Sunday, July 26, 2009

E D I T O R I A L


RP, PNG Signs Implementing Arrangements
on Fisheries Cooperation
The Philippines through the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the National Fisheries Autho-rity (NFA) of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea recently signed the imple-menting arrangements on fisheries cooperation projects and on com-plementary competencies for official controls on fishing/freezer vessels in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The two arrangements were signed by the DA-BFAR heads Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr. and NFA Managing Director Sylvester B. Pokajam on July 16 in Papua New Guinea. Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap and Minister Ben Sevire of the Papuan Ministry of Fisheries witnessed the signing.

"The arrangements further flesh up provisions embodied in the Memorandum of Under-standing (MOU) for Fisheries Cooperation between the two countries," Yap pointed out.

Yap and Sevire signed the MOU in the presence of Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Prime Minister Michael Somare in Boracay last March 30, 2009.
Yap pointed out that both countries mutually agreed to cooperate in the areas of marine capture fisheries, aquaculture and skills transfer, among others.

Sarmiento said in marine capture fisheries, the PNG agreed to recognize the existing bilateral agreement that allows access for the Philippine fishing vessels to fish in PNG EEZ as well as in the consideration and issuance of vessel days under the Vessel Days Schemes and in the issuance of license to operate in the waters of PNG in compliance with existing PNG laws, policies and regulations.

Existing and future Philippine onshore investments made by Philippine-based companies in PNG will also continue to be recognized, Sarmiento added. The country is currently PNG’s 6th biggest trading partner.

The Philippines on the other hand shall assist the PNG in aquaculture development and in providing technical assistance in the development of pro-duction enhancement and post-harvest infra-structure facilities such as fish ports and auction type fish markets.

In the second memorandum of arrange-ment, the two countries further agreed to have a mutual agreement and recognition of the inspection protocols and procedures for the fishing/freezer vessels flying PNG and Philippine flags and unloading catch in both countries and/or exporting to European Union (EU).

The EU in its Commission Decision 2006/766/EC recognizes the DA-BFAR and the NFA as competent authority or CA of each country, respectively. As a CA, these institutions are tasked to verify and certify compliance of fishery and aquaculture products in accordance with the EU Hygiene Regulations.

Under this specific agreement, the DA-BFAR, delegates its capacity to NFA to regularly inspect the fishing and/or freezer vessels to ensure com-pliance with the EU requirements while operating in PNG waters; inspect the fishing and/or freezer vessels carrying and landing fish in PNG EU accredited facility intended for export to the EU market; and to recommend measures deemed necessary to ensure compliance to EU requirements for both the fishing and/or freezer vessels and for fish products intended for export to the EU market.

The NFA on the other hand agrees to delegate its authority to DA-BFAR to undertake all the above mentioned inspection procedures to PNG fishing and/or freezer vessels operating in the RP EEZ. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer


Ambrosio R. Villorente

Erosion in the Runway

The Trans Asia Airways


The provincial leaders of Aklan like Gov. Carlito S. Marquez and Cong. Joeben T. Miraflores aspire Aklan’s infrastructures to be globally competitive. However, technical people implementing the projects appear less competent.

Take the case of the Kalibo International Airport. Last week, that airport was closed for almost 24 hours after some portions of asphalt overlay was removed from the runway when a plane landed and taxied.

That destruction rendered the airport dangerous to land. Some 1,000 passengers were stranded in Kalibo while another 1,000 Kalibo bound passengers were stranded in Metro Manila.

According to the engineer in charge of the project, the asphalt overly maybe short of glue to make the asphalt as strong to withstand erosion when the plane passes on.

In another incident, a debris went into the engine of the Trans Asia Airways when its plane from Taipei, Taiwan landed in Kalibo International Airport two weeks ago. The pilots didn’t fly the plane back until it was repaired. Some four blades in the engine broke which needed replacement.

The outbound passengers and crew members were stranded in Kalibo. They waited for the plane to be repaired.
The Trans Asia Airways dispatched a plane from Taipei to Kalibo with aircraft mechanics and spare parts. The plane was repaired the following day which departed after 9:00 o’clock in the morning.

According to reliable source, that foreign bodies which damaged the plane engine are debris left the night before while the repair crew worked on the runway.

The carelessness of the engineers working on the Kalibo Airport has resulted to losses to the Airlines and a black eye to the Province of Aklan tourism program.

Is the contractor in the airport development in Kalibo liable to pay the airline companies which suffered damages? Is the building contractor here to maximize profit and sacrifice quality? Are the airline companies which suffered losses entitled to compensation? The contractor must not only pay the damages but must be relieved of the job.

Teacher Pupil Reunion



Officials of the International Federation of the Red Cross, Philippine National Red Cross, and local government units with Sen. Richard Gordon.


Monday, July 20 was a great day for Atty. Filemon C. Fernandez and Sen. Richard Gordon. Gordon was a pupil of Atty. Fernandez at Letran College, Manila. Atty. Fernandez is now the current Barangay chairman of Aliputos, Numancia, Aklan.

Sen. Gordon went to Aliputos to preside in the turn-over ceremonies of the 603 units of houses constructed in Numancia, New Washington, and Kalibo for the victims of typhoon Frank. Beside being a Sen. Gordon is also the chairman of the Philippines National Red Cross which worked for the houses construction financed by the International Federation of the Red Cross.

In his speech, Gordon recalled the many lessons learned from Atty. Fernandez which con-tributed to his successes. Gordon cited the assistance which enabled him to get the gold medal in the Spelling Bee Contest.

Before he concluded his message, Gordon pledged to provide blood bank to Aklan (PNRC, Aklan Chapter) and an ambulance complete with necessary equipment. He also pledged to finance the cementing of a road in Aliputos and repair the buildings of Aliputos Elementary School. /MP

Aklan Provincial Tourism Council


Ms. Vicky Ramos Antonino was elected co-chairperson of the Aklan Provincial Tourism Council in an organizational meeting presided by Governor Carlito S. Marquez. The meeting was held at the conference room of the Provincial Governor on Wednesday afternoon, July 22, 2009.

The organization of the Provincial Tourism Council is in implementation of the General Ordinance No. 2009-003, "An Ordinance Enacting The Tourism Code of Aklan". This code was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan on April 2, 2009. It was also approved by Gov. Carlito S. Marquez.

Among other provisions, Article IV mandates the creation of the "Aklan Provincial Tourism Council (APTC) which shall be the highest coordinating and policy formulating body on tourism in the province".

As authorized by Article IV, Section 11, this APTC is composed of 40 members. It is headed by the Provincial Governor as chairperson and the Vice Governor of Aklan as vice chairperson. The other members come form various organizations in Aklan involved in the tourism industry. Of these 40 members, 60 percent or 24 will come from the private sector and 40 percent or 16 from government.

Under Section II. B, the members of the APTC will elect seen (7) members from among themselves to constitute as the Board of Directors.

After a brief discussion during the meeting, it was agreed that the members elect their Board of Directors members.

Since the chairperson and the vice chairperson are already given in the name of Governor Carlito S. Marquez and Vice Governor Billie V. Calizo-Quimpo respectively, only five (5) members will be elected. Moreover, Gov. Marquez requested the members present to give him the benefit of selecting a person of his trust, confidence, and choice for the position of co-chairperson. Everybody in the meeting agreed as there was no negative reaction on the request. Ms. Vicky Ramos Antonino was then elected co-chairperson.

The election for the remaining four (4) members of the Board proceeded. Seven (7) members were nominated. The following were elected by secret balloting. Ms. Erlinda Quimpo Fernandez Wilson who represents Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI); Mr. Bong Tirol of Shangrila Hotel, Mr. Albert Meñez of the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Tourism Council and Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente of the media.

The Provincial Tourism office then was requested to serve as Council Secretariat. Some priority activities were lined up like the preparation of Implemen-ting Rules and Regulation, and the creation of relevant committees. /MP

Gordon Leads PNRC Turnover of 603 Homes


Sen. Gordon turning over certificate of occupancy to Atty. Filemon C. Fernandez, Brgy. Chairman of Aliputos, Numancia and Mayor Elverita T. Templonuevo.

In Aklan, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon (Ind.) led in the turnover of 603 Red Cross homes to beneficiaries in the Province of Aklan on Monday, July 20. The homes turned over are in addition to the more than 15,000 already turned over by the PNRC to people who had lost their houses during natural disasters. The house recipients in Aklan are victims of typhoon Frank.

"Our mission is to bring help to the most vulnerable and bring an end to the cycle of poverty and disaster. It is our hope that by providing shelter to those who have lost their homes, we can help people rebuild their lives and become productive again," said Gordon in his speech. The turnover ceremonies was held in Brgy. Aliputos, Numancia, Aklan.

Barely a month after Typhoon Feria swept across, a large number of people may be coming to term with its aftermath. The NDCC reported that 13,273 families or 63,021 persons were affected by the tropical storm from the provinces of Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, Romblon, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, Masbate, Camarines Sur, Antique, Cebu, Leyte, Biliran, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, and the National Capital Region.

A total of 758 houses were totally damaged while 6,665 were partially damaged by storm. Gordon said that providing shelter to those who may have lost their homes should be prioritized.

The Red Cross under Gordon’s leadership has completed a total of 15,012 homes, of which about 6,634 families benefited from full shelter kits and the remaining 8,378 were from roofing kits given by the PNRC.
The PNRC had been in the forefront of helping the victims of major disasters and emergencies that hit the country such as Ginsaugon, Southern Leyte landslide, typhoons Reming, Milenyo, Winnie, Yoyong, Unding, Violeta and the on-going Mindanao conflict.

Apart from raising funds for the acquisition of housing materials, Gordon secured the assistance not only of the international aid agencies and other foreign governments but also of the Philippine and US military in transporting the materials. In partnership with the Australian Aid (AusAid), Cruz Roja Española (Spanish Red Cross), European Com-mission Humanitarian Aid, Agencia Española Coope-racion Internationale and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the PNRC was able to provide shelter to the most vulnerable.

The largest numbers of Red Cross homes were built in several towns in the province of Camarines Sur, which totaled to 5,600, of which 3,360 families were given full shelter kits and 2,240 others with roofing kits.

A total of 2,640 homes were built for victims of Typhoon Yoyong. A thousand families who lost their homes in the towns of Bacacay, Legaspi, and Manito in Albay were provided with 600 full shelter kits and 400 roofing kits; another one thousand families in the towns of Bato, Virac, and San Andres in Catanduanes were provided with 600 full shelter kits and 400 roofing kits.

A total of 822 Red Cross homes were also built in Aurora Provinces, 827 homes in Isabela, and 802 in the towns of Mulanay and San Francisco in Quezon Province.

About 500 homes were likewise built in Casiguran, Prieto, Diaz, and Gubat, Bacon in Sorsogon; 802 in Baco, Bulalacao, Calapan, Naujan, and Victoria in Mindoro Oriental; 802 in Buenavista, Mogpog, Sta. Cruz, and Torrijos in Marinduque; and eight out of the initial 24 housing units in Lanao del Norte.


Gordon Urges Tourism Stakeholders Take Active Role
In Improving RP Tourism


Sen. Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) urged tourism stakeholders to take an active part in improving the country’s tourism industry by getting involved in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Tourism Act of 2009.

"What needs to be done is to get the tourism business organized. You all know what the industry needs and you must act now and take the bull by the horns," said Gordon, who is the principal author of the tourism law.

"All of you in the tourism industry must work together and draft an IRR. Go to the provinces and look for potential enterprise zones and create tourism packages. You have to organize the industry. Do not let the others dictate the pace for you; you must dictate the pace yourself," he urged.

Gordon said, "the tourism law, which was signed into law in Cebu, states that representatives from different sectors of the tourism industry shall be part of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Board".

"A Tourism Related Industry Congress (TRI-CON) will be convened so that tourism stakeholders can choose the people who are going to occupy – not for title, but for development of the industry – positions in the Tourism Promotions Board and the TIEZA," Gordon, a former tourism secretary, pointed out.

The TPB shall be responsible for marketing and promoting the Philippines domestically and internationally as a major global tourism destination, highlighting the uniqueness and assisting the development of its tourism products, with the end in view of increasing tourist arrivals and tourism investments.

Meanwhile, the TIEZA Board shall supervise and regulate the cultural, economic and environ-mentally sustainable development of tourism enterprise zones, which are areas that will be developed to lure domestic and foreign investors and tourists.

"The government and the tourism stakeholders must work hand in hand to make the tourism law effective. With the faithful implementation of this law, the nation can have a better institution to regulate and promote tourism and install the necessary infrastructures to make our country truly world-class," Gordon said. /MP

Notice of Public Hearing


The management of the Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO) invites all interested parties and members-consumers to attend the Public Hearing on the joint application of AKELCO and National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO) for the Approval filed before the Energy Regulatory Com-mission (ERC) docketed as ERC Case No. 2009-051 RC.

In the said joint application, AKELCO sought the approval of the sale of various sub-transmission lines/assets particularly the Nabas-Caticlan 69 KV Line and 1.8 KM 69 KV Submarine Cable link from Caticlan to Boracay Island owned by TRANSCO.

Thus, the urgency to approve AKELCO’s joint application is necessary to improve AKELCO’s power reliability and capacity performance within the franchise area which will eliminate obligation to TRANSCO’s transmission charges.

For all interested parties, the initial hearing and preliminary conference will be held on August 11, 2009, Tuesday at exactly one thirty (1:30 p.m.) in the afternoon at the ERC hearing Room, 15th Floor, Pacific Center Building, San Miguel Avenue, Pasig City. Thank you. /MP

Roxas Commends 13 Filipino ‘Mathletes’


For 4th Place Win in World Math Competition
Sen. Mar Roxas this week hailed local grown Math experts who won 27 medals and placed fourth in the recent 10th World Youth Invitational Mathematics Intercity (IWYMIC) Competition held recently in Durban, South Africa.

"I salute the Filipino people. This is clear proof that we can compete with the world’s best," he said in filing Senate Resolution No. 1203 urging his colleagues to recognize the achievement of the 13-man Filipino contingent which participated in the IWYMIC from July 5 to 10.

"The various honors and achievements won by the Philippine delegation to IWYMIC only show that our youth can compete and win against the best students in the world, thus providing another source of inspiration to our Filipino youth," he said in PSR No. 1203.

The Visayan senator said due recognition should be given to the 13 Filipino numbers aces, namely: Geraldine Baniqued from St. Paul College-Pasig, Arielle Elise Chua from St. Jude Catholic School, Russell Virata from Gideon Academy, Zheng Rong Wu from Zamboanga Chong Hua High School, Adrian Raphael Co from British School Manila, Matthew Chris Chan from St. Stephen’s High School, Ostin John Ong from Bacolod Trinity Christian School, Vance Eldric Go from St. Jude Catholic School-Manila, Elvis Jeremy Ayroso from Philippine Science High School-Manila, Sarah Jane Cua from Pangasinan Universal Institute, Paolo Manuel Iyulores of Ateneo de Manila High School, Janssen Kotah from Philippine Cultural College, and Hanz Vladimir Cabanes from Zamboanga Chong Hua High School.

The "Mathletes" got four (4) silver, 23 bronze medals, trophies and certificates in the formal awards ceremonies held at the auditorium of the Durban City Hall on July 9. A total of 228 high school students competed in this year’s contest, which was topped by math aces from China, Singapore and Thailand.
Baniqued, Chua, Virata and Wu, who formed the Philippines’ Team A posted a 1st Runner-Up finish in the team category and brought home silver medals and a trophy.

Bronze medals and a trophy were brought home by Team B composed of Co, Chan, Ong and Go while Ayroso, Iyulores, Kotah and Cabanes of Team C received a Merit Award, all in the team category competition.

Seven "Mathletes" got bronze medals for earning high marks in the individual category competition, and these were Baniqued, Virata, Wu, Chan, Go, Ayroso and Cua while Co, Ong, Chua and Iyulores were awarded certificates of merit for satisfactory scores in the individual category. /MP

Roxas Commends 13 Filipino ‘Mathletes’


For 4th Place Win in World Math Competition
Sen. Mar Roxas this week hailed local grown Math experts who won 27 medals and placed fourth in the recent 10th World Youth Invitational Mathematics Intercity (IWYMIC) Competition held recently in Durban, South Africa.

"I salute the Filipino people. This is clear proof that we can compete with the world’s best," he said in filing Senate Resolution No. 1203 urging his colleagues to recognize the achievement of the 13-man Filipino contingent which participated in the IWYMIC from July 5 to 10.

"The various honors and achievements won by the Philippine delegation to IWYMIC only show that our youth can compete and win against the best students in the world, thus providing another source of inspiration to our Filipino youth," he said in PSR No. 1203.

The Visayan senator said due recognition should be given to the 13 Filipino numbers aces, namely: Geraldine Baniqued from St. Paul College-Pasig, Arielle Elise Chua from St. Jude Catholic School, Russell Virata from Gideon Academy, Zheng Rong Wu from Zamboanga Chong Hua High School, Adrian Raphael Co from British School Manila, Matthew Chris Chan from St. Stephen’s High School, Ostin John Ong from Bacolod Trinity Christian School, Vance Eldric Go from St. Jude Catholic School-Manila, Elvis Jeremy Ayroso from Philippine Science High School-Manila, Sarah Jane Cua from Pangasinan Universal Institute, Paolo Manuel Iyulores of Ateneo de Manila High School, Janssen Kotah from Philippine Cultural College, and Hanz Vladimir Cabanes from Zamboanga Chong Hua High School.

The "Mathletes" got four (4) silver, 23 bronze medals, trophies and certificates in the formal awards ceremonies held at the auditorium of the Durban City Hall on July 9. A total of 228 high school students competed in this year’s contest, which was topped by math aces from China, Singapore and Thailand.

Baniqued, Chua, Virata and Wu, who formed the Philippines’ Team A posted a 1st Runner-Up finish in the team category and brought home silver medals and a trophy.

Bronze medals and a trophy were brought home by Team B composed of Co, Chan, Ong and Go while Ayroso, Iyulores, Kotah and Cabanes of Team C received a Merit Award, all in the team category competition.

Seven "Mathletes" got bronze medals for earning high marks in the individual category competition, and these were Baniqued, Virata, Wu, Chan, Go, Ayroso and Cua while Co, Ong, Chua and Iyulores were awarded certificates of merit for satisfactory scores in the individual category. /MP

Roxas Commends 13 Filipino ‘Mathletes’


For 4th Place Win in World Math Competition
Sen. Mar Roxas this week hailed local grown Math experts who won 27 medals and placed fourth in the recent 10th World Youth Invitational Mathematics Intercity (IWYMIC) Competition held recently in Durban, South Africa.

"I salute the Filipino people. This is clear proof that we can compete with the world’s best," he said in filing Senate Resolution No. 1203 urging his colleagues to recognize the achievement of the 13-man Filipino contingent which participated in the IWYMIC from July 5 to 10.

"The various honors and achievements won by the Philippine delegation to IWYMIC only show that our youth can compete and win against the best students in the world, thus providing another source of inspiration to our Filipino youth," he said in PSR No. 1203.

The Visayan senator said due recognition should be given to the 13 Filipino numbers aces, namely: Geraldine Baniqued from St. Paul College-Pasig, Arielle Elise Chua from St. Jude Catholic School, Russell Virata from Gideon Academy, Zheng Rong Wu from Zamboanga Chong Hua High School, Adrian Raphael Co from British School Manila, Matthew Chris Chan from St. Stephen’s High School, Ostin John Ong from Bacolod Trinity Christian School, Vance Eldric Go from St. Jude Catholic School-Manila, Elvis Jeremy Ayroso from Philippine Science High School-Manila, Sarah Jane Cua from Pangasinan Universal Institute, Paolo Manuel Iyulores of Ateneo de Manila High School, Janssen Kotah from Philippine Cultural College, and Hanz Vladimir Cabanes from Zamboanga Chong Hua High School.

The "Mathletes" got four (4) silver, 23 bronze medals, trophies and certificates in the formal awards ceremonies held at the auditorium of the Durban City Hall on July 9. A total of 228 high school students competed in this year’s contest, which was topped by math aces from China, Singapore and Thailand.

Baniqued, Chua, Virata and Wu, who formed the Philippines’ Team A posted a 1st Runner-Up finish in the team category and brought home silver medals and a trophy.

Bronze medals and a trophy were brought home by Team B composed of Co, Chan, Ong and Go while Ayroso, Iyulores, Kotah and Cabanes of Team C received a Merit Award, all in the team category competition.

Seven "Mathletes" got bronze medals for earning high marks in the individual category competition, and these were Baniqued, Virata, Wu, Chan, Go, Ayroso and Cua while Co, Ong, Chua and Iyulores were awarded certificates of merit for satisfactory scores in the individual category. /MP

Aklan’s 10 Towns, 2 NGOs Avail of POPCOM’S Fund


Some ten (10) Aklan towns and two (2) Non-Government Orga-nizations (NGOs) are recent recipients of direct funding assistance from the Commission on Population (POPCOM).

According to Arturo P. Teodosio Jr., head of Aklan Provincial Population Office in Kalibo, Aklan the funding assistance is for the program on Responsible Parenting Movement (RPM) and Natural Family Planning (NFP) coursed through POPCOM’s Regional Office 6.

Teodosio said, "the funding support is an offshoot of Aklan’s good performance on RPM and NFP due to the strong support of Governor Carlito S. Marquez and the Sangguniang Pan-lalawigan of Aklan".

The first batch of the LGUs which received direct funding from POPCOM are Altavas, P175,000.00; Balete, P187,500.00; and Libacao, P424,200 (initial release). Director Vicente N. Molejona of the Regional Population Office personally turned over the checks to municipal mayors in their respective towns last Feb. 28 and May 14.

The other 7 towns which recently received their checks from POPCOM 6, also personally distributed by Director Molejona during a simple turnover ceremony at the Office of Governor Marquez in Kalibo were Tangalan, which received P225,000.00 (initial release); Batan, P50,000.00; Malinao, P125,000.00; Nabas, P125,000.00; Buruanga, P125,000.00; and Ibajay, P125,000.00. Also present during the turnover was Aklan Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo.

On the other hand, the two NGOs are the Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes Memorial Foun-dation, Inc. and the Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Services Cooperative of Aklan received P630,000.00 and P15,250.00 respectively.

The recent funding assistance from POPCOM given to Aklan amounted to a total of P3,443,750.00. /MP

Biology Lab Manual Is Off The Press


A Laboratory Manual in Biology co-authored by Mrs. Lorna T. Sison and Mrs. Edna M. Beloria rolled off the press on July 14, 2009. The improved version of the Manual is its integration of the Mangrove Eco-System which is one aspect and important natural resource of the Philippines, the Province of Aklan in particular.

This Manual is inspired by the successful mangrove forest of Kalibo which has earned international awards and recognition. The latest award came from the UNFAO for Exemplary Forest Management in Asia and the Pacific in 2005.

NVC president Allen S. Quimpo lauded the authors Mrs. Sison and Mrs. Beloria for a work well done even as he exhorted the NVC faculty to produce books, journals, and scientific materials incorporating and enhancing knowledge of our indigenous and rich natural resource.

Sison holds an M.A. in Biology while Beloria is a candidate for MA in Biology.

Santillan Heads SY 2009-2010 NVC Forum

Sheryl N. Santillan, MasCom student topped the NVC Forum Editorial Board as Editor-in-Chief for S.Y. 2009-2010. She hurdled the tough written test and interview.

Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente and Mr. Jun Aguirre, Adviser and Asst. Adviser, respectively submitted their recom-mendation to President Allen S. Quimpo the names to compose the Forum Editorial Board.

The following are this year’s NVC Forum Editorial Board: Sheryl N. Santillan-Editor-in-Chief; Ritchie D. Oloroso-Associate Editor; Jeda L. Sale-Managing Editor; Hilrene R. Montano-News Editor; Charissa Mae Tan-Feature Editor; Gretel Bea C. Enero-Literary Editor (English); Michelle Repedro-Literary Editor (Pilipino); Niño Miko L. Delfin-Marketing; Roderick Candelario-Layout Artist; Correspondents: Mabeth Rowan-AB Annaliza Barraca - BSED; JC Ilio-Computer Science; Mielord Loyola-Criminology; Gloria Villas-HRM; Arly Lopez-Computer Science; Shammie Sabay-BEED; Churchill Gumboc-Aeronautics;Glazy Cipriano-Computer Secretarial; Arnold Rogan-Commerce; Ace Feliciano-High School; Gregg Marionn V. Icay-Elementary; Ella Dian R. Jaruda; Pool Writers: Cris Bryan Zaspa; Ma. Grace Luces; and Cyril Dumancas.

President Quimpo lauded the selection of the new Forum staffers even as he exhorted them to hold in high respect the tradition of the FORUM as the voice of the NVC Community in the search for Academic excellence and the primacy of truth. /MP

DETENTION DOES NOT DETER


Trillanes Files 285 Bills
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV last week said that being in detention is not a deterrent in performing his functions as a member of Congress. He was able to file 285 bills and 21 resolutions in only his second year in office.

"Being in detention is basically not a hindrance to my work as a legislator. I can still push for my advocacies through the filing of bills and, more importantly, be a voice of defiance against a regime that is reputed as the most corrupt in our nation’s history," said Trillanes, who remains incarcerated at the Camp Crame Custodial Center, Quezon City.

Of the bills filed by the senator, six (6) have been passed into law, based on a published report.

Trillanes is principal author of the Archipelagic Baselines Law, which original version included Scarborough Shoal within the baselines. He is also co-author of the Salary Standardization Law, both enacted this year. He previously co-authored the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2007.

His total of 285 bills filed ranks sixth among 23 senators, according to the Senate Bills and Index Division.

Trillanes’s bills cover several advocacies such as poverty alleviation, national defense and security, affordable and accessible health care and education, and envi-ronmental protection.

With poverty alleviation as a priority due to the current economic crisis, Trillanes has filed bills for the P125 across-the-board salary increase for private sector employees and the repeal of the EVAT Law.

He also pushed for governance reforms such as the modernization of the agriculture and fisheries sectors; the cap on public sector debt; and the creation of the Mindanao Development Authority. /MP

Coop Target: Long Way Off the Mark


by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM



Picture above shows Ms. Racel I. Gomez, Ms. Lilian R. Rey
and Mr. Jones R. Arieta.


"Cooperative Situation in Aklan" was discussed in the Kapehan sa Aklan weekly forum on July 18, 2009. Panelist were Mr. Jones R. Arieta, Coope-rative Development Officer, Ms. Lilian R. Rey, Provincial Cooperative Officer, and Ms. Racel I. Gomez, chairperson, Vermicast Producers Multi-purpose Cooperative of Numancia.

In his opening statement, Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino brought into focus the monumental achievement of Rochdale weavers of England in 1884 who triumphed over economic adversities. Founders Robert Owen and William King hardly knew that that cooperative movement will become precursor of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the New World. Formidable spirit of self reliance, industry and strict adherence to democratic principles empowered people from all walks of life to embrace cooperativism said the former Vice Governor of Aklan.

"Cooperative movement was introduced in the Philippines by Dr. Jose P. Rizal while on exile in Dapitan", said Mr. Arieta. The nature of business was trading and financing of agricultural goods. Coo-peratives flourished to some extent but floundered with Dr. Rizal’s death and martyrdom.

Socio-economic impact of cooperatives in Aklan can be fairly doing well according to Mr. Arieta. Records show that in 2008, CDA registered cooperatives were 560 with 17,270 members. The total asset stood at P451 million; the capital build-up of P35 million; savings generation of P125 million; volume of business transitions of P650 million and employment generation of 2,875. However, due to mis-management and technical problems, out of 560 cooperatives, only 300 are functional today. At any rate, fallout can be a blessing in disguise since the office is seriously undermanned with only two personnel.

Mr. Arieta considers three factors vital to survival and growth of cooperatives in this country. They are; a) continuous education, b) committed leadership, and c) accountability.

Cooperatives Act (RA 7960) of the 1980’s has been duly amended by RA 9520 or the Philippines Cooperative Code of 2008. Major revisions are mandatory pre-membership education, no fixed term of office of BOD, no government employee in BOD and identified bookkeeper in its administrative staff.

Ms. Rey underscored that although 15 members can organize themselves into a cooperative, present thrust of CDA is for increased membership in existing cooperatives. This means mergers and fusion of capital build-up.

Ms. Gomez said that Numancia Vermicast Producers MPC won the One Town One Product (OTOP) category because of its vermicast product that is increasingly patronized by provincial customers. The agri-aqua business venture started with 23 backyard enthusiasts that were later registered with CDA in 2006. Presently, the firm is recipient of P437,500 grant from Plant Philippines which targets 250 farmers, aquaculturists and horti-culturists who will engage in organic farming.

African Night Crawlers (ANC) are voracious feeders of plant and animal wastes. It converts them into humus, a complete plant food. Earthworms contain 60 percent protein and are suitable as feed for aquarium fish and poultry. Other potential uses are on cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

Issues and concerns are on high mortality rate of cooperative organizations in the country. Sen. Rodolfo Biazon revealed three years ago that of 560,000 cooperatives, only one fifth were active, the rest inactive due to insolvency and corruption. The case of the Cooperative Rural Bank of Aklan (CRB) with branches in Ibajay, Aklan and Pandan, Antique is a classic example that conspires against the noble intents of cooperatives.

Dr. Gabrielle Delfin, Dean, Institute of Economic and Policy Studies, NVC lamented over the loss of Samahang Nayon funds which were deposited with CRBA. "Remember these are hard earned savings of small farmers," Delfin stressed.

Presently, CRBA is under receivership of Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp (PDIC) but payment of insurance claims of individual depositors is limited to P250,000. Worse, progress on criminal investigation into mismanagement of funds are not transparent, court verdict may take decades thus prolonging frustration and agony of member-depositors.

Atty. Allen S. Quimpo said that, "there is popular demand for Akelco to register with CDA despite reticence of BOD to hold on to the cuttails of National Electrification Administration" (NEA). Cogent reason is public outcry against high power rates and being an inefficient service provider. Everybody agreed how-ever, that policy change could be effected once majority of the consumer-members of the power firm compels BOD to pass a referendum seeking immediate registration with CDA.

Cooperative develop-ment in the province although in existence for some 50 years is a long way off from its target of socio-economic emancipation for bottom third segment of the present population. Prudence dictates that quality, not quantity determines success in any human development. Accurate knowledge of the goals coupled with self imposed discipline by members of the cooperative can be pivotal point towards progress and stability.

Distorted view of cooperatives can only be reversed if the government is serious about meeting out justice for crimes committed. Confidence building is vital to rebuild shattered image. Inaction is likened to an ostrich burying its head in the sand when danger lurks. Facts eloquently speak for itself. /MP

Sunday, July 19, 2009

EDITORIAL

Increasing Unemployed,
Underemployed Pinoys Abroad


GOVERNMENT feels relieved that amid the current tide of job displacements as a result of the ongoing global economic crisis, the recent round of the quarterly Labor Force Survey revealed a lower unemployment rate.

Yet the Philippines, a country with a ballooning labor force, still has a visible number of unemployed and underemployed in spite of rising overseas migration by Filipinos.

One wonders if overseas migration, regarded many times as a stop-gap measure to rising homeland unemployment, had mitigated the inability of the country to generate more jobs and decrease unemployment, a nonprofit group’s policy brief wrote.

“While the country, in 2008, had the lowest unemployment rate (6.8 percent) in the last 12 years, there are still a visible number of jobless Filipinos,” the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI) wrote.

And even if the rate of underemployment (a condition where people work less than eight hours a day, or where people are self-employed) is reducing lately, the actual number of underemployed is growing, the Institute’s policy brief on overseas migration and domestic employment conditions wrote.

From 1997 to 2008, the Philippines’ employed labor force grew from 27.888 million to 34.533 million. The number of unemployed Filipinos, meanwhile, has been going up and down during the 12-year period even as there are about six million underemployed Filipinos as of 2008.

Over the same 12-year period, the combined total of temporary migrants and permanent migrants has risen —from 801,755 in 1997 to 1,447,6233 in 2008.

The 1997 combined total of 801,755 Filipinos who went overseas makes up 33.73 percent of that year’s total homeland unemployed (2.377 million). The 2008 combined total of 1,447,623, for its part, is now 57.33 percent of the 2008 total homeland unemployed.

The number of overseas Filipinos and the country’s un-employed and under-employed are all increasing, writes Dawn Naisa Majaducon. The situation reflects the reality in the Philippine labor market that the country cannot generate as many jobs for the growing number of workers.

The institute cautions government if it relies on sending more people abroad as the easy-way out of facilitating job opportunities for citizens.

“While overseas migration will be a reaction for Filipinos to get out of employment-related problems in the Philippines relying too much on overseas migration will ultimately challenge stakeholders’ efforts to improve domestic employment conditions,” IMDI stressed.

Apart from the significant reductions in unemployment and underemployment, homeland employment-related conditions must be watched out beside the continued overseas migration, wages, labor productivity, supply of skilled labor at home, poverty, and inequality as contributory to the deterioration of the quality of jobs here in the country. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente

Congratulations! Numancia!

Congratulations is heartily extended to the Local Government Unit of Numancia for being adjudged “Provincial Grand Slam Champion” in One Town One Product Implementation of the DTI.

LGU Numancia was awarded “The Best LGU OTOP Implementer”. EI Earthworm Farm of former Numancia Mayor Ernesto I. Templonuevo as “Outstanding OTOP MSME–Agri-Aquaculture”, and the Numancia Vermicast Producers MPC as the “Most Supportive OTOP Partner Organization”. Congratulations’ Numanciahanons.
Veterans Avenue Vendors
Vendors who were allowed to exhibit and sell their products by the sidewalks along Veterans Avenue, Kalibo are continuously selling their products particularly snack food. LGU Kalibo has allowed them to use that space during the Ati-Atihan season. However, until today, they are still there. They are at Veterans Avenue in front of DTI office building, just along the perimeter fence of Kalibo Elementary School.

While they are vending food, sanitation is too far behind. There is no running water to clean the space, kitchen, and cooking equipment. Is there comfort room? Wow, none!

For one thing, their presence makes the place risky. Since the sidewalk is occupied, the pedestrians are forced to pass on the middle of the road. The vendors’ presence just outside the perimeter fence of Kalibo Elementary School makes it more dangerous to the school children patronizing their goods for sale. It is hazard to vehicles, and health.

Can I add? Is it eyesores? Yes, it is quite ugly. It makes Poblacion, Kalibo ugly.
Justifiable
What will justify the presence of vendors in Veterans Avenue? Do they have Mayor’s Permit? I don’t really know. It is only the Honorable Mayor of Kalibo who knows.

How much tax do they pay? I do not know either. It is only the Municipal Treasurer of Kalibo who is in the know.

Who can justify their presence? Too bad, I can’t answer this question. It is for the vendors and to the officials concerned of the Municipality of Kalibo to justify their presence at Veterans Avenue.

To me and to some, their presence at Veterans Avenue on this season of the year can not be justified. Veterans Avenue is a wrong place for them to maintain stores. That avenue is for vehicles and pedestrians use only.
Worsening Traffic

In Boracay Island resort, two police officers were removed out of their assignments caused by land disputes between two families. This shows the importance of Boracay.

In Kalibo and other Municipalities of Aklan, it seems nobody cares. LGU officials and police officers are not bothered by the worsening traffic situation particularly in Kalibo. The roads are bad with potholes which are filled with muddy water resulting to bumps. During sunny days, the roads are dusty and pollute the air. What? Enjoy the dry dust!

Aklan has the greatest democracy in the world. I emphasize traffic. Park, stop, and run at any speed of your choice. Drivers drive their vehicles at high beam in the evening. How bright it is! Some drives dim because all light valves are busted.

It is nice and enjoyable to live in Aklan. There is more democracy. /MP

Numancia OTOP Bags Grandslam Awards

The Municipality of Numancia was adjudged as the Provincial Grand Slam Champion in One Town One Product (OTOP) implementation of the Department of Trade and Industry. The proclamation was done during the 1st OTOP Congress in Aklan cum PMSMEDC IEC Campaign dated July 14, 2009 at the Gov. Corazon L. Cabagnot Memorial Tourism and Training Center, Old Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan.

LGU – Numancia was awarded as THE BEST LGU OTOP Implementer. EI Earthworm Farm of former Mayor Ernesto I. Templonuevo also bagged the OUTSTANDING OTOP MSME – Agri-Aquaculture Category and the Numancia Vermicast Producers MPC was chosen as THE MOST SUPPORTIVE OTOP PARTNER ORGANIZATION. The Plaques of Recognition are handed by the Assistant Secretary of DTI-RODG Ms. Ma Theresa “Angel” L. Pelayo – Ty, who claimed to be an Aklanon to the winners. She was assisted by Provincial Gov. Carlito S. Marquez, Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo of Kalibo and DTI Provincial Director Diosdado P. Cadena, Jr. /MP

Aklan PPO Honors


For returning P8,000 cash to the rightful owner, the Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) awards the certificate of recognition to Manny Marcelino. He is a tricycle driver and a resident of Kalibo, Aklan who returned valuable items and cash money amounting to P 8,000 to a member of the Kalibo Police Station. The recognition is part of the Kick-Off Day of the 14th year Police Community Relations Month at Camp Pastor Martelino, New Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan.

According to the newly assumed Aklan PPO Officer In-charge Police Supt Anthony B Maghari, the Aklan PPO greatly recognizes the invaluable act of honesty of a tricycle driver for returning valuable items without hesitation despite of economic crisis.

The honesty of this person is a manifestation of trust to our organization. It is virtues that show act of heroism and exemplar not only to the members of the PNP but also to himself and entire Aklan province, Maghari stressed.

PSupt. Maghari pointed out the Police Community Relations (PCR) is the top priority on his stint as Officer In-charge. Other aspects in our organization will follow through when good police community relations will prioritize. We realized that good PCR helps a lot especially in conducting investigations and community part-nership with programs and projects implemented by Aklan PPO. /MP

Rebaldo is NVC Alumni President Elect


Hon. Jean Acevedo Rebaldo, BSC ’73 and Brgy. Captain of Pob., Kalibo is elected President of the NVC Alumni Foundation, Inc. Kalibo Chapter during the organizational meeting held on Saturday, July 11 at Kalibo Barangay Hall, Kalibo, Aklan.

Other officers elected with Rebaldo are: Ernesto G. Hilario-Vice President, Sanita Mendoza-secretary, Leticia Tansinco-treasurer, Desediria A. Alejandro-P.R.O, and Eduardo Nocun, Merlyn Caldeo-Areda, Tereista Carillo-Fagtanac, Gloria Morania-Alair, and Jesusa Tang-Villarue-members of the Board of Directors.

After the election, Rebaldo appealed to all NVCian Alumni of Kalibo to lead in the participation and to reach out to other alumni. /MP

Public Consultation Sa Benchmarking Ginahimo

Para makatao it naga kaigong impormasyon sa bag-ong gina proposed nga Rules for Setting the Electric Cooperatives’ Wheeling Rates (RSEC-WR) o ginatawag nga “Benchmarking” it Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), ro taeatapan it AKELCO hay padayon nga nagahimo it Public Consultation sa tanan nga distrito.

Raya hay gina pangunahan it Institutional Development Department kun siin gina pahisayod man ro gin presenter it ERC sa ginhiwat nga Public Hearing ku Hunyo 30 sa Akelco Lezo kun siin nagatuyo nga maipaabot sa mga miyembro-kon-sumidor ro gina proponer it nasambit nga ahensya nga maka establisar it sangka methodology o pamaagi para makahimo it paearehas nga distribution wheeling rates sa tanan nga Electric Cooperatives (ECs) sa bilog nga nasyon.

Sa Public Consultation, gina presenter ro mga pagbag-o sa pag-ubra it tariff rates kaparehas it bag-ong standard initial tariff ag bag-ong customer classes. Ro ERC, bilang sangka ahensya nga naga control it tariff rates hay may katuyuan nga parehong makatao it benipisyo sa mga ECs ag mga miyembro-konsumidor.

Apang sa presentasyon it AKELCO, gina pahisayod man kun ano ro mangin rate sa oras nga gina implementer eon ro nasambit nga bag-ong wheeling rates.

Ro AKELCO hay napabilang sa group E Utility kaparehas kung CAPELCO, ILECO 1 ag ILECO 2 ag iba pang ECs sa Luzon, Visayas ag Mindanao nga may miyembro-konsumidor nga naga-abot sa 50,000 hasta sa syen mil (100,000) customers.

AKELCO Elects Sodusta BOD President
In an election of officers of the Board of Directors of AKELCO, the following officers are elected. Atty. Emmanuel L. Sodusta–president; Jose Carl C. Quimpo-vice president; Celso D. Tajanlangit-Secretary; Norma A. Salido-Treasurer; Hayden G. Bandiola-Auditor; and Ermito T. Tabigue-press relations officer.

The election was held on Wednesday, July 8 during their regular meeting in AKELCO Board Room, Lezo, Aklan.

Paterno Ibarreta, Samuel R. Remezia, Jr., Roy A. Gomez, Julieta A. Aron, and Augusto C. Tolentino, NEA rep-resentative stay as members of the BOD. /MP

Beat Cotto and Win The 2010 Election Pacquiao’s Priorities

by ALEX P. VIDAL

SAN FRANCISCO, California–Manny Pacquiao’s victory in the May 2010 congressional election in Mindanao in the Philippines is already “crystal clear” according to a member of his coaching staff, after the powerful Chiongbian family has decided not to field a candidate against him, but his battle against Miguel Angel Cotto on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada will not be a walk in the park.

“Cotto is not a pushover,” volunteered Pacquiao’s trainer Ben Delgado in Tagalog. “Although I believe Manny will beat him, we must take note that he is younger by two years and has beaten Shane Mosley.”

Delgado, who lives in San Jose County, said the 30-year-old Pacquiao’s priorities are to put away Cotto this year and focus on his political plans which have unofficially kicked off with a series of “speaking engagements” in different areas in Saranggani province.

Pacquiao’s attention won’t be divided, vowed the 75-year-old Delgado, as he will start revving up for Cotto (34-1, 27 KO’s) in August when all his social and commercial obligations have been ironed out in the Philippines.
LEGISLATOR
Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KO’s) had been dreaming to become a legislator but was waylaid by Rep. Darlene Antonino, a petite opposition stalwart, in the May 2007 election.

The reigning International Boxing Organization (IBO) light welterweight king is a supporter of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and has sworn in as member of Ms. Arroyo’s KAMPI party headed by a presidential timber and member of Ms. Arroyo’s cabinet, Ronaldo Puno.

The Cotto deal was clinched after the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 35 KO’s) and Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4, 37 KO’s) originally scheduled on July 18 in Las Vegas, Nevada, was moved to Nov. 17 after Mayweather suffered a cartilage injury while training.

Pacquiao was supposed to fight the winner of that bout although his main target is 32-year-old Mayweather nicknamed “Pretty Boy”.

Cotto is a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico and is currently crownholder of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight tiara he wrested on June 13 via split decision win over Joshua Clottey in Madison Square Garden, New York.
LONG LIST
His name was beneath the long list of potential Pacquiao customers a month ago until the announcement of Mayweather’s injury that forced Top Rank boss Bob Arum to frantically shop for Pacquiao’s foe before the year ends.

Since turning professional on January 23, 2001, Cotto rolled into 33 straight wins before absorbing his first and only defeat.

The five feet and seven inches tall Puerto Rican tasted a humiliating 11th round TKO loss to Mexico’s Antonio Margarito (37-6, 27 KO’s) on July 26, 2008 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada and yielded his World Boxing Association (WBA) 147-lb belt before a highly partisan crowd.

Margarito, 31, was annihilated in the 9th round at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California in January 24 by Shane Moseley (46-5, 39 KO’s) who lost to Cotto by unanimous decision on Nov. 10, 2007. /MP

Saving Aklan’s Angelwings Clams

by Recto I. Vidal
For several decades now, the supply of “diwae” has drastically decreased due to in-discriminate gathering.

This startling revelation was made by Mr. William B. Castillo, Aklan provincial agriculturist, during a recent Kapehan sa Aklan, a media forum held at the Kusina sa Kalibo.

The large volume of demand by restaurants and hotels of Angelwings Clams locally known as “diwae” and the scarcity of its supply has contributed and caused the prices for this kind of exotic food to reach an astonishing level. A kilo of “diwae” now commands a pricey P400 or more, according to Kalibo Sangguniang Bayan member Soviet Dela Cruz.

Thus, with such large demand and the high price that the “diwae” clams command, said clam is now in grave danger of getting exploited, abused, and endangered.

Ms. Alicia Robelo, aquaculturist II of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources described the Angelwing Clams, Pholas Orientalis, or “diwae” as an indigenous clam that thrives at Brgy. Pook, Kalibo, Aklan.

Also known as “Diwal,” this succulent bivalve clam is a native delicacy, popularly con-sidered as aphrodisiac. Despite being expensive, “diwae” is still being sought in many restaurants and hotels in the world-famous tourists’ des-tination Boracay Island, neighboring provinces and in Metro Manila.

“We have to inculcate among the fisherfolks the value of conservation to sustain their livelihood so that the people may be able to learn from the tragic experience of Roxas City fisherfolks whose diwae resource has since been depleted,” Councilor Soviet dela Cruz told this writer.

Dela Cruz who recently authored an ordinance “enhancing and regulating the collection and gathering of Angelwing clams,” stressed the local government of Kalibo, as steward of our natural resources and vested with the authority to regulate the use and enjoyment of the same, conducted studies, coordinated with other organizations and individuals whose expertise and professional opinion and assessment led to meaningful recom-mendations for the responsible use, enjoy-ment, enhancement and protection of “diwae”.

To make this possible, Dela Cruz’s ordinance calls for an open and closed season in harvesting “diwae”. Closed season refers to the period of the year during which the taking of angelwing clams or diwae is prohibited. On the other hand, an open season is a period in time wherein authorized and accredited fisherfolks are allowed to harvest and gather mature and harvestable angelwing clams. /MP

Nutrition Situation in Aklan


Picture shows Kapehan guests who discussed Nutrition Situation in Aklan. They are (l to r) Cecile De Lemos, Mary Jane Alianza, Rossini T. Mortalla, Crescini S. Roxas, Dr. Vic Santamaria, Nuelia P. Zaldiar, and Carmelo Orbista. May Jean D. Arcenio and Venus Villanueva are not in the picture.



Members of the Municipal Nutrition Health Workers.

By virtue of PD No. 491, July is declared National Nutrition Month as a way to focus interest on nutrition and its impact on public health. Guests during the weekly Kapehan forum on July 11, 2009 were members of the Provincial Nutrition Committee headed by Dr. Victor Santamaria, Chief–Provincial Health Office (PHO). Ms. Cecilia R. De Lemos, Provincial Coordinator BHW-PHO; Ms. May Jean D. Arsenio – Nutrition Coordinator, DepEd; Ms. Rossini T. Mortalla, Nutrition Coordinator – PHO; Ms. Nuelia P. Zaldivar, Health Education – PHO; Ms. Crescini S. Roxas, Nutrition Coordinator– PHO; Ms. Mary Jane F. Alianza, Nutrition Coordinator – DA.; Engr. Carmelo Orbista, DILG; and Ms. Venus G. Villanueva, information officer–PIA.

The theme for this years’ nutrition observance is “Wastong Nutrisyon Kailangan, Lifestyle Disease Iwasan.” Salient objectives are: a) increase awareness of proper nutrition against non-communicable diseases (NCD’s); b) encourage individuals to prefer healthy diet and adopt healthy lifestyles; and c) establish optimum environment for proper nutrition in the home, school and work places. The highlight of activities for the month includes poster making, slogan contest, healthy baby contest, and community programs held at provincial, municipal and barangay levels.

Ms. Arcenio revealed that 2008 nutritional situation of public school children shows that 20 – 26 percent are below normal, 72-74 percent are normal while 6-10 percent are above normal or obese. On the other hand, Operation Timbang (OPT) conducted by PHO in 2006 shows that of the 70,809 pre schoolers, 88.23 percent are normal, 10.63 percent below normal (low), 42 percent below normal (very low) and 0.72 percent above normal.

Ms. Alianza mentioned that DA’s nutrition intervention scheme is to implement “Gulayan sa Paaralan” in partnership with DepEd. Here, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist provides free vegetable seeds and technology transfer to teachers as well as pupils. Products from the school garden form the core of the school’s feeding program, she said.

The crucial factor is provided by the PHO in the supervision of Brgy. Health Workers (BHW’s) and Brgy. Nutrition Scholars (BNS). Health personnel although engaged in the delivery of primary health care are also involved in nutrition education and distribution of fortified food. Virtually, nutrition education starts from conception up to man’s twilight years according to PHO Chief, Dr. Santamaria.

Nutrition education is integrated into DepEd’s teaching curriculum. The agency has a complement of nurses and dentists who regularly conduct health and nutrition seminars and facilitate OPT reports. Economically depressed municipalities like Madalag and Libacao whose school age population are at risk of malnutrition are given one (1) kilogram rice/child/day. Other towns that may be targeted are Malinao, Makato, Buruanga and Balete said Ms. Arcenio. The office has replaced the highly controversial noodle feeding plan with powdered malunggay that can be used as additive for any dish, dessert or beverage.

Lifestyle diseases are a modern day plague that are preventable by knowledge of basic nutrition and renouncing living to excess. The leading killer diseases are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Altogether 58 million deaths worldwide have been attributed to lifestyle disease in 2005 according to WHO.

Meanwhile, Ms. De Lemos advocates breast-feeding for optimum health care and growth of babies and mother’s welfare. There is no infant milk formula in the world that can rival mothers’ milk in terms of quality, digestibility and food value, she declared. Breastfeeding increases a woman’s immune system to breast, cervical cancer, and early pregnancy. Executive Order No. 51 of DOH strongly advises mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months to insure proper nutrition and resistance to diseases.

Issues and concerns are on reliability of OPT data conducted by PHO-DOH and DepEd on pre-schoolers and school-age population. It should be underscored that evaluators are implementers them-selves. Hence, accurate picture of what’s going on can be eluded by prejudice and secrecy.

Given the fact that teachers are saddled with heavy workloads, PHO is confronted with limited personnel, obviously the task of monitoring and evaluating nutrition intervention schemes be logically taken over by an independent private polling agency. The annual budget of P1.0 million for operational expenses of Prov’l. Nutrition Com-mittee must be increased in order to have a scientific random collection of data from 327 barangays of Aklan. Report could be the basis for an in-depth review of the nutrition program and recommend concrete measures to mitigate the problem.

Our BHW’s and BNS have been part and parcel of the health department for four decades, yet this work force is not fully integrated into the System. In some far flung communities where doctors, nurses and midwives are not available, these volunteers work full time as first aiders, trained hilots/midwives and teach basic health education. Uplifting their morale can go beyond receiving a monthly pittance pay of less than a thousand pesos and free hospitalization. Indeed they are also family breadwinners and are most likely to give their level best if given the realistic remuneration they highly deserved.

A rejoinder is for Provincial Nutrition Committee to be innovative in their nutrition intervention approaches like classifying all barangays into high risk and low risk areas. Nutrition awareness can be done with school feeding programs like tasty fortified snacks (nutribun) and calamansi juice managed by PTCA’s. The Committee should monitor school canteens where junk foods sold and are patronized.

Giving out rice defeats the purpose of nutrition intervention since mal-nutrition problem in the country is primarily deficiency of protein, vitamins and minerals. Funding for school feeding program may be secured from Special Education Fund and IRA of barangays. Largely untapped are countrywide Development Fund of Cong. Florencio T. Miraflores and other agencies like USAID, AUSAID, and other sources available.

Nutrition program of the government appears to be ineffective given the big number of agencies and civic organizations that need to be coordinated. Furthermore, there is nominal commitment of resources particularly funding and personnel to achieve the goal. At least, there is increasing awareness about the program and that’s some consolation. /MP

Adviser Conspires With Pharmaceutical Companies?


Sen. Mar Roxas presses President Arroyo to sign the executive order imposing a maximum retail price on the 22 most essential medicines in compliance with the Cheaper Medicines Law pending in her desk since June 16. Roxas alleged a presidential adviser is conspiring with multi-national pharmaceutical companies to sabotage the signing of the executive order because it would halve prices of these medicines immediately. /MP

CONGRATULATIONS!


The Rotary Club of Kalibo and Madyaas Pen sincerely congratulate
Atty. IMMANUEL “Nolly” SODUSTA
for having been elected president of the Board of Directors, AKELCO
He was elected during its election of officers on Wednesday, July 8
at a vote of 9 to 1.

EDITORIAL

Backyard Vegetable Project
To Benefit 900,000 Families

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will expand in 2009 its national backyard-based planting program {that is expected} to help 900,000 rural and urban poor households supplement their food requirements and raise their incomes.

Besides vegetables, the food production program will include root crops and fruits starting this year, said Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap during the launching in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija of the “Bayan-Anihan” project of the DA and the private sector-led Gawad Kalinga (GK) movement.

Yap told Madyaas Pen after the Bayan-Anihan event that the DA’s expanded Gulayan prog-ram will give priority to families in rainfed areas and low-income provinces.

“We planned to implement fully this Gulayan program before the onset of the wet season last May,” Yap said.

The Bayan-Anihan project at two farm sites at the Nuestra Senora de Soledad Village in Barangay Tabon will benefit 62 families who are planting kangkong, egg-plant, okra, ampalaya, sili and tomato in vegetable beds provided for them by Globe Telecom Globe Telecom, one of the country’s leading telecommunications companies, has com-mitted to adopt 35 farms under this project.

Also present during the launching of the Bayan-Anihan in these two Nueva Ecija sites were Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro ; lawyer Joe Tale, chairman of GK; Tony Meloto, the advocate champion of GK; John Concepcion, president of Bayan-Anihan Foundation Inc.; Jeffrey Tarayao, community relations head of Globe Telecom; and Dr. Ruben Sevillejo, president of the Central Luzon State University .

The Bayan-anihan Program aims to establish backyard vegetable farms in almost 100 sites in Luzon last month alone as part of the joint efforts of the DA and GK to ensure food security and generate jobs for hunger-prone families.

Director Rene Rafael Espino of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani-High-Value Commercial Crops (GMA-HVCC) said the opening of the Nueva Ecija site was just one among the many activities simultaneously held in almost 100 Bayan-anihan sites across Luzon over the weekend.

Espino said the ceremony, dubbed the “Bayan-anihan SaBAYANg PagtaTANIM” in Nueva Ecija, kicked off with a Goodbye Gutom Rally led by Meloto, followed by the Call to Plant by Yap .

During the event, vegetable seedlings were turned over by Yap and Meloto to representatives of the beneficiary communities of the Globe Farms in San Isidro.

Espino said the Bayan-anihan project will be implemented in communities situated near GK’s hub of operations in the country’s poorest provinces, with a minimum of 30 families per site.

These initial 115 sites are found in Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley , Central Luzon, Calabarzon, (Cavite , Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), MIMAROPA (Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan ) and Bicol.

Bayan-Anihan aims to cover a total of 500 sites all over the country in 2009, of which 225 will be in GK sites and 275 in non-GK sites, while another 2,000 sites are targeted for 2010 and 2011.

The GK, which is best known for building houses for the poor, has already partnered with other government agencies—among them the DepEd and Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Housing and Urban Development Coor-dinating Council (HUDCC) on its various programs, but this is the first time that it is officially teaming up with the DA in carrying out a food sufficiency program. Yap, who has been an active participant in GK projects since he was administrator of the National Food Authority in 2002, said the support of private sector groups such as Gawad Kalinga is crucial in helping Government achieve President Arroyo’s goal of providing food on the table of every Filipino family. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente

Ret. Major Paquito Saratiosa Resigns
Retired Police Major Paquito S. Saratiosa has filed his irrevocable resignation as action officer of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council/Provincial Public Safety and Emergency Management Office and the Provincial Peace and Order Council effective July 1, 2009.

According to Governor Carlito S. Marquez, he tried to convince Major Saratiosa not to resign but he failed. Marquez has no choice but accepted the resignation.

To continue pro-viding the services of the office, Gov. Marquez designated Retired Philippine Army 2Lt. Pepito M. Ruiz to the position vacated by Mr. Saratiosa. The designation is effective July 1, 2009.

Ruiz is consultant in the capitol on Disaster Preparedness and Management and Related Programs for Peace and Order. He is a native of Banga and married to the former Georgyn V. Reyes of Laguinbanua West, Numancia. They have three children. Pete, as he is fondly called, is a law graduate from Aklan Catholic College, Kalibo.
FAIRY TALE
Mr. Jun Lozada, whistle blower of the cancelled NBN ZTE deal amounting to $328 million dollar was in Kalibo, Aklan on July 2 – 4. He arrived July 2, noon and left Kalibo in the morning July 4.

While in Kalibo, Lozada held public forum, press conference, radio interviews and motorcade. In the Northwestern Visayan Colleges, he spoke with the 3,000 students on the effects of corruption in high government offices.

He called the current Malacañang occupant “Dwende” with unsatiable greed of power, money, and honor. He told the “Dwende” is highly “incredible”.

For instance, Lozada revealed in her previous “State of the Nation Address” (SONA), Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced there was some 100,000 hectares planted to “Tuba tuba” in the Philippines when in reality there was only 1,000 hectares. That SONA was a fairy tale.

Lozada related how Malacañang would up-grade the cost of the NBN broadband. He said, NEDA recommended five (5) billion pesos cost for it. However, the proponents wished to add another 10 billion pesos to make it 15 billion with the 10 billion as their commission.

Being a consultant on the NBN project, he was amenable to 2.5 billion pesos commission. But the proponent did not listen to Lozada which prompted him to advise them to “minimize their greed”.

According to Lozada, with all the students presently enrolled at NVC and at the present college fees, it will take 300 years for the 10 billion pesos to spend for their tuition fees and other school fees.

Lozada concluded, Ms. “Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is unworthy of any trust”. Lozada was accompanied in his trip to Kalibo by Sister Mary John Manansan, president, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines. His visit was a project of Women Entrepreneurs of Aklan led by Mrs. Rose Flores Nepomuceno of Albasan, Numancia, Aklan.
SIGHT PATROL
As even before, there is very urgent need for the police to patrol the roads in the night. Most of the traffic accidents and criminal incidents are happening in the evening. Thieves are feasting in the night.

The police may stop and educate drivers of vehicles runnning the roads without light, drivers who do not dim their lights. They may apprehended drivers driving vehicles without light. This will avoid accidents leading to loss of lives and properties.

The police may also implement curfew on minors still roaming around town in the middle of the night. The police presence in the community will deter and prevent the commission of any crime. /MP

Zone 4 Rotary International Induction


The Rotary Club of Kalibo District 3850 newly installed officers, members and spouses, RY 2009-2010. They are with Sen. FRANCIS “Chiz” Escudero, second from left sitting. He was the guest speaker during the Rotary International Joint Induction and Turn-over Ceremonies on July 4 held at Hercor Pavilion, Lawaan, Roxas City.

Zone IV of Rotary International, District 3850 held its Joint Induction and Turn-over Ceremonies for the Rotary Year 2009-2010 on Saturday evening, July 4 with Senator Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero as guest speaker.

The officers inducted were those of Rotary Club of Kalibo, Rotary Club of Metro Kalibo, Rotary Club of Boracay, and Rotary Club of Roxas. The induction ceremony was held in Hercor Pavilion, Lawaan, Roxas City.

Although the affair was held in Roxas City, three other clubs based in that city did not join the affair.

The officers installed to office were: Rotary Club of Kalibo: Joel Mercurio – president with members of the board who are Bing Santamaria, Raphy Tayco, Vady Marin, Lyn Alcedo, Louie Francisco, Art Carpio, Nolly Sodusta, More Morier, Vic Santamaria, Botoy Villorente, and Pete Ruiz.

Rotary Club of Metro Kalibo: Nestor Bartolome-president with Ely Villanueva, Noel Cabobos, Domingo Quinto, Juan Retamar, Jerome Barrios, Tony Tabang, Valtimor Conanan and Saykeme Martelino-members of BOD.

Rotary Club of Roxas: Pip Acepcion-president with Jerry Lamas, Che Che Lastimoso, Jo Mosquete, Ruben Yap, Mark Ortiz, Bonnie Barrera, Leah Del Rosario, Cheann Distor, Pow Del Rosario, Matty Viterbo, Rexam Laguda, Mel Deslate, and Gary Potato: members of BOD.

Rotary Club of Boracay: Prime Dizon-president, with Toby Mockel, Geri Asis, Del Nano, Elena Brugger, Dang Romero Lee Rosaia, and Ala Todea-members of the BOD.

At first, District Governor of RI District 3850 Edgar Diotay Sy attempted to administer the Oath of Office to the officers but he committed a mistake. He laughed long at his error. He attempted again. He did the same mistake and laughed furiously. PDG Toto Cua Locsin took over and sworn the officers.

In the same affair, Dr. Esther Lagon-Alfaro was inducted new member of the Rotary Club of Kalibo. Some 39 RC Kalibo members with their spouses attended the induction program.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero in his speech dwelt on the RI 2009-2010 motto: “The Future of Rotary is in Your Hands”. He concluded his speech with: “The future of the Philippines is in the hands of the Rotarians and the Filipinos.” Escudero spoke in Filipino. /MP

AKELCO Conducts Info Drive On Brigada Electric Check

by Lovell Gepte Juliano
The Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc., is now conducting information dissemination and edu-cational campaign dubbed: Brigada Electric Check “Safety and Reliability” to some secondary level schools throughout its coverage area for the whole month of July.

The Malinao School for Philippine Craftsmen and Numancia Integrated School are the first schools oriented on the said info drive. AKELCO Training Unit of the HR/IDD department prepared a Video documentary showing the harmful effects of Climate Change. They will also orient teachers and students on the AKELCO History, Current Power Situation, Electrical Safety and Energy Conservation.

The drive is part of the national activities on the forthcoming International Convention on Rural Electrification (I-CORE) in August as AKELCO’s way of celebrating the 40th Foundation Anniversary of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) with the theme “Kuryente Ay Kailangan Para Sa Maunlad Na Sambayanan”, in partnership with the 119 electric cooperatives that continue to light up homes by pursuing the mandate of total electrification.

NEA’s grand com-memoration also coin-cides on the National Electrification Awareness Month declared recently by virtue of Executive Proclamation No. 1743.

Moreover, the chosen schools where AKELCO will conduct Brigada Electric Check campaign include Buruanga National High School, Pandan National Vocational School, Ondoy National H.S., Tangalan National H.S., Linabuan National H.S., Batan National H.S., Altavas National H.S., Madalag National H.S., and Balabag National High School.This activity is in coordination with the Secondary Schools Division, DepEd-Aklan as part of the Brigada Eskwela program of the national government. The team is expected to finish the scheduled information drive until the end of July. /MP

Million Pesos In Cutflowers and Ornamentals Production

by Ernesto T. Solidum
Kapihan habitués on July 4, 2009 were treated to an obscure money maker about ornamentals and cutflower business. Panelists were Ms. Iris C. Joligon, proprietor– Terraflora Plants and Garden Supplies, Ms. Editha M. Sazon, proprietor–Sazon Greens and Blooms and Ms. Yuhum P. Ruiz, professor, ASU.

Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente underscored that floriculture is one of branches of agriculture that is synonymous with fragrance and beauty. In order to treasure them, we must develop necessary skills to nurture them, he said.
On the other hand, Mr. Juan P. Dayang has long known that Aklan’s rich diversity of flora and fauna can be comparable with those from other places in the world.

Ms. Joligon confirmed that Aklan’s soil, climate and water are indeed suitable for the production of ornamentals and cut-flowers for domestic and international markets. As a high value crop however, the business sector has not exploited mass production of plant species in desired quantity and quality needed by a high end market especially Boracay.

Ms. Sazon targets tropical plants like heliconias, also known as false birds of paradise since they are adaptable, hardy and has longer base life. She gets frustrated over our inability to deliver rather big volume of products in a short notice while entrepreneurs from Bulacan, Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo,Capiz and other places arrive delivering them by plane/truckloads.

Addressing the issue on getting more garden enthusiasts to engage in landscaping, floral arrangement and cut foliage, we must undertake mass education at grassroots level. Lecture demonstration on cultural practices, post harvest, handling and marketing must be included said Ms. Joligon. “Definitely, there is no such thing as a green thumb but a tender, loving, and caring desire for growing plants and being ecstatic about it”.

Ms. Ruiz mentioned that flowers are largely intertwined with our human psyche and existence. Flower arrange-ments enliven our spirit and quintessentially present from the time of birth to our deathbed. Ubiquitous presence of ornamentals dates back to men’s creation in the Garden of Eden to the idyllic hanging gardens of Babylon. Presently, every nook and cranny of our homes, office and leisure areas are invaded by flowers of every hue and shape. Of all the arts, nothing beats the magic spell of flowers says the lady professor.

Agribusiness plan of Ms. Sazon calls for setting up four (4) hectares ornamental farm in Venturanza, Banga. She envisions that Aklan Horticulture Society through the support of Gov. Carlito S. Marquez establishes the Botanical Garden in Tangalan to be subscribed by all 17 municipalities for benefit of local residents and travelers. Botanical gardens are found in all key cities of the world and are prominent tourist attractions. Expected to be on display will be our indigenous and rare species namely: schismatoglottis (yellow var), staghorn fern and ladies slipper all abound to be crowd stealers.
Re-greening Suggestions
Serious defects in implementing guidelines and judging criteria of this year’s Aklan Re-greening and Beautification contest were unraveled. Panelists are agreed that a) there was poor choice in the selection of indigenous plants; b) Volume and uniformity not carried out to enhance distinctive style and theme; c) maintenance of cleanliness, hedge trimming, watering and other care were not carried out on long term basis; and d) less involvement and participation of some LGU’s and civic organi-zations in the program despite the granting of cash incentives and prizes.

It is regrettable that the Provincial Tourism Officer, Ms. Carina Quimpo-Ruiz was absent during the discussion on flowers and ornamentals. She begged off through a message sent by her subaltern.

Obviously, our business sector particularly horti-culturists have under-estimated the big demand of tourism industry in Boracay. Ornamental and cutflowers trade is a multi million pesos industry of Baguio, Davao, and Laguna where they employ cutting edge technology in ti ssue culture and hybridization of exotic varieties. For instance Fuentispina Orchid farm in Davao City employs a plant breeder to develop new varieties of vandas and cattleyas.

It is vital that govern-ment intervention is necessary in promoting this sunshine industry on a sustained basis because of direct employment oppor-tunities and demand of domestic and international market. Most likely, offshoot of vibrant flower industry could be apiary business or beekeeping, a time honored tradition that is highly desirable.
Diversification can be accepted where long cultivation of rice and coconut have kept many farmers in abject poverty and want. /MP

‘Alexis Gives Navarette Hardest Beating In Ring’

by ALEX P. VIDAL
SAN FRANCISCO, California – It was three-time world champion Alexis Arguello who gave Filipino former world superfeatherweight champion Rolando Navarette the hardest beating in his career when the two squared off for the WBC 130-lb diadem on April 27, 1980 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“The beating was so severe that Lando was traumatized and threatened to quit boxing,” narrated Adriano Golinggan, Nava-rette’s patron in General Santos City, Philippines.

Arguello, who was found dead July 1 at his home in Managua, Nicaragua where he was incumbent mayor, tore to shreds the then 23-year-old Navarette and violently stopped him in the 5th round of a 15-round title clash at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

It was the “Bad Boy from Dadiangas’” first crack at the world crown and third knockout defeat.

Navarette, now 52, earned the berth to challenge Arguello on the merit of his shock 7th round TKO win over world-ranked Jerome Artis at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 29, 1980.

Navarette (54-15-3, 31 KO’s) went to war with the five feet and 10 inches tall Nicaraguan even if he was not the number one contender in Arguello’s division, it was learned.
NINE DEFENSES
After toppling Navarette, Arguello (82-8, 65 KO’s), nicknamed “El Flaco Explosivo”, posted nine successful defenses of his other title, WBC lightweight belt, before being wrecked in the 14th round by Aaron Pryor in the WBA light welterweight tussle in Miami, Florida.

The same Pryor, nicknamed “The Hawk”, pulverized him in the 10th round when they crossed path anew on Sept. 9, 1983 for the same title at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

He retired on January 21, 1995 after losing a 10-round decision to Scott Walker in a non-title tiff in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Sandinista Party Radio Ya reported July 1 that coroners were conducting an autopsy on the 57-year-old mayor to determine the cause of death which appeared to be a suicide. The La Prensa newspaper reported he was found with a gunshot wound to the chest, reported the Associated Press.

The Hall of Fame boxer was the top fighter of the 20th century in his weight class, according to a panel of experts assembled by The Associated Press in 1999.
CANCEL
Arguello’s death reportedly prompted President Daniel Ortega to cancel a trip to Panama for the inaugu-ration of President-elect Ricardo Martinelli.
Arguello reportedly fought against the Sandinista government in the 1980s after it seized his property and bank account, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

But he joined the party to win the mayorship of the capital in 2008, though opponents alleged the vote was fraudulent.

“We are upset,” said Rosario Murillo, presidential spokeswoman, who dec-lined to give details about the death, as quoted by AP. “This is a heartbreaking announcement. He was the champion of the poor, an example of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Born in 1952, the Hall of Fame boxer fought 14 world champions. In 1981, he became the sixth man in boxing history to win a title in three weight divisions-featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Arguello returned Sunday from Puerto Rico where he honored the late baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. /MP

Decentralize DepEd Fixed Term for DepEd Chief

Sen. Chiz Escudero this week pushes for a fixed term for the secretary of education to insulate the department from politics and maintain continuity in its programs.

“We must ensure that the education of our youth is not tied to the fortunes of the appointing power or the politics of the day,” he said.

“We can insulate the Department of Education given the president’s power to reorganize government by simply providing that its secretary be not co-terminus with the appointing power. We can ensure a fixed term in law for him,” Escudero said.

The 39-year old senator also favors the decen-tralization of the DepEd so appropriate policies are crafted and problems immediately acted on at the regional level.

He said the next president should also form a commission to develop a master plan that will set benchmarks and timetables to bring the country’s level of education at par with the best in the region.
“The Commission can map out a painless transition from the current 10-year basic education cycle to 12 years,” Escudero suggested.

In his talk at an education forum, he also reiterated his proposal for government to increase the education budget from 12 percent to the Southeast Asian standard of 20 percent.

He said the government is only spending US$138.00 per student compared to Thailand’s US$853.00 and Singapore’s US$1800.00.

“The constitution’s mandate for government to give education the highest budgetary priority has not been followed since its ratification in 1987", he pointed out.

“The highest budgetary priority is being given to debt service. They were able to circumvent the constitution by considering debt service as an off-budget item,” he said. Debt service is currently at about P600 billion while the budget for education is about P160 billion. (The Philippines foreign debt is now 4.1 trillion dollars.)
Hits CHED Over ‘Diploma Mills’
Senator Chiz Escudero last month said the proliferation of “diploma mills” shows the failure of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to monitor and regulate the quality of education in our colleges and universities.

“Our student and ultimately their parents, should be protected from schools offering substandard educational programs. CHED has the power to regulate these programs and has the authority to shut them down. Sadly, it has not done so,” he said.

“Unaware of the appalling performance in licensure examinations, parents spend hard-earned money in schools that profit from their dreams of a better life for their children,” Escudero said.

Data from the Professional Regulatory Commission show that the average national passing rate for courses with licensure examinations has never reached the 50 percent mark from 1994 to 2004.

According to Escudero, CHED wields power ranging from the authority to issue sanctions from “initial warning for program termination” to the issuance of a “recommendation for program termination” on schools found to have substandard performance.

“However, CHED has not done so. The least it could do is to make public the performance of schools in various licensure examinations,” he said.

“If the government can spend for expensive TV infomercials, I see no reason they cannot allot some funds to a more meaningful information campaign that would help our parents make informed choices on which school to choose for their children,” Escudero said.

The senator pointed to the poor performance of many nursing schools in the country.

The Commission on Audit (COA) had already criticized CHED for failure to shut down non-performing nursing schools whose graduates fail miserably in PRC board examinations, he pointed out.

According to COA auditors, there were 19 schools that did not even produce a board passer in the recent past.

“The COA went on to say that from 2001 to 2005, only 111 out of 263 nursing schools nationwide managed to have 50 percent of their graduates pass the licensure examination. No school offering the nursing program with poor PRC performance has ever been shut down,” Escudero added.

He noted that nursing and Hotel and Restaurant Management continue to be the top two college degree courses this year, with 422,978 and 123,523 enrolled students, respectively, out of a total of over 2.6 million college students in school year 2008-2009. /MP