Beneco workers: Asec as GM ‘unacceptable’

>> Tuesday, August 31, 2021

NEA ignores House status quo order; picket held 

BAGUIO CITY -- Saying the selection process for general manager was rigged, employees of the Benguet Electric Coop. (Beneco) declared on Friday as persona non grata the National Electrification Administration’s Board of Administrators (NEA BOA) and lawyer Ana Marie Paz Rafael.
    Rafael is at present an Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
    The employees said the NEA BOA and Rafael are “unwelcome and unacceptable” in Beneco and vowed they will resist any attempt to install Rafael as GM in placeof Melchor Licoben, the current officer in charge general manager.
    The declaration came while representatives of the NEA delivered NEA BOA Resolution No. 2021-71 on Friday that named Rafael as the GM of the electric cooperative.
    The delivery created tension as employees barricaded with trucks and vehicles the two entrances of the Beneco headquarters here at South Drive as police kept watch.
    Employees said they were determined not to allow the NEA personnel to enter premises of the electric cooperative.
    The blockade was set up after employees were tipped that Rafael will accompany the service of the NEA BOA resolution and be installed right then and there as the GM.
    Rafael was nowhere in sight during the brief discussion that ensued following receiving of lawyer Esteban Somngi, Beneco board president, of the resolution naming Rafael as the GM.
    Employees swamped with placards of protest lawyer Xerxes Adzuara and Percival Crisostomo of NEA Institutional Development Department who were tasked by NEA to physically deliver the NEA BOA resolution. .
    Somngi told NEA personnel while the resolution was received, it does not mean that the board has acceded to Rafael sitting as GM.
    He said the board will still act on the NEA BOA resolution whether to accept or reject it in the board’s regular session on Sept. 2, 2021.
    Majority of the directors are expected to reiterate their rejection of Rafael as they did when they passed BOD Resolution No. 2021-71 that declared as illegal the NEA BOA’s resolution No. 2021-47 that failed to include Licoben in the endorsement sent to the board despite having passed all qualifications of the GM position and the final interview by the NEA BOA.
    Somngi, who received the NEA resolution near the guardhouse of the Beneco headquarters instead of the board room, said it will still be up to the board to decide the fate of Rafael , hinting that that the board directors already named Licoben as the GM in April, 2020 last year by a unanimous vote. 
    Next week’s board meeting is expected to divide anew the directors just like what happened when the board was confronted with NEA BOA Resolution No. 2021-47 that named Rafael as the only endorsee.
    Directors Jefferd Acop, Mike Maspil, Josephine Tuling, Robert Valentin, Fr. Jonathan Obar and Peter Busaing voted to reject Rafael while directors Rocky Aliping, Luke Gomeyac, Enrique Moresto and James Aclopen voted in favor of Rafael.
    The employees, led by Jefferd Monang, Beneco Employees Labor Union (BELU) president, and Jason Wayet, Beneco Supervisors Association (BSA) president, said the NEA BOA clearly violated the rules on the selection of GM.
    The union and the association have accused the NEA BOA of being biased and prejudiced in favor of Rafael despite her not having possessed the academic qualification for the GM position and the managerial experience of a distribution utility. 
    The employees displayed placards that denounced the NEA.
    “No to takeover” said one of the placards.
    The NEA BOA’s decision to serve the resolution to the Beneco board of directors disregarded the status quo order issued by the Committee on Energy of the House of Representatives that conducted an inquiry on August 18 on the possible overreach of the NEA on the selection of a GM for Beneco.
    The committee directed the NEA BOA not to issue any order or memorandum naming Rafael as GM while the committee is preparing its final report.   
    The NEA BOA also set aside the recommendation of its legal services office that the service of the resolution be deferred out of respect and courtesy to the decision of the legislative committee.
    Licoben said he was elated that no untoward incident happened when the NEA personnel arrived to serve the resolution.The NEA BOA got a beating from a congressional panel on Aug. 18 following the government agency’s failure to strictly observe rules on selection of a general manager for Beneco.
The House Committee on Energy, smarting from the evasive if not confusing answers of the BOA represented by Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza of the Department of Energy, directed the BOA to observe “status quo” until the committee finally issues its report.
The “status quo” order means that the BOA should not issue any order or resolution enforcing its earlier decision to name Rafael as the GM of Beneco or risk courting contempt proceedings.
Engr. Melchor Licoben, who sits as the OIC GM, has been named as GM by the Beneco Board of Directors in April last year but the NEA BOA endorsed Rafael instead, prompting employees to protest.
The House Committee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Juan Miguel Macapagal  Arroyo, called for the inquiry in aid of legislation to look into the possible overreach by the NEA as a state regulator over the operations of the country’s 121 electric cooperatives.
Partylist members of the so-called “power bloc,” Rep. Presley de Jesus (PHILRECA), Rep. Sergio Dago-oc (APEC), Rep. Adriano Ebcas (Ako Padayon) and Rep. Godofredo Guya (RECOBODA) urged the committee to call for the inquiry after the Beneco Labor Employees (BELU), Beneco Supervisors Association (BSA), department managers and the board of directors cried foul over the BOA’s move to endorse Rafael as the GM despite lacking the qualifications and managerial experience prescribed for GMs of electric cooperatives.
Central to the inquiry was how the BOA understood NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 that set the qualifications and process on the selection of GMs.
The memorandum states that the names of all GM applicants who passed the final interview must be submitted to the EC board of directors for the board to choose from.    
De Jesus grilled Juaneza on the qualifications of Rafael and on why the BOA endorsed only her as GM to the Beneco board.
 “The provision says the names of all those who passed the final interview shall be transmitted to the EC board,” de Jesus said.

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Cordillera posts over 2K active Covid cases

By Liza Agoot  

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Administrative Region has recorded 2,011 active cases of Covid-19 last week.
    According to the Dept. of Health- Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) Covid-19 tracker, Apayao Province topped the list with the most active cases at 587 placing it at critical risk.
    Baguio City with 576 and Benguet with 381 were in high-risk categories.
    The province of Kalinga has 196 active cases, Abra logged 156, Ifugao has 68, and Mountain Province with 47.
    The DOH data also showed that of the total active cases in the region, 938 are asymptomatic, 944 with mild symptoms, 101 moderate, 6 severe, 18 critical, and 4 for verification.
    For the past several weeks, Apayao has been recording high Covid-19 cases, especially with the continuous aggressive community testing (ACT) for 3,000 individuals followed up by an extensive contact tracing.
    Another round of ACT with 7,000 test kits is scheduled next week. Baguio also has started the three days ACT from August 19 to 21.
    In terms of Hospital Care Utilization Rate (HCUR), CAR is under moderate risk with an average utilization rate of 65.73 percent.
    Apayao’s bed utilization rate is 98.48 percent, Baguio is 82.92 percent, Benguet with 70.76 percent, Ifugao with 65.12 percent, Kalinga with 64.06 percent, Abra with 40.91 percent, and Mountain Province with 36.36 percent.
    In terms of mechanical ventilator utilization, Apayao is 100 percent; Baguio, 58.33 percent; Benguet, 45.45 percent; Abra, 100 percent; and Mountain Province, 36.36 percent.
    Ifugao province does not have a ventilator while Kalinga has one ventilator. The two provinces are adjacent to the provinces of Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela where tertiary hospitals can be found.
    Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, DOH-Cordillera assistant regional director and the agency’s spokesperson in the region, said HCUR only reflects the number of available and occupied beds for Covid-19 patients and not the full bed capacity of hospitals and infirmaries.
    She said under the Inter-Agency Taskforce guidelines, government hospitals must allocate at least 30 percent of their bed capacity while private health facilities must allocate at least 20 percent of their bed capacity for Covid-19 patients.
As of August 18, Cordillera has 43,905 patients who recovered from Covid-19 and 867 deaths. -- PNA 

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Miss Universe Phl 2021 candidate tests positive for Covid


GAPAN, Nueva Vizcaya — A candidate in the Miss Universe Philippines 2021 beauty pageant has tested positive for Covid.
Gianne Kryssee Asuncion, who represents the province of Cagayan, revealed in a post on social media last week that she contracted the virus, according to the Cagayan provincial information office.
    This, as Cagayan recorded 3,871 active infections, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 27, 104.
CPIO chief Rogie Sending said Asuncion’s post came after beauty pageant officials announced the top 50 candidates in the runway and video challenges on the same day.
    Asuncion is one of the candidates to be interviewed virtually by the judges of the Miss Universe Philippines for the selection of the final top 30, who will compete at the coronation night on Sept. 25.
    “I was speechless for days. With the discovery of being Covid-positive with pneumonia, I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what’s the next  thing that could happen,” Asuncion said.
    Asuncion, who is recovering in a hospital, said she is taking necessary precautions to recover from the disease.
    “But you see, this fear of the unknown can’t stop me. It might be hard, but all I know is I will heal. I will get better. Tuloy ang laban,” she said.

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6 OFWs who faked Covid- 19 tests still in Baguio jail

By Liza Agoot  

 BAGUIO CITY – Six persons who were discovered to have fake reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results when they attempted to enter the city are still in detention waiting to be bailed out by the manpower agency handling their foreign employment.
    Col. Glenn Lonogan, Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) director, on Wednesday said they cannot do anything but "file the criminal cases because they violated the law”.
    The six persons were found to possess fake RT-PCR test results during validation at the central triage located at the Baguio Convention Center compound when they arrived last August 7.
    They came to the city for an assessment at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that will issue them a National Certification which is required before their departure for foreign employment.
    “They came here because they need the assessment which they cannot get in Metro Manila that was then under strict community quarantine,” Lonogan said.
    Baguio at that time was implementing a strict protocol, allowing only authorized persons outside residence (APOR) with official documents and requiring a negative RT-PCR test result for travelers entering the city.
    Lonogan said the BCPO was told the six will be bailed out by the manpower agency as their foreign employment visas are already expiring and they already have schedules to fly for foreign employment. The bail was PHP34,000 each.
    From August 1 to 25, the BCPO has filed charges for falsification of public document under the Revised Penal Code against 14 individuals.
    Lonogan said six other laborers from Cavite who were sent here by their company on August 19 were also charged for the same violation. Their companies bailed them out.
    On August 21, a mother and child were also found to have fake RT-PCR test results at the triage. “Their document was obviously altered because the font used in writing their names was different from the whole document,” he said.
The BCPO had also refused entry to 377 individuals who did not possess the necessary documentation to enter the city. (PNA) 

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Ilocos warns delivery, cargo operators vs protocol breach


LAOAG CITY — The Ilocos Norte government Aug. 24 warned drivers and operators of delivery vehicles and cargo firms traveling to the province against violating the existing public health protocols that could spread COVID-19.
    At least 10 cargo personnel who entered the province since Aug. 1 have been apprehended at the provincial borders for breaching health protocols,
    Some of those who were apprehended were “undeclared” delivery personnel who were discovered hiding inside their vehicles and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, the provincial said in a statement.
    Before entering the province, all personnel of cargo and delivery workers are required to present negative results of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests to border personnel. They should also go through a health triage at the borders, the provincial government said.
    In an executive order, Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc said the operation of these delivery vehicles would remain unhampered even amid stricter quarantine curbs for as long as they adhere to health and border protocols.
In nearby Ilocos Sur province, strict border protocols are also imposed on cargo and delivery vehicles, including those delivering essential goods.
    Before being allowed to enter Ilocos Sur, they are also required to present a negative RT-PCR result taken within 72 hours prior to travel or an antigen test taken 24 hours upon entry.

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Cagayan posts 1,000 Covid cases – OCTA

By Red Mendoza

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- The province of Cagayan has logged in more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 for the first time since the pandemic began, eclipsing the 537 daily new cases reported in August 20, according to the independent OCTA Research.
    In its August 24 update for the province, it reported 1,066 new cases on August 23, pushing its seven-day average to 387 cases per day during August 17 to 23, or an increase of 42 percent from 273 average daily cases from August 10 to 16.
    The group also noted that the reproduction number in Tuguegarao City is also increasing to 1.79, while the r-naught for the entire province is at 1.67.
    The increasing reproduction number is a sign, according to OCTA, that the seven-day average will continue to increase.
    The province's average daily attack rate (ADAR) is now at 30.08 cases per 100,000 population, which is equivalent to a critical incidence rate, with the highest ADAR reported in Tuguegarao City at 73.34, followed by the towns of Ballesteros at 66.38, Baggao at 32.82, and Solana at 26.63.
    Tuguegarao also reported high hospital bed usage at 85 percent, followed by Ballesteros at 86 percent. Solana and Baggao's hospital utilization rates are unavailable.
    Among the provinces in the Cagayan Valley region, Cagayan's hospital utilization rate is at 84 percent, while its intensive care unit (ICU) utilization is at 86 percent, the highest in the region.
I    sabela also reported high hospital capacity and ICU utilization at 73 percent and 79 percent respectively, while Nueva Vizcaya had 61 percent hospital utilization and 81 percent ICU bed capacity.
    Batanes is the only province in the region currently under low risk, with its average daily attack rate at 0.79 cases per 100,000 population and virtually zero hospital utilization rate and ICU rate.

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Man kills brod for pacifying tiff with wife

LIDLIDDA, Ilocos Sur -- A man was arrested and is now in jail for allegedly killing his brother who tried to stop him from quarreling with his wife here on Sunday.
    Archie Eusebio, 30, died while being taken to the Candon City Hospital.
    Archie’s brother Raymund was detained at the Lidlidda police station.
    Police said the brothers were having a drinking session with their friends when the suspect left to accompany his wife to the river.
    When they returned home from the river, Raymund and his wife were reportedly quarreling.
    Raymund reportedly took out a bladed weapon, prompting Archie to prevent him from assaulting his wife.
    Furious, Raymund reportedly stabbed his brother in the chest.
    Doctors said the weapon pierced Archie’s heart.

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Abra NPA rebs, groups surrender to Abra cops

BANGUED, Abra-- Philippine National Police chief Gen, Guillermo Lorenzo administered oath of allegiance to National Coalition of Lingkod Bayan advocacy support groups and former New People’s Army guerillas here recently at Abra capitol.
    The ceremony was graced by Rep. Joseph Sto. Nino “JB” B. Bernos, Gov. Ma. Jocelyn “Joy” V Bernos, Nathaniel Lacambra,         DOLE regional director; SangguniangPanlalawigan members and local chief executive.
    The advocacy support groups are composed of different organizations such as force multipliers, women and LGBTQ, faith-based, Global PCR, Kaligkasan, Foreign National Keepers Network (FNKN), National Coalition of Information Technology Advocates for Change (NTCITAC), Barangay Based, Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office (JIPCO) and KabataanKontraDroga at Terrorismo (KKDAT).  
    The advocacy support group members were from Abra towns Bangued, Boliney, Bucay, Luba, Penarrubia, Pilar, San Quintin, Tayum, Tineg and Villaviciosa.
    Meanwhile, through the personnel series of negotiations and with the help of the community, 40 former rebels surrendered to authorities,
    Eleazar awarded certificate of livelihood entitlement to each of former rebels given by the Dept. of Labor and Employment amounting to P20,000.
    Police said advocacy support groups serve as partners of PNP in achieving achieve peace through their help and support in implementing government projects and programs like those against crime and insurgency.

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3 nabbed in Baguio for selling MJ to cops


BAGUIO CITY – Three men were arrested here last week for illegal possession of marijuana.
    Two persons were arrested for illegal drugs in a buy-bust operation here at Upper Camdas on August 22.
    Police named suspects as Jonathan ClaveriaDela Cruz, 23 and Marc DulaganDaplayan, 19, both residents of Middle Quirino Hill.
    The suspects were arrested after they sold to a lawman dried marijuana leaves worth P5,000.
    During their arrest, recovered from their possession were  two sachets containing suspected dried marijuana leaves valued at P1,500, buy-bust money and two cell phones used in the transaction.
Inventory of confiscated items were done on site in the presence of the suspect and witnessed by prosecutor Sigrid     Lacwasan Canawil, barangay kagawad Eduardo Cantala of Camdas, and Charles Nico Limon of RNG Luzon.
    The pieces of evidence were brought to Baguio City Crime Laboratory Office while a case for violation of Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 was prepared against arrested suspects.
    Meanwhile, a vendor was arrested by Naguilian Road Police Station cops after he was caught in possession of dried marijuana leaves at Queen of Peace on August 21.
    The suspect was identified as Robert SadinoOnarosa, 24  of Central Fairview.
    The suspect was arrested after he approached one of the personnel manning the lockdown area at the Queen of Peace to sell his power tools but when he is about to pull out said power tools from his sling bag, a transparent sachet containing suspected dried marijuana weighing three grams worth P1,000 fell on the ground.
    Another suspected rolled dried marijuana weighing worth P500 was recovered from his possession.
Inventory of confiscated items were done on site in the presence of the suspect and witnessed by prosecutor Sigrid     Lacwasan Canawil, punong barangay Raul Caronongan and Janice Denis of BomboRadyo. 
a case for illegqal drugs was prepared against Onarosa.
 

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Power rate hike due to generation cost

By Delmar O. Carino

BAGUIO CITY -- The changes in generation cost remains to be the driver for the increase or decrease of electricity bills issued monthly to member consumers.
    Melchor Licoben, Beneco’s OIC general manager, said the uptick in the generation charge on a monthly basis is legally allowed even without approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) compared to the other components of the electric bill.
    Beneco will charge its more than 140,000 consumers P9.4007 per kwh this August, up from P8.5989 per kwh in July. The increase was caused by the generation cost that had to be adjusted following the increase in the demand of electricity that pushed fuel cost up, coal in particular.
    Licoben said the generation sector is by law recognized as a deregulated sector of the power industry pursuant  to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). “This means that there is no need for ERC approval of the generation cost since it is governed by the contract between the power supplier and the distribution utility,” he said.
    The contract includes terms and variations based on foreign exchange rate and fuel costs whose price changes are indexed in a pre-agreed formula, Licoben said.
    Beneco, just like other ECs, will have to pass such cost and its adjustments to the consumers as the cost is deemed a “pass through” charge, or one that Beneco as a distribution utility, will have to collect as a collecting agent for the power supplier.
    The change in fuel cost adversely affected Beneco’s power supply pact with Team Energy that runs the coal fired power plant in Sual, Pangasinan where Beneco’s power supply comes from.
    The Beneco and Team contract provides that the generation cost from Jan. to June will be P3.85 per kwh and from July to Dec., P3.80 per kwh.
    The increased demand for power pushed coal prices high this year, thus breaching the coal bandwith between Beneco and Team.
    “The generation cost will then be rebased, meaning the formula for its computation will be adjusted to absorb the index prices,” Licoben said, adding that the generation cost eats up more than 50% of the power bill.
    The distribution, supply and metering (DSM) charges, and the reinvestment fund for sustainable capital expenditure (RFSC) in the bill, however, have remained at the average of P.099 and P.2178 per kwh, respectively.
    The RFSC and DSM are Beneco’s “pass on” charges to the consumers or the charges that it collects and retains for its  operations and capital outlays.
    Licoben said that compared to the generation charge, the RFSC and DMS charges cannot be changed at the will of the electric cooperative since the distribution sector is a regulated sector of the power industry where any change is such bill components must be approved by the ERC.
    “The volatility of global coal prices will definitely affect the generation charge of distribution utilities. Our power supply agreement with Team was very attractive as it gave Beneco the lowest power cost for the last three years,” Licoben said.
However, Licoben said that the revival of economic activities following the pandemic this year caused a surge in electricity demand that effectively pushed coal prices upward.
Team was compelled to ask Beneco’s consumers to shoulder the increase in generation cost, he said.

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Magalong: No sugar- coating in Baguio Covid-19 reporting

BAGUIO CITY — Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the local government is providing factual information regarding the Covid situation in the city.
    Magalong said no “sugar-coating” was done as truthfulness is vital in informing residents about the situation, especially since it concerns public health.
    “We don’t lie to you. The worst thing that a local chief executive can do is to lie to his constituents and tell them that the situation is OK when it is not,” Magalong said.
    He said people deserve to know the truth and telling them the true situation would make them more conscious of their health and do something to protect themselves.
    Magalong clarified that there was never an intention to sow fear.
    “Just the facts straight up, no alterations so nobody gets misled,” he said.
    As this developed, Magalong issued Executive Order 89, prohibiting minors from going out of their homes.
    The age-based home restriction will be in effect beginning today until Aug. 29.
    The restriction came after the city recorded 164 confirmed COVID cases involving minors from Aug. 1 to 20.
    Minors are exempted from the restriction when going to recreational or leisure activities in areas where ventilation is good.
    They are also allowed to go out if they need to attend to important matters that require physical appearance such as medical appointments and emergencies.
 
 
 
 
 

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Baguio to vaccinate 95% folks as city observes charter day

BAGUIO CITY -- The city is targeting to vaccinate at least 95 percent of the eligible population to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country's summer capital as local folks are set to welcome Baguio's 112th Charter Day anniversary on Sept. 1.
Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was earlier tapped as the city's guest of honor and speaker in simple rites at Baguio Country Club. 
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong said from the previous target of inoculating 141,000 residents which represents at least 70 percent of the city's eligible population, the target population to be vaccinated increased to 281,000 individuals before the year ends.
    Magalong added the city's new target population to be vaccinated is part of the ongoing efforts of the local government to deal with the emerging threat of the Delta variant following two reported Delta variant cases in the city confirmed by the Philippine Genome Center.
    At present, the city has provided over 214,000 doses of vaccines. Reports said there are already more than 89,000 city residents who are fully vaccinated and more than 125,000 individuals have received their first dose.
    The local chief executive claimed the local government will have more than enough vaccines to inoculate the eligible population because of the expected delivery of bulk of the city procured vaccines in the coming months.
    The city was able to purchase more than 380,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the manufacturer but only 10,900 doses were delivered last month while another 17,900 doses are expected to arrive in the city this month.
    Magalong explained the delivery of the purchased vaccines has been affected on the supply side aside from the fact that bulk of the vaccines that have arrived form part of the ones purchased by the private sector.
Based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the population of the city as of the 2020 census is more than 366,000.
Moreover, the eligible population that could be provided with the available vaccines is more than 296,000 after removing the 19 percent of the total population aged 12 to 17 years old.
The mayor stipulated the more than 281,000 individuals that should be vaccinated was computed based on the number of eligible populations that should be vaccinated pursuant to the inoculation guidelines crafted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
He emphasized the local government might be able to vaccinate the individuals aged 12 to 17 years old by the end of the year after the city vaccinates a significant portion of the targeted eligible population to be able to achieve herd immunity and contain the rapid spread of the deadly virus.
The city has been able to inoculate at least 3,000 individuals daily based on the availability of the vaccines provided by concerned government agencies.
The city, in coordination with the Baguio Tourism Council, is slated to vaccinate some 4,000 workers from various tourism-related establishments from August 30 to September 1 as part of the local government's aggressive roll out of the government's mass vaccination program.
The inoculation of workers in tourism-related establishments is part of the commitment of the local government to have workers in the economic sector vaccinated with the arrival of vaccines purchased by both the national and local governments from pharmaceutical companies.
Earlier, the local tourism industry stakeholders disclosed only 454 or 8.3 percent of the registered 5,458 workers in different tourism-related establishments had been vaccinated since the roll out of the government's mass vaccination program last March.
Magalong tasked the City Health Services Office and the City Tourism Office to coordinate with the management of the Baguio Country Club (BCC) for the proposed adjustment in the schedule of inoculation of workers in tourism-related establishments so it will coincide with the presence of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
The supposed inoculation of the workers in the tourism-related establishments in the city was earlier scheduled on August 29 to 31 at the Cordillera Convention Hall of BCC but was adjusted to allow Secretary Romulo Puyat to witness the aforesaid activity which is geared towards helping gradually and safely revive the local economy.

 

 

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Culture, dev’t seminar benefits Bontoc workers

By Alpine L. Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Officials and employees of the Bontoc local government attended a seminar-workshop on organizational development and culture change here August 25-27, at the Sibley Shaw Parish Hall, All Saints Mission compound.
    The activity initiated by the Bontoc LGU through its human resource management office aimed to develop self-awareness and self-empowerment, and promote the right attitude towards work among officials and employees of the municipal government.
    Mayor Franklin Odsey in his message said he approved the activity recognizing the need for continuous learning among the workforce of the Bontoc LGU in the promotion of high standards of ethics in public service.
    Odsey who rose from the ranks in government service before entering politics mentioned that the capability building activity helps personnel respond to changes in the organization, gives them the ability to adapt to changes resulting from the increased diversity in the workforce, facilitates career advancement, and helps them  meet the need for continual work growth.
    “The needs of employees should also be given special attention. By continuing to provide the workforce with new skills and learning, they will not just become better workers; they will become more productive members of the agency or the organization. This will improve their morale as well as their workplace capabilities,” the mayor added.
    Tourism Operations Officer II Tyronne Glenn Lawey from the Provincial Government of Mountain Province was tapped as the resource speaker during the three-day activity. Apart from his lectures, he introduced several group activities that encourage participants to work and help each other to accomplish a task; build camaraderie among members; foster trust and good relationships; express views and share diverse views; promote creativity, teamwork, collaboration and time management; and improve communication skills.
    Human Resource Management Officer Arleen Eickmee GasmeƱa remarked that the Bontoc LGU has embarked on capacity development interventions to help employees recognize and realize their potentials in the workplace. 
    Likewise, she expressed happiness on the positive response from the participants. She relayed that in the evaluation forms, the participants clamoured for other seminar- workshops or training such as what has been conducted. The participants were all praises to the speaker for making the activity fun, informative, and participatory.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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P13-M banana project set for700 Kalinga farmers

By Liza Agoot

BAGUIO CITY – More than 700 small banana farmers in Kalinga province are expected to further boost their income with the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) that assures buyers of their produce at a better price.
    Ivy Taquio Estacio, of the DA-PRDP Cordillera coordination office Information Advocacy, Communication, and Education (InfoACE) Unit, on Monday said a total of 735 members of the Daram-Cudal Multipurpose Cooperative (DCMPC) in Kalinga will benefit from the project.
    She said the DCMPC will buy the farmer-members produce and transport these to the market or process the fresh produce as ketchup or chips.
    Taquio said the PHP13.2-million DA-PRDP enterprise project which was turned over to DCMPC last August 16, was among the government's initiatives to support small farmers and increase their income.
    She said the project has several components which include the PHP4.7-million banana consolidation and trading center; the PHP555,000 trading capital to buy the farmers' produce; and a truck to transport the produce.
    The cooperative also received other goods and materials such as crates, wash bins, plastic palettes, and fabricated dryers.
    "They will be encouraged to expand their banana production area because there is a sure buyer ensuring income for them.     They will also be assured of patronage refund as cooperative members." Estacio said in Ilocano.
    She said the cooperative started processing banana chips in 2019, selling these in schools and transport terminals. The cooperative is also eyeing Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan as markets of raw cardaba bananas.
    Kalinga Governor Ferdinand Tubban said the turnover of the enterprise marks another milestone of partnership between the DA-PRDP, and the Kalinga local government in pursuit of agricultural development.
    “The PLGU (Province of Kalinga local government unit) implemented and completed four farm-to-market road subprojects and three enterprise subprojects under the DA-PRDP in support to the coffee, heirloom rice, and banana industries, and the impact of these projects are now being felt by the communities (who) benefited by the projects,” Tubban said.
    Estacio relayed DA-PRDP National Project Director Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan's statement during the turnover that Kalinga has received four farm-to-market roads spread in different years worth P885 million.
    Several infrastructure projects worth PHP172 million are still in the pipeline. Cayanan said the significance of attaining food security is making food available, accessible to the market, and at stable prices.
    Through the enterprise subproject, he said the banana farmer-members of the cooperative will be able to avail of technical services, post-harvest facilities, tools, and equipment to address the high cost of hauling and handling bananas and other related problems.
    Also, the price for banana produce will be regulated which will eventually lead to an increase in profitability for farmers. -- PNA
 

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Baguio restricts visitors, studes, reviewees, folks

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- With rising Covid-19 cases, especially the highly transmissible Delta variant, additional restrictions were issued for students or those enrolled in educational, instructional, training institution with permitted face-to-face classes here.
    The controls were issued after a meeting and in agreement with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
    Executive assistant lawyer Althea Alberto represented Mayor Benjamin Magalong in the meeting done earlier.
    This was also reported during the management committee meeting earlier with the executives present.
     It was agreed there will be temporary suspension of face-to-face classes, except for third and fourth year students and only those with laboratory work, clinic/hospital duty and internship.
    There is a need for face-to-face interaction and practical learnings and instructions in said cases, it was clarified.     
     According to Alberto, minimum public health standards (MPHS) such as the use of face mask, shield, personal protective equipment (PPE) in medical cases, the regular hand sanitation, and social distancing should be practiced within the campus.
Said MPHS applies to personnel, faculty, security, students, visitors and other workers to ensure everyone’s protection and safety.
     Contact training, isolation, quarantine and reporting also apply within the campus, with designated officials to undertake said health protocols    
     Alberto added education or training sites shall be inspected by the City Health Services Office personnel for air change per hour (ACH), as to ventilation and air circulation.
    This is to ensure no transmission happens due to poor air circulation, which increases the probability of Covid-19 transmission.
     Wearing of double masks shall also be ordered as said practice deters virus transmission.
     Unvaccinated HEI and CHED personnel shall also be included in immunization activities after a survey.
    There is a need to facilitate said activity as, if plans push through, second semester is set to open in October, it was known.               
    As to board examinations conducted in the city, a schedule was requested from the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) for the monitoring of examinees coming in for said activity.
    Examinees and personnel involved in all activities need to observe strict MPHS under PRC memorandum 86, 2020; for observation during the conduct of Licensure Examination during the pandemic.
     Only medical and allied courses are allowed to conduct face-to-face activities, it was known. Reviewees are instructed to wear double masks, not to loiter around and go home directly after the board exams.
     Meanwhile, review centers need to adhere to MPHS and are included in the Safety Seal Team Inspection conducted by a composite team headed by the Permits and Licensing Division (PLD). Inspection and monitoring is done regularly, even during night time and weekends.
     Students and reviewees need to follow entry requirements to the city, registration with hdf.baguio.gov.ph present vaccination card; or present negative result of RT-PCR or saliva test. Travelers are considered completely vaccinated 14 days after the second dose, or 14 days after the one-dose J and J vaccine.        
 As of date, only essential travel, including that for educational purposes is allowed, and travel for leisure is still suspended.

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Pangasinan: 2 new Delta cases; mayor, councilor infected

By Eva Visperas and Hilda Austria

MALASIQUE, Pangasinan -- The mayor of Malasiqui here has tested positive for Covid-19.
In a post on Facebook, Mayor Noel Anthony Geslani said he and one of his children contracted the virus.
He said he is asymptomatic while his child developed symptoms.
    Geslani said the municipal building was closed for disinfection last week.
    Dagupan City Councilor Librada Reyna said she also contracted the virus and is confined in a hospital.
    This, as the Dept. of Health Center for Health and Development in Ilocos Region confirmed Pangasinan recorded two new Delta variant Covid-19 cases. 
    DOH-CHD-1 Covid-19 focal person Dr. Rheuel Bobis said one of the two new Delta variant cases is a returning overseas Filipino worker, while the profile of the other new case is still being confirmed.
    “We are still investigating if it is local or not. We are not yet sure,” he said in an interview. 
    Bobis said the new cases are from central Pangasinan but did not disclose their respective localities. 
    He added there are now 16 Delta variant Covid-19 cases in the entire Ilocos Region.
    Of the total cases, 13 are in Ilocos Norte while three are in Pangasinan, including the two new cases, he added.
    Bobis said the contact tracing in the Delta variant, as well as in other new variants of Covid-19, is up to the third generation of exposure to the confirmed positive case.
    The contact tracing covers those who were exposed to the direct close contacts of the confirmed Delta variant patient, he said.
    “If you think you have been exposed to a close contact of a Delta variant positive, we advise that you also isolate yourself and observe for signs and symptoms,” Bobis urged the public.
    He said the best way to combat the new variants is still the strict observance of minimum public health standards, such as wearing of face masks and face shields, and availing of the vaccination.
    Bobis said the province remained under alert level 3 as of 3 p.m. Tuesday amid the increased number of Delta variant cases. – With a PNA report

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Dad pushes special education council

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- Councilor Vladimir Cayabas, in a resolution, urged the Dept. of Education-Cordillera Administrative Region to organize its Special Education (SPED) Council to be composed of focal persons in public schools in the city.
    Cayabas said the creation of a SPED council will strengthen SPED programs for basic education in the city.
    He added the SPED council may assist DepEd division officials and focal offices in monitoring SPED-related programs in the city, provide help in regular evaluation or assessment to determine effectiveness of these programs and propose measures for efficient implementation.
    DepEd’s Department Order No. 26, Series of 1997 mandates the institutionalization of SPED programs in all schools in the country to be able to “provide access to basic education among children with special needs, namely, the gifted/talented, the mentally retarded, the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the orthopedically handicapped, the learning disabled, the speech defectives, the children with behavior problems, the autistic children and those with health problems through the formal system and other alternative delivery services in education.”
    Cayabas stated SPED involves preparation of teaching procedures, materials, and other interventions designed to address the needs of learners with learning differences, disabilities, and giftedness.\
    He added the objectives of SPED include the development, empowerment, and maximization of learning competencies as well as the inculcation of right values to learners with special needs while equipping them and nurturing their potentials to prepare them in becoming productive members of the society.
    Citing Art.23, Paragraph I of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), the councilor underscored it is the policy of the state to “provide priority for the needs of the underprivileged sick, elderly, disabled, women and children” and that the state “recognizes the disabled children’s right to special care, education and training to help them enjoy full and decent lives in dignity and achieve the greatest degree of self-reliance and social integration.”
    The Philippines signed the UN CRC on January 26, 1990. It was ratified by the Philippine Senate on August 21, 1990.

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Synched vehicle number coding schemes pushed

Baguio, La Trinidad routes 

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- The City Council here approved August 16 a resolution requesting the La Trinidad, Benguet municipal government, to cooperate with the city government of Baguio for synchronization of number coding schemes of the two local government units.
    Councilor Benny Bomogao, chairperson of the Sanggunian’s committee on public utilities, transportation, and traffic legislation, said both local government units have their own ordinances prescribing number coding scheme for motor vehicles.
    He said both coding schemes need to be in sync to avoid causing confusion to public transportation drivers, riding public, and traffic enforcers.
    The synchronization will greatly benefit the riding residents of both Baguio City and La Trinidad, he added.
    The councilor said most residents of these two adjacent localities crossing the Baguio-La Trinidad border rely significantly on the existing inter-municipal public utility vehicles for their transportation.
    Last April 10, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong issued executive order No. 51, series of 2021 prescribing  revised general guidelines for Baguio while it is under general vommunity quarantine (GCQ).
    Pursuant to section 4 of the said EO, the Baguio traffic management working group issued a temporary transportation scheme for the city, effective August 1, 2021 until December 2021 unless shortened due to changes in the quarantine classification.
    The said advisory provides that the number coding scheme for the taxi service can be changed to adjust to the current quarantine classification in consultation with stakeholders.
    Earlier, the municipal government implemented a modified coding scheme for Baguio-based taxis plying the municipality.
    However, the modified coding scheme ended last July 31.
    According to a newspaper article, Municipal Mayor Romeo Salda said the local government will be implementing its own number coding scheme pursuant to an approved ordinance to “help in sustaining the gains of effective and efficient traffic management in the locality.”

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Council ok’s amnestry to stop lease violations at Baguio market

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- The city council has approved on third and final reading an ordinance granting an amnesty program that seeks to put an end to various lease violations in the market stalls or booths that are managed by the city government.
    Citing the results of investigations conducted by the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) and the results of the verification done by the City Treasury Office-Market Division, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda stated that numerous occupants of the market stalls are renting or leasing from the registered leaseholders while some are occupying the stalls due to the death of the leaseholders or by virtue of transfer by sale, mortgage, or waiver.
    Such acts are in violation of the city’s Market Code under Tax Ordinance No. 2000-01.
    Sections 157 and 160 of the tax ordinance categorically state that the leaseholders shall physically or personally conduct business in the stall subject of the lease. Section 157 further stipulates that the leaseholder shall not sell, lease, or transfer to other individuals nor permit others to conduct business therein. Section 161 likewise prohibits the sub-leasing of stalls and the use of dummies.
    According to the ordinance, any of these violations shall be sufficient for the cancellation of the contract of lease with the city.
    Under the ordinance, an amnesty program for a period of three months shall be granted to concerned stall occupants and/or actual leaseholders to rectify or act on their violations. After the said period, all arising violations shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the city’s existing tax ordinance.
    For the transfer of leasehold rights, the transferee, upon presenting a Deed of Sale, Waiver of Rights, or acknowledgment by the registered leaseholder of the transfer, shall be issued a Contract of Lease, provided that the transferee is personally or physically conducting business in the stall/booth.
    For a stall whose registered leaseholder is already deceased, the compulsory heirs of the deceased person must execute an Extra-Judicial Settlement or Waiver of Rights designating a person (who may not necessarily be a compulsory heir) to be the next registered leaseholder.
    For a leaseholder who is sub-leasing or mortgaging their stall or using a dummy, they must terminate this relationship. The leaseholder, with the consent of the other party, may regain occupancy of the stall. Should both parties fail to agree, the Contract of Lease shall be revoked or cancelled, and the stall shall be declared vacant.
    The Baguio City Market Authority (BCMA) shall conduct a preliminary review of the affidavit and supporting documents of the actual occupant and issue a Notice of Violation to the registered leaseholder, giving the latter 15 days to contest the allegations and evidence of the occupant. The BCMA shall then conduct a full investigation to be completed in not more than 30 days.
    Whoever the BCMA decides in favor of, whether the leaseholder or the occupant, the right over the stall shall be granted to them. Any person who is not satisfied with the BCMA’s adjudication of stalls may file an appeal before the city council within 30 days from the date of the issuance of notice of adjudication as provided for in Section 162 of the Tax Ordinance.
    The ordinance shall also prescribe the requirements for an actual occupant and the rental rates of a sold/mortgaged stall or a previously sub-leased stall.
    A public consultation was held on June 16, 2021 in which the provisions of the ordinance were presented to the market vendors, concerned government offices, and the general public for recommendations.
    The amnesty program shall be applicable in the Baguio City Public Market, city-owned satellite markets, and the Slaughterhouse. The council stressed that the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the ordinance shall be crafted by the City Mayor’s Office.
    In the final version of the ordinance, Tabanda added a provision indicating that Section 160 of the Tax Ordinance No. 2000-01 which states that the registered leaseholder shall occupy, administer, and be present personally at their stall/booth, but they may employ helpers including but not limited to their spouse, parents, and children living with them. The persons to be employed as helpers shall, under no circumstances, be persons with whom the leaseholder has any commercial relation or transaction.
    During the council’s regular session on July 27, 2021, Mayor Benjamin Magalong told the legislative body that he supports the passage of the said ordinance.
    The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the ordinance shall be prepared by the City Mayor’s Office.

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