Thursday, October 27, 2011

EDITORIAL


Need For Swift Negotiations With MILF


Senators urged the government to act strongly on the peace negotiations in light of the death of 19 soldiers in an encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Basilan.


"The government must firm up its resolve to end the root causes of social unrest and armed conflict in Mindanao so as to put meaning in the deaths of our men in uniform," said Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chair of the committee on social justice and rural development, in a statement issued on Thursday, October 20.


The Philippine troops found the bodies of the soldiers after a fierce fighting on Tuesday, October 18 considered one of the deadliest since 2008 when peace talks bogged down.


Sen. Koko Pimentel in an interview said Thursday, October 20 the culprits should be identified, ran after, jailed and prosecuted according to law.


"Under ordinary common sense, if these criminals fight back, they have to be pulverized," Pimentel said.


The senators also called for the reassessment of the government’s peace policies and its handling of the MILF.


"We cannot allow the MILF to dictate the terms and conditions of the peace process. This latest incident is a major setback in the efforts to secure a just and honorable peace," Pangilinan said.


Pimentel added that the government should always be on top of the situation saying, "It should not allow itself to be bulldozed by other forces. Otherwise, it ceases to be effective in our own country."


 

The chair of the government peace panel, Marvic Leonen, called the incident as "isolated" and that the armed confrontation was not intended by both the government and MILF.


However, Senator Francis Escudero, opposed Leonen’s statement. "I don’t agree with the nonchalant manner our own negotiators dismissed the incident as simply ‘isolated.’ Nineteen of our soldiers were killed. That’s 19 widows and countless children who will grow up without their fathers who were out there to serve the country and our people," he said.


Escudero, chair of the committee on justice and human rights, added that if government troops are protecting the citizens and the community, there must be systems, institutions and people who should protect them in return.


The senator, thus, called for the review of the Armed Forces of the Philippines protocols, tactics and standard operating procedures because "as of late, they are suffering from too many casualties."


"It is imperative for our negotiators to pursue efforts to finally find peace in Mindanao. But they should also give equal importance to the lost lives of our soldiers who were vital instruments in protecting our people from rogue elements," Escudero pointed out.
The senators expressed their grief and respect for the soldiers who died in the clash.


"Every single life lost in this conflict is a pin pricked in the heart of our nation. We grieve for our soldiers, their families and loved ones. They paid the ultimate price for our nation," Pangilinan said.


"I commend our soldiers for their gallantry and bravery and for fighting for our freedom," Escudero added.
 

Beef Up PNP Visibility

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday, Oct 19 directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to step up security and peacekeeping efforts to effectively deter crimes with the onset of the Christmas season.


Ochoa said the administration is concerned with the reported frequency of crime incidence and urged police officials to exert effort that is over-and-above their routine operations to curb criminality nationwide.


"We should not just accept the usual notion that every Christmas season, crime incidence is expected to go up. That should not be the case. If we already know that crime will rise during this time of the year then let us do something new, something out of the box, to prevent this," Ochoa stressed.


The PNP must increase police presence and conduct high-visibility patrols around the country to fight crimes. Crimes could be prevented if more law enforcers are visible on the street and even encouraged police generals to "go out and be in the field" to have a better assessment of the situation on the ground.


The actual physical presence of police officers in the community, submission of periodical reports on the peace and order situation, as well as thorough and intelligent assessment of reports from the field in putting together a well-crafted and coordinated security plan are necessary.


"A real, actual and significant movement of the police force is an effective tool to make sure that crime is prevented."
 

Ochoa reminded the PNP leadership of its primary role in ensuring the full implementation of government programs and operations in addressing criminality and maintaining peace and order in the country. /MP 

Fond Memories


by MEGS S. LUNN


Varied Bliss


When every day brings something new, you feel you couldn’t ask for more. Travel satisfaction is what I called my trip recently a varied bliss. I met wonderful people on my way to my destination, people who travels for business, pleasure and or migration. I experience diverse cultures of lifestyle and foods, customer service are awesome, interactions are challenging and rewarding. My different family hosts almost every day was able to show me the same Filipino hospitality we never could have imagined. In return, through my talks and presentation, I was able to show them the positive impact of how we care and work with a small amount of resources, to be able to get things done, for the love of service.


Upon entry through Los Angeles International Airport, my cousins whom I haven’t seen for 15 or 20 years was able to gave me a grand welcome to USA. Right away, we drove to downtown LA, Hollywood, Pasadena, and around different cities of California. It was a surprised when they suddenly offered to drive 4-hours to Las Vegas. Here’s a first timer in the USA and was right away introduced to what they called a "Sin City." What makes it exciting is that we were able to cross countries for two days from New York, to London, Paris and Egypt….but, only in Vegas. Using the tram to do it was not bad. Went to see the hotels (MGM, The Hotel) where our International Boxer – Cong. Manny Pacquiao played and stayed. Likewise, we visited Mandalay Bay where he recently threw a party for his victory. I got lucky to meet Mark – the manager of Mandalay Bay and gave me boxes of playing cards to take home. Well, we have to appreciate something you are not expected to get, huh!


Well, wherever you go in the US, the most impressive is their wider roads, disciplined motorists/drivers and efficient traffic lights. What about their food? They have huge servings that before I could eat, I have to think first of others who has nothing to eat. Pathetic that it may sound, but their servings are so huge that you could serve two to three people by it. Buffet are so cheap that you could eat "seafood" – you eat whatever you see or at most times, your eyes get bigger than your stomach, you end up feasting on them and when you get full, you realized, you have served yourself abundantly that you couldn’t finally finish it, and that is a shame.


On the other hand, Filipinos are well known with good family values. My Uncle Pol always starts our trip with a prayer and makes sure that we also have time to worship before we retire for the night. He will lead into prayer for whatever we do and wherever we go. That was so kind of him, therefore, I already know that my trip to USA will be the best as it could be, safe and sound, for it was prayed for.


My trip’s mission for twelve days is to Denver, Colorado. For the first five days, every after talk with different Rotary clubs in the cities of Denver, Wheatridge, Arvada and Lakewood, in between, I get the opportunities to see the whole Colorado. It’s a place committed to preserving the pristine setting and mountain lifestyle. Driving through every city, you will see the mountains on the West that offers thrills for every level and all ages. From abundant wide open green and blue groomed trails, to the beautiful Aspen at Vail Mountain with bright gold color, the different historic towns and cities we visited have vibrant landscape of different colored-flowers, it’s town remains to preserving its heritage and every time you stopped by, it radiates an unparalleled welcoming spirit that celebrates a simpler life and time. At almost 12 thousand feet high, here I was assaulted by the wind for it was the coldest part of Colorado I have ever went – 40 degrees at the Continental Divide. It was so fascinating, indeed.


It is of varied bliss because I also had the chance to ride on a 4-seater plane to see the whole city of Colorado from 5,000ft high above. The two-hour ride was undeniably an amazing bliss. The stunning scenery from above gave me the whole perspective of what Colorado is all about. It is a place with an awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, Table Top Mountains, Evergreen and Aspen Trees, with a blended historical building and warm, responsible people.


The Gala Nite Fundraising at Denver Marriott West was my final tour of duty to speak. We did the very exciting live auction of which it was my first time to feel ecstatic on such rare occasion. It was fun to meet up the whole board member of Uplift Internationale who does Operation Taghoy medical mission for the children with cleft lip and palate in the Philippines. The Humanitarian Award they accorded me was unexpected, of all places, we were recognized in a strange country. It was no strange feeling after, as I have felt the warmth and love of my fellow volunteers that I have even offered to call them sister, brother, dad and mom. Suddenly, I found my second home with heartwarming individuals in Colorado.


After the fun of walking, driving, flying and speaking around Colorado, I have to add in my list the vacation after a vacation. Wyoming was my most awaited next destination. Driving through the Magic City of the Plains is an inner journey for me. Great plains abound Wyoming. Driving was so quiet and it gave me an enormous time to reflect and meditate. A moment of silence is sometimes what we need. Unknowingly to my companion, he gave me that privileged to be able to have time to appreciate what we are seeing left and right. It was like you are in the middle of nowhere, of vast plains and blue skies that leads you to somewhere, and to something exciting.


Our destination was Cheyenne. This is a home to "The Daddy of ‘em All", "Cheyenne Frontier Days" for 114 years now, where they show a thousands of film for two weeks, which includes food, western art shows, Native American arts and culture, night concerts and, of course, the famous award winning rodeo itself. It is interesting to know that in Wyoming, there is one house for every five-acre.


Though a place not for you to retire, it is indeed so magical to just walk around to see some old Victorian houses, gardens and lakes. It is one of the wealthiest States, for gas and oil abounds this State. You get to appreciate their history as they are also called the Front Range Urban Corridor. We also drove to Wedauwoo (ve-da-vu) Mountains where you see the different stone formation, cotton wood and aspen trees, too, what an enormous sight that I just couldn’t comprehend. I love the long drive to the Rocky Mountains National Park, passed many cities, see typical outwest pinetrees, water, canyon and lodging, before you could finally reach the highest continuous road in the United States of America. We were almost at the edge of Colorado Mountains, what an awesome view of beautiful creations. I love the thought of being able to be with someone special seeing and appreciating those creations.


The sunshine, blue skies and some white snow I get to see in Colorado was so over-whelming especially that they blend to every pictures I took. Nothing beats Colorado. Though I missed the humidity back home, you feel like it’s always a cold breezy, fresh morning all the time. My experience in Colorado has been significantly more profound, for I found more than beauty and fun. Mr. Tom Brock, an editor of one magazine in town said, "It is a place of endless possibility."


It makes sense. If given the chance to live there with so much energy and honesty, good things may happen. For now, there is no place like home. /MP

Aklan SP Approves 8 Municipal Budgets


by RICHIE D. OLOROSO


On its 35th Regular Session, the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan has declared operative in its entirety eight (8) municipal supplemental budgets of Aklan’s component municipalities on the recommendation of the Provincial Local Finance Committee (PLFC) and after thorough review by the SP Committee on Appropriation, Budget, Finance, Ways and Means chaired by Honorable Selwyn C. Ibarreta with Honorable Rodson F. Mayor and Honorable Phoebe Clarice Cabagnot


The provincial legislative body has approved supplemental budgets of Kalibo, Buruanga, Balete, Makato, Tangalan, Lezo, Malay and Libacao.


Supplemental Budget No. 2 for FY 2011 of Kalibo has a total appropriation of Php 275,568.40 appropriated for personal services requirement of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer II of Aklan. Supplemental Budget No. 3 for FY 2011 of the said municipality has total appropriations of Php 3, 640,000.00 for the procurement of other property, plant and equipment and heavy equipment and for the implementation of other development programs and projects of the municipality of Kalibo.


Supplemental Budget No. 1 of the Municipality of Buruanga for FY 2011 has an appropriation of Php 18, 801,704.00 appropriated for various expenditures of the operation of the local government unit of Buruanga, Aklan.


Also, Supplemental Budget No. 2 for FY 2011 of Balete carries total appropriation of Php 3, 000,000.00 while Supplemental Budget No. 1 of Makato for CY 2011 has a total appropriation of Php4,326,109.94.


Supplemental Budget No. 2 for FY 2011 of Tangalan provides total appropriation of Php2,297,879.00 while Supplemental Budget No. 1 of Lezo has a total appropriation of Php26,780.00


The Supplemental Budget No. 1 for FY 2011 of Malay has also a total appropriation of Php23, 463,470.02 for the various expenditures in the implementation of the different programs and services of the LGU Malay. Supplemental Budget No. 1 for FY 2011 of Libacao carries total appropriation of Php4,520, 129.00.


Likewise, the Supplemental Budget No. 2 for FY 2011 of Malinao which carried appropriations of Php 3, 438, 794.36 appropriated for the operation of the LGU and for other purposes is still under review of the Provincial Local Finance Committee. /MP

Agri-Tourism, Emerging Trend In Community Development


by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM


Weekly Kapihan forum at Smokehauz Resto & Bar on October 22, 2011 discussed, "State of Food Security In Aklan". Guests are Mr. Noli Delegencia, OIC Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Mr. William B. Castillo, Provincial Agriculturist, DA, Engr. Rizalo F. Concepcion, Div. Manager, NIA, Ms. Judith T. Tindog, Sr. Grains Officer, NFA, Ms. Marlyn R. Canete, AT-DA, Ms. Mae R. Maatubang, Agriculturist III, and Mr. Francisco R. Tocol, AT-DA. It should be underscored that the province of Aklan prioritizes agriculture and tourism as twin engines of growth for progress and stability.

Mr. Delegencia said that preliminary estimate of palay production from January to June 2011 is 58,603 metric tons (mts) and another 46,000 mts in July to December. Record performance is from 6,712 hectares irrigated and 10,408 hectares rainfed. Normal average yield of irrigated area is 3.8 metric tons per hectare while rainfed is 3.5 metric tons per hectare. Basically, good weather prevailed for the first three quarters of this year. Surplus production is computed at 7,371 mts palay or 4,691 mts rice for the six month period.


However, for poultry and livestock products, there is much to be desired. Demand is filled up by imports of 800 heads cattle and beef from Iloilo and Antique every quarter, 30 heads of swine, 16,000 dressed chicken and 200,000 pcs. eggs every quarter. Deficit in poultry, meat and eggs is due to scant investments in commercial animal production. Based on record, there are only four poultry operators and piggery projects in Aklan due to slim margin of profitability.


In fisheries, there is steady growth in aquaculture especially in 3,245 hectares developed fishpond of the New Washington. Marine fisheries are augmented by deep sea fishing vessles and lambaklad initially im-plemented by provincial government in Mabilo, Kalibo; Katipunan, Buruanga; and Baybay, Makato. Production however of the latter is stalled during northeast moonson or the amihan except in Buruanga.


Mr. Castillo revealed that the DA has a mission of uplifting the lives and productivity of farmers and fisherfolks through adoption of scientific agricultural practices. In order to realize its goals, the DA conduct trainings and seminars on leading food commodities especially rice (inbred and hybrid), high value crops (vegetables, mango), root crops, and plantation (rubber and cacao). It also spearheads conservation of angelwing clams, pangasius fry culture and protocols for establishment of marine sanctuary.


Ms. Maatubang, DA Coordinator for hybrid rice says that total area planted to hybrid is 368.4 hectares down from 1,000 hectares. Reason is the removal of financial aid leaving only subsidy for seeds equivalent to P1,600 per bag.


Ms. Canete, DA Coordinator for high value crops mentioned that total of 444 kilograms of assorted vegetable seeds were distributed to all towns. Priority is training of farmers and Vocational Teachers in backyard vegetable production. Under the Gulayan sa Kalusugan done in partnership with DepEd, seeds, garden tools and technical supervision is done to insure success since harvest is funneled to malnutrition intervention.


Ms. Tindog said that Aklan as of October 21, 2011 has 142.6 days of reserved rice supply with 609,095 bags inventory of commercial, household, and government stock. Grains procurement is on-going at procurement centers pegged at P17.20/kgm clean and dry, plus incentive fee of P.30 per kilogram for cooperatives.


NFA has warehouse inventory of P128,095 bags of certified palay seeds, local rice stock of 3,594 and imported rice of 256 bags. Our food security stocks for any contingency is 8,540 bags, Ms. Tindog added.


Engr. Concepcion stated that NIA covers 3,973 hectares serving the 3 irrigation system (East and West of Aklan river and Panakuyan river). The agency is actively implementing training of accredited Farmer’s Irrigation Assn. officers/members in 2 modules preparatory to handling over management by stakeholders in 2012. Under the Plan, Irrigators Association will undertake the maintenance/repair of irrigation canals and farm ditches and collect irrigation fees. Obviously smooth transition especially on technical aspects will be enforced at initial stage of implementation. The Association shall be entitled to a fair share in the revenues.


Meanwhile, possible disruption of irrigation water services is foreseen in the next few months in irrigation tributaries of Estancia, Tigayon and Pook, Kalibo and Mantiguib, Makato since canals will be line with concrete. For Ibajay, rehabilitation on damaged section from Sta. Cruz to Solido, Nabas will be restored with a P25 million fund. Engr. Concepcion appealed to farmer stakeholders to cooperate fully with management by prompt settlement of their dues equivalent to 150 kgms dried palay per hectare.


It is gratifying that BAS reported a perceptible increase in fish catch by sustenance fishermen for the 1st and 2nd quarter of this year. Most likely the fish sanctuaries established through LGU and DA – BFAR collaboration is working positively and on the right track. A total of 783.5 hectares fish sanctuaries were set up over a ten year period and although a proverbial drop in the bucket has worked wonders. We need to expand this cost effective economic undertakings in our 10 coastal municipalities. So far leading contender is Tangalan with 375 hectares with additional sites in Baybay, Makato, and Navitas, Numancia.


DA Sec. Proceso Alcala hopes to achieve rice self sufficiency in 2013 by boosting production growth to 7.1 percent per year. Historical growth data however shows an average of 3.47 percent over the last 40 years. Apparently this could only be possible with extensive cultivation of hybrid rice as is being done in China and Japan. Hybrids have potential to increase yield by 25 to 50 percent over inbreds. Other limiting factor is predominance of rainfed areas and crippling effects of typhoon, flood, and pests/diseases. Moreover, aging population (average is 57) is much less receptive to change than when they are young adults. Consequently annual income is P27,000 way down below the poverty line.


Ironically Aklan has whistled down its much vaunted hybrid rice program. Certainly, this is a big letdown to the national goal of self sufficiency and curbing dependence on costly grain importations. Actually, without carry over inventory of imported and local rice stocks, our reserved rice supply of 142 days could be seriously imperiled.


Compounding the problem is prevailing shortage of meat and poultry products, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Subsidizing imports whether domestic or foreign when they can be grown locally is irrational, self defeating and unsustainable. Only possible implication is increase in price of basic food commodities that will exacerbate poverty and hunger of most vulnerable groups. UNDP studies indicate that food cost rises by 50 percent when purchased rather than being produced by farmers themselves.


Presently, 14 out of 17 towns are under 4 P’s, a program likened by Pres. Aquino to resuscitate a drowning victim. Evidently this is designed for those who have lost their sensibilities and well being. Rather than be grateful, those on the payroll of CCT’s must renounced their despondency, take a stand and regain lost dignity and self respect through hard work. It is high time that food must be available, affordable, and sustainable to all reflecting the sweet theme of UN World Food Day "From Crisis To Stability". /MP

DA 6 Fast Tracts Farm Mechanization Program


by James Earl E. Ogatis


The Department of Agriculture (DA) 6 encourages Local Government Units (LGUs) to fast tract their farm mechanization programs in their respective municipalities and provinces.


DA 6 Regional Executive Director Larry P. Nacionales said that under the Agri-Pinoy farm mechanization program, farmer-beneficiaries can now avail of on-farm machineries and rice mills under the 85 percent – 15 percent counter parting scheme wherein 85 percent will be shouldered by the Agri-Pinoy rice program and 15 percent will be the counterpart of the farmer-beneficiaries.


The reduction of the counterpart equity of the farmer-beneficiaries was decided after consistent feedback from the stakeholders on their inability to meet the 30 percent counterpart as earlier proposed, explained Dir. Nacionales.


Dir. Nacionales encourages the farmers association, cooperatives and irrigators associations to submit immediately their farm mechanization project proposals and come up with their respective counterpart in coordination with their respective LGUs in order to avail of the program.


Mr. Manuel O. Olanday, regional rice program focal person clarifies that the 85 percent – 15 percent scheme applies between DA 6 and LGU proponent res-pectively. Thus, FAs, Cooperatives and IAs will directly coordinate with the local agriculture office for this farm mechanization program.


DA 6 has a total proposed budget of P61.7 million for Western Visayas intended for the purchase of 200 units of hand tractor, nine units of 4-wheel tractor, 69 units of thresher, 10 units of rice combine harvester, 17 units of rice transplanter and 6 units of rice drum seeder.


Under this scheme, a proponent can avail of a hand tractor and thresher with a Php19,500 equity/unit; 4-wheel Tractor for an equity of P135,000.00/unit; rice combine harvester for an equity of P300,000/unit and rice transplanter for an equity of P45,000/unit. Rice drum seeder will be given as grant with an allocation of one unit per province.


Requirements to avail of the program include Duly Approved Project Proposal, Resolution Authorizing the Local Chief Executive to enter into MOA with DA, Resolution that the LGU will provide an equity equivalent to 15 percent of the total estimated cost of the facilities, Memorandum of Agreement, Compliance of COA Cir. 96-010, Deed of Donation/Usufruct or Certification if the lot is owned by the govern-ment and Authority from DA Secretary authorizing the RED to enter MOA (if the amount is above P5M).


Interested LGUs and farmers organization may coordinate with their respective local agriculture offices for details of the program. (JEEO/RAFID 6) /MP

Philippines Sees Outsourcing Boom


The Philippines outsourcing industry will grow strongly over the next five years despite global economic concerns and threats to its call centre sector, industry officials said Tuesday.


The industry is expecting to continue its rise from nothing 10 years ago to currently the world’s number-two player behind India with 600,000 workers, said Alfredo Ayala, Business Processing Association of the Philippines chief.


"It may slow down, but it’s still going to be double-digit growth," Ayala told outsourcing conference in Manila.


Blessed with an English-speaking work force, the industry expects outsourcing revenues to rise at least 15 percent each year to $20 billion by 2016, when it would employ 900,000 workers, Ayala said.


He said the Philippines now accounted for 6-7 percent of the global market for all outsourced business services, second only to India’s 51 percent share.


Business outsourcing covers a wide range of services, from call centres to accounting, legal work, health care, and information technology.


In the call sector centre alone, the Philippines last year overtook India to have the world’s biggest industry in terms of revenues and workers, largely on the back of catering to the United States and other English-speaking countries.


Foreign experts told the conference call-centre jobs would eventually decline with computer software replacing humans in such things as attending to customer complaints over merchandise.


Gillian Joyce Virata, senior executive director for the business processing association, said call centres still account for about 65 percent of the overall outsourcing business in the Philippines and the industry is preparing for the changes.


"The trend will continue for non-voice (roles) to grow at a faster rate. Back office, health care, creative services, and information technology are becoming quite attractive here," she said.


Trade Sec. Gregory Domingo told the conference that the outsourcing sector is now one of the country’s economic pillars.


He said the industry’s 2011 revenue target of 11 billion dollars would be equivalent to about 5.0 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.


"The contribution of this industry cannot be overstated. It’s really a big help. It has provided a very big support to the economic environment of the Philippines in the past decade," Domingo said. /MP

Cleopatra May Offer ‘Call Girls’ Decent Pay


by ALEX P. Vidal


A coffeeshop in front of SM Delgado in the City Proper in Iloilo City has become the most favorite meeting place of "call girls" and their male clients (the most frequent and prominent customer is known as "Maw Tsetung," a bemoustached Chinese trader in his 60’s. He owns shops in the Mary Mart Mall. He hires two girls simultaneously like a chess player for an overnight tournament).


Most of these "pink" ladies are high school and college students and don’t have regular pap smear tests as required for those working in prostitution houses in Rizal Estanzuela, Timawa, Calumpang, Baluarte, Jaro, among other notorious "red barangays" in the metropolis. They have no pimps and their services are hired directly and openly like commodities sold in "tiangge" or kiosk.


If the city task force against anti-pornography, prostitution and lewd shows is really bent on clamping down on these illegal transactions, all it has to do is visit those places from one o’clock in the afternoon until 10 o’clock in the evening. Even malnourished-looking girls approach lolo "Maw Tsetung" for "tuition" and "text load."


QUEEN


Going back to the year 41 B.C., let’s look in on Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. This was a few years after the assassination of Julius Caesar. A civil war followed between Caesar’s killers, Brutus and Cassius, and Caesar’s avengers, Octavius and Mark Antony. 


The few independent kingdoms left in the world were in a bad fix. They were always in a bad fix when civil war broke out in Rome. They weren’t interested in either side. In fact, they would have loved to see both sides destroy each other, but they could not remain neutral. They had to pick one side and hope to high heaven that they had guessed right.


Now in this civil war after Caesar’s assassination, they all guessed wrong. This was understandable. Octavius (who later became Emperor Augustus) was a young boy, hardly more than 17 years old, and Antony, the handsomest man in Rome, spent most of their time with dancing girls and having one big time for himself.


Therefore, everybody picked Brutus and Cassius, two experienced generals and particularly sober men, temperate in all things except in the study of politics and philosophy. How could they miss? But they did miss! Young Octavius and Mark (wine-women-and-songs) Antony beat their brains out. Now for the payoff, Octavius and Antony divided the world with a third party who did not count for much.


COLLECTION


Antony took the East, and the first thing he did was start on a collection tour. Collecting fines and taxes from these independent states and kingdoms that had picked the losers. He was doing fine, real fine. Antony showed an amazing understanding of world politics. He assessed the people over a long term—so much a year, instead of crippling their economy and productivity with a huge lump-sum fine.


His next stop was Cleopatra. She, too, had sent some assistance to help Brutus and Cassius, figuring that she was on the winning side. Antony pulled up at the city of Tarsus, and sent word to the Queen of Egypt to present herself to him so that he might pass judgment.


Cleopatra came, but on her own time. While Antony sat on the throne in the Forum of Tarsus waiting for Cleopatra to plead her case and be judged, she was sailing up the River Cydnus, "in a barge with purple sails, gilded stern, and silver oars to beat time to the music of flutes and fifes and harps. Her maids, dressed as sea nymphs, were the crew, while she herself, dressed as Venus, lay under a canopy of cloth gold." (Will Durant, "Caesar and Christ").


SUNDAY


When news of this barge reached the people of Tarsus, they all came out in their Sunday best, lined both  banks of the river to watch the wondrous sight. Pretty soon Antony was sitting in the Forum all alone. His now regiment of Roman legionnaires were at the riverbank. There was nothing left for Antony to do but to follow the crowd, and, as the barge was fastened to the pier, the crowds made way for Mark Antony.

He began by reproving her for being late, and ordered her to come to the Forum. Cleopatra, in sweet tones, suggested that they could get their business done in more pleasant surroundings on her barge. Antony’s arms being twisted, he went aboard and stayed the night. 


The next morning, he gave Cleopatra Phoenicia, Syria, the Island of Cyprus, half of Arabia, Cilicia, and all of Judea. "Call girl" Cleopatra would have given those Iloilo coffeeshop "call girls" more than what "Maw Tsetung" is giving them if they were recruited as Cleopatra’s maids. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda


Ni Tita Linda Belayro


Matam-is Nga Kamatayon


Isaeang ka pobreng binatilyo si Lauro. Una imaw naga estar sa eanas. Mahugod imaw magpananum ag mag alila it mga pispis. Guina butang nana sa hawla ro mga pispis agod indi makaun it mga sapat.


Isaeang adlaw, nagbisita si Lauro sa baeay ko anang guina pangasawa. Magkaeapit manlang sanda. Hakita nana nga dagaya ro mga may handum ag naga hueat ko andang oras sa pagbaton kanda agod makahambae ro daeaga. Kat oras eon ni Lauro, ga-oy eong gid ro daeaga. Dugang pa hay guina duyog eon imaw.


Owa it eabot kara, maeamig man ro pagbaton kana it daeaga tongod bukon imaw it gwapo ag pigado pa ro anang pangabuhi. Busa, agod indi eon magbalik ro binata, si Lauro, guin hambaean imaw nga kon makadaea imaw it bueak nga may pugtak nga puea hay batunon imaw. Maeoya nga nag uli si Lauro. Siin imaw ma bo-oe it rayang klaseng bueak?


Sa anang pag-uli, pag abot sa anda, hakita imaw ko anang hayupang pispis nga masinueob-on. Sayod sanda nga mga kapispisan ko anang guina batyag nga kasubo. Ro guin obra ko anang pispis hay guin tinuka ro higot it hawla agod maka guwa. Tag nakaguwa, nag eopad ro pispis ag nag inusoy ko bueak nga puti ag may pugtak nga puea. Ogaling sa anang pag inusoy, owa guid ro pispis it hakita nga bueak nga may pugtak nga puea, kundi puro puti.


Sa owa magbuhay, naka paino-ino ro pispis it paagi. Bu-ot nana nga makabaeos sa anang among mabuot. Eompad imaw it matayog ag pumaidaeum nga binunggo ro anang dughan sa mataeawis nga bato.


Tungod sa pagkanina, umilig ro dugo ag tumama sa mga bueak nga puti. Nagka pugtak-pugtak ratong bueak. Busa, anang guin angkit agod daehon kay Lauro. Pag-abot sa baeay, namatay ro pispis. Duro ro kasubo ni Lauro sa pagkakita sa anang hayupan. Isaeang ka matam-is nga kamatayon ro guin pakita ko pispis ko mga oras ngaron. Maskin ro tuyo it pispis hay buligan ra anang agaeon agod makakita it puting bueak nga may pugtak nga puea. Owa nana pagdaeha ro bueak kundi guin tanum agod magtubo para magserbi nga handumanan sa pispis. /MP

Chiz: Lift Ceasefire In Basilan


The government should suspend the ceasefire agreement enforced in certain areas in Mindanao, specifically Basilan, following the series of attacks against government troops by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) early this week, Senator Chiz Escudero said.


While agreeing that peace negotiations should continue, Escudero said the Basilan offensive should be taken up as a distinct and separate issue considering the cunning way the MILF has waylaid the Army’s Special Forces last Tuesday that killed 19 soldiers.


"Yes, talks should continue, but I was hoping that it is conditioned upon the surrender of those responsible for the Basilan massacre and ceasefire is lifted in that area to give our troops a level playing field in hunting down those responsible for the bloodbath," Escudero explained.


The senator, who earlier expressed indignation over how government troops were slaughtered by the MILF in an encounter, also expressed displeasure over how our peace negotiators are handling the situation.


"The approach of the OPPAP to the entire peace process is erroneous and misguided. Our soldiers are literally made like sitting ducks in a carnival waiting to be plucked and aimed at by those rogue criminals one by one," Escudero said.


Escudero challenged Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles and government chief peace negotiator Marvic Leonen to take a stronger position on the Basilan incident and the subsequent Zamboanga attacks with their counterparts.


"They cannot continue with a business as usual stance once they meet with their counterparts next month and desperately pretend there is nothing wrong along the way," added Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.


He said the peace panel should reevaluate the situation and the direction surrounding the peace talks before taking any concrete steps.


"They should ask their counterparts why things are not going right, those offensives were trickeries, the rebels know they can swoop down on our troops and then cowardly hide behind the cloak of peace process while we watch helplessly how our soldiers’ lives are bartered away only because their hands are tied by the peace negotiations," Escudero said. /MP

Two Soldiers Dead In New Guerrilla Attack


Two Philippine soldiers were killed Thursday in a fresh Muslim guerrilla attack on a southern island following the killing of 19 soldiers earlier this week, the army said.


Two army trucks in a convoy were ambushed by suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) men along a road on the island of Mindanao, said an army report to the regional military headquarters.


Two soldiers were killed and four others were wounded in the ambush near the town of Alicia, and 12 men in the convoy are missing, the report said.


The attack came two days after MILF forces killed 19 soldiers on the remote southern island of Basilan in one of the worst outbreaks of violence between the two sides in years.


MILF spokesmen could not be reached for comment late Thursday.


The fresh fighting has further complicated efforts to end one of Asia’s longest insurgencies, with the MILF and the military trading accusations of breaking a ceasefire in place to promote peace talks.


The 12,000-strong MILF has waged a rebellion since the 1970s for an independent Islamic state or autonomous-rule in the southern third of the mainly Catholic Philippines.


The rebellion has left about 150,000 people dead, with most of the deaths occurring in the 1970s when an all-out war raged.


Although the two sides signed a truce in 2003 that paved the way for peace talks, the ceasefire is frequently marred by clashes across the vast southern Mindanao region that Muslims claim as their ancestral homeland. /MP

Thursday, October 20, 2011

EDITORIAL


Hard Struggle for Education


by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM


On the basis of educational performance, the Philippines ranks at the bottom of 10 Asian countries. Hence, the Aquino administration responded with a K+12 strategy. This is the gist of the subject matter discussed by DepEd officials at the Kapihan on October 15, 2011 at Smokehauz Resto & Bar. The guests are Dr. Jesse M. Gomez, OIC Schools Div. Supt and Mr. Radne B. Jomuad, Asst. Schools Div. Supt. for Elementary Education of Aklan.


Dr. Gomez, outstanding Aklanon 2011 assumed his post at DepEd barely two weeks ago after serving as City Schools Div. Supt. of Roxs City. He composed the Aklan Hymn and Aklan March later adopted and legislated to be sung during social and official functions.


Our policy is basically strenghtening the educational system to address the challenge poised by the need to produce quality graduates for a developing economy, loyal and faithful to the country. Yet budget shortfalls impedes. Presently, we have 19 school districts (1 per municipality, 2 each for Kalibo and Ibajay), 320 public elem. schools and 72 public high schools. At administrative level, there are two asst. schools div. supt., 9 educational supervisors and 17 district supervisors. Population and budget-wise, DepEd is the biggest national line agency, Dr. Gomez admitted.


Our roadmap is a return to the 3R’s with emphasis on policy implementation, "no read, no compute, no move." This is a reversal of continuous progression practiced and abused before. Gomez is very particular about school dropouts, absences and slow learners. These cases cropped up because of overcrowded classrooms having teacher-pupil ratio of 1:40-50. In some cases, this goes up to 90 per teacher as in Boracay and other highly urbanized areas. Double sessions is probably implemented to overcome the problem but expressed reservation that pupils may be unduly exposed to criminal elements since second shift occurs in the evening. We prioritize construction of more school buildings with ideal classroom size of 30–35 pupils, vertically set up due to constraints of space, Dr. Gomez stressed.


Mr. Radne Jomuad revealed, DepEd offers the best opportunity for qualified teachers with a starting salary of P19,000/month. However, applicants must be committed, persevering and possess a great love for children. Licensure exam for teachers are conducted twice a year. Fresh graduates may apply as volunteer teachers in day care centers to provide pre-education to kids. The Localization Law plus experience on the job could work positively for the applicants.


School dropouts in 2010 both in secondary and elementary levels were reduced from 5.3 to 4.74 percent, and from 2.1 to 1.52 percent respectively compared to the 2009 data.


Atty. Allen S. Quimpo remarked that issue and concerns on education could not be discussed in just one setting. A better approach is a com-prehensive study of the problems and propose solution based on short, medium, and long terms education program. Rationale is the dwindling quality of our graduates based on communication and technical skills, low passing averages on licensure exams and pathetic showing in international academic competitions.


According to Jomuad, children want to finish their education but are sometimes prevented from doing so because they want to help their parents. This is due to poverty that requires kids to help in various farm or home chores. The conditional Cash Transfer program of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III cannot solve poverty as the amount of P1,250 per month per family could only be good for a sack of rice.


Congested and humid classrooms seem to be conveniently solved by school integration. This does not solve the problem but exacerbates it. Open spaces originally designed for sports, scouting, playground demonstration and vegetable gardening are fast disappearing from our public and private schools. Ironically, DepEd does not have a budget for land acqusition but authorizes excessive spending on school buildings.


On record is the P600,000 outlay for constructing one classroom by DPWH or private contractors where structural standards, functions, and aesthetics are ignored. It should be underscored that the above amount could finance construction of a modern school building with 3 classrooms done in partnership with the community and technical support by LGU’s. Best show window is the Baptist Student Center in Bulwang, Numancia.


The rationale for implementation of K+12 this year is to prepare our graduates for global labor competition and productivity. This is a 6 year elementary education, 4 years junior high and 2 years senior high school. In all likehood this will decongest existing curriculum and graduate students as 18 years fit and ready for employment said Mr. Jomuad. However, the only pitful is that students may forego to get a college degree since they are more or less academically prepared and gainfully employed. Until now, this scenario is being worked out by college and university officials to counter a possible depletion in enrolment for college freshmen in 2015.


Education in this country is cherished by young and old alike. Availment by the youth for better life and future is enshrined in our Constitution. However, there are certain aspects in the socio–economic structure that prevent its full enjoyment and privilege. Virtual access is hindered by poverty, failing health, distance and rough terrain, and shortage of classrooms. For the poor who comprises roughly half the population of Aklan, taking the 12 years curriculum can be an uphill struggle indeed but the fruits thereof is sweet. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer


Ambrosio R. Villorente


High Class Milkfish


Some fish consumers have asked me to share with them my idea how to choose a good quality bangus (milkfish) available in the market. I generously gave them the limited information I have on milkfish.


To my readers who may have the same question, I like to give you a few tips in selecting milkfish (bangus) for your dining table.


First, smell the fish. Open its snout. When it has objectionable smell, the fish is not fasted and therefore the intestine is filled with feed which reduces its quality. Do you like to eat malodorous food?


This kind of fish may have been raised in landlocked fish farm like in the lakes. Milkfish requires rigid water management, but it is not possible to institute water management in the lake because it has neither entrance for clean water nor exit for polluted water. Only rain water drops on the lake and water decreases by evaporation and percolation only.


Since natural feed like plankton cannot be produced in the lake, the fishpen operator feeds the fish with manufactured feed. Fish grown on this manner is saturated with antibiotics and other chemicals. To grow natural fish feed, the water depth must allow sunlight to penetrate in the water.


Second, in case the fish is raised in the fishpond, just see the gills. When the gills are filled up with mud, the fish was harvested by total draining of the fishpond. The milkfish dies in the mud.


Third, examine the body of the milkfish. When 1/3 or more of the scales of the fish are removed, there was fish struggle which adversely affects its taste. This kind of fish maybe a stolen fish.


Finally, it maybe best to examine the intestine of the milkfish. When the intestine is empty of feed and clean, this indicates proper method of harvesting using the catching pond and allowing the fish to die in ice water. This will make the fish vomit its blood. Hence, freshness of fish is extended.


BLACK OUT


In behalf of the Fernandez – Villorente family, I apologize for the absence of light during the celebration of the "First Year Journey To Heaven" of their beloved Dr. Florencia F. Villorente on Saturday afternoon, October 15 in Badio, Numancia, Aklan.
It was about 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon while Rev. Father Josue Escalona was celebrating the Holy Mass in the Badio Chapel when light went black. When the Holy Mass ended, it was still black out. The dinner party continued in the Villorente residence in Badio. It was a candle light party.


But "though we walked in the valley of darkness, we feared no evil for God was with us".


To our guests, we sincerely beg for your forgiveness for the inconvenience experienced. It was our fault, we did not realize our electricity supplier in Aklan is not reliable.


Next time, if ever there is gathering at home, I must have a back up lighting equipment like electric generator, flashlights and gas lamps. In case electricity supplier fails, that often happens, there is alternative source of light.

To those who attended the affair, please accept our sincere "Thank You".


WHO TELLS TRUTH


In the Aklan Provincial Capitol, there is now a big problem regarding the officials and employees relative to the defaulted loan repayments to the LBP. Listening to the exchanges of words during the 35th SP regular session between the Provincial Accountant and the Provincial Treasurer, I believe someone is telling lies. /MP

Progressive But Deadly

A banana buyer weighs a box full of Lakatan bananas while growers watch the process. This is in Arakan, North Cotobato, the place where Father Fausto Tentorio, Italian parish priest was gunned down due to still unknown reasons. Arakan is fast becoming the agri business center but it is also becoming deadly in Central Mindanao.(Pinoy Gonzales photo, PNS)





Photo shows women washing Cavendish bananas being readied for export to the Middle East from this mountainous Arakan town. Arakan is becoming the center for agribusiness in Central Mindanao, but this is the place where Father Fausto Tentorio, the Italian parish priest of this town was gunned down this week for unknown reason.

Tagle Is Manila’s New Catholic Archbishop


Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle for the post held by outgoing official Arch. Gaudencio Rosales for eight years.


Tagle’s appointment was formalized Thursday, October 13 in a letter from a Vatican official, according to the news service of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.


"I write to inform you that the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has appointed His Excellency Most Reverend Luis Antonio Tagle, until now Bishop of Imus, as Archbishop of Manila," said Monsignor Gabor Pinter, Charge D’ Affaires.


Rosales, 79 years old, should have retired from his post in 2007, when he reached 75, the mandatory retirment age for prelates.


Manila-born Tagle was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 25 years with majors in Philosophy and Theology at the Ateneo De Manila University’s San Jose Major Seminary.


He also flew to the U.S. for further studies in 1985-1992, and purused a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.


Tagle is a member of the International Theological Commission of the Vatican.

Art Exhibit In October



The Cupang-Ugsod Out-of-School-Youth will hold art exhibits on Friday, October 21, 2011, 9:00 o’clock in the morning. The venue is the Banga Municipal Plaza. The exhibits will feature different kinds of interpretation of the artists with regards to the Banga Crossing Massacre in memories of every Banganhon who suffered and died in the hands of Japanese soldiers.


This will include the finished artworks and commercial designs of the talented artists from barangays.


Ugsod and Cupang, Banga guests of honors are: Miss Vicky Meñez Ramos-Antonino, Mrs. Erlinda Mangilog-Maming, Barangay Captains Rosemary A. Adorna, and Mamerto D. Romaquin.


Picture above shows the upcoming artists, they are Amrey Bontogon; Ana May De la Cruz; Jhiner De la Cruz; Arnel Flaviano; Jonel Flaviano; Rolly Grantos; Christine Jane Guarino; Catherine Guarino; Eugine Quime; Arjay Ramos; Shera Joy Relojo; Benjie Relojo; Dolan Remaldora; Jomarie Rentino; Jorald Rentino; Lym Rentino; Sheena Mae Rentino; Jomarie Reteo; Ralphi Francis Kieth Reynado; Nelmer Jude Robles; Riza Mae Robles; Jyle Rivera; Mary Joy Santiago; Belna Seraspi; Shara Mae Teodosio; and Roger Villanueva. /MP

DepEd Gets Biggest Budget For 2012


The Department of Education (DepEd) got the biggest proposed budget allocation for 2012 among government agencies.


Sen. Franklin Drilon, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Sunday, October 16 that the committee has wrapped up deliberations on the individual budgets of agencies and is on-track in approving the proposed P1.816 trillion budget for 2012.


Of the proposed budget, P238.8 billion will go to DepEd, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with P125.5 billion and the Department of National Defense with P107.9 billion.


Plenary debates on the 2012 budget is scheduled on November 22, which may lead to the simultaneous approval on second and third readings in the Senate, said Drilon.
Although education accounts for a major bulk of the national budget for year 2012, several groups have repeatedly staged protests asking Congress to increase the budget of state universities and colleges (SUC).


During the Senate finance committee hearing on the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) proposed budget, CHED said it is already negotiating with the Department of Budget and Management to increase the P26 billion budget for the 110 SUCs in the country.


Higher Budget


Sen. Drilon said the proposed outlay for 2012 is 10.4 percent higher than the 2011’s outlay of P1.645 trillion. Next year’s budget represents 16.5 percent of gross domestic product, or the value of goods and services produced by an economy in a given period.


"We will diligently work for the passage of the budget so that by January 1, we will have an approved national budget for 2012," Senator Drilon said.


He also assured the passage of the government’s spending plan before lawmakers go on a holiday break in December.


Based on the departmental allocations, the Department of Interior and Local Government will get P49.4 billion; Department of Agriculture, P54 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P49.4 billion; Department of Health, P44.4 billion; Department of Transportation and Communications, P34.6 billion; Department of Agrarian Reform, P18.3 billion; and the Judiciary, P15.7 billion. /MP

‘Church Authorities Torture Me’


by ALEX P. Vidal


An Irish national now suffering from permanent disability in the back after allegedly being tortured by Catholic priests in Ireland, wants to bring his case in the European Court anew "where justice is fair."


Tom Toyle, 75, now living in Calumpang, Molo, Iloilo City with his wife, Sally, of Batad, Iloilo, and three-year old daughter, Mary Jane, is asking for more damages from his tormentors in Artane, Dublin.


Limping and walking with a cane, Toyle admitted he had been awarded by the European Court with 60,000 Euros or about P2.5 million when he sued his former institution (and won) in Artane where the alleged torture happened. He was 10 to 11 years old at the time of the incident.


He said the money "was not enough" for a life-long damage to his body. Toyle claimed he suffered fractured bones in the vertebrate "and this will be a lifetime injury that no amount of money can compensate."


HOCKEY STICK


"My life was never the same again. They hit my back with hockey stick (as a form of punishment)," Toyle, who is now on his third marriage, revealed. "I collapsed several times."


He described the atmosphere in the Jesuit-controlled learning institution in Artane as "hellish" saying he suffered from "sadistic mentors" for five years.


"They required us to attend the church rituals twice a day — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If we failed, we got whacked by hockey stick and other blunt objects in the different parts of the body. They were ruthless and abusive," Toyle sobbed, referring to their priest administrators.


Every now and then, his back pain has been recurring and is ex-cruciating, he said. Toyle had been in and out of the hospital and his retirement benefits have been eaten up by his medical bills, he said.


He decided to seek justice in the European Court "because there is no justice in Ireland; the government is involved."


VICTIMS


He estimated that there are about 14,000 other alleged victims of abuses by Catholic authorities in Dublin alone. Most of the cases, he said, are sexual abuse and maltreatment.


Toyle said his tormentors had committed sexual abuse on him when they removed his dress and whipped him. "Their act of removing my dress already constituted sexual abuse," he stressed. "That’s the law in Ireland."


Toyle worked as chef and dietician at St. Vincent Hospital in Sydney, Australia for 15 years. He also had a brief stint as civilian personnel during the Vietnam War.


He said he disliked his father, Thomas, who had served in the British and Irish army. Toyle grew up with his three brothers when their mother died at 31 in 1946.


"I don’t like him (Thomas). He didn’t do anything (to protect and give me justice) because he drank booze with the priests," Toyle bewailed.


MARRIAGE


Toyle’s first marriage with an English woman collapsed "because she was a heavy drinker." His second wife, a Filipina he met during a visit in Manila, "took all my money and mismanaged our supermarket business."


Sally was "referred" to Tolye by a friend in Manila. They have been married for eight years and have put up a printing business. "Even though I am not educated, I’m a businessman," he quipped.


Because of his bad memories in Artane, Toyle said his views about faith and religion have changed.


"I believe in God, but I don’t believe in the Roman Catholic Church because they don’t teach you religion," Toyle boomed, "but I don’t stop my wife (a devout Catholic) and kid from going to church." 


Authorities in Artane could not be reached for comment. /MP  

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda


Nagtamod Eamang Kami


Sangka unga it mangunguma si Santoy. Tapos eon ro tig aeani ag naka tubas eon man sanda. Bu-ot eon ni Santoy nga magpasimpaead agod usoyon ro anang mayad–ayad nga swerte. Nag eaong imaw sa anda ag guin sugtan man imaw ko anang ama. Nagpanaw imaw nga may baeong it sangkiri nga pagkaon ag kwarta.


Pag-abot nana sa may sapa-sapa, hakita nana nga namaehan sa binit ro tatlong ka isda. Nag eusob imaw ag guin butang nana sa madaeum nga tubi. Nagpadayon imaw sa anang pagpanaw. Samtang naga tikang imaw sa may pilapil, may hakita imaw nga totognon it pispis nga nahueog sa andang pugad. Ana man nga guin dakop ro totognon, sumaka imaw sa puno agod ibalik sa pugad ratong totognon it pispis. Guin gaoy eon imaw it tinikang. Busa, nagpahuway anay imaw sa puno it mangga. Tag naga pahuway-huway si Santoy, may habatian imaw nga mga reklamo it tagasaw.


"Kabay nga indi eon pag inagyan it mga tawo ro atong guina estaran. Abo eot-a nga samad sa atong mga pamaeay", hambae it pinaka puno it tagasaw. Insigida, guin abangan nana ro daean agod malikaw ro mga tawo sa pihak. Nagpasaeamat ro mga tagasaw. Nag-padayon si Santoy hasta nakaabot sa banwa. Hakita nana ro paskel sa sangka haligi it elektrisidad nga sangka pahisayod it hari.


Naga usoy it asawa ro prinsesa kon may eaeaki nga maka-obra sa sugo it hari". Tongod aresgado si Santoy, nag adto imaw sa palasyo ag nagpresentar. Guin baton imaw ag ro unang sugo hay usuyon ro singsing it prinsesa nga guin haboy sa dagat. Kinahangean nga makita ro singsing parabil matunod ro adlaw.


Samtang naga pungko imaw sa baybayon, ag naga paeoso-eoso kon ano ro himu-on agod makita ro sing-sing, may hakita imaw nga tatlong ka isda nga may tus-on nga singsing. Ha bo-oe ag guin daea nana ro singsing sa hari. Guin baton it prinsesa ro sing-sing. May pangaywang sugo nga ibutang tanan ro paeay nga guin bu-bo sa tunga it kabatuhan. Dapat man matapos ra parabil matunod ro adlaw. Samtang naga tindog imaw, naga paino-ino kon ano ro himu-on, may nag-aeabot nga mga tagasaw. Sanda ro nag obra ko pangaywa nga sugo.


Owa matapos sa daywang ka sugo. Ro pangatlo hay parabil imaw pakaslan it prinsesa, kinahangean nga makabo-oe it prutas it kabuhi sa ika pitong bukid. Rondaya ro pinaka malisod sa tanan nga sugo ogaling owa guihapon imaw naduea-i it pag-eaum. Maangan-angan, may habatian imaw nga pagaspas it pakpak. Hakita nana ro isaeang ka pispis nga may guina angkit nga prutas it kabuhi. Naghambae ro pispis. "Nagtamod eamang kami tongod imo kaming guin buligan kato", hambae it pispis.


Guin kasae si Santoy ag ro prinsesa. Pagkatapos it kasae, nagpangabuhi sanda it malipayon. /MP

Institutionalizing Search And Rescue Forces


There is a need for the Philippines government to institutionalize its search and rescue forces to mitigate the damages brought about by natural calamities, Senator Chiz Escudero suggested.


Senate Escudero filed Resolution Number 575 (PSN 575) as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. He asked fellow senators to look into the government’s search and rescue capability and to clearly define the policy to enhance and strengthen disaster preparedness effort of the state. It also seeks to provide a magna carta for rescue workers and improve the provisions of Republic Act No. 10121.


"We urgently need to systematically develop our human, technical and equipment capacity and resources to adequately respond to natural and man-made disasters. Recent disasters like typhoons Pepeng and Ondoy left thousands dead and homeless and showed the vulnerabilities and limited capacities of our rescue units and workers," Escudero explained.


The senator said the lack of defined policies and valuable resources stretched the capacity of the government to the limit to respond to such life-threatening calamities.


"We need a working and institutionalized mechanism that will enhance the rescue capability and performance of our rescue workers. We should be able to develop a rescue force we can mobilize anytime without the fear of exceeding their own rescue capabilities," Escudero added.


After the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, the Philippines offered to send assistance to those countries by sending urban and search rescue team. However, it was not admitted and deployed since it was not accredited by the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

"As a country, which is unfortunately frequented by natural calamities many times over in a year, we should already build, establish and continuously strengthen the capacity of our rescue forces so we can easily mobilize forces to avoid loss of lives and properties," Escudero said. /MP

PAL Workers Say No To Separation Package


by Florence F. Hibionada/PNS


Thanks but no thanks. This sums up the latest sentiments of Philippine Airlines (PAL) ground personnel who were offered a hefty separation package by the PAL management.


With the continuing labor saga, it is costing PAL millions in unrealized revenues, PAL Employees Association (PALEA) remains defiant. They rejected anew the management hefty separation package offer.


To note, posts of some 2,600 PALEA members have been affected by Malacañang-backed PAL outsourcing.


"PAL separation benefit and gratuity pay for retrenched workers are out for the taking," PALEA in a latest press advisory went. "But defiant members of PALEA cannot be lured over by a price tag that holds back their right to live a life of dignity."

The bottom line, the group maintained, is regular jobs with PALEA president Gerry Rivera saying "We rejected the outsourcing plan because we value our dignity as regular workers. We lose it and we lose everything."


And rightly so too, Rivera stressed as he hit PAL management’s separation package as "bereft of any good intention since the offer was in exchange for a grand surrender of everything a regular employee have had in his/her 20 or 30 years of service in PAL."


Such as PALEA expressed optimism in eventually winning the labor battle inspired by what the group declared "growing local and international supports…"
 

Through the Court or through the streets, PALEA believes victory is for the workers.
 

Latest PALEA protest saw the support of Bishop Broderick Pabillo who heads the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines–National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) and co-chair of the Church-Labor Conference (CLC).  

"The Church has been very supportive of PALEA’s struggle against contractualization.  Last October 8, during the 3rd Anniversary of CLC, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales assured PALEA and all the suffering workers of the Church’s unequivocal support," PALEA said.
 

Dubbed "spin-off," the outsourcing had PAL management design a "Transition Benefits Package" to affected employees. The move has since been justified by PAL due to what it admitted as "deteriorating financial condition."

"PAL is then constrained to undertake extraordinary measures – while keeping in step with a rapidly changing industry landscape – to ensure the Company’s survival and enhance PAL’s efficiency and competitiveness," PAL management in the accompanying explanation in its package primer said.


"Employees who will not join the service providers will not be provided with the guaranteed one-year payment of salary cited…as well as the extended medical and hospitalization benefits in the transition package," the company said.

On top of the rehire by service providers, each affected employee will also get a separation pay of 125 percent monthly basic salary for every year of service. There is also a P100,000 gratuity pay to be paid on the last working day of the employee or earlier.

Vacation leave and sick leave balances that are 100 percent commutable to cash will also be granted regardless of years of service.


Travel benefits for separated employee and his qualified dependents are also included with medical and hospital entitlements extended for one year from separation from PAL. 

In Iloilo, PAL operations has since been significantly affected with only one turn-around flight now from the previous four flights daily. Normalcy is expected though starting October 28. And this, with at least P1.5 million in lost revenues here brought by the first three days of work stoppage alone by participating PALEA members.


Iloilo PALEA workers remained in posts though with the group not affected by the outsourcing move. /MP

11 Chinese & 4 Filipino Passengers Survive Vehicular Accident


The 15 passengers of Island Star Express Tourist Bus sustained minor injuries and survived vehicular accident at Barangay Habana, Nabas, Aklan. After the accident, they were immediately brought to Caticlan Baptist and Ibajay District hospitals by responding PNP officers and residents of Brgy. Habana.


Of the 15 victims, 11 are Chinese nationals who are identified as; Jin Yan Wang, 35; Lingna Cao, 52; Hui Qin Sun, 54; Yue Hue Zhu, 54; Sheng Long Song, 38; Ying Ying Sheu, 38; Qin Qin, 39; Limin Lian, 42; Min Fang, 30; Ping Chen, 52; Jin Mei Chen, 68. The four Filipino passengers are Zaldy Panagsagan, 31; Jeffrey Wongli y Atuel, 31, photographer; Mechelou Badere y Carina, photographer; and Freitzie Flores, tour guide.


Based on the initial investigation of Nabas Police, the incident transpired at Brgy Habana, Nabas, Aklan in the morning of October 14, 2011 wherein Island Star Express Tourist Bus was accidentally bumped by a dump truck. The tourist bus is registered under the name of Island Star Express Inc. with Certificate of Registration No. 4210677- 2. It was loaded with 41 passengers, driven by Zaldy Panagsagan y Rivera, 32 years, married, driver with Professional Driver’s license. The Dump Truck is registered with Certificate of Registration No. 11631011-0 in the name of Emie R Alag. It was driven by Edwin Ramis Jr y Lurimas, 25 years old, Filipino, married and with Professional Driver’s license.


While the Island Express Tourist Bus was traversing towards Caticlan, Malay, Aklan and upon passing the hilly portion of said place, the dump truck accidentally bump that resulted to the damages of both vehicles. It injured 15 passengers of the said tourist bus.


All passengers who sustained minor injuries were brought to Baptist Hospital in Caticlan, Malay, and to Ibajay District Hospital in Ibajay, Aklan for further medical assistance. Afterwhich, all the victims were transferred to Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital, Kalibo, Aklan. The Dump Truck and its driver were placed under the custody of Nabas police station for proper disposition. /MP

Will 4P’s Save The Poorest?


by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM


"To break the interdisciplinary poverty cycle that cripples the human spirit could be achieved through generous investment in human capital", said DSWD Western Visayas Reg’l Director Minda B. Brigoli in a presscon held on Tuesday, October 18. The backbone of this social alleviation strategy is Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s). This is a Conditional Cash Transfer being given to 23,322 household beneficiaries in 14 towns of Aklan at a total sum of P121,647,300. It started in 2009, it is due to expire in 2013.


The 4P’s is designed to effect poverty reduction among targeted families to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly children aged 0-14 years. A household of three (3) children receives subsidy of P1,400/month during the school year or P15,000 annually as long as they comply with the stipulated condition. In Aklan, early recipient towns are Libacao and Madalag which started in 2009, Balete and Banga in 2010 and another 10 towns in 2011.


Aklan is gripped by high poverty incidence of 38.1 percent in 2009, the most unusual in Western Visayas despite its vibrant tourism industry. Preliminary assessment by World Bank officials as to target accomplishment reported 86 percent successful for health and 99 percent for education. Phenomenal result was on reduction of prevalence of mal-nutrition from 3 to 1.28 percent in Libacao. Aklan has 430 Day Care Centers with 11,303 preschoolers enrolled, reported Ms. Elma Malbas, Provincial Social Welfare Officer.


In a concerted battle, Gov. Carlito S. Marquez has replicated the 4P’s launched on October 6, 2011 that benefits 25 kids at Kalibo Elem. School. Each child is allotted P300/month plus school supplies and uniform.


Other converging programs of DSWD are: a) SEA-Kaunlaran that provides livelihood and capability building program for 675 benefi-ciaries totaling P3.35 million, b) Supplemental feeding – 11,593 beneficia-ries with P18.69 million, c) Social Pension – 1,017 beneficiaries with P2.4 million; and d) Cash for work – 16,001 beneficiaries with P33.0 million.


Supplemental feeding targets malnourished pre-schoolers 0-5 years old spending P12.50/child/day for 120 days. Social pension targets indigent senior citizens who are neglected and sickly with P400/month. Cash for work is in closed coordination with DPWH based on Memorandum of Agreement allocating five (5) percent of total work force in roads and bridges maintenance done by DSWD beneficiaries.

At the national level, 4’Ps program has reached 2.2 million families from a target of 5.2 million. The initial funding is P22 billion for the five (5) year poverty reduction program secured with a soft loan from the World Bank. However, due to the worsening poverty brought about by global recession, P39 billion must be expended in 2012. The exit strategy of the program actually depends on how successful, viable and sustainable income generating projects are under SEA-K.


The Kapit-bisig sa Kaunlaran Comprehensive Integrated Development Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) will improve the infra and social services for the poor. It will strengthen the capacity of local communities to lift themselves out of poverty. The Philippines is committed under the UN Millennium Development Goals to halve existing poverty incidence by 2013.


In conducting an objective assessment of the impact of 4P’s, it is pertinent to note NSCB’s report that only two (2) out of 1,000 Filipino families were lifted out of poverty between 2008 and 2009 and one (1) family per 100 was lifted out of food poverty between 2006 and 2009. At present, there is no verifiable report about the result accomplishment of 4P’s. Some skeptics abound however whether program could create a significant dent to an old age problem since Mexico with 10 times GDP than the Philippines failed miserably on her Conditional Cash Transfer to alleviate poverty. /MP

Chiz Considers Concerns On WVMC ‘Corporation’


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero assured, health workers and other sectors which will be affected by the proposed legislation seeking to convert the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) into a state corporation, he would heed their concerns in order to ensure the delivery of quality health service to the community.

"If indeed Senate Bill 2866 will adversely affect the service and be disadvantageous, we, as your mere representatives in the Senate, will always heed to what is best," Escudero said.
 

Under the proposed legislation, Escudero is seeking the corporatization of WVMC with San Joaquin Municipal Hospital as a subsidiary. The move is envisioned to give the former fiscal and management autonomy from the Department of Health (DOH).

Escudero at the same time encouraged the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) and other concerned sectors to convey to him their proposals on best ways to improve the medical facility and the delivery of health services.

The AHW has urged the national government to increase its subsidy to the hospital instead of converting it to a state corporation.
 

WVMC is a constant recipient of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some legislators from the province of Iloilo. It also receives additional financial assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. /MP

Thursday, October 13, 2011

EDITORIAL


Foreign Maids Snubbing Singapore


The new generation of Indonesian and Filipina maids, who are better educated and have a higher expectation of life, prefer to work in Hong Kong and Taiwan as their take-home pay is much higher due to minimal tax.


The era of cheap maids streaming into Singapore to find work, particularly from Indonesia and the Philippines, may be coming to an end.


With South-East Asia enjoying better living, Singaporeans - who are among the world’s biggest employers - may soon find this supply becoming scarcer and more expensive.


The new generation of Indonesians and Filipinas, including the rural women, is better educated and has a higher expectation in life.


Indonesia, in particular, has been growing at a steady pace during the past 20 years; and to a lesser extent, the Philippines, as well.


With the rise of global jobs and budget travel, their people have more job opportunities at home and abroad.


Many maids have become salesgirls, hairdressers, office assistants, thrown up by an expanding middle class.


More are seeking trainings to move into higher-paying jobs in healthcare, computers and tourism.


In a recent Buddhist funeral rite the monks performed had the help of a woman who hailed from Java served as assistant.


She had been with the troupe for nearly 10 years, speaking and chanting prayers in Chinese.


On the last night, she was helped by a second lady, a Filipino woman.


Their salaries were several times higher than what a maid would get. Globalisation never ceases to amaze!


In Singapore, many employers do not realize the extent of some of these changes in the region.


The older ones still see the maid as an unchanging person left behind by progress, an agency representative said.


"They don’t realise there is a big difference between the young maids who come abroad today and those who arrived a generation earlier," she added.


It is not unlike the gap between two generations of Singaporeans, she said.


Today’s maid from the Philippines or Indonesia is no longer the same as older ones who came in the 1970s or 1980s.


She is generally better schooled, has higher ambition and is probably less deferential to orders rudely given.


The agency representative once said: "You can’t work her like you could her mother!"


Dwindling supply is, however, not the only worry. For years, they have been losing the competitive edge against Hong Kong and Taiwan employers because of a special S$345 (US$265) monthly levy they need to pay for hiring a maid.


This means that, although the monthly costs add up about the same for the three countries, the maid in Singapore takes home only half of what she gets elsewhere.


Effectively, a maid who works in Hong Kong and Taiwan has a much higher take-home pay because the tax is minimal.


For example, a fresh Indonesian maid currently earns Singapore (S)$380-$400 a month, depending on age and experience. It is higher than the official recommended salaries of S$280-$320 a month.


The first blow to the employers here was harder-and-costlier-to-get English-speaking Filipinos, who are widely sought after in not only Asia but also in the Middle East.


When the Manila embassy demanded a minimum pay of about S$520 a month, many employers turned to Indonesia. Today, the circle has turned.


Many Indonesians who have completed a two-year contract are quick to move to Hong Kong and Taiwan, where their earnings just about doubled.
A Javanese girl who has learned enough English to leave, told a friend:

"Sorry ma’am, in Hong Kong I can earn in 12 months what it takes two years to make in Singapore."


She uses a smart-phone and aspires to buy a tablet. "I can’t afford that in Singapore," she added. Her sister had worked in Bahrain and is now going home to open a small restaurant there.


This trend is inevitable and a long time coming. In the early 80s, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had warned that the easy supply of maids would dry up once the neighbours became more prosperous.


The pace of arrivals has matched, as well as fuelled, Singapore’s economic growth.


By 1988, there were 40,000 of them, the figure rose four-folds to 160,000 by 2005 and 201,000 last year. The number of Indonesian maids alone today totals 90,000.


Seven in 10 new arrivals are from its hinterland. In recent years the pressure has forced Singaporeans to seek maids from Myanmar, India and Bangladesh.


"I doubt if these countries can train enough maids to meet our demand," an agent told a reporter.


The noose of high cost is steadily tightening. The Philippine government has stipulated a minimum salary of about S$500 a month, which turned the demand to Indonesia. And now the wheel turns again.


Jakarta wants to see a minimum of S$450 as a starting monthly pay - and employers and the government are reluctant to comply.


Recently, the govern-ment fined 16 employment agencies more than S$150,000 for collectively fixing the pay of new Indonesian maids, raising it from S$380 to S$450.


They were charged under the city’s price-fixing laws, turning down arguments that the hike was a necessary market response to free up supply of maids.


A Jakarta official reportedly indicated his government may be considering cutting off supply to Singapore - until it agrees on the minimum pay of S$450 a month.


That could bring the cost of a maid to about S$900-S$1,000 all-in-a monthly sum that could push out many Singa-poreans from the market.


With the global trends moving at such fast pace, the history of the maid in South-East Asia may end in the longer term. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer


Ambrosio R. Villorente

Farmers Cry For Typhoon Ramon


Ramon passed by Aklan on October 12 and PAGASA raised Signal No. 1 in Panay Island including Aklan. Due to heavy rains, schools held no classes. Some businessmen and office workers just stayed home.


On the other hand, farmers went out to the field to protect and save their crops. Good for livestock farmers raising swine and poultry because their projects are placed in buildings with strong materials to withstand strong wind and deep floods. For rice farmers, only God can help them for their rice crops are immobile and vulnerable to strong wind and deep flood.


Those fruit farmers can just pray to Almighty God so that fruit trees like Lanzones, Rambutan, bananas, Durian, and even coconut trees are not toppled by forceful wind.
The fish farmers raising cultured fish like prawn, tilapia, and milkfish are also exposed to inclement weather while visiting their fishfarms to institute remedial measures to protect their dikes from erosion and prevent the overflow of stocks.


Will the consumers realize the difficulties our food producers undergo to produce food for the Filipinos? If they will only sympathize the losses and hardships farmers undergo, they should pay the prices of foods without too much bargaining. Farmers deserve to gain from their difficulties in producing our food.

A farm expert said: "When a farmer produces bumper crop, everybody is happy. When a farmer incurs crop losses and damages, he cries alone". Are you capable to sympathize with the farmer by paying premium price to his produce? If not and the intolerable limit is reached, the farmer might see the red light and therefore stops farming. He will vanish in the strong wind. Who will produce our food?


Will Arroyo Do A Shinawatra?


With the possibility raised that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband could be in jail on nonbailable charges by Christmas, some lawmakers are wondering whether the couple will do "a Thaksin" or "an Erap".


"They may likely do a Thaksin," said Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao.


"The possibility [of seeking political asylum] is strong considering that the charges against them, ranging from plunder to electoral sabotage, are nonbailable offenses," he said.


Aggabao was referring to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, who went into exile in 2009 after being convicted under his successor’s administration.


To gain political asylum, Arroyo will claim that she and her family are victims of "political persecution," Aggabao said.


"The United States will be a safe bet [for asylum]. Surely they have friends at the US State Department developed over the years she was President," he said.


But Rep. Rodel Batocabe of the partylist group Ako Bicol reckoned that Arroyo would tread the path taken by ousted President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, who faced charges even if it meant being detained for years.


Estrada, who was deposed in 2001, was eventually convicted of plunder and immediately pardoned by Arroyo. He ranked second in the 2010 presidential election.

"I don’t think they will seek asylum. As former President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is cognizant of her place in history," Batocabe said. (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) /MP

Aklan SP Opposes PSALM’s Petition To Compel Electricity Consumers To Pay NAPOCOR’s Debts


by RICHIE D. OLOROSO


The Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) expressed strong opposition of the Aklanons against the petition of the Power Sector Asset and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) filed with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to charge all electricity consumers of the unpaid debts of the now defunct National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) which is reportedly at several hundreds billions of pesos. The opposition is expressed in Resolution No. 2011-253.


Sponsored by Board member Selwyn C. Ibarreta, the SP stressed in the said resolution that approval of the petition of PSALM by the ERC is tantamount to yielding to the crooked idea. It is unfair to pay or recover from the electricity consumers the debts, the liabilities, losses and subsidies incurred by the then NAPOCOR due to mismanagement, wrong national government policy and the miscarriage of the true intent of privatizing the energy sector, and in the sale of its assets.


PSALM’s petition with ERC is docketed as Case No. 2011-092 RC filed on June 25, 2011. PSALM has sought provisional authority from the ERC to immediately implement by charging and collecting from the electricity consumers starting this year.
Stranded debts refer to any financial obligations of the NAPOCOR which have not been liquidated by the proceeds from the sales and privatization of the NAPOCOR assets.


Power Aklan Chief Convenor, lawyer Romeo Inocencio, said why should the Filipino people be punished for the inefficiency and mismanagement of the then state owned giant electric corporation?


Inocencio said then the proposal/petition is not only irrational but also oppressive as PSALM had sold NAPOCOR assets at virtually giveaway prices. /MP