Thursday, 27 May 2010

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, May 27, 2010

PGMA sound economic policies fuel GDP growth to 7.3 % in Q1

MANILA, May 27 - Malacanang on Thursday said the country's economic growth in the first quarter reflects the sound economic policies that the Arroyo administration initiated in the past nine years.

"We see the strong growth as benefiting from the sound economic management we had in place for years," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said in a regular press briefing. 

Latest data from the National Economic and Development Authority show that the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.3 percent in the first quarter, from 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2009. This is the highest in 30 years.

"We see this as a sign that confidence remains strong. This really underlines the sound management that allows you to maintain a strong growth overall," he said.

The NEDA said the uptick was attributed to the improvement in the global economy, brighter economic outlook, increased business and consumer confidence, and election-related spending. (PNA)

PGMA to inaugurate housing project for science workers

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will inaugurate tomorrow (May 28) a housing project for close to 500 employees of the Department of Science and Technology and a public school building project in Molino, Cavite.

Dubbed as “Scientia Villas,” the housing units sit on a 13.1 hectare site in Barangay Molino 3, Bacoor, parceled into 570 homelots and allocated to 170 current and retired employees of the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), 200 employees of DOST and its agencies and 50 employees each from four other government agencies.

The science villas are directly funded by PagIbig, the government’s socialized housing agency. The site was developed by Moldex Realty Inc. and will be fully completed in October 2010.

The Chief Executive will be received at the Scientia Villas by Cavite Governor-elect Juanito Victor Remulla Jr., Rep. Wendel “Jun” Abaya Jr., Bacoor Mayor Edwin “Strike” Revilla, Vice President Noli de Castro who also chairs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro, Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) Director Nuna Almanzor and Molino 3 Barangay Captain Apolonio Advincula Jr.

Mayor Revilla will deliver the welcome remarks while the message and overview of the project will be given by Secretary Alabastro, to be followed by the turnover of keys and certificate of entitlement and lot allotment (CELA) to five family beneficiaries. 

The President will then proceed to Queens Row Elementary School in Barangay Queens Row Central also in Molino for the inauguration of the newly completed two-classroom, two-story schoolbuildings for the incoming grade 6 pupils. Currently, the grade 6 classes have 60 to 70 pupils per classroom on three class shifts per day. 

Upon her arrival at the Queens Row Elementary School, the President will be received by Queens Row Elementary School Principal Lope P. Feraer, Education Secretary Mona Valisno and Queens Row Central Barangay Captain Reynaldo Palabrica. She will then cut the ribbon and unveil the project marker.

The science villas started when the Molino lands were acquired by the National Institute of Science and Technology (now ITDI) under the Friar Lands Act 1120 for agricultural research and experimental sites. In 1975, one parcel (of four hectares) was set aside for scientific and housing purposes.

In 1992, the ITDI Director used part of the Molino property to demonstrate the application of interlocking bricks through a memorandum of agreement with the National Housing Authority.

Three years later, the ITDI sought the assistance of HUDCC to revive the housing project using a portion of the Molino property. In June 2001, President Arroyo issued an Executive Order declaring the ITDI Molino property a housing site.

In September 2002, an exemption clearance was obtained from DAR based on RA 6657 (or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law) and Department of Justice Opinion of 1990.

In June 2003, a direct financing scheme by PagIbig was worked out to facilitate the development of the property. (OPS)

Leave to next administration the Imelda Marcos jewelry issue--Palace

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today ordered the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to hold off any further moves leading to the auction of the jewelry of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

The order to the PCGG was coursed through Commissioner Ricardo Abcede by Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza who said President Arroyo is now leaving it to her successor to decide on the final disposition of the Imelda Marcos jewelry.

While Secretary Mendoza noted much headway has been made by PCGG towards the jewelry auction, he said time has run out on the process, and the issue is best left to the in-coming administration.

The jewelry was confiscated by the government after the Feb. 1986 EDSA Revolution and has been kept at the Central Bank vault for more than 20 years. (OPS)

P10-B fund for disaster reconstruction now ready

The government may now allocate for use in disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation projects un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget following the approval of borrowings from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank (WB) that will form part of the additional revenues required in the budget law.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Ricardo Saludo said today during a Malacañang press briefing that the foreign funding commitments that will come in the form of soft or concession al loans will now “unlock” un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget for use in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, flood control and other facilities and services as the country recovers from the destruction for the past two years caused storms Frank, Ondoy and Pepeng.

Saludo, who is also secretary general of the Special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission (SNPPRC) created by President Arroyo, said JICA released last month P3.5 billion in concessional loans and the World Bank board approved last week another $258 million also with soft terms, to assist the Philippine reconstruction efforts.

“These foreign loans will help us unlock the un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget so we can push ahead with our reconstruction and rehabilitation programs and in the process prepare the country for the coming rainy season,” said Saludo.

In the 2010 General Appropriation Act, Congress offered the un-programmed funds for reconstruction on the condition that the government must put up additional revenues which could include domestic and foreign borrowings.

Saludo said the SNPPRC, in partnership with the private sector–led Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) headed by Manuel Pangilinan, have already spent P8 billion for reconstruction and recovery, coming from the realigned budgets of several agencies pending the release of the 2010 budget for reconstruction.

“We are grateful to some of the agencies which have realigned some of their funds to get the reconstruction and recovery programs going even before the actual funds in the budget are released,” Saludo said.

Just recently, some P600 million were released for typhoon Frank projects in Panay Islands. Again these are funds that are not yet part of the reconstruction budget allocation. These came from existing budgets that could be used for reconstruction.

The borrowings from JICA will be for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the reconstruction of infrastructure (roads, bridges and others) and upgrading of flood control systems. ‘We need to prepare these flood control systems for the coming rains this July,” Saludo said.

Finally he said that the $258 million loan from the World Bank will also “help us use the un-programmed funds in the budget.”

Agencies deemed to be given funds from the P0 billion reconstruction funds are Department of Education (DepED) for classroom reconstruction; Department of Health (DoH) for hospital rehabilitation; more infrastructure and flood control works for the DPWH; relocation of evacuees and people living along waterways for the National Housing Authority (NHA) and finally, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its continued recovery assistance to flood victims and shelter assistance for those who lost their houses.

The 2011 budget also contained provisions for additional reconstruction funds as indicated in a national budget call last May 17 and Item 2.3 of the National Budget Memorandum which specifies: “recovery and reconstruction projects with the objective of building back better and implement quality improvements, disaster resilience and climate change adaptation given the damage and losses inflicted by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.” (PND)

PGMA opens new Ro-Ro port in Masbate

SAN PASCUAL (Burias Island), Masbate - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated here today a new RoRo (roll-on-roll-off) port which is expected to boost inter-island trade and commerce in this central region of the archipelago.

The P46.39-million port which was constructed under the Strong Republic Nautical Highway Project of the President is part of the central nautical highway under her 10-point “Beat the Odds” program. 

Aboard a Bell helicopter, the President arrived here with Transportation and Communication Secretary Anneli Lontoc at 10 a.m. amidst a slight drizzle which the crowd of more than a thousand considered “a great blessing.”

The town has been reeling from a drought since November brought about by the El Nino weather phenomenon. 

Wearing a hooded raincoat, the President was welcomed by San Pascual Mayor Zacarina Lazaro, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Assistant General Manager for Operations Raul Santos, Masbate 1st District Representative Narcise Bravo Jr., PNP RD C/Supt Cecilio Callepo, Jr. and AFP 903rd Infantry Brigade Commanding Officer Col. Joselito Bernardo.

The President proceeded to cut the ceremonial ribbon formally inaugurating the San Pascual port and its new RoRo facilities. 

She proceeded to the PPA building where she was briefed by Santos.

During the briefing, Arroyo said the new port connects Burias Island to the entire country. Using a map of the island, she illustrated how the nautical highways in the Bicol region created under her administration, would serve to ease the flow of commerce and trade.

"Ports are important part of my 10-point program -- to connect the entire Philippines in transportation. And Burias is a part of our 10-point program," she said.

A 57-kilometer national road, which is now under construction, will connect the newly-opened port with another port located in Claveria town.

In the central nautical highway plan, San Pascual port will be the entry point of cargo and passenger vessels from Pasacao port in Camarines Sur and San Andres port in Quezon. Claveria port will be the exit point of local products to Masbate.

The President said that with bigger ports, trade and commerce between and among neighboring islands become very active and progressive. 

The construction of the new RoRo port, started in July 26, 2007, and was completed on January 21 last year.

It has expanded facilities that can accommodate bigger cargo and passenger vessels passing through routes to and from Quezon, Masbate, Romblon, Cebu and Davao.

After the briefing, the President inducted into office incoming officials of San Pascual led by Rep-elect Narciso Bravo, Jr., Mayor-elect Jojo Rivera and Vice Mayor-elect Zacarina Lazaro.

This is the first time that President Arroyo is visiting this town. Her father, the late former President Diosdado Macapagal, came here with her mother Dr. Evangeline Macaraeg Macapagal on Dec. 28, 1962.

Considered as the "bridge between Luzon and Visayas,"San Pascual is bordered by Camariner Sur in the north, Albay in the east, Bundok Peninsula of Quezon in northwest, Sibuyan Island of Romblon and Ticao Island of Masbate in the south.

Its port is a sanctuary for cargo vessels during tropical storms. (OPS)

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Independence Day parade to feature PGMA’s strong republic

This year’s 112th Independence Day celebration on June 12 will restore the pomp and significance of the civic-military parade at the Rizal Park Grandstand (Luneta) in Manila.

“For the last two years, we have been focusing on major programs and projects of the government and did away with the usual civic military parade. This time, we are returning the parade to showcase the achievements of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo especially before she bows out on June 30,” said Ludovico Badoy, executive director of the National Historical Institute (NHI), which was designated the lead agency for this year’s Independence Day celebration.

This year’s parade will feature 10 floats highlighting the 10-point agenda during the nine-year term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. An eleventh float will honor the country’s modern-day heroes, particularly those who have made names for themselves here and abroad in their respective fields of endeavor.

Badoy will flesh out the details for the Independence Day celebration and the coming Flag Awareness Day on May 28 during this afternoon’s meeting of the Technical Working Group, which he chairs.

The Independence Day festivities will be launched on May 28, with Education Secretary Mona Valisno as the guest of honor and speaker in an event in Cavite City to commemorate the Battle of Alapan where the Philippine flag was first hoisted at Teatro Caviteno by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

Flag will be simultaneous raised nationwide at 8 a.m. To give homage to the flag, NHI will ensure that the Philippine flags are prominently placed in all major thoroughfares.

Badoy also urged both the public and the private sectors to proudly display the flag not just outside their offices but also outside their homes.

On Independence Day, “we expect the President to be there at 6:45 a.m. and lead the flag raising simultaneously with other local government officials all over the country,” Badoy added.

There will be the usual simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at 7 a.m. at the Rizal monument.

The parade will take place in the afternoon. There will be a fireworks display immediately after the parade.

To help Metro Manila residents celebrate Independence Day, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) may give free train rides (for rapid transit systems like MRT-2, MRT-3 and Light Rail Transit). (PND)

PGMA successor to inherit a stable bureaucracy -- Palace

Malacañang today expressed confidence that the next administration will inherit a government in good state and with stable bureaucracy.

Presidential Management Staff Director-General Maria Elena Bautista-Horn said that the blueprint for next month’s turnover includes a situationer on the state of government that the next administration is going to inherit.

“I can look them straight in the eye with all pride that we delivered the bureaucracy in good condition to the next president,” Bautista-Horn said.

She said that the Malacañang transition plan that covers the different functions of the offices in the bureaucracy and the assets and resources that will be transferred to the next administration was presented in cabinet meeting Tuesday and was approved.

Meanwhile, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said that if President Arroyo’s successor so desires, Malacañang is willing to walk him through the Palace grounds and offices just like what outgoing US President George W. Bush did to his successor Barack Obama at the White House in November 2008.

“We are open to that (walk-through visit). As a matter of fact, that is part of the preparations we are doing,” said Mendoza during a press briefing in Malacañang where he was joined by Secretary Bautista-Horn.

Bautista also said during the briefing that the Arroyo administration will be turning over to the incoming administration a little over 1,000 unfilled middle to high level positions. 

“We did not fill the vacancies up because these are positions which had been vacated by those who were promoted and which we did not touch anymore,” said Bautista.

For the co-terminus appointees, we have 67 vacancies of which 25 are plantilla posts and 42 are non plantilla posts (or positions that automatically gets dissolved when President steps down).

The 67 does not include heads of agencies and the attached bureaus of the 21 line departments, 181 bureaus and attached agencies under the Office of the President which will all be vacated since most of them are co terminus with the President.

On whether they would give the incoming administration any advise or suggestion on how to fill up these positions, Bautista said “we are not in a position to give unsolicited advise but we are here to oversee the smooth turnover of the bureaucracy to the next administration.”

Definitely the career officials will be staying on and the Civil Service made it that way “because you need an institutional memory to ensure the continuation of services to the people,” she said. (OPS)

DepEd: No need to ban “jejemon”

Despite concerns over “Jejemon”, or text messaging that distorts the use of English language and spelling, the Department of Education (DepEd) is not inclined to ban its practice among schoolchildren.

Education Secretary Mona Valisno said during a press briefing in Malacanang that instead of resorting to a policy banning “jejemon”, she just called the attention of the teachers on the need to inculcate proper values, including communication skills on the young as these are necessary for them in high school and even college.

“We want to maintain our dominance in communication skills, which has made our country very attractive to investors in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector because our people have very good communication skills and are easily trainable,” Valisno said.

“But I will not go to the extent of banning it in elementary schools or high schools. I am just urging the teachers to ensure that proper communication skills and values are continuously imparted to the students. We do not need to issue a memorandum or impose penalty for such practice,” Valisno stressed.

“I only became aware of ‘jejemon’ from media. I only order the teachers not to allow wrong English, wrong spelling and wrong grammar. Even when my grandchildren text me in wrong grammar or wrong spelling, I never reply,” Valisno said.

“We would like to encourage our children to text in the correct way, correct construction of sentence, correct English, grammar and spelling because they would need this practice in their higher years,” Valisno said.

“Practice makes perfect. So if you resort to wrong practice, then the outcome is also wrong. Just like in piano if you resort to wrong finger dexterity, you can’t correct that anymore,” Valisno added.

Meanwhile, Valisno said with the bigger population, the expected school enrollment this year will increase to 23.43 million, with about 20.17 million in public schools and 3.26 million in the private schools.

We will do all we can to accommodate all of them in school but we can not refuse anyone who come to our public school system, Valisno stated.

Valisno said they are also strictly monitoring public schools that are exacting or collecting contributions from the students or their parents, adding “we will also not tolerate mandatory school uniforms and books.”

Thursday, 20 May 2010

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, May 20, 2010

PGMA assures state workers of salary increases until 2013

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured government workers of pay increases for the next three years as prescribed under the Salary Standardization Law III which she signed into law June last year.

The SSL III is expected to benefit more than 1.5 million government employees. The salary increases will be given in four yearly tranches until 2013.

The basic salary, including step increments, where an employee may progress from step 1 to step 8 of the salary grade allocation, will be the primary component of the compensation framework.

The framework seeks to rationalize and standardize the basic salaries, allowances, benefits and incentives for government officials and employees.

In her speech keynoting the 16th anniversary of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) held at the commission’s headquarters yesterday afternoon, the President attributed the benefit to the “bitter but necessary economic and financial reforms” implemented to increase revenues.

She said the expanded value added tax law (E-VAT) which increased the VAT on taxable items to 12 percent was the main source of “fresh funds which we reinvested in our people through expanded and improved education, social services, infrastructure and salary increases.”

“The latest (salary) increase was granted in July last year and that covered everyone in government service including teachers in the SUCs (state universities and colleges), specialized schools and of course as well as the staff in the Commission on Higher Education,” the President said to thunderous applause from the more than 300 officers and employees of CHED.

“Because of the Salary Standardization Law that we enacted during my administration, even when I am no longer President, you will continue to receive increases for the next three years,” she added.

The President said that the next round of salary increases for government workers is slated to be given this July. (PND)

Palace glad over improved RP competitiveness ranking

Malacañang today expressed satisfaction over the four-step improvement in the ranking of the Philippines in the World Competitiveness Yearbook released by Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said the government felt gratified by the rating improvement because it has in particular strived to maintain the country’s economic growth and to address inefficiencies in government.

“Our economy has been among the top performing in the world during the global recession. We were one of the few economies that maintained our growth, which the Arroyo administration has maintained for more than nine years, including second quarter of 2010,” Saludo added.

The Palace is certainly very happy about this achievement and now we are happy that the world has acknowledged this and will hopefully improve perceptions of investors regarding our country, Saludo said.

The Philippines rose from 39th with a score of 56.526 out of a perfect score of 100, from 43rd last year from among the 58 economies included in the report.

Among the Asean peers, Singapore had a perfect score of 100, Malaysia ranked 10th with a score of 87.228, Indonesia, 26th with 73.233 and Thailand, 35th with 60.745.

The report said that for 2010, the Philippines has to hurdle challenges like applying the rule of law and restoring faith in public institutions, ensuring food and energy security, planning for natural disasters and climate change, providing entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs, skills training and education in the countryside, and addressing migration into cities and configuring urban areas appropriately.

Saludo said the second area of focus is government efficiency, particularly in processing permits, licenses and other procedural requirements for businesses and investments.

This was addressed by Civil Service Commission, which Saludo used to chair, when it adopted the Anti Red Tape Act.

“This was a one-year deadline given to CSC and we completed it in September 2009 with 4,000 government entities having been made compliant with the Anti Red Tape Act,” Saludo added.

Saludo said the implementation of the Anti Red Tape Act has helped improved government efficiency rating and he hopes that this would be maintained.

He said he hopes that the massive infrastructure achievements of the Arroyo administration will somehow be acknowledged by the rating institution into changing its current negative rating on this area. In this aspect, the Philippines was ranked 3rd to the last at 56th place with a score of 9.888 in infrastructure.

Saludo said that certainly the Ro-Ro [roll on roll off], the nautical highway, the expressways that have been built, the airports and ports, tourism centers, the massive irrigation works that have been done exceeding a million hectares in new or rehabilitated areas plus our efforts at improving the power supply despite the brownouts this year, have improved our infrastructure for business and we hope that future surveys will acknowledge these.

Under the infrastructure sub-index which include basic infrastructure, scientific infrastructure and education, the country ranked 56th. However in health and environment it got a ranking of 48 and in technological infrastructure, it placed high at 29th. (PND)

Monday, 17 May 2010

PIA Dispatch - Monday, May 17, 2010

Livestock and poultry post gains in Q1 amid El Niño

The livestock and poultry subsectors managed to post modest gains in the first quarter of the year despite the onslaught of El Niño on key food-producing areas in the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said yesterday.

Crops like coconut, mango, tobacco, cabbage, cassava and onion also registered positive growth rates but their gains were not enough to offset the significant production losses from palay and corn, according to the first-quarter official report of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).

In general, Philippine agriculture contracted by 2.84%, along with its primary growth driver—the fisheries subsector—owing to the impact of the El Nino phenomenon on this sector, the same BAS quarterly report said.

Production losses in palay and corn for the first quarter were estimated at 300 thousand MT and 175 thousand MT, respectively.

Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla said “the Department is now reviewing protocols on water management in dams and irrigation systems nationwide, along with an array of other measures, to mitigate the adverse effects of future dry spells on Philippine agriculture and fisheries.”

“Alongside revisiting protocols on water releases from dams, the Department is also planning to expand its programs on small water impounding projects and communal irrigation systems, he said, to help mitigate the adverse impact of future El Niño attacks on farm yields.

Installing more water impounding and communal irrigation facilities, Fondevilla said, will allow farms to tap alternative water sources in case big dams dry up during El Niño-induced dry spells.

The DA will likewise stock up on drought-resistant seeds and will spearhead programs to either protect watersheds or reforest denuded ones, he said.

"So these are the things we can prepare for the future. Of course the other things are, we look at the way we are using up water as well. We need to look at our water sheds to make sure that they are either protected, and those that are already denuded, maybe we can embark with other agencies of the government to reforest them and renew them," Fondevilla said.

In its report, BAS said the livestock subsector grew by a modest 0.51% in the first three months of 2010, as production increases were recorded for hog, goat and cattle, while dairy posted a hefty 17.22% output gain.

The poultry subsector expanded 2.02% on the back of increases in chicken and chicken egg production of 1.81% and 4.43%, respectively.

These two subsectors accounted for close to 30% of the total agricultural output for the first quarter, BAS said.

It said the growth of the crops subsector, which shared 47.75% of the total agricultural production, dropped by 6.15% as palay posted production losses of 11.41% with 3.49 million metric tons and corn output at 1.6 million MT declined by 16.76% as compared to the same period last year.

"The dry spell caused by the El Niño pulled down area harvested and yield in the major palay producing regions of Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN, " the BAS said in its report.

Meanwhile, "yellow corn production was adversely affected by hot weather as area harvested in Cagayan Valley, SOCCSKSARGEN, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao  and Cordillera Administrative Region contracted in the first quarter of the year," BAS likewise noted.

The biggest gainer in the crops subsector was onion with an output increase of 11.22%. Coconut grew by 1.75%; banana by 1.26%; mango, 3.10%; tobacco, 9.66%; cassava, 6.99%; tomato, 7.05%; eggplant, 1.21%; and cabbage, 3.55%.

However, sugarcane, mongo and rubber posted big production cuts.

Total fisheries production, which accounted for 24.84% of the total agricultural output, dipped by 0.63% in the first three months of the year. Commercial and municipal fisheries posted production declines of 3.5% and 0.15%, respectively, but aquaculture managed to grow by 0.36%.

The impact of the dry spell on agricultural production would have been worse had the DA failed to retool its budget in the previous years to enable Philippine farms  to meet the twin challenges of this phenomenon along with increasing global free trade.

It allocated 86% of its P47 billion budget to various support services, such as the provision of flatbed dryers, corn drying centrals, fishports, and storage warehouses for farm produce; market linkages; strengthening of regulatory and disease eradication capabilities; and the establishment of satellite-based remote sensing and geographic information systems. 

Moreover, the DA strengthened its statistics and forecasting capabilities; developed and distributed climate-ready crops seeds, which are submergence, drought and disease tolerant; engineered climate-change adapted infrastructure for production and processing; enabled more financing for agriculture through innovative weather-based insurance  schemes;  and disseminated more information, knowledge and training in crops science and planting techniques. (DA Press Office)

PIA Dispatch - Sunday, May 16, 2010

DA salutes, rewards agricultural achievers

Ten agricultural achievers for the year 2010 in Zamboanga Peninsula were given recognition as Outstanding Gawad Saka winners with corresponding reward for their great contribution to agriculture, fisheries as well as community development.

For such distinction, they became celebrities while receiving trophy and cash award of P10-T each from DA thru Regional Executive Director Oscar O. Parawan during the awarding and culmination program of the two-day Regional Farm Family Forum held at Liga City, this city last May 4 and 5. 

Parawan in giving the awards was joined by Second District Congressman Antonio Cerilles, Agricultural Training Institute Director Asterio Saliot, Regional Technical Director Constancio Alama and other dignitaries present.

DA thru the regional executive director salute the following Regional Gawad Saka winners: Leonora Jukni of Barangay Datagan (Outstanding Large Animal Raiser) and Abundia Bodiongan of Kagawasan (Outstanding Small Animal Raiser), both from Pagadian City; Noel delos Reyes (Outstanding Rice Farmer) of Barangay Maloloy-on; Dindo delos Santos (Outstanding Young Farmer) of Barangay Culo and Adelberto Baniqued of Barangay Makugihon as Outstanding Farmer for High Value Commercial Crops.  The three are from Molave, Zamboanga del Sur.

Likewise, to Mr. & Mrs. Rogelio Maata and family of Brangay Maleyo, Dumingag - Outstanding Farm Family; Lakewood Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LAFAMCO), Lakewood- Outstanding Small Farmers Organization Cesar Malinao, Jr. of Venus, Sergio Osmena, ZamboNorte- Outstanding Corn Farmer

The same accolades were given to two Outstanding Barangay Bagsakans - at barangay Sanito, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay (LGU operated) and Mialim, Vitali, Zamboanga City  being a non-LGU operated.

The conduct of Regional Farm Family Forum was sponsored by DA Regional Field Office IX and the Agricultural Training Institute in celebration of the Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month this May.

It was an avenue for the farmers, 4-H Club and the rural improvement club (RIC) who are the rural based organizations (RBOs) from the three provinces and five cities in Region 9 converge for several activities such as sectoral meetings, lectures and competitions designed for 4H clubs. (DA-RAFID 9)

Lanao Norte rice farmers empowered through DA-FAO project

Rice farmers in pilot sites of Lanao del Norte are benefitting from a partnership project of the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Unit No. 10 (DA-RFU 10), the local government units and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The project, “Increasing Rice Supply by Improving Farmers’ Capability through Technical Assistance Trainings and Demonstration of Rice Production Technologies cum Small-Scale Irrigation Facilities” has extended farm inputs, production facilities, postharvest infrastructure and training support to farmers in rainfed lowland rice project areas in Barangay Pange, municipality of Baroy  and Barangay Gumagamot in Lala.

As part of the capacity enhancement component, the Farmers’ Field School (FFS) produced a total of forty-nine farmer-graduates from the two sites. These farmers have undergone a 14-week season-long technical immersion.

During the graduation ceremonies held on March 23 and 24 at Barangays Pange and Gumagamot, a number of farmer-graduates delivered testimonies of good harvest following the technology protocols taught to them through the FFS and trainings.  One farmer-graduate in Pange noted of a remarkable harvest of 10,150 kilos from a 2-hectare farm. In Gumagamot, Ms. Erlinda Pelit reported of a net income of P43,360 from a one-hectare production with 4.86 tons. These benefits were derived after these farmers applied the learnings from trainings and in the FFS and following the protocol of the technology demonstrations.

Local farmers also witnessed the comparative advantage of utilizing the recent rice production technologies as demonstrated on field.

Project Focal Person Cora Dumayaca reported that benefits of the project will be channeled to the farmer organizations and will be rolled-over to other local farmers.

Hon. Eleuterio Obial, Jr., Municipal Mayor of Baroy lauded the project implementers for considering extension of trainings to his farming constituents. “We are hopeful to have more farmers increase their production by application of learnings from field schools and trainings like this”.  Mayor Obial further added that through updated skills and information, farmers will be able to combat production-related problems, especially the effect of natural phenomena such as El Niño which, he reported, had affected more than 30 hectares in Barangay Pange. (Mae Odimyrl A. Morales, DA-NOMIARC)

PIA Dispatch - Friday, May 14, 2010

PGMA orders release of P.5-million for Pagadian hotel workers cooperative

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo directed the Department of Labor and Employment regional office here to release P500,000 for the Springland Employees’ Multipurpose Cooperative during her visit to the province this morning.

In her speech, President Arroyo said the fund would be used by the SEMC (aka Springland Young Workers’ Association) to put up Botika ng Barangay outlets in selected areas in and around the province and provide residents with affordable, quality medicines.

The President said the additional monetary assistance was given in recognition of the cooperative’s pioneering efforts to make good use of livelihood funding for micro, small and medium enterprises.

She told the gathering of local officials led by Zamboanga del Sur governor Aurora Cerilles, Representatives Antonio Cerilles and Victor Yu, Pagadian City mayor Samuel Co and hotel employees that SWYA had an impressive track record of improving themselves and their cooperative by putting to good use any and all opportunities – financial or otherwise.

She said that in 2001, during the infancy of her presidency, the President, through the DoLE regional office here, donated P200,000 to the SYWA which the cooperative used to build a fishpond beside the hotel.

Now, the very same fishpond provides the hotel and its guests the fresh aquatic produce it requires.

The President added that in 2008, she donated P500,000 which the SWYA used to put up an internet café and turn the hotel into a wi-fi zone.

DoLE undersecretary Lourdes Transmonte said that the hotel management had been deluged with requests for internet connectivity from hotel guests comprised mainly of foreigners so that they could “stay connected” with friends and loved ones wherever they may be.

Trasmonte added that the internet café now earns P1,500 a day for the hotel and cooperative.

President Arroyo lauded the SYWA for their efforts saying the “tripartite partnership” of government, private sector and employees has been successful in supporting entrepreneurs.

“This project reflects the success of the tripartite partnership during our administration to support entrepreneurs. It is part of the O in our 10-point BEAT-THE-ODDS agenda: opportunities for 6-10 million jobs, three million entrepreneurs by extending them loans and helping them become good managers, and one million hectares of agribusiness land,” the President said.

“Government was represented by DOLE, whose Workers Income Augmentation Program gave the initial funds. The coop first obtained a loan of P100,000 to develop the fishpond. Last year it received a boost of P476,000 for its internet café, which earns P1,500 a day,” she added.

The President pointed out that the MSMEs program of government is a continuing advocacy to help entrepreneurs earn additional income and improve their lives.

“In fact, from 2004 to 2009, government has lent to micro entrepreneurs throughout the country, through various conduits, a total of P 6-billion,” the President said.

The Springland Young Workers Association (SYWA) is a group of 65 wage employees of the Springland Resort, Hotel and Restaurant in Pagadian City. The association was granted P100,000 under the PRESEED program for the Training-Cum-Production (TCP) on Tilapia and Prawn Culture in 2001.

Due to its profitability the association was granted second tranche of loan amounting to P100,000 bolstering its fishpond’s marine production and was added with another by-product of aquaculture which is milkfish production.

SYWA is also a recipient of DOLE’s Promotion of Rural Employment through Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship Development (PRESEED) in the amount of P476,000.


Successful polls vindicate PGMA

Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Charito Planas said today President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was vindicated by the successful and generally peaceful May 10 national election that proved her critics wrong. 

“As the Administration was bombarded with various accusations of machinations ranging from ‘no-el’ (no election), failed election resulting in a vacuum in the presidency, a civil and military junta that will secure the position for PGMA to many other wild imaginations, the smooth and almost trouble-free polls last Monday, despite fears of technical malfunctions, refuted all these insinuations,” Planas said in a news conference in Malacanang.

Planas said the smooth conduct of elections is not just a significant democratic event, but also fulfills Arroyo’s commitment that the first automated elections will take place during her term.

“It is but fair to commend President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for all her quiet moves in gathering all the agencies and sectors concerned for the continuous support and belief in the constitutionally-mandated body in charge of elections, to ensure smooth, clean and orderly elections, and for keeping her word,” Planas said.

Planas also commended the Commission on Elections, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, teachers, poll watchers, volunteers, students and senior citizens who stood alert to guard the whole exercise and who added up to the safety nets of a computerized counting of votes.

Planas said the last polls resulted to many “firsts” in the history of Philippines. “This is the first time that winning local candidates were proclaimed the day after the election; the first time in the history of Philippine politics that almost all losing candidates conceded sooner than expected, and teachers expressing a sigh of relief and accomplishment a day or two after the elections,” she said.

“Let it be the kick-off point of future fraud-free, honest and orderly elections our country and our people deserve to have,” Planas concluded.


DOH cautions against government partnership with tobacco manufacturers

The Department of Health (DOH) today strongly urged all government agencies to refrain from establishing partnerships with and accepting donations from tobacco manufacturers as this goes against the country’s commitment to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“These donations and partnerships are packaged as corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of the tobacco industry”, explained Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral. She stressed that under Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, such CSR activities which involve the indiscriminate display of the tobacco manufacturer’s name or brand name may constitute a prohibited form of advertising. She also reminded the public that RA 9211 also bans cigarette and tobacco companies from sponsoring any sport, concert, cultural or art event which will involve advertisements of their products. Despite these restrictions however, Secretary Cabral observed that it had not deterred the tobacco industry from advertising its deadly products, albeit through alternative methods.

She cited a 2008 article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer which detailed how tobacco giant Philip Morris garnered seven top awards during the 43rd Anvil Awards of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. She also noted a photo last year showing the crowning of a college student as Miss Virginia Tobacco 2009 in the weeklong Tobacco Festival of Candon City, Ilocos Sur. Also in the photo with the young beauty queen were Administrator Carlitos Encarnacion of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), House Deputy Speaker Eric Singson, and Philip Morris Philippines Managing Director Chris Nelson.

Cabral lamented that the NTA’s job was not to protect and promote the tobacco industry but to help tobacco growers find an alternative source of livelihood.

Meanwhile, the 2009 Philippines’ Global Adult Tobacco Survey revealed that seven out of every ten (71.2%) Filipino adults noticed pro-cigarette advertising during the past 30 days from the time they were surveyed. Also, about three of every ten (29.1%) noticed pro-cigarette promotion during the same period.

“A stricter implementation of RA 9211’s provisions on advertising and promotions which will plug the loopholes currently being used by the tobacco industry can help save a lot of lives in the future,” Cabral further added.


RP now has tech transfer law, DOST lauds passage

A proposed bill that seeks to roll out mature and potentially important technologies generated by government-funded researches to the market was finally enacted into law recently after almost three years into legislation.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 10055, otherwise known as “An Act Providing the Framework and Support System for the Ownership, Management, Use, and Commercialization of Intellectual Property Generated from Research and Development Funded by Government and for Other Purposes” or the “Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009” into a full fledged national statute on March 23 at the Malacañan Palace. The new law is expected to serve as the blueprint for a nationally coordinated technology transfer framework of government-funded researches.

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro said that the whole science community is overwhelmed with this development.

“We are optimistic that this new law, a landmark policy on technology transfer will revolutionize the commercialization of technologies generated by researches funded by taxpayer’s money,” Sec. Alabastro said.

The enactment came after Congress approved in December 2009 the Senate version, Senate Bill 3416, authored by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara and co-authored by Senators Manuel Roxas II and Loren Legarda.  Senators Pia Cayetano, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Aquilino Pimentel, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Miguel Zubiri also served as co-sponsors.     

At the House of Representatives, Cavite 1st District Rep. Joseph Emilio A. Abaya was at the forefront of the Bill’s passage and served as its principal author. Angara and Abaya chair the Committees on Science and Technology at the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.

Speaking at PCARRD (Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development) recently, Sec. Alabastro expressed optimism of the law’s merit in uptaking technologies to the market as well as preventing brain drain and out migration of S&T professionals, and encouraging students to pursue R&D studies.

A key provision in the law provides for incentives to researchers by according them share in the royalties as well as allowing them put up their own start up companies. 

The law was Sec. Alabastro’s brainchild, having recognized the need for a national backbone and framework that would push technology generation and application to its maximum potential through efficient and coordinated transfer capability and intellectual property assertions around the country, similar to the Bayh-Dole Act in the US.

The S&T czar also lauded President Arroyo and Congress for taking into account such a much-needed legislation for the science and technology sector.

Alabastro explained that taking advantage of the new law would hasten the process of technology commercialization and broadens the scope of protection of intellectual property rights in government RDIs.

“For the longest time, we rely mostly on breakthroughs from outside, while our local technologies generated through public funds remain untapped or archived in laboratories around the country. Hence, this is a significant break for us to roll this out to the market and be availed by the public,” she added.

Once fully in place, the new law is expected to provide the mechanism to allow important technologies to be commercialized and be made available to the public.

Dr. Patricio S. Faylon, PCARRD Executive Director, meanwhile expressed elation with this development. He described this as a leap for the inter-agency policy advocacy collaboration and a feat in the Council’s policy development and advocacy mandate relating to S&T development.

PCARRD, the central planning council of DOST in the agriculture, forestry and natural resources has led the Department’s efforts in the Bill’s legislative advocacy and public awareness activities since 2006.

Meanwhile, the technical and financial support given by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Philippines, DOST Planning and Evaluation Service, and DOST councils and institutes were instrumental in the legislative advocacy of the law.  Currently, DOST and IPO are preparing the basis for the Act’s implementing rules and regulation (IRR).


MIRDC upgrades facilities to strengthen fire prevention

Fires caused by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder have been quite common in the country. From 1995 to 2000, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reported a total of 1,475 LPG-caused fire incidents throughout the country. From 2004 to 2008, BFP again recorded 756 fires caused by LPG tank explosions.

According to the LPG Association of the Philippines, half of the 12 million LPG tanks in the country today are not fit for public use. The group also estimates that out of the six million unfit LPG tanks, three million are for scrapping and could no longer be fixed. Another three million are for requalification or for inspection and certification by concerned government agencies

An LPG tank explodes and causes fire when it has considerable leak. This leak, which may emanate from the hose or from the burner, bursts once the LPG is ignited.  Thus, ensuring the safety of LPG cylinders becomes of utmost importance in preventing fire, particularly in high density household areas.

The Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratory by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Accreditation Office (PAO), has upgraded its fire prevention facilities to address the growing problem on LPG-related fires. Among the tests conducted by MIRDC on LPG cylinders are radiographic, tension and bending, and bursting. 

The radiographic testing detects internal welding defects of the weld joint portion of the LPG cylinder.  It is exposed to radiation with attached film using an industrial X-ray of 300 kVA capacity. 

Tension testing involves determining the tensile properties of both materials and weld joints (tensile strength, yield strength, and elongation) using test samples machined to specified dimensions, while bend testing determines ductility of the weld joint.  Both tests are done using a Universal Testing Machine (UTM). 

Meanwhile, in the bursting test, the finished LPG cylinder is subjected to a very high pressure using a hydraulic system.  A burst testing equipment is used to prove that the LPG cylinder will not rapture up to at least four times its designed pressure.

These testing processes employed by the MIRDC are in accordance with the Philippine National Standard (PNS).

LPG cylinders require mandatory certification issued by DTI’s Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) for local manufacturers and importers.  The local manufacturers are required to secure Product Safety (PS) mark, while importers have to secure the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC).

Recently, MIRDC’s facilities and expertise in providing technical requirements were featured in ABS-CBN’s morning television program Umagang Kay Ganda in collaboration with the DTI-BPS.