Survivors

GRATITUDE from the government for services rendered came to 19 dependents and survivors of barangay officials who died in the performance of their duties.

  Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno himself, assisted by Bohol provincial director Rustica Mascarinas handed checks worth P12,000 each to dependents and survivors of barangay officials in simple ceremonies at the Legaspi Suite of the Bohol Tropics Resort last week.

  During the turn-over of the financial assistance checks, Sec. Puno reiterated that the "small contribution from the government [is] in recognition for the public service rendered by [your] loved ones".

  "Take this as acknowledgment from the government", he said.

  "While this may be not enough to heal the wound left by your departed loved ones who worked in government, take it as the government's expression of gratitude", he said in Filipino.

  A recipient who asked not be named said she would like to thank the government because the assistance goes a long way in helping the family cope with a lost husband and the hard times.

  The government has set aside a fund for the payment of death benefits of barangay officials who died during the term of office, one aptly called Barangay Officials Death Benefits Fund.

  The fund, managed by the Department of Budget and Management for payment of death benefits of Barangay Officials such as the Punong Barangay, Seven Barangay Kagawads, SK President as Ex-officio Barangay Kagawad, Secretary and Treasurer who died in their term of office.

  The funds are released to and administered by the DILG in accordance with its rules and regulations.

  Secretary Puno came to Bohol Friday to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the government of the Philippines through Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado and Canadian International Development Agency for project assistance in Local Government Support Project Local Economic Development.

  While here, Puno also met the entire DILG family as well as attended the joint conferences of the key councils and leagues in Bohol. (PIA)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manny Pacquiao as Philippine Senator?

"Manny Pacquiao will be my senator in the 2016 elections," declared Tagbilaran Mayor Dan Lim. 
    Lim issued the statement after spending time with the Filipino pound-for-pound great last week. 
    The mayor said that Pacquiao has all the qualities of a leader that he is looking for. 
    "He is dedicated, humble, determined and sincere," Lim said. 
    The mayor said he wants Pacquiao to run in the 2013 senatorial derby but he can wait for 2016 if the National Fist desires to serve for another term as congressman. 
    Lim declared that if only Pacquiao were qualified, he would top the senatorial race hands down next year. 
    The only hitch is that the 30-year-old Pacquiao will still be ineligible. 
    Going by the same logic, Lim said that if only Pacquiao were eligible in the 2016 polls, he would make a good presidential candidate. 
    Lim brushed aside doubts about the boxer's ability and fitness for the position. 
    "I don't think anybody would doubt his dedication, his humility, his determination and his sincerity," the mayor added. 
    He anticipated that the only weak spot in Pacquiao's credentials would be his educational qualifications. 
    Lim however argued that the world's 6th richest athlete is pursuing his Business Administration degree at Notre Dame University at present and is expected to graduate in 2011. 
    The mayor revealed that Pacquiao has plans to take up Law after finishing his baccalaureate degree. 
    "I have no doubts that he will not only become a lawyer but a good one when the time comes," Lim, himself a mayor, declared. 
    The mayor said that Pacquiao gives the same dedication and commitment to his studies as he does to his boxing training. 
    Lim also noted that the holder of a record six world crowns in different weights has a sharp mind contrary to the beliefs of many who look down on him. 
    "His native intelligence will make him catch up with the lost years in school," he added. 
    The mayor said he is impressed with Pacquiao's sincerity and humility in spite of the successes he has achieved. 
    Lim also took note that the most popular Filipino athlete adopts the same determination to anything he does. 
    "Another thing, Pacquiao has the heart that few people have," he added. 
    Lim said Pacquiao himself pointed out that while there are many good boxers, he beat them all because he has the heart of a champion who is not afraid to get hit to get the job done. 
    "Above anything else, he has the humility to give God the credit for all the good things he has in life," the mayor noted. 
    Lim said that regardless of what other people say, Pacquiao always insists he is where he now because of God's provisions. 
    "God loves to bless people who give Him the glory," the mayor concluded. 

DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno as Vice-President?

      DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno holds the ground that way to shape an edge over the other aspirants for a nomination to the vice-presidential slot in the administration slate.

      Building track record of pacing presidential candidates to sure seats, Puno's cross-camp alliances seemed to have smoothened the red carpet to his vice-presidency ambition that confirms an election to look forward to in 2010, contrary to speculations from the opposition side.

      Though Puno hinted his edge through generations of partnership with the Macapagals and the Ejercitos and even a successful campaign strategy that sent Fidel Ramos to presidency in 1992, he said he would respect whoever the Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) would push for the vice-presidential race.

      Bur if chosen as vice-presidential bet of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, Puno said he would set the example by shunning character-attack type of campaign and focus, instead, on tackling issues and finding better venues to effectively deliver his message to the people.

      It would be his first time to aspire for a national elective post, but Puno already knows the ropes in a nationwide campaign trails as he had been behind the successful campaigns of President Fidel Ramos in 1992, Joseph Estrada in 1998 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

      Puno also won in the May 2004 elections as representative of the first district of Antipolo.

      In February 2006, Puno reluctantly left his post as congressman when President Arroyo asked him to become the secretary of DILG for the second time. The first time was in 1999 during the term of President Estrada.

      Puno interacted with the local media last Friday at the Bohol Tropics after the joint meeting of the Peace and Order Council, Provincial Development Council, Provincial Board, League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Bohol chapter, Vice Mayors League of the Philippines-Bohol chapter, and Liga ng mga Barangay.

      He also witnessed during the meeting, the signing of the memorandum of agreement on the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development between the provincial government of Bohol and the Canadian International Development Agency.

      When asked on his real ally as the three Philippine presidents he had helped to their thrones have difficulty agreeing among themselves, Puno traced three generations of family ties with the Macapagals, saying his grandfather served as the family doctor of the Macapagals when the late president Diosdado- -the President's father- -was still a young boy. Then, his father became a confidant of the late president and was even appointed to the judiciary when Macapagal became president.

      And, the First Gentleman was his classmate in college.

      On the other hand, he said he started working closely with Estrada when the former president was still mayor of San Juan and he was with the DILG.

      He had also served as consultant of Micron Public Affairs and president of Micrfon Overseas Marketing before returning to the DILG in July 1998 under the administration of Estrada and later became undersecretary until 1999 and chairperson of various attached agencies of the department as Estrada's representative, who was then DILG secretary in a concurrent capacity.

      In April 1999, Estrada named him secretary of DILG and stayed in the post until January 2000.

      Also during the press conference, Puno reiterated his stand on the futility of pursuing Constitutional amendment before the 2010 elections.

      He said that the House of Representative's approval of a measure to convene a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) is merely being pursued to seek a clarification on how such a method could be legally and properly carried out, citing the Constitution as ambiguous when it comes to implementing this mode of amending the Charter.

      According to Puno, pro-administration members of the House of Representatives, which include 45 members of the erstwhile Kampi, had earlier made it clear with President Arroyo even with the Con-Ass move, they never meant to spoil her declaration on the assurance of elections in 2010.

      "Mark my words and trust me, there will be elections in 2010 in accordance with the Constitution and our existing laws," Puno said.

      He said ongoing moves to amend the Constitution in Congress will have no impact at all on the 2010 elections as there is simply no time left to go through all the processes needed to push through with a constituent assembly.

      Describing claims of a "No-El" scenario as "frivolous", Puno advised the opposition to stop wasting stirring media hype on this impossible situation.

      Moreover, he noted that the Philippines would completely lose its credibility before the international community if it flip-flops on the holding of elections next year.

      No less than President Arroyo herself already assured the public that there will be elections in 2010 during the May 28 ceremonies at the Manila Hotel, which officially sealed the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi into the powerhouse political party that the disintegrated opposition camp has to face in next year's balloting.

      Puno, who is now co-vice chairperson of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, expressed optimism that the national and local candidates of Lakas-Kampi-CMD will sweep the May 2010 elections and steer the country to continued economic growth into the next decade.

      Puno had served as president, and, later, chairperson of Kampi prior to its merger with Lakas-CMD.

      With pride to take on how his thrust on self-reliance of local government units, through decentralization and devolution, has changed the rural areas into promising economic zones, Puno congratulated the LGUs for having gone far enough in utilizing the capacity-building activities in the past. - Sunday Post

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bohol Governor Against Constitutional Assembly (Con-ass)

At a time when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants House allies to put on hold the controversial House Resolution 1109, Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado said the move is inviting a constitutional crisis.

Aumentado, delivering his 111th Independence day message called the controversial house resolution calling for Congress to convene into a ConAs is a violation of the fundamental law of the land.

Early last week, the House Resolution 1109 was passed which calls for Congress to initiate discussions on the charter change, despite an unresolved constitutional issue which the Supreme Court (SC) has to rule.

Questions as to whether the House of Representatives alone, by their sheer number can flatten out the opposition-dominated Senate and rule for the charter change.

The Senate has rejected calls for constitutional change at this time, but Speaker Prospero Nograles says lawmakers can propose amendments without the upper chamber, setting the environment for Supreme Court intervention.

Earlier, Representative Adam Relson Jala has hinted that the people can lodge a case to the SC for a definitive ruling on the interpretation of the provisions to change the constitution.

Aumentado, apparently meaning the sheer number of representatives can flatten out a senate opposition admitted he is a close Presidential ally, but declared his opposition to ConAs via only the House members.

"I can not support the ConAs with only the House of Representatives amending the constitution, without the Senate", he beamed before the crowd gathered for the customary flag raising activities on the 111th Independence Day.

In fact, he wants the SC to shoot the resolution 1109 down.

In his message delivered before a little more than a thousand local and national government employees gathered at the Plaza Rizal, the governor argued that a ConAs must be done in the true intent of the law and that is by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

He however admitted that he thinks the President is truly distancing herself from the measure seeking to convene Congress into a ConAs.

He then appealed for the people to forge a stronger unity in these times when the situation is compounded by a threatening global financial crisis.

Meanwhile, with the President's move to put on hold the resolve to convene congress into a ConAs, sources close to her said Mrs. Arroyo wanted to prioritize other measures that would provide more revenues to the country. (rachiu/PIA) 

Philippine Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Extension with Reform bill

More projects, more agrarian related support infrastructure and services, says Atty. Johnson Sinco on the reports that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Extension with Reform bill has been passed.

Sinco, Bohol Agrarian Reform Officer could not contain his excitement with the development as the bicameral ruling for the extension, when ratified next month would stretch the program for another five years and give it a P150-billion funding with the ratification if the congress when their session resumes on July 27, adds DAR information officer Ma. Lydia Bantugan recently. 

"We are very thankful to all farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries, district representatives, local leaders and social justice advocates for believing in us and allowing us more time to help farming communities improve their lot and see better future," Sinco said.

Early this week, a members of the bicameral committee reviewing the extension through a reconciled version of both House and Senate CARP measures approved the extension and pushes for the immediate ratification of the measure, sources said.  

The reconciled measures agree to the five year-extension, the restoration of compulsory land acquisition and distribution and the establishment of a congressional oversight panel to eye on the program implementation.

The Senate bill, however, allocates a budget of P147 billion, while that of the House states that the program be provided at least P100 billion.

Another irritant, which the bicameral settled is for the mode of land distribution, which is now limited to compulsory acquisition and voluntary offer to sell.

Voluntary land transfer (VLT), which was allowed in the original CARP law, was scrapped on the ground that it is not an effective mode of land distribution.

To help secure food production, the consolidated CARP extension bill also bans the conversion of irrigable and irrigated agricultural land, bicameral reports bared.

With the ratification, the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of CARP, with compulsory acquisition as the dominant mode, is extended for five years from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014, Bantugan stressed. (rachiu/PIA) 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Philippine Scholarships for Technical and Vocational Courses

Some 150 President Gloria Scholarship Coupons (PGSC) for technical vocational courses were given Friday as the country celebrates the 111th Independence Day with a highlight on the country-wide "Kalayaan 2009 Mega Jobs Fair".

The awarding of the scholarship certificates happened during the flag raising ceremonies and Independence Day program here attended by about a little more than a thousand as part of the government's efforts to spur jobs and keep Filipinos above water in this time of economic crisis. 

Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority Provincial Director Francisca Opog presented the beneficiaries to Governor Erico Aumentado and the Boholanos a few minutes before Bohol Employment and Placement Office (BEPO) also opened its jobs fair at the second floor of the Capitol.

The scholarship coupons allow job seekers some more job skill competencies through the TESDA trainings, says agency information Officer Jaminel Damolo, during a casual talk.

Damolo shared that Bohol still has about 856 scholarship slots and even with the 150 awardees, TESDA still has to award some more scholars soon. 

TESDA started with 2273 scholars, some 1477 have already graduated and while some are already working, others are still hoping to land jobs soon. 

"The activity is part of the President's economic resiliency program where the beneficiaries are expected to land future jobs and boost their spending power," he said.   

While Bohol was not part of the 19 cities nationwide where the "Kalayaan 2009 Mega Job Fair" was simultaneously held, BEPO Head Romulo Tagaan bared that Capitol also initiated its move for local and international job seekers to tap and match skills with vacancies.

Speaking at the weekly Kapihan sa PIA and aired at DyTR, Tagaan shared that with TESDA, BEPO has considerably done its mandates to allow local job seekers to get into jobs.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo tasked the Department of Labor and Employment to spearhead simultaneously job fairs from June 12 to 14 with about 1000 employers from the private and government sectors including those from overseas recruitment industry participating. 

The three day activities hope to employ as many workers who would fill vacancies in government emergency employment programs, sea-based and land based overseas employment and other related jobs. (PIA)