Friday, September 14, 2012

Dengue Cases in Visayas Up

The Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health (Resu-DOH) 7 recorded a total of 7,055 dengue cases, with 35 deaths in Central Visayas from Jan. 1 to Sept. 1 this year.

The number of cases is 111 percent higher compared to the same period in 2011, with 3,346 cases and 18 deaths.

The ages of those affected by dengue range from one month to 95 years old, but majority of them were six to 10 years old.

Cebu City topped the list, with 3,081 cases and 12 deaths, followed by Lapu-Lapu City, with 455 cases and four deaths.

The other cities and towns with the most number of dengue cases are Dumaguete City, with 383 cases and two deaths; Minglanilla town, with 246 cases and one death; Tagbilaran City, with 181 cases and five deaths; Liloan town, with 124 cases and one death; Toledo City, with 118 cases and one death; Mandaue City, with 107 cases; and Bayawan City, with 100 cases.

Ruth Suzette Jaborete, DOH 7 public information officer, said they tapped the local government units to monitor the dengue cases.

The DOH also collaborated with the Department of Education to train teachers in identifying mosquito breeding sites, as well as to the community in establishing dengue brigades in the barangays.

Philippine Senate Investigates Rico Puno

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago pushed through on Friday a Senate probe on resigned Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico E. Puno after the latter himself showed up and a quorum was declared with the presence of Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano.

Santiago opened the probe at 10:44 a.m. by explaining the validity of the decision of her committee on constitutional amendments, revision of laws to conduct the inquiry even with the absence of a resolution or privilege speech which some of her fellow senators have been requiring from her.

The feisty senator said Section 17 of the Senate Rules of Procedures allow a committee which initiates to call an investigation in aid of legislation.

Santiago read Section 17 which states: "The transmittal of matters to the committees 'may' be done with instructions through a motion by a majority of the senators present."

"The use of the word 'may' indicates permission, while the use of the word 'shall' or 'will' indicates compulsion. Therefore, the use of the word 'may' indicates that another method may be used, such as simple assumption of jurisdiction by the committee, instead of referral by the plenary session," she explained.

Further, Santiago said under the rules of procedures governing inquiries in aid of legislation, "Section 2 says inquires may be initiated by the Senate or any of its committees if the matter is within its competence."

"This provision uses the word 'or', meaning that the inquiry maybe initiated by resolution in the Senate or on its own by any of the competent committees," Santiago said.

"We are here to conduct investigation in aid of legislation and not to explain the Senate rules of procedures. Do I have to teach them about our rules in the Senate?," Santiago said, referring to her colleagues who questioned the process of conducting the inquiry.

On Thursday night, Santiago said out of the 11 members of her committee, nobody confirmed attendance tothehearing, but on Friday morning, Cayetano and Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. showed up, prompting Santiago to declare a quorum.

After allowing Cayetano to state his opening statement, Cayetano proceeded with the inquiry by focusing on the issue of illegal number games, including "jueteng."

But before giving the floor to anti-illegal gambling crusader Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Santiago allowed Puno to read his opening statement where he denied all the accusations, including reports that he attempted to raid the Quezon City office of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo.

"My long silence was not a sign of my guilt. All these (accusations) are all lies and that's why I'm here," Puno, who resigned as DILG undersecretary three days ago, said.

Puno told the committee that he has instruction to secure and not raid the public documents which, he said. are inside Robredo's condominium.

Puno said his detractors have no proof on the allegations hurled against him.

After Puno's opening statement, Cruz told the committee that not only jueteng but 30 other forms of illegal gambling still exist up to present.

Cruz said that the problem of illegal gambling is no longer at the level of legislation but with the level of the effort that national and local government to stop them.

Aside from Cruz and Puno, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome showed up.

Philippine Typhoon Karen Hits Luzon and Visayas

Typhoon "Karen" has maintained its strength as it continue to enhance the southwest monsoon (habagat) that will bring rains over Luzon and Visayas, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

PAGASA said that as of 10 a.m. Friday, the eye of typhoon Karen was located at 740 km East of Aparri, Cagayan (18.5°N,129.6°E) with maximum sustained winds of 185 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 220 kph.

The weather bureau said that Karen continues to traverse the East Philippine Sea in a North Northwest direction at 15 kph is expected to be at 770 km East of Southern Taiwan by Saturday morning and at 600 km East of Northern Taiwan by Sunday morning.

PAGASA said rainfall amount within the 550-km diameter of the typhoon is from 15 to 30 millimeters per hour (heavy-intense).

Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out over the eastern seaboard of the country due to strong winds generated by typhoon Karen.

Weather forecaster Lenny Ruiz said that although Karen is not expected to make landfall in any part of the country, it will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring light to moderate rains over Metro Manila and occasional moderate to heavy rains over CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), MIMAROPA (Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon and Palawan) and Western Visayas.

He said that no storm warning signals have been raised so far since it is too far away to directly affect the country.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mindoro Fears Deadly Disease

Thirty families in Abra de Ilog in Mindoro Occidental were quarantined after a 63-year-old woman died from a suspected case of meningococcemia last Wednesday (Sept. 5), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported.

NDRRMC identified the fatality as Gloria Sumayang,of Lumangbayan village in Abra de Ilog town, who developed the signs and symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection and suffered fever for about a week and rashes one day prior to admission to hospital.

Initial differential diagnosis to consider was Kawasaki Disease but manifested high index of suspicion showed that the condition is meningococcal in nature.

The NDRRMC said the 30 families are now being observed by the Municipal Health Office.

Local health officials have started chemoprophylaxis, or the administering of medication to prevent infection, and are "continuously monitoring for any arising new cases," the NDRRMC said.

The disaster agency added that Sumayang was brought to the Abra de Ilog Community Hospital on Sept. 4, and was transferred to Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital. She died on Sept. 5.

Catanduanes Embarks Anti-Malaria Campaign

The provincial government of Catanduanes has vowed to strengthen its anti-malaria advocacy by embracing the new form of campaign introduced by the Department of Health (DOH) to totally eliminate the dreaded disease in the country.

The DOH's new campaign being carried out nationwide under the theme "Saving Lives, Preventing Deaths and Sustaining Investment for Malaria" and highlighted by the "Traveling Long-Lasting Insecticidal Net (LLIN)" is aimed at cutting malaria incidence by 2015 in the country in line with the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

The campaign wherein the DOH and its partners distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets in malaria-endemic areas was recently launched in Bicol. The net symbolizes the government's effort and struggle against malaria by travelling to each province until all provinces have eliminated the disease.

Camilo Aquino, the DOH's Regional Mosquito Borne Diseases coordinator based at the regional Center for Health and Development (CHD) for Bicol here over the weekend said the provincial government of Catanduanes through its governor Joseph Cua readily accepted the advocacy campaign during a ceremonial transfer on Friday.

During the ceremonies, Cua led the affixing of the provincial logo at the governor's office on the ceremonial LLIN as a symbol of full adoption of the campaign, Aquino said.

"The LLIN will serve as a reminder to every malaria endemic areas up to malaria-free provinces that the government is serious in its campaign to totally eradicate the occurrence of the fatal disease in the Philippines," according to Aquino.

The campaign in Bicol is a shift from malaria eradication to elimination involving areas that have already been noted as malaria-free based on assessment that reported no incidence of malaria in all parts of the region for at least three years.

Reports of the DOH on the malaria situation in Bicol show that the prevalence and death rate of the disease in the region were zero percent from 2006 to 2010. The latest rate of morbidity registered at 0.7 percent was in 2005 with no mortality since 1990. The rate is computed based on per 100,000 population.

With this development in Bicol, the DOH, along with its partners in anti-malaria advocacy such as the local government units, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global-Fund Malaria through the Filipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. is now embarking on the new advocacy campaign in the region.

The campaign's theme "Saving Lives, Preventing Deaths and Sustaining Investment for Malaria" would be the principle that will support malaria control programs with the objective of totally eliminating the disease in the country.

Under the National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP), the target year for total eradication of malaria in the country is 2016 while total elimination target is on year 2025.

The DOH is confident to meet the elimination ahead of the target year saying that in 2020, the entire Philippines could be malaria-free based on positive trends that showed an 80 percent decrease in malaria incidence last year or from 43,441 cases in 2003 down to 9,642 in 2011.

This decrease is the lowest malaria level on record for the country in 42 years which means that Philippines is effectively meeting its MDG of cutting malaria incidence by 2015.

The WHO likewise revealed that death from malaria in the country had been declining by 63 percent since 2005. However, it remains a significant problem, now the eight leading cause of illness affecting up to 10.2 million people worldwide. Ninety percent of malaria cases are found in the poorest provinces.

High-risk provinces in the country, according to the DOH include Tawi-tawi, Occidental Mindoro, Bulacan and Tarlac that are presently being carefully monitored and provided with free medicines for those diagnosed with the disease and vector control measures including insecticide-treated mosquito nets to affected areas.

Other areas of concern are the provinces of Palawan and Tawi-Tawi which reported more than 1,000 cases a year and Sulu, Maguindanao and Zambales that have more than 100 cases but less than 500 cases a year.

At least 24 provinces on the other hand have been declared malaria- free midway 2012, which translates into having recorded no malaria cases for three years while 34 provinces have reached the free elimination level in 2011 or less than one case of malaria for every 1,000 population.

In spite of Bicol's malaria–free status, Aquino still warned Bicolanos from becoming complacent of the non- existence of the mosquitoes carrying the disease.

"We should exert more effort to ensure that there is no way that this contagious disease will again find its way in our homes and in our community. Let us all continue, with renewed efforts, what we have started to make our neighborhood free from malaria," he said.

LLIN is the government's main defense now against mosquitoes that brings malaria, a disease caused by a parasite transmitted via bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. If can also be transmitted through blood transfusion or from pregnant mother to child.

Gawad Kalinga to help farmers in Bulacan raise productivity

In keeping with the commitment to improve the lives of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), the Department of Agrarian Reform has entered into an agreement with Gawad Kalinga to help farmers in Bulacan raise their productivity and improve their income with the help of the growing legion of social entrepreneurs.

Under the agreement formalized on Sept. 9 at the Enchanted Farm of Gawad Kalinga in Angat, Bulacan, the DAR will focus on the improvement of productivity and enhancement of marketing channels for different commodities in areas covered by the Agricultural Productivity and Marketing Enterprise Development Project, particularly in Bulacan.

Commodities to be given priority are palay, coffee, lowland vegetables, lemongrass, citronella, pandan, camote, coffee and ube. Farm mechanization will be implemented through the DAR budget to increase productivity and raise income.

Target production area for palay is 80 hectares, 75 hectares for vegetables and other rootcrops, and 100 hectares for coffee production. Common service facilities or farm machines, equipment and implements procured under government procurement rules will be provided to ARB organizations to make production efficient and profitable.

Direct beneficiaries are the ARB organizations within the contiguous area.

The projects under this agreement will be implemented in partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK) Community Development Foundation, a non-government organization that has built over 2,000 communities' villages both here and abroad.

Gawad Kalinga, through its increasing number of social entrepreneurs, will act as the marketing arm and will also provide technical, financial and human resources to help the target beneficiaries in Bulacan. GK will provide these valuable services to the ARB organizations without receiving compensation or honorarium from the DAR and the ARB organizations.

According to Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes, the DAR has decided to tap GK's social entrepreneurs as these young people are the "missing middles," the ones who have the knowledge, skills, passion and heart toward helping agrarian reform beneficiaries and smallholder farmers improve and sustain their farm enterprises.

"Social enterprise is somewhere between the for-profit and the non-profit where new entrepreneurs meet their own income objectives and at the same time lift the people out of poverty. It is about taking a worthwhile risk towards creating wealth for the countryside," De Los Reyes said.

He added that all Filipinos can contribute to making the project a success by patronizing the crops and products that the agrarian reform beneficiaries will be able to develop and sell with the help of Gawad Kalinga's social entrepreneurs.

"Eat, shop, advocate for social justice and create wealth for the countryside," De Los Reyes said.

Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto, for his part, said that bringing the market closer to the producers is Gawad Kalinga's way of helping the farmers in Bulacan improve their lives.

Bulacan covers 262,500 hectares where 38 percent is classified as agricultural land. Average production of rice per hectare in irrigated areas is 3.9 metric tons and 3.56 metric tons in rain-fed areas. Through the DAR-GK partnership, the aim is to increase yield and also improve the farmers' ability to sell to the market.

"The goal is bringing the keys in developing the countryside -- capital, market, social entrepreneurs and technology," Meloto added.

The proposed Agricultural Productivity and Market Enterprise Development Project is part of the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) Project of DAR and the Strategic Development Plan (SDP) of the province of Bulacan.

Some of the projects included in the SDP are Rice/Palay Production, Vegetable Production, Rootcrops Production like ube, ginger, sweet potato and coffee production identified through focus group discussions and consultation meetings with ARBs, different local government units, cooperatives, Peoples Organization/ARBOs and other stakeholders.

The project aims to establish models of viable and sustainable income generating projects by providing ARBs assistance on the utilization of appropriate technology on rice, vegetables, rootcrops, grass and coffee production that will eventually increase their income.

Poverty Funds of the Philippines

Published by Bohol Standard

This early, politicians who are to engage in the 2013 elections are being warned.

Don't take advantage of the Pantawid Pamilya ng Pilipinas Program (4Ps) of the national government during election period.

The warning came even as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has issued a memorandum dubbed "Preparation For The Election Ban of 2013" addressed to all regional directors of Regions I to XII, including the National Capital Region (NCR), Cordillera Autonomous Region, CAraga (CAR) and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), of the agency signed by undersecretary Parisya H. Taradji. Copy of the said "order" was obtained from the provincial office of the DSWD led by Ms. Papiasa Bustrillos.

The "order" said that there shall be no release of capital seed fund of the 4Ps during public gatherings "with the presence of candidates for the 2013 national and local elections." The "order," however, provided that the said release may be done at the community level with "simple forum on how to use the said fund that would benefit the micro enterprises and families the most."

Secondly, No releases of capital seed fund is allowed from March 31, 2013 to May 31, 2013, which is within the election period. The fund releases to beneficiaries "should be done on or before December 31, 2013 to give ample time for monitoring and technical assistance.

"Project implementers should be non-partisan at all times. Selection of beneficiaries should be based on the Pantawid Pamilya list and the national household targeting system (NHTS) for poverty reduction for Non-Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries."

But the order did not provide for punishment for those DSWD directors who may be caught violating the order.

On the same vein, billboards or murals with images and names of a certain politician or officials in infrastructure projects at the road shoulders have resurfaced recently. There's even one billboard of a high ranking official in the province whose images and names are paired with that of President Benigno Aquino III in a road project which may tantamount to violating the President's order and DPWH order No. 37.

In fact, it was President Aquino who initiated to issue a memorandum to cabinet secretaries to refrain from using his name or his photograph on billboards in project sites. To carry out the President's order, DPWH Sec. Rogelio Singson has issued department order (DO) 37 dated August 8, 2010, "banning the placement of names and pictures of politicians on government projects."

The said DO 37 provides that project billboards "should only contain the name and location of the project, name of the contractor, the date the project started, contract completion date, contract cost, construction consultant, implementing office of the DPWH, and source of fund."

The DO 37 provides that "name(s) and/or picture(s) of any personages should not appear in the billboard."

It also provides for an standard billboards measuring 4ft.x 8ft. (1200 mm x 2400 mm) using ½ inch (12mm) marine plywood or tarpaulin poster on 3/16 inch (5 mm) marine plywood [see resource attachment below] shall be installed. For each building project, the billboard shall be installed in front of the project site.

And "for each road/bridge/flood control project, two billboards shall be installed i.e., one at the beginning and one at the end of the project and for road projects with length of 10 kilometers or more, billboard(s) shall also be installed at every 5 kilometers interval."

A Senate Bill banning the said billboards with images/faces and names of the officials has been filed by Senator Miriam Santiago Defensor remains pending considering that many politicians like the senators and congressmen are likely to be affected if the bill becomes a law.