Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High Tax Collection Efficiency For Progressive Community




by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM





Taxes are the lifeblood of government administration. Hence, it must be promoted and developed efficiently to meet optimum public expectations. It is in this context that tax collection executives of a province did when they rallied for support and cooperation to citizens increasingly alienated by corruption in government. The guests at the Kapihan on August 27, 2011 are Ms. Jocelyn R. Reyes, Chief Land Tax Dept and Mr. Rey R. Villaruel, OIC Asst. Provincial Treasurer of Aklan who discussed the topic "Real Property Tax Administration".


According to Villaruel, Aklan’s budget in 2010 totaled P800 million. About 40 percent of which came from local source and the balance from Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). The major source of local income is the local property tax of P150 million and traders’ taxes from commercial and industrial establishments. Taxation code for real properties exact 2 percent of total assessed value from landowners. Out of this collection, 50 percent constitute the general fund and another 50 percent is Special Education Fund (SEF). Tax sharing arrangement are 35 percent for the province, 40 percent for the municipality and 25 percent for the barangay.


"Actually, we have surpassed our collection target by 14.5 percent, an amazing feat acknowledged by Treasury officials in Western Visayas. Nevertheless, our idealistic focus is P280 million worth of real properties collectible from taxpayers each year. Presently we have delinquent taxpayer cases for the last 10 years which we hope to solve through legal and technical innovations. This is the main reason why Aklan is highly dependent on the IRA to the extent of 75 percent", explained Villaruel.


"A compelling reason why we are adopting a coercive approach to conduct the second round of sale at public auction on November 18, 2011 is that our performance is still wanting. From our initial experience last year from 63 property units involved in the transaction, 14 were actually sold and 14 retained by the province. The interesting part is that majority of dispossessed landowners moved with resoluteness to buy back their properties either on cash or installment basis which is allowable provided it is done within a year. We mean business and this we want to project if results are not acceptable. Under the guidelines, Tax Collectors are deemed administratively liable if taxpayers are remiss in their payments after a year", underscored Villaruel.


Ms. Reyes explained that the process of public auction involved three things namely: a) sending notice of delinquency to taxpayer, b) warrant of levy, and c) notice of sale. In each of those segments, feedback is generated such as cases of absentee landowners and failed written advice. However, we respond with understanding and tolerance if indeed cause of delinquency is valid.


Unlike in the past decade, policy is on condonation but it tends to spoil the taxpayers and the best interest of the government. Presently, we require all 17 municipal treasurers to submit at least 15 worse cases to be included in this year’s public auction at the provincial capitol.


For those interested to participate in the scheduled event, we have our website, publication in the regional and provincial tabloid and TV/radio slots. Curiously, we have interested bidders all over the country determined to own real property in Aklan, said the lady executive.


Collection agents traditionally face a stiff wall of resistance from erring taxpayers. Hide and seek tactic is most common and feigning ignorance is convenient to some. Others simply ignore written notice of delinquency until it is too late. Indeed, it is incredible that our simple obligation to pay our taxes to the government should involved sanctions and heartaches.


One should be reminded that when taxes are paid religiously, the government can operate efficiently. Of course there are persistent reports of politicians squandering the people’s money but under present civil service laws and penal code defining transparency and accountability they can be charged for economic sabotage depending upon the gravity of the offense.


From the 2 percent of annual land tax collected, 1/2 is allotted for SEF. To illustrate, of the P150 million land tax collections, P75 million go to SEF. The local school board composed of the Municipal Treasurer, Municipal Mayor and DepEd District Supervisor manages the fund.


It is welcomed development that idle agricultural lands are taxed 5 percent instead of the usual 2 percent. This is a sensible approach to coaxed landowners to expend their energies on food production while a great number of our population starves. In essence, we are stewards of everything we have and idle land is considered waste of valuable resources. Besides, it creates problems on public health and safety, and harbors pests and diseases deleterious to crops and livestock.


The provincial treasury is doing a Herculean job to inform, educate and collect taxes in order to meet expanding need for vital socio-economic infra. Impending plan is to adopt the I-tax piloted in Negros Oriental and now actively participated in by 15 provinces. Financed by a grant of the German government is proven successful using mobile electronic gadget like tablet with Global Positioning System. Under the program, all taxpayers will be provided individual gadgets at subsidized prices, status of accounts easily accessible and paid by wire to Municipal Treasurer’s Office. It is believed that all 79 provinces in the country will avail of this new technology to enhance tax collection efficiency. Moreover, tax collectors and administrators undergo periodic in-service trainings to improve professional competence.


Success in these endeavors could propel the province and the country to unprecedented heights. The Staff of Ms. Zuzzette Pioquid, Provincial Treasurer deserves heartfelt congratulations for winning coveted prize on tax collection in Western Visayas. /MP

Ombudsman Indicts LTFRB Exec


by Florence F. Hibionada, PNS


The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas has recommended the filing of graft charges against a top official and an employee of the Land Transporation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Regional Office (RO) 6.


The indictment came in the wake of Ombudsman action on pending cases up for Resolution and Decision.


Docketed as OMB-V-C—09-0236-H, the anti-graft body established probable cause against then LTFRB RO 6 Acting Transportation Development Officer Romel Duron and Casual Employee Henry Mamon.


As such, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Maria Corazon Vergara Naraja resolved to have "appropriate information" filed in the proper Court.


Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca Santiago reviewed the 9-paged Resolution with Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol recommending the approval.
By the time final approval was reached, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni sealed the Resolution as per earlier authority the Ombudsman higher-ups granted.


The case against Duron and Mamon stemmed from the March 2009 transaction of businessman Antonio Caram Jr. with the LTFRB.


Caram, the Ombudsman validated, applied for a franchise to operate a public utility taxi. His application was aided by Mamon who facilitated a personal meeting with Duron. 


In the course of the transaction, Caram Jr. was apparently asked and paid a P35,000 franchise fee that in reality, was only P810.00.


The Ombudsman in April 2010 issued an Order to said LTFRFB respondents to submit counter-affidavits and countervailing evidence. 


In sum, the duo denied allegations. They said, the charges were "product of conspiracy among taxi operators" to pin down respondent Duron. This, he told anti-graft probers, was due to the taxi operator’s refusal to comply with an office Circular on the installation of taxi meter issuing receipt.


Further down the investigation in August 2010, Duron presented to the Ombudsman an Affidavit of Desistance from Caram Jr. saying there was a third person involved.  In fact, the Ombudsman was told, it was "a certain Francis who intervened and facilitated (Caram’s) application."


According to Caram, the Php 35,000 which he prepared were all spent by Francis and that this person is not a cohort of DURON and MAMON. Excerpts of the case discussion went adding that Caram as the original complainant was then manifesting "his desire to drop the cases he filed against DURON and MAMON" before the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).


For the Office of the Ombudsman though, Caram’s change of mind and Affidavit of Desistance "cannot be given credence….."


"An Affidavit of Desistance or recantation is, as a rule, viewed with suspicion and reservation because it can easily be secured from an ignorant witness usually through intimidation or for monetary consideration," the Ombudsman Resolution went.  "What is more suspect is the fact that it was respondent DURON and not the complainant who filed the said Affidavit before this Office. Thus, complainant himself did not manifest before this Office the intent to retract his Complaint-Affidavit."


As for the two respondents, the Ombudsman Resolution was clear. "..there is sufficent evidence showing the respondents DURON and MAMON in conspiracy with each other, directly or indirectly requested and received from the complainant the amount of Php 35,000 in consideration for the help to be extended by the respondents particulary by DURON in securing the approval of Caram’s application for a franchise to operate a taxi unit. Such amount is manifestly excessive compared to the franchise fee of only Php 810.00," the Resolution went. "Wherefore, finding probable cause against respondents Romel D. Duron and Henry A. Mamon for violation of Section 3 © of RA 3019 as amended, let the appropriate information be filed in the proper Court."
Duron has since been relieved of his post in LTFRB RO 6 with current assignment reportedly at the national office. No confirmation was available though on Mamon. 
Ombudsman Suspends 2 Negros Execs.


Two collection officers in Negros Occidental were slapped with administrative penalties and ordered suspended from respective posts without pay.


This, as the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas resolved the earlier charges as filed over the discovery of cash shortages in their respective localities.


Docketed as OMB-V-A-09-0037-B, Norman Uytiepo, Revenue Collection Officer II of Escalante City Treasurer’s Office was found guilty of less serious dishonesty. As such, Uytiepo whose salary grade is 7, was meted a "medium penalty" of eight months suspension from the service without pay.


The amount involved as per cash examination by the Commission On  Audit (COA) and corresponding validation by Ombudsman probers was P110,240.54. Uytiepo has since restituted and refunded the said amount alongside a 30-day suspension also ordered by Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap Jr.


As far as the Ombudsman is concerned, restitution has neither cured the crime nor was the 30-day suspension commensurate to the violation committed.


Uytiepo in his defense told Ombudsman investigators that his action "was due to his financial problems as he is the sole breadwinner of his family….had a hard time providing for the needs of his family thus making him susceptible to temptation."


And with the administrative sanction of 30-day suspension also handed down by the mayor, the matter should be over and done with. The Ombudsman dis-agreed and proceeded with its own Decision.


"The sole issue to be resolved is whether substantial evidence exists against respondent to warrant a finding of guilt for an administrative offence," excerpts of the 8-paged Ombudsman Decision went. "Verily, the evidence at hand supports a finding of guilt for Less Serious Dishonesty."


Shigried Sanoy, Local Revenue Collection Officer II with salary grade 15 of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Province of Negros Occidental has a similar case.


With cash shortage of P135,885.76, Sanoy was found guilty for simple misconduct and suspended for three months and one day without pay. 


This, alongside a "stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely."


The Ombudsman summons Sanoy and directed her to submit counter-affidavit and countervailing evidences. However, none was heard with the mail returned to the Ombudsman bearing a note that respondent was "AWOL-MOVED OUT."


"Unmistakably, the facts and evidence on record established that respondent committed Malversation…malversation is inherently a form of misconduct by a public official," the Ombudsman Decision went.  


Docketed as OMB-V-A-09-0363-K, Graft Investigation and Pro-secution Officer I Amy Rose Soler-Rellin penned the Decision which Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca Santiago reviewed. Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol recommended for approval with then Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro approving the Decision. /MP

‘Tuko’ Wards-off Dengue Virus-Carrying Mosquitoes


by George M. De La Cruz/ PNS


Manhunt operations on those involved in the massive trading of geckos, locally known as ‘tuko’, has been a positive move, or else dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes may multiply which poses a threat on the population of this type of reptile that feeds on insects such as mosquitoes.
 

Recent reports stating the rise in hunting and selling of these reptiles because of their high cost in the international wildlife market coincide with the rise in the number of dengue patients now being monitored by the Department of Health.
 

Sen. Manny Villar has filed Senate Resolution No. 538 urging the (Senate) Trade and Commerce committee to conduct an inquiry on the reported massive trading of geckos for the purpose of crafting measures that will protect the specie from threats, ensure their survival and maintain the unique balance of the ecosystem.
 

As chairman, Villar expressed apprehension over the hunting of geckos, which he said will allow dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes to multiply, hurting the government campaign to control the fatal disease.
 

To date, dengue cases from the period January to June 2011nationwide is 27,000, a Disease Surveillance Report of the DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) showed.
 

Reports have it that much of the interest in geckos was generated by a claim that it can cure cancer, asthma, tuberculosis, impotence and even Acquired Immuno deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). But in its statement, DOH said the use of geckos as cure for AIDS or asthma was unproven and had no scientific basis.
 

According to reports, 500 grams of geckos, which is commonly found in households and their surrounding areas, sells from P50,000 to P500,000. Trading of geckos is primarily done online through networking sites and other internet-based marketing networks where a sale is made to the highest bidder.
 

Villar noted that although geckos are not classified as either critically endangered or vulnerable, it is now under threat from over collection which can ultimately lead to vulnerability or extinction.
 

The government must act in order to save the specie from threats because existing wildlife plays a role in the balance of nature, he added.
 

Local environmental analysts theorized that due to a high poverty crisis in the country, people in the business abroad would take advantage of any forms of trade such as the case of geckos. Many Filipinos have been paid already in the massive collection of the geckos. /MP

Agony In Quiapo


I Nearly Died Defending My Bread And Butter


by ALEX P. Vidal


MEDIA people working hard and trying to make both ends meet in honest way are always exposed to danger. My near death experience as a struggling newsman looking for advertisers to sustain a fledgling news-paper was a case in point. As publisher of three-month old Iloilo Today, I went to Manila to collect from national advertisers 11 years ago. At around 6:15 o’clock in the morning on July 20, 2000, my encounter with three robbers in Quiapo, Manila nearly landed me in hospital if not in cemetery.


While walking in the Quiapo sidewalk from Sampaloc on my way to take a passenger jeep going to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in Roxas Boulevard, an unidentified male approached on my left side and asked, "Anong oras na?" (What time is it now?) I stopped and checked my watch; and before I could finish saying "6:15 am," a blunt object landed hard on my head on the upper right ear. 


Shocked and visibly shaken, I turned my head to check who did it and saw a male holding a dos-por-dos (wooden bat) and was preparing to swing another blow. My instinct and quick decision to defend myself quelled the second attack. As a left handed (the attacker was on my right side), I had a perfect latitude when I uncorked a left hook that hit the ruffian smack on the chin and sent him down the pavement pants first. 


CRAWL


As I watched him crawl back on his feet attempting to grab the dos-por-dos he had dropped, another set of fist blows this time coming from the one who asked me the time, peppered my left ear, neck and head plus a kick in the body. This time, I was unable to defend myself as my right hand was clutching a blue plastic envelop containing important documents and statements of account. I saw stars and my sight ebbed. 


The man on the floor was now up and holding the bat like a baseball player. Blood dripping from wound on my upper right ear, I dropped the plastic envelop. On wobbly legs, I tried to intimidate the thugs by raising both my clinched fists to signify willingness to mix it up. Then I heard the bogus baseball player shouting at his cohort on my left side now holding a knife, "Saksakin mo na" (Stab him now). I immediately backtracked to avoid the knife-wielding hooligan who shouted back, "Nakuha mo na?" (Were you able to take it?). The bat boy responded "Andito na" (Yes, I got it). They then ran away. I checked my belongings; my cellular phone missing in my waist, the severed case still hanging on my belt.


SAVE


I ran towards the direction of the fleeing hoodlums, not to take back my cellular phone, but to save my plastic envelop, my only treasure, which had been flown away after one of them kicked it as they fled. Thinking I was trying to put up an empty bravado, a third man appeared with his right hand inside the pocket of his jeans (was he carrying a gun or only bluffing?). I stopped and desperately watched my plastic envelop on the floor, near the feet of the third assailant. It was like a film shooting.


Never mind my cellular phone. Never mind the wound on my head. Never mind the blood. Please, Lord, protect my plastic envelop; that’s the only reason why I am here in Manila. I haven’t paid our bills in the printing press yet; I will lose face if I return in Iloilo empty handed without any collection. I was willing to receive another blow in exchange for that precious plastic envelop, our bread and butter.

 
God probably heard my prayers. When the third bad guy left, I dived into my plastic envelop and held it tightly like a mother cuddling her baby. Nothing can separate us now.


BRUTALITY


While this brutality was taking place, sidewalk vendors and passersby pretended they saw and heard nothing. There were no cops. No tanods. It was worst than a jungle; survival of the fittest. It was near the intersection of Recto-Quezon Avenue. Before proceeding to a police sub-station, I walked and sat on my plastic envelop in one corner to attend to my wound using a handkerchief. Wet and exhausted, I felt pain all over and hunger. I ordered rice lugaw in the sidewalk. 


At the police sub-station, the investigator was indignant and sympathetic. "Put..ng ina ang dami na nilang nabiktima dyan a (SOB, they have already victimized so many people in that area)," he thundered. Two patrol cops checked my wound and gave first aid. They then invited me to join them in scouring the area for possible hot pursuit.


I refused for lack of time. I reported the matter over the phone to my late friend, former congressman Art Borjal, who was columnist of the Philippine Star. He invited me to his office in Quezon City to confirm the veracity of my story. When he saw my wound and the severed cellular phone case hanging on my belt, he angrily quipped, "Mabuti na lang hindi ka tinuloyan ng mga hayop na yun" (It’s good those animals didn’t kill you).

When you meet journalists on the road, don’t hurt them. They may be looking for food on the table to feed their families while scrambling to get news to beat the deadline. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda


Ni Tita Linda Belayro


Sa Eamang Namatay, Sa Eamang Nabuhi


Malipayon guid si Haring Alfonso tongod suno sa mga manog-bueong sa palasyo, naga daea eon ro anang asawang Reyna. Pag unga it Reyna, isaeang ka gwapahon nga prinsesa ro natawo. Puno it kalipay ro mag asawa. Guin taeana ro engrandeng bunyag.


Kangay ro mga amigong hari ag reyna sa ibang kaharian. Malipayon ro bilog nga palasyo. Samtang naga hilinadya ro tanan, umabot ro bruha nga si Bruhilda. Dati ra imaw nga nobya it hari ogaling owa imaw naila-i ko ina ni Haring Alfonso busa, guin pakasae imaw sa prinsesa sa ibang kaharian. Sa kaakig ni Bruhilda ko mga oras ngaron, guin sumpa nana nga mamatay ro prinsesa paagi sa pag angkit it eamang, ogaling mabuhi mat-a ro prinsesa kon maangkit man imaw it isaeang guin sumpa man nga eamang. Pagkatapos ko anang sumpa, naduea si Bruhilda, umuli sa anang kaharian.


Naduhungan ro tanan. Busa, halin kato, guin mando it hari nga patyon ro tanang makitang eamang sa kaharian. Nagpaindis–indis pa imaw sa makapatay it pinakaabo nga eamang. Ro prinsesa hay owa eon guin pagow-a sa palasyo ag guina libutan imaw pirmi it mga dama sa tanan nga oras.


Isaeang adlaw, samtang naga paligos sa anang dogalingong banyo ro prinsesa, may nagtunton nga eamang halin sa kisame. Owa nakapan-o ro prinsesa nga nahueog ro eamang ag inangkit ro prinsesa. Nagkagulo ro bilog nga palasyo. Guin tawag ro mga manog bueong ag guin suguid nga naga katoeog eamang ro prinsesa. Guin sueod imaw sa saeaming nga kahon. Idto nagtiner ro prinsesa hasta matuman ro masunod nga sumpa.


Tumaliwan ro mga dinag-on, guin tubuan it mga tanum ro palibot it kahon. Nag abo eon man ro mga eamang. Guin butangan it maisot nga gabot ro kahon agod makaginhawa ro prinsesa.


Samtang, sa pihak nga kaharian, may isaeang ka prinsipe nga guin sura ro isaeang ka bruha. Sa kaakig ko bruha, guin sumpa imaw nga mangin eamang. Magabalik eang ro anang dagway kon may babaye nga putli nga makaharo kana. Halin kato, naduea ro prinsipe, nagpinanaw imaw sa dagway nga eamang hasta nakaabot sa kaharian ni Haring Alfonso. Idto nana hakita ro prinsesa nga naga katoeog.


Sa anang kaila, nag usoy imaw it gabot hasta nakasueod sa kahon ag guin haruan nana ro prinsesa. Nagbugtaw dayon ro prinsesa. Pagkakita nana sa eamang, nag pasaeamat imaw ag guin haruan man nana sa kalipay. Nagbalik sa dagway ro prinsipe ag dungan sanda nga nag adto sa hari ag reyna agod isugid tanan ro natabo. /MP

The Ladder *


* Inaugural Speech of Ms. Melrose S. Lunn, delivered during her induction as President, of the Aklan Press Club, Inc. held at Hernani’s Mix ‘n Match, Kalibo, Aklan on Friday evening, July 29.


Every day, we are faced with decisions big and small as an internal war is waged between ego and identity, between pleasure and restraint, between instant gratification and self discipline. Nevertheless, the key to walking the tightrope is never losing the enthusiasm of what you are doing.


I would like to share this with everyone. I know of a carpenter. One day, he went through the things he had and saw pieces of wood lying around. He thought he could make something productive. He said, "I’ll make a ladder out of all of you!" After that, he took a saw, a hammer, some nails and began working on the project.


He cut two long pieces into the same size and length that will help the ladder stand. He then cut several short pieces into the same length that will serve as the steps to the top. Some pieces were too short so he put together those pieces of wood to match the other steps equally. When everything was ready, he nailed all the pieces together. They made a strong ladder. He leaned it against a wall.


The carpenter said that they were put there to help people get over that wall. One by one, many were granted over the wall and to a grassy road leading to somewhere. Time passed but some steps got broken, fell off the ladder and got lost. The carpenter then went looking for it. When he found the pieces, he nailed them back again to the ladder and it again serve its purpose.


May I remind you of the Aklan Press Club’s vision of becoming an organization of dignified journalists, providing reliable information to instruct, educate, and entertain to effect development and progress in the community. I repeat dignified journalists. We are supposed to stand with integrity and be driven by the goal of actually helping the society progress. We are given these skills and opportunity to affect people so we can uphold what is true, fair and just.


The ladder that the carpenter made was the Aklan Press Club, Inc. My friends, we are all pieces of wood. The carpenter just picked us up when he wanted to use us for a greater purpose. We, the ladder of the society help it up to develop and lead it to a road that leads to a community that barely has greed and does not believe that money makes the world go round. We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give. What we will give is service and support to all the good people who work to improve the life of not only their selves. Money does not make the world go round, nor does power but gravity and a lesson from science.


Sometimes, people get blinded by what others think of them and stop doing the right things. All of us get tempted by a shinny block of gold. We may not realize this but we all have the potential of being great. We just have to make good of what we have within us and decide to want to help the nation rise.


The world is good, a lot of us thinks bad due to what we see in mass media. It barely portrays all the good things that happen and all the good things possible. "Evil prevails when a few good men and women do nothing". The good men and women are unlimited, there are lots of them. We will do many things. Being the catalyst of change for the better is not easy but it will only be harder if one continues to think of it as difficult. We are not made to bring anyone down, we are alive so we can strive to bring out all the good in the world. We are the ladder.
God bless us all and good evening. /MP

Chiz Pushes For BuCor’s Modernization


With its day-to-day operations still based on the Prison Law of 1917, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is in dire need of an overhaul to cope with the modern demands of penology.
 

Sen. Chiz Escudero thus filed Senate Bill No. 2933 which seeks for the modernization and professionalization of the country’s national correction facility; to make it compliant with the United Nations (UN) standards.

According to Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, the present state of BuCor is in subhuman conditions; rather than being refor-matory, the Philippine jails have become more punitive. This runs contrary to penology standards set by the UN.

"BuCor has been running in obsolescence. Its laws, facilities and equipment, and organizational structure are all outdated and outmoded. It needs to be restructured to be as efficient and as effective to implement its mandate on day-to-day operations," Escudero pointed out.
 

BuCor has not seen a major legislative updating since 1905, except for a change in its name. It was formerly called "Bureau of Prisons" pursuant to the Revised Administrative Code of 1987.
 

In 2009, the inmate population was at 35,400 and manned by 2, 632 employees, or a prison-guard to inmate ratio of 1:81. The international standard of guard-inmate ratio is 1:6.
 

The agency has the same number of employees it had since 1989. The ratio is continuously increasing at an average rate of five percent annually.

"The BuCor was created specifically to be in charge of safekeeping and instituting reformation programs to national inmates sentenced to more than three years. Reform isn’t anywhere with its dilapidated facilities, congested prisons and archaic operational system and structure," Escudero explained.
 

In his bill, Escudero is pushing for the safekeeping of inmates that shall include decent provisions of quarters, food, water and clothing in compliance with established UN standards.
 

Likewise, BuCor’s custodial force consisting of correction officers will be undertaken with a ranking system and salary grades similar to its counterpart in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
 

BuCor lags miserably behind BJMP in terms of personnel remuneration. The entry level for a jail officer at BJMP is Salary Grade (SG) 10, while its counterpart at BuCor receives a salary equivalent to the pay of SG 5. Unlike BJMP, BuCor custodial personnel are not considered uniformed and therefore are not entitled to salary increases, bonuses and other standard benefits.

"Promotion system in BuCor is subjective. There are prison guards who retired after 40 years or more in service without having a taste of promotion," Escudero lamented.
 

He added that BuCor can only achieve modernization and professionalization if its facilities are upgraded, the number of its personnel increased, the level of qualifications of their personnel upgraded and its base pay, retirement and other benefits are standardized. /MP

Sunday, August 28, 2011

EDITORIAL


SC Strong Stance On Drug Enforcers’ Protection
VS Harassments Suits Urged




by George M. Dela Cruz




The Supreme Court is urged to issue a circular or rules of procedure to protect drug enforcers from harassments suits, said Atty. Clarence Paul V. Oaminal, former Vice Chairman and Undersecretary Dangerous Drugs Board.


"It is high time that the Supreme Court takes proactive stance in the drug problem by leveling the playing field by providing a protective mantle against sincere and honest anti-drug enforcers from harassment suits" he said.
 

Oaminal cited that in countries like the United States and Canada, a principle known as SLAPP or the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation is adopted to protect advocates of a law from harassment suits.


"If the Supreme Court has adopted the SLAPP doctrine in Environmental Law, there is no legal impediment if this could be applied in enforcing the Anti Drugs Law" he stressed.
 

It can be recalled that in the Philippines, the Supreme Court has issued Administrative Matter No. 09-6-8-SC dated April 13, 2010 or the Rules of Procedure in Environmental Laws, such contains the SLAPP doctrine.


"SLAPP is any action whether civil, criminal or administrative, brought against any person, institution or any government agency or local government unit or its officers and employees, with the intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse from such person, institution or government agency has taken or may take in the enforcement of a law," explained Oaminal.
 

The said administrative matter protects environmental advocates from these lawsuits, he said, adding that the Supreme Court could issue a similar circular that will protect law enforcers enforcing the anti drugs law.


"The proposed rules of procedure will consider lawsuits as SLAPP as long as the law enforcer could prove that it is a counter-charge or a harassment suit" Oaminal said.
 

The common cases filed against anti drug enforcers are Planting of Evidence under Section 29 of Republic Act 9165, Arbitrary Detention and Searching Domicile without witnesses under the Revised Penal Code. The practice of filing these cases has resulted in the disheartening of law enforcers, lamented Oaminal.
Dongail Case
 

Oaminal cited the recent conviction of Inspector Clarence Dongail of Bacolod City and his fellow officers as an example of how lacking the country’s institutional support to the law enforcers.
 

"It is ironical that government officials and the public demand so much to our law enforcers in curbing drugs and crimes yet when our law enforcers faces trial they always stand alone. The existing legal offices in the Philippine National Police are created not to assist our police officers but are meant to persecute and prosecute them in administrative and quasi-judicial bodies. Thus, the need to create a Police Defenders Office," he said.
 

He added that another way is providing a budget in the PNP specifically allocating an amount for police officers facing cases in the performance of their functions and duties.
 

Defending the legal rights of our law enforcers should start at the beginning, meaning in the filing of the case either before the Ombudsman or with the prosecutors’ office, Oaminal stressed.


"I know that there are vultures out there ready to prey on the blood and flesh of our gallant officers whenever they are down," he said.
 

Oaminal has requested with the office of Senator Sotto to arrange a meeting with Police Director General Bacalzo, who is also a lawyer and the PNP Legal Office to study the case of Inspector Dongail and other hundred officers similarly situated on how the PNP could be helped. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer


Ambrosio R. Villorente


Aklan Welcomes A Sports Hero


The Aklanons especially the Malinaonons unrolled the red carpet as they welcomed one of the members of the famed "Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Team" when he arrived Aklan on Tuesday morning, August 23.


Mayor Wilbert Ariel I. Igoy of Malinao led the welcome party.


Jose "Oting" Ijalo was all smiles when he emerged from the plane that landed at the Kalibo International Airport (KIA) from Manila. From the KIA, Oting went to Malinao, his home town in a long motorcade.


It was a long convoy of vehicles which passed by Poblacion, Kalibo, Numancia, Lezo and finally Malinao.


A brief and simple but meaningful arrival honors was held on the Malinao Town Hall. A press conference followed where Oting shared to the Media and the people of Aklan his struggle, the lessons he learned, some problems and happiness experienced as a member of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Team which won five (5) gold and two (2) silver medals in the recently held International Dragon Boat Competition in Tampa, Florida, USA.


Oting Ijalo is a native of Manhanip, Malinao, Aklan. He is an enlisted man in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


Their success in Tampa, Florida however has invited envies and malicious remarks and defamatory statements from both the Philippines Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission both of which has been assisting and sending athletes to the Olympic games for the last 80 years but never won any gold medal.


And here is the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Team which the two sports organizations never assisted in any manner is being defamed inspite of their success.
If the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission are barren of good comments for the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Team, it will be for the best interest of the Philippines to keep their mouths zippered lead by Mr. Peping Cojuangco.


This column wishes to extend our heartfelt thanks to Malinao Mayor Wilbert Ariel I. Igoy for the invitation to join the motorcade and attend the press conference.


Resolution No. 2011 – 184


In Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 2011 – 184 Hon. Selwyn C. Ibaretta sponsored, the SP members, described the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Team (PDBFT) as "phenomenal and excellent". The stated resolution was approved during the 26th Regular Session on August 10, 2011.


The PDBFT is the current depending champion in the International Dragon Boat Federation Championships where the Filipinos dominated in five rowing events and set two new world records in the IDBF’s 10th World championships.


New Tourist Destination


If plan will push through, New Washington, Aklan will become another tourists destination in Aklan in three to five years.


A multi national group will invest in New Washington which will benefit Batan, Altavas, and Balete as well.


A five star hotel and yacht club will be put up in Polo, New Washington. Golf course will be constructed in Bay-ang, Batan, water sports will be developed using waterways among the four said towns. Cable car will be put up to connect Polo, New Washington with Bay-ang, Batan where a revolving restaurant will be put up. /MP

NVC Inducts Student Leaders




The Forum Editorial Board A. Y. 2011 – 2012 members was inducted to office by Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente, Adviser. Gloria T. Villas-Editor-In-Chief, Churchill C. Gumboc-Associate Editor, Niño Miko L. Delfin-Managing Editor, Dindo N. Borromeo & Jemimah B. Villanueva-Senior News Writers; Mimi T. Ruiz-Feature Writer (English), Gretchen N. Castro-Feature Writer (Filipino) Charissa Mae D. Tan-Literary Writer (Filipino), JC M. Ilio & Jhenalee R. Jimenez-Sports Writers, Anna Mae S. Torneo & Mary Elthelyn N. Zabay-Photo Editors, Wincess Lei C. Carillo-Lay Out Artist. Correspondents are Christmar S. Marte & Joecel Cuenca-Bachelor of Arts, Rhea Mae Delos Reyes & Jay Tumaca-Education, Carla N. Suñer & Cris Bryan Zaspa-BSHRM, Sidney Mae Regalado & Liezel Trinidad-Criminology, Anna Joy U. Ureta & Erol M. Valguna-Computer Science, Ma. Maribeth Zonio & Rachel G. dela Torre-BSBA, Argie Tumaca & Sweet Sammer Jumuad-Aeronautics, Alily C. Salazar & Kaile D. Antonio-High School.



Northwestern Visayan Colleges (NVC) held its annual Mass Induction Program for the newly elected officers of various students organizations for S. Y. 2011 – 2012 at CSQ Gymnasium on August 19, 2011.


Atty. Allen S. Quimpo, NVC president, Dr. Reinalda I. Magdaluyo , CESO IV, Dean College of Education and Graduate School. Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente, Atty. Plaridel Morania and Mr. Adolphus S. Pueda are the Inducting Officers.


Students from MAPEH Club and NVC Dance Troupe presented a dance number that truly entertained the crowd.


Department presidents delivered their speeches focusing on their goals for the betterments of their respective departments and the school. This year, NVC has 25 school organizations actively led by NVC student leaders. /MP

One Visayas Against Corruption



by MEGS S. LUNN




Some 200 Regional Executives and Resident Ombudsmen attended the 11th Visayas Convention of Regional Executives and Resident Ombudsmen held on August 17-19, 2011 at Sampaguita Gardens Resort and Spa, New Washington, Aklan.


The convention aimed to enhance integrity of government leaders, the need for transparency, constancy or uncompromised honesty, and change management to fight corruption and promote transparency and accountability.


Director Evelyn Trumpeta discussed the DILG four Thrusts during her welcome remarks which are Performance, Accountability, Responsiveness and Transparency (PART). She stressed "everybody wishes to change humanity but hardly anyone change themselves."


Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez and New Washington Mayor Edgar Peralta also welcomed the 200 Regional Executives and Resident Ombudsmen from Regions 6, 7, and 8, and some guests from Mindanao as well.


In his speech, Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Pelagio S. Apostol said, "government leaders should stand by its integrity and most importantly to work to prevent graft and corruption before it can actually happen." Hon. Apostol wishes to see all agencies and departments in the government to clean their own backyard and help the Office of the Ombudsman prosecute the culprit. "Once we have the evidence and witnesses and they are proven they violated the laws, we will not compromise," Apostol assured.


The topics and speakers discussed were: Day 1 – Violence against Women and Children Act of 2004 by Supt. Cecile R. Detablan of PNP Region Office VI; Integrity and Transparency by Judge Dolores L. Espanol, President – Transparency International. Day 2 – Forensic Compliance Audit by Hon. Alberto Bernardo, Deputy Exec. Secretary, Office of the President; Toward Spirituality of Whistle Blowing by Rev. Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Team Leader, Ehem-Anti Corruption Group.


Day 3 was the Fellowship and Awards Night to Resident Ombudsman who served their office/department from 10, 15 and 20 years. The award program was led by Hon. Pelagio S. Apostol, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas. Dr. Belle Quijano and Dir. Romulo Bernardes of Ombudsman Cebu served as deans of ceremonies.


The Ombudsman function is an international commitment with the UN Convention and it is their mandate to have a wider public participation, plus the private sector, business sector, NGO, civil society, a strong and independent media, members of the academe, and youth organizations to join together to succeed in the fight against corruption to totally eradicate.


Apostol said, "the government just lacks implementation because we are not united and sincere. We have a culture of tolerating corruption but we will succeed for the sake of our children and our children’s future".


The delegates ended their convention with the lighting of the candles to renew their commitment to "One Visayas Against Corruption." /MP

Visit In Massacre Site Almost Ends In Bloodbath


by ALEX P. Vidal


It pays to always have a calm mind amid difficulties.


This was proven when former Iloilo fifth distirct congressman Rolex Suplico and a team of capitol reporters visited the site of a massacre in Brgy. Mandu-awak, San Dionisio, Iloilo in the morning of July 16, 1996. The team elected to detour from hell — and lived another day!


Suplico, then a member of the provincial board, invited us for an ocular inspection of the area where a carnage that killed six members of two families — Ayusip and Arabe—happened several days earlier. Are those 60 journalists also "invited" to cover an event "file certificate of Candidacy" when they were massacred in Ampatuan Maguindanao in 2009?).


The visit came three days after Suplico filed a board resolution condemning the massacre and seeking the appointment of a new town police chief. Suplico said an ocular visit was needed as he wanted to "look deeper" into the grisly crime.


After spending about an hour talking to some residents in the area and inspecting the houses where the crime was committed, we decided to call it a day. On our way going to neighboring Sara town for lunch, we met San Dionisio Mayor Peter Paul Lopez and his armed bodyguards.
 

RESOLUTION
 

Lopez had begrudged the board resolution and accused Suplico of trying to implicate him in the massacre. He also believed the reporters were there to "add insult to his injury" as suspected mastermind. Suplico had quipped earlier that "I have no concrete evidence to link Mayor Lopez" but that the whole Mandu-awak area "is being controlled by the Lopezes." In other words, a bad blood had been brewing between Suplico and Lopez even before the visit.


We were on board two vehicles when Lopez’s team arrived also on two vehicles. Both Lopez and Suplico, who had not been talking to each other for a long time—and if they ever did the discussion was not cordial— greeted each other and shook hands. They talked.


A few moments later, Lopez was heard admonishing Suplico like a master giving a mouthful to an erring servant about the board resolution Suplico had authored. Suplico, a lawyer who spoke professionally, maintained his cool aware who was king in the area. Lopez lashed at him some more blaming the board resolution to be the source of a "bombastic" article that appeared in the Manila Standard which allegedly referred to Lopez as "murderer."
 

OBSERVE
 

Unlike the bodyguards from both sides observing their respective bosses like daycare pupils from the start, some reporters, who were not paying attention either because they were hungry or they thought everything was normal, were now glancing at Suplico and Lopez while the two were swapping heavy words.


"Daw indi na ni maayo haw? (It seems everything is not normal anymore)," photographer Cicero Omero whispered to me. "Pamati kamo daw ga binaisay na sila (Listen, they are now having argument)," Sun Star Iloilo reporter Nelson Robles interrupted us. "Relax lang ta. Alert lang" (Just relax and be alert)," contributed the late Panay News photographer Felix Agustin. If one of the bodygaurds pulled the trigger of an automatic firearm, there was no way for us to dodge the bullets as we were in open space and could hardly duck. 


After a tense moment, Suplico turned his back and boarded his vehicle. This decision proved to be the turning point of what would have been a terrible "after shock" of the massacre if both camps had engaged in gunfight. While Team Suplico was speeding away, Lopez’s mouth continued to blabber with words not audible to the fleeing entourage.
 

INTENTION
 

Over DYFM Bombo Radyo that night, Suplico said he did not have any intention to meet Lopez that day. Suplico decided to leave to avoid trouble, he said, because "I sensed that he was not normal and his eyes were red." Lopez, a political ally of then and now incumbent Gov. Art Defensor, denied Suplico’s statement. They have not crossed paths again until Suplico became a colleague and eventually ally of Defensor in the House of Representatives (Suplico will soon reportedly assume as Defensor’s provincial administrator).


Then provincial police commander, Supt. Wilfredo Dulay was furious when he heard about the incident. "Mabuti nalang walang nangyari. Naku, dagdag nanaman sana sa sakit ng ulo ko" (Good that no untoward incident had happened. It would have added to my headache)," Dulay said. /MP

SP Approves 2011 Aklan’s First Supplemental Budget


by Richie D. Oloroso


On its 25th Regular Session held on August 3, 2011, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan approved Aklan’s Supple-mental Budget No. 1 for CY 2011 which embodies a total appropriation of P41,829,791.00 through Appropriation Ordinance No. 2011-003


The budget will be of 5 percent for LDRRMF/Calamity Fund - P2,091, 489.55; 20 percent Development Fund of P8,365,958.20; Financial Expenses of P5,728,717.76; Personal Services like Terminal leave benefits for P913, 594.15; all legally authorized benefits for P500,000.00, MOOE for P23, 960,031.34; and the Capital Outlay – P270, 000.00.


The supplemental budget is funded by the increased Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of Aklan.


As mandated by law, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan reviews and approves all budgets of the province with the help of the Provincial Budget Office and the Provincial Local Finance Committee. 


The SP Committee on Appropriations, Budget, Finance, and Ways and Means is chaired by SP member Selwyn C. Ibarreta with Hon. Rodson F. Mayor and Hon. Phoebe Clarice I. Cabagnot as members.


The P41 million first supplemental budget of the Aklan provincial government for 2011 is on top of this year’s annual budget of P976,436,012.00, P587,989,907 for the General Fund, and the P388,446,105 for the Economic Enterprise.


Supplemental Budgets of Four Aklan Towns


Upon the recommendation of the Provincial Local Finance Committee (PLFC) and the SP Committee on Appropriations, Budget, Finance and Ways and Means, the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan during its 27th regular session on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 approved the supplemental budgets of the towns of Tangalan, Madalag, Kalibo and Malinao.


The 2011 annual general fund budget of Banga which carries a total appropriation of P57,068,186.60 as passed by the SB of the said town through Appropriation Ordinance No. 2011-001 was also approved and becomes operative in its entirety as recommended by the PLFC.


The annual budget of Ibajay was also approved in part. The General Fund and Economic Enterprise has a total appropriation of P82,232,630.51, of which P72,264,397.49 is for the mother/organic unit operations, while P9,968,233.02 is for its economic enterprise.


Partly Approved


However, the PLFC disallowed the continued retention in the plantilla of personnel whose positions are unfunded. The Ibajay LGU was advised to delete those unfilled positions. The PLFC likewise disallowed about P84,547.17 for discretionary fund.


The 2011 Annual Budget of Batan in the amount of P51,922,643.27 was returned for evaluation. The LGU Batan was advised to hold close consultation with the Provincial Budget Office.


Approved Supplemental Budget No. 1 of the General Fund and Municipal Economic Enterprise Development Office (MEEDO) for FY 2011 of Kalibo totals P6,662,381.40 for the General Fund and P2, 107,000.00 for the MEEDO.


Approved Supplemental Budget No.1 for FY 2011 of Malinao totals P4,000,000.00 for the operation of the municipal government of the town and for other purposes.


The approved 2011 Supplemental Budget No. 1 of Tangalan has total appropriation of P751,780.00.


Supplemental Budget No. 1 of Madalag carries a total appropriation of P4,870,144.
Still under review is the Supplemental Budget No.1 of Banga which totals P8,194,328.37 and that of Lezo which totals P26,780. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda


Ni Tita Linda Belayro


Ro Tatlong Ka Gae-om


Kato anay nga tiyempo, ro mga gae-om hay nagkaeasugot nga mag tipon-tipon sa naka taeana nga adlaw. Guin patawag ko hari ro mga maintok nga gae-om tongod guina atubang nanda ro mga saeampati. Ro iba kanda hay nasakitan.


"Patawara kami mahae nga hari", pakitlo-oy ni Nognog, ro pinaka maitum sa tatlong mga gae-om.


"Maeo-oy ka kamon, mahae nga hari", hinyo man ko kulor abo nga gae-om, si Adolfo ra ngaean. Naga tug-an kami nga indi eon kami mag uman", pangatlo man ni Tisoy, ro pinaka maputi nga gae-om. Naghutik ro reyna it mga gae-om sa anang asawang hari," patawara eon sanda akong asawa. Kinahangean nga taw-an mo pa sanda it obra agod indi eon sanda mag uman."


Nagmando ro hari nga mana-og sanda sa eogta agod mag obra it kamaeayran sa mga tawo. Rikara eamang sanda makabalik ogaling kon indi nanda matuman, paga pinahan sanda.


Owa it mahimo ro tatlong ka gae-om kundi magtuman. Nanaog sanda sa eogta ag nagkasugot nga magbueo-eag.


Nag adto si Nognog sa guina butangan ag guina sug-an it basura. Hakita nana ro isaeang ka mangingisda nga naga kut-kot it mabahoe nga buho.


"Ano ro bu-ot nga matabo?", pangutana ni Nognog. "Bu-ot ko nga maka obra it mabahoe nga tangke, ogaling hasta it makaron, owa pa it naga tunga nga tubi", sabat it mangingisda.


"Ako ro maaeam karon," hambae ni Nognog. Guin pa uean it mabaskog ni Nognog hasta napuno it tubi ro tangke. Malipayon ro mangingisda ag nakabalik si Nognog sa kaharian it mga gae-om.


Samtang si Adolfo hay naka adto sa isaeang ka lugar it mangunguma. Haabutan nana nga masubo ro mangunguma tongod mabuhay eon nga owa it uean. Madali eon lang magkaeamatay ro anang tanum. Na eo-oy si Adolfo sa mangunguma. Busa guin pa uean nana it mabaskog. Nagbunok ag naeatum ro mga tanum. Naulian sa pagkaea-ay. Nakabalik man si Adolfo sa anang kaharian.


Si Tisoy hay napadpad sa lugar nga abong mga tawong guina gutom. Owa man sanda it mga guina suksok nga na-og. Naeo-oy imaw sa mga tawo. Nag paino-ino imaw kon ano ro anang ikabulig. Ko ulihi, may hadumduman imaw. Pagkataliwan ko mga inadlaw ag binuean, isaeang adlaw hakibot ro mga tawo nga may nagtubo nga mga tanum. Ro mga sanga hay puno it puting bueak kapareho it mga gae-om. Guin tipon ko mga tawo ro bueak ag guin obrang eambong ag mahaea. Guin paabo nanda ro tanom ag guin baligya sa ibang lugar. Guin tawag nanda rondaya nga bueak o sa aton pa hay kandaba. /MP

How To Spend Limited Funds Derails Infrastructure Projects


by Ernesto T. Solidum


How to spend the limited funds available derails the construction of infrastructure projects. It is not the lack of funds, but the way how to spend the money available is the problem.


The country’s infra component must be fully developed to attract more tourists and investors is one of key messages of outgoing Secretary Alberto Lim of Department of Tourism. Aklan, being a tourists hub because of Boracay and the Aklan Ati-Atihan festival takes a good hard look on the issue and concerns pacing economic infra of the government.


The guests at the Kapihan forum held at Smokehauz Resto & Bar on August 20, 2011 are Engineers: Joey P. Ureta and Dennis C. Fuentes (representatives of Dist. Engr. Roberto Cabigas) of DPWH; Engr. Emerson S. Lachica, MEO Kalibo; and Engr. Victory M. Fernandez, PEO. The topic is "State of Infra Development in Aklan".


According to Engr. Fernandez, "their mandate is to develop, maintain, operationalize and sustain a functional network of roads and bridges for mobility of people and goods. For the last two decades they had gone out to maintain Jetty Port services in Caticlan and Cagban, all in Malay. To date, Aklan has 308 kilometers of provincial roads, 45 percent of which are classified as paved with concrete and 55 percent unpaved. The PEO office has undertaken the planning and supervision of the construction of Daguitan bridge, a 200 meter project spanning the Aklan river to Poblacion, Madalag. It is actually the biggest and most ambitious project in Western Visayas. Hope-fully, the two lane bridge will be finished by December of this year.


Up for rehabilitation is the Jawili-Bugtongbato road section earlier damaged by landslide. Another one is the damaged rampart of Caticlan Jetty Port accidentally wrecked by a RORO vessel. Repair is estimated to cost P8 million.


Despite its limited funding resources, the PEO has endeavored to connect remote barangays especially in Libacao where people used to avail of motorized transport, Provincial Engr. Fernandez added.


Engr. Lachica bared that the 2011 funding for infra is P15.4 million out of the 20 percent economic development outlay of IRA. Consequently, rehab for Kalibo’s streets is P5.4 million, for drainage is P3.0 million, and for building and public infra is P5.0 million.


"We face a stiff resistance from property developers and home-owners who tend to construct permanent structures like buildings and fences over or near bodies of water thereby hindering free flow of drainage canals. PD 296 expressly prohibits constructing a perimeter fence less than 3 meters adjacent to a creek or river. Likewise, there must be a setback of at least 20 meters from Aklan’s flood prone river bank in order to allow government construction of peripheral service roads", Lachica lamented.


The on going decongestion of drainage along major thoroughfares are coordinated with DPWH (especially along D. Maagma St.) and PEO. We have just completed the 400 meter concrete drainage section at San Lorenzo road, the excess water directed to Andagao creek. Due to population pressure, there is urgent demand to redesign old drainage structures because of obsolescence and recurrent clogging. It is welcome development that Kasangga Partylist Representative Ted Haresco has contributed P1.5 million for the rehabilitation and deccloging of drainage canals in Kalibo", Lachica reported.


Engr. Fuentes mentioned that national highway in Aklan is almost totally concreted or covered with asphalt overlay. Of the 155 kilometers dirt road, only 400 meters remain between Buruanga and Malay. The 11 kilometers road between Buruanga and Libertad, Antique will be paved with concrete next year with P150 million budget. It should be noted that Buruanga LGU has completed a RORO docking facility 3 years ago.


Also available is the P20 million funding for box culvert type drainage facility from Rotonda crossing (Kalibo) to Kalibo Int’l Airport (KIA) junction. Implementable this year is street lighting from KIA to Marzon Enterprises costing P1.4 million.


Engr. Ureta averred that rehabilitation of breakwater at Tambak, New Washington is scheduled for public bidding in the amount of P28 million. River bank erosion poses a major problem in road section of Banga – Libacao route particularly in Taba-aw, Banga. But the DPWH is saddled by inadequate funds. "There is no recourse but to advice people not to construct their houses near flood prone areas to avert any calamity", said Project Engineer Ureta.


It is tragic that DPWH has poorly designed and constructed Tambak bridge. The base elevation of two meters coincides with mean tidal height. Hence, effectively blocking the intertidal exchange of sea and brackish water. This natural cycle is considered critical for supply of planktons and replenishment of dissolved oxygen. Moreover, a much wider river channel or opening could have mitigated the impact of billowing sea rolls on the breakwater structure.


Until now, Kalibo has no master drainage plan for its burgeoning metropolis. Presently, the Kalibo Municipal Engineers’ Office could do its piecemeal work on critical sections oftentimes with assistance of DPWH. The reason for this partnership is not casual but forced due to shortage of funds. This is the reason why Mayor William S. Lachica is scouting for opportunities to augment the meager budget of Kalibo. The arrival of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in Aklan on Aug. 13 resulted to a pledge of P2 million but this remains to be seen.


Our road infra particularly the highway is getting congested and deteriorating with the yearly increase of vehicular traffic, often-times with payload of 20 tons, resulting in accidents, pollution and delays. For instance, the trip of passenger vans and buses from KIA to Caticlan (69 kilometers) takes an average of 2.0 hours. To cut travel time by half requires the creation a 3 lane highway and instill discipline among drivers.


The feeling of anomie or helplessness confronts at least 50 percent of Aklan’s total population due to recurrent floods and destruction in its wake. Engr. Ureta said that "the preliminary study of concrete revetments of 8 kilometers long installed on the Eastern side of the Aklan river from Bakhao Norte to Tigayon will cost P1 billion. However, the same amount could be effectively used when invested in hydroelectric dams".


Renewable energy is the wave of the future because the use of fossil fuels exacts a high price and unsustainable. Private investors are certainly needed to make this dream a reality. A positive response from our elected officials could offer a ray of hope. /MP

Aklan SP Commends Rosa Foods


Rosa Foods bags the Star Elite awards given by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region VI. The award is under the Small Enterprise Category given during the 2nd quarter meeting held in the Provincial Capitol Bldg., Bacolod City.


Rosa Foods, Inc. is a small corporation started in 1990. It is accredited as "AA" meat processing plant certified by the National Meat Inspection Service.


Rosa Foods, Inc. is a recipient of many awards like the: 1. Most Outstanding Agribusiness Entrepreneur in 2001 given by the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council; 2. Recognition of 5S on Good Housekeeping in 2000 by DTI; and 3. Best Meat Processing Plant "AA" Category Region VI for 2006 & 2007.


The Small and Medium Enterprise Star Program was launched by DTI to recognize outstanding entrepreneurs who have shown notable achievements in their businesses that made them more productive.


On the part of the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Vice Governor Gabrielle V. Calizo-Quimpo and Hon. Raymar A. Rebaldo, during their 27th regular session held on August 17, 2011 filed a resolution commending Rosa Foods, Inc. for obtaining the said award, reported Richie D. Oloroso of the Aklan SP. /MP

DAR Conducts Pre-Construction Conference On Infra Project


The Department of Agrarian Reform in Aklan conducted a pre-construction conference for its two projects under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project – Phase III (ARISP III) at the Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall in Malay, Aklan on August 17, 2011. The conference covered discussion on two approved projects namely Dumlog – Sitio Anaga, Cabulihan Road amounting to P6,393,862.00 and Argao-Napaan Road with Bridge worth P15,667,727.00.


Mr Yukihiro Kahawara, ARSP III Consultant and Team leader together with Engr. Imelda Lamboon of the DAR CPMO, Director Ernesto Gregorio of DPWH–CARP Central Office discussed the projects. DAR Regional Director Alexis Arsenal, PARO Eberardo N. Erispe attended the conference with the winning bidders where the policies and guidelines on the implementation of the farm to market roads were discussed.


DAR–Aklan launched its ARISP III projects in 2009 providing assistance to three agrarian reform communities: the Malaya ARC in Malay, BENTH ARC in Buruanga, and Pacto De Sangre in New Washington.


The two road projects for Malay under this program run up to P30,161,589.00. /MP

Thursday, August 18, 2011

EDITORIAL


Massive Fiscal Mess In Iloilo Town


COA uncovers millions in fund mis-use, mis-appropriation


by Florence F. Hibionada


Over P4.4 million in unliquidated cash advances, wrong use of Special Education Fund (SEF), millions in unimplemented programs, over P7.4 million in lost earnings, and while at it, inadequate bond for town treasurer and an unsecured treasurer’s office.


Senior State Auditors summed up this year’s additional findings on the 2010 operations report of the Municipality of Tigbauan, Iloilo. This, as the latest Annual Audit Report (AAR) from the Commission On Audit (COA) uncovered as well town collections not remitted intact or in full for at least five (5) years in a row.


Deposits were "very much delayed which range from weeks or a month and even longer." And such is totally unacceptable and wrong, Senior State Auditor said, "considering that the distance of the agency (Tigbauan) to the authorized depository bank is more or less 25 kilometers only."


To note, the law calls for immediate deposit of government money as soon as it reaches P2,000.00 or US $47.


Documents showed delayed deposits of collections ranging from over P744,000 of the General Fund (GF) in 2006 and over P953,000 from the same year’s Special Education Fund (SEF) collections.


In 2007, over P1.1 million in GF collections and over P371,000 in SEF; in 2008, over P1.2 million in GF and over P1million in SEF; in 2009, over P3.9 million in GF and over P646,000 in SEF; and in 2010, over P813,000 in GF and over P668,000 in SEF collections were all deposited late.


As such, COA wants immediate action from town officials particularly Mayor James Excel Torres with the AAR now duly transmitted .


The exact amount wanting of liquidation is P4,461,511.73 "thus exposing government funds to misappropriation and misuse," COA pointed out.


And wrong dis-bursements too from the SEF worth P223,027.39 "thus depriving the students and teachers of the benefits derived therefrom."


"In the post-audit of disbursements…, it was noted that there were disbursements made by the Local School Board amounting…, which were not in accordance with the rules and regulations on the utilization of Special Education Fund," excerpts of the COA findings revealed.


With this, the Commission On Audit recommended for the immediate stopage of SEF mis-use "not in accordance with the guidelines set for its utilization." The pro-visions of the law, COA stressed, "should be strictly complied with."


How about the issue of nearly P6 million in unimplemented projects identified under the mandatory 20 percent Development Fund? COA, in validating the report said constituents were deprived of the benefits.


To note, it is mandatory for each Local Government Unit (LGU) to set aside said 20 percent Development Fund for local development plans. While compliance was met on the budget allocation, unimplemented were over P7.4 million worth of projects.


"It shall be the responsibility of every Municipal Mayor to ensure that the 20 percent of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) is optimally utilized. Hence, it is but proper that programs and projects contained in the development plan be fully implemented," the COA said.


As for lost earnings, COA reported of unrealized income worth P7,440,000.00, no thanks to some 48 market stalls left unused.


"The Municipality entered into a loan agreement of P20 million with the Development Bank of the Philippines for the construction of public market perimeter stalls. The loan was released on April 28, 2009. The project was completed sometime in the latter part of 2009 and is ready for occupancy on the early month of 2010. However, as of this writing, the stalls are not yet occupied/rented," the COA report went.


Continued delay, COA stressed, becomes "a burden by paying for the loan amortization without deriving income from it."


"The projected income had the market stalls were rented during the year could have been a big help in sustaining market operation as well as accomplishing the programs and projects that would alleviate the lives of its constituents," the COA pointed out.


And while a bidding for the stalls’ lease have been set, COA auditors learned of the delays thus calling anew the attention of Mayor Torres.


"The act of the Local Chief Executive in postponing the bidding and revising the guidelines are offshoots of the possible mockery of the bidding," the report stated.


"In the conduct of cash examination, it was noted that collections of the municipality ranges an average of P1.5 million per month or more but the bond of the OIC Municipal Treasurer was only P225,000.00 thereby exposing government funds to risk in case the accountable officer absconds, transfer or is relieved from the service," the COA said.


Worse, for even the town’s treasurer’s office itself found by COA as "not properly secured exposing government funds and property to risk of loss thru theft due to its accessibility to unauthorized personnel contrary to sound internal control."


Provide security, for inside the treasurer’s office is a restroom for public and common office use with local taxpayers and employees in nearby offices "free to go in and out because there are no restrictions impose on them." /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer


Ambrosio R. Villorente


Mayor Bernardo J. Rodriguez, Sr.


Miss Richie Oloroso reported, the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved Balete Ordinance No. 009 – 2011 renaming the Mayor Bernardo J. Rodriguez, Sr. Memorial Hall into Balete Community College – Mayor Bernardo I. Rodriguez, Sr. Bldg. Oloroso is Administrative Aide I in Aklan SP, and Secretary, Aklan Pres Club, Inc.


The said resolution was approved during the Aklan SP’s 25th Regular Session held on August 3, 2011. The approval came shortly after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) interposed no objection to the renaming. However, CHED suggested to retain Balete former Mayor’s name in respect of his memory.


Razon Tumbocon Haresco


In her honor, the honorable members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan has also named a 200 linear meters long bridge as "Commissioner Razon Tumbocon Haresco Guadalupe Bridge".


The said bridge is still under construction. When it is finished, it spans across Aklan river and connects the municipality of Madalag to the town of Banga. This will also further isolate the towns of Malinao and Lezo. Madalag can be reached by land from Kalibo passing Numancia, Lezo, and Malinao. Moreover, Madalag via Banga road is quite better and shorter than Madalag via Malinao road. Thereby, passing through it is more convenient, shorter time, and less expensive.


The said ordinance was jointly sponsored by Hon. Rodson F. Mayor and Hon. Jean O. Rodriguez. The Aklan SP approved it during its 27th Regular session held on August 17, 2011.


The ordinance as approved stated that the "naming of the 200 linear meters bridge linking Madalag to Banga is in honor of the late Commissioner Razon Tumbocon Haresco.


The late Razon Tumbocon Haresco served as Commissioner of the Philippines Tariff Commission in 1968 – 1974. She is also the mother of the Party List Cong. Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr. of Kasangga. Cong. Haresco is credited to have facilitated the construction of that 200 linear meters bridge under the President’s Bridge Program. Hence, the naming of it to Razon Haresco Tumbocon-Guadalupe bridge.


This bridge links Madalag to Banga, the construction of which is the realization of the long cherished dream of Madalagnons.


Guadalupe is the Patron Saint of Madalag which feast is celebrated every December.
For those who will soon follow the foot steps of leaders like Cong. Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr, better work hard, earn, and save money to build edifices for public use. Better still run for public office, have access to public coffers to build structure and name it in honor of your close relative. This will perpetuate your memory if not your close relative’s like your mother.


Juan Miguel Zubiri


But buildings like bridges constructed across a river maybe eroded and demolished as a legacy in the long run. If I may add, a monument of honor and dignity implanted in the hearts and mind of the people is everlasting. This is done by the resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri because he wanted to immortalize honors and dignity in the hearts of every man.


Simply stated, construct a never ending legacy. /MP

Aussie Farmer Operates Scientific Farm In Nabas


by Ernesto T. Solidum


To see, high quality vegetables at reasonable prices, visit the sprawling greenhouse farm of George Attaliotis. That scientific vegetable farm is located in Toledo, Nabas, right before reaching Toledo National High School. It is a stones’ throw from the National highway going to the beach. An imposing metal and plastic infrastructure alerts a probable visitor in search for high quality vegetables. Popular and most sought after culinary varieties are grown and produced destined for the high end market of Boracay, the country’s premier tourist destination.


George, 71 is Greek by descent but Australian by nationality. An agronomist by profession, his expertise is more on designing and constructing different types of green houses for use by garden enthusiasts back in his home state of Australia. Either working alone or with a business partner, most favored consumer demands are grown like tomatoes, pepper, onion, melon, beans, lettuce, and cucumber. The facility is equipped with packaging and cold storage equipment to assure fresh and damaged-free vegetables.


"The Philippines has a good soil and favorable climate to grow vegetables yet the demand is never met", said the hard working Aussie. This is the reason why I came here to invest and reap whatever success and experience that may come my way. My initial vegetable greenhouse projects were in Cavite, and Batangas in 1995 where premium prices were achieved for high quality product. As we all know, buyers in Metro Manila have discriminating taste than here in the provinces. Cost of handling and transport are held to a minimum because of nearness of farm to the market", explained George.


To engage in a one hectare commercial greenhouse operation is more of patience, hard work and technical skills. Although money is an important factor to consider in any business undertaking, it may not be decisive since you can start small and then expand later. At any rate return on investment is relatively higher", he pointed out.


For every 1000 square meter of greenhouse with complete paraphernalia, investment cost is P1 million. This includes polyethylene roofing, GI structural frame, drip irrigation and nylon net enclosure. George has separate elevated nursery beds and huge concrete tanks for collecting rainwater. Seedling bags filled with a mixture of coco pit, carbonized rice hull, and organic matter serve as growing media for vegetables. Evenly spread rows have individual trellises where viny and slender stem of plants cling for support. Judicious pruning is done by five (5) full time laborers to insure that desirable numbers of fruits are nurtured to maturity.


Considering the modified environment of growing vegetables, a 1000 square meter plot of tomatoes produces an average of 10 tons, while pepper of same area is 6 tons per year (2 cropping cycle). Most of George’s products are sold direct to hotels and restaurants in Boracay. Sometimes, middlemen are involved but they’re of least priority to avoid rock bottom price.


How do you compare prices of vegetables in Manila and Aklan?


According to George, there is a lot of difference since there is a huge market in the metropolis of 9 millions. "Whereas, Boracay customers can only be a small fraction. Demand is governed by intensity of tourist arrivals. Therefore, I have to grow vegetables that are in demand at a time. This greenhouse project started into full operation only in February 2011 and I am just learning the market trend," said George.
Presently, the first batch of melon harvest is done by laborers. The following month could be lettuce and sweet pepper. Inside the greenhouse could be an aseptic environment because obnoxious weeds are nowhere to be found. Instead, drip irrigation plastic tubings find their way to individual growing plants. Pest an diseases are very insignificant to pose any problem at all.


George’s architectural design and construction of greenhouses in Toledo, Nabas are based on prevailing weather condition to withstand winds up to 180 kph. Most of his materials are ordered direct from Taiwan and shipped in bulk. Among his satisfied customers are the DA former secretaries: Edgardo Angara, Chito Lorenzo, and Arthur Yap when they contracted him to build for farmer organizations.


George intends to acquire 3.0 hectares of agricultural property within a 7 kilometer radius from his present greenhouse location to be planted to Cavendish and Lacatan varieties of bananas. He is optimistic that given the right technology, local production could be remarkably increased.


Hands on supervision, winning personality, diligence, and professional competence can be the key to success of George who migrated here for good. His passion and dedication can be diminished by age but, the spirit never yields. /MP

NGO’s Vital Role In The Power Industry


by Ernesto T. Solidum


The Weekly Kapihan guests on August 13, 2011 discussed the topic, "State of Power Industry in Aklan". Present at Smokehauz Resto & Bar are key officers of Akelco who are Chito Peralta – Gen. Manager and Lorenzo Laserna – Power Consultant and Atty. Romeo Inocencio, former SP member and now Non Government Organization (NGO) member – Power Aklan.


Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino recalled the fateful meeting between then Provincial Governors Norada–Iloilo, Exequiel Javier–Antique, Cornelio Villareal, Jr.–Capiz, and Roberto Garcia–Aklan. That was in 1973 when they decided that Aklan river be tapped to generate cheap and renewable energy for Panay Island. Just when plans were afoot to realize the dreamed project, unfortunately this was unceremoniously sequestered by Iloilo.


Jalaur river, being a small system proved ineffective hence the current power outages, inefficiency and sky-rocketing energy cost. Indeed, this incident is very lamentable.


GM Peralta said that organizational profile of Akelco is very strong with 298 employees (ratio of 1:350 consumer members following the recommendation of National Electrification Administration (NEA). Akelco covers all 17 towns in Aklan, two towns in Antique and one barangay in Damayan, Capiz. Akelco owns 2,046 kilometers of primary and secondary transmission lines serviced by 100 highly trained linemen or at a ratio of 1:20 kms. As of 2011 there are 38,200 lifeliners classified as marginalized consumers who will continue to receive subsidies for the next 10 years under RA 10150 recently signed into law by Pres. Benigno C. Aquino.


We have power contract with Green Corp based in Dumaguete City to supply our power needs in Aklan for 36 MW. Because of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), Napocor assets are privatized and subsidized formerly enjoyed by consumers was invariably lost. Nevertheless as a Government Owned and Controlled Corpo-ration (GOCC), we have narrowed our System loss to 9.7, the lowest in Western Visayas, and achieved A+ rating category. Our collection efficiency is 100 percent with P89 million net profit margin, Atty. Peralta stressed.


Atty. Inocencio divulged that consumers in Aklan are facing electrical jolts of 1st and 2nd tranch of power rate increases. The first one occurred just a month ago from P250 – P260 per kwh under Napocor to P485 now under Independent Power Producer (IPP). Obviously, the second jolt will come as Power Sector assets and Liabilities Management Corp (Psalms) realized its demand that National Transmission Corp (Transco) pays its outstanding obligation of $5.87 billion to National Grip Corp of the Philippines (NGCP).


EPIRA law provides that a universal charge will be imposed on all electricity and users for the payment of Napocor’s stranded debt and stranded contract costs. As approved by Energy Regulatory Commission, Psalm will collect 39 centavos per kilowatt hour from each consumer member for a period of 15 years. At least the total cost per kwh will reach P5.24, quite a whooping sum. This means well beyond the paying capacity of ordinary consumers to a single utility firm.


It appears that the total debt of Napocor is $15.8 billion and proceeds from sale of assets or privatization stood at only $264 million from the abyss Napocor cannot do otherwise except to declare insolvency. Given this dire consequences why should ERC require hard working, honest consumer members of cooperatives like Akelco, Capelco, Ileco, and all others to pay for unpaid obligation of Napocor? Why not exhaust other plausible options like channelling government savings incurred during first half of this year in the amount of P2.1 billion to address distress calls of helpless consumers? The former SP member asked.


The power sector industry is governed by EPIRA law which advocates renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro, biomass) and provides incentives to independent power producers for healthy competition. After a decade however, these objectives have never been realized namely: reduced power costs and more industry players. As a matter of fact, Lopez, Aboitiz, and Sy families have cornered Napocor’s assets giving rise to monopoly. Moreover, power gene-ration cost of renewable energy, being new technology is very prohibitive like P17.00/kwh for solar and P10.37 – wind.


Based on available data, developing countries of Asia like Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam offer lower power rates – 5 to 7 cents/kwh compared to the Philippines’ 16 cents. This is very significant since investors shy away from high production cost, not to mention the inherent corruption and red tape (in the Philippines as what happened to "CALEN" Libacao, Aklan about two years ago).


It is commendable that NGO’s led by Atty. Inocencio of Power Aklan is rallying for active support of all stakeholders for revision of EPIRA law especially in the elimination of government subsidies, privatization program of Napocor’s assets, imposition of VAT, universal charge regardless of power source, absorption of systems’ losses by consumer – members among others. As the power sector becomes indispensable to modern lifestyle, public hearing done by ERC be held more often and accessible to its consumers rather than hold in cloistered, sanitized environments of Metro Manila and Boracay.


Faced with startling realities, consumer-members of Akelco could only lift their eyes to the hills from where their help come (Psalm 121:1-2). In a divine sense, this is true but in secular way, the hills of Libacao, Madalag, and Ibajay offer the best long term solution: hydropower, irrigation, potable water, tourism and fresh water aquaculture. With resoluteness, economic despondency must be routed. The dictum must be: "If there’s a will, there must be a way!


"Power to the people" is a slogan in most street protests. Yet it appears that only the bureaucrats in collusion with a select few appear to lord it over the small fry. NGO’s must play a critical and vital role in bringing about this much needed change. /MP

Villar Files Bill Creating Industry Body To Boost Employment


Sen. Manny Villar filed a bill that will take advantage of the natural creativity of Filipinos and create more employment opportunities for the people.


Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, authored Senate Bill No. 1064 or the Creative Industries Act, which seeks to establish the Creative Industries Development Council. If approved into law, this council will provide an environment conducive to the enhancement and stimulation of creativity and innovative endeavors of its people.


"Creative industries are considered one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy today. In fact, it contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product of many developed countries as these capitalized countries on their cultural and creative industries to grow their economies," he pointed out.


"I recognize the potential of our various creative industries given the natural creativity of our people. This should be tapped in order to generate revenue and income, not only for its stakeholders but also for the nation as a whole," Villar believes.


Creative industry includes advertising, architecture, antique markets, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, video and photography, software, computer games and electronic publishing, music and the visual performing arts, publishing, television and radio.


Villar cited the achievements of Kenneth Cobonpue, a known furniture-maker based in Cebu, whose creations are featured in foreign films and bought by Hollywood movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, among others. Villar also lauded the success of jewelry artisan Bea Valdes and bag designer Maristela Ocampo and Amina Aranaz.


"We have more talents like them waiting to be nurtured by government support," he said. Villar noted that while the Philippines produces world-renowned artists, singers, musicians, dancers, designers, among others, still the contribution of creative industries to the economy has remained insignificant.


"Likewise, due to the lack of incentives, financial, educational, infrastructure and technology supports from the government and business sectors, our local industries established through the creativity and innovativeness of Filipino entrepreneurs are not yet fully developed," he stressed.


The Council will be tasked to provide high quality trainings for skills and creativity development; formulate measures that shall stimulate creativity and innovations among the youths to ensure long term supply of creative talents; conduct a comprehensive mapping of individuals or groups involved in creative industries; and design practical tools to assist individual creators and creative communities to effectively use and diversify their products to be locally and globally competitive.


"Nurturing and exploitation of creative industries in our country through an effective national policy could really contribute to job creation, income generation and poverty alleviation," Villar added. /MP