Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jobs in Iloilo

Iloilo offers abundant opportunities for job seekers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and property developers for the information and communication technology (ICT) industry.

Joeven Tansi, executive director of the Iloilo Federation for Information Technology (IFIT), said there is a need for additional infrastructure support with more investors eyeing Iloilo as their hub.

Last year, he said three investors signified their intention to establish a hub in this city.

Currently, there are two available sites ready to take in BPO companies- the Plazuela de Iloilo at the Diversion Road in Mandurriao district and a building that is owned by Alfonso Tan along Quezon Street at the city proper.

He said they have also inquired at the Ayala Hub in Mandurriao district if they could provide additional IT hub.

Megaworld Corporation, once its development is completed, will augment the necessary infrastructure support needed to respond to the growing BPO locators here.

Currently, Iloilo plays host to six call centers, one animation services and seven others that specialize in web content developer and real property processing, among others.

BPO companies also remain as one of the top job generators in Iloilo. Last year, Tansi said close to 6,000 were employed by BPOs. With the increasing need for workers, he added that they have to augment their talent pool in Iloilo from other provinces.

Applications for absentee voting

The provincial election supervisor here has urged all government officials, police and military authorities as well as members of the media to submit their applications for absentee voting the soonest possible time.

Lawyer Dinah Cagampang-Sapong, in an interview with PNA, said the military and the police have until March 15 while the members of the media until March 31 to submit their applications to avail of the absentee voting privilege.

Sapong said the application forms are now available at the Provincial Comelec Office at Capitol Compound, Pagadian City or may be downloaded from www.comelec.gov.ph, the official website of the Commissions on Elections (Comelec).

This absentee voting privilege is contained under Resolution 9637, which outlines the rules for early voting for security authorities, poll watchers and other government employees and members of the media, Sapong said.

The media practitioners include the following: print journalists, television journalists, photo journalists, online journalists, radio journalists, documentary makers, and television/radio production staff.

Sapong said government officials and employees including the military and police who are duly registered voters are allowed to vote for national positions only such as senators and party-list representatives in places where they are not registered, but where they are temporarily assigned to perform election duties on Election Day as provided under Executive Order No. 157 and Republic Act No. 7166.

She also said media members availing themselves of absentee voting will be able to vote only for national candidates like senators and party-list.

"You can vote only once," she said citing "the penalty is harsh for those who will vote twice."

Media voters shall vote in the Comelec office where they filed their applications to avail the local absentee voting, she said.

The media entity or corporation to which the applicant is employed should also provide a certification that the applicant is a bonafide employee and may not be able to vote due to the performance of his functions in covering and reporting the conduct of elections.

Establishment of a welfare institution in Philippines

Pangasinan (4th District) Rep. Gina de Venecia has filed a bill seeking the establishment of a welfare institution that will take care of special children or those with autism, and hearing and speech impairments.

House Bill 6547, which De Venecia filed in Congress, is an Act providing for the establishment of centers for children with autism and those with hearing and speech impairment.

Under the proposed law, she said there should be one special children's center in each of the 17 regions of the country where children suffering from autism, impairment in speech and hearing can study for free.

As chairperson of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. during the term of his husband, five-time House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., she helped established The Haven for Women for members of the fairer sex who had been victims of rape; The Haven for Children for street children; and The Haven for the Elderly for neglected senior citizens.

Equipment for more efficient firefighting capabilities

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) regional office here will beef up its personnel and procure additional equipment for a more efficient firefighting capabilities.

BFP regional director Ariel Barayuga said they are now in the process of recruiting additional personnel that would respond to fire incidents in Central Luzon

Barayuga said the BFP-3 are in need of more than 1,000 additional firefighters to meet the ideal ratio of one fireman per 2,000 residents in the region.

At present, he said there are only 1,250 firefighters in the whole region.

"We are continuously recruiting new firefighters to augment our manpower," Barayuga said as he disclosed that they have 104 new recruits who will undergo training for six months.

Aside from boosting the manpower requirement, he said they are looking into the procurement of additional firetrucks and other equipment.

At present, he said they are awaiting the arrival of three firetrucks which the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has acquired from Vienna.

The purchase is funded by a soft loan from the Austrian government.

"We are really in need of more firetrucks because we still have 13 municipalities in the region that do not have firetruck nor fire station," he said.

He said there are 155 firetrucks in the region wherein some of which were old and outdated.

He also appealed to residents to always inspect electrical connections and liquefied petroleum gas tanks, the usual causes of fire incidents.

Production of biodegradable plastics out of sugarcane

The ban on the use of plastics in packaging here did not discouraged the Sugar Regulatory Administration to urge entrepreneurs to venture in the production of biodegradable plastics out of sugarcane.

In her recent visit here, SRA Administrator Maria Regina Bautista-Martin said products out of sugarcane should not be limited to sugar alone but to biodegradable plastics, bio-water, bio-ethanol and cogen.

Sugarcane can also be used for producing paint, cosmetics, textile, among others. Coming up with other products other than sugar can help boost the value of sugarcane in the market, she stressed.

Diversifying sugarcane production, according to the official, can help cane planters and millers survive the impacts of lower tariffs on subsidized imported sugars come 2015 and beyond due to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Free Trade Agreement (AFTA).

Producing biodegradable plastics made from variety of plants such as corn, sugarcane and switchgrass is considered nowadays as the "clean" alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

In other countries, the use of biodegradable plastic has established a market and the demand on environment-friendly packaging are projected by experts to grow through the years.

But in this city, the use and sale of any kind of plastics is prohibited pursuant to City Ordinance No. 562 otherwise known as Plastic Ordinance effective November 23, 2012.

Quezon Governor David “Jayjay” Suarez

Quezon Governor David "Jayjay" Suarez visited Quezon's north-eastern towns of the REINA area comprising Real, Infanta and General Nakar to inaugurate road infrastructure projects and health programs for constituents recently.

The governor was in General Nakar to turn over the P2.375 million-peso health coupons under the Lingap Kalusugan sa Barangay or Serbisyong Suarez Health Coupons for the town's 19 barangays.

Barangay leaders, kagawads (village councilmen) and tanods (village security force) welcomed the provincial governor at the turnover rites.

Barangay Pamplona Captain Alfredo Moises and Catablingan Barangay Captain Fabian Villareal also joined Governor Suarez as he inaugurated the Kuyapi provincial road which connects the barangays in General Nakar.

The Quezon Governor also led the blessing and inaguration of the Infanta-Ilog provincial road with Infanta Vice-Mayor Ricky Macasaet and Ilog village chief Mario Cuento.

While continuing his leg of the visit to Real, Governor Suarez administered the oath of office of the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI) officers at the municipal court.

Unfazed by the inclement weather, Barangay Poblacion 1 residents converged at the program venue to witness the inauguration of Kinasinan-Kisusuyo provincial road.

Real Mayor Joel Diestro and Vice Mayor Edith Escama welcomed and assisted the Governor during the inaugural rites at the municipal covered court.

Quezon 1st district Board members Tetchie Dator, Gerry Talaga, Romano Franco Talaga and Poblacion Barangay Captain Bautista Avino also attended the event.

The provincial leader also turned over certificates of ownership for the 20 wheelbarrows and a four-wheeled tractor for the farmers of Barangay Bagong Silang in Real.

Teachers in collecting real property taxes

The Mandaue City Treasurer's Office is planning to tap public school teachers in collecting real property taxes.

Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva said he will ask teachers to help his office send demand letters to property owners that have yet to pay their taxes.

Last December, Oliva said the city sent demand letters to about 3,000 real property owners.

The letters helped the city raise its collection to P258.3 million last year, an increase of 103 percent from 2011.

"The demand letters we sent to real property owners were a factor in the increase," Oliva said.

Apart from real property, taxes the city was also able to increase its collection of business taxes. As of January 25, it collected P236 million, an increase of 26 percent from last year's.

Despite the demand letters, some property owners have yet to settle their unpaid taxes.

Oliva said about 500 real property units are set for public auctions.

But owners can still save their properties from getting auctioned if they heed the final demand letters the city will send soon with the help of public school teachers.

Supplemental feeding program for children

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Sonia Leyson announced during Monday's flag-raising rites at the Quezon Provincial Capitol that the supplemental feeding program for children will now be a regular feature in the community improvement thrust of the province.

The social welfare official made the assurance after Quezon Governor David Suarez and the DSWD regional office firmed up the allocation of some P 65.5- million pesos for projects to combat malnutrition in the province.

At the provincial celebration of Children's Month last October, the supplementary feeding was among the priorities for children beneficiaries program, according to Leyson.

She also assured that the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps is now fully implemented throughout the province.

Leyson also announced to provincial officials and employees that Director Leticia Diokno has assumed as the new regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Calabarzon regional office.

Cafgu Killed in NPA Encounter

A member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was killed while five soldiers were wounded in an encounter with elements of the New People's Army (NPA) Monday morning at the hinterlands of Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

Captain Nathaniel Morales, commander of the 3rd Command Information Company of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, identified the fatality as Rafael Imba while those injured were Corporal Rico Ganza, Private First Class' Roel Guisadio, Rex Barete, Jene Boy Gabotero and Maher John Romarate.

Morales said that elements of the 1003rd IB led by one Lt. Revalle were conducting a foot patrol at the vicinity of Barangay Gupitan at 10:30 a.m. following reports of the sightings of the rebels in the area allegedly conducting extortion activities among civilians there.

But as they arrived at the place, they were met with a volley of bullets that resulted to a gunfire.

Morales said that it was just unfortunate that since they were on the disadvantaged area they suffered casualties on their side.

Establishing a cooperative for jeepney

Instead of putting them in jail Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is mulling establishing a cooperative for jeepney 'barkers' whose presence is prevalent in almost loading and unloading areas of the city here.

This was in response to the move of the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (ICLAJODA) urging the local policemen and the traffic office here to strictly enforce the city's "anti-barker" ordinance.

"Barkers" in exchange for assisting public utility jeepneys (PUJs) pick passengers are given P5 to P10 for every trip. However, the ICLAJODA currently, complains that "barkers" are already getting bold even threatening drivers should they refused to give the amount.

They are earning as much as P700 a day, according to ICLAJODA.

Mabilog said that he wanted "barkers" organized so that a livelihood project will be provided to them instead of just staying in their current state.

He said that putting them in jail is never a solution because once they get out they will still go back to their old work.

Free patent application for the titling of the parcel of land

The City Council has approved a resolution for the issuance of free patent to 80 poor families occupying a 5,750-square meter lot in Migkawa, Barangay Tablon here.

Vice Mayor Ian Acenas, presiding officer of the City Council, said the local legislative body interposes no objection to the free patent application for the titling of the parcel of land occupied by members of the Migkawa Landless Association in Tablon here for over 20 years now.

Councilor Ramon Tabor, member of the committee on urban and rural poor, said actual inspection was conducted together with technical persons from concerned departments.

ISO Certification in Red Cross

The regional Philippine Red Cross (PRC) blood center here is gunning to achieve an ISO Certification in recognition of the center's excellent facility and leveling up of its blood banking services in Western Visayas.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said the modern blood facility here is now ripe for worldwide recognition brought about by the recent renovation and expansion spearheaded by the PRC Iloilo chapter.

Pang admitted that it is now time for the chapter and blood center modernization to expect leveling up as a blood collection center in Western Visayas and become an excellent reference center for blood banking services in the country.

These include improving the skills of staff and training abroad. A team from Iloilo City will be sent within the year to train possibly in Thailand and Sydney, Australia while teams from abroad and the national office will come to Iloilo as the next reference center to observe blood banking services.

Pang said the laudable efforts of PRC Iloilo headed by Chairman Ramon Cua Locsin and chapter Administrator Gilbert Paul Valderrama is manifested in the upgrading of chapter office and blood center and facility.

Established in Iloilo as the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) in 1946 with a separate blood center, the facility was refurbished in 2011 as the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) local chapter that operated and managed the blood center.

Pang said the local chapter has already gone very far to lead the blood facility in Western Visayas. It was recognized as Number 1 in the Visayas and Number 3 in the national level in terms of blood collection in 2012 that follows the chapters in Metro Manila and Mindanao.

The blood facility shows the sharp determination of the local chapter and identified as partner of the Department of Health for HIV-AIDS Round 6 project site, Pang concluded.

The renovated facility was inaugurated over the weekend and the new state of the art equipment were turned by donors Gochangco family and Rotary Club of Midtown Iloilo.

Cases of illegitimate births or unwanted pregnancies

Cases of illegitimate births or unwanted pregnancies have been a rising trend for the last ten years in the metro, a report from Commission on Population Office (POPCOM) disclosed.

The report showed that of the total 97,172 live births in 2001 up to 2010, some 18,855 cases were "illegitimate"(9,745 male newborns and 9,110 female newborns).

POPCOM's record also showed that the incidence of illegitimate births is prevalent among adolescents or those aging between 15 and 19 (3,881 cases) and young adults or those aging between 20 and 24 (7,790 cases).

A high incidence is also noted among the adults with a total of 4,107 cases. Worst, the report likewise indicated that 15 cases of illegitimate births in ages 14 years old and below are in the city.

As to the profile of the pregnant women recorded by POPCOM, Alisbo explained that some 3,965 migrated to this city, 14,861 are bona fide residents and 29 hailed from the other places outside the city and province of Negros Occidental.

Further, majority of the total cases recorded or 14,847 are housekeepers, 3,410 are professionals, and some 698 are still students, she said.

In terms of birthing facility, Alisbo said many preferred to deliver in government hospitals (7,695) than in private hospitals (5,420).

If categorized by religion, Alisbo said Roman Catholics ranked first at 16,984 cases, followed by the Baptists (764), Iglesia ni Kristo (248), and the rest is shared by the Aglipayan, Seventh Day Adventist, among others.

With the statistics rising, Population Worker Mary Ann Alisbo emphasized the need for more aggressive and collaborative advocacies toward family planning and responsible parenthood.

Alisbo said the persistent rise in the trend can be caused by many factors which include, among others, the ballooning state of poverty and unemployment.

Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cebu office

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cebu office is moving to Quimonda IT building on Baclig St. in the city's port area near SM City Cebu.

The BOC is allocating more than P800,000 a month, or P9.6 million a year, to rent half of the second floor of the building.

Cebu Customs District Collector Edward dela Cuesta said the estimated cost to transfer the entire Port of Cebu office, which includes division of offices, power and water lines, computer and IT lines, furniture and fixtures, among others, is P23 million.

President Benigno S. Aquino III recently turned down the request of Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino "Ruffy" Biazon to return to the BOC-owned building in Aduana, Cebu City, which was converted into the Malacañang sa Sugbo in 2005 by then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

War in Boracay

The peaceful-loving islanders particularly in Sitio Balinghay, Brgy. Yapak, Boracay Island expressed alarm over the warring security guards from two security agencies which traded bullets that converted the locality into a virtual "wild wild west" barely noontime today.
In a long distance call, Boracay Tourist Assistance Center (BTAC) on-duty desk officer PO1 Juno Gregorio, said the shooting incident happened 10 minutes before noontime Monday.

He said no less than Boracay chief of police S/Insp Joeffer Cabural who proceeded to the area along with his men to conduct an investigation on the shooting rampage involving security guards from the Alpha Security Agency and Golden Eye Security who were fielded to watch the disputed land claim in the area.

PO1 Gregorio said the Boracay PNP led by S/Insp. Cabural has disarmed the 16 security guards involved in the shooting incident to difuse tension.

Firearms confiscated includes five 9mm pistols and five 12-gauge shotgun.

Fortunately, he said, the exchange of gun fires between the warring blue guards that lasted for almost half an hour left no fatalities or injuries to both sides.

Report have it that the shooting rampage erupted after one of the claimants, whom the police declined to identify, constructed the perimeter fence in the disputed land. Thus, triggered the shootout between the two camps.

Women’s Month in March

The Dumaguete City Government has lined up a series of activities in line with its present thrust to empower and mobilize every sector of society in celebration of Women's Month in March.

The local observance of Women's Month is spearheaded by the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI), a women's group organized by the City Social Welfare and Development Office.

The celebration kicked off with a mass and parade on Friday at the Quezon Park.

Other activities include the clean-up and beautification activity at the Women's Center beside the CSWDO building on March 6 and 7; whole day convention of KALIPI members from the different barangays, March 8; a Kapihan sa PIA forum, March 13;

Also, a jail visitation at BJMP Bajumpandan facility is set on March 15 and a seminar on R.A. 9262, R.A. 9208 and R.A. 7610 on March 18 at the Women's Center, said Syril Repe of the City Information Office.

On March 21, 2013, the group will once again gather for a symposium on the theme: "Kababaihan: Gabay sa Pagtahak sa Tuwid na Daan".

The celebration will end with an awarding and culmination ceremony on March 26 in the afternoon at the Women's Center.

F1 Racing in Cebu

Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) has said he wants to put up a Formula 1 (F1) circuit, hotels and condominiums in Cordova, Cebu.

He said he has not talked to municipal officials about this but he said he had shared the idea with some investors.

Osmena said he wants to make Cebu a Mecca for fans of F1 racing.

"This could rival the Sinulog," he said, explaining that Cordova can provide one of the longer racing courses in the world, if not the longest.

A hotel and condominiums can be integrated into the F1 circuit, he said.

This F1 proposal will then make the Cordova Reclamation Project viable, he said.

Osmeña said he does not mind being labeled "crazy" for his big ideas.

His father Don Sergio Osmeña Jr. was responsible for transferring the airport from Lahug in Cebu City to Mactan. Others had also called the move "crazy."

Osmeña wants to develop Cordova because of its proximity to Cebu City.

He earlier even floated the idea of making Cordova a third congressional district of Cebu City.

Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy said he is amenable to the town being home to an F1 circuit.

Sitoy said that if investors do come to Cordova in response to Osmeña's proposal, he will welcome them with open arms and the only issue to be discussed is where they'll put up their business.

Sitoy said he would be happy if funding for the area development for the whole project will come from the National Government, Cebu Provincial Government or even the Cebu City Government.

On the other hand, Sitoy wished the airport will still be transferred to his town, and the F1 circuit will be built near it.

He said Cordova has a reclaimable area of 1,200 hectares that will connect to Shell Island.

Although Shell Island is part of Cordova, it is only 520 meters from Cebu City.

"If there is a tunnel or a bridge from Cebu City to Cordova, it can be connected by a skyway to a proposed new airport along Pilipog River," he said.

Rebellion charge in Negros Oriental

A suspected leader of the liquidation unit of the communist New People's Army (NPA), who is facing a rebellion charge in Negros Oriental, and his companion were arrested Tuesday evening in Barangay Alegria, Catigbian in Bohol.

The suspects were identified as Ruben Nabas alias Ebyong/Elmer/Padi/Rex, leader of Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) of the New People's Army (NPA) and a certain Cristituto Lastomen alias Onyot, also a member of the SPARU, a statement issued Monday by the Philippine Army's 302nd Infantry Brigade in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental said.

Both were arrested for illegal possession of firearms in Barangay Alegria, Catigbian, Bohol around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday at a checkpoint conducted jointly by the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army personnel in the area.

Confiscated from their possession were one caliber .45 pistol and one caliber .9mm Berretta pistol, P18,220.00 cash and several suspected subversive documents.

Nabas has a standing warrant of arrest for rebellion filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 63 in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental.

Military records shows that Nabas was allegedly a former vice commander of the elite force (SDG) of the NPAs operating in the hinterlands of southern Negros Oriental.

He and his companions are believed to be responsible for the attack of two PNP camps in Bohol in 1999 which led to the loss of several firearms from the government side.

Nabas was also allegedly responsible for the bombing of two newly constructed transmission line towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines at Barangay Sta. Catalina in Sagbayan, Bohol on December 13, 2011 and in Barangay Sto. Nińo, San Miguel, Bohol on June 24, 2012.

Socialized housing site in Cebu

More than 200 families living in a socialized housing site in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City will soon have access to potable water right inside their homes.

The Tubig Pagasa, a firm that distributes water in communities not reached by local water districts, recently inaugurated a water network in the Lower Tipolo Homeowners Association Inc. (LTHAI) housing site.

The area is home to 255 families, who get water from water pumps situated several meters away form their houses, LTHAI president Dometilla Subang said.

The Tubig Pagasa partnered with the Metropolitan Cebu Water District in establishing a water network in the site, with the support of the Mandaue City Government.

Celine Santillan of Tubig Pagasa said they chose LTHAI as their pilot site in the Visayas because there is a need for water in the area and because of the support of the local water district and the Mandaue City Government for their project.

The Presidential Urban Poor Commission in Cebu also helped implement the project.

Santillan said Water and Life Philippines, a non-government organization that works with Tubig Pagasa, trains residents in firefighting and fire prevention, among others.

The LTHAI was registered with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board in 2001.

Subang, 61, said a faucet was installed in the housing site in 2005 but the water pressure was very low.

A fire struck the housing site in 2007.

"We are very happy that we can now get water right inside our house," Subang said.

Some 100 households already have water connections inside their house, while 180 are still applying.

Santillan said their target is to provide water to 500 households, including those outside LTHAI.

The firm charges P4,900 for each household for the cost of installing water pipes, but the residents can pay this in daily installment over 64 weeks.

Each house will have a water meter. Personnel from Tubig Pagasa will do daily readings, so the residents will have to pay everyday. Residents pay P1 for every 20 liters of water.

Santillan said they collect bills daily to spare residents the burden of paying a large amount at the end of a month.

Violation of Comelec gun ban

Two more face complaints of violation of the Comelec gun ban and illegal possession of firearms after the recent raid in Dagohoy, an interior town 72 kilometers from this capital city.

SPSupt. Nicomedes P Olaivar Jr., commander of the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC), identified the suspects as Ariel Avergonzado Macabenta, 25 yrs old, married, and Pablito Indino Macabenta, 56 yrs old, married, both residents of barangay Kagawitan, Dagohoy.

They were arrested in a raid on Friday morning and investigators filed the complaints against them today (March 4).

Police Provincial Director Constantino Barot Jr. said the police units in Bohol are conducting successive implementation of search warrants on loose firearms—both unlicensed firearms and those with expired licenses.

Oplan Paglalansag was conducted on March 1 at 7 o'clock in the morning by joint elements of PPSC led by Olaivar, Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch under PInsp. Pelagio Rosagaran and Dagohoy municipal police under SPO1 Jerry Amang.

PO2 Nelson Lodripa said the raiding team swooped down the residences of the suspects based on search warrant Nos. 13-07 and 13-08 issued by Acting Presiding Judge Marivic Trabaho-Daray of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 52 based in Talibon.

Investigators already filed complaints of illegal possession of firearms against the suspects, in relation to violation of Republic Act 8294 (An Act Amending The Provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, Entitled "Codifyingthe Laws on Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives or Instruments Used In The Manufacture of Firearms, Ammuni"tion or Explosives, And Imposing Stiffer Penalties for Certain Violations Thereof, and for Relevant Purposes).

Confiscated and seized from the residence Ariel Macabenta were one cal .38 Smith and Wesson pistol with serial number C65924, eight live ammunitions of cal .38, two empty shells of cal .38 and one empty shell of cal .45.

Address the problems of geo-hazards

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has authorized Governor Amado Espino Jr. to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to effectively address the problems of geo-hazards in the region.

This was provided for in Resolution No. 1781 approved by the SP in its regular session Monday (March 4) in connection with the conduct of Geological Science Scoping (GSS) and preparations of Engineering Geological and Geohazard Assessment (EGGA) for any environmental critical project, including subdivisions and housing.

The SP said that in order to adequately and comprehensively address and mitigate the possible effects/impacts of geologic hazards, the DENR should require the conduct of EGGA, in addition to the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC)


Invest in Palawan

Like other developing provinces in the country, Palawan is getting its fair share getting over over a billion pesos of investments in 2012, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Emma Quillope, Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist of DTI-Palawan, said these billion-peso investments also created 8,443 jobs.

She said these 4,225 new businesses in trading, manufacturing, agriculture, and other services, account to 60% of total new business registrations in the MIMAROPA (Mindoro/Marinduque/Romblon/Palawan) region.

This year, DTI-Palawan expects more investments to come in, particularly in the municipalities where new tourism sites have been flourishing. These areas include the towns of El Nido, Coron, San Vicente, Taytay in the north; and Narra, Quezon, and Brooke's Point in the south.

Malaysia Kills Filipinos in Sabah

As clashes between Malaysian authorities and the armed followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III continue, Malacanang Tuesday said what the Philippine government can do is to assist their families left behind.

"We have done everything possible, and we continue to do everything possible to peacefully end this (Sabah) standoff. Unfortunately, the position taken by the Kiram family is a position that leads down to violence," said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.

"Ang ginagawa namin ngayon, itong mga naiwan sa Basulta (in Sulu) ay tinutulungan po natin 'yung mga pamilya," he said.

"In fact, the wife of Raja Muda (Agbimmudin) Kiram -- Haji Norkiza Kiram -- is in touch with the families. She is instrumental in helping us identify who are the people who went to Lahad Datu. And upon identification of the people who went to Lahad Datu, we are able to trace the families of those men who went to Lahad Datu. So, we are going to provide assistance to them and (the) DSWD (Dept. of Social Welfare and Development) is on top of that," he noted.

DSWD Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Juliano-Soliman earlier said social workers from Bonggao were added to assist the existing Pantawid Pamilya network of social workers in Simunul, Tandabanak, and Sibutu, all in Tawi-Tawi.

"In addition, the DSWD is working with the wife of Raja Muda Agbimmudin Kiram to help identify families whose husbands or sons are in Lahad Datu so that food and other assistance can be provided," she said.

Most Corrupt Gloria Arroyo

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur (2nd District) Rep. Diosdado Ignacio Arroyo, were charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman Tuesday.

The charge was in connection with two aborted infrastructure projects in Camarines Sur province allegedly costing P676 million.

The former president is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for a separate plunder case in connection with alleged misuse of P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office confidential/intelligence funds during her incumbency.

She is seeking re-election as representative of the second district of Pampanga during the May 13, 2013 elections.

In a 17-page complaint, lawyers Robert Guevarra and Renecio Espiritu, Jr. accused Mrs. Arroyo of using public funds to boost her son's congressional candidacy in the second district of Camarines Sur during the May 10, 2010 elections.

The complaint said: "The shameless and unconscionable use of the people's money was done in order to create for then presidential son, Dato Arroyo, a political bailiwick in the province of Camarines Sur.

"Respondents, by their deliberate, brazen and wanton act, treated public funds as if it were private bank accounts to be dispensed as their royalesque caprice and frivolity see fit."

The complainants argued Mrs. Arroyo allotted millions of pesos for dam, irrigation and bridge projects in Camarines Sur as a "birthday gift" to her son in 2008, who ran and later won as congressman in the second district of Camarines Sur in 2010.

"These projects were rushed in time for respondent Dato Arroyo's re-election bid in 2010... Billions of pesos were spent and wasted as these projects turned out to be economically unviable and damaging to the lives of the residents and the ecosystem found in the affected communities," the complaint said.

The complainants cited the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project, which they claimed was "rushed with neither consultation with the affected communities nor adequate study about its adverse effects."

They also cited a study from the Ateneo de Naga University's Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research that said the construction of the dam "is not justified" since it may displace residents from Lupi and Sipocot towns, both in Camarines Sur.

The same study also said the dam may "destroy irreplaceable ecosystems and livelihoods" in Lupi and Sipocot towns.

The complainants also argued the dam project was suspended by the National Irrigation Administration "due to its social unacceptability."

They used as basis of their complaint the Skybridge Project linking four areas in Camarines Sur, which supposedly remains incomplete up to this day because the bridges "would have to be constructed on a very soft ground."

Safety of the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Tuesday that President Benigno Aquino III has already asked Malaysian Prime Minister Najib for the safety of the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, in the wake of escalating armed conflict between Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram's followers and the Malaysian police security and armed forces.

The Malaysian government launched Tuesday air strikes on Kiram's group as security forces sought to end the three-week standoff.

Earlier reports quoted Prime Minister Najib Razak as saying that the Malaysian government had no choice but to quell militant invaders in Sabah.

What the Philippine government is concerned now, Lacierda said, is the safety of the 800,000 Filipinos residing in Sabah.

"The government is concerned for the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, and also for those men and women and children that the men who joined Lahad Datu -- the men who (were) left behind here in Basulta, in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi," he said.

"That's the reason why also (Foreign Affairs) Usec. (Jose) Brillantes and the Ambassador to Malaysia Ed Malaya (were) on the ground in Sabah to make sure that the 800,000 Filipinos will not be affected," he said.

Malacanang said the Philippine government had done everything possible for a peaceful resolution in the Sabah standoff.

"For the past three weeks, we have done everything possible from sending emissaries, asking them (armed followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III) to come back and we will talk, and all these pleas fell on deaf ears. Hindi po nagkulang ang pamahalaang Aquino tungkol sa pagprotekta sa kanila," Lacierda explained in a press briefing.

"We have done everything possible, and we continue to do everything possible to peacefully end this standoff.

Unfortunately, the position taken by the Kiram family is a position that leads down to violence," he said.

"The longer this invasion lasts, it is clear to the authorities that the invaders do not intend to leave Sabah," said Najib.

"The government must take action to safeguard the dignity and sovereignty of the country as required by the people," he added.

As this developed, Lacierda said the fate of the estimated 180 Filipinos in Lahad Datu is now in the hands of the Sultanate of Sulu who continue to make a defiant stand.

"The fate of the 180 people in Lahad Datu lies with those who continue to make a defiant stand. Our position has not changed since Saturday morning, and so it is with the Raja Muda Kiram and those followers in Lahad Datu," he said.

Economic gains from election spending

Former national treasurer Prof. Leonor Briones warned against uneven spread of economic gains from election spending.

She noted this activity is a boon to services but hardly benefits the Philippine agricultural sector where poverty is most rife.

"The agricultural sector is therefore just like a spectator amidst the election flurry," she said at State-run PTV 4's 'Hatol ng Bayan' program for the 2013 mid-term polls.

Briones linked the imbalance to mismatch in agricultural workers' skills and election-related labor demands which farmers and fisher folk are generally unable to meet.

"Many of them don't possess the skills required for poll-related work," she said.

Among target activities of election-fueled manpower mobilization are production and distribution of campaign paraphernalia, transaction with financial and other institutions, provision of transportation and accommodation as well as promotion of candidates through traditional and new media.

A sample selected statement of poll-related expenditures National Economic Development Authority-affiliated researchers sourced from Commission on Elections and presented in 2010 show media-related expenses accounted for some 71.26 percent and 73.29 percent of campaign expenditures incurred by presidential and senatorial candidates in 2004, respectively.

"Based on distribution of election expenditures, government services has the highest spending (27.4 percent) followed by manufacturing of election materials (26.6 percent)," the researchers also noted.

They said: "Advertising, to include radio, TV and recreational and cultural activities has an estimated combined share of 22.3 percent while labor recruitment and provision of personnel has a total share of 10.4 percent.

Aggregating, expenditures in the three main production sectors of the economy, services sector accounts for about 73.4 percent and the rest go to industry specifically manufacturing (26.6 percent)."

Briones said: "Campaign-related activities usually commence before elections as candidates and government prepare to woo voters."

The Dept. of Agriculture earlier reported Philippine agriculture expanded by nearly three percent in 2012, fueled by the 3.60 percent combined growth in the crops, livestock and poultry sub-sectors.

"At current prices, value of agricultural production amounted to PhP1.4 trillion, higher by 1.17 percent from the 2011 level," DA also said.

DA likewise reported agriculture accounted for 11 percent of Philippine GDP in 2011 when the country's economy grew nearly four percent.

Latest available data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, released last year, demonstrate poverty's grip on the agricultural sector, however.

The data show 2009 poverty incidence in the country's nine basic sectors was highest among farmers (36.7 percent) and fisher folk (41.4 percent).

Such rates even exceed the 26.5 percent poverty incidence NSCB reported for the entire Philippine population that year.

"Agriculture is the country's biggest sector but has the bulk of poor people nationwide," Briones noted.

NSCB data likewise show poverty incidence was highest among farmers and fisherfolk in 2006 and 2003.

For both reference years, NSCB reported corresponding incidence rates of 37.2 percent and 37 percent among farmers.

March 8 a special non-working day in Compostela Valley

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared March 8 a special non-working day in Compostela Valley in celebration of its 15th Foundation Day.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration to give the people of Compostela Valley the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occassion.

The province, called Comval for short, used to be part of Davao del Norte until it was made independent in 1998 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8470.

The law was subsequently ratified through a plebiscite conducted in the 22 municipalities of the province

Team Patay, Team Buhay

The Supreme Court Tuesday stopped the Commission on Elections' order for the removal of the "Team Patay, Team Buhay" tarpaulin at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City.

In a text message, SC Public Information Office Chief Atty. Theodore Te said during Tuesday's en banc session, the SC issued a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the Comelec's order.

The SC also directed the Comelec to file its comment within 10 days on the petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for injunction and TRO filed by Bacolod City Bishop Vicente Navarra.

The SC set the oral arguments on the case on March 19, 2013 at 2 p.m.

The tarpaulin lists down the names of senatorial candidates in the May 13, 2013 elections that the Bacolod City Diocese said should not get the public's votes because they favored the Reproductive Health Law.

The senatorial candidates tagged as members of "Team Patay" are Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Francis "Chiz" Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casiño and Jack Enrile.

Party-list groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis are also on the "Team Patay" list.

Those in the "Team Buhay" list are senatorial candidates Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Cynthia Villar for opposing the RH Law.

In their petition, the Bacolod City Diocese said the Comelec order is unconstitutional since the tarpaulin merely represents the Church's exercise of freedom of expression.

Sultan of Sulu

The governors of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) appealed Monday to the Sultan of Sulu and the Malaysian government to resolve the Sabah crisis in a more peaceful and honorable manner.

"We are appealing to our Sultan, Sultan Jamalul (Kiram) and (the) government of Malaysia if they could resolve this crisis into a more peaceful and honorable manner," Sulu Gov. Hadji Abdusakur Tan told a press conference at the Gateway in Cubao, Quezon City.

Tan admitted the ARMM governors received text messages from Malacanang, asking them to assist in resolving the Sabah situation which worsened last Friday when a firefight between Kiram's supporters and the Malaysian army broke out.

"They (are) asking for our help because the President (Aquino) knows that we know the culture of our countrymen in Sabah," Tan said.

The Sulu governor expressed concern that if the Filipinos living in Sabah will return in Sulu and other part of ARMM would bring problem.

"If our countrymen will return, it would create big problem. That's why we are appealing to our Sultan to consider the problem the crisis would bring in Mindanao. We have no food and shelter to provide for them if they will return," Tan said.

Tan said he was able to talk with Kiram's brother Sultan Esmael but refused to reveal the full details of their conversation.

Tawi-Tawi Gov. Hadji Saadikul Sahali said the tension in Sabah has resulted in the increase of the prices of commodities in the ARMM.

"There is already increase in the value of food stock. Commodities becoming very high unlike before the standoff," Sahali said.

Sahali said he has already alerted the Tawi-tawi municipal mayors for the return of the Filipinos from Sabah.

Maguindanao Gov. Hadji Esmael Mangundadatu believed the Philippine government will be able to resolve the Sabah crisis in a peaceful manner.

Sabah Conspiracy

President Benigno Aquino III Monday said cases are being readied against those behind the standoff in Sabah even as he warned them that they will not succeed.

"We are aware that there are those who conspired to bring us to this situation. Some of their identities are clear to us, while others continue to sulk in the shadows," the President said in a statement aired over People's Television 4 and government radio station Radyo ng Bayan.

"Meron tayong mga intelligence reports, meron ding mga taong masasabi nating 'persons of interest'. Pero 'yung intel report does not necessarily provide you with the evidence that is necessary for our courts," he said.

As such, the President said that cases are being built up against these conspirators.

"Ipagdiinan lang po natin, may sakit si Sultan Jamalul Kiram; kailangan niyang mag-dialysis. 'Yung dialysis tinutulungan siya ng PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office). So, even in terms of attending to his own health, 'yung he needs assistance. I am told that renting a sufficiently large boat, to go to Sabah costs about P100,000. And there were two boats, at least, and one speedboat that was used by these group. So funds and then the food -- money siguro that were left behind. 'Yung mga seemingly concerted criticisms all point to a conspiracy," he said.

"To the people who are behind this, even now, I tell you: you will not succeed. All those who have wronged our country will be held accountable," he stressed.

President Aquino stressed that there is a provision in the Constitution that prohibits the formation of private armed groups.

"They (armed followers of Sulu Sultan Kiram) are, obviously, by any definition are armed group. They call themselves a particular claim. And meron daw yatang connivance allegedly by certain members of the past administration in the formation on this, which is a violation of the Constitution and various other laws of the land," he said.

The President said there is also a provision in the Revised Penal Code that cites inciting to war.

"When you have an armed group that goes into an area administered by a different nation, can that not be considered an act of war by some of our citizens? And the Revised Penal Code has specific law that penalizes people who incite others to war," he noted.

President Aquino said he already tasked the Dept. of Justice to investigate the matter.

"My call to the family of Sultan Jamalul Kiram has not changed: it is not reasonable to ask for understanding, if your weapons are pointed at the faces of those you are speaking with. We will be able to put an end to this trouble, if the people involved in it become reasonable, especially those who see themselves as true leaders," he stressed.

Sabah Issue Reaction

Sen. Francis Escudero Monday said the Sabah claim should not be used by his fellow candidates in the campaign for the May 13 mid-term elections.

"I would disagree to use it as an election issue both in the local or national campaign because it's a matter of foreign policy," Escudero said in the weekly Kapihan sa Diamond media forum.

Escudero, a re-electionist under Team PNoy, expressed fear that "it may result in war between two countries that's why any candidate should not intervene in whatever political reason on this issue."

He said he is supporting the position of President Benigno Aquino III when the Chief Executive urged the Sultan of Sulu followers to withdraw and discuss the Sabah claim in a legal and peaceful manner.

"So far, I agree with what the President did. He has no choice. He cannot support the way the Sultan of Sulu is using. They are armed," Escudero said.

Escudero said the position of President Aquino is supported by the international community.

"The position of the President on the issue has been recognized and supported by the international community. We cannot tolerate this mode trying to attract attention on a particular issue through armed struggle," Escudero said.

He explained that supporting armed struggle would worsen the situation of the Filipinos especially the more than 8,000 undocumented living in Sabah.

27th founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group

President Benigno S. Aquino III led the awarding ceremonies marking the 27th founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group at its headquarters in Malacañang Park, Manila on Monday.

Joining the President were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, PSG Commander Brigadier General Ramon Mateo Dizon, and other national and local government officials led by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Upon his arrival at the PSG Grandstand, President Aquino was accorded military honors by PSG troops.

The President led the presentation of plaques of recognition to the PSG personnel awardees for 2012 as well as citations to public and private individuals for their unwavering support and assistance to the PSG.

The Best PSG Personnel for 2012 are: Major Ian Noel P. Ignes, Organic Officer of the Year (Field Grade Category); Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) John C. Lobaton, Organic Officer of the Year (Company Grade Category);Lieutenant Colonel Ray Claudio R. Abaya, Operational Control (OPCON) Officer of the Year (Field Grade Category); Lieutenant Crisanto A. Anas, OPCON Officer of the Year (Company Grade Category): Master Sergeant Jonard M. Delima, Organic Enlisted Personnel of the Year (Senior NCO Category);

Staff Sergeant Ricky J. Gonzales, Organic Enlisted Personnel of the Year (Junior NCO Category); Technical Sergeant Roland G. Macalma, OPCON Officer of the Year (Senior NCO Category), Sgt. Michael C. Cabanes, OPCON Enlisted Personnel of the Year (Junior (NCO Category) and Registered Nurse Myra G. Rocio, Civilian Employee of the Year.

The PSG also presented the Plaque of Recognition to Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Phividec Industrial Authority Administrator Leo Magno, Development Academy of the Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Antonio D. Kalaw Jr. Tanduay Distillers Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Wilson Young and Sonny Guevarra, of the Alcatel Philippines.

To signify their profound thanks to President Aquino, the PSG presented to the Chief Executive a memento which symbolizes the PSG's commitment to protect the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

After the ceremonies, the Chief Executive inspected the PSG War Room and C2 Situation Room.

The PSG traces its roots to March 1897 when it was created to protect General Emilio Aguinaldo, then President of the revolutionary government.

Since then, it has gone through several name changes under succeeding Presidents such as: Malacañang Guards (President Quezon), Presidential Guards (President Osmeña), Malacañang Secret Agents (President Quirino), Presidential Security Force (President Garcia), and Presidential Security Agency (President Diosdado Macapagal).