Thursday, June 25, 2009


The Youth: Fair Hope of our Motherland
by Dr. Jaime B. Veneracion
Editor’s Note: Dr. Veneracion is former Chairperson, History Department, UP Diliman, Quezon City. He is author of several history books. This editorial is published in commemoration of the 148th birth anniversary of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal on June 19.

There are two famous quotations attributed to Rizal and for which he has been known: 1. "The youth is the fair hope of the motherland..." (A la Juventud Filipina, Ma. Corona S. Romero et al, Rizal and the Development of Consciousness, p 102) 2. "...Our talented men have died without bequeathing to us nothing more than the fame of their name... Dr. Pilapil, Fr. Pelaez, Fr. Mariano Garcia, Dr. Joson, Benedicto Luna, Lorenzo Francisco and more. Nevertheless [what] all these men have studied, learned and discovered will die with them and end in them and we shall recommence the study of life. There is then individual progress or improvement in the Philippines, but there is no national...progress. Here you have the individual as the only one who improves and not the species." (Letter to Fr. Vicente Garcia 7 Jan 1891 Epistolario Rizalino III, No. 432, p. 137).

These quotations inspired the then young Fine Arts Instructor, Guillermo Tolentino, in the making of the UP Oblation (upon the direction of President Rafael Palma). The "Youth as Fair Hope of the Motherland," though popular, has been misunderstood by many. Usually, it is taken out of historical context when separated from the 2nd quotation. For to Rizal the term "youth" is not simply "being young" in age but being part of a collective... what he would call the "species" and may in fact be the equivalent of a "generation."

In his musing on the death of Burgos in 1872, he had an inkling of what a "generation" meant. The generation of Burgos referred to those youth who rallied for liberal reforms and secularization of the parishes before 1872—the year when the three priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora were executed at the Bagumbayan. Recalling that as a young boy of eleven he heard how Burgos cried just before the execution, Rizal told himself that he would be brave under a similar situation. Yet in retrospect, he promised that he would not allow such injustice to remain unpunished. His sentiment awakened, he decided not to become a priest (Jesuit) as he once imagined himself to be but an antagonist of the Empire, rallying his fellow young men to likewise do the same.

But speaking of Burgos, he noted that their generation worked for their own interests: Cuesta, to seek revenge, Novales to secure higher ranks and Burgos, for his parishes (Schumacher, Revolutionary Clergy, p. 31). Comparing his own generation to that of Burgos, he claimed that the youth of his time worked for justice and the rights of Man. In short, not for personal interests but for the whole (common good), such that the individual sacrifice would metamorphose into a representative action of the "species," and of the nation.

Understood this way, we can see that the "juventud" of Rizal was a concept that encompasses a collective—a generation, as he would often describe it. And truly, this should be consistent with a historical perspective/context in the use of the term.

When we speak of the generation of Burgos, we relate it to a historical marker called the "events of 1872." When we speak of Rizal’s generation, we are thinking of the period that produced like-minded individuals who eventually made the Revolution of 1896. And, when we speak of the generation of the 1960s and 1970s, we are thinking of that historical marker called Martial Law. The youth for which Rizal had put much hope was therefore, the generation of the 1960s and 1970s which marched the streets and created a new stage in the political education of the Filipinos—a nation confronting a dictatorship.

The youth of Rizal’s generation did not bequeath to us just their names—they recovered for us, from the Spaniards, a sense of pride and nation, of values that ennobled our people, of kabayanihan for which we do things for our kapwa without expecting rewards in return. And even if these values could simply be mouthed without much thought by politicians, these are embedded in our sub-consciousness as a people such that when time comes that it becomes necessary to activate them, they reemerge and provide the force that energize our people and nation. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente
Congratulations! Gov. and Cong.

This column cong-ratulates Governor Carlito S. Marquez and Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores for their successful negotiation with the National Power Corporation (NPC) and the Energy Regulatory Commission on the matter of extending the supply of electricity for Aklan via Akelco. Marquez and Miraflores with the active participation of Gen. Mgr. Chito Peralta were able to get 85 percent of Aklan’s electricity requirement.

The 85 percent supply will be until Dec. 31, 2009 only. Beginning January 1, 2010, the supply from NPC will be reduced to 40 percent only of the requirement which will end until December 31, 2010. This is calculated, Akelco will have enough time to source its supply from independent power producers.

Global Business Power Corp

Asked where will we get the other 15 percent electricity requirement, Marquez pointed to the Global Business Power Corporation (GBPC). According to him, GBPC has power generating plants in Nabas and New Washington which can produce from 2 to 2.5 million kilowatt hours a month if it is in full operation. 4 Four Million Kilowatt Hours Contract But as provided in the Amended Electric Power Purchase Agreement with Akelco, GBPC will collect payment from Akelco for four million kilowatt hours supplied.

This is now the time to compel GBPC to supply Akelco with the minimum 4 million kilowatt hours per month. Why is Akelco paying GBPC good for 4 million kilowatt hours when its generating capacity is only 2 – 2.5 million monthly?

P185 Million For Libacao

During "Triumph over Frank" celebration on June 21, Gov. Carlito S. Marquez informed this column that the Dept. of Budget and Management has released the sum of P185 million to be spent in the Municipality of Libacao for the preliminary jobs to be done leading to the construction of a hydro power project in that municipality. However, he does not know the details of the projects. Further, he does not know who is in-charge of the project. "As head of a local government unit, the Governor should know, but I do not," Marquez said.

On the status of the "Paglaum Fund" to be used in the rehabilitation of damages by typhoon Frank, Marquez revealed the bill appropriating the rehabilitation fund is approved in the House of Representatives. However, it is pending in the Senate Committee being chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Nevertheless, Malacañang has released P100 million for the rehabilitation of typhoon damage.

The money is released to the Dept. of Public Works and Highways. However, Gov. Marquez does not know the project for which the money will be spent. What of which to rehabilitate? /MP

The State of the Philippines Education System


The State of the Philippines Education System was the main topic of discussion during the June 20 Kapehan Sa Aklan. Members of the panel are the top educators of the Province of Aklan. They are shown above who are (l to r) Dr. Ersyl Biray, Dr. Benny A. Palma, Atty. Allen S. Quimpo, Ms. Virgenita Nabor, and Mr. Michael Rapiz.

Weekly Kapehan guests on June 20, 2009 discussed the topic, "The State of Education in Aklan". Panelists were Dr. Benny A. Palma, president, Aklan State University (ASU); Dr. Ersyl T. Biray, VP for Academic Affairs, ASU; Virgenita M. Nabor, Educ. Supervisor, DepEd; Michael T. Rapiz, Educ. Supervisor; DepEd; and Atty. Allen S. Quimpo, president, Northwestern Visayan Colleges (NVC).

Dr. Palma, announced that the UP Law Center has authored a proposal for Congress to overhaul the sputtering educational system in the country. A formidable feature is returned to the basics, i.e. 3R’s which were proven effective during the Philippine Common-wealth. This came at the heels of the tumultuous setbacks encountered by OFW’s and lackluster performance of our international mathe-matics and science graduates who placed at bottom line among 45 countries evaluated. The Philippines placed 41st in Mathematics and 42nd in Science. Practically, the Pilipinos lost their competitive edge, sapped their energies on non-essentials and they no longer dominate potential job markets abroad, Dr. Palma pointed out.

The Philippines nursing curriculum must be upgraded such that internship training of two years added to regular four years course is adopted for the benefit of applicants seeking greener pastures abroad like the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Otherwise, Pilipino present graduates will end up as nursing aides. Com-paratively, developed countries prescribed 11 years education for its youth while developing countries like the Philippines has only 10. The current status of master’s degree course in the Philippines is equivalent to a college degree in the US, he averred.

Dr. Biray said that ASU, one of the performing schools in the country is implementing flagship program located in its five campuses namely: a) Banga Main–Gen. Educ. Curriculum, School of Mgt. Services and Veterinary Medicine, b) New Washington – College of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, c) Kalibo – Industrial Education, Engineering and Architecture, d) Ibajay – Tourism (Hotel and Restaurant Management) and e) Makato – Teacher Education and (site of Aklan Sports Center). (ASU Board of Trustees and management may have forgotten that agriculture is the flagship courses.)

Adopted slogan is "One University, one Educational System", a concept where standard of education is uniform all throughout its flagship programs. This includes grading system, school uniform, basic textbook/references, examinations, and others. The focus has been on development of well rounded personality that inculcates moral values, discipline and skills training, said Dr. Biray.

On basic education, Ms. Nabor cited that DepEd has a vision for global competitiveness, adhering to excellence. In its roster are 321 primary schools, 73 Elem. Schools, and 68 High Schools. The teaching competencies of teachers are continuously upgraded. There are special programs for fast and slow learners and for those with learning disabilities. They also dispense with the P5,000 subsidy given to each student enrolled in private secondary schools, according to Ms. Nabor.

Mr. Rapiz discussed DepEd’s commitment to public education by opening nine (9) integrated schools, three (3) libraries, extension schools, early childhood education (3-5 years old) and Alternative Learning Systems.

Major Revamp

Atty. Quimpo is advocating for a major revamp of the educational system. According to him the present educational system is inept, ineffective and out of focus, the former Chairman of the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives said. He cited the Monroe Report on the State of Education in 1917 which has practically remained the same all these years. The nagging cause is the public expenditures for education remaining static at 2.1 percent of GNP while the neighboring countries spend an average of six (6) percent. The UNESCO prescribes the minimum of six (6) percent of GNP to insure quality education (by adequate financing).

The NVC president said, despite the presence of international research institutions such as IRRI, SEAFDEC and our UPLB and Philrice, only a handful of beneficiaries are taking advantage by using matured technologies out of voluminous research findings and recommendation. This makes the gap between the rich and poor more skewed than ever, stressed Quimpo.

One interesting proposal Atty. Allen S. Quimpo is pushing, is to adopt the business and academic sectors’ endorsement to elect a president of the Philippines in 2010 whose academic background, training and experience are on education. We do not know who the person is, the most favored to fill in the shoe considering the high stakes involved. Probably, a respected personality from academe who has shown concrete accomplishments in education field can just do the job.

Education laws granting free elementary and secondary education seem to be ineffective. Out of the 100 pupils who enroll in Grade I, only 43 will finish Grade VI; 21 will finish high school and only 16 will finish college degrees. A heavy school dropout is closely associated with school contributions, poverty, disease, malnutrition, and distance of home to school.

DepEd may not have shortage of classrooms since kids are packed like sardines 45-60 in crowded, damped and unlighted atmosphere. Yet, they acknowledged that out of 20,000 needed mentors nationwide, this year only 13,000 were approved. Teachers’ plan to seek employment abroad may be frozen by pending Salary Standardization Law which is due to be implemented July 2009.

Addressing the financial crisis and object poverty we are in, one anonymous writer said that while our natural resources are finite, our mental capabilities are not. How true? Our nearest neighbor Japan is practically devoid of natural resources but because of tech-nological prowess of its people, the nation has become ex-ceedingly rich and powerful. The Philippines can follow Japan’s noble example of planned prosperity if only our educational system is fine tuned to the needs, problems, and aspirations of her people. /MP

Triumph Over Frank Aklan Celebrates

The Local Govern-ment of Aklan celebrated "Triumph over Frank" on Sunday, June 21. The whole day affairs consisted of thanksgiving mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Joebert Villasis, President, Aklan Catholic College, Kalibo.

The holy mass over, medical/dental mission , with gift giving and supplemental feeding program for children followed. Concert at the Park was held in the evening.

Governor Carlito S. Marquez led with all department heads the celebration held in ABL Sports Complex, Estancia, Kalibo, Aklan.


The Municipality of Kalibo in cooperation with Anak TV Foundation held the very first Larolympics on June 20-21, 2009 at the Magsaysay Park, Kalibo, Aklan. It featured children who will participate in the "Chikiting" division (age 7-10) and Bagets Division (age 11-14) in games like Patintero (known in Aklanon as Ins-played by boys & girls), Piko (known in Aklanon as Step Not – played by girls) and Tumbang Preso (known in Aklanon as Tumba Patis – played by boys). The games were covered by national media and given importance by celebrities that were brought by Anak TV Foundation officers.

Also held was The Anak TV Screening of Child-Friendly Programs at 2:00 in the afternoon, 3rd Floor, Kalibo Municipal Social and Conference Hall, June 20. The program was highlighted on Sunday, June 21 at 9:00 in the morning, Magsaysay Park. The Ati-Atihan town of Kalibo serves as the pilot area in Aklan for Larolympics, according to Kalibo Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo. /MP

BES Presents “Balik Tanaw Sa Kasaysayan” Evolution of the Philippine Flag

Mary Abbygail Adriene L. Enriquez’ text and photo

Picture shows BES pupils in their presentation.

With the theme, "Kasaysayan Ay Balikan, Kalayaan Ay Pahalagahan", the Bulwang Elementary School (BES) Cultural Group presented a pageant on the Evolution of the Philippine Flag during the celebration of the 111th Philippine Independence on June12, Numancia Cultural Stage. It was the school’s tribute to the great heroes of our land for their bravery and patriotism.

"Balik tanaw sa Kasaysayan" is a re-enactment of the historical events on how the Philippines regained its liberty from Spain. It commenced with the portrayal of Spanish cruelty and injustice against the Filipinos which resulted to the rise of the revolution with the famous first "Battle Cry in Pugadlawin."

The pageant culminated with the re-enactment of the historic declaration of the first Philippine Independence and the hoisting of the first Philippine Flag by the guest speaker P/S Supt. William S. Macavinta.

The event was highlighted with the symbolic release of the doves acclaiming the Philippines’ absolute freedom as the BES pupils did their own rendition of "Inang Bayan".

The pageant, "Balik Tanaw sa Kasaysayan" was participated in by 30 pupils of the said school under the direction of Ms. Joyce M. Toriaga, chairman on cultural presentation. Mary Abbygail Adriene L. Enriquez, the scriptwriter of the said cultural presentation directed the pageant. /MP

Better Prepare Than Sorry

Margie R. Ibuyan’s text and photo

Picture shows (l to r) Dr. Dobie P. Parohinog, Ret. Major Paquito Saratiosa and Ms. Esperanza Templonuevo.

"Better Prepare Than Sorry" is the message given by Mayor Elverita T. Templonuevo during the Roll-out on Child Centered Disaster Risk Reduction Preparedness Training Workshop last week. The Local Government of Numancia in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, Plan Philippines and the DepEd jointly held the training.

It discussed the topics on Local Disaster Risk Situation, DRM Framework and Approaches, DRR Measures/Preparedness and Activities and Early Warning System. An action plan of activities in preparation for any disaster or emergency was the training output.

Dr. Dobie P. Parohinog, Ms. Jessie Gerardo of DepEd, Mr. Fredilo F. Magallanes, Mrs. Brenda G. Marte and Major Paquito Saratiosa (Ret.) served as resource persons.

The barangay captains of Numancia and one teacher representative with the PTCA President from each school in the district attended the training workshop. /MP

Promoter Calls Off Mayweather VS Pacquiao Showdown

LOS ANGELES, California – It’s final: the much-anticipated battle between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and International Boxing Organization (IBO) light welterweight king Manny Pacquiao has been called off this year.

Instead, Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KO’s) will face World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Miguel Angel Cotto (34-1, 27 KO’s) for 12 rounds at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 14.

Top Rank boss Bob Arum decided not to wait for the result of the postponed shootout between Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez after Mayweather suffered an injury in the cartilage prompting the Golden Boy Promotion to reset the 12-round fight in September in time for Mayweather’s recovery.

Had the fight pushed through on July 18 as originally scheduled, Pacquiao, 30, would have faced the winner, it was learned.

Pacquiao had earlier announced he would fight the unbeaten Mayweather on October 17.

To avoid traffic, Arum, 77, summoned the 28-year-old Cotto, a Puerto Rican who stands an inch taller than the Filipino wrecker.

Cotto is fresh from a 12-round split decision win over unheralded Joshua Clottey to retain his WBO diadem at the Madison Square Garden in New York on June 13.

Cotto dropped Clottey (35-3, 20 KO’s) with a left hook in the first round but failed to put away the 32-year-old challenger from Accra, Ghana. An accidental headbutt inflicted an ugly gash in Cotto’s left eye and referre Arthur Mercante Jr. nearly stopped the fight.

It was Cotto’s first defense of the title he secured on Feb. 21, this year by knocking out Michael Jennings in five rounds also in the same arena.

Cotto is a former World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion since December 2, 2006 when he captured the vacant title via 5th round TKO over Carlos Quintana at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

He defended the belt four times and lost it to Mexico’s Antonio Margarito in a violent 11th round stoppage defeat on July 26, 2008 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Cotto’s biggest wins since turning professional in 2001 were against former world champion Zab Judah (TKO 11th round) and reigning WBA super welterweight champion Shane Mosley (12-round unanimous decision), all in defense of Cotto’s WBA 147-lb crown.

If he wins against the Caguas-born Cotto, Pacquiao may next face Mayweather in 2010 before the national elections in the Philippines where he will run for a legislative post to represent his district in Mindanao set on May 11.

Cotto has a knockout average of 77.14 percent against Pacquiao’s 68.52 percent. /MP

Electing Education President

by Atty. Allen S. Quimpo
President, Northwestern Visayan Colleges
Consultant, Institute of Public Policy Studies
Last May 18, 2009, a group of business and academic leaders met at UP NISMED to organize a national movement to demand fundamental reform. Their demand: Make the Philippines the Education Nation and its President in 2010 the Education President. The urgency of this call cannot be ignored. This was the same note of the Monroe report on the State of Philippine Education in 1917. The inadequate investment in education, competent teachers, poor pay, shortage in school rooms and facilities, small budget, and others are the problems. After 82 years, these are the same problems existing, only made more prominent. Consider the following:

1. High Drop Out Incidence. Of the 100 pupils that start in grade I, only 43 finish grade VI; of these, only 21 finish high school, and only 16 finish college.

2. Poor Teacher Quality. Teacher effective-ness is adversely affected by low pay, poor mark in the teacher licensure exami-nation and insufficient to a matching materials and other supports. Teachers are asked to perform non-academic duties like poll watching, sports, cultural and even religious and social activities.

3. Poor Student Performance. In the 2005 Third International Math and Science Study, the Philippines ranked 41 and 42 respectively out of 45 participating countries.

4. Low Financial Support. Public expen-ditures on education is a low 2.1 percent of GNP. The neighboring countries spend an average of six percent of GDP. UNESCO prescribes a minimum of six percent.

5. Inadequate support and linkages with the private and business sector and industry. This create a mismatch on graduates and industry demands. There is a growing gap between course offerings and the world of works which causes unclear and oftentimes confused policy direction. Our offerings are reactions to the demands abroad. Thus, nursing, nautical, voc-tech are in demand while agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and others needed for an agri-industrial development are left unattended.

6. The great disparity between research and its practical application. The Philippines is home to noted international research bodies. The IRRI, the PCARRD, the SEMEO INNOTECH, SEAFDEC, have accu-mulated a wealth of information and data. However, the ability to utilize these for development have eluded the beneficiaries (our people). Just like any research output, countries with progressive policies and programs have succeeded in increasing their wealth and productivity. Worse, this in turn adds up to the greater gap between the disenfranchised poor and the few economic elite. NEDA analyzed that the GNP growth really widened the gap between the rich and the poor.

7. Defective, Counter Productive and Anti developmental Curriculum. When one considers the poor performance of our educational system, one cannot help but to look at and address the curriculum. It suffers from:

a. Highly centralized and regulated curriculum. Considering that the Philippines is an archi-pelago, multi cultural-ethnical nature, a good curricula policy should accept diversity in unity. College courses utilize the first two years repeating the topics and lessons presumably already learned in the basic edu-cation. For instance, Math 1 is Basic Math. English 1 is Grammar and English+ English Profi-ciency, Eng. 1 is Study and Thinking Skills. Natural Science 1 is Physical Science. It is only late second year or third year that professional or major subjects start to be offered. Effectively, therefore, the student has only 2 years of his professional subjects. One can guess the negative consequence.

b. The Curriculum does not address the concepts, causes, issues, solutions to our country’s fundamental reason for underdevelopment and our people’s continuing poverty. Neither does encourage critical thinking. Creativity is always a suspect. Critical thinking is subversive. Popular courses cater to foreign demand instead of national demand. Look at the pathetic condition of our Agricultural and Fisheries Schools. The Philippines being possessed with potential energy and natural resources could hardly afford to produce its food, energy, water and other basic needs. Our productivity level is one of the worlds lowest. Education failed to make our people the beneficiaries of our vast natural resources.

When we remind ourselves that it is the HUMAN CAPITAL that really propels a nation to develop, then ipso facto this HUMAN CAPITAL THEORY states that this is the function of education. In short, the more and better educated the people, the greater the chances of economic development. Conversely, the failure to confront these challenges is the main cause of our continued poverty. Survey shows that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened (NSO, 2006 Report). And the middle class has sub-stantially decreased.

When one evaluates to identify the cause, or causes, the finger will point to one who leads our nation, who adopts and implements these defective policies.

That is why, the people in choosing the next President, or set of leaders, may well take note to pick the candidate(s) with proven track record for educational reform.

Let us adopt the principles and policies that enhance the human capital of Aklan, and indorsing national leaders whose program of government is the greatest investment in education. It includes:

1. Greater role of LGU with their vast and increasing financial capability to partner in this function of education. The educational support fund should be rationalized to serve access to quality education;

2. Reform the curri-
culum to address the mismatch of needs and market, but more so by redirecting policies in support of programs for national development, and alleviating poverty, rather than programs to support foreign demands;

3. Reinforce public-private educational linkages educational and business linkages, national and international linkages to enhance this capital human resource, such as, but not limited to internship, apprenticeship, dual training, and others.

4.Offer more scholarships and benefits to students. The choice after six years is ours. Let the people’s voice compel. Force the human capital as the priority issue in this election. Our children cannot wait. We have suffered much, for so long. Either choose the rich or the popular, or we choose based on their programs. As for me and my children, we will choose the Education President and Aklan Education Leaders. Aklan, true to its venerated past must lead to make the Philippines the Education Nation and the people, the Educated People. /MP

Help 39 OFWs in Kuwait Villar Urges

Senator Manny Villar asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to promptly assist the 39 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are currently suffering in Kuwait.

The OFWs are reportedly being abused by their employers through non-payment of due salaries and lack of food provisions which forced them to catch monitor lizards ("bayawak") in the desert and have them as staple to survive.

At the same time, the workers complain of lack of protection in the workplace leading to injuries such as the one suffered by OFW Richard Maceda when a collapsed truck door fell on his foot.

Villar said, "Our OFWs are in physical peril. Their families are going hungry and deeply anxious about them. I call on the DFA and OWWA to promptly attend to and assist them accordingly."

Aside from Maceda, the OFWs also include Franklin Abbido, Edgardo Basilio, Eduardo Prieto, Eduardo Canero, Eduardo Camangyan, Joven Hollon, Nemencio Payag, Rowan Dominguez, and Jerry Pineda.

"Not only can we not feed our families back home, but most of us are also getting sick due to these unbearable situations," they said.

Had we known that this would be our fate abroad, we would not have left the country and our families," they said.

The migrant workers also suffer from poor accommodation in the factory which puts their health in jeopardy.

A television program focusing on OFWs has sought the assistance of
Villar on the said case.

Its recent letter to the senator stated, "We are witnesses to the thousands of OFWs helped by your office, and we hope that you can also extend help to these OFWs who are victims of their employer."

Harsh conditions faced by OFWs earlier pushed Villar to actively press for the application of the "no-fault insurance system" for OFWs, a form of indemnity plan in which anyone injured in an accident or misfortune receives direct payment from the company that has insured them, eliminating the need for victims to establish another’s liability or fault through a civil case.

Villar has also filed Senate Bill 3040 or the Overseas Contract Workers Insurance Act that seeks compulsory insurance for all OFWs in addition to benefits being provided by OWWA. /MP

Science Researcher Identifies Farmers’ Problems

The Filipino farmers are surrounded by farm problems. Which of those should be prioritized? How should rice program components take off? Which is the biggest bottleneck in rice farming?

Using a 10-year period data from 1996, Imelda Arida, science research specialist of the Socio-economics Division of PhilRice tracked the trends in the problems encoun-tered by the Filipino farmers. The study used the Integrated Farm House-hold Analysis Project data, a collaborative project of PhilRice and the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

High cost of inputs, low price of palay, lack of capital and postharvest facilities, labor problem, pests and diseases, and inadequate irrigation system are the main obstacles in rice production. Arida noted that lack of capital and pests and diseases significantly affect rice production during the wet season. Irrigation system, however, plays crucial role for both seasons.

For wet season, an estimated 0.10 percent to 0.12 percent reduction in production is expected for farmers who encounter problem with pests and diseases, and irrigation system, respectively. Farmers with inadequate water supply in the dry season will have 0.17 percent lower output.

Weird Shifts

There are unexpected results Arida observed. An upward shift in production was noted among farmers experiencing low price of palay and postharvest problems in the wet season as farmers must have optimized their production foreseeing said problems.

For the dry season, low price of palay and high cost of inputs had upward shifts to production. High input costs must have prompted farmers to optimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides, Arida explained. A number of farmers must have been using farm machines which significantly contributed to increase in production, she added.

However, this should not be interpreted that farmers are better off without postharvest facilities, with low prices of palay, and dizzying input prices.
Postharvest facilities, according to Drs. Arsenio N. Balisacan and Leocadio S. Sebastian account for 5 percent yield increase. Stabilizing palay and input prices can even increase further total production, said Arida.

Policy Directions

The study, according to Arida, is a good input in strengthening the Philippines’ rice program. Lack of capital, irrigation systems, and pests and diseases management are among the main obstacles in rice production.

An increasing trend is observed in the number of farmers having problems with water supply for rice farming. Pests and diseases contribute significantly to low yield, hence the focus on integrated pest management.
Lack of capital also remains persistent. Several programs in the past provided credit assistance to farmers but very little success was observed.

Addressing the problems of farmers, would contribute significantly in improving rice yield. Drs. Balisacan and Sebastian noted that irrigation aspect contributes to 25 percent increase in rice yield. Put together, this would be a good input to achieving rice self-sufficiency, concluded Arida.

PhilRice is a govern-ment-owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Agriculture. It aims to develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough high quality rice at lower cost for all Filipinos. /MP

Address Consumers Complaints Roxas Urges Telcos Firms

IKAW DIN? — Senator Mar Roxas, chair of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, shows his cellphone to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile at the hearing on the Senate chief’s complaint of the "disappearing e-load."

Senator Mar Roxas this week pressed the country’s top mobile carriers to address growing consumer complaints about pre-paid subscription services offered to millions of mobile phone users.

Roxas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce warned, Congress could interfere in the operations of the giant tele-communications firms if they continue to stonewall complaints related to services offered to their pre-paid users.

Roxas urged these communication firms to manage carefully their companies and respond to the complaints, Roxas said during the hearing into the "Disappearing Load" controversy exposed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

"What you don’t want is for Congress to start writing up your Operations Manual and imposing limits, including the number of minutes for lunch breaks or your pensions. We are resonating the public’s complaint and if you stonewall these, we will take the necessary steps," he warned.

Roxas said, tele-communication firms have long been remiss in serving the public’s interest, noting that they have successfully tied the hands of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from imposing strict guidelines on their operations.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Douglas Michael Millillin told senators the Commission has not been able to implement billing guidelines for telecommunication services and other value-added services offered because of an injunction issued by the Quezon City trial court branch 77 against Memorandum Circular No. 13-06-2000 on November 20, 2000.

The Circular, among others, sets the guidelines on billing statements, sale and use of prepaid cards, interconnection agreements and sanctions for violation of any provisions of the memorandum.

Roxas said Congress granted the franchises of the telecommunication firms on the assumption the industry would be ably regulated by the NTC. "But since the NTC has been handcuffed, the franchises are not operative.

The injunction implies that the law is not clear. If that is the case, then Congress can clean the law and make it clear, and therefore, there will be no more injunctions," he said.

"The bottom line is the consumer. We must address their concerns with compassion and understanding, and not turn a deaf ear. This is the public that we, as elected officials, swore to serve, and the least we could do is to listen to the people who are the very lifeblood of your business," he said.

Roxas announced the second hearing would hear more complaints from subscribers of Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecoms and Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. (Sun Cellular). /MP

Friday, June 19, 2009


Perpetuating Crooks
The hidden agenda to perpetuate herself in government office is little by little automatically uncovering. On December 30, 2001 on Rizal’s Death Anniversary celebration in Baguio City, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo pledged she will not seek the presidency in the May 2004 national election. But that is history.

Ms. Arroyo reversed herself, filed her application for candidacy for president, and won the election via the "Hello Garci?"

Her presidency for the last seven years is mixed with an annual impeach-ment complaints. These complaints did not succeed because of "number" and "lack of substance" even if it were according to form.

Her presidency is also mixed with huge but questionable government deals and transactions. Is the P1.4 billion Mega – Pacific election computer scam one irregular deal to ignore? There is the P728 million fertilizer scandal which deprived the Pilipino farmers that much money which could have improved rice, corn, and vegetable production had it not been stolen. That money could have minimized the huge rice importation if not stolen but used to modernize Philippine Agriculture.

There is the $328 million US dollar NBN-ZTE broadband deal which was stopped because of Jun Lozada’s revelation. This caused the instant resignation of Mr. Benjamin Abalos as Comelec chair and because of "Mr. Sec. may dalawang daan kayo dito".

In Cebu, there is the street lamp posts anomaly which until today, there is no sanction meted to the architects of the scam.

In Aklan, DepEd distributed 55 computer units costing P249,970 per unit two years ago. This brand of computer canvassed in computer shops in Kalibo, Aklan cost ranging P21,000 – 25,000 per unit only.

With these highly questionable deals, Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wishes to stay longer in Malacañang. Since the term of the president of the Philippines is limited to one term of six years without re-election, Malacañang and members of the House of Representatives has been working doubly hard to amend the 1987 constitution in order to extend their term of office.

Malacañang and its apostles in congress had been denying "there would be no term extension."

But there is revelation. Since Malacañang will probably fail in its quest to amend the constitution, Mrs. Arroyo has expressed her interest to be the congressman to represent the second district of Pampanga. This cong-ressional district is presently represented in congress by her son, Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo.

Miguel, based upon the report is ready to yield his congressional seat to his mother and be a candidate for provincial governor of Pampanga.

What is this? Is this genuine love of people? Is this greed? Unsatiable greed?

The Macapagals wish to occupy all high offices in the government. This is dynasty. This is greed of power. She is president, two sons are congressmen, one brother–in–law and a sister in law are members of congress.

Why perpetuate herself in power? At the end of her term in June 2010, Arroyo should have served as president of the Philippines for nine years. The nine (9) years presidency marred with scandals are too long time for the Pilipinos to suffer crooked government and so worst for the Philippines. Electing Mrs. Arroyo congresswoman may perpetuate crooks in the government. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente
Red Cross Is For All

I like to share this message to our readers. This is presented to the graduates of the Com-munity Based Disaster Management Training participants sponsored by the PNRC, Aklan chapter held at Sampaguita Garden, New Washington, Aklan on May 25 -30, and June 1-6, 2009.

May I congratulate the Philippine National Red Cross, (PNRC) Aklan chapter for initiating this Community Based Disaster Management Training. This is an act of generosity to share knowledge and skills for the mitigation of the effects of any disaster and catastrophe that might happen to us and other people. Man and nature cause catastrophe like fire, thunder and lightning, the bad results of which can be diminished with your knowledge and skills gained in this study. Thank you to the PNRC Aklan Chapter. Thank you to the International Federation of the Red Cross for financing the training.

I gladly recognize and extend my appreciation and sincere thanks to the resource persons for imparting their lifetime accumulated information, ideas, knowledge, and skills of their respective expertise.

Ideas, knowledge and skills need to be transmitted to other people for their application and use. Viable ideas and information must be rapidly spread and utilized. If not, it will be buried with the possessors to the grave when they die. Owners of bright ideas, practices and knowledge must share it to other people for their own uses and advantage. They must be spread widely for utilization and improvement.

Unlike money, ideas, information, knowledge, and skills become useless when the possessor dies for these will be buried with them to the grave. A man who possesses money and other vast resources in his lifetime will leave his amazed wealth to heirs and other people to enjoy. Excellent when being enjoyed, but worst if they quarrel on it.

I therefore commend and congratulate the PNRC Aklan under the leadership of Ms. Arcely Pelayo for organizing and implementing this training on Community Based Disaster Management.

Above all, I strongly congratulate the partici-pants for their attendance and active participation in this training. Your knowledge and skills gained will be all yours. Your knowledge on disaster preparedness, hazard assessment, its cycle, first aid among other information gained in these five days teaching-learning processes are all yours. Nobody can get it from you unless trans-mitted to others and utilized. It is you and you alone who can use it to save life and property.

Today, you are the trustees of these useful knowledge and skills applicable in the mitigation of the effects of any disaster. This is the beauty of being a volunteer to PNRC. You are the beneficiaries of this training program. You are ever ready to apply this knowledge first to you, to the members of the family and then to the community.

"Charity begins at home" therefore I expect you to benefit the best of your training. How can you help others without helping first yourself? I just like to remind you to be of "Service Above Self".

Red Cross has no boundary be it political, gender, color, economic status. Red Cross is for all.

LOSSES at Akelco
Reading the Akelco Statements of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2008 is puzzling.

While Akelco’s volume of sales for 2008 was valued at P830,853,881, Akelco spent P957,351,991. If the expenses is subtracted from income, Akelco lost P126,498,110 in its operation in 2008. In 2007, Akelco sold electric power valued at P827,236,184 but spent P898,225,934 or lost of P72,989,750 in operation. For the last two years of operation, Akelco lost P199,487,860.

How can Akelco lost that much when it collected 99.16 percent of the total sales and reduced the systems loss to 12 percent?

I examined the Akelco annual report in search for good reason for losing by the millions. I found none. There is no analysis given. How can management strengthen the weaknesses of the operation if its financial situation is not studied, and analyzed? How can management improve its operation when there is no study and analysis of findings, con-clusion and recommen-dations presented?

Moreover, the accumulated losses as of Dec. 31, 2008 was P659,231,574. Where will Akelco get the amount to cover the losses?

For one thing, Akelco’s current assets total P495,496,519. However, its liabilities is also of equal amount. With this financial condition, Akelco is always "gina ga-id sa utang" (tied in huge debt). /MP

A Couple Produces Child In Camp Capinpin

Some 16 middle level officials of the Philippine Marine were charged of "attempt to begin mutiny". This is the result of their protest done against the relief of General Renato Miranda sometime in February 2006.

The Court Marshal constituted of three top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to hear their cases found "no case" against them. They recommended rein-statement to their respective positions for lack of cause of action.

But they are now charged of attempt to begin mutiny. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Chief of Staff, AFP over turned the court marshal recommendation. Esperon is gone, these officials are still in jail.

They are still incarcerated in Camp General Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. The 60 enlisted men were dishonorably discharged.

The 16 officials consists of two (2) lieutenant colonels, two (2) majors, eight (8) captains and four (4) first lieutenants. Of the 16, some 14 are all graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, while two are graduates of advanced ROTC course.

Col. Quiruben used to be with them in Camp Capinpin, but he is now with Gen. Danilo Lim after that Peninsula Hotel incident in Makati City.

Camp Mateo Capinpin is beautifully nestled on the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is two hours drive by car from Quezon City passing Marikina and Antipolo cities. There is very light traffic on the well paved, and beautiful scenery along the winding road leading to the camp.

At the early stage of their detention, they were highly restricted. They were prevented to go out of their cell; they were deprived of sunshine. Visitors were highly restricted and regulated. Security check was very strict and detailed.

Today, they can go out of their cells, have exercise. They maintain vegetable garden with verdant crops of eggplants, pepper, papaya, green unions, and tomatoes adjacent to the detention building.

For conjugal visit, an officer may use the conjugal room. There are two rooms available. So far, an officer detainee’s wife got pregnant after 10 years of their marriage, because of the conjugal visit and conjugal house. The couple celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in the dining room of the detention center in Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin on June 14. Thanks to Gen. Esperon, the couple produced a child.

Some 100 meters away from the gate of Camp Capinpin is also the gate of the 24 hectare Villa of former President Erap Estrada. This is the place where Erap spent his house arrest. This is a very attractive, pretty and enjoyable place to stay. The amenities will be featured in pictures in the next issue./MP

MDCC Kalibo Conducts Community-Based Child-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction Seminar

Kalibo, Aklan – The Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council (MDCC) of Kalibo conducts two batches of a 2-day Community-Based Child-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction Seminar held on June 8-9 and June 10-11, 2009 at the 3rd Floor Multi-Purpose Conference Hall, this Municipality.

The seminar is spearheaded by the Kalibo Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council in coordination with the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) of the Department of National Defense.

Over 80 participants took part in the seminar including NGO repre-sentatives, municipal elected officials, department and division heads, national government agency rep-resentatives, volunteer rescue groups, health service personnel and children with their own module of workshop.
Assistant Regional Director Eligio Calaor of the Office of Civil Defense, Region 6, Ret. Maj. Paquito Saratiosa of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council and Senior Program Officer Mayfourth Luneta of the NGO Center for Disaster Preparedness served as resource speakers. /MP

No New Taxes

Senator Mar Roxas this week vowed to oppose all new taxes proposed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies in Congress and even in the next administration as long as it makes government spending more efficient.

"I am not in favor of raising taxes for this government," Roxas said in a forum on the economy hosted by the Makati Business Club for potential presidential candidates at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Cebu City.

Roxas, a US-trained economist and former secretary of trade and industry in two admi-nistrations, said he would not trust the Arroyo Administration with new taxes even if it means arresting the further ballooning of govern-ment’s budget deficit.

He said the new taxes would also impose more hardship on Filipinos at this time when the economy is contracting.

"This government has not shown that it can collect taxes efficiently and use such taxes collected properly," Roxas told the assembled business leaders when asked the question by former NEDA Secretary Philip Medalla.

Roxas noted that with a mere 0.4 percent GDP growth, "there is just no more absorption growth for additional taxes" for our people.

Roxas said higher taxes or additional levies should only be considered if it can assure people, especially the poor, will accept paying more taxes.

"We can only raise taxes if the environment can afford it. There are lots of rooms in this government from which government revenues could be generated. The public should not suffer for this government’s ineptness," Roxas stressed.

Instead of new taxes, Roxas said Congress and the Executive must raise income tax exemptions for minimum wage earners as government’s contribution in uplifting their lives.

"A stand for the people is a stand for the nation. A stand for the people is a stand for everyone. And that is the kind of government you can expect from me: a government that stands for everyone," he added. /MP

Cohesion Works Between Aklan SP and the Executive

by Odon S. Bandiola

Despite belonging to opposing political parties every local electoral exercise, Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez and Vice Governor Gabrielle V. Calizo have shown their capacity to bury the political hatchet and buckle down to serious work and gover-nance for the benefit of the Aklanons, the governor in the execution of plans, programs, and policies of provincial governance and the vice governor in delivering the necessary support legislations.

Marquez belongs to the dominant local political party, Tibyog Akean, which counts many of the incumbent municipal mayors, councilors and a great majority of the members of the Sang-guniang Panlalawigan.

Calizo, a former congresswoman and an advocate of a serious Local Executive – Legislative Agenda, belongs to the opposing local political party, Kusog it Akean.

But it seems that there is no political division in the working relationship of the executive department under Marquez and the legislative under Calizo.

This is evident in the passage within the time frame of appropriation ordinances approving the annual General Fund and Economic Enterprise Development budgets of the provincial government, the more than seven hundred million-peso 2008 budgets and the more than eight hundred million-peso 2009 budgets. While the budgets were approved within the period required by law, consideration of the same did not escape the thorough scrutiny of the provincial legislative body. (Majority of the SP members had approved an Ordinance Transferring the amount of P20.5 million from the SP office to the office of the Provincial Governor.)

While the requests of the Governor for an authority to enter into Memorandum of Agree-ments with various entities for the implementation of several development projects to include those requests for authority to contract loans with banking institutions also pass the needle-eyes of the august chamber, the same had been granted by this august body within a reasonable time after review.

Notable among the authorities granted by this current Sangguniang Panla-lawigan under Calizo is an omnibus resolution granting authority to the Provincial Governor to avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines to a maximum amount of P100 million to finance projects deemed necessary by the chief executive for implemen-tation. This also includes the authority to contract a loan to a tune of about P35 million to finance the construction of the School of Nursing Building at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital compound, another P35 million for the construction of the Calangcang Sports Complex at Makato, Aklan and another authority for the governor to float bonds for the expansion of the facilities of the jetty port in Caticlan, to include the putting up of wellness-clinic and hotel.

For irreconcilable issues needing action by the SP as proposed by the governor, the Legislative – Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) is always immediately convened as a reconciliation forum for the said controversial issues. /MP

Stop Gays and Lesbians Persecution Around The World

SAN DIEGO, California (June 2009) – Gays, lesbians and bisexuals around the world have found an ally in one of the most powerful women in the universe today.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton has revealed that gays, lesbians and bisexuals all over the globe "continue to live under constant threat of arrest, violence, even torture."

In a press statement from Washington D.C., Clinton urged authorities concerned to end the persecution of gays and lesbians as it is "a violation of human rights and an affront to human decency."

"Human rights are at the heart of those efforts," Clinton said. "As Secretary of State, I will advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discri-mination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

Some forty years ago this month, the gay rights movement began with the Stonewall riots in New York City, as gays and lesbians demanded an end to the persecution they had long endured.

Now, after decades of hard work, the fight has grown into a global move-ment to achieve a world in which all people live free from violence and fear, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"In honor of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and on behalf of the State Department, I extend our appreciation to the global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community for its courage and determination during the past 40 years, and I offer our support for the significant work that still lies ahead," Clinton added.

She said, "at the State Department and throughout the Administration, we are grateful for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in Washington and around the world. They and their families make many sacrifices to serve our nation. Their contributions are vital to our efforts to establish stability, prosperity and peace worldwide."

Clinton stressed that "though the road to full equality for LGBT Americans is long, the example set by those fighting for equal rights in the US gives hope to men and women around the world who yearn for a better future for themselves and their loved ones."

She appealed: "This June, let us recommit ourselves to achieving a world in which all people can live in safety and freedom, no matter who they are or whom they love." /MP

The Need-Master Plan for Aklan Rivers Development

The weekly Kapehan on June 13, 2009 discussed the topic "Bangon Aklan", a bleak and somber reminder of a natural catastrophe that crippled Aklan almost one year ago. Engr. Victory Fernandez, Prov’l. Engineer; Engr. Roger M. Esto – Chief, Provincial Planning and Development Office; Atty. Allen S. Quimpo – Action Officer, Bangon Aklan, and Exec. Director Aklan Rivers Dev. Council; and Ms. Araceli Pelayo – Chief, Phil. National Red Cross (PNRC), Aklan Chapter were the guests.

As a flashback, Engr. Esto mentioned that typhoon Frank damaged property and public infra worth P2 billion and caused the death of 53 people. The on-going rehabilitation program calls for P100 million expenditure to dredge and widen constricted waterway at Poblacion, Kalibo – Bulwang, Numancia area down to the mouth of the Aklan river. About 100 hectares of the land will be reclaimed at Bakhaw Norte with extracts of gravel and sand.

The provincial government of Aklan has allocated fund for one unit dredging machine at a cost of P10 million and another P2 million for hydrologic studies and geodetic surveys from Libacao to Kalibo, Esto revealed.

Atty. Quimpo underscored the need for disaster preparedness and community mobilization in the face of mounting calamities spawned by global warming. In his visit to Albay, Atty. Quimpo was impressed of the advanced state of readiness of Albay Public Safety and Management office. The former Congressman mentioned that all government agencies, PO’s and NGO’s dealing with disaster relief, mitigation and forecasting are housed in one building. Manned by 23 regular personnel, it is equipped with diagnostic laboratory equipment, seismograph, weather sensors, and ambulance.

Quimpo laments that from the original P12 billion promised by the Arroyo administration to the Paglaum Fund, it is reduced to P8 billion. With the current global economic crunch and ballooning budget deficit, Aklan’s share has downsized from P1.2 billion to P100 million. Nevertheless, his office has managed to buy and install four units of rain gauge, one in each town of Altavas, Kalibo, Ibajay, and Libacao to monitor precipitation and make accurate weather forecast everyday.

Absence of Coordination

Ms. Pelayo reported that out of 603 housing units targeted for completion this year, 262 are completed and turned over to beneficiaries of Red Cross shelter program. PNRC has graduated 106 youth for Red Cross Community-based Disaster Preparedness. This was held in two batches that ended on June 6, 2009 at Sampaguita Gardens, New Washington.

Ms. Pelayo underscored the Project 143 to be fully implemented in all barangays. PNRC will organize the Brgy. Response and Health Welfare teams especially with the impending threat of influenza A (H1N1). "PNRC Aklan is a blood collecting agency that maintains limited stock of 50 blood packs in its small bank freezer," Pelayo stressed. In order to shore up reserves, she advises town executives to conduct regular blood donation program among its constituents for emergency use.

Issues and concern are the lack of coordination among government agencies concerning disaster relief, rehabilitation, and funding. Both Atty. Quimpo and Kalibo SB member Lilian Q. Tirol have no info whatsoever of DPWH plan to rehabilitate the Aklan river. Omission is highly irregular and controversial since project planning must be bottom-up and not otherwise. PNRC has embarked into construction of shelter projects. PEO has one mobile clinic (donated by PCSO) used for medical and dental sorties. But PNRC – DOH has none. It appears that much of our manpower and equipment are dissipated because of narrow vision and selfish interest of some officials.

A more daunting challenge could be taming the Aklan river and using its potential for power generation, irrigation and potable water. Regulating its flow by a series of dams could effectively mitigate periodic floods/mudflows and the devastating effect on human lives and property. Aklan is currently facing power cut-off by Napocor to Akelco on June 25, 2009, a potential rice deficit by 2020 (barely 30 percent of 23,000 hectares rice farm is irrigated) and potable water supply is expensive and unreliable. Local waterworks depend on underground aquifers.

Virtually, a master plan by a revitalized PPDO is needed to put all our acts together and expedite projects implementation. Anticipated hindrance can be funding but foreign and local investors can be tapped as soon as Aklan Investment Incentives Code is enacted into law.

Napocor chose to unilaterally cut off its contract of supplying power to Akelco. It is time for leaders, bureaucrats and NGO’s to revive plans for constructing multi purpose dam in Dalagsaan, Libacao, and Maria Cristina, Madalag as previously proposed by Governors Garcia and Cabagnot. This proposal may not merit Akelco’s Board of Directors since they have awarded pricey contract to Asea One Power Corp. that may fuel with biomass, a renewable power source. One may be skeptical but rice hull, rice straw, coco husk, and all others have very low thermal energy coefficients and generate rather large amounts of carbon dioxide, ash and all others during combustion process. Biomass and coal fired power plants spew prodigious amounts of lethal gasses into the atmosphere. But biomass can’t be favored because coal can be sourced from nearby Semirara Island.

The consequences of removing and hauling voluminous materials to plant site is the adversed impact on soil conservation and productivity as top soil is striped of organic materials that would otherwise decomposed to humus. Plausible short term solution could be opting for diesel power plants that are heavily dependent on imported oil. It should be recalled that completed dendrothermal power plant established in Nabas, Aklan in the 1980’s failed to operate because of fuel supply problem.

Unpsychological Strategy

Akelco’s advice to its member consumers about Time of Use strategy do not apply to individual paying households/establishments but specific service power charged by the former to the latter at certain periods of the day. It is just unpsychological cost reduction strategy.

Computation of power consumed between 2:00 – 7:00 AM though three times lower than the usual peak hours (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM) could not be reflected in the Akelco billing since there is no computer-timer unit attached to the household electric meter. An undated Akelco letter says it all: Ginasuma ro kabilugan nga konsumo it Akelco base sa presyo ag oras ko atong paggamit it kuryente ag ro anang mangin aerage karon hay imaw dayon ro aton nga Generation Charge sa natungdan nga buean." It appears that Akelco manager Chito Peralta is deliberately trying to hoodwink everybody by false hopes and promises.

Long range planning calls for vigorous representation and appeal for rational thinking despite the odds. Hitting three birds with one stone can be driving force for this physical transformation and commitment to the ideals. Rehabilitation of Aklan river is practically temporary, illusory and wasteful since there is no regulatory mechanism as to water flow compared to a hydroelectric dam.

Let us make sense of what we have experienced over the past years and evaluate whether we can cope with another disaster similar to, if not stronger than typhoon Frank. /MP

August: National Electrification Awareness Month

by Lovell Gepte - Juliano
The Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO) and 18 other Electric Cooperatives (ECs) are one with National Electrification Adminis-tration (NEA) in the observance of August as National Electrification Awareness Month. August is declared National Electrification Awareness Month by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1743. It aims to raise public consciousness that the said agency and its 119 electric cooperatives (ECs) in the country play a vital role in pursuing the mandate of total electrification.

As a national policy, total electrification is one of the government’s 10-point agenda. NEA and ECs play major roles in the electrification program in nation building. Thus, it is timely to give recognition and create public awareness through intensified campaign showcasing its programs and projects. To date, 100 percent of towns/cities have been electrified while 98 percent of the barangays have been energized and effected eight million consumer – connections in the country.

National Electrification Awareness month also coincides with the celebration of NEA’s 40th Foundation anniversary. It has a month-long program to make the event more meaningful and memorable.

NEA Administrator Edita S. Bueno announced that NEA will have its Grand Anniversary. The conduct of the International Convention on Rural Electrification is the highlight of the occasion.

"Celebrating forty years of rural electri-fication in August is indeed a milestone with the intention of furthering its noble deed of serving the people thru electrification. Therefore, we will be holding simultaneous build up activities such as the nationwide launching of Greenlight thru Tree Planting in coordination with the local DENR, Brigada Eskwela in partnership with Dept. of Education, Consumer Education Activity and a 40,000 target house connections for all ECs starting June 27 until August 5, 2009".

ECs are also en-couraged to initiate other activities to drum-up public awareness of the 40th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Program. Akelco conducted Tree Planting on June 19, 2009 at Jawili, Tangalan, Aklan in coordination with DENR – Aklan.

Joining in the National Electrification Awareness month will be the 119 electric cooperatives, private electric distribution utilities, national and local government agencies, government corporations and state colleges and universities nationwide. /MP

DA To Help Local Herbal Industry Tap Overseas Markets

Secretary Arthur Yap of the Department of Agriculture (DA) assured the herbal industry leaders the government will help increase linkages between their raw material producers and manufacturers to ensure the high quality, reliability and safety of their products, which are crucial for them to better penetrate the multibillion dollar global wellness market.

Yap said the government is ready to partner with the herbal industry from production to the marketing stage and packaging phase to help transform their products into export winners.

In a speech before the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (CHIP), Yap said the DA is willing to invest in crops to produce the raw materials that the herbal industry uses to make organic foods, personal care and wellness products, and food supplements—if CHIP’s members will commit to purchase them to guarantee income for farmers.

CHIP comprises over 50 member-companies. This includes manufacturers, distributors, suppliers of raw materials, service providers, scientists, academe and inventors in the areas of natural, herbal organic food products, health products, food supplements and personal care products.

"If you can give us the downstream support in terms of orders, DA is willing to invest so that farmers can plant the raw materials that are needed to produce herbal and organic products," Yap said. "This is the kind of partnership that the DA can forge with your industry," he added. The DA is also ready to train farmers so they can apply the necessary technologies to commercialize the production of these raw materials.

One of CHIP’s major goals is for the industry to hit $1 billion in exports by 2010. CHIP is banking on the vast Filipino expatriate sector to help fulfill this goal.

CHIP considers, after North America, the Middle East as the next biggest market for herbal products considering that it has one of the highest concentrations of Filipino expatriates. In Dubai alone, CHIP estimates, there are about 500,000 Filipino expatriates who are potential buyers of herbal products.

"In this aspect, the DA can assist the industry by subsidizing part of the fees necessary for CHIP’s member-companies to take part in international trade shows and exhibits overseas," Yap assured.

"This is what I am trying to do in the DA, which is why under my term, the DA has been setting aside funds for farmers who are into downstream products and want to sell locally and abroad so we have been setting aside money for producers who go abroad for trade fairs or food exhibits, and we have also been trying to help them right now with their packaging needs," Yap revealed.

Yap said the DA has been opening opportunities for small players in the herbal industry by displaying their products in the Department’s agri-export showroom located at the ground-floor lobby of its central office in Quezon City. (DA-PRESS OFFICE) /MP

PAPI Slates Midyear Confab June 23-24

The Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI) will hold its 13th Mid-year Conference and Executive Session of Editors and Publishers on June 24, 2009 at the Ayala Hall of the Makati Sports Club in Makati City.

PAPI president Juan P. Dayang said this year’s edition of the annual event has for its theme "Media and the 2010 Elections: Challenges and Opportunities" and where other sub-themes will revolve.

The theme, he said, is cogently relevant and commands even more urgency in the light of the crucial national elections next year and the challenges posed by the global economic crisis as well as the threats of global warming and climate change.

Expected to participate in the event are media people – publishers, editors, columnists, broadcasters, news reporters, news directors, corporate and public affairs executives, campus journalists, school publication advisers, and other communicators as well as other stakeholders in industries and the economy and major players in the country’s electoral process.

The two-day media event, Dayang said, will include discussions and seminar-workshops on various issues related to the 2010 elections and other relevant and urgent issues and concerns. /MP

Agriculture is the Future

"Agriculture is the future", Sen. Chiz Escudero said over the weekend; that government should make agriculture one of its priorities to lessen the country’s dependence on imports.
Philippine agricultural imports are continuously rising by about 12 percent annually since 2004 when it reached nearly $4 billion.

In the first half of 2008, the total agricultural import expenditures reached more than $3 billion, or 12 percent of total import expenditures. Among the biggest agricultural imports are milk and dairy products, and wheat that account for nearly 25 percent of it.

"As a tropical nation, we must focus on agriculture. But we are not doing anything to improve it. For example, while we have the capability to make the dairy industry better, government has not provided assistance and incentives for it," he said at a gathering of farmers in Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.

The Philippines imports about 85 percent of its dairy needs, with imports of milk and dairy products reaching $302 million during the first half of 2007 while domestic milk production was worth just $7.9 million.

Agricultural production accounted for about one fifth of the Philippine economic output of $168.6 billion in 2008.

Of the country’s land area of 30 million hectares, about 47 percent is agricultural. Agriculture currently employs about 38 percent of total labor
force of 36 million.

"I have authored a bill to amend the National Dairy Authority (NDA) charter. For the longest time, the budget of the NDA, which is the government agency tasked to oversee the development of the Philippine dairy industry, has not been sufficient," Escudero lamented, noting that the 2009 budget for it is only P102 million (a year).

(Senate Bill) "SB 2670 seeks to amend the National Dairy Act of 1995 (RA 7884) to step up development of the domestic dairy industry, regulate the entry of milk products more tightly, increase our local dairy market share, and strengthen the dairy industry so that we won’t rely too much on imported milk for our needs," he said.

Untapped Hog Industry’s Export

Sen. Chiz Escudero said "hog raisers must try to expand their market through exports so that the country can become a major player in the industry."

"The value of Philippine pork exports reached nearly P100 billion in 2006 with production reaching at least 1.7 million metric tons. Main export markets are Japan and the US," Escudero pointed out.

In 2007, the Philippines ranked among the top 15 pork producers in the world with a production of 1.7 million tons.

However, exports were curtailed with the emergence of Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) and the Ebola Reston virus (ERV) last year.

"Once we are able to resolve these problems, the domestic hog could come up with pork products for export," he stressed at the 18th National Federation of Hog Farmers convention in Clark, Pampanga, FMD is an infectious disease affecting mainly hoofed animals like pigs, cattle, goats and sheep. It was initially reported in October 2008 in two farms in Pangasinan and Bulacan. This prompted the culling of 6,500 pigs. Six farm workers were found to have suffered a mild case of flu but have recovered.

ERV is a highly virulent strain that affects the respiratory system of pigs. In November 2008, a number of hogs in four farms in Luzon were tested positive for the virus. But no documented case of the virus being transmitted from hogs to human was recorded.

"Rather than signing agreements that only open up our markets to products of questionable origin, government should be offering assistance to domestic hog producers," Escudero recommended.

More than half of the estimated total swine population of 13.6 million comes from backyard and commercial farms in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. /MP

DAR Aklan Women Frontliners Retool To Protect and Empower Women

"As DAR Aklan answers the call of victims or would be victims of violence, one should be armed with the necessary knowledge and skills in dealing with the victims or would be victims in order to attain justice from their predicament", advises Police Major Ma. Cecile Detablan during the two-day lecture to DAR women’s desk officers and employees.
Major Detablan, Chief of the PNP regional women and children desk at Camp Delgado, Iloilo City, emphasized the need for the DAR Aklan women’s desk officers to be tooled on the most basic knowledge and skills in addressing victims of violence and similar incidence as they perform their respective duties as government employees. Major Detablan stressed that the issue of violence against women and children (VAWC) especially gender-based is a social one and should be addressed holistically and not as a personal matter or between relationships but rather a social concern affecting the person. As such, laws are already enacted to resolve VAWC.

The Department of Agrarian Reform is in the forefront of rural develop-ment and social justice among the peasantry through land tenure improvement, support services, agrarian justice delivery but also in main-streaming the Gender and Development (GAD) program of the government. GAD in DAR is not only database gender desegre-gation but more importantly, securing concerns of women in the field through the installation of structures that would readily answer women Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) concerns.

Other topics discussed during the Skills Training for DAR Women’s Desk Officers, DARLA-SAKA and ARB Women Leaders were GAD orientation, RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women & Children, RA 7610 or Child Abuse Law, RA 8353 or Anti Rape Law, RA 8505 or Rape Assistance Law, RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, RA 7877 or the Sexual Harassment Act and RA 9208 or the Trafficking in Persons Act.

Atty. Daniel Y. Martelino, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer II of DAR Aklan, highly commended the PNP regional women and children’s desk in sharing its experiences, knowledge and skills to enhance DAR Aklan women desk officers to be more attuned to the needs of women and children thereby eliminating or limiting acts of VAWC in the countryside. He reiterated the need for more funding and sustained training as VAWC issues recur and needs systematic approach towards its elimination. The training was conducted on May 28-29, 2009 at Hernani’s Mix and Match, Kalibo, Aklan. It was funded under GAD budget of the Department. /MP

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Slashing 50 Percent Price
of 22 Prescribed Drugs

A year after the law was enacted, the public would soon start experiencing the effects of the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines law through a 50 percent drop in the prices of the top 22 most prescribed drugs in the Philippines, Senator Mar Roxas, the author of the law believes.

"One year after the enactment of the Cheaper Medicines law, finally the DOH is starting to implement it," he claimed.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque had announced an initial "Maximum Retail Price" (MRP) on the 22 most prescribed medicines in the Philippines would be endorsed for President Arroyo’s approval within the week. "After six months of implementation, the DOH and DTI would have jointly studied and perused that there is limited access to some medicines that address public health concerns, thus requiring regulation of prices," Duque said during the oversight committee hearing.

Those included in the initial MRP list are anti-hypertensive, anti-throm-botic, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, antibiotics/anti-bacterial and anti-neoplastic drugs, which prices would be slashed by 50 percent based on the price of the leading brands.

According to Roxas, the MRP list comes at a most opportune time when the country is battling a possible outbreak of the AH1N1 virus and following complaints of senior citizens groups on their inability to buy their maintenance and pre-scription medicines.

The 50 percent slash on the anti-hypertensive drug Norvasc, from the present P44.50 prevailing cost to only P22.50, would help the elderly maintain their health. Also, the P7.35 cost of the anti-diabetic Diamicron from the old P14.75 and the P66 price of the antibiotic Flagil from P132 would benefit thousands of senior citizens in the Philippines.

Roxas cited the case of an 81-year old Antonia Larica and her sons, 59-yr old Pepito and 49-year-old Reynaldo, who are all afflicted with tuberculosis. Pepito is also suffering from cerebral palsy. Antonia has been suffering from TB for 10 years now. They told Roxas and Duque before the hearing that they have been unable to buy their anti-TB drugs because of the unaffordable high-cost of the medicines. The Larica family, all living in one roof, only earns at most P300 a daily from selling used plastics for their food and drug requirements. On lean days, their earning is only P120.

Roxas also cited the case of a 54-year old Oscar Advincula, who suffered a heart attack while serving his term behind bars. Since his heart attack in 1999, Advincula said he had not been able to drink his medicines because he could not afford to buy them. His son earns only P50 a day, which is barely enough for their daily food requirements.

While the MRP list is a good move, the DOH needs to do more to further bring down the prices of medicines, Roxas pointed out.

He urged Duque to lobby for more funding for the Bureau of Food and Drugs for the hiring of additional workers to check and monitor the manu-facture and sale of drugs in the country, and for the Philippine International Trading Corporation for the parallel importation of medicines.

"Everyone has a right to live, and it is the government’s duty to prevent poverty figure into the equation of who gets to live or not. That is the bottom line," he stressed. /MP


Slashing 50 Percent Price
of 22 Prescribed Drugs

A year after the law was enacted, the public would soon start experiencing the effects of the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines law through a 50 percent drop in the prices of the top 22 most prescribed drugs in the Philippines, Senator Mar Roxas, the author of the law believes.

"One year after the enactment of the Cheaper Medicines law, finally the DOH is starting to implement it," he claimed.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque had announced an initial "Maximum Retail Price" (MRP) on the 22 most prescribed medicines in the Philippines would be endorsed for President Arroyo’s approval within the week. "After six months of implementation, the DOH and DTI would have jointly studied and perused that there is limited access to some medicines that address public health concerns, thus requiring regulation of prices," Duque said during the oversight committee hearing.

Those included in the initial MRP list are anti-hypertensive, anti-throm-botic, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, antibiotics/anti-bacterial and anti-neoplastic drugs, which prices would be slashed by 50 percent based on the price of the leading brands.

According to Roxas, the MRP list comes at a most opportune time when the country is battling a possible outbreak of the AH1N1 virus and following complaints of senior citizens groups on their inability to buy their maintenance and pre-scription medicines.

The 50 percent slash on the anti-hypertensive drug Norvasc, from the present P44.50 prevailing cost to only P22.50, would help the elderly maintain their health. Also, the P7.35 cost of the anti-diabetic Diamicron from the old P14.75 and the P66 price of the antibiotic Flagil from P132 would benefit thousands of senior citizens in the Philippines.

Roxas cited the case of an 81-year old Antonia Larica and her sons, 59-yr old Pepito and 49-year-old Reynaldo, who are all afflicted with tuberculosis. Pepito is also suffering from cerebral palsy. Antonia has been suffering from TB for 10 years now. They told Roxas and Duque before the hearing that they have been unable to buy their anti-TB drugs because of the unaffordable high-cost of the medicines. The Larica family, all living in one roof, only earns at most P300 a daily from selling used plastics for their food and drug requirements. On lean days, their earning is only P120.

Roxas also cited the case of a 54-year old Oscar Advincula, who suffered a heart attack while serving his term behind bars. Since his heart attack in 1999, Advincula said he had not been able to drink his medicines because he could not afford to buy them. His son earns only P50 a day, which is barely enough for their daily food requirements.

While the MRP list is a good move, the DOH needs to do more to further bring down the prices of medicines, Roxas pointed out.

He urged Duque to lobby for more funding for the Bureau of Food and Drugs for the hiring of additional workers to check and monitor the manu-facture and sale of drugs in the country, and for the Philippine International Trading Corporation for the parallel importation of medicines.

"Everyone has a right to live, and it is the government’s duty to prevent poverty figure into the equation of who gets to live or not. That is the bottom line," he stressed. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente
Akelco Annual General Membership Assembly Myth
I was one among the audience to the so called Akelco Annual General Membership Assembly held Saturday afternoon, June 6 in Lezo, Aklan.

While observing the proceedings happening inside the Job Y. Besana Hall, I thought I was in a wrong activity, not in an assembly. After the preliminary numbers like Doxology, singing of the National Anthem, recog-nition of delegates and guests, and opening remarks. Cong. Joeben T. Miraflores was introduced, the guest speaker. After his message, the three new members of the Akelco Board of Directors took their oath of office.

Business meeting followed with BOD chair Jose Carl C. Quimpo presiding. Engr. Celso Tajanlangit declared there is "Proof of Due Notice" and "Quorum". The minutes of the previous assembly was approved.

Mr. Jose Carl C. Quimpo presented the Report of the Board which enumerated the doings of the BOD. But what Mr. Quimpo reported was his resentment regarding the people’s perception and negative reactions on the doings of Akelco voiced via the Aklan media.

I felt, Mr. Carl Quimpo was seeking refuge among the participants present. I expected he will disclose his answer on the P92 million indebtedness to GBPC or the BOD action on the EPPA between Akelco and Global Mirant among others.

General Manager Chito Peralta delivered his GM’s report. Like Mr. Carl Quimpo, Mr. Peralta exhibited his resentment on the way Akelco management was being criticized in the media as if he was seeking shelter among the participants. But Peralta pledged, "We will keep the lights on".
Akelco must be commended for its 99.14 percent collection efficiency and reducing the system losses to 12.06 percent.

I must congratulate the member consumers for paying the electric bills on time. In his presentation, I was afraid when Mr. Peralta described the deplorable and the predicted short supply of electric power in Panay. I was doubly scared when GM Peralta revealed NPC has unilaterally abrogated its contract to supply Akelco with electric power until 2011. Peralta said, Froilan M. Tampingco of NPC sent him a letter informing NPC will only supply Akelco with electric power until June 25, 2009. After that period, Akelco must source electricity somewhere.

Akelco Board Does None

What did Akelco BOD and management do with that letter from Mr. Tampingco? I waited for any action done on the letter. I never heard any step done to enforce the terms and condition embodied in the said NPC-Akelco contract agreement. Quimpo who claims BOD is working too hard for Akelco consumers did not reveal any measure done to compel compliance on the contract. Peralta was also silent on it except the suggestion to see and talk to Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. May he does it.
Akelco BOD and management could have invoked compliance of the contract. What is contract for? Can either party abrogate it without the consent of the other?

No General Assembly

The thing that took place in Akelco in the afternoon of Saturday, June 6 was no annual general membership assembly.

It was an oath taking ceremonies. It was a refugee seeking exercise in the participants who listened to the lamentation of Carl Quimpo and Chito Peralta on the concerns of the consumers voiced over the radio.

It was only the BOD and management who talked. Participants no talk. They were given one half sheet of paper where to write their questions to be submitted to the table. Some 15 minutes were allotted for open forum but it was cut short because of lack of time. It was an assembly of BOD and management with con-sumer members as listeners.

2008 Annual Report

The 2008 Aklan Electric Cooperative annual report is lauded with 10 messages which came from: Sec. Angelo T. Reyes - Department of Energy, Zenaida G. Cruz-Ducut - Energy Regulatory Board, Francisco G. Silva - Presidential Adviser, Edita S. Bueno-of NEA, Cong. Joeben Miraflores of Aklan, Governor Carlito S. Marquez, Vice Gov. Gabrielle V. Calizo-Quimpo, Lezo Mayor Victor L. Fernandez, Jose Carl C. Quimpo, and Chito R. Peralta both of Akelco.

These messages are quite an accomplishment! It also includes a one paragraph write-up each of the members of the BOD and the general manager.

Also included is a 4 pages Statement of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2008 and 2007. This will be our subject in the next column. Two items are of interests. In 2008, Akelco sold energy valued at P830,853,881. However, for the same period, Akelco spent P957,351,991 or loss of P126,498,110. Is this profitable business?

ERC Penalizes Akelco

For implementing a certain project without any imprimatur from the ERC, Akelco is penalized P496,000. Akelco management offered ERC to pay P248,000 at 50 percent discount. What is the violation Akelco did? Did Akelco accepted its fault without any question?/MP