Making roads safe

>> Friday, January 24, 2020


The Bontoc-Ifugao Road has claimed another death last week with several wounded when an ambulance fell down a ravine. To date, police are still investigating the crash. (See banner story in page 1 for more details.)  
The crash is just one among the many happening on a daily basis in the country. Following spate of road crashes, Senate panels are pushing for creation of a transportation safety board.
If created by law, the proposed National Transportation Safety Board would be the primary agency focusing on transport-related investigations.
The Senate committees on public services, civil service and government reorganization, and finance are pushing for a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate crash incidents and compliance with safety standards.
The Senate panels filed recently committee report no. 8 with Senate bill no. 1077, recommending the creation of the NTSB and prescribing its powers and functions.
SB No. 1077 consolidated Senator Grace Poe's SB No. 125 and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr's SB No. 651. The substitute bill was co-authored by Poe, Revilla, and Senator Juan Edgardo Angara.
This, considering road crashes need to be thoroughly investigated to give justice to victims or make recommendations to lessen incidents. 


Two ‘drug dealers’ slain in shootouts 20 nabbed

Freddie Velez

CAMP GENERAL ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan – Two alleged drug peddlers were killed, while 20 other suspects were arrested, in relentless police operations conducted by the Philippine National Police in Bulacan since Jan. 9.
Based on the report submitted to Col. Emma M Libunao, acting Bulacan police director, the slain drug suspects were identified as Ace Monteno Gonzales, a resident of NHV, Barangay Bitungol, Norzagaray, Bulacan; and Richard Delara, alias “Tuklaw.”
Investigation disclosed that operatives of Norzagaray MPS conducted a buy-bust operation against Gonzales in Barangay Bitungol, Norzagaray Bulacan at about 11:30 p.m. last Jan. 8.
In the middle of the transaction, the suspect reportedly became suspicious that he was transacting with police officers so he drew his .38 caliber revolver and fired several shots at the operatives. This forced the lawmen to retaliate, causing the suspect’s death.
Recovered from the crime scene were five plastic sachets containing shabu, a caliber-.38 revolver the P500-buy-bust money, among others.
Meanwhile, a buy-bust operation targeting Delara was staged in Barangay Pandayan, Meycauayan City, Bulacan at about 1:50 a.m. on Jan 10.
According to the police, like Gonzales, Delara sensed that he was dealing with police operatives, prompting him to draw his revolver and fire at one of the undercover policemen.
The policeman was able to dodge the shots and, together with a back-up operative, fire back at the suspect, who was no match for the lawmen’s firepower.
Recovered from the crime scene were the suspect’s gun, some live and spent bullets, and four heat-sealed plastic sachets containing shabu.
Different anti-illegal drug operations were conducted by the operatives of Municipal/City Police Stations of Obando, Meycauayan, Angat, Santa Maria, San Jose Del Monte, Malolos and Meycauayan that resulted in the arrest of 16 drug suspects.
A total of 63 plastic sachets of shabu and buy-bust money were confiscated from the suspects during the operations.
Marilao, Malolos and Bocaue Police responded in different crime incidents that resulted in the arrest of four suspects identified as Kyle Emanuele Asistio Suarez, 23, from Brgy. Loma de Gato, Marilao, Bulacan for allegedly raping a 23 year-old girl; Lhegine Odyssey Herrera, 21, and Jean Andrea Joson, both cashiers at Malolos mall for qualified theft; and Juan Carlos Pomeda, 37, of Bocaue, Bulacan for qualified theft.
Appropriate criminal charges are being prepared for filing against the suspects.


Baguio areas for rehab city bared in briefing with three line agencies

Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – City officials presented Jan. 10 the major issues and areas in the city that require rehabilitation before key officials of the Depts. of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources and the Interior and Local Government.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong identified the environment, traffic and transport, water supply, tourist destinations and geo-hazard areas occupied by informal settlers as the main aspects necessitating immediate and strategic action for the improvement of the city.
During the briefing, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and Assistant Secretary Jesus Enrico Moises Salazar representing DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu affirmed support to the city government’s rehabilitative initiatives towards sustainable development.
Puyat committed to download to the city government theP480 million fund from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the rehabilitation of the Burnham Park complex. 
A memorandum of agreement for said project was signed by Mayor Magalong and TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas as witnessed by Secretaries Puyat and Año.
In his report on the Baguio City development prospects, Mayor Magalong  also spelled out the city’s programs, projects and activities in the pipeline to address the concerns for rehabiliation.
Under the environment, the mayor named the city sewerage system, solid waste management, green cover, air quality and the city cemetery as the main areas of concern.
Projects lined up are the rehabilitation of the existing sewerage treatment plant and construction of additional plants and upgrading of the sewerline system, conversion of the Irisan dumpsite into an eco-park, establishment of more materials recovery facilities in the barangays, waste-to-energy technology; drafting of the regreening master plan for 2020-2030, establishment of tree farms and nurseries, improvement and expansion of the city cemetery.
On the traffic and transport, the concerns were congestion, carbon emission and road obstructions of which solutions being eyed are the setting up of integrated transport terminals, construction of parking building projects, improvements and construction of sidewalks, pursuit of the public utility vehicle modernization program, pursuit of alternative transport system like cable car and monorail systems, automated guideway transit and rehabilitation of the Loakan Airport and the pursuit of the smart city system which addresses the security and safety, traffic management, no-contact apprehensions, smart lighting, environment monitoring and calamity and disaster monitoring and response.
On water supply, the city targets the bulk water project, water retention and water clarification facilities.
Improving the tourist destinations would involve the development of the Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Arboretum, Bayan Park, Botanical Garden, Government Service Insurance System Tree Park, Eco-Park and Wright Park, the market development and the improvement of the heritage sites.
Other activities in the pipeline are the passage of legislative measures imposing environmental, congestion, traffic impact and other fees, strict enforcement of environmental laws, increase of fines for traffic violators, revision of designs of road islands, removal of waiting sheds from intersections, requiring commercial buildings to construct rain harvesting facilities and their own sewerage treatment plants for those with daily discharge of 12 cubic meters or more.
Assistant City Planning and Development Coordinator Antonette Anaban who presented on the city land use situation and updates also identified poor air quality, pollution of rivers, traffic congestion, diminishing forest cover and informal settlers and illegal structures within hazard and protected areas as the major problems faced by the city.
National Economic Development Authority Cordillera Regional Director Milagros Rimando presented the results of the study on the urban carrying capacity of the city which was completed last November.
The results showed that the city has breached its carrying capacity on seven critical indicators which include the land for construction and development, urban road length and area, solid waste collection, water supply and liquid waste treatment capacity and forest cover.


The rats go home

March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- As usual, hotelier Peter L. Ng and his team of Filipino-Chinese businessmen based in Baguio hosted the fellowship dinner for local and national news correspondents in this year’s Chinese Lunar Spring Festival.
As expected, tasty food of Chinese gastronomy was served, another pleasant way of greeting the year of the white metal rat of 2020, aside from other means where the Chinese New Year festival lasts for 15 days from January 25 to February 8.
What is most awaited by the audience in events such as the Chinese Lunar New Year is the presentation of the Chinese Zodiac and horoscope by Feng Shui doyens who, in one participant’s thinking, are not really experts as described, because what they present are mostly common sense.
What caught my senses in this year’s fellowship was the Feng Shui expert’s statement that in this year 2020, it is not wise to lend out money because in the Year of the Rat, there is very slim chance to get it back.
Reservations about the statement floated above the dining tables because whether it was the Year of the Rat or another year, money loaned out to people does not return easily as how it was borrowed.
The animal rat in 2020 presents other amusing forecasts and advices. The Chinese Zodiac says that during the year; destiny for one is controlled as long as plenty of hard work is put in it. I can only say, of course.
The Zodiac adds, “Success and progress in life are assured because of one’s charisma and pleasant disposition”, and that if one is not careful, financial savings will not be profitable.
Then the rat person will have good flow of money from jobs and projects if one cuts down expenses and tries to save. All is common sense as well as an advice, of course.
Concerning one’s health, the Chinese Zodiac says, one has to be very much careful with mental health that can improve with spirituality and humanitarianism. Relatively, it further says that visiting religious places and involving oneself with charitable work and spending time with family members will improve the same.
It also advises that rat people should maintain mental health and reduce stress by avoiding unnecessary arguments and by relaxing. Proper diet and sound sleep are important in maintaining physical and mental health. Of course.
Chinese horoscope says that love partnership is not encouraged this year. Then contradicts its forecast that by stating that the months of March, June, and November are favorable for love and relationships.
Also expect the months of April, July and October to be difficult, but the months of March, September and November will be enjoyable.
Rat people are those born in 1912, 1924, 1936 or every 12 years thereafter, until this year. Celebrating their birth during the Spring Festival Period is one week-long holiday that puts pressure on the transportation system in the People's Republic of China.
It aggravates problems in China's inter-city transport systems as shown by a railway system that cannot sufficiently move passengers, of which thousands are unable to reach their destinations in time for the Spring Festival celebrations. It is because, locations not serviced by rail rely on buses for transportation.
While there are other factors responsible for the absence of family members in the celebrations, the Spring Festival travel season is the main reason. It is a period of travel in China with an extremely high traffic load around the time of the Chinese New Year.
In 2016, it was estimated that the number of passengers traveling home reached almost three billion. That was recorded as the largest annual human migration in the world.
One contributing factor is that most Chinese travel home to reunite with their families during Chinese Lunar Year in a reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve. Since new economic opportunities developed in the late 70’s in places far from people's hometowns, massive migration of workers from rural to urban areas was observed.
The number of Chinese migrant workers was estimated at 200 million in 2000, and that many of them return to their hometowns during the Spring Festival holiday.
Another influence is the reform in Chinese education that resulted to the increase in the number of university students who study outside their hometowns. In 2006, it was estimated that around seven million university students were among those who traveled home. During the Spring Festival celebrations, the rats go home.


‘How safe is the ‘Safe Philippines’ project?’


Perry Diaz

Embroiled in controversy, the Safe Philippines project is facing strong opposition in the Philippine Senate due to negative reports about the contractor’s ties with China.  Allegations are that the Safe Philippines project would allow China to spy on the Philippines and pose national security risk.  Safe Philippines is a 12,000-camera closed-circuit television (CCTV) system to be installed in the cities of Quezon, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig, San Juan, Valenzuela, and Davao. The project is a partnership between the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) and Huawei. CITCC will undertake the project while Huawei will supply the equipment. The project will cost P20.31 billion, of which P1.2 billion will be shouldered by the Philippine government, while the rest will be paid through a soft loan from China Eximbank.
CITCC is an affiliate of state-owned China Telecom, one of the firms in Mislatel Consortium, soon to become the country’s third telecommunication player. The project is supposed to start this year and will be completed by late 2021 or early 2022.
Red flags
But senators have raised red flags over the surveillance project since 2018 when then Senate President Ralph Recto filed a resolution to probe the surveillance system project, citing hacking and espionage allegations against Huawei.  However, nothing came out of that investigation.
Recently, Sen. Leila de Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 275 to formally call for a Senate inquiry on the Safe Philippines project, claiming that the project is an opportunity for China to spy on Filipinos.  She said Filipinos’ right to privacy requires a Senate inquiry into how information will be collected by the Chinese firms behind the project.
"Granting a country whose global reputation for its forceful espionage activities has raised worldwide concern, the opportunity to create a surveillance system in our country should raise a red flag for our policymakers to ensure that none of our national interests are compromised by such agreements, particularly our national security," De Lima said in a dispatch she sent from her jail cell in Camp Crame.
However, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had assured the project will be handled by Filipinos. "They provide the equipment, and after providing the equipment, we'll take care of this. There will be no adviser, there will be no Chinese technician, all Filipino," he said.
According to Año, the Safe Philippines project will enable a more efficient management of public order, safety, and security.  He said the project is expected to reduce crime rate by 15% and increase response rate of law enforcers and responders by 25%. These include police and fire personnel that act during natural and human-induced emergencies.
So, what’s the problem then?
Several countries – U.S., Japan, Taiwan, and Australia -- have banned public procurement of equipment from Huawei or have rejected it from developing their information and communications technology infrastructure due to “rising security concerns.”
A recent Bloomberg report revealed that European telecommunications company Vodafone had troubles with “hidden backdoors in the software” that could have spelled out a security issue, giving Huawei “unauthorized access to [Vodafone’s] fixed-line network in Italy” back in 2011 and 2012.
 According to the report, “a backdoor is vulnerability in a device or software that could allow access to a system by a third party.”  It is a means of bypassing the security mechanisms of a computer system to access its data. Western nations like the US are worried that it might be in the interest of Huawei – and by extension, the Chinese government – to use backdoors to collect intelligence on countries where their equipment is used. The intelligence collected may then be given to China, which can be used commercially or politically.  Further, the report said: “Although it has been clarified that the problems back then were solved, some people involved in the security discussions, according to Bloomberg, revealed that problems remained.  In fact, they said that problems were even present outside Italy, in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.”
Huawei had denied any connection to China, saying that it is owned by its employees.  However, its alleged ties with the Chinese government is a matter that still worries the U.S. and other countries in the West.
But its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army. Can Huawei be coerced or swayed by the powers-that-be in China?
In December 2018, Huawei’s chief financial officer was ordered arrested by a New York court for alleged violation of sanctions in Iran.  It led the U.S. to ask a Canadian court to extradite her.  is a means of bypassing the security mechanisms of a computer system to access its data.      
Big Brother
The question is: With all the bad press Huawei has been getting, are there other issues that could compromise the Safe Philippines project from exposing the national security of the country and the privacy of the Filipino people from “Big Brother” intrusion?  In other words, what guarantees do Filipinos have that the Chinese government isn’t monitoring their moves?  It is a known fact that digital facial recognition is an integral part of CCTV.  That means that once your image is captured in the CCTV data base, people’s movements are monitored and recorded. 
And while the Safe Philippines project would reduce crime rate by 15% and increase response rate of law enforcers and responders by 25%, it deprives the citizens of 100% of their privacy.  Ultimately, the question is: How safe is the Safe Philippines project? (    


Strawberry trees along Balili River / Kid needs help for dialysis

Alfred P. Dizon

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The statement of Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong that Balili River which flows down from the Summer Capital to this Salad Bowl of the county has polluted the popular Strawberry Fields here has raised the shackles of locals and their officials.
After Magalong’s statements were aired on TV, locals noted a dip in number of vehicles from the lowlands like Manila going to the farm.  
Some residents said they were actually relieved as traffic from Baguio to Trinidad has eased with less tourist vehicles.
Since I live near the farm, we have often been asked by some tourists where the strawberries are.
The usual quip of our friendly, neighborhood drunken philosopher was: “Bakit, hindi pa ba kayo nakakakita ng strawberry tree? Marami dito. (Haven’t you seen yet a strawberry tree, these abound here.”
 Of course, there are no strawberry trees at the farm since the plant’s fruits are picked from stems near the ground.
But one time during a strawberry festival during Mayor Edna Tabanda’s term, somebody brought a strawberry tree at the park in front of the municipal hall during a press conference. Yes, a strawberry tree.
We were told the tree, around a foot long, was the result of studies done by the Benguet State University. It would be nice if the BSU, which is known for its academic excellence and actual application could produce more strawberry trees.
This could further arouse the interest of people from the lowlands to visit La Trinidad.
Anyhow, Magalong’s statement has given a breather to folks here tired of daily traffic jams particularly along km 6 where the strawberry farm is located.       
Magalong has since apologized to officials of La Trinidad and constituents for what he described as uncalled for statements that were damaging to the neighboring town and their product.
“I was emphasizing that we in Baguio are guilty of polluting Balili River that flows down to the municipality, that we have a social responsibility to address it and that we are going to do something about it so that they will have cleaner water but in my desire to drive home that point, I came up with uncalled for statement that I should have not said at all.  I was wrong and I apologize,” the mayor said in a press dispatch sent by Aileen P. Refuerzo, chief of the city information office to the NPT.
The dispatch said in the Jan. 10 consultation with the heads of the Depts. of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources and the Interior and Local Government, Magalong talked of the city’s urgent need to rehabilitate its sewerage system to address the pollution of the Balili River of which coliform level had run into quadrillions.
He then said this adversely affects the town including its strawberry produce being irrigated by with the water from the filthy water source.
Realizing his mistake, the mayor immediately apologized to La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda through a text message: “Good afternoon Manong Romy.  My apologies if you felt slighted with my pronouncement regarding Balili River and strawberry farm. I believe it was uncalled for. I will make amends.”
Salda acknowledged Magalong’s apology but sought to correct the implications of the statement in interviews with local media where he said, “There is no irrigation from Balili River going to the swamp area where the strawberry farms are” and they “have a source from the creek from Pico and Puguis but none from Balili River.”
La Trinidad Tourism Officer Valred Olsim reportedly appealed to officials of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) to be cautious in issuing statements to avoid putting neighbors in a bad light.
Anyhow, the gaffe was a wake-up call. The DENR could conduct
studies on quality of water being used to water strawberries at the farm considering  tourists often eat strawberries on the spot after harvesting these.
A clean watering system could be done to bring back the trust of tourists on cleanliness of strawberries they eat.
If the farmers of Buguias, Benguet use permanent sprinklers to water their vegetables, maybe it could be done at the strawberry fields. Water could come from deep wells or from the La Trinidad Water District.
The initiative could come from the BSU since it owns the farm being rented out to farmers.
The Dept. of Agriculture could also come up with an irrigation project in the site.
As an old adage says, behind every problem is an opportunity. Over the years, La Trinidad officials have often been complaining since they could not implement some local laws within BSU.
School authorities have always said the school is autonomous and covered by its own policies.
Anyhow, if anything good came out of the Baguio mayor’s gaffe, local authorities, BSU, DA, environment, health among other concerned officials could now meet to discuss the issue of strawberries which could be widened to include issues on environment, lands and socio-economic concerns of the Salad Bowl of the country.
Oh, I almost forgot, the BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Sablan, Tublay, Tuba) body could start the talks considering it is an environment, health and sanitation concern.    
Meanwhile, will somebody please bring me some strawberry trees to adorn my patio and brag about to visitors?  
Chronic kidney disease patient Bryan Kelly Becaca whose life depends on a three-time-weekly dialysis routine is appealing for assistance in acquiring a fistula and provide for other medical needs, Julie G. Fianza of the city information office said.
The costly fistula provides an artery-vein connection appropriate for dialysis.
And 25-year old Bryan needs it immediately as the catheter now being used is susceptible to infection, Fianza said.
He has been on dialysis for more than five years now, after being hospitalized due to influenza in 2014 which progressed to Chronic Kidney Disease stage 5, secondary to Chronic Glomerulonephritis with needs for intensive medication.
Last week, his mother, Claudia proceeded to city hall, nearly in tears as she poured out Bryan’s near-death stories due to missed dialysis session, congestion and infection. Living in the outskirts of the city also poses a challenge as mother and son have to hike a distance in early mornings to catch a ride to Baguio where dialysis centers are located.
Bryan, is the sixth child among seven siblings and only son of Christopher and Claudia Becaca, who are residents of Luneta, Loacan, Itogon, Benguet. He finished his secondary studies at Alejo M. Pacalso National High School in Bua, Tuding, Itogon; and took up Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at the Benguet State University in La Trinida, Benguet. Due to his present health condition, he stopped schooling but feels positive that he could overcome this predicament.
His father Christopher is a laborer, with earnings just enough to sustain their daily needs.
Bryan’s mother Claudia could be contacted through CP # 09466603344 for benevolent readers who may wish to share any assistance.
A surgeon in the city has reportedly expressed interest in giving aid to Bryan.


Public schools to house 7K CAR sports delegates

By Pigeon Lobien 

BAGUIO CITY – Seven of the biggest elementary and high schools here will be utilized as sleeping quarters for the more than 7,000 athletes and delegates to the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) meet from Feb. 16-21 in various venues.
Host Baguio’s athletes will be billeted at the Baguio City High School (BCNHS) campus on Harrison and Gov. Pack Road, just at the back of the main venue, the Baguio athletic bowl complex.
The BCNHS, the biggest high school in northern Luzon, will be the command center of the six-day annual sports meet where the technical committee led by Department of Education (DepEd)-Baguio and Cordillera personnel will be staying.
Delegates from the adjacent province, Benguet will be housed at the Pines City National High School (PCNHS) and Josefa Cariño Elementary School.
Both are located near the Baguio City Hall, about 400 meters from the main venue.
The two schools are beside the oldest elementary school in the country, the Baguio Central School (BCS) which will be home for the delegates of Apayao.
Apayao delegates will have the longest trip coming at a minimum of 13 hours.
Abra athletes and officials will be staying at the Bonifacio Elementary School and the adjoining Guisad Valley National High School.
Located along Bokawkan Road and nestled at what could be the old capital of the city, the Guisad Valley, delegates and athletes will need to navigate the at least one-kilometer distance to the playing venue.
Athletes from Mountain Province will be housed at the Lucban Elementary School on Magsaysay Avenue near the city’s border to La Trinidad, Benguet.
A ride using the Trancoville jeepneys would take about 15 minutes to get to Harrison Road, barely a kilometer away.
Ifugao contingents will also have an easy time getting to the venue as they will be billeted at the Quezon Elementary School on Upper Session Road.
The ride will be easy for these participants with the numerous jeepney groups plying the area.
The venue is less than a kilometer from the school.
A short walk is for the Ifugao delegates as they will be staying at the Mabini Elementary School which is about 400 meters from the playing venue via Session Road, Gov. Pack, Harrison, and Burnham.
Kalinga participants will have to spend more time traveling as their accommodation will be at the Rizal Elementary and National High School at Wright Park, some two kilometers away from the venue.
But the ride will be easy with the Mines View jeepneys plying the route and just 100 meters away is the Saint Joseph Church where Pacdal bound jeepneys are stationed to wait for passengers.
“We are more than ready to have the games with everything in place now,” said DepEd Baguio assistant superintendent Soraya Faculo, who said that PHP8.4 million will be spent for the hosting of the event.
The DepEd and the city government, with the local media as a witness, will sign the memorandum of agreement between the two parties on Jan. 15.
Baguio is set to host the CARAA anew after Apayao backed out as a result of disasters in 2019.
Meanwhile, the CARAA will start with two major Baguio events to be staged on the same day, Feb. 16.
The Panagbenga will have some of its main events on February 16 coinciding with the last day of the Philippine Military Academy homecoming.
The Panagbenga season peaks with some of the major activities including a traditional event lined up at the Melvin Jones Football Field, the “Let a Thousand Flower Bloom” which is to be staged the whole day.
Other Panagbenga events during the day are the: “Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilyang Baguio”, a family fair that is also a whole day activity as well as the “Panagbenga Open Kite Flying”, the Panagbenga Cultural Show and the fireworks display, one of the several slated during the month-long festivity.
The PMA will have the closing of its annual alumni homecoming which will start on February 14.
The Panagbenga used to stage its main event, the street dancing and float parade during the PMA alumni homecoming causing heavy traffic. That scenario prompted the festival organizers to move the Panagbenga main events to another date. (PNA)


Bontoc b’gay top lupong tagapamayapa in Mt Prov

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Poblacion was awarded recently best barangay in conflict resolution. 
             The Dept. of Interior and Local Government and the provincial government cited the lupong tagapamayapa in their crucial role in conflict resolution in the barangays asthey awarded the barangay justice committee of Poblacion of this capital town as outstanding  in the province. 
Barangay official representatives of Poblacion  received during the  Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting a plaque of appreciation signed by Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. and DILG provincial director Anthony Manolo I. Ballug  and a  check of  P15,000.00  for being the  outstanding Lupong Tagapamayapa  for calendar year 2018 under the 1st – 3rd class municipalities category.
                The Lupong Tagapamayapa is an annual search by virtue of executive order no. 394, S. 1997 establishing the Lupong Tagapamayapa Incentives Awards. It four categories namely  the outstanding Lupong Tagapamayapa in Highly-Urbanized Cities, Component Cities, 1st – 3rd Class Municipalities, and 4th – 6th Class Municipalities.
The awards aim to strengthen the Katarungang Pambarangay as an indigenous conflict resolution structure at the grassroots level and institutionalize a system of granting economic benefits to Lupons that demonstrate exemplary performance. It also aims to generate greater awareness among and support from the various sectors of society on the Katarungang Pambarangay as a potent vehicle toward social order and human development.
Criteria in the conduct of the annual search include the efficiency in operation which covers the observance of settlement procedure and settlement deadline, systematic maintenance of record, timely submission of reports to concerned agencies, and conduct of monthly meetings exclusively on Katarungang Pambarangay matters; effectiveness in securing the settlement of interpersonal dispute objective of the Katarungang Pambarangay which covers the quantity of settled cases against filed, quantity of settlement of cases, at least 80% compliance with terms of settlement or award after the cases have been filed; creativity and resourcefulness of the Lupon and training or seminar within the assessment period; area or facility for Katarungang Pambarangay activities,  and financial or non-financial support. (JDP/JBS-PIA CAR, Mt. Province)


BFAR gives fiberglass boats to Ambuklao folks

BOKOD, Benguet -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Cordillera (BFAR-CAR)  last week turned-over motorized fishing boats made from fiberglass to fisher folks of Sitio Kiweng, Barangay Ambuklao   this town. 
Forty fisher folks received  20 units of 20-footer motorized fishing boats and their certificates of award during a simple ceremony along the Ambuklao River from  BFAR-CAR Director Lilibeth Signey, Bokod municipal and Ambuklao barangay officials last  January 3.
Each fishing boat has two beneficiaries to promote shared ownership and responsibilities to ensure its upkeep and maintenance. In return, beneficiaries shall submit catch record to BFAR each time the boat is utilized for fishing and shall report any form of illegal and destructive fishing, Signey said. 
The fabrication of the fishing boats was done by the beneficiaries themselves through the scheme "Bangka Ko, Gawa Ko"  that aims not just to provide livelihood assistance through the provision of FRP boats for the fishermen but to also encourage and build cooperativism among the fishing communities.
Signey said the project is part of BFAR's F/B Pagbabago Livelihood and Development Program in line with the DA-BFAR’s mandate to “Improve fisheries productivity and empower stakeholders towards food security, global competitiveness and climate change adaptation.”
F/B Pagbabago is a livelihood intervention of the DA-BFAR under its National Fisherfolk Program dubbed as Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation or TARGET.
It aims to uplift the economic status of Filipino fisherfolk through the provision of disaster-resilient fishing boats and resource-appropriate fishing gears, while at the same time empowering the fisherfolk and their families to become responsible resource users.
The program is anchored on a comprehensive approach to fisheries development following the Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management to ensure the sustainability of the resource and shall integrate the development of both production and marketing channels to enable fisherfolk to optimize economic returns, and thus improve their economic plight.
The turn over ceremony was also witnessed by Bokod Municipal Agriculturist Gerardo Beray, Sangguniang Bayan Chairman for Agriculture Johnny Sama, Councilor Alejandro Basilio, newly designated BFAR-CAR Chief of Fisheries Production Support Services Division Lois June B. Fermin, and Provincial Fisheries Officer-Designate for Benguet Arnulfo E. Taberna, Jr. (JDP/ RMC- PIA CAR)


DSWD Sec to druggies: Aim for better life

KIANGAN, Ifugao --Top officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) urged recovering drug personalities (RDPs) in the province to aim high in life for community and nation building.
“Continue to prove to the world and to yourselves that you are now immersed and responsible citizens of the community,” said DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista in his message during the 5thMoving-up ceremony of RDPs and Persons who used drugs in this town, delivered by Assistant Secretary Joseline Niwane.
            Twenty nine campers completed activities under the six months rehabilitation program at the Ifugao Reflection Camp (IRC), Tiger Hill, Kiangan. They are now eligible to avail the 18-months aftercare program.  Their moving up was witnessed by their families, Local Anti-Drug Abuse Councils and other officials.
                “You have proven that a past experience cannot hinder one’s ability to change. As you venture in the next step of the process, remember the people who have helped and supported you in every step for when the time comes, it’s your turn to give back to your friends, family, community and the country,” he said.
             Bautista also underscored the important role of every stakeholder for the efficient and effective implementation of government programs and services for the rehabilitation of RDPs in the province and the country.
“Being able to recover, regain control and change for the better is a collaborative effort of the state, community and of oneself. The harmonization of rehabilitation and reintegration programs can only be fully realized with the full support of everyone involved,” he stated.
               The DSWD, he said, adopted framework of community- based rehabilitation program of the province through the IRC in a national scale referred to as “Yakap-Bayan.”
“Seeing the promising effects it has brought about, I highly encourage other lower government units to apply the Yakap-Bayan in their respective communities and be our ally in transforming lives again,” Bautista stated.DSWD ASEC Jose Antonio Hernandez also urged the RDPs to aim high for the family, community and the next generation.
“The world is watching us, be the spear. Our province has invested in you, it is time to give back,” Hernandez said.
He also commended  the province of Ifugao for the initiative and hopes  that it will continue in giving a “maagap at mapagkalingang serbisyo sa mamamayan”.
The IRC recorded a total of 605 drug personalities with 428 enrolled in the community- based rehabilitation program with 332 successfully completing the program. Four RDPs were able to complete the 18-months aftercare program. (JDP/MBL- PIA CAR, Ifugao)


Weight challenge changes Bontoc folks’ lives

By Alpine L. Killa 

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The “Chagsen (weight) Challenge”  Search for the Biggest Loser” of this capital town transformed not only participants’ bodies, but their lifestyle habits too.
After months of sweats, persistence and living a healthy lifestyle, Municipal Health Officer Dr. Diga Kay Gomez reported that 14 participants made it to the final weighing on Jan. 7 out of the 104 who registered since it started on August 2019.
The participants are 18 years old and above. 
 Mark Joey Kadchao emerged as the “overall biggest loser winner” after losing 15 kilos and now weighing 72 kilos from his initial weight of 87 kilograms. As the champion, he received a cash prize of P15, 000. 
                Elsie Sianen came as the next biggest loser and biggest loser winner from the Bontoc local government after she lost 11.3 kilograms.
From her initial weight of 73.3 kilograms, she now weighs 62 kilograms. Sianen received P5, 000 each from the categories she had won. 
                The other finishers who made it to the final weighing and have lost weights are Estelita Aquino, Mary Grace Nabayan, Clement Tudlong, Jo-Anne Faluyan, Jerome Tudlong, Jr., Jairus Abiasen, Estrella Wanawan, Arlene Eickmee Gasmena, Karen Claire Balong-angey, Remilyn Mangatam, Divina Pascua, and Julie Lafadchan. 
 Also, “best in attendance” during the weekly hataw/ zumba were Kate Yawan and Jo-Anne Falluyan.
They received a cash prize of P4, 500 each. Yawan received an additional P4, 500 as an honorarium for teaching the participants during the weekly Hataw/Zumba. 
                Kadchao and Sianen highlighted discipline in losing weight and attaining a healthy body.
These include being cautious in food intake, having regular exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. 
                During the awarding of winners on Jan. 13 at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol, Dr. Gomez thanked Mayor Franklin Odsey, Sangguniang Bayan members Jerome Tudlong, Jr. and Alsannyster Patingan who sponsored the cash prizes. 
             The “Chagsen Challenge” is a newly conceptualized lifestyle program of the Bontoc Municipal Government which aimed to promote health and wellness among the employees of the municipal government and the public.
Also, the program is for the public to lose unwanted and unnecessary weight through natural means of proper food intake and regular exercise. The activity was proposed by Sangguniang Bayan member Jerome Tudlong, Jr. who chairs the Committee on Health and Sanitation in collaboration with the Municipal Health Office (MHO).
 Meanwhile, the public is encouraged to get ready and wait for the announcement for the start of the Second Season of “Chagsen Challenge


Mt Province healthiest barangays, schools cited

By Erwin S. Batnag

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The Provincial Health Office bared the results of the 2019 Search for the Healthiest Places in Mountain Province during the regular Monday program last week.
The annual search which aims to encourage healthy environment consciousness and healthy lifestyle in the communities and schools is already in its fourth year of implementation.
Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. and Provincial Health Officer Nenita D. Lizardo turned over the prizes to the provincial winners and participants.
All the participating schools and barangays received P5, 000 cash prize each and certificates of recognition. The provincial winner in each category received P50, 000 each to be used for health-related project in their respective area. Funding for the search was sourced out from the Aid to Provincial Health Board of the Provincial Government.
There are three categories of the search namely: Barangay Category, Elementary Schools Category and Secondary Schools Category.
Barangay Mabalite in Tadian was adjudged as the winner for the Barangay Category while Lunas, Barlig and Nacagang, Sagada came second and third, respectively. Tocucan, Bontoc (4th place) and Anabel, Sadanga (5th place) were also recognized.
For the Elementary School Category, Mainit Elementary School (Bontoc) was proclaimed as the winner while Sacasacan Elementary School (Sadanga) and Pandayan Elementary School (Tadian) came second and third, respectively. Other participants were Lias Elementary School in Barlig (4th place) Antadao Elementary School in Sagada (5th place) and Bauko Central School (6th place).
            Moreover, Am-am National High School (Tadian) was adjudged as the healthiest secondary school in the province. Other winners were Lias National High School in Barlig (2nd place), Tocucan National High School in Bontoc (3rd place) and Saclit National High School in Sadanga(4th place).
Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Office further informed that the Provincial Government has procured 1,500 toilet bowls to be distributed this year to identified households in all municipalities of the province that are still in need of toilet bowl as part of its Environmental Sanitation Program. This is in support to the Zero Open Defecation Program of the DOH.


Baguio sets measures to eradicate dengue

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has upped measures to prevent dengue in this summer capital.
Ordinance 66, series of 2016 or the Anti-Dengue ordinance of Baguio was implemented though several amendments may be needed, including institutionalizing of several other measures, for an enhanced fight against the mosquito-borne disease.
This is the result of the legislative monitoring, tracking and status report done by the Sangguniang Panlungsod staff through letters and interviews with City Health Services officers: Dengue Prevention Program Coordinator Donnabel Tubera-Panes, and Sanitation Division head engineer Charles Bryan Carame.
Recommended to be institutionalized or incorporated with the existing ordinance are Department of Interior and Local Government Issuances 2012 and 2019; Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue (ABKD) and advocacy on the prevention of Dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
Checklists for implementation, monitoring, evaluation, various activities for the control of said diseases at the local government unit and barangay level are included in DILG MC 2019 for sustainability.
The checklists for preparedness include organizing Dengue brigades; daily implementation of clean-ups at 4 PM or the four o’clock habit; wearing long-sleeves/long pants or protective clothing; instigating information and education campaigns through point persons; conducting Parent-Teacher Association conferences with focus on health and Dengue prevention; preparedness of school health facilities for febrile and Dengue suspect pupils/students; classroom inspection and screening; fogging; and daily monitoring/recording through logbook of pupils/students’ wellbeing.
The Enhanced 4S: Search and Destroy (mosquito breeding places), Seek early consultation (when symptoms are felt), self-protect (use protective clothing and repellants), and approval to fogging when cases increase within two weeks; is also included in the checklist.
Strengthening of partnerships with the Department of Education for full and regular implementation of enhanced 4S programs including private schools and universities is also recommended.
Funds and penalties for violations were also implemented, the report stated.
The ordinance was penned due to the Cordillera region having one of the highest reported cases of dengue.


Mayor to groups: Help Banaue farmers maintain rice terraces

>> Monday, January 20, 2020

DIALOGUE -- Banaue, Ifugao mayor Wes Dulawan said they welcome discussions with a United Nations body, national and provincial government agencies to map out plans to improve the Ifugao rice terraces and improve lives of Ifugao farmers and not just to preserve the UNESCO Heritage Site. (PNA file photo by Liza T. Agoot)

By Pigeon Lobien  

BANAUE, Ifugao -- The mayor of this tourist town wants concerned agencies to map out a plan that will make traditional farmers of its famous rice terraces more productive, provide a performance-based grant not just to preserve the UNESCO Heritage Site but also enhance its environment.
In an interview on Thursday, Banaue Mayor Wes Dulawan said farmers rather depend on the dole out from the various government agencies assisting them than improve on production.
He suggested that performance-based grants will make farmers preserve the stonewall and provide irrigation on the rice paddies which have been their source of livelihood for generations.
“So that farmers could continue the rice cycle,” he said, adding that farmers are late in their planting cycle.
Dulawan said a holistic approach must be made since government agencies have been working to preserve the rice terraces and the culture of the Ifugao.
Support has been provided by the Departments of Tourism (DOT), Agriculture (DA), the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Social Welfare Development (DSWD) but each of them is only concentrating on specific mandates.
Dulawan said he is very eager to work out with the different departments to come out with an approach that will motivate the farmers to continue the rice cycle.
Reacting on a television news report which said the Ifugao rice terraces are in a very critical stage of deterioration, Dulawan welcomed the report, saying it will create an avenue for discussions.
He added that the issue of the condition of the rice terraces deserves "serious attention.”
Dulawan reached out to the Food and Agricultural Office of the United Nations (UN-FAO)-Philippines wherein he requested for a meeting to complement its technical resources with Banaue’s indigenous knowledge systems.
"The Banaue LGU hopes to collaborate with FAO in assessing the national and local efforts in the 12 years that transpired since the conclusion was reached that the rice terraces are in a very critical stage of deterioration. Perhaps then, we can also collaborate on concrete solutions based on the current situation," he said.
He pointed out that the FAO, culling its conclusion from DENR's 2008 proposal, posted that the terraces are in a very critical stage of deterioration and "do not allow the local communities to overcome the poverty line."
He said the rice terraces have partly sustained the families and clans that have traditionally worked the “payo” (terraces) for their own needs at least until the 80s, with some surplus sold for additional necessities.
He noted that the Tinawon heirloom rice variety which is traditionally planted in the terraces is a once-a-year crop so “our clans also worked on swidden farms, and harvested products from communal forests and water bodies.”
Dulawan added that it is “critical to note that not all families have worked the terraces as the majority of communities in Ifugao have also traditionally found a sustainable livelihood in forests and swidden farms, and as artisans and farmers.”
The mayor said Banaue will work not just with FAO but also with the national and provincial governments, and private groups to prioritize the financial empowerment of farmers, families, and clans so they can themselves rehabilitate the terraces.
“Lifting the Ifugao out of poverty, however, means the forests, water bodies and swidden farms also have to be sustained as they are all connected to each other,” he added. (PNA)


CSC searches for Cordillera servant-heroes

BAGUIO CITY -- The Civil Service Commission-CAR announced the 2020 Search for Outstanding Government Workers in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Lawyer Marilyn E. Taldo, Cordillera regional director bared this saying the annual search for public service exemplars is mandated under the 1987 Philippine Constitution and is being undertaken through the CSC Honor Awards Program (HAP).
The search aims to recognize and reward individuals and groups of individuals who have rendered outstanding contributions and achievements, and have displayed exemplary conduct and ethical behavior in public service, she said.
Nominations for the search, Taldo added, are now being accepted nationwide through the Civil Service Commission’s regional and field Offices. 
Nomination forms, details and other relevant data may be obtained from any of the CSC’s regional and field offices throughout the country or from the honor awards program secretariat at the CSC Central Office, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City.
Downloadable HAP forms and guidelines are available at the CSC
Heads of agencies were urged to nominate employees who were awardee/s under their agency’s Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (PRAISE), pursuant to CSC Memorandum Circular No. 02, s. 2019. 
Posthumous nomination may be made for a public servant who died in the line of duty or in the pursuit of his/her official duties and responsibilities as a civil servant.
Government agencies have until March 31 to submit to the CSC regional or provincial office nominations of agency officials and employees in any or all of the three award categories in the search: the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award (individual or group); Dangal ng Bayan Award (individual) and the Civil Service Commission PAGASA Award (individual or group).
A group or team may be nominated even if there are members who fail to meet qualification requirements.
Said members, however, shall be excluded from the grant of award, should the team/group be selected as recipient.
Previous awardees can still be nominated to the same or to another award after five years from the conferment of his/her award, provided that the nomination is based on new set of accomplishments and/or exemplary norms/behavior manifested. Nominees who are recipients of national awards given by private organizations / institutions shall be automatically considered for the Search.
Any individual or organization with extensive knowledge of the performance and behavior of the official, employee or group / team may nominate for the Honor Awards.
While agencies are expected to nominate their exemplars, there is no limit as to the number of nominees which the agency may submit in any of the three award categories.
Nominations must be approved and endorsed by the office, provincial or regional PRAISE committee to the Department / Agency head which in turn shall endorse the nomination to the honor awards program secretariat through CSC field or regional offices.
The conferment of honor awards aims to motivate or inspire government employees to improve the quality of their performance and instill deeper involvement in public service.
The search culminates with the recognition and conferment of awards to deserving public servants during the celebration of the anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service in September.
For queries, contact the following phone numbers: CSC –CAR Regional Office (443-5981 or 443-5982); CSC Baguio Field Office (424-2659) and CSC Benguet Field Office (665-6670); or email the Regional Office at or, or seek assistance from any of our Provincial Offices. 
The CSC called for support from Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (PRAISE) committees in Cordillera and agency heads for identification of potential 2020 HAP awardees.


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