Sunday, 31 January 2010

PIA Dispatch - Monday, February 1, 2010

Agusan del Norte towns receive AECID health, education assistance

CABADBARAN CITY, Agusan del Norte (January 31) – Several towns in Agusan del Norte province received health and education projects from the Spanish aid agency Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional pare el Desarollo (AECID).

Beneficiary towns are Nasipit, Remedios T. Romualdez, Magallanes, Tubay, Buenavista and the City of Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte.

These towns received shelter, school buildings, health facilities and foods.

The different projects are being implemented by Fundacion Humanismo Y Democracia (H+D) and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in partnership with the parents, teachers association (PTA), health authorities and local government unit in the place where they are being implemented.

To this end, the AECID just last week delivered equipments to Carmen Rural Health Unit to be used by personnel in serving poor families in Carmen town, Agusan del Norte.

The AECID assistance seeks to improve access to maternal and child healthcare (MCH) services which is one of the problems affecting families in the province.

Carmen Mayor Ramon Calo expressed elation with the assorted equipment provided to them.

"We will compliment the generosity of AECID and the Spanish people. We will ensure that budget for health is included in our priorities," stressed Mayor Calo.

The medical equipment includes emergency lights, sterilizer, adjustable beds with bed sheets, assorted forceps, BP apparatuses, gooseneck lamps, I.V. stand, suction machines, surgical scissors, wheelchairs, flashlights, weighing scales, thermometers, boxes of disposable syringes and needles and bassinet newborn carriers, among others.

Also included in the assistance package in upgrading of RHUs are training and mobilization of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), construction of lying-in clinics among others.

The health initiative in Carmen is only part of a bigger undertaking by AECID to assist children and families gain access to basic services.

Parallel to the health-related project, the Spanish aid agency is also engaged in education-focused project for school children in Agusan del Norte.

Carmen town is a fourth class municipality with most of its basic services for the people being funded by the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the national government. (PNA)

First mental health facility to rise in Caraga region

SURIGAO CITY (January 31) - The region’s first mental health facility will soon rise in Caraga region’s nickel city of Surigao.

The formal ground breaking of the site for the construction of the building was held over the weekend right behind the Surigao City Health Office.

It was attended by top local government health officials led by Surigao City Mayor Alfonso S. Casurra and City Councilors Peñaflor Laxa and Floripen Tating, region’s health Asst. Regional Director Dr. Cesar Cassion and Program Manager on Drug Abuse Dr. Flordeliz Llesis and City Health Officer Dr. Aldine Morales.

During the ground breaking program, Mayor Casurra emphasized that the center will initially serve as a half-way house for the temporary accommodation and treatment of said patients.

"Let us help these people today because tomorrow will be too late. They are also human beings who need care and attention,” he said.

Meanwhile, the local government of Surigao City is also set to construct a school building in a new site of Cantiasay National High School also of that same city.

The new school building is targeted to be completed by the end of June this year.

Casurra wanted students to have a more conducive place for learning.

At present, the high school students are temporarily sharing an area with the elementary pupils. (PNA)

RP, MILF to resume talks on Feb. 18

Negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will resume in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 18.

This was disclosed today by Annabel Abaya, chairman of the government panel negotiating peace with the MILF, with Malaysia acting as peace broker.

"Both camps just exchanged our respective expectations and we will continue discussing based on what both camps can offer," Abaya explained. "We decided to resume in two weeks after MILF shall have consulted with their principals and stakeholders."

On the comment of Mohager Iqbal, head of the MILF peace panel that government did not offer anything new, Abaya said the comment may have been made "because there has yet been no substantive discussions that have taken place."

Abaya added that, "for as long as both parties are willing to talk, then there is reason to continue the negotiations." (OP)

De Lima to police: Arrest fugitives to stop clan wars in Agusan del Sur

BUTUAN CITY (January 30)  – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday said the fugitives from justice, who are still roaming around the remote villages in a town of Agusan del Sur province, must be “arrested and disarmed at all cost” so that peace will reign in some highland villages in Prosperidad town.

CHR panel, led by chairperson Leila De Lima, said that law enforcement agencies, particularly the police must serve warrants of arrests to the Joel Tubay group to stop the tribal war between the two Manobo clans in the area.

“The law enforcement agencies must do their job now. Hintayin pa ba natin na maging maulit ang Maguindanao incident dito?” asked De Lima.

Another member of the panel, CHR Mindanao focal person lawyer Jose Manuel Mamaoag , also made the same statement during the conclusion of the two day public inquiry at downtown hotel and convention center here on extra-legal killings of at least 18 persons.

In the two day marathon hearing, the CHR found that the string of extrajudicial killings that happened last year in Mahulayan area at Barangay La Purisima, in Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur province victimized mostly indigenous people (IP’s) and related it to the rivalries between two warring clans of Manobo tribe- the Tubay group and Ondo Perez group.

The alleged series of killings last year of the family members of Ondo Perez made the latter and his group to abduct 57 civilians on Dec. 10 last year due to alleged unfair treatment on their case. However, the hostages were released unharmed as a result of negotiations made by the provincial crisis committee.

But due to the standing warrant of arrest for murder hurled by the Tubay group last year, Perez was jailed after his surrender, despite of the promise made by the crisis committee that he would not be jailed but only tried by the natives’ customary tradition under the IPRA Law.

“The residents, especially lumads in the area are now living in fear on the alleged presence of armed groups who have also standing warrants of arrest. They must be arrested and must be disarmed,” said De Lima.

At least 1,000 Manobos’ are currently residing in La Purisima.

“Arrest and disarm the remaining armed group in the area” De Lima said.

She urged top police and military commanders in the area who were present during the two marathon inquiry to disarm and arrest the remaining armed group in villages of Prosperidad and nearby areas.

Top provincial officials in the province of Agusan del Sur, led by Vice-Governor Santiago B. Cane, representing Gov. Maria Valentina Plaza, government prosecutors and lawyers, concerned government agencies and media were also present during the public inquiry.

The CHR panel was saddened by the absence of the officials of the National Communities on Indigenous People (NCIP) under Director Atty. Jose Dumagan despite being summoned for their presence during the inquiry.

“NCIP chose to ignore IP’s problem causing their conflict,” added De Lima.

“We are certain that the string of killings and abduction last Dec. 10 was only a strand in a greater scheme of impunity, criminality and violence gripping Agusan del Sur. We will continue gathering facts,” she further said. (PNA)

Provincial gov't to look into operations of mining areas in Agusan del Sur

BUTUAN CITY (January 30)  –- The legislative body of Agusan del Sur has assured the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that it will look into the permits of small-scale mining operators in the 200,000-hectare mining areas in the landlocked province.

Vice Gov. Santiago B. Cane, chair of the provincial legislative body, said on Friday he will specifically look into the mining operations at Manhulayan area in Barangay La Purisima, Prosperidad town where many small-scale mining operations are being reported.

Cane made the assurance after learning that Mahulayan area is where several killings were reported last year between Manobo clans and other groups, mostly indigenous people (IPs).

This development came out during the last day of the two-day public inquiry of the CHR on the root causes of alleged killings and hostage-taking last Dec. 10, 2009, where 57 civilians were victims in La Purisima. The hostages were released unharmed after negotiation with Ondo Perez, the alleged leader of the hostage-takers. However, the Perez group members, some of them minors, were put in jail in Agusan del Sur jail after their surrender.

In the CHR inquiry, it also came out that the two warring Manobo clans –- Perez group and Joel Tubay group (still at large) -- are both armed with high-powered firearms and have existing warrants of arrests due to their alleged tribal war.

Aside from ancestral land problem, gold mining operations also surfaced as one of the root causes of the breakdown of the peace and order in the area.

It also came out that illegal logging operation also exists in that same area.

“The provincial board will look into these mining permits of operators,” Cane said before the panel of CHR led by CHR Chairperson Leila De Lima and other government lawyers and representatives from various concerned government agencies, military and police commanders.

Cane also assured that the provincial board will help the CHR to investigate and look into the mining permits of the small-scale mining operations.

During the same inquiry, Col. Emiliano Gupana, commanding officer of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, also confirmed the involvement in the mining operations of some natives in Manhulayan.

Gupana also confirmed that some members of the groups of Perez and Tubay were formerly affiliated with the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) assigned in the area but already disbanded in 2008. (PNA)

Caraga Region needs 2,145 PCOS machines for May 2010 polls

BUTUAN CITY (January 30)  - The Caraga or Northeastern Mindanao Region comprising five provinces and six cities needs a total of 2,145 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the May 10, 2010 automated national and local elections, it was learned Saturday.

Composing the region are the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands and the cities of Butuan, Bislig, Surigao, Tandag, Bayugan and Cabadbaran.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional office said the 2,145 voting machines will be distributed to the clustered precincts in 1,310 barangays throughout Northeastern Mindanao.

The Comelec-Caraga said the number of registered voters for the 2010 elections in Northeastern Mindanao has reached 1,378,132 to date, reflecting an increase of 11.29 percent from the 1,238,327 registered voters in 2007. (PNA)

Lakas-Kampi-CMD leader slain in Surigao del Norte

CAMP RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City, Feb. 1 - A local leader of the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD was gunned down Monday morning by unidentified gunmen at Sitio Binggale, Barangay Banban, Taganaan, Surigao del Norte, according to a sketchy report reaching the police regional command and tactical operations center here.

The report to Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, regional director of the Police Regional Office 13, identified the victim as Oscar Cayumo Anino, 55, a former Army soldier and a miner in Taganaan town.

Initial investigation showed that Anino was riding his single motorcycle toward Taganaan Proper at 9 a.m. when he was shot at close range by the suspects in Sitio Binggale.

In a telephone interview with the Philippine News Agency, Surigao del Norte 1st District Rep. Francisco T. Matugas stated that the victim was a local leader of Rep. Guillermo “Jun” Romarate (2nd District, Surigao del Norte).

“Isa siya (Anino) sa aming political leader sa bayan na iyan (He was one of our local leaders in that town),” Matugas said, adding that the killing of Anino could be linked to the May 10, 2010 national and local elections in Taganaan town.

Romarate could not be contacted for comment regarding the killing of Anino.

Field reports stated that the gunmen immediately fled after the incident.

Upon receipt of the report, Calingasan deployed police investigating team and scene of the crime operatives to thoroughly investigate the killing of Anino.

He also ordered the deployment of regional and provincial mobile force and Taganaan police force to conduct a region-wide manhunt against the suspects. (PNA)

PIA Dispatch - Friday, January 29, 2010

2009 GDP growth within target

Fuelled by government spending and Christmas retail sales, the Philippine economy grew by 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, pushing the full-year growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), or the sum of goods and services produced in the country, to 0.9 percent.

This was within government’s target range of between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent but lower than the previous year’s growth of 3.8 percent.

“The positive GDP growth is a clear indication that the country has already survived the worst effects of the global economic crunch,” Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said in a press briefing today after the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released this morning its latest economic data. 

The Philippines is one of only a few Asian countries that escaped recession last year.

If remittances are factored in, the country grew by three percent last year compared to the previous year’s 6.2 percent. 

This year, the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) projects GDP growth of between 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent. 

Olivar said another 0.5 percent may be added to this year’s GDP due to the massive rehabilitation of Luzon as a result of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year.

Earlier, the World Bank revised its GDP forecast of the Philippines from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent. (OPS)

Number of registered voters in Caraga Region jump 11.29% to 1.38M

BUTUAN CITY  - The number of registered voters for the 2010 elections in Caraga Region or Region 13 reached 1,378,132, up 11.29 percent from the 1,238,327 registered in 2007 local and national elections, latest records from the Joint Security Control Center (JSCC) show.

The Joint Security Control Center (JSCC) is a body overseeing security matters for honesty, orderly and peaceful elections which is composed of the COMELEC, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Agusan del Sur topped the four other provinces composing Caraga region, with 325,642 registered voters, up 17.20 percent from 277,840 in 2007 elections.

Surigao del Sur followed with 335,492, up 10.97 percent from 302,323; Surigao del Norte with 288,653, or 10.28 percent higher than 261,736 in 2007 elections; Agusan del Norte with 357,992, or 8.12 percent from 330,996; and Dinagat Islands province with 70,353, up 7.42 percent to 65,492.

The total number of PCOS machines allocated for the five provinces of the region is 2,145 units.

PCOS machine allocations are to be distributed to 2,135 total clustered polling precints in a total of 1,310 barangays of the region.

Caraga Region has an average of 78 percent turnout of voters in 2001, 2004 and 2007 local and national elections, including the 2008 nationwide barangay election. (Ben Serrano, PNA)


Palace urges public to support COMELEC poll automation

The Palace today brushed off fears that the computers and peripherals purchased by the Commission on Election (COMELEC) will not work, resulting in the failure of the May 2010 elections.

In a media briefing, Undersecretary Gary Olivar said there is no reason to be alarmed over the reported failure of the subscriber identification module (SIM) to send signal to the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines during a field test conducted by the COMELEC recently. 

He said the government is confident that the COMELEC information technology experts can address the problem at the soonest possible time. 

Nonetheless, he called on IT experts in the private sector to help the COMELEC iron out the kinks.

“Let’s help them solve the problem,” Olivar said, adding the agency is to be praised for opening the test to the public. 

Meanwhile, Olivar said, the Palace is happy over the poll body’s dismissal of the last disqualification case against filed by the opposition against the President. 

He expressed confidence that the Supreme Court would sustain the COMELEC if the case went up that far. 

In a promulgation Thursday, the COMELEC second division ruled that there is no constitutional provision barring President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from running in the May polls. (PNA)

Thursday, 28 January 2010

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, January 28, 2010

CHR to probe 18 extralegal killings in Agusan del Sur

BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 28 - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) started its two-day public inquiry Thursday at the downtown hotel and convention center here, on the alleged 18 extrajudicial killings which victimized mostly indigenous people (IP) in the landlocked province of Agusan del Sur.

The string of extrajudicial killings appear to be related to the simmering rivalries between warring local clans.

Summoned thereto were the complainants and witnesses in various extralegal killings being investigated by CHR-Caraga region, including the killing of the Manobo chieftain and relatives of the Ondo Perez clan.

Also invited were provincial officials of Agusan del Sur led by Governor Maria Valentina Plaza, Caraga regional officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), barangays officials, and military and police officers having jurisdiction over the areas where the killings occurred.

Explaining the rationale for the public inquiry, CHR Chairperson Leila De Lima said “After further follow up investigations in the wake of the Dec. 10, 2009 incident allegedly perpetrated by the Ondo Perez group, we are certain that the abduction was only a strand in a greater scheme of impunity, criminality and violence gripping Agusan del Sur.”

Reports from the informants and from the CHR regional office in CARAGA show that the Ondo Perez Group is not the only group operating in the province and perpetrating the crimes.

De Lima remarked, “The killings in Agusan are related to warring tribal groups or factions. It certainly does not help the situation when the military and police appear to be pitting one indigenous peoples faction against the other.”

It can be recalled that members of the Ondo Perez group lamented that their rivals were not being pursued for criminal activities, and only their group was the subject of the police manhunt that ended with the abduction of at least 57 civilians including children last month.

“This is a crucial detail in uncovering the true circumstances of peace and order in Agusan del Sur, particularly on the conduct of law enforcement,” added De Lima.

“Not only does it bode unfavorably for the police and military, but it corroborates long-held suspicions that clan-related violence is sanctioned by law enforcement agencies. There is this suspicion that they are pitting armed group against each other. For what purpose, we are not sure,” she further added.

“But we do know that it perpetuates the string of killings in Agusan Del Sur,” De Lima said.

From the records of the CHR-Caraga regional office, there are at least 18 extrajudicial killings that are almost certainly related to the clan wars in Agusan del Sur.

De Lima said, “These killings are definitely part of the puzzle and that is why we are not narrowing the investigation into the abduction incident or even the Ondo Perez faction. There are more personalities involved, more human rights violations occurring in Agusan del Sur and therefore, a more complex problem for peace and security in the province requiring a comprehensive solution. Finding a complete and thoughtful solution is the purpose of this inquiry, and we must begin with culling all the information that is available.”

De Lima and Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag, the focal Commissioner for Caraga, will lead the inquiry, assisted by CHR Caraga Atty. Marylin Pintor. (PNA)

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Informing the public on administration's programs a duty of gov't agencies - Limcaoco

MANILA, Jan. 27 - The head of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) believes that informing the public about the administration’s programs and projects is a duty of government offices.

Secretary Conrado A. Limcaoco Jr. stressed this in a radio interview as he earlier encouraged other government agencies to set a portion of their budgets to help disseminate to the people the gains in various fronts achieved by the Arroyo administration for the last nine years.

The PIA recently placed newspaper advertisements on the administration’s achievements, and intends to put out more.

Limcaoco, also the officer-in-charge of the Office of the Press Secretary, said there is sometimes a need for an attractive means to communicate such accomplishments.

However, he pointed out that not all costs of billboards and tarpaulins carrying government programs and projects are borne by state agencies. (PNA)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

P1-B road construction project set for release in twin Agusan provinces

BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 26 - The government is set to release the P1-billion fund for the fast-tracking of ground works of the Butuan City and Agusan del Sur road project, a public works and highways official said Tuesday.

This fund is part of the P1.73-billion Philippine-Japan Highway Loan-Project Management Office (PJHL-PMO) of Butuan City-Las Nieves-Esperanza-Bayugan City Road project under the Philippine-Japan Highway Loan-Project Management Office.

This road project will serve as a link between Butuan City, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur in Northeastern Mindanao (Region Xlll) and ultimately connect to the agricultural-rich province of Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao  (Region 10).

This multi-year 2009-2010 project is one of the mega-billion projects of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) promised in Northeastern Mindanao.

Last year, the government initially released P500 million for the immediate start of the ground works of the 61-kilometer Rural Road Network Development Project-III (RRNDP) of Butuan City-Las Nieves-Esperanza-Bayugan City road project.

This mega-billion project was started on March last year and is expected to be completed on June 2011, said Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Romeo S. Momo.

He said the project involves the construction and improvement of road pavement, drainage and slope protection. It also involves improvement and upgrading of road shoulders and construction of four bridges.

“This is a big plus factor to the economic activity of the two regions once completed,” added Momo.

Meanwhile, Region XIII Regional Director Dr. Evelyn T. Barroso told Momo that the damaged portion caused by landslide in the Bacuag-Claver road section in Surigao del Norte is already passable by all type of vehicles after the ground engineers of the Surigao del Norte 1st District Engineering Office led by District Engineer Linda Uypala made the round-the-clock supervision to the Pancho Construction’s immediate repair.

The pockets of landslide in the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road  happened during the weeklong torrential rains in the region early this month.

“Despite of this situation, the 4.81 kilometers access road via Veruela in Agusan del Sur is already completed ahead of schedule,” Barroso added.

The access road was constructed to pave way the commencement of the ground works of the P263.33-million Ihawan Bridge in Veruela town.

Ihawan Bridge project is part of the Urgent Bridges Construction Project for Rural Development Contract Package lV of the DPWH Caraga, Barroso further said. (PNA/PIA-Caraga)

Monday, 25 January 2010

PIA Dispatch - Monday, January 25, 2010

112 farmers receive stewardship certificates in Agusan del Norte

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte  - At least 112 farmers received the government’s stewardship certificates in three towns of Agusan del Norte province.

Under the first co-management sub-agreement awarding ceremony, the jubilant farmer beneficiaries, along with their respective immediate families, received such certificates at JP Satorre Gym in Buenavista town.

The beneficiaries came from the municipalities of Las Nieves, Buenavista and Carmen (LASBUENASCAR)-Sustainable Agro-Forestry Development Project (LSAFDP).

The realization of the awarding of stewardship certificates to farmers came out after the DENR and the provincial government of Agusan del Norte represented by Gov. Erlpe John Amante recently inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to help the farmers in the province, particularly those in far-flung areas.

In that awarding ceremony, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Rosendo A. Asunto expressed heartfelt gratitude to the farmers for their continuing support to the government’s environment preservation and forest protection program.

For his part, LSAFDP manager Alex Garay commended the technical working group of the concerned government agencies for their fulfillment of the farmers’ dream to have their own “management agreement awards”.

Also present during the awarding on Wednesday were Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Constancio Maghanoy, Buenavista Mayor Francisco Y. Chan, Jr., Vice Mayor Ramon Bungabong, Agusan del Norte Provincial Administrator Percianita Racho, barangay officials and tribal leaders.

Last year, the Butuan City-Agusan del Norte DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) under CENR officer Jaime Acebu also awarded 700 land titles to landless people under the government’s poverty alleviation program “Handog Titulo”. (PNA/PIA-Caraga)

3,000 cops mobilized as PRO 13 takes a close watch on 42 towns in Caraga region

CAMP RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City - At least 3,000 maneuvering and territorial police forces were mobilized as the Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) closely watches over 42 towns under Category 1 and Category 2 in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga region), police official said Sunday.

These areas have also been involved in some election-related incidents in the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Category 1 means the area has an intense political rivalry while Category 2 means the area has the presence of the terror groups like communist-New People’s Army and crime group, said PRO 13 chief of operation and plans division Senior Supt. Nestor M. Fajura.

“We are still evaluating and validating some areas,” he said.

Based on the directive of Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, regional director of PRO 13, Senior Supt. Fajura said at least 3,000 maneuver and territorial forces were already mobilized to ensure the May 2010 national and local polls peaceful and orderly.

He said additional new patrol cars are also set to be deployed on Monday in various police stations in the region. Last week, PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa also personally released here 15 patrol cars to strengthen the forces in the Caraga region.

The deployment of more cars is part of the P10 billion five-year modernization program of the PNP nationwide, he said.

In the campaign against loose firearms since December last year, at least 166 weapons were already confiscated, recovered and surrendered while four persons were arrested for violation of the election gun ban regionwide, added Fajura. (PNA/PIA-Caraga)

Public warned on landslides, floods due to continuous rains in 2 regions in Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 25 - The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday called on the public to be vigilant as possible occurrence of landslides and flash floods due to continuous torrential rains in several areas in Northeastern and Southern Mindanao  regions.

The DENR and OCD also urged the public, particularly those living in landslide and flood prone areas to be “alert” at all times and if possible immediately evacuate to avert any casualty.

For almost two weeks now, some municipalities in the Caraga region, particularly in the four towns of Agusan del Sur suffered severe flooding affecting 52,746 individuals and caused damage to infrastructure and agricultural crops to millions of pesos. Several houses were also reported damaged and three deaths were reported to date.

Northeastern Mindanao OCD Regional Director Blanche T. Gobenciong said that at least 291 barangays in the Caraga region are identified as flood prone areas while 183 barangays are potential of landslide.

Director Gobenciong reiterated on Monday her warnings to various disaster councils in the flood and landslide prone areas to be on “alert.”

Also due to the continuous rain in Southern Mindanao (Region-XI) also, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director (RED) Jim O. Sampulna on Monday also called on all the local government units (LGUs) and the general public in the region to be vigilant as possible landslides or even flashfloods may hit their respective areas.

RED Sampulna said that since 2007 the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR had already recommended to LGUs that appropriate warning signages be installed in landslide areas, especially in areas close to settlements and in affected major roads to keep the general public on guard in the event that landslide will occur or recur.

“Those who are in the different mining areas in the Region should also be observant and vigilant this time because continuous rain will loosen the soil and may result to unexpected landslide which can damage lives and properties”, said RED Sampulna.

The warning of the DENR official came out after a recent geo-hazard mapping conducted by a team of experts from the MGB-XI found out that there are a total of 94 barangays in Compostela Valley (ComVal) Province and Davao Oriental which were found to be either highly susceptible or moderately susceptible to landslide.

The region’s DENR official said that based on MGB report, out of the total 183 barangays in Davao Oriental, 67 barangays are classified to be moderately to highly susceptible to landslides.

There are 43 barangays classified as landslide prone areas, 21 of which are identified to be highly susceptible to landslide while 24 barangays are identified to be moderately susceptible in ComVal province, he said.

In Davao del Sur, there are 31 barangays classified as landslide prone areas, nine of which are identified to be highly susceptible to landslide while 22 are identified to be moderately susceptible to landslide.

Recent study also disclosed that some parts of Marilog District and Matina Shrine Hills, Davao City  are either moderately or highly susceptible to landslides, added RED Sampulna.

DENR-MGB-XI had also conducted series of geohazard technical conference with the local executives in the region and they were also informed of these said findings.

The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC-XI) was also already informed about the results of the same study, further added RED Sampulna. (PNA/PIA-Caraga)

Candidates giving fees to communists under close watch of PRO 13

CAMP RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City, January 25 - The regional command of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) is closely monitoring five local candidates who allegedly paid Permit-to-Campaign (PTC) and Permit-to-Win (PTW) fees to the communist New People’s Army (NPA), a police official disclosed Monday.

Declassified police intelligence report showed NPA extortion demands rage from P10,000 to P100,000 depending on the position the candidate is running for.

“We are closely monitoring, evaluating and validating these so called PTC and PTW fees demanded by the NPAs,” said PRO 13 chief of operation and plans division Senior Supt. Nestor M. Fajura.

He also said that the initial reported five local candidates are already being closely watched and monitored.

The police official declined to name names as investigation is still going on.

Fajura said field commanders were already directed to closely watch these candidates.

He said the regional command of PRO 13 has mobilized 3,000 maneuvering and territorial forces to maintain peace and order and to protect the sanctity of the May 2010 polls.

To date, 72 out of 100 applicants for security detail were already approved by the Caraga region’s Comelec-PNP-AFP Joint Security Control Center (JSCC) here.

Meanwhile, a field Army commander said the NPA is out to demand extortion money from election candidates to cover the gaping holes of its financial problems.

“We see extortion as a desperate coping method of the NPA to survive, because of their logistical and financial problem" said regional Army spokesman Maj. Mitchele B. Anayron, Jr.

“Extortion is what’s keeping them alive, not their ideology,” he said.

PTC fee is demanded as a guarantee for candidates to carry out “hassle-free” campaigns inside areas claimed by the NPA, while PTW fee is in exchange for definite votes delivered for the candidate payee.

At least 35 candidates from Northern Mindanao (Region 10) had filed their applications requesting for security details with the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC).

The RJSCC secretariat said 25 of these candidates are incumbents while 10 are new ones who requested for the security detail of some 59 members of the PNP, four from the AFP and five from private protective agencies. (PNA/PIA-Caraga)

Sunday, 24 January 2010

PIA Dispatch - Friday, January 22, 2010

PGMA signs Climate Change implementing rules

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed today the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 9729, otherwise known as the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009.

The law was enacted to institutionalize government efforts to prepare the country for the worst effects of climate change.

On hand in the signing ceremony in Malacanang this morning were Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Heherson Alvarez and Environment Secretary Eleazar Quinto.

President Arroyo signed RA 9729 into law on Oct. 23 last year.

The first of its kind in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), RA 9729 formulates a strategy of climate change mitigation and adaptation for implementation from the national to provincial, city/town, and down to barangay level.

The law created the Climate Change Commission, headed by the President herself, the sole policy making body of the government tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans on climate change.

The IRR outlines the powers and functions of the Commission and all duties and responsibilities of all concerned agencies, including local government units (LGUs).

Among these powers and functions is the formulation of an action plan for implementation down to the barangay level, with emphasis on risk management and reduction.

The Philippines, being vulnerable to climate change, called for deep and early cuts in greenhouse gas emissions particularly, directing the appeal to highly industrialized countries during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen in December last year. (PNA)

Flood claims 3 lives, affects 52,746 persons in Agusan del Sur

PATIN-AY, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, Jan. 22 - The continuous rain that caused floods in several areas in this landlocked province, particularly those in the river towns, has now claimed three lives and victims swelled to 10,742 families or 52,746 individuals.

Damage to infrastructure and agricultural crops also rise as 35 barangays are reported submerged by flash floods.

Provincial officials, led by Gov. Maria Valentina Plaza, spearheaded the social welfare and disaster personnel along with rescue teams from the provincial, municipal disaster councils in conducting rescue and relief operations.

Latest report reaching the disaster action center here stated that La Paz  town have the highest number of persons affected with 18,534 from eight barangays. Of the number, 3,314 families and five houses were damaged in Barangay Comota, and Sabang Adgawan.

Prosperidad, the capital town of this province, also suffered severe flooding with 17,880 persons or 3,576 families from 11 affected barangays.

In nearby San Francisco town, nine barangays were affected with 3,523 families or 14,358 persons while in San Luis town seven barangays are reported submerged by flood water with 329 families or 1,974 persons also affected.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) already reported three deaths. They were identified as Lovely A. Lamery, nine; Jalyn N. Encarnacion, 11, both of Barangay Tagapua, San Francisco town; and Pedro Hilot, 34 of Barangay Sampaguita, Veruela town.

Two other persons were reported injured when their house was hit by landslide in far-flung village of this town.

To date, Prosperidad alone recorded some P2 million damages on roads and another estimated P7 million damages on agriculture while San Luis also reported some 264 hectares of rice field were damaged.

As this developed, the local disaster councils still continue monitoring the situation in close coordination with the PDCC, as moderate rainfall continue to batter the area.

Relief operations are continuing.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Caraga Regional Director Dr. Blanche T. Gobencion on her final report to Administrator Glenn J. Rabonza said that flood victims in some areas in Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte have started returning to their homes as floodwaters already subsided. (PNA/PIA-Caraga)