Palace: Face shields not required in Alert Level 3, lower areas

>> Friday, November 26, 2021


FACE SHIELDS are no longer required in areas under Alert Level 3 and lower, which includes Metro Manila.
    President Rodrigo Duterte has approved stopping mandatory use of face shields in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3, according to a memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to the government’s pandemic task force.
    The memorandum was issued on Monday, which was also confirmed by Medialdea to the media.
    Metro Manila is currently under Alert Level 2 until Nov. 30. However, face shields will remain mandatory in community settings for areas under Alert Level 5 — the highest classification in the government’s five-tier alert level system — and in areas placed under granular lockdowns.
    For areas under Alert Level 4, local government units and private establishments have the discretion whether to still require the use of face shields or not.
    In Baguio City, Mayor Benjamin Magalong has opted to follow procedures in easing up the face shield requirement.
    The mayor said he will not toe the line of other local government unit heads who revoked the face shield requirement on their own without waiting for the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
     “For us, we will wait for response on our appeals to the IATF-EID to limit the face shield requirement to Covid-19 critical areas and to the city council to amend our ordinance on its mandatory use because those are the proper procedures,” the mayor said.
     He said the city has an ordinance on use of face shields. In his requests to the IATF and the city council, the mayor said the city can now consider relaxing the face shield use requirement after attaining 71.18 percent full vaccination accomplishment in adult target population which can still go as high as 90 percent by year end.
    In a letter dated Nov. 8, 2021 to Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, the mayor said the city can now consider relaxing the face shield use requirement after attaining 71.18 percent full vaccination accomplishment in adult target population which can still go as high as 90 percent by year end.
     The face shield requirement is incorporated in Ordinance No. 49 series of 2021, which amended Ordinance No. 45-2020 or the Face Mask Ordinance of Baguio City.
     The measure declares it “unlawful” for all persons, including tourists and outsiders, to go to public places, buildings, national roads or highway, sidewalks, walkways, or public conveyances or other similar establishments without wearing face mask and face shield until the threat of the COVID-19 is completely eliminated in the country.
     The ordinance also prohibits transacting business with any person not wearing a face mask and a face shield in the public markets, supermarkets, groceries, malls, shopping centers, and government offices.
    Violators face penalties of fines ranging from P500 to P2,000 and cancellation of business permit if applicable.




Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – People this jaded newsman asks about who they would vote for President come May 2022 are often mum on the matter – even friends except for a few like lawyer-singer Bubut Olarte who is openly batting for Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
    Bubut even had his water tank beside a road here painted with pink, the rallying color of Leni supporters.
    Palanca awardee journalist-writer Frank Cimatu is also a Leni supporter including Benguet Electric Coop. advocate Mia     Magdalena among friends and acquaintances. Did both talk about the matter earlier at Luisa’s?
    A motorcade for Leni was held in this summer capital recently but while passing Session Road, somebody on the sidewalk shouted “BBM latta” while uttering expletives.
    Political analysts say there are die-hard supporters of former Sen. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. everywhere, despite all the negative news about their father’s reign.  
    Call it regionalism but social media posts from Northern Luzon are giving the jitters among presidential candidates.    
    Those running for the country's top office are presidential aspirants Ernesto Abella, Robredo, Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso and Marcos Jr.
    Among all of the above, it is Marcos who seems to be the most controversial nowadays after a disqualification case was filed against him for not paying taxes.
Related to the case, a division of the Commission on Elections granted Marcos Jr.'s petition for an extension on the filing of his response to the disqualification case against him.
    Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the 2nd Division gave Marcos five days to reply but said "since the fifth day falls on a Sunday, the last day is actually Nov. 22.
    Prior to Jimenez's confirmation, lawyer Theodore Te, counsel for petitioners, and Marcos spokesman Victor Rodriguez had known that an extension had been granted.
    Comelec records showed Marcos' motion for an extension was granted by the Second Division on Nov. 18 and signed by Presiding Commissioner Socorro Inteng.
    In the same order, the Second Division also said on Nov. 17, petitioners also filed an opposition motion not to grant Marcos' motion for extension, that the respondent be barred from submitting controverting evidence and that the respondent be barred from submitting his memorandum.
    But the Second Division set aside the petitioners' opposition motion, saying "justification was found in the motion for extension to file an answer."
    "In view of the foregoing, for cause shown and in the interest of justice, the Commission (Second Division), hereby grants the motion for extension to file answer and notes the notice of appearance on 15 November 2021 filed by respondent. Consequently, the respondent is required to submit a verified answer on or before Nov. 22, 2021," according to the Second Division.
Following political acrobatics on substitutions in the Comelec and legalities, President Rodrigo Duterte accused a presidential candidate of using cocaine.
    Although he did not name the personality, the President talked about what he called a weak leader who appeared to be banking on the name of the father.
    "There's even a presidential candidate na nag-cocaine... May kandidato tayo na nagko-cocaine 'yan, mga anak ng mayaman (children of the rich)," Duterte was quoted as saying in his speech during a meeting of the joint national and regional task force to end local communist armed conflict in Mindoro.
    "Kaya nga nagtaka ako, anong nagawa, anong gawa ng taong 'yan? I'm just asking. What contribution has he made para sa Pilipinas? Bakit ang Pilipino parang lokong-loko na supporting? Magtanong lang ako sa inyo, ano ang ginawa n'yan? Nagdo-droga 'yan ng cocaine ang tirada n'yan (I am puzzled, what has that person done? What contribution has he made for the Philippines? Why are Filipinos fooled into supporting? I will just ask you, what has he done? He uses cocaine)," he added.
Duterte said his remark is "not really a warning" but he questioned the qualifications of the unnamed presidential aspirant.
    "Bahala kayo kung anong gusto n'yong tao. Inyo 'yan. Ang akin lang, pagdating ng panahon, basta sinabi ko sa inyo and he is a very weak leader ang character niya—except for the name (What you want is up to you. That is on you. When time comes, I already told you, and he is a very weak leader, his character, except for the name)," the President said.
    "Ang tatay—pero siya, anong ginawa niya (His father, but him, what has he done)? He might win hands down, okay. If that is what the Philippines wants, go ahead, basta alam ninyo," he added.


Duterte pivots back to America


Perry Diaz

“ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL" is a proverb that dates back to 1250.  It is also the name of a play by William Shakespeare in 1601-1605.  It means that a positive ending can overshadow any problems that may have preceded it.   
    A case in point is the US-Philippines relationship since Rodrigo Duterte took over the presidency in 2016.  Duterte was a left-leaning politician who was mayor of Davao City for more than two decades.  
    When he was elected president in 2016, he showed his anti-American bias from the moment he took office.  He pivoted the Philippines’ foreign policy away from Washington DC and toward Beijing.  It was a change that affected the Philippines’ security and territorial sovereignty; e.g., when China sent some 220 ships from China’s maritime militia to Whitsun Reef in the Spratlys and stayed there for several weeks.  
    It was apparent that China was planning on seizing the reef like what it did in 1994 when it seized the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.  China knew then that the U.S. wouldn’t interfere after the Philippines kicked the American bases out in 1992 when the Senate voted not to renew the U.S. bases agreement.  
    This time around, the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group that prompted China to disperse its ships away from Whitsun Reef. 
Duterte’s separation from U.S.
When Duterte went to China on a four-day state visit in October 2016, Duterte talked to the Chinese and Filipino business people at a forum in the Great Hall of the People.  The forum was attended by no less than Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.  “America has lost now,” Duterte began, “I have realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world -- China, Philippines and Russia. It is the only way."  Whoa!  What the heck happened?  Has Duterte gone loco-loco?
    In his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping afterwards, Xi was conciliatory and called the visit a milestone in ties.  Xi told Duterte that China and the Philippines were brothers and they could “appropriately handle disputes,” without mentioning the South China Sea, which is in the center of a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines.  
    However, privately, the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.  But for that day, it was a cause for celebration between Asian “brothers.”
    Duterte went home and boasted of securing $24 billion in investment, credit and loan pledges from China to fund his “Build, Build, Build” projects.  In return, Duterte promised Xi that the Philippines would “give up” its South China Sea claims and also abandon its previous position on The Hague’s tribunal verdict that rejected China’s “nine-dash line” territorial claims.
    To date, few of these have materialized into actual projects.  Only two out of nine infrastructure projects have been funded for a measly P16.57 billion or $331 million, which makes one wonder:  Would China ever deliver the rest of its pledges?
    But here’s the rub: When Duterte announced that he was separating from America, he said he would also be dependent on China for a long time.  Can Duterte really trust that Xi would treat the Philippines like how the US treated the Philippines in the last century? 
    “I will not go to America anymore. We will just be insulted there,” Duterte said. “So time to say goodbye my friend,” Duterte told a cheering crowd. That was five years ago.
    Today, Duterte is pivoting the Philippines back to its longtime ally the U.S.  Years of “dancing” with the dragon emperor had produced only $331 million out of $24 billion pledged.  With just six years and seven months left of his presidency, Duterte realizes that the promises that Xi Jinping made are not going to happen.  He decided to end his China-friendly policy and veer back to good old reliable Uncle Sam. 
    Duterte thought that he could play China against the U.S. but ended up being played by China.  Like a jilted suitor, Duterte turned around and went scurrying back to Uncle Sam.  Needless to say, Uncle Sam will always welcome the Philippines back under its protective nuclear umbrella.   
Defense agreements with U.S.
The Philippines and the U.S. have three defense agreements: the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).  But the VFA is the linchpin of their military alliance.  The VFA makes it easier for US forces to move in and out the country, while the EDCA allows U.S. forces to move in and out on five Philippine bases fairly quickly.  They therefore provide the Philippines with the means to counter China in the event that hostilities break out between the two countries.  Without these defense treaties, the Philippines is helpless and powerless to stop Chinese aggression.  Without the VFA and EDCA, foreign forces are banned by the 1987 constitution from being stationed on Philippine soil, which would make the MDT unenforceable and useless.
    In late July, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the Philippines to talk with Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.  They agreed that the VFA, which Duterte had suspended its termination three times, will be restored permanently; which raises the question: What did Austin tell Lorenzana that prompted Duterte to keep the VFA?  
    In addition, the Philippines-U.S. Bilateral Strategic Dialogue was reestablished and Duterte fully endorsed the AUKUS security pact between Australia, U.S. and U.K. – a 180-degree turnaround from his previous stance that AUKUS could trigger a “nuclear arms race.”   It now appears that Duterte has abandoned China in order to rebuild his ties with Uncle Sam. 
Deter Chinese aggression
The commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. John Aquilino, visited the Philippines twice, in August and September, and said the “U.S. wants to increase the complexity and scope” of exercises and invite new partners -- like Australia -- to join. 
    Recent geopolitical development in the Indo-Pacific region further bolsters Australia’s role as a key partner of the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific, which includes the Philippines.
    Recently, the Philippines and Australia finalized a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement (MLSA), which would facilitate defense logistics support and allow their armed forces to conduct more complex engagements and enhance their interoperability.  It would thus make it easier for them to work in addressing regional security challenges.
    MLSA would further strengthen an existing agreement, called State of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA), which was put into effect in 2012.  It governs the entry of Australian troops to the country.  The armed forces of both countries have regularly conducted exercises under SOVFA.
    The Philippines is a significant segment of the First Island Chain, which is the natural barrier that provides a J-shaped line of defense from Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Six of them are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEANS). 
    Indeed, the Philippines’ pivoting back to America has once again strengthened the First Island Chain as America’s first line of defense in the Indo-Pacific region.
    Like they say, “All’s well that ends well.”


Vaping linked with heart problems


Victor Romulo Gallardo Dumaguing MD

SOPHIA, Annapolis France -- In adolescents the use of e-cigarettes doubles the risk of starting to smoke traditional cigarettes, states a position paper published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1
    “Vaping is marketed towards teenagers and the tobacco industry uses celebrities to promote it as being healthier than smoking,” said senior author Professor Maja-Lisa Løchen of The Arctic University of Norway.
    “Legislation on the marketing and sales of e-cigarettes varies enormously between countries,” said Professor Løchen. “Action is urgently needed to halt the growing use in young people. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that e-cigarettes are harmful to health.”
    Studies have reported that e-cigarette use in young people has increased from 5% in 2013 to nearly 25% in 2018. Up to 5% of adults use e-cigarettes, with wide variation between countries.
    The position paper of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC), a branch of the ESC, focusses on the cardiovascular effects of e-cigarettes – including devices that look like cigarettes and refillable vaporisers that do not look like cigarettes. It calls on regulators to protect young people by limiting sales and advertising and banning sweet flavours which teens believe are less harmful.
    Research has shown that e-cigarettes raise blood pressure and heart rate, change the artery walls so that they become stiffer and less elastic, and inhibit the function of blood vessels by damaging their lining. Each of these four effects are risk factors for blood clots and fatty build-up inside artery walls which can cause heart attacks. A study last year found a link between e-cigarettes and heart attacks.
    On top of the heart effects, evidence is accumulating that vaping has negative effects on the lungs and is detrimental to the developing foetus during pregnancy. Preliminary research indicates that e-cigarettes could cause cancer.
    It’s not clear whether e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, since studies have produced conflicting results. “When these studies are pooled together it does not show that e-cigarettes are more effective than conventional, well-tested stop smoking methods,” said Professor Løchen. “In addition, people who use e-cigarettes for smoking cessation often end up being double consumers of both traditional tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes.”
    “E-cigarettes should only be used for smoking cessation if nothing else has worked and the individual is carefully monitored for adverse effects,” she added.
    Professor Løchen concluded: “E-cigarettes are a relatively new product and the long-term health effects are unknown. Now is the time for politicians and regulators to act – with public health campaigns to increase awareness and legislation to halt uptake in young people.”
    Heart doctors and researchers recommend:
    Regulate advertising of e-cigarettes the same as tobacco to protect young people.
    Age verification procedures to prevent adolescents from accessing e-cigarette websites.
    Schools to educate children about the negative effects of e-cigarettes.
    Public campaigns to raise awareness of adverse effects and prevent initiation of vaping.
    Consider for smoking cessation only if conventional methods have failed and individuals are monitored for adverse effects.
    Avoid e-cigarettes during pregnancy.
    Next Week: Late Dinners and No Breakfast is an Unhealthy Combination


Delta overtakes Alpha in Baguio


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Delta variant now tops the city’s list of known Covid-19 variants of concern in this summer capital.
In latest bio-surveillance report of the Philippine Genome Center dated Nov. 7, 2021, 18 new results were added and all were Delta variant cases.
     This brought to 124 the total detected Delta cases outnumbering Alpha and Beta with 116 and 52, respectively.
    All in all, the city has 292 VOCs detected as of said date.
    City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said the specimens of the 18 newly detected cases were collected from Oct. 15-18 and all of the patients had already recovered.
    Since Aug. 28, the PGC had been reporting more Delta cases in the city proving the more virulent variant’s dominance in the city which battled the surge in cases for one month and three weeks before realizing a downtrend.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong said there are actually more Delta cases than in the city what was reported by the PGC.
    PGC's findings were only for surveillance and not for diagnostic purposes so the number it releases does not reflect the actual volume of the variant cases in the city, the mayor said.  
    This, as a mild "saddle" or rebound in Covid-19 cases can be expected in the next few days.
    But Mayor Magalong is optimistic the city can have a better Christmas celebration this year with the gains in vaccination and continued cooperation of the populace on health protocols and strict implementation of restrictions.
    “Hopefully talagang bumaba na sya kasi alam nyo naman everytime we open our economy, our tourism industry maraming umaakyat and according to our triage, meron pa rin tayong nadedetect na positive cases kaya iyun ang binbantayan natin,” the mayor said.
    “But the good thing is we have high vaccination rate and we have a highly compliant community so we hope na bababa pa lalo ang cases.  Our prognosis is that our cases will continue to go down we foresee a better, a more lively and pleasant Christmas in the City of Baguio,” the mayor told the media last week.
    The mild saddle projection was reported by the mayor during his meeting with the Management Committee meeting Nov. 9 based on readings from the various risk indicators and mobility data of the city.
    "We will be expecting a slight saddle next week.  Hopefully, it will not go beyond the reproduction number threshold of 1.0," the mayor told department heads to alert concerned departments and offices.
    Before the pronouncement, department heads had considered temporarily retiring some of the facilities utilized at the height of the Delta variant scourge and cutting down orders for oxygen to cut on costs after cases decreased following the Delta variant-driven spike.
    The mayor said they will continue to watch the developments and act proactively.
    Saddling refers to the instance when cases go on a downtrend then settles some to form a plateau before suddenly shooting up again.
    The city had reopened its tourism industry to help the economic sector recover but it makes sure that it is done slowly, safely and surely, the mayor said.


Amongst the Pines


March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- At least 100 public schools and a small number of private colleges in the country slowly went back to classroom teaching or face to face (F2F) classes last Monday, November 15 after one school year of distance learning. This would test if it is now safe to allow schoolchildren to go back to school even with an enduring Covid-19 pandemic.
    For parents and teachers, they are aware that the school is where schoolchildren interact with their contemporaries. Preventing such interaction could lead to loss of interest for school, loss of self-confidence and ambition.
    I imagine a classroom scenario of pupils wearing facemasks tucked in their respective cubicles physically distanced and enclosed by plastic. More than two meters away, a teacher explains the lessons for the three to four hour F2F class to schoolchildren who will still have to get used to an unfamiliar back-to-school situation.
    For schools in municipal centers and urban areas that were included in the experiment, opening and closing of classes would have to be scheduled outside rush hours to avoid traffic and crowding in public transport. School attendance too would have to be reduced and school hours lessened.
    Recess, lunch time and other school breaks would have to be scheduled differently for individual classes to maintain physical distancing and avoid crowding in school canteens, toilets, offices and other rooms.
    For resourceful teachers and school administrators, open gyms and basketball courts or other available open spaces could be used alternately as classrooms, aside from keeping room windows open for good ventilation.
    The latter situation is where schools in remote mountains of the Cordillera find F2F classes advantageous. There is enough ventilation in the mountains, lots of open spaces and shade between the Pines that can naturally be converted into “classrooms”.  
     There are 1,843 public schools in the whole Cordillera. Unfortunately, out of 50 schools that were recommended for inclusion in the F2F classes, only one school in Tabuk was endorsed by the DepEd central office. The reason: Cordillera remains to be under high-risk for Covid-19 infection.
    Due to the increase in Covid cases, schools in the Cordillera were classified as moderate, high, and critical, according to the DepEd. In contrast, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) allowed at least 12 higher educational institutions in the Cordillera to conduct F2F classes for the academic year 2021-2022.
    I thought the basis for inclusion in F2F classes was that schools should be in the minimal risk area based on the criteria set by the DOH. I do not see the reason why 12 colleges and universities in the city and populated centers were allowed F2F classes while well ventilated schools in the open mountains were not.   
    For a school to be included in the list for F2F classes, it should be located in a minimal-risk area based on the criteria set by the DOH. But areas in the Cordillera are on different risk levels. No doubt, schools in Baguio are within a high-risk area as compared to an unpopulated public school somewhere in Pachakan below Besao or the school in Huyoc, Banawe.
    Aside from school teachers being vaccinated, aged 65 y/o and below and have no diagnosed comorbidities; I am sure the schools in the far mountains passed whatever safety assessment tool was used by DepEd and DOH if their personnel reached the schools that I visited in the past.
    I am referring to schools in Naswak above Ekip, Bokod near the boundary of Viscaya; Tawangan and Palansa elementary schools below the Mount Pulag summit; Domolpos E/S beside Mount Ugo, and the school in Lusod, Tinongdan. During an outreach journalism lecture, I slept in a classroom in Dalupirip and at the Lawiguen E/S, both in Itogon.
    I also found myself in a very quiet school in Am-am where the only sound that breaks the chilly atmosphere is the voice of the teacher that can be heard through a round hole, once covered by a doorknob. There were very few schoolchildren, maybe 10 to 14 in each class.
    I remember, the school had grades one to four with each grade occupying a classroom. The classrooms had no wall dividers between them because the teacher had to walk from one class to the next. I found out there was only one teacher for the four classes of different grades. The school is at the Bauko-Mankayan mountain boundary.
    Then in Buguias, I hiked for three hours to reach the elementary school at Panayawan, Loo to join colleagues in a “regional autonomy” meeting. In the same year, I saw the isolated school in Ahin, Tinoc.
    North of Benguet, there are schools in zero or low-risk areas such as Tubo E/S in Abra near the boundary of Besao; the school in Tamboan in Besao, and moving further on the same foot trail is a school in Dandanak.
    There are far-flung schools around scenic Sagada, and remote schools in Lias and Kadaclan in Barlig. Then I visited the late Dr. Philip Flores who volunteered as school head of Marag E/S at Marag Valley, an NPA area in Apayao. I am quite fortunate to have visited these schools in the past.
    According to UNICEF, we are the last country in the world to experiment on F2F schooling. It is good we allowed our schools to join pilot-testing. But this should be allowed more in areas where schoolchildren still have no access to internet gadgets and cannot afford online connections.
    By the way, the World Bank assessed that school closures lasting for five to six months is equivalent to losing more than half a year of schooling. This is true especially in areas where internet connectivity is unavailable. 
    Ironically, these are the areas where F2F classes could be implemented because Covid-19 infection rates remain low. Life is slow in these areas, there are open spaces so that ventilation and physical distancing are not problems. If so, then all these should be enough reasons for DepEd, DOH and the agencies concerned to pilot-test F2F classes. These could be done amongst the Pines.     
    News report: In a F2F class reopening in Alaminos City, cops were requested by school officials to be deployed to ensure observance of minimum public health standards. So they came but also carried with them their firearms before schoolchildren. Schools should always be free from persons with firearms. No common sense. Narrow-minded.


Expect the world to end badly


Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS is, of course, not meant to scare us nor to have a pessimistic view of life. Rather it is to be realistic, given the way we are and the way the world in general is, what with all our limitations and defects, even if we cannot deny that we are also full of good potentials.
    Christ already warned us about this. “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you, they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you…” (Lk 19,42-44)
    We have to learn to prepare for this eventuality. If Christ, who is God made man and who is our Redeemer, could not help but had to offer his life to save us, how can we think that our life and the world in general would take a different path?
    Remember Christ telling his disciples, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (Jn 15,20) So we have to expect to have the same fate as
    Christ. And that means that we have to prepare for the worst scenario.
    The world will end badly. That’s already a given, a truth of our faith.
    What we have to do is to always have a proper focus in life. Especially these days when we are easily carried away by many distracting elements, what with all we can devour in the social media, videos, etc., we need to remind ourselves quite strongly that we have to be well focused on what is truly essential in our life.
    We have to remind ourselves that our life here on earth is actually a testing and training ground for what God, our Father and Creator, wants us to be, that is, that we be his image and likeness, adopted children of his, meant to share in his very own life in eternity.
    Everything that we are, we have and we do in this life should be made as an occasion, material or reason for us to attain that God-given goal for us. Everything should be related and referred to him. Simply being on our own and doing things on our own, without any reference to God, is an anomaly. It would surely end in tragedy even if we feel we are having a good time in our life.
    This fundamental truth about ourselves should be proclaimed time and time again because we are notorious for taking it for granted, if not for violating it. We have to remind everyone that we have to take the necessary steps for us to be aware of this truth and to live according to it.
    Obviously, what is truly helpful in this regard is that everyone learns really how to pray, how to engage God in a continuing conversation, or at least to have an abiding awareness of his presence and interventions in our life.
    That is why prayer is indispensable in our life. It is what would make us aware of who we really are, what the real purpose of our life on earth is, how we ought to behave in the different situations and circumstances of our life. It is what would help us to refer everything to God, what would keep us in the proper focus. -- Email:


Boomerang Kids


Klaus Döring 

So I see myself trying too - it's difficult to write about any topic in our daily life without mentioning COVID-19. I observe it within my own family in the Philippines.
                The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many young people to move back in with their parents. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they've had to come to grips with feelings of failure and guilt. Being forced to move back home can lead to depression for some young people. 
    Boomerang children, or boomerang kids, are terms used to describe the phenomenon of an adult child returning home to live with their parents for economic reasons after a period of independent living.
    In my own family, the elderly tried to help as much as they could. The strong family ties are really amazing for me as a German expatriate living in the Philippines for good since 23 years now.
    Some of my in-laws are staying abroad and trying to survive as much as they can.
    Young people were hit particularly hard by the pandemic — especially those who had to move back in with their parents.
    For them the pandemic has meant a hit to their studies, more stress and a total loss of autonomy. 
    Homeschooling has students at their limits. 
    The situation varies across Europe i.e., when it comes to young adults choosing to live with their parents. That was the state of affairs before the pandemic as well: whereas early independence is the norm for Scandinavians. EU statistics show that a different culture exists in southern and southeastern Europe. Every region has its own financial and cultural conditions.
    Still teaching many times I feel like a man giving a lecture in an empty room, filmed for broadcast online, standing next to a TV screen while interacting and communicating with my students is very difficult. Bad or no internet connections makes it more difficult. 
    Various factors can have an impact on when and how young adults choose to set out on their own, from the job market, the familiar comforts of home and even tradition. But regardless of the circumstances, it's clear that one group has suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.
    Marginalized people, for instance those belonging to the LGBTIQ+ community, find it more difficult than others to cope with the situation at home. Similarly, lower income families living in small quarters have had to come to grips with the increased potential for conflict.
    India i.e. fears 'lost generation' of students. Jennifer Caputo, a sociologist at the University of Chicago who has surveyed "boomerang kids" in the United States, found that those who were forced to return due to COVID, in particular, more frequently showed symptoms of depression.
    Economic and social independence, as well as the simple fact of living in one's own space, she voiced out, are seen as important steps for a successful transition to adulthood. If those goals aren't achieved, she said, those affected may suffer from feelings of failure.
    For some of my nieces and nephews, being back home wasn't easy. It certainly was a stressful situation. The biggest challenge "was the simple fact that they're my parents. In their eyes, you'll always be their child, no matter how old you are."
    How to deal with this new situation: Accept that we're all adults.            
Email: or follow me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my or .


City council probes grant of huge gov’t lot to association

>> Monday, November 22, 2021

11 agencies, ex-Baguio execs gave authorization’ 

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- The City Council is now probing claims of an urban poor organization over a disputed 18.49-hectare land within city government property here covering Sto. Tomas- Apugan, Sto. Tomas Proper and Camp 7.
    During their regular session Monday, city councilors came to know members of Everlasting Pinegold Community Association, Inc. (EPCAI) have resettled in said areas following pre-proclamation of the 18.49-hectare land in favor of the association with the approval of 11 agencies.
    EPCAI president Maria Leonora Jordan said the association had gone through stringent process to ensure its members were qualified as beneficiaries of social housing.
    Dolores Balagat, representative of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, said the 18.49-hectare land within the 158-hectare city government property was identified for low-cost housing.
    The said land was surveyed as Special Work Order (SWO)-CAR-000967 in the name of the city government and was identified as a social housing site for the EPCAI upon the request of then Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
    The survey plan was approved by the regional DENR-CAR. 
    Balagat said the DENR does not favor entities when declaring lands as alienable and disposable pursuant to the Public Land Act and it was the city government under the administration of Domogan that identified the 18.49 hectares to be used by the EPCAI as relocation site. 
    Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, however, questioned the move of the DENR to approve the survey plan without verifying whether the former chief executive was given authority by the city council to grant the land to the EPCAI. 
     “The 158 hectares is reserved for city land use needs. You cannot simply award that land to one association. In the city, land disposition is only either through Townsite Sales Application or Miscellaneous Sales Application,” Olowan said. 
     “There are people who do not have a lot in the city, and yet you (DENR-CAR) allowed that 18.49-hectare land to be given to an association. And that is contradictory to the law,” he added.
    Councilor Benny Bomogao said decisions of the city government involving land disposition need confirmation or approval of the city council through a resolution or an ordinance.
    Jordan said the EPCAI should not be placed at a disadvantage as they had gone through  necessary procedures to legitimize their claims over the land and they had introduced many developments in the area. 
    The association had been involved in several land disputes with other land claimants in the area for many years.
    In May 2020, Sto. Tomas Community Neighborhood Association sought the help of the city council for the cancellation of SWO-CAR-000976 on the grounds that the EPCAI had allegedly encroached into their property.
    The appeal of the neighborhood association was referred to the city council’s committee on urban planning, lands, and housing chaired by Councilor Fred Bagbagen and has yet to be acted on by the committee.
    The request for the cancellation of SWO-CAR-000976 was brought up during the council’s regular session on Sept. 14, 2020. 
    Engr.  Benjamin A. Ventura, DENR representative, said SWO-CAR-000976 can be cancelled upon the request of the city government citing the reasons for its cancellation.
    Balagat said the 18.49-hectare land will remain in the name of the city government even if SWO-CAR-000976 gets cancelled since it is part of the 158-hectare land identified for the city’s multi-land use.
    The city council referred the matter again to the committee on urban planning, lands and housing to be studied further in aid of legislation. 


Bat attacks disrupt power supply in Mt Province, Kalinga

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Some parts of this province and Kalinga experienced power outage for three hours last week due to bat attacks
    The Mountain Province Electric Cooperative (Mopreco) deployed linemen to find out the cause of the power interruption.
    The linemen said they found a burnt bat near a power line of Mopreco.
    The power cooperative said the bat could have bitten the electric cable, causing short-circuit and outage.
    The linemen said bats also destroyed an insulator.
    Power was restored shortly before midnight on Nov. 14.
    A local drunk said next time power lines are attacked by bats, linemen could ask them to find the nocturnal creatures as these could go along well for “pulutan” (finger food) during their gin-drinking bouts.   
    Bats abound in caves like those in the tourist town of Sagada.



Ilocos SK treasurer, 22 hangs self dead

By Mar T. Supnad

CAOAYAN, Ilocos Sur -- A Sangguniang Kabataan treasurer of this town reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself night of Nov. 14 here in Barangay Manangat.
    Police reported the victim identified as Hannah Isabel Reotita y Irorita, 22, single, SK treasurer and resident of said place, was lifeless when they rushed her to a hospital for treatment.
    Investigation gathered by Caoayan police showed the victim was seen by her brother, Paul Axle Reotita already hanging beside the door of her room with a nylon cord tied to her neck.
    They immediately rushed her to Ilocos Sur Provincial Hospital- Gabriela Silang, Tamag, Vigan City.
    However, Dr. Mark Cuevas, attending physician declared her dead on arrival at about 6:28 p.m. that day.
Police gathered the victim allegedly had a problem regarding her work as SK treasurer.
    It was not known if there was money involved in the incident, she being a treasurer.


Troops overrun NPA camp in Kalinga town

By Leander C. Domingo

PASIL, Kalinga --- A communist rebel was killed when government troops overran a New People's Army camp here Nov. 13,  the Army's 5th Infantry Division reported Tuesday.
    Maj. Jekyll Julian Dulawan, 5th ID public affairs office chief, said a 35-minute firefight between the military and the NPA also led to the recovery of a high-powered firearm and other war materials here in Barangay Bagtayan.
In his report, Dulawan said the 5ID's 50th Infantry Battalion (50IB) was conducting operation in the area when they encountered the rebels.
    He said the military was approaching Bagtayan village when they were fired upon by around 15 rebels belonging to the Komiteng Larangang Guerilla or KLG-Baggas.
    "The government forces had to retaliate to drive away the enemy who scampered in different directions, leaving the body of their dead comrade with his firearm," Dulawan said.
    He said the military took control of the NPA encampment and recovered an M16 rifle, long and short magazines, 25 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition, a bandolier, transistor radio and other personal belongings of the NPA rebels.
    Dulawan said the slain NPA member was identified as Julio Dumalyong alias Poli of Tanglag village in Lubuangan town, Kalinga. His remains were already turned over to his family.
    Lt. Col. Melanio Somera, 50IB commanding officer, thanked the people of Kalinga for their full support in the government's fight against the communist terrorists.


Sandigan affirms graft ruling against former Nueva Ecija councilor

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija -- The Sandiganbayan has upheld conviction of a former councilor here in connection with an extortion case filed against him in 2013.
    Records showed that Angelito Saclolo Jr. demanded P300,000 from a contractor in exchange for the passage of a city ordinance that would allow the construction of cell sites of a major telecommunications company.
    In a 19-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 25, the anti-graft court said Saclolo failed to raise any meritorious argument in his motion that sought to reverse a court ruling, which found him guilty of direct bribery.
    Aside from Saclolo, the Sandiganbayan found former council secretary Alfredo Ortaleza guilty of the same offense.
    The court said Ortaleza’s appeal was deemed moot as the cases against him were dismissed due to his death in December 2020.
    The Sandiganbayan earlier sentenced Saclolo and Ortaleza to five to eight years in prison for direct bribery, and three to five years for violation of the Code of Conduct.
    Aside from prison terms, the accused were barred from holding public office and ordered to pay a fine of P905,000 each.


La Union gov runs for mayor of San Fernando

SAN FERNANDO CITY — La Union Gov. Francisco Ortega III, who backed out from his reelection bid on Tuesday, will run for mayor of San Fernando City.
    Ortega filed his certificate of candidacy for the mayoralty post on Nov. 12.
    His daughter, Raphaela Veronica Ortega-David, replaced him in the gubernatorial race.
    David earlier withdrew her bid for a seat in the provincial council.
Ortega, who filed his candidacy under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, will be running against his uncle, former city mayor Jose     Pepe Ortega, and incumbent Mayor Dong Gualberto.
    The governor said he prayed and reflected hard, and consulted his family before deciding to join the mayoral race.
    “I know how grave the responsibility that I should take. Being a mayor is not a mere title followed by a name,” Ortega said.
Ortega won as governor of La Union during the 2016 elections and was reelected in 2019.
    He succeeded his father, Manuel Ortega, who served the province for three terms.



DA-PRDP turns over P12.41-M potato biz in Mountain Province

By Elvy T. Estacio

BAUKO, Mountain Province -- -- The P12.41 million Potato Tuber Production and Marketing Enterprise implemented under the Dept. of Agriculture - Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) and
municipal government here was turned over to Sadsadan Association of Vegetable Producers, Inc. (SAVPI) Nov. 16.
    The enterprise was proposed to provide quality potato planting materials, and make it accessible to potato growers in Bauko and its neighboring potato-producing municipalities.
    As part of the enterprise, a storage facility and three greenhouse structures were constructed for production of potato tubers.
    A hauling truck was also turned over to the SAVPI to facilitate transport of their produce.
    The greenhouse structures were physically completed in the last quarter of 2019, while the construction of the storage facility was completed February 2020.
    Since then, the SAVPI started their enterprise operations.
    During the turnover ceremony, DA-CAR regional executive director Cameron P. Odsey cited importance of technology in producing quality planting materials.
“More farmers will benefit if you produce your own planting materials instead of importing them,” Odsey said.
The director added farmers should strengthen their association, and use production facilities and delivery truck provided by the DA-PRDP to develop their business.
Bauko Mayor Abraham B. Akilit urged SAVPI officers to maximize use of the facilities and truck in accordance to their responsibility of maintaining it.
“Adi yo bukudan di technology, i-share yo ti daduma nga farmers tapnu ad-adu ti makinabang (do not keep the technology to yourselves, share it to others so that more farmers will benefit),” Aklit said.
SAVPI chair Teresita Gaocen expressed her gratitude to DA-PRDP and to the LGU for the project.
She thanked association members for their unity and coordination in the operation of their enterprise.
“Let us continue to work together for our enterprise to prosper. Now that it is finally and officially turned over to us, our duty now is to continue to manage and sustain it,” Gaocen said.




Employment programs boost Ilocos Norte tourism recovery

By Edison Justin B. Deus

LAOAG CITY -- As Ilocos Norte’s tourism recovery gains momentum after the province recently experienced its "worst" surge in Covid-19 cases, the provincial government, through the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office, has launched several socio-economic recovery programs to mitigate effects of the pandemic.
    In its second installment, the Tourism Livelihood Continuity Program (TLCP) has begun subsidizing salary fund of primary tourism businesses which, previously, laid-off workers.
    At least 1,250 tourism industry workers regained their jobs under a re-employment agreement.
     The phase 1 of TLCP was launched in March 2020 and was regarded as a “pioneering and innovative” livelihood intervention program that cushioned the economic impact of Covid-19.
     According to  Xavier R. Ruiz, officer-in-charge of INTO, under the TLCP phase 2, the provincial government "will pay the wages of employees who were unable to work due to the pandemic" and "pay a portion of the salary for staff who were retained by employers to stop possible layoffs."
    Meanwhile, another employment program under the INTO is the December Tourism Operations and Employment Program.
    This will prioritize displaced workers from the tourism, events, and creative sectors to augment the manpower at various tourist attractions across the province and assist with the expected influx of visitors during the holiday season.
     A total of 200 tourism ambassadors, utility personnel and senior citizen guides will be hired under this employment program.
    In 2018, the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines and Department of Tourism Awards recognized INTO’s Summer Tourism Program as pioneer in "immersing both the young and elderly as tour guides in different museums and churches in the province."
    The TLCP and the December Tourism Operations and Employment Program were patterned from the STP, but this time, securing jobs for pandemic-displaced tourism industry workers.
     Ilocos Norte re-opened to tourists from last Sept. 24.


Baguio City Council pushes local products

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY – The city council has approved on first reading a proposed ordinance providing funds for implementation of “Buy local, go lokal” program of the Dept. of Trade of Industry. 
    The program aims to increase demand for locally manufactured goods and locally grown fresh products to create local jobs and boost the economy reeling from the pandemic.
    The program is expected to boost sales and distribution of local products through information campaigns and strategic partnerships with retailers, manufacturers, industry associations, local government units, and government agencies, providing more economic opportunities to alleviate the living conditions of Filipino citizens.
    Upon the enactment of the ordinance, the said program shall be funded with P250,000 for implementation to be included in the annual budget of the City Planning and Development Office  and other concerned departments.
    Under the proposed measure, the city government shall partner with the DTI in identifying local products that can be registered as “Go lokal suppliers.”
    “Go Lokal suppliers” are local startups, social entrepreneurs, cooperatives, online sellers, and youth/student entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria and conditions:
can supply unique and quality products with good design and packaging; have little to no access to mainstream retail markets; highly innovative, adapting to evolving market preferences; and must be duly registered and have the necessary business permits, licenses, and certifications.
    The city government shall conduct an exposition of the products for the local micro-small-medium enterprises (MSMEs), start-ups, entrepreneurs, and cooperatives at least once a year.
    According to the DTI, the “Buy local, go lokal” campaign was established to support Philippine MSMEs by shifting buying patterns of consumers towards the country’s fresh produce and manufactured goods. This shall help stimulate and boost domestic travel and encourage Filipino consumers to patronize Philippine-owned and operated facilities and services.     
    The city mayor may form a committee to implement the ordinance.
    The committee shall be composed of the City Mayor’s Office, CPDO, DTI, the local investment board, one city council member, representatives of local suppliers, cooperatives, start-ups, MSMEs, and representatives of the Indigenous Peoples community involved in the creation and manufacturing of local products especially woven materials.
    Following its approval on first reading, the proposed ordinance has been referred to the Sanggunian’s committee on employment, livelihood and cooperatives and persons with disabilities to be reviewed.


P5.5-M marijuana burned in Sadanga, Kibungan

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Around P5.5 million marijuana was torched in Sadanga, Mountain Province and Kibungan, Benguet last week.
    Combined forces of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Cordillera police torched more than P3 million worth of marijuana in Sadanga on Nov. 14.
    The anti-drug operation was launched following the discovery of two marijuana plantations in Barangay Saclit, according to Mountain Province police director Col. Ruben Andiso.
    The raiding team seized five kilos of dried marijuana leaves worth P600,000 and 22 kilos of marijuana stalks worth P2.6 million.
    No one was arrested in the raid.
    In Kibungan cops found and burned a total of P2,554,000 worth of marijuana plants during a 5-day operation conducted in the mountainous area of Barangay Tacadang Nov. 9 to 13.
    Six marijuana plantation sites in the communal forests of Barangay Tacadang were discovered by Benguet operatives.
    From Nov. 9 to 13, elements of 1st Benguet Provincial Mobile Force Company discovered five sites planted with 4,100 marijuana seedlings worth P164,000 and 10,700 pieces of fully grown marijuana plants worth P2,140,000.
    On Nov. 13, Kibungan police found 1,250 pieces fully-grown marijuana plants valued at P250,00.




Baguio retains plastic barriers in PUVs

By Liza Agoot 

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has opted to retain the plastic barriers in public utility vehicles (PUV) plying the city's routes as prevention against getting infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) when passenger capacity is raised to 70 percent.
    Public Information Office (PIO) - Baguio chief Aileen Refuerzo said Wednesday the city would soon issue an executive order on this.
    "The city will allow the PUVs to have a 70 percent carriage capacity but should retain the physical barriers to ensure distancing and minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission among the commuting public," she said.
    The Land Transportation Office has allowed the removal of plastic barriers inside public vehicles, but Refuerzo said the city prefers to retain them as a precaution and for the safety of passengers.
    The PUV drivers are also mandated to regularly disinfect the barriers using disinfectants they could get for free from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
    Residents who wish to have the disinfectants for personal use can also get them for a minimal fee.
    Refuerzo also relayed the city officials' continued appeal for the public’s strict adherence to the minimum public health standards and having themselves fully vaccinated. -- PNA



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