Noy to PMA graduates: Be neutral

>> Saturday, March 19, 2016

BAGUIO CITY- President Aquino yesterday warned new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to be neutral and refrain from taking part in adventurism, like what their predecessors did during the administration of his mother, former president Corazon Aquino, whose term was plagued with coup attempts in the early ’90s.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines commander-in-chief cautioned the new military officers after he was struck by the 2016 batch’s preferred name: “Gabay-Laya” that somehow connotes radicalism – that of guiding people to freedom.
“Bumalik naman po sa normal ang tingin ko nang makita ko iyung totoo at kumpletong ibig sabihin ng batch name ninyo: Gintong Anak ng Bayan Alay ay Buhay para sa Kalayaan. Doon po, medyo kumalma ang ating presyon (But my blood pressure returned to normal after seeing the full meaning of your batch name),” Aquino said in his speech at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.
He reminded the 63 PMA graduates about the constitutional precept of civilian supremacy over the military, whose mandate is to protect the state and its citizens.
The chief executive also reiterated that military forces should not be swayed into partisan politics like when the armed forces served only one family, apparently referring to the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He then highlighted the ill effects of military adventurism in the light of this year’s 30th anniversary of the bloodless people power revolt in February 1986, which toppled the dictatorship.
Aquino made a similar call to cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy, where he was also the guest of honor in graduation ceremonies in Cavite Thursday.
Meanwhile, Baguio City and nearby areas of Benguet province became a political battleground yesterday, just like in the 2013 polls.
The Liberal Party, represented by Aquino, and rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, gave food and campaigned in venues just a stone’s throw away from each other.
Showing calm and civility at the PMA graduation rites Sunday morning, Aquino and Binay exchanged pleasantries and an occasional whisper while seated beside each other.
After hosting a merienda cena with the graduating class, their families, top military and PMA officials, Aquino met with local LP members and community leaders at the President Fidel Valdez Ramos multi-purpose hall, where he introduced LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas and vice presidential bet Rep. Leni Robredo.
At the nearby Baguio Convention Center, Binay met with Gov. Nestor Fongwan, Mayor Mauricio Domogan and former congressman Bernardo Vergara.
Earlier yesterday morning, Roxas campaigned with his ticket at the Baguio City public market and in La Trinidad town, where Binay also went at about the same time.
The Cordillera region has about 900,000 voters.
– With Artemio Dumlao


Pasig solon adopted ‘son of Kalinga’

By Peter A. Balocnit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga --Rep. Roman Romulo of the Lone District of Pasig City is now an “adopted son of Kalinga.”
Resolution No. 2016-19 passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and approved by Governor Jocel Baac declared Romulo adopted son of Kalinga for his “invaluable support and contribution to the approval by Congress of  the law converting the Kalinga-Apayao State College into the Kalinga State University.”
Romulo was the Chairman of the Committee on Higher and Technical Education in the House of Representatives when Republic Act No. 10584 converting KASC to a state university was approved into law.
Romulo was guest speaker during the recent 21st founding anniversary of Kalinga. In his message, he cited the need for wider dissemination of educational programs that help students get higher education.

He cited RA No. 10684 or the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act of 2014” he authored which provides financial assistance to top 10 graduates of public high schools in the country. – Peter A. Balocnit


65 Ilocos Region towns affected by Avian Pest

Farmers hit gov’t for breakout 

VIGAN CITY -- Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation) said  the extent and massive death mostly of native chickens and turkey from the New Castle Disease Virus, locally known apangok was the result of the government’s lack of support for backyard raisers and farmers for veterinary supplies and technology.
The group said that backyard chicken raisers, mostly farmers themselves were the most affected by the pest.
 Reports said 65 municipalities across the four province of Ilocos were affected with the avian pest resulting to at least 109,255 deaths as of February 29. Fourteen municipalities were affected each in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, 17 in La Union and 20 in Pangasinan.
 About 11,700 fowls, mostly native chicken and game cocks are remains at risk said Dr. Annie Bares, head of the DA field operations division in the region. She also said that big industries were not affected by the outbreak because they have their own vaccines.
Data from the National Meat Inspection Service showed that poultry supply in Ilocos decreased by 71% in February.
 “The DA and the local government’s response is late and slow” said Zaldy Alfiler, the group’s Secretary General. He said that big industries were able to coped with the outbreak because the government is more inclined to provide assistance for big agribusinesses than small producers and backyard raisers.
 Alfiler cited the tax and non-tax incentives, including a six-year tax holiday awarded by the Aquino government to Thai-owned company Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippine Corp (CPF) in 2013. The move was protested by local broiler producers for boosting the “already huge capitalization and overwhelming competitive capacity” of CPF to the detriment and bankruptcy of local poultry raisers.
 “DA and local governments should focus their resources and provide incentives for backyard and small poultry growers to develop their capacity to adopt and prevent outbreak of disease,” added Alfiler.


76 fires engulf Mountain Prov forests, watersheds

By Andrew Doga-ong

BONTOC, Mountain Province – A total of 76 fire incidents mostly forest or grass fires damaged P7, 679,400 worth of flora and fauna including properties in the province recently.
Bureau of Fire officials reported this saying this capital town of Bontoc registered highest number of forest fires with 29 among 10 towns of the province.
Seven fire incidents were recorded from January to Feb. 25.
Local officials and concerned individuals have been calling for  protection and preservation of  foest covers from further denudation caused by forest fires.
They said the green sceneries and vegetative covers are some of the natural come-ons of the province aside from being one of the watershed cradles of Northern Luzon.
For this, BFP outfits in the province launched fire prevention and fire safety campaign activities in observance of the Fire Prevention Month this March.
Based on the program of activities, the observance will kick-off with a “Walk for a Fire-Free and a Fire-Safe Nation” was held March 1 here.
Provincial Fire Marshal Fire Chief Inspector Floyd Toyokan together with the municipal fire marshals led the participants to include firefighters, fire volunteers, public servants, non-governmental organizations, students and other interested individuals.
The walk started 5 a.m. at Sitio Kalonglong, Samoki and ended at Bilibid, Upper Calluttit.
On March 5, the Bontoc Fire Station will held fun run or “Takbo Laban sa Sunog 2016” at the BFP-Bontoc Station, sitio Loc-ong, Bontoc Poblacion.
Using the Bontoc – Mainit Provincial road as route, participants converges at Mount Chata, a mountain over-looking the four central barangays of Bontoc, to listen to lectures on fire prevention and fire safety tips.
In Monday’s flag raising ceremony, Provincial Administrator Johnny Lausan enjoined the support of the government employees to the fun run activity of the BFP.
For the whole month of March, firemen will also be guesting in radio programs to discuss the importance of fire safety and prevention.
There will also be fire prevention games and contest in selected schools to be simultaneously conducted by the municipal fire stations.

There is the need to continuously instill awareness of the community on the importance of fire safety and fire prevention to avoid the occurrence of destructive fires, said Fire Officer I Jenry Layagan of the BFP Provincial Office.


Baguio City council urged: Probe Panagbenga funds

BAGUIO CITY – Concerned residents and cause-oriented groups here questioned finances of the recently-held Panagbenga Festival saying the public was entitled to know how much was spent and how these were used considering private individuals were used for activities, including children for parades.
Over the radio, they said the city council should conduct an investigation on the matter considering millions of pesos were involved and the public doesn’t know how these were used.
They said public areas like roads were also used for money-making schemes since booths were made over these and rented out to entrepreneurs for as high as P27,000 for five days of operation.
A resident who identified himself as Tony Afalla, said organizers owe it to the public to bare finances of the event, saying these should be published in newspapers so the public would be able to scrutinize these.        
To these, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) officer Anthony de Leon and chief of staff Evangeline Payno, of the secretariat said they accepted feedback for improvements in future flower festival celebrations.  
De Leon added that taxes, at least P2.6 million were paid to the city government and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), from the Session road in Bloom and Baguio Blooms events.
All documents including the audited report will be submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Securities and Exchange Commission within August this year, de Leon said.
On other matters, De Leon said the festival is a continuous work in progress, thus suggestions for a longer parade route, and more landscapes at the Botanical garden and Bayan Park, Aurora Hill will be studied.
“Miracle gardens” are planned with a tripartite body; the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI), Dept. of Tourism and local government of Baguio.
Trainings for cultural dancers and landscapers have been done, de Leon said, with training for float makers and musicians on the planning board.
A Baguio Chamber of Music is envisioned, he added.
A collaborative effort for neighboring municipalities’ festivals is growing, with La Union and La Trinidad festival events done close to Panagbenga.
A bigger budget for drum and lyre competition is also seen, with more invited groups from other places, for “cultural variety.” 
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he envisions a more improved Melvin Jones and Athletic Bowl, both at Burnham Park for the next festival season, fenced-in additional seats for spectators, substantial renovation and matured grass within the running oval.
A thorough evaluation however is needed before the improvements are done, he said.   
 The all-morning local television coverage for the Panagbenga 2017 streetdancing parade shall be worked out, he said.
Home-bound spectators would once more witness said event, the mayor added.    
DOT Regional Director Venus Tan, during media forum , said the all-year round blooming and regreening project would go on.
This is supposed to start along Central Business District’s building facades, in support of Panagbenga 2017.
Domogan, said that all participants, volunteers, supporters including the Baguio City Police Office personnel and other assigned personnel made Panagbenga a “resounding success. Having a festival of this magnitude is not possible without them.”
Philippine Information Agency Regional Director Helen Tibaldo said Panagbenga 2016 is a “community pride,” where parochial interests are set aside.
The Baguio Flower Festival’s accreditation with the International Festival and Events Association (IFEA) was also delved into.
A subsidy, promotions abroad, trainings with scholarship, and nominations for the outstanding communication sector, participant and volunteer may be forwarded to IFEA, it was known.      

If the streak goes on, Panagbenga would live up to its name of being the “trailblazer” and “benchmark” festival, as earlier mentioned by Tan who said she was pleased with Panagbenga 2016’s success. --  With a report from Julie G. Fianza


Abra peace program launched to stop slays, political violence

By Maria Teresa B. Benas

BANGUED, Abra – A peace program to stop violence like political killings in the province is now set for implementation. 
This, after Abra’s framework for peace program, was launched and adapted during Abra Week for Peace commemoration.
Called “Pagta ti Kappia” (pact for peace), this embodies strategies and mechanisms to address issues of peace in different angles. 
The Abra Week for Peace was launched in 2007 right after Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin assumed office to address bad peace and order situation in the province as indicated by high criminality rate aggravated by political killings. 
For years, the AWP was celebrated but it had not spelled out concrete program to attain peace and order in Abra.
AWP 2014 was a breakthrough in the peace efforts and initiatives in the province. The AWP technical working group broke into groups to study  issues and find to address the issues of peace in different angles. 
One big issue was, “Are we Abrenians one in terms of our concepts/perceptions of peace as well as in terms of our strategies and mechanisms of addressing the issues of peace in Abra?”
 A TWG team was tasked to do a survey to generate the Abrenians’ concept of peace.
The research was carried out following a technical methodology of employing key informants from all sectors of society with consideration of an acceptable margin of error. 
The research result was presented during the AWP 2014 celebrations.
Other members of the AWP-TWG picked up from the result of that survey and came up with their own strategies of addressing the issues assigned to them.  Hence, various offshoot programs and projects on peace-building emerged.
These offshoot programs and projects such as the Lifeline Counseling Center, the Lesson Exemplar, the Pagta ti Kappia, among others were all taken into account and the TWG worked seriously on these as work-in-progress with the most possible participation of all peoples from all walks of life to ensure complete representation of the Abrenians.

This peace effort is made possible with the initiatives of the Abra Peace Conveners’ Group led by Carmelita Bersalona and the tribal elders led by Francis Cayasen and Victor Valera for facilitating the series of conference-workshops. 


Cement short; delays government projects

By Eva Visperas

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The province is experiencing a shortage of cement, an official said Wednesday.
Contractors have complained of the delay in the completion of government projects since January due to the shortage, said district engineer Rodolfo Dion.
Dion said some contractors who ordered 200 bags only got 30 bags.
He cited the construction of a two-story school building in San Jacinto town and the Padilla Bridge in Lingayen, which were affected by the cement shortage.
Dion said the Department of Public Works and Highways is giving consideration to contractors who may not be able to meet their deadline because of the shortage.
“The delay is not their fault,” he said.

Dion said the price of cement in Pangasinan has increased from P235 to P252 per bag. He said the problem is expected to continue until May.      


Sale of PNR property set; occupants checked

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The disposition of the Philippine National Railway properties in three barangays in the city has started.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan and city council lands committee chair Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr. last week sent requests to PNR general manager Joseph Allan Dilay to facilitate the plan particularly in the PNR properties at Marcoville and San Roque barangays.
The two officials wrote Dilay last Feb. 3 for consent to conduct an actual subdivision survey and structural survey of lots and structures within the PNR property at Marcoville barangay.
The surveys will serve to identify the actual area occupied by the members of the United Marcoville Barangays Residents Association who, according to the city officials, have signified willingness to procure the lots.
The members have been occupying the lots located within the 4,770 square meter coverage of Special Patent No. 3544 for almost five decades now.
The sale of the lots will be in accordance with the provisions of Executive Order No. 48 which declared PNR’s non-core properties as socialized housing sites.
  For the San Roque property, Domogan and Yangot sought the exclusion of the lot allocated to one Elenel Paez Jr. from the survey plan of the property sold to the San Roque Homeowners Association just to facilitate the processing and approval by the Land Registration Administration.
The said lot is a subject of a court case and has been the cause of delay in the completion of the sale of the lots to the qualified beneficiaries.
“The members of the (association) have nothing to do with the case of (Paez).  It is not fair to them if their subdivision plan will not be processed because of the case of the said person,” the officials told Dilay.
A lot of the members have paid the agreed selling price but they cannot get their titles because of the case.

Intervention will also be made for the San Luis homeowners, most of whom the mayor said have also paid in full the agreed consideration but were still not issued titles due to lack of requirements on the part of PNR.


Dengue cases reach 10,718 with 13 deaths in Cordillera

4 o’clock habit urged vs zika, dengue viruses 

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera reported the “highest number of dengue cases in a year” with a total of 10,718 dengue cases with 13 deaths last year  Fifty one percent of the patients were children.
Cordillera Dept. of Health director IV Lakshmi Legaspi Legaspi bared this saying dengue was pervasive last year in many regions including Cordillera.
The increase in the cases was attributed to “high population of the aedes mosquitoes and the abundance of mosquito breeding sites” exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon.
“This year, another mosquito-borne disease called zika is now spreading in many countries.  This emerging disease is also transmitted by the same aedes mosquitoes that transmit the dengue and chikungunya,” Legaspi said.
The symptoms of zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya.  The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headache. 
Pregnant women were advised to consult with the doctor if they develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within two weeks after traveling to a place where zika is prevalent.
In Baaguio Health officials urged residents to observe the “4 O’clock Habit” to reduce mosquitos on a daily basis and keep dengue and zika viruses at bay.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan directed city health officer Dr. Rowena Galpo to head a weekly campaign to search and destroy mosquito breeding sites in the community in keeping with the campaign of the DOH.
Legaspi in a letter to the mayor last Feb. 5 said the most effective way of preventing the mosquito-borne diseases remains to be the elimination of all breeding sites in the homes, workplaces, schools and public places.
“We enjoin everyone to be vigilant. Evvery household should practice the 4 O’clock Habit of mosquito source reduction everyday,” Legaspi said.
Residents were encouraged to embark on a clean-up routine every 4 p.m. by removing all discarded tires, plastic containers, tin cans, bottles and other containers that can accumulate water.  
All useful containers such as drums, pails and water tanks should be tightly covered to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs, Legaspi added.


Cordi bags 6 awards in nat’l Bangon Kabuhayan Awards

Bontoc cited for livelihood project 

By Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva

The Cordillera Administrative Region recently bagged six awards during the Bangon Kabuhayan awarding ceremony held in Ramada Binondo Central, Binondo, Manila. 
This project conceptualized by the local government unit of the capital town to address its waste management problem,  was awarded Most Environmentally Friendly Project besting 13 other projects from other regions in the country.
The LGU is implementing Oplan Pera sa Basura wherein all elementary and high school students in the municipality collect recyclable wastes to ensure enough raw materials for the endeavor.
Said project which was given P1 million seed capital   to buy equipment such as plastic shredders and metal forms, also garnered the Best Livelihood Project for Special Sector.
Provincial jail inmates serve as the project’s labor force in the production of eco-bricks and eco-blocks through memorandum of agreement between the Senior Citizens Federation of Bontoc and Provincial Jail.
Originally aimed to help address waste management issues, the project  developed into an income generating activity for the senior citizens and the inmates.
Thus the award for Best Regional Microenterprise Project.
For this project,  LGU-Bontoc  was  also named  People’s Choice Award for Microenterprise Development Track and Best Regional Partner.
Sustainable Livelihood Program(SLP) Project Development Officer Chalikis Alawas was also  recognized as the Best Project Development Officer.
“We are greatly honored and delighted with the recognitions that our region has received through our partnership with the people of Bontoc. The recognitions prove that development need not to have negative effects with our environment and that problems will be easier to solve if we come together and converge our efforts. We hope that more partnerships will prosper for us to further facilitate improvement in the lives of the Cordillera people,” Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera  Regional Director Janet P. Armas said.
Organized by the SLP- National Program Management Office of the DSWD, the Bangon Kabuhayan Awards aim to feature outstanding enterprise and employment initiatives supported by the SLP and its partners.
It provides opportunity for the program implementers to share good practices in program implementation. It is also a venue to recognize key stakeholders that provide support to the program.
“We are grateful to the DSWD for recognizing our community in its efforts for solid waste management and livelihood. Our  senior citizens have indeed put to heart our community’s battle cry, “Let us all be part of the solution”. We hope other LGUs will also see the value of partnering with various sectors as well as with NGAs in uplifting the life of the people,” said Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey shared. 



 PAGCOR gives P11M school building to Guinzadan
BAUKO, Mountain Province -- The Guinzadan National High School, this year, was blessed with a two-storey, six-classroom school building worth 11,090,829.90 funded under Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s "Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan" project.
The school building program is being carried out by PAGCOR in partnership with Departments of Education and Public Works and Highways including the Office of Rep. Maximo B. Dalog, whose role in requesting and urging the PAGCOR made the funding possible.
With the project, the problem of classroom shortage here was addressed. To date, the state-owned gaming firm has already earmarked P12 billion for its school building program which aims to build thousands of classrooms in public schools nationwide.
Of this amount, P2 billion is being utilized solely for building classrooms in state-subsidized schools that were damaged by typhoon Yolanda. As of December 2015, PAGCOR and its partners completed 2,060 classrooms in 419 sites nationwide, benefitting over half a million students. 
During the Feb. 26 groundbreaking ceremony, Schools Division Superintendent Gloria B. Buya-ao and Dalog expressed thanks to the Aquino administration and PAGCOR for looking more kindly on the needs of students. Both also commended PAGCOR for contribution to public education and to nation building.
The groundbreaking was attended and witnessed by Bauko Mayor Abraham Akilit, Engineer Artemio Guisala of DPWH, barangay officials, teachers, students, alumni and the community of Guinzadan. The event was done simultaneous with the 49th foundation anniversary of GNHS.
More PAGCOR-funded Silid Aralan projects await Mountain Province like that of the Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School (20 classrooms), Sadsadan Trail Elementary School (6 classrooms) and Palitod National High School (8 classrooms).
Dalog, in his letter to PAGCOR Chairman Cristino L. Naguiat, thanked  the agency’s kindness in providing funds for construction of said school buildings.
The lawmaker also sent his invitation to Naguiat to witness the ground breaking ceremonies of these schools, particularly the MPGCHS. -- Erlindo Agwilang Jr. 

Ombudsman cites La Union city for ease of doing business
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The Office of the Ombudsman has recognized this city for implementing measures that ease the registration of new businesses and renewal of business permits.   
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, through deputy ombudsman Gerard Mosquera awarded the Blue Certification Level 1 to the city government on Feb. 16.
“The Ombudsman was elated that we have opened our transactions and record for them because they say that most local government units are afraid to open their books for them to verify,” San Fernando City Mayor Pablo Ortega said.
The awarding ceremony was held at the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon in Diliman, Quezon City.
The ombudsman said the certification would expire on Feb. 15, 2019. – Jun Elias

Heritage site owners to get tax incentives
ANGELES CITY – The city government has approved an ordinance granting tax incentives to owners of historical and cultural edifices here.
The ordinance aims to promote, preserve and protect the historical heritage and culture of the city and encourage owners of edifices, houses and structures to declare, register and preserve their property.
Councilor Jericho Aguas, author of the resolution, said the ordinance would raise awareness and appreciation of individuals who have contributed to the preservation of the local culture and history.
“This will develop tourism, enhance business opportunities and sustain development that will improve the quality of life of all Angeleños,” Aguas said. – Ric Sapnu

SAF heroes inspire artist in Panagbenga painting
BAGUIO CITY -- A local artist drew inspiration from the Special Action Force heroes in his painting during “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom” event of the 21st edition of the Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival.
Johji Yokota, a third year Mass Communication student of Saint Louis University, painted a SAF trooper saluting and filled the canvass with floral design.
Yokota said that he was inspired by the heroism of the SAF commandos who sacrificed their lives in the Mamasapano encounter in Maguindanao last year.
He said he wanted people to remember the sacrifices and the bravery of these 44 policemen who were killed during the Mamasapano clash. The painting is also a way of calling for justice for the fallen SAF troopers.
“To commemorate the lives that were lost because of terrorism and war, I hope that the SAF 44 will meet justice soon,” said Yokota.
At least 44 elite police officers, 14 of them Cordillerans , died while on a mission to capture international terrorist Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir also known as Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman on January 25 last year.
With the theme “Bless the Children with Flowers,” hundreds of children and adults including local artists from all over the city and nearby provinces participated  in the ’Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom’ , Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio which is one of the major activities of Panagbenga.
The SAF inspired painting will be paraded during the Panagbenga Grand Street Parade on February 27 together with the hundreds of paintings by local artists including children.  -- Rhona Hadap

City worker cited for making restroom ‘mini museum’
BAGUIO CITY -- Officials and employees of the city government as well as visitors at City Hall here are now delighted to use a cozy and relaxing restroom near the Office of the City Mayor.
Danilo Dizon, one of the utility workers of the General Services Office is responsible with the advancement of the now popular and well-liked restroom.
“Kuya Danny”, as he is fondly called by his officemates, colleagues and friends was appointed by Mayor Mauricio Domogan last April 2014.
He performs various tasks related to cleanliness and upkeep of his assigned area.
With his own initiative and resourcefulness, he was able to create a very inviting and homely restroom.
Many employees compared the popular restroom as mini-museum where you can see pictures of famous tourist spots and various plants surrounding the said room.
According to the patrons of the said restroom, the area is very relaxing and at the same time eliminating stress.
This is Kuya Danny’s simple way of his dedicated service by giving satisfaction to the officials, employees and public and at the same time promoting the city of Baguio’s tourist industry  as well as care for environment.
His great concern for his clients and environment manifested through his initiative, creativeness and splendid skills and talent.
It is his driving force that made Kuya Danny admired and appreciated by city officials, officemates and colleagues.  -- Jho Arranz

No to privatization of public hospitals: Hontiveros
BAGUIO CITY -- Senatorial bet Risa Hontiveros urged the non-privatization of government hospitals saying Cordillerans should support the Reproductive Health Law even if the P1 billion cut on its 2016 implementation was approved. This is aligned with her advocacies on No Balance Billing Policy especially to pregnant women and hospitals refusing indigent patients, she said.
The former Akbayan representative said the budget cut may affect procurement of family planning commodities, less universal health care and less benefits that come with the implementation of the law. Hontiveros also said privatization of public hospitals affects the number of patients since hospitalization will be a lot higher.
῎Health is a social service to the public, not a luxury that few people only can avail῎ said PhilHealth director Hontiveros.
As to her stand in facing the fast-approaching Zika virus, ῎there should be satellite clinics with vaccines overseas for OFW so that virus will be stopped before workers enter the country.῎
Hontiveros is one of the primary authors and a strong advocate of the RH Law. -- Ian Pajarillaga

La Trinidad garbage collection drops
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Garbage collection of this town decreased according to Arthur Pedro, municipal environment officer.
The town is currently collecting 45 tons daily compared to previous 72 tons based on waste analysis and characterization survey of 2013. Most residuals come from residences while most biodegradable wastes accumulated at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post.
According to Pedro, the huge decrease of the waste being collected began when Mayor Edna Tabanda implemented Executive Order No. 9 since 2014 that mandated strict segregation of garbage from source. Also it was because of the massive information and education being conducted by the La Trinidad environment office.
La Trinidad has seven dump trucks collecting waste along the highways and additional mini trucks owned by a particular barangays such as Barangay’s Poblacion, Tawang, Alno, Ambiong, Puguis, Bineng, Pico and Shilan. All of the collected waste is taken to staging area at Lamtang, Puguis before hauled Caps Tarlac by a private hauler contracted by the municipality.
The municipality appropriated budgets amounting to P6.2 million for  waste disposition first quarter of the year but expected to spend at least P25-30 million for the whole year. – Jorton B. Campana

DPWH–Ilocos gears up for Holy Week ‘Lakbay-Alalay
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-RO1) has started implementing the “Lakbay-Alalay” program for the Holy Week in the four provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
Director Melanio Briosos, directed all the ten District Engineers to organize their teams to ensure the smooth travel and provide reliable assistance to motorists from March 21 to March 28, according to the memorandum order of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.
Included in the measures are the installation of proper traffic signage and warning signs with clear and sight distance of all on-going construction projects.
Legible informational and directional signs are also being installed on key locations along national roads.
Pavement markings were also provided with reflectors to guide motorists at night.
Briosos said that all road sections must be well maintained and free of potholes.
“Field personnel wearing prescribed DPWH uniform or DPWH orange T-shirts will be assigned on a round-the-clock shift to provide personal and prompt assistance on normal and emergency situations, ”Briosos said.
Briosos said that the stations of the “Lakbay-Alalay” team of DPWH Ilocos Norte 1st and 2nd District Engineering Offices will be located at the National Highway in the towns of Bacarra, Burgos, Pagudpud, Badoc, Currimao, San Nicolas and Batac City.
Ilocos Sur 1st District Engineering team will be at the highway in Bantay and Magsingal towns while 2nd District Engineering will be positioned along the National Highway of Narvacan, and Candon City proper.
DPWH La Union 1st Engineering District will be stationed at the San Fernando-Bacnotan and Bacnotan-Sudipen area; the DPWH 2nd team along the Agoo, Caba, and the roads along Agoo-Baguio City, Caba-Bauang, Rosario-Pugo and Bauang-Baguio City Roads.
DPWH Pangasinan “Lakbay-Alalay” teams will be at the Pangasinan-Zambales Road and Alaminos City proper; San Jacinto Section along Mangaldan-Manaoag-Binalonan Road, Pangasinan-Tarlac Road, Pangasinan-La Union Road and Dagupan City National Roads, Carmen-Rosales, Binalonan and Pangasinan-Nueva-Viscaya Road; Urdaneta Junction-Dagupan Road,Villasis-Malasiqui-San Carlos Road,Camiling-Wawa-Bayambang-Malasiqui-Sta Barbara Road; and Carmen Junction-Bayambang-San Carlos –Manat Road. – Erwin Beleo

Computer shop owners told: No minors during class hours
BAGUIO CITY -- Owners and operators of computer shops cannot allow minors anymore to enter their establishments during class hours.
“The city government here is firm in the implementation of the provisions of Ordinance No. 015 Despite the existence of the said ordinance and resolution, reports have reached the office of Mayor Mauricio Domogan that there are still willful computer shop owners who allow minors to play inside their computer shops mostly at the central business district,” said a report from the city information office.
Alarmed with the report, Domogan directed assistant city treasurer and in-charge of office Alex Cabarrubias, licensing officer Braille Reyes and Peace Order Safety Division (POSD) chief Policarpio Cambod to investigate and to impose penalties to erring owners computer shops.
Violators of the said regulation will be penalized with a fine of P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 and revocation for the third and succeeding offenses upon the discretion of the court.
“I know that computer shop owners want to gain profit, however, it is very important to let them realize that they (computer shop owners) should also first think of the welfare of the children by encouraging them to go to school rather than wasting their time playing inside a computer shop,” said Domogan.  -- Jho Arranz

Cadets briefed on Bangsamoro Basic Law
BAGUIO CITY -- Cadets of the Philippine Military Academy participated in dialogue on the Bangsamoro peace process and Cordillera autonomy at Lopez Hall of Fort Del Pilar here Wednesday.
The guests of honor were peace panel members Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Chair of the government peace panel, and Mohagher Iqbal, Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Transition Committee. Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan was also among the guests.
The event briefed the cadets along with the PMA officials about the status of the ongoing peace process by the Bangsamoro and the effects of it once the Law is approved.
Later on the cadets were urged to take part in open forum where a few of the cadets stated their reactions concerning peace process. – Kim Bautista

NTA provides mini dams to Abrenian tobacco farmers
BANGUED, Abra -- The National Tobacco Administration (NTA) recently allotted funds for construction of small water impounding or mini dam to three tobacco producing municipalities here.
NTA provincial manager Esmeralda Valera said they turned over the funds to local government units of Dolores, Villaviciosa and Pilar towns, who will implement said projects for various tobacco farmers’ groups.
Valera said the second batch of irrigators and tobacco farmers groups who will receive funding for the construction of their mini dam are from Peñarrubia, Pidigan, Sa Quintin, Luba and Tayum.
She urged these municipalities to continue quality tobacco production since their market is growing in Ilocos Sur and La Union. Moreover, Philip Morris and Universal Leaf Philippines Inc. will be exporting tobacco from Abra starting this first week of March.
Meanwhile,  NTA Administrator Edgardo Zaragoza and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala  entertained  issues of tobacco farmers like irrigation,  barn and the like  during their visit  to the province last February 22  for the Abra Farmers and Agricultural Extension Workers Congress. -- Ginalyn B. Brioso

Bangued’s   Dapil Festival held
BANGUED, Abra- The Bangued Dapil Festival was recently held with thrilling activities like parade of colors, inauguration of the town plaza, trade fair and food bazaar and variety show.
‘Dapil’ as the official festival of this town is coined from the word ‘panagdapil’ which is an indigenous method of extracting sugar cane juice  using carabao to produce vinegar, wine, molasses, muscovado and a lot more.  
The most-awaited spectacle was the annual trade fair and food bazaar. Displayed were products of Bangued and Abra, mostly made of indigenous materials. Local exhibitors displayed impressive products made from cornhusk and coconut husk fiber like flowers, flower vases, bags, coin purse, and other body accoutrements. Different bamboo species like “rono”, “poser” and “bayog” were made into fine food trays, wine racks, tables, chairs, bar counter and other furniture. 
Bangued famous local dishes and sweet concoctions particularly pinakbet, empanada, chicacorn, miki, tablea and inladit crackers delighted visiting gourmands from other towns and provinces.
Meanwhile, Bangued Mayor Dominic Valera said  he wanted to bring one-stop-shop centers in the area so locals will no longer travel hours to get to other places to experience retreats, food tripping and recreations.
In time for Dapil festival, McDonalds opened an outlet joining the growing number of    food outlets like Jollibee, Mang Inasal, Mister Donut, and Chowking, among others.
With all the amenities and other natural attractions like the Calaba River and Casamata Hill, he said Bangued was one promising top tourist destination in the near future.
The newly opened Dancing Fountain was also one of the crowd attractions in town.--  Ginalyn B. Brioso

Free dental services held in Ifugao towns
IFUGAO, Ifugao - - The provincial government  conducted free dental services here Feb. 15 – 19 dubbed “Handog Kalusugan” and “Maphod an Imi” (good smile) in partnership with Dr. Bill Mays and Medical Relief International and Ifugao – Nueva Vizcaya dental association.
The activity was held here at municipal gymnasium for folks of Kiangan, Asipulo and Tinoc towns. The same activity was held at Lagawe Central School Feb. 16 for Hingyon and Lamut towns.
The group also held free dental clinic Feb. 17 at the Hungduan municipal gymnasium for Banaue, Hungduan and Tinoc townfolks and at the Mayoyao municipal gym on Feb. 18 for Aguinaldo and Banaue.
It culminated Feb. 19 at  Sta. Maria amphitheatre in Alfonso Lista town. -- Marcelo B. Lihgawon

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

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

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

DA allots P630M for Kalinga
TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Kalinga was allotted P630 million for various agricultural projects.
Director Lorenzo Caranguian of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit, Cordillera Administrative Region (DARFU-CAR) announced this during Farmers’ Day and Cooperatives Day on Feb. 15 in celebration of the 21st founding anniversary of Kalinga and Ullalim festival, where he was the guest speaker.
Caranguian told the audience the province deserves the big support to boost its rice, corn, and coffee production industries.
He said bulk of the appropriations will go to the concreting of three farm-to-market roads (FMR) under the Philippine Rural Development Program in the amount of P501 million.
“P118M will go to the concreting of the Banneng-Gumbowoy FMR in Tanudan, P180M to the Bulanao-Amlao FMR, and P203M to Catabbogan-Wagod FMR in Pinukpuk,” Caranguian said.
The director also announced that P32M is appropriated for the Kalinga Integrated Coffee Processing Center, P8M total worth of livelihood projects to associations,  P35M to increase rice production, P20M for corn production, P12M for high value commercial crops, P3.5M for livestock, P9.2M for Pamana projects, P3.1M for bottom-up-budgeting, and other small projects.  -- Peter A. Balocnit

2,317 Abra folks employed  under DOLE program
BANGUED, Abra -- The Emergency Employment Program (EEP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Abra benefited a total of 2,317 displaced workers, underemployed and unemployed local folks in the municipalities of San Juan and Dolores  last month.
George G. Lubin, Jr., DTI provincial head, said the EEP projects in the municipalities of San Juan and Dolores were funded by Party Lists in the House of Representatives worth P22.3 million.
The EEP is a special employment generation program of the DOLE dubbed as the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).
Funds for the special employment program were given particularly as a support to the victims of Typhoon Ineng that hit the province last August 2015 especially the farmers whose crops were damaged during the typhoon. 
For the municipality of San Juan, Mayor Marco M. Bautista reported that the P20M EEP fund was given by the Coop Natco Party List for the rehabilitation, improvement and de-siltation of the communal irrigation canals and clearing of barangay roads.
On the other hand, P2.3M funds for the municipality of Dolores from the Buhay Party List was used for the rehabilitation of irrigation canals and barangay roads damaged by typhoon Ineng, Mayor Robert Victor G. Seares, Jr. reported.
Aside from typhoon-affected farmers, other beneficiaries include those that are willing to help in the needed work in the fields. -- Maria Teresa B. Benas
Mt. Province  LGUs, school to employ 1,015 studes this summer
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- About 1,015 students are expected to work this summer vacation under the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) under the auspices of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The Provincial Governor’s Office, Office of the Vice Governor, nine local government units in the province and the Xijen College of Mountain Province pledged a total amount of P6, 352,390.00 for the employment of these students.
Based on the data provided by DOLE Provincial field Office Chief Samuel T. Lasdacan, Natonin LGU pledged the highest amount of P2, 493,750.00 for the employment of some 285 students for 25 days.
The Governor’s Office committed P1 million to hire 200 students for 20 days while the Xijen College pledged P600, 000.00 for the employment of 50 students for 40 days.
The Office of the Vice Governor committed P170, 200 for 37 students for 20 days.
The other LGUs  that will  participate in the SPES include  Barlig which pledged P420,000 for 70 students; Bauko – P414,400 for 112 students; Tadian – P400,000 for 80 students; Sabangan – PP248,400 for 54 students; Bontoc – P168,000 for 30 students; Besao – P80,640 for 24 students, Sagada – P32,000 for 8 students. These seven LGUs will employ the students for 20 days.
Paracelis LGU which pledged the amount of P325, 000 shall employ 65 students for 25 days.
Lasdacan said the daily wage of students who will be hired under the SPES varies depending on the daily wage provided by each LGU. Sixty percent (60%) of the students’ salary shall be paid by the employers in cash while the remaining 40% shall be paid by DOLE in the form of education voucher.
Interested students and out-of-school youth who intend to continue their studies are advised to start completing the required documents ready for submission during application period scheduled by the employers. They may visit the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in the different municipalities in the province and the Provincial DOLE Office to get the required documents to be accomplished.
The SPES is a regular annual job creation program of the national government intended for the poor but deserving students to augment their school fees by providing them work during summer vacation. -- Juliet B. Saley

Medical mission serves Abrenios
BANGUED, Abra -- The provincial government in partnership with Far Eastern University Medical Alumni Association of Northern Illinois, USA carried out a three-day medical mission at the Abra Provincial Hospital  here recently.
Cataract, hernia, cholecystectomy, thyrodectomy, parotidectomy, and excision of mass were some of the different ailments and disorders treated.
They also gave free eyeglasses to senior citizens and others who were examined with visual impairment. Dental extraction and treatment served children and adults with tooth decays and enamel defects.
To accommodate and make sure that all patients were attended, Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin’s wife Ruby who planned and organized the medical mission, invited 23 specialists from different fields of medicine from the US to be part of the medical mission.
Bersamin said all patients who undertook major and minor operations were advised to visit the hospital for follow-up check-up. -- Ginalyn B. Brioso

Baguio contractuals to enjoy SSS benefits
BAGUIO CITY  -- Some 83 police auxiliary workers and job order contractuals of the city government here will soon avail of benefits given by the Social Security system (SSS).
Said informal workers of the city government registered to be members of the AlkanSSSya program of the SSS.
The SSS headed by Baguio manager Nancy Umoso, the city government of Baguio headed by mayor Mauricio Domogan and the informal workers of the city represented by Julie Laureta recently signed the MOA at the Baguio City multi-purpose hall.
The MOA covers the mechanics for the implementation of the program which is aimed at facilitating an easy and more convenient remittance of the SS monthly contribution payments of the job orders.
In the MOA, the city government, through its duly authorized and bonded representative will deduct the monthly contribution of the informal workers and remit the monthly contributions together with its monthly collection report.
On the other hand, the SSS will provide information updates and other relevant literature to enhance the informal worker’s knowledge on the SSS and the e-AlkanSSSya implementation such as but not limited to collection, posting reports, periodic issuance of flyers among others.
The city council passed resolution numbered 277, series of 2015 authorizing mayor Domogan to enter into a MOA with the SSS for the implementation of the e-AlkanSSSya program which is beneficial to job orders and police auxiliary workers of the city who are not covered by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and with no SSS registered employers.        
Based from the MOA, SSS reserves the right to modify and/or enhance the program, provided that in case the SSS consider that the changes in the program will significantly alter the services offered under the same, the SSS shall advise the city government and informal workers of the changes at least 30 days prior to the date of its implementation.
The MOA may be terminated by the SSS in case of violation o the terms and conditions in the agreement by the informal workers and/or the city government.
The AlkanSSSya program is a micro savings program that aims to attract informal sector workers seeking access to social protection.   -- Jho Arranz

Poverty alleviation programs highlight Apayao anniversary
LUNA, Apayao -- The province of Apayao refrained from traditional festivities in celebrating its founding anniversary this year  in  respect to the loss of the founder of the province.
Gov.  Elias Bulut Jr. said the celebration focused on programs on poverty alleviation instead of traditional festive mood since the province is still mourning  the death of Apayao patriarch, Calanasan Mayor Elias Bulut Sr. who passed away  Dec. 5 last year.
Bulut Sr. authored Republic Act 7878 which separated the province of Apayao from the old Kalinga-Apayao province in February  1995.
He was responsible in shaping the future of Apayao and into what is it today through his long years as the province’s kingpin.
“The celebration for this year’s founding anniversary will be different from the traditional one. Instead of simply celebrating, we will utilize the special programs of the Provincial Government to focus on the alleviation of poverty in the province”, Bulut said in an interview.
The seven municipalities celebrate separately the province’s 21st Founding Anniversary which started on Feb.  9 until the end of the month.
The governor said activities include the launching of the province-wide anti-drug campaign, livelihood projects and the “Pabahay” program.
The “Pabahay” program is the main focus of the province’s anti-poverty campaign, and the provincial government has identified the poorest barangays in each municipality as intended beneficiaries.
The provincial government allocated P8 million for the “pabahay” program with counterpart from each municipality.
The Governor explained that lack of shelter is number one in the poverty indicator of the province as of 2015, followed by income or livelihood then lack of sanitary toilets.
The number of houses to be built will depend on the community-based monitoring system of each barangay.
The goal for livelihood is to strengthen the coffee production in the municipalities of Kabugao, Calanasan and Conner. Other livelihood programs will be based on the design to be created by each municipality.
“These programs are to address the poorest of the poorest”, said the Governor. Apayao is the second poorest province in the Philippines in 2011, and the 4th on the list in 2015.
He informed that the seven municipalities will also have additional activities on their own such as gallery-viewing as a tribute to the Father of Apayao, inter-barangay sports tournaments, street dancing competitions and variety shows but toned down.
Bulut Sr. served as Representative of the old Kalinga-Apayao and then the first congressman of the province of Apayao. He served as provincial governor from 2001 until 2010, and mayor of Calanasan since 2010 until he succumbed to a lingering illness at the age of 76.
 His mission for Apayao was to widen the opportunities of Apayao citizens and indigenous cultural communities in the areas of technology acquisition, intensified agri-industrial production, grains pooling, livelihood creation, and infrastructure building. -- Jillie Ominga

Panagbenga showcases live plants, flowers
BAGUIO CITY – This year’s Panagbenga Festival, which culminated last wseek, required participants to use potted or live flowers rather than cut ones to decorate their floats.
During its launch in November last year, the 2016 Baguio Flower Festival was geared toward using more live flowers for the float parade.
The potted plants and flowers that bedecked the 25 flower floats yesterday could be donated to schools so children can appreciate life and nurture it, city tourism director Venus Tan said.
Organizers admitted that in the past, cut flowers used in the floats, usually amounting to at least P250,000, only go to waste a day or two after the celebration.
“We have been looking for a 50/50 combination, but finally we settled on 25 percent potted plants and flowers and 75 percent cut flowers,” Tan said.
She said next year they may require participants to use only live plants and flowers for the floats.


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