Saturday, October 13, 2012

Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) anti-leak safety device

by Flor Jackson
Concerned with the proper use of the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) anti-leak safety device, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has asked every household owners who are using this safety gadget if the unit they are using for their LPG tanks are safe to use.

The question was asked by the DTI because it has been observed that LPG anti-leak safety device are flooding the market now which according to DTI, the safeness of said equipment has not been assured that it will not cause fire accidents.

In the liquified petroleum gas or LPG industry, the "anti-leak" safety device refers to the excess flow limiter or otherwise known as excess flow valves. These valves according to DTI automatically closes if there is an excess flow of gas that usually happens if holes develop in the LPG hose and tubings.

Because of this, the DTI declared that the safety device cannot safely protect the holes in other parts of the LPG such as the copper tube hose, thread leak in the connection area and accidental fire caused by stove that was left open.

DTI added that some stove users, open valves at low level because by doing so, detection of small pin holes at the LPG tubings becomes easy, however, this will also cause the eventual stoppage of the supply of gas that flows in the tube from the tank to the stove.

In order to avoid fire accidents resulting from the wrong installation of these LPG anti-leak device, DTI advised household owners who are using this kind of device to consults and seek the services of a technician who is an expert in installing this gadget and likewise certified by the Philippine LPG Association.

Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines and Constitutional Change

The blessing of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines to the ongoing nationwide consultation and advocacy campaign on Constitutional Amendments being implemented by the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines is a breakthrough.

While the Senate and Lower House are in a stalemate to amend the Constitution, the momentum is building up in the local level, OFWs, business groups, private organizations, non-government organizations and even among the churches.

With the Catholic bishops backing, the nationwide consultation and information drive could now go full blast with new vigor and elicit widespread discussion, meaningful participation and wider support. As this happen more people will be empowered to make informed decision, inevitably the constitutional shift is coming to a head.

Meanwhile, a people's initiative by Sigaw ng Bayan has so far gathered seven million signatures for the shift. Election officers have verified a minimum of three percent required from 198 districts with only 15 to go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

DOST's Small Entrepreneur Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP)

by Benjie S. de Yro

A university professor in this capital town who is a recipient of the "Ulang project" under Small Entrepreneur Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP) of the Department of Science and Technology has produced the biggest ulang or fresh river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) compared to the same specie produced by Regions 5, 6, 9 and 12, according Director Urduja Tejada.

"The fish farmer-professor identified as Enrico Santos whose farm is located at Barangay Marana here harvested 12 piece per kilo, breaking the existing record harvest of the Bicol region which registered 20 pieces per harvest," Tejada said.

The project is in collaboration between with DOST and the World Fish Center which provided technical assistance through the latter's Aquaculture Scientist Hermogenes Tambalque.
"We assisted five other regions in the country and this is the first time we were able to harvest such sizes," Tambalque said.

Prior to last week's ceremonial harvest attended by both agencies and other fish farmers in the area, Santos already has a ready market for his produce which he intends to sell at P350 a kilo.
From his 600 square meter pond, he will be able to net an income of P40,000 or a return of investment of 75 percent. He said he will develop another pond for his ulang as a result of such encouraging income which he earned in just four months.

Santos revealed that during the first two months, he spent almost 40 bags of commercial feeds until DOST and World Fish introduced to him the green feeding technology.
As the name suggests, vegetable waste are chopped and blanched as an alternative feeds to the prawns. The technology, Santos admitted, saved him production cost as his commercial feeds dramatically dropped from 40 bags to only 4 bags during the last two months of the operation.

DOST provided Santos with 4,000 pieces of post larvae ulang which he seeded in June.
Tejada expressed hope that with more production at less expense, other fish farmers will likewise venture into ulang culture as alternative to rice and corn production.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Panama wilt attacks Davao farms

By Aurelio A. Pena

"Panama wilt," a plant disease which has been devastating farms in Davao Region during the last few years, has remained as the "biggest threat" to the country's banana industry.

Also known to agri-researchers as "frusarium", this plant disease turns leaves of banana plants from green to yellow, then to brown and black, killing the whole plant.

Rene Dalayon, president of the Mindanao Banana Growers and Exporters Association (MBGEA) said "if nothing is done to fight this plant disease, the entire Philippine banana industry will be wiped out in five to ten years."

"Many banana plantations have already been abandoned by our farmers and growers. There's no way we can control this disease. All we do is just to quarantine the affected areas to keep the disease from spreading to other plantations," Dalayon said.

The MBGEA president, who also heads the banana industry cluster as its chairman, urged all regional directors of government agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)"to see for themselves what's really happening to the banana industry" here in the Davao Region.

"It's much better if all the regional directors can see with their own eyes the extensive damage done by this plant disease in the region," Dalayon said during a meeting with consultants of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at DTI regional office here.

Dalayon, along with members of the banana industry cluster, submitted a proposal for its own research project to find ways to fight and control Panama wilt in the banana plantations run by small growers and farmers in the Davao region.

The research proposal was submitted as part of the second phase of the Davao Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project or DICCEP-2, a joint project of JICA and DTI supported by government agencies, academe, local government agencies and private sector.

A complete research proposal was presented formally to JICA and DTI by Dr. Geronima Estimada, a plant scientist from the agro-research school Southern Philippines Agri-Business, Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST) in Davao del Sur.

Planting and growing falcatta trees still generates a lot of income

By Aurelio A. Pena

Planting and growing falcatta trees still generates a lot of income for many tree farmers in the Davao Region.

This was made clear by the forest division chief Alfredo Zarasate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to consultants of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) during a recent workshop of the National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project (NICCEP), a joint project of JICA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Zarasate, who also sits as chairman of the wood industry cluster, said the demand for falcatta has remained strong among factories in Mindanao that uses this soft wood specie in the manufacture of plywood and paper.

"There's still a big demand for falcatta and tree farmers are still planting and expanding their tree plantations to meet this demand from wood manufacturing plants in Mindanao," Zarasate told JICA consultants.

The wood cluster chairman cited manufacturing firms like Alcantara and Sons which is still buying big volumes of falcatta from tree farmers for its plywood production.

Zarasate also cited the banana industry which is urging tree farmers to grow more falcatta for its huge demand for banana poles in the banana plantations.

According to Zarasate, the region is running out of supply of naturally-grown wood trees which might not last in the years ahead. This tight supply is moving DENR to encourage more tree plantations in the Davao region with private firms investing in tree plantations.

"We like to see more tree plantations run by the private sector to meet the increasing demand for more wood by various industries," Zarasate said.

In the National Greening Program of the government, the DENR is determined to see more planting programs for indigenous species like molave, lawaan, narra and acacia, Zarasate said.

"These are the natural species we like to propagate in this national tree program as part of our efforts on reforestation" he said.

Tree farmers, on the other hand, have began losing interest in the planting of Gmelina trees due to its low market demand in the wood industry, but in the near future this demand is still expected to recover depending on the market conditions in the Davao Region, Zarasate said.

Police Senior Inspector Marcelito Garcia Shot Dead

A former police chief in coastal Palanan town and now head of the police rescue team died at about 10:45 a.m.Monday after he was attacked by armed men in a pre-christening celebration in Barangay San Lorenzo, Iguig, Cagayan on October 3.

Police Senior Supt. Franklin Moises Mabanag, Isabela police director, said the fatality, Police Senior Inspector Marcelito Garcia, Search and Rescue Team leader of the 2nd Maneuver Platoon of the Isabela Provincial Public Safety Company died while being treated at the St. Paul Hospital in this city.

Mabanag said Garcia had an early celebration with friends for a supposed christening of his child on October 3 but an unidentified armed gunman shot him and hurriedly left with a motorcycle.

Violator of Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002

By Alfredo L. Vargas Jr.

Barely nine months after an acquittal for charges of violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, a suspected drug pusher was arrested again by PDEA operatives while in the act of selling methamphetamine hydrochloride (Shabu) in an urban village here.

Arrested was Joven Barcelon, a resident of Barangay Binanuahan, this city, in a buy bust operation jointly conducted by PDEA and the city police.

PDEA Bicol director Archie A Grande said that prior to the entrapment, a series of test buy fielding different poseur buyers were done, which resulted to confirmation of the suspect's involvement in illegal drug sale in the barangay and other contiguous villages.

A PDEA team led by Agent Jonathan Ivan Revilla and another team from the city police led by Senior Inspector Steve Dela Rosa baited Barcelon with a female operative acting as poseur buyer and arrested the suspect while in the act of receiving the marked P500 peso bill as payment for a plastic sachet containing suspected shabu.

Barcelon was charged in 2009 for similar offense but was acquitted by the court in January this year.

Former Governor Runs Provincial Board Member

Former Compostela Valley Governor Jose Caballero filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) as independent candidate for provincial board member of district 2 late Friday afternoon.

His COC was filed by his lawyer Roland Tusay.

Caballero said he is running for the post in next year's election since he is a lawyer.

"I can do a lot to serve and infuse ideas for good provincial leadership, for good governance and for public service. I can humble myself for the sake of public service. It is not the position that is important but public service," he said.

Caballero was the first elected governor of Compostela Valley after its creation in 1998 from mother province of Davao del Norte. He held the governor's post for three terms ending in 2007.

The former governor has his daughter Kris Caballero, a first-termer board member in the same district, running for reelection under the Liberal Party led by current second-termer Governor Arturo Uy.

Uy is unopposed in next year's polls for his last term and has as runningmate for vice governor ex-Congressman Manuel "Way Kurat" Zamora, who is opposed by independent candidate Franco Tito, erstwhile famed ex-barangay captain of Mt. Diwalwal.

On the other hand, controversial former police superintendent Cesar Mancao II is running for board member in the province's first district. He ran for congressman in the same district in 2010 polls but lost to first-termer Congresswoman Maricar Zamora, who this time around has no opponent in her reelection bid in the 2013 polls.

Mancao was questioned by Sen. Panfilo Lacson as a government witness in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case. The Department of Justice tried to transfer Mancao's custody from the department's Witness Protection Program (WPP) to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Earlier, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that because of the Supreme Court's affirmation of a Court of Appeals ruling that Mancao was an unreliable witness and the Manila Regional Trial Court's decision to deny Mancao's motion to be discharged as co-accused and to turn witness, there was no basis anymore to have him covered by the WPP. Discharging Mancao as a state witness would make him one of the accused, a legal scenario that is yet being challenged by Mancao's lawyers.

DSWD Fights Malnutrition and Poverty

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Davao gave this city over P5 million for its continued drive against malnutrition and poverty.

City Councilor De Carlo Uy said the DSWD gave a total of P5,499,710.40 to fund its various nutrition programs for the city's 23 barangays.

Uy, chairperson of the city council budget committee, said the fund is intended for programs on nutrition, especially among pre-schoolers in the city's 84 day care centers.

Mayor Rey Uy said the fund is a boost to the city's drive at eradicating malnutrition and hunger as well as helping increase the learning abilities of pre-schoolers by providing them nutritious food during feeding programs.

Seal of Good Housekeeping in Iloilo

Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor, Sr. and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Dir. Evelyn Trompeta unveiled on Monday the Seal of Good Housekeeping at the lobby of the capitol that it won in 2011.

Speaking during the unveiling ceremonies, Dir. Trompeta congratulated Gov. Defensor and other local officials and employees of the Iloilo provincial government for exercising transparency and accountability that earned its award.

"All the procurement processes must be in compliance with the law," Trompeta explained adding that to ensure compliance with the full disclosure policy the DILG requires posting of 14 documents in conspicuous places or on the website of the LGU to show how much is the budget of the province and where it goes.

Along with the marker, the DILG is giving the province P7 million as its financial reward.

Defensor said the award money will be used to finance road improvements.

Election Fever in the Philippines

City mayor Mauricio G. Domogan Monday asked local officials at the Cordilleras to concentrate on their duties and responsibilities despite the prevailing "election fever."

Domogan said he observed that after the five-day filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) which ended on Friday, many incumbent officials are now more occupied in their bids to be elected on May 2013.

"Let us be focused in our respective responsibilities and duties especially with the delivery of basic services to our constituents," Domogan exhorted them.

Rotavirus a leading cause of diarrhea

Rotavirus a leading cause of diarrhea continued the second killer of infants in the country prompting health authorities to include rotavirus vaccination as part of the Department of Health (DOH) Expanded Program of Immunization(EPI).

DOH records showed that at least 13 children under five years old die every day due to diarrhea, while every minute, 1 child dies of diarrhea worldwide.

This accounted to at least 12 percent of deaths among children under five in the country.

Dr. Lulu Bravo, Executive Director of ROTAPHIL, a leading anti-Rotavirus advocacy group, said at a media launch over the weekend that a public-private partnership with the DOH was initiated to curb the rising incident of the disease.

Bravo said the DOH has confirmed that the Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia to include a Rotavirus vaccination program in the EPI.

The program aims to vaccinate 700,000 newborns from the 5.2 million families identified as "poorest of the poor" by the Department of social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under its National Household Targeting System (NHTS).

The DOH has earmarked P600 million for the procurement of vaccines.

The DOH and Rotaphil is looking forward for further partnership with various provincial, city and municipal health officers across Bicol to support the public information drive.

Bravo believed that with the cooperation of health workers and the public the campaign would move towards a zero death due to rotavirus.

Belen Fernandez vs Benjamin Lim in Dagupan City

The City Election Office here has confirmed that the mayorship of Dagupan is now a one-on-one fight after the namesake of Vice Mayor Belen Tan Fernandez, the official candidate of the Liberal Party (LP) in the city, has voluntarily withdrawn from the race last Saturday.

City Elections Officer lawyer Remarque Ravanzo accepted the affidavit of Belen Tamondong Fernandez, 66, a widow, at 3:20 p.m. Saturday, stating her reasons for withdrawal in her candidacy for mayor.

Thus, the mayoralty fight here is now narrowed down between Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez of the LP and reelectionist Mayor Benjamin Lim of the Nacionalista Party.

In her affidavit subscribed and sworn before lawyer Victoria Cabrera, the widow manifested that she had no genuine desire to run for any elective office and neither has she any capacity to sustain her candidacy.

She admitted further that she was convinced by influential people who she can not refuse to file her COC for mayor.

Ravanzo said she immediately submitted the affidavit of withdrawal of Belen Tamondong Fernandez to the Comelec Law Department in Manila and the Comelec provincial and regional offices for their information.

Belen Tamondong Fernandez, who belongs to a poor family in Barangay Bonuan Gueset and is engaged in buy and sell whenever she has capital, admitted she was fetched by certain people, one of them a former village councilor, in the morning of Oct. 5 because a ranking city official wanted to see her.

Belen Tamondong Fernandez is a frail woman and looked sickly in contrast with the vice mayor of Dagupan who is a tall woman and has a large body frame.

However, the fact that the two Fernandezes have the same given name, middle initial and surname will surely confuse voters during the election.

After learning that her namesake was made to sign a prepared COC without even knowing what is it in the house of a city official, Vice Mayor Fernandez said she pities the woman who she said was only misguided.

Corollary to this, Vice Mayor Fernandez and her runningmate Michael Fernandez appealed to their opponents to campaign within the bounds of law and not resort to dirty tactics that may muddle the conduct of honest, fair and peaceful elections.

In an interview, the vice mayor lamented that this cunning maneuver directed against her was made just at the filing of COCs, an indication that her opponents will stop at nothing in order to put down her.

Vice Mayor Fernandez hugged the teary-eyed Belen Tamondong Fernandez after the latter realized her mistake and withdrew her candidacy, saying the woman was just a victim of a plan to deceive the people of the city .

Meanwhile, former councilor Michael Fernandez, who is running for city vice mayor, said the Liberal Party which they belong believe in fair play and expects their opponents to do the same.

At the same time, lawyer Jose Netu Tamayo, a candidate for councilor under the Fernandez-Fernandez tandem sees malice in some people who induced the old woman to run for mayor.

Vote for Pampanga Governor

A three- cornered fight looms in the gubernatorial race in the province.

Incumbent Governor Lilia G. Pineda is being challenged by former de-facto Governor Eddie Panlilio, a priest-turned-politician and Jose Cabrera Montemayor, Jr, a doctor and attorney by profession.

The two aspirants that will slug it out with Pineda, are both members of the ruling Liberal Party.

Montemayor, in his resume, claimed that he is the district chair of LP in the second district while Panlilio is the provincial chair of the same party.

Pineda said that it is good that the Kapampangans have their choices for the highest position in the province.

At the end of the day, Pineda said, it is the people who will decide on who they want to serve as governor of the province.

"If their platforms of government and programs are better than what we have done for the Kapampangans, why not choose them? After all, the voice and will of the people will prevail in the election."

Philippine Post Office Offers Banking Services

Our friendly neighborhood "karteros"(postman)may soon turn into "bankers" as banking services will soon be added to its mail delivery operations.

Philippine Postal Corporation Chairman Cesar N.Sarino, in an interview with the Bohol media on Monday said that by next January, post offices nationwide will serve the banking needs of municipalities even as reforms are now set in place to regain the trust and confidence of the people in the postal system.

Sarino, concurrent president and chief executive officer of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank, Inc. said "By next week, will be submitting to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas all the documents for the approval of this ambitious plan."

Post offices will serve as extension banks of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank and will initially accept deposits and extend withdrawal services, according to Sarino.

"After three to four years all the 1,800 post offices will serve as bank extensions", a confident Sarino said.With 32 percent of municipalities that have no access to basic banking services, Sarino's bold program to convert existing postal offices into extension banks would provide banking facilities at relatively lower costs.

The plan to convert post offices performing quasi banking services will help boost local economies that are in dire need of the services of banks.

Sarino also bared an aggressive program to cash in on the more than P22 billion foreign remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers(OFWs)using the facilities of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank.

Fighting to remain relevant amidst the onslaught of newer modes of mail delivery, PhilPost has embarked on a slew of programs to stay competitive not only domestically but worldwide.

With only a year at the helm of the Philippine Postal Corporation and the Philippine Postal Savings Bank, Sarino grudgingly admitted that the poor quality of the postal service has eroded the trust and confidence of the public.

Sarino vowed to strictly implement the "zero pilferage" program under his watch while the fast and efficient delivery of mail is now under the watchful eyes of a private company hired to monitor and fast track every movement of mail from the post office to the recipient.

2013 Elections: Nuisance Candidates in Philippines

Negros Oriental provincial election supervisor Atty. Eddie Aba is calling on all candidates seeking elective positions in the May 2013 polls to file early their petition for disqualification of a candidate to relieve the work load of the Law Department of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Atty. Aba issued his appeal Saturday, a day after the Comelec ended its five-day filing period for certificates of candidacy for persons wanting to run in next year's elections.

According to Atty. Aba, a petition to have a particular candidate declared as "nuisance" and have his or her name struck out of the official list of candidates and the official ballot is a tedious process that requires ample time for the law department of the poll body to act on.

Filing the petition for disqualification of a candidate earlier would avoid the risk of having this particular candidate's name printed on the official ballot even if the Comelec ruled in favor of the petitioner much later after the ballots have been printed, Aba pointed out.

The National Printing Office will be printing the official ballots in February 2013, Aba said.

In 2010, Rep. George Arnaiz filed a disqualification case against rival candidate Raul Aniñon, seeking to strike his name out of the official ballot. Arnaiz expressed frustration that even if he had filed his petition early, the Comelec central office released its decision much later, after the official ballots had already been printed.

Arnaiz, who is seeking re-election in 2013 for his 3rd term in Congress, announced last week after filing his COC that he is no longer interested in filing a disqualification case against Aniñon, who is also contesting the same position.

Atty. Aba explained that in the filing of a disqualification case against a particular candidate for whatever reason, the poll body's Law Department will have to scrutinize the petition and determine the legal grounds for disqualification.

He believes the Law Department of the Comelec will be saddled with similar petitions in the coming months prior to the May 2013 mid-term elections.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the substitution of candidates with respect to withdrawal of candidacies has been set on December 21.

Mephentermine is used in maintaining blood pressure

By Bingo P. Dejaresco III

Shabu users have apparently found a substitute for shabu without the risk of apprehension and drug abuse charges--the latest challenge of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The PDEA-national office recently sent a memorandum to its regional offices warning of the abuse of mephentermine "which is a stimulant that has similar effects and characteristics with that of shabu", based on the account of the chemist from their Laboratory Service.

PDEA only learned of the abuse and the resulting addiction to mephentermine after a police operation in Metro Manila which resulted in the arrest of two suspected drug personalities.

The court dismissed the charges against them, since mephentermine is not classified among the prohibited, dangerous, illegal, or regulated drugs under Republic Act 9165.

What makes the job difficult for PDEA is its availability to anyone over-the-counter.

Mephentermine is used in maintaining blood pressure in cases of hypotension. But PDEA learned recently that some of the known shabu users had shifted to its use, although its effect is lesser than that of the amphetamine.

PDEA fears that its use might lead to dependence similar to amphetamine addiction.

With this, PDEA ranking officials plan to lobby before the Dangerous Drugs Board to include mephentermine in the list of regulated drugs.

Meanwhile, PDEA regional directors are getting the names of those who purchased the drug and will trace if anyone of them exceeded the recommended dosage.

Then PDEA will subject those who exceeded the recommended dosage to surveillance.

Meanwhile, Governor Edgar Chatto expressed disappointment in the absenteeism of PDEA-Bohol representatives in recent monthly meetings of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

He called on the regional director of PDEA-7 to make his Bohol staff explain to PPOC their consecutive absences in the monthly meetings at the height of the alarming illegal drugs problem in the province.

Lack of personnel could no longer be accepted as a reason since the PDEA regional director already announced the deployment of three additional personnel here.

For his part, Police Provincial Director Constantino Barot Jr. said the Bohol Police Provincial Office (BPPO) is constantly coordinating with PDEA, as the lead agency in solving the illegal drugs problem.

Barot admitted that they are having a hard time, although the police have a high accomplishment record in the anti-illegal drugs campaign because personalities involved in illegal drugs are penetrating through less familiar entry points such as the islands.

On this, Barot called on PDEA to expand intensive operate to the islands, not only in the town of Carlos P. Garcia, but also in the island barangays in Buenavista and Inabanga where intelligence reports revealed that illegal drugs trade remains rampant.


The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) said that there are more job opportunities for graduates of technical-vocational courses.

TESDA director general Secretary Joel Villanueva said that businesses are stepping up their hiring, offering jobs that match the required skills and expanding opportunities to graduates of various skills.

"Our battle cry in TESDA is 'You have a Choice.' Even without going to college, tech-vocational that is quality and relevant will pave the way for job opportunities," Villanueva told some 3,000 Pampanga youth, who recently finished their technical vocational courses.

Majority of the graduates were recipients of TESDA scholarships under the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) and in partnership with technical vocational institutions led by the Pampanga Federation of Technical Institutions (PAFTI).

Jobs are up for grabs, especially for tech-voc graduates who have acquired the skills through the course they have chosen, he said.

The TESDA chief particularly cited the internet-based recruitment companies wherein has posted a total of 16,966 job vacancies; PhilJobNET has a demand of 123,238 jobs; JobsDB needs at least 82,500 workers; and JobStreet has a demand of 70,420 jobs.

Various manufacturing and construction firms are also on the lookout for workers that would match their skills needs, he said.

Villanueva said the TESDA can boast of pool of graduates who have been successful in their career or in their business endeavor after graduation.

"We bask in the positive stories of TESDA graduates, we hope they are inspiring enough. But we work harder knowing that more needs to be done to bring before every graduates the right job and the financial security that some felt was slipping away from them for too long," he said.

He also said that TESDA would continue to offer scholarships to deserving students.

To date, there are 434,676 TWSP beneficiaries, and 75,738 beneficiaries of the Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA).

Cases of Child Labor

Cases of child labor have persisted in the last several months in small-scale mining areas in T'boli town in South Cotabato despite a ban imposed by the local government on the employment of children or minors in mining activities in the area.

Chona Mantilla, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 12 director, said Monday they uncovered during a recent assessment of the mining activities at the gold rush village of Kematu in T'boli that a number of mining operators in the area have continued to employ minors for their operations.

She said the current pool of child laborers reportedly come from areas outside of Barangay Kematu, which passed a resolution and an ordinance last May that sets the elimination and prohibition of the deployment of minors and under age children within the village's mining sites.

The measure, which was endorsed by the local government of T'boli, called for the full enforcement of such prohibition in the area.

"They (mining operators) resorted to hiring transient and visiting child workers or laborers from neighboring villages because of the ban," Mantilla.

The Barangay Council of Kematu earlier passed the measure to put an end to the long-time practice of local mining financiers and operators of illegally employing minors for their operations.

Barangay Kematu was earlier identified by DOLE central office as among the eight villages in Region 12 that were considered as "child labor areas."

The other areas were Barangays Malire of Antipas, Cadungon and Saguing of Makilala, Presbitero of Pinagkawayan, all in North Cotabato as well as Barangays Lagao, San Isidro and City Heights in this city.

The Provincial Council for the Protection of Children (PCPC) of South Cotabato had documented 64 minors who were recruited and employed by mining operators in Kematu.

The council, which is backed by DOLE and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), said the child laborers in the area worked as "abanteros," packers and haulers in small-scale mining projects.

A number of minors reportedly worked in "banlas" or sluice mining operations, a method deemed illegal by the provincial government due to its destructive effect on the environment.

To address the renewed child labor cases in the area, Mantilla said they are set to expand their ongoing advocacy campaigns against child labor in the area.

She said they would also engage with local authorities and stakeholders to push for the strict enforcement of the ban among local mining operators.

Mantilla said that as part of their advocacy campaign, the agency has partnered with local government units and the private sector to provide livelihood assistance to parents of the child laborers.

"We will engage with the parents of these child laborers since it's their primary responsibility to take care of their children and make sure that they are in school instead of working in these dangerous conditions," she said.

Mantilla said their advocacy drive would also focus on addressing the cultural aspect of the problem, specifically the tradition of going into early marriages of the T'boli tribal folks.

NSO population and housing data of various localities

The National Statistics Office in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region has stepped up the verification of the population and housing data of various localities in the region in a bid to address possible discrepancies.

Lawyer Maqtahar Manulon, NSO Region 12 director, said they are currently conducting spot checking and physical inspections in several parts of the region to specifically verify anew and establish the accuracy of the 2010 Census of Population and Housing results in the area.

"We're doing this to come up with the most accurate and reliable data for the region," he said in a press conference in Koronadal City.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Manulon said that aside from physical verification, they were also verifying the count through the use of computer application Google Earth.

Google Earth is a popular virtual globe, map and geographical information program that maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and geographic information system or GIS three-dimensional globe.

The official said the agency has opened its communication lines to individuals or groups that may want to report any discrepancy or irregularity regarding the population count.

He said concerned parties may call up their offices regarding problems with the count and they will immediately verify or act on them.

"This is a priority endeavor and rest assured that NSO will address all population count problems with dispatch," said Manulon, who also heads the Regional Development Council-12's Regional Statistical Coordinating Committee.

In the event they find some discrepancies with a locality's statistical data, he said the agency will immediately work for their reversal and proper correction.

The official cited the case of a congressional district in Luzon wherein a local court ruled its dissolution due to discrepancies with its population data that eventually made it ineligible based on the minimum population requirement.

He said such ruling, which was mainly influenced by the NSO's findings, was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

"It is important to correct the statistical discrepancies since they would only create problems later on in terms of the delivery of services to an affected area or locality as what we've experienced in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) area," he said.

Manulon said that due to "bogus" statistical findings, the accomplishment of targets of some government programs in parts of the ARMM was earlier hampered.

Important historical landmarks in Iloilo

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has allocated P20 million to rescue and rehabilitate Sta. Barbara church and convent, one of the important historical landmarks in Iloilo.

The rehabilitation was aimed at preserving the place as one of the country's national landmarks after playing an important role during the 1898 Philippine Revolution.

NHCP chairman Maria Serena Diokno disclosed that the Department of Budget and Management has allotted P20 milion for the Phase 1 of the rehabilitation that will commence next year. She added that the actual budget allotted for the initiative in 2013 was P50 million.

Diokno, who was here last week to personally inspect the site said that the other P 30 million for the Phase II project, which is for the rehabilitation of the convent, will be included in the 2014 budget.

Diokno added that she looked forward to a fund augmentation from Ilonggo Sen. Franklin Drilon through the help of the Iloilo Provincial Government.

The NHCP chairman said if the senator through the help of Gov. Arthur Defensor, Sr. could provide the additional budget, she hopes for the early restoration of the project before 2015 Independence Day celebration in Sta. Barbara. President Benigno Aquino III was scheduled to visit and attend the celebration that will be held for the first time outside of Luzon.

Meanwhile, Defensor governor said that he will try his best to convince the senator to allocate additional budget for the said project.

Aside from Sta. Barbara, Diokno also inspected several sites in Iloilo particularly the old capitol building which is currently under restoration and Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) which is being eyed to be converted into a regional museum. The lady chairman appreciated the effort of the provincial government for preserving the historic sites in the province.

Is Iloilo Safe?

It is fun to visit and invest in Iloilo City these days after it earned the reputation as the safest area in Western Visayas region.

The image of the city being where both residents and visitors will feel protected is based on the Philippine National Police (PNP)latest report of crime volume, incidence and solution efficiency rate from the second quarter of 2011 up to the present.

The report showed that Iloilo City, a highly urbanized city and regional center of Western Visayas, emerged as the safest area in the region.

NEDA assistant regional Raul Anlocotan, in his report on the regional economic situationer to the local media, said the crime situation in Iloilo City has gone down tremendously and lauded efforts of City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and the Iloilo City police office headed by S/Supt. Marietto Valerio in providing a safe and secured atmosphere free from celebrated and heinous crimes during the period.

The round-table discussion with the local media and information officers of government agencies on Monday is expected to enhance awareness and understanding of media personnel and government information officers about the basic statistical terms used by the government.

The PNP report showed that crime volume in Iloilo City has gone down from 421 in the second quarter of 2011 to 262 in the second quarter of 2012 thereby posting a 37.76 percent drop.

Compared to Bacolod City, the other highly urbanized city in Region 6, the Negros Occidental city posted 533 crime volumes in the second quarter of 2011 and 605 crimes in the second quarter of 2012 by posting a 13.50 percent change.

As to the crime incidence rate, Iloilo City posted a significant decline from 31.97 to 19.89 percent in the same period with a 37.78 percent cut as compared to Bacolod with 31.50 to 35.76 and posting an increase of 13.52 percent change in the same period.

Crime solution efficiency also posted an increase from 46.08 to 62.97 percent by posting 36.64 percent change in the same period. Bacolod City posted a negative 65.41 percent change from 66.41 percent to only 22.97 percent during the same period.

Campaign against illegal firearms and ammunition

Police operatives scored big in its campaign against illegal firearms and ammunition in the province.

The Sta. Ignacia police confiscated guns and ammunition in the house of Jan Domingo, 26, a resident of Barangay Pila-Pila here over the weekend.

Seized were two .22 caliber rifles, one magazine assembly for M-14 rifle, four pieces of ammunition for cal. 22; two pieces magazine assembly for carbine, 143 pieces ammunition for carbine, 422 pieces of ammunition for M-16 rifle, five pieces of long magazine assembly for M-16; 10 pieces short magazine assembly for M-16 rifle and 52 pieces of ammunition for 9MM handgun.

Domingo was not able to show any legal paper of ownership of the confiscated items and even denied ownership of the guns and ammunition. He claimed that he just kept them in behalf of his 80-year-old grandfather, who retired from military service.

But police chief inspector Ronald Fernandez said they received reports on the indiscriminate firing of guns by Domingo whenever he was under the influence of liquor.

Domingo was brought to the police station for further investigation wherein a case for violation of PD RA 8294 as amended by PD 1866 or illegal possession of firearms and ammunition is being readied against him.

Traffic Management and Transport Regulation Office (TMTRO)

Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog here has assured zero-violence at the Traffic Management and Transport Regulation Office (TMTRO) after a jeepney driver complained of being threatened at the office.

"I assure everybody this will not happened and as long I am the city mayor here, violence will never happened inside the TMTRO office or in any other cityhall office against anyone transacting business at city hall," Mabilog said.

The city mayor said a series of trainings on courtesy for city hall employees dealing with the general public will soon be executed. Courtesy trainings for front line services employees will be conducted within this month of October while a courtesy training for TMTRO employees and traffic enforcers will be conducted by November this year.

Candidates of Liberal Party (LP) in Capiz province

Three candidates of Liberal Party (LP) in Capiz province are running unopposed as the other parties failed to field their own bets during the filing of certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last week.

LP bets who have no opponents are Vice Governor Esteban "Nonoy" Contreras, Dumarao Mayor Leslie Warren "Beboy" Benjamin and Maayon Vice Mayor Weldie "Tambol" Apolinario.

Contreras and Apolinario will be second termers while Benjamin will be serving his last term.

It was learned that the opposition led by former 2nd district congressman Fredenil Castro, who is now running for the same position, run under the National Unity Party (NUP) while gubernatorial candidate Joel Longares is running under the ticket of United Nationalists Alliance (UNA).

Castro is facing Sigma Mayor Maria Andaya (LP) while Longares will oppose the last termer incumbent Governor Victor Tanco, Sr. also of LP.

Meanwhile, there is a three-cornered fight in the 1st district congressional race after Diosdado Tinsay and Zinon Amoroso, both independent candidates, filed their COCs to oppose incumbent 1st District Rep. Antonio del Rosario of the ruling LP.

The city vice mayoral race is also three-cornered fight among incumbent Vice Mayor Ronnie Dadivas of LP and Isagani Acat and Dr. Jose "Piping" Barrio, both independent.

Former City Mayor Vicente Bermejo is again challenging again incumbent City Mayor Angel Alan Celino of LP.

Celino, who was a challenger during the 2010 election, defeated Bermejo with only over 600 margin votes.

Negosyo sa Kariton

Twenty-two ambulant vendors in Tuao, Cagayan were the recipient of fabricated vending carts under the labor department's "Negosyo sa Kariton" (Nego-Kart) livelihood project.

DOLE 2 regional director lawyer Sixto T.Rodriguez, Jr., said,"It is inspiring to be back where I spent most of the memorable times of my life.To return with package of employment intervention like this 'Negosyo sa Kariton' makes it even more significant and heartening".

Rodriguez said the total cost of the livelihood assistance is P330,000. Each vendor beneficiary was provided with a total of P15,000 in assistance.

Each vendor received the cart which costs P10,000 along with working capital of P5,000.

The awarding ceremony was attended by Manuel N.Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office and municipal officials led by Mayor William N. Mamba and the townsfolk.

Meanwhile, Mamba expressed appreciation to the DOLE for the livelihood assistance to his constituents.

Ceres Bus Accident

An 11-year-old girl was killed and 17 other passengers were injured in late Sunday afternoon vehicular accident in Brgy. Luca, Ajuy, Iloilo.

The Ajuy police identified the lone fatality as 11-year-old Sheryn Buendia of North Baluarte, Molo, Iloilo City.

The victim was with her mother who was among the injured onboard the ill-fated Ceres bus.

Police said two units of Vallacar Transit were tailing each other on their way to their respective destinations towards northern Iloilo when the accident took place.

Alcon Aldea, the driver of the Ceres bus ahead, said they were on their way from Iloilo City to Lemery, Iloilo when an elderly suddenly crossed the highway along Brgy. Luca, Ajuy town.

He stepped on the brake to avoid hitting the old man but he lost control of the wheel and the bus veered to its side before it crashed to the mahogany tree on the roadside.

After hitting the tree, the vehicle ended up in the middle of the road where it rested on its side.

The victim, who was sitting next to the bus driver, was thrown out of the bus.

Seeing the incident,the 33-year-old Roel Borlado who drove the Ceres bus tailing behind Aldea's, immediately stepped on the brake but he, too, lost control of the vehicle which also hit the tree beside the road.

Injured passengers were rushed to the nearby hospital in Barotac Viejo town for treatment.

PO3 Giselle Igbaras of Ajuy police believed the Ceres bus driven by Aldea was running at high speed when the accident happened.

But Aldea, who hailed from Balasan, Iloilo, said it was heavily raining in the area and the road was slippery.

Both Aldea and Borlado were detained at the lock-up cell of Ajuy police station.

Dumaguete City Councilor Scandal

Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria is asking Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova to take appropriate action and conduct an immediate investigation on an incident last month involving an anti-hot meat operation in which a city councilor was purportedly involved.

In a letter dated October 4, 2012, Mayor Sagarbarria noted that the incident, which happened last September 21 and involved Councilor Antonio Remollo, was a matter within the competence/jurisdiction of the city legislative branch and that as presiding officer of the city council, he was endorsing the matter to him.

The mayor's request for a probe by the city council via Vice Mayor Cordova stems from an incident last month in which the Hot Meat Surveillance Team of Task Force Sagarr had swooped down on an alleged hot meat vendor who was reportedly roasting a pig (lechon) within the vicinity of his house.

The inspecting team was headed by Charles Tubog, Team-1 leader of Task Force Sagarr and who was joined later by Dr. Lourdes Socorro, city veterinary officer.

During the inspection at Cervantes Extension in Barangay 8, the suspect, identified as Jerry Barrera, who city officials tagged as a "well-known hot meat vendor/supplier", purportedly made a phone call to Councilor Joe Kenneth Arbas, apparently seeking his intercession.

An incident report by Task Force Sagarr showed that Councilor Arbas, whose voice was heard over the speaker phone of Barrera's cellphone, told the latter to contact Councilor Antonio Remollo.

After he was contacted, Councilor Remollo arrived and spoke to the inspecting team, asking them not to confiscate the lechon but to just impose penalties and collect fines from Barrera. However, Dr. Socorro insisted that this was a violation of the law and therefore, the lechon must be confiscated apart from penalizing the suspect.

Remollo claimed that a City Hall employee had ordered the lechon to be delivered to Singapore, to which the city veterinary said she will not issue a clearance for its shipment, citing a law against hot meat.

The city councilor then announced that he would instead take charge of the lechon as it was the birthday of a nephew/niece, but Dr. Socorro again reminded him that it was hot meat and that the rotisserie pig must be confiscated.

The city veterinarian left ahead of Tubog and his team, who told Barrera to report to the City Hall and sign the confiscation receipt.

Barrera appeared later that day at the office of Dr. Socorro, who told him there was no confiscation receipt to sign as the lechon was not delivered to her office.

Tubog admitted there was miscommunication that apparently led to the failure of the anti-hot meat team to confiscate the lechon after Councilor Remollo had interceded.

Mayor Sagarbarria, in asking Vice Mayor Cordova to conduct an investigation, expressed optimism of an appropriate response that would "surely help regain the confidence of our law enforcers and would serve as a good example to the public at large".

National Statistics Month (NSM) celebration

The Regional Development Council (RDC) through its Regional Competitiveness Committee (RCC) will soon craft its regional competitiveness index that will measure the performance of local government units, specifically cities in Western Visayas.

This was disclosed by Engr. Gilberto A. Altura, chief economic development specialist of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) who also sits as secretary of the committee.

In today's roundtable discussion in line with the 23rd National Statistics Month (NSM) celebration, Engr. Altura explained that the RCC is a special committee created by the RDC whose functions are to measure local competitiveness indicators, formulate programs to improve competitiveness, engage in investment promotion activities and contribute to the employment generation and job creation in Western Visayas.

The RCC serves as the counterpart of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), a public-private sector body tasked to "improve the country's global competitiveness ranking."

He stated that the RCC has already came up with an initial assessment of the 66 regional competitiveness indicators under six areas identified by the NCC in coordination with the Regional Statistical Coordinating Committee of the RDC. These areas include dynamism of local economy, responsiveness of local government units to business needs, infrastructure, quality of life, cost of doing business and human resources training.

In fact, the assessment result was used as reference by all other RCCs in the country for baseline data gathering.

Altura said that the NCC through the Project Inquest with a support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is expected to come up with the index within the next 30-45 days, he added. It will then serve as basis for the regular evaluation among cities in the region.

Philippine sail boat race

Thousands of people from all walks of life witnessed the successful holding of the sail boat race in this southern port city amid the scorching heat of the sun and moderate winds.

The sail boat race, dubbed as Regatta de Zamboanga, was held on Sunday at R.T. Lim Boulevard with a total of 125 vintas adorned with colorful sails joining the race in 13 hits.

The winners in the 13 hits competed for the championship round which was a very close race between the yellow sail boat No. 2 and white sail boat No. 44.

Sail boat No. 2 was maneuvered by Amil Hamja, who was also the winner in last year's Regatta.

The crowd cheered wildly when the two sail boats struggled to advance and tried to outrun each other in the championship race.

In the end, sail boat No. 2 raced to the finishing line less than a meter ahead of sail boat No. 44.

Hamja, a resident of Barangay Sinunuc, west of this city, went home with a P10,000 cash prize from the local government and a Honda in-board engine courtesy of Safety Enterprises.

Mayor Celso Lobregat, who helped facilitate the race, said the Regatta is one of the main crowd-drawing events during the Hermosa Festival in celebration of the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar.

Youth Employment Migration (YEM) of DOLE

A total of 120 out-of-school youths (OSYs) in Antique would benefit from the Youth Employment Migration (YEM) program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here.

The YEM is one of the initiatives identified to achieve the social protection pillar under the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan (LEP).

Labor information officer Amy Judicpa said that recipients, who were identified by the local government units and endorsed to DOLE, are provided with skills training and starter kits.

Three of the four batches have already completed skills trainings while starter kits were already provided to the first batch.

The first batch has 26 recipients; 28 for the second batch; and 30 each for the third and fourth batches.

Judicpa during the roundtable discussion here Monday in line with the 23rd National Statistics Month (NSM) celebration presented their agency's LEP on behalf of assistant regional director Salome Siation.

The LEP that covers the period 2011-2016 is a "tripartite-plus" plan aligned with the Philippine Development Plan that provides the consolidated strategic direction for labor and employment.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Negros Oriental Candidates for 2013 Elections

The race for the position of governor of Negros Oriental in the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections will see a four-cornered fight with contenders that include the incumbent provincial chief executive, a former national secretary, an incumbent lady House Representative and a businessman who is running as an independent candidate.

They are incumbent Governor Roel Ragay Degamo (PDP-LABAN), incumbent Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong of the 1st district (Liberal Party), Margarito Bustaliño Teves (NPC) who was Finance Secretary during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Samuel Torres Balbuena, an independent candidate who for the umpteenth time has kept contesting the governorship in previous elections.

The four had filed their COCs on separate occasions during the recent filing period from October 1 to October 5 at the provincial office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Meanwhile, records at the provincial Comelec office also show that three candidates who have filed their COCs will be contesting the position of vice governor. They are incumbent Vice Governor Apolinario Arnaiz, Jr. (NPC), Edward Mark Lopez Macias (LP), and Henry Alegria Sojor (PDP-LABAN).

Candidates for House Representative are the following:

For the 1st district - Lowell Anfone Andaya (Independent), Manuel Mariño Iway (LP), former Rep. Jerome Villegas Paras (NPC) and Danilo Casipong Roble (Independent);

For the 2nd district - Raul Silorio Aniñon (Independent), incumbent Rep. George Planto Arnaiz (NPC) and Karen Fabugais Villanueva (LP), who is currently the mayor of Bais City, Negros Oriental;

For the 3rd district - Marcelo Galicano Adanza (LP), a former Board Member and Zamboanguita mayor, and incumbent Rep. Henry Pryde Alipit Teves (NPC).

The candidates for member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who filed their respective COCs are as follows:

1st district: Amor Anfone Baldado (NP), Napoleon Neri Camero (NP), Rouie David Dayucos delos Santos (Independent), Liland Zoila Bustamante Estacion (LP), Jessica Jane Villanueva Koppin (LP), Georgita Fabugais Martinez (LP), Joselito John Marie Villegas Paras (NP);

2nd district: Ely Cabio Cabanag (LP), Elan Narciso Cadayday (LP), Joinny Donato Cahilog (Independent), Rommel Logronio Erames (NPC), Mariant Escaño-Villegas (NPC), Erwin Michael Lopez Macias (NPC), Agustin Miguel Araneta Perdices (LP), Orlando Veloso Remollo (LP), Melliemoore Maicom Saycon (NPC), Miguel Angel Diaz Teves (PDP LABAN), Arturo Valencia Umbac (PDP LABAN), Fritzie Daryl Lumjod Zanoria (PDP LABAN);

And for the 3rd district - Telesforo Yasay Diao, Jr. (LP), Edmund Ferraren Dy (NPC), Peve Obañana Ligan (NPC), Clayborne Clyde Lim Lim (LP), Edita Maria Aranda Vera (PDP LABAN), Erwin Bernus Vergara (PDP LABAN), Dexter Bendijo Villamor (NPC), and Teopisto Ray Lajato Yap III (LP).

Philippines to Build 9,000 Classrooms Worth 16 Billion Pesos

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday signed two contracts worth P16.28 billion for the construction of at least 9,000 classrooms under the Aquino administration's public-private partnership program.

The Deped awarded the contract to design, build and maintain 2,157 classrooms in Region 1 to BF Corp. and Riverbanks Development -- companies owned by former Metro Manila Development Chairman Bayani Fernando.

Meanwhile, Citicore Investment Holdings and Megawide Construction Corp. was awarded the contracts for a total of 7,144 classrooms in Regions III and IV for P12.83 billion.

The contract packages are under the Deped's Public Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) - I program.

During the signing ceremony at the Deped main office in Pasig City, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said he expected the turnover of projects before the start of opening of classes in June next year.

Destroyer of Forests in Nueva Ecija

A composite team of police, military and environment personnel recovered some 8,000 board feet of illegally sawn lumber in an isolated area in Sitio Batug, Barangay Rio Chico here on Saturday.

Samuel Danganan, officer of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) for Nueva Ecija–South, said the 301 pieces of lumber were discovered on a vacant lot at around 1:30 p.m. by combined elements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), General Tinio police, the Philippine Army's 702nd brigade and the 56th infantry battalion and the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC).

Danganan said the government has re-intensified its drive against illegal logging activities in accordance with Executive Order No. 23 which was issued by President Aquino in February 2011.

He said the confiscated illegal lumber were brought to the provincial environment and natural resources office in Palayan City for proper disposition.

National Food Authority (NFA) Caraga

The National Food Authority (NFA) Caraga has earmarked P18.8 million fund in addition to P12 million it earlier allocated to two NFA provincial offices for corn procurement.

"This has brought to P30.8-M the allocated funds for corn procurement of the two Caraga provinces, NFA-Agusan del Norte and NFA-Agusan del Sur," NFA regional director Gil Pepito Paqueo said.

The fund, dubbed as Cereal Procurement Fund or CPF, was for the purchase of corn in the towns of Las Nieves in Agusan del Norte and river towns of Agusan del Sur which are all corn producing areas.

Paqueo told the corn farmers that an initial amount of P5-M was now sent to the NFA provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, respectively for the purpose.

Senior Citizens Park

The Cebu City Government has formally opened the Senior Citizens Park that sits on a 2,500-square meter property across the City Hall's executive building on M.C. Briones St., this city.

Cebu City Administrator Atty. Jose Marie Poblete said the park will be used for events, programs and activities for senior citizens.

"What we are offering now is an open space for them," he said.

But he made it clear that the park is not limited to the elderly.

Like other open spaces in the city, Poblete said, the City's Parks and Playgrounds Commission will manage the Senior Citizens Park.

The commission, he said, will soon come up with guidelines on the use of the facility.

He said they still have to install benches and decorative lampposts in the area.

Poblete said the city didn't use funds from its coffers to establish the park, since the project was developed through a private-public-partnership.

"Except for manpower, we're proud to say that the city didn't spend for the project since many people helped," he said.

The establishment of the park, which used to occupy an old warehouse, cost P663,649. Its construction started last July.

Deadline of Registration for New Filipino Voters

An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) called on new voters to register before the Oct.31 deadline for the 2013 midterm elections.

Cebu Provincial Comelec Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said they expect big crowds two days before the end of the registration on Oct. 31.

The registration of voters resumed on Saturday, right after the last day of filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs)last Oct. 5.

Castillano said Consolacion's Comelec office recorded on Saturday one of the highest numbers of registrants in the province reaching at least 230 on that day alone.

He asked those who want to register to do so as early as possible to avoid the rush and the crowd.

Under Comelec Resolution 9149, those who are at least 18 years old are allowed to register as voters.

He or she must also be a resident for at least one year in the place where he or she intends to vote or at least six months immediately preceding the day of the election.

To register,applicants should bring any valid identification(ID)such as employee's, postal, school, driver's license, and senior citizen's.

Other IDs accepted by the poll body include the SSS/GSIS, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NBI/PNP clearance, license issued by the Professional Regulatory Commission,passport, and birth certificate.

Meanwhile, Mandaue City Comelec Officer Anna Fleur Gujilde said the number of registered voters of Mandaue is still low compared to the number of registered voters in 2010.

In May 2010, there were 182,813 registered voters in the city. Last October 2010, there were 176,464 voters. But as of June 2012, only 177,903 voters were registered.

Gujilde said reasons for the low number of voters include the transfer of a voter to another town or city, death,the elimination of double registrants and the failure to vote twice.

Scholarships in Cebu, Philippines

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 said the government will send 450 scholars from Central Visayas to study degree courses at the Cebu Normal University (CNU) in Cebu City under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer MCCT) program.

Aileen Lariba and Brigieda Tampus-Goron of DSWD's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps) said the MCCT is a combined effort of the DSWD, CNU, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Lariba and Goron said the budget for each scholar is P60,000 per year, or P30,000 per semester, and this will cover the entire degree course.

They said CHED will release P3,500 a month directly to the scholar to serve as allowance, while the rest of the amount will go directly to the school.

"The CNU has big role in this program because the state university facilitated for the dormitory of the student-grantees. CNU also ensures that the student-grantees can cope with the standard, hence, they have special sessions and studies," Goron said.

Only children of 4Ps beneficiaries will qualify for the scholarship program.

They must be at least 14 years old and will have to come from Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental or Siquijor .

Under the regular 4Ps, a family can qualify for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), with a maximum benefits of P1,400, if they live in poverty and if they have a maximum of three children below 14 years old.

Lariba said the labor department will help the families of the scholars find jobs.

The DSWD is also implementing the MCCT for the Families in Need of Special Protection to provide and strengthen the safety, protection and development of children in difficult circumstances.

It is a modified approach designed to maximize the reach of the CCT to help families and children overcome their difficult situation and bring them into the regular CCT, while generating appropriate resources and services in the community.

The objectives are to return street children to their permanent homes, to send them to school or to the Alternative Learning System, and to mainstream families with children in need of special protection for normal psycho-social functioning through this expanded 4Ps.

Biggest Muslim religious organization

By Edwin O.Fernandez

The leader of the biggest Muslim religious organization in the country welcomed the "framework agreement" that will eventually become the mother agreement that will address the Bangsamoro problem.

Ustadz Jaafar Ali, leader of Darul Ifta (House of Opinion) and founding chair of the National Ulama (Islamic preachers) Council of the Philippines (NUCP), said the preliminary agreement was already a "done deal."

"We are now guaranteed that Bangsamoro people can freely exercise their right to self determination," Ali said a day after President Aquino announced that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have forged the peace deal.

"It may take some time, but at least we are now certain that the government recognizes our peoples' dream of self governance," he added.

On the inclusion of the city to the areas to be covered by the new political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Ali said the people will have their voices heard in a plebiscite to be called for that purpose.

"While many wanted Cotabato City to form part of the NPE, a plebiscite will give them the opportunity to concretize and make their voices heard," he added.

Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, chair of the MNLF which, in 1996, forged a peace agreement with the past administration, also welcomed the framework agreement.

"We hope there could be some integration so all the Bangsamoro people will benefit in the dividends of the peace agreement," he said.

Sema, who is seeking the mayoralty of Cotabato in next year's balloting, said many Cotabatenios favored the inclusion of the city to NPE, since it has been hosting the autonomous regional government since 1990.

He admitted though that there are also those who opposed to join the autonomous set up because of its failure to address the root cause of the problem.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said the president's announcement about the preliminary accord came as good news to most people of the archdiocese.

Quevedo had been publicly supporting the peace process, especially the issue of self-determination of Bangsamoro people.

Filipino Street Children

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 will coordinate with local government units (LGUs) in giving permanent homes to street children and reunite them with their families under the Modified Conditional Cash Trasfer (MCCT) program.

Aileen Lariba and Brigieda Tampus-Garon of DSWD 7 said MCCT is designed for families in need of special protection (FNSP).

Lariba and Garon said the government wants street children and children of families in difficult circumstances to go back to school or to attend special training modes.

They cited observations by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that street children are vulnerable to abuses and may become criminals in the future.

The DSWD also aims to help homeless families that are not covered by the CCT, families with children who are disabled, families of child laborers, and families displaced by demolition and natural disasters.

Lariba and Goron said that because this expanded program is good only for six months, the conditions are: weekly attendance to the family development sessions (FDS) for the first two months, twice a month attendance to family counseling sessions (FCS) for the next two months, and once a month attendance to both FDS and FCS for the next two months.

The other conditions are for target children to attend an alternative mode of learning or a formal school and visit health centers.

They must also be living in a permanent home after six months of social preparation.

Once the target families become eligible for the program, they will receive P300 a month per child for education grant for a maximum of three children and P500 a month per household for health grant, or a maximum of P1,400 a month.

Lariba said the problem of street children is everybody's business, including LGUs, civil society, the church and the families of the street children.

Lumber Seized in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur

Police on Monday intercepted an Elf cargo truck loaded with 90 pieces of dipterocarp in Purok-1, Barangay Ampayon here and were also able to arrest the owner.

Sibagat police chased the truck after it refused to stop and be checked at Tabon-Tabon joint DENR-LGU-PNP checkpoint in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

The apprehended truck owner was identified by Sibagat police as Rogelio Seno Radaza, 72, a resident of Purok-2A, Barangay Bading here. The driver of the truck was able to escape.

Radaza and the truck with its load were brought to Sibagat Municipal Police Station.

Comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill

The Department of Energy (DOE) is pushing for the passage of the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill as they recognize the need to strengthen the policy and framework that will institutionalize efficient use of energy and conservation in the country.

DOE Undersecretary for Energy Efficiency Loreta Ayson said a study on this proposal has been completed with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the stakeholders' inputs in partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines.

The contributions served as basis in crafting the bill.

DOF-Visayas Director Antonio Labios said the distribution of millions of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by districts to eradicate incandescent bulbs is also part of the energy efficiency and conservation program of the government.

If approved into law, Ayson said, this can help the power consumers in lowering their power consumption, thus decreasing their electricity bill even if the rates go up.

Ayson also recognized the complaint of the workers especially from the Trade Union Congress Party-List that the high cost of electricity has wiped out the small increase in the minimum wage the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) allowed last year.

Ayson said the bill has been endorsed to the House committee on energy, which is headed by Rep. Henedina Razon-Abad and Rep. Maria Evita Arago and by Sen. Teofisto Guingona lll in the Senate.

Ayson said while an Enercon Law is not yet in place, the challenge to government is how to expand the engagement of the private sector, such as the industrial and commercial enterprises.

She said that for 29 years, the DOE, through the Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards, has encouraged the private sector to participate in its initiatives, by giving recognition to firms that have achieved significant reduction in their energy consumption through energy conservation technologies and measures.

She said that last year, 59 industrial and commercial establishments, 33 energy managers and two power generating plants received honors for their significant contribution to the government's energy efficiency and conservation initiatives.

Quality education to meet global challenges

By Danny O. Calleja

Members of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC)have just completed a program that will strengthen their capabilities to provide quality education to meet the global challenges of the present times, an education official announced here Monday.

"We have just completed the first session of the Executive Course in Education Management and Leadership (ECEML)," according to Dr. Fay Lea Patria Lauraya, Bicol University (BU) president and chairperson of the Bicol chapter of PASUC.

Lauraya said 85 presidents of state universities and colleges (SCUs) from all over the country attended the event with a theme:"Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Context of Educational Management and Leadership."

"The leaders must be trained anew to (provide) competitive education not only in the Philippines but in the world,"Lauraya said.

"Quality education is a must in building a quality nation. And being one of the major provider of education, there is a need to provide SUC presidents with new insights and ideas as administrators of education to match the changing conditions in our country and the whole world," Lauraya stressed.

She said that in 2015 SCUs should prepare for the holding of the ASEAN Community 2015 with the goal: One Vision, One Identity and One Community.

"Under the ASEAN Community 2015, trans-global competition will impose tougher demands on the competencies of our professionals," Lauraya explained.

Lauraya stressed that "although the World Economic Forum has upgraded our global competitiveness from 75 to 65,there is still the need for the government to implement further improvements in education."

"There is a need for deeper and wider reforms in education," she stressed.

The first session of the ECEML was conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the PASUC.

The executive course, specifically designed for presidents of all SUCs in the country, aims to equip the school heads with relevant and practice-based competencies that are essential in managing and leading their respective SUCs.

The entire ECEML will run until December and will culminate with a visit to a foreign country to observe best modern practices in higher education institutions and to possibly establish partnerships for future collaborations.

The course is a major component of the executive development program for SUCs (EDPS) jointly implemented by DAP and CHED and developed specifically for SUC senior executives and officials.

BU, the leading state-run higher educational institution in Bicol which hosted the event,showcased its best practices on educational management and leadership.

It shared its success stories along public-private partnerships in curriculum development, ISO management review, fiscal and administrative decentralization and salary standardization for non-teaching personnel.

The program is pursuant to the Public Higher Education Roadmap (PHER) 2011-2016 which aim "to enhance the capability of managers of public higher education institutions to implement reforms and program initiatives."

Solution to Salinity Caused by Tsunami

A Japanese corporation has tapped Bicol University to develop cocopeat as a solution to the salinity problem left by the 2011 tsunami in Japan's rice fields.

BU last Aug.9 sealed a partnership with the Original Coco Corp.(OCC), a private Japanese firm for the research engagement that will also involve the Bicol University Development Foundation,Inc.(BUDFI) and Coco Technologies Corporation (COCOTECH), the Philippines' leading bioengineering company and coco coir manufacturer.

BU president Dr.Fay Lea Patria Lauraya on Monday said that under a memorandum of agreement(MOA) she signed with OCC president Kazuyuki Asanuma, the university has committed to provide facilities and researchers for the formulation of project proposals and experimental designs to the Japanese corporation.

OCC,on the other hand,will provide the university with technical information and data, as well as funds necessary for the research, Lauraya said.

Should results of the research turn out successful, the corporation will have the technology patented in both Japan and the Philippines, she added.

Joining the partnership are CocoTech headed by its president, Dr. Justino R. Arboleda who has committed to provide the needed cocopeat for the undertaking, at no cost, together with all technical information on the product; and BUDFI, represented by its chairman, Dr. Emiliano Aberin who shall manage the funds for the entire undertaking.

The duration of the BU research has been set for one year, unless a need to extend it is foreseen or an earlier termination is found necessary, at which case either may be entered into upon mutual agreement among the involved parties.

Swiss Artists to Perform in the Philippines

Tuburan Institute, Inc. (TBI) the Steiner Waldorf inspired school in Blissful Village, Sitio Sagrada Familia, Brgy. Indangan, Davao 
City is proudly presenting ArteNova Institut Eurythmy Youth Ensemble's eurythmy performance, "Transitions" to be held on 
Friday, October 12, 2012 at the Davao Convention and Trade Center, F. Torres St., Davao City. On that day, Davaoeños will 
have the opportunity to witness this expressive art movement twice 1) Matinee at 3:00 in the afternoon (P100/ticket) and, 2) 
Gala at 7:00 in the evening (P200/ticket and P400/ticket). 

Moniela dela Cruz, a volunteer of TBI describes eurythmy as a beautiful or harmonious rhythm. "It's a form of dance, speech, 
song, creative expression and body language combined," she says. For the first time, Davaoenos can enjoy this performance of 
eurythmy with acrobatics, jazz, tango, and other styles. Katherine E. Estember, Head Teacher of TB says it's not every day that 
ArteNova Institut Eurythmy Youth Ensemble from Switzerland is going on a Philippine tour and passing by Davao following 
their recent debut at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

Joining the excitement are schools, entrepreneurs, government workers, non-government organizations and people's 
organizations engaged in green businesses, environment advocacies, children, conflict-mediation and concerned with total 
human development. The University of the Immaculate Conception (UIC), the Davao Doctor's College (DDC), the Ateneo de 
Davao University (ADDU), the University of the Southeastern Philippines (USEP), South Point School Davao (SPSD), Tender 
Years Early Childhood Center (TYECC), and the Philippine Women's College – Davao (PWCD) are all sending their faculty, 
staff, and students majoring in Education, Psychology, Sociology, Occupational Therapy, Liberal Arts, Physical Education, and 
so on, to learn and experience about eurythmy also known as "soul gymnastics." "This is a once in a lifetime experience for 
Education Majors!"  explains Dr. Lyndon Devero, OSA Director of the PWC – Davao.

Eurythmy is widely used pedagogically in more than 1,000 Steiner Waldorf schools in over 65 countries to draw out students' 
creativity. Athena Masilungan, mother, early childhood teacher, and dancer says, "In my experience with children, I've found 
that eurythmy helps them be attuned with their bodies and find connections and oneness with everything around them. I've seen 
them develop stronger physical bodies, better coordination and a deeper connection to nature." The result for adults is the same 
according to Hindy Weber Tantoco – mother, wife, teacher, fashion designer, owner of Holy Carabao Holistic Farms. "I find 
most use for it in healing, cleansing, and strengthening. The curative aspect of eurythmy is what speaks to me more because of 
my needs," she says. Joy Romualdez Kawpeng, mother, wife, teacher, classical pianist, and music educator will be joining the 
Swiss artists in Davao City and says, "Eurythmy is nothing short of magic for me. But it's not for free. Like a skill we've taught 
ourselves to learn – as an athlete, artist, or musician – we have to put in effort to see results." 

The three women are part of the first Eurythmy Basics Training Group in Manila that has been training with Tanja Baumgarter, 
the star of "Transitions." Ms. Baumgarter is a mother of three children who got her training from the Zuccoli Eurythmy 
School in Dornach. She is the founder of Eurythmy Massage that works on the living forces of the body and has been doing 
extensive eurythmy research on plants and water. She now travels abroad to give practical trainings in eurythmy. For this 
year's celebration of 100 years of eurythmy, Ms. Baumgarter is going on a Philippine Tour with ArteNova Institut. Davaoenos 
interested to watch  Transitions can contact these numbers 09228938370 (sun), 09177174668 (globe), and 09081535326 
(smart) for tickets. 

All proceeds of Transitions will help Tuburan Institute, Inc. get off the ground as it embarks on its first school year developing 
balanced willing, thinking, and feeling. Inspired by the international Steiner Waldorf movement spanning more than 1,000 
schools in over 65 countries two (2) college educators, founded Tuburan Institute, Inc. in June 2011. Its doors opened to the 
first students last June 13, 2012. Each year one more level will be added until Class 12 on a proposed 10-hectare campus with 
children coming from families with different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.