Aboitiz pays P61.2 M taxes to Benguet

>> Tuesday, December 27, 2011

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – More development projects that will have a big impact in uplifting the living condition of people in the host communities will be implemented by both the provincial government of Benguet and the municipal government of Bokod following the remittance of more than P61.2 million as advance payment of real property taxes for the rehabilitated electro-mechanical equipment of the 105-MW Ambuklao hydroelectric power plant based in Bokod town, approximately 36 kilometers away from Baguio City.

SNAP-Benguet’s president and chief executive officer Emmanuel V. Rubio turned over the ceremonial check representing PhP61,260,311.52 due in 2012 to mark the actual payment to Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan in a ceremony at the Provincial Capitol.

Benguet Vice Gov. Crescencio C. Pacalso, Bokod Mayor Mauricio T. Macay and Bokod Vice Mayor Reynaldo B. Tello, Jr. and members of the municipal council witnessed for the local government while SNAP-Benguet Chief Financial Officer Eleanor Blomdahl and Vice President for Corporate Services Michael Hosillos, a lawyer, represented the hydroelectric power firm.

“SNAP had been a good taxpayer over the past several years, We are elated that the company has set an example for paying their real property taxes on time so that the provincial and municipal government will be able to use the funds for the development of the different communities, especially the host communities,” Fongwan said , adding that 50 percent of the paid taxes will be equally divided by the provincial and municipal school boards to bankroll their respective priority education projects.

“Pursuant to the provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991, Fongwan explained the remaining 50 percent of the paid taxes will be divided where the province will get P35 percent, the municipality will be getting a share of 45 percent while the host barangay will be receiving 20 percent.

Rubio noted that since Ambuklao’s re-operation six months ago, its contribution to the province and municipality has already been “significant.” “As we continue to operate the Ambuklao and Binga HEPPs, we can work together to make a difference in the lives of the people in areas where we operate,” Rubio added.

SNAP-Benguet took over the Ambuklao HEPP along with the 100-MW Binga HEPP in 2008 following a successful bid for the twin plants in the amount of USD325 million through the government’s power sector privatization program.

In the same year, it set to work rehabilitating and upgrading the then decommissioned 75-MW Ambuklao HEPP which came back on-line in June of this year. The plant had been on shut-down since 1999 as a result of technical problems and siltation brought about by the 1990 Luzon earthquake.

The re-operation of the Ambuklao facility in 2011 enabled Bokod to collect substantial real property taxes, a source of revenue not available to the municipality since Ambuklao’s shut-down in 1999. It brings renewed economic and development opportunities for the host province of Benguet, host municipality of Bokod, and host barangays Ambuklao and Tikey through the real property tax, National Wealth Tax, and access to financial benefits under applicable laws such as Energy Regulation No. 1-94 providing benefits to host communities. The plant also has programs for its host indigenous peoples’ community, the Shakilan ni Ikulos Peoples’ Organization.

“We now could implement our priority development projects in depressed villages of our town because of our added revenue with the re-operation of the Ambuklao dam. Our constituents will now have better access to economic activities that will surely help improve their lives and help Bokod become a well-developed town in the future,” Mayor Mauricio Macai said after the turnover of the payment to the provincial and municipal officials.


2 dead, 1,200 families hit in Cagayan floods

By Charlie Lagasca

TUGUEGARAO CITY– Flashfloods spawned by torrential rains left two villagers dead and at least 1,200 families affected last week in the Cagayan Valley particularly in Isabela, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Authorities identified the casualties as Eugenio Abista, 25, and Daniel Binsay, 13, both of Barangay Yeban Norte in Benito Soliven, Isabela.

The flashfloods affected eight municipalities, including the capital town of Ilagan where at least 30 barangays were inundated.
Several areas in Cagayan province were submerged in floodwaters after a main river in Northern Luzon overflowed due to non-stop heavy rains.

A radio report said that according to Cagayan Gov. Alvaro Antonio, nearly 10 towns in Cagayan province went under very deep floods after the Cagayan River overflowed.

A forecaster from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that several areas in the northern part of Luzon are experiencing heavy rains due to the northeast monsoon.

"Usually, during this time of the year, the northern side of the country, particularly the eastern part of Luzon experiences the northeast monsoon. It is also being aggravated by winds coming from the east," the forecaster said in a radio interview.

The weather forecaster said that Casiguran area experienced very heavy rainfall in the last 24 hours, measuring at 194 millimeters, followed by Tuguegarao City.

He said that Cagayan residents should watch out for flashfloods and landslides.


Benguet optimistic SC will close Baguio dump

BAGUIO CITY – Residents of nearby Tuba, Benguet and provincial officials are optimistic that the Supreme Court would issue an order closing down the Irisan dump in Baguio City as the petition for a writ of kalikasan against the dump was officially filed with the SC last week.

SC justices are ready to study the merits of the petition, said lawyer Noe Villanueva of the Sanidad and Villanueva Law Office.

Last Dec. 14, Benguet and La Union officials along with the Tuba residents signed the petition asking the SC to order the Baguio City government to finally close down and rehabilitate the Irisan dump.

Benguet officials led by Rep. Ronald Cosalan, joined by National Artist and Tuba councilor Charlie Juloya, and eight residents, submitted the petition.

Cosalan personally brought the petition to the SC after furnishing a copy to Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje.

Villanueva said they are hoping to get a temporary environmental protection order from the SC for the Baguio City government to halt the disposal of garbage at the Irisan dump.

“We hope the SC justices will do what is right,” Villanueva said.

“We want Baguio to sit down with Tuba officials to craft a comprehensive plan on how to face the avalanche problem, not just piecemeal solutions,” Cosalan said.

Last Aug. 27, tons of garbage cascaded from the Irisan dump at the height of typhoon “Mina,” burying alive a sexagenarian woman and three grandchildren and two other residents and contaminating potable water systems.

After receiving copies of the petition, Baguio officials maintained that they are doing their best to avert disastrous situations at the Irisan dump.

A company contracted by the local officials to haul non-biodegradable waste, however, has failed in looking for dumps outside the city.

In Baguio,Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said the city government is ready to answer the writ of kalikasan filed by different interest groups and individuals in Benguet and Aringay, La Union once the Supreme Court will issue the corresponding order to clarify issues being raised against the utilization of the Irisan dumpsite as sorting area and transfer station for the city’s non-biodegradable waste.

“We understand the sentiments of the petitioners who filed the writ. We are ready to answer the writ if ordered by the SC,” Domogan said after the city government was furnished a copy of the writ of kalikasan which will still be filed with the High Court.

While the writ will be heard by the SC, the local chief executive cited the city will continue to use the Irisan dumpsite as a sorting are and transfer station for the city’s non-biodegradable waste being hauled out of the city by Pro Tech Machinery Corporation pursuant to its earlier memorandum of agreement with the city government.

“The problem with Pro Tech is that it cannot find a permanent sorting area or transfer station even outside the city because some critics are always following them where ever they go but they are doing their best to comply with their obligation under our contract,” the mayor stressed.

Domogan explained what is prohibited by the provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act is the continuous use of the Irisan dumpsite as an open dumpsite but not as a sorting area or transfer station considering that it was given due course by the National Solid Waste Management Commission .

The city mayor said programs of work for the putting up of a super structure that will protect the damaged portion of the Irisan dumpsite was already submitted to the office of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and is being subjected to review prior to the release of the P110 million committed by the Office of the President for the rehabilitation of the damaged retaining wall to prevent the occurrence of untoward incidents in the future that will pose a serious threat to life and limb, especially those below the dumpsite.

The design of the super structure was a collaborative effort of a multi-sectoral technical working group created by Mayor Domogan to ensure that the structure to be erected in the Irisan dumpsite will serve its purpose and will not collapse. Experts from the colleges of engineering of the Saint Louis University University of Baguio and the University of the Cordillera were tapped to be part of the technical working group to ensure that all concerns relative to the construction of the super structure will be satisfactorily addressed.

For his part, Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara said the collapse of a portion of the Irisan dumpsite is not the fault of the city government but it has been classified as force major, thus, it is unfair to totally put the blame to the local government.

“It is unfair to totally put the blame to the city. We are exerting all possible efforts to solve our garbage disposal problem,” Vergara stressed, adding that the city does not want its neighbors to be suffering the consequences of whatever untoward incidents that will happen in the future at the Irisan dumpsite.

“We have to face the writ of kalikasan that was filed by the petitioners. We will rely on whatever the decision of the high tribunal on what to do with the Irisan dumpsite which is no longer being utilized as an open dumpsite,” the veteran lawmaker said. – With a report from Dexter See


Kalinga nabs 351 vehicle violators

By Peter A. Balocnit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga- - The Land Transportation Office here through its law enforcement arms and deputized agents apprehended 351 transport utilities for violation of land transportation rules and traffic regulations of various kinds from January to November 4 this year.

Provincial LTO officer Jennilyn Angog said the Flying Squad apprehended 250 violators; the Philippine National Police – 101; and an undetermined number of crash helmet violators by the Highway Patrol Group.

Violations ranged from operating as colorum, unregistered vehicle/motor, driving without license, no helmet, and other charges.

“Apprehended vehicles and motors were impounded immediately and were released upon payment of penalties and compliance to requirements,” Angog said.

She said the Flying Squad conducted four operations within the period while the 17 deputized PNP agents and HPG are stationary in strategic points enforcing traffic rules and regulations.

The PNP, she said was deputized for three months but their deputization is renewable. “We requested additional policemen from the Provincial Mobile Group to help in the enforcement of traffic laws,” Angog informed adding that the deputization of policewomen formerly among the 25 PNP personnel deputized before was not renewed.

Meanwhile, Angog called on parents of minors aging below the 17 age limit not to allow them to drive. “Records of most road accidents involved minors especially those driving motorbikes,” she said.

Though the number of road accidents is insignificant in the province, Angog reminded drivers to observe traffic rules, and asked operators and drivers to comply with LTO requirements to avoid travel inconveniences.


‘Cordi autonomy to spur Cordillera development’

BAGUIO CITY – Regional autonomy will benefit Cordillerans because they will have greater control of the region’s rich resources with lesser restraint from outside forces and a permanent regional autonomy which are instrumental in speeding up the development in the countryside, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said here following the filing of House Bill 5595 entitled “An Act Establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region.”

“Autonomy is for our children and our children’s children. We do not want them to be continuously suffering the difficulties in life which we are currently encountering because we do not actually have the full control of our resources and the administration of government policies,” Domogan said.

The mayor, who chaired the Third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee that crafted contents of HB 5595 said self-governance will allow the autonomous regional government to control the exploitation, utilization and development of the region’s rich resources.

According to him, the key to the immediate passage of the autonomy law will be the unity of the Cordillerans towards the direction of self-governance so that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III will be convinced to certify that HB 5595 is an urgent administration measure that must be passed by Congress.

Originally, HB 5595 was principally authored by Baguio City Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara, Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang. Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr. and Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog later signed the bill.

Aside from securing the President’s certification that the autonomy bill is an urgent administration measure, Domogan cited all local governments in the region, particularly the 76 towns, 6 provinces and two cities, and other groups pass the necessary resolutions supporting the immediate passage of HB 5595 so that it will serve as an added boost for Congress to fastrack the passage of the measure.

“WE have to give meaning and substance to the constitutional mandate of having an autonomous region in the Cordillera as contained in Article X, Section 15 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Vergara stressed, asserting that all sectors must now get their acts together and facilitate the frequent conduct of grassroots consultations and information and education efforts to inculcate in the minds of Cordillerans the real essence of achieving an autonomous status.

The Cordillera autonomy bill is composed of 17 articles and 173 sections that evolve around five major principles such as the establishment of a permanent regional identity for the Cordillera, no reduction in the benefits and powers of local governments, nationally paid officials and employees will continue to be nationally paid, grant of a subsidy to the Autonomous Regional Government by the national government in the amount of P10 billion for the first five years and P5 billion for the succeeding five years and the continuous support of the national government to the Regional government after the expiration of the 10year subsidy period.

“The goal of a well-balanced and equitable development of the country, its various regions, more so the traditionally left out regions such as the Cordillera must be given the much needed attention it deserves and the same could be achieved with the establishment of an autonomous region,” Agyao added.

The Cordillera Administrative Region was organized by virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 220 which was signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino on July 15, 1987 and it was meant to prepare the region for autonomous status.

Begtang pointed out achieving self-governance will surely allow the development of poor provinces within the autonomous region because of the expected huge share from the subsidy that could be utilized to improve roads and bridges which are vital in spurring economic growth and instrumental in improving the lives of the people in the far flung communities.


Bontoc folks want firm to water woes

By Wabilyn C. Mana-od

BONTOC, Mountain Province - The reactivation of the Bontoc Water District to address water shortage in this capital town gained support from different organizations here including barangay officials during a recent public hearing here.

During the hearing, the pre-investment study regarding the re-activation of the BWD for a sustainable and potable water supply project was presented as initial plan.

The study showed water supply at present is being supervised by the Bontoc Water Unit (BWU) with low clientele coverage of 1023 connections representing 37 percent of the target households of 2750 and 16.3 percent of the total 6275 households and establishments of Bontoc.

Majority of the households (67%) have been sourcing out potable water from small water systems managed by barangay LGUs, enterprising individuals and private groups either by pipes or by truck delivery at prohibitive cost.

In addition, water quality supplied by a few private individuals appeared to have better quality as they were piped from protected springs.

However, most were sourced from open surface water with no assurance of potable quality.

Three major existing water sources included the following: Sullong water source which is still functional water system that supplies the water requirement of Lanao, Sub-ang, part of Loc-ong, Public Market, Poblacion, Eyeb, and houses near the office of the DPWH.

Another is the Bay bay water source which is functional but with low water discharge at the distribution area due to pilferage, leakages and unauthorized connections at barangay Talubin. Lastly is the Balabag water source where the water supply is tapped from open water surface flowing from the creek that supplies the water requirement of Bontoc Ili, Samoki, Caluttit and Poblacion.

With the initiative of the present administration, Mayor Pascual Sacgaca said re-activation of the BWD was a viable option to sustain a potable water supply in the long run.

This was in response to the prevailing problem of the constituents to have clean, safe, adequate and lasting potable water in every household.

After the public hearing, a resolution by the Sangguniang Bayan members was solicited for the re-activation of the Bontoc Water District.

Coordination with the concerned line agencies will be made to formulate the Bontoc water system master plan.

Subsequently, the mayor will appoint the new board of directors while the SB will enact a resolution re-activating the BWD with provisions to appoint the new BOD including the revised bylaws.

The BOD shall be composed of a representative from the civic-oriented service club, one from professional associations, one from the business sector, one from the education sector and one from the women’s organization.

Series of processing and dealings will be mandated before the implementation.

Majority of the population during the public hearing approved to re-activate the Bontoc Water District.

The hearing was attended by Sacgaca, with the support of councilors Eusebio Kabluyen, Bryan Bellang and Wilbert Padngaran including former Gov. Jaime Gomez and former councilor Ciriaco Filog.


P20 million earmarked to energize 47 Benguet sitios

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The energization of non-viable villages will help attract the influx of investors and help improve the living condition of people in far flung communities in the different parts of the province, Gerardo P. Verzosa, general manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative, said, following reports that the energization of 47 sitios in the province funded by the Office of the President to the tune of at least P20 million is about to be completed.

“We have a unique situation in Benguet because our sitios are located far apart from each other which results to the increase in our expenses just to complete the energization of our non-viable areas,” Verzosa stressed, adding that by 2016 all unenergized sitios in Benguet shall have been energized pursuant to the desire of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino to fully implement the rural electrification program of the government.

In his report, Engr. Melchor Licoben, manager of Beneco’s engineering department, said all their rural electrification projects are about to be completed before the end of the year so that they could avail of more funds to continue the energization of still unenergized sitios in 11 out of the 13 towns of the province in the coming years.

“We have approximately 250 sitios distributed in the 11 municipalities which need to undergo energization,” Licoben added, citing that they will continue to conduct the necessary detailed engineering of the unenergized sitios for prioritization.

He disclosed the newly energized sitios are located in Bokod and Kabayan with 8 sitios each; Atok and Tublay with five sitios each, three sitios each in the municipalities of Kibungan, Mankayan, Tuba, Buguias and Itogon; four sitios in Sablan and two sitios in Kapangan.

According to Licoben, the fund was used by Beneco to purchase the necessary poles, wires and other units of equipment that will facilitate the energization of the unenergized areas.

With the power already available in far flung communities, Verzosa explained local residents will be convinced to be engaged in economic activities that will uplift their living condition and create an impact in the economic status of their respective places.

“More importantly, investors, particularly those engaged in resource development, will be enticed to do business in areas identified to be minerally rich and eventually contribute to the development of the remote communities,” he added.

The Beneco official pointed out electricity is an integral part of development, thus, the rural electric cooperative is doing its best to bring power even to the non-viable areas with the hope that local residents will be able to utilize it for progress not only in their living condition but also in the state of their respective communities.

Unlike other lowland areas, Verzosa claimed the peculiar terrain of the province is causing the increase in the expenses required to bring power even to the remotest area of Benguet but they are obliged to do so pursuant to the rural electrification program of the national government.

At present, Beneco has a total of 130,000 residential and commercial consumers with 80 percent based in Baguio City while the rest are distributed in the 13 towns of Benguet.


106 examinees take DOST, OWWA test in Kalinga

By Peter A. Balocnit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – One hundred six examinees took the qualifying exams for scholarship under the sponsorship of the Department of Science and Technology simultaneously with those dependents of Overseas Filipino Workers under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Ninety-eight DOST examinees while eight OFW dependents for OWWA took the qualifying tests at the St. Louis College of Bulanao this city. Fifty took the examination in the ograms sponsored by DOST under RA 7687 selecting two qualifiers for two scholarship slots per province and the merit category for passers with family income of not more than P156,000.00 per annum.

He said results will be released April next year. However, Berto advised examinees not to wait for the results but instead seek admission in college in order not to delay enrolment or disrupt entry to college in case of positive or negative results.

He said scholars under RA 7687 receive higher stipends than those under the merit program.

Under RA 7687, the DOST Science Education Institute will award Bachelor of Science degree scholarship to students to pursue priority fields of study in science, mathematics and engineering, Berto said.

He said DOST-SEI will also award scholarship in Bachelor of Science degree to students with high aptitude in science and mathematics who are willing to pursue fields of science and technology under the merit program.

Meanwhile, students passing the OWWA scholarship can choose any course in any school in the country. Last year, three passed the DOST test while four in the OWWA 2009 test.


Pangasinan man loses fingers to 'super lolo'

DAGUPAN CITY – A 36-year-old man became the first victim of firecracker injuries in Pangasinan when two of his fingers had to be amputated after A “super lolo” went off in his hand, authorities said.

The victim, identified only by his initials J.B. from San Fabian town, was operated on at the Region 1 Medical Center (R1MC) here.

Dr. Roland Mejia, R1MC director, though said there is no let-up in their information campaign against the use of firecrackers during the holidays.

“It’s no longer iwaspatutok (avoid firecrackers) but bawalangpaputok (firecrackers are banned),” he said.

He said lighting firecrackers is not only dangerous to the person lighting them but also to passersby.

Mejia said hospital workers are ready round the clock to respond to emergencies such as firecracker injuries and accidents. -- EV


Hunt on for ‘The butcher’ Palparan

MALOLOS, Bulacan -- Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan can no longer leave the country after a Malolos City regional trial court in Bulacan issued Wednesday a hold departure order (HDO) against him following his indictment for the disappearance of University of the Philippines student activists SherlynCadapan and Karen Empeño in 2006.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed Dec. 14 that Judge Teodora Gonzales of Malolos City RTC Branch 14 had issued the HDO on Palparan and his co-accused, military officers Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado Jr., S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario.

Last Monday morning, Palparan attempted to fly to Singapore but was stopped by an expired watchlist order (WLO). Palparan was offloaded but not detained since the arrest warrant from the court came later in the afternoon.

CCTV footage from the Bureau of Immigration showed Palparan presenting his passport to an immigration officer behind immigration counter 4. Palparan was wearing a beige jacket, white cap and sunglasses. He was questioned by the immigration officer for a few minutes before he was led to the BI office at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and prevented from leaving for Singapore.

De Lima had explained that while the WLO was already expired, it would take an order from her office lifting it for Palparan to be able to leave the country. Still, prosecutors applied for an HDO before the RTC.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had failed to extend the WLO against Palparan due to a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court on its Department Circular No. 41, which gives the department the power to issue WLO and HDO.

Apart from the HDO, De Lima also announced she had ordered a manhunt by the National Bureau of Investigation against Palparan and Hilario, who have reportedly been missing since the issuance of the arrest warrant against them.

She confirmed that efforts to locate the whereabouts of the two accused were unsuccessful.

“I appeal to them to surface and submit themselves to the authorities,” De Lima said.
In the warrant, Palparan’s last residence was listed as Dado St., Wild Cat Village, Barangay Ususan, 1630Taguig City. Hilario’s last residence, on the other hand, was listed as 7th Infantry Division, Fort Magsaysay, Palanan City, Nueva Ecija and/or Dado St., Wild Cat Village, Barangay Ususan, 1630 Taguig City.

The team that went to Palparan’s residence in Taguig came away empty-handed while an investigator said operatives also visited his residence in 11 Late View Drive, BagongIlog in Pasig City but their housemaid claimed she has not seen her boss for over a week now.

Osorio and Anotado, on the other hand, had surrendered to the police last Tuesday.
In indicting the four suspects, the DOJ gave weight to the testimonies of witnesses who were able to establish that Cadapan and Empeño were kidnapped on June 26, 2006 and detained until June 2007.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said Anotado has been placed on floating status while Osorio may be subjected to dismissal proceedings.

Burgos said Hilario, who is also in the charge sheet, has not been in active service since 2008.

Burgos said an officer facing charges is placed on floating status to allow him to answer the allegations against him. The process is different for enlisted personnel, as those facing criminal raps would be dismissed from the service.

Burgos said they are ready to cooperate with investigators to shed light on the disappearance of Cadapan and Empeño in 2006

“We will follow the law. If they need resource persons or documents, we will volunteer assistance,” he said.


Taiwanese poachers pay P1million fine

By Charlie Lagasca

TUGUEGARAO CITY -– Two Taiwanese fishermen, who were apprehended for poaching in May this year, paid a compromise fine amounting to P1.05 million to settle their administrative case before the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The Taiwanese, identified as Hsu Hung Tse and Chen Fu Nan, together with seven Filipino crewmembers, were aboard their fishing vessel F/V JV PHIL5, when apprehended by elements of the BFAR and Philippine Coast Guard last May 21 off the coast of Palanan town in Isabela.

The Filipinos were identified as Pedeto Manungbaga, Pablo Sanchez, Jonathan Abarquez, Asterio Velasco, Roger Sazo, Noel Lomberio, and NisiforoOmela.

BFAR Regional Director JovitaAyson, who acted as complainant in the case, expressed her appreciation saying the hefty fine shall serve as deterrent to other poachers.

The Bureau accepted the compromise fine, although the collected amount is lower than the minimum penalty prescribed under the law for poaching violation.

The Bureau further cited the possibility of flight on the part of the respondents, the difficulty in maintaining airtight evidence and the dire need of the government to come-up with funds to finance vital projects.

The amount collected was remitted to the National Treasury.


P-Noy fund for collapsed dumpsite rehab awaited

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan expressed hopes that the P110 million approved by President Benigno Aquino for the rehabilitation of the collapsed retaining wall at Irisan dumpsite here will be released soon to ensure early implementation of the project.

“Hopefully the national government will release the fund approved in principle early so the project can be expedited and completed hopefully before the onset of the rainy season next year,” the mayor said.

He said the program of work for the project has been submitted to the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The project will cover the reconstruction of the retaining wall which collapsed at the height of a typhoon in August triggering a trash slide that killed six people.

The new structure is designed to withstand strong typhoons and heavy water flow which toppled the erstwhile protective wall in the area.

Earlier, the mayor formed a technical committee to prepare the plans for the rehabilitation of the wall and other reinforcement measures to strengthen the area.

The committee is chaired by city engineer Leo Bernardez and composed of Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Management Bureau (DENR–CAR EMB) regional director Paquito Moreno, DENR– CAR Mines and Geo–Sciences acting regional director Orlando Pineda Sr., city building official Engr. Oscar Flores, Saint Louis University School of Engineering and Architecture Dean Engr. Bonifacio Dela Pena and Non –Government Organization consultant Dr. Virgilio Bautista.


Raps set vs farmers for burning Luisita farms

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga– Police are set to file in court arson charges against several farmers for allegedly setting fire to 300 hectares of sugarcane fields at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac that is owned by the family of President Aquino.

Tarlac City police chief Sup. Arnel Ramos said he was waiting for a complainant to file the charges in his office Dec. 21.

Ramos said the farmers allegedly responsible for the burning of the sugarcane fields in Barangay Balete last week were invited for questioning last Monday.

He said that after the investigation, “we released them because no one filed a complaint against them.”

Ramos said the motive of the suspects in burning the plantation is to force the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management to distribute the lands to the farmers, in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Hacienda Luisita Independent Planters Association, Azucal Incorporated and other farmers from Sugarcane Farming Agricultural Corporation are currently renting the sugarcane plantation from HLI.

Police said that 30 farmers led by Balete councilmen Pual Mallari and Hilario Hipolito, Leonila Halili, Dominador Salian, all of Barangay Balete and Felix Nacpil, chairman of the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) were allegedly involved in the incident where P1-million worth of crops were destroyed.

But in a phone interview, Nacpil said he was not in the area when the incident happened.

Aside from Ambala, farmers’ groups Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) also vehemently denied yesterday accusations they had burned some 300 hectares of the Luisita sugarcane plantation last Dec. 16.

They instead accused the management of Hacienda Luisita of “arson of three parcels of land planted with sugarcane.”

They said the burning was done “so the family of President (Aquino) and the HLI management could put the blame on farm workers and legitimize the filing of criminal cases against leaders and other farm worker beneficiaries.”

UMA secretary general Rodel Mesa said the President’s family and officials of HLI are “definitely behind this well staged political drama to justify the reversal of the decision of the Supreme Court on Hacienda Luisita and the filing of trumped up charges against leaders and members of Ambala.”

The farmers even have their version of what reportedly happened last Dec. 16.

“On Dec. 16, at around 9: 30 a.m., while farm workers were busy harvesting sugarcane in Barangay Balete, members of the Tarlac police and private security personnel of HLI came and told farm workers to stop their work for a while. While engaging the local police force and Luisita personnel in verbal debate, the farm workers suddenly noticed that three parcels of land planted with sugarcane were set on fire by unidentified men,” they said in their statement.

De Mesa also accused the HLI management of “sowing terror among farm worker beneficiaries to compel them to let go of their claims on the land and to the P1.33-billion share from the sale of Luisita lands.”

“Whether the HLI denies it or not, its motive and role in the burning incident last Dec.16 is undeniable,” said Mesa.


Kennon rehab to boost tourism

By Dexter See

BAGUIO CITY – The planned rehabilitation of Kennon Road, the shortest route from the lowlands to this mountain resort city and vice versa, through the Aquino administration’s public private partnership (PPP) will greatly help attract more tourist and investors who will contribute to better economic growth not only for the Summer Capital but also for the Cordillera, Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara, vice chairman of the House Committee on public works, said here last week.

“We had already made representations with the management of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority through its chairman former Bataan Rep. Felicisimo Payumo in order for the State-run corporation to upgrade and rehabilitate the scenic and historic road,” Vergara stressed, adding the BCDA will undertake the feasibility study on the road to ascertain the kind of development to be introduced in order to make it an “all-weather road.”

Kennon Road is one of the three major access roads that leads up to Baguio City from Manila and the provinces in the central and western parts of Luzon. It connects the city with the town of Rosario, La Union.

The other two are Marcos Highway from Agoo, La Union. There are beautiful and scenic sites along Kennon Road such as the Bridal Veil Falls, Bued River gorge, Twin Peaks, Colorado Falls, a pedestrian suspension bridge, the sculptured limestone lion's head, and the spectacular view from the observation deck at the upper end of Kennon Road.

According to Vergara, the BCDA will be using the similar scheme it used to complete the 94-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) in order to upgrade Kennon road so that the 45-minute travel will be further reduced to at least 30 minutes which will serve as an added attraction not only for tourists but also for future investors.

Kennon Road was ordered built by American governor general William Cameron Forbes in 1901. Although originally called Benguet Road, it was named after U.S. Army Colonel Lyman N. Kennon who was its final builder. With the labor of Igorots and some foreign workers, the road was completed in 1903 and has since become a major route to Baguio City.

The inter-connection of an upgraded Kennon road and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will definitely be a big boost to our robust tourism industry and our desire to attract more investors to infuse their capital to the city’s economy. We will do our best to provide the necessary assistance to BCDA in order to complete the rehabilitation of Kennon road,” Vergara added.

The 34-km road is characterized by steep and winding curves that serve as a natural attraction for motorists and visitors who want to drive through it and hurdle the challenge of driving along the mountainous road.

Vergara supports the planned declaration of Kennon road as a national heritage to help preserve it as part of the country’s rich historical and cultural heritage that was placed in the global village due to its scenery and winding curves en route to the city proper.

Because of the natural wear and tear aggravated by earthquakes and typhoons over the past 100 years, Vergara said the government continues to spend millions of pesos in order to maintain it as passage for light vehicles purposely to enhance the growth of the local tourism industry.


Kalinga gov’t, NGO start anti-mercury use in mines

By Gigi Dumallig

BALBALAN, Kalinga-- The provincial government and the non-government organization Ban Toxins (Bantox) have started a project to break off small-scale miners from mercury dependence in local mines here.

Starting the groundwork, information education campaign and demonstration on use of an alternative method was recently conducted at the Gaang Mines of Barangay Sesec-an, this town.

Leoncio Na-oy of Bantox, a nongovenrnment organization member said the IEC included lecture on mercury poisoning and hands-on demonstration on the construction and usage of borax slosh boxes as an alternative for the mercury process in extracting gold.

The miners, he said were very receptive on the idea of adopting a new mining method after getting to more on the devastating effects of mercury on their health and environment.

Having witnessed the demonstration results, the miners became more convinced to shift their methods after discovering that they are able to extract more gold using borax, he said.

He related that during one of the demonstrations, the mercury process has produced 1.2 grams of gold while the borax slosh method extracted 4.3 grams of gold using the same amount of randomly picked ore. Gold quality using borax he said is also higher, which translates to higher selling price for the miners.

Engr. Dominic Sugguiyao of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office said that in an effort to eventually stop mercury usage in local mines, ENRO will include in next year’s work and financial plan the conduct of additional training and the construction of borax slosh boxes for the demonstrations.

Having seen positive reception of the miners, the province he said will emulate the process and introduce the same to other miners who have yet to undergo the training especially in the municipality of Pasil where a larger number of miners are operating.

To strengthen the campaign, there is a proposal for the provincial government to set a policy enforcing mercury ban including proper disposal of products with mercury contents such as used batteries, light bulbs and others.

Bantoxins has selected Balbalan as pilot for their training in the province after getting reports that mercury contamination had been detected in major river networks in the locality.


Ifugao town regulates use of its ambulance

By Dan B. Codamon

LAMUT, Ifugao-- The municipal government here has promulgated policies for proper and effective use of its ambulance to prevent abuses and promote residents’ access to its services.

The policies issued provided that the ambulance should be used only and solely for medical ambulance purposes such as the transport of sick people to and from the Rural Health Unit or in the municipality to any hospital or when a patient requires its use when discharged from any hospital.

It can also be used by personnel of the RHU in the performance of their official functions during medical missions and emergency cases like an outbreak of epidemic and natural disasters .

Prohibited acts in the use of the ambulance are going to seminars meetings, conventions and other similar activities, used as service in going to weddings, funerals and other social occasions in and outside the municipality, parking in front or near bars, disco pubs, folk houses, drinking dens and other similar establishments.

The ambulance will only be driven by the authorized driver of the RHU except in case of incapacity or unavailability of the authorized driver can it be driven by a competent driver who is a permanent driver of the municipal government.

On the other hand, patients who use the ambulance shall be charged the fees based on a radius set from the Municipal Health Office as follows: P300 within 30 kilometer radius and below; P500 from 31-50 kilometer radius, P1,000 from 51-100 kilometer radius and P2,000 from 100-300 kilometer radius.

All fees collected in the use of the ambulance will be issued official receipts and shall be deposited with the Municipal Treasury Office under a Trust Fund for the maintenance of the vehicle.


Espino pushes food programs

By Mar T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- -Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. urged the Region 1 Confederation of Irrigators Associations to help the government fulfill its goal to make the country food sufficient the coming years.

The governor delivered a message during the opening of the two-day confederation congress on December 13 to 14 at the Sison Auditorium here.

Citing Pangasinan as an example, Espino said the province in his younger days, used to be the food basket of Luzon. “When I was young, the province is sufficient with rice and other agricultural products,” he said as he added that it is possible for the region to regain its stature with the full support of the agricultural sector.

This, according to the governor, has brought the present administration to set its sight on improving the province’s agriculture by launching various programs and projects geared to boost and improve the sector.

Manuel Collado, NIA Region 1 manager, commended efforts of the provincial government through the leadership of Espino as he said that a development-oriented leader like him can make the difference.

Collado noted that continuous agricultural assistance from the local government just like what the governor is doing can serve as a winning formula towards agricultural development.

Former Sen. Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who graced the occasion together with Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian, said the need to increase funds for the irrigation program is a must considering Region 1’s main source of livelihood lies on agriculture. “What we need is to focus on irrigation if we want to strengthen agriculture.”

The regional congress opened with the presentation of the NIA’s vision, mission and objectives as well as its thrusts and programs.

Oftociano Manalo, regional federation president, said that the objective of the congress is to strengthen the partnership of their group with the government and other counterpart organizations.

Other topics to be discussed during the congress included, programs and projects of the Department of Agriculture, updates on Philippine Rice, updates on Department of Environment and Natural Resources programs and projects, status reports of National Food Authority, among others.

Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, Jr. also graced the occasion.


P34 M unauthorized benefits: Return money, Pampanga officials, employees asked

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga -- The Commission on Audit has called on officials and employees of the provincial government of Pampanga to return over P34.4 million in unauthorized financial benefits they received last year.

A COA report released Dec. 19 said the grant of the allowance is considered “irregular, illegal, unnecessary and excessive” and a waste of public funds.

Records show that the provincial government gave its officials and employees a total of P34,166,690.52 last year as Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).

COA issued a notice of disallowance and called for a refund in February 2010 but only P263,821.80 of the amount has so far been returned.

State auditors said that under Section 3.1 of COA Circular 85-55-A, any expenditure incurred without adhering to established rules, regulations, procedural guidelines, policies, principles and practices is considered irregular.

“Thus the payment of allowances and other forms of additional compensation without proper authority is an irregular transaction/expenditure,” the audit team said.

“We recommend that management initiate appropriate action to recover the amount of COLA paid without legal basis and be more prudent in the disbursement of government funds in order to avoid wastage and loss,” state auditors added.

COA also urged provincial officials to adhere to the policy that “government funds and property should be fully protected and conserved, and that irregular, unnecessary, excessive or extravagant expenditure should be prevented.”


Tribal woman leader urges youth: Become activists

By Gina Dizon

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Woman leader and social activist Petra Macliing urged the youth here to be social activists.

During the general assembly of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in this capital town early this month, Mother Petra Macli-ing told youth participants to stand up for collective rights amidst any harassment of being branded as “communists.”

The octogenarian woman leader from Bontoc said there is reason to be steadfast for people’s rights for the good of the community.

The militant leader added the regional autonomy waged by CPA leaders in the late 80s has proven right what CPA has been doing and which government eventually followed thereto.

CPA’s quest for Cordillera autonomy has reached a stage where the third attempt for autonomy - House Bill 5595 was signed by Cordillera congressmen and eventually set for a plebiscite.

Earlier, the Third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee chaired by Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan drafted the organic act for the region’s third attempt to have the Cordillera be in a state of regional autonomy.

The previous two government-led attempts failed in the plebiscites in 1991 and 2000.

And so with other ideals furthering indigenous cultural practises that CPA has been advocating for years before these were enacted into laws and espoused now by government including education, agriculture and environmental departments.

Mother Petra as she is fondly called is an epitome of courage where she serves as a member of the Advisory Council of CPA.

CPA members said women leaders like Mother Petra was one among 200 men and women who drove away Benguet Mining Corporation prospectors who went to Mainit in the ‘70s by baring their breasts in protest actions.

A founding member of the Kalinga-Bontoc Peace Pact Holders Association, she also helped organize women in Kalinga against the Chico Dam in the 70’s.

During the CPA’s assembly, issues discussed included large scale mining companies having occupied 66% of Cordillera land alongside militarization. It was also cited that military elements have been using public building including schools as their quarters in the past year in some areas in the Mountain Province and currently now in Sadanga.

In the same occasion, elder and Movement for the Advancement of Inter Tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD) leader Jaime ‘Tigan-o’ Dugao said that aforementioned issues have consistently confronted the Cordillera requiring leaders and communities to continuously assert their rights as indigenous peoples.


Baguio gets P200 million for more arterial roads

ByDexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – This country’s Summer Capital got funding support from the national government for the construction of more arterial and bypass roads that will help decongest increasing traffic congestions.

Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara, vice chairman of the House committee on public works, bared this announcing the availability of at least P200 million for the construction of four arterial and bypass roads in the different parts of the city to boost the city’s linkage with other neighboring towns of Benguet.

Based on Vergara’s list of projects, P50 million each will be earmarked for the construction of the Irisan-Balenben-Pinsao arterial road, the Ambiong-Lamut-Ambuclao arterial road, the Kisad road-Gov. Pack by pass road and the Magsaysay Avenue-Bell Church-South Sanitary Camp bypass road.

The construction of the four new arterial roads around the city is apart from the completion of the 21-kilometer Baguio circumferential road that would link the city’s western and eastern links through the interconnection of major roadlines that cut through the said areas.

With the construction of more arterial roads, the veteran lawmaker expressed confidence that there will be a significant reduction in the heavy volume of traffic in the central business district area since motorists will be forced to take the arterial roads en route to their destinations due to lesser inconvenience and traffic congestions.

Aside from providing alternate routes to vehicles who are often trapped in traffic, Vergara added the building of the new arterial and bypass roads will surely result in growth of businesses outside the city’s central business district area since more investors will be enticed to infuse their capital in potential and strategic locations outside the city but near busy roads that will also help in generating employment opportunities for local residents.

The construction boom in the city is pursuant to the Aquino administration’s desire to have all national roads improved and concreted by the year 2014 and the subsequent concreting of all secondary arterial roads by the end of the administration in 2016.

Because of the expected influx of more infrastructure projects in the coming years, the congressman challenged project implementers to show their ability to complete their awarded works on time and with the right quality amidst the serious negative effects of the continuous afternoon rains so that they will be given a chance to implement more infrastructure projects in the coming years.

Aside from new arterial roads, other vital infrastructure projects which are expected to be constructed around the city to provide convenience to motorists and pedestrians include an underpass along the junction of Naguilian and Bokawkan roads, several overpasses within the central business district, improvement of several deteriorating national roads among others which will again greatly bring back the robust economy of the city which had been stagnant for almost six years due to the change in the city’s administration.


Ifugao town PNP warns public of firecrackers

By Mhars B. Lihgawon

LAMUT, Ifugao -- The municipal police office here warned to the public against the use of firecrackers during the yuletide season saying these are dangerous to one’s health and limb.

In a radio interview, SPO2 Vermose Atluna said that if possible all residents should observe the “Iwas paputok” policy of the government for a safer and happy holiday season.

“People should refrain from buying destructive pyrotechnics to avoid unwanted accidents caused by these firecrackers that might lead to permanent disability or even death,” the police officer said.

Atluna said that during the past years their office recorded cases of accidents in the different barangays inflicted by these pyrotechnics particularly firecrackers.

“To avoid being a victim of firecrackers, celebrate the holiday season with your families in a productive way as others are doing,” he reiterated.

Meanwhile, Atluna disclosed that the Philippine National Police (PNP) was also tasked to strictly implement the Toy Gun ordinance of the municipality banning the purchase, sale, display and distribution of pellet toy guns particularly those that are exact replica of real guns.

“The ordinance states that it is prohibited for business establishments, ambulant vendors and for any person to display, sell or distribute toy guns that are exact replicas of real guns that use pellet as bullets,” Atluna explained.

The penalties for violating the provisions of the ordinance are as follows: for individuals arrested, first offense will be a fine of P1,000 while second offense, P 2,000 or six months imprisonment.

For establishments and ambulant vendors, the first offense is a fine of P2,000 while second offense is P2,500 or six months imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

Furthermore, a tipster shall be given 20 percent incentive from the collected fine in feeding the secret information to the police.

In case of confiscation, all confiscated toy guns shall be inventoried and kept under the custody of the operations unit of the local police to be burned during the first month of the quarter as a special activity of the Municipal Peace and Order Council.


City set to develop Mines View Park

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government plans to redevelop Mines View Park here to restore its glory as a promenade center and tourist destination.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said they have allocated P4 million in this year’s budget for the improvement of the park which he said will begin as soon as the vendors vacate the park’s premises and move to the satellite market building constructed by the city government nearby.

The satellite market project that cost P50 million was intended to house the legitimate vendors occupying the park along with the barangay hall, multi-purpose hall, day care center and health center of the barangay. It was envisioned to solve the vending problem and put back order in the area in the hope of reclaiming its status as a park and favorite tourist hub.

The mayor said the city government will fast track the screening of the vendors to be accommodated in the satellite marker based on the guidelines and master list of legitimate grantees along with the Memorandum of Agreement between the city government and the Mines View Open Market Vendors Association and the Mines View barangay.

“We hope to speed up the process so we can start the redevelopment of Mines View to bring it back to its old condition as a park and tourist spot,” the mayor said.

Mines View was delisted as a park by the Dept. of Tourism (DOT) after vendors mushroomed and turned the site into an eyesore.

As planned, the legitimate vendors will be immediately relocated to the satellite market upon completion based on guidelines to be set by the city government.

The area will be then be cleared and spruced up to restore its erstwhile appearance and ambience as a promenade center.


Emulating Jesus Christ


It is only once a year that we celebrate the birth of Christ, so we deem it fitting to stray way from our usual hard-hitting editorials on corruption in government and the evil ways of those in power particularly during the previous administration.

So let us cite some Christian doctrines like the best way to live a peaceful life is to emulate Jesus Christ’s way by embracing the values of peace, forgiveness, love, hope and humility.

Another Christian doctrine is forgiving those who sinned against us. But for this nation to be more peaceful, those who have done evil deeds like murder, corruption, poll fraud, among other transgressions of the law, should be made accountable for their sins

Considering that God gave his only begotten son to save mankind, people must also learn to practice love in order to prevent conflicts at home, in the community and the country.

The best way, priests exhort, is to reflect on Jesus Christ’s way of life and start reforming to do better the coming year.

People must be hopeful for progress and improvement in their living condition the coming years, they are told, because hope will keep people up on their feet to meet challenges that confront them and hurdle them.

Humility is one trait Christianity teaches. But how often have we seen people, particularly those in government who have acted the opposite.

For those in government, priests have often exhorted that they should institute reforms in themselves and in their offices so that the impression of the public on their competence to serve their constituents will not be compromised because of the wrong deeds of a few of them.

There are a lot more. But like we said, the yuletide season should be a time for a ceasefire and respite from bickering, backbiting, wheeling dealing and other evil ways. Let us hope the government will do more for the people this coming year particularly in going after crooks and in improving the economy.

So peace be unto you and here’s hoping for a more peaceful and prosperous new year.


Improving gov’t services in Cordillera / Rights violators

Alfred P. Dizon

The Civil Service Commission- Cordillera Administrative Region has released its “report card survey” results of the performance of Cordillera agencies and there is much to be desired in improving these.

Out of the 35 agencies surveyed, 20 passed and 15 failed. Fernando M. Porio, regional CSC director said those who failed will undergo the Service Delivery Excellence Program to improve their processes and procedures on frontline services delivery. The RCS results were furnished the heads of agencies for them to consider the recommendation.

The survey is a CSC program required by Republic Act 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007. More agencies are targeted to be subjected to the survey in 2012 to promote efficiency in government.

The RCS aimes to check on compliance of government agencies with the ARTA provision on its Citizen’s Charter to include, “no lunch break” rule, anti-fixer campaign, service quality, help desk, physical working condition and client satisfaction.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan has cited the government’s commitment to press charges against former Maj. Gen. JovitoPalparan and several others for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of two University the Philippines students

Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, expressed hope this will send a strong signal to those believing they are still protected by a cloak of impunity. Pangilinan called on the courts to also resolve similar cases of disappearances, especially under the past regime.

The senator made the call as Malacañang accused detained former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of protecting Palparan during her administration.

“Retired Major General Jovito Palparan, formerly so bold and brazen, and lavishly coddled by the former administration, is now a fugitive from justice,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“Come out, come out wherever you are,” Lacierda said in a statement. “While he no longer has men under his command, and while he can no longer behave with impunity, it is incumbent upon Mr. Palparan to submit to the authorities and face the charges in court,” Lacierda added.

“We hope that he will face the music and face the charges. Surrender now,” he said. –

Palparan is now on the run after a local court in Bulacan province ordered his arrest in connection with a kidnapping and illegal detention case filed by the Department of Justice.

Judge Teodora Gonzales of Malolos Regional Trial Court branch 14 issued the warrant against Palparan, accused in the disappearance of University of the Philippines students SherlynCadapan and Karen Empeño.

The retired military official is being accused as mastermind in the disappearance of the two students in 2006. Abducted with the two students was farmer Manuel Merino.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said copies of the warrant of arrest were earlier furnished to the National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to serve it.

The warrant of arrest was issued a day after the former military general, who has been tagged by activists as "The Butcher," attempted to leave the country via a SeaAir flight bound for Singapore.

The Bureau of Immigration said that Palparan was offloaded from the Singapore-bound flight at around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the DiosdadoMacapagal International Airport in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.

Palparan had protested that he should have been allowed to leave since the watchlist order issued against him by the Department of Justice has already expired. De Lima, however, said that the watcthlist order remains effective since it has not been officially lifted.

Human rights group Karapatan has called on the justice department to transfer Palparan's case to another court due to security reasons.

The group demanded a change venue from Malolos Regional Trial Court to Metro Manila RTC because of what they called real security risks to complainants, witnesses and attorneys.

It is high time alleged human rights violators like Palparan are made to answer for their crimes. And for starting this by filing charges against Plaparan, the Aquino administration deserves credit.


The rich and the poor

Perry Diaz

Recently, a small group of less than 50 people gathered and camped at the Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in New York City – the hub of America’s financial institutions. They’re concerned that the middle class in America is shrinking – nay, vanishing! -- with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and growing in numbers. They just want to be heard. They called themselves, “Occupy Wall Street” and vowed to stay until they’re heard. But they were ignored. The financial executives went about their business, unmindful of the world outside their glistening ivory tower.

Instead, the protesters were ridiculed. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, called them, “mobs.” Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told the protesters: “Don’t blame the banks. Don’t blame the financial institutions. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!”

Within four weeks, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement spread like a prairie fire in 190 cities across America. Last October 15, similar “Occupy” movements mushroomed around the world in solidarity with the “Occupy Wall Street.” Called “International Day of Action,” demonstrations in 951 cities and 82 countries were planned for this weekend. Their goal was to “elevate local social justice issues into one worldwide demonstration.”

It’s a phenomenon never before seen in human history! And like their American counterparts, protesters in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin American, and Africa chanted the cry that the “Occupy Wall Street” movement started, “We are the 99%!”

One of the first demonstrations in Europe was held in Milan, Italy where protesters pelted the police with fruits. And like a lashing tsunami, the “Occupy” demonstrations spread Rome, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, London, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Manila, Sidney, and other cities around the world.

The worldwide “Occupy” movement is beginning to look like the “people power” movement in the Philippines in 1986 and in Europe in 1989. The “people power” movement then was against dictatorial and totalitarian regimes. Today, the “Occupy” movement is about the evil of corporate greed and the excesses of wealthy capitalists whose unregulated policies and profiteering schemes have caused the financial meltdown in the U.S. in 2008, which eventually caused a global recession.

In 1984, when millions of Ethiopians were starving from famine, the late singing icon Michael Jackson wrote the “We’re the World” song with Lionel Richie to raise funds for the starving Ethiopians. The people of the world heard the song and they gave money.

Today, it’s not just hunger for food that’s threatening the world. People around the world are hungry for social justice! If the world’s present civilization is to survive -- and thrive -- social justice must prevail and government must provide social services to the unfortunate poor, the jobless, the sick, and the infirm. We cannot be the Sparta of today where the weak and feeble do not have a place in a society built only for the strong. Nor can we be the land of “Herrenvolk” where people who do not fit the mold are shunned and treated as sub-humans. We cannot turn back the clock to those dark ages.

As the population of the world continues to grow, resources become scarcer. It did not then come as a surprise that the “Occupy” movement sprouted like mushrooms -- they multiply when lightning strikes.

Little did the handful of young Americans who gathered peacefully at Zuccotti Park realize that they were about to start a “people power” movement driven by the desire to live in peace and prosperity. They just wanted to air their grievances to the executives of the financial institutions on Wall Street. They just wanted to be heard. Instead, the police responded with brutality on the demonstrators. One police officer was caught on video as he pepper sprayed a cowering unarmed woman.

The image of that senseless police brutality struck the world like lightning. The people of the world responded. -- (PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


Sad Christmas stories for Mindanao victims

March L. Fianza

The following stories were lifted from the internet. Incidentally, the month of December is the month of volunteerism. Thus, the stories struck a chord as Pinoys and races all over want to contribute anything to help the victims in Mindanao tragedy.

I do not know how or why the stories connect to the acts of volunteerism in the south. I just felt that these were truly interesting stories that reveal the many faces of life at a time when people are supposed to rejoice and celebrate the birth of Christ.

On Christmas Eve in the trenches in Flanders fields in 1914, suddenly in the still of the freezing night a young German voice began singing “StilleNacht” (Silent Night).

Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony. As soon as they were finished there was a pause. Then from across the trenches a young English soldier sang out loud and clear“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and the other English soldiers sang in harmony.

Then both sides sang “Silent Night” together in two different languages. After a considerable pause the lone figure of a young German walked out between the trenches
into “No Man's Land.”

Then the soldiers on both sides slowly walked out to join him. The soldiers from opposing sides shook hands, hugged and traded chocolates, cigarettes, photographs, scotch and cognac.

The Christmas carols resounded throughout the frozen fields of Flanders. Soon daylight was upon them and with sad farewells they returned to the trenches to continue the fighting. A sad but true story.
One cold winter Christmas Eve, there was a family who lived in the slums of Brooklyn. The family lived in an old run-down apartment, suitable for rats.

The wife wanted to buy a chain for her husband's damaged watch, but did not have enough money. She was frantic and overwhelmed in panic. She did not know what to do... her Christmas would be ruined! She thought and thought until she came up with an idea. She decided to sell her hair at the local salon.

She entered the salon and was quickly examined by the stylist. The hair stylist was astonished in not finding damaged hair. So the wife and the stylist bargained until it resulted in the wife receiving $20 for her hair – just enough to buy the chain.

She looked at herself and saw that she looked hideous, but she did not care and cloaked her head with a shawl. She purchased the watch chain and left for home. She wrapped the chain in newspaper and sat quietly waiting for her husband to return from work that afternoon.

The husband returned and entered the house. He said nothing as the wife saw that he had a grin upon his face.

After dinner, they sat next to the warm stove. The wife then pulled out the gift and gave it to the husband. The husband looked confused, but opened it.

He was in tears when he saw the gift, because he had sold his watch to buy a gift for the wife. He pulled out his gift, which was a hair brush for his wife's delicate hair. Both the wife and husband wept. The love within the family had proven that they would sacrifice anything it took to see happiness upon their partner.
As of yesterday, reports had it that the death toll in the Mindanao flooding reached a high of 1,010. Secretary of Interior and Local Governments Jesse Robredo said he was happy with the response of the private sector in the floods of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

As fast as news reports of the Mindanao tragedy were updated, people started donating medicine and food, launched relief operations, non-government organizations sent doctors and forensic medical examiners, and volunteer from all over wanted to help in every way they can.

In an individualistic and self-centered society, volunteerism such as what has been happening recently in Mindanao is an exceptional and an isolated gesture of unselfish neighborliness.

Definitely, in most third world communities, reciprocal self-help is fundamental to the continued existence of rural communities. This was commonly seen in farmers in the barrios who help each other bring in harvests, assist in the construction of houses, transfer the same houses from one site to another thru the bayanihan way, cooperate in maintaining roads, among other activities.

In the 19th Century, population growth and urbanization, industrialization, and the use of money as the means of trade and exchange weakened and diluted mutual assistance and community cooperation.

However, volunteerism came back in the early 20th Century in answer to the devastation wrought by the First World War, when former soldiers who were former enemies decided to volunteer and reconstruct a village that was destroyed in their war that killed more than a million lives.

That cooperative volunteerism displayed by former soldiers who were former enemies resulted to the creation of the first international voluntary service movement.

From that time on, volunteerism wore many masks. It built friendships across continents, provided jobless people useful social work in exchange for food and shelter, it reached out to the poorest of the poor anywhere in the world.

And so, the US Peace Corps Volunteers, British Volunteer Program, the Japanese Overseas Volunteer Corps, among others, were born and recognized by the UN Volunteers Program.

Among them, the biggest humanitarian movement called the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was founded to have today an estimated number of 100 million volunteers, roughly more than the population of the Philippines.

Since then, volunteerism has taken many forms and has involved a wide range of people. It has been involved in medicine, emergency rescue, and response to a natural disaster, extinguishing fire, education, environmental protection, community service, orphanage work, donating cash, cultural heritage, social justice, rural and human development, and even free legal assistance.

The volunteerism of Mother Theresa has inspired people to emulate her so that most of the volunteers from more developed countries in the West choose the Third World such as India, Africa and Southeast Asia as their volunteering destinations.

December is the month of volunteers who are always remembered for their deeds. They are now in Mindanao.

To quote Scholar-Teacher and Boy Scout administrator Forest E. Witcraft, he once said: "one hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house you lived in... what kind of car you drove... what your bank balance was... but what will matter most is that you were important in the life of a child.”

May you all have a blessed Christmas. – marchfianza777@yahoo.com


Democracy and autonomy

Ka IkingSeneres

We are a democracy and our Constitution allows the impeachment of the Chief Justice. Simply put, when a Chief Justice is impeached, it does not mean that our democracy is already threatened. The same Constitution provides for the independence of the Judiciary.

There is no question about that, but when a Chief Justice is impeached, it does not also mean that the independence of the Judiciary is already threatened.

The Chief Justice is a person, and if and when he is impeached, it does not mean that neither the Supreme Court nor the Judiciary is already being impeached. Since we are a democracy, we have to go through democratic processes and impeachment is one such process.

Although Chief Justice Renato Corona was already impeached as far as the Lower House is concerned, his impeachment still has to be affirmed by the Upper House, sitting as the impeachment court. It is not the job of the Senate to decide whether to impeach him or not, because he was already impeached. Their job is to decide whether to affirm his impeachment or not.

Since the Constitution allows the impeachment of the Chief Justice by the Lower House of the Congress, there is really no constitutional crisis now as Chief Justice Corona would like us to believe, because it was only him as a person who was impeached, and not the entire Supreme Court. If ever there is a crisis as he would like us to believe, it is probably just a personal crisis that he alone should face, meaning that he should not have dragged the Supreme Court and the entire Judiciary into it.

Being a democracy, we are subject to party behavior and that too, is part of the democratic process. If the Liberal Party decided to impeach Corona as a party action, it was their prerogative to do so, and it was also the prerogative of their own party members to go along with the party decision or not. If they were able to gather the majority as they did, there should be no question about that either, because they are the majority party and it is as simple as that.

Following the logic that an accused person is deemed innocent until proven guilty, Corona should look at his present personal situation simply as that, meaning that he should deem himself innocent, and leave it to the impeachment court to find him guilty, if indeed he is. Perhaps what he is saying is that he should not have been impeached because the Judiciary is independent, but that is not how our democracy works. As it is now, he could not be charged in an ordinary court because of his immunity, but it would be too much to think that he should be immune from impeachment too.

Perhaps Corona knows too well that impeachment is a political process, and not a legal process. The question really is not whether he is guilty or not, but whether it is politically expedient to affirm his impeachment or not. This is probably the reason why he is trying to portray his case as a political issue, to somehow build up the political capital that he does not have.

Meanwhile, his political adversary President Noynoy Aquino has all the political capital that he needs. His popularity rating has already reached about about 80%, breaking all known historical popularity records in the presidency. His move to prosecute Gloria has probably attained about 90% approval, if it is measured now. It remains to be seen how much public approval the move to impeach Corona would get, but it is likely to be very high too, since the public knows that Corona is a protege of Gloria.

We are a democracy and the will of the majority has put President Aquino in power. As his victory in the polls was affirmed further by the steady increase in his popularity ratings, there is no question that he has the solid mandate of the people to do what he wants to do for the good of the people. This is democracy at work, and we should savor it while it lasts, after it was stolen many times by you know who.

For feedback, email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639997333011


Mayor-operator uses goons, defies authorities; claims he is close to P-Noy: Illegal quarrying poses danger to Ilocos towns

>> Sunday, December 25, 2011

By Mar T. Supnad

TAGUDIN, Ilocos Sur -- Provincial and Environment officials in the province expressed alarm last week over massive illegal quarrying along the Amburayan Bridge in this town posing danger not only to property but also to lives of three towns in this province and in nearby La Union.

As this developed, Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson directed the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and the province’s committee on environment led by board member Robert Tudayan to file an environmental case against Mayor RoqueVersoza and the barangay captain in the area.

Tudayan, a lawyer, said illegal quarrying constitutes “violation of the people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

The quarry is allegedly operated by the mayor at the Amburayan River which divides the provinces of Ilocos Sur and La Union.”

Singson said despite repeated demands for Mayor to stop his alleged illegal quarrying “no one can stop him since he is claiming to be a close political leader of PresidentAquino.”

According to Singson, even the personnel of PENRO cannot prevent the illegal quarrying along the endangered Amburayan river since the mayor deployed armed goons and policemen in the area to protect the illegal quarrying.

Versoza cannot be reached for comment.

Tudayan said “the illegal quarry which is currently being operated downstream and is about to be operated upstream of the newly built giant Amburayan Bridge, poses danger to the life and safety of the residents of the uunicipalities of Tagudin in Ilocos Sur and Bangar and Sudipen in La Union particularly barangays situated near river banks.”

Tudayan reported to Singson that the “illegal quarry certainly poses danger to the life and safety of the people since the mayor undertakes the quarry not at the mainstream of the Amburayan River but near the river banks and near the houses of the residents thereby causing the flow of the water to run near the houses of the residents.”

Worst, Tudayan said the illegal quarry may likewise affect the newly built P500-M Amburayan Bridge because the continued operation near the bridge would certainly cause the collapse of the bridge.

Tudayan said in 2005, a memorandum of agreement was entered by and between the province of IlocosSur,the Department orf Public Works and Highways, the DENR-Region 1, and Mayor Versoza to conduct dredging operation to divert flow of the river away from residents living near the river banks who have been repeatedly suffering from flood and to collect taxes and fees on materials hauled out of the river and remit the same to the barangays concerned and to the province.

Tudayan said however that sometime in 2007, they received reports that the municipal mayor of Tagudin was no longer conducting dredging on the Amburayan River but instead, was already engaged in illegal quarrying.

This prompted the Provincial Board to investigate the supposedly dredging and found out the municipality of Tagudin had been engaged in illegal quarrying and illegally imposing taxes for the hauled sand and gravel, said Tudayan.

The SangguniangPanlalawigan of Ilocos Sur issued Resolution No. 076 Series of 2007 revoking and cancelling the MOA which authorized the respondent to conduct dredging operation at the Amburayan River.

The MOA was revoked because of the violation committed by respondent mayor when he allowed the quarrying operation at the Amburayan River instead of Dredging only as embodied in the MOA, said Tudayan.

Worse,Tudayan said, because of Versoza’s allegation that he had passed an ordinance for the expansion of quarry at the Amburayan river, he is now conducting quarry operations downstream of the Amburayan Bridge and is about to proceed upstream of the said bridge.

“This illegal action would undoubtedly place the people of Tagudin,and the people of the Sudipen and Bangar, particularly those living along the river banks to the perils of losing their lives,” Tudayan added.


Indian lender shot dead

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– An Indian national was shot dead last week while collecting debts in a village in Santiago City, Isabela.

Authorities said the victim, Chander Subhash, 37, was collecting debts from sari-sari stores in Barangay Nagassican when two motorcycle-riding men fired at him. He sustained 11 bullet wounds.


DOH probes trucks dumping toxic hospital waste in landfill

CAPAS, Tarlac, -- The Department of Health is now investigating last week’s attempt to dump untreated toxic medical waste at a landfill here saying it will do its part in protecting the environment by ensuring responsible disposal of hospital waste.

DOH-National Capital Region Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said the DOH is currently investigating the liability of the said hospitals in the reported attempt by Chevalier Enviro Services to dump their medical waste in Metro Clark Landfill in Capas.

At least 12 private hospitals in Metro Manila are included in the DOH investigation for being the source of the reported attempt to dump the untreated medical waste in the landfill.

Last week, authorities intercepted the two trucks of medical waste owned by CES, which attempted to dump hazardous medical waste from the 12 hospitals without undergoing the necessary processing in its waste treatment facility in Parañaque City.

“We now assessing the contract entered by these hospitals with Chevalier Enviro Services require them to at least disinfect the medical waste before it is disposed,” Janairo explained.

The DOH earlier submitted samples of the recovered medical waste to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for analysis.

Medical wastes like discarded human and animal anatomical parts, disposable syringes, outdated and contaminated drugs, are considered hazardous to public health since it may spread infections and expose people to poisonous substances.

Janairo said the 12 hospitals may face the cancellation of their licenses if it will be proven they failed to disinfect the said medical wastes before transferring to CES.

He declined to disclose the name of the hospitals due to the pending investigation.

Meanwhile, Janairo said the CES may face sanctions from DENR, which includes a fine, closure, and even imprisonment if it will be proven the company neglected it to properly treat medical wastes.

He said this is the first time DoH have received such a report since each hospital usually has its own health waste management officer to ensure medical waste will be properly disposed.
In line with this development, DoH Secretary Enrique Ona ordered DoLE-NRC to intensify it monitoring on the waste disposal of public and government hospitals to prevent similar incidence.

“Hospitals and public health care units are supposed to safeguard the health of the community. They should not be irresponsible in disposing their health care waste as it can pose an even greater threat to health than the original diseases they carry,” Ona said.


Folks warned on use, sale of firecrackers

BAGUIO CITY – Department of Health authorities warned residents in the region on hazards of using firecrackers or other forms of pyrotechniques this yuletide season even as the city council here has set guidelines on distribution, sale and use of fireworks and pyrotechnic devices here.

The city guidelines were culled from recommendations of the committee on market, trade and commerce and was contained in Resolution 418 series of 2011 approved by the body last month.

The guidelines:

“*The distribution, sale and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices in the City of Baguio, as enumerated under R.A. No. 7183, entitled, “An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture and Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices” specifically Sec. 2 thereof shall be allowed except as otherwise provided in paragraph 2 hereof;

“*All other firecrackers and pyrotechnics, including and especially those of such explosive content that may endanger life and limb, such as bawang, baby rocket, triangle, judas belt pooled firecrackers, luces, jumbo regular and special, whistle bomb, five star, sawa, atomic big tranggulo, super lolo, kwiton (giant kwitis) and watusi when ingested are hazardous or fatal and their equivalents, are hereby prohibited.

Therefore, the following fireworks/pyrotechnic devices, such as sparklers or any of its kind except luces, roman candles, fountains and the like, trompillo, kwitis, pailaw, pop pops, aerials like dragon, tiger and platinum products, are allowed;

“*The City Police Director, Philippine National Police, Baguio City, the City Fire Marshal, Baguio City Fire Bureau, the Emergency Medical Service, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and other volunteer emergency assistance groups, are hereby requested to strictly implement these guidelines;

“*A “Task Force Paputok” is requested to be created by the City Mayor whose task shall be to inspect the quantities and kinds of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices sold and held in stock by or in the possession of every licensed distributor, retailer or wholesaler, and to conduct an inventory of same to ensure that the storage of said materials is properly made so as not to endanger the lives and property of the people. The said inventory shall be submitted to the City Administrator for information/record purposes;

“*Only those persons/entities duly authorized by Special Business Permits to distribute and/or sell the firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices herein allowed to distribute and sell such product in the City of Baguio;

“*The sole venue for the distribution and sale hereof shall strictly be inside the Old City Auditorium, Burnham Park, Baguio City and such distribution and sale shall be limited to their registered place of business;

“*The duration of sale and distribution shall be from December 20 to December 31, 2011; and

“*Any violation of these guidelines shall be dealt with in accordance with Sec. 11 of the RA 7183 which specifically states that a fine of not less than P20,000.00 nor more than P30,000.00 will be imposed or; imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than one year or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court to include the revocation and or cancellation of the business permit/s.”

The resolution was approved by a majority of votes. Councilors Isabelo Cosalan, PhilianWeygan-Allan and Joel Alangsab voted against while Councilor Peter Fianza abstained from voting. Councilors NicasioAliping Jr. and Karminn Cheryl DinneyYangot were out during the voting.


Isabela residents rally behind ethanol plant

SAN MARIANO, Isabela -- Thousands of villagers, farmers and local officials recently gathered here to call for creation of a zone for peace in line with their clamor to promote peace in the area.

The municipal government initiated the gathering to highlight the need for peace. This is also their way of showing their support for the bio-ethanol project and the sugarcane plantation in the area.

Multinational firm Green Future Innovations Inc. (GFII) is the company behind the bio-ethanol plant that has jumpstarted social and economic development in the province and adjacent areas.

The plant will produce ethanol from an 11,000-hectare sugarcane plantation in and around San Mariano’s 30-kilometer radius.

The project has yet to be completed, but this early, farmers are already reaping the benefits of progress, as they have received financial and technological assistance from the sugarcane plantation managed by Ecofuel Land Development Inc.

Once the bio-ethanol plant is operational, more jobs would be available. Given the employment opportunity, majority of the residents, including local officials, are in favor of the project.

More than 1,000 residents even signed a petition for the zone for peace to reiterate their call for peace and development in the municipality. A copy of the petition will be given to President Aquino, congressmen, the Commission on Human Rights and other government agencies.

Jose Wanol, president of the multi-sectoral group AlamatKa, who is also a signatory to the petition, said, “We all know how San Mariano was in the past, and what it is today. Let us not let anything happen to hamper our road to success. We should support moves for change and development that is right in our midst.”

San Mariano Mayor Edgar Go thanked the participants in the peace gathering, which coincided with the International Human Rights Day, and reiterated his support for the bio-ethanol project.


Storm-affected farmers receive free rice seeds

By Mhars B. Lihgawon

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- Farmers in this municipality affected by typhoons Pedring and Quiel received free certified rice seeds from the government last week.

According to Elizabeth Bulayo of the Municipal Agriculture Office, about 863 rice farmers were given various kilos of certified rice seeds as calamity assistance from the Department of Agriculture and the local government of Lagawe.

The sacks of certified rice were delivered by the DA for distribution to the farmers in the municipality based on actual damages.

“The number of kilos given to beneficiaries were not the same since we based from the submitted actual damages incurred by each farmer,” Bulayo explained.

She said that different barangays submitted lists of farmers affected by the twin typhoons that badly affected the province in September, for verification to ensure the actual beneficiaries.

The municipality of Lagawe incurred a total of P37,414,650 worth of damages to agriculture that covered 1,378.9 hectares. For livestock, she said that about 187 heads worth P.82 million were also affected by the twin typhoons.


10 Kalinga firms covered in DOST export program

By Larry Lopez

TABUK, Kalinga-- Ten small firms in the province were selected clients under the Department of Science and Technology’s manufacturing productivity extension for export promotion.

According to DixiCatacutan of DOST provincial office, the program provides business enhancement to clients to upgrade product quality and expand operation.

The program has already attended to the development of 11 firms engaged in food processing, gift textile handicraft and furniture in the operatives.

This time the 10 firms are into food manufacturing- BITICK Women Wine Makers, Mayta’s Meat Processing, Bulaglag Bakery, NitzNutri-snack, Gramp’s Bakery, Balawag Saver’s SKA Coffee Processing, Theresa’s Veggie Noodles, Kalinga Food Treat, Binguet Food Production and VBS Food Products.

In helping clients make their business grow, MPEX provides progress interventions that would hasten small entrepreneurs develop business standards.

In the case of the 10 small firms, Catacutan informed these do not even have simple book keeping that would show if their operation is making profit or not.

How to develop big exporters starts from teaching small traders the basic business practices and strategies and exposing them to market expansions, Catacutan explained.

The program also develops production capabilities of the manufacturing sector helping them become potential exporters.

Client firms under the MPEX are recommended by the Department of Trade and Industry while others are existing proponents of DOST projects.

In the province, DOST set a MPEX seminar for 35 small manufacturers on leadership and shop floor management as part of its business development assistance.


Basic education grads have employable skills -TESDA

By Lito Dar

BAGUIO CITY - - Through the national government’s K + 12 basic education reform program, high school graduates will soon have the necessary technical-vocational education and skills development that would give them a very good opportunity to be employed or to be entrepreneurs at young age.

Undersecretary Milagros Dawa-Hernandez, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Deputy Director General bared this in an interview here.

According to Hernandez, part of the priority agenda of President Benigno Aquino III is to reform the country’s basic education as the Philippines is one of only two remaining countries that still have a 10 year basic education. “Our high school graduates today even if they graduate as valedictorian lack the tech-voc skills education and training that could immediately provide them a better opportunity for employment or to start a livelihood.”

The K+12 requires all incoming students to enroll two more years of basic education.

The K+12 system will include Universal kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school with an additional two years for senior high school. The 6-year-high school is set to be implemented next school year .

“Through the K +12 basic education program, tech-voc education and skills development will be embedded in the curriculum of basic education, particularly on the higher years or from grade nine to 12 and through TESDA regular high school graduates could also get a National Certification (NC I or II) if they pass the required assessment”, she said.

According to Hernandez, the objective is to provide pre-employment education and skills to young people since not all high school graduates are capable or fortunate enough to pursue higher education and that not all needs to take one just to get a good employment or entrepreneurship opportunity.

“It is also a fact that not all Filipinos need to be a graduate of higher education, since there is a very high demand among different industries for nationally certified highly skilled Filipino workers. Skilled Filipino workers are among the best workers all over the world that we can proud off,” Hernandez said.

Through the K + 12 basic education program, we are looking at a yearly average of about 1.2 million high school students that already have tech-voc education and skills training wherein upon graduation can even be nationally certified by TESDA (up to NC II level), upon passing the needed certification assessment requirements, according to Hernandez.

She added it is a priority of the Aquino administration to intensify the country’s tech-voc education and skills development training, so that we can respond to the manpower need of the leading industries in the country such as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and electronics/semi-conductor industries.

Hernandez was in the city to represent TESDA in first K to 12 pre-summit and conference at the Teachers Camp here.


Zonification for Dagupan plan up

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan— Mayor Benjamin S. Lim the city government would start a zonification program to protect lives, property and the environment from natural disasters.

“We are all guilty of not caring for our environment. Technically, even the government has been remiss for not being strict with zonification,” said Lim.

The mayor told local and regional officials at a meeting proper placing of structures and location of residents and business was the best way to prevent natural hazards.

City officials agreed but said prospective problems like rights of way would have to be addressed.--LBI


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