Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Women in Poverty Reduction Program

     Anchored on the theme, Babae, Yaman Ka ng Bayan (Woman, You are Wealth/Asset of the Nation), this year's celebration of Women's Month focuses on the critical role of women in nation-building and recognizes the significance of women in poverty reduction amid the global financial crisis.

      Women's groups, provincial and local government employees and concerned stakeholders from different private and government line agencies converged on Tuesday last week at the Jagna gymnasium to kick off the month-long celebration of the National Women's Month.

      They converged in a grand parade which started from the municipal hall compound and snaked through the thoroughfares of Jagna where the women participants were clad in Filipiniana attire.

      Mayor Exuperio Lloren and wife, Nimfa Abaya-Lloren- -chair of the Local Council of Women (LCW), led the unveiling of Jagna's vernacular translation of the theme in a program at the town's gymnasium.

      In his message, Mayor Lloren commended the around a thousand women who participated in the activity for their willingness to create a gender-responsive environment.

      "I am encouraging you to support and engage yourselves into high-value and more meaningful economic activities and enterprise development as your contribution in uplifting your family's standard of living and in nation-building in general," Mayor Lloren said.

      Provincial Board Member Aster Apalisok-Piollo, chairperson of the PB Committee on Women and Family Welfare, was the guest speaker during the launching ceremony.

      She cited the women as the first teachers of the children, and enumerated the strengths of a woman, foremost of which is her faithfulness both to her husband and to God; her creativity, resourcefulness, flexibility and wisdom to know her rights and privileges that highlight her significance in a community.

      Estrella Espinosa, local area coordinator of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), also gave her message on solidarity, through which she reminded the women on their importance and their vital role at home and in the community's economic agenda.

      A symposium on human trafficking was conducted at the same venue in the afternoon with the Philippine Against Child Trafficking (PACT) Regional Convenor Fe Josol as the guest presentor.

      The month-long celebration also includes the debut of a special radio program on women over the Jagna community radio station DYJP-FM, involvement in the series of activities of the GREAT Women project, participation in the provincial-level celebration of the Women's Month on March 20 and the local culmination activities on March 27.

Philippine Fertilizer Scam

 None other than the Agriculture undersecretary on operations absolved Secretary Arthur Yap over accusations that the agency is embroiled into another scam, over fertilizer again. 

  Undersecretary Emmanuel Parras belied the claims alleged by a national daily columnist that another fertilizer scam is in the brew and it involves Chinese Filipino businessmen and fertilizer dealers accordingly favored by Yap. 

  Parras initially clarified that Yap came after the controversial fertilizer scam and could not be involved in it.

  In fact in a letter sent to Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz, Secretary Yap equivocally denied any part in any of the fertilizer transaction investigated by Senator Ramon Magsaysay in the 13th Congress and by Senator Richard Gordon in the 14th Congress. 

  Moreover, he also stressed during the telephone interview with DyTR that it is unlikely for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to be involved in the alleged fertilizer scam when there is a government procurement process being followed and that the department is not having any hand in getting its supplies and materials now. 

  Speaking in the vernacular through a radio interview, Parras, who used to be with the National Irrigation Administration said that the DA under Yap is not even giving out fertilizers but discount coupons.

  In the same letter to Cruz dated March 9, Yap reiterated that under his watch, the fertilizer support program of the Department of Agriculture now involves mere distribution of Fertilizer Discount Coupons to farmers, through master-lists provided by Municipal Agriculture Officials. 

  "Farmers choose what organic or inorganic fertilizers they want and just get discounts for their purchases by using the coupons we are handing out to them in coordination with local government units. The DA no longer procures the fertilizer or dictates the fertilizer brands they have to use," Yap said.

  We have laws and so we can't really say we have favored suppliers, Parras also added. 

  Just as the DA rebuttal came, many hint that the columnist's bone of contention could be provoked by instigation from Bohol. 

  The subject article also questioned why DA Sec. Yap is always visible in Bohol, especially in the third congressional district where he is rumored to run. 

  Parras also added that Yap is named the cabinet steward for the Administration's Comprehensive Livelihood Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP), where the DA is actively implementing agri-related infrastructure and organic fertilizer production programs.

  Over the observation that Tap is often in Bohol, he said "my visits to Bohol must also not be injected with political color because my extra work in Bohol and in Region 2 are on account of my recent designation as the Cabinet Steward for the President's Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program or CLEEP in these areas.

  Former Congressman Eladio Jala, speaking also in an interview with DyTR said he thanks Sec. Yap for bringing in projects to the district now represented by his son, Adam Relson. - Rey Chiu, PIA

Philippine Native Baskets

With a production volume topping 11,000 assorted pieces a week and generating a weekly average of P1.2M, baskets and handicrafts in Bohol prove to be one brilliant industry to rely on in this time of global financial crunch, bares trade regional director Asteria Caberte. 

  Relying on this fact and relying on the viable industry here owing to the big source of ready raw materials, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) brings to Bohol trainings in basketry, bayong making, beadwork, flora arrangement and franchising seminar to kick-off the government's emergency livelihood and employment program.   

  And that, DTI Caberte said is still Antequera production. Anteguera is Bohol's basket capital.  

  Aside from Antequera now, DTI is also assisting basket weaving communities through a national program call Subcontracting partners for Innovation (SPIN) and OTOP clusters especially in Inabanga area to widen the industry to help more Boholanos. 

  Caberte presided over the DTI- Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) Roadshow at the Jjs Seafoods Restaurant March 11. 

  As in the road-show which cascaded relevant information about how DTI helps the government get its aim of more jobs to keep people above water in the advent of shaken industries, the agency also hosted trainings and seminars. 

  People flocked to the beadworks, floral arrangement, bayong making, basket weaving and business opportunities as well as pricing and product costing seminars set in different venues at the sprawling restaurant property.  

  These skills trainings also support each other like beads with bayong and baskets, baskets with floral arrangements, with pricing and costing and business opportunities superimposed on top of them, pointed out a DTI Bohol staff.  

  Director Caberte explained that the activity is part of the government's P160-B economic stimulus package where P100-B has been tagged for infrastructure development. 

  The idea is to keep generating jobs so that people find work and sustain the economy. 

  "When people have less disposable income, they tend to hold from buying, and that is bad for the economy like what we have now," explains Caberte.  

  At the CLEEP road show, some 41 trained in beadworks, another 40 enrolled in flower arrangement, a practical skill to have when in an island where tourism becomes a by-word. 

  In the advent of trending towards eco-solutions, DTI also put up bayong making and basket weaving in preparation for mainstreaming native recyclable and environment friendly alternative packaging.  

  About 35, mostly women trained in weaving the bayong while 12 registered in the basic basket weaving training, a fact many note as not as brilliant when Bohol basket industry has gone from basic to designs already. 

  For the small and medium enterprise owners, 31 came in to enroll in the seminar on pricing and costing while 43 listened to resource persons talking about business opportunities here. - Rey Chiu, PIA