>> Friday, February 19, 2016

Musical contest ushers start of Panagbenga 2016
BAGUIO CITY -- Parading school children garbed in floral costumes accompanied by festive music that reverberated through the cool mountain air in this city last week kicked off the highly-anticipated 21st Baguio Flower Festival, known as Panagbenga.
A total of 11 elementary schools competed in the drum and lyre competition during the parade which traversed the city’ s main roads.
The participating schools were Baguio Central School, Aguinaldo Elementary School, Apolinario Mabini Elementary School, Dominican – Mirador Elementary School, Dona Aurora Elementary School, Don Mariano Elementary School, Josefa Carino Elementary School, Jose P. Laurel Elementary School, Lucban Elementary School, Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School and Pinget Elementary School.
Carrying the theme “Bless the Children with Flowers,” the month-long Panagbenga Festival seeks to underscore the importance of children to the event for the past two decades.
“Panagbenga is an event in the city which is awaited, that is why we are always coming up with innovations to improve the annual event,” said Anthony de Leon, executive co-chairman of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc.(BFFFI).
Vangie Payno, chief of staff and chairman of the Panagbenga parade committee said that Mabini Elementary School is expected to go all out in its title-retention bid.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan, co-chairman of the BFFFI said the festival is not just about impressing local and foreign tourists, but also away to spur economic activity and unity among the city’s businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Pangasinan town marks fish festival
BINMALEY, Pangasinan – This town, considered the province’s fishbowl, recently celebrated its bountiful harvest through the Sigay Festival with the simultaneous grilling of at least 400 kilos each of milkfish and tilapia. 
Municipal agriculturist Fernando Ferrer said fish came from local fishponds.
Grill pads were lined up around the municipal hall and a church for the outdoor grilling activity.
Ferrer said the town has about 3,120 hectares of fishponds, which produce milkfish and tilapia as well as prawns, shrimps and crabs.
He said Binmaley has the largest inland fishpond in the province and in the Ilocos region. 
“We may not be considered as the highest producer of bangus because we do not have fish pens and cages in rivers unlike in other towns, but we grow our products in fishponds” he said.
When Mayor Simplicio Rosario started the river cleanup here years ago, fish pens and cages were removed. Ferrer said no massive fishkill has been reported since. 
Some milkfish producers are still using the traditional way of bangus-raising, which involves the use of natural fish food, lamuyak or lablab. Others use commercial fish feed, he said.

Mayor urges taxpayers not to utilize fixers
BAGUIO CITY  -  With the full implementation of the electronic Business Process and Licensing System (e-BPLS) in the city government of Baguio, mayor Mauricio Domogan advised and urged taxpayers not to utilize fixers at city hall.
The city has set policies and procedures in the process of registration of new business, renewal of old permits and other transactions involving set up of additional lines of business, change of location, ownership or trade name, partial retirement, retirement of business and replacement of permit and certificates, thus, Domogan encouraged taxpayers to process their permits personally instead of utilizing fixers.
It is the goal of the system to speed up the processing time and eradicate the problem of fixers in the licensing systems.
However, despite of the faster processing time of business permits in the city now, there are still taxpayers who depend on fixers.
“Do not go to fixers.  Identify who the fixer is because that is the best way that we can stop it.  We do not tolerate this kind of undertaking,” said Domogan.
Also, government officials and employees are not allowed to transact business relative to obtaining or renewing business licenses in behalf of an owner of business for whatever reason and regardless of authority granted by the owner, stressed the mayor.  – Jho Arranz

Mt Province DILG office inaugurated
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The provincial office of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments is now housed in a building at the Bilibid
Compound in Upper Caluttit in his capital town.
Inauguration was Feb. 10 attended by staff and personnel of the agency attended by Gov. Leonard Mayaen, Interior regional sirector John Castaneda, Mayor Franklin Odsey, and local officials. The building was funded by the Performance Challenge Fund of the DILG in 2012 worth P7 million as an incentive of the province for garnering the Seal of Good Housekeeping award. P5.8 million was used for the construction while P1.2 was set for purchase of an emergency ambulance.
Mayaen, in his message cited additional P1.3 million in 2015 completed the first floor now occupied by the provincial office of the DILG.
Provincial director Anthony Ballug cited the need for the turnover of the building to the DILG even as more funds were needed to complete the 3-storey building.
“We will work out for the turn-over of the building to the DILG as technically the building is owned by the provincial government”, Mayaen said, considering the building stands on provincial lot.
The building was originally built as the Disaster Emergency Operations Center.

Abra group sets ‘one good vote’ campaign
BANGUED, Abra - - The Church Military Police Action Group (CMPAG)  here recently convened  to map out its  “One Good Vote”  campaign project for an honest and credible May 2016 elections. 
CMPAG  members come from ecumenical churches, security forces like the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, Commission on Elections, civil society and non-government organizations, media group, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the youth.
This project, organizers said,  aimed for honest, peaceful, just and meaningful elections.
Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian  said, “One Good Vote” is a clean and fair casting of vote by a person who has high probity and upright character.
There is a need to revive morality and spirituality in order to transform the society from the inert culture and easy-money ilk of the voting population, he said.
“A single morally sound vote makes the difference,” added Rev. Fr. Drexel Ramos of the PPCRV, the citizens’ arm during elections.
The project involves the use social media and all media outlets possible to imbibe in the mind of the public to deny all forms of vote buying. 
Also discussed during the meeting were preparations by the PNP and AFP with the possible scenario of the presence of potential partisan armed group by political parties, guns-for-hire and NPA remnants who would likely to disturb the flow of elections. -- Ginalyn B. Brioso

Kalinga gets P68 M  KALSADA fund
TABUK CITY, Kalinga - - The province of Kalinga is a recipient  of  a P68 million fund under the Konkreto at Ayos na LanSAngan, ang DAan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran or Kalsada program.
Francisco Gamatero, provincial director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government said, the fund has already been already downloaded by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the provincial coffer.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad earlier said P6.5 billion was appropriated in the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for rehabilitation and upgrading of provincial roads in 73 provinces, with the allocation of funds based on performance.
Provinces were selected based on their compliance with DILG’s Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping and submission to the DBM of their Local Public Financial Management Assessment Report, he added.
FlorMoldero, provincial planning and development coordinator, said the KALSADA fund  will be used for the continuation of the concreting of the Bulanao-Laya-Cabaruan provincial road.
Gamatero said Kalinga also received P7 million from the Performance Challenge Fund of the President for the concreting of the San Juan road section of the Bulanao-Dagupan road; P2.7M  for road signs  and another P2.7M share from the special local road fund – Motor Vehicle Road Users Tax for the concreting of STS Dagupan section of the same road.  -- Peter A. Balocnit

Checks released for Mt. Province development projects
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Checks were released last week by the government for projects under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) and Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) programs of the agency for 2016: PAMANA, P1.5 million for completion of evacuation center in Besao, P1.0 M for improvement of Caneo waiting shed, P6.0M for  improvement of waterworks in Tadian, and P20M for Betwagan Access Road in Sadanga.
Under the BUB: P5.0M for evacuation facility in Sadanga, P4.0M for the provision of potable water supply in Bauko, P3.0M for waterworks in Besao, P6.3 for waterworks in various locations in Natonin.  -- Roger Sacyaten

Ifugao town’s monitoring team evaluates 2 BUB projects
KIANGAN, Ifugao -- The local chief executive (LCE) warned of blacklisting of contractors due to failure to complete projects as per contract agreement.
This was one of the recommendations of the Project Monitoring Team (PMT) of this town in a recent a meeting convened to   clarify and resolve issues affecting the implementation of two the Bottoms Up Budgeting projects here - the Lingay Road Project (LRP) in Barangay Lingay costing P500, 000 and the Dalligan Road Project (DRP) in Barangay Dalligan costing P1 million.
Accordingly, Notice to Proceed for LRP was issued Sept. 21, 2015 and the start of the project as per contract was October 1, 2015 and to be completed in November 2015.
However, actual start of the project was  Nov.18 and actual accomplishment to date is only 33 meters of the target project length of 108 meters.
On the other hand, the Notice to Proceed for the DRP was issued on Sept. 21, 2015 and the expected start of the project was on Oct. 1, with project duration of 60 calendar days. The actual start was Oct. 19. Due to a suspension order to accommodate road right of way problem, completion date was adjusted to December 4, 2015.  Actual accomplishment is only 22.5 meters over the target 153 meters expected total project length.
Hearing all these issues, the PMT headed by Albert Indunan representing the civil society organization, recommended that aside from issuing warning for the possible blacklisting of contractors due to failure to complete the project as per contract agreement, the LCE to apply necessary actions based on existing rules and regulations.
Moreover, the Liquidation Damages for the projects will cover Nov. 23 to Dec. 8, 2015, and that the PMT should be furnished official copies of suspension orders, resumption orders, pouring permit and change orders.
It was also agreed  that  the PMT to hold dialogue with the contractors for negotiation regarding the incomplete projects as soon as possible and the PMT to continue monitoring the projects for  their speedy accomplishment in order to qualify for the 2016 BUB project. -- Daniel B. Codamon

4 Mt Province public schools  WASH program  beneficiaries
BONTOC, Mountain Province-- Four public schools in the province are among the 16 identified schools who will directly benefit from the school-based water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion with disaster risk reduction component project of the Australian Red Cross in partnership with the Philippines Red Cross (PRC).
According to Veronica Tactay of the Philippine Red Cross Mt. Province Chapter, the four schools are Bagabag Elementary School and Catao Elementary School of the municipality of Paracelis; ALBAGO National High School and Dalican Elementary School, both of Bontoc municipality.
The school-based WASH promotion project piloted in some areas in the Northern and Cordillera regions in 2011, reaches far flung areas in need of support to improve the current available and accessible facilities in the area.
Reaching more than 40 public schools throughout the regions, the Red Cross had contributed to decreasing the vulnerability of school children to WASH-related health risk.
Qualified to avail of the WASH promotion are schools that are identified as most at risk to WASH-related health issues due to limited or lack of water and toilet facilities.
Criteria in determining the schools that would need the intervention include the following: schools with low access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, schools with high incidence of water-borne diseases, schools with no capacity and resources to improve current situation, schools with enough space for possible construction of WASH facilities, and schools and stakeholders who are willing to accept, own and sustain the program.
Additional criteria include schools considered and used as evacuation centers, and schools with established Red Cross Youth Council. -- Juliet B. Saley

Ifugao opens application for SPES
LAGAWE, Ifugao - -  Application for  Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) for 2016 is now open to interested and qualified beneficiaries province wide.
The provincial government in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment is now accepting applications for the SPES for this summer.
Interested applicants are advised to submit the necessary papers to the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in their respective municipalities or the provincial PESO located at the Provincial Sustainable Development Division, Capitol compound in Lagawe town.
Requirements  include birth/baptismal  certificate (15-25 years old); barangay certificate of good moral character for out of school youth;  Form 138 or certificate issued by School Registrar showing average passing grade;  Income Tax Return of parents and two pieces  recent 2x2 ID picture.
Deadline of submission of application form is on February 20, 2016.  -- Marcelo B. Lihgawon

DOH to conduct mass deworming in  Kalinga
TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The health department in this province will conduct this month mass deworming among school children including senior citizens.
This will be conducted through a harmonized schedule and combined mass drug administration (MDA) for the prevention and control of lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis particularly among school children.
According to Dr. Bernadette Andaya, provincial health office head here, the mass vaccination involves their office, Department of Education, municipal health offices with the active participation of barangay health workers.
The activity aims to increase national and provincial MDA coverage to at least 85 percnt and to improve efficiency of health service delivery.
Drugs and medicines are already delivered here and ready for shipment to the different municipalities in Kalinga, Andaya said. -- Peter A. Balocnit

Tabuk allotted P18M to scholars in 2015
TABUK CITY, Kalinga – To assist poor but deserving students obtain college education, the city government released P18, 461,000 under its Education Assistance Program in 2015.
Mayor Ferdinand B. Tubban said under the program, the city supports 2,337 scholars with P3, 500 financial assistance per semester in college.
Last year, the amount released also covered previous unpaid obligations of the city to partner schools where beneficiaries were enrolled.
Aside from regular tuition support, performing students are also given cash incentives of P5, 000 each for graduating with honors and P2, 000 for those with citations and special academic awards.
Last March 2015, 317 had completed various courses. Dexter Pingi graduated cum laude from the International School of Asia and the Pacific while four others received academic awards.
Aside from helping produce professionals in Tabuk, the city government also include in the program to instill social awareness among beneficiaries through their involvement in community events like the annual City Matagoan Festival.
As enhancement support, selected scholars are called for trainings and seminars sponsored by the city government.
In the recent City Tourism Month celebration, many scholars participated in the youth summit as a highlight of the event.  –  Larry T. Lopez

CHED calls for nominations to research and publication awards
BAGUIO CITY --  The Commission on Higher Education urged higher educational institutions(HEIs)  to nominate their outstanding research and publication for nomination to CHED’s 2016 Republica Awards.
The Republica Outstanding Research and Publication) Awards is in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1994 (RA 7722). It aims to give recognition and reward to outstanding research outputs of higher education faculty researchers leading to significant advances in priority disciplines and contributing to national development at the same time, encourages research productivity and publication of research outputs in CHED accredited and internationally indexed journals.
The awards have three major categories, namely; Agriculture and National Sciences; Mathematics, Engineering and Information Technology, and Humanities, Social Science, Business and Teacher Education.
The award shall also be granted in two stages; first to identify and recognize qualifiers and the second to choose the winners of the Repub;ica  National Awards.
Eligible for nomination for Republica  qualifier awards are: CHED – funded research output published in any ISI/SCOPUS – indexed journal as well as in any CHED accredited non-SCOPUS journal within the last three calendar years prior to the award year; CHED funded research output that has been accepted for publication in an ISI/SCOPUS – indexed journal; and research paper included in conference proceedings that eventually gets published or accepted for publication in a CHED accredited/ ISI/SCOPUS – indexed journal.
All qualifiers that will be selected will qualify for the National Republica Awards that will be judged by the National Awards Board based on the quality of research (50%); Quality of Publication (30%) and Socio-economic relevance/potential impact to regional or national development (20%).
Cash prizes of P25, 000 awaits the REPUBLICA qualifiers while a trophy and cash prize of P300, 000 will be awarded to the winner in each of the three major categories.
HEIs can get  from and submit their nomination form at  CHED Regional office in Km. 6 La Trinidad, Benguet. Forms can also be downloaded from (under “What’s New”).
For more information, call MenzieKuengan of the CHED Cordillera Regional office at telephone number (074) 422 – 4052. -- Carlito Dar

Kalinga-Apayao tax collection increases but misses target
TABUK CITY, Kalinga, Jan. 20 (PIA) - - Tax collection of Kalinga and Apayao Revenue District Office grew last year by around 12 percent or an increase of P48 million from P359M in 2014 to P408M in 2015,  but still missed its  collection goal.
Hilario Boacon, Chief of Collection Section, said actual collection really increased with the bulk coming from withholding taxes particularly from government contracts. “However, we missed our collection goal for the past two years,” he admitted.
Collection goal for 2015 was set at P514 million but tax collection was pegged at around P408 million or a short fall of P107M.  In 2014, the revenue office also missed its P486 million collection goal by P127M.
Boacon attributed their shortfall last year to the water cut off of the Upper Chico Irrigation System halting rice farming in Tabuk plains. He said business slowed down affecting income from business which is the basis for taxable income.
BIR  is  only allowed 7.5% collection deficit, according to Boacon. “We are making efforts work to increase our collection,”  he said adding that they are subjected to the Attrition Law if they will not perform well. -- Peter A. Balocnit

Kapangan town crafts organic agriculture law
KAPANGAN, Benguet6  -- town officials here passed a  resolution adopting and institutionalizing the practice of organic agriculture to prop up organic farming among small farmers while promoting healthy living and preserving agro-bio diversity.
Municipal Ordinance Number 95 series 2015 is anchored on national policy on the practice of organic agriculture to promote healthy living, ecologically balance environment and global competitiveness.
It adheres to the policy and advocacy of the local government to help marginalized farmers to have sustainable livelihood for food security, provide quality and safe food and increase farmers’ income by adopting and practicing organic agriculture while preserving and sustaining agro-biodiversity.
Among the provisions of the measure are the creation of a Municipal Technical and Working Committee (MTWC) to carry out plans, projects, activities and policies in pursuit of the organic program; registration of organic farming practitioners through a comprehensive screening, proper labeling of organic produce and formulation of a workplan.
Vice Mayor Manny Fermin said small organic farm practitioners in the area have been engaged in the trade since 2012. Due to market demand and appreciation of healthy living, other farmers were enticed to go into organic farming increasing their number through the years. The measure aims to strengthen and attract more small organic farm practitioners into the trade.
To date, they have formed themselves into associations according to Municipal Agriculture Office head Peter Degawan Jr. One is a municipal-based group called Kapangan Organic Practitioners Association (KOPA) composed of around 30 members.
The two barangay-based organizations located in Taba-ao with around 20 members are UbodApunan Association for Better Living and the Abiang Purok Association for Better Living.  
In encouraging them to market their produce, Fermin said the local government provided a stall for them at the town’s public market to display their goods.
Degawan also informed that their office extend training assistance in enhancing the capabilities of the organic practitioners and likewise hold regular monitoring of their activities.
Fermin said people gradually appreciated the value of organically produced commodities even at the outset the pricing was relatively higher compared to those conventionally produced. -- Susan C. Aro

Baguio folks  urged to save water
BAGUIO CITY --  With  the  El Niño phenomenon affecting the country, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged everyone to conserve water and use it responsively.  
Everybody has the responsibility to save water  especially that  the city is hosting big events like the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA), the month-long Baguio Flower Festival in February , Philippine Military Academy graduation and the observance of Holy Week  in March which bring  thousands of foreign and local tourists, Domogan said.
According to Engr. Salvador Royeca, general manager of the  Baguio Water District,  more than 43,000 cubic meters of water is  being produced daily  from three main water sources- the  Mount Santo Tomas catch basin, four spring sources and 57 deepwells.
Domogan  encouraged the  public to  practice water conservation measures by avoiding excessive use of water.

DTI-Ifugao issues advisories to protect public welfare
LAMUT, Ifugao--  The Department of Trade and Industry recently issued advisories on text scams, door –to-door selling, official receipts and accredited shops.
 According to DTI-Ifugao, text scam is the most common scam. Dubious text messages are sent to cellular phone owners informing them that they have won a special prize in a raffle or a member of the family abroad needs a load. Phone owners should not entertain such text messages.
On door-to-door selling, the DTI advises the public to ask   for the home solicitation permit issued by the DTI and his identity to ensure the legitimacy of his business.
“When buying, the buyer should check first the product by opening it in front of the vendor to ensure the quality. Always ask receipts and   warranty cards as a proof of purchase to said products.”
Meanwhile, owners of repair and service shops in the province are encouraged to apply for accreditation for the promotion of quality service to the people and their business as a whole. -- Marcelo B. Lihgawon

Reform programs encourage 
LGUs  to perform better
TABUK CITY, Kalinga--  Government  reform programs are making local government units more responsive and competitive in good governance.
The Seal of Good Housekeeping and Seal of Good Local Governance of the Department of Interior and Local Government are among the reforms making impact to good local governance.  
Local government units that are awarded the seal are eligible to the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) of P7, 000 incentives for the province, P5, 000 for the city and P3, 000 for the municipality, to be utilized for development projects.
The latest incentive for performing LGUs is the Konkreto at AyosnaLanSAngan, angDAanTungosaPangkalahatangKaunlaran or KALSADA program.
Three of the Cordillera provinces- Benguet, Abra and Kalinga- are among the 32 provinces nationwide   that are recipients of huge amounts under KALSADA this year.
“LGUs now see the value of hard work and competence in local governance. If you don’t perform, you will receive lesser share from the development pie,” said Provincial DILG director Francisco Gamatero.
He informed that local chief executives and other  concerned  offices  will  oriented on February 9-10 on the seal of good local governance.  -- Peter A. Balocnit

DTI approves P8.5-M shared service facilities in Mt. Province
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The Department of Trade and Industry approved in 2015 the total amount of P8, 523,105.00 for 12 Shared Service Facilities (SSF) projects in the province.
DTI’s SSF program aims to improve the competitiveness of micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) by providing them with machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system. The program is implemented with project partners termed as cooperators.
Mabel Banggawan of the DTI Provincial Office here said the SSF on loom weaving was launched on January 10, 2015 with the Caneo Women’s Organization in barangay Caneo, Bontoc as the cooperator; SSF on muscovado processing upgrading   launched on November 19, 2015 with the Masla People’s Organization in Masla, Tadian as cooperator, and SSF on arabica coffee which was launched last December 16 with Madchikom Coffee Producer Cooperative as cooperator.
This January, the DTI launched two SSF on loom weaving with the Guinzadan Weavers Organization in Guinzadan Sur, Bauko and the Maggon Rural Improvement Club in Supang, Sabangan as cooperators.
Launching of the SSF on Arabica coffee with the Mountain Province Association of Coffee Growers as cooperator is also scheduled later this month.
The DTI provincial office has also scheduled on February 2016  the launching of the SSF on sweet potato processing for the Ubaya Food Processors Association, SSF on food processing for the Bauko Overseas Workers and Returnees Association, SSF on coffee processing for the Anabel-Sadanga Multi-purpose Cooperative, SSF on coffee processing for the Sagada Arabica Coffee Growers and Processors Organization, and the SSF on muscovado sugar processing for the Bagnen-Balintaugan Timpuyog Credit Cooperative
Launching of SSF on organic fertilizer production for Seven Daffodil Organization of Organic Farming will be in March.
Under the SSF Project, DTI awards equipment aid to recipient cooperator under a six-year conditional grant. If recipient cooperator stops its business operation or if equipment is not being used for the purpose, DTI can recall the equipment and awards the same to another cooperator.
If the business opened by cooperator- beneficiary grows and surpasses the six-year conditional period, DTI turns over to the cooperator full ownership of the equipment. -- Juliet B. Saley

Coalition pushes community involvement  for Balili River
BAGUIO CITY- - The Balili River System Revitalization Coalition (BRSRC) will go beyond cleaning up activities and will push for community involvement in the protection of the Balili River.
This was agreed upon during the BRSRC Action Planning Workshop held at the University of the Philippines- Baguio on January 21.
Dean Aurea Sandoval of Benguet State University pointed out that the clean-up activities they have spearheaded in the past have not much of an impact in the revitalization of the Balili River.
University of the Cordilleras Director for Research and Development Center, Engr. Nathaniel Lubrica  seconded that fully revitalizing Balili River will not be successful with just clean-up drive; it  needs community involvement .
Proposed activities to encourage community involvement include “Adopt a Community” project wherein different institutions will adopt barangays within the stretch of the river and educate the residents about protecting this important river system.
Aside from pushing for behavioral change, the education campaign will also give focus on the improvement of the governance of barangay officials with regards to the environment.
The BRSRC formed in 2011 includes the Environmental Management Board - Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the academe and local government units of Baguio City and La Trinidad, government offices, private/industry partners and civil society group. -- Via Perez

BWD assures enough water supply in Baguio
BAGUIO CITY-- The Baguio Water District said the city has enough enough water supply  even with  with the  expected influx of visitors  due to  various upcoming events and the effects of El Niño.
BWD general manager Salvador Royeca said his office has been preparing for the El Niño phenomenon with the adaptation measures to reduce its impact.
“The Baguio Water District constructed a lot of canals or ditches for our watersheds to capture the run of water especially with the less rainfall being experience here in the Cordillera and with the announcement that we are going to have an El Nino,” Royeca said during the Kapihan sa Baguio forum  on Thursday.
He also bared that they have preserved the water collected at the Mount Santo Tomas catch basin which will be utilized until the Panagbenga and even up to March.
Royeca said the city has varying water demands especially with the expected thousands of tourists during the Panagbenga festivities, the Philippine Military Academy Foundation Day and Graduation Rites and the observance of Holy Week. The average demand is around 50,000 to 55, 000 cubic meters per day but it may increase to 100,000 cubic meters per day depending on number of people in the city.
The BWD at present has 65 pumping stations, 57 deep wells and five spring sources where it gets the supply of water rationed to residential homes, business establishments and government facilities.
Even with the assurance of enough water supplies in the city, Royeca encouraged the public to practice water conservation. He also called on the public to help in the preservation of the watersheds and other water sources which are slowly diminishing. – Lalaine Galagala- 

Tabuk City’s real property tax collection up
TABUK CITY, Kalinga--  The city’s real property tax collection performance in 2015 increased by 13percent  compared  to the previous year.
Olivia Mendoza of the City Treasurer’s Office reported total collection of P6, 000,756 for the period over the P5, 268,956 in 2014.
Real property taxes of the city come from four major sources that include taxes on agricultural property posting the top with P2,669,109, residential – P1,848,977, commercial - P1,473,649 and industrial with P9,019.
According to Mendoza, the city has sustained annual growth in real property tax collection because of improved efforts on massive tax mapping, intensified tax campaign at the barangay level and massive information-education drive.
She admitted though there is still high need to educate people on taxation which  is considered as government’s life blood. Real property taxes accrue to the government’s general fund while the other half goes to Special Education Fund.
Mendoza urged eal property tax payers to avail of the 20% discount for advance payments made every December of the preceding year and the 10% discount for payments made in the first quarter of the year. Late payments are charged additional 2% monthly penalty fee.  -- Larry T. Lopez     

Million volunteer run 
reset  Feb 6 in Baguio
BAGUIO CITY ) - - The Philippine Red Cross (PRC)- Baguio City Chapter has re-scheduled the Million Volunteer Run3   on Feb.  6 as part of the Pangbenga 2016 activities.
The run, a humanitarian run which is participatory and non-competitive, aims to raise funds for the capacity building of the organization.
For a three kilometer run, the registration is P400, P450 for the 5 k.m. and P500 for the 10 km run, all inclusive with a singlet, race bib, and a runner’s card which name will be posted on the Red Cross website.
Annie Tamayo, PRC Baguio administrator, is inviting everyone to support the worthwhile activity which will help those who are in need.
Newly installed city police director Senior Supt. George Daskeo committed to send a big number of police contingent. At the same time the police will act as marshals and manage the traffic to ensure safety of the runners.  
Interested runners may register with race director Che Alberto (cellphone No.  09177450378) at Laperal Building, Session Road at and race coordinator Gerald Alejo Jr. (09082853788) at Baguio Red Cross office.  -- Joseph Zambrano

BFAR releases 300,000 tilapia fingerlings for Abra fisherfolk
BANGUED, Abra - - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources regional office  released this month a total of 300,000 tilapia fingerlings  to  the province.
According to Provincial Fishery Officer Mr. Jesus Astrero, these fingerlings are distributed to fish folks and fish pond owners in the municipalities of Lagangilang, Sallapadan, Peñarrubia, Lagayan, Bucay, Pilar, Bangued, Dolores, San Juan, Tubo and Tayum.
 “Other tilapia fingerlings will be placed in communal body of water or rivers while fingerlings left in the office will be dispersed in Calaba River,” he said.
These fingerlings are expected to grow in number to help the community have additional source of living.
The first stock of fingerlings from BFAR was requested by Governor Eustaquio P. Bersamin to augment the loss resulting from strong typhoons that struck the province last year.  -- Ginalyn B. Brioso

Abrenian youth shine in UP Namnama Regionals
BANGUED, Abra --  Abrenian youth delivered a good fight during the UP NAMNAMA Regional Sirib Quiz Show ken Saririt Cultural Festival Events  in  Bacnotan, La Union last January 6 and 7.
With 25 participating elementary schools from Abra, Baguio, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union, Divine Word College of Bangued (DWCB) Grade School Department landed first runner up next to Saviour's Christian Academy of Ilocos Norte.
Beatriz Angelica Bernardez of DWCB bagged first place in English Essay Writing. Jonathan B. Tugadi of An-Anaao Elementary School, Hannadyn Balaoro of Bangued East Central School and Keziah Vojtylla Bigornia of Bangued West Central School are third-placers in poster-making, vocal solo and Ilocano declamation respectively.
In the high school category participated by 36 schools, DWCB’s Irvin Jeremy Tamayo won first place in the poster-making contest, and Ralph Angelo Guzman of Holy Cross School in 2nd place. The Holy Spirit Academy of Bangued dance troop also won in the in the folkdance contest,
Other events in the regionals were declamation contest in Ilocano and English; short story writing in English and Filipino; impromptu speaking in Ilocano, Filipino and English; oration in Ilocano and English, Quiz Bee, Bucanegan Debate Tournament, Chorale Competition, and Speech Choir.
Regional winners will vie for the Patalasan lahi in the nationals.
This year’s theme, “Illuminating the Tapestry: Strengthening the Strands of Ilocano Culture through Youth Involvement in Nation-building” aims to increase the consciousness of the youth in their culture while developing their acumen.
The Regionals was organized and facilitated by UP Namnama Diliman and Baguio. -- Ginalyn B. Brioso

PSA Baguio Serbilis outlet serves 1,410 clients daily
BAGUIO CITY - -  Just  a month into the new year, the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Baguio Serbilis Center  is already experiencing an influx of clients getting civil registration documents especially birth certificates.
PSA data shows that from January 4 to 13, the center is averaging 1,410 clients a day and going as high as 1,608 clients in January 11h compared to the 914 daily average clients for the year 2015.
Center Manager Gerard Tolito, in interview, explained that   the shift in school calendar is the first reason in the rise in the number of daily clients. Second semester starts this January many parents and students are getting birth certificates for enrolment purposes.
 Another reason is for local employment especially in the application for Philippine National Police recruits. Applicants are getting seven authenticated copies of their birth certificate, he added.
Tolito assured that PSA Baguio Serbilis outlet is always ready to respond to the challenge with the hiring of eight new staff to augment the personnel manning the six client/public assistance computers.
He also informed that PSA has six collection officers with two assigned to the priority lane to assist senior citizens, person with disabilities and pregnant/nursing mothers.
Tolito advises the public to plan ahead and come on lean days or months as birth certificate has no expiration if it will be used for enrolment purposes. He also appeals to those getting their civil registration documents not to bring companions especially children so that they will not add-up to the crowd inside the center.
Tolito also calls on the public to utilize the PSA’s BREQS (Batch Request Entry System) partner wherein for a little added amount, they can save travel time or avoid the long line at the Baguio Serbilis outlet.
PSA-CAR’s BREQS partners   provincial offices in Abra and Ifugao, and the  local government units of Paracelis, Bontoc, Tadian, Bauko and Barlig in Mountain Province; Balbalan and Tinglayan in Kalinga; Dolores Abra; Pudtol and Kabugao in Apayao,  and Kabayan, Buguias, Bakun and Tublay in Benguet. 
The public can also get their civil registration documents in SM City Baguio, he added. -- By Carlito Dar

Baguio moves up rank among cities
BAGUIO CITY — Tourism, education and sports, peace and order, health and social services, environment are among the accomplishments last year, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said. The mayor recalled that in 2014, Baguio was ranked 15th among the country’s 142 cities. Now, he takes pride that the city has gone up two notches to No. 13 based on national comparative ratings. He said concerted efforts must be taken to update and implement income-generating endeavors to improve the city’s ranking.

Ilocos Norte triples its scholarships grantees
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — To provide quality education for Ilocanos, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte headed by Gov. Imee Marcos gave a total of 1,919 scholarships grants last year.
In academic year 2014-2015, there were 459 recipients of the Sirib Academic Scholarship, according to the Provincial Education Office.
In the following school year, the number tripled with a total of 1,460 students benefiting from the Sirib Academic Scholarship, also known as the Sirib Community Leaders Scholarship.
Scholarship programs paved the way for training youth leaders, particularly through involvement in the Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (SIKA) that promotes volunteerism among youth through working together for the development of their respective communities.
Since 2010, the Ilocos Norte government has shouldered over 39,000 elementary, 16,000 high school, and 3,000 college scholarships.
Widening opportunities for learning has been an aim of Marcos, reflected in her vision for Ilocos Norte as a learning hub and learning community, hence the establishment of the “Heroes Walk” on Ablan Avenue to educate passersby on Ilocano heroes’ heritage.
Access to information technology is also a vital part of this goal, and in the past year alone, 38 i-Hubs have been established and 650 computer units have been distributed throughout the different cities and municipalities.
Making education more inclusive is in line with the province’s aim to alleviate poverty and eliminate unemployment, translating into a higher human development index and sustainable livelihood for Ilocanos.
These endeavors propelled the province in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations initiative established in the year 2000.
“We have done what we set out to do, exceeding poverty, employment, education, maternal health, and reforestation. From the alarming increase in poverty in 2010, poverty has now fallen to a record of 8.4%,” she said. – Freddie G. Lazaro

Mountain Province, Benguet
barangays forge sisterhood ties
SABANGAN, Mountain Province -- Officials of barangay   Tambingan here recently forged memorandum of agreement of sisterhood with barangay Betag of La Trinidad, Benguet to foster understanding, friendship and goodwill.
The Sangguniang Barangay of Betag headed by Punong Barangay Peter D. Comila and Tambingan led by PB Cedric Rommel V. Likigan inked the MOA.
Both parties agreed to nurture and encourage friendship and cooperation between the two local government units and their constituencies through mutual sharing of the barangay best practices; provision of technical expertise and assistance in the area of promotion and development of the eco-tourism industry, including exchange of culture and education through exchange programs and education tours.
They also agreed to enhance trade relations on agricultural products, livestock and promotion of local handicrafts and strengthen educational and cultural relations with each party through scholarships, environmental research and eco-tours. They shall also strive to keep an open communication line for the possibility of forging joint ventures. -- Juliet B. Saley

Change of name of local hospital in Benguet sought
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The  Benguet  Sangguniang Panlalawigan urged the  National Historical Commission of the Philippines to approve renaming of  a provincial government supervised  hospital in the  province.
The change of name was sought for Kapangan Medicare Community Hospital” (KMCH) to be renamed “Kapangan Community Hospital”.
Board Member Esteban Piok, who authored the measure, said the word “Medicare” is rendered obsolete, thus the proposed deletion.   
The hospital was called the Kapangan Medicare Community Hospital since Sept. 23, 1982  after the Philippine Medical Care Commission (PMCC) which administered the former Medicare program. This is now called the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The hospital is under the supervision of the provincial governor pursuant to  the Local Government Code of 1991 which devolved the management of all hospitals except for some selected medical centers to the provincial local government units. -- Susan Aro


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