>> Thursday, December 15, 2016

SSS offers loan restructuring
BANGUED, Abra -- Worried of penalties on delinquent loans and nothing left from your retirement benefits from the Social Security System?
Here's the solution SSS is offering its members to be able to settle their delinquent loans.
Edward Urua, Manager of SSS - Bangued Branch,   announced their amnesty program for delinquent loans to address the problem of SSS members with difficulty in paying their loans that have been long overdue and have already accumulated interests, penalties and surcharges.
Based on the SSS loans amnesty program, delinquent loans are allowed restructuring whereby only the principal amount of loan plus interests are to be paid waiving all the penalties and other surcharges in order to ease the burden of the members .
 Members with delinquent loans are advised to visit the SSS Office located at the Seares Building along Rizal Street, Zone 5, Bangued, Abra to avail of the amnesty program. -- Maria Teresa B. Beñas

NLEX opens two lanes on Pampanga segment
CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga – North-bound motorists passing through the Dau-Sta. Ines segment of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) can now travel faster, safer and more conveniently with the inauguration of additional two lanes last week.
Rodrigo Franco, president and chief executive officer of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) said the Dau-Sta. Ines segment was converted into a two-lane, two-way road from being a one-lane, one-way route.
The NLEX segment can now accommodate more vehicles and traffic is expected to improve.
Franco said the construction of the four-kilometer, two-way lane segment cost P235 million.
The construction started in March and set for completion next year. The MNTC and its  contractor fast-tracked it in time for the holiday season.
Franco said fare toll hike petitions for 2012, 2014 and September this year have been submitted to the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), which has yet to act on the matter.
“That is why no toll hikes were applied during the said period,” Franco said.
He said the TRB slashed the toll rates in 2006 and 2008.
Meanwhile, MNTC chief operating officer Raul Ignacio said that all major road works in the expressway would be temporarily suspended starting Dec. 15 to ease traffic. -- Ramon Efren Lazaro

Inter-town vehicles barred from picking city passengers
BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prohibiting inter-municipality public utility jeepneys (PUJs) from picking up passengers along Baguio PUJ routes and providing penalties for violators of the same.
The ordinance authored by councilors Benny Bomogao, Faustino A. Olowan and Michael Lawana stated inter-municipality vehicles refer to public utility jeepneys or vehicles that come or leave from their original route or terminal area in a municipality or city or province and enter another city or province to deliver its passengers or baggage to final point of destination but passing through the route of PUJ franchise holders within the city.
Under the proposed ordinance, all public utility inter-municipality vehicles shall not be allowed to load passengers within the city and along routes already covered by public utility vehicles granted franchise by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to operate within the city.
The ordinance provided any aggrieved party may initiate or lodge his or her complaint to the proper court or to the LTFRB for proper disposition.
However, the penalties to be imposed by the LTFRB for violation of traffic rules and regulations shall be distinct from the penalties that will be provided by the ordinance and any findings of capability by the LTFRB shall require the violator to pay the corresponding penalty to the City Treasury Office.
Any public utility vehicle operator, driver or owner found to be violating the ordinance shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P3,000 for the third offense.
Resolution No. 115, series of 2014 was passed supporting Resolution No. 01, series of 2014 of the Traffic and Transportation Management Committee (TTMC) entitled “Prescribing the Guidelines on the Operation of Public Utility Jeepneys Originating from Outside the City of Baguio (Inter-Municipality PUJs) with Destination Towards Baguio.”
Despite this resolution, the ordinance noted the PUJs coming from outside still ignore the tenets of the resolutions.
Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio ruled Resolution No. 115, series of 2014, by its temporary nature will be revised, amended or abandoned, and the court acceded that even during rush hours, commuters with the bulk comprising students and employees line up in long queues with no jeepneys in sight. In such extraordinary situation when there are no available jeepneys with intra-city routes available, it may be highly impractical to have an absolute prohibition on all jeepneys with inter-city routes not to pick up passengers and perhaps, a modification of the resolution to accommodate instances as cited be helpful. -- Dexter A. See

PCIC to farmers: Avail of free crop insurance 
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) urged Benguet farmers to avail of free crop insurance benefits before the year ends as funds are still available. 
PCIC regional manager Florentina Pugal extended the invitation to farmers during the Farmer’s Event in the recent Adivay Festival. 
PCIC is the country’s sole crop insurance provider. It is mandated to provide insurance protection to qualified farmers and other agricultural stakeholders against losses of their crops and produce, including their farm machineries and equipment, transport facilities and related infrastructure arising from natural calamities, pests and diseases, and other perils beyond their effective control. 
The PCIC office is based in Urdaneta, Pangasinan but they established an extension office in Bekkes, Abatan, Buguias to cater to farmers in the province, Pugal informed.
PCIC marketing and sales division vhief Raul Servito said 1,180 farmers availed of free insurance services of the PCIC.
The amount of P12.397 million has not been utilized for 2016. 
Farmers who   availed of the free insurance are those engaged in crops such as high value commercial crops which compose majority of farmers while some are palay and corn producers. There were also those engaged in livestock and fisheries and those with non-crop implements insurance such as farm machineries, equipment and transport facilities.
Only 54 insured farmers affecting their high value commercial crops were able to claim for indemnity with an aggregate amount of P1.035 million damaging their crops during the onslaught of past typhoons. 
Pugal said those interested to avail of the free crop insurance benefits should apply first before planting. They may seek the help of their respective Office of the Municipal Agriculturist in their towns for assistance.
The required documents for such crops are accomplished application form for insurance, parcellary or location map, list of growers if applicable and other documents that may be required by PCIC.
 For further details, interested farmers may contact the PCIC regional office in Urdaneta, Pangasinan through telephone numbers (075) 632-3248/632-2787, mobile no. 0928-174-7453 or email them at -- Susan C. Aro 

TESDA Kalinga gets P4.6M for free training of 643 students
CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga -- The Provincial Training Center of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority here received  P4.6 million for the free training of 643 students under the Training for Work Scholarship Program.
Greg Bagtang of PTC invited students to train on short courses at the PTC and seven TESDA accredited tech-voc institutions in the province.
“Seven accredited schools namely C+ACT College, Business and Entrepreneurship School of Technology, Cherwai, St. Louis College of Bulanao, Kalinga State University, and the Kalinga Polytechnic School are given slots depending on the course offering. But the PTC will absorb the bulk of students as it offers various registered courses.
Meanwhile, Bagtang also informed that the skills mapping of TESDA is still on-going in the barangays. He urged barangay officials to assist TESDA for the early completion of the project since the data to be gathered will be used in planning future training needs of the provincial manpower resource.-- Peter A. Balocnit

51 new cops complete Combat training
LAGAWE, Ifugao -- Fifty one new members of the Ifugao Police Public Safety Company recently completed training on police intervention and combat.
These IPPSC members, will be assigned to municipal police stations of the province. Meanwhile, the Provincial Advisory Council (PAC) held its last meeting for 2016 presided by police provincial director Constancio Chinayog Jr. at the provincial police headquarters.
The agenda included orientation of new members who were recruited as part of the expansion activity of the council, election of PAC chairman, presentation of police accomplishment report and basic E-learning for PAC members. 
The PAC was formed in 2014 to advise and assist the Ifugao Provincial Police Office identify programs, projects and activities to improve crime prevention, solution and public safety. It has provided valuable insights to police in aligning the IPPO’s policies, plans and programs with political, socio-economic, cultural and moral development needs of the province. It also assisted the IPPO in generation of resources to support and sustain its plans and programs. -- Daniel B. Codamon

Heifer provides aid to typhoon-affected 4Ps families in Kalinga
CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga -- Selected Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps families affected by typhoon ‘Lawin’ in areas covered by Heifer- Philippines received assistance last week.
Beneficiaries numbering to 85 in Pinukpuk and this city were given each four pieces G.I. sheets to repair damaged piggeries while 45 families in Quezon in Isabela province were given eight pieces G.I. sheets to rebuild totally damaged cow sheds and four pieces for partially damaged ones.  They were also given a kilo each of roof nails. 
Moreover, 667 4Ps families in Kalinga received nine kilos each of certified palay seeds while 40 families got 40 bags corn seeds. In Quezon, Isabela, 300 families got palay seeds and 27 for corn.
Recipients of vegetable seeds are 640 families in Pinukpuk and Tabuk City and 800 in Quezon.
Earlier, after Lawin cut power to thousands of households in Northern Luzon, Heifer also distributed seven generator sets in seven barangays of Pinukpuk and 15 in Quezon.
To heighten preparedness against calamities, two hand-held radios and seven megaphones were given to Pinukpuk while 15 megaphones and a pair of two-way handheld radio were also given to Quezon barangays.
Olowan Dom-oguen, program officer of Heifer Northern Philippines said funding of this assistance was provided by Heifer International based in the United States under its special fund for disaster. “A rapid assessment on damages was conducted which form part of the basis for the approval of Heifer’s relief aid,” he said. 
On the other hand, Sison Paut, director of the International Association for Transformation and a partner of Heifer, said the assistance is all in support to sustain Heifer projects. 
“In behalf of beneficiaries, I express our thanks to Heifer for helping typhoon affected poor families in its areas to move on,” he said. -- 
Peter A. Balocnit

93 barangays in Ifugao  drug-free
HUNGDUAN, Ifugao -- The Ifugao Provincial Police Office reported there are 93 illegal drug-free barangays in the province.
In Hungduan, all nine barangays are drug-free with the help of community people and local officials.
This was disclosed by Hungduan police chief Senior Insp. Rodolfo Fateg in an   interview over Radyo Kiphodan 99.1 FM in Lagawe town.
Fateg said police personnel conducted validation to all barangays in a bid to determine if there are still drug personalities.  Barangay chairmen issued certification attesting to absence of illegal drugs in their respective areas.
 “This is the result of the harmonious working relationship of the police, municipal and barangay officials and the community. The people are bent on eradicating illegal drugs in the municipality,” Fateg added.
He said to sustain this good standing, the personnel of Hungduan Municipal Police Station intensified their anti-illegal drug advocacy campaign to the various schools and barangays.
Fateg urged Hungduan folks to report illegal drug users or  pushers. -- Marcelo B. Lihgawon

PRDP projects to revive Kalinga coffee industry
CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga-- Two multi-million farm-to-market road projects funded by the World Bank under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) are seen to resuscitate the dwindling coffee industry in the province.
Kalinga is a recipient of P130 million fund for the 13-kilometer Banneng-Gombowoy farm-to-market road (FMR) in Tanudan municipality and P180-M 15.8-kilometer Bulanao-Amlao FMR in this city.
Both projects are now on-going to improve road access to the province’s top coffee-producing barangays.  
Recent findings of the Kalinga Coffee Council, however, had shown how coffee production had dropped due to several factors.  
From the original 5,550-hectare coffee production area, what is left is about 3,427 hectares due to massive conversion of coffee lands into corn farms since 2014, records show.
At good market condition, traders, here buy a kilo of dry coffee beans at P85-95.
Now, host barangays of these PRDP projects are encouraged to revert to coffee production.
Department of Agriculture-CAR Director Lorenzo Caranguian disclosed there is high request by residents in these areas for coffee seedlings.
Provincial Agriculturist Domingo Bakilan added another indication of the province’s coffee industry getting revived is the intent of new sectors going into coffee production seeing the fresh support provided.
Because of the relatively distinct taste and aroma of the Kalinga coffee, there evolved the new line of business on coffee processing and now there are at least six brewed coffee processors in the province.
Trade and Industry Provincial Director Grace Baluyan reported products of local coffee processors are gaining shares in the local and national markets, and even abroad.
With the completion of the projects and approval of similar project proposals by the province and city LGUs, coffee industry is seen to become again a top source of living in Kalinga. -- Larry T. Lopez   

Pampanga ‘green’ firms cited
SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The city government has recognized local companies and business establishments that complied with environmental laws and regulations.
Mayor Edwin Santiago said the recognition was part of the city’s observance of the National Environmental Awareness and Clean Air Month.
Santiago said among those awarded are the San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp., San Fernando Beverage Packaging Plant, Metal Closure and Lithography Plant San Fernando, San Miguel Brewery Inc., SM City, Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc. and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Medical Center Inc.
The city government conducted activities promoting environmental awareness, preservation and protection.
Among these events were the eco-bag painting and the jingle and lantern-making contests.   -- Ric Sapnu

Baguio execs ask Duterte P200M to rehab BCC
BAGUIO CITY – The city government requested President Rodrigo Duterte to allocate P200 million for the rehabilitation of the Baguio Convention Center, the city’s primary venue for conferences and other large gatherings.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan last week signed city council Resolution No. 269 series of 2016 stressing on the need to improve the facility considering the city’s status as a tourist and convention destination. 
“The Government Service and Insurance System building, now Baguio City Convention Center, has been the over-all arena, stadium, amphitheater or auditorium of all gatherings, occasions, or activities held or sponsored by the City Government, nongovernmental organizations or stakeholders,” the city council noted in the resolution authored and jointly considered by the all councilors.
They said the facility “needs improvement so that in the future it may host bigger events and activities and can accommodate a bigger number of individuals compared to its present capacity with a wider lobby or reception area.”
“In fact, there is a need to modernize the Baguio City Convention Center for it to comply with local and international standards.  This building can be gentrified into a multi-purpose building by improving or replacing the existing structure, it can possibly be the podium of a world class multi-purpose building in the city,” the council said in the resolution.
Since the city’s purchase of the center from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in 2011, it has only introduced pocket improvements to the facility due to limited funds.
The 7,100-square meter, 2000-seater facility is considered historic.  It was constructed in 1973 through the initiative of former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos when she was the head of the Ministry of Human Settlement purposely to host the world chess championship match between Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.
It was owned and managed by the GSIS until 2003 when the city and former GSIS general manager Winston Garcia entered into an agreement for the city to purchase the facility.  The purchase was perfected in 2011. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

Lamut sets rules on posting of advertising materials
LAMUT, Ifugao --  To do away with the unwanted postings of advertising materials even in government structures, the town council here set policies governing such activity. 
Municipal Ordinance No. 2016-18-08 authored by Vice Mayor Adryan B. Chaguile with Councilors Maria Victoria Grace Macadaeg, Joseph In-uyay and Napoleon Belingon as co-authors,  provided common  posting  area for advertisement and prohibits  posting in government structures by  commercial and private individuals or group who intends to promote their products and other similar promotions within Lamut town. 
Other prohibitions included posting/hanging in the advertising area without securing first the permit, and materials made out of thin plastic.
The LGU through the municipal treasurer shall designate a maximum of five common advertising areas in the municipality with corresponding payments while the Engineering Office will create a plan for the construction of the advertising structure.
All advertisements to be posted shall be first submitted to the Municipal Treasurer for assessment of the fees to be paid. After payment, the advertisement shall be stamped in the office of the mayor stating therein the amount paid; the number of copies and the duration.
However, exempted are advertisements needing widespread dissemination by the LGU related to its programs and services and other government agencies in line also with their program as approved by the municipal mayor.
Any person, association or organization that will violate the provisions of the ordinance will be penalized accordingly. -- Marcelo B. Lihgawon

DOLE gives P1.9M to Abra organizations for livelihood
BANGUED, Abra – The Dept. of Labor and Employment recently released  funds for procurement of production facilities and equipment for two rural organizations in the municipalities of San Juan and Lagangilang. 
The procurement was conducted through local government units.
Awarded P1,948,100 were Farmers and Irrigators Associations in eight barangays in Lagangilang and  Bamboo Furnishing and Deco/Craft Production of San Juan. 
George Lubin, Jr. and his staff of DOLE - Abra facilitated preparations.
Regional DOLE director Exequiel Ronie A. Guzman turned over projects to beneficiaries in  the presence of Mayor Meynardo Arthur Bautista of San Juan, Mayor Patrocinio Abaya of Lagangilang,  Vice Gov. Ronald Balao-as and the chief of staff of Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos. 
The Kabuhayan Program is under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program that promotes community enterprise development through livelihood assistance by focusing on employment generation among vulnerable sectors in society. -- Maria Teresa B. Beñas

Regulation of city hall
parking spaces proposed
BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prohibiting the unauthorized parking of motor vehicles on spaces as indicated in the plan prepared by the City General Services Office officially reserved for city officials, taxpayers, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and city hall employees at the city hall parking areas and providing penalties for violations thereof and further amending Ordinance No. 04, series of 2013.The ordinance authored by Councilor Michael Lawana stated violations of the ordinance shall consist of the unauthorized parking of motor vehicles on spaces reserved for city officials, taxpayers, persons with disabilities, senior citizens and city hall employees and the indiscriminate parking of motor vehicles in areas around the city hall where it is not allowed.
The ordinance provides that appropriate signage shall be painted with the names of the city officials or acronym of the office in the parking spaces reserved for them, while spaces reserved for city hall employees will be painted or marked with “City Hall Employees Parking Only” on first come, first serve basis.
Violators shall pay the fine imposed under Article XVI and in addition, the motor vehicle license plate or driver’s
license of the violators shall be confiscated immediately upon the violation. – Dexter A. See

DTI holds ‘diskwento caravan’ pre-Christmas selling in Ifugao
LAGAWE, Ifugao --  Consumers in the province who are looking for lower prices of basic commodities and other home products availed of“diskwento caravan”  at the Public Plaza recently.
The Department of Trade and Industry –led caravan coincides with the 2016 Provincial Athletic Selection Meet to give more chance to the public to buy discounted products.
The DTI-Ifugao announced  the diskwento caravan was participated in by entrepreneurs offering great discounts on Noche Buena products, Christmas gifts items, kitchen wares, furniture’s, appliances, electronic gadgets, shoes and motorbikes
The Diskwento Caravan is a government program to provide relief to workers though non-wage benefits and one way to augment their income to enable them to cope with rising prices of basic goods and services. It is a public service conducted by DTI in partnership with big manufacturer or distributors. It is also an act of public service by the manufacturers and distributors as most of them do not make money on their diskwento caravan activities.
Aside from the caravan, the DTI also held a pre-Christmas selling fair in the same venue from Nov. 28 to December 4. The activity featured home-grown products like food and beverages, loomwoven items and woodcarvings. --  Marcelo B. Lihgawon

Discrimination of HIV-infected workers prohibited
BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prohibiting all forms of discrimination perceived or suspected or even found to be positively infected with Human Immune Deficiency virus (HIV) in workplaces within the jurisdiction of the city.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated employers cannot simply equate HIV to disability, thus, it is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant because one or she is perceived, suspected or confirmed to be infected with HIV in regard to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training or any other term, condition or privilege of employment.
Yangot claimed it will be unlawful for employers to require compulsory HIV testing to applicants seeking employment with them or to its current employees who are suspected of having been infected with the dreaded illness.
He added all local government and private employers, must have an official protocol in handling suspected or positive HIV cases in their respective workplaces and that they can get the assistance of the Department of labor and Employment (DOLE) on how to formulate and adopt the required protocol.
Under the provisions of the ordinance, licenses or permits issued by the local government to employers or business entities found guilty of committing discriminatory acts or policies shall be revoked. -- Dexter A. See

445th Pampanga Day festivity kicks off
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- The 445th Aldo ning Kapampangan (Pampanga Day) celebration kicked off here Monday with the theme “Masayang Pamilya king Maasensung Probinsya” at the provincial capitol grounds.
After the mass, attendees gathered for the flag raising ceremonies.
Some 19 municipalities and cities participated in the street dancing competition where they presented their respective festival dances.
Floridablanca bested the other participants followed by Guagua, San Simon and City of San Fernando. Special citations were also given to San Simon and Guagua for their head dress and costumes, respectively.
Other activities in this year’s week-long celebration include river cruise, launching of Preventive Health Management System and medical mission, coronation of Mutya ning Kapampangan and most outstanding Kapampangan awards. -- PNA


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