6 hurt in Sagada gas station fire

>> Friday, June 18, 2021

The gas station after the fire incident. Part of the photo shows the wooden wall of the ground floor where the gas tank is placed and the other part where the frontage  is located.

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE- Six  persons were injured when a gas station at sitio Nangonogan owned by a certain Marcial  Codangos caught fire here at sitio Nangonogan around 7 o’clock pm on June 11. 
    Fire marshal SFO3 Antonio Nalibsan said gas fumes caught fire sparks when a light switch was turned on
at the ground floor of the building.
    Nalibsan said the accidental fire happened just after the refilling of the gas tank located at the ground floor.
    Quick response from personnel from the Sagada Bureau of Fire immediately put off the fire  causing minor destruction at some parts of the building at the ground floor.    
    Those present at the vicinity earlier helped in putting off the fire using fire extinguishers.  
    Asked how the fire also burned the meter reading machine located on ground level along the road, Nalibsan said the tube connecting the machine from the gas tank showed openings which exposed fumes and caught fire.
    The fire incident which lasted for some 20 minutes and paralyzed traffic for some 30 minutes led to the injury of four drivers, the pump attendant and the owner of the gas station. Victims were immediately brought to the hospital by responding personnel from the municipal Police Station.   They suffered first to second degree burns and were admitted at the St Theodore’s Hospital.
    This tourist town has seven gas stations located in different parts of the locality, two in the central part of town, two in the southern zone with routes Suyo-Balili road and Sabangan-Sagada road via Taccong, one in the eastern side along the Dantay-Sagada national road, one in the northern side and one located along the Sagada-Besao road.
    Gas stations here suddenly increased in the recent few years after the first gas station at sitio Makamkamlis was established some years ago by the Sagada Consumers Cooperative.  
    One located along the Dantay Sagada Road at sitio Kiltepan was built with Petron franchise and design while the rest are privately owned with their own construction designs.
    Nalibsan said gas tanks should be buried underground including all tubes connected to gas meter reading machines. He also said exhaustion pipes should also be installed to let gas fumes travel out and not accumulate inside the gas station.


EdCom clamor to ‘seriously address Phl learning crisis’


A call for the immediate convening of a multi-sectoral Educational Commission (EdCom) “to immediately and seriously address the country’s learning crisis” was made by education, business, religious groups among other non-government institutions.  
“We believe that an EdCom should be convened at the soonest possible time to set systemic and strategic long-term policy reforms that will address the crisis our country is facing,” said the group. “Our education system has been on the decline over the last two decades, with our students underperforming in local and international assessments. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation.”
    The call was made by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Aral Pilipinas, Child Hope Philippines, Del Monte Foundation, Inc., Knowledge Channel Foundation, Inc.,
    League of Corporate Foundations, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Business for Education, Philippine Business for Social Progress, School of Knowledge for Industrial Labor, Leadership and Service (SKILLS).
“The number of enrollees has declined as families cannot meet the demands of online learning or people have lost their jobs. School closures and mobility restrictions have also caused delays in graduations and licensure examinations, slowing the flow of new entrants in the labor force. We see increasing risk of our children’s learning outcomes and futures being stunted if we do not do something about this immediately. As a result, our country’s own development will be equally stunted if it cannot build upon our strong, competitive human capital. We call on the government to stand with us in our goal to establish and create a more inclusive and quality education,” they said. 
The group said the “EdCom should be multi-sectoral, with representatives not only from the legislature and executive but also from the academe, business sector, civil society organizations, teacher organizations, parents, and learners. In addition, it must tackle concerns such as learning outcomes, learning inequities, and resiliency of the education system while remaining open to reforms such as a more decentralized system and new governance structure that is learner-centered. Finally, it must be immediate and urgent and aim to have recommendations within the next six months. Any delay will only further endanger the future of the Philippine youth and the country as a whole.”
An EdCom resolution passed the committee level on May 27, 2021 in the House of Representatives with sponsors Reps. Kiko Benitez, Stella Quimbo, Fidel Nograles, Rommel Angara; chairperson Mark Go and members of committee on higher, technical education including chairperson Roman Romulo and members of the committee on basic education and culture.  
“A non-contentious effort such as the EdCom should immediately pass the legislative mill,” the group said, adding  the Philippine Education Commission should be started now.   


Netizens to Baguio gov’t: Where are the donations?


Alfred P. Dizon

Netizens questioned on social media where millions of donations in cash and kind for Baguio’s Covid efforts went after this was reported in a city hall press release. 
A total of P15.1 million in kind and P8.2 million in cash, checks and gift checks were donated to the City Mayor’s Office under Mayor Benjamin Magalong from March 17, 2020 to March 31, this year, for the city’s Covid-19 2019 response efforts, according to engineer Felipe Puzon, CMO chief of staff.
    The report said in Monday’s flag-raising rites at City Hall, Puzon said P3.5 million of the P8.2 million was remitted to the city treasurer’s office while the remaining P4.7 million was utilized for various projects and other activities.
These include the “SampungPiso para saMamamayan ng Baguio Program;” “Nutri-Bun Project” and  “Baguio Kitchen Community Feeding Program;”  purchase of sacks of rice,  grocery items  for relief packs, technical supplies, burial assistance to families whose members died during the pandemic, delivery charges of donations and other incidental expenses.
Puzon said 13,512 relief packs were distributed to the city’s underprivileged families, daily wage earners, locally stranded individuals, senior citizens and persons with disabilities who were not included under the national government’s 4Ps program.
Also reportedly given gift packs were Overseas Filipino Worker families whose members abroad lost their jobs due to the pandemic and Baguio residents who do not have incomes.
Puzon said donations in kind amounting to P15.1 million like food packs, face shields and masks, medicines, hygiene kits, alcohol, aerosol boxes, test kits and more, were distributed to local front liners from various sectors and offices, hospitals, barangays, neighboring towns and Benguet province.
Puzon said all reports on the donations were subsequently submitted to the Commission on Audit and the Office of Civil Defense.
According to some netizens, a detailed report on the matter should be uploaded online for transparency considering some barangay folks are complaining “walakamingnaramdaman,” meaning the moolah or goods didn’t reach them. 
LalaineSobremonte, Land Transportation Regulatory Board Cordillera regional director, said during the city council’s regular session last Monday that anyone who goes out of their residence for essential reasons may avail of the “Librengsakay para samga APOR” program of the LTFRB.
Authorized person outside residence is a term used to refer to a resident who can move around, especially when going to work, without restrictions during a certain quarantine period.
A report by Jordan Habbiling, City Council staff said Sobremonte said since Baguio City is currently under general community quarantine, residents aged 18 to 65 are considered APOR and may enjoy free rides under this program.
Even those who go out to buy essential goods are considered APORs and may go on board a vehicle offering free rides under the LTFRB’s “LibrengSakay” Program, Sobremonte said.
The city council advised the LTFRB to inform the public that the program is for anyone allowed to go out of the house to cater to more people especially that long queues are still observed in many jeepney terminals and loading areas in the city.
Habbiling said several members of the city council also observed some PUVs offering free rides are plying roads with very few passengers.
Sobremonte said their office will intensify information dissemination and that the drivers will be reminded to pick up all hailing passengers since almost everyone going out is an APOR.
According to a social media post by LTFRB Cordillera, there are now eight routes in the free ride program for APORs and medical health workers as of May 27, 2021.
These routes are Baguio City - Dalupirip and vice versa; Ambayao - La Chesa and vice versa; Baguio City - Crystal Cave and vice versa; Baguio City - Binga via Twin River and vice versa; Baguio City - Binga via Guisset and vice versa; Baguio City - Kereng, Tinongdan and vice versa; Baguio City – Trancoville and vice versa; and Baguio City – Aurora Hill and vice versa.
The LTFRB-CAR urged medical front liners and APORs in these routes to avail of the program.
The “LibrengSakay” Program started on April 27 and will end on June 30.
The LTFRB issued MC 2021-008 providing guidelines on  nationwide implementation of free rides for medical health workers.
By virtue of MC 2021-029, the Libreng "Sakay" Program was reportedly expanded to include APORs as recipients of the free ride service.
According to Sobremonte, all transport cooperatives and corporations in Baguio City who have already consolidated into legal entities under the PUV Modernization Program were urged to support and participate in the LibrengSakay program.
Cooperatives or corporations on board the "LibrengSakay" program are paid P52.50 per daily actual kilometer for modernized and traditional public utility jeepneys and P82.50 for public utility buses where 30% of the weekly payout goes to drivers as their salaries and the 70% is given to operators to cover daily operational and maintenance costs.
The “Libreng Sakay” Program of the LTFRB is reportedly a derivative of the PUV Service Contracting Program which aims to give temporary relief to critically affected workers in the public transportation sector.


Battle of Titans looms


Perry Diaz

Barely a year to the 2022 presidential election, the field is getting crowded.  And money is not a problem for the top three undeclared contenders.  They’re all super rich.  But how they will fight it out is a subject of much speculation.  They’re all expected to slug it out in the open once the campaign season starts. That’s only a short four months away.
    And as the last day of filing of candidacy on October 8th gets closer, the rivalry intensifies. As expected, they’ll all hold their certificates of candidacies close to their chests.  However, it would be anti-climactic since they’re all known to harbor this chance of a lifetime to be the next president. 
Let’s begin with the most obvious presidential wannabe who is Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the colorful incumbent president, Rodrigo Duterte, who by law is precluded from seeking a second term.  Inday Sara, as she is known in political circles, is currently the 43-year-old mayor of Davao City.
Recent polls show her as the top choice of potential voters next year, followed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos’ son who is named after him.  At 63 years of age, Bongbong is getting old.  If he passes up an opportunity to run for president this year, he’d be 69 at the next presidential campaign.  He’d be too old by Philippine standards and he’d become the next Jejomar Binay, competing against younger candidates. 
The third presidential hopeful is none other than the famous world boxing champion, 42-year-old Sen. Manny Pacquiao.  
The youthful Pacquiao is a mega-billionaire and would be able to finance his own campaign against anybody.  But his popularity is waning.  He will be termed out in 2022 after serving as senator for 12 years. 
Pacquiao is acting president of the PDP-Laban Party, now being chaired by President Duterte.  Duterte, who is in favor of his daughter Sara for president and he seems bent on knocking Pacquiao out of contention for the 2022 presidential election in support of his daughter.
Duterte-Duterte tandem
President Duterte, however, is being rumored to run for vice president, which would make it interesting to see a father-daughter tandem.  But the president is denying such rumors.
How about Sen. Bong Go, Duterte’s former aide who remains loyal like a “lapdog”?  Speculation is rife that he will run for president.  
Unless, he runs as Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential running mate, there is no guarantee that Go would win.  But Go doesn’t have a chance without Duterte as his running mate.  Last March 11, Go denied that he wanted to run for president but said, “My mind might change if President Duterte runs for vice president.”  
The question is:  If both were elected president and vice president, what would prevent Go from resigning the presidency so that his veep Duterte would assume the presidency? 
With anti-Chinese sentiments running high in the country due to the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute, he’d be lucky if he’d get 3% of the votes.  
However, if Go runs with Rodrigo Duterte as his running mate, Duterte could use the government resources to push for a Go-Duterte victory.  They’ll have the “power of incumbency,” which would put at their disposal all the government resources including the military and national police forces.  
It would be so easy for them to run a Triple G strategy – Gold, Guns, and Goons, which was popularized during the Marcos years. 
Constitutional question
But there is a constitutional question in the event Duterte runs for vice president.  Article VII Section 4 says:  “The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.”  Clearly, the operative word is “any.”  It prohibits the President from running for re-election in “any” office, whether it’s President, Vice President, Senator, Congressman or even Mayor or Council Member.  Period.  I’m pretty sure that the Supreme Court would interpret it as such.  So if Papa Duterte were disqualified from running for vice president, then Go would not run for president either.
Duterte’s best option is for daughter to run as the vice presidential running mate of Bongbong Marcos or vice versa.  It’s interesting to note that on May 29, Bongbong and sisterImee Marcos flew to Davao City to greet Sara “Happy birthday!”  Presumably, Bongbong and Sara discussed a possible tandem between the two of them?  Why not?  
They’re the two top winners in the straw polls taken last April.  The question is, who would be the presidential candidate?  MY guess is it would be Bongbong simply because of Bongbong’s age. Besides, Imelda Marcos would veto it.  She wanted her son to follow the footsteps of his father.  Sarah is still young.  Another six years wait for her to move up the presidential ladder is just about right. 
How about Pacquiao?  He is a formidable opponent, be it in boxing or in politics. Due to Pacquiao’s star power and wealth, he may be the one candidate who could mount an independent campaign.  
He also has the “bakya” crowd behind him.  And that’s a huge number of voters.  He can campaign using his Pidgin English, which would delight his audience.
Ultimately, it would be a fight between a Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem vs. Pacquiao and his handpicked running mate.
How about vice president Leni Robredo?  Nobody is even sure if she’s going to run for president.  Her main problem is money. She doesn’t have the financial wherewithal she needs to launch an effective campaign to win.  
She admitted that herself.  With Sara Duterte, Bongbong Marcos, and Manny Pacquiao having all the money to buy themselves an election, Robredo would probably just run for governor of her home province of Camarines Sur, where she’d be a sure winner.  Or she could be the vice presidential running mate of Pacquiao who is capable of funding Robredo’s candidacy. 
 Yes, the battle of Titans looms.  It will be a survival of the fittest or should I say, survival of the cheatest?(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)



The Magnificent Seven: Relevance of electric cooperative board of directors


March L. Fianza

Every organization has its officials to oversee the operation of the business. We have the board of directors who oversee the total operation and the management staff that execute the policies crafted by the board of directors. In a corporation, the board of directors is elected by the stockholders or shareholders while the board of directors of a cooperative is elected by the member-consumers or what we call total membership. 
Electric cooperatives are not exempt. The BODs are elected by member-consumer-owners. But what really are the duties and responsibilities of BODs? Let us go back to the Rochdale pioneers. The 28 Rochdale pioneers were the first to apply the concept of cooperation by contributing their resources for the common interest of every member.
    Because they received very low wages, they thought of organizing themselves into a cooperative to contribute their meager wages to help every member in case one will need financial support. Because of the success of the Rochdale pioneers, membership increased.
So they thought of electing who would manage the cooperative. That is where the board of directors comes in. They elected their board of directors to protect the common bond of interest of every member for economic and social gains.
 The same principles apply to the board of directors of the electric cooperative. Once, we use the word cooperative, it signifies that the highest policy-making body of the cooperative is the members, consumers, owners, or for CDAs cooperative, the total membership.
The board of directors should protect these common interests, in fact, they should embrace them. So whatever is the common bond of interest, the board of directors should follow to the best of their ability in as much as they were elected by the member-consumers as their alter-ego.
 The recent decision of the Beneco BODs that rejected the endorsement of the NEA-BOA is a test of character. Whether they protect the common bond of interest of member-consumers or purely for personal interest. Taking the cue from the member-consumer-owners as well as the overwhelming support from the LGUs, private sector, I could see that they prefer the OIC GM to be appointed as the general manager, if that is the basis.
So, the six members of the board adhered to the common bond of interest of the member-consumer-owners. They exercised their mandate to protect the rights of every member-consumer against outside interference. It was very clear in the congressional hearing that the electric cooperative has the right to appoint their general manager as stated by the NEA-BOA member and not the NEA-BOA.
The NEA-BOA should respect these basic rights of the cooperative. As they say, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” I liken Beneco to a well-oiled bus and the member-consumer, the owner are the passengers, and they prefer a driver who is experienced to bring them to their destination, so be it.
Integrity. Every man is measured by a certain character that you will be remembered by. One character they see in a man is about integrity. How do we measure integrity? Can it be measured in an hour, a day, weeks, or years, or worse with just one question?
One controversial issue about integrity and honesty recently happened during the final interview of applicants for the general manager (GM) of a certain electric cooperative. During the congressional hearing, one congressman asked one member of the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA).
He was asked “What are your other criteria in the selection of the GM?” The NEA BOA answered: “I ask a question and the interviewee will answer and by their answer, we can see their integrity.” While the question was controversial and not related to the job, I will not dwell on that.
But the lingering question is, is it right to judge someone’s integrity with just one question and an answer? I find it surprising because integrity cannot be measured by instant questions. You have to be with the man, work with him, at most to be with him for a number of years.
Sometimes, we have to look at his personal relationship, even his family. Is he a loving family man? God-fearing?\I am a member-consumer-owner of Beneco and I have known him for a while but I cannot judge his integrity. But what I know about him is this: 30 years ago, a young graduate from Saint Louis University (SLU) with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering was excited to work and apply his years of schooling. Just like most of us, we are all excited to work and apply our profession.
He applied in an electric cooperative a few days before the earthquake in July of 1990 and was told to come later. After the earthquake, together with the other applicants, they were told to come back. They were immediately called to work and do extensive rehabilitation of our devastated electric supply.
The applicants and the young engineer included, had to carry electric poles, electrical lines, and do other heavy-duty works. As years went by through thick and thin, he stayed with the electric cooperative despite the fact that he could have worked in other companies that offered him higher pay. But he did not. As years went by, he was promoted to supervisor, department manager because of hard work and dedication, and today appointed as OIC general manager. If I could summarize that, I call it INTEGRITY.
 In order for a man to be a leader he must have followers. And to have followers he must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionable integrity…if a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
I could see that our OIC GM has overwhelming support from the member-consumer-owners and the officials of Baguio and Benguet. Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhower is correct.


Baguio Covid-19 cases down; tourism to perk up


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – This summer capital may now be experiencing a downtrend in the number of Covid-19 afflictions but not for long. 
City Health Services Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo warned that with the increase in people’s mobility, they expect the city’s positivity rate to increase in the next ten days and along with it, the critical care utilization rate to also elevate in the next two weeks.
“Even if we are on a downward trend, let’s not let our guard down. We continue to wear mask, maintain distancing and hand washing, maintain proper ventilation, avoid crowd, close conversation and confined spaces,” she said.
Galpo said increased people movement is expected in view of events like Fathers’ Day celebration, onset of face-to-face classes, vacation of private schools and reopening to tourists from NCR-Plus and this will result to more transmission especially if people will not adhere to the minimum public health standards.
After facing a surge in cases in the past months, the city’s cases showed signs of decline while the recovery rate increased resulting to a low hospital care and isolation unit utilization rates.
Galpo said the daily attack rate decreased from 10.2 percent to 8.8 percent while the positivity rate also went down from 9 percent to 8.31 percent.
The same decreasing trend was noted in other indicators like the 7-day moving averages of the daily attack rate which started May 31 and the daily cases which started June 1.
Baguio mayor Benjamin Magalong has ordered the fast-tracking of vaccination of residents aged 65 years and above to prevent more Covid-19-related deaths.
The assistance of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) led by president Councilor Michael Lawana will be sought in tracking down residents belonging to said age group who have not been inoculated against the virus.
The ABC will help facilitate the registration of said individuals in the city’s online system as well as the scheduling of their vaccination in coordination with the City Health Services Office.
The mayor said the city has to step up efforts to curb the high incidence of death among its COVID-19 patients and one of the solutions is vaccination.
The Dept. of Health said all Covid-19 vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) can prevent hospitalization and death.
City Health Services Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said the city’s fatality rate has decreased in the past week with only three deaths recorded.
“This is an improvement because in the past weeks, we were recording 2-3 deaths a day.  Now it is three deaths in one week and for the past five days, we have had zero deaths which we hope to sustain,” Galpo said.
 As of June 9, the city has a total of 268 deaths with 2.1 percent case fatality rate.
Last May 10, the city recorded its highest fatality rate at 2.09 percent with 247 deaths out of 11,814 cases.
 Aside from vaccination, the mayor also advocated for early medical consultation at the first signs of COVID-19 infection among the residents as a deterrent to death.
 He said early consult would facilitate early detection and medical intervention and would prevent progression into severe stage and death.
City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) records showed more than half of the fatalities were aged 50 and above and that there were more males than females.
The highest number of deaths was recorded in the month of April with 85 deaths or more than two deaths per day.  Majority had comorbid conditions.
After months in the doldrums, Baguio City’s tourism industry is seen to perk up with the lifting of the prohibition for tourists from the National Capital Region Plus.
Mayor Magalong confirmed that tourist arrivals started to pick up in the first week of June with hotels and restaurants getting more bookings and sales.“We hope to be able to maintain and rejuvenate our tourism industry without compromising the health and safety of our people,” the mayor said.
City Tourism Operations Officer Aloysius Mapalo said, “The first week of June until the weekend saw a surge in tourist arrivals after it was announced that Baguio can already accommodate leisure travelers from NCR+ starting June 1.”
“Data show that 1,406 tourists arrived from May 31 to June 6.  It’s more than double the previous week at only 535 arrivals,” he added.The city maintains its strict entry protocols for tourists that require negative test result for Coronavirus disease and registration with the visita.baguio.gov.ph portal.
Subsidized antigen tests are provided for tourists through the P1.8 million fund provided by the Tourism Promotions Board to ensure safety from Covid-19.
Magalong admits that the city’s economy heavily relies on tourism that is why incessant efforts are exerted to gradually and safely open the industry but with strict adherence to the implementation of minimum health protocols.
Tourist arrival records from the tourism office showed that only 515 tourists arrived in the city last April and 2,169 last May.March record was highest with 24,295 owing to eased up travel protocols that time.  February had 8,915 while January had 9,819 and December, 2020, 12,066 tourists.
The mayor said that last year alone, the industry suffered more than P3.5 billion losses in potential income with the drop in tourist arrivals seven times lower than that of 2019 or from 1.7 million in 2019 to just 232,000 in 2020.From April to June last year, the industry lost more than P1.6 billion in potential income while tourism workers lost more than P550 million in unrealized wages.
He said three accommodation facilities have already permanently closed while others in dire straits remain hopeful their businesses will recover as the city continues its efforts to revive the industry.



Beneco to consumers: Conserve electricity


Delmar Carino

BAGUIO CITY -- The Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) has yet to experience power interruption pursuant to the Manual Load Dropping (MLD) scheme to ease power demand but officials are strongly urging consumers to do their part by cutting on the use of unnecessary electricity.
    Melchor Licoben, Beneco general manager officer in charge, said on Thursday that consumers should be wary of the announcements on MLD schedules by the National Grid Corporation of the Phil. (NGCP) since this will mean that power will be stopped temporarily for a number of hours.
    “This MLD is different from the power interruptions set by Beneco to conduct repair and maintenance. The MLD is a scheme adopted by the grid operator to balance the allocation of available power on the grid, “ he said.
    Licoben urged consumers to conserve energy and help lighten up the drawing of power form the grid.       
    The NGCP, the operator of the country’s transmission system, resorts to the use of MLD to stabilize the power grid whenever the power supply has reached critical levels due to the increased demand for electricity.   
    Congress has asked lately the NGCP and the Department of Energy to explain the rotating brownouts in June that have affected major areas in Luzon.
    The increased demand for electricity during summer has threatened power reserves. This forced the NGCP to use MLD through rotational brownouts to stabilize the system.
    Ramel Rifani, Beneco’s network services department manager, said the electric cooperative has received two notices for MLD in June but the interruption did not push through.
    However, he said that considering the pronouncements that MLD could still be possible until August, Beneco’s consumers are well advised to be responsible users of energy.
    “The advice is not only for our residential consumers but also for our big loaders who could adopt their own energy cutting mechanisms to avoid clogging the demand for power on the grid,” Rifani said.
    MelmaBatario, government relations and regional offices lead specialist for parts of the NGCP’s operations in the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, confirmed that Beneco had been advised of a rotational brownout but the interruption was stopped. 
    “The NGCP was able to improve and stabilize the grid connected to the electric cooperative so the MLD was shelved,” she said.
    Batario said the other electric cooperatives in the region that forms part of her area of assignment – Mt. Province Electric Cooperative (Mopreco), Kalinga Electric Cooperative (Kaelco) and AbraElectgric Cooperative (Abreco)  -- were similarly given notices of MLD but were spared just the same when the power supply was stabilized on the dates the MLD were scheduled.


A lifelong training in prayer


Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE have to realize more deeply that it is a basic need ofours to pray. If we understand our life to be a life always with God,as our Christian faith tells us, then we need to pray always, because prayer is like the very breathing of our life with God. We actually cannot afford to skip it even for a few seconds. Skipping it would easily compromise the life we are supposed to have with God. Prayer is actually more important and necessary than the air we breathe, the food we eat or the water we drink. We should do everything to learn to pray always. On this, St. Paul clearly said,
    “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5,17)
    In fact, in that Pauline passage, what went before and after it are very interesting. St. Paul says that we have to rejoice always and be thankful in all circumstances because that is the will of God for us. (cfr 1 Thes 5,16.18.
)We have to find ways of how to conform ourselves to this clear indication of St. Paul. We have to learn how to pray always,converting everything in our life, including those that we consider as negative or bad elements, into an occasion, a means, a reason for praying.
We need to go beyond that common understanding of prayer that pegs it only to the recitation of some vocal prayers or to spending time in some special places to do meditation or contemplation. While these forms of prayer are important and, in fact,are indispensable, they do not have the exclusive ownership, so to speak, of the ways of praying.
Prayer can lend itself to all kinds of forms. It can and should be done while we are working or playing or resting. It can be done not only in our good times but also, and especially so, in our bad times.
The essential thing in prayer is to relate ourselves in mind and heart to God. It may not be expressed in words. But at least in our thoughts and intentions, in our consciousness, we know that we are with God whatever the situation may be.
We have to train ourselves in this area. It’s actually easy to do because being a spiritual operation, prayer can always transcend whatever limitation we can have in time and space. It can even transcend whatever conditions we are subject to—physical, emotional,psychological, temperamental as well as social, political, economic,etc. It can be done anytime, anywhere. If we would just have the mind to do it, it can be done always.
This training in prayer should be started as early as possible, right at the toddler stage. Obviously, things have to be explained little by little until the fellow can arrive at that level that he can more or less motivate his own self to go on praying,whatever the circumstances and situations of his life.
This is a very important goal to attain for everyone.Especially these days when with so many engaging developments around,people tend to forget or take God for granted, this concern about training ourselves in prayer for life is urgent.
If we don’t want to get lost in our way in this world, we really need to know how to convert everything into prayer, into an intimate relation with our Father God.


Rocks blasted, trees felled along Chico river; 15 M projet hit

 Rocks along  the banks of the  Chico River  serving  as natural flood  barriers are threatened  of blasting with the construction of an 80 meter long   P15 million  flood control  project here along the banks of the Chico River at  sitio At-ato.

By Gina Dizon

BONTOC , MOUNTAIN PROVINCE- Rocks along  the banks of the  Chico River  serving  as natural flood  barriers are threatened  of blasting with the construction of an 80 meter long   P15 million  flood control  project here along the banks of the Chico River at  sitio At-ato.

This, along with some 100 trees felled in project site said lot owner Grace Dayag as she  filed letters of complaint against private persons Mark Malabong and Mauricio Malabong that reached  the regional office of  the department of environment and natural resources (DENR) and the provincial office of the Mountain Province district engineering office (MPDEO).

In  her letter to DENR, Dayag noted the alleged destruction of  trees  and irrigation ditch and  dumping of excavated rocks and soil  in violation of the Clean Water Act.    

The P15 million project is  funded  from the regular program  of the MPDEO and awarded to JBA Construction who began works early this year.

In an interview, Dayag said her family has been planting ipil-ipil and other tree species in their lot near the river bank  that earlier served as a ricefield worked on by her parents in the earlier days.

In her complaint forwarded to MPDEO early this year,  Dayag said there was  no consultation with her or her family before the project started.

Dayag  also  forwarded her complaint to the  Bontoc  municipal police station against brothers   Mark and Mauricio Malabong  citing  alleged trespassing and destruction of her fence.


TESDA sets P7.65 M for 8 Cordillera NPA-influenced sites

By Carlito Dar

BAGUIO CITY --The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority – Cordillera, in support to the whole-of-nation approach to end local communist armed conflict, is bringing technical-vocational and skills development training and other programs to identified ELCAC barangays in the region.
    TESDA–CAR regional director Dante Navarro, in a media forum here, reported   that their office has allotted around P7.65 million for the skills training and livelihood programs for 445 target beneficiaries in eight ELCAC barangays in Kalinga, Mountain Province and Abra.
    ELCAC areas are considered New People’s Army-influenced areas.   
    TESDA  has  “Project Kalinga, kapwa ko lingcod alay”  in  barangay Balabag in Rizal,  Kalinga and  Project ESEK (Environmental sustainability and ecological kinetics ) in Tamboan in  Besao, Mountain Province to benefit 145 members of indigenous people in the communities. 
    Under the “retooled community support program, 300   beneficiaries from barangays Buanao, Duldulao, Dulao and Bayabas in Malibcong   and barangays Naguilian and Ud – Udao of Sallapadan in Abra are also set to benefit from TVET trainings.
    Trainings are on carpentry, masonry, organic agriculture production, animal production, bread and pastry, shielded metal arc welding, electrical installation and maintenance, motorcycle/small engine service and maintenance and entrepreneurship.
    Similar programs are also set in  pre- identified GIDAs (geographically isolated and displaced areas) in Cordillera provinces of Apayao, Benguet and Ifugao, Navarro added.
    TESDA heads the poverty reduction, livelihood and employment cluster (PRLEC) of regional task force ELCAC.
Navarro said TESDA – CAR will hold training programs  especially for those whose  jobs or livelihoods  were affected by Covid– 19 in coordination with   partner tech – voc institutions and industry.
    For fiscal year 2021, TESDA – CAR’s budget included P2.89 million scholarship training expenses for private education student fund assistance, P25 million for training for work scholarship program, P17.27 million for rice extension service program  and P129.83 millionto implement Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
    “In line with our mandate, TESDA is also into massive campaign for our scholarship program, Navarro added”. PIA Cordillera


30-K Cordi tourism workers get P156-M from DOT-DOLE

By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis

BAGUIO CITY –More than 30,000 displaced workers from almost 800 establishments in Cordillera recently received financial assistance amounting to more than P156 million from the Departments of Tourism and Labor and Employment as of May 26, 2021.
    In Baguio City, some 1,500 workers from tourism business establishments, tourism support service and community – based tourism organizations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic were beneficiaries of cash assistance from DOT and DOLE. Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong DOTCordillera regional director Jovita Ganongan and DOLE Cordillera technical support and services division chief George Lubin Jr. led awarding of certificates of eligibility to 10 beneficiary organizations here  at Baguio Country Club on   May 30.
    A total of 1,466 individuals from identified tourism business establishments, tourism support service and community – based tourism organizations will receive one-time P5, 000 financial assistance.
    Among the tourism organization beneficiaries are Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC) Inc., Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) Baguio-Benguet Chapter, Baguio Wedding and Event Suppliers Organizations Inc., Baguio Event Workers Association, Persons with Disability, Masseuse and Tour Guide Association, Pasakalye Group of Artists Inc., Victor Oyteza Community Arts and Space (VOCAS) Foundation, Highlander Night Market Association, Baguio Market Vendors Multi-purpose Cooperative, and the Bag-iw Market Vendors Association Inc.
    The financial assistance and cash-for-work program for displaced workers in the tourism sector is pursuant to Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
    The DOT and DOLE last February issued joint memorandum circular 2021-001 expanding coverage of beneficiaries to include local government-licensed tourism support service enterprises, providers and associations of providers.  
    “Ang binibigyan naming sa Bayanihan II are not only those working in hotels or restaurants. Sinama namin last February ang mga masahista, tricycle drivers, ung mga nasa creative sector because all of them lost income nung nawala ang tourism,” Puyat said.
    Magalong said that the tourism sector in the city of Baguio was the most affected industry in this pandemic.
He noted the closing down of businesses, laying off of workers and the major losses in revenue in the tourism sector.
    It was a difficult decision but it was necessary to close down the city at the onset of the pandemic to manage the spread of the virus for the safety of the people, Magalong said.
    The mayor expressed gratitude to Puyat for making sure that each of the beneficiaries will be given help.
    He added aside from Baguio City, other provinces in the Cordillera region also benefitted from the financial assistance of the DOT and DOLE. – PIA Cordillera 


DTI pushes safety seals In biz areas

By Susan C. Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - - The Dept, of Trade and Industry is pushing safety seal certification among business establishments, workplaces, hotels and other facilities to assure their safety and compliance with minimum public health standards set by the government to prevent spread of the Covid-19 virus.
    This based on rules of the National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management and Emergence of Infectious Disease Resolution No. 87 series 2020 which directs DTI together with the Departments of Health, Labor and Employment, Interior and Local Government, Tourism, and Transportation to issue joint memorandum on requirements for safety seal certification, said Richard Limpin III of DTI-Benguet.
    The safety seal certification is a voluntary certification scheme that affirms the establishment is compliant with minimum public health standards set by the government.
    It also uses and integrates its contact tracing with the StaySafe.ph app., Limpin explained during the meeting of the Provincial IATF on Covid-19.
     There are various issuing authorities depending on their coverages.    
    Local government units cover malls, wet markets, other retail stores, restaurants outside hotels/resorts, fast foods, eateries, coffee shops, banks, money changers, pawnshops, remittance centers, car wash, laundry service centers, art galleries, libraries, museums, zoo, sports center, tutorial, testing, and review centers, gyms, spas, cinemas, arcades and other establishments.
    For  DOT, primary tourism enterprises and restaurants inside hotels/resorts, DOLE  for  manufacturing, construction sites, utilities, information and communication companies, and warehouses while  DTI  covers  groceries, supermarkets, membership shopping clubs, convenience stores, construction supply and hardware stores, logistics service providers, barbershops and salons, service and repair shops.
    These includes DILG and the  Philippine National Police for  city/ municipal halls, provincial capitols, all other local government unit facilities and buildings, police camps and station, Bureau of Fire Protection Offices and Fire Stations, Provincial/District/City Jails, Barangay halls and other barangay facilities, and all other public establishments not covered by the other issuing agencies.
    Application for a certification is free at no cost to the establishment, renewable and valid for six months except in the case of tourism enterprises where the seal is valid for one year.
    Among requirements are the following: valid business permit/mayor’s permit, DTI/Securities and Exchange Commission registration or DOT accreditation; StafySafe.ph or any contact tracing tool integrated with the same; availability of temperature or thermal scanner; health declaration sheet; QR codes for StaySafe.ph and any other contact tracing tool; isolation area; barangay health emergency response teams and other Covid-19 emergency hotlines displayed; hand-washing stations with soap, sanitizers, and hand drying equipment or supplies; installed physical barriers in enclosed areas; availability of personnel-in-charge for monitoring and maintaining social distancing; availability of windows for adequate air exchange in enclosed (indoor) areas among others.
    The seal must be displayed conspicuously at all entrance points according to prescribed dimensions.
    To date, the local government of La Trinidad has already came up with its IATF resolution adopting the safety seal certification. It is inviting establishment owners in the municipality to apply for the safety seal. – PIA Benguet


Tourism activities banned in Kalinga

By Peter A. Balocnit

CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga -- Temporary suspension of all tourism activities and no-entry policy on tourists in the province are still in effect. 
    The provincial and this city’s tourism offices said organizing tourism activities is prohibited this pandemic.
In Balbalan, Tinglayan and Lubuagan, stakeholders were consulted and tarpaulin posters were put on tourism spots and strategic places to remind tourists of local control policy.
    Balbalan tourism officer Regine Faye Munda Cruz consulted with officials of tourism destination-barangays regarding the policy:
     “Bawal po muna ang papasok na turista at mamasyal sa mga tourism sites (pati local tourists). Bawalpo muna ang tourism activities saatingmga tourism sites (example caving, trekking, camping, swimming, picnics, etc.)
    In Lubuagan, tourism officer Ansherina Rose Odiem warned if travelers continue to disobey, local Covid-19 transmission could increase.
    She said the municipal tourism, culture and arts council is set to convene this June to deliberate strict guidelines and penalties to be imposed on violators.
    The question in Tinglayan during the joint municipal inter-agency task force - tourism council meeting was whether they are ready to open their tourism destinations and cultural activities but they agreed  to defer all tourism activities in the municipality.
    The Municipal Health Office of Tinglayan signed an agreement with Buscalan last March 2020 requiring establishment of an isolation center, that vaccination reach 70% of the population and solid waste management have to be sustained.
    These are yet to be done.
Mayor Sacrament Gumilab said income is important but added health is priority.
He said the goal is not to stop tourism but to delay its re-opening until the local government is assured the community can handle it even as the pandemic is raging. – PIA Kalinga



Ilocos Norte gov’t gives studes stipends, gadgets

By Stewart C. Ocampo

LAOAG CITY – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte through its provincial education department visited towns and cities in the province once again to distribute stipend of provincial scholars.
    This was done by the PED in partnership with Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO), and Provincial Treasurer’s Office May 25 to 31.
    Over 1,900 scholars from academic, technical-vocational, senior high schools, doctor of medicine, and Sirib youth leaders received their stipend.
    A total of 3,417 elementary and high school learners in the province received mobile tablets to assist them in their “new normal” mode of learning.
    Two additional scholarships under the Sirmata provincial learners scholarship program of the Provincial Government were recently added to benefit secondary and tertiary students who take arts, and agriculture and fishery courses.
    The arts scholarship program will cater to 300 high school students who take visual arts, drama and theater, music arts, creative writing, and dance arts.
    The agriculture and fishery scholarship program will assist 300 students starting from Grade 9, who take agriculture and fishery-related courses, and a total of 80 college scholars, with 20 beneficiaries per year level.
    Agriculture scholars from secondary level will receive P2,000 stipend per month, while college scholars will receive the stipend, laboratory allowance, and thesis allowance, depending on their year level: 1st year and 2nd year (P5,000 stipend and P5,000 laboratory allowance), 3rd year (P5,000 stipend, P5,000 laboratory allowance, and P10,000 thesis allowance), and 4th year (P5,000 stipend, P15,000 thesis allowance, and P5,000 for other expenses). 


Baguio tourism reels even with P100-M biz package

BAGUIO CITY -- The city’s tourism industry and similarly businesses are reeling and suffering huge losses due to Covid-19 pandemic amidst efforts by the tourism department and local governments to revive the same.
    Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said the local tourism industry suffered over P3.5 billion losses in potential income from what normally would have been tourist arrivals.
    From the estimated 1.7 million tourist arrivals in 2019, he reported visitors who arrived in the city in 2020 were more than 232,000, seven times lower than the recorded tourist arrivals during the preceding year.
    At the height of the implementation of the Luzon-wide lockdown from April to June last year, the mayor said local tourism industry suffered more than P1.6 billion losses in potential income while thousands of workers in industries related to tourism lost more than P550 million in unrealized wages.
    Baguio City was however able to generate P1.8 billion income from tourist arrivals last year, the highest among premier tourist destinations in the country after the city opened to tourists October with the “Ridge to reef tourism bubble” between Baguio and the Ilocos Region.
    Magalong said initial assistance was provided by the city government to the heavily impacted tourism sector with P100 million set for the Baguio Revitalization Actions for a Vibrant Economy–Economic Stimulus Package (BRAVE-ESP) for micro and small enterprises to recover from the pandemic.
    More than P20 million from the stimulus package was loaned to qualified businesses. 
    Target beneficiaries were reportedly cautions even if they were heavily affected as they are not sure of the viable future of their businesses so they could repay their loans as the pandemic is on.
    The mayor said the city’s economy relies heavily on tourism that is why the local tourism industry is slowly being opened with strict implementation of health protocols.
    Aside from the mandatory registration in the city’s online registration platform, visita.baguio.gov.ph, visitors are mandated to present their negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or antigen tests as part of requirements before being allowed entry to the city.
    Three accommodation facilities have permanently closed while other similar establishments suffered tremendous losses although owners hope revival of tourism industry would allow the city to regain its status as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country. - Dexter A. See


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