Monday, December 15, 2014

NGCP Prepares For Typhoon Ruby

NGCP Prepares For Typhoon Ruby

NGCP has implemented the necessary preparations and precautions to minimize the impact of Typhoon Ruby on transmission operations and facilities.

Preparations included ensuring the reliability of communications equipment, availability of hardware materials, standby generators, vehicles, SCADA spares and supplies necessary for the repair of damage to facilities, as well as the positioning of line crews and helicopters in strategic areas, to facilitate immediate restoration work. Double shifting of Regional Control Center (RCC), Area Control Center (ACC), and substation personnel has been implemented.

NGCP also deferred all scheduled maintenance activities on facilities within the expected path of the typhoon. The grid operator also continues to coordinate with power plants, substations, and customers to balance system load and voltage and with LGUs, AFP, and PNP to access and clear right-of-way areas.

NGCP’s Integrated Disaster Action Plan (IDAP) prescribes these and other procedures to ensure the readiness of all power transmission facilities expected to be affected by the passage of the weather disturbance.

Typhoon Ruby, carrying maximum sustained winds of 195kph and moving west northwest at 20kph speed, is estimated to make landfall over Eastern Samar on December 6.
NGCP’s Overall Disaster Command Center monitors all power restoration activities, reports, and updates from the Regional Command Centers in North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, whichever is directly affected by the weather disturbance. /MP

Senate commends Miss Earth 2014

Senate commends Miss Earth 2014

The Senate will adopt on December 9 a resolution congratulating Jamie Herrell for winning the Miss Earth 2014 competition on November 29, 2014 at the University of the Philippines Theater in Diliman, Quezon City.

Senate Resolution No. 1039, authored by Senator Lito Lapid, recognizes the achievement of Herrell when she won the prestigious title against 83 other candidates from all over the world.

“Nineteen-year old Miss Earth Philippines 2013 title holder Jamie Herrell made the country proud when she won the prestigious Miss Earth crown on November 29, 2014,” the resolution stated.

The Cebuana beauty is the second Filipina to bag the Miss Earth title after Karla Henry, also a Cebuana, who won in 2008.

Aside from the Miss Earth title, Herrell also took home three special awards namely Miss Earth Hannah’s Beach Resort, Best in Swimsuit and Sun for Miss Earth.

The Miss Earth competition was first organized in 2001 to promote environmental awareness and the preservation of the earth.

“By being crowned this years’ most beautiful woman in the planet, Jamie Herrell gave Filipinos unparalleled pride and showed the world the grace and excellence of Filipino beauty,” the resolution said. /MP

Senate Commends National Artist F. Sionil Jose

Senate Commends National 
Artist F. Sionil Jose
The Senate on December 9 will adopt Senate Resolution No. 1045, commending National Artist Francisco Sionil Jose for his distinguished contribution to literature and journalism.

Senate Resolution No. 1045, introduced by Sen. Loren Legarda, recognizes Sionil Jose’s “artistic and literary genius, and his perseverance to instill national pride through the arts.”

Born in Rosales, Pangasinan on December 3, 1924, Sionil Jose is considered as one of the country’s most prominent writers in the English language, his works having been translated to twenty-two languages, including Czech, Indonesian, French, Korean, Russian, Latvian and Dutch.

He has received numerous accolades, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Pablo Neruda Award, Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for literature, among others.

He was bestowed the title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature in 2001.

“He has been an inspiration to several generations of writers and journalists through his essays, his role as a publisher, his lectures, his iconic bookshop, Solidaridad, and his founding of the Philippine chapter of the PEN, an international organization of poets, writers and novelists,” the Resolution said. /MP

Gov’t Allocates P11.2-M For President Aquino’s Visit To Busan

Gov’t Allocates P11.2-M For 
President Aquino’s Visit To Busan

The government has earmarked P11.2 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s visit to Busan for the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit next week from December 11 to 12, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. reported.

President Aquino will leave on December 11 via a chartered flight to Busan, to be accompanied by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma, Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Andrea Abad and Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria.

The amount covers expenses for transportation, accommodation, food, equipment and other requirements of the Chief Executive and his 48-member delegation.

“President Aquino’s attendance to the 25th ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit is an occasion to fortify our country’s relationship with South Korea in various areas of cooperation such as trade and investment, development, labor and migration, tourism, among others,” Ochoa said.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, President Aquino is scheduled to deliver his country-statement on this year’s summit theme, “Building Trust, Bringing Happiness,” and hold a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who will host a welcome dinner and cultural performance to officially welcome the ASEAN leaders.

Initially, the ROK was a sectoral dialogue partner of the ASEAN and became a full dialogue partner of the ASEAN in 1991. The dialogue relations between the ASEAN and ROK were upgraded into a strategic partnership in 2010. /MP

Can You Smile?

Men Virus Women
“A husband providing to his wife that women talk more than men, showed her a study which indicated that men use on the average only 1,100 words a day, where as women use 2,200 words a day.

She thought about this for a while and then told her husband that women use twice as many words as men because they have to repeat everything they say.
He asked, “what?”

Atty. Kel Tolentino sent to the Madyaas Pen the following jokes while Ruby is visiting Aklan.
A singing group called “The Resurrection” was scheduled to sing at a church when a strong typhoon postponed the performance. The priest fixed the outside sign to read “The Resurrection Is Postponed. Church Signs:
1. “No God – No Peace. Know God - Know Peace.”
2. “Have trouble sleeping? We have sermons – come hear one!”
3. “Fight truth decay – study the Bible daily.”
4. “If you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.”
5. “If you don’t like the way you were born, try being born again.”
6.“Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty lives.”
7. “Come work for the Lord. The work is hard, the hours are long and the pay is low. But the retirement benefits are out of their world.” /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Alibang-bang Ni Minerva
Ni Tita Linda Belayro

Maisot pa si Minerva hay ma ila-on eun imaw magdakop it mga alibang-bang. Nagbahoe imaw nga mahugop kana ro alibang-bang. Umabot rong oras nga nagmasakit ro anang ina. Sa owa mabuhayi hay namatay. 

Nag-asawa ro anang ama sa isaeang ka baeo man nga may unga sa unang asawa nga ka edad man ni Minerva. Kada agahon, naga adto sa eati si Minerva agod makihampang sa mga alibang-bang. 

Parabil namatay ro ina ni Minerva hay guin bilin imaw sa alibang-bang. Pananglitan hidlawon imaw sa anang ina hay idto nana usuyon sa mga alibang-bang agod mabu-eong ro anang kahidlaw.

Ko isaeang agahun ngaron, guina ga-oy guid nga mayad si Minerva. Ogaling indi magsugot ro mag-ina nga magpahuway imaw bangod guin paeabhan pa kana ro mga kurtina ag kobre kama nga dapat matapos. Guin pilit nana nga matapos ro anang pageaba. Pagkatapos, nag-adto imaw sa eati agod idto magpahuway. Nag-a-eabot ro mga alibang-bang. Guin hapunan imaw ag habatyagan nana ro mga hapeos nga manami hasta imaw hakatueogan. 

Pagbugtaw nana, owa eon it hapdi ro anang eawas. Gabi-e eon imaw nag-abot sa andang baeay. Nakasamit imaw it mueay. Bilang pina kana, owa imaw pagtagan-e it pagkaon. 

Nakatueogan imaw sa kagutom. Agod makalibre sa mga sugo kana, nagpanaw imaw sa eati ag idto nagpa-utwas ko anang kasubo. Maangan-angan, may naghapon nga isaeang ka mabahoe nga alibang-bang. Bali ro anang pakpak. Naeo-oy si Minerva busa anang guin boeong rong pakpak paagi sa pagbutang it laki-laki. Hakatoeugan ro alibang-bang imaw man si Minerva. Pagbugtaw ko daeaga, hakibot imaw ay may haboe eota imaw. Paglingot nana, hakita ni Minerva ro isaeang ka eaeaki nga nakabeste it matsa prinsepe. Pormal ro tindog ko eaeaki nga gina tinueok nana si Minerva. 

Nagpakilaea rong eaeaki nga isaea imaw nga prinsepe sa ibang kaharian. Bangod guinmaldesyon imaw it bruha matapos nga guinbalibaran nana rong onga it bruha. Guin himo imaw nga sangka alibang-bang. Suno sa eaeaki, mabalik eamang imaw sa dating kahimtangan kon may mabuot nga babaye nga makabulig kana. 
Suno sa prinsepe, utang nana kay Minerva ro anang kabuhi. Anang guin daea si Minerva sa anang kaharian. Nangin prinsesa si Minerva ag daea pa guihapon ro anang mga amigong alibang-bang kaibahan eon ko anang kabuhi. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Long & Endless KIA Improvement
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

After spending almost one billion pesos (P1,000,000,000) for the upgrading of the Kalibo International Airport (KIA), the airport is until today topsy-turvy. Both the departure and arrival areas are congested, and hot. The comfort rooms are below standard.

According to Mr. Arturo Balderas, project manager of KIA-DOTC implementing the expansion works, the government has appropriated P946 million for the upgrading and expansion of KIA facilities.

Balderas reported that P32.50 million was allocated for site acquisition which is “substantially completed”. For apron expansion, P15 million was allocated for site acquisition. Some P300 million was also allocated for the extension of runway, construction of access road, apron expansion, and taxiway and completion and rehabilitation of terminal building, with only 51 percent completed of the project.

The P59 million apron expansion, asphalt overlay of runway project has been suspended. There is P26 million allocation for asphalt overlay of damaged portions of the runway. Again P125.14 million is budgeted for another batch of site expansion and taxiway.

Capitalizing on the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, another P150 million is set aside for KIA expansion plus the P237.55 million.

Endless Projects Constructions
It seems and it appears that the agencies concerned in the improvement of KIA in Kalibo, Aklan are endlessly appropriating public funds for endless similar projects constructions.

P110 Million For Banga-Libacao Road
Libacao is twenty one and one half (21.5) kilometers away from Banga and 30 kilometers away from Kalibo, the capital town of Aklan. In view of the road conditions, it takes from one hour to one hour and one half to reach Libacao from Kalibo via a 4-wheel vehicle. While the distance seems short, travel time is longer. This is due to the road condition of the 21.5 kilometers Banga-Libacao road, of which 9.44 kilometers remain rough resulting to its slow economic progress.

Libacao is the biggest municipality among the 17 towns of Aklan in terms of Aklan’s total land area. Should the road condition improved, progress will hasten not only of Libacao but Aklan especially.

Considering its vast fertile land, favorable climate, and its industrious people, there will be economic progress. Production of fruits, flowers, abaca, livestock among others will be increased as the mode of transportation is made easier and transport cost is greatly reduced. One factor which impedes increased agricultural productivity is the transport costs of products from the farm to the road side and from the road side to the market.

Moreover, the consumers cannot appreciate the efforts spent by the farmers in the production of farm products. They often bargain for the bottom price possible. Our consumers do not realize the hardship of the farm producers in bringing the farm products to market.

A good example is the exploitation of consumers and traders of our palay farmers. With the use of early maturing palay seeds, it will take 100-115 days to harvest the palay after transplanting. Before transplanting, a farmer sows the rice seeds and prepares the field ready for transplanting rice seedling.

Since rice is a hydro-phonic plant, it needs water to produce grains. Studies proved that to produce 10 metric tons of palay per hectare per season is possible in normal times with the use of recommended farm technology like good seeds, control of weeds, pests and diseases and irrigation.  

But can you, Mr. Consumer sympathize with the farmer whose lower limb of his body is buried in the mud and his upper limb is either under the sun or rain during land preparation, transplanting and harvesting?

 To produce 10 metric tons of palay per hectare per season, a farmer must supply 15 million kilograms of water for land preparation until the rice crop reaches its ripening stage. This means supplying 1,500 kilograms of water to produce one kilogram of palay from one square meter riceland.

Moreover, palay crop is vulnerable to the damage cause by wind, flood and birds. And when his crop is damaged, a farmer cries alone, when he has a bumper crop, everybody smile.

Mr. Consumer, I have yet to meet a palay farmer who became rich. On the other hand, I saw several rice traders who became millionaires.

Mr. Consumers and rice traders, can you recognize the difficulties a palay farmer undergoes by buying his products at a higher but reasonable price? “Lets do it.” /MP


Kalibo’s Dumping Site Is
A Serious Environmental Threat

Unless drastic remedial measures are undertaken, the threat to the environment being posed by the dumping site in the Ati-atihan Town of Kalibo, capital town of Aklan can worsen further and will endanger the health and lives of people living nearby, to include students population of various learning institutions operating near its vicinity.

This matter surfaced in a committee hearing conducted by the Committee on Environmental Protection of the 16th  Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan recently.

The SP committee was prompted to conduct an inquiry into the matter when the Sangguniang Barangay of Old Buswang furnished the body of its resolution addressed to the local officials of Kalibo seeking for the immediate closure of the said dumping site. Kalibo’s dumping site is located at the adjoining barangay of Bakhaw Sur, along the Sooc River, one of the extensions of the Aklan River.

Not only are residents of the two barangays are affected of the persistent emission of foul odor from the dumping site but also commercial and institutional establishment operators and students near the area.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ivene D. Reyes of Aklan stressed that LGU Kalibo maybe liable for several violations in the operation of the dumping site since 2006 when the department ordered the LGU Kalibo to already start the safe closure procedures for the dumping site. But until now, it remains to be implemented.

DENR Aklan emphasized that for the foul odor to be temporarily and immediately remedied, spraying of chemicals on the dumpsite must be done at once, but safe closure procedure must be started right away.
Engr. Jessie Fegarido, head of Kalibo’s Municipal Economic Enterprise Development Department, said safe closure procedure will start next week with the construction of the perimeter fence of the said dumping site expected to be finished within one month. Is it done?

Portion of the concrete enclosure of the dumping site had been damaged while holes were bored at the undamaged portions facing the Sooc River. These caused emission of the waste fluids into the river.
Former Congressman Allen S. Quimpo feared that the naturally grown marine resources in the nearby 250-hectare mangrove eco-park are already affected by the pollution of the river.

Ms. Adorada Reynaldo, Solid Waste Management Officer of Kalibo explained that the safe closure procedures can never be successful until wastes segregation is strictly enforced on Kalibo’s households.
Both Fegarido and Reynaldo expressed their exasperation over their difficulty to obtain budgetary appropriations for the P20 million they need to fully implement the safe closure of the dumping site.

PENRO Reyes informed the committee that DENR has already identified a 12-hectare area in Castillo, Makato, Aklan which can be developed into a sanitary landfill site for Kalibo’s garbage and that of the neighboring towns west of Kalibo like Numancia, Makato, Lezo, and Tangalan.

But Reyes said this will take about one year to prepare the area to be ready to receive the wastes of these towns. (Editor’s note: Adopted from “The Legislator”, the official newsletter of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan.) /MP 



The proposed P2.606 trillion national spending package was approved by the bicameral conference committee after revisions and finetunings were made on the budget version of the House of Representatives.

Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said the approved budget has kept the original amount as proposed by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Escudero, however, said lawmakers made some realignments amounting to P72.542 billion, a big chunk of which came from the Unprogrammed Fund for MRT 3 buyout.

In the House version, the MRT 3 acquisition amounted to P53.9 billion. From this original amount, the bicameral panel only restored P7.428 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the transit system. Also, P6.520 billion was retained for the payment of taxes of MRT 3 in connection with its BOT contract. The panel also retained P4.4 billion for the remaining equity buy out of the MRT 3.

The biggest realigned item totalling P20 billion went to the rehabilitation fund to cover Yolanda-struck areas and other areas hit by past disasters.

Other realignments to the budget went to Trade Remedies Fund amounting to P4.384 billion; P10.694.754 for the incremental revenue from excise for the Department of Health; and P472.485 million for the terminal leave pay of Philippine Postal Office employees.

Escudero also said the 2015 budget has adopted the Senate version’s definition of savings in full compliance with the Supreme Court decision on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The General Appropriations Bill for 2015 has quoted en toto the entire 2013 PDAF article by the High Tribunal defining savings as “the portions or balances of any released appropriations in the GAA which have not been obligated.”

It also states that savings may result from the following: non-commencement of the program/activity/project (P/A/P) or the inability of the agency to obligate its released allotment and implement it within the period when the appropriation is valid. In the same manner, Escudero said the bicameral panel-approved 2015 budget  demands more fiscal responsibility from agencies, by adding the provision that “programmed appropriations which have not been released or allotments not obligated due to the fault of the agency concerned shall not be considered savings and shall revert to the General Fund.”

The 2015 budget is distributed as follows: Social Services, Economic Services, General Public Services, Debt Burden and Defense. /MP

52 Akeanon Families Get New Homes This Christmas

52 Akeanon Families Get New 
Homes This Christmas

Some 52 families will be celebrating their first Yuletide season on their disaster-resilient shelters given by the Diocesan Social Action Center (DSAC) of the Diocese of Kalibo under #REACHPhilippines Recovery Assistance to vulnerable communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan Project.

“The DSAC made it sure that all units of shelters followed the right resiliency features of the United Nations Shelter Cluster for the beneficiaries to stay in a safe and typhoon resilient houses. All the shelters were built with strong foundation, tied from the bottom, has strong braces, good quality materials, roofing, consideration of risks, appropriate shape and making the beneficiary and the community to better prepare  for another disaster,” Rev. Fr. Ulysses Dalida, DSAC-Kalibo Director, told the local media in a news conference.

“Right now, we have the assurance that these 52 families in Barangay Nalook, Kalibo will  celebrate their Christmas in their new homes,. Moreover, other eight barangays have their respective on-going constructions and are targeted to be turned over in January,” Fr. Dalida added.

The building of shelters is just one of the five programs under the #REACHPhilippines Projects of NASSA/Caritas Philippines  through the DSAC of the Diocese of Kalibo. The other programs are livelihood, WASH (Water, sanitation and Hygiene), Disaster Risk Reduction, and Capacity Building.

“We are very happy to see that we have helped many families before Christmas after the tragic event of Yolanda that ravaged their houses,” the priest further said.

It can be recalled that the turn-over of 52 units were conducted in Barangay Nalook in Kalibo, Aklan last November 8 in commemoration of Super Typhoon Yolanda. The blessing was presided by the Kalibo Bishop Most Rev. Jose Corazon T. Tala-oc, D.D. 

Aklan Is In A State Of Calamity
Aklan is placed under a state of calamity due to the destruction brought by Typhoon Ruby. 

Acting on the request of Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan declared Aklan in a state of calamity during a special session held on Monday morning.

A total of 15,231 families or 60,123 individuals have been evacuated in 184 barangays of the 17 towns of Aklan, according to Mr. Galo Ibardolaza of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office-Aklan.

With the said declaration, the Aklan provincial government can now utilize the remaining 30 percent or P11.6 million of the 5 percent calamity fund of Aklan, according to Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo.
The fund will be used for the relief and rescue operations of typhoon victims in the province. /MP



Alarmed by the report of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) that Filipinos had been deprived of P1.33 trillion in government revenues from 2002 to 2011 due to technical smuggling, a lawmaker has urged Congress to investigate the smuggling of plastic resins allegedly committed by big importers in the country.

 AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Representative Sharon Garin files House Resolution 1603 directing the House Committee on Ways and Means to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to ensure that revenues from resin products are properly collected by the government.

Garin is the vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

FPI identified resins, plastic packaging materials, and PVC pipes as some of the commodities being smuggled.

Technical smuggling, as opposed to outright smuggling, is the undervaluation, under declaration of the volume shipped, misclassification and diversion of cargoes.

Using names and code names, published on February 3, 2014 a list of alleged smugglers. The list was sourced from a Bureau of Customs (BOC) official who refused to be named.

In the report, plastic resin topped the list of imports subjected to technical smuggling.

Plastic resin is a key raw material used in var-ious consumer items, appliances and construction materials. It is also a main component of packaging materials for beverages and food products.

“Reports of trillions of pesos allegedly lost due to smuggling are appalling! Congress should flex its muscles to put pressure on the Customs Bureau to curb smuggling. If it has been happening for more than a decade now, there must be some officials in the BOC in cohorts with the smugglers,” Rep. Garin pointed out.

Anonymous customs official revealed in the report that there is not even a complete or concise recording of identified revenue losses due to technical smuggling happening in Philippine ports.

House Resolution 1603 aims to direct the BOC to identify in exact terms the losses allegedly incurred by the government to smuggling and the industries being affected by it to help Congress plug the policy gaps in order to help the BOC fulfill its mandate in revenue generation and port regulation.

“Undervaluation of plastic resins is hurting not just the petrochemical industry, but also the entire Philippine economy. For this, Congress must investigate the big importers named in the newspaper report. BOC officials must also be called to explain why burglary in such a scandalous magnitude continues to happen,” Rep. Garin said. /MP

NGCP inaugurates Panay Area Control Center

NGCP inaugurates 
Panay Area Control Center
(L-R, front row) Mr. Raymund Fontillas, Financial Controller; Atty. Karen Ong, Corporate Secretary; Mr. Ma Ruoxin, NGCP Board Director, and, Mr. Santiago Dimaliwat IV, Deputy Assistant Chief Technical Officer for System Operations, leading the ribbon-cutting of the Panay Area Control Center, together with Atty. Cynthia Perez-Alabanza, Spokesperson and Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department (2nd row extremely left) and System Operations managers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

“NGCP recognizes Panay’s potential, and NGCP is ready to respond to Panay’s growth.” This is NGCP President and CEO Henry Sy, Jr.’s message to customers in the area during the inauguration of the system operator’s Panay Area Control Center (ACC) in Iloilo recently.

Serving as a nerve center, the Area Control Center enables the system operator to monitor the grid situation in real-time and under all circumstances. The new control center in NGCP’s Sta. Barbara Substation houses top-of-the-line SCADA system and telecom equipment. It serves as satellite office of the Visayas System Operations.

“With this facility, our customers are assured of a more secure and efficient monitoring and control system for transmission facilities serving the area, particularly in places of interest for tourists and investors alike” stated Mr. Sy.

The Panay ACC’s inauguration came a week after NGCP marked another milestone with the completion and inauguration of the Bohol Backbone Transmission Project. The projects are part of NGCP’s 2015 corporate goal of achieving an entirely improved power transmission system.

NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations, and related assets. The consortium holds the 25-year concession to operate the country’s power transmission network. It is comprised of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp., led by Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corporation, led by Robert Coyiuto, Jr., and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) as technical partner. /MP

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Agri Dept Holds Race To Promote RICEponsibility

Agri Dept Holds Race 
To Promote RICEponsibility

In support to the nationwide promotion of responsible rice consumption, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office 6 has conducted a 3-kilometer Run4RICEponsibility at the Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand on November 29, 2014.

The Run4RICEponsibility is part of the National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM) celebration this November in pursuant to Proclamation No. 524 issued in 2004. 

The 2014 NRAM theme “We are RICEponsible” calls the active cooperation of all sectors to attain rice self-sufficiency and responsible rice consumption for better health, less wastage, and productive farming. 

DA 6 Regional Executive Director Larry P. Nacionales urged consumers to diversify their dietary intake by eating other food staples like white corn, banana, cassava, sweet potato, and adlai. He further suggested to the participants to eat brown rice or pinawa which is proven to be more nutritious than milled white rice. 

More than 600 advocates joined the fun run. Winners for the male, 39 years old and below category are  Ramonito Cuelbar, Jonas Daligdig and Chris Bacla-an from the private sector; for the male, 40 years old and above category include Ilmar Elardo of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Margarito Villa Gracia of Traffic Management and Transport Regulation Office and Agustin Sigre of Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). 

Meanwhile, for the female 39 years old and below category, winners are Ronylen Sigre of PPA, Rona Salvacion from the private sector, and Rodylen Sigre from the PPA. For the female 40 years old and above category, Evelyn Oren and VeraglenTropico of DA RFO 6, and Florence Robinson of the National Food Authority clinched the first, second and third slots, respectively. /MP

PAPI Joins National Greening Program

PAPI Joins National 
Greening Program

CORDON, Isabela -- The Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PAPI) has joined the government’s National Greening Program, initially with a recent tree-planting outing at its two-hectare farm at Sitio Estampa, Quirino, Cordon, Isabela.

PAPI Region II coordinator Jessica Bacud and PAPI Board director for Luzon and Isabela chapter president MacArthur Daguro coordinated the tree planting activity with the local DENR-CENRO office, the Office of the Isabela Provincial Governor and the Cordon Local Government Unit.

DENR personnel led by CENRO Mindo Aquino, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from the Mariano Marcos National High School led by Scout Master Danny dela Cruz, Cordon employees, Isabela PIA personnel led by Merlito Edale, other local volunteer groups, and local PAPI members led by Daguro and Bacud participated in the tree planting activities.

PAPI Executive Vice President Johnny C. Nunez motored up to Isabela to support and participate in the activity. With him were PAPI national treasurer Nelson Santos, CALABARZON Herald Group publisher Nena Mallari, and staff personnel Carmela Cruz and Andrew Amores,

Louie Ariola, PAPI national president said their PAPI’s decision to join the government’s National Greening Program is an expression of a core value which PAPI treasures, and for which they have tasked their Isabela Chapter to pursue the Cordon project seriously as part of its corporate social responsibility for sound environmental care.

In his brief remarks at the event’s simple opening rites on-site, PAPI EVP Nunez said the bald mountainsides of the Cordilleras should not spell hopelessness for Filipinos, “but should instead pose a challenge for us to rectify our past errors and resolve to ensure the survival of our future generations and of posterity by helping restore our lost forest cover.” He recalled the vast successful reforestation projects he had personally seen in Guangxi Province, Southern China.

Nunez said PAPI plans to plant more bamboos as part of its NGP involvement. He noted that with the ASEAN Integration in 2015, bamboos could be raw materials for signature Philippine products for the ASEAN common market of over 600 million consumers.

The PAPI tree farm in Cordon, Isabela is awarded to the media organization during its 18thNational Press Congress held in Cauayan City in February 2014, hosted by the PAPI Isabela chapter. The area forms part of the base of the Cordillera Mountain range. Isabela Gov. Faustino G. Dy III has pledged his support for the project.

Daguro and Bacud said the recent tree planting activity is just an initial move of their group. “We intend to pursue this initiative as tasked and mandated by our national PAPI leadership,” they stressed. They also thanked DENR for the Mahogany and Narra seedlings planted, and Cordon Mayor Laurencio Zuniega for providing transportation for the participants to the tree farm site and back.

The NGP seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees in about 1.5 million hectares of denuded forest lands over six years from 2011 to 2016. /MP

Save the Children Names Mikael Daez and Kylie Padilla As Official Filipino Ambassadors

Save the Children Names Mikael Daez and Kylie Padilla As Official Filipino Ambassadors

GMA Artist Center stars Mikael Daez and Kylie Padilla are the first Filipino representatives of Save the Children.  They join international ambassadors Hollywood A-listers Jennifer Garner and Julianne Moore, football star Cristiano Ronaldo and distinguished stylist/editor/fashion designer Rachel Zoe in promoting the advocacy that aims to provide both emergency and long-term support to improve the quality of life for children.

Mikael shares that being chosen as one of the first Pinoy ambassadors of Save the Children is such an honor and fulfils his dream to help an advocacy close to his heart. “I always want to help children. All children should be able to dream about what they want to be when they grow up. Save the Children’s work means that more children can have those dreams. I am excited about the opportunity to work alongside this amazing charity and am privileged to be able to use my work for this excellent cause.”

Meanwhile, Kylie is eager to take on her new role as ambassador of a children’s organization. “It is a privilege to be a representative of Save the Children and be given the opportunity to help children in need, especially typhoon Yolanda survivors. I want to do whatever I can to help provide them everything they need so they can recover from their experiences and reach their full potential.” 

In the coming days, Mikael and Kylie together with some of the staff of Save the Children will visit Yolanda-affected communities in Tacloban to meet some of the survivors of the typhoon. Save the Children has already reached nearly 800,000 people in some of the ‘Yolanda’ hit areas providing them with emergency life-saving aid and long-term support for livelihood programs that will sustain their everyday living.

Save the Children’s Country Director, Ned Olney, shares that they are happy to be working with passionate Kapuso stars. “Save the Children is delighted to have such passionate engaged young people working with us as we strive to give every child in the Philippines the best start in life. We hope that our relationship with Kylie and Mikael will give us the opportunity to reach many more children and save even more lives.”  /MP

Aklanons Long For The Services Of Fernandez

Aklanons Long For The Services Of Fernandez
By Ambrosio R. Villorente

“Congratulations to Mr. Antonio “Tony” Fernandez for being assigned in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR-74) in Zarraga, Iloilo. May you enjoy very much in your new assignment serving the people there as you have served the people in your previous assignment in Aklan.”

These are some of the messages Tony Fernandez’ family, relatives, and friends sent him after he left Kalibo upon his assumption of duty of his new assignment in the BIR-74 as Revenue Officer IV, Zarraga, Iloilo.

“Since you left BIR-71, Kalibo, Aklan, the people transacting business with BIR had been missing your fair, prompt, and friendly services. The Aklanons are hoping you come back soon to Kalibo to resume your excellent services to the people.” These are some of the comments from some Aklanons.

I am not surprise if Mr. Tony Fernandez is well loved by the people he served in Aklan. I found him, amiable, friendly, courteous, prompt and fair in his dealings with the people especially with BIR clients.

He finished BS in Commerce (cum laude) in Aklan College, Kalibo and passed the board examination for Certified Public Accountant given by the Professional Regulatory Commission.

Fernandez started his accounting career with the University of the Philippines, Manila as Accountant on June 16, 1982. In his desire to serve his people in Aklan, he transferred to the Agricultural Training Institute, ASU, Banga, Aklan on Dec. 16, 1988 as administrative officer II.

He did not stay long with the Agricultural Training Institute for he was invited by a friend to file his application for employment with the BIR. His application was accepted on September 3, 1990. Mr. Fernandez transferred to the BIR where he is now serving as Revenue Officer IV assigned in BIR-74, Zarraga, Iloilo.

Fernandez is a member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Government Association of Certified Public Accountants.

For his loyalty, diligence, and honesty in the service, Mr. Antonio Fernandez was awarded as the “Bureau of Internal Revenue Model Employee in 2006. /MP



As part of the government’s commitment to provide accessible and sufficient healthcare services throughout the country, Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said in the 2015 national budget, the Department of Health and its attached agencies will get P90.21 billion allocation to carry out projects and programs that will benefit the Filipinos.

The Congress, however, is still looking to augment the health budget to incorporate programs that will be funded by sin tax budget collection.

The unrelenting pursuit of the administration for reforms to improve transparency and accountability in public institutions bring forth economic gains that adequately fund the basic health needs of the society, said Guingona.

Out of the P90.21 DOH budget for 2015, P37.06 billion will be for the payment of the full health insurance premium of the following: a) indigent families under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the DSWD; b) Poor and low-income enrolees, other than indigent families identified by DSWD; c) Indigent barangay officials; and d) senior citizens as mandated by the newly-signed law, Republic Act 10645 which mandates automatic Philhealth coverage of senior citizens throughout the country.

Sen. Guingona noted that P1 billion will be allocated to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center to ensure the structural integrity of its facilities and to improve the delivery of services to children needing special health care.

To address the need for additional medical personnel in government health institutions, the 2015 budget will fund P4.3 billion to hire 398 doctors, 13,500 nurses, 2,700 midwives and 480 dentists vital for the government’s goal to achieve better health services in both urban and rural areas.

A total of P129.03 million is allocated to fund the payment of Philhealth premiums of former rebels identified under the PAMANA and the Sajahatra Bangsamoro programs of the government.

The Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) will get P13.1 billion where P10.337 billion will be allotted for the construction, rehabilitation and upgrading of 1,660 barangay health stations, 475 rural health units and city health centers, 168 local government unit hospitals, 66 hospitals under DOH and 11 treatment and rehabilitation centers. Some P2.771 billion will be allocated for the procurement of quality hospital equipment. 

The 2015 budget will also fund an additional P500 million for the Quick Response Fund,  a standby fund to be used for the repair and rehabilitation of health facilities and equipment, as well as provision of emergency medical assistance in areas stricken by calamities, epidemics and catastrophes. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Ro Gahum Ni Elijah
Ni Tita Linda Belayro

Pagkataliwan it tatlong dag-on nga tag gutom sa kaharian ni Haring Ahab, guin tawag it Diyos si Elijah. Guin sugo imaw nga mag-atubang sa hari ag hambaeon nga pagapunduhon eon rong gutom ag padaehan pa sanda it uean. Imbis nga magpasaeamat ro hari, guin basoe pa nana si Elijah nga imaw rong dahilan it gutom sa anang kaharian.

Mas naakig pag guid ro hari nga tipunon ro anang mga sakup kaibahan ko anang 850 ka mga peke nga mga pari. Sa tunga kong mga pomoeoyo, guin padumdum ni Elijah “hin-uno pa kinyo maduea ro inyong pagduha duha? Hin-uno pa magmukeat ro inyong mga mata sa kamatuoran? Owa guid it nag-apin kay Elijah ag guinhibaygan eang imaw kong mga peke nga Pari ni Ahab. 

Guin ayat ni Elijah rong mga peke nga pari. Nangayo imaw it pilang bilog nga baka agod ihaead sa andang Diyos-Diyos. Kon matuod ro andang guina tu-ohan nga Diyos, pagapadaehan sanda it kaeayo agod sunugon ro andang haead. Guin himo rong tanan ko mga peke nga pari, halin sa agahon hasta mahapon nga pagpangamuyo sa andang Diyos nga si Baal, ogaling owa guid it kaeayo nga nana-og.

Makaron, si Elijah eon man rong nagpakita ko anang gahum. Guin hueay hueay nana rong pilang ka baka ag guin pabubu-an pa it tubi ro karne. Nagpangamuyo si Elijah nga ipakita ro anang gahum agod magapati ro mga tawo. 

Ma-angan angan, nanaog rong kaeayo halin sa eangit ag kinaon rong tanan nga kutob haead. Hakita kong tanan ro natabo. Naakig rong asawa ni Ahab nga si Jezebel. Guinpadakop si Elijah agod patyon. Nanago si Elijah sa kagueangan ag idto guinbuhos nana rong kasakit ko anang baeatyagon. 

Maskin guinpakita eon sa tawo rong gahum it Diyos, imaw guid lang rong isaeahanon nga naga-tuo sa buhi nga Diyos. Guin paeogpay it Diyos si Elijah. Guin padaehan imaw it anghel nga may pagkaon. Una anay imaw nagtener sa kagueangan agod makapahuway ag makapuwasa. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ombudsman Suspends PNP 
Chief Purisima

It does not matter who the person is if he violates and gravely violates the laws, legal orders, rules and regulations, he will be asked to answer and pay for the violations.

PNP Director General Alan LM Purisima and 14 other ranking police officers and those police employees are placed under preventive suspension for six (6) months without pay for their alleged sales of AK-47 assualt rifles to the communist rebels and for hiring the services of courier for the door-to-door delivery of firearms licenses in a contract alleged to be anomalous according to the report published in the Manila Bulletin, Dec. 5, 2014 issues.

The suspension order from the Ombudsman came when General Purisima was out of the Philippines on Wednsday, Dec. 3, 2014. He was in Saudi Arabia for one week travel. Hence, Gen. Purisima is “out of town, out of post.” Purisima went to Saudi Arabia to meet with law enforcement officials to promote cooperation against transnational crimes. He will return on Tuesday, Dec. 9 according to Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesperson. But Purisima, the most powerful man in the PNP will arrive in the Philippines without his post in the PNP.

The suspension orders were transmitted by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio to DILG Sec. Mar Roxas for implementation within five days. Malacanang Palace reacted to the order, “it will comply with Ombudsman’s order.”

Other officials who are suspended with General Purisima for allegedly contracting the services of WERFAST are: Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, Allan Parreno, Eduardo Acierto, Melchor Reyes, Lenbell Fabia, Sonia Calisto, Chief Inspectors Nelson Bautista, Ford Tuazon, and Ricardo Zapata. Due to their respective retirements, three police Directors are excluded from the suspension order. They are police Directors Gil Meneses and Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles and Tomas Rentoy II.

“Purisima’s suspension stemmed from his alleged participation in the controversial WERFAST courier service contract,” said Deputy Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan. Their suspension will stay pending result of the administrative investigation.

The investigation on WERFAST started from an anonymous complaint stating that Purisima and other PNP Officials pocketed the money from the mandatory delivery fees gun owners paid in securing their gun licenses via an agreement entered into by the PNP in the delivery of firearms license cards.
“While other delivery service companies charged only an average delivery fee of less than P100, WERFAST charged much higher delivery rate of P190 within Metro Manila and P290 for the provincial deliveries,” initial findings show.

AK-47 Riffles Sales
In the case of the alleged missing and sale of AK-47 rifles to the New Peoples Army rebels, suspended are Police Chief Supts. Petrasanto and Regino Catiis, Police Supts. Eduardo Acierto, Allan Parreno, Nelson Bautista, Ricky Sumalde, Chief Inspectors Ricardo Zapata, and Rodrigo Sarmiento, SPO1 Eric Tan, and SPO1 Randy de Sesto and NCO Nora Pirate, Sol Bargan, and Erique Dela Cruz.

The recovery of some firearms by army soldiers from communist rebels in Mindanao who were either captured or killed in action in military skirmishes led to the investigation on the missing and sales of Russian made riffles.

The CIDG investigation shows that four private security agencies and a mining company were issued more than 1000 firearms licenses by the PNP through falsified application. According to the Omdudsman, the firearms recovered from the field matched with the serial numbers of rifles issued to the security agencies, according to the Manila Bulletin report.

Gen. Purisima’s six months suspension maybe taken as his early retirement for in November 2015 will be his mandatory retirement age.

Moreover, Gen. Purisima is facing another problem. He has still to answer the alleged corruption on the construction of the White House, the official residence of the PNP Chief inside Camp Crame. He must also justify and explain the source of funds or the manner of acquisition of his alleged undeclared property in Nueva Ecija. /MP



Loss of lives, properties and livelihood, fear for safety, survival, and of what the future holds. 

These are the many issues being faced by thousands of Filipinos whenever a country is hit by a natural or man-made disaster.

From the crisis brought by the Zamboanga City siege, the devastating earthquakes in Bohol and Cebu, Typhoon Yolanda destruction in Tacloban City, Aklan, and many parts in the Visayas, to the looming Typhoon Hagupit, and Mayon Volcano eruption in Albay. These events only show that the Philippines is prone to all kinds of natural calamities and man-made conflicts. The people who are caught in between these unfortunate scenarios should be assisted immediately and sufficiently.

How can the government address the plight of these people, and empower them to have their lives and dignity back?

As a Mindanaoan who experienced and witnessed the havoc brought by both natural and man-made disasters, Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III is pushing for the passage of the bill that aims to promote and protect the rights and dignity of internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout the Philippines.

Senate Bill No. 2368, otherwise known as “An Act Protecting The Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Penalizing The Acts of Arbitrary Internal Displacement,” proposes that the government should adopt as a State policy a rights-based approach to internal displacement. The bill promotes and protects the rights of IDPs in situations of armed conflict, generalized and/organized violence, clan wars (like in Libacao, Aklan), violations of human rights, implementation of development projects and human-made hazards.

“Internal displacement is a common phenomenon in the Philippines brought about mostly by long-standing insurgencies, as well as natural and man-made calamities, among others. Involuntary displacement is a serious social problem that needs to be addressed as it results in loss of lives and properties, psychological trauma, family disintegration, disruption in education, loss of employment, anarchy, and over-all vulnerability, among others,” he said.

Sen. Guingona has set a public hearing on November 27, Thursday for the proposed IDP measure to look for viable solutions on the different problems and concerns faced by thousands of displaced people throughout the country.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are still 38,000 people who are still displaced in Zamboanga City. In the Visayas, there are still 25,000 people who are living in transitional sites that still require inter-sectoral assistance, and another 95,000 households (475,000 people) are living in unsafe or inadequate makeshift shelters. In Albay, there are 53,000 evacuees living in 50 evacuation centers.

The issues on food and water safety, privacy, rape, trafficking, prostitution, and shelter, among others are the concerns that affect the IDPs, especially the women, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Sen. Guingona’s bill proposes to address the many conditions now being faced by many of our countrymen in different parts of the Philippines.

“IDPs should not be considered merely as ‘collateral damage’ of armed conflict or other humanitarian emergencies, as each one of us has a stake in human security and development. It is also sobering to note that every person in the Philippines is susceptible to becoming an IDP,” Sen. Guingona stressed. /MP



Senator Chiz Escudero said there are enough safeguards in the 2015 spending package crafted by the Senate to ensure that lump sum items will be used properly.

Escudero allayed fears that the lump sum items in next year’s budget veil pork items for legislators, saying that the Senate-approved budget is compliant with the Supreme Court decision on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and that measures are in place to deter abuse.

“There are really lump sum items in the budget but it is different from having pork. These items are really necessary and give the government the necessary flexibility,” Escudero explained. “But these lump sums were made temporary only because we require them, just very much like what we did in 2014, to submit special budget in accordance with the Revised Administrative Code.”

He said the High Court itself did not declare lump sum as unconstitutional, only the post-intervention of legislators which the Senate has addressed.

Escudero said in Sec. 63 of the GAA, lump sum appropriations shall be released upon compliance with the requirements under special provisions which will be submitted to Congress. It shall include the complete details of the programs, activities and projects covering the lump sum appropriations.

In the Senate’s budget version, the total lump sum items amount to P1.862 trillion. The total programmed appropriation is P1.734 trillion, and total unprogrammed allocation is P123.056 billion.

Lump sum appropriations under the Programmed Funds include Contingency Fund or standby fund for unforeseen events - P2 billion; Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program to complement the expenses based on the recommendation of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery - P20 billion; E-Government Fund for interconnectivity and ICT requirements of all government agencies - P1 billion; and International Committees Fund - P10.7 billion.

 It also includes P90.4 billion for the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund which covers the benefits of government workers; P14 billion for National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund; P127.1 billion for Pension and Gratuity Fund to cover the standby fund for those who will retire from government service.

 Among the items under the Unprogrammed Funds are the AFP Modernization, Additional Subsidy to Napocor, the proposed supplemental budget for Rehabilitation Fund amounting to P20 billion, P9 billion for MRT3 acquisition, and P3 billion Trade Remedies Fund.

Escudero explained that the Unprogrammed Funds can be funded only when the state revenues exceed the target for the fiscal year. “It is a standby authority on the part of the Executive to spend money only when there is excess in the revenue collection.”

“In accordance with the DAP decision of the High Court, it is necessary to secure certification from the National Treasury that there is exist money in the Treasury. 

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene for the bicameral conference on Tuesday, December 2 to reconcile their budget versions. /MP



Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Saudi death row has been spared from beheading after his victim’s legal heirs forgave him for his crime.

Binay also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to expedite the release of the blood money so OFW Jonard Langamin can spend Christmas with his family.

Langamin is currently detained at the Dammam Reformatory Jail who needs to settle the blood money demanded by his victim’s heirs.

Once the needed amount has been given to the victim’s family, Judge Sheikh Ahmad Najmi Al Otaibe of the Dammam High Court will schedule a marathon hearing for the closure of the public right aspect of the case and eventually decide on Langamin’s immediate deportation.

The private right aspect of the case concerns the negotiations between the family of the victim and the accused. Meanwhile, the public right aspect of the case represents the criminal liability of the accused to the state.

Langamin is a seafarer who was charged with murder before the Dammam High Court in Saudi Arabia for killing a fellow Filipino, Robertson Mendoza in 2008.

Mendoza’s family initially asked P5 million as blood money, which was lowered to P2 million after Binay reconciled both families during a meeting at the Coconut Palace.

Langamin was expected to be released in March 2012 after Mendoza’s father signed an affidavit of forgiveness. The court, however, ruled that Mendoza’s mother, Rosemarie Santiago, should be the official representative of the family.

According to Binay, on November 3, Judge Sheikh Ahmad Najmi Al Otaibe accepted the affidavit presented by Santiago and as a result, Langamin will no longer be beheaded.

Meanwhile, Binay assured other detained Filipino workers abroad that the government continues to monitor their cases and strives to secure their freedom. /MP

GMA Network Partners With KASAFI For Ati-Atihan 2015

GMA Network Partners With 
KASAFI For Ati-Atihan 2015

Present in the partnership signing are (l to r): KASAFI Vice Chairman Lilibeth T. Goboy; KASAFI Chairman Albert A. Meñez; GMA Regional TV First Vice President Rikki O. Escudero; GMA Regional TV AVP & Head of Regional Strategy and Business Development Division Oliver Victor B. Amoroso; and GMA Western Visayas Station Manager Jonathan V. Cabillon.

For the fifth consecutive year, GMA Network, Inc. sealed a partnership with the  Municipality  of  Kalibo  and Kalibo’s Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan Foundation, Inc. (KASAFI) to mount one of the country’s highly anticipated festivals—the Ati-Atihan 2015.

The MOA Signing held last November 13 at the studio of GMA TV Iloilo, formalized GMA’s role as the Strategic Partner of the events and festivities slated for the “Mother of all Philippine Festivals.” Through the partnership, GMA is scheduled to promote Ati-Atihan 2015 across the country thereby making every Filipino a witness to the grand celebration.

GMA’s participation in 2015 promises to be more special as it brings the Network’s prime stars, led by no less than  Asia ‘s Songbird Regine Velasquez-Alcasid. It is expected to be an “all-party and all-positive vibe,” highlighted by lively production numbers for the enjoyment of all Kapusong Aklanons. /MP



Millions of Filipino workers in offices and factories will take home the full amount of their “13th month pay and other benefits” as both chambers of Congress formally agreed to set the tax exempt ceiling at P82,000.

The House of Representatives adopted Senate Bill 2437 as its own version of the proposal. In a 14-0 vote, the Senators approved on third and final reading the bill raising the tax cap for the 13th-month pay and other benefits from P30,000 to P82,000.

House Committee on Ways and Means Vice Chairman Sharon S. Garin supports the move of her fellow lawmakers to adopt the senate version.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said in one of the senate hearings that P30,000 in 1994 would be worth around P82,000 today; hence, the basis of the senate version raising the tax exemption.

“Teachers, factory workers, call center agents, and other wage earners should be given time-off from tax burdens at the end of the year. Less deduction from the take-home pay of employees would boost their purchasing power which would translate to economic growth,” said Rep. Garin.

Only President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s signature is needed before employees and workers can benefit from the tax exemption.

Once signed into a law, the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue will craft the implementing rules and regulations.

Rep. Garin thinks that the tax drain from the tax exemption will be compensated by increases in corporate income tax, VAT and indirect taxes because consumers will spend more. /MP

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Drilon Urges Bike Lanes On Roads On National Bicycle Day

Drilon Urges Bike Lanes 
On Roads On National Bicycle Day

As the country celebrates its first National Bicycle Day on November 23, Sen. Pres. Franklin M. Drilon reiterated his challenge for heads of local government units (LGUs) and the DPWH to start making major roads friendlier to bikers and other travelers using environmentally-sound forms of transportation.  

Drilon made the statement as a coalition of private and public groups are spearheading the 1st National Bicycle Day, a nationwide event where cyclists from North and South Metro Manila, Pampanga, Iloilo and Davao will conduct simultaneous rides throughout major roads in their localities.

Drilon said that the government must be more serious about promoting biking and non-motorized forms of mobility which “is a sound method of reducing traffic and air pollution.”

“I agree with every Filipino who has made biking their means of transport and hobby and that not only it promotes a healthier lifestyle, it can also provide some answers to our transportation and environmental woes,” he said. 

Drilon said, the government should not ignore biking as a potent way of bringing down the levels of air and noise pollution in metropolitan areas:  “Considering the benefits and rewards of biking, we should adopt it as part of our anti-pollution strategy.”

Such a strategy is neither “impractical nor impossible,” noting that examples of bicycle-friendly road systems already exist in the country.

“This is the case for several road projects in Iloilo, such as the road-widening project along the 10-km Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue in Iloilo, a six-lane highway, a pedestrian lane and a 5-m paved bike lane extending from the Jaro District, Iloilo City to the Iloilo International Airport,” Drilon noted. 

Furthermore, he explained how a 14-km circumferential road connecting Arevalo District in Iloilo City and the coastal road in Dumangas town in Iloilo, “was designed to include a 2-meter painted bike lane throughout its entire span.” 

“What is really necessary is the cooperation and commitment between local leaders and national agencies, along with strong grassroots support, to effect these type of environmental reforms,” Drilon said. /MP



Filipino farmers troubled by poor harvests due to poor irrigation will soon have more than 10,000 rainwater harvesting systems they need with the passage of House Bill 4539 authored by AAMBIS-Owa party-list Representative Sharon S. Garin.

The consolidated bill of the House of Representatives, HB 4539, awaits the Senate version of the bill on soil and water conservation.

The House Committee on Agriculture’s consolidated bill is largely based on Garin’s proposal.

HB 4539 or the proposed Soil and Water Conservation Act seeks to establish at least 10,000 rainwater harvesting systems and a thousand Soil and Water Conversion Guided Farms across the country.

These farm support systems are meant to save water and mitigate the destructive power of heavy rain and flashfloods to farms.

“So instead of the farmers fearing heavy rains engulfing their farmlands, farmers will begin to take advantage of the massive adequate rainwater harvesting facilities to collect water which will be used to sustain production during dry spell,” Rep. Garin said.

State-weather bureau PAGASA said the Philippines has an average annual rainfall of 2,400 millimeters more than enough to meet the demand for crop production.

“However, this amount of rainfall is not evenly distributed throughout the year in most parts of the country. There is too much rainfall in some areas resulting to severe soil erosion and flooding; while in other parts of the country, there is too little rain to support crop production especially during summer,” Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) Soil Conservation and Management Division Chief Sammy Contreras said.

The funding of this will come from the budget of the Department of Agriculture. BSWM supports the passage of the bill, saying that most watersheds across the nation are already deteriorating due to indiscriminate logging and slash-and-burn (kaingin) practices. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

by Tita Linda Belayro

Samtang naga pamasyar si Prinsesa Betty sa isaeang ka busay, nadumpilas imaw bosa nahueog ag inapok sa liwan it palasyo. Nag-kagulo sa palasyo. Guin inusoy imaw ogaling owa guid makita. Sa uwa magbuhay, guin bilang imaw nga patay.

Inanod sa isaeang ka isla. Naduea-an man it alinto ag guinsapopo ko mag-asawa nga owa man it unga. Bangod owa man hikilaea, guin hingaeanan imaw kay Rhoda. Nagdaeaga imaw ogaling owa pa guihapon magbalik ro anang nakataliwan.

Samtang nagapaha-um imaw ko anang leksyon, nabasahan nana rong historya it isaeang ka kaharian nga may naduea nga prinsesa. May kon anong kusog nga naga tueod kana nga adtunan rondayang kaharian nga sa tabok eamang ko rondayang isla. Sayod ni Princesa Betty rong pasikot sikot ko rondayang palasyo. Bo-ot nana nga sudlon ogaling guin sita imaw it gwardya. Nag-libot imaw ag naka-abot sa idaeum it palasyo. Iya imaw dati nagapalipas it oras pagkatapos it hampang. Nagsueod imaw ag nagderetso sa may piresuhan. May hakita imaw nga guin preso nga mag-asawa. Hakibot imaw kat anang makita nga rong marka ko anang abaga hay kapares man ko marka sa kulentas ko eaeaki. 

Nagpaeapit imaw ag guin pakita nana ro anang marka sa anang abaga. Nagkilaea sanda ag nagpromesa nga pagabuligan nana ro anang ina ag ama. Guinpreso ro anang ama kat nagmasakit sa pagkaduea ko anang unga. Guin eogos rong kaharian ko anang tiyo nga ministro.

Pagkaguwa nana sa piresuhan, nagdiretso si Prinsesa Betty sa ministrong hari. Nagpakilaea imaw nga imaw rong nadueang prinsesa. Owa imaw pagpatihe. Ogaling pagbo-oe nana ko anang balabal ag guin pakita rong escudo it kaharian, tanan ro una sa palasyo hay nagpati. 

Anang guin mandu-an ro mga guwardya nga dakpon rong hari. Nag tuman rong tanan. Guin paguwa rong hari ag reyna agod ipabueong. Nag-uli anay imaw sa andang baeay sa isla ag sueangon rong ina ag ama. Nagbakod rong hari ag reyna. Nagbalik rong mayad nga pagdumaea it hari. Nag balik man ro anang nakataliwan ag imaw rong mabahoe nga kabulig sa palasyo nga naga bantay sa hari ag reyna. /MP

Senate Okays P82k Tax Exemption Hike For Bonuses

Senate Okays P82k Tax 
Exemption Hike For Bonuses

Employees from both private and public sectors can expect bigger take home-pay soon, with the Senate’s approval of a bill seeking to raise the tax exemption ceiling of 13th-month pay and other benefits from P30,000 to P82,000.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, co-author and sponsor of Senate Bill 2437, said, “once the bill is enacted into law, employees receiving 13th-month pay and other benefits, including Christmas and productivity bonuses, not exceeding P82,000 will be exempted from tax.”

The original bill pegged the ceiling for tax-exempt bonuses at P75, 000. It was raised to P82, 000 upon the proposal of Senator Ralph Recto during plenary deliberations. Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means accepted Recto’s amendment. His proposal was the “same figure given by internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Hernares during one of the hearings on SB 2437.

Henares said, “ the P30, 000 in 1994 would be worth around P82,000 today.”

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon concurred as the bill’s passage is necessary “to provide relief to state and private workers whose purchasing power has been shrinking for years due to inflation.”

When the P30,000 tax ceiling was first legislated in 1994, Angara explained, the basic salary of a government employee in the lowest rank was P3,800 a month while that of the President was P25,000. The ceiling, he noted, had not been adjusted in 20 years although Congress had legislated other measures to soften the impact of inflation on the workers.

More importantly, Angara said, SB 2437 had included a provision “that the adjustment be made mandatorily every three years to coincide with major surveys conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority such as the Family and Income Expenditure Survey.”

Recto, principal author of the bill, said the peso had lost two-thirds of its value over the past 20 years. The equivalent of one peso in 1994, he said, was 36 centavos today. 

“When the 17-year-old Bam Aquino sipped his first beer in 1994, Pale Pilsen cost P8.50 a bottle. Of course, Sen. Sonny Angara, on vacation from his London studies then, and if he were to borrow one of his dad’s cars, he would have paid P8.50 for a liter of gasoline,” Recto said in his co-sponsorship speech.

While some experts estimated that government would lose around P42 billion in taxes with the enactment of SB 2437 into law, Recto argued that there was no basis for the computation.

A more reasonable computation of tax loss, he said, was estimated by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies at P2.6 billion and Dr. Stella Quimbo of the University of the Philippine School of Economics at P5.6 billion.

“But whatever is the revenue loss for the government is actually income gained for the workingman. And even if his 13th month pay is tax exempt upon receipt, it will be taxable when spent,” Recto said, adding that taxes not withheld at source will later be captured in the form of sales tax at points of sales.

For the speedy implementation of the law, Drilon had also introduced an amendment to the bill stating that “the failure of the Secretary of Finance to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations shall not prevent the effectivity of the law.” 

“This is because it is up to the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to come up with the implementing rules and regulations when this law is passed, and they may not have enough time to accomplish that in time. But surely, the law will be fully implemented next year,” the Senate leader noted.

For Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid Jr., “increasing the cap of exemption on the 13th month pay and other benefits from income tax would increase the disposable income of the working class.” Increased income tax exemption will stimulate consumption.

“All reasons to increase the cap for the tax exemption on the 13th month and other benefits points to one thing: to enhance the welfare of the working class,” Lapid added. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Does Metro Kalibo 
Legally Exist?
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

The “Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved the schedule of New Base Market Values of Real Properties for the 17 municipalities of Aklan to be effective starting January 2015,” Mr. Odon S. Bandiola, SP Secretary reported.

The SP’s approval includes special base market valuation of real properties in the resort island of Boracay, Caticlan, Malay, Barangay Union in Nabas, and Metro Kalibo composed of Poblacion, Estancia, Andagao, and New Buswang, Mr. Bandiola reported further.

Are the Poblacion, Estancia, Andagao, and New Buswang legally organized and called Metro Kalibo? Metro Kalibo has special base market valuation of real estate properties and most probably much comparatively higher than in any place in Aklan. And one of the reasons why the four barangays in the Municipality of Kalibo are called Metro Kalibo is to assess higher base market valuation of real properties, hence higher taxes to be paid.

However, is it legal to name a place like Metro Kalibo without a law or ordinance approved by offices concerned for purposes of taxation?

SP Honors Precious Day
During one of their Regular Sessions, the Aklan SP members praised and honored an 8 year old Precious Day Ame Yecla.

Precious Day is a grade III pupil in St. Dominic School, Kalibo, Aklan. She won gold and silver medals in the chess standard category and two silvers in the rapid and blitz categories during the 15th ASEAN Age Group Chess Championship held at Cotal Central, Macau, China.

In recognition of her accomplishments in sports, Gov. Florencio T. Miraflores, Cong. Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr. and Vice Gov. Gabrielle V. Calizo-Quimpo conferred upon Precious Day Ame Yecla Certificates of Recognition recently.

Precious Day is one of the children of Mr. Yusi Seraspi Yecla of Polo, Banga and Mrs. Georalin Ame Yecla of Mobo, Kalibo, Aklan.

Arbor Day In Aklan
Through General Ordinance No. 006 S., 2014, the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has fixed every third Friday of August starting 2014 and thereafter as Arbor Day in the entire Province of Aklan, according to Mr. Odon S. Bandiola, SP Secretary.

The Arbor Day Ordinance in Aklan was approved by the provincial legislative body during its 20th regular session on June 18, 2014 pursuant to Republic Act No. 10176 known as the Arbor Day Act of 2012 and its Implementating Rules and Regulations.

The said provincial ordinance mandates all local chief executives in the province to constitute and activate Arbor Day Committee in their respective levels and jurisdiction with the Local Environment and Natural Resources Office, the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Education and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office as lead agencies in the yearly observance.
The lead agencies and participating instrumentalities shall formulate plan and implementation strategies in the observance of Arbor Day to include subsequent action plans to sustain programs like the Greening Plan and the planting and maintenance of trees.

The ordinance authorizes local government units to appropriate funds for the purpose of utilize existing allowable and relevant outlays in their respective annual budget.

Other government departments mandated to participate in the Arbor Day Observance and continuing programs are the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Tourism, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippine, Philippine Coconut Authority, Civil Society Organizations, Liga ng mga Barangay and Media organizations. /MP