Thursday, 22 April 2010

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, April 22, 2010

PGMA confers Presidential Award on Child Friendly Municipalities and Cities

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo conferred on Thursday the Presidential Award on Child Friendly Municipalities and Cities in recognition of the local government units’ (LGUs) sustained promotion of children’s rights to survival, development and protection at the local level.

This year’s national winners are the New Lucena, Iloilo (4th to 6th class municipality); San Mateo, Isabela (1st to 3rd class municipality); Vigan City (component city); Naga City (independent component city); and Olongapo City (highly urbanized city).

The conferment of the annual award is pursuant to Executive Order No. 184 as part of the Philippines’ commitment as signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on November 20, 1989.

The President awarded the trophy and P300,000 cash incentives to the mayors of the winning LGUs during a simple awarding ceremony at the Malacanang Heroes’ Hall.

The President also awarded Presidential citations and P300,000 cash incentives for the Child Health Conscious LGUs to New Lucena, Iloilo (4th to 6th class municipality; Tayabas, Quezon (1st to 3rd class municipality); Tagaytay City (component city); and Naga City (independent component city).

Assisting the President during the awarding rites were Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Social Welfare Undersecretary Alicia Bala, and Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) executive director Parisya Taradji.


PGMA fetes outstanding individuals

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo conferred the Order of Lakandula and Order of Sikatuna awards on 13 distinguished individuals from the government and private sector in ceremonies held in Malacañang on Thursday afternoon.

Conferred the Order of Lakandula with Rank of Grand Cross (Bayani) were former Cabinet members Silvestre Bello III (Cabinet Secretary), Agnes Devanadera (Justice), Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. (Public Works), Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. (Presidential Management Staff);

Peter Favila (Trade), Edgardo Pamintuan (Presidential Assistant), Angelo Reyes (Energy), Augusto Syjuco (TESDA) and Arthur Yap (Agriculture).

National Scientist Fe del Mundo and Shoichiro Toyoda, Honorary Chairman of Toyota Motors Corp., were also awarded the Order of Lakandula with Rank of Grand Cross.

Rounding off the list of awardees were Francis Chua, Chairman Emeritus of the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Masaaki Furukawa, president of Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho Corporation

They were both accorded the Order of Sikatuna with Rank of Lakan and Grand Officer, respectively.

The President hosted lunch for the awardees and their families and friends.

The Order of Lakandula is one of the highest honors given by the Republic of the Philippines. It is an order of political and civic merit, awarded in memory of Lakandula’s dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage and resolve in the service of one’s people.

The Order of Sikatuna, on the other hand, is conferred upon diplomats, officials, and foreign nationals who have rendered significant services in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines.


PGMA awards Clark Freeport’s outstanding investors

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Wednesday bestowed awards on 11 outstanding investors and locators in the 2nd Clark Freeport Recognition Party.

She was introduced by Clark Development Corp. (CDC) president/chief executive officer Benigno Ricafort, who extolled the President’s support of CDC as an investment and tourist destination.

Because of the awardees, Ricafort said Clark was one of the least affected economic zones in the country last year, when the global economy slowed down.

For Overall Performance, the awardees were: Aderans Phils., L & K Industries Phils., L & T International Phils., Nanox Phils., SMK Electronics Phils., and Yokohama Tire Phils. Inc.

For Outstanding Employment Performance and Human Resource Management, the awardees were: NCO Phils. Clark Inc. (for 500 employees) and Sumidenso Automotive Technologies-A (SAT-A) for 200 employees. For Outstanding Environment and Health Management, the awardee was Poongsan Microtec Phils. The Outstanding Investment Performance went to Comclark Technologies and the Outstanding New Investor award went to Australia International Training and Management Group.

Also recognized for their role in the month-long celebration of CDC’s 17th anniversary were: 600th Air Base Wing of the Philippine Air Force, the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs-Clark, Bureau of Immigration-Region 3; Bureau of Internal Revenue; Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Clark International Airport Corp., Clark Locators and Investors Association, Department of Energy, Department of Foreign Affairs, Home Development Mutual Fund (PagIbig), Kapampangan Development Foundation, National Conciliation and Mediation Board, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Philippine National Police-Region 3, Social Security System and the Subic Clark Alliance Development Council.


AFP Chief Gen. Bangit: Military junta option is political 'suicide'

MANILA, April 22 - Armed Forces chief of staff General Delfin N. Bangit on Thursday reiterated his commitment for credible elections and exhorted AFP Major Service Commanders, and other top brasses to stand by the Constitution.

“I am for the Constitution,” he declared in a command conference the other day as he sought to dispell rumors of military junta. He stressed: “(A) junta is never on our list of things to do. There is no junta, there will never be. Junta is contrary to good judgment. It is suicide."

"Our claim to honor and dignity is not through a leadership where we will be the ones who will decide for our people. Our claim to honor and dignity is our ability to act as on in order to protect our people. Listen to the call of the times. It calls on us to stand firm for our people and not claim to be the voice of the people,” added Bangit.

Talks of supposed military plan to put up a junta had been swirling for the past weeks. The latest allegation was fanned early this week by civil society group leader Pastor Boy Saycon, a supporter of presidential bet Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Bangit called on his men to focus on the most essential aspect at this point and to stand resilient against the many attempts to divide the organization.

“We should move on. There is a concern bigger than appointments – and that is, the upcoming elections, and the rumored military junta being insinuated by some groups. Politics is not what we have worked for in our entire career. Politicians come and go. Even as they do, we stay. Our enemies before are still our enemies today. We know how hard our enemies work to break the unity and integrity that has kept us unbeatable,” said Bangit.

He also exhorted his men to stand firm, saying "to you who are with me in our stand for the Constitution; to you who are with me in our stand against revolutionary government or junta: Labanan natin (let us fight together side by side) because this is clearly unconstitutional.”

Bangit cited the importance of AFP professionalism especially in the coming elections. “The outcome of this elections is a make or break for the AFP. It is also a deciding point for our country,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a letter dated April 21, 2010, Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Raymundo B. Ferrer wrote a formal communication to Bangit to refute having attended a meeting with Aquino or with any other political candidate.

“I am dismayed that my name was dragged into such an issue that is obviously fed information designed to portray disunity in our organization”, the letter said.

Additionally, Ferrer assured his loyalty to the military organization under Gen. Bangit’s leadership, and referred this allegiance as “greater than my personal feelings”.

“I am not disgruntled or else I would have resigned my position and damned the institution to my heart’s content.”

The AFP had been time and again hounded with rumors of polarization and partisanship.

“Recently, there had been renewed efforts to 'fragmentize' the AFP through proliferation of stories on alleged disgruntlement of some AFP officers. We dismiss these rumors as efforts by some groups or individuals with personal and vested interests whose ultimate objective is far from good,” said AFP Civil Relations Service chief Brig. Gen. Francisco N Cruz.

The AFP appeals to these self-interest groups busily propagating discord to stop these schemes and allow the military organization to focus on its mandate and on its mission for the sake of the Filipino people. This is to include providing a secured environment for the voters and for the smooth transport of election materials.

“We are confident, that through the COMELEC and its Joint Security Control Center, the PNP’s and AFP’s Task Force HOPE, the Zeñarosa Commission, and all the election watchdogs could work together to ensure a peaceful and credible election,” said Cruz


6,055 Mindanao highlanders benefit from gov’t anti-poverty programs

BAYUGAN CITY, Agusan del Sur, April 22 - At least 6,055 indigenous people (IPs) in Mindanao benefited from agri-business opportunities and capacity building activities by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD).

A statement released by DA and Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) said IP beneficiaries comprise 43 percent of the 14,185 total beneficiaries of CFAD.

The DA-MRDP also reported that among the IPs, 2,640 were female and 3,415 were male.

This statistical record came out after a Mindanao-wide World Bank (WB) review mission of the DA's five-year program.

Most of the beneficiaries were from Northeastern Mindanao Caraga region (8 percent); Region 10 (28 percent); Region 11 (26 percent); Region 12 (22 percent); Autonomus Region in Muslim Mindanao (10 percent); and Region 9 (7 percent).

Among the tribes which received the assistance were Ata Manobo, Mansaka, Teduray, T'boli, Subanen, and Higaonon from Northern Mindanao and Agusan provinces, the DA-MRDP report said.

These beneficiaries are engaged in production of high value crops like banana, vegetables, peanuts and fruits, cattle production and swine breeding, while other groups received farm implements.

The DA-MRDP statement said IPs are the majority beneficiaries of the livelihood projects of the anti-poverty program of the DA in Mindanao.

MRDP, now on its second phase, is a multi-million program jointly funded by the World Bank, the National government and the local government units.

For five years, the program has allotted close to U.S.$ 30 million for its livelihood component, the CFAD.

CFAD is a community driven development where the people themselves identify their own project based on the available resources of the community and skills of their members. This allows poor communities to take part in the decision-making process, establishing a sense of ownership and generating high level of participation.

"Empowering the marginalized sector through agribusiness activities expands the strength of rural economy since agriculture as is said as the mainstay of economic activities in rural areas," said DA-MRDP official Lealyn A. Ramos.

Ramos added that the program has exceeded its IP target beneficiaries. CFAD sets to target only 35 percent IPs among its beneficiaries.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Impact of PGMA’s economic reforms will still be felt years after – business leaders

The country’s business leaders on Wednesday said the full benefits of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s economic and social reforms will continue to be felt in years to come.

“While we are already reaping the benefits of the President’s economic and social reforms at this time, the full result will be felt by generations to come,” said Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Francis Chua.

Chua said the President’s economic and social reforms were made “even at the expense of political capital,” but which preserved and sustained jobs and attained industrial peace, while businesses and investments continued to grow despite the global crisis.

The President was the guest of honor and speaker at today’s closing of the two-day 31st National Conference of Employers (NCE) conducted by the Employer’s Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) at the Manila Hotel.

Dr. Alfonso Uy, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc (FFCCCII), said these reforms helped Philippine business cope with and overcome difficulties during the global crisis.

Uy said the peso is strong, exports are up for the fourth straight month, foreign investments are up, and the tourism industry is booming.

In her speech, the President thanked business leaders for their support since 2001 when she assumed the presidency, particularly in her reforms to pump prime the economy and make the Philippines more globally competitive.

With the full support of the local business industry, the President said the Philippines attained a record 37 consecutive quarters of growth while creating nine million new jobs during her administration.

To date, the President said business and investments continue to grow while the country achieved an improved credit rating, having an acceptable debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio at a time when other countries agreed that it is not yet time for an exit strategy from the global crisis policies.

The President said both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) have also exceeded their targets for the first quarter of this year, while self-rated poverty this year stood at 43 percent, the lowest in 23 years.


Palace is prepared for June 30 turnover of presidency

The Presidential Management Staff (PMS) will head the committee that will facilitate the smooth turnover of Malacanang to the newly elected president when the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ends on June 30, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said today.

Mendoza said the PMS is prepared for the transition as it has been traditionally a part of the agency’s missions to ensure that the turnover of the executive office goes without hitches.

Under the Constitution, the new President must take his oath of office at noon of June 30 this year.

PMS is a specialized unit that principally provides staff support to the President and the Cabinet. Its specialization ranges from economic, social, and political concerns, e.g., social and economic reforms, poverty alleviation, people empowerment, labor, education, welfare and development, infrastructure, agriculture, trade, industry, tourism, environment, judicial reforms, energy, and energizing the bureaucracy, among others.

The PMS head has the rank of a cabinet secretary who exercises control and supervision over eight technical units that prepare timely, reliable, accurate and comprehensive information to the President.

Housed in a building at Arlegui St., near Malacanang, the PMS is currently headed by Secretary Maria Elena Bautista. Her immediate predecessors include former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde and former secretary Silvestre Afable.

As a specialized unit, about 60% of PMS personnel performs managerial, supervising or technical functions. By academic discipline, the officials and employees of PMS are graduates of some of the finest schools and educational institutions here and abroad. About 65% are graduates of the following fields of specialization, either masteral or bachelor's degree level: public/business administration; economics; behavioral and social sciences; engineering; computer education; accounting; agriculture-related courses; law; education; and organizational/mass communication. The PMS is composed of relatively young employees, with close to 70% between 20 to 40 years old.


PGMA, family mark 13th death anniversary of 'Cong Dadong'

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, together with her family and other relatives, today commemorated the 13th death anniversary of her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, with a holy mass at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Wearing a gray and black dress, Arroyo motored from Malacanang and arrived at the Libingan at 10 a.m. for the mass, the President’s first activity for the day. She was accompanied by First Daughter Evangeline Lourdes Arroyo Bernas.

Arroyo’s sister Cielo Macapagal-Salgado, brother Arturo Macapagal, Civil Service chairman Francisco Duque III, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Ma. Consoliza Laguardia, Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change Secretary Heherson Alvarez, and National Museum chairman Larry Henares who also served as the National Economic Council chairman of Arroyo’s father, welcomed the President.

Also in attendance were Army officials led by Philippine Army Officer-in- Charge, Maj. Gen. Romulo Supapo. Philippine Army chief Lt. General Reynaldo Mapagu is currently in Malaysia.

Some 100 guests attended the commemorative mass officiated by Fr. Steve Penetrante.

After the mass, the President joined her relatives and close friends in a late breakfast. She proceeded to Manila Hotel to attend the closing ceremony of the 31st National Conference of Employers.

The late President Macapagal was the ninth President of the Republic and known as the “Champion of the Common Man”” for his humble beginning exemplary personal integrity and dedication to public service.

He was born in Lubao, Pampanga on September 28, 1910 to Urbano Macapagal, a poet, and Romana Pangan, a school teacher. President Macapagal was later affectionately called “The Poor Boy from Lubao”.

Macapagal excelled in his studies in public school, graduating valedictorian at Lubao Elementary School and salutatorian at Pampanga High School. He finished his undergraduate degree at the University of the Philippines and completed his law studies at University of Santo Tomas. He topped the bar in 1936.

He entered politics in 1949 and won a landslide victory as representative of the 1st District of Pampanga. He was elected Vice President in 1956 and President in 1961.

He was instrumental in initiating and executing a Land Reform Code, which was designed to end the tenancy problem that partly caused the rise of the communist movement in Central Luzon.

Health workers soon to be vaccinated vs h1n1 virus – DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) announced today that health workers all over the country will be vaccinated against the A(H1N1) virus during the latter part of April as part of the country’s response to the pandemic.

“Our frontline health workers are at higher risk for getting the disease than ordinary people due to their larger probability of exposure. In addition, they may also transmit the infection to other patients, as well as their families and co-workers, so it is appropriate that they be given priority now that the vaccines are ready for deployment”, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said.

The Health Chief noted that more than 420,000 health workers at the national and local levels and the public and private sectors will benefit from the vaccine. The 1.9 million doses of the vaccine arrived during the last week of March and are being shipped to the different regions of the country. Health workers from the regional health offices and local government units have been oriented prior to the distribution of the vaccine.

The vaccines represent the first tranche of the promised 9 million doses by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of an agreement with the Philippine government signed on November 25 last year.

The endowment, according to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, is part of the WHO’s pledge to make distribution more equitable and fair to protect poor and vulnerable populations in developing countries’.

The WHO made its commitment during the 60th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in September last year where it said that donations from developed countries and pharmaceuticals are enough to cover 10% of the population of the developing world. WHO requested the Philippine government to authorize the use of these vaccines.

Cabral said that next in the priority list for vaccination are about 2.5 million pregnant women. Subsequent shipments will be given to other priority groups such as children six months to five years old, those 60 years old and above, and those with chronic medical conditions.

Tobacco Industry Removed from the International Negotiations

A body comprising of delegates from over 140 countries, decided to remove observers who are viewing negotiation proceedings because majority of them are representatives of the tobacco industry.

The said body composed of health, customs, law enforcement, and foreign affairs officials are participants in the negotiations for the illicit trade protocol on tobacco during the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) held in Geneva. 

Most of the delegations reiterated their apprehension that having the tobacco industry “observe” during the proceedings makes it difficult for them to work properly and independently since the tobacco industry representatives also “lobby” in the hallways during break time.

But despite the clamor of the majority to remove the tobacco industry from the negotiations, the European Union put on record their objection to this ruling as a procedural error by virtue of the fact that the proceedings are considered a “public” session.

However, the legal counsel of the Secretariat to the negotiating body said that the move is consistent with the principle espoused under FCTC’s Article 5.3 which states that “ in setting and implementing public health policies in relation to tobacco control, Parties shall protect these policies from the vested and commercial interests of the tobacco industry.”

The international delegates were convened in Geneva from March 14-21, 2010 under the auspices of the World Health Organization for the Fourth Session of the International Negotiating Body for the Protocol on the Illicit Trade of Tobacco.

The said protocol is intended to curb tobacco smuggling across borders by enhancing international cooperation and the first to be negotiated under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first public health treaty created under the auspices of the WHO.

Electricity Reaches Mangyan Village 

Electricity finally reaches the Mangyan tribe community in Sitio Bait, Barangay Panaytayan in the Municipality of Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, about 230 kilometers from the provincial capital of Calapan City.

Our mission is to bring the benefits of electricity to our people regardless of situation in all corners of the country. Congratulations to Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Ormeco) for a mission well accomplished in bringing light to the village and to the lives of our brother Mangyans in the mountains of Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro,”said Administrator Edita S. Bueno.

A subsidy from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) amounting to Php 2.188M was used for the construction of line extension to 3 sitios in Mansalay namely: Makawato in Barangay Villa Celestial; Nalwak, Poblacion and Bait, in Panaytayan. The first two sitios were energized in December, 2009. As of March 2010, Ormeco has already energized 1,983 sitios or 78.57% of its potential. “By energizing the far-flung mountainous Mangyan village, Ormeco has proven that missionary electrification can go hand in hand with operational efficiency,” the Administrator added. Ormeco, in spite of missionary electrification works, has been a consistently top performing electric cooperative. In the recently concluded EC Lumens Awards, it has garnered nine awards and citations including EC of the Year and General Manager of the Year for Mr. Romeo Cuasay.

A symbolic energization ceremony was done at the house of Mr. Raymundo Buyayao. The ceremony was spearheaded by GM Cuasay and witnessed by Mansalay Vice-Mayor Rey de Lara, Board of Directors, Department and District Managers, local officials of Barangay Panaytayan and NEA, represented by Public Affairs Office Director Judith Alferez.

The residents of Sitio Bait through their local leaders expressed their profound gratitude to ORMECO, local officials of Mansalay and NEA. Definitely, the availability of electricity will improve the quality of life, stimulate productivity and education of the 75 Mangyan families in the area.

As part of its collective and unified commitment to provide continuous reliable, adequate and affordable electric service, Ormeco is presently constructing a mini-hydro project located in the Municipality of San Teodoro with a total capacity of 4.2MW or 2.1 MW per cascade. The project which is targeted to be operational in 2011, will result to a more sufficient and reliable power supply and at the same time lower the present tariff to at least one peso per kilowatt hour.

D.A. lifts ban on imports of birds, poultry from Germany

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has lifted a temporary ban imposed earlier on the entry of birds and poultry, including their by-products, from Germany following official confirmation by global animal health authorities of the eradication of the avian influenza (AI) or bird flu virus in that European country.

A report  to the World Organization on Animal Health or Office International des Epizooties (OIE) by Dr. Karin Schwabenbauer, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Germany  , showed that the incidence of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) has been successfully eradicated in infected premises of the country since Dec. 21 last year.

DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla lifted the ban after the OIE had restored Germany's avian-flu free status and the DA's Bureau of Animal Industry had confirmed  that the risk of contamination from importing poultry and poultry products from Germany is negligible.

The Philippines along with Brunei and Singapore are the only AI-free countries in Southeast Asia.

The World Health Organization has reported that as of mid-April, there were 493 laboratory-confirme d cases of bird flu and 292 fatalities from the disease since the H5N1 strain of the virus broke out in Southeast Asia in 2003 and then spread across the rest of the continent, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In other Asian countries like Indonesia, 135 deaths have been recorded so far, while 25 fatalities from the AI virus were reported in China; 17 in Thailand; and 59 in Vietnam.

The DA has set  up Community-Based Early Warning Systems (CBEWS) in selected barangays identified as  in high risk of contracting the AI virus as part of its continuing measures to keep the Philippines  free of this animal disease.

These CBEWs were established  to orient Barangay AI Task Forces on the bird flu  and the reporting process for AI suspects (both in poultry and humans) as well as the possible  smuggling of poultry and exotic birds in their localities.

Under its Avian Influenza Protection Program (AIPP), the DA is also implementing an  Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (AVET) Program to strengthen the capacity of the field veterinary services,  especially at the local level,  in designing and managing disease surveillance, conducting outbreak investigation and effective outbreak containment measures.

The government  currently has four avian flu testing facilities located  in Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu City and San Fernando in  Pampanga.

The laboratories in Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Cebu complement the ongoing work being done at the Regional Avian Influenza Diagnostic Laboratory (RAIDL), in San Fernando, Pampanga, which is the country's first diagnostic facility meant to promptly detect the AI virus. (DA PRESS OFFICE)

Climate Change, tinalakay sa Regional Farm Family Forum

Sinimulan kahapon ang dalawang (2) araw na programa para sa “Regional Farm Family Forum for Region IV-A,” Abril 13-14, 2010 sa Monte Vista Hotspring  and Conference Resort sa bayan ng Calamba, Laguna. Ito ay matagumpay na dinaluhan ng may pitumpo’t limang (75) opisyal at miyemro ng Rural Improvement Club (RIC), Pambansang Manalon, Mag-uuma, Magbabaul, Magsasaka ng Pilipinas (P4MP) at 4H Club na nagmula sa limang (5) probinsya ng CALABARZON.

Ang naturang programa na may temang “Youth Empowerment on Climate Change Adaptation: A Time for Action” ay may layuning  (1) mapaibayo ang kapabilidad ng mga opisyal at miyembro ng Rural Based Organization (RAOs) sa pagtuklas at pagbuo ng mga livelihood projects; (2)maibahagi ang kaalaman sa mga posibleng epekto ng “climate change” sa agrikultura at gayundin ay; (3)  mataguyod ang pagkakaibiganan sa pagitan ng mga partisipante. Ito ay programa sa ilalim ng Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) IV-A na nakabase sa University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Calamba, Laguna.

Nagsimula ang programa sa ganap na ikasampu ng umaga kung saan pinakilala ni Ms. Veronica V. Esguerra, Technical Service Head ng ATI, ang mga panauhin, staff, at partisipante.  Nagbigay naman ng pampasiglang mensahe ang  Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary at Regional Executive Director ng rehiyon na si Asec. Dennis B. Araullo.

Sa panimula ay binati ni Asec. Araullo ang mga nag-organisa ng nasabing programa at lahat ng nagsidalo. Nabanggit niya na ang Pilipinas ay isa sa mga bansang unang nakararanas ng epekto ng “Climate Change” o pagbabago  ng klima katulad na lamang ng pananalanta ng “Bagyong Ondoy” noong Setyembre ng nakaraang taon at ang pananalanta ngayon ng El Niño na nagsimula ilang buwan lang matapos ang nasabing bagyo. “Hindi mapipigilan ang pagdating ng ganitong mga klima kung kaya dapat ay atin itong paghandaan,” aniya.

Ayon pa sa kanyang mensahe, kabilang sa paghahanda ay ang pagtatanim ng mga pananim na naaangkop sa kasalukuyang klima. Kinakailangan ng pagsasaliksik ng mga kapalit na mga pananim sa pabago-bagong panahon upang hindi mawalan o bumaba ang kita ng mga magsasaka.

Binigyang diin ni Asec. Araullo ang kahalagahan ng palaging pagiging handa sa anumang darating na kalamidad lalo na ngayon na may “Global Climate Change” na nangyayari sa malaking bahagi ng mundo. Tiniyak din ni Asec. Araullo na di titigil ang ahensiya sa pagtulong at pagbibigay ng mga kinakailangang suporta sa mga magsasaka para sa paghahanda sa “climate change” katulad na lamang ng naumpisahan ng pagbibigay ng mga Shallow Tube Wells (STWs) at certified seeds sa ilang probinsya at pamamahagi din ng dryers sa panahon ng tag-ulan.

Nagbigay din ng mensahe  ang director ng ATI na si G. Asterio P. Saliot, at ang mga provincial agriculturists ng rehiyon. Nagkaroon din ng pagsasanay at paligsahan ang mga partisipante tungkol sa Poster-making, pagluluto at Quiz Bee. Ang kanilang mga tagapagsanay ay mga tauhan ng ATI IV-A at DA RFU IV-A sa pangunguna ni Ms. Rosalinda Alonsozana. (DA-RFU IV)

6000 IPs in Mindanao benefit from DA's antipoverty program

Davao City - Indigenous peoples (IPs) are the majority beneficiaries of the livelihood projects of the antipoverty program of the Department of Agriculture in Mindanao.

This was bared in the recently concluded Mindanao-wide World Bank (WB) review mission of the DA’s five-year program, the Mindanao Rural Development Program (DA-MRDP).

MRDP, now on its second phase is a multimillion program jointly funded by the World Bank, the National government and the local government units. For five years, the program has allotted close to US$30 million for its livelihood component, the Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD).

Noted as among the country’s marginalized sector, a total of 6,055 IPs in Mindanao  benefited agribusiness opportunities and capacity building activities through CFAD.

IP beneficiaries comprise 43 percent of the 14,185 total beneficiaries of CFAD. It was also reported that among the IPs, 2,640 were female and 3,415 were male.

CFAD is a community driven development where peoples themselves identify their own project based in the available resources of the community and skills of their members. This allows poor communities to take part in the decision-making process, establishing a sense of ownership and generating high level of participation.

Regional coverage 

Most of the beneficiaries were from Region 10 (28%); followed by Region 11 (26%); Region 12 (22%); autonomus Region in Muslim Mindanao (10%); Caraga or Region 13 (8%); and Region 9 (7%).

Among the tribe which received the assistance were Ata, Manobo, Mansaka and Mandaya in Davao provinces, the Teduray in Sultan Kudatrat, T’boli in South Cotabato , Subanen in Zamboanga peninsula and Higaonon from Northen Mindanao and  Agusan provinces.

These beneficiaries are engaged in production of high value crops like banana, vegetables, peanuts and fruits, cattle production, swine breeding while other groups received farm implements.

“Empowering the marginalized sector through agribusiness activities expands the strength of rural economy since agriculture as is said as the mainstay of economic activities in rural areas,” said Lealyn A. Ramos.

Ramos added that the program has exceeded its IP target beneficiaries. CFAD sets to target only 35 percent IPs among its beneficiaries.

“Women are purposively targeted since in rural areas, they (women) were found out to be vital in food security and played crucial role in family well-being,” Ramos added. (DA-MRDP)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

D.A. urges fishers to shift to ‘El Niño-Proof’ mariculture 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is encouraging small fisherfolk to shift to mariculture or sea-cage farming, which is not only cheaper and more productive in the long run, but has also proven to be sustainable despite the latest El Nino attack. 

In a report to Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla, Director Malcolm Sarmiento Jr. of the DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said the agency has recently inked an agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines formalizing their partnership in promoting mariculture livelihood ventures in the country’s 49 mariculture parks and providing small fisherfolk with credit to urge them to take part in the project. 

“This project with Land Bank  will help our small fisherfolk at this critical period when the El Nino dry spell has dried up not only farmlands but lakes and ponds as well and raised the salinity level in our fishing waters, which has affected fish growth and production,” Sarmiento said in his report to Fondevilla. 

“Shifting from fishing to marine cage farming will help our fisherfolk tide over the El Nino dry spell, and at the same time, help lower their production costs,” he said. 

"Over the past two years, the DA leadership has directed heads of its attached agencies and of its regional field units (RFUs) to retool their respective budgets and give priority to intervention programs that will best help farmers, fisherfolk and other agriculture and fisheries stakeholders cope with the twin challenges of climate change and increasing global free trade," Fondevilla said.

He said the DA, for one,  has crafted--and started carrying out--a mitigation program meant to sustain farm growth and yields despite the latest El Nino attack and to provide immediate aid to farmers and fisherfolk reeling from the dry spell.

Sarmiento explained that as freshwater fishponds dry up during El Nino, brackishwater fishponds, which are the backbone of Philippine aquaculture, are also affected because heat raises salinity levels, which affect the growth of fish. 

The solution to these woes now plaguing the fisheries sector is mariculture, which allows fish grown in sea cages to live in fairly constant salinity and temperature levels throughout the year. 

Floating sea cages, as opposed to land-based pond farms, which require more resources to maintain and develop, also have high water exchange levels that make water pumps and tanks unnecessary, Sarmiento said. 

“Thus, this means lower production costs even with fuel and electricity rates going up, which also translates into lower fish prices for consumers,” he pointed out.

Sea cages, Sarmiento noted, are also flexible and environment- friendly, unlike land-based fish farms, because they can easily be moved to new areas in the sea to prevent the buildup of biological wastes. (DA Press Office)

Monday, 19 April 2010

PIA Dispatch - Monday, April 19, 2010

PGMA hails private-public housing in Laguna for Metro Manila's poor, disaster victims

CALAUAN, Laguna – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo thanked on Monday the private sector and local government here for complementing her relocation program for Metro Manilas’ homeless and disaster- affected families with new housing sites free from pollution and congestion and which provides job and livelihood opportunities.

The Chief Executive visited this morning Calauan town where a model public-private housing project has been set up for the marginalized sector.

On board a tour bus, she conducted a windshield inspection of the Southville-7 housing project of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in joint partnership with the BayaniJuan sa Southville-7 township program of ABS-CBN Foundation. The Foundation is headed by managing director and BayaniJuan president Gina Lopez.

The President was the guest of honor at the first anniversary celebration of BayaniJuan sa Southville-7 at the Oscar M. Lopez Dayap Elementary School in Barangay Dayap.

In her speech, the President thanked Ms. Lopez, the local government of Calauan, Laguna and the private donors for the Southville-7 which offered decent living for the homeless and disaster victims from Metro Manila.

Since 2001, the President said more than 800,000 families are now homeowners under the government’s socialized housing and land tenure security program.

The President said an additional 300,000 low-cost housing units were built under her administration.

“So we have given more than a million families across the nation a chance to meet their goal of home ownership,” the President said.

The President earlier contributed P30 million to the ABS-CBN and BayaniJuan Foundation for the rehabilitation of 108 housing units and establishment of 100 solar street lamps in Southville-7. Also benefited by the funds was the rehabilitation and clean-up of the Paco market reportedly a major cause of garbage and sewage problems in the Pasig River.

During her visit, the President said she will try to provide more solar street lamps in Southville-7 to further preserve the peace and security in the area.

Among the ongoing and proposed projects the President inspected include the proposed sites of the BayaniJuan Livelihood Center, SM Foundation Health & Wellness Center, Lopez Group Training Center, Aboitiz Livelihood Center, a wet and dry market, a materials recovery facility (MRF), a DSWD day-care center, a solar power and a police station project in the area.

During the tour, Lopez told the President that some 4,600 families have been relocated to the BayaniJuan sa Southville7 most of them from danger zones in Paco including those affected by Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi last year in Metro Manila.

With the support coming from the government, non-government organizations and the private sector, the families in Southville-7 were also provided livelihood opportunities and trainings by the Technology Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

With the help of the NHA, Lopez said the Oscar M. Lopez Dayap Elementary School was established and a high school will also be put up in the area soon.

The President instructed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide families with vegetable seedlings and composting facilities such as shredders for the Gulayan ng Masa in the area.

Other donors recognized here are San Miguel Corp. (SMC) which donated P21 million to the ABS-CBN Foundation for the construction of 300 houses for relocated residents from the Estero de Paco in Manila.

The President personally checked the proposed market to be built thru the help of the private construction company, the DMCI, and a playground donated by outsourcing leader Telus International Philippines.

The President arrived here with Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. and former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

They were welcomed by thousands of residents led by Laguna Governor Teresita Lazaro, Calauan Mayor George Berris, Barangay Dayap Chairperson Roberto Ramilo, NHA General Manager Federico Laxa, and officials from private donor institutions.


PGMA inaugurates P59.4-M Dasmariñas Community Affairs Building in Cavite

DASMARINAS CITY, Cavite - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated the newly constructed Dasmarinas Community Affairs Building during her visit here this morning.

Joining the President for the inaugural activities that included ribbon cutting and inspection of building facilities were Press Secretary Crispulo Icban, Jr and local officials and staff led by Dasmarinas City mayor Jennifer Barzaga and Cavite 2nd Dist. Rep. Elpidio Barzaga.

Built at a cost of P59.4-million, the DASCA is the city government's response to provide equal representation for their constituents in need.

The DASCA is envisioned to redirect concern towards various sectors of society such as senior citizens, street children, children with autism and persons with disabilities.

The three-storey DASCA is equipped with the best safety and ergonomic features that include elevators, access ramps, a multi-purpose hall, a medical and dental center as well as a physical therapy center to bring greater medical accessibility to Dasmarinas residents.

Government offices such as the City Social Welfare and Development Office, City Tourism Office, City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Environmental Sanitation Unit and the City Disaster Coordinating Council are also located within the DASCA premises to bring government service closer to the people of Dasmarinas.


Agra respects prosecutors' manifesto vs. DOJ resolution

BAGUIO CITY, APRIL 19 - Acting Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary and concurrent Solicitor General Alberto Agra on Monday said that he respects the move of the government prosecutors in coming up with a manifesto opposing the resolution of the DOJ that cleared the two Ampatuans of any criminal liability in the Maguindanao massacre.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Govenor Zaldy Ampatuan and Mamasano town mayor Datu Akmad Ampatuan were absolved of involvement in the Maguindanao massacre based on weak evidence of conspiracy and strong evidence of alibi.

"I stand by my decision in whatever capacity as a lawyer as DOJ. The resolution was based on documents before me nothing else," Agra said.

The state prosecutors, numbering about 1,700 under the leadership of Chief State Prosecutor Claro Arellano, on Monday asked Agra to re-visit his resolution.

"Under the law, I am given the power to review and modify the findings of the prosecutors," Agra said.

"I understand the sentiments of the prosecutors but I have to be impartial on my review of cases," Agra said.

Since 1986, there are now some 10,000 pending petitions for review before the DOJ, and Agra would like to cut it by half by June 30, 2010.

"I am not duty bound to inform the prosecutors on the result of my review," Agra said.

He said that the views of the other prosecutors may differ from his own view in the same manner that Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes had a different view as against the view of the DOJ when she dismissed the rebellion charges against the Ampatuans for lack of probable cause.

"Writing the draft resolution is internal on the DOJ," Agra said.

He assured the prosecutors that he was not vindictive and he would not take any action against them for as long as they don't violate the law and for as long as they continue to work in handling cases. (PNA)

May 2010 is National Census Month

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently signed Proclamation No. 2028 which declares May this year as National Census Month.

Citing Batas Pambansa Blg. 72 which provides for the taking of an integrated census every 10 years beginning in 1980 and the requirement for an up-to-date and comprehensive data of the population at the local levels in line with the national government's thrust to decentralize functions to the local government units (LGUs), President Arroyo enjoined all departments and other government agencies to implement and execute the operational plans, directives and order for the nationwide conduct of the 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH).

The National Statistics Office (NSO) is the lead agency in the conduct of the 2010 CPH that shall commence on May 17. The census will take an inventory of the total population and housing units in the country and collect information about their characteristics. The data that will be collected by the undertaking will be useful in the formulation of policies, plans and programs of the government relative to the delivery of basic health and social services to target beneficiaries and the general public, in determining business opportunities and industry status, in research and development, and in academic studies.

More specifically, data obtained from the census provides government basis for redistricting and apportionment of congressional seats, allocation of resources and revenues, and creation of political and administrative units.

The Philippines population was 76.5 million as of May 1, 2000 based on the 2000 CPH. In 2007, a census of population (POPCEN 2007) was conducted by the NSO in order to get an updated population count for all barangays to serve as basis for the Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) of the LGUs, among others. Presidential Proclamation No. 1489 issued on April 16, 2008 made the results of POPCEN 2007 official and the country’s population was placed at 88,574,614 persons as of August 1, 2007.

The NSO will submit to the President of the Philippines for proclamation the population counts by barangay based on the 2010 CPH before the end of the year. These data will be made available in print and electronic copies.

NEA Forges Alliance with Multi-Sectoral Governance Coalition for Total Electrification

Total electrification of the country needs the cooperation of all.

Thus, NEA has forged an alliance with a Multi-Sectoral Governance Coalition (MSGC) composed of associations which work for and with the Rural Electrification Program. This Coalition was organized to support the attainment of NEA’s vision of total electrification on an area coverage basis by 2020 and in line with its pursuit of excellence through good governance.

With the end-goal of providing adequate and reliable service to electricity consumers, the MSGC has developed its own scorecard specifying its Objectives, Measures, Targets and Initiatives.

The MSGC is comprised of the Electric Cooperatives Advocacy of the Philippines (Ecap), Multi-Sectoral Electrification Advisory Council (MSEAC), Philippine Association of Electric Cooperatives Internal Auditors (PHILAECIA), Philippine Association of Institutional Managers (PHILAIM), National Solidarity of Associations (NSA), National Solidarity of Unions (NSU), National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives (NAGMEC), Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca) and Mindanao Institutional Managers. 

The Coalition was formally recognized and affirmed in a ceremony held at the Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City on April 9, 2010 as part of the 2010 NEA-EC Conference and Recognition.  In the said ceremony, the members of the MSGC took their pledge of commitment in support of NEA’s goal to attain its targets on the PGS Scorecard.