‘Corruption’ in distribution of gov’t amelioration funds

>> Wednesday, April 29, 2020


The Departments of Social and Welfare and Development and Labor and Employment among other government offices down to barangays have been the object of criticism the past weeks for alleged haphazard and inefficient distribution of “social amelioration” funds among others due to Covid-19.
Netizens and pundits have accused government officials of corruption in distribution of funds.
In the Cordillera, reports from all provinces have cast doubts on how the government allotment was used. According to government announcements, more than P200 billion nationwide was used to address needs of people like food.
Some reported through social media they didn’t receive assistance in terms of funds or goods from government or through its agencies like the DSWD or the Dept. of Labor and employment. 
This, as the Cordillera DSWD regional office reported an additional 50,000 family food packs (FFPs) from its Central Office according to a Philippine Information Agency report.
Many Cordillera constituents are wondering how this will be distributed,
DSWD – Cordillera regional director Leo Quintilla, in a media briefing last week in Baguio City reported that materials for the production of 25,000 FPPs have arrived from DSWD Central and they have coordinated with the National Food Authority to purchase rice.
                The delivery of food materials for another 25,000 FFPs is expected this week for augmentation in the province of Apayao, Abra and Ifugao, he said.
                Quintilla explained relief goods for Covid-19 affected families will be shouldered initially by local government units.
He said the DSWD comes in only if the LGUs have exhausted their emergency/calamity funds and they request for augmentation.
Per DSWD monitoring in Cordillera as of April 16, regional LGUs reported a total of 1,187 barangays with 379,091 families (including 60,164 household beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) or 1,518,968 individuals as part of the COVID-affected population in the region.
                He added a total of 18,760 FFPs was given by the DSWD – Cordillera to affected communities in the region. There are reportedly still 22,156 FFPs to be given in the region.
With the coming in of 50,000 more FPPs from the DSWD Central Office, the Cordillera regional office will have more than enough stockpile for relief operation and for any emergency, according to Quintilla. DSWD Cordillera reportedly maintains a P3 million quick reaction fund.
                On the Social Amelioration Program, Quintilla said  DSWD – Cordillera has already downloaded around P1.3 billion for the cash subsidy of verified and qualified beneficiaries in all the 77 LGUs (two cities and 75 municipalities) in Cordillera.
Distribution is reportedly ongoing in all the provinces in the region.  As per April 16 data of DSWD – CAR, around P77.88 million SAP fund has already been dispersed to 14,226 families in the different provinces in the region.
According to Quintilla, in  addition to the 60,164 4Ps beneficiaries in the region, the SAP cash subsidy of P5,500 is set to benefit 40,825 families in Abra; 11,915 in Apayao; 45,000 in Baguio City; 59,962 in Benguet; 27,228 in Ifugao; 25,088 in Kalinga and 27,371 in Mountain Province.
These are DSWD figures for Cordillera alone. But as netizens are pointing out any government agency could come up with figures on how they disbursed funds to address needs of the people due to Covid-19.
They say there must be an efficient way to audit the funds from the local to the national level and presented to the people in a transparent manner like posting names of beneficiaries and how much they were given.
This, considering that some names in lists are fictitious or those of the dead. Netizens are asking: Who got the money for the dead?    


Cordillera values ensure stranded IP students don’t go hungry

Alfred P. Dizon

(Rocky Ngalob, regional information officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in Cordillera writes this week’s column)
More than a hundred food packs, composed of five kilos of rice, eight assorted canned goods, a kilo vegetables each, were distributed to stranded indigenous peoples (IP) students from Besao, Mountain Province who are all currently studying in Baguio and nearby La Trinidad, Benguet. 
All IP student beneficiary hail from Besao. One of the remotest municipalities of Mountain Province situated at the west most part and boundary area between the province of Abra. Students came to Baguio, the education capital of the north, with the aim to attain formal education.
Cordillera values of Binnadang and Inayan 
Aiding stranded IP students in Baguio and La Trinidad or anyone who are in distress is an expected practice from the IPs of Cordillera. The Binnadang values between and among the IPs of Cordillera is predicated on the norm; in times of crisis and/or distress, all should be united and collectively lend a hand to those who are in need.
Time and again, in the Cordillera, this value was reflected in times of floods, landslides, earthquakes, famine, drought etc. It is inherent to all Cordillerans. It is a non-reciprocal aid to fellow Cordillerans which emanates from the heart; it is voluntary, immediate, direct, and automatic.
Another inherent value from the IPs, especially to Mountain Province, is the infamous Inayan or the recognition of karma and/or the fear from their supreme deity, Kabunian. Most of the time, Inayan plays as the unseen conscience of the IPs of the Cordillera. Inayan keeps you up at night. It is akin to a toothache if you’re at fault; or an itch that needs scratching, if you just sat on the fences doing nothing knowing that you could’ve done something for the distress populace. 
Even when not affected by calamities, Cordillerans especially the farmers, whom have less financial capacity in life, have tons of vegetables to give. One may recall the vegetables sent to stricken communities of Tagaytay when Taal volcano erupted or the truck loads of Sayotes to the surviving families of the earthquake that hit Mindanao. Not to mention that they are still sending vegetables to the LGUs of Manila for distribution as relief despite that, they themselves, are experiencing hunger due to the lockdown.    
Living the IP values 
Still conscious with the IP values of Binnadang, lawyer Atanacio Addog, likewise of Besao or self-ascribed as Applai IP group, after having attained his formal education and now seated as the regional legal officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP – CAR), always looks back to his community and its values and extends his services by distributing relief packs to the stranded students.  
Addog squeezes time from his busy schedule to repack reliefs for the stranded IP students.  He also volunteers his vehicle and likewise drive the same in delivering repacked reliefs to students. In his regular time, under the ‘work from scheme’ apart from his legal functions, he coordinates with projects proponents situated within the Ancestral Domains as to the compliance of their obligations stipulated in their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with host IP communities. A lawyer by profession and true blue IP by blood and heart.  
According to him, reliefs came from the joint efforts of the some IPs in Besao residing in Baguio and LaTrinidad along with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Besao who happens to be IPs themselves. 
Addog sees himself as a young lad through the IP students who are also striving to attain formal education here in the city while being away from their families trying to make ends meet through the meager ‘padala’ coming from their parents.  
“In the City, IP students stick and fend for each other. This way, they compensate, even just for a moment, their home sickness. Most of these IP students are renting boarding houses and/or dormitories in the City. For their sustenance, most students, especially those non-working students, rely solely to the ‘padala’ from their parents. And when these ‘padala’ gets temporarily stalled due to the lockdown, the Binnadang value steps in,” said Addog.  
He added this situation is not isolated as the rest of the IP students studying in Baguio and La Trinidad coming from the different provinces in CAR, not only in Mountain Province, share the same problems in this time of crisis.
Even then, LGUs from the different provinces of CAR are going the extra mile, extending efforts to aid other stranded IP students. 
In their previous delivery of food packs last April 18, 2020, stranded IP students from Besao were reminded by Addog and other volunteers to standby and not to leave their boarding houses. “Sed-en yu nan watwat yu ta e danon mi isnan pantew yu” (Your share of relief packs will be delivered at your doorstep).
Addog disclosed that they were able to secure a good number of oversized chickens, and that they will be butchering the same to be distributed to the stranded students. Addog assures that they will be butchering the chickens following the process of Pikpik (The chicken will be beaten softly through its neck and wings so that the blood inside the chicken will coagulate. Then the chicken will be thrown at an open fire until feathers are burned off). Burned feathers and skin along with the coagulated blood of the chicken gives flavoring and aroma to the Pinikpikan (famous dish of the IPs in Cordillera). 
“It’s been more than a month since the quarantine was imposed, for sure these stranded IP students are craving for Pinikpikan”, said Addog.   
Other extended efforts  
Just days after the lockdown was imposed, LGUs and other kind hearted IPs of CAR sent vehicles to fetch IP students stranded in Baguio. According to Addog, they received report that LGUs from the provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province sent vehicles to ferry stranded IP student back to their homes in the province. 
Some students boarded these vehicles while some opted stay behind in Baguio and La Trinidad. They have no choice but to stay behind because their schools resumed its online classes; and that there is scarcity of internet connection and mobile signal in the remote areas of their provinces in CAR. 
“Wasdin mang kawwan as salun-at na amed adwani ay didigra tapno mawakgat nan batawa et awnet kasiyana” (Collectively, we take of each other in this trying tribulation as when the new day breaks, we’ll get back to what it was before. This too shall pass!)  


Wake-up call: PH doctors in dire need of PPE

Perry Diaz]

Early in the novel coronavirus outbreak, former presidential spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo defended President Rodrigo Duterte on his decision to allow the Chinese to travel to the Philippines. “No need to ban our Chinese friends,” he said. “You just need to boost your immune system.” That was on January 23, 2020, three weeks after the pandemic broke out.
A week later, on January 30, 2020, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go commented, “China is not the only country hit by the virus.” He said, “Other countries, too. It’s hard to single out China.”
On February 3, 2020, President Duterte declared: “Everything is well in the country. There is nothing to be extra-scared of that coronavirus thing.”
With President Duterte and his two close allies rooting for the Chinese, it left the doors wide open for Chinese tourists – untested of the virus — to come to the Philippines, exposing the country to the virus.
As the novel coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19) spread in Manila, Duterte – who had refused to impose a travel ban then — abruptly imposed ground, sea, and air travel ban to and from China for a month through April 14, 2020. By the time he had imposed the travel ban, the COVID-19 virus had already spread in Manila.
               He ordered 40,000 police officers deployed to checkpoints on roads that lead to Manila. Each vehicle was stopped to check the IDs of the passengers and purpose of their travel. The officers also looked for people with symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and coughing.
Duterte then authorized sweeping quarantines in Metro Manila to fight the COVID-19 virus. He also banned large gatherings in the metropolitan area, suspended most government work, and extended the suspension of classes by a month in new restrictions announced in a nationwide TV address. He warned that violators and officials who refuse to enforce the restrictions would face possible imprisonment.
“This is not martial law,” Duterte said, stressing that the restrictions are only aimed at fighting the COVID-19 virus. He himself was tested for the COVID-19 virus and has self-quarantined although he has no symptoms of COVID-19. He only wanted to make sure he was healthy and could continue to engage with the public.
At least nine Cabinet members said they were exposed separately to COVID-19 patients and decided to self-quarantine. Several mayors and senators have also gone on home quarantine after coming into contact with patients.
It’s interesting to note that prior to imposing the travel ban, Duterte had allowed flights from China to the Philippines. The total number of Chinese tourists allowed to enter the Philippines at the time of the outbreak was around 4,500. He had resisted calls and pleas for travel restrictions, saying “Not yet” and reasoned that there had been no proven case off human-to-human transmission of the virus.
“If there is the slightest possibility that a contamination could occur in the
Philippines, then we will have to take measures,” Duterte said. “At this time there is no known protocol which we can follow to combat the disease. What we can do is to limit the people entering [the Philippines]. It could include China but at this time, I am not for it. It would not be fair [to China].” But would it be fair to allow people suspected of having COVID-19 from China to enter the Philippines?
Health Secretary Francisco Duque reluctantly recommended banning Chinese nationals from entering the country. He said the government is looking at the ban as an option; however, he raised the issue that China might question why the Philippines is not imposing the same restriction on other countries? But Mr. Secretary, the virus originated in China; there were no other countries where the virus was found in large numbers at that time.
Total ban
The first case was a Chinese national who arrived in the Philippines on January 21. The man tested positive for COVID-19. It prompted Duque to immediately recommend a temporary ban on all travelers from Hubei province in China, where Wuhan is. But some experts urged the president to go even further. Dr. Anthony Leachon, former president of the Philippine College of Physicians, recommended a “total ban.” “China is the main source of the coronavirus and with the most deaths and cases globally. Protecting our people from an epidemic is paramount,” Leachon said. “The deaths and cases are mounting – we need to do something.”
“It is hard to say that you suspend everything because they are not also suspending theirs and they continue to respect the freedom flights that we enjoy,” Duterte told reporters in an ambush interview. Once again, Duterte implied that he didn’t want to antagonize Chinese President Xi Jinping whom he was kowtowing to.
                But Duterte needs to realize that China is not banning travel between China and the Philippines because Filipinos traveling to China are not considered high risk for carrying the virus.
Eventually, the Philippines suspended all flights from Wuhan and the issuance of visas upon arrival for Chinese nationals, albeit a little bit too late to stop the coronavirus from spreading in the country.
Leachon had told the media the only way to contain the virus was a lockdown of Metro Manila and its 12.8 million people. “If we will not avert the epidemic through a lockdown like in Italy, then our private and public hospitals will be swamped with patients and risk the lives of our health care professionals,” he said.
                 On March 12, Duterte ordered the lockdown of Metro Manila. Overnight, checkpoints were set up in every exit to and from the 16 cities and one municipality that comprise Metro Manila. The month-long lockdown was from March 15 to April 14. However, Leachon said, “It is likely this won’t go away in the next two or three months based on the China experience.” He warned that the outbreak would get worse before it gets better after a few months. “It’s unfortunate that the government did not accurately project the need for more test kits. But with lockdown and social distancing we will be able to contain the epidemic,” which is now a pandemic of global proportion.
The pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 17 doctors who died while in the frontline battling the highly infectious COVID-19 virus. The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) has been critical of the government on its handling of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. PMA Commission on Legislation chairman Dr. Oscar Tinio believes that the deaths could have been prevented if there was enough supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health workers.
Further, Tinio pointed out that many practicing doctors with various specialties want to help in the war against COVID-19. But they are hesitant because of the lack of protective gear, which would expose them to the virus while treating patients.
This is a wake up call. The number of frontline doctors and workers is dwindling. The doctors and workers are in dire need of PPE. Unless Duterte does something fast, he will be left with nobody to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients. (PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


Deaths and debts

March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- The world noticed that the countryside that is unaffected so much by the comforts of modern living has been free from the coronavirus. Proof of this is the absence of COVID-19 positive patients.
That makes these remote natural resorts perfect quarantine sanctuaries that have to be secured more, not for outsiders or the itinerant tourist but for the residents. Take the situation of Mtn. Province, Ifugao and municipalities in Kalinga.
On TV, an elderly woman claimed that the reason for not having the deadly virus in their communities in Mountain Province was due to “tengao”, an indigenous cultural practice.
It is an indigenous practice of a lockdown that prevented people from moving around the community, the farms and ricefields before planting season and after harvest.
Other places in the Cordillera practice their own rituals. In the Ibaloy areas of Southern Benguet, they practice the “diyaw” similar to the “tengao” in the north of the Cordillera.
Such practices have been in place since time immemorial and do not go against the protocols being enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. These old rituals reflect President Duterte’s order to quarantine ourselves. So there, we do not hear about COVID-19 deaths in these remote barrios.
As we write, President Duterte extended until May 15, 2020 the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in 13 areas nationwide, including Benguet which includes Baguio City, after IATF recommended a modified lockdown to be imposed in these areas.
I understand that what the IATF is saying is that lifting of any form of ECQ in low-risk areas after May 15 will depend on the number of COVID cases.
Under the same resolution, non-leisure stores in malls and shopping centers may partially open; public transportation may operate at a reduced capacity; colleges and universities may continue classes; priority and essential construction projects may resume; and airports and seaports may operate to allow the movement of goods.
However, what is more important from the view of lawmakers is the reprioritization of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) to the real beneficiaries unable to provide for their families due to the lockdown.
Last week, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced that it has given almost ₱200 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution to over 18 million low-income families during the ECQ.
The President assured the citizenry that the money is there while his financial managers said, financial institutions such as ADB and World Bank have approved loans to avoid bankruptcy. That means, additional debts that will be shouldered by generations to come.  
Under RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the SAP shall provide the 18 million households a monthly allowance of between ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 for up to two months.
The assistance already includes the 4.4 million “poorest of the poor” families who currently receive monthly allowances under the “4Ps” (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) of the DSWD.
It has been a month since the IATF talked about SAP, but millions of beneficiaries have yet to receive their financial assistance. Last week, Senator Ralph Recto estimated that only about 25 per cent or about 4.5 million of the 18 million family-beneficiaries received their share.
If so, then the LGUs concerned and the DSWD have to move faster to distribute 75 per cent of the fund to around 13 million more families. Sen. Recto stressed that distributing the SAP money faster will definitely be the solution to avoiding social unrest, and will also stop authorities from deploying the military in our streets.
The distribution of financial aid to the citizenry was slow so that it was overtaken by events. Instead of the special amelioration fund or SAF, what was distributed was another form of SAF which is the Special Action Force of the PNP.  
            With the number of deaths due to a killer called coronavirus, the world does not need more deaths caused by trigger-happy policemen. What was feared about the stricter enforcement of health protocols at police checkpoints during the enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic has just happened.
            Corporal Winston Ragos, an ex-army officer who was legally discharged from service because of a mental illness was shot dead by Quezon City Police MSgt. Daniel Florendo last Tuesday, April 21 at Barangay Putik.
The mother showed proof of medical records that her son has PTSD (post traumatic syndrome disease) after being assigned in Marawi, further showing drug prescriptions for mentally ill patients. Witnesses maintained that the ex-soldier was unarmed when he was shot twice.
            An unidentified witness claimed that Ragos only had a bag and not a gun, contrary to the official police account that says the victim was armed with a caliber .38 pistol.
QC police said the ex-army man threatened and shouted at the policemen at a checkpoint which provoked one of them to draw his firearm and confront him.
The same witness said people nearby told the policemen that Ragos was mentally disturbed and pleaded to them not to shoot him, but police reports that apparently supported Florendo said it was the latter’s judgment call. The family of Ragos who were shocked wished Florendo could have just aimed at Ragos’ legs.
Judging the unfortunate incident from CCTV footages, and considering the statements of witnesses, the intention to kill Ragos was there. The mentally challenged Ragos was alone while Florendo was with at least three police trainees.
Florendo was not satisfied with shooting Ragos once, so he shot  his target for a second time to kill him. There was no mindset to maim Ragos or make him incapable of attacking them.
When one of the policemen was informed about Ragos’ mental condition, the policeman replied, “huwag kayong makikialam, papatayin namin yan!”
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, and the District Internal Affairs Service of the Quezon City Police are ready to file criminal and administrative cases against Florendo after an investigation.
But that will not bring back the life of Ragos, and will not even clean the PNP ranks of misfits and incompetent law enforcers, unqualified to make good judgment calls that are supposed to protect the citizenry and not to put them at risk. For as long as there are many Florendos, this world will always see many Ragoses as victims.


Stricter rules set on entry to Sagada under GCQ

>> Monday, April 27, 2020

A member of the Police force here inspects the documents of an outgoing vegetable dealer at the Pegew checkpoint. 
By Gina Dizon  

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Mobility in this tourist town eases with the opening of transport as Mountain Province was classified under general community quarantine (GCQ) but rules on entry shall be made more stringent, Sagada Mayor James Pooten Jr. said in accordance to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act allowing local governments units to exercise their local autonomy.  
This, as the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF)-Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (MEID) shall soon meet to finalize the guidelines on  moderate to low-risk Covid areas being GCQ while the national capital region remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Sagada is entered from four road inlets: Dantay-Sagada road from the Bontoc-Baguio road, Sabangan-Sagada road via Madepdeppas-Taccong road, Sagada-Besao road and Balili-Suyo road from Bontoc-Baguio Road.
               The town has remained Covid free with no cases of probable or persons under investigation (PUIs) after nine PUIs completed their 14 - day quarantine period and all tested negative of Covid-19.
Sagada is under a Covid-prevention state with remaining seven possible cases or persons under monitoring (PUM) under home quarantine who shall be completing their 14-day quarantine this week.  
               Pooten in an interview is anxious of persons from nearby Covid-infected Baguio, Benguet, Abra, and Ilocos Sur who may wish to visit the town with the opening of transport services.
               As it is,Baguio has 28  Covid -infected cases,Benguet with 9 and Abra with three Covid-infected case.  
The Sagada Operators and Drivers Association (SODA) shall be holding their meeting and we look forward to what they say, Pooten said.   
This with updates that one from nearby Ifugao was recently infected with Covid 19.
              Temperature check, wearing of masks, and washing of hands are still mandatory at the checkpoint at the one entry point at Pegew where passes for health declaration, municipal, barangay and food are checked before entry. 
Passengers and drivers who attempt to enter the town are subjected to a 14- day quarantine at Pegew quarantine site where they come from Covid-infected areas. 
Decontamination of vehicles at Pegew checkpoint is still being done, Pooten said.
              Identification cards are required from authorized persons outside residence (APOR) from food delivery, health and emergency services, energy and communication services.
Sagada is one among the towns of Mountain Province that are Covid-free along with provinces of Apayao and Kalinga in the Cordillera.
Mountain Province is entered from five road entrances – Bontoc- Ifugao, Bontoc-Kalinga, Bontoc- Baguio, Tadian-Cervantes Ilocos Sur and Paracelis-Isabela.    
The declaration of ECQ in moderate to low Covid-risk areas in the country has come up with lessened restrictions from the Covid-high risk earlier enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) effective May 1,2020.
               Luzon was earlier put under ECQ.    
In a public announcement, recommendatory guidelines for areas under GCQ were announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque last week.
While this is so, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMC) Officer Edward Chumawar said Mountain Province is awaiting guidelines  from IATF-MEID and concerned department  agencies.  
From Roque’s announcement, GCQ means the general public may go out to buy basic necessities.
              People below 21 years old and those above 60 and those with ages ranging from 21 years but below 60 but who are health risks shall stay home.
Non-leisure stores in malls and shopping centers may partially open.
Non-workers can go out to buy essential goods and for services except those on leisure.
Public transportation is at reduced capacity in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the Dept. of Transportation.
Local government units shall enforce curfew at night to non-workers.
High school and higher education institutions this school year may continue classes to finish the academic year and issue credentials in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the Commission on Higher Education.
The opening of classes in September was recommended.
Priority and essential construction projects will be allowed to resume subject to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) guidelines.
                Guidelines for opening of work in GCQ areas by industry are a 100% in
agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food manufacturing, supply chain for ink/printing, and raw materials, restaurant, food retail, manufacturing, logistics, hospital, water, telecom, media, energy and internet.
GCQ allows 50-100% opening for other manufacturing on electronic, exports, e-commerce, delivery, repair and maintenance, housing and office services.
Work from home namely financial services, BPO, other non-leisure trade and services are opening at 50%.
Leisure, amusement, fitness, tourism, mass and religious gathering are totally restricted.
Meantime, the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) shall be reprioritized to ECQ areas.


Abra LGUs install decontamination tents to prevent Covid-19 spread

By Christian Allister G. Tubadeza

BANGUED, Abra  -- All municipal local government units were  directed to install their own decontamination chambers in  all point of entries and exits in their areas of responsibility following the third positive case of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the province.
Memorandum Order No. 124 of Gov. Maria Jocelyn Bernos also required all vehicles to pass decontamination chambers set up by LGUs prior to entering the municipality or barangays.
All public and private offices or establishments were ordered to set up foot baths for individuals before entering their premises.
Bernos said the disinfectant solution to be used must be in accordance with the recommended solution of the Department of Health.  
The installation of more disinfection chambers in the different entrances in the province is also made possible by Congressman Joseph Sto. NiƱo Bernos with the support of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Abra District Engineering Office and LGUs.
Theses approaches are precautionary measures against the further spread of Covid-19 in the province.
Meanwhile, Abra’s first Covid case, also the first in the Cordillera region, has been discharged   and now recovering. The second case who has already tested negative of the virus is still confined in a Level 3 hospital along with the third case. – PIA-  Abra


Ifugao hospital to get P1M calamity fund from PCSO

By Marcelo B. Lihgawon

LAMUT, Ifugao -- The Panopdopan District Hospital in this municipality is set to receive P1 million   calamity assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
In the memorandum of agreement between the provincial government represented by Gov. Jerry Dalipog and PCSO Vice Chairman and General Manager Royina Garma, the assistance will be used exclusively for procurement of testing kits, reagents, medical/diagnostic equipment, personal protective equipment, and medicines to be used for the management of COVID-19 cases. 
It will also cover the cost of laboratory/diagnostic procedures, and confinement of COVID-19 patients and shall not be used for administrative and logistical expenses such as seminars, food and other non-health requirements of facilities. 
The PDH is designated as the COVID-19 triage area of the Haggiyo Incident Command Center of the province.
 The PCSO donation  is   pursuant to Republic Act 11469 otherwise known as the "Bayanihan We Heal as One Act"  that  also enjoins government owned controlled corporations including the PCSO to help and earmark funds for the government’s COVID-19 measures. - PIA – Ifugao


2 nabbed for Cagayan village chief’s slay

By Raymund Catindig

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — Two municipal government employees in Calamaniugan town were arrested Thursday in connection with the killing of a barangay captain on Tuesday.
Police identified the suspects as Geronimo Joaquin, 39, and Carlo Aggabao, 27.
Eranio Caleda, chairman of Barangay Julian Olivas, was manning a quarantine checkpoint when he was shot.
He reportedly identified Joaquin as his assailant before he died.
Police records show Joaquin was also tagged in the killing of two other people last year and has a pending warrant of arrest for murder in Nueva Ecija.
Besides politics, probers are eyeing a row in the distribution of cash assistance under the social amelioration program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development as the motive for the killing.

Cagayan village chief  slain in shooting
By Raymund Catindig

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — A barangay captain in Calamaniugan town was shot dead on Tuesday.
Police said Eranio Caleda, 46, was installing a light bulb attached to a generator at a quarantine checkpoint when the shooting occurred at around 8:55 p.m.
Caleda died while being treated in a hospital.
Probers are eyeing a row in the distribution of cash assistance to residents affected by the enhanced community quarantine as the motive for the killing.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development is distributing P5,500 in cash assistance in Cagayan Valley, which is marred by complaints from those not included on the list.


DA marketing scheme boosts trade of Cordillera farmers

BENGUET farmers and traders sort vegetables for transport to lowland areas like Manila.  

BAGUIO CITY -- The implementation of the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not all bad news.
For instance, the current health crisis created a need for local farmers to sell highland produce to needful communities in Metro Manila and other urban areas.
               Due to difficulties of marketing and transporting vegetables from farm to consumers, the Cordillera Department of Agriculture Cordillera started good marketing initiatives for farmers even after the crisis.
The first market development initiative by the DA-CAR was for local government units (LGUs) to buy farm harvests as a component to their relief operations.
As a result, a growing number of LGUs and non-government organizations in Northern Luzon and Metro Manila responded to the call.
                Tons of vegetables from Benguet Province, Bauko, Mountain Province, and Tinoc, Ifugao were sold out of this initiative since March 17.
This effort is creating a positive and stronger farmer-consumer relationship that can create more market outlets for highland vegetables in the coming days according to participants.
The latest activity in enhancing farmer-buyer connections coordinated by DA-CAR was the purchase of 4.2 tons of assorted highland vegetables produced by farmers of Buguias and Mankayan, Benguet; Bauko, Mountain Province; and Tinoc, Ifugao by the local government of Binmaley, Pangasinan.
Municipal LGUs distributed these to their constituents as part of their relief operations.
Vegetables sold include cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, and others amounting to around P95,600.
The marketing linkage operations with LGUs are currently coordinated by the DA-CAR Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) through the “KADIWA Direct Connect” scheme.
Another scheme that is now strengthening the connection of local farmers with producers for the marketing and distribution of highland vegetables is the implementation and establishment of the KADIWA ni Ani at Kita outlets and rolling stores.
In Baguio City and other urban centers in the country, agri-fishery food products are brought to homes or are placed closer to them. This does not only save time, money, and effort for the household but helps participating farmer groups to identify and link with potential buyers.
Rita Alod, a farmer from Mankayan, expressed her gratitude to the efforts of DA in continuously aiding farmers in the production to marketing of their vegetables in this manner. “At last my cauliflowers had been sold. We now have high hopes to sow the next vegetable crops because of the assurance of new markets and better markets being coordinated by the DA through its market development initiatives. Under the current initiative, these market development and linkage activities allowed us to strengthen relationships with our LGUs and potential buyers of our products” said Alod.
Meanwhile, an agreement was conducted between DA-CAR, private philanthropic companies, and DA Central Luzon to support farmers by purchasing vegetables in exchange for rice.
According to kawyer Jennilyn Dawayan, Regional Technical Director  for Research and Regulations, the department coordinated the exchange of farmer produce between CAR and Region 3 when private philanthropic companies expressed their interest to help by purchasing highland vegetables given to DA Region 3 in exchange of lowland rice.
Highland vegetables produced by the Teking Manyedyed Farmers Organization (TMFO) in Bauko, Mountain Province were bought at P 50, 000 by the private companies for distribution as relief goods in region 3.
The same companies also bought 50 sacks of rice from Mexico, Pampanga that were then donated by philanthropic companies to Baguio and La Trinidad LGUs for their relief operations. -- Mac James Dacillo (DA CAR)


Baguio’s transition will be ‘baby steps:’ city mayor

By Liza Agoot  

BAGUIO CITY – Nine days before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted, the city government here is laying down plans for its transition back to the normal which Mayor Benjamin Magalong described as “baby steps”.
“It will be difficult for us to really open it up if we make a big leap but it's so difficult to make adjustments kaya kailangan baby steps yan, dahan-dahan (that is why we have to take baby steps, slowly),” Magalong said in an interview on Monday.
He said that while they are waiting for the national government to issue a post-April 30 directive, the city is planning for the transition from an ECQ to a localized community quarantine.
“We are just planning, we are anticipating kung saka- sakaling the national government would decide that some LGUs [local government units] or all LGU would go for the lifting of the ECQ. We are preparing for it. We are planning ahead so that we will be prepared," he said.
He said the first to resume is the construction industry.
“Definitely the construction (industry) would be the first, especially on government projects. Second, is private construction especially the critical projects like retaining walls, drainage systems, sewerage systems, those are important,” Magalong said.
Ang daming projects natin dito na kailangan ayusin, rainy season na so ang daming mga retaining walls na kailangan tapusin. Kahapon may dalawa ng bumagsak dahil sa heavy rain. May mga naapektuhan nang mga construction (We have several projects that need to be fixed, it is now the rainy season and there are retaining walls that need to be completed. Yesterday, there were already two projects that eroded because of the heavy rain. There are construction projects that are being affected),” he said.
He said that for the transport sector, it will be demand-driven.
“We have to ease up on transport but it depends on what would be the demand," he said.
When the construction industry opens, hardware, auto supply will also resume, Magalong said.
He also said the city will have its own strategic plan but the action plan on how to implement will cover certain periods or duration then make an assessment and either modify, amend, revise and then continue again with the process.
The city had earlier issued an extension of the suspension of classes in all levels in the city until May 31, which is basically the end of the school year and a semester in all schools that have adopted an August to May school calendar.
Among the changes felt in the past two days also include a stricter implementation of the ECQ and the 24 hours curfew as well as the cutting to two days of the market day schedule of villages from the previous three days a week. (PNA)


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